23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr; SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m.. and read prayers.
Mr. CALWELL presented a petition from certain electors of Victoria praying that the House will take immediate steps to implement measures for -
Petition received and read.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question without notice before his departure overseas. In view of his claim that the Government’s failure to increase child endowment once in the past twelve years is justified because the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission fixes the basic wage on the ability of industry to pay, I ask whether it is not true that in 1960 the commission granted no increase in the basic wage at all; that in 1961 an increase of 12s. was made to meet increased living costs only; and that, in any case, the wage fixed by the commission is based on the needs of a man, his wife and one child only. If all this be true why, then, does the Government continue to refuse to- increase child endowmentpayments to the 1,500,000 Australian mothers who are entitled to receive them?
– The Leader of the Opposition has employed his own words to give a shorthand account of the reply that I made to a question addressed to me yesterday. Having done so, the honorable gentleman went on with an argument which, I confess, I could not follow very clearly. He seems to accept the proposition, which I thought was now fairly widely established, that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in examining applications for increases in the basic wage, attempts to assess the highest wage which, in its judgment, is within the capacity of the economy to pay. It seems to me, on the face of things, inconsistent with that position to suggest that, industry having been charged with the obligation to pay the highest wage that is within its capacity to pay, in the judgment of an independent tribunal of this sort, we should then require industry to carry some heavier burden in the form of increased taxation. I suggested yesterday to the honorable member for Wills that, if a more constructive approach to this problem of family endowment were to be made, a necessary fundamental step seemed to me to be some reconsideration of the basis on which the trade union movement will seek increased wage loadings in the future.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Health a question without notice. A serious epidemic of measles is reported to have broken out among the native people in the primitive parts of” the Warburton Ranges. Is the epidemic of a common variety of measles or of a more virulent type? If more virulent, what measures are being taken to combat the spread of this disease to more congested civilized areas, as well as to assist the native population among which, I understand, there has been a number of deaths?
– I understand that there has been an outbreak of measles in. the part of Western Australia mentioned by the honorable member. I do not know whether or not the measles are of a more virulent type than usual, but the fact is that native populations are usually far more severely affected by this disease than are white populations. As the honorable gentleman will realize, this is a problem within the competence of the State authorities. But if they require any assistance from the Commonwealth Department of Health, we shall be glad to give it.
– I wish to address a question to the Prime Minister. Two years ago, the right honorable gentleman agreed with the Queensland Premier that Queensland would pay to the Commonwealth interest on the loan for the Mount Isa railway at the rate from time to time determined by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for new loans of not less than twenty years’ currency. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Since the world bank rate of interest is now 6 per cent., will Queensland still be obliged to pay this rate, or will the State Government be permitted to pay the lower rate required of Western Australia under arrangements made within the last month, or the still lower rate required of New South Wales and Victoria under the arrangements made three years ago for the railway from Albury to Melbourne?
– The honorable member will be gratified to know that, the better part of two years ago, at the request of the Queensland Government, we agreed not to apply the ruling rate fixed by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and that we fixed a rate of interest in complete agreement with the Queensland Government. I am sorry that the honorable member has not been able to hear of that during the last two years.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of the humane attitude adopted by the Australian Wheat Board on behalf of the Australian wheatgrowers in the sale of £27,000,000 worth of wheat to China to assist the Chinese in time of famine, and the inability of the Chinese Government to pay cash, can the right honorable gentleman affirm whether the recent report of an interest-free loan of some £8,000,000 by the Chinese to Ghana is correct? If the report is correct, how best can the people of Ghana be told that, in fact, the Australian wheat-growers are making possible this interest-free loan by selling wheat to China on credit?
- Mr. Speaker, I made some inquiry about this matter. An agreement on economic and technical cooperation between Ghana and continental China, resulting from Dr. Nkrumah’s visit to China, provided for a non-interest bearing loan to Ghana of £7,000,000 Ghanaian, which is equivalent to £8,250,000 Australian, to be advanced between 1962 and 1967 - that is, over a period of five years - and repaid within ten years from 1971. So it is not a very vast transaction, and it is certainly spread over a very long time. It is a restrictive loan and, indeed, it is in reality an agreement for an extended credit under which Peking, according to its capability, will supply technical assistance and certain goods to Ghana. It is spread over a very long time stretching up to ten years from July, 1971, and I think that the honorable member may be assured that nobody could seriously say that this is being financed by the Australian wheat-grower.
– I should like to know from the Minister for Social Services: Is there a provision in or under the social services legislation respecting unemployment benefit which insists that unemployed persons, in addition to being registered for employment, shall produce written evidence from employers that they have made efforts on their own part to obtain employment? I have a constituent with a wife and family who has been denied unemployment benefit on grounds connected with this, although he is without any sustenance. I appeal to the Minister for help in this case. In view of the fact that there are no employment vacancies registered at the Commonwealth Employment Office where this person is registered for employment, will the Minister take action to see that relief is immediately given so as to assist this family, which is facing starvation?
– In reply to the honorable member for Banks I remind him that unemployment benefit is paid to those who qualify for it after the application of what is called a “work test”. This test is applied by the Department of Labour and National Service and provides that a person must be ready and willing to engage in employment and do what is possible to get employment appropriate to the circumstances. The Department of Labour and National Service having applied the work test, and the applicant having qualified for unemployment benefit, the benefit is paid by the Department of Social Services - and it is paid willingly.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. From time to time the Minister informs the House of the total cost of increasing age, invalid and widow’s pensions by each ls. a week, and the cost of increasing child endowment by each 5s. a week. Are the estimates which are given sufficiently stable for the purposes of making reasonably accurate calculations, or is the Minister in a position to indicate any variation in these estimates likely to be of value in calculating the cost of the increases?
– I will be happy, Mr. Speaker, to answer the question addressed to me by the honorable member, but it can be answered only with certain reservations. The cost to the Treasury of increasing age, invalid and widow’s pensions by ls. a week would, at the moment, be £1,900,000 in a full financial year. The cost of increasing child endowment by 5s. a week would be £43,500,000 a year. These estimates are reasonably accurate to-day. They were probably more accurate yesterday; they will be entirely inaccurate next week. That is because the number of people - men, women and children - who qualify for social services is increasing rapidly. The number of children has increased to 3,456,000 and the number of people qualified for age, invalid and widow’s pensions is increasing rapidly from year to year. So, whatever estimates are given can be given only for the appropriate day.
– -My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Ser vice. Does the Minister agree with the statement made in this House last Thursday night by the honorable member for Macarthur that there will be no unemployed in Australia within the next two months?
– The honorable member for Macarthur is well known in this House for the responsibility with which he expresses his opinions. If the honorable member for Hunter wants to challenge the statement of the honorable member for Macarthur, I suggest the time for him to do so is during the adjournment debate. It is not for me on a question without notice to debate the opinion of any member of this House.
– I ask the Treasurer: Why is it not possible for Australia to continue to finance the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project out of its own resources? Why is it necessary to approach the world bank for a loan to complete the project? What worsening of the situation has occurred to destroy our previous proud record of self-financing of the project and to place it for the first time under the obligation of overseas loans and overseas interest?
– I should first, I believe, state the position correctly. No loan has been secured for this project. We have reached the stage where a mission from the International Bank is examining whether this would be an appropriate project on which a loan could be made. The amount and terms are for subsequent negotiation if a favorable answer is secured on the first aspect.
The honorable gentleman asks what worsening of our position has occurred. I am glad to say that the Australian position overall is very sound. Australians have proved in the post-war years that they rank amongst the highest savers in the world, as a community. We save a very big proportion of our national income and invest it in the development of this country; but as a people, we have enormous programmes of development. We have given examples in this House in recent weeks. Over the years ahead Australia will be required to carry by way of loan and on its Budget, very substantial burdens if these developmental projects are to be carried to fruition, aswe would all wish. I think I am correct in saying that over the past ten years, more than £2,000,000,000 has been carried on the revenue budgets of this Parliament over and above the amounts which could be raised by way of loan for capital purposes. If, as part of this great programme of national development, we can secure finance additional to that which we can raise internally in this way, it will be a very valuable contribution to the productive development of Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Is it true that the radio-active fall-out created by atmospheric nuclear bomb testings causes a harmful consumption by human beings - particularly Children - of the poisonous substance iknown as strontium 90? Also is it true that the strontium content is heavier in the northern hemisphere than it is in the southern hemisphere? Has the Minister any information on the possible consequences to the health of the Australian people of the recent monstrous acts of the Soviet Union in resuming these tests?
– Mr. Speaker, strontium 90, or radio-active strontium, is a harmful substance if imbibed in sufficient amounts. It is a product of all known types of nuclear explosions, and the danger is in proportion to the amount of strontium that is liberated by an explosion. The honorable member asked me whether the strontium content was heavier in the northern hemisphere. For meteorological reasons, the fall-out tends to circulate in the air in greater concentration in the northern hemisphere if the explosions take place there, than it does in the southern hemisphere. It is too early for us to have any information about the results of the explosions that have taken place in the past few days; but there is an extensive monitoring service operating throughout Australia by which samples of fall-out are taken. The results are processed by the Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory, which is a section of the Department of Health. That process is a continuous one, so we are kept constantly informed about the quantity of radio-active fall-out and the amount of it that is present in the Australian atmosphere and in Australia.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Have the financial advisers of the Government, or have members of the Government, evidence that United Kingdom investment in Australia will diminish as a result of the special measures of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer restricting British investment abroad, or is there any reason to doubt that overseas investment in Australia will continue to increase in the next few years at the same rate as it has done in the past couple of years? What action, if any, does the Government intend to take to counter the effects of the curb on United Kingdom overseas investment?
– The honorable gentleman, in the latter portion of his question, asks generally whether there is reason to believe that there will be some decline in overseas investment in Australia. There has been no evidence so far of any such decline, and we would believe that the stability of Australia and its growth at present would continue to attract investment, not only from the United Kingdom but to a growing degree also from other countries which until comparatively recent times were not substantial investors in Australia. So far as United Kingdom investment in Australia is concerned, developments arising from the entry of that country into the Common Market, if that were to take place, could have some bearing on the position. It may be that the most recent measures that have been taken there will also have some bearing. In this regard the position is not yet entirely clear, and I am looking forward to pursuing the matter further with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, at the forthcoming meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers in Ghana.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. In view of the fact that heart disease is taking a very large toll of ex-servicemen, will the Minister say whether many deaths from this disease are being accepted as due to war service? Further, could he inform the House whether many ex-servicemen are receiving treatment for heart conditions?
– 1 can give the honorable member very little information on this subject. My department has no information to suggest that heart disease is taking a heavier toll of ex-servicemen than of others; nor, indeed, has it evidence to rebut his suggestion. I could give the honorable member figures showing the number of exservicemen suffering from heart disease due to war service, but unless those figures could be related, on a proper statistical basis, to the figures for other groups in the community, no accurate inference could be drawn from them. The honorable member may be interested to know that a statistical survey of this matter was undertaken a couple of years ago in the Repatriation Department, and that it is still in progress. The end of it is not yet in sight, so I cannot even guess at the conclusions that may be drawn from it.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that in a letter dated 25th August, 1961, signed by the Treasurer and requesting holders of maturing Commonwealth stocks and bonds to convert into the current Commonwealth loan, it is stated that investments in the new loan can never decrease in value, and that these securities represent a safe investment and carry the Commonwealth’s unconditional guarantee? Does this mean that the Commonwealth undertakes at the time of repayment to make good any loss which otherwise the lender would suffer as a result of a decrease, caused by inflation, in the actual value of the investment, or does the guarantee refer only to repayment-
– Order! I think the honorable member is now giving information. From his long experience I am sure he knows the correct procedure.
– I am asking a question.
– Order! The honorable gentleman is making a comment in addition to asking a question. I ask him to direct his question to the Treasurer without comment.
– I am just concluding it. Does the guarantee refer only to repayment of the amount of money lent, regardless of the extent by which it has depreciated in value in the meantime? If the latter is the case, is it not a fact that the Treasurer’s letter is completely misleading and dishonest?
– It is, of course, not a fact that the letter is either misleading or dishonest. Its significance is well understood by people who are likely to invest in the Commonwealth loan. It means that the loan will be repaid in full on the due date, that it will carry interest which will be payable on the due dates, and that it is guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government. There have been fluctuations over the years in the value of money. Sometimes, as a result of inflationary processes, the purchasing power of a given amount of money has declined. At other times, when money values have appreciated, the purchasing power has increased.
Many investors who have been buying Commonwealth securities in recent months will have found that they have made a profit on their purchases as the value of the bonds has improved. Commonwealth bonds represent a safe, secure, readily negotiable investment for many people. The bonds have their own special attraction. Of course, they also carry a special tax rebate advantage which, in terms of return, makes them of greater value than the coupon rate might suggest.
The last loan was heavily supported to the point of over-subscription. In view of the conditions existing in Australia at present, and the confidence that people have in the future stability of our economy, 1 am sure that there will be very strong support for the current loan.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr. Speaker. Has your attention been directed to the fact that whenever action - whether by question, motion or by speech - which is inimical to the interest of Soviet Russia or the Australian Communist Party is initiated by honorable members on this side of the chamber, certain members of the Opposition endeavour, by interjection, cat-calls and in other ways, to belittle such action and to divert attention from it? Do the Standing Orders permit you to take action to repress this obviously concerted pro-Communist action by certain Opposition members?
– Order! I shall consider the latter part of the honorable member’s question. I am obliged to ask honorable members to observe the Standing Orders and, if I do not receive co-operation from them, I then may enforce the Standing Orders. I ask the honorable member not to hold me responsible for the various utterances that are made in the House.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. What is the estimated cost of plant, equipment and material involved in that section of the Snowy Mountains projects for which the Government proposes to raise a loan from the International Bank? How much of the cost involved relates to plant, equipment and material of Australian origin and how much to plant, equipment and material of foreign origin?
– These matters are currently the subject of debate and I am not in a position at this stage to supply the precise details required by the honorable gentleman. Of course, if the Government reaches the point at which loan terms are. being negotiated and conditions are being fixed, any such proposed loan would have to receive parliamentary sanction. Honorable gentlemen on all sides of the House then will have full opportunity to discuss the matter and to give the judgment of the Parliament on the transaction.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to the report of a committee which was appointed by the New South Wales Government recommending that a third university be established in Sydney, and stating that a medical school would not be required? In view of this, and of the great shortage of agricultural scientists, if the Commonwealth were approached for financial assistance would the right honorable gentleman ask that prior consideration be given to siting the proposed university in a country area, preferably in southern New South Wales?
– All I know about this report is what I read in a newspaper. I think I will wait until I see the report, if the Premier of New South Wales cares to forward it to me. The honorable member may be quite certain that there will be no hasty decisions on the matters which follow- (Opposition members interjecting) -
– I venture to say that 1 have made the quickest decisions in the history of Australia on university problems. Therefore, if you will allow me, Mr. Speaker, I will continue to make my answer. If this report is sent to us we no doubt will consult with those who advise us on these matters and the aspect referred to by the honorable member will certainly be taken into account.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Since the Government’s deflationary policies of the last year have controlled imports to a much greater and quicker extent than the right honorable gentleman expected when he gave his statement of intentions to the International Monetary Fund last April, does his cancellation of the stand-by arrangements with the fund mean that Australia is now released from the undertakings to pursue deflationary policies until the end of next year and that he will now be able to direct banks to reduce their interest rates to the percentage obtaining before last November?
– In the first instance, the Government indicated much earlier in the year that there would be, as the result of its policies, some downward movement in the level of imports. That downward movement occurred in the months in which it was expected and has persisted since that point of time. I have made it clear at all stages that there was no commitment, so far as we were concerned, which was in any way inconsistent with the course of action which we had deemed to be necessary for the economic health of this country. We did put in train action to restrain excesses which had developed in the economy. That action, as I believe most observers will now agree, has been notably successful and we can now go forward steadily to promote the progress and prosperity of this country.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Hunter. Has the Minister received a report from his officers that the secretary of the Clothing Manufacturers Association claims that orders are now pouring in and that hundreds of workers are now needed? Is it true that factories will have to work overtime, at heavy penalty rates, to meet the rush of orders? Also, is it true that skilled machinists are scarce and that retailers will be lucky to get their full quotas before Christmas? Is this failure to place orders at the usual time due to Labour’s disgraceful calamity campaign to cause fear and lack of confidence?
– I have heard a report that Mr. Upjohn, of the Clothing Manufacturers Association, had stated that the industry now requires large numbers of employees, including technical employees. I am very glad that the honorable gentleman has brought that matter to the attention of the House. 1 understand that Mr. Upjohn also said that unless the retailers get in with their orders now the manufacturers will not be able to fulfil the orders in time for the Christmas sales. I make no comment on that report, other than to say that this, again, is a further piece of evidence that the action taken by the Government since November, and the more recent action taken by it, are strengthening the employment situation in this country. All the evidence points to the fact that what has been said by the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and myself, that there will be a steady improvement in the employment situation-
– Order! I ask the Minister to resume his seat. Honorable members are continuing to interject. I ask them to cease. Unless honorable members - I refer in particular to those on the front bench - comply with the Standing Orders and set a proper standard for others, I shall have to deal with them.
– I am sorry to have to repeat myself slightly. The information given by the honorable member is just one more piece of evidence to substantiate the statement by the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and myself that we can now look forward to a steady improvement in the employment situation throughout Australia.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has had an opportunity to examine the circumstances associated with the present Mount Isa industrial unrest. Has he seen any evidence which would indicate the existence of a genuine industrial grievance, or, alternatively, is the unrest part and parcel of a pattern of political and economic unrest designed to further an ideology that finds little that is compatible in this country?
– As I said in the House last week in answer to a question asked by my friend, the honorable member for McPherson, I have kept in touch with the development of the industrial dispute at Mount Isa. I regret to say that go-slow and stop-work tactics have been adopted with the result that some observers have come to the conclusion that output there will be reduced by about 50 per cent, with consequent great loss of income and probably unnecessary unemployment in the northern parts of this country.
In answer to the second part of the honorable member’s question, I think there are strong, but not conclusive, indications to suggest that there are political as well as industrial motives involved in this dispute. It would be regrettable if the sensible trade unions of this country became too closely identified with those elements which are bent on disruption rather than ensuring full employment and increasing output in the northern parts of this country.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether he has studied the report of the Auditor-General relating to hotel and hostel leases granted by the Commonwealth to private interests. Is the Hotel Canberra leased by the Commonwealth to a company representing Toohey’s brewery? Have Commonwealth outgoings in repairs, maintenance, interest and depreciation exceeded by more than £14,000 the amount of £5,804 received by the Commonwealth from the brewery company as rent? Is there any reason why the taxpayers of Australia should subsidize Toohey’s brewery to the extent of £14,000 a year to run an hotel in Canberra? Does the Government propose to cancel the present lease and ask Toohey’s brewery to pay increased rental, or does it take such action only against individual citizens who are tenants of homes?
– 1 am not aware of the precise figures relating to the lease to which the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has referred, but I do know that the brewery company he mentions does enjoy a very favorable lease indeed which involves the Commonwealth in a loss. That lease was entered into by the previous Labour government and represents a contractual obligation on this Government which we have been unable to break.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he is able to say when a decision will be made regarding the situation of the powerful new radio transmitter which is to be built to overcome difficulties of reception in various parts of the Burnett area.
– I am not in a position, yet, to inform the honorable member for Wide Bay as to the location of the new station to serve the Burnett and Monto areas. I can tell him that investigations are proceeding to ensure that the site chosen will give the best possible coverage.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the noticepaper.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. As the Treasurer is due to depart overseas and will be absent for some time, can you have question time extended? I have a few more questions to ask him.
– That is not a point of order.
– For the information of honorable members, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Australian Universities Commission - Committee on University Salaries - Report.
I have had one or two questions about this report. The State Premiers have received copies of the report for their consideration and I have informed them that the Commonwealth Government, for its part, is prepared to accept the recommendations.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Fifty-fourth Report - Form of the Estimates: Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure.
Members will recall that the Estimates foi 1961-62 have been presented in an amended form following the recommendation in the forty-ninth report of the committee that the Miscellaneous Services section of the Estimates should be omitted. These details now appear separately under the departmental votes. In continuation of the committee’s inquiries into the general question of the form of the Estimates, an investigation was made into the section containing Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and Other Services Involving Capital Expenditure - commonly known as the Works and Services section of the Estimates. The items in the Works and Services section comprise the schedule to the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bills which, according to the information furnished to the committee, may be amended by the Senate.
In accordance with section 53 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act the Senate cannot amend, but can request an amendment to, the ordinary Appropriation Bills the schedules of which comprise the items appearing in the other sections of the Estimates. Therefore the transfer of items out of the Works and Services section would have the effect of reducing the number of proposed expenditures which are subject to amendment by the Senate. The general question of what items should appear in each section of the Estimates involves an interpretation of section 53 of the Constitution. The committee was given a number of opinions on this matter which centres on the words “ proposed laws appropriating revenues or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government “. As the reference is to proposed laws, the matter is one for determination by the two Houses of this Parliament alone. This fifty-fourth report endeavours to place clearly and concisely before the Parliament the relevant facts concerning an interesting and important parliamentary procedure for dealing with appropriation measures.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 5th September (vide page 852).
The consideration of the votes in groups of departments which have a natural association with one another has met the convenience of the committee in past years.
– There being no objection, the Treasurer’s suggestion will be followed.
Remainder of proposed vote of £1,322,000.
.- Mr. Chairman, any statement which suggests that an efficient and effective system of democratic government demands a well informed, critical and active Opposition would meet with the approval of most sections of the community. It would also be conceded that the form which our system takes should allow for this to be the case. A democratic form of government, to most people, means the right to practise the four freedoms, the operation of the adult franchise with each vote having equal value, and free and secret elections at regular intervals, with the government for the time being consisting of the party or parties receiving the majority support.
Australians certainly enjoy, to differing degrees, all of these. As our Federal Par”liament consists of a Government and an Opposition it should follow that each is provided with similar privileges and facilities on behalf of the people whom they represent.
However, the system adopted in Australia gives to the Government, through its Ministers, far greater facilities and privileges for informing itself and its members than is given to the Opposition. A party or parties elected to government immediately have at their disposal a neutral and efficient public service. Each Minister has a department. The department is under the control of a departmental head and consists of various sections to deal with such matters as policy, research, and administration. Each officer in the department owes loyalty to the departmental head and he, in turn, owes loyalty to his Minister.
Each Minister, therefore, has under his direct control a complete organization - an organization which can analyse, evaluate and appraise trends in the particular field covered by its activities. Every policy decision is based on submissions prepared after thorough research. Local and overseas statistics are dissected and examined. The Minister’s every wish, suggestion, or query is answered by his departmental officers. The department has at its disposal the most up-to-date information available. All of this gives the Government, through its Ministers, a tremendous advantage over the Opposition - an advantage so great as to be unfair. After all, the Opposition party or parties in any Federal Parliament would represent between 40 per cent. and 50 per cent. of the people. Yet, the only special staff which is provided for the Opposition is restricted to the Leader and Deputy Leader in the House and in the Senate. This staff is small and is expected to perform the same duties as the staff, not only of one department, but of the entire Commonwealth Public Service.
It will undoubtedly be said that each member of Parliament should be capable of doing his own research and preparing material for his speeches. This could be the case if members of Parliament were allowed to devote sufficient time to this aspect of their duties. However, it must be admitted that very few members would survive many elections if they devoted the correct pro- portion of their time to research, study and preparation. The duties of members - and this has been recognized by the informed section of the community - demand that they devote the greater proportion of their time to public relations. There are innumer able meetings of political, charitable and service organizations to address, constituents to advise and assist, and social functions to attend. Every member realizes that neglect of these matters would mean a very short term as a representative of the people. Votes are won in the electorate, not in this chamber.
A survey of a cross-section of members of this chamber shows that between 50 per cent. and 80 per cent. of their time is devoted to electoral or public relations activities. This leaves very little time for the vastly more important activities of research, analysis of statistics, study of departmental reports and preparation of speeches for delivery in this place. Ministers, certainly, are called on to perform the same electoral and public relations activities as is the ordinary member, but they possess the distinct advantage of having a departmental and a personal staff to do the research which is necessary to keep them informed of the latest developments in their specialized fields. The ordinary member on the other hand, has to rely on his own resources, and, at the same time, is expected to have a thorough knowledge of all government policies and functions.
Opposition members seldom know of the introduction of bills amending or introducing legislation prior to the bills being placed before us in this chamber. The details of such bills are never the property of the Opposition until a bill has been presented in this place. The debate on bills is rarely sufficiently delayed to allow an Opposition member to undertake proper research. The result is that the Opposition finds great difficulty in being as well informed on pending legislation as is the Government. This, in my view, creates a very serious fault in the operation of our democratic system. After all, an opposition in this Parliament represents almost half the people of Australia, and those people have every right to expect that their representatives shall have research facilities and assistance similar to those of members who support a government. This fault needs to be rectified if our democratic way of life is to keep pace with the other ideologies enunciated in various Darts of the world. We believe in criticism and freedom of speech. Constructive criticism ensures the proper working of our democratic system. but constructive criticism cannot be voiced unless the Opposition is well informed.
What, then, is the solution to our problem? First of all, we need to decide what are the functions of the Opposition. These, I suggest, are - (1) to offer an alternative government; (2) to analyse and criticize government policy; (3) to prevent the increase of government by the Executive; (4) to safeguard the rights of the people; and (5) to be well informed, virile and active. With these points in mind, Mr. Chairman, I suggest the provision of a research and reference bureau for the Opposition. This bureau would be under the direct control of the Leader of the Opposition, but would remain an integral part of the Public Service. It would consist of an officer-in-charge and specialized staff seconded from various departments. Each officer would be responsible for analysing, appraising and evaluating reports, statistics, statements and policies of three or four departments and a similar number of statutory bodies or commissions. The bureau would also be expected to undertake research and prepare submissions on ideas and suggestions of Opposition members. It would not take an active part in discussions on Opposition policy and would have no direct access to confidential departmental files or information. However, the departments would be expected to extend full co-operation to the bureau.
The establishment of an organization of this nature would greatly assist the Opposition in performing the functions which I enumerated earlier. This would reduce the Government’s advantage in the field of research and information. It would increase the efficiency of the Opposition and greatly improve its potential as an alternative government. The power of the Executive would be curtailed, as each Minister would be compelled to accept greater responsibility for decisions reached. The Executive would be reluctant to widen its power, as it would be confronted with a critical analysis of all its regulations, activities and functions. An improvement in the research facilities available to the Opposition would mean a better informed and more active Opposition and would afford increased protection of the rights of the people.
A criticism which may be levelled at the suggestion which I have made is that Opposition members would have an advantage over back-bench members on the Government side, as the latter would still be expected to perform their own research. This need not be the case. The factual information available to Ministers could and should be passed on to all members on the Government side. As a matter of fact, the introduction of a research and reference bureau for the Opposition would make it imperative that private members on the Government side be as well informed as are Ministers, because the increased efficiency and knowledge of the Opposition would need to be matched by the Government. It is natural that a government which is not opposed by a well-informed and active opposition soon becomes complacent, disinterested and arrogant. The standard of government declines, problems develop and the progress of the nation is drastically hindered.
I am certain that the establishment of a research and reference bureau for the Opposition would increase the efficiency and standing of the Parliament, strengthen our democratic system and improve the standard of debate. For these reasons, I earnestly request the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) not to dismiss this suggestion out of hand, but, for the sake of Australia, our democratic way of life, the reputation of the Parliament and better government, to arrange for it to be carefully considered.
.- Mr. Chairman, I want to direct the attention of the committee to Division No. 107 - Joint Committee of Public Accounts - in the estimates for the Parliament. The Public Accounts Committee has been in existence now for nearly ten years, and this seems to me to be a convenient time to attempt an appraisal of what it has accomplished. In the committee’s fifty-third report, which was distributed to honorable members quite recently, there are in fact ten reports. They indicate the scope and comprehensiveness of the work of the Public Accounts Committee. I think that honorable members will find a great deal of interest in perusing the various matters that came before the committee and the kind of recommendations which it has made in order to meet the difficulties that it has encountered and to remedy the defects in administration.
The committee was constituted under the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951, but it was not formally appointed until 1952. The reason for the delay was the opposition to the establishment of this committee that was displayed by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He considered that the committee would not be independent and that, therefore, Labour ought not to be associated with it. I think that even he would readily admit now that his apprehensions were entirely ill founded. The Public Accounts Committee has been quite independent in its activities and has shown a degree of cohesion which, I think, is a model for other committees to follow. One has only to read the committee’s reports to realize just how free it has been in conducting its business.
I want to discuss some of the features of the Public Accounts Committee’s activities and look at what has been done over the period of almost ten years during which it has been in existence. As you, Mr. Chairman, know, the committee has ten members. There are seven from this chamber - three from the Liberal Party of Australia, three from the Australian Labour Party and one from the Australian Country Party - and three from the Senate - one senator from each of the three parties that I have mentioned. I do not think that a committee of ten members is too large, and I do not think that it is too small. That number provides adequate representation. There has been no difficulty in getting committee members of the quality needed to discharge the work that this committee has to do.
The powers and functions of the Public Accounts Committee, as you, Mr. Chairman, know, are set out in section 8 of the Public Accounts Committee Act. With the concurrence of the committee, I incorporate the provisions of that section in “ Hansard “. They are as follows: -
The duties of the committee are -
to examine the accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the Commonwealth and each statement and report transmitted to the Houses of the Parliament by the Auditor-General in pursuance of sub-section (1.) of section fifty-three of the Audit Act 1901-1950;
to report toboth Houses of the Parliament, with such comment as it thinks fit, any items or matters in those accounts, statements and reports, or any circumstances connected with them, to which the Committee is of the opinion that the attention of the Parliament should be directed;
to report to both Houses of the Parliament any alteration which the Committee thinks desirable in the form of the public accounts or in the method of keeping them, or in the mode of receipt, control, issue or payment of public moneys; and
to inquire into any question in connexion with the public accounts which is referred to it by either House of the Parliament, and to report to that House upon that question, and include such other duties as are assigned to the Committee by Joint Standing Orders approved by both Houses of the Parliament.
The powers and functions of the committee relate to quite a series of matters, but they all deal with expenditure that has already been made. That, of course, is one of the handicaps that we have in the workings of the committee: It deals with things of the past rather than things of the present. But, as one works with the committee and sees that the problems with which it deals are coming up all the time, one realizes that the fact that the committee deals with things of the past rather than things of the present does not matter very much.
We also had to decide the best way of getting the work done. We had to decide whether the committee’s work would unnecessarily duplicate the work being done by other agencies which this Parliament has created to do the job that ought to be done. In other words, we had to decide what the Parliament wanted so that it would be more able to control the finances of the Government than it is at the present time. The whole of the work of the committee has been directed to enhancing the power of the Parliament to control the finances of the country.
There are three agencies with which the Public Accounts Committee collaborates in its work and which, in effect, the Public Accounts Committee supplements. Those are the Public Service Board, the Audit Office and the Treasury. The Public Service Board was created to manage the public service, and it is concerned with recruitment and organization in the various departments. It is frequently under examination by the
Public Accounts Committee in regard to matters which come before it. The Auditor-General is concerned with seeing that the accounts of the departments are kept honestly and efficiently. He provides a check upon regularity of departmental expenditure. The function of the Public Accounts Committee, in relation to the Auditor-General’s reports, is to ensure that as far as possible the Government gets value for what is spent.
A study of the report is important in that it shows the way in which the Public Accounts Committee has approached the problems that have confronted it. When the committee decides to investigate a department, it asks for statements showing its powers, its functions, the staff it employs, what kind of organization it operates and how much it costs to run the organization. The committee analyses the statements that it receives from a department covering those matters, and subjects the head of the department, or a representative appointed by him to appear before the committee on his behalf, to an oral examination. Honorable members will see from the committee’s fifty-third report that what the committee was concerned with in that particular inquiry was the adverse comments made by the Auditor-General in relation to the activities of a number of departments. The Public Accounts Committee proceeded to examine these comments, and the Auditor-General supplemented the statements he had made in the report. The committee also took evidence from representatives of the departments concerned and as a result reached conclusions about the administrative defects which required rectification, and make recommendations accordingly. Honorable members will find set forth at the end of every ;one of the ten chapters the committee’s conclusions and recommendations regarding the action which the committee felt should be taken if the defects were to be remedied.
I should like to say a few words about the committee’s operational procedure. Evidence is taken on oath. Originally the committee discussed at great length whether evidence should be taken on oath, and it finally decided to follow that procedure. The evidence is recorded and printed, and is circulated to the members. In addition to the record of evidence, great wads of material in the form of statements and exhibits are submitted to the committee. Those documents, the record of evidence, and the exhibits, provide a body of administrative data which would enable any body investigating the Public Service of the Commonwealth to see what the Public Service did and how it worked at this particular time. Any one studying the documents and exhibits submitted to the committee by departments, and examining the evidence taken on oath, can get a picture of the whole organization of the Public Service over a period of years.
I think it can be said legitimately that the Public Accounts Committee, in the ten years it has operated, has won its spurs as an organ calculated to promote good government. I think it has had the confidence of all the Public Service and has won the respect pf the public and the Parliament.
A complaint often made is that the reports of committees such as the Public Accounts Committee are simply put aside and not looked at again. The report submitted today by the chairman of the committee, the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis), shows the kind of thing that the committee has been doing. In this particular case, the committee has been, over a period of about five years, inquiring into the way in which the Estimates and Budget Papers ought to be prepared. Whether or not effect is to be given to the recommendations of the committee lies within the hands of the Parliament itself. The honorable member for Deakin has said, in effect, “ There is the material, and if the Parliament wishes to alter the procedure it is up to the Parliament itself to do so “. I hope that the Parliament will pay attention to that report, which has taken so much effort and so many years to compile.
In order to ensure that the suggestions made by the committee would be heeded, the committee arranged with the Treasury that reports of the committee would be forwarded to the Treasurer, who himself would bring the matters dealt with under the notice of the departments concerned and ask for a report from them as to the action they intended .to take arising from the committee’s suggestions. After replies have been received from the departments the Treasurer prepares a minute which the committee then transmits to the Parliament. Honorable members will find in the last part of the fifty-third report of the Public Accounts Committee an epitome of two of the reports which the committee has made, and the Treasurer’s replies to the committee’s comments and suggestions on what the Treasury has proposed to do in respect of the matters concerned.
The Public Accounts Committee has placed one limitation upon itself. It will not deal with government policy, except indirectly. The committee looks at the results of policy and not at the actual policy.
I commend the committee’s report to honorable members, who, I hope, will find there something that will enable them to improve the working of the parliamentary system.
.- This House of the Parliament operates under a set of standing orders that do not permit the full utilization of the experience and talents of honorable members. Not only do the Standing Orders stultify the endeavours of honorable members to give their best, but the size of the Parliament itself precludes members from taking a full part in debates. Because of limitations on debate members on both sides often feel frustrated. Even after a member has done a lot of research into a matter and would like to take part in a debate he can find that the limitations to which I refer prevent him from doing so. I do not blame the Government for this. The position is quite difficult. The Parliament sits for three days each week and each of the 124 members has something to say about almost every bill. 1 ask the Government to consider an alteration of the Standing Orders which would allow members to give a wider service to the community. I advocate now, as I have advocated for some years, an extension of the system of standing committees. At present, we have two standing committees, one on public works and the other on public accounts, but we do not go beyond that. My suggestion is by no means revolutionary, because other parliaments in Western democracies make a far greater use of the committee system than does the Australian Parliament. The United States of America uses the committee system extensively, but f admit that the constitution of the American
Parliament and the American executive is different from ours.
If we take a parliament that approximates our form of government - I refer, of course, to the British Parliament - we find that the Standing Orders of the House of Commons provide for the appointment of standing committees on bills. Some years ago, the then Clerk Assistant of this House, Mr. Tregear, spent some time at the House of Commons learning the procedure and gaining experience in the methods adopted at the mother of parliaments. He furnished a report on procedure, which was circulated at that time. Part IV. of his report, which contains very valuable information, deals with standing committees on bills. Mr. Tregear made many wise observations which should be considered seriously by this Parliament.
He said that the Standing Orders of the House of Commons provide for the setting up of standing committees on bills. Each committee has a core of twenty members and the Committee of Selection is required to have regard to the composition of the House. In other words, the Government has a majority on the standing committees and that is reasonable. Mr. Tregear reported that it is customary for the appropriate Minister to be appointed as a committee member. Thus, the Minister knows what is taking place when the contemplated legislation is being discussed by the committee. Mr. Tregear added that work for the committees is well established. With the exception of tax bills, consolidated fund bills, appropriation bills and provisional order bills, all public bills are referred to a standing committee for the committee stage, unless the House otherwise orders. Obviously, the House would order otherwise frequently for a variety of reasons; the Government does not always want bills to be referred to a committee. In his conclusion on this subject, Mr. Tregear said -
There is high merit in the Standing Committee System. Tt relieves the House of business, and considerable saving of time in the House can be effected by having a number of Standing Committees considering Bills simultaneously . . . Further, Members have more opportunities to participate in framing legislation . . .
That is the point I make. Members should have a better opportunity to participate in the framing of legislation. A private member, of course, could not make much of a contribution, but no doubt the House of Commons has proved by experience that members do make valuable suggestions. Mr. Tregear continued -
Further, Members have more opportunities to participate in framing legislation, especially those who, by reason of their special qualifications, are appointed additional Members of Standing Committees … At Committee meetings, there is a “ let’s get down to work “ atmosphere without undue hustle or bustle, full consideration being given to every point. The absence of Party feeling makes for speedy business. In fact, argument on some occasions is principally among Members of the same Party.
The comments of Mr. Tregear should be given weighty consideration. He understood the workings of this Parliament thoroughly, and he compared procedure here with the procedure of the House of Commons. In this matter of standing committees, we could certainly learn from the House of Commons. The procedure adopted there gives the ordinary member a chance to do something worth while. Here a member may sit day after day waiting for the opportunity to make perhaps only one speech in a week or a fortnight.
I do not suggest that any highly controversial or contentious matter should be referred to committees. On these matters, political parties have a deliberate and premeditated course to pursue. With such a clear, unambiguous line of divergence, there is no hope of arriving at any agreement on any facet of such problems. On the other hand, numerous matters come before Parliament on which, in many respects, there is no great gulf of disagreement between the Government and the Opposition. At present, it is only on very rare occasions that the Government will accept any Opposition amendment to a bill.
I have been here for twelve years and 1 can recall only three Opposition amendments that have been accepted by the Government in that time. On the other hand, the “ Hansard “ reports of the proceedings of the Victorian Parliament show that frequently the Government, whether a Labour government or a Liberal government, will accept an amendment from the Opposition. There seems to be some unwritten rule in this Parliament that any amendment suggested by an Opposition member must be condemned because it comes from the
Opposition. This attitude acts to the detriment of the Australian people. No government can claim that all the wisdom of the world resides in its ranks; members on the other side of the chamber sometimes have worth while and meritorious suggestions to make, and the adoption of these suggestions would frequently improve a bill. I do not indict this Government any more than the previous Government. All governments in the Federal Parliament for many years have taken the stand that no amendment of any kind coming from the Opposition will be accepted. That attitude is to be deplored. A provision that bills be referred to a standing committee would give members a chance to make some worth while contribution to the framing of legislation.
I first became enamoured of the committee system when 1 was a member of a municipal council. I found that people representing all sections of thought in the community could sit at a committee table and hammer out ideas that would be of benefit to the ratepayers. My views on committees were reinforced when I became a member of the Public Works Committee of this Parliament. This committee produced, and still produces, positive and tangible results. It has a non-party approach in considering the numerous projects that are the responsibility of the Parliament. The Government, of course, rightly has a majority on the committee, but the members discuss the merits of a proposal without regard to political allegiance. I must say that during the time I was a member of the Public Works Committee, no member opposed a suggestion put by any other member simply because it came from a member of the opposite political party. That is not the attitude adopted in this chamber. Any suggestion made here is immediately opposed by a member of the opposite party, but any suggestion made in the Public Works Committee is discussed entirely on its merits. The functioning of this committee has been to the distinct advantage of the Australian people.
During the last war, the Joint Committee on War Expenditure was set up by this Parliament. It consisted of members from both sides of the Parliament and it had the responsibility of examining expenditure before it was incurred. The committee had the right to make suggestions as to whether the expenditure was wise. To-day, the procedure is for the Estimates to be prepared and served up to members in book form. The figures cannot be disputed. At the end of the war, the suggestion was made that the Joint Committee on War Expenditure should continue its activities in peacetime. I understand that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was a member of this wartime committee. Apparently nothing was done by the previous Government or by this Government to continue the activities of the committee. I honestly believe that if a joint committee were set up to discuss the Estimates before they came before honorable members in their present form, a considerable saving to the Australian people would be effected.
I suggest that standing committees would improve the parliamentary machine and give added strength to the democratic system. In this age and generation, when we are being assailed by a totalitarian form of government in the shape of communism, we should do all in our power to strengthen the parliamentary machine as we know it.
When we attend in this chamber we have bills put before us. The Government has already decided that they must go through before any Opposition member makes a point at all. It seems that democracy would be better served if all the people were given a say in the preparation of the bill. The Government has a majority in all the standing committees to which I have referred and obviously it can say whether a suggestion should be adopted or rejected. The committees that I suggest should be set up could consider many matters and make a well-reasoned approach to national problems without the emphasis of any particular political outlook.
Some of the subjects that could be delegated to committees are social services, transport, radio and television, primary production, immigration, national development and housing. There are numerous others, but they are subjects on which there is not such a wide divergence of opinion between the parties, and I believe that some Opposition members could make sensible suggestions on bills dealing with those matters which could be embodied in the legislation. At present, the only chance that an Opposition member has to submit an amendment is in the committee stage, and he has not a ten million to one chance of having it accepted.
If we had committees as the House of Commons does, the Minister in charge of a bill would attend the hearings and the Government would have a majority of the members. The experience in Great Britain is that members of the- Opposition, whatever party they belong to, frequently make very good suggestions before a bill goes to the House.. The committee can make recommendations, but it is for the government to accept or reject them, just as is done in this Parliament in respect of the Public Works Committee. If the government does not wish to accept a recommendation made by the Opposition, it has the right to refuse. All I am suggesting is that these standing committees would function in this respect on the same basis as does the Public Works Committee.
In addition, any decisions of a standing: committee would be made on balanced conclusions arrived at in the atmosphere of the committee room beyond the influence of heat and rancor often experienced in the Parliament. Such a system would lead to a better approach to many national problems. Under our system, a government might bring forward legislation which has many defects. While it might be sound basically in many respects, it could certainly be improved if suggestions from the Opposition were accepted. A government does not accept any suggestions from the Opposition on the floor of this chamber, but I am satisfied that if the legislation was discussed in a committee room before the bill was finally framed much useful information could be imparted by the Opposition to the Government. The Government could realize the sense of the proposition and it could become part and parcel of the bill to be presented to the House.
Other parliaments use the committee system to a far greater extent than we do, and surely we should not be so swollenheaded that we cannot learn from anybody else. Nobody can say with truth that the talent of members of this Parliament is used to the full extent. We sit here day after day or we wait outside because we do not have a chance to speak in the House owing to the limitation of time. The standing committees would meet outside the parliamentary sitting hours as they do in the House of Commons. They sit for certain hours on certain days of the week and meet regularly throughout the parliamentary session.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I remember that last year I followed the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) in speaking on these estimates and, as on that occasion, I have been impressed with the sincerity of the arguments he has put forward. I am sure that he is desirous of seeing the Parliament work in the smoothest and most efficient way that can be devised and that he wants to help it to do so; but I do join issue with him on one or two points he made regarding the use of committees and on amendments and the acceptance of amendments put forward by members of the Opposition.
First, the honorable member made reference to the present Standing Orders of the House which, as he would know, are under review. The review has not been completed yet but as he would also know, the members of the Standing Orders Committee in<clude some honorable members from the Opposition side as Well as members from the Government side. I suggest that the honorable member put forward to the representatives of his party who sit on that Standing Orders Committee any special ideas he has for the better working of the Parliament.
I know very well that the report prepared by a former Clerk of the House, Mr. Tregear, and to which the honorable member referred, has a tremendous amount of very valuable and useful information in it; but I think we should be a little cautious in drawing a comparison between the operations of the House of Commons and the House of Representatives. The House of Commons has well over 600 members and, in fact, can seat only approximately half of those members at any one time, whereas this House has 124 members and we are able to seat every one of them.
That does not mean that I am opposed in any way to the strengthening of the committee system where it can be suitably worked out. There are a number of standins committees which operate very successfully and very efficiently. There are also a great many other committees which the general public outside do not hear about and know nothing of. They function on the Government side as well as on the Opposition side. I know that there are many private members’ committees operating in relation to different subjects and different departments on the Opposition side of the chamber and most of us, if not all of us. on the Government side are members of two or three and more committees dealing with particular subjects in which we are interested.
I would add this point while it is in my mind, and support my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) in his remarks concerning the value of the work of the Public Accounts Committee of which the honorable member himself was a distinguished chairman. The honorable member modestly did not mention that. Knowing him as we do, we realize that he would not give himself any credit for the work that he has done over the years, but those who have read the reports of the Public Accounts Committee and know the work that has been done by him and other members of this Parliament, feel that we owe a debt to him and the present chairman, the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) for the thought, time and work that they have expended in the nation’s interests in watching the public accounts.
Going back to another point put forward by the honorable member for Batman in relation to the use of committees, I cannot help feeling that this argument would have been greatly strengthened had he been able to point to the fact that the Opposition joins with the Government in the Foreign Affairs Committee.
– That is highly contentious, and I excluded such committees.
– The Foreign Affairs Committee was established a number of years ago under Mr. Casey, as he was then, as Minister for External Affairs. It has operated for quite a number of years and during the whole of that time, seats have been kept open for members of the Opposition who would care to sit on that committee. It was established as a joint committee and it is still a joint committee, but unfortunately the Opposition has not seen fit to join it. The result has been that the seats that have been kept open for members of the
Opposition have had to be temporarily occupied by members from the Government side. I hope that in the fullness of time honorable members opposite, in their wisdom, will decide to join the Foreign Affairs Committee and take part in its deliberations.
I agree with the honorable member for Batman that there are some subjects - and I believe foreign affairs should be one of them - in respect of which we should have a great degree of unanimity of thought and approach. If we could be satisfied that honorable members would bring a reasonable unity of approach to their consideration of foreign affairs, then I am sure that the Foreign Affairs Committee would be very greatly strengthened by the appointment to it of honorable members of the Australian Labour Party.
I further agree with the honorable member for Batman that it is a pity there are not more occasions on which we can have discussions on a non-party basis. There are many matters on which we can meet on common ground. An outstanding illustration is in the field of matrimonial law. I remind the committee that within the last year or two we have had two extremely important and comprehensive debates on matrimonial causes legislation, each of which has been conducted on strictly nonparty lines.
I am reminded of another point made by the honorable member for Batman. He claimed that during the years in which he has sat in this chamber only three amendments to proposed legislation, put forward by the Opposition, have been accepted by the Government. While in no way detracting from the honorable member’s integrity of purpose, I challenge the accuracy of his statement. It is perfectly true that many amendments proposed by the Opposition are not accepted by the Government, because they are not politically acceptable. This is understandable, because the whole political philosophy of the Opposition is quite different, in many ways, from that of the Government. I believe, however, that if the records were analysed it would be found that a great many more than three amendments have been accepted by the Government over the period to which the honorable member has referred. In the field of matrimonial law, to which I have just referred, I think the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) accepted a number of amendments suggested by the Opposition.
The Estimates show that a total amount of £1,322,000 has been appropriated for the Parliament for the financial year 1961-62. This is a little less than the actual amount spent last year. I think we must all agree that the cost to the nation of this Parliament is very low. In a speech I made on a previous occasion I gave the result of a check I had made to establish the cost of the Parliament to each individual in the community. The figures are still so nearly accurate that I believe it worth while to repeat them. It costs the tax-paying population just over 5s. a head to maintain this national Parliament. Speaking in terms of total population the cost is about 2s. 6d a head. Nobody could say that Parliament is a costly institution, particularly when one has regard to the tremendous importance of this democratic institution in the life of the country, and when one considers what would be the alternative to the democratic, parliamentary way of government.
It is popular in some quarters, of course, to decry and belittle parliaments, but every one of us in this chamber has been elected under the well-known and well-tried method of the secret ballot. Those who may, perhaps, be tempted to criticize this Parliament as an institution should remember that they are really criticizing the electors who sent us here. The Parliament, of course, has its faults, and I would like to put forward one or two suggestions for improving it. I do not claim that these are by any means the only suggestions that could be made, because parliament as an institution has been evolving for many hundreds of years. The copy of Magna Carta in King’s Hall, a copy which dates back nearly 700 years, is a constant reminder of the antiquity of parliaments and the great traditions and customs that we are fortunate in this country to have inherited from the mother country. I believe that criticism of parliament should at all times be fair, honest and constructive. If criticism of this Parliament meets those requirements then I believe it plays an important and helpful part in the running of the affairs of the country and of the Parliament.
There is, of course, a tremendous responsibility on every one of us who sits here to uphold the parliamentary traditions, and not to do anything to besmirch the good name and prestige of the National Parliament. Sometimes, perhaps, we do not measure up to the required standards, and I think that on an occasion such as this, when we are indulging in a purely non-party debate on the Estimates for the Parliament, it is salutory to remind ourselves of the responsibility that rests on the shoulders of every one of us.
The parliaments and the law courts are the two great bastions protecting the decent, law-abiding citizens of the country against dictatorship, tyranny and the law of the jungle. The parliaments and the law courts stand for the maintenance of the rule of law, and for the protection of the rights, the liberties and the freedom of the ordinary citizen. Long may it be so. There are leftwing, noisy elements in the community continually attacking our parliaments and all they stand for. They would like to see established in their place a supreme economic council along the lines of that which operates in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other Communist countries. But I believe that these elements represent a very small minority, and that not many thinking people in this country, and certainly no loyal people, would agree with their sentiments. I believe, on the contrary, that there is a growing realization by the people of Australia of the functions and responsibilities of this national Parliament. This is borne out by the fact that more and more bus-loads of tourists come here. I am sure we are all delighted to see the galleries occupied by people from various parts of the country, who have come here to see for themselves the way that Parliament works.
During the past year I have personally distributed in the Ryan electorate, which 1 represent, some hundreds of copies of a little booklet which is, no doubt, well known to all honorable members, lt is entitled, “ The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia “. It was published about two years ago under the authority of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It contains one paragraph which struck me with great force, and which gives support to a point which I made earlier about the traditions and customs that we are fortunate to have inherited. These are splendid words and they deserve to be repeated. They appear on page 2, in the foreword written by the President and the Speaker -
Such traditions remind us that democratic rights are more easily lost than won, and that we all have a duty to guard and sustain those precious privileges wrhich have won for the British Parliamentary system the admiration of the world.
I suggest that the Government should consider making a much wider distribution of this booklet. It is in a readable form and is well set out and well illustrated. It tells in concise terms how the Parliament works. I would like to see it distributed much more widely than has been the case in the past. It is on sale at the front door of this Parliament House at ls. a copy, but I think we would be spending wisely if we decided to make a wider distribution of the booklet. I understand that it is to be amended in the not-too-distant future, and that may be a more appropriate time to give some thought to a wider distribution, to include at least certain key persons, such as school teachers and every one else in contact with the youth of the country, from Cape York to Cape Leeuwin.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I was glad to hear the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) voicing such noble sentiments about the institution of Parliament, but I think he, like so many others who are buried in the traditions of the place, should beware that our bastions do not become Bastilles, so that we keep people in rather than keep them out. I noticed too, as he did, that we were visited by the people of Australia, mostly workers with their children, at holiday time. And very pleased we were to see them! It is very refreshing in this rather drear atmosphere to see the smiling faces of children. The long queue of people waiting outside to get into the gallery worries me. Admission is free, of course, but I do not know whether they are getting value for their time.
– There is no queue outside now.
– No, but you watch the galleries fill now. It only needs to be bruited about that I am on my feet and you will be very happy to see what happens to the gallery. We have here a little tendency - sometimes more than a little tendency - to isolate ourselves from the people who own this Parliament and who are our masters. Last night I asked one of my colleagues why so many people come in with no stronger an invitation than their enthusiasm to watch and hear us at work, and he replied that their visits here are on the same basis as visits to the zoo to see the hippopotamus. People go to the zoo to see the hippopotamus to be convinced that there is such an animal, and after that they never go again. That statement may have some basis of truth, but I hope that our visitors will not take it too literally; I hope they will come again.
Because of our limited accommodation visitors sometimes find that they are in thtop gallery. Last night I was very distressed and embarrassed because of an incident that happened to me. A man who has country interests and had been on his farm, although he lives in the city, came to me with his daughter to obtain admission tickets. Naturally, I went to the Speaker’s secretary and obtained two tickets for the Speaker’s Gallery for my guests. When we went to the door there was a fine flurry of excitement. An extraordinary thing had happened. The man was wearing a turtle-neck sweater and the very beautiful girl was wearing slacks so it was explained to me in nervous excited English that I had made a faux pas. Men who wear a jersey and girls who wear slacks are distinctly for upstairs, and women who wear mink reeking of mothballs are distinctly for downstairs. Well, I have been here for eighteen years and I did not know the rule. In fact, I was rather shocked when I learned it. We can take things too far. Bernard Shaw said something to the effect, “ If I take off my shirt my disciples may take off their trousers “.
One can go a little too far in irregularity of dress, but surely to goodness in a hot climate we should not look down on a man in a well-tailored open-neck sports shirt or a girl in slacks - the shape of things we appreciate over the years. Who becomes the sumptuary authority on food, drink and dress in the House? I think we take the matter too far. If a man wearing a turtleneck sweater and a lovely young lady wearing a pair of quite delectable shorts are wafted to the upper regions willy-nilly, I think there is cause for resentment. There is a common mean in all these things and the whole procedure looks rather silly to me.
Although the honorable member for Ryan is almost pathetic in his love of the old associations and our traditions, I would be prepared to go a long way to wipe out some of the fustian about our traditions. The National Parliament is not the Elizabethan Theatre. We should not have stalls and gods. The galleries belong equally to the people and no rule of dress should preclude people from obtaining seats downstairs. If honorable members opposite are democrats they will agree with me on that.
– What do you think about bikinis?
– The Minister, who has a most progressive mind, asks me what I think about bikinis. Well, I think about them constantly.
The curious thing is that if members of the diplomatic corps decided to come here, the gentleman in a loin cloth and his distinguished lady in a bikini, we could do nothing about it because they enjoy diplomatic immunity. We, too, would enjoy that class of diplomatic immunity if it lifted some of the colour of the House to the level that I have suggested.
I do not want to labour this question but surely, as this progressive Parliament moves on, we should not have old-fashioned ideas about these things. If we are having trouble with the textile industry and if 60 per cent, of its operatives are out of work, is it not a good thing that men are wearing welltailored open-neck shirts instead of wrapping themselves up? It is not what one wears that counts. Visitors in the upstairs gallery look down on us. I have seen a few one-man slums among honorable members. We should perhaps look to ourselves if we want to have a sartorial standard, but it seems rather absurd to say to a man that he may not enter if he is not wearing a. tie. Over at the local hotel the level of a man’s social prestige is judged by whether or not he wears a collar. The whole practice seems to be completely outmoded. 1 know a very distinguished gentleman who bustled into a very well-known hotel in Canberra and was thrown out again because he was not wearing a tie; but he obtained admission into, one of the. more human, democratic pubs, and I understand from subsequent conversations with him that he had a much better time there than he. would’ have had. at the other establishment.
I say these things only because, as people are coming to see us, we ought to be a little more democratic about dress. Nothing is laid down in regard to it, as I learned from a reading of the Standing Orders, following my embarrassment with the man and his daughter to- whom I have referred’. I felt rather bad about that incident. However, I found that the standard of dress was decided upon years ago by some snoopy old Speaker of the past - he cannot get me now because he rs either dead or has retired. It is time that this rather old-fashioned practice of sorting the sheep from the goats - the gods upstairs from the peanuts and the others down below - was abolished.
Our accommodation here is limited. It is very nice of the people to come to this place, especially in election year, to look us over and I would like to see them get a fair go. I cannot see that any disqualification is necessary if a chap who has had a good bath puts on a clean shirt, as the worker does, and comes to see how the Parliament works. He pays for it, but still he has to go upstairs. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who is interjecting, always looks the essence of sartorial elegance.
There is another matter which I should like to mention. There is a tendency amongst honorable members to bridle - you all know the old-fashioned word out of Jane Austen’s novels - if some workers come here on deputations. They seem to think that their sanctity is being invaded; but they receive £4,000 a year to compensate for any loss of sanctity and sometimes the boss has to come in to see whether they are doing their job.
– Like the incident in King’s Hall recently?
– Yes, like the King’s Hall incident. I saw nothing wrong with that. But I saw the honorable member scuttling out of King’s Hall like one of the rabbits in his electorate, and making a jolly good job of Johnny Cottontail disappearing in the distance. King’s Hall is the property of the people of this country and if the
Speaker in his. wisdom allows deputations, and. if sometimes deputations, get a little out of hand, it is good for us. The honorable member, would not want to live in isolation. He has a. most distinguished) record ki this. House. He is- the first farmer to plough hisland with’ an auctioneer’s mallet. I never forget that.. We all have some record’ of our own, and the people- out there want to see. us, speak to us, and see what kind of: denizens we are. in this place. Ii hope that they will all come along again.
We must not retreat from the approach of the people. If out-of-work unionists come to this- place we cannot say “ Peace committees.” Corns-.!1 “ and refuse to see them. I have never heard any one say “ Liberals!: “ in such a way as to cause me to take to my cave and refuse to come out. I do not think any distinction should be made against a worker looking for a job, irrespective of his political convictions or philosophies. In the general sense we ought to make this Parliament more of a place where the people who pay the taxes to keep it going can come without inhibitions. I know that they enjoy coming here.
I regret very much that King’s Hall is laden with the most atrocious portraits of past leaders that we have ever had. One of these days - I have been working on it for years through various associations - I hope we can make it a bit more representative of the present. But it is something to look at. I would tell visitors that whilst they can find every aspect of mediaeval grandeur and all the old portraits of dead and gone leaders, whom we respect, on the top floor, if they want to see Australian books and Australian paintings, they will find them down in the cellar. We are so proud of them that we have placed them in the cellar! There are some beautiful collections of Australiana, art collections and etchings worth thousands of pounds down in the cellar.
– What about the paintings in King’s Hall?
– There are one or two in King’s Hall. You will be there in due course, I hope - upside down. In the meantime, the bulk of the collection of Australiana is down in the cellar. I want the people of Australia to realize -that and I want them to rectify it. I want them to demand to see the things that belong to us and the things that make us tick.
That is all I have to say in regard to the Parliament. The last time I spoke on this subject was in relation to the Speaker’s habiliments. I do not know how I get offside with public opinion on these matters but, with all due respect to the Speaker who is not present in the House, and who, thanks to the canniness of the English Parliament, is not aware of anything that goes on in committee, I think that a presiding officer who has half of a sheep over his head and wears a bombazine gown looks like the widow Twankey in a pantomime. Nothing will ever make me think he does not. I pay the greatest respect to his office and to his interpretation of the Standing Orders, even on the occasions upon which he has thrown me out of this House. But as a symbol for me it is simply not right. I know that every one does not share this view. On occasions the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) swoons like a Sinatra fan when he sees the Usher of the Black Rod tapping on the door, like an Arunta, and hears him say, “ You are wanted in another place “. I am often wanted in another place, but 1 do not always turn up. One has to be careful about these things!
A lot of the ceremony is traditional. It is very good, but has had it, if I may use the words of modern-day language. The men who do the work are not any less efficient because they wear wigs and gowns, but 1 think we ought to put them in sack suits and say, “ There you are “. What is wrong with Mr. Speaker wearing a sack suit? Sitting in his chair he could look dignified without wearing an out-of-date wig and gown. In my electorate there are some custom tailors who would do him proud and, indeed, who would probably give him a free suit just for the value of the advertisement. Instead he wears something that was out of date and insanitary in the seventeenth century.
It is the same with the institutions around Parliament. I never could take them, and I am not going to say now they are good. It is said that they belong to tradition. What is the tradition of Parliament? It is the fight you put here for the rights of man, and it does not matter whether you have alpine leather trousers or a bathing suit on, so long as you put it over. But some sentimental people think you have to be wrapped up like a mummy in mediaeval broadcloth in order to put it over. It seems to me that in saying so they are selling the wrong line. That is the point about which I rose to speak on.
I was disturbed last night to think that there was class consciousness and a snobocracy developing in accordance with which people who, in somebody’s view, were not properly dressed must go upstairs to see our proceedings and those who have the mink and mothballs can come downstairs. We want to alter that trend because it is not democratic. The parliamentary institution will never be hurt or destroyed and will not be reduced in any way when you let the people come in and see what you are doing and look down on you - metaphorically, I hope, and not practically - and have all the facilities available to them. Let us present the whole set-up to them as the greatest thing we have in this country - our federal government, our Australian institutions. Bring up from the sepulchre of the third cellar all the Australian things we want to show and they want to see. Australia, Australiana and the Australian way of life!
Let us get rid of this business of saying, “ You are improperly dressed, sir “. I had enough of that many years ago. The thing is that if it is good and clean and decent let the people flow wherever they will. Mr. Speaker has the right in this House to say who shall sit in his gallery, but he is a generous and democratic man and I hope that in the future if an Australian worker happens to have an open shirt and an open Australian countenance it will not disqualify him from sitting in the seats of the mighty on the rare occasions when he comes to visit his Federal Parliament.
.- There is a small proportion of the population that tries to assert itself by its conduct and its form of dress. Its behaviour is not wellmannered. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is very fastidious in his dress. I have never seen him without a buttonhole and he is always properly dressed. He has spoken on the question of the dignity of Parliament. What would be the position if we followed out his advice and all members of Parliament could come into this House in whatever gear they liked? Suppose everybody smoked pipes and we had spittoons here? Fortunately, no man is allowed into this House unless he is properly dressed.
– I referred to standards of conduct.
– You did qualify it. We do not allow members of Parliament to come here in sports coats or to smoke pipes and use spittoons, because Parliament represents the people, and the people of Australia are essentially people of good manners. It is manners which are essential if we are to have a democratic parliament functioning in an orderly way, because people who share your good manners respect you and have your respect. No matter whether a person is in opposition or a member of the government there is no reason, so long as his conduct represents good manners and integrity why there should not be mutual respect. Indeed, Parliament depends on that to-day. We have heard the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) complimenting the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) on his very reasoned speech. I have here a note also to compliment the honorable member for Batman although I will criticize him a little later. I cannot help criticizing the Opposition, because to do so is part of my task, but the importance of Parliament is something that we must never forget.
The honorable member for Ryan said that freedom depended on the Parliament and the judiciary. I beg to differ from him. I say that Parliament and Parliament alone is the sole protector of liberty in Australia, and we are the people who have to preserve liberty. Nothing .preserves liberty except the institution of Parliament. The judiciary implements the law, but the Parliament makes the law. If the law, as made by Parliament, is tough or unfair or unjust, the judiciary must interpret it, so Parliament is the one institution which preserves our liberty.
Sometimes I have heard party politics criticized but if you cast your mind over the whole world to-day you realize that the only places where people are free are the places where there are party politics. In no place are people free where there is not party politics. So those are institutions which are part of parliament and which have been devised over a long period of history. Edward I. called the first model parliament together and summoned the lords, the barons, the major abbots, the knights, the burghers and citizens. They set up the two
Houses, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. That was the start of Parliament. The British parliamentary institution has a long and wonderful history. We inherit it, and it is we, the people of to-day, the elected members, who have to see that this Parliament is preserved. Whether the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) disagrees with me, I do not know. I believe that the dignity of Parliament depends on mutual respect. If a person comes to the National Parliament not properly dressed he cannot expect to sit in the Speaker’s Gallery. I am not a snob, but if I go to a wedding and I am not properly dressed I do not go into the church.
Parliament is under continual attack because it is the sole means of securing this land’s freedom. Now the newly emerged nations - places like Pakistan - are governing themselves - and they have only a short history of the British parliamentary institution. They find that their peoples have not yet been trained to use the British parliamentary system. It requires a long period of parliamentary government before Parliament is secure.
I am talking about the importance of maintaining the dignity of Parliament, because we in Australia are assimilating a large number of newcomers who have not had the benefit of an historical background such as the people who come from the British Isles have in regard to the parliamentary institution. Therefore our Parliament, in this period of great difficulty when we are assimilating new people, should be very careful to see that it is preserved.
One of the difficulties we encounter at the present moment is the press. There are members of the modern press that one admires, but, by and large, I think it is fair to say that all members of Parliament and a great many of the thinking public are not satisfied with the press of Australia. I do not think that is an over-statement. There are one or two newspapers which command some respect, but, by and large, they have not the respect of the people of Australia and they certainly have not the respect of any member of Parliament. I do not think that we who engage in this political life care about criticism. We all get criticism, but I do feel that so long as the criticism coming from the press is unfair, through the use of the wrong word or deliberate distortions, or the slanted report, the press should examine its own soul, because once Parliament is destroyed by continual attacks on members of Parliament and on the parliamentary institution, what will replace it? I have never been in favour of broadcasting the proceedings of Parliament, for I believe that when the proceedings are broadcast too much of the debate is directed to influencing the listening public. I believe that the standard of debate in this chamber would rise enormously if proceedings were not broadcast.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) made a very useful suggestion. I have not been a member of an Opposition, but I can understand the frustration that takes place among its members. In my opinion the Opposition has an important role to play in the proceedings of this Parliament, and I now offer some criticism of the present Opposition which I believe its members should examine. Because of party rules the Labour Opposition does a great disservice to Parliament. For instance, a member of the Labour Party may not criticize his leader, nor may he openly criticize the policy of the party. Again, he is not permitted to vote according to his conscience, a restriction that may well destroy the parliamentary institution more quickly than anything else. If we are to gain full value from a debate, each member must be free to express his ideas and his convictions. If he agrees with a proposal submitted by the Government, he should be able to support it. Again, if he prefers his own ideas, he should be able to state them and vote for them without hindrance. Similarly, if he disagrees with a proposal submitted by his party, he should be free to criticize it. That is not the present position in the Labour Party. Those of us who have sat as members of joint committees all know the good work that can be done and the excellent results that can be achieved when members of both Government and Opposition parties co-operate in a joint effort. Although I believe that the proposal submitted by the honorable member for Batman - that more work be done by committees - is sound, such a proposal cannot succeed so long as members of the Opposition are bound by pledges and the restriction of their civil rights imposed by party rules. 1 think; all members of this chamber realize that the present Parliament House is no longer suitable for the purpose it is intended to serve. For instance, the acoustics of this chamber are dreadful. My hearing is as good as that of any other honorable member, but I have the greatest difficulty in hearing questions being put to Ministers and the answers given by them. That difficulty is experienced by all honorable members. I suggest that we should plan for the erection of a new building now. Certainly it would be an expensive undertaking. However, once the plans have been drawn up, the project could be spread over a long period so that the annual charge on the finances of the Commonwealth would not be very great. There is no doubt that the work of parliamentarians has become infinitely more difficult in this building in recent years. Certainly the existing building is no longer a source of pride to us. It could be used for many other purposes. The Government should in the very near future consider making world-wide competition for plans for a new building to house our National Parliament. Preliminary work should be started now. The preparation of plans should be started immediately and the complete project spread over ten or fifteen years so that the burden each year would not be too heavy. As there are many uses to which the present building could be put, no money would be lost to the Government. I am confident that all honorable members agree with me that this Parliament House is no longer conducive to efficiency and that it certainly makes the work of parliamentarians very difficult.
I should like now to refer briefly to the demonstrations that take place from time to time in the King’s Hall. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) thinks that the holding of such demonstrations is a good idea. I do not. I believe that these periodical visits by large numbers of people from Newcastle, Sydney and other places are intended to be intimidatory, and I am very resentful of any attempt to intimidate me. In my view, their object is to get the public accustomed to this sort of demonstration. Each successive demonstration seems to become more violent. The last demonstration was a disgrace, though it was not accompanied by the wild scenes that were reported in the press. I passed through the King’s Hall many times on that occasion and I saw no wild scenes. Occasionally there were noisy outbursts, but there certainly were no wild scenes. One newspaper reported the incident under the headline, “ Wild Scenes in the National Parliament “. The important point is that the reports from this newspaper were broadcast over Peking radio, and the impression received by people over the whole of eastern Asia was that there were wild scenes in the National Parliament of Australia, the one great bulwark of the parliamentary institution in the southern seas. Such broadcasts immediately create in the minds of our Asian friends doubt about the security of our Government. They must doubt its security when they hear stories about wild scenes, riots and the like in the National Parliament of Australia, There were no wild scenes, nor were there any riots, yet such happenings were reported in this particular newspaper as having taken place. I believe that these demonstrations serve no useful purpose. Certainly not one member of the Government is intimidated by them and they can lead to circumstances under which Parliament can be abused and overthrown. There is in Australia now a publication circulating in large numbers which shows how a totalitarian force in Czechoslovakia, by a misuse of parliamentary procedures, took over the government of that country. That is the technique employed by our enemies, and it should be a warning to the people that if you destroy Parliament that is the end of freedom. Our task is to preserve it.
.- I agree with much of what the honorable and gallant member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) has just said. I certainly agree with what he has said about demonstrations in King’s Hall. There is no doubt that the demonstration to which he referred in particular was at times unruly, unseemly and noisy, although the mcn to whom I spoke could not have been more polite. There is a danger to the institution of Parliament in gatherings of that nature, and I sincerely hope that, in the event of a recurrence of such a gathering in the King’s Hall in the future, Mr. Speaker and the President of the Senate will take whatever steps they may find necessary to disperse it as quickly as possible.
Earlier, we heard from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) one of his normal light and frothy talks. We have only to cast our minds back a comparatively short time, to remember that the honorable member paid a visit to mainland China. 1 do not criticize him in the slightest for making that visit, but I remind honorable members that at the time he was visiting mainland China there were many very interesting happenings going on over there. For instance, there were a large number of minor uprisings against the Government of that country. By that, I mean that they were minor in physical size. It would have been impossible for the honorary member for Parkes not to have known a good deal about what was going on while he was there, yet when he returned to Australia and wrote a book about his trip he made no mention whatever in that book of what must have been some of the most serious sides of his trip. That is significant of his approach to many subjects. He simply glosses over the deeper, more important things and smothers them with a lot of froth and bubble.
Earlier still, the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), who delivered an extremely well read speech, complained bitterly about the fact that members of the Opposition did not have full opportunities for research. I agree with him. 1, too, think that the time a member of Parliament has for carrying out research, and the opportunities for it, are undoubtedly restricted. It occurred to me while the honorable member was reading his speech that he was contravening Standing Order No. 61 which says that a member shall not read his speech. I should say in passing that it surprises me to note that more and more honorable members are getting into the habit of reading their speeches. Those who preside over our proceedings should take steps to prevent honorable members from getting into such a bad habit. The impression I gathered from the speech of the honorable member for Lang was that not only had a considerable amount of research gone into its preparation, but whoever had done the research had also written it. T mention this matter in passing because I believe we must get away from the habit of reading speeches.
– You are unkind.
– I may be unkind, but 1 do not think the practice would be indulged in to the extent that it is if the proceedings of this Parliament were not being broadcast. One of the disadvantages of broadcasting the proceedings is that those who are listening to the broadcast and hear a brilliant flow of language are often quite unaware of the fact that the gentleman whom they think is delivering an excellent speech is in fact reading a well-prepared document.
The most important matter that the honorable member mentioned was one which was brought up also by the honorable member for Batman. It concerns the time available to members, the facilities available to them, and the question of committee work. I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Batman particularly on the possibility and desirability of using more committees. But before we say that because this is done in the House of Commons we can do it here we have to bear in mind that the House of Commons has a membership of 630 or 640 and a quorum of 40 or 42. Consequently, a lot of committee work is done while the House is sitting. If I remember rightly, there are fourteen committee rooms ranging from one which is capable of holding 300 people, down to those that will hold about twenty.
– Accommodation is our trouble, too.
– It is one of our troubles but the main trouble is the lack of debating time. That can only be adjusted in one of two ways, both of which would mean that members would have to spend more time in Canberra. One simple way in which the deficiency could be remedied would be most effective, but I do not recommend it. That way would be to enable members to return to their electorates at public expense only once a fortnight or once in three weeks. That would hit harder at the people with young families. The second way in which it could be done has already been suggested and, I understand has been rejected mainly because it does not appeal to Opposition members. 1 refer to the proposal that the sittings of the House should be adjusted to run from
Monday to Friday in one week, commence on the following Monday and go to Thursday night, after which the House would rise for a week. Unless something of this nature is done there would not be an opportunity for committee work to be done effectively. Even at present, with the number of existing committees, including Government members’ committees there is a rat race to see which committees get the available committee rooms. If we had any extension of committee work, nearly every meal-time would be taken up in attending the sitting of a committee.
– Opposition members have twelve committees.
– You would find the same difficulty. I suggest that members must spend more time in Canberra if their work is to be done effectively, particularly through the committee system. 1 believe it would be greatly to their advantage to have more time here in order to get to know some of the departmental officials better. I believe that that would shorten, in many ways, representations which have to be made. It is much better to write a letter to somebody you know than to a complete stranger. It is even better to be able to ring up. I believe also that we could learn a lot by meeting and mixing from time to time with more of the diplomatic people here. Members should do that in the interests of their job in Parliament.
The other suggestion that I have to make is one to which I hope serious consideration will be given when standing orders are being reconsidered. That is that the size of the existing quorum be reduced. As I have said, the House of Commons, with a membership of 630 or 640, has a quorum of 40 or 42. We have 124 members and a quorum of 43 - one larger than that of the House of Commons. That does not make sense.
Another matter that I would like to mention relates to the prestige of the Parliament. From time to time some Opposition members quite deliberately set out to provoke the Speaker into naming them. It is a practice which seems to be growing. I sincerely hope that whoever is in charge of the House will take very strong steps to clamp down on this practice as hard as possible. I suggest that if somebody shows signs of wanting to be thrown out the Speaker should deal with him speedily and keep him out for quite a long time. I am quite sure that if that treatment were given to one or two members it would discourage others. 1 believe that the prestige of the Parliament is most important.
The honorable member for Lang said that it was essential to have an active and efficient Opposition. One of the troubles in the present Parliament is that we have not an active and efficient Opposition. I believe that that is one of the reasons why some sections of the press have taken to themselves the rights of an Opposition and have been so critical of the Government. The fact that we have a weak Opposition throws a greater responsibility on to the Government to make certain that all legislation brought into this chamber is most carefully considered.
– I would like to comment on the final statement of the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm). One of the political techniques of the Government, and of the leader writers of our daily press, is to write down the Opposition. I know that we have only 45 effective votes in this chamber - two Opposition members have limited voting rights - compared with 74 on the Government side. That is the electors’ fault. We hope that it will be rectified in three months’ time. I feel that it is quite wrong, and quite bad, to have 74 members on one side of a chamber and only 45 on the other. I agree on that point. But Government supporters, headed by their Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), are very arrogant in their feeling of security in this place. The newspapers also have been arrogant.
I feel that we, on this side of the chamber, in spite of our smaller number, have been an effective Opposition in all debates. We have forced divisions. That is about the only weapon that we have. We have moved amendments in committee on many bills. We have fought hard to indicate to the country that there are two sides to most questions. I do not think thai a large number of members is essential in order to do that. The disparity between the numbers in Government and Opposition is not the essential point. A small, closely knit Opposition can convey to the country the bad features of a measure just as well as an Opposition of 50 or 55.
– Order! I must draw the attention of the honorable member for Wilmot to the fact that I allowed the honorable member for Bowman to make a remark in passing. I do not feel that that gives the honorable member for Wilmot the right to make his full address on the particular point that was made only in passing by the honorable member for Bowman. 1 feel that 1 have given the honorable member for Wilmot a fair chance to answer that point. I ask, now, that he restrict his remarks to the estimates before the committee.
– 1 agree. I am sorry. 1 did not realize that you were actually giving me leniency, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I hope that I have made my point, not only to you, but also to the honorable member for Bowman.
On the matter of committees, I should just like to say that the scheme proposed by the honorable member for Bowman has some very good features. We certainly are rushed for time in dealing adequately with the matters that come before the joint parliamentary committees, the committees of Government supporters and Opposition members’ committees. As I pointed out by interjection earlier, we on the Opposition side of the chamber have twelve active committees which cover the whole range of federal legislation. I know that Government supporters have formed nearly as many committees. This committee activity is all to the good. It is very important.
– Every time we establish a committee, Government supporters match it by forming one.
– Yes. We on this side of the chamber have pioneered this kind of committee work, and, as the honorable member has just said, Government supporters form committees to match the Opposition members’ committees.
In order to bring about what the honorable member for Bowman really wants, we need more committee rooms. As Opposition Whip, I have at present the job of trying to co-ordinate the meetings of all the Opposition committees. I think that I may even be asking Mr. Speaker before long for the loan of his office in order to enable me to arrange for the meetings of all our committees to be held within the time available. My office will be used five times this week for meetings of various Opposition committees. The office of the Leader of the Opposition will also be used. This means that I have to be put out of my own office, which I use to undertake my own correspondence in addition to my work as Whip, at lunch-time and during dinner breaks in order that the Opposition committee system may function properly. This is completely wrong. I do not mean to suggest that I mind giving up my room for this purpose, but neither the Leader of the Opposition nor the Opposition Whip should have to give up his office to enable committee work to be undertaken.
– Why does not the honorable member agree to sittings on more days of the week?
– I do not think that would solve the problem.
– It probably would.
– I do not think so. We would still need more space in order to make provision for the work of these committees. At present, we have available for joint parliamentary committees room L88 on this side of the building and room L58 on the other side. Where else could these committees meet?
– One new room has just been made available and another will be provided soon. Why does not the honorable member move from his room and give us more office space?
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I shall not be side-tracked by the honorable member for Perth. He knows in his heart that we have not enough committee rooms in this building. I suppose that the only real solution is the construction of the new Parliament House, which appears still to remain in the dim, distant future.
I should just like to touch briefly now on the acoustics of this chamber. We have raised this matter at question-time and during the consideration of the Estimates year after year, but I do not think that we have seen any improvement in the acoustics here since I became a member of this place. A little earlier this afternoon, I was told by some friends from Victoria whom I entertained at afternoon tea that they could not hear what the Prime Minister said when answering questions to-day. My friends were sitting only two rows from the front of the public gallery which directly faces the Chair, and, although the Prime Minister is a very good speaker, they could not hear what he said. I pity those visitors to this place who sit right at the back of the public galleries. No doubt they find it impossible to hear answers to questions and some of the speeches that are made.
We are pleased to see visitors, but I feel that we should give them more thought. Perhaps the difficulties in hearing are partly our fault. Possibly, we do not speak loudly enough. I do not know. Whatever may be the reason, the acoustics of this chamber clearly are not good enough. There ought to be some way of enabling the voice of an honorable member on the floor of this chamber to be heard clearly in the various galleries. Even the press reporters have to resort to the use of special apparatus to hear the proceedings. We are in the middle of the twentieth century, and we see frequently the benefits gained by the use of modern acoustic techniques in halls, theatres, television studios and other places. Yet we still have not solved the acoustic problems in this chamber.
– Personal technique can provide a solution. The honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable member for Port Adelaide can be heard without difficulty.
– I know. But, unfortunately, we all are not made with voices and lungs of the same power as are those of the two honorable members mentioned. As a consequence, we need to adopt some mechanical means to enable honorable members to be heard clearly in the galleries. I hope, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the acoustics of this chamber will be carefully studied during the next recess and that, when we return to this place after the election, we shall find a completely new acoustic system.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I agree with several things that have been said this afternoon, and I disagree with others. I should like to say, first of all, that I am glad that the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) this afternoon supported what I have said previously about the increasing number of honorable members who read their speeches in this place. There is not the slightest doubt that the reading of speeches can amount to representation by proxy. There is nothing to prevent me from getting some of the best scribes in the country to write speeches for me to read in this place, but that would not be expressing my own thoughts on the subjects discussed. After all, the voters who elect a man to this Parliament expect him to have a knowledge of his electorate and to speak in this place about his electorate as he sees it and knows it, and as he thinks about it. I have noticed, on a number of occasions, the similarity between some of the speeches that are read.
– The honorable member is looking at members of the Liberal Party of Australia now.
– 1 might very well look at the honorable member, because I do not think that he is completely without fault in this matter. However, I am referring not to any particular group of honorable members. I am not suggesting that the reading of speeches is peculiar to the Opposition alone, to members of the Liberal Party or to members of the Australian Country Party. I am dealing with the members of this chamber in general. After all, at present we are considering the estima.es for the Parliament as a whole. If every member of this place would speak of things as he sees them himself, he would do much better than he does by reading a speech written for him by somebody else or one based on what somebody else has told him. That sort of thing is not in the best interests of the Parliament. Therefore, I support the remarks made by the honorable member for Bowman. I am glad to see thai he supports my views on this subject, which I raised in this chamber a long time ago, and that he is striving with me to get better representation of the people.
Immediately an honorable member says in this place something which is perhaps favorable to his electorate, we hear the old cry, “ Parish pump! “ The members of this chamber represent the whole of Australia. Not one part of the country is without representation in this place. If every honorable member devoted at least part of his speech to the subject of conditions in his electorate and the wishes and ambitions of his constituents, with particular reference to the subject under discussion, all honorable members, as the people’s representatives, would know what was going on throughout Australia. This would be in the best interests of the country as a whole. We know, of course, that an honorable member cannot discuss his electorate all the time. He has, of necessity, to discuss matters over a wider range and further afield. Australia is a big country in international affairs, although it has only a small population.
Various honorable members, and particularly some on the Government side of the chamber, have suggested from time to time that the Parliament sit from Tuesday to Friday inclusive in one week and from Monday to Thursday inclusive in the next week. Honorable members would spend a week-end in Canberra between the two weeks in which the Parliament met, and would then return to their electorates for a week. I absolutely oppose that proposal.
– On looking through the attendance lists, I find that some honorable members cannot attend even the present sittings, let alone any additional ones. The arrangement suggested might serve very well for honorable members from Western Australia, but most members come from the eastern States and they are able to get home to their electorates very well a! present. I point out that, although I live in central Victoria, honorable members who come from Western Australia may leave their electorates nine hours later than I have to leave mine and they can still be here in time for the meeting of the Parliament.
– Does the honorable member walk?
– No, I do not. 1 travel by car and train to Melbourne and from Melbourne to Canberra by aeroplane. I know that Australia is a big country. T did not realize just how big it was until I travelled across it in a slow train. But we do not travel in slow trains these days as did members of the Parliament in its early days when the only means of travel from Western Australia was by train or ship. We come by fast plane, and every year jet and other aircraft are being improved so as to draw the various parts of Australia more closely together. Members of Parliament can come to Canberra in a very short time now. In any event, I very much oppose the suggestion, and I do not think that it is in any way in the best interests of this country.
Ministers make statements which are broadcast over the air on Sunday nights, or appear in the press on Monday mornings, which may begin with the words “ At Canberra yesterday the Minister for soandso said such-and-such “.
But I know that when the Minister concerned was supposed to have made the statement in Canberra he was in Western Australia, or perhaps in Queensland. I think that a Minister can find other times than Sunday at which to make or issue statements on matters of great moment to this country. I notice that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is now at the table, is smiling at my remarks. He might want to make some vital statement about the defence of Australia. Is it necessary for him to make such a statement on a Sunday? Does he, in fact, make the statement on a Sunday? Is a Sunday night the best time to get a statement broadcast? Is the Australian Broadcasting Commission short of news on Sunday evenings? Is a Monday morning the best time at which to have a statement published in the press? All those points come into the matter. I believe that Ministers should make their statements on days other than Sundays.
Now, I turn to the subject of parliamentary committees. A great deal has been said about the great work of committees. I shall not comment on that, but I do say that parliamentary committees should not meet when the Parliament is sitting. There is not the slightest doubt that, as some honorable members have said in this debate, the most important place in the whole of Australia is the Commonwealth Parliament. Yet members who come to the Commonwealth Parliament absent themselves from this chamber in order to attend some committee meeting, and thereby they are not acting in the best interests of the com munity. I know that the Labour Party Whip and the Liberal Party Whip will join me, the Australian Country Party Whip, in this matter. We Whips have the responsibility of keeping the strength of this chamber up - to keep the numbers present - and then we find a member saying that he has a very important committee meeting to attend instead of being in the chamber. Is that committee meeting more important than being in this chamber? I think that that practice should be stopped. I think that this chamber is the most important place in the whole of this country when Parliament is sitting.
Many members are interjecting because of my remarks now. Let them get up and say that there is some other more important place. I believe that this is the most important place in which to be, and I do not care whether there is a big show being held in my electorate, or a mass meeting of wheatgrowers or of dried-fruit growers or pensioners or anybody else - if I am in good enough health to come here I will be here and not at any of those meetings. Honorable members know that it is not always when there is a big debate on in this chamber that they can do best for their constituents. Very often something crops up unexpectedly, and a member who is here has an opportunity truly to represent his constituents and thereby give them the best possible service.
These things come to my mind, and I think that honorable members should take note of them. It is my considered opinion that by doing so they will give better representation to their constituents.
.- The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has answered to the satisfaction of everybody in this chamber the question that he posed. He asked would it not be far better for a member to speak thoughts of his own rather than to have some one prepare speeches for him, or to read a written speech. I ask the committee: Would it not be better if the honorable member had some one to do his research and some one to write his speech so that proceedings in this chamber would not be brought down to the level of vaudeville? There was not one constructive or original thought in the whole of the ten minutes for which the honorable gentleman entertained us. We were not laughing at the things he said. We were laughing at him, because he made an absolute fool of himself, as he has done on previous occasions in this chamber.
There is a growing tendency among members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party to try to run the affairs of the Australian Labour Party. At question time in this chamber, and during speeches, we hear loaded questions addressed to various Ministers, the aim of which is to ally the Labour Party with the Communist Party. This is deliberately and callously and untruthfully done because the people who sit opposite are complete hypocrites.
– Order! I must insist that the honorable member for Lang withdraw that word. I insist.
– I withdraw the word “ hypocrites “, Mr. Temporary Chairman.
– That leaves them “ complete “, and they are not that.
– The honorable members who sit opposite adopt a sanctimonious attitude on this subject. Yet those people who are most vociferous in their attacks on the Labour Party have not taken firm action against the Communist Party–
– I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. We are discussing the proposed vote for the Parliament. I should like the honorable member to relate his remarks to the Parliament and not to the membership.
– Order! The honorable member for Lang may proceed.
– The Minister for the Interior was in this chamber when certain statements were made by the honorable members for Hume, Bowman and Mallee, and he did not raise any point of order then. This is typical of the attitude that is adopted by the Government in this Parliament. Surely on the estimates for the Parliament I am allowed to criticize the conduct of honorable members. Surely I am within my rights in doing that. The point that was taken by the Minister for the In terior was taken because the Minister is not prepared to put up with what he and other members of his party have been giving to the Labour Party for many years. Surely if honorable members opposite can hand i; out they can take it in return?
The honorable member for Bowman made certain remarks about a speech that I made earlier. I admit that it was a wellprepared speech, but I do insist that every word in that speech was prepared by myself. If the honorable member for Bowman cares to see the Deputy Librarian he will be informed who did the research and who prepared the speech. In a very mean, unfair and despicable statement he suggested that my speech was not prepared by me. It was prepared by me. All my speeches have been prepared by me, and always will be prepared by me. I prepared this one fully and well because of the fact that I had to encompass, in fifteen minutes at the most, a subject which could have taken at least an hour to develop. One thing I will say for myself was that the speech expressed original thought. There was not an original thought in the whole of the speech given by the honorable member for Bowman.
The honorable member for Hume talked about members of parties and of party politics, and said that members of the Labour Party had no right to voice their opinions or vote against party decisions in the House. Let us look at what happens in the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. Has the honorable member for Hume ever voted against Governmentsponsored legislation?
– You were about to say the honorable member for Mallee, but thought better of it.
– Have many members of the Country Party ever voted against Government-sponsored legislation? As far as the honorable member for Mallee is concerned, the only times he has ever voted against the Government were on such things as the application of the gag. He has never had the courage to vote against the Government on any matters of import. So far as the reading of speeches is concerned, let us see the honorable member for Mallee or the honorable member for Bowman take a point of order on the Prime
Minister when he reads a speech, or against the Minister for Repatriation or the Minister for Social Services, who both read speeches yesterday. Let us see them have the courage to do that before they criticize members of the Labour Party. The affairs of the Labour Party in this chamber will be managed by us alone. We do not need the advice of honorable members on the other side. If they were to devote more of their time to looking after the affairs of their own parties this country would not be in the predicament it is in at the moment. I challenge the honorable members opposite, particularly those who are always talking about communism, and particularly those who, time after time, talk about unity tickets, to say what they have ever done to defeat communism. Every statement they make in this place takes away something of the weight and the authority of members of the Labour Party who have been continually fighting against the uprise of communism in Australia. Honorable members opposite are not fair dinkum. They want unity tickets and they want the spread of communism through Australia. If the Government is not prepared to control the spread of communism, this Parliament will not be functioning for very long. The Labour Party has always been in the forefront of the fight against communism. No one in this chamber would be prepared to say to me that I was a Communist or a Communist sympathiser; yet Government supporters group all members of the Labour Party together as Communists and Communist sympathisers.
It is about rime that the Government faced up to its responsibilities to safeguard the Parliament and realized that, unless the democratic institution of Parliament is properly run, communism will become a telling force in Australia. Instead of criticizing the Labour Party for not doing something about communism, honorable members opposite should get out and do something about it themselves. No Liberal member will ever be found at the Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions or at a trade union meeting. We never find Liberal members running for office at any union election. But they stand up here and with their sanctimonious humbug criticize the Labour Party. This debate is a debate on the Estimates. I expected to hear some sound ideas from Liberal members. So far I have been disappointed.
.- I should like to say a few words in reply to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), who has just resumed his seat. It is said that if a contestant in a debate becomes abusive, he has been completely beaten. The honorable member for Lang was very abusive when referring to my speech. Since I have been a member of the Parliament, I have always attacked policies; I have never attacked individuals. That is why I have so many good friends in the Australian Labour Party. If the honorable member for Lang likes to take a different view, I cannot do much about it, but I will continue to debate against policies. If I do not like Labour’s policy of democratic socialism, I cannot be forced to speak in favour of it, but there is no need for me to make a personal attack on honorable members who support it. I have never done so.
It has been said that my speech this afternoon was an attack on the Labour Party. I made a special point of saying that I was referring to the whole Parliament. Although I do not claim that my speech was in any way exceptional, there has never been a speech made in this chamber that had less of a party political flavour. I referred to the whole Parliament. Why the honorable member for Lang should attack me is beyond comprehension. I cannot understand it and I do not think he can either. He has my great sympathy, if he feels frustrated because he cannot reply to my speech without engaging in personal abuse. I do not think that abusing other honorable members serves any purpose.
I have the greatest respect for the views and the aims of Opposition members, but I am not compelled to support them. That is why I often speak against them. But if the time comes when any one in this chamber can truly say that I, as member for Mallee, have been personally abusive, I hope that some one will tell me to retire.
.- I should like to support the views expressed by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) on the reading of speeches in this chamber. However, when he does refer to this subject, I think he should mention not only the back-bench members but Ministers and even the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). When he expresses his views on this subject as he has, he reflects on the back-bench members of the Parliament.
– Ministers should be allowed to read their speeches when introducing bills.
– I am referring to other speeches. Every one must acknowledge that Ministers here every day read prepared answers to questions. They do not give an answer off the cuff, but read prepared answers. Some objection should be taken to this practice, particularly when the questions are supposed to be questions without notice. The former Treasurer used to say that he had anticipated the question, but Ministers now have not the nous to say even this. I do not reflect on the Chair, but every day, at question time. Ministers read answers, although this conflicts with Standing Orders.
There seems to be some conflict between the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. The way the honorable member for Mallee addressed Liberal Party members about reading their speeches, it has become a tug-of-war from start to finish.
– The key speeches this afternoon on the estimates for the Parliament, in my opinion, were delivered by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird). Both made useful suggestions that could well be considered by the Government. It is true that other honorable members have made their contributions. I did not hear the speech of the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury), but I would be only too pleased to acknowledge any contribution he may have made. The salient point in the speech of the honorable member for Lang was the suggestion that there should be a research section for the Opposition. Members of the Opposition should be able to go to a bureau to obtain essential information and statistical data that they need when debating various matters of great concern to the nation. The honorable member for Batman suggested that greater use should be made of committees in the affairs of the Parliament. Both suggestions are good.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) paid a well-deserved compliment to the Public Accounts Committee. This committee is an outstanding example of the way a committee can function in the interests of the Parliament, the taxpayers and the nation. There is clear-cut evidence of the value of the committee. The Public Works Committee also renders outstanding service. I regret that many useful reports and findings of the Public Works Committee seem to be pigeon-holed and forgotten by Ministers who, in the long run,, are answerable to the Parliament. Ministers, fail to take heed of the reports and information carefully gathered by members of thecommittee.
Returning to the suggestion of the honorable member for Lang, 1 point out that it i& important for the Opposition and Government supporters to have the fullest information and knowledge obtained from research so that they may match the efforts of Ministers and discuss various questions on an equal basis There is no gainsaying the fact that there are deep rivalries amongst Government supporters. The fact does emerge from time to time that back-bench members who could make outstanding contributions to the affairs of the nation are held back by Ministers who fear that they may be eventually replaced by such members, who may gain favour with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Because of this, it is of utmost importance that a research section be available to Opposition members, and a similar section be available to honorable members on the Government side, so that they will not come into the Parliament to read speeches carefully prepared by the Government’s propaganda factory. This has happened much too often in recent times. I do not want to mention names but on a number of occasions recently speeches have been read to this Parliament from the other side of the chamber, following a certain course which is the popular line of the Government.
Some debate has taken place to-day on the reading of speeches in the House. No one deplores that more than I do. I think that honorable members should be able to come into this Parliament and express the views of the people they represent and thenown views on the many challenging problems that face the country; but I think that honorable members ought to be able to make their speeches without reading them. As it is, we have become accustomed to this practice being excused with the jargon that the member is following copious notes.
I regret that a deplorable spirit - if I may use that term - developed out of the useful suggestions that were put forward in this debate, until it degenerated into a fight and a wrangle. The Parliament surrenders its position when it becomes involved in that sort of disputation. We are responsible to a great number of electors, and the people expect us to play our parts on their behalf. There are many good people in all our electorates who would be only too happy to have the privilege and the opportunity of serving their fellows in this Parliament, lt behoves members of Parliament on both sides of the chamber to try to maintain standards worthy of this democratic institution.
It has been said that the Parliamentary institution is a comparatively recent development in world history. I agree. I believe also that Parliament faces a severe testing and is in greater peril than it has ever been previously because of the growing attitude among many people that totalitarianism is right. That ideology suits one particular shade of viewpoint or another; but I believe it should be rejected with the robust, honesttogoodness democracy that we practise in the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Democracy can live, flourish and develop in Australia if we come to the Parliament with dignity and honesty, if we make a forthright approach to national problems and if we are prepared at all times to say what is necessary on behalf of the people. The cause of democracy can be advanced if we adopt the suggestions that have been made by a number of honorable members to-day, such as that advanced by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart). I believe that democracy would be assisted also by the adoption of the committee form of parliamentary practice suggested by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird). Useful suggestions have been made by honorable members on both sides of the chamber and I regret that the debate degenerated as it did. The subject before the committee deserved better treatment. I can only hope that Parliaments of the future will take notice of what has been said to-day and will try to build on the firm foundations that have been set by those patriotic people who have paved the way for our democratic institutions.
.- The suggestion that has been put forward by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) is a good one. 1 am prepared to support any suggestion that will strengthen the Opposition in this House. I think the suggestion was a confession that the Opposition is weak and so we should all be sympathetic to the idea.
However, 1 have risen to speak about the acoustics in this portion of the chamber occupied by the Australian Country Party. I suppose that 25 per cent, of all the speakers in this House cannot be heard in this corner. I do not know whether it is partly because of the position of the attendants’ box behind us. It is little use coming into this chamber if we cannot hear the speakers. AH of us hear very little of what goes on at question time, particularly from the front bench.
I suggest that earphones be supplied for all members in this chamber so that they can tune in if they want to hear. If members want to make a noise and are not concerned with the procedures of the House, they need not listen. When having a look at a few parliaments in South-East Asia recently, I noticed that every member was equipped with a set of earphones, mainly for multi-lingual purposes; but I think it is important that if members do want to hear, they should have headphones so as to be able to shut out interference. Certainly, I think that backbench members should have earphones.
Remainder of proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £11,461,000.
.- Seeing that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) prepares his speeches and reads them, I have prepared a few copious notes concerning the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department I wish to refer to the conditions of those who are employed under the administration of the Public Service Board and for whom the Prime Minister is responsible in this Parliament. lt will be remembered that in November 1959, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission awarded wage increases to manual workers in the metal trades industries amounting to 28 per cent, of their margins over the basic wage. These margins had been fixed previously in November, 1954.
The 28 per cent, marginal increase became the basis of claims by all other sections of industry, both public and private. The oil industry clerks and officers, State public service clerks and officers, company clerks and officers, journalists, railways clerks and officers, bank clerks and officers, insurance clerks and officers - every section of employees in industry - received the benefits of the commission’s finding in 1959 except the Commonwealth Public Service. 1 believe that the Commonwealth public servants who did not receive the full margins award of 28 per cent, have had a very raw deal. No adjustment should have been made in their salaries except those provided by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at the time.
The commission’s findings showed clearly that in order to maintain wage justice and the proper relativity of the margins for skill to the basic wage, it was necessary to increase margins by 28 per cent. Instead, the Commonwealth public servants benefited only in accordance with a formula that was applied to them by the Public Service Board in collaboration with the Government and the Prime Minister. They applied their own formula to their own servants - to officers of the Second and Third Divisions. Fourth Division officers - those who are on lower pay - received the full 28 per cent., but those in the Second and Third Divisions did not get the 28 per cent, prescribed by the commission. Officers in those higher-paid divisions received a reduced rate of increase. Instead of 28 per cent., an increase of 23 per cent, was applied to the lower ranges and the increase fell to 17 per cent, on the higher ranges. Of course, that was very short of the 28 per cent, awarded by the commission and in my opinion it actually represents a big decrease in the wages of Commonwealth public servants.
I hope that workers in industry generally, and particularly in the Commonwealth Public Service, will remember that the Government has taken this kind of action on more than one occasion. In 1955, the organization representing workers in the metal trades put a case before a Commonwealth Conciliation Commissioner, and a decision was given that margins should be increased to an extent that would make them equal to two and one-half times the margins operating in 1937. But the Government and the Public Service Board applied their own formula to Commonwealth public servants, so that they received marginal increases smaller than those which had been granted to all other workers in industry. I hope that Commonwealth Public Servants will remember this when they vote at the next election.
They should remember, too, what happened in 1947. During the war wages were pegged. This had been agreed to, I remind the committee, by the trade union movement. By 1947, the relativity of margins to the base rate of pay had been radically changed, and the then Labour Government, under Mr. Chifley as Prime Minister, decided that margins should be increased by 25 per cent. The Public Service Board at that time tried to apply a formula of its own to Commonwealth public servants, but the Labour Government objected to this, and every worker received the benefit of the 25 per cent, increase.
Let me demonstrate to the Parliament, to the Prime Minister and to the Public Service Board, the effect the application of the formula has had on the salaries of Commonwealth public servants. There are 26 salary ranges in the second and third divisions of the Public Service. Naturally, I cannot give the detailed effects on each range, but I will give figures for a few of them to show how the formula adopted by the Public Service Board has affected its own officers. These figures were compiled in August, 1960, and they give the amount of salary lost in the year then current, and also the cumulative loss from 1955 to June, 1960. The base grade clerk lost £40 for the year and £120 in total. The officer in the range in which the maximum was about £1,700 lost £90 for the year, his total loss being £195. Going further down the list, I find that the employee on the salary range with the maximum at about £2,000 lost £133 for the year and £291 in all. Let me now go to a higher grade. The officer receiving a salary of about £3,000 lost £407 for the year, and his accumulated losses amounted to over £1,000. The highest salary given in the list is in the second division, being £5,525 a year. An officer on this salary lost £1,160 for the year and £3,620 in total because of the application of the Public Service Board’s formula.
I shall refer also to another group of workers who were similarly affected, the postmasters. These are graded according to the classes of post offices of which they are fin charge. The postmaster on the minimum salary, in a grade 2 post office, is losing £52 a year. That is the minimum loss.
– What would he get?
– Mis minimum salary is £1,133, and he rises to a maximum of £1,353. Because of this peculiar formula adopted by the Public Service Board, he loses £52. The other grades of postmasters incur the following losses: -
Also affected were the postal clerks, the telegraphists, the traffic officers and the supervisee. Ali of the officers in the second and third divisions have lost money in the way I have indicated.
Let me tell the committee what the public servants themselves think about this matter - and again I hope that they will remember this on election day, because the Labour Party does not stand for this kind of special formula for its own officers. The “ Federal Public Service Journal “, of February, 1961, had this to say -
The facts of the present Federal Government’s political attacks on Public Servants are very clear. The Liberal-Country Party coalition destroyed the independence of the previously effective and efficient Public Service arbitration system and threw us into the costly, delaying, excessively legalistic procedure of the outside individual courts.
Having committed this destructive act of wanton sabotage in the middle of one night in a few hours in both Houses of Parliament, the Government then swept into the Arbitration Commission on two occasions, through its plaint Public Service Board the first time and with separate barristers the second time, and induced the Judges to decide that a public servant in the clerical ranks was a second class, depressed and unworthy type of lowly citizen who did not deserve the same economic wage justice as other salaried employees.
Those in the lower and middle classifications, who in 1937 and in 1954 were receiving remunerations equal to denned sections in other industries, suddenly found their margins reduced in 1955 and again in 1960, so that they in effect were robbed of economic justice as surely as if the Government stole the money out of their pockets.
That is what the public service organization thinks about this Government and the actions it took in respect of salaries of public servants.
I wish to refer to some figures that were given in the annual report of the Public Service Board, which was tabled in the Parliament to-day. The number of persons employed in the Commonwealth Public Service is shown as 165,000, and of these 33,736 are females, or about 27 per cent, of the total. I consider this a high proportion. I do not object to females occupying any positions in any industries, whether in the Public Service or not, but I am concerned and alarmed at the possibility that females may be doing jobs that should be paid for at male rates of wages and salaries. I hope that females are not being engaged simply because they may be paid only 75 per cent, of male rates. It is an important social proposition that women are entitled to full human rights. Legislation for equal pay for equal work in the Commonwealth Public Service should be introduced forthwith, in my opinion. Any provision for less than equal pay represents an injustice to women and a threat to every breadwinner. If an employer has a vacant position capable of being filled by either a male or a female, he will naturally select a female if he can pay her only 75 per cent, of the male rate. Employers will always engage the cheapest labour, consistent with efficiency, whether male or female.
This Government was a signatory to the United Nations charter which prohibits discrimination between the sexes. Such discrimination is always condemned at meetings of the United Nations. I appeal to the Government to honour its pledges and to cease exploiting female employees in the Public Service. The Labour Party will end this discrimination when it is given a mandate to form a government at the end of this year.
– What about lady senators?
– They get the same salaries as the men.
– Should they?
– They are quite entitled to it. I believe in the principle of equal pay for equal work.
The other matter included in the Public Service Board report to which 1 wish to refer relates to the large number of temporary employees in the Commonwealth Public Service. Of the 165,000 persons engaged, not less than 60,000 are temporary employees. In my opinion, any officer in the Commonwealth Public Service who has served satisfactorily and efficiently for at least twelve months should be given permanent appointment. In some sections of the Postmaster-General’s Department - the department in which most of these temporary employees are - the turn-over of labour is as high as 50 per cent, of the total staff. I believe this large turn-over takes place because so many officers are not sure of their jobs. The first thing that they want is security and, instead of being interested in retaining their jobs in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department they busy themselves looking for a position which will offer permanency.
– There is no incentive for them.
– As the honorable member for Watson has stated, there is no incentive for the temporary employees to remain in their positions. It is ridiculous that there should be such a large number of temporary employees in the Commonwealth Public Service.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I should like to make a few comments on what the Commonwealth has been asked to do, and has done, in relation to education. Some recent developments in the field of educa tion have tended to highlight the Government’s interest and responsibility in this matter. For the purposes of debate three questions might well be asked and answered. The first is: How bad is our education system? To judge the excellence or otherwise of an education system one has to be sure of one’s standards. No one will deny that we could provide more by way of educational facilities, but we can say also that we could improve our facilities for hospital treatment and our roads. The tendency has been to suggest that the education system is in dire need of an emergency injection of a large sum of money. This has been treated as the final answer to the question. All we can do as a nation is to improve our educational and other social provisions year by year, and in fact, this is what is happening.
At the recent Premiers’ Conference the Premiers stated categorically that although they had problems ahead of them - they stated the problems - they had, in fact, done a good job for education in their Stales. Obviously they have. For a start, they have been faced with pressures due to increased population. In the last ten years, in a period of rapidly increasing enrolments - of the order of 70,000 a year - they have maintained their standards. They have provided sufficient classrooms but as yet have not been able to dispense with all unsuitable accommodation. In the next five years enrolment increases will decline to about 40,000 or 50,000 a year. Therefore, it should be possible to make up some leeway and to improve existing accommodation.
The States have increased their education activity. Expenditure from loan funds was only £12,000,000 in 1951-52 but by 1959-60 this had increased to £38,000,000. In 1931-52 the total expenditure by the States on education was some £46,000,000. By 1959-60 this had increased to over £160,000,000, representing an average annual increase of about 15 per cent. The real situation, therefore, is not that the education provisions have remained static or are deteriorating. No State Minister for Education would admit this; nor is it true.
The next question we must ask ourselves is: What has the Commonwealth done? The Commonwealth has standing financial arrangements with the States which take into account growth and betterment factors.
The States have indicated the general satisfactory nature of these arrangements which mean that without any special aid, and provided the States continue to apply the same percentage of available funds to education over the next few years, they should be able to make the improvements which were presented as being desirable in the report on education that was considered at the recent Premiers’ Conference. Therefore, there does not appear to be a strong case for urgent and separate action by the Commonwealth outside the normal financial relationships with the States.
In other ways the Government has brought relief to the States in certain fields of education. Commonwealth expenditure on the Commonwealth scholarships scheme has risen from less than £500,000 in 1950-51 to nearly £3,000,000 in 1961-62. The total number of Commonwealth scholarship students in training has risen from 6,500 in 1951 to nearly 12,000 in 1960. Not only has this relieved the States of the burden of supporting such students, who need support from somewhere, but also it has made possible a greater flow of trained graduates into the services of the States.
I need not detail the Government’s record in relation to universities. In cooperation with the States it has enabled a development in university facilities which is unparalleled in our history. The amount made available from Commonwealth sources alone for university development has risen from less than £1,000,000 in 1951 to a projected £14,500,000 in 1963.
The final question we must ask ourselves is: What has the Commonwealth been asked to do? In recent months there has been pressure on the Commonwealth Government to institute an inquiry into primary, secondary and tertiary education. It might be pointed out that the States are themselves in the best position to assess their own needs and to make their own inquiries. In fact, they have done this. The New South Wales Government is taking action on the report of the Wyndham committee. The Victorian Government has instituted inquiries into the subject. Nor are we sure that the States would welcome a Commonwealthsponsored inquiry into fields that are entirely their own in the administrative sense. It does not seem, therefore, that the desirability of such an inquiry is by any means generally accepted, even if the Commonwealth were to take the risk of interfering in this way with a State government activity.
The second suggestion that has been advanced is that the Commonwealth should make a large emergency grant for education. State Premiers have indicated certain suspicions about money coming to them earmarked for educational purposes. The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, recently has been very specific on this question. However, the Commonwealth has instituted an inquiry into education at the tertiary level. This flows naturally from the Commonwealth’s interest in universities. At a recent press conference the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made it very clear why the Government had moved into this field.
There is a great difference between an arrangement such as exists for universities, where the Commonwealth and State Governments co-operate to assist autonomous institutions, and a situation in which the Commonwealth Government interferes in the domestic administrative arrangements and policy considerations of a State government, which is the danger of Commonwealth intervention at the lower levels of education.
.- I wish to speak briefly on a matter pertaining to the Prime Minister’s Department and particularly on the estimates for the Office of Education. Education is a comparatively new topic for this Parliament. I remember that when I introduced this subject in 1956 I was mildly rebuked and reprimanded by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) because I dared to mention a matter which he contended was the responsibility of the States. But it is a good thing that over the last three or four years increasing interest has been shown in this important topic. This interest has manifested itself especially in regard to universities. Of course, this is long overdue. Universities have been neglected for years and years, and despite the establishment of th, Commonwealth Office of Education there has been ineffective liaison between the Commonwealth and the States. In 1945, the Labour Party established the Commonwealth Office of Education, and provided that the office would function effectively in respect of all facets of education so that the Commonwealth could always make sure that it accepted its proper responsibility in these matters and that education, in effect, would be guaranteed and underwritten by the Commonwealth because of its great national importance. But, as I say, these provisions were not invoked.
The Murray committee, in 1956, broke new ground in its examination of tertiary education at the national level. Of course, there is still a lot to be done despite the emergency relief which was given, because some of our biggest universities have intimated the likelihood of an embargo or a restriction on entry into a number of faculties. I think that is to apply in Sydney in respect of the faculties of law and medicine by 1963 and that a short time afterwards a more general embargo will prevail unless we get on with the job of providing new facilities. And so there is a great deal to be done.
A few years ago we used to engage in controversies in this House about whether the Commonwealth should have anything to do with universities and other facets of education. We used to talk about the constitutional position. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) often contended that we had no right, as a federal government, to initiate any action in this respect unless there was a request from the States for a grant under section 96 of the Constitution.
Suddenly, all those contentions were swept away when the Prime Minister went overseas, accidentally met Sir Keith Murray, brought him back to Australia and set up a committee. Every one knows the results. The committee’s report had very startling ramifications for the people of Australia, because the years of financial stringency had brought about a fairly desperate state of affairs in regard to the buildings, accommodation, teaching personnel and facilities of the universities. The whole question had been the subject of neglect and our output of graduates had reached the level of a national crisis.
I do not need to go into that matter at length, but will refer to a statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He discussed a table showing the number of new graduates in science and engineering per million of population in the countries concerned in 1956. It showed that the United States of America had 281 graduates, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 450, Britain 162, Canada 143, Italy 96 and Australia 79. This was something like the state of affairs revealed by the Murray committee’s report. Despite all the difficulties, the Commonwealth had no alternative but to alleviate the situation and it did so by substantial grants made available in the years 1958-59 and 1959-60. But the States had not asked for this assistance. This was a spontaneous gesture on the part of the Commonwealth.
We wonder why we should be so selective in our approach to education. Why have we to concentrate on universities? The States have always asked for more assistance for education generally and the Commonwealth would do very well to look at this state of affairs. We wonder why the Commonwealth has chosen to neglect other aspects of education. The States have not pleaded just for aid for universities. That is the whole point. In fact, no special plea was made in that regard.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, I was discussing the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, and I had referred, in particular, to the provision for the Commonwealth Office of Education. I had stated that the Commonwealth had appointed a committee of inquiry and had acted on some of that committee’s recommendations with respect to universities, but had left unattended the other educational deficiencies of the nation. We on this side, and, indeed, the State Premiers, be they Liberal or Labour, have been anxious to ascertain why there has been this discrimination. Why has the Commonwealth neglected primary, secondary and technical education and concerned itself only with tertiary education? All State Premiers have now made a submission for special Commonwealth assistance for education other than in universities. On 15th June last, the Premiers met the Prime Minister at the Premiers’ Conference where they very forcefully submitted a detailed proposal, supported by statistics, for emergency and long-term assistance for education. This request had the unanimous support of all State Premiers who agreed that such assistance would not involve any relinquishment by the States of their responsibilities in connexion with primary, secondary and technical education any more than grants for universities had caused them to abandon responsibility for university education. To date, this request has been ignored by the Government and the crisis continues, a crisis that can have far-reaching effects on the welfare of the people of this country. For that reason, I move -
That the vote be reduced by £1 -
Because the Government has failed to comply with the unanimous request of the Premiers to establish a committee to investigate and assess the needs of primary, secondary and technical education on a national basis, to suggest a long-term basis of assistance and to make some special assistance as an interim measure.
– Are copies of the motion available for honorable members?
– Copies are available. There are a number of them, and a copy has been properly handed to the Clerk at the table. We want to know why the Government chooses to repair the edifice of education with such shaky props. It has a top-heavy approach to educational problems in Australia. I know that it is much easier to see the results of neglect than the causes of it. The Murray committee had a look at these things and gave many examples of the results of neglect, pointing out that the most apparent of them were to be seen in the universities. I should like to quote some extracts from that committee’s report. The first relates to the committee’s comment on the deficiency of scientists in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and appears on page 18 of the report. It reads -
The C.S.I.R.O. which, in addition to the positions for research officers it has been unable to fill, has had over the last twelve months to draw from overseas countries 30 per cent. of those it has recruited.
Again on page 1 8. when referring to the unsatisfied demand for graduates the report says -
Evidence supplied by the University Appointments Board of the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne reveals a large and unsatisfied demand for graduates in all branches of engineering, chemistry and physics.
These are some of the superficial weaknesses, the apparent cracks in the Australian educational system which have been revealed. I think all honorable members appreciate the importance of education and of keeping up with modern scientific trends. After all, we live in an environment of science and technology, an environment of synthetics. Our clothes, our household furnishings and new plastics all reflect the advance of scientific comprehension and manufacturing techniques, and the nations that can master these things, as the Americans and Russians have done, move into a dominant position in world affairs. Conversely, those that do not drop back to second-class positions. Our shortcomings in technological attainments are terribly apparent.
We have dealt with the superstructure of education. To my way of thinking, it is apparent that the hull of the great ship of education is leaking very badly and is receiving no repair from this Government. Even the Murray committee, quite spontaneously, had something to say to that effect. Although its terms of reference related mainly to tertiary or university education, the Murray committee saw how useless and futile it would be to confine itself to universities and ignore everything else. On page 21 of its report, that committee said -
For some time Australian educational administrators have been beset with the problem of providing schools and teachers to accommodate the swelling tide of primary and secondary school pupils.
Then it made this special reference to secondary schools on page 30 -
Any modern community must look closely to its secondary schools for their own sakes because of the contribution they make in their own right, quite apart from what they do for future university students.
On page 36, it makes this further reference to the matter -
As we have already said, the view is widely held in the universities that one substantial cause of the high failure rate is the lack of adequate preparation of the students in the schools.
Again on page 22. we find this statement -
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 secondary school level, due to early leaving, to suggest that this problem merits close attention.
The Prime Minister claims to have accepted the Murray committee’s recommendations. We wonder whether he has done so when we look at the situation as revealed by the report. For instance, in 1957, only 4.4 per cent. of New South Wales students in the seventeen to eighteen years age group entered universities. Only 4.4 per cent.! What a waste of talent! The report also discloses that 16 per cent. of those in any age group have the level of ability considered necessary for success at the university. The Premiers’ Conference considered these matters in June, 1961. The first report was presented last March, so that this Government has had five months to reflect about these matters. I point out that the report of the Premiers was prepared under the direction of the various State governments by the Australian Education Council which comprises the Directors of Education in all the States. At the Premiers’ Conference, submissions were made by the Premier of New South Wales on behalf of all six States. All States were unanimous in the approaches made. They contended that the Commonwealth should accept the principle of aiding the States with long-term assistance. They also advocated a committee of inquiry and they called for special assistance. They submitted that not only was assistance on a long-term basis necessary but also that interim assistance should be granted until the committee had completed its inquiry. They declared that the position was such that a special allocation of funds by the Commonwealth was necessary, and all States gave an assurance that they would co-operate in this matter. Gone are the days when the States considered that their sovereignty was sacrificed by accepting Commonwealth aid. No longer do they contend that the Commonwealth has to assume full responsibility for education if it makes grants. They are satisfied that grants can be made without depriving the States of any of their rights in connexion with education. Indeed, the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, made special reference to this and the Prime Minister gave the States an assurance that the abandonment of responsibility was not necessary.
My time is almost exhausted, and before concluding I shall summarize the matters about which the State Premiers are con cerned. They are concerned about inadequate buildings, the deficiency of properly trained teachers and the limitation of equipment and supplies. These deficiencies have been caused by a number of factors. First, we had the difficult depression years; then the difficult war years, when there was an almost complete embargo on school building; and then we had to face up to the question of enrolment, recognizing that there was a very serious decline in the birth-rate in those very difficult years.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Lucock).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Opposition has chosen to move an amendment to the vote for the Prime Minister’s Department in the terms which the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. Johnson) has read out. I must confess to being extremely surprised to hear the terms of the honorable member’s motion to reduce this vote. Just to refresh the memory of honorable members, I will repeat what the honorable member for Hughes said. He said that the Government had failed to comply with the unanimous request of the Premiers to establish a committee to investigate and assess the needs of primary, secondary and technical education on a Commonwealth basis; to suggest a long-term basis of assistance, and to make special assistance available as an interim measure. The Premiers, as I understand it, did not request anything of the sort. Neither the statement made by the Australian Education Council nor the letter from the Premier of New South Wales indicated in any way whether the Premiers regarded the statement as an accurate review of the position or supported whatwas in it. So how it could be regarded as unanimous request for Commonwealth assistance I do not know.
The Premiers have made no request whatever for Commonwealth aid for education. They have given no indication whetherthey regard education needs as more pressing than those, for instance, of hospitals.There is no indication whatsoever whetherthey would be prepared to accept special Commonwealth grants for education or for some particular areas of education such as technical education or teacher training. The point I am trying to make is that the Opposition’s motion is repudiated immediately because it is couched in terms which are quite untrue and quite incorrect. The Premiers, as I understand it, asked for nothing. They presented problems, of course, to the Premiers’ Conference. But the fact is that they asked specifically for nothing for this purpose from the Commonwealth.
My understanding is that during the debate that took place on this subject, the Premiers continuously said that they were doing very well indeed in respect of education. They pointed to the increases of expenditure that they had made for education and to the improvements in all aspects of primary and secondary education which had gone on over a period. When we examine the statement of the Australian Education Council which I was very interested to read because it had been much heralded by honorable gentlemen opposite over a number of years in this place in what I would regard as a political ramp on their part in jumping on this band wagon, we can see that it was placed before the Premiers’ Conference purely to indicate the problems in Australian education over the next four or five years. The Australian Education Council includes the education ministers of the various States and they made no specific request for direct Commonwealth grants for education.
Let me show honorable members what this report contained. It is directed, of course, to showing the additional finance necessary to maintain current educational standards and to enable desirable improvements to be made. In the report, 1958-59 is used as a base year and estimates of additional needs until 1963-64 are made. That is a five-year period. This is the assessment on which the whole of the Opposition’s case has been based for some years and on which it had the temerity to move this amendment to the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. What did this report say in respect of the finance which would be required? First, it said that, to maintain present standards, taking the total expenditure in 1958-59 as £142,000,000, an additional £200.000,000 would be required over the five years. That is just to maintain the present standards with the estimated increase in children going to school.
In addition, it stated that, in order to effect desirable improvements which it listed but which I have not time to state here. based on an expenditure of £51,900,000 in 1958-59, an additional £73,500,000 would be required in 1963-64. This would mean. Sir, that in addition to maintaining th? 1958-59 rate of £142,000,000, a total added expenditure of some £312,000,000 would be required in the five-year period to bring secondary and primary education to the standard which the State educational ministers regard as desirable.
Now, Sir, this is why I believe that the Premiers did not go to the point of requesting additional financial assistance: Without any special aid whatsoever, educational expenditure by the States, including capital expenditure, rose by £20,000,000 in 1959-60 and it has risen by an average of 12 per cent, per annum for the last five years. If this rate of annual increase of 12 per cent, were to be maintained - and I cannot see any reason whatsoever why it should not be maintained to the end of the period included in the report - the total additional moneys that would be found, over and above the 1 957-58 level of expenditure, would be more than £315,000,000. This is more than the sum which the report stated would be required to improve primary and secondary education to a desirable level. That is to say that it would be more than enough to meet all the extra costs envisaged, not only to maintain the present standards but also to provide for all desirable improvements mentioned.
Honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber have always taken the stand that, under the Australian Constitution, the field of primary and secondary education is the responsibility of the States. But the Commonwealth Government, as I understand its approach, has not adopted a negative attitude towards this matter. As has been pointed out, in order to meet the needs of the States with respect to the matters which are within their constitutional responsibility, the Commonwealth Government has over the years made available for education large amounts out of income tax reimbursements, which have been increasing every year, and has provided funds by guaranteeing loans to the States and in many other ways. This has made it possible for the States, in their own wisdom, to increase their expenditure on education by 12 per cent, a year over the last five years, This approach by the Commonwealth will make it possible for the States to maintain over the next four or five years this 12 per cent, annual increase in expenditure on education and, therefore, by the end of the financial year 1964-65 to reach the point which the Australian Educational Council, as stated in its report, regards as desirable. In other words, Sir, by adhering to our principle that matters which are the constitutional responsibility of the States ought to be dealt with by the States and. at the same time, exercising a sense of responsibility and discharging our obligation to provide the necessary additional funds in the total grants made to the States, we shall make it possible for the States to spend on education all that this expert report suggests is desirable.
I want to make just one further comment. In fairness, I point out that the assessment which I have made does not allow for rising costs. If costs rise, as these figures are ‘ marginal, the States may not be able to attain the target that I have envisaged. But in the debates in this chamber over the last couple of years, especially the debate on the Government’s Budget for the current financial year, and in the economic policies that have been carried out during 1960 and 1961, the Government has made clear its determination to maintain reasonable stability in the cost structure in Australia. With the present Government in office, we can be reasonably sure that the States will be able to get the full benefit of the expenditure that they are able to make on education. If the Australian Labour Party, on the other hand, were able to form a government and implement its highly inflationary proposals, the Commonwealth might have to make a special grant in aid for primary and secondary education, contrary to the terms of the Constitution. I oppose the amendment, Sir.
.- Mr. Chairman, I presume that there are not many people who are as ignorant of the proceedings of the last Premiers’ Conference as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) apparently is. For his special edification, I quote a short passage from page 7 of the official report of the proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference held at Canberra on 15th June last. The Premier of New South Wales, making submissions on behalf of all the Premiers, made these remarks -
At this stage, Mr. Prime Minister, I ask the Commonwealth to accept the principle of assisting the States in these directions and to agree to establish a committee to investigate and to make an up-to-date assessment of the needs of primary, secondary and technical education on a national basis, and to suggest a long-term basis of assistance. Such an inquiry would necessarily take some time. In view of the urgency of the present situation, I also ask the Common wealth to agree to make some special assistance as an interim measure.
That plea by the Premier of New South Wales was supported specifically, I think, by every one of the other Premiers present
At the Premiers’ Conference held in June of this year, the Premiers, by their unanimous voice, expressed their urgent wish that the Commonwealth assist them with additional grants for primary, secondary and technical education. So far, there has been no indication, in respect of primary and secondary education at least, that the Government is prepared to act. We all are well aware, of course, that when this matter was first mentioned, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) expressed the belief that such grants would be unconstitutional. Then various Government supporters told us from time to time, especially last year, that such grants would be out of order, because the Premiers had not requested them. The Premiers, with a united voice, requested these grants last June, but, so far, there is no indication of action by the Government. The Prime Minister may plead that he needs time to survey and consider the situation. But, in my view, for some years now, sufficient facts have been available to all with eyes and a will to see to enable a decision to be made. One cannot help but contrast the Government’s dilatoriness with the courageously determined action of the new President of the United States of America, who, in February of this year, very soon after his election to office, obtained the approval of the United States Congress for a federal grant for education of £2,200,000,000. Significantly, the opening sentence of the plea made to Congress by the new Presiden on 20th February was -
Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.
There is a crisis in Australian education I warn our people that the crisis is qualitative as well as quantitative. We urgently need more and better qualified teachers, many more attractive classrooms, gymnasiums, libraries, assembly halls, recreational facilities and conveniences, and we need, also, much more teaching equipment for our schools. Our needs in these matters have been very effectively classified and specified in the report entitled “ Some Aspects of Australian Education “ compiled under the direction of the Australian Education Council, which, as everybody knows, is composed of the Education Ministers of all the States. But if all these material needs - what one may call the externa of education - were met, there would still be a crisis in Australian education. What we teach, when we teach it and how we teach it are considerations at least as important as are considerations of who teaches and in what environment he teaches.
In the short time available to me I can only express my very firm belief that the federal ministry of education and science proposed by the Australian Labour Party would give the States very considerable assistance in research into what should be the aims of our educational system, the content of its curricula and syllabuses, teaching methods and methods of assessment. Such a federal educational research programme could do a tremendous amount to make education more relevant to the nation’s needs and to the capacities and abilities of our young citizens.
There is need for a federal educational research centre with, say, curriculum laboratories, teaching method laboratories and laboratories for the study of the best kinds of teaching aids. Research in all these fields could be of great help to our State educational research bodies. In my view, the expenditure of many more millions of pounds on the material requisites of education is desperately urgent. But such expenditure will place on us an even greater responsibility for ensuring that the nation gets the fullest possible value for its money in terms of critically determined educational values and objectives that are subject to frequent review. We can be too preoccupied with spending millions of pounds on buildings and so on. What goes on inside those buildings is surely the most important thing of all. “
Some of my colleagues will discuss in some detail the material problems confront ing our State educational authorities. For my part, I merely want to point out that between 1950 and 1959 the enrolments in all Australian schools increased by 608,000 students, or 42 per cent. In the same period university enrolments increased by 55 per cent. Looking at the enrolments in Australian government primary and secondary schools in 1952 as against 1960 one notes an overall increase of 521,000, or 47 per cent. The really significant part, though, is that whereas primary school enrolments increased by 35 per cent, secondary school enrolments increased by 103 per cent, in that short time.
We are told that the cost of educating a child in the upper secondary school is four times as great as the cost of educating a primary school pupil. Just for good measure authorities assure us that enrolments will keep on increasing at a rate of between 40,000 and 50,000 annually for some years ahead. In face of this phenomenal growth of school population, and mindful of the teacher and classroom shortage which is a legacy of the depression and World War II., is it any wonder that the State governments, even with a total expenditure of £162,500,000 in 1959-60, have had to proclaim, as did the Queensland Premier, Mr. Nicklin, at the Premiers’ Conference -
Undoubtedly, there is an increasing gap between what is needed by the community in the way of education and what the State Government can provide.
In all our debates in this chamber I have never felt that technical education has received anything like the attention that it deserves. Yet, I suppose, technical education has a more immediate impact upon the nation’s material growth than has any other form of education. Despite this. I would venture to say that technical education in Australia to-day is in some ways in more difficulty, comparatively, than are other levels of education. Whereas between 1952-53 and 1958-59 expenditure of revenue by the six Australian States on primary and secondary education combined increased by 80 per cent., and on teacher training by 121 per cent., that on technical education increased by only 64 per cent.
The report “ Some Aspects of Australian Education “ states -
The costs of rebuilding and equipping technical institutions to modem standards are difficult to estimate, but it is anticipated that an expenditure of not less than £13,000,000 is required.
Proportionate to the base year, 1951, the trend of increased enrolments in technical education up to 1960 has been almost consistently steeper than the trend in primary or even second: ry education enrolments. The nation’s need is highlighted by the fact that despite there being thousands of unemployed in Australia we are still seeking artisans from overseas. I can do no better than quote again from the remarks made by the Premier of Queensland at the Premiers’ Conference. He said -
Unless we can take more effective action in the future than has been possible in the past, Australia’s man-power will undoubtedly become relatively less and less adequately equipped to meet the increasing demands of modern times. Such a state of affairs will weaken Australia’s competitive position in the society of nations.
Great Britain, according to the British Central Office of Information statement on technical education in 1959, is recognizing the vital importance of technical education. The British have current plans to spend £100,000,000 on new buildings and equipment for technical colleges in the five-year period ending this year. The eventual aim is for universities and technical colleges together to produce by 1970 more than 20,000 fully qualified scientists and engineers every year. The importance placed on technical education in Russia, Germany and the United States of America is fairly well known. For instance, the numbers of graduates in pure and applied science per million of population in 1954, in various countries, have been estimated to be as follows: -
One feels compelled to agree with Professor Copland in saying that there is no escape from the incessant demands of a technological age whether it be in industry or in agriculture. Having said that, I have to report that in my own experience, as one having trained teachers in technical education for five years before I came to this Parliament, not only are many of our buildings dingy and inadequate, but a good deal of equipment, so important in technical training, is years out of date. Much of the teaching is done by part-time teachers who have never had one hour’s training in the art of teaching. Student failure rates are abnormally high. Our whole apprenticeship system, in my view, needs a complete and thorough overhaul. Above all, the technical teacher and the people who undertake technical training need to be given a much higher status in the community. We just cannot have technical education - or any other type of education for that matter - on the cheap. We have to think of education not as a cost, but as a richly rewarding investment.
Failure to keep up with the technical progress of other countries could have very serious consequences for this nation. I think that there should be a much closer integration of secondary and technical education. In my experience far too much of our secondary schooling lacks realism for the pupils. Too many students not particularly suited to academic work are given too little opportunity to develop their technical talent. Altogether too many schools are barren in regard to suitable equipment. Federal aid must be the solution.
In the few minutes left to me I must indicate my very strong support for a vast extension of the pre-apprenticeship courses taken by some pupils which have been a distinct success in giving fourteen, fifteen and sixteen-year-old boys the whole field of crafts and trades before the student is committed to the selection of a particular field. This makes their eventual selection more reliable. Concurrently with this introduction to the field of technical training the student carries on with some of his general or cultural studies in, say, the English language, English literature, social studies and so on. Everybody connected with technical education has highly recommended this system. I think the system ought to be expanded gradually and there ought to be an integration of secondary and technical education which, to my mind, is lamentably absent to-day. The longer we delay our attack on the problems of education the more formidable and almost frighteningly forbidding they will become. Some sacrifices now will assuredly provide generous rewards of skill and increased national productivity in the future, that will in turn ensure a desirable level of continuing educational investment. On the other hand, if we eat our capital, gone are the chances for developing new and greater productivity. On the one hand we have an urgent need for new schools and colleges, and on the other we have more than 100,000 people out of work, and timber mills idle. Any government that tolerates this cruel situation deserves to be dismissed from office.
.- I think that in the last three or four years when the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department have come up for discussion the main attack has been centred on the Commonwealth Office of Education, the proposed vote for which this year is to be £3,384,000 out of a total of £1 1,461,000 for the Prime Minister’s Department. 1, for one, think that many people in Australia to-day are doing a great disservice to Australian education by constantly referring to a crisis that exists in education. Let us look at the position in regard to Australia as a whole. I think the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) was a member of the Opposition party which investigated education throughout Australia, and he must have found that in some States there was a far greater emphasis on education and its importance than there was in other States. As a teacher in New South Wales he might have found during his visit to Western Australia that he envied many things that we have there. I think the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) was a member of the committee I have mentioned. He must have found the way we staff our schools in Western Australia astonishing when compared with the Victorian method of staffing.
– A Labour Government had a long reign in Western Australia.
– Opposition members always give that as the answer, but in saying it they destroy their own argument. They try to argue that State education is a federal responsibility, but in their journeys around Australia they find that education varies in the States according to whether the State governments are aware of their responsibilities for education. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) proved quite conclusively that the money which Opposition members want the Commonwealth to grant to the States will come naturally through the increased payments to the States under the taxation reimbursement formula and the increased amounts the States will consequently make available for education. The honorable member for Barton referred to the population increase, but any one can take a set of figures and turn them to his own advantage. If the figures relating to population increase since 1945 are compared with the expenditure by the States on education from 1945 onwards, it will be found that they bear a very close resemblance.
I suggest that honorable members look at the Australian education system. In 1945, any one who cried that there was a crisis in education could have proved the point quite conclusively. I remember in 1 946, when I was discharged from the Royal Australian Air Force, my first fortnight’s salary as a high school teacher in the education service of Western Australia was £2 less than the amount that I, as a member of the Air Force, had allotted fortnightly to my wife.
Let us look at what is happening now. In 1946, if a motor car was parked at any school throughout Australia, it belonged to the cleaner or caretaker. The headmaster caught the tram or bus. In those days, the school buildings bore a close resemblance to the gaol or the police station, because they were painted with the same paint. The order of priority on the social scale was the policeman, the gaoler and the schoolteacher. A terrific movement then started to improve the status of teachers. Some people believed that this improvement could be effected with money alone, but that is, of course, quite fallacious. Some of the school buildings to-day are the pride of the cities. In my own State, there used to be only one high school in the metropolitan area of Perth to cater for students to the leaving standard. I do not think I could count all the high schools now; there must be three or four in the electorate of every Western Australian member of this Parliament. I think that, to-day, the expenditure on education in my State is one-fifth of the total budget. So. to talk about a crisis in education is to decry a system that I believe would bear comparison with any system in the world.
The honorable member for Barton told us that the President of the United States of America had made a wonderful move in announcing that he would allocate some millions of dollars to education. I am not certain that this has been approved by Congress. My friend, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Cash) has handed me a copy of the New York “ Times “, of 3rd September, which says -
School Aid Hopes Dim for 1962. President’s Backers Doubt Revival of Bill in this Session of Congress.
– That only shows that America suffers from the same disease.
– That is right, but do not forget, my friend from Wills, that you would not want the American system of education in this country. Under that system, a child who happens to live in an affluent society has everything in the school he needs, but the child who happens to live in a poorer society has nothing he needs in the school. School standards and the salaries of the teachers are determined entirely by the ability of the people in the district to pay. Therefore, there is a terrific difference in the standard of education throughout the United States. On the other hand, in this country, for all the faults of the system and the crisis that Opposition members talk about, it does not matter where a child lives. If he lives in the worst suburb of a metropolitan area or in a country town, the education system is the same, the teacher is trained to the same standard, receives the same salary and has equal opportunities.
– That does not-
– Do not continue to decry our system.
– I am not trying to decry the system.
– Of course you are.
– Do you not think it could be improved?
– The honorable member for Yarra, who is interjecting, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is at the table, are products of our education system, as are most honorable gentlemen in this chamber. People brought up under the normal system of education available to every child in Australia are the equal of people who have had the benefit of any other education system in the world, and the sooner Opposition members stop knocking our system, the better it will be for education in Australia.
I think a debate on this section of the Estimates would be better devoted to a discussion of the money that has been made available for tertiary education. The sums provided by this Government are greater than the sums provided for universities by any government in the history of Australia. But our universities still have a problem, and that is the problem of first year enrolments and first year failures. This is a matter that could well be discussed here; the exchange of ideas would be of benefit to the university students and, I am sure, to the honorable member for Barton, who is interested to talk about the crisis in education. As I mentioned before, the situation varies from State to State. At page 22 of its report, the committee on Australian universities said -
We were told, too, that in New South Wales a study of the records of pupils leaving school on reaching the statutory age of IS years, indicates that a considerable proportion of them possessed the general mental ability which one encounters among under-graduates successfully studying at university.
I think the accent should be on how we can get into the universities those students who can take the greatest advantage of what is offered. I have figures to show the wastage that occurs, and I hope I can produce them without delaying the committee for too long. Of every 100 students who entered a university in a particular year - these figures, were taken over six universities - only 61 passed the first year examination; only 35 graduated in the minimum time and only 58 graduated or are expected to graduate at all. Additional evidence supplied by each university confirmed this finding.
– You are knocking Australian education.
– No, I am not at all. What I am seeking is some method that would enable the universities, which are being staffed and maintained at great cost to the Commonwealth Government, to spend their money where it would do the most good. Obviously if 40 out of every 100 students who enter a university do not proceed beyond the first year, there is a waste of effort, experience and ability.
I remember that in 1958 - the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) may also remember this - I spoke to the Dean of the University of Tokyo in Tokyo. I asked him what their failure rate was in the first year. Though he spoke perfect English, he had my question translated into Japanese. He then said to me. “ I thought 1 had misunderstood you. We do not have any failures; people do not come here to fail.” We walked into the library, where there were some 200 students. The room was flood-lit by television lights, but not one student lifted his head to see what was happening. That is the sort of application that puts a country ahead. Extra grants from the Commonwealth are not necessary to beat this so-called crisis, as Opposition members label it. What is needed is the adaptability and the initiative of the students. I think it will be found that any student at a university, who is prepared to keep his head down and tail up and who will take advantage of what is offered, will not fail. In such circumstances, we would have nothing to worry about for the future of this country.
It is easy to say that troubles occur because money is not available. What State Premier would not use money if it were given to him? Only in the last two weeks when my own State was fortunate enough to get a few million pounds for a railway, the rest of Australia, instead of applauding it as a matter of great national importance, quarrelled about it. Every State asked why it could not have some of this money. The question was raised as to whether Queensland had received as good a deal as Western Australia had or whether South Australia had been left out in the cold. I think that one subject we should teach in our schools is how to be an Australian citizen and not a State citizen - especially when Western Australia is receiving favorable treatment.
The last thing I want to say to the Opposition is this: If you press for Commonwealth aid for education, then make it clear that you aTe going to press for assistance for the education of all the community, because at the present time in Australia a very large section - I think 20 per cent, in primary schools and 25 per cent, in the secondary schools - is getting no assistance from anybody. The parents are meeting the cost of the education of those children, and the real crisis has occurred, not in the governmentowned schools but in the privately owned schools. Any talk of assistance to education throughout the Commonwealth will have to take into account the assistance to the privately owned schools which are taking a burden off the backs of the State governments and are doing a magnificent job for the community.
.- One of the more disappointing features of a discussion of this kind is that the Liberal Party and its members just seem to be unable to face this matter as a national issue. I agree completely with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) when he says that we must approach it as Australians. That is undeniably what the Australian Labour Party does. Every time there is a discussion on this matter that fact is obvious. We on this side of the chamber choose this topic because, first, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has always been in the House on the occasion of such discussions and, secondly, any aspect of education comes under his department. Thirdly, the Prime Minister is the man who holds the power and the initiative to do something about the matter. It is not a question of knocking Australian education; it is not that we are concerned with State rights. We are concerned with Australia’s greatest national investment - the skills, brains, the hearts and the minds of its people. That lies principally, in the first instance in the schools - primary, secondary and tertiary. That is why we take up the challenge on every possible occasion.
The honorable member for Perth seems to be quite happy with the situation. So far as my reading of the situation goes, and so far as I can determine from reading the report of the meeting between the Premiers and the Prime Minister, that is not the way the Premiers look at it. It appears that the case submitted to the Prime Minister at the Premiers’ Conference in Canberra was a unanimous opinion. Apparently the Premier of Western Australia agreed with it, but apparently the honorable member for Perth does not agree with him. Let us examine Australian education in the light in which the honorable member for Perth wishes to do. In other words, are we facing up to our national and international responsibility?
– How much would you spend?
– The honorable member for Wide Bay, who is most appropriately named, always turns his mind to money. “We want the Government to accept the responsibility of organizing the education structure to the best of its ability, to give it greater social priority and greater status statistically so that we can look the world in the face. I do not propose to use a lot of statistics - I have not time to do so in a debate of this nature - but I know full well that honorable members opposite can read as well as I can. Whether they can absorb or learn anything from what they read is a different matter.
Here are the basic facts and figures under the heading “ International Statistics relating to Education, Culture and Mass Communication “, produced by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. This is the last issue that is available in the Parliamentary Library and it is dated 1958. Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The Prime Minister, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and all those on the Government side are always saying so. I understand that we run fourth or fifth in the world in respect of national income per head of population. Therefore, we should be running well up with the leaders in education.
Let us take some of the simple statistics from this booklet. First, the percentage of Australians in the fifteen to nineteen years age group attending school is 38 per cent. But one has only to turn to page 26 of this booklet to find that the percentage in Israel is 50 per cent. In Japan - a country that the honorable member for Perth and many others helped to defeat not long ago - - the percentage is running to 90 per cent., and it is 94 per cent, in some other countries. If you study the figures for Europe and take these statistics as a simple measure of our progress in education, you find that we lag behind equivalent countries in the rest of the world. I am not sure where we stand.
– What are these percentages?
– These are the percentages of those in the age group from fifteen to nineteen in schools. These are statistics which provide a simple measure. If the governments of this country have created a great opportunity for the citizens, a fair measure is to take the proportion of its children who are reaching higher education. If we lag in that simple measure, we are lagging behind equivalent countries. We are even lagging behind countries we defeated only fifteen years ago.
Then let us take for a measure the number of pupils to each teacher. In Australia, the figure runs at 32, but this booklet shows that most countries of Europe have better figures. For example, the number of pupils to each teacher in Finland is 28; in the West German Democratic Republic the figure is 25, in West Berlin 30, in Denmark 24, in Iceland 26, and so on. In the simple statistical ratio of pupils to each teacher, we lag behind other countries.
I shall now examine the percentage of our national income spent on education. It may well be that our teachers in this chamber are evidence that the teachers of Australia are of such a high order of competence that with less expenditure per head we can obtain better results than other countries; but I think that is a doubtful proposition. We spend 2.3 per cent, of our national income on education; but Sweden spends 2.5 per cent., Switzerland 2.7, France 3.4 and Denmark 3.6 per cent. These are three measures which, just looking at the statistics, I would be inclined to use in order to see whether we are running with the leaders. It is obvious that we are not. So on that question, I believe, as an ordinary Australian, that we should feel concerned about whether we are giving education a reasonably high social priority in this community.
The honorable member for Perth also ignored the great differences between the States. When he was speaking, I mentioned by way of interjection that Western Australia had the advantage of a long term of Labour government. We have come to the stage where the pressure inside communities is so great that even Liberal governments are facing up to responsibilities as long as somebody else has placed them squarely on their shoulders.
– What about New South Wales?
– New South Wales and Victoria are comparable, so you can relate one to the other. According to the Commissioner of Taxation, Victoria is the wealthiest State and it has had Liberal or anti-Labour governments for almost the 100 years of representative government. This is a fair measure of whether your governments are offering equal and fair opportunities to the people. In New South Wales last year there were 21,000 students in universities. In Victoria, with three-quarters of the population of New South Wales, there were only 1 1 ,000 university students. Last year, and almost every year for the past nine or ten years, almost 50 per cent, of the children who took matriculation in Australia were in New South Wales, which has had a Labour Government for twenty years. This is a fair measure of the effort that is being put into education and the status that the Labour Party gives to education as a priority. ft is a long-term business. If you intend to alter the education structure of Australia, you will have to turn on it some of the dynamics that are being used in the Australian Capital Territory through the National Capital Development Commission. These are to us simple propositions. This is not necessarily a challenge to the Government for its sins of omission or commission, but simply an invitation to the Prime Minister, with all the resources of the nation in his hands, to give to the people of Australia an education system worthy of its name.
Why is it that honorable members on the Government side cannot face the fundamental fact of the school-leaving age? Why is it that other countries who have not our wealth can have a school-leaving age of sixteen to eighteen years? Why is it that Tasmania has a school-leaving age of sixteen when it is fifteen in New South Wales, and in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia it is still only fourteen years? Any person with a sense of Australianism will realize that it is our duty in the Commonwealth Parliament, as Australians, to give every opportunity to young Australians, no matter whether they live in Darwin, Alice Springs, Melbourne, Sydney or Perth.
These are simple, fundamental facts to which the Labour Party turns its attention.
We know that we have a responsibility on education. That is why we feel that it is up to this Government, with the resources at its disposal, to take up the challenge. We are not concerned simply with the matter of university education, although in this field also my contentions are supported by the fact that in New South Wales there are three universities and two university colleges, while in Victoria, where there is greater wealth per head of population, a second university is still in process of establishment and it is getting off to a slow and struggling start. It would not be doing too well if it were not for Commonwealth assistance.
What are we going to do about the higher echelons of technical education in Australia - for instance, at the secondary level? What are we going to do to give every student equality of opportunity in the sphere of secondary education? The Labour Party has accepted the challenge. It has said that it will introduce a bursary system for secondary education. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) and the other mercenaries opposed to us will say, “ Where is the money coming from? “. They have said that in respect of every social change since the dawn of time. We think that any person conscious of his duty in this community should face up to the problems.
There are many matters connected with education to which the Commonwealth could direct its attention. It is more heavily involved in education than any State Government is. The only research university in Australia is in a Territory of the Commonwealth. The influence of the Commonwealth runs through the whole field of education, right down to the pre-school centres in this capital city. It has under its trusteeship in Papua and New Guinea more children of school age than has any State in the Commonwealth except, perhaps, New South Wales. The Commonwealth should be conscious of these facts. When we discuss education in this Parliament, we are not indulging in any exotic debate. It is not a matter of stepping into the treasured preserves of State sovereignty. Only a few months ago, the Prime Minister gave a reply to a question I asked him in this Parliament on notice. It is recorded in “Hansard”, of 11th April, 1961, and it runs to 21 pages, giving the educational activities of various Commonwealth departments. These activities range over the whole educational field. Some Commonwealth departments have tremendous enterprises engaged in giving training of one kind or another. For instance, in 1959, the Post Office spent £3,750,000 on technical training of staff. lt is for these reasons that I say that Commonwealth interest in education does not involve trespassing in the fields of State sovereignty. It is a matter of faithfully discharging the responsibilities that the Commonwealth has accepted. The Labour Party believes that there should be a Ministry of Education, and that all these threads of effort in the educational sphere should be brought together under one head. We believe that the responsibility should be firmly pinned down. It is not a question whether the Prime Minister has the capacity to handle these matters; it is simply that the various questions involved can only be resolved by one person accepting final responsibility in this Parliament.
In the last few minutes available to me I would like to mention some matters to which the Commonwealth Government and, perhaps, the Prime Minister should give some attention on the departmental level, without trespassing in any way upon State sovereignty. Imagine what could be done in education with such ancillary services as television. I have a book before me at the moment which gives an account of the use of television in education in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Japan. It devotes not a single page to discussing any developments in Australia in the use of television in education. The field of television is one which is solely within the control of the Commonwealth. I agree wholeheartedly with the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) that it is in the sphere of educational research and co-ordination that the Commonwealth could well take a hand anc’ do a great job. As I said before, there are many disconnected threads of education which should be brought together. There are too many differences and discrepancies between the practices of the various States. There are many aspects of education developing overseas which could be taken up by the Commonwealth. 1 hope that the Prime Minister will accept this proffered advice in the spirit in which it is given. I hope he will accept it as coming from people interested in education, from Australians who are concerned that all Australian students should have equal opportunities, and that Australian education systems should be worthy of this nation. We believe that education is so important that we should not have the spectacle of the State Premiers coming here and pleading for more assistance. There is no need for me to repeat the statements made in this place by the various Premiers; they are available for honorable members to read. I can tell the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) that we are not jumping on any band-wagon. This question has been raised by honorable members on this side of the House from time to time ever since I entered the Parliament. In 1945 it was a Labour Government that took the initiative and brought the Commonwealth more actively into the field of education. We speak as Australians, and we appeal to the Prime Minister, as an Australian Prime Minister, to accept the challenge to leave his mark in the various other fields of education as effectively as he has done in that of university education.
.- Once again the annual debate on education is taking place during our discussion of the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. On these occasions the right honorable gentleman himself comes into the House and, with eloquent boredom, sits here listening to lesser mortals - of course, in his assumption, all other mortals are lesser - until finally he rises ponderously to his feet and puts us all right once more for a further twelve months. I anticipate that before very long he will again rise ponderously to his feet and again put us right for another twelve months. I have listened to four or five speeches to-night, and I have wondered when we are to be honoured with the Prime Minister’s distinguished contribution.
Several significant questions have been raised in this debate. The first is: What is the attitude of the State Premiers and the State governments to the question of the provision of Commonwealth finance for education? This is a most significant question. When it was raised in 1958 the Prime
Minister told us that the Australian Constitution precluded the Commonwealth Government from providing direct financial aid for education, and that the States were responsible to provide the money for this purpose. In 1959 the right honorable gentleman added to that statement, saying that none of the State Premiers had requested assistance. I think that was correct, up to that point. As far as I was aware, no State Premier had, until that stage, made any positive request for a change in the situation in which the responsibility for spending money rested with the States, while the responsibility for raising it and distributing it to the States, through grants of various kinds, rested upon the Federal Government. But is that still the position? Is it not a fact that at the recent Premiers’ Conference the Premier of New South Wales, speaking either for himself or for a majority of the Premiers, said -
At this stage J ask the Commonwealth to accept the principle of assisting the Slates in these directions and to agree to establish a committee to investigate and to make an up-to-date assessment of the needs of primary, secondary and technical education on a national basis, and to suggest a long-term basis of assistance. Such an inquiry would necessarily take some time. In view of the urgency of the present situation, I also ask the Commonwealth to agree to make some special assistance as an interim measure. This, I suggest, could be based on the position as disclosed in the statement prepared by the Australian Education Council. We would be happy to co-operate with the other States and the Commonwealth in formulating firm proposals.
I would like to know whether this course appeals to the Commonwealth. Did or did not the Premier of New South Wales make that statement at the last Premiers’ Conference? Was he or was he not supported by the other Premiers? Has the position changed or has it not changed in relation to the attitude of the State Premiers? If that is the attitude of at least one of them, what is the attitude of the Commonwealth, and what is its reaction to the suggestion?
The amendment introduced and moved by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) arises directly from the remarks of the Premier of New South Wales that I have cited. The honorable member moved -
That the vote for the Prime Minister’s Department be reduced by £1 because the Government has failed to comply with the unanimous request of the Premiers to establish a committee to investi gate and assess the needs of primary, secondary and technical education on a national basis, to suggest a long-term basis of assistance and to make some special assistance as an interim measure.
The words in this amendment are almost exactly the words of the Premier of New South Wales. Let us have no technical arguments about whether all the Premiers agreed precisely’ with the words of the Premier of New South Wales. At least one Premier has made this specific statement and I understand that at least four others agreed with it. Furthermore, probably all six were in agreement with the spirit of it.
Will the Government respond to this request to set up a committee to investigate the needs of primary, secondary and technical education? Will it suggest a longterm basis of assistance, and will it grant some special assistance as an interim measure? Those questions are being asked clearly and positively, and we expect an answer from the right honorable gentleman or from some one on his behalf.
The second point I want to stress at this stage relates to whether sufficient money is being provided for education. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) argued that it was. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) criticized every one who suggested that there is a crisis in education in this country. I think that term has been used for far too long. It is becoming hackneyed, and we would be wise to stop using it because it has been used for ten years to my knowledge. It has been supported by practically every educationalist in this country and has been repeated so often that people are beginning to take no notice of it. What is the situation? The Australian Education Council recently published a statement. This council is no insignificant body. It consists of representatives of parents and teachers organizations from all over Australia, and includes also State Ministers for Education. So it is a representative body which, in the opinion of the State governments and those people who take an active interest in this subject, knows the requirements of education. This is what the council said, among other things -
There is an increasing gap between the needs and demands of the community for education and what Stale governments can provide. At the present time schools are short of teachers: many teachers are inadequately trained and qualified for the job they are asked to do; States are rinding it difficult to provide the new accommodation needed; there is a large and growing accumulation of makeshift, sub-standard and obsolete school accommodation, and equipment and supplies of all kinds are required in increasing quantities.
Is that, or is that not, a sound statement? Any one who knows the educational system which operates in most States knows that that is a sound statement, and that the requirements of education, even at the existing level, are not being met in this country. The statement continues in this way -
Unless more effective action can be taken for the future than has been possible in the past, Australia’s man-power will be relatively less and less adequately qualified to meet the increasing demands of modern times.
That is a statement of a committee consisting of representatives of parents and teachers organizations all over Australia, and of the six State Ministers for Education. When I compare the statement made by the council with tho_e of the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Perth, I know which I am prepared to accept. At the conclusion of its statement the council has recommended, and has summarized, particular financial propositions. It states that expenditure for the future can be divided into two main types; first, the expenditure required for maintaining present standards, and secondly, the expenditure required for effecting desirable improvements. The council also states that in respect of both these categories, expenditure can be divided into running costs and capital costs.
With regard to the first category, which is expenditure required for maintaining the present standards, the council states that running costs additional to 1958-59 expenditure should be £4,800,000, rising over five years to £27,200,000, and that capital costs should be £22,500,000 annually. For effecting desirable improvements, running costs additional to 1958-59 expenditure should be £14,600,000 annually and capital costs £48,000,000 annually.
Let us compare those figures with the amounts that actually have been provided for expenditure on education in recent years. Let us take only the amount that is required to maintain existing standards, namely, an annual capital expenditure of £22,500,000. In 1958-59 £6,500,000 was provided in advance of the previous year. In 1957-58 some £8,100,000 was provided in advance of 1956-57. In that year the increase was £7,800,000. In 1955-56 the increase was £10,600,000, in 1954-55 the increase was £8,100,000 and in 1953-54 it was £3,900,000. The amount required for running expenses commences at £4,800,000 in the current year, and rises to £27,200,000 in five years. Never in any one year in the past have we provided more than one-half of the requirement that the council considers necessary to maintain existing standards. I fail to understand how any one can be so ignorant and so lacking in concern as to state in this House that any one who claims that educational needs in Australia are not being paid for adequately is not doing the right thing.
The Australian Labour Party has not been interested in knocking Australian education when debates on this matter have taken place over the years. I have a great deal more pride in our public school system - by which I mean the system that is run by the Government - than have a good many members on the other side of the chamber, most of whom look to private schools to exhibit their pride and confidence. I look to the schools that are run by the State governments, and I will take second place to no one in my pride in that system. I shall continue to come into this place and require seriously that we recognize the deficiencies and defects in the State education system. We do not regard every word of criticism as a knock at the Australian educational system. The knockers are those who will not take proper account of the need for improvement. The knockers are those who look to private schools as the schools of greatest excellence, and they are found in a majority on the other side of this chamber.
We have made two main points in this debate. The first is that the State Premiers, or some of them, have now submitted a request for action by the Commonwealth Government which the Commonwealth Government can no longer ignore; and the second is that inadequate funds have been provided for education over the last ten years and longer under all Commonwealth governments. We do not need to distinguish between one government and another.
Having established these propositions, a third one must be met. No doubt the Government will submit that if more money is to be provided for all the requirements to which the Labour Party gives a high priority, inflation may well result. That is not a satisfactory submission to make at this stage. Perhaps when prices were rising by 24 per cent, or 15 per cent, or 10 per cent, a year during the administration of this Government and we had a degree of inflation that has never been equalled in this country, it was legitimate for the Government to claim that the needs of education could not be further met without the risk of inflation. That was the situation upon which the Government relied for year after year, but it cannot rely on that argument now when over 100,000 people are fully unemployed, when enormous excess capacity exists in industry, and when there is an enormous volume of unsold stocks. This Government can lean no longer on inflation to excuse its unwillingness to go further to meet the essential needs of this country. I do not know that that point can be any more clearly demonstrated. If honorable members and the community are not prepared to accept the position now, there is nothing that I or any one else can say to convince them.
I leave the debate at this stage hoping that the right honorable gentleman opposite has sufficiently abandoned his boredom and eloquent unconcern with what has taken place so far in this debate to put us right.
– I was very interested indeed to hear the views expressed by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr Cairns) and to note his very deep interest in education. I do not suppose there is any one in this chamber who, over the years that he has been in it, has taken a more keen and practical interest in this subject than I have. I suppose that by reason of my former associations with education I have been kept fairly closely advised from time to time, by those who quite rightly have an intense interest in the development of education upon sound and productive lines. By “ productive lines “ I mean that education in this country shall be so organized that it will enable the money spent and the labour put into it to achieve the best results.
If I followed the honorable member aright in his argument, he was bitterly criticizing this Government because it had not provided more money for education and, particularly, for the secondary and primary stages of education. I have expressed my opinion freely in this chamber that the present Government has shown an awareness of the importance of education to an extent that no previous government in this Commonwealth has ever done. I say that without the slightest hesitation or, for that matter, any fear of reasonable contradiction. Consider what the position of the universities was a short time ago, dependent as they were upon the annual votes and the assistance of the States, and the position the universities are in to-day, first as the result of the Murray committee’s report and the implementation thereof by this Government and, secondly, by the later Australian Universities Commission’s report and the very generous assistance given to the universities, both in buildings for residences for staff and equipment. One cannot but be impressed by the fact that the Government has shown, as I have said, an awareness of the importance of education, particularly in the university sphere.
I quite realize that it is not possible for any government to meet every request from every section of the community immediately it is made. The reason for that is obvious. You must adjust your economy, your finance and the will of your people to do certain things, so that those things may be done. Let us now look at the complaint which has been put forward by the Parents and Citizens Federation and by the New South Wales Teachers Federation, as far as my contacts are concerned and, for that matter, by the Australian organizations of teachers. Their complaint is that not sufficient money is made available for education by the Commonwealth. T have expressed my opinion and from that opinion I do not move to-night. I do not try to evade the fact that I have insisted, in my speeches in this House and elsewhere, that the important thing is that the education system must be balanced. If there is not sufficient strength in the foundations, then the superstructure will begin to show cracks. What that means, when you apply your thought to it, is that unless primary education is producing sufficient secondary people and the secondary people are sufficiently trained to take up the running in the universities either as graduates or, subsequently, as teachers, lecturers or professors it will find, as has been found elsewhere, that the system itself will begin to crack under the strain. The money spent on tertiary education will to a large extent be affected by that. What is the charge against this Government? It is that it does not provide more money.
I am not speaking of something I do not know. I know perfectly well that only the States have in their possession all the facts on which to present a documented case to the Commonwealth Government about why special assistance should be granted for the other sections of education. Have they done so over the years? As a matter of fact, I believe that within the last two years the Premiers turned the proposal down, and why they did so was quite clear to me. The Premiers did not want to have any tags attached to the moneys which are allocated by way of tax reimbursements and grants. They wanted to be able to spend them - perhaps in New South Wales in buying up the Balmain electricity supply, or what you will. The Premiers did not want to commit themselves to say, “ We will spend £X millions on education “. It is only recently, I believe - since the Premier of New South Wales, himself a very distinguished Minister for Education, has managed to get the State authorities together on the subject and document a case to put forward to show why there should be a special allocation for education - that that has been done.
It is no use blaming the Commonwealth Government. It is not going to hand out millions in addition to the amounts granted or agreed upon at the Australian Loan Council. It is not going to hand millions out without some assurance that what I think is quite rightly described as urgent will be attended to and that the money will be spent on education as agreed upon. So it comes back to this point: If the States are to get the assistance that they ask for and which, having regard to the tremendous growth of our juvenile population I believe they can make a good claim to, they must be able to put down a documented case which the experts of this Commonwealth can look at. Having done so they must be prepared to enter into an agreement like the Commonwealth aid roads agreement or the housing agreement, saying specifically that that money will be spent on education, but with the proviso that if that money is made available to them they will not cut down their own allocations. I rose to speak on this subject because there has been so much hot air and misrepresentation and so much misunderstanding by people who are really keenly interested in education that I felt I should say something about it.
.- Mr. Chairman, I always take pleasure in participating in a debate with the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond). Most of my own primary, secondary and tertiary education took place when he was Minister for Education in New South Wales. He was a very great Minister between the wars. He is the father of the first university to be founded away from a capital city.
I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). He (has raised a subject which concerns the greatest single body of people in Australia. One-third of our population is under sixteen years of age. It is at least 40 years since there has been such a high percentage of Australians under sixteen years of age. One can therefore say that the honorable member for Hughes is asking the committee to consider the future of that quarter of Australia’s population which is now at school. We have for many years now debated in the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department the anomaly that whereas the Commonwealth assists tertiary education, at least in the universities, by grants to the States for salaries and buildings and by scholarships to a certain number of students, it gives no similar assistance by scholarships, or by State grants, for any other form of education. The Prime Minister has fought a resolute rearguard action on this matter and the last of the props upon which he has relied has now been struck away. He was at last forced to take refuge in the claim that the State Premiers have never sought assistance for education outside the university field. But they have now. They all have. The honorable member for Hughes now makes us declare whether we will reject their unanimous and urgent plea.
The Premiers are not unmindful of their responsibilities in education, which is the greatest field that the States still administer. They are not unmindful of what they regard as their achievements in that field. They are slow indeed to admit that such a large field of their activities is beyond their unaided endeavours. But they have now come to that point. At the Premiers’ Conference last June, the Premier of New South Wales, a man whose period as Minister for Education and whose achievements as Minister for Education exceed only those of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), presented to that conference, on behalf of all the Premiers, a statement on the needs of education in Australia. He quoted facts relating to the shortage of school buildings, the insufficient number of adequately trained teachers, and the limitations in the provision of equipment and supplies. He then made this request to the Prime Minister -
At this stage, Mr. Prime Minister, I ask the Commonwealth to accept the principle of assisting the Stales in these directions and to agree to establish a committee to investigate and to make an up-to-date assessment of the needs of primary, secondary and technical education on a national basis, and to suggest a long-term basis of assistance. Such an inquiry would necessarily take some time. In view of the urgency of the present situation, I also ask the Commonwealth to agree to make some special assistance as an interim measure. This, I suggest, could be based on the position as disclosed in the statement prepared by the Australian Education Council. We would be happy to co-operate with the other States and the Commonwealth in formulating firm proposals. I have already said that the States have done all that they can with their available resources. I feel sure that the other Premiers will agree with me when I say that the situation calls for a special allocation of funds by the Commonwealth.
That is just a general statement on the situation; perhaps it has been just a little longer that you wished. But in the spheres of education to which
I have referred we have reached the stage that was reached in relation to tertiary and university education when a commission was set up by you, Mr. Prime Minister. That commission examined our education needs very closely. Something was done which transformed the whole university set-up.
The Premier of Victoria stated -
The Premier of New South Wales was invited on behalf of the State Premiers to present their case to you at this conference …. I think that one aspect of education should have special attention. That is technical education …. I support the case presented by Mr. Heffron . . . . I think that if the Federal Government would look at this one aspect of education and provide a special fund for assistance in some way, that would do much to help all concerned.
The Premier of Queensland stated -
My Government supports the case put forward on behalf of the education council by Mr. Heffron.
The Premier of South Australia, who did not endorse the statement sent by the Australian Education Council in March to the Prime Minister, said on this occasion -
I support the remarks of the other Premiers in connexion with this matter … I concur with what Mr. Heffron has said. Any amounts that the Commonwealth can make available to the States for assistance in education, I can assure him, will be most faithfully applied and will be most beneficial in their effects.
The Premier of Western Australia said -
I should like to support the submissions made by the previous speakers for Commonwealth consideration of emergency grants to the States for the purpose of overcoming the lag which exists in the provision of school facilities . . . The assistance granted to the universities is enabling them to overcome the deficiencies which exist in that field of education. I believe that only by a similar approach to secondary and technical education will the back-lag that now exists in the provision of services in these branches be overcome.
Finally, the Premier of Tasmania stated -
I agree with the other Premiers in their support of the submission made by the Premier of New South Wales … I support the submission that an inquiry similar to that conducted by the Murray Committee should be made into those aspects of education, because this is a field from which we are gathering many university students, and I often wonder whether all the secondary students who should eventually be attending universities are getting to them. … I support the views that have been stated by the other Premiers.
The Prime Minister made a statement on this matter in the House in August, 1958. In it, he gave various reasons why the Commonwealth should not extend its assistance in education to fields outside the universities. The first reason he gave was that the Commonwealth had become involved in the university field because his Government had inherited the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. That scheme, however, was not limited to university students; in fact, it permitted any ex-serviceman to complete any education which had been interrupted by his war service.
The Prime Minister gave as his second reason - three years ago - that the Commonwealth had already embarked on the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme. He omitted to state that when his Government came into office there were recommendations for both secondary and technical scholarship schemes as well as a university scholarship scheme, but that his Government abandoned the former and proceeded with the latter. The third reason he gave was that the Premiers had not sought help for schools. That reason, of course, no longer obtains.
Then, in March, 1959, Mr. Hawke, the then Premier of Western Australia, asked for an inquiry by a committee such as the Murray committee into other forms of education. The Prime Minister’s reaction was that this would cost a lot of money and that he was against it: but that he would send written replies to the Premiers.
At the next Premiers’ Conference, in June, 1959, Mr. Cahill, the late Premier of New South Wales, asked when the reply would be forthcoming. The Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) promised that he would send it, and, on 2nd July, the reasons for the refusal were sent. They consisted largely in the fact that the States had, through loans and through State grants, adequate resources for their activities, including education, and, secondly, that universities had for historical reasons become a concern of the Commonwealth, but primary, secondary and technical education were still a State responsibility.
Then, when speaking to the Estimates two years ago, the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade again gave reasons. He said that all the Premiers had invited Commonwealth help for the universities and that universities were autonomous institutions. He forgot that although the Commonwealth makes grants for roads, railways and hospitals, in all these respects the State departments still run their own affairs.
Last year, the Prime Minister himself answered on this subject and confined himself to two reasons. The first was that the Premiers were content with their loans and new tax reimbursements, and, secondly, that the Commonwealth would be interfering in State administration if it were to show any interest in education outside the autonomous universities.
– Would you mind telling me at what page that appears? I should like to check you very frequently.
– It was on the 7th September, 1960. The States have made as great resources available for education as they can, but their resources are no longer adequate for the purpose. Since 1948-49. the last year for which a Labour government was wholly responsible, the funds available to the States for all purposes have quadrupled, but the amount of money which the States have spent on education since 1948-49 has increased, not by 300 per cent., but by 470 per cent. The States now recognize that they cannot meet the demands of education. In asking for an inquiry into this matter we are, in fact, only pursuing the attitude which the Prime Minister himself took in the House on 26th July, 1945. Perhaps the right honorable gentleman would like to check this also.
– No. I remember that speech. I did not remember the other.
– On this occasion the Prime Minister asked the House to express the opinion -
Shortly after that the government of the day set up the Commonwealth Office of Education, which was proportionately the greatest victim of the retrenchment in 1951.
Since I must confine my remarks to a quarter of an hour I conclude on a matter which is indubitably a Commonwealth responsibility, the provision of benefits to students. The Commonwealth has confined these benefits to students at the universities and the proportion of assistance which the Commonwealth is giving for that purpose is constantly declining. In 1953 the smallest number of students entered the universities since the war. Since then, there has been a very steady increase in the number of university students and a decline in the proportion of Commonwealth scholars.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- A few years ago, a very famous Frenchman, Marshall Foch, then a colonel, delivered a remarkable set of lectures on the principles of war, to the French Academy of Military Science. One statement that he made is worth repeating. It was that a same attitude of mind will result in a same way of seeing and that from this same way of seeing will arise a same way of acting. This principle should be applied to the debate that we. have heard so far from the Opposition, and particularly to their quotations from the views of the Premiers.
Over recent years the State Premiers and members of the Opposition - while they have been in Opposition - have come to adopt the attitude that the Federal Government is a milking cow. You have but to squeeze to get milk. It is quite easy to see why the Premiers are in agreement on what must be done for education. Naturally, they would welcome every bit of money that we could give to them. Obviously, the more we can give them the more they can reduce their expenditure On education and apply it to other departmental activities.
I think that certain facts have escaped the notice of the Opposition. If you accept the principle that the Commonwealth must be the milking cow for every conceivable purpose under the sun, you imply that the States should become merely appendages, surrendering all sovereign rights. This would result in having one government in Australia, which is precisely the policy of the Opposition. Opposition members have never made any bones about that. At all times, the Opposition will jump on any band-wagon which can assist in the achievement of their objective of one government for Australia.
I have not heard from the Premiers nor from the Opposition any suggestion that the States should take back their own taxing powers. I have not heard it suggested that section 105a of the Commonwealth
Constitution concerning financial agreements should be eliminated and that the States should be responsible for raising the money that they so madly and badly desire the Commonwealth to find for them. Let us remember that in this financial year the Commonwealth Parliament will extract from the pockets of the Australian taxpayers slightly under £2,000,000,000, every penny of which is committed. Most of it, apart from social services and a small percentage for defence, will meet the requirements of the States.
This question of responsibility for education strikes at the fundamental problem of whether or not we are to retain our States - whether or not the Commonwealth Government is to be forever the sole raiser of revenue. It is quite easy for members of the Opposition to get up here and attack the Government for not desiring to do this, that and the other thing. The charge that we are cold-blooded indifferent people who could not care less what happens to the rest of the people and that only the Opposition contains humanitarians is a lot of arrant nonsense and political propaganda. The Opposition knows this. Believe me, if any government could find a way to make more and more money available for the maximum development of this country in all aspects, including education, it is perfectly obvious that it would do so.
Do the people of Australia accept this rather stupid and inane contention of the Opposition that the Commonwealth Government believes it should give money to nobody? Do honorable members opposite think that the Australian people are so foolish as to believe the Opposition’s assertion that this Government is completely uninterested in age pensions, social services and education? The one proposition that the Opposition has not advanced is the proposition that those who want all these additional things done, and all the extra expenditure, should put more effort into their work in return for every £1. that they receive.
I agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) who, earlier this evening, made the important point that what matters is not the number of students who are going into the universities or even into the secondary schools but the amount of work that the students are doing. The expenditure of millions of pounds will not increase the capacity of one person to do a thing if that person has no intention of doing that thing. I think that we have to regard the Opposition’s ac.ion in putting forward its present case as one more attempt - and a desperate attempt at that - to kid the people of Australia, in an election year, that only a Labour government can give the people what they want. We know, of course, that the truth is different from that claim. Humanitarianism is not the sole prerogative of the Opposition or of any one political party. There is not one honorable member who, deep down, does not believe in striving to do everything that he can possibly do to help everybody in this community. But we have to be realists. We have to acknowledge the fact that Premiers will at all times demand more money and, if they can, seize on one particular means of getting more money from the Commonwealth in order to relieve them of the responsibility for making certain expenditure through one department, hoping that they can spend their own money in some other way. It is logical and natural for them to attempt to do that.
Everything that the Opposition puts up amounts to a cry for more and ever more money from the Commonwealth. I repeat that we will, this financial year, extract from the pockets of the taxpayers of Australia - we have a population of fewer than 1 1 ,000,000 people, and not all of them are taxpayers - in one way or another the fantastic sum of just under £2,000,000,000 for expenditure throughout Australia. In addition, under the terms of section 105a of the Australian Constitution, the Commonwealth Government accepts the full constitutional responsibility, as it is bound to do, for raising loan money for expenditure by the States in various fields, including education. If any of the States were to default, the Commonwealth would be responsible for finding the money to make good the default.
Let us have a little common sense in this debate, Mr. Temporary Chairman. Let us keep a sense of proportion in these matters. I remind the Australian people again that humanitarianism is not something that stems solely from the Opposition.
There is not one honorable member in this chamber who would not give his right arm to make money available for all the things for which money is badly needed. But we have to face the realities of the situation, including the size of our population, the fact that there is a limit to the money that can be obtained, and the fact that political considerations require taxes to be kept as low as possible. Our proposal to raise just under £2,000,000,000 this financial year shows that we are not doing too bad a job. We are not satisfied with the job that we are doing. We want to do more, and we shall strive to do more. But let us put the whole thing in its proper perspective.
I regard ;he Opposition’s case this evening as sheer political cant and humbug put forward merely for election purposes. If honorable members opposite sat on the government benches, they would face exactly the same financial problems and difficulties as we face, but they would not be able to do as good a job for the people of Australia as we are doing.
.- 1 suppose that a person is in a bad way when he thinks, as does the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby), that anybody who disagrees with him is a fool and a hypocrite. The honorable member has asked us to consider the very important question of the sovereignty of the States and, at the same time, to dismiss with contempt the considered opinions of the Premiers of the States. At one and the same time, the honorable member says that the States are responsible entities which must be allowed to deal with education, and that the Premiers of the States are merely cheap propagandists when they make statements on the subject of education. Such an argument does not appear to me to be logical.
The Commonwealth Government, in the very considerable incursions into the field of university education which it has undertaken, has made perfectly clear that what it is interested in is national efficiency. I believe that the present Government’s policy of assisting the universities has made possible enormous advances in Australia’s national efficiency, the effect of which will be felt in the future. I for one will never seek to take from the Government any credit for its inquiries into the needs of the universities and its assistance to them.
The question of the taxpayers which was raised by the honorable member for Griffith is an important one. This Parliament has no right to tax any person for anything except on the considered understanding that it takes money in taxes only because it will spend that money in a better way than the taxpayers would and that the money will be spent on something which is a national necessity. I know of no expenditure on education in Australia which has not, in my opinion, represented the expenditure of money in a way better than that in which most of the taxpayers would have spent it. The amendment that the Australian Labour Party has proposed emphasizes the need for an inquiry into the whole structure of education in the same way as the Commonwealth has conducted an inquiry into the limited field of university education.
It is of no use to say that the question of national efficiency is a question merely for the States. The Australian Labour Party has had an education committee inquiring in the various States. That committee has been treated by all the education Ministers with the utmost courtesy, irrespective of the political party which is in office in each State. The State Ministers have put their experts at our disposal in exactly the same way as they would have put them at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government. We have ascertained a number of things which show that no State government can get a complete vision of the subject of education. For instance, in general, Western Australia has a much higher level of teacher quality than some of the other States have, simply because there is not in Western Australia so great a structure of secondary industry in which to absorb science and technical students. Many of them, therefore, turn to teaching, whereas, in the more industrialized eastern States, such students go into private industry. As a consequence, Western Australia has no unqualified teachers as some of the other States have.
It is quite certain that the young people who are trained in the very highly advanced technical education system in Western Australia will not at present be employed in that State, and the
State Government tends always to look at questions such as the number of apprenticeships available in the State. Although I am a Western Australian, I do not believe that a highly skilled trainee in Western Australia who has attained high technical qualifications which he cannot use in his own State is lost to the Australian nations if he transfers to the eastern States. If the whole structure of education in any given State were determined simply by the State government thinking in terms of its own needs, the unindustrialized States would lose people who had a bent for industries which were not represented in those States simply because the technical and other educational structure of the State tended to be related to its own economy.
Despite what the honorable member for Griffith has said, there are many things which we simply do not know about education in Australia, and which need to be ascertained. We have no clear idea, for instance, of whether or not we are tapping all the available supplies of our talent by our present methods. Tn the United Kingdom, half of the national service recruits to the army who were rated in the two highest ability groups by tests had left school at fifteen years of age. It became immediately clear to the United Kingdom Government that the previous structure of education was not bringing forward - for British industry, for scientific research or for anything else - all of the children who had the ability to profit by it. Whether or not we are doing that in Australia to-day I do not know, and I take leave to doubt whether any State government knows, or whether the Commonwealth knows.
Secondly, since our secondary school structure is weak on the technical side, many young people whose bent is technical are lost because they are not catered for adequately. Thirdly, since a large proportion of the Australian children and youth population attends private schools, and those schools have difficulty in meeting the high costs of technical and scientific equipment and of the buildings for training and scientific teaching, there is a loss of skill. This could be met by either the States establishing, or the Commonwealth assisting the States to establish, technical, trade and science centres to be available for the use of groups of schools, both public and private. In fact, with our shortage of science graduates it would possibly be a good thing not to attempt to put a number of science teachers into each of, say, five schools, but to have a centre which could be used by the five schools, whether they were public or private schools. I believe that this is necessary in the interests of national efficiency.
Fourthly, the Commonwealth, which has a high financial stake in university education, needs to know whether the failure rate in universities is due to a determination to limit entry into certain professions, regardless of adequacy of ability; whether it is due to overcrowding of universities; whether it is due to the failure of secondary education in Australia to inculcate the habits of study; whether it indicates that matriculation standards are too low in relation to the actual standards required in universities; or whether it indicates that students entering universities are immature and that the system of secondary education should also include a sixth form or advanced year of study before matriculation. Those are questions the answers to which we need to know.
Fifthly, the Commonwealth needs to know the optimum size of a university. Some universities are just going on growing and growing, and presumably we could have them growing to the level where they will have 60,000 students each, like some universities in the United States of America. If that becomes so, I think there will be many losses to the students in what they gain from university education.
Sixthly, the Government needs to know whether Australian education for the average child is adequate in duration and content. I believe that there needs to be a new specialization in the technical schools, differentiating between trade schools and institutes with a more advanced technology. We need to have a survey of trends in Australian industry and test against them the adequacy of technical and trade education for Australian industry, to see whether Australian technical education adapts itself quickly to changing techniques and new technical and engineering knowledge.
Our committee was told by some people concerned with apprenticeships that too frequently the technical schools were getting out of date. They had certain ways of assisting in the training of apprentices, but, when industry changed its techniques, there was not a sufficiently rapid change in what was taught in the technical schools. There was a declining respect on the part of the employers for the work done in technical schools in relation to apprenticeships.
Another consideration underlying the proposal put forward by the Labour Party is that the Commonwealth’s interest in education has led to a high development of the professional type of education. The professional level of engineering is well catered for, but at the diploma level, the middle level, skilled workers are not catered for to the same extent. As I believe the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said, we need to look at the question of the Commonwealth scholarship system being extended to cover the secondary school level.
The financing of able students through a university has become an accepted Commonwealth activity. If this had been mentioned in 1937 or 1938 as a desirable field for Commonwealth action exactly the type of speech made by the honorable member who immediately preceded me to-night would have been made then. The contention would have been, “This is a State matter involving State sovereignty “. But the Commonwealth Government, acting in the interests of national efficiency, has not invaded the field of State sovereignty; it has simply made grants to the States for a special purpose - the purpose of providing university education - and it has given benefits to the students by making direct grants to them. At the secondary school level it could make direct grants to the parents of able students, if it comes to the conclusion that in the fourteen to eighteen or fifteen to eighteen years age group there is a loss of potential capacity - a loss of the kind of young people who, at a later point of time, when they get to a university, we take steps to ensure will not be lost.
It may be that a survey of education such as has been asked for by the Opposition will reveal that Australian education is adequate in all those respects. Personally, I doubt whether it will, but since the Commonwealth Government has very rightly taken responsibility for national efficiency at the tertiary level of education, it may well consider that it at least should make a survey to see whether, through the secondary level, we are getting the people to the tertiary level that we ought to be getting. If the university failure rates are valid indicators it appears that we are not.
– I would not have risen to speak in this debate were it not for the fact that prior to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) rising to his feet there seemed to be developing on the Opposition side a wish to criticize the Government on what I regard as a wholly fictitious ground. The honorable member for Fremantle, it is true, did pay an indirect, but nonetheless very gracious tribute to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for the work that the Prime Minister has done in connexion with university education. I know that the Prime Minister will not mind my saying this. I think that the world knows by now that were it not for the personal efforts that the Prime Minister put into this, we would not have had the development in the Australian university system over the last three or four years that we have had. He took the responsibility himself. He took the matter the whole way through Cabinet, and I do not know of any wise and sensible university people, or people who believe in university education, who do not pay tribute to him for what he has done.
– The pioneers were Curtin and Chifley. What are you talking about?
– The honorable member can speak later if he wants to. Only a few weeks ago 1 had the great pleasure of attending a function at the University of New South Wales, and I think I can say without reservation that, by and large, those who knew what they were talking about there were high in their praise for what has been done, and for the man who is responsible for doing it.
As I have said, the Opposition seems to have become critical, and I think that honorable members opposite were carping in most of their criticism. The first thing I should like to mention is the reasons for the Government’s wish to treat education as a State responsibility, or as fundamentally or primarily a State responsibility. The basic reason for the Government’s decision in this regard is explained in- a letter which I had hoped I would be able to read to honorable members, in which the Prime Minister advised all the members of the Government parties of the reason for the Government’s thinking in this connexion. The reasons for the action taken by the Government were that it considered, first, that education was a State responsibility, and secondly, that in the field of general education the State governments, being closer to the people, could do just as good a job as the Commonwealth could do. I know that if honorable members care to argue, and argue in some detail, they can pick out some statement to show that if the various Premiers had raised the matter, the Commonwealth might have taken a different view. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has tried to argue that because of the fact that State Premiers have indicated a willingness to accept additional funds, the last argument on which the Prime Minister can rely for not giving increased support has been brushed away. 1 do not agree with that, because it is only in very recent months that the State Premiers have been prepared to make this decision. After all, the fundamental basis on which the Commonwealth was prepared to act was that it believed education was a State responsibility, it believed the States had funds - not necessarily what we would regard as adequate for the task but they had as great a quantity of funds as we thought could be made available to them - and it believed that matters for which it was actually responsible at the moment should be carried on by the Commonwealth.
I know it has been said that because we have entered into the field of university education, we have abdicated that principle. But as the Prime Minister has well pointed out, there is a good constitutional precedent for what has been done. We entered thi: field of university education during the war years, and it was felt desirable that we should continue in it rather than vacate the field and let the States have the money to carry on. What has been done in this field? As I have said, only a few weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend one of the university functions relating to higher education. The figures quoted there as to what has been achieved by the Menzies Government are, I believe, revealing, lt is of no use the Labour Opposition or individual members of the Opposition being critical unless they can base an argument on the fact that they had done better or at least as well when they were in government.
What was the position in 1949? If we looked at the Commonwealth grants for universities in terms of millions of pounds, what would we find? Would we find that the Labour Government made any effort to get into the field of education, of tertiary education, university education or any other education? To-night, of course, Opposition members are critical - carpingly critical, as I said - but when they were in government they did not give grants amounting to £1,000,000 per annum. The amounts1 to be provided by this Government are nearly £13,000,000 in 1961, £13,573,000 in 1962 and £14,500,000 in 1963. This is a practical demonstration of Labour’s lack of interest in university education and of the very practical and large-scale interest of this Government in the education system.
There are other figures 1 could quote, if 1 wished to do so, to show where the Government’s heart is and what it is prepared to do in this field of education where it had a legacy, if 1 could call it that, from the war years, and where it was only too willing to continue its activities and to expand them.
I am not one who is prepared to run down the Australian education system. Only last year when this matter was being debated here, the Premier of New South Wales went to great lengths to quote from a statement made by the Chairman of the Public Service Board of New South Wales, in an attempt to claim credit for the fact that education in New South Wales was of a high order and that few other countries could equal it in terms of provision or quality. Mr. Bolte, the Premier^ of Victoria, went on record with much the same kind of claim. We on this side of the chamber are not prepared to say that there is a total deficiency of education or that there are any large gaps in the education system that demand to be filled. On the contrary, we are proud of what is being achieved. We know there are some gaps. We will do our best in terms of university education and scholarships to help fill them, but we believe that the primary responsibility for anything more that has to be done rests with the State governments.
The honorable gentleman from Fremantle raised two questions that 1 believe ought to be touched upon. The first was the possibility or the real probability that people with a technical bent might move from the western States to the more highly populous and industrialized eastern States. I would like him to know that the recent action taken by the Menzies Government to provide funds for the rail link and for the establishment of ore and steel works in Western Australia will provide the foundations on which the industrial might of Western Australia can be built. It will provide increasing opportunities for employment and will, we hope, retain in Western Australia the kind of person the honorable gentleman wishes to retain there.
The second question with which he dealt was that of educational qualifications. This has always been a matter of great concern to me, because, while I would like every one with the aptitude and qualifications to go to universities, nonetheless I believe they should have the necessary educational qualifications and should be given those qualifications at school before they go on to the university, where the failure rate is much too high. If the Labour Governments were genuinely interested in this problem - f take New South Wales - they would have promptly implemented the Wyndham report which extended the schoolleaving age for one year, which attempted to give wider opportunities for education and a better balanced education for the citizens of that State, and which would have meant that when a young man went to university, he went at least with that degree of primary and secondary education that permitted him to fi* immediately into the university scheme of things and which, 1 personally believe, would have substantially reduced the failure rate. But no! Labour had the chance to act here. Its own caucus refused to act and it was compelled to act by the Australian Labour Party organization, an extra-parliamentary institution. So we must treat with some reserve any argument on this subject that is put by Opposition members.
I mentioned the principles on which the Commonwealth acted when it decided that the States should primarily be responsible for education. This is what the Prime Minister said in his note -
The division of powers and responsibilities between the central and local parliaments has great merits. It would be a pity if by not thinking of what we were doing we drifted into a complete centralization of power and gave federation away.
That, Sir, is the answer - not these rather trivial, casuistic arguments that have been put by the Opposition, but this fundamental basis of responsibility.
There is one other matter 1 would like to mention before I resume my seat and that is the nutter of perspective. I have stated that, while 1 believe much more can be done for education, and 1 personally hope much will be done in thefield of apprenticeship training, 1 also believe itis right to mention what the Government has done to put the States in a position where they can apply extrafinanceto education and particularly what hasbeendone by the Government to provide opportunities for this country to expand. Mr. Chairman, you will know that during the Premiers’ Conference an additional £36,000,000 was granted to the States for expenditure in this year. That provided opportunities for expansion and it provided the means by which the States could improve their educational facilities. When we did that we budgeted for a deficit of something like £16,000,000, and we believed that for the time that was a sufficiently big deficit unless we wished to re-create inflationary conditions So 1 ask this committee to put the matter in perspective and to remember that, out of the £36,000,000 made available to them, the States have the opportunity to expand their education system and their education facilities. They have a chance to take additional people into the educational system. 1 was very glad to get the information the other day that in the transfer of employees from one industry to others, one of the great beneficiaries was the education system. 1 do not remember the exact figures, but I think it is not untrue to say that well over 6,000 persons have moved from secondary industry into primary and secondary educational services. That is a very big increase in something like six months. I venture to suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, that it would be difficult to improve on that figure. So I leave the committee with these thoughts: Of course we are interested in education. The action taken by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet indicates our very great and continuing concern with it.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– The report of the Auditor-General refers to transactions involving hotels and guest houses leased by the Commonwealth Government to private interests. At page 34 of that report, reference is made to the income of and expenditure on the Hotel Canberra in Canberra. It is revealed that the rental received by the Commonwealth for the Hotel Canberra last year was £5,804 and that Commonwealth outgoings in the same period were -
The deficit shown by the Auditor-General’s report was £14,133. This morning I asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) whether he had studied the report of the Auditor-General. I asked him further whether the Commonwealth had leased the Hotel Canberra to a company representing Toohey’s brewery. I asked whether the Commonwealth’s outgoings and charges for repairs and maintenance, interest and depreciation had exceeded the rental of£5,804 by more than £14,000. I asked further whether there was any reason why the taxpayers of Australia should subsidize Toohey’s brewery to the extent of £14,000 a year to run an hotel in Canberra. I further asked the Minister whether the Government proposed to take action to terminate this lease and require Tooheys Limited to pay an additional rental or whether the Government took this action only in respect of individual citizens who were tenants of government homes. The Minister in his reply said that the lease for the Hotel Canberra had been granted by the previous Labour Government. He said it was a contractual obligation which this Government could not vary or had not been able to vary.
– I said “ break “, not “ vary “.
– That implies an attempt to break and the Minister said that the Government was not able to break the contract. I have in my hand the fiftysecond report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and I shall quote from page 43 of that document which refers to hotels and guest houses leased by the Department of the Interior. Paragraph 187 states-
The current lessee of the Hotel Canberra has been granted a lease for a period of 25 years from 30th September, 1950.
Paragraph 189 states -
The original lessee leased this establishment in 1935 for a period (including options) of fifteen years at an annual rental of £3,120.
– Which was the Government in 1935?
– It was the Lyons Government - a United Australia Party government. The report of the Public Accounts Committee continues -
The lease was renewed as from 30th September, 1950, at a rental of £3,350 per annum subject to the lessee incurring expenditure of approximately £60,000 on alterations. As from 13th September, 1956, the rental was increased to £5,804 5s. per annum in recognition of improvements carried out by the Commonwealth.
Mr. Speaker, my recollection is that in 1950, the present administration was the Government of Australia. It is further my impression that in 1956 the Government of this country was the Menzies-Fadden coalition Government. I am not able, of course, to vouch for the accuracy of the report of the Public Accounts Committee, but I have the greatest respect for the ability and integrity of its chairman and the members of that committee from both sides of the Parliament. But the Minister for the Interior might explain to the House how a Labour government which went out of office on 10th December, 1949, can be held to be responsible for a lease granted on 30th September, 1950.
The Minister might also explain how, when an alteration of the rental was made on 13th September, 1956, action was not taken to increase the rental to an amount which would recoup the Commonwealth for its outgoings. The Minister might explain, Mr. Speaker, why, perhaps, he was badly advised on this matter. I have an idea he was advised as he came to the table. The Minister, I suggest, might answer the questions that I have put and explain why he sought, if he did so seek, to place the blame in this matter on the shoulders of thi Labour Party, when it rightly rests on those of his own Government.
– The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) is apparently a tiger for punishment. The facts as he has given them to-night, so far as the dates of the relevant documents and the amounts payable under the lease are concerned, are quite correct. Hotel Canberra Limited, which is a subsidiary of Tooheys Limited, had a lease of the Hotel Canberra which expired, it is true, on 30th September, 1950. lt is not unusual for lessees, when the terms of leases are drawing to a close, to negotiate for renewals. The facts are that in this case the conditions of renewal of the lease were settled in 1948. The term of the lease was for 25 years as from the expiration of the existing lease in 1950, and I was very careful to say in the House to-day, not that the lease commenced in the term of the previous Government, but that this Government inherited a contractual obligation which it could not avoid.
It is true that there was a variation of the lease in 1956, and the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory may be interested to know just what that variation consisted of. The lessee came to the Government, entrenched in a strong position behind a lease which did not expire until 1975-
– And granted in 1950.
– But with a contractual obligation which, I repeat, this Government inherited. The terms and conditions of the new lease were settled before this Government came to office. Let that be quite clear. In 1956, entrenched in that strong position, the lessee came to the Commonwealth and said. “ Under the terms and conditions ot the existing lease, you are up for £20,000 worth of renovations and repairs. We propose to effect £37,000 worth of improvements to the hotel. The total cost of the work to be done is, therefore, £57,000. If you are prepared to do £57,000 worth of work on the building, we will pay the £37,000 involved on our side of the obligation by paying increased rent and interest for the remainder of the term.” That was the only variation on which we could secure agreement with the lessee.
I think that pu’s the situation perfectly clearly and simply, Mr. Speaker.
– Yesterday. Mr. Speaker. 1 asked the Minister for Immigration ( Mr Downer) a question without notice concerning deportation orders issued in respect of two Malayan pearlers, named Daris Bin Saris and Jaffa Madune. who have been in Australia in one instance for twelve years and in the other for nine years. Many requests have been made throughout Australia for the cancellation of these deportation orders. At the present time a petition seeking a cancellation is being circulated in Darwin, and has already been signed bv some 1,500 residents of that town. But it is not simply because these numerous requests have been made that T am asking the Minister again to consider his attitude in this matter. T have pointed out that the two men are comparatively young, and that, owing to the period of time for which they have worked in Australia, they would now find it difficult to re-adjust themselves to conditions in their homeland.
The Minister gave no indication, in the reply given to me this morning, that he would reverse his decision. He implied that agitation aimed at keeping these men in Australia could result in a major departure from, and would strike a blow at, our immigration policy, which has been endorsed by all political parties in Australia. He said that a weakening of the attitude now adopted could result in a demand for the modification of the immigration policy. The Minister also said that the records showed that one of the men had made a visit to Singapore to see his wife and children. I fail to see that this has any particular bearing on the case or on the request for a review of the decision.
I point out, first, that in making these representations I have no intention whatsoever of bringing about a weakening of our immigration policy. All 1 seek is to have that policy implemented in a humane and sympathetic manner. I suggest that when circumstances indicate that a case should be treated somewhat differently from the usual run of cases, the matter should be treated according to its merits.
The two mcn concerned were brought to Australia originally after application by pearling interests. Their entry was welcomed at that time by the Commonwealth Government, because they were willing to accept a type of employment - that of pearling, the most hazardous employment of all - which no member of the Australian community would undertake. The Commonwealth at that time was pressing for the establishment of export industries, and it was prepared to go to considerable lengths to foster the pearling industry, so that badly needed dollars could be earned.
This is not a case of mcn coming to the country in an unskilled capacity and now competing with Australian men for employment. It is not a case of men coming to Australia to work at a particular occupation, such as that of cook, and catering for certain classes or races of people, who, by virtue of tradition and custom, have to be specially catered for. Nor is it a case of young people coming here to learn, by way of education or by working in industry, something that they can take back for the benefit of their own country. I know that persons in the categories I have mentioned sometimes ask for permission to remain here, but I venture to suggest that in the case of the two men concerned entirely different considerations are involved.
Here we have two men who were admitted, because of special skills they possessed, to help establish and expand an industry which would result in the strengthening of our economy, and to engage in an occupation which Australians would not accept because of its highly hazardous nature. Let us consider the Commonwealth’s attitude. First, it is willing to accept divers into the community in an endeavour to bolster our export earnings. Then, when the need for their services no longer exists, because the industry has been handed over to the Japanese, it is prepared to throw them back on the scrap heap. This is, to say the least, very harsh treatment indeed.
It is true that these men came ‘here, as all other pearlers do, under specific terms and conditions, but I believe that when we invite men to undertake work of this nature, we have a moral obligation to accept some responsibility for their welfare after the need for their services no longer exists. These men have worked for a number oil years in Australia. They have performed their duties to the utmost satisfaction of their employers and they have become firstclass citizens. We should at least concede them the right to stay in the country. If, by their conduct, they had shown themselves to be unfitted to stay here, then I would agree that the Minister’s decision should stand. But such is not the case. By their conduct they have proved that they would be worthy citizens of this country.
I again appeal to the Minister to reconsider this case, not as he would consider an application on behalf of an unskilled worker or perhaps a student who might have come to Australia to advance their own persona] interests or the interests of their country, but as a case in a particular category which requires and deserves special consideration. Certainly let us consider the adverse effect and the hardship that this decision will have on these people, but let us not forget to consider earnestly the underlying principles involved in the case.
– I know that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has genuine and sympathetic feelings about this case because it is now some months since he first raised it with me. 1 can well understand his approach to this matter, but in the answer that 1 gave him yesterday afternoon at quesion time I think I stated fairly comprehensively the reasons for the Government’s decision. If there was any ambiguity in my reply I want to allay it at once because, quite frankly, I am not prepared to reverse my decision in relation to these two men.
As I understood the honorable gentleman, he stated that the fact that one of the pearlers had returned in 1954 to his homeland to see his wife and children makes no material difference. I think it makes a very material difference because the argument that has been advanced by these men is that they have lost all connexion with Malaya, that they have no ties there and that, in effect, they have become Australianized. I do not see how that statement can be squared up with the fact that a few years ago one man returned to what should be his most intimate association with his wife and children in Malaya. So far as I know - I have no evidence to the contrary - his wife and children are still living there.
Without appearing to be too harsh, I should think that if one could presume to try to make any moral judgment on the matter - I am sure the honorable member for the Northern Territory will agree with me in this - one would have to hold that a man’s primary duty is to support and live in company with his wife and children. So, as far as one of the pearlers is concerned, the statement that all ties with Malaya have been cut is not sustained. Indeed, I would say, on the contrary, that he has very powerful family associations there which all family-loving people would think should be resumed.
The difficulty with a case such as this is that if permission were given for these two pearlers to remain in Australia it would only be just that many other people in a similar category - people who have been brought here from other countries, particularly from Asian countries, for short-term limited occupations - should be granted permission to remain here upon completion their contracts. If one were prepared to do that, it would mean that many hundreds of people in these categories would be granted permanent admission to Australia. As the honorable gentleman will realize by using a very little arithmetic, not more than a few years would elapse before these numbers would represent such an accretion of population as to make quite a perceptible inroad into the established immigration policy which hitherto has commanded warm, virtually unanimous, support from both sides of the House.
In essence I do not think that these men are being subjected to great hardship. They are still reasonably young. I think one of them is at the end of his twenties and the other is getting on in his thirties. No one in this chamber could regard men in those age groups as being well advanced in life. Indeed, the reverse is true. These young fellows are very healthy and have the greater part of their lives before them.
– Hear, hear!
– I am very pleased to have support from my evergreen and everyouthful friend, the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. Before these men came to Australia they were acquainted with their terms of admission. They knew what their contracts contained. The arrangements now have expired and, as I said yesterday, considering what an extremely pleasant, well-ordered and, for an Asian country, relatively prosperous nation Malaya is, I do not think it is a hardship to ask Malayans who have been in Australia for a few years to return to their own country and, in the case of one of them, to return to his wife and children.
.- I listened to-night to the speech of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) relating to the lease of the Hotel Canberra. I am concerned to learn, first, that in 1948 a Labour government entered into a contract with the people who run the Hotel Canberra, which is a subsidiary of Toohey’s brewery, and secondly, that the Liberal-Country Party Government which succeeded the Labour administration two years later is bound by that agreement. I think that this state of affairs is so unsatisfactory and improper that an inquiry should be held into all the circumstances surrounding the signing of such an agreement. I am surprised, too, that in the circumstances an Opposition member should rise in his place and direct attention to a transaction which to me appears corrupt.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, who is now interjecting, was given his answer this afternoon in no uncertain terms by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who has the respect of this House. I am amazed that the honorable member, after having been told that the agreement was signed by a Labour government, should rise again and make the statement that the term of the new lease having commenced in 1950 the present position was the responsibility of this Government. He had already been told by the Minister that the contractual obligation had been entered into by a Labour government, but that was not sufficient for him.
– We do not believe that.
– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith has stated that he does not believe that. He spends most of his time outside.
– But not in the pub.
– A member of this Parliament has stated that he will not accept the word of a Minister! The Minister is backed by the advice of his officers and he must accept that advice because he was not a Minister when the agreement was entered into. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, who will not accept the word of a Minister of the Crown, brought a piece of paper into the House and sought to make out that the agreement was made by this Government. Of course, anybody with a little more intelligence than the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who interjected then, would know that the Minister would have his facts, based on sound grounds, before making a statement here.
Any member of Parliament who would take a report like that from some of his advisers outside and try to cause mischief over a simple matter of people paying their rent for valuable property paid for by the taxpayers of Australia who are the constituents of all members of this House is not fit to be a member of the House. The advisers of this member cannot even give him the correct information. I believe that any member of this Parliament who will not accept the Minister’s statement, comes in with something quite phoney - because this was phoney - and says that something had been signed or permitted by this Government is not fit to be a member of this House. Further, he is not fit to represent Canberra or the Australian Capital Territory in this place. I say so because it means that he bases his information on nonsense and rubbish and is not content to do what any other member would do-
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I submit that the honorable member is out of order in referring to a report of the Public Accounts Committee of this Parliament as nonsense and rubbish, because it was on that report that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory based his remarks.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Let me say that the honorable member abuses his position - a position of trust - as member for the Australian Capital Territory, as the representative of people who are in the Administration of Australia, who are here to advise the Government and who work in the various departments and carry out their work with integrity and responsibility in this way. Yet the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory could not even get the simple facts, which ought to be known to any high school or primary school boy!
I think things are coming to a pretty low pass when a member of this House, having asked a question and received the answer, comes back - having heard the Minister say that this was a contractual obligation of his own Government - and tries to work around and say it was the responsibility of this Government. He comes back here, is not satisfied with the answer he gets and behaves in a puerile way.
– Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to some remarks made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on the motion for the adjournment of this House on 17th August last. May 1 preface my remarks by saying that on the 20th July last two newspaper men from the “Mirror “ newspaper entered a Commonwealth garage for the purposes, no doubt, of their employment. While there they were asked by Commonwealth police officers - members of the regular police force - to give their names, to identify themselves and to show their press passes, after which they left.
The honorable member for East Sydney said in this House on Thursday, 17th August, that he had been informed and that he believed that after that event my officers - the officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department - and I, whom the honorable gentleman said on his information was one of the principal negotiators in this business, had gone to the “ Mirror “ newspaper, seen the people in control and had made an agreement with that newspaper that, if it would not publish an article which it then contemplated publishing about the security service - those are the words of the honorable member, “ the security service “ - for its facist methods in what had occurred at the garage, I would not prosecute the two newspaper men for an offence which the honorable gentleman said must have been committed by them at the garage or by their being there.
I happened to be in the House that evening. I had not been done the courtesy of being told that anything of this kind was going to be said. I happened to be here deputising for my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), but I heard what the honorable gentleman said and got up immediately and said it was a false story and a fabricated one. The honorable gentleman did me the courtesy of saying that he did not believe that, which of course wrung my withers no end.
I also on that occasion gave the honorable member his choice, either that he was a simpleton for believing the story or that he had made it up, and I did not mind, that evening, which he chose. The story, as you can see in the mere telling, is a stupid story. The idea that a newspaper would give up such a good story as some attack on the security service - I do not mention the particular newspaper - just to avoid having a good row with the Commonwealth about its employees having been in the Commonwealth garage, is too silly for words.
The honorable gentleman said that he was told it and that he believed it. It was equally silly io think that the AttorneyGeneral and his officers - not in some furtive way but quite openly - would waltz down to the office of the “ Mirror “ and make such a silly bargain. It was asilly, stupid story. But the honorable gentleman said he was told it and that he believed it.
I am going to show the House that he could not have been told it by any one connected with a newspaper. If he was informed - and for a reason which I will give in a moment I think we could assume that he was informed - he must have been told by some one like the man with the red beard at the bus stop. This is no doubt the sort of thing that the honorable gentleman has in the dossiers that he keeps. We hear from him so often in this House assertions that he has been informed of something and that he believes it. This is a good moment to test the accuracy of his informants and the credulity of the honorable gentleman himself.
It did seem to me that it was rather rough on the newspaper to say in this House that I had made a bargain with it and that the newspaper had foregone the pleasure and, as the press gallery would say, the duty of telling the public about the activities of the security service, just to avoid the newspaper men being prosecuted for something which, if it had been an offence, might have brought a fine of a few shillings.
So, on 22nd August, I wrote to the “ Mirror “ a letter which I would like to read to the House. The editor’s name is Mr. Ian Smith. I wrote to him as follows: -
Dear Mr. Smith,
On Thursday evening last on the adjournment of the House of Representatives, the honorable member for East Sydney (The Hon. E. J. Ward) referred to a happening on the 20th July last at the Commonwealth garage in McElhone Street. Sydney in which two journalist members of your staff were concerned. Amongst other things, the Honorable Member said–
I then set out the quotation from “ Hansard “, which I shall read, if I may. This is what the honorable gentleman said - “ The story as given to me - I have no reason to doubt it - is that the newspaper strongly resented the action of the security officers in holding these newspapermen for questioning merely because they visited the Commonwealth car pool evidently in search of a nice story which they believed existed because of this change in the number plates of Commonwealth cars. “ The newspaper intended to run a story attacking the security service and the AttorneyGeneral s Department for these activities, no doubt charging them with fascist actions and so on. Before the newspaper could publish the story a conference was held between either the AttorneyGeneral or some of his higher officers and the people in control of the newspaper, and an agreement was reached to the effect that provided that the newspaper did not publish the story no charges would be preferred against the men who had been questioned for being on Commonwealth property.”
The Honorable Member had earlier said that - “ No doubt the Attorney-General played some part in this himself. As a matter of fact, I understand from my information that he was one of the chief negotiators.”
I gave the newspaper the reference in “ Hansard “. I go on in my letter -
I have had the officers of my department in Sydney and in Canberra and members of the Commonwealth Police Force in Sydney asked whether any of them had been in touch with any person on behalf of your newspaper in connexion with this occurrence. I am informed andI believe that there has been no such contact whatever between any of the officers of my department or members of the Commonwealth Police Force other than two telephone conversations on the morning in question, each between Mr. Morris of your staff and Inspector Davies of the Commonwealth police, and in each instance initiated by Mr. Morris.
I then set out the conversations which simply related to some incidental matter. I then went on -
As far as 1 am personally concerned you and I know very well that no such conference took place. However, the honorable member’s assertions which I have quoted affect your newspaper in the conduct of its affairs and I write to ask whether you would care to make any comment upon the information contained in this letter.
To that, I received a reply from Mirror Newspapers Limited under date August 25th. It says -
Dear Sir Garfield,
I acknowledge your letter of August 22nd.
Then reference is made to what the letter said.It continues -
The facts as presented by you are correct.
At no time did this office make contact with the officers of your department or the Commonwealth Police Force other than in the two telephone conversations you mentioned between Mr. Morris and Inspector Davies of the Commonwealth police.
The assertion that a conference was held and an agreement reached not to publish a story, providing no charges were preferred, is baseless.
Thank you for your courtesy in writing.
So the honorable gentleman could not have got it from any source such as a newspaper. On the other hand, 1 do not think we ought to think he invented it because the mind that invented it was really a mind that was distorted and weak and sick. We all know that description does not fit the honorable gentleman. We should not think for one moment that he is capable of making this story up, knowing the seriousness of the charge not only against me but against the officers of my department and, for that matter, against the newspaper. So I think we must say: “ Well, here he stands, the simpleton! He believes some silly, stupid story that a man with a red beard at the bus stop told him. He could not have thought it up because he is not that kind of chap.”
.- The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has made an extraordinary statement and I hope to be able to correct him in one or two respects. He commenced by referring to what he evidently regarded as my discourtesy because, on a previous occasion, 1 did not tell him that I intended to raise a matter on the adjournment debate. I did not know there was any provision in the Standing Orders which required me to do so, but if I did commit an offence, I point out that the Attorney-General committed a similar offence by failing to let me have notice that he proposed to raise this matter to-night. He let others know in the hope that I would be told what was going to be raised.
Let me say to the honorable gentleman that I am very happy that he has now given me the opportunity to refer to some of the rubbish which he has dished out here at times and his assertions that what I said is false and a fabrication. If he has a look at the report of his speech in “ Hansard “ - if he does not correct it which he will undoubtedly attempt to do - he will see that he made reference to the fact that I had referred to the officers concerned as members of the security service when according to him they were actually members of the Commonwealth Police Force.
Later he asked: “ Did anybody imagine that the “ Mirror “ newspaper was going to miss such a great story of an attack on the security service? “ He used that particular term himself. He asked: “ Would any one suggest that to please him the newspaper was so silly as to miss such a story? “ Let me say to the honorable gentleman that his veracity is not beyond question, merely because he happens to be a knight bachelor. He emphasized when he was reading the letter from the “ Mirror “ newspaper that it was “ Sir Garfield “ that the editor addressed. I think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who recommended him for the honour did what many boys do to stray dogs - tie tins to their tails when they want to irritate or annoy them.
Let us have a look whether this is the great champion of veracity and truth. I remember reading in a document called “ Things I HeaT “-
– Ah, ha!
– Yes. I did that deliberately because I knew that honorable members were going to laugh, but the gentleman who publishes it - Frank Browne - is an employee of Mirror Newspapers Limited, whom the Attorney-General has been quoting as his authority to show that my story was completely wrong. I know what the honorable gentleman was hoping I would do, but I am not going to do it. He was hoping to trap me into the indiscretion of telling him who the source of my information was, but I assure him that I am not going to reveal it. Let me go on and read what Frank Browne had to say about the Attorney-General and he has never replied to these allegations. The Attorney-General has also had the opportunity of taking action against Frank Browne if he desired to do so. You are supposed to be the great jurist of this country, the great constitutional authority. On 21st August, 1958, on page 3 of “ Things I Hear “, appeared this statement -
Sir Garfield Barwick went through the bankruptcy court in-
– Order! J warn the honorable member that on no account can he make imputations against or reflect upon any honorable member of the House.
– I am not imputing; I am quoting from a document.
– Order! The honorable member is reflecting.
– Then why do you allow him to make imputations regarding me when it suits him?
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– What I want to know-
– Order! I name the honorable member.
– Prejudice and bias! You allow Government members to say what they like.
– I move -
That the honorable member for East Sydney be suspended from the service of the House.
– Yes, you would. You are a dirty cur. You are not game to stand up-
– I am going out as it is and I am going to have my say.
– Order!I warn the honorable member-
– You can warn as much as you like.
– I warn the honorable member that he will be dealt with on another occasion.
– You can deal with me on another occasion, but I have my rights here as an elected representative of the people and I am going to have my say. If you show partisanship-
– Order! I ask the Serjeant-at-Arms, under Standing Order No. 303. to remove the honorable member.
– I will get out.
– Then go out.
– Who said that? I am only going out because the Serjeant-at-Arms is an officer of the House and I have no quarrel with him, but you come and let me see if you can put me out. (The honorable member for East Sydney thereupon withdrew from the chamber).
– Order! The motion before the Chair is, “That the honorable member for East Sydney be suspended from the service of the House “.
– You cannot put him out twice. You have put him out already under Standing Order No. 303.
– How can you put out a man who has already been put out?
– Order! The motion before the Chair is, “That the honorable member for East Sydney be suspended from the service of the House “.
– Can the honorable member for East Sydney be suspended during his absence?
– Order! The action is in order.
– Is the honorable member for East Sydney paired in this division?
Question put -
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to refer for a moment to the significance of the scene which the House just witnessed. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), as honorable mem j –rs well know, was unable to answer the factual charge made against him by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). He, therefore, deliberately endeavoured to divert the issue. Like a cuttle fish squirting-
– I rise to order. The honorable member has imputed motives to the honorable member for East Sydney which he cannot possibly prove. In view of your earlier ruling, Mr. Speaker, I ask you to make him cease.
– Order! I will listen to what the honorable member for Mackellar has to say, but I warn him to observe the Standing Orders, which he knows.
– Indeed, I do, Sir. On a matter of substance I am entitled to refer to what has happened in the House.
– Order! The honorable member would not be in order in reflecting on the conduct and behaviour of any member of the House.
– Yes, indeed. Sir. It stands on the record that the honorable member for East Sydney apparently could not reply to the remarks made by the Attorney-General. Therefore, like a cuttle fish squirting ink, he endeavoured-
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– Very well, Sir. Not like a cuttle fish squirting ink-
– Order! I warn the honorable member that he must not persist in reflecting on the honorable member for East Sydney and that he must withdraw the remark that he made.
– Very well, Sir. I follow your ruling.
– I certainly follow your ruling and withdraw the remark. (Honorable members interjecting)-
– Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his seat.
– I rise to order. The honorable member has refused to withdraw. He says that he has followed your ruling. He has defied you and I ask you to do your duty and name him.
– I withdraw the remark, Sir.
– The honorable member will unequivocally withdraw the remark.
– Unequivocally 1 have withdrawn it, Sir.
– You have not. Mr. Speaker, I ask that he now state, 11 1 unequivocally withdraw “, not that he has withdrawn.
– Order! I ask the House to come to order. It is impossible to hear the honorable member while everybody is having something to say.
– I follow your direction, Sir, and withdraw the remark. What is more important is that the Opposition by its open vote has unequivocally endorsed the action of the honorable member for East Sydney. I ask the House to consider its position in this regard. I am standing up as a champion of the dignity of your position, Sir. I think you will agree with me that a deliberate attempt was made to impugn your authority.
– 1 rise to order. The honorable member said that members of the Opposition were attempting to impugn your authority. That includes me.
– Order ! The honorable member for Wills is not quoting the honorable member for Mackellar correctly.
– I think this is a question of the dignity of the House. It is a substantial question which should be looked at in due seriousness. A deliberate attempt was made to impugn your authority- (Opposition members interjecting)-
– Order! The honorable member is expressing a point of view.
– The honorable member’s expression is a disorderly one.
– Order! I ask the House to come to order. I ask the honorable member for Mackellar to comply with my ruling and to assist the Chair with a difficult issue.
– I am attempting, not only to assist you, Mr. Speaker, but to defend the authority of the Chair. A moment ago when you named the honorable member for East Sydney - and I speak merely of the facts without comment - the honorable member continued to interject and speak in defiance of your-
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. He is out of order.
.- Only a few minutes ago - and I am not reflecting on your ruling, Mr. Speaker - you overlooked one remark that was passed by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) when he accused my colleague, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) of not being fit to be in this Parliament. I should imagine that that was a reflection on the member’s personality and on the people whom he represents in this Parliament. Either you did not hear what the honorable member for Macarthur said, Mr. Speaker, or your judgment was biased. That is putting the matter quite plainly.
– Order! The honorable member ought to restrain himself and not reflect on the Chair.
– Do you not think-
– Order! The honorable member may not argue the point with the Chair.
– I leave the matter to honorable members, Mr. Speaker, without asking for your ruling. Surely a reflection by one honorable member on another as not being fit to be a member of this House calls for some explanation or apology. I leave that to the fairness and justice of any member or Minister. The remark that I have mentioned was made and no exception to it was taken by the Chair. I consider that the Chair should have taken exception to it.
– That is a reflection on the Chair.
– It may be a reflection, but I do not care what it is. I am talking about a fair go and about justice, and nobody can impugn my sincerity in this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.21 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Which of the following export items are included in the list of strategic materials banned to Communist countries: - Lead, zinc, copper, silver, plate steel, rutile, zircon and uranium oxide?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Zircon and uranium oxide.
n asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I am informed that -
The Australian Institute of Export has announced that it will award prizes of £1,000 for each of two winning theses on the following subjects: -
The competition may be entered by anyone who has resided in Australia for more than six months.
Fourteen applications to enter both theses, Twenty-eight applications to prepare a thesis on wool,
Fourteen applications to prepare a thesis on invisible exports.
The cost of preparing a thesis is not expected to be great.
son asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 4 and S. Government securities on issue overseas and the annual interest liability thereon at 30th June, 1949, and 30th June, 1961, were as follows: -
3 and 6. The Commonwealth has certain contractual sinking fund and repayment obligations in respect of securities on issue in London, the United States and Canada and of International Bank borrowings. The amounts repayable in 1948-49 and 1960-61 were as follows:-
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What authorities, the declared purpose of which was to increase Australian export trade, have been established since the Government came to office in 1949?
Which of these authorities are still in existence and how are they constituted?
What recommendations of these bodies were adopted by the Government?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Three authorities with the prime objective of increasing Australian export trade have been established since the Government came to office and all are in existence to-day. They are -
The Export Development Council,
The Export Payments Insurance Corporation, and
The Australian Canned Fruit Sales Promotion Committee.
In respect of the Export Development Council, I would draw the honorable member’s attention to my answers to a recent question answered on 22nd August, 1961. The Export Payments Insurance Corporation was constituted under the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act 1956-1961 and is empowered to promote trade with countries outside Australia by providing insurance against certain risks arising out of that trade not normally insured with commercial insurers. The corporation is a statutory body and it does not make recommendations to the Government. The Australian Canned Fruit Sales Promotion Committee was constituted under the Canned Fruit Sales Promotion Act 1959. It comprises six representatives of canning fruitgrowers, four representatives of fruit canners and one Commonwealth Government representative. The committee is empowered to promote sales of canned fruit in Australia and overseas. It has not made any recommendations to the Government.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In the year ended 31st July, 1961 - 1. (a) County Courts, 87; (b) High Court of Australia, 2. 2. (a) Of the appeals to the County Courts - (i) 31 were upheld; (ii) 1 was struck out, the Commonwealth to pay the costs; (iii) 43 were dismissed; (iv) 10 were struck out; (v) 2 were struck out, the appellant to pay the costs, (b) Of the two appeals to the High Court of Australia, one was determined in favour of the Commonwealth. In the other the High Court ordered that, “ as there was no determination of the rights of the parties, the Judge’s ruling on a point of law was not a judgment, decree, order or sentence within the meaning of section 73 of the Constitution and no appeal lay to the High Court”. 3. (a) 11. (b) So far costs have been paid in full in four cases and in part in one.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Banks are not obliged to publish details of dividends received. However, information derived from published sources is set out below.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount has each bank invested in -
t. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. In accordance with the provisions of the Banking Act1959, details of the liabilities and assets as at the end of each month of individual savings banks are published in the “ Commonwealth Gazette “ by the Commonwealth Statistician. In certain instances, the precise information requested by the honorable member is either not required to be furnished by the savings banks under the act or is not published. However, to the extent that the desired information is published by the Commonwealth Statistician, the details, which have been extracted from the latest relevant statement published in the “Gazette” dated 3rd August, 1961, together with explanatory footnotes, are set out below -
t. - The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Since the commencement of the Banking Act 1959 the Reserve Bank of Australia has determined the following statutory reserve deposit ratios applicable to the major trading banks: -
The following table, compiled from published sources, shows the paid-up value of shares held by each bank in its associated hire-purchase company at the first and last days of the latest financial year of each bank and dividends declared by those companies between the two dates. Dividends declared during the year shown may not have been received by banks during that year: -
No information has been published by banks.
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. The Reserve Bank of Australia has not made any determination, or given any directions, with regard to the making of advances in the course of any banking business carried on by bodies which have been exempted from compliance with section 7 or section 8 of the Banking Act 1959.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What statutory reserve deposit ratios has the Reserve Bank required the trading banks to observe in the last year?
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, In the ten years ended 30th June, 1961, superior courts have not decided any cases against the Commissioner of Taxation under any of the provisions of the Gift Duty Assessment Act. In the same period superior courts have interpreted sections of the Estate Duty Assessment Act in a way contrary to that contended for by the Commissioner of Taxation in the undermentioned cases, viz.: -
In addition to the cases referred to above, appellants were partially successful, during the ten-year period under consideration, in two other cases before the High Court, namely Elders Trustee and Executor Co. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Taxation (Braund’s Case) 96 C.L.R. 563 and Emanuel v. Commissioner of Taxation (not reported - decision given 21st October, 1957). However, as both of these cases relate exclusively to questions of value in relation to private company shares and do not involve questions of interpretation per se, they have not been referred to above. No courts other than the High Court (or Privy Council) have delivered judgments contrary to the views contended for by the Commissioner of Taxation during the ten-year period referred to.
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Tariff Protection Against Products of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
m asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
For what products has tariff protection been (a) sought, (b) recommended or (c) granted against products of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in the last financial year?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
None. However, during the year, three Tariff Board reports arising out of earlier inquiries but touching on the question of tariff protection against products of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea were received and acted upon by the Government.
Timber and plywood: In this report, the board recommended that the existing protective duties on imports of Territory plywood in excess of 16,000,000 square feet per annum remain unchanged. The Australian industry had not made any request concerning Territory plywood at the board’s inquiry.
Animal and vegetable fats and oils: The board recommended that the existing protective duty on peanuts remain unchanged and that tie protective duty on peanut oil be reduced by ls. a gallon. The Australian industry had requested increased duties on peanuts’ and peanut oil imported from Papua and New Guinea and other sources.
Passionfruit juice and pulp: The board recommended that there be no change in the protective duties on these products but that the volume of imports from Papua and New Guinea permitted entry at concessional rates of duty be increased. The Australian industry had requested cancellation of concessional entry and increased protective duties.
In each of these three cases, the Government gave effect to the Tariff Board’s recommendations.
m asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
On what matters and dates in the last financial year has (a) the Minister made a reference to the Tariff Board, (b) the board held an inquiry, (c) the board made a report or (d) the Minister acted on a report?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Purchase of Destroyers.
t.- On 16th August, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) asked without notice a series of questions concerning the order placed in the United States of America for the building of two guided missile destroyers of the Charles F. Adams Class for the Royal Australian Navy.
In reply I stated quite definitely that the purchase of these two ships was in no way related to or conditioned by any loan which the Government had raised or would raise in future on the New York market. I undertook to have a prepared answer made available on other points in the questions which concerned the Treasury. This has been done and I now inform the honorable member that the purchase of the two destroyers was arranged with the United States Government in the same way as the purchase of Hercules aircraft was arranged with the United States of America some time ago. The purchase of the destroyer is to be financed by annual instalment payments to the United States Government, but subject to the condition that the full cost of each vessel will be met within three years of the date on which the vessel is delivered to the Royal Australian Navy. The amount paid each year will be included as a debit in the balance of payments and will reduce our overseas reserves in the same way as any other overseas payments. The transaction is a straight-out arrangement for purchase of the ships and, as already stated, is not related to or conditioned in any way by any loan which the Government had raised or would raise in future on the New York market.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 September 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1961/19610906_reps_23_hor32/>.