24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. LINDSAY presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that the Government remove section 127, and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51, of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
– I regret that the Prime Minister is not able to be here to-day. In his absence, I address my question to the Deputy Prime Minister. I ask: Has the Government protested to the Indonesian Government about the burning of the British Embassy building and the burning and looting of the homes of British Embassy staff in Djakarta yesterday? What precautions have been taken by the Indonesian authorities to protect the Australian Embassy and the lives and property of Australian diplomats and staff and their families? Furthermore, as yesterday’s disgraceful scenes in Djakarta have arisen over the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, does the Australian Government believe that the attitude of Indonesia towards Malaysia represents a threat to peace? If so, will the Government consider referring the matter to the United Nations, which is the forum and tribunal that Indonesia itself chose to assess the situation in North Borneo during the last few weeks?
– The Prime Minister is slightly indisposed to-day, but he will resume his normal engagements to-morrow. Obviously, I cannot be completely abreast of all the communications that may have been received and despatched. I would say, in the first place, that knowledge that the United Kingdom Government has lodged a protest against the incidents in Djakarta is public property. As of this moment, the Australian Government has not joined with the British Government in a protest against an incident directed at British property and British ‘persons. This Government has been in immediate communication, along appropriate lines, with our own ambassador in Djakarta, seeking further information from him and tendering appropriate advice and instruction to him. The head of the Department of External Affairs has requested the Indonesian ambassador to call on him to-day, and we can assume that normal diplomatic discussions and representations will take place.
As to what may be done about the incident generally, which, of course, has arisen from the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, the Australian Government’s attitude to the formation of that federation has been clearly stated to the Australian people and the Australian Parliament, to the Government of Malaysia and to the Government of Indonesia as well as to the Government of the Philippines. As to whether the whole incident may be referred to the United Nations, I would not expect Australia to take the initiative or to take unilateral action in this regard. This is an incident in our part of the world and we are profoundly concerned although we are not actually a principal participant. The House and the Australian people can take it that the Australian Government regards this situation very seriously. We will be in the closest consultation with our friends, our allies and with all others who wish to preserve peace in the world.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, who is responsible for the activities of the War Service Homes Division, by stating that it relates to eligibility for war service homes. I have received advice from the wife of a serviceman who is living with her husband in Penang to the effect that grave discontent exists amongst the troops in that area following action apparently taken by the Government in May last to limit the areas in Malaya in which service will qualify for repatriation benefits, including finance for a war service home. Will the Minister state the nature of these restrictions? Why were they not brought before the Parliament? Will he request the responsible Minister in another place to review the position immediately, particularly in view of current conditions in Malaysia?
– I have discussed this matter with the Minister for National Development. He regrets that he is not able to inform the honorable member of the present position without having information about the service of the applicants concerned. I have asked the Minister to treat the question as having been placed on the notice-paper and to reply to the honorable member direct.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to the fact that as an inevitable result of the reckless and provocative imposition of penalties upon trade unions, and the general policy of confrontation which has been adopted by the Government and employers towards trade unions, the trade unions now propose to adopt the only policy left open to them if their members are to remain free men? In the interests of the community will the Government reconsider this stupid policy of confrontation before it is too late?
– I think it would be wise to forego comment on the resolutions passed yesterday relating to the penal sections of the various arbitration acts until the whole of the amendments made are known. I can state to the House that a significant variation was proposed to the resolution presented by the executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, but it is still recognized by the unions that before strike action is taken which will affect other unions the union concerned has a fundamental responsibility to refer the matter to the A.C.T.U. The substance of the change is that in exceptional circumstances the union concerned, without consultation with the A.C.T.U., may have to take action, but subsequently the matter must be referred to the A.C.T.U. or the appropriate trades and labour council. Nothing is to prevent the A.C.T.U. or the trades and labour council from calling the parties together subsequently. There has been a change. I am sure that the Government will consider, these resolutions in toto as soon as it receives them. However, for the present I think it would be wise to forego comment because, frankly, few people in this House can know what the resolutions will add up to.
– I address my question to the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that Russia claims as her citizens Australian-born children of Russian migrants in cases where such migrants have become naturalized Australians without consent from Russia? Is it a fact also that Poland makes a similar claim on migrants who left their homeland after 9th May, 1945? Has this complexity of citizenship been examined by the Department of Immigration? If so, what is the Government’s attitude to the claim of the Russian and Polish Governments?
– The honorable gentleman has asked rather a difficult question. It involves some quite complex matters of law. Frankly, I am not in a position to answer it precisely at this stage. 1 shall certainly have inquiries made to ascertain the actual situation. If my honorable friend would care to put his question on the notice-paper, matters may be advanced. In any case, I shall see that the honorable member has a very early reply to his question.
On the matter generally that the honorable gentleman has raised, I think I should take the opportunity to say that the ambit of our Nationality and Citizenship Act does not in every sense possess extraterritoriality. The mere fact that an alien decides to assume Australian citizenship, as we all hope he will, does not of itself provide a compulsion in the minds of the government of his former country to admit his new nationality. So we have quite a number of cases of what might be called dual nationality - settlers here who have become Australians and whose countries of origin still regard them as possessing their original nationality. As I think the honorable gentleman and the House will realize, this is something in respect of which internationally we can only bring a persuasive influence to bear. We cannot force the governments of other countries automatically to accept the new status of their former citizens. .>’.’
– I ask the Acting Attorney-General a question without notice. The honorable gentleman will know that last Thursday night at the annual dinner of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales the Prime Minister said that the submissions put to a Cabinet committee on the preceding Monday by the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council were, and I quote his words, “ the most balanced, sensible and impressive ideas “ that he had heard on the proposed restrictive trading practices legislation. In view of the importance of those submissions, will the Prime Minister make available a summary or, if possible, the complete details of them so that honorable members and the general public also may have the benefit of comparing them with the scheme outlined by the Minister on behalf of the Attorney-General last December and later amplified in papers and speeches circulated and made by the Attorney-General.
– I will consider the request of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition but I remind him that at the time I read in the House the proposals of the Attorney-General I stated that the Government was inviting suggestions and comments on them from the Australian community. Although the Prime Minister a few days ago commented on the proposals submitted by the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council, I point out that many suggestions, comments and proposals have been made to the Attorney-General, at his invitation, and they also are being taken into consideration. I do not think it would be right to table only those suggestions which have come from one quarter until the Government has had an opportunity to consider all of the proposals that are currently under examination.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I ask: Is the right honorable gentleman aware of the widespread sincere appreciation of the Government’s action in abolishing sales tax on foodstuffs-
– Order! Is the honorable member seeking information? * >
– Yes, Sir.
– Comment will be out of order. The honorable member may proceed.
– Does the Treasurer know that the abolition of this tax has had its effect even in the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms where toasted raisin bread is now available?
– I am delighted to hear it. I am very fond of toasted raisin bread.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the recent irregularity of shipping in northern Tasmanian ports, with a consequent bank-up of cargo and the need for shippers to transfer this cargo to other ports, thereby causing inconvenience and extra costs, will the Minister have immediate investigations made of the possibility of the Australian National Line vessel “ South Esk “ being placed on a regular weekly service between the three ports of Melbourne, Stanley and Burnie?
– I certainly will look into this matter. The Australian National Line is keeping a very close watch on shipping in Tasmania and I think honorable members will admit that it has been giving excellent service. I was unaware of the bank-up to which the honorable member referred, but I will certainly get in touch with the Australian National Line this afternoon to ascertain whether there is any way in which this congestion can be cleared up without any great loss to the line.
I emphasize that the Australian National Line must be run in a businesslike manner, and to interfere too much with its schedules in such a way as would create a loss would be to depart from the charter laid down for the line. As the Australian National Line has demonstrated on previous occasions, it is always ready to do its best to maintain a good shipping service for Tasmania.
– In view of the recent announcement that the ‘new unit of decimal currency will be named the Australian dollar, I ask the Treasurer whether he can indicate the precise form the new symbol will take.
– The Government has already given some consideration to this problem which, of course, is not an unimportant one. There is something to be said for having a symbol which at least will be distinctively Australian, but in order to do this, some alteration would need to be made in existing equipment such as typewriters, cash registers, linotype machines and the like. In the interests of simplicity, we think it desirable to retain the use of the normal dollar symbol which applies in the United States of America, Canada and other countries with dollar currencies.
However, just as we find it necessary, in order to distinguish the Australian pound from other pounds by inserting the letter “ A “ after the symbol of the pound, there will be circumstances in which it will be desirable to insert the letter “ A “ after the dollar symbol. I would not think that this need apply in most cases inside Australia itself any more than we use the letter “ A “ after the symbol for the pound at the present time. Even in the United States of America, the dollar symbol frequently appears with “ U.S.” after it and there may bc circumstances here where, in order to make it evident that you are dealing in an Australian value rather than the dollar value of some other country, it might be expedient to use the letter “ A “. What I have in mind is to invite the attention of the Decimal Currency Board to this matter to see if a set of recommendations can be evolved for the guidance of business houses and commercial operations. I think it will bc useful if, in the meantime, those interested in the matter can be assured that no symbol will be adopted which will require an alteration of their existing equipment.
– I ask the
Treasurer whether any examination has been made of the operations of Encyclopaedia Britannica of Australia Proprietary Limited, a company which is exploiting the Australian money market to remit heavy profits to overseas shareholders. Is it a fact that on a paid-up capital of only £2, held by nominees of the parent com pany, this company made a net profit of £172,000 for its financial year? Has the company, subsequent to the publication of its balance-sheet and with a view to avoiding public scrutiny and the provisions of the Companies Act, recently converted itself into a branch of the United Slates parent company? Does this move mean that the results of the company’s Australian operations need no longer be filed with the Registrar of Companies and the public will no longer be aware of its profits?
– The honorable gentleman apparently has been put in possession of a good deal of information. He is much better informed at present than I can claim to be on the affairs of this company. I do not think that any of us would claim to be informed, or even seek to be informed, on the details of the operations of the thousands of companies in Australia. When a matter of particular concern or interest arises, naturally we inform ourselves about it as best we can if it falls within the proper range of governmental attention.
– This has been in the newspapers.
– I do not even read the “ Tribune “. I miss a lot that way, but sometimes the honorable gentleman is able to inform me of what appears there. There are, of course, overseas investors in companies in Australia who profit to their advantage and generally also to Australia’s advantage. There are other overseas investors who invest their funds in this country with by no means such favorable results. I do not often hear the Opposition talking about those people. I shall examine the text of the honorable gentleman’s question. If I feel that this matter calls in any way for action by the Commonwealth Government, I shall see that proper consideration is given to it.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that, as things stand, many wool-growers have not and almost certainly will not receive a copy of the Australian Wool Board’s case for an increase in the wool promotion levy? In view of the undoubted interest of this Parliament, as the body which eventually will have to translate into legislation whatever the wool industry decides, will the Minister discuss with the Wool Board the possibility of posting copies of its case to all wool-growers so that there can be no doubt that the case is in their possession?
– I think it desirable that as much information as possible shall be made available to all wool-growers. The action of the Australian Wool Board in sending its chairman from one end of Australia to the other to explain the board’s case is commendable in every way. However, the suggestion made by the honorable member is worthy of consideration because the chairman of the board cannot possibly contact every wool-grower and I suppose that all wool-growers do not make an effort to attend meetings where they might receive information on this subject. The honorable member’s suggestion that I discuss the matter with the Wool Board to see whether further information can be made available to wool-growers by circulars or other means is worthy of consideration. I will certainly discuss it with the board.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it correct that he intends to introduce legislation during the present sessional period for the suspension of the penalty provision in the Stevedoring Industry Act providing for loss of attendance money? If this is so, will the Minister give an instruction to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority that in the meantime it should not invoke that provision to penalize men in the industry?
– I thought I had made it clear to the House that I could not instruct the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority that it was not to use section 52a of the Stevedoring Industry Act. There is no power vested in the Minister to do that. At the conference that was held between the authority, the Waterside Workers Federation and other interests concerned in running the waterfront, the authority agreed that it would not act under section 52a but would act under section 36 whenever that was practicable. That has been confirmed as late as this morning. The authority is doing that.
The honorable gentleman, in the first part of his question, asked whether the operation of section 52a of the Stevedoring Industry Act, which deals with port stoppages is to be suspended. The answer is, “Yes”. I hope to be able next week to give notice of the intention to introduce a short bill. As soon as that has been done, I will let the Leader of the Opposition have a copy of it.
– My question to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade is prompted by a question about the training of agents to go overseas and extend the Trade Commissioner Service, which was put to the right honorable gentleman in the House yesterday, and his answer thereto. I ask him whether he has noticed a criticism that has been offered by an experienced person on his return from the east to the effect that much of the good work done by our officers - presumably the junior officers in terms of service - is undone by a lack of knowledge of the courtesies and other requirements in dealing with eastern peoples. May I add that that criticism is supplemented by information that I have to the effect that one of our disabilities is the lack of a knowledge of the languages of the eastern peoples, whereas our opponents from behind the iron curtain overcome that disability by sending to countries people trained in the languages as well as in the practices of commerce of those countries. Has the right honorable gentleman noted criticisms of that kind? If he has, in the training college that he has wisely set up are steps being taken to see that the people who are sent abroad understand the courtesies and, as far as possible, the languages of the countries to which they are sent?
– I say immediately that I have no knowledge of any complaints that any of the officers of the Trade Commissioner Service are lacking in courtesy. Discourtesy is not a national quality. I am confident that the persons who are appointed to the Trade Commissioner Service have a basic comprehension of what comprises courtesy and apply it in practice. It is true that, in the nature of things, Australians often will not be able to speak the languages of foreign countries or will not have a profound knowledge of the customs of foreign countries. In order to overcome that difficulty, it is the practice of the Government and the Department of Trade to endeavour to see that officers are trained as well as they possibly can be in the customs and practices - commercial and otherwise - of the countries to which they are to be posted. We clearly recognize the fact that it is a real disability not to have trade commissioners who can speak the languages of the countries to which they are posted. The Department of Trade has a practice, which has been operating for some time, in the first place of endeavouring to recruit persons who can speak a number of languages or particular languages, and in the second place, of specially engaging its trainee and more mature trade commissioners in a study of and tuition in foreign languages so that they may be more effective.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Australian Meat Board have any prior knowledge or expectation of the recent increase in shipping charges for meat sent to the United States of America? Will the Increase in freight rates apply also to New Zealand’s export trade to the United States, which is serviced largely by the same shipping companies operating over roughly the same distance? If freight rates to the United States from New Zealand have not been increased, why has Australia been discriminated against in this way?
– I do not think the Australian Meat Board had any prior knowledge of this increase or any information that was not available to other commercial interests. The freight increases have not yet taken effect. They are due to commence on 1st November next. The Australian Meat Board has taken all the action it could take. Under the Meat Export Control Act, it has power to control contracts for the shipment of meat to overseas destinations, either directly or by con ditions imposed by the board. Following the recent unilateral decision by a number of shipping lines to increase freight rates for meat to North America by 10.7 per cent, as from 1st November, 1963, the board has considered it desirable to impose conditions with a view to surveying contracts relating to the shipment of meat to overseas destinations. The announced increase in the freight rates to North America could cost the meat industry over £1,000,000 a year. The board believes it has a responsibility to the meat industry to ensure as far as possible that this increase can be justified. The board’s decision has been welcomed, I am sure, by all sections of the meat industry. The board referred the matter to me and asked whether I had any objection to it using its powers to control contracts. I said: “No, I have no objection at all. Go ahead.
– I address my question to the Minister for Air. What aircraft has his department in mind to replace the aircraft at present in use by No. 34 Squadron, the transport squadron? I say by way of explanation that I am led to believe that there will be a rather critical spare parts problem, if not in the immediate future, certainly within the next twelve months or two years.
– At the present moment, the Government is not considering the replacement of its Convair Metropolitan aircraft, but it is considering the replacement of the three V.I.P. Dakota aircraft. These aircraft, as honorable members know-
– Were ordered by the first Menzies Government.
– If they were not ordered by the first Menzies Government, at least they have been in service with the Royal Australian Air Force for a considerable period. They were sent to the V.I.P. flight in 1946, when it was first set up, so they have had at least seventeen years’ operation there. The Dakota was designed about 30 years ago, and it leaves something to be desired in performance. We have been looking at a small twin-jet high-speed executive aircraft made by the De Havilland company and known as the D.H. 125. Ono of these aircraft has been ordered by the Department of Civil Aviation for testing airradio beacons. During a recent tour overseas, the Chief of the Air Staff and his evaluation team had a look at this aircraft. One or two problems need to be solved before we can place an order for it. One is that the noise level in the cabin is exceptionally high. At the present moment, modifications are being undertaken with a view to reducing the noise level and I understand the aircraft is due to fly again with these modifications in about three weeks’ time. If it proves satisfactory, we will place an order for a number of these aircraft to replace the Dakotas in the V.I.P. flight. We hope to have delivery of the aircraft in, I think, January, 1965. They are very cheap compared with any jet aircraft flying now. In fact, they are by far the cheapest jets available.
Landlord and Tenant Ordinance
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Does he recall that when the present Government amended the Landlord and Tenant Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory in 1956, removing from the ordinance all protections for the tenants of business premises, the then Minister for the Interior gave an assurance that if the lack of such protections was found to bear harshly on individual shopkeepers consideration would be given to their re-introduction into the ordinance? Does the Minister know that at present a number of individual shopkeepers in Canberra are under short notice of eviction from premises they have occupied for years and in which they have established successful businesses, without opportunity for disposal of stock, without opportunity to realize on their equipment and, in fact, without any possibility of compensation of any kind? Will the Minister investigate the position, and will he then consider whether amendment of the Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, to provide at least some protection for the tenants of business premises, is warranted?
– I did not know of this matter which the honorable member has asserted to be a fact. I will make some inquiries. I would remind the honorable member that a contract of tenancy is an arrangement between two people, and that when entering into it most prudent people take suitable precautions to provide protection for themselves.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation say when the new and necessary additions to the Repatriation General Hospital in Hobart will be officially opened and in use?
– It is expected that the work on the improvements and extensions to the Repatriation General Hospital in Hobart will be completed early next year. From information received from officials at Government House, Hobart, I believe that His Excellency the Governor of Tasmania will be happy to perform the opening ceremony, which I expect will take place next February.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that the Decimal Currency Board has recommended the use of a two-cent piece? Will the Treasurer tell the House what other countries using the decimal system have two-cent pieces in circulation? Does he agree that there is absolutely no need for introducing additional coins if there is no real use for them?
– I will be glad to supply a list of the many countries using a decimal system that do have twocent pieces. The honorable gentleman can be assured that this matter has been very carefully considered. One of the problems when there is no coin between one-cent and five-cents is that people tend to accumulate a rather cumbersome collection of one-cent pieces. There is also a very serious minting problem. Indeed, when I supply the detailed statement that I spoke of yesterday, which I am sure will prove of considerable interest to the honorable member for Watson, there will be no doubt in the honorable member’s mind that the wiser course is now being adopted. I can assure him that the matter has been carefully considered and the use of a two-cent piece has been strongly recommended, having in mind the experience of other countries using the decimal currency system.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. I ask: Is the date announced by the Minister at which the new standard rate of pension for single pensioners will become payable the earliest possible date by which the officers of his department can complete the necessary adjustments to make the payment of the new rate practicable, or is the Minister, as has been stated by Opposition members, just holding up the payment of the new rates to save the Government money?
– I can assure the honorable member for Mallee and other honorable members that it was expected that the new standard rate of pension payable to single pensioners could not be paid until 28th November. But so enthusiastic has been the application of the officers of the Department of Social Services to the task of establishing eligibility that I was able to announce in this chamber on Tuesday that payment would be made on 14th November. Payment by the earlier date will involve the Treasury in an additional expenditure of £500,000, and represents a very proud achievement on the part of the department.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. Now that the proposed beef road from Wave Hill to Top Springs may be referred back to the Government by the Public Works Committee for further consideration of the route, and in view of the fact that the objective of the planning of the existing beef roads in the Northern Territory is to allow the transport of cattle out of the Territory to various States, and since export meat works have now commenced operation in Katherine and Darwin, will the Minister give the highest possible priority to the reconstruction and sealing of the road from Willeroo to Katherine so as to allow the speedy transport of cattle to Katherine and Darwin for killing and processing in the Territory?
– What may be termed the long-term policy in respect of the road from Willeroo to Katherine is under close examination by our expert advisers. In the meantime, the Northern Territory Administration is taking steps to bring the road immediately to the highest possible standard for traffic in the current season.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. By way of explanation, may I say that I hold in my hand a memorandum addressed by the Commonwealth Bank Officers Association to the managing director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. This memorandum represents the findings of the association regarding the earlier starling time of work introduced by the corporation. I appreciate that the Treasurer is reluctant to interfere in any way with what may reasonably be regarded as the domestic arrangements of the corporation, but I. ask him, in spite of that, whether he would be prepared to examine the representations made by the staff association with particular regard to the findings that it has presented to the corporation.
– I have received from various sections of the Parliament representations on this matter. The honorable member for Blaxland, writing on behalf of the Opposition, has requested me to receive a deputation to discuss the matter, and I have also received quite firm representations from honorable members on this side of the House. The Government’s view has been that this is a matter of domestic concern for the board and the management of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. The corporation, although I have raised the matter with it, has consistently taken the view that the arrangements made are reasonable and can work satisfactorily.
In view of the repeated representations that I have received, I have recently asked that I be supplied with further information showing, among other things, the normal time at which the officers of the corporation cease work and whether, within the range of hours normally required, there is some flexibility under which they are allowed to leave bank premises when, for example, they have completed the ledger entries. 1 want to get a rather more detailed picture. However, I would take a good deal of persuading that it is a function of this Government to step in and interfere in a matter that, on the face of it, appears to be one of internal concern for the management of the corporation.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, the document which the Japanese Foreign Minister and I signed in Tokyo on 5th August is a very significant step in the development of our trading relations with Japan. The Protocol of Amendment, which was tabled in this House on 15th August, amends the Australia-Japan Trade Agreement signed in 1957. The protocol has resulted from long and detailed negotiations between the two Governments in which the whole of the trading relations between the two countries was examined.
The 1957 agreement was our first trade agreement with Japan. It sprang from the need at that time to bring normality to trade relations between Australia and a country which was becoming a very important market for Australian products. When negotiating this first agreement, it was clear that Australia required a special type of arrangement to guarantee fair and equitable access for Australian exports, particularly the products of our great export industries, whilst ensuring that Australia had freedom to take whatever action was necessary to protect her industries from excessive imports from Japan.
In the 1957 agreement, we received satisfactory assurances of access for our important exports into the Japanese market. We obtained an undertaking by Japan to exercise voluntary restraint of her exports, where necessary, to prevent damage to Australian industries. However, at that stage, there were real uncertainties as to the danger of Japanese competition - uncertainties arising from trading experiences during the 1930’s. For this reason, we wrote into the agreement a stipulation that, in addition to maintaining our full rights to protect Australian industry, we also reserved the right to discriminate, if necessary, against Japanese imports where this might be necessary to protect Australian industry. It was for this reason that we refused to disinvoke Article XXXV. of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and hence did not establish full Gatt relations with Japan. In respect of other countries with which Australia enjoys full Gatt relationship, there was and is a firm commitment that each country will not take any discriminatory action against imports from the other country.
The period since the 1957 agreement was signed was therefore a period of trial of these new arrangements. It was a period during which we could make an appreciation of the treatment our exports were receiving in Japan. It was a period in which we could examine whether Japanese exports, under these arrangements, would cause damage to Australian industry.
However, in the 1957 agreement, we undertook to study - without any commitment - the question of disinvoking article XXXV. to see if we could enter into full Gatt relations with Japan. The arrangements that were made in 1957 proved successful. Australian exports of wool to Japan have increased from 857,000 bales in 1956-57 to 1,307,000 bales in 1962-63. In 1956-57 we did not sell any f.a.q. wheat to Japan. Our sales last year were 339,000 tons. Sugar exports to Japan have increased from 52,000 tons to 298,000 tons. We exported 300,000 tons of coal to Japan in 1956-57, and in 1962-63 we exported 2,400,000 tons. These increases, as examples, were very much greater proportionately than the increase in our exports to the rest of the world. Since 1956-57 imports from Japan increased from £13,000,000 to £65,000,000. This was done without damage to Australian industry.
Against this background of experience the Government late last year entered into negotiations to review the existing arrangements. Now, six years after the signing of the original agreement, a protocol of amendment has been signed. Under this protocol it has been agreed that Australia and Japan will now extend to each other the full rights and privileges accorded to members of the Gatt. Neither country may discriminate against imports from the other country. This arrangement will become effective when the protocol has been ratified by the two Governments. Pending this action, both countries have agreed to apply the new agreement provisionally. There is nothing in the new agreement which limits the power of the Australian Government to protect Australian industry against imports from any country.
Honorable members will remember that in 1960 the Government strengthened the protective machinery available to manufacturers and others who may be concerned by legislating to provide for temporary protection. This has worked effectively and will continue to operate. In the new agreement the system of voluntary restraint of exports, exercised by the Japanese Government, will continue as it has since 1957. In line with this, the new agreement provides that where it appears necessary that urgent action should be taken to protect Australian industry, against imports of a commodity of which Japan is a significant supplier, the Australian Government will enter into consultations with the Japanese Government to see whether the position can be overcome, and the need for a temporary duty reference obviated by measures taken in Japan. The question of a formal commitment of this nature to any other country has not arisen because no other country has undertaken to exercise voluntary restraint so far as its exports to Australia are concerned. I repeat: Nothing in this agreement limits the right of the Australian Government to protect Australia’s industry against imports from any country.
The only difference between the present agreement, and the agreement signed in 1957, is that each country has undertaken not to take any discriminatory action against the other. If it is necessary to protect manufacturers against imports from Japan, the same action would apply to similar imports from all countries. However, this non-discrimination provision operates both ways, and Japan has also relinquished the right to discriminate against imports from Australia. In view of the level of exports to Japan from Australia this is of major importance, since if each country actively pursued policies of discrimination, Australia would have far more at risk than Japan.
The new agreement does not accord any tariff reductions or tariff bindings between the two countries. So far as access into
Japan for Australian products is concerned, the new agreement provides fair and equitable access for Australia’s important exports, with the exception of beef. In the case of wool, a concession has been obtained more meaningful than the temporary dutyfree binding which was negotiated in 1957. Because of the importance of wool within the Japanese economy, it is unlikely that the Japanese Government would impose a duty on this raw material. However, the Japanese system of controlling imports, enables that country to use such restrictive devices as prior deposits, import restrictions, foreign exchange restrictions and other administrative controls.
Japan has undertaken that none of these will be applied to imports of raw wool unless the same action is taken, at the same time, against imports of raw cotton. Cotton is a commodity which is of even greater importance to the Japanese economy. Exports of cotton goods represent a substantial part of Japanese export income. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine the erection of any obstruction to the import of raw cotton into Japan.
For this reason, this provision relating wool to cotton is a commitment very meaningful to the Australian wool industry. It ensures that our major export to Japan will not suffer from any non-tariff type of action, unless the same action is taken at the same time against cotton.
The protocol and accompanying papers indicate the other undertakings given by the Japanese Government in respect of Australian exports to Japan. They include a commitment that imports of Australian soft wheat will continue at a stabilized level.
– Just what does all that mean?
– It means that last year-
– It means nothing.
– -You said that last year about the provision in the British treaty relating to wheat. You took exactly the same line then and you were proved to be wrong.
– It is a case of balancing one against the other. It means not one thing; ‘: ‘ ‘: “v
– To continue, last year Japan imported over 330,000 tons of f.a.q. wheat from Australia. As I have already stated, the treaty has a commitment that imports of Australian soft wheat will continue at a stabilized level. This is an indication of what has been gained for the Australian wheat industry.
At the same time it has been agreed that the two countries will discuss the possibility of getting rid of the price differential in the Japanese internal trading system which could discriminate against imports of Australian soft wheat had we not received this present quantitative commitment. So far as other commodities of export interest to Australia are concerned, we are now assured of most favoured nation and nondiscriminatory access into Japan.
One of the reasons for the delay in completing the recent negotiations was due to the fact that the Japanese intended to liberalize their import policy. Because this has now been done, a number of important export items are not referred to in the agreement. For these items we now have unlimited opportunities to increase our exports depending only on our salesmanship and competitive position. This is the position, for example, in the case of mutton, lamb, dried fruits, most canned fruits, hides and skins.
In respect of those items which are not freely licensed Japan, in particular, has undertaken, in the words of the treaty, to made every effort to increase access for our sugar, leather, canned meats, butter and cheese.
– How nice of it!
– The honorable member should not reflect on the integrity of the Japanese Government. It has honoured with meticulous correctness every undertaking, contractual or implicit, in the last trade agreement, and I am sure that it will continue to do so.
– I hope so too!
– I believe that it will. The same undertaking applies to motor vehicles, for which the Australian manufacturers see prospects in Japan.
Japan has not imported barley during the last few years, but has undertaken , to give Australia non-discriminatory treatment when barley is being imported.
Our exports of ores and minerals to Japan have increased substantially and very satisfactorily during the last few years, and, under this arrangement, Australia is recognized as a supplier of ores and minerals. There is included a provision against the imposition of any new import restrictions against ores and minerals for other than balance of payments reasons.
The negotiation to obtain satisfactory access for beef into Japan was largely responsible for the delay in finalizing these arrangements. The Japanese Government offered certain concessions, including a small fixed quota, but we were not prepared to record acceptance of an import quota for beef which we regarded as inadequate. I point out that I am not referring to an import quota for beef for Australia alone. We are negotiating this as a non-discriminatory agreement. My recommendation to the Government was that we should retain our freedom to pursue discussions on this matter with the Japanese direct, and in the wider negotiations with other importing countries, that are currently being conducted in Geneva, under the auspices of the Kennedy round of tariff negotiations.
The failure to reach agreement on this point does not mean that Japan will not be importing beef from Australia. To the extent imports are permitted, we have been assured of most-favoured-nation treatment. Yesterday I was able to inform the House, quite apart from this treaty and notwithstanding the breakdown of our negotiations on this point, that the Japanese have decided, for reasons of their own internal policies, to licence the importation or 5,000 tons of beef during the next few months. Furthermore, it will not inhibit the question of imports of beef into Japan being raised any time during the annual consultations provided for in the argeement
Honorable members will note, that, as part of the negotiations, the Japanese Government requested that full opportunities of fair competition be given to Jar nese suppliers when tenders are called on behalf of the Australian Government and certain of its statutory authorities. The agreed minutes which have been attached to the Protocol of Amendment indicate that the Japanese Government was advised that where the Australian Government proposed to purchase its requirements overseas equal opportunities of fair and equal competition are accorded to Japanese products in regard to such tenders.
This represents a commitment not to discriminate against tenders for equipment submitted by the Japanese to the advantage of other overseas suppliers. But I point out that it does not confer any advantage on Japanese suppliers over suppliers from other countries. In no way does it limit the rights of the Australian Government to accept any tender from Australian suppliers.
– It seems meaningless to me.
– Well you are a bit that way. I cannot help you. Of course, the Australian Government is free to decide to procure its requirements in Australia without soliciting any overseas tenders. That position is in no way touched by this agreement.
An important section of the agreement relates to the annual consultations between the two countries. The recorded objective of these consultations is to increase trade both ways. This consultation provision is very important. Japan has become a very important trading partner to Australia and Australia is an important supplier of foodstuffs and raw materials for Japanese industry. The annual consultations will not only permit trade to be expanded but also minimize the problems of harm to Australian industry.
One important reason for the success of the 1957 agreement was that both parties scrupulously observed the spirit of the agreement.
When in Japan for these negotiations I took the fullest opportunity to point out the great and expanding possibilities for increased trade from each country and the necessity to ensure that exports from each country should not be the cause of harm to industries in the other. I am satisfied from discussions with Japanese Ministers and commercial and industrial interests that there is now a wide understanding in Japan that the best opportunity for increased exports to Australia lies in items which do not compete with Australia’s own industry.
I was very impressed with the tenor and the substance of my discussions with the Japanese Prime Minister and other Ministers. I observed the wish for consultations with us on a wide range of trade and economic matters, applying not only to the trade relations between the two countries but also to our mutual interests in the economic development of other Asian countries, particularly the lesser developed countries.
I am confident that this new agreement will be to the mutual benefit of our two countries in matters of trade. I am certainly confident that a broad and satisfactory and continuing trade will contribute to good relations between the Governments and the peoples of Japan and Australia.
– I wish to inform the House of the following appointments of honorable members as members of the Select Committee on Grievances of Yirrkala Aborigines, Arnhem Land Reserve: - Mr. Barnes, Mr. Chipp, Mr. Dean and Mr. Kelly have been appointed by the Prime Minister; Mr. Beazley, Mr. Bryant and Mr. Nelson have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Mr. Speaker, I raise a point of order. I direct the attention of the House to Standing Order No. 326, which reads -
No Member may sit on a committee if he is personally interested in the inquiry before such committee.
The submission that I wish to make concerns the interpretation to be placed on the words “ personally interested “. I submit that the meaning of the words “ personally interested” is clearly different from the meaning of the words “ having a pecuniary interest “, with which we are more familiar. The words “ pecuniary interest “ and the limitation expressed by them appear in other parts of the Standing Orders relating to votes in this House. I feel that if the House, in making the standing order, had wished to impose the same limitations as it , imposes in relation to votes in the House, it would not have so expressed the standing order. The fact that it has used the phrase “personally interested” indicates that the meaning of the House in making this standing order was different from that when it sets limits upon a member with respect to votes in this House. I also submit that that is a wise provision because the proceedings of a select committee are of a rather different character from the debates or votes that take place in this House. In the votes and debates, the limit is one of pecuniary interest and not one of personal interest. We all have strong opinions, but we are not excluded from taking part in any of the proceedings because we have strong opinions. We may even be partisans, or committed in one way or another, but we are not limited in our activities because we are partisans or committed in one way or another. But when we come to a select committee, I submit that a select committee is appointed by the House in order to carry out certain functions on behalf of the House which the House itself cannot carry out - to make inquiries, to examine witnesses, to produce facts, and to furnish the House with a report so that the House, having received the report, can, without any limitation except the limitation of pecuniary interest on the part of a member, proceed to express its opinions as vehemently, as strongly and as decisively as it chooses. My first submission is that the limitation set upon the members of a select committee is quite different from and much more narrow than the limitation set upon a member of the House.
The particular submission I wish to make refers to the position of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). The select committee has been appointed to inquire into the grievances of certain aboriginal people at Yirrkala, and the grievances are those contained in a petition presented to this House. I do not propose to read the petition in full, but honorable members will recall that it related to grievances regarding the procedures for the excision of certain land from an aboriginal reserve in Arnhem Land, and that it related to claims made by those people that the land was really their land and was necessary to them for purposes of hunting or for the exercise of their sacred practices. The final plea made in the petition was that - no arrangements be entered into with any company which will destroy the livelihood and independence of the Yirrkala people.
Those are the matters which the select committee will investigate. It is clear that the inquiry concerns an area of land that has been excised from an aboriginal reserve.
On 20th June, 1963, the Gove Mining and Industrial Corporation applied for certain leases over part of that land, and I am informed that on 23rd July, Gordon Munro Bryant, whom I believe to be identical with the honorable member for Wills, lodged objections to the granting of the leases applied for by the Gove Mining and Industrial Corporation. The grounds of objection lodged by Gordon Munro Bryant included the assertions that the land applied for was not Crown land, that the land was the property of the aboriginal inhabitants of Australia in the area concerned, that it was not just and equitable that the land should be made available to the applicant company for the purpose applied for, and that the land concerned is still part of an aboriginal reserve. The application and the objection made to it by Gordon Munro Bryant are still pending before a warden’s court established under the Mining Ordinance of the Northern Territory. I submit, therefore, that the honorable member for Wills is a litigant in a case that is still pending before a court of the Northern Territory dealing with precisely the same matters - the matters of the excision of land from an aboriginal reserve - which are to be the subject of inquiry by the select committee.
Then I would direct attention to a statement issued by the honorable member for Wills on 20th August regarding the petition from the people of Yirrkala. I refer not to the expressions of opinion that appeared in that document, opinions which some of us might regard as being a little intemperate but which still were expressions of the honorable member’s own views. I refer to a note appended to the statement, a note which apparently continues to express the views of the honorable member for Wills. This reads as follows: -
Note: I am involved in this as I have taken court action in Darwin on the people’s behalf, at their request, as Vice-President of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement.
So I submit that, by his own claim and declaration in that statement, the honorable member for Wills has put himself forward as being the agent of the people whose grievances are to be investigated by the select committee. I submit that by the use of the words “ on the people’s behalf at their request “ he claims to be acting as the agent of those people. The point on which I ask for your ruling is whether within the meaning of Standing Order No. 326, which provides that, “ No member may sit on a committee if he is personally interested in the inquiry”, the honorable member for Wills is excluded, first, because he is a litigant before a court in a case that is pending regarding the issues to be inquired into and, secondly, because he has publicly claimed to be the agent acting on behalf of the people whose grievances are to be investigated.
I have brought this matter to your attention, Mr. Speaker, because I think that on a matter of this kind. May’s “ Parliamentary Practice “ is not a sufficient guide. The House of Commons, in its wisdom, has not chosen to set down a standing order on this subject. This House has chosen to set down, and has adopted, a standing order dealing with it. Therefore, I submit it is not sufficient for us to simply look at whatever may be contained in May’s “Parliamentary Practice “. Although May’s “ Parliamentary Practice “ might afford you guidance, I think it is a matter for this House itself to clear its mind as to what it means by the words “personally interested “ and what sort of conduct it expects from its own members.
My last word is to assure the House and the honorable member for Wills that whatever personal opinions or views he might have, and however strongly he might hold them is of no concern to me. I am concerned only with the fact - and these are the points on which I seek a ruling - that he is a litigant in a case affecting a matter to be inquired into and the fact that he claims to be the agent acting on behalf of the people whose grievances are being investigated.
– Mr. Speaker, I should like to address you on the point of order
– Order! I think it would be preferable if I first expressed the views of the Chair. Standing Order No. 326 states -
No Member may sit on a committee if he is personally interested in the inquiry before such committee.
In m’y opinion, the Chair is not able to determine whether or not a member is personally interested in a committee’s inquiry and cannot properly be called upon to so decide. A member must be guided by his own feelings in the matter and by the dictates of respect due to the House and to himself. Having regard to the existence of the standing order and its terms, it is likely that if a matter of this kind is brought to issue it will be one for the House to decide.
– I take it, Mr. Speaker, that the effect of your ruling is-
– It is not a ruling; it is an interpretation.
– I take it that the effect of your interpretation is that my nomination of the honorable member for Wills as a member of this committee is in order unless the House, by vote, says that he is not to sit. I shall leave the matter at that point and see what the House proposes to do.
– This is not the sort of issue that the Government would force to a vote in order to exclude a member. I gather, Mr. Speaker, that your interpretation means that we must leave it to the member’s own self-respect and the respect he has for the House to declare whether he intends to serve on the committee. I cannot move to differ from an interpretation. If the honorable member for Wills, in spite of the fact that he is a litigant and an agent, persists in serving on the committee, we will certainly not move to unseat him, but our opinion and, I feel, the opinion of the public at large of the value of his contribution to the committee must be affected by the fact that, being a litigant and an agent, he persists in serving in an inquiry in which he is personally interested.
– I do not know whether I should make a personal explanation or ask for leave to make a statement.
– We will hear the honorable member for Wills. I point out that he will not be entitled to debate the subject matter.
– Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have no financial interest whatsoever in the case before the committee. I have a personal interest, as has every other person in Australia, particularly members of this House. The select committee has been appointed to examine the excision of a part of the Arnhem Land Reserve and actions contingent thereon. In the case in Darwin I have lodged objections, in accordance with regulations made under the mining ordinance, to further leases being granted. That case is not before the committee. The excision of part of the reserve is not before a court. I lodged those objections as a part of my public duty, which I believe does not stop at the door of the House. I feel confident that any decisions I may make and any opinions I may offer will be evaluated by the Australian people in the way in which they would evaluate any statement I made on any other matter. I am confident, too, of the objectivity of honorable members on this question. The select committee is not an executive body. It will lay opinions and facts before the House for its decision. In the resolution before the House, it was expressly provided that minority opinions could be submitted. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, accepting the integrity of the Minister’s position in this matter, I also maintain my own integrity.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 18th September (vide page 1160).
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £14,360,000.
– The question now before the committee is that the proposed expenditure of the Prime Minister’s Department of £14,360,000 be agreed to.
.- I refer to the proposed appropriation for the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, which appears in Division No. 121. The trust was established for the development of a national theatre and the provision of entertainment of a cultural and Australian nature for the Australian people. The expendi ture for this purpose last year was £75,000 and this year the appropriation is to be £200,000. This is a big sum of public money. It is obvious that it is required to cover a substantial loss. The loss appears to be too great and the achievements of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust appear to have been too small. I make this comment as a lover of the theatre who, twenty years ago, made his maiden speech in this House on the subject of a national theatre.
State governments, municipalities and, most generously, the Commonwealth Government, have subscribed funds for the trust, but let us face the fact that that is not achieving anything that will bring us closer to having a national theatre. A national theatre, paid for by subsidy and by contributions from governments and semigovernmental bodies, should lift the level of basic Australian culture so that Australian writers, actors and performers generally can give to the world an epitome of what Australia represents. In my view, a national theatre should not be involved in the rehashing of overseas plays, operas or ballets. A national theatre is the shop window of the ideals of a nation. I have some critical remarks to make about the Elizabethan Theatre Trust, and I hope they will be taken in the spirit in which they are made. They are directed towards an improvement of the position. It is apparent that we are completely at a loss in the way in which we are moving.
I believe it is a good thing to raise money for a theatre so that we can see great plays from overseas played by Australian actors. But that is not the point. The point is: How are we trying to achieve this? I believe that we have too much top hamper in the Elizabethan Theatre. We have developed a theatrical bureaucracy, with too much mink and too many mothballs. If a national theatre is to be anything, there must be a welling-up of the aspirations and ideals of the people, expressed by Australian writers. We must not take the narrow view that a national theatre should not put on great overseas plays, operas or ballets. They are, in proper circumstances, a part of a national theatre. There is nothing narrow about a national theatre. By implication, it is also an international theatre. 1 ‘ “ ‘ :’
Our in-built colonialism has produced some very odd things in the Elizabethan Theatre Trust. I cannot see, for the life of me, why £200,000 voted for the development of a national theatre should result in operettas such as “The Merry Widow” and “ The Student Prince “ being played in Melbourne as a tour de force, as great productions. In to-day’s atmosphere, the place for those things is the Bandiwallop Musical Society. They were good in their day, but they are outmoded. They are musical jingles, and we are striving for more than that. Surely we should not use public money in that way. We must be completely realistic - and sometimes a little cruel - in considering this matter. How much real value to young Australians is there in old-fashioned ballet, where the steps and themes are stylized? In this year of grace, our young people do not want that sort of entertainment, and it will not make a profit. What can you do about it? You should not start another ballet school and say that we must have ballet because it is a part of suburban culture to be a balletomane. Let us remember that we are spending public money. If the youth of the country say, “We like ballet, but not too much of it; we would like to see something more modern “; you can modernize the ballet. This can be done, but with the limited money and the few theatres that are available we should be cultivating an Australian atmosphere in our theatre. There have been some good Australian ballets, such as “ Corroboree “ and others, but they do not enliven young Australians to take an interest in their theatre. If a country’s theatre is not vibrant, part of that country’s democracy is lost and one of its mouthpieces for culture and entertainment disappears. Do not let us go back to the old plays such as “The Merry Widow”, “The Student Prince “ and “ The Country Girl “. Surely they are corny enough to have been dispensed with.
What are we searching for? Here is the simple answer. In the history of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust the two most successful money spinners have been Australian plays. They were not imported plays. They were not plays written by Offenbach or Strauss or plays that have been . repeated so often .’that they have become almost nauseating. These plays were two new outlooks. They were plays of great merit.
One was “The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll “, which dealt with cane-cutters and shearers and their holidays in an Australian atmosphere. The play was deftly and brilliantly concocted and was accepted by many Australians. Despite the barrier that our inbuilt self-consciousness about our own products creates in us, that play was an outstanding financial success. It was so successful that it was taken to England and the United States of America, with varied fortunes. But it was in the top bracket of Australian productions. It was written by an Australian writer and presented by Australian actors. Similarly, the play on migration, “The Shifting Heart”, was a great financial success. Surely that should be a signpost for the Elizabethan Theatre Trust.
For that reason, I do not favour the importation of overseas professors and the introduction of a sort of cult of the theatre. I believe that the theatre to be real must be of the people; I do not mean in the sense of people, but in the sense of all people. It must have an aspiration from the sources of people’s thinking and consciousness. We will get that only from the earth-earthy of Australia itself. Some of the Australian plays that have been presented have been flops because they have not been good plays. I suggest to the House that a play which has as its central theme a foetus in an ash can is not good theatre. It might be interesting to see how the author worked out his plot. Such a play was one of the plays subsidized by the Elizabethan Theatre Trust.
As honorable members know, in the repertory theatres in Sydney, Melbourne, particularly Perth which has always had a very good repertory theatre movement, Brisbane and elsewhere, the whole game is literally popping with ideas and experiments. In answer to that statement, people say that they are small theatres which are very easy to fill. But that is not true. A small theatre is harder to fill because it is in a back street and the audience have to sit on hard chairs. Let us remember the old aphorism that if you have something that the people want they will beat a path to your door. In the emerging Australian theatre we have something which people could, and I believe will, beat a path to our door to see, provided we get rid of this idea that we have to crowd and subsidize the whole superstructure of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust with reproductions from overseas. Let us have the good ones by all means. But do not let us throw a blanket completely over Australian productions. I ask honorable members: What merit is there in a girl with a golden Australian voice singing some old-fashioned aria from an outmoded Italian opera if the youth of to-day and the theatre-going public of today say, “This is not for us”? We must answer them without causing any damage to the theatre. Theatre history is one thing, but the vibrant, living theatre is another thing altogether.
For that reason. I am suggesting that when this vote is being considered more attention should be given to the management of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust. The trust has taken productions on tours of the country areas. A theatrical company goes into mechanics institutes with diffidence, saying, “ The people here will not like us “. But the people do like them. People in the country are hungry for theatre and good entertainment. We should do what was done in the days of Roosevelt during the depression. The Works Progress Administration said to the actors: “Here is some money. Go out and play the theatre that you think should be played.” So barns were hired along the road. The people did not mind how the theatre was played, so long as it got to them.
Without being super-nationalistic on this matter, I hope honorable members will understand that you have to build your own theatre in your own country; otherwise you will not contribute anything to world theatre. I believe that the repertory theatres all around Sydney, such as the Tote Theatre and the theatres in the round, are doing a magnificent job. The theatre of satire that has arisen is very good indeed. We are well served despite all the mechanical horrors of radio and the rushing cowboys and psychological plays that are presented in the manufactured theatre through the idiot boxes in our lounge rooms. We can go out for a breath of fresh air and see an Australian contribution to the theatre. This is a way of life and an entertainment of the people as they seek entertainment at week-ends or on other occasions. In my view, the way to build up Australian theatre is not to make a direct and savage charge against the Elizabethan Theatre Trust but to see whether we can break the bureaucracy in the trust. Theatre has always been the subject of some snobbery. People will say, “ Of course, I saw that production in Milan, and naturally it would be better in Milan than in Mosman “. But that is not necessarily so. For that reason we have to be a bit objective in regard to theatre.
In the few moments that remain to me I wish to make some suggestions. There is a new upsurge in Australian writing. It has been suppressed for a long time, but it is here now. If we have the best cricketers, footballers and high-jumpers in the world, it is quite irrational to suggest that a fellow who applies himself with a typewriter to writing a play and transcribing from life things that happen in his own country is a fool and a dud who is destined to live in a back room in Kings Cross. That is entirely stupid. We have not given such people any encouragement. Even in these days one must have money to live. Such a person gets into television or throws away his first aspiration to get into the theatre.
The actors, as well as the writers, of this country are in a very bad way. The upsurge of interest in repertory is significant. The people in repertory work for nothing. Nobody is paid. Sometimes the author is not even paid his royalties because repertory does not make enough money. But there is vibrance, life, kick and thrill in them. I expect the Elizabethan Theatre Trust to go out and look for such people. I believe that the repertory theatre should be subsidized more heavily. It should not be so centralized in the trust. It is quite useless to complain that the theatres are too big and you cannot get the crowds. I repeat that if you have a good play you will get the crowds. People are hungry for good entertainment. Basically, we, as Australians, with the background of Europe, have a love of theatre. We like to see it. We do not like the syndicated and mechanical forms in which art is conveyed to us.
There should be more consideration for our actors and more training for them. That should not necessarily be in ballet schools and schools for choruses. We should spend some money on the lifeblood of the theatre, the little repertory groups that try out Australian plays. We should give more money to playwrights for the production of Australian theatre. Do not let us have them running around to the back door with a play which nobody wants to read. Do not let us have people running away from our playwrights. Let us integrate them into this movement. The amount of this grant is £200,000. The total expenditure is £300,000 because the State governments and the municipalities have subscribed money. The Commonwealth Government, in its generosity - of which I approve - has -provided a subsidy at the rate of £2 for £1. I hope we will not use that money to get a bureaucracy or a snobbery in the theatre. We have to knock that over.
We should do some planning. We should not have too many visiting professors. We should not have too many long beards from European countries who have worn out their welcome in those countries. Let us have in the theatre some young, fast-talking Australian producers, workers, actors and writers who will develop for us a truly national theatre. The way to do that is to have a committee to consider this matter. Nobody is criticizing the Elizabethan Theatre Trust for what it has done. People are criticizing it for what it has not done. Things are just rolling along with people saying, “ We can put this show on because we will get the money from the Government anyway “. That is no good. A subsidy is a healthy thing if it feeds something that has a future.
I make those few suggestions. I hope that they will be considered and that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) will have a look at the situation not from the point of view of criticism from this side of the House but from the point of view of the development of something that we all treasure - a proper down-to-earth people’s theatre, a national theatre of Australia.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is well known for the keen interest he has always shown, I think both inside and outside the Parliament, in Australian art and Australian literature. I can recall many occasions when he has cham pioned the cause of the Australian theatre and of Australian actors and actresses. I would suggest that there are many opportunities for Australian plays to be shown in this country and that this is not necessarily a field in which development can be forced. It is something that has to grow as Australia grows and develops. The fact that some Australian plays have been outstanding successes not only in Australia but also abroad suggests that when Australian works of good quality are produced they have a very wide audience.
I wish to relate my remarks to the section of the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department that concerns the Australian Universities Commission, and the Commonwealth Office of Education. Just on two years ago, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) announced the formation of a committee to examine tertiary education in Australia. The reasons the Prime Minister gave for the establishment of the committee at that time were the rapidly increasing number of students who may wish to take advantage of tertiary education and other factors such as student wastage, staff shortage and the pressure on universities generally. The Prime Minister said that these factors made it imperative to investigate the best way to make the most efficient use of available man-power and other resources. He said also that the Government had decided to establish the committee to consider the pattern of tertiary education in relation to the needs and resources of Australia and to make recommendations to the Australian Universities Commission. He said further that he hoped that the committee would make its report before the end of the 1961-63 triennium.
The committee that was established is exceedingly large. It has not yet made its report and, as far as I know, is not even approaching the point at which it would be able to bring forward its report. I understand that there may be some chance that the report will be made available later this year, but it may be well into next year before the committee reports on the future pattern of university development. I think it particularly unfortunate that there has been a delay in this matter. Later in this sessional period we will no doubt receive a copy of the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission and the Government’s decisions concerning the triennium to follow the present triennium, which is in its closing months. The recommendations of the committee on the future of tertiary education will have to be closely examined and the changes that may result from its recommendations will take some time to apply to the university framework; but I believe it would have been a help if the report had been available before the Parliament of necessity had to examine the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission for the next triennium. It may be that the suggestions of the committee on the future of tertiary education can have no effect on the pattern of university establishments during the life of the next triennium and we may have to wait until the following triennium. This will be about four years from now. Quite clearly, if the committee makes recommendations for fundamental changes, as it may, they could not have an early or quick effect on the university framework, but the sooner we have the suggestions the sooner we can determine what needs to be done to put them into effect.
A few days ago, an interesting half-page advertisement appeared in the Melbourne “ Age “. It was sponsored by the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association. Although I do not agree with all the conclusions contained in the advertisement, I welcomed it because for the first time a group of people vitally interested in education is bringing the problems before the authorities responsible for primary and technical education in Victoria - that is, the Victorian Government. Some of us in this Commonwealth Parliament have been under pressure to become more closely involved in these matters, and it is not uncommon for associations, individuals and groups to make representations to the Commonwealth Government or to members of the Commonwealth Parliament and to ignore entirely the State governments and the members of the State Parliaments. This has always seemed to me to be somewhat illogical. The Victorian Secondary Teachers Association has now recognized this, because it is directing its suggestions to the Victorian Government, which is responsible for what happens in Victoria.
I want to spend some time in trying to show what has been done for education over the past ten or twelve years. It is my belief that the present Commonwealth Government has done more for education, in a direct way for university education and in an indirect way for primary and secondary education, than has any other government in Australia’s history. I think the record of what has happened bears this out. Expenditure on education by the States from Consolidated Revenue between 1949-50 and 1960-61, which unfortunately is the latest year for which composite figures are available, increased from £31,000,000 to £142,000,000 or from 20 per cent, of the revenue available for this purpose to 26 per cent. The increase of expenditure from loan funds has been even more significant. In 1949-50, only £5,000,000 was spent throughout the whole of Australia on capital works related to education. In 1960-61, this expenditure had risen to £41,000,000. This represents an increase from 6 per cent, of loan funds available to the States to 20 per cent. - a very significant increase.
Although we look at education as a national matter, some of us have a special interest in our own States. In Victoria, expenditure on education has risen from £8,000,000 to just under £40,000,000 from Consolidated Revenue and from £2,000,000 to £12,000,000 from loan funds. The figures that have been published for Victoria show that in the coming year expenditure on education will have risen to £73,000,000, which is an increase of more than £8,000,000 in one year and the largest increase of expenditure for any item. As the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) reminded honorable members a few days ago, expenditure on education has been increasing throughout the whole of the Commonwealth at the rate of 25 per cent, every two years. This is a pretty impressive performance.
The number of teachers employed in government schools has increased from 33,000 in 1949-50 to more than 60,000 in 1961. The pupil-to-teacher ratio has remained constant over the whole period. In primary schools, it is about 32 pupils to each teacher and in secondary schools it is about 20 pupils. I understand that in Victoria the position is much better than this. Admittedly the figures available are for a later period than are the figures for the whole of the Commonwealth, but in Victoria there are only 22 pupils for each teacher at the present time.
These are, I believe, quite startling figures, but it is interesting to see how the increased money has been spent. Over the whole of Australia, expenditure on . buildings has increased from £5,000,000 to about £40,000,000, or an eightfold increase. Expenditure on maintenance has increased from a little over £2,000,000 to more than £12,000,000, a fivefold increase. Expenditure on teachers’ salaries - this is by far the largest individual item - has increased from £22,500,000 to £99,000,000. If the figures for 1963-64 were available, expenditure on this item would be well over £100,000,000. In other words, twice the number of teachers are being paid almost four and a half times as much as teachers received in 1949-50. “While in no way criticizing this, I suggest that it does mean that the whole profession is being up-graded and is considered now to be more important than it once was.
If we take the figures for Victoria, we find that this sort of expenditure has enabled over 1,000 classrooms to be built in each of the last few years in Victoria. This is not slightly over but well over 1,000 classrooms in each year. We find that the number of teachers in Victoria increased from 9,000 to 22,000 in the period to which I have referred, and that there are now 7,000 teacher trainees in Victoria. This is a larger number, I understand, than in any other State. The figures I have cited show that much more attention has been paid to education in Victoria and this has been made possible by what the Commonwealth Government has done by way of financial grants and other such arrangements with the States.
But if we look at the different States and compare what they have done, we find that the emphasis on education is much greater in some States than in others. Queensland, for instance, spends only 11 per cent, of its loan funds on education, while Victoria spends 24 per cent. Tasmania spends 21 per cent, of its revenue funds on education, Victoria 28 per cent. If we consider the position on the basis of expenditure per head of population we find that Queensland spends £12 lis. 7d. for each person in that State on education while
Western Australia spends £17 6s. 7d. per head. These figures show that the States have a good deal of flexibility within their own financial arrangements. They also show that there is room for some States at least to spend more on education, if they wish to do so, and less in other directions. However, such decisions should be left within the province of the States.
Let me now turn to a brief examination of the position with regard to universities. Total expenditure on universities increased from £6,000,000 in 1951 to £43,000,000 in 1961. During this period the number of students enrolled doubled, from 30,000 to more than 60,000. The increases in amounts spent and in students enrolled may seem disproportionate, but this is explained by the fact that many universities have been carrying on developmental programmes. Some of them have been in the process of starting their operations and have been involved in heavy capital expenditure at a time when they have not had many students enrolled.
I am the first to admit that what I have given to the committee is not necessarily the complete story. Not only is our population increasing; we also find that a larger proportion of people in each age group are wanting to stay at school longer. Of the people who were twelve years of age in 1949, 33 per cent, were still at school when they were fifteen and slightly more than 4 per cent, were still at school at the age of seventeen years. Of the children who were twelve years of age in 1956, 58 per cent, were still at school when they were fifteen and more than 11 per cent, were still at school when they were seventeen years of age. This is a trend that will continue, and it is also reflected in the numbers of students at universities. Of the people who were nineteen years of age in 1949, 2.78 per cent, were at universities, but in 1961 more than 5 per cent, of people who were nineteen years of age were at universities. If this trend continues, as I am quite certain it will, larger and larger amounts of money will have to be spent on education. But the States will be able to meet the position, because this Commonwealth Government has dealt in an increasingly generous fashion with the States in loan fund arrangements and other financial arrangements, and it can be expected to do so in the future.
I believe that the greater attention that has been paid to education, is largely due to the personal effects of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Nobody is more keenly aware of the needs of education, and nobody is more keenly aware of the fact that a person capable of benefiting from education, particularly higher education, should be given the opportunity to gain that education.
.- The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) started off by referring to a large advertisement in Victorian newspapers, setting out the views and opinions of the Victorian Teachers Federation. He said that he agreed with most of the things in that advertisement. My understanding of the position is that most of the statements in the advertisement represented criticism of the existing educational facilities in Victoria. The honorable member for Wannon then attempted to convince us that all is well with education in Australia today. He gave us quite a lot of figures, but of course everybody knows that as the years go by expenditure on education increases and that children are now wanting to stay at school longer.
The most obvious fact in regard to education in Australia to-day is that our education system is not keeping pace with movements in industry in connexion with automation and mechanization. It is obvious that, as has been suggested many times in this Parliament, what is needed is a national inquiry into education, conducted by the Commonwealth Government in conjunction with the State governments, involving consultation with representatives of industry, in order to find out where the loopholes are in our education system - and there are many of them to-day. In my own State of Queensland there is a tremendous demand for skilled tradesmen. Plans are being made to import skilled people into Australia. No steps are being taken by the Commonwealth Government on a national basis, in co-operation with the States, to provide for our requirements of skilled tradesmen.
It is obvious that we are lagging behind in this country in the field of technical education, and something will have to be done about it. It is obvious that with the advance of automation and mechanization new classifications of training will have to be introduced in technical schools. This will have to be done on a national basis. Otherwise, one State will march forward and increase its productivity, leaving another State behind. All the States must combine with the Commonwealth and plan for the future in the field of education. We will have to abandon the present methods of rushing in and patching up.
I do not agree with the honorable member for Wannon that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has made tremendous strides in advancing education in Australia. I believe that he has consistently turned his back on the demands of my honorable colleagues from Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and Wills (Mr. Bryant). There is a definite need for a committee of investigation into education on a national basis.
I would like to take this opportunity to speak of the plight of diabetics in Australia, of which there are now some 100,000, particularly in connexion with their employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. Traditionally the Commonwealth Government has classed diabetics as physically handicapped persons and therefore ineligible for appointment as permanent officers of the Public Service. The Diabetes Federation of Australia had a representative appear before the Boyer committee and make submissions about diabetics who were treating themselves with insulin and about their increased ability to work because of improved medical facilities. The federation had high hopes that its submissions would be favorably received by the committee and that a recommendation would be made which would allow diabetics ultimately to become permanent employees in the Commonwealth Public Service. On 16th May, 1962, the Prime Minister announced a general easing of the rule governing the employment of physically handicapped persons, but it now transpires that this does not apply to diabetics using insulin, who constitute the majority of known sufferers from this condition. These people still do not have an opportunity of becoming permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service.
One wonders whether the Commonwealth, as the largest employer of la! our in Australia to-day, should not give the lead to industry generally in the matter of the employment of physically handicapped persons. We hoped in 1962 that these 100,000 people, or at least some of them, would have been given the opportunity to become permanent employees of the Commonwealth. We all know that medical treatment has advanced to the stage at which it is now a question whether diabetes can still be described as a handicap. There certainly was ample reason for discrimination in the past, before the discovery of insulin. 1 think that all honorable members agree that, before the discovery of insulin, diabetics could not be employed as permanent public servants. But with the discovery of insulin and with other advances in medical science, the diabetic is now able to treat himself. The Commonwealth should investigate the matter thoroughly and give diabetics all possible opportunities for employment.
We cannot help feeling that there is more prejudice than good sense or justice in the attitude that leads to the exclusion of diabetics. We have to consider whether the thought in the minds of many people is: We cannot employ a diabetic. Are the persons who make decisions about the employment of diabetics competent to understand the changed situation brought about by advances in medical science today? Do those persons really understand the existing conditions and the capabilities of diabetics in the light of modern medical science? Or is the prevailing attitude a throw-back to the past - to the prejudice that existed before the discovery of this magnificent aid, insulin?
Authorities other than the Commonwealth Government most certainly have recognized the advances made in medical science. Again, the New South Wales Government leads the field. Since 1958, that Government has appointed diabetics as permanent officers of the New South Wales Public Service and has granted them admission to the Provident Fund applicable to that service. We have taken the opportunity to ascertain the attitude of some of the leading assurance companies in Australia towards diabetics. Included among the companies that were approached were the Legal and General Assurance Society Limited, the Prudential Assurance Company Limited, the Australian Mutual Provident
Society, the Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited and the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company Limited. All those companies have advised that in certain instances they will assure diabetics at a slightly higher premium. They have advised us also that, where independent organizations seek insurance coverage for superannuation plans, diabetics employed by those independent organizations are covered and assured without any medical examination.
I have already mentioned that the New South Wales Government employ diabetics as permanent officers. The Tasmanian Government, too, employs diabetics, but at this stage does not admit them to a provident fund as is done in New South Wales. If two State governments for some years have employed diabetics and assurance companies will extend general coverage to diabetics under superannuation schemes and, in many instances, will assure diabetics at slightly higher premiums, surely the Federal Government should accept the recommendation made by the Boyer committee in relation to the employment in the Commonwealth Public Service of physically handicapped persons. In the light of the interpretation of the statement made by the Prime Minister on 16th May, 1962, to the effect that the rule relating to the employment of physically handicapped persons in the Commonwealth Public Service would be eased, is there evidence of prejudice against diabetics?
Obviously, the Commonwealth has attempted to absorb physically handicapped persons, but in my view it has not fully investigated the question of whether a diabetic, in the light of modern medical science, is really a physically handicapped person. Most people know some diabetics and realize that, because they are able to treat themselves, they are nearly completely normal, and, within the limits of normal human capabilities, are able to undertake with the utmost efficiency the work required by any employer. We cannot help feeling that there is prejudice against diabetics. I honestly believe, Mr. Chairman, that there is good reason for the Commonwealth Government to re-examine the rule concerning the employment of diabetics in the Commonwealth Public Service and to determine whether this rule as it is applied is reasonable in the light of modern medical knowledge.
.- Mr. Chairman, I wish to make a few observations about the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. The Second Schedule to the bill lists, under Division No. 121, various commitments entered into by the department. I wish to deal first with sub-division 2 - Administrative Expenses, item 04, “ Commonwealth ‘ Gazettes ‘ - Printing and distribution (including postage), £67,500”. In 1962-63, £62,500 was allocated and £61,858 was spent. So the allocation for 1963-64 is almost £6,000 more than expenditure last financial year.
I suggest that the Commonwealth “ Gazette “ is perhaps the most weird journalistic production in this country. First, one almost needs a searchlight to enable one to read the small crowded print. I defy any one, unless he wears bi-focal glasses, as I do, and looks keenly at the print, to read this document except with a great deal of effort and at the cost of a great deal of time. I notice that this publication bears the statement, “ Published by Authority “. Whom that means, I do not know, but I suppose those people in the know will know. Any citizen reading this publication would wonder who that might be. lt should be easy at least to include the name of the responsible editor, the person who compiles this document.
Let me deal first with the nature of the print. Throughout, the print is very small. The “ Gazette “ of 12th September contains a long list of the names of migrants who have been naturalized recently. Let us glance at that. Each name and address runs straight on from the one before. What would be wrong with putting each on a separate line, one beneath the other, in larger print? Any one who goes through the list searching for a name has a wellnigh impossible task to find it. But let us pass on and look at the listing of promotions in the Public Service. They are well set out so that they can be read easily and speedily, and quite rightly so. If promotions in the Public Service can be listed in that way, why not list in a similar manner information in which the ordinary citizen is interested? Perhaps he is not interested in the details of promotions in the Public
Service. The ordinary person may like to know which migrants in a given centre in the constituency in which he lives have been naturalized, or he may bc interested in some other information contained in the “ Gazette “.
One does not find the contents of the “Gazette” listed until last, on the back page. Why could not the list of contents be put at the front where the interested reader could find it easily? Instead, one is required to wander through the document, with its weird collection of print, right from front to back in order to find the information that he wants. I suggest that the machinery with which the “ Gazette “ is printed is perhaps the oldest printing machinery in the nation. Print of this kind went out with the ark. An expenditure of £67,500 in the current financial year on the production of a document set out in the manner that I have described represents sheer waste of money.
Then let us consider the phraseology that is used. One almost needs to be a Queen’s Counsel, with a few university degrees, to understand it. The “ Gazette “ of Thursday, 12th September, contains an order approving an amendment of the by-laws of the Australian Academy of Science. That order reads -
Whereas by Letters Patent of Her Majesty the Queen bearing date the second day of February, 1954, the Australian Academy of Science was by Charter passed under the Great Seal constituted, creeled and incorporated into a body corporate and politic:
Would not Bill Jones of Bankstown just revel in reading that great piece of information in a copy of the “ Gazette “? Even if he were interested in the matter, he would not understand passages like that. I shall be quite frank and say that I cannot work out what it means. Let us run through the order further. It continues -
And whereas by clause 14 of the said Charter it is provided that a majority of not less than threefourths of the Fellows of the said Academy present in person or by proxy and voting at a General Meeting of the Fellows of the Academy specially called for the purpose of which due notice has been given or the like majority of the Fellows voting by means of a postal ballot as provided in the Charter shall have power from time to time to make such By-laws as shall seem requisite and convenient for the regulation, . . .
Reading that passage has taken me a long time, even reading it speedily. 1 read it rapidly because I was taught at school thai one pauses only where there is a comma, a full stop or some other punctuation mark. There was none in the passage that I have just read. This shows that those who compile the “ Gazette “ do not know much about the Queen’s English and the use of punctuation. The order proceeds - . . government and advantage of the Academy its members and property and for the furtherance of its objects and purposes and from lime to time to revoke or amend any By-law or By-laws previously made but so that the same be not repugnant to the provisions of the said Charter or to the laws and statutes of the Commonwealth of Australia or any State or Territory thereof:
Having read that, no doubt you are fully informed of the reason why that proclamation is incorporated in a document which this year will cost £67,000 to print. Why could not those responsible have said what they wanted to say in language that we all understand?
Let us look at an announcement relating to a Customs proclamation. Let us see how wc appoint a beith on the Sydney waterfront. This is done with a real touch of what we could call glamour. The announcement states -
Customs Proclamation No. 1073 Commonwealth of By His Excellency the Austrafia to wit. Governor-General in and
De L’Isle over the Commonwealth
Governor-General. of Australia.
Whereas by section fifteen of the Customs Act 1901-1960 it is enacted that the Governor-General may by proclamation, amongst other things, appoint wharfs and fix their limits:
Now therefore 1, William Philip, Viscount De L’Isle, the Governor-General aforesaid, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, do hereby -
Listen to what he did -
The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) is now at the table, so I shall refer to that section in the “ Gazette “ which relates to the naturalization of new citizens. If the Minister can understand it, he is entilled to an additional £1,000 a year salary, because no one else can. This is an announcement by his own department. If those responsible for printing this “ Gazette “ will listen to him, then, as the responsible Minister, he should insist that the normal space be allowed between each line of print, so that all may be able to read and learn precisely to whom announcements by his department relate. I mention these aspects because this document comes to us regularly. I find it almost impossible to follow, and I hope that the submissions that I have made in a constructive way will be considered by the authorities concerned.
There are one or two aspects of the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department about which I should like some information. Item 01 in Division No. 121 - Administrative - relates to historical and other works of art. including commission of portraits. The allocation is £11,000, which is £2,000 more than the appropriation last year and about £3,500 more than the amount actually expended last year. I do not know who will be painted or what historical and other works of art will be acquired, but £11,000 is to be expended. I should like to know, for instance, whether the portrait of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) or some one like him will be painted. The amount is exceedingly large. Merely to indicate that £11,000 will be spent in this direction, without telling us anything else, is not the right approach to expenditure of this nature. I do not object to it, but I believe that we should know who will be commissioned for the portraits and to what the item refers specifically. Are important historical works of art involved? Could this expenditure be saved? In addition, if £1 1,000 is to be spent on portraits and historical works of art I hope that Australian artists will be given preference over overseas talent.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 ;o 2.15 p.m.
.- Mr. Chairman, I move -
That the amount be reduced by £1.
As an assertion of the view of this House -
Sir, it is becoming more and more necessary to state the principle of national responsibility in education and to suggest a means of vindicating it. Last December I moved on behalf of the Opposition an amendment to the statement on education made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) the previous month. No vote has been taken on that amendment. No vote will be permitted by the Government on that amendment. Last month the Prime Minister, in his speech on the Budget, went to some pains and indulged in some abuse to explain why he had changed the views which he expressed in 1945 in the House on the national responsibility in education, and which the Teachers’ Federation in Victoria took advertisements in the newspapers to publicize once again on the eve of the
Budget. In the debate on the estimates for his department it is possible to state the principle, to suggest the remedies and to let the committee express its views upon them.
In my speech last December I quoted Professor Karmel who gave the most recent and, honorable members will concede, a most authoritative analysis of the necessity for more investment in education in Australia. He compared the investment and the future planning in education in Australia with the investment and future planning in comparable countries of north America and northern Europe. Anybody reading Professor Karmel’s lecture of sixteen months ago would be disturbed by the comparison. Australia has a peripheral population and an isolated situation. We can never be the most populous nation in the world, or, indeed, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but we can secure as well trained a population as there is in any of our neighbours or customers. As individuals and as a nation we face an increasingly competitive future.
Furthermore, in recent years the change in the pattern and habits of our population - the fact that more people are demanding education and the fact that people are demanding more education - has emphasized the aspirations and opportunities of the Australian community. This position will accelerate very markedly in the next few years. Professor Borrie, who holds the Chair of Demography in the Australia National University, made an analysis of the population in 1960. It transpired that at the time there were 770,000 persons between the ages of fifteen and nineteen years, 980,000 between the ages of ten and fourteen years, 1,000,000 between the ages of five and nine years and 1,100,000 under four years of age. It is quite clear that the percentage of our national income that is spent on education must be increased.
– There has been rapid increase in this direction.
– There has, but 1 suggest that the way in which this increase must be made in the future and the way in which plans must be made for the future, as in any mailer where population trends are concerned - education, housing and so on - have not yet been laid down satisfactorily. We cannot leave the future planning in this field as it has been left in recent years. We must adopt the methods which the Prime Minister himself suggested eighteen years ago.
It will have been noticed that the Prime Minister never suggests or emphasizes, as do some of his followers, that education is solely a State responsibility. Section 96 of the Constitution means that wherever governments in Australia have the responsibility of spending money on any subject, then that subject is just as much a federal responsibility as it is a State responsibility. Everyone accepts that principle without demur in respect of houses, hospitals, roads, railways, electricity, conservation and already in universities but the Prime Minister has resisted the inevitable extension of the principle into forms of education parallel and preparatory to strict university education. Many excuses have been given over the years why the Commonwealth should not go into these fields, but the latest excuses the right honorable gentleman has given to the Premiers’ Conference have been that the Commonwealth is making increased general purpose grants to the States and that the Commonwealth still has some current inquiries into education.
– It was the Premiers themselves who moved for the general revenue grants. The Prime Minister was not present at the last Premiers’ Conference.
– I was referring to the special Premiers’ Conference in February last when four of the Premiers - the Liberal and Country Party Premiers - withdrew the requests for specific education grants that they had made in 1961, but all the Premiers persisted in the requests they had made to the Prime Minister in 1961 that the Commonwealth should inquire into the needs of primary, secondary and technical education.
The general purpose grants are no longer sufficient. There is nothing unusual in the fact that in a federal system the federal Government should make grants to the States. The system is all the more to be understood in Australia where the Commonwealth has taken over from the States the loan-raising power and most taxing powers.
During the term of office of the present Government, the current and capital expenditure of State and local government authorities on education increased by more than six times, from £36,000,000 to £230,000,000. In the same period the total expenditure by such authorities increased from £257,000,000 to £1,020,000,000, or less than four times. The inadequacy of these amounts can be judged in relation to education needs. The States cannot indefinitely increase the proportion of their expenditure that can be spent on education. The demand of other services has also increased and education cannot be extended much further at the expense of those other services.
By implication the Prime Minister has admitted that expenditure on education is not adequate because his reason for not appointing an inquiry into these other forms of education is that the Commonwealth would be committed to further expenditure. That is, the right honorable gentleman realizes that any inquiry into other forms of education would alert the public, as did the Murray committee in relation to universities, to the deficiences of our educational system and would commit the Commonwealth to helping to repair those deficiencies. Basic to the Prime Minister’s whole attitude is the Liberal attitude that the most effective way to restrict public expenditure on any activity is to confine expenditure on that activity to the States. The exclusion of national responsibility in education is a form of economy practised by no comparable state, federal or unitary. It is a form of economy in which Australia will persist at the risk of its future.
The Prime Minister’s other reason for not inquiring into other fields of education is the fact that various committees of inquiry are still in train. There was a committee of inquiry into teaching costs of medical hospitals, appointed in August, 1959, and reporting in May, 1962; there was a committee of inquiry into university salaries, appointed in May, 1960, and reporting in September, 1961; and there is the current committee inquiring into the pattern and development of tertiary education, appointed in November, 1960, and expected to report at the end of this year. These committees limited their inquiries to various aspects of tertiary education.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said that the Premiers - he was referring only to the Liberal and Country Party Premiers - no longer wished specific grants to be made for other forms of education. That is not the attitude of the Premiers of New South Wales and Tasmania. In respect of technical education, it is not the attitude of the Premier of Victoria, because, after the recent federal Budget was introduced, Mr. Bolte said that he had hoped that in the Commonwealth Budget technical education would have been placed on the same basis as university education for federal assistance. Again, in May, at a great national congress which the Minister and I addressed on behalf of our respective leaders, the Victorian Minister for Education said that for various reasons, such as the comparable value of its work, its defence significance, and its trade significance, there should be federal aid for technical education at all levels. Last month, the Reserve Bank of Australia reported to us -
In the longer run, growth depends on many factors, but with the advance of science and technology, standards of education and the upgrading of skills have become of increasing importance. 1 wish to pass now to the reasons why Commonwealth co-ordination should accompany Commonwealth participation in education. At present, students undertake many subjects at different stages in the various States and Territories and are disadvantaged if they have to move to another State or Territory. Many examination certificates and diplomas are not equally recognized in all States and Territories. All of us know of instances in which servicemen or public servants or employees of private businesses, with children in their teens, have seen disadvantages result in their children’s education because of this unnecessary diversity. The Murray committee directed attention to it but the diversity still continues in these State compartments. In Victoria and Tasmania, children enter on their secondary education in their seventh year at school, and in all the other States they enter on their secondary education in their eighth year at school. In New South Wales and Victoria, children spend six years in secondary schools. In Queensland they spend four years. From next year, they will spend five years in secondary schools in Queensland. They spend five years in secondary schools in all the other States. There are also differences as to matriculation requirements between all the Australian universities, and even between universities which are in the one State. There is a difference in the qualifications provided or required for teachers by the various States. There is a difference in the expenditure per head on various forms of education, in all the States, as is reported to us every year by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
Discussion has arisen in Australia, as in America - and in both countries confusion has been created - on the extent to which federal governments should assist nongovernment schools outside their territories. I have no doubt that in Australia assistance for non-government schools in the Territories will be continued by succeeding governments, as it has been continued by the present government from its predecessor. On the general position epitomized under the heading of State aid, there is no difference between the Government and the Opposition. The Prime Minister told the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) three years ago that such assistance to denominational schools in the States was outside the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. He told an election meeting at Wagga in November, 1961, that his Government would not grant it. But there is a difference between the Government and the Opposition on the ways in which the Commonwealth can and should assist students in all schools. The first is by increasing and extending child endowment and by granting scholarships and other benefits to students in accordance with the Constitution; we believe that no child should be denied education because of lack of means. The second is by awarding scholarships and making grants for that form of tertiary education represented by teacher training, with the object of equipping men and women for a profession and not just for a State public service. The third is to make State grants for further and new installations such as science equipment, mobile libraries and language laboratories to which nonState pupils can have access. The fourth is to operate educational programs and even channels on television and radio and to encourage government printers to supply basic text-books for use throughout Australia. These are unquestionably matters in respect of which the Commonwealth can and should assist.
I conclude by saying that in the field where the Commonwealth has already accepted responsibility - that is, in the universities - the Commonwealth is each year assisting a smaller percentage of students to pursue their education. Although, in the last ten years, the number of people sitting for leaving certificates has quadrupled, Commonwealth assistance to university students has gone up by no more than one third.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I strongly support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The Labour Party has four main reasons for suggesting that there should be a national policy with respect to education. First, we believe that under the present Commonwealth and State financial arrangements, the States are demonstrably incapable of meeting the needs of education. Secondly, we submit that there is need for a comprehensive and co-ordinated national educational policy to avoid the distorted and markedly inefficient present separate piecemeal policies, as applied in the different States and the Commonwealth, and as operate in respect of university education, compared with other levels of education. Thirdly, we say there is need for a national education policy co-ordinated with policies for balanced economic development, full employment, and defence, all of which are accepted as predominately Commonwealth responsibilities. Our fourth reason for our advocacy is that we feel there is a genuine widespread feeling in the community in favour of such a proposal.
The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) at least indicated in his speech on the Budget that he is feeling increasingly sensitive about this issue. He took up a fair amount of his time in dealing with it. I propose to ignore the disparaging remarks that he made about teachers outside the House and teachers on this side of the House. I leave those people to deal with him themselves. I want to take the Prime Minister to task for the rather crude way in which he tried to justify the Commonwealth’s present attitude. He directed attention to the fact that whereas in 1945 the Commonwealth paid £34,800,000 to the States by way of income tax reimbursements, it is now paying the States £318,000,000. More particularly, the Prime Minister argued that in 1950r51, very close to the time when his Government came into office, the Commonwealth was providing £46,000,000 for expenditure through the States on education. In other words, he said that in 1950-51 the States were spending £46,000,000 that had been provided by the Commonwealth in the form of tax reimbursements, but by 1960-61 he said, with a rather dramatic gesture, that the Commonwealth was providing £184,000,000, a fourfold increase over the figure for 1950-51. He also went on to say that the Commonwealth had been most generous to the States in providing an amount of the order of £801,000,000 in loan moneys to the States during its reign of office, and he reminded us that these loan moneys came out of the taxation revenue of the Commonwealth. His final argument was that in 1950-51 there were 36,000 full-time teachers in government schools, whereas to-day there are 67,700 full-time teachers in government schools.
Let us look at the things that the Prime Minister did not say when he referred to the fourfold increase in the allocation of moneys by the Commonwealth to the States in order to enable them to expend four times as much as they had been expending on education. These are some of the things that the Prime Minister did not say. These are some of the Prime Minister’s evasions in telling people the story. First, in 1949 the basic wage was £6 2s., but now it is £14 8s. Using that kind of index, the value to-day of the expenditure so proudly talked about by the Prime Minister is less than half of what it would have been at the commencement of the period to which he referred. Let us take another criterion. The average weekly male earnings in March, 1949, were £8 6s., but in December, 1962, they were £24 19s., or almost three times as great. Those figures give an indication of the loss in the value of money and of the increased productivity of the community. Taking into account the loss in the value of money, education would need a much greater increase in expenditure than has been made in order to achieve any real advance from the standards of 1950-51.
But there is more to it than that. This is not simply a question of loss of money value. The value of the £184,000,000 that the Prime Minister referred to - the amount provided in 1960-61 - is not only less than one-half the real value of that amount in 1950-51, but it has to be measured against a vastly increased school population. In June, 1949, the number of children compelled to attend school - children between the ages of six years and fourteen years - Was 1,072,872. By June, 1961, the number had risen to 1,853,592. In that period there Was an increase of 780,720 in the number of children compulsorily attending school. In other words, the school population increased by 72.7 per cent. I have shown that we must reduce the sum of which the Prime Minister boasted by about one-half in order to compensate for the loss of value of money. We have also to take into account the 72.7 per cent, increase between 1949 and 1960 in the number of children compulsorily attending school. So the States arc hardly any better off with the amount allocated to them now than they were back in 1950-51.
I have dealt only with children compulsorily attending school. There is also the rotable and obvious fact that many more children are staying on at secondary schools to-day than in 1950-51. In fact, the number of children who start off in the first year at high school and complete their high school education has doubled in the period between 1950 and 1960. Other factors must be considered. These children require additional facilities and teachers with high qualifications. These needs involve greater expense than is necessary at the primary or lower level of education. Science laboratories and technical facilities arc needed. A diversity of courses must be made available because we live in an agc when all children receive secondary schooling. These are qualitative factors in relation to the school population which further detract from the value of the monetary allocation that is currently being made for education through the agency of the States. It is not just a case of numbers. To-day’s educational programme demands costly science equipment and technical equipment and many more teachers of graduate status. Higher rates of remuneration for teachers are involved.
We do not deny that even in 1950 there was a substantial back-lag of school building, deriving from the war period and the post-war period when we were rehabilitating ex-servicemen in civilian life. On that ground alone, one would have expected an automatic and substantial increase in the expenditure on education.
The Prime Minister said that the Government had made available to the States £801,000,000 by way of loans out of the Commonwealth’s taxation revenue. The taxation revenue does not belong to the Commonwealth. It belongs corporately to the States and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has no prior moral claim to it. But apart from that point, what has this £801,000,000 of loan moneys done for the States? In 1949 the States had a public debt of £1,009,000,000. The amount of loan moneys they had raised and were due to repay was £1,009,000,000. At the same time, the Commonwealth public debt was £1,817,000,000. By December, 1962, there had been a dramatic transformation. The States’ public debt had increased to £3,051,000,000, or by 202 per cent. It had trebled. What of the Commonwealth? Had its share of the public debt increased? No! It had remained almost static. In fact, it decreased by 7.2 per cent., from £1,817,000,000 to £1,686,000,000.
Interest rates on loan moneys must also be taken into account. They practically doubled all round. Before the States can start to do anything in relation to education, police forces, transport, water conservation or any of the manifold tasks that confront them, they have to find a huge amount of money to repay to the Commonwealth the taxation moneys that have been used by the Commonwealth to make loans to the States. That is the predicament in which the States find themselves. The Commonwealth can claim no great credit for the increased amount of money that has been apportioned to the States. We are all familiar with the scene at an Australian Loan Council meeting, when the States have to fight for every penny from the Commonwealth. At each meeting the Commonwealth argues against the States, only to be prevailed upon in the long run.
The main sphere of influence of the Commonwealth is in Commonwealth scholarships. Of all the students at universities in 1956, 29.2 per cent, were receiving Commonwealth scholarships. The figures for 1961 - the latest available to make a comparison - show that the percentage of university students in receipt of Commonwealth scholarships had fallen from 29.2 to 21.8.
We have been talking in monetary terms, but the real essence of the contract is whether there are deficiencies in our educational system. If so, are they of such an order as to cause us concern? The State Premiers say there are deficiencies and that we should be concerned about them. The public at large feels the same way. So do the great many organizations that were represented at Melbourne on 25th May, when 4,000 delegates sought to impress on the Commonwealth the urgency of the task. They decided that, on any estimate, 7,000 more teachers are needed in order that classes may be reduced to a reasonable size. Although we need more teachers and the Commonwealth is going abroad to seek teachers to send to New Guinea and into its own teaching service, 2,000 well-qualified young people are walking the streets, carrying petitions for State governments to provide more teacher traineeships. These young people arc qualified and want to become teachers, but they are denied an opportunity because the States do not have sufficient money to provide adequate teacher training facilities or scholarships or to employ them after training. This is a serious situation. Nearly every second day I read in the newspapers that some Commonwealth Minister is saying: “We want more and more skilled people”. This country is in danger, its employment position is in danger and its development tasks are in danger because the number of skilled people in all walks of life is inadequate. The Government is shopping all over the world for skilled people at the same time as many young boys and girls - particularly boys - are finding it almost impossible to get apprenticeships. Is not that a shocking situation? Is not that a shocking commentary on what we are not doing?
We talk about how many millions of pounds have been spent on education; but here are the facts of life. Class rooms are in short supply. Children are still being taught in playgrounds. The parents and citizens association of a high school in my electorate - one of the biggest high schools in the Sydney metropolitan area - has offered the New South Wales Government £8,000 towards the cost of building a gymnasium in the school grounds if that Government will undertake to contribute the rest of the cost. The State Government says that it is unable to do that. A similar position applies in respect of assembly halls, which are part of the apparatus of modern education. They are not available. What has not been done in the name of science education and technical education in the States is a sorry commentary on our order of priorities.
The Labour Party wants a national policy on education. We do not want the Commonwealth to dominate the scene, but we want it to get together with the States in a co-operative mood and plan a genuinely national approach to education in Australia. Such action is necessary not just for the sake of our society and culture but in the interests of the economic development and ultimate defence of this country.
.- Having listened to the sob story that the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has just told us, I think he would confer a benefit on this Parliament if he went back to teaching and gave a helping hand in New South Wales. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) made it quite clear where the difference between the Government and the Opposition on this matter lies. I personally welcome that clear differentiation on this matter. But he made it quite clear - this is in every line of what he said and in every line of the amendment that he moved - that the Opposition takes the view that a Commonwealth government is not fulfilling its national responsibilities, to use the phrase that he used - presumably in anything, but in this case in education - unless one can point to the fact that the Commonwealth is directly contributing grants under section 96 of the Constitution at all stages of the educational programme. That seems to me to differentiate the view of the Opposition from that of the Government. On the contrary, the Government says that it is fulfilling its national responsibilities; that being able to see a particular ear-marked grant is not an adequate criterion of the fulfilment of national responsibilities, particularly under the federal system; and that the government is fulfilling its national responsibilities if progress is being made in the situation as a whole, irrespective of the way in which the funds are provided for that purpose.
I believe it is important that this debate on direct Commonwealth aid for education should be translated from the make-believe terms in which it has been conducted and stripped to its essential elements in realistic terms. The debate should be stripped to the essential elements which have been obscured deliberately by the Australian Labour Party. The two elements in respect of which the protagonists of grants for education under section 96 have been indulging in make-belief or deliberate obscurantism relate, first, to control of the education system and, secondly, to the total amount of money made available.
I will take control first. Many people have said to me that substantial direct grants for primary and secondary education could be made without strings and without Commonwealth control. Indeed, when I have raised this point as an important element in the issue, I have been accused of raising a red herring. At the National Education Conference to which the honorable member for Barton referred, people were told that it was a red herring and that there was no question of Commonwealth control. The honorable member for Barton and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition used those wonderful words “ a co-operative system “. Members of the Opposition, by the use of such terms, have deliberately played down this aspect of the question. They have played it down for very good reasons. It seems to me that when you refer to something as a red herring you mean either that it is not true or that it does not matter. Is it true that there would be Commonwealth control? If it is, does that matter?
This is a question of what would happen in terms of control if the Commonwealth made direct grants for primary and secondary education. If any one in this Parliament or any one in the country believes that any Commonwealth government would make substantial sums of money available directly for something as important as education without having some say in the way in which the money was spent, I confidently assert that he is living in a fool’s paradise. I put myself on record as saying here and now that I for one believe that I would be completely failing in my responsibility to this Parliament and to the people who put me here if I agreed to such a proposition. I imagine that most honorable members would feel the same way. I am referring to Labour members as well as to members of the Government parties, but Labour members here are not prepared to admit it. Recently, however, a prominent Labour member of the South Australian Parliament said straight out that the people who say that direct grants for primary and secondary education would not involve substantial control by the Commonwealth are living in a world of fantasy. Mr. Dunstan, a promiment member of the South Australian Parliament and a member of the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party, went on record in “Hansard” as saying that obviously such grants would mean substantial and direct control.
We need only consider what has happened in respect of the universities. The Commonwealth provides only some of the finance; it certainly does not provide the bulk of it. The States still provide th» bulk of the finance for the universities. Yet the Australian Universities Commission to-day virtually controls, by one means or another, almost everything that the universities do. It controls the standard of buildings, the level of university salaries, the departments that universities will or will not establish and so on. That is the pattern that would develop in primary and secondary education if the Commonwealth were to enter that field. There is no doubt whatsoever that grants under section 96 would mean control. So let us face up to that.
The next question is: Does it matter? I have been wasting my breath if it does not matter. I believe that it does matter and that it matters a very great deal. My view is based only partly and not even mainly on the effect that such grants would have on the federal system, although that is an important consideration. My view is based principally on the belief that our education system is too centralized and bureaucratized already, without such tendencies being taken still further. In my view there is no place in a good education system for the conformity and uniformity that are inevitably imposed by bureaucratic and centralized control. Yet that already exists to an alarming degree in every State. Experimentation and diversity are of the essence of education that is education in the true sense of the word. It is because of this centralization and bureaucracy that so much of our education to-day is not education in the true sense of the word, but merely training. Let us make no mistake about it; it does matter if education becomes still further centralized in Australia. It matters a great deal, because the quality of the education will inevitably decline however much more money is spent in the process.
What about the question of money? This is the other point that I wanted to raise. Is it realistic to assume that if the Commonwealth made direct grants the total expenditure on education would increase at a faster rate than it has in recent years? The proponents of direct Commonwealth aid, I know, have let it be assumed that this can be taken for granted, that anything given by the Commonwealth can be regarded as a net increase on the amount that would otherwise have been spent. Again, I ask the committee to examine the reality of the matter. We in this Parliament at least have a responsibility to do that, even if other members of the community indulge in day dreams. What are the realities? The realities are known to every honorable member in this place. As the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has often said, the amount of rooney that the members of the community through their governments are prepared to spend for any purpose, education included, depends on the priority they give it. What sort of priority have we given and do we give to education? I suggest that it has been considerable and increasing. For more than ten years now, we have been increasing our spending on education at the rate of 25 per cent, every two years. I challenge any one in this chamber to show me a field in which the growth rate has been anything near as consistent and considerable as this.
The fact is that nothing has had as high a priority as education has had in Aus tralia in the last decade. Is it realistic to assume that, with a growth rate of these dimensions, we will in fact get a substantial net increase in spending on education by direct Commonwealth grants? We in this committee at least know that what is given by the right hand can be taken away by the left, that what is given by a direct grant can be taken away by a reduction or more likely by a slowing-down in the increase of revenue grants to the States. While on the question of priorities, let me say that there is nothing more absurd than the picture frequently painted of the poor little States with a proper sense of priorities and responsibilities - with all the virtues at their command - struggling with limited resources to attain them and not being able to achieve their objectives because the wicked Commonwealth has not a proper conception of priorities and its responsibilities. What nonsense! The phenomenal growth rate in education has been possible only because the Commonwealth has been prepared to provide the States with the resources for their own spending on education and has partially taken over some of their responsibilities, which have been very burdensome, in the university field.
Most of the protagonists for direct Commonwealth aid base their arguments on some international comparison of the percentage of national income or gross national product spent on education. These comparisons vary widely. There are half a dozen of them floating around. Many of the figures used, if not all of them, are highly suspect, because they compare different things, because they include different elements in different countries, because some include only public spending on education and others add some estimate of private spending, and because in some countries private education is significant and in others, such as the Scandinavian countries which occupy a high place in all these tables, private education is insignificant.
It is interesting to note that in a recent debate in the South Australian Parliament, of those members on both sides, Opposition and Government, who advocated direct grants for primary and secondary education, not one admitted deficiencies in the South Australian education system. Their arguments were based purely on these international comparisons which, as I have just pointed out, are highly suspect. The only attempt made to put international comparisons on a realistic basis, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, was that of Professor Karmel in his pamphlet. He came to the conclusion that in 1958 we were spending 2.9 per cent, of the gross national product on education. This was less than quite a number of countries admittedly, but it did not put us nearly as far down the scale as some of the other comparisons have done. Professor Karmel pointed to the increase since 1949-50, when the proportion of the gross national product was 2.1 per cent., but concluded that we should be doing more. This point about the proportion of the gross national product is the answer to the argument of the honorable member for Barton about the decline in the value of money.
The point I want to make is that we are doing more. Last year the figure reached was 3.5 per cent. Who can doubt that this year, with the increase in sums available to the States it will be pushed even higher? Surely, it is the rate of increase in the proportion of our resources going into education that is important. This rather than a total figure is the yardstick of our consciousness of the importance of education and of the priority we are, and have been, giving to it. Who can say that we are failing in our duty when such large increases are taking place both in amounts spent and in the proportion of the gross national product? We would be failing in our duty certainly if the resources were not provided to maintain the increase at least at the same rate until we are satisfied that everything required has been done. In the meantime, it is grossly immoral for responsible people to suggest that when increases of this order are taking place, there will be more money in total for education even if the Commonwealth comes into the primary and secondary field directly.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- This discussion revolves around the situation that must be faced by every Australian. The main point of argument seems to be: Who has the responsibility for education? If we take a similar view to that expressed by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), we will have a situation in which we put federation before education. We will not get anywhere while the Government persists in the view that it holds on this subject. Therefore, I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The argument of the honorable member for Barker, based on Professor Karmel’s analysis of the proportion of the gross national product we are spending on education, shows, as the honorable member has suggested, that anything can be done with figures. He has assumed that there has been no improvement in the countries that have been compared with Australia. He has made a false analysis of the situation. We can see how unreal.iable the honorable gentleman’s figures are when we have a close look at them.
The responsibility for education, in my view, rests with both the State and Commonwealth Governments. If we do not realize this, we will inevitably be faced with the difficulties that have crept into the educational system over the last few years. We .may have given a lot of thought to education, but we have done very little about it. It is only by a reasonable investigation of the situation by those associated with education that we can arrive at any conclusion. I think that every authority that has reported on education has said that a crisis exists and that the crisis will get worse as the population increases, until about 1970. That being the case, we will have to be realistic about the position. We must realise that if we are going to do anything with this small country of ours we must make the necessary investment in education. It is quite obvious to any one who has seriously considered the situation that ignorance and poverty seem to run hand in glove. They seem to be bedfellows. If we are prepared to dream on and let the existing conditions prevail, it will be to our disadvantage and no one else’s. In addition, it will be to some one else’s advantage if we allow ourselves to drift into a situation in which we have low standards of technical and other kinds of education.
This is the responsibility not only of the Commonwealth but also of the State governments. One may well ask whether the existing system measures up to what is required. In every State we find that the system is failing to meet the demands placed on it. Have we enough teachers? Have we enough equipment? Have we as many schools as are required? Have we an adequate number of teachers trained in the correct manner so as to give the required lessons in the proper way? The answer to all these questions is plainly, “ No “. I do not care what State you go to, what school authority or what university authority; you will get the same answer, “ No, we have not the teachers, we have not sufficient room, we have not enough equipment “. This is the situation in respect of all kinds of education, primary, secondary and university.
To talk of education being the responsibility of the Stale governments and not of the Commonwealth Government seems to me to be so much eyewash and humbug. This is the kind of negative thinking that one learns to associate with the present Government’s attitude to many important problems in this country. The system that is in existence now has been investigated and found wanting by all kinds of people. We remember that in 1958, when the Murray committee conducted its investigations and the Australian Universities Commission was established, grants to universities were trebled, and this increased amount in fact proved inadequate. There are very many boys and girls of university standard, and with the right mental approach to academic careers, who are denied admission to our universities. We cannot afford to lose these people. We cannot afford to allow such conditions to continue. We have to come back to reality and realise that if we continue in this way our country will be well down on academic ability.
The situation is worsened by the immigration programme as well as by our natural increase in population. The immigration policy has made it necessary for us to provide schooling for people not born here and who wish to become good Australians. We are not offering adequate educational facilities to these people, and this may be why, in many instances, they are taking their children back to their native countries or to other countries.
But the answer to the problem is not to be found in talking about and criticising the present system. What do we intend to do about it? Are we going to argue here whether it is a matter for the
States or for the Commonwealth? Arc we to be completely negative in our approach, or are we going to adopt the suggestion put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that the Government establish a committee to investigate the needs of primary, secondary and technical education and of teacher training?
There is one aspect of training on which I have not touched so far. I refer to technical training. I believe our apprenticeship system is a relic of medieval times, or at least of the elden days when a lad was taken from his parents and put into bondage or almost slavery for several years and taught a trade. We still have that kind of system, although the conditions of apprentices are not as they were in those olden days But we are not producing the kind of trained personnel that we should. When we took our engineers to the Snowy Mountains project we found that about 30 per cent, of the time of professional engineers was being wasted on work that could well be done by semi-technical men. We also found that many of the leading engineers, who had to be imported to this country in some instances, had to spend their time in giving training to some of the other officers, not so highly skilled, before they could get on with the work on which they were really required.
Of all the trades and callings in this country there are only about two, those of the electrician and the plumber, in which one can undertake a course and obtain a certificate as a result of an examination to show that one has had training to a certain standard. Unfortunately, apprentices in the past have frequently been regarded as units of production rather than learners. Employers who have adopted that kind of attitude have resented boys and girls attending classes at technical colleges. They have regarded such instruction as a waste of time. We have to remove that kind of attitude. I believe that each and every student turned out by a technical college should have had the highest standard of training. The training should be done in a different manner altogether from that which is given at the present time.
Some of the larger firms in England have adopted the right approach. They have regarded their apprentices as
Important assets in their business. They have looked on them as people who after a time would repay them well for the extra attention given them as learners in the trade schools. They have realized that they would eventually become men who could take their places in the factories and produce the required goods. That attitude has not been adopted in Australia in many cases. There are some rare undertakings in which such an approach has been adopted. The Mount Morgan undertaking is one where apprentices are treated in this way.
But this, of course, is not the whole story. There is a shortage of technical training facilities in places that are removed from large industrial centres. The result is that in some of those places you finish up with half-trained tradesmen on your hands, when what you need are thoroughly trained men. We must consider this aspect of the matter because Australia must look to its secondary industries and adopt a scientific approach if it is to fulfil its obligations to its near neighbours to the north and improve its trade relations with them. We must make ourselves a place of learning for the people of the countries to the north if they wish to come here and learn. The answer to the problems of those countries is not to be found in federations such as that which has just been established; rather is it to be found in the education of the people.
Education in Australia is not the responsibility only of State governments; it is also the responsibility of this Commonwealth Government. After all, this is the Government that collects the taxes and distributes the money to the States. It is the one that makes available grants and loan funds for various aspects of development in the States. It is up to us to regard education as our responsibility not only to the people who are now at school but also to those who will be there in years to come, because the foundation must be laid to-day. As the population increases the demand will be even greater and the expenditure necessary will have to increase. If present conditions continue to prevail we will tend to slip further behind many other countries. Our proportion of national income spent on education is now well down the scale. It is certainly below the figures for New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and possibly even for
Sweden and Denmark. We have had figures for many countries cited in this regard. These figures were more or less rubbished by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes); nevertheless, they have been prepared by many experts, and I would accept the figures of the experts in preference to the opinion of the honorable member for Barker. The proportion of national income spent on education is from 2 per cent, to 3 per cent, higher in those countries than in Australia. If countries with much greater experience and much older traditions than we have are prepared to spend so much of their national income on education, why should we argue about whether education is a matter for the States or for the Federal Government?
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department are at present before the committee. I propose to address myself to that part of those estimates which relates to the Commonwealth Office of Education and to discuss certain points that have been the subject of debate this afternoon.
The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) has just expressed regret at the fact that more apprentices are not coming forward to enter trades and that more provision is not being made to train apprentices. I should just like to remind my friends on the Opposition side of the chamber, including the honorable member for Cowper, that there is another side to the story. In days gone by, unfortunately, apprentices were so exploited as to cause the trade unions, in self-defence, gradually to enforce demands that led to a situation in which only a limited number of apprentices could be admitted to any trade, and then only with the consent of the unions involved. Unfortunately, as I found during my term as Minister for Education in New South Wales, that situation has forced us to bring trained tradesmen from overseas to make good the shortage of trained men in Australia, while, at the same time, the bright boys who would willingly have undertaken apprenticeship have been barred from doing so because of the position taken up by the unions.
I do not rail at what the trade unions did in earlier days. Their action was only one outcome of a struggle in which they had a good deal of right on their side. But it is unfortunate, as I know from my own personal experience, that the old tradition still lingers and blocks the path of many bright boys who would like to go into trades. This, of course, includes those trades in which, as I think the honorable member for Cowper himself said, conditions are archaic.
I want to address myself particularly to a White Paper entitled “The Commonwealth and Education “ that was presented by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on 6th November last. I think it is well to note that there are two sides to this problem of education. First, financial provision for education throughout Australia was hopelessly inadequate to provide the buildings, equipment and other requirements needed to meet the demands of a swiftly-changing age. I pay tribute to the Prime Minister and his colleagues - but particularly to the right honorable gentleman, because I believe that the leadership in this field has come from him - for the way in which they have rapidly adjusted themselves to the requirements of modern education. They have displayed a remarkable measure of sympathy with the needs of education. Indeed, they have done much more than display sympathy. They have extended a great deal of practical assistance in difficult circumstances. I do not think that the situation is helped by trying to bring extraneous issues into the debate.
The Prime Minister, in his White Paper, pointed out that between 1951 and 1952 enrolments in primary and secondary schools increased by 65 per cent., in universities by 76 per cent, and in teachers’ colleges and technical colleges in similar proportion. He reminded us that, at the same time, there had been a remarkable diversification in the provision for education and a tremendous increase in the cost of all kinds of education owing to the development of new technologies and particularly to the demands of science. He mentioned the changes in the structure of secondary education and the introduction of new courses at technical colleges and universities.
In 1950-51, the States spent £46,000,000 on education. In 1960-61, their expendi ture had increased by 300 per cent, to £184,000,000. Such a great increase has some appearance of keeping up with expanding demands. But, alas, we were so far behind where we should have been when we started increasing our provision for education after the war, due to the war and other causes, that we are still, as it were, labouring in the trough.
The Commonwealth has given great practical assistance in education. In 1950-51, when the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme began, £400,000 was allocated to it. Bv 1960-61, the allocation exceeded £2,600,000. In 1950-51, the Commonwealth granted £2,500,000 to the States for universities, compared with £17,000,000 in 1960-61. In addition, the Commonwealth has made certain additional provision to which I shall refer later if time permits.
The Commonwealth has also assisted education in other ways. The tax deduction allowed in respect of each dependent child between the ages of 16 and 21 receiving full-time education at a school, college or university was costing revenue about £750,000 a year by 1960-61, and the deductions allowed for expenses incurred in connexion with the full-time education of children under 21 cost revenue about £14,000,000 in the same financial year. This assistance has been a tremendous boon to those living in country districts who, willy-nilly, had to go some distance to attend school.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, I can recall no reference in this debate to the position of the independent schools, whose case I have pleaded in this chamber and elsewhere on many occasions. I noticed that one previous speaker carefully side-stepped any mention of them. Why? According to the Prime Minister’s White Paper, in i960 primary and secondary school enrolments totalled 2,100,000, of whom 1,600.000 attended government schools. The remaining 500,000 were attending independent schools. So, when we get down to facts, we find that one child in every four is sent to an independent school. Therefore, the parents of one child in every four not only pay a considerable amount for the education of the child but also contribute their share of taxes for the upkeep of government schools. My friends opposite clamour - and rightly so, I believe - for greater expenditure from tax revenue on State schools.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) touched on this point in a very interesting way when he mentioned that Australia rated fairly low in the list in terms of the proportion of national income spent on education, compared with countries such as Sweden, where there are practically no private schools. By implication, this has . a bearing on what I propose to say. The implication is that if, broadly speaking, one child in every four is educated at no cost to either the Commonwealth or a State, obviously, the total contribution by the Commonwealth and the States to education will be proportionately lower than is government expenditure on education in some other countries. There are certain modifying factors to which I shall refer, but broadly that is the position.
Now let me take this a little further. According to the 1961 report of the New South Wales Minister for Education, the cost to the government of each student in State schools, primary and secondary, excluding the capital cost of buildings but including maintenance, is £108 a year. For the sake of simplicity, Jet us take the figure as £100 and assume that that is also the cost of each student in our independent schools. Taking the round figure of 500,000 children in independent schools, the Commonwealth and the States would be faced with an additional expenditure of £50,000,000 a year if the independent schools handed over their children and said, “ You educate them “. 1 point out that the amount of £50,000,000 a year does not take account of the cost of the schools themselves. If that is considered to be a fair deal, if that is thought to be one of the things which will make for peace and harmony and for a high standard of education, I cannot find any basis for that reasoning. 1 am looking at this matter objectively. I find it extraordinary that honorable members who can almost weep tears about other subjects, as I saw some Opposition numbers do last night, cannot find one word to say about this rank injustice to onequarter of the children of this country. You might say, “ Let them go to the public schools “. 1 have pointed out that if the independent schools said to the State governments, “Take our children immediately and educate them “, the States would be faced with a bill for £50,000,000 a year. These are the facts, and it is just as well for honorable members to face them.
I believe there is a strong prima facie case for an inquiry into ways and means of giving assistance to independent schools without interfering with the normal development of our public school system. Most reasonable people agree that there is a great necessity for two independent streams of education because otherwise we would have a completely regimented and stereotyped system based upon rule and regulation. The independent schools, which educate onequarter of our children, maintain a balance in the standards. One can be judged against and be modified by the other. Those who condemn any approach to this matter are either deluding themselves or are exhibiting smug hypocrisy. If they are deluding themselves, I shall give them some facts. Almost since its inception the Commonwealth has granted funds to church missions to enable them to carry out their valuable work. There is no trouble about this aspect of education in Queensland, because for years that State has maintained a most generous bursary system by which bursaries are tenable at all schools. This largely bridges the gap. There is a minor system in New South Wales which makes no real impact upon the problem. These facts show that all the talk to the effect that if you do something for the independent schools you will make people bitter and split the community is ill-founded.
I pass on to the point that one of the best investments that could be made would be to give the independent schools a real encouragement to carry on. It is not right to say: “We recognize the value of what you are doing, but we will not give you any financial assistance. We will continue to tax you and make you continue to carry the double burden.” No nation can afford to disregard the claims of the parents of onequarter of its children. If you want something that will create bitterness through a sense of injustice, you have it in the present arrangement.
My time has virtually expired. I point out that nothing I have said is a criticism of this Government, which has done more than most others in this respect. Nothing I have said means that I underrate the education problem and what is needed to bring the education system up to date. I believe in fair play and bonny play.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is always a great pleasure to listen to the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) and to follow him in a debate. We on this side of the chamber acknowledge that he has had a very long and valuable experience in parliamentary life. As a former Minister for Education in the State sphere, what he has to say concerning matters of education generally must be given some credence by every honorable member. I want to refer to his statements in relation to assistance to independent schools. I remind him that the Government already has had the opportunity to provide practical assistance. This could be done in two ways. A measure of financial assistance could be accorded to large families by means of child endowment, but the Government did not grasp the opportunity which was open to it a few weeks ago to provide that assistance. I am sure the honorable member would agree with me that an increase in child endowment would be deeply appreciated, particularly by those people who have large families and are faced with the problem of educating them. This would be a practical and logical method of assisting them.
Order! I ask the honorable member not to pursue that line of argument. We are discussing the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, not the subject of child endowment.
– On the question of assistance to independent schools, I remind the Government that for several years it has been the accepted policy of the Australian Labour Party to provide scholarships for children, irrespective of the schools that they attend. We recognize that the important thing is to ensure that every boy and girl has an opportunity to obtain the best education available. Extending the scope of Commonwealth scholarships would be a further practical means of providing the assistance that we agree is needed.
Having made those remarks, I now pass to the amendment which has been proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). We welcome the opportunity which is given each year during the debate on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department to deal broadly with the question of education. I am happy to say that since I have been in this Parliament there has been a greatly increased interest shown by members generally in this important aspect of government administration. Some years ago education was a matter that was left entirely to the Commonwealth Office of Education, which annually submitted a report to the Parliament and there the matter rested. But all honorable members can appreciate that in recent years there has been an increased interest in education on the part of not only this Parliament but also outside organizations. For this reason the Opposition welcomes the opportunity each year to debate the subject of education. Wc will continue to . do so until the Government accepts that measure of responsibility which we believe it should accept in the field of education.
I concede, as I am sure other honorable members will concede, that the Government is entitled to some credit for what it has been able to achieve in the field of tertiary education, but this does not necessarily mean that the Government has fulfilled its responsibility in that respect. The Government still has a long way to go. I agree with the statement of the honorable member for New England that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) is entitled to some of the credit for the achievements that have been made in tertiary education, but all of us who heard the right honorable gentleman present to this Parliament a White Paper, “The Commonwealth and Education “ are aware that it dealt with only certain aspects of tertiary education in this country. The White Paper referred in passing to primary, secondary and technical education, but no argument has been presented to the Parliament by the Prime
Minister, or by any other honorable member opposite, that convinces us or interested organizations outside the Parliament that a reasonable case has not been made out why the Government should accept a far greater responsibility in the field of education.
The Prime Minister’s White Paper ignored the increased expenditure on education that the States must face. As the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) pointed out this afternoon, it is completely irrelevant to compare the amount of finance made available to the States in loans and in other ways in 1949 with the amount made available to-day unless one has regard to the greatly increased population and to the greatly increased costs with which the States are confronted. While we concede that a greater allocation has been made to the States, it must be apparent that the States are not able, in 1962 or 1963, to make a greater proportion of that money available to education than they were able to do in 1949, because the increase in population has not only resulted in greatly increased expenditure for education departments but also affected other State instrumentalities. Just as the increase in population has placed a greater strain on the education authorities, so too it has placed a greater strain on the resources of transport and health authorities, to mention only two. It is obvious, therefore, that the Commonwealth must participate to a greater extent in education generally.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the Prime Minister’s speech on the Budget. He spoke most disparagingly in my opinion and, I am sure, in the opinion of many honorable members, concerning the status of teachers and their right, particularly in Victoria, even to express an opinion on these matters. I and some of my colleagues from this side of the House had the opportunity of attending in May this year a conference of various teacher, student and parents and friends, organizations, held in the Melbourne Exhibition Building. Present at that conference were 4,000 delegates from all over the Commonwaelth and they discussed various aspects of education. I am sure that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) would have appreciated the views that were expressed at that conference. It ill becomes the Prime Minister to criticize the people who attended that conference. The delegates, who I feel sure represented all political opinions, expressed the view that to-day in Australia the Commonwealth should participate to a greater extent in education generally.
What is the effect of the Opposition’s amendment? The amendment states that first the Opposition believes a committee of inquiry similar to the Murray committee should be appointed by the Government. The recommendations in the Murray committee’s report to this Parliament were, with very few exceptions, accepted by the Government and put into effect. The results that flowed from that report were magnificent if one considers the improvements that have been effected. We believe that a similar inquiry should be held into primary, secondary and technical education in the various States.
Reference has been made this afternoon to the expenditure on education expressed as a percentage of our gross national product compared with the relevant expenditure in other countries. To-day Australia is spending 2.9 per cent, of her gross national product on education. The United States of America is spending 4.5 per cent. The Netherlands, which is a country similar to Australia in terms of population and industrial capacity, is spending 4.2 per cent, of her gross national product in this field. Canada, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom are spending 3.7 per cent. In terms of achievements in universities, Australia is providing seventeen graduates in science and engineering out of every 10,000 students attending our universities. The United Kingdom provides 26, the United States 45 and the Soviet Union 70 in every 10,000. The Commonwealth must therefore accept a greater responsibility in technical education particularly.
Sufficient evidence has been presented to the Government to show that there is a serious need for something to be done about technical education in this country. It must recognize the fact that the States are no longer able to supply the equipment that is necessary or to replace the obsolete buildings that are now being used in all State educational systems. The Government must recognize the problems that exist. It must forget that it has consistently used the Constitution to escape its obligations in this regard.
The Opposition’s amendment deserves the support of the Government. In particular, it deserves the support of those honorable members opposite who in the past have shown a passing interest in the subject of education. As I have shown whatever standards one applies in comparing our educational system with the systems that exist in other countries, we must admit that we lag far behind the achievements of those other countries. I believe that the amendment that has been proposed on this occasion is well merited. It has the support of the teachers’ organizations and of the parents’ and friends’ associations in every State of the Commonwealth. These organizations have no other interest than to ensure that every boy and girl in this country who has the ability to reach a high standard of education is given the opportunity to do so. They know, just as we know, that at the present time there are insufficient Commonwealth scholarships made available to give every boy and girl that opportunity. Any one who cares to examine the position will find that the ratio of Commonwealth scholarships to the number of matriculation students has fallen considerably below what it was a few years ago. The Government should recognize that this campaign which has been conducted by various interested organizations for a number of years now is a worth while one and the proposals made in it should be given effect.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) like other members of his party, is basing his argument on two false assumptions. The first is that all that is needed to cure the deficiencies in our educational system is the greater expenditure of public money. The second is that our Australian educational standards seriously lag behind those of other countries. As the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) has said, in making comparisons in relation to this matter, whether on the basis of the proportion of the national income spent on education or any other basis, we can fall into all kinds of traps. In fact, more often than not, we end by comparing like with unlike. For instance, when we talk about the num- ber of graduates turned out, it is essential that we be precise about the kind of graduate, his standard, the age at which he is being turned out, and so on.
Everybody must admit that not all is perfect in our Australian educational system. There is great room for improvement, and I do not think there is any one in this chamber who will disagree for one moment with the words of Sir Winston Churchill when he said -
The prizes will not go to the countries with the largest populations; they will go to those wilh the best systems of education.
While our child population is increasing at a far greater rate than is the number of teachers, who must necessarily come from the previous generation, it is a far fetched notion to suggest that we can lift up the standard of our educational system merely by the expenditure of money. Since international comparisons have been made, I remind honorable members that the problem we are experiencing is being encountered in almost similar degree in almost every country in the western world. What we have to look at is whether we are making progress. Of course, we can always make more progress though I suppose we will never reach the perfect. I should like to quote figures relating to the last four years. These figures, if any one should be disposed to question them, have been taken from the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure which was circulated with the Budget Papers. They relate to expenditure on education by all public authorities. As will be appreciated, there is a great deal of expenditure by independent schools and other bodies outside government authorities. Let us compare one period with another in order to measure whether we are in fact making progress in education. Tables 12 and 1.4 as published in the White Paper contain respectively figures for current and capital expenditure per annum on education in Australia over a recent period, when prices were stable. Certainly during that period there was an increase in the number of school children. The tables disclosed that in 1958-59 expenditure on education by all public authorities in Australia was £152,000,000, and that by 1962-63 the figure had increased to £237,000,000. In other words, there was an increase of £85,000,000 in the space of four years.
To put it another way, there was an expansion of 56 per cent, in public expenditure on education in Australia in that period of four years. What kind of rate of increase does the Opposition think is practicable?
The other great red herring, which unfortunately has confused a large number of honest, zealous people interested in education, is that once you get a Commonwealth inquiry on the subject all will be well, that this great Commonwealth inquiry into primary, secondary and tertiary education is the answer to everything. Because of this mistaken belief, all other problems are sidetracked in the blind rush to press for the appointment of a Commonwealth committee of inquiry. Of course there are plenty of weaknesses in our educational system. We do not need a national inquiry to find that out. There is an acute shortage of trained teachers, especially in the higher secondary and lower tertiary fields. Again, there is certainly an insufficient variety of courses and educational opportunities. There is a great shortage of tertiary education opportunities for students of the nonacademic type. Another grave weakness is that we arc flooding our universities with all kinds of people for whom there are no other forms of tertiary education and so tending to dilute standards.
There is also the grave weakness imposed by the monolithic bureaucratic nature of our State educational systems. Apparently, instead of having six monolithic systems, the Opposition would like to have one and so take further away from the parents and others immediately concerned with the education of children an opportunity of deciding what educational policy should be pursued. The whole tenor of the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was to advocate support of the trend to uniformity. He sought to push it a further degree. The very essence of true education is variety, spontaneity and different approaches to life.
If I may refer to the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, I would point out that it is notable that in the bits and pieces which come within the education responsibilities of that department there is to be an increase in expenditure from £8,140,000 to £9,240,000. The total direct expenditure by the Commonwealth on universities, through the States and its own agencies will be increased this year from £23,850,000 to £27,220,000. Since 1951, the Commonwealth has provided over £86,000,000 for Australian universities. Whereas five years ago the Commonwealth provided only £7,000,000, this year it proposes to provide almost £18,000,000, and this figure will be increased vastly in the near future because, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) pointed out in his Budget speech, the triennium report of the Australian Universities Commission is to be published shortly. It will relate to the 1944-66 triennium, and I am sure there is no one in this House who can doubt that when the report is submitted it will have a very large bill tacked to it. Again, mention has been made of provision for Commonwealth scholarships. As the Treasurer also pointed out, provision for open entrance scholarships will be reviewed at the same time by the Australian Universities Commission; so that we can expect that this, too, will mean a rise in the education bill.
Our achievements so far have been consistently belittled by members of the Opposition and, if I may, I should like to refer to a few remarks make by a man in a position of practical political responsibility in the Labour Party. I refer to Mr. Weatherell, the New South Wales Minister for Education. I would like honorable members to think back to the position of universities a few years ago. He is reported recently to have said that, despite the flood of new students entering universities, the three existing New South Wales universities expected to be able to enroll all those applying for admission next year. That is the statement of the New South Wales Minister for Education. He is reported to have said also that the Australian Universities Commission had assured the State government that sufficient moneys would be supplied to the University of New South Wales to allow it to meet all expected increases in demands for enrolment between 1964 and 1966. It is well known that a huge bulge is expected in the numbers likely to seek admission to universities, particularly in the period from 1964 to 1966. Yet so great has been the increase in expenditure and in the attention given to education, very largely initiated by the Commonwealth Government, that the position is likely to bc met.
Reference was made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to the capacity of the States to increase expenditure on education. It is interesting, therefore, to note the figures. There are other things they would like to do, but not always is money the problem. One of the weaknesses of the educational system is that it has expanded so fast in recent years that a lot of money has been wastefully directed. Perhaps this is inevitable in any rapidly expanding situation.
In the four-year period, from 1957-58 to 1961-62 - the last year for which full comparable figures are available for the States - expenditure from the consolidated revenue funds of the State on education rose from just over £100,000,000 in 1957-58 to £156,700,000 in 1961-62. Loan funds devoted to education over the same period rose from £24,700,000 to £44,500,000. The totals were about £125,000,000 in 1957-58 and about £201,000,000 in 1961-62. In a period of only four years expenditure rose by over 60 per cent. These figures do not denote perfection but they portray very effectively the progress which has been made in at least one respect - in allocating public funds for the purpose of education.
I would like to conclude my remarks by making a plea that, while bringing about this enormous increase in educational facilities, particularly those of the universities, we do not allow ourselves to be beguiled into considering only the education of the whole population and the provision of opportunities for all. That is highly important, but it should not be allowed to obscure the fact that in that process the character of our universities could be very radically changed. This must happen if universities, instead of being looked at primarily as a means of education, as was the case in the past, are looked at chiefly from the point of view that they are a means of vocational training. In any community about one-half of 1 per cent. of the population are the mainspring of the nation’s intellectual, social and moral progress. This very tiny proportion, representing our most talented people, should not be allowed to be submerged in the great flood which is now reaching the universities. I hope that by some means or other the Government will ensure that our potential leaders, those in the first flight, will be given a different and perhaps more elaborately endowed education than could possibly be given to everybody. The worst thing our educational system could do would be to fall into the hands of one Commonwealthdominated group. Already the Australian Universities Commission stamps its own ideas on universities throughout the Commonwealth. It would be a hideous thing if, as a result of direct Commonwealth grants to State schools, the same thing applied to general education throughout the country. The last thing we should do in this day and age is to concentrate on producing automatons for automation.
.- I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 90).]
Mr. Chairman, Customs Tariff Proposals No. 90 which I have just tabled, are consequent on recommendations by a special advisory authority, whose report I shall table later this day.
Temporary duties are imposed on certain bleached or coloured sheetings of cotton or in chief part by weight of cotton weighing not less than 3 ounces per square yard and not more than 7 ounces per square yard when for use as bed sheeting or pillow casing or in the making up of bed sheets or pillow cases. The temporary duties will not be payable on the dearer range of fabrics in the 4 to 7 ounce area, nor to any fabrics in direct transit to Australia on 19th August, 1963, which are entered for home consumption on arrival.
The normal protective needs of this industry have been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report, and the temporary duties will operate only until such time as the Government takes action upon receipt of the final report of the board. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Mr. FAIRHALL (Paterson - Minister for
Supply). - I present a report by a special advisory authority on the following subject: -
Cotton bed sheeting and pillow casing.
Ordered to be printed.
– I desire to correct an inaccurate statement I made to the House on 22nd August in my speech on the Budget. I was discussing in particular the graphic arts industry. I said -
I have in my hand a photostat copy of a letter written by the secretary of the Federated Photo Engravers, Photo Lithographers and Photogravure Employees Association of Australia, Mr. W. Ryan. He wrote to the trade journal in the United Kingdom and asked that his letter be published.
Then I quoted what he wrote, and my next comment was -
This is written by a member of the Australian Labour Party, which supposedly supports the immigration programme.
In this context, I mentioned two other points about the graphic arts industry. The first was the general employment conditions and the second was about that letter.
Before making the statement that Mr. Ryan was a member of the Australian Labour Party, I checked with two sources which I had hitherto regarded as impeccable, and I was informed that he was in fact a member of the Australian Labour Party. I have since found out that Mr. Ryan is not a member of that party. I have discussed the matter with him. I should like to take this opportunity to apologize to him for incorrectly designating him. I said that I would make this statement in the House. I have also told him that I will be happy to write a letter to him apologizing publicly for my error.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1206).
.- The reason for the Labour Party’s attitude to this proposed vote is stated clearly enough in the assertion accompanying the motion by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), which states -
During the last few hours honorable members opposite have been giving reasons why they should not support our viewpoint. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) described how wonderful things were in Victoria. I believe it should be made clear to the people of Australia that, in many aspects of education - not so much in the actual technical or professional work that goes on in the school room, but in the State Government’s approach to education - Victoria lags seriously behind New South Wales, for instance. I can prove that statement from figures. I can also prove it by a study of both administrative systems.
One of the interesting commentaries on the Australian education scene is the number of people in the universities. I have not the relevant figures with me at the moment. I added them up yesterday. The most recently released figures show that there are about 26,000 students at universities in New South Wales and only about 12,000 or 13,000 students at universities in Victoria. There is a substantially lower proportion of the population at universities in Victoria than in New South Wales. There is probably no better measure of the success of an education system than the number and proportion of the population that it manages to take through to the top of that system.
Whilst in a short debate such as this there is no time to relate all the discrepancies and all the needs, they are there for people who care to study them to see. There are substantial differences between the opportunities offered to various Australian citizens through the education system. That fact should be the concern of this Parliament. What we of the Labour Party are looking for, first, Mr. Chairman, is a national policy on education. In fact, the first item of the education policy adopted by the Labour Party at its recent conference in Perth states -
The Australian Labour Party recognizes that education is a national responsibility which demands the enunciation of a national policy.
We on this side of the chamber say that this is a national question and that there are no hidey-holes in the Constitution in which we can escape our national responsibility. This is an enterprise of great magnitude. There are about 2,000,000 children in Australian schools; 1,500,000 of them are in State schools and 500,000 of them are in non-State schools. We have about 7,000 government schools and about 2,000 non-government schools. The expenditure on education is a couple of hundred million pounds a year. There are about 60,000 teachers in the State school system and about 18,000 or 19,000 in the nonState school system. This is the largest social enterprise in the community. It involves all people between the ages of six years and sixteen years, or thereabouts, and the parents of a large proportion of the community. This committee should reject the arguments of people who say that education is not the responsibility of this Parliament and that everything in the garden is lovely and wonderful. We say that it is imperative and a national duty to take up the question of education at the Commonwealth level.
The second point in the amendment refers to the necessity for the establishment of a committee of inquiry. Obviously the Government is afraid to appoint a committee of inquiry because such a committee would establish the need for financial action and eventually direct responsibility. Surely there is sufficient evidence in the Governments appointment of committees to inquire into this, that and the other thing, such as decimal coinage and the state of the economy. But this fundamental enterprise - education - which involves about one-fifth of the population in the schools, about half of the population as parents or scholars, and the whole future of the nation, as honorable members opposite so often but platitudinously relate in this chamber, is being ignored and the need for a national inquiry into it is being ignored, too.
There are so many things that this Government ought to do and which only a Commonwealth government can do. Let us consider for a minute the calling together of the Ministers for Education of the Commonwealth of Australia. They gather at Canberra or somewhere else. There are the six Ministers from the States, The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) ought to be there, but in the ordinary course of events he cannot be there. One cannot expect the Prime Minister to deal with the kind of day-to-day administration that education involves. The Commonwealth is pretty heavily committed in the field of education. The schools in the Australian Capital Territory are under the effective control of the Minister for Education in New South Wales. The schools in the Northern Territory are under the effective control of the Minister for Education in South Australia. That is an abdication of our responsibility. About twelve or thirteen Commonwealth departments are connected with avenues of educational research. Those activities include the School of Forestry and the Australian School of Pacific Administration. There is also our duly - so far almost neglected, I am afraid - to the people of Papua and New Guinea. So there are tremendous Commonwealth responsibilities.
Our view is that there should be a Commonwealth ministry of education. That point was adopted as national Labour policy at the last federal conference in Perth. This is not an attempt to bureaucratize, regiment, centralize or create monolithic structures of which the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) spoke. The point is co-operation. The Labour Party is not concerned with coercion; cooperation is its line of business.
Education is a new enterprise or sphere into which the Commonwealth may enter. We believe that one of the first actions that should be taken in this field is the establishment of a Commonwealth ministry of education. It should be a far-going department with clearly defined responsibilities. The Commonwealth has adopted this principle in such spheres as shipping, transport and health. Obviously, the proper co-operation between the Commonwealth and States in those fields is not at the level that the Labour Party would produce; but the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport and the Commonwealth Department of Health are going concerns.
As I said, education is one of the most important social enterprises in the community. It must have the right kind of endeavour. When we speak of a national policy, we do not mean government policy. We mean an integration of Australian attitudes on education. The answers will not be the same at Cairns in Queensland as they are at Carnarvon in Western Australia; but the various places will have the same kinds of problems and the same amount of resources ought to be at the disposal of the people who are going through the education system.
We have to give education a higher priority. Recently I visited Perth. The thing that astonished me was the magnificent building at the Perth airport. I am all for magnificent buildings. I was told that that building cost £470,000. Has anybody ever seen a school that cost that amount of money? A maximum of 450 or 500 passengers pass through that airport each day. They are at the airport for twenty minutes or so before their planes depart, and for ten or fifteen minutes after their planes arrive. So for air travellers the Commonwealth spends at the rate of £1,000 per head per hour. Does anybody know of any education system that is able to spend that kind of money on the occupants of its schools? Of course not!
There should be an uplifting of the national priorities. We are drifting into decimal coinage. As a former teacher, and speaking for the members of the profession who teach arithmetic, I have no doubt that this will be a big advantage. But it will cost some £30,000,000. This amount would be much more than some of the States allot for education. It would build a large number of high schools. It would build a university that would be able to handle 10,000 students. By the time the Monash University is completed and able to handle 20,000 students, which unfortunately will not be for a good number of years, some £66,000,000 will have been spent on it.
There is a problem of priorities that only the Commonwealth can solve. Only the Commonwealth has the resources to do so and only the Commonwealth can build the kind of schools that we have in Canberra. Only the Commonwealth can bring the States and the Commonwealth together in a rational national approach to this subject. But a different approach is being continually advocated by people such as the honorable member for Wentworth, who unfortunately is unable to bring to this problem any vision or imagination. All he can see is just another tremendous Commonwealth department. That, of course, is nonsense.
We must face the fact that no research is being undertaken on education. The estimates show that the allocation to the Australian Council for Educational Research is only £7,500 for this year, or the equivalent of the cost of one and a half ministerial trips overseas. Yet this is the fundamental research institution for education in Australia. Some research is proceeding in the universities and a handful of people in the States are doing some research. But this is nothing when compared with the tremendous amount of research that goes into, say, tobacco production and various aspects of the dairying industry. If we take a trip to Woomera we can see what we are doing in the field of research into electronics and associated activities. But when we come to education, we move into a field that is largely unexplored. We do not know how people learn, the system of recall, the quality of the effort required or how to estimate the attainments of students.
This is one of the challenges to this country. It is a challenge that is being accepted all over the world. It is fair enough to say that there is not much difference in the effort being used in classrooms from one end of the world to the other. Some countries have more success in teaching, say, languages than we have. This is reasonable enough. Our lines of communication with people who speak other languages are so meagre that Australian children are not very concerned with languages. But here there are some fundamental questions to be answered. The honorable member for Wentworth may well concern himself with knocking over the idea of a monolithic education system. But how can we bring together the ideas of the local education authorities and the local people who take a part in education, and the resources, the drive and the dynamics of the larger body? This has not been resolved completely in any of the western countries. Britain is continually rationalizing its local education authorities. It has reduced their number by hundreds over the last few years. This is also happening in America and in Canada, where education authorities are being concentrated. But in Canada there are a few instances of small education authorities working successfully.
There is a world of study to be done, even on the administrative side. It is not merely a matter of money. In the classroom what should we teach, for how long should we teach it and how should we measure the effort? These are important considerations. Matriculation is a question that is continually before us. At what stage should students enter a university? The honorable member for Wentworth raised this question. He said that the social drive comes from a very small proportion of the community - about half of one per cent. The people who drive a community forward are not always the intellectual geniuses of the community; the people who do this may be of any type. But generally speaking the people in the half of one per cent, that the honorable member referred to will look after themselves. We should be concerned with the remainder, with those who will nol get over high hurdles but may get over moderate hurdles.
We must diversify our tertiary education. We must open new fields of adult education. I have spoken to dozens of adults who, for various reasons, have had their opportunities late in life. There is no reason at all why a person’s whole future should be committed at sixteen, seventeen or eighteen years of age. People at 28, 38 or 48 years of age may well take up new fields of endeavour and be successful. One of my friends who returned from the services started on his university course when he was aged 42 years and he now has a high position in the Victorian Department of Education. We must throw overboard reams and reams of habits, prejudices and ideas and start afresh. In this country, we ought be able to do so. But the only body that can possibly undertake this research work is the Commonwealth Government. Our future aim is to establish a Commonwealth Ministry of Education. It will have many inquiries to make. It must look into finance for education and the problems of teachers.
– Get a bit excited about it.
– Why should I get excited when I look at one of the failures of the education system in Western Australia? Technical education and adult education are other subjects that need investigating. People cannot guarantee that what they learn at eighteen or nineteen years will carry them through the whole of their working lives. These are problems that face the nation and only the Commonwealth, through its instrumentalities, can solve them. We on this side of the chamber press for the Commonwealth to accept the responsibility directly of examining the question on behalf of the nation. It is the only body that can do so.
.- This attack on the Commonwealth Government is very interesting. In a sense, the Opposition is trying to pull New South Wales out of its very serious education position. I do not suggest that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) was trying to do this, but it has been most noticeable that when Opposition members from New South
Wales, including the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), have spoken they have pleaded for primary and secondary education for the States. We in Queensland are bombarded by the New South Wales Parent-Teacher Education Council. Obviously this council is frightfully concerned about the standard of education in New South Wales, but it has made some really misleading statements. Obviously the council is a pressure group. I do not blame it for that, but I wish it would get its facts right. I have here a circular letter which was sent to me by Mr. Lancaster, the secretary of the council. In it he said -
Dear Mr. Barnes,
The N.S.W. Parent-Teacher Education Council, along with numerous important National, Stale and District organizations, has been greatly concerned at the serious deficiencies in the public education facilities available in all States.
That is completely wrong. I invite honorable members who believe that it is right to come to Queensland. Opposition members who visited Queensland a few months ago and put their efforts into trying to defeat the present Liberal-Country Party Government no doubt were very discouraged by what they saw in Queensland. When they went into the country areas of Queensland, they should have noticed - no doubt they brushed this aside - that new high schools and new primary schools were springing up in every country town.
The state of education in New South Wales, I know, is of very great concern to the people in that State. In recent weeks, we saw a photograph in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of a classroom in a primary school at, I think, Bankstown. This was a most disreputable looking room. It was a horrible atmosphere in which to place any child who is supposed to be at school receiving an education. This was in one of the primary schools in Sydney. The suggestion is that not enough funds are made available for State education. My recollection is that New South Wales, in its last Budget, decreased the vote for schools.
– The members of the New South Wales Parliament are increasing their salaries.
– The honorable member for Gippsland reminds me that the New
South Wales members are increasing their salaries. They are doing this while they are reducing the vote for schools. New South Wales also is spending £15,000,000 on the Opera House. This is the sort of thing that the New South Wales Government does, lt is interested in people only when it thinks that it can win votes. It is not interested in the children because children do not have a vote. But children are the raw material from which our future will be built. 1 sympathize with the people of New South Wales about the state of their education system. My suggestion to them is that they change their government. We had a similar situation in Queensland at one time. I was on a tour of the northern rivers of New South Wales recently, and we had put to us the problems of people in that district endeavouring to educate their children in State schools. It brought back to me the memory of conditions that existed in Queensland under a Labour government. Let me tell the committee what Queensland has done in recent years in education. This rather refutes the suggestion in the letter of the New South Wales Parent-Teacher Education Council. In the five years from 1957 to 1962 we established in Queensland 64 primary schools, 30 State high schools and 28 secondary departments - almost as many as the Labour government established in 30 years. Queensland is a primary producing State because the earlier Labour government never attracted secondary industry to the State. We lost the race because of restrictive taxes on companies and other measures that were in operation during the regime of the Labour Government. Nevertheless, we are now making tremendous progress under the new government, which went back to office again without the loss of one seat for a third term.
The Opposition has attacked the Government because of its alleged failure to give adequate financial support for education. As has been pointed out, there are only two Labour governments in Australia asking for federal responsibility for education. The Education Minister in Queensland is quite satisfied with the state of affairs there. I know that he would like more funds, but he is doing a wonderful job with what he gets at the present time from the Common- wealth Government. The provision of these funds has been made possible by the prosperity of Australia. There has been a tremendous increase in finanical aid for the States over the years in which this Government has been in office. Unfortunately I have misplaced the figures, but I can say that during the period in which we have been in power the funds made available tto State governments have been quadrupled, and this has been made possible by the economic policies of this Government.
In university education the Commonwealth Government has assumed the responsibility of aid for the States. In the years between 1952 and 1963-64 a total of £86,277,000 has been made available to the States for tertiary education. This has been done in the face of all the other obligations that the Commonwealth Government has had to meet in a fast-developing country. We have heard honorable members opposite speaking on subjects of social services and repatriation and saying that we should make millions of pounds available for these services. We have done this, but members of the Opposition still want more. We must achieve balanced development of Australia. This Government appointed the Murray committee and then the Universities Commission, and the Government agreed to every one of the recommendations of those bodies.
There has been a very great expansion in university education. In 1946 only 17,000 students attended universities in Australia. In 1959, which is the last year for which I was able to get figures, there were 46,000 students. This shows the strain that has been placed on university education. There is one suggestion that I have made previously, and I am now very hopeful that it will be adopted. I suggest that the Commonwealth Government should assist technical education at the tertiary level. It has given great assistance to universities on the academic side, and I believe this should be balanced on the technical side. I recall a speech made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) when he represented the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) at a recent gathering in Victoria, and I concluded from his remarks that the Prime Minister had this assistance in mind. I hope that it will now be given, because I believe it is most necessary in this country, with its very rapid development.
There is another very important matter that should be considered, and I have no doubt it is in the mind of the Prime Minister. We have extraordinary development ahead of us. We have had tremendous changes in our way of life over the last 60 years. We have come from the era of the Cobb and Company coach to a time when satellites are carrying people around the globe at heights of several hundred miles. The rate of this change has increased tremendously in very recent years, and development in the next few years will be similarly accelerated. As time goes on we will want more and more funds for tertiary education to cope with these tremendous developments. After all, despite the very rapid and complex technological development, the average individual has remained the same. In a general way he is still the individual that was served by the Cobb and Company coach. These changes will put all sorts of strains on people, not only in this country but also in other parts of the world.
– What will win the Metrop.?
– That is all, I am afraid, that the honorable member can think of. It is typical of members from New South Wales. I know the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) is also concerned about such matters because in his area the ring of the one-armed bandits is almost deafening. People in New South Wales are fostering such things but neglecting their education system. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) represents a constituency just next door to that of the honorable member for Barton, and he is obsessed by the same subject, if one can judge from his interjection. One can see where his thinking lies and how much he cares about the problems of education in New South Wales. This is a very important matter.
I have only a few minutes remaining at my disposal, and I would like to speak about the development of universities in the cities. We are told that there is to be a third university in Sydney, on the outskirts of Ryde. I believe it is most unfortunate that these centres of learning are being established in the cities. We would be much better advised to extend these facilities to country towns. Probably we could not at present establish complete universities in country areas, but we could establish university colleges in some of our larger country towns, perhaps covering the first year of all faculties and probably complete degree courses in the basic faculties of arts, commerce, science and education. In this way we would assist to increase the population of our country towns and at the same time relieve the pressure on the city universities.
I believe that the environments of our country towns would have a very good effect on university education. We have to remember that the old universities in the ancient seats of learning throughout the world in places such as Oxford, Cambridge and Heidelberg originated in rural areas. I visualize Armidale, as the site of the University of New England, being similarly regarded as a seat of learning in the future. When you have a university in a rural centre, you have a university that is very definitely a part of the community. But the average person in a large city like Sydney hardly knows that a university in his city exists. In a large city like that, both students and staff waste a great deal of time in travelling to and from the university. Furthermore, the establishment of a university in a large city entails a tremendous cost in the purchase of land. I understand that about £1,000,000 is being spent just to buy the land for the proposed new university at Ryde, in Sydney. Not only honorable members on this side of the chamber but also honorable members opposite should advocate the establishment of universities and university colleges in country areas.
.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) demonstrated the parochialism of a Queenslander by attacking the New South Wales Government. I want to analyse the facts relating to education in Queensland, where, it is interesting to note, the Government carries the Australian Country Party brand - the same brand as that borne by the honorable member. Queensland, although it has twice the population of South Australia, spends less than half as much per capita on the training of teachers. The twenty-ninth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which was presented in 1962, reveals that in 1960-61 Queensland spent 6s. 7d. per capita on the training of teachers compared with an expenditure of 17s. lid. per capita in South Australia.
The contrast between New South Wales and Queensland, as shown in this report, is particularly interesting. In 1960-61, expenditure on all forms of education totalled 293s. lid. per capita in New South Wales and 225s. 5d. per capita in Queensland. In the same financial year, New South Wales spent 24s. 3d. a head on universities and Queensland 15s. 6d. a head. It is said that if one wants to enlighten a parliamentarian one generally entices him into the Parliamentary Library and tries to get him at least to read worth-while material and so become enlightened. In 1960-61, Queensland spent 3s. 5d. a head on libraries, compared with 5s. Hd. a head in New South Wales. I think that these figures are pretty conclusive. They show the sort of treatment that the people of Queensland receive from a government that bears the same brand as is borne by the honorable member for Mcpherson. I refer the honorable member particularly to this report by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. If he undertakes a little research on it, he will realize without doubt that Queensland is very backward in education under its Country Party Government.
I do not want to become parochial, however. I believe that we all should talk as Australians. Therefore, I put this question: Is the Commonwealth Government doing sufficient to meet the needs of the Australian people in education? We in the Australian Labour Party say, “Definitely not “. We have for years called for a thorough inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education. Throughout Australia, a great revolution has been led by the Australian Teachers Federation and parents and citizens’ associations in an endeavour to inform the people on the need for increased expenditure on education. During the five years for which I have been a member of this Parliament, I have witnessed the Labour Party giving leadership on this matter. We have directed the Government’s attention to the alarming circumstances of education. If we are to live in an enlightened democracy, our children must have education at a standard second to none. They are not at present receiving at. 1 have contrasted the backward State of Queensland with New South Wales, specifically in relation to education. I propose now to contrast expenditure on education in Australia with expenditure on education in other countries, in order to demonstrate the attitude of this Government, which the honorable member for Mcpherson supports. I refer the committee to Professor P. H. Karmel’s publication, “ Some Economic Aspects of Education”, which shows that the United States of America spends 4.5 per cent, of the gross national product on education, the Netherlands 4.2 per cent., Canada 3.7 per cent., Sweden 4.1 per cent, and Australia - well down the scale - 2.9 per cent.
– Australia is fifteenth iia a list of 23 countries.
– Australia is fifteenth out of 23 countries an terms of expenditure on education.
This is a retarded and lazy government. It should give much more attention to the needs of education. We want to see the standard of schools in all the States raised to a minimum at least equal to that of schools in the Australian Capital Territory. We want to make sure that universities throughout Australia receive more funds. Also, as I said earlier, we want to make sure that there is an inquiry into the urgent and important problems of primary, secondary and technical education.
Before I conclude, I want to say that, in general terms, we have to raise the status of education and give it as high a priority as this community accords to anything. We must Lift the status of the teaching profession within the community. We must encourage people to enter that profession and pass on their knowledge to the youth of our nation, because the real wealth of any nation lies in its youth. We must do our utmost to make sure that all young Australians have equal opportunities. Lack of wealth should not be a barrier to education. Ability should be the only criterion, and any person who has the requisite ability should be given the opportunities he merits.
This is not the case at present. Far too many restrictions are placed on those who seek knowledge. Youth in our country finds far too many obstacles in the way of a proper education, and especially of a university education.
This Government has greatly assisted the wealthy section of the community. Only recently, it has assisted that section further by increasing the allowable tax deduction for education expenses. A wealthy person who pays tax at the rate of, say, 12s. 8d. in the £1 will receive from the Government a subsidy of 12s. 8d. for every £1 that he spends on the education of his children. On the other hand, the workers in the lowincome bracket who pay tax of 3s. or 4s. in the £1 receive only minor assistance.
This Government has always adopted the attitude of doing only as much as it has to do. Only agitation by the Opposition has forced the Government to do what it has done so far. If you look at the Government’s record, you will see that during the last five years it has spent a gradually increasing amount each year on education, but this has been done only under pressure from the Opposition as well as from teachers’ and parents’ organizations. I support the following assertions in the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam)-
That education is lagging seriously in Australia and a Commonwealth initiative for increased national investment in education is imperative for social and economic advance and that the Government should establish a committee to investigate the needs of primary, secondary and technical education and teacher training.
Surely this Government must realize that there is a crisis in education in Australia. Surely this Government, after many years of agitation by the Labour Opposition, must realize the urgency of the inquiry for which all State Premiers have asked. No matter how stubborn it is, how great is its desire to maintain the status quo, how smug and complacent it is, how certain it is that everything is all right, surely the Government must realize, if it surveys the world scene, that a major crisis in education exists and that greater priority must be given to education. We on this side of the chamber ask the Government to start moving on this important issue.
– This debate on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department has lasted quite a long time, having commenced this morning. As honorable gentlemen who have looked through these estimates will know, this department is a compendious body. It performs a great many functions. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) asked me to take his place in this debate. I must say that as there were so many subjects of relevant national importance which honorable members, particularly those opposite, could have raised, I was rather surprised that this debate was made once more the occasion for speeches on the subject of Commonwealth aid for education. Only two Opposition speakers adverted to other subjects. One was the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who, I must confess, was original - I agreed with much of what he said - and the other was my irrepressible friend, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who made his usual virile, occasionally controversial contribution. For the rest, we had the now oft-discussed subject of education, on which the Government, particularly through the Prime Minister whose responsibility it is, and the Opposition have quite plainly set out their delineations. So far as I can see, nothing fresh was adduced this afternoon by those who are now attacking the Government.
I must confess to very great surprise at the language of the motion proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Surely it is really untenable to suggest “ that education is lagging seriously in Australia “. No fair minded person could say that it is lagging seriously. Nor is it fair to accuse the Government, in effect, of a lack of “ Commonwealth initiative for increased national investment in education “. Any truthful person surely must concede that no government in Australian history has exercised so much initiative and so much imagination, has broken so much new ground, has done so much for the cause of national education as has this Government. The speech of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who tried to cloud his argument with what, I am sorry to say, was a certain amount of denigration of the Government, almost getting down to the personal level, reduced the debate to irrelevancy, if not to farce.
As I listened to the debate I heard from Opposition speakers only one word of appreciation of the Prime Minister, who has done more for education than has any other man in Australian public life. That came from the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), who was good enough to throw the Government, particularly the Prime Minister, a bone. But the fact remains that when the work of this Government is evaluated, and when the history of these times is written, the Prime Minister’s name will stand pre-eminent for what he accomplished in the field of national education.
– Lots of other countries are doing just as well, in university education too.
– I know that the honorable member for Barton is quite obsessed with this subject. I have listened to him many times over the years. I know that every man has political and intellectual hobbies but I think his enthusiasm has rather upset his balance and judgment.
I thought the Prime Minister set out the matter very clearly when he spoke on this subject during the Budget debate. The honorable member for Barton, despite all his casuistry earlier this afternoon and all his talk about the changed value of money, cannot get away from the hard solid fact of the enormous increase in the moneys which have been made available to the States for the promotion of educational work. In his speech the Prime Minister pointed out that whereas tax reimbursements to the States amounted to £34,800,000 in 1945, they rose to the stupendous sum of £318,000,000 in 1963. You cannot explain that away and say that it is doing virtually nothing. This is a fact which speaks for itself. Look at the result of this in the great growth in State expenditure on education. In 1950-51 the States spent £46,000,000 in this direction. Ten years later the expenditure had increased to £184,000,000 and, according to our estimates, in the current year 1963-64, expenditure will be over £200,000,000. In anybody’s language, in any country’s record, these are very considerable sums of money and represent a great achievement.
In all of these things the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is not only what we say here, it is what other people say. I invite honorable members to direct their minds to this alleged parsimony on the part of the Commonwealth, this alleged starvation of the States, this pauperization, and to recall what the Premier of Victoria said recently when he introduced that State’s current budget. Was this a song of sorrow by Mr. Bolte? Was this a lamentation that there was so little money for education? Was this a tirade against the Commonwealth? Not a bit of it! What Mr. Bolte said, in paraphrase, was that he was proposing for the State of Victoria the record allocation of £73,000,000 for education- £73,000,000 in one State alone. That was an increase of almost £8,500,000 over last year. Mr. Bolte also pointed out in his speech that 45 per cent, of the State’s expenditure is going on education compared with 30 per cent, ten years ago. The Victorian Premier also said - this point is very relevant to the debate and should be borne in mind by critics of the Government - that whereas in 1953 Victoria was spending £9 per head of population on education, ten years later in 1963 it was able and willing to spend £24 per head of population.
I know that honorable members opposite, because of their political philosophy - they are quite frank about this; it is one of the major divisions between my side of the Parliament and the other side - desire as quickly as possible a further encroachment of Commonwealth power - an aggrandisement of the Commonwealth and a lessening of the authority of the States.
– Now you are drawing a red herring across the trail.
– It is not a red herring. We are dealing with the facts of life - the facts of political life. The honorable member is an experienced politician. He well knows that what I say is true. The fact of the matter is that the States themselves desire to retain control of education and the educational processes. They have said that repeatedly. At the extraordinary Premiers’ Conference held in February of this year, with the possible exception of the Premier of New South Wales, the general tenor of opinion was summed up by Sir Thomas Playford, Premier of South Australia, who said -
Education is the responsibility of the States.
What the Premiers want - what they have always wanted - is a further advance in general grants. They got that advance at the subsequent conference in June. The Government’s attitude on this matter - I admit it is a complex matter - is that within the means at the Commonwealth’s disposal the national efforts should be directed where the greatest pressure is - where the demand is most strongly felt. Experience has shown and statistics have proved that the greatest demand is in the universities. Contrary to the singularly ungenerous claim of the honorable member for Reid that the Government has acted only because of the promptings of the Opposition, since 1951, when the Commonwealth actively entered this field, we have been putting the greater part of our efforts of assistance towards university education.
I need not weary the committee by reciting the Commonwealth activities in this field. They include, initially, the assistance to the States for recurrent expenditure in universities and the appointment of the Murray committee. Honorable members are well aware of the beneficial results that flowed from the adoption by the Government and the Parliament of the greater part of that committee’s recommendations.. I remind honorable gentlemen that in 1961 the Government set up, as another step forward, the committee of inquiry into tertiary education. We expect to have that committee’s; report by the end of the year.
Since the Government’s record is under challenge, I think I should also remind the House that the Government has extended its assistance to. students. We have provided 4,000 Commonwealth scholarships a year. We have provided for 800 later year awards for undergraduates. We have provided for 200 post-graduate awards a year. To-day 15,000 students are attending universities’ under Commonwealth scholarships. More than 20,000 persons have completed their university courses under Con>monwealth scholarships. Is this a poor record? Is this something inadequate? If the Opposition possessed any streak of generosity or fairness it would’ at least concede w the Government that these were great achievements, in breaking new ground.
As this should be a debate on estimates and costs, let us not forget, since the Government is under attack in this respect, the amounts that the Commonwealth isactually spending on education. This information should be set down for the record. In the three-year period 1961-63 the Commonwealth spent £92,000,000 on education. Of that sum £60,000,000 was spent in grants to State universities and, in effect, maintenance of the Australian National University. The provision of Commonwealth, scholarships accounted for £10,000,000. Education in Commonwealth Territoriestook £15,000,000, and £7,000,000 wasspent on awards to overseas students. If the Opposition wants to get political about education, let us contrast this Government’s expenditure in the last three years with the paltry and insignificant sums Labour wasprepared to allocate to education when it was in office, particularly between 1945 and 1949.
For the enlightenment and encouragement of honorable members opposite, may I point out that the Government has still toconsider the report of the Australian Universities Commission for the triennium 1964 to 1966. The Government has still toreview the operation and the possible extension of the Commonwealth scholarships scheme. As these are matters upon which the Cabinet has not yet reached decisions, it would be improper for me to indicate what may be the outcome of Cabinet’s deliberations, but I think I can go so far as to say that it is extremely likely that the Government’s contributions to universities, and in scholarships, probably will be very much greater in the next three years than they were in the last three years.
A moment ago- 1 said that the committee inquiring, into the future of tertiary education is expected! to present its report towards th- end of this year. As honorable mem,bers will, realize, the committee will make recommendations in respect of universities and: in respect of tertiary education outside universities, particularly in: the spheres, of technical education, teacher training and agricultural education. When that report has been received the Government will consider it promptly and; I nave no doubt, will act on it promptly-
The Government’s record in education shows that its policies are not smug, as the honorable member for Reid, insinuated. The Government’s policies are not stasis-. They aTe progressive and enlightened policies. The lead given by the Prime Minister is quite visionary. I have no doubt that should the Government remain in office - I believe it will remain in office for many years to come - it will not be satisfied just to let matters stand where they are in education but will go much further. I hope that next time this matter is under review the Opposition will be better informed, more broad-minded and more charitable in its assessment of the Government’s achievements. As to the proposed amendment, we will not accept it; we will reject it; we will defeat it.
.- Mr. Chairman!
Motion (by Mr. Howson) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Whitlam’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £7,537,000.
Department of Works.
Proposed vote, £10,182,000.
.- I want to draw the attention of the committee to section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The section reads - (1.) A re-distribution of any State into Divisions shall be made in the manner hereinbefore provided whenever directed by the Governor-General by proclamation. (2.) Such proclamation may be made -
This latter situation exists in Australia. It is my view that a redistribution ought to be carried out and, further, that it is morally right that there should be a redistribution. In Victoria there are very wide differences in the sizes of electorates. The electorate of the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), at the end of August, 1963, had 97,048 electors. In the electorate of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who occupies a very important position here, there are 32,823 electors, or about one-third of the number of the Bruce electorate. This situation makes a farce of the principles of parliamentary representation.
I think that all members will agree that the ordinary people are entitled to representation. It is very desirable that all votes shall have equal value, but in a country like Australia this is almost impossible to achieve. A number of factors have to be considered in this respect. The question of country representation is involved. The Australian Country Party does not have a monopoly of country representation in this place. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) would not say that he does not represent country people here. His electorate is in the middle of New South Wales, over 100 miles from Sydney at its nearest part. Other country seats held by the Opposition are Eden-Monaro, Darling, Cowper and Kalgoorlie. The party to which I belong holds many country seats, four of which are represented by Ministers. They are the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn. Other distinguished members of my party who represent country areas are the honorable members for Canning (Mr. McNeill) and McMillan (Mr. Buchanan). The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) also represents a large country area.
– What is the point?
– The honorable member for Mallee was writing. He was very busy and did not hear what I said. I said that the Country Party does not have a monopoly of representation of country people in this Parliament. I did not want to say that twice. Other Liberal Party members representing country areas are the honorable members for Barker (Mr. Forbes), Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). We have about as many members representing country areas as has the Country Party.
I think it will be admitted that country people take their politics more seriously than urban dwellers. There are many reasons for this, and the first is need. City people live close to their members. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) represents 34,000 electors. I suppose that a few miles would cover his electorate. On Saturday mornings he can be reached in his office by his electors after a very short bus ride or a cheap taxi ride. But this is not true of the more widespread electorates in Australia. One need not go as far as Kalgoorlie or Darling. The ordinary country electorate is 200 or 300 miles across, sometimes divided by mountain ranges and sometimes having centres which must be reached by different railways or different highways. It is a costly business for the people to visit their parliamentary representatives or the boards and commissions which regulate their industries or daily lives.
A tremendous amount of work is involved in representing a country area extending over a large number of square miles. A dozen local authorities may operate in a country electorate, whereas there may be only two or three such authorities in a city electorate. In a country electorate there may be eight, ten, fifteen or, as happens in my case, eighteen newspapers to deal with. In a city electorate there may be only one or two newspapers through which to convey information to the people. The people want to know about changes in social services and other things arising through Federal, State and local authorities. They have to get that information. People have to be protected by a member of Parliament. In my electorate immigrants have settled on five-acre blocks. Let us suppose that a representative of the Electricity Commission of New South Wales comes along to one of those immigrants and says, “ Sign this paper; it will not do you any harm “, and shortly afterwards the immigrant finds that a set of transmission wires has been put across his property and two acres have been taken from his five acres. He did not know that would happen. He had been told that everything would be all right. In such circumstances, a member of Parliament, exercising the privilege given to him for this purpose, has to protect that person and preserve for him the freedom which he was told he would have in Australia when he came here.
Representing a country electorate is a tremendous job. People in country areas desperately need to be able to see their members, to talk to them and to discuss matters with them. So it is ridiculous to talk about one vote one value when one electorate is ten or fifteen miles across and another is 300 miles across. The cost of accommodation and travel is a considerable item. People should be able to reach their members for interviews, or their members should be able to reach them. It is quite wrong to say that we should follow the principle of one vote one value. Polling day has some interest for members of Parliament. Some honorable members have more than 100 polling booths in their electorates. I have 134 polling booths in my electorate, whereas there may be only 20 or 30 in a small city electorate which could be covered by a pocket handkerchief, as the saying goes. City electorates should have more voters and country electorates should have fewer voters.
– That is rubbish.
– I have just proved that my statement is correct.
– Do you believe in democracy?
– The honorable member for Watson does not know what democracy is. He does not want country dwellers to have it. He would like country areas to have all the boards that function in the cities. He would like the water board to function in the country and ruin things for country people. He would like the ad hoc bodies and boards that operate in the cities to reach out and take charge of country districts. Country areas need representation, but not representation of that type.
– Why does the Government not put the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee to the people?
– Order! The honorable member for Watson should not interject.
– It is time a redistribution of Australian electorates was carried out. It is mandatory under section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I think people who have studied this matter agree that the fractions should be adjusted so that there will not be fewer members of Parliament to look after the requirements of the very much larger population. Under existing circumstances, country seats should not be eliminated, in view of the needs of country people and the fact that people should be represented according to the provisions of the Representation Act.
We know that there is a system for working out the quotas for electorates. The aliens - people who are not naturalized - who number about 528,000, are counted in arriving at the quotas, but they are not counted in determining the numbers in electorates. Aborigines vote in some States, including New South Wales, but not in Queensland and Western Australia. There are about 40,000 of them in Australia. They are not counted in the calculation of the quotas. They alone would make up the difference that we need to eliminate the fractions. It would be madness to reduce the number of members of Parliament in a country that is growing as fast as Australia is. I think it is agreed that the fractions should be eliminated and the present number of members of Parliament should be retained or increased. South Australia should have one more member. It should have twelve members instead of eleven. In each of the three States of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, the seat that it was proposed to eliminate should be retained. Then there would be a House of Representatives of 124 members, plus two members from the Territories.
– There would be one more from Victoria.
– That is right. The total number of members would be 126.
– You have not done anything about the electorate of the honorable member for Bruce, which has more than 90,000 electors.
– I mentioned that matter earlier. The electorate of Bruce has 97,000 electors, three times as many as the electorate of the Leader of theOpposition has. The Leader of the Opposition, as the honorable member for Melbourne, represents 32,000 electors in this Parliament.
I believe that we should give effect to the principle that the representative of a country electorate should not have as many peopleto look after as the representative of a city electorate. I have stated the reasons for that contention. They include the distances, the areas, the difficulties of communication, the number of polling booths, the number of villages, the number of local authorities and the number of boards and commissions. For those reasons, the distribution commissioners should give full effect to the margin of allowance of onefifth below or above the quota. That provision is contained an section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. It should be mandatory. It is mandatory that there be a redistribution. I believe that section 19 of the act, which refers to “ means of communication “, should be amended by the addition of the word “ area “. In other words, we should give effect to the words of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) who said recently that people in country areas where the population is shrinking, particularly where there is heavy mechanization, should be given effective representation in this place.
I suggest that honorable members look at the report on the proposal for full voting; rights for the people of the Northern Territory, which is now being considered by the Government. About 14,000 electors and about 20,000 aborigines in the Northern Territory are very keen to have full representation in this chamber and in the Senate. Across the border, the Kimberley district of Western Australia has not its own representative in this chamber. That district has three members in the Western Australian Parliament, but it has not its own representative here. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie represents the Kimberley district from 1,000 or 2,000 miles away to the south. Could one find a more desperate need for representation in this chamber than there is for representation of the Kimberley district and the north-west of Western Australia?
It is absurd for honorable members to say that we should follow the principle of one vote one value. We do so at our peril. Consider the position in northern Australia now and what is happening in Djakarta. Yet more than half of the Australian continent has not full representation in this chamber. Apart from a narrow strip down the coast of Queensland, the part of Australia north of a line drawn through Bourke, which represents three-quarters of the land mass, has no separate representative with full voting rights in this chamber. That is the sort of situation that you get by following the principle of one vote one value.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am sorry that I cannot come to the defence of the Australian Country Party against the vicious attack that was made upon its Whip by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). I merely say that I believe it is most degrading that this Parliament should have to witness the breaking up in public of the parties in the coalition that have now clung together for about fourteen years. It is not difficult to understand why this coalition is cracking up.
We all know - particularly we Labour men who have private conversations with members of the two parties that form the coalition - that already the Liberal Party has moves afoot to try to destroy the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie). The Liberal Party has a candidate to run against him. It is hoping that the Labour Party will give its preferences to the Liberal candidate. As I understand the position, we have not yet decided what we will do. We are watching the honorable member for Moore very carefully before we make up our minds on that matter.
We know that the Liberal Party is casting envious eyes at the electorate of the honorable member for Calare (Mr. England). It is a Country Party seat now, but it was a Liberal Party seat. It was represented by Mr. Howse for many years. We know that the Liberal Party also has designs on Indi, which has been represented by a member of the Country Party for many years now. “When one looks at the constitution of the Liberal Party one sees that it does not in fact represent country interests at all. It represents the wealthy commercial interests of Australia and obtains its finances from those interests. In these circumstances, we can readily understand why people in the country areas are turning to the Australian Country Party again. Of the two, the Australian Country Party is the better. However, we do hope that, as the people have time to examine the situation more carefully and are able to see that the members of the Australian Country Party, who pose as the friends of the farmers, are in fact nothing more or less than the stooges of the Liberal Party-
-Order! I suggest that the matters referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh do not relate to the estimates for the Department of the Interior or the Department of Works, which at the moment are being considered by the committee.
– Then I will talk about sodium fluoride. A decision was recently taken by the Department of the Interior that the people of Canberra will have sodium fluoride poured into their drinking water, whether they like it or not. This is wonderful for the people who make sodium fluoride. Who are the makers of sodium fluoride? I will tell the committee. They are the people who smelt aluminium, the great steel monopolies and the fertilizer monopolies, mostly of the United States.
The history of sodium fluoride is interesting. Many years ago, -when aluminium smelting first began in a large way, it was noticed that the trees and grass around a smelting “works were being destroyed and would not grow as normally they would be expected to grow. It was also noticed that the progeny of cattle in the area were being , deformed and were affected by -the fluorine coming from the chimney stacks. Eventually, action for damages was taken against an aluminium company in America and the Supreme Court of America upheld the action taken against the company, with the result-
– Order! I think the subject-matter being mentioned by the honorable member for Hindmarsh strictly is under the proposed vote for the Australian Capital Territory and would be far better debated when the .estimates ‘for the Territories are before the committee.
– Am I prevented from dealing with this matter, although it comes under the Department of the Interior, just because there are other estimates for the Territories? I understood that we were dealing with the estimates for the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works together.
– Yes. I said that this would be better discussed when the estimates for the Territories were before us, as the Australian Capital Territory is one of the Territories. I think it would be better discussed when considering the estimates for the Territories rather than the estimates for the Department of the Interior.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Chairman. I personally think my colleague is talking nonsense, but I assert his right to do so. The decision - an eminently correct decision - was made by the Minister for the Interior. We are discussing the estimates for his department. We are entitled to discuss the wisdom of his administration under the estimates for his department. I submit that it would be very much better if the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) rapidly removed this substance from their systems in the debate on these estimates.
– I am not denying the right of the honorable member for Hindmarsh to make any comment or statement whatsoever on this subject. I am merely saying that the Australian Capital Territory, with which this subject deals, comes under Part 3. I suggest that this is not the appropriate time for a debate on this matter.
– Then you are not ruling it out?
– No. The honorable member for Hindmarsh mentioned the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works. Neither of those two departments is mentioned in Part 3. I am not ruling that the honorable member for Hindmarsh cannot speak on this subject. I make no comment on that. The only ruling I have given is that this is not the occasion for a debate on this subject.
– Thank you very much.
– I also ask for your ruling, Mr. Chairman, in view of the fact that this matter is already listed on the noticepaper under general business for 10th October. This might place honorable members in the extraordinary position of having to debate the matter twice. I suggest that we should not be placed in this position.
– With regard to the point of order raised by the Minister for the Interior, I would say that it has been the practice that when the estimates are being debated in committee all and any subjects related to the estimates for the department concerned may be raised. Questions on the notice-paper and such matters do not prevent a discussion from proceeding in committee.
– I think I must talk about this subject now. If I leave it until the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory are before the committee, it will be left for the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) to reply.
– No. The Minister for the Interior will still be responsible and will reply to any discussion concerning the Australian Capital Territory under Part 3.
– Frankly, I think this is very technical, but in the circumstances I will wait until the other estimates are before us. I think it is a fine technical point and one that is too small to be bothered with.
.- I do not wish to speak at this stage on fluoridation, though I am against it. I disagree most violently with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The matter I wish to discuss is entirely a new concept, but it is a matter that would come under the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). I am in a slightly difficult position, because this is a matter for the future; nothing has yet been established. I obtained guidance from the Clerk and we finally decided that this is a matter for the Minister for the Interior because it is related partly to the forestry section of his department. I wish to refer to national parks throughout Australia and I will suggest that a Commonwealth national parks authority be set up.
The situation in Australia is that we have National Parks Associations operating in each of the six States. There is no Commonwealth organization. The work of the State associations deserves the highest commendation. The work to establish national parks goes back to the pioneers of, say, 60 or 70 years ago, who had to fight governments very hard and for a long time to have the principle adopted that vast areas of Australia should be set apart as national parks for the people. I pay a great tribute to those pioneers. Many of them have died, but some are still living. They have seen their concept of national parks adopted in each State.
Each State has a different system of park management. This is a big weakness, as has been exemplified in many other exclusively State-controlled aspects of our economy. Because of the very name “ National Parks Association “, the Commonwealth should not only be vitally interested but should establish an organization to which the six State bodies could be affiliated. Through such a body much valuable assistance could be rendered to the State governments in their battle to maintain and develop the existing national parks within their boundaries, and to extend the areas of national parks throughout Australia.
I suggest that such a Commonwealth national parks association or authority should have its head-quarters in Canberra and be attached to the Department of the Interior. This would be similar to the practice that has been adopted in the United States of America. There would be no need for a large staff to begin with, but at a later stage specialist assistance could be provided for the federal organization and financial assistance could be allocated on an annual basis to the State bodies, many of which are starved financially at the present time.
One constant enemy of the national park system is the greed of private enterprise. All countries that are proud of their national parks have continually to fight encroachment by private enterprise on their park areas. We had a classic case of such encroachment in Queensland, where there are 60 national parks and 171 scenic areas. A public company wanted to obtain full ownership of the Hayman Island National Park. The Queensland Government used its majority to force a vote through the Parliament of that State, and as a consequence Hayman Island was granted to this private company. This was done in the face of vigorous public protest, led by the Queensland Public Parks Association and the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “. So Hayman Island was torn from the State’s national park system.
In Tasmania a private company operating the Boyer paper mills at New Norfolk, in my electorate, finally persuaded the State government to let it have a vast area of timber in the Mount Field National Park area. This was opposed by the Scenic Preservation Board, which is the equivalent of the national park associations in other States, but its protest was overruled. One of the reasons I suggest a joint CommonwealthState control of all Australia’s national parks is that this would make it more difficult for commercial interests to gain control of our parks for purely private profit.
In New South Wales the national parks are under the control of the Department of Lands. When a new area is set aside as a national park, a trust is appointed comprised of citizens living in the area. These trusts have the responsibility of developing the parks along established lines. They receive about £75,000 a year, which is quite inadequate for carrying out their work. But in my opinion individual trusts, no matter how capable they are - and their work is nearly all voluntary - cannot adequately develop these beautiful areas of country as they should be developed. In Victoria the National Parks Authority has about £80,000 a year to spend on the seventeen areas under its control. Tragic fires in national park areas have created problems of restoration which cannot possibly be solved with the limited funds available. In Tasmania, where the Scenic Preservation Board is the principal government authority in this field, coming mainly under the Minister for Tourists, there are 120 park and reserve areas, occupying over 500,000 acres. Most of this is in eight major national parks, mainly in high mountain areas. Again the funds available to this board are completely inadequate to enable it to establish effective control. As in other States, finance is so limited that it is not possible to provide an interpretive service, park chalets and other major facilities.
In all States the national parks suffer because of lack of finance for the authorities concerned and inadequate legislative and administrative assistance. When one looks at what is taking place in European countries, particularly Germany, and in Canada and the United States, it is evident that our national park projects in Australia are definitely under-developed. Our parks lack numerous facilities for the visitor that are available in other countries. In the United States of America one person in four of the population visits the national parks annually. The total number of visitors to the parks is more than 78,000,000. In Australia one in eight of the population visits the national parks each year. This figure could be increased if improved facilities were available.
We should give our national park system a Commonwealth concept. I firmly believe that if the Government set up a Commonwealth national park association under the control of the Department of the Interior, with the Minister for the Interior responsible for it. the State associations would be quite willing to affiliate with it. This joint Commonwealth-State organization would then be able, with Commonwealth financial assistance, to re-organize facilities within our national parks and give a greater degree of protection to our untrammelled national heritage, including our fauna and flora, as well as protection against the encroachment of private enterprise. Australia is far behind other countries simply because there is no national organization, and it is time that the Commonwealth made an approach to the States for the purpose of planning such a national organization.
It is interesting to note that the first World Conference of National Parks was held in Seattle, United States of America, from 30th June to 7th July, 1961. It was attended by 324 delegates and observers from 71 countries. The Australian contingent consisted of Mr. Robert Carrick of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Mr. Max Day, also of the C.S.I.R.O., Dr. Keith Jarrett of the National Parks Association of Queensland, Mr. Howard Stanley, Administrator of Parks and Reserves in New South Wales, and Mr. William Wilks, the Secretary of the Queensland Forestry Department and Administrative Authority of Queensland
National Parks. The Commonwealth of Australia was officially represented by Dr. Day and Mr. Howard Stanley. We have no national organization, and these men could not speak with an authentic Commonwealth voice. If a Commonwealth national parks authority was established we would, at all future world conferences on national parks, have representatives who could speak with a single, official, authentic voice when decisions were being arrived at affecting national parks throughout the world.
The most perfect national park system of all is that which has been set up in the United States. In that country there are 30 national parks under federal jurisdiction. In 1961, 78,000,000 people visited those parks, representing a daily average of 7,000 in each of the 30 parks. The importance of national parks is shown by the fact that in Spain, which we consider rather a backward country, the economy is boosted to the extent of no less than 500,000,000 dollars a year simply because of the existence of the national park system. In 1872 the national park system was established in the United States of America as a result of a measure passed by Congress. It has been extended over the years by successive Congress measures. Full recognition of the importance of these parks was given right at the beginning, in 1872. In 1916, after ten such parks had been established, the administration and preservation of them was taken care of by the establishment of a national park service, which was assigned to the Department of the Interior, with head-quarters in Washington. The national monuments of America were also committed to the charge of the national park service. I think this could also be done in Australia.
The charter of the wonderful National Park Service of the United States, some of whose parks I have seen, provides for -
The service is divided into two sections, one of which controls parks projects and the other construction work. There are six regional offices, situated at Philadephia Richmond, St. Louis, Omaha, Santa Fe and San Francisco. Each regional office is run by a director.
In the United States, national parks are defined as spacious land and water areas. They are composed of wilderness essentially in a primeval condition and areas of scenic magnificence. These parks are reserved by Congress and the system is a national one. Instead of mere State parks, there is a great chain of national parks throughout the country, all preserved by Congress for all time for human enjoyment, education and inspiration. These parks will never be handed over to private enterprise for any purpose. That is the sort of protection that we need for national parks in this country. where private enterprise is so ready to butt in and take over our forests and other scenic areas and to build private establishments for its own profit.
I have obtained this information about the United States national parks system from a book entitled “The National Parks of the United States”, by Luis A. Bolin who spent fifteen years in Spain and has seen all the United States national parks. This wonderful book with magnificent pictures gives a very fine description of the American national parks system. At page 18, we find an outline of the legislative procedure by which this national parks system was established. The author points out that the United States system is the finest in the world to-day. That is the comment of a man who has been to all the great national parks in the world.
I appeal to the Minister for the Interior and the Government to consider seriously the suggestion that I have made this afternoon. Federal help is needed to preserve and extend the system of national parks in this country.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Chairman, I have been giving some thought to the problem of the duplication, as it were, of the discussion of the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory and the Department of the Interior. I suggest that we could overcome the difficulty which arose when the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) was making his speech by taking with the estimates for the Department of the Interior that part of the estimates for the Territories which refers to the Australian Capital Territory. If the committee is agreeable, I suggest that that course be followed.
– I dissent from the proposal. First, we cannot retrieve the situation which arose earlier to-day. The honorable member for Hindmarsh was interrupted by you, Sir, when he was making his speech. With the very best of intentions, you offered him certain advice. You suggested that the subject to which he was referring would be better debated under another heading. The honorable member for Hindmarsh was interrupted in his speech and could not state his case to the committee. I do not see that we can repair the damage now. I suggest that the normal procedure be followed. Let the debate go forward in an orderly way and if any honorable member wishes to discuss a matter which comes within the ambit of the administration of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), permit him to do so. That includes any reference to the proposed fluoridation of Canberra’s water supply. If we were to adopt any other course at this stage, it would be a denial of justice.
– I do not wish to deprive the honorable member for Hindmarsh of his right to raise this matter. That position could be met by the honorable member using his second opportunity to speak, if the committee agreed to that being done. I made my suggestion only for the convenience of the committee. I am not adamant on the point.
– It is extraordinary that prior to the suspension of the sitting the Minister raised a point of order-
– I did not raise a point of order on that aspect.
– You addressed the committee. You, Mr. Chairman, gave a ruling. Now there is only one course to follow. We must abide by the procedure which has been laid down. If it were intended to vary that procedure, the suggestion should have been made at the beginning of the debate, not in the middle of it. [Quorum formed.]
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, the Chair gave a ruling on the discussion of a matter raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Now the Minister for the Interior has made a suggestion for an alteration of procedure, to which the honorable member for Macquarie, on behalf of the Opposition, objects. The committee is always in control of its business. As Chairman, I am only too happy to do anything to meet the convenience of the committee. I think that the Minister’s suggestion could be accepted. If it were I would ensure that the rights of the honorable member for Hindmarsh were protected. But this is a matter for the committee to decide. Is the committee prepared to adopt the suggestion made by the Minister?
– Then I will not press the point.
– The matters being dealt with by the committee now are the proposed votes for the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works
.- Like the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), I want to refer to section 19 of the Electoral Act. That is the vital section in any proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries in the federal sphere. I listened with great attention to the honorable member’s speech. He stated that the Australian Country Party had no monopoly of seats in country areas. That is very true. The Country Party has never claimed any such monopoly. The Liberal Party and the Labour Party ] have always held seats in country areas.
It is interesting to note that on the subject of redistribution the country members of both the Liberal Party and .the Labour Party have been remarkably silent this year. I have heard some Opposition speakers during the last couple of weeks refer to certain propositions as gerrymandering, but 1 have not heard any Opposition members representing country areas defend the proposition that country electorates should not contain as many electors as city electorates. They apparently accept the position that whatever the majority of their party decides goes for them, too. It is high time that this subject was raised, that country members of all parties made their voices heard and that a strong protest was made against the redistributions that have been made in the past and the recent proposed unbalanced redistribution. By raising this matter, thehonorable member for Macarthur has given members representing rural areas a great opportunity to show their disapproval of the loss of rural voices in this Parliament.
The word “ gerrymandering “ has been used freely during the past twelve months. What is gerrymandering? It is tampering with an electorate in such a way as to give an unfair advantage to a particular party, class or candidate. That is one definition. The fact that country electorates contain a smaller number of electors than do city electorates does not constitute gerrymandering. To call it gerrymandering is to be guilty of hypocrisy. The representation in this Parliament proves that having a smaller number of electors in country electorates than in city electorates does not favour any one party, class or candidate. The Labour Party in this place has fifteen or sixteen members representing rural areas. I know that there is some difference of opinion as to what constitutes a rural area. The Country Party represents seventeen rural areas and the Liberal Party represents about fourteen. So how can it be said that an increase of the number of country electorates will favour one party? The charge of gerrymandering does not hold water.
The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has proved conclusively that weighting of country electorates is practised not only in Australia but also in many other countries. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) has ably shown how difficult it is for members representing country electorates to cover their respective areas.
Country electorates are so large! Surely people living in country districts are just as entitled to see their member as are people living in the cities! Country people are fully entitled to see their member at a naturalization ceremony, and there may be two naturalization ceremonies held on successive nights in country towns anything from 130 to 300 miles apart from each other. Honorable members opposite from city electorates are doing a good deal of interjecting. They do not know what representing a country area entails. This fact was brought home to me one day when a city member in this Parliament said to me and to another member for a country elect.torate: “You fellows would not have to attend many functions. You would not be invited to many functions in your electorates.” That is just so much nonsense.
I admit that I do not know what it is like to represent a city electorate. I concede that it must be a difficult job. I believe that all honorable members work hard in their electorates. We all have problems. Country people have problems and city people have problems. Perhaps the recent redistribution proposals did not, on their face, look too bad, but in six or seven years’ time the size of country electorates would have been increased in order to gain the requisite number of voters. The proposal was that the numbers of voters in each electorate be approximately equal.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act needs clarification in another respect. After all, the distribution commissioners are not responsible to the people of Australia for this country’s development. It is we in this Parliament who are responsible for Australia’s development as a nation. Future generations will pass judgment on us for the way in which we have handled Australia’s development. It is the members of this Parliament who should decide whether increased parliamentary representation will mean a greater opportunity for development. Of course it will! The more voices a section of the people has in the Parliament the better its chances of getting a fair share of the appropriations that are made each year.
I think we all agree that in view of the fact that Australia’s population has increased by about 2,000,000 persons since the last re-distribution it would be ridiculous to reduce the number of members in this place by two. What is more to the point, it is anticipated that by 1970 we will have a population of 12,750,000 persons. New South Wales members may be interested to know that despite the increase in population the number of members from New South Wales would, under the present formula, be reduced from 45 to 44. Under the formula, in seven years’ time, despite the increase in population, representation from New South Wales would have been reduced by one member! Victorian representation would have remained at about what it is now and Western Australia and Queensland each would have gained’ one seat. From those four States we would have gained one member, notwithstanding the fact that the population would have increased by about 1,500,000 persons.
It is obviously high time some thought was given to the number of representatives in this place. Do not let anybody look me in the face and talk this nonsense about one vote, one value. I have never subscribed to that view and no State government subscribes to it. Very few governments anywhere in the world subscribe to it. One vote, one value is a nice catch-cry but it is not in tune with the practical needs of any nation. One of the South American countries has recently moved its capital 500 miles inland in order to take its political representation away from the seaboard cities. This underlines the principle that where you have parliamentary voices you have a chance of a fair deal.
Now is the chance for honorable members opposite who represent country electorates to stand up and be counted on this issue. Let them say whether they are in favour of country representation in this place being reduced or whether they are in favour of it being increased. Then we shall see who has the interests of the country people at heart.
.- -The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) advocate that the number of electors in country electorates be reduced and that the number of electors in metropolitan electorates be increased. That view is, of course, leading to the suggestion that the principle of one vote, one value should be destroyed. To give effect to the proposal of the honorable members would lead to a situation similar to those which has been created in past years in some States. Let me refer to the position in South Australia, where at the last State election the Labour Party polled 56 per cent, of the votes and all other parties polled 44 per cent. Notwithstanding that, the Labour Party could not command enough seats to form a government. Surely nobody who claims to believe in the principles of democracy could support such a system. It would be a step in the wrong direction to do anything that would enable such a state of affairs to exist in the federal’ sphere. Recently one of this Government’s strongest supporters in New South Wales, recognized as the Government’s mouthpiece in that State - I refer to the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ - criticized the suggestion that the principle of one vote, one value should be destroyed. The Labour Party will always oppose any move to destroy that principle. It is quite true that many honorable members who represent rural areas encounter great problems in travelling over large areas, but the remedy for the problem lies in the adoption of the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee on this matter. On that committee there were six Government supporters, four from the Liberal Party and two from the Country Party. One of the Country Party members was the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond). The Liberal Party and Country Party representatives unanimously recommended that we should hold a referendum seeking permission from the people to increase the number in the House of Representatives without increasing the number in the Senate. That is where the answer to the Country Party’s problem lies, and I repeat that its own representatives on the Constitutional Review Committee recommended along those lines.
– But that does not solve it.
– What does solve it? That recommendation was supported by two members of your own party and four representatives of the Liberal Party. It was put forward as “a remedy-‘ for the very situation that your Country Party members arc complaining about.
The honorable member for Macarthur has suggested an alternation ‘-of the Representation Act to restore the seats which it was suggested should be eliminated in the last redistribution proposals/ »The redistribution of electoral boundaries is more or less governed by section 24 of the Constitution. I interpose here to say that I agree with the suggestion by the honorable member for Indi to that effect that we have too few members in this House to represent a population that has increased by about 2,000,000 since the last redistribution was made in 1955. It was suggested by the honorable member for Macarthur that we should amend the Representation Act which would alter the formula contained in section 24 of the Constitution Act by deleting from paragraph (ii) the words, “ greater than one-half”. If this were done, we could retain those seats that it was proposed should be eliminated in New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland. Such a course could be open to challenge in the courts because it is laid down specifically in section 24 of the Constitution that the number of members of the House of Representatives shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators. If the Representation Act were amended in the way suggested, it is possible that after the next election we could have 125 members in this House - the number could even be 126 if an additional representative is granted for Tasmania - and this number would not keep the number of members of the House of Representatives as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators. All these matters have to be kept in mind when it is suggested that we should amend the Representation Act. Very conflicting opinions are held by the legal eagles on this matter. That is, I believe, one of the reasons why the act has not been altered. Once we got away from the provision or section 24 of the Constitution the act would be open to challenge. As I have said already, the answer to the problem of representing very large country electorates lies in the acceptance of the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee to seek permission to increase the numerical size of the House of Representatives without increasing the size of the Senate. As the honorable member for Indi pointed out, it is possible that in another seven years the ratio of representation in this House might be even less than it is to-day. What do we propose to do about all this? Do we propose to go along in the same old way? Or shall we ask the people for permission to alter section 24 of the Constitution in the desired direction?
When the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was speaking on this matter when the redistribution proposals were before the House, he said that although there were only 36 senators in the first Parliament there were 75 members of the House of Representatives. But what the right honorable gentleman did not say was that that position was specifically covered by the Constitution which provides that irrespective of the number of senators, the number of members of the House of Representatives shall be 75. Therefore, the argument he used on that occasion was absolutely irrelevant and had no application to section 24 of the Constitution. I think it is about time that those people in the metropolitan areas who support this proposal lent their support to the Labour Party’s policy because, after all, we are all the one nation. Why should the votes of five people in the city areas be equal to only three votes of people in country areas, as would be the position if we adopted the principle of 20 per cent, under or over the quota? On the last occasion on which the quota was ascertained it was fixed at 48,363. If we adopted the 20 per cent, proposal, it would mean that the number of electors in each electorate outside the metropolitan area would be 39,000 as against 58,500 in the metropolitan area. Who could call that true democracy? Who could say that it is true democracy to provide that the voice of six people in the city shall be only as strong as that of four people in country areas? This would be a complete negation of our democratic principle of one man one vote, or one vote one value. Is there any one in this chamber who can argue that the last State election in South Australia, at which a government was returned with 44 per cent, of the votes, was a fair election? Is that democracy? Of course not! When a referendum is held, the issues submitted are decided on the vote of the majority of the people in a majority of the States, not on the principle suggested by the Country Party under which votes in the country areas would have greater value than votes cast in the city area. When members of the Country Party vote in their caucus, is the value of their votes governed by the size of their electorates? Of course not! Each member has only one vote. We have to remember all these things, and I suggest to honorable members opposite that in no circumstances should they ever be a party to the destruction of the principle of one man one vote or one vote one value.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope). I agree that as a member of the Constitutional Review Committee I did recommend a certain course, and I make no apology for that. But at no time did I ever agree that people representing country electorates sometimes three times as big as Victoria and even bigger should have exactly the same, or substantially the same, number of electors as those in the crowded cities who can be reached in a few minutes or half an hour.
.- In the last ten years I think I have spoken on the electoral function of the Department of the Interior on every occasion on which the estimates for that department have been under consideration. I listened with great interest this afternoon and to-night to the speeches that were made on that subject. By and large, they were very good speeches. I do not want to take up too much time to-night. I do not think what I will have to say will take up the full time at my disposal. I interjected when the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) was speaking because I thought he was a long time in coming to the point that he wanted to make. Perhaps on this occasion he took longer than he usually does. I want to say to-night exactly what I have been saying over the last ten years, and it will not be tedious repetition because it is twelve months now since I last spoke on this matter. I notice that I now have a lot more supporters in this chamber than I had before, and I have had them only since the last redistribution proposals were under discussion. If honorable members care, to read “ Hansard” they will find that I have been the only one in this Parliament who has repeatedly spoken on this subject, and when I have spoken on it all sorts of interjections have been made.
For instance, when I spoke on this subject on one occasion before the last election the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) said, either by way of interjection or in a speech, “The honorable member wants to let the country people know that he believes they should have greater representation because there is an election coming on “. That can be read in “ Hansard “ and I think the honorable member will admit that he said it. Because I spoke on that occasion just before an election it did not affect my sincerity. I speak on the subject on every occasion it is before the Parliament, so once at least in every three years my speech must coincide with a period just before an election. The honorable member for Macquarie must have been very hard put to try to win a point from me by bringing up that subject. He did not succeed, of course.
What have I been saying all the time? We heard the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) say, among other things, that we do not want to bring this matter before the Parliament. There is no need to do that. The Electoral Act states that when they are deciding the boundaries of electorates the commissioners have a margin of 20 per cent, over or 20 per cent, below the quota that has been set. I will illustrate how the act works. As honorable members know, I represent the electorate of Mallee in Victoria. It covers an area of 18,500 square miles. Of the 33 seats in Victoria, sixteen cover areas of less than 20 square miles. I know that my electorate, covering 18,500 square miles, is small when it is compared with some of the far-flung electorates of Australia, but it must be remembered that the larger electorates include a lot of desert country, a lot of non-productive country, a lot of country where no people live. In my electorate, the people are fairly well distributed. It covers more than one-fifth of Victoria, but in the last proposed redistribution - which was rejected - I was to get three more sub-divisions. Having an electorate already covering one-fifth of a State, I was to get three more sub-divisions! How could any one agree with that proposal?
There is sufficient provision in the Electoral Act to effect the changes we want. We do not need another act of this Parliament. The commissioners have a margin of 20 per cent, above or 20 per cent, below the quota. If they worked on that basis, country electorates would be smaller in area and in numbers. That is something for which I have been hoping for many years.
It has been said on many occasions that we must adopt the principle of one vote, one value. But that is only a political outlook. What about an outlook directed towards the progress, prosperity and future of this great continent? Surely to goodness, on a subject such as this we can sink our party differences and stand as one in deeds. All the objections to our proposition that have been put before this Parliament are only political objections. Every one knows that.
When I put up the suggestion that if we decentralized political representation wc would be able to decentralize population more freely, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said -
Does the honorable member for Mallee think for one moment that if there were more members of Parliament representing the country in smaller electorates people would go from the cities to those electorates for that reason?
The honorable member said that high freights discouraged people from living in country areas. I know that freights are a State matter. I also know that in Victoria there are two State electorates for every Federal electorate. The honorable member said that the freight content in country prices stops people from living in the country. Impractical as he is on that subject, the honorable member did not realize that if we had enough country representation in the Parliament we would soon reduce freights. A Federal Government cannot do it, but a State Government can. Having reduced freights, you would be able to set up factories and centres of industry throughout this great country.
Honorable members opposite are making interjections of a political nature, but I am dealing with the subject on non-party lines. I would not like to debate this question in the city electorates of some honorable members, but I challenge anybody in this Parliament or out of it to debate it in the decentralized areas. Members of the Labour Party always say, “Why do not members of the Liberal Party and Country Party test their policy in an area like East Sydney? “ But members of the Labour Party never come up to the Mallee to test their policy, or, if they do test it in a halfhearted way, they always withdraw in ignominious defeat.
I want to say one other thing that is absolutely non-political. Under the Electoral Act, three commissioners are appointed. Once they are appointed they have to a large extent the responsibility for the future of this country, politically and perhaps economically. They have a very important job. They are men of high standing. Of the three, a chairman is elected. If the chairman becomes ill, the other two members constitute a quorum and one of them is elected chairman. He has a casting vote. So what happens? One man can decide the issue. He has the casting vote. If the two men disagree on something that is before them in relation to re-distribution, the chairman, having casting vote, decides. If that point does not sink home to honorable members opposite, it is pretty hard to get them to comprehend anything. Stronger than the Prime Minister of this country would be that one commissioner, acting as chairman. He would be stronger in the influence that he would have on the future of this country. I believe that the system should be overhauled.
– What happens if the three commissioners become ill?
– I am accustomed to attempts to distract me. The honorable member for Phillip asks: What would happen if the three commissioners became ill? 1 think that question should be circulated far and wide throughout this country. Of course, if they were all ill, the Government would soon appoint another three. That would not be very hard to do.
– He is baiting us, Mr. Chairman.
– The interjections directed at mc are indicative of the quality of’ the thought of Opposition members on this subject - mot generally, but on this subject.
I have made my contribution to this subject. I have said the same thing for many years, and I stand by it. As the years go by and as Australia’s population grows, there is an increasing interest in electoral matters. If this is to become a greater nation than it is to-da’y, and if our future is to be what we would like it to be, we will have to decentralize our population. I have often said before - many members of State parliaments do not agree with me - that all these spreadofpopulation committees and conferences that are held on decentralization are not worth the paper on which one could write the names of the people who attend them. I believe that the only way we can decentralize population or make a genuine attempt to do so is by decentralizing political representation.
– I wish to refer only briefly to the section of the estimates for the Department of the Interior in relation to electoral matters. I remind members of the Australian Country Party who have spoken on this question of votes and values that in the previous Parliament, when the coalition of which they formed a part had a majority of about 30 on the floor of this chamber, they lined up and voted against a proposal to give full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. Let them consider that along with the words that they have uttered to-night on values, votes and representation.
I propose to direct my remarks on the estimates for the Department of the Interior to matters which I believe vitally concern the planning and development of the Australian Capital Territory. It should be remembered - I want to make this point at the outset - that in this capital city itself, as distinct from the whole of the Territory, the Commonwealth owns all the land and has the power to say that land shall be made available for occupation either on a residential basis or on a commercial or business basis. The department exercising that power can decide where business areas are to be established in the city.
Having that point particularly in mind, Mr. Chairman, I say straight away that the present Government, in exercising that power, has chosen to deny to individual shopkeepers any right, any chance or any possibility of securing shop sites that they themselves can own. From time to time representations have been made to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), the Government and the Department of the Interior, the estimates of which are under discussion, urging that in the offering of leases for business and commercial purposes opportunities should be given for individual businessmen and individual shopkeepers to secure their own leases and to build their own premises.
I remind the committee and the Minister that I have put forward this proposition on more than one occasion; but on 9th August last year-
– Order! I remind the honorable member that the matter he is discussing now would be discussed more appropriately under the proposed vote for the Australian Capital Territory when the estimates for the Territories of the Commonwealth are under discussion. I remind the committee that honorable members have discussed relevancy. If the relevancy rule were applied strictly, debate in committee on the proposed expenditures would be limited to those matters which are included in the bill.
In the interests of more cohesive debate and to assist honorable members in their consideration of the bill, the Chair over recent years has relaxed the rule to allow honorable members, when considering a proposed expenditure, to deal with matters, including those in the proposed expenditures for works, which came under the administration or control of the department or departments, the votes for which were before the committee. That change did create some problems of duplicated debate when a proposed expenditure was under one department and administration was under another. However, it was never intended that the relaxation of the rule should allow a duplicated debate, but only a wider debate. lt is, I suggest, a matter of common sense that a debate on a particular matter should take place on the proposed expenditure which is the most appropriate. The choice may be difficult and may have to be made somewhat arbitrarily. That ,is not to say that a duplicated debate docs not and cannot take place; but, obviously, it is the duty and responsibility, of the Chair to keep debate within the bounds of reason. That is why 1 made a suggestion to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) before the suspension of the sitting and why I now say to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory that the matter to which he is now referring would be discussed more appropriately in the debate on the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory.
– Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, would you allow mc (o say to you that I was directing my remarks to the section of the departmental estimates which applies to the salaries of the officers concerned with the administration of the Department of the Interior. The administration of the Australian Capital Territory is one of the main functions of that department. I did not propose to refer to expenditure on any works or services within the Territory. My remarks were directed to the policies that are being followed in the Territory. Those policies are implemented by the Government obviously on the advice of the officers whose salaries are under discussion by the committee. I suggest with the greatest respect, Mr. Chairman, that on that basis I would be entitled to refer to policies which are being applied in the National Capital under the administration of the Department of the Interior.
– I would say that the subject-matter of the honorable, member’s speech is not related directly to the salaries of the officers concerned. Therefore, I would sustain the point of view that I expressed, namely, that it would be more appropriate for him to speak on that matter in the debate on the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory. I say to the honorable member that the decision of the committee in not agreeing to the suggestion that was put forward by the Minister rather supports my contention.
– I wish to speak to the point of order, Mr. Chairman. When the Minister made his suggestion earlier this evening, I pointed out to the committee that all the Opposition wanted to do was to proceed with, a discussion of the items under the control of the Minister for the Interior.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has made it clear to all concerned that he is discussing policy matters under the direct control of the Minister for the Interior and not of the Minister for Territories. These matters are matters of policy affecting the Australian Capital Territory. May I suggest to you, Sir, that you did not give a firm ruling; you made a suggestion, first, to the honorable member for Hindmarsh as to the course that he might take. You did not give a binding ruling then; nor have you done so since. Therefore, I suggest that we should not take up in this discussion the time allotted to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. We should permit him to proceed to discuss matters which rightly come within the scope of the Minister for the Interior.
– Mr. Chairman, I do not think you need any assistance in this matter, but I should like to say to the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) that this is what I had in mind earlier. I specifically suggested to the committee that we might include in the debate matters arising under the vote for the Australian Capital Territory in the Territories section of the departmental estimates. The committee rejected that suggestion. I submit, Sir, that the matters dealing with the Australian Capital Territory and the issues arising out of this point of order were before the committee at that stage and the committee rejected the suggestion that I made, which would have enabled the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory to deal with this subject. I think that puts him out of court on this occasion; but be will have his opportunity when the vote for the Australian Capital Territory comes up under the Territories section of the departmental estimates.
– My understanding of the suggestion made by the Minister for the Interior earlier in the debate was that, if we dealt with matters concerning the Australian Capital Territory now, we would be denying ourselves the opportunity to debate them later. Many honorable members would not have been prepared to take part in a debate at this stage on a matter that they had assumed would bc coming before the Parliament probably in two or three weeks’ time. Here I ask for your guidance, Mr. Chairman. You have suggested that it would be more appropriate for me to deal with these matters on another occasion. Am I bound by your suggestion, or is it a ruling?
– May I say to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory that that is the way I would like to put it, but if he is not prepared to accept the suggestion, there is a firmer way in which the Chair could put it. The point raised by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is correct, in that we did not want a duplication of the debate. On the other hand, I think there is some confusion in the minds of some members of the committee. I have said that this subject would be more appropriately discussed when we are dealing with the estimates for the Territories, of which the Australian Capital Territory is one. The Australian Capital Territory is not under the administration of the Minister for Territories; it is under the administration of the Minister for the Interior, and he is responsible for it when any matters concerning it are mentioned during a discussion of the. estimates for the Territories. All we wanted to do originally was to transfer the debate on the Australian Capital Territory from the debate on the estimates for the Territories to the debate on the estimates for the Department of the Interior, which are now before the committee, and so establish some continuity. I still say that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory should make his remarks on this subject when we are dealing with the estimates for the Territories.
– I am a little perturbed about this ruling. With great respect, I think that it is splitting hairs, is being far too technical and is having the effect of putting the Parliament in a strait-jacket. It is preventing members from organizing their speeches in advance. If you are going to continue with this highly technical way of deciding whether an honorable member can speak now or at some other time, on some other section of the estimates, it will be utterly impossible for an honorable member to know whether he will be permitted to speak to-day, to-morrow or the next day. If, after sitting in this place for hours and hours on end, he finally gets the call, he must then wait for the wisdom of the Chair to determine whether he is technically correct in speaking on that occasion or whether he would be technically correct in speaking at some other time. 1 think you will understand the point I am putting. I am not putting it against you personally, Mr. Chairman, but I am putting it against the ruling. This is further evidence of the trend in the Parliament in recent years. The Parliament itself, by its own decisions, is allowing its members to be stifled, gagged and hamstrung when the greatest possible latitude should be allowed to members who want to discuss matters of national importance. I think this highly technical, silly, hair-splitting idea of saying that an honorable member cannot speak now but technically must speak at some other time is wrong. The plain fact is that we arc talking about a matter that should be answered by the Minister for the Interior. He has already adjudicated upon ii and he should be explaining his decision now. I would ask you not to press your ruling, Sir.
– With regard to the point of order raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I would say three things. First, there is no suggestion of stopping a member from speaking on a particular subject. Secondly, this is not a matter of splitting hairs. There is no thought of the Minister for the Interior not having responsibility when the estimates for the Territories, including the Australian Capital Territory, are before the committee. But the point for honorable members to understand is that the committee has before it estimates relating to certain functions of certain departments. As I intimated earlier, if a strict ruling were given on this point, the debate would be even more limited than the honorable member for Hindmarsh suggests it is, and I do not agree with his suggestion. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that honorable members would not know what section of the estimates would be before the committee. I point out that every honorable member has a copy of a bill containing all the estimates for all the departments and all the functions of the departments. Therefore, honorable members shall know some time ahead exactly what matter they want to debate and what department deals with the matter. The remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh are not valid and there is no substance in his point of order.
– I refer to Division No. 231, sub-division 1, Salaries and Payments in the nature of Salary. I suggest that this estimate should be reduced by £1 if the officers to whom these salaries are paid are responsible for the policies being followed by the Government at the present time.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed vote, £15,537,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed vote, £12,139,000.
.- I wish to direct my remarks to the proposed expenditure by the Department of Shipping and Transport. Before doing so, I want to congratulate the Minister on supplying honorable members with a very good outline of his proposals for expenditure by the department. My only complaint is that this document has only just been received by me and I have not had time to look at it fully. From the little I have seen of it I think it does credit to the Minister.
Twelve months have passed since we last discussed the estimates for this department, and in that time nothing has been done to strengthen Australia as a maritime nation. The same mistakes have been made as were made in the past. The old “ don’t care “ attitude of the Government towards its shipping responsibilities still holds a steady course. This year’s estimates are even more uninspiring than last year’s. The same items appear, and there is no sign of any expansion in this most important field. The Government is evidently not interested in keeping Australia up to scratch as an island continent, although ships are necessary for this nation’s survival.
Dark clouds are gathering to the north of us. We have troops in Malaya. Can we get them back if they should be needed for the defence of their homeland? The answer, of course, is maybe, if some kind country will provide the ships. The committee may remember how those troops went to Malaya. We had no ships of our own to take them there, and so we had to scout around the world and find ships in which to send them. The Government found a ship called “ Flaminia “, which was flying the Panamanian flag. ft was a ship known in the shipping world as one using a flag of convenience, a ship that would be tolerated by few countries. Ships that fly flags of conveniencedo not have to keep up the standards internationally required by law of ships otherwise registered. Owners may register such ships in Panama, Honduras or Liberia and literally get away with murder.
This was the only kind of ship that our Government could find to take our troops to Malaya. Black clouds are now gathering and thunder is now rumbling in Malaya, and it may be necessary to bring our troops back. But how shall we get them back? 1 know that honorable members recall what took place in 1941 when it was necessary to bring our troops back from the Middle Bast. Some people say that we did the wrong thing, but a lot of people say that we did the right thing at that time. Acrimonious words passed between Mr. Churchill, as he was then, and Mr. Curtin. Mr. Churchill said that our troops could not return to Australia because ships were not available to bring them back. Honorable members know that, at great inconvenience and much embarrassment to the nation and the allied cause, our troops were brought back to
Australia. We are now in a similar position again, Mr. .Temporary Chairman. We have no ships left to meet the needs of the nation. And this Government is doing very little about that situation. Is not it time something was done? Is not it time our shipbuilding industry was put into top gear and the necessary ships built? Are we as a nation always to let the other fellow do our job? These are questions that the Minister for Shipping and Transport should answer, for the nation wants the answers. Australia is passing through critical times.
Over the last twelve months, several honorable members on the Government side of the chamber, including the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), have criticized the time that is taken in building ships in Australia. By the graciousness of the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), certain figures have been supplied to honorable members. Those figures have been quoted before, but I should like to quote them again. We now have a fresh set of figures, and I think it is necessary that honorable members know what they are. As you know, Mr. Temporary Chairman, we recently constructed at Whyalla a 40,000-ton tanker named the “ P. J. Adams “. It was built in two years and six months. Just before the order for that vessel was placed, the Department of the Navy placed an order in the United Kingdom for a naval tanker of 26,000 tons. That ship took three years and two months to build, although it was a vessel of only 26,000 tons compared with the 40,000 tons of the tanker built in Australia in a shorter time. ‘ This should show that the work-force in Australia is capable of competing with its counterpart overseas. To show just what can be done in times of stress, I should like to point out that the corvette “Bunbury”, of some 1,000 tons displacement, was built during the war in three months. The keel was laid in November, 1941, and the ship was completed in February of the following year. This should be sufficient to satisfy every doubting Thomas who says that we cannot build ships quickly enough in Australia. Of course, we can, and we have proof that we can do it.
I now turn directly to the estimates for the Department of Snipping and Transport, Mr. Temporary Chairman’. I notice that under Division No. 368, sub-division 3, a subsidy of £150,000 is again to be provided for the shipping service to Papua and New Guinea. This subsidy is paid to Burns Philp and Company Limited. I think that the Minister should have another look at this subsidy and eliminate it. I have here a copy of the August issue of the “ Stock Exchange of Melbourne Official Record “, which contains an interesting report of the financial results of this company that the Government finds it necessary to subsidize to the tune of £150,000 a year. The report states -
Group profit rose by £170,938 … to £1,732,145 returning 26.2% on capital. Dividend was steady at 10%, and required £659,865 on enlarged capital.
I shall read only part of the report, Mr. Temporary Chairman. It states also that this company owns some 53 other companies, and adds-
Earnings from shipping activities were inadequate to cover the high working expenses, accentuated by longer time in port and exceptionally wet weather. An order has been placed for a 4,000 ton cargo vessel to be built at Newcastle.
Revenues from investments and other ventures were normal. Investments in listed companies are shown at cost of £10,597,050 with a market value of £19,579,110 . . .
Here is a company that controls in its own right 53 other companies. Yet it evidently tells the Government that its shipping is not paying and the Government comes to light with a subsidy of £150,000 a year? That is altogether wrong. We know what is said in business: What you lose on one activity, you gain on another. ls the Government to subsidize the company if it loses a little money on its hotel at Samarai? This company, although it made a profit of £1,732,145 in the year ended 31st March, 1963, comes along with its hand out and the Government gladly meets iis demands by paying a subsidy of £150,000 a year. In fairness to the taxpayers who contribute the revenues on which Australia depends, this should be stopped, Mr. Temporary Chairman.
A lot of the ships operating in Australian waters are manned not by Australians but by seamen from other countries who receive rates of pay not so high as those paid to Australians and who work under much worse conditions. Yet the Government be’lieves(‘ that it must subsidize this company! This is altogether wrong and I hope that the Minister will have another look at the subsidy and eliminate it.
I now turn to the schedule of salaries and allowances, which shows that the secretary of the department receives a salary nearly twice as great as that of the Director of Navigation. Surel’y the director should be the head” of the department. Not for one moment would I suggest at this stage that the salary of the secretary should be reduced.
– Be realistic.
– I am being realistic. I am speaking on behalf of a very highly qualified professional man who, by the action of this Government, has been relegated to sixth position in ranking in the Department of Shipping and Transport. The Deputy Directors of Navigation, who are very important men, are completely lost in the crowd. If the department is to function efficiently and to get men with the necessary qualifications, a sum that is, relatively, more than a pittance must be offered. The men of whom I am talking have not spoken to me about this matter, and I do not want the Minister to think that they have. When one compares the salaries paid to these men with rates paid in the maritime industry generally, one sees that these officers of the department have not been looked after properly.
Since the Estimates were presented last year something unusual has happened in relation to tankers. R. W. Miller and Company Proprietary Limited, an Australianowned organization, asked the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) for permission to trade on the Australian coast in an effort to compete with the big monopoly. The companies concerned in the monopoly are the Shell Company of Australia Limited, Vacuum Oil Company Proprietary Limited, Caltex Oil (Australia) Proprietary Limited and British Petroleum Australia Limited. We all know that when tenders are called, all of those companies submit the same price. Now an Australian company has come forward and, in terms of the Navigation Act, has asked for permission to trade on the Australian coast. The Prime Minister, who has taken this matter, out of the hands of the Minister for’ Shipping and
Transport has given permission for one tanker to be imported.
What has happened in the meantime? The Shell company has registered a company in Australia - I am not sure of its name but it could be Shell Tank Ships (Australia) Proprietary Limited - and has asked for permission to run its vessels on the Australian coast, manned by Australian crews. It has taken that company all this time to do that. Even that step would not have been taken had it not been for pressure from this side of the chamber. In justice to the men employed in the Australian mercantile marine, we claim that they should be employed on their own coast but this Government has done nothing to support us. The result is that we have had ten foreign ships engaged constantly on the coast carrying oil. I am afraid that the Miller company will be forced out and the overseas monopoly allowed to maintain its control of this coastal trade. I hope that the Prime Minister, who has seen fit to take this matter out of the Minister’s hands, will not allow this to happen. When the overseas oil companies were given permission to refine oil in Australia they should have been told-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I should like to refer to the question which I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) this morning relating to the irregularity of shipping to ports on the far north-west coast of Tasmania. I asked whether the Minister would consider immediately providing a regular weekly service by the vessel “ South Esk “ between the ports of Melbourne, Stanley and Burnie. I point out that the present irregular service is causing a great deal of concern in the port of Stanley. In the twelve months from January to December, 1962, the “South Esk “ called at Stanley on 44 occasions but for the first nine months of this year, from January to September, 1963, it has called only eighteen times. At present we have 400,000 super, feet of timber waiting on the wharfs because the vessel has not called for two and a half weeks. We believe that this is too long to be left without a visit. It is most important .that the vessel call regularly because 80 per cent, of the produce trade through the port of Stanley has been lost by the irregularity of calls. We have had to send goods through Devonport and Stanley, and this has increased our freight costs. It costs an additional £1 a ton to divert freight through those ports. The Marine Board has lost over £200 a month in port revenue, without taking into consideration the very important fact that members of the Waterside Workers Federation, and the town as a whole, have suffered a considerable loss of income.
I want to say very briefly that business houses in Stanley - I refer to produce merchants, shipping agents and so on - cannot be expected to do business in this haphazard way. A vessel has not called at the port for two and a half weeks - far too long - and we do not know when it will call again. Further down the coast at Burnie the “ Bass Trader “ calls every Monday morning and at Devonport the “ Princess of Tasmania “ makes three calls a week. This means that business houses in those ports can organize their shipping schedules without any trouble. I make a plea for the inclusion of Stanley as a regular weekly call by the “ South Esk “ while it is doing the run between Melbourne, Burnie and Stanley. I thank the Minister for his offer to telephone the Australian National Line about this matter and I look forward to the position being eased in the near future.
In the time remaining to me I wish to deal with the need for a second passengervehicle ferry for the Bass Strait service. On 24th September the “ Princess of Tasmania “ will have completed four years service as a passenger-vehicle ferry operating between Melbourne and Devonport on the north-west coast of Tasmania. I should like to cite a few interesting statistics about this vessel. To the end of July of this year - in a little over three and a half years - the “ Princess of Tasmania “ had made 1,116 crossings, had travelled 250,000 sea miles and had carried 325,000 passengers, 95,000 cars and 29,700 commercial vehicles. We are delighted that quite a big ceremony will be held at Devonport at 9.30 a.m. next Saturday to welcome the 333,333rd passenger to travel on this vessel.
I want to point out that the urgent need for a similar type of vessel to cope with the increased passenger and freight traffic by this sea road to and from Tasmania has been evident for some time. Various Ministers for Transport and the Tasmanian Government have prepared well-documented cases for the provision of a second ferry and have presented them to the Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport and to ,the Australian Transport Advisory Council over the past two and a half years. These approaches date from very soon after the introduction of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ on the Bass Strait service.
In 1961 the then State Minister for Transport and now Chief Secretary, Mr. Connolly, made the first submission to the Australian Transport Advisory Council. The Minister for Shipping and Transport made no definite promises but said that he would confer with the Australian National Line to see whether it was interested in building and operating another ferry. That was two years ago and we are still waiting for information. Last year the present State Minister for Transport, Mr. Harry McLaughlin, again put forward a well-documented case for the provision of a second ferry. He stressed to the Advisory Council that the present vessel could not cope with the passenger bookings and that the State was suffering as a result. Again the Minister for Shipping and Transport said that the matter would be investigated and viewed sympathetically.
We realize, of course, that the Australian National Line, under its Act of Parliament, is required to show a reasonable profit on its operations and that return from freight carried is a very important factor in any consideration of the construction of another ferry. For this reason - I emphasize this - a survey of the cargo potential between the north-west ports and the mainland was made. The results of this survey were made available with a paper which dealt with the difficulties experienced by tourists in securing bookings on the “ Princess of Tasmania”. This survey demonstrated the fact that the pressure of bookings is not confined only to peak periods - the summer months of the year.
This detailed information was presented by the Acting Minister for Transport in Tasmania, Mr. Neilson, to the meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council held in Adelaide on 27th and 28th June this year. As the Minister for Shipping and
Transport is aware, the council supported the resolution recommending that the Government consider the construction of a second vessel with the least possible delay. Again the Australian Transport Advisory Council lent its support to the request that a second vessel be constructed. At the meeting the Minister again referred to the profitability of running a second vehicular ferry and the Tasmanian Government said that it would subsidize any losses on the present ferry and a second ferry to the extent of £40,000 a year for the first three years of operation of the two vessels. 1 emphasize - I think the Minister realizes this fact - that time is not on our side. Representations seeking a second Melbourne-to-Devonport ferry were first made about three years ago and have been made at three successive meetings of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, but still we have not reached a decision. If a favorable decision were given to-night to build a second vessel two-and-a-half to three years would elapse before the vessel could come on to the run. 1 point out, as the Tasmanian Government has already pointed out, that there are three very strong reasons why a second vessel should be built. In the first place a second Bass Strait passenger and vehicle ferry will be an insurance against any emergency that may arise at any time. The
loss of the present “ Princess of Tasmania “ could have serious consequences for Tasmania. While we hope that this will never happen, we must be realistic in the matter. In recent weeks two freighters - the “ Karoon “ and the “ Beltana “-have run aground on a reef at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The export of most of our primary and secondary products from the north-west coast of Tasmania is now geared to a daily ferry service to Melbourne using semi-trailers and containers. Any dislocation of this service due to the “ Princess of Tasmania “ going off the run would be a severe blow to Tasmania’s industries. Such a disaster would be reflected in the hotel and motel business, which has been modernized and expanded to provide for the needs of tourists brought to Tasmania by the “ Princess of Tasmania “.
In the second place I stress that the tourist industry is vital to Tasmania’s economy. Many people are to-day unable to secure accommodation on the “ Princess of Tasmania “. This unsatisfied demand is no longer limited to the peak months but exists almost throughout the year. I have before me an official schedule of passengers and cars carried on the “ Princess of Tasmania “ for the twelve months ended August, 1963. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate the schedule in “ Hansard “.
I point out that the schedule shows that the average number of passengers transported on trips between Melbourne and Devonport for ten months of last year was 310 and the average number transported in the same period between Devonport and Melbourne was 305. The full complement of passengers on the vessel is 333. That number was exceeded on seven occasions last year. Do not ask me where the extra people were placed; they were apparently so pleased to get to the lovely State of Tasmania that they did not mind some inconvenience. Only. in the month of July was the average loading of passengers less than half the capacity of the ship and that occurred only on the run from Melbourne to Devonport. Sailings of the ferry next December and January were fully booked fifteen months ago.
Now let me refer to the status of booking sheets issued by Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited, the principal agents of the vessel. I point out that waiting lists for bookings on the vessel are not closed until the lists contain 120 names of intending passengers. This means that 333 available berths on the vessel are filled and then 120 names are added to the waiting list before the waiting list is closed. The record shows that the waiting lists are already closed for no fewer than 32 trips between now and the end of January.
These facts cannot be disputed and they lend ample weight to the contention of the Tasmanian Tourist Offices that if twice the capacity of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ was available to-day there would be little or no difficulty in doubling the number of passengers travelling by sea.
There is now no such thing as far as Tasmania is concerned as an off season. There is a steady flow of tourists to Tasmania in the early autumn and winter, and, with the reduced accommodation tariffs on offer from hotels and motels and the opening of the magnificent outlet road from the west coast to the north-west, thousands more tourists can be expected in the future provided sea bookings from Melbourne can be secured. It is a pity that time does not permit me to read extracts from reports of tourist offices in each of the capital cities on the mainland. In every case the story is the same - more people would go to Tasmania if there was adequate accommodation on the “ Princess “. Those people think the building of a second ferry is more than justified. I know that the Australian National Line would submit that in a couple of years’ time the “Empress of Australia” will be completed and will bc on the run from Sydney to Hobart, thus relieving some of the pressure from the “ Princess of Tasmania “, but I do not think the introduction of the “ Empress of Australia “ will relieve the situation at all.
If anything were to happen to the “ Princess of Tasmania “ this island State would be in a sorry plight. Industry and trade would be disorganized. The number of people seeking to book a passage on the “ Princess of Tasmania “ justifies the construction of a second vessel to operate on the Melbourne to Devonport run.
Another point I wish to make in support of the construction of a second ferry relates to the cargo potential offering. A survey recently taken shows that factories are being expanded and production will increase at Associated Pulp and Paper Manufacturers in Burnie, Australian Titan Products in Burnie, Devon Cannery at Devonport, International Canners at Ulverstone, Goliath Portland Cement at Railton, the Tasman Scottish Carpet Manufacturing Company at Devonport and Tootals at Devonport. We can expect increased production. If we cannot get our products away to Melbourne by sea in the traditional manner we will be in a very serious plight. I have already pointed out in a question to the Minister this morning that even now on occasions the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and the “ Bass
Trader “ cannot take the cargo that is offering and some of it must wait for the next trip. What will the position be when the industries in the north-west increase their production?
– The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) put up a very sincere case for an extension of services by the Australian National Line to the island State of Tasmania. I feel certain that his comments were justified and I am sure that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) will do everything in his power to see that Tasmania gets the service that it deserves in keeping with the amount of trade available there.
I wish to direct attention to the proposed appropriation of £1,000,000 for the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission out of a total proposed appropriation of £12,139,000 for the Department of Shipping and Transport. The amount provided for the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission will help to finance a large construction programme of new ships, which I understand will include a passengervehicular motor ship for the SydneytoTasmania service, a 7,500 tons dead weight bulk cargo vessel and a 21,400 tons dead weight bulk carrier. I understand also that the appropriation is required to provide necessary accommodation at Sydney and Brisbane for the roll-on roll-off vessels that will enter the trade and to provide appropriate facilities at those terminals. I should like to extend my congratulations to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission on its enterprise in the operation of the Australian National Line. That is a very successful shipping venture which is providing a very modern service. In fact, it is providing what one might call a new concept in shipping - the sea-road service by “ Princess of Tasmania”, “Bass Trader” and “South Esk “. It is very interesting to note from an examination of the statistics relating to the Australian National Line that its finances are sound. In the document made available by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), we find that at 30th June, 1963, the net profit of the line after payment of tax was £1,340,736. I think that is a little lower than the profit for last year. It is also interesting to note that a dividend of 6 per cent, has been paid to the Commonwealth.
As one who has some knowledge of shipping, I look upon the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission as being a very efficient organization and one upon which the members of this House can justly bestow their congratulations. I do not forget, of course, that it is under the very capable administration of a Minister who brings to bear upon his administration a business acumen which is reflected in the successful operations of the commission. The Australian National Line itself is in the hands of a very capable staff. It is in the hands of men who are experienced in shipping and who are qualified to carry out the functions entrusted to them. 1 think honorable members on this side will appreciate that a successful shipping venture such as the Australian National Line must be unfettered by any overriding authority. From my own knowledge, I do know that the line is unfettered, that there is no regimentation, that the officers of the line are allowed to conduct their business on sound business principles. How different this is from the situation which existed under the Labour Administration from 1945 to 1949! It is interesting to note that in 1945-46, the Australian National Line suffered a loss of £1,874,000. In 1946-47, it lost £4,226,000, and in 1947-48, the loss was £4,447,000. The total loss sustained by the line in three years was £10,000,000. No doubt, if honorable members opposite are interested, they will ask themselves just why the line could not make a profit then as it does now under this Government. I venture to say that the reason why it could not make a profit then was that the Labour Government endeavoured to conduct the business of the Australian National Line in accordance with socialized principles. In my view, socialization as applied to shipping will never work.
I should like to direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that whilst the Australian National Line is doing such a remarkably fine job in the service of the country we should not overlook the fact that the private shipowners also are performing a valiant job. We are inclined to overlook the fact that the private shipowners were the pioneers of the shipping industry many years ago. In the early 1880’s, the private shipowners were responsible for the opening up and development of Australia. They were responsible for opening up the sea lanes between one colonial port and another, as our ports were known in those days. Those pioneers suffered great hardships and took both physical and financial risks in pursuing the trade which they were establishing round our coastline. They were men of great enterprise and we can rightly grant a large measure of credit for the development of Australia as we know it to-day to those pioneer shipowners of many years past.
We should recognize also that the private shipping industry has borne the real brunt of industrial militancy. Unfortunately, that militancy is still with us. It is designed to contain the industry, to smash it and to wreck our national economy. I am sorry to have to say that the industry is being subjected to as much militancy to-day as it has over past years. I learned from a responsible source to-day that the militant attitude of the waterside workers on the Sydney waterfront to the shipowners has never been worse than it is to-day. That is a very sad situation and a very disquieting one.
We must remember, too, that in developing the shipping industry over the years, the Australian shipping companies possessed many fine vessels which we do not see on the coast to-day. I refer to such vessels as “ Kanimbla “, “ Manoora “, “Manunda”, “Westralia”, “Duntroon”, “ Orungal “, “ Ormiston “, “ Canberra “Zealandia”, “Katoomba”, “Dimboola” and “ Karoola “. Those were all wellknown names on the Australian coast a few years ago. Now there is not one Australian passenger vessel operating on the coast. This must cause us a good deal of disquiet, a good deal of sadness and a good deal of concern. I agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), who has long experience in shipping, possesses a lot of knowledge of the industry and speaks with great sincerity about it, that if we were involved in another war we would not have the ships in which to send our troops overseas that we had during the last war and which rendered such wonderful service during that war. Those vessels were of tremendous value to us at that time. I speak now from my own knowledge, as I was on “ Kanimbla “ during the war.
It is interesting to note that in 1950 we had 148 cargo vessels operating on the coast of Australia capable of carrying 672,710 tons of cargo. To-day we have only 132 cargo vessels and our intra-state coastwise trading is almost extinct. So we see that there has been a decline in Australian coastal shipping generally; but I am pleased to say that by making revolutionary changes and following sound progressive administrative policies, private enterprise has revitalized the industry to such an extent that I believe it will be able to recapture much of the trade that has been lost in recent years. I certainly, hope so because Australia depends so much upon the shipping industry. The revolutionary changes to which I have referred can. be seen in the introduction of mechanization to the industry, in the containerization system of cargo carrying. This system consists of the use of standard three-ton 120 cubic feet cargo containers called seatainers, which enable very speedy and efficient loading and unloading of . cargo. The private shipowners have the roll-on roll-off type of vessel which has revolutionized the shipping industry and has produced wonderful results for the Australian National Line. Ships built to-day for the cargo trade are faster than they were and good administration by management has enabled the maintenance of regular schedules, essential for trade efficiency.
Another innovation which has proved very successful is the ability of the shipowner to pick up cargo at the door of the consignor or shipper and deliver it to the door of the consignee. Shipping documentation has been streamlined, so that we find, generally speaking, that the private shipowners have improved the shipping industry to the extent that they are now operating a modern service. They have gone out of their way to cater for the shipper and the consignee in order to attract the trade which they had lost.
In the estimates there is an amount of £150,000 for allocation to Burns Philp and Company Limited, to be used in the maintenance of its shipping line to Papua and New Guinea. As honorable members are undoubtedly aware, this company conducts a service to Papua and New Guinea with the vessels “Bulolo”, “Malekula” and “ Malaita “. I understand that the company is in the course of building a new vessel, “Ela”. It is of interest to note that it is being built by the Australian Shipbuilding Board. The company did not seek to have its ship built overseas, but gave the work to Australian workmen. An important aspect of the agreement relating to the subsidy of £150,000 is that the agreement is based on the fact that the vessels will remain on the Australian register and that copra shipped from the Territories for Australian crushers will be reserved for Burns Philp vessels. Insofar as it is practicable, Governmentcontrolled cargo from Australia to New Guinea will be shipped in the vessels. All in all, it is a great tribute to the pioneering firm of Burns Philp and Company Limited, a private enterprise company which is Australian through and through, that it has received the recognition of the, Government in again receiving a subsidy of £150,000.
.- There were, several points in the speech of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) that were pleasing to me. He said that the Australian National Line was very efficient and that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) was to be congratulated for its activities. However, that very sensible statement was contradicted when he said that the socialization of shipping is not practicable. I ask the honorable member: What is the Australian National Line if it is not a socialized shipping line? It is owned by the Commonwealth Government, which represents the people of Australia.
– The same as Qantas.
– The position is the same with Qantas, as my friend says. I ask the honorable member for Warringah to be a little more sincere. Socialism does work, as he showed by his praise of the Australian National Line, of which this Parliament is proud. I ask the Parliament to extend the activities of the Australian National Line beyond the Australian coastal trade to the overseas trade. By that means we could remove the control by overseas shipping interests of the products exported by this < country.
Whilst the Minister for Shipping and Transport may have done a good job in relation to the Australian National Line, I am concerned at his lack of planning for the ship-building and shipping industries. There is no guiding hand. There is no clear statement of the Government’s policy, of what it proposes to do to maintain existing Australian shipyards. It is not clear whether the Government intends to extend shipbuilding to other centres throughout Australia. Does it intend to remove the strangle-hold that overseas shipping interests have on Australian primary and secondary industries through their control of exports? 1 hope that members of the Country Party are interested in that question. If they are not, I am sure that the people they allegedly represent - the primary producers - are greatly concerned about their products being under the domination and control of overseas shipping interests.
The Labour Party believes in the establishment and development, with full and free operation, of a coastal and overseas shipping line. We believe in the utilization of the present capacity of Australian shipbuilding yards for the construction of shipping for the nation’s needs. We believe that where the programme demands, the Government should initiate the construction of ship-building yards to enable the building of appropriate fast refrigerated cargo ships, oil tankers and passenger ships suitable for the tourist traffic and the transport of migrants to this country. There is an excellent opportunity for the Minister to develop the shipbuilding and shipping industries to provide those facilities. There is a great need for ships to transport our products overseas. Do honorable members realize that every year £670,000,000 worth of our major primary products is completely under the control and domination of overseas shipping interests? There is a great need for the Minister and the Government to give a lead to the nation in the establishment of an overseas shipping line to provide the competition spoken about by honorable members opposite, but about which they do nothing. Competition in the shipping industry would reduce the freight rates payable on our exports. I will deal later with proof of the need to provide this competition. Why does the Government pay private shipping interests to bring migrants here? Why does it not use Australian ships, built in Australian shipyards by Australian workmen and manned by Australian seamen, to bring migrants and tourists to Australia?
I referred earlier to the Minister’s lack of planning. I want to show what is taking place in the Australian ship-building industry. Let me give a few examples of ships being built in Australian shipyards. At Whyalla two 3,250-ton roll-on roll-off ships are being built. These ships are admirably suited for construction by the Cockatoo Island dockyard, by Evans Deakin Proprietary Limited, or the State Dockyard at Newcastle. The Whyalla shipyard has been fitted out to build large ships of from 15,000 to 40,000 tons. It has just completed a tanker of 30,000 tons and is preparing to construct a bulk cargo ship of 40,000 tons for Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Although this shipyard is capable of building such large ships, it is mucking about with small ships of 3,250 tons, suitable for construction in other yards I have mentioned.
I visited the Cockatoo Island dockyard in July of this year. I found that the management was greatly concerned because it had only one ship on the slipway and was fooling the men into believing that another order was in hand. The other order came to hand only a week ago, when the Minister announced that the yard had been given a contract to build a maintenance ship of 15,000 tons for the Australian Services. That dockyard was carrying on under difficulties. It was trying to hold the interest of the men so that they would believe that another order was in hand.
What is the position at the Evans Deakin shipyard? That company has a general purpose bulk carrier on its slipway at present. That ship has been ready for launching since June of this year, but it is just lying there on the slipway. What orders has that shipyard? It has orders for a 24-ft. work boat for the Queensland Government and a vehicular river ferry for use on the Brisbane River. But that yard is capable of building ‘ships of’ 20,000- tons. Its management is prepared to spend a considerable sum of money on modernizing the yard, increasing the size of its yard, its building berths and its cranes and providing the equipment that would be necessary to build ships of up to 40,000 tons. But the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Government just sit back and do nothing at all about it. That gives people some idea of where the orders for those three ships should have been placed.
Let us have a look at another piece of serious bungling. I believe that that is the only way this matter can be described. The State Dockyard in Newcastle, which is capable of building ships of up to 20,000 tons has an order for the construction of three lighthouse ships of about 900 tons gross weight each. It has completed one of them. The second one is almost completed. The third one is now under way. Those ships should not have been built at the State Dockyard in Newcastle. They should have been built at the Walkers’ shipyard at Maryborough. That shipyard has not had an order for more than eighteen months. Its shipbuilding facilities have been lying idle and labour has been dispersed because this Government has not a planned programme of building ships in the various shipyards.
The position is that two ships are being built at Whyalla, whereas they should have been built at the State Dockyard in Newcastle, the Evans Deakin shipyard or the Cockatoo Island dockyard. At present the State Dockyard is in the process of completing an order for three lighthouse ships; that order should have gone to Walkers. At present the Walkers’ shipyard is building one lighthouse supply vessel - a 105 ft. vessel - and the Phoenix shipyard in Tasmania is building the other. Anyone who knows anything about shipbuilding knows that it is cheaper to build two ships in one yard than to build one in each of two yards. But this Government, in order to spread the work, has given the order for one ship to the Phoenix shipyard and the order for the other to the Walkers’ shipyard. Why did not the Government give the order for both of those ships to either the Phoenix shipyard or the Walkers’ shipyard, instead of splitting the order up between the two yards? If the Government had any real shipbuilding programme it would have given the order to one yard. There is a great need for a programme of shipbuilding for existing yards and for the development of the industry in other States. Instead of people talking about closing down one of the existing major yards, they should be talking about building additional yards. For example, I believe that there is a need for a shipyard to be built in Western Australia. This matter can be considered from the viewpoint of the decentralization of industry, or the development of Western Australia; and people who are interested in defence can consider it from the point of view of the defence of this country. A shipyard and the necessary docking facilities should be provided somewhere in Western Australia. However, at present I do not intend to enter into any controversy about the location of such a yard.
In the recent inquiry by the Tariff Board into the shipbuilding industry in Australia, the representatives of every major shipyard in Australia specifically and emphatically made one point, namely that there is a great need for a continuity of orders. Mr. Joselin from the Cockatoo Island dockyard, Mr. McDonald from the Evans Deakin shipyard, Mr. Wilson from the Whyalla shipyard, Mr. Harding from the State Dockyard in Newcastle and Mr. Weymouth from the Australian Shipbuilding Board have all emphasized that there is a great need for a continuity of orders.
I want to cite some figures with which the Minister for Shipping and Transport will be conversant, if he has read the evidence that has been submitted to the Tariff Board to date. These figures give an indication of the planning of this Government. At the Evans Deakin shipyard on 1st May, 1959, there were 594 men employed, of whom 132 were boilermakers. Then the numbers took a dive. On 1st January, 1960, that company was employing 370 men, of whom 26 were boilermakers. Then the numbers started to rise again. On 1st May, 1960, there were 267 men employed, of whom 87 were boilermakers. Of the 920 tradesmen employed on 1st October, 1961, 145 were boilermakers. You, Mr. Temporary Chairman, know as well as I do that at present the total number of men employed there has declined to about 370, but only about 300 of them are working on shipbuilding. How docs the Government expect the industry to carry on under those circumstances?
Notwithstanding all the advantages that the Whyalla yard has, in being able to receive orders placed by the company that owns it, the shipbuilding superintendent of the company, Mr. Wilson, is greatly concerned about the lack of continuity of orders. R. W. Miller (Holdings) Limited has announced that it desires to build tankers in this country, but the Government cannot make up its mind whether or not it wants them built. Mr. Wilson told the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) and me that he was interested in the fact that that company wanted to build tankers. He said that he would be only too happy to be given an opportunity to tender for them. That happened back in July this year. But we still have no definite statement of policy from the Government or what will happen. ls that company to be allowed to build those tankers or is it not? Are we going to remain, as we are at present, under the domination of the various overseas owned and controlled oil monopolies? It is quite obvious from the evidence we have that Australia should be building these ships.
This is the position: The Government says that other countries have the right to transport our wheat overseas. For example, when China buys large quantities from us, what does it do? If supplies the ships to take our wheat away. When the Americans buy our beef, they take it away in their ships. When the British buy our wool, they take it away in their ships. At present iron ore is being sold by this Government to overseas interests. About 64,000,000 tons is to be exported from Mount Goldsworthy at the rate of 4,000,000 tons a year. Large quantities of iron ore are also to be exported from the Tallerin’g Range and1 the Koolanooka Hills. Let us look at what has appeared in the press. The Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ referred to price negotiations and then stated -
Also under negotiation is whether the ore will bc shipped by Japanese ships or ships chartered by the Western Mining Corporation and ils U.S. partners.
The point is that we cannot win any way. We cannot win under any circumstances. If we import crude oil, according to the
Government it has to be transported in overseas-owned ships. If Australia’s primary produce and minerals are exported overseas, they also have to be transported in overseas-owned ships.
I appeal to the Minister for Shipping and Transport to bring forward a positive plan under which Australia will build ships of its own, at least for the oil trade. Mr. R. W. Miller has said that if oil is transported in Australian-built and Australianmanned ships it will not cost any more than an extra farthing a gallon. Let the Minister work that out. When the extra cost is spread over all the Australian consumers it will have no effect on them whatsoever.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 do not want to reply to the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), except to say that he wants this country to have the full and free operation of an Australian overseas shipping line. The very thing of which the people of Australia are afraid is that they would not have the full and free operation of such a line. Look at the turbulent waterfront industry. If we had such a line manned by Australians, because of strikes and Communist control, freights would be higher than they are to-day. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) have heavy responsibilities, because land, sea and air transport embrace very big industries that are tremendously important to the progress and prosperity of the country and to the good living of the people.
I want to deal to-night with the agreement under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. This agreement has been of paramount importance to Australia. It has encouraged decentralization tremendously. We need only look into a little history to see how the amount of money made available under the agreement has increased. In 1949, Victoria was receiving a very small amount. To-day, it is receiving about £2,500,000 per annum more than was available to the whole of Australia in 1949. That is a tremendous increase. When Labour was in office in 1 949 it paid approximately 75 per cent, of the money collected from the petrol tax into Consolidated Revenue and distributed about 25 per cent. To-day, the position is the very opposite. This Government is collecting much more money, but it is distributing approximately 75 per cent, and holding in Consolidated Revenue only 25 per cent.
We in Victoria fought for many years for another big improvement. We said that Western Australia, Queensland and other similar States, with very large areas of barren country, were receiving too much money under the formula, which had regard to area and population. Victoria, a closely settled State with a small area, was getting a very raw deal. After fighting in this Parliament for years and years, we were at last able to have the formula altered so that the factor of motor registration was added to population and area. This lifted Victoria’s share of the petrol tax from 17 per cent, to 19.9 per cent, and meant that many millions of pounds more went to this progressive State of Victoria, in which the Mallee electorate is situated.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport at the moment has great responsibilities, because metropolitan areas are seeking to obtain more of the money that is distributed under the Commonwealth aid roads agreement. After years of fighting, members representing country interests had the act amended to provide that 35 per cent, of the money distributed under the agreement had to be spent on rural roads. When I say rural roads, I do not mean highways or main roads. Years afterwards, still fighting, we had the amount increased to 40 per cent. The act now requires State governments to spend at least 40 per cent, on rural roads.
– Do you think that is too much?
– I believe that this provision has given a boost to decentralization. I understand that a city member is interjecting. I a& him to repeat his question.
– I wondered whether you thought the 40 per cent, was too much.
– For country roads?
– No, I do not think it is enough. The States have to spend at least 40 per cent, on rural roads, but more than 40 per cent, has been spent. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne called a meeting, which was attended by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The Lord Mayor asked that the act provide that 40 per cent, of the money be spent on roads in metropolitan areas. He said: “I do not want to interfere with the amount that is being spent on roads in rural areas. At least 40 per cent, is being used for this purpose. Now we want 40 per cent, to be spent in metropolitan areas “. Any one who stops to think for a few moments will realize, that, as rural roads are not highways or main roads, many millions of pounds must be spent on the main roads that stretch throughout our great continent. If only the bare 40 per cent, was spent on rural roads and the act was amended to provide that 40 per cent, be spent on roads in metropolitan areas, only 20 per cent, would be left. This would not be enough to provide for our great arterial roads and highways. Of course, those advocating this expenditure in metropolitan areas would probably say, “ We will reduce our share by a percentage and the amount available for rural roads will have to be reduced by the same percentage “. If this were done, decentralization would receive the biggest setback it has had in the past twenty years.
The Minister met the Lord Mayor of Melbourne and other lord mayors on a Monday. The Parliament met on the following day. I immediately asked the Minister whether he would disregard the request of the lord mayors to have the act provide that they receive 40 per cent. I have a very high regard for the Minister for Shipping and Transport. He said: “I listened to what they had to say. I have made no promises “. The five-year period of the present agreement will expire on 30th June, 1964, and the agreement must be renewed before then. This means that legislation must be introduced at least during the autumn session of next year.
It was , not very long after this that the Lord Mayor of Melbourne thought that he would obtain the assistance of other lord mayors. So they had another meeting and they formed what is called the Lord Mayors’ Secretariat. Every lord mayor in Australia attended that meeting, except the Lord Mayor of Perth. I think there was some special function in Western Australia at the time and he could not attend. The lord mayors again put up a case to the Minister stressing the need for more money to be spent on roads in metropolitan districts. They said, “Melbourne will grow until it is twice as big as it is now and before very long Sydney will be bigger than ever “. This should not be allowed to happen. Surely if we believe in decentralization, we should support the objectives that will bring it about.
– Do you believe that the money should be spent where the need is greatest?
– Yes, certainly I do. The question asked by a metropolitan member is whether I believe that the money should be spent where the need is greatest. 1 believe that the money should be spent where the need is greatest, and I add the rider that it should be spent where it will do the most good. It will do the most good in the far-flung decentralized parts of this country, because without good roads the primary products cannot be brought to the markets economically and people cannot be encouraged to live in decentralized areas. Many honorable members from metropolitan areas have no idea of how the man on the land lives, yet he is at the very base of our prosperity. I do not underrate the part played by secondary industries, but the man on the land is at the very base of our prosperity. Unless he has good roads, he cannot operate satisfactorily.
The authorities in metropolitan areas such as Melbourne and Sydney can collect a lot of money in rates. They have many ways of financing such developments as road construction. At the present time, 40 per cent, of the money distributed for roads is spent on rural roads and 60 per cent, goes to the State governments, which decide how they will spend it. They may spend some of this balance on rural roads and some in the cities. But I want to put the best possible case against this House acceding to the request of the mayors of metropolitan areas and other representatives from the cities that the act provide that 40 per cent, of the money be spent in metropolitan areas. I think that shire councils and other bodies in decentralized areas are treating this matter too lightly. The lord mayors are not. treating it lightly. They are holding meetings at every opportunity and they are pressing their advocacy in ways that have a telling effect. The country people should rise up against this proposal and say that the formula, which has proved of wonderful benefit to Australia, should be preserved.
I have the greatest confidence in the Minister. I do not think that he will allow the formula to be changed. However, we have in this Parliament more members from metropolitan areas than from country areas and I am, therefore, fearful of what may happen. Only by a concentrated effort and a definite outcry from people in decentralized areas can we be confident that the present system will be retained. This system, as I stated earlier, has proved of great benefit. People who knew the roads ten years ago, or even five years ago, realize that they are improving every year. This must continue if we are to decentralize many of the activities in which we are engaged, and if we are to give Australia a chance to attain greater nationhood.
– Order! I now call the honorable member for Grey, and in doing so I remind the committee that this will be the honorable member’s maiden speech.
.- Mr. Chairman, this is the first opportunity I have had to place on record the sincere regard in which the electors of Grey, including myself, held my predecessor, the late Edgar Russell. His work in handling the affairs of the electorate will long be remembered, and it can be truthfully said of him that he made many friends and no enemies in the electorate which he represented for so many years. I would also like to thank sincerely all the electors of Grey who supported my candidature and elected me to represent them in this Commonwealth Parliament. I am honoured by their trust and confidence, and it is my intention to try to live up to the reputation for service established by the late Edgar Russell.
I recently made an inspection of the dockyards at Whyalla. This yard is said to be - and there is little reason to doubt the statement - the most modern yard in Australia. At the time of my visit it had orders that would occupy its labour force until 1965. It turns out a first-class vessel. The finished product is comparable with the product of any other yard in the world. A Commonwealth subsidy, of a maximum of 33J- per cent., is payable on these vessels, but it should be noted that seldom does the yard draw the maximum allowance. The P. J, Adams vessel to which my colleague recently referred, represented the one and only case in which the maximum was applied for, and that was because of an alteration to the original design. In the case of many other vessels the amount claimed by way of subsidy has been as low as 22 per cent, or 24 per cent., and the management and workers must be commended for their proven efficiency.
The Whyalla dockyard, while not working to its full capacity, has an enviable record in that it has not had to retrench its employees since its commencement, although at times it would have been profitable for the management to do so. The continual turn-over of staff, particularly of tradesmen, is described as being of an enormous extent, and the reason given for this turn-over is that there is no guarantee of, continuity of orders or employment. So we find many men refusing to establish their homes and settle in a town in which the major industry - in many cases the only industry - requiring their particular skills can offer them employment for only a year or so. This turn-over of staff has had a definitely adverse effect on the efficiency of the industry, and it can be blamed for a small portion of the cost of the completed vessels. The cost of production could and would be reduced enormously, and the level of efficiency increased, if a volume of orders were secured that would provide reasonable continuity.
To reach its peak in production and efficiency this yard requires to have on its slipways three vessels of the same design and size, one in the fitting stage, one halfcompleted, and one at the stage at which the keel is being laid. If an order for six vessels of the same’’ design and size were given to this yard - or, for that matter, any other major dockyard in Australia - then, I am sure, the yard could compete in world markets, both in respect of price and quality of finished product, and the subsidy would be reduced to a mere pittance.
Let me refer briefly to subsidies paid in other countries. We find that in Canada, England and the United States subsidies are paid equal to those paid in Australia. In France we find various allowances are granted. There is a construction subsidy and an operating subsidy. Depreciation is allowed to shipping lines to the extent, of 12.5 per cent, per year instead of 12.5 .per cent, over eight years as applies in other industries. In addition, the Government generally pays the interest on ship construction loans over 4i per cent. Twothirds of all crude oil imported into France must be carried in French ships or ships approved by the Ministry, unless a waiver is granted. French flag vessels have a monopoly on coastwise traffic.
In Italy we also find a number of allowances. There is a construction subsidy, a scrapping subsidy and an operating subsidy. There is exemption from taxation and customs duties on all provisions used by Italian ships. Banking institutions may finance construction, conversion or repair of vessels, and the Italian Government will pay 3.5 per cent, per annum towards the interest charges.
Japan pays an operating subsidy. In addition there is a tax exemption up to 3 per cent, of total export sales of shipping services or 80 per cent, of export net income earned through selling shipping services, whichever is the lowest. Then there is a depreciation allowance. An additional 10 per cent, of cost of vessels is allowed in the first year for vessels acquired between 1st January, 1960, and 1st January, 1965. Then loans are granted to the extent of 60 per cent, of construction costs of vessels. In addition the Government gives the benefit of research into high-speed merchant ships.
Many other countries also provide assistance and, of course, many countries are now constructing or purchasing their own national fleets to ensure that their trade will not be subject to overseas domination or priced out of overseas competition by high freight rates. They do not want their trade to be adversely affected by the domination of foreign-controlled shipping lines.
Australia lives primarily by the export of its primary products, and our trading interests can best be looked after by Australians in Australian ships - ships that are owned and controlled by the Commonwealth. To survive in competition on world markets Australia must own, control, build and man its own ships, thus providing employment for its own people and ploughing back into the economy the wages paid, the cost of the material used in construction, freight charges, insurance, profits and taxation on earnings of the ships and all employed on them from the time when the first truck of iron ore was mined to provide the steel.
Australia is one of the larger trading nations of the world, and, being the only nation of any note that does not own or control an overseas trading fleet, Australia has left itself completely at the mercy of the conference lines with, it would seem, the complete approval of the Commonwealth Government. In fact, the history of the Liberal-Country Party Government, with its failure to provide an overseas shipping line, is one of blind subservience to monopoly interests. An illustration of this is the sale by the Government of part of the national shipping line built up by the Labour Government in the 1941-45 war years.
I would like to conclude my remarks by referring to the merchant marine, and with a reference to the United States Merchant Marine Act. Throughout their history the American people have depended on their merchant ships to support their security and prosperity. They have, therefore, granted such aid as was required to keep an active fleet under United States control. Acting through the Congress, they have established many laws to regulate and to promote a merchant fleet that will bc adequate to the nation’s needs. They have assigned to various government agencies, principally the Federal Maritime Board and the Maritime Administration of the United States Department of Commerce, the responsibility for carrying out these laws.
The objectives of the United States Merchant Marine Act and other maritime acts also highlight this viewpoint. These objectives are to provide for the development and promotion of an American merchant marine (1) sufficient to carry the domestic waterborne commerce and a substantial portion of the foreign commerce of the country; (2) capable of serving as a naval auxiliary in time of war; (3) owned and operated under the United States flag by citizens of the United States; (4) composed of the best-equipped, safest and most suitable types of vessels; and (5) manned by trained and efficient citizens of the United States.
It is interesting to examine the aid given by the United States Government to the shipping industry under these acts. There is an operating differential subsidy. An American-owned vessel is granted a subsidy to the extent that the Government will pay the difference between the cost of operating the American vessel and the cost of operating a vessel of the same type in the same service under competitive foreign flags. This subsidy is paid only where the service has been provided on a route essential to the commerce of the United States and applies to the difference in wages, subsistence of officers and crew, insurance, maintenance and repair of the vessel. The operator receiving such a subsidy must accept the following conditions: (1) He must provide a regular service. (2) He must man ships with United States citizens. (3) He must operate efficiently. (4) He must replace ships with vessels built in United States shipyards. (5) He must repair ships in United States shipyards. (6) He must outfit and supply ships with material produced in the United States. (7) He must limit the payment of dividends to a sum not in excess of 10 per cent, of capital necessarily employed. (8) He must retain profits in excess of 10 per cent, for a ten-year period and then repay the Government half of all profits in excess of 10 per cent, up to the full amount of the subsidy.
The cost of this subsidy to the United States Government amounts to about 24 per cent, of the cost of operating an American vessel. Of 526 United States ships active in overseas trade in 1960, 305 were receiving this kind of subsidy, at an annual cost to the Government of 78,000,000 dollars or more than £40,000,000 Australian.
If the United States can succeed in establishing a vast merchant fleet, surely we can. The growers, producers and importers of this great country deserve a better deal than they are receiving. I ask the Government to reconsider its previous attitude and to join the Australian Labour Party in bringing economic stability to the Australian shipbuilding industry and, indirectly, to the Australian people.
– Mr. Chairman, I do not propose to make a speech at this stage. I wish merely to take the opportunity very briefly to compliment the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Mortimer) on his maiden speech, in which he touched on subjects that are very dear ( to his heart. 1 sincerely congratulate him and express the hope that on future occasions he will perhaps have a bigger audience of honorable members when he discusses some of these matters in which he is so interested.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) proposed -
That (he House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, to-night the nation has been informed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission that Australian citizens are being evacuated from Djakarta. This is a very serious situation. The Parliament will adjourn in a few minutes and will not assemble again until Tuesday afternoon. I believe that if any section of the Australian people is entitled to know how serious the position in Indonesia is for Australian citizens at present in that country, the members of this Parliament should know. Wc should not have to rely on reports obtained from newspapers or the Australian Broadcasting Commission to keep us informed of the position. This morning, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is Deputy Prime Minister, a question. The Minister, in his reply, informed us that discussions were to take place this morning between the Ambassador of Indonesia and representatives of the Australian Government. As 1 have said, we have since been informed that our citizens arc being evacuated from Djakarta. We do not know who they are or how serious the position is.
Even if the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) is overseas and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who is Acting Minister for External Affairs, is indisposed, we are entitled to expect the Deputy Prime Minister to make a statement to this House before we adjourn this evening and to tell us how grave the position is. I for one, object strongly to this Parliament being ignored. I think it is an absolute disgrace that members of the Parliament-have to rely on the press of Australia for. information. The newspapers are the very agencies that members of this Parliament have criticized on many occasions. All of us criticize the press. We say that we cannot rely on it because it gives us wrong information. Yet the only information about the situation in Indonesia that we, the people’s elected representatives in this National Parliament, have to rely on is the information that we are given by the press. The Deputy Prime Minister has not informed us how grave the position is. I notice that the right honorable gentleman is now in the chamber. So I shall sit down, hoping that he will make the statement to which, in my opinion, we arc entitled.
.- Mr. Speaker, during the debate last evening on the motion for the adjournment of the House, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron) attacked what he described as organizations masquerading as medical benefits funds and bleeding the public of contributions on the pretext that proper benefits will be paid. He asked the Government to appoint a committee to examine the profits being made by medical benefits funds and he went on to make most unfair and unjustified charges against the funds. He said that there is no doubt that a racket is going on and that the paying public is being exploited. In support of his extravagant charges, he instanced two cases - one his own, in relation to the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited, and the other relating to the Manchester Unity medical benefits fund. I believe that the honorable member was quite sincere in what he said last evening, but 1 know that he drew entirely wrong conclusions from the figures that he quoted. Though I have been a member of the Manchester Unity organization for more than 35 years, I speak to-night not as a spokesman for that fund, but, I hope, for all of the friendly societies and for organizations such as the Hospital Benefits Association of Victoria, which operate in the same way as the friendly society hospital and medical benefits funds.
I want to make it quite clear at the outset that the whole control of these funds is vested in the Commonwealth Department of Health. The scale of refunds is fixed by that department on the basis of the average fee charged for a particular operation or service. Obviously, a Collins-street specialist would charge much more than a general practitioner would charge, and this fact accounts for some of the apparent anomalies. I should like to quote some figures relating to the medical and hospital benefits funds conducted by the Manchester Unity in Victoria at 30th June last.
I will deal with the hospital fund first. There were over 75,000 contributors to the fund and nearly 168,000 persons were covered by it. Contributions amounted to £449,100 and 16,414 claims were met, involving fund benefit of £376,500 and Commonwealth benefit of £141,150. As at 30th June the fund had £337,632 in reserve, which represents less than £4 10s. per contributor. The cost of administering the fund was £61,131, which is only 16s. 2d. per head a year.
There were over 77,000 contributors to the medical fund and nearly 180,000 persons were covered by it. Contributions amounted to £404,500 and 97,725 claims were met, involving fund benefit of £338,100 and Commonwealth benefit of £285,400. As at 30th June the fund had £109,293 in reserve, which represents about 27s. 6d. per contributor. The cost of administering the fund was £70,206, which is only 18s. 2d. per head a year. I do not think that those figures indicate that there is a large surplus in either fund, when the number of contributors is considered. I do not think any one would regard the charges as unreasonable, when they are less than £1 per head a year. Neither do I think that any large profits are indicated.
The honorable member for Lilley instanced the case of a man whose medical and hospital expenses amounted to £202 9s. and his refund to £115 17s. 6d. He cited this as a typical example of cost and refund. I know of cases where the refund was in excess of 95 per cent, of the total expenses incurred. In fact, in one instance of which I am aware a contributor to the Manchester Unity hospital fund in Victoria incurred expenses of £110 and received from the fund £176. This happened because he was contributing for the maximum amount of hospital benefit and the charges of the hospital which treated him were considerably lower than the benefit for which he was contributing. I realize that this is an abnormal case, but I mention it merely to show that it is incorrect to draw any general conclusion from the figures relating to only a few cases.
The honorable member for Lilley drew a rather remarkable conclusion from the figures he quoted. In the case he cited the contributor was paying 9s. a week and the refund that he received in respect of his operation was £115 17s. 6d. Therefore, said the honorable member for Lilley, it cost this man 9s. a week to insure for £2 a week. He assumed that the contributor had exhausted his entitlement for the year with this one operation, but this of course is ridiculous. If the contributor or any member of his family is unfortunate enough to incur any medical expenses, he will be entitled to further refunds. The amount of the refunds would depend on the particular kind of medical treatment provided1, but they could amount to hundreds of pounds.
I want to quote an example to show the falsity of the conclusions that the honorable member for Lilley drew. A contribution of 8s. a week to a hospital fund covers the contributor, his wife and every member of his family for £28 a week for up to twelve weeks’ hospitalization in any year. If the contributor is unfortunate enough to require more than twelve weeks’ hosiptalization he goes on to the special account and receives £1 a day. In Queensland, which is the State to which the honorable member for Lilley referred, no charge is made for treatment in the public wards of hospitals and it is possible for a’ contributor to receive benefit of £16 16s. a week even though he paid no hospital fees. The reason for the lower amount in this instance is that no Commonwealth benefit is paid when no charge is made by a hospital.
If, for example, four members in the family of a contributor who pays 8s. a week were involved in an accident or for any other reason were unfortunate enough to have to spend twelve weeks in hospital the amount of refund would be £1,344. This represents an insurance payment of nearly £26 a week for a contribution of 8s. a week. Yet the honorable member for Lilley endeavoured to prove that it costs 9s. a week to insure for a benefit of £2 a week.
– You are not right.
– I am quite right. I have checked this with the department. In addition, a contributor, if he wishes, may contribute to more than one fund and can collect benefits from each of them for up to twelve weeks in any year.
These funds are doing a magnificent job in a field in which they have been catering for contributors for a great many years, even before governments of any political persuasion were interested in social welfare. 1 hope that the honorable member for Lilley will realize the injustice of his remarks last night and that all honorable members will give full credit to the friendly societies and the medical funds for the service that they are providing.
.- While the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) is in the chamber, I should like to raise one aspect of the affair in Djakarta. The position of the British people in Djakarta is that some have been assaulted and that the embassy has been attacked, but they have been subjected to another disability in that the British Overseas Airways Corporation, which might be expected to be the means by which British people would leave the country, has been prevented from entering Indonesia by the refusal of Indonesian airport workers to service its aircraft. If this boycott is extended to Australia because of Australian support for the idea of the Federation of Malaysia - I know thai the Deputy Prime Minister cannot anticipate, a crisis,, which has not. occurred- it is possible that Qantas would be subjected to the same disability as was B.O.A.C. Has the Government considered the possibility of diverting shipping, if necessary, to evacuate Australian citizens?
– I should like to put something on the record. Occasionally it happens that in retrospect you can see events more clearly. A good example of this was the famous speech of Mr. Khrushchev in Moscow in February of 1956 in which he revealed that his comrade Stalin was in fact a murderer, a criminal and a man who had obtained and retained power by the slaughter of his fellows. One would have thought that this would have put Stalin in a different position in history. The same kind of thing occurred in a statement from official Soviet sources which has just come into the hands of honorable members. It is contained in a Soviet press release from New Zealand, dated 3rd September, 1963, which purports to be the text of an official Soviet statement. The statement refers to the tactics adopted by Russia in the early days of the discovery of atomic power. It states -
In the first years after nuclear weapons had appeared in the arsenal of the United States, when the United States had a nuclear monopoly and when, in view of that, the security of the socialist countries v.’as endangered, the Soviet government proceeded on the assumption that the main task was to deprive the United States of that advantage. This aim could be achieved either by completely banning nuclear weapons, which would have been tantamount to taking these weapons away from the only nuclear power at that time - the United Slates - or through developing our own nuclear weapons, which would help to ensure the security of all the socialist countries.
It was then that the Soviet Government demanded the banning and destruction of nuclear weapons and, when this demand was rejected by the western powers, it started to develop ils own nuclear weapons, which were called upon to become a good additional guarantor of the independence and security of all the countries of the socialist community and to make the imperialists lose the taste for aggression against the socialist states. Naturally, in those years, the banning of tests of nuclear weapons without the simultaneous destruction of those weapons possessed by the United States would not have been in the interests of the socialist states; it would have brought to a halt the development of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union and would have perpetuated the American nuclear monopoly.
Let me say a little about the background of this statement. It obviously contains a fabrication because at that time the United
States offered to turn over its entire stocks of nuclear weapons if only there was a world security system free of veto. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics refused to accept that offer because if it had it would not then have controlled the controlling organ. The statement goes on to describe the recent happenings and the acceptance of the test ban, and reads -
In the changed conditions this position was just as correct, and accorded to the same extent with the interests of the Socialist states . . .
The statement reads further -
As for underground nuclear tests, this question arose not in 1956 - at that time no such tests were being held - but later, when the United States began holding underground nuclear tests. Naturally, from that time on, the Soviet government began to press for the prohibition of underground nuclear tests as well. However, so far it has been impossible to reach agreement on this question, because the western powers have tied up prohibition of underground nuclear tests with the setting up of so-called international control, that is to say, in actual fact, international espionage, which could involve the security interests of Socialist states, and the Soviet government, naturally, has not been able to agree to this.
In other words, the Soviet is saying that it will not agree to effective world control of atomic weapons because to do so would imperil its interests.
This is the very dreadful fact with which the world is faced, but there is a still more dreadful fact. It is the fact of Communist China and the Communist Chinese drive for nuclear weapons. The later part of the Russian statement, from which I am quoting, is obviously meant as an attack on Communist China. At this stage I do not want to pre-judge or even to analyse in detail the relatons between Russia and Communist China. The statement obviously is directed at the possibility of Communist China obtaining nuclear weapons. Despite the fact that some people discount the likelihood of Communist China obtaining such weapons in the near future, the possibility remains.
The Russian statement continues, and honorable members had better remember this -
Every Communist-Leninist will feel disgust at an attitude to thermo-nuclear war such as this: “ Never mind if a half of mankind perishes, if 300 million Chinese die, for on the other hand imperialism will be wiped from the face of the Earth and those who survive will rapidly create on the ruins of imperialism a new civilization that will be a thousand times higher.
And it is precisely such an attitude to thermonuclear war that has been present on more than one occasion in the pronouncements of highlyplaced Chinese representatives. Even if the Chinese government makes not two but one hundred and two statements that it is dying to achieve the prohibition and destruction of nuclear weapons and that its only concern is the interests of the peoples, it will not be able to wash off the shame of gambling on the death of hundreds of millions of people, including Chinese people, in a thermo-nuclear war.
By its latest statement against the nuclear testban treaty, however, the Chinese leadership only confirms that to-day, too, it is being guided in its foreign policy by this . . . inhuman conception.
The statement further reads -
Another question also arises. If, in accordance with the forecasts of the Chinese leaders, about half of the population of such a big country as China were to perish in a thermo-nuclear war, then how many people would perish in countries where the size of the population is measured not in hundreds of millions, but in tens of millions or simply millions of people?
But it is obvious that the half of mankind which the Chinese leaders are ready to erase from among the living would include many countries and people in their entirety. Who has given the Chinese leaders the right to settle the fate of these peoples, to speak on their behalf?
Those are not my words; they are the words of the Russian Government - the government which knows the Chinese Communists and their policy. The Russian Government says that if Communist China gets nuclear arms it will attempt this venture involving the death of one half of mankind. I repeat: This must not be allowed to happen. It is the prime responsibility of humanity to see that nuclear weapons do not come into the hands of these murderers - these people who in the words of their Russian ally, propose to gamble with the life of humanity and to erase - that is the Russian word, not mine - from the face of the earth one half of mankind if they get those weapons.
Mr. SPEAKER (Sir John McLeay).I call the Minister for Trade.
– Did you not advocate the dropping of the atom bomb on Russia?
– May I answer that question, Mr. Speaker?
– The honorable member is out of order. He has concluded his speech.
– I ask for leave to answer the question.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to refer to certain matters that have been raised by honorable members in the House to-night and to state as much as is known of circumstances and events that have occurred in Djakarta, particularly as they affect Australian personnel there. I think almost everybody in the community is aware of the attack by a mob on the British Embassy in Djakarta and the burning and destruction that went on there. The Government is not officially aware of any employees or people associated with the British Embassy being injured or hurt. According to reports received by the Government, members of the crowd and some of the rioters hurt each other but so far as we know nobody in the British Embassy has, up to the present, been hurt.
In this situation the Australian ambassador in Djakarta has felt it his duty, as indeed it is, to consider the circumstances of Australians there - those employed by the Commonwealth and their dependants, and other Australians who may be described as in the business community in Djakarta. The ambassador has been in communication to-day with the head of the Department of External Affairs here in Canberra. Of course, our ambassador has, as I imagine every ambassador has, authority to exercise his own judgment in what he may estimate to be emergency circumstances in his posting. Our ambassador, has consulted the husbands of women who are in Djakarta and the fathers of children who are there in order to ascertain their views and their wishes. As an outcome of this the ambassador has advised the Government that he has thought it desirable, as a precautionary step, to conform to what he finds to be the desires of the wives and children of those employed in the Australian Embassy, and to get them out of the area for the time being. Our ambassador has facilitated this move and to-day 60-odd Australian wives and other dependants of people employed in the Australian service in Djakarta have been transported by Qantas, Pan-American Airways and a Japanese airline to Singapore, which is the most convenient spot. Air traffic was proceeding in that direction from Djakarta and seats were available on aircraft. I make it quite clear that this was not done on any order from Canberra. The question whether Canberra should intervene did not arise. The ambassador, being on the spot, bad some knowledge of the situation and was in a better position to exercise a judgment. After paying due regard to family circumstances and the desires of the people concerned, he authorized what was done and informed the permanent head of the Department of External Affairs here. I now understand that there are already some 60 people in Singapore. In addition to that, the Australian ambassador has informed what, for want of a better term, I would call the Australian business community there of what has been done by the Australian officials and has suggested that they should consider whether they would want to do the same thing. That is where the matter stands at this time.
We would, of course, strongly hope that this deplorable incident has now ended. We are quite confident that nothing is solved by mob violence. We have made that very clear. I announced to the House this morning that Sir Arthur Tange, the permanent head of the Department of External Affairs, was to see the Indonesian ambassador. He did not in fact see the Indonesian ambassador as he was not in Canberra. He saw the counsellor, who is next in seniority, and he made it quite clear to him that we deplore this kind of thing, that we especially deplore the assault upon the British Embassy, the violence, and all that is implicit in the incident. He went on to say quite strongly that the Australian Government expected that no Australian personnel or property would be implicated and that we confidently believed that the authorities in Indonesia would make it their business to sec to it that this did not happen.
In all fairness, I should add that there is no evidence that this is likely to happen in respect of Australians. I make that clear. What was said was said as general comment upon the situation by the authorized spokesman for the Government. As the Australian Parliament and Australian people would expect us to do, we conveyed to the Indonesian authorities the message that, this incident having happened, we strongly and confidently hoped and believed that it would have no application to Australia and that it was the responsibility of the Indonesian authorities to see that nothing like that did happen.
As to where we stand, I can only say that we deplore this incident very strongly. We have conveyed that view to the Government of Indonesia. We have made it very clear that we do not think anything is solved by this type of incident. We have made it perfectly clear that we support Malaysia. We are in no doubt that the entire Australian community supports Malaysia. There is no need for me to say in this Parliament that we will give as much support to Britain in this circumstance as we are confident that Britain would give to us if we ever found ourselves in any similar circumstance. I do not think that any words that I could utter could add to the strength of that statement. We would feel that if we were in need of support there would be no limit to the support that Britain would give to us, and that is the attitude that we take in supporting the British position in this regard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
e asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Yes. The Blacktown telephone exchange building has capacity for 12,000 subscribers’ lines, and this is expected to meet development until about 1972. lt is planned to meet development beyond that date by extending the building. The exchange equipment at present installed has capacity for 3,800 lines and this will be increased progressively to meet the demand for new services.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
The above figures represent the number of visitors accompanying conducted coach and car convoy tours. They do not include large numbers of visitors who were issued wilh permits to tour the works independently of the conducted tours.
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
– On 20th August, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) asked me a question without notice about the presentation to Her Majesty the Queen of a petition from the New England New State Movement. I said in reply that I would be glad to look into the facts of the matter. First, I am now able to inform the honorable member that the petition is receiving formal consideration and that a reply concerning it should not long be delayed. Meantime, of course, the honorable member has been one of a delegation from the New England New State Movement, led by Dr. P. A. Wright, which the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and I had the pleasure of receiving in Canberra on Thursday, 29th August, and we then heard a full and lucid exposition of the movement’s case.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 September 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630919_reps_24_hor39/>.