24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HANSEN presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth 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.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. Hayden.
Petitions severally received.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Has any provision been made for the wives and dependants of service pensioners to receive medical attention under the pensioner medical scheme, as do the wives and dependants of age and invalid pensioners?
– This matter concerns two departments. A wife who receives a service pension is not entitled to medical treatment under the pensioner medical service if she is under 60 years of age. When she reaches 60 years of age, in most cases she elects to receive a social service pension. Then, if receiving a full pension, she becomes entitled to treatment under the pensioner medical service. Wives of certain service pensioners under 60 years of age may receive a service pension but they are not entitled to medical treatment under the terms of the pensioner medical scheme.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade been directed to an announcement made last month by the French Government that to ease inflation and to prevent an undue increase in the price of meat in France the importation of beef would be permitted from countries outside the European Economic Community?
If so, has he any information as to whether the Australian beef export trade has benefited or is likely to benefit from this measure?
– I am aware of the facts of this situation. Last month the French Government called for offers for the importation of 4,000 tons of frozen beef. All foreign suppliers were eligible to submit offers. Australian exporters were interested initially but when the details became known it emerged that this was not a practicable proposition. It was required that the boning-out yield of the beef should be 74 per cent., which was rather higher than was manageable with our beef. Also, tenderers were to be required to lodge a deposit of 90 per cent, of the quote as a guarantee of fulfilment of the contract. The minimum offer was to be 1,000 tons in any one case, and the minimum shipment 500 tons. This could not be met because the Australian export processing trade at the moment is geared especially for servicing the American market with boned-out beef. While theoretically the opportunity was there for Australian export, when the details were studied it was found that it was not really available.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. The honorable gentleman will remember my seeking information regarding radio broadcasting stations in north Queensland. He stated that the power of 4QR was being increased and that modifications were being made in connexion with 4AT. If these changes have been made I would like to tell him that they have been a waste of money, because the position has not been improved in any way. I ask the Minister to examine the possibility of increasing the power of 4QY and 4AT. This may overcome the difficulties that he looked at previously.
– The problem of improving reception in the areas to which the honorable member refers, and which he represents, has had considerable attention from the department over a period. I have informed the honorable member and others of plans that have been evolved and measures taken to effect ah improvement. I cannot say exactly what stage has been reached at present, but I have noted the honorable member’s proposals and will have them looked into.
– I address a question to the Treasurer in his capacity as Leader of the House. The right honorable gentleman will realize that he has what I may describe without impertinence as a parliamentary responsibility to see that no member of this House is deliberately misled in his activities. With a consciousness of this responsibility I ask the right honorable gentleman to inquire whether or not the statement, “In accordance with the policy of the party, we urge the withdrawal of Australian troops from Malaya “, appeared in a publication which was, in fact, the-
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This has nothing to do with the Leader of the House. This is only camouflaging an effort to make a political point.
– Order! The honorable member may proceed with his question but should keep within the Standing Orders. Any comment will be out of order.
– Will the right honorable gentleman inquire whether or not the statement, “ In accordance with the policy of the party, we urge the withdrawal of Australian troops from Malaya”, appeared in a publication which was, in fact, notes for Australian Labour Party speakers in the last election campaign?
– I think this matter concerns me rather more directly as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party than as Leader of the House. But, Sir, I am sure that honorable members will be glad to have this reminder from the honorable gentleman that until the last election the official policy of the Australian Labour Party was stated in official form in the clear terms that we have just heard.
– I raise another point of order, Mr. Speaker. What have the views of the Australian Labour Party to do with the right honorable gentleman as Leader of the House?
– Order! I think the Treasurer is in order. I would remind him, however, that anything to do with the administration of the Liberal Party - or the Labour Party, for that matter - is nol a matter on which any person is answerable to this House.
– I have no wish to prolong the matter. I only hope that we shall have before us, with the same clarity as that with which the policy of the Labour Party as it then stood was expressed, the policy that the Labour Party now espouses on this matter. As far as we are conscious of it, there is a certain cloudiness over the policy at the present time.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Territories. In “ Hansard “ of Thursday last, the Minister gave an answer to a question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The question was in these terms -
In what respects do the laws and practices of the Northern Territory fall short of the standards set by the International Labour Organization Convention No. Ill, Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1958?
The Minister’s answer set out four instances, but made no mention of the aboriginal people of the Northern Territory. In “ Hansard “ of Tuesday of this week, the Minister for Air gave an answer to a question that I asked him. The question was in these terms -
Does the Department of Air employ aborigines at any place on terms different from those upon which other Australians are employed?
The Minister’s answer was -
Yes. The Department of Air does employ aborigines in the Northern Territory on terms different from those upon which other Australians are employed.
I ask the Minister for Territories: First, is it a fact that he is not aware that aborigines are employed in the Northern Territory on discriminatory wages? Secondly, how can he describe his policy as being a policy of “ one people “? Thirdly, does he regard the aboriginal people of the Northern Territory as people?
– I regard the last phrase used by the honorable gentleman as offensive. I do regard the aborigines of the Northern Territory as people, and I think I have worked consistently for their benefit.
In reply to the substantial part of his question, I say that the answer that I gave to a question on notice asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was given on the technical advice of officers who carefully examined the convention to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred and carefully examined the laws of the Northern Territory. I am confident that the advice that those officers gave was accurate. I suggest that the honorable member for Wills look again at the terms of the convention and the terms of my answer.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade been directed to an article stating that certain American congressmen and senators are leading a “ ban Australian meat “ campaign because of a reduction in price allegedly on account of Australian competition? Is it true that Australia is supplying a type of meat known as chopper beef ‘which is not produced in quantities in the United States of America? Can the Minister tell the House whether that campaign will damage trade with the United States in this important beef outlet?
– I have seen the article to which the honorable member has referred. This is a matter of tremendous importance to the Australian meat industry, and the Australian beef industry in particular, because the American consumers, in order to service their own requirements, have really geared the Australian beef export trade to the American market. If by any action our beef were excluded from north America, most of it would be forced back on to the domestic market, with quite disastrous results to values on the domestic market.
The bulk of our meat exports to the United States is in the form of frozen boneless beef for manufacturing purposes - the so-called chopper beef. However, I point out that in a statement issued as recently as 5th August last the United States Department of Agriculture said -
Imports in the past five years have mainly filled the gap resulting from decreased domestic cow slaughter.
In that statement the department went on to say -
The bulk of imported beef is for processing and does not have an important impact on the fed.cattle market.
There is nothing to suggest that the campaign against imports of Australian beef reflects the attitude of the United States Administration; rather does it reflect the attitude of the constituents of the American congressmen who have been articulate on this matter. The Australian Government has been given no indication whatever by the United States Government that it is currently contemplating action to restrict imports of beef and veal. Nevertheless, the Australian Government is very much aware of the sensitivity of the United States beef market to imports. The campaign referred to is a further reminder of this sensitivity, and of the need for countries exporting meat to the United States to follow marketing policies that will avoid disturbing the beef market there, either in quantity or in price. I say this quite seriously, as the Minister responsible, and it must be taken note of by the Australian beef exporters, both processors and producers, if this tremendously valuable market, which last year produced for us nearly £80,000,000, is not to be disturbed.
– I direct my question also to the Minister for Trade, and I refer the right honorable gentleman to a recent statement attributed to Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, the chairman of directors of Brenton Investments (Australia) Limited. Mr. Ricketson said -
The most apparent disadvantage of overseas capital is the possibility of strain on our balance of payments. However, a more direct and disturbing feature of some overseas operations in Australia is the importation of restrictions on freedom to export the goods produced.
I have previously directed questions on this matter to the Minister. Will he now state whether he is prepared to instruct his department to see what action can be taken to prevent the unlimited continuance of agreements by Australian companies to restrict or prohibit the export of Australian manufactured products?
– I think it is well known that I am conscious that this is an important issue. In direct answer to the question, let me say that the Department of Trade and I myself have constantly, over a period of years, sought to exercise influence on companies in Australia, either Australianowned companies or overseas-owned or partly overseas-owned companies, so that they would not be debarred from exporting and earning exchange for the country in which they arc established and from which they make their profits. Many companies have been established without restrictive franchises. Other companies that had restrictive franchises have had the restrictions modified. In many instances there has been a complete termination of restrictions on a franchise. We think this is better.
Another aspect to be considered is that If an article is not made in Australia but is required here, it must be imported. It would be better to produce that article in Australia and so avoid the need for imporation, even if there was an embargo on exports, than not to produce it here and be forced to draw on our exchange reserves in order to import it. I think this answer will disclose that the considered view is that this matter does not lend itself to easy, arbitrary decision. I am quite vigorous, and my department is quite vigorous, in doing the best for Australia in this regard.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by reminding him of the many representations which have been made from numerous sources concerning the action taken in 1948 to void the accumulated deferred pay of a number of warrant officers of the Permanent Air Force who were given wartime commissions, whilst allowing others to offset their deferred pay under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. As it has always been the view that deferred pay in the services is a component of salary and the legal property of the persons concerned, will the Treasurer arrange for a full and representative inquiry to be made into this anomaly, which has been a running sore in the administration of the act since its inception?
– I know of the active interest which the honorable member for Maribyrnong has been taking in this question. He asks for a full and comprehensive inquiry into the matter. To the extent that further information would be helpful, I shall see. whether it can be secured.
I shall have brought up to date information on the latest stage of study and report on this matter and see whether I can supply some further information to him before the House rises.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that the actual reduction in unemployment figures is not as great as he has recently stated simply because some persons are refused registration by his department. Is refusal to register based on such grounds as a person’s not being available for work, not trying to obtain employment or attending college while waiting for work? Will the Minister inform me how his department assesses the genuine desire of people to obtain w ork who have never been employed and who live some miles from the centre of industry and have no financial means of paying for transport? Does the Government intend to adhere to its present policy towards school leavers seeking employment, or will it try to meet the difficulties that confront the fifteen-year-old school leavers who have no money in their search for employment by issuing them with free travel tickets on transport services?
– That was an extraordinarily complex question. 1 must say there has been no change over the years in the policy of the department relating to people who register for employment, with one exception, that is with regard to the eligibility of university students for unemployment benefits during periods of long vacations. Otherwise the practice of this Government is identical with that applied by the Labour Party when it was in office.
As to school leavers, if a school leaver informs us that he has left school and is looking for a job, we place him on the register for employment immediately. There are no reservations or restrictions attached to such registration, and accordingly the statement made by the honorable gentleman is not in accordance with the facts.
I state again that the figures that we publish represent a true record of the facts. They represent an accurate statement of the number of people who come to us, say they have no employment and ask us to find employment for them. We cannot change the figures in any way. If it so happens that we refer a person to a job and he refuses to take it, and we feel that he has unjustifiably refused to take it, then, of course, he ceases to be eligible for the unemployment benefit.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether he will arrange to have an appointment made with the honorable member for Wills so that he can point out to the honorable member that it would be much better if he cleaned up Labour’s Augean stable - I refer to the apartheid policy pursued by the Australian Workers Union towards Australian aborigines - before he starts to criticise others.
– I am always glad of an opportunity to bring anything under the notice of the honorable member for Wills, and I still hope that sometimes he will take notice of it.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he state whether he was allocated a government flat when he was not on the housing list in Canberra? Will he also state whether he occupies a government flat and whether it is registered in his wife’s name? If so, will he state whether this is normally contrary to the rules governing the allocation of government flats? Did he move from the flat he previously occupied just prior to an increase in the rental for that flat-
– Order! I must point out to the honorable member that the Minister is not responsible to the House for his action if he moves from one flat to another.
– Was he able to make a move from an expensive flat to a lessexpensive flat immediately before the rental changes because of some special knowledge to which he may have had access as Minister in charge of housing in Canberra?
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Oxley has lent himself to a piece of idle gossip, which, I rather imagine, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory peddled some time ago. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory raised this matter in a public statement made outside the House, but he has never had the courage himself to raise it in the House. He probably knows the facts, and I am very glad of the opportunity to inform the House of the true situation.
For some years, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory and others in the Territory have complained that Ministers for the Interior know nothing about what goes on in Canberra, and have suggested that the Minister should live here, find out what goes on and get to know the people here. When I was appointed a Minister some five years ago, the only flat available to me was a flat in Northbourneavenue. I had inquired from the Housing Branch of the Department of the Interior and had understood that it was in order for Ministers to direct that priority in housing be given when priority was considered to be necessary for the efficient administration of the Territory. Indeed, the Public Service Board, in a number of instances, recommends that key administrative public servants be given priority.
– That is common sense, especially for a Western Australian Minister.
– Thank you. I directed that, when Ministers thought that they needed accommodation in Canberra, they be given priority in housing. As is well known, several Ministers have flats in Canberra.
Now, I come to the question of transfer. I had no knowledge at the material time that rents would be increased, because the Government had not decided at that time to increase them. The flat that I had been allocated was too big. I inquired from the then Commissioner for Housing whether there was any delay in transferring from three-bedroom accommodation to twobedroom accommodation. The commissioner said there was not, because that would relieve the housing situation. Any one in Canberra who wants to transfer from threebedroom accommodation to two-bedroom accommodation can transfer immediately, because all the pressure is for transfers from less adequate to more adequate accommodation as families grow. I think that that would-be self-evident.” Therefore, some months before rents were raised, and before the Government had even decided to raise them, I transferred. Those are the facts of the situation.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is he aware of the fine part played by the organization known as Community Aid Abroad in helping development at the grass-roots level in undeveloped Asian countries? Will the right honorable gentleman consider allowing donations to this organization to be deductible for income tax purposes?
– It is a fact that many organizations in Australia direct to commendable objectives funds subscribed by members of the public, and from time to time the Government is requested to make donations to these worthy organizations deductible for income tax purposes. There arc practical limits to the lengths to which we can go in meeting all these requests. The House will have noted that the amending income tax legislation that I brought before it earlier this week provides for deductibility to be conferred on donations to three institutions that I named. I can assure the honorable gentleman that I do not question the highly desirable work being done by the body that he has mentioned. I shall see that its claims to consideration in the way that he has proposed arc not overlooked when matters such as these are next before the Cabinet..
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether he will point out to the honorable member for Chisholm that the awards of arbitration courts, whether they be for the Australian Workers Union or any other union, cover aborigines, partaborigines and white Australians and do not discriminate against persons because of their blood. Will he also inform the honorable member that the Australian Workers Union polices its awards as much for the benefit of aborigines as for those who do not have aboriginal blood in their veins, and that all persons who work on the Darwin waterfront - most of them are not white Australians - are paid full award rates and enjoy full award conditions?
Will he advise the honorable member further that, if any aborigines are robbed of their social service payments, they are robbed not by the trade union movement but by somebody else?
– I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to excuse me from filling the role of the orifice in the wall through which Pyramus and Thisbe whisper speeches to each other.
– 1 address my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it the intention of the Minister to announce the amount of the first advance on wheat deliveries from the 1963-64 harvest before this House is dissolved? In this regard, will the Minister decide as an urgent necessity that this first advance be at least equal to the first advance last year?
– I appreciate the honorable member’s concern about a reasonable first advance and I share his sentiments on this matter. The arrangements !o provide a first advance are already in hand. This is the normal time of year for my department to take up the matter, i hope that I will be in a position to make an announcement before the House rises next week.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. What inquiries, if any, were made by his department before permission to enter the country was granted to an international criminal named Percy King or Champagne Charlie, who is reported to have visited Australia from the United Kingdom or Europe in recent years and who is said to have duped a former Commissioner of Police and the present Commissioner of Police in New South Wales?
– I thought that this man’s sobriquet was Champagne Percy. My department, as with all intending immigrants, made careful inquiries about this man. To the best of my knowledge, he entered Australia as far back as I9S0, so he has been here for quite a considerable time. There was some suggestion that he should be deported. I signed deportation orders against him. The honorable member must forgive me for not speaking entirely by the book; I am speaking to the best of my recollection. The deportation orders were rescinded in 1960 on account of his marriage in Sydney to a well-known Australian girl. I think I should also point out to the honorable gentleman that this man then was the production manager of a factory in New South Wales. He was very well supported in references by people who desired him to stay. In view of these references and in view of the fact that he was married to an Australian citizen of high repute, I thought then that it was better to give him the benefit of the doubt, particularly as so many people were speaking for him. That is how he happened to remain in this country.
– My question to the Postmaster-General refers to cleaning of the Sydney General Post Office clock, ls the Postmaster-General aware that his department suggests that the new tower portion of the Sydney General Post Office should be cleaned with hot water and wire scrapers - a method, I am informed, which has been already tested and found to be unsatisfactory? In view of this, will the Minister arrange for the whole of the Post Office building, including the portion already replaced, to be steam cleaned while the scaffolding is still in place and available? Is the Minister aware that wealthy banks and insurance companies spend thousands of pounds on cleaning their buildings? Is there any reason why the Sydney General Post Office and its clock should not be maintained at a standard in keeping with the prestige and traditions of one of the largest cities in the British Commonwealth? 1 sincerely hope that as a parting gesture on the postie’s last delivery his answer will bc, “Yes”.
– I suppose it would bc something in the nature of a fine parting gesture if I could go out of office having cleaned the Sydney General Post Office clock. The honorable member referred to the practice of wealthy banks and other organizations. Honorable members will know that I am particularly concerned to utilize all the funds available to my department for the development of services and the improvement of services. This is something which honorable members on both sides of the House are continually demanding. Whether or not honorable members agree with me, I consider that we have ahead of us lots of propositions of more importance to our services than washing the Sydney Post Office with soap or some other cleaning agent.
– Has the Minister for Territories seen a report issued by a university delegation, sponsored by the National Union of Australian Students, claiming that acts of discrimination against natives in Papua and New Guinea are rife? The acts referred to include the banning of natives from clubs, the provision of separate toilets for indigenes and the giving of cash discounts to Europeans but not to natives. Is use of the word “rife” in describing discrimination in the Territory appropriate or does the report exaggerate and distort the real position? Is every endeavour being made by the Administration of the Territory and by Europeans generally in Papua and New Guinea to reduce the incidence of discrimination?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member referred but, if it contains statements such as he alleges that discrimination is rife, I would say that the report definitely is exaggerated. Undoubtedly in any community, through the folly or stupidity of individuals, you do get isolated acts of discrimination but, by and large, in the Territory most members of the population do not commit acts of discrimination. Of course, so far as the Administration is concerned, official policy and amendment of the laws are proceeding so as to ensure that this is a community without racial discrimination.
– I wish to ask you a question, Mr. Speaker. It is based on the existence on the notice-paper of question No. 1 since 17th May, 1962. Will you examine the practices of the House of Commons in this matter, with a view to ascertaining whether any power is vested in the Speaker to insist on the early answering of questions, and will . you inform- the House of the result of your investigation before this Parliament is dissolved?
– I will have a look at the suggestion made by the honorable member and, if necessary I will report the findings to the House.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Further to his reply last Tuesday on employment in the building industry, can he state what the true position is, whether there is a strong demand for building labour, how long this demand will last and how Australia compares with other countries in this respect?
– On Tuesday last I was asked a question about employment in the building and construction trades. I can inform the House that the number of vacancies in the skilled building and construction trades is about 50 per cent, higher than the number of people who are actually looking for them. In other words, the number of vacancies is very much greater than the number of people to fit into them.
As to the future, the relevant figures for the building and construction trades give an indication. To-day the Commonwealth Statistician will publish figures showing that for the month of September the number of approvals was higher than ever before in our history and that for the September quarter the total figure of building and construction approvals was of the order of £200,000,000. As the approvals indicate what is likely to happen or what will probably happen, this means that there is a very bright future for the building and construction industry.
As to the last part of the honorable member’s question, I think every one knows that the record of Australia, at least during the 1950’s and since then up to 1963, is unequalled anywhere. We have a wonderful record of employment. Over the years no other country can equal it, and I think that those comparisons apply just as much to building as to any other industry.
– I wish to ask tha Minister for Social Services a question. Recently this Government arranged increases in pension rates for certain types of pensioners and the Victorian Government confiscated a considerable amount of the increases. Has any attempt been made to ascertain the net amount of such confiscations?
– I direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that there is no uniformity in the practices of the States in respect of this matter. The Department of Social Services is carrying out investigations in all six States to see what the position actually is and what has been done to reduce the effects of the increase in social service benefits granted by the present Government in the current Budget.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Territories been directed to a report that 400 women in Papua and New Guinea have paraded in protest against the liquor laws of the Territory and have asked for them to be amended? Does this mean that the liquor laws are causing distress? If so, will they be amended?
– I saw a newspaper re-r port of this incident. It is quite a credible incident. Even before the liquor laws of the Territory were changed, there was a strong division of opinion between those people in the Territory who wanted the prohibition on drinking removed and those who wanted it maintained. I imagine that that division of opinion is just as strong now as it was before the law was changed.
The information given to me officially is that although immediately after the removal of the prohibition on drinking there were some cases of excessive drinking, the situation is settling down. Those who have chosen to drink liquor are drinking in moderation, and certainly there are no more untoward incidents among the indigenes than there are among the non-indigenous section of the population. The second aspect of the matter which has been reported to me is that the temperance organizations in various ways are making a real impact with their educational campaign on the virtues of temperance. On the official information given to me, I would not hold out to the honorable member any prospect of a return to a prohibition on drinking.
- Mr. Speaker, I seek to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) in a reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden). May I say first that I had no knowledge that the question was to be asked. It is true that when the Minister came to live in Canberra I expressed publicly my pleasure that he was doing so, because I feel that-, if at all possible, Ministers should live here. When the Minister moved from a flat on which there was to be a substantial increase in rent to a much cheaper flat, I criticized that transfer publicly outside the House, where I was not covered by parliamentary privilege and where every recourse open to the public was available to the Minister. I based my criticism, 1 think, on very substantial grounds.
Subsequently in this House, by way of a question on the notice-paper, I asked the Minister - this he denies - for details of the allocation of flats to Ministers of the Crown and the conditions under which these allocations had been made. The Minister’s written reply evaded any answer to those questions.
Finally, to dispose of this misrepresentation may I say that the Minister knows of his own knowledge, or from his secretary, that I made no use at the time of information that I had, and which I could have used valuably, that he and one other Minister were substantially in arrears with their rents.
– by leave - Honorable members will recall that when I welcomed Her Majesty on the occasion of the jubilee of the founding and naming of Canberra, I announced that the Government would establish in perpetuity a scheme of postdoctoral fellowships in the physical and biological sciences to be known as the Queen Elizabeth II. Fellowships. I thought the character of the awards and the occasion of their institution were such that I should inform the House of the action the Government has taken to give effect to this earlier decision.
The Government has agreed to provide for the award of up to ten fellowships each year to be tenable for a period of two years in an Australian university or approved scientific institution and, in keeping with the nature of this foundation, to be open to Australian and United Kingdom citizens.
It is our intention that these research fellowships should be awards of the highest distinction. We believe they will attract young scientists of outstanding merit and will in particular make a notable contribution to the progress of science in this country and to the professional resources of Australian universities and scientific institutions. I will not refer here to the detailed terms and conditions under which the awards will be administered except to say that these have been adopted having regard to the status of the fellowships and after consultation with the Australian Academy of Science and the universities. In case any honorable member should wish to have information on the terms and conditions in greater detail, I have arranged that my department will lodge copies of a fuller statement with the Clerk of Papers.
There is, however, one provision about which I would like to inform the House now. A standing committee to be known as the Queen Elizabeth Fellowships Committee is to be established to consider applications for the fellowships and to administer awards. This is to be a committee comprising principally representatives of the Australian scientific body drawn from a panel nominated by the Australian Academy of Science.
I am pleased to announce that the following have accepted my invitation to serve as members of the Queen Elizabeth Fellowships Committee for a period of three years from 1st November, 1963: -
Professor T. M. Cherry, F.R.S., Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Melbourne and President of the Australian Academy of Science.
I have nominated Professor Cherry as chairman of the committee.
Sir Macfarlane Burnet, O.M. F.R.S., Nobel Laureate and Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.
Professor W. N. Christiansen, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Sydney.
Dr. M. F. Day, Assistant Chief, Division of Entomology of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Professor L. G. H. Huxley, ViceChancellor of the Australian National University.
Sir Maurice Mawby, C.B.E., President of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and Chairman of Conzinc-Riotinto of Australia Limited.
Professor S. L. Prescott, O.B.E., ViceChancellor of the Western Australian University.
Professor R. N. Robertson, F.R.S., Professor of Botany at the University of Adelaide.
Dr. Ian Wark, C.B.E., Member of the Executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
I am sure that honorable members will agree that our thanks are due to these very distinguished gentlemen who are prepared to give their services to make this unique scheme of fellowships a success.
– I bring up from the Standing Orders Committee a report on the suggested alterations of the Standing Orders referred to the committee by order of the House of Representatives on 1st May, 1963.
Mr. HAROLD HOLT (Higgins- Treas
That the report be printed.
This is a purely formal motion so that the report may be printed and included in the papers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That the consideration of the report be made an Order of the Day for the next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Monday, 28th October, at 2.30 p.m.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to make an explanation of a personal nature under Standing Order No. 64.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I refer to a speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) on the Appropriation Bill last Tuesday afternoon, in which he said -
I might be forgiven for recalling that I mads a reference to this matter in my speech on the Budget.
He was referring to the beef roads scheme. He continued -
Two days later the chairman of the committee . . said that my statements were untrue. It is very grave for an honorable member to make a personal explanation which is not true. The statement of the honorable member for Robertson may have been true in a quibbling sense, but it certainly was not the whole truth. Any honorable member who reads the committee’s report will see that the honorable member for Robertson was not frank with the House when he made his personal explanation. The quibble that he made was that the committee was not already making an adverse report, as I had said. He said that the committee had not commenced its report. That may be true, but there had been discussions and votes in the committee before I spoke, and I gave the House correctly the tenor of those discussions and votes.
What I said on that occasion is this -
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is reported at page549 of “Hansard” for 27th August as having said -
The Public Works Committee was making an adverse report on expenditure on beef roads in the Northern Territory, but the Government lobbied, shall I say, the Government members of the committee and the subject has been recommitted.
Both those statements are untrue-
And they reflect on me as chairman of the committee. I went on -
The committee has not commenced its report on the reference given to it by this House on beef roads.
That, Sir, is a true statement.
Indeed, at the last meeting of the committee it was decided to call for more evidence before starting to draft the report.
That, Sir, is also a true statement and can be verified by reference to the report now that it has been tabled. I remind the House that I tabled the report only last Tuesday. If I had revealed to the House at that time what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition calls the discussions and votes of the committee I would have been committing a breach of Standing Order No. 340, which refers to these votes and proceedings and says -
I believe, therefore, that I have acted in accordance with my duty and that I have been grossly misrepresented. I direct the attention of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself to the statements he made to the House before the report was tabled in the House.
– by leaveOn 29th August, two days afterI had made my speech on the Budget, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) made a personal explanation in this House and quoted a passage of my speech in the following terms: -
The Public Works Committee was making an adverse report on expenditure on beef roads in the Northern Territory, but the Government lobbied, shall I say, the Government members of the committee and the subject has been recommitted.
The honorable member made this comment on that extract from my speech on the Budget -
Both those statements are untrue . . . The committee has not commenced its report on the reference given to it by this House on beef roads. Indeed, at the last meeting of the committee it was decided to call for more evidence before starting to draft the report. The Government has not lobbied Government members.
I made two statements. One was that the committee was making an adverse report, and the other that the Government had lobbied its members on the committee. The honorable member stated that the committee had not commenced its report. On Tuesday of this week we received the report. The report does not say on what dates the committee met, or when the various votes which are recorded were taken, or when the committee commenced its report. It does, however, include a list of witnesses and the days on which those witnesses gave evidence. The honorable member stated that at the last meeting of the committee it was decided to call for more evidence before starting to draft the report. I accept his statement that the drafting of the report had not yet commenced. I referred the other day, during the debate on the estimates for the Department of National Development, to the evidence that was later called. A considerable number of witnesses gave evidence in May or June. One was Dr. R. A. Patterson, Assistant Director, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Canberra. He gave evidence in Canberra on 21st May, 25th June and 19th September. He is the only witness who gave evidence after my statement and the statement of the honorable member for Robertson. Therefore I would accept the statement that the report was not being prepared and that at that stage, when I spoke earlier, fresh evidence was to be called.
His other statement, that Government members had not been lobbied on this question, is a matter of inference. The honorable member says it is a breach of Standing Orders for him to refute it. I have no evidence of the fact, other than the matters which appear in the report, and honorable members would be well advised to look at the report and observe the votes that were recorded. The dates are not mentioned, but it is clear that at the time I spoke on the Budget one Government member bad twice voted with the Opposition members against the Government’s proposal and had then voted with the other Government members to rescind the earlier resolution. It is clear that there had been a difference of opinion between committee members before the committee decided to call fresh evidence and before I mentioned the matter in my speech on the Budget.
– Is voting supposed to be on party lines?
-Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is making a personal explanation, and honorable members may not engage in a debate on the matter.
– What I said was that the honorable member for Robertson had not given the full facts. Quite clearly there were differences of opinion. The report was deferred until fresh evidence could be obtained. There were divisions between members of the committee and I drew the inference, which the honorable member says it would be against Standing Orders for him to refute, that Government members had been lobbied to change their votes. Later on, when the report was to be made, once again the Government member concerned voted with the Labour members and the report came down last Tuesday in its present form.
If personal explanations are made they should be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The honorable member for Robertson made an explanation which was true as to one part. It obviously was not the whole truth concerning differences of opinion between members concerning the Government’s proposal. As to the other matter, he says he is precluded from telling the facts one way or the other.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. An attack was made upon me as a member of the Parliament by the Sydney “ Sunday Telegraph “. I wish to make a personal explanation in relation to that attack and also in relation to a later misrepresentation concerning the same matter by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The newspaper stated: -
Mr. Bate is a different problem ; a parochial thinker who will stand over his party in order to achieve a result satisfactory to his own electorate.
It is obviously untrue to describe me as parochial, as is shown by statements in the “Sunday Telegraph” itself on 26th lune, 1960, 3rd July, 1960 and 25th June, 1961, when that newspaper gave full reports of the work of national missions to the north of Australia led by me; Subsequently the Leader pf the Opposition misquoted the words used, and misinterpreted them to mean something that is offensive to me. He made, of course, an incorrect quotation. Later still, the Leader of the Opposition, in what purported to be an apology, repeated the same offensive words as though they had been used, although in fact they had not been used by the “ Sunday Telegraph “. He repeated the incorrect quotation. He did not withdraw it. He merely apologized for some abstract meaning of a word which he alleged had been used, but which was not used.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the Senate had agreed to amendment made by the House of Representatives in this bill.
Debate resumed from 17th October (vide page 1936), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I move -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “this House, whilst supporting the proposed introduction of decimal currency, considers that a decision as to the monetary unit and money denominations should not be made until the people of Australia have had an opportunity, during the forthcoming general election campaign, to make known their opinions and that, accordingly, further consideration of the proposals should be deferred until the meeting of the new Parliament “.
– I second the amendment, and reserve my right to speak to it.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I move this amendment mainly for this reason: This important bill, relating to currency, coinage and legal tender, has been presented to the House for its consideration in the dying hours of this Parliament. I suggest that the consideration will be very cursory and far less than such an important change justifies. In order to indicate the significance of the change, I direct .the attention of the House to the framework of this bill. Clause 3 states -
This Act is divided into parts, as follows: -
Part I. - Preliminary.
Part II. - Currency.
Part III.- Coinage.
Part IV. - Legal Tender.
Part V. - Arrangements for the Introduction of the Decimal Currency System.
Part VI. - Miscellaneous.
I suggest that the setting up of machinery to investigate certain aspects of this matter, such as the conversion of office equipment, could go on independent of the decision on what the basic unit should be. In regard to changing the currency - this is dealt with In Part II. of the bill- what the bill does in essence is to repeal certain acts. Clause 7 states -
The following acts are repealed: -
Coinage Act 1909;
Coinage Act 1936;
Coinage Act 1947.
The bill proceeds, in clause 8, to set out, in effect, the genesis of this matter. It sets out what the new monetary unit shall be. It states that in terms of to-day’s basic unit, the £1, two new dollars shall be equivalent to one old £1.
I think it is of some historical significance to recall that the first Australian Coinage Act was passed in 1909. Apparently, prior to that year, because we had no mint, Australia had coins that were sterling In origin and made in the United Kingdom. It was not until 1909 that Australia began to mint its own coins - silver, copper and bronze coins. That act of 1909 was amended in 1936 and 1947. The only difference I can find between the 1909 act and the 1947 act is that the latter act introduced a crown in addition to the florin, the shilling, the sixpence and the threepence. So, basically the Coinage Act 1909 has remained unchanged for 54 years and now, in a matter of an hour or two, this Parliament will annul it altogether. Whilst allowing for the requirement of an election, I would have thought that this was one matter that need not have been proceeded with at this stage.
A fortnight ago the Labour Party took the opportunity to bring before the notice of the Parliament as a matter of public importance the fact that we believed certain inequities would follow from the adoption. of 10s. as the basic unit on the basis that the smallest part of the new unit - the onehundredth part, the cent - would be equivalent to 1.2d. We said that because there was no half-cent there would be some difficulty in finding prices under the new currency that were exactly equivalent to prices under the old currency. We said that we would have preferred the unit to be 8s. 4d. Under that system the old penny and the new cent would be identical in value and equal in purchasing power. We said that if it was too late to change the unit a half-cent should be introduced, because that would mitigate some of the inequities that would arise as a result of the new cent being equivalent to 1.2d.
We cited examples of inequities that could occur. It seems to us that those inequities are socially more significant than this Government allows for. This is one very good example of where the pennies will not take care of themselves if the proposed 10s. unit is adopted. We pointed out that currently newspapers are priced at 3d., 4d. and 5d. What is their price to be under the new system? Is it to be 3 cents, 4 cents or 5 cents? Or is it to be something less than 3 cents, which has no exact equivalent at present? We gave similar examples in respect of postage and fares that people pay on public transport. We indicated the variety of articles included in the household budget, the prices of which were expressed partly in pence. According to whether the price of the article was1s. or less or 2s. or less, there was some variation in the price.
Let me take the example of a newspaper which currently is priced at 5d. If, when the change-over takes place, that newspaper is sold for 5 cents, that price will be equivalent to 6d. at the present time. That means that the newspaper proprietors will have a 20 per cent. increase in the sale price of their newspapers. The suggestion was made that newspapers will cost not 5 new cents but 4 new cents, which will be equivalent to 4.8d. This would result in some loss to the newspaper companies. Some people have more faith in them than I have. I suggest that they are not likely to sell their newspapers for less than the equivalent of what they are charging now. We listed articles that affect the ordinary household budget. Reading the speech of the
Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), I do not think that he has given sufficient weight to what we feel will be the very real inequities associated with the change-over. The Treasurer brushed off our argument. He said -
Now I come to the 8s. 4d.-cent system. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Opposition came down recently in favour of this system - more than three years after the Australian Decimal Currency Committee unanimously made its recommendation to me and six months after I had announced the Government’s decision to introduce the 10s. system.
It may be that the Labour Party should have raised its objections sooner than it did, but it has not had nearly so many opportunities to raise them as the Treasurer has suggested. I believe that the Government has been more than precipitate, in view of the time that it has sat on this matter, introducing this bill a week before the House of Representatives is to be dissolved.
The Treasurer reflected upon the motives of the Opposition in promoting these objections. He is apparently implying that we are seeking a political advantage. I cannot see anything wrong with seeking a political advantage if you think you have a very good case. We feel that we have a good case, and so far there has been no serious rebuttal of the points we have raised. The Treasurer said also -
Firstly, the 8s. 4d.-cent system would provide a very awkward conversion between the £1 and the dollar. . . .
I suggest that this is not of great significance for the majority of the people. They will not be worried about converting old units to new units. They will worry about something that everybody worries about in any currency - the purchasing power of the total amount they have. For the people who from time to time will have to consider conversion, there will be many ways of overcoming the difficulty. It is not insurmountable. I think that the Government is under-estimating the real inequities that will arise out of the new cent being worth 1.2d. in the old currency. I suggest that the Treasurer’s argument has very little validity for the majority of the people. If ever there was a case where consideration ought to be given to the majority of the people, this is it. The Treasurer saw a second difficulty. He said -
Although any amount in pounds, shillings and pence could be converted exactly into the new currency by the simple expedient of converting ft into pence and providing a decimal point, the actual conversion is far from easy for all but very small amounts.
It is the very small amounts that we are talking about. The Treasurer is accustomed to talking in terms of hundreds of millions of pounds and thousands of millions of pounds, but most people have a total weekly income of £25 or less and are compelled to think mainly in terms of very small amounts. I think that the Treasurer has again greatly underestimated the significance of our objections.
In order to fortify my argument about the small amounts that are handled by the average person in the community, I will quote some information given to me by Mr. Harold Curnow of Bendigo, who has made a serious study of the matter. He has informed me that in a recent random survey of the purchases made by 100 customers at three self-service stores, the total value of the goods purchased was £91 10s. lid. The highest total purchase by any of the 100 customers was £3 12s. 9d. The lowest total purchase was 3s. lOd. The number of articles bought by these 100 people was 852. Of these, 498 had prices which included a half-penny. This is of some significance to those people who regard the half-penny coin as a nuisance. There may be hundreds of articles bearing prices which include halfpence, but when the prices of the articles that a person has bought are added together the total includes one half-penny or none. In fact, only 44 of these 100 customers had to pay a half-penny in paying for their total purchases. In paying for the total purchases of the other 56 customers, no half-pence were required.
Mr. Curnow’s information gives some force to the argument that the half-penny and the penny are significant factors in exactly fixing prices. The Treasurer, however, brushes off our argument by saying that the actual conversion would be far from easy for all but very small amounts. My point is that the majority of people in the community have a total weekly income of about £25. They have to budget very carefully and most of their expenditures are of very small amounts. The point is not nearly so insignificant as the Treasurer makes put.
He went on to refer to what he regarded as a third and very important disadvantage of the 8s. 4d. system. He said that the penny was the only existing coin which could be retained under that system. I do not think that point is of great significance. We admit that it might be necessary to mint entirely certain coins, but the total cost would be in no way consonant with the great inequity you might create by not so doing. When it comes to a question of compensating the people who have business machinery we are prepared to talk in terms of £30,000,000, but nobody has given any estimate of what the difference would be in the cost of coinages under the two systems proposed.
Our arguments are significant enough, I suggest, to make the Government pause before it changes permanently from the present penny to a new cent with 20 per cent, more purchasing power than the penny. Even if this Government feels that, so far as it is concerned, the die has been cast, it could mitigate to some extent some of the difficulties to which I have referred by introducing the half-penny, but I do not think there should be any finality on that matter either at this stage because these changes are important to the great masses of the community. Although a subcommittee is being set up to deal with the question of compensation for converting machinery, and while that committee is prepared to talk in terms of expenditure amounting to £30,000,000, it seems to us that at this stage there is nobody to look after the interests of the small people in the community. As I said earlier, this is not a case in which the pennies will look after themselves; it is a case in which, if the pennies are not looked after during this period of conversion there will be a great deal of filching from the pockets of the people of the purchasing power of which they still have greater need than those who are likely to receive the benefit.
It is all very well to say that the thing will adjust itself. There are some points at which it will not adjust itself very simply. It would seem that so far none of the organizations which are likely to be involved in the changeover has given any indication as to what it individually proposes to do in connexion with this process. They have maintained an impressive silence, despite the amount of objection which was raised to the proposed name of the new basic unit. Personally, I do not care a great deal what it is called. I still think that what is significant is how many of those units the people will have and what the units will buy. That is why we feel that the question of the penny is much more important than honorable members on the Government side of the House seem to be disposed to think it is. For that reason, we have moved the amendment.
We do not propose to divide the House on the amendment. We have put it forward mainly to indicate that in our view there still has not been enough discussion on the basic unit. We feel that the matter is not so urgent that a bill must be put through by 30th November. Let the Government go ahead, if it wishes, with the setting up of a committee to inquire into the question of the conversion of machinery for, as far as I can see, whether the unit is 8s. 4d. or 10s. will not make a great deal of difference to the process of conversion. It might make some difference to the mechanism, but people are concerned most about the terms of compensation, and it is admitted that the first change will not be made before 1965 or 1966, anyhow. For that reason, I cannot see any need for this great haste to remove, in an hour or two, the coinage legislation which has remained virtually the same in Australia ever since we have been minting our own coins. This question warrants a little more consideration than this Parliament is able to give to it now.
It may be suggested by some that the Government believes that it will gain some political advantage out of bringing down this bill at this stage. I do not deny that the Treasurer might have had the legislation drafted and introduced into the Parliament at this time even if the Parliament were not being dissolved, but, in view of the fact that an election is to be held shortly, and that the Labour Party holds a different view from that of the Government about what the basic unit ought to be, the Government is not acting very democratically in introducing the legislation at this stage. That is why we have put forward the amendment which I have proposed.
The amendment is not proposed because we object to the principle of decimal coinage as such, although, speaking for myself and not on behalf of the party now, I think that the advantages which it is alleged will follow from the introduction of decimal coinage are greatly over-rated, especially when we realize that in this mechanical age when so many calculations are done by machinery, machines can “ think “ just as well in a duo-decimal system as they can in a decimal system. The other day I noticed that one of our promient banking men said that he doubted whether the cost of conversion was in any way’ consonant with the advantages that were supposed to flow from the changeover. As one who has struggled through a study of arithmetic in his time, I doubt whether half the time now taken to teach children arithmetic will be saved. I think that the argument that time will be saved in this way is preposterous when we remember that our measures will still be calculated under the duo-decimal system and our weights will be calculated in units of four and not units of ten. In my view, this is one example which demonstrates that while there are many enthusiasts for the change in this system, there seems to be no one dedicated to retaining what we have had in the past. I suggest that this is a case in which it has been easy to sell something in theory while some of the practical difficulties have been virtually ignored, and one of the practical difficulties which has been ignored is the one that has the greatest impact on the ordinary people in the Australian community.
.- This is an extraordinary amendment to have proposed at this stage, and I shall oppose it. The proposal for the adoption of decimal currency which, even in principle, has been questioned on a personal basis by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), has been rolling steadily forward both in this House and in the country at large for some years. It gained an enthusiastic adherent in the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Members on both sides of the House have given it their support, and overwhelming support for it has been forthcoming from the community outside. All the issues which could have arisen have been known for a long period of time.
The Decimal Currency Committee reported on the matter in 1960 - three years ago. In chapter II. of its report, the committee dealt with all the various systems that could be introduced. It weighed up the pros and cons. It heard a great deal of evidence, not from odd people, not ex-parte, or anything like that, but from all interests affected. It went into the whole field and reported on the various advantages and disadvantages of each system. It so happens that, the proposal having rolled along as it has, for some years, this process of. giving legislative sanction to the change to decimal currency is taking place just at a time when a general election is looming. But if we go over the history of the change, we find first of all that inquiries were made about the mint in the early ‘fifties. The mint has now been planned. The issue has been widely canvassed in public for some time now and almost everybody in Australia who is interested in it has already stated his views. Why, of all times, should the time of a general election campaign happen to be selected as the time in which people should make known their views? Why should this time when all the issues known to politics are under active discussion, be selected as the time when the people should make up their mind on this particular question?
Suddenly, the Labour Party, or, I suppose, a small bunch of its members, has an itch for the unit of 8s. Ad. The members of that bunch have fallen in love with the penny and considerations surrounding the penny have entirely obscured in their minds the rest of the issues. The 8s. 4d. system would have simplicity for small values. It would not require any change in pricing, particularly for small amounts - provided, of course, that the half-penny continued to circulate. This, however, would be its only really substantial advantage. This advantage has been built up by the Opposition, or at least by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and the difficulty of adjusting small amounts and pricing small articles under the 10s. system has been blown up so big that it obscures all the other issues involved.
With respect to the use of machines, the 8s. 4d. system would have only very moderate advantages. I think that most members of this community, even age pensioners, are very well accustomed to dealing
In amounts over 12s. Any amount over that would involve a very complicated conversion process under the 8s. 4d. system. All the amounts that we normally deal with in our daily lives would have to be multiplied by 2.4 to get the new equivalent. This would involve laborious calculations by either machines or individuals. There would be no ready association with any higher values. One of the basic troubles is that members of the community at large think of small amounts in terms of shillings and pence, not of pence. There would be also the problem of giving change, for instance. In the normal course of business, change is worked out in pence to the next shilling and then the balance is worked in shillings.
There would be other disadvantages. People think in terms of shillings and pence for small amounts and for larger sums are trained to think in denominations of £1, 10s. and ls. If all those larger denominations had to be converted to pennies, almost a mental revolution would be required, and the process would be very difficult for most members of the community. Another feature is that if an 8s. 4d. system were introduced, all coins except the penny and half-penny would have to be replaced as from the date of conversion. This task would be quite beyond the new mint in the time available. In fact, it would almost certainly postpone the whole transition to decimal currency for a very considerable time. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports would be quite happy about that. He is dubious about the advantages of change. A number of people have those thoughts, and such thoughts are quite understandable. But if we are to adopt a decimal system - and that is what we intend to do - surely common sense requires that we investigate all the possibilities and choose the most suitable system.
I should not like at this stage, Sir, to dilate on the advantages of the 10s. system over all other systems. There is some suggestion that the £1 be retained. A system retaining the £1 would have a number of disadvantages. In fact, every system would have disadvantages. Even the 10s. system will have some disadvantages. They have been harped on and blown up by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Just because the 10s. system may lead to diffi culties and complications in converting very small charges for articles such as boxes of matches and newspapers and services such as telephone calls, of which we avail ourselves every day, those complications do not mean that there will not be tremendous compensating advantages in the 10s. system. But we cannot eat our cake and have it too.
If we are to convert to a system of decimal currency with the well-known advantages which have been widely canvassed and which are generally supported, we have to accept the disadvantages of any system that is introduced. Many of us would be very much attracted to the idea of keeping continuity in accounting by basing the new system on the £1. That, again, would have many advantages in terms of perpetuity of records. But, when you began converting amounts of less than £1, trouble would arise. We would need elaborate conversion tables, which would be extremely irksome, and we would become involved with either the half-cent, which would not be very practicable, or else with the mill system, in which we would have three places of decimals.
The mill system would deprive us of the virtues, which have been widely canvassed and advertised, of a system with two decimal places. We would need new values for coins, and the values would not be easily associated with one another. A lot of existing coins would have to be withdrawn. For example, the 3d. piece would be replaced by a coin of 12i mills, the penny would be replaced by a coin of 4 l/6th mills, and the halfpenny would be replaced by a coin of 2 1/ 12th mills. At present, in ordinary banking practice, the halfpenny is practically ignored. If we had a mill system, we would have a unit even smaller than the halfpenny, although the halfpenny is no longer a useful coin. From the stand-point of machines, such a system would have no advantage at all. In fact, the decimal machines now available to the world would largely be unsuitable and would lose one column in capacity. I mention the mill system only because I happen to know that one or two members of the Australian Labour Party favour it.
A serious aspect is the proposal to delay the introduction of the new system. One would hardly have thought that there would be electoral advantages for one side of politics or the other in this change-over, because on both sides of the Parliament there are enthusiasts for what is proposed and others who are not too pleased about it. The overwhelming bulk of informed Australian opinion, which has been canvassed widely over a long period, has come down solidly in favour of the 10s. system. The United Kingdom and New Zealand also will probably adopt this system. That is not an argument of overwhelming weight, but, naturally, the adoption by those countries of a system similar to the one that we adopt will have very practical advantages for us in international trade and relations with other countries. There has been plenty of opportunity to raise this issue of the 8s. 4d. system, and one cannot help coming to the conclusion that that would be a pennywise and pound-foolish system that would mean a much bigger breach in continuity of accounting in ordinary, every-day life than will result from the adoption of the 10s. system.
No doubt, the decision to adopt a new system could wait for several months. However, the process of determining which system shall be adopted has been under way for some time and the whole issue has been widely canvassed. I hope, therefore, that the proposed new system will be adopted. Over the next two or three months, there will bc nothing really irreversible about a decision now on the system to be adopted. Surely this is really a machinery measure that should be put through. I suggest that these thoughts on the part of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and bis colleagues are just last-minute thoughts. I hope that the Government will put through this measure as quickly as possible.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not propose to detain the House long in commenting on the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). Nor do I intend to discuss in any detail the relative merits of the 10s. system and the 8s. 4d. system. I tried to deal with that issue in sufficient detail in my second-reading speech, and my colleague, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), has given us the benefit of his usual valuable assistance by emphasizing some of the points that I tried to bring out in my speech. I merely remind the House that the question of the appropriate system has now been under competent and impartial examination in recent years in several countries whose currency systems are comparable with our own. This examination has been made in the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. I think it is quite significant that these four countries, when a choice had to be made between the 8s. 4d. system and the 10s. system, came down in favour of the 10s. system. In the United Kingdom, for reasons that I have previously mentioned, the majority of the committee recommended a £1 -cents system. I have no doubt in my own mind that the majority view would have favoured the 10s. unit had the position of sterling as one of the two great reserve currencies of the world not been a major consideration.
The 10s. unit was adopted in South Africa. It is quite interesting to note that the movement of prices in South Africa has been df a very minor order since the decimal system was adopted there and has been no greater than was the movement in prices in the three years preceeding the introduction of the system. We have no doubt that, overall, savings, economies and efficiencies will arise from the adoption of the 10s. system and that these will offset upward adjustments that may occur in particular instances. There will undoubtedly be some reductions. The highly competitive state of the Australian economy in the areas which most affect the consuming public will most probably provide its own element of safeguard.
My main purpose in rising is to assure the honorable member for Melbourne Pons (Mr. Crean), who, as so frequently in these financial and economic matters, is speaking not only in his personal representative capacity but as spokesman for the Opposition, that the inquiries I have made since I was notified of his amendment have satisfied me that the adoption of this machinery measure at this stage will not prejudice the position of the Opposition should circumstances place it in government after the election. The adoption of the legislation will enable us to go forward with such matters as the designs of the coinage and an examination of questions of compensation. We cannot have any delay with these matters if we are to adhere to the time-table we have set ourselves. However, if the Opposition, having been returned to office, decides to adopt the 8s. 4d. system, I am assured that the carriage of the legislation at this stage will in no way prejudice its capacity to substitute that system for the system that the Government proposes. In the circumstances, I would ask the Opposition not to press the amendment. In any event, the Government could not accept it and must resist it.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th October (vide page 1987), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the bills be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports the measure in which the Commonwealth is granting to various State universities through the States for the next triennium the sum of £60,000,000. The previous bill dealing with this matter, No. 106 of 1960, provided for Commonwealth grants in the vicinity of £50,000,000 for the triennium 1961 to 1963. The measure now before us, therefore, increases the Commonwealth grants in the coming triennium by about £10,000,000. The Commonwealth envisages that the States will grant £90,000,000 to the universities and the Commonwealth £60,000,000, and that the universities will raise £22,000,000 in fees. It is envisaged, therefore, that in the triennium 1964 to 1966 the universities will require £172,000,000 to finance their activities.
A number of members of the Opposition are concerned at the provision relating to university fees. If the universities charge fees, they attract an increased Commonwealth grant. Under this system, a feature of the University of Western Australia of which Western Australians have been very proud - namely, that it was a free university - has disappeared. A free university under the system that exists to-day would be penalized. This seems to be a pity, and I believe that it would not be difficult to devise a different system. The University of Western Australia now charges exactly the same fees as other universities charge. This is not compensated for entirely by scholarships and post-graduate scholarships. Whereas there were once 3,000 Commonwealth scholarships in a student body of 13,000, there now appear to be some 6,000, if one takes into account later award scholarships, in a student body of 68,000. The factor that the poverty of a student is emphasized because a university is not free is not entirely offset by the Commonwealth scholarship system, which is applying to a falling percentage of the student body.
A good feature of the measure is that second and later year scholarships have increased by some 500. However, it is doubtful whether this increase will be sufficient. We should realize the significance of a system of post-graduate scholarships - not provided for at present. The report of the Australian Universities Commission points out that post-graduate studies are the source from which we may expect to draw future university staff and that the next triennium will be a difficult period in the recruitment of additional university staff. After pointing out that the expected increase in the total enrolments of all Australian universities over the period 1963 to 1966 is approximately 25,000, the report says that the additional staff that will be requiredto cope with this increase will be about 2,100 on the basis of a student-staff ratio of one to ten or 1,750 on the basis of a studentstaff ratio of one to twelve. Additional staff of 1,750 or 2,100 represents a very great increase over the additional staff recruited in the last triennium. In its latest report the commission states -
The increase of university academic full-time staff in the 1961-63 triennium is of the order of 1,100 and this represents about 36 per cent. of the I960 staff numbers. In the circumstances, recruitment of this magnitude is gratifying, even though it falls short of the demand in some disciplines. Unfortunately the supply of university teachers in the coming years may be more limited than in the past. For example, the requirements of British universities in the immediate future are likely to absorb about 1,000 new members of staff per annum from their own potential sources of recruitment estimated as totalling 3,000. Australia will have to depend increasingly upon its own resources.
So, the more students we can encourage to continue with post-graduate studies, the more we enlarge the pool from which potential university staff for the future may be drawn. The report, quoting the demographer Borrie, points out that if we can solve this staffing problem in the coming triennium when there will be a population bulge, the additional staff recruited to cope with the population bulge will be a satisfactory staff when the bulge passes through. The report quotes Mr. Borrie as saying -
Yet is there not a little light discernible in the gathering gloom? In a sense the suddenness and size of the bulge universities are now experiencing (and from which they can scarcely escape in the future) is to be welcomed; it expands the immediate opportunities for increasing the numbers of graduates for augmenting not merely university staffs, but also the staff of other tertiary and secondary institutions. The outlook for the supply of such qualified staff from 1966 onwards is good - or at least better than at any time since the mid-thirties - assuming two things: (a) that the proportion of new enrolments eventually graduating does not fall; (b) that the size of honours classes increase proportionately with the increase in new enrolments. The former is necessary basically to meet the needs of secondary schools, especially at the higher years, and the latter is necessary basically to supply the future recruits to university staffs, and other tertiary institutions.
The form of scholarship announced by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) this morning - the Queen Elizabeth II scholarships for post-doctoral work - of course also could be a valuable way of making it possible for people to qualify to a very high level university staff, but it would be a good thing if the Government took another look at the idea of giving scholarships at the post graduate level from the point of view of assisting the supply of university and tertiary education staff in the future.
The staff problems, which will be acute, might also be met by the Government taking another look at our conceptions of the pay of university staff. In my fourteen years on the council of the Australian National University. I have often heard dis cussions about the market price of a professor. I have heard discussions about the market price of senior university staff and discussions about recruiting university staff in a competitive field. This problem has been particularly concerning the United Kingdom because the United States, with its superior economic resources, has been attracting the very top men of the United Kingdom in increasing numbers and the British are concerned at the loss of their brain power. This is a factor also in Australia, except that we lose many of our top men to the United Kingdom as well as to the United States. I have tried to think over this matter. The problem is argued often in relation to Arbitration Court awards in other occupations and so on, but in my heart I honestly feel that any professor - I am assuming now that a sound appointment of a professor has been made - is, as far as his services to this community are concerned, worth at least £6,000 a year. I think it would be a very good thing if we accepted that figure as a salary. The Prime Minister in his discussion referred to a basic professorial salary of £4,250, increasing, because the convention has now increased it somewhat, but I think a more generous salary should be paid.
In its report the Universities Commission points out that 5,592 students are in residence in university colleges. This is about the only field in which denominational aid seems to produce no controversy, very probably because the major denominations all stand to benefit about equally and if one of them opens a university college another can do so quite easily and equally get Commonwealth aid. The great protests against State aid seem to be forgotten when we discuss tertiary education.
– And missions.
– And missions, but at home in Australia the problem is rather differently regarded at the primary or secondary level. I think it is rather sad that only 5,592 students out of a student body of 68,000 are having the benefit of residence. I believe it would be a wise policy for the Commonwealth Government to encourage at an even faster rate than at present the development of the affiliated colleges in universities. After all, this is an immense country and large numbers of students, have the problem of boarding, quite apart from the consideration of the other advantages that are associated with residence in a college. I think it would be a wise thing if greater assistance were given for the establishment of residential colleges, which may be denominational or university, but which all, I think, fulfil one of the most valuable functions of the universities.
When I recall the endowments that have been given to universities in the past I wonder what will happen to the freedom that the universities had when their finances were drawn from private sources and private endowments. All the great bequests to the universities seem to date back to about the first twenty years of this century - before income tax made inroads into the private fortunes out of which the universities were endowed.
– Sydney University has not done too badly recently.
– I agree that one or two universities have recently had windfalls. I think that the University of Sydney received financial assistance from outside Australia. I am not suggesting that there will not be any private endowments in the future but I sometimes wonder whether the Commonwealth could not make some specific grants - Commonwealth endowments - which the universities could invest and from which they could derive an income and thus be free to pursue certain lines of investigation and study without having to obtain the approval of the Universities Commission. This would allow a chance for spontaneous genius to follow a line of investigation which may cost money but which may be very difficult to justify in the minds of other people who cannot realise what is really being proposed. The more private income there is in the hands of the universities the more they will have freedom in these matters.
– It is always difficult to recognize spontaneous genius before it happens.
– We are not ashamed to risk millions of pounds on defence research, which sometimes does not turn out to be the result of spontaneous genius. I have in mind such undertakings as “Blue Streak”. We take a bet as to whether it will turn out well. I think the universities might have a similar freedom. One way of ensuring that freedom would be for Commonwealth endowments to replace the private endowments that are drying up.
It is surprising to read in the report of the Universities Commission that only one university - the Australian National University - has a Faculty of Oriental Studies. This situation is not satisfactory for a country living with Asian neighbours. Medical faculties seem to be taxed to cracking point still and we have a need to assist Asia with medical studies. I think the Commonwealth has been very reasonable in its approach to the Australian National University. I think, however, that the Australian National University needs to be reconsidered in some way as a potential source of high-level staff for the other Australian universities.
The United States of America and the United Kingdom are magnets, and there is a need for a discretionary power to be vested in Australian universities to attract brilliant individuals to them. Sometimes, when the question of attracting Australians in the United Kingdom or somebody in the United States to this country has been discussed, there has been a need really to go right outside the normal salary arrangements of universities and to be able to offer a salary which would induce the person concerned to come here. It is not just a question of offering a salary; it is a question also of offering facilities and staff which will enable that individual to pursue a line of research.
It is unfortunate that there is a certain amount of snobbery in this matter. When one distinguished Australian abroad was considering coming back to Australia he was told by his English colleagues that he was committing “ scientific hara-kiri “ by returning to Australia. The feeling that some of them might be doing that is one of the things which precludes such men from returning to Australia. But the ability to guarantee the salary and organization which they will have at their disposal, together with facilities which will enable them to go on with advanced research or branch out in directions which they feel will be interesting and valuable, is an important factor in attracting the kind of people we need. I should like the universities to be told definitely that there would be discretionary funds available to them to do this.
The only other point I want to refer to is this: The report of the Australian Universities Commission, at page 13, speaks about non-admission in some universities of students who have qualified by matriculation. I hope that the waste which is represented in this statement will be rectified by the universities as a result of this report, which says -
The early determination of the true number of qualified applicants excluded by quotas presents some difficulties to all universities, but particularly to those in the State where there is more than one university. At these universities special difficulties arise where the same person applies for each university, and for more than one course at each. Nevertheless, analyses of quota applications should have a high priority in the statistical office of each university; otherwise it will be impossible for universities to collaborate effectively and achieve the full utilization of their collective resources. The Commission suggests that, in States where there is more than one university, a “ clearing house” for applications might be established.
Pages 12 and 13 of the report show the statistics of courses subject to quotas and the number of students who have matriculated and who have not been accepted for entry into universities. Those statistics rather cast doubt on the meaning of “ matriculation “, since it is a qualification to enter a university. If this is due to lack of staff and lack of room, it shows that our national appropriations for universities are not keeping pace with the need. I feel that if those features can disappear from future reports and if we can feel that we are overtaking the need for teachers and for space in the universities, we will have cause for considerable gratification. There are many welcome features of the bill before us, but no grounds at all for complacency. In that spirit, we welcome the measure.
Sitting suspended from 12.40 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I find myself in agreement with almost everything that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said in his constructive comments on this legislation. It seems to me, as it must to any other honorable members who have read the report of the Australian Universities Commission and noted the acceptance of the commission’s recommendations for the next triennium, to be perfectly clear that the Commonwealth Government’s support of universities will be regarded by historians as one of its monumental achievements. This becomes more obvious if you recall the things which were said about our university system by the Murray committee in 1957, a mere six or seven years ago. Taking the picture described by the Murray committee at that time and comparing it with the picture described by the Universities Commission in this its second report, and having regard to what the commission expects will be achieved in the next triennium if the Government accepts its recommendations - which the Government has done - I think very few people will disagree that its support of the universities is one of the Government’s monumental achievements. I shall refer to that in more detail later. lt is obvious also from the report that, despite the fact that the Universities Commission has been in existence for only five years, it has now, as it were, come of age. No one can doubt, after reading the report, that the Universities Commission is an authoritative body which does work of great quality, work which has helped enormously to bring our university education system to its present high level. The commission has increased enormously in stature and in acceptance. Acceptance is very important because the commission had an extremely difficult task to perform. Not only has it to act on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, but, to do its job properly, it must also gain the confidence and acceptance of State governments and universities. It can be said to-day that all of those bodies - the Commonwealth Government, the State governments and the universities - turn to the Universities Commission for advice and accept the commission’s recommendations. That is a tremendous tribute to the way in which it has carried out ils duties.
There have been spectacular achievements in the field of university education since the Murray committee reported in 1957. The grants made as a result of the report of the Murray committee were, so to speak, an emergency operation to enable the universities to cope with a flood of students. The inability of the universities otherwise to cope with the flood of students reflected their failure to keep pace with requirements. It was intended that the grants recommended by the Murray committee and accepted by the Government were to be nothing more than a holding operation while the- commission went to work and described in authoritative terms what the universities needed - which it did in its first report in October, 1960. In view of all that, the achievements set out in the commission’s report covering the last triennium are nothing short of spectacular. Indeed, when the commission made certain recommendations in October of 1960 for the triennium which has just concluded, many people, including some in this House, said that the grants made were at such a level that the universities would only be able to hold th, then existing position. In other words, they said that not only would the universities probably be unable to cope with the increased number of students seeking admission during the triennium but also the grants were insufficient to permit any substantia! improvement of the basic defects which the Murray committee had pointed to in its report. lt is clear to any one who rends the present report objectively that the pessimism of the people who expressed the view to which 1 have referred was unjustified. Many were trying to make trouble by suggesting that the Universities Commission was not in tact an independent body and was tailoring its recommendations, not to the needs of the universities but to what it thought the Commonwealth Government would accept. The report shows that the universities were able to cope with a 29. 1 per cent, increase in enrolments over the threeyear period. That is a tremendous increase. Admittedly, there were exclusions because some universities had to impose quotas, but they were a very small proportion of the total. About 2,000 of a total of 68,949 university students were excluded. I shall have something to say about this matter of quotas and exclusions from universities in a moment.
It is important that the universities during the triennium just passed were able to cope with a 29.1 per cent, increase in student enrolments. But to me that is not the most important point. It is clear also from the report that, while the universities were able to cope with this quite remarkable increase in student enrolments, they also were able to improve the standard of university education. That is shown quite clearly in the report, and 1 shall refer to it later. One of the indicators, of which much was said at the time of the Murray committee’s investigations, and of which much is still said, is the failure rate in universities, the proportion of students who enrol, start a course and fail to graduate. The Murray committee pointed to this as one of the bad features of the Australian university system. 1 think everybody agrees that it was a bad feature. The report points out that (he situation has improved considerably between then and now. It says that 57 per cent, of students who enrolled in 1951 in our universities graduated. Of the students who enrolled in 1956, 70 per cent, graduated. The proportion of 70 per cent, is still not good enough, but it docs show considerable progress in this field.
The report also gives figures regarding graduations in minimum time. This means students who graduated in the minimum time as against those who repeated one or more years before graduating. The proportion of these to total students was 34 per cent, in respect of the 1951 year of entrance, while for the 1956 year of entrance it was 4 1. 1 per cent. Again an improvement was evident.
The report also gives information about numbers of graduates as a proportion of the total number in the seventeen to twenty years age group. Here again there is a considerable improvement. In 1959 it was .8 per cent., in 1960 it had increased to .97 per cent., and in 1961, the last year for which figures were available, it was 1.05 per cent. This compares more than favorably with the 1960-61 figure for the United Kingdom of 72 per cent. In other words we arc doing almost half as well again as the United Kingdom in respect of this aspect of the question.
Another indicator of the improvement that has taken place is seen in stall-student ratios. This, of course, is related to the failure rate in the universities, and the Murray committee pointed to it as n feature of the Australian university system in which there was room for improvement. The report shows that during the triennium there has been a considerable improvement. The staff-student ratio for all the State universities in Australia, as shown in the last report, was 14.1. In this report it is given as 10.5, and this compares with the 1961-62 rate in the United Kingdom of 10.4. Our staff-student ratio has been brought to a point at which we are virtually on the sameevel as the United Kingdom. In some individual faculties, such as engineering and science, we are doing very much better than the United Kingdom.
Another indicator of the improvement on the situation that prevailed at the time of the Murray committee’s report is to be found in the numbers of students taking higher degrees. The Murray committee commented adversely on this. It pointed out that we were not going to be able to fulfil our economic destiny unless we could train an increasing number of people at the post-graduate and higher degree level. The Murray committee reported that the number of students taking higher degrees in 1957 represented 3.69 per cent, of total enrolments. The report shows that in 1963 the proportion is 6.67 per cent. It has almost doubled during that period. This has considerable implications, of course, in relation to the problem mentioned by the honorable member for Fremantle, and which is referred to in the commission’s report, that a very difficult problem facing the universities during the next ‘triennium will be shortage of university staff.
Another indicator is to be found in the field of research. The commission refers to the large growth that has occurred in the post-graduate schools and in research programmes in the universities. The figures here are quite striking. The enrolment for 1963- comprises 3,040 studying for masters’ degrees and 1,620 for doctorates of philosophy, giving a total of 4,660. It is interesting to compare this with the figure for the United Kingdom. In 1960-61 only 3,273 higher degrees were awarded in all universities in Great Britain, compared with the current figure in Australia of 4,660. Admittedly these are not degrees but only enrolments for higher degrees, but the figure shows a striking achievement.
There were a number of other indicators in the commission’s report, but those will suffice for my purpose. The point I want to make is that although the pessimists said in 1960, when the commission first reported, that the amount of money provided, on recommendations made and accepted by the Government, during the triennium would be barely sufficient to, hold the line, ‘-without making any of these improvements, in fact the universities have been able not only to absorb an increase of 29.1 per .cent, in student enrolments, but also to make considerable advances in all these aspects of the situation to which I have referred, and about which the university system was criticized by the Murray committee. In fact our universities have now reached a standard comparable with, or even higher than, that in the United Kingdom. I remind the House that this has happened at a time when we have been giving a large proportion of our university places to overseas students. I hope our friends and neighbours in South-East Asia will appreciate the fact that during the time in which we have been experiencing minor exclusions of our own Australians from our universities, we have had large numbers of overseas students in our universities. In 1962 we had in our Australian universities no fewer than 3,895 overseas students, representing 6 per cent, of total student enrolments. Of these, 5.1 per cent, of total enrolments were of students coming from Asia.
There are two other points I would like to mention before I conclude. Much has been said, particularly by the Opposition, about alleged deficiencies in government aid to students in universities. Members of the Opposition have tried to make a political point of this. They have tried to convey to the public the idea that as a result of government policy the universities are becoming the preserve of the rich; that only wealthy people can afford to go to the universities. In that respect the report of the Australian Universities Commission gives some very interesting figures. It mentions that in 1960 Australia ranked third in the world in the amount of direct government assistance given to students undertaking tertiary education, both in terms of expenditure per student and in terms of expenditure per head of population. I might add that that was the position in 1960, before the number of Commonwealth scholarships was increased by 1,000 in 1961 and before the increase of 1,500 which was announced by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his second-reading speech on these bills. It is worth remembering that Australia ranked third in the world in the amount of direct government assistance given to students in universities.
– Do you not want Australia to be first?
– T would very much like Australia to be first. The point is that the picture which many members of the Opposition have attempted to paint for purely political purposes does not square up with the true picture.
Members of the Opposition and other people have made much of the introduction of quotas in Australian universities. I think all of us deplore the introduction of quotas, whatever the cause and wherever it happens, lt is very encouraging to find that the Australian Universities Commission has made recommendations in regard to this matter and that the Government has accepted them. So far as the commission is concerned, it believes that its recommendations will eliminate the need for quotas by the end of the new triennium’, that is by 1966. I say “ so far as the commission is concerned “ because it is quite clear from the commission’s report that the complete solution of this problem does not lie in the hands of the commission or in the hands of the Commonwealth Government.
The report makes it clear that the position would have been much less acute and it would not have been necessary to introduce quotas in any Australian university faculty other than medicine, but for the actions of the students and the universities themselves. The report points out that in New South Wales and Victoria - the two States in which quotas have mainly been applied - the statistical services of the universities are inadequate to enable them to make predictions in order to make the necessary arrangements to prevent the exclusion of students or the introduction of quotas.
The commission points out that there is not enough contact between the universities in States in which there is more than one university - this relates to New South Wales and Victoria - in relation to multiple enrolments. The commission points out that in Victoria - the home State of the honorable member for Wills (Mr, Bryant) - exclusions in the faculties of arts, commerce and economics were clue to the fact that the courses available in the two universities - the University of Melbourne and Monash
University - were not similar in content and were not interchangeable. In other words, a student who started at the University of Melbourne would find it very difficult to finish a degree in the faculty of arts, commerce or economics at Monash, and vice versa. The lack of contact between universities has led to quite unnecessary exclusions.
The report refers also to the relatively large number of students who declined places offered to them, who withdrew their applications during the period of selection, or who withdrew when they were denied places in the university of their choice. For instance, a student who wanted to enrol in a faculty at the University of Sydney and was denied a place in that university did not go to the University of New South Wales where he would have bad an opportunity to gain entrance. I wish now to .quote two sections of the commission’s report which are most enlightening. With reference to the Victorian situation, the commission says -
While it is desirable for each of the two universities to develop its own ethos, it would be especially helpful if, during the period of the “ bulge “, courses in both were largely interchangeable and mutually supporting so that students excluded by quotas at one could enter a course of similar character at the other. In the difficult years ahead, the two universities might reasonably be expected to act in concert to help meet the needs of the State.
With reference to the situation in New South Wales, the commission says -
The Commission believes that a large proportion of the students who were rejected from the University of Sydney in 1963 could have enrolled for courses at the University of New South Wales had they so wished. Furthermore, while it is true that it may not have been possible to enrol students in the courses of their first choice, accommodation was available for a wide range of courses.
– Is that in the report?
– That is in the report of the commission. Australia cannot afford the luxury of waste. At a time when, under these bills, the Commonwealth will bc appropriating £60,000,000 for the next triennium, and as a result of that the State Governments will be finding £70,000,000 and the university students will be finding £20,000,000, we cannot afford to have the waste that is involved in lack of co-operation and contact between universities in the same State. On this point of quotas, the commission makes it fairly clear that in the triennium which has almost concluded, except in the field of medicine, virtually every prospective student could have been accommodated if the universities had been more on the ball and if the students themselves had been prepared, if their applications were refused by one institution, to go to another in the same State.
The commission’s report also points out - I suggest that the Government might give a good deal of thought to this point - that the University of Tasmania has hundreds of vacant places in most faculties and would be glad, indeed delighted, to accept students from the mainland. On examination, it may well be found to be cheaper for the Government to give assistance to enable students to move around Australia to do university courses in places in which, for one reason or another, there is excess capacity, than to try to create facilities in every university in every State so that everybody who applies for admission to a university can gain it. I believe that anybody who reads the report cannot fail to believe that this Government, the universities and the State governments have made a tremendous amount of progress in achieving the aim of adequate university education in Australia in the last triennium.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) was moving along nicely in the last stage of his speech. I felt that in his approach to the question of accommodation at universities he was using much more vision than is ordinarily associated with the policies of honorable members opposite, or than is usually shown by the honorable member. I agree that there is a strong case to be made for residential accommodation for students at universities. At the last conference of the Labour Party in Perth a resolution to this effect was passed.
I have done a rapid calculation which shows that by the time Monash University is finished it will cost about £66,000,000. If it reaches an accommodation level of 20,000 students, the cost will be about £3,300 per student. The capital cost of establishing a university seems to be somewhere . between £3,000 and £3,500 per student. I do not know exactly what residential accommodation costs these days, but I do know that the Army put up some very fine barracks at a cost of a little over £1,000 per soldier at Puckapunyal and Watsonia in Victoria. As the honorable member pointed out, it seems that there are a lot of vacant sites in places such as Hobart, Perth and Armidale.
– The cost is about £3,500 per student for accommodation in an ordinary residential college and about £6,000 per resident at a place like University House.
– That is the cost of accommodation here, but there should be a much more sophisticated approach to the kind of accommodation that is erected for students of this area. From my examination of these questions, it seems that a lot of the accommodation that is put up is too expensive. I believe that people are entitled to have good accommodation, but we are spending between £3,000 and £4,000 per head for residential accommodation. That is a much higher expenditure than is the case with the average Australian family. Even a very lavish Australian family would not spend £3,000 per head for family accommodation. I believe there is room for a completely new approach to the question of residential accommodation in universities.
The honorable member for Barker is falling into the deep sin of complacency on the questions of universities and university accommodation. I admit that from the point of view of the Opposition it is gratifying to see that on education the people who are concerned have a national attitude, and that the Commonwealth has accepted almost in toto the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission. A big advance has been made ever the last six or seven years, but the Australian educational system still lags behind those in the rest of the world. We might be running third, but is there any reason why we should not be running first in certain aspects of assistance to scholars? Even if we are spending more per student than some other countries, we are spending only 2.2 per cent, of our national income on education, whilst the United Kingdom is spending 4.2 per cent, of its national income. The United
States of America spends 4.6 per cent, of its national income on education, France spends 3 per cent., Italy 3.2 per cent., Canada 4.5 per cent, and New Zealand 3.7 per cent. If we are lagging behind Italy, which is a poverty-stricken country beset with many problems that this country does not face-
– I am sure that the Italians would be pleased to be called povertystricken!
– If the Italians that the honorable member knows are not poverty stricken, then they are different from the Italian people who are migrating by the hundreds of thousands to this country every year, for the reason that it is wealthier than their homeland. Even though many Italians arc migrating, Italy is able to devote 50 per cent, more of its national income for expenditure on education than is Australia. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), who is interjecting, may have his say later. An atmosphere of complacency has been brought into this debate by honorable members opposite. I suggest that they turn their minds more closely to the future needs of the nation in the field of education.
– Are you including in your figures the amounts spent on church schools?
– These are statistics on public expenditure on education - something which is within the responsibilities of governments, whether they are in Italy, France, Australia or anywhere else. It is the responsibility of people such as us to decide the proportion of our national income that we are prepared to spend on education. The statistics show that in Australia we do not apply ourselves to the problem as well as do people in many other countries. Look at the position in the United States of America, where there is no confusion about the constitutional position in relation to the matter raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson). There is no room for complacency anywhere in the Australian educational system.
What of the future? In 1947 there was the greatest ever increase in our birth rate. People who were born at that time will be ready for the universities at some time in the next two years. There will be tremendous numbers of them, and university places should be made available in accordance with the demand. But the birth rate is only a part of the pattern. I refer honorable members to the report of the Ramsay committee on the development of tertiary education in Victoria from 1963 to 1972. I have here the only copy available that was in the library. The report said -
The committee has been impressed with the fact that in recent years every public prediction of university enrolments has been too low. The committee can foresee no slackening in the demand for university education and no lessening in the need for graduates, but rather an increased demand and growing need, and has unanimously agreed that it must accept the figures shown in assumption 3 as the basis for any recommendations.
The assumptions are shown in the report. The document refers to various social changes and gives some statisitcs in relation to Victorian secondary schools over the last sixteen or seventeen years. In the seventeen-eighteen-year group, the proportion proceeding to matriculation standard in 1949 was 9 per cent, of the boys and 5.5 per cent, of the girls; in 1950, 10.5 per cent, of the boys and 7 per cent, of the girls; in 1955, 11.5 per cent, of the boys and 8 per cent, of the girls; and in 1960, 17 per cent, of the boys and 11 per cent, of the girls.
A great deal of social change is going on. Most of it is occurring in the homes and hearts of constituents of members on this side of the House. Interesting statistics may be found by checking an electorate such as my own. In 1959, in the city of Coburg, which is a major portion of my electorate, I think there were 38 students in the matriculation classes. This year there are 161 students in the matriculation classes and 250 students in the Leaving Certificate classes. How are we going to find the university places to cope with that increase in demand?
If we turn to page 153 of the Ramsay committee’s report we find some other interesting social predictions. Until recent years there were three times as many students in State schools as in non-State schools, but it is only in the last few years that State schools have reached parity at the matriculation level. There has been a tremendous wastage in the secondary school system. Therefore, the loss to the university system has occurred principally in the working-class homes of Australia. If we examine the figures relating to predictions for certain elements in the State schools and high schools in Victoria we find that in 1961 there were 1,860 form VI. students in high schools and 2,090 students attending registered schools. If we follow the figures through from year to year we see that by 1963 they reach parity, but then, by 1971 - in only eight or nine years’ time - it is estimated that the number of students in form VI. in registered schools will be 3,000 and that the number in State schools will be 7,000. The figures I have quoted appear in the chart relating to boys. I quote them to illustrate that there is a tremendous social change related to the demand and appreciation of people in electorates such as the one I represent for which we must cater. We can see no sign of adequate realization of this in either the Australian Universities Commission’s report or in the Prime Minister’s announcement in this place. We have to face that problem.
The principles have already been laid down. Again let me quote what the Ramsay report has to say about the level of university education that we ought to expect. The three points made in it are -
Every student who meets its required entrance standard has a right to education in a university. Every student who meets the required entrance standard should, if possible, be admitted to the study of his choice. The community can use to advantage every person who qualifies In a university, and restrictions on entry cannot be justified on grounds of quality of students or overproduction of graduates.
It goes on to say -
The standards of entry should not be raised in order - to reduce or control the level of the intake, or to raise the pass rate within the universities, or to eliminate all but the “honours” students.
The Australian Universities Commission is surprised that there have been refusals. The honorable member for Barker referred to that point. A surprising feature of the statistics is the relatively large number of students who have declined places offered to them, who have withdrawn their applications during the period of selection even without being denied study with the university of their choice.
Why do people withdraw from university quotas? I believe that the main reason for withdrawal ls economic. Families are under a tremendous pressure when the children reach the age at which they should be attending universities. I think the fees at the Monash University this year will be £150, or about £3 a week for the first year. Is it possible to keep a 17-year old, an 18-year old or a 19-year old child on less than £5 or £6 a week? Of course it is not! When we add to that other necessary expenses, I am certain that no sensible honorable member would say that the maintenance of a university student would cost the family less than about £10 a week. Again, is it not reasonable to think that many families will have two children of university age? If the two oldest children of the family are only two years apart in age, it is possible that both will be heading for the university at the same time. How many Australian families can afford to pay £20 a week for education? We on this side believe that there is a great need to expand the university scholarship system and all the allowances attached to it. The whole system is completely inadequate. Both the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Barker have referred to the question of Government assistance.
The number of scholarships available this year is 4,000. And the number of entries to universities is 17,000! Back in 1951, 7,600 students entered universities and the number of scholarships available at that date was only 3,000. The charts are here for anybody who cares to read them. They show just how great is the proportion of Commonwealth scholars who receive no allowance and how great is the proportion of university students who are being sustained by means other than Government support. For these reasons, we on this side believe that there must be a radical change in the approach to this question and that a completely different view must be taken of the planning required.
This problem covers many fields of university study. We would want to. see an expansion of university accommodation for residential students, as I pointed out earlier in my remarks. There must be many ways in which the whole question of the expansion of accommodation within the university itself can be approached, and interesting comments are made about this in the Victorian report to which I have referred.
I would recommend honorable members to examine the suggestions made in that report. For instance, there could be ways in which the great capital investment that we see in universities could be employed more fully; perhaps the academic area is too large or the academic buildings are not occupied full-time. Perhaps there may be some way in which they could be used by two different sets of students. All these matters should be carefully examined. I agree with the honorable member for Barker that it is reasonable to suggest that the examination of the university system should be carried out with due regard to economics.
It is proposed that £60,000,000 will be expended by the Commonwealth on universities over the next three years. I remind the House that this morning’s press contained an announcement that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), who had gone hot-foot to the United States of America to try and recapture some lost time in obtaining new military equipment, is contemplating spending something like £100,000,000. There seems to be no difficulty about finding money for that purpose. A little earlier to-day, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) pointed out the greater glories of the decimal coinage system. I understand that the change-over to the new system will cost about £34,000,000 by the time it is completed.
– It will save us a lot afterwards.
– -That is right. It will save the teaching service a lot of time, too, but our challenge relates to the system of priorities favoured by honorable members on the Government side. Let the honorable member for Wentworth stand up and express the same view in connexion with university and other educational expenditure by the Commonwealth. The £34,000,000 involved in the change-over to decimal currency would provide a university capable of catering for 10,000 students. Surely a university catering for 10,000 students is as important as decimal coinage.
– It is vastly more important.
– I agree with the honorable member. I would say that nothing could be nearly as important as that.
– We are going to have both.
– The honorable member for Wentworth cheers me up no end! He says that we are to have both, but ever since he entered this Parliament he has been preaching caution in connexion with expenditure by the Commonwealth Government. I would not look upon him as one of the visionary extravagant characters on the Government side who are saying that we can do this and we can do that. He is always voicing pessimism in relation to projects espoused by honorable members on this side; but I am glad to have his support on this issue.
I think the nation itself will suffer unless it takes up the challenge and embarks upon a university expansion programme designed to cater for all those students who can benefit from it. We must expand the whole field of tertiary education, and we must adopt a new approach to teacher education. Those are the points that we wanted to place before the House this afternoon. We have no intention of taking up much more of the time of the House on this measure, but I would point out to honorable members some of the difficulties that confront new universities such as the Monash University. The Monash University is a magnificent project. It is probably the only university in Australia the designs of which were on the drawing board in a complete form before the Government’s programme was put under way. But Monash University is already experiencing financial stringency. My information is that already the library accommodation is inadequate, that the new union for the students is only about one-third or one-half of the size asked for and that the residential accommodation for such a large institution will be inadequate. One of the difficulties of a university like Monash, which is located in one of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, is that there is no densely populated surrounding residential area in which students can find accommodation, whereas the University of Melbourne - and I presume this applies to the University of Sydney, too - is situated in a densely populated area where there are always rooms available. Students wishing to attend Monash must go to Melbourne to find board and therefore are required to travel between 10 and 12 miles a day to the university. I think that in planning university accommodation the need for either good transport facilities or a higher ratio of residential accommodation adjacent to the university has been overlooked. These matters ought to be considered in the future, and we on this side would hope that a new vision will be brought to the question of university expanison.
We are particularly concerned about the position with respect to Commonwealth scholarships. I mentioned the figures earlier. The Prime Minister has told us that the number will be increased to 5,000 a year from the beginning of 1964, but that still represents only a very small proportion of the number of students seeking Commonwealth scholarships. Probably, only about 20 or 25 per cent, of the requests for Commonwealth scholarships at the end of this calendar year will be met. According to the figures that we have been given, there were 20,000 matriculants in 1962. The number will probably be 25,000 or 30,000 by the end of this year, but let us put it at 25,000. Of these, only 5,000 will gain Commonwealth scholarships.
The Government’s approach to Commonwealth scholarships is completely inadequate. A modern social approach would regard a student as a worker in the same way that an apprentice, an Army officer trainee or a Royal Australian Air Force pilot trainee is regarded as a worker. Somehow, we have to divert a greater proportion of our resources to the provision of Commonwealth scholarships.
The Australian Labour Party has at least drawn up an official party policy on education that provides for a programme of expanded university development. We would not be rash enough to say what all the answers are. We know only that there are many problems that, so far, are not being faced. All sorts of facilities have to be expanded and new approaches have to be adopted on matters such as the use of special teaching aids like television. I hope that, no matter what may be the fate of any one of us in the forthcoming election, and no matter who sits on which side of the House in the coming year, we shall be able to throw off the air of complacency that becomes apparent every time a bill dealing with universities comes before the House. I trust that we shall face the realities of the situation. We must realize that we are now discussing the fate of human beings and that, once the opportunity for university training has passed them by they will not get a chance again. Only a small percentage of prospective university students who miss their opportunity at the end of 1963, 1964 or 1965 will ever have another opportunity.
In this matter, we are not speaking in terms of prestige or of the placing of our position and attitude on record internationally. We are talking in terms of what happens to human beings when the opportunity for university training passes them by because of the inadequacy of university accommodation or because of family difficulties financially and economically. I still say that, despite the recent report of the Australian Universities Commission and the Government’s promise of £60,000,000 for universities over the next three years, we are not really facing the fundamental issue.
.- Mr. Speaker, the speech made by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) was a remarkable change from those made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), which were most enlightened and constructive speeches. Unfortunately, we have hit rock bottom with the honorable member for Wills, who seems to be claiming to speak for the Australian Labour Party. I believe that the Labour party would prefer to have the honorable member for Fremantle speak for it, in view of the remarks that the honorable member for Wills has just made.
The honorable member for Wills succeeded, not in attacking the Government, but only in attacking the Australian Universities Commission, because these measures that are now before us are based on recommendations by the commission that have been adopted by the Government. I believe that, on this occasion, for the benefit of those people who read “ Hansard “ and the few who may be listening to the broadcast, it may not be amiss for me to state the names of the members of the commission. They are Sir Leslie Martin, Professor N. S. Bayliss, Mr. K. B. Myer, Professor S. Sunderland, Professor A. D. Trendall, Dr. J. Vernon and Sir Kenneth Wills. Furthermore, perhaps we may place on record the following extract from the commission’s terms of reference, which is set out at the beginning of the report: -
The Commission shall perform its functions with a view to promoting the balanced development of universities so that their resources can be used to the greatest possible advantage by Australia.
I believe that anybody who reads the report and who has studied the previous reports realizes that the commission has done excellent work.
The honorable member for Barker pointed out that Australia ranks third in terms of the amount of direct government assistance to students undertaking tertiary education. The honorable member for Wills is not satisfied with that ranking. He says that we should be first. We would like to see Australia rank first, but let us not forget the facts. The honorable member quoted the example of countries that rank ahead of Australia. Those are established countries with well-established economies, whereas we are a young country.
– The figures were phoney, anyway.
– They are only figures. Here we are, with the responsibility for developing and defending a country in the southern hemisphere that is an outpost of Western civilization. I noticed earlier that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) interjected and said, I think, that we are prepared to spend so much on bombers. Obviously, he would prefer that we did not spend so much on bombers. The whole point is that the total of £172,000,000 that is to be spent on the universities by the States and the Commonwealth over the next triennium would not have been available to the universities had Labour been in office. Only the efforts of this Government, which have resulted in our economy being so sound, have put us in this position. There have been suggestions in the press that we probably will rest on our laurels after the next election. But we shall go ahead and expand our economy, because this Government has built a strong foundation that will enable us to raise the standards of our economy even higher and to advance the national welfare even further.
I now turn to the remarks that I rose to address to the House. They will be brief. We believe, as, I think, do many people in the large metropolitan cities, that more university facilities should be provided in country areas. Obviously, this is a matter, not for the Federal Government, but rather for the State governments. However, perhaps a little suggestion by the Commonwealth would help, and the Universities Commission may even recommend that more university facilities be provided in the country. I believe that we could better further the cause of tertiary education by establishing university colleges in our larger country towns instead of establishing more universities in the great metropolitan cities.
I believe that there are many advantages in university colleges situated in country areas. First of all, the acquisition of land for universities in country towns would be far less expensive than the acquisition of land for similar universities in large cities. The New South Wales Government proposes to establish a third university in Sydney at Ryde. The land alone has cost £1,000,000. But that is only one factor. Considerable waste of time and money is entailed for both students and staff in travelling from one end of Sydney by tram, train or other means to the universities there. I believe that another important factor is the environmental influence of rural areas compared with cities. The old universities of the world were originally established in what were rural areas, and I believe that the fact that the areas in which those universities were established were rural was a consideration that influenced the choice of locations.
In a large metropolis such as Sydney, where there are more than 2,000,000 people, the average person hardly realizes that a university exists. The universities mean nothing for quite a large percentage of the people of Sydney or any other large city, whereas the average person in a country town would be very conscious of a university in his community. The university would be a very valued part of a country community. I understand that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) will speak later. I have no doubt that he would agree that the University of New England is a highly valued institution in the city of Armidale.
I believe that the establishment of university centres in country areas will help in many ways. We are always trying to find ways of dispersing our population into country areas. The establishment of country universities will help to do this, because the existence of a university in any centre provides opportunities for the establishment of other institutions such as teachers’ training colleges and research institutions, which can work in conjunction with the university. A university college in an agricultural area will provide opportunities for the conduct of agricultural research. A university institution in the principal town in a particular mineral area, such as I visualize Rockhampton as being, would provide opportunities for the conduct of research in fields such as metallurgy and mining engineering. It would also offer greater opportunities to young people in rural areas whose parents are not keen about them going to the big cities.
A lot of thought should be given to the scheme of tertiary education. The assistance being given by the Commonwealth is excellent and is part of a scheme that has been evolved to develop our tertiary education. The Commonwealth Government obviously is very conscious of its responsibility, but I believe that something more should be done. We should get away from the idea of developing universities only in the city areas. I will speak of my electorate, because I am more conversant with the situation there than I am with the situation in other areas. Several country towns in my electorate would like to have university colleges. Warwick is one such centre and even the Gold Coast could have a university college. This area is developing rapidly and it has an excellent site for a university college. I know that Toowoomba on the Darling Downs is making a very strong drive to have a university college established there. A most energetic committee is interested in this project, and I understand that the land would be provided for a university college.
I have nothing further to add. However, I would Uk? the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to use his influence so that a little more consideration would be given to decentralizing our tertiary education.
.- I join with other honorable members in commending the Australian Universities Commission for the excellent report it has presented. The report will certainly be of advantage to honorable members, lt con tains a wealth of information that will help us to make judgments and possibly to determine future policy. I think the Government is entitled to a fair share of credit for its initiative in assisting the universities. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that we also owe a good deal of thanks to the State governments for the part that they have played in this co-operative enterprise. The Commonwealth in this triennium is providing £60,000,000, but the States will have the burden of finding £90,000,000.
Although I have been prepared to make those acknowledgments to the various governments and although I feel a glow of pride when I see many noble buildings being constructed on the many university campuses around Australia, I have some distinct misgivings in my mind. The Australian Universities Commission has reported that in the coming triennium the financial provisions will cater only for the most urgent needs. The commission expects that there will be a 40 per cent, increase in the demand for university places over the next three years. In fact, it says that the next three years will be the most difficult period in the next decade and more difficult than the last triennium. The number of students, which has been increasing, is really reaching the hump now. Not only is the number of young people in the age group of seventeen to twenty years reaching its peak, but we are also facing an increase of the proportion of youngsters who are aspiring to a university education. I think we must keep that well in mind when we make judgments on the recommendations that are before us.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) in the course of his speech chided some honorable members on this side of the House - he probably meant to include me - for having been pessimistic in 1961 . about the provision being made then for the ensuing triennium. We said that this provision would not meet the needs of the universities. I do not know that we were very wrong. Admittedly, some advances have been made in various aspects, and the honorable member referred to them. However, 1 remind him that not very long ago the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had to introduce legislation to give supplementary assistance to the universities. He said that this assistance ‘ was to’ meet “ the many requests “ made by various universities In Australia for some inter-period allocation. The extra provision was to compensate for inadequacies that were apparent in the 1961 to 1963 triennium. The Prime Minister said that there were a great many requests and that most of them had to be turned down. I am sure that, if the university authorities had been asked, they would have said that during the last triennium they have had some very tough problems to deal with.
I do not want to be unduly pessimistic about the future; I hope I am being a realist. I believe that the provision of £60,000,000 from the Commonwealth, £90,000,000 from the States and £20,000,000 from university fees will not be too much to meet all the demands that will be made on our universities in the next period of three years. It is quite on the cards that the universities will face some pretty severe difficulties in that time. I agree with the comment of the commission that probably the greatest difficulty of all will be in the provision of trained lecturers and other members of university staffs to cater for the increased number of students in this period.
My second misgiving relates to the States, which are co-operating in this enterprise. As I have said, they will be required to find £90,000,000 in order to match the Commonwealth’s contribution. The Commonwealth contribution is conditional on the States granting £1 for every £1 spent on capital expenses. The States and students have to find £1.85 for every £1 provided by the Commonwealth for recurrent expenses such as salaries and general running costs. 1 know from my own personal experience that the States are finding it very difficult to meet this commitment. I would say that only the fear of political repercussions prevents a number of States from saying that they just cannot meet the commitment. I am very well aware that most of the States, if not all of them, are meeting their commitment to the universities at the expense of other levels of education that are within their jurisdiction. I refer particularly to technical education and, to a lesser extent, to teachers’ colleges, teacher traineeships and secondary and primary education.
– That is an interesting point, but hard to support.
– The honorable member says that it is hard to support, but all the Premiers unanimously on several occasions have told the Commonwealth that they need infinitely more money to cater for their needs than is at present available to them. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) as a Liberal member of this Parliament, might do well to read the September issue of the “ Australian Liberal “, which is in the Library here. It shows that the State Liberal Party of New South Wales expressed the view that there is urgent need for more Commonwealth assistance for primary, secondary and technical education.
– Order! I inform the honorable member that he should not be drawn away from a discussion of the bill by an interjection.
– But this is relevant
– Order! We are dealing with universities.
– I refer the honorable member to the publication I have mentioned. He will see that Mr. Ben Doig, who is a spokesman on education in the State House, went on to say-
– This is relevant, Mr. Speaker, as you will see if you will hear me out.
– Order! The honorable member is opening up a discussion on education generally. I ask him to relate his remarks to the bill.
– I am referring to finances at this moment, and Mr. Doig said that under the Constitution the Commonwealth had fixed responsibilities-
– Order! The honorable member is now dealing with education generally in New South Wales. I ask him to direct his remarks to the bill.
– In deference to you, Mr. Speaker, I will leave that point. I direct attention to the fact that the States are required to match the Commonwealth’s provision. I have already made my point that the States have experienced difficulty in doing this and that their difficulties will increase
The other point that I make is that the provision for universities does not fit into a broad national plan for education. As long as the Commonwealth resists entreaties to provide finance for lower levels of education, the efficacy of the amounts provided for universities is affected. This is a straightforward point. As a matter of fact, the Australian Universities Commission directs attention to this very point, particulary in respect of science and technology. In addition, because the Commonwealth gives aid to universities almost to the exclusion of other levels of education, the universities are at the moment able to outbid all other levels of education in the matter of staff. We have the unhappy situation at the moment of the universities taking trained staff from teachers’ colleges and from the higher levels of technical education, to say nothing of secondary education, and this can bc a very short-sighted policy. This situation may help the universities to meet their urgent needs for trained teaching and administrative staff, and urgent they are acknowledged to be, but it deprives the lower levels of education of their skilled personnel, lt is the lower levels of education on which the universities must ultimately depend for the quality as well as the quantity of their students. To this extent the failure of the Commonwealth to have a rational nation-wide comprehensive integrated and balanced plan of education at all levels will limit the effect of the provision that is now being made for universities.
This is not an efficient way of dealing with the problem. The problem will get worse because the period of secondary education, for instance, is being extended specifically to produce people better qualified to enter our universities. An extra year has been added to the courses of secondary students in New South Wales. In New South Wales there is now beyond the ordinary leaving certificate year a fifth and sixth year during which the students will be particularly and specifically geared for university studies. But where are the personnel to come from? Where are the trained graduate teachers to come from at that level if they all are being taken away to the universities, which can pay salaries much higher than the States can afford to pay for teachers at the lower levels of education?
A few minutes ago I referred to the special position of science and technology. In its report the Universities Commission - the honorable member for Barker did not mention this - referred to the deteriorating proportion of science enrolments at our universities. The commission referred particularly to the University of Melbourne and stated -
While students accepted in Arts and Commerce obtained 65 per cent, or more-
That is at matriculation - a comparable number in Science and the technologies was accepted with marks as low as, or near to, the pass mark of 50 per cent.
The complaint there was that many of the first year enrolments in science at the universities were rather inadequately equipped for the task that confronted them. The report continues -
In the sister university of Monash, quotas in Science and Engineering were only half tilled, the minimum marks again being as low as 50 ner cent.
All this means that unless the Commonwealth interests itself in the whole pattern of education, the effect of its provisions for universities will be that much less effective. In the fields of science and technology the report of the Universities Commission directs attention to the inadequacy of students and to the fact that there are all too few of them. In this case there is no need of quotas; there are not sufficient students to fill the vacancies in science and technology. This is a sorry commentary on our whole programme of education, especially as science and technology loom so large in our community to-day, and affect not only our economy but also our whole way of life. Science touches everything that makes up the fabric of our society, whether it be the social sciences, the physical sciences or the biological sciences. All these things have become so much in demand, not only in the field of government but also in the field of private enterprise. Not only are the students coining to the universities inadequate in numbers but more importantly, even the comparatively small number of places that are filled in science and technology are being filled by people who have barely obtained a pass mark at the matriculation examination. The commission’s report points out that in 196) out of the total number of bachelor degree enrolments for all Australian universities, 17.7 per cent, enrolled for science, but in 1962 the figure had decreased to 16.4 per cent. In other words, the proportion of students enrolling for bachelor degrees in science was declining compared with the total number of students at our universities. This situation would cause a feeling of misgiving in the mind of anybody. It is no good being complacent and talking about the money that is being provided for universities if we are not getting the best results. We are getting fair results but nothing like the results we need. Science and technology are two fields - not the only ones; I will refer to another - in which the results are not coming up to the expectations or wishes of the community or up to the standards required by the commission. The commission directs attention to this deficiency and, dealing with Victorian universities, states -
If the evidence disclosed … is typical, the provision of more university places by creating a new university, for example, will not increase significantly the production of well qualified scientists and technologists; the improvement will be almost wholly in the Faculties of Arts, Law and Commerce. This imbalance calls for corrective planning in secondary - perhaps even in primary - schools. Amongst outer factors it is likely to be associated with unsuccessful teaching in Mathematics.
IE I cannot get anything across more clearly than this I will be satisfied: Unless we have a Commonwealth interest in the whole realm of education, in association with the States - I do not want the Commonwealth to take over the rights or responsibilities of the States - as is requested by practically every responsible organization in the community, the provision for universities will be inadequate.
– Order! The honorable member is now getting away from the bill. We are discussing the Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill.
– I take it that it is in order to refer to the report of the Universities Commission.
– Yes, but it is not in order to engage in a debate on education generally.
– I bow to your ruling, Sir, and will leave the matter there, reminding the House that the Universities Commission has suggested that unless we are pre pared to do more at the lower levels of education we will be in trouble at the university level.
Let us now turn to the question of Commonwealth scholarships. Here, again, the report of the commission refers to the fact that students are not going into the disciplines of science and technology to the same extent as they are entering the other faculties. Youngsters who have to face up to the hot competition for scholarships at the matriculation level are not going in for science, because they regard it as being a more severe discipline and one in which it is harder to get a matriculation pass adequate to gain a Commonwealth scholarship.
I suggest strongly to the House that in awarding Commonwealth scholarships we should give consideration to specifying that at least some proportion of them should be made available only to people entering science or some other technological faculty at a university - and perhaps medicine. Under this legislation, 5,000 open entrance scholarships will be made available for competition by students, irrespective of the faculty they desire to enter. This matter has been under discussion by the commission and the scholarships board in the past, but I think the idea was rejected, lt might be well worthwhile to have another look at that, particularly while we have before us the evidence relating to the deficiency in the number of students interested in science and technology at university level. I know from my own experience it is true that students need a lot of persuasion to take up science at the leaving or matriculation certificate standard, when they realize the number of marks they must gain at the qualifying examination. They believe it to be much harder to get those marks in science than in other subjects. If this is true or if it is suspected that it is true, consideration might well be given to allocating a specific number of open entrance Commonwealth scholarships and perhaps even award later year scholarships to people entering the faculties of science and other technologies and, certainly, medicine.
Turning now to medicine, I find that the commission also drew attention to the fact that 170 students who applied to enter this faculty in the various universities of Australia last year were rejected because of the incidence of quotas. The existence of quotas debarred 170 young students who wanted to enter medicine from doing so! Every day or so some local community - particularly a rural township - complains that it cannot get a doctor. Overall, perhaps, Australia is not badly off for medical practitioners, but there are a number of local problems for various communities in obtaining the services of a doctor. This being so, it seems unfortunate that we have had to reject 170 intending medical students from our universities.
The commission suggests one of the reasons why this deficiency exists is that people who go in for medicine are possibly not of the highest standard, generally, because of the inadequate number of Commonwealth scholarships offered. This is understandable. Medicine is a six years’ university course, and it is likely that many students cannot afford to take the course without the aid of the scholarship system. So, in the long term, it may be necessary to make specific scholarships available for medical students.
The report also brings to our attention the fact that the number of students in the faculty of medicine, as a proportion of all university students, has been consistently declining. The report shows that in 1957, 14.4 per cent, of all university students were in the faculty of medicine; in 1958 the figure had declined to 13.5 per cent.; in 1959, it was down to 13 per cent.; in 1960, it was 12.4 per cent.; in 1961 it was 1 I.I per cent.; and in 1962 it was down to 10 per cent. There has been no interruption in the decline in the proportion of students entering the faculty of medicine compared with the total university population.
From the answer to a question which I asked the Prime Minister it seems that this decline has been going on for even longer than these figures show. Speaking from memory, 1 think that back in 1.953 or 1 954 the proportion of university students entering the faculty of medicine to the total number of students was as high as 18 per cent, and it has declined from that figure to 10 per cent.
While I am prepared to acknowledge that there is not, over all, a great dearth of doctors in Australia I think this is substantially because we have had the benefit of a lol of doctors coming to Australia from overseas to take up practice in this country. Had we been obliged to rely on our own resources we would bc in a lot of difficulty. There is no guarantee that the supply of doctors from overseas - and particularly from Britain, whence a good many of them come - will continue.
One of the unfortunate things about the inadequate number of Commonwealth scholarships is that many students have been forced to forgo university courses. The commission mentions this fact in its report and says that a number of good quality potential university students have been unable to take places offered to them in universities because they could not get scholarships. One of the results of this has been that a good many potential university students, wanting to enter some professional course, have had to turn to alternative courses. One of the courses on which they have descended in great numbers is teaching. Here they have been in hot competition, to the exclusion of a lot of other youngsters who would have liked to become teachers but were not able to do so. In the past year 2,000 young Australians who sought these scholarships and were qualified for them could not gel (hem, because the field was crowded with people who had been rejected from universities or who could not take the places which had been offered to them.
It will be a good thing if, in the near future, the Commonwealth gels the report on other forms of tertiary education and gives consideration to the extension of Commonwealth scholarships and Commonwealth aid to other institutions, apart from universities. This would give relief, and- I look forward to it with great interest. The commission’s report says we can expect the other report towards the end of this year, which is now close. I hope it will be made available to honorable members before this Parliament goes out of existence.
There is no gainsaying the fact (hat Commonwealth scholarships are infinitely harder to get now than they ever were previously. The provision of another 1,000 scholarships will not make a great deal of difference; indeed, they will only restore the position which existed in 1961. To get back to the position that existed in 1953 the number of open entrance scholarships available for the 1 964 triennium would have to be not 5,000, but 10,000.’ The number should be exactly doubled, and that is allowing for the introduction of the 1,280 later year awards. In 1962 only 20 per cent. - or one in five - of first-year university students held Commonwealth scholarships, as against 30 per cent, in 19S3.
We have to take into account the fact that there will be a steep increase in the number of students next year and in the following couple of years. Even with the number of scholarships that are provided - I am speaking not only of open entrance scholarships but also of those granted to students in second or subsequent years - only 24 per cent, of all students will obtain a scholarship in 1964, on the present estimated university population at that time. In its 1961 policy speech Labour promised to increase the number of open entrance scholarships to 8,000 and I feel sure that in our forthcoming policy speech we shall promise to increase the number to about 10,000. We have promised also to extend scholarships to other levels of education - to teacher training, higher technical education and perhaps to new forms of tertiary education. No doubt the Commonwealth Government will say that it is instituting an inquiry into this aspect before extending the scope of scholarships, but on the Government’s present performance none of this will happen even by 1965, provided, of course, that the present Government is returned to office. It will take that long before the Government gets into action. I cannot see any reason why some interim action cannot be taken while the inquiry is in progress. It is obviously necessary for scholarships to be provided for students undergoing higher technical education. We could have given 2,000 Commonwealth scholarships to teachers’ college students who missed out on teachers’ college scholarships from the State governments and we would have been doing some good for our country. There have been complaints, which I believe to be justified, about the inadequacy of the living allowance. The means test applied in this case is altogether too severe. One of the first things that a new Labour Government will do will be to ease the means test.
I appreciate what has been done. I acknowledge that it has been worthwhile but it is nowhere near enough. Above all, my greatest misgiving is that what has been done is not part of a broad national plan of education.
– I should like first to express my warm appreciation of the statesmanship of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who I believe has been the inspiration behind the remarkable development that has taken place in university education in the past few years. I do not make that statement because we are on the eve of an election. I have paid this tribute to him previously because I know from my own experience that it is well deserved.
In discussing this measure I emphasize that by the appointment of the Murray committee, with a view to assisting universities, we took the first step in taking university education out of the realm of political patronage and placing* it where it should be - on a non-political level. Perhaps we differ on the details of how this matter should be approached, how far we should go and whether the funds which have been allocated are sufficient, but the fact remains that to-day there is in existence a universities commission which deals with the needs of universities and reconciles those needs with the funds which can be made available. More than that, the commission recommends the funds which it believes should be made available in succeeding trienniums. That is a most important aspect. When introducing this measure the Prime Minister said that the Government accepted the commission’s recommendations and, in co-operation with the States, would provide the necessary funds. The provisions of this bill are most interesting. If my memory serves me correctly, before the Murray committee was set up we were allocating £2,700,000 to universities. The Murray committee reported that although it was not able to make a complete and exhaustive investigation in the limited time which had been allotted to it, it recommended that about £17,000,000 be allocated to universities. The difference between the position before the Murray committee submitted its report and the present position is nothing short of extraordinary. The Commonwealth Government is pledging itself to find £60,000,000 in the next triennium. This will be matched by £90,000,000, of which £70,000,000 will come from the States and £20,000,000 from fees and other charges.
In total £150,000,000 will bc devoted to universities. That is extraordinary. The point that I made a moment ago, that the universities should not depend upon political patronage but should be regarded by both Commonwealth and State Governments on a non-political level, is of the utmost importance. 1 took particular note of the remarks of my colleague, the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes), concerning the value of provincial or country universities. I agree entirely with his remarks. I am delighted to find in this measure that a substantial amount will be provided for the development of that fine university college in the northern part of Queensland which I visited recently, the Townsville University College. I am sure that in that city of 50,000 or 60,000 people which has » magnificent hinterland a university will be developed which will maintain the basic courses both cultural and scientific, and will adapt itself supremely to what is required in that tropical part of our continent.
Then, with a great deal of satisfaction, 1 find the fulfilment of a prophecy which I made as long ago as 1928 when the sole higher educational institution in Newcastle was an old church school which had been handed over or sold to the department. That school catered for both boys and girls to high school standard. I believed that there should bc, and I forecast that there would bc a university in Newcastle, a city which undoubtedly would become the Manchester of Australia. In the schedule to the bill I find a specific provision of £500,000 for the development of a university in Newcastle. lt may bc said that I was a long time in office in the New South Wales Government and did not do anything to bring my dream to reality. It is a matter of record that I did a great deal in establishing the new technical college at Newcastle and the first university college, which was the nucleus of the new establishment In saying that, I am not attempting to deprecate the extremely fine work which has been done by the New South Wales Government, particularly in the term of the present Premier, Mr. Heffron, who for so long was the State Minister for Education.
I would like to urge that we try to look beyond the city gates and concentrate on establishing provincial universities. They could begin in a small way as many of the fine universities of Great Britain did in past years. This is a matter of prime importance in a country in which the people lend to herd in a few capital cities. The country university is able, by its very nature, to build up a corporate spirit of understanding and leadership, as has been done in the University of New England. Such leadership is greatly needed in the rural parts of the country. We have extended this principle to a great extent in New South Wales, and 1 think our sister State beyond our southern border missed a great opportunity in not establishing university colleges in the larger centres along the Murray valley. 1 am delighted to see that the financial provision for the University of New England for the next triennium, Commonwealth and State, together with the local contribution of the university itself, will be of the order of £7,000,000. 1 echo the remarks of the pro-vice-chancellor, who said, in the absence of the vice-chancellor owing to illness, that this is a major break-through for the university, which has been hampered in the past because of certain handicaps arising from rapid growth and inability to cope with that growth, particularly because of the loss of a very large building by fire at a critical stage. He said that (his provision will enable the university to plan ahead successfully and to use to the best advantage the money available. He believes that the university will be able to establish itself on a very sound fooling at last.
A point that (ends to be overlooked in our discussion of this measure is that the Commonwealth’s backing lo the extent of £60,000,000 of a plan for the next three years, so assisting to make up a total of £150,000,000, will allow the States to plan most effectively and least wastefullly. They will be able to carry out an orderly programme which they have already discussed with the Australian Universities Commission. lt is very desirable in any enterprise to bc able to plan ahead. If you do not know from one year to the next what you will have in the way of finance it is most difficult for you to plan on an efficient and economical basis. Much of your work is temporary. You do things that you eventually have to change. The provision of these very large amounts will enable all our universities, including the new ones, to avoid the difficulties associated with uncertainly of finance.
There is another point I would like to bring to the attention of the House. In this connexion a provincial university is most valuable. At the University of New England we have been able fo develop, largely through the assistance of the State, an extraordinarily fine and comprehensive system of adult education. I am not referring to extramural courses or, as they are more commonly known, external courses. I am referring to the kind of education provided at the university by running schools, usually for short periods, at times such as the long vacation, when about 1,000 people come to the university for these tenday or seven-day schools. The members of the university staff go out to the major centres in the district, conducting schools on local government, schools on banking, schools on the raising of cattle and sheep and so on, bringing the scientists into immediate contact with the mcn who can make practical use of their scientific knowledge and from whom the scientists themselves may learn something in the practical field. This is one of the most valuable uses to which a university can be put. It is extremely difficult for a university in a capital city, but it can bc done most effectively in the country, where there are fewer distractions and not as many adventitious aids to wasting time or opportunities for leisure or whatever you like to call them. We have been able, under the leadership of our vice chancellor, to develop an extraordinarily fine system.
It is true that we have a system of external courses. With about 3,000 students enrolled at the university we have about 2,000 more taking external courses. The people who have enrolled for these courses arc mainly mature individuals, determined to make a success of their courses of study. Although they lack the continuous association with the university which is of great value, we adopt the practice of having them come to the university for certain periods during vacations so that they can meet the professors and appreciate the corporate spirit of the university. They gain great benefit from this personal contact. To people who criticize the possible value of this work let mc say that last year the most brilliant student in those external courses was the top student in the State in such courses. He finished in front of students of the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales.
I mention all these things because I feel more and more attention should be given to the development of country or provincial universities. There is only one other point I would like to make. I have no wish to go over what has already been traversed so well by honorable members on both sides. I have seen too many good bills lost because of attempts to talk out time. As an cxMinister I can say I have had some bitter experiences of such occurrences, so 1 do not wish to take up any more time than is necessary. I believe that the university has a tremendous part to play in the life of the nation along lines which are not, strictly speaking, ordinarily accepted as those which should be followed by university work. For instance, the constant alterations of emphasis in defence matters, from the use of man-power to the use of the later scientific developments, including electronic equipment and radar, call for a different type of training so that people who have had that training, in an emergency, may be swung into the development of our defences, without which we cannot hope to survive in this world.
Another point relates to the development of Australia. I speak from my knowledge of the experiences of the University of Ne«r England, which is in a country city of 14,000 people. The professors who are engaged in work on rural science and agricultural economics, through various agencies - sometimes through their own research work and sometimes through their contact with various groups that they have inspired, such as rural development organizations - arc making a major contribution to stirring intellectual and mental activity in an effort to achieve greater and greater production. One of our brilliant research workers on poultry has discovered that uraemia, a devastating disease in poultry, can be traced back to a virus. He has been able to locate that virus. It is hoped that poultry farmers not only in the New England area but throughout Australia will benefit from his discovery.
Because of the wide range of university training and research, there is so much to talk about that one could go on talking for hours. But I am making a case for the real value of a provincial university which maintains the traditional belief that scholarship in arts is very important, but at the same time recognizes the place of science and believes that people who study science should have a deep and practical association with arts subjects without necessarily involving themselves in the higher classwork which an undergraduate who undertakes an arts course must do.
I have emphasized those facts in order to demonstrate my belief that the moneys provided by the Commonwealth, which are supplemented by the States and the various gifts that come from organizations such as the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and some of the great private- firms, are not wasted when they are given to a country university as they are under these bills. Once you set up a new institution you build around it loyalties and people who will take an interest in it, who will put their money into it and who will give cheerfully to help it expand, because they find that it can help them in their various community activities. Such help is not always forthcoming for universities in the cities. They receive great gifts and endowments. I know that perfectly well. But we do not lose when we take universities to the country. I agree with the words of a medical doctor who said, “You can never have enough money for the purposes of medicine, research and study “. At the same time I wish to make it quite clear that we can never have enough money for the purposes of education generally. But what we can have is a substantial, well-planned and wellthoughtout means of advancing university education in Australia for the great benefit of Australia. I have much pleasure in supporting these bills.
.- First, I should like to express my appreciation for the opportunity to follow the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) in this debate. On many previous occasions I have preceded him, followed him or taken part in debates on various aspects of education in which he also has taken part. I express that appreciation because, as we all know, the honorable member will not be standing at the coming election. This debate gives me an opportunity to congratulate him on his efforts for education in New South Wales when he was Minister for Education in that State and his efforts for education in his own territory of New England over a long period of time.
I join with other members of the Australian Labour Party in supporting these bills which give effect to the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission by the provision of £60,000,000 for university education over a period of three years. We support this provision. Of course, wc would support the provision of any amount of money for education - whether it was £1,000,000 or £10,000,000. The Opposition would support the provision of any increased funds for university education in Australia under the present circumstances.
We give this provision our approval; but at the same time we want to point out that honorable members on the Government side of the chamber do nothing more than approve everything that is done and everything that is decided in relation to university education. Nowhere do we find coming from the Government side of the chamber any indication of a feeling of urgency or any evidence of some dissatisfaction with the present situation. We hear nothing but expressions of approval, gratitude and admiration for the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and other people who are involved in this matter. That is not good enough in Australia to-day. More than that is needed. The Australian people have the right to expect from their Government and its supporters something more than expressions of thanks, appreciation and admiration for the people associated with the developments that have taken place in university education - significant as they are. The Opposition says that more must be done and that more will be done.
Wc desire to emphasize the weaknesses and deficiencies of the present position and the needs of the future rather than to echo the expressions of approval that have come from the other side of the chamber. The Australian Universities Commission, in its second report, indicates the width and depth of the task that it faces. On an introductory page it quotes the following extract from its terms of reference: -
The Commission shall perform its functions with a_ view to promoting the balanced development of universities so that their resources can be used to the greatest possible advantage of Australia.
The task is not a mere matter of considering what goes on inside,, university grounds or university buildings. It is part of something that is of vital importance to Australia as a whole. It can be considered adequately only if it is considered as part of the wise and comparative use of the resources of this country. We cannot properly consider education within the narrow or limited view that so often is taken in respect of it. I believe, after having read this and other reports of the Universities Commission, that the commission finds itself immersed in that view. The commission has undertaken a very difficult and complex task. I think that the task is so big and so difficult that the commission has been forced into a position where it is obsessed by the trees and has not adequately seen the wood. It docs not take the wide, comprehensive and comparative view that I think is necessary if the problems of university education are to be solved.
On ordinary standards of comparison, what has been done over the last ten years represents a striking improvement, but we will not meet the needs of the future if only that rate of improvement is maintained for the next ten years. A dramatic and quantitative change in the situation is needed. Those who can see clearly and have enough confidence and courage to express their view say that we have not yet experienced a real crisis in education. The crisis is still to come. It is sufficiently apparent from the evidence that unless something better is done in the next five to ten years a serious crisis will occur in Australian universities. Within the narrower view that the Universities Commission takes, it finds considerable difficulty. Its report states -
The shortages of university staff which at present are worldwide are likely to continue to create greater difficulties for Australian universities.
Even on the best result we can obtain in the next few years, staff shortages will create great difficulties for the universities. Let me remind the House that the Robbins committee in England, whose report is just being implemented, has taken, a much more revolutionary and dramatic view of the situation than does the Australian Universities Commission. It has recommended the doubling of the British university population in a period of just over five years. Where will we get the necessary university staff in the coming five or six years if this is to happen in England? Will we bc able to get any staff from England? Will not university salaries rise in England, so that university staff will be drawn away from Australia?
I believe that the authorities in Australia are living still in a paradise of isolation in more respects than one. For them it is a paradise. Their own salaries have risen in a way that is probably fairly satisfactory to them. Their own task has been circumscribed by the circumstances of to-day and to-morrow. They live in a world which is very self-satisfied. But that is not the kind of world we will face in the next five or tcn years. The attitude of the Government is to express gratitude and approval for the great advances of the past. Let us give credit for what has been done, but it is not enough to look at university education within the context of the narrow view taken by the new Commonwealth department - the Australian Universities Commission. This body does not express any real independence; it has become a Commonwealth Government department, serving the Government rather than the universities of Australia.
Let us look at some of the indications. 1 do not think that any one can say that university education to-day, relative to ten or fifteen years ago, is more accessible or easier to obtain for young Australians. I am sure that some honorable members opposite feel that university education should not be easier to obtain. I think they rather fancy that if people have to struggle for education, they will be better people. It seems to mc that they support a system which allows only people with money to provide an education for their children. I think that is what they mean when they talk about struggling for an education. I remind the House that at the present time only about 20 per cent, of Australians in the 15-19 years age group are in educational institutions of one kind or another. In the 20-24 years age group, only 1.9 per cent, arc in educational institutions.: That is .not enough. A far greater percentage of Australians could successfully undergo tertiary education if the chance were given. Those who have looked at the position fairly closely support this view.
I was very impressed by a recent report from Monash University, prepared under the supervision of Professor Cochrane, which indicated that the present methods of selection by examination do not appear to give any better chance of selecting the best qualified students than if the selection were made according to colour of eyes or colour of hair. In other words, the fancy we have that the present system of competitive examinations necessarily produces the people best qualified to undergo university education has very little foundation in fact. If we provide wider opportunities, a far higher proportion than 20 per cent, of our young people will be able successfully to undergo university education.
I would like to remind the House of my own experience. I left school at the age of fifteen years. It did not occur to me until fifteen years later that I could do a university course. It came as quite a surprise, if not as a shock, one or two years later when I found I could get honours in a university. I felt that, in my position in society, the opportunity was not available to me. When I found that it was, I was very surprised indeed. I know that hundreds of thousands of young people in Australia have the same attitude to university education. They have been brought up in families where the fathers are employed as truck drivers or are in similar occupations? It does not occur to them that they are the sort of people who, if they had the opportunity, could make a better job of university courses than the sons of solicitors, doctors or members of Parliament. This attitude still underlies the Australian situation.
That other countries have succeeded in getting away from this attitude is shown by reference to the proportions of the relative age groups in other countries which are undergoing education, in comparison with Australia’s 20 per cent. The following figures show the proportions of those aged between fifteen years and nineteen years who are undergoing education; United States of America, 66.2 per cent.; Iceland,, 57.9 per cent.; the Soviet Union, 48.6 per cent.; Canada, 45.9 per cent.; Norway, 35.7 per cent.; the Netherlands, 32.8 per cent.; Sweden, 32.3 per cent.; Belgium, 31.5 per cent.; and France, 30.8 per cent. Each of those countries has over 30 per cent, of the 15-19 years age group undergoing education, but Australia has only about 20 per cent. There is no room for complacency about this; there is no room for an attitude of simply doing nothing more than expressing gratitude for what the great old men who are leaving us have done in the past. We have to think now in terms of what the great young men who have never had the opportunities and who did not think they were capable of taking advantage of the opportunities that were offering - and that is the tragic part about it - can do in the future.
When we look at the Australian Universities Commission, within the narrow context of the departmental viewpoint that it is fast acquiring, we see a number of specific things that leave us feeling very uncomfortable. On page 21 of its report, the commission states that the proportion of students who actually get into universities and who graduate in the minimum time remains low. There must be some reason for this. I submit that the reason is to be found not with the students themselves but with the system of university education of which they are a part. But the commission is not able to give us any information about this. It suggests that the low proportion of those who graduate in the minimum time is due to the inadequacy and immaturity of some students. It is not enough just to leave it at that. There is much more involved in this. For instance, has there been any systematic research into the problem? Who is concerned with this matter? Who has the money to carry out the systematic research even if that course is decided upon? Again, what about the standard of teaching? What about teaching aids? What about tutorial assistance? It would appear that all these are not considered to be relevant at all.
Then there is the problem of the failure rate. Earlier this year, the honorable member for Barton asked the Prime Minister for information relating to the failure rate in each faculty for each of the last five years. He received an answer on 10th August, 1963, but it was no different from what it would have been had it been given in
J 933, because we know no more about the problem now than we did 30 years ago. In his answer, the Prime Minister said -
On inquiry, 1 find that it is not possible to supply any data on failure rates, but the attached table will probably give you the information you arc seeking on quota restrictions.
We know something about quota restrictions. Information about that was fairly hard to get two years ago. But we know nothing about the reason for the apparently high failure rate. I suggest that we need something more than a mere repetition of the orthodox, stereotype programme, efficient though it may be in ils way, and carefully prepared though it may be after paying due attention to the proper control of resources and money. What we need is a viewpoint with imagination, a viewpoint that can see beyond those limits. Now, more than ever, we need something along the lines of what the Murray commission did in 19SS and 1956 in connexion with universities as a whole. We need to look at the measurement of Australia’s university educational effort. Admittedly it has grown, and, as I have said, all due credit must go to those who have been associated with that growth, but we want to bc sure of just what our university educational effort is and we want to know more about what it should be.
It is disquieting, too, to find that although the proportion of gross national product expended on university education has doubled from about 1) per cent, to about 3 per cent, in the last ten or twelve years the number of students actually enrolled at our universities has risen by only about 25 per cent, or 50 per cent. Although, as I have said, this is significant when judged on Australian standards, those who have analysed the position have reached rather unfavorable conclusions. For instance, Professor Karmel has arrived at this conclusion with relation to our educational effort -
He was referring to the weaknesses disclosed by his figures - give a clear indication that there has been a substantial rise in the relative importance of education in the community, and (hat this process is currently continuing.
I make no attempt to deny that, but I do emphasize that the progress we have made will be of no benefit to us if it is continued for the next five or ten years at the sams rate as in the past. Similarly, it must be appreciated that Australia is not living in an isolated world. She is living in a world in which she is in intense competition in various ways with other countries.
Let me now give a comparison of Australia’s university education effort with that of other countries. Every one knows by now from the figures published by Professor Karmel the position which Australia occupies in comparison with other countries. Actually, Australia is about fifteenth or sixteenth on the list. It comes after the United States of America, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Italy, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and Switzerland. All those countries spend a greater proportion of their gross national product on education than does Australia. In another conclusion summarized by Professor Karmel - I do not say that it is his finding alone, because many others have examined Australia’s educational potential - be says -
Nevertheless, even if we take account of all these qualifications-
He has compared the educational structure of Australia with that of other countries - the fact remains that, in comparison wilh the experience of the more advanced areas listed in Table 6- to which I have just referred -
Australia spends a relatively low proportion of gross national product on education.
This comparison becomes even more unfavourable to Australia when it is realised that, as far as current expenditure is concerned, all countries which rank above Australia, except four, had smaller proportions of their populations of school and college age; and that, as far as total expenditure is concerned, of all the countries which rank above Australia only one had a larger proportion of population of school and college age and a higher rate of population growth.
In other words, most of the countries that rank above Australia are growing less rapidly, and have a smaller proportion of their population of school age but yet are spending a higher proportion of their resources on education. How can we approve this? How can we afford to look at this situation with complacency?
How can we afford to do nothing but express gratitude to those who, in the past, have been so generous to us?
Professor Karmel looked also at the actual number of students enrolled for tertiary education at the various levels. He said -
The figures which I have quoted in the previous table show that Australia’s expenditure on education is low compared with countries of comparable wealth.
I could go on quoting his conclusions to show that Australia compares badly with other countries of comparable wealth; and our difficulties will increase.
I come now to my final point and what I am about to say should be accepted without dispute by all who are interested in education. If we cannot do enough in the next five years, can we afford to do more than we are doing? Professor Karmel puts it this way -
Can we afford to divert resources to education from other uses? I believe that there is little doubt that we can.
Any one who has a sense of responsibility about the future of Australia must agree that we can afford to divert resources to education from many other things. It will not be enough for Government supporters to say - possibly the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) who is to follow me, will say it - that defence or something else is of greater importance than education. It is all very well for speakers on the other side of the House to go on asking for more money for education. But what about these other things? If we are to accept the existing priorities for defence and so forth and say that more should be spent on all those other matters, does that limit spending on education? Is that the final and only answer that is available? No. If we are to look at the problem of getting more money for education and to see it as part of the problem of changing the allocation of resources, or, as Professor Karmel puts it, diverting resources to education, the problem is one of taxation.
By far the greater proportion of the money that is spent on education in Australia is obtained or significantly influenced by taxation. It is significantly influenced in two ways. First, it is influenced by the deductions from income that taxpayers are allowed for education expenses. The limit has recently been raised by the Government from £100 to £150 per child. This will favour those with enough money to spend on education, and the effect of the increase is something that we have to examine.
I have looked briefly at figures in relation to deductions. In the income year 1956-57, expenditure on education by private individuals to a total of £45,400,000 was allowed to be deducted. That represented 48 per cent, of the public expenditure on education in that income year. In 1957-58, the deductions allowed to taxpayers for education expenses totalled £49,700,000. That was still near enough to 48 per cent, of the public expenditure on education, which, in that income year, totalled £103,000,000. In the income year 1959-60, a total of £68,200,000 of expenditure by taxpayers on education was allowed as deductions. This represented 52 per cent, of the public expenditure on education, which was £131,000,000. So this Government has been carefully following a policy of raising the proportion of private expenditure on education compared to public expenditure. I think that, after the recent increase in the limit of allowable deductions in respect of education expenditure on each child, the proportion of private expenditure will rise very nearly to 60 per cent, of public expenditure.
– And a very select group will get the benefit.
– A very select group will benefit from this. This has been one of the shrewd devices of income re-allocation that the Government has been able to adopt effectively without the people noticing it very much over the last ten years or so.
Leaving aside the question of tax deductions, which reduce the amount of public revenue that the Government has for university education and for every other sort of education, can Australia afford to pay a greater proportion of its total national income in taxation? I submit that it can, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Professor Karmel has set out in his Buntine Oration a table of taxation as a proportion of the gross national product. Australia appears fourth from the bottom in the list of eighteen countries in that table, which appears at page 22 of the printed record of the oration, and which is as follows: -
Unless members of Parliament in this country are prepared to accept some of the electoral unpopularity that may result from saying that a greater proportion of our resources must be diverted to education by increasing - not by a great amount - the proportion of our gross national product taken in taxation, they will not be discharging their responsibilities for either education or the welfare of the country generally. I challenge not only honorable members on the Government side but also honorable members on my own side of the chamber to face up to this question. We shall not discharge our responsibilities towards the universities and education, or the future of Australia, unless we are prepared to tell the Australian people that it is in their long-term interests to spend more money on education and to be prepared to pay the taxation that will be necessary if that is to be done.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), in the closing stages of his speech, discussed tax deductions for education expenditure and the part that they play in private expenditure on education in Australia. I think that he omitted one or two points. In the first place, private expenditure allowable as deductions represents only a small part of private expenditure on education. One of the Very pertinent reasons for allowing these deductions is to meet the needs of people who live in remote rural areas and who, very often, of necessity send their children to some kind of boarding school or hostel in large country towns, where the children board either during the week or full-time. This is the only way in which many people in remote places can provide higher education for their families. This is a very pertinent point, and the allowable deductions are of very great assistance in helping these people to meet the costs of educating their children which, inevitably, are much greater than education costs in the cities. The alternative to allowing deductions for this sort of expenditure may well be to provide greatly extended bus services, but these could involve children travelling on buses for up to three hours or even longer in one day and, even then, would not meet the needs of a great number of people who live in the remoter areas of Australia.
The honorable member for Yarra was much less generous in the speech that he has just made than he was some years ago. I hope that we shall not witness a continuing phenomenon of the honorable member becoming less generous the longer he stays in this House. I should like to remind the House of what were almost his opening remarks when, in 1957, he discussed the report of the Murray committee, which had just been presented to the Parliament. The honorable member said -
I think it is a very good thing that this is a great day in the political life of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and that he does see in the action that has been taken by the Government something of which to bc proud.
That statement is very difficult to reconcile with his very severe criticism of what has been done since. The financial recommendations of the Murray committee that were accepted were indeed generous, as the honorable member implied. The Leader of the Opposition of that day said that they were magnificent. The two main recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission, covering two trienniums, which have been before this House, have been much more generous than were the original recommendations made by the Murray committee. So how can the honorable member for Yarra say that one recommendation was generous and the other was not?
The honorable member for Yarra said that there is no evidence of urgency in the attitude of honorable members on this side of the House towards education. I remind him and the House that knowledge of the urgency, or impending urgency, of measures to assist tertiary education led this Government, in 1951, to make the first grants made by the Commonwealth for universities. Knowledge of urgency led to the appointment of the Murray committee and the presentation to the Parliament of the Murray report. Knowledge of urgency and of the importance of tertiary education led to the establishment as a permanent body of the Australian Universities Commission. This Government’s record of achievement, even though the honorable member for Yarra does as much as he possibly can to belittle it, will stand proudly. The universities and those acquainted with their needs know that what this Government has done for the universities has been of inestimable benefit to them.
The honorable member referred to the Robbins committee. If I heard him correctly, he said that the Robbins committee claimed that the number of universities in the United Kingdom should be doubled. I would not be at all surprised if such a reference were contained in the report of this committee, because I believe in many ways the United Kingdom system has fallen behind the expanding requirements of that country. The United Kingdom Government in many ways has been slower to tackle this problem than has the Australian Government.
It should not be forgotten that the committee on tertiary education in Australia, which may report later this year or very early next year, will be doing for Australian universities very much the same kind of job as the Robbins committee did for the United Kingdom universities. This will be a report of fundamental importance and will probably affect the pattern and shape of university development for the next twenty or thirty years. The committee may well recommend that there should be some change from what may be called the more traditional British pattern to an acceptance of the liberal arts colleges or junior colleges which are prevalent in the United States. However, we will know of the recommendations when the report comes down, and we will not have to wait very long before it is made available.
The honorable member referred to the report of the Australian Universities Commission. He mentioned the likely shortage of academic staff in the coming years. He did not refer to those sections of the report which pointed out that the coming triennium will be the most difficult period that has faced the universities, but that thereafter the position will be easier. It will be easier for two reasons; first, because the rate of increase of university enrolments is likely to slacken off to some degree and, secondly, because the high number of enrolments we have had in the last few years and will continue to have in the next few years will mean that the number of graduates of universities who will be available to join university staffs will inevitably increase. The honorable member ignored those sections in the report which suggest that it may be very good if more unconventional means could be used to bridge the gap in the availability of academic staff, by persuading people with suitable qualifications to accept part-time responsibility for academic training.
I do not want to waste too much time in relating my remarks to the speech of the honorable member for Yarra. However, I must say that some of the statistics he used would seem to stand very strangely beside the statistics that are available in the report of the Australian Universities Commission. If I heard him correctly, he said that 1.9 per cent, of the people in the 18 to 24 age group are experiencing some kind of higher education. This figure would not seem to stand beside the figure in the commission’s report, which shows that 7.5 per cent, of the people in the 17 to 22 age group are at present experiencing higher education. I know that the two age groups are not strictly compatible. The honorable member for Yarra referred to the 18 to 24 age group and the commission referred to the 17 to 22 age group, but I do not believe that there would be the difference in the percentages of those receiving higher education that the honorable member would have us believe.
The honorable member for Yarra also referred to that section of the commission’s report at page 20 in which reference is made to the small percentage of students who graduate in the minimum time. If the honorable member had referred to the remainder of this section so that a balanced view could be had, we could then have accepted what he said. I agree with him that a relatively small number of students graduate in the minimum time, but it is most unfair of the honorable gentleman to refer to this point without also referring to the very marked improvement that has been effected over the last decade. Of all those who entered universities in 1951, 57 per cent, ultimately graduated. Of all those who entered universities in 1956, only five years later, 70 per cent, graduated. This is a big improvement, and I understand that later figures show that the trend is continuing. Of all those who entered universities in 1951, only 34 per cent, graduated in the minimum time, but of all those who entered universities in 1956, 41.1 per cent, graduated in the minimum time. This shows that the work of the commission and the co-operation between the commission and the various universities is having some result, and it is uncharitable, unfair and ungenerous of the homorable member to refer only to the unfavorable part of the report.
Again, in referring to Professor Karmel, the honorable member for Yarra said that the finances available for education had doubled in the last ten or twelve years but that enrolments had increased by only 25 per cent, or 50 per cent. This struck me as rather strange, because there would seem to be more than a little difference between 25 per cent, and 50 per cent. If we look at the facts, we find that in 1950, the year after this Government came into office, 23,000 people were enrolled in universities, and this was only a little greater than the number enrolled in 1946. In 1963, this year, 69,000 people are enrolled in universities. This is not 25 per cent, more or 50 per cent, more; it is three times as many. The honorable gentleman should be a little more careful of his facts than he is.
I said that there has never been any evidence of complacency on the part of this Government or its supporters on the question of tertiary education. The first grants to the universities were made by this Government in 1951, and they were the first grants ever made by a Commonwealth, government to the universities. By the end of this year, these grants will have totalled more than £86,000,000. The £60,000,000 that will be made available by the Commonwealth in the coming triennium will be £16,000,000 more than the amount made available in the previous triennium. I think that the former Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, would now repeat what he said in 1957 when referring to the report of the Murray committee. He said then that the report was generous and a magnificent contribution to the work of the universities. If he referred to that report in those terms, he could not fail in all honesty to use the same words in any reference he made to this report or to the previous report.
Some mention has been made of quotas. I agree that people who have the academic qualifications required of those who seek to attend a university should be able to find a place in a university and should be able to study the faculty of their choice. However, honorable members opposite have referred to quotas without mentioning the explanations that were given in the report of the Australian Universities Commission. It has been pointed out that Tasmania would be very willing to accept many more students in some faculties than have applied to be admitted. The commission was, I think, to some degree critical of Victoria and New South Wales where there are two or more universities in the capital cities. It pointed to a lack of co-operation between the universities and said that, if statistics of refusals had been available early in the academic year, many more people would have been accepted in a faculty of their choice than had been accepted.
It is worth noting also that some examination has been made of the reasons for the quotas and the reasons why people sometimes refuse to continue their education or to accept a place in a university. An examination of this matter has been made as it affects the medical school at the University of Melbourne. It is pointed out that very often intending students, after they lodge their original applications, change their minds as to the courses they wish to study. It is pointed out that many students are perhaps unable to undertake a medical course because they have failed to gain a Commonwealth scholarship and consequently they change their intentions. Many students return to school for a second matriculation year. They do this for a variety of reasons, perhaps even to endeavour to gain a scholarship. Some students change their domicile from one State to another. They are students who may be rejected but who would not want a place at the university in any case. Other students, after lodging their applications, go abroad.
It is perhaps more interesting to look at the reasons why applicants declined offers of places in a university in a more general sense. An examination of this matter has been made at the University of Sydney this year. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) implied quite plainly and quite unfairly that students refuse to accept places in universities purely and simply for financial reasons. He said that they cannot bear the costs involved. That statement may be correct in a small percentage of cases. Many reasons are given why students decline to accept a place in a university. Many students prefer shorter courses. Many accept an earlier offer. In other words, they apply for two courses and accept one and refuse the other. Some students have a fear of quotas. Some students arc too young to proceed to a university. Some accept a better offer of a cadetship or a scholarship at another university, perhaps even in another State. Quite a number of students withdraw their applications for health reasons. Some students cannot enter the faculty of their choice and so choose not to go to university at all. Some students seek to enter a smaller university. Some students do not want to go to a particular university because of its location, even though a place may be available there. There may be accommodation problems. Some students indicate an intention to try to enrol in future years. Of 397 students who gave their opinions in relation to this matter, nineteen said that they could not go to university because of financial strain and eight said they could not go or did not want to accept the faculty offered because they were dissatisfied with their fees. That is a total of 27 out of 397, which would hardly conform with the thesis of the honorable member for Wills that these people do not accept a place at a university .for financial reasons only.
Another matter will have an impact on those who cannot go to a university for finanical reasons. I am certain that the announcement by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that Commonwealth scholarships will be increased from 4,000 to 5,000 a year will be greatly welcomed by the additional students who will benefit from the increase. That announcement should be applauded by all honorable members.
A careful reading of the report of the Universities Commission will indicate that Australia to-day is making better use of the available talent among people who could attend a university than was the case ten or twelve years ago. I do not say that we are yet making the best use of the available talent, but this is something that you cannot change overnight. You cannot suddenly increase the percentage of people attending a university after secondary education because if you tried to increase the percentage dramatically or rapidly you probably would not be able to get sufficient applicants to accept the posts offered. Of the students who entered secondary schools in 1951, one in every five boys took the final year and one in every nine girls took the final year. But of the students who entered secondary schools in 1957, one in every four boys took the final year and one in every six girls took the final year. This trend is continuing and is evident in the number of students seeking to attend universities. Between 1946 and 1959 the percentage of students attending universities in the 17 to 22 years age group increased from 2.3 per cent, to 5.8 per cent. The percentage more than doubled in a period of about fourteen years. But in the last three years the proportion has increased from 6.5 per cent, to 7.4 per cent, and it is estimated that the proportion of people in the 17 to 22 years age group attending universities will increase for several years to come. This certainty indicates that we are supplying the needs of all people who wish to enrol at universities. It indicates that the challenge that has been evident in the last decade and which is still evident has been met. The measures that are being debated now indicate that the problems that may arise in the future will be met just as the problems that arose in the past were met.
The triennium which is concluding, and the one which’ is to follow, will be,’ in the words of the commission’s report, most difficult. One reason for the difficulty is the fact that the so-called population bulge will be most evident in those two trienniums Another reason is that the percentage of students who wish to go on to a university is increasing and that the increase will be more rapid in this and the next triennium than it has been in earlier tri.enniums. The commission points out that if the universities can, without lowering their standards, cater for the needs of the increasing numbers who will seek to enter universities, the job will have been well done.
Earlier in the debate the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) referred to the staff-student ratio. He said that there has been a remarkable development in this regard in Australia and that our staffstudent ratio is now approximately equal to that of the United Kingdom. I think the United Kingdom is famous for the large numbers of staff compared with students enrolled at universities. In the United Kingdom there are 10.4 students for every academic person on the teaching staff. In Australia the ratio is 10.5. What is even more remarkable is the fact that in some faculties the ratio is even better in Australia than it is in the United Kingdom. This is particularly true of science and engineering, and is something of which our universities may be proud.
I hope that all honorable members will welcome the commission’s recommendation, and the Government’s acceptance of it, that a special £5,000,000 fund should be established for the coming triennium to subsidize on a £l-for-£l basis research in universities. This is a worthwhile objective. I was very pleased to hear the prime Minister announce that shortly the Commonwealth would review its responsibilities as far as research is concerned. The Commonwealth should play a greater part in research and I am pleased to know that the Government has this in mind.
I would again remind honorable members opposite that the former Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, referred to the original Murray report as generous and magnificent. If he used those terms in relation to the original Murray report, in which the financial recommendations were much more modest than those to which effect is given in this measure, he would certainly use similar terms in referring to the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission which are now before the House. I only regret that some honorable members on the opposite side of this Parliament cannot be as generous and realistic in this matter as was their former leader.
.- In rising to speak to these bills which make provision for the granting of financial assistance to the States in connexion with universities, one will have the opportunity of summarizing the report of the Australian Universities Commission. Whilst one can feel satisfied to some degree with the £60,000,000 contribution by the Federal Government, one has to ask what the position of the States will be. Will they be in a position to make their contribution and meet their share of the cost of the capital development involved in the commission’s report and recommendations?
Unless the Government is prepared to ensure that its general grant to the States will be adequate, this report could place an unnecessary burden on the various States, with the result that allocations to other avenues of education - primary, secondary and technical education - would have to be cut in order to allow the recommendations contained in the report to be carried out. I believe that, when the Government is deciding the amount it is prepared to allocate to the States at a later stage, it should ensure that the matters to which I have referred do not happen and that other fields of education are not denuded for lack of an increased allocation.
It is a pity that, while the Government has seen fit to establish commissions to investigate the needs of education- at university level - it does not initiate the same type of inquiry in other fields of education which are just as important as university education. If we are to have enough students for our universities, obviously the basic requirements of primary and secondary education up to the necessary standard must be met. Otherwise, we will continually receive reports from universities to the effect that the number-
– Order! I remind the honorable member that we are discussing the Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill and its associated measure and arc not debating the subject with which the honorable member is dealing.
– I am fully aware of the position. This brings me to the point that the report from time to time calls attention to the number of university students who fail. I am trying to point out to the Government the need not only to subsidize and assist university education but also o help primary and secondary education to a much greater degree than is the case at present. If that is not done, we will continually receive reports about the high and unsatisfactory failure rate at universities.
In discussing these measures, members on the Government side of the House have been quite elated about the number of Commonwealth scholarships which are to bc made available in 1964. 1 have gone to the trouble of taking out some figures which, by way of comparison, show what the increase in the number of scholarships means. The table I have shows that in 1951 new student enrolments in universities numbered 7,601. As 3,000 scholarships were available then, this meant that 40 per cent, of the new students enrolled were entitled to receive Commonwealth scholarships. In 1962, new enrolments numbered 17,631. With 4,000 scholarships available, it meant that 22.5 per cent, of the new students enrolled could receive Commonwealth scholarships.
We have not the total or estimated total number of enrolments for 1964, but 1 have been able to strike a figure of between 2S.000 and 30,000 new students to be enrolled next year. However, the Government is increasing the number of scholarships only from 4,000 to 5,000. This will mean that scholarships will be available to only 16 per cent, or 17 per cent, of the newly enrolled students. That is the real position.
To keep pace with the number of scholarships available in 1951, the Government would have to provide more than double the number of scholarships that will be available in 1964. The Government is not keeping pace with requirements in this most important field of assistance to education. Students must have Commonwealth assistance. The Commonwealth controls the finances of Australia and, therefore should make money available to ensure that the standard of those enrolling at universities is adequate. It must give assistance to the people who need it. Therefore I ask the Government to have a further look at the question and to increase the number of scholarships beyond the number now proposed.
One matter in my electorate which concerns me greatly is the allocation to the Newcastle University College. There is available any amount of proof of the need to develop university education. In my own district, there are nineteen high schools, of which eighteen have furnished the information that among them they have 548 teachers, only 236 of whom have had four years training. This means that 312 of those teachers have had less than four years training, included in this number are 63 mathematics teachers and 55 science teachers. There is not only a need for Commonwealth assistance in providing scholarships for the training of these people, but also a great need to ensure that adequate sums are made available for the development of the universities.
Newcastle University, as a college, has been in existence since 1951, and in that time has occupied a site in conjunction with the Newcastle Technical College. There is no need now to make a case for Newcastle University to be established on its own site. The New South Wales Government has purchased a site at Shortland and the Commonwealth Government has said that the Universities Commission has agreed that the university will bc built there and that the Newcastle University College, or portion of it, will be established on the Shortlands site in the next triennium. But has there been an adequate allocation made to do this job?
I feel that the only comparison I can strike is between Newcastle University and the University of New England. While I am not in any way attacking the amount that has been allocated to the University of New England - I am quite satisfied with it - I am using the comparison to show that Newcastle University has not received an adequate allocation in either this triennium or the previous one. For example, in 1958-59 Newcastle received £400,000 and New England £900,000. In 1961-63 triennium Newcastle received £18,000 and New England £1,340,000. In the 1964-66 triennium Newcastle will receive £1,140,000 and New England £2,270,000. In those three trienniums Newcastle will have received £1,558,000 and New England £4,510,000. Yet when we compare the two districts we realize that from the time of the 1954 census to the time of the 1961 census the population of the Newcastle urban area increased by 15.1 per cent, and that of New Eangland by only 2 per cent. This gives a clear indication of the expansion that is taking place in Newcastle.
The commission’s allocation is completely inadequate. Instead of transferring one-half of the college, as is proposed in the report, from Tighe’s Hill to the Shortland site - the faculties of arts, commerce and science will be transferred and the faculty of engineering will remain at Tighe’s Hill and will function in conjunction with the technical college - the complete university college should be transferred. There is no clear indication or undertaking that at the completion of this triennium the engineering block will be transferred to Shortland. It is not beyond the financial capability of this Government to transfer the complete university college and it is not beyond the structural capability of the Newcastle district to construct the complete university on the new site. The entire university college should be transferred. The necessity to remove it from the technical college has existed for some time and the opportunity should be taken now to do the job.
I do not want to attack the University of New England, and I use the figures I am about to give only as a basis of comparison. I have prepared a table to show the comparative position in relation to on-site enrolments in the two universities. In 1960, there were 800 on-site enrolments, full-time and part-time, at New England, whereas at Newcastle there were 1,104. In 1963, there were 1,090 at New England and 1,240 at Newcastle. It is estimated that in 1964 there will be 1,140 on-site enrolments at New England and 1,755 at Newcastle. In 1965 it is estimated that there will be 1,265 enrolments at New England and 1,905 at Newcastle, while for 1966 it is estimated that there will be 1,365 enrolments at New England and 2,075 at New castle. The increase in on-site enrolments in that period at New England will be 565 students, or a percentage increase of 70.6 per cent., whereas at Newcastle 971 additional students will be enrolled, representing an increase of 88.6 per cent.
There is a clear-cut case for the whole of the allocation necessary to transfer the Newcastle University College from Tighe’s Hill to the Shortland site being made available in this triennium. As I have said, the Commonwealth Government has the funds and the Newcastle district has the structural capacity to build the new university. Instead of doing the job piecemeal, get into it and complete it in one step. It is not possible to develop the Monash institution in one year, because of its size. That job cannot be compared with the development at Newcastle. They are two completely different types of universities.
– The State Government would be happy to get on with the job.
– My understanding is that the State Government was quite happy about the proposal and was prepared to take on the job.
I want to refer now to the question of autonomy. Over the years there has been a considerable amount of agitation in the district for the Newcastle University College to be granted autonomy and to be separated completely from the University of New South Wales. Every one believed that there was an understanding on this and that the date had been fixed. I discussed this question with the State members of Parliament who make up the Labour representation for the Newcastle district. They all advised me - I spoke to one of them as late as to-day to confirm this - that they had discussed this matter recently with the State Minister for Education, who had assured them that autonomy would be granted to the Newcastle University College in 1965 and that legislation to this end would be introduced in 1964. Let me read to honorable members a statement by Professor Baxter which appeared in the “Newcastle Morning Herald” of 11th September, 1963. It is in these terms -
A number of additional professorial chairs would be set up next year as a step towards granting autonomy, he said. “The council quite early in its deliberations determined to regard 1965 as a reasonable and practical date on which an autonomous university might be established,” Professor Baxter said. “ By then the first stage of the building programme at Shortland should be reasonably advanced, and by then the University of N.S.W. hopes to have provided sufficient professional appointments at Newcastle. “ The University of Newcastle would then face the world with adequate academic strength. “ At present the council believes both these objectives will be achieved.”
Professor Baxter stated on 11th September of this year that on-site development would have reached the stage in 1965 to permit the granting of autonomy. The commission recommends the granting of autonomy on 1st January, 1967. To permit the college to prepare for this autonomy without being entirely dependent on its parent university, the commission recommends that recurrent grants of £50,000 and £75,000 be made available in 1965 and 1966 respectively to meet the recurrent costs of planning, to increase the rate of purchases for the college library and perhaps to appoint additional academic staff.
There is the position. The commission recommends the granting of autonomy in 1967; the State Government is prepared to grant it in 1965. In committee I shall propose that the bill be amended to provide for the granting of autonomy in 1965. It is quite clear that the University of New South Wales has planned for 1965. I have read the statement by Professor Baxter, the ViceChancellor of the University of New South Wales, who is in charge of the Newcastle University College, which indicates clearly that he favours 1965. I ask the Government to consider this matter seriously. It has agreed to grants totalling £125,000. I ask the Government, instead of making the grants in 1965 and 1966, to make them in 1964 and 1965. We know that when autonomy is granted many people and industries will become interested in making gifts to the university. They will feel that instead of the money possibly being used by the University of New South Wales it will be used in the Newcastle University.
One important factor is that as now proposed, the Newcastle University College will not become autonomous until after the next triennium has commenced. The following triennium will’-‘be from 1967 to’ 1969, and the college will not become autonomous until 1967. If the Government grants autonomy in 1965, as has been suggested, the council of the new university will be responsible for the preparation and presentation of its own case to the commission for the following triennium. That is important. It is important to be able to present your own case. No one can present your case better than you can. If autonomy is deferred until the end of the next triennium, the University of New South Wales could adopt the old adage of charity beginning at home. It could consider that its own allocation would be affected by the allocation to the autonomous university, and it could be required to decide what it would give to Newcastle. That is why it is important that the Newcastle University College should be able to prepare and present its own case to the commission in relation to development on the Shortland site in the triennium 1967 to 1969.
I wanted to speak for only a short time on this matter. There is one point I would like to deal with concerning the medical school. The Newcastle Hospital Board has prepared an excellent case for the establishment of a medical school in Newcastle. It would take me the full half hour allotted to me in this debate to deal with the excellent case that the board has prepared. It was submitted to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) almost twelve months ago. I hope that after the commission has examined this report and has brought down its report in the very near future, we will see something positive towards a grant for a medical school. There is a first-class hospital and a first-class outpatients establishment. According to the facts presented by the board, all the basic facilities are available and all the groundwork has been prepared for a first-class medical school in Newcastle, at a cost of approximately £1,000,000.
– I welcome this measure and trust that the passage of it will help those responsible for university administration and enable them to plan the development of their institutions effectively for the next three years. In saying that, I would like to separate myself from those who’ have expressed their satisfaction at the measure in much the same way as they might have expressed satisfaction at an increase in the production of iron ore or an increase in the generation of electricity or an expansion of agricultural production. I am one of those who believe that the real test of a university is not the quantity of the students turned out, but rather the quality of them. In the few words I shall address to the House I want to direct attention to what seems to me to be one of the problems facing the universities themselves and the staffs and students of universities because of the new order that has been established by the operations of the Australian Universities Commission and its regular reports and the large amount of governmental finance now being provided for universities.
It is quite natural that when a commission is appointed it is required to report after examining in considerable detail a great array of facts. It is quite natural that a good deal of statistical analysis, examination of student enrolments, the proportion of passes, the ratio of students to teachers, and so on, is carried out. This sort of thing becomes part of the whole apparatus of deciding how much money should be granted to universities. It is also quite natural that, the commission having made that kind of examination and having presented its report, the responsible officers of the Government and the Cabinet itself should also make that kind of examination. What I fear is that in this approach - and it is a necessary and natural approach in a matter of public responsibility - we may set up tendencies to produce uniformity in Australian universities. I think one of the most dreadful things that could happen to university education in Australia is uniformity. I hope that in spite of these tendencies, which are good on the one hand in that they produce additional finance for universities, the universities themselves will still insist on their own individuality and will continue to develop their own differing personalities. I hope that all universities in Australia, both the older and the newer ones, will have and continue to have their own peculiarities.
Earlier in the debate the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), in speaking of the problem of financing universities, mentioned the value of private endowment.
I warmly support what he said on that subject. It seems to me that in addition measure by governments, there should conmeasure by governments, there should continue to be a real claim by universities on the generosity of the public and on the benefactions of the wealthy, and for support by the rich institutions of the country. We should continue to expect that endowments will be made to universities, and to particular faculties within universities, the universities should not become restricted to assistance by means of governmental aid, either Federal or State. If we could obtain more liberal private endowment of universities, either by rich individuals, by great companies or by other institutions, I am sure that the universities would develop in future years with a greater diversity of effort and without being tied down by this tendency towards uniformity.
I feel, also, that there is room in every university for a few people who are not too purposeful about their studies. I think a university gains by having a few people who, to the critical gaze, are apparently idle. There is room for a certain amount of ruminating, of speculation, of search for knowledge without an end in view. I hope that in our statistical examination of numbers of people who obtain degrees, and what kinds of degrees they get and how quickly they get them, we will not submerge completely the individuals who, year after year, in pursuit of knowledge and out of the enthusiasms of their own natures, devote themselves to a lifetime of study without having a firm purpose in view. I am sure that if we allow them their individual peculiarities in university life, the universities themselves will be richer for it.
One nowadays sometimes gets a rather dreadful impression of the life of many undergraduates. They seem poor, earnest fellows pushing wheelbarrows laden with books through a dark tunnel of examinations, under the compulsion to make good. I hope that we will not make all university students too serious. I hope we will not make them all too earnest. The greatest encouragement I get, in contemplating university education these days, is when I have the opportunity, as I frequently do, of being among university students and finding in them a certain liveliness of spirit, indeed sometimes almost a, certain lack of responsibility. It shows that they arc not weighed down too much by their cares.
I express the hope, in conclusion, that those concerned with the administration of universities, the governing bodies, the staffs of universities and the students of universities, will seek to express their own individuality, that they will strongly resist this almost natural tendency towards uniformity that is arising out of our attempts to tackle the problem of financing universities. It is very pleasing to see the considerable financial provision that is being made, and I thoroughly support every item of it. No one with the future of universities at heart could do otherwise.
.- This measure is what I would call a step towards the answer of higher education in Australia. We must always regard it as only a step. It cannot possibly be regarded as the final answer. Whatever government is in office should bear in mind that the problem of higher education in Australia is a continuing one. It should treat it as such from year to year, or on the triennium basis. If this is done we will finally reach the answer. But we must not be indifferent to the vast educational needs of our people. For this reason we on this side of the House welcome the measure before the Parliament as far as it goes. We realize that whatever government takes office after the election - and we believe it will be composed of members from this side of the House - this problem must be continually under attack. More and more money must be spent in attacking the problem.
I agree with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) that it is criminal to waste so much money on defence and on modern weapons of destruction when our people are crying out for education. That shows that we have a completely twisted view of priorities.
– Would you reduce the expenditure on defence?
– I would not reduce the expenditure on defence.
– Then what are you saying?
– I am speaking of the matter in perspective. Every country in the Western World has gone crazy, and so has the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
We should not be spending such a tremendous percentage of our gross national product on sheer defence and destructive weapons of war.
– But you want to spend another £500,000,000, do you not?
– Of course not, but I still oppose this extravagant expenditure on destructive weapons when Australia is crying out for more and more universities and more and more places for students in universities. The expenditure on defence shows the fantastic way in which our order of priorities has gone skew-whiff. The people of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics enjoy hearing of the Western World spending more and more on destructive weapons of war, because that expenditure is keeping our economics constantly depressed. Pakistan and India are spending about 50 or 60 per cent, of their national incomes on defence. What is the world coming to, when our order of priorities is allowed to get away without any comment?
– Why do you direct your criticism only to the Western world? fs not Russia spending anything on arms?
– I criticized Russia. You did not listen to me.
– You did not.
– I criticized the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics-
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Wilmot that the subject of this bill is universities, not defence.
– I know that, Mr. Speaker, but I wanted to get that off my chest at the start.
I want to concentrate on the Tasmanian situation. The University of Tasmania is included in these measures. There is an important addition to the expenditure on higher education. It relates to the establishment of a medical school in Hobart. All Tasmania will be grateful for that. The only criticism that we have is that this should have been done long ago. The history of how the establishment of this medical school came to the stage that it has reached at present is interesting. I will mention it briefly to the House. It started when a select committee of the Tasmanian House of Assembly was appointed on 30th July, 1959, to inquire into and report upon the necessity and feasibility of establishing a medical school at the University of Tasmania. Four months later the committee reported, inter alia -
There is an urgent necessity for the founding of a medical faculty . . . and unanimously recommends that immediate plans be made to bring this scheme into fruition wilh the commencement of the first premedical year in 1964.
The select committee pointed out that by 1970 between 20 and 25 doctors per annum would be needed to offset wastage caused by retirement, illness or death, in order to cope with the increasing population and to maintain an acceptable doctor-population ratio. The committee pointed out that, in addition, the State would require approximately 30 first-year graduates to staff its hospitals.
Interestingly enough, early in 1962, the Australian Universities Commission was invited by the Premier of Tasmania and the vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania to go to that State and study the problems associated with the establishment of a medical school. Members of the commission went to Hobart in March, 1962. They made a complete study of the matter and in their report they made two very pertinent comments which are set out at page 20 of the splendid second report of the commission. They said - 00 The situation as regards non-Tasmanian enrolment into mainland Medical Schools leaves no doubt that Tasmania will experience increasing difficulties in placing its medical students; this is e rapidly deteriorating situation.
The second report of the commission goes on to say -
The Commission supports the establishment of a Medical School in the 1964-66 triennium in the University of Tasmania.
The Government has agreed to launch the medical school by a grant of £600,000. We are grateful for that, but it is a pity that this medical school was not established long ago. The report continues -
The University anticipates an enrolment in the first clinical year of from 40 to SO students, which would require an enrolment of approximately SO in the premedical year. This is likely to be beyond present Tasmania demands but might bc expected to be reached by 1970.
It is hoped that part of the school will be ready in 1965. It will have anatomy, physiology and biochemistry departments by 1965. That is the wish and the hope. The Tasmanian Government will do everything in its power to implement this programme for the establishment of a medical school in Tasmania.
The need for doctors in Australia is a constant one. Not one State can say that it has a surplus of doctors. Tasmania certainly cannot. The urgency of the demand for medical education was stressed by the Australian Universities Commission in a letter to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). On 27th August this year the commission, in presenting its second report, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, which includes this paragraph -
To meet urgent demands in medical education, the Commission has supported proposals to establish a Medical School in the University oi Tasmania and lo extend facilities by some 50 per cent, in the Faculty of Medicine al the University of Melbourne.
I say “ Hear, hear “ to that. We must keep the pressure on the government of the day to make it possible for the medical schools at universities to be expanded, because of the tremendous growth in our population. That growth is not being matched by new doctors coming from the universities. We are still a long way from satisfying our need for doctors.
In order to emphasize the need for this medical school in Hobart, 1 point out that earlier this year 1 received representations from a doctor in my electorate whose son was anxious to continue his medical career. At the University of Tasmania, he had passed Science I. which is equivalent to first-year medicine. In an endeavour to get him into the Monash University, 1 wrote to the chancellor of that university, Sir Robert Blackwood. In his reply he said that the Monash University had accepted as medical students seven of thirteen Tasmanians who applied. He went on to say this in his letter to me -
Al second year level the number of places here is limited by laboratory accommodation and dissecting facilities. In allocating places (o Tasmania, they have to be treated in order of merit on examination performance in their first year at the University level. I would advice you to try Adelaide or Queensland.
I am sorry we cannot be more helpful to you in this case, but with many more students waiting to enter Medicine than there are facilities available, it is inevitable that allocation of places must be made on known academic performances.
That is a tragic letter. Sir Robert Blackwood has done a great job for Tasmania. The Monash University agreed to take up to fifteen medical students from Tasmania each year; but so great is the pressure on that university from the mainland that this year it took only seven - not even half the number that it promised it would take in the first instance. That is an indication of how serious it is. In my letter to the Chancellor I pointed out that of the nineteen students at the University of Tasmania last year who took the first year medical course - Science I. - sixteen passed at the end of the year, but only eleven have been taken further. Five potential doctors have missed out completely. It means for them the end of the road as far as medicine is concerned and the termination of their prospective medical careers. These five students will now have to reorganize their educational programmes. It may be that the year spent on Science I. will be completely lost to them as they change over to some other course. The University of Adelaide this year took four and Monash University took seven of the eleven Tasmanians who are continuing their medical courses. It is almost incredible that in this modern age, when the country is crying out for more doctors, Tasmanian students who want to become doctors have to go to Melbourne, Adelaide or Brisbane to continue their studies. This shows the tremendous need for a medical school in Hobart. That is why we are pleased indeed that at last we have it in sight, because of the grant of £600,000 provided for in this bill.
Professor Isles, the Chancellor of the University of Tasmania, has been overseas trying to recruit professional staff, including doctors. He has had a difficult time. We will need to have a professor of medicine to take over the school when it is built. He may be difficult to obtain, and the salary range will have to be high enough to attract a top-line professor. I hope that we will be able to offer a sufficiently attractive salary, because this man will have the unenviable task of establishing a new medical school in Tasmania.
Another section of the bill has great interest for Tasmanians. I refer to the erection or extension of residential colleges. The report of the commission refers to the amount to be spent in this way. It shows that in the triennium 1961-63, £79,000 was available. For the triennium 1958-60 £93,850 was granted, so that in this respect the grant has been reduced. Christ College, Jane Franklin Hall, St. John Fisher and Hytten Hall are being assisted through these grants. We are grateful for the assistance.
Full-time students at the University of Tasmania total 935. I think this is a pretty good percentage of population, compared with other States. Of that number, 219 are in colleges attached to the university. The remainder live at home or board in the city close to the university. Who knows but that in the foreseeable future Tasmania may be able to take students from the mainland, and reverse the movement of past years. Tasmania may be able to take 500 students from the mainland into the university at Hobart because of the development of residential colleges and the extension of the various facilities there. That would be a fine gesture on Tasmania’s part, in return for the assistance which has been given in the past to Tasmanian students by mainland universities. I do not mean to suggest that Tasmanian students will be denied entry to the University of Tasmania. We must cater for every Tasmanian who is able and willing to proceed with a toplevel education at a university. But if space is left, it will be available for mainland students. In other words, it will be an adjunct to mainland universities and may help to relieve the pressure on them. Hobart is only 400 miles from Melbourne, not much further away than Mildura. Distance is not a problem and mainland students will be received with great pleasure.
I want to refer now to the overall requirements of education. Every honorable member is conscious of the fact that this is an age of science and technology, of great engineering projects. Highly skilled artisans are in constant demand and a maximum education for our skilled men is absolutely essential. Russia has certainly shown us the way to spend money on technical education. The results are to be seen in its space research programme and technological advancement. We are miles behind. The Russians have set a standard and are miles ahead of the Western world in their expenditure on education in the fields of science, engineering and other technical subjects. Australia is lagging hopelessly behind other countries in this regard. This afternoon’s Melbourne “ Herald “ states that the United Kingdom is to raise its expenditure on higher education from about £200,000,000 to about £700,000,000 a year over the next seventeen years. This is the way we have to go. This is the way in which the Western world can match the progress of its ideological enemies. A government that is conscious of this need and can bring down measures of this nature is playing its part in the development of Australia along the only lines that will help us to survive in this competitive and technological age.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommendingthat an appropriation of revenue be madefor the purposes of a bill for an act to make provision for the grant of financial assistance to the States in connexion with universities, announced.
Message from the Governor-General recommending that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend section nine of the Stales Grants (Universities) Act 1960-1962, as amended by the States Grants (Universities) Act 1963, announced.
– As the two bills relating to universities have been taken together to this stage, it occurs to me that it may suit the convenience of honorable members if they are taken together in the later stages. Is the House agreeable? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The measure before the committee for immediate consideration is the Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1963.
Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1963.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 3 (Grants for recurrent expenditure).
.- I move -
That the clause be postponed.
As an instruction to the Government -
To make such financial arrangements as will enable the Newcastle University College to attain autonomy on 1st January, 1965.
I do not propose to delay the committee by speaking at length on this matter. During my speech on the second reading I outlined the reasons why the Newcastle University College should be granted autonomy as from 1st January, 1965, instead of 1st January, 1967, as recommended by the commission. 1 indicated briefly to honorable members that my Newcastle colleagues in the State Parliament had discussed this matter with the State Minister for Education, the Hon. E. Wetherall, M.L.A., and with Professor Baxter, the vice-chancellor of the University of New South Wales, who said in a public statement on 10th September of this year that they thought that the Newcastle University College should attain its autonomy as from 1st January, 1965. Therefore, I feel that the Government should accept the proposed amendment and also see that it is accepted in another place.
.- I earnestly support the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). I also suggest to the Government that if its policy of decentralization means anything it will accede to the honorable member’s request. 1 rose mainly to ask why the Commonwealth Government resists making any kind of contribution to the purchase of sites for universities. I note that the commission says in its report that it has not been its policy to recommend assistance for the purchase of sites for universities. It does not give any reason why it has adopted that policy. I should like to hear an explanation of that by the Minister. I refer in particular to the position in Sydney where the State government is confronted with a payment of £1,000,000 for the purchase of a site in the Ryde district for the establishment of a third metropolitan university.
– I wish to make some observations about the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). I appreciate the honorable member’s local patriotism.
I listened very carefully to him when he was making his speech on the second reading, but I think that I must say to him quite frankly that in a matter of this kind the Government would find it extremely difficult to accept the amendment. After all, what he proposes goes right to the heart of the bill.
– After consulting with the Clerk. I find that this is the only way in which I can move the amendment.
– It involves one of the key clauses of the bill, and I do not think that any government, however sympathetically disposed it might be, could accept an amendment which is so vital.
May I also say that in these questions it seems to me that the Government must be guided, in the main, by the report of the members of the Australian Universities Commission. They are men of varied experience. In the real sense of the word, one could describe them as wise men. They are conversant with these problems, and it is part of their business to study them. In this matter of the Newcastle University College, they had before them the whole of the experience of the Monash University and the Bedford Park University in Adelaide. Bearing these experiences in mind, they came to the conclusion that it would be better if the present time-table were adhered to and Newcastle University College attained its autonomy on the prescribed date which, as we all know, is 1st January, 1967. So, although I know this will disappoint the honorable member, I have to say that, for these reasons, the Government cannot accept the amendment and will have to be guided by the report of the commissioners.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Chairman, we are considering an amendment proposed by the Opposition. Earlier the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) told us that the Government could not accept the amendment, because its advisers were experts and it was not appropriate for the Parliament to alter in any way a measure drafted in accordance with their advice. This has not been the invariable rule applied in this Parliament or adopted by the present
Government. On innumerable occasions, we have rejected reports made by the Tariff Board and reports made by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board concerning the allocation of licences to commercial television stations. So I believe that the Minister’s argument was invalid and that the Opposition’s amendment, with which was associated an instruction concerning the Newcastle University College, ought to be more seriously considered.
.- Mr. Chairman, the Minister for Immigration, prior to the suspension of the sitting, intimated to me that the Government could not accept the amendment. Now that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) is in the chamber, I should like to ask the Minister what will happen, if the committee rejects the amendment, in the event of the New South Wales Government, during 1964, introducing legislation to give autonomy to the Newcastle University College from 1st January, 1965. The report of the Australian Universities Commission for the triennium 1964-66 recommends that a grant of £50,000 be made to the university college in 1965 and another of £75,000 in 1966. Will the Government consider making these grants in 1964 and 1965 respectively? The commission noted, as appears at page 2 of its report, that a total of £1,697,000 more was granted than the commission had recommended in the 1961-63 triennium. I am not asking the Government to provide any additional funds beyond those recommended for the Newcastle University College. I am only asking that the grants recommended be paid a year earlier in each instance:
– Mr. Chairman, before the suspension of the sitting, I informed the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) and the committee that, in the Government’s view, acceptance of the honorable gentleman’s amendment was impossible, and I gave the reasons for the adoption of that attitude. In view of what the honorable member has now said, all I can say is that the Government cannot depart from its position. He rather assumes that the New South Wales Government will act. I think that my honorable friend will agree that, after all, .there is no certainty about that. Nonetheless, 1 imagine that, if the
New South Wales Government acts in the way in which he assumes, the grants would bc a matter for negotiation between the State Government and the Commonwealth. Certainly, at this stage, I cannot give any undertaking. The Government will have to Stand on its position.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed- to.
States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) 1963.
Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bills reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Downer) - by leave - read a third time.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, on 22nd May of this year, I made a comprehensive announcement about a review of Australian defence, of the defence programme and of defence expenditure. I remind the House that that was a time before any announcement had been made about an election and before panic had broken out on the benches opposite. The decisions that I then announced involved an average increase in the defence vote, over a period of five years, of the order of £41,000,000 a year. At the same time, though I stated the nature of the extended Mirage fighter procurement, which will give our fighter forces unsurpassed strength, I pointed out that neither the programme nor the figures included any re-equipment of the strike-reconnaissance force. I quote what I went on to say, because I think it is important that this be kept in mind. I remind the House that it was said on 22nd May. I went on to say -
This is an important matter. The Canberra ls by no means obsolete . . .
J wonder whether I may interrupt myself at that point, Sir, to say that to-day I have observed that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who goes into print on these matters so hastily, has had his views published in a not-always-reliable newspaper. I want to quote from this report, but I do not vouch for the accuracy of it. Oh dear, no! I quote it for what it is worth, for it records the Leader of the Opposition as having said -
One thing is certain. The Government could not have gone into the election campaign without having at least some plausible story to show that it was at least-
Perhaps “ last “ was meant - trying to replace the Canberra which has been obsolescent since 1949.
I am always willing to concede the chances of error in that journal.
– What journal is it?
– The Sydney “Daily Mirror”.
– The “Daily Mirror “ ?
– Yes - your official organ. I am always prepared to concede the possibility and, indeed, the probability, of error in that journal. I take leave to point out to the House that, so far from the Canberra being obsolescent in 1949, not until early in 1951 was I invited to go to an aerodrome in England to name this new aircraft “ Canberra “ and to sec it taken up by the test pilot on a demonstration flight. Therefore, long before it was born, it appears to have been obsolescent. This introduces a new problem into obstetrics. With that human aside. I go on to quote what I said in May -
Tin’s is an important matter. The Canberra is by no means obsolete; it is still being used by overseas air forces, including those of Nato. But we arc giving close consideration to the future as we must. There arc, of course, great financial problems, but there are vital questions as to the availability of suitable types to meet our requirements. Having regard to our special geographic circumstances, we must consider range, the capacity to perform both reconnaissance and attack and the ability to use existing runways and services. An on-the-spot evaluation by a team of qualified experts is necessary, as it was in (he selection of the Mirage. Such a team will be sent overseas at an early date, under the Chief of the Air Staff to investigate and report. Then, of course, the Government will consider the matter further in the light of the report.
We sent the evaluation team overseas and in due course received its report. It was clear that, subject to problems of the time-table and of payment and of interim provision to supplement if necessary the Canberra force, the evaluation team regarded what was then called the TFX in the United States as the most modern and complete answer to our requirements.
I then decided to ask the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) to undertake the very onerous task of going to the United States to examine these problems more closely on a government level. He had, of course, one further objective. He was not to discuss aircraft in isolation from strategic needs and priorities, but he was to have close political consultation with the United States Administration on those very matters. It is very easy, if I may say so to the Leader of the Opposition, to say, “ We will procure a Canberra replacement”, as if all we had to do was to go, so to speak, to the shop and buy it over the counter.
Honorable members will realize that this is not the position to-day. Both of the two most recently designed reconnaissance bombers, the TSR-2 in England and the TFX in the United States, are still in the developmental stage. It will of necessity be some time before they become available. The cost of such modern instruments of war is, of course, enormous, although the cost tends to come down if very large orders are placed.
The Minister for Defence has the great advantage of being on very close and friendly terms with the American defence administration. My colleagues and I felt that he would have a reasonable prospect of fruitful discussion. I am happy to tell the House that his mission has been most remarkably successful; so successful that I have found it necessary to advise the United Kingdom Government that we propose to go ahead with the arrangement he has negotiated.
Before going on to state the substance of ‘ the arrangement that my colleague has made in Washington, I would like to say that I have observed some inspired statements in one or two newspapers to the effect that our discussions in the United States were either accelerated or affected by some statement made in this House by the Leader of the Opposition. I did not have the good fortune to hear it. The answer to this is that we had our first full and promising report from the Minister for Defence before the Leader of the Opposition, spoke at, all. Having received it and studied it, we were attracted by it, but we sent one or two inquiries to him so that he might clear up a few outstanding points. This he has done, with the result that I will in a few moments announce it to the House.
The whole business of re-equipping the Air Force is extremely complex. It cannot be solved by a few rhetorical phrases. It has in the present case required most exhaustive technical investigations by our highest technical advisers and this rather remarkable negotiation which has been conducted by the Minister himself in the United States.
In the result, the defence programme I announced, which represented a large increase, will be very substantially added to. But the arrangements made by my colleague will unquestionably result in a very substantial saving to Australia, as against the original estimates of TFX costs as formulated when the evaluation mission made its inquiries. To this must be added the other practical defence advantages which will appear.
I will now state in agreed language the nature of the arrangements that have been made. In pursuance of the Government’s policy of improving Australia’s defence preparations, the Minister for Defence has been in Washington discussing with Mr. McNamara, the United States Secretary of Defence, the re-equipment of Australia’s bomber squadrons, together with other defence matters of mutual interest. As a result of these negotiations, the following most favorable arrangements have been made with the United States: The Government of Australia has agreed to purchase from the United States two squadrons of F-l 1 1 A aircraft, which used to be called the TFX. By special arrangements with the United States of America, the aircraft will be available to Australia at the same time as deliveries are made to the United States armed forces, which will be from 1967 onwards. I emphasize that date because of rumours that made it a couple of years later. Financial arrangements are entirely satisfactory to Australia.
In a most favorable package deal, if I may use that phrase, the United States has agreed to supply the aircraft on the basis of a purchase price that includes one year’s initial spare parts including engines, ground handling equipment, training aids, and the initial and operational training of crews, which would be carried out in the United States.
A further important and valuable consideration is that the United States has agreed to integration of the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States armed forces logistic pattern so that Australia will be able to draw future requirements of spare parts and equipment from American stocks and therefore secure the advantage of much lower prices than would bc the case if Australia itself had to procure independently the full range of stores.
The financial arrangements for the purchase of the F-111A aircraft enables Australia to spread its payments to suit its own budgetary requirements over a period of years. As Australia will commence progress payments immediately, a special and important part of the deal is that Australia’s payments will attract interest from the United States until such time as payments are in fact made” to the United States contractors for the aircraft. The F-111A aircraft will now be available to Australia at least two years earlier than had previously been thought possible. At the same time, in case the years between now and 1967 were to see a deterioration in the international situation, the Government has been concerned that Australia should have, if necessary, some additional long range strike and reconnaissance capacity in the R.A.A.F. over the intervening years.
Arrangements have now been made ;i ensure that there will be suitable strike reconnaissance aircraft available to the R.A.A.F. until the F-111A comes into operational service. Agreement has been reached with the United Slates that up to two squadrons of B-47/RB-47E aircraft will be made available to Australia with no leasing charge to the Australian Government. Australian personnel will be trained by the United States Air Force on the basis of reimbursement for actual costs, and ground handling equipment and logistic support provided at satisfactory prices.
Performance details of the F-111A are classified - that is, they are not available for general consumption - but it can be said that it is a two-man bomber which car fly at two and a half times the speed of sound and well above supersonic speed at sca 1-^cl. It can take off and land from short and, if necessary, rough airfields. It can fly to any place on earth within 24 hours.
The F-111A programme embarked upon by the United States is the largest programme, both in numbers and in cost, of any aircraft since World War II. It is, in other words, the last word. Twenty-two prototype and development aircraft are scheduled for delivery to the United States in 1965 and we are told that we will secure our first deliveries in 1967.
The B-47E is now used in the Strategic Air Command of the United States and will be in squadron service, particularly in this part of the world, for some years. It has proved a most versatile and effective aircraft in operational service to date. Its full operational capability is still partly classified - that is to say, partly not for general publication - but it has a sub-sonic speed of over 600 miles an hour and a ceiling of over 40,000 feet. It is also particularly effective at low level. This is important. It is a six-engine aircraft with a range of over 3,000 miles and a capacity to carr; over 20,000 lb. of conventional bombs. It is equipped for air-to-air refuelling.
Putting all controversy on one side, I am sure that all honorable members will agree not only that my colleague’s mission reflects credit on himself but also that its success is an indication of the genuine goodwill which the United States has towards our country and of the high opinion which the United States Government has of the capacity of the Australian armed forces and of the reliability and importance of Australia as a nation and law in this area of the world.
– by leaveThe Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has been more intent to make a riposte than a report. He wants to make it clear, if he can, that the ordering of a replacement for the Canberra bomber was in no way instigated by the statement in the House two nights ago by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The right honorable gentleman is not so intent on telling the House why this particular replacement was ordered, why the particular interim aircraft are being provided and what the cost and financial arrangements will be. Honorable members may take what comfort they like from the fact that the right honorable gentleman was carried on one of the test flights of the Canberra in 1951. I suppose that is some tribute to the lifting power of the aircraft at that time.
– I said that I christened it. Stick to the truth for once.
– You are no heavyweight.
– Well, I am not as much a lightweight as the Treasurer. I cannot compete in these matters with the warriors on the other side of the House. The Prime Minister wishes me to correct my statement. He points out that he did not travel on the test flight of the Canberra; he christened the aircraft. I accept the correction. This happened in 1951.
The Prime Minister said that he was relying on one of our official organs - the “Daily Mirror” - for what the Leader of the Opposition had said about the modernity of the Canberra. He was not certifying that the report in the “ Daily Mirror “ was correct. I cannot check on the accuracy of the report in the official organ of the right honorable gentleman’s party - the “ Daily Telegraph “ - because the “ Daily Telegraph “ does not report the Leader of the Opposition, or if it does, it reports only 10 per cent, of what he says and that on one of the middle or back pages. The Leader of the Opposition did not for the first time last Tuesday promise to order a replacement for the Canberra. In fact, at the end of last July he made the promise in these terms - and I quote from a newspaper which honorable gentlemen may think is an official organ for both sides -
The Labour Government would order replacements for the R.A.A.F.’s obsolete Canberra bombers as soon as it came to power.
The Prime Minister contented himself with quoting his promises of last May but his colleagues have been promising a replacement for the Canberra not just since last May but since September, 1955. Honorable gentlemen will remember that on 29th September, 1955, the then Minister for Defence, Sir Philip McBride - the lay leader of the Liberal Party - said -
To establish the replacement types of. aircraft required . a mission representative of the Depart ment of Air, the Department of Defence Production and the aircraft industry recently visited the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the recommendations of this mission are now under consideration.
– When was that?
– On 29th September, 1955.
– That was the year you were going to cut defence expenditure by £40,000,000.
– The right honorable gentleman and his colleagues constantly make that allegation but they cannot prove it by giving a reference to “ Hansard “. In March, 1960, the then Minister for Air, the Honorable F. M. Osborne, told the House that the replacement of the Canberra was the most important task facing the Air Force. That was three and a half years ago. Then last May the Prime Minister at last interested himself in the matter. A mission went abroad and now the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has gone abroad.
Everybody in Australia - not merely those in this House - will be delighted that a decision has been made. We have missed a complete generation of strike reconnaissance aircraft - a complete generation of bombers.
– What would you have bought?
– The grounded Minister for Air - the immediate past Minister for Air - the honorable member for Wentworth, made the same cry the other night: “ What would you have bought? “ The other cry which is constantly uttered is: “ Where would you find the money? What would it cost? “ The other night the Opposition did in fact make suggestions as to what types of aircraft could be obtained. The Prime Minister has not explained why alternatives more modern than the B-47E have not been acquired or arranged.
The decision has been made. That is a good thing because until now our Air Force has been unbalanced and has been getting progressively more unbalanced. We have now ordered a modern fighter - a very fine fighter indeed. We have a few very fine transport aircraft in the Hercules and reconnaissance planes in the Neptune, but we have been completely unbalanced in that we have not had a reconnaissance strike aircraft or bomber of adequate range and lift. We are now ordering one which would seem to fill the bill, but at least we should have been told why the TFX or F-111A has been ordered instead of the TSR-2. The F-111A will be delivered from 1947 onwards. I am sorry, I was getting confused with the date upon which the Canberra was ordered. The F-111A will be delivered from 1967 onwards and the TSR-2 could be delivered from 1964 onwards.
– That is utterly false. It has not even flown. The honorable member is relying on his imagination.
– The Prime Minister is interjecting;
– I just told my supporters that you always rely on your imagination for your facts.
– In this case I was relying on a statement from the office of the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Australia last Tuesday. I quoted from the statement which was sent out to all of us, if we cared to read it, from the office of the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Australia. He reported a statement by the British Ministry of Aviation last Monday. The text of the fabrication which comes from the British Ministry of Aviation is retailed to us by the United Kingdom High Commissioner. The first TSR-2, described as being the world’s most advanced combat plane, is being completed at Vickers plant at Weybridge, Surrey, and is scheduled to fly at the end of this year. The aircraft will come to Australia next year for missile training trials at Woomera.
– That is the prototype.
– I will not lend myself to this latter-day sneer at all British aircraft. In fact, when it comes to most of the innovations in aircraft the British are still abreast of any other nation in the world. The right honorable gentleman interjects again to say that this is the prototype. It is a prototype which will be flying at the end of this year and which will fly across the world to Woomera next year. It is a pretty advanced prototype; but the right honorable gentleman referred to the prototype of the F-111A flying in 1965. Whichever way one looks at it - and the authorities I quote are the British Ministry of Aviation and the right honorable gentleman - relying on these ostensibly reliable authorities, the British prototype will fly a year before the American one. When will the F-111A be available in Australia? From 1967 onwards. The British fabrication is that the TSR-2 will be available for delivery from 1965 onwards.
– That is not true.
– The right honorable gentleman may repudiate his conservative colleagues in Britain. He will be in haste to do so on every possible occasion before the election. Government supporters are interjecting. I remind them that the right honorable gentleman was heard in silence. I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House, but inevitably, if members of the Liberal Party behave in this unruly manner, I will have to take a bit longer to let what I am saying sink in.
The TSR-2 will fly and can be delivered a year or two years before the TFX or the F-111A. Why were we not told why it is preferable to wait for the American aircraft instead of taking the British aircraft? I do not know the relative advantages, and I am certain that no honorable gentleman in the House knows them, either. But at least we are entitled to be told the technical reasons why we are waiting another year or two to get planes which the relevant manufacturers and governments say are comparable.
Sir Robert Menzies__ It is untrue.
– The right honorable gentleman says it is untrue. Why does not he state in which respect it is untrue?
Sir Robert Menzies. - Because your statement about 1965 is utterly untrue. Nobody has1 ever said that the TSR-2 would be available in service in 1965. Nobody ever has said it, until you said it. (Honorable members interjecting)–
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not need any help from his own side of the House, or from the Government side, either.
– The right honorable gentleman has at last made his decision and he has to stick by it, but the Australian public are entitled to know how valid and credible that decision was. The right honorable gentleman has given none of the facts upon which that judgment can be made by honorable members or by the general public. I rely for my facts on the British Ministry of Aviation, as reported to us by the United Kingdom High Commissioner, and I believe that the British Ministry of Aviation - although part of a conservative government - is as creditable and reputable as are departments of state under the right honorable gentleman’s administration.
The decision has been made. That is a good thing, but the country was entitled to be told why a decision was made in favour of one aircraft instead of another. Only this afternoon some of the newspapers contained articles based, it is said, on information from high service officers, casting doubt on the suitability of the TFX. There is a congressional inquiry in the United States of America - at the moment it has been suspended to deal with another matter - into the suitability of the TFX. The writer on this subject is Mr. lack Percival, aviation writer of the Sydney “ Sun “, and I believe he is as well informed an aviation correspondent as this country has.
I now move to the subject of the interim aircraft. I suggested the other night that we might see whether we could obtain the Phantom or the Vigilante in the meantime. We have settled on an earlier aircraft, the B-47E. It is a later model of the B-47B, which first flew in 1950. It flew for the first time before the Canberra. Admittedly, it has the advantage over the Canberra of greater range and greater lift and those are the two particulars in which the Canberra has been deficient, particularly in the circumstances which have arisen in our part of the world in the last few years. But this aircraft - still on the right honorable gentleman’s account - is no great wonder. It is scarcely a very modern aircraft. To give a comparison from which honorable members and the general public can readily judge, I mention that it has not the range of the Boeing 707; it has not the lift of the Boeing 707; it has no greater speed than the Boeing 707; and it does not fly as high as the Boeing 707. This plane is undoubtedly better than the Canberra, but why is it that we did not get a later aircraft such as the Phantom or the Vigilante or one of the V-bombers? Here again the right honorable gentleman has given us no information. I cannot believe that this is the best deal he could have made with the British or with the Americans. The British V-bombers - Vulcans, Victors and Valiants - are much more modern than the B-47E, they come to Australia regularly and in all comparable respects - lift, speed and range - are superior to the B-47E.
I come now to the final omission. What is the purchase price? What financial arrangements have been made? As was shown the other night by members of the Opposition and by no means refuted by honorable members on the Government side, we are spending considerably less of our gross national product on defence than we were ten or twelve years ago. How will this affect the contribution that we make? Whenever the Labour Party makes any suggestions on defence or other matters the cry from the Government side is: “ Where will you find the money? How much will it cost? “ There is no question that if the country’s defence requires particular equipment Australia is able to finance the purchase of that equipment. Australia can afford as much as most countries to pay for its defence. How much will this cost? That is the third question to which the right honorable gentleman has still not supplied an answer.
I sum up. We are glad that an order has at last been placed. We trust that the aircraft to be purchased will fulfil the highest hopes that have been expressed for it. However, we have not been told why it has been chosen instead of an aircraft which would be available earlier from Great Britain. We have not been told why arrangements have not been made for the supply by Great Britain or America of an interim aircraft more modern than the one we are to get. Finally, we have not been told the financial arrangements which have been made.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Loan Bill 1963.
International Development Association (Additional Contribution) Bill 1963.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is, as announced in the Budget, to increase existing pensions payable under the Superannuation Act, to restore and preserve in the future the entitlements to contribute under the act, and to modify the progressive reduction in the entitlements of those contributors above the base grade and lower middle range salaries. The bill also includes a number of administrative amendments to the act.
In recent years existing superannuation pensions have been increased on a number of occasions. In 1961 the Government decided to increase the Consolidated Revenue component of each earlier pension to what it would have been had the pension been determined under the scale of units contained in the Superannuation Act 1954 applied to salaries in force prior to the marginal increases in salaries in 1954. When the position of superannuation pensioners was reviewed by the Government during the 1963-64 Budget discussions, it acknowledged that although the earlier adjustments had relieved the hardship of those who had retired many years ago, it still left them to meet to-day’s living costs on a pension related to the conditions of 1954. The Government therefore decided upon a further increase in these pensions. This bill provides for the Consolidated Revenue component of each earlier pension to be brought up to the level which would now apply had the pension been determined under the scale of units contained in the Superannuation Act 1959 applied to the salaries in force after the marginal increases in salaries in 1959. Those who did not avail themselves of all the units of pension to which their salaries entitled them will receive the appropriate proportion of this increase.
The other main part of the bill concerns the future pension entitlements of present contributors to the superannuation fund. The entitlement to contribute for units of pention is related to salary and, as salaries increase, officers may contribute for additional units of pension. However, these adjustments have been arbitrarily limited by the scale of units of pension contained in the act which has itself been related to the salaries in force at a given point in time. A general salary increase therefore necessitates an amendment to the scale of units. For example, in 1954 the Government decided that those on the base grade and lower middle range of salaries should be entitled to contribute for a pension on retirement equivalent to 70 per cent, of salary. Thereafter, the proportion of pension to salary reduced progressively as salaries increased. Again, in 1959, the scale of units was increased in order to restore the proportion of pension to salary that was the basis of the 1954 legislation. That fixed scale of units, in the Superannuation Act 1959, no longer provides these pension entitlements to-day, and this bill will, firstly, restore them.
The Government has also decided to incorporate in the bill a formula which will automatically preserve in the future the determined proportions of pension to salary. The salary point at which the maximum pension entitlement of 70 per cent of salary ceases and thereafter reduces progressively as salaries increase will, on the basis of this formula, be prescribed by regulation on the occasion of any general variation in salaries.
The Government has also reconsidered the equity of the very abrupt reduction in relative pension entitlement for the more senior officers in the Commonwealth’s employ. The scheme has provided, for the great bulk of contributors, an entitlement to a pension equivalent to 70 per cent, of their terminal salary. As the Commonwealth provides five-sevenths of the pension, this means that the Commonwealth, as employer, accepts the full liability of paying all these officers a retirement benefit equivalent to 50 per cent, of their retirement salary. On the other hand, the most senior officers, even with their own contributions added, have been entitled to total retirement benefits which at the present time are about one-third less than half pay, and the Commonwealth’s own contribution to their retirement benefit amounts to little more than 25 per cent, of salary. This contrast between 50 per cent, of salary and 25 per cent, of salary is considered by the Government to be an unduly great discrimination against those officers who carry the greatest burden pf administrative responsibility.
This progressive reduction in pension entitlement is also heavily out of line with many other retirement benefit schemes. For example, the Civil Service pension scheme in Britain, which is non-contributory, is designed to provide officers retiring after long service with 50 per cent, of final salary. The same is true in South Australia. In Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America the proportion of pension to salary appears to be even higher. The Government has concluded that it would be only fair to recognize, as a principle, that the more senior officers should not receive less than a half pay standard on their retirement, bearing in mind that the Commonwealth’s contribution to this would be fivesevenths of 50 per cent., that is, a little more than one-third of retirement salary compared with the 50 per cent, that is already provided by the Commonwealth for the great bulk of contributors.
Special provision is made, as in 1959, for all contributors who are within eight years of retirement, and who would be required to pay contributions amounting to more than 10 per cent, of their salary. They may defer until their retirement payment of portion or all of the additional contributions in excess of 10 per cent, of salary. A further opportunity is also given to any contributor who has failed to do so in the past to take up his full current pension entitlement, subject to the usual conditions of producing satisfactory medical evidence. This opportunity will in the future arise only on the occasion of an officer’s receiving a higher salary and being entitled to contribute for additional units within the operation of the formula.
The most important administrative amendment clarifies the provisions of the act in relation to the investment of the fund in loans on mortgage, and widens the powers of investment of the Superannuation
Board to authorize the investment of not more than 25 per cent, of the fund in debentures of companies. This will be supplemented by regulations prescribing the safeguards adopted, in respect of similar investments, in the Trustee Investments Act 1961 of the United Kingdom, with the further safeguard that two expert opinions will be required before any investment in debentures is made by the board.
Loans on mortgage are limited by the bill to an amount not exceeding 70 per cent, of the value of the security at the time at which the loan is made, and for a term not exceeding 30 years. The diversification of the investments of the fund which will be possible as the result of these changes should improve the earning rate of the fund. The remaining administrative amendments are of a machinery nature which will be explained in the committee stage.
In commending the bill to honorable members, I express regret that circumstances make it necessary to introduce such a technical measure so late in the parliamentary session. I had hoped that, on this occasion, more time would be available for consideration of the bill. However, for reasons which are well known to all honorable members, the time at our disposal is limited and it was necessary to choose between fulfilling the promise contained in the Budget speech, when the proposed amendments were announced, by introducing the bill now, or withholding the increased benefits until a later date. I am sure that no honorable member would wish to delay these benefits. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Davidson, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1962 to provide for the granting of licences by the Minister for the establishment and operation of television translator stations to serve small concentrations of population which are at present without a satisfactory television service.
No doubt, honorable members on both sides of the House will recall the number of questions which have been directed to me concerning the availability of television services in areas at present without an acceptable service. To these and many representations which have been made to me, I have expressed the Government’s anxiety that television services should be extended as rapidly as possible but pointed out that it was essential that planning should proceed on a gradual and coordinated basis if mistakes were to be avoided. The development of television services in the Commonwealth has proceeded, up to the present, on the basis of the use of stations of high power in selected locations. Upon completion of the stations now planned approximately 91 per cent, of the population of the Commonwealth will have services available to them.
Notwithstanding the extensive coverage provided by existing stations and to be provided by the additional stations which have been approved, there will still be some 900,000 people without a satisfactory service. The means of providing for their requirements has received, and is continuing to receive, a great deal of consideration but, as might be expected, there are difficult technical and economic problems involved in providing services to the widely distributed population in outlying areas. The studies which have been made have revealed that a fairly substantial number of people reside in areas which, although not a great distance from existing transmitters, are inadequately served because of the topography of the country. This is not an unexpected situation. In fact, in all overseas countries where television services are in operation, similar difficulties have been experienced.
The two methods most commonly used to provide service to such pockets of population are community television aerial systems and television translators. The former consists basically of an efficient aerial system established on an elevated site from which television programmes are “picked up” and distributed by wire line to the premises of subscribers, who pay an annual rental for the service. The Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1962, section 130a, provides for the grant of permits covering the establishment and operation of community television aerial systems and a number of these has been authorized. The disadvantage of such systems is that the cost to the viewer, by way of capital costs and annual fees, is much higher than for viewers who are in a position to receive television by the normal means. Further, such systems are generally not capable of serving all of the potential viewers in the area in which they are established, since the facility is, for economic reasons, limited to those situated in reasonably accessible positions. The more remote locations in the area, or those presenting practical difficulties, are usually left unprovided for. It follows that the extent to which community television aerial systems may be used effectively is limited to very small areas of concentrated population. In many of the areasin question, however, it is possible to make use of translator stations and these have the advantage not only of making service available to all those situated within the area covered by its transmissions but also of permitting the reception of programmes by normal means.
I should here explain that a television translator is, in comparison with a normal television station, essentially a low-powered device, varying in power from a fraction of 1 watt to about 200 watts. It consequently has a smaller range. A translator, as the name implies, receives transmissions from a parent television station and re-transmits the programmes on a different channel to be received by normal television receivers. No programmes are originated. Based on the experience which has now been obtained from the operation of television stations in country districts and the disclosed inadequacy of the service available to a number of concentrated pockets of population, situated either within the service areas of such stations or on the fronge of the service areas, there is no doubt that, at last, some of the deficiencies which exist could be overcome by the use of translators. The position is, however, complicated by the present provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1962.
A television station is defined in the act as a station for the transmission by means of wireless telegraphy of television programmes intended for reception by the general public. Translator stations are covered by this definition and their establishment and operation are consequently subject to the licensing provisions of the act. In other words, a translator station can only be licensed in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the act, including the invitation of applications by the Minister and the granting of licences after the holding of public inquiries by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. In addition, section 92 of the act provides that a person shall not be in a position to exercise control of more than two licences in respect of commercial television stations. It follows, therefore, that the licensee of any existing station could not be authorized to establish more than one translator station. Of course, in cases where control of more than one station is involved, the operation of even one translator would not be possible. Even if the translator station were owned by a person other than a licensee, control of the translator station would still be exercised by that licensee by virtue of the provisions of section 92a (1.) (b) of the act, inasmuch as he would, of necessity, control the provision of the programmes transmitted by the translated station.
It is known that the licensees of some commercial television stations are interested in establishing translator stations for the purpose of providing service to poorly served pockets of population where their use is appropriate, but are reluctant to proceed in the matter because of the provisions of the act to which I have referred. Accordingly, the Government now proposes that the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 1962 should be amended to remove the present difficulties.
The bill which I have introduced provides that the Minister may, after receipt of a recommendation by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, grant a licence for a television translator station upon such conditions as the Minister determines. The result would be that the existing provisions of the act relating to the licensing of stations, involving the invitation of applications and the holding of public inquiries by the board, would not apply to translator stations. This, as I have said, has been one of the deterrents to the establishment of translators and is, in any case, a procedure which is inappropriate to apply to these small type installations.
Clause 3 of the bill excludes a television translator station from the existing definition of “ television station “ and inserts an appropriate definition of such a station. The purpose of this proposed amendment is to exclude translator stations from the provisions of the act relating to the number of licences in respect of commercial television stations which may be controlled by any one person. As I said earlier, it is unlikely that the licensees of any existing commercial television stations, who are the most appropriate persons to do so, will undertake the establishment of a translator station to serve a very limited population if, by so doing, they are deprived of an opportunity in the future of participating in the operation of a station which might prove to be a more attractive business proposition. The course which is now proposed will, I believe, encourage licensees to establish and operate translator stations and thus enable television services to be provided in areas which would otherwise be inadequately catered for. It is not proposed to charge any licence-fee in respect of translators as any additional income which might be derived from the operation of the translator would be reflected in the accounts of the “ parent “ station in respect of which a licence-fee is now paid even if the licence were held by a person other than the licensee of a commercial television station.
I do not think that, at this stage, it is necessary for me to say anything further about the bill other than to draw attention to the fact that it is not proposed to licence translator stations to serve areas in which satisfactory service is already available. The remaining clauses are designed to apply to translator stations such of the provisions of the act relating to commercial television stations as are appropriate and they may be further examined in committee.
The bill which I have introduced is noncontentious. Its purpose is, as I have said, to facilitate the provision of television services to a substantial number of people - a matter in respect of which we all have uniform views. I must, however, emphasize that it is not to be expected that translator stations will satisfactorily meet the requirements of all those areas where services are not now available or will not be available when the stations now planned are established. Their main field of use is to provide service to some small populated areas which, because of topographical and other reasons, cannot be served by normal high power stations. I should also again point out that translator stations do not originate any programmes. Their establishment must therefore, of necessity, be restricted to areas where it is possible from an efficient site to receive the programmes from a normal television station for re-transmission by the translator. This fact has, I might say, often been overlooked by those who have contemplated the use of translators as a means of quickly extending television services. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Bill presented by Sir Garfield Barwick, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to repeal the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act dating back to pre-war times, and to replace it with legislation consistent with the agreements common to-day between the free nations of the world on the subject of criminal and civil jurisdiction over members of the forces of one country permitted to enter the territory of another country.
The Defence (Visiting Forces) Act 1939 has been amended only once - in a purely formal respect in 1950- -and it is based on the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act passed in the United Kingdom in 1933. In the years that have passed since then, we have been through the Second World War, we have seen great changes within the Commonwealth of Nations, we have consolidated our relations with our great neighbour across the Pacific, the United States of America, treaty relationships have brought together the free nations in organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, we have participated in the war in Korea, and we have our arrangements in respect of Malaya, and now Malaysia. This is the context in which we need, for friendly forces visiting our shores, legislation capable of meeting the realities of the present and the possibilities of the future.
To face this need, the Government examined the general topic of criminal and civil jurisdiction in Australia in relation to the visiting forces of other countries. The matter has recently become more urgent because of two agreements with the United States of America which honorable members will recall. I refer to the United States Naval Communication Station Agreement - the “ North West Cape Agreement “ - and the agreement to be read with it, known as the Agreement Covering the Status of United States Forces in Australia.
This bill will enable Australia to carry out the Status of Forces Agreement. It is not, however, limited to that purpose. Indeed, the bill proceeds on the basis that its automatic application will be to the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. All, or any of its provisions, can be applied to other countries. In each case where any provision is applied to any country, there will be opportunity for review by Parliament, because regulations will be necessary declaring the country for the purposes of the act so as to attract the provisions of the act nominated in the regulations. The Government would propose that the first such country should be the United States of America, for it presently has some of its forces in this country and recently has concluded with us the Status of Forces Agreement to which I have referred.
That Status of Forces Agreement follows, in broad, the form of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Status of Forces Agreement signed in London in June, 1951, on behalf of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. It is a reasonable assumption that the London agreement will be accepted as setting the pattern for any agreements on this topic with other countries, and that Australian legislation will meet our likely needs by following the lines of the United Kingdom act of 1952 which implemented the London agreement. We should not forget that our forces in Malaysia enjoy the advantages of a statute similarly based on the United Kingdom act. The principle governing jurisdiction over visiting forces are, therefore, will established internationally among the free nations. Honorable members will see that, to the extent the bill limits the jurisdiction of Australian courts, it does so in accordance with modern international practice and to honour our international obligations. This vital jurisdiction matter, to be found in Part II., I will seek to clarify in a moment, after I have adverted shortly to two other aspects of the bill.
Part III. - Deserters and Absentees Without Leave, and Part IV. - Attachment of Personnel and Mutual Powers of Command, are not limited to visiting forces. Their provisions will automatically apply to Commonwealth countries, and they can, by regulation, be applied to other countries whether the countries have visiting forces in Australia or not. The genesis of the provisions in these two parts is to be found in the 1933 United Kingdom act on visiting forces. The Australian act in 1939 dealt with these matters, and the bill before the House now seeks to bring the 1939 provisions up to date. At some future date it may be that the provisions will find their place in general defence legislation where they may more properly belong, but for convenience now we copy the plan of the 1939 act and include them in the visiting forces legislation. It will be apparent, of course, that some of the provisions will apply to visiting forces.
It is intended that the Minister for Defence should administer Parts HI. and IV., and that the Attorney-General should administer Part II., the part dealing with jurisdiction in relation to visiting forces. Honorable members will observe that certain powers are reposed by the bill in the Attorney-General and certain other powers in “the Minister”. The Minister is defined as the Minister for Defence.
I think it may be helpful, Mr. Speaker, in presenting Part II. of the bill, if I remind honorable members of the historical background against which visiting forces legislation is properly to be viewed. The opinion used to be held by some international lawyers, and it was an opinion strongly entertained by the United States authorities, that members of an armed force in a foreign country by permission of that country remain exclusively under the jurisdiction of their own courts-martial and other service tribunals, so that the courts of the receiving country have ordinarily no jurisdiction over the members of the armed force. When United States forces were in Great Britain during the First World War, the United States authorities pressed this view, but a formal agreement had not been concluded when the war came to an end. It has been said, however, that no United States serviceman was tried in a British court in those days. During the Second World War the United States authorities again pressed this view, and in Great Britain an act was passed in 1942 excluding United States servicemen from the criminal jurisdiction of British courts. This act remained in force until 1954, when the 1952 act was brought into operation after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Status of Forces Agreement. There were parallel developments in Australia. In 1942, by national security regulation, United States servicemen were excluded from the criminal jurisdiction of Australian courts. The regulation remained in force until 31st December, 1946.
Except to meet the special case of the United States of America, there has been no legislative recognition given by British or Australian law in recent times to the exclusive jurisdiction of visiting force authorities over their own personnel. The British act of 1933, to which I first referred, gave backing to the jurisdiction of the service courts of visiting British Commonwealth forces, but did not give them exclusive jurisdiction. On the contrary, there was concurrent jurisdiction, and the jurisdiction of British courts was not ousted. Our own 1939 act made similar provision, but again only in relation to forces of the British Commonwealth. In 1940 in Great Britain the Allied Forces Act was passed, giving concurrent jurisdiction to service courts of allied forces from other than Commonwealth countries. In December, 1941, similar provision was made, by national security regulation, here in Australia. In none of this legislation providing for concurrent jurisdiction was there any guidance for determining in any particular case whether the service courts of the visiting forces or the ordinary courts of the land should exercise the jurisdiction that each of them had. Decisions were taken administratively and with goodwill on all sides, but it has long been clear that the concurrent jurisdiction system, if it should continue, should be buttressed with a code of rules for determining the exercise of jurisdiction in individual cases.
Mr. Speaker, with the national security legislation long since expired, our law on visiting forces has been left with two obvious deficiencies. It applies only to United Kingdom and dominion forces, which in the post-war world no longer fully meets our position. Furthermore, it gives no guidance on the problem I have just mentioned - that of determining whether in individual cases the jurisdiction shall be exercised by Australia or by “ the sending country “, if I may use the convenient phrase defined in the bill.
This problem was faced in the multilateral North Atlantic Treaty Organization Status of Forces Agreement, the pattern of which we will now be following here in Australia. The United States abandoned their long-held claim to exclusive jurisdiction, and, along with the other North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries, submitted their servicemen to local jurisdiction in all cases except offences committed solely against the security of the sending country, offences committed in the performance of official duty and offences committed against the person or property of another member of the visiting force. The bill before the House adopts this compromise, which was repeated in our recent agreement with the United States, and the bill contains provision - following that agreement - for waiver of jurisdiction by either the Australian or the visiting force authorities. The bill does not, of course, relate exclusively, or even expressly, to visiting forces from the United States of America. Its provisions will apply automatically to forces of Commonwealth countries and be available to be applied by regulation to the forces of other countries, including, of course, the United States of America.
In substance the bill adopts the provisions of the 1952 Act of the United Kingdom, which the Government is informed has worked well in practice. At some pointswe have modified the provisions to provide additional safeguards and to deal with difficulties more to be expected in a largecontinent like Australia, with six independent systems of State law.
Quickly referring to the scheme of the act, I begin by noting that the service tribunals of a visiting force of a country to which the relevant provisions are applied are permitted to exercise full jurisdiction over members of the force and, in addition, over other persons who are subject to theservice law of the country concerned. There are two important exceptions, however. One, the case of a foreign national, resident in Australia, who has been conscripted into a visiting force; the other the case of the Australian citizen or resident who is a civilian employee of a visiting force. In neither case will the service tribunals have jurisdiction. Apart from this, the service tribunals will be able, if their own law so provides, to exercise jurisdiction not only over the members of the force but alsoover certain civilians. These civilians are the members of a “ civilian component of a visiting force “, and the dependants of members of a visiting force or of a civilian component of such a force. This is not & novel concept, since the existing act already enables jurisdiction to be exercised over civilians employed in connexion with a visiting force, although not over dependants. It will be noticed that I qualified the foregoing remarks by saying “ if their own law so provides”. Our act permits the exercise of the jurisdiction of service courts but does not create the jurisdiction. Consequently, as the law of the United States, as decided by the Supreme Court of that country, does not empower the United Statesservice tribunals in time of peace to deal with offences committed by civilians, the civilian employees and dependants accompanying a United States force would not be subject to the jurisdiction of the servicetribunals but be subject to the jurisdiction of our own courts.
The jurisdiction of our courts is ousted in the limited class of case to which I havereferred - offences against security of the sending country, offences in the performanceof duty, offences against other members of the same force - but that jurisdiction may be restored if the sending country states, formally that it does not intend to proceed? in a particular case. Where Australia would have the primary right to try the person, the Attorney - General may waive Australian jurisdiction in any particular case. The agreement with the United States calls for sympathetic consideration to a request for waiver in cases where the sending country considers waiver to be of particular importance. Clearly, as the criminal jurisdiction is largely State jurisdiction, close liaison between Commonwealth and State will be required. There will be consultation in each case, and there will be no waiver contrary to State views without the Attorney-General personally considering the matter.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is obvious that there should be a means of resolving any doubt as to whether any particular alleged offence, if committed, was committed in the course of duty. In the United Kingdom act it is provided that the certificate of the appropriate authority of the sending country shall be prima facie evidence on this point. The bill before the House does not take that approach. It is the Attorney-General’s certificate that is to be prima facie evidence in our courts. Naturally, the AttorneyGeneral will be much moved by a certificate or other evidence a visiting force puts before him, but he will not be bound toy it, and Australian citizens will have the assurance of knowing that the matter has been independently considered.
Clause 12 of the bill also diverges from the United Kingdom pattern. In the United Kingdom it is assumed that before a member of a visiting force is charged, final decisions will have been taken as to which authority is to exercise jurisdiction. For that purpose it is provided in the English legislation that a person arrested without a warrant may be held in custody for three days without being brought before a court of summary jurisdiction while it is being decided who is to deal with him. I quite appreciate that there will be difficulty at times in taking the decision and even in establishing the facts on which to base the decision. The difficulties may well be greater in a country as large as Australia, where the States all have their own judicial systems and their own law enforcement authorities. There will be cases where it will not be immediately apparent whether an arrested person is a member of a visiting force, whether his victim is a member of the same visiting force or whether the alleged offence was committed in the course of duty. Some cases may be complicated further by requests for waiver. But I do not think the solution is to hold a man without bringing him before a court. If he has been arrested for an offence against Australian law, then he should be charged with that offence at once. The court retains its ordinary power of granting bail, and there will be a stay of proceedings for a period decided by the court so that the authorities can look into the question whether the case is properly one for a service tribunal. If it is not, the court will proceed on the charge already laid. Whichever is to be the case, the court can see that there is no undue delay, because it controls the length of the temporary stay of its own proceedings.
Coroner’s inquests are dealt with in clause 14. An inquest is not to be held where the deceased person was at the time of the death a member of a visiting force or of a civilian component, or was a dependant of such a member. Nor is an inquest to be held where a person within the jurisdiction of a visiting force tribunal has been charged before it with the homicide of the deceased person. The prohibition will, in each case, be subject to the discretion of the Attorney-General to decide that the inquest should proceed. This again is a point at which we will establish close Commonwealth-State liaison.
The inquest provisions appear to be necessary because of the visiting force tribunals exercising criminal jurisdiction. In nearly every State, the fact that a charge of homicide is pending results in an inquest into the death being adjourned until the charge is disposed of. The bill extends this notion to the present context. Where the deceased person is a person for whom the visiting force is responsible, that is to say, he is a member or a dependant, the Attorney-General can direct the holding of an inquest, if the public interest requires it. The visiting force would conduct its own inquiry in many cases; for example, where a soldier dies in camp or on manoeuvres.
Clause 16 of the bill follows the United Kingdom act, and indeed our own existing act, in permitting any provisions of Commonwealth law, so far as they apply to our defence force, to be applied to a visiting force. No such provisions will apply automatically. A regulation will be necessary to apply any provisions to a stated visiting force. The intention is to have available a means of putting a visiting force in the same position before Commonwealth law as our own defence force. It may be very convenient, for example, to be able to provide the ordinary protection of our law to witnesses at visiting force courts-martial; or it may be desirable to isolate an area for safe artillery practice. There is the safeguard that powers under the clause are not to be exercisable by the visiting force authorities, but by whoever is the Australian authority under the Australian law being applied to the visiting force. No difficulties appear to have arisen on the similar provision n the existing Commonwealth act or in the United Kingdom act
Clause 17 of the bill deals with civil claims against members of a visiting force. The members will themselves be personally liable and it will be open to any citizen to institute proceedings in our courts. Where the Commonwealth has entered into an agreement, as it has done in the Status of Forces Agreement with the United States, it may act on behalf of the member, in settling and paying claims for injuries caused by him in the course of his duty, and will look to the other country for reimbursement in the agreed proportions. This is the position as it has obtained in the United Kingdom since the 1952 act came into force there. Our inquiries reveal that the system has worked satisfactorily there. In the case of United States forces, for example, unit commanders will cooperate by disclosing on proper occasions the names of drivers of vehicles involved in accidents and by assisting in the matter of service of court documents. If further assistance should be needed, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department will, on request, take the matter up with the appropriate representatives of those forces in this country.
Consideration has been given to providing, as was done during the Second World War, for the Commonwealth itself to oe the party to be sued in respect of the negligence of a member on duty in a visiting force. This has not been provided in the bill. It is not what is contemplated by the
Nato Status of Forces Agreement and by our own agreement with the United States. It does not seem to be necessary. Lastly, it is inconsistent with certain insurance arrangements that have been made pursuant to the agreement. The United States forces will fully cover by third party and comprehensive insurance all vehicles, including military vehicles, used by them, so that in motor accident cases the Commonwealth will bear no proportion of :hp. ultimately liability that otherwise under the agreement it would have to bear.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Part III. of the bill relates to deserters and absentees without leave from the forces of countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, and other countries to which the part may be applied by regulation. They need not be deserters or absentees from a visiting force. The 1939 act was similarly not limited in this respect to visiting forces, but it was limited to United Kingdom or Dominion forces. Broadly speaking, it is in our interests to return deserters to their own authorities, and this is also the view to which the United Kingdom act gives effect. Nevertheless, as we may now be asked to arrest and hand over alleged deserters from foreign countries, care has been taken to include in the bill a series of safeguards. The arrest is to be on warrant issued by a senior officer of our own defence force and addressed to the police and to our defence force. The officer will have no power to issue the warrant unless the country concerned is within the Commonwealth of Nations or has been declared by regulation to be a country to which Part III. applies. Furthermore, he can act only on the written request of the authorities of the country concerned. Lastly, he has a discretion whether he will issue the warrant at all in any particular case. Even after arrest there will be opportunity for further consideration if an arrested person claims to be entitled to release. While he remains in Australian custody, the Australian authorities will consider his claim and decline to hand him over if they find the claim justified. With these safeguards Part III. should be useful and effective.
Part IV. of the bill brings up to date the provisions about attachment of personnel contained in the 1939 act. That act permitted members of United Kingdom and
Dominion forces to be attached to our defence force, and made appropriate provisions about command and discipline in such cases. Conversely, members of our defence force could be attached to United Kingdom or Dominion forces. The bill extends the provisions to apply to countries outside the Commonwealth of Nations, so that the United States of America, for example, could be declared to be a country to which Part IV. applies, and attachments to and from the United States forces would be covered.
Since before the Second World War, it has been regarded as essential that where United Kingdom and Australian forces are serving together, United Kingdom officers should have powers of command appropriate to their rank, and the existing act so provides. It now needs extension. The South-East Asia Treaty Organization includes countries outside the Commonwealth of Nations as well as within it. Seato planning is proceeding on the basis that limited powers of command will be necessary between members of national components. Discipline remains a matter for each national component. This bill therefore permits its provisions as to powers of command when forces are serving together to be extended to other countries to be declared by regulation as circumstances may require.
Part IV. also re-enacts the existing provision that when Australian forces and those of the United Kingdom, Canada or New Zealand are acting in combination, an officer of one of those other forces, if appointed to command the combined force, may exercise not only powers of command but also powers of discipline over members of the Australian forces. This is of practical importance, for example, in the strategic reserve in Malaysia where the commander of the Commonwealth Brigade Group is alternately an officer of the Australian, United Kingdom and New Zealand forces, which all have similar disciplinary codes. Further, effective control is taken over the operation of these provisions regarding forces serving together or acting in combination by the provision that it is for the Governor-General to declare formally whether forces are so serving or acting in combination.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, in commending the bill to the House, I would stress that its prime purpose - the purpose behind Part II., Visiting Forces, which lies at the heart of the bill - is to put Australia in the same position in regard to friendly visiting forces as the United Kingdom. The bill will enable us to give to visiting forces the status that is now by international agreement accorded to them by the free nations of the world. Specifically and immediately, the bill will enable Australia to give full effect to its agreement with the United States of America. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The wheat industry stabilization plan nas been an outstanding success and the purpose of this bill is to carry it on for another five years. There is fifteen years’ experience behind us as we consider this plan again, for the fourth time. It has operated in fiveyear periods since 1948, and in that period wheat stabilization has become more permanently established year by year. As a result, the present plan is offered with the full support of the wheat-growers and of the State governments. As far as I can find out, there is nowhere any opposition to the principles, and re-negotiation is a matter, not of argument about the need for the plan, but of discussion about some of the details.
Wheat is our most important agricultural industry, and it is second only to wool as a source of export income. Over the years it has been a troubled industry, facing the uncertainties of the seasons in production and the vagaries of world markets in selling. There is no way of avoiding those uncertainties and risks. Even to-day, with the harvest already in progress in the early districts, no one can tell what the crop will be. Indeed, the weather in the next few weeks could take away, or could add, millions of bushels to the crop, and millions of pounds to its value. Added to this is the erratic course of the world market for wheat, which defies prediction. These problems are matters of great concern for all Australian governments, as well as for the wheat-growers, and their joint efforts have given us an example of co-operation between growers, States and Commonwealth that is a credit to all those concerned. It is also an outstanding example of goodwill and intelligent work that have brought a solution to many of the worst problems connected with the industry.
The basic feature in our Australian scheme is a wheat marketing board that gives growers control over the marketing of their own production. In this, the principle of pooling operates, so that the risks and profits of the market are shared among growers. This immediately puts an end to one of the worst features of unorganized marketing - the competitive struggle among growers for a market advantage, with its inevitable result of a frittering away of the bargaining power that they possess only collectively.
The organization of the marketing of wheat makes it practicable and easy for the stabilization features to be added by governments. The States, therefore, ensure that growers will get a reasonable price for wheat sold on the local market. The Commonwealth then guarantees that same price for a reasonable quantity of the wheat exported from each crop. The effect is that the wheat-growers are guarded against ruinous prices for a big proportion of the wheat harvest, and one of the main risks to their standard of living is avoided. This is not a simple gift to the wheatgrowers. No matter what the price of wheat overseas may be, the consumer in Australia gets it at a reasonable price. In fact it is now a quarter of a century since the Australian governments all decided that it was not fair to follow the erratic course of the world wheat market. They decided then that the Australian price should be fair both to producer and to consumer, and experience since then has given them good reason to hold firmly to the principle.
The principle adopted favours growers when prices on the world market are low; but it favours Australian consumers when world prices are high. Naturally, there are swings of the market first one way and then another. Since 1938 this swing has gone on; so that on world standards, at one time our Australian public will be getting cheap wheat and at another time dear wheat. It is common knowledge that in recent years the growers have been favoured because the local price has been higher than the low export price. Against this, however, are the many years of world food shortage, when Australian prices were much below world wheat prices. In the result both growers and consumers are paying a reasonable premium for an assurance of fair prices and the realization of this seems to be firmly set in the Australian conscience.
I turn now to the scheme embodied in the legislation before the House of which the main points are -
The premium on wheat exported from Western Australia will be continued. It is to be altered from the present 3d. per bushel to the amount of the actual freight advantage shown by Western Australia up to a maximum of 3d. per bushel.
The most important change in the plan is that the Commonwealth Government has decided to increase its guarantee on export wheat from 100,000,000 to 150,000,000 bushels for each crop. In arriving at this decision, the Government has taken account of the increased export capacity of the wheat industry and its significant contribution to our overseas income. This will, of course, give greater security to the Australian wheat-grower.
The guaranteed price will continue to be based on cost of production and will be varied each year according to cost movements. Increased efficiency in the industry due in no small measure to the results of research, to which the Commonwealth and State governments contribute, has resulted in higher yields per acre and a consequent decrease in the cost of production per bushel. Because of this, the Australian consumer will have the advantage of a decrease in the price of wheat while the cost of production return to the growers will be preserved. For the first year of the new scheme the guaranteed price to apply to 1 50,000,000 bushels of export wheat will be 14s 5d. per bushel bulk basis f.o.r. ports. As in previous schemes the home consumption price fixed under State legislation is based on this figure.
The basic information on costs of production was provided by an economic survey of the wheat industry carried out by the Division of Agricultural Economics. Such a survey had been regarded as essential by the growers’ representatives and State and Commonwealth Ministers. The yield basis of 17 bushels per acre used in the assessment of costs for the new scheme was recommended by the Wheat Index Committee which consists of representatives of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, and the Australian Agricultural Council under the chairmanship of the director of the Division of Agricultural Economics. This figure which compares with 15.5 bushels used in the assessment of costs in the present scheme reflects the increased efficiency of wheat-growers but is still below the high yields per acre of some recent years. It is, indeed, very close to the average yield per acre of the last fifteen years.
– What is the home consumption price at the moment?
– 15s. lOd. Other changes in the scheme may be mentioned briefly. The ceiling on the stabilization fund has been increased from £20,000,000 to £30,000,000 to reflect the increase in the quantity under Commonwealth guarantee. Honorable members will appreciate, however, that this provision becomes meaningful only when export prices rise above the guaranteed price.
The other alteration in the plan relates to the premium on Western Australian wheat. Since 1954, an allowance of 3d. per bushel has been added to the average return of growers in Western Australia to take account of freight advantages incurred by wheat shipped from that State. The changing direction of our wheat exports in recent years has made this advantage less definite and it was felt by the Australian Agricultural Council and the Australian Wheat Growers Federation that under today’s conditions a preferable system would be for the Australian Wheat Board to calculate the actual freight advantage Western Australia shows for each pool. It has also been decided that there should be a maximum of 3d. a bushel on this payment.
In presenting the new plan for the approval of this House I must pay a tribute to the representatives of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation and to my colleagues on the Australian Agricultural Council, the Ministers for Agriculture in the States. Negotiations in a national plan of this character are necessarily long and involved, but growers, States and Commonwealth are agreed upon this plan as a result of work for which the wheat growers* representatives and the State Ministers deserve great credit.
The wheat stabilization plan is one of the main facets of Australian agricultural policy and it is most satisfactory that the parties involved have agreed on the terms of its renewal. The continuation of the concept of a guaranteed price and the extension of that guarantee over an additional 50,000,000 bushels will ensure the well-being of the wheat industry during the next five years. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is complementary to the Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill and gives effect to one feature of the Commonwealth’s part in the new stabilization plan.
It is a requirement of the Stabilization plan that in times when wheat export prices are high, growers will contribute moneys which will be used for the benefit of the industry when prices are low. These moneys will accumulate in a stabilization fund and will then be used to meet the return guaranteed to growers for export wheat. If the fund proves inadequate the Commonwealth then has the responsibility of meeting the guarantee on export wheat to the extent that the fund is not sufficient to do so. The effect of the present bill is to provide the growers’ contribution to the stabilization fund. The wheat-growing industry agreed to this arrangement when the wheat plan was first introduced and still regards the arrangement as a fair sharing of the risk by growers and the Commonwealth.
The bill imposes a charge on wheat exported from Australia. The charge will be paid to the extent that the export price exceeds the guaranteed price, but at no time can it be higher than the maximum rate of ls. 6d. a bushel provided in the bill. The present bill follows the lines of the earlier acts in the series of wheat plans. It will apply to the 1963-64 wheat harvest and to the four crops that follow it. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this bill is to extend for a period of five years assistance to the Australian cotton growing industry. Under current legislation - the Cotton Bounty Act 1951-1958 - growers of cotton in Australia are guaranteed an average price of 14d. per lb. seed cotton until 31st December, 1963. The present bill, which extends assistance to the industry until 31st December, 1968, will make some very important changes in the method by which assistance is provided.
Until fairly recently, Queensland has virtually been the only State in which cotton has been grown on a commercial basis. Over the last few years, however, the growing of cotton has spread to other areas and, in particular, to the Namoi area of New South Wales, the Murray valley area and the Ord River region of Western Australia.
Cotton growing in Queensland has a long history, dating back to the last century when, as a result of the American Civil War, world cotton prices rose steeply. Although a substantial acreage of cotton was grown during this period, it quickly declined when American production was restored. The subsequent history of the industry has been chequered and various methods, chiefly by way of Commonwealth bounty, have been used to encourage it. When the present Government assumed office it decided that further assistance by way of bounty was warranted and, under the Cotton Bounty Act 1951, growers were guaranteed a minimum average price of 9id. per lb. seed cotton for a period of five years from 1st January, 1951. The guaranteed price was increased to 14d. per lb. in 1953 and has remained at that level since.
Notwithstanding the price guarantee by the Commonwealth, cotton production has not, until recently, given any indication of developing to the extent expected. Recent developments, mainly outside Queensland, however, give promise of the industry expanding into one which, operating on an efficient basis, will become an important addition to the rural sector of the Australian economy.
With the current five year period of assistance coming to an end and, having regard to the changing circumstances of the Australian cotton growing industry, the Division of Agricultural Economics and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, on the initiative of the Australian Agricultural Council, recently conducted an examination of the industry - its problems and its scope for expansion in present and potential areas - with a view to advising on measures which would contribute to the development of a viable industry. The reports of these organizations are very significant. Basically, they find that the future of cotton as an economic industry will be based on -
The potential irrigation areas which appear to offer the best prospects for the eventual production of cotton at approximately import parity prices are the NamoiGwydir area in northern New South Wales, the Nogoa River and Dawson extension areas in Queensland and the Menindee lakes area in south-western New South Wales. Other irrigation areas which have a potential for large scale cotton production are the Coleambally area in southern New South Wales and the Ord River area in Western Australia. There is potential for the eventual production of far more than Australia’s domestic requirements of raw cotton.
While some of these areas are potential irrigation areas, water is available now at others such as the Namoi-Gwydir area and at the Ord River. Commercial yields in excess of 2,000 lb. of seed cotton per acre have been obtained and these should increase when new varieties are available and early development problems have been overcome. On the other hand, a very substantial part of the old established Queensland industry has been and is producing under severe handicaps of small acreages and lack of irrigation.
The Government in its consideration of the future of this industry has thus had to use the following criteria: -
Moreover, given the criteria I have just mentioned recognition had to be given by the Government to the fact that, particularly in the changing circumstances of the Australian cotton-growing industry, the current method of bounty payment, which has applied for many years, has some features which leave room for improvement. I refer particularly to the fact that -
At a recent conference of all cotton interests, convened by the Department of Primary Industry, there was general agreement by the industry that any future bounty arrangements should be on a raw cotton basis, should provide for payments to be relative to quality of raw cotton produced and should discontinue the current system whereby individual growers’ freights and all ginning costs are chargeable before determination of bounty. The bill before the House, I am confident, will meet all the criteria I have outlined. The basic rate of bounty will be 16.125d. per lb. for the grade middling one inch white raw cotton with the rate for other grades, above the grade strict good ordinary, being determined at the beginning of each year by my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) , who will administer the legislation. He, undoubtedly, before making this determination will consult with the industry on the current relativity between grade values of raw cotton being used in the commercial sale of such cotton at the time. I would point out to honorable members that the calculating of the new basic rate of bounty is based on recent results and therefore the same approximate unit level of assistance will apply as has been applying recently under the current method of bounty payment. However, there will be significant changes in the method of distribution of the payments.
It will be apparent that, with bounty being paid on a grade basis, individual growers will receive more or less bounty depending on whether the quality of their cotton is higher or lower. This, in the Government’s view, is necessary if the production of quality cotton, of high staple length, required by Australian spinners is to be encouraged. Again, the bounty being on raw cotton, the grower producing seed cotton with a high raw cotton yield will usually receive more bounty than at present where the payment is on seed cotton. Finally, as the calculation of the basic rate of bounty automatically implies, an average freight and ginning cost component is included in the bounty payment and, therefore, individual freight and ginning costs will be met by each grower. This will have two desirable effects; namely, to encourage the erection of ginneries in or about areas of production and encourage the utmost efficiency in the operation of the ginneries themselves. As honorable members will appreciate, the method of bounty proposed departs from the current method of an average guaranteed return and instead guarantees a basic rate of bounty. Growers’ actual returns will, as a result, depend on a number of factors, including the import parity price of raw cotton which will determine that part of the return from sales to spinners, the quality of raw cotton produced, distance from ginneries and individual ginnery efficiency.
An annual limit of £2,000,000 on bounty payments is proposed in the bill as it is expected that, at the level of overall production which would be reached before the annual bounty ceiling is pierced, the industry will have reached a level of overall efficiency at which it can accommodate itself to operating at a reducing bounty rate. It would not be expected that the annual ceiling would be reached until the latter part of the five year period covered by the present bill. The Government realizes that, nor.withstanding the impetus which the present proposed bounty should give towards the development of a sound cotton-growing industry in Australia, the maximum development can only be attained and secured if adequate research and extension services are available to growers. With this in mind, I have raised this matter with the appropriate State Ministers and propose to discuss with them at an early date the question of a research and extension services programme commensurate with the rapidly changing circumstances of the industry.
It is intended by the Government that a close watch be kept on the progress of the industry and that, in about the fourth year of the five-year period covered by the present bill, a review of the progress of the industry will be conducted by the Division of Agricultural Economics. Undoubtedly, the future of assistance to the cotton-growing industry after the end of 1968 will be influenced by the result of that review. I am sure honorable members are aware that in recent times there has been a new awareness and a change of approach to cotton growing in Australia. Last year, the only ginneries operating in Australia were in Queensland. This year, new ginneries commenced operations at Wee Waa in New South Wales and at the Ord River in Western Australia and it is expected that additional ginneries will be in operation next year in New South Wales. There has been an influx of experienced growers into new areas, growing under irrigation and willing to invest heavily in the future of cotton growing in Australia. Commercial yields of 2,000 lb. of seed cotton and over have been obtained and expansion is evident.
The Government is convinced that its proposals represent a most reasonable approach and, while inducing a continuation of the expansion of production in the currently more favoured areas, should provide a profitable return for the more efficient Queensland growers and allow the less favoured areas in Queensland sufficient time to adapt to the new conditions in the industry. The opportunity is present for the cotton-growing industry in Australia to develop into a significant part of the rural economy and the Government’s proposals as set out in this bill will permit producers to take advantage of this opportunity. It is my conviction that, in a few years time, a solidly established cotton-growing industry, operating along economic lines, will eventuate. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend certain provisions of the principal act to enable changes in the constitution of the Australian Dairy Produce Board which the board considers to be desirable and necessary in the light of its increasing responsibilities and activities in the marketing of dairy products. Due to these increased activities which have resulted in recent years in the appointment to the board’s staff of a number of executive and technical officers, the board recently sought and obtained the approval of the Public Service Board for a re-organization of its staff structure. Allied to this reorganization is the present proposal of the board for amendment of the dairy legislation, the effect of which will be, first, to abolish the position of the member of the board responsible for the administration of the research and promotion programmes and, secondly, to provide for the appointment of a deputy chairman from among sitting members of the board.
In regard to the first position, in 1958 when legislation was enacted to provide the board with powers to engage in research and sales promotion, a special position on the membership of the board was created for the purpose of co-ordinating all aspects of the research and promotion programmes. The successful implementation of the scheme may be attributed in no small measure to the outstanding administrative ability of the late Mr. Hedley Clark who occupied this position from its creation until his sudden death in April, 1963. The position has since been left vacant and the two sections originally established by Mr. Clark to administer the programmes have been co-ordinated into the new staff structure under the direction of senior executives. As this re-arrangement of administration is functioning satisfactorily under competent executive supervision, the board considers the special position of the member for research and promotion is now no longer necessary.
On the second proposal, because of its increased activities and the growing demand on the chairman, Mr. E. G. Roberts, to attend important overseas conferences, the board has requested that provision be made for the appointment of a deputy chairman from among sitting board members to take over the responsibilities of the position in Mr. Robert’s absences. The principal act in its present form provides only that, in the absence of the chairman from a meeting of the board, the members present shall elect one of those present to preside at that meeting only. The Government is fully aware of the extreme pressure on Mr. Roberts in recent years and feels that the appointment of a deputy chairman will considerably ease the pressure on him as well as ensure continuity of direction of the board’s activities during his frequent absences overseas.
The bill makes provision for the deputy chairman to be appointed by the Minister from among the sitting members of the board and I propose therefore to appoint Mr. J. P. Norton, O.B.E., to the position at the appropriate time. Mr. Norton, who is the representative on the board of co-operative butter and cheese factories of Western Australia, has had a long and distinguished association with the dairy industry and has the necessary knowledge and qualifications for the position. He is a former president of the Australian Dairy Farmers’ Federation and later served as a member of the Dairy Industry Investigation Committee from its inception in 1953 until it was disbanded in 1962. He was honoured some time ago by Her Majesty the Queen for his valuable services to the dairy industry.
The remaining provisions in the bill relate to functions of the deputy chairman in calling and presiding over meetings of the board and the executive committee of the board when the chairman is absent overseas on the business of the board or has been granted leave of absence by the board.
The amendments to the principal act provided in this bill will require complementary amendments also to the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Act 1958 and a separate bill has been drafted for this purpose. I commend the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As I mentioned in my second-reading speech on the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, the Government has been requested by the Australian Dairy Produce Board to abolish by legislation the position of the member of the board responsible for its research and sales promotion programmes.
The purpose of this bill, which is consequential upon the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, is to amend the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Act accordingly. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2105), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– Had the hour not been so late I would have said more on these bills than I now propose to say. I have been waiting since 4 o’clock this afternoon to make this speech. The Government should show more consideration and better manners in the way in which it handles the business of the House. I had no indication that so many second-reading speeches were to be made this evening. It is a little unfair to find measures of such significance as those now before us being treated as the Government is treating them. We have been accommodating to the Government, perhaps more so than the Government deserves. We could have refused to give leave to the Ministers to make any of the speeches that were made this evening. I make that rebuke because I feel a little peeved, to say the least, at having waited here since 4 o’clock to speak on these bills. I suppose we are expected now to carry on the debate until we cease from exhaustion at midnight.
We are assisting the Government by discussing these five bills together. This is a most unusual practice, constitutionally and otherwise. I think the Constitution provides that tax rates and tax assessments are separate principles and should be so treated. Again I raise the caveat that we are doing this only for convenience. I hope that the Government realizes how accommodating we are.
This memorandum bt 83 pages which was presented to the House about midnight two nights ago embraces a number of matters. How wc arc supposed to comprehend the technical subjects referred to in it and to debate intelligently the legislation relating to it is perhaps beyond most of us. The circumstances being what they are, and we being so close to office, I shall not go quite so deeply into some of these matters as 1 otherwise might have done.
The first point to which I should like to direct attention is the Government is continuing for the third tune the 5 per cent, flat reduction in the rates of income tax which have operated in Australia for something like six years. On previous occasions the Opposition has pointed out that this kind of tax reduction is very insignificant for most people, although it may be of some value to others. To bring the record up to date 1 shall quote the figures contained in the most recent report of the Commissioner of Taxation - the 42nd report - which was tabled in this House only yesterday. Taking the figures from the section headed “Taxation Statistics 1961-62”, which deals with incomes derived in the year ended 30th June, 1961, this is the picture that emerges: There were, in round figures, 3,221,000 taxpayers who earned incomes of £1,300 a year - £25 a week - or less. These represented 74 per cent, of all the taxpayers, and they paid 31 per cent, of the total taxes collected. At the other end of the tax spectrum there were 1 10,000 taxpayers who earned incomes of £3,000 a year - £60 a week - or more. These represented 2.5 per cent, of all taxpayers, and they paid almost precisely the same percentage of the total taxes as did the first group to which I referred. Therefore, 2.5 per cent, of the taxpayers - 1 in 40 - whose income was £60 a week derived the same aggregate benefit from this flat rate deduction as did 3,221,000 taxpayers, or three-quarters of the total taxpayers in the Australian community. If that is the Government’s idea of equity in regard to taxation, at least it is not the concept of honorable members on this side of the House. Again we simply record our dissent at this rather class type of legislation, which seems to be typical of the approach of the Government to the problems of the less fortunate sections of the community.
– You do not object to increases going on, do you?
– I merely suggest that this Government has neglected, for a considerable number of years to modify the tax structure properly. This easy device of perpetuating what was introduced as a political gimmick three years ago yields these kinds of results, lt gives, in aggregate, the same benefit to one-fortieth of the taxpayers as it does to three-quarters of the taxpayers, and in the view of this side of the House it is an inequitable way of distributing a tax reduction. If the honorable gentleman prefers this method he can get up and defend it in his own way. I am trying to condemn it in the most effective way open to me at this late hour, and having in mind the disposition of honorable members to listen to my views.
There is another matter I would like to refer to as again indicating the attitude of this Government towards the subject of tax relief and the interests of family groups in the community. What I have in mind is the extension of the taxation concession in respect of education expenses.
– What is wrong with this one?
– Education expenses cover fees paid by taxpayers to schools that their children attend. They also cover fares, books and uniforms. Previously the amount that has been allowed per child has been £100, representing, in round figures, about £2 a week on the average for the cost of the education of each child. One of the concessions that the Government sees fit to extend is by increasing the amount from £100 to £150. This concession may be approved by some people in the community, but I suggest that its benefits extend to very few people.
– We need more.
– Well, we may need more, but again I think we need more equity in this matter. I have a certain amount of experience of this subject, as, no doubt, the honorable member would claim to have, and with the exception of those who send their children to what are considered the more luxurious private schools, I find very few people who are able at present to avail themselves of the full amount of the concession at present available, £100. Again I merely wonder who is supposed to benefit by this extended concession. The average child in the community attends a government school or a State school, at which no fees are payable. The parents of such children can claim the concession in respect only of fares, books and uniforms.
– You are thinking of the younger child.
– I am thinking of the younger child. If the honorable member is thinking of the older child, the child of more than sixteen years, the benefit still applies only to a very limited section of the community, those who are fortunate enough to be able to leave their children at school. But that is not the political intent of this amendment, as the honorable member well knows. He knows that this is supposed to be a sop to some people in the community, and all I am suggesting is that it avails nought some 90 per cent, of the community. Again, if the honorable member is prepared to get up and justify’ this extended benefit that will apply in the case of 10 per cent, of the community or less, tv t it is on his own head to do so. I merely suggest that this extended benefit will mean nothing to the majority of parents of children attending government schools or the Roman Catholic primary and secondary schools, because they do not even now spend the £100 per child that is allowed. People who send their children to schools like Geelong Grammar, Shore school i.i Sydney, and Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, are perfectly at liberty to do so, but in my view it is not the duty of the Government to give them a taxation concession in respect of the large fees that they pay to these luxurious schools. In my view, if a government has money to spend or revenue to forgo, it should spend or forgo it in a way that gives the maximum benefit to the most people in the community. This kind of concession does not achieve that objective.
We do not intend at this stage to oppose the concession. Perhaps the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) or the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) will give us some idea of the number of parents who will bc fortunate enough to benefit from this extended concession. It reminds me of the “ splendid “ extension that was made some years ago in the amount allowable as a deduction for insurance premiums. The amount was extended from £300 to £400 per annum, and we asked on that occasion how many people in the community were able to pay £8 a week out of their incomes for insurance premiums. Now we ask how many parents there are who can pay an average of £2 a week per head for the education of their children, let alone the £3 a week that will now be allowed. Some people will benefit, I am not denying that, but I am suggesting that it will be a very limited section of the community and that the Government could have made a better choice in this matter of taxation concessions.
– A sectional Treasurer.
– It is a sectional piece of legislation, and it is typical of the attitude of this Government. We have seen how they worry about compensating people who own business machines which will have to be converted on the introduction of decimal currency, while they do not worry about people who will be mulcted of a few pennies in their everyday purchases because no appropriate monetary unit has been decided upon.
The other matter to which I wanted to pay a little bit of critical attention is that of the investment allowance which is to be extended to primary producers under the provisions of this measure. My colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) intends to propose an amendment in the committee stage to extend the availability of this investment allowance so that it will cover not only new machinery but also second-hand machinery. I want ‘ i say one or two things about this investment allowance. In my view - and again I say this personally - the investment allowance which has already been extended to manufacturing industry and which it is now proposed to extend to primary industry <s nothing more than a gimmick.
It is not a legitimate device at all. I will explain by illustration why I say that. When you allow depreciation you allow what is normally regarded as capital expenditure to be written off over a period as an allowable deduction for taxation purposes. Once the principle of allowing depreciation is extended, I cannot see any good reason why a businessman should not be allowed to claim the whole cost of a piece of equipment as depreciation immediately, if he so . desires. The point to which I take exception is that he is able to claim more than its actual cost. Basically, that is what the investment allowance enables him to do. It is not a legitimate taxation device at all. It is serving entirely different purposes. This is the purpose that the Treasurer claimed the investment allowance served when he introduced it in respect of. manufacturing plant about two years ago -
In proposing the allowance the Government aims to encourage greater investment in our manufacturing industries and thus ensure, in both the short and the long term, a greater volume of both output and employment, lt seeks also to promote greater efficiency in manufacturing production . . .
This investment allowance was introduced as part of the measures designed to help the economy to recover from the credit squeeze. The Government thought that by providing this allowance it would encourage people to buy plant which otherwise they might not buy, and that that would help to stimulate industry - primarily not in the field that bought the plant but in the field that made it. There might have been justification for that action at that time, but basically it had nothing to do with income tax as such. It was a measure of a different kind.
For the benefit of some honorable members who might not be familiar with the mysteries of big business as it operates in regard to taxation, I point out that the purport of the investment allowance was that it was assumed that a piece of plant, which cost £1,000 and which could be depreciated at a certain rate, cost £1,200 and not £1,000 which was the historical and economic truth. It was also assumed that a business could claim the extra £200 straight away as a taxation deduction. The real effect of that was to give that business a bonus of £200 multiplied by whatever its rate of tax was. The same sort of argument applies to the investment allowance as it is now to be extended to primary producers. I am not so naive as to deny that if you give a gimmick of this kind to people they will be disposed to take it; but I think the community as a whole ought to know what it is and see it for what it is.
This is the point to which I want to direct the attention of the House: The argument for the investment allowance as it was first made to apply to manufacturing plant was that it would stimulate production - primarily not in the industry that bought the machinery but in the industry that made it. The argument used by the Treasurer in his second-reading speech on this legislation, which extends the investment allowance to primary producers, was that it would encourage the farmer to buy plant - I emphasize the word “ plant “; the Treasurer did not say “ new plant “ - which would increase the production or productivity of his farm.
The rural committee of the Labour Party, through its chairman the honorable member for Lalor, will make a suggestion this evening. Some farmers - the poorer farmers, let us say - cannot afford to buy new plant, but they may be able to buy second-hand plant. Why should the investment allowance be denied to such farmers? I will be interested to hear the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), who has just interjected, try to justify that. I have tried to explain to him exactly what the animal is. As far as I can see, if this allowance is extended to primary producers for the reasons advanced by the Treasurer, there is no reason whatever why, if a prudent farmer believes that he can increase his production just as much by buying a second-hand plough or a second-hand harvester as by buying a new plough or harvester, he should not receive the benefit of the investment allowance.
– You know the dangers attached to second-hand equipment, such as the cost of repairs.
– The honorable gentleman is always very willing to advance the : difficulties. I should like to hear the case argued on its merits. I regard the whole mechanism as a gimmick. If the Government is to give an 8 per cent, bonus to a farmer, he will be cautious enough to want to keep it, just as he is cautious enough to want to keep most other bonuses that farmers receive. But why, in equity, should this allowance be given only to the rich farmer who can afford new machinery? Why should it not be given to the smaller farmer who cannot afford new machinery?
Honorable members who claim to represent the farmers in this House might have a look at the taxation statistics in regard to primary producers. The statistics show two very significant facts about farming in Australia. The statistics on pages 108 and 111 of “Taxation Statistics 1961-62” - this very interesting document - show that in the income year ended 30th June, 1961, there were 307,876 primary producers who had taxable incomes, and about half of them had actual incomes - not taxable incomes - of £1,199 or less. That is not a very great sum. It represents about £23 a week.
– What about the other half?
– The other half had larger incomes. All I am suggesting is that the concession, which honorable members opposite will bless in a few minutes, gives a greater advantage the higher the income is.
– No, it does not.
– Yes, it does, because the value of the concession is determined by the rate of tax. If anybody disputes that, I would like to hear him argue the point with the officers who are present, if they could come to the bar of the House and explain the position. I suggest that that point is beyond any doubt. This measure docs bestow the greatest advantage on the man with the highest income. In my view, that is another reason why this gimmick is a bit silly. In a moment I will give an estimate of what this sort of concession will cost, although it is a little difficult to make an estimate. If second-hand machinery is to be bought, is it not likely that it will be bought by the one-half of the farmers whose incomes are less than £1,200 a year? Why should they be denied the benefit of the concession? It will be denied to them because of the way in which the law is written at the moment. We will be interested to see how the honorable member for Gippsland is counted when the vote is taken on the amendment which will be moved. He will be able to state his views on the matter before then.
One rather significant feature of farming in the Australian community is the degree to which it seems to be conducted by partnerships. The statistics show that a considerable number of partnerships are engaged in farming. To get some idea of the likely cost of the investment allowance, I refer honorable members to page 111 of the taxation statistics. The value of depreciable assets purchased during the year by partnership farmers is there set out. For some reason, the comparable statistics for individual farmers are not given. I do not know why. Partnership farmers, according to the statistics, bought during the year 1961-62 depreciable assets worth £96,000,000. If that rate of investment continues, the investment allowance of 20 per cent, will allow partnership farmers to claim tax deductions on about £20,000,000 - one-fifth of £96,000,000. I do not know whether all the depreciable assets covered by the statistics would qualify for the concession. If the average rate of tax paid by the farmers is in the region of 5s. in the £1, the concession, in respect of farming partnerships, is worth about £5,000,000. Partnership farmers account for perhaps more than one-half of the farmers in this country, so the total cost of the investment allowance may be in the region of £8,000,000. The major benefit of the concession will go not to the poor farmers or the struggling farmers but to the wealthier farmers. This seems to me to be a very good warrant for the amendment that will be moved later on by my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), a former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
I have gone into some detail because I think this matter is of some interest. I have always believed that the Parliament ought to know what it is doing, even if it is not always sure why that is being done. What is sought to be done by this measure will be vitiated to some extent because the concession will not cover the people who, in equity, most need it. I refer to the farmers who can afford only second-hand machinery.
It is difficult to understand why the Government did not apply the investment allowance to second-hand machinery. The Treasurer has said that the purpose of the allowance is to increase productivity or production on the farms. If the honorable member for Gippsland, as a wealthy farmer, buys a new plough and does not throw his old plough away but sells it to a less fortunate constituent further down the road, does not the production of the less fortunate constituent rise, even though he uses the second-hand plough? I suggest that production will increase with the second-hand plough in new hands just as much as it will with the new plough in old hands. On the grounds of logic, I can see no reason whatever why the application of the investment allowance should not be extended to the second-hand plough.
Because of the lateness of the hour it is not possible for me to go into all of the matters encompassed by this legislation. Many of them are highly technical. Some relate to oil search in Australia and to concessions for pipelines to carry oil that has not yet been discovered. Nevertheless J suppose they will be of significance somewhere at some time to somebody. We are offering no objections at this stage because we hope in a few months to be writing an income tax act, to cover some of the people who have been neglected by this Government.
I refer again to the three points 1 have chosen. First, the 5 per cent, flat rate reduction of income lax gives the same aggregate benefit to one-fortieth of the taxpayers as it does to three-quarters of them. Secondly, the increase in the education allowance from £100 to £150 will not bc of much advantage to most of the people. Finally, I have posed what seems, to me at least, to be a dilemma. If the Government thinks that the investment allowance is so valuable a method of increasing production on farms, why does it not extend the concession to the people who deserve it most and who probably can afford to buy only second-hand machinery? I leave it at that.
.- The. honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) referred to three aspects of the bill. He said that he was kind to the House in picking on only three, and he spent most of his time in dealing with them. I think it is well to remind all who have listened to the honorable member that he opposed, on behalf of the Labour Party, the 5 per cent, tax rebate, the increase in the allowance for educational expenses from £100 to £150.
– He did not oppose it.
– He did, and he has also opposed the investment allowance. He referred to it as a gimmick. 1 challenge the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and all those who sit in the Opposition, to oppose by vote the legislation which we are presenting. The people of Australia will then know the attitude of the Labour Party in this connexion. 1 am sure that the farmers who heard the honorable member for Melbourne Ports speaking tonight will feel that his attitude is amazing indeed. I am glad that my colleagues in the Country Party are here to reinforce what I have to say. When the farmers hear a spokesman for the Australian Labour Party refer to the investment allowance as a gimmick, and when they think of its value to them, I am sure that they will never forget what was said. The countryman is so often the man who is under pressure because he has to send one, two or more of his children from the country to the city to gain a reasonable education. Has not he found that the education allowance of £ 1 00 per child is inadequate? He will note particularly what has been said on behalf of the Labour Party tonight.
I point out that the bill is quite a substantial income tax bill, lt applies the taxation decisions of the 1963-64 Budget. I suggest to the House that it is importa.it to note that it adopts and implements a high percentage of the recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. It so happens that from time to time in this House we have heard spokesmen for the Opposition accuse the Government of delay in implementing the recommendations contained in this report. It was a comprehensive report which included many proposals which no government could decide, within a matter of months, to adopt and implement. The recommendations contained in it needed a fair amount of research and I point out that, whilst there arc still a number of matters which will be under further consideration by the Government, it is most interesting, on analysis, to find that not less than 50 per cent, of the total number of recommendations contained in the report have now been adopted and implemented by the Menzies Government. I repeat, not less than 50 per cent, of the total number of recommendations contained in the report have been implemented. Like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, my time will permit me to make reference only to a selection of the items contained in this comprehensive bill.
– Thank heavens!
– When the honorable member gets his opportunity perhaps he will cover a few more in the short time at his disposal if he can speak a little faster than I can. lt will be interesting to see whether he will oppose everything as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports did.
In his second-reading speech, my colleague (he Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) wisely underlined that the investment allowance for primary producers was one of the outstanding proposals in this bill. Therefore, we highlight it again notwithstanding what has been said by the spokesman for the Labour Party. It has been pointed out that this investment allowance parallels the provision made by this Government earlier in the interests of the manufacturers of Australia. In purpose it is the same, as the Treasurer has said. It is designed to encourage capital investment that will increase general efficiency in the primary production field as the previous measure undoubtedly has done in the field of manufacture. Australian industry has felt the impact of what this Government did in this connexion with the investment allowance only last year. I do not need to go over the points made by the Treasurer, but I do want to say that this investment allowance should delight the hearts of my colleagues in the Australian Country Party, and it should certainly please every farmer in this vast country.
If we turn to the explanatory notes on this comprehensive bill, I am sure we will find that there are points which adequately answer the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I find that a deduction is to bc available with respect to new, as distinct from second-hand or used, plant, and it will be based on expenditure incurred on or after 14th August of this year. The deduction will be allowable in the assessment of income of the year in which the plant is first used or installed ready for use in the production of assessable income by the primary producer. It is a delight to me to be able to point out that the many poultry farmers on the outskirts of my electorate, and the poultry farmers in all the electorates across Australia, will be classified as primary producers under this bill. The definition includes pastoral pursuits and fishing and pearling operations. It also includes the planting or tending of trees for felling, and the felling of trees in a plantation or forest, and certain transportation of that felled timber.
Coming back to the reference to equipment, let me remind the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that, wisely, the definition provides that it must be new equipment. After all, that is of distinct value to the primary producer. Whether he be a small man coming up or a man who is well established, there is a very distinct encouragement for him to wait, to save, to provide so that he can buy better equipment, the new equipment. This bill points out that the investment allowance will be allowed but once on the item of equipment that is purchased. Second-hand equipment brings with it all the attendant problems. I know that we have to use it. Some of us have bad to use second-hand cars and we all know the troubles we experienced. We were lucky if we had a clear run with a second-hand vehicle. We have only to look at the experiences of the many farmers who,, being forced to buy second-hand equipment, are then involved in large repair bills and in breakdowns. This is not a way to encourage efficiency on the farms. The emphasis is on the investment allowance being available for new equipment, and new equipment only is, in my opinion, basically sound. I am sure the farmers across the country will also recognize that point.
There are two other aspects of the bill which are of interest to the primary producer but, seeing that I represent but a few small primary producers - mainly poultry farmers - I do not think I need dwell on them. I do think it is important to point out, however, that the cost of extending telephone services is a concession which the men in the country will definitely appreciate. Then, too, there is in the bill a provision which affects all primary producers. It is that which relates to the outright deduction in the year of expenditure of the full cost of constructing or altering fences to protect land from the ravages of animal pests. Having said this - I know my colleague from Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) will endorse what I have said - I move on to remind the farmers of Australia that this income tax bill deals with them very kindly, that it gives to them some practical encouragement which I am sure they will not forget. 1 wish to deal now briefly with the private companies engaged in operations throughout Australia and in particular to the provision in the bill for the extension of the retention allowance. The Commonwealth Committee on Taxation made reference in its report to the private companies, and 1 think it wise for me to remind the House of what the committee had to say. It pointed out that representations had been made to it on many occasions to the effect that the retention allowance should bc increased, especially in connexion with trading profits necessarily retained by the smaller companies for the purpose of development and stability. It pointed out that the claim was that the private companies are carrying on a substanial share of our nation’s industries and commercial activities and that therefore development in this sector is very largely dependent upon the ability of the companies concerned to hold back sufficient of their profis to enable them to finance their developmental needs. In its report, the committee said -
Wc accept the view that the needs of private and public companies for a retention allowance are comparable, amf as public companies find it necessary to retain 50 per cent, of net trading profits, private companies should be allowed to retain a similar percentage without incurring any liability for tax on undistributed income.
This recommendation of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation has been adopted by the Government and is embodied in the bill before us. This increase in the permitted retention of profits represents a quite considerable sum and I feel that the nation will feel the impact of this amendment in the next twelve months or two years.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, ais spokesman for the Australian Labour Party, certainly did not like the provision in the bill which increases the allowance for education expenses from £100 to £150. Wc on this side of the House regard this provision as being one of the most sensible encouragements to those people who are prepared to make a sacrifice ir. order to extend educational facilities to their children. Is it not true, Mr. Speaker? Every honorable member in this House knows that Australia is desperate for more young people to advance to higher education and to move on to our universities. Unfortunately, some parents have found that it has been impossible to give their children higher education. One of the ways to assist them to do so is to raise the limit on the allowable deduction for educational expenses, and that is the basic principle behind the Government’s move in this connexion.
Associated with this is a proposal that is very sensible indeed. The ceiling of £150 per person for deductions for medical expenses has been removed altogether. Up to the present time, there has always been a ceiling. Many unfortunate taxpayers who have run into calamities and have had to meet fantastically high hospital expenses and operation costs for themselves, their spouses or their children, have found their savings depleted. In addition, they have found that there was a limit on the deduction that could be claimed when completing their income tax returns. Wisely, the Menzies Government has said, “ We shall remove the ceiling on medical expenses “. This is the first time that a government has done this. I believe that taxpayers generally, whether or not they have ever had the misfortune to have to pay large bills for medical expenses and to be able to claim as deductions only a proportion of them, will say that this is very commendable indeed.
I imagine that most honorable members on the Opposition side of the House, as well as on this side, have received complaints from parents that although their children have won scholarships, the benefit received has been nullified because the value of the scholarship has to be deducted from educational expenses before they are claimed as a deduction. Here again, after the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation has underlined the correctness of what so many of us have recommended in other years, the Government has seen fit to adjust the matter in the necessary way.
I want to move on now to a technical point in the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1963, which affects a specific industry - the timber industry. This bill proposes that persons engaged in the planting or tending of trees for felling, or in felling trees for milling or other processing, shall be regarded as primary producers. It is further proposed - again, based on a recommendation by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation - that expenditure on certain mill buildings and housing for employees shall be deductible on the same basis as expenditure on timber access roads.
I want to point out later that this deduction for timber access roads was introduced into (he tax legislation in 1956. But let me first point out what the committee stated in paragraph 479 of its report. It explained that its attention had been directed to the difficulties that faced the timber industry in those areas where, of necessity, the industry has had to construct mill buildings and housing for employees in what were referred to as “ the logging areas “. The committee pointed out that, in the great majority of such cases, the buildings would be of no value and would be abandoned when the timber stand was exhausted. So the committee stated that in its opinion the buildings would be a wasting asset similar to timber access roads, the cost of which was an allowable deduction under section 124f of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act.
I have mentioned that the bill provides that people who are engaged in planting or tending trees for felling or in felling trees for milling or other processing should be regarded as primary producers. The committee, in paragraph 475 of its report, gave this point such importance that I believe that any sensible government would have found it necessary, in the framing of the recent Budget, to regard the timber industry as a primary industry. In paragraph 475 of the report, the committee stated -
We are of the opinion that, by its very nature, silviculture or tree farming falls truly within the classification of agricultural or pastoral pursuits entailing as it docs the cultivation of the land, and ‘he planting and tending of seedlings.
The committee went on to talk about the regenerative afforestation practices imposed on timber operators and said that in its opinion these practices came sufficiently close to the generally accepted conception of agricultural or pastoral pursuits to warrant inclusion in the classification.
I have mentioned the recommendation of the committee concerning mill buildings out in the forest or logging areas. At this stage, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that the bill will implement the further recommendation that expenditure on certain mill buildings and housing for employees be deductible. The wasting aspect of such construction was clearly underlined by the committee, which embodied in its report a recommendation that the cost of such buildings be allowed as a deduction on the same basis as the cost of timber access roads.
May I say, in the interests of the timber industry, that it is not confined to one State or some small section of Australia, but occurs in all States. Without doubt, this industry is most important to Australia, and some practical assistance to it is fully justified. That is all that we have been recommending in recent years in proposing encouragement for this industry, which, without any shadow of doubt, has had to face considerable difficulties.
It so happens that the bill, as presented, will not fully implement the recommendation that the provision operate on a basis similar to that applied to timber access roads. At this point, Mr. Speaker, I pay tribute to the keenness of my colleagues of the Australian Country Party, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), and my Liberal colleague from Western Australia, the honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill). These honorable members in particular, to my knowledge - there could well be others - have worked very assiduously indeed in the interests of the timber industry.
May 1 outline what we have been endeavouring to achieve. We wanted this legislation to do what was stated in the Budget speech made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in August of this year. We wanted the legislation to be implemented in such a way as to give a real incentive to the timber industry. We wanted it to be free of anomalies, and we believed that we were justified in pointing out that there was an anomaly. May I say that I have had helpful discussions on this point with the Treasurer. I am indeed pleased that the Government has agreed to accept the amendments that have been circulated in my name this evening. I shall submit them at the committee stage at a later hour.
To clarify the position, Mr. Speaker, let me comment on one reference in the principal act to access roads and on the proposed amendments with respect to mill buildings and housing for employees. I have already mentioned that the deduction for timber access roads was introduced bac1.: in 1956 under section 124f of the act. The purpose of the provision for access roads was to grant a sinking fund deduction in respect of the cost of such roads used in the timber industry. The allowance takes the form of annual deductions in respect of the capital expenditure over the estimated period during which the road will be used for the purpose of providing access to a stand of timber. A period of 25 years is taken to be the maximum life of the access road. Any lesser period as the estimated life of the road may, of course, be used. Thus, each year a residual value is calculated and upon that residual value the sinking fund deduction is estimated for the purposes of the industry’s deduction. This residual capital expenditure is ascertained by deducting from the total capital expenditure the sum of the deductions allowed under section 124f of the act from the assessable incomes of previous years of income or which would have been allowed had the allowance applied to those years.
These are the provisions, Mr. Speaker, which are to be lifted from the existing legislation dealing with timber access roads and now to be applied to mill buildings and employee housing under this bill.
– It is straight out of Labour’s policy.
– I know nothing of its being in Labour’s policy. The honorable member for Wilmot is being very hopeful when he makes that suggestion.
The passage of the bill with the amendments that 1 propose to move will ensure that the timber industry will benefit to the full extent of the Budget speech made by the Treasurer. The Budget speech was the initial announcement of these deductions, and these amendments and the bill to which we are now speaking will implement a very splendid deduction that will be a means of encouraging the timber industry. The whole of the bill, in my opinion, is splendid, as I have tried to show by picking out only a few items. I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that we have inadequate time to deal fully and fairly with such a comprehensive bill. The Government has this time amended the legislation in so very many constructive ways that one would need the period of many speeches adequately to express one’s satisfaction with what has been done. The bill assists greatly in the adjustment of the taxation laws, removes anomalies that we found to exist and grants additional common-sense concessions to very many people indeed. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased indeed to support the bill, which has been presented by the Treasurer. I compliment him on a very broad and interesting secondreading speech. 1 am particularly grateful that the Government has harkened to *he representations of other honorable members and myself with reference to the amendments dealing with the concessions to the timber industry.
.- The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) said that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) had said that the Australian Labour Party was opposed to this legislation.. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said nothing of the sort. He said that the Australian Labour Party would not oppose the legislation, but he pointed out that this Government’s amendments of the taxation laws were generally slanted in the interests of the wealthy and particularly in the interests of the very wealthy. He pointed out that the reduction of income tax by a flat S per cent., which was granted by the Government previously and continued for this year, gave the person with a big income a reduction that was equal to an increase in his income of several pounds a week, but gave the man in receipt of a small income an increase of only 9d. or ls. a week.
It is a sound principle of taxation (hat those who are able to pay should pay, that a person should pay in accordance with his ability to pay and in accordance with his income. A similar argument applies to the concessional allowances granted by this Government. The honorable member for Swan unctuously said, “ Here is a government that is seeking to help the family man by giving him a concession of £150 for educational purposes “.
– Does not the worker send his child to college?
– Yes, and so does the man with an income of £16,000 a year. The man with an income of £16,000 a year pays 13s. 4d. in the £1. An allowance of £150 to him means a return of £100 a year or £2 a week for every child that he sends to a college. The man on £3,000 a year pays 6s. 8d. in the £1 and receives £50 a year or £1 a week for every child he sends to college. The man on £1,000 a year or £20 a week receives about £12 a year for every child he sends to a college or similar school. The honorable gentleman said in an unctuous way that the Government uses this method to help the family man. That is utter humbug and hypocrisy. If the Government wants to help the family man, it should give the man on £16,000 a year a concession worth £12 a year for every child he sends to college and it should give the man on £1,000 a year or £20 a week a concession worth £100 a year or £2 a week for every child he sends to college. That would be equity, justice, humanitarianism and the promotion of the interests of the family man. Wc cannot expect the Government, representative of the wealthy and kept in office by the wealthy as it is, to legislate in this way.
This position also obtains with the allowance granted to the primary producer for his investments in implements and goods of that sort. The wealthy man who pays 13s. 4d. in the £1 receives a much bigger reduction - almost an immense reduction - on the value of implements he purchases compared with the small, struggling farmer who receives £1,100 a year, and 50 per cent, of our primary producers have an income as low as that.
– How many farmers receive £16,000 a year?
– 1 do not know how many farmers receive £16,000 a year, but apparently the honorable member for Wimmera agrees with me that those who are in receipt of the biggest incomes should not be given the biggest advantage and that the function of government should not be to grease the fatted pig. But that is what this proposition does. 1 will tell the honorable gentleman how to promote the interests of families in this community and to help those people with small incomes who send their children to primary and secondary schools, if he wants me to do so. He could say that the man who pays income tax at the rate of 13s. 4d. in the £1, and who at present derives a benefit of about £100 a year because of the concessional allowance for his wife, should not obtain any greater benefit in this regard than is obtained by the man on the basic wage, whose benefit, because of the concessional allowance for his wife, amounts to no more than a few shillings a week.
The Government’s attitude towards allowances for children is similar to its attitude towards the allowance for a wife. Apparently in the Government’s view the children of the wealthy are more important than the children of the poor. When governments set out to help people, what classes of people do they help? If they are governments of the type represented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) they help the wealthy. If they are Labour governments they help the people who are most in need of help; they help the people on small incomes.
I do not want to speak at great length. I think I have made my point sufficiently clear for it to be understood even by the honorable member for Swan, who mutilated the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I am reminded that the honorable member for Swan is sometimes referred to as the mutilator, although that is not a kindly reference.
The honorable member for Swan referred to what is called the retention allowance. He pointed out that private companies pay tax on a proportion of their undistributed profits. But public companies, of course, do not pay tax on undistributed profits. It is the wealthy section of the community which invests in these companies. A vast amount of money is involved in undistributed profits. I propose to cite to the House some of the latest profit results as reported in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 16th October and 23rd October this year. In 1959 the earning rate of the Myer Emporium Limited was 31.1 per cent. and it paid a dividend of 162/3 per cent. In 1960 its earning rate was 31.6 per cent. and it paid a dividend of 18½ per cent. In 1961 its earning rate was 27.2 per cent. and it paid a dividend of 162/3 per cent. In 1962 its earning rate was 29.4 per cent and it paid a dividend of 162/3 per cent. In 1963 its earning rate was 31.4 per cent. and it paid a dividend of 162/3 per cent.
In 1962 the earning rate of the W. Watson company was 20.4 per cent. and it paid a dividend of 12½ per cent. In 1963 the earning rate was 19.7 per cent. and a dividend of 12½ per cent. was paid. In 1962 the earning rate of Dwyers Motors was 45.9 per cent. and a dividend of 10 per cent. was paid. In 1963 the earning rate was 52.3 per cent. and the dividend was 10 per cent. In 1962 the earning rate of Optical Industries was 24.4 per cent. and the dividend paid was 121 per cent. In 1963 the earning rate was 26.7 per cent. and the dividend was 121 per cent. In 1962 the earning rate of Carlton Investments was 50 per cent. and the dividend was 10 per cent. In 1963 the earning rate was 49.7 per cent. and the dividend was 10 per cent.
What is the significance of the figures so far as they relate to the Myer Emporium Limited? If I had £10,000 invested in that company I would draw about £1,600 every year. In the period for which I gave details I would get between £8,000 and £9,000, but in addition undistributed profits invested in my name with the company would amount to between £7,000 and £8,000. Those are reasonable amounts for a moneylender to obtain. After all, shareholders in such undertakings are nothing more than moneylenders. They lend their money and obtain exorbitant profits, almost half of which are not subject to taxation because the money is re-invested in the industry in which the original investment is made. But if an ordinary member of the community wanted to invest £3,000 that he had earned by personal exertion, his income would be taxed before any of it could be invested in the Myer company or any other company.
This Government looks after the wealthy at all times. It looks after the investments in industry and the taxation allowances of its wealthy friends. Taxation concessions granted in respect of machinery used in primary and secondary industries benefit only the wealthy. The Government’s handling of the taxation laws is slanted in the interests of the wealthy. It certainly is not slanted in the interests of Australia’s development or the expansion of her industries any more than it is slanted in the interests of the welfare of the relatively poor section of the community. If taxes were levied properly, the people who earn dividends from industries in which they take no part would pay a higher rate of tax than the person whose only income is derived from personal exertion. My sympathies are with the man whose sole income is derived from personal exertion, whether that man is paid £10,000 a year as manager of a big undertaking, £6,000 a year as head of a government department or the relatively low figure of £1,500 a year as an ordinary worker. In any community that seeks to expand its industries and to ensure markets for its products a higher rate of taxation should bc levied on incomes derived from investments than is levied on incomes derived solely from personal exertion.
When I first entered the Parliament in 1949 I listened to honorable members opposite who said that they would introduce legislation to deal with excess profits. They talked about such legislation for quite a number of years. Sir Arthur Fadden, who was formerly the Treasurer, pointed out not once but on at least a dozen occasions that an excess profits tax was needed. I presume it was he who included in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the parliament, the reference to the intention of the Government to introduce it, but that was not done. The Government favours only those who are its supporters - those who have big incomes.
The three propositions contained in the measure before us, on which a lot more could bc said are all part and parcel of the political activities of this Government. This is the method by which the Government helps most the people who are best able to help themselves. This is the method by which those who are less able to help themselves get less support from the Government.
I do not want to lake up any further time. 1 think I have said enough to show that the unctuous members on the other side of the House indubitably slant all their taxation legislation, as they slant every other operation of - government in this country, in the interests of the big, wealthy section of the community.
.- The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) has again shown the Australian Labour Party’s attitude to all business interests and private enterprise in the community by attacking them so vigorously. He should remember that it is private enterprise business and the rural industries of this country which employ the work force about which he claims so unctiously to be worrying. This Government has a record as good as that of any which this country has had in regard to the work force.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who said the 20 per cent, investment allowance on machinery would help only the wealthy farmers, advanced the same argument about the 20 per cent, investment allowance as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr Pollard) raised in this House a few nights ago. That is not the case at all. I can speak as one who is quite experienced in using secondhand machinery and I know that the benefit of this investment allowance will be felt by the small farmer. Any farmer who is w.:se enough to know that he can get 120 per cent, back in five years realizes that that is good business.
This legislation will do as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said, that is, help the small farmer buy new machinery to increase his productivity and efficiency and do belter. This legislation will help many farmers to get out of the rut. The 20 per cent, investment allowance granted by this Government will tend further to reduce the price of second-hand machinery and make it easier for the farmer to buy an extra piece of second-hand machinery. It will be cheaper, because of the investment allowance.
I want to address my remarks to-night to the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) with regard to the timber industry. That industry is vital to the Gippsland electorate. I have here the latest figures on production, which show that Gippsland produces nearly half of Victoria’s total timber requirements. To show how important the Gippsland timber industry is, I point out that my electorate produces as much timber as the total production of Western Australia and South Australia together. That will give honorable members some idea of the value of this industry to Gippsland.
– It is a very important electorate.
– It is a very important electorate indeed. The value of the industry is that it is truly decentralized; it is to be found in many corners of my electorate. I suppose the industry in other States also is truly decentralized. The timber industry has deserved and received assistance from this Government, which has recognized its value to community life in small towns throughout the areas concerned. The Government has shown a keen desire to assist the industry by agreeing to accept the amendments foreshadowed by the honorable member for Swan to the depreciation provisions, granting ammortization allowances prospectively from the date of the introduction of this legislation. This will bring great benefit to Victoria, where the policy of the Forests Commission has been to establish mills only where they can be guaranteed some continuity of life through the availability of logs. It can be said that the majority of the bush has been allocated in Gippsland and there is very little chance of more mills being established. What I have said is a fair and general assessment of the situation. This legislation would permit mill owners to claim the depreciation allowance on the balance of the life of their buildings and therefore, would benefit the industry. Without these amendments the industry in Victoria would gain little benefit from the legislation. I congratulate the Treasurer on having agreed to accept the amendments and on having accepted the plea I made in regard to this matter the other day.
One misgiving I have is prompted by the policy of the Victorian Forests Commission which forces mills to build their houses in and around townships. There are many logical reasons for this. Firstly, the 1939 bush fires brought home to the commission the danger to life and property if people are permitted to build in a scattered fashion throughout the State forests. Furthermore, the necessary services such as electricity, ordinary shopping, education, water supply and other modern amenities are all needed if the timber industry is to attract the type of employees it wants and which it gets as a result of this policy. The trouble is that this legislation is not designed to cover that type of situation - rather to the contrary. Mill buildings and houses in Victoria, constructed in places laid down by the commission law, may not be eligible for the concessions announced by the Government. This is because the concessions are designed to encourage mill ownership in remote areas, but there will be trouble with the definition in this regard as many small settlements have in fact become small towns and arc not necessarily in forest areas although they may be adjacent thereto.
Mansfield is a typical case and there are places such as Cabbage Tree, which may or may not be said to be built adjacent to forest areas, but which are fundamentally sawmilling towns or villages and, if the supply of logs ran out, the houses would have no re-sale value. The criticism is that the first criterion is that the mills must be situated in the forest becomes more difficult to define when we look at places like Heyfield and Swifts Creek. Those townships are in a substantially rural area, but consist in the main of mill houses. If the mills closed because of lack of log supply, there would be little or no re-sale value in the houses in those areas. Their situation is completely different from that of mill buildings in townships like Bairnsdale, where there would be a considerable re-sale value. For this reason I believe it is essential that the Commissioner of Taxation be given scope to consider situations like the ones I have mentioned. If that is not done, the legislation will be of little value to Victoria because of the State laws.
If by chance the commissioner gives the depreciation allowance to a mill in a small village, because it is in a forest area, and the capital value is written off over a period of 25 years and during that time some unexpected development of the area takes place, the commission may find that the mill houses suddenly have a re-sale value. The commissioner then has the right to recover by tax on the sale that proportion of equity in the building gained by the mill owner and already claimed in depreciation. Surely this fact relieves the commissioner of any fear of being over generous in interpretation.
There is a danger also in another circumstance. In Bruthen, a substantially rural area, there are two sawmills. One is situated in the railway yard, within the defined area of the town. This mill may not gain the benefit of this legislation. The other mill is further up the highway and just outside the township boundary. This mill would probably gain the benefit because it could be said to be in the forest area. The anomaly in this case is particularly apt because in a township like Bruthen it is not likely that either group of mill houses would have any resale value. My contention, therefore, is that the main criterion for the granting of the depreciation allowance should be whether the mill is built in such a place that there would be a resale value in the mill houses, particularly if the commissioner has power to tax a sale because of unexpected developments that suddenly put value on the buildings. The law as written in proposed section 1.24 ja contains these words -
By interpretation, 1 gather this to mean that mills must be “situated in a forest”. I hope the commissioner will not be bound to use the State definition of “ forest area “ when interpreting this law. If the Victorian Deputy Commissioner of Taxation uses the boundaries of State forests as defined, this Commonwealth legislation will bc practically useless to Victorian industry. 1 for one do not think that Commonwealth legislation introduced in an endeavour to assist a decentralized industry should be affected by State law, particularly when much of the land covered in forests in Victoria is controlled by the Lands Department and by private owners. Secondly, I interpret “ situated in a forest and in or adjacent to the area” to mean that even though the mill buildings could be in the forest the actual felling area would need to be close to the mill. A mill in my electorate of which I have knowledge probably would be in the forest but the logging area would be at least 20 miles away. 1 know that 1 can rely on the commonsense interpretation of this aspect by the commissioner. If the commissioner could not be relied upon to do this the legislation would be without purpose. Of course the aim of this legislation is for the Commonwealth Government to assist this decentralized industry.
Finally, let me say that I am delighted that the Treasurer and the Government have accepted my representations along with those of the honorable member for Swan - who will propose certain amendments in the committee stage - and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). If a common-sense interpretation is given to the provision relating to forests this bill will prove to be of immense value to the timber industry. .
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) who have already participated in the debate on these bills have expressed the view, which I share, that the Government is a sectional government and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is a sectional Treasurer. By that wc mean that all their efforts are devoted to the wealthy section of the community. This is evident in the Government’s proposals for investment allowances on farm machinery. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports pointed out that 50 per cent, of farmers earn less than £1,200 a year, about £2.1 a week, and that the wealthy farmers, not those in the lower income bracket, will reap the greatest benefit from this legislation. Why is not the investment allowance granted to farmers in the lower income bracket who purchase second-hand machinery?
The Government’s proposal to continue the 5 per cent, reduction in income tax represents another handout to the sectional interests which the Treasurer and his colleagues represent. Each year the Taxation Branch pays out £30,000,000 as a result of this rebate. About £14,500,000 goes to 90 per cent, of the taxpayers, who earn £29 a week or less, and the remaining £15,500,000 goes to 10 per cent, of the taxpayers, who are in the top income brackets. That is another reason why we criticize this Government for being a sectional government. Bank deposits are at an all-time high because the wealthy are putting their money in the banks. They have not enough faith in our economy to keep their money in circulation. I hope that the Treasurer will be patient with me when I again raise a matter which 1 have already mentioned on two occasions. I refer to the questionnaire which was Km by Mr. R. R. Gray, Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales, to clubs in that State. This matter was first raised on 16th October during question time by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine). I then raised it during the debate on the estimates for the Treasury and again in a question on 22nd October. I make it quite clear that in no way do I contend that Mr. Gray is not carrying out the provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act, but I should like to know why this questionnaire has been sent out at this time, and only to clubs in New South Wales.
I know that clubs in New South Wales arc perhaps more prosperous than are clubs in other States, but surely the Treasurer knows that there are prosperous clubs in other States. No doubt the Treasurer himself is a member of man’y prosperous clubs which are situated in New South Wales. He should be aware also that clubs, whether in New South Wales or in other States, have never abided by some of the provisions of the act. I challenge the Treasurer to declare himself on this issue. One section of the letter from the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation which is most disturbing to clubs in New South Wales is in these terms -
Because of the principle of mutality, income derived by a club from transactions with its members is not assessable for income’ tax purposes. However, income derived from sources other than club members, such as income from investments and non-members, is so assessable.
I stress that I am not protesting against income tax being levied on profits derived from investment. If a club is wealthy enough to invest its funds the Taxation Branch should tax that investment. In fact I would like to see the Government guide investments by clubs into certain directions. I protest at the action which has been taken on this occasion and I challenge the Treasurer to express his views on it. I have asked him to do so on several occasions in the House but he seems reluctant to make a public statement. The clubs in New South Wales to which we are referring, whether they be returned soldiers’ clubs, football clubs, bowling clubs or workmen’s clubs are all co-operative affairs, a kind of community interest, and they should not be taxed on the estimated profit made from visitors and non-members.
The activities of clubs in the post-war era, particularly in New South Wales, represent a success story. People within a community got together, formed these communitylike clubs and joined in fellowship with their neighbours. I know that there have been abuses in some cases, and the clubs know that they will have to restrict certain activities. No one denies that. We know that certain clubs have become prosperous but many clubs not. only in New
South Wales but throughout Australia are struggling. This movement towards clubs is a good thing. It brings people together in a community spirit. Clubs are nonprofitmaking organizations. I know that in the outer suburbs of Sydney and in country areas clubs have given good service and leadership to the community. They have assisted youth organizations. We know that we have in our affluent society a great problem of delinquency. These clubs are creating new centres and encouraging young people to go into gymnasiums. One club in my area built a complete new centre for the youth of the district out of the funds derived from its activities. Only a few weeks ago, a club planted an avenue of advanced trees in order to beautify the district. Many clubs have assisted in the improvement of parks. Others have assisted aged people. One club in my district gives a Christmas dinner each year. Other clubs make scholarships and books available to schools. They assist also by the provision of sporting equipment and other material which the schools cannot purchase themselves and which this Government will not assist them to purchase. Yet it is now proposed to tax these clubs by implementing provisions of our Taxation law which have not previously been enforced.
The Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, in his letter, has stated that deductions from assessable income are allowable in respect of gifts to funds and institutions covered by section 78(1.) (a) of the act. The Treasurer will know that gifts to local charities cannot be claimed as deductions for income tax purposes. Due, apparently, to criticisms which have been levelled in this House by the honorable member for East Sydney and me, the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, Mr. Gray, has made a statement which was published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ to-day. He has been reported as follows: - “ Quite a number of clubs, especially licensed clubs, are doing some trade outside their own members,” he said. “ Members bring guests along, and that kind of thing, and if the non-members use the facilities of the’ club and some profits flow from this, and if the club has some investments from its surplus funds, these are items of assessable income”.
Surely the Treasurer is aware that visitors are admitted to the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, for instance. I challenge the Treasurer to show that income tax has been paid on any profit derived from the admission of visitors to that club. Many clubs admit visitors. Surely it is a good aspect of club life that members can bring visitors into a friendly atmosphere so that people may get to know one another. When people get together in this way it breeds tolerance. Surely the world needs a great deal of tolerance. You have never heard me criticize you, Mr. Treasurer.
– Order! The honorable member will address the Chair.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, you have never heard me criticize one of the Treasurer’s jaunts overseas. I favour his meeting people at overseas conferences because such contacts tend to break down differences between nations. No matter how much the Treasurer knows, he must learn a little from time to time when he meets people at international conferences. Now that the Treasurer is, in the chamber I should like to tell him that he should be well informed on this matter because Opposition speakers have given him information concerning it. I should like him to answer the following questions: Has the letter to which I have referred been sent to clubs in States other than New South Wales? Has any club in Australia ever complied with the provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act by disclosing profits made from nonmembers or visitors? I direct the Minister’s attention to that portion of the letter in which the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation stated -
There is no record in this office of returns of income having been received from your club.
This is a circular letter which has been sent to all clubs in New South Wales. It continues - . . your early advice on the matter in the light of the information given above will be appreciated. If your club is in receipt of assessable income and does not fall within the exempting provision mentioned, a return of income for the year ended 30th June, 1963, on Company Return form C should be furnished by 8th November, 1963.
It seems that the clubs have never furnished this return. Clubs in New South Wales should not be the sole recipients of an instruction such as this. They may be a little more prosperous than other clubs but if they are to comply with these requirements, clubs in other States also should have to comply with them. I want the Treasurer to inform me whether the clubs will have to pay tax on profits derived from visitors in past years.
Will the Treasurer make inquiries to ascertain whether the Australian Hotels Association has requested that the letter of the income tax law should be enforced with respect to clubs? I know that the hotels association in New South Wales has been putting pressure on the Taxation Branch, and it is most likely that the association wants the branch to dot the association’s i’s and cross its t’s. The Government should give consideration to the question of whether this instruction by the Taxation Branch is to be enforced. The income tax law has never been enforced in the past in this respect. Why does the branch intend to enforce it now? I want the Government to declare whether it will support the Taxation Branch.If the law is to be enforced in this respect, will the Government make sure that it is enforced throughout the length and breadth of Australia?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a third time.
Friday, 25th October 1963.
Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2109), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 14 - by leave - taken together, and agreedto.
After section sixty-two aa of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “62ab. - (1.) In this section - goods ‘ includes live stock; new ‘ means not having previously been cither used by any person or acquired or held by any person for use by that person. “ (4.) Subject to this section, where the taxpayer has, on or after the fourteenth day of August, one thousand nine hundred and sixtythree, incurred expenditure of a capital nature (not being expenditure incurred in pursuance of a contract entered into before that date) on a new unit of property to which this section applies, there shall be allowed as a deduction from his assessable income of the first year of income during which that unit is either used for the purpose of producing assessable income or installed ready for use for that purpose and held in reserve an amount equal to one-fifth of that expenditure.
.- I move -
In proposed section 62ab (1.) omit “‘new’ means not having previously been either used by any person or acquired or held by any person for use by that person.”.
In its present form the clause completely shuts out, in respect of a claim for an investment allowance, that section of primary producers who, from time to time, find it profitable, and even essential, to purchase, if the opportunity presents itself, second-hand agricultural implements. I know that the Treasury officials and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) himself have absolutely no knowledge of farm machinery and the practices indulged in by farmers in Australia in equipping their farms.
– I was brought up on a farm.
– Well, anything you learned then you have long since forgotten; otherwise you would not be fostering this clause of the bill. My colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has already pointed out that fewer than 50 per cent. of farmers in Australia to-day have a net income of more than £1,200 per annum. It so happens that farmers who are without adequatemeans, and to whom the raising of loans presents a difficult problem, find it convenient, profitable and sometimes necessary to purchase second-hand machinery.
There is an important distinction to drawn between the purchase of second-hand farm machinery and the purchase of new plant for secondary industry, which has become the accepted practice sincethe introduction of the investment allowance. The purpose of the concession in respect of new plant for secondary industry is to encourage the removal of old, outmoded processing machinery. There is practically no demand for second-hand machinery of that kind. It is profitable to dispose of such machinery and install more efficient plant of modern design. In secondary industry the trade in second-hand plant ispractically nil, with the odd exception, perhaps,of engineers’ machine tools and equipment of that kind.
But a different situation exists in relation to machinery used on Australian farms. This applies particularly to the battlers. There are many farmers who would never have survived if they had not been able, during their early struggles, to purchase second-hand farm machinery at clearing sales. Such sales are held at various places throughout this country, and usually first-class second-hand machinery is offered. If for instance, a modern tractor that has done a relatively small amount of work can be purchased by a struggling farmer for £800, it obviates the necessity for him to purchase a new tractor at £1,200. The second-hand tractor and the new tractor may be of the same model, and the only difference may be that the new one has six months’ or twelve months’ more life expectancy than the second-hand one. Why should not the farmer who buys that second-hand tractor be given the benefit of the investment allowance which the Government has determined should apply only to the purchase of new machinery? This provision imposes a hardship on a most deserving section of the Australian agricultural community.
I frankly admit that if a farmer is wellcashed, if he has had some good fortune that enables him to buy new agricultural machinery, he is probably wise to do so, but I say frankly to members of this chamber that I would not have survived as a soldier settler, but would have gone the same way as 4,000 soldier settlers went in the years after World War L, if I had not been able to purchase second-hand farm machinery. Some of that machinery I used for more than twenty years, and it was still in good order when I parted company with it. Does the Government insist on depriving farmers in similar circumstances of the benefits of the investment allowance that is available to the more fortunate farmers who are well-cashed and who have the means to enable them to go to machinery manufacturers and buy brand-new agricultural implements? If so it will accentuate the unfortunate distinction that already exists between the opportunities available for the poor man and those available for the rich man. lt is all very well for the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) to ridicule the suggestion that I made in connexion wilh this matter in the Parliament a week ago. The honorable member was fortunate enough to be born of wealthy parents. He has forgotten the struggles of his pioneer ancestors.
– Oh, knock it off.
– He has forgotten them.
-It’s a bit late in the night for heroics.
– Never mind about it being late in the night. I am availing myself of the right to express a point of view with which 1 guarantee 90 per cent, of the farming population would agree. A man is a fool who buys a brand-new machine when he has the opportunity to buy one equally as efficient, with almost the same life expectancy, at a clearing sale for, say, £500 less or even £200 less. People of inadequate means who have done this have frequently had to file their schedules and walk off their properties without a shirt to their backs. What this Government is doing, despite the early experience of the Treasurer, who claims to have been born on a farm-
– I did not say I was born on a farm.
– Well, you had a look at one, took fright and disappeared to seek an easier mode of life. The Treasurer simply docs not realize the injustice of this measure.
– I spent a lot of time on a farm as a boy.
– It did not do you any good.
– That is a matter of judgment.
– You will not side-track me up a lane by getting me to argue about whether or not it did you any good. The fact remains that what you are doing is a relatively wicked thing and it will be remembered by a deserving section of the Australian farming community. Do not make any mistake about that. You are conferring a very substantial advantage on the agricultural machinery manufacturers of Australia, because this provision will bring grist to their mills.
– Does it not give employment?
– I expected that interjection. The honorable gentleman who made it is not concerned about giving employment.
– Oh, no, of course not.
– Of course he is not concerned about giving employment. He is concerned about the vote that he will cast on this amendment that I have moved. By his antagonism to it he will be expressing his complete lack of interest in his less fortunate fellow man. He is in the same fortunate position as the honorable member for Gippsland is in. He is the inheritor of the estates of his ancestors. He has never known what it is to be short of a pound or a shilling. He is able to go to the firms that manufacture or sell new agricultural machinery and pay cash for a brand new implement. He is completely oblivious to the needs of the people who have not had the opportunities that he has had.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The rural community of this country has welcomed the budget provisions made by this Government in recent years. More has been done by this Government, during its life, to make available to the man on the land amenities, taxation concessions, encouragement and incentive than was done by any earlier government in the history of this nation. The matter which is now put forward - I suspect at least substantially for political purposes - has not been the subject of any agitation of which 1 have been made aware. 1 believe most people who have learned of this concession know that its purpose is to encourage the farming community to purchase the most modern and efficient equipment available. The Government has given members of the farming community a taxation incentive to do that.
If second-hand plant were admitted - wc carefully studied that question in respect of manufacturing equipment, as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) reminded us - the allowance could repeatedly be claimed in respect of the same plant and machinery and the way would be opened for exploitation of the allowance. It is not unreasonable to suggest that there would be much more likelihood of that plant turning over a number of times amongst farmers than there would be in the case of plant in manufacturing establishments, where the transfer of plant from one establishment to another would bc a more involved and much less frequent operation. If second-hand plant were permitted to qualify, the same item of plant could be subject to the allowance an indefinite number of times in the hands of successive owners. As I have said, the exclusion of second-hand plant is. consistent with the policy adopted in respect of the allowance introduced last year for manufacturers.
I do not think the honorable gentleman makes bis case stronger by pointing out that the manufacturer has very large equipment and the farmer has much smaller equipment. That only makes it more likely for the plant to be turned over on a number of occasions. Apart from those considerations, the clear-cut and important aim of the allowance is to encourage the use of the most modern plant in order to improve productivity and efficiency. In the generality of cases that can best bc achieved by new plant rather than by equipment which is not so up-to-date. We carefully considered the position of second-hand plant when we came to our decision.
I regret that on this matter, as on a number of others raised in the course of the second-reading debate, honorable gentlemen opposite have reverted to the kind of quite unworthy and certainly unwarranted attack which puts all of these matters on a class-conscious basis. That is not the attitude of the honorable gentlemen on the Government side of the chamber, who come from all sections of the community and have all ranges of income, as do honorable gentlemen opposite. When honorable gentlemen opposite start talking about wealthy representatives in this chamber I point out that I know a few of them who could buy and sell 90 per cent, of honorable gentlemen on the Government side with considerable ease.
We have looked at all of these taxation matters with the objective of trying to deal fairly and impartially with all sections of the community. Our goal has been the greatest interest of the Australian community, the greatest encouragement to its development and the incentive that will encourage people to give of their best, to take risks and to go about their business in an enterprising way. Our attitude may help farmers in one situation. It may help private entrepreneurs in the manufacturing industries in another situation. In some circumstances it may help the seasonal worker or the person who is working overtime. Whatever the circumstances may be, the taxation law of this country has been designed to deal evenly, fairly and in a balanced way with all sections of the community.
I repudiate the charge that has come from members of the Opposition to-night, namely that wc are setting out in some quite unworthy fashion to favour a particular and limited section of the community. It offends one’s common sense to have to receive that charge. How long would a government endure if that were the judgment of it that was made by the great majority of the Australian electors? I believe, on the evidence of our long period of office, that most Australians have fairly concluded that we do try to represent all sections of the people. We may not be without criticism on individual items of policy; but, taking the broad view of our approach, I am sure that people will acknowledge that we have attempted to deal evenly and fairly with all sections of the community.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish to take my second period now.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Lalor that as he intends to move another amendment, if he speaks now he will have to ask for leave to move that amendment.
– I do not mind doing that.
– Cut it short.
.I will be as short as I can. The Treasurer was as long as he could be under the circumstances. I regret that when any member of the Opposition puts up a case for a concession for the less fortunate section of the community he has to be accused by the Treasurer of placing the debate on a class-conscious basis. What a weak attitude’. That is no excuse and it is not a satisfactory explanation of why the Government will not accept the amendment.
– I gave you that, too.
– Pipe down for a minute. I did not interrupt you. Why are you so irritable? Let us look at the difficulties which the Treasurer says would be in the way of implementing this amendment if it were agreed to. He tells us blandly that this investment allowance could be claimed repeatedly and that the way would be opened for exploitation. Let me inform the right honorable gentleman - if he does not know this already, he ought to know it - that, in the operation of the depreciation allowance section of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act, on numerous occasions second-hand farm machinery is purchased and depreciation is allowed on that machinery just as it is allowed on new farm machinery. There is no difficulty about that. There is no abuse. For instance, if you have a perfectly good implement which has proved unsatisfactory for your purpose and in respect of which you have claimed a depreciation allowance, you may sell it. On your income tax teturn following the sale an adjustment is made to deprive you of the depreciation allowance you had received. Exactly the same administrative principle can be applied to the investment allowance. If you have been the recipient of the investment allowance for agricultural machinery which you have later sold, the sale of the machinery is included in your income tax return. The
Commissioner of Taxation adjusts your depreciation allowance in respect of the transaction that has taken place.
The point I have made destroys utterly the naive argument of the Treasurer about the dangers of abuse and the other dangers he referred to when he said that we would pave the way to exploitation by trading in this sort of machinery. Dealers who go to clearing sales and buy agricultural implements cannot claim the investment allowance because they are not primary producers. They are not entitled to claim the investment allowance because it is limited strictly to primary producers. The Treasurer has talked a lot of nonsense about encouraging primary producers to buy new and up-to-date agricultural machinery. His argument is completely beside the point because any intelligent primary producer who has ample funds prefers a new implement, as a rule, to a second-hand one. It is obvious. But if his means are limited and he has the opportunity to buy agricultural machinery which a neighbour has found unsatisfactory for his purposes, he may buy it by private trade or at a clearing sale. Because of the Government’s stubborn refusal to accept my amendment, he cannot claim the investment allowance on that machinery. A careful and shrewd farmer reads the advertisements of the district agricultural sales. If something good is offered for sale within a radius of 100 miles, he is off to the sale. He may buy second-hand machinery which will serve his purpose just as efficiently as new machinery. But he cannot claim the investment allowance on it.
To state those facts in an endeavour to persuade the Treasurer to accept the amendment is surely not making a class attack or indulging in class-conscious tactics.
– That is what you did to me.
– All I did to two members in the Country Party who were rude enough to interject while I was speaking was to point out that they were bora with silver spoons in their mouths and had forgotten-
– Do not be personal.
– There is nothing personal about it. I am not casting aspersions upon these honorable gentlemen, and many more like them, for having the good fortune to be born into wealthy circumstances. They have completely forgotten the struggles of their ancestors who, perhaps, were shrewd and capable men. They might have been sensible men who were able to remain on their original holdings because they attended clearing sales and purchased bargains which saved them substantial sums of money. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) is a practical farmer and knows I am right. I can imagine him seeing at a clearing sale a first-class implement that somebody had cast adrift. He may bc able to pay cash for it and save himself up to £500. Agricultural machinery is a dear item in these days and I cannot imagine the honorable member being so stupid as to pass by a bargain. Struggling farmers, because of the Treasurer’s refusal to accept the amendment, are not able to claim the investment allowance on secondhand machinery.
The Government allows a depreciation allowance on second-hand machinery and there has been no abuse. I know, because I have done a little trading of that sort myself. I never buy a new machine if 1 can buy a second-hand machine as good for a couple of hundred pounds less. It does not matter so much to me, but there are thousands of farmers who are feeling the pinch because of wool prices which are nonpaying due to the inequities caused by this Government’s failure to introduce a wool marketing system. They need this investment allowance on second-hand machinery. Thousands of dairy mcn are on the bread line to-day because they are not able to obtain more than 44d. per lb. for their butter when the found cost of production is 56d. per lb.
I throw those facts in the Treasurer’s face because of his prattle about what has been done for the farming community. I have uttered strong words - perhaps harsh words - but I appeal to the good judgment of the Treasurer to consider this amendment, lt is a good one. It will save the farmers money. It will save the Treasurer money because obviously a 20 per cent, investment allowance on a second-hand tractor costing £800 will cost the Treasury less than if the farmer bought a new tractor for £1,200. I ask the Treasurer: Do you not want me to help you save money? It is true that the Treasurer might not get as much income tax out of the agricultural machinery manufacturers who will profit substantially from this measure in its present form.
I can see that every member of the Country Party in the chamber at thi’ moment knows in his own heart that what I am saying is correct. With the possible exception of a couple of them to whom fate has been kind, every one of them is reflecting on his own experiences in this respect. Stand up, the guilty men, and confess! No .v you have emancipated yourselves in the Parliament. You have had a marvellous income but you are not prepared to help people who are now in the situation that some of you were in 20 or 25 years ago. You know it. Not one of you will deny it, not even the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann).
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I will not long delay the committee. I just want to point out to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that there is a difference between the investment-allowance and the 20 per cent, depreciation allowance. I think the honorable member will be the first to agree that that statement is correct. That is the whole problem involved in his amendment. When the suggestion was first made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), a lot of people, including primary producers, thought that it was fair enough. They thought, “If we get the investment allowance for new machinery, why should we not have it for second-hand machinery?” That is the first thing I thought of, but when I analysed the matter I thought of the difference between the investment allowance and the depreciation allowance. I went to quite a lot of trouble to speak to primary produrers and dealers - particularly machinery agents - on this issue. They gave me their views and I found that they had thought as I did in the first instance. However, they realized what might happen and they asked themselves, “Where would this thing stop?”
As the honorable member for Lalor knows, a depreciation allowance of 20 per cent, each year is available on machinerypurchased by primary producers. If the machinery is sold at a price above the taxation value, the primary producer is liable to tax on the difference in value. I think the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) will agree that with the investment allowance of 20 per cent, the benefit of the allowance is retained, regardless of the price for which the machinery may be sold. The honorable member for Lalor overlooked that point. As a result, there is a definite decrease in the value of second-hand machinery, as the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) mentioned earlier. In that way, the purchaser of second-hand machinery enjoys an advantage over the purchaser of new machinery. All the members of my party are sympathetic to the granting of investment allowances on secondhand machinery, but we realize that it would be quite impracticable to do so.
– It has been clearly demonstrated to-night that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has been applying the tactics which the members of the Australian Labour Party have used on many occasions. He said that the supporters of the Australian Country Party knew in their hearts that what he said was right. This Government has done more for the primary producer, by way of taxation deductions on new machinery and in other ways, than any other government in the history of Australia. The honorable member for Lalor knows in his heart that that is correct. This Government introduced the 20 per cent, depreciation allowance, to be spread over five years, on the purchase of machinery and in respect of homes erected for share farmers and others. It has now done better than that and proposes to introduce an investment allowance of 20 per cent, on machinery.
The Labour Party appreciates that the Government has introduced these measures for the benefit of primary producers. Nevertheless, it always wants the Government to do more, although when it was in office it never thought of doing any of the things this Government has done in that respect. By way of a passing reference, Sir, may I say that the same comment applies to the attitude of the Labour Party to homes for the aged. The Labour Party had never thought about homes for the aged until this Government introduced the scheme of subsidies, first on the basis of £1 for every £1 raised by voluntary organizations for this purpose, and then on the basis of £2 for every £1. Labour said that the subsidy should be £3 for every £1, although it had never thought of such a scheme when it was in office.
The record of this Government in these matters is so good that members of the Parliament with long experience, such as the honorable member for Lalor, know that Labour’s record does not compare favorably with it. When Labour was in office there was no provision for a depreciation allowance of 20 per cent, per annum over five years. Labour knows that primary producers throughout the country are comparing its record with that of the Government, and that something has to be done. The honorable member for Lalor has been driven to take the line he took to-night. He asks, “ Why does not the Government go further?” The Labour Party did not introduce similar legislation when it was in office. When this Government brings forward legislation that is in the best interests not only of the primary industries but of all sections of the Australian community, the Labour Party wants us to. do even better.
This Government has done a marvellous job for the primary producers. I represent a great band of primary producers in the Mallee electorate, and I am prepared to fight for them in this House at any time. I am satisfied with this legislation because I know it is good legislation and better than anything of the kind that we have had before. I should be surprised to hear the honorable member for Lalor speaking as he did to-night if it were not for the fact that I know he did so for party political reasons.
Clause agreed to.
– If the committee agrees, the remainder of the bill will be taken as a whole. If there is no objection, I suggest that the honorable member for Swan be permitted to move together the four amendments that he has circulated, since they are related one to the other.
After section one hundred and twenty-four J ot the Principal Act the following Subdivision is inserted in Division 10a of Part III.: - “ Subdivision B. - Timber Mill Buildings. “124 ja. - (t.) Where a person has, after the year of income that ended on the thirtieth day of
June, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-three, incurred expenditure of a capital nature . . . in respect of the construction or purchase of a building - deductions in respect of the expenditure are allowable in accordance with this section. “ (2.) The deduction allowable in respect of a year of income is the amount ascertained by dividing the residual capital expenditure in respect of the building, as at the end of that year of income, ascertained in accordance with the next succeeding sub-section, by -
Clause 56. (1.) The amendments made by paragraphs (c) and (g) of section four, paragraph (c) of section six, section seven, paragraph (b) of section eight, sections nine and ten, sections sixteen to twenty (inclusive), sections twenty-two to twenty-four (inclusive), sections twenty-six to twenty-eight (inclusive), paragraph (a) of section thirty and sections thirty-one to thirty-eight (inclusive) of this Act apply to assessments in respect of income of the year of income that commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-three, and in respect of income of all subsequent years of income.
.- I move -
In clause 51. -
In proposed section 124.ia(1.),omit’,after the year of income that ended on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and ‘ sixty-three,”.
In proposed section 124ja(2.), omit “, the next succeeding sub-section “, insert “ the next two succeeding sub-sections “.
In proposed section124ja, omit proposed subsection (3.), insert the following proposed subsections: - “ ‘ (3.) For the purposes of (his section but subject to the next succeeding sub-section, the residual capital expenditure in respect of a building as at the end of a year of income, or as at any time during a year of income, shall be ascertained by deducting from the amount of expenditure specified in sub-section (1.) of this section incurred in respect of the building any part of that expenditure that has been allowed or is allowable as a deduction under this section from assessable income of a year of income before that year of income. “ ‘ (3a.) Where any expenditure specified in sub-section (1.) of this section was incurred in respect of a building in a year of income prior to the year of income that commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-three, the residual capitalexpenditurein respect of that building at any time shall be deemed to be the amount that would have been the residual capital expenditure in respect of that building at that time if the provisions of this Subdivision had applied to assessments in respect of income of that first-mentioned year of income and to assessments in respect of incomeof each subsequent year of income.”.
In clause 56(1.), omit “and sections thirty-one to thirty-eight (inclusive) “, insert “sections thirty-one to thirty-eight (inclusive) and fiftyone “.
Little remains to be said concerning the amendments because of theopportunity that I had to speak during the earlier stages of the debate. The amendment that I propose to clause 51 seeks to extend the scope of the deductions to be allowedfor capital expenditure on certain sawmill buildings and employees’ housing situated in a forest and in or adjacent to the urea where timber to be milled is felled. The bill as introduced would have authorized deductions for capital expenditure only if it was incurred after the beginning of the current income year, 1963-64. The purpose of the amendment is to permit deductions for capital expenditure incurred on eligible buildings before that year. In broad terms, deductions for the 1963-64 income year will be based on a notional or written-downvalueofthebuildingasat the commencement of that year; that is, upon the original cost of the buildings to the mill owner, less amounts that would have been allowable deductions if the new provisions to be inserted by clause 51 had applied since the time when the expenditure was incurred. I think that that comment explains adequately the first amendment.
The second amendment requires no explanation. It is simply a consequential amendment. Apart from removing the restrictive date, which is to be effected by the first amendment, it is necessary to provide sub-sections similar to the provisions in the existing legislation regarding access roads. Sub-sections (3.) and (3a.) of the third amendment seek to do this. The amendment defines the basis for achieving the notional written-down value of the buildings and provides for expenditure prior to 1st July, 1963 to be taken into account in calculating the residual capital value of the buildings.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, in referring to my fourth amendment,I point out that it is the application clause and provides for section51, as amended, dealing with the timber industry and deductions in respect of timber mill buildings, to apply to assessments in respect of the income of the year of income commencing on 1st July, 1963 and to all subsequent years of income.
.- I should not like the record to be left as it is, these amendments having been proposed by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver). He is exactly two years too late with about 50 per cent. of his propositions, which have been taken straight from the platform that the Australian Labour Party put before the people two years ago. We all appreciate what the honorable member proposes and believe that his proposals will do a lot of good in the field of primary industry represented by the timber industry. However, I believe that the committee should know that, here again, the Government has taken great slices out of the Labour Party’s programme.
– The Australian Labour Party’s rural committee, of which I am a member, thought these propositions out more than two years ago, and the Labour Party included them in its policy speech in the general election campaign of 1961. Now these proposals are put forward to-night by the honorable member for Swan. Good luck to them. We support them.
– Mr. Chairman, apparently, all that we have left of the Australian Labour Party is its socialist pledge. But honorable members opposite do not want to mention socialism to-night, although they are pledged to it. Both the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) have made representations to the Government urging that action be taken along the lines of these amendments. The Government has considered these proposals on their merits and has been persuaded by. the force of the arguments directed to them. I am glad to be able to adopt these proposals in this bill.
Amendments agreed to.
Remainder of bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2110), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2110), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2111), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a third time.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Fairhall, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill will give effect to the decision of the Government, which was announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget speech, to pay a bounty of £3 a ton on superphosphate manufactured in Australia and sold for use in Australia on and after 14th August, 1963.
Australian soils generally are deficient in phosphorus and, over the years, superphosphate has played a major part in the development of our primary industries. For instance, it has made the expansion of our Australian wheat industry possible and it has been the basic factor in the remarkable development in pasture improvement throughout southern Australia. Superphosphate represents over 90 per cent, of all artificial fertilizers used in primary production in Australia. It is a very important item in the cash outlay of most primary producers and the bounty of £3 a ton, which represents as much as one-third of the exworks price of bulk superphosphate in some States, will make a substantial contribution to a reduction in these costs. It will encourage the most economic use of our agricultural resources and, in particular, will act as a stimlus to further expansion in pasture improvement.
Superphosphate is produced by the reaction of sulphuric and/or phosphoric acid on phosphate rock, which, in the main, is imported from Nauru, Ocean and Christmas Islands. It is produced by fourteen companies in twenty factories stretching from Cairns in north Queensland to Geraldton in Western Australia. Another factory is in the course of construction at Esperance in Western Australia. The quantity of superphosphate produced during the financial year 1962-63 was over 2,850,000 tons, valued at approximately £30,000,000.
The fertilizer value of superphosphate is measured by its soluble content of phosphorous pentoxide, usually expressed as P2O5. It is on this P205 content that the payment of bounty will be based. In Australia, up to the present time, there has been only one grade of superphosphate known as standard or single superphosphate, containing 22 per cent. P.,0: of which 20 per cent, is in the form of water and ammonium citrate soluble phosphorus pentoxide. It was this grade of superphosphate that the Government had in mind when the bounty of £3 a ton was announced. The percentage of soluble Pa05 content of superphosphate varies slightly as between manufacturing plants according to the source and quality of the phosphate rock used in manufacture. For this reason, it has been decided to fix the soluble P203 content of standard superphosphate to qualify for the full bounty of £3 a ton at 20 per cent, plus or minus 0.5 per cent.
As a direct result of the bounty, the demand for superphosphate may rise to such an extent as to necessitate the import of phosphate rock from other than our normal sources of supply to supplement our present supplies. Such phosphate rock would bc generally of a lower grade than that normally used in Australia, and the use of this material in the manufacture of superphosphate could result in a reduction in the present P205 content of single-standard superphosphate sold in Australia. To meet such an eventuality, the bill provides that the minimum soluble P.,0-, content necessary to qualify for the full bounty of £3 a ton may be varied from time to time by the Minister for Customs and Excise.
Recently, two local superphosphate companies announced plans for the production of concentrated superphosphate of new types. This is in line with developments overseas. These new types of superphosphate include “ double “ superphosphate containing 40 per cent. P203 and “ triple “ superphosphate containing 50 per cent. P2O5 compared with 20 per cent. P205 in standard superphosphate. The Government has decided that these enriched forms of superphosphate will be eligible for bounty, according to their percentage of soluble Pa03 content. Thus “ double “ superphosphate will attract bounty of £6 a ton and “ triple “ superphosphate will attract bounty of £7 10s. a ton.
The advantages of the higher analysis superphosphate can be summarized as a saving in transport and distribution costs resulting in a lower cost on the ground of phosphatic fertilizers. The farmer will also have the choice of a greater range of phosphate fertilizers to suit his particular needs.
As honorable members can see, the bounty which the enriched forms of superphosphate will attract, will be related to the basic payment of £3 a ton for standard superphosphate. The introduction of this concentrated superphosphate will not, of itself, lead to any increase in the annual amount of bounty payable under the scheme. For example, instead of using 2 tons of standard superphosphate entitling him to £6 in bounty, a farmer could use 1 ton of double superphosphate which would also entitle him to a bounty of £6.
With the new plants now being installed, ammonia can be added at the appropriate stage of manufacture of superphosphate to provide either ammoniated superphosphate or ammonium phosphate. This can be used as an alternative to the present practice of mixing superphosphate with sulphate of ammonia, with the advantages, first, that the incorporation of the ammonia will reduce the acidifying action of an equivalent mixture of sulphate of ammonia and superphosphate and, secondly, reduction in transport costs.
For particular soils, it is now normal for manufacturers to add trace and other elements to superphosphate - for example sulphur, lime or cobalt. In this field of trace element research Australia has led the world. On all these new products and mixtures, bounty will be paid on the superphosphate content in accordance with the amount of soluble P2O5 by weight contained therein related to the basic payment of £3 a ton for standard superphosphate.
The Government announcement of a bounty on superphosphate has led to representations being made for a bounty on some other fertilizer products. There are a number of fertilizers made from organic waste materials which contain some phosphate, thi principal one being blood and bone meal. This fertilizer which also contains nitrogen is used mainly for horticultural purposes and fills a fertilizer need rather different from that of superphosphate. There are also some inorganic materials which contain various percentages of phosphate and are used for particular fertilizer purposes but the usage of these materials, in comparison with superphosphate, is very small indeed. These materials are much less rich in readily available phosphate as compared with superphosphate and will not bc eligible for bounty.
Representations have also been made on behalf of rock phosphate as a fertilizer when used in a finely ground or calcined state. However, research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and State Departments of Agriculture, although indicating the possibility of these products being useful on certain soils, has not reached the stage when authoritative advice can be given to the user that these products provide economic and efficient ? sources of phosphate. For these reasons the Government has decided that these products should not be bountiable at this point of time.
As honorable members are aware, it has been decided to pay the bounty as from Nth August, 1963, through the superphosphate manufacturers. Experience with an earlier superphosphate subsidy scheme clearly demonstrated the convenience and advantages of this method. Since the bounty decision of the Government, discussions have taken place between the government officers and superphosphate manufacturers who have been most co-operative. In anticipation of legislation being enacted, most manufacturers are already passing on to primary producers the full reduction in the price of superphosphate resulting from the bounty and the Government is confident that this co-operation will continue.
The problem of stocks in the pipe-line was appreciated by the Government and this raised the question of the point of sale. Fc, the purpose of determining the ownership of superphosphate stocks, it was decided that a sale had been completed when the property in the goods passed from the manufacturer. There were four categories of > superphosphate stocks which were considered - stocks, the property of the manufacturer; stocks in possession of distributors or retailers; stocks held by mixers, either as superphosphate or incorporated in mixtures; and stocks in the hands of consumers.
Under Commonwealth taxing laws - for example, sales tax and duties of customs and excise - it is the invariable rule that new or amended rates of tax apply as from the commencement of business on the morning after the announcement of the change is made. In the case of sales tax, for example, goods which have left the hands of wholesalers are not affected by the change. In the case of superphosphate, it was necessary to apply the same principle.
Superphosphate stocks which were owned by superphosphate manufacturers, whether as such or as part of a fertilizer mixture, offered no problem as they will attract bounty under the bill when used by the manufacturer or sold by him for use in Australia. Most distributors and retailers held stocks at the commencing date of the bounty. These stocks will not attract bounty.
A number of companies other than superphosphate manufacturers also engage in the preparation and sale of mixed fertilizers containing superphosphate. However, in accord with the principle I have stated, it is impossible to extend the benefit of the bounty to these stocks without giving similar treatment to stocks in the hands of distributors and retailers.
Representations have been received on behalf of users who held stocks at the date of the commencement of the bounty scheme, particularly from those who may have been persuaded by industry to cooperate in early delivery schemes. Here again, the principle of Government taxing laws must be applied and such stocks cannot be given any special concession. To pay bounty on these stocks would be unfair to those users who had purchased and spread their superphosphate earlier in the season. In addition there would be enormous administrative difficulties in tracing such transactions. Irrespective of the point of time or the point of production or distribution at which the legislation is made to operate, there would always be some one adversely affected by being just outside the point of operation of the legislation.
This bounty will make a contribution to users of superphosphate of approximately £9,000,000 per annum. I suggest to honorable members that no measure could provide greater encouragement to and be a more effective means of increasing productivity and expansion of our great rural industries on which so much of our overall national well-being depends. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Currency Bill 1963.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1963-64.
Without requests -
Appropriation Bill 1963-64.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I rise to bring to the notice of the House a matter which is of great national and international importance. We know that what is said in the parliaments of the Western world invariably goes down on record and is filed for what could be regarded as historical purposes. I do not want my children or my grandchildren to say that, although I had an opportunity in this place to record a protest about a situation which this Government could help to relieve, I did not do so.
Several of the unions in Newcastle have been in touch with me to-day about the matter I propose to raise. Printed on the front page of to-day’s “ Newcastle Morning Herald “ is a photograph of a ship that has just loaded some 21,000 tons of Australian wheat and which is lying off Nobbys at the port of Newcastle. This ship, which is a Greek vessel, was chartered by an import-export firm in Shanghai, in mainland China. It loaded this wheat, intending to carry it to China. The captain has received instructions to take the wheat to Havana, in Cuba.
Only last week during an adjournment debate, I appealed to the Government to consider giving financial aid to islands in the Caribbean which had been hit devastatingly by the hurricane “ Flora “. I pointed out in my brief speech that this Government had given approximately £10,000 to a Communist country, Yugoslavia, to relieve people who were suffering great hardship as a result of an earthquake at Skopje. I pointed out also that the Government had given aid to Bali following a volcanic eruption several months ago. It has given financial aid also to Chile following a natural calamity which occurred in that country some time ago. Nobody on the Government side, including the Australian Country Party - I am disappointed in members of that party, because they claim to represent the wheat-growers- has supported me in my plea to the Government to give financial aid to Tobago, a British possession, Haiti and Cuba in the Caribbean.
On the front page of the London “ Daily Herald” of 22nd October is published an appeal to the people of Great Britain. It is headed “ Wanted- £877,502 “. Under that heading is a picture of a child who apparently is suffering from hunger. Alongside the picture these words are printed -
No child should die from hunger. .
Many years ago my parents sent me to a Methodist Sunday school. I remember some of the teachings of that school. One of them was that we should do unto others as wc would expect them to do unto us.
– What has this to do with the ship?
– I shall tell you, if you will be patient enough. Let the honorable member show his cruelty to humanity. Tories have been noted for it down through the years. Probably you people are bigoted against Cuba because its inhabitants belong to a certain denominational faith. I do not understand their faith. I was in Cuba last year. We know that 80 per cent, of the population belong to the Roman Catholic faith. But even if they were the children of atheists, and irrespective of their faith, children who are starving deserve greater sympathy from this Government.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) asked a moment ago, by way of interjection, “ What has this to do with the ship? “ I suggest that if the captain of the ship is not prepared to try to get through the Panama Canal, which he believes will be closed to him by our powerful friend and ally, the United States of America, this Government should have the guts to put the wheat into an Australian ship manned by an Australian crew and send it to the islands of Haiti, Tobago and Cuba to relieve the suffering and hunger of the people as a result of the hurricane “ Flora “. It is reported in to-day’s Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ that the Premier of Cuba has appealed to the powerful United States of America to lift its economic blockade so that Cuba can get food to relieve the sufferings of her people. The United States has flatly rejected the request.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Bruce says, “ Hear, bear! “
– It was not I who interjected.
– I ask the honorable member who interjected to rise and be counted. I shall then know who he is. I will go into his electorate at the forthcoming general election and tell his constituents about his attitude toward the people of this island who have suffered greatly as a result of the activity of certain Western countries.
I repeat that I do not want my name to be recorded in the history books as one who has not brought this matter to the notice of the National Parliament. This Government should do all in its power to influence the United States to allow food and medical supplies to go to countries to which she is not favorably disposed - for the sake of suffering women, children and men who, I believe, are politically ignorant and really do not uphold the ideals of their governments. This would be a Christian act on the part of this Government. Honorable members opposite come into this chamber, bow their heads when Mr. Speaker reads prayers, and claim to be Christians. But 1 say that many, members of this Parliament are hypocrites. They are not prepared to rise and support me in my appeal.
– What has this to do with the ship?
– I told you. Apparently you did not want to listen. If the captain of the ship is not prepared to try to take the vessel to Cuba to relieve the suffering of the starving children, this Government should use its influence with the United States of America to persuade that country to permit the vessel to pass through the Panama Canal. If permission was refused and the captain then was not prepared to take the ship to Cuba by some other route, the wheat should be placed in an Australian ship manned with an Australian crew. That ship should be sent to Cuba on a course that would not necessitate its passing through the Panama Canal.
I ask the honorable member for Warringah, who claims to be an upright and free man, to rise and declare whether . he is opposed to feeding the hungry people of the world. Recently a freedom-from’-hunger door-knock campaign was conducted throughout Australia and I believe that a similar appeal is being conducted in the better-off countries. But I do not believe in freedom from hunger unless it is freedom from hunger for all.
.- If the situation is as described by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) - I have no reason to believe that it is not - and if the captain of the vessel in question will not proceed to sea with his cargo because he believes that he will be refused passage through the Panama Canal, the Government should pay heed to the appeal of the honorable member for Hunter and should make some representations to the United States Government in the matter. If this shipment of wheat reaches Cuba it will neither diminish nor increase the incidence of communism there but it may have a most beneficial effect on the unfortunate Cubans, whether they be the victims of communism or the hurricane “ Flora “.
– I understand that the captain is prepared to take the vessel to Cuba but the crew has gone on strike.
– I do not know the exact situation. All I suggest is that the Australian Government use its good offices to endeavour to see that the ship is allowed to proceed. No matter whether the captain or the union is the cause of the trouble, some effort should be made by the influential. Australian Government to get this wheat to its destination.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.12 a.m. (Friday) to Monday, 28th October, 1963, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Within what is regarded as the area in which a satisfactory service is available from the Bendigo stations according to the standards of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, soma 25,000 viewer’s licences were either issued or renewed during the year ended 30th June, 1963; these arc the latest available statistics. There are a number of qualifications to this statement to be made -
I am informed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission that there has not been any increase in the duration of the essentially rural programmes on the national television programme in Victoria following the opening of national stations at Bendigo and Ballarat, but the commission also informsme that -
n asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Will the Minister consider extending eligibility for assistance from the War Service Homes Division to servicemen who have performed a period of duty in Thailand during the past two years?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
During 1962 the Government examined the matter of granting repatriation and other benefits in respect of service outside Australia in areas affected by warlike operations or a state of disturbance.
Following this examination, legislation was enacted to provide for the granting of repatriation and other benefits (including War Service Homes benefits) to persons with service in a special area outside Australia which, by reason of warlike operations or a state of disturbance, has been declared a special area.
Action has since been taken to prescribe, by regulation, Vict Nam (Southern Zone) and certain areas of Malaya as special areas for the purpose of eligibility for repatriation and other benefits.
The question of granting similar benefits to servicemen who performed duty in Thailand has been considered but there are no circumstances which would suggest a need to declare Thailand to be a special area for this purpose.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 October 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19631024_reps_24_hor40/>.