24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received the return to the writ which I issued on 31st July last for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Batman in the State of Victoria to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Alan Charles Bird. By the endorsement on the writ it is certified that Samuel James Benson has been elected.
Mr. Samuel James Benson was introduced and made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the division of Batman, Victoria.
– Mr. Speaker, as the House is unhappily aware, Senator Maxwell William Poulter died on 2nd September. He was elected for Queensland to the Senate only last December, but a long illness prevented him from taking his seat in this Parliament. Dr. Poulter was a comparatively young man. He was only 49 years of age when he died, and until his illness he was also a very active man, both mentally and physically. He was a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Tasmania, and had gone further and taken the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Education at the Columbia University in the United States of America. He was for ten years a member of the staff of the University of Queensland, and at the time of his death was senior lecturer in education.
Sir, it is an honorable ambition for a citizen to serve in the Parliament of the nation. It is an ambition that is realized by a comparative handful of people, and it is indeed a very sad circumstance that Dr. Poulter, having achieved this ambition by the -votes of the people, should have been struck down by death before he could take his place in the Parliament. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Senator Maxwell William Poulter, a senator for the State of Queensland, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I support the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in the tribute that he has paid to the memory of the late Senator Maxwell William Poulter, who had the sad distinction of being elected a member of the Senate while being destined never to take his seat. There cannot have been too many instances of men being elected by the people to membership of this Parliament and never having the satisfaction of being sworn in and occupying the seats to which they were elected. Senator Poulter did come here at the opening of the 24th Parliament. Some honorable members of this House may have met him. At that time he was sick, but he had no idea of the tragedy that was ahead of him. He certainly did not know then - nor did anybody else - that he was suffering from incurable cancer. In the months preceding the last general election he waged a very active and vigorous campaign. He seemed to be completely healthy, and he left no stone unturned in his efforts to win a seat in the Senate as a representative of Queensland.
Senator Poulter was a man who had made his own way of life, as many people in this country have had to do and have been the better for it. He had to keep himself while attending school and university, and he had a brilliant scholastic career. He was a Bachelor of Commerce, a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Education. He would have had much to give to the Parliament of the Commonwealth had death not struck him down at such an early age. He was Principal of the Teachers’ Training College at Launceston in 1950-51. He was a lecturer at Wayne University in Detroit, United States of America, for a year, and for the past ten years he was senior lecturer in education at the University of Queensland.
He stood three times for election to the Commonwealth Parliament, twice unsuccessfully. He stood, ] remember, once at least for the seat of Darwin, now Braddon, in Tasmania. That was in 1951. He was also a candidate for the Senate in 1958 as a Queensland representative. He was No. 3 on the Australian Labour Party’s ticket at that time and he was unsuccessful. When he was finally elected he looked forward to the opportunity that lay ahead of him in giving service to the Australian people in a wider sphere.
As his career indicates, Senator Poulter was supremely interested in education, particularly in its social and political aspects. He saw education as a powerful instrument for the achievement of greater equality and greater opportunity, and for the promotion of the true welfare of all members of society. He saw widespread education as the basis of an enlightened democracy. Both as a man with a profound sense of social justice and as a student of Australian history, he believed that through the Commonwealth Parliament he could act, as a member of the party whose cause he espoused, to bring about social progress and social change. That was his belief, and it was a great misfortune for him and his family that he died so young. I join with the Prime Minister in offering to his widow and three young daughters, the profound sympathy of this House in their great and irreparable loss and in their sad bereavement.
– I associate the members of the Australian Country Party with the motion proposed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The members of my party wish to associate themselves with the expressions of sympathy to the widow and family of the late Senate Poulter. We regret the tragedy that has befallen this man, who had such a promising career and such great scholastic qualifications. We appreciate the loss that his death undoubtedly means to his party, and we deeply regret the deep grief that has been caused to his widow and children. We associate ourselves with the motion before the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– Before we go on with the normal business of the sitting, I think all honorable members would agree that I should refer, with pleasure, to the return of the Leader of the Opposition to his duties in this place. He has had a pretty difficult time. He has gone through a patch of bad health and we are delighted to see him back here, apparently in full vigour, although we will test the measure of his vigour, of course, in the usual way in the course of the sitting. We would all like to say to him, “ We are very glad that you are back and hope that you are in good form “.
– I thank the Prime Minister and honorable members for their good wishes. I shall try to justify the Prime Minister’s confidence that I have been restored to good health and shall test my health as best I can in the months ahead by the vigour I display in the performance of my parliamentary duties, always having regard to my doctor’s advice to take things easy for a while. I shall do that, but I shall not do it to the neglect of my responsibilities in the discharge of my parliamentary duties.
I am most grateful to honorable members of all parties for their many inquiries about my health during my illness. I assure them that I appreciate deeply all they have said to me privately during my illness and since I left hospital. I thank the Prime Minister for his own concern for my health and for the several visits he paid me. When on one occasion he had to be kept waiting because I was being attended to by my medical adviser and the nurses, I did my best to assure him, when he did see me, that it was not out of any disrespect for him or his office that I wanted to keep him out.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer: Has he yet examined the repercussions on all sections of the community of the new banking charges that came into operation yesterday? Has his attention been directed to statements by spokesmen for retailers’ organizations that the new charges will add substantially to costs and that these additional costs will have to be passed on to the general public? Will he consider conferring with representatives of the trading banks with a view to having the charges modified? If not, will he examine his powers under the banking legislation with a view to ascertaining to what extent the Commonwealth Trading Bank rs bound to apply the same charges as the private banks and to what extent he can intervene to protect the customers of the Commonwealth Trading Bank in this matter?
– I followed this matter as best I could at a distance. Of course, prior to the rising of the House I had made quite a lengthy comment in reply to the honorable member for Balaclava, and I refer the Leader of the Opposition to that reply. Not only have I examined the legal position as it stands under the legislation, but I have also taken the opportunity to refresh my memory on what the Leader of the Opposition himself had to say, when he made a very important speech on this subject in May, on this general question of the freedom of the banking system from unwarranted government intervention. As I recall, he said that it was not the business of this Parliament to try to fix the profits of the banking system and that if action were needed it could be taken under the taxation legislation. Honorable gentlemen interested in this subject may be interested to see what the attitude of the Opposition was at that time as disclosed by its leader.
As I think the Leader of the Opposition will be aware, the powers of the Reserve Bank of Australia in this matter are limited. I understand that arrangements have been made by the trading banks to relate their charges to the degree of activity in the accounts. This is subject to certain exceptions. For example, I understand that exemptions will be allowed on social service and government pension cheques. I wish to have an opportunity to consider the point raised by the honorable gentleman about the banks which are under government ownership, and I direct his attention to the basis of the reply which I gave to the honorable member for Balaclava in August. If I consider that I can usefully add to that later, 1 shall do so.
– My question, also, is directed to the Treasurer and relates to the same subject. By way of explanation, I wish to say that I also have heard that the trading banks have stated that they will make no charge for cashing pensioners’ cheques when these cheques are cashed at the banks. However, in the past, many tradespeople have obliged pensioners by cashing pension cheques for them, and it is probable that these tradespeople will have to withdraw this service if they have to bear a charge for each cheque cashed. Will the Treasurer ask the trading banks whether cheques issued by the Department of Social Services and the Repatriation Department may be negotiated without being subject to the new bank charges?
– The information on this matter which I have at present indicates that a collection fee will not he charged when such cheques are cashed for the payee; nor will a fee be charged to other customers who pay in these cheques, so long as the cheques are grouped together and identified as exempt cheques. I think that covers the point raised by the honorable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. I ask whether he has brought pressure to bear on the management of the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory at Lithgow to refuse co-operation with a smelting firm, thus causing a curtailment of the firm’s activities and the dismissal of workers. I bring to the Minister’s attention front-page headlines in the “ Lithgow Mercury “ in these terms -
Are politicians using spite to crush industry?
The article also alleged -
Political pressure has been blamed-
– Order! The honorable member is putting himself out of order by quoting a newspaper report. I suggest that he ask his question.
– I read the report to verify the facts, Sir. Will the Minister say whether action was taken by him? If so, at whose request did he act, and what were the reasons for his intervention? Is the Minister in a position to say whether a firm promise was made by the management of the Small Arms Factory that facilities would be available, and all possible assistance would be given, to the smelting company? Because of the serious unemployment problems-
– Order! the honorable member is now out of order. His question is becoming far too long.
– I am coming to the end of it, Mr. Speaker. Because of the serious unemployment problems affecting the Lithgow district, will the Minister clarify this matter as speedily as possible?
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that at no stage has the management of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory been instructed not to extend assistance to Lithgow Smelters Proprietary Limited. As I recall it, the story is that when the company was set up - I think some, two or three years ago - the proprietor approached the Lithgow Small Arms Factory and was given certain assistance in the establishment of the plant by way of engineering services and drawings. At that time some sample tests were made, but Mr. Barker, who, I understand, is the principal of the company, was told that such tests could not be made as a regular practice.
More recently, when it became permissible for the company to export its products, Mr. Barker again approached the Lithgow Small Arms Factory and again asked, not only that sample tests should be made, but that certificates should be supplied as well. On this occasion the factory refused the request on two grounds, first, that there is not sufficient laboratory capacity to enable tests to be made for outside organizations; and secondly, that the factory has no control over the production processes at Lithgow Smelters Proprietary Limited. The factory intimated, therefore, that it was not prepared to issue a certificate which, at the best of times, could apply only to samples supplied to it. I can assure the honorable gentleman that as and when laboratory capacity is available, the factory stands ready to do the tests on a spasmodic basis. For the reasons given, however, they cannot be done regularly.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service by referring to a report which appeared in a Sydney newspaper on 28th August last that 16,000 metropolitan secondary school students would take part in a programme of industrial visits during the school holidays.
– Order! The honorable member is out of order in quoting from a newspaper report. He may direct attention to it but he must not quote from it. ;
– It was reported that secondary school students would take part in a programme of industrial visits during school holidays organized by the Commonwealth Employment Service in co-operation with the Department of Education. While complimenting these interests on their initiative in such a worth-while enterprise, I ask the honorable gentleman whether the object of this exercise was to aid students in a smooth transfer from school to jobs of their liking in industry. Is it intended that these visits by students will be the forerunner of a programme of visits in the future designed to be a real aid to potential careerists?
– Replying to the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question first, may I say that for some years the Commonwealth Employment Service has arranged for various employers to show to students about to leave school the wide range of occupations which they can enter. The purpose of this is to enable students to choose from many and diverse occupations instead of being restricted, perhaps, to an occupation that is known to their parents. As to the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question, the department not only shows films to students - last year they were shown to about 250,000 students - but arranges for the publication of pamphlets and for visits to industrial plants to show to young people the wide field of activity which they may enter. I agree with the honorable gentleman that this is a very worthwhile enterprise.
I should like to express my gratitude particularly to Rotary clubs, which are complementing the work of the department in trying to place young people effectively.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Have the great number of requests from school bodies in the various States for additional assistance for education been brought to his notice? Is it possible for the Commonwealth Government to make special amounts available to the States for education, or is it incumbent upon the States to allocate as they see fit for education purposes the funds that they receive from the Commonwealth?
– It is, of course, quite true that whatever money the States receive they allocate according to their own judgment. I have referred to that circumstance many times before. As to the moneys provided by the Commonwealth, I have almost completed the draft of a statement - I am sorry to say, having been away, I have not had time to put the final touches to it yet-
– Where did you go?
– I went overseas. It is much better to be overseas than half-seas over.
– That is questionable.
– It depends on the point of view. I had hoped that to-day, before discussion was resumed on the Estimates, I would be able to read a short, factual statement tin these matters. It is not quite ready. I hope to clear it up in the next day or two. As soon as it is ready I shall, with the leave of the House, make a statement and table it, having in mind that at some convenient time thereafter honorable members might desire to debate it.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Trade by stating that I have been waiting patiently for the report from the special advisory authority who has conducted an inquiry into a request by the Australian citrus juice industry for urgent temporary protection against import competition. Now that the report has been received I ask whether the right honorable gentleman knows that, after an examination of the situation, the special advisory authority found that there was no necessity at this juncture for any urgent action to protect the Australian industry. Is the Minister aware that many people inside and outside the Australian citrus fruit industry do not agree with that finding? Will he have the position of the Australian citrus juice industry re-examined with a view to reconsidering this decision?
– I am aware that the Australian citrus fruit industry is quite concerned at the very low prices for citrus fruits and is, therefore, very conscious of any import competition. It was because of this situation that the importation of citrus juices was referred to the special advisory authority for consideration and advice. As I understand it, the advisory authority found that there was no need, at this juncture, for any special action to protect the Australian industry. If my memory is right, he observed, at the same time, that a close watch should be kept on imports in the ensuing months. I can assure the honorable member, and other honorable members who are concerned with the industry, that the Department of Trade will work in close consultation with the citrus industry to watch importations. If new circumstances develop, such as a damaging flow of imports, or if there is a likelihood of such a flow, the matter will be referred back to the special advisory authority.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether the Commonwealth entered into an agreement with Ampol Petroleum Limited permitting or approving of the company’s registering the oil tanker “ T. J. Adams “ outside Australia. Do the terms of this agreement enable the Ampol Petroleum company to engage a cheap-labour, foreign crew in preference to a crew operating under Australian conditions? Are the terms under which crews may be employed to operate ships registered in Australia determined by Commonwealth courts established for the purpose of dealing with such industrial questions? If so, is the action of the Government only a means of allowing shipowners to evade the legally established labour conditions for the shipping industry in this country? If there is any other reason for the
Government’s action will the Minister state what it is?
– As the honorable member is well aware, there has been a concerted movement by the Seamen’s Union of Australia to bring disfavour on the arrangements made with Ampol Petroleum Limited for its ship to be built at Whyalla. The Ampol company was prepared to build the ship at Whyalla, at a considerable loss to itself, when employment was required. That can be confirmed at any time. If the honorable member wants an answer to his question he should listen instead of interjecting.
– You are not answering the question.
– I am answering it. You are not getting the answer that you want; that is your trouble. The arrangement was accepted by the Whyalla industry, and was accepted gratefully by those who would have been out of employment if the Commonwealth Government had not approved that decision. To come here at this time with objections to the arrangement and to endeavour to resist it, when it was an understood thing that the ship would be registered outside of Australia - if that had not been understood the ship would not have been built at Whyalla - is to make a travesty of the facts; and honorable members opposite should not associate themselves with such action.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Whilst carrying out his high-level task for Australia overseas was the right honorable gentleman able to send personal congratulations to Jock Sturrock, who, incidentally, lives in the electorate of Balaclava, and the crew of “ Gretel “, whose performance in the America’s Cup gave a tremendous fillip to Australia throughout the world? Will the Government consider assisting financially any future challenge by Australia for the America’s Cup, in view of the excellent publicity and goodwill obtained by our country as a result of the recent contest?
– At least “Gretel” had an Australian crew.
– Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that at least “ Gretel “ had an Australian crew. I thought it had Australian backers, an Australian naval architect and high-quality workmanship by Australian boatbuilders as well as an Australian crew, and a great deal of Australian goodwill and enormous success and publicity and goodwill in the United States. I am happy to tell the honorable member for Balaclava that my wife, who had some interest in the yacht, sent a message, on our joint behalf, along the lines that he indicated. As to the rest of the honorable member’s question, I reserve my position.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Primary Industry by referring to the report of the committee of inquiry on wool and its statement that the present system of wool auctions leaves the wool-grower in a vulnerable position should further concentrations of buying occur. Is the Minister aware of reports from Japan that seven Japanese woolbuying firms have closed down, that three firms have amalgamated and that others have altered their business structure? Further, is he aware of a report indicating that the Japanese Wool Importers Association is considering a plan to divide woolimporting firms into two groups in order to eliminate what they term excessive competition? Have these reports been confirmed and, if so, what action does the Minister propose to take to protect Australian wool-growers from this proposed reduction in competition on the Australian wool market and its inevitable effect in the lowering of wool prices?
– I answered a question similar to this just before the recess. I do not know of any alteration in the situation since that time. Investigations made through the Senior Australian Government Trade Commissioner in Tokyo did not at that stage confirm the reports to which the honorable member refers. The evidence shows that Japanese wool-buying in Australia is still of substantial merit. The Japanese are buying considerable quantities of our wool and are holding their position on the Australian market. Japanese competition for our wool is not as strong as it was last year, but, after all, it is still very substantial. It is interesting to hear the comments of members of the Opposition who voted against the Japanese Trade Agreement and Japanese wool-buying altogether. Members opposite are not consistent in their attitude. They did not want the Japanese market and, now that it is not as strong as they would like it to be, they want us to take further action to strengthen it. Japanese wool-buying figures show that the Japanese are still buying more of our wool than any other country, and are still buying more than double the amount of wool bought by the United Kingdom at the present wool auctions.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that Russian refugees from communism, who settled in north China, have in many cases had vises to enter Australia but have been unable to use them because they were not released by the Chinese authorities? Is it a fact that the Communist Chinese authorities are now letting some of these people out of China, and can he assure them that there will be a welcome for them in Australia?
– The problem of settling White Russians in this country has never been an easy one, as the honorable gentleman and the House will realize, but, as honorable members may have noticed, I made a statement over the week-end showing that, as a result of rather an unexpected purge or exodus occasioned by the Chinese authorities in the Three Rivers province in northern China fairly recently, approximately 1,000 White Russians are expected to arrive in Australia. I need hardly say that providing they can meet with the usual qualifications we shall receive them most warmly and help them in every way we can. I think it can truly be said that for a long time our attitude has been sympathetic in this direction, and I would remind my honorable friend that in the last ten years, in spite of the difficulties that he has referred to, Australia has been able to receive 8,000 White Russians from China and from neighbouring parts. I assure the honorable member for Mackellar that the
Government’s attitude remains unchanged in this regard, and we shall be only too glad to help those unfortunate people with all the means in our power.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Just before the right honorable gentleman left for his visit to the United Kingdom he said that one of his reasons for making the visit was to discuss questions about sterling exchange in the event of Britain joining the Common Market. I ask him whether he sought or received any guarantees to indemnify Australia, which holds the largest reserves of sterling in the world, should Britain have to devalue sterling if or when she joins the Common Market.
– The particular phrase to which the honorable gentleman refers was not used by me; unfortunately, it was contained in a newspaper account of the interview which I gave at the time to several pressmen. What I did say was that the financial and monetary aspects of the Treaty of Rome and the United Kingdom’s entry into the Common Market had not, so far as I was aware, been fully discussed as yet by the United Kingdom with the Common Market countries, and that there did seem to be some uncertainty as to what the future held in this respect. I said I would be looking for opportunities while in Europe to pursue this matter further. I discussed it in Brussels with Mr. Columbo, who for some months had been the chairman of the Council of Ministers, and then with the Chancellor of the Exchequer when I got to London. It is quite obvious that there has been at this stage very little discussion on these matters between the United Kingdom and the Common Market countries. I was assured by the Chancellor, as I had been by his predecessor that it was not expected that there would be serious problems for Australia in future in going on the capital market in the United Kingdom. Indeed, there was even the possibility that, with London strengthened as a financial centre, there might be even more investment capital flowing out to Australia, but, these are all matters of conjecture at this stage.
Australia is the largest holder of sterling reserves and as such, of course, we have a very acute interest in the strength of sterling. Measures have been taken in recent times by European countries and the United States of America, in conjunction with the United Kingdom, to take action under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund to strengthen the position both of the dollar and of sterling as the two great reserve currencies of the world.
– I address a question to the Minister for Territories. Is it intended to change the law relating to drinking of alcoholic beverages by the natives of Papua and New Guinea? If so, what educational programme to demonstrate the true purpose of the amending legislation will be adopted?
– For some time past a committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Nelson has been holding an inquiry in the Territory on the question whether or not there should be any amendment of the laws in respect of drinking. That committee is expected to present its report within a matter of a week or two, and until its report is presented, of course, it is not proper for me to comment on the possible contents of the report or on what action the Administration might take in regard to the report. However, with reference to the second part of the honorable member’s question, I should like to make this comment: There has been an understanding between myself and various organizations that are interested in the matter that if and when - and I say “ if and when “ - there is a change in the law in respect of drinking by the inhabitants of Papua and New Guinea, then the Administration will engage in an educational programme and will look for the co-operation of temperance organizations in that educational programme so that any privileges of drinking that may be extended to the people will not lead to abuse or disadvantage to them. If there should be a change we shall look forward to receiving the co-operation of temperance organizations in such an educational campaign.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that a system of keeping secret dossiers on all members of the staff of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation is, and has for many years been, in operation? Also, is it a fact that branch managers and heads of sections are compelled to submit a confidential and secret report on each member of their staffs at least once a yeal? Is the system in operation in the Commonwealth Banking Corporation similar to the system which was rejected by the Australian Broadcasting Commission after objection had been raised by the A.B.C. staff association? Will the Treasurer undertake to examine this matter in order to see whether the system in operation in the Commonwealth Banking Corporation is as un-Australian, dictatorial and open to abuse as the one rejected by the A.B.C? If so, will he take immediate steps to ensure that the secret dossiers are destroyed, and that a different system of staff records is implemented?
– I have no personal knowledge of the matters referred to by the honorable gentleman. I shall see what information I can secure for him, but I would add just this: I do know the chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the members of his board and the senior officers of the corporation, and I find it impossible to believe that they would lend themselves to practices which would be regarded by this Parliament as undesirable or un-Australian.
– My question is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Mackellar, and is likewise directed to the Minister for Immigration. By way of preface to the question I point out that the White Russians in the Three Rivers area fled in 1921 from the terror that the Bolsheviks imposed on the kulaks, and established in the Three Rivers area a model agricultural village.
– The honorable member is giving information.
– This is all by way of preface to my question.
– Order! The honorable member will realize that he must not make the prefatory matter too long.
– Those White Russians brought prosperity to what had been an arid area. I ask whether it is a fact that the Chinese reds offered the White Russians of the Three Rivers area the opportunity to become members of the collective system of farming, that the offer was refused and that the White Russians were thereupon expelled from China. Will the Minister study this matter and see whether the talents of those people for the farming of difficult areas may be brought into play in Australia? Will he ensure that they will not be sent to work in secondary industry where their talent for farming would be lost to this country?
– I have some slight knowledge of the matters to which my honorable friend refers. Quite obviously, it would be to the interest of this country if those people, who are now going to be admitted, can be placed in rural industry and in primary production generally.
– There are thousands of Australians wanting to go on the land.
– I need hardly say that although it may not always be easy, nonetheless those refugees should be assisted in this matter, and will be assisted, I am quite sure, by my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service and certainly by my department. As a countryman myself, like the honorable member for Macarthur, I am naturally only too eager to see more people enter rural industry, and my own efforts and those, I am sure, of the Minister for Labour and National Service, will be directed towards that happy end.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Has consideration been given to a suggestion made by the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission that the fifth television channel to serve city areas be reserved exclusively for educational purposes? If this matter has not been considered, will he give an assurance that consideration will be given to it and, if possible, that the matter will be left in the hands of the A.B.C.?
– The important question of the future use of television for educational purposes has received attention for some time now from all bodies interested in the matter. For instance, not only the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, but also many university authorities have been in consultation to determine what is the best method of achieving the object of using television for educational purposes. I have some preliminary reports on the matter, and I can assure the honorable gentleman and the House that the question whether the fifth channel should be reserved purely for educational purposes is receiving continuous attention.
– In directing a question to the Minister for Primary Industries I explain that I understand that a recent meeting of State Ministers in control of fisheries decided to call a special meeting of representatives of the south-eastern States, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Department of Primary Industry to discuss the necessity for uniform regulations governing the management of fisheries, particularly cray fisheries in the south-eastern States. Can the Minister say what aspect of the management of fisheries will be discussed at this conference?
– The report of the committee of officers that dealt with this matter recommended that such a conference be called to discuss all aspects of management of fisheries, particularly of crayfish, but the terms under which the conference will be held will be wide enough to embrace consideration of any matter brought forward by any State Minister.
– I wish to address a question to the Minister for Trade. What was the value of direct orders received and brought back to Australia by recent trade missions to the Middle East and to South
American countries, and of direct orders received through any other trade missions that have gone overseas with the authority of the Department of Trade during the last twelve months?
– I cannot answer the question at the moment, and I really do not know whether I shall ever be able to answer it. These trade missions are arranged on the initiative of the Government and they are serviced by officers of the Department of Trade, but they are made up of private individuals who meet all their own expenses and who go abroad in order to transact their own business. I do not think I would feel competent to ask them what firm orders they had received or what orders were in prospect. The value of the trade missions is not to be judged, I feel sure, on the actual cash orders received.
– But they are very important.
– They are very important, and they are an indicator. However, they would be a much better indicator in a country in which there is an established pattern of trade than in one in which there has been no previous pattern of trade and where there will obviously be some exploratory commercial passes before actual trade transactions take place. I am not avoiding the honorable member’s question, but I am sure that with his commercial experience he will understand me when I say that I doubt whether I could ever answer the question. However, I will make inquiries, and if any information is available 1 will provide him with it.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Can he tell the House the source of the funds, amounting to £8,000, sent by the Seamen’s Union early this year to assist in financing Communist cells in the Seamen’s Union in Great Britain?
– I have not the information sought by the honorable gentleman, but 1 will make inquiries, and if 1 can obtain reliable information I will let him have it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. For the purpose of computing the amount of permissible income for a year of an age or invalid pensioner, is the commencing date the same as that on which payment of pension commences, or is it 1st January in each year or some other date? Would an age or invalid pensioner who had no property, but who received an income of £182 during the first six months of the year and nothing during the second six months, suffer any reduction of total pension for the year?
– The date about which the honorable member inquires is the date on which the person in question qualifies for the pension. That date having been established, the permissible income,, as it is still called, may be spread over the period of twelve months from that date, and may not exceed £182 in that period of twelve months without affecting the rate of pension.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Minister recently stated that a study, which was recommended in February last, had been completed of proposals for the training of juniors in the seventeen to twenty years age group who had left school too late for normal apprenticeship. What action does the honorable gentleman hope will be taken as a result of that study?
– For some months my department has been examining the whole question of technical training and apprenticeship, but it was prevented from pursuing these activities because the Metal Trades Employers Association lodged with the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission an application for variation of some clauses of the Metal Trades Award relating to apprenticeship. Mr. Justice Kirby, of the commission, has been in consultation with the employers and the trade union movement, and has suggested that it would be wise if a national conference were convened to deal with this problem, and that 1 or one of my officers should chair the conference. This matter is of enormous importance, and I hope that shortly the employers and the trade unions will meet Sir Richard Kirby and agree with the suggestions that he has made.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. It arises out of our failure to accept responsibility for the actions of some Australian soldiers in Japan. Has any claim for the pension payable to deserted wives been made by any Japanese wives of Australian soldiers who deserted those wives when it suited them and left them in Japan? If such a claim were made, would the Department of Social Services accept responsibility and treat the claim in the same way as it would if the desertion had taken place in Australia?
– I have no personal knowledge of any such claim, but I will be pleased to make inquiries, and if there is any useful information I can pass on to the honorable member I will gladly do so.
– I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 42).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 43).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 44.)]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 45).]
Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 42 to 45 which I have just tabled relate to tariff alterations which have been made since Parliament rose in August last. In accordance with Section 273 EA of the Customs Act, notices of the proposals were published in the Commonwealth Gazette. Copies of the notices were circulated to honorable members at the time. These proposals provide for temporary duties on -
Pillow cases. 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, its esters and salts and certain preparations thereof.
In each of these instances, the temporary duties were imposed following reports by a special advisory authority.
The normal protective needs of the industries concerned have been referred to the Tariff Board for full inquiry and report. The temporary duties will remain in effect only until the Government has taken action on the final reports of the board but in any case not longer than three months after the receipt of the relevant reports.
At a later stage I shall table the reports which gave rise to the foregoing changes. I shall also table a report by a special advisory authority on certain other weedicides and insecticides, including those commonly known as 2,4-D and D.D.T., recommending the continuance of the existing temporary duties. This recommendation has been accepted by the Government and the necessary Customs Tariff Proposal will be introduced at a later date. I command the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the House reports by a special advisory authority on the following subjects: -
Plastic building sheets. 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, its esters and salts and certain preparation.; thereof. - Weedicides and insecticides.
I also lay on the table of the House a report by a special advisory authority on -
Citrus juices, which does not call for any legislative action.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 29th August (vide page 848).
The consideration of the Estimates in groups of departments which have a natural association with one another has met the convenience of the committee in past years, and I understand that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) concurs in this course.
– There being no objection, the Treasurer’s suggestion will be followed.
Remainder of proposed vote of £1,352,000.
– Mr. Chairman, in discussing this vote I believe that we should give consideration to the position of this Parliament, its authority and its prestige throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. We should have a look at one or two matters in a constructive and non-party way. The first matter to which I direct the attention of the committee is that this building is a Parliament House but it is becoming an Executive house. In British parliamentary practice a firm line has been drawn between the Parliament and the Executive. In the House of Commons, for example, the privileges of the Parliament are guarded very jealously and the Executive is not allowed to tread on them.
In Australia our position may be a little different because our numbers are few and therefore the members of the Executive, the Ministers, must always be on call for divisions. In addition we have a system of snap divisions which is not in practice in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, it is undesirable that the accommodation in this building should be directed very largely towards the convenience of Ministers. That should not be the position in a Parliament House. This is a Parliament House and not primarily an Executive house. I suggest that what is happening is not in the best interests of good government, even as far as the Ministers are concerned. They and their secretaries and staffs occupy suites of rooms scattered throughout this building. It is not always easy for Ministers to confer and get together in a coherent way. Furthermore, security in this building is and must be very lax because members of the public and the visitors of members on both sides of the Parliament constantly are going to numerous rooms.
Some time ago there was a proposal to construct an Executive wing on the House of Representatives side of this building, just near the Prime Minister’s suite. This wing would be a relatively small and inexpensive building, but it would allow Ministers to be housed together under conditions of proper security and also allow the accommodation in this building to be used, as it should be, for the convenience of members of the Parliament and the better discharge of members’ duties. The facilities for members to see their constituents who visit them in this building are not as good as they should be. Very often people come to Canberra to see members of the Government parties or the Opposition party about a bill or a matter before the Parliament and proper facilities are not available. All these things seem to me to be very wrong.
I know that people will say: “We are going to have a new Parliament House. Do not waste time and do not waste money; let us get on with building it.” But the new Parliament House is quite a large number of years away. In the last fifteen years since the war-time stringency, surely it should have been possible to build a small Executive wing that would make this building workable as a Parliament House. The money spent would not be wasted because if at some future time - it may be quite a long time ahead - we move into a new Parliament House, the Executive wing would be available for use as government offices or for whatever function the present building is then used. Such a building would enable the Parliament to work much better. It would do something to restore the authority of this Parliament. It is true, Sir, that the authority and prestige of this Parliament are being gradually eroded away.
Another thing we should be doing is reforming and bringing up to date our Standing Orders. Honorable members will remember that just before the Parliament went into recess a report of the Standing Orders Committee was brought before us. No doubt honorable members, in the recess, have taken the opportunity to read that report. It does not deal with any big matters; instead it does something that is very necessary. I commend the committee for doing this. The report deals with a number of small matters. It brings matters of formal procedure up to date. These are valuable reforms, but they are small reforms. The committee has not addressed itself to the matters of substance. Perhaps it felt that they were outside its competence, as the Standing Orders Committee.
One of the reasons why the Parliament is not enjoying the prestige to which it is entitled is that bills are not dealt with effectively in this chamber. Amendments are not made. If an amendment is suggested or carried, the Government - I think it is very wrong in this - regards it as an affront. I believe that it would be to the advantage of all concerned if we were able to make small amendments and small improvements which do not go to the substance of bills. The Government, unfortunately, regards the proposing of even a small amendment as a personal matter and an affront. In the time I have been in the Parliament, very few amendments by private members have been carried. I have had one or two carried, but I do not think that in the whole time I have been in the Parliament more than eight or ten amendments have been carried, apart, of course from amendments that have been introduced by the Government. This is wrong.
Perhaps the time has come for us to institute here a much better committee system on the lines of the system that has been operating in the House of Commons for so long. I refer honorable members to pages 21 to 23 of the report submitted by Mr. Tregear, then Clerk-Assistant of the House of Representatives, in 1953. In referring to the House of Commons procedure he said that a government bill is referred to a standing committee. Each standing committee has a core of twenty members and, in choosing them, regard is had to the composition of the House. Up to 30 more members may be added, regard being had to their knowledge of the matter under consideration. The chairman is appointed by the Speaker from a panel of temporary chairmen. He may come from either side of the House. On a dais at the end of the committee room is seated the chairman, with the committee clerks on his left and the draftsmen and departmental advisers on his right. Members sit below the dais, and the committee is like a small parliament. May I read to the committee Mr. Tregear’s view on this matter. He said -
There is high merit in the Standing Committee System. It 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.
As more than one Committee can operate at the same time, there is a considerable cutting down of the total days occupied by Committee proceedings on Bills, and the House is relieved of a great amount of business. 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.
This is not a matter that can be considered just off the cuff. Mr. Tregear’s report has been before us since 1953. Is it not time we did something about it? We waste a lot of time in the House, as honorable members very well know. Our present system of committees is definitely unsatisfactory. It does not allow honorable members to participate - I use the words of Mr. Tregear - “ in framing legislation “. I do not suggest for one moment that we can adopt without qualification the House of Commons procedure, but I think we should be considering not just these small though good reforms that are before us in the report of the Standing Orders Committee but something more fundamental - something that would make the House a real operative legislative chamber and that would to some extent assuage party feeling. We could not get rid of party feeling entirely, but a committee system would help us, when we were considering legislation, always to present the best bill and to make amendments which the Government could accept without a sense of personal affront because they would be offered by members who had some knowledge of the subject. Honorable members would have the constant hope that they would be. able to improve the details of the matter before them.
I do not think that the Parliament should be dismissed simply as a party machine.
I know this happens. I know we cannot avoid the hostilities between the Government and the Opposition. But when we come to consider the details of legislation - not the general principles but the details - surely there is enough goodwill amongst us to get together, as they do in the House of Commons, in a “ let’s get down to work “ atmosphere, without the full rigmarole of debate. If this can be done in the House of Commons, surely it is not beyond us here.
I do not put this forward as something original, because it is already in Mr. Tregear’s report, which is nine years old. I put it forward as something that we should be doing if we are to restore the authority and prestige of the Parliament. I am well aware that our members number only a quarter or a fifth of the members of the House of Commons. But even allowing for this difference, there is room for us to bring our procedure up to date and to make the Parliament a real and effective deliberative body.
.- There are several matters to which I desire to direct attention when dealing with the estimates for the Parliament. The first relates to parliamentary privilege. Some years ago, two private citizens were arraigned before the Parliament. They were tried and sentenced by the Parliament, and in my opinion very few people were satisfied that the matter had been dealt with reasonably and fairly. Because of the widespread public dissatisfaction at the time, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gave an undertaking that at an early date the Parliament would be afforded an opportunity to review the question of parliamentary privilege so that it could be put in some regular form. As we all know, the Parliament is empowered to determine this matter, but until such time as the Parliament does determine it, we follow the practice of the House of Commons.
Periodically, the Prime Minister has been asked when he proposed to take the course that he said some time ago was desirable. Up to this time, he has shown no desire to carry out his undertakings. I think any one who was a member of the Parliament at the time of the incident to which I have referred will now realize, if he did not realize it then, that the procedure followed by the Parliament was a wrong procedure, that the Parliament was not in a position to try the men or to hear the details of the matter in a reasonable and proper manner. In my opinion, it was not in a position to pass judgment on the men.
We have had a more recent example of what can happen in this respect. The former member for Capricornia was aggrieved by a statement made outside the Parliament and in documents circulated and posted to honorable members and to Ministers, which contained allegations made against him. He raised the matter in the Parliament and moved, with the concurrence of both the Government and the Leader of the Opposition at the time, that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges. The matter was referred to the committee and, speaking from memory, I believe both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition then intimated that they wanted the matter to be properly investigated and finalized. That was the purpose of referring the matter to the committee. I am not questioning whether the committee’s finding was the correct one, but, after dealing with the matter, the committee reported back to this Parliament that it lacked power to proceed and there the matter ended in an inconclusive way which, I should imagine, was not satisfactory to either the member or the Parliament. I should like to know from the Prime Minister when he proposes to honour the undertaking he gave to this Parliament that the question of parliamentary privilege would be raised in the Parliament, and properly discussed, determined, and regularized in some form or other.
Another matter to which I wish to refer relates to the arrangements in this parliamentary building on the occasion of the recent visit of a foreign royal couple. Included in the festivities held on the occasion of that visit was a banquet in Parliament House. That, of course, is a matter which the Government determines, but I object to the fact that on the day proceeding the banquet the facilities ordinarily available to members of Parliament were denied to them. Members of Parliament were told that no light refreshments or meals would be available in the Parliamentary dining rooms on that day. The Speaker of this House and the President of the Senate, who are in charge of this parliamentary building, are the custodians of the rights of members. They have no authority to disregard those rights. When all is said and done, the facilities for meals and refreshments in this building are provided primarily to meet the needs of parliamentarians who attend Parliament to carry out their normal duties and functions. Members of the Parliament who decided for some reason not to attend the banquet - and matters such as this are for them alone to determine - found that no arrangements had been made for them to obtain a meal in this building, and they were obliged to go elsewhere. On the day preceeding the banquet they could not even get a cup of tea. I understand that for certain hours during that day, the bar was open, which meant that those who so desired could obtain liquor, but other members who wanted an ordinary cup of tea to refresh themselves were unable to obtain it. I suggest that Mr. Speaker was not in order in closing the facilities of this Parliament to members. I submit that he is merely the custodian of the parliamentary building and the facilities that should be available for members. He has no right, power or authority to deny any member the use of those facilities.
I come now to another matter. Every one is aware that members of this Parliament are provided with certain facilities for travelling to and from the Parliament. For some years now, members of Parliament have been issued with books of vouchers for air travel. It seems to me rather remarkable that occasionally some people in this country and some newspapers, in directing attention to the growing amount of the vote for the conveyance of members of Parliament, should smear all members of the Parliament by creating the impression that every member of the Parliament abuses the travel privileges extended to him. I suggest that there should be no failure by the Government to meet requests to make available to the Parliament information relating to the use of these travel facilities.
I have directed attention to the voucher system. Although this system has now been in operation for a number of years I understand that there are some members of the Parliament who have as yet used scarcely more than one book of vouchers. I have been informed, too, that on the other hand some members of the Government are now using their sixth book of vouchers. To give some idea of how some members have used this privilege, I refer to one notable occasion when a delegation of Government members decided to visit an Australian Territory. The Australian Territory chosen for the visit was the Antarctic region. Because there was no regular transport service between Australia and the Antarctic, these Government members used their travel vouchers to obtain air transport to New Zealand. On arrival in New Zealand, they were picked up by United States Air Force planes and taken to their destination.
– Who were they?
– I forget exactly who they were, but I think the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was the leader of the delegation. I believe the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent-Hughes) was also a member of the delegation. I submit that the action taken by those members constituted an abuse of the provisions made for conveyance of members.
In my opinion, there is a very obvious reason why the Government refuses to furnish information on matters of this kind. Question after question seeking information relating to the use of particular travel facilities by members has been put on the notice-paper, and on every occasion either the Prime Minister, or the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), to whom the questions were directed, has refused to give any information whatever. On every occasion, we are referred either to the report of the Richardson committee or to a previous answer given on the same subject on another occasion. When we look up that answer in “ Hansard “, we find it to be equally as evasive. We can never get finality on this point. The Government should furnish this information to the Parliament in order to avoid placing all honorable members under a cloud of suspicion of having abused the transport facilities made available to enable members to carry out their parliamentary work efficiently.
There is one other point relating to the conveyance of members which I desire to mention. We have probably the most foolish and stupid Minister we could possibly have in the Minister for the Interior.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will withdraw that remark.
– I do, but let me mention some of the decisions the Minister has made in connexion with the transportation of members to and from Parliament. For some time now it has been the practice to provide former Ministers of the Crown with motor transport between the air terminal and their homes when proceeding to and from Parliament while ordinary members are accorded the use of motor cars only if they arrive at an air terminal after, I think, 8 o’clock at night or before 8 o’clock in the morning. I do not think that there should be any difference between the facilities provided for a former Minister of the Crown and those made available to ordinary members of Parliament. But this Minister adopts a most strange attitude in administering these provisions. For instance, when I return to Sydney from attending this Parliament, I am provided with a Commonwealth car to take me from the air terminal to my home; but if, in carrying out my parliamentary duties at some week-end when the Parliament is not sitting, I am obliged to proceed to another capital city - for instance, Melbourne - I am not provided with a car from the air terminal there because the Minister argues that, under the strict interpretation of the arrangement, I must be proceeding from the air terminal to my home before I become entitled to the use of a Commonwealth car. In my opinion, that is a stupid interpretation of the provisions. I submit that if I am entitled to the use of a car when returning to my home in Sydney, then, if my parliamentary work over the week-end requires me to go to Melbourne, I am just as much entitled to obtain the benefit in Melbourne. I think all honorable members of the Parliament will agree that a ridiculous situation has been created as a result of this decision by the Minister, and it is something that ought to be corrected.
Finally, I hope that in future the Government will be prepared to make information on these matters fully available because, if we in this Parliament are to be required to vote large sums of public money for parpurposes such as for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others we should have full particulars of what is proposed. I do not know who the “ others “ covered by this vote are and we are entitled to have that information. How can we determine this question sensibly if we have no knowledge of the uses to which the travel facilities are being put? Before we are asked to pass this proposed vote, we should be furnished with the information which I and other members have sought so often in the past.
.- Mr. Chairman, in the discussion of these estimates for the Parliament, my mind goes back to previous years when, on a number of occasions, I happened to follow the late Mr. Alan Bird, who was formerly member for Batman, and who, as we all remember, was a most sincere and earnest parliamentarian. Listening to him was always a pleasure, because he was always so earnest and constructive in the thoughts that he expressed on these estimates. I think it was last year that Mr. Bird put forward suggestions very similar to those made this afternoon by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in relation to the extension of the committee system for the consideration of legislation. If I recall rightly, the Minister in charge of the debate at that time pointed out, as, indeed, the honorable member for Mackellar has done this afternoon, that the methods and basis of the procedures of this House must necessarily differ in many respects from those of the House of Commons, by reason alone of the difference in the size of membership. However, I think that the suggestion is a constructive one and that Mr. Tregear’s report contained information on many matters of great interest and value to this Parliament.
I think that the committee system is tremendously valuable and highly important, and I am in favour of considering any worth-while extension of it. The joint standing committees of the Parliament perform a valuable and useful function. I think that the committees of Government supporters which work with Ministers in various portfolios and departments, and Opposition members’ committees also, perform very useful functions. Members, in undertaking the work of these committees, inform their minds on matters of national importance and equip themselves to take a more vital part in the debates which come up from time to time. Speaking of time, I believe that the time factor is the biggest enemy which we have to face in extending the committee system. Under the present arrangements which provide for meetings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, there is very little time for committees to meet. This means that members of Government committees, Opposition committees and those standing committees which have not power to sit while the Parliament is actually in session have to meet at lunch time or crowd their meetings into the time during which the Parliament suspends the sitting for dinner, or perhaps meet early in the morning, possibly after a very late sitting the evening before. I suggest that in none of those circumstances are members really able to give of their best in the interests of the Parliament and of the country As I have already said, Sir, I am in favour of any constructive review of the committee system.
I am honoured to have been appointed, within the last few months, a member of the panel of Temporary Chairmen of Committees. My only regret is that there are no Opposition members on this panel now, although in previous Parliaments the panel was partly made up of members of the Opposition. I think that the panel would be much more valuable and would lend much greater emphasis to the impartiality of the Chair were it to have some members of the Opposition. The Chair must necessarily at all times be impartial. I recall with pleasure having seen distinguished members of the Opposition such as the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) and the honorable member for
Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) perform their duties in the Chair with complete impartiality and dignity in accordance with the traditions of this chamber.
Now, Sir, I want to refute one or two points made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I shall do so very briefly, because time will not allow any detailed debate on these matters. The honorable member mentioned parliamentary privilege. I happen to be a member of the Committee of Privileges and was chairman of it when it last met in 1958. I do not think that the honorable member presented the situation quite accurately. However, as I have said, time does not permit me to go into the matter in detail. There may on some future occasion be an opportunity for wider discussion of parliamentary privilege. My only suggestion at this stage is that the subject of privilege is very detailed and very involved, although very limited in its application, and I do not think that we can do any better for the time being than observe, as provided in Standing Order No. 1, the law of privilege which has been evolved and established over the centuries in the Mother of Parliaments. I do not agree with the honorable member for East Sydney that any injustice has been done. As I recall the decision made by the committee in 1958, the position was that on the evidence there was no breach of privilege that could be found by the committee. I think that is the objective point.
The honorable member for East Sydney also mentioned that refreshments were not available in this building for a day or so prior to the dinner given here for the King and Queen of Thailand. Although I respect the honorable member’s right to his own opinions, I do not think that he acted properly in criticizing Mr. Speaker on this matter. The decision made was, I understand, a decision of the Joint House Committee, on which sit members of the Opposition as well as members of the Government parties, the committee being presided over by Mr. Speaker. Therefore, I do not think that it was fair of the honorable member to lay the blame for this decision - if there is any blame- on Mr. Speaker. Personally, I think the decision taken was correct. We should feel honoured to have had a visit from the royal couple of
Thailand, who are valuable allies of Australia.
– It is very significant that the honorable member for Yarra says “ Rubbish! “. It is well known that the political opinions and views of the honorable member for Yarra run completely counter to those of people in a democratic country such as Thailand.
– There is a military dictatorship there. Do not talk such rubbish.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Hindmarsh to maintain order.
– It is quite true, Sir, that this Parliament has a tremendous responsibility to the nation and that the members of this Parliament have a heavy responsibility to maintain standards of dignity and conduct. I am sorry that there is in this place a small element which does not see fit to comply with the Standing Orders and which, indeed, breaches them in defiance of the best customs and traditions of this Parliament and with complete disregard for its dignity. Those who comprise that small element of members in this place flout the Standing Orders consistently and deliberately. I have no doubt in my own mind that that very small handful of noisy members who comprise the left-wing element of the Opposition, of which the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) is a frequent spokesman, are very keen to do everything they can to denigrate this Parliament and to break down this democratic institution and establish in its place a supreme economic council similar to the sort of thing that operates in Soviet Russia. I believe that what that element is doing in trying from time to time to undermine this Parliament is inspired by writings and dictates from abroad.
My time, unfortunately, is very limited, Mr. Chairman, but while I am on this subject I should like to mention a booklet which I have in hand. It is entitled “ How Parliament can play a revolutionary part in the transition to socialism and the role of the popular masses “. No doubt the honor able member for Yarra and those who think like him are hurt by the fact that I am in possession of this booklet and happen to be discussing it when speaking to the nation. This booklet describes the role of Parliament in a Communist revolution. It was written by Jan Kozak a member of the secretariat of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The booklet came into the hands of members of this Parliament and of the United Kingdom Parliament through the good graces of a very good Labour member of the United Kingdom Parliament who is well known to all of us - the Right Honorable Lord Morrison of Lambeth, better known as Mr. Herbert Morrison. Nobody would deny that he is a great parliamentarian, a great man and especially a great Labour man. Lord Morrison wrote the introduction to this booklet.
I have not time to quote all the press opinions which have been published, but I shall outline a few. “ The Times “ of London stated that the booklet describes the art of bloodless revolution. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which is friendly towards the Opposition stated -
Communist “ Trojan horse “ methods exposed.
A Frankfurt journal reported that the booklet describes how a revolution can be obtained through Parliament. The “ Guardian “ of Manchester stated that it describes ways to subvert parliaments. I could go on to give quotations from a number of other leading newspapers all over the world about this book, which was surreptitiously obtained from a communist source in Czechoslovakia, much to the discomfort, I notice, of the honorable member for Yarra. When the honorable member for Yarra, the honorable member for East Sydney, and others who think as they do - those whom I have described as the noisy left-wing element in this Parliament - flout the traditions, principles and decencies of this Parliament, they are doing just the very type of thing that those subversive elements, in other countries and in this country, would wish to bring about.
I submit that the national parliament, the parliaments of the States, and the law courts of the country are the principal bastions and the principal ramparts of democracy. The State secretary of the Communist Party in
Queensland has been attacking me lately because, he says, I have been using my place to attack the party of which he has the honour to be State secretary. I have made it clear to him that I shall go on attacking the Communist Party to my dying day. It is my privilege and honour to do so. I am prepared to make the statement anywhere that I believe that the Communist Party and its representatives in parliaments of the democracies have only one ambition, and that is to overthrow our democratic institution of parliament and substitute a supreme economic council along Soviet lines. For this great, priceless privilege and heritage of the Parliament we pay a small price. I have in previous years worked out and given to the committee my estimate of the amount paid per head of population for the maintenance of the Parliament. Again, I have made a check and I find that the approximate annual cost per head of population under this section of the Estimates is 2s. 6d. That is a small price to pay for this great democratic institution, which is representative of the will of the people of Australia, and to which the overwhelming majority of us who sit in this place come with a feeling of humility, great honour and pride. The annual cost per head of the tax-paying population of Australia works out at slightly more than Ss. So I say that it is a small cost to pay for this great heritage.
I agree with some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) with regard to the needs of private members and the accommodation made available to them in Parliament House. It is most unfortunate, but I suppose it is inherent in the nature of this National Parliament of ours, that the set-up should be much as it is, with Ministers and their staffs occupying a considerable amount of space, and members having to be crowded three in a room. I share a room upstairs with two other members and there is hardly space to move around. I do not think that that is right. There is no private place for a member to interview the head of a department, a constituent, a visitor from abroad, or any one else, except in the presence of another member. It is not right, and I am still in favour of consideration being given to the building of a new wing, providing it is not too costly, because I believe that the establishment of a new parliament house is yet many years away.
I should like to see some adjustment made in the sitting hours of the Parliament. I believe that the staff is called upon to perform its tasks, on many occasions, at hours that are quite unreasonable. I should like to see avoidance of the end-of-session rush of legislation, which seems to be bound up inevitably not only with this Parliament but also with many other parliaments.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, I raise a point of order. It cannot have escaped your attention that, during the course of this and other debates, when certain members say something inimical to the interests of communism, there are individual members on the other side who are very quick to raise a clamour in order to cover up the comments. My point of order is this: Could you see that the names of those members on the other side who raise such a clamour are recorded in “ Hansard “ so that their constituents will be made aware of the way in which they are helping the Communists?
– Order! No point of order is involved in the matter raised by the honorable member.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has rather embarrassed me, because I was going to support his earlier and more rational remarks. I shall return to those in a moment, as some remarks made by the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) ought not to go unanswered. He paid some tribute to the Government of Thailand as a bastion of democracy, referring to it in the same terms, or at least in the same sentence, as that in which he referred to the dignity of the Parliament. Two thoughts came to my mind as he did so. First, to what extent is the dignity of the Parliament, its powers and its privileges, important to a party such as his, which does everything in its power to restrict and proscribe the powers of the Parliament, by continuing to try to make this place and its representatives a rubber stamp for the decisions of the Executive? The Government of South Australia is an example of Liberal and Country Party thinking about Parliament. It is not representative of the people; it gerrymanders the electorates, interferes with legislative processes and denies the expressed will of the people.
How can a man who is a member of such a party stand in this place and give an appearance of sincerity and integrity such as he gives, and go away from here feeling that he has made a contribution to the workings of the Parliament? I know that the honorable member is honest and sincere, but is it not possible for honorable members on the other side of the chamber once in a while to open their eyes to the inadequacies of the system administered by their own people here and now, both in this place and in State parliaments? He mentioned the will of the people of Australia. The Government at the present moment is not the expression of the will of the people of Australia. I think it was a quarter of a million votes short of a majority over the Labour Party in the votes cast at the last federal election. In this chamber, it has 62 seats, and so has the Labour Party, lt is to those thoughts, the extension of parliamentary democracy, and the need for more force and more power to lie in this chamber and the chamber opposite, that we should be turning our attention during this debate, lt is in that way that I come to support the argument and the words of the honorable member for Mackellar. We cannot be too explicit in our demands upon the Executive Government for an extension of the resources available to the Parliament by all manner of means, one of which, of course, is a more adequate legislative reference service. Another is the extension of the committee system to which honorable members have referred. The efficacy of the committee system was demonstrated to me by two committees that were appointed by the Parliament in the six or seven years that 1 have been here. The first was the Constitutional Review Committee. Half a dozen members from each side of the Parliament, starting 1 should think from almost reverse sides of politics, after a long consideration of constitutional needs, arrived at almost the same decision. In other words, by long consideration and discussion, honorable members opposite eventually arrived at the same conclusion as that at which the Labour Party arrived long ago. Any opportunity for members of both sides of the Parliament to get down to a consideration at length of specific questions, with all the resources placed at their disposal, is to the advantage of the nation, and the system ought to be extended. The other example of a committee which operated in the same way, all the members arriving at the same conclusion, was the committee which considered voting rights for aborigines. Only some twelve or fifteen months ago, in a debate in this chamber, Government representatives expressed severe doubts about the proposal and would not support it. After the committee had been round Australia and examined the question, its six members arrived at an almost unanimous decision.
There are two ways in which the committee system could be extended. The first is in relation to general considerations of government, dealing with the kind of thing now dealt with by the Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee, related in some way or other to departmental government. The other way is in relation to the consideration of specific points of legislation. This would be the greatest means of employing the capacity of members and of ensuring that legislation was closely scrutinized by the direct representatives of the people. I should hope that in the evolution of parliamentary government we should commence to take adequate steps to do just this, so that people on both sides of the- chamber and in both Houses of the Parliament would have legislation under continual review. It is a sad fact that, generally speaking, the Parliament is the instrument of the Executive, and the Executive and the Ministry have become public relations officers for the departments. It does not seem to matter how strongly equipped they are when they take up their job. We have seen in this House the way in which Ministers react. Whenever a department is under attack the Minister concerned does not stand up and say, “ In view of the allegations, I shall look into the matter and do something about it “. The moment he becomes a Minister he places himself on the defensive. In the ordinary course of human loyalties he becomes involved personally with his department’s decisions and is honour bound to stand up for them. We have seen Ministers embarrass themselves by their initial utterances in defence of departmental action.
We must somehow bring the Ministry closer to the Parliament itself. We must somehow make it feel that it is still part of the Parliament and not of departmental procedures. I do not think any one who examines the complexity of Commonwealth government can but stand in awe of the task which the Ministry has to tackle. I can sympathize with members of the Cabinet in the tremendous task that they must undertake. The scope of Commonwealth activity is increasing continually. The decisions that members of the Cabinet have to make are of such tremendous importance to the nation that somehow a great deal of this burden must be removed from them and, as the honorable member for Ryan pointed out, we members who are directly answerable to the people should have more say in the decisions that are made.
That brings me to the real point I want to make. I am pleased that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is in the chamber because I suppose he is the person who should be directing his attention to this problem. He has perhaps two years before the next election, granted there are no byelections and the like, in which he could make a real contribution to the development of parliamentary democracy. He should read the speech of the honorable member for Mackellar and should listen to mine, as I have no doubt he will.
Let me refer to the legislative reference service of the Library. We in this Parliament usually are the victims of rush when it comes to considering legislation and decisions for the good of the nation. The Government makes its decision and brings it to the House. There is little chance to change that decision. In fact, in the ordinary course of events, there is little chance for us to give it proper consideration and to bring proper information to the debate. If we had a proper legislative reference service to which the honorable member for Ryan had been able to refer, he would not have come into the chamber and made the kind of gaffe he did about the Government of Thailand. He would have been able to obtain the correct information from the Library and to use it more sensibly in this place than he did.
I direct the attention of honorable members to the urgent need to supply to members of Parliament, particularly those outside the Cabinet and the Ministry, the kind of information that Ministers, departmental officers, and their advisers have at their disposal. This can be done only by an expansion of the legislative reference service of the Library. In the last year or two steps have been taken to separate the Parliamentary Library from the National Library. The National Library is growing into a separate entity, and we must not allow the Parliamentary Library to become the Cinderella of the library service. The Parliamentary Library has a unique position in the community of libraries. It supplies information to potentially the most influential group of readers in Australia. In this Parliament there lies potentially more influence for the development of the nation than lies in any other equivalent body of people. Therefore, the kind of resources that members of Parliament have at their disposal is important to the nation.
Let me direct the attention of honorable members to the Library of Congress, its legislative reference service and some of its aims. It is designed to supply to members a very elaborate range of services. For instance, its instructions are in these terms -
Requests may be made by letter addressed to the Legislative Reference Service, Library of Congress, or by telephone. In the case of complicated inquiries, it is advisable either to make a detailed written request, or to telephone the general nature of the inquiry and ask to be called back by the appropriate division chief or specialist.
Specialists in every field are available. In the matter of research and information, the service will prepare statements, translations, charts, graphs and maps. It also arranges consultations on public and general bills, and so on. An analysis of the activities of the Library of Congress is available in our Library. It suggests that members refer to the Congressional Reports to learn exactly what is meant by the bills before them.
The necessity for this service grew because in America the legislature and the executive are separate. The legislature is conscious continually of the need to compete with a very well-informed expert system of government. The Congress is not married so closely to the executive as we are. Some 60 or 70 years have elapsed since the Congress set out to establish this system. By 1914 the legislative reference service was established on this kind of charter -
To enable the Librarian of Congress to employ competent persons to gather, classify and make available in translations, indexes, digests, compilations and bulletins, and otherwise, data for or bearing upon legislation and to render such data serviceable to Congress or Committees and members thereof.
In other words, this is the kind of service that the Prime Minister has at his disposal when trying to combat the logic and reason of honorable members on this side of the chamber. Of course, even with those resources at his disposal he is fighting an up-hill battle.
– I do not recall that having happened. You must remind me of it.
– One of my colleagues in a State parliament, when in Opposition, put it quite dramatically when he said: “ What chance have we? When we propose a motion of censure the Minister comes into the house and from behind his rampart of files picks off our arguments one by one “. That is all right if the Government is simply a defensive body for departmental decisions. But it is not. It is just as much a trustee of the Australian people as is any private member of this Parliament. It is the Government’s duty to expand the kind of information which will put us readily in a position to handle matters that come before the Parliament.
While I do not suppose that the Library of Congress has exactly the same difficulties as we have, and therefore it must have a slightly different service, I believe that we should turn our attention very closely to the kind of service that Congress has. Although the Library of Congress has to serve the representatives of some 200,000,000 people - at present about 160 people are employed in its legislative reference service alone - this is not the kind of service that we desire, having regard to the way in which we look at our Parliament. There are innumerable experts in every field and their status is such that, in the words of the Congressional Librarian -
The Library assumed that Members of Congress should be able to call upon scholarly research and counsel at least equal in competence to the re search and counsel relied upon by those who appear before congressional committees.
Neither the representatives of American business nor the representatives of the various departments of government should be able to draw upon expert opinion superior to the expert opinion available to the Congress.
A legislative reference service has been set up incorporating an American law division, a foreign affairs division, an education and public welfare division, a national resources division, a history of government division, an economics division and so on, and it has supplied specialists in every field. It feels that the specialists should be financially on a par with the experts advising the government itself.
I realize that it is difficult for the Australian Government to see itself in this dual role of being responsible not only for its departments but also for the Parliament itself, but I believe that in the development of democracy the Parliament is the more important arm and that it is essential that the gathering body of members who come from diverse interests throughout the country - people with a great deal of skill and ability - should have placed at their disposal resources of the kind to which I have referred.
I hope that the Prime Minister will examine closely the needs of the Library and discard the Public Service Board’s rather restrictive advice in relation to staffing and so on. Let us get down to the business of directing this country’s legislative processes from this Parliament. That will be done only when the resources placed at the disposal of every member are equal to those placed at the disposal of the Prime Minister.
.- It is very desirable that the prestige of members of the Commonwealth Parliament should be high but it appears to me - I hope that I am wrong - that some Australian newspapers look for news items that will disparage members of the Parliament. I refer particularly to a matter which had great publicity only recently. It concerned a grandmother who was travelling by aeroplane and was reported to have stood her ground - or, rather, to have kept her seat - while other passengers were being moved to another part of the aircraft to make room for members of Parliament.
I ask these questions: First, did the members of Parliament who were boarding the aircraft know that other passengers were being moved to make room for them? Secondly, is it fair that although the incident involved only a few members of Parliament on a certain plane, the news should have been spread throughout the country in a manner suggesting that members of Parliament generally were riding roughshod over members of the public? It is my considered opinion that any member of this House would not have accepted a seat in the circumstances I have mentioned if he were aware of the situation. Therefore, I believe that we should protest from both sides of the chamber against the wide publicity that was given to this case. 1 am sure that the members of Parliament concerned had no idea that other passengers were being moved to make room for them.
There are two or three matters under the heading of the Parliament to which I wish to refer. The honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) spoke of the committee system and how valuable it was to the Parliament. 1 do not doubt that. The honorable member also said that the time available for the committee system created a difficult problem, and I agree with him on that point also. Not many members of the Parliament are willing to stay in Canberra over the week-end.
While the honorable member was speaking 1 asked by way of interjection - and wisely he did not answer - whether he thought that committees should meet while the House was sitting. I am not suggesting that that was in his mind; but I would protest emphatically against committees meeting while the House is meeting. Actually, the House is in committee now. This is one of the most important assemblies in Australia. Matters of great moment are discussed in this place - perhaps not at this moment - during the sessions of the Parliament. Members elected to this Parliament should congregate in this chamber to discuss these matters and not in some committee. Committees presumably would be representative of both the Government and the Opposition, and if two or three committees each comprising ten or twelve members, were meeting, the attendance in this chamber would be poor, as my colleague the Government Whip will agree. The Whips in particular want to see a full attendance in this chamber, but if committees were sitting simultaneously with the House, the ground would be cut from under our feet. I am rather concerned because I have received a notice which suggests that some members of Parliament will be out of the House on three days this week. I want to protest as strongly as I can against any alteration of the system that would allow committees to meet when the House is sitting. This chamber is where honorable members should be when the Parliament is in session. We are in committee at the moment, but when we are constituting the House of Representatives and Mr. Speaker is in the chair, it is even more important that every member should be in his seat.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) expressed concern because he could not get certain meals in this building during the preparations for the banquet for the King and Queen of Thailand. I do not think anybody was very concerned about that, because meals were available at the Hotel Kurrajong or the Hotel Canberra or wherever members were staying. Members were not greatly inconvenienced and Australia was anxious to treat the royal visitors in a royal manner. I am not complaining, and I was just as inconvenienced as was the honorable member for East Sydney. After all, such an occasion happens only once a year or maybe once in two or three years or longer and it was important that Australia should entertain its royal guests in a manner that would bring prestige to the Parliament and the people.
I turn now to a subject which is not very popular. It is one on which I have been speaking on other occasions. I do not want to prohibit certain people from pursuing a certain course but I want the position clarified. I refer to Standing Order No. 61 which states that a member shall not read his speech. It is time that we decided whether an honorable member shall or shall not read his speech instead of going through the farce of allowing some honorable member to rise and make himself unpopular by saying, like a telltale, “ The honorable member for soandso is reading his speech”. However, Mr. Speaker always says, “ I do not know whether the honorable member is reading his speech or whether he is referring to copious notes”. I know, and so also does every honorable member. If honorable members are allowed to read their speeches, why do we have this standing order? Why not cancel this standing order and state definitely that members may read their speeches?
– A member could then stay home and send a speech to “ Hansard “.
– Of course he could, but there is more in it than that. There is a saying, “ If you can’t defeat them, join them “. There is nothing in the wide world to stop me reading my speech, but, if I did, half the members in the chamber would rise to a point of order within three minutes. Others read their speeches time after time, but nobody takes any action. An interjector has suggested that my speeches might be better if I did read them. But they might not be my speeches. There is more in this than meets the eye. What is there to stop me or some other honorable member from going to a good solicitor and saying, “ Write me a good speech on the European Common Market “? If I did that and then read the speech word for word, what would that be? I say it would be representation by proxy. I am not referring to any particular side of the chamber but to both sides, so the Opposition need not get upset.
If honorable members listen to the speeches that are read and note them carefully, they will notice that certain phrasing is similar. This leads me to believe that certain men are writing speeches for more than one member of the Parliament. Often when the member who is reading comes to what he thinks is the end of a sentence, he has to start again to finish the sentence properly. This is because he did not write the speech. Sometimes a member who reads a speech comes to a word he cannot pronounce. If a man wrote his own speech he would be able to pronounce the words in it.
I am not trying to criticize those who read their speeches. But surely this Parliament which makes all sorts of momentous decisions could decide whether or not a member may read his speech. We should not have to rely on Mr. Speaker saying, “ I think the honorable member may be referring to copious notes “. That has been going on ever since I was first elected to this Parliament, but each year more and more members are reading their speeches. And why not? If an honorable member can get a speech written for him that is better than one he could make himself, why not read it? Many of the speeches go over the air. Often in a country district one hears the comment, “I listened to So-and-so speak in Parliament. He made a great speech.” The fact is that the member may have read a great speech but it may not be his speech.
– Who wrote this speech for the honorable member?
– That question is ridiculous, as everybody in this chamber knows. I have not referred to any notes in making this speech. I have not referred to notes more than two or three times in the sixteen years I have been a member of this chamber. It is useless to say, as somebody has just said, that my speeches would be better if I read them. That is away from the point. The point is that members should make their own speeches, depending on themselves, and should not just read what some one else has written for them. I think that is completely wrong, and I am very much against it.
– It is frightfully boring.
– As the honorable member for New England says, it is frightfully boring to watch the pages of a manuscript being turned over and over. If a man gets up, inside or outside the Parliament, and makes a speech without copious notes everybody knows that he is dependent on his own ability. If he makes a mistake then, he gets our sympathy. However, if he repeats a written speech, no one worries much about what happens.
I am concerned about, the prestige of this Parliament. If only one standing order is not adhered to, the whole edifice of the
Standing Orders is weakened. The standing order relating to the reading of speeches is definitely being disregarded. I ask the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), as Minister in charge of the House, and the Speaker to make a decision and let the House know whether members may read their speeches or not.
– Do your comments refer to Ministers, as well as to private members?
– That is a good question. They refer to speeches made by Ministers when they are not introducing bills.
– To the Prime Minister, too?
– 1 refer to all Ministers who are making what I call ordinary speeches. I am not referring to special statements by Ministers nor to speeches when introducing bills. We know that Ministers must read their speeches on such occasions but I say they should not do so on other occasions. I do not intend to speak any longer on this subject. If I do, listening to me will become more boring than listening to someone reading a speech. Please let us make a decision in this matter and, having made it, let us stick to it.
.- I disagree with the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) when he says that speeches that are not read are generally more interesting than speeches that are read. It is probably true to say of most of the members of this Parliament that the speeches that they make without the assistance of voluminous notes are their best speeches, but I would say that the speeches made by members of the Australian Country Party gain considerably when they are read. The more those honorable members voice the sentiments and opinions of others, the better are their speeches in this Parliament.
However, I did not rise to say that. I rose to support the contention of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that when questions are asked of Ministers in this Parliament, those questions should be answered, not evaded. The responsibility for asking a question is that of the questioner, and he should be entitled to receive the fullest information concerning the operations of this Parliament and the services that are rendered to members of the Parliament. If, rightly or wrongly, an honorable member believes that, in the interests of his electors, he should secure some information about particular items of expenditure, he should ask a question on the subject and the responsible government department, through the appropriate Minister, should give a full reply.
I asked a couple of questions during the life of the last Parliament. I had before me the voluminous document that is called Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure. Not being so acute as other members of the Parliament, I was not able to understand all of the items relating to expenditure in connexion with the Parliament. I saw a statement in the press to the effect that £140,000 had been expended in connexion with members travelling other than between their electorates and the Parliament. I saw that between £30,000 and £40,000 had been spent on the payment of out-of-pocket expenses to members of the Ministry during periods when they were away from home. Accordingly, I addressed some questions to the Ministers concerned, one of whom was the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I asked him to supply me with certain information regarding travel expenses paid to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the reply that I received was that the honorable member for Mackellar had incurred travel expenses in accordance with the terms of the report of the Richardson committee. I asked also for information from the Minister for the Interior about the away-from-home allowances paid over the period of a year to individual members of the Cabinet. I saw the sum that was involved and I thought that some Ministers might have got too much and that others might have got too little. I thought that some of them might have stayed at home and done nothing and that others might have been up in the air all the time, so to speak. I asked for information about the individual amounts paid, but the reply that I received was that the payments had been made in accordance with the recommendations contained in the report of the Richardson committee.
I was horrified when I read the answers to my questions. I saw that the questions had been evaded, so I went to the Minister responsible. I said to him, “ I asked my questions in order to find out the individual amounts paid, not in order to get what I consider to be an evasive answer - that the payments were made in accordance with the terms of the report of the Richardson committee “. The Minister said to me, “ You will be sorry if I supply all the information available on that topic “. I assumed that he meant that he could supply some information on this subject that would be prejudicial to me. When I asked the questions I expected that the Minister would give all the information that he could supply and that, so far as he could do so, he would slant it to my disadvantage in relation to the expenses that I incurred in travelling to and from the Parliament or otherwise. I believe that he would be entitled to do that, but he did not do so, nor did he supply the information that I had requested. I spoke on the matter in an adjournment debate and I made a plea for the information to be supplied, but it was not supplied.
The document that I have before me now shows that during the last financial year travel by members of the Parliament and others cost £373,000. I have worked out rapidly what my travelling has cost and it seems that I have not got my proper cut of that £373,000. So I now ask what the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) got. He may be entitled - indeed he is entitled because of the distance he travels - to more than I am entitled to. Surely I am quite entitled to ask what the honorable member for Mackellar got and to receive a reply to that question.
I get a communication every now and then from somebody who, I think, calls himself the Clerk of the Parliament, in which he suggests, that when I travel to and from Darwin I should not use an aeroplane on an overseas flight because travel by that means is more expensive than on an aeroplane on a trans-continental service. As 1 have never travelled to Darwin by either means, I do not know whether that is so or not, but I object to being the recipient of communications advising me that I should not travel by aeroplanes proceeding overseas. I do not travel to Darwin at all. In reality the officials of this chamber should direct those complaints to the persons concerned. If, as a member of this chamber, I desire, in spite of the attitude of the member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), to secure any information in connexion with the cost of these services, no matter whether the services are supplied to the Prime Minister, Ministers or private members, I will ask for that information. If my question is evaded I will rise in this place and point out that the government of the day evades the issue because it has something to hide. Apparently from interjections from the Government side of the chamber the Government hides these things in the interests of the honorable member for Perth and other honorable members.
We are entitled to ask question as to what individual honorable members spend in the carrying out of their duties. I believe members of Parliament should travel about this continent, but I do not think they should travel extravagantly. I do not think they should travel from one State to another merely in order to be present at festivities, or at parties, or things of that description. When members of Parliament travel in carrying out their duties, they are entitled to be paid expenses incurred in such circumstances. However, I believe there is considerable abuse in the payment of travelling allowances and out-of-pocket expenses to Ministers. These things are not justified by the Richardson report. I am very pleased to have been reminded of them by the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and I feel very honoured in being able to assist in putting clearly before the Parliament the complaints that he ventilated.
– I want to support the remarks made by the honorable members for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), East Sydney (Mr. Ward), Scullin (Mr. Peters) and Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), concerning the way the newspapers take every opportunity to try to bring this institution into disrepute and drag down every member of the Parliament so that the public outside will regard the institution of Parliament as some degraded form of government and be led to believe that a dictatorship of either the Right or the Left would be preferable to a parliament consisting of a bunch of degenerates, as we would appear to be if one believed the newspapers. If the nonsense goes on for long enough, it would not surprise me if the people of Australia one day come to the conclusion that the sooner they overthrow the Parliament and accept some form of dictatorship the better it will be for everybody because we will then lose nothing worthwhile but will have the possibility of our getting something a little better. Regardless of the subject of the occasion, if the press can get the opportunity to belittle this institution and its members it will do so.
I recall the incident during the recess, which has been referred to, in regard to Trans-Australia Airlines. I was on the plane which carried the lady concerned from Sydney to Adelaide and my only knowledge of the incident was when I heard a discussion between one of the hostesses and a lady passenger about something to do with a seat. But until I read of the incident in the press I had no idea what the argument was about. Had I been able to overhear enough of that conversation to know that it concerned a lady, who had booked a first-class seat from Sydney to Adelaide and who was being asked to transfer to a tourist-class seat I would have been the very first to offer her my seat in order to prevent any dispute, argument or ill-feeling over it. I would not have been alone in that respect. There was not one member, Liberal or Labour, on the plane that day who would not gladly have given up his seat. Whilst members of this Parliament do not regard themselves as being better than anyone else, we have no right to consider ourselves as being any worse than any one else. If anybody is booked from Sydney to Adelaide first class, not one member of Minister of this Parliament would ask or expect the Trans-Australia Airlines officials to shift that passenger in order that he might have that seat.
It is utter rubbish and nonsense to suggest, as the press did, that members of Parliament were responsible for this incident or in any way encourage that kind of thing. Only this morning I read in a newspaper that this “ stop-go “ Parliament would re-assemble soon. Anything at all to try to belittle the Parliament. Apparently this journalist thought “ the stop-go Parliament “ was a good phrase. I suppose he had nothing else to write about, so he dreamed up this story to the effect that in about three weeks’ time Parliament would get up for a week and then re-assemble and get up again for a holiday when the Empire Games take place in Perth and that, if there was anything to do after that, members would come back here again. It may or may not be true that we will rise in three weeks’ time. I hope it is true, because there is not one man here who cannot usefully employ himself during a week’s break after a three weeks’ sitting. I hope that we can conclude our business without rushing through things which have to be properly discussed. I hope that the business we have to do can be properly discussed and concluded by 15th November, because I have plenty to do for the rest of the year and so has every other member of the Parliament.
It annoys me very much indeed to hear these constant references by the press to the amount of money spent by members of the Parliament in travelling between their homes and Canberra. Do members of the press claim that a member of Parliament should pay such fares out of his salary? Do they expect a member of Parliament from Western Australia - to take the extreme case - to pay out of his salary every sitting week the sum of £90 in order to attend in Parliament? Do members of the press think that parliamentarians get any fun out of travelling over 2,000 miles from Canberra to Perth at the week-end? Do they think there is any fun in it? If so, why do they not suggest to their own employers that instead of providing them with very nice accommodation here in Canberra they should close down the homes owned by the newspapers, in which the people who write this sort of thing live and say to them, “ You can get on the plane each Tuesday morning in Adelaide at 7 a.m. as the members of Parliament do. We want you to go to Canberra and do your work while Parliament is sitting and then get up on Friday morning and come back to Adelaide and do your work here. If it is good enough for members of Parliament to get up at 5 a.m. and go to Canberra you should be able to do it. If it is good enough to expect members of Parliament to do their work in Canberra without being supplied with first-class homes in some cases, even furniture, you are not going to get those things. And when you come home after working all the week in Canberra we expect you to spend the whole week-end not resting from your week’s work but catching up with the work which got behind while you were in Canberra. You must work seven days a week. On top of that, we expect you to pay the cost of the trip out of your own pocket, out of the salary we pay you. Even if the cost of the trip is more than the salary you get, you will still have to pay it.” After all, that is the standard that these people are laying down for us to follow.
I do not know whether this hatred of members of Parliament arises from contempt or from jealousy. I do not think there is one pressman who would not be here if he could gain selection. There is not a member of the press gallery who would not like to be a member of Parliament if he could become one. If members of the press gallery were to become members of Parliament they would have a better appreciation of what members of Parliament have to put up with than they seem to have at the present time. Perhaps the press will not give me the satisfaction of even mentioning this speech in the morning papers. Normally, however, after such a speech as this we would read articles to this effect: “ Here is this poor member of Parliament from South Australia. He is very badly done by. He has a private secretary and he is getting £2,750 a year and wonderful away-from-home allowances”. If the press got the salary fight, of course, that would be about the first time it had ever done so. If we were to put alongside the salaries of members of Parliament those of some of the newspapermen who write the articles of which I am speaking, and if we could see the amounts that they put on their swindle sheets to cover their expenses - the sum that it costs their employers whenever the newspapermen travel about Australia, away from their Canberra homes - we would find that members of Parliament were very shabbily treated indeed by comparison. I should think that most members of Parliament have a much higher sense of honour, integrity and fair play than have pressmen, generally speaking.
I should like to see the Parliament take action against these unfair references by the press. I can imagine what would happen to the press if the newspapers were to attack the courts of the land as they attack the Parliament. They would be shown to be in contempt very smartly. Yet, Parliament is the highest court in the land. It is an elected court. It is the court which makes the laws and generally directs the affairs of the nation. I believe that, as the honorable member for East Sydney has said, we ought to have a good look at the privileges of the Parliament. The Parliament ought to lay down a new code and high on the list should be the circumstances in which we would deal with pressmen who, in some cases deliberately and in other cases carelessly, published untruths concerning the activities of the Parliament and of the various parties at their party meetings.
I should like the Parliament to lay it down that any pressman who issues what purports to be an account of the proceedings inside a party meeting ought to be compelled to publish the source of the information. He ought to be compelled to publish the name of the person who gave it to him. I do not mind the press publishing accounts of the proceedings at party meetings so long as the press reports are true reports, but I object to pressmen making up stories concerning party meetings, or publishing stories that are farmed out to them by persons inside the meeting room who have a particular line to put or an axe to grind, without worrying about checking the accuracy of the reports. I believe that the only way to prevent this kind of thing is to compel pressmen to publish the sources of their information whenever they publish particulars of activities that are said to have gone on inside this building. If they fail to do so, they should be held in contempt of the Parliament. Their newspapers should have their registration as periodicals cancelled, so that the Postmaster-General’s Department would no longer carry those newspapers through the post as periodicals; their telephone services ought to be cut off from Parliament House altogether; and no representatives of those particular newspapers ought to be allowed to take their places in the press gallery. I believe that, unless that is done, we shall have to continue to put up with the newspapers constantly sniping at members of Parliament, trying to write them down, and trying to belittle this institution and to drag it into contempt in the eyes of the people.
I wish to say something about another aspect of the Standing Orders. I am perturbed, Sir, by the tendency in recent years of the Chair to stifle the rights of the Opposition in respect of the moving of amendments to social service bills and other bills which recently have been narrowly interpreted by the Chair as representing the expenditure of government money. I think that the way in which the Chair has been interpreting the Standing Orders in regard to the right to move amendments to bills of this kind has to be stopped. The honorable member for Mackellar has complained about the Parliament being made a rubber stamp of the Executive. There is no doubt whatever that the rulings of the Chair in this Parliament of recent years have more and more taken the line of preventing members of the Parliament even from becoming rubber stamps other than in terms laid down by the Chair. I think that is entirely wrong. I have gone through the proposed new Standing Orders and I find that the Standing Orders Committee has made recommendations which, if adopted, would still further stifle the rights of members of the Parliament to speak in this place. For example, I refer to the recommendation that no member of Parliament should ask a question that casts a reflection upon a friendly power or on any representative of any friendly power. That is just another step in whittling down the rights of members of the Parliament.
A member of Parliament must be able to speak freely in this place. If he wants to criticize any other power, whether it be Russia, Thailand or the United States of America, he ought to have a perfect right to do so, both in debate, in respect of which no alteration is proposed so far, and by way of question. A member of the Parliament should have the right to ask any question he likes to ask, and he should be responsible to the Parliament for it. I think it is fantastic in the extreme for us to sit idly by while other people start clipping off our powers, our privileges and our rights as representatives of the people.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but certain points have arisen which I think require the brief attention of honorable members. I know there was a little .by-play on the part of the member of the Opposition who suggested that if Australian Country Party members wrote their speeches, no doubt better speeches would be produced. I say to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) that he at least is one against whom the accusation could not be levelled that he had his speeches written for him. He is a very assertive and forthright debater. The jocular remark which has been made in regard to members of my party is one of those things which are hardly worth bothering about.
When the honorable gentleman was speaking on the subject of the press and the way in which it over-stepped the mark in regard to criticism of members of the Parliament, I found myself singularly at one with him, in the sense that too often there is a tendency on the part of the press not so much to attack members as to attack the institution of which the members are a part. In continually making these pin-pricking and stupid remarks, which no doubt are popular with a section of the public, the newspapers themselves are trying to break down this instrument of democracy which, with all its faults, has proved to be the best means of governing a free people that has yet been devised. But free people, including the press and members of Parliament, must recognize that there are certain responsibilities attached to the approach that they make to the parliamentary institution.
I found that I could not entirely admire the logic of the honorable member who, having moved from a no doubt fully justified protest against certain methods of the press in its criticism of members of Parliament, proceeded then to advocate what appeared to me to be virtually a dictatorship by the Parliament over the community, including the press. If a free institution of Parliament is to exist it must be prepared to concede to the community that it represents a large measure of its privilege to speak freely without fear of legal proceedings. I thought the honorable gentleman’s logic was a little astray in advocating a destructive procedure which would infringe the very principle he himself had laid down.
I wish to speak on certain aspects of the Parliament which have been highlighted. They are related subjects. The question of the committee system has been raised, and associated with that is the cost of transporting members of this Parliament to and from the various distant parts of Australia. When we consider the size of Australia and remember that the capital of New Zealand is only approximately half as far from Canberra as is the capital of Western Australia, then we begin to understand something of the problems that confront members of the Parliament in their endeavour to represent remote areas without suffering serious breakdowns in health or intolerable depletion of their financial resources.
As has already been pointed out the figure for transport of members is lumped under the heading “ Conveyance of Members of Parliament and Others, £375,000 “. The fact which emerges upon a consideration of this is that not only is Australia evolving as a nation, but Canberra is evolving as a national capital. In the last twenty years there has been an awakening appreciation of the fact that the establishment of Canberra was a wise decision, despite the cost. The steady movement of administrative head-quarters to Canberra is a recognition of the broad vision of those who many years ago determined that the capital city of Australia should be not the capital of Victoria or the capital of New South Wales, but a new city with a national outlook. This national outlook means that members of the Commonwealth Parliament do not merely duplicate the somewhat parochial and limited functions of their colleagues in the State legislatures. For a member of this Parliament to attend to the day-to-day problems of his entire electorate would be physically impossible even for the strongest. What is the alternative? The alternative, obviously, is that we must come ultimately to the position that I believe already operates in Washington, where members of parliament are provided with homes. If we attempted to provide such homes in Canberra at the present time we would be pushing out not an unfortunate passenger on a plane, but people who are vitally needed to service the departments that have been transferred here. Although at present only a few Ministers reside here, the day will come when all members will do so while Parliament is in session, and their constituents will understand that that is necessary. That will avoid some of the relatively great cost of transport, and Parliament will probably work as a more effective instrument.
My first point, therefore, is that as a nation and as a Parliament representing a nation, we must face the cost of transport for the simple reason that we have not yet reached the position where homes can be provided for us in Canberra. The second point I come to is that there is a great deal more work that this Parliament could do if we all lived here. Our constituents would recognize that members had to spend’ more time in Canberra, and there would be the machinery here to enable members to take advantage of that concession by their constituents.
When I was in Great Britain in 1959 and early 1960 - I might say at my own expense - I made it my business to discuss the question of committees with the Clerk of the House of Commons and one of his chief assistants. I was tremendously impressed by the British system, whereby the Estimates are referred to a joint committee of the House. From our point of view that is a most interesting committee, because its chairman is always a leading member of the Opposition. The committee itself is large, but can be divided into subcommittees. The significant fact is that the chairman almost certainly is a man who has had ministerial experience, or at least who is a highly responsible member of the Opposition. That committee can discuss estimates and call before it any officer of the Treasury or, for that matter, the Minister himself or his parliamentary undersecretary, and can fully investigate expenditures. If there is any point in doubt, it can be elucidated. The only limitation on the powers of the committee is that it cannot deal with a matter of policy; that is the Government’s responsibility, but the sums of money that are being voted can be analysed and compared with previous estimates and expenditures. All these things can be fully inquired into. As a result of that, not only is a large body of members of the House of Commons already informed on why certain expenditures are on the Estimates, but when they go into the House they are able to clear a large amount of business by discussing principles rather than the details of the Estimates. Parliament thereby has a much better appreciation of matters than is possible under our present system. However, I do not condemn root and branch our present system. There is altogether too much talk about large sums of money being spent without adequate supervision. The truth of the matter is that unless members reside in Canberra they do not have time to discharge fully their duties in relation to committees and at the same time deal with the multiplicity of bills that come before this Parliament and which will continue to come before the Parliament in ever-increasing numbers.
This Parliament has yet to achieve maturity because the Constitution has not been fully implemented. Some years ago the Parliament appointed a joint committee to inquire into reforms of the Constitution. In its report to the Parliament that committee made some very valuable recommendations. We have not yet had anything like a full-scale debate on the committee’s report. I concede that in politics there is such a thing as timing but surely, in view of recent developments with regard to the Latec organization, the Stanhill Holdings organization and other enterprises which face imminent disaster, ample justification exists for probing into a financial system that permits the development of practices that are completely beyond the control of company laws.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I would not have risen to address myself for the second time to the estimates for the Parliament but for certain observations made by some honorable members who spoke subsequent to my first address. I am not completely in agreement with all the criticisms that have been levelled at the press. I am not a defender of the press; no doubt a good deal that has been said about the press is fully justified. But we must recognize that if this parliamentary institution is held in contempt not only by newspapers but also by a large section of the general community, it is the government and members of the Parliament who are largely responsible for that situation. Last year an amount of £373,321 was expended for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others. No explanation is given as to how that figure was determined. A simple arithmetical calculation reveals that it represents an expenditure of approximately £7,173 a week. Assuming for the moment that this expenditure relates to all members of Parliament, it will be seen that the weekly expenditure for each week of the year - not just while the Parliament is sitting - is £60 a member. That is a considerable sum of money to be spent on travel facilities. However, if in the calculation one disregards Ministers, because I do not think they are covered by this vote, one finds that the expenditure is about £70 a week for every member for every week of the year.
The newspapers and members of the public are entitled to be told why that expenditure is so high. Nobody is suggesting that proper travel facilities should not be afforded to members of Parliament to enable them to carry out their parliamentary duties but I think everybody will agree that, in the absence of adequate explanations, the cost is extraordinarily high. We are not afforded any explanation of how this figure is arrived at. When newspapers believe that expenditure is extravagant and when no explanation is given for it, they, as well as members of the Parliament, are justified in seeking information. We all remain under a cloud of suspicion while the Government refuses to supply details of the expenditure and is not prepared to show that no member is abusing his travel privileges. If, in fact, any member is abusing his travel privileges, why should he not be exposed so that those who are not abusing their privileges may be cleared in the eyes of their constituents?
In an earlier speech I said that according to my information some honorable members were now using their sixth book of travel vouchers whilst others had not yet used their first book. I told honorable members of the delegation of Government supporters which, on the pretext of wanting to visit an Australian Territory to which there was no direct service, flew to New
Zealand at government expense in order fo be picked up by United States Air Force aircraft and taken to the Antarctic. Does anybody regard that as a proper use of parliamentary privileges? We should be given information regarding this expenditure. We should be given the information that the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) has repeatedly sought in this Parliament about members and Ministers who, it is rumoured, have abused their privileges.
Reference has been made to the incident in which a lady claims that she was asked to vacate her seat in an aircraft to make way for a member of parliament. I accept as being correct the information given in relation to this matter by my friend, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), but do not let anybody pretend . that there are not honorable members on the Government side who would not assert their authority in order to obtain some travel advantage.
Let me recite the facts surrounding a particular incident in order to show tho committee what can happen. This incident occurred a few years ago but it is worth relating. When the funeral for the late Mr. Chifley was being held in Bathurst, aircraft and cars were supplied by this Government in order to transport parliamentarians and their wives who desired to attend the funeral. Ministers’ wives on that occasion were known to refuse to ride from the airport in Holden cars. They demanded and obtained by the intervention of their husbands much more expensive cars. They evidently considered that it was beneath their dignity to ride in a Holden car. That incident shows that the people who sit on the other side of the chamber are capable of abusing privileges when the occasion arises.
Let me refer now to one or two other matters that have been dealt with in this debate. The honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) now evidently concedes that he was completely in error when he said that Thailand is a democracy. He had stated that the members who asked questions in this Parliament on matters connected with the occasion of the visit of the King and Queen of Thailand were doing so with the deliberate intention of undermining democratic government in
Thailand. Everybody knows that the prisons in Thailand are full of political prisoners who have never been charged or tried. They have languished in prison for long periods of time. Is that the kind of democracy that the honorable member for Ryan believes he is justified in defending? When I spoke earlier I did not do so in order to attack visitors to this country. I simply claimed that Mr. Speaker had no right to deny honorable members on the occasion of the banquet held in honour of the King and Queen of Thailand, the dining facilities that are normally available in this place. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) spoke about doing honour to the Royal couple, but I would like to know why it was not possible, during their visit, to make the same arrangements as have been made on the occasion of other visits by royalty. I have been in this Parliament for a considerable time now, and I know that when very notable people from overseas have visited this country banquets have been arranged in Parliament House; but I also know that on no previous occasion have members of the Parliament been denied the chance of getting themselves a cup of tea or a meal in some other part of the building than that used for the banquet, if they did not desire to attend the banquet. There was no occasion to alter the existing arrangements on this occasion, and all I am asking is that there shall be no repetition of what was done.
The dining facilities in this Parliament are provided for the convenience of members who are obliged to come here to engage in parliamentary business. That is the first consideration. We all admit that if a banquet is arranged to pay honour to a visitor from overseas there will be some interruption to the ordinary running of Parliament House and some inconvenience will be caused; but the inconvenience ought to be reduced to the minimum. I say that on this occasion, due no doubt to the decision of the person in charge of the arrangements and given effect to by the Speaker, the members of the Parliament were denied the ordinary facilities usually provided in the dining room. I say that that is wrong, and I hope that there will be no recurrence of it on any future occasion.
.- I have risen to make sure that no wrong impression will be conveyed either to the press or to the public - though I am particularly concerned with the public - as a result of the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on the subject of travel vouchers.
– How much do you cost us?
– I will tell you. I will ask the honorable member how much he costs us. Let us look at the facts. If we are going to be critical of this sort of thing let us be plain and honest about it. There are two kinds of travelling costs. One kind is the travelling costs which a member of Parliament is allowed to incur, and which the Government meets through the issue of vouchers, for travel by the member by sea, land or air to attend the Parliament, to visit a capital city or a Territory of the Commonwealth or to travel to and from his electorate or his own State. The member provides none of the cost of such trips out of his own pocket. The cost is met by the Government, and I presume, although I do not know, that such costs are included in the amount of about £300,000 to which reference has been made. There is, however, another kind of travelling allowance which the honorable member for East Sydney has not mentioned. It is a travelling allowance which we, as individual members of the Parliament, receive in cash. The honorable member for East Sydney and other members for metropolitan electorates receive an amount of £850 a year-
– That is not a travelling allowance. It is an electorate allowance.
– Call it what you will, it is another cost. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), whose electorate covers a huge area and is larger than some States, receives an electorate allowance of £1,050 a year. The honorable member for East Sydney receives an electorate allowance of £850 a year, though I suppose the honorable member for East Sydney could travel over the whole of his electorate every day of the week for about 2s. 6d. or 4s. a day.
I am concerned to see that we do not get mixed up about those matters. I am also concerned with the fact that the electorate allowance is like other expense allowances in that it is tax free. I do not disagree with that, but I say that where a member is able to show that his expenses in serving his electorate - that is, his travelling costs and his costs of living away from home - are greater than the amount he receives as reimbursement, he should be entitled to claim an extra tax deduction.
– That is fair enough.
– Of course it is fair enough. I am prepared to produce figures to prove that attending to my electorate costs me twice as much as I am paid for travelling costs. I submitted figures to that effect to the Richardson committee.
– You will not have to worry about it after the next election.
– The honorable member for Grayndler also may not have to worry about it. I am concerned that the true picture regarding travelling allowances should be presented to the people who elect us to the Parliament. I remind the House that the honorable member for East Sydney has twitted me on a few occasions about my costing this country over £100 a week in attending to the affairs of my electorate.
– He went to the grand finals.
– I do not know whether or not he did, because I was not there. The honorable member may have had business with some of his electors on that occasion. What I am concerned about is the criticism levelled against members who have to travel long distances. I remind the House that when the other States battled to get Western Australia to come into the Commonwealth at no time did they suggest that Western Australian members would not be allowed the same privileges regarding travel between Canberra and their electorates or home State as members representing electorates in the eastern States would be allowed. In the early days of federation, before we had air travel, members from Western Australia were required to travel by train to and from parliamentary sessions. It was quite usual for Western Australian members to live on this side of the continent for six, seven or eight months of the year continuously, and so lose contact with Western Australia and their electorates.
At the present time members from Western Australia travel backwards and forwards from Canberra every week-end so as to maintain contact with their electorates. I am not the only one who does that. Our only regret is that we lose one day on our electoral work as a result of the distance we have to travel. We have to travel on Friday and are unable to do business during ordinary business hours on that day. A member representing a Western Australian electorate leaves Perth at midnight on Monday night in order to attend meetings of the Parliament. He arrives in Canberra at about 10 a.m. on Tuesday and comes straight to Parliament House. Usually he has not slept on the aircraft, yet he comes to work here and attends to his mail before the day’s sitting commences at 2.30 p.m. He stays here with other honorable members until perhaps midnight before he can go to his hotel to sleep, and he must be up again at about 9 o’clock the next morning to attend to his affairs.
– Up at half-past seven.
– The honorable member may do that, but I certainly do not attend committee meetings at half-past seven in the morning. I disagree with the attack made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) on the Chairman with regard to the interpretation of the rule governing the moving of amendments by members of the Opposition to such bills as the Social Services Bill - to what are, in effect, money bills. I think that the Chairman is quite correct. Members of the Opposition are not the only members who are denied the right to move amendments to money bills, because the same rule applies to members on the Government side. That is quite in accordance not only with the Standing Orders but also with the tradition of British parliaments. So it is not the Chairman of Committees or the Speaker who is putting a wrong interpretation on a standing order, since only Ministers are entitled to move amendments or to submit to the Parliament resolutions which incur a charge on the Crown. Let me, Mr. Temporary Chairman, remind the committee that we are discussing the Estimates. We shall discuss a number of things in connexion with the Estimates, but at the moment we are dealing only with the Parliament. Parliaments were created originally for no other purpose than to control the public purse. This Parliament has, of course, become the custodian of social order and goodness knows what else. All those other responsibilities have been added, but the original purpose of a parliament was to control the public purse. That should still be the purpose of a parliament and it should be the responsibility of every member to know just what is going on in connexion with expenditure from the public purse.
– Where do you get that from?
– If the honorable member for Grayndler does not know that he does not deserve to be here. He has been wrongly elected by his electors. The fundamental reason for his election is to control the public purse, and he. should know all about it. If he does not, the best thing that can happen will be for somebody to go out to his electorate and tell the electors that they have elected a man to this Parliament who does not know why he is here.
I wish to refer to some remarks made by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond). He referred to the practice’ in the United Kingdom Parliament of appointing an estimates committee, the task of which is to examine the estimates carefully. However, the honorable member did not mention one or two very salient features. He did mention that the chairman of the committee was a member of the Opposition, and he mentioned also that the committee could not question Government policy, but one important matter which he omitted was that the Opposition selects the subjects and items that are to be examined by the committee. In this set-up in the United Kingdom you have a parliament doing its job democratically and carrying out the main purpose for which a parliament is formed.
Here in Australia we have a public accounts committee, but how many honorable members take any notice of the reports that that committee submits to this Parliament? I have not heard the reports discussed here yet.
– We know who are members of the committee.
– That is very good. The reason for appointing such a committee is to have the Parliament informed about important matters. The Public Accounts Committee examines what has happened in the past. The estimates committee in the United Kingdom examines what the Government proposes to do in the future. By combining the two functions, you would have a set-up whereby a parliament could operate efficiently. An estimates committee would look at what a public accounts committee had said about past expenditure on a certain item and would decide whether there was justification for the expenditure to be continued in that way. It would not decide whether there was justification for the expenditure - that would be a matter of Government policy - but would consider whether the way in which the expenditure had been incurred was justified - whether it was wrong in method or in principle. Were this Parliament to have a combination of those two functions, it could operate more effectively than it is operating at present.
Finally, I wish to emphasize very strongly the point made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) about the amount of work which a member of the Parliament actually does. When the Parliament rises for a week, two weeks or three weeks, I find that many ignorant electors say to me, “ Oh, you are on your holidays, are you? “
– You have them, too?
– Of course, we all get them. Sir, if honorable members do have a holiday, it is when we are here in Canberra. Let that be known. The average member of this House is literally a secretary to some 40,000 to 50,000 people.
– He is an advocate also.
– He is a secretary and an advocate. He is a legal adviser and I do not know what else. He has to get his con stituents out of domestic troubles and financial troubles. He is a father confessor and everything else. He has a full-time job outside the Parliament, without attending the sittings of the Parliament. It is time that that was conveyed to the people - that something more was said by members of the Parliament themselves about their responsibilities to their electors or about the way in which the electors use them.
Apparently in the view of many electors the average member is not elected to attend the Parliament or to be conversant with what goes on in the Parliament, but is elected to attend to the individual requirements of the electors. If we are to uphold the prestige of the Parliament and to attract to it the people who are needed, because of the growing responsibility that the Parliament faces in the development of this country, it is time for us to make known the facts I have just mentioned. We must convey to the people that this is an important place, with a great responsibility. This is a place where the best in a man’s character can be brought out. It is a place where a man can set his hand to the plough and help to develop a great nation which in the years to come, I have no doubt, will exert the greatest influence in the southern hemisphere and whose influence will overflow into the northern hemisphere. The next decade will determine the future of this country.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to take advantage of the Standing Orders to conclude my remarks. I was about to refer to the library services. The Library is giving a very good service so far as it is able to do so with the facilities it has at its disposal and the staff that is available. No member of the Parliament can fairly criticize members of the Library staff for the way they carry out their work and the courteous attention they give, but the staff cannot supply members of Parliament with information if that information is not supplied to the Library. I shall quote an example of what I mean. I believe that industrial relations between employers and employees have r.ow assumed a position of importance in Australia without parallel at any other time in our history. Each week the position becomes more important.
I think, therefore, that honorable members ought to be in a position to know what the industrial courts are doing and saying in respect of disputes between employers and employees. I think every honorable member will agree with me when I say that information about these matters should be available immediately upon request by any member of the Parliament. I am surprised that, after all these years, and after constant reference to the matter by myself, the Library staff has not yet been given the right to order the latest court decisions on industrial disputes or on matters that come within the jurisdiction of the industrial courts. I believe that the Library should be supplied with transcripts of all cases that come before the industrial courts and the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission and that this should be done as soon as those transcripts are available. I believe, too, that copies of the reasons for judgments given by industrial courts should be made available to the Library.
I can see the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) looking at me. He is one of the foremost industrial advocates in this country. I suppose there are few advocates in Australia in the field of employer representation as eminent as the honorable member for Bruce. I often wonder how many workers who, in their misguided moments, vote for him at election times realize that he is one of the most eminent barristers representing employers that this country has produced. I think that the information to which I have referred ought not to be confined to men such as the honorable member for Bruce, but that all honorable members should be in a position to read what is being said in the courts by the advocates for the various sides and what the courts are saying in response to that advocacy. We should not have to wait months and months for printed reports to become available. It seems to me to be absolutely absurd for members of this Parliament to have to wait as long as eighteen months for the printed and bound copies of, for instance, Commonwealth Arbitration Reports to become available. In the present circumstances we must rely entirely upon the newspapers to ascertain what is said before arbitration tribunals, and no one is more capable of misrepresenting what is said than the people who write for the newspapers of Australia. The truth of this can be shown by the way in which the newspapers misrepresent what is said in the Parliament and what happens in and about the Parliament. In reply to a remark made by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), let me say that there would be no freedom of the press if Parliament were ever dissolved. In such circumstances the freedom of the press would be at an end. The press would be about as free as it is in Spain, in Russia or in any other dictatorship, if the Parliament were dissolved, and the newspapers are going the right way about destroying the Parliament by endeavouring to heap contempt upon it.
I do not want to stifle the press. Let the newspapers publish what they like, but let them publish the sources of their information. I go further and say that for every inch of space that the newspapers give to distortions of the truth, they should be compelled to give an inch of space to the persons they injure, so that they may answer the charges made against them. I would not stifle the press or destroy its freedom. I would extend that freedom to the point at which the newspapers would not only be free to publish what they wish, but would also be compelled to give full opportunities to all persons to answer statements published concerning them.
I would make one other remark about the Parliamentary Library. I believe that not enough honorable members of the Parliament are making use of the Library facilities that are already available. For instance, my good friend, the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) obviously has not made full use of the facilities that the Parliamentary Library already offers. Had he done so, he would not have made the foolish or misguided remark that we heard him make a few moments ago, that Thailand was a kind of bastion of democracy.
– It is anti-socialistic.
– I see, and that makes it democratic. So, I suppose, following the same reasoning, Spain is democratic, Portugal is democratic, Saudi
Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait and all the other dictatorships and countries having tyrannical governments in the Middle East are democratic. Following the same line of reasoning, South Korea would be considered a democracy. This is the kind of woolly-minded thinking that some honorable members engage in. The fact about Thailand - and I mention it only in passing for the benefit of the honorable member - is that that country is governed by what is nothing short of a military dictatorship. The parliament of Thailand was overthrown by a military junta when the wrong people won an election, and thousands of political prisoners are languishing in gaols in Thailand, this free land that the honorable member spoke of, this part of the free world. There is no more corrupt form of government in any part of Asia than that which exists in Thailand, where we see arrest without warrant and imprisonment without trial. There is no such thing as habeas corpus. Trade unions are refused the right to organize. The ordinary person has none of the traditional rights and privileges that we in British countries are accustomed to. The country is ruled by one of the worst forms of military dictatorship that it is possible to imagine. When the honorable member refers to this corrupt country, with all the notoriously evil features of its government, as a democracy, he shows, to my way of thinking, that he is not making full use of the facilities of the Parliamentary Library that are already available to us.
I cannot allow to pass the remarks made by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), who took umbrage at what I had said about the rulings of the Chair. There is absolutely no doubt at all that the Chair in recent years has given rulings along lines tending to stifle still further the freedom of members of the Parliament, whether they be on the Opposition or the Government side, to put a point of view. These are new rulings. I am not criticizing rulings that have been in force ever since the Parliament began. I am criticizing rulings that are of relatively recent origin, the like of which would never have been given even as recently as seven or eight years ago. I repeat my hope that when honorable members on this side of the chamber form a government they will not deny the Opposition the right to move such amendments to bills as have recently been declared out of order simply because they are embarrassing to the Government. I hope that a future Labour government will take steps to have the Standing Orders altered so that any member of the Parliament, on either side, will have the right to move amendments, provided they do not, in the ordinary, accepted sense, involve the expenditure of public money.
I believe the Chair has drawn the long bow, that it has laid down far too fine a line, in connexion with amendments to social service legislation, for instance, in declaring such amendments be in breach of the recognized practices and principles of the Parliament. I am not suggesting for a moment that a member of the Opposition should have the right to move a taxation measure or to move a measure involving, in the ordinary, accepted sense, in the sense that has been accepted ever since Parliament was inaugurated, the expenditure of public funds. But I do say that the new practice of preventing any possible reference, even in the most indirect sense, to the expenditure of public funds is entirely wrong.
I congratulate honorable members on both sides on the contributions they have made to this debate. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is to be commended for setting the general pattern. He has attacked the Government for using the Parliament as a mere rubber stamp of the Executive. All power to his elbow. I believe he has done the right thing. It is good to see honorable members on both sides of the Parliament expressing different views on matters of such vital concern to the people of Australia. I hope others will participate in the debate and will let us hear what they think about these matters.
Remainder of proposed vote agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
.- In dealing with the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, I shall confine my remarks to the Office of Education. Like many other members of this committee, and certainly like very many Australian citizens,
I am extremely disappointed that there is no provision in the estimates for education or for the setting up of a committee to conduct an inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education. Of course, there has been some recognition by the Government of education needs at the university level. The implementation of some parts of the Murray committee’s report has been beneficial. Even the present committee headed by Sir Leslie Martin, which is inquiring into tertiary education, is a further step in the right direction. However, I am not satisfied that the personnel of the committee conducting the tertiary education inquiry is entirely satisfactory. In any event, the report will not be submitted until about the end of next year. I believe much of the delay is caused by the fact that the committee is too large and has not the advantage of a sufficiently trained research staff.
Educationists throughout Australia, and indeed some from other parts of the world who have seen our education systems at first hand, agree that there are tremendous shortages and deficiencies in our primary, secondary and technical education fields. It is now almost history that the Premiers’ Conference in 1961 unanimously requested the Government to conduct an inquiry into the state of education throughout the Commonwealth in the primary, secondary and technical fields. Almost every one will agree that, by and large, the State governments have done and are continuing to do a magnificent job in these fields with the resources at their disposal. New South Wales this year has budgeted to spend something like £70,000,000 on education, and Victoria a little more than £60,000,000. Other States in proportion are spending similar amounts. Yet no great progress is being made to meet the very dangerous difficulties that are constantly manifesting themselves.
There is a shortage of school buildings. There is an insufficient number of adequately trained teachers, and there are great limitations in the provision of school equipment and supplies. The State Ministers for Education have emphasized that education is the vital factor necessary for normal progress. They have said1 -
Unless more effective action can be taken for the future, than has been possible in the past,
Australia’s manpower will be relatively less and less adequately qualified to meet the increasing demands of modern times. Such a state of affairs would weaken Australia’s position in a competitive society of nations.
It is recognized that the problems facing schools are in part the heritage of two world wars and the years of depression when expenditure on education was cut to its lowest level. Since World War II., schools have had to cope with an unprecedented increase in enrolments, due to the rapid rise of the number of births, the Commonwealth’s migration programme and the fact that children tend to remain at school longer than they did previously. So, despite the very great efforts made by State governments, educational services are not keeping pace with the ever-growing demands being made upon schools. I again quote from the statement of the State Ministers for Education. They said -
There is an increasing gap between the needs and the demands of the community for education and what the State governments can provide.
That there is a shortage of school buildings and a continuous dependency upon outofdate buildings or temporary buildings is obvious to every one, and the majority of children in Australia are being taught in schools too large for effective teaching. In fact, there are thousands of children being taught in rented halls and other unsuitable accommodation.
During the recent recess and previously, with other members of the Education Committee of the Australian Labour Party, I visited many schools in Victoria and New South Wales. Some of my colleagues visited schools in other States. We have been appalled to find that, despite the tremendous amount of money being spent by the State governments, there are many buildings that I am certain parents would be shocked to see - buildings that can be described only as badly ventilated, unhygienic and overcrowded. The Ministers for Education have said -
Children should not be required to work in make-shift, emergency or obsolete classrooms. It is desirable the schools should have those facilities generally considered essential in a modern school. These include well equipped libraries, suitable shelter spaces, sanitation of a satisfactory standard, teachers’ accommodation, playing fields, specialist rooms, etc.
There is no doubt that inadequate school buildings create very serious difficulties and tend to prevent the satisfactory education of the citizens of to-morrow. I have found some children sitting in front of the ordinary desks, having infants’ department tables that are too low for them. I have seen classrooms built to accommodate 36 students having attendances of 50, and some rooms have been so full that it has been impossible to put a teacher’s desk in them. Teachers have had difficulty in moving around their classrooms. In one school, there is a large, narrow room at the rear of the regional library, which was originally a cottage, being used to accommodate a class. This extra room lacks ventilation and proper lighting. There are three doors in the room, none of which can be opened on days that are too windy or wet. There are many other examples throughout Australia that can be used to show the need for better school buildings.
Probably the gravest problem is the great shortage of teachers. The Crowther report stated -
Everything in education depends ultimately on the teacher, and everything in educational progress depends upon there being teachers with the right qualities, and in the right numbers to carry it out.
The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron, who is everywhere accepted as having been a great Minister for Education in New South Wales for many years, said at the Premiers’ Conference in 1961 -
One of the outstanding problems of education in Australia today is the lack of teachers in sufficient numbers and with qualifications adequate to the demands of the second half of the twentieth century.
The teacher shortage has indeed limited the effectiveness of schools in Australia. Classes of over 30 are too large and are improper, and whenever there are classes of over 30 - there are very many of them in Australia - it is because there is a shortage of. teachers and a shortage of suitable buildings. In New South Wales, a questionnaire was sent to all staffed schools in that State. It resulted in the following survey being provided by the Teachers’ Federation. In that State, 89 children out of every 100 in primary schools are in classes larger than 30; more than 76,000 pupils are in classes of 40 or over. In secondary schools, 86 children of every 100 in first, second and third year are in classes larger than 30; more than 67,000 are in classes of 40 or more. In infants’ schools, 96 of every 100 infants are in classes of more than 30; 61 of every 100 are in classes of 40 or more; and 35,000 infants are in classes of 45 or more. More than 7,000 fourth and fifth year students in high schools, who are preparing for examinations on which depend their whole future, are unable to receive sufficient individual attention from the teacher.
Right throughout Australia there are people teaching subjects for which they have not had special training or proper academic background. Of 895 science teachers covered by the survey, only 340 have a science degree. Of 1,150 mathematics teachers, only 559 have done courses in university mathematics. The survey shows that there are 1,609 teachers in secondary schools in New South Wales who have no university qualifications for the subject they are called upon to teach.
I have not dealt with composite classes. A composite class is a class in which there are children from more than two different grades. It is true that in small country schools, where enrolments do not warrant a teacher for each grade, this is unavoidable. But as the teacher shortage has become more acute, composite classes are becoming increasingly common in larger schools because there just are not enough teachers. Many migrant children - every one in Parliament supports the introduction of as many children as possible from other countries to grow up here as good Australian citizens - are severely handicapped by language difficulties and by the strangeness of Australian conditions. They obviously need to be taught in small classes where they can be given specialized individual attention; but at present they are unable to get it.
Casual teachers have become permanent features of school staffs and have to be used essentially on a permanent level to relieve the teacher shortage. There is, of course, a great lack of accommodation at teachers* colleges. We must adopt a long-range plan for teacher training to make certain that we can adequately meet the tremendous problem of keeping pace with the birth rate, the migration programme and all the other things that help to increase the number of children entering the schools these days. It has been said by the State Ministers in charge of education that teachertraining facilities must be increased so that sufficient teachers will be trained to enable us to reduce the size of the classes and to lengthen the course of training. I think that the minimum training period should be increased from two to three years. A total expenditure of £4,000,000 for the whole of Australia is required.
I think everybody will agree that it is proper that a school, whatever its size, should be a bright and cheerful place, should be clean, comfortable and properly equipped, and should have a proper training area. Many schools have marked deficiencies in some of these respects. Indeed, the Ministers in charge of education, in their statement, said -
Insufficient provision is being made for considerable items, such as gymnasia, school halls, shelter facilities and the improvement of school grounds, ovals, and even for essential items, such as teacher accommodation in rural areas and the installation of septic tanks.
Toilets and washing facilities, obviously, are of vital importance to the health of the children of every school. These facilities should be adequate in number and it should be possible to keep them scrupulously clean. It is true that parents and citizens’ associations have done magnificent work in providing a very great deal of necessary equipment in many areas. They provide lunches at many schools. They have equipped libraries, they have provided many textbooks, and they do many things without which some schools would be bereft of even the most essential equipment. Many members of this Parliament have voiced their disapproval of the present very desperate unemployment situation. Those on the Government side of the chamber who have defended the course of events in this field have spoken repeatedly of the fact that among the large army of 100,000 or so unemployed are many unskilled workers. That refers to the number who are registered for employment. If this is true, is not this a special reason for investigating the plight of technical education in this country, Mr. Chairman?
Many technical schools have out-of-date equipment and poor facilities. Although State governments generally are building new schools and making additions to old schools by expending as much money as they can afford, and sometimes even more than they can afford, there is much to be done in the technical field to bring technical education up to proper standards. There is a great shortage of teachers and buildings and equipment. Yet the technical schools are expected to train boys and girls and prepare them to take their place in industry and contribute to the national economy, despite the fact that this Government, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is in charge of it, have refused even to examine, on a national level, all of the weaknesses of the education system in the technical field. The pupils of to-day are the young citizens of to-morrow. On them will rest the responsibility for continuing the conduct of the national affairs of this great land.
If the state of the universities requires investigation, surely there is an unanswerable case for a complete examination of the position of primary, secondary and technical education in this country. Late as it is, it is not yet too late for the Prime Minister to change his mind and to promise to institute such an examination at once. In response to one of the many questions on this matter that I have directed to him, he asked me not to imply that he was the bad boy of education. I have never wanted to do that; nor do I do it now. But, in view of the fact that he is having the position of the universities looked at, I ask him again, on behalf of and in the cause of the great many men and women in this country who have children at the schools, on behalf of and in the cause of teachers throughout the country, on behalf of and in the cause of the members of the parents and citizens’ associations throughout the Commonwealth, and on behalf of and in the cause of the children who are attending the schools in Australia, to re-examine this question and without delay to institute such an inquiry so as to find out, first, what are the deficiencies in our education system and then to help make good those inadequacies and deficiencies as soon as possible.
– Mr. Chairman, I imagine that if the Australian Labour Party were in office now we would hear from members of that party speeches extolling the tremendous steps forward that have been taken in education. Members of the Labour Party, if they were now in office and had taken the measures that the present Government has taken, would claim credit for being the first to assist the universities by appointing a body such as the Murray committee to inquire into the situation of the universities. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), if he were now supporting a government of his own political colour which had achieved the things that the present Government has achieved, would be saying that the expenditure on primary education in Australia was now many times greater than it was when that government took office and that the increase was many times greater than was necessitated by the rise in the standard of living or the increase in the population.
– But the honorable member is not claiming the credit for it in relation to primary education, surely.
– Order! - The honorable member for Phillip has already spoken.
– I see what we are up against now, Mr. Chairman. We are to be subjected to a barrage of criticism as part of a tremendous campaign to obtain more money for education. However, I point out that the honorable member for Phillip, if he were a supporter of a government that had done what this Government has done, would be proud to tell of the tremendous achievements that have been made in the field of education. As the honorable member was beginning to admit at the end of his speech, whatever else may be said about the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), it cannot be said that he has let down education.
– That is what I said.
– That is right. The present Prime Minister appointed the Murray committee and he was responsible for seeing that between £13,000,000 and £15,000,000 will be spent out of the Budget for 1962-63 for the assistance of the universities of this country and for ensuring that the States, with all the other assistance that they receive, will be able to devote a very much higher percentage of their budget expenditure to education.
Finally, the campaign has come down to one point - a request that the Commonwealth conduct an inquiry into education. The Prime Minister has said: “ Let me take one thing at a time. I have taken tertiary education. In the future, we shall consider technical education, and then will come primary education “. If the States want an inquiry, there is nothing to prevent them from instituting a full-dress inquiry with the six of them acting together. In fact, by so doing, would they not protect themselves against what could easily be a report most hostile to them by a body appointed by the Commonwealth? It seems to me that the States should do this job. But instead of its being done by them, there is now a concerted demand for a centralized Commonwealth inquiry. I think that the Constitution envisages the conduct of such an inquiry by the States if they act together. Let them conduct such an inquiry. If the Commonwealth is not ready to do so, what is to prevent the States from doing so? Why do we hear this constant cry, “ Give us a Commonwealth inquiry “? What is to stop the Premiers of the six States from getting together and conducting the inquiry and making any finding they like on the subject? It is open to them to do so. However, in the next hour or two, we shall hear a barrage of requests for a Commonwealth inquiry.
I really wanted to address myself to something that is uppermost in the minds of all of us, Mr. Chairman. I refer to a meeting known as the British Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference which has just been held. The Prime Minister, on Sunday afternoon, after his return from that meeting, held a press conference at which he was asked whether there ought to be another Prime Ministers’ Conference. He answered -
Personally, I don’t think that is a very good idea . . .
Then he gave his reasons. These reasons represent the central theme of what I would like to say about the conference. The Prime Minister said -
Personally, I don’t think that is a very good idea, because there are sixteen of us, and those who are interested in temperate foodstuffs-
He was addressing his mind to the fact that the recent Prime Ministers’ Conference dealt primarily with the European Common Market proposals - are about four and those who are interested in the great run of tropical foodstuffs - I am not forgetting sugar in our own case - are four or five or six. They fell into groups with a variety of interests. Therefore my own view was, and I think this is accepted, that when the United Kingdom, keeping in close daily contact with us, as the negotiations go on, when it has reached the point of saying, “Well, now, that is the best we can get on that- A, B, C, D, F”- then if we want to have a discussion with them on the ministerial level before they finally say “Yes”, we can have it. And if a group of us wants to have a further conference, say Canada, Australia and New Zealand, on those matters, we can have it. I wouldn’t think it advantageous to convene sixteen people to discuss what might turn out to be the particular interest of four out of the sixteen.
In other words, the Prime Minister raised the question of the suitability of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference to deal with such matters. Surely no more serious matter confronts the British Commonwealth of Nations than Great Britain’s proposed entry into the European Common Market.
No doubt all honorable members remember the last Prime Ministers’ Conference. We are not told what statements are made at these conferences. At once, that is a drawback. We are told that it is necessary to have full and frank discussions. I believe that you get responsible statements when the press is present, but the press is not present at Prime Ministers’ Conferences. All we know from the last conference is that the Commonwealth lost South Africa. If there had not been a meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers South Africa might well have been still a member nation. So that was not a successful meeting.
The Prime Minister has said that he would not re-convene the meeting which has just concluded because sectional interests are involved. That opens up the whole question whether the present set-up of Prime Ministers’ Conferences is the correct one. Ought not we in this Parliament to have a good close look at the matter? Some of the present Prime Ministers are embryo dictators.
– Who are they? Is R. G. Menzies one of them?
– If honorable members opposite continue. to behave as they have been behaving in relation to matters in Victoria and Queensland, they will make him a dictator. They should clean up their own house because at present they have no hope of defeating him.
In too many of these so-called democracies we have seen the lurking dangers of dictatorship, the ruthless suppression of minorities and the monopoly of communications by the State authority. Only too often they refuse to respect the basic human rights of citizens. As embryo dictatorships, some of them have been drawn inevitably into the sphere of Communist satellite influence.
On the Common Market issue they have started out by demanding the very best of both possible worlds. They demand the right to retain their preferences and their privileges on the British market as well as guaranteed quotas and subsidies, oblivious of the truth of Mr. Macmillan’s statement that the new Britain no longer can afford to retain such costly privileges for them. At the same time, they are wide open for Soviet trade and political penetration, and if they can do a better bargain with Khrushchev than with Macmillan and Kennedy they will have no more compunction than had Fidel Castro of Cuba in opening the door to Soviet admission. Those are strong words, but every one knows that they are true and that they refer to some of the men who caused the mischief which resulted in South Africa being lost to the Commonwealth. They are the men who are enjoying their first experience of democracy, but they have exactly the same voting power as have Australia, Canada or New Zealand.
Let us compare the results of the last Prime Ministers’ Conference with the results of the visits of the Prime Minister and of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to Britain in May and June last. Surely the results achieved by those right honorable gentlemen prove that straight negotiation between our leaders and the British Government, or any other government, is better than negotiation between Commonwealth Prime Ministers. No one in this Parliament or, I believe, in Australia, wants to see any break in our ties with Great Britain. I think we all want to see them strengthened. We are reminded of this by Mr. Duncan Sandys in his booklet “ The Modern Commonwealth “. He said -
We have developed a common belief in such things as the dignity of man, freedom of speech, equality before the law, the independence of the judiciary, honest and impartial administration, representative government and respect for the rights of minorities.
Then there is the attachment to the person of the Queen herself. All these things still stand firmly in the hearts and minds of the people of Australia. But is the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference the correct way of maintaining these things? I believe that this is the time for the Government, the Parliament and the people of Australia to consider this matter again. We have a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the press is admitted to its meetings. But the delegates to the association’s meetings are men of parliamentary experience. Surely something along these lines could be arranged.
At this critical stage of our association with the rest of the world; at this time when we stand as a tiny nation in the Pacific Ocean looked upon by Asia apparently as a new young neighbour to the south; at this time when great countries are forming the United States of Europe; when the United States of America is thousands of miles away and when the Asian people see the spectacle of naked aggression quite close to our shores profiting those who engage in it, surely something should be done to achieve better results than have been achieved to date by Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conferences.
.- In dealing with the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department I desire to discuss the matter of equal pay for equal work in the Commonwealth Public Service. I bring this matter forward because I consider it to be of great public importance. The status and rights of women are involved. Women who receive less pay than do men for doing the same work are suffering a grave injustice. Equal pay for equal work means that the rate of payment is based on the job, not on the sex of the worker. Historically women have received less pay than have men simply because they are women. In my opinion this is completely unfair. Australian women are treated with less fairness in industrial and other matters than are women in many other countries which this Government believes to be backward.
Of the 160,000 employees in the Commonwealth Public Service 33,000, or 20 per cent., are females. I know that many of these are engaged on work traditionally performed by women, such as attending to telephones, typing, operating machines and so on, but I can cite some cases of discrimination against women who are doing the same work as are men. Recently I noticed in the daily newspapers an advertisement calling for applications for the position of librarian in the Commonwealth Public Service. The advertisement stated that if the successful applicant was a male he would receive £188 a year more than would be paid if the successful applicant were a female, despite the fact that the applicants, whether male or female, were required to have the same university standard of education and to work exactly the same number of hours on exactly the same kind of work. The Government may consider this to be fair, but I believe it to be unfair and unjust. I could mention many other instances of discrimination. For example, in the Postmaster-General’s Department female monitors working side by side with male monitors, under supervision, receive £188 a year less than do the males. Female postal assistants working on post office counters, performing the same duties and having the same financial responsibility as men, receive only 75 per cent, of the male rate. In the Repatriation Department, female employees receive £154 per annum less than male employees doing the same work alongside them. I could cite many similar examples in other Commonwealth departments.
It must be remembered that females must possess the same qualifications as males, that they do similar work and comply with all the conditions with which males comply. They have to go through the same study, pass the same examinations and pay the same fees at a university or wherever they are educated. Yet they receive only 75 per cent, of the male rate. I believe it is time that the Government set an example by implementing the principle of the
International Labour Organization convention. As a member of the International Labour Organization this Government agreed to support the principle of equal pay for equal work. There is also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that a government should not discriminate against women. The Government of Australia is a signatory to that declaration.
Another matter that I wish to discuss under the heading of the Prime Minister’s Department concerns the history sheets which are kept in the Commonwealth Public Service. They are more commonly known as dossiers. They are kept in every department of the Commonwealth, and they are secret documents. On them there are notations of a very personal character covering all aspects of a public servant’s official and private life. They relate to the officer’s marital, financial and health problems, to his dress and appearance, personal habits, sobriety and capacity to work. They contain notations on whether the officer is willing or dilatory, on whether he is punctual, and on his speaking ability. Every aspect of the officer’s personality is recorded, good, bad and indifferent. In my view, the keeping of these dossiers is a very dangerous matter for every Commonwealth public servant because of the prospect of their being compiled in many instances by a biassed superior. I know that this does occur, because I was once a public servant and had access to this kind of information. I do not think that any member of the Commonwealth Public Service objects to his performances and the history of his service being recorded. But it is well known that these dossiers are often improperly compiled, and their existence is most objectionable and unjust. In such dossiers as these I have seen completely wrong descriptions given of officers just because a superior officer had a bias against them. Political opinions, union activities and even religious beliefs have sometimes been taken into account, as has nationality. This kind of information has been placed on history sheets by biassed superior officers. This is completely unjust and unfair.
Recently, this matter came under attention in the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and an agreement was reached by the chairman of the commission with the staff association of that organization. I think that the action being taken in respect of commission staff should be taken in respect of every section of the Commonwealth Public Service. I believe that if dossiers are to be kept they should be compiled by a properly constituted and impartial committee. They should not be based on the sometimes narrow-minded opinions of a single officer. The present practice is very dangerous because, in some cases, it affects the promotion of officers. When officers apply for a position in another part of the Public Service these history sheets are referred to. Very often, they are consulted when there is an appeal against a promotion or transfer. The chairman of the relevant appeals committee has the right to see these documents. I think that every officer should have access to his history sheet. This will be possible under the agreement reached between the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the representatives of the commission’s staff association, which represents a staff of over 3,000, and the same principle should apply to the whole Public Service. The following is part of a report on the agreement to which I have referred: -
The agreement says that steady growth of the Commission’s staff made necessary a review of the existing system of staff reports which provided information on staff training achievements, special skills, development and suitability for advance.
The object of the reports was to ensure, as far as possible, that all members of the staff were objectively assessed annually. Reporting officers would now be instructed to ask staff members if there were any circumstances which they felt had had a bearing on their work and which they would like included in their report.
This is the important part -
Any staff member who wished to do so would be allowed to see and initial the whole or part of his report.
I think that is only quite right. If a man is believed to have faults or to be inefficient he should know about it so that he can correct the defect. It should not be held against him for the rest of his career. Very often, the present practice results in a man’s failure to obtain promotion.
Another matter which I think is of some importance concerns Commonwealth furlough rates. Under section 73 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act the Public Service Board may grant to an officer who has continued in the Commonwealth service for not less than fifteen years leave of absence for a period not exceeding threetenths of one month on full salary, or threefifths of one month on half salary, in respect of each year of continuous service. The legislation provides, in effect, that for twenty years of Commonwealth service an officer shall store up for himself six months long-service leave. After 40 years of service Commonwealth public servants usually accumulate twelve months long service leave. They usually collect their pay for that leave in a lump sum and use it for some purpose such as paying off a home. That is a very good thing. The aspect of the legislation to which I object is that it states that an officer “ may “ be granted furlough - not that it “ shall “ be granted. Some officers have not received this furlough because they had court convictions against them. In some instances the offences were minor; in others they were serious. I do not think that anything can justify denying an officer the long service leave which he accumulates throughout twenty years service. Sometimes great hardship is caused by withholding long service leave.
Let us take the case of a married officer with a wife and children, who breaks the regulations in some way and incurs a conviction. This often happens, with the result that the officer is sacked. He loses his job and is fined by the court and is also deprived of his long service leave. I do not think he should have to suffer that penalty. He has earned his long service leave after perhaps twenty years of service, and I do not think that he should be deprived of it in any circumstances. The deprivation of long service leave penalizes not only the officer concerned but also his wife and children. I believe that the wife and children have just as much entitlement to this benefit as has the officer himself. The right to long service leave should be reserved for such an officer.
I hope that the Prime Minister will give consideration to these three matters which I have brought to his notice. The first of them is the right of the female sex to equal pay when doing the same work as males. Then there is the matter of dossiers. This is an old matter which should be examined and corrected. I think the system which is to apply to the staff of the Australian
Broadcasting Commission should apply to the Public Service also. The last matter is the penalizing of an officer who has a court conviction recorded against him by depriving him of his rights to furlough. When this is done it creates grave hardship not only for the officer but also, very often, for his wife and children.
.- Mr. Chairman, I wish to confine my remarks to federal aid for education. Two things which jeopardize any government, under any conditions, are yellow journalism and the apathy of the people. Few people will bother to give time and thought to a careful, critical analysis of the reasons for government procedures. This very fact makes easy the publication of articles that are completely detrimental to government and provide excuses for minor officials who cannot face up to major problems. Should the Federal Government take control of education? Do the State governments lack the initiative and know-how to cope with such a growing, versatile and demanding organization?
– Do you think they can do it, under the Constitution?
– I uphold States’ rights only because I am sincerely against the concentration of developmental powers within a few hands. Does the average citizen realize that concentrated power means less personal contact and, therefore, more red tape? The intelligent citizen, as well as the intelligent State representative, must realize that additional federal funds must mean additional federal control. Would a good business man invest funds without having a voice in the allocation and use of those funds? A government would be weak indeed if it did not control the direction force and use of funds that it made available from its treasury.
In the August issue of “The School Bell “ - a Victorian publication - an article entitled “ Schools Ignored at Premiers* Conference “ depicted the Premier of New South Wales as a martyr of the conference proceedings when he supposedly was refused by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) any discussion pertaining to the need for assistance for education. If the truth were so sacred and so desired it could be found in the verbatim report of “ The Proceedings of the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers “, held at Canberra on 15th and 16th February, 1962. Unfortunately, falsehood spreads faster and with more viciousness than truth. The damage done is inestimable and the final results can be tragic. If the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron, was refused the opportunity to discuss the problems of State education, there exists a tremendous amount of word-for-word description of his fantasy defence of his State’s contribution to education. At the same conference Mr. Bolte went on record as desiring a federal grant but made specific note of the need for acquiring it “ without tags “. He also congratulated the Prime Minister on his active interest in and magnificent extension of university and technical education.
Now the question becomes a major problem. Where is the line of demarcation between Federal and State education responsibilities? While this political football is being booted, who suffers? I believe the governmental power pertaining to education at present lies very heavily on the shoulders of the States. In a country that has been expanding and developing at the rate at which Australia has been developing, particularly with its large migrant intake, the needs of education must never be completely met because such a position would reflect not growth but stagnation. Our record is not a declining one; it is certainly one to be proud of. We should be proud of the facts as shown in the expenditure by the States on education. Whereas in 1950-51 this totalled £46,000,000, in the last complete financial year the total expenditure amounted to £184,000,000. It was quadrupled in that ten-year period. In view of that fact, can any one say that the Premiers have been ignored at Premiers’ Conferences? Whereas in 1951-52 current expenditure for State universities was just under £1,500,000, following the Commonwealth Government’s entry into this field of education - quite voluntarily - the expenditure to-day is over £14,000,000.
– Order! Throughout this debate to-day there has been a buzz of conversation on both sides of the chamber, and I have on more than one occasion directed attention to it. This buzz of conversation is not fair either to the member who is making his speech or to the “ Hansard “ reporters who are endeavouring to record the speech that is being made. Once again I ask honorable members to come to order.
– As I was saying, Mr. Chairman, current expenditure on State universities was just over £1,500,000 in 1951-52, whilst to-day, following the Commonwealth Government’s entry into this field of education voluntarily, that expenditure is over £14,000,000. Is this stagnation? In 1950-51 the Commonwealth Government established a scholarship scheme. Expenditure on that scheme began at a figure of £425,000 and this year it will reach just under £3,000,000. Over this period the number of Commonwealth scholars in training has risen from 6,000-odd to some 12,000-odd. At the present moment the Commonwealth Government has set up a committee to examine the whole field of tertiary education. This, as the Prime Minister intimated in his reply to the Premiers at the Premiers’ Conference, will probably result in some additional expenditure when the report of the committee is adopted. As the Prime Minister asked at that time: How many reports are brought down which do not involve additional expenditure? Altogether, we cannot very well glance over this record and allow comment such as that printed in “The School Bell “, in Victoria, to go unanswered.
A great deal has been done in providing for deductions to be made under the taxation laws for education costs incurred by parents. The estimated cost to revenue of these deductions this year is about £40,000,000. I would like to suggest, Mr. Chairman, that in the discussions for the next financial year consideration be given to increasing these taxation deductions, and also to making the age limit, now fixed at 21 years, more flexible. The age limit should coincide with the termination of fulltime studies by any student who, although over the age of 21 years, is wholly dependent on his parents.
.- I should like to ask the Prime Minister several questions concerning the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I appreciate, of course, that this is not the greatest of his problems at the moment, but it is something that we can discuss in the Estimates debate. I refer to the magazine “ Overland “. I am not in a captious mood to-night; in fact, I sympathize with the problems that the Commonwealth Literary Board has in relation to this matter, but I do think that in common justice and as a matter of democracy we should have another look at the case for “ Overland “. I cannot understand for the life of me why we have got into this complex about “ Overland “, which is a reasonable literary magazine. I would hesitate to be the critic in this sense, as I am sure the Prime Minister would, but I find in thumbing through this magazine that it is a firstrate literary magazine. It was, in fact, the only magazine that produced the correspondence of Walt Whitman, the famous American poet, with our own Melbourneborn Bernard 0’Dowd, who wrote such clever and incisive Australian verse. I cannot believe that “ Overland “ is being refused the small sum of f 250 by way of subsidy because of its literary quality, nor do I think the Prime Minister believes that. So, it must be something else that has caused this knotty little problem. There are many literary magazines and the Commonwealth Literary Fund is a fine thing. It has provided fellowships that have enabled Australian writers, such as Dymphna Cusack and many others who come to mind, to go on to really big things. Kenneth Slessor receives assistance from the fund to write his poems.
The Commonwealth Literary Fund was created back in the days of Prime Minister Scullin and has been followed through by his successors including Prime Minister Chifley. The present Prime Minister has been most assiduous in his support of it. He and I may have differences on where we apply the fund, but not on the general principle of literature. This fund has been a good thing for Australia because here we battle against the forces of the world in producing our literature. We send it abroad, although not in great volume, to be read and understood by other peoples. One of our jobs is to see that our literary magazines survive. It is true that these are not for the average person; they are for the writer and the person deeply interested in the literature of our country, and in that field they serve a very useful purpose. I cannot understand why this magazine has been singled out for exclusion from the Commonwealth Literary Fund of which the Prime Minister is the head, but the fact remains that a subsidy has been persistently refused. This refusal has become, regrettably, a controversial issue. “ Quadrant “, which is a magazine of the right, has bitterly criticized one of my mediocre products - a book that I wrote. The magazine has every right to do so. It also made some charges against me on this matter. Again, it had every right to do so. “ Quadrant “ is a magazine of the right that has been subsidized, and rightly so. It has been suggested that “ Overland “ is a magazine of the left. If members look through it they will see that it is not a magazine of the left; it is a magazine of left Australia. Australia has a left-wing and a left-wing of literature. Indeed, from Lawson to the present day, the works of Australian writers have been working-class literature, because we are, in effect, a working-class country. So I cannot understand why there should be this decision to ban just one magazine, “ Overland “, from fund assistance. Stephen Murray Smith, the editor, is a very capable assessor of literary merit, and I am at a loss to understand why this one magazine has been singled out. Is it the political content of the magazine? I ask the Prime Minister to examine the copy I now show him. He will see that it does not have any political content. It is the work of journalists writing as they feel, and of writers expressing their views. I am sure the Prime Minister would not put a ban on them for that reason. Some unfortunate circumstance must have developed because this one magazine has been held out from the subsidy, paltry as it is. There is a subsidy on peanuts, on nuts and bolts, and on many other things, but not this one magazine in the struggling literary field.
The writers of Australia are very little people in relation to getting a world market for their products, and the only way we can cultivate, in an educational sense, the Australian who has a desire to write is to feed him through our literary magazines. These, in turn, have to be encouraged through the Commonwealth Literary Fund and that is one reason why the fund was established and fostered. I have no complaint about my understanding friends who are members of the fund committee and of the advisory board, except in this one instance. I am beginning to wonder whether there is the political content in the magazine that they apparently imagine. I can find no political content and I invite members to examine the magazine for themselves. “ Democracy “ can be a resplendent word, but it is not very resplendent when it becomes shabby in its application. I understand that the members of the Advisory Committee were not unanimous when the Prime Minister asked what they thought of “ Overland “. If there had been a unanimous decision I have no doubt that the Prime Minister would have agreed with his experts and said, “ All right, let the magazine have the f 250 “. This annual subsidy is a trifling amount, but for a journalist working at a back room at Mount Eliza, trying to give the essence and truth of Australian literature, it is a considerable sum. So I think that in this federal Parlia o ment we should resolve this matter tonight. That is why I am approaching the Prime Minister in these terms. I know of his problems with the Common Market and the overbearing anxiety he is going through at the moment, but I hope to convince him that there is something important in Australian literature, whether it is of the right or of the left. A bird must have two wings if it is to fly, and if the writers decide to write on the right or the left we must not stay them because they are the creators of Australian thought in the long run. We could get ourselves into a complex and embarrassing position.
I do not blame the Prime Minister entirely if his advisers have not been able to say finally what should be done about this magazine. But they should have been able to give a unanimous decision for or against a subsidy to “ Overland “. I appeal to the Prime Minister to-night to do something about this matter because it is making this Parliament look rather ridiculous in the eyes of the writers of this country. These writers are becoming a considerable community and they speak for Australia throughout the world in places where we cannot speak for ourselves. I hesitate to think that this is a vendetta against the editor, Stephen Murray Smith. Some one said to me that he is an ex-Communist. But the galaxy of politics is alight with exCommunists. That is not a valid reason; if he had remained a Communist it might be different. That, surely, is not the reason. I say in all sincerity that the acid test to be applied is this: Is “ Overland “ a good literary magazine? Does it create an Australian mind, an Australian feeling, and does it bring forth something in which we can all be proud? If it does these things the paltry £250 subsidy should be expended at once. Otherwise we have the feeling that there is some victimization. We would not like to feel that, and I do not think that actually there is.
I do not want to belabour and flog this matter, but it is a fact that, as a result of the provision made in the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department and of the work of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, which has been so successful, we have had our classics reproduced. We have had works produced in this country by publishers who would not have undertaken the job were it not for the fact that they had the Commonwealth Government behind them, and quietly and steadily we are building, through this Parliament, a literary tradition. That is a very fine thing. It is even higher than politics, because it goes throughout the whole community and touches people not touched by the purely political side of life. It would be a bad thing in those circumstances if we had a victim, if we had a martyr; if among those magazines that received this small, trifling subsidy, there was one to which we said, “ You are not in it “.
Having examined this magazine - and I invite the Prime Minister to examine it also - I find that there is nothing in it not of good literary merit. And who would be a critic? Critics are ten a penny, and their decisions are not always right and their assumptions are not always correct. From cover to cover of this magazine there is nothing but the breathing spirit of Australianism, aggressive, determined, dogmatic on occasions - but writing, Australian writing, at its best. It has sought from all the sources of Australian literature those people who can write a poem, those people who can write a short story. Remember this, that in 1946 we had 2,864 Australian short stories published in Australian magazines. Now we have 200 a year, because we feed on syndicated muck from overseas. “ Overland “ is a source book that preserves the Australian content in our literature as does “Meanjin”, as does “Quadrant” in another sense. Therefore, I do not see why “Overland” does not join the galaxy.
I ask the Prime Minister to reconsider this matter, not on any recommendation made by the Commonwealth Literary Fund, but as the leader of this country, in order to ensure that “Overland” will get, as it is entitled to get, this subsidy to enable it to continue. I ask that, because the sale of this book does not pay for its production, and because there is behind it a dedicated man and his wife and his followers who are determined, whatever the cost, to produce a book that breathes the essence of Australianism, that breathes the essence of what we believe to be our ethos, which is our meaning in the world. It is rather sad for me, as a writer, to know that this magazine has been overlooked. I think that if the Prime Minister will look at it from this aspect he will feel no diffidence about seeing that among the magazines which receive a subsidy will be “Overland “, so that it may continue in existence. If it has to be a little left of centre, a little rough, a little cheeky, and if it has to be a little irrelevant, is not that the very essence of literature? Is not that a greater reason why the Prime Minister himself, who understands these things, should at once do something about giving that paltry subsidy to a good Australian magazine which is fighting for that important thing in our life - the development of Australian literature?
.- I want to address my remarks, while we are considering the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department, to Division 121 and Division 127 of the Estimates which include provision for Grants-in-Aid. I do not know whether the purposes for which the grants are made are reconsidered by the Government on each occasion, but it seems to me that once an organization gets its name on the list of those which receive Grants-in-Aid it will continue to be on that list for a long time provided it continues in existence. I think that the purposes for which GrantsinAid are made, and the organizations which receive them, need to be reviewed. I know that if a review were made we would find that there are organizations that do not need such grants and which are receiving them, although I am certain also that we would find others which should be granted a greater amount than they are being granted.
That is one aspect of the matter. The other aspect to which I want to direct the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is the apparent difficulty that some deserving organizations have in getting themselves on the list of recipients of Grants-in-Aid. I am reluctant to appear to be grinding an axe in relation to a matter in which I have a personal interest, but I wish to raise the position of the Paraplegic Association. Through me that body presented a case to the Prime Minister for a very small amount of financial assistance - in fact, a mere token amount - in relation to the Commonwealth and Empire Paraplegic Games which are to be held in Perth preceding the rholding of the Commonwealth Games for able-bodied athletes in November. For the benefit of honorable members who may not understand the meaning of the word “ paraplegic “ I explain that a paraplegic is a person who through disease, accident, injury or some other form of attack has become subject to disability which compels him to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. In other words, such a person is paralysed from the waist down. Usually, paraplegics are otherwise healthy people. Until just before the last war a person considered to be a paraplegic, and admitted to hospital as a result, was given a period of three years to live. Such people were put into a hospital ward and left there to die. As a result of medical research all that has been changed, and a paraplegic person can now live the normal life span. In fact, more than 90 per cent, of paraplegics live the normal life span although they are confined to wheelchairs. Many of them are able to earn a living despite their disability.
Much of the success that has been achieved in this field can be credited to Dr. Guttman a German who left Nazi Germany and went to England. As a result of his activities on behalf of ex-servicemen and civilians he was decorated some years ago by Her
Majesty the Queen. Inherent in the treatment and rehabilitation of paraplegics is exercise which will develop the part of the body capable of normal movement. In order to interest these people in exercise it was necessary to interest them in athletics, and that is how the question of holding games for paraplegics arose.
A few years ago, Dr. Guttman established a paraplegic centre at Stoke Mandeville in England, and ultimately organized a series of international paraplegic games. About 37 countries sent paraplegics to compete in the last games two or three years ago. These paraplegic athletes competed in various sports. These games that have been held in England - and I call them games because it is difficult to find another word for them - have been so successful that the idea has spread into the international field. The committee controlling the last Olympic Games recognized the fact that such paraplegic games formed an essential feature of athletics for disabled people, and so the paraplegic Olympics were held in the week after the Olympic Games were held in Rome. We had the good fortune to send a team from Australia, and its members came back with gold, silver and bronze medals.
These athletic activities for the rehabilitation of physically handicapped people having spread into the international field, it was decided here in Australia that as the Commonwealth Games were to be held in this country in the current year, we would hold, in conjunction with those games, Commonwealth paraplegic games. The organization of these first Commonwealth paraplegic games was set in train, and the games will be held in Western Australia before the ordinary Commonwealth Games. They will be held in the week from 10th to 17th November. It is at present expected that teams from about nine or ten Commonwealth countries will be competing in these games.
During the last week-end I had the privilege of attending in Sydney the Australian paraplegic games. I forget the number of competitors who were there, but they were from all the States of the Commonwealth, and there was even one from the Northern Territory. There was a three-day scries of games, after which a team of 20-odd wheel-chair athletes was selected to represent Australia at the Commonwealth paraplegic games. The games were highly successful and, I think, a revelation to all who were privileged to witness them and to see what these handicapped people, confined to wheel-chairs, can do to develop the parts of their bodies that can still be used.
That is the background. I had the privilege of asking the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to have the Commonwealth Government associate itself with these paraplegic games by making a financial contribution towards the cost of them. In the first instance I received a reply which gave me the impression that the purpose of the games was not fully understood. It was suggested that the Government could not give assistance towards the holding of all kinds of games on behalf of different organizations. I replied to that letter, saying that these games were something special. I said that it was not simply a matter of an organization holding games in aid of this cause or that cause, but that they were on a very big scale and for a very worthy cause. Perhaps I did not make my explanation clear enough, because the Prime Minister then wrote to me and said that the Commonwealth Government had provided £160,000 last year towards the cost of the ordinary Commonwealth games, and that it was believed that some of this amount of £160,000 would be used for the purposes of the paraplegic games. I then made inquiries of the organizers of the Commonwealth Games. They pointed out to me that at the time they made their approach to the Prime Minister the paraplegic games were hardly beyond the stage of preliminary organization, and that no part of the £160,000 had been allocated for the paraplegic games.
I am appealing to the Prime Minister, to the Government and to this Parliament to recognize this kind of activity. There is no political kudos attached to my advocacy. The numbers of people involved are not great, so there need be no thought that I will gain anything politically. However, it would be a very humane gesture to assist these people. The games are looked upon as an encouragement to disabled persons to engage in activities that will develop their muscular skill and will help to retain and develop their mental attitudes to life. This is achieved by the introduction of the competitive spirit. Those who are going to Perth to watch the Commonwealth Games will be looking forward to the thrill of seeing a display of courage, determination and tenacity by the competitors. Those who go to see the paraplegic games will see a display of courage, of dogged determination and tenacity of purpose which could not be equalled by the greatest able-bodied champions in the world. Those who will compete are people who might be considered to have a hopeless future ahead of them. They engage in these activities, and while it might be suggested that they do so for their personal gain, it must be agreed that the games have a great humane value and that they should be encouraged.
I therefore make this plea to the Prime Minister. I thought of writing another letter to him, but it seems to me that this is one of those pleas that it is very difficult to make effectively within, as it were, departmental limits. Therefore I address myself verbally to the Prime Minister, who is present in the House at this moment. I ask him to take a personal interest in the matter. If he likes to do so, he can have a yarn with me about it, or he can make inquiries of medical experts who will tell him all about these games. If necessary, we can remove the humane aspect from our considerations and look at the matter simply from the point of view of economics. By engaging in these activities paraplegics are helping to relieve this Government of the necessity of spending tens of thousands of pounds. As invalids these people would receive invalid pensions, but they are determined to be self-respecting and dependent upon themselves alone. They are therefore engaging in these rehabilitation activities to enable them to enter some field of industry.
It must be remembered that their physical disabilities require them to continue these activities, lt is not simply a matter of achieving rehabilitation within a certain time; they must continue their efforts throughout their lives if they wish to retain their physical abilities in whatever field of activity they enter. So on economic grounds alone this Government would be justified in making a considerable grant to assist these activities. As I said in the beginning, I hate to get up in this House for the purpose of grinding a personal axe. However, I believe the subject-matter is of such importance that I am justified in mentioning it here.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I suggest that there would not be one member of this Parliament who would not support the plea of the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) on behalf of this handicapped section of our community. Obviously every citizen would applaud any positive action taken to assist those who are handicapped to such a degree as these people are, and whose lives must be very different from those of us who are more fortunate. However, I wish to refer to another aspect of human endeavour, involving people whose activities are in a sense just as laudable as those of the handicapped persons to whom the honorable member referred, but who are at the other end of the health scale. I refer to the members of the Surf Life-Saving Association of Australia, a body which is making, through its agencies, its clubs and its members, a positive contribution towards a remarkable aspect of Australia’s way of life and entertainment. I would point out at the outset that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is a dedicated official of the Surf Life-Saving Association of Australia. His name appears as one of the patrons of this organization.
– He looks astounded.
– This is probably the first time that he has learned this astounding fact. I hope and trust that he will lend an ear while I express an opinion in support of the Surf Life-Saving Association and the clubs allied with it. Although the Government has this year again granted the sum of £12,000 to the Surf Life-Saving Association - this is an increase of £4,000 on the’ grant made two years ago - the fact is that the Commonwealth Parliament is having a very cheap ride on the backs of the clubs and the surf lifesavers of Australia. The Government’s contribution in no way approaches the figure it should be. The surf lifesaving clubs last year, up to September, were responsible for rescuing from the sea no fewer than 4,778 people.
– That is splendid.
– That is an excellent record, and as my colleague has interposed, it is splendid. In making these rescues, the young men who are members of the clubs on many occasions risked their own lives to bring back to terra nrma the many people who are officially recorded as having been saved. The lifesaving clubs, of course, render many other services that are not recorded by the association.
A great many people in the next few weeks will go to the seaside for recreation. For the next five months, they and their families will obtain their enjoyment essentially from activities associated with the waterfront, with our beaches and with the surf. There is not much political weight in this matter, because the total number of people directly associated with the performance of lifesaving duties is not large. Nevertheless, we should take note of the position. The position is briefly stated in the annual report of the Surf Life-Saving Association of Australia for the season 1960-61. Apart from donations and what is nothing less than an appeal to the charity of the people, the association receives its income from two government sources. It receives £12,000 from the Commonwealth Government and in New South Wales receives a further grant of £5,000 from the State Government.
In advising again at the outset of last season that the grant would be renewed, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in a letter to the association gave three basic reasons. The first is that the Government recognizes that the Surf Life-Saving Association occupies, as a pioneer of lifesaving techniques, a rather unique position in relation to other countries. In its essential features, this is distinctly an Australian sporting activity. Surf lifesaving as we know it, is not as extensively developed overseas as it is in this country. As a matter of fact, Australia in this field, as in many others,, leads the world in techniques associated with the saving of life from the sea.
The second reason is the relationship of the Australian association with the State associations, coupled with the important contribution to beach safety given so readily in a public-spirited way by many young Australian men. That is true. These young men give of their time. Certainly, they find a great amount of pleasure in engaging in this activity. They develop their physiques and it is a sport with them. But nevertheless, if they were withdrawn or if their numbers dwindled even more than they have, government authorities would have to replace them with paid agents to guard the lives of those who enjoy our surf. Rather than stand back and wait for such an evil day to strike us, the government of the day should make a more positive and realistic approach and give even more assistance to this association. The third reason given by the Treasurer is the degree of practical aid and information given by the association through publications it distributes, lectures and the example afforded by our lifesavers on the beaches.
My point is this: Although the grant of £12,000 assists in the administrative efforts of the Australian association in a valuable way, it does not directly touch the clubs. Other honorable members have surf lifesaving clubs in their constituencies. The honorable members for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) and others have clubs in their constituencies. Of course, the clubs on the south coast are amongst the leading clubs in Australia. But the clubs themselves are not receiving any direct financial aid, and they must equip themselves with expensive materials in order to perform their functions week-end after week-end.
– How is the £12,000 spent?
– According to the information provided by the association, insurance of members, instructors, &c, in the various States amounts to £2,352. The instructional conference, which is an educational symposium, as it were, held annually, costs £990. Clerical assistance costs £1,500 and delegates’ travelling expenses take another £1,191. They are the major items. The point I make is that the clubs are not receiving any direct financial assistance for the provision of such equipment as lines and reels, surfboards and resuscitation equipment and for the construction of club houses in which to store their gear and in which the young men can assemble. Unless the clubs are assisted, they will become like Oliver Twist. They are merely a group of good fellows who are forced to knock on doors throughout their district and ask people to give 2s., or else (run a carnival so that they can obtain finance with which to continue their activities. I do not think it is good enough for any responsible member of the Parliament to permit this state of affairs to exist. I have no apology for directing attention to this most important matter.
A brief analysis of the rescues made during last year shows how important lifesaving activities are. The report of the association discloses that no fewer than 4,778 people were rescued from the sea. Rescues with lifelines totalled 2,265; rescues without a lifeline totalled 2,076; rescues with a lifesaving boat, 156; rescues with other gear, surfboards, skis, &c, 281. Let me bring another startling figure to the attention of the committee. In the recorded history of the association, rescues of all types total no fewer than 123,421. That is truly a sterling performance and should make us realize the high degree of courage of the young men who engage in these activities often with great risk to themselves. Periodically, a dramatic impact is made on the Australian mind by reports of young surfmen going into the sea in the presence of sharks to rescue people who are in difficulties. We know that these young men go into the sea without lifelines under all sorts of conditions and in truth risk their own lives.
I suggest that financial assistance is highly important to the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia. The association is teaching life-saving methods to great numbers of young men and is training them efficiently in the saving of life. In the 1960-61 season, no fewer than 2,192 bronze medallions were obtained in competitive examinations. Instructors’ certificates were awarded to 451 young men and qualifying certificates to 599. This means that a total of 3,242 young men were equipped to meet almost any physical emergency on the beaches and inland waterways of Australia and to save lives. This is important. The association estimates that the total equipment of the 219 clubs throughout Australia that com prise the association is worth, in round figures, something like £200,000. This indicates the great degree of effort made by the clubs and their supporters in the raising of funds additional to the grants provided by governments. That effort should be applauded and supplemented by generous financial support. I do not think for one moment that £12,000 a year out of a total Budget of about £2,000,000,0000 represents generous financial support.
Every rescue represents a life saved, and we cannot compute in financial terms the value of a human life. In industry, we pay great attention to the safeguarding of life. The trade unions rightly insist on safeguards of every possible kind. We do this out of a natural, normal instinct. Yet, on the surf beaches of this country risks are being taken every week by thousands of adults and children and we are prepared to help the Surf Life-Saving Association with what is only a measly pittance when it is analysed in its true perspective and compared with this Government’s total Budget.
What is the position in New South Wales? Mr. Tom Meagher is president of the New South Wales centre, which represents all the surf life-saving clubs in the State.
– He is a fine man.
– Yes. He attended in my electorate only 24 hours ago a meeting concerned with life-saving. This indicates the wide diversity of interests of these men who give this great service to the community at much personal expense to themselves. Mr. Meagher, in a report for the financial year 1960-61, stated that no fewer than 2,265 rescues with life-lines were made in New South Wales in that year. The lifelines have to be kept in good condition and ready for use at any time. These life-lines are not just lengths of string or coils of rope. To-day, they are nylon ropes and they have to be correctly wound on the reels. These life-lines are very costly indeed. They wear out or are frayed and otherwise damaged, and they have to be replaced. If these lifelines were not available for use at any time, lives would be lost. In 1960-61, no fewer than 2,076 rescues were made without lifelines, and 156 were made with life-saving boats. The cost of an ordinary life-saving boat for a surf club is something like £500. That is a lot of money for a club to have to raise at the rate of 2s. a head paid by its members, or by the sale of raffle tickets or some other means such as knocking on doors and pleading, as it were, with the people of the district to help.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, no one on either side of the chamber would think for one moment that the efforts of the surf life saving clubs throughout Australia were not worthy of high praise. However, it is quite simple to say that, from a budget of the magnitude of the Commonwealth Budget for 1962-63, it should be easy for the Government to double the grant to the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia. It is just as easy to say that the Government could double the grant made to some other organization, as was suggested earlier by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie). If one listens carefully to the discussion on the Estimates, one finds that many honorable members make proposals which, in the long run, would mean the allocation of more money by the Government, but no one advocates any method by which the Government could raise the additional money sought.
– The Government is now taking enough in taxes to provide the additional funds.
– The matter is quite simple for some honorable members. They say that we ought to find another £50,000,000 or £100,000,000 but that taxation must be kept within the limits provided for in the present Budget. If honorable members opposite think that taxation is now too heavy, they should tell us where the money could come from, not where it will not come from. The natural thing to do when one makes a proposal is to suggest where the necessary money should come from.
I have often thought about the position of the local councils that have the sometimes unhappy job of looking after the beaches. They have to meet the cost of beach improvements, parking areas and everything else. They provide facilities that are used by ratepayers who live throughout the metropolitan areas. If every person who went for a swim at Bondi and Coogee beaches paid ls. to go on the beach, the life-savers could have ten times the equipment they needed and there would be no problem to be presented to any government for solution. I believe that we can go too far by saying that every problem in Australia can be solved by the simple method of adding another nought to government expenditure. The life-saving associations of Australia are extremely proud of their own voluntary efforts. They are voluntary organizations that have been built up by voluntary effort, and I believe-
– Does the honorable member want to charge every one in the country for the upkeep of the beaches?
– In a moment, I shall comment on a few things that the honorable member said, and perhaps he will interject again.
We have to-day seen a change in the way in which the discussion of the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department is approached, because subjects other than education have been mentioned. Normally, when the estimates for this department are discussed, speaker after speaker calls for a national inquiry into education and an interim payment of millions of pounds by the Commonwealth for the benefit of education in the States. When the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) was speaking, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said that Australia ought to be ashamed of its expenditure on education as shown by figures published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. I believe that, on those figures, we have not a great deal to be ashamed about in education. I believe, on the contrary, that we in this country have a lot to be proud of. It is quite easy to take a set of figures and to attempt to compare the incomparable. The figures for Australia contained in the last issue of Unesco’s publication, “ Basic Facts and Figures were in fact wrong. They were arrived at on wrong conclusions. The organization has now been advised of this, as a matter of fact. Honorable members opposite will be pleased to know that when the next set of figures is published by Unesco, the figures for Australia will be correct and will show a picture quite different from that given by the present figures.
I shall give the committee the figures for only a few countries, because my time is extremely limited. These are per capita figures expressed in Australian currency by applying the exchange rates obtained from the “Commonwealth Year Book” for 1961. The Australian expenditure per capita on education was £19. Expenditure in New Zealand was £20.8 and in the United States of America £43.3. Expenditure in the United Kingdom is given in three parts - England and Wales £18.8, Northern Ireland £15.1 and Scotland £23.8. One does not need to go further than that. Expenditure on education represented 3.42 per cent, of the national income in Australia, 3.7 per cent, in New Zealand, 4.6 per cent, in the United States and 4.2 per cent, in the United Kingdom. If honorable members examine these figures, they will find that the Australian figures are based primarily on State expenditure on education and do not take into account expenditure undertaken by the independent schools, which provide for 25 per cent, of education in this country. Honorable members talk about a crisis in education. The crisis is far greater in the independent schools than any crisis that one could imagine in the State schools. It is easy to say that these Unesco figures prove that Australia is not doing enough.
I consider that education is one of the greatest imaginable drains on our resources. But I do not say that it should not be a drain on our resources. Education is vital to the future of this country.
– We are spending more on defence than we are spending on education.
– The honorable member, of course, would say that we spent too much on defence if we spent only £1 or £2 a year. For his benefit, I say that I have just explained a matter about which he interjected earlier. He was not present in the chamber to hear my explanation, but he will be able to read it in “ Hansard “ tomorrow. I repeat, again for the honorable member’s benefit, that the Australian figures concerning expenditure on education, as shown in a table from which I have just quoted certain figures, differ from those published by Unesco in “ Basic Facts and Figures “ because Unesco used a figure which included only the State government expenditure from Consolidated Revenue. It omitted expenditure of a capital nature from loan funds together with all of the Commonwealth expenditure. That this is misleading has been pointed out to the Unesco authorities and the matter will be adjusted in subsequent editions of the publication.
Australia with its limited resources and with the great developmental problems confronting it has done something of which it can be proud. Surely you cannot refer to education in the United Kingdom, that small, heavily populated country where development has been going on for years, and pluck one figure from a lot of statistics and compare it with what has been done in Australia.
There has been a concerted move for the Commonwealth to institute a national inquiry into education and, in the meantime, to make specific grants to the States to cover up the deficiencies which finally will be found. I believe that the request is not only for additional funds now but for continually increasing allocations. In the last ten years the expenditure on education in most States has been so great that instead of education being a Cinderella portfolio in a State government it has become a brightlight portfolio which handles a greater expenditure than does any other portfolio. Education cannot be compared on a percentage basis with any other State activity. Surely honorable members must realize that the States do not want Commonwealth fund’s if it means Commonwealth intervention in the conduct of the education system. If honorable members study the reports of Premiers’ Conferences or of conferences of Ministers for Education they will find that at no stage do the States advocate Commonwealth intervention even if Commonwealth intervention would mean additional funds being made available.
– That is not true!
– If the honorable member studies the reports to which I have referred he will find that my statement is true. I think the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) said that he and some of his colleagues spent the recess visiting schools in Victoria and New South Wales and that they were amazed at what they saw. It is not necessary to have a Commonwealth committee of inquiry to learn about education in Australia. The honorable member for Phillip and his colleagues should have gone to Western Australia, as the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) did last year. They would have found that the education system in Western Australia has much more to offer than it has in Victoria or in New South Wales. According to statistics, the percentage of graduates in Western Australia has increased whereas it has fallen in Victoria. I think that most of the teachers in the high schools in Western Australia are university graduates. This has followed from the State Government’s acceptance of the responsibility in the field of education which has been placed upon it by the Constitution. It has not sought to shelve its responsibility with the excuse that the Commonwealth can solve the problem by allocating additional funds.
If, for arguments sake, the Commonwealth Budget had provided an additional £100,000,000 for education would the States have been able to spend that amount? I doubt it very much. If the States had been able to build in a month a great number of training colleges I doubt whether they could have found sufficient trainees to enter them. I know that in Western Australia there are more applicants for teachers’ bursaries than there are situations available. The situations available were based on the apparent needs of the department and, for the first time in the history of education in Australia, the Education Department has been able to become highly selective in its choice of candidates for training colleges. All honorable members must admit that this is far better than having to take any one who offers his services.
It is often said that the Commonwealth must have a responsibility in this field because it has been responsible for the migrant intake which has increased tremendously the number of school children in Australia. Speaking again of my own elec torate, I know that the great percentage of migrant children are not being educated at schools which are controlled by the State. About 90 per cent, of the children at one school in my electorate are migrant children. There is not one State teacher in that school nor is there one building or any facilities which have been provided by the State. The allocation of loan funds to the States takes into account our migrant intake, and that is the reason why additional funds have been made available.
Most of the statements which are made on this subject are made without due regard to the facts. Although I admit that a tremendous amount can be done in relation to education in Australia, I would apply the first remedy not particularly to the schools but to the homes of the people who supply the school children. I believe that great hardship exists in families which are trying to educate children. It does not matter how much you assist the State education authorities by direct grants - even to the extent of £100,000,000- you will not take the load off the family which has children of school age.
– What about child endowment?
– If you consider the assistance which the Commonwealth Government has given to the family man by way of taxation allowances you will find that this has more than offset any increase in child endowment which could have been granted. I remember an extremely able speech on this subject by the previous Minister for Supply, Mr. Hulme, which I commend to honorable members opposite.
I do not think that we should be ashamed of our achievements in education over the last ten years. Let us consider some of them. In that period the number of teachers’ colleges in Australia has increased from 14 to 28.
– That is not enough.
– I know that it is not enough, but surely the honorable member must admit that if the number of training colleges has been increased from 14 to 28 in about ten years - honorable members know the cost of running one such college - this means that the funds being devoted to this purpose must have been increased tremendously and that these funds could come from only one source - from the Commonwealth Government.
The Wyndham report pointed out that in New South Wales one in four of those who gained the leaving certificate has entered a teachers’ college. If you look at the population graph for the last two decades the situation becomes clear. The statistics relevant to births covering the period from 1922 to 1961 indicate that teachers range in age from twenty years upwards and that these have been drawn from the depression, post-depression and wartime periods. The population which is making the increased demand on our educational system comprises children born from 1946 onwards. This population patently is unable to supply its own teachers. As the years go by it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a solution. Perhaps we could recruit teachers from overseas but teachers are in short supply all over the world and’ it would be difficult to fit overseas teachers into our own system of education. But even if we could launch them into our own system we must first attempt to train our own teachers to meet the population bulge which is evident. As honorable members will admit, finance is not the only limiting factor. Manpower and materials must be considered.
I do not think that we need apologise for what has been done in the field of education. A’ great deal of expansion is taking place, and will continue to take place even if the present trends continue.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- To the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) everything in the field of education in Australia is lovely. The hundreds of slum schools, the thousands of children who are being taught in overcrowded classrooms, the shortage of teachers and the failure to plan properly for the expansion of our universities satisfies him. Although the school leaving age in Australia is lower than it is in most other countries of the world, the honorable member for Perth, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) and the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) are satisfied.
This is not necessarily an attack upon this Government as such. This is an appeal to the Commonwealth Government for leadership in the field of education because the Commonwealth Government is the only government in Australia which can supply it. There is no gainsaying that. Only last night I attended a function in my electorate at which some of the senior education administrators in Victoria were present. One of them told me that although he had held his high post for five or six years he had not so far been able to hold consultations with people who held positions outside Victoria corresponding to his. We have to examine the State systems. As was implicit in the words of the honorable member for Perth, the States have reached the end of their resources in education. They have not the kind of resources which will allow them to expand their educational systems or to change them with the times. The leadership must come from the Commonwealth. What we are looking for is leadership through cooperation and persuasion and influence from the Commonwealth Government.
We are living in a time of habits. For some 80 or 90 years the Australian education system has proceeded on much the same pattern. There is not a great deal of difference between the concepts of the education systems of 40 years ago, or 25 years ago, and the present concept. In a changing world, this is inadequate. There has been a social change, resulting in pressures inside the community, from the family and elsewhere, for people to stay longer at school. Therefore, on this side of the chamber, we believe that this is an urgent national question. There are many questions that have to be answered. What is the direction of Australian education? Where is it going? I do not think anybody knows. I realize how difficult it is for a member of this Parliament to obtain adequate information about the Australian education system. Where can it be obtained? Where can one obtain a comprehensive view of the Australian education system? One cannot. The only authority that could supply it is the Commonwealth Government, expressing the opinion of this Parliament. It is folly indeed, it is flying in the face of the needs of the nation, for people such as the honorable member for Perth, the honorable member for Ballaarat and the honorable member for Macarthur to deny this. If it was valid to appoint the Murray committee to examine education, it is valid to appoint a committee to examine all fields of education. If it was valid for the peoples of the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom to take this kind of action at the national level, it is valid for the people of Australia to do it. Look at the Crowther report. Look at the Massey report on the arts, sciences and letters in Canada. Look at the reports that are available from America, France and other countries. There is a constant searching at the national level in all these places to ascertain the theme of education, the direction in which education is going and the way in which policy should be moulded. It can be seen that the national governments in other countries are supplying the kind of leadership which is not forthcoming from this Government.
I do not know why the Government continually dodges this issue. The Prime Minister saw some needs in universities, but I am afraid that he has under-planned in that respect, as in everything else, and that the Government has made inadequate provision for the future. But if the Prime Minister saw those needs in university education, surely he can see them in primary, secondary and other fields of education. The Prime Minister should at least drive around the country and see the schools. He should go into my electorate and see the slum schools. When I say “ slum schools “, I do not mean that these schools are among slum people, but, because they were built up to 80 years ago, they are completely inadequate. The school grounds are inadequate. The classrooms are unlighted or gloomy. They have no room for expansion, and no place for the young people to play football or cricket. The only thing to do with them is what would be done with hotels, picture theatres or office buildings in this condition - remove them and rebuild them. This is a part of the challenge presented by the Australian education system. Where else can leadership lie but in this Parliament and in this Government?
Honorable members opposite have taken great pains to cite figures. I have examined the list mentioned by the honorable mem ber for Perth, and I see that even if we adjust Australian expenditure on education to 3.42 per cent, of our national income, we still lie about 25th or 30th on the list. About 50 countries spend a greater proportion of their national incomes on education than Australia. These figures are available for anybody to see. But this is not the point. Australia is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. It should be able to spend a greater proportion of its national income on services such as education than countries such as Italy, Finland or even the United Kingdom.
This is a question of priorities. During this debate, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), by interjection, said that it was rubbish to say that Australia spent more on defence than on education. I should like to hear the honorable member’s figures in this regard. Is it not a fact that the total expenditure on all forms of education in Australia this year will be about fi 80,000,000 and that over £200,000,000 will be spent on defence? The Opposition is not going to decry defence. It is a question of priorities. Each of the young men who is being trained at Duntroon will cost Australia about £3,300 per annum. A doctor costs only £600 or £700 per annum to train. A teacher costs only about £400 per annum. It is a simple question of priorities.
The question of education is challenging the whole Western world. It is not only people on this side of the chamber who are concerned about this simple problem. The simplicity of the problem is in the way in which it can be seen. It will require a complex answer. The challenge that the Western world cannot face at the moment concerns the diversion of its resources towards this kind of national endeavour. There is no doubt that in fields of ordinary common education, such as training in languages, Russia is miles ahead of the Englishspeaking countries. It is ahead in technological training and in the proportion of its population receiving technical education. That is one of the issues that we have to face.
There are some other questions which honorable members opposite might examine in a more fruitful way. They are continually comparing one government with another. Let us compare the statistics for Victoria with those for New South Wales. In 1961, there were nearly twice as many students in New South Wales universities as there were in Victorian universities, although Victoria has 75 per cent, of the population of New South Wales. About twenty years of Labour government in New South Wales has created greater educational opportunities for the children of that State than have been created for the children of Victoria. A crisis is approaching.
These are the things that I see lacking in Australian education: First of all, there is the extraordinary shortage of teachers, particularly at the secondary level. The Victorian Secondary Teachers Association has produced a brochure entitled the “ Crisis in the Staffing of Secondary Schools “. The New South Wales Teachers Union has produced a similar document about the New South Wales education system. This is not an attack upon anybody in particular. It is an appeal for action to anybody who cares to see that the classrooms of Australia are overcrowded.
There is under-planning at all levels of education - whether kindergarten, primary, secondary, technical or university. I challenge honorable members opposite to state what they are going to do about the chart that was published in the “ Financial Review “ some time ago, which sets out the university populations of Australia. The chart shows the university enrolments and predicted enrolments from 1960 to 1966 -
In four year’s time we shall have to find places in the universities for another 30,000 people on the present rate of expansion and assuming that the social level and educational aspirations of the people are not raised in the meantime. Judged by the present staff - student ratios of Australian universities, this will require another 3,000 or 4,000 staff. This would be the equivalent of three more universities the size of Melbourne University. I invite the Government to show me that it has planned to meet this need in the next few years. It is not good enough for the Government to say that it is taking it one step at a time. Our children will go through the schools but once. Miss the opportunity now and it is gone forever. Once they reach sixteen, seventeen or eighteen years of age, they are lost to the education system. Only one in a hundred will come back to it again. Therefore the Government cannot defer this question. It cannot delay it. It must meet the challenge now. Unless the Government is answering the challenge of these university figures, it is failing in its plain and bounden duty. Honorable members opposite cannot deny that.
Let the honorable member who follows me, whoever he may be, answer this simple question: Where are the 30,000 university places to be found in the next four years? This is a matter which is related to the Prime Minister’s Department. Assistance to universities is the Prime Minister’s greatest pride. This is something that is raised from the other side of the chamber whenever the Opposition initiates a debate on education. Unfortunately, I do not believe that honorable members opposite are doing or can do anything about it.
The honorable member for Perth said that it was a question of man-power and materials. Approximately 100,000 people are out of work. Timber, bricks, mortar and other materials are stacked in the building yards of Australia. Man-power and materials are available; all that is needed is the will to use them. But the problem in relation to education is not simply one of material resources. I believe that Australia’s education system needs a new sense of direction because there are so many factors which have to be examined. For instance, take language training. Why are the children in our schools still learning French? There may be lots of educational or cultural reasons for learning French, but our newest frontier is Indonesia. How many people in this country, how many administrators of the Commonwealth public service will be able to meet the people of Indonesia man to man and speak to them? How many people in the next generation of scholars will be able to do it? How many people will the Country Party be able to send to China to try and organize wheat deals with the Chinese?
How many will be able to meet the Japanese man to man in their own language? Where are the people who are examining this question and finding an answer to it?
When I look at the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department and see the grant for the Council of Education static at £7,500, I wonder whether honorable members opposite have even noticed these problems with which the education system of Australia is confronted. Language training is one of these problems and I mention it because in some parts of the world people have extraordinary success with language training. I am often both impressed and depressed by the extraordinary facility with which some of the migrants who come to my electorate have learnt the English tongue. Ordinary Dutch people from working class homes in Holland are able to speak our language within two or three months of their arrival here because of the grounding they have had in Holland. What is the essence of the skill of teaching the English language in Holland which enables these migrants to do that? Apparently teachers have had a great deal of success in language training in Russia also. What is the skill which enables them to achieve this? Would it not be worthwhile for the Commonwealth Government to carry out some kind of research which will enable the teaching profession of Australia to do this? For instance, how many of the teachers of French in this country have ever had the opportunity to visit France? I can mention question after question after question which a full-scale inquiry such as we see being conducted overseas could answer.
Another problem is how we can overcome wastage in our schools. How many honorable members on the Government side realize that the school-leaving age of fourteen years in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria is inadequate? How many of them realize that even the school-leaving age of sixteen in Tasmania is barely adequate these days or that the school-leaving age of fifteen years in New South Wales is still inadequate even though the standard of education in New South Wales is higher than that of other States? Do honorable members on the Government side realize that in New South Wales education authorities have been able to erect better and more modern school buildings than they have been able to do in Victoria with the same resources? What is the administrative skill that has enabled this to be done? I say we have to develop a national concept of education so that all the children of Australia, no matter where they are born, no matter where they be, no matter what their social standing may be, shall have equality of opportunity.
I believe that we should embark immediately upon the rebuilding of obsolete schools. This may even mean the relocation of some in suburban parts of Australia, but we must give the education system of Australia a new sense of direction. We have to look at the problems of these people who, at the age of sixteen or seventeen years, have used up all their chances in ordinary academic education and who are now faced with th3 challenge of perhaps 40 or 50 years of work in a new world with changing and new techniques. We have to realize that in future most people will be unable to rely upon the skills which they learned in their youth.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– When the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) began his speech fifteen minutes ago he said two things which I do not think are correct. First he said that those honorable members on this side who had spoken make it quite clear that they were content with the present standard of education in Australia and did not want any improvement in that standard. I did not hear every honorable member who spoke on this side of the committee, but I did hear the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), who spoke just before the honorable member for Wills, and nothing that he said could be construed as meaning that he was completely satisfied with the present standard of education in the States. Because one argues that the Commonwealth should, not necessarily hand out large additional sums of money for particular purposes it does not mean that one is arguing that the States should not look after their own particular bailiwick and improve matters within their own boundaries.
The other thing which the honorable member for Wills said which was incorrect, as I see the position, was that the Government - and perhaps the Australian Universities Commission coupled with it - has not given a lead to the direction in which education should go in future years. That is not so. In its own sphere - the sphere of universities - this Government has given a direct lead. A committee on tertiary education has been established to try to give some guidance to the Government, and to the universities, as to how Australia should cater for the greatly increased numbers who will want, demand and have the right to places at a university. This is not a simple problem, nor is it a problem than can be answered quickly. (Quorum formed.)
Earlier in the debate, the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) criticized the committee that has been established to examine tertiary education. He criticized it on the ground that it is too large, and on the ground that it is too slow in bringing down a report. If the honorable member had made even the slightest examination of the complexity of the problem confronting this committee, I do not think he would believe for one moment that the committee is too slow in bringing down its report because what the committee recommends may well affect the shape and nature of Australia’s universities for many years to come.
I should like, if I may, to point out briefly some of the problems which this committee will have to try to solve. There are some people in Australia who believe that the present increased demand for university education is a phenomenon that will last for a few years and then find its own level and taper off. I do not believe that for one moment. I believe that the increased demand for university education is going to continue not for some years but for decades. Just after the war, only 2 per cent, of the seventeen to 22 years age group went to universities. Now the figure is about 6 per cent., and the age group is much larger. Although the institutions of the United States of America are not all strictly comparable with ours, it is a fact that in the United States 37 per cent, of the people in the 17 to 22 years group go through some form of institution which gives them some degree of higher education. It is my belief that Australia will have to aim at something like 30 per cent, over the next decades and when you look at this question in terms of how university facilities are going to increase, you get an idea of the magnitude of the particular problem.
This increase obviously will place on the Commonwealth Government a tremendous financial burden the extent of which has not yet been envisaged or realized by the Government or perhaps by this Parliament. It is my belief that places must be provided for the larger numbers who will be wanting higher university education, and those places must be more suited to not only the needs of the student but also the needs of the community than are the places offering at the present time. The failure rate of round 40 per cent, is ample evidence that the places which are available in universities do not suit all the students in those places.
There are several reasons for this failure1 rate, and any changes in Australia’s university framework will have to be designed to overcome them. One problem is the lack of supervision in the first year. When the student goes from the closely supervised matriculation year at school to the first year at university, the change is often a lot more than he can manage unless he is given much more help than he now receives. Again, there are only a very small percentage of Australian students in residential colleges of one kind or another. This again means that they get less supervision than they would receive in a college. Very few students in our universities get adequate tutorials. There is very often insufficient contact between the teachers and those who are being taught, and perhaps the quality of the teaching at the matriculation standard at school is not adequate. Perhaps the leaving age is a year too low, because the average Australian youth leaves school about a year earlier than does his counterpart in the United Kingdom, where the failure rate is much less than it is here.
I believe that for various reasons the failure rate experienced in Australia is inherent in the Australian university and secondary school educational framework, and that the committee which is examining the future of teritiary education will have to look at the whole problem to try to overcome it, because the wastage that is taking place and the cost involved in that wastage is something which no Australian Parliament could contemplate with ease of mind. There is a great deal to be learned from the United Kingdom and perhaps also from the United States of America in this field because we do not always realize that Australian universities are quite unlike such institutions in those countries. For example, we concentrate on the pass degree and very few students do an honours degree and fewer still do post-graduate work. This has the result that the pass degree involves a high degree of specialization not only at the university but also in the last two or three years of student life at school. In the United Kingdom there is emphasis on the honours degree and students with average or above average ability nearly always take an honours degree. The straight pass degree is much less usual there. This has the result that the pass degree student gets less specialization and the specialization is done in the honours work.
There is also a much greater amount of post-graduate work in the United Kingdom. This has the result that there is much less specialization in the pass degree and in the school and in addition the students stay at school a year or eighteen months longer than do those in Australia. In the United States of America there is much less specialization than there is in the United Kingdom. The graduate course at the university, or the liberal arts college as they call it, is a much more general course than we have at Australian universities; and professional courses nearly always involve postgraduate work. To obtain a professional degree you nearly always have to do the post-graduate course, although there are exceptions to that. In addition to these general patterns which you can find in the United States of America and in the United
Kingdom there are important differences in certain universities; and important experiments are being carried out at some old universities in both countries, and at some new universities, such as one at present being established in Sussex and one established at Keele in North Staffordshire some years ago. I believe Australia could learn much from studying what these universities are doing and are trying to do. What they are doing may not be suitable for Australian conditions, but it warrants investigation, because a great deal of thought has been put into these matters. I think the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) made light of these things when he spoke in this debate and perhaps did not realize the complexity of the task which lies ahead.
It is my belief that when the committee which is examining tertiary education in Australia finally makes its report we will find it recommending fundamental changes in the university framework in Australia. Such changes must be right for Australian conditions because they will affect our students and universities and professions for many years to come. If Australia is to provide the places for the greatly increased number of students who will require and who have the right to higher education we will have to face up to the problems that lie ahead. There are several courses which may be open to Australia or to Australian universities to meet this particular demand. We can expand, as we are at present, while trying to increase the standards; but I think that would be too expensive and I do not think we would overcome the failure rate by doing that. We could expand the number of technical schools and try to cater for the increased number of students in this way, but I believe there is too much specialization already without making the position much worse by creating more institutions which teach nothing but specialization. We could perhaps reduce specialization and perhaps reduce the standard a little. Perhaps we could encourage the brighter students to take honours degrees and a greater number to go on to post-graduate work. This, I believe, offers some kind of solution which might be suitable to Australian conditions; but these matters require a great deal of examination and when the committee which is examining these problems finally makes its report, probably some time next year, this Parliament should give a great deal of consideration to what it has to say.
– The Labour Party has for some years now been emphasizing that a crisis exists in Australian education. We have been at some pains to impress upon this Government that such a condition of crisis does exist, and we have raised this matter again to-night simply because during last year’s debate on this question the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) reiterated his point of view - and presumably that of the Government - that no such crisis condition did exist. We say not only that a crisis condition exists but also that in a number of important respects the position is deteriorating. In my own State, and in fact in every State in Australia at present, quotas are being imposed in almost every university faculty. That is happening in every university in Australia.
In the New South Wales universities and technical schools - presumably if this has not already happened it will follow soon in the other States - fees are being raised by up to 33-1/3 per cent. The proportion of available Commonwealth scholarships to applicants is deteriorating substantially, as I hope to indicate later. Less than half our secondary school teachers have the necessary qualifications for teaching in secondary schools. A great shortage of staff exists, particularly in secondary and technical education. There is an acute shortage of library facilities at universities and not only in primary and secondary education. In recent times we have had the spectacle of the chief librarian of the Sydney University resigning in disgust because of the hopelessness of the situation.
We have a scarcity of teaching equipment in secondary and technical schools, to say nothing of the universities and1 teachers’ colleges. Any attempt to produce a new concept of education, such as the Wyndham Report envisages for education in New South Wales, can only be a matter of a paper entry while the States are starved of the amount of money required to bring it into existence. There is strong evidence of a comparative decline in apprenticeship training in our technical colleges. This is a most shocking situation at a time when our trade is developing and with the spectre of the Common Market possibilities looming before us in regard to our secondary industries and our export trade in manufactured goods. While that situation exists we have the number of apprentices, as a proportion of the 15 years age group in the community, at a point of stagnation, with no increase over the last five years. This affects the position five years hence, because these are the young men and women who will supply the trained people in five years time and that is when we will feel the pressure. Delay in stepping up this programme now will then be felt and nobody can envisage the serious consequences it may have for this country. That is why we are asking this Government to give education a much higher priority than it already has in our scheme of things.
It is useless to say that the States are spending record amounts of money on education. Of course, they are. This year New South Wales is spending 40 per cent, of its Budget on education; but nobody going into State schools, technical colleges or teachers’ training centres can fail to notice the grave and critical deficiencies in our education system. It is useless to tell me or anybody else with a sense of responsibility that this country cannot afford to do better. In 1960-61 public education authorities expended £149,000,000 on education but, as against that, we expended £166,000,000 on tobacco and cigarettes and £304,000.000 - over twice as much - on beer, wine and spirits. In that situation, nobody could say that education was being allotted its proper priority. Anybody with a sense of responsibility not only to the present generation but also to the future of this country must recognize that education should have a much higher priority than we have been prepared to give it. This Government is not prepared to rally to the responsible demands of so many sections of our community which recognize this to be so. I think that if the vast majority of people were convinced that it was necessary, they would be quite prepared to bear increased taxes in order to provide the facilities required.
The President of the United States of America, a federal leader, gave a lead that we, in this Parliament, might well follow.
In addressing the United States Congress, on 20th October, 1961, he said-
The human mind is our fundamental resource. A balanced Federal programme must go well beyond incentives for investment in plant and equipment. It must include equally determined measures to invest in human beings - both in their basic education and training and in their more advanced preparation for professional work. Without such measures, the Federal Government will not be carrying out its responsibilities for expanding the base of our economic and military strength.
That is in terms of economics and defence, to say nothing of the social and cultural demands of our population. He went on to say -
Education must remain a matter of State and local control, and higher education a matter of individual choice. But education is increasingly expensive. Too many State and local governments lack the resources to assure an adequate education for every child. Too many classrooms are overcrowded. Too many teachers are underpaid. Too many talented individuals cannot afford the benefits of higher education. Too many academic institutions cannot afford the cost of, or find room for, the growing numbers of students seeking admission in the sixties.
Our twin goals must be: A new standard of excellence in education - and the availability of such excellence to all who are willing and able to pursue it.
That is in sharp contrast to our imposition of quotas and of substantially higher fees for attendance at higher technical and university institutions. We do need a more enlightened approach in Australia and only this Federal Government, at this stage, can provide it. That is all that we ask for.
For instance, the Australian Education Council informed us in 1960 there was an estimated need for an additional 6,000 teachers in Australian public schools. Victorian secondary schoolteachers told the Australian Labour Party Education Committee this year that about 36 per cent, of Victorian secondary teachers were only temporary public servants. The vast majority of the 36 per cent, are temporary simply because they have not the qualifications for teaching. I take Victoria as an instance. The story can be repeated in respect of other States. When we realize that those 36 per cent, inadequately trained teachers are responsible for the education of about 50,000 Victorian students, we start to see the proportions of the difficulties that this country faces. If one had time to go on, he could indicate that the position is even more serious, in view of the grave deficiencies that exist in the teaching of science, mathematics and technical subjects that should be looming high in our order of priorities in this day and age. The deficiencies are even graver than that raw figure would indicate.
On the human side, Mr. D. C. Smith, an inspector of schools in South Australia, addressing, I think, a meeting of the Institute of Australian Inspectors, said recently that parents and teachers should work more closely together to help pupils during their difficulties as adolescents. Especially is this needed in order to give the child emotional stability. I had occasion to go along to a school to inquire on behalf of a youngster who was in some sort of trouble. I could not get to see the lad’s class teacher, who handled him and knew him very well. The best I could do was to see the headmaster of the school. His approach was to get out a pupil record card, which contained cold statistics, plus a few sentences in relation to character evaluations by the teachers who had handled this youngster. We shall not be doing this job of education properly until a parent can go along to the teacher that is handling his or her child and have a yarn about the problems that the child is experiencing. In that way education can become a co-operative enterprise of parent and teacher, as it ought to be. We must realize that these young people are human beings, above all else, apart from their economic worth. They have to grow up and live in intimate association with other people. This human side is infinitely important. I think it is this side even more than the economic aspect that is suffering under present conditions, in which we have, in the first place, grossly inadequate, and, in the second place, ill-trained teachers to make the position even worse.
Of course, the problem is aggravated not only because of the change in educational trends to-day, but also because of the new trend for children to stay on at school. The fact is that many more children are now staying on to complete secondary education. Professor Kormel in May of this year, mentioned the greatly increased proportion of children, of sixteen years of age or older, enrolled at school. In 1933 only 17 per cent, of boys of this age were at school. By 1960 the number had risen to 32 per cent., almost double. The position in relation to girls was more or less similar. In 1933, 14 per cent, of girls of this age were at school; now the proportion is 25 per cent. The trend is upward all the time. More and more, industry and social attitudes and aspirations demand that our children at least complete a secondary school education. In fact, many of them are going on to undertake tertiary education. This is a qualitative change as well as a quantitative change. It demands more specialized, full-trained teachers, and more adequately equipped classrooms. That is where the impact is felt.
The Prime Minister last year directed attention to the fact that in the mid-1960’s we would be reaching the peak in relation to the post-war accentuation of births, but the fact remains that even if we do reach a peak by 1965 and the numbers begin to level off, children are staying on longer at school and need to be taught in smaller classes than has hitherto been the case. The Victorian Secondary Teachers Union has stated that in 1958 there was an increase of 1,307 youngsters studying for the intermediate certificate. This year, four years later, it is expected that there will be an increase of 4,523 - that is, a three-fold increase - in the numbers enrolled for this purpose. We have this problem not only in secondary education but, unfortunately, also in all other spheres of education. Technical education, too, is feeling the brunt. I referred a little while ago to the apprenticeship intake. It is lamentable that we are not getting more people to undertake technical education. Many of our good students, not able to get a university degree, are turning to technical colleges in order to try to get professional qualifications. Some States, including New South Wales, no longer have professional diploma courses. Students are being turned away from universities. In the first place, quotas are stopping them from getting enrolment and, in the second place, naturally enough, the insistence on being successful at the university is driving out many of those who have enrolled. There are in our technical colleges people whose talents are being wasted. They are being put on to trade or certificate courses. Forty per cent, of the students in engineering certificate courses at the Sydney Technical College are matriculants. They are not being taught at the level with which they are prepared to cope. My earnest hope is that the inquiry into tertiary education going on at this moment will recommend that much more generous Commonwealth assistance be made available to institutions for tertiary education in addition to university training.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to speak at great length or to reiterate the arguments that have been put forward by other honorable members on the subject of education. I should like merely to say that the picture painted by various members of the condition of education in Australia and of the States’ attempts to deal with the situation is, in my opinion, an accurate picture.
Having said that, I should like to refer to certain implications of the remarks of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney). In his reference to the statistics that have been quoted, he put his finger upon one of the most difficult problems associated with the citation within this chamber of statistics affecting other countries and, indeed, parts of our own country. The honorable member referred to the differing amounts per head spent on education, and cited the United Kingdom figures. I should like to know whether those figures include only the imperial grants or whether they include also the whole of the money that is spent by local authorities. I discovered years ago the pitfalls involved in quoting sets of figures. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) quoted the remarks of the Premiers on the subject of education within their States. He said they had a high sense of responsibility in respect of the problems with which they were faced. However, he stopped at one point, which was incidentally touched upon by the honorable member for Perth.
I agree that the picture that the honorable member for Phillip placed before us is accurate, but he referred only to students in the State public schools. He instanced the tremendous difficulty that the Premier of New South Wales, a former Minister of
Education, is facing in trying to find sufficient money for education. The honorable member for Perth mentioned that 25 per cent, of Australian children do not attend public schools. I have referred briefly to this matter before, but I will just pinpoint it again. All the money that New South Wales can acquire from the Commonwealth for education indirectly is spent upon the public schools. The Premier of New South Wales, and other Premiers, make the case that the amounts available are not sufficient, yet some 500,000 children - 25 per cent, of the children of Australia - are being educated outside that system. The cost in New South Wales of primary and secondary education is about £100 a head, so something like £50,000,000 has to be found by the parents of these other children. Among those 500,000 children are 320,000 Roman Catholic children - do not let us whisper it; let us tell the world - and there are 180,000 children in other independent schools.
The parents of those children are making their contributions to the inadequate grants given to the States, and they are, in addition, paying for the education of their own children. I believe that this is a scandalous state of affairs. I believe that it is an inequitable state of affairs. The fact, that a quarter of the children are being brought up in circumstances of such inequity could drive a wedge into the community and create bitterness that should not be permitted. I do not believe the independent schools should be given grants from the Government to the extent of £50,000,000, but I do believe they should be given bursary assistance and something to meet the cost of teaching. As the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) pointed out, if children are poorly taught in State schools an injustice will be created and there will be an economic loss. How much more does that apply to the 500,000 children 1 have mentioned? I have no time for those who raise secretarian issues on this topic of education. That is quite an unworthy approach. We must face this as an educational question. If, by reason of the fact of a burden unfairly carried, 500,000 children are not ,being educated to the standard that they should, there will be created an economic and social liability which we will regret.
I will not permit to go unchallenged the suggestion that this Government has failed to recognize this problem. The Government has tackled the problem of higher education to an extent never dreamt of before, but the weakness of democracies is to say, “ Look what we have done “, rather than, “ Look at what we have as an objective “ or, “ Look at what we ought to do “. There is too often a tendency to cloud over what ought to be done by magnifying that which has been done. Nevertheless, the record of this Government is good. The estimates for the Office of Education include £3,971,000 for various forms of education. Of that amount, £3,284,000 is for Commonwealth scholarships. In addition, the Government is finding over £3,000,000 for the Australian National University, and another £517,000 for the National Library of Australia. Make no mistake about it; that library is being built up so that it can be drawn upon by persons from every part of Australia. It will be of inestimable value to this country. I believe there should be a facing up to the implications of education for all children of the Commonwealth, and I believe, irrespective of what others may have said, that it should be done on the basis of a joint Commonwealth-State committee set up for that purpose. There are aspects of this problem which should be reviewed.
I shall conclude my remarks by referring briefly to something that was said by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) in the first part of his speech, when he referred to the implications of the European Common Market. Most of the things he said I found very acceptable. But I will not yield to the honorable member for Macarthur or anybody else in the feelings of loyalty and the deeper feelings I have for the Motherland, from which my own parents came. Therefore, what I am going to say must not be misunderstood. I make that clear first.
In effect, the honorable member said it did not matter if Great Britain went into the European Common Market provided a group of white nations went with her. That was the implication. I will not quote the honorable member’s actual words. I believe that statement is dreadfully wrong. I believe that one of the most unfortunate things that could happen in this world would be if the 700,000,000 people in the nations which cluster around the Commonwealth, less a small group to which he referred, should lose the leadership they have so far sought from Great Britain. That leadership must inevitably be lost to them if the United Kingdom becomes merged eventually into the European Economic Community.
I believe, quite differently from my honorable friend, that although these people have certain grudges against Great Britain and harbour perhaps some resentment, they do know that Russia is not to be trusted. Make no mistake, although they may trade with Russia to a certain extent, they do not want to fall into Russia’s hands. Those who have read the book by George Putmore the African native who had a certain amount of training in Moscow, know perfectly well from what he said that the Africans have no doubt of what Russia wants from them. That is not good and they do not want it. On the other hand, regrettably perhaps, they do regard the United States of America with a certain amount of suspicion. Therefore, the one country to which they can turn is that nation which gave them their first understanding of freedom and parliamentary government and above all a pretty solid civil service before bowing out and giving them independence. These are the things they value.
Let nobody sneer at the fact that perhaps some of them are mere dictatorships. Go back over our own history and see what has happened. We are the product of more than 1000 years of steady building up of a sense of political responsibility and an appreciation of the proper relation of man and his individual rights in the community particularly as they are expressed through parliaments. Be more generous in your judgments of those who are striving to adapt the British system that has been left to them to their circumstances of political immaturity.
Let me conclude by saying that I notice that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund on 19th September said this -
Will there be reasonable opportunities of access to this enlarged Common Market? Will (his vast
Economic Community pursue onward looking policies at the expense of others outside, or can we reasonably hope that the enlarged community will conduct itself as ushering in a more liberal trading system for the world?
I raise that question for this reason: We are slowly learning in Australia that you cannot have depressed agriculture and yet have a continuously prosperous and stable secondary and commercial community. These! things must be in balance. The point that the Treasurer raised in his speech was this: Will the strong European Economic Community try to learn that lesson at our expense or is it sufficiently advanced to realize that only for a time could it exploit other countries outside and hope to prosper? Only for a short time can you put off the day when those who have not the wealth to purchase cannot buy, and your market fails and your economic strength weakens because others cannot purchase. That is the lesson we have slowly learned here.
– Order The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It seems that the learned member for New England (Mr. Drummond), despite all his experience of education, is in a confused state of mind. He does not know exactly what has been spent on education. He should know that the sum of £184,000,000, which is approximately 2.3 per cent, of the gross national product, is the expenditure on all forms of education throughout Australia. The honorable member said there was a depressed section of 25 per cent, that might spend a fictitious amount of, say, £50,000,000. For the benefit of the honorable member I shall cite some figures relating to education in Queensland, a State that is governed by the same political party that he supports. I shall show the honorable member what a depressed educational group it is.
Of the £184,000,000 that is being spent this year, New South Wales is spending 306s. per capita. In educationallydepressed Queensland, which is controlled by the Country Party, only 228s. a head of population is being spent on education. One could go further and cite the training of teachers. New South Wales is not spending as much as Victoria which is spending 26s. 6d. a head, but the Country
Party Government in Queensland is spending only 6s. 7d. a head. I have not conjured these figures out of the air. I have obtained them from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. They are official figures. New South Wales is spending 76s. a head on secondary schools compared with 37s. in Queensland On library services, New South Wales is spending 12s. a head compared with 3s. 5d. in Queensland.
I do not want to play off one section of the community against another. I believe that the problems of education must be solved in the Commonwealth Parliament. They cannot be solved anywhere else. We members of the Australian Labour Party believe that a grant should be made to the States for education so that more scholarships can be provided for school children no matter where they go to school. We believe that more generous scholarships should be provided. Emergency grants should be made so that more buildings can be turned into State schools and accommodation provided for training teachers. In my own State, New South Wales, 1,300 primary school classrooms are necessary to bring school accommodation up to standard. We need 1,500 more classrooms to replace unsatisfactory accommodation and to make provision for the admission of children who have reached five years of age to kindergartens and infant schools. We need more than 600 classrooms in secondary schools.
This is the price of education. It is necessary not only to make emergency grants. As the Deputy Leader (Mr. Whitlam) said in his speech in the Budget debate, immediate grants should be made to assist in providing buildings for State schools. This would help to provide employment for unemployed building workers throughout Australia. It is very necessary to make these grants to the States for education, so that they can get on with their work. I want to see this happen.
I am a member of the Australian Labour Party’s education committee. We have travelled all over Australia. I want to say this about the Menzies Government: I commend it for the schools that it has provided in Canberra, and it is my hope that all State schools throughout Australia will be raised, to the standard of those in Canberra. That is our goal. We also want to see more scholarships made available, and to have the scholarships made more generous.
There are many weaknesses in the present educational structure in New South Wales. It is estimated by the parents and citizens associations in that State that 7,000 teachers are needed to bring the teaching staff in New South Wales up to full strength. Only 46 per cent, of teachers in secondary schools in New South Wales are qualified. A short while ago the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) gave figures regarding secondary schools which showed that about the same proportion of teachers are qualified in Victoria. Fewer than 50 per cent, of all maths teachers in secondary schools in New South Wales are qualified to teach maths. Only 37 per cent, of all science teachers in secondary schools are qualified. Just imagine it! In this day and age, 63 per cent, of science teachers in secondary schools in New South Wales are not qualified to teach science to their pupils. In this atomic age, in this age of great scientific development, in this age of the sputnik, 63 per cent, of high school teachers in New South Wales are not qualified to teach science.
Why are they unqualified? The truth is that there is a crisis in education. It exists not only in New South Wales; it exists in every State. I do not want to be parochial in regard to this matter; I want to talk as an Australian in this National Parliament, because I believe that in this Parliament we have the power to solve the problem. We have here a challenge to this Government and to every man sitting opposite, and particularly to the Leader of the Government, because I remember that a few years ago, after a long period of agitation, he agreed to the appointment of the Murray committee. I heard him say later in an interview that he believed it was the greatest thing he had done in his twelve years of office as Prime Minister.
But let us examine this matter of the universities. I am reminded of a tree, on which the leaves at the top are nice and glossy. On examination, however, one finds that the roots, the trunk and the branches are beginning to wither. Yet we hear some one saying, “ This is a lovely tree. We will not do anything to it, we will not apply any insecticide, because it is so green and beautiful.” Therefore nothing is done to it and it just withers away. We must ensure that this does not happen to our tree. We must ensure that the roots, the trunk and the limbs are healthy. That is why the Labour Party has suggested for several years that there should be an inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education.
At the Premiers’ Conference on 16th February, 1962, Mr. Heffron, the Premier of New South Wales, said this to the Prime Minister -
That statement was designed to provide a factual assessment of the needs of primary, secondary and technical education, because of the shortage of school buildings, teachers and equipment. Its preparation arose out of a realization by the Ministers for Education that the task of providing adequately for the everexpanding needs of education is obviously beyond the financial capacity of the States,* and that the stage had been reached where the problem must be looked upon as a national problem . . .
With the support of the other Premiers, I asked at that meeting that the Commonwealth Government reconsider its past attitude and accept the principle of assisting the States in the field of primary, secondary and technical education.
That is a frank statement by the Premier of New South Wales.
– The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) said he did not make that statement.
– The honorable member for Perth lives in the paradise of Western Australia, and he forgets that there are parts of Australia in which these struggles are going on. The Premier of New South Wales made these statements. This problem must come back to the National Parliament.
The honorable member for Perth was concerned about Unesco figures that have been quoted, comparing the proportions of gross national product spent on education in various countries. Let me again mention these figures. In the United States of America 4.6 per cent, of the gross national product is spent on education. In Great Britain the figure is 4 per cent., in Canada 4.5 per cent., in Norway 6 per cent., in the
Soviet Union more than 7 per cent., and in Australia only 2.2 per cent. Honorable members opposite like to bring out the red bogey in relation to many issues. Let me refer to an article that appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 27th September, 1960. It mentioned the statement made by Premier Khrushchev when he attended the rowdy meeting of the United Nations in 1960. He was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter who said to him, “ How can you claim that by 1970 your standard of living will be equal to ours, if not superior to it, when last year in the Soviet Union you produced only 30,000 motor cars, while we in the United States of America produced 7,000,000 motor cars? “ Mr. Khrushchev replied, “ We could do it to-morrow, but it means freezing our capital. You go ahead and do all those foolish things. It is for our benefit.” He then said, “We graduate three times as many engineers and scientists as you do, and whoever has the knowledge has the future at his feet “. That was not a boast, but a challenge.
I believe the challenge to-day centres around the issues of priorities, and one of the main matters concerning the issue of priority is that of education. As the honorable member for Barton said, the priority of education should be raised in our community. I believe that we should lift teachers to a higher status. They have a mission to perform. We must instil knowledge in our young people, so that we can use that knowledge for the benefit of the world, for world peace and for the assistance not only of the people of Australia but also of the people in the under-developed countries north of us. We have a mission, and we should be providing more and more the youth of Australia.
Many people ask where the money will come from. I believe there should be a redistribution of wealth within Australia. I say advisedly that if it is necessary to increase taxation in order to improve education, then we should increase taxation so that we may have better education for the youth of Australia.
House adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following information: -
Small craft of less than 1,500 cubic feet for which the Minister for Shipping and Transport gave general approval on 9th March, 1960, are not included.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. It is not considered to be in the public interest to disclose precise information as to Army holdings of weapons and equipment, or their vintage.
b asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Will he make available wireless and television licences to war widows at reduced rates similar to those which apply to age pensioners?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Extension of concessional rates for radio and television licences to war widows is one of the very many requests from particular organizations and individuals which, of their nature, are most appropriately considered by the Government in framing its general budget proposals. In considering these requests the Government necessarily allocates priorities in the light of its responsibility to all sections of the community, and its overall commitments and resources. Against this background, it has been decided not to extend the reduced rate radio and television licence concession to war widows generally.
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What is the average maintenance cost per occupied bed in repatriation hospitals in each State?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The average daily costs per occupied bed in Repatriation General Hospitals in each State for the year ended 30th June, 1962, are as follows: -
g asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
Following the cyclone in February, 1961, some £11,000 was expended on the reconditioning and improving of the aerodrome surface at Wittenoom Gorge. A further £1,000 is being expended at the present time on drainage and flood protection work. At the moment, there is no proposal for the sealing of the runway which is handling the Fokker Friendship traffic quite satisfactorily. My department keeps a close watch on unsealed runways such as that at Wittenoom Gorge so that sealing of the pavement surface can be put in hand when the aircraft traffic requires it. Kununurra is a licenses aerodrome under the control of the State Public Works Department. It is known that the Public Works Department has considered sealing of the runway but I am not aware of any firm proposals in this regard.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Has it been the practice since the Government took office in 1949 to reject an application for a certificate of naturalization by an overseas settler who is residentially qualified on any one of the following grounds: (a) membership of the Communist Party, (b) former membership of the Communist Party, (c) suspicion of being a member of the_Communist Party, or (d) suspicion of having Communist sympathies? Do officers of the Department of Immigration make their own independent inquiries in connexion with these applications or does the information on which such decisions are based emanate from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
It has been the practice since 1949 when considering applications for naturalization to take into account an applicant’s membership of, or association with, the Communist Party or other communist activities, although applications for naturalization are not necessarily rejected on all of the grounds mentioned. However, if an applicant’s activities are such that he is not considered suitable for Australian citizenship, then citizenship has been and will continue to be refused. Inquiries are made by officers of the Department of Immigration into all aspects of applications for naturalization. In matters of security, considerable reliance is placed on the reports of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. In all cases of difficulty or doubt the final decision is made by me personally.
m asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
During the calendar year 1961, Australia also received as assisted migrants a total of 1,406 refugees. The majority of these refugees were selected in Austria and Italy and are not included in the figures shown in the above table.
The balance was subscribed by migrants and/or their sponsors and from other sources. According to latest estimates, the percentage of the Committee’s revenues that will be contributed by Member Governments in respect of the Committee’s Operational Budget for its European programme for the calendar year 1962 is as follows: -
e asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
How many migrants of all nationalities were accommodated in hostels or camps at the 30th June, 1962?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Migrant workers who are selected under the European assisted passage schemes and brought to Australia under Commonwealth auspices, and who have not arranged other accommodation, are housed at the Bonegilla reception centre with their families, pending their initial placement in employment. They then move to one of the migrant accommodation centres maintained by the Department of Immigration where they are housed until such time as private arrangements can be made. British migrants in similar circumstances are accommodated in Commonwealth hostels maintained and operated by the Department of Labour and National Service. At 30th June, 1962, the numbers of persons accommodated in migrant accommodation centres, and Commonwealth hostels was as follows: -
Migrant centres - 2,661 (including 872 staff and dependants).
Commonwealth hostels - 18,383 (including 701 staff and dependants).
i asked the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
As at 31st August, 1962-
Vice-Admiral, 1; Rear-Admiral, 7; Captain, 56; Commander, 142; LieutenantCommander, 261; Lieutenant, 519; SubLieutenant, 142.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What (a) direct, and (b) indirect taxation is paid per head of the population in Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The estimated taxation paid per head of population in Australia in 1961-62, based on estimates contained in the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure 1961-62, was -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
How much in Australian money was remitted overseas by migrants to relatives and the like during the year ended on 30th June, 1962?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Details of remittances from Australia by by migrants are not available. However, the Commonwealth Statistician’s publication, “The Australian Balance of Payments 1957-58 to 1961-62” shows that total personal donations remitted overseas during the year ended 30th June, 1962, are estimated at £13,900,000. A large proportion of this amount is thought to represent remittances by migrants.
Australian distributors and representatives of overseas suppliers amounted to £4,463,000 in 1961-62, but I am not able to advise the honorable member of the total cost of all imported films actually exhibited during the year ended on 30th June, 1962. The films which were purchased in 1961-62 would not necessarily have been exhibited on television in that year. Films actually exhibited during 1961-62 would presumably have included some purchased in the previous year.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What was the total cost of all imported films exhibited by commercial and national television stations during the year ended on 30th June, 1962?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I am informed that overseas exchange expended on films by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, commercial television stations and
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 2. There has been a substantial increase in the numbers of applications received both for initial loans and additional loans since the Government’s announcement on 7th February, 1962, of its intention to increase the maximum loan for all classes of assistance under the War Service Homes Act, to £3,500. There is, however, always a substantial proportion of applicants who are unable to establish eligibility for assistance under the act or who do not proceed with their applications for various reasons. Normally approximately 40 per cent, of applicants for loans do not proceed with their proposal. Many of the applicants who have lodged applications since the increase in the maximum loan was announced in February, 1962, have indicated that they do not propose to proceed with their proposals. Other applications have been refused because the applicant was unable to meet the eligibility requirements or for other reasons. Many applications have not been finally dealt with. It is difficult in such circumstances to furnish the honorable member with the information he requests. The position, however, is being analysed as at 30th June, 1962, for the purposes of the Annual Report of the Director of War Service Homes which will be presented to Parliament as soon as is practicable.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
In view of the length of time which has elapsed since the cessation of hostilities, will the Minister give consideration to amending the War Service Homes Act to allow all ex-service personnel, irrespective of whether they served overseas or not, to receive the benefits of the act?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
The War Service Homes Act was placed on the statute-book to help ex-servicemen who enlisted specifically for overseas service, or who actually served overseas. Large numbers of applications are still being received from exservicemen eligible under the existing provisions of the act. Until this demand is met it would not be equitable to extend the provisions of the act.
g asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 to 4. I have seen maps showing areas of operation of Japanese tuna fishermen. In considering this matter it is necessary to keep in mind that fishing on the high seas is open to the nationals of all countries and may be regulated only by international agreement. Australia claims, and recognizes, exclusive fishing rights only within the 3-mile limit of territorial waters. The distance across the opening of the Gulf of Carpentaria is more than 350 miles and the waters of the gulf have never been regarded as being wholly territorial. I am aware that a problem arose earlier this year between the United States and Japan regarding fishing in waters near Alaska. The question, as I understand, is whether particular waters in Shelikof Strait are territorial waters and, on that footing, within the exclusive fisheries jurisdiction of the United States. The question is one for the two countries concerned, and in any case I do not think that it affects the matters on which information has been sought in regard to Japanese fishing near Australia.
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621002_reps_24_hor36/>.