23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. L. R. JOHNSON presented a petition from certain electors of New South Wales praying that the House will repeal the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act 1960 on the ground that (a) it represents an intrusion into the privacy of telephonic communications and (b) establishes a precedent for the dissipation of other wellestablished rights and freedoms.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. In the light of the admission by the Treasurer in a television interview during the week-end that the Commonwealth Parliament lacks the legislative powers, which are available to other national parliaments, to take more orthodox economic measures to deal with the credit and investment crisis now facing Australia, and in view of the current disagreement between the Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament on a money bill, of which the Government is no doubt fully aware, will the right honorable gentleman give the people an opportunity to implement the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee set up by this Parliament some four and a half years ago to investigate problems such as the economic ones now confronting us; and, if he intends to do so, will he arrange for the necessary referendum to be held as soon as is constitutionally possible next year?
– The first part of the honorable member’s question is clearly related to a matter of very high policy, and is not a suitable subject to raise at question time. I point out to the honorable gentleman that if he is interested in preserving the positron of the House of Representatives in the constitutional structure with regard to major financial measures, he might well address himself to his own side of the
Parliament. It is not without remarkable significance that the Labour Party, which claims to assert the financial authority of this House, permitted or instructed all of its members in the Senate to vote in exactly the opposite direction.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral indicate when an announcement will be made on the frequencies that will be available for country television services? In the likely event of the essential thirteen channels being found in the very high frequency television band, necessarily involving displacement of the amateur radio reservations in that band, will the Minister give an undertaking that equally extensive and useful alternative frequencies will be made available to the amateurs?
– Within a week 1 intend to issue a statement, a copy of which will be sent to all honorable members, relating to frequency allocations, sites and so on, so that honorable members will be kept in touch with developments in this phase of television. I have been informed by Professor Huxley, who is chairman of the frequency review committee, that the thirteen channels in the very high frequency band, which we have been seeking for television, will be available. In my statement I shall give greater detail than I am giving now because I am still awaiting information from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on how those channels will be allocated. Nevertheless, the matter is proceeding satisfactorily. I have been informed that the future requirements of television will be met in the very higi frequency band. The actual allocation of frequencies to various stations is a matter to which the board is now applying itself.
– Is the Treasurer aware that in addition to retrenchments in the motor vehicle industry in South Australia the firm of Pope Industries Limited has just announced the dismissal of 200 factory employees as a direct result of the Government’s economic policy? Were these industrial repercussions expected when the Government’s policy was formulated? If they were not, will the Treasurer consider urgently a re-appraisal of the policy in order to ensure full employment?
– The employment aspects of this question could more appropriately have been addressed to my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service. I have not yet had the opportunity to study the remarks of Sir Barton Pope, but I understand that the firm’s slogan is that it grows big with Australia. I am glad that this firm has prospered during the eleven years in which this Government has been in office.
The honorable gentleman has asked whether the general employment situation will remain satisfactory. I remind him that according to the last published figures the number of work vacancies recorded was in excess by some 15,000 of the number of applicants for employment recorded at that time. In New South Wales and Victoria the number of applicants was only one-half the number of vacancies recorded, and it is well known that in the engineering and building industries there has been an acute shortage of labour for some time. I am confident that although the measures which have been adopted by the Government should have some steadying effect on the economy generally, there will be ample opportunities in the future for sustaining employment in this country, as has been the case during this Government’s term of office.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can he inform me why the fruitgrowers’ organizations were not made acquainted with the provisions of the Apple and Pear Organization Bril, why the additional representation was given to Tasmania and why the bill provides for the Tasmanian State Fruit Board, instead of the growers, to have the power to appoint three representatives, especially as these appointments are for three years?
– We debated that question as recently as Thursday of last week, when there was ample time to have questions such as this fully answered. I think it must be a well-known fact that Tasmania supplies the bulk - in fact over 60 per cent. - of the fruit exported overseas. Even with the extra representative, which will increase its membership from two to three, Tasmania will have only 37 per cent, of the representation of the producers, and I think Tasmania is rightly entitled to the extra representative. In reply to the honorable member’s question as to why the organizations were not consulted, I point out that the representations came to me from the organizations purporting to represent the industry. Indeed, on the matter of the increase of the levy from 2d. to 6d., all the State organizations expressed their opinions, and all - with the exception of Western Australia, which was in agreement with an increase, although not to the extent that the bill provided - were in agreement with the proposal.
– Is the Treasurer aware of recent statements by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada wherein both claim that the dominant role that foreign investment has assumed in some basic industries in that country is proving most damaging to Canada’s economy? Is it correct that the Australian Government is following a policy of foreign investment that appears to be similar to that followed by previous governments in Canada, and in relation to which Mr. Diefenbaker now expresses strong concern and opposition? In the light of Canadian experience of foreign investment in that country, will the Treasurer explain how Australia can hope to escape the same adverse effects on its economy when our policy on this subject appears to be similar in all respects to that which previous Canadian governments followed?
– To deal comprehensively with the question asked by the honorable gentleman would take an even longer statement than the question itself. But I would say to him that there are quite significant differences between the situation in Australia and that in Canada which, on the honorable member’s references, has been giving concern to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Deputy Governor of the Bank of
Canada. In the first place, a very much bigger proportion of foreign investment has occurred in Canada than has been the case in Australia, most of it being from the United States of America, and that has given the United States of America a preponderant influence in the economic development of Canada. In this country our overseas investment is very much more diversified and very much smaller in degree. Australia has gained considerably not only through the resources which have come here as the result of the flow into Australia of overseas investment, but also from technical capacity and know-how; and I am quite certain that we can regard this as having been completely advantageous to us up to the present time. In saying that, I am not without an awareness of some of the problems which can arise from foreign investment on a scale which cannot comfortably be absorbed. I do not think that we in Australia have yet reached that position, by a long way.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to his statement that the first advance on wheat for the 1960-61 crop will be lis. per bushel, less freight, payable in two instalments - the first of 9s., less freight, and the second of 2s., on 1st April next. In view of the fact that rail freight is not incurred until the wheat is transported from sidings to ports, will the Minister consider transferring the deduction of this freight charge from the first instalment of 9s. to the second instalment of 2s., payable in April?
– As to whether the Government would consider taking the freight charges out of the second advance of 2s. instead of the first advance of 9s. a bushel, the honorable gentleman ought not to be too optimistic. The Government has formulated its policy on this point, and takes the view that, since we have preserved the advance to the growers at lis. a bushel overall, the growers may well be expected to make the proposed contribution in the interests of relieving existing inflationary pressures. That is more particularly so seeing that we have given favorable consideration to the export primary industries in every instance, when making policy decisions, in that we have not penalized them with credit restrictions or increased interest rates.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister for the Army. Do the Australian Regular Army and the Regular Army Special Reserve personnel both receive equal compensation when retrenchments are carried out under the plan for the reorganization of the Army? Do the same rules and regulations apply to both sections during the rehabilitation period of the members retrenched? Is the Minister aware that much discontent prevails among R.A.S.R. personnel, especially the older members, over the methods being used by the Department of the Army? Will the Minister have a statemet prepared clarifying the situation and informing all ranks how the regulations will apply?
– The honorable member is referring to the Special Reserve, the members of which are members of the Regular Army but are employed on a temporary basis - for three years instead of, as in the Regular Army, six years. It was not considered that members of the Special Reserve who might be affected by this re-organization could be dealt with in the same way as members working under a permanent contract. So the members of the Special Reserve are not covered by the legislation which was passed last week.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics now dumping Cuban sugar on the world market at two-thirds of the previous price for sugar on that market? Are the colonial satellites of the Soviet empire being used as the agents in this matter? Can the Minister for Trade give the House any information about the recent sale of sugar b” Bulgaria to Jordan?
– I have no official information at all on this matter although I am aware that a certain publication has claimed that sugar bought by the Soviet from Cuba has been sold by Bulgaria to
Jordan at a price lower than the prevailing world price. I can only express the hope that this is not so because, of all the international commodity agreements that have been aimed at or achieved, none has been so successful as the International Sugar Agreement, nor has any other commodity been accorded the same co-operative attention by the Communist countries that sugar has been accorded. The Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary are all members of the International Sugar Agreement, and I would be surprised if, in fact, in face of their participation in that agreement, there was deliberate Communist action which could result in breaking the agreement.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade. Is it correct to say that as a result of the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore from Australia, Japan is arranging to purchase considerable quantities, and that a mission to complete negotiations will come here early next year? Will Japan pay for this iron ore by exporting to Australia more textiles, crockery, electrical equipment and other goods that will endanger Australia’s industries and employment while increasing our balance of payments difficulties? If this is not so, how will Japan pay for iron ore?
– In short, Japan would pay for iron ore, if she bought any, in the same way as Japan pays for wool, and that is by settlement in currency of international convertibility. There is no barter arrangement and no balancing of trade. It is well known that Japan has been buying from Australia very much more than Australia has bought from Japan. Settlement, of course, is made from the reserves of internationally convertible currency held by Japan, and this is the way that we settle for goods we purchase from countries with which we have an adverse balance of trade. The policies in respect of the conditional lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore are not within my jurisdiction; they are within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for National Development. But I do make the point, as my colleague would, I am sure, wish me to make, that the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore to this extent is completely unrelated to any trade discussions with Japan. It is a decision taken in what the Government conceives to be the interests of the Australian people. It is believed that if the opportunity is taken to sell a portion of small deposits, the whole of very small deposits or a proportion of newly discovered deposits, in all probability there will be an intensification of prospecting for iron ore, and this will reveal the existence in Australia of much larger deposits than those of which we have full knowledge at present. There will be no increase in the import of textiles or any other Japanese products as the outcome of this policy.
– (My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In his reply to the honorable member for Flinders a few moments ago, he implied that the growers had made representations regarding both the membership of the Australian Apple and Pear Board and the levy. Is the Minister aware that, although the Australian Apple and Pear Growers’ Association met only last Wednesday, the day on which the bill to implement this proposal was brought into the House, none of the delegates was aware of the proposal to increase Tasmania’s membership until after he had received the Minister’s second-reading speech? In view of the fact that the Government’s policy has always been to discuss such matters with the industry before making any change, will the Minister consider holding the legislation over pending discussion with mainland growers?
– I have had brought to my notice a statement similar to that made by the honorable member. Regarding the levy, representations were made to me officially by the Australian Apple and Pear Board, on which all States have producers’ representatives and exporters’ representatives. Those representations were supported by the Tasmanian Government. Am I to assume that the representatives on the Australian Apple and Pear Board are not in contact with their industry? It was from this source that the application came, and it was duly supported. Frankly, in regard to grower representation on the board, I cannot understand the reason for any opposition that there may be to Tasmania getting fairer representation. For instance, exporters from Western Australia have made representations against the bill. Western Australian exporters have a representative on the board, as have exporters in Tasmania, and exporters in the other four States have one representative between them. Since over 60 per cent, of the apples and pears exported by this country comes from Tasmania alone, surely producers in that State are entitled to three out of eight producer representatives on the Australian Apple and Pear Board.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by directing attention to the new proposal for treating interest on debentures and registered notes in the same way as dividends are treated for taxation purposes. 1 point out that interest charged on bank overdrafts is to be excluded from this kind of treatment. What measures does the Government propose to take to prevent banks from channelling to their respective hire-purchase subsidiaries a good deal of the funds at present made available on overdraft?
– A measure covering the proposal to which the honorable gentleman refers will be introduced by me later to-day. I think that questions of this sort could be more usefully discussed at the committee stage of that bill.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that a high percentage of farm machinery, motor vehicles and the like purchased in rural areas is bought under some form of hirepurchase agreement, will the Treasurer consider increasing the tax deduction of £10,000 “ or in some cases a lesser amount “ which is allowable to hirepurchase companies in respect of interest on money borrowed, provided that the additional loans which such action would permit are used exclusively for primary production, thereby encouraging and not discouraging the very valuable primary industries?
– I point out that the £10,000 deduction to which the honorable gentleman refers is not likely to be of very great consequence to existing hirepurchase companies, except perhaps to some very small organizations. This measure will have a currency of only one year, and a company will have a right to deduct interest on borrowings up to the equivalent of its borrowings in the financial year 1959-60, or in the current financial year up to 15th November if that rate of borrowing proves to be higher. I should think that if a company were willing to make funds available to rural borrowers this measure would not seriously handicap it or hinder it from doing that. The companies concerned have yet to explain fully to us why they find it necessary in these circumstances, as apparently one or two have publicly announced, to reduce lendings to rural borrowers and home purchasers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Has any assessment been made of the effects of the recently reported sharp increase in imports on consignment? Has this activity neutralized the effects of measures taken by the Government to damp down the flow of imports?
– This is a matter that is constantly kept under examination in banking and government circles. I assure the honorable member that it is being watched.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, and is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Adelaide. Can the Minister confirm the accuracy of Sir Barton Pope’s statement that the retrenchments undertaken by his firm are due to the Government’s economic measures?
– I think it is wise, in the interests of both employees and shareholders in companies, that no exaggerated or provocative statements should be made about lay-offs, or probable lay-offs. I do know that some part of the lay-offs by Pope Industries Limited was planned well before October, and lay-offs did, in fact, commence shortly afterwards.
I have already stated in this House that I think it is much too early yet for any one to claim that action being taken by such companies is the result of action taken by the Government. I emphasize that I wish it to be clearly understood that I do not think exaggerated or provocative statements should be made, as such statements must be contrary to the interests of both the workers and the shareholders in the companies.
– In view of the fact that one decentralized industry has already closed in my electorate and that another is likely to close because of the flood of imports, I ask the Minister for Trade whether he will review the Government’s import policy and take such action as is necessary to preserve our decentralized industries, as well as employment in Australia and our balance of payments position abroad.
– If the honorable member, who I know concerns himself with the wellbeing of his own electorate, would allow me to have some particulars of the case he has in mind, I should be glad to study them.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he is aware of the very large outlay on printed matter which flows from the eastern States to Western Australia due to the centralized printing of Australian requirements by Commonwealth departments and statutory and semi-statutory authorities. Being confident that the skill of the master printers of Western Australia, and the advantage of the freight factor, fully warrant this suggestion, I ask the Treasurer whether he will investigate the proposal that Commonwealth departments and authorities in Perth should have their printing done locally.
– I shall examine the question put by the honorable member, and study whether it is practicable to have some of the printing decentralized in the manner he suggests.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he is in a position to inform the Parliament of the bona fides or otherwise of the North American Vending Machine Company which has encouraged substantial investment by Australians. I should like to point out that one of my constituents, who invested £150 in this company, was told recently that further interest payments have been suspended pending an investigation of the company by an investigator appointed by the Governor in Council in Tasmania. I ask the Treasurer whether the Commonwealth Government has any control over the operations of such companies. Further, what would be the position of those who have invested in this company should it be declared insolvent or fraudulent?
– I have no personal knowledge of the matter to which the honorable member referred, but I do believe that if it is necessary that action be taken for the protection of shareholders, that would be a matter, in the first instance, for the Tasmanian Government in its administration of the company law of that State.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Air by stating that he will no doubt recall previous discussions I have had with him, in company with the honorable member for Newcastle and the honorable member for Shortland, in connexion with the Morna Point bombing range. Can the Minister give any indication as to when the Royal Australian Air Force will vacate this bombing range?
– I do recall the discussions that I have had with the honorable member for Lyne, and other honorable members who represent electorates in the Newcastle area, over the Morna Point bombing range. It is absolutely essential for an operational establishment such as the R.A.A.F. base at Williamtown to have a bombing range near by. This area of shifting sandhills at the northern end of the Stockton Bight has been in use as a bombing range since early in World War II. Acknowledging that it is undesirable that such activities should continue in an area in which population is growing and on which people are encroaching, my department is seeking a more suitable location. Some areas have been surveyed and are being examined. I must emphasize to the honorable member, though, that for the
Royal Australian Air Force to cease using this area as a bombing range will not remove the very real dangers that exist for people encroaching on the land, because inevitably unexploded bombs, rockets and shells are left behind on these ranges. What can be done to minimize this danger is being examined by my department, but I urge everybody interested in the area to keep very strongly in mind the danger of going into it.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are soon to cease production of penicillin and insulin, and that many of the employees will join those of the aircraft industry and the motor car industry on the labour market. Also, is it a fact that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have been reduced almost to bankruptcy under their present management, and that this and the proposal to stop production of penicillin and insulin are part of a plan to sell out the laboratories to an American chemical monopoly?
– I understand the honorable gentleman’s vested interest in misery, but let me tell him that his question is couched in greatly exaggerated terms. It is true that, owing to the large stocks of penicillin and insulin which are held, the production of those items will be greatly diminished at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. It is quite untrue that there is any intention to sell the laboratories, as was made perfectly plain by the Government earlier this year. Sir, these are the normal trading activities of any business. Once you have a surplus of any product it is useless to increase that surplus. I answered a question in this House the other day in which I indicated that the laboratories were exploring methods of producing other penicillins. The activities of the laboratories will be carried on, but they will be carried on on a sensible basis.
– Would the Prime Minister be willing to call a special conference of State leaders in order to establish a comprehensive and exact list of State works of great national importance in order of priority and apart from Australian Loan Council arrangements so that a fair allocation of Commonwealth assistance may be planned for works deserving special grants or loans?
– The honorable member does well to direct attention to the problem of priorities in these matters. The Government already has before it several proposals in respect of which we are endeavouring to work out some such idea. As to whether it may be practicable or useful to have a special conference on this matter, I have some doubts, and I reserve my judgment on that point.
– I desire to ask thu Prime Minister a question concerning the secret reports which have been made concerning the capacities and characteristics of officers in the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labour and National Service every six months over the last three years. I ask the right honorable gentleman why public servants are not allowed to see and comment on these reports in the same way as officers in the armed services are permitted to do this in relation to the annual confidential reports which are made on them. If there is to be an extension of the system of staff reporting, as recommended by the Boyer committee, will the Prime Minister see that public servants are given the same opportunity as commissioned officers to sight such reports, and thus to act in order to counter any prejudice by their superiors or to improve their own standards?
– As T am not familiar with the procedures in these matters in the two departments referred to. I would be glad to have an opportunity to find out what the rules are and to pay some attention then to what the honorable member has said.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration concerning the many immigrants from South Africa who have come to Australia recently hoping that their families may be able to join them within a reasonable time. Is the Minister aware that shipping between South Africa and Australia is very poor and immigrants are finding that passages cannot be booked for some years? As air passages are so costly, will the Department of Immigration explore the possibility of special shipping arrangements to enable families to be reunited in Australia?
– As my honorable friend from Swan has said, there is some difficulty because of the paucity of shipping services between South Africa and Australia which affects the immigration of South Africans to Australia. As I told one of his colleagues a few weeks ago in answer to a similar question, last year I wrote to the chairman of one of the great British shipping companies in London and inquired whether there would be any possibility of more British ships being put on the route to Australia via South Africa in order to accommodate more of those people desiring to come here. As the honorable member will be aware, these matters are not strictly within the province of this Government. We can ask, but we cannot command. All I hope is that the British lines, or perhaps some foreign lines if the British companies are not willing to do so, will see fit to send their ships now and again via South Africa to cater for what may well be a growing passenger trade between South Africa and Australia.
– Will the Minister for the Interior ascertain what plans are in hand or under consideration for the provision of amenities, or for improvements and development generally, in the villages of Tharwa and Hall and the isolated suburb of Oaks Estate? In particular, will the Minister inquire into the possibility of housing development in those three centres? Will he ascertain whether a water supply can be provided for Hall and a sewerage service for Oaks Estate, and will he make an announcement on these subjects?
– The answer is. “ Yes “.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that oil companies are at present endeavouring to obtain authority for the development of additional refineries in the historic Kurnell Peninsula in close proximity to the landing place of Captain Cook? Has he yet had an opportunity to visit Kurnell, the birthplace of European civilization in Australia? If not, will he take the first opportunity to do so? Will the right honorable gentleman examine the possibility of the Commonwealth acquiring a substantial part of the land there for dedication as a national park and sanctuary, and so preserve this historic spot and lovely bushland area for the everlasing benefit of all Australians?
– I shall be very glad to have a look into this suggestion.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that wheat-growers are entitled by virtue of established custom to expect wheat payments to be made this year in the same form as in previous years? Is the Minister aware of the fact that many growers are finding difficulty in meeting their commitments and will be seriously affected by the splitting of the first payment?
– The record crop we are about to receive of 224,000,000 bushels, as estimated by the Australian Wheat Board, together with the fact that we had a carryover of 62,000,000 bushels at the end of last month, which is the end of the wheat year, mean that we shall have a record tonnage of wheat to sell. In fact, we shall have about 286,000,000 bushels on hand when this season’s crop is in. I want the honorable member to understand that this Government is sympathetically disposed towards the industry. This is demonstrated by the fact that, in spite of the huge quantity of wheat that will be on hand, the Government has arranged to make an advance payment of lis. to the industry, which is the same as the advance payment last year. The first payment, however, will be at 9s. a bushel, but this will require £5,000,000 more than the total first payment made last year which, as the honorable member knows, was at the rate of lis. a bushel. I think the Government did well to arrange finance to enable an advance payment of lis. to be made, even though the growers will have to wait until 1st April next for the other 2s. a bushel.
– by leave - Honorable members will recall that in August last legislation was introduced into the Parliament to enable temporary duties to be imposed to accord interim protection to an industry whilst its case for new or increased protection is being considered under the normal Tariff Board machinery. This legislation was necessary to provide relief to an industry which could demonstrate that, unless holding action were taken, it would suffer serious damage pending the normal inquiry and report by the Tariff Board.
After receiving representations from a panel representing the manufacturers of flax canvas, I referred to the Tariff Board on 2nd November, 1960, for advice by a deputy chairman the question whether temporary assistance should be granted to the industry. In his report the deputy chairman has concluded that the industry would not suffer serious damage before the board’s report, resulting from its full inquiry, could be received and considered by the Government. The Government has accepted the deputy chairman’s recommendation and, accordingly, action will not be taken to accord interim protection to the flax canvas industry.
Typed copies of this report have been circulated for the information of honorable members. I lay on the table the following paper: -
Tariff Board - Report of Deputy Chairman - Flax Canvas Industry - and move -
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I do not propose in this statement to endeavour to deal with the whole field of foreign affairs. Time would not permit of such an exercise. But I think it might be useful to say something about certain of the key points, and to isolate, for purposes of discussion, some of the points of danger.
There is really not very much new to be said about the relations between the Soviet Union and the Western world, though I will take the opportunity of setting down something about the great problem of disarmament. I think that it has been the general view of honorable members that some good, and perhaps much good, might come of a Summit meeting. As we know, this failed to materialize in May, since when there have been allegations and counterallegations for the reason of the failure. 1 remain optimistic about the chances of securing a Summit meeting. It will be remembered that when I moved in that direction at the recent General Assembly, I was supported by three of the four nuclear powers - the United States, Great Britain and France - and not opposed by the fourth - the Soviet Union.
After these events, Mr. Khrushchev told me personally that he favoured a Summit meeting and indicated that he thought that first and foremost disarmament, and then other matters such as the Berlin problem, the position of Germany, and nuclear tests could usefully be discussed. No one of us will suppose that a Summit meeting could solve all the outstanding problems; but we would hope that it could make a start and in that way begin to melt the ice which clogs up international relations so much.
Meanwhile, within the Communist world itself, there are clear signs of strain between the Soviet Union and Communist China. It seems clear that they do not entirely agree on broad Communist policy. The Soviet Union has adopted the policy of peaceful co-existence, meaning by this, to be perfectly plain about it, that it does not desire to resort to war as the direct instrument foi forwarding the Communist cause, but that it prefers the weapons of propaganda, tied economic aid, and internal subversion. It appears that Communist China, on the other hand, is disposed to reject the idea of peaceful co-existence and to pursue the classical Communist belief that in the struggle against capitalism, violence remains the vital instrument.
– Who said that?
– I said it just now. When I make a reference to the Communists there are always one or two honorable members whom I do not expect to agree with me. Most people will, however.
A meeting of Communist Parties was recently held in Moscow, at which we assume, and indeed have reason to believe, that an attempt was made to resolve these disagreements. The official communique, of course, says nothing of disagreements, but such indications as we have suggest that the Sino-Soviet differences may not have been resolved.
Having said this, I simply indicate that in the course of my present statement I will say something about developments in Africa, with particular reference to Nigeria, the Congo and South Africa; something about the two immediate trouble spots in South-East Asia, Laos and South Viet Nam; and something about the position of West New Guinea, where potentially dangerous incidents appear to be either threatened or actually occurring.
There has, in the course of this year, been a remarkable development of new, independent nations in Africa, most of whom have already been admitted to the membership of the United Nations. We genuinely welcome these new nations and we look forward to developing and maintaining with them happy and helpful relations. With many of them, of course, we have had only the slightest of contact; but our knowledge of them will grow either through the United Nations or directly as the years go on. We have, of course, High Commissioners in Ghana and Nigeria, the two Commonwealth countries. We have also been represented at independence celebrations in such countries as Cameroun, Togo, Somalia, the Congo Republic, Mauritania and Malagasy.
The newest Commonwealth country, Nigeria, seems to me to afford a splendid example of how self-government should be achieved. It is a large country, the most populous of the African nations. It has the advantage of being led by men of uncommon training and distinction. It is noteworthy that already a Nigerian, the Economic Minister, has been chosen as chairman of the United Nations Reconciliation Commission to go to the Congo. Nigeria has been moving by stages towards complete self-government over a period of years and has therefore developed an efficient administrative machine. I believe that it will serve as a great stabilizing influence in a continent which is as yet unhappily vexed by some internal conflict. I have in mind, of course, the tragic events which have occurred in the Congo, to which I shall direct some specific attention a little later. But, before doing so, I would like to offer one or two, perhaps trite, remarks about most of the new African nations. They have gained political independence, which is a proud and dignified state of life. But some of them at least are not yet economically independent. This presents the world with a prob!e:n, the solution of which will call for wise and generous statesmanship. True political independence must be built on sound economic foundations; otherwise the nation may incur the risk of social discontent and disorder and perhaps invite unwelcome and undesirable intervention from outside. Such countries will need substantial economic and technical help to develop their economies and to strengthen their administrative system. Aid of this kind should be available “ without strings “. It would be offensive to these new nations to treat them as pawns in an international contest or as destined to pass into one orbit or another. Their independence must be genuine and the judgments they form on international relations or on association with other countries must be their own. So far the Australian Government is making some contribution through the United Nations technical assistance programmes which are being substantially increased, through other existing international programmes, and through the International Bank. In addition, we have already offered a number of fellowships and scholarships to African countries. A special course of foreign service training has been in progress during the past year in which young men from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Malaya and the West Indies have taken part. Commonwealth finance ministers decided in September to establish a special Commonwealth scheme for help to Commonwealth countries. Naturally the details of this scheme are not yet fully worked out.
Time will not premit me to speculate about future developments of nationhood in Africa though it is, of course, well known that political independence is not far off for Sierra Leone, Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya. I have learned to-day that the constitutional review conference of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland has just opened in London under the chairmanship of Mr. Macmillan. This conference will have the advantage of the patient and far-reaching examination recently conducted by the Monckton commission.
I turn now to the Congo. The situation in the Congo is still confused, difficult and dangerous. In his annual report to the United Nations, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations had a duty by “ preventive diplomacy “ - that is his phrase - to localize conflicts and to establish its presence in areas where there was a “ power vacuum “ - also his phrase - and where attempts by East or West to establish their influence would risk conflict.
By July such a situation arose in the Congo where the Belgian transfer of power was followed by violent disorders. The Congolese Government asked the United Nations to intervene to assure order, to supervise the withdrawal of the Belgians and to give material aid.
The Security Council on 14th July called on the Government of Belgium to withdraw its forces and gave a mandate to the Secretary-General to provide the Congo with military assistance until the national security forces might be able fully to meet their tasks. Later the Council unanimously paid tribute to the work of the SecretaryGeneral. On 9th August, it confirmed his authority while re-affirming that the United Nations force in the Congo would not be a party to any internal conflict, constitutional or otherwise. In the result, the United Nations has in fact been acting as a stabilizing force. As honorable members will recall, this was not to Mr. Khrushchev’s liking. By mid-September he had begun bitter attacks on United Nations operations in the Congo. In spite of this a special session of the General Assembly by a vote of 70 to nil, with only the Soviet bloc abstaining, fully supported the mandate given by the Security Council. In spite of this overwhelming vote, the Soviet Union has continued to attack the SecretaryGeneral and has refused to pay its proper share of the cost of the operations. The real reason for this Soviet attitude is not that the Secretary-General has acted under Western influence - he has been notably independent - but that the United Nations has shown in the Congo that it can bring together an effective force. By preventing chaos it has been a serious obstacle to Communist ambitions.
The United Nations is, of course, not the only means of solving domestic disorder which a State itself cannot settle. There may be occasions when a State may prefer to invoke the help of its neighbours or look to more distant friends for help in dealing with internal problems just as it is entitled to request support in its exercise of its inherent right of self-defence. But in the Congo, memories of colonial status are recent and neighbouring countries find themselves called upon to devote most of their resources to their own urgent development. If therefore in the case of the Congo we are to avoid a contest between opposing groups for influence through aid programmes, clearly all aid should be channelled through the United Nations.
The political and constitutional situation within the Congo rs still most unsettled. I will just mention one or two striking aspects of it. First, there is the position of Mr. Lumumba, who was Prime Minister when the Congo received its independence, but was subsequently dismissed by President Kasavubu. As honorable members are aware, the positron of Mr. Kasavubu has been recognized by the seating of his delegation in the General Assembly by 53 votes, including our own, to 24. The personal fate of Mr. Lumumba, who is now under arrest, appears to be at present a matter of great uncertainty, though he is still - technically, at any rate - a deputy in the Congolese Parliament. Secondly, the Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Mobutu, proclaimed the temporary “ neutralization “ - that is his word - of the Congolese Parliament and its political leaders and the establishment by him of a college of commissioners to administer the country pending the restoration of more normal government. Thirdly, there is the position of Mr. Tshombe, Prime Minister of Katanga Province, who does not accept the authority of Leopoldville but who, we hope, would co-operate in a united Congo, which badly needs the economic strength and resources of Katanga if it is to become selfsupporting. There have been similar tendencies in Kasai Province, which is also a relatively rich area.
There are hopes that the position may begin to clear. The General Assembly has appealed to the Congo to seek a speedy solution. A reconciliation commission has been established, consisting of a majority of the African and Asian members of the Secretary-General’s advisory committee. In addition to this, President Kasavubu himself has said that he envisages a “ roundtable conference “ of Congolese political leaders. The economic and administrative aspects of the problem are, of course, tremendously important. The United Nations military forces and technical task force have been hampered by the absence either of a suitable ministry or of the elements of a proper system of administration.
The General Assembly has appealed for voluntary contributions to a fund for the Congo for these purposes. Australia has great sympathy for this troubled country. We have already made a modest response to calls for specific practical help through medical teams and otherwise. We shall be prepared to meet our share of the cost of maintaining the United Nations forces which are in the Congo; at present they are of the order of 20,000 drawn from fourteen different countries. The costs of this force will be high. We have decided to make a contribution of 750,000 dollars to the United Nations Congo Fund. The great danger still is that this territory may become the centre of international rivalries. The Soviet Union and other meddlers have in their own hands the means of avoiding such a disaster.
I turn now to Commonwealth affairs - comrades, all round. There have been important developments affecting the Commonwealth. Nigeria is now a Commonwealth country and we have appointed a High Commissioner to Lagos. Cyprus has become an independent republic and may ask to become a member of the Commonwealth.
South Africa, at the recent referendum, decided to adopt a republican constitution. This has given rise to discussion about the effect of this step on South Africa’s continuing membership of the Commonwealth. In the past, the fact that a Commonwealth country has become a republic has not led to its exclusion from the Commonwealth. But feelings in many places run high about
South Africa and it is therefore desirable that the relationship between a Republic of South Africa and the Commonwealth should be considered quietly and carefully. Our own view is that it should be the subject of joint deliberation among the governments of the Commonwealth before individual government decisions are publicly stated. There will be a favorable opportunity for such consultation at the next Prime Ministers’ Conference. No doubt the position of Cyprus might be considered at the same time.
The whole question of the future constitution of the Commonwealth is clearly important and not without difficulty since we may expect over a relatively short period of years to have more British countries, now colonies, achieving independence and seeking admission to the Commonwealth. The questions involved received some attention at the last Prime Ministers’ Conference when an official committee was set up to study them. We will no doubt have further thought given to the matter in March.
I turn now to Laos. The preservation of Laotian independence is important both for its own sake and because the loss of Laos to communism would expose other SouthEast Asian countries to serious threat. With a population of probably not more than 2,500,000 and with long and vulnerable frontiers, Laos has struggled to maintain its integrity against constant pressures from Communist China and Communist North Viet Nam and against internal Pathet Lao insurgency. We believe that any government of Laos which desires to retain genuine independence has two tasks. The first is that, while maintaining a determination not to submit to communism, Laos should avoid giving its powerful Communist neighbours even the flimsiest excuse for interference. This is why neutrality as distinct from military alliances has seemed the only practical course for the country. The second task is that of settling the internal troubles. Some fighting between the forces of the government and of General Phoumi have already taken place. While the Government of Souvanna Phouma controls the administrative capital, Vientiane, anti-government but nonCommunist supporters of General Phoumi control the royal capital of Luang Prabang
This is’ the tragic situation. The Communists alone, working through the Pathet Lao, profit from the division and fighting between the non-Communists.
The imperative need inside Laos is for unity among non-Communists so that the real enemies of Laos and Laotian neutrality - the Communists - can be isolated and resisted. We have a deep interest in these matters. The maintenance of Laotian independence will be a symbol of a nation’s resistance to communism in Asia. An aggressive communism in Asia pressing out to the borders of the Asian continent represents a menace to us. Nobody would doubt that the result in Laos will be important to the security of countries like Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand, whose safety is one of the aims of the South-East Asian Treaty.
There are many current criticisms of the policy of the government of South Viet Nam on the ground that it is too authoritarian, too highly centralized, and that it is not undertaking necessary reforms. But I point out that reforms are not easy to introduce in the face of heavy Communist pressure. President Diem is beyond question a man of courage and resource. His Government is not only subject constantly to hostile propaganda from Hanoi but is also faced by greatly increased Communist insurgency throughout the countryside.
Recently the President survived an armed revolt from a small group within the army. It is, I think, important that we should have a sympathetic and intelligent interest in the difficulties which this country has struggled with since 1954. In order to maintain resistance and development, the republic has been obliged to maintain large armed forces. Its policy, to an extent which has been criticized, found it necessary to curtail the political liberties enjoyed in more fortunate countries. It has had to battle against rebels who are masters of guerrilla warfare. It has had to do all these things in a difficult terrain with large areas of swamp and jungle and with long and exposed frontiers.
I am sure that the resolution which the Vietnamese people have shown in these last six years, the increasing political experience of their leaders and continued Western aid and encouragement can carry the republic through its present difficulties.
The House has previously debated the Australian attitude towards the future of West New Guinea. The policy of the Government is well known and needs no re-statement. There are, however, two recent developments which should be recorded. The first is that the Prime Minister of Malaya, in a series of conversations in various countries, has been putting forward proposals with respect to the future of West New Guinea. He was good enough to convey to me the kind of thing he had in mind and I promptly conveyed to him the attitude of the Australian Government. Since the Prime Minister has not, so far as I know, published his proposals, I am not at liberty to disclose them. But I should say that I have made it clear that we adhere strongly to the principle that the future of the Territory should be one satisfying its inhabitants and determined in accordance with their freely expressed wishes. This principle is, of course, the basis of our own policy in Papua and New Guinea. Clearly it is also the basis of the Netherlands Government’s declared policy in its territory and of recent constitutional developments in both countries. In addition, I have made it clear that whatever discussions might in future occur between the Netherlands and Indonesia these should not be influenced by threats of force.
It is interesting to note that while abroad, the Prime Minister of Malaya had discussions at The Hague with Dr. de Quay, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. They issued a communique^ in these terms -
Talks were of an exploratory nature and were held in a very friendly atmosphere. The Netherlands Government greatly appreciates the activities and constructive interest in this matter on the part of Tunku Abdul Rahman. The Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya noted with satisfaction that the Netherlands Government are willing, to subject their policies in Netherlands New Guinea to the scrutiny and judgment of the United Nations. It was agreed that the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, who has already held similar talks on this issue with other governments as well as with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, would in the light of the outcome of these various talks consider whether at a later stage further talks might be useful. In such an event, he will inform the Netherlands Government accordingly.
Those were the terms of the communique. It is not to be taken from this communique that the Netherlands Government is offering to submit the question of sovereignty to the United Nations. It has made it quite clear that it is not doing so. Honorable members will recall that the Indonesian claim to sovereignty of West New Guinea has not been based primarily upon legal considerations. For this reason Indonesia has consistently declined to submit its claim to the International Court.
The second development is the recent landing of some Indonesians in West New Guinea. On 21st November the Netherlands Ministry of Home Affairs announced that a small armed group of Indonesians landed on the south-west coast of Dutch New Guinea in mid-November and some were apprehended. On 29th November the same Ministry announced that the Dutch Navy had intercepted and apprehended in waters around Dutch New Guinea an Indonesian vessel which was intended to supply an earlier group of infiltrators. There have been several reports of Indonesian public statements on these infiltrations, the most recent of which was by an official spokesman of the Indonesian Navy who on 2nd December, a few days ago, said, “So far as I know the Indonesian armed forces have never conducted infiltrations into” Netherlands New Guinea.
At the same time there have been several references by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Subandrio - whom many honorable members will recall as a distinguished visitor to Australia last year - to the possibility of an armed clash with the Netherlands in the future over West New Guinea. I have, of course, studied what Dr. Subandrio said. I hope that his remarks do not repudiate previous assurances given by both President Sukarno and Dr. Subandrio regarding the intentions of the Indonesian Government not to use force to obtain a solution of the dispute over West New Guinea. Indeed, Sir, I think I am right in saying that since I wrote those words earlier in the week there Isas been word confirming that he repeats that attitude.
On 4th December, in discussing these and related matters with the Australian Ambassador. Dr. Subandrio said that his comments to the Ambassador on recent events did not mean any change in the Indonesian policy of pursuing their claim by peaceful means.
There have been, of course, Sir, various Indonesian suggestions that the Dutch, by making some small reinforcement of their defences in West New Guinea, have acted provocatively. One has only to point out that the forces available to the Netherlands in West New Guinea are a tiny fraction of those actually under arms in Indonesia to show how unreal these allegations are.
We certainly have no evidence in fact or any reason to support the strange notion that the Netherlands proposes to launch an attack on Indonesia. Suggestions so fanciful do not help the understanding of the real nature of the problem.
Finally, Sir, I turn to the problem of disarmament. Australians share the almost universal concern at the continued increase in armaments, including nuclear armaments. There is a sort of psychological control present when nuclear weapons are, as at present, confined to four nations. But there will no doubt be a constant pressure so long as the threat of war exists to have such weapons made available to other nations.
We believe that if the number of countries possessing such weapons were substantially increased, or if they fell into irresponsible hands, the world would live in a state of great dread. The threat to use them could indeed become a weapon of blackmail in pursuit of territorial or other gains. As I have frequently said myself, armaments are much more the result than the cause of international tension.
I should like to remind honorable members that one of the great causes of tension in the Western world is the continued enslavement of the once free powers of middle Europe by the Soviet Union. It would, I think, be idle to suppose that the making of some agreement, leading even to a substantial reduction in armaments, can bring genuine peace to Europe or reconcile the enslaved nations to their slavery.
Disarmament is therefore a matter to be approached not as an exercise in rhetoric, or as a piece of detached idealism, but as a hard, practical matter. We have ourselves emphasized that disarmament in the nuclear field alone would not end the threat of war, but might very well increase it since the Communist powers have such predominance in conventional weapons and forces. Disarmament must occur in all fields, and as it proceeds be accompanied at all stages by full inspection and control.
It is, of course, impossible to discover what is the real aim of a dictatorship since it is subject to no probing or questions of public opinion and does not have to engage in democratic debate. We are, therefore, without the means of answering confidently any question about what is in Mr. Khrushchev’s mind. It is permissible to believe that his stated desire for disarmament may be to a point genuine. He is engaged in some raising of the standard of living of his own people; in certain branches of science and technology his country has made great strides. The more these results are achieved, the more criticism will begin to evolve inside the Soviet Union and the more resentment there may be at the vast size of the burden of armaments and the enormous concentration of what, after all, must be limited scientific resources on warlike affairs.
On the other hand, Khrushchev can see great advantages for his own country in its struggle for power if he can divide his opponents, persuade their people that the Soviet Union genuinely desires disarmament, and so create in them an unwillingness to sustain the necessary burdens. It is, Sir, to put it quite shortly, all very confusing.
One reason I have for believing that there is more propaganda than substance in the Soviet view is that at the last Assembly Khrushchev himself, having previously ordered his representatives out from the Ten-Power Disarmament Committee in June, came along to the General Assembly to advocate that there should be a negotiation on disarmament in the General Assembly. This, I think, threw a murky light on his tactics. Nobody with a genuine desire for concrete negotiations on disarmament could think the General Assembly, with its 100 delegations - meaning not less than 1,000 delegates and alternates - an appropriate meeting ground for genuine negotiation. This great problem requires deliberation, reflection, honest exchange. It can be negotiated only in a body of limited numbers.
That what T will call the Western Powers desire disarmament is quite clear. The whole Western social, political and economic system depends for its success on peace. Its free institutions and the free spirit of its people are not well suited to having a sustained “ cold war “. Yet, we cannot disarm unilaterally, nor can we be directly or indirectly parties to any disarmament agreement unless we know that it contains sufficiently strong means of inspection and control as to make us not entirely dependent on Soviet good faith. The Western Powers will insist that while they are disarming they must be able to see that others are also doing so. This means not only being able to see how many weapons are being destroyed, but also how many remain behind. Because of the secrecy surrounding Communist military capacity and intentions, and because of the lack of confidence now existing, the West has always insisted on proper supervision to be ready to operate when disarmament begins and to apply it as it proceeds. This, Sir, is “ disarmament with controls “, not, as the Communist professes to believe, “ controls without disarmament “.
Attempts to negotiate disarmament agreements have now been in progress for over a decade in the United Nations. Recently they have been conducted in a Ten-Power Committee whose composition was agreed upon to meet Russian demands. The Communist delegates, as I have said, walked out at the very time when they knew Western proposals of a positive kind were about to be submitted. We think that the committee of ten should resume its activities; for what is wanted if there is to be any measure of disarmament is not speeches at a large public meeting, but honest negotiations at close quarters.
The Western proposals are based on the following fundamental principles - I state them quite briefly -
The West in June presented a detailed plan based on these principles. With the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate this informative document in “ Hansard “. I have taken this subject last in chronological order, but it is, of course, of obvious and overwhelming importance to the world. The plan is as follows: -
The ultimate goal is a secure and peaceful world of free and open societies in which there shall be general and complete disarmament under effective international control and agreed procedures for the settlement of disputes in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
General and complete disarmament in a secure, free and peaceful world requires -
The disbanding, through progressive stages, of all armed forces of all States and the prohibition of their re-establishment in any form whatsoever, except for those contingents of agreed size required for the purpose of maintaining internal order and ensuring the personal security of citizens and for agreed contingents for the international peace force.
The cessation of the production of all kinds of armaments, including all means for delivering weapons of mass destruction, and their complete elimination from national arsenals, through progressive stages, except for those armaments agreed upon for use by an international peace force and agreed remaining national contingents.
Strict and effective international control, from beginning to end, of the carrying out of all disarmament measures, to ensure that there are no violations.
The establishment of effective means for enforcement of international agreements and for the maintenance of peace.
Disarmament under effective international control shall be carried out in such a manner that at no time shall any ‘State, whether or not a party to a Treaty, obtain military advantage over other States as a result of the progress of disarmament.
General and complete disarmament shall proceed through three stages containing balanced, phased and safeguarded measures with each measure being carried out in an agreed and strictly defined period of time, under the supervision of an International Disarmament Control Organization, within the framework of the United Nations.
Each measure within each stage shall be initiated simultaneously by all participating States upon completion of the necessary preparatory studies and upon establishment of the arrangements and procedures necessary for the International Disarmament Control Organization to verify the measures on an initial and continuing basis.
Transition from one stage to the next shall be initiated when the Security Council of the United Nations agrees that all measures in the preceding stage have been fully implemented and effective verification is continuing, and that any additional verification arrangements and procedures required for measures in the next stage have been established and are ready to operate effectively.
The treaties shall remain in force indefinitely subject to the inherent right of a party to withdraw and be relieved of obligations thereunder if the provisions of the treaty, including those providing for the timely installation and effective operation of the control system, are not being fulfilled and observed.
The International Disarmament Control Organization shall comprise all participating States whose representatives shall meet as a conference periodically as required. There shall in addition be a control commission and a Director-General. The specific responsibility and authority of the conference, control commission and the DirectorGeneral, the staffing arrangements and criteria, the responsibilities of participating States to the organization, and provisions for any necessary preparatory or interim group to aid in the establishment of the organization shall be specified in the treaty.
The specific arrangements, procedures and means required for effective initial and continuing verification of satisfactory performance of each measure by the International Disarmament Control Organization shall be specified in the treaties. These shall provide for all necessary means required for effective verification of compliance with each step of each measure. Verification of each agreed disarmament measure shall be accomplished in such a manner as to be capable of disclosing, to the satisfaction of all participating States, any evasion of the agreement. Specifically, from the initiation of implementation of each agreed disarmament measure, there shall be effective verification by the International Disarmament Control Organization; verification shall be in no way dependent upon declarations by States for its effectiveness; verification shall include the capability to ascertain that not only do reductions of armed forces and armaments in agreed amounts take place, but also that retained armed forces and armaments do not exceed agreed levels at any stage.
TASK OF THE TEN-NATION COMMITTEE ON DISARMAMENT.
The task of the Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament is to work out a treaty for general and complete disarmament under effective international control governed by the foregoing controlling principles as follows: -
Thereupon, arrange for a world-wide conference of all States, to be held at the earliest possible time, for the following purposes: -
Following completion of stage three, the programme for general and complete disarmament shall continue to be adhered to and verified.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 6th December, 1960. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) making his speech without limitation of time.
– Our criticism of the Government over the past eleven years lies in part on its failure to consult Parliament regularly on international affairs. For instance, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has never once consulted Parliament before leaving for a Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in London and has rarely, if ever, reported to Parliament on his return as to what happened at such important meetings. We think that foreign affairs are matters of vital concern to us all and should not continue to be subjects for Cabinet alone to decide or for one Minister only to know about. The Parliament should be asked to vote its approval or disapproval of all matters of major importance concerning foreign affairs.
The Prime Minister’s statement now before us is very important and covers many subjects. Indeed, it is one of the most important that has been made in recent years. But it has been made in the dying hours of the current sittings and he and I are the only two members of a House of 125 members who will be given an opportunity to speak in the debate before the Parliament closes. This is not democracy; it does not even make common sense. The debate will be adjourned, I understand, after I have spoken and the matter will not come up again for further debate until the House assembles on 28th February next. I hope that in the interests of Australia, this will be the first business to be debated when Parliament re-convenes, because shortly afterwards the Prime Minister will attend yet another Prime Ministers’ Conference and will possibly go to another meeting of the United Nations.
It seems to me right and proper that the opinions of those honorable members on both sides of the House who wish to make their contributions to the discussion on foreign affairs should be heard. The debate should not be restricted to two members or even to ten members. Every member of Parliament has a right to voice his opinion on current international problems, affecting as they do the peace of the world and the safety of mankind. No Parliament should be deprived of its right to give its opinion to its Government in this important field of policy. I hope that the Prime Minister will recognize that principle and will agree to a resumption of the debate, as I have suggested, when we meet again ten weeks hence.
Let it not continue to be said that the Prime Minister, in- his capacity as both Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs, refuses to consult the House before leaving to attend a Prime Ministers’ Conference or a meeting of the United Nations and does not bother to report to the Parliament when he returns, unless he is pressed to do so. With regard to affairs in South Africa and to the recent meeting of the United Nations, we claim that it was our demand that forced the debate on the first issue and world publicity of the Prime Minister’s failure before the United Nations as well as our demand for a debate which forced him to make a statement on the second issue. As a result, we had debates on both issues.
I have had little opportunity to study the Prime Minister’s statement, and I do not blame him for that. He made the statement to-day after I had requested it only last week. He gave me a copy of it this morning and I had only two hours in which to read it and to make a few notes upon it so that I could continue the debate to-day. If I had not continued it to-day, there would have been no debate on it at all.
– I assure you that you received a copy as soon as the typist had finished lt.
– L acknowledge that quite freely. I am glad that the Prime Minister dealt with the Congo situation, the problems of the newly emerging nations of Africa, the prospects of Summit meetings and the problems of West Berlin, Laos and Viet Nam. We are all concerned with the question of a Summit meeting. Members of the Labour Party claim that this party was the first political party anywhere in the world to advocate Summit meetings. This was done through the then Leader of the Australian Labour Party, the Right Honorable Dr. H. V. Evatt. He advocated this proposition several years ago. At the time he was derided and sneered at, but it is now, of course, popular to advocate Summit meetings. We have the Prime Minister’s assurance that he personally discussed the matter with Mr. Khrushchev, who assured him that he too wanted a Summit meeting. Among the subjects discussed after that of the Summit meeting was the question of Berlin and Germany, and then the question of the control of nuclear weapons. All that is to the good. We were sorry that the Summit meeting broke down earlier this year. We were sorry that the United Nations failed at its recent meeting to resolve the problem. But we hope with the Prime Minister that a Summit meeting will soon be held. Indeed, if a Summit meeting is not held and mankind cannot find some way out of the jungle, there is not much hope for any of us.
The questions of Germany, and of Berlin in particular, are important. They are important to the Germans; they are important to the Russians; they are important to everybody. I sometimes try to study the Russian reaction to proposals for the reunification of Germany, and I can understand the fear which the Russian people have. It is a fear that the French and British also have about a reunited and re-militarized Germany. It is the fear that a re-militarized Germany might plunge Europe into a third world war. Until we have a Summit meeting and until we have disarmament, it does not seem likely that the world will make much progress towards the release from enslavement of those unfortunate people in the middle countries of Europe who to-day are denied their freedom.
I should like to see the people of Hungary and Poland choosing their governments just as freely as do the people of Austria, Italy and France. If the Russians can be persuaded, as they were persuaded to make a treaty in respect of Austria, there is no reason to believe that the time will not come when similar treaties will be made in respect of Hungary and Poland, and perhaps in respect of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. I think that all Australians hold that view.
There is another matter which I want to mention, Sir. That is the problem of the under-developed and under-privileged countries of the world. This is a problem that we should consider. The Prime Minister said that he could not deal with every matter; and, of course, he could not. But this problem of how to feed the hungry peoples of the world is a very real one. One-third of the people of the world go to bed hungry. One-third of the people of the world suffer from malnutrition. The annual per capita income of the people of India is no higher than £26 sterling. If we of the West, who are the privileged people of the world, think that we can continue in that position for another generation or two, we are hugging an illusion. The great mass of mankind which is suffering most lives in the area between West Pakistan and China. We must think a good deal more than we have been thinking about what we intend to do about the underprivileged peoples of the world.
I think that the Prime Minister might have told us something, too, about the Government’s attitude towards Cuba and about what is happening in that country, because something could happen there which could set off another conflagration and endanger world peace. If I had time, I should like to offer a few opinions myself about those so-called democratic regimes which were toppled in South Korea and Turkey in recent times. We have recently seen revealed just how rotten is the state of democracy in some of these alleged democratic countries.
I do not propose to detain the House for very long, Sir, but I should like to offer a few more observations on what the Prime Minister has said, and to make some criticisms, too, of the Government’s policy in foreign affairs over the year which is now closing. The year 1960 has not been a successful one for the Government in the United Nations - and not only there, but also before the bar of world opinion. I believe that the Government misjudged Australian opinion when it adopted its equivocal attitude on apartheid in South Africa and when it gave its outright support to the claim by the Nationalist Government of that country that the matter was one of domestic policy, although apartheid had been condemned by every other free nation. In contrast with the Government’s hesitancy on this issue, there was the speed which it showed in condemning the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for shooting down a U2 aeroplane over Russia, although the President of the United States of America had already admitted to the world that he knew of the flight and had approved it.
Then came the Prime Minister’s intervention on the question of Summit meetings at the recent meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. His actions and resolution on that occasion isolated Australia from the great majority of the world powers and angered the Afro-Asian bloc. Indeed, it angered Mr. Nehru, the well-loved leader of more than 400,000,000 Indians. We cannot afford to be bad friends with more than 400,000,000 people who are our near neighbours - people about whom we have never had any cause to complain and whose leader is under criticism by some people in this country, not because he is an enemy of Australia or because he has ever done any harm to Australia, but because he has followed a policy of neutralism. In the weakness of his country, what other policy could he adopt?
I was glad to note the Prime Minister’s observation that we should not be worried about whether the new nations moved into one orbit or another. That sounded like common sense to me. I should like to mention, also, the way in which the Gluckman case was handled. That incident did Australia no good internationally, and it yet remains unexplained. Some people may regard it as a minor incident, but anything that puts Australia in a bad light is something to be deplored and to be cleared up if possible.
– Such as the incident of the Manila girls and similar incidents.
– The incident of the Manila girls is quite easily explained. If the honorable member believes that a foreign power ought to be able to send aircraft into this country and fly people out without asking the Australian Government’s permission, he would sustain a situation which nobody else in this Parliament has ever tried to sustain. If he takes that attitude, the sooner he disappears from the Parliament, the better it will be for Queensland and Australia. Lastly, there are the events in South Korea and Turkey, which I have already mentioned.
In spite of all these things, Australia, as a small power, can nevertheless be a moral force if its government is prepared to act with vision, courage and independence on international questions. I used to say of Lord Casey, who was formerly member for La Trobe and Minister for External Affairs, that he used to listen in to Whitehall or Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and to Washington on Tuesdays, Thursdays and’ Saturdays, and then write Australia’s foreign policy on Sundays. I believe that we should have our own foreign policy. And we should not determine our foreign policy in antagonism to any of our allies. Our own special position demands that we look after our own affairs. We should be guided by what is best for Australia and we should try to do what we can to help our allies. But we should never be satellites of any other powers, no matter how friendly we are with them. No nation will think badly of us if we take that stand.
I think that the exercise of vision implies recognition of the fact that the political complexion of the world is changing rapidly. Within a few months, African nations have emerged from a state of colonialism into full independence. The Prime
Minister’s statement dealt adequately with the historic aspects of this development. We all are glad to see the peoples of Africa now gathered in a number of independent nations, and we wish their countries well. Nobody in this country would wish them any harm. But the emergence of these new powers and their admission to the United Nations has swung the balance of power away from the established powers of the world to the new nations of Africa, Asia and South America. Unfortunately, too few people yet realize the significance of this fact. We in the Western world are still inclined to adopt a superior attitude and to treat the new nations either as not having the competence to manage their own affairs or as not having minds of their own. We should do well to remember that they are now equal with their former overlords in the councils of the nations, and we should treat them as equals and as being in every way responsible and trustworthy.
The new countries, like Australia, have a vested and intimate interest in world peace. Like Australia, they lack scientific know-how and military might to make them world powers in the accepted sense. Like Australia, they need time, money, material resources and men to assist and speed their development. Their needs are even greater than are ours. Great and all as our needs are, we are bound to give the new nations what help we can. It was good to hear the Prime Minister say that we were giving assistance in the Congo, that we had given assistance under the Colombo Plan and that we shall give further assistance to countries that really want to lift the living standards of their people because they feel that they too should enjoy the bounties of the earth.
Australia’s position can make this country a bridge between the old powers and the newly emerged nations, Sir. This does not mean the shedding of old allegiances or friendships. On the contrary, the adoption by Australia of an independent stand at the United Nations would strengthen our position and help us to influence the position of the new powers. Australia should work to strengthen the United Nations in all its activities. There should be no weakening of the position of the Secretary-General, nor any loss of confidence in his ability or in his integrity.
He is worthy of our full support. But the time has come when the position of the Security Council should be reviewed and its membership broadened. There is also need for a re-examination of the veto, against which Dr. Evatt fought so strongly and, unfortunately, so unsuccessfully, at San Francisco, in 1945. The time has come as well for the United Nations to look seriously at the question of establishing a permanent security force, already provided for in the charter, and under the full control of the United Nations Assembly. Security forces have undertaken excellent work in the Middle East and in the Congo, with the support of every nation. The United Nations intervention in Korea had the support of the non-Communist world, and Australia made the contribution requested of it with the full support of this Parliament.
We cannot continue to exclude Communist China from the United Nations organization as the representative of mainland China. Recognition of Communist China, and its admission to the world organization, does not imply condonation of its internal political system, or the abandonment of Formosa. Formosa should be guaranteed separate representation in the United Nations Assembly, and the Formosan people themselves should be allowed to decide their own destiny. Ultimately, they and the mainland Chinese will do that. The Chinese people have always solved their own problems in their own way. In any case, it is always idle, foolish and dangerous for Europeans to try to prescribe solutions for Asia’s problems, or to suggest how Asian peoples should act.
The policy of two Chinas is winning support in the United States, and has a powerful spokesman in Mr. Chester Bowles, one of Senator John F. Kennedy’s principal aides and advisers. I would not be surprised if, some time after Senator Kennedy is sworn in as President, American policy in regard to China changes. For one thing, I hope that the proposal of Mr. Bowles that Matsu and Quemoy should be evacuated is adopted. That will at least remove tension in that part of the world, and thus remove the possibility of war between the United States and Communist China. There should be no possibility of any American servicemen being killed in the defence of islands that are only 5 miles off the coast of mainland China. I think that the policy of the new United States administration will prevent that happening.
The Prime Minister has spoken of the tension that exists between Russia and China. There is tension between those two countries. There has always been tension between Russia and China. Let us not forget that in the days of the Russian czars and the Chinese emperors the maritime provinces of China were ceded to Russia. That was done under threat from Russia in 1864, and the day will come when China will demand the return of that territory. It is still occupied principally by people of Chinese or Mongolian blood, and it is regarded by the Chinese people as an area that is historically theirs. Every invasion of Europe has come out of Asia. The only one that did not was the Hittite invasion, which went from Europe into Asia, but Genghis Khan and Tamerlane were two of the great warriors that came out of Asia and raided deep into Europe. Perhaps the Russians fear that a united, militarized China could be a danger to them. The Chinese want peace and disarmament just as much as we do, and I hope that the summit meeting, when it is eventually held, will produce solutions to most of the problems that confront them and us. I sympathize with the Russian people in their fears with Germany on the west and China on the east of their territories.
Somebody interjected about Formosa. There are 10.000.000 people on Formosa. T would not hand them over to the Chinese Communists. They are entitled to live a life apart if they want to do so. The United Nations has already provided for a North and South Viet Nam and for a North and South Korea. Many of the countries in the West and the East believe in partition or put up with it. There is no reason in the world why, in seeking world peace, we could not have the best partition of all - an ocean partition - dividing one part of the world, and an island at that, from mainland China. I am positive, too, that China, having adopted the Communist philosophy for the time being, will use it to serve her own interests just as she has used other philosophies through history, and in time will discard it as she has always done in the past, and she will always continue to do.
Let me say something now about happenings in connexion with New Guinea. I think the Australian people are indebted to the Prime Minister of Malaya for his initiative in trying to relieve the tension that exists between Indonesia, the Netherlands and Australia in connexion with that territory. If he has failed temporarily, it is not his fault. He has certainly done a very good job, and we wish him well next time he makes an attempt. We also wish the peoples of Laos and Viet Nam well in all their undertakings. We have no doubt that, given time and goodwill, all the countries that are troubled to-day by threats of take-overs and military occupation by Communists or other totalitarian or aggressive forces can, and probably will, survive as free peoples.
I wish to make particular reference to Dutch New Guinea. I have no criticism to offer on what the Prime Minister has said about Dutch New Guinea. We of the Labour Party have made our position abundantly clear on this issue, which affects all Australians so very much. I just want to emphasize that the position of the Labour Party has been made clear many times, and that we have never deviated from it. That position was laid down very clearly by a resolution passed by a Commonwealth-wide conference of our party in Brisbane in 1957. I shall not state the resolution verbatim but, in substance, it is that we believe that Australia, the Netherlands and Indonesia should negotiate a tri-partite agreement - and register it with the United Nations - for the maintenance of the peace and security of the whole area covered by Indonesia, the island of New Guinea, and adjacent islands under Australian and Indonesian jurisdiction.
That implies maintenance of the status quo in the whole area, at least until such time as all the people of Papua and New Guinea can vote as one people and determine for themselves, without interference, their own future national status. No part of the island of New Guinea is Indonesian just because Indonesia says so. It can only become part of Indonesia if, 20, 30 or 40 years hence, the whole of the people of the island of New Guinea decide, by their vote, to make it so. But the indigenous people of the whole island of New Guinea might very well decide - and it is quite likely that they will - to become part of the Melanesian Federation, or to become part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I repeat that it is for them, and them alone, to decide, in accordance with the principles of selfdetermination, how they wish to be governed, and no neo-imperialist power has the right to prevent their doing so.
We hope that there will be peace in that area of the world so close to us. We hope, too, that there will be peace in this part of the world. We wish the United Nations success in 1961. We hope that when we come to this time next year, when 1961 is also passing into history, a Summit meeting will have been held, and that it will have been successful.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pearce) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1960.
National Capital Development Commission
Insurance Bill 1960.
Indus Basin Development Fund Agreement Bill 1960.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the law relating to income tax.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks to give effect, by way of amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act, to two of the proposals I announced in my statement of 15th November on economic measures. These proposals relate respectively to the treatment for income tax purposes of interest on borrowings in general by certain classes of companies, and to interest on convertible notes.
In my statement 1 outlined why the Government had decided upon these measures. I pointed out how the bidding of higher and higher rates of interest for borrowed money had been working to the disadvantage of governments and other public authorities and, through them, to the disadvantage of the general taxpayer. This was because the less governments could borrow on reasonable terms the more they had to obtain in taxation to finance basic developmental works and the provision of community services.
I also went on to say that the biddingup of interest rates imposed a burden on productive enterprises and added to costs generally. Industry, in general, seeks to raise finance as cheaply as it can, especially when it wants the money for long-term investment and when it has to engage in strenuous competition to sell its products either on local markets or overseas. But in recent years there has grown up a class of borrowers who are not too much inhibited by those considerations. They have found opportunities for using money on a large scale in various fields of activity. The largest field so far has been hire-purchase finance and various other forms of consumer credit; but there are others which have rapidly grown in importance. Some of these borrowers are engaged in lending to small businesses, orto other people who need money for some purpose but who do not have access to ordinary sources of funds.
Others are taking part in speculative real estate operations or in speculative building and similar activities where they expect a quick turnover of their funds and early and rich profits. When I speak of speculative real estate in building activity, I want to make it clear that the Government does not regard all such activity as speculative. Indeed, it recognizes that most building activity and development is highly desirable and serves a vitally important economic function and community purpose. On the other hand, some of it is undoubtedly speculative.
Irrespective of the element of speculation, the overall demands now being made on the building industry are considered to be excessive and to warrant reduction to a lower level. But it is the more speculative activity that I am referring to at the moment. Because some borrowers can find soft marks for lending money at high rates, and because they can make quick and easy profits on turnover, they are prepared to bid aggressively for the money which is their principal stock in trade. They are prepared to outbid other borrowers, public and private alike, who have to keep a more careful watch on costs and who are not in a position to pass higher interest charges on.
This unrestrained competition for capital is not good for the economy, either in the short term or the long. It leads, as I have said, to a forcing up of interest costs both on industry and on governments. It causes taxation to be higher than it need be. It leads also to a diversion of resources away from the sounder and more enduring forms of production and commerce into speculative and even predatory forms of activity. There can be no question but that such activities have contributed much to the prevailing boom.
This readiness on the part of some organizations to borrow large sums at relatively high rates and to outdistance other borrowers in the prices they offer for money, has undoubtedly been encouraged by the fact that, under the income tax law as it stands, interest paid on borrowings for purposes of a business is regarded as an expense of earning income and as such is deductible in full when taxable income is computed. The saving in net cost of borrowing which this provision allows is quite substantial, and it becomes more marked the higher the rates paid for money. As I pointed out in my statement to the House, with the general rate of company tax at 8s. in the £1, the net interest cost of an 8 per cent, loan is only 4.8 per cent. The net cost of a 10 per cent, loan would be only 6 per cent.; and so on.
To allow deductions of interest as a business expense has, of course, been a long-standing practice in taxation. We would have had no thought of disturbing it had it not so clearly been contributing to the harmful developments of which I have spoken. and had we had access to effective alternative measures. We have had the matter under consideration for some time and have reached the view that, in the interests of the public finances, of the general taxpayer, and of the great majority of enterprises in industry and commerce, some modification in the practice ought to be made.
It is, of course, no easy matter to devise amendments to the law which would meet the general objectives we have in view and at the same time be capable of practical administration. We have given a great deal of thought to the subject and have carried investigations to some length. The task has not been made easier by our inability up till now to seek information outside government circles or to consult, as widely as we would have wished, authorities in the world of business at large. But the policy having been announced, we are free to do that now.
Whatever may be our decisions about the form a more permanent scheme should take, it has seemed to us necessary in the meantime to take some form of holding action and this for special reasons. As part of our general plan of action for relaxing some of the pressures on the economy, we are convinced that there must be a sharp reduction in the flow of funds to certain forms of investment, and especially in the funds which are being channelled through the socalled fringe institutions into consumer credit, real estate promotions and the less useful types of financing operations generally. Several of our measures are directed to that end. It is a particular aid, for example, of the selective restriction of bank advances which has been requested by the Reserve Bank of Australia, and it is also one of the main purposes for which trading bank interest rates, and especially deposit rates, have been raised. But, as pointed out in my general statement, the effects of these forms of action could be largely, if not wholly, nullified if the institutions whose access to funds we are trying to limit were left in a position to bid up rates of interest as freely as they have done in the past.
We have therefore decided to bring down an interim measure and it is that which this legislation embodies. Its main purpose is to put an immediate curb on the kind of competition for money we are endeavouring to subdue during the period while a continuing scheme is drawn up and presented to Parliament. We intend to bring such a scheme forward as soon as we possibly can. In saying that, I would like it to be realized that the difficulties are quite formidable. Nevertheless we are conscious of the need to push the matter forward with all possible despatch.
Naturally, some honorable members would like me to say as much as I can about the general nature of the continuing scheme we have in view. At the same time they will appreciate that the Government ‘cannot commit itself on points of detail which may yet require a lot of further investigation. In my earlier comments I have given some indication of the general purposes the Government has in view. Perhaps I may reemphasize here two points: One is that it should not be assumed that the continuing scheme will bear any close similarity to the interim scheme now being introduced. The second is that our broad aim will be to reduce as far as possible the advantages which deductibility of interest provides for companies which seek to borrow excessive amounts of money at excessive rates of interest - the accent here being very much on the term “excessive “. This is something which those now tempted to follow either course should carefully ponder.
I expect also that, like the interim scheme now before the House, it will be confined to interest on borrowings by companies. We have provided this in the interim scheme because, as a general rule, the largest and most aggressive borrowers are not found amongst individuals and organizations other than companies. There are, no doubt, a few exceptions, and others could arise, but probably not on a sufficient scale to warrant extension of the scheme beyond the range of company borrowings.
I shall take up now some other features of the interim scheme, lt provides that interest on borrowings by or from certain classes of companies shall remain fully deductible. These companies include banks, pastoral finance companies, approved short-term money market dealers, certain classes of building or co-operative housing societies and companies engaged in the utility services of supplying gas, electricity and water. Interest on loans from governments or public authorities or guaranteed by such bodies will also continue to be fully deductible. The chief reason for making these exceptions is that in most, if not all, cases, coming within the defined categories, rates of interest are subject to some degree of official control or supervision.
We have also wished to ensure that the scheme does not act in any way retrospectively, and that is the reason for a special provision in the bill which gives companies an option as to the basis for calculating the amount of interest for which they may seek deductions in the income year 1960-61. They may deduct up to the amount of interest for which they were liable in the income year 1959-60, or alternatively, elect to deduct the amount of the annual interest liability as at 15th November last, which was of course the date on which I announced the proposal. Besides this, the bill covers the position of companies which had at 15th November entered into firm commitments to borrow particular sums of money, or had actually invited applications for the loan of particular amounts of money. We have taken account of the position of small companies or companies coming on the market, some perhaps for the first time, for modest amounts of loan money. These cases should, we think, be reasonably met by the provision that full deductibility will be allowed for amounts of interest up to £10,000. We have, however, included safeguards against the inappropriate use of this provision.
It has seemed reasonable, too, to make some concession for cases where companies which, in the preceding income period, were relying to some extent on bank finance but have since had to replace that bank finance wholly or in part by borrowings from other sources. The bill provides in effect that for purposes of assessing the deductible amount interest payable by a company in 1959-60 and 1960-61, or the substituted periods, shall not be taken to include bank interest in either period. When, however, bank interest in the second period is less than in the first, the amount of other interest payments eligible for deduction in the second period will be increased to that extent. These are the main features of the bill to which I need call attention at this stage so far as it relates to deductibility of interest in general.
The bill also deals with our proposal to disallow henceforth interest on convertible notes. Unlike the interim scheme on deductibility in general, which has application only to income tax assessed in respect of 1960-61, the provisions relating to convertible notes are intended to have effect indefinitely. I would first mention that the provision will not apply to interest on notes issued on or before 15th November, 1960. Nor will it apply to interest on notes issued after that date if the terms of issue were announced by the company before that date, or the company was, at that date, bound by agreement to issue the notes. The purpose of the new provision is to ensure that deductions are not allowed for amounts raised by a company as borrowings but which are really designed to be a permanent investment in the company and ultimately converted into share capital.
There has recently been a strong trend for companies to issue convertible notes in lieu of shares, and by this means they have been obtaining a deduction for interest paid on the notes. If, however, they had issued share capital, any dividends paid on that share capital would not have been allowed as a deduction in arriving at their taxable income. The notes have in substance more in common with the permanent capital of the company than they have with either short term or long term borrowings. The holders of the notes are, very often if not invariably, given rights corresponding very closely with those of shareholders. It is in these circumstances that the Government has decided that in arriving at the taxable incomes of companies that issue convertible notes in the future, the interest on the notes will not be deductible.
A memorandum explaining each of the clauses of the bill will be made available to honorable members and in these circumstances I do not propose, at this stage, to discuss in detail the technical aspects of the bill which I now commend to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 30th November (vide page 3446).
Clauses 3 to 10 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
The heading to Division 4 of Part III. and sections thirty-three to forty-seven a (inclusive) of the Principal Act are repealed and the following heading and sections inserted in their stead: - “ Division 4. - Appointment and Recruitment of Officers. “ 34. A person is not eligible for appointment to the Commonwealth Service unless -
” (3.) Except in the case of appointments under section thirty-eight, forty-seven b, forty-seven c or fifty-four of this Act, a person shall not be appointed to the Commonwealth Service except from among persons who have applied for appointment in pursuance of a notice under this section. 47c- (1.) Where the Board is satisfied that-
– I move -
At the end of proposed section thirty-four, add the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (2.) Notwithstanding paragraph (b) of the last preceding sub-section, the Board may, if it considers that it is desirable to do so, appoint to the Commonwealth Service, as an officer of the Second, Third or Fourth Division, a person otherwise eligible for appointment who, because of some physical defect, is not able to satisfy the Board as to his health and physical fitness, whether the physical defect from which he is suffering is due to war service or not.”.
The purpose of the amendment is to enable the Public Service Board to employ a person who otherwise is eligible for appointment, but because of some physical defect is not able to convince the board of his health and medical fitness. I recollect that during the Second World War, because of a shortage of man-power, we employed in the Commonwealth Public Service persons who, in other days, we would not be able to employ even in a temporary capacity. I recollect that some of those people did secure permanent appointments later. Some honorable members feel that there should be a provision in the bill that persons who are physically handicapped, such as victims of poliomyelitis, should not be deprived of the possibility of securing permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service if they are otherwise qualified apart from their physical defect, and if the physical defect will not militate against their giving effective service to the Commonwealth. I heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) say that the matter was being considered by the Cabinet, and possibly next year he may decide to take some action on the matter. I move the amendment, but I will not force it to a vote. I move it in the hope that the right honorable gentleman will indicate his feelings in this matter, and we can then proceed to the next clause.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) recalls that in the course of my second-reading speech I touched on this problem, which is quite a complex one and one that requires a good deal of examination - and deserves it, because there may be some very meritorious cases of the kind to which the honorable gentleman referred. In the course of my second-reading speech I said -
The Public Service Board has established a separate committee, including medical authorities, to examine this question and the conclusions of this group will be considered by the Government as soon as they are available.
When we have that report, and when we have arrived at a conclusion, I will inform the House about it. If the honorable member at that time feels that the action we propose to take is not satisfactory, there will be an opportunity to discuss it.
.- 1 wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to the case of partially disabled ex-servicemen. There are many men who served overseas and were disabled to a greater or lesser extent, and who have been granted small pensions, at the rate of 30 per cent, or 40 per cent. 1 have become acquainted with many cases of persons who, because of disabilities incurred through war service, have been pronounced medically unfit for permanent employ ment in the Commonwealth Public Service. Many of these men gave sterling service in time of war, and they wish to serve their country again in time of peace in the Commonwealth Public Service. The opportunities are extremely limited because of their war-caused disabilities, and if they are employed in the Public Service they have very little prospect of promotion, lt is frustrating for these men who, in many cases, are suffering from comparatively minor disabilities. We know that there are certain risks involved in allowing such persons to contribute to the Superannuation . Fund or the Provident Account, but I believe there should be some way in which they can become permanent public servants and gain promotion in due course on ability.
The Prime Minister spoke of the report of the Boyer committee, and of the recommendations of that committee with regard to the employment of persons who, in the course of their ordinary civilian life, suffer disablement. I direct attention also to persons who suffer similar disablement during the course of military service. 1 am sure that most honorable members have had to deal with cases of exservicemen who have been refused permanent employment in the Public Service because they are considered medical risks from the point of admission to the superannuation fund or the provident account. I ask that the Prime Minister and the Government sympathetically consider the cases of such ex-servicemen, who gave good service in time of war, and, I believe, should be given the opportunity to serve again in time of peace.
– I will have a look at that matter in conjunction with the proposition put forward by the Leader of the Opposition.
.- I support this amendment. Early in the year representations were made to some honorable members by various organizations that are particularly concerned with problems of physically handicapped persons who experience great difficulty in gaining security of employment. Particular concern was expressed for men who, having families to support, suffer accidents which result in their being partially disabled. We know that the increasing incidence of road accidents is piling up the numbers of our physically handicapped citizens at an alarming rate. We often hear of the 2,000-odd people who are killed on the roads each year, but we do not often think of the 56,000 who are injured. I believe that these people should be given better employment opportunities in the Public Service than are available at present. It is all very well for the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) to make statements, as he did recently, urging private enterprises to employ physically handicapped people. When I read the Minister’s statement in the press I was moved to ask myself, “ What is the Public Service itself, or the Government, doing to give a lead in this matter? “
– I assure the honorable member that we employ a considerable number of such people.
– I agree with the Prime Minister on that point. He will remember that I raised this matter with him last year, and he gave me a reply, saying that the Public Service was doing something towards solving this problem. But we are trying to put the matter on a more official and permanent basis. The employment of a few physically handicapped persons here and there throughout the vast Commonwealth Public Service may not help the situation very much. I believe that if our amendment was carried it would be incumbent on the Public Service authorities to make a maximum effort for the physically handicapped.
It is amazing what these unfortunate people can do. I do not believe that their ability is necessarily impaired simply because they have suffered an injury to a leg, an arm, or a hip. If they can get to and from work, they will carry out the jobs for which they are trained to the maximum of their ability. Unfortunately, the Public Service Board says, “ We must have medical examinations of applicants for employment “. What do such examinations involve? No doubt they cover mental health and physical health, but the decision whether Bill Smith or Tom Jones is to be employed is largely in the hands of an individual doctor. The matter is left to the decision of one man or of a panel of men, and unless the legislation is widened in the manner suggested by our amendment it will remain possible for a panel of doctors to reject vast numbers qf applicants merely because of physical defects. I always thought that the medical examinations of applicants for Public Service employment were designed to ensure the health of organs such as lungs and heart. I did not think that defects in limbs were considered of major importance, and our amendment is concerned mainly with persons suffering from such defects.
I strongly support the amendment, and I will be very disappointed if the Government cannot agree to make this humanitarian move in the interests of our physically handicapped citizens.
.- I support this amendment, which is designed to assist physically handicapped persons, who have the necessary educational qualifications, if not the medical qualifications, to gain employment in the Public Service. I know quite a number of people who to-day are employed in the Public Service in temporary or exempt positions, and who twelve years ago were receiving invalid pensions. I call to mind at the moment a man who has been working in the Postal Department for the last eleven years delivering mail. I believe that his attendance records would show a very creditable performance. This man, although he has worked very well as a postal delivery officer, exposed to all kinds of weather conditions, working through the winter months and enduring all the rigours of the elements, and also taking his chances with the hazards of the roads, is unable to gain permanency and be admitted to the superannuation fund. This is because medical officers have said that he suffers from a physical defect.
At the moment there are 60,245 temporary or exempt employees in the Public Service. More than 24,000 of them are employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department as mail delivery officers, telephone linesmen or as labourers. They should be allowed at least to take their place in permanent positions in the department and, as other officers are, be entitled to promotion provided there is no absolute physical defect which prevents them from carrying out their duties.
I should like to mention one particular case for the benefit of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is now at the table. A young fellow in my electorate left school, passed the educational examination for entry to the Public Service and became a probationary junior officer in the post office at Wallsend. While at work one day he was badly smashed up by a motor vehicle, the driver of which may have been under the influence of alcohol, or, if he was not, at least the court convicted him of negligent driving. The lad suffered a fractured pelvis and other injuries. After he recovered, he was given notice that his services would be terminated at 5 o’clock on a certain day. But for the kindness of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson), whom I saw personally, the boy probably would not have a job now and would be on the streets. There are many similar cases. I give all credit to the Postmaster-General for what he did in this instance. On 8th November, 1960, he wrote me in these terms -
I have been informed that Mark Gardner was appointed (on probation) as a junior postal officer at Wallsend on 14th October, 1959, and that he was involved in an accident on duty on the 11th February, 1960. As Mark was still serving his probationary period when the accident occurred it was necessary to review his physical condition before action could be taken to confirm his appointment. Unfortunately, medical reports obtained indicated that Master Gardner could not meet the physical fitness standards required by the Public Service Board for permanent appoint ment to the service, and after full consideration of the case the board annulled his appointment as from 30th September, 1960. The board has advised, however, that consideration would be given to an application for re-appointment in twelve months, when Mark would be further medically examined.
This lad is more or less bodily sound. His only deformity is that he swings a leg a little when he walks. He is working as a temporary employee of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
– Was he injured on duty?
– Yes, he was badly injured on duty. The Public Service Board said that it would review the case in twelve months. But this means that the boy will lose twelve months’ service and, even if he is passed as medically fit in twelve months, other boys who have joined the department in the intervening period will take precedence over him for promotion. It is wrong that this lad, who has the necessary educational qualifications, is keen to progress, and could be relied on to give good service, should be pushed aside and told to wait because of injuries suffered while on duty. Possibly in twelve months he may not he able to pass the strict medical examination which the Public Service Board requires applicants for employment to pass. If that is so, he will become despondent and downhearted because he will have lost the chance to enter the Public Service.
I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister say that he is still waiting for a report from the board in relation to the employment of physically handicapped people. I hope that he will give further consideration to this matter, if not now then in the not distant future.
.- I support the amendment that has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the point that was made by the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths). I do not know whether this position obtains with honorable members on the Government side, but every Opposition member seems to have had correspondence with the Public Service Board relating to physically handicapped people. Some considerable time ago I directed the attention of the Parliament to the need to provide employment for the visually handicapped.
I then informed the House that the United Kingdom Government and private employers in the United Kingdom are obliged by law to employ a percentage of physically handicapped persons. Not only the Government, but also every member of the Parliament should support any proposal to assist the physically handicapped because, apart from any other consideration, we have a responsibility to help those people who, because of their infirmity, find difficulty in competing for employment with their physically fitter brothers and sisters.
I am particularly concerned at the treatment which is being meted out to women. They join the service with no great expectation of remaining in employment until retirement at the age of 60 years, and consequently questions relating to long service leave, superannuation and so on seldom arise. This is a matter of such importance that the Parliament should give immediate attention to it. I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is at the table, to regard this matter in a humane way. In most cases it has been found abroad, as it would be found in Australia, that the physically handicapped are capable of doing a firstclass job of work. The fact that they are physically handicapped should not disqualify them for permanent employment, particularly when frequently they are capable of rendering equal if not superior service to those people who are blessed with good health.
I am particularly appalled that women who have enlisted in the Public Service are being disqualified from permanent employment. On recent occasions I have written two letters to the Public Service Board seeking sympathetic consideration for two brilliant young women who have suffered from asthma. Apparently if a person has suffered from asthma he or she is disqualified permanently from employment in the Public Service. To my mind, that is a shocking state of affairs which should not be tolerated. I have before me a letter which was written to me by a mother on behalf of her daughter - a brilliant young lady who had passed her leaving certificate examination with distinction, gaining two A’s and an honours pass. This young lady applied for employment in the Public Service. After six months she was told that she could not receive permanent appoint ment. Portion of the letter from the young lady’s mother is in these terms, -
L- was again medically examined by the
Commonwealth doctor- of Lithgow in
September, 1960, and apparently was passed as fit and acceptable for permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service, but the Public Service Board has evidently overruled their own doctor because of her history of asthma as a child.
I am sure her attendance records since being in the service would convince any one she is noi affected by asthma.
The mere fact that this girl had asthma as a child apparently is sufficient to disqualify her from permanent appointment in the Commonwealth Public Service. Her case is on lines similar to those of another which I took up with the Public Service Board, and the reply in that instance was in the same vein. The Board considered that her superannuation, long service leave, &c, were the deciding factors. This matter should excite the sympathetic consideration of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Action should be taken to adjust it as it is of outstanding importance. As I have pointed out, the number of women who join the Commonwealth Public Service is very great, but the number of women who stay in the service until retirement is very small. Why should we penalize women who wish to enter the permanent service because of circumstances such as these?
The broad question of the physically handicapped deserves special consideration, but we find that in the case of persons who have suffered from asthma the mere mention of the word is a disqualification. That attitude should not be accepted by the Government and the Parliament. Healthy employees in the Public Service take their leave from time to time and are entitled to take sick leave, when necessary; but when a person has had asthma the mere fact thai he or she takes a few days off with a cold is a disqualification. The young lady whose case I have mentioned here this afternoon had no days off from work at all. She attended work during the whole of her probationary period, but the fact that asthma appeared in her medical record was sufficient to disqualify her from permanent employment. I have with me the case histories of the two young ladies I have mentioned and I think it is a most unhappy state of affairs that these people, who have had a good education and have distinguished themselves in their scholastic careers, should be told that permanent appointment is denied them because at some time in their lives they have had asthma.
From the medical point of view, when persons have had asthma in their youth they very often grow out of it and become healthy, robust people. The problem is entirely different when an adult becomes asthmatic in later years. Then the condition invariably persists. I repeat that a person who contracts asthma during his or her youth very often throws it off. With proper therapy young sufferers from asthma can grow into healthy people, and they should be given full opportunity to serve in the permanent Public Service of this country. The physically handicapped deserve the sympathetic consideration of this House, and the fact that a person is physically handicapped should not deny him the opportunity to serve this nation. The Government ought at least to adopt the principles which are in operation in the United Kingdom and opportunity should be made available for the physically handicapped in this country to serve it to the best of their talents. This labour force should be employed and justice ought to be done to those who constitute it. Humanitarian considerations demand that the Prime Minister and the Government give sympathetic consideration to this matter.
.- I should like to add my remarks to those already made in support of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) which seeks to provide employment for physically handicapped people in the Public Service on a wider basis than is the case at present. At about this time last year we had an “ Employ the Physically Handicapped “ week, organized by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. During that week we had statements by Ministers of this Government imploring private industry to assist these people. Yet now, when there is opportunity to amend the Public Service Act in order to liberalize the employment of physically handicapped people, we find the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) telling us, during his second-reading speech, that the Public Service Board has established a separate committee to go into this aspect. The Boyer committee inquired into this matter and recommended that something should be done about these people. That committee was apparently quite aware of the problems which confront the Public Service in regard to superannuation and gratuity payments involved in the employment of these people. It suggested that the act be amended to provide that physically handicapped people need not be covered by either superannuation benefits or the gratuity scheme.
Now we find that the Public Service Board has set up another committee to go into a matter that has already been examined by an independent committee. If this Government and the people generally are interested in employing the physically handicapped, surely it is time that we got down to doing something about the matter rather than just discussing it time and time again. The physically handicapped are doing amazingly good work in providing employment for themselves by opening workshops for the physically handicapped, and in many instances they are backed by some of the service organizations in the community. Private industry is also playing a certain part in employing physically handicapped people and some governmental and municipal government authorities are doing their share. The Canterbury and Bankstown municipalities have recently employed paraplegics to repair books belonging to municipal libraries. These people have proved not only that their work record is as good as that of any one else employed but also that their attendance record is as good as that of any other employees.
Physically handicapped people in the community deserve better treatment from the Commonwealth Government, which, after all, could be expected to set an example and employ people who, perhaps, in days gone by were the kind of people who were kept locked in a room by their parents because members of the community were so unaccustomed to seeing their deformities or illness. We have come a long way since those days, and now the physically handicapped person can be of value to the community and can be employed in many capacities which will add to the wealth of our nation. Again to put off the employment of physically handicapped people in the Commonwealth Public Service, by appointing another committee to go into the matter, seems to me to be only another way of pigeon-holing the matter. I support the amendment.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, I want to raise another point before the question is put. I desire to bring the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to a reply which I received from the Public Service Board and which indicates the type of thinking in which the board indulges regarding the employment of females, especially those who have suffered from asthma. In a letter to me dated 2nd November, 1960, the secretary of the board stated1 -
In order that you may better understand our decision I would like to point out that our medical standards have been determined to ensure, so far as medically possible, that persons accepted give prospect of efficient service to the normal retiring age of 60 to 65 years.
The fact is that females, as a rule, do not remain in the Public Service until they reach 60 or 65 years of age. Only a fraction of them do so. I asked Sir William Dunk to provide me with figures dealing with this matter. He promised to do so, but up to date I have not received the statistics dealing with the duration of female employment in the Public Service. This matter affects all government departments. It is about time that the matter was reviewed in the light of the large number of females employed in the Public Service. If the Government is going to adopt the practice of giving nothing away in regard to the employment of males I believe it should vary, in the light of circumstances, its policy with respect to the employment of females.
On the broad question of the employment of physically handicapped persons I ask the Prime Minister: Are we to leave it to private employers, to private industry, to give opportunities to the physically handicapped? Surely the responsibility for dealing with this matter finally rests with the Commonwealth Government, because in the long run the payment of social service benefits to handicapped people who cannot find employment is involved. Who among us wants to find1 the revenue burdened with social service payments to people who are able to work, and are willing and ready to give first class, efficient service in the Public Service of their country? I ask the Prime Minister to consider sympathetically the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) and other honorable members.
– I move -
After proposed section thirty-four, insert the following section: - “ ‘ 34a. - (1.) Where the Board decides that it is not satisfied that an applicant for appointment to the Commonwealth Service is a fit and proper person to be appointed to the Commonwealth Service, the Board shall inform the applicant, in writing, of that fact. “ ‘ (2.) The applicant may, within such period as is prescribed, appeal against the decision of the Board to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. “ ‘ (3.) The Board shall be the respondent in the appeal. “ ‘ (4.) The Commonwealth Industrial Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine an appeal under this section, and shall, if it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to be appointed to the Commonwealth Service, order that the applicant be treated by the Board as not ineligible for appointment to the Commonwealth Service by reason of paragraph (c) of the last preceding section. “ ‘ (5.) The jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Industrial Court under this section may be exercised by a single judge.”.
All that, Sir, is intended to ensure the right of appeal to a person who has been told that there is something against his appointment, but that the board cannot say just what it is. Persons can be denied permanent employment with the Public Service for good reasons or for bad reasons, or for very weak reasons. As the position now stands, a person could be denied employment in the Public Service because, five or ten years ago, he was a member of the Communist Party, or because he took part in some demonstration or other on some particular issue. That situation should not continue to exist in this country. I believe that in Great Britain they have an appeal system. I think that whatever they have in Britain we ought to have here. I do not believe that people should be denied the right of employment in any public service without some authority other than the board or a particular Minister being empowered to hear an appeal. At the moment, the board or a Minister, in effect, may blacken a person’s character by saying to him, “ You are not a fit and proper person for employment in the Commonwealth service “, and the person concerned is given no opportunity to clear his name or to establish his bona fides. In an extreme case, such a thing could happen as the result of mistaken identity. I do not imagine that that would happen, but at the moment there is no check upon what can be done in the exercise of this power by the board.
A person could be victimized because somebody was acting maliciously. I do not want to conjure up all kinds of possibilities, but I think there ought to be some safeguard in relation to the exercise of this power. The method I propose may not be the best method or the right method, but surely some method can be devised whereby a person who feels that he has been victimized will have the right to appeal to an independent authority, which would have the power to make a final decision binding on the board and on the Government. The position should not be left where it is at the moment because, if it is, our reputation throughout the world will be that of being intolerant of people who express opinions with which the Government disagrees, or who expressed opinions many years ago which they might not hold to-day. It could well be that a person who was a Communist in his youth could enter this Parliament as a member of the Australian Country Party. We would not deny such a person the right to sit in this chamber. If a former Communist came here as a member of the Liberal Party we would not deny him the right to change his view. We would still think that he was wrong, but wrong in another way.
– The Liberal Party would be his logical, materialist home.
– He could change one form of materialism for another. I do not want to labour the point and delay the passage of the legislation, but we should like to test the opinion of the committee on this matter, and also to have an assurance from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that, even if he cannot accept the amendment, he will at least look at this clause in order to see whether or not some safeguards can be inserted in the act. It is not good enough, from our point of view, to say that this has always been the position, because conditions now differ from conditions 30, 40 or 50 years ago. A person earned a bad character 40 or 50 years ago by committing some criminal act or some offence against society. But the known character provision to-day can be used to deal with people not because they have committed some anti-social act, but because they hold opinions that are not acceptable to the Government of the day, or because their opinions are thought to be too revolutionary or are otherwise at the moment not acceptable. A person might attend a peace conference, or he might have some strange views about solving the world’s problems, and it might be thought undesirable that he should be employed in the Public Service in any capacity. I understand the principle that if a person is a security risk he should not be employed in a position where he would have access to security matters, but I do not believe that he should be denied the right to earn a living. I cannot see that he should be denied the right to employment in some position in the Public Service where he could not breach the laws of the country or threaten the peace and security of the country.
.- 1 will be very brief on this matter. The provision which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) seeks to amend - the known character provision - has, in practice, been operating for a very long time. The act itself contains no reference to an applicant being a fit and proper person to be employed in the Commonwealth Service, but in practice the Commonwealth Public Service Board, acting on reports received by it from other people, has had to make decisions on whether persons were fit and proper for employment in the Commonwealth Service. The Government is proposing to put into the act a provision which will specifically cover this position and, because this is a new departure, I think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) could well consider accepting the amendment.
The amendment is designed to incorporate safeguards in the act. The Leader of the Opposition said that because of a mistake in identity an applicant might be refused employment in the Public Service. He said, however, that it was not very likely that such a thing would happen. But the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) pinpointed last week a case where a mistake in identity prevented a young lad from obtaining employment in the Public Service. A police report showed that the lad had some police court convictions. After representations had been made it was discovered that the convictions were not against the boy, but against the boy’s father, who bore the same full name. It was not until the honorable member for Grayndler took the matter up with the Prime Minister or somebody in the Government that the case was investigated and the mistake was discovered. The mistake was thereupon corrected, and the boy was brought into the Public Service. But if that boy had not been able to approach somebody with his case the result would not have been as happy as that. Now we ask that safeguards against that sort of thing be put into the act. I should like the Parliament to go even further, and provide for safeguards with respect to promotion cases. In all cases in which a decision is made regarding promotion or appointment the authorities act on information received. The Public Service Board must make its decision on evidence contained in reports put before it. Many of these come from the security service and other organizations. The Prime Minister smiles. I gave particulars of a case in my second-reading speech. The Prime Minister was not in the House at the time.
– I have read it. I will tell you about it shortly.
– The details are contained in my speech. The chap has been in touch with me since I spoke. Sir Philip McBride can substantiate the facts. I will not give the man’s name in the Parliament, but it was a case in which justice was not done. I am sure the Prime Minister will have a good look at it and see what can be done. After all, mistakes do occur. 1 believe that some protection for employees should be included in the bill. If Bill Jones is told that he is not a fit and proper person for the service, he should have the right to appeal if he wishes to do so. If he has some skeleton in the cupboard which he knows would prevent him from entering the service, he is not likely to lodge an appeal. However, if it is an instance in which an incorrect report has been made against him, he will have the opportunity to present his case to the court. If his case is proved to be right, he should be given employment. We have been told that the practice outlined in the bill has been observed in the past and is now being included in the statute. It is, as it were, a known character provision. I believe that the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition would make the provision in the bill quite clear and would provide a safeguard. I should like to see the amendment carried.
– I think one or two honorable members still have the Crimes Bill buzzing in their minds. I have heard quite a lot about known character this afternoon. There is nothing in this bill about known character. What this bill provides is that the Public Service Board, which after all is the employer for this purpose, ought to be at liberty to refuse to employ a person in the civil service if the board finds that he is not a fit and proper person. The board is not an irresponsible body. It is a well-known public service administrative authority. No one has ever accused it of being partisan in some political fashion. The board should be able to say, as any ordinary employer is, “ I am sorry, I am not going to have this man; he has a conviction or something of the kind and I am not interested in him “.
The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) garnished this a little with a hard luck story, which he detailed in his second-reading speech. I read it, as always, with great interest. Naturally, I made some inquiry as to the story he told. The story has every merit, but unfortunately it is not true.
– It is true. 1 can tell you the man’s name.
– You can say what you like about it. The security service is regarded as the big bad wolf by many people - not on this side of the chamber, but on the other side. Therefore, when this man, who is in the Postal Department, is refused promotion, it must be because there is a security objection to him. I have found out about him. I will not disclose his name, because it has not been mentioned.
He is a technician in the Postal Department. To obtain promotion to the rank of senior technician in his own department, he must pass a qualifying examination and he has not done so. It is just as simple as that. When other departments advertise positions and he applies, he takes his chance because, if other applicants are more highly qualified than he is, naturally the department seeking an officer will not appoint him. This is something out of which a great storm arises. It is a perfectly normal little episode in life.
Then, I am sorry to say, my friend the honorable member for Kingston says, “ Ah, but it is the security service, because this man was once connected with it “. Sir, I will tell the honorable member that this man was connected with the security organization in a small way from 1951 to 1953. He claimed later on that he failed to secure employment with the Long Range Weapons Establishment because of something to do with security. In fact, no security objections were raised against him then or on any other occasion. It is just another of these instances in which something has gone wrong and it must be attributed to the security people.
I read about another case recently. 1 admit that this does not come from my friend. I saw it spreadeagled in a newspaper only in the last few days. It was said that security - that is our organization - had prevented a man from being appointed to an academic post in the University of New South Wales and on another occasion at Wagga. These things come so glibly to the tongue. They are good reading and they make good headlines. The correction is not much of a headline, but the story is. It was said that security had done something about this man. I inquired about the matter at once. The security organization of the Commonwealth had nothing to do with this man in relation to these institutions or at all. I want to make it quite clear that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization does not make security investigations for bodies of that kind. Tt has nothing to do with the University of New South Wales, with the college at Wagga, with the University of Sydney or with any other university. It is forgotten very frequently that each State has its own special branch which conducts its own investigations. State governments are not in the habit of calling on the Commonwealth to provide them with information that their own organizations can supply. I mention this because of the number of occasions on which the great security bogy is raised.
This provision in the bill has de facto operated for many years. We have thought fit to put it down in black and white so that the power of the board can be put beyond question. But to say that this ordinary power is to be subject on every occasion of refusal to an appeal to a judge reaches the high-water mark of fantasy. I cannot possibly accept the amendment.
– I agree that the Public Service Board should have the right to decide who shall be a fit and proper person to be employed in the Commonwealth Public Service. That is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the integrity, honesty and loyalty of our public servants. But at the same time I suggest to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that it is just as necessary for any individual who applies for a position in the Commonwealth Public Service and is rejected because he is not considered by the board to be a fit and proper person, to have the right to learn why he is not considered by the board to be a fit and proper person. I do not for one moment think that the board will pass over people who apply for a position in the service because of some fiddling little conviction or escapade in which he may have indulged in his early days. Only recently, the son of a member of this House was caught in an escapade. It was one of those youthful skirmishes that we hear about. If the Public Service Board intends to be hidebound in its application of this provision in the bill, this person possibly will be unable to obtain employment in the service.
Many of us in our younger days were caught up in some escapade or other. Perhaps most of us escaped without being apprehended, but some of us were apprehended and now bear a blot on our record. But no one could say that we would not be fit and proper persons to be employed by the Commonwealth Public Service. Whilst I agree that the board should have the right 10 decide who is fit and proper, I also think that for the sake of justice, some protection should be provided in the bill. I do not necessarily mean the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who said that this was not necessarily the only solution to the problem. There should be in the bill some provision which will enable a man who has been rejected because he has not satisfied the Public Service Board that he is a fit and proper person for employment to find out exactly why he has been declared unfit for a position in the Commonwealth Public Service.
A person who knew full well that he was not a fit and proper person for employment in the Public Service would not make use of such a provision, because he would know that he had not a case and that he could not possibly convince the board or any one else who might hear his appeal that he was a fit and proper person for employment. Consequently, the kind of provision that we suggest would be used on very few occasions. It would be taken advantage of only by those who are firmly convinced in their own minds that they have been unjustly treated.
I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. I do not suggest that the Opposition’s amendment is necessarily the only solution to the problem, but I ask the Prime Minister for the sake of justice to a few individuals to see that there is embodied in the bill a provision which will enable a person who has been declared by the Public Service Board to be not a fit and proper person for employment in th i Public Service to find out what has been held against him.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It is very apparent that the appointment and promotion of many public servants are affected by considerations of which the public servants affected are told nothing at present and which they have no way of answering. These considerations may be described briefly as security considerations. We know that security reports are made in respect of a wide range of appointments, not only in the Public Service but also elsewhere. We know, also, that it is the practice to consider such reports with respect to appointments and promotions which should have no security relevance at all. This comes about partly because of the natural tendency which seems to be present in the minds of authorities to regard their own decisions and work as of special importance. I think that in a number of cases this classification of appointments and work as involving security considerations has nothing more significant behind it than the tendency of people to over-state the importance of the work that they supervise.
The point that ought to be made clearly, Mr. Temporary Chairman, is that at the present time there are no means by which people who are affected by these considerations can find out about them or present any answer to them. When people appeal against promotions and appointments, they are able to obtain from the authorities information only about other matters. The existence of security considerations as such is denied by the authorities in practically every instance, and in any appeal or other procedure that exists at the present time, it is impossible to present an answer to these considerations which may be described as security considerations. This is impossible because there is no willingness on the part of the authorities to admit in the first place that these considerations exist.
During this year, at least half a dozen cases have been brought to my notice by people who are firmly convinced that security considerations have been taken into account. But these people are not able even to make these accusations in public and have not been able to authorize me to make any statement about these matters because they well know that if such things are brought into the open their whole careers in the Public Service will be adversely affected. Members of the Parliament and all others have their hands tied in these matters because of this great curtain of security - this great curtain of silence behind which stands the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who refuses to answer any questions on the matter, or to consider it and to provide any appeal or other procedures by which these things could be looked into. At all times, we have to bear in mind the security considerations as against the considerations of individual rights md freedoms.
– Order! I remind the honorable member that the clause under consideration relates to provisions for the appointment and recruitment of officers in the Public Service, and that the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition relates to appeals where appointment is refused. The honorable member would be in order in illustrating his argument with respect to appeals, but he should not devote his entire address to canvassing security matters.
– I am confining my remarks exclusively to the Public Service, f am saying that the most vital matter in respect of which an appeal procedure is needed is that which concerns refusal of appointment or promotion on security grounds, because there is a fairly adequate system of appeal with respect to all other matters. This is about the only one with respect to which there is no appeal system, because the authorities take the attitude that no considerations of a security nature are ever involved. For this reason, some special procedure of the kind envisaged in the Opposition’s amendment is most relevant and most necessary.
As the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has said, we do not suggest that this procedure is the only solution to the problem. But we do say that something of the kind envisaged in the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition has been adopted already in the United Kingdom - a procedure which is considered at least to safeguard the rights and position of the individual in relation to appointments and promotions. In Australia, at the present time, there is not this feeling of confidence that in respect of the Public Service the position and rights of the individual are properly protected. I think that in the Public Service this produces a tameness, a conservativeness and a placidity in the attitude of a good many people towards what is involved. We are a young country, but we are being made too conservative too soon.
I ask the Prime Minister, who has from time to time indicated his respect for provisions to safeguard the rights of the individual, and has from time to time endorsed the liberal philosophy in these matters, to endeavour in this instance to put that philosophy into practice by at least con sidering the amendment which has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition in order to protect the rights of the individual.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated that he did not intend to take away from the Public Service Board the right enjoyed by other employers to determine who would be engaged - the right of the board to determine who could enter the employment of the Public Service. What the right honorable gentleman has failed to say, of course, is that the Commonwealth Public Service and the Public Service Board are quite apart from other employers in Australia. General MotorsHolden’s Limited or any other big firm has the right to hire and fire at will. Such employers are not bound by any act of Parliament in this respect. They are governed by no statutory conditions as to suitable qualifications for employment, or as to appeals and the like. If these employers want to sack a man, they sack him. But the Public Service Act lays down, and this bill will lay down, conditions with respect to whom the Public Service Board may employ. The suggestion that if the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) were agreed to the Public Service Board would suffer is altogether wrong. If it is argued that the board will be disadvantaged by the proposed amendment, I submit that it can be argued just as strongly that the board is at a disadvantage already in that the Public Service Act now lays down conditions of employment and instructions as to whom shall be employed. The Opposition’s proposal is a safeguard, and the Prime Minister should not laugh it off. The Commonwealth Public Service is a career service, and every Australian citizen should enjoy equal opportunities for applying for employment in that service if there is a vacancy which he feels he is qualified to fill. Certainly, if his application is rejected because of some report that he is not a proper person to fill the vacancy, he should have the right to appeal if he believes that he has been unjustly treated.
As to the other matter that was mentioned by the Prime Minister, and that I have raised on previous occasions, all I say is that I shall be supplying the honorable gentleman with facts which can be substantiated by a former senior officer of the Public Service who received a decoration from the Crown for his service to the Commonwealth, and I hope the Prime Minister will have further inquiries made upon receipt of that additional information.
Question put -
That the section proposed to be inserted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . 26
Question so resolved in the negative.
– by leave -I move -
In proposed section 45, sub-section (3.), omit “ in the Gazette or otherwise “, insert “ in the Gazette and in such other manner as the Board considers advisable “.
I understand that the Government will not accept this amendment, and I shall not press it. The feeling did exist among some members of the Opposition that a custom is growing up of not advertising all vacancies in the “ Gazette “. It is felt that, as far as possible, the “ Gazette “ should be used to advertise every vacancy that occurs so that any person who has a right to know that such a vacancy exists shall have the opportunity of applying if he believes that he has the qualifications necessary to fill the office. Perhaps the Prime Minister will have a look at the matter.
– Some of the colleagues of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) have apparently raised this matter with him. It is appropriate to point out that the Public Service Board feels that, normally, the existing means should be employed. That is quite right. But there may be some cases in which it would be almost absurd to do so. These provisions cover also the Fourth Division. Take a case in which it is desired to secure a junior postal officer, perhaps in Darwin or at Bourke in the west of New South Wales. An examination is set. Probably, there will be one candidate or two or three who reside in the locality. It seems rather fantastic under those circumstances to require gazettal. In such cases the usual course is to advertise in the local newspaper. I think the system has worked pretty fairly and I think that we should retain it.
– by leave - I move -
In proposed section 47c, sub-section (1.), omit “may”, insert “shall”.
This has to do with the public servant who retires to contest a parliamentary seat, either Federal or State. Some of my colleagues feel that it should be mandatory upon the Public Service Board to re-appoint such a person without a period of probation. Re-appointments used to be made by the Governor-General, but the power is now given to the board to re-appoint a person upon request. I understand from some legal authorities that “may” means “ shall “. The Public Service Board representatives have said that persons who have resigned to contest an election have never failed to secure re-appointment in the event of failure to be elected. Perhaps the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been advised on the matter and can inform the committee of the position.
– It is quite true that during the history of the act there has been no case in which re-appointment has been refused. In particular principle, I think there is merit in the idea of using the word “ shall “. But there is one aspect to which my attention has been directed. It concerns superannuation refunds when a man resigns for whatever purpose. I should like to have a look at this point and, if the position can be satisfactorily adjusted, I will take steps at a suitable time to make the change suggested by the honorable member.
– by leave - I move -
In proposed section 47c, omit sub-section (3.), insert the following sub-section: - “‘(3.) The re-appointment of a person under this section shall be without probation.”.
I do not know whether the board has advised the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) about this. I understand that it is the practice to make re-appointments without a period of probation. Perhaps this amendment could be considered for adoption, if not now, then in another place.
– The re-appointments are made, in this instance, without a period of probation.
– Then the amendment is not necessary?
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
.- I should like to seek information on one or two matters related to clause 11. I refer particularly to proposed new section 35 which states -
Subject to this division, a person shall not be appointed as an officer of the Second or Third
he has passed a qualifying examination . . .
I contrast that with the words in section 34 of the Public Service Act which provides that an applicant must have passed an open examination. I am sure that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) does not mean by a qualifying examination to contrast it with an open examination in the sense that it is to be a closed examination. It seems to me to be just a trifle vague. What is meant by a qualifying examination? The old examinations were run in conjunction with the tests for a leaving certificate or a junior public examination according to the State where the examination was being held. Those candidates who indicated that they wanted to be eligible for recruitment in the Public Service had their examination papers set aside and marked competitively for entrance to the Public Service. That was regarded as an open examination, and it obviated the complaints that are heard in some public services of nepotism and similar influences when people could be set a private examination and hole-and-corner methods could be adopted. I am sure that is not the intention here, but I should like the Prime Minister to explain later in some detail why the term “qualifying examination” has been used in preference to the earlier references to appointment upon examination.
I direct attention now to proposed new section 36 which deals with the appointment to the Public Service of graduates. My reading of the Boyer report is that is seems to imply recognition of the need to bring relatively more graduates into the Public Service than previously. The proposed new section will replace section 36a of the act which states in sub-section (3.) -
The number of appointments made under this section shall not exceed one-tenth of the number specified in the notification referred to in subsection (1) . . .
Again, I think the section was originally designed to protect those persons who entered the Public Service on a career basis by open or competitive examination so that there should not be floodings into the Public Service from outside. It was recognized that from time to time it was necessary to bring in different kinds of capacities, and provision was always there for graduates to be recruited. The words in the proposed new section 36 (1.) to which I wish to direct attention are -
The Board shall . . . ensure so far as is practicable, that not more than one-tenth of the total number of persons so appointed in a year
I would think that the Government means to see that there is a ratio or a sort of norm of one-tenth of the appointments over a period rather than in a particular year. It seems to me that the Government is circumscribing itself unduly by the use of the words “ ensure “ and “ practicable “ and tying the provision to one year rather than to a period of time. I imagine that you could well face the situation in a particular year of recruitment when there might be more graduates relative to non-graduates as applicants for jobs in the Public Service.
In contrast, you could get another year when the picture might go the other way. There might be a period of recession when boys of good calibre, who could not go on to a university, would have to take a job in the Public Service instead of graduating first. If the Government ties itself too rigidly to a formula, it is likely to be in a mathematical net between ensuring that certain things are done so far as practicable and then relating the provision to a year rather than to a period. I take it that the objective is a recognition that the modern Public Service needs a different type of recruitment now from the traditional one. I suggest that in this proposed new section, the Government is tying itself fairly rigidly. The section in the principal act simply stated “ one-tenth of the number “. I take it that the Government means in the bill not more than one-tenth, and hopes that the number will be at least one-tenth.
– As I understand this matter, the present section provides that not more than one-tenth of the number of appointments to be made in a year, as specified in a notification, should be gradu ates. The new proposal is more specific because it states -
The difference is between the number you specify and the number you actually take. This provision is that not more than onetenth of the number of appointees in any one year will be graduates.
– I suggest that you have not covered the possibility that in one year it might be easier to recruit graduates than non-graduates, and in some other years it might be easier to recruit non-graduates.
– You would like to see flexibility?
– Yes, taken over a period.
– Will you allow me to have a look at it?
– Yes, I suggest you have a look at it. I wish to turn now to proposed new section 38, which relates to the recruitment from outside the service of individuals in certain circumstances. Sub-section (3.) of proposed new section 38 states -
An appointment of a person under this section to an office shall not be made unless the Board certifies, after obtaining a report from the Permanent Head of the Department concerned, that it is satisfied that there is no officer available in the Commonwealth Service who is as capable as that person of filling the office.
Here, the Government proposes to shelter behind the defence that finally the Public Service Board makes a determination after obtaining a report from a permanent head. This asks those concerned to make an invidious decision that in their opinion there is no person in the Public Service qualified to take a particular job. The recommendation is made on knowledge of the persons in the Public Service, and the board is being asked to bring in from outside somebody about whom it has no knowledge. This lays the way open in some circumstances to a conspiracy. I am not suggesting that in a sinister sense; but there is a possibility of an agreement between a permanent head and the Public Service Board that a particular person is more capable than a person in the service. I am thinking more of an administrative or clerical position than a professional appointment. In some circumstances, if you want a draftsman, who i1 a professional man, you might invoke this section. But I think you are setting a very dangerous precedent when you say, in respect of a purely clerical or administrative job, that there is no person in the service suitable for that job. This would seem to indicate a fault in your recruitment methods.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Referring to the last matter that has been raised, I do hope that my friend will keep his impious hands ofl section 47, or section 38, as it will be, because if I may make this remark without prejudice, under my predecessors, before 1949, section 47 was used to bring several people into the Public Service of Australia who, in my opinion, formed after long acquaintance with them, were firstclass. In fact, I would have found it difficult to do business without them.
– Then will you explain in detail the difference between the new clause and the old one? After all, the old section 47 provided for this kind of contingency. Why is it necessary to bring in the new provision?
– It gives the power of appointment to the board. That power was previously held by the Governor-General. Section 47 was used in the past to appoint the great bulk of professional people to the service. The appointment of professional officers in the future will be covered by the new section 37, which is to be inserted in accordance with clause 1 1 of the bill. The number of cases that will have to be dealt with under proposed new section 38 will be very much smaller than the number dealt with under the similar provision in the existing act, section 47.
The opportunity has also been taken, while redrafting section 47 and preparing the proposed section 38, to bring the provisions relating to the time within which the report is to be laid before the Parliament into line with similar provisions of more recent acts. I really think that, apart from those few matters T have mentioned, the provision remains the same in substance. If it turns out, on experience, that there is some material change from the old provision - which, I believe, has worked very well - then I will be very willing to hear about it.
.- I wish to refer to the same clause, but not exactly the same aspects of it, as did the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). Proposed new section 37 provides -
Where the Board is of opinion that persons appointed to particular offices in the Second or Third Division should possess professional, technical or other special qualifications, a person shall not be appointed to such an office unless he possesses those qualifications and, if the Board thinks fit, a person who possesses those qualifications may be appointed to such an office notwithstanding that he does not possess the prescribed educational qualification.
Proposed section 38 then provides for special appointment to the second or third division of a qualified person, after the permanent head of the department concerned has declared that there is no person in the Commonwealth service capable of filling the position in question. Proposed sub-section (4.) of section 38 then provides -
Where the Board makes an appointment under this section, it shall cause a statement containing particulars of the appointment together with a copy of the report and certificate referred to in the last preceding sub-section to be laid before each House of the Parliament within six sitting days of that House after the making of the appointment.
There is no such requirement under proposed section 37. A man who possesses certain professional, technical or other special qualifications, irrespective of whether he is of the prescribed educational standards, can be brought in and appointed to a position, and there is no requirement that the Parliament shall be informed of that appointment. If such a requirement is considered necessary under section 38, in respect of special appointments to the second or third division, why is it not also considered necessary in the case of appointments to positions in which professional, technical or other special qualification* are required? 1 would like to raise one other point. Under proposed section 38, sub-section (3.)-
An appointment of a person under this section to an office shall not be made unless the Board certifies, after obtaining a report from the
Permanent Head of the Department concerned, that it is satisfied that there is no officer available in the Commonwealth Service who is as capable as that person of filling the office.
There could be an occasion on which the permanent bead of a department would be influenced by personal dislike of certain officers of the Public Service possessing qualifications superior to those of persons outside the service who were applying for a particular position. It is unlikely that this would happen in many instances, but it is a possibility. Officers inside the service, possessing outstanding qualifications, might be passed over simply because they were unknown to the permanent head of the department, who would then give the necessary certificate and leave the way open for the appointment of an outside person. Any officers passed over in this way would have no right of appeal. They would have no way of finding out why they were passed over, or why the permanent head had certified that they were not as capable - and that is as high as he needs to put it - of filling the position as the outside applicant.
Those are the two points on which I would like clarification. First, I ask why proposed section 37 does not provide for a statement to be laid before the Parliament, and, secondly, I ask why there is no right of appeal under proposed section 38.
– Will the Prime Minister also explain the use of the expression “ qualifying examination “ instead of “ open examination “, in proposed section 35 (a)? The existing section 34 (b) provides for open examinations.
.- The honorable member asks about the change of the phrase “open examination “ to “ qualifying examination “. I do not think that any significant change is intended. All examinations are, in effect, open examinations. The point is that now there has to be an examination to determine whether a man has a certain qualification. If there is anything more in it than that, I will find out and advise the honorable member.
The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) raised a matter which I think is quite important, concerning appointments under proposed section 38. I just point out to the committee that one can anticipate too many troubles in matters of this kind. Section 47 has been in existence for many years, and some appointments have been made under it - not very many, but some and, I think, most of them quite important. Theoretically, of course, the permanent head of a department might dishonestly suitable for this job “, simply because he say, “ There is nobody in my department wants to bring in a friend of his. That is a theoretical possibility. You cannot guard against that kind of possibility in all conceivable circumstances. If I were to produce the names of the people who have come into the Commonwealth Public Service over the last twenty years under section 47, I do not think any honorable member would complain that any one of them was dishonestly introduced, or was brought in as a result of a bad certificate having been given by the permanent head of a department. The point is that we should be able from time to time to bring into the Public Service at a fairly senior level men of outstanding qualities. Men like Sir Alan Brown and Sir John Crawford came in on this footing. When we want to bring in people of their calibre we must have an element of discretion. In those circumstances we cannot proceed according to a table of limits. There must be some element of discretion. There must be some power in the permanent head of a department. We are very lucky to have a supremely honest civil service with permanent heads of great integrity. The permanent head concerned certifies that he has not the man he wants for a particular post, but that there is at that time a person outside the service who fills the bill and is available for employment. I urge honorable members not to require everything to be written in the book of words. You cannot convert judgment of men into a table of logarithms. There must be some discretion. If at any time we suffer from a dishonest Public Service Board or a dishonest permanent head - we never have suffered in this way to date - that will be the time to consider whether we ought to lay down firmly what is to be done. Section 38 which will replace section 47 of the principal act is one of those provisions which, if it is not flexible, cannot do its job. If it is honestly applied it will do immeasurable good for the civil service of this country.
– What about proposed new section 37?
– Professional standards are actually fixed by universities and technical colleges. There is no question about the general qualifications The rules are these; the qualifications, in terms of technical standards, are laid down, and if a man satisfies those requirements he is entitled to employment as a technical officer. This is not a matter of waiving a rule or a standard; it is a matter of applying a known standard to the qualifications of the man who enters the service. In those circumstances it would be rather tedious if every university which gave a man a technical degree or every college which gave a man a technical diploma were required to set out all details. The only reason for doing so would be to show that the man was qualified. But he cannot join the Public Service unless he is qualified. This is not a case of a man joining in breach of the rules: this is a case of a man joining in a particular category which does not fall within the general qualifications for the civil service but within the specific qualifications for technical or professional work.
.- I should like the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to tell me why the following words are included in proposed new section 37: -
Surely if a man has been to a university and has obtained a diploma he must have the prescribed educational qualification. The addition of the words to which I have referred suggests that a person not possessing the prescribed educational qualification might be appointed to a position requiring special qualifications. I am not referring to professional or technical qualifications in this instance, but to special qualifications. T accept the Prime Minister’s explanation except in relation to the last few words of the proposed new section.
– I am happy to tell the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) that I raised the same question when I saw the draft of the bill because it seemed to me to be rather odd that a man with technical qualifications should have to be exempted from the prescribed educational qualifica tions. Let us consider the matter: The prescribed educational qualification may be an examination of leaving certificate standard. A man may never have taken the leaving certificate examination, but he may have attended a technical school and have developed considerable qualifications in some technique or technology so that he is a very able person. He may have obtained a diploma from some technical college and may be regarded as extremely capable in his own field but still not possess the leaving certificate. That is the real reason why in these positions requiring professional and technical skill we have made an exception to the normal rule requiring the broad standard of the leaving certificate.
– by leave - I move -
After proposed section forty-seven c insert the following section: - “‘47ca. - (1.) A person who has been an employee for a continuous period of not less than twenty years is, subject to this section, entitled to be appointed as an officer of the Commonwealth Service, in an office the duties and salary applicable to which are substantially the same as the duties and salary applicable to him as an employee. “ ‘ (2.) The appointment of a person to the Commonwealth Service in pursuance of the last preceding sub-section shall be without probation. “ ‘ (3.) A person to whom sub-section (1.) of this section applies shall not be required to undergo any medical examination before appointment and shall be appointed in accordance with that sub-section whether or not he is within the appropriate age limits for appointment determined under this Division or possesses the prescribed educational qualification.”.
The purpose of this amendment is to safeguard public servants who were appointed during or after World War II. and who never qualified for permanent appointment. I am not criticizing the service for not having arranged for the permanent appointment of these persons because many of them, although they had opportunities to pass the required examinations, did not bother to qualify. In some cases there may have been reasons why they did not qualify. Those persons possibly could be retrenched at the present time or, if conditions of employment worsened, at any time before they reached 65 years of age. We would like to see the employment of such persons safeguarded. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) could give an assurance that temporary employees having twenty years’ service will be employed until they are 65 - the end of their effective service life - without any reduction in status or salary rates, I would not pursue the amendment further.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) agrees that various cases crop up, some of which possess a good deal of merit and some of which perhaps possess little merit. It is very difficult to lay down a broad rule to cover all such cases. In any event, one of the purposes of this bill, which arises out of the Boyer committee’s report, is to attract recruits of quality and to raise the standard of the service. Though : there must be exceptions here and there along the line, for a long time we have resisted the idea that because a man has been a temporary employee for twenty years he should have some vested right to permanency. The Leader of the Opposition is a man of experience in these matters and he knows that the board does everything possible to maintain employment for temporary employees who already have given long service. There is certainly no intention of varying that policy. A man who has given long service - for twenty years - in a temporary capacity has a claim which may not have to be expressed in terms of permanent appointment in breach of the general rules: but he has a human claim to be given special consideration, and the board contemplates that that will continue. In reply to questioning by me, the board says that it does not anticipate that there will be any threat to the continued employment of such people.
.- I should like the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to explain why we must continue with the concept of temporary employment. Why must there be this differentiation? In the Public Service of some of the States you accept the fact that when a person, is appointed to the service - this would apply to a great proportion of private industry also - he enters it with the same status as an employee as every one else. Surely it should be the objective in the Commonwealth Public Service, which ought to set a standard for the whole community, to prevent this grouping from continuing. I have given the matter a lot of thought -
I am a former public servant myself - and I know that in his explanation the Prime Minister gave the official view. But why can we not appoint people to the Commonwealth Public Service and say, “ That is that “, no matter what their job or qualifications or status may be. I have in mind particularly the position of many of our postmen.
– The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has made a fascinating proposal, but it would mean that we would have no temporary employees at all.
– But we have full employment.
– I thought you were putting it that we ought not to have any temporary employees and that every one employed by the Commonwealth ought to be a permanent employee. The suggestion opens up a very strange vista to me because under certain circumstances in public administration - for example when import licensing is in full cry - we may have to have hundreds of extra people engaged in some activity. We may have to take them on for that purpose, but if they are all to be taken on as permanent employees, so far as I can see you might as well make every temporary political activity permanent because you will have the boys there, anyhow. With great respect, this does not make much sense to me.
The Public Service of the Commonwealth of Australia is not to be an example of inflexible durability to the public. Surely the people are entitled to believe that just as all other industry takes people on in times of high demand, just as the farmer may take on a few extra hands when there is a record wheat harvest and might not want the same number of employees the following year, the Commonwealth is entitled to do likewise. Why should not the Commonwealth be in the position of having its permanent core of civil servants with permanency and political security, and with shelter from political favoritism and revenge and, at the same time, have around the edges of it the capacity flexibly to employ people as demand rises or falls? I am sorry, but I cannot for one moment accept the honorable member’s proposition.
.- I do not wish to advocate that there should not be any temporary employees in the Commonwealth Public Service, because then it would not be able to function. There is a good argument for further consideration being given to the temporary employees in our Public Service. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is full of merit. Many persons in the Commonwealth Public Service have given good years of their lives - many of them, perhaps, have not given twenty years’ service - and they deserve consideration. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition mentions a period of twenty years. I think we are making it a bit tough by stipulating twenty years, but that is a starting point. After serving the Commonwealth for that period of time people are entitled to be classified as permanent employees. Already the Public Srvice adopts this attitude, at least partly, in principle, because certain temporary employees are allowed to participate in the Provident Account, and I am not certain that some of them do not come under the superannuation provisions also. But in any event quite a number have been taken into the Provident Account and so the Commonwealth says, in principle, “You can regard yourself almost as a permanent employee, because we are anxious that you should be protected. You are going to be with us for a long while, so we are making these facilities available for you to join the Provident Account.”
In joining the Provident Account those temporary employees are placed almost on a level with permanent employees, with the difference, of course, that they know not when some government may decide that perhaps 10,000 or some other number of them should be dismissed from the Public Service, The moment that happens, temporary employees find their positions in jeopardy and a certain number of them have to go.. Heads of departments have no choice if they have to get rid of so many temporary employees; and no matter what the circumstances then, the, chap who has served the Government and the people, of Australia well and who may be equal, in the sacrifice he has made, to the permanent officer, is dismissed without further notice. We suggest that twenty years’ service is a fair assessment. If an employee serves for twenty years the Government should then say to him, “ You have proved yourself an efficient public servant. You are trustworthy. You are capable of doing your work and we are prepared to take you on a permanent basis, notwithstanding the fact that you may not have these other qualifications.” The fact that some temporary employees are allowed to join the Provident Account, whilst perhaps others are not, means that some are given a form of permanency. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is well worth while, and the Government should meet the wishes not only of the Opposition but also of the great number of loyal servants - exservicemen and others - who have worked in the Public Service for years and years, and it should agree to this request to give them permanency after twenty years’ service.
.- I should like to elaborate the rather fascinating viewpoint - according to the highest authority - which I put forward a moment ago. I refer to the idea of permanency as a constant feature of Commonwealth Public Service employment. In the first place, there is no diminution of the number of employees in the Commonwealth Public Service. Not only does the number not stay constant, but also it continually increases. So this is not a question of people being employed by hundreds, as casual labour, but of people who are permanent temporary employees in the Public Service. nm not speaking of ten, fifteen, twenty or even 500 employees. I have an idea that the number of temporary employees runs into a little more than 50 per cent, of the total number of Commonwealth employees, and I refer to people employed in the Post Office, in particular. There is a huge number of people, delivering letters every day, who will continue delivering letters until the day they retire and they are, in effect, temporary employees. I believe this position stems from the inadequacy of our approach to the question of superannuation and ineligibility for admission to the Superannuation Fund.
I put the point, as a former public servant, that there is the question of security which comes from being admitted to a superannuation fund. I believe that the Commonwealth Public Service has probably a higher proportion of people who are temporary permanent employees or permanent temporary employees than have most other public services and certainly a higher proportion than exists in the teaching service in Victoria. The authorities in that State have recently taken steps, under a government affiliated with the right honorable gentleman’s political viewpoints, to give permanency of employment to married women. I should not often hold up Mr. Bolte as an example to anybody; but there is an instance in which Victoria has overcome something which for years appeared to be an insuperable difficulty. I think it is the logical way to treat the people who do the ordinary day-to-day work of the community.
– I do not withdraw the word “ fascinating “, but I think that the honorable member may be interested to know that the percentage of permanents in Commonwealth employment, which was 47 per cent, at about the end of the war - I merely take that as a period - is now 63 per cent. So there has been a considerable improvement in that direction. There is, of course, a good deal of temporary and casual employment, which is quite inevitable with day-labour staff and so on; but the general idea is, without violating any of the rules of practicality, to increase, as opportunity offers, the percentage of permanent people and, as I say, the figures are very interesting. I had not known them until the honorable member raised the point - but from 47 per cent, to 63 per cent, is quite a remarkable change.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 15 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 16 (Leave of absence to attend proceedings under Public Service Arbitration Act, &c).
– This clause simply provides as follows: -
Section sixty-nine of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (3.).
Section 69 of the principal act provides - (1.) The Chief Officer may grant leave of absence with pay to not more than two representatives of an organization for the purpose of attending proceedings under the Public Service Arbitration Act 1920-1952 . . .
Sub-section (2.) provides -
The Chief Officer may grant leave of absence without pay, for such periods as are prescribed, to the representatives of an organization for the purpose of the preparation of evidence for submission on behalf of the organization in any such proceedings.
Sub-section (3.) which is to be repealed by this clause provides that the periods during which an officer is absent shall, for such purposes as are prescribed, be included as part of the officer’s period of service. But under clause 21 of this amending bill a new provision is to be inserted. Subclause (1.) of clause 21 reads -
After section seventy-two a of the Principal Act, the following section is inserted: - “ 72aa. - (1.) Where leave of absence without pay is granted to an officer or employee under section sixty-nine, seventy, seventy-one or seventytwo a of this Act, the Board shall determine whether the period during which the officer or employee is absent on that leave is to form part of his period of service or employment under this Act for any purpose and, if so, the purposes for which it is to form part of his period of service or employment.
We think that an officer granted leave under section 69 will be in a worse position under the act as it is proposed to be amended than he would be in if the act were to remain as it is. We have the feeling that the officer may be sacrificed at some time or in some way; that the board is being given additional powers which may be wrongly exercised; that the officer concerned may be losing something. There is no guaranteed protection for any officer in future. The board may say: “Very well, it is all right for the chief officer to give leave to two representatives to appear before an arbitration commission or a public service authority to determine wages; it is all right for the chief officer to grant leave of absence without pay to somebody to prepare evidence; but we, the members of the board, think that that absence should not count as part of that officer’s service. We think that his service should be interrupted.”
I do not think that the Government would intend that that should happen. But there is no guarantee that it will not happen, and we cannot understand why the board wants to do this. I cannot see anything in the Boyer committee’s report which recommends such a course. Perhaps the board, having had a lot of additional powers granted to it over recent years, is trying to get more and more power. I think that the position would be quite well safeguarded if it were left as it is. Perhaps the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) can throw more light on the subject, since we have not had the advantage of any advice from his officers as to why the change is being made.
– I wish to speak, on the same point, to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), but with your permission, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like also to refer to section 70 and section 71 of the act.
– Sections 70 and 71 are separate. I am moving separate amendments on them.
– Yes, but they refer to the same style of thing - giving the board certain powers to grant leave. They deal with leave of absence for people appearing before arbitration authorities, leave of absence for men in order to enable them to occupy executive offices in industrial organizations as prescribed under the Public Service Arbitration Act, and leave of absence to people who go to work for other governments. Sub-section (3.) of section 69 provides -
The periods during which any officer -
is absent on leave granted pursuant to the last preceding sub-section; or
was, before the commencement of this section, absent on leave without pay in connexion with any proceeding before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or the Arbitrator, to which his organization was a party, shall for such purposes as are prescribed be included as part of the officer’s period of service.
So it was mandatory that they be included. Under the Government’s proposed amendment that will no longer be mandatory. The proposed new section 72aa will read - (1.) After section seventy-two a of the Principal Act, the following section is inserted: - “72aa. - (1.) Where leave of absence without pay is granted to an officer or employee under section sixty-nine, seventy, seventy-one or seventytwo a of this Act, the Board shall determine whether the period during which the officer or employee is absent on that leave is to form part of his period of service or employment under this Act for any purpose and, if so, the purposes for which it is to form part of his period of service or employment.
So the board is to be given the right to determine whether leave of absence in order to appear before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or the Arbitrator, or to work for another government, or to take up duties as an executive officer of an industrial organization, shall be counted as part of the period of service. Perhaps, again, the Prime Minister will accuse me of being over-suspicious. At the same time, it is pertinent to point out that previously such leave was counted as part of the officer’s period of service, particularly when it was taken under section 69. Now the board is to have the right to determine whether it shall or shall not be so counted. Section 72a provides that where an officer goes to work for another government - say, in connexion with the Colombo Plan, or as technical adviser or assistant on some scheme that we might introduce or help to introduce in some other country - during the period for which he is working for the other government he is not necessarily covered by the Public Service Act. Under the Government’s proposals an officer’s period of service as an officer of an industrial organization, or the time he spends appearing before an arbitration court, is not necessarily to be counted as part of his period of service.
I refer particularly to members of the Commonwealth Public Service who go overseas to help the Governments of Malaya, Singapore or India or of the under-developed nations as technical assistants, treasury advisers and so on. It is most imperative in these days that Australia should make available advice and assistance to any government with which we have friendly relations in order to assist with the administration of the country. The very best officers should be made available. But if such officers run the risk of not necessarily receiving credit for their period of service with the Government of Malaya, Singapore or India, many of them will be reluctant to make themselves available. If we are to remain a friendly, co-operative and peace-loving nation in the Pacific, it is absolutely essential that we co-operate with our near neighbours and make available to them the people that they may request from us at any time. But unless their service in the Commonwealth Public Service is safeguarded, many officers will not participate in these schemes.
Similarly with union activities, officers will be reluctant to accept positions as executive officers of associations or to appear before arbitration tribunals if there is a risk that their leave without pay for this purpose will not be included in their period of service with the Commonwealth Public Service. Unless adequate protection is given to officers who engage in industrial activities, we will find that union matters will be left to those who are not sufficiently interested in them because others will not be prepared to sacrifice their rights in the Public Service. I do not say this with any malice, but I feel that this is the thin end of the wedge. I believe that this provision will take away from the officer who appears as an advocate or who accepts an executive position with his association, the safeguard that if he is defeated in an election to fill the position or if he resigns, he can go back to the Public Service and know that his period of service has continued although he has been engaged in these activities.
I believe that it should be mandatory for periods of leave without pay, granted to an officer to appear before an arbitration tribunal, to work as an executive officer of an industrial organization or to work for another government, to be regarded as a period of service under the Commonwealth Public Service Act.
.- I wish to address myself to clause 16, which provides for the omission of sub-section (3.) from section 69. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has dealt with this matter fairly thoroughly, but I want to take the matter further. Although this is perhaps a slight matter and although there may be no real intention to do so, this amendment to the principal act will discourage employees from making representations to the Public Service Arbitrator or other arbitration tribunal. This seems out of keeping with the spirit of the rest of the bill and is out of keeping with the encouragement given over many years by the Public Service Board and by this and other governments to officers to take an interest in the activities of their industrial organization and to prepare evidence for submission to arbitration tribunals.
– Does the honorable member know that leave for arbitration purposes is already provided in awards, and the provision is zealously obeyed?
– We are not arguing that point because the board has been careful to allow leave for that purpose. But the omission of this sub-section will mean that leave so granted will not necessarily be counted as part of an officer’s service. The act at present provides that such leave “ shall for such purposes as are prescribed be included 3s part of the officer’s period of service “. Once leave was granted, it was mandatory to count it as part of the service, but that provision is now being removed from the act. An officer will still be able to obtain leave to prepare evidence, but the Government is saying to him, “ It will be decided later whether the leave should be counted as service “. This surely is not the Government’s intention. I am sure that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will appreciate that it is difficult to keep associations within the Public Service as well organized as are unions in the metal industries and other callings involving manual work.
Most of the Public Service unions consist of a full-time federal secretary and perhaps several part-time State secretaries and a president. When it becomes necessary to prepare a claim to be placed before the board or an arbitration tribunal, the secretary and the president are granted leave for two weeks or for some other period - I do not know what the period would be. In the past, encouragement was given to officers to take an active interest in the affairs of their union. They were able to obtain leave to prepare a case, knowing full well that once leave was granted it would be counted as service. This may sound trivial and the period of such leave may not be substantial when considered in the light of the total service of an officer, but it is a privilege that the Government is taking away.
This is so trivial that I am sure it could not have been done with any real intent to discourage officers from taking part in arbitration proceedings. Therefore, I ask the Prime Minister to have another look at it. We have heard how efficiently the act has operated in many respects, and the provision as it was in the principal act has worked well for many years. Once leave was granted for this purpose, it counted as service. I ask the Prime Minister not to remove this provision from the act. It means a good deal to those officers who are not only serving the Commonwealth well in the positions that they hold but are also serving their fellow workers well in attending to the affairs of their unions.
– I shall deal with the last matter first. As I understand it, the position is in fact covered by awards. I am also told by the Public Service Board that it has dealt quite generously - and I think quite properly - with employees assisting the various unions in arbitration matters. There is another comment that I want to make on section 69, which deals with this matter. It did say that the periods during which an officer was on leave attending to these arbitration matters and so on “ shall for such purposes as are prescribed be included as part of the officer’s period of service”. The fact is that no prescription has ever been made. It shows how rather theoretical this matter is. As I understand it, there never has been a prescription by regulation or appropriate means. Therefore, the section, as a section, has not operated. Its purpose has in fact been encompassed by sensible administration. But I will say this to the honorable members: If at any time while I am responsible for these matters it turns out that some breach of the spirit of what we are talking about has been made, I will certainly be prepared to make a statutory amendment to deal with it, because T agree entirely with the policy that has been pursued by the Public Service Board in the past.
But as for the rest of it, let me point out that this is really a tidying-up operation. It is an attempt to get together a series of things and give the board some normal administrative discretion in dealing with them. The board has to deal with much more important matters with discretion. You have furlough, incremental advance- .lent. recreation leave, seniority and sick leave. As the law now stands, if T may say so, with respect, it is a mess. Section 69 (3.) of the act says that periods “ shall for such purposes as are prescribed be included as part of the officer’s period of service “. Section 70 provides, it is true, that an officer may be granted leave of absence without pay for a period not exceeding six months, but not a word is said about it being counted for long service leave. The section just says nothing about that. In section 72a, you have a contrary kind of provision, in these terms -
The period during which any officer is absent on leave granted pursuant to this section shall not, unless otherwise ordered by the Board, for any purpose be included as part of the officer’s period of service.
That refers to leave given because an officer has been made available to the government of another part of the Queen’s Dominions. A similar provision appears in section 71, which provides for the granting of leave without pay. Sub-section (2.) of that section provides, -
The period during which an officer or employee is absent on leave granted under this section shall not, unless the Board otherwise determines, be deemed to form part of the period of service . . .
Of these four sections, two provide that the leave shall not count as part of the period of service, one provides that prescribed leave shall be included as part of the period of service, and the other section is as silent as is the tomb on this point.
I think that the Public Service Board is quite right, if I may say so, in feeling that these things ought to be made coherent - that they ought to be brought together, and that for the purposes of these important benefits that civil servants have, there should not be a variety of provisions, one the opposite of another, some vague and some as yet unused. There ought to be vested in the board, which, I am sure, enjoys the confidence of this chamber and of the civil service, a broad discretionary power to deal with all these matters and to introduce some broad satisfactory rules with respect to the five matters that I have dealt with. If we want artificial rules about them all, we will need another act, because it would take another act to set out all the rules that must apply to each of these five aspects of a vast variety of civil servants if there is no discretion.
I want to say to honorable members that there is great merit in discretion. If we did not have discretions occasionally in the law and in administration, the most terrible injustices would be done. One man might fall within the rule by a fraction and have the benefit of it. Another man might fall outside it by a fraction and fail completely. I must say that when I am dealing with an honest body of administrators, I like to feel that they have that degree of discretion which a humane man would want to have in dealing with problems of this kind.
Mr. STEWART (Lang [9.4].- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I agree with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that the Public Service Board should have the degree of flexibility which has been described. This word “ flexibility “, I may say, has become quite popular in the last few weeks. I agree that the board should have a degree of flexibility in determining whether leave shall be granted to certain employees and then counted as part of their period of service. But I feel that unless honorable members point out some of the dangers that are involved, any body of administrators will be inclined to become enmeshed in red tape.
– I was not complaining about the points that were raised.
– I appreciate that. Honorable members will find that there are occasions when the Public Service Board or the heads of departments seem to lean on the side of the administration rather than on the side of the employee in the exercise of discretion. I merely wanted to make certain that these provisions, about the application of which there has never been any complaint up to the present time, will continue to be administered in the same manner.
While we are talking about leave of absence. I should like to deal with the annual recreation leave that is granted to officers of the Public Service. The Secretary of the Public Service Board, in a letter, has stated -
Permanent officers of the Service are eligible for three weeks’ recreation leave upon the completion of the first twelve months’ service and thereafter on the 1st January each year . . . provided there has been no temporary service prior to permanent appointment, in which case special conditions apply. Should an officer submit his resignation he may be granted any recreation leave due to him in respect of the Calendar year in which his services terminate provided he has reached the anniversary in that year of his date of appointment to the Service. There is no provision whereby pro-rata recreation leave-
Order! I remind the honorable member that clause 15 dealt with leave of absence for recreation, and the committee has already agreed to that clause.
– I crave your indulgence, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I had the recreation leave provision marked in the act, but not in the bill. I think that not too many honorable members appreciate the significance of this provision.
Order! The honorable member may not continue to deal with this matter, because the clause which related to it has already been agreed to by the committee. If the honorable member is allowed to continue, the discussion of leave of absence will be re-opened.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 1 7 agreed to.
Clause 18 (Leave without pay).
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I accept the assurance by the Prime Minister that if it comes to his notice that anything is done in respect of section 69, section 71, section 72a or proposed new section 72aa to which objection could be taken, he will have statutory amendments made at a later stage.
– If I agree with any objection that is taken.
– If he agrees that something ought to be done.
– That is right. The spirit of this business must be observed.
– That is how I intended to express myself. I leave it to the Prime Minister to determine whether in his opinion the spirit of the act as it will be amended by this bill is infringed or is likely to be infringed. I accept his assurance that if he feels that something that should not have been done has been done. an appropriate amendment of the act will be made. I merely state that formally. I do not wish to discuss this clause at any length.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 19 to 35 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause.
Section proposed to be amended - 30.- (1.) Officers of the First Division shall be paid such salaries as the Parliament provides. (2.) Officers of the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions shall be paid salaries at such rates, or in accordance with such scales of rates, as are prescribed. (3.) The regulations may, notwithstanding the classification of offices, provide for the variation of rates of salary according to variations in the cost of living.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- “ 9a. Section thirty of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - (4.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the rates, or scales of rates, of salary payable to female officers shall not be less than the rates, or scales of rates, of salary payable to male officers performing equivalent duties.’.”.
I move this amendment with a great deal of pleasure, because I think we have reached the stage at which we should recognize the right of women performing equal duties with men to receive the same rate of salary as men. This principle has been adopted by, and is recognized in, public services other than the Commonwealth Public Service throughout Australia. I know that conductresses on the trams in Victoria receive exactly the same wages as do male conductors. I know that women porters employed by the Victorian Railways receive exactly the same salaries as male porters. I know, too, that assessors in the Commonwealth Taxation Department receive the same margin over the basic rate as do males, but that their base rate is only 75 per cent, of the base rate for males. In other words, they receive something like £104 a year less than men receive.
– Lady members of the legislature receive the same salaries as male members.
– The five lady senators receive the same salaries as the male senators.
– They receive the same as Senator Wood.
– They receive the same as Senator Wright, Senator Wood, or any other senator. As a matter of fact, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, their intelligence is of a much higher quality than that of Senator Wright or Senator Wood. We did have a lady member of this place who received the same salary as every other member of the House of Representatives. She received a salary equivalent to that received by every other member of the Ministry at the time she held a portfolio. She was a charming member of this chamber.
– There was one on your side, my dear fellow, and you put her out.
– That is true. But we did not put her out because she was a woman; we put her out because she was not a member of the Labour Party. We have no hesitation in removing members who are not members of the Labour Party. Indeed, the party that supports the Government in South Australia has already placed Senator Buttfield No. 3 on its ticket to ensure her defeat at the next election. But that is another matter.
Women doctors receive the same salaries as male doctors in the public hospitals throughout Australia. Women lawyers are paid exactly the same as male lawyers. I do not know how women teachers are paid in the teaching services of the States, but I should imagine that women professors in the universities - and there are some - and women lecturers are paid salaries equivalent to those paid to male professors and lecturers.
– Women are not paid the same salaries as men in the New South Wales teaching service.
– I am talking about university people, not teachers in the teaching services. The time has arrived when the services of everybody should be treated not on the basis of sex, but on the basis of his or her intellectual contribution to community welfare. If we have in the Public Service women who are doing work equal to that being done by men, they ought to be paid the same salaries as the men are paid.
Other countries which we would have regarded as backward countries years ago are much further advanced in this field than we are. The United Nations organization, which does not always enjoy the respect that it should in this chamber, adopted the principle of equal pay for equal work long ago. Some countries have not only adopted but have implemented the recommendation of the United Nations organization in this matter. Speaking now as a layman, not as a lawyer, I submit that, under our external affairs power, we should have adopted and implemented that recommendation in the federal sphere, and also endeavoured to induce the States to implement it. At all events, we can make a start in our own Commonwealth Public Service and in the Commonwealth Territories. It is because I think it is better to start now rather than later that I have moved the amendment. I ask the Government to accept it. If it will not, we shall divide the committee on the issue because we want to indicate to the people that women, having the same voting rights as men, should have the same pay as men if they do the same work as men.
There is too much Victorian influence being exerted in this chamber. Perhaps the fact that it was not until 1906 that women in Victoria enjoyed a vote for the Legislative Assembly is still weighing heavily on the minds of those members of the Ministry who come from Victoria. Be that as it may, conservatism is still affecting the minds of the Ministry with regard to the position of women in the community. If the Government will not act now, some other government will within the next few years. We think this Government ought to act now because it is entitled to establish at least one monument for its eleven years of office. We are prepared to help the Government establish that monument by persuading it to accept the proposition of equal pay for women doing equal work. I hope that we shall see some of the Liberal Party members on the Government side, and some Country Party members too, who attend quite a number of women’s gatherings between elections seeking to persuade the women to vote them into office, indicating that they do not regard our womenfolk as inferior beings who ought to be paid only 75 per cent, of the male rate when they happen to be employed in a government department or otherwise on the government pay-roll.
.- I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) seeking equal pay for men and women public servants. It will give an opportunity for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the members of his party to show their sincerity in this matter on two counts. The first is that they always plead that this Parliament cannot legislate on such industrial matters as this. Nevertheless, there is no limit to its power to legislate on industrial conditions in the Commonwealth Public Service or in Commonwealth Territories. The Government can show now that it really believes in equal pay for the sexes. The second count is that, since last week, it has at last become Liberal dogma that there should be equal pay for men and women. The only party represented in this House which does not believe in equal pay for men and women doing work of equal value is the Country Party. Therefore, I would expect all members of the Labour Party who have proclaimed this principle for some decades, and members of the Liberal Party, who have proclaimed it for the last seven days, to join in supporting the proposed amendment.
In most other comparable public services in the English-speaking world this either is the practice already or it will be within the next couple of years. I direct the attention of honorable members to a publication produced by the former Minister for Labour and National Service two and a half years ago, a publication which reviews the position in various countries in regard to equal pay. It appears from this that, in the case of the United States of America, the wage rate of Federal Government employees is based on the job and not on the sex of the worker performing it. Again, in the Federal Civil Service in Canada, the Civil Service Commission determines, in relation to classified civil servants, salaries for the various classifications of jobs, irrespective of the sex of the employee. Salaries within any particular grade are the same for men and women.
Thirdly, in February, 1955, the United Kingdom Government agreed to introduce the principle in the administrative and legal departments of the non-industrial Civil Service, the change to be introduced over a period of six years by granting female members of the Civil Service annual increments which would, by 1961, bring their pay to the level of the male civil servant performing the same work. Lastly, in New Zealand in October last both the Government and the Opposition supported a bill providing for equal pay for men and women performing equal duties in the Dominion Public Service.
As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, this matter is the subject of an International Labour Office convention - No. 100, which was passed in 1951.
– With what reservations?
– The convention is quite clear. You have had two years in which to study it and your Government has had nine years. Other governments have not had the difficulty in understanding it and have not perpetrated the delay in carrying it out which your Government has shown. I have asked several questions in the House on this subject. It now appears that some 32 countries have ratified the International Labour Office convention. They include all the countries on the continent of Europe except Sweden, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal. Spain and, presumably, Andorra, San Marino and Monaco. All the Warsaw Pact countries and four countries of the European Economic Community have subscribed to this principle.
In the United States of America, some twenty of the States have adopted it. They include all the heavily industrialized states, those in the north-east, around the Great Lakes, and along the whole western seaboard. In Canada, seven of the provinces have adopted it - not only the Dominion itself, but all the industrialized provinces and all the prairie ones, too.
The convention has been discussed with «he Australian States for some time now.
When the former Minister for Labour and National Service made a statement on this subject to the Parliament on the 15th October, 1953, he said that his Government had no objection to the principle of equal pay for men and women for equal work. He said that the Victorian Government had stated that it favoured ratification of the International Labour Office convention. In November, 1953, the New South Wales Government told this Government that it favoured ratification of the convention. South Australia and Western Australia, at that time, said that they did not agree to the ratification and the other two States expressed no view at all. The matter was discussed with the States again in July, 1954, again between January and March, 1956, and again in April last, and we are no nearer carrying out this convention in Australia than we have been at any time since our representatives attended the conference of the International Labour Conference nine years ago. This is one respect in which we can carry it out. I am glad that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) interjected when I was speaking earlier because he has remained very uncommunicative on this subject. Our record in ratifying International Labour Office conventions is the worst in the English-speaking world. We have ratified 25 International Labour Office conventions out of, I think, 116 which have been passed. In September, 1959, the Minister for Labour and National Service said -
I hope to be in a position to present a statement relative to some or all of these Sessions-
That is, from 1957 onwards - during the present sessional period of the Parliament.
Again, in September of this year, he said -
It is hoped to table the statement relative to the 1957 Session during the present Parliamentary session.
He has so far presented no such statement. During his term of office - last year and this year - we have, for the first time for some years, been told nothing about pending International Labour Organization conventions. Therefore I suggest that we should at last have some action on this equal pay convention which was passed nine years ago. We do not have to wait for State approval to take action. The bill before the committee concerns our own employees. If there were frankness and honesty on the Government benches honorable members there would support this principle which they say, as a government, they do not object to, and which they now say, as members of the Liberal Party, they support.
– I am bound to welcome the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in his role as the exponent of frankness and honesty. This, I think, will be very warmly received on both sides of the chamber. Of all sad words of tongue or pen the saddest are these, “ It might have been “. Here are these gentlemen sitting opposite, their hearts bleeding for the principle of equal pay in the civil service - a matter, which we have just been eloquently told is entirely within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government - yet all the time that they were in office they just did not get around to implementing it.
– But the women regard you as their man.
– So you concede that, do you?
– They vote for you because they like your voice.
– You are now insulting women by telling them that they were beguiled by my voice. But I was not talking about the new comers. I was talking about my friend sitting opposite who now has discovered this great urge to provide equal pay for women. He knows perfectly well that the debate on this bill is just the wrong place in which to raise this matter. This bill deals with employment under the Public Service Act. There is a vast amount of employment by the Commonealth which is outside the Public Service Act. If equal pay were introduced under this bill it would at once create an anomaly. Indeed, that is probably the object of the Opposition’s proposal - to create an anomaly which will prompt action elsewhere to force the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to deal with this great issue under pressure by the Commonwealth Government. That, of course, is the whole idea and apparently the Opposition admits it. We recall how in the past the New South Wales Government put pressure on the arbitration tribunal. But the Arbitration Commission is the proper place for this matter. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) well knows, it has dealt with this matter in the past. It has fixed a percentage of the male basic wage as the female basic wage. It cannot be said that the people who did that were tories. Not for one moment!
– They were influenced by tories.
– It cannot be said that they were either tories or influenced by tories. The honorable member knows per.fetly well what I mean. The Arbitration Commission fixed a percentage of the male basic wage as the female basic wage. What happens in the Commonwealth Public Service is that the differences which exist between male and female rates correspond to differences between the male and female basic wage. In other words, if there is a difference between the male basic wage and female basic wage of £150, that difference is carried through the salaries for various positions. The basic wage, male and female, is dealt with by the Arbitration Commission, but the margins added to that for the Commonwealth Public Service are non-discriminatory as between men and women doing the same work. Therefore, on a proper analysis, what the honorable gentleman is trying to do - I do not really think he is trying to do it, but he appears to be trying to do it - is to ask us to decide a basic wage issue in this Parliament on an amendment to the Public Service Act, and I am jolly well not going to do it.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has completely begged the question. We on this side of the committee believe that there is a growing body of world opinion which accepts the principle of equal pay for men and women doing equal work, and that there is an increasing demand by the public in that respect. There is an increasing realization also that there is no differentiation between the abilities of the sexes, particularly in administrative work, and it is time for the Commonwealth to do something about it. This is quite relevant to the province of the right honorable gentleman as head of the Commonwealth Public Service. It is not the purpose of the Opposition to pressurize anybody into anything. If it is a question of high policy, as the right honorable gentleman has so eloquently explained, there is nobody else to whom it should be more properly handed to settle than the Prime Minister. This Parliament and this Government should see that it is done.
Obviously, the Prime Minister does not suggest that the lady senators should be paid a proportion of the salaries that are paid to other members of the Parliament. Here in this place is probably one of the few sections of the community where women can achieve equal pay for equal work. The principle is accepted also in the payment of fees to women doctors under the health and medical scheme. So it is not so much a question of creating anomalies by accepting the principle of equal pay but simply a question of removing an anomaly that is offensive to nearly all women in the community. We must accept the fact that many women have equal responsibility. That is the case with many women in Public Service employment and in the case of widows with children who are receiving less wages than men without children. There is no justification for that position. It is up to the right honorable gentleman to find some standard other than the precedents of the past and try to lay down some principle that is more acceptable to modern thinking and in line with the prosperity about which he speaks so often.
Question put -
That the clause proposed to be inserted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause.
Section proposed to be amended - 82b. - (1.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding section, if the Board is satisfied that any person who was temporarily employed in any Department -
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- “ 28a. Section eighty-two b of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-section (1.) the words ‘ the Board may ‘ and inserting in their stead the words ‘ the Board shall
This matter has already been dealt with by the committee. I shall not press the amendment, but merely place it on record.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- Unfortunately I did not have an opportunity to speak on a matter at the committee stage, and I take the opportunity of raising it now. It has reference to the grant of recreation leave to employees of the Commonwealth Public Service. I shall first read an extract from a letter which I received from the secretary of the Public Service Board. It is in these terms -
Permanent officers of the Service are eligible for three weeks’ recreation leave upon the completion of the first twelve months’ service and thereafter on the 1st January each year (Public Service Act, Section 68), provided there has been no temporary service prior to permanent appointment, in which case special conditions apply. Should an officer submit his resignation he may be granted any recreation leave due to him in respect of the Calendar year in which his services terminate provided he has reached the anniversary in that year of his date of appointment to the Service. There is no provision whereby pro-rata recreation leave or payment in lieu thereof may be made to a permanent officer for an uncompleted year of service.
The secretary of the Public Service Board mentioned section 68 of the Public Service Act, which I shall now read for the benefit of the House: -
The act stipulates, therefore, that if a person has had leave of absence for some other reason during a particular period of twelve months, his recreation leave may be reduced accordingly. On the other hand, a permanent officer who resigns from the service before completing a particular period of twelve months’ service does not receive any pro rata payment in lieu of leave.
The particular case I have in mind concerns an employee of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. He commenced work in the Public Service on 11th January, 1954, so that his first period of recreation leave became due on 11th January, 1955. His annual recreation leave thereafter fell due on 1st January in each year. This employee worked until 1959. His fifth period of annual leave became due on 1st January, 1959, and he subsequently took that leave. On 1st January, 1960, he would again have been entitled to his annual recreation leave. Being dissatisfied with the area in which he was employed, he tendered his resignation, to take effect on Christmas Eve, 24th December, 1959. That was the date on which he was due to commence the annual leave that was to fall due on 1st January, 1960. Because he submitted his resignation, to become effective before the annual leave became due, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, following Public Service instructions and standard practices, said that no leave was due to him because the annual leave did not fall due until 1st January, 1960.
This man worked until he was within seven days of a full year’s service, but because he resigned seven days before the end of that full year he lost all the payment for public holidays over the Christmas period, plus payment for the three weeks’ annual leave to which he would have become entitled seven days later. The significant point is this: Had he commenced his annual leave on 24th December, 1959, and then submitted his resignation while on annual leave, to take effect from the date of completion of that leave, he would have lost nothing. He would have been entitled to his annual leave and to the public holidays. But, having resigned a week too early, he lost the four days public holidays and the three weeks annual leave, and he received no payment in lieu thereof.
It seems wrong that an employee should lose all his recreation leave after having worked for only a week less than the full twelve months period. In the case of State government employees, and employees in industry generally, provision is made for pro rata payment in lieu of annual leave. In the Commonwealth Public Service, however, while recreation leave may be reduced because of absence from duty during the year, the Public Service Board, working under its regulations - I cannot see any authority for it in the act - deprives employees of payment in lieu of annual leave if they resign before the expiration of a full twelve months period of service.
This seems to be a most unjust regulation, and I believe the Public Service Board - apparently it has the necessary authority - should provide for pro rata payment in lieu of annual leave accrued to a permanent officer who resigns before the date on which his annual leave becomes due, which in all cases is 1st January in the second year of service and every subsequent year. A temporary employee can receive pro rata payment, but a permanent employee cannot. I feel sure that few members of this Parliament realize that this practice is followed by the Public Service Board, and I feel sure, also, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who generally appreciates fairness and justice, is unaware of this procedure, which is followed in accordance with Public Service instructions and standard practices. I suggest that the Government should take action to ensure that pro rata payment is made for annual leave due to permanent employees of the Public Service who resign at some time within a particular twelve months period. I ask the right honorable gentleman to rectify this injustice.
.- We have been told that the Government is at present considering further amendments of the Public Service Act, some of them possibly relating to the employment of physically handicapped people - and I sincerely hope that some amendments will be made in this direction - and others concerned with the employment of married women. This bill has made some very good amendments of the principal act, but the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said that if we wanted to clear up the act and make it reasonably watertight we would need another bill. I think that is true. There are a number of important aspects that I should like to see dealt with more fully, possibly early in the next sessional period.
A number of cases have come to my notice over the last few years in which the Public Service Board has not meted out justice, although acting no doubt with the best intentions. Members of the board are only human. There is not the slightest doubt that if a public servant finds himself in conflict with the board he has a right of appeal only to Caesar. In other words, having submitted a basic case and having had that case rejected, there is no body or individual to which he can appeal legally for assistance. He cannot approach his member of Parliament while he belongs to the Public Service without running the risk of immediate dismissal. He must continue to appeal to the Public Service Board. I have adequate proof that in some cases injustices have occurred, although the Public Service Board may have had the best intentions. The service is very large, and I have no doubt that the board cannot always concern itself with the details of the problems of individuals. The Prime Minister, who is the ministerial head of the Public Service, has many duties to perform.
– Order! The honorable member is getting a little wide of the subject-matter before the Chair.
– If you do not mind my saying so, Mr. Speaker, I am speaking about certain proposals which should be implemented.
– The honorable member is not in order in canvassing the Public Service Act generally.
– What is the purpose of this bill?
– The bill has already been dealt with in committee. The motion now is that the bill be read a third time.
– Is it not correct that the Prime Minister has said that if we wanted all these matters to be dealt with thoroughly we would need another bill? I am referring to that aspect. Is that canvassing the Public Service Act generally?
– Order! The honorable member is departing from the subjectmatter before the Chair.
– I hope that at some time in the future an appeal tribunal which will be completely independent of the Public Service Board will be set up, and that public servants, if they find themselves in conflict with the board, will have the right of appeal to that tribunal.
Let me now deal with a matter to which the bill refers specifically. In a very general way there is some provision for reinstating public servants after they have resigned to stand as candidates in either a Commonwealth or a State election, but there is no mention of what happens to a public servant who seeks, and is not granted, leave without pay to stand as a candidate at an election. The act gives a discretionary power, not to the Public Service Board, not to the head of a particular department, but to the chief officer of a department to determine whether a man who wishes to stand as a candidate at an election shall resign from the service or be granted leave of absence without pay to contest the election. It would be wrong for the Public Service Board to have that power, but it is far more wrong that a chief officer in a department should have the power. Why should the public servant’s family be placed in jeopardy? At the whim of the chief officer the employee takes the risk of losing his superannuation rights if he is forced to resign’.
There are many issues of a similar nature which should be resolved in the legislation, and I intend to provide the Government with even more detailed suggestions than I have advanced in the past two years in the hope that the Government will adopt them.
– I am rather amazed at the speech that has just been made by the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm). I do not know whether he is trying to square-off at the expense of the Government or to make his alley good with supporters of the Labour Party in the Bowman electorate by seeking to prove that he is a better defender of public servants than is any one else. During the committee stage of the debate on this bill he had ample opportunities to say all the things that he wanted to say and to vote with the Opposition when we divided on some of those issues, but he did not bother to do so. I do not think he was even in the chamber, or, if he were, he voted with the Government. Now that the motion has been proposed that the bill be read a third time, he has made his protests. He has pretended that he is the strongest defender in this place of the Public Service, and that he knows more about it than does any one else. He has stated that he will provide the Government with a lot more information than any other honorable member has given it to date. The Parliament is sick and tired of that kind of humbug, and I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will not be misled into believing that the honorable member for Bowman is a better authority on this matter than is any other honorable gentleman who has already contributed to the debate.
The debate has been rather prolonged and every honorable member who has spoken has done so in a sincere desire to protect the interests of a splendid Public Service and to do justice not only to public servants but also to the Public Service Board. We are justly proud of those who have led the board. Perhaps we have not understood precisely what the board was aiming at in the amendments that were proposed, but we have not misjudged its motives. We give the board credit for wishing to do the best for the service. I did not intend to speak at this stage, but the mealy-mouthed speech of the honorable member for Bowman inspired me to join issue with him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
National Library Bill 1960.
Audit Bill 1960.
Apple and Pear Organization Bill 1960.
Without requests -
Apple and Pear Export Charges Bill 1960.
Debate resumed from 23rd November (vide page 3183), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a most important bill. In the next three years the Commonwealth Government will provide £103,000,000 for Australian universities compared with £55,000,000 in the past three years. This amount is to meet recurrent or running expenses, as they are called, and capital expenditure. Commonwealth funds will be provided in the ratio of £1 for £1.85 of State funds to meet recurrent or running expenses, and £1 for £1 for capital expenditure. The proposed increased grant of about 87 per cent, seems to be enormous or even, at a superficial examination, extravagant, but the first point to make in examining the bill is that the proposed grant is not extravagant in any way. This will be seen when one remembers that in the next three years it is estimated - I believe this to be an underestimate - that the student population will increase from 42,000, as it was in 1958, to 73,000 in 1963, an increase of nearly 75 per cent. We have also to take into account the fact that the provision of capital, buildings and so forth for universities in the next three years has to be at a relatively greater amount per student than in the last three years. There is apparently also an attempt to increase the staff-student ratio and to increase the facilities in universities. So the increase in funds is in no way extravagant and is hardly out of proportion at all, even with the increase in the number of students anticipated to be in the universities over that period. The Opposition supports this measure, but is going to be very critical of it. There is a number of points upon which criticism must be directed. I intend to look at the relationship between the bill and the report of the Universities Commission, upon which it is based. Other speakers for the Opposition will deal with the provision of funds for universities as a whole and will refer particularly to other forms of tertiary education which are relatively neglected by the Commonwealth.
At page 10 of the circulated version of the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) we were informed that the bill before the House carries on and develops the fundamental work which the 1958 act initiated. The Prime Minister said -
It is based on the firm belief that the development of our intellectual power and knowledge is vital to our future. We are a small nation of 10,000,000 people and we cannot escape meeting the rest of the world in competition. In common with honorable members, I am not willing to sit back and see Australia lag behind by omission. We must match the world in scholarship, in technology and trade.
I think this needs emphasis. The Opposition agrees with that fully, but states that not sufficient has been done over the last three years to make a reality of that statement. There is something lacking there if we examine what has occurred, and the Opposition underlines that fact. In the course of his speech, the Prime Minister said, in effect, that the world was happy with this report and with this bill. At page 6 of his speech, the right honorable gentleman said -
But by and large the Government feels that the commission’s analysis of the situation and its proposals are receiving a large degree of acceptance in Commonwealth and State government circles, among the universities and by the community in general.
I want to say at the outset that that is not completely so. The commission’s report and this bill which is based upon it have been pushed forward very quickly; the universities have hardly had time to consider them. Some of the universities received the report only about ten days ago and some of them did not receive it or the bill until late last week. The point is that there has been very little time for the universities or the State governments to consider this legislation. On the other hand, there is already evidence of considerable dissatisfaction. The official journal of the Australian University Staffs Association has devoted its editorial and a long article by Professor Butlin of Sydney University to criticism not only of this bill but also of the report upon which it is based. So the statement made by the right honorable gentleman is not altogether true.
Insofar as the universities have had time to consider this bill there has already been considerable criticism of it and it is my purpose to endeavour to sum up that criticism. It is a fairly difficult task. The criticism is that although the virtue of this legislation is that there is a good deal to be thankful for in the increase that is involved, it continues the main feature of the provision of university finance over the last few years. We have continuously recognized and the Government has recognized the existence of an emergency. In 1949 or 1950, we began to talk about the crisis in the universities and we recognized the existence of an emergency, but there were special circumstances. The first criticism I want to make is that it is said that what has been done in recent years and what is being done now is not consistent with that recognition. There is no sense of urgency and no sense of special circumstances about this report or about the bill that is based on it, just as there has not been such a sense in the attitude of the Government in recent years. The criticism is that the report itself is piecemeal. I have heard it described as a scissors and paste job. The approach is conservative and pallid. There is no sense of urgency in it at all. It is submissive and bureaucratic and accepts the view of the Treasury. As Professor Butlin said in the article referred to-
It is difficult to take a kindly view . . . even if the widely held belief is true, that it had to work within the overall limits set by the Treasury.
Has the Universities Commission, in making this report upon which the bill is based, been required to work within the overall limits set by the Treasury? Professor Butlin considers that a widely held belief - I assure the House that it is widely held - is that the commission has not used any sense of imagination or initiative, but has accepted submissively the bureaucratic structure of which it has become in a very short time a part.
– You are talking complete nonsense.
– The honorable member will probably have an opportunity to demonstrate that later in the evening. I am quoting a professor in the Sydney University, and I happen to know that in universities this is a widely held view. It is also widely held outside the universities. If the honorable member has any evidence to support his interjection he will have plenty of time to produce it a little later.
This bill, and the report in particular, has some political aspects. It makes no point of the main weaknesses which it recognizes have appeared since 1950. It merely states some of them casually and makes a particular point of some of the weaknesses which existed between 1945 and 1949. I want to examine the report in some detail in order to try to establish the proposition which I have submitted. At page 1, the report recognizes that at a very early stage the Royal Charter of the University of Sydney was granted and it declared that degrees of the University of Sydney would be recognized as academic distinctions and rewards of merit and would be entitled to rank with those of any university in the United Kingdom. In the case of Tasmania, in 1889, the preamble to the act for the University of Tasmania stated that it was intended to supply to all classes, without distinction, encouragement for pursuing a regular and liberal course of education. At the very first page, in quoting Sir John Medley, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, there is an admission that these standards have not been achieved. The commission quotes him as saying -
The two main handicaps to development in the past were poverty and isolation. These were alike responsible for two striking features - the homogeneity of type of the universities and the limited amount of staff and student migration taking place between them. There has not been enough money for bold experiment or enough competition to encourage variation in pattern.
That was Sir John Medley’s conclusion, not in 1858, but in 1958, and it is a conclusion which supports the proposition that the standards set out in the early stages have not been achieved in Australia.
The second proposition that emerges from the report is that the universities in Australia are largely and increasingly dependent upon government funds. The combined percentages of State and Commonwealth money has risen in the case of the University of Sydney from about 29 per cent, in 1907 to 50 per cent, in 1957. In the case of the University of Melbourne it has risen from 48 per cent, in 1907 to 57 per cent, in 1957. In the case of the University of Adelaide the percentage has risen from 29 per cent, in 1907 to 71 per cent, in 1957; whilst in the case of the University of Tasmania the percentage has risen from 80 per cent, in 1907 to 82 per cent, in 1957, and consequently the production of funds from fees and other sources has declined. The universities are increasingly dependent upon governments, and the first thing we must do is to face the fact that the universities are increasingly and mainly dependent upon State and Commonwealth funds. The first question which arises here is the independence of the universities. Inside the universities and outside them there has for a number of years been an unwillingness thoroughly to support applications for increased funds from the governments because they were afraid that this would lead to interference by governments. This question has often been left in the realm of the uncertain. It has been said that there has been interference of various kinds and recently, in support of this, some publicity has been given to a statement from a letter by Professor R. M. Hartwell, who is now at Nuffield College, in Oxford - a matter which was referred to by the Prime Minister himself in the House earlier to-day. I want at this stage to read some extracts from Professor Hartwell’s letter as it appeared in “ Vestes “, the organ of the Australian University Staffs Association, published on 1st December, 1960. The letter states -
On the particular issue of political discrimination in appointments, however, the University of New South Wales is probably unique in Australia in having had a systematic policy of excluding candidates with unfavourable security reports (reports having been obtained for all prospective appointees) but I believe that other universities were also at fault, although there more from the influence of prejudice than from the operation of a systematic policy. . . .
As regards the University of New South Wales I know only of the period up to November 1956. Up to that date a security check was made on all prospective employees of the university. This was done at first without the knowledge of the professors, and, indeed, subterfuge was used to keep the professors from knowing.
– Excuse me for interrupting, but do you identify “ security “ in that case with Commonwealth security?
– If the right honorable gentleman will have patience I will tell him. I am quoting from Professor Hartwell’s letter which goes on to state -
Early in 1956 I was on a selection committee to recommend a lecturer in History for my department. After a recommendation had been made, I was informed by the Bursar then by the Chancellor and subsequently by the Vice-Chancellor, that the recommendation was not acceptable because the man recommended was a security risk according to a Commonwealth security report. I attempted to convince Mr. Wurth (Chancellor) and Mr. Baxter (Vice-Chancellor) that such a ruling was not acceptable; but they would not change their minds, and, for example, they refused to look at, or to submit to the University Council, an impressive testimony to the character and scholarship of the candidate, secured from a number of senior academics in other universities. They refused also to inform the candidate of the charges made against him. I informed the ViceChancellor, therefore, that unless the appointment were made I would resign my Chair. The matter was discussed subsequently - against the wishes of Messrs. Baxter and Wurth - at the Professorial
Board and at the Council. The Vice-Chancellor assured Council that the recommended candidate was of such character and reputation that no Australian university could or would possibly employ him. He was appointed shortly afterwards to a lectureship at another university in New South Wales and has since published one of the most important books on Australian history of this generation.
Now, the evidence of Professor Hartwell cannot be ignored.
– It is unreliable.
– Everything with which the honorable member does not agree is unreliable, apparently. The answer to the question raised by the Prime Minister in an interjection a moment ago is that the evidence is that this was Commonwealth security. But does it matter whether it was Commonwealth or State?
– I should like to know what the evidence is.
– It is the evidence of the man who wrote this letter. On the particular issue of discrimination he says that there was a systematic policy in the University of New South Wales to use security reports. One of the things which I think needs emphasis in respect of this matter is that the public should know that from 50 per cent, to 80 per cent, of the cost of university education - and more, if capital expenditure is taken into account - is paid for by the public, and not by the students or their families. The students, the university staffs and every body associated with universities, particularly graduates who come out with degrees, should know that from 50 per cent, to 80 per cent, of the cost of that education is provided by the public and not by themeslves.
The next point that is brought out by this report is that the Government and the committees that have investigated those matters have dealt with them in piecemeal fashion. The problem has been treated conservatively and with no sense of emergency. The commission itself deals first of all with the period from 1939 to 1946. and says on page 7 of the report dealing with that period -
Between 1939 and 1946, university enrolments doubled, but in this period of national crisis nothing could be done towards a corresponding improvement in university facilities. With the cessation of hostilities, the universities were faced with the added problems posed by the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. It might be true, as was mentioned in the Report of the Committee on Australian Universities, that there was some lack of forward-planning by universities but, because of the “ hand to mouth “ basis on which Government grants were provided, they received little encouragement to think beyond their immediate needs. In some States, moreover, building restrictions made it impossible to achieve the most effective use of Commonwealth grants available under the C.R.T.S.
So much for the first period, according to the Universities Commission. Then we had a great deal of ground to make up. Similarly, from 1946 to 1949, the report says there was no sense of urgency about the continuance of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. Too many said that this was just an emergency which would soon be over, and that in the universities we would be able to return to the good old days of calm and quiet - the days of privilege. There was no widespread sense that what was being done under the C.R.T.S. would have to be continued afterwards. There was a hope and a belief that this was an emergency which would soon pass. And so the committees that were examining this position found that in 1949, as the report tells us here, the number of C.R.T.S. students would soon begin to diminish, and the Commonwealth subsidies to universities would show a corresponding decrease.
So, in 1950, when the Mills committee was appointed, it made what looked like a new departure. First of all there were to be grants on two levels. The grant which was offered at the first level was to cover - so the Mills committee decided - the provision of existing commitments. The second-level grant was to be for the purpose of developing the services and research in universities, and to raise the academic standards of universities. In other words, the first-level grants were for existing commitments, and progress and development were to come from the second-level grants.
The first point I make in relation to this new system introduced by the Mills committee is that the first-level grants were never big enough to enable any university to meet its commitments, and that the second-level grants, even if they had been obtained, were not big enough either. But the evidence is that in a number of signifi cant cases the second-level grants were never achieved. Table 4 in the report of the commission shows how seriously deficient the universities were, in a number of significant cases, in obtaining the secondlevel grants. In the year 1951, the University of Sydney failed by £86,792 to reach the second-level grants, in 1952 by £59,431, in 1953 by £125,800, in 1954 by £80,580, in 1955 by £26,341, in 1956 by £73,731 and in 1957 by £28,732- a total of £481,407. The University of Melbourne failed to reach the second-level grants by £45,246 in 1951, £7,913 in 1952, £71,991 in 1953 and £25,360 m 1954 - a total of £150,510.
It is worth emphasizing that these secondlevel grants were supposed to provide the money with which the universities would raise their standards. The University of Sydney, in particular, failed over those years by £481,000 to reach what was to be allowed under those second-level grants. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Murray committee, which began its investigations in 1957, very quickly reached certain conclusions. In its report, it said - in general, the Australian universities are sadly lacking in adequate accommodation for practically all their important activities - classrooms and laboratories, libraries, individual staff teaching and research rooms . . .
The appointment of this committee or of a similar committee had been advocated throughout universities and elsewhere for five long years, but the committee was not appointed until 19th December, 1956. The Murray committee’s report was made on 19th September, 1957, about nine months after it had been established. I am not suggesting that the committee could have made its investigations and furnished its report in a much quicker time than it did. However, having received the report on 19th September, 1957, the Government did not give effect to the recommendations of the committee until 7th May, 1959 - nineteen months later. What is the explanation for the Government’s allowing nineteen months to elapse before implementing the recommendations of the committee, which itself had taken nine months to complete its investigations?
The committee found in the course of its inquiries that the piecemeal provision of funds had prevented universities from planning ahead and had created a situation in which the services that universities must provide could not be well provided because of the uncertainty of finance. The committee, acting on the information that it could obtain, considerably under-estimated the number of students who would attend universities in the three years that followed, it accepted a situation which substantially made no improvement in the ratio of staff to students. So, the Universities Commission, when eventually it was appointed, faced the problem as it found it in 1959-60.
I want to look for a moment at the appointment of this permanent commission. The Murray committee had reported on 19th September, 1957, that a permanent committee similar to that in Great Britain should be appointed, but the commission was not appointed until 6th August, 1959 - 22 months later. This is the second significant delay. After the Murray committee had reported, it took this Government nineteen months to introduce legislation which would provide finance to cover some of the ground that the committee had recommended should be covered. Then, the Murray committee recommended that a permanent commission should be appointed, but it took the Government 22 months to appoint the permanent commission. How long did it take the commission to produce the report that we have before us now? It took fourteen months.
The report of the Universities Commission contains nothing new. As I said a few minutes ago, it has been described as a scissors and paste job. It is a collection of material from other sources - a collection of material that already existed and could have been obtained quite quickly. The suggestion may be made that in addition to obtaining this material, the commission had to make its estimates. It appears that all that has happened with these estimates is this: University departments have made estimates of what they need for their operations. These have gone to university councils and senates, which have invariably cut them back. Then in turn they have been passed by the Universities Commission, before submitting the report, to the Treasury and invariably the Treasury has cut them back. It is pretty clear that in taking fourteen months, the commission has taken far too long to complete its report. It is also clear that there has been very little initiative from the commission. I do not think that what I have said of the commission and its report is unfair criticism.
After all this has happened, we suddenly find that there is a great rush. The report is tabled in this House on 10th November, and legislation must be passed through this Parliament within three to four weeks. That is a most disproportionate situation. The commission has taken fourteen months on its inquiry, and then three to four weeks after the report has been tabled, the whole matter must be completed. Only three to four weeks have been allowed for those concerned in the universities, in State governments and elsewhere to consider what will be done before the bill is passed and becomes unalterable. Those concerned have had hardly any opportunity whatever to study the report and what is proposed in the legislation. I understand that the University of Sydney, for example, did not receive a copy of the report until some ten days ago and did not receive a copy of the bill until last week.
Now that we have legislation before the Parliament based upon the report, what can we say about the report and about the legislation? The first thing to be said is this: Although the total has increased from £55,000,000 to £103,000,000 for the two three-year periods concerned, the provision will not meet the needs of universities any more than did the provision in legislation based upon the Mills committee and the Murray committee. The provision is deficient in two important ways. There is a deficiency with regard to students. Here I want to use as the main basis of my argument what has ben said in an article in “Vestes” the Australian universities staff association journal, by Professor S. J. Butlin of Sydney. The general tenor of Professor Butlin’s comments can be gathered from what I intend to put before the House. He said -
Looking back over the results of its labours the Commission writes on p. 71: “The Commission is inclined to accept the view that any attempt at present to improve the preliminary selection of university students by raising the levels of entrance examinations is undesirable. Nor is the application of a quota system - which has been aptly described as ‘ a very blunt instrument ‘ - an acceptable principle. lt appears inescapable that universities should accept those young people who succeed in the prescribed entrance examination. There is evidence that performance in the first year examinations provides a good forecast of ultimate academic success and that this could be used for the purposes of selection.”
The position taken by the Universities Commission seems to be unambiguous. The universities are to take all those who have matriculated at present standards. That is what the report assumes and that is what the legislation purports to provide for. Entry should not be restricted and any weeding out should be done after the first year examinations. It follows that the financial provisions in this bill should be such as would permit this purpose being attained. The commission, in its report, said -
In framing its recommendations for the 1961-63 triennium the Commission has . . . taken no account of such things’ as the likelihood of a significant change in failure rales, the possibility or desirability of universities raising markedly the standards of their entrance examinations or of imposing arbitrary quotas. A space of three years is too short a time for major educational changes to take effect. Nor is it possible at this stage to assess the likelihood of the emergence of competitive institutions providing higher learning in the technological areas.
That is a statement which is plain enough. But, looking at this situation, Professor Butlin expresses this opinion -
It is plain enough too that the statement ls completely at variance with the way the Commission has allocated funds.
So the assumption underlying the Universities Commission’s report - the assumption that there shall be no restriction of entry by quotas and no raising of standards in order to keep students out of universities, and that sufficient money is to be provided under the terms of this bill for that purpose - is, according to Professor Butlin, completely at variance with the way in which the commission has allocated funds. In order to demonstrate this point, Professor Butlin states -
On page 22 the Commission writes: “The Commission would be glad to see a marked fall in the total number of students at the University of Melbourne, and as with the University of Sydney, the financial proposals of the Commission are framed in anticipation of both universities stabilizing in the near future preferably at figures not exceeding 12,000.”
With respect to Melbourne, the Universities Commission has perhaps the justification - it is a very unsatisfactory one and is inconsistent with its basic assumption: - that quotas already exist in the University of Melbourne and that the Monash University - the second Victorian university - will open in 1961. But in respect of Sydney, all that the commission can know is that there is a decision in principle to restrict entry by quotas from 1964, and that there is no possibility in this triennium of establishing a second university in Sydney. So it is quite clear that, there is no possibility of restricting to 12,000, unless by exclusion and by raising standards, the number of students in the University of Sydney in the 1961-63 triennium. Of course, the commission, it is necessary to point out, assumes, as is indicated at page 74 of the report, that the number of students at the University of Sydney in 1964 will be 15,000. Yet the estimate of expenditure provided for in this bill assumes a total of 12,000. So Professor Butlin goes on to say -
So that there should be no doubt of the Commission’s real meaning, it writes at p. 44: “The Commission is anxious to stabilize the development of all Australian universities so that they do not become too large . . . This policy of the Commission is reflected in the level of assistance proposed for the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney. The University of Melbourne has taken steps to limit total enrolments, and the rate of increase in the recurrent grant proposed for this university is at the level of 5 per cent in 1962 and 1963. Similarly the Commission wishes to encourage the University of Sydney to stabilize its total student body and recommends for 1962 a 10 per cent increase over the 1961 grant, and for 1963 a 5 per cent increase over the grant for 1962.”
For purposes of comparison, I point out that the University of Queensland,, the University of Western Australia and the University of New South Wales are to be given increases of 12 per cent, in both years.
Professor Butlin points out what is demonstrated by these facts. He states -
Could there be cruder waving of the blunt instrument of finance to enforce a wish to “ encourage “ restriction of entry, which the Commission elsewhere declares is “ unacceptable “, and which, by its own estimate of 15,000 students for Sydney in 1964, it acknowledges will not in any case have any affect on numbers for years to come?
The first point made in criticism by the universities which has emerged in this very short time that we have had to consider the report since this bill was introduced is that the argument by the Australian Universities Commission that there will be no restriction of entry of students into universities by the introduction of quotas or the raising of standards is inconsistent with the allocation of funds as between the universities which this bill itself will make. We are entitled to hear from the Government some answer to this criticism that I have made, based on Professor Butlin’s submissions. It is just not true that all the universities have gladly accepted the commission’s report or the allocation of funds that this bill will make.
The second main criticism by the universities that has already emerged concerns the staffing position. Having put as briefly and as concisely as I can the submission by the universities that in the next triennium the University of Melbourne and particularly the University of Sydney will not be able to accept all the students who want to enter those universities, and that they are not being provided with sufficient funds to enable them to accept those students, I now want to pass on to the staff situation. Again, I base my submissions on criticisms that have emerged from the universities, notwithstanding that the Prime Minister said that there were none. I want to use as the basis of this criticism the editorial in “ Vestes “, the publication of the Australian Association of University Staff Associations.
– That is the only source from which the honorable member has quoted throughout his speech.
– That is right.
– Has not the honorable member any other source of university opinion?
– The other sources will no doubt be forthcoming in the very near future. I have been trying to point out to the Minister, as he would be aware if he had been listening, that university people have had very little time so far in which to examine this matter. I believe that some of the universities have not even yet received a copy of the report of the Australian Universities Commission.
– But the honorable member bases his case that there is widespread dissatisfaction on quotations from one source of opinion.
– I base my case on the fact that what the Prime Minister said is not true. He said that the universities all are in agreement with this bill. I am not talking about widespread dissatisfaction. I am submitting for examination by the Government, and for an answer if the Government can provide it, a reasoned criticism that has been put forward by one person.
Regarding the staff position, the assumption underlying the allocation of funds provided for in this bill, according to this examination of the matter and the editorial in “ Vestes “ - most of this can be verified by reference to the Universities Commission’s report and the bill itself - is that, taking the most conservative estimate, staff requirements for the coming three-year period will be 7,005, or an additional 3,613. The staff has to be provided essentially by the universities themselves, and an examination of the situation allows us to come to the conclusion made in this editorial - that the objective of 3,613 additional members of university staffs will not nearly be reached in the period mentioned. The editorial in “ Vestes “ refers to the report of the Universities Commission in these terms -
Its performance here is simply appalling. Characteristically it puts its answer in the reverse of logical form. Last instead of first, it puts its essential view: It is difficult to see the solution to this staffing problem if the present pattern of tertiary education persists.
But the present pattern of tertiary education will not, under any circumstances, be able to give us the increased staff which will be required in the coming triennium. These extra teachers required must be available from this year on. The report makes no mention of the measures which might be taken to improve recruitment, including recruitment from overseas. It would seem that if the universities are not able to obtain al! the staff they require they will have to do without it.
What can be done to overcome this staffing problem? I do not think there is any disagreement in any university about the fact that the additional staff required in the coming triennium will not be obtained unless special measures are taken. We can seek to attract as many as possible by offering ordinary salaries. Another method would be special selection of personnel from other occupations. We are now faced with a crisis, just as we were immediately after World War II. and, just as we had to do then, we shall have to take special measures to obtain staff on this occasion. We shall have to obtain staff from industry, the Public Service, commerce and scientific organizations on a basis of either exchange or permanency. It is vital that we have more teachers. Other occupations can be carried on to some extent just as they were immediately after World War II., if the problem is to be solved at ali. But neither in the commission’s report nor in the Government’s proposals do we find any recognition of the emergency that confronts us in connexion with staff during the next three years.
Let me summarize my points by saying that the increase to university income is gratifying. The Opposition supports it, but we say that the dismal, unattractive situation that has confronted us for the last ten or twelve years will be continued during the next triennium.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has spoken for 45 minutes, and it was a pity that, when speaking to a bill of the importance of the one before us, he devoted so much time to a discussion of what are really irrelevant matters such as the security problem confronting one university in New South Wales. It is a pity also that he should have spoken for so long about how one university was unable to obtain a copy of either the bill or the report to which reference has been made. I can only say that if that university had a capable member of Parliament looking after its interests it would have had a copy of the report as soon as it was tabled in this House. After speaking for 45 minutes, the honorable member did not even have time to summarize his points. As I understood it, the main point of his criticism was that not enough is being done. My feeling is that we should first congratulate the Government for what has been done over the last three years. Tt is certainly very much more than was done during the critical period between 1945 and 1949 when the matter was not treated as urgent by any means. A great deal has been done in the last three years and a great deal more is proposed for the next triennium. I feel that, if anything, we are proceeding too rapidly rather than too slowly, and that is a good fault.
Let us first examine the Government’s proposals in relation to university activities overseas. The “ Economist “ of 26th November states that by 1970 it is hoped there will be a student population of 170,000 in the whole of the United Kingdom. I remind honorable members that the population of the United Kingdom is five times greater than that of Australia. It would seem that in order to have in Australia a ratio of student population equal to that proposed for the United Kingdom, the student population of Australia should be about 34,000. Of course, in the United Kingdom the normal course is three years whereas in Australia it is four years, and this could alter the proportion slightly; but the important point is that in Australia we are aiming at a student population of 95,000 by 1966. If the increase continues at the same rate as that which obtained over the last few years, our student population will be of the order of 120,000 by 1 970. Proportionately, this will be approximately three times as many students as is proposed in the United Kingdom.
What I want to be certain about is the justification for the great difference between the Australian target and that which an independent committee considered reasonable for the United Kingdom. T support the commission’s report in connexion with the next triennium covering the period from 1961 to 1963, just as I support the bill under discussion; but I take issue with the commission in connexion with a number of points mentioned in the report about the period from 1964 to 1966. Many of the problems mentioned in the report indicate the great need for serious thought by all honorable members, but I think the main criticism must revolve round the actual numbers that will have to be accommodated bv the universities. Again, there is the problem of a true definition of a university. In Australia, we classify all people taking tertiary education as being our student population whereas in the United Kingdom the student population is divided into those attending universities and those attending technical colleges. If there were not that variation of definition, our proportion of student population would be so out of line with that of other countries that there would be great need to revise our thinking. 1 should like to ascertain the main basis of the assumption by the commission that there should be a student population of 95,000 in 1966. Is it based on demand, or is it based on supply? I do not think the commission has thought over that question. Why do we need to have 95,000 university students in training by 1966? Do we want them all in training in the universities, or could we manage if some were in training in universities and others were in training in technical colleges? I am not convinced that there is need in Australia for 95,000 university students, all of them taking full university graduate courses. I do not think there will be a demand for that number of university graduates by 1966.
Therefore, the next question is, “ Why has the demand increased so rapidly over the last few years? “ This is chiefly due to the greatly improved1 standard of living which has enabled parents to have their children educated for a longer period. Here, I think, a tribute is justly due to this Government. In its eleven years of office, not only have the salaries offered to university graduates become more attractive, but also the general standard of living has been raised to such a degree that many more parents are able to send their children to university. But even allowing for this, I feel that this estimate of 95,000 is excessive.
I am informed that the number of seventeen-year-olds in Australia in 1966 will be about 180,000. Assuming a wastage of 25 per cent, in universities after the first year, and assuming, generally, a fouryear course, it would appear that the intake of universities in 1966 will be about 30.000. This will mean that one in six of the population will go to universities in 1966. Will jobs be available for those people at the end of their course? It is significant, also, that there is a marked discrepancy between the estimates of the universtiies themselves as to how many students they will have enrolled and those of Mr. Davis, the expert who was called in to make an estimate. The predictions of Mr. Davis are much lower, in general, than those of the universities but the commission has accepted, in general, the estimates of the universities.
Having shown what a large proportion of the student population is estimated to go to universities, 1 feel that the figures given by Mr. Davis are probably more realistic than those of the universities. If this top figure for student numbers can be achieved easily, well and good. But we have to look at the price that we would have to pay to achieve this. The price in buildings alone would be considerable. The cost of university buildings and maintenance for the next three years, in order to raise the enrolment of 66,000 to 95,000, will be £103,000,000. In the following triennium the cost will be even larger. It means the cost of an extra university the size of Monash every two years.
A greater price will have to be paid in order to overcome the shortage of staff. To my mind, there is a great danger that if we try to accommodate this large number of students there will be a reduction in teaching standards. It is vital that the standards of our universities be maintained and teachers must be allowed plenty of time for research and for developing their own standards of training. If we are to adopt some of the recommendations of this commission I fear greatly that there will be a reduction in the standard of teaching. I think that we should aim to maintain the quality of university students rather than aim at quantity production - pushing them through, almost as sausages through a machine.
To this end, therefore, are the proposals of the commission really effective? The first thing to which the commission refers is the high failure rate which has already been mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). As he said, this is one of the most disturbing aspects of university education in Australia. The “ Report of the Universities Commission on Australian Universities 1958-1963 “ states-
It is difficult to exaggerate the cost in time, effort and money to students, universities and the nation of this low rate of graduation.
Again, at page 30 of the report, it is stated -
There appears to be general agreement among educationalists that students come to the university in Australia for the most part at the age of seventeen years, which is twelve or eighteen months younger than entrants in the United Kingdom and many European countries. The Murray Committee pointed out (paragraph 116) that Australian students “lack the experience given for instance in the Sixth Form of English schools . . .”
The report also states -
A most unsatisfactory feature of student performance in Australia at present is the relatively low percentage of students who graduate in the minimum time.
At page 70 the following comment appears: -
The poor academic performance of a large proportion of students is a challenge to teachers in Australian universities. Although there are signs of improvements recently the average performance still falls far below what seems possible in Great Britain. The consequent waste in funds provided for recurrent purposes is too great to be ignored.
All this information shows that we are incurring a tremendous wastage of funds by allowing the high failure rate to continue. It is on this point that I want to spend some time. The commission, in effect, had two bob each way. First, the commission objected to any form of selection but to my mind the cost of this tremendous wastage in the first year of university education cannot be afforded by the nation. I believe that we shall have to adopt some process of selection for entrance to universities.
Secondly, although the commission disagrees with the need for improving at the present time the standard of education in the sixth form in schools, I am certain that it would be a great advantage eventually for the age at which children go to university to be raised from 17 years to 18 years, and a greater amount of education being carried out in the sixth form in schools. At present, it is obvious that that cannot be done because the schools have not sufficient teachers to make it possible. I am assured that at present it is probably cheaper to teach a student in his first year at a university than to keep him at school and teach him there for an extra year at the same age.
Thirdly, there are problems, generally, of the first year student, which are only made more difficult by the shortage of staff.
The commission has one or two proposals to improve this situation. I entirely agree with the commission’s proposal which appears on page 29 of its report that there should be a move, as soon as possible, to get all non-graduate courses off the campus of a university. The commission has quoted the Murray committee as stating that -
Universities should certainly seek to avoid responsibility for groups of students who have not reached matriculation level.
Too often, at the moment, the universities are being asked to do things which are not really their responsibility.
– Such as?
– As you will see on page 29 of the commission’s report, the universities are carrying 2,700 students who are classified in the miscellaneous group. I do not think that, at this late hour, members of the Opposition would want me to quote any further in this respect.
I believe that the main line on which this problem can generally be tackled should be the creation of more institutes of technology and the separation, as has been recommended, of pass and honour graduates. I wonder whether the committee has really thought out its proposals and the recommendations that will be necessary to bring these proposals into effect. f would sum up by saying that the universities must maintain their historical role of training the best brains of the country to the highest possible level. They must ensure that the teachers are given time for thought and research, because research and teaching should be inseparable. A teacher cannot be really effective unless he is himself always experimenting and discovering new knowledge and imparting that experimentation and sense of discovery to his students.
If the recommendations of this commission to try to push through 95,000 students by 1966 are to be achieved, I believe there is a great danger of the standards being reduced, chiefly for the reason that there will not be enough teachers available to carry out the job. Of all the things that are referred to in this report the shortage of teachers is, to my mind, the most important.
Until the number of teachers can be increased, we should not attempt to increase the number of students; but there should be a setting up of technical colleges to deal with the vast requirements of that type of graduate for which there will be so many jobs in the next decade. If, therefore, we can see technical colleges set up at an earlier date than is advocated at present, we shall see a very much better answer to the situation than is indicated at the commission’s level at present. Unless that is done, there will be a great danger of the university standard being reduced and that, to me, would be completely unacceptable. With these remarks, I commend the bill because it will take the scheme that was started years ago another historical step forward and its impact will be felt by the community as a whole.
.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) has confirmed the viewpoint expressed on this side of the House by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) that the report of the Australian Universities Commission is, in many respects, superficial. The honorable member approached the whole question of university and tertiary education from the point of view of what the Commonwealth can do with the best possible grace at the lowest possible expenditure. I take issue with the honorable member for Fawkner on some of the principles he has espoused, in case people might get the mistaken idea that he speaks for the majority of the Australian community. First, I direct attention to the suggestion that the Universities Commission proposed to push people through to the predicted number of 95,000 students by 1966. The honorable member suggested that there should be some slowing down process and that there should be some stringent selection. What is involved in this? You will pass this way but once, and if you miss out on opportunities for a university education, you are not likely to get them again on a second time round. We on the Opposition side reject emphatically any suggestion that anybody who has not qualified has not the capacity to attend a university and might not be able to do so.
What are the simple statistics? The birthrate in Australia is about 200,000 a year. The psychologists tell us that between 16 and 20 per cent, of the young people can satisfactorily do a university course. That means about one-sixth of 200,000 born every year - some 30,000 to 40,000 persons - have the capacity to do a university course and obtain whatever comes from it such as the development of personal resources, and return to the community all that flows from it apart from their own personal advantage. At present, and even at the projected 95,000 enrolments, there will still be in the the higher educational bracket only 50 per cent, of the human potential this country has to offer. We cannot afford to lose 50 per cent, of our best possible investment - the brains and the wealth in intellectual capacity of the community. The honorable member for Fawkner was speaking against the general pattern of Australian opinion. Of course, we realize that the projected enrolment as stated at page 18 of the report is likely to be inaccurate. We have already found that the Murray report, which is not so many years old, was inaccurate. There is a rising demand for education in the community. Some of it stems from the rising standard of living and some from the changing attitudes in the community.
I started at high school at Frankston in Victoria in 1927. Some 88 students embarked on the course and only one of them went directly to university. A lot of us were able to benefit from the opportunities offered by the Labour Government after the Second World War; but only one out of 88 was able to go directly to university. Thus we find throughout the community that perhaps fifteen or sixteen of those in the lower forms at high schools, and a higher proportion in the public schools, now eventually reach the university. Now there is a social change and a realization among parents that a university education is something for their children as much as it is for those of the social class from which the honorable member for Fawkner has sprung. That is, of course, implicit in this States Grants (Universities) Bill. The stimulus that flows from it is a first and important contribution. It is inadequate because it starts at the top. It still will be assisting that section of the community which can best afford it. We must find ways to take this principle into the lower echelons of the education system.
What it does do is to bring the idea of a university as part of the Australian community before every person in the community; and that is something we must foster.
I was a teacher in the Victorian Public Service for many years. Not so long before I came to the Parliament, parents came to me on parents’ day. You could take the school records and say that Mary or Bill should undertake a university course. They had not thought of it for their children. They were from the artisan class. They had not given much thought to that possibility; but the foundations that were laid between 1946 and 1949 have stimulated enthusiasm for higher education in the community. I believe the universities system has given further stimulus to it, but the system will finally break down unless we are able to take this enthusiasm into the top brackets, particularly of the secondary schools.
There are many questions which remain unanswered throughout this report in relation to its implementation. The honorable member for Fawkner seemed to be staggered by the cost. I thought he came from a group in the community and a family which thought in millions. The report at page 54 shows us that actual expenditure by the Commonwealth over the next few years will be £40,809,000 and by the States £6,425,000. An amount of £40,000,000 is a lot of money, but I remind the House that it is only the cost of fifteen Boeing aircraft. I remind honorable members that there is no difficulty in finding money for at least one other branch of tertiary education. The Royal Military College at Duntroon, not so very far from this building, has some 230 students, and it costs about £750,000 a year to run. Every military cadet, therefore, is costing about £3,000 per annum to train. We cannot complain, therefore, when we are asked to find £500 a year to train students in other professions. It is a simple matter of community priorities.
The commission, of course, has not as yet really grappled with the problems, first, of the economic difficulties in which average Australian parents find themselves, and secondly, of raising the quality of the students coming from the schools. Perhaps “ quality “ is not the correct word; per haps I should say the capacity of students to cope with their university careers, because in most respects the quality is undenied. The students must have a fair amount of native intelligence if they are to pass the matriculation exam. The honorable member for Fawkner said that there must be some form of selection. The matriculation examination is, of course, very selective. It is a very high hurdle for most students to jump over. There are, in fact, two hurdles; the first is represented by the intellectual capacity to pass the examination, and the second by the economic difficulties of the parents in getting their children through. I am looking for answers, first to the economic question, and, secondly, to the question of surmounting the intellectual hurdle by providing better secondary education facilities. This will mean the provision of more teachers and more schools, and I believe it will require Commonwealth activity at the secondary education level. This will be necessary before we can make satisfactory progress in the field of tertiary education.
These are matters that are apparent to every person in the community who is interested in the subject of education, and I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in the short period of Prime Ministership that is possibly left to him, will turn his attention to these important and pressing national problems. The Commonwealth has become the principal buttress of university education, and this development has interesting ramifications. One of the most significant developments in Australian higher secondary and tertiary education has been the increased activity of Labour governments. When the Commonwealth adopts the practice of subsidizing tertiary education on more or less a £1- for-£l basis, the States that have done the most to develop their higher education facilities now find, although they receive a higher proportion of the Commonwealth grant, that they have to find greater amounts to meet that grant, on the basis of £1.8 of their own money for every £1 of Commonwealth money. This must represent a substantial drain on the financial resources of, for example, the New South Wales Government.
In this respect I would point out to the Prime Minister that the report that we are discussing is not really a national Australian report. The approach adopted by the commission to the universities questions is based on considerations of an aggregation of State universities. The basic concept is of necessary finance being found by the State governments. This may well be a sound idea from the point of view of ensuring regional autonomy for the universities, but the whole concept of depending upon State financial activities is wrongly based. This, of course, was the idea implicit in the Prime Minister’s own speech, when he suggested that the prime financial responsibility rests with the State governments and that therefore we should leave i he matter to their initiative.
Another anomaly arises from the fact that in New South Wales a higher proportion of students manage to reach matriculation standard, and therefore there is keener competition for Commonwealth scholarships. I believe this to be unfair to students in New South Wales, and that a truly national approach should be made to the question. It is important for all honorable members to realize that New South Wales has made a substantial contribution to university education. Figures given by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics show that in 1959 the New South Wales Government spent £3,036,734 on university education, while Victoria spent £1,044,604. Three times as much money was spent by the New South Wales Government as by the Victorian Government, while relative population figures show that New South Wales has 37.5 per cent, of the Australian population, and Victoria 28.33 per cent. With the addition of grants, money from fees, and so on. expenditure on universities in New South Wales totalled £5.611,886 in 1959, as compared with Victoria’s expenditure of £2.565,286. Expenditure in New South Wales was a good deal more than twice as much as the expenditure in Victoria. This means, of course, that there is not equality of opportunity for university education for Victorian and New South Wales scholars. This is another sound reason why a national Australian overall approach should be made to the question of university education. Similar proportions, of course, are reflected throughout the whole structure of higher education as between the two States. The total number of staff in New South Wales in 1959 was 4,205, while in Victoria it was 1,739
I put these facts to the House, because I believe we will have to adopt a national approach in this field of Commonwealth activity, as we have done in other fields, and there is no indication of a national approach in the report, nor, indeed, was there one in the Prime Minister’s speech. I hope that the conservative tendency, which was obvious from the right honorable gentlemen’s speech and is apparent throughout the report, to preserve the precious, sacred constitutional position, will be overcome, and that the Government will realize the necessity to provide equality of opportunity for all Australians, no matter what their economic background, or under what State Government they are fortunate or unfortunate enough to live.
Another interesting feature of the question is that the emergencies of two, three or even five years ago, which resulted in the appointment of the Murray committee, have become the plans of to-day. It is obvious from the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner and honorable members on this side of the House that a state of emergency exists in university education, as in every other form of education, but one fails to discern any sense of urgency in this report. We must appreciate, first, the economic difficulties which restrict the opportunities of most children in the community to enter the universities. Only in the last few days I have discovered that in Victoria the books necessary to study for the matriculation examination alone cost £40 a year, or almost £1 a week. This is a substantial financial burden, and we should consider making grants to students to help them meet this commitment. I also remind honorable members that the Commonwealth scholarship scheme has become completely out of touch with increasing demands for scholarships. In the last few years university enrolments have ben continually increasing. Figures published by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics show that in 1955 there were 8,525 new enrolments in universities. This number of course, includes a few people studying for higher degrees and so on, who would not ordinarily be counted as applicants for Commonwealth scholarships. In that year. of course, there were 3,000 Commonwealth scholarships available. The number of new enrolments in the following years was as follows: -
– How many scholarships were available in those years?
– In every year the number of Commonwealth scholarships has remained at 3,000.
– You must have made a mistake.
– No, there has been no mistake. In addition, the report that has been tabled in the Parliament shows the number of scholarships that has been recommended for 1961, quite apart from other announcements that have been made. If there is one part of the report that stings me, showing, as it does, a miserable approach and one indicative of a social attitude that receives no support on this side of the House, it is this sentence -
After careful examination, the Commonwealth Scholarships Board has recommended that the number of scholarships should be increased to 4,000 in 1961.
Is that not remarkable? The Victorian report directs attention to the urgent need to increase the number of Commonwealth scholarships; the Murray report states that the number of Commonwealth scholarships should be increased, and now the Commonwealth Scholarships Board after careful examination has recommended an increase to 4,000 in 1961. This is not a matter which has to receive the approval of Parliament. I understand that the Commonwealth scholarship scheme is administered by regulation. What kind of careful consideration was given to this scheme which in this year will give perhaps only 25 per cent, of new students at universities the opportunity to obtain a Commonwealth scholarship? Reference to the annual report of the Commonwealth Scholarships Board indicates that in 1959 in New South Wales there were 5,975 applications for scholarships but only 1,794 were granted. So, there were over 4,000 disappointed applicants in that State alone. In Victoria there were 3,728 appli cations and only 1,230 scholarships were granted; in Queensland there were 1,481 applications and only 698 were granted; in South Australia, there were 1,277 applications and only 367 were granted; in Western Australia there were 523 applications and only 271 were granted, and in Tasmania there were 256 applications and only 162 were granted. There was a total of 13,240 applications in Australia but a number of applicants dropped out because they obtained bursaries from other bodies such as the State teaching services. The number selected for scholarships was 4,522, but this number was reduced to 3,000, so there were more than 10,000 unsuccessful applicants. Depending on the university and the State, at present about 70 per cent, or 80 per cent, of the candidates who sit for the matriculation examination pass it. This means that between 7,000 and 8,000 people who pass the matriculation examination and qualify for university courses are not able to undertake them without the support of the Commonwealth.
It is no small thing to undertake a university course, particularly if you intend to pay for it yourself. Because of the increasing dependence of State governments on the Commonwealth scholarship scheme and other bursaries, the tendency is for universities to increase their fees. In Melbourne arts subjects and most law subjects cost £27 a year each; science and firstyear chemistry cost £37 10s. a year each, and physics III. costs £114 a year. The average cost per subject ranges from £27 to £40 a year so that in Melbourne the actual cost of fees alone in any one year, not allowing for maintenance - all honorable members know what that would be for a student between seventeen and twenty years of age - is £114 for most courses and £108 for first-year law, commerce and arts. I cite these figures to make clear to honorable members, and to the community generally, that university education in Australia is very expensive and that only a small proportion of the students who undertake it receive Commonwealth or any other kind of assistance. This year 52 per cent, of students at the University of Melbourne pay their own fees. That is a serious matter. The economics of the situation must be preventing large numbers of students from attending the university.
One of the figures, that interests me from the social aspect is that in Melbourne although only 8 per cent, of students are in the major public schools, 22 per cent, of students at the university come from those schools. This is another social attitude which stems principally from a decision of the parents based on the economic aspect. Therefore, we must do something towards maintaining students, in Victoria at least, in the fifth and sixth years and in other States in the fifth year of high school. Something must be done if we are to overcome this obstruction, this stoppage, this blind spot in our education system.
Other things flow from the comments in the report and from other statements. Dr. Wyndham, Director of Education in New South Wales, has pointed out that the age of students entering university is becoming lower. This is what he said -
The leaving certificate examination was an examination originally designed for a group of candidates more than half of whom would be 18 years of age by the end of their last secondary school year. This was the case in 1920. By 193S, the proportion of these older pupils had fallen to 35 per cent.: by 1955 the proportion had fallen to 15 per cent. In the latter year, nearly 60 per cent, of candidates from public secondary schools were under the age of 17.
There is an economic pressure on parents which forces them to press their children on to higher education at the earliest possible age. We could overcome satisfactorily the difficulties of most students in the first year at university by giving them an additional year at high school so that when they went to the university they would be better prepared for the task ahead of them.
One of the problems of Australian education to which I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister - this matter has been raised on previous occasions and he has responded to it - relates to tertiary education and in particular the training of teachers. The Commonwealth is now assisting in the training of other professions - doctors, architects, lawyers, engineers, dentists and scientists of all kinds - but the teaching profession is to a great extent left out in the cold, except in relation to graduates of universities who ere doing post-graduate courses in diploma education at the University of Melbourne and similar courses at other universities. This is a field in which the State governments operate alone, but it is a field in which the Commonwealth logically could extend its assistance. It is the very key to the education system. The Crowther report in England stated the position in this way -
Everything in education depends ultimately on the teacher, and everything in educational progress depends upon there being teachers with the right qualities, and in the right numbers, to carry it out.
That deficiency will be overcome only by a dramatic and dynamic programme implemented by the Commonwealth and State governments in co-operation. This is probably the most pressing problem facing the Australian education system at present. It is generally accepted by educationalists that our teachers could receive more training. England with its difficulties, pressures, great population and background of conservatism is advancing. It has raised the school leaving age, and in two or three years’ time will introduce three-year training for afl teachers. Some of our States are still backward. In Victoria and South Australia and, I think, in Western Australia and Queensland the school leaving age is fourteen years. In New South Wales it is fifteen and in Tasmania it is sixteen years, but in other part of the world sixteen is accepted as the logical school leaving age.
Those are the problems that must he solved in relation to education, but the Commonwealth Government is not making any progress in solving them. We on this side of the House support, as a general principle, the recommendations contained in the report and the bill which enacts those recommendations. Until we have some forthright approach to education and give it a top priority, and until we are prepared to put into it the same amount of money and the same degree of administrative care as we put into other fields of government, the country will be deficient m the development of its principal and most valuable resource - the mind and the intellect of its people.
.-! do not propose to attempt to follow the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) through all the difficulties of first-year students at universities, nor do I propose to deal with the cost of individual subjects and courses at those institutions. However, I take issue with him on one or two of his statements. Like the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who led the debate for the Opposition, he trenchantly criticized the report of the Australian Universities Commission and described it as being too superficial. He claimed that the commissioners showed no sense of urgency and that they did not approach the problem on a national basis. All I can say is that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), like the honorable member for Yarra, must have got tired al page 68 when reading the report of Sir Leslie Martin and the four other very distinguished gentlemen who sat with him on this commission, because at page 69, if you will permit me, Sir, to quote them, there are three short paragraphs, which I think will be sufficient to indicate to the House the breadth of the approach of the commissioners to this very big subject.
These quotations will also show that the commission considered this matter from a national point of view; it has drawn a comparison of the problems faced by universities in Australia with those faced by universities in Great Britain, Canada, the United States of America and elsewhere. I feel that members of the Opposition who have already spoken in this debate have been less than fair to the members of this very distinguished commission. I hope the two honorable members to whom I have referred will read page 69 of the commissioner’s report, because they have given no indication so far of having done so.
At page 69 of the Universities Commission’s Report, under the heading “Present and Future. The Changing Scene”, the commissioners say - lt is apparent that the recommendations of the Murray Committee have wrought many changes within Australian universities during the past three years. However, the Commission is obliged to report that in spite of the big advances made by universities during the 1958-1960 triennium, there still remains much to be done in making good the damage caused by years of comparative neglect.
My friend, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson), has pointed out to members opposite that the Labour Government in post-war years did very little indeed to assist tertiary education. Yet members of the Opposition have the hide to stand up in this Parliament and criticize the Prime
Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the present
Government for not having done and for not doing enough, and for not being farseeing enough or active enough in the field of university education.
The second paragraph which I wish to quote from page 69 of the commission’s report reads as follows: -
The new emergency which confronts Australia rises from the conjunction of a large bulge in enrolments and a critical lack of experienced staff of quality. Unfortunately, it is not possible to consider the new educational emergency in terms of a university organization which is wholly restored and running smoothly.
It is clear to the Commission that restoration must proceed simultaneously with expansion.
Does that paragraph suggest any lack of critical analysis or a superficial approach to this problem? The third paragraph to which I desire to refer reads as follows: -
The extent of the present task can be realized by considering the enrolments predicted for the next six years in terms of the optimum size of a single university. Most university authorities in Australia would place this at no more than 8,000 students. If the enrolment demand is to be met in terms of the existing university pattern, the Australian community must create every two years the equivalent of at least one new university of 8.000 students.
And yet we are told already by two members of the Opposition that this commission has been superficial in its approach, that it has no sense of urgency, that it is unimaginative and that it is too conservative to have any notice taken of it. I repeat that although those allegations are shallow in themselves, they are unfair; and they demonstrate the fact that the two honorable members whom I have mentioned, despite the number of words they have spoken, have not given this report the study it deserves. It might be pointed out that the five distinguished gentlemen who have served the nation by preparing this valuable report have done so on a part-time basis. I understand that they are engaged on fulltime duties otherwise and that this job has had to be done when and how they could fit it in. They are clearly men of great mental ability and vision. They are men who see the need for action in relation to university extension and development.
– The chairman is a fulltime chairman.
– I am reminded by the Prime Minister that the chairman is a fulltime member of the commission, but the other members, I understand, are not.
– That is right.
– There was some criticism, particularly by the honorable member for Yarra, about delay. If he has a look at the beginning of this report, particularly the letter to the Prime Minister, signed by Sir Leslie Martin and the four other gentlemen concerned, he will see that it is dated 25th October, 1960; and the Prime Minister had had his bill prepared, based on the recommendations of the commission, and introduced into this House within a remarkably short period of time. Rather than be carping critics, if members of the Opposition are really interested in the development of our universities, I think they might try to be big enough to give credit where credit is due, both to the commission and the Government, and particularly to the Prime Minister for his very special interest in this field.
As members of the commission have pointed out, Australia like other advanced countries in the world to-day faces an unprecedented demand for higher learning. Far from this demand decreasing as it has been suggested it should, there is no doubt in my mind that it will increase on an everlarger scale in the years ahead. Of course this prospect poses very great difficulties and problems. There are staff problems which have already been referred to, and there are also acute problems in relation to accommodation, equipment and other facilities. These problems were referred to by the Chancellor and the Registrar of the University of Queensland, in a report tabled in the Queensland Parliament on 23rd November. These problems are not peculiar to any one university in this country but are common to all universities in Australia.
I believe the financial problem will be largely overcome by this legislation. Far from sitting back and taking things easily, the Australian Universities Commission has done a very good job indeed and should be warmly congratulated by this Parliament, which was responsible for establishing the commission in 1959. The recommendations from the commission have clearly been made only after the closest research into all aspects of tertiary education and after close consultation with all the authorities concerned - the Commonwealth authorities, the State authorities and the university authorities. As the House knows, the commission has recommended a total grant of £103,000,000 to the State universities for the period 1961-63, an increase of £48,000,000 over the grant for the years 1958-60. The initial grant is to provide mainly for the establishment of the Monash University, the extension of the universities in New South Wales and the establishment of university colleges at Townsville and Wollongong, as well as greater facilities at existing universities.
It is also to be used to cope with the tremendous influx of new students which must be provided for during the three years under review. As I hinted by quoting from the report of the commission, other countries are faced with these problems in their universities. These problems must be tackled in a practical way, if they are to be tackled successfully. One cannot emphasize too greatly the increasingly important role that our universities are destined to play in this scientific and technological age. I think it is safe to say that many of our future leaders in various fields will come from our universities. What we do to-day and over the years that lie ahead to help tertiary education will help to strengthen the fabric of this nation in the years that lie still further ahead.
The bill makes provision for £1 for £1 contributions to the States in accordance with the advice of the commission. I am very interested to note that according to pages 48 and 49 of the commission’s report, in the case of the University of Queensland - which is within my electorate - several major projects are envisaged during the 1961 to 1963 triennium. I am very glad also to note that the commission supports the present policy of centralizing the facilities on the St. Lucia site. Plans for the establishment of a university college at Townsville in north Queensland are now, I have been informed, well under way. This will relieve the pressure on the University of Queensland, to some extent at any rate.
I read only a few days ago, with much interest, a report that the Toowoomba City Council is planning to set aside an area of 200 acres for the establishment, at some future time, of a university college on the Darling Downs. lt is evident, from reading this report - as many of us have done carefully - that in planning for the future development of our universities, building programmes and extensions and the provision of greater facilities, very careful supervision indeed will have to be exercised in order that the community generally will be able to derive the maximum advantage to which it is entitled from the very important institutions which we are helping to finance. I believe that we can have every faith in the ability of the Australian Universities Commission to get on with this task which lies ahead of it. I have the greatest pleasure in supporting the bill to give effect to the current recommendations of the commission.
.- The honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) seemed somewhat annoyed that there had been .some criticism - in his opinion, unfair criticism - of the work and the report of the Australian Universities Commission. All I want to say about that is that I think the commission applied itself industriously to its task, and it has brought down its report. In the course of his second-reading speech the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that the bill proposes to give effect, not to all of the recommendations of the commission, but in general to the recommendations of the commission. I was most interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson). He said - correctly, too - that the task of the universities is to train the best brains in the community to the highest possible level. He had some doubts as to whether or not the estimate of the projected increase in the student population of universities from 42,000 to 95,000 was warranted. He went on to say that some attention should be given to earlier training, mentioning the sixth form standard at secondary school level, and that some benefit in respect of university training would be derived as a result of improved earlier training.
I think that the approach - this Government approach anyhow - to education is incorrect. I speak as a person who, due to the poverty of his parents, never had the advantage of any of the higher forms of education. I consider that to make provision for an extension of university training is quite good in all circumstances, but at the same time, I think it does not make sense for the Government to refuse to take some responsiblity for the prerequisite to university training - primary and secondary education.
– They are all complementary.
– Yes, they are all complementary. There would be no university training without primary and secondary school training beforehand. Secondary education at present cannot be improved because the States simply cannot afford to meet what would be required of them financially in improving it. A recent report printed and published by the New South Wales Teachers Federation, a copy of which I think every honorable member received, deals generally with the problems of primary and secondary education and, for that matter, tertiary education. It says -
The classrooms, teachers and teachers’ colleges needed to meet the minimum requirements of the schools will cost millions of pounds. (In Victoria, a committee of inquiry appointed by the Government found that an additional £50 million would be needed over the next five years to meet the minimum needs of the schools. The actual needs of the other States are revealed in a report prepared by the respective Ministers for Education. This was to have been presented to the Prime Minister at the Premiers’ Conference this year. This document should be submitted to the Prime Minister immediately and released to the public because it would show that, like Victoria, all the other States .need additional funds for education, running into millions of pounds.
Sums of this magnitude can only be provided by the Federal Government, the main taxing authority for the nation.
I think we must agree that sums of the magnitude that would be required to bring our primary and secondary education to a better standard, which is so much desired if we are to have a proper basis for university education, can ‘be found only by the
Commonwealth. Yet time after time we have raised this matter only to receive a flat refusal from the Government, only to be told that it is purely a matter for the States. In the words of the Prime Minister, “ That is the position, and one hundred speeches won’t make any difference.” I think that is a wrong attitude to take towards education generally, because if we are to maintain our position as a western civilization in an Asian setting we simply have to realize that our people must be educated to the highest possible standard.
I want to give a quotation from the “ Professional Engineers Journal “. That journal points out that Dr. David Warren of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization stated -
Speaking at the Council of Adult Education summer school at Albury recently, he said that Russia realized 30 years ago that her future place in the world would depend on technological advances and was now getting the benefit.
It has long been clear that the full development of Australia depends increasingly on the support we give to science and scientists. In medicine, engineering, physics and other fields, Australians of talent continue to drift to overseas appointments. Unless we do more to attract and hold gifted students to careers in science, our standards will suffer. The value of extending our university facilities will be largely discounted if professional careers do not offer more encouraging rewards.
He also said -
If the Western democracies do not meet the challenge in the material sphere of production of food and power, they will certainly not win the conflict for the minds of the hungry.
The Soviet bloc has produced scientists and engineers in such numbers that they not only can hurl a planet to the sun, but even more important, they can send hundreds of their graduates to assist the undeveloped countries.
It is clear from Soviet achievements that the Soviet graduate is no less capable than his Western counterpart. Much of the Soviet success has been achieved by making the technological professions attractive in status and reward.
The importance of this measure should be clear to all of us. The most recent figures that I could extract show that in pure and applied science, Russia has 336 graduates for each 1,000,000 of population, the United
States of America 281 and Australia 79. I put it to the honorable member for Fawkner that the proposal to double the number of students at our universities is not too extravagant. Perhaps when the number is doubled we will find that further expansion of our universities is necessary. The Prime Minister said that we must match the world in scholarship, in technology and in trade.
One of the disappointing features of this legislation was mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) who said that no guarantee is given that there will not be restrictive quotas or general restrictions on entry to universities. I think the bill contains a further disappointment. As I said earlier, I speak as one who did not have the advantage and could not possibly have had the advantage of a higher education because of the economic position of my parents. If we intend to approach this problem seriously and to match the iron curtain countries, we must ensure that university training, particularly in the sciences, is available to every child who has the mental equipment and the capacity to qualify for such education. Apart from the question of imposed restrictions, there is no need for economic restrictions and they should not be permitted. Some lads - and lasses, too, for that matter - cannot obtain higher education because of the economic factor, though they are probably better equipped for it than those who are able to receive it. The Universities Commission could well have paid some attention to this matter.
The Murray committee certainly gave some consideration to it, and it also considered secondary and technical education. It reported -
Though we made no close inquiry into the arrangements for secondary education we were sufficiently impressed by the evidence presented of wastage of talent at the secondary school level, due to early leaving, to suggest this problem merits close attention. For example, the 1954 Commonwealth Census revealed that only 45.8 per cent, of the 15 year olds, 20.5 per cent, of the 16 year olds and 9.4 per cent of the 17 year olds are in full-time education of any sort.
When the committee said that the problem merited close attention, it surely meant immediate attention, and I suggest that it meant immediate attention by this Government. This Government has been asked to give the problem immediate attention. Early in the year, a conference attended by some 3,000 delegates was held in Sydney. The conference asked the Government to set up a committee of inquiry similar to the Murray committee so that the needs of what is at present regarded as a purely State problem of primary and secondary education could be properly investigated. The Government refused. Of course, there could be no doubt as to the result of such an investigation. A committee conducting such an investigation would have to report that it is necessary for further Commonwealth aid to be given to the States so that they may properly meet this problem. After all, this touches on the university problem, because primary and secondary education provide the basic training, and this cannot be given properly while the schools are starved of buildings, teachers and finance. Only the Commonwealth can provide the finance necessary to carry out this work. The same comments apply to technical schools.
Two years ago, in Victoria, the Standards Association of Australia set new standards for the welding of pressure vessels. The Victorian Government introduced legislation requiring that a very high standard, the highest in the world, be achieved by a pressure line welder before he is permitted to weld pressure vessels. This is because of the danger to the public if such vessels burst. Although the Government imposed that requirement by legislation, not one technical school in Australia was equipped either with grants or with teachers to enable it to give instruction at the required standard. As a consequence, some large industries were held up. The Victorian Education Department said it would like to meet the requirements, but at least two years would elapse before it could establish such a school and give training to the standard required to satisfy the requirements of the Standards Association of Australia.
A serious situation developed, and the industry itself had to establish a school. I think this school is unique. It is unique in Australia, anyhow. It was established in this fashion: The employers and the union met to discuss the matter. Wages were raised by ls. a week and the union then imposed a levy of ls. a week on all its members, thus raising £10,000 a year to establish this school, which is still the only one in Australia capable of training to the required standards. That sort of thing should not be necessary. The State Government should have been able to establish such a school. That is what has happened in one industry.
I know that this is a little wide of the actual report of the Australian Universities Commission, but the point that I wish to make is that the commission has declared that attention should be given to primary, secondary and tertiary training so that the training prerequisite for university study can be given to the best possible advantage.
In conclusion, I should like to say that we on this side of the House feel that the Government’s approach to this problem of meeting our educational requirements is not achieving what is needed. We must meet our educational requirements if we are to continue to exist as an independent nation in our Asian setting and if we are to compete with and trade against those whom some consider to be our real enemies. We must train technicians and scientists in order that we may maintain our national existence. In my view, the Government’s whole approach to this problem simply does not make common sense. The Government tries to consider one phase of education in isolation from the rest, whereas each is complementary to the rest. I believe that ultimately this Government will have to realize that it has a responsibility to cover the whole field of education, as it can do, rather than concentrate soley on one field which, to some extent, is primarily for the privileged. I do not say that in any spirit of criticism of the universities and those associated with them. I say it merely in order to highlight the fact that apart from artificial restrictions on entry to the universities there are economic restrictions - economic reasons why the best brains are not always trained to the highest level.
Wednesday, 7 December 1960
. -Mr. Deputy Speaker, in this debate the Opposition has directed criticism at both the Australian Universities Commission and the Government on several grounds. I feel that, first of all, it is only fair that we accord due recognition to the excellent work that has been done by the commission, and by the Government in bringing in this bill which is designed to carry into effect the recommendations of the commission. When one reads the commission’s report on Australian universities for the period 1958-63, one cannot help but be struck by the fact that the commission has kept its feet firmly on the ground. It has not, in my opinion, attempted to indulge in some of the imaginings that we have heard voiced in the House this evening. It has made the best inquiries that it could make. Those inquiries have revealed to it that certain things can be expected, and the commission has made recommendations based on the findings resulting from those inquiries.
The difficulties relating to tertiary education in Australia are immense. Those difficulties relate to the student numbers and staff shortages which can be expected in the future, and to the problems of efficiency arising from various factors associated with tertiary education. At page 18 of its report, the commission states -
There is a changing attitude on the part of the Australian community towards the value of higher education.
We have, of course, observed this over the past 30 years in Australia. Thirty years ago, there was not very much tertiary education in this country in proportion to the population. The report refers to the changing attitude on the part of the Australian community, and continues -
This has been observed also in other communities.
The Universities Commission then mentions a survey conducted by the Ford Foundation in the United States of America, which revealed that in that country 69 per cent, of the children below the age of eighteen years in 1959 were in that year expected by their parents to go to university or college. That is really a remarkable percentage. The report of the Universities Commission continues -
Professor Frankel, of Columbia University, has described this new attitude as “ the revolution of rising expectations “… In Australia the realization of this ideal is no doubt made easier to-day by the improved economic position of families and in part by the increased availability of scholarships and bursaries.
So the commission set out to determine how many students there will be by 1963 and in the following years. We have been told that the estimates are too great. But we must accept the estimates made by the various universities. Even if we discount some of them somewhat, we see that we shall have a very appreciable rise in the student population. In my home State, Queensland, predicted enrolments are 8,701 in 1960, 9,500 in 1961 and 18,000 in 1966 - an increase of almost 100 per cent, in five years, if that estimate is correct. That is a tremendous increase. But even if the estimate is too high and the student population rises only to say, 14,000 by 1966, the increase will still be remarkable.
One of the reasons for the prospective increase can be seen when we examine the numbers of young students in Queensland. In 1946, 7.600 primary school students sat for the State Scholarship examination. In 1949, the number had risen to 8,800. By 1955, it had risen to 14,900 and by 1958. to 20,800. The estimate for 1961 is 25,000. It is estimated that 27,000 students will sit for the State scholarship examination in 1963. In short, in the very brief space of time between 1946 and 1963 the number of students sitting for the scholarship examination will have risen by 250 per cent. In 1946, 4,400 students sat for the junior university examination. By 1958 this number had risen to 9,900, and by 1963 it is expected to be 17,600. In 1946, a total of 1,490 students sat for the senior university examination. By 1958 the number had risen to 3,200 and it is expected to be 6,500 by 1963. It will be noted that the number who sit for the senior university examination in 1963 will be four times as great as the number that sat in 1946. So we can expect a tremendous increase in the number of university as well as secondary school students by 1963.
The commission further states in its report that, in addition to the difficulties caused by the rising number of students, difficulties arise in relation to staff requirements. It is unnecessary for me to go into the details of staff requirements, because they are obvious. But I believe I should mention one fact to which the report directs attention - that is, that the range of subjects within a faculty sometimes is very wide. The report reads -
The proliferation of subjects in Australian universities is perhaps excessive and certainly costly.
This proliferation has gone on for some time, and it can be expected to continue for a considerable time to come. It has occurred in the University of Queensland as well as in the universities of the bigger capital cities. According to the findings of the commission, there is an optimum beyond which it is not desirable to take university students. The optimum in the case of the University of Queensland is 10.000 students. But as I have indicated, it is expected that the number is likely to rise to 18,000. It is obvious that other universities must be constructed in Queensland before very long so that the number of students attending the University of Queensland will not rise much above 10,000.
Because of the proliferation of courses and the increase in numbers, the University of Queensland estimates that it will need more than £3,000,000 for building in the next triennium, but it will receive only £2.200.000. No doubt the authorities there feel that they will not receive enough to cater for their requirements. We can imagine just how difficult their position will be rn the following triennium. In fact, some of the university authorities in Queensland believe that they will have to adopt a quota system after the coming triennium if they r’o not receive greater assistance to cope with increasing numbers.
Fortunately, the Queensland Governnent has seen the necessity for the decentralization of tertiary education. As a result, it is expected that the Townsville University College will commence operations during the coming vear. But. because of the growth of the number of students in the tertiary field, the establishment of that college will not solve the problem for Queensland. Doubtless not many years will pass before it will become necessary to have university colleges at Rockhampton and on the Darling Downs. Steps are already being taken to establish a university college on the Darling Downs, and there is a little competition between certain centres in relation to the siting of the college.
Although it has been suggested in this House to-night that the estimates of growth are exaggerated, I believe it is reasonable to assume, in view of all the information before us, that there will be a great increase in the number of students. Therefore, we as members of the National Parliament must pay increasing attention to the needs of the Australian universities as the years go by.
– The honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) citicized statements made by members of the Opposition and said that what the present Commonwealth Government is doing for university education is far in advance of what the Labour Government did. Of course, that is quite true. I recall that, when the Labour Government was spending £88,000,000 a year on social services, we replied to criticism by the Liberal Opposition of the day by saying, quite correctly, “ When you were in office you spent only £16,000,000”. Now, when the present Government is spending £300,000,000, the same process is followed in criticizing the £88,000,000 that was spent by the Labour Government. The truth is that, with the community passing through a process of evolution, our values in relation to these matters are changing. The honorable member for Ryan invited his opponents to look at page 68 of the report of the Australian Universities Commission. If he looks at page 69, he will see this interesting statement -
In Table 3 it will be noticed that endowment income and donations have increased from £219,000 in 1940 to £656,000 in 1960. In the same period, however, the total recurrent income increased from £1,050,000 to £22,680,000. The income from endowments and donations has thus decreased from 20.8 per cent, to 2.8 per cent, of the total recurrent income.
One would be adopting a false approach if one were to contend that, because in 1960 the incomes of universities are 22 times as great as they were in 1940, the volume of education given in Australian universities has advanced 22 times.
Quite apart from the difference in the amount of money expended, we are confronted with the fact that over a period of ten years’ knowledge, especially in the scientific fields, has doubled itself. In 1940, no university was involved in expenditure on cyclotrons or the structure of nuclear physics, because universities had not entered that field. That does not alter the fact that the universties of those days produced the people who made the scientific advances that have been made and which have been so expensive to universities. This process will continue. I have no doubt that, if this Government went out of office next year, there would be increased expenditure by the incoming Government or, alternatively, if there is another Liberal Government which displays even an ordinary interest in the subject of university education, there will be further advances. These are fields in which the values of the Australian community are changing, and the government of the day reflects those changing values.
There is, however, a strange paradox - the diminishing ideal in Australia of the free university. In the latest issue of “ Vestes “, Vice-Admiral Rickover, who is a leading scientist in the United States Navy and is perhaps the inventor, if one may use that term, of the nuclear-powered submarine, speaks with alarm about the sloppy state of American education and compares it unfavourably with the efficiency that is being displayed in Russia. He warns us against the idea that, if you have a democratic education structure, ipso facto it will be good when compared with that of totalitarian countries. Going back a century, he points out that authoritarian Prussia started elementary education, high school education and education in the gymnasia long before democratic Britain or the United States, and did so much more efficiently. Leaving that aside, Admiral Rickover has this comment to make -
So progressive dogma has sold out the American dream that the best of education should be free to every child in this country. What education we are giving the majority of our children is rarely above the elementary level. The best of education now costs more money here and takes three to four years longer to obtain than in other democracies or in totalitarian U.S.S.r.; abroad, even professional education is free or costs so little that few are barred by poverty.
This backwardness constitutes a serious indictment of our schools, especially now, when education determines technological power.
He goes on to say -
To-day technological advances are rarely brought about by mechanical skill, which merely improves known techniques through ingenuity. The advances come through the ability of talented, well-educated persons with highly developed professional skills to apply known principles to unforeseen problems, and through this process to derive new principles, and so on ad infinitum. Existing knowledge is the foundation upon which new knowledge is built. The country that has the greatest number of genuinely educated people must inevitably win in the end. Those who prevent our schools from really educating our youth undermine the foundations of our freedom and national power. These are harsh words, but they are the absolute truth.
One of the things that is very hard to understand is that, although the Commonwealth Government and the State governments are becoming increasingly involved with the universities and are increasingly giving them grants, and although there has been a trebling of endowments, the fees being charged by the universities are constantly rising. It seems to be that in Western Australia, which once prided itself on having a free university, the idea of free university education has been abandoned. I am indebted to the Registrar of that State university for drawing my attention to the rises and the projected rises in fees.
I refer to this because I am coming back to what Admiral Rickover had to say about something that is becoming common in Europe and is definitely in existence in Russia. I refer to the fact that it is possible to obtain an advanced education free. In Western Australia, despite Commonwealth grants, it will be harder for the child of poor parents to go to the State university than it was ten years ago. For instance, in the faculty of arts the first-year fees in 1950 were £7 5s., and the fees for other years were £5 15s. Next year, the firstyear fees will be £40 and those for other years will be £40 also. In 1950, the first year fees for law were £7 and for other years £4 15s. Beginning in 1961, they will be £40 in the first year and £40 for other years. For the faculty of education, the rise for the first year is from £8 15s. to £40; in pure science, from £9 15s. to £50; in engineering, from £8 to £50; and in agriculture, from £11 15s. to £50. In 1950, the fees for the faculty of medicine were £12 in the first year. In that year there were no second or subsequent years in medicine, because the university had not then established its medical faculty beyond the first year. Now the fees for subsequent years will be £90. I would say that university education in Western Australia was more accessible before the war than it is to-day, having regard to the fees and charges that I have mentioned, in spite of the fact that the Commonwealth Government is making these grants
On page 64 of the commission’s report is set out the Commonwealth’s share of the expenditure. There has been a tendency to speak as though the Commonwealth will be finding £103,000,000 for the next triennium. The Commonwealth’s share of expenditure for universities other than the Australian National University in the triennium is to be £40,809,000, whilst the States’ share is to be £62,425,000. So we are not enacting legislation now to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £103,000,000; we are enacting legislation to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £40,809,000. By other legislation, we are committing ourselves to an expenditure of £14,406,000 for the Australian National University.
On page 17 of the commission’s report are to be found tables 10 and 11. Table 10 relates to past predictions and table 11 predictions of future enrolments at the universities. Although there are references to selective entries and to raising the standards for admission to the universities, I am afraid that the standard which is in fact being developed by raising the fees is not an intellectual but an economic standard. It may be a factor which reduces enrolments, but it may reduce enrolments at the universities at some expense to the community in the way of loss of latent ability and valuable manpower.
It is interesting, when comparing these two tables, to note that the prediction for 1960 was 48,040 enrolments, and that the actual enrolments were 53,000. That gives rise to the rather alarming thought that the estimate of 96,000 enrolments for the future may well be an under estimate. If there was an under-estimate of 5,000 in the past, then, on a comparable basis, the figure predicted for the future might well be under-estimated by 10,000.
– And, equally it could be a slight over-estimate.
– Yes, but the table giving the enrolments in the seventeen to 22 years age group shows that in 1946 there were 17,166 university students or 2.3 per cent, of the 742,000 in that age group.
The figure rose to 5.8 per cent, by 1959. I cannot see any reason why the values of the community will change. I think that the percentage of enrolments will go on increasing. I do not know at what point we shall reach the optimum, when all those who should be going to universities are in fact doing so. I do not know what the percentage would be then.
There is no sign of slackening. The figures all show a continuous growth, and 1 think one can assume that 5.8 per cent, is not the peak.
The comment in the commission’s report that if we try to limit the size of the universities, then, on present trends, every couple of years the community will be committed to building another Monash university rather prompts the question: Would it not be better for us to spend money on more universities? The report mentions the rather astonishing fact that Cambridge and Oxford have each managed to keep their numbers down to about 8,000, which is a very much smaller number than the 19,000 at the London University and much smaller than the number at the ordinary Australian universities. I still feel that it would be desirable to build more universities now rather than to allow the existing universities to develop to the degree to which universities have developed in some countries, where they have from 40,000 to 50,000 students. Universities of that size become unmanageable administratively and rather soulless. The report quotes Professor Sanders, of the University of Western Australia, on the unprofitable efforts to eliminate students by raising entrance standards in the sense of examinations Professor Sanders is quoted in the report as having said in respect of a study of academic wastage which he made in Australia and other countries -
Evidence from Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada indicates fairly definitely that an endeavour to improve university pass rates by raising entrance standards . . . does not succeed. For example, on present evidence, it takes a very considerable increase in the entrance examination success of students to improve the university first-year pass rate by as much as 5 to 10 per cent. Further, a not inconsiderable amount of failure occurs among potentially able students, while there is evidence of success among other students who have been admitted on relatively low qualifications. The concensus of informed opinion is that if university pass rates are to be improved, the remedy lies within the universities themselves.
I have never seen any tables of comparison of the failure rates in law, in medicine and, shall we say, the arts and economics faculties. I do not know to what extent the common allegation is true that the failure rate is less a reflection of intellectual incapacity than of a trade union principle of limiting the number of people entering an occupation. I hope that it is not true, but if it is, then quite clearly no tinkering with the standards of entrance are going to solve that problem. In the September issue of “ Vestes “ there is a very careful study of the extent to which health is a factor in student failures. In an article by W. H. Trethowan, entitled “The Case for a Student Health Service”, there is an extremely interesting study of failure in relation to the physical health of students. It is well worth looking at.
The tables of student-staff ratios at pages 37 and 38 of the report are some of the important tables in the document. I think that there is a strong disinclination to regard universities as teaching places. I quite appreciate that a university is not a high school; but it is also a fact that there is far too much complacency in universities about members of the staff who are completely unable to teach. Many of those who are unable to teach are not in some mystic way compensating for that lack by being outstanding figures in research who, at the same time, are incapable of communicating their findings. The suggestion is often made that a man is a brilliant scholar, or is doing some wonderful work in research, but is quite incapable of teaching. It is very interesting to note that Mr. Rowe, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of
Adelaide, whose book, “ If the Gown Fits “, has caused a considerable amount of disturbance, in defending his book in the September issue of “ Vestes “ has this to say -
Outstanding teaching should be honoured and rewarded for its own sake, regardless of research. During his early years in a university the average student needs to be taught by supervised, and perhaps trained, staff whose primary interest is teaching and who have not been appointed for their records or promise in research. There should be more lecture courses in post graduate years, preferably on a national basis. The much discussed broadening of education is perhaps best provided by teaching broadly round the subject of primary interest and staff may need to be trained to do this. Refresher courses are needed for graduates.
He has this to say about research -
The output of departmental research of recognizable quality is small. Departmental research work does not provide the basic conditions for successful research and will inevitably decline in importance.
I believe that as research requires more and more equipment and becomes deeper and deeper, as with the research undertaken at the Australian National University, the division between the Institute of General Studies, which, in essence, is engaged in teaching, and the research section which engages in research, becomes more marked. This querying as to whether in the ordinary universities departmental research can have the quality that is now necessary is rather timely. Mr. Rowe went on to say -
The value of departmental research is rarely questioned and needs extra-departmental appraisal. Success in research depends more on leadership than on anything else and nothing, including salaries, should hinder the recruitment of men of great repute. Research should be on a national but flexible basis, providing for mobility of staff and research students.
I think that is one field in which the Australian National University can be really valuable; if people who have been developing some line of interesting research in the State universities can transfer to the National University and get on with that research, it is all to the good, but we hope that that will not be an excuse for those who cannot do the actual teaching.
Professor Oliphant once said in a speech which I heard that much of the most valuable research work to-day is done by under-graduates of about twenty years of age who are brought under the guidance of somebody who puts a problem to them and who can provide leadership. From such a team, completely new and pioneering learning often emerges. But it presupposes that some real teaching has been given to those under-graduates to bring them to the point where they are able to see the new aspects of knowledge which it is necessary that they should follow.
The Commonwealth is committing itself over the next few years to granting £16,466,000 for university buildings and £3,902,000 for the Australian National University, which means about £21,000,000 worth of building construction will be undertaken in the universities. It seems to me that only the University of Queensland is battling to provide a dignified building in the traditional university sense. How it has managed to hold out in the face of all the problems associated with stonemasonry nowadays and to go on with the building of a university in stone, I do not know. Perhaps a picture of the cost of university buildings, which would make it very dangerous for us to compare monetary expenditure now with monetary expenditure of the past, is to be seen in the University of Western Australia. There, we have a beautiful group of buildings constructed of stone, but the standard of former years has had to be completely abandoned because of present building costs. Buildings of brick and glass are now being erected.
I think it is inevitable that that should happen. I am not regretting it. If you have good teachers, it does not matter whether the teaching is undertaken in a tin shed. Originally, the University of Western Australia was housed in tin sheds, and some extremely distinguished work was done at that time.
– In Athens, the teaching was done in the open air.
– Yes. It is very sad that the cost of building has increased so much that only in Queensland, where there may be more stonemasons than there are in any other State, has it been possible for the university to continue to build according to a plan. It is amazing to think of what the relatively small endowment of the past, such as the Hackett Bequest, could achieve by comparison with the millions and millions of Commonwealth money that are spent to-day. The huge expenditures of to-day cannot produce buildings comparable with those that were provided in the case of the University of Western Australia for far less than £1,000,000. Let me say that the buildings of that university were completed only in 1931, which is not so very long ago.
The student and staff ratio brings us back to this question of teaching. I feel that university students at undergraduate level can be raised in quality by tutorial work. There is nothing to prevent recent graduates of outstanding ability from being used for tutorial work. I am speaking especially of the arts faculties and I should imagine that this would apply to law. I do not know anything about the medical faculties, although I understand that the universities draw in brilliant medical practitioners from the hospitals round about for tutorial and lecturing work in the university. Of course, that helps the man in his standing outside as a surgeon, physician or specialist. It seems to me that one way of solving the problem, of coping with the enormous increase in the number of students, is to do that sort of thing on a much greater scale. I suggest that the medical faculties should bring in more brilliant doctors or, if they are not available, able doctors, especially those who are able to teach. Universities will have to draw on lots of people who may not be full-time staff but who can do first year undergraduate teaching. Others can then take the students to the later stages.
This very great commitment of the Commonwealth for university education is inevitable if this nation is to be efficient. The viewpoint that is constantly put from this side of the House that the Commonwealth will be required by national necessity to buttress all those levels of education which lead to university and technical education is, I think, sound. I do not know whether we have ever made a survey in order to find out who ought to be going to universities and whether they are going there. That would be a valuable service for the Australian Universities Commission to perform. I remember it once being stated by the vice-chancellor of the University of Western Australia, before the war, that just about all those who were deserving of going to the university of Western Australia, where tuition was then free, and who could qualify were going there. I do not know whether he said that as a result of a scientific analysis or as an expression of his feeling. There ought to be some idea in the mind of the Universities Commission as to what intelligence quotient one requires to go to a university, and what percentage of the population is of that standard. The commission could also take into consideration other factors, such as application, if it wished to do so.
I feel that there should be portrayed in these reports a picture of the degree of success that has been achieved by the universities in attracting those who ought to be there, and also the extent to which there is wastage. I had the advantage of going to a university, but I can remember very many students in secondary schools and primary schools who, although they had far more ability than I had, never went to a university. If I regard myself as having deserved to go there, I must regard their nonappearance in a university as a wastage to the community. I feel that that is one aspect at which we should look; if we do not do so, we cannot really measure the success or failure of the universities to meet the needs of the community.
.Mr. Speaker, honorable members at this late hour, will be pleased to hear that I shall resist the temptation to canvass the many interesting points that were made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), with many of which I heartily agree. I will, however, mention the point which the honorable member made about the standard of teaching in universities. I agree entirely that not enough attention is given to this matter. In fact, the attitude of large numbers of staff at universities to the teaching aspect of their university work can be described, in my view, as little short of criminal in the circumstances in which we find ourselves in Australia to-day.
Apart from congratulating the Government on the readiness with which it has accepted the Universities Commission’s recommendations for the next triennium at a time when there is very strong pressure to reduce governmental expenditure, I wish only to make one point: Although the Commonwealth Government will spend only £40,000,000 on the State universities in the next triennium, the State governments will spend £62,000,000 in that direction. Over £100,000,000 in all will be spent on university education. That is an enormous sum. I am quite sure that that expenditure is warranted. Perhaps even more money should be spent on university education. But probably 25 per cent, of that £100,000,000 will be wasted because the structure of university education in its present form is costly, inefficient, and very wasteful of the available resources for tertiary education. I do not think that anybody disputes this. The Murray committee itself mentioned this matter in its report. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) mentioned it when he spoke on the bill.
I refer particularly to the very large proportion of people who will go to universities in the period under consideration but will not graduate. I believe that the money spent on people who go to universities and fail to graduate can be regarded as having been wasted. I notice that the Universities Commission has suggested that a part of this expenditure is worthwhile because it possibly provides one sure method of selecting people who are capable of benefiting from a university education. I do not agree with that view. The wastage of university resources results from the fact that over 30 per cent, of the students who undertake university training do not complete their courses and graduate.
Many suggestions have been made in an attempt to ensure graduation. It has been suggested that the staff-to-student ratio should be raised, better teaching facilities provided and that better preparation should be made by students themselves before entering universities. These proposals are designed to improve the situation within the existing education framework. I believe that that approach to this question is quite wrong. I think much can be done to improve matters by raising teaching standards, by providing better facilities, and by ensuring that people who enter universities are better prepared, but the people who will benefit from these measures are not the 30 per cent, who fail to graduate; they are the 20 and 30 per cent, of all students who fail to complete their courses i;i the minimum time. There is scope for improvement in facilities and teaching methods. I do not think that much impact cun be made on the 30 per cent., because most of those people are not capable of benefiting by improved teaching methods. In other words, they should never have gone to a university as we know the term in this country. I have made those remarks because I believe that our approach to this matter should be changed. In its report the commission said -
In Australia there seems always to have been a conviction that higher education should be open to all young people of ability, irrespective of wealth or class; that university education is a right rather than a privilege. 1 agree with that statement. I agree that that is the situation that should prevail in Australia. The commission chose its words very carefully. It placed emphasis on the words “ higher education “. It did not refer to “ university education “ as we understand the term in Australia to-day. The commission also referred to people of ability. The level of ability at which people should be admitted to a university is a matter for argument. We should be thinking in terms of a different form of higher education. We should be thinking of a form of tertiary education better suited to the needs of the community and the people concerned. We should be thinking of additional forms of tertiary education which we can graft on to the present university system. I feel that we should establish something along the lines of the English polytechnic- - tertiary technical institutions. They are tertiary education institutions but they are not universities in the traditional sense. If we established such institutions in Australia and actively encouraged them, I think they would have a number of avantages which would help to overcome many of the problems that we face in tertiary education to-day with our present systems. To begin with, we could probably relieve the universities of the burden of 25 per cent, of the people who attend them at present. Tt must be borne in mind that under our present system people will attend our universities in everincreasing numbers during the next five or six years.
The first reason why I think that the system I have suggested would be better than the present system is that it would involve a more economic use of the resources available for tertiary education. The second reason is that it would be better for the 30 per cent, of students who at present do not graduate from the universities. The third reason is that the suggested system would provide a better service to industry than the present university system does. In the fourth place the suggested system would provide room for certain departments which are now in universities but which should never have been there. It would provide a more economic use of our total resources available for tertiary education.
I will deal briefly with the reasons why the system would provide a more economic use of the total resources available because I do not wish to detain the House any longer than necessary at this hour. In the first place, it would provide a more economic use of resources because the staff in such institutions would not need to be as highly paid as the staff in existing universities. It must be remembered that staff salaries represent a high proportion of the recurrent budget of the universities. A person teaching in an institution such as I have referred to would not need to have the same qualifications as a person teaching in a university. Such institutions would not require the expensive research equipment which represents such a large proportion of the expenditure in the average university. They would be better for the students who fail to graduate from universities at present. Those students would not be wasting two or three years of a university course and then finding themselves without any qualifications at all. In institutions of this type students would find courses suited to their needs and to their abilities. Such courses would provide them with qualifications that would be useful to them and to the community. Those institutions would provide a better service to industry. The needs of industry to-day are being increasingly met by what some people call sandwiched courses. That is, the student spends part of his time in the training institution, goes back to industry and works for a while and then returns to the university or training institution. The courses in the institutions to which I have referred would be specifically tailored and administered to suit the needs of industry. In charge of such institutions would be persons in close liaison with industry.
Such institutions would provide natural resting places for many departments that now exist in universities but which should not be there. I am thinking of faculties such as physical education, pharmacy - some people will disagree with me in this regard - music and drama. The University of New South Wales is a classic example of a university containing departments many of which should be in an institution of the type to which I have referred. However, because there is nowhere else to house them, those departments are housed in the University of New South Wales and their staffs enjoy salaries and conditions equal to those enjoyed by the staff of the university. An institution of the type I have referred to would be a natural resting place for such departments. That would leave the universities free to give the best possible training to the best possible brains, without being frustrated, as they are at present, by a dead weight of numbers. As many other speakers in this debate have done, I wish to emphasize the great importance to a country like Australia of cultivating and developing our best brains. The destiny and the greatness of this country will depend on the trained brains of very few people, even taking into account the numbers who actually attend universities. We should so cut our cloth that those people who rise out of the ruck will receive the best possible training and will be encouraged to make the best possible contribution to the future of this country.
Probably it will be said that my suggestion involves a process of selection - something on which the commission’s report rather frowns. I have no objection to a process of selection provided some form of tertiary education is made available to everybody who has the ability to benefit by it. Then I think we would be fulfilling our responsibilities to the Australian community. The States should be consulted before any process of selection is put into effect. If a mistake is found to have been made in the selection process it should be possible for a student to change from the university to the technical training institution, or vice versa, at the end of the first year or even at the end of the second year. I support the bill.
– I feel that I can agree to a large extent with the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) as to the necessity for a happy medium between higher education and the educational needs of those who are unable to attain degree standard. We know that with new methods of production in industry we need more people with knowledge and skill to maintain research and similar activities. Therefore, I consider the honorable member’s contribution to the debate is of considerable value.
Reverting to the bill before the House, it is evident that supporters of the Government are very pleased with this measure and confident about its aims. But when we compare the expenditure of money on education in Australia - including university, primary, secondary and technical education - with the expenditure in other countries we find that Australia, as one of the principal Western powers, is sadly lacking. I expect that supporters of the Government will say that primary, secondary and technical education are the responsibility of the States. But the Commonwealth must accept its share of responsibility, because it is the taxing authority, and alone decides how much money will be made available to the State governments. The States are limited, therefore, in the money that they can distribute to their departments. That applies not only to State Labour governments, but also to State Liberal governments. Therefore, honorable members cannot be parochial and say, “ I am pure, but you are at fault “, because all political parties in the States are in the same position in this regard. However, we find a “rowing group of people in the community demanding a greater allocation for education from the Commonwealth.
This Government has moved into the field of university education, and the time is overdue when it should also participate in primary, secondary and technical education. If necessary, it could accept the responsibility for all teacher training or for technical education. Under section 96 of the Constitution the Government has decided that it can allocate money for specific purposes, and that is laid down clearly in the report of the Australian Universities Commission. This legislation in itself is a step in the right direction because it is creating a precedent which proves that this Parliament, irrespective of what political party is in control, has the right to move into the field of education and accept its full responsibility.
– What about kindergartens? Would you have us assist them also?
– If the honorable member wants to get into a kindergarten, nobody is stopping him. He is already there, judging from some of the speeches we hear from him from time to time. We cannot be proud of what we have done for university education on a federal level. I have been perusing a booklet on university education which contains statistics for the various countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The figures are for 1957, and I acknowledge that they are three years old, but the comparison is valid. They show that whereas we had 23,000 full-time university students in 1957, Canada had 78,000. New Zealand, with a population of 1,750,000, which is far less than ours, had 5,600 students, and South Africa, with a white population of 3,000,000, had 21,000 university students. There would not be many coloured people among them, in the light of the policies of the South African Government. These figures show that we have nothing to be proud of in this connexion. India and Pakistan have a remarkable record. Between 1938 and 1957 their university population grew from 130,000 to 710,000. These figures are interesting and illuminating.
– Why not give us some of the up-to-date figures? They are quite different.
– That might be so, but the statistics I have are the only figures available for other countries, and they tell the story. If the honorable member can do better he should give us the figures, but I have given the comparative figures for 1957, and that is only three years ago. The comparison is there, whether the figures are up to date or not. Our progress has not been so astronomical in the past three years that we can be proud of it.
– The latest figures quoted by the Australian Universities Commission in its report are those for 1957-58.
– That is true. Even the commission itself has not the latest figures for all countries. 1 propose now to deal with this question of education, as it affects my own district. I am deeply concerned at the failure of the Universities Commission to make money available for the development of the Newcastle University College. As honorable members will know, Newcastle district has a population of about 300,000. It is claimed that within a reasonable distance of Newcastle there is a population of 350,000 people from, which a university could draw. That is about equal to the population of Tasmania, and if Tasmania is entitled to a fully autonomous university, and grants from the Universities Commission, Newcastle University College is also entitled to an adequate share of financial assistance from- the commission. I know that honorable members will say that the New South Wales Government has not done anything about it, and I shall deal with that matter later and give certain reasons for its attitude. I do not agree with its attitude either. As I have said, the Newcastle district has a population equivalent to that of Tasmania, and it should be given an allocation for its university college from the Universities Commission.
My inquiries show that the standard of the Newcastle University College is equal to, or better than, the standard set in the New England University and the University of New South Wales. When students from New England University, the Newcastle University College and the University of New South Wales sat for the same subjects, the Newcastle students topped the list in sixteen out of twenty subjects. That indicates that the standards in the college are equal to those in either of those autonomous universities - the University of New England and the University of New South Wales. Therefore, the Universities Commission is not entitled to say that the Newcastle University College is second-rate and is not entitled to further funds. Its standards are quite satisfactory. Any one who checks the figures will find that in 1958 Newcastle students topped the poll in sixteen out of twenty subjects. That is something of which they are entitled to be reasonably proud.
I am concerned lest the college stagnate and people in the district will not have an opportunity to attend the college. In 1954, when the figures of prospective attendances were taken out, there were five local high schools from which to draw students. In 1963 there will be fifteen local high schools from which the college will draw students. There has been an increase in the number of people who will be interested in attending the college. We want the children to have an opportunity to attend a university college in their own district without having to travel to the University of New England at Armidale, or to the University of Sydney or the University of New South Wales. If they live in the Newcastle district, obviously they should be permitted to attend a university or a university college, as the case may be, in Newcastle. At the moment, Newcastle has not a fully autonomous university.
Additional support for the college should be forthcoming. The estimated enrolment figure for 1961 has already been passed. Enrolments at present number 1,080 undergraduates and 24 post graduates, a total of 1,104. It is estimated that next year there will be an additional 100 students, when the enrolment figure will equal the figure estimated for 1963, which is the end of the present triennium. By 1961 the college will have enrolled the number of students which was expected to be enrolled in 1963, yet it is not to get any further allocation for development. It will have to wait until the next triennium before it can get any more money. It is estimated that in 1963, at the end of the present triennium, total enrolments will be about 1,500 full-time students.
We in the north are very anxious that this university be developed. The Shortland site is the site that has been selected by the State Government. Unfortunately, there has been quite a deal of delay and backing and filling. On the Thursday when the report of the Australian Universities Commission was received here, I immediately telephoned Sir Leslie Martin in Melbourne and asked him five questions. I then wrote to him, confirming the questions I had put and asked him for replies in writing. He sent replies and I am quite satisfied with them. They clearly indicate to me that the commission is not prepared to make any additional money available foi the continued development of Newcastle University College on the Tighes Hill site, where it is being developed in conjunction with the Newcastle Technical College. There has been a considerable amount of dissatisfaction between the staff of the university college on the one hand, and the staff of the technical college, on the other. They are working too closely together, with the result that there is disharmony between the two groups. The chairman of the commission himself indicated that he knows that is the position and that he agrees that it is most undesirable. I asked him -
If the New South Wales State Government had given a dear undertaking that the Newcastle University College would be commenced this year on the Shortland site, would the Commission have recommended that money be allocated in this programme for its development?
The reply was -
The question is somewhat academic since the Commission has had no indication that the State Government is likely to be interested in developing the Shortland site in the near future.
That is not altogether correct. The State Government has indicated that it proposes to develop the Shortland site, although it has not said when it will do so. I also asked for the chairman’s opinion of the Shortland site. He replied -
I am happy to report that the Commission is impressed by the Shortland site, and, subject to closer study of services available, considers that it is suitable for university purposes.
In my opinion, it is a most suitable site for the development of a university for the future use of Newcastle. When I say that, I do not mean the distant future; I mean the immediate future, when the site will be in the centre of the total population. It is not very far from the city at present. It is not more than five or six miles from the business centre and the post office. The population growth is all around it. The site comprises 256 acres and, as the chairman indicated, it is an excellent site. I also asked -
Does the Commission consider the facilities at present provided on the Tighes Hill site sufficient to meet the requirements of University education up to 1963?
The chairman replied -
The facilities are sufficient, but not ideal.
My last question was -
Does the Commission intend recommending any further money for the enlarging of the Newcastle University College on the Tighes Hill site?
The chairman stated -
In reply to your fifth question, I can say that the Commission hopes a decision will be made on the permanent location of the Newcastle University College during the 1961-63 triennium. If a decision is made, the Commission will be able to consider the needs of the University College for the 1964-66 triennium.
My point in regard to all those questions and answers is that this Parliament now has the responsibility of indicating where it believes universities should be established. The commission that has been established is no longer a yes-man commission. It is a commission which I believe should lay down policy. I think the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) said that university development in Queensland should be farther afield than Brisbane - in Townsville and other places north of the capital. I believe that it is the responsibility of the commission to say to Queensland: “ We believe that the University of Queensland should be not further developed in Brisbane. That establishment should be retained as it is and all further money made available should be used to develop universities in other parts of Queensland.” The same should apply in New South Wales. The commission should say to the New South Wales Government, “ We will not make additional money available for the development of the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, because we believe that they are overcrowded and should be decentralized.” Places where there should be university development include Newcastle and Wollongong. The University of New England should be developed further and another university should be established at Bathurst, Orange or Parkes, to cater for people in the mid-west of New South Wales.
It is the responsibility of the commission to plan nationally for the positioning of universities. It should not permit State governments to dictate where universities shall be situated or developed, because Commonwealth money as well as State money is being used for the purpose. We are providing money on a £1 for £1 basis with the States for the development of the universities. As we are putting up an equal amount of money, we should have an equal say in where those universities are to be. From the answers I received from the chairman of the commission, it is obvious that Newcastle University College will receive only £18,000 to complete projects recommended by the Murray report. It is obvious that if the New South Wales Government had said, “ We will immediately get on with the development of the Shortland site “, the commission would have made money available for continued development. I am sorry that £400,000 was expended on the Tighes Hill site. 1 should have liked to see it expended on the Shortland site. But the point is that it was not. This commission could, as I have suggested, inform the State governments that it will not make any money available for the further development of existing universities. From the report we have before us it is obvious that the University of Sydney is overcrowded. It is obvious also that Sydney itself is overcrowded. The clear answer to this problem of overcrowding is to establish universities away from the cities. If we did this, we would relieve people in the country districts of the burden of having to travel to and live in the cities in order to attain a higher level of education.
On Saturday last the New South Wales Minister for Health, the Honorable W. F. Sheehan, as a result of representations made to him over a long period, made a welcome statement at the opening of the nurses’ home at the Royal Newcastle Hospital. He said that many representations had been made to him by members of Parliament and by individuals and organizations in the Newcastle district, requesting that a medical school be established in Newcastle. He said he had been asked to report upon the matter, and that he was certain, now that his report had been forwarded, that the people of Newcastle would be happy with the contents of it. That seemed to me a clear indication that the third medical school in New South Wales would be established in Newcastle. I believe that the development of the medical school and of the university college could go forward in conjunction one with the other. The Royal Newcastle Hospital is the equal of any hospital in the Commonwealth, and I believe that the medical school and the university college should be developed on the Shortland site. I also believe that this Parliament - and I lay no blame at the door of any individual on the Government side - should be prepared to say to the State governments, through the commission, “We will make the money available, but you must put your money up “. If the commission had made available £300,000 or £400,000 for the development of the college on the Shortland site the State Government would have had no alternative but to put up a like amount. I feel that the commission failed the district of Newcastle in this connexion.
Having made those comments, I do not intend to oppose this bill. I hope that on future occasions the commission will seriously consider some of the remarks that have been made, and that it will give constructive directions with regard to future planning.
– I am extremely sorry that a subject as important as this has to be discussed at such a late hour. I shall proceed as quickly as possible to the essential points that I wish to make in discussing this measure, which, in the main, I wholeheartedly support. I pay tribute to the continued interest that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government have shown in the task of bringing our universities up to a standard comparable with that of universities in other countries.
I have noted that considerable emphasis is laid on the development of higher education in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is important that we should realize that a great deal of energy and money is being spent in training professional and technological men in that country. But although, by adopting similar methods, we might achieve satisfactory superficial results, I personally would be appalled to see those methods adopted in the higher education of our students.
I congratulate the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) on a very clear statement of his views. While I do not, perhaps, agree with some of his propositions, I have a great deal of sympathy with some of the sentiments he expressed. The college at Newcastle was for a time an annexe of the University of New England. As a councillor of that university I attended the first conferring of degrees at the present university college in Newcastle. It seems an extraordinary thing that a city as large as Newcastle has not had, long before this, a well-established university institution, notwithstanding the fact that that city is only 100 miles from Sydney.
Let me refer to one or two aspects of this legislation. On page 69 of the commission’s report we read a comment on the large increase in the number of enrolments and on the critical lack of experienced staff. These remarks make me inclined to agree with the suggestion put forward that there should be a comprehensive survey of our secondary schools system in Australia. If we are to have experienced staff we must use the material available to the fullest advantage. I personally am far from satisfied that the present system is giving us a sufficient number of properly trained secondary school graduates to achieve a balanced system.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) made the interesting suggestion that the age of admission to universities should be raised from sixteen to eighteen years. There are two objections to that proposition. The first is that it would exclude in some cases students who are extremely brilliant and who would be wasted outside the universities. There sits alongside me at times in this House the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), a man who has made an important contribution to the welfare of Australia. He attended the University of Sydney at the age of fifteen years. He graduated in medicine at such an early age that he had to continue at the university until he turned 21 because a medical practitioner cannot be registered until he has reached that age. I point out those facts because I am sure that if you fixed a hard and fast rule you would exclude from the universities persons who would benefit both themselves and their country.
Nevertheless, I do agree with the suggestion that there is ample room for an improvement, at least in my own State of New South Wales, in the preparation of students for entrance to universities. In 1937-38, when I was Minister for Education in the New South Wales Government, I had consultations with forward-looking members of my own department, with men like Sir Robert Wallace, Vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, who is now living in Canberra, and with Mr. Len Robson, the headmaster of the North Shore Grammar School. As a result, I decided to bring down a measure which was intended to provide for what I might call higher and lower Leaving Certificates. My own experience, extending then over a number of years, convinced me that there was a large number of young people who, under the system then in force, which provided for an Intermediate Certificate after three years of education and a Leaving Certificate after a total of five years, were entering universities when they were still immature. My idea was to abandon the Intermediate Certificate, except in the case of so-called commercial and domestic science schools. For those who wanted to fit themselves for university education, provision was made for a lower leaving certificate which could be obtained after four years’ secondary education. They could then leave to undertake other training or go on to take honours courses for another one or two years, and so be more mature and more properly trained for university work. Unfortunately, implementation of the scheme was delayed. A very important committee came to me at the outbreak of war and begged me not to proclaim the scheme because it thought that the war might cause a disruption of staff and that the scheme would fail due to a lack of trained staff. The time is long overdue for that scheme to be introduced into the education system of those States where there is an extension of the academic section of secondary school training for those students who are capable of benefiting by a university course. It would give them at least one year’s training along the road to their degree course without loading the university.
During the debate one honorable member stated that he believed there should be more institutes of technology. The thought behind that suggestion rather perturbs me because it has been suggested that it would be a satisfactory alternative to university education to divert almost forcibly, as it were, a large number of our young people into institutes of technonogy or technical institutions. However there is also a fairly good idea behind the suggestion provided you observe one fact which experience, in the English-speaking world at any rate, has shown to be absolutely necessary. You have great institutes like the one at Massachusetts which for years had a certain amount of arts work carried for it by Harvard University. To-day, Massachusetts has developed fully a course in the humanities alongside its technological courses. The same position applied to the California Institute of Technology which, while it admitted only a very limited number a few years ago - 160 undergraduates a year - also provided that graduates must read in the humanities, not necessarily to the degree stage but sufficient to satisfy the examiners that they had read beyond the mere science in which they were engaged.
The University of New South Wales, which was formerly the University of Technology, has lately broadened into a full university providing a wider range of training. It is all very well for people to emphasize what is being done in Russia and and other countries, but if you train men solely in the material application of scientific knowledge and you do not give them a basis of human understanding and human thought, and an understanding of human relationships, you will train, according to one very brilliant commentator, a race of clever devils who will destroy themselves and the world because they will not use their abilities for the broad purposes of humanity as well as for their own evil.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) made some criticism which I thought was unnecessarily destructive because, after all, the measure now before us will be of tremendous help in the development of universities in Australia. One of his criticisms was that the commission need not have been so long in preparing its report because the information on which the report was based was available. What information was available? I am a councillor of a university which went to a very good deal of trouble to provide the necessary information. When considering the report of the Murray committee we were rather astonished to find that it was estimated that we would have a certain number of enrolments in the University of New England by 1963. In fact, we have exceeded that number this year. However, the estimates were made upon known information at the time. I can assure honorable members that there was no lack of speed in preparing the estimates and other information and in keeping everything up to date for the benefit of the Martin commission. In my opinion the university could not have prepared the information any earlier than it did, and the commission could not have used it any earlier than it did. The commission has been very helpful to the University of New England, but if I have conveyed the impression that we obtained all that we hoped to obtain I would be misleading the House.
I shall move now from the general to the particular. Table 14 on page 19 of the report indicates that in the University of New England 64.1 per cent, of total enrolments were external students. That statement might be misleading if honorable members did not read the whole report which balancies it to some extent. From the beginning the University of New England determined that external students would have to spend a certain amount of time during vacations at the university and would have to contact profesors and lecturers and, as far as possible, become part of the organic life of the university. Those students also would be helped in their studies. This proposal was apart altogether from the fact that the director of external studies would visit the principal centres where external students were enrolled, meet them and discuss their problems with them. Proof of the benefit of this system is found in the fact that one of, if not the most brilliant students to have taken his course in New South Wales was an external student of the University of New England.
I want to pass now to a matter that I regard as of first-class importance. The commission has estimated that by 1966 student enrolments will have risen to 95,000, and the universities have estimated that by that year enrolments will have risen to 96,000. The suggestion has been made that those estimates are excessive. I do not agree. In 1960 the University of New England had 2,225 students. It is estimated that by 1963 we shall have 3,456 students and that by 1966 we shall have 4,250 students. Those figures indicate an increase of over 90 per cent, in enrolments in the six-year period. That estimate is not exaggerated. On the contrary, if we had greater faculty development we certainly would have a higher number of enrolments than that.
When we analyse the figures of university enrolments and the results obtained from the dissection on page 28 of the commission’s report, a very interesting fact emerges. Figures are given for the various Australian universities, including the University of New England which is developing from being a very small institution into one which is growing very rapidly. The interesting fact to which I want to refer is that 6.1 per cent, of the students enrolled are in the so-called category of agricultural science. For convenience, the commission has placed them in that category. Actually at the University of New England there is an entirely different faculty, the faculty of rural science. Rural science is as different from agricultural science as it is from veterinary science. Agricultural science deals mainly with the production of feed for the animal. Veterinary science deals principally with the curing of animal diseases. Rural science deals with the living animal, the best use of feed and the prevention of disease, in which the experience, training and knowledge gained elsewhere can assist.
Another aspect which is of extraordinary importance to Australia is that the University of New England has a faculty of agricultural economics. It is significant that no other Australian university has such a faculty. That is an appalling disgrace to Australia, which has had to depend so much on the products of the land for its very existence and advancement. We in Australia to-day depend very much upon what we receive for wool and our agricultural products to pay off loans and to pay for the imports that we need. Yet the University of New England is the only university which has a faculty of agricultural economics. Surely we should have one in every Australian university. Indeed, we should have had them years ago.
I do not know whether my distinguished friend the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) agrees with me when I say that in the past economics have been determined by the industrial and commercial experience of the great cities. In the application of economics to agricultural and pastoral pursuits, it is to our credit that at least there is one faculty of agricultural economics in Australia, although in my opinion there should be at least a dozen such faculties to look after the interests of so important a section of the community. We would have far fewer failures on the land, far fewer bungled land settlement schemes, far fewer bungled marketing schemes and far fewer imperfections in transport and overseas marketing if we had had faculties which devoted their activities particularly to this section of the community.
Only in the University of Queensland is there anywhere near the same proportion of students studying agricultural science as at the University of New England. At the University of Queensland, 3.4 per cent, of the students are studying agricultural science, compared with 6.1 per cent, at the university in which I am interested, which is perhaps a smaller university. I have only one further comment to make. I would have much more to say on this subject if the hour were not so late. There are people who criticize what the Government is doing or is attempting to do, while others criticize the fact that things have been left undone which they think should have been done.
In conclusion, I say that Australia is like a man who is developing an estate or a business. Every penny that he receives is ploughed back into that development. He has to put up with inconveniences and to make scarifices if he is gradually to build up his business or develop his property to the point where it is fully productive. In the field of education, and particularly in university education which we are discussing to-night, Australia is precisely in that position, just as it is in many other community activities. It is reaching forward and trying to make up some of the leeway of the past as a result of poor equipment, poor provision for training and the neglect of universities in particular. It is trying to do that as well as many other things.
I congratulate the Government on the fact that, notwithstanding that the States have to find a considerable proportion of the money for universities, £103,000,000 will be spent in the next three years in meeting requirements and perhaps in laying a firm foundation for a great growth in the next triennium. Further strains will be placed upon the resources of the nation if it is to compete successfully with other nations. Australia cannot afford to let one child with natural ability and natural brilliance fall by the way-side due to an inadequacy of the means to bring it to the full use of its powers. Unless rich soil is cultivated and looked after, it produces bad weeds. The richer the soil, the more vicious and the more uncontrollable are the weeds. Human nature does not differ very greatly from soil in that respect. We must train our youth to equip them to become a stable element in the agricultural and business communities of this nation. We will then have a much more wholesome community, provided we always remember that it is not sufficient for a man to know how to do things; it is as important that he knows why he does certain things. At all times, his objectives should take account of his debt to the whole human race.
, - Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are all in the debt of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) for the great contributions he has made to university education in Australia as the father of the only university to be founded between the two world wars and still the only university to be founded outside the capital cities. The bill, implements the financial recommendations of the first report of the Australian Universities Commission. Much of the financial provision in the last three years, pursuant to the report of the Murray committee, has been spent on university buildings. Every campus in Australia has been transformed in that period. The first report of the Australian Universities Commission recommends further generous provisions, and we are unanimously adopting those recommendations for further building in every Australian university. Every campus will be transformed still further in the approaching triennium.
In two other respects the commission’s first report is somewhat of a disappointment. It is not as stimulating or as penetrating as the report presented by the Murray committee. 1 refer to the two aspects of students and staff. The provision that the commission has recommended for students will increase the number of Commonwealth scholarships by one-third. The present number of 3,000 scholarships has remained unchanged since 1951 and the commission points out that in the intervening years the pool of matriculants has increased two and a half times. Not all matriculants enter universities, but the number of students who have entered universities has doubled between 1951 and the present year. If the anticipated increase in enrolments occurs next year, even with the increase in scholarships from 3,000 to 4,000 which has been approved, the number of new students receiving Commonwealth scholarships will be only about 24 per cent., whereas in 1951, the first year of the scheme, it was 39 per cent.
The commission points out that in 1957-58, 80 per cent, of British university students were assisted, whereas in 1958 only 49 per cent, of Australian university students were assisted, 23.3 per cent, being in receipt of Commonwealth scholarships. The increase, now, of one-third in the number of Commonwealth scholarships will bring the number of Australian university students receiving assistance to somewhere about 57 per cent. Two years ago in Britain the Anderson committee recommended that every student accepted by a university should receive a scholarship. I draw that comparison because it is one which the commission makes and I believe it shows that we are still not tackling this problem boldly enough. As the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) so rightly pointed out, no young man of talent or, indeed, of adequate capacity, should be deprived of the opportunity of university education. Long ago we accepted the principle of free primary education. Between the two world wars we accepted the principle of free secondary education. We still do not accept the principle of free tertiary education.
One still has the suspicion that the number of scholarships now being recommended is being kept artificially low for the same reason as the number has been kept at 3,000 up to this stage - to relieve the pressure on universities. It will be remembered that in September, 1957, the Murray committee reported that the number of scholarships offered should be increased without delay. In August, 1958, eleven months later, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) issued a statement, outside the House, to the effect that the Government would not at that stage increase the number of Commonwealth scholarships because university accommodation was already under great pressure. In the following March he told the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) that one of the great problems was accommodation in the universities because these scholarships were very numerous. The reason why the number of scholarships has not been increased until now is to price some of the candidates out of the field in order to relieve pressure on the universities.
If it is necessary or desirable to keep down the number of university enrolments, the proper method would be to impose some test other than a means test, in order to keep university education, which the governments largely subsidize for everybody, including those who pay fees, for those who can benefit most from it. The worst way of keeping the numbers down is to put university education beyond the financial reach of a certain proportion of people. We are improving the position, but it is still quite obvious that in the 1960’s the amount of assistance which will be available to matriculants to go to universities will be very much less than it was when the 1950’s dawned in this country.
I pass next to the position of the university staffs. This, unquestionably, is the greatest problem facing Australian universities. We are meeting the challenge of accommodation. It is within our means, both financially and, in this Parliament, constitutionally, to provide benefits to students. We can make it possible for every student who can qualify for entrance to university to enter a university. But we still have not solved the problem of attracting adequate staffs. The commission recognizes this problem but it is very disappointing in its approach to it. It largely contents itself with the statement -
It is difficult to see the solution of this staffing problem if the present pattern of tertiary education persists.
Again the commission notes, somewhat forlornly, this quotation from an American report -
Can the institutions of the nation, staffed with corps of teachers whose average amount of preparation falls from year to year, continue to produce educated citizens?
Up to now we have met the problem by attracting the necessary additional staff to Australian universities from the United Kingdom, but that source is drying up. The United Kingdom itself is very greatly expanding its own university and tertiary education facilities. It is also meeting in an admirable way, the challenge to staff a very great number of international bodies and institutions in those communities which are emerging into self-government in association with our Commonwealth of Nations. There are fewer British academics now available for recruitment in Australia. In fact, the only country whose academics will find Australia more attractive than their own country, is New Zealand. We are already very greatly in debt to New Zealand academics, from Copland to Webb. It is probable that we shall still be the light on the hill to all those New Zealanders who cannot quite make the grade to the United Kingdom itself, but we shall continue to lose academics to the United Kingdom. The only time the trend was reversed was when the Australian National University was set up and we offered some of our greatest expatriates chairs or deanships in that institution.
We have always suffered the loss of some of the brightest products of our Australian universities. I suppose that is inevitable, as we are one of the outlying parts of the English-speaking world. Every large community or cultural group has that disadvantage. People inevitably go to the largest centres of population. Belgians go to Paris, Americans go to New York and
Australians go to London. Nevertheless it is disappointing to see that the commission does not suggest how this problem can be overcome. Australia’s isolation, geographically and culturally, means that we shall clearly have to offer greater inducements by way of sabbatical leave, research facilities and so on if we are to attract first-grade people from overseas to Australian universities, or if we are to retain all our own first-rate men. It is so much easier and more attractive for them to go to other centres, particularly in the United Kingdom, where publishing facilities, academic circles and the whole cultural setup are so much more flourishing and integrated. There are three particular aspects-
– What is the good of this at this hour of night, with no one listening?
– That could have been said at any time during the last three hours. We do not arrange the speaking time. We are all speaking for the record.
– I suppose that is all it is, but what a waste of time!
– The Opposition is not responsible for arranging the business of the House. It is an unfortunate fact, of course, that university bills are usually discussed at the end of a session. I regret that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has now gone out in high dudgeon again. The 1951 bill was taken through all stages in the early morning hours of the last day on which Parliament sat in that year. The 1953 bill was taken through all stages during the early morning session of the last day, which concluded at 5.20 a.m. The 1955 bill passed through all stages in the last week of the session. The 1956 bill, was passed on the last night of the session. On this occasion we at least have the rest of to-day and all to-morrow to sit, but we are following the usual tradition, burning the midnight oil on a universities bill.
There are three matters to which I wish to direct the Government’s attention. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is the only responsible person still in the House on the Government side. He is a product of what used to be the only free university in Australia. I would hope that these three matters which are in the Government’s jurisdiction would be dealt with in good time and at a proper hour, before much further time elapses. They are the questions of teaching hospitals, technological education and teachers’ colleges.
The question of teaching hospitals illustrates quite well the length of time that it takes for the Government to get under way. In September, 1957 the Murray committee singled out medical education as a problem which would require very careful consideration and discussion in the near future. In April, 1959 the State Ministers for Health took the matter up with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). In August, 1959 he referred the matter to the new Australian Universities Commission. In early December of last year he appointed an advisory committee to inquire into the matter. The committee, naturally enough - because this is a vast field - has not yet reported. I content myself with pointing out that it was over two years before this committee was set up to inquire into this field of tertiary education.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) earlier - actually it was last night, at quite a reasonable hour - compared university enrolments in the United Kingdom and in Australia. The question of teaching hospitals demonstrates that there are a number of persons who are regarded as university students in Australia but are not so regarded in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, whatever their students are called, teaching hospitals are part of tertiary education and they are accepted as such both in the United Kingdom and in Australia. This is one matter on which the Government has set in train the action which will lead to a report, but it waited for over two years to do so.
– You must not expect the report to be furnished quickly.
– I expressly said that. It is a complicated matter and it naturally takes quite a time to look into it.
The next matter is that of technological education. The Murray committee again made quite a forthright recommendation on that subject in these terms -
The situation is indeed a complex one and calls for far closer examination than it has been possible for us to give. Such an investigation would call for participation by the various interests in the Commonwealth and State Governments, the universities, the technical colleges and industry. It should start by ascertaining more clearly what are the actual needs of industry and then make recommendations to find the best ways of meeting them.
The Universities Commission in its report said that among the typical issues which might call for the assistance of advisory committees in the future was technological education at the tertiary level. In the meantime, in November, 1957, the Australian Academy of Science reported to the Government that drastic measures should be taken to train more scientists and technologists. The report said that, per head of population, Australia was producing only half as many scientists as Great Britain and Canada, between one-third and one-quarter as many as the United States, and only a quarter as many as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
This is a matter which was strongly recommended by the Murray committee in September, 1957, and was referred to in the terms I have just quoted by the Australian Academy of Science in November, 1957. It has been put to the Government in the first report of the Universities Commission in October of this year. One would hope that not much longer will elapse before the Government sets up this committee to inquire into another feature of tertiary education. The Australian Universities Commission Act leaves it to the Prime Minister, the responsible Minister, to appoint such a committee. The Universities Commission and the Murray committee pointed to the need for such a committee. Let us hope it is not long before we have it.
The third matter is that of teachers’ colleges. The Murray committee reported on the basic nature of teacher training in universities, and indeed in other forms of education. At paragraph 31, it said -
One major and critical field of graduate employment is that of teaching. Unless the schools can be staffed with soundly trained graduates, it is obvious that the whole educational edifice is threatened, for the schools, and the quality of their staff, will determine largely the volume of the flow of students into the universities and of graduates into the community. To-day the secondary schools, and particularly the high schools which provide an education to matriculation standard, are making heavy demand on the universities for graduates in arts, mathematics and science.
The commission in its report gives as one of the reasons for the very large - in fact, the unexpectedly large - flow of students into universities the rapid increase in the numbers of young people recruited by Education Departments to undertake teacher training courses involving university enrolment. On many occasions honorable members have referred to the fact that the Commonwealth Government takes no interest in education other than at the tertiary level, but teachers’ colleges are a form of tertiary education which is basic not only to other forms of tertiary education but to every form of education. Several of us have raised this matter with the Prime Minister from time to time. In September of last year he gave an answer to me in these terms -
As for the matter of teachers’ colleges, to the extent that this involves what might be called in a broad sense the university field, the commission will undoubtedly look at it. lt is a matter of regret to a very great number of us that the commission makes no reference to the problem other than in the passage I have mentioned. One would have hoped that in this matter the commission would seek the appointment of an advisory committee and that the Prime Minister would make such an appointment.
It is not easy to solve all the problems of national growth and university growth. The commission has on this occasion produced largely a statistical bulletin. It may not have had the opportunity to sort out all the remedies. Firstly, there is quite clearly some need for an investigation into how many people could benefit from university education in Australia or how many people want to benefit from it. We can then judge how far we are meeting the demand or the challenge.
Secondly - and this is a very large problem - the commission has given us painfully small assistance on how to attract staff to Australian universities and other tertiary institutions. Thirdly, it is to be hoped that we shall have in a reasonable time, considering the complexity of the subject, the Advisory Committee’s report on teaching hospitals, and that similar committees will be set up to report on technological education as recommended by the Murray committee over three years ago, and on the problem of teachers’ colleges. The latter is a form of tertiary education which is basic to all other forms of education in this country, and about which the Commonwealth has shown no interest at all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovenorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the remuneration of the justices of the High Court.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Sir Garfield Barwick and Mr. Hasluck do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir Garfield Barwick, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the salaries of Her Majesty’s Justices of the High Court of Australia. The present salaries, last dealt with in 1955, are - Chief Justice £8,000 a year, and each puisne justice £6,500 a year. It is proposed to set these salaries at - Chief Justice £10,000 a year and each puisne Justice £8,500 a year.
The High Court of Australia is the constitutional court of the Commonwealth, that is to say, it is the only court established by the Constitution itself and thus the only court dealt with in this bill. It performs as itself an organ of the national government, the supreme judicial task of the interpretation and the safeguarding of the Federal Constitution. Not merely does this function call for consumate knowledge of the Constitution, its history and its past construction, but also for great judgment of a practical kind. The decisions of the court on constitutional questions carry great consequences for the people of Australia as a whole, and indeed form part of the history of the nation, not merely of its developing law. In addition, the High Court, unlike in this respect the Supreme Court of the United States, has a general appellate jurisdiction throughout the whole range of the law from other federal courts and from the Supreme Courts of the States. One has only to glance through the voluminous Commonwealth law reports to be alerted to the wide spread of knowledge and experience, and of practical judgment, required of the members of this great court.
The problem of setting appropriate salaries for the judiciary is never easily resolved. Many factors must be weighed, such as the need to attract the most able men when still at the height of their careers in the legal profession, the need to secure to the Bench financial independence and freedom from pecuniary anxiety, the need to reflect the prestige of the court and a sense of justice in the remuneration for the work required to be done. In addition, some questions of relativity arise. Whilst the Government does not think that judicial salaries should be varied with any frequency, or with any particular reference to changes in the wage levels or structure in industry, it cannot overlook an altered level of remuneration in the community generally and, perhaps, particularly the changes in the salaries of the statutory officers. In this connexion it should be recalled that Judges have not been included in the adjustments made since 1955 in the salaries of Commonwealth officers and that by the Salaries (Statutory Officers) Adjustment Act 1960, passed earlier this year, salaries of some of the most senior statutory office holders were increased to £6,900 a year.
Even more significantly, the salaries of the Judges of the Supreme Courts of some of the States of the Commonwealth have been outstanding and several times increased since 1955. I shall mention in a moment the amounts of these salaries to enable comparison to be made. But let me at once say that the Supreme Courts of the States are great courts carrying heavy responsibilities over wide fields of law, finally settling the greater number of the controversies in point of fact between citizens. However, not only are many constitutional cases beyond their competence, but the High Court is a general court of appeal in respect of the decisions of the Supreme Courts of the States. It is in the Government’s view intolerable that salaries of any of the Judges of the Supreme Court should be larger than those of the Justices of the High Court. The present position is that in comparison with the salaries payable in the States of New South Wales and Victoria the salaries of the Justices of the High Court, with the exception of the Chief Justice, are less than the effective salaries of the Supreme Court Judges. With the concurrence of honorable members. I incorporate in “Hansard” a table which shows the movement of the respective salaries over the last five years. It is as follows: -
In making these comparisons, it must be borne in mind that the allowances paid by the States are intended to be free of tax and in fact are deductible for purposes of taxation without any vouching of their expenditure.
As I have sard, the Government does not desire that there should be frequent changes in< judicial salaries, and in particular does not desire that this movement should be in any particular sense related to changes in wages payable in industry. It therefore hopes that the- present levels of salary will, endure for a. substantial period of years in the future. Weighing all the factors involved, the Government: has decided to ask the Parliament, to set by this statute what it considers to be proper levels of remunera-tion for the justices of the High Court of Australia. These figures I have already mentioned:
The only other matter I need to mention is that the Government decided that the new salaries should take effect from 1st October, 1960. Pressure of other business prevented this legislation from being introduced earlier, but the bill provides accordingly. I commend it to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the remuneration of the judges of certain courts created by the Parliament and of the Presidential Members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Sir Garfield Barwick and Mr. Hasluck do prepare and bring- in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir Garfield Barwick, and read a< first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is complementary to the one dealing with the salaries of the judges of the High Court of Australia. Its purpose is to increase the salaries of the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the Federal Court of Bankruptcy and the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and the salaries of the Presidential Members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It will establish a basic judicial salary of £7,000 a year for judges of those tribunals, and a salary of £8,000 a year for the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
Australia - and I am sure the House agrees with me on this point - has the greatest respect for the judiciary and the functions it performs, and knows that it is essential to the maintenance of our democratic way of life that the rule of law, whether it be in the industrial sphere, in bankruptcy administration or in the ordinary administration of justice, be impeccably observed. This can be achieved only if the judiciary is completely independent, and consists of men of the highest quality and integrity. The salaries of the Commonwealth judges with which this bill deals must be such as will enable them to discharge their singular responsibilities with independence and without financial embarrassment and ought not to be so low as to deter the best-qualified persons from accepting the duties and the personal sacrifices of the Bench. Amongst these sacrifices, in the case of the federal judges, are the interruptions to the family and personal life of the judges necessarily involved in the ambulatory character of Commonwealth courts.
When the Government reviewed the salaries of the justices of the High Court, it also looked at the salaries of other federal judges, and was confronted with the same disparity between the present salaries of those judges and the remuneration payable to other public officers of the Commonwealth and State judges to which I referred in my second-reading speech on the Judiciary Bill (No. 2) 1960 which dealt with the salaries of High Court judges. In the industrial sphere, the disparity since 1955, when the present Commonwealth salaries were fixed, is obvious from the table which, with the concurrence of honorable members, I shall incorporate in “ Hansard “ at this point. It is as follows: -
The allowance payable to the members of the New South Wales Industrial Commission is in the same case, in relation to taxability, as are the allowances payable to the judges of the Supreme Court, whereas the whole of the salary of Commonwealth judges is taxable. It will be seen, therefore, that all members of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales are now better paid than is any member of the Commonwealth Industrial Court or the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
As I mentioned in my second-reading speech on the Judiciary Bill (No. 2), the Government’s view is that judicial salaries should not be altered with great frequency, but on the contrary should be fixed so as to provide a just remuneration over a substantial period, making it possible to disregard changes in the meantime in other salary levels. In particular, in the Government’s view, there can be no question, in salaries of this kind, of mere adjustment by arithmetical formulae in response to movements in industrial wages or prices.
It is the Government’s view that the salaries of the judges of the superior courts created by the Parliament should not be less than those fixed for the Presidential Members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I have already mentioned the considerations that make necessary an increase in the salaries of the Presidential Members. Several judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court at present also hold appointments in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and similar assignments of judges from one Commonwealth court to another may be found to be convenient in future. These considerations make a measure of uniformity desirable as between the various Commonwealth tribunals on the mainland.
Clause 2 of the bril, for the reasons I gave in explaining the Judiciary Bill (No. 2), provides that the new salaries will take effect from 1st October last.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 3346), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. Speaker, this bill provides for a loan of 30,000,000 dollars to be raised in the United States of America by the Australian Government on behalf of Qantas Empire Airways Limited. The proceeds of the loan are to be used to purchase three new Boeing 707-1 3 8B aircraft and to make certain structural modifications to the existing Qantas fleet of seven Boeing 707-138 machines. From the second-reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), we may infer that the total cost of this programme will be 39,000,000 dollars, of which Qantas is to provide 9,000,000 dollars from its own resources. Repayment is to take place over a period of seven years, commencing in March, 1962. The loan is to be provided mainly from the resources of the ExportImport Bank, which is an American government institution. That bank will provide 25,500,000 dollars and the remainder, 4,500,000 dollars, is to be provided by the Boeing organization. The rate of interest on the transaction is to be 5% per cent.
The Opposition does not intend to oppose the measure, but it wants to use this opportunity to criticize some of the Government’s trade policies. The view taken by the Opposition is that this loan can be regarded as being a development loan. The transaction will virtually be financed from the earnings of Qantas Empire Airways Limited from its overseas services. That is in marked contrast to some of the other transactions that are absorbing dollars. We suggest that, if Australia had had better trade policies, it may have been possible to provide for this sum out of our ordinary earnings on dollar account. Instead of being able to do that, we have to pay interest at the rate of 5i per cent.
The last issue of the “ Treasury Information Bulletin “ indicates that there has been a considerable deterioration of Australia’s trade position on all accounts, but in particular on the dollar account. I direct the attention of the House to the relevant figures for the period from January to August, 1 960, as compared with those for the period from January to August, 1959. For the period from January to August, 1959, Australia’s deficit on dollar account - that is, the visible difference between exports and imports - was £22,000,000. For the period from January to August, 1960, the difference was £96,000,000, the value of imports being £147,000,000 and the value of exports £51,000,000. I suggest that that flows from the Government’s relaxation of import controls.
We are told, of course, that most of the imports which flow into this country are essential goods and that there is very little importing of luxury goods. Although so far it has been thwarted in another place, the Government recently has endeavoured to take a stand in regard to a particular section of our imports - imports for the motor car industry. But it seems to me that the rather optimistic view which is held by the Government about imports and their essentiality is not held by all sections of the Australian community. If I had the time, 1 would quote more fully from a document that was recently circulated to honorable members by the Australian Industries Development Association, which is a body very greatly concerned with Australia’s own production. The document, which is entitled “ Analysis of Imports 1957-58 - Use and Essentiality “, was prepared before the recent removal of import controls. But the view held by this association was that the greater the volume of Australia’s imports was the smaller, relatively speaking, the degree of our factory activity. I suggest that that is a very serious situation indeed, especially when it is realized that Australia still relies to a great extent upon factory employment to absorb the natural increase in our population and the increase that flows from the intake of migrants. We must continue to look to manufacturing industries for the absorption of the majority of those people.
As against that, there has been a certain trend in what is called foreign investment. A large part of our industry is not owned by local people but is financed by foreign investment. We are getting to a stage in this country something like that which has caused alarm in our sister dominion, Canada, lt has been found that large and often very strategic sections of Canada’s economy have been the subject of ownership by American concerns. I should like to quote to the House a passage from a publication issued by the United States Department of Commerce and entitled “ Survey of Current Business “. At page 19 of the October, 1960, issue, this passage appears -
U.S. direct investments are a large element in manufacturing in Canada, accounting for about 40 per cent, of capital outlays in these industries in that country in 1959 and in I960, when both series are adjusted to a comparable basis.
Approximately 40 per cent, of capital outlay in Canada is due to activity emanating from the United States of America. At page 20, this further passage appears -
Australia has been a leading field for U.S. manufacturing investments for many years, with 1960 expenditures for plant and equipment expected to be nearly $60 million, spread over many commodity groups,
The table set out on that page gives some indication of the groups in relation to which this expenditure takes place. Expenditure in the field of mining and smelting in 1959 was 12,000,000 dollars, and in manufacturing industry it was 53,000,000 dollars. Estimated expenditure for 1960 in the field of mining and smelting is 12,000,000 dollars and in the field of manufacturing it is 57,000,000 dollars. To begin with, that is a fairly significant part of the total investment in those fields in Australia. It simply means there will be a continuation of the trend that has been evident for a considerable number of years.
I refer now to the September, 1960, issue of the same publication, which sets out American investment in all countries over a period of several years. In 1950, the total amount of United States investment in Australia was 201,000,000 dollars. By 1957, that figure had risen to 583,000,000 dolars. By 1959, the last year for which statistics have been collated, the total investment by American concerns in Australian industries had reached the large sum of 739,000,000 dollars or something like £350,000,000 Australian in round figures. The significant trend over recent years has been that the major part of this increase has come not from the flow of new capital but from the ploughing back of profits that have been earned from the sale of goods in Australia.
In 1957, the total earnings - the difference between receipts and outgoings - from an investment of 583,000,000 dollars were 81,003,000 dollars, which is a fairly significant figure. In 1958, for a total investment of 658,000,000 dollars, the earning rate was 90,000,000 dollars. In 1959, the total earning from an investment of 739,000,000 dollars were 101,000,000 dollars. The undistributed profits, the amount ploughed back which goes to augment the ownership by Americans of undertakings in Australia, were 47,000,000 dollars in 1957. By 1958, that figure hao increased to 50,000,000 dollars, and in 1959 it reached 60,000,000 dollars. That is a serious situation. It is the kind of situation which, if not grappled with, will make more and more necessary measures such as the one we are now discussing. After all, an aeroplane is a fairly expendable sort of thing. In the long run, it will have to be renewed, but here, instead of relying upon the normal balance of trade - the excess of exports over imports - we are tending to rely on this large inflow of capital.
I have mentioned the United States of America in particular, but a perusal of the recent bulletin of overseas investment for 1958-59 distributed by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics a day or two ago discloses the stark reality not only in connexion with the United States but also all countries. Here again the undistributed income is the significant factor. In 1956-57, undistributed income on account of the United States of America and Canada was £20,600,000 Australian. The figure for 1957-58 was the same, but by 1958-59 it had increased to £31,500,000 Australian. The total for the three years on account of the United States of America and Canada was £72,700,000. Over the same period, the amount of new investment on account of the United States of America and Canada was £7,100,000 for 1956-57, £7,000,000 for 1957-58 and £11,600,000 for 1958-59. In other words, £72,700,000, or nearly three-quarters of the total increase of £100,000,000 in ownership of Australian industries by American and Canadian firms, resulted from undistributed income and only £25,700,000, which means £1 in every £4, can be attributed to new capital inflow. Much confusion arises in connexion with the study of these figures from the fact that in arriving at the balance of payments the undistributed income is added to both sides. This makes the position of the overall accounts appear much better than it actually is. I think it is this failure of the Government to grapple seriously with the situation that has alarmed the people of Canada - I think rightly so - because it is dangerous to have large sections of your industries, especially such important industries as the motor car industry, owned by people outside the country. The Canadians have made extensive inquiries into this particular matter, and I feel that the time is ripe for a similar investigation in this country.
Another significant trend over recent years has been the rise in this country of what are called portfolio investments. By that 1 mean investment by foreign people not in new industries in Australia but in shares in existing and well-established Australian companies. Here again the danger lies in large parts of established Australian industries no longer being owned by us. Much of this type of investment has been occasioned recently by the favorable tax laws in this country. Earlier to-day the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) introduced a measure designed to make a significant change in established practice, and this has been made necessary by the fact that overseas investors have been sheltering under the advantages that our tax structure gives them. I submit that the tax structure of such countries as the United Kingdom has been largely responsible for the flow of capital into Australia. That capital has been coming here because, after coldly calculating the effects of the laws relating to taxation of the individual in both Great Britain and here, investors have decided that the advantage lies with the Australian law and have therefore invested in Australian industries.
That is not a very happy way in which to promote the flow of capital into this country, and if we are not very careful it could lead to all sorts of serious consequences. It tends to encourage the investment of what is sometimes called hot money which would disappear very rapidly if the United Kingdom Government altered its tax laws to deprive the United Kingdom investor of the advantage he now enjoys from the Australian tax structure. The Treasurer of Great Britain could take such steps as would result in consequences that would not be very happy for Australia’s balance of payments position. That is the kind of thing to which the Treasurer should occasionally give a little consideration.
I rather regret, Mr. Speaker, that this matter did not come before the House a couple of hours earlier. If it had, I might have been able to support by figures that I have in my possession though not before me at the moment, my contention that there has been a very significant rise in portfolio investment.
– Perhaps they could be incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– I take these matters a little more seriously than do honorable members opposite. It is rather regrettable that a matter of such significance should have to be debated at this hour of the morning.
– A bill providing for a loan for Qantas is rather a curious vehicle for a speech on trade generally.
– We do not get the opportunity to debate these matters in the proper way.
– I have heard this speech of yours half a dozen times.
– And you may hear it half a dozen more. I hope that it will be made until a remedy has been provided, such as has been provided in at least one other direction recently. I shall continue to make similar speeches as long as I think the circumstances warrant my doing so. I hope that in the future the Parliament will arrange its programme of business a little more appropriately than it is arranged at present, lt is absurd to ask the Parliament to pass fifteen or twenty bills within the space of two or three days. Some of the measures may be trivial, but others have quite a degree of significance. Whatever the peculiar capacities of some members of the Government may be, I am not able to function better at two o’clock in the morning than at two o’clock in the afternoon, having started work early in the morning. I suggest that considerations of of that kind should be given a little more thought than they are at present.
I view with alarm the situation that faces Australia at the moment in regard to its international accounts. The situation would be much worse, of course, if it were not for the capital inflow that is taking place. Equally, because of that capital inflow, the kind of changes to which I have referred have been occurring. I suggest that it is incumbent on us to point to those facts at every chance we get.
– What happens when capital inflow causes dividend outflow?
– It creates the other problem of undistributed profits, to which I have referred, so that although ownership is increasing relatively, it is really our own industrial activity and our own people that are contributing to it.
Order! I think that the honorable member is getting away from the scope of the bill.
– I have used this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to point out that we have been obliged to seek the loan to which the bill relates because our proper international machinery is not functioning as it should. I believe that in the long run a country should pay for its capital imports from current earnings, just as it does for commodities that can be consumed almost as soon as they are bought. We do not oppose this loan, because at least it can be seen that the benefit of the loan will attach to Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which is owned by the Australian Government. The loan is to be for a limited period and has not attendant on it the evil that dividends must be paid to somebody else. Undistributed profits, if they should be made, belong to the Australian people and to nobody else. Those are the reasons for our support of the bill.
I contrast those considerations with the general situation that faces the economy. I suggest that the general economic position is a most alarming one for Australia, particularly when we appreciate that over the last six or seven years British, Canadian and American ownership of industry in Australia has amounted in the aggregate to nearly £1,000,000,000. That ownership represents a fairly significant part of our industrial activity, and it is continuing to increase.
– It is about 10 per cent, of our own capacity.
– Well, 10 per cent, is quite a significant proportion. But I suggest that it is more than 10 per cent, relatively of new investment over the last several years. That is the kind of trend to which the Government should occasionally pay some attention. Instead, all that it seems to worry about is whether the level of our London funds is a little higher or lower at the end of .Tune of one year than it was at the end of June of the previous year. To look at the matter in that way and not to examine the figures systematically is to ignore the real trends in the economy at the moment.
I suggest that we in Australia are now going through the same phase as that which alarmed the people of Canada about four years ago. As usual, the Government has looked too late. Much damage has been done. However, Mr. Speaker, I feel that perhaps I have made my point. I ask the Government to give serious consideration to the kind of problem that I have mentioned, and also to provide a more reasonable opportunity for debate of measures such as this. Often, when the House commences its sittings at the beginning of a sessional period, we fill in time by debating at length matters that are not of much consequence, but at the end of the period we rush legislation through and sometimes ignore matters that are very significant. The bill now before the House is an example of a significant matter in respect of which there has not been a fair opportunity to air the considerations involved m it. As T have said, I shall continue to take whatever opportunities are available to discuss such matters. I repeat that I function better after lunch than after supper.
.The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) digressed a long way from the bill. We had from him a lengthy diatribe, an economic lesson on imports, exports and undistributed income. In fact, although I listened to him for 25 minutes, I do not think I heard the word “ aeroplane” mentioned once. After all, this is a very simple and straightforward measure. It is a bill to authorize the borrowing of 30,000,000 dollars for Qantas Empire Airways Limited so that it may purchase additional aircraft and modify or re-engine the seven Boeing aircraft that it already has.
I cannot see that in debating a measure such as this, there is any call to traverse the whole field of Australia’s export income, its overseas balances, and whether we are like Canada in certain respects. The only thing that we have to look at is whether or not the proposed loan will assist Australia. After all, we already have seven Boeing aircraft operating, and we must decide whether we shall be better off by borrowing money to re-engine them, or by leaving them as they are. The plain fact of the matter is that the loan that Qantas is seeking can be completely serviced; that is to say, the 5£ per cent, can be paid, and the savings that are made, even after it has been paid, will be of the order of £300,000 a year. In other words, it is just common sense to borrow this money to instal more powerful engines which will make the aircraft capable of better performance because, in addition, we shall save money.
Although the time is very late I thought that I would give honorable members who are interested in this subject some background to what increased performance we can expect from these aircraft. First of all, of course, this new engine will increase thrust on take-off from about 13,500 lbs. to 17,000 lbs. The performance will be considerably improved. As honorable members know, I have always queried the purchase of the 707-138. We have the only airlines in the world which bought it, and I have felt that the performance on take-off was not adequate. It had a very long takeoff run of about 10,800 feet. This engine, with its increased thrust on take-off. will reduce that length by about 1,800 feet and make a tremendous difference in the performance.
In addition, other modifications will be made. One of them is that between the fuselage and the inboard motor slots will be fitted which will reduce the landing speed by about ten knots. The aircraft will then be able to land and take off in a shorter distance. There will also not be the noise level that is associated with the present aircraft, because the modified aircraft will have a faster rate of climb and will be able to get away from houses in the vicinity more quickly than the present model does. As an honorable member says, by way of interjection, it will be a better aircraft from every point of view. Since the honorable member would like to have some technical information, I can tell him that the new engine, while enabling the aircraft to cruise at a speed which will be an increase of about 60 knots, will reduce fuel consumption very considerably and therefore extend (he aircraft’s range by about 500 miles.
– Will fares come down, too?
– I cannot see that happening in the foreseeable future unless the honorable member travels economy class. The payload will increase by about 28,000 lbs. of gross take-off weight. In order to show the honorable member for Melbourne Ports the tremendous improvement that will take place in the performance of the aircraft I point out - speaking from memory - that when they are flying from London to New York under conditions of maximum head wind their payload will be increased from 8,000 lbs. to 25,000 lbs. That is a very considerable increase. Undoubtedly, these aircraft will be suitable for our services. They will compete with anything else in the world, and they will remain in the front line, I would say, for some five or six years. To the honorable member for Melbourne Ports I say that this loan which he is worried about can be serviced in Australia. In addition, Qantas will show a saving of about £300,000 per annum, which is a very good reason for borrowing this money. It will not, in effect, increase our debt, which will be paid back out of the sinking fund.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 3347), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill, Mr. Speaker, like the previous one, will ultimately determine the type of aircraft that we buy. However, like the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) I prefer to talk about the things of which I know rather than the things of which I do not know. This bill concerns a loan of 2,000,000 dollars to be obtained on behalf of Trans-Australia Airlines, also at 5) per cent, interest. The loan is to be made by the Chase-Manhattan Bank for the purchase of an additional Electra aircraft for the fleet of Trans-Australia Airlines.
On the terms of the borrowing the Opposition does not intend to oppose this measure, because it is felt that, like the previous one, the loan attaches to a particular developmental project - the extension of Trans-Australia Airlines’ capacity to serve the Australian community. Because the loan is to be made, to a government airline there will be no question of profits going to people outside this country. 1 think that one or two of my colleagues want to say something about the type of aicraft that is involved, because it is felt that this type of airliner was forced on T.A.A., contrary to its own wishes. Just as the last speaker on the previous bill suggested that other planes than Boeings could have been bought, so a lot of people think than planes other than Electras could have been bought. My knowledge of any kind of aeroplane is not very great. I generally recognize one kind when somebody else tells me what it is. But there are distinct doubts in some people’s minds about the performance of the Electra about which some of my colleagues wish to speak. The Opposition offers no objection to the loan, as such, though we want to raise one or two points about the particular plane involved. We want to discuss some of the reasons why it is to be an Electra and not a Caravelle. Some of my colleagues wish to express technical opinions about this aircraft
.- 1 am not at all happy about the request that the House approve the allocation of loan moneys for the purchase of additional Electra aircraft. I am strongly of the opinion that when the first Electras were purchased a very great disservice was done to the Commonwealth of Australia. It is proper that this opinion should be voiced and I propose to give some substantial evidence to show that there are good grounds for apprehension as to the safety of these aircraft.
On 10th November last the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) received from the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr. Townley, answers to a series of questions that he had placed on the notice-paper. The Minister revealed that the Electras purchased by Australia are of the same type as were involved in accidents in the United States and are of a type similar to that for which the Parliament is now asked to approve the allocation of loan moneys. Those aircraft were found to have developed a very serious constructional fault. Referring to the accidents in the United States the Minister said -
They have previously been announced publicly by Lockheed as being caused by structural failures in the power plant area which allowed the power plant, when initiated by gusts or other forms of agitation, to move violently in a circular motion, with the result that the wing finally failed by flutter. In addition, the re-analysis showed a weakness of the aircraft when subjected to some forms of sharp-edged gust which, although it could not have caused the accident, needs remedial action.
Anybody can see that a structural fault of that type was of a very serious character. The Minister continued -
The programme of modification has been mutually agreed by the operators and will commence in December, 1960, the last aircraft being completed in June, 1961. The modification programme is based on each aircraft spending twenty days at the Lockheed plant and on one aircraft per day being released after modification.
Lockheed has agreed to carry out the modification of the aircraft and affected associated spares at its own expense and to obtain F.A.A. approval for it, together with approval for the modified aircraft to return to a speed of 275 knots.
I understand that as a result of the structural fault that had developed the speed of these aircraft in Australia was reduced to a maximum of 225 knots. The Minister continued -
The airlines are required to deliver the aircraft at Burbank in accordance with an agreed schedule. The operators have agreed to waive all future claims against Lockheed arising from this particular design weakness and from any consequences of the accidents which have resulted from it.
The modification will consist of increasing the stiffness of the power plant area and strengthening the wing. As it will involve the extensive use of jigs and tools of consideraable magnitude, it is obviously best for the modifications to be carried out at Burbank rather than here in Australia, and I have therefore agreed to the Lockheed proposals that the air-
Draft return to America.
I believe that there is every likelihood that approval of the modifications and removal of the speed restrictions will be given by the American Federal Aviation Agency by 16th December, but before the restrictions are removed to Australia, I have said that I will require a complete technical justification from Lockheed. With this in mind, I propose to have a technical expert visit Lockheed with one of the first Australian aircraft, to fully evaluate the Lockheed calculations and assessment.
The nature of the accidents in America is such that no chance can be taken of their happening again and the House can be assured no return to the higher cruising speed of 275 knots will be permitted in Australia until I and my department have been completely convinced of the efficacy of the modifications. I should add that I am satisfied the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation has done everything possible to find the cause of the accidents and to design modifications which will make the aircraft completely safe at the higher speeds.”
It is obvious that the fault in these aircraft was discovered after they were delivered to Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. On 10th November last the Minister also answered a series of questions that I had placed on the notice-paper. I want to say frankly that I have no desire to damage T.A.A. or Ansett-A.N.A., but I think that the people of Australia should know the facts.
– You will frighten the people away.
– I do not care. Our first duty is to let the people know the facts and to let them make their own assessment. A terrible mistake was made when these aircraft were purchased instead of Caravelles or some other type of aircraft. My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation was -
Trans-Australia Airlines or any other airlines in which the Government has a financial interest?
The Minister replied as follows: -
That was not an answer to my question. I had asked on whose advice the aircraft were purchased and I was told that the applications were approved by the Government after exhaustive advice. The Minister continued -
I then asked the Minister -
The Minister replied as follows: -
That was simply a certificate from the Federal Aviation Agency. Quite obviously the aircraft did not live up to the guarantee because aircraft purchased by organizations in other countries failed to live up to their guarantee. Following that failure it was seen that the aircraft purchased for use in Australia would not live up to their guarantee and consequently Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. reduced the maximum operating speed of the aircraft from 275 knots to 225 knots. The guarantee was worthless. I also asked the Minister -
Obviously ever since the airlines have operated these aircraft at a reduced speed, there has been a substantial economic loss to T.A.A. and, therefore, to the Government. I asked further -
If so, what was the nature of these economic loss guarantees?
This rs where I think the Parliament has been treated with contempt. The Minister said in answer to questions 4 and 5 -
The contract conditions are a matter for the airlines on the one hand and the manufacturer on the other and must be regarded as commercial information which is not normally made public.
The public are paying for these aircraft. The Minister should tell the Parliament what guarantees were given concerning any possible economic losses such as those that followed the reduction of speed. This is a piece of impertinence by the responsible authorities, and the offence has been accentuated by the Minister refusing to tell the Parliament whether guarantees against economic loss were given. It is for this Parliament to say whether it will endorse this sort of thing. I also asked the Minister question No. 6, in these terms -
Will the Minister give the Parliament an assurance that the reduced flying speed now observed by Electras pending structural alterations is a sufficient safeguard against severe storm conditions that could more than cancel out the efficiency of the speed reductions?
The Minister gave a long reply - no doubt it was supplied by his technical officers - which is not very satisfactory. To return to the answers to questions Nos. 4 and 5, the Minister said -
However, I repeat to the House what the Minister for Civil Aviation said in another place on August 17th that the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation has agreed to carry out the modifications of the aircraft and affected associated spares at its own expense and to obtain F.A.A. approval for it . . .
What good is an F.A.A. approval when it proved worthless in relation to an aircraft which met a sad fate in another country? The Minister went on - together with approval for the modified aircraft to return to a speed of 275 knots. The airlines are required to deliver the aircraft at Burbank in accordance with an agreed schedule.
This is the part that the Parliament and the public should know -
The operators have agreed to waive all future claims against Lockheed arising from the particular design weakness covered by the modifications and from any consequences of the accidents which have resulted from it
That is very kind of them. They have waived all claims against Lockheed. This Government or this Parliament will waive all claims against Lockheed because the company has said that it will fix up this fault. What guarantee has this Parliament that the structural alterations will be efficacious? What guarantee have we that the F.A.A. certificate will give the people more safety than they had prior to the modifications? Question No. 8 was -
Is the Government committed to bear any portion of the cost involved in alterations to the Electras?
I also asked: -
When is it expected that structural alterations will be commenced and completed in each case?
The Minister replied -
Each aircraft will take 23 days to process through Lockheed’s factory at Burbank, California. The first Australian aircraft is scheduled to go on to the production line on 19th December this year, and be finished on 18th January, 1961. The last aircraft will be modified commencing 3rd June, 1961.
I think that the Parliament and the people should know this state of affairs. We have no guarantee that when structural alterations have been made the aircraft will be any safer than they were when they carried a guarantee from the Federal Aviation Agency on first delivery. The astonishing thing is that, in consideration of these modifications, the Government has waived any further claim against the company if the modifications do not prove satisfactory. Another astonishing thing is that there is no coverage, no compensation whatever from the company, for the economic loss that has already been suffered. I say again that the Minister had a responsibility to convey to the Parliament the nature of the agreement between Lockheed and the Government regarding the other factor I mentioned, but the Minister said that the contract conditions were a matter for the airlines. Are not the public concerned? The people are paying the piper. The Minister said -
The contract conditions are a matter for the airlines on the one hand and the manufacturers on the other and must be regarded as commercial information which is not normally made public.
What will the Auditor-General say about that when confronted with the losses? What are the electors going to say about this secret and private contract between the two parties?
I direct attention to this matter in the hope that the Minister will see that no further mistakes of this kind are made. I express the hope that the modifications will be successful. I see no justification whatever, just because the company is doing the modifications, to say that no further claims will be made against the company even if further failures in the Electra aircraft occur.
.I hope that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who is at the table, will do us the courtesy of making a short reply at the close of this debate and tell us why the Government decided to go to the United States of America for more aircraft for TransAustralia Airlines. Why did the Government decide to by-pass the Viscount, which undoubtedly is the best aircraft in the world to-day? We are astounded to find that after the experience with the Electras, so ably outlined by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), the Government has persisted in encouraging T.A.A. to purchase these aircraft. What is the advantage of the Electras anyway? We have all flown in them. So far as I can see it is a matter of false economies. The Electra is a 65-passenger aircraft normally, and it can take up to 70 passengers. The Viscount is a 52-passenger aircraft. The airlines say that they can take thirteen more passengers with a full load in the Electras, which also travel faster. The engineers of Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. can tell you of the trouble that they have had in keeping the Electras in the air. I shall be amazed if T.A.A. made this decision off its own bat and decided to get more Electras.
The performance of the Viscounts has been outstanding in Australia and in every other country where they have operated. It would have been cheaper, tidier and more businesslike to have gone to England to get more Viscounts. I do not know how finance could have been arranged, but the
Government could have been an intermediary. If the Government is allpowerful, as it says it is, it could have arranged the necessary finance in England for the purchase of Viscounts on much the same conditions as this purchase. Had it done so, it would have had, without doubt, the blessing of the Opposition. As matters stand, we agree to the bill only because in the overall picture it would be detrimental to T.A.A. if we did anything to upset the agreement that has been signed as a result of negotiations. We are only ratifying something that has been done.
I should like the Treasurer to tell us why T.A.A. had to go to America for Electra aircraft and why the Government came in on such a proposition, knowing full well that these aircraft have not been 100 per cent, satisfactory. I will not be a scaremonger, because from time to time we will be flying in Electra aircraft. As the honorable member for Lalor said, we must face the facts, which undoubtedly favour the Viscount. Members of the Opposition, in our party room, have expressed the view that it is a tragedy that T.A.A. even entered the field with Electra aircraft and that it did not build up its fleet entirely of Viscounts, even though these aircraft carry fewer passengers than the Electra. We approve the measure, but very reluctantly.
, - in reply - I certainly do not want to detain the House, but what has been said by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) calls for at least some comment from me. As Treasurer, I am concerned with the financial aspects of the matter, and I would not claim to have any technical knowledge or experience which would enable me to give satisfactory replies to the queries that have been raised. As to how this type of aircraft came to be chosen, my understanding is that it was the clear choice of the company concerned.
– Did you say “ company “ or “ companies “?
– The honorable member asked about this particular operator, Trans-Australia Airlines.
– We want to know whether it was the clear choice of T.A.A.
– That is my understanding - without any pressure being put on it by the Government. The point I want to make is this: I am concerned in this chamber with the financial aspects. I shall bring what has been said to the notice of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) and probably he will take the opportunity, when this bill reaches another place, to deal with those technical aspects which the honorable gentlemen have raised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was good enough to say that he would seek certain information. I ask him to include in the request the information I sought on the reply that was sent to me.
– I said that I would bring to the Minister’s notice what you both said.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 3.35 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Government has announced on various occasions that consideration is being given to legislation to protect private enterprise from restrictive trade practices. I have said on several occasions that I am not prepared to make pronouncements in regard to particular industries until I am in a position to make some general announcement.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
z asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. No further experiments have been carried out in Australia on this product and there is accordingly no information I can supply to the honorable member apart from that previously given.
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What requests or suggestions were made at the October meeting of the National Health and
Medical Research Council for legislative and administrative action by the (a) Commonwealth, (b) Territories and (c) States?
– The following are the resolutions of the fiftieth session of the National Health and Medical Research Council held in Canberra on 27th and 28th October,1960:-
Resolution 1. - Malaria - That in States where malaria is notifiable the opportunity of notification should be taken to ensure that the patient receives treatment to eradicate infection.
Resolution 2. - Infected Coconut - (1) That in view of the finding of salmonella organisms in a number of samples of desiccated coconut, further importations of this commodity should be prohibited, unless satisfactory evidence is produced that it is manufactured under suitable hygienic conditions and is free from harmful organisms.
That the Commonwealth Department of Health investigate the practical value of ethylene oxide or similar gas for the sterilization of desiccated coconut, at ports of entry into Australia.
Resolution 3. - Advertising of Proprietary Medicines - That the following section of the Broadcasting and Television Act be amended: - “ 100. - (6.) A licensee shall not broadcast or televise an advertisement relating to a medicine unless the text of the proposed advertisement has been approved by the Director-General of Health, or, on appeal to the Minister under this section, by the Minister.” and that an amendment along the following lines be substituted: - “ A licensee shall not broadcast or televise an advertisement relating to -
a substance or appliance for which a therapeutic use is claimed, or
a substance, appliance, method or technique for which cosmetic and/or physiological advantages are claimed, unless the text of the proposed advertisement has been approved by the Director-General of Health, or, on appeal to the Minister under this section, by the Minister.”
Resolution 4.- Gonorrhoea - (1) That the necessity of taking specimens for laboratory examination prior to the commencement of treatment be emphasized to the medical profession and the medical student.
That standard procedure for diagnosis of gonorrhoea in the female should include -
the examination of smears from vagina, urethra and rectum;
culture of materials from these sites, and that State authorities should ensure that adequate facilities for bacteriological diagnosis including culture are readily accessible.
Resolution 5. - Non-specific Urethritis - That the National Health and Medical Research Council extend financial support to intensive research into the causes of infective non-specific urethritis.
Resolution 6. - Notification of Venereal Disease - (I) That all States adopt and use the form of notification in current use in Queensland with substitution of the words “ present condition “ for the words “ same complaint “ in question 9.
That the National Health and Medical Research Council take such steps as it may consider proper for the purpose of securing full collaboration of the armed services with the health authority, in the notification of venereal disease and in the application of Venereal Disease Acts and Regulations.
Resolution 7. - Treatment of Venereal Disease - That laboratories in all States should undertake tests to ascertain the sensitivity of strains of gonococcus to penicillin and that medical practitioners should be asked to report promptly all cases failing to respond to standard penicillin therapy.
Resolution 8. - Tracing of Infective Source of Venereal Disease - That in the State Venereal Diseases Acts, the penalty for discontinuing treatment before discharge should be raised to £100 or imprisonment for six months.
Resolution 9. - Diagnosis for Syphilis - (1) That the standard of diagnosis for early syphilis should demand -
careful clinical examination of the lesion;
dark ground examination of a smear from the lesion;
serological examination comprising a complement fixation test and any other, e.g. flocculation.
That the National Health and Medical Research Council refer to the College of Pathologists for study and report its proposal that serological diagnostic tests should be reported as positive (complete haemolysis or complete flocculation), negative or indeterminate and that the present practice of reporting in degree of positive reaction should be abandoned.
That the National Health and Medical Research Council refer to the College of Pathologists the proposal that that body should consider the need and practicability of establishing a reference laboratory in Australia to undertake on request, special serological examinations including the Treponema Immobilization test.
The Council resolved to refer to the College of Pathologists of Australia, for advice, the Committee recommendations on serological diagnostic tests. The advice of the College will be considered by the Public Health Committee, with a view to preparing recommendations for submission to the next meeting of the Council in May, 1961.
Resolution 10.- Quadruple Antigen - (a) That the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories should make Quadruple Vaccine available as from 1st February, 1961, in quantities sufficient to meet the requirements of infant immunization.
The dosage required for the five doses should be determined by the Epidemiology Committee in collaboration with the Australian Paediatrics Association.
Quadruple Vaccine will be distributed by the same method and under the same conditions as apply to Poliomyelitis Vaccine.
The Council notes that the introduction of Quadruple Antigen will entail considerable change in the current methods of immunizing infants. The Council emphasizes that it will be necessary for the medical profession to be thoroughly informed upon the proposed methods of distribution and the techniques of immunization and the reasons for them, and considers that special measures should be taken to obtain the active co-operation of the profession in achieving a satisfactory level of protection.
In order to prevent tetanus and to minimize the risks attaching to the use of anti-tetanic serum, the Council advocates the active extension of tetanus immunization. For this purpose the Council recommends that States should use the opportunity afforded by the medical profession’s cooperation in the administration of Quadruple Vaccine to enlist its assistance in publicizing the value and extending the use of Tetanus Toxoid and Poliomyelitis Vaccine in the older age groups.
Resolution 11. - Medical Record of Birth - (i) That in those States where there are statutory deficiencies, the Registrar-General should be given statutory power to require any prescribed information on births and deaths, including information which is not required for the purposes of registration and which need not be recorded in the birth and death registers.
That the definition of still-born child and requirements relative to the registration thereof be deleted from appropriate Acts.
That birth be defined as follows in Births, Deaths and Marriages Acts: “ Birth “ and “ Birth of a child “ means, for the purposes of registration and reporting of particulars, the expulsion or extraction from its mother of a foetus of 20 weeks gestation or over.
That the period within which a birth is required to be registered be reduced from 60 to 30 days.
That medical practitioners be required to furnish a report of every birth as in (iii) above where the foetus is born dead, or the child does not survive 28 days.
That key definitions of 20 weeks gestation and the determination of a live birth be referred to the Medical Statistics Committee and the Committee of the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
That the Medical Statistics Committee with suitable co-opted members compile the details of the report required from medical practitioners as in (v) and all States adopt this report.
Resolution 12. - Medical Research in Australia - (1) That a full time Executive Officer be appointed. The Executive Officer should be a person of high academic qualifications and experience in medical research.
The status of the Executive Officer should be such that he will have access through the Chairman of the Council to the responsible Minister on matters concerned with medical research.
Resolution 13. - Antepartum Haemorrhage. - The Council resolved that with the adoption of the 20th week of gestation as the point after which a medical record of birth will be required, Antepartum Haemorrhage shall be defined as follows: “Haemorrhage occurring after the twentieth week of gestation, from the first day of the last menstrual period “.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 December 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601206_reps_23_hor29/>.