25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether any check is made between the Commonwealth Electoral Office and the Department of Immigration with regard to the eligibility of migrants applying for enrolment. What I have in mind is the possibility of unnaturalized migrants unwittingly filling in application cards for enrolment without fully understanding the necessary qualifications and then being included on the roll.
– I am sorry that I cannot give the honorable member an answer to that question, but I shall be pleased to make inquiries and let him know immediately just what checks are made.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that the Government now considers the dropping of Indonesian paratroopers in Malaysia was a serious act of aggression, why do we continue to authorise the training of even two Indonesian Army officers at the Army Staff College at Queenscliff in Victoria? If this course is of any value, does it not mean that we are training Indonesian officers to plan bigger and better raids on Malaysia, in which Malaysian troops and those of our allies, as well as Australians, will be killed or wounded? How do we think the Australian servicemen in Malaysia view this training of Indonesian staff officers?
– I would be glad if the honorable member would allow me to treat that question as being on the notice paper, as I would like to get the relevant facts.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister for External
Affairs by stating that Ministers of the Government and a judge have expressed opposition to public demonstrations against such things as apartheid in South Africa and French nuclear tests. I ask the Minister whether it has been brought to his notice that very often such action is taken by individuals and groups because they believe that the Government’s stated opposition to apartheid and French nuclear tests is not genuine, and that if it were genuine these demonstrations would be unnecessary and perhaps would not take place. I ask the Minister now: Will he state, in fh case of the French tests, what is the explanation of the statement by his predecessor that the Australian Government had protested to the French Government and the statement soon afterwards by the responsible French Minister that no protest had been made? Is it true that the New Zealand representative at the United Nations was, as he said, unable tq obtain support from Pacific countries for his action against the French tests? Will the Minister say whether the French Government is using Australian airports and other facilities in preparing for these tests? If the Australian Government genuinely opposes these tests, will he recommend that Australian airports and facilities be not made available for this purpose?
– I can assure the honorable member that the statement made by my predecessor was made with a sense of responsibility and was correct Regarding the question-
– What about the-
– If you will allow me to answer, I will try to do so. Regarding the action said to have been taken by New Zealand at the United Nations, the question was asked of me a few weeks ago and I said I was not personally aware of it but it may have happened before my time. I have since made inquiries and the position, so I am informed, is this: The New Zealand Government did do some lobbying around the United Nations on the possibility of preparing the draft of a resolution for consideration. In the course of those discussions Australia was made aware of the New Zealand suggestion. The suggestion never reached the point of a draft resolution being submitted for consideration because, for a variety of reasons not connected with the attitude of any government towards the nuclear tests, the New Zealanders found their resolution was unlikely to obtain support and did not proceed with their lobbying. Although we were aware that New Zealand was taking this action the point was never reached where the Australian Government was required to say whether it would support the action of New Zealand in the United Nations. The view of the Australian Government on the French nuclear testing is quite clear and has been announced in this House on several occasions.
On the other question of whether we should deny our ports and other facilities to French commerce or to the French authorities in the preparation of these tests, I will have inquiries made, but I think the honorable gentleman will recognise that there would be difficulty in identifying any particular consignment or the passage of any particular passenger as being directly related to any such activities.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise a question relating to literature censorship. Have any discussions taken place between the Commonwealth and the States in reference to uniform censorship? If so, what was the outcome of these discussions?
– In 1961, a conference was held between the Commonwealth Minister for Customs and Excise and the State Ministers concerned with a view to getting greater uniformity in the censorship of literature. This was followed by a series of conferences between officials in 1961, 1963 and 1964, the last one being in April. It was then agreed by the officials that a greater measure of consultation and closer liaison were desirable. Following this, the Minister for Customs and Excise has been examining the matter, and that examination and consideration of the issues involved still continues.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Was he correctly reported recently as having said that the Menzies Government is opposed to French nuclear tests in principle? If he was correctly reported, what precisely does he mean when he refers to opposing a proposition in principle? Does he mean that the
Government is pursuing a neutralist altitude, expressing a pious hope that the tests will not take place, or does he mean that in opposing these tests in principle he is taking some active measures to try to dissuade the French Government from pursuing its course; or is he making some representations in other quarters so that some effective action can be taken to impress on the French Government that the conscience of the Free World is opposed to the continuance of nuclear tests?
– I have not made any statement on French nuclear testing except in this chamber, and what I said in this chamber was accurately reported and recorded in “ Hansard “. I am not aware of any reports of statements by me other than the report in “ Hansard “ to which I refer the honorable gentleman.
– Will you explain what you meant?
– The Australian Government, as a signatory to the nuclear test ban treaty, opposes nuclear tests anywhere. Being a signatory to that treaty, the Australian Government would like to see the treaty enforced by all the signatories to it. There is no equivocation or qualification about our attitude. We deplore and regret very much the fact that the French will continue to try to carry out these tests.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister in his position as Acting Treasurer. I preface it by referring to the speech made by the Premier of New South Wales last night in which he stated that the Sydney eastern suburbs railway would be built if the Commonwealth made a grant towards it. I ask: Did the Commonwealth completely hand over all loan funds raised this year, and has it handed over all loan funds raised every year since about 1952 to the State Governments? As the Premier of New South Wales has failed to make any reference to the Commonwealth’s handing over of these loan funds and has also failed to make any clear statement about Commonwealth contributions towards major works such as flood mitigation projects, road works, education projects and the like, will the Prime Minister request that a formal statement about such matters be made to clarify the position regarding Commonwealth assistance to the States? Will the Prime Minister assure the public that the Commonwealth has not been lax in its attitude to financial assistance and that the implication that further assistance will determine the future of the proposed railway is merely begging the issue?
– What the honorary member has said is, of course, not only true but also, by now, should be very well known, even in the State Parliaments. As for the statement that he says was made last night, I am not at present aware of it. 1 have not read a report of it, but if it is to the effect that the honorable member says it was, all I can say is that it lacks novelty. I have been hearing that kind of statement for the last 15 years, and during all that time, as the honorable member has pointed out, the financial assistance given to the States has been very generous.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Does the right honorable gentleman feel concerned about the reported truculence of the South Australian Premier in respect of the authorising of the date of this year’s Senate election? If he is confident of being able to handle Sir Thomas Playford-
– Order! 1 remind the honorable member that the Prime Minister is not responsible for the actions of the South Australian Premier. Whilst the Prime Minister may have a tremendous amount of responsibility, I think the honorable member is extending the sphere of his responsibility a little too widely.
– Can I not relate my remarks in passing to the question of the date of the impending Senate election?
– I suggest that the honorable member get directly to the question that he wants to ask the Prime Minister.
– I was about to do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the Prime Minister is confident of being able to handle Sir Thomas Playford, does he consider that this is an appropriate time to take the people into his confidence and to say whether the election date will bc 21st or 28 th November?
– I wondered for some time what the honorable member was getting at, but I now see that he wants to know the date. As soon as I know the date, I will announce it. As for the distinguished Premier of South Australia, when he begins to have some argument wilh me, then it will be time for me to take part in it; but so far all of this is in the imagination of the honorable member.
– Can the
Minister for the Navy tell the House the present position concerning the industrial dispute over H.M.A.S. “Sydney” at Garden Island? Can he tell the House how far the Government will be prepared to go in making sure that the “Sydney” gets to sea in time for the exercises that have been scheduled?
– The dispute has reached the stage where it has been referred to a conciliation commissioner under section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I am hopeful that the hearing will take place within the next two or three days. As for the “ Sydney “, the work required to be done was done last night by salaried staff of the dockyard. There seems to be a feeling that it was done by naval personnel; but it was done by salaried staff of the dockyard. They put the ramps in place. The loading of the “ Sydney “ has commenced this morning and she will now be able to sail at the scheduled time.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for the Navy, by reminding him that on Tuesday last in this chamber the Minister for the Army, who was formerly Minister for the Navy, described the former Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Burrell, as a “ has-been “. Can the Minister tell the House whether that was the view of the Navy during the term of office of his predecessor and whether it is his own view?
– I thought Admiral Burrell himself gave a most apt reply on this matter. He said that anyone who has reached the agc of retirement is a has-been.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that some time ago the Soviet Union undertook nuclear tests in violation of its public pledge to refrain from them? Is there any instance known to him in which an Australian Communist or Communist sympathiser took an active part in organising opposition to these Russian nuclear tests? Is it known whether the honorable member for Yarra criticised these Russian nuclear tests? If it is, is there any evidence on whether his protests were genuine or just a matter of form?
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I submit that the last part of that question is out of order because it is not within the Prime Minister’s rights to criticise or to offer comment on the views expressed by the honorable member for Yarra.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition is correct. I was about to remind the honorable member for Mackellar that the Prime Minister is not responsible for the actions of the honorable member for Yarra.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I understand that the Prime Minister is the head of the Security Service and, as such, he might have some information to give the House.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I object to the honorable member for Mackellar abusing the forms of the House. He pursued his question without being given the call by you. He attempted to smear the honorable member for Yarra.
– In answer to the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition, I say that I understood the honorable member for Mackellar to be referring to his second question when he asked whether the Prime Minister had any information to give to the House. I rule that the first two questions asked by the honorable member for Mackellar are in order.
– It is desirable to be precise on this matter and to have the dates right. I will therefore get the facts with the relevant dates and make them available to the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy a question without notice. In his speech on Tuesday night the Minister for Labour and National Service said that the Naval Board had decided that when workingup operations are to be carried out in future specially appointed staff officers of high rank within the command of the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Area will be available to give assistance to the officers carrying out the working-up operations. As this matter was not mentioned by the Prime Minister in his considered statement earlier-
– It was.
– It was, categorically.
– 1 accept the correction.
– My question is ad-, dressed to the Prime Minister. I ask: ls the right honorable gentleman correctly reported as saying, “The whole glory of Parliamentary debate is that it is ‘ cut and thrust ‘ and nobody ever produced any ‘ cut and thrust* by the mere process of producing a piece of paper “ - and, may I add, reading from it? If the report is correct, does this indicate that I may now have company in my long and so far lone advocacy that this Parliament adhere to Standing Order No. 62 recently confirmed in the revised edition of the Standing Orders of this House, which states, “A Member shall not read his speech “?
– Nor a question.
– It does not refer to a question.
– I suggest to the honorable member that example is better than precept.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that in several country towns of Western Australia employees of his Department find it very difficult, and at times impossible, to obtain accommodation other than at hotels? Is the Minister aware also that the minimum charge at some of those hotels is 15 or 16 guineas a week, which in some cases is more than the employee earns? If so, will the Minister arrange for an examination to be made of accommodation requirements for employees of his own Department and other Commonwealth departments in country areas with a view to setting up hostels or self contained units?
– If any honorable member brings a specific case to my notice 1 will have it examined. We have within the Department a principle in relation to the provision of accommodation for some officers of the Department serving in country areas. In certain circumstances this accommodation is not used by members of the staff because they believe they are better suited and enjoy a cheaper rent by taking private accommodation than would be the case if they used the accommodation that we provide. Therefore, I think it is desirable that each individual case be looked at rather than that we should treat this matter in general terms.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. A young settler at Adelaide River in the Northern Territory recently suffered great financial loss by having a valuable crop of pasture seed destroyed by fire. I ask the Minister: In view of the potential for pasture development in the top end of the Northern Territory, is the Northern Territory Administration considering banning the lighting of fires during the dry season, as is done in the danger season in southern Australia?
– A bush fire ordinance for the Northern Territory was prepared but was not quite ready for presentation during the last session of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. If it is agreed to, this ordinance will cover all the measures usually set out in such legislation in other parts of Australia and designed for the control of bush fires. Control of such outbreaks in the north of Australia is probably a very difficult undertaking but it is hoped that this ordinance, if adopted, will at least help to prevent the losses referred to by the honorable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Is the Minister aware that the Martin Marietta company, which manufactures the Canberra bomber in the U.S.A. has carried out modifications to the aircraft including extension of the wing span to approximately 100 feet in order to give it an operational ceiling of 70,000 feet for a high reconnaissance role similar to that of the U2 aircraft? Will the Minister investigate the possibility of similar modifications being made to our own Canberra bombers as they become superseded by the Fill now ordered to replace them in their existing role?
– Yes, I am aware that the Martin Marietta company has recently modified its aircraft. Whilst the honorable member’s suggestion is very thoughtful and interesting, I understand the modifications are fairly extensive. One would wonder whether it would be worthwhile converting our aircraft, which have already been in service for so long, for this new role, especially as the Government has already ordered the reconnaissance version of the Fill which can do an identical job just as well and will be that much more modern. However, we will examine the honorable member’s suggestion.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. How urgent is the need for recruits for the Australian Regular Army? Does the Minister recollect that I wrote to him on 25th June on behalf of a constituent who had retired from the Army two months earlier after a six years engagement and who, about six weeks later, sought to re-enlist in the Army but, despite his previous satisfactory service and good conduct, had his application rejected? Why, twelve weeks after I made those representations, am I still awaiting a decision on this matter? Does this incident reflect the efficiency and the urgency with which recruitment to the Australian Regular Army is being conducted?
– I cannot recall the particular case that the honorable gentlemen has raised, but I shall be happy to find out what has happened concerning it. I imagine that the time that has elapsed reflects the care with which the position of the honorable gentleman’s constituent is being examined.
– I address my question to the Minister for Air. Will he convey to Croup Captain Lampe and the staff of the Royal Australian Air Force base at East Sale the congratulations and thanks of the 15,000 to 20,000. people who attended the well organised and excellent air display held on Sunday last? Will he also make sure that an open invitation is extended to as many people as possible to witness further displays throughout the Commonwealth so that they will know that Australia, with its Mirage, Neptune, Caribou and Hercules aircraft, to name but a few, has an Air Force as modern and efficient as that of any comparable nation?
– I thank the honorable member for his question. Anybody would almost think that this was a Dorothy Dix-er. 1 shall certainly convey his congratulations to Group Captain Lampe and the team of airmen at East Sale. Regarding the second part of the question, I hope that everybody will read in this morning’s Press the information about the fly past that will take place in connection with Air Force Week both tomorrow and on the occasion of the open day at Air Force bases on Sunday next.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. On Tuesday night, he said that Rear Admiral Becher was in Canberra on the night of the “Voyager” accident engaged in important discussions on the whole of the operations of the Australian fleet. Was the nature of these discussions known at the time to the former Minister for the Navy? What was the nature of the discussions?
– As I said the other night, Rear Admiral Becher was in Canberra on the night in question for discussions at a high level. Obviously, the nature of these would not be disclosed, nor would the nature of discussions by any of the Service chiefs. I am sure that the honorable member will realise this. It should be realised also that the Australian fleet is not composed of only one ship. Its vessels are scattered all over the place in various jobs, and one person could not possibly be on them all at the same time.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Is it a fact that a common market between Aus* tralia and New Zealand would be of immense benefit to both countries? Is it a fact also that the real stumbling block is the determination of certain rural interests in Australia, notably marginal butter producers, to insist on protection against more favoured producers in New Zealand? Does the right honorable gentleman agree that it is not beyond the capacity of statesmanship or his own abilities to phase out uneconomic producers over a period, to convert to other use the land involved, and to provide generous compensation, so clearing the way for an Anzac partnership in peace as in war? Is it also true that, if the opportunity is not grasped now, vested interests on both sides of the Tasman will solidify in a brief time and the chance will be lost forever? I now ask the Minister which side he is on in this matter.
– I think that the honorable gentleman has not pursued his researches sufficiently. The Australian and New Zealand Governments have agreed that there shall be a study of the possibility of having a free trade area embracing the two countries. The term “free trade area” has a technical significance in international arrangements. It means that the bulk of the trade between the member countries, but not necessarily 100 per cent, of it, is duty free. We have had discussions on the subject and we have adopted this objective in good faith. I intimated to the New Zealand Government at the outset that, for reasons that were quite comprehensible to it even if not to the honorable member, duty free trade in. butter between the two countries would not be possible, because the respective costs of production are at different levels. The New Zealand Government intimated to me that it would not be possible to have a duty free area in all manufactured goods for reasons that are obvious to me and to the New Zealand Government. This is the principle of negotiating reductions of duties with exceptions. It applies in the European Common Market, in the Kennedy Round and in the General Agreement on. Tariffs and Trade. It is a well established principle and one which we are following. The Australian dairy industry provides - I speak from memory - a livelihood for some 70,000 to 80,000 families and represents a tremendous investment. It may be that there is scope for State Governments and the Commonwealth Government separately or conjointly to phase out some who are less economic in this industry.
– It applies to all industries.
– It applies more to the land industries than to those industries in which persons can change their employment more easily. I think this is well recognised. Something has been done along the lines 1. have mentioned, but by and large there is a difference between the level of the cost of production of manufactured goods in Australia and that of the same items in New Zealand. There is the same unchallengeable difference in the costs of production of dairy products in Australia compared with those in New Zealand. We believe we can carry forward fruitful discussions and can reach conclusions on this matter without doing devastating damage to industries, or’ to people in those industries, which are more susceptible to damage.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. Why is a reduction in wages of native employees of (he Administration of Papua-New Guinea of from 40 per cent, to 45 per cent, proposed by the Government? Secondly, I ask: The reduction having been proposed, why is it being applied to students in training who would have embarked upon their courses of training in anticipation of certain salaries at the end of their training? Why, if it is to be applied, is it not to be applied only in future to those who embark on courses of training knowing full well the new salary scale which they may expect? I ask the Minister whether there is not an element of betrayal of the native people of Papua-New Guinea who have already embarked on courses of training for the Administration when the salary that they may expect is changed while they are in the course of training?
– This matter of a change of the order of the Public Service and its salary level in Papua-New Guinea has been brought about by our policy, which has been announced, of paving the way for independence or self government for the people of Papua-New Guinea when they decide for it. This is a decision they have to make. I think we would be false to these people if we provided for a public service - as eventually we must - composed of indigenous people enjoying a salary structure based on the salary structure of Australia. We are taking these steps in the early period before the Public Service of the Territory has this change to “ local officers “ as we call them. The honorable member mentions the dissatisfaction of students and suggests that we have betrayed them - that they took up their studies probably in anticipation of a higher wage scale. I am not absolutely aware of this. However, a deputation of students is to meet the Public Service Commissioner and to put a case. An inquiry into this matter will be instituted within the next few days. If these people were given to understand that they were to expect these salaries, this will have to be considered, but I point out that we would be playing the people of the area false if we provided them with a public service based on the salary rates in Australia. I think the per capita income of Australia is £658 per annum as against a pex capita income of Territory people of only £70 per annum. We would place the people of the Territory in a completely false position if we arranged their Public Service structure based on Australian rates of pay. Obviously, if the people in the Territory had the burden of a Public Service with rates of pay similar to those operating in the Australian service they could not hope to have complete independence. They would have to rely on outside sources of funds for their existence.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Bradfield. I ask the Minister whether in his studies of the Common Market he found that the Common Market countries were unable to agree among themselves on prices for many rural products other than butter. I also ask whether many commercial enterprises In
Australia - perhaps some of those represented by the honorable member for Bradfield - enjoy an Australian market that is buoyant and expanding and in which the price structure is rising. I ask whether many of those enterprises are not doing their share of exporting whereas rural industries are all making increasing exports with a consequent lowering of export prices? I ask whether these commercial enterprises are protected by tariffs. Are our rural industries required to pay higher prices within Australia for their needs because of the interaction of all these things I have mentioned resulting in a reduction of income per unit to rural industries? Are rural industries able to increase their earnings only by increasing production tremendously?
– As to the first part of the honorable member’s question, it is true that the Common Market countries - I take it he refers to the European Common Market countries - notwithstanding that the Common Market has now been in existence for a number of years, have failed broadly to reach agreement in respect of prices for agricultural products. This is because circumstances all around the world produced in these industries which, for obvious reasons, achieve a degree of price fixation, various levels of cost per unit production. There are also human, political and social considerations that touch on these things. Anxious as European Common Market countries have been to seek agreement on a common price for butter, wheat, sugar and a variety of other agricultural products, up to the present they have failed. This is a situation which has no novelty for Australia and New Zealand. With respect to agricultural production in Australia, it is true, as I have said in this Parliament in 100 speeches, that the national policies of Australia are growth and protection of Australian manufacturing industry. The whole world knows that I subscribe to those policies. But inevitably the pressure of inflated costs on industries which have to export into a cold world becomes burdensome. This is why there must be a proper appreciation of the problems of Australian rural industries which operate without protection in a land where the general national policies of protection generate costs that are troublesome to them. By a phenomenal increase in their efficiency the rural industries have withstood the pressure of this tide. Over a decade they have achieved an almost unbelievable increase in production of 50 per cent, with a 10 per cent, reduction in their work force. By and large the total policies of this Government have enabled both manufacturing industries and the rural industries to survive and to grow.
– by leave - -In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, I present the report relating to the following proposed work -
Construction of a Radio Australia Booster Station at Darwin, Northern Territory. and I move -
That the report bc printed.
Because of the interest this inquiry has aroused, I think it might be appropriate for me to tell the House immediately of several of the Committee’s recommendations and conclusions. The Committee has concluded that for Radio Australia to become more assertive and less susceptible to interference it is necessary for the transmitted signal strength to be greatly increased. The establishment of a booster station at Darwin will provide the best means of giving the added signal strength necessary to provide good radio reception for Radio Australia audiences in South-East Asia. Therefore, the Committee recommends the proposal. It also recommends the use of transmitted electric power from the Darwin power house by means of a submarine cable across Darwin Harbour, that staff should be accommodated in Darwin rather than on Cox Peninsula and that, in order to take advantage of possible co-ordination and dual use of services, all the authorities involved should confer as soon as possible to determine whether Cox Peninsula is to be developed for residential purposes. The estimated cost of the detailed work, given in evidence to the Committee, is £1,533,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative*
– As I claim to have been misrepresented in the Press in a manner which is most distressing to me, I wish to make a personal explanation. Honorable members will recall my question addressed to the Prime Minister yesterday in which I sought to obtain confirmation of the fact that the appointment of the Royal Commission on the loss of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “ was not a device to prevent the holding of a court martial, and that no proper grounds for a court martial actually existed. The Prime Minister, in his reply, expressed gratitude for my efforts to make this point clear.
In this morning’s Melbourne “ Age “, a grave error in reporting occurs. The Prime Minister’s reply to a particularly odious interjection is reported as being directed to me. The part of Sir Robert’s stinging reply beginning with the words, “ If what you are after is to pursue a manhunt . . .” was not directed to my question. It was brought about by his distaste for the interjection by the honorable member for Yarra.
” EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA
– by leave - Yesterday, the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) asked me a question about the appointment of cargo agents for the “ Empress of Australia “. I am now in a position to give the information which he sought. The Australian National Line has appointed James Patrick & Co. Pty. Ltd. as principal cargo agents for the “ Empress of Australia “. James Patrick & Co. Pty. Ltd. has appointed A. G. Webster & Woolgrowers Ltd. at Hobart and Bell Bay, and Clements & Marshall Ltd. at Burnie as subagents.
The fact that other shipping companies are operating similar types of vessels has not caused any difficulties to the Australian National Line in the appointment of agents. Neither James Patrick & Co. Pty. Ltd. nor the sub-agents appointed by that company have any agencies which conflict with the interests of the Australian National Line. The fact that one of the members of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission is shipping manager of A. G. Webster & Woolgrowers Ltd. has not caused any difficulties, nor does it act as a bar to this firm being employed as sub-agents for the ship. The Australian National Line has no direct contractual arrangements with Mr. Thomson, who is an employee of the subagents, and this fact does not in any way act to the detriment of the Australian National Line.
Participation of the Australian National Line in the booking of cargo, and also in stevedoring, is governed by the Australian Coastal Snipping Agreement Act 1956 which approves an agreement between the Commonwealth and a number of Australian shipping and stevedoring companies. This agreement is a comprehensive one and covers such matters as the provision of shipping services around the coast, support of the shipbuilding industry, and other matters, lt contains, among other things, lengthy and rather complex clauses governing the engagement of the Australian National Line in the booking of cargo and in the conduct of stevedoring operations. The purport of these clauses, briefly stated, is that the Australian National Line may not engage in these activities provided that the companies which are parties to the agreement provide an efficient service at reasonable rates. The arrangement has operated satisfactorily so far as the Australian National Line is concerned and has also been an economical way of providing these services for the Australian National Line compared with the expense it would be put to if it had to set up and staff offices in all the ports to which its vessels are trading.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That Order of the Day No. I, Government Business, be postponed until a later hour this day.
– I should like to know from the Minister his reason for wishing to postpone Order of the Day No. 1. He wants to wipe out grievance day, I take it, and he seeks to do that for some particular reason. Is it because he wants to facilitate the debate on the Estimates, or the passage of legislation? Honorable members should not lightly give away their right to grieve unless they are convinced that the Government has very good reason for pursuing the course it wishes to follow now.
– in reply - there are two reasons for this action. The first is that it is essential that the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill be passed through this House today and sent to the Senate as quickly as we can get it
– Why did you not start the sittings of the Parliament earlier, instead of waiting until well into the year?
– I am trying to answer one question at a time. If ever an attempt was made to hold up the business of the House, it was made by the Opposition yesterday.
– That is a deliberate fabrication.
– If honorable members opposite will stop interrupting, I shall proceed. I have tried to adjust the–
– I will not be disciplined by you.
– If I have hurt your feelings, I regret it. I have no wish to hurt your feelings.
I have tried to adjust the business of the House to fit in with the requirements of the Opposition rather more than with the requirements of the Government. Debate on the Bill has been held over because we had a debate on the “ Voyager “ incident and because we had before the House yesterday a very important bill which was not passed until an early hour this morning. In addition, we must get on with the Appropriation Bill itself and debate the Estimates. During the debate on the Estimates honorable members will have opportunity to raise matters relating to individual departments. I think it will be commonly conceded that during this debate honorable members will be able to raise matters that they might ordinarily have raised this morning.
– I think that honorable members are entitled to a fuller explanation than that given by the Minister in charge of the House.
– Order! The Minister for Labour and National Service closed the debate when he spoke. I regret that at the time I called the Minister I was not aware that he would be closing the debate.
– I suggest that the Minister was replying to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition. Surely the Minis
– Order! Under the Standing Orders, although the Minister for Labour and National Service rose to reply to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, in doing so be closed the debate.
– I ask for leave to ask a question of the Minister.
– Is leave granted?
– I thank the Minister and honorable members for affording me the opportunity to ask a further question. The Minister said that it is necessary to get the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill through this House and the other place, as I understand it so that it can be signed by the Governor-General next Wednesday, thus enabling the first payment under it to be made next Thursday. I ask: Why is it not possible to have the full debate on the Bill in this House today - that is, this afternoon and tonight - and expect to get the Bill through the other place on Tuesday of next week? It is not a long Bill. It is begging the question to say that it is necessary to abandon Grievance Day this morn-‘ ing so that this Bill may be adequately debated here and in the other place in the two full days that are available for debate. I would think the reason the Minister has given does not justify doing away with Grievance Day this morning. Why can we not debate the Bill in this House in the time available this afternoon and tonight?
– I move -
That the Minister for Labour and National Service be given leave to reply.
– Order! If the Minister wishes to reply, the Standing Orders provide that he may ask for leave of the House to reply. There is no necessity for a motion.
Mr. McMAHON (Lowe - Minister for Labour and National Service). - by leave - The reasons for taking the action we have taken are very well known to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). As he knows, we would be cutting it much too fine if we did not get the Bill through the House this morning and attempt to get it through the Senate this afternoon. He knows also that a lot of administrative work has to be done next week to get the Bill before the Governor-General for his signature on Wednesday. It must be there some time on Tuesday. That was thoroughly explained and well understood. That is the reason why we want the Bill through the Parliament today. In addition - I have said this before and I repeat it now - we are falling behind in the debate on the Appropriation Bill and the Estimates.
– But you have Supply until the end of October.
– Maybe we have, but we must complete the debate. There are also other bills that must be passed. I have already explained the reasons for our action to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I can add nothing further.
– I seek leave to submit a viewpoint on the matter before the House.
– Is leave granted?
– Once again we see Executive control of the Parliament. We are run by the hierarchy.
– Order! The honorable member for Newcastle will resume his seat.
– I move -
That the honorable member for Newcastle be heard.
– Order! In the circumstances, the honorable member cannot move that the honorable member for Newcastle be heard. Leave is granted to an honorable member as a privilege of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 15th September (vide page 1043), on motion by Mr. Freeth -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Before I touch on the measure before the House, may I say that I regret that it seems that, every time a measure comes to the Parliament to implement a Budget proposal and the Opposition wants to exercise its right to debate the measure at least in reasonable hours, the Government pleads that it must hasten on, that the measure must be passed - in this instance, before Wednesday - so that increased payments may be made to the recipients of the pensions. That is very naive of the Government. After all, the Parliament adjourned for a recess in May last and did not reassemble until 11th August. Surely it is reasonable to ask that, in order to avoid this sort of trouble and to provide ample time in reasonable hours to debate these important measures, the Parliament reassemble some time, say, early in July. This would avoid the rush to get these measures through, without adequate discussion, after we have had a long recess.
Now, Sir, having enjoyed your indulgence, let me come to the subject matter before the House at the moment. The measure before us covers a single sheet of paper, which has important information on one side and even more important information on the other side. It looks quite innocuous. It does not look very important. Yet it concerns a very important and deserving section of the community. The Bill amends the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act 1940-1961 and is, of course, the result of proposals made by the Government in the Budget to increase seamen’s war pensions in line with increased payments made to people with similar eligibility under the Repatriation Act.
The increased rates proposed in the Bill are inadequate. History shows that since the original Repatriation Act was enacted in this Parliament there have been numerous and extensive amendments. The amendments to the Repatriation Act deal not only with the increased rates that from time to time are made necessary by the changing value of money, but also with the grant of more generous qualifying conditions, with moves to facilitate the hearing of applications and appeals, and so on. But no attempt has been made to rectify the anomalies in the treatment of merchant seamen that have arisen since the amendment in 1952 of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act, which deals with people who suffered injuries and disabilities as a result of service during the two wars, and which was originally enacted in 1940. That was the first Act to compensate seamen for injuries and disabilities.. Then we had the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946 and so on.
Numerous anomalies have arisen from lime to time in respect of the Repatriation Act and this Parliament, under this and other Governments, has rectified those anomalies as they have arisen. This Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act is quite a substantial and complicated document and requires to be brought up to dale in various aspects other than those dealing with the rates of compensation payable. I do not think there is any excuse for not bringing it up to date. Of course merchant seamen are not eligible for membership of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia and, having no spokesman from a body such as that, it may be that they have been overlooked and that the Government has not been very interested in them.
I refreshed my memory last night about this legislation. I found that the body which administers the legislation is not the Repatriation Commission. I do not blame the Government for this. As a matter of fact, I think that there may be some virtue in having the administration of the legislation in the hands of a body other than the Repatriation Commission. In any case, the administration is carried out by the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee, which was established under the Act and charged with the responsibility of determining whether an applicant seaman is suffering from a disability due to some war occurrence. But then we find a very serious anomaly. If a seaman is dissatisfied with a decision of a Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee - there can be a number of them - be can appeal only to the Repatriation Commission. Everybody knows that if a serviceman is dissatisfied with a decision of the repatriation authority with which he lodges his first application, he may appeal to the Repatriation Commission, and then he has a final appeal to what is supposed to be an entirely independent authority set up by this Parliament and approved by all political parties. A seaman has an appeal to the Repatriation Commissioner and that is the end of it.
Why should not a seaman who considers that the disability from which he is suffering results from service during the war have a right of appeal to a body independent of the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee, such as the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals to which ex-servicemen may appeal? I cannot see any reason why he should not have this right. It is true that a seaman can appeal to an authority which has not made the original determination and is, in effect, an outside authority, but my point is that an ex-serviceman has at least two appeals available to him and can finally go to an outside authority. I think this is an anomaly that should bc rectified.
I want also to refer to the position of seamen’s widows. I realise that the widow of a seaman who dies as a result of war injuries is allowed the same pension as the widow of a returned soldier, but there is one privilege that she does not enjoy which is available to the widow of a returned soldier. I think I am correct in this and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) may point out my error if I am wrong. If the widow of a deceased exserviceman remarries she may still receive a pension of about £1 4s. a week. Is there any reason why the widow of a deceased merchant seaman should not get the same continuing compensation?
There is a wide range of other anomalies in this legislation. They will be referred to by the honorable members for Bass (Mr. Barnard), Newcastle (Mr. Jones) and Batman (Mr. Benson), who have a far wider knowledge of these matters than I have because they live in seaport areas and have a close contact with seamen, who are supposed to benefit from this measure. I point out only one other matter at this stage, because I believe this is a measure that can be dealt with more fittingly in Committee. I refer to another discrimination against seamen as compared with returned soldiers. This involves the onus of proof provision in the Repatriation Act. As far as I can ascertain, there is no provision in the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act for the benefit of the doubt to be given to the seaman when there is a doubt as to the cause of his physical incapacity. If this provision is made for ex-servicemen, however worthless it may be - it is not worthless in every case - is there any reason why it should not be made also for mariners who served in conditions of great danger during war periods?
– It is a much more limited field.
– That may be, but the Minister knows that in many cases no more than 60 or 70 per cent, of the personnel of a particular brigade or division actually served in a danger area. He also knows that many ships did not actually get into a very dangerous zone. Is there any reason why the men on ships which did get into a danger zone should be denied the privileges given to repatriation pensioners, because some of their fellow seamen were not in a danger zone? The honorable gentleman knows that in World War I, and no doubt in World War II, some members of units never got out of London. Some men might have got out for a week. They might have gone into France to deliver a message. Yet they have the right to claim the benefit of the onus of proof provision and the right to appeal to War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. Are not the circumstances identical or, to say the least, very similar?
I point out another feature of this matter as a result of my perusal of the report of the last debate on this matter in this Parliament. That was on an amendment of the Act which also dealt only with rates. When the Opposition moved amendments, they were all rejected despite their intrinsic merit. In that debate a certain story was put forward by one member of the Government parties who is now the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney). In defence of the attitude that the Government adopted, he pointed out that a merchant seaman, during his period of service, received a substantially higher income than that received by the enlisted soldier, airman or sailor. That is a pretty weak reed. The plain fact is that in all the services some ranks receive substantially higher rates of pay than other ranks. In the Army a colonel and his offsider, the adjutant, receive pounds a day whereas the poor old private receives shillings a day. But we do not provide that a colonel, major, or captain shall receive a greater repatriation benefit than the private. Of course, the higher ranks in the armed forces receive higher pensions than the lower ranks.
To be completely logical, we can make out a very good case for the seaman receiving the same privileges and rights as are available under the Repatriation Act. The mere fact that a seaman may have received three times the amount received by a private is no justification for depriving him of compensatory benefits After all, the need of the seaman’s dependants for food, raiment and other things that the seaman, had he lived or had he suffered less serious disabilities, would have been able to supply in plentitude is just as great as that of the dependants of an enlisted man.
I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport to take heed of these matters. I have an idea that in reply to a recent question he was generous enough to acknowledge that this Act ought to be made more generous. I think he foreshadowed that he would bring down a measure to make it more generous. But that measure has not appeared. I regard him as a man of good faith. I hope that he will be able to tell the Parliament that he will bring down amendments now. If he cannot do that, I hope that he will be so convinced by the case put forward by my colleagues that he will make arrangements for amendments along the lines that I have suggested to be incorporated in this measure in the Senate. I leave it at that at this stage. I will make other contributions during the Committee stage.
– I wish to refer to only one matter. In an answer to a question asked in the House recently the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) said that he intended to bring down another amending bill in regard to certain anomalies which the Government felt should be corrected to enable certain seamen to receive treatment at repatriation hospitals. I hope that there will be no long delay in introducing that measure. During the term of office of a previous Minister for Shipping and Transport, I had quite a long correspondence or fight with that Minister over one case about which I think honorable members would be interested to hear.
In Melbourne during the war, a merchant seaman was asked to volunteer with others for service on United States Navy tankers. He did so volunteer. He served in the Atlantic on United States naval tankers. Since then he has had certain illnesses which his doctor stated - whether correctly or otherwise 1 will not go into at this stage - had been affected by his service. This is no criticism of the administration; but when this man appealed to the authorities he was told: “ You served on United States Navy tankers, so it is a matter for the United States “. But the United States says: “ You are an Australian citizen, so it is a matter for Australia “. He was tossed about from one to the other. Under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act as it stands, unless a seaman received personal injury during his service he receives no compensation.
If I remember rightly, this man is entitled to wear seven service ribbons. He has been admitted as a member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I have not the file with me. I am speaking subject to correction. But I think I am also correct in saying that he is a sometime president of a branch of the R.S.L. I know that the Minister will agree that it is all wrong that somebody who has been accepted as a member of the League - the conditions about overseas service are fairly stringent - should be tossed about between the United States authorities and the Australian authorities even in order to get his case considered. In Australia he receives no satisfaction.
I ask the Minister to have a look at that correspondence when he is dealing with the amending bill. Irrespective of whether this man is entitled to receive medical treatment, irrespective of whether or not the decision is in his favour, at least he should bc able to get his case heard here in Australia by an Australian authority either under the Repatriation Act or under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. Therefore, I ask the Minister to have a look at this case as an outstanding example of some of the anomalies which have occurred but which may not have been brought to his notice.
– I wish to move an amendment to the motion now before the House. I move -
That all words after “That” be omitted wilh a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for an appropriate allowance (a) vo a remarried widow of an Australian mariner whose death has been accepted for purposes of section 12 of the Act who is again widowed, and (b) to the parent or parents of such an Australian mariner “.
In moving this amendment, I point out that on a previous occasion I asked the predecessor of the present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is at the table, to accept a similar amendment. I was promised that the Government would have a look at it and that if the Government agreed that there was some substance in it an appropriate amendment would be brought down at a later stage. Unfortunately the then Minister rejected the amendment. He could not see any substance in it, and my request was refused. I now submit a similar amendment and I shall state my reasons. It is very clear that numerous anomalies exist in this Act. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) brought to the attention of the House a clear example of an injustice suffered by a former mariner. I can cite a similar instance with regard to a seaman’s widow who remarried and was widowed again, and also an instance of intolerance by the authorities with regard to a war caused disability.
I remind honorable members that this Bill, in the words of the Minister for Shipping and Transport, is very closely associated with the Repatriation Act. The Minister said -
This Bill follows in the wake of the Repatriation Bill, the two together implementing the Government’s decision to increase further the pensions payable to ex-service personnel and wartime mariners.
T do not propose to quote any further than that from the Minister’s remarks. However, I believe that that small part of the Minister’s speech demonstrates very clearly that he and the Government agree that the two Acts are associated. The bills with which the House has been dealing simply provide adjustments to the Repatriation Act and the Social Services Act, which we dealt with yesterday at length, and now we are dealing with similar legislation to provide for mariners who served during the war in the Merchant Navy. Those bills, implement the Government’s policy to increase pensions to civilian widows, age and invalid pensioners, and also service pensioners.
If the Social Services Aci. the Repatriation Act and the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act are closely associated, why is it that conditions applying under the Repatriation Act are not applied also under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act? What is the difference between a member of the Royal Australian Navy and a member of the Merchant Navy who have each been injured in war service? I can see no difference. If in each case their ships are torpedoed in the one action, surely the men are entitled to the same benefits. Taking that argument a little further, if men in the respective services are killed in the same action, surely their widows are entitled to the same benefits under the respective Acts. Consequently, if the wife of a member of the Merchant Navy is widowed, remarries and is widowed again, surely she is entitled to the conditions that apply under Regulation 176, which provides, subject to the means test, a very small payment of £2 8s. a fortnight.
As the Repatriation Act has been interpreted, the widow of a serviceman who has remarried and become widowed again and who receives less than £3 10s. a week, which is the permissable income, will receive the difference between her income and the widow’s allowance. If she has no income she receives £2 8s. a fortnight, but she can have an income of £4 a fortnight and still receive the full £2 8s. a fortnight. There is no rhyme or reason why the conditions that apply to persons covered by the Repatriation Act - this kindred and associated Act - should not apply to the widow of a merchant seaman. It is for that reason that 1 have asked that a new clause be inserted in the bill. I would be quite happy to withdraw my amendment if the Minister would give an assurance that the Government will consider this anomaly in another place and will submit the appropriate amendment to correct it.
Let us consider also the section of the Act which relates to parents of deceased mariners. Under the Repatriation Act the parents of a deceased ex-serviceman are, subject to a means test, entitled to a fortnightly pension, the amount of the pension depending on the rank of the ex-serviceman. A single surviving parent of a deceased private is entitled to £4 10s.; where both parents are living there is an extra payment of £2 for the spouse; in the case of a deceased corporal the parent receives £5 plus £2 for his spouse; for a sergeant the amount is £5 5s. plus £2 for the spouse; for a warrant officer it is £5 13s. 6d. plus £2; a lieutenant, £5 18s. plus £2; a captain, £6 8s. plus £2; a major, £6 19s. plus £2; a lieutenant-colonel, £7 lis. plus £2; a colonel, £8 3s. plus £2; and above the rank of colonel £8 6s. plus £2. The same rates apply to equivalent ranks in the Air Force and the Navy. The Repatriation Act provides for the dependents of exservicemen, subject to a means test. To me it is quite clear that there is an anomaly when the conditions that apply to parents of deceased mariners who have been accepted as coming within the provisions of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowance Act are different from the conditions which apply under the Repatriation Act.
Very few people in Australia realise the number of Australian merchant seamen who were killed, not in actions overseas but in actions off the Australian coast. During the last war, as a result of action off the Australian coast, 288 men were killed, 39 died of injuries, 37 died while prisoners of war, 9 were lost at sea, 5 died of illness and 8 -died from unknown causes. A total of 386 members of the Merchant Navy lost their lives as a result of service ofl the Australian coast during the last war. The number of ships that were lost off the Australian coast is not generally known. Because of security regulations during the war no publicity was given to the sinking of a ship - it was hushed up completely. Only those people who were associated with the industry realised, for example, that one of the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. ships, the “ Iron Knight “ or “ Iron Chieftain “, was sunk off the Australian coast. The ship had been plying between Newcastle and South Australia, and when it did not return to port it was realised by those in the industry that something had happened to it. Nothing appeared in the Press to indicate that the ship had been sunk off the Australian coast.
I propose to cite figures to emphasise the number of ships that were involved in enemy action off the Australian coast. Eighteen ships were lost either by mines, torpedo or shell fire from enemy submarines. Two other ships similarly involved managed to return to port in a damaged condition. Loss of life occurred on each of these 20 ships, which were lost or damaged in other than the actual war zone. I refer to areas such as that off the east coast of Australia, which was classified as a danger zone for the purpose of issuing medals. Sixteen other ships were engaged in action in the actual war zone around Darwin and New Guinea. Of the 16, 10 were lost, with loss of lives, and 6 returned to port in a damaged condition. On each of the six some lives were lost. Other ships off the Australian coast were damaged without lives being lost.
Off the east coast of Australia eleven ships were involved. Of those, five were sunk and six returned to port damaged. One ship was mined off the South Australian coast, but it was able to return to port. The same thing happened off the Western Australian coast where a ship which was damaged was able to return to port. In all, 56 ships were attacked by enemy submarines off the Australian coast and 36 were lost. From that, honorable members can see that there was considerable activity for seamen who served along the the Australian coast and were involved in enemy action. Certainly in that area there was not the huge loss of life that occurred in the Atlantic or in other zones in the Pacific Ocean. There was not a great loss of life on the Australian coast but, as I have said, a considerable number of ships were lost in that area.
I am also concerned about the Australian seamen who took part in these actions. As honorable members know, during the war years seamen signed on ships operating on the Australian coast which went overseas. While they were overseas they were stranded and could not be repatriated so they sought employment on ships on the Atlantic run and in the Pacific zone. While these men did not actually receive war injuries by enemy action, they suffered from the effects of this service as did men in the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy. I know of a man who has suffered with ulcers ever since the end of World War II, but he cannot receive any compensation whatever because the ulcers are not the direct result of enemy action.
If a man is to be eligible for benefits under the Seamen’s War Pensions and
Allowances Act, the injury or complaint for which the benefit is paid must have been caused by shellfire, gunfire or torpedo. If a man coming up from the engine room was knocked off the ladder when the torpedo exploded and broke an arm or a leg, then he is considered to have sustained an injury as a direct result of enemy action. Under the Repatriation Act, the Repatriation Commission accepts that war service contributes to nervous complaints and to ulcers. I was successful in helping a man who made such an application to an appeals tribunal last month. The Repatriation Department accepted that his nervous complaint was due to his war service with the R.A.N. Yet the other man who served in the Merchant Navy on the Australian coast in the Atlantic and the Pacific is not eligible for compensation under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act although his ship was torpedoed and he served on other ships when they were pursued on numerous occasions by enemy submarines. He is not eligible for a pension or a benefit because he did not sustain an injury directly by enemy action. This Act should be reviewed to overcome such anomalies.
Numerous cases relevant to this matter have been brought to our attention. One was mentioned by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) and I are jointly acting on behalf of another man who approached me in Newcastle and also contacted the honorable member for Batman in Melbourne. The honorable member for Batman will outline this case which is a very deserving one. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) has similar complaints. The amendment I have moved will partly rectify what I consider to be an anomaly but I believe the Act should be completely reviewed. The word “direct” should be deleted wherever it appears in the Act. Where the Act reads -
Where any Australian mariner, not being a pilot, has died while suffering detention or dies or becomes incapacitated as a direct result . . . it should be amended to read “ incapacitated as a result of having sustained a war injury in the course of his employment as an Australian mariner”.
Whether or not the injury was directly the result of enemy action should not be considered. The man I have spoken about was continually involved in enemy action but because he did not sustain injury in action he is not entitled to any compensation payment. But under the Repatriation Act he would be a living certainty - to use a racing term - and would be entitled to a pension of some sort. I ask all honorable members, and the Minister in particular, to accept the amendment I have submitted in the interests of those women who were widowed, remarried and were widowed again and the parents of mariners who lost their lives as a result of enemy action.
– ls the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
.- The Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act was introduced in this Parliament on the 21st September 1940, it has been therefore in existence for almost 24 years. Honorable members on this side of the House believe that there is a need to remove some of the anomalies in the Act, to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) who preceded mc in this debate.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) introduced this Bill on Tuesday, 15th September, and his second reading speech must be regarded as one of the shortest on record. It occupied two paragraphs in “ Hansard “. In his speech the Minister indicated that certain allowances now being paid to Australian mariners who qualified under the Act would be increased to the same levels as those paid under the Repatriation Act. As I have said, the Minister’s speech occupied exactly two paragraphs. He did not take the opportunity of referring to one or two matters for which I know he has accepted some responsibility and concerning which he intends to make some amendment to remove at least one anomaly. He indicated this during question time recently. I want to inform the Minister that because we on the Opposition side believe that there are anomalies in this Act, we intend to take the opportunity to move certain amendments in the committee stage. I understand the Minister has indicated that he intends, at a later stage, to move for the amendment of the Act to provide for treatment in repatriation hospitals for mariners who are totally and permanently incapacitated, whether or not their injuries are due to war service. The Opposition has already considered this point. Tt intends to move an amendment along those lines today.
The Opposition also intends to move an amendment providing for a further right of appeal for Australian mariners. My colleague the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has already dealt with this matter. So far as Australian mariners are concerned, the circumstances relating to the acceptance of a disability under this Act apply equally to ex-servicemen under the Repatriation Act. In other words, the initial machinery for the application is much the same. In effect a mariner who believes his disability is due to service in the Merchant Navy submits his application to the Repatriation Department. His case is then investigated in the normal manner. The Repatriation Department authorises a medical examination, which is conducted in due course. The result of that examination is referred to a Repatriation Board, which, in turn, submits to a Pensions Committee the medical evidence and any other relevant evidence supplied by the merchant seaman.
The Opposition believes that at this stage we need a review of the circumstances under which these applications are heard. The various Pensions Committees apparently are appointed by the Governor-General. Opposition members do not know how many of these Committees are in existence throughout Australia. No report respecting them is ever presented to this Parliament. No doubt, the machinery under which they are appointed does not require the Minister for Shipping and Transport to present a report to the Parliament. As I have said, not sufficient is known about these Committees.
We believe that, in the circumstances that I have outlined, an Australian mariner who has applied for a disability to be accented as due to war service should have a right of appeal similar to that accorded to ex-servicemen under the terms of Repatriation Act. This is a matter of common justice. As my colleague, the honorable member for Newcastle, has already pointed out, the Australian mariner in time of war is subject to the same conditions as those to which servicemen are subject. Many Australian mariners served in the Merchant Navy during the last war on merchant vessels to which members of the Royal Australian Navy had been seconded as gunners. In many instances, both R.A.N, personnel and Merchant Navy members served on one ship.
– At the same rates of pay?
– No. Apparently, the honorable member is not aware of the situation. I shall elaborate the point for his benefit. Royal Australian Navy men served as gunners on many Merchant Navy ships. A man who had served as a member of the Navy on a Merchant Navy ship would have a final right of appeal to a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal if he had applied for a disability to be accepted as due to war service and his application had been rejected in turn by a Repatriation Board and then the Repatriation Commission. A similar right of appeal ought to be extended to Merchant Navy men, many of whom, as I have pointed out, would have served beside naval men on the same ship. The similarity of service warrants this being done.
I do not suggest that those who serve on Pensions Committees are not in a position to make a fair assessment of the situation of a mariner whose application comes before them. They probably are able to make a fair assessment, and I have no doubt that they do so, in the light of all the evidence that is made available to them. But a former member of the Merchant Navy has no right to appear before any board such as a Repatriation Board, any body such as the Repatriation Commission, or any Pensions Committee to state his own case. We urge the Minister for Shipping and Transport to reconsider the matter. If he is prepared to arrange for an appropriate amendment to be moved in another place, we shall not proceed at the committee stage with the amendments that I have foreshadowed. However, the Opposition feels obliged to proceed in the way that I have outlined unless the Minister is pre pared to assure us that these anomalies (hat I have mentioned will bc removed.
Let me turn now to matters that were mentioned by the Minister in his second reading speech. I merely wish to point out at this stage that the Bill provides for the payment to merchant seamen of increased benefits similar to those payable under the Repatriation Bill 1964, which has recently been considered by this Parliament. Under the terms of the measure that we are now considering, an increase of 10s. a fortnight will be paid to the wife of a totally incapacitated Australian mariner pensioner and 10s. a week to a totally incapacitated mariner. During the debate on the Repatriation Bill, we pointed out that the rates provided for were inadequate. We staled that we believed that the rate payable to a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman should not bc less than the basic wage. I believe that the arguments advanced in that debate apply equally well to war pensions and allowances for seamen. Therefore, we declare that the rates of pension provided for in this measure should be increased to a level at least equivalent to the basic wage.
I have carefully studied this Bill and the principal Act. As I have already pointed out, the original Act was introduced 24 years ago. I have no doubt that those who drafted it intended to ensure that Australian mariners who suffered injury during World War II would receive proper compensation for their injuries. I believe that in many respects the Act safeguards the rights of Australian mariners. I have already mentioned one or two anomalies that wc believe ought to be removed from it, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. I have said that Australian mariners should have a right of appeal similar to the right of appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal under the Repatriation Act. My colleague from Newcastle has mentioned the need to provide for an Australian mariner’s widow who remarries and is widowed again, rights similar to those accorded to widows under the Repatriation Act. The honorable member has adequately outlined the reasons for the amendment proposed by him on behalf of the Opposition.
A third matter that I want to raise is the question of medical treatment. 1 have already pointed out that in many instances there is great similarity between the war service of an Australian mariner and that of a member of the Royal Australian Navy. For this reason, we believe that an Australian mariner whose disability has been accepted as entitling him to a pension for total and permanent incapacity as provided for in the principal Act should be entitled to medical treatment on the same terms as we now accord to ex-servicemen under the provisions of the Repatriation Act. In a recent amendment to that Act, this Government provided for free medical treatment for all service pensioners whether or not a disability is war caused.
I point out that a service pension may be paid to an ex-serviceman in respect of a number of disabilities not accepted by the Repatriation Department as being due to war service. A totally and permanently incapacitated service pensioner is paid a pension equivalent to the rate of invalid pension under the Socal Services Act. As a result of agitation by honorable members on this side of the Parliament over a number of years, the Government recently extended to totally and permanently incapacitated service pensioners free medical treatment in repatriation hospitals. We believe that Australian mariners who served in wartime ought to receive simliar benefits, particularly for a disability that renders a man totally and permanently incapacitated as provided in the principal Act. I believe that the cost to the Government probably would not be great, and the Minister must be aware of this. We believe that the Minister might, at this stage, have a look at this question. I again suggest to him that if he is prepared to arrange for an amendment to be moved in another place when this Bill is being debated there, then the Opposition will not proceed with its amendment now. I have referred to one or two anomalies which the Government ought to remove from the Act.
The Act, to a certain extent, provides a coverage for Australian mariners. In many respects it is very generous, but we believe it can be improved upon in the way I have suggested. The honorable member for Newcastle a few moments ago referred to a case for which he had been fighting for a number of years. I think all honorable members have had similar experiences with applications that have been lodged by Australian mariners to have disabilities which they believe are due to war service accepted as such by the committee to which I have just referred. One particular case I call to mind relates to a mariner who served during the whole of the 1939-1945 war. When he joined the Merchant Navy his physical condition was quite satisfactory, but following his resignation from the Merchant Navy there was an obvious deterioration in his eyesight. Today he is receiving a blind pension under the Social Services Act! For a number of years he has fought to have this disability accepted as being due to his service in the Merchant Navy, but it has not been accepted and at no time, despite my endeavours to help, has this ex-member of the Merchant Navy had the right to appear before a tribunal - whether it be the Repatriation Board, the Repatriation Commission or the committee to which I referred - and put his case. He has not had accorded to him the privilege that is accorded to an ex-member of the Services to appear before a tribunal. I suggest that in a case like this, where there must be an element of doubt, only a tribunal as suggested by the member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) this morning would be able to discharge the onus of proof as it applies under section 47 of the Repatriation Act. No mariner has the right to appear before a tribunal under this Act, therefore in no circumstances or at no time can the onus of proof, as under section 47 of the Repatriation Act, be discharged. We believe it ought to be applied and for that reason, as I have said, the Opposition intends to move an amendment at the appropriate stage.
– Are you going to move an amendment that the Royal Australian Navy seaman be back-paid a big salary for the war years as was the mariner?
– That is a debatable point. However, if one makes a fair assessment of these matters he will find that whilst the Merchant Navy man was paid a salary as a crew member of a ship on service during the war years he did not receive deferred pay or many of the other privileges that were accorded to a serving member of the Royal Australian Navy. If one carefully examines the circumstances that applied in those days it can be seen that there was very little difference between the remuneration paid to a member of the Royal Australian Navy serving abroad and a member of the Merchant Navy. You must consider these matters to which I have just referred - the deferred pay, the wife’s allowance, and all the other circumstances that applied to a serving member of the R.A.N. If one adopts a fair attitude one will concede that there was not much difference in the remunerations to which the honorable member referred. I. am not prepared to debate the point at length; there may be good reasons for the honorable member asserting that view. It would be just as competent for me to argue that there is a great disparity between the pay rates of a captain in the Royal Australian Navy and an ordinary seaman in the Merchant Navy and that pensions arc paid accordingly. If one seeks arguments when dealing with rates of pay and the matter to which the honorable member for La Trobe referred in his interjection one finds a number of anomalies.
The Opposition is not concerned with these matters at the moment; wc are dealing wilh what we believe are matters of common justice. For the benefit of the House let me enumerate them again quickly. First, wc believe that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Newcastle should in common justice be accepted by the Minister. It would not involve the Government in great expenditure, but would merely give to the ex-member of the Merchant Navy - the Austraiian mariner - or the widow of a mariner, the same conditions that apply to an ex-serviceman or the widow of an ex-serviceman under the Repatriation Act.
Secondly, we believe that the Government should move to provide for an entitlement tribunal in addition to the seaman’s committees that are now established. No doubt the Minister will take the opportunity to tell the House something about these committees, how many there are in existence and how they operate. The Parliament is entitled to that information.
Thirdly, and finally, we believe that the Minister ought to move immediately to provide, as we have suggested and as our amendment shows, free medical treatment for totally and permanently disabled exseamen in the same way that it is now accorded to ex-members of the Services under the Repatriation Act.
.- I support the remarks of the previous speakers and I also endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). The House will recall that in September 1939 when Britain declared war on Germany - and rightly so - our present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was then Prime Minister of Australia, and he committed Australia to war - again, rightly so. I remember hearing him speak when Australia was committed to war. At the end of his speech he said: “ The following industries are protected industries “’, and he enumerated many industries including the shipping industry. This was the correct thing to do, because you cannot engage in war without making sonic provision to keep the work forces of the nation at work, otherwise you would have men leaving their factories and offices to flock to the colours, Australians being so patriotic. If the Prime Minister had not done that we would have had a temporary state of chaos.
During the war these restrictions were lifted from several industries, but not from the shipping industry. Consequently, very few people, unless they were members of the Naval Reserve, Air Force or Militia, could get away from the shipping industry and join the Army, Navy or Air Force. They were told that they were serving in the Merchant Navy and were doing their part towards victory. I think honorable members will agree with that. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) has referred to a case that has been brought to his attention. I am an ex-mariner and several cases have been brought to my attention. I know of the case referred to by the honorable member for Chisholm, lt concerns a man who served at sea throughout the war. People who served at sea under blackout conditions, without air conditioning, suffered extreme discomfort. The stress of war played havoc with their nerves. The effects of those stresses arc now showing up in the people who survived the war.
We on this side of the House think that people who served in the Merchant Navy during wartime should receive the same benefits as are paid to people who served in the Navy. Let mc refer to some anomalies that arose during the war. It was general for a merchant ship to be fitted with one gun aft. It was usually a 4-inch gun but if you were lucky you got a 6-inch gun. To man the gun the Navy provided one gunner. The remainder of the gunnery crew were Merchant Navy men, who were given a short course in gunnery at a Naval establishment. I think seven men manned a 4-inch gun. One of those seven was a Navy man and the other six were members of the ship’s personnel. When the gun was manned the ratio of ship’s personnel to Navy men was six to one. If anything happened to that gunnery crew in the stress of war the only man entitled to compensation at the hands of the Commonwealth was the naval gunner. The Opposition contends that all men involved should be entitled to equal benefits. I cannot see why people who served in one branch of war service should receive benefits different to those paid to persons who served in another branch.
The honorable member for Newcastle referred to the loss of ships around the Australian coastline. Several Australian seamen served overseas in ships for yean without returning to Australia. Let me tell honorable members how this situation arose. A ship would come to an Australian port and, because of sickness, at sailing time it would be short of its full complement. The full complement was made up by Australian seamen. They went overseas with the ship and served in the Atlantic and other theatres of war. As soon as they joined a ship other than an Australian ship - they may have joined a Norwegian ship, a British ship or the ship of some other country supporting the allied cause - they ceased to be the responsibility of the Australian
Government. These men paid a terrific price as a result. I remember going to the Boomerang Club in London during the war where Lady Bruce and Lady Duncan were giving their services voluntarily and I was amazed at the number of Merchant Navy men who were present in the club. I have always felt a great admiration for the efforts of Lady Bruce and Lady Duncan. They worked very hard on behalf of those men. 1 have taken out some figures to show what happened in the Battle of the Atlantic where some Australian seamen served, lt must be remembered that the nation which bore the brunt of that battle was Britain. It may bc said that Australia’s participation so far as numbers of men are concerned was negligible, but Australians did take part in the battle. Now they find that they are not entitled to repatriation benefits to which other ex-servicemen are entitled. In the Battle of the Atlantic 30,589 men of the Merchant Navy were killed. The number posted missing was 4,690. The number injured totalled 4,215 and 4,088 were taken prisoner of war. Britain lost 4,786 ships - 21,250,000 tons of shipping. In addition 6,500,000 tons of shipping was continually immobilised while ships were undergoing repair of damage caused by enemy action. U boats accounted for 2,775 ships. In the course of the battle 781 U boats were sunk. Germany lost 29,619 officers and men. Honorable members will see that the Battle of the Atlantic was some show, and, as I have said, Australia had a few men who took part in this gigantic task. It is only fair that they should receive the same treatment as is received by men who served in other theatres of war. I do not see why the Repatriation Act should discriminate between one arm of the Services and another. I hope that the Government will look into this matter.
Not long ago I spoke with a young man who is a fourth generation Australian. When he was 16 years of age he volunteered to serve overseas on a Merchant Navy ship. His ship was shelled in the Atlantic and sunk. It may be said that he was fortunate in some respects because he was picked up by the submarine which sank his ship.
– Or was he fortunate?
– He may not have been. He became a prisoner of war in Germany. He was repatriated to Australia, but that is all Australia has done for him. When he joined the ship, for all intents and purposes he lost his Australian nationality. I have been trying to get something done for him, but, like the person to whom the honorable member for Chisholm referred, he has been wiped. The Australian Government does not want to own him, but it should be remembered that when a ship left Australia she carried Australian goods for our servicemen serving overseas. Despite this, this little fellow who volunteered at 16 years of age is not classed as having taken part in Australia’s war effort. Britain does not own him. Britain says he is Australia’s responsibility and Australia says that he is somebody else’s responsibility.
– What does he get now?
– At present he gets nothing. As the honorable member for Newcastle knows, he is receiving treatment in a mental institution. He has been in several mental institutions. I cannot get him into a repatriation mental home. He says that the authorities consider he is mad but he himself does not think he is mad. I do not want to go too deeply into this matter because it is too pathetic. This is only one case. I know of many others, including the most deserving case referred to by the honorable member for Chisholm. I know that the Government approaches these matters humanely but the part played in the war effort by the Merchant Navy is not generally understood, either by Government supporters or by supporters on this side of the House.
– Or by the general public.
– That is so. I make a plea for something to be done for these people who played their part in the war effort. Let us see that they get justice just as we try to give justice to people who served in the other arms of the Services.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Jones’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- This is the first bill to amend the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act since 1961. In 1962, 1 submitted to the Minister for
Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) that an amendment should be made to the principal Act. The amendment has not been made in the Bill before the House, but, since the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) informed us yesterday that there would be another bill amending the principal Act during the current financial year, 1 now put the case for the amendment in the hope that it can be incorporated in the next bill.
Ten years ago the Parliament expressed the clear intention that war widows’ pensions should be exempted from taxation. My interest in the taxation situation under the Act comes from the case of a widow whose daughter brought it to my notice in June 1962. The widow and her husband migrated to Australia in 1921. Her late husband was presumed dead after the torpedoing on 27th March 1944 of M.V. “Tulagi”, which was owned by Burns Philp & Co. Ltd., registered in Hong Kong and under the command and direction of the British Ministry of War Transport. The widow received a pension from the British Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance under the Mercantile Marine Scheme. Australia supplemented her pension as an act of grace under conditions similar to those that applied to widows who were then eligible under the Seamen’s .War Pensions and Allowances Act, The widow became directly eligible for a pension from Australia when the Act was amended in 1952 by extending the definition of an Australian mariner to cover - (a;0 any master, officer or seaman . . . who was, or whose dependants were, resident in Australia for at least 12 months immediately before his entering into the agreement or indenture.
The pension was reduced under section 53a, which was also inserted in 1952, by the amount of the British pension. She therefore received combined British and Australian pensions equal to the amount that she would have received if her pension were payable under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. Under Article X of the 1946 agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia for the avoidance of double taxation, inserted in the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act in 1947. the widow’s British pension, being derived from sources within the United Kingdom by an individual who was a resident of Australia and being sub ject to tax in Australia, was exempted from tax in Britain. Such a pension was regarded as subject to Australian tax even where the pensioner’s net income did not exceed the amount at which he became liable to pay income tax and social services contribution. Pursuant to section 8 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act 1952, the widow’s income became tax free for a woman of her age.
In 1954, however, pursuant to paragraph (kaa) inserted in section 23 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act, pensions paid by the Commonwealth or by the Government of the United Kingdom became exempt from income tax. In consequence, the widow’s pension, being no longer subject to tax in Australia, was no longer exempt from tax in Britain under Article X of the double taxation agreement. The 1954 amendment was undoubtedly intended to benefit all pensioners resident in Australia, but it had the effect of making the widow liable to British tax on her British pension for the first time since the double taxation agreement came into force in 1947 and liable to Australian tax for the first time since the exemption for aged persons was made in 1952.
In the course of the next two years persistent but unsuccessful efforts were made by the Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, to persuade the British Government to exempt residents in Australia from tax imposed on their British war widow’s pensions. In these circumstances, the widow’s daughter secured an opinion from the late J. W. Shand Q.C., that effect could be given to the manifest intention of the Australian Parliament and Government that war widows in Australia should be exempt from tax on British as well as Australian pensions if section 53a of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act were amended. Section 53a reads -
Where an Australian mariner or any of his dependants is entitled to receive by way of compensation for the death or incapacity of the Australian mariner arising out of a war injury -
under any other law, from the public funds of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth; or
under a law of a part of the Queen’s dominions, other than the Commonwealth or a State or Territory of the Commonwealth. the compensation so payable shall be taken into account for the purposes of this Act in such manner and to such extent as the Commission thinks just, and for that purpose the Commission may direct that a pension or allowance under this Act shall be reduced or shall not be payable.
Mr. Shand suggested the addition of the following words to the section: - or shall be payable only upon condition that such compensation shall be relinquished.
The consequence of this amendment would be that the widow, who has lived in Australia for well over 40 years, would receive a wholly Australian and wholly tax free widows’ pension in respect of the death of her husband, who had resided in Australia for 23 years and who, at the time of his death, was serving in an Australian owned ship.
Mr. Shand’s opinion and the request for an amendment of the Act were placed before Sir Arthur Fadden and the then Minister for Repatriation, Senator Sir Walter Cooper, in 1955. On 9th August 1955, Sir Arthur wrote -
I have observed that an alternative method by which it may be practicable to achieve freedom from tax for your mother is advanced in the opinion of Mr. Shand. The proposal which he advanced involves an amendment to the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act 1940-1953 in a manner which, it appears, may result in Australia becoming liable for the payment of the pension for which the United Kingdom now accepts responsibility. The question is, accordingly, one calling for the consideration of my colleague, Senator Cooper, who is Minister for Repatriation.
On 16th January 1956, however, Sir Walter wrote -
I should like to explain that, although the functions of my Department include the payment of pensions to persons eligible under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act, the administration of such Act comes within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of this, the opinion of Mr. Shand, Q.C., forwarded with your letter of 5th July 1955, was referred to that Department for consideration.
I have since been advised by the Minister for Shipping and Transport that careful consideration was given to the matter, but that he is unable to agree that an amendment to the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act, as suggested by Mr. Shand, is warranted. It was explained that any such amendment would place on the Australian Government the responsibility for accepting full liability for the payment of certain pensions which rightly rests on Great Britain. The present procedure is in accordance with long established Government principle and it is not anticipated that the Government would approve of an amendment at this stage.
As I have no jurisdiction in the administration of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act, and in view of the policy of the British Government in regard to the taxation aspect, I regret that I am unable to assist you further in the matter.
I must confess that I was baffled - and I still am baffled - by Sir Walter Cooper’s statement that he had no jurisdiction in the administration of the Act. The administrative arrangements order applicable at that time - the one dated 21st June 1951 - seemed to show that the Repatriation Department was responsible for administering the relevant parts of this Act. At all events, the subsequent administrative arrangements order, that of 14th February 1962, certainly seemed to confirm that at the time I first wrote in 1962 the Repatriation Department was the relevant department. I would have thought, therefore, that the amendment sought called, as Sir Arthur Fadden said it called, for the consideration of the Minister for Repatriation. However this ma’y be, there is now a new administrative arrangements order - the one of January last. In this respect, the order was amended, I gather, as a result of the representations I made.
Whatever may now be the respective responsibilities of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Minister for Repatriation and the Minister for Shipping and Transport, the House is at least considering a bill introduced by the Minister for Shipping and Transport and I take it, therefore, that he can, by himself or with his colleagues, consider the amendment which was proposed and which L again press.
It appears that the Government may be deterred by the cost involved if the amendment is accepted. It might be impressed by the argument of the former Minister for Shipping and Transport, quoted by Sir Walter Cooper, that any amendment would place on the Australian Government the responsibility for accepting full liability for the payment of certain pensions the responsibility for which rightly rests on Great Britain. It might be impressed by the argument of Sir Arthur Fadden that the proposal may result in Australia becoming liable for the payment of pensions for which the U.K. now accepts responsibility.
I should point out, therefore, that there have been only two ships registered outside Australia in which Australian mariners lost their lives. One was the M.V. “Tulagi” and the other was another Burns Philp vessel, the M.V. Neptuna “. Eleven men were killed in “Neptuna” and 18, including five Royal Australian Navy ratings whose relatives would be compensated under the Repatriation Act, were lost in the “ Tulagi “. These losses occurred two decades or more ago. There must therefore be now a very small number of women whose widows’ pensions under the Act we are amending are reduced under section 53 (a) by the amount of their British pensions.
After I took this matter up with the Minister for Repatriation the British Government increased the British war pension for the widow whose case I have been quoting and, accordingly, her pension under this Act was reduced by the same amount. The net consequence was that her overall pension was reduced through the British increase in pension by the amount of the additional tax she must pay in Britain. Any further increases in British pension will similarly reduce the Australian allowance and increase the British taxation.
There are very few people concerned in this matter. It is, however, an important matter for the handful of women involved. I do not underrate the complexity that may be involved, in the relations between different Commonwealth departments and between Australia and Britain. Nevertheless, the difficulties should be capable of solution and such solution would cost very little indeed. I hope that when the further amending Bill that has been foreshadowed is introduced it will include an amendment to cover the considerations that I have been pressing for the last two years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 2a.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “ 2a. After section eight of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 8a. A person who has claimed a pension (other than a service pension) or other benefit under this Act arising out of the incapacity or death of an Australian mariner and whose claim has been refused by the Commission on the ground that the Australian mariner is not suffering from any incapacity or on the ground -
that the incapacity or death of the Australian mariner has not resulted from any occurrence that happened during the period of his war service, or from his employment in connexion with naval or military preparations or operations, or did not arise out of or is not attributable to his war service, as the case may be; or
that the incapacity from which the Australian mariner is suffering, or from which he has died has not been contributed to in any material degree, or has not been aggravated, by the conditions of his war service, may lodge with the prescribed person, in (he prescribed form, an appeal to an Appeal Tribunal against the determination of the Commission. ‘. “.
Briefly, this amendment provides a further right of appeal for Australian mariners to an entitlement tribunal. During the second reading debate I pointed out that, initially, the situationin respect of an Australian mariner is much the same as that in respect of an Australian exserviceman who applies to the Repatriation Department to have a disability accepted as being due to war service. The exserviceman lodges an application with the Repatriation Department and in due course a decision is made by the Repatriation Board. If the disability is not accepted the applicant has a right to appeal to the Repatriation Commission which again considers all the relevant details that have been submitted by the applicant on his own initiative and the evidence that has been considered by the doctors of the Repatriation Department. If the Commission disallows the appeal the applicant has a right to appeal further to an Entitlement Tribunal. He may then appear before the Tribunal and all honorable members fully understand what is involved there.
The Tribunals are appointed by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz). The Chairman is a lawyer and there are two other members, one nominated by the returned servicemen’s organisations and another by the Repatriation Department. The applicant has the right to state his case to the Tribunal and he may appear before it with the assistance of an advocate. He has the right to consider the evidence that was considered initially by the Repatriation Board and then by the Commission and which is now being considered by the Tribunal. Although we have pointed out before that there may be some reasons for improving the system under which the tribunal operates, generally speaking the member at least has the opportunity to state his case before the tribunal in person.
The procedure under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act is different in one respect only. Instead of a matter being considered by a Repatriation Board, it is now considered by the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee which is referred to in the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. Initially an application is submitted to the Repatriation Department. When all the evidence that is required is available, it is submitted to the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee which determines whether or not the disability is due to the ex-seamen’s war service. If the disability is not accepted as being due to service with the Merchant Navy, the exseamen then has the right of an appeal to the Repatriation Commission. So again we come back to the Repatriation Department. Initially the case is considered by the Repatriation Department; it then goes to the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee, and if the application is rejected it then comes back to the Repatriation Department.
All honorable members are fully aware of the duties of the Repatriation Commission. It is the second step in relation to a claim that an ex-serviceman lodges with the Repatriation Department to have a disability recognised as being due to his war service. The mariner’s case comes back to the Repatriation Commission. It is considered in exactly the same way as the case of an ex-member of the armed forces would be considered. The disability is either accepted or rejected as being due to war service. But an ex-serviceman then has a further right of appeal to the tribunal to which I have just referred.
However, once the Repatriation Commission has made a decision in the case of an Australian mariner, that decision is final, although I might point out in fairness to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), who is at the table, that if an Australian mariner can submit additional evidence to the Commission that evidence will be considered in the normal way. But at no stage does the Australian mariner have the opportunity to appear before a tribunal to state his case personally and to supply additional evidence, if necessary. If we who are responsible for the Repatriation Act believe that an ex-serviceman should have the right to appear before a tribunal which is charged with the responsibility of making the final decision, surely an Australian mariner should have the same rights of appeal and appearance.
The amendment which I have moved provides for a further appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. There is no necessity for additional machinery. The amendment does not mean that an additional tribunal would have to be appointed. It is quite obvious that the present tribunals, which have been appointed under the Repariation Act, would be quite competent to deal with the limited number of appeals which would have to be submitted to Entitlement Appeal Tribunals by Australian mariners. So this is not a question of establishing another tribunal at all; it :s merely a question of amending the Act to provide the right of a further appeal.
I have no doubt that the Minister will be able to give some very good reasons why neither this Government nor any other government in the past has provided for a further appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. I hope the Minister will give an explanation on this matter. We members of the Opposition believe that, in common justice, a man who believes that he has a disability which is due to his service with the Merchant Navy between 1939 and 1945 - that is, during the Second World War - certainly should have the final right of appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal.
This morning, when I was speaking on this measure, I pointed out that only an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal has the right to discharge the onus of proof or is able to take into consideration section 47 of the Repatriation Act. The Australian mariner is denied the benefit of that section because his case never goes to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. How does any honorable member know whether the onus of proof is discharged in the cases of Australian mariners? I suggest that there is great merit in this amendment- 1 have poined out that no additional machinery would be required because the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals are already in existence. This is merely a matter of providing a measure of justice and ensuring that justice at least appears to have been done. The Australian mariner should have the final right of appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. 1 commend the amendment to the Committee.
.- in my opinion this amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) has a great deal of merit, lt is a long time since the Second World War, but we are always discovering new needs and new responsibilities in respect of ex-service men and women of that war. When this matter was raised for the first time to my knowledge, it seemed to me to be incredible that such an omission could be made in giving justice to ex-servicemen. When we speak of ex-servicemen, some people get the idea that we are referring only to fighting men. But the fighting men would not have lasted five minutes without the Merchant Navy. One of the great slogans that we heard during the Second World War was, “The men behind the men behind the guns “. They were the men in the factories. Without them there would not have been a war.
My brother-in-law was one of the men who risked their lives day and night on our merchant ships. He has told us about many experiences that he had around the Australian coast. These men are entitled to the same consideration for repatriation benefits as are the mcn who were in the front line. There has been altogether too much of the philosophy that the front line men were entirely responsible for winning the war. That is not so. There had to be ten men working behind the front line to keep one soldier in the front line. Along the road from the factory to the front line was the merchant seaman. Being an island continent away out here in the South Pacific, and there being a war in North Africa, France and the islands of the Pacific, we Australians depended entirely on our sea lanes to get supplies to our soldiers and airmen. The seamen who were injured for life or whose careers were cut short by violent injury in the torpedoing of merchant shipping are the people for whom we are fighting in this amendment. I would not listen to any excuse given by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) or the Government to the effect that the amendment now before the Chair is not legitimate or just.
The honorable member for Bass and I have a lot to do with tribunals for exservicemen. We know the advantages of getting before a tribunal. We know that many men in Australia today would not have a pension if it were not for their advocates. Sometimes the advocate is a member of the Returned Servicemen’s League; sometimes he is a lawyer; sometimes he is a member of Parliament.
– Not a lawyer; he cannot be a lawyer.
– I meant a man with a legal background; I did not mean a fully fledged lawyer. One really needs a Philadelphia lawyer to understand some of the intricacies of the repatriation procedure and to help some of these poor beggars who, 45 years after the war in which they fought, have to find new evidence. Their cases cannot be considered unless they produce some new evidence. The merchant seamen who would come within the provisions of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) would be greatly assisted if they were able to approach an appeal tribunal after their claims had been denied by the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee. In our community we have appeals these days against decisions of almost any authority. It is part of our British system that a person may appeal to a higher court against the decision of a lower court.
– It costs a lot of money.
– Yes, I know, but the right of appeal is there. In some other countries there is not this right. Merchant seamen should have the right, as the honorable member for Bass has said, to take their claims before an appeal tribunal where the’y can see their judges face to face and have the assistance of advocates. lt is very important to these men that they should be able to approach a higher tribunal. Not many appellants succeed before a repatriation appeals tribunal, but at least they have had the opportunity to appeal. All that the Opposition is asking for in this amendment is that mariners shall have the right to take their cases to an appeal tribunal. I have come in contact with many cases, as I am sure most members of Parliament have. I hope that the Government will accept this amendment, if not in this place then in the other place.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). I do not intend to reiterate what the honorable member has said, but once again I emphasise that the Repatriation Act and the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act are two Acts of this Parliament which set out to do the one job, that is, to provide the compensation necessary for widows or dependants of ex-servicemen. The Repatriation Act takes care of men who were in the Services; the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act is supposed to take care of the men who served in a similar capacity, not on a naval ship but on a merchant ship. When introducing the Bill the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) said, and I emphasise his words -
This Bill follows in the wake of the Repatriation Bill, the two together implementing the Government’s decision to increase further the pensions payable to ex-service personnel and wartime mariners.
The whole question is this: Why are facilities available to ex-service men and women to appeal to an independent tribunal when such facilities are not available to members of the merchant service?
To show that there is a need for a right of appeal to a higher authority I refer to the annual report of the Repatriation Commission for 1963-64 which, at page 33, deals with appeals to Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. The report shows that 1,555 appeals were allowed and 8,311 appeals were disallowed. In round figures, of the servicemen who appealed, one in every six was successful. In addition, 173 applications were referred back to the Repatriation Commission and allowed. From those figures alone honorable members will see that there is a need for an appeal tribunal, and that surely facilities should be available to wartime seamen to make similar appeals. I am certain that the Repatriation Commission would not be right in its decision in every application for an entitlement. Therefore, as the honorable member for Bass has said, there is reasonable justification for the establishment of a further right of appeal for mariners. Facilities to handle appeals are already in existence, and not many mcn would be involved. I support the amendment because I believe that it would enable justice to be given to those who served in the Merchant Navy and who may be entitled to a better deal than they have received so far. An independent tribunal could decide their appeals and grant them some benefit.
– I am sure that every honorable member has a great deal of respect and sympathy for much of the case that has been presented by the Opposition. I am sure also that everybody realises that the member of the mercantile marine ran considerable risks during the last war and did a magnificent job which was always appreciated by everybody. Of course, there were several occasions when ships did not sail because of some industrial troubles, the reasons for which we do not know. Right through this debate the Opposition has talked about justice and has asked why the ex-serviceman should be given this and the ex-servicewoman given that when it is not given to the mariner. The Opposition has claimed that on the basis of common justice the mercantile sailor should be entitled to the same benefits as are available to the ex-serviceman.
– He gets them under “the Act.
– Yes, but the Opposition has added the qualification that everything should be exactly the same - their entitlement should be the same. This has been the whole basis of the case advanced by the Opposition today.
The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) said that I had suggested that the rate of pay for a leading seaman, naval, as against the rate of pay of a seaman, mercantile, was hardly comparable. The honorable member made the remark that when deferred pay and other benefits granted to ex-servicemen are taken into account the two classes of seamen were probably on the same or a similar scale. Frankly, I do not think that that is so, and I should like the honorable member to produce figures to prove that it is so. At no stage has the Opposition suggested an amendment that seamen who served with the Royal Australian Navy on a low rate of pay should be given retrospective parity with the mercantile sailor. Honorable members opposite have not mentioned that seamen who served with the mercantile marine were paid bonuses for service in war areas. To the best of my knowledge seamen of the Royal Australian Navy were never paid such bonuses.
I am not suggesting that after all this time what is suggested by the Opposition may not have some justice, but I am saying that to me it is quite offensive that the throb of conscience comes to honorable members opposite only when they are not in government. When Labour was in office it did not give the Royal Australian Navy much satisfaction, and from what has been said by honorable members opposite it is fairly obvious that it did not give the mercantile marine much satisfaction either. I think this Government has done a good job. It has carried on the legislation and has improved it. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) and the Government have done a very good job which is appreciated by most people.
– I feel that at this stage I should intervene, as one more amendment is to be moved by the Opposition. I shall endeavour to clarify the position. Honorable members will note from the second reading speech on the Oil] that this legislation follows in the wake of the Repatriation Bill and that the two Bills together implement the Government’s decision to increase further the pensions payable to ex-service personnel and wartime mariners. Honorable members will see also that it is the Government’s practice to maintain pensions and benefits payable under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act at the same levels as those payable under the Repatriation Act. That is the purpose of the Bill - to deal particularly with this point. We desire to put the legislation through Parliament at about the same time as Parliament deals with the Repatriation Bill.
It has been pointed out by my colleague, the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), that wartime mariners did an excellent job. The mercantile marine is admired greatly and I make no criticism of the service it performed. These amendments are opening up an entirely new field of policy and are not at all relevant to the present Bill. Therefore, the Government does not intend to accept them. However, I have been advised by my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) that the Government has decided to extend to ex-mariners of the 1939-45 war the benefits available under the Seamen’s War Pensions Allowances Act. It is proposed to provide medical benefits at the expense of the Commonwealth in respect of illnesses suffered by mariner pensioners who are receiving the full general rate of pension - that is, the 1 00 per cent, pension rate - even though the illnesses are not directly attributable to war injuries.
These concessions will provide the same benefits of free medical, surgical and hospital treatment as are provided for exservicemen receiving a similar rate of pension under the Repatriation Act and will, of course, necessitate amending the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. The necessary amending legislation has to be prepared and this is now being done. I can assure honorable members that the measure will be introduced at the first opportunity. It will deal with the matters embraced by the amendments moved by the Opposition. As I said at the outset, it is normal practice to keep pension payments in line with the pension rates paid under the Repatriation Act and this requires adherence to a timetable. Consequently, there has not been sufficient time to permit the necessary drafting of the new measure. I repeat that the amendments moved by the Opposition are not relevant to the present Bill. The proper time to move them would be when this new legislation is before the House. Consequently the amendments will not be discussed or accepted by the Government.
.- The statement just made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) forecasting amendments to the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act at some future date is not a very convincing reason why action should not be taken now.
– I explained the need to get this Bill through.
– Of course. But that is not much comfort to those men who would receive some benefits if this amendment were accepted now. To be told that the Government is anxious to get the Bill through would not provide them with much comfort. What the mariners want is to see the Bill passed with the suggestions improving it incorporated. They do not want to wait for another three months - possibly until after Christmas and probably until the middle of next year. Everybody knows that when this measure is passed, without the amendments suggested by the Opposition, and when the Government’s Budget measures are through - not necessarily including the one forecast by the honorable Minister - that the House will go into recess prior to Christmas and remain in recess until February or March. Consequently, those people who should receive the benefit of these amendments moved by the Opposition will be deprived of something they are entitled to, and the excuse offered by the Government is that there is no time to prepare the Bill. Why did not this Parliament meet a month earlier this session? Previous Governments have met and sat longer than this Government has in order to deal with its business. This Government should sit and finish its work and meet the needs of the community. Those are the facts.
The Minister said that the amendments suggested by the Opposition are not relevant. Nothing would have been done if he had not been prodded by some Government supporters who realised the import of these amendments. After that he was prepared to do anything - not exactly what we want - but he forecast that the Government would do something in the sweet bye and bye. That is not good enough. I am sure that the people affected by this Bill will be anything but satisfied.
Let us examine the particular amendment now being discussed, lt concerns men which this Government admitted long ago were entitled to certain compensation, pensions and benefits. It is true that, at the time that admission was made, the Government was not as generous as it might have been. That is quite true and it was the case with all governments in days gone by when the value of currency had not been allowed to depreciate as it has today. Naturally, with the passage of time, the need for amendments improving legislation are demonstrated. It does not matter which party was in office. That is not relevant. It is a matter of common justice that the benefits enjoyed by men who served as enlisted personnel during the war should be granted to those men who served in the merchant navy.
In many cases men of the merchant marine ran greater risks and suffered greater privations than many enlisted men. If the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) had been here this morning he would have heard me state something that even he will not deny; that is, that in war there is always a percentage of enlisted personnel who, to all intents and purposes, are as safe as they are at home. The honorable member knows that during World War I personnel of certain units - including my own - never left England. Occasionally someone might have gone over to the colonel in France with a message. Those men never suffered half the risks taken by merchant seamen but they receive repatriation benefits. What the honorable gentleman suggests is that merchant seamen arc not entitled to compensation for injuries they suffered because in many circumstances they were paid a higher rate than enlisted personnel. As honorable members know, colonels, majors, generals and brigadeers received higher rates of pay than privates. Using the argument of the honorable member, those officers apparently are not entitled to the benefits of the Repatriation Act which are enjoyed by the unfortunate private. The honorable gentleman knows that colonels, majors and generals receive a war pension which is much higher than that paid to the humble private or non-commissioned officer. Yet he suggested that a distinction should be drawn on the ground that merchant seamen were paid more than enlisted personnel. There is no logic in that argument. I appeal to the honorable member’s sense of justice. Actually, all that he is doing is to apologise for his Government. He is embarrased. He knows the justice of the claim made by the Opposition but he will not see it.
– I want you to move another amendment to give justice to the-
– You move it. You live in the past. We are living in the future. I could remind the honorable member for La Trobe that when war broke out his Prime Minister - to whom he is so loyal - fixed the rate for enlisted men at about 3s. 6d. a day and ls. 6d. a day for dependent children. That was a scandelous state of affairs at that time when the £1 was worth more than it is today. Let the honorable member work that out. Before the Curtin Government had been in office for very long the rate conceded to dependants of enlisted personnel was 3s. 6d. a day. If the honorable member wants to go back into the past let him work that out. I could give him plenty of other examples if he wants to get down to that sort of thing. I am concerned with the men who are living now. If we wait until the time suggested by the Minister some of these men may have departed this earth.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) stated very clearly that the specific purpose of this Bill is to bring war pensions and allowances for seamen into line with the new rates of repatriation benefits approved by this chamber recently. We now see the Opposition playing the same kind of role that oppositions have played on many occasions since Federation. I speak not just of the present Opposition, but of parliamentary oppositions in general, whether of the same political views as honorable members who sit on this side of the chamber or of the same political views as those who sit on the benches opposite. I do not want to treat this subject as a party political matter, but it is highly political. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr Pollard) talks about not wanting to treat this as a political matter. But everything in this country is political. Certain things, however, are party political, and this is one matter that the Opposition attempts to treat as a party political issue.
The honorable member for Lalor said that if the amendments that Labour now wants inserted in the bill are not made a number of people - I do not know what number - will be denied certain payments that he and his Opposition colleagues consider should be made. It may seem fair enough for honorable members opposite to say that unless certain amendments are made the people involved will be forgotten. It has been said on many occasions in this place that the time for advocating the inclusion of any proposal in a Budget is the Autumn sessional period, which is sometimes known as the Supply sessional period. What happened in the last Supply sessional period? Did the Opposition forget about the people for whom it now voices so much concern? Did Opposition members not know in the autumn that a Budget was to be presented in August? Why did they not advocate then the proposals that they make now? This matter has only just come to their minds, and they have had the thought that here is a chance-
– I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. When a similar measure was considered in 1960, I proposed an amendment similar to that now before the Committee. A similar amendment was proposed in 1961 also.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– The point of order just raised by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) is quite beside the point. I am saying that if Opposition members thought that the proposals now made by them should be adopted, they should have brought them forward in a vital and enthusiastic manner in the autumn or Supply sessional period. Now that the Government has entered into its financial obligations for the financial year 1964-65, there is no more hope of its programme being changed than there has been of any government since
Federation changing its programme. That is the nub of the matter. The purpose of Opposition members all the time is to embarrass honorable members on this side of the chamber. The honorable member for Lalor said that the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) is embarrassed because Labour has pressed for the implementation of the proposals that it now makes. I am not acquainted with the needs of seamen, nor am I aware of the number involved in Labour’s proposals, but I am as sympathetic towards seamen as is anybody in this place.
– Wc do not want sympathy, we want justice.
– That is the sort of statement that we hear from Opposition members repeatedly. We want common sense in this place. Particularly, we want the Opposition to take up matters of great importance like this at the right time and in the proper manner instead of saying: “ Now we know that the Government has entered into its financial obligation, we want it to change its plans “. That is not the sort of thing that we want.
We have heard all sorts of statements made by Opposition members recently. Only last evening, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), in the debate on another measure, said that I would not support a certain amendment that the Opposition had proposed. I remind honorable members that when the present Government parties were in opposition they proposed a similar amendment but the Government that the honorable member then supported would not accept it. So the truth was the very opposite of what he said. In effect, he said that I would not support a proposal that he himself would not support when Labour was in office.
There is no-one in this place or outside the Parliament who, in his heart, does not know that this Government is sympathetic to all men who served Australia in war. If honorable members want to see evidence to support this assertion, they need only study the difference between the conditions of ex-servicemen today and their conditions when the present Government took office. Great improvements have been made in the rates and conditions of repatriation benefits during this Govern ment’s term of office. This can be clearly demonstrated as a definite fact. I think it is time the Opposition changed its tactics and approached these matters in a more commonsense way.
.- -Mr. Temporary Chairman, at no stage during the five minutes for which the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) spoke did he mention the amendment that the Committee is now considering. That amendment, which I proposed, is designed to provide for former members of the Merchant Navy a right of appeal to an entitlement appeal tribunal. The honorable member for Mallee spent five minutes talking about the Repatriation Act and other matters, but never once mentioned the amendment. Does he support it? Does he deny former members of the Merchant Navy a right of appeal to an entitlement appeal tribunal?
– I do not support the proposal at this stage.
– Obviously, the honorable member does not support the amendment.
I am completely unimpressed by the kind of argument that has been advanced by the honorable member for Mallee and the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), who, incidentally, also failed to mention the matter of a right of appeal to an entitlement appeal tribunal. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) replied on behalf of the Government to the arguments advanced by the Opposition in support of the amendment. He referred to certain actions proposed by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) to provide, at some time in the future, free medical treatment for totally and permanently incapacitated former members of the Merchant Navy in respect of a disability due to war service. I resent the implication by the Minister for Immigration that we have no right to submit amendments at this stage. Let me say to him and to every honorable member who sits on the Government benches that Opposition members have a perfectly valid right to submit amendments when any measure is before the Parliament. What utter nonsense it is for a Minister to suggest that this is merely a machinery Bill designed to provide for increases in the rates of pension payable to former members of the Merchant Navy. This Bill deals with matters affecting merchant seamen, and the Opposition has a perfectly valid right to submit amendments designed to meet the needs of merchant seamen. For that reason, we have prepared two amendments.
The Minister for Immigration, speaking on behalf of the Government, completely neglected to mention the question of a right of appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. Does the Government believe that such a right should exist or does it intend to continue to deny such a right to former merchant seamen? This is a question that I believe the Minister should answer on behalf of the Government instead of merely telling us that he and the Government consider that honorable members on this side of the chamber have no right to submit amendments that they believe are appropriate when a measure such as this is before the Committee. I tell the Minister emphatically that whenever an amending measure such as this is before the Parliament we shall take the opportunity to propose amendments that we consider to be appropriate.
I have submitted to the Committee an amendment that we on this side of the chamber believe will extend a certain measure of justice to former members of the Merchant Navy who have a disability that they believe has been caused by war service. We consider that such men should have a right of appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal similar to that extended under the terms of the Repatriation Act to former members of the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. As I have already pointed out, Mr. Temporary Chairman, no additional machinery will be required. All the necessary machinery is already in existence. I believe that the Minister for Immigration, at this stage, should say on behalf of the Government why it is not prepared to accept the amendment. The honorable member for Mallee and the honorable member for La Trobe offered no reasons at all for rejecting the amendment. Either they believe that there is some justice in the amendment or they do not. If they do not believe that there is justice in it, they ought to say so. If they believe that there is some justice in it, they ought to support it.
I believe that the great majority of people who represent the interests of former members of the Merchant Navy would support the amendment and would agree that there ought to be a right of appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. The Government, however, seeks to deny such a right, but it has not been able to advance one reason why the right should be denied. I believe that the Government, in fairness to former members of the Merchant Navy who served Australia in time of war, ought to accept the amendment.
.- I do not think we should be satisfied with the position as it stands. Let us look at the basic situation that exists at present. Section 5 of the principal Act refers to the duties of the Pensions Committee. Those duties include determining whether death or incapacity is directly attributable to a war injury sustained by the Australian mariner; assessing the rates of pensions and detention allowances of Australian mariners and their dependants; determining whether the payment of a pension or detention allowance be suspended and the date of the suspension; determining that payment of a pension or detention allowance which has been suspended be recommended, and the date of recommencement; and performing such other duties as are prescribed. The Pensions Committee has fairly wide powers. Section 6 relates to the powers of the Repatriation Commission and states -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding section, the Commission may, in such cases as it thinks fit, make any determination or assessment specified in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e) of that section-
These paragraphs refer to the duties I have just mentioned - and may, at any time, direct that any particular case or class of cases be referred to it for determination or assessment.
That is a very wide power which can be wielded by the Commission when it thinks fit. Section 7 states -
Any person affected by any determination or assessment of a Pensions Committee may, within such time (if any) as is prescribed, appeal to the Commission and the Commission may affirm, vary or annul the determination or assessment.
This means that the mariner can appeal from the Pensions Committee to the Repatriation Commission. If he is not satisfied with what it does for him that is the end of it, and he has no further right of appeal. How different for the returned soldier and enlisted personnel. A returned soldier has the right to go to the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal which acts entirely independently of a previous authority. In other words, it is completely independent of the Repatriation Commission. It was set up as a result of a request from returned soldiers for the establishment of an authority in the nature of a high court to which they could appeal from the Repatriation Commission. At the time it was established this was supposed to be a just provision.
We are now considering people who are subjected to the same sort of treatment by the Pensions Committee and who can appeal to the Repatriation Commission but who have no further right of appeal to an authority with the same status, authority and independence as the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal has. Surely this is a flagrant injustice inflicted on mariners - I was going to say “ ancient mariners “, and those who served in the First World War are ancient now - and it should be removed. Quite obviously the political influence of soldiers’ organisations, members of the Parliament and others resulted in the reform so far as enlisted personnel are concerned. However, there were insufficient knowledgeable persons in the Parliament when the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act was enacted to realise that a similar provision should have been incorporated in it. Honorable members opposite do not criticise the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, although we do, it is true. You regard it as a good thing, so what is wrong with doing the right thing for the men who served in the Merchant Navy? The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) might say: “ Well, the Labour Government did not make this provision”, which is true, but at the time the position was such that it was a question of experience and need. Why not make the necessary provision now for mariners? I make my appeal, and leave it at that.
Question put -
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr. Barnard’s amendment) be so inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. E. D. Mackinnon.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 3a.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “ 3a. After section fifty-eight of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 58a. An Australian mariner who is totally and permanently incapacitated may obtain treatment at Commonwealth expense in a repatriation hospital although his disability did not arise out of or is not attributable to his war service.’.”.
Honorable members are probably aware that once a person who has served in the Army, Navy or Air Force becomes totally and permanently incapacitated he is automatically entitled to hospitalisation and treatment at the various repatriation hospitals. Unfortunately these benefits are not extended to merchant seamen who have become totally and permanently incapacitated. In order to obtain this treatment a merchant seaman’s incapactiy must have arisen from wounds suffered in action. He is not allowed to claim treatment for an incapacity that may arise after the war due to anxiety or illness brought on by his strenuous war service. His injuries must have been caused by wounds. I think very few merchant seamen are classified as incapacitated due to war service. Every arm of the Services played its part in the war and we believe that all men who served in the war, no matter in what arm of the Services, should receive equal treatment. If I may digress for a moment from the subject of the Bill, I remind honorable members that Air Force reserves flew in New Guinea during the war. This is something the Government should think about.
I understand that about 45,000 Australian merchant seamen served in all theatres of war. That is a large number of men. To be eligible for a returned soldier’s badge a seaman must have served for at least six months in a theatre of war. People may say that the Labour Party was in power until 1949, but we did not foresee between 1945 and 1949 that people would be so affected by the horrors of war. The effects of war have now become apparent, and I am sure that the Government will do all in its power to help the people who are suffering because of their war service. I know that where a case has merit the Government will do its best to see that the individual is properly looked after. This is all we are seeking. We want merchant seamen who are totally and permanently incapacitated as a result of their war service to receive the same benefits as are received by persons totally and permanently incapacitated as a result of their service in the Army, Navy or Air Force.
An interesting sidelight to this matter is that if former merchant seamen wish to wear a badge to show that they served in a theatre of war the only badge available to them is the badge of the Returned Servicemen’s League. The RS.L. recognises the valuable job these men did. As long as they can prove that they served for at least six months in a war area they are eligible to wear the R.S.L. badge, but they are not automatically issued with a returned from active service badge as are former members of the Army, Navy and Air Force. I hope that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), who is at the table, will endeavour to ascertain why these people are not issued with returned from active service badges, because I feel they are intitled to them.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I thought I explained earlier with sufficient emphasis and firmness that the amendments that were foreshadowed by the Opposition are not relevant to this Bill. The object of the Bill is to increase seamen’s war pensions by the amount of the increase in repatriation pensions and to have the two Bills passed by the Parliament at the same time. Therefore I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. E. D. Mackinnon.) Ayes . . . . . . 54
Majority . . . . 19
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr. Benson’s amendment) be so inserted.
The Committeee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. E. D. Mackinnon.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Remainder of the Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Opperman) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 3rd September (vide page 1022).
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed expenditure, £21,566,000.
.- I want to address myself to the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. As honorable members can well imagine, since an amount of £21.5 million is involved, this Department is a complex one and deals with a variety of subjects. The estimates for the Department provide for the National Library of Australia, the Commonwealth Grants Commission, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Public Service Board and other instrumentalities. I want to speak about the Commonwealth Office of Education and education matters generally. The estimates for the Department also cover the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian National University.
Before I go any further I think it is important for me to say that there is a tendency for Ministers to be absent from the Chamber when the estimates for (heir departments are being discussed. It is bad enough for the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to be absent overseas while the Budget he presented is being dealt with, and I would have liked to have seen the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) sitting at the table now instead of the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn). lt is possible that the Prime Minister is engaged on official duties, but I sincerely hope that he will take his proper place in this Chamber in the near future. It would be a dereliction of duty if he were not here to speak about such important matters as education, security and the Public Service. I just want to make the point that the Parliament should never allow the opportunity to go by without reminding Ministers of their obligation to be here when their estimates are being discussed. Nothing is more important than paying proper tribute to the Parliament. This applies especially to Ministers who should be here when their estimates are being discussed. It is all very well for the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) to laugh. I hope he will be here when the estimates for the Department of Territories arc before us. He has a good deal to answer for.
The Prime Minister has a good deal to answer for in the field of education. The amount provided in these estimates for the Commonwealth Office of Education has been increased by £2 million from £4.6 million to £6.6 million. When this amount is related to the total Budget of £2,500 million, we should wonder whether any real impact is being made or whether any real progress is being made in education. The amount provided for the Commonwealth Office of Education has been increased mainly to provide scholarships for secondary education. But many other aspects of education need urgent consideration. In effect, 1 am speaking about Federal aid for education. It is true that this is a hardy perennial, but it is still a prevailing problem. It has gone unattended for far too long, and the provisions of this Budget do not touch it.
At the outset, I want to say that we need a national stocktaking of education. The delay in determining our education needs cannot bc justified. I think it was in 1957 - 1 can be corrected here - that the Prime Minister at last decided to have a look at the university situation. The dogs had been barking that the universities had been suffering from indifference for many years, but at last the Prime Minister appointed a special committee to investigate their problems. To its credit, that committee brought down a report expeditiously. I think it look less than six months for the report of the Murray Committee to be made available to the Parliament, and the consequences that have flowed from it have been vital. Without being encouraged to do so, the Murray Committee, which inquired into universities, said: “ We have not been asked to look at secondary or technical education, but we believe that we have an obligation to tell you that a very vital deficiency exists in this area of education.”
About three years ago the Prime Minister acted on this comment and announced the appointment of the Martin Committee to investigate the need for secondary and technical education. If one committee can produce its report within six months, why should this committee inquiring into secondary and technical education work for some years without furnishing a report? Every honorable member on this side of the chamber had been hoping that the report of the Martin Committee would have been available before these estimates were debated. The fact that it is not available means that the consideration of the needs of secondary and technical education will be deferred for yet another year. No-one can justify this. What can be done in three years can be done in three months. Indeed, the Martin Committee could obtain all the information it needs from the various State education authorities.
Education is an important subject. It is important from the viewpoint of employment. I think it is fair to say that there is no real justification for unemployment. All that really happens is that sometimes we find pockets of people who are not skilled to do the jobs that Australia needs to have done. We must ensure that young Australians who are at secondary schools, technical colleges or universities will be given decent opportunities to acquire the skills that the nation will need in the future. After all, one-third of the Australian population consists of persons under 16 years of age. What kind of future will these people have in this era of technology, this atomic age, this age of skill, if they are under-educated? Let me put the position more dramatically. We spend a great deal of time in this Parliament talking - justifiably enough - about social services, aged persons and matters relating to them, but 25 per cent, of the members of our community at present are at school.
The fact is that the voice of the Australian people has been heard loud and clear for a number of years in regard to these matters. I think it was last year that a congress on education needs was held in Melbourne. Four thousand people gathered in the great stadium there. While conferences of this kind have been held and public interest has been growing more intense over the years, the Prime Minister has been notorious for his lack of response to the educational needs of this country. As I have said, he may go down in history for his record of giving assistance to universities. He has made a contribution in this direction and has helped to lift the universities out of the trough of indifference, but he has shown contempt, comparatively speaking, for secondary and primary education. There is no possibility of building an education edifice that has a roof only and no foundation or walls.
During the last election campaign we noted the Prime Minister’s tendency to treat education as a mere stalking horse, a means of getting votes and of invoking election gimmicks. He talked about, a bit of State aid here and a bit of assistance for science schools there - £5 million scattered over the country for science schools. This may have some merit but who, in fact, said that if any Commonwealth funds became available for education they should go towards science schools? That was not the opinion of the Ministers in the various States. It was not the opinion of the New South Wales ParentTeacher Education Council. But this was what the Prime Minister decided to do because it provided him with a gimmick - something that people could readily see. The real needs of education should be properly ascertained after a proper inquiry.
The Australian Education Council made a report in 1960 which was brought up to date in 1963. It is under the title “ Some Needs of Australian Education “. It is a document of which this Government should take cognizance. It is very comprehensive and resulted from a thorough inquiry into education by the Ministers for Education and their Directors of Education in the six States. We have made some progress in this field. Frustrated and disappointed as we may be, the fact is that we have worn the Prime Minister down.
When I first came to this Parliament in 1 955 I started to talk about education needs and I was told by the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) and others that this had nothing to do with the Commonwealth Parliament - that we should not even be speaking about the subject. The Prime Minister used to raise the historic constitutional barriers. He said that the Commonwealth had no constitutional authority. We have come a long way since that time. If we need proof of the progress that has been made we need only look at the assistance that has been given to universities. The Commonwealth is just as constitutionally competent to help with primary, secondary and technical education as it is to assist in respect of universities - and a fair job has been done in that field.
The Prime Minister has also taken refuge in the statement that the States did not ask for assistance. This statement was a kind of funk hole that the Prime Minister used. He used to say: “The States have not asked and we dare not move into this field in which the States have constitutional authority “. We have heard statements of that kind for years but the argument is no longer valid since the Australian Education Council drew up the report to which I have referred, lt met in Hobart in February 1960 and it covered the whole of the Commonwealth in its inquiry about education. In June 1961 the then Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron, presented the report to the Commonwealth on behalf of the six States and he was rebuffed. But at least the States have asked. Labour-led States and Liberal-led States made common cause about the matter. A unity ticket was used, if you like to put it that way, because there are educational problems in all States regardless of the polictical complexion of the Governments of the States. Not only has the Premier of New South Wales been ignored; the Premiers of States with governments of the same political complexion as this Government have also suffered a rebuff. We are not prepared to go on tolerating this state of affairs without voicing a protest.
The problem is threefold. It springs from increasing enrolments, insufficient teachers and inadquate accommodation. Enrolments will increase by 71,000 per annum. This is a tremendous problem. It results from increased in numbers of births, from the immigration programme and from the fact that children are inclined to stay longer at school. There are many factors involved but the final result is a very substantial increase in enrolments, which puts a great strain on existing facilities.
Then there is a shortage of teachers. We need to increase our annual output of teachers which is now 6,000 by a further 1,300. A good deal of money will be needed to make this possible. Class loading is a serious problem. In primary schools 46 per cent, of classes have more than 40 children. At the secondary level, 27 per cent, of classes have more than 40 children and 54 per cent, have more than 35 children. Then (here is the accommodation problem. I do not need to tell honorable members about the inadequacy of accommodation. There is a great lag in this respect. Makeshift accommodation is being used in schools all over Australia. Children are being educated in halls, corridors and sheds. These arc alt problems that we will have to solve. 1 am told that 1,000 rooms are needed at present to replace inadequate facilities, and another 3,600 are needed to reduce class loads. In addition, a further 500 rooms are required in order to raise the school leaving age to 15 years throughout Australia. This is not an extravagant or unusual aspiration. In the United States of America the school leaving age varies in different places from 16 to 18 years, so that we have still a considerable distance to go.
We are told that extra amounts of money will be necessary; that no less than an extra amount of f 1 1 9 million will be needed over the next four years if we are to come to grips with these problems. I ask the Prime Minister to treat the matter with more urgency, lt was the intention of the Labour Party, if it had formed a Government, to increase expenditure on. education by £20 million in each of the next four years. This would have made a substantial contribution towards the alleviation of the problems I have referred to. I suggest to the Prime Minister, if he does this Committee the courtesy of making even a casual visit while the estimates for his Department are being debated, that he think about the need to give our boys and girls educational opportunities second to none. This is their birthright and I hope it will be their destiny.
.- This debate on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department affords honorable members an opportunity to refer to matters coming directly under the administration of the right honorable gentleman. Like the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) who has just sat down, I want to concentrate on education, but on only one aspect of it, although a most important aspect. Within the last few weeks the Minister for Education in New South Wales has issued a new syllabus relating to general religious teaching. This was withdrawn as a result of certain public protests, but withdrawn only temporarily, and the future of it still remains to be determined. This is a matter of concern to this Parliament and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) for two reasons. The first is that, under a long standing agreement, the Department of Education in New South Wales, as agent for the Commonwealth Government, conducts schools and prescribes curricula in the Australian Capital Territory. The second is that this is a national matter because Christianity is a basic element in our civilisation. As a result of this syllabus, if it is to be ultimately accepted, we will have a revolutionary change in this very important field in New South Wales and, of course, in the Australian Capital Territory.
I should like to say a few words about the controversies that raged back in the sixties, seventies and eighties of the last century. These culminated in the Public Instruction Act of New South Wales in 1 866 and then a more far-reaching act in 1880. These embodied the compromise that was reached at that time. My argument will be that the compromise has been departed from completely by the new syllabus. I shall demonstrate that to the Committee. There were three elements in the compromise. The first element was that there should be general religious teaching in the schools from non-controversial texts from the Bible and that those lessons should be given by the ordinary teaching staff in the schools. The second element was that there should be special religious teaching by the clergy of the various denominations at convenient times in the course of the school programme. The third element of course, was a conscience clause which permitted the withdrawal of children from classes for religious instruction and permitted teachers to refuse to give such instruction.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I raise a point of order. Has this anything to do with the Prime Minister’s Department?
– Order! The honorable member for Bradfield is entirely in order.
– I submit that the honorable member is out of order. His remarks have nothing at all to do with the Prime Minister’s Department.
Order! The honorable member for Bradfield is talking about education in Canberra. The New South Wales Department of Education is connected with schools in Canberra.
– I regret that the honorable gentleman is wasting my time, because I have very few minutes in which to develop a rather large theme. This matter is of some significance to all honorable members and to most people in the community.
– It has nothing to do with the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I ask for your ruling on this point. Am I entitled to speak on this matter or not?
Yes, the honorable member is entitled to speak.
– I have no time to recapitulate what I was saying, except to say that there was a compromise resulting from considerable controversy in the last century; that the compromise involved three elements; and that the new syllabus, proposed but temporarily withdrawn, involves a complete departure from the compromise of the last century.
In the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 4th October 1866, a speech made by Sir Henry Parkes in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, telling how the important clause dealing with the meaning to be attached to “ secular instruction “ came to be introduced in the 1866 Act, was reported as follows -
It was never intended by the Government, by the term “ secular instruction “, to exclude such religious knowledge as was common to a Christian people. (Loud cheers.)
The intention of Sir Henry Parkes was made quite clear in the parliamentary debate, as reported in “ Hansard “, when the subsequent bill was introduced in 1880. When introducing this Sir Henry Parkes said -
The seventh clause -
That is the relevant clause here -
That is the act of 1866 -
So a clause in the same language was introduced in the act of 1SS0, and that clause still operates today. Sir Henry Parkes went on to say -
What is meant is that the scripture lessons which, some years ago, were adopted by the bishops of the English Church and of the Soman Catholic Church in Ireland, should be read in the schools as part of the ordinary lesson books.
Then he read clause 7 of the 1880 Act, which, as I said, was in the same terms as the relevant clause of the 1866 Act. It is quite clear and beyond question that what was meant by “ secular instruction “ in the Acts of 1866 and 1880 was scripture in the sense of non-controversial biblical texts which were read in lessons conducted by the ordinary school staff.
The Minister for Education in New South Wales has now come forward with a proposal which is completely revolutionary. No longer is the compromise of 1880 to stand. I. think the best way in which I can bring this matter before the Committee is to read some brief extracts from the new syllabus. 1 think it is a very fair selection. This is what is said in the syllabus -
General religious teaching is taken to mean the teaching of ethical principles which are in accordance wilh our highest standards of thought and conduct … lt is interpreted as being independent of the element of worship or profession of particular beliefs which would characterise a defined religious system and free of any comment, favourable or unfavourable, on any particular religious teaching or article of faith.
. exemption can be sought by parents from the attendance of their children during any time when religious instruction is given whether or not the instruction is dogmatical, lt is socially most undesirable that anything taught under the heading of General Religious Teaching should ever make a parent feel the need to take advantage of this provision, as it is undesirable that a pupil should ever be made to feel isolated from the society of his fellows for this reason. in the years since World War II a great shrinkage has occurred in the separations between classes, nations and cultures, and, more recently, between religions, and great effort has been put into the seeking out and cultivation of the things that join human societies together.
Public education can no longer emphasise a single system of religion as the basis of ethical instruction and the sanction of high ethical conduct.
General school instruction should be concerned with hopes, ideals and actions which are worthy of emulation, wherever they are found, and with the spirit which inspired them. They are not exclusively the possession of one religious system or of one people.
Codes of behaviour and codes of living have been developed independently by many races lo remarkably simliar standards.
The point of view of the syllabus might be summarised by saying that it is not concerned with teaching Christianity or Judaism but that it may often be concerned with teaching about Christianity or Judaism or about the religious systems to which our Asian neighbours adhere.
. it will be possible to think of the Bible as a rich source of teaching material. . . .
Teachers are urged to seek suitable additional material in writings of other religions. The respect for life in all its forms that is so strongly stressed in Buddhism is an example.
The story of Christmas and (or) that of Easier unfolds basic Christian beliefs, but they may be put so that no objection from any other religion would be tenable.
Not all lessons, however, will be based on religious teachings or narrative. They will often rely for illustration on secular literature or happenings in daily life as reported, for example, in the press or seen on television.
I believe that it will be fair enough to sum up the new syllabus in this way: First, Christianity is relegated to the position of just another religion in no way to be preferred to many others. Secondly, the Christian religion is to be treated as merely an ethical system and not a religion at all. I am confirmed in this view by a statement by the Bishop of Canberra-Goulburn. I quote his remarks because this is not irrelevant so far as the Australian Capital Territory is concerned. In his Bishop’s Letter he said -
What we must all note carefully here is that general religious instruction now ceases to be essentially Christian and in the real sense ceases to be a religion.
I think I have made my point that this syllabus is a complete departure from the compromise that was reached in 1880. This, of course, does not prove that it is wrong, but certainly it should not be introduced by an ageing Minister, about to retire from Parliament, without reference to the syllabus committee, the clergy, the Parliament or the people of New South Wales. This much is certain when something completely and utterly revolutionary is about to be done.
Unfortunately, I have no time to deal with this matter as I should, but clearly the syllabus contemplates that religion, so called, is simply a matter of ethical principles. I quote the definition of “ religion “ from the Oxford dictionary. The dictionary states -
Religion: Action or conduct indicating a belief in, reverence for, and desire to please, a divine ruling power; the recognition on the part of man of some higher unseen power as having control of his destiny, and as being entitled to obedience, reverence and worship . . .
This is an entirely different thing from a set of ethical principles. There have been various ethical philosophies, but in the time available to me I can give only one as an example to indicate the difference between religion and ethics. Religion, of course, deals with the relationship of man with God, and ethics deals with the relationship of man with man. Let us take the philosophy of Epicurus as an example. I quote from the “Encyclopaedia Britannica “ -
While every pleasure is in itself good, not all pleasures are to be chosen, since certain pleasures arc produced by means which entail annoyances many limes greater than the pleasures.
What springs to mind is a hangover after excessive consumption of alcohol. The passage continues -
A right conception of pleasure itself conduces to right living, since it is not possible to live pleasantly without living wisely and well and righteously.
It is quite obvious that ethics as a philosophical system is not the same thing as religion. The sanctions and much else are completely different. So I say that the syllabus clearly departs from the compromise reached in 1880 and clearly is not a syllabus of religious teaching at all. Simply, it is a hash of various philosophies and religions with a view to distilling from them some principles of conduct which have no sanctions which will not really become ingrained in the minds of children - who will grow up into adults. This, I think, is a tremendously important matter. I do not believe that the National Parliament and the Prime Minister can pretend that Christianity is, like the fluoridation of water, a State matter with which this Parliament should not concern itself.
.- I do not intend to get into a debate with the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) about the matter he has raised, except to make two brief comments. First, the honorable member neglected to tell us that the syllabus to which allusion has been made is now being referred back for review.
– I said it was temporarily withdrawn.
– Well, .it is being reviewed - not only withdrawn but reviewed. Secondly, the honorable member brought this matter into discussion on the ground that the New South Wales syllabus is the one that applies in the Australian Capital Territory. My only comment on that is that personally I look forward to the day when the Commonwealth will develop its own educational facilities to embrace all its own Commonwealth responsibilities. I shall have more to say about that when we discuss the estimates for the Department of Territories.
I believe that the Government has been quite lethargic about many of our educational requirements. I will not have time to develop all these points, but I want to draw attention to the Commonwealth’s neglect to implement its election promise about the 2,500 technical scholarships that were to be made available. I should like to talk about the delay in bringing before the Parliament the report of the inquiry into the future of tertiary education. If I have time I should like to refer to the Commonwealth’s failure for two years to bring down a bill to deal with the recurrent teaching costs of hospitals. If I had time I would refer to the Commonwealth’s failure to give any indication of what it intends to do about the Currie committee’s report on higher education in Papua and New Guinea. I should like also to have time to talk about the Commonwealth’s failure to provide sufficient Commonwealth scholarships mainly tenable at the universities, to meet the demands of an ever increasing number of qualified applicants. I should like to have time also to talk about the Commonwealth’s failure to meet the requests of each of the Ministers for Education in the various States of Australia in regard to some inquiry and grant for primary, secondary and technical education.
I was rather surprised that the honorable member for Bradfield did not refer to the Commonwealth’s failure to present to this Parliament a report from the committee of inquiry into tertiary education, because it was the honorable member for Bradfield who, on 16th May - not this year but last year - brought the matter to the notice of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The honorable member for Bradfield then indicated that it was a great pity that honorable members did not have the opportunity to debate education while the report of the inquiry was pending. On that occasion the Prime Minister said -
I am now able to say trial during my discussions wilh them -
He was referring to the committee of inquiry - on Saturday, 4th May, the chairman of the Australian Universities Commission and his fellow commissioner confirmed my impression that the Government may expect to receive the report of the committee at the end of this year, and that it is impracticable for the report to be completed before that time.
Those words appear in “ Hansard “ of May last year at page 1553. The committee’s report was to be made available by the end of the year. The report had not appeared, so I asked the Prime Minister about it in April this year. The Prime Minister then told me that the report would be available in a matter of only a few weeks. On 21st April this year the Prime Minister told me in answer to a question on notice -
The committee is in the final stages of preparing ils report and 1 am hopeful that it will be submitted in the next few weeks.
This was in April - five months ago - but there is still no report before the Parliament and, so far as I know, the Prime Minister has not yet received the report. What is going on? This is an important inquiry into a vastly important segment of Australian education. The inquiry has been in progress for three years. It is bad enough that the report is not before the Parliament, but we have neither the Prime Minister nor anybody representing him present to tell us why the report has not been made available. This is the report of an inquiry into all forms of tertiary education, presumably apart from university education. It deals with important matters. It affects every State education system in Australia. It deals with important segments of higher technical education and teachers’ colleges, and it may well come up with suggestions for introducing some new forms of tertiary education.
I have seen some of the submissions that were made to this committee over two years ago advocating urgent measures for other forms of tertiary education. Why has this report not come before the Parliament and why has the Prime Minister not told us why there is a delay. This is awfully important for New South Wales, the State I represent, where big plans are being made at the moment to establish the New South Wales Institute of Technical Education. This project will run into millions of pounds. The States cannot wait for the Government to act. They recognise the urgency of the matter but they are forced to go ahead, not knowing what contribution the Commonwealth will make. I think the people are entitled to something better from the Government. I hope that the Prime Minister will give us some explanation for this delay before this Committee finishes its deliberations. The delay has been going on month after month. Honorable members are being led on and on, nothing is happening and nobody has said anything about it.
At the end of the last session, on the 19th May, the Prime Minister made a statement about secondary school scholarships that were to be introduced by the Commonwealth. There are to be 10,000 scholarships and they provide £100 for the maintenance of each child for each of two years and £100 for fees and books free of the means test, for the lucky students who will receive them. The important question is: How many students will not receive them? The scholarships are to be apportioned to the States on a total population basis. Why that criteria was selected I will never know. There might have been some sense in apportioning them on the basis of the school population or the secondary school population, or even on the number of children in the 14 to 16 years group. The system of apportioning the scholarships has been a matter of grave misgiving.
The point I want to talk about in the brief moments I have available is the insistence by the Government that there should be an external examination in each State to which all students will have to submit. This insistence has caused the introduction of a new examination in Tasmania and Victoria. In Victoria this year there will be a new examination in order to select the scholarship winners in that State. There will have to be a separate examination imposed in New South Wales this year for a particular reason. I have heard the Prime
Minister speak many times about the need for diversity in education yet the Commonwealth insists on a common externally imposed examination - a new examination altogether - to decide who will receive these scholarships. This will mean, as one newspaper said, that there will be a rat race in the class room for these scholarships and the imposition of uniformity to meet the requirements of the examination.
Interestingly enough, in Victoria the Australian Council of Educational Research has been called upon to formulate a special examination for all students applying for this Commonwealth scholarship. Presumably the examination will be held in the next month or so. I say “ interestingly enough “ because for years I and other people have been pleading to the Commonwealth to increase its grant to this semi-governmental or semiprivate organisation, the Australian Council of Educational Research. It is one of the few bodies in Australia that is carrying out research into education. The Government is the instrument requiring the Council to devise a test so that the Commonwealth scholarships can be allotted in Victoria. Yet again this year the grant by the Government to the Council remains at £7,500 - the same as it has been for years.
The trend in education today is to get away as far as possible from uniformity and uniform external examinations. The trend is for schools to provide a course of study to develop the minds of students to the stage where upgrading is warranted and if the school is prepared to say that the student meets the requirements for secondary education or entry to university then that is good enough for the education system of that State. In fact, in Victoria 60 per cent, of secondary school students qualify in this way. They do not have to sit for these uniform external examinations which impose a uniform approach to teaching and a uniform programme throughout school life. The trend has been to get away from this approach but just when that trend is well under way another external examination is imposed for students in Victoria. This will cause a rat race in coaching. Despite all that has been said about this particular test, and what it is designed for, there will be a rat race and a scramble for the Commonwealth scholarships in the last two years of secondary education in Victoria. The argument against the further imposition of examinations is based on the realisation that they only test certain things in the educational programme. An examination cannot test a lot of things that are important in producing a citizen in Australia. Personal characteristics, personality, group behaviour and all those things are not determined in examinations by the use of pencil and paper. Just as the administrators of enlightened educational systems are trying to get away from this system along comes the Commonwealth and the Prime Minister, who has so much to say about the diversity required in education, and imposes uniformity on education through this medium. I say that this is a retrograde step.
When the Prime Minister made his statements on the 19th May about the Commonwealth scholarships for secondary schools he indicated at that time that the Government was not prepared to go ahead with the promise it made at the last election that it would provide 2,500 technical scholarships for people attending technical educational institutions. He said -
AH States agree with the Commonwealth that discussion of those scholarships should wait until the report of the Committee on Tertiary Education. I have made previous reference in this House to that committee.
When the States agreed with the Government about this they probably did so on the understanding that the report on this inquiry into tertiary education would be prepared in the time intimated to this Parliament. But now it is mid-September, just when students and educational authorities need to know the terms of the scholarships for tertiary education next year and we still do not know anything about it. As far as the Government is concerned, everything has to stand still awaiting the belated arrival of this report on tertiary education. So now we are nearly at the end of the academic year and there is still no indication of who is going to get these 2,500 technical scholarships; no-one knows how they are to be awarded or who is going to award them or anything else. This is a reflection of the ill-prepared proposals of the Government put forward at the last election under the pressure of the bold educational policy put forward by the Australian Labour Party.
Another proposal made by the Government back in 1961 which is still lagging is the scheme to provide for the teaching costs of medical hospitals. This proposal was made in the report of the Australian Universities Commission in October 1961. In 1962 the Government brought down a bill accepting recommendations made by the Commission regarding the recurrent capital costs of teaching hospitals. That happened two years ago but still no provision is made for the recurrent costs of these teaching hospitals. In fact, the Commission’s committee dealing with this subject is, at the end of 1964, still involved in determining what are the recurrent capital costs of teaching hospitals for the triennium 1964 to 1966. We are nearly a third of the way through the triennium and this Government has made no proposal to provide for these costs. The States cannot stand still. They are going ahead but their progress is very inadequate. They are unable to form long range educational programmes for primary, secondary, or tertiary education because this Government is lagging behind in its responsibilities.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN__
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has dealt extensively with the operations of the Commonwealth Government in the field of education and has made a number of quite pungent criticisms of the Commonwealth’s activities. 1 intend in the few minutes at my disposal to take up some of these criticisms though I shall not approach them in the doctrinaire way in which they appear to have been made without any kind of fair assessment of the tremendously complicated background to the undertaking of an entirely new venture - indeed, a bold and very extensive venture - in education, which has brought an entirely new vista into this very important field.
Let me speak in particular about some of the points that have been made. First of all, attention has been directed to the undoubted demand in many areas for a clear assessment of the particular needs of secondary education at the present time. Everybody in Australia would like to know as concisely and as clearly as possible just what is the problem, what is its magnitude and where in particular arc the points of stress that need to be met so that we may arrive at a solution to the problem.
Before we accept the idea that what we need is some kind of laboratory experiment - some kind of nice and precise investigation - that can be undertaken simply by the signing of a document, as it were, let us see what is happening in Australia. We are undergoing a tremendous explosion of population in our schools. This knowledge is commonplace, and I do not intend to waste valuable time on it. At the present time, the number of people in the group of school age is expanding very rapidly, and this expansion imposes tremendous strains on our educational resources. The resulting pressure on our schools is causing crisis conditions everywhere. Indeed, this is so not only in Australia but also in other nations. This represents the background to the actions of the Commonwealth Government, which, over a decade now, has come to the assistance - indeed, one could say, to the rescue - of the universities in an effort to help them out of a condition into which they fell when they were totally dependent on State and private assistance. They had fallen into so dangerous a situation as to bring some of them very close to going out of existence.
We know the story of the Murray committee and the appointment of the Australian Universities Commission. We have seen the way in which these problems have been tackled so robustly by the present Commonwealth Government in recent years. At the same time, it became apparent that this was not the only area in which grave crises existed. At the secondary level, something additional had to be done if we were to solve the problem of the first year failure rate at universities and if we were to meet the demand by increasing numbers of young Australians seeking the proper type of background to enable them to take their places in the new world of tomorrow - the world of science, technology and increased demands for education. What should be done at the secondary level? Nothing is easier than for a State authority to say: “ The Commonwealth should undertake this as well “. The Commonwealth, indeed, has been undertaking a large number of activities which, for the greater part of our history as a Federation, were not considered to be Commonwealth responsibilities.
The Australian Education Council prepared a statement on this subject. It was revised in July 1963 and unanimously adopted by the State Ministers in charge of education. This is a very serious and well prepared document which received the concurrence of the various Premiers and was forwarded to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in October of last year for consideration by the Commonwealth Government. What did this statement reveal? It showed that, in order to maintain proper standards of education, additional capital expenditure of £98 million would be needed over four years to meet the cost of buildings for primary, secondary and technical education, and for teacher training facilities, in order to overcome the backlog and the deficiencies. This represents new expenditure. In addition, to meet recurrent needs, the present annual rate of expenditure on education throughout Australia would need to be increased initially by a minimum of £21 million and thereafter at the rate of £8.25 million per annum. That is the backdrop to the current situation in which the Commonwealth is placed.
The special capital assistance for the provision of science laboratories in State schools which the Commonwealth has recently undertaken to provide in the financial year 1964-65 was heralded at the recent meeting of Premiers and their advisers in Canberra as a great step in the right direction. They recognised that this was a step in the right direction that would ease some of the fundamental pressures at present bearing on the schools.
The Premiers came to Canberra to discuss with the Commonwealth the implementation of this widely canvassed idea that there should be a large scale examination by a commission or some kind of inquiry that would state the problem clearly and explicitly for everyone. Mr. Hills from New South Wales and Sir Thomas Playford from South Australia were the two principal speakers on the subject. They presented their case very forcefully. For instance, Mr. Hills stated that he believed that there was a strong case for the Commonwealth, in the national interest, to provide special additional assistance to the States to help them to bring their educational buildings and personnel up to the standards required in a modern and advanced community. When all the case had been presented to the Commonwealth, and what the Premiers were seeking to do became apparent, Sir Thomas Playford, before any reply could be given, said that he would like to support strongly the views stated on behalf of New South Wales.
It was amazing to learn from the record of the conference, and various other reports, what happened when the Commonwealth made its reply. The Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton), replying for the Prime Minister, said that the proposal before the conference was twofold. The first point was that a great deal more money should be made available for education along the lines recommended by the State Ministers. The second point was that an investigation of the kind proposed should be made. He added that it was important to realise what was being proposed by the State Ministers and said that their proposition was that education, in a period of four years, should be brought up to what he described as RollsRoyce standards. In other words, this was an optimum idealisation of the solution to the problem that the State Ministers were propounding in their proposals to the Commonwealth.
Senator Gorton pointed out that, in addition to a crash programme for the provision of finance, it was suggested that the Commonwealth should become the expert, as it were, and the source of knowledge about the overall problem. He put the proposition to the Premiers this way: Does this mean that there is not sufficient knowledge of the requirements of education by the appropriate authorities in each State? Does this mean that you expect the Commonwealth to establish another authority that will investigate what you are doing in a field that is recognised as your own, make this investigation as a Commonwealth authority and, having assessed all the information, tell each State what it must do within its own borders? It was remarkable how short the speeches made in reply by State representatives became as the discussion continued. In the end, it became apparent that the Premiers were moving swiftly away from the proposal for an inquiry and were asking whether the Commonwealth would be prepared to accept an assessment by each State of its own needs.
I do not want to continue further with the discussion of this matter at present. But let me say that there is no dropping behind and no lack of enthusiasm or readiness to tackle a problem when it is seen. However, it is apparent to anyone who looks fairly at the situation that we are dealing with a problem that is immensely complicated. Let us take just one matter that has been mentioned by the honorable member for Barton. He criticised the Commonwealth over the method by which Commonwealth scholarships are to be allocated to students at schools. He suggests that it is dreadful that the Commonwealth is the proponent of a uniform examination system upon which the distribution of these Commonwealth moneys will be based. But he did not give us an alternative. He gave us no concept of the way which, in his view, the Commonwealth should act as the steward of the people’s money, in the distribution of scholarships to students, without relying on examinations based in each State on a common standard. When he spoke about uniformity he, I think, skirted very lightly around the fact that this type of examination differs from State to State. He pointed out that the Australian Council of Educational Research in Victoria has advised a special examination, but it is unlike the kind of examination he said the Government was trying to get people to accept.
The honorable member’s view was of a stereotyped examination which would cause a rat race in the schools and produce coaching for the type of answers that teachers would be able to tip as being the criteria for passing an examination. All that is arrant nonsense, because the Council of Educational Research has devised a new type of examination which is going to be not the kind of thing you can swot or study for or to amass facts together and which is merely a test of memory, but which has included in it a number of techniques and methods by which to assess ability in what is believed to be a much more specialised and appropriate way. So, across the nation you could go from State to State and find interesting and most intimate conversations taking place between the Commonwealth and the State Ministers for Education, Directors of Education and other authorities. There has indeed been liaison and preparation.
Take one other case which has been mentioned in respect of the promise that scholarships would be available for students of technical schools. This promise is virtually and utterly impossible of immediate fulfilment. If there are any members of the Opposition who can put up a plan to implement it as simply as they imply we will be delighted to hear it, because every State has a different approach and a different concept of what is meant by technical education at the secondary level. In Victoria there are specialised schools which prepare students for trade certificate type examinations. In South Australia there are technical high schools which prepare students for matriculation. These kinds of schools hardly exist at all in New South Wales. A few are to be found in Queensland. There is no immediately possible single method of applying the Commonwealth scholarship for technical school purposes. This is not just the Commonwealth say-so - this is the consensus of opinion of State education authorities. So an entirely flexible scheme has been devised. The suggestions of each State have been sought, and before long the appropriate Minister will be presenting in the House a thoroughly workable scheme which will be completely in keeping with the desires and requirements of each State. It will implement the promise which was made on the hustings to help this particular section of the community which comprises the kind of students who do not have the ability or the background to go on to a university education or to the diploma preparation for the higher kind of technology that is available in our technical schools and our technical institutions, but who do require additional education after the secondary level. It will enable them to go out to something at a highly skilled tradesman’s level.
This kind of problem is new. It is being investigated on a national scale for the first time and it is quite inappropriate that there should be criticism that it has not rolled into action as though everything had been prepared for it. I believe that when the whole field is known, when the facts are known thoroughly, and when this six-inch thick report, only the covers of which I have seen so far, is circulated to honorable members there will be only amazement at the complexity of the, problem and at the robust way in which the Commonwealth is attacking it.
.- The honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) spoke about this very important promise on education which the Government made at the recent elections. At the time, however, the Government did not say: “ We promise this now and will make a lot of excuses afterwards and you may get what we promise two years hence “. The things I wish to speak about are mainly concerned with the Prime Minister’s Department. I want to bring to notice some aspects of the Public Service Act and the related acts which I believe are out of date. I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to these, because he administers these Acts, which contain so many penal provisions that 1 would not have time, in the 15 minutes at my disposal, to bring them all to notice. However, I shall refer to some of them.
Section 10 of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act states -
The official conduct record of the Commonwealth employee shall be taken into consideration in determining whether the whole or any portion of the leave of absence or pay provided in this Act may be granted.
Sometimes conduct can be recorded against an officer and he may have no knowledge of it. He may not know that dossiers are kept. Secret reports are made about some officers. Such a report could bc used against an officer when it comes to granting him his long service leave rights. Sometimes dossiers are prepared by senior officers in departments. They take a lot of factors into account. Sometimes they are prejudiced. A political prejudice can influence a report. If an officer does not have the same politics as the person making the report an adverse conduct report could be made. If an officer takes an interest in his union the same thing could happen. The old sectarian bogy also comes into it. I believe a superior officer should be above considering these assorted factors, because this is a matter of human rights and civil rights.
Another aspect to which I. shall refer relates to officers charged with committing criminal offences. The penal clauses in relation to this are, I think, outmoded. I asked the Prime Minister about this the other day and he has promised to take some action. I am sorry he is not in the chamber at present, when I could draw his attention personally to these matters, but I will take the opportunity of posting to him a copy of my speech after “ Hansard “ reproduces it in an attractive form. I refer particularly to section 62 (3.) of the Public Service Act, which states -
Any officer who is so suspended or dismissed shall, Unless the Board otherwise directs, not receive any salary from the date upon which or for the period during which, he ceased to perform the duties of his office.
Honorable members will see from the Act that a man who may be committed for a criminal offence could be convicted in three ways. If an officer is committed for a criminal offence and does not resume his duties again, according to this section he does not receive any pay thereafter. At stake in this, of course, is the important question of furlough rights. As honorable members know, the Public Service Act provides that an officer is entitled to six months long service leave after 20 years service. After 40 years service he gets 12 months long service leave, and for the remainder of his period of employment he gets prorata leave. If he is convicted of a criminal offence, and section 10 of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Aci is applied, he not only is penalised by the Court for his offence but is sacked from his position and in addition is precluded from securing the long service leave which has accrued to him. He could be a man who has served well for 40 years in accumulating this leave. His long service leave could be worth £1,000 or £1,200 to him but because of his offence he could be deprived of all that. As the legislation now stands nobody has discretion to allow him to take his furlough or payment in lieu.
Sub-section (5.) of section 62 of the Public Service Act states -
This section shall not prevent an officer from being dealt with under some other provision of this Act, but an officer shall not be punished under this Act twice in respect of the same offence or matter.
The Act states that the officer shall not be punished more than once, but as 1 have pointed out he may be punished by the court, sacked from his job, which is a very heavy penalty in itself, and may in addition lose all long service leave due to him, which may be worth £1,000 or £1,200. Once an officer has earned the right to long service leave that right should not be taken away. If he serves for 40 years and commits an offence in his 41st year it is not right to penalise him by denying him the long service leave that he has earned by his 40 years of unblemished service. I ask the Prime Minister to consider this matter.
Some officers avail themselves of long service leave and other leave as it falls due. Some, for example, take their sick leave day by day. Others take their long service leave as soon as they qualify for it. They do not allow it to accumulate. If such an officer committed an offence in his 41st year of service it may be that shortly before committing the offence he had taken all long service leave due to him. He could then not be denied his long service leave rights. This is an anomaly. When an officer is dismissed from the service not only is the officer punished but his wife and family also are punished. In my opinion the officer’s wife and family are as much part of the service as is the officer. Dismissing the officer punishes his entire family, and this is too harsh. I hope that the Prime Minister will give some consideration to these matters.
The next matter I wish to raise concerns the rights of women in the Public Service. I noticed in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ yesterday that for the first time a woman has been appointed to a high executive position in the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. She will be paid £300 or £400 less than would be paid to a man occupying the same position. I do not think there is justice in that state of affairs. The same rate should be paid to the occupant of a position regardless of sex. The Prime Minister is ignoring this anomaly. He could rectify it by a simple amendment of the Act or of the regulations. Thousands of females are employed in the Commonwealth Public Service doing the same work as men. They do the work as efficiently as the men do it - sometimes I think they do it more efficiently - but they receive only 75 per cent, of the male rate.
– It is exploitation.
– It is. The women should receive the male rate. If this were done they would simply be receiving the just amount for the work they do. They do the same work as the men do. They work the same hours as the men work. They acquire the same knowledge for the job as the men acquire. They pass the same examinations as the mcn pass, even to university level, and they incur the same expenses in acquiring their knowledge as men incur. It is un just not to pay women the same rates as men receive.
It is in the interests of working men, whether they be in the Public Service or outside, that women should receive equal rates of pay with men. This would lead to greater wage and job security for men. Protection for the breadwinner is important. It is only natural that employers will employ a woman if she can do a particular job for less pay than would have to be paid to a man. Equal pay for women would discourage employers from hiring women for less money than the’y would have to pay to men and from replacing men with women at lower rates of pay, as is sometimes done.
– An employee should be paid for the quality of the work done.
– That is so. All I am seeking is natural justice. It is important that the Prime Minister should set a good example. Equal pay for equal work would protect fair employers against the unfair competition of employers who attempt to use women to undercut men’s wages. Equal pay for equal work is important to housewives because it would mean greater economic security for them and their children by protecting the male head of the family. I invite the Prime Minister to follow the lead given by the New South Wales Labour Government, which has introduced equal pay for the sexes in the teaching profession and in many other sections of the New South Wales Public Service.
In another field also New South Wales is setting the standard. I refer to the provision of four weeks annual leave for public servants. Commonwealth public servants are entitled to only three weeks annual leave. This is an important matter because more and more reliance is being placed on automation. Automation is being used in some departments in the Commonwealth sphere. Many Commonwealth departments use electronic data processing equipment and computers. This practice represents a threat to the breadwinner. If machines replace the man, who wiM become the consumer? The machines will not become consumers and buy what is produced. If we do not have consumers in the form of men who do jobs that could be done by machines, our whole economy will be seriously affected.
In the short time available to me I wish to say something about garnishee orders obtained against the wages of Commonwealth public servants. At present a person obtaining a garnishee order against the wages of a public servant may obtain an order for an amount not exceeding twothirds of the amount paid to the officer. Suppose an officer received £21 a week. A garnishee order for £14 a week could be obtained against him. These provisions are completely out of date. They provide also that not less than £2 a week must be left to the officer. I believe this is a matter into which the Prime Minister could with profit inquire.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I desire to address myself to two items in the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. One comes under the heading of the Commonwealth Office of Education and indicates that a payment of £4,750 is to be made towards the publication of a very informative document known as the “ Current Affairs Bulletin “. The second item to which I will refer - I hope honorable members will see the link between the two items - concerns the grant of £200,000 to the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. It is rather interesting to note that what might be called the right hand of Government activity, that is, the “ Current Affairs Bulletin “, in an issue entitled “ Culture in Australia - Theatre and Subsidies”, has chosen to question the way in which the sum of £200.000 is being spent by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. I draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Trust was set up in 1954 and I understand that the purpose was to assist in promoting what might be called an Australian national culture. On page 29 of his latest report, he Auditor-General has this to say in paragraph 38 -
During 1963-64 a gram of £200,000- lt was only £75,000 in 1.962-63, so that there has been a considerable increase over the two year period - was made to the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust and charged to Division No. 121 .. .
The Trust was incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory in 1954 as a company limited by guarantee with the objects of, inter aiia, promoting drama, opera, ballet and any other art of the theatre in Australia.
The grant for the current year . . . was made on the basis of £2 for each £1 contributed by the Stale Governments. Total Commonwealth grants to the Trust up to 30th June 1964 amounted to £546,931.
Annual financial statements produced by the Trust are subject to audit and report by a firm of public accountants; copies are forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Department.
I would say that, from the point of view of what might be called Parliamentary accountability, it is very difficult, from the scant information presented to the Parliament in this document, to make any sort of assessment whatever of how this sum has been spent. I do not think anybody begrudges expenditure by the Commonwealth in these desirable fields of assistance to drama, opera, ballet and any other art of the theatre in Australia. All that one can do sometimes is to contrast the luxurious ease with which the Commonwealth can spend sums of this sort with the position of the States which are concerned with many other cultural activities such as libraries, adult education, and so on. The States have not the same wealth of resources as has the Commonwealth. I also doubt whether there is any other body receiving such large amounts as this which has to render less account of its expenditure to the Parliament than docs the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, although I am not suggesting that the sums that have been expended by the Trust have been misspent in any way. I refer honorable members to the last paragraph of the article in this “ Current Affairs Bulletin “ - which is also published with the assistance of a Commonwealth grant - because 1 -think it contains the gravamen of the author’s charge. It reads -
Thus it is maintained that the allocation of subsidies should be in the hands of a committee and executives as representative and as objective as those of the Canada Council. Without this our non-commercial theatre absorbs its annual £300,000-
To the £200,000 granted by the Commonwealth is added a grant of £100,000 by the State - but shows little advancement towards permanent achievement - in quality, judgment and administrative expertise.
It then goes on -
Can our New Audience- that is, our new theatre audience - be expected to respond to this?
I suggest that the charge that the Australian
Elizabethan Theatre Trust is deficient in quality, judgment and administrative expertise is very serious.
The author of this article is anonymous, and that is very often a convenient way in which to write a document. He bases his charge mainly on the suggestion that the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust has departed from the kind of model that was envisaged when it was set up. He mentions the fact that the Trust had its genesis in a committee which was set up by the Chifley Government in 1948 and which invited Mr. Tyrone Guthrie to come to Australia and indicate how he though a national theatre should be developed in Australia.
According to the writer of this article, Mr. Guthrie thought that the body ought not to be too ambitious, that it ought to start in a limited field rather than try to cover all fields. Apparently it was also suggested that it was a dangerous thing for the body which administered the grant also to be responsible so’metimes for producing actual theatrical productions. Again I point out that so far as I can see, there is no means of obtaining accountability. The Prime Minister’s Department may have figures that are not available to us, but this Parliament has no indication of how many ventures were subsidised by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust in 1963-64 or what is projected in 1964-65. I am not qualified to know whether the writer of this article is right or wrong, but I do feel that the Government has a case to answer when he expresses the view that a large amount of this money has been wasted because the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust itself, which he says lacks quality, judgment and administrative expertise, has sponsored theatrical ventures. One example he quotes is a Sydney theatre known as “The Old Tote “ which has a seating capacity of 1 82 persons. He refers to a show that was mounted there by the Trust, and he mentions that the cost of the production probably worked out at as much as £10 a seat. He contrasts that experience in Sydney, where the Trust has, in effect, gone into the field of theatrical production, with the success of another sort of undertaking which the Trust assisted and which is allowed to function on its own. I refer to the Union Theatre in Melbourne. The author of the article points to this venture as being a more successful form of theatrical enterprise and one more likely to achieve the purpose for which the Trust was established - that of helping to develop a national culture in Australia - because it represents an attempt to allow an organisation to have virtually its own permanent theatre. The benefit of a permanent theatre is that actors may be employed full time, that they may be given an opportunity to follow a career in the theatre. Simultaneously with a current performance, such a theatre is able to embark upon new productions. In the view of the writer of this article, that is probably the better pattern to follow in future for the theatre in Australia.
In passing, he offers the criticism that there has been relatively too much concentration on opera and ballet and too little concentration on the less expensive forms of production with the result that many people seeking to follow a theatrical career either as playwrights or actors have had to flee from Australia in search of success. We have the examples of playwrights such as Ray Lawler and Richard Beynon, who wrote one or two plays that were quite successful and ranked with good modern theatre anywhere in the world. They had to leave Australia because they could not find the opportunities here that would allow their talents to develop as they should.
In view of the sum that is expended, the time may have come when we should do here as Canada did. There should be set up a trust, if you like, of a different kind that would receive a Government grant but itself would not directly engage in productions. This writer sees the undertaking of productions as the Achilles’ heel of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust; the Trust cannot be both the administrator of funds to assist the theatre generally and one of the operators in the field. Canada has what is called the Canada Council, which has been given the magnificent endowment of 100 million dollars or near enough to £A.50 million. This, of course, contrasts with the sum of £200,000 that is given here.
As 1 say, I want to be careful not to suggest that I begrudge the expenditure of so small a sum in this desirable field. However, at least as Parliamentarians and as custodians of the expenditure, we ought to be careful to account for the way the money is expended. There is no direct accountability. There is simply a single line reference in the Budget and a reference of a few lines in the Auditor-General’s report. Above all, there is this criticism contained in a document that can continue to be published only because it also receives a subsidy from the Prime Minister’s Department.
The Prime Minister’s Department ought at least to relate the two. It ought to scrutinise very carefully the criticism contained in the Current Affairs Bulletin “ Theatre and Subsidies “, see whether it is relevant and at least look more carefully into the activities of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust. Some very important people serve on the Trust. They are people who are dedicated to the promotion of the theatre in Australia and to the improvement of our national culture. I know two members of the Trust and I cannot in any way criticise their contributions to culture. They are Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, and Colonel Aubrey Gibson of Melbourne. Both are devoted to the cause they serve. 1 have mct them in different capacities at various times and 1 do not in any way criticise what they are doing.
This is a controversial field. We know of the jealousies that can occur in theatre, drama and musical groups in the community. Nevertheless, a criticism is made here and I think it is incumbent on the Government at least to look at the matter and to give to Parliament much more detailed information as to how the money is spent.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have previously made some critical remarks about the new external examinations that are being introduced in some States, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania, as a means of determining the allocation of the new Commonwealth secondary school scholarships. The honorable member for
Evans (Dr. Mackay) asked me to suggest an alternative to these examinations. I point out, first, that this is a dilemma that the Government has created for itself. It would not have existed for the Australian Labour Party, because our policy is quite different. In our view Commonwealth scholarships ought to be given to all students who qualify for the last two years of the secondary school course. We have good reasons for espousing this principle. It is part of our philosophy, for a start. We do not believe in the cultivation of an intellectual clique based on unequal opportunities and advantages. That is the first comment I make.
However, even if I were saddled with the Government’s problem, I think 1 would tackle it differently from the way that is proposed. There is no reason in the wide world why the Commonwealth should not use the same system as the Victorian Education Department uses. The Victorian Department allocates so many of its scholarships to each school and the school is left to select from its students those who, in the opinion of the teachers, are most deserving of scholarships. This at least has the virtue that other educational qualities are being assessed apart from those that are normally assessed in a written examination.
At this stage, I would like to summarise my views on what I regard as a retrograde step and that is the introduction of a further uniform external examination for the purpose of allocating scholarships. After all, the examination is for that purpose only and we must remember that only a comparatively small number of scholarships will be awarded. I think about one in twenty of the students who will undertake the last two years of secondary school will receive one of these scholarships. But to award the scholarships, we are introducing an examination that will intrude into the teaching programme. Whatever may be said about the formulated test of the Australian Council of Educational Research, I am sure it will bc an intrusion into the educational programme. A written examination will place undue emphasis on the limited qualities that are measurable by examination. The examination will be used as a means of assessing attainment at that stage and as a predictor of future prowess.
Who can say that the A.C.E.R. test that will be introduced in Victoria will be a reliable and valid predictor of success in the last two years of schooling? The examination has not been validated. It has not been, tried on any sample group, although this is the usual way of test construction. The A.C.E.R. would certainly know that it sample should be taken and that the test should be tried on the sample to determine whether it is a reliable predictor of those who are best suited to undertake the last two years of that or any other kind of study. But no validation of this test nas been made. Surely it is obvious to anybody that, if this kind of test is to be used to measure mainly a miscellaneous conglomeration of facts not particularly related to any discipline or any programme of study, it will give added opportunity to those students who come from wealthier homes and whose parents arc able to provide encyclopaedias, text books, reference books and the like. Surely it must be obvious to anybody that such an environment must give added opportunity and added advantage to the students who have that background.
The view of the Labour Party is that the approach should be perhaps not just the opposite but at least somewhat different. I would imagine that what we would do, and what we ought to do, is to give some help to students who have persisted with their secondary schooling to this stage, despite any disadvantages in their home environment, so that they can go on to a fruition of their educational endeavours. We should not say to them: “Your attainments at fourth year are only mediocre. Therefore, you will have to struggle on yourself to fifth ami sixth years.” That is not our approach. We think that, if there is to be any selection, the students who have persisted in face of obstacles, though their attainments may be only mediocre, should be the ones to receive scholarships. Preferably, I would like the scholarships to be given to those who persist in face of obstacles and who are determined to complete the fifth and sixth years of their secondary schooling.
Three educationalists from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics visited this Parliament today, and I had an opportunity of questioning them about a few aspects of their own system. They told me quite unexcitedly and quite factually that in the U.S.S.R. all secondary schooling is free. In fact schooling at all levels is free. This includes books and everything else associated with education. What is more - and I do not know how valuable the amount is - all students or the parents of all students receive an allowance to maintain them while they are attending school whether it is a secondary school, a technical school, a university or any other kind of educational institution. This must be our aspiration - to give every opportunity to all people capable of taking a course of study, not just to those who have the most advantage or even those with the most ability and intellect. This country can ill afford to lose any of its talent. We have not the quantity so we must use whatever quality we have. We must locate it and cultivate it. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has been appealing to the trade unions to allow adults to go back and receive technical education. Why not give the education when they are youngsters at the time of their lives when they are best able to cope with a course of study? The present programme of the Commonwealth Government will merely promote undesirable competitiveness, not only among students themselves, but also amongst parents. I think every honorable member is only too well aware of the ill feeling caused by people who boast that their child received a scholarship while somebody else’s child did not. I suppose we must acknowledge that we live in a competitive society, but there is no need to make it more competitive in this way and especially at this stage of people’s lives.
There is one aspect of the Commonwealth secondary school scholarship scheme that has not been looked at sufficiently closely. The Commonwealth has not concerned itself with the effects of the scheme on the secondary school system itself. It has given £5 million. for science education in State and non-State schools, and it has announced its plan for secondary school scholarships, but it has not fully considered what this will mean. Nobody has ventured to think about the need for instance for more and better qualified teachers if the scheme means that more children will be kept on in the fifth and sixth years of secondary school courses.
A report by the New South Wales Teachers Federation tells us that fewer than half of the 10,000 secondary school teachers in New South Wales State schools have university degrees or diplomas. Nobody has suggested what will be done to meet the teaching requirements of the people who will go on to the last two years of secondary schooling. Nobody has said how the extra classrooms will be provided or the improved facilities, reference books, libraries and so on. If the Government is really serious in wanting to provide further secondary education for a larger section of our population, then it should be thinking about these matters as well as about helping students to stay at school. But the Commonwealth’s failure to consider these matters adequately is typical of its whole attitude to primary, secondary and technical education.
All the State Education Ministers, who comprise the Australian Education Council, have made an appeal to the Commonwealth Government along certain lines. All the States - not just New South Wales and Victoria, but all the other States as well - have compiled and documented evidence concerning the shortage of school buildings and adequately trained teachers, the lack of equipment of various kinds, and what is required to remedy- the situation. I think the honorable member for Evans referred to the Council’s estimate that to attain a proper standard of school facilities increased capital expenditure of £98 million will be needed over the next four years. This is required, not to bring the system up to the Rolls-Royce stage, but merely to the standard that prevails in most other modern countries.
In England every teacher has to be trained for at least three years. Little New Zealand, with its limited resources, is bringing in a basic minimum requirement of three years’ teacher training, either next year or the year after. The New Zealand Government has carried out its survey and is making its plans in this connection. In Australia, a vast number of teachers has had only two years’ training, and many of them will be endeavouring to the best of their limited ability and training to teach science and mathematics to fifth and sixth year students. There are plenty of schools at the present time that have not a graduate science teacher or a graduate mathematics teacher for the fifth and sixth years of secondary schooling. These are all urgent matters. They should not be matters that come up in this Parliament regularly year after year. This story has been told ad nauseam,, at least as far as I am concerned, for ten years or more. It was being told long before I came here and has been told every year since I came.
So far, I have referred only to the teaching requirements and the requirements of capital equipment. As far as science is concerned, what good will £5 million, spread over the whole of the State and non-State school system in Australia, do for science education? However, this is a matter that we have canvassed previously and I do not want to canvass it again. But there is one important point that I do want to make concerning these Commonwealth secondary school scholarships. Students will select the subjects in the curriculum in which they think they will get the highest passes because they will be competing for these scarce scholarships. Advice in this respect was given to a person very close to home the other day. lt was said of his son: He is capable of getting a scholarship if he is careful in his selection of subjects to study. It is obvious that students who are in the fourth year next year will make a careful selection of subjects so that they will have a better chance of obtaining the scholarships that will be available as from the following year. This could be a distortion of their true educational interests. When the Government makes a simple administrative decision to allocate 10,000 Commonwealth scholarships on the basis of a common examination, does it think of the implications of that decision? Everybody knows the haste with which these proposals were brought in during the last election campaign. The Commonwealth could not have given any consideration, let alone serious consideration, to the possible consequences.
Let me turn to the accepted responsibility of the Commonwealth with regard to the Commonwealth scholarships that have been granted for a number of years. Ninety per cent, of these Commonwealth scholarships will be tenable at our universities. This year about 30,000 Australians will sit for leaving certificate or matriculation examinations. At least 25,000 of those will be applicants for Commonwealth scholarships to enable them to go to universities or higher technical institutions. How many scholarships will bc available for the 25,000 hopeful young Australians? There will be 5,000 open entrance scholarships. In other words, only one in five can hope to get a scholarship. Are we really genuine and sincere in our advocacy of more training and of the acquiring of greater skill for the development of our country?
The position has even been deteriorating in recent years. At best, as I have said, no more than 21 per cent, of our students will get these scholarships. In 1958, 25.6 per cent, of students got them, in 1961 the proportion was 22.3 per cent, and in 1962 it was 21.9 per cent. We are going back instead of forward. I hope that matters such as these will be discussed in the immediate future. I hope that before long we will have before us the report of this inquiry into the future of tertiary education in Australia and I hope that the Government will be quite bold in implementing what must surely be very well thought out proposals after the subject has been examined for three years.
.- I commend to the Committee, the Government and the Australian public the speech just made by my colleague, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), and the one that he made earlier this afternoon on this vital matter of education. Needless to say, on this side of the House we have our spokesmen on many subjects. I would sooner leave it to our spokesmen-
– For what are you the spokesman?
– I do not limit myself. There is no need for me to repeat the arguments which were presented so excellently by the honorable member for Barton. He has put a tremendous amount of work into this matter. We all have our hobbies. Some things interest us more than do others. In my opinion, the important thing is for us to give all that we have to those things that interest us. The honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) also has given a great deal of thought to education.
This is strictly not a political subject, but because of the procrastination and indecisiveness of the Government on education, much against my wish it has had to become a political subject. It should not be a political football.
– Then stop kicking.
– The Minister for External Affairs, who is sitting on the front bench and grinning, once - I emphasise that word - showed a great interest in education. But I have not heard him make a speech on the subject in the last five or six years. That is not very good. He has gone through a university and has benefited from the education standards of his day, although bis education may have stopped in recent years. I should like to have heard him speak in this debate. What does he think of his Government’s approach to education? I should like to hear what he thinks.
All we hear is the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), from time to time in education debates, giving the Government’s views. He receives very little support from his own side. Any support that is given to him comes from the back bench and not from the front bench. I hope he has not muzzled the front benchers and stopped them speaking on subjects such as education. Sometimes I feel that he has done that. I want now to refer to an entirely different subject, just to show my versatility.
– Can you not make a contribution on education before you go on? You have just told us that it is very important.
– I have already made a contribution. I will leave it to those who can make a better contribution than 1 can. I am very modest about my ability to make a contribution on education. The subject on which I want to speak concerns a very small section of the Australian people. But because they are a small section, they should not be neglected by the Parliament. I refer to our musical composers. Some time ago - in fact, in April of this year - I raised this matter in an adjournment debate. I made an appeal to the Government to create a Commonwealth music fund along exactly the same lines as the Commonwealth Literary Fund, in order to encourage our musical composers in the same way as the Government at present encourages our writers.
– Members of the Government are not interested in music.
– They have not contributed much to the harmony of this place, anyway.
– They have been out of tune for a long time.
– Yes, they have. In Australia there is an organisation known as the Fellowship of Australian Composers. It has sponsored a move for the creation of a Commonwealth music fund. The secretary of the organisation is Mr. George English of Sydney, who is very well known in the musical world. This organisation is worthy of consideration by the Government. I am suggesting at this stage that a Commonwealth music fund be created with a grant of £15,000 in the first year and also perhaps in the second year, and that the grant be gradually increased as the fund develops and as more and more musical composers come forward for assistance. That is my practical suggestion.
This organisation has already approached the Prime Minister- not yesterday, not last month, not last year, but two and a half years ago. lt still has not received a satisfactory reply from him. I thought he was a connoisseur of the arts. I doubt that now. The first submission was made to him in March 1962. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) supported the original submission to the Prime Minister. That is a pretty good combination - a Liberal man and a Labour man. You cannot get a better combination than that. It indicates the nonpartisan attitude to the move for a music fund. That attitude still exists. We support the creation of a Commonwealth music fund, and several music lovers on the other side of the chamber also support it. All that is needed now is for the Prime Minister to make up his mind. The move has been supported by all the musical people in the Commonwealth, including the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the directors of the conservatoriums and other people interested in the composition of music as distinct from listening to or playing music.
We members of the Parliament may never be able to compose music; but we could be responsible for creating a fund as a result of which in the future many musical men and women could write music with the assistance of the Commonwealth. By passing an Act of Parliament all of us could, in effect, take part in the future composition of music throughout Australia. I should imagine that such music would be unlike that composed by the Beatles who can compose music in the back of a bus while they are going from a railway station to a theatre. They can compose music in the most amazing circumstances and more quickly than anyone else of whom I have ever heard. It is a special type of music which is known as Beatle music. I am very interested in it. I have a photograph of the Beatles on top of a filing cabinet in my office in Launceston. They are quite fantastic composers of Beatle music, as distinct from classical music.
– Who is your favourite Beatles - Paul or Ringo?
– Order! I should like to know what this has to do with the Prime Minister’s Department.
– It has a lot to do with the Prime Minister’s Department, because I am asking that Department to create a fund similar to those mentioned on page 68 of the Second Schedule to the Appropriation Bill. I do not know what you know about music, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I ask you to listen to this : The Prime Minister’s Department makes grants in aid to the Australian Academy of Science, the Social Science Research Council of Australia, the Royal Australian Historical Society, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, the Tasmanian Historical Research Association - of which I am proud to be a member - the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, the Australian Humanities Research Council, the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, the Surf Life Saving Association and other life saving societies, the Boy Scouts Association, the Girl Guides Association and the National Youth Council of Australia and maintains the Commonwealth Literary Fund. If you read your copy of the Estimates, Mr. Chairman, you will see that all these matters are dealt with by the Prime Minister’s Department. I am asking for a new item, a grant for a new fund to be called the “ Australian Music Fund “. I hope that after that explanation you will permit me to continue.
In reply to representations by the Fellowship of Australian Composers for a music fund, on 18th September 1962 the Prime Minister said that he was not in a position at that time to offer any specialised assistance in the field of musical composition. His reason was that assistance to the various art forms should continue to be channelled through the existing organisations which, in the main, were the Commonwealth Literary Fund, the Art Advisory Board, the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust The Prime Minister pushed the proposal right out of the arena in making that statement, because Mr. English has explained in a communication to me that none of these organisations or bodies is responsible for helping the creative musicians in this country. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister tried to push this proposal aside by saying that assistance in the field of musical composition is catered for. It is not catered for by any of these organisations.
I have looked at the Estimates and have found that the Commonwealth Literary Fund this year will receive £33,000, which is an increase of £4,000 on last year. The Elizabethan Theatre Trust will receive £200,000, which is the same amount as it was granted last year. The grants to the Commonwealth Literary Fund and to the Elizabethan Theatre Trust have each been increased during the last three years. In fact, the grant to the Commonwealth Literary Fund has risen from £25,000 to £33,000, and the grant to the Elizabethan Theatre Trust has risen from £75,000 in 1962-63 to £200,000 this year. If Federal money can be given to those two very worthy groups, I believe that we have a case for a grant of at least £15,000 a year to start a Commonwealth music fund. I am glad to have the support of all the music lovers on this side of the Chamber; I shall call on them to sing to finish up the 15 minutes allotted to me as they seem so vociferous in trying to help mc make this speech.
I feel that the creation of a music fund would be a tremendous encouragement and stimulus to the young composers in Australia. Honorable members know that television is bringing more and more American music into Australian homes and lives. We must do something to counter the influence on our young people of foreign television.
In what better way can we encourage the composition of distinctive Australian music than through a music fund, which would provide encouragement to Australians to compose music for television productions. We talk about providing assistance for Australian artists and actors, but why is there no assistance for Australian musicians and composers? These people must compose the music before the music can be sung on stage.
– That is not necessary.
– The Minister for Air says that that is not necessary. Perhaps if the Minister were singing in the bath it would not be necessary to have music composed beforehand; I am sure that he would be capable of singing a solo unaccompanied. However, I am thinking of serious things. I feel that the Government should give serious consideration to my appeal on behalf of a very worthy organisation, the Fellowship of Australian Composers. This would be a practical way of countering the insidious influence of the American music that we hear night after night from our television sets. Why can we not become a little more distinctively Australian and have more Australian music composed by Australians? We have the men to do it. We can do anything in Australia. There is no country that can out-think us, out-genera] us, out-plan us or out-invent us. There is nothing that we cannot do in Australia if only we are given the chance and the encouragement from the top. The top provides the leadership, and the leadership comes from the Parliament. May we have the honour soon to vote for a new bill which will create an Australian music fund?
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Chairman, thus far in this debate wc have been discussing the appropriations for the Prime Minister’s Department and we have been dealing with education. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in particular has been increasingly assuming a leadership in education which is second to none in the history of Australia. In recent times we have seen the effect of his leadership extending beyond the tertiary sphere where it began, not because of constitutional provisions in particular but because of the broad umbrella of Section 96 of the Constitution which allowed the Commonwealth to come under emergency conditions, as I have already stated in this debate, to the aid of Australian universities which were sick and ailing. The history of the resurrection of tertiary education in Australia is a glorious one. We know how the Mills Committee, the Murray Committee and the Australian Universities Commission have gone about re-establishing the standards, the influence, and the credit of our Australian universities. Nobody who is aware of the changes that have taken place - not only in the terms of money spent but in the morale and the post-graduate work in research that is taking place and the value of the contributions our universities are making in the field of primary and pure knowledge - can be anything but proud that our country has been so led by our Prime Minister. So when one hears exaggerations such as those to the effect that we are going backwards, not forwards, amidst the very worthwhile comments made by honorable members opposite on the subject of education, then one has to query the motives behind them. Perhaps the comments refer specifically to secondary education but even in that field I hope to show that we are not going back. I appreciate very much the spirit and the standard of the debate evinced in this regard by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and, in passing, the comments of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). But let us examine some of the points made by the honorable member for Barton in his argument. He has decried the evil’s, as he sees them, of the examination system before in this chamber. No one is more sympathetic to the positive arguments in this field than I am myself. I am aware of the way in which, for instance, some students are being made the victims of a kind of pressure cooking process in being coached for examinations. This has little to do with true education. It is the type of thing which produces an automatic kind of response. By that I mean that one pushes button A as it were with a particular kind of question and then out pops answer “ B “. The child concerned gives the answer, but has very little understanding. So the examination is faced and sometimes passed. I am well aware of these criticisms and I realise, too, the validity of the comment of the honorable member for Barton that in a sense the teaching methods and the subjects taught in schools are very often determined by the need to pass and be successful in examinations. But I know, too, that these are the negative sides of the question and that it is the duty of the Opposition to present them. Nevertheless, there is the inescapable fact that there is no known alternative to the examination system in some form or other, particularly in determining grades and at the termination of a course of education. For instance, I wonder if we would hear even the honorable member for Barton suggesting that the matriculation examination as such should be abolished prior to a student’s entering university and whether he would do away with final examinations, for instance, at the degree level. I understand very well that there are problems but, nevertheless it is impossible to escape the fact that until some better, wider and more practicable system becomes know the system cannot be altered. With a very small number of students it may be possible to have a close, almost family grouping and to select more accurately and diagnose more proficiently. But we are dealing with great numbers of students - enormous numbers - increasing numbers - and the only fair and equitable way in which the Government can share out money for scholarships and for living allowances is for all students to face roughly the same type and the same standard of examination. Out of this test the selection can then be made.
The alternative to this scheme put forward by Opposition members is: Why have this kind of education at all? Why not make scholarships available to everybody? We on the Government side have heard this suggestion before. It is easy to put it forward when in Opposition and to suggest that limitless amounts of money should be made available for every project; that the means test should be done away with entirely; and that the gates should be opened to the pension fund and the fund for scholarships. But in prudent housekeeping it is necessary to have some regard to fairness when distributing money. When we consider the questions of doing away altogether with examinations, doing away with gradings and the parcelling out of money for bursaries, let us also consider the situation which would emerge following adoption of such a course. There would be no further sense of competition and, in many situations, competition is a good thing. There would be no incentive for students to enter into hard, close study periods and to prepare for a particular period in their courses. Students would adopt the attitude: What does it matter? There will be a handout at the end anyway. We might, perhaps, recognise this socialist approach to the education system, but we do not agree with it. If we did away with examinations I imagine that this country would be intellectually and morally poorer if such scrutiny and incentive were removed.
If we consider the question of comparing the situation of tertiary education with secondary education then we must focus our minds once more on the tremendous growth in the number of children and students in all levels of education. This is the crux of the matter. We know that the Premiers and education authorities in each State combined to make a statement setting out some needs of Australian education. 1 have already referred to this document, which was brought up to date as late as 1963 and to the two-pronged kind of demand which lies behind it. More money from the Commonwealth and a great searching inquiry to be set up to investigate the situation. But let us turn from those matters with which I have dealt in a previous speech and let us look at some of the things which are positively happening to provide the very things which the States have said are necessary. For instance, primary and secondary education is still jealously guarded as the preserve and responsibility of the State Governments. It is for the States to decide how much of their resources they will devote to education and how much to other avenues of expenditure.
This situation will continue while the Constitution remains unaltered. Therefore, Commonwealth money for primary and secondary education would not necessarily achieve the end for which it is sought. If the Commonwealth provided money for education in these spheres then the States could reduce their contribution to education by the amount of the Commonwealth grant and use it in some other avenue. Even if the States did not do this and it was a condition of the grant that there be no diminution in the contribution by the States for primary and secondary education, the States could decline to apportion as much money as previously by not allowing for the growth in education demands. There is no safeguard and no positive proof that such a contribution of Commonwealth funds would in fact lead to a net increase in the amount spent on education. If the kind of experience that the Commonwealth has had in social services with respect to specific matters such as pensioners in mental institutions and for long term patients with chronic illnesses is to be taken as a precedent, there are good grounds for suspicion about what could happen at the State level.
Nevertheless, the Commonwealth has acted in two ways. In the case of specific fields, such as capital grants required for building and equipping technical schools, and capital sums required for building and equipping science teaching laboratories this danger can be minimised when the field is so designated by the Commonwealth and we all know what is being done. But it is worth noting that, in spite of these considerations that I have mentioned, the Commonwealth is also making a significant contribution to the meeting of the needs of primary and secondary education as set out by the Ministers in charge of education in the various States in the document, “ Some Needs of Australian Education “.
In round terms, that statement of the needs of Australian education declares that, over the next four years, £98 million will have to be expended to bring buildings, equipment and the like to the standards required. The building and equipping of technical schools is said to require capital expenditure of £30 million over the next four years, and there are other requirements for the addition and equipment of science teaching: rooms. For these purposes, the Commonwealth will, over the four year period designated, provide by way of special grants for technical schools and science teaching facilities approximately £34 million, or considerably more than onethird of the total amount said to be needed.
It is also surely reasonable to expect that the States, from rising revenues, could add several million pounds a year to the previous combined votes of £40 million a year for capital purposes, in order to help towards the provision of the rest of the requirements. The States have been provided by the Commonwealth with increased revenues that have enabled them to devote to education in 1960-61 £130 million, which is £18 million more than was spent in 1958-59, and their revenues continue to rise. Furthermore, one of the fields of endeavour that is said to require part of the additional capital expenditure of £98 million over the next four years is the vital field of teacher training. No-one can overstate the need for more and better equipped teachers. Only 4.7 per cent, of the science teachers in New South Wales secondary schools have a university degree of any kind in science. This indicates the tremendous magnitude of the problem and the great need. Money alone will not provide the solution to the problem. It is said that £10 million will be required for this purpose over the next four years. This matter is now reaching the stage of financial consideration, for it is a part of the report of the Committee on the future of Tertiary Education which is now in the hands of the Cabinet. It will be for the Government, after consideration of that report, to decide what to do.
I shall sum up in the two minutes that I have left. The report entitled “Some Needs of Australian Education “, which has been issued in the names of the various State Ministers, shows that capital expenditure of £98 million will be needed over the next four years. It claims that this expenditure will completely eliminate what are said to be the major defects of our present systems of primary and secondary education. Whether some of the things claimed to be defects are so in fact is open to argument. Of this amount, the Commonwealth is now providing sums that will aggregate £34 million over the four years - and this in a field that is entirely the province of the States. The States themselves have sufficiently increased revenues to enable them to provide annually during the next four years at least some £20 million more than previously. Expenditure of £10 million over the next four years is required for purposes which are the subject of the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education. If we leave that sum out of our calculations, we find that £44 million out of the £98 million that is claimed to be required over the next four years will be provided for the purposes that I have mentioned. This is not going backwards.
The honorable member for Barton said that the present Commonwealth Govern ment had been panicked by Labour’s bold education proposals into making rash promises during the last Federal general election campaign. AH I can say is that Labour’s promises were indeed bowled. Honorable members will note that, though the word is pronounced in the same way, I spell it differently from the way in which the honorable member for Barton spelt it.
– I wish to make a plea for a more flexible attitude towards the release of archival documents, particularly Cabinet papers, to historians and scholars. I want a system different from that which obtains at present. We have inherited from Great Britain a system based on a 50 year rule, under which no papers are made available until 50 years after the event. As leader of the Opposition, I am sometimes asked by historians and others for permission to peruse documents relating to previous Labour Governments. I always give that permission. I readily give permission for scholars to examine the records and minutes of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which have been kept from the very first day on which our parliamentary party met. These records are invaluable as sources of information about the early history of this country. A scholar anywhere in Australia can always obtain permission to peruse those records if he asks me for it. I believe the prevailing principle should always be that people shall be able to find out what has happened in the past so that, in the words of a former Prime Minister, James Henry Scullin, “from out the past we glimpse the future “.
It is utterly ridiculous, Sir, that all the Cabinet papers relating to World War I, for example, are still not freely available. These are part of our national history and should be available to those who wish to write that history. I happen to be a member of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Committee by virtue of my office. I have no academic qualifications, but, over the four years during which I have been a member of that Committee, I have enjoyed my association with the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton), until recently with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), and with all those other people who have been members of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Advisory Board. All of them are very distinguished people of letters and are doing much to help in the publication of Australian biography, poetry and prose. I hope that we shall get more money for this work. I know that all money that this Parliament votes for the purpose is very properly and very well spent.
I wish also to say something about the Prime Minister’s attitude towards education. He has had two attitudes - one positive and one negative - on almost every question of national importance that has arisen in the 30 years during which he has been a member of this Parliament. He is not content merely to box the compass. On one occasion, he said something that was the complete opposite of what he had said at another time. Speaking at a conference of the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of New South Wales on 15th August last, he said -
It is an excellent thing that education is in the hands of the States.
A move towards the centralised control for the process of education would be a move towards the philosophies of Marx and Engels.
I regard that as just so much nonsense, Sir. lt certainly stands out as nonsense when one compares it with what the right honorable gentleman wrote in an article published by the Melbourne “Herald” on 9th April 1943, That article was written at the invitation of the late Sir Keith Murdoch, and it was signed by the Prime Minister. So he cannot claim that he was misreported. He wrote -
I am a strong supporter of national control of education.
I emphasise the words “ national control “. The right honorable gentleman continued -
I would myself be quite prepared to adopt a constitutional system like that of South Africa, in which delegated powers are exercised by the States.
In other words, he would put the States, in relation to the Commonwealth, in much the same position as that in which local government is placed compared to State Governments. Powers could be given or taken away, but this Parliament would control national education. In 1943 he was not afraid of Marx and Engels, but in 1964, with a Senate election approaching, he again resurrects this particular cry. That is not honest politics. I believe in national control of education, although we have not said that exactly in our platform or policy. However, I believe that if we could relieve the States of the burden of education and the burden of railway systems all the States would be able to function much better than they can today. These are their two losing enterprises, but they do not want to give them away.
The provision for the Prime Minister’s Department contains several items dealing with education. One of these provides £5,000,000 for secondary science blocks and technical schools. Another provides for £1,500,000 for secondary school scholarships. It has become reasonably clear to all sections of the community that the £5 million grant for science education was one of the most hastily conceived ideas ever put into ‘legislative form. Whatever it may have yielded to the Government in the way of electoral returns, I suggest it will do very little to advance in any rational, methodical way, the cause of scientific education in this country. We are in the midst of a scientific and technological age. The haste with which the proposal was conceived on the eve of the last election is revealed by the inept way the Government subsequently tried to implement it. As a result, the religious bodies administering their own secondary schools were thrown into confusion and, in certain cases, much unnecessary bitterness has been engendered.
We still await some coherent statement about the principles on which this proposal is supposed to be based. We still do not know whether the grants made under the States Grants (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Act, and provided for in these Estimates, is a recurring grant or not. The Act does not provide for an automatic annual grant. The Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) said in another place that the legislation would be re-enacted when necessary. But upon what principle is “ necessity “ to be determined? Will it become necessary to re-enact the legislation when the money provided under the existing Act runs out? Does “ necessary “ mean when the Government decides? Is “ necessity “ to be related to the real needs of science education in Australia, or is it to be a piecemeal doling out of funds, preventing all attempts at longrange planning by the schools be they State or private or those who administer them? Or, will the Act be re-enacted at a strategic time before the next House of Representatives election in another attempt to convince people that this Government is really interested in doing something for education? We do not know, and I suggest that with one exception nobody on the Government side knows either. The one exception is the Prime Minister himself, and he knows, for the simple reason that the legislation has little to do with science, little to do with education, little to do with the needs of our children or the needs of society, but has everything to do with the electoral plans of the Liberal Party.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in the course of his Budget Speech said that only two election promises remained unhonoured by the Government - the petrol price equalisation plan - and we heard again about that at question time yesterday - and the housing insurance corporation about which we have heard nothing. The Government says it has run into administrative difficulties in regard to these matters. The Treasurer, of course, glossed over the fact that no secondary school scholarships were awarded this year, though this provision was implicit in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. The Opposition regrets greatly that it will not be necessary to put this scholarship proposal into legislative form, because it will not be debated at length. There should be a debate on this proposal in order to expose its anti-social and regressive nature.
What does the Government propose? The Government will award 10,000 scholarships among 200,000 students eligible for them in the last two years of their studies. Ten thousand scholarships will be awarded among over 700,000 students at secondary schools. Thus, one in 20 of those eligible will have a chance of winning a scholarship, and one in 70 of the secondary school population will be covered by this scheme. Has the Government any idea what the scheme is going to mean in terms of the happiness and real scholastic progress of our children? It is a scheme which will inaugurate an era of savage competition in our schools, and this will make life miserable for parents and children alike. What will this competition strive to test? It will be a test of the pupil’s ability to pass examinations and nothing more.
– Under pressure.
– Indeed, under terrific pressure that will destroy the happiness of home life for a number of weeks before the examinations are held. I defy the Government to produce one educationist, one teacher or one thoughtful parent who regards highly competitive examinations of this sort as a real contribution to education or a genuine test of the child’s ability, whatever that might be. If it were the Government’s deliberate intention to produce a generation of neurotics it could not have done better than to provide a scholarship scheme of this sort. This proposal will do nothing to assist the great mass of children receiving a secondary school education. By very definition it will do absolutely nothing for the average child, because the average child will not win a scholarship. The few who will be helped financially will, in the main, come from families who stand least in need of such assistance. This is a matter of observable and scientifically observed fact.
– The PostmasterGeneral might contemplate the fact that it is well known that because of social, cultural, environmental and economic factors, children of families in the higher income brackets do better at school than children of the same basic intelligence but who come from less fortunate homes. This means that there is an enormous wastage of available talent at all levels of education. For instance, research by the University of Melbourne has shown that 60 per cent. of families in the lower income groups provide only 13 per cent. of the university students. Therefore, the object of a sound scholarship scheme should be to assist the disadvantaged majority rather than to confer further advantages on the privileged minority.
It is clear that this proposal rests on the principle of creating an elite. Socially and economically it is terribly unjust; educationally it is terribly unwise. The only scholarship scheme worth considering in a humane, progressive society is that put forward by the Labour Party - a scheme in which every Australian child, irrespective of his school, would be eligible.
We would grant scholarships without discrimination to every child who could qualify at a base level.
– Other countries do it.
– Of course other countries do it, but in this benighted age in this benighted country we give it only to those who are socially able to provide their own education anyhow. Our proposal would cover every secondary school child able to reach the minimum standards applying in his or her State, in every year of his or her secondary school education without discrimination of any sort. The Prime Minister may be called “ the Father of the Year “, but I predict that a generation of Australian children will come to deplore this inadequate, unjust and ill-conceived scholarship scheme. Our proposal in our policy speech at the last election would have cost much more than the Government’s scheme will cost, but it would have done justice to every child capable of being educated. If Australia needs one thing more than anything else today it needs a highly educated democracy. An educated democracy is a powerful democracy. Without education we cannot do the work that this country needs at the present time.
.- I am sure honorable members were most interested in the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I was under the impression, as were most other people, that the elections were held last November and are not being held here tonight. One could detect a note of unhappiness in the Leader of the Opposition. We can understand that. It was hardly flattering to his colleagues for the honorable gentleman to say that the Government’s policy on education is designed only for the elite and certain other classes in the community because otherwise how could those who sit behind him have obtained the brilliance that is purveyed to us every day in this place.
The honorable gentleman said that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had made a statement in 1943. Obviously it was possible that the Prime Minister may have made a statement. I admit that the Prime Minister’s work has improved. There is no doubt about that. Would the Leader of the Opposition himself like to have some of the gems of wisdom that poured forth so volubly from him in those days quoted now and would he like to be told that he could never change his mind?
– Order! I must warn the honorable member for Newcastle to cease interjecting.
– Six, I think the honorable member is a perfect example of what the Leader of the Opposition thinks could happen and I think it was more likely medical than scholastic. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Prime Minister had made a speech about centralisation of education and he said that centralisation would tend towards Marxism and Leninism. The Leader of the Opposition said this is absurd. We know that the Leader of the Opposition does not completely agree with Marxism and Leninism but we know that the Labour Party wants unification. We know that in every act that comes before this Parliament the Labour Party does its utmost to cub out the rights of the States. We know that the Labour Party wants basically centralised education and centralised everything so that power is put in one hand. If this were to happen in my opinion it would be to the detriment of the country. I am glad to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the Prime Minister.
Reference has been made tonight to the request that the Commonwealth put into operation an inquiry into education. It always amazes me that the States, which have all the material available to them in their own educational systems, which have all the experts in their departments and which have been conducting education for years, cannot hold a full inquiry into education in Australia. There is no doubt that the Commonwealth, as the taxing power, should be represented on such a Committee and could bring forward some result. Victoria is spending, I believe, 27s. 6d. per capita on teacher training and New South Wales is spending something like 15s. If the Commonwealth recommended that New South Wales spend more would it be likely to accept that recommendation? I can imagine the remarks the Premier of New South Wales would make.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), this afternoon made some statements which I think should be corrected.
Mc raised two matters in the course of the debate that are worth some comment. These referred to the alleged undue delay in presentation of the report of the Martin Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia and the alleged failure of the Government to honour its undertaking to bring into effect a scheme of technical scholarships. We understand the mentality of the honorable member for Barton. He states: “ I have only to whip down to my office and T can write within 15 minutes an educational programme for every section of the community “. I can imagine the report that he would produce. 1 think he is better off here where he is harmless than doing harm in the educational field in New South Wales.
The Martin Committee was appointed to consider the pattern of tertiary education in relation to the needs and resources of Australia and to make recommendations to the Australian Universities Commission on the future development of tertiary education. The Committee was asked to go thoroughly into the matter - to investigate all of the ramifications of tertiary education. The Committee was not to be controlled by the Government. It was not to be given a target date for the presentation of its report, but it was to bring forward a report for the consideration of the Government.
It is true that the Committee has taken considerably longer to present its report than had been hoped and that the Prime Minister announced in May 1963 that the Government expected to receive the report by the end of last year. Does the honorable member for Barton suggest that we should tell the Committee to submit its report, irrespective of whether it is ready? It is this sort of thing that honorable members opposite have been complaining about all night. The Government asked this Committee, the members of which are expert in education, to bring forward a report and it is nothing more than clap trap for members of the Opposition to say that last year has passed and still no report has been forthcoming. We all regret that the report has not been presented but when it is presented we hope that it will be a better report than it would have been had it been presented prematurely. The members of the
Committee have devoted a tremendous amount of time to this matter and it would have been wholly incorrect for the Government to put pressure on them to skimp their work. Anyone who asserts that a task of this magnitude should bc accomplished in three months instead of three years is obviously unaware of the complexities of the subject and prefers quick solutions to properly thought out answers. In any case, the simple fact is that the Government, having appointed this body of highly qualified men, has had to wait until they completed their massive investigations and thoroughtly considered their conclusions before they are ready to present their report. This is reasonable. 1 do not think anybody will disagree with that. There may be a possibility that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) may disagree with me, but we can understand why. The report is in the hands of the printers but naturally, even after its receipt, it will be some considerable time before the Government cun examine it and take into account its conclusions and recommendations.
The Government acts on behalf of the people, lt spends the people’s money. The Opposition makes its suggestions knowing that it has no say in how the people’s money is spent. It acts very differently when it is in government.
Coming to the matter of technical scholarships, it is true that arrangements for these are not as far advanced as are arrangements for the secondary scholarships. The secondary scholarships scheme is so far advanced that in four of the six States examinations will have been held within the next month and, indeed, a double issue of scholarships will be made at the beginning of next year in all States except New South Wales. I am sure that the honorable member for Barton could spend some hours - we would be glad to listen to him - dealing with the inadequacies of the system of education in New South Wales where, because of the transitional arrangements under the Wyndham scheme, only one year’s scholarships can be given in 1965. It is also true that the Government has been waiting for the receipt of the Martin Committee report before making final decisions concerning the method of awarding technical scholarships. Some weeks ago, however, the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in educational matters, Senator Gorton, invited State Ministers of Education to put up proposals for the award of these scholarships in 1965 on the understanding that arrangements entered into at this stage may be altered in the light of the Martin Committee report. That is quite reasonable. The report has to be submitted. There may be amendments to it, but in the meantime we are discussing it as best we can with the State Ministers for Education and with the Premiers. We speak for the States; the Opposition does not. State technical education systems are in fact very complex and differ considerably in approach. There is no doubt about that.
Let us take one example. Victorian educational theory tends to prefer full time attendance at technical colleges followed by experience on the job, while in New South Wales and several other States preference is for the technical student to combine part time attendance at technical colleges with work on the job. The States have the right to adopt this system. Do you people object to it, because I do not hear you in New South Wales saying more than “ Aye, aye “ at every opportunity.
However, the Commonwealth Government has every intention of respecting the integrity of the State education systems and would not attempt to impose a uniform system on all States which did not meet their needs. Do honorable members opposite disagree with that? I have no idea. There is no question, however, that technical scholarships will not be awarded in 1965. I hope this can seep through to the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). I hope he has not closed his ears to what I am saying, and that these technical scholarships will be tailored to meet the needs of students in the individual States. That is only right and proper. Surely there is no objection to that. The needs of industry and of the students who are being prepared for their places in the industrial world will be taken fully into account. State Ministers have taken full advantage of the chance to make suggestions, and have expressed appreciation of the Commonwealth’s offer. Even the Minister for Education in New
South Wales has expressed appreciation; but possibly he does not see the honorable member for Barton- I do not know.
One other matter which has been raised in the debate is the alleged bias towards the wealthier or better class homes in the examination which is being prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research and which will be given in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. This created some blushes, I think, in some places. I resented it myself because I did not get much help. It is curious how an examination designed to avoid this very bias should be accused of suffering from it. Honorable members opposite have not come anywhere near the point. They have come in here with their arms spread wide, but they have never got to the point. This system is designed to avoid the very thing about which the honorable member for Barton complains.
Nevertheless, if the assertion that some examination should be devised which benefits the child whose parents have neglected him, and who have given him no stimulation, at the expense of the child from a home where the parents have done their full duty in training the child, it can only be said that this goes against the whole of the beliefs of our society. Or does it go against the beliefs of the Opposition’s society - this great welfare State which we are going to have and in which everybody will be equal? No examination can or should be devised which is going to benefit the child of bad and neglectful parents at the expense of the child of a good environment. I do not think anybody will disagree wilh that. But to equate a good environment with wealth and privilege is surely nonsense. When I look at the purity of face of some honorable members opposite I am sure it is not there as a result of wealth and advantage. Perhaps these things have come to them only recently - possibly since they have been in this place. There is no family which cannot afford to bring up children with a respect for hard work, truth and high moral values. The allegations concerning this examination appear to be a desperate attempt to find some points of attack, but the point chosen is obviously the very opposite of the truth.
– You are struggling.
– Let me say in reply to the honorable member for Barton that if 1 atc struggling I wish to goodness he would look as if he could fight.
.- The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) is really making a reputation for himself. He is going to turn out to be a very strong man. He is even following very independent lines in the councils of the Liberal Party. I should think that he is going to be a real radical. One has only to think of the pride with which he referred to himself in parenthesis in the course of his speech to realise just what a magnificent character he really thinks he is. I do not think either he or any of the other gentlemen on the Government side of the House who seemed to be enjoying his jokes has any scope whatever on the basis of either education or performances in this House to reflect upon anybody on this side of the House or upon any member of the working class. I suggest that those honorable members who happen to be sitting opposite me now, with one or two exceptions, are exceedingly undistinguished, and I do not think it is fitting for them to show so much pleasure at the rantings of the gentleman whose head is getting a little too big for him.
– Do not let your doctorate go to your head.
– You can always go back and try to get one for yourself. You had a pretty good start, you know. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made a very good point which seems to have escaped those who have been commenting on this subject since. In the course of this debate, and in the course of many other debates, the honorable member for Barton has shown not only a very keen concern about education but also a very detailed knowledge of it. 1 think it would bc much more fitting if the honorable member for La Trobe met that gentleman’s arguments on their merits instead of reflecting upon him as a member of this House and a former teacher. If the honorable member for Barton is a little over keen about education it is because he was a teacher and because he realises the great importance of education.
If the Leader of the Opposition stresses, as he did stress, the importance of one’s economic and social background in deter mining whether one gets to a university, not only was be speaking about something which was within his own knowledge as a man who has come from a very low position in the community to a very high one, but what he said is borne out by statistics. He showed very clearly that the examination that has been introduced by the present Government for Commonwealth scholarships will not help the situation at all. I have the statistics before me. They are based on a survey of student families made by the Education Research Office of the University of Melbourne. Any honorable member opposite who cares to check what I am saying will find the figures in a small booklet published by the Australian Labour Party in Victoria a most valuable table.
– That makes it suspect.
– Of course, it would be suspect, even before you read it. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) is one of those gentlemen who are prepared to make innuendos without even bothering to examine the documents concerned. He is one of the gentlemen who sit behind the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) who spent a considerable amount of time yesterday saying that we should not convict or even suspect any high officer in the Navy in. the absence of adequate evidence. I agree with that principle, but I want to see it applied to everybody. I have no time for a Prime Minister who will defend high ranking officers in the Navy against the smearing technique when, he himself will apply it to other people, and when he is sitting in front of Ministers like the’ Postmaster-General who gave another excellent example of the technique just a moment ago.
The table from which I am about to quote was not prepared by the Australian Labour Party; it was merely published by the Australian Labour Party. It is based upon an independent survey made by the Education Research Office of the University of Melbourne. That survey disclosed that in 1960 professional, technical and related workers represented 7 per cent, of the total number of workers in the community while their children represented 27 per cent, of the students at universities. It shows also that administrative, executive and managerial workers represented 9 per cent. of the community and their children comprised 26 per cent, of the students at universities. As against that, workers in transport and communication occupations, craftsmen, production process workers and labourers not elsewhere classified, represented 52 per cent, of the community, but their children comprise 15 per cent, of students at the universities. So, taking the first two groups together, we find that whereas professional, technical, administrative, executive and managerial workers represent .16 per cent, of the community and their children comprise 53 per cent, of the students at universities, working class categories that I have mentioned represent 52 per cent, of the community and their children constitute only 15 per cent, of the students at universities.
– What were the numbers of children?
– The numbers confirm the percentage distribution.
– What arc the numbers?
– The numbers are here if the right honorable gentleman wishes to see them. I am not going to take the time now to say what they are because the percentages, being percentages, are proportionate to the numbers. I would have thought that, as the Minister is an accountant, he would have been aware of that, but apparently he is not.
The situation was quite clearly demonstrated by the Leader of the Opposition, who showed that these results are not the results of intelligence but are the results of an economic and social environment which can be changed only by very considerable economic and progressive reforms in the community as a whole. This can be helped materially by direct assistance to education where it is most needed. The case made by the Leader of the Opposition and unanswered by the honorable member for La Trobe is that assistance to education is now being channelled in the old pattern and in conformity with it. It has not changed the direction of the pattern or the way in which it is working. The proportions to which I have referred were for 1960 and are similar to the proportions of 20 or 30 years ago. That is the problem facing education in this country, and anything done over the past ten years by the present Government has not solved the problem created by this disproportion.
I want to refer now to statements that have been made and questions that have been answered in this chamber in respect of certain Yugoslav migrant organisations in Australia. This is not a matter of the nature of the so called Pavelic Fascist regime in Yugoslavia 20 years ago. It is not a question of whether there is a Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood in Australia led by the Ustashi in this country, capable of violence and actually having carried out violence. It is not a question of whether there is an extreme right wing Fascist organisation of this kind in Australia. The question here involves nothing less than the Menzies Government itself. The question here is whether this Government is prepared to shield and protect the most extreme Fascist type organisation that has ever existed in this country.
Honorable members will recall that this matter arose out of evidence submitted to the Parliament by myself and others as far back as September 1963. Certain events have occurred since then which have forced this matter to the attention of the Government. Included in the evidence was, first, that in Australia there was and still is an organisation or organisations of Croat migrants. Secondly, that they were dedicated followers of the wartime Pavelic NaziFascist puppet regime in Yugoslavia. Thirdly, that they were led in Australia by former members of the Ustashi or the S.S. type military unit responsible for what has been described as the genocide in Yugoslavia between 1941 and 1945. They recognised former top leaders of that movemeint who now live overseas and who in turn have appointed them to their positions in Australia. Fourthly, not only were these men dedicated followers of this Fascist movement, but in addition they used violence in Australia and were organising and training members to go overseas to carry on terrorist activities in Yugoslavia. It was not until yesterday in another place that a Minister of this Government was finally forced to admit the truth of this. He admitted that training had been taking place in Australia of these men to use force and terrorist activities.
Having established these facts, and they were facts, we went on to show, first, that members of the Liberal Party and even
Ministers of the Government had, knowingly or otherwise, associated with this Croatian movement in such a way that it derived confidence from that association in its campaign of instigating its members in the Australian community towards acts of violence in Yugoslavia and in this country. The attitude of supporters of the Government, even this evening when I first raised (his matter, is further evidence of their desire to side with this organisation, to shield it and to defend it. Members of the Liberal Party and even Ministers of the Government had concealed the truth about the Pavelic regime and about its supporters in Australia and had shielded them by making, and allowing to be made, attacks upon those w’ho were seeking to expose them.
Only the other week the Prime Minister made a statement in this Parliament in which he purported to deal with the history of this regime. He said -
Within the new Stale, the Croats sought, a federal concept of government with a large degree of local autonomy. In 1928, the leader of the Croats, Stjepan Radic of the Croatian Peasant Party, and two of his colleagues were assassinated in the Parliament in Belgrade. This precipitated a profound breach between Serbs and Croats. The Croats developed strong agitation in support of independence, Peasant Party leaders taking their cause to the League of Nations. Some Croat Parliamentary representatives were arrested; others, among them Dr. Ante Pavelic, went into exile.
This is the only reference that the right honorable gentleman makes to the history of this atrocious movement. I have never read, as a serious contribution by any responsible person, a more completely distorted version of history than the Prime Minister chose to give to the Parliament a couple of weeks ago. I hope to demonstrate later this evening, or perhaps on some other early occasion, just how completely distorted that picture of the history of that part of the world really was.
A few months ago it looked as though the Government had decided to make some changes in its attitude to this subversive Fascist organisation committed to violence, as I have just described. After many months of pushing aside the questions and
Statements that had been made in the Parliament, after an attempt by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) to make an allegation against me, Which he finally had to withdraw, in an attempt to divert atten tion away from the matter I was raising, after months of this kind of activity, I thought the Government was changing its attitude. Orders were given to have investigations carried out by the Commonwealth Investigation Service and the Prime Minister gave the impression that he was taking the matter seriously. Not only were investigations carried out by the Commonwealth Investigation Service; they were also carried out by the Security Service. From my own knowledge, I am aware that the Security Service knows a great deal more about this organisation than does the Commonwealth Investigation Service. But the answers given in the Parliament and the statements made are based alone on the investigations of the Commonwealth Investigation Service.
– What about the Victorian Police?
– They were also required to make an investigation. This, I thought, was a change in the attitude of the Government to the whole movement and I felt some confidence that, as a result of these investigations, the truth would be told. But I regret, after having looked at everything that has been said and the answers that have been given to questions as a result of these investigations, that the truth has not been told. The only conclusion one can reach is that the Government is quite distinctly continuing to shield, and identify itself in that way with, this movement. The questions that were answered were in fact an example of the double talk-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN)__
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– This may be an appropriate time for me to take my second period.
– As no other honorable member has risen, the honorable member has the right to continue.
.- Thank you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The answers that were given to questions by the Prime Minister were nothing better than an example of the double talk characterised by the late George Orwell. As proof of that,
I would like to refer honorable members to some of the answers given by the Prime Minister. First, in an answer to a question 1 asked him, he said that at the outbreak of the war and the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Germans, the Axis powers used for their own purpose the desire of Croatians to establish a Croatian state and assisted them in the establishment of such a state. This reply by the Prime Minister was nothing better than a euphemism for the establishment by Hider and Mussolini of the most extreme and the worst puppet regime that arose in Europe during the war. Having established this regime under Ante Pavelic, even Hitler and Mussolini then had to restrain this movement in its excesses, and on several occasions Italian forces were used to disarm sections of this Ustashi movement which was committing atrocities which even the Fascists and Nazis of that time would not stomach.
Then in answer to the fifth part of (he question the Prime Minister said -
Unvcrifiable figures place the total casualties, Croats, Serbs and others, incurred in this strife in the vicinity of 1,750,000 persons.
He used the term “ total casualties “ as though a war or famine had been in progress, us though the truth was nol that total genocide had been carried on by some of the bitterest racial fanatics that have ever inhabited this earth. I should think that the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs), who has had the advantage of a professional education, would show some decency and some willingness to consider arguments put forward, but I am afraid he has shown himself in this chamber to bc little better than a smart aleck who hardly justifies anyone’s attention when he makes contributions to our debates. 1 refer next to another quite deliberate avoidance by the Prime Minister of a very significant question. The right honorable gentleman had been asked by me whether any members of this movement of which I was speaking had in fact been allowed to make use of or had been in possession of a tank. His answer was -
No Croats wearing this emblem–
That is, the emblem of the Ustashi - have taken part in a C.M.F. military exercise, nor have they ever been in possession of a tank.
I have in my possession at the moment a photograph of a number of these men, wearing uniforms upon which this emblem appears, in possession of an Australian tank.
– It is not a tank.
– Aha! It is not a tank, it is a gun carrier.
– It is a personnel carrier.
– So in order to deceive this House the Prime Minister has been prepared to say that these men were never in possession of a tank because in fact what they were in possession of was an Australian gun carrier or personnel carrier. That is the kind of answer one gets in this Parliament from the right honorable gentleman who happens to be Prime Minister.
The Attorney-General told me that none of these Croat Fascists had ever taken part in a military exercise with Australian military forces. I have in my hand a photograph of a number of these people wearing the emblem of the Ustashi in an actual military exercise with other men wearing the uniforms of the Australian Military Forces. This, I take it, is satisfactory evidence that the honorable gentleman is deliberately deceiving and misleading this House. I have yet another photograph which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 7th September 1963, and the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson), who has been trying to interject, will find his answer in the fact that a large number of these Croat Fascists are shown wearing the emblems of the Ustashi, carrying automatic weapons and in possession of a gun carrier with a large calibre automatic weapon on the top of it.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I would like to have your ruling on whether photographs may be produced in this way. Are they available to the rest of the Committee for scrutiny, so that we can comment upon them at a later stage?
There is no substance in the point of order.
– They are here. You may scrutinise them. You may have a very careful look at them. I hope you will take copies arid keep them. They were given to you in September of 1963 and again in March of this year, but so far you have ignored them completely. By all means have a good look at them now. I might at this stage ask that these photographs be incorporated in “ Hansard “, Mr. Temporary Chairman, so that every honorable member may have a very good opportunity of carefully studying them.
That can only be done by leave of the Committee, Is leave granted?
– There will be printing difficulties involved.
– Let me put it this way: Providing the difficulties of printing these photographs can be overcome, I seek leave of the House to have them incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I want to give another example of the way in which the right honorable gentleman who is Prime Minister of Australia sought to treat questions that I had asked him. I asked whether there was a revolutionary organisation of a Fascist type in Australia. He avoided this question by saying that there were some members of a Croatian Brotherhood in Australia but that they were expelled by H.O.P. or the Croatian Nationalist Movement. The right honorable gentleman chose to brush this aside completely at that point. Imagine the situation if I had asked him about the peace congress that is to be held in Sydney in October arid he had been able to find that this peace congress had just expelled a group of revolutionary terrorists of this kind. Would the right honorable gentleman, and would other honorable members on that side of the chamber, have been prepared to take the matter so lightly? If members of the Government had been able to prove that the peace congress to be held in Sydney in October had just expelled a group of revolutionary terrorists who had . used force in this country and had planned to use it in some other country, would they have been prepared to take the matter as lightly as they appear to take he expulsion by the Croatian Nationalist Movement of a number of the Croatian Brotherhood who are dedicated to a totalitarian ideology and the force appropriate to it?
I want now to refer to the statement made by the Prime Minister and answers given by the Attorney-General to questions asked in this House. I say that a careful examination of that statement and those questions shows that they were nothing more than a deliberate attempt to conceal and mislead this House and the people of Australia. The Prime Minister and his Government continue to shield and support those associated with the Croat Fascist Movement led in Australia by former members of the Ustashi. A similar attitude adopted by the Government last year in some cases could have been the result of a lack of information, but it is now impossible to rely upon that defence. I am astonished that the Australian. Government continues now by deliberate decisions to identify itself with the most extreme Fascist type body that this country has ever seen.
The Prime Minister has made a statement which selects from history events favorable to the Croat Fascist movement. He failed even to notice any evidence of widespread atrocities committed by these people, or that they fought with Hitler and Mussolini against Australia during the war. He describes the results of their genocide merely as casualties. This callous distortion of history by the Prime Minister is inexplicable. The statement by the Prime Minister and the answers by the AttorneyGeneral represent an abdication of responsibility. The explanation is surely not that they are in any way sympathetic to Fascism or this Croatian extreme movement. The answer surely is not that the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General are in any way sympathetic to them. I would not accept that for one moment. The answer is that it is the result of the dedication of the Prime Minister to the vote catching game which makes him and those who follow behind him unwilling to displease even the most extreme and isolated Fascist-type minority in Australia for fear that even the few votes attached to that group may be lost in Australian elections.
This dedication to vote catching, which has become the preoccupation of the Prime Minister, is something that passes beyond understanding and beyond reason. This extreme right wing Croatian Fascist movement has the support of a number of other people in Australia. The right honorable gentleman is not prepared to take a stand against them because he knows that the votes of other right wing people great oceans away from them might be lost if he takes that stand. I say that that is an abdication of every principle that the right honorable gentleman claims to have ever stood for since he came into this Parliament. 1 refer the right honorable gentleman to the evidence of the condition of this movement in Yugoslavia during the Second World War. 1 do this because 1 believe that hardly any honorable gentlemen opposite have taken the trouble to discover what it did during the war. I would like to know whether any Minister or any 01 her responsible person on the other side of the chamber has bothered even to look at any of the extensive literature that is available on this subject. I will have time now to refer to only very little. 1 quote from a quite well known book on this subject - “ Genocide in Satellite Croatia “ - by Edmond Paris. This is the opening paragraph
The greatest genocide during World War II, in proportion to a nation’s population, took place, noi in Nazi Germany but in the Nazi-created puppet state of Croatia. There, in the years I’M 1-1945, some 750,000 Serbs, 60,000 Jews and 2<t,000 Gypsies - men, women and children - perished in a gigantic holocaust. These are the figures used by most foreign authors, especially the Germans, who were in the best position to know. Hermann Neubacher, perhaps the most important of Hitler’s trouble-shooters in the Balkans, reports that although some of the perpetrators of the crime estimated the number of Serbs killed at one million, the more accurate figure is 750,000. One of Hitler’s generals, Lothar Rendulic, who was in the area where the crimes were committed, estimates that in the first year of the existence of the puppet stale of Croatia at least a half million Orthodox Serbs were massacred, and that many others were killed in subsequent years. French writers most often use the halfmillion figure while British sources usually cite 700,000 Serbs killed.
In Australia there is a movement which is dedicated to supporting that organisation. 1 have in my hand a copy of the journal “ Spremnost “ which was put out by that movement in Sydney in March-April .1963. I emphasise those words - “ in Sydney it March-April 1963 “.
Here on the front page is a photograph of Ante Pavelic, who was in control of the genocide described in the book by Edmond Paris, from which I have just quoted. And here is an article asking all Croats in Australia to dedicate themselves to the leadership of this man, to commit themselves to his ideals, to follow his inspiration and leadership and to follow the methods that he used at that time. I do not think there is any room for that kind of thing in Australia. I would expect this Government, particularly those who lead it, to say quite unequivocally that there is no room for that kind of movement in Australia. On the other hand, I believe that it is quite conceivable that the Prime Minister and others who sit behind him have endeavoured to avoid the issue and to push it aside, and by failing to answer questions have endeavoured to abdicate their responsibilities.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Once again, whether by accident or design, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has followed the line which the Communists would like him to follow; he has behaved in this chamber in a way in which a Communist propagandist would behave. Let me try to tell the House how this is so. First, he has endeavoured to distinguish between Communism and Fascism. They are both variants of the same totalitarian idea. He has endeavoured to make some distinction between the Communists and the Fascists. These two classes of people are both to be censured. Both these ideologies are bad because they arc both variants of the same totalitarian idea. Scratch a Communist and you find a Communist. Scratch a Fascist and you find a Communist. The honorable member for Yarra has endeavoured to put forward the Communist line that there is some distinction between a Communist and a Fascist. As I have said, they are variants of the same abominable outlook.
– Tell me when 1 ever mentioned the subject.
– I will not be diverted by your interjection.
– You have been diverted by your own condition.
– Thank you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. This is the first service that the honorable member for Yarra is rendering to the Communists: He is bolstering up their false ideology that there is a distinction between these two things - Communism and Fascism. Let us not forget-
Order! I remind the honorable member for Mackellar that the Committee is considering the proposed expenditure of the Prime Minister’s Department. I want him to connect his remarks with that.
– I am speaking in reply to the speech of the honorable member for Yarra on the same subject. My remarks have at least as much relevance to the matter before the Committee as his had.
Order! I want the honorable member to connect his remarks to the proposed expenditure of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– All right. The first service that the honorable member for Yarra is rendering to the Communist cause is that he is endeavouring to bolster up this false distinction between Communism and Fascism, which are both variants of the same abominable totalitarian outlook.
Secondly, he is doing a service to the Communists because he is endeavouring to exacerbate inter-racial hostility in Australia. I have only read the literature on this subject; I know nothing of it first hand. But I believe that in the last war in what is now Yugoslavia atrocities were committed on both sides. I think some of the things said against the Croatians are true. I think some of the things said against the Serbs are equally true.- In the passions of war these things occur. We regret them. We condemn them. We hope that they will not be resurrected in Australia.
It is people like the honorable member for Yarra who are deliberately endeavour ing, in a way which is entirely m consonance with what the Communists want, to resurrect in Australia these conflicts between the two races. In Australia we have Croats and Serbs. We want them both to be Australians. We do not want this conflict to occur between them; but the Communist Party does. That party is endeavouring to exacerbate this conflict, and so is the honorable member for Yarra. He is doing that quite deliberately. That is what he was doing in this chamber a few minutes ago. That is what he has done in this chamber over many months. That is his consistent policy, and it is in line with the consistent policy of the Communist Party.
Let us look at the facts. The facts seem to be that some time in 1962 or thereabouts, under the patronage of a man called Popovic, who was the representative of Communist Yugoslavia in Melbourne, there was an organisation which I think was called the Dalmatian Settlers Association, or something like that. The idea of that Association was to bring the Croats who were in opposition to Tito’s dictatorship in Yugoslavia into line with Tito. This Association was run by a man called Jurjevic, who was a close friend and personal associate of the honorable member for Yarra. Mr. Jurjevic became president of the Association, which held its first meeting, I believe, in the house of a Communist in Gertrude Street. This Association - the Dalmatian Settlers Association, or something along those lines - fell to pieces for two reasons. It fell to pieces, first, because some people of goodwill who had been sucked into it came to realise that it was a Communist front and, being people of goodwill, they left. It came to pieces, in the second place, because some of the Communists inside the Association went with the pro-China faction and some went with the pro-Russia faction. In this split, which I believe occurred about October 1963, the Association changed its name, but only its name. It now called itself the Yugoslav Settlers Association, and it met not in the same house in Gertrude Street but in the same street and under the same president, the man called Jurjevic, who has been the informant of the honorable member for Yarra and the instigator of the honorable member for Yarra in most of these matters.
The Yugoslav Settlers Association was the successor of the Dalmation Settlers Association. The name of the Association had been changed and it had endeavoured to get over the split, but really it was the same proCommunist set-up. The honorable member for Yarra became patron of the Association. 1 am not quite certain at what date he became its patron, but it is certain that towards the end of 1963 this Association was issuing inflammatory pamphlets directed against the Croats in Australia. It is certain that, I think on 17th October 1963, the honorable member for Yarra made a statement in this House which was put into his mouth by Jurjevic and was meant to enable jurjevic to publish what he had said as an extract from “ Hansard “, free from any proceedings for libel. This was the reason why the honorable member for Yarra, whether he knows it or not, was put up in this House on 17th October 1963 to make just that statement, which was meant to inflame inter-racial passion in Australia - a thing which the Communists wanted to do, but a thing which this Government does not want to happen. This Government wants these people to be Australians - neither Croats nor Serbs but former Yugoslavs. lt is certain also that the honorable member for Yarra said something in this chamber which was false when, in the debate in 1964 - I forget the exact date, but 1 think it was in May - he said that this Association had been formed “ only a few weeks ago “ for the purpose of protecting its members. This statement was false. It was false in fact, and the honorable member for Yarra now admits that it was false in fact, but he has made no apology to this Committee for making that statement. Instead, he has tried to brazen it out and to say, in effect: “Although it was false in fact, I did not know that it was false in fact “. I ask honorable members: Is this credible? Perhaps it is. But let us look at the facts.
It is a fact that the honorable member for Yarra had been in close consultation with Jurjevic on this Association for months before he made the statement. It is a fact that he had become patron of this Association. Tt is a fact that under the seal and the imprints of this Association pamphlets were issued in 1963 quoting the honorable member’s speech of October in extenso. And the honorable member says that he knows nothing about it. If I may use the phrase, he has joined the Worshipful Company of Piano Players. This is the position of the honorable member for Yarra: He has made false statements in this chamber, statements which would be in line with what the Communists wanted, statements whose motives would be clear if they were-
– I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I draw your attention to the remark that I have made false statements in this chamber. This matter was debated three weeks ago, and it was shown quite clearly that no false statement had been made. The honorable member for Mackellar had an opportunity then and later to take this matter up, if he so desired. The evidence is against him, and I ask for a withdrawal of the remark that I have made a false statement. This remark is offensive to me and 1 ask for its withdrawal.
– On the evidence of “ Hansard “, on the honorable member’s own admision I say that he has made a false statement and I now take this opportunity to ask-
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I do not want this to go on any longer. 1 have asked for a ruling and you have allowed this man to stand up and shout a further version of this accusation, which is offensive to mc. I ask for the remark to be withdrawn.
– If the remark is offensive, I ask that it bc withdrawn.
– It is a true statement and it cannot be withdrawn, because it is a true statement.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw.
– It is a true statement and I can prove it by reference to “ Hansard “ and the honorable member’s own admission. I did not accuse him of knowingly making a false statement-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN__
Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his scat. The honorable member for Yarra has said that the remark made by the honorable member for Mackellar is objectionable to him and he asks that it be withdrawn. If the remark is offensive to the honorable member for Yarra, 1 suggest to the honorable member for Mackellar that he withdrawn the remark.
- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the remark is true.
Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw.
– If you rule that if a true statement is offensive to the honorable member-
Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his seat. The honorable member for Yarra has said that the remark made by the honorable member for Mackellar is objectionable to him and he asks for its withdrawal. I ask the honorable member for Mackellar to withdraw his remarks.
- Mr. Temporary Chairman, may I ask you-
Do you withdraw?
– Mr. Temporary Chairman-
Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his seat. He will withdraw his objectionable remark.
- Mr. Temporary Chairman-
Order! I ask for a withdrawal.
- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the statement is true and I cannot in good conscience withdraw it. It is true.
Order! I warn the honorable member for Mackellar that unless he withdraws the remark that is objectionable to the honorable member for Yarra I shall have to take action.
– Well, Sir, if your ruling is that any remark which is objection able to the honorable member must be withdrawn, it must be withdrawn. If that is your ruling I must respect the Chair.
Order! The honorable member will resume his scat. I ask the honorable member for Mackellar to withdraw the remark.
– If you so rule, Sir, I will withdraw.
Order! I will have to name the honorable member. I will not give him another warning. He must withdraw the remark without qualification.
– Very good, Sir.
Order! The honorable member-
– I have withdrawn, Sir.
– I am saying-
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, the honorable member for Mackellar did not say to you in answer to your request: “ I withdraw unequivocally “.
Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The honorable member for Mackellar said, “I withdraw”. The Chair accepts his withdrawal.
– Honorable members may well be reminded on the adjournment debate’ tonight of the text of the “Hansard” report in this respect. What has happened in this case has a terrible parallel in the Australia First performances. In that case, in the Attorney-General’s Department, Dr. Evatt then being the Attorney-General, a Communist was inserted as an agent provocateur to create charges which in substance were false.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. CALWELL (Melbourne- Leader Df
Chairman, this has been a disgraceful exhibition on the part of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in pursuance of his campaign to smear the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and every other honorable member who disagrees with him.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! ls the honorable Leader of the Opposition speaking for the second time?
– Yes. I am speaking for the second time. 1 ask the four Ministers in the chamber at the moment to ask their leader to produce to this Committee any evidence that might be in the files of the Security Service, or in any other Government organisation, which implies - even without naming him - that any honorable member of this Committee is a member of the Australian Communist Party or a former member of the Communist Party. If the Government will do this then we on this side of the chamber will know what to do wilh any members who are revealed as being members of the Communist Party. But honorable members opposite, led by the honorable member for Mackellar - a queer character - cannot keep up this sneer and smear campaign without the Opposition’s demanding some evidence to justify-
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw those words which are offensive to mc.
What are those words?
– The words “ sneer and smear campaign “.
Order! The honorable member for Mackellar objects to the remark made by the honorable Leader of the Opposition. Will he withdraw them?
– I will withdraw them because 1 am a parliamentarian and 1 believe in observing the forms of the Committee. 1 do not have to be told tcn times to do so.
– 1 want an unqualified withdrawal.
Order! The Leader of the Opposition has withdrawn his remark.
– That is right. I come back to the original point. The Government has a responsibility in this matter.No honorable member of this Committee is entitled to insult another honorable member without being asked to withdraw the words. No honorable member has a right to insinuate anything against another honorable member without being able to produce evidence here or outside the chamber. Only a coward would make charges in this chamber and not make them outside. I know how the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) regards the honorable member for Mackellar. A Government supporter asks: “ How do I regard him? “ I regard the honorable member for Mackellar in the same way as Government supporters regard him.
Order! I think the Leader of the Opposition ought to return to the item on the Estimates.
– I am very much on the Estimates, with due respect. 1 want the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) to take up the case of the honorable member for Mackellar because he cannot strike in this way without wounding people. The honorable member has been doing that all the time he has been in this chamber and that is why he is still on the back bench after IS years. The Prime Minister will leave him there. That is why the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who is interjecting, is also on the back bench - because the Prime Minister will not stand for what he does either. If any honorable member has anything to say about anybody - me or anybody else - let him say it here and then I will challenge him to say it outside. If he can produce any evidence here let him do so and we can answer any charge that is made. I do not believe for one second anything that the honorable member for Mackellar has said tonight in relation to the honorable member for Yarra - not one single word. If what the honorable member for Mackellar said were true then either he is being supplied with his information by people who are posing as Government officials or he has some access to documents which he, as a back bencher - and a back bencher ali the time he remains in this Parliament - has no right to have.
Order! I think the honorable Leader of the Opposition might come back to the item of the estimates.
– This is all related to what the Prime Minister controls in the way of security. What the honorable member for Mackellar said, if relevant, is offensive or libellous or untrue.
– I think you have made your point.
– Of course, the Prime Minister ought to be here tonight. The Estimates have been under discussion all night. The Prime Minister should be here while his estimates are being discussed. Where is he? Why is he not here? His colleagues cannot answer for him.
– He is working hard.
– How do you know what he is doing? How do you know where he is?
Order! The Committee will come to order.
– All I know is that the Prime Minister ought to be here because the charges made by the honorable member for Mackellar are very serious. Still, the Prime Minister might have decided that he did have more important work to do and is treating the honorable member for Mackellar with the contempt he deserves.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented. The honorable Leader of the Opposition said a moment ago that I would not repeat outside the chamber the things that I have said inside. I did say something inside the chamber - and I will repeat it in a few moments outside - to the effect that the honorable member for Yarra whether knowingly or unknowingly has given false statements to this Committee on this matter. I will repeat this statement outside in a few moments. If the honorable member for Yarra does not like it he knows exactly what he can do.
Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his’ seat.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I want to direct the attention of the Committee to the statement made by the honorable member for Mackellar that 1 have made false statements in this chamber. It is the third or fourth time that he has made the remark and I ask you to require him to withdraw it.
Order! The Committee will come to order. The honorable member for Yarra has complained that the honorable member for Mackellar has repeated in this chamber a remark which is offensive to him. I ask the honorable member for Mackellar to withdraw the offensive remark.
– I withdraw the remark and I give notice that in two minutes in King’s Hall I will repeat it.
Order! The Committee will come to order. I call the Minister for External Affairs.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, it may be difficult for everyone to appreciate but the fact is that we are discussing the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department. I rise to refer to two matters which were raised by the Leader of the Opposition and then to pass on to one point in the estimates to which I want to offer a few remarks of my own. Firstly, the honorable gentleman referred to the absence of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). I think that, on reflection, he will realise that the Prime Minister, particularly at times like this, does have many pressing calls on him and it has been customary on many occasions for a Prime Minister to arrange for Ministers to deputise for him to watch the passage through this chamber of these estimates. Without wishing to renew the recent controversy, I would like to clarify a point which I think the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) misunderstood. The right honorable gentleman asked that the Government produce from the files of the Security Service some evidence to support a charge that any member of this place had been a Communist. During the debate no such charge was made. Following a debating technique of his own, a technique that he customarily follows, the line of the argument put forward by the honorable member - and I take no part in the controversy as to whether that line is right or wrong - was this: Certain statements made by the honorable member for Yarra were similar to statements which a Communist might have made, or served the purpose which a Communist would like to have seen served. That was the line of argument taken in the debate. There was no accusation that any member was a Communist.
I want to return now to the subject of education, and particularly to the granting of scholarships. Listening to the debate earlier in the evening, I thought that the Opposition had introduced a false note into the discussion on the provision of secondary school scholarships. The point under notice is that in this Budget, for the first time, provision is made for additional scholarships to carry children through secondary schools. As I understood the situation, some Opposition speakers seemed to suggest that the terms under which these scholarships are to be made available are such as to put children of families described by honorable members opposite as workers’ families - we may describe them as lower income families - in a position less advantageous than that of children from what may be regarded as middle class families. I may say that I abominate both terms. In the Australian social setting, I do not like the use of any terms that suggest that there is one class in contradistinction to another class.
The reasoning behind the argument of Opposition speakers was that parents on lower incomes would be unable perhaps to provide a child with the required books, with quiet conditions for study at home or with an encyclopaedia. I believe that encyclopaedias wer mentioned. The argument was that, therefore, a child of such a family would be less likely than a child of a family in which these advantages were available to pass a competitive examination. Certain statistics were cited. So far as I am familiar with those statistics, I believe that they do not fully support the point that the Opposition members were trying to make. Many factors may account for the fact that a certain percentage of university students comes from one social group and a given percentage comes from another social group. One may try to single out for particular attention the factor of family income, but that does not necessarily apply to an occupation grouping. I think that some of the lowest family incomes would be found not only among the famines of unskilled wage earners. They would be found also among a great number of rural families on small holdings - so called primary producers. But these would be primary producers in a small way, on a family income that would provide far less ready money than is available to many wage earners who at least take home a regular weekly pay packet
Looking at this factor of family income, I doubt whether its relevance to the passing of competitive examinations is as significant as Opposition speakers have tried to make out. I speak with some personal experience of this. I am very proud of my family. It was always a low income family, not for reasons that were any discredit to it, but for reasons of which we are very proud. I came from a low income family and I made my progress step by step by wining scholarships and passing examinations. In the light of my own experience and the experience of other boys who attended the same school that I attended and who had been able to enter it only because they had passed a competitive examination, and who mostly came from low income families, I do not believe that low income alone had any relevance to our ability to pass examinations. If the family spirit is one of encouraging a student, with the rest of the family making sacrifices and doing without things so that the student may have opportunities, that sort of encouragement and the atmosphere with which the child is surrounded do much to ensure that he is at no disadvantage compared to the child who comes from a more highly favoured home.
Every one of us could turn to his own experience with some relevance to the education of the outstanding scholars that Australia has produced. I can think of colleagues of mine who went through school or university with me and who had no advantages but who now occupy some of the highest academic posts not only in
Australis but in some of the ancient universities of the world. Handicaps of the kind &aZ honorable members have mentioned cm be overcome.
Another element in the situation is the fact that family circumstances, quite apart from the total family income, mean a lot. The secondary school scholarships that the Government now proposes to make available for competitive examination are intended to provide for secondary school children after they have passed that examination which is known as the Intermediate Certificate in some States and the Junior Certificate in other States, and to ensure that children who otherwise might have to leave school because of family circumstances can continue for another two years and complete secondary education, matriculate, qualify for a Commonwealth scholarship at a university and, with public assistance, go on to a university education. Surely every one of us can think of many families in his own electorate in which the father has a reasonable sort of occupation and ,a reasonable income but happens to have, say, six children each of whom is going through secondary education and is hoping to be able to go on to university. Such a family bears a burden of expense that is just as heavy and just as oppressive as is the burden on a tow income family with a smaller number of children.
I suggest that Opposition speakers have mistaken the issue and perhaps have introduced a false note into the debate by trying to produce this thesis that the terms of the proposed scholarships are such as to place children from low income families at a considerable disadvantage compared to children from other families. The scheme was certainly not designed to make any class distinctions of that kind, and I am sure that, in its application, it will have no such effects. Throughout this land, many families - some in very humble circumstances and some m the middle range of income - face very heavy burdens of education because all the children are destined for university training. This scheme will be of great help to them.
I would say one last word on this subject of examinations. I do not share the abhorrence of examinations that some people have. It is true that there is in the educa tion system at present a tendency to cram children for examinations and to conduct them in such a way as to make them a test only of the ability to recall information and of nothing else. This leads to an abuse of the’ examination- system. However, I suggest to the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and others who have spoken in similar terms that most of the faults that they allege against the examination system are not inherent in the conducting of public competitive examinations. They are due to false use of the examination system by the schools and the examiners themselves
An examination, mind you, has great value. It is a test not only of what the student has learned but also of his character and his ability at a given time to face up to the demands of a public examination, muster such forces and marshal such resources as he has and deal with the examination crisis. If a student, after having faithfully studied a subject, comes to the time of examination and goes to pieces and is unable to pass that examination that is a revelation - and I say this with all sympathy to those affected with such jitters - of an inability to measure up to a final test. I think part of the value of an examination is mat it does require the student not only to study his subject but to be ready to measure himself up against the requirements of the test; the same as in the rest of life most of us time after time have to face successive tests. Perhaps one of the hardest tests which members of Parliament undergo is in making their maiden speeches. Some get through this better than others, but until you manage to get through your maiden speech you are not much good as a member of Parliament
These are the few remarks I wished to make, because it seemed to me that, in this disparagement of the scholarship system which has been introduced, the Opposition has tended to give a false picture of the system. It was also tending, unfortunately, to ignore the fact that this is a proposal which has received the enthusiastic endorsement of the people of Australia.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I rise to answer some of the personal charges made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) against the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). Personally I think all honorable members in this chamber must be disgusted with the attitude of the honorable member for Mackellar and his performance in the chamber tonight. He disgraced himself and I feel-
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, those remarks are offensive to me and 1 ask that they be withdrawn.
Order! Honorable members will come to order. The honorable member for Reid will withdraw those remarks that arc objectionable to the honorable member for Mackellar.
– I will withdraw those remarks in respect for you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The honorable member for Mackellar at the outset made a personal attack against the honorable member for Yarra. He opened his remarks by saying: “Once again the honorable member for Yarra has followed the Communist line”. He knows that this is a despicable and outright false charge.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, those remarks are offensive to me and I ask for their withdrawal. What I said was true and the honorable member for Reid knows it.
Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will take his seat. I call the honorable member for Reid.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I have asked for a withdrawal of those remarks. May I have it please?
– Order! The honorable member will take his scat. The honorable member for Reid will withdraw those remarks that are objectionable to the honorable member for Mackellar
– On a point of order-
Order! I call the honorable member for Reid.
– I desire to keep within Standing Orders, and I withdraw the words objected to.
– Am I to take it, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that members of the Opposition are to withdraw on the first instance and 20 chances are to be given to the honorable member for Mackellar? Might I suggest that Standing Orders say that when an honorable member is asked to withdraw by the Speaker or the Chairman he should do so immediately, and if not he should be named. I suggest, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that you are partial in your administration.
– On a point of order-
Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will take his seat. The honorable member for Grayndler will withdraw his remarks against the Chair. If he is objecting to the ruling of the Chair he has his rights and he can move in that direction if he wishes to do so.
– Being a member who believes in obeying the Standing Orders I withdraw as requested by you, but I ask that the same things be expected of the honorable member for Mackellar.
– On the point of order raised by the honorable member for Grayndler you ruled, Sir, in respect of something I had said, that if it be thought offensive by an honorable member on the opposite side it should be withdrawn.
– Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will take his seat.
– I am trying-
Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will take his seat. I call the honorable member for Reid.
– We know that the honorable member for Mackellar is laughing and he thinks that this Committee is being fooled. A red herring has been pulled across the trail by the honorable member for Mackellar. Why has this red herring been pulled across the trail? It has been pulled across the trail because of the charges laid by the honorable member for Yarra.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, it is offensive to me when I am accused of drawing-
– Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will take his seat or I. will name him. I call the honorable member for Reid.
– The honorable member for Yarra-
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Hon. W. C. Haworth.)
Majority . . ..19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, £3,523,000.
– I wish to refer to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Conciliation and arbitration, so far as it affects the Attorney-General’s Department, relates to the payment of salaries of the Registrar of the Commission and of officers associated with him. It is not generally recognised that the Registry is the commencing point for events that may have a vital effect on Australian wage standards. Section 64 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides-
A certificate by the Registrar that an industrial dispute exists, or is threatened, impending or probable, as an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State is evidence that the fact is as stated.
So a dispute reported to the Registrar is dealt with on the basis of an industrial matter falling within the framework of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
For a number of years I have been disturbed by the fact that the Registrar is restricted to matters that fall within the category of an industrial matter or an industrial dispute. A perusal of the legislation will show that an industrial dispute in Australia relates to almost anything that can affect the pay envelope of a worker except a facet that may be related to profit of an organisation also registered with the court. It always seems to me that where we have a conciliation and arbitration system under the control of a registrar that is so wide in application it impinges on every facet of our national economy.
I am glad to see the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) at the table. I have often wondered why profits are not brought within the ambit of inspection of our industrial authorities in this country. The Attorney-General, who has practised widely in this field, will know that scarcely a problem can arise affecting the pay envelope of any worker under any Federal award without falling into the category of a dispute that may be dealt with by the Registrar. The honorable gentleman will also know that a claim by the metal trades group of unions for an increase in the basic wage, which has such a vital bearing on the economy, will go through the Registry. The Registry is the channel through which all disputes in every section of industry must go.
I am sure the Attorney-General will have read the last basic wage decision and will have noted that the Commission stated that the evidence before it had been discussed in the light of what is being done in other countries and in the light of the legislation that may be introduced in the not far distant future. The Commission has been sufficiently alerted to the activity of this Parliament in relation to the proposed restrictive trading practices legislation to state that if the future legislation is passed, its effect on the economy, as it concerns the Commission, can bc considered from time to time. I recognise that the AttorneyGeneral has undertaken a tremendous task in preparing this legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices and I wonder whether he will at the same time consider how far the Registry of the Commission can examine the same fields that he will be examining as to the need for the type of legislation that comes before this Parliament, lt seems to me that if this registry is to be really expert in its activities then, when the Attorney-General introduces the restrictive trade practices legislation, both he and the Government should give serious consideration to extending the field of operations of the registry in order that it will be in a position to place before the Commission full information as to what is happening in those areas to be covered by that legislation. The trade unions should not have to provide that information. I feel that if legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices is introduced, those organisations which now compile statistics will not be able to function as efficiently in the fields covered by that legislation as could the registry which is administered by the Attorney-General if its scope of operations were broadened in the way in which I have suggested.
I know that the Attorney-General has the same appreciation as I have of the ability of the present officers in his registry. There can be no doubting their ability. They have demonstrated that over and over again; but it does seem to me that the registry could be even more helpful to the AttorneyGeneral if its activities were extended to meet the needs of the proposed legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices.
I said earlier that section 64 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that, by the issue of a certificate, the Registrar may refer certain matters to the Commission as industrial disputes. I suggest in all earnestness that some provision be included in the proposed new legislation to enable an approach to be made through the registry to the profit making sector of the community, because it is the profit making sector of this country that is causing our present difficulties.
I remind the Committee that when the basic wage was increased by 12s. by the Commission in May 1961, that increase was related to the standards then applying. It was granted to restore the purchasing power of the basic wage to the level applying in June 1960. However, at that time the Commission also laid down a new formula. It said that, in future, increases in prices would be looked upon as establishing a prima facie case for a review of the basic wage. Perhaps the Attorney-General will not agree with me but I feel that he will if he gives full consideration to the point I am making. As the result of this new approach by the Commission, prices did not rise following the granting of the 12s increase in 1961.
When the Commission reviewed the basic wage in 1964 and granted an additional 20s. a week, it stated that in its view that increase produced approximately the same result as had been gained by the 12s. granted in 1961. Remembering that the object of the 12s. increase granted in 1961 was to lift the purchasing power of the basic wage to the level obtaining at June 1960, it can be seen that the 20s. granted in 1964 really represented an increase of 5s. per year in purchasing power between 1960 and 1964. The flurry of price increases now taking place throughout Australia - the Victorian Government has recently increased some charges by 22$ per cent. - must be worrying the Attorney-General. If the formula laid down by the Commission in 1961 is to be applied then, surely, there is already a prima facie case for another review of the basic wage now.
But what happens every time the basic wage is increased in Australia is that the profit makers increase their percentage of profit and, as a consequence, their total income. I say to the Attorney-General that if the proposed legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices is to have any real value, in the long run he will have to give serious consideration to extending the activities of his registry into the profit making fields in order that the Commission may have readily available to it full information as to what is happening in our economy from time to time. If action is not taken along those lines, we will continue to have a condition which may be likened to that of a dog chasing its tail.
Nobody will disagree with the theory that it is not good for cost levels to be rising continually. Prices must bc brought back to a level commensurate with the purchasing power of the basic wage. I have given a great deal of thought to this question and can appreciate the effect of increased prices. For instance, the decision by the Victorian Government to increase freights and fares by 22 J per cent, will have a terrific impact on public expenditure. The Victorian Government says this increase is necessary, but if costs are to rise by 22± per cent, every time there is an increase of 20s. a week in the basic wage, and we are unable to get from the registry administered by the Attorney-General full information to lay before the Commission, then I am afraid that a decade from now this country will not be as rich as it ought to be. I know that the Attorney-General has given a great deal of thought to the restrictive trade practices legislation. Therefore, I think it pertinent now to draw his attention and the attention of this Parliament to the urgent need to adopt a different method from that which we have been following since as far back as 1904. Wc must look to the future. In the interests of the community, we must make this Registry an even more efficient and effective organisation.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In rising to speak to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department, might I say how much personal pleasure it gives me to notice that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) is sitting at the table for the first time in a debate such as this. I am sure that all of us hope that in the years ahead of him as
Attorney-General, this place will see a great deal of progressive legislative reforms brought down by him.
I listened as always with interest to the remarks of my friend the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) but he delivered a speech which I think might have been more appropriately delivered when the Estimates of the Department of Labour and National Service were being discussed. Indeed, I shall take the opportunity of answering him when I speak to those estimates. I wish to relate my remarks, more directly than the honorable member for Blaxland did, to the Government’s proposal to introduce legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices. The decision to introduce this legislation was taken by the Government in 1960 - four years ago. It was a decision that was not taken lightly by the Government. It was a decision that was not received with wild enthusiasm by all members of commerce, industry and the public. Some people in industry and commerce still object to the proposal, not only in terms of detail but also in terms of principle.
One must admit that any act of the Government that further restricts man’s liberty or freedom should not be taken lightly, and this decision to introduce legislation on restrictive trade practices certainly does restrict man’s liberty, both in terms of personal freedoms and corporate freedoms. We must remember, though, that early in man’s history he did forgo some part of his liberty so that the society in which he lived would not degenerate into chaos. So we find ourselves today agreeing, as members of a society, not to cross a road whenever we please but to obey traffic lights which may happen to be red. This surely is an intrusion into our freedom. We agree that wc will not follow the law of the jungle and slaughter an enemy. We agree that if we do we. will then be susceptible to the law of murder. We still further restrict our freedom in thousands of ways by saying that the mere possession of property or the confiscation of land or effects does not give us any right. In other words, we restrict our liberties. But let us be quite clear. The proposal of the Government to introduce restrictive trade practices legislation is a further whittling away of our freedom. But in circumstances such as this we must ask ourselves the question: Is the sacrifice that we suffer by this further giving away of our freedom justified in terms of the benefit received? 1 strongly support the Government’s proposal to introduce this legislation. However, I am a little disturbed that it is taking so long to see the manifestation of the concrete proposals that were first mooted in the Parliament about four years ago. I am not suggesting that we should rush into this legislation. We have the examples of other countries which have suffered chaos because they have naively rushed into legislation of this nature and have found it most difficult to extricate themselves from it at a later date.
What is a restrictive trade practice? I woud like to give- one example that came to my personal notice from a constituent. In giving this example, I do not ask for specific action on this particular problem; 1 give it merely to illustrate one of the many types of restrictive trade practices that do exist. I am astonished to hear many businessmen, and honorable men, say; “This restrictive trade practices legislation is not necessary. Let us have laisser faire in business. Let us have free enterprise.” I have authority from my constituent to give this example, and I give it without comment. My constituent is in an executive position with a company called Customcraft Blind Co. Pty. Ltd, which manufactures Venetian blinds. I have a very great admiration for the company and for the men in it. It started as a very small organisation and by sheer guts and determination the men in the company have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made it a most successful company of this type. One of its main competitors is a foreign organisation called Hunter Douglas Australia Pty. Ltd. The parent company is one of the biggest companies of its type in the United States of America.
I shall give two examples of restrictive trade practices as they apply to this company, one in the acquisition of tape for
Venetian blinds and the other in the acquisition of aluminium. Customcraft Blind Co. Pty. Ltd. in 1961 belonged to a trade association which was called the Venetian Blind Manufacturers Association of Victoria. It is also a national association It laid down minimum prices that the constituent members could charge. In other words, it determined the economic rounds in which each member could maneouvre. Customcraft Blind Co. Pty. Ltd. decided that it wanted to trade on its own terms and conditions. It wanted to sell its goods on economic grounds rather than on grounds decreed by the association. It adopted a system of unit costing of the component parts as distinct from average costing. The immediate effect was that it was expelled from the association. This act in itself is nothing, but by virtue of the control the association has over the industry the company’s supplies of tape were stopped. This was done through a subsidiary association, the Component Suppliers Association of Australia.
When my constituent applied to the Department of Customs and Excise to import tape, he applied for by-law entry. He thought that this was a reasonable request. He thought that, if he could not procure the tape in Australia because supply had been stopped by this restrictive - trade practice, he had reasonable grounds for asking for by-law entry. But by-law entry was refused on the ground that comparable products were readily available inAustralia. I have seen this in writing from, the then Minister for Customs and Excise. He tested the ground on which his application for by-law entry was refused by again applying to Hunter Douglas Australia Pty. Ltd. for tape. Hunter Douglas Australia Pty. Ltd. wrote - I have seen this letter - that it would be delighted to supply him with tape but because of certain -exigencies that had arisen, it attached three conditions to the supply of tape. First, it demanded cash with the order; secondly, the price of the tape supplied to my constituent would be 25 per cent, higher than that supplied to any other member of the association; and thirdly, my constituent had to take three months’ usage at one time. Sir, I am sure that you, as a businessman, would be the first to appreciate that to a small private company surviving in this highly competitive field these were intolerable terms. The net result is that my constituent must import the tape and pay duty on it. This is costing him £5,000 a year more in his unit costs than he would have to pay if he had been able to purchase the tape direct from the Australian manufacturer or import it under by-law entry.
The same thing has happened with aluminium strip.
There is a frightening practice in Australia of take overs and mergers. The
Venetian blind industry is relatively small in the whole scheme of things and 1 mention this matter only as a basic point and a justification for restrictive trade practices legislation. Three or four years ago, there were at least a dozen manufacturers of Venetian blind components. Today, there are two - Hunter Douglas Australia Pty. Ltd., the American company, which has gained a position of virtual monopoly by the rather sinister new technique of mergers and take overs, and this small company I have mentioned. Hunter Douglas Australia Pty. Ltd. is the only supplier of aluminium strip in Australia, lt has attained this position by this system of take over and merger. Extraordinarily, when there were many suppliers of aluminium strip Customcraft Blind Company Pty. Ltd. had to reject 3 per cent, of the strip received because it was faulty, but since monopoly control has come to the industry this firm has found that it has to reject 14 per cent, of the strip. The effect of this on unit costs can readily be understood.
Again the company has applied to the Department of Customs and Excise to have the strip imported under by-law, but of course, the monopoly controller, Hunter Douglas Australia Pty. Ltd., merely tells the Department of Customs and Excise that there is no justification for having it admitted under by-law because it can supply the strip. Well, it can supply it and is supplying it, but of that strip 14 per cent, is rejected. Am 1 to be told by a sensible businessman that this kind of practice is to be tolerated in Australia? Am I to be told by a champion of free enterprise that this should go on? it dismays me to know that the objection to restrictive trade practices legislation does not come from our traditional enemies on the other side of the chamber but from the socalled champions of free enterprise who are allegedly supporters of this Government. This is where the real opposition comes from. I tell those businessmen who want to ride the nice white horse of free enterprise and laisser faire that they should ask themselves this question: How long do you think you can survive in a free enterprise economy if you allow these predators to destroy the free competition that is the lifeblook of industry in the kind of society that we all want to support and sustain?
The example I have given is one of many. Every honorable member has seen similar examples from time to time. As a supporter of this Government I commend the decision made four years ago to proceed with this restrictive trade practices legislation. As a supporter of this Government I can appreciate that one should not rush in when such complex legislation is involved. We should seek out the views of all sections of the community before we shackle industry and commerce with legislation to remain in force in perpetuity. But I say, too, that I am beginning to get a little concerned about the delay taken in introducing this legislation. If we do not legislate, and legislate soon, in a concrete way in respect of this vital matter, we will have failed in our duty to the people we represent.
.- I was very interested to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) in respect of this very important section of the work of the Attorney-General’s Department. I completely agree with everything that he said. I think it is most important to do two things in the course of this debate, and I hope the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) and all those who are advising him will apply their minds to these two things. The two speakers who have preceded me have, each in his own way, emphasised these two significant points. First, the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) related the question of restrictive practices and price fixing to the procedures of arbitration. I know there is a facile reply, which is perhaps well founded in constitutional law, that arbitration authorities have no power to deal with prices in the course of settling industrial disputes. This is a field that requires, I think, thorough investigation, because this is not only a constitutional matter, it is also a matter of very practical politics and a matter of what is possible and what can be done in the situation. I commend the remarks of the honorable member for Blaxland and 1 want to extend some of them and refer to them again in a few minutes.
The second aspect of this question is the one raised by the honorable member for Higinbotham. There will be restrictive practices, and there will be tendencies for prices to be raised and artificially maintained, which are not themselves part of the economic problem, not part of the problem of economic policy. Only recently I referred such a matter to the AttorneyGeneral. It was a case of a retail furniture distributor in my electorate. He was a member of the retail furnishers’ association. He received a supply of furniture from a number of factories and at one stage he saw fit to sell furniture from his own shop at a satisfactory price to another retailer in the same street. The second retailer was not a member of the association, and he proceeded to sell the furniture supplied to him by the one who made the complaint to me. The retailers’ association apparently discovered that this had occurred and called on the retailer to whom the furniture had been supplied by the factories to appear before a committee appointed by the association, as though it was a properly constituted court. Evidence was heard and a decision was reached. It was decided that the retailer should be fined £100 and expelled from the association.
This was the case that I submitted to the Attorney-General. It was decided, quite properly within the structure of the law as it exists and as the Attorney-General’s Department views it, that this case did not come within the scope of the Commonwealth power because there was no evidence that the transaction had any interstate aspect. Recently, successful legal action has been taken in a number of cases by a Victorian firm of solicitors, Slonim and Velik, in which the basis of action has been the Australian Industries Preservation Act which was passed in 1906. This firm has had a considerable measure of success because in the cases in which action has been taken the aspect of interstate trade has not played such a significant part. The case to which I have now referred is being considered.
– It plays just as significant a part but there -is a wider area involved.
– I shall not try to discuss the legal aspects of this because they are beyond my scope. At any rate there is a possibility of prosecution, I understand, under the provisions of the Act 1 have mentioned.
Clearly enough there is a problem here that calls for restrictive practices legislation. I think the honorable member for Higinbotham is quite right in pointing out that the resistance to this legislation is coming from the side of enterprise, where people are anxious that nothing be done to transfer to the public authority the powers that they are already exercising. I think that some of the delay about which we are feeling considerable impatience has resulted solely from this opposition. I think some impatience is justified because of the delay that has occurred in the presentation of the legislation to the House. I think that when we’ properly evaluate the significance and importance of the restrictive trade practices legislation the Opposition will consider the legislation placed before the House solely on its merits and I should imagine that we will find ourselves supporting all of it and probably asking for more. I should think that would be the attitude of the Opposition.The policy of the Australian Labour Party, however, shows that we realise thisis a complex and difficult situation which is changing all the time. I should like to refer honorable members to the policy of the Labour Party on this matter. It is that a continuing commission to investigate monopolistic industries and where appropriate to recommend action should be appointed. We are inclined towards the British theory. We believe that circumstances will change. The policy provides for a continuing commission of inquiry - not dealing only with particular cases that are brought to its notice, as a court would, but dealing with the structure of industry altogether - to investigate and to. recommend particular proposals to legislate against monopolistic and restrictive practices, and to establish or extend public enterprise as a competitor. It is well to remember that, in some fields in which the powers that arc used restrictively are not a result of agreements or penalties but are simply a result of monopolistic power, very often the only way in which effective competition can enter the field is through public enterprise as a competitor. Other functions of such a commission would be to investigate and recommmend on proposals to nationalise any industry or part thereof and to protect small primary producers, retailers and others.
That last point is one to which I want to give some emphasis. It is all very well to have an effective system of restrictive practices legislation; but in industry and distribution there are a very large number of small people who can protect themselves only by some kind of an agreement that is established between them. Just as there are workers who require trade unions, there are some farmers who require schemes such as the wheat marketing scheme and cooperative schemes, there are tobacco growers who badly need some kind of central organisation with realistic powers, and there are factories which require similar schemes. I call the attention of the AttorneyGeneral and others to the statistics of the situation. In 1960-61 there were 57,782 factories in Australia, of which 23,433 or roughly 41 per cent, were employing fewer than four persons and 4,796 were employing four persons. Those two groups represented a total of about 28,000 factories, or about 49 per cent, of the total of 57,782.
Those concerns are just too small to hold their own in the field, because at the other end of the spectrum in that same year there were 1,813 factories which employed more than 100 persons. They represented only 3.14 per cent, of all the factories and they employed 51.31 per cent of all the people employed in all the factories. So 3.1 factories out of every 100 employ 51 workers out of every 100. Those factories must have had 51 per cent, of output, 51 per cent of income and 51 per cent, of everything else in the factory system, roughly speaking. It seems quite clear to me that when we are considering restrictive trade practices we have to consider them in terms of the two ends of the spectrum. The small concerns at the bottom, representing nearly 50 per cent, of all concerns, are too small to exercise any kind of restrictive practice at all and, in fact, they need some kind of working together if they are to hold their own in this situation.
Finally I refer to the remarks made by the honorable member for Blaxland. He is a student of the industrial system. He realises that the Commonwealth power in respect of the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of one State has required the Commonwealth to set up a commission which is an investigating body. That commission sets out to investigate the economy and to investigate industry. It sets out to try to discover what industry can afford to pay in wages or salaries, but not what industry can afford to pay in profits or provisions for future development. The arbitration power seems to me to have been applied in a very unusual and one-sided way. If it is necessary for the arbitration authority to fix a wage in order to settle an industrial dispute, surely in common sense it is necessary for that authority to do something about prices if it is to prevent industrial disputes.
Let us look at the position in which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is today, as outlined by the honorable member for Blaxland. This year an investigation was made into the economy. The Commission decided that industry or the economy, at that point in time, could afford an increase of £1 a week in the basic wage. It recognised that because it gave that increase, and for other reasons, it would be likely that there would be an increase in prices following its decision, although it had decided that industry had the capacity to carry that increase there and then.
– That is not what it decided.
– That is pretty close to it.
– All right; you may point that out later on. But I take it that that is substantially the position. I concede - it is necessary for me to do this in order to make my point - that the Commission in fact said that prices might rise and it expected that if they did a new application would be made as a result of prices rising because it envisaged that the wage would be kept up to prices. Suppose a new application is made next year. Suppose the unions go to the Commission and say: “ Yes, there has been an increase in retail prices of 7, J8 or 10 per cent.” as there may well be by sometime next year, and suppose the unions say: “ We want the Commission to take this increase into account “, is it not reasonable for the Commission to say: “ First of all we will investigate this matter to see whether there has been an increase in retail prices “? The Commission will do that and no doubt verify that such an increase in prices has occurred. Similarly, is it not common sense that the Commission will then turn to inquire into why there has been an increase in prices. If it turns to do that, can it ignore that statement made by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Dr. Coombs? He said -
Consider the pricing policies of industrialists and traders. No doubt some degree of competition prevails over a wide range of industry and commerce but there are degrees of monopoly and tacitly accepted practices which mean that prices arc determined by management rather than by the market for a wide range of goods and that within significant margins producers can decide at what prices their goods shall be sold. In these circumstances the policies of the management are important.
I submit that the policies of management are important to the settlement of industrial disputes. Dr. Coombs went on to say -
First, management appears to assume that increases in costs should and can bc passed on . . .
That is an important assumption which is underlying Australian industry today. I believe that the honorable member for Blaxland did the Parliament a service by raising the question of price policy and the significance of monopolies and restrictive trade practices in respect of the operation of our arbitration system. No longer can we decide this question merely on legal and constitutional grounds; it is basically an economic question.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– After the rather turbulent events of earlier this evening, it has been very good to sit in this chamber during the present debate and hear from both sides constructive suggestions on matters of law reform. I was particularly pleased to hear the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) prognosticate that the restrictive trade practices legislation will be largely unopposed by the Opposition. I hope that bis forecast proves correct. Before passing on to the topic on which 1 have chosen to speak tonight, I re-echo the sentiments expressed by my colleague, the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp), at the outset of his speech, and say how pleasing it is to see my honorable and learned friend the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) sitting at the table for the first time during his period of office when the proposed expenditure of his Department is under discussion. I am confident that his tenure of his present office will be limited only by his passage to a higher office. I am certain that he will carry on the work of law reform which was done so well by his predecessor.
Tonight I want to speak on a subject which may be largely a non-controversial one. I want to talk about the need for law reform in the field of Commonwealth employees’ compensation. This seems to strike a chord of sentiment on the other side of the chamber.
– There would not be half the trouble if it were the Attorney-General’s instead of the Treasury’s funds.
– It seems to me that out of the mouth of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition there is some anticipation of what I propose to say. I ask him not to steal too much more of my thunder.
– Did he give you a few hints?
– No, 1 have not spoken to him for days, but that is not the fault of either of us. Commonwealth employees’ compensation is a very important field of legislation, and a few brief statistics will suffice to make that point. At the end of June this year approximately 250,000 people were employed in the Commonwealth Public Service. In addition, the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act covers the working activities of members of the defence forces, except when they are on active service. So, in all the legislation touches about 330,000 Commonwealth employees, including within that term members of the forces.
As I see it, workers’ compensation legislation is a very important aspect in the whole field of social services legislation. Tt fulfils a very real need. Its object is to protect the breadwinner and his family from want where the breadwinner is incapacitated for work through injuries sustained, broadly speaking, in the course of his employment. The traditional way in which this need has been fulfilled is by throwing the burden of compensation on the employers, and that is only proper. But because the burden has been thrown on the employer there has necessarily been, and still is, a sort of perpetual struggle between employees on the one hand and employers on the other with regard to claims for compensation. On the one hand the employers try, as is only natural, to restrict the scope of their liability to pay compensation by proving, or trying to prove, by all proper means that the injury was not connected with work. On th j other hand there is a reverse tendency on the part of the employees; they go all out to show that the injury was due to the employment. lt is interesting to notice how in this field of controversy the courts have steered their course. It has been consistently the policy of the courts to uphold, when it comes to construing the provisions of workers’ compensation legislation, the claims of workers to compensation to the furthest degree that the words of the legislation will reasonably allow. I would be the first to endorse that attitude; it is only proper, because this is social service legislation. It should bc construed benignly, and the legislation should be administered benignly, in favour of the worker. My great doubt about the present scheme of Commonwealth employees’ compensation is with the structure of the Act.
– Order! The honorable member is getting away from the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. The subject that he is discussing would mora property be dealt with in the debate on the estimates for the Treasury.
– I propose to connect up my remarks and show that the right place for this scheme to be administered is in the Attorney-General’s Department.
– We are on your side on this matter.
– That is a very rare experience.
– It is good to know that we can have unity in some things.
– I do not mind having you with me - once. As I was saying, my great doubt is as to the way that the structure of this Act is calculated to achieve in the field of Commonwealth employees’ compensation, that benign and broad approach to the determination of elaine made by Commonwealth employees which the courts have traditionally and properly adopted.
One of the central features in the legislative scheme with which I am dealing is that the administration of the Act is committed to a functionary who is called the Commissioner for Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation. He is the Secretary for the Treasury and, as we all realise, he being an extremely busy man could hardly be expected to have much time to administer in detail the provisions of this Act. So that Act provides that he may delegate his functions to some other person or persons who are invariably in practice, officers of the Treasury. I make no criticism - let me be quick to say this - of Treasury officials as a race. We all know that in that department there are some the best brains in the Commonwealth Public Service.
Order! I do suggest that the honorable member should get back to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. There will be an opportunity to discuss this matter later.
– I have chosen the subject tonight, Sir, giving some consideration to where exactly it does arise, but I rather took courage to discuss this legislation at this time because my honorable and learned friend the Attorney-General, I think in last year’s Estimates debate, raised the matter and was going to talk about it but time prevented him from doing so. The point that I want to make by developing this at such length is that the proper place for the central direction of this scheme is, I think, the Attorney-General’s Department - not the Treasury. I want to go on to say that the delegate of the Commissioner for Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation has large and important powers. He has to determine whether a particular injury was sustained in the course of the employment. He deter?mines the degree of incapacity of a Commonwealth employee.
– And he can take as long as he likes about ali of them.
– That is a point that may be raised, but I do not propose to raise it as 1 think there are larger points to raise. This official is an officer of the Treasury, and what I doubt is whether Treasury officials, with all their undoubted virtues, have grown up in the sort of climate that attunes them to deal in the way the courts have traditionally dealt with workers’ compensation claims. After all, the Treasury officials are properly, by tradition, the watchdogs of the public purse. It is only right that they should be so. But, in my submission, we want a slightly broader approach to this problem than the type of approach that may be brought to it by a Treasury official, however efficient. That is the main point that I want to make.
I suggest that the administration of this Act is a task that more properly and more suitably falls to be performed by someone with legal knowledge, with a knowledge of the structure of the Act and of the background of workers’ compensation legislation. I suggest, therefore, and this is my main proposal, that it is to the Attorney-General’s Department, or someone in that Department, that the central direction of this legislative scheme should be committed.I readily agree that one must have some sort of central direction, some such functionary as the Commissioner, because it would conduce to confusion and lack of cohesion if every Commonwealth department were to deal for itself with the workers’ compensation claims made by its employees. That is the main plea that I make tonight.
In the short time still available to meI want to make some reference to other provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act which to my mind are unsatisfactory in principle and in their application. Provision for appeal is given by section 20 of the Act to what in New South Wales is a District Court, in Victoria a County Court, and in Queensland, 1 think, a Magistrate’s Court. The defect in the appeal provisions of the Act is that they are distinctly elliptical. The section states that the appeal may be in the nature of a rehearing but it does not say that it has to be. Furthermore, the Commissioner or his delegate does not have to state under the statute the reasons for his decision in writing. I think it would greatly contribute to clarity and brevity - which is always desirable in the law - in this field if the official who is in charge of the administration of this scheme and the determination of claims were required to state specifically why he refused or why he granted a claim in a case where a dispute is likely to be taken further.
There is another aspect of this legislation which I think calls for early review. It is in relation to the travelling provisions of the Act. Broadly speaking, the Act provides that if a worker was injured travelling to work he shall be in the same position as if his injury were sustained in the course of his employment. But the Act says that if the injury is sustained during or after a substantial interruption of the journey the claim shall be disallowed unless the Commissioner in his discretion, sees fit to accept it. The High Court has held in the last few years that the exercise by the Commissioner of his discretion under that proviso to the journeying section is unexaminable on appeal. I do not think this was the consequence intended by the legislature. I think it should be adverted to as soon as possible.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
” HANSARD “ REPORT.
Incorporation of Photographs.
– Earlier this evening, in the Committee of the Whole the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) was granted leave to incorporate three photographs in “Hansard “ on the condition that the difficulties of their reproduction could be overcome. I should like to point out that upon the institution of the daily “ Hansard “ in May 1955, it became impracticable for the Government Printer to insert in the “ Hansard “ report, graphs, maps, blocks, etc. as the preparation of these would unduly delay the issue of the publication. This would be so in this case. Furthermore, the incorporation of photographs in the “ Hansard “ report would be totally unprecedented. I remind honorable members that the primary purpose of “Hansard “ is to record the spoken word. In view of these facts I cannot authorise the incorporation of these photographs.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, in relation to the matter to which you have just referred, I might mention that at the time the request was made by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) the Minister, who was then at the table, approved of the request and the Committee conferred upon the honorable member the right to have these photographs incorporated in “ Hansard “. There was no objection to doing so. Now the Government, in the typical method by which it seeks to defeat the means that democracy gives us, denies this right. The Committee approved of these photographs being incorporated. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) could not be in the chamber tonight. We were told he was very busy and I would accept that. But the Minister then at the table was representing the Prime Minister and tonight we have the amazing situation that approval to incorporate these photographs in “ Hansard “ was sought, leave was granted by the committee and we are now told that the consent of the Minister is to be withdrawn by arbitrary means.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER__ Order!
The honorable member for Grayndler is incorrect. The honorable member raised a point of order in regard to a decision given by the Chair. I remind the honorable member for Grayndler of two points. The first is that the incorporation of matter in “ Hansard “ is the prerogative of the Presiding Officer of this House. Approval was given for the incorporation of these photographs in “ Hansard “ provided there were no difficulties asociated with it. This matter has been discussed. There are difficulties and I have given the decision and the reason for withdrawal of the permission. Secondly I would point out to the honorable member that there is precedent in regard to this matter in “ Hansard “, volume 165 at page 446. Mr. Speaker Nairn referred to the question of the insertion in “Hansard” of graphs and other blocks. He said -
There are precedents for the insertion of such matter. The practice must, however, be carefully watched in order to prevent abuse … it is essential that, although the House or the committee may have given its consent, final determination of whether unusual matter shall appear in “ Hansard “ shall be made by the presiding officer after consideration of the character of the matter . . .
That is the situation at this moment.
– In view of your ruling that it was a point of order that I raised previously I ask for leave of the House to make a statement in relation to the statement you have made.
Government supporters. - No.
– Leave is not granted.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I understand the situation the suggestion that this matter be incorporated in “ Hansard “ revolved around whether there were any technical difficulties. I suggest there are no technical difficulties which would prevent the publication of these pictures in “Hansard I think you are right in saying that there is a material difficulty in regard to having the photographs inserted in the daily “ Hansard “. But could not the situation be overcome in respect of the later issue of the weekly “ Hansard “? It is inconceivable that this Parliament should say that these photographs cannot be incorporated in a volume such as “ Hansard “ because of technical difficulties. It is conceivable that there might be difficulty in having the photographs printed in the daily “ Hansard “ but there should be no difficulty in having them incorporated in the fully revised “ Hansard “ published about a month later. Perhaps you could reconsider the decision you have made. As far as the question of a precedent is concerned what would happen if nobody changed a decision in our history? Let us create precedents. We live in a new age, not in the past.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was one who asked whether these photographs could be made freely available-
– I rise to order, Sir. By what right is the honorable member for Evans speaking now?
– He is crawling to the Chair.
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will maintain order. On the point of order raised by the honorable member for Grayndler, I suggest that the honorable member for Evans is speaking by “the same right that the honorable member for Lalor spoke a few moments ago.
– I was one who asked that these photographs be made freely available to all honorable members. 1 believe it is very important that all should see for themselves the kind of grounds on which the charges that have been made are based. ] suggest that the photographs in question disclose nothing like the taking over of a Bren gun carrier, any more than a photograph of a girl guide seated on a gun on a battleship indicates that the battleship is being taken over.
– On a point of order: The honorable member for Evans is now trying to re-open a discussion that closed earlier when the consideration of the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department was completed. 1 submit that he is totally out of order and 1 ask you to rule accordingly, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– Order! Rulings and decisions given by the Chair should not be canvassed. I sustain the ruling that I gave earlier concerning the difficulties associated with the incorporation in “ Hansard “ of the photographs in question. J reiterate that the incorporation will not be practicable and I do not authorise it.
Motion (by Mr. Snedden) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 wish to raise one or two matters relating to remarks made in this House yesterday by the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Bosman), who said -
Will somebody tell me when … the Commonwealth became solely responsible for social services in this country? 1 propose to bring the honorable member up to date by telling him how this Parliament and the Commonwealth Government came to be solely responsible for some social services. This is very important. Section 51 of the Australian Constitution provides -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: - (xxiii.) Invalid and old-age pensions:
This Government cannot dodge the provisions of that section of the Constitution. The sole responsibility for age and invalid pensions rests with this Parliament. In the course of discussions in this place over many months, we sought to have the present Government agree to make direct grants to State Governments and local government authorities to reimburse them for the cost of transport concessions, housing and other amenities for age and invalid pensioners. I should like to sec the honorable member for St. George now support that proposal, because it is the sole responsibility of this Government to provide completely for age and invalid pensioners. This Government’s refusal to reimburse State Governments and local government authorities for expenditure on schemes such as Meals on Wheels and rate rebates and transport concessions to pensioners indicates that it is not giving effect to the purposes laid down in the Constitution as its exclusive responsibility.
I am interested also in another aspect of the activities of the honorable member for St. George. I have received from the Association of Civilian Widows, over the signature of Mrs. G. Atherden, J.P., National Secretary of the Association, a letter dated 24th March 1964. The letter is headed “ National Division, Executive Committee, Room 307, ‘Aston House*, 297 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.” The letterhead lists the Life Governors of the Association as follows -
Mrs. Ivy Kent, W.A.
John Lewis, W.A. Apex Club
Len Bosman, N.S.W. Apex Club
I believe the last named gentleman to be identical with the honorable member for St. George. The National President of this Association is Mrs. E. Franks, J.P. After reading the letter, I propose to point out how the honorable member has himself refused, in discussions in this Parliament, to support by his vote proposals that he has asked other honorable members to support. The letter was as follows -
Dear Mr. Daly,
Following the increases in the social service benefits in the 1963 Federal Budget, we have studied the results of these increases as applied to civilian widows. While the A class widow received benefits compatible with other groups of pensioners the childrens’ allowances are still inadequate with no provision for an education allowance from the age of 12 years.
We now draw your attention to the B class widow. Although she may have property to (lie value of £2,020 and still be eligible for a full pension, to earn the permissible income of £3 10s. per week she is only permitted to have property to the value of £200. If she applied for the pension after 1956 a medical card is only issued providing she does not have an income in excess of £2 per week. In some States the eligibility for a transport concession relies on whether the pensioner holds a medical card.
This is paid for by the State Government without any assistance from the Commonwealth, I might interpolate. The letter continues -
You will see by this that the B class widow is greatly restricted.
The letter next contains a request - and I repeat that the honorable member for St. George is a life governor of this Association - stated as follows -
We wish to request your support to increase the children’s allowance to £1 10s. per week for each dependent child and an education allowance from the age of 12 years.
For (he B class widow we ask that they be permitted to have property to the value of not less than £500 without restriction to the medical benefits and permissible income.
Your interest in our past endeavours has been greatly appreciated and we seek your further support on the above matters.
Yours faithfully, (Mrs.) G. Atherden,
The point I make is that last night the honorable member for St. George did not advocate all the things which in this letter members on this side of the House are asked to support. He expects members on this side to support a request for an increase in the children’s allowance, yet he did not express by vote his support for it in this Parliament last night. When he mentioned the tremendous amount that was being spent on social services now and compared it with what was spent in 1949 he did not see fit to do more than refer to the subject matter of the request in the letter from the Association of which he is a life governor. I suggest to the association that the honorable member, instead of asking others to do it, should have given expression in this Parliament to the things which his Association evidently believes are necessary. With other members of the Parliament I condemn the pensioner medical benefits service and the means test applying to it. I think the treatment of widows and those generally in receipt of social services could not possibly be described as giving justice to this section of the community.
The point at issue, which should not be forgotten, is that a member of the Government who could give expression to this request and whose Government could give effect to it did not even fully support by his vote the proposals that his Association requested other members to support in this Parliament. I mention this so that the secretary of the Association and the Parliament will know that a member of the Association evidently does not think enough of the proposal to support it by vote in the Parliament. I suggest that when representations like this are received they will be sympathetically considered by members on this side of the House, but I remind Mrs. Atherden that at least one of the life governors of her Association does not think the request worth more than passing mention in a debate in this Parliament when he is discussing social services and all that this Government is supposed to have done. Instead of comparing what is being done with what was clone in 1949 and back beyond that, let him tell us what ought to be done and what is not being done and what he wants done as a Government member, ff we were in government these things would not have to be requested, because the Labour Party stands firmly for social justice in the community. It is a good thing occasionally to remind people that Liberal members are all talk when in opposition and most ineffective when in government. We should remember that when people like Mrs. Atherden and others request the lifting of the iniquitous means test on medical treatment for widows they are speaking for 100,000 pensioners, quite apart from widows, who are suffering today as a result of this imposition which the honorable member for St. George supported by his vote in the Parliament last night. I could not let the occasion go tonight without reminding the honorable member that this Government is responsible for providing everything which invalid and age pensioner’s require. There is no responsibility whatever oh the States to provide it, and the only States which are doing so, in the real sense, are those led by Labour Governments. This Government should reimburse those State Governments for their expenditure in that respect. I hope that as the honorable member gives his approval and support for letters of this kind to be sent for most commendable objectives, when he is in Parliament and speaking on the measures he will set an example, at least by supporting them not only by an oration, but also by his vote when the time comes.
I hope that at some future time we can give the honorable member another opportunity in debate, by moving an amendment, to support this point of view. Then we will find whether he has merited the life governorship and really believes in the things he has espoused in the letter. If the civilian widows expect to get any results along the lines they have suggested, judging from the type of support given by one of the sponsors of the letter they will have an extra long wait for the justice which has so long been denied them.
I felt it my responsibility tonight to point out the shortcomings of one Government supporter who probably won his seat on the votes, amongst others, of pensioners and widows. In a very short time in this Parliament he has forgotten all about them and will not even suport by vote the policy he has advocated in writing to other members.
– May I indicate to the House that I have noted the remarks of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and that I shall reply to them in due course.
– I would like to draw the attention of the House to a curious parallel between events which are now occurring and events which occurred a mercifully long time ago, when a Labour Government was in power. In 1942 there was a racket known as the Australia First performance. In Western Australia there were a few misguided extremists. An agent provocateur - a Communist whose name, I think, was Thomas -was then employed in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. At that time the Attorney-General was Dr. Evatt. Thomas was sent to Western Australia in order to incite these misguided fools into excesses which were in every way silly and regrettable. On the basis of those actions, propaganda was cooked up against people in Sydney who were not in any way connected with them. In this House, to its shame the Labour Government of that time raised a great pother and to-do and gaoled a number of people who were subsequently found to be completely innocent of wrong doing.
The Australia First scandal should be more carefully investigated. The Communist agent provocateur in the Attorney-General’s Department - then, as I say, administered by Dr. Evatt - was sent to Western Australia and used to implicate people in Sydney who had no knowledge of the events which occurred. There is a curious parallel today with the so-called Ustashi. Agents provocateurs are inciting a lunatic fringe to actions which are in every way regrettable. On the basis of those provocations, people who are completely innocent and ignorant of what is going on are being charged - again with the concurrence of the Labour Party - with implication in the events.
There is, I think, a lunatic fringe among the Croats. I think it is also true that this lunatic fringe is being incited by Communists. It is obviously true that the Labour Party, particularly through the mouth of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), is endeavouring to use these events, whether knowingly or not, which react in the interests of the Communists to so besmirch a large body of people who know nothing of them. There is a curious parallel-
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Mackellar that the matter of the Yugoslav migrant organisations is the subject of a motion on the notice paper to take note of a ministerial statement. That statement covers much of the subject matter now being raised by the honorable member. I suggest that the honorable member in his speech tonight take particular care not to refer to the subject matter of the motion that is on the notice paper.
– I will take as much care not to refer to this subject as was exercised by the honorable member for Yarra-
– That is an insult to the Chair.
– What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Mackellar that I have suggested he take care not to refer to the subject matter of the motion on the notice paper.
– Very good. If that be -your ruling, Sir, I will postpone my charges against the honorable member, for Yarra - they are real charges - until a more convenient time, when 1 shall sustain and prosecute them. .
– Earlier today when I read in a newspaper the story - I have not been able to verify it but at least it appears to be correct - that Captain R. J. Robertson of the Royal Australian Navy had submitted his resignation to the Naval Board I asked the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to advise the Acting Leader of the House, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), that I wished to raise this matter on the adjournment tonight and that I would like the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) to be in the chamber when I spoke. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition discharged his responsibilities and the Acting Leader of the House told me that he had advised the Minister for the Navy that I intended to raise this issue. I am sorry that the Minister for the Navy is not present in this chamber. The Minister has now entered the chamber. He has been piped aboard.
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the fact that this matter is also the subject of a motion on the notice paper.
– Order! When I interrupted the speech of the honorable member for Mackellar I suggested that he should not refer to matters that were referred to in a ministerial statement which was the subject of a motion on the notice paper. The matter being raised now by the Leader of the Opposition is not the subject of a motion on the notice paper.
– I would like the Minister for the Navy to tell the House what he knows about the newspaper reports that this distinguished gentleman has decided to resign his position in the Navy.
I will be quite frank about the matter. Yesterday I sent a message to Captain Robertson - 1 have never mct him - urging him not to resign . because of the great sacrifice that he and his wife and children will make if he does resign. I do not know any more about the matter than I have read in the newspapers but I hope that the Minister will tell the House something, because when we have the debate promised by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) we should have available to us the fullest possible information on the matter.
Now let me refer to the Australia First Movement. I am one of the few people in the chamber tonight who knows something about this movement. The person responsible for the internment of members of the Australia First Movement in Western Australia was a man named Richards. Mc was responsible also for the discovery of the desire of Petrov to defect. Was he a Communist agent in one case and not in another? Was he a Communist agent in both cases, or was he a Communist agent in neither case? I remember that the people in New South Wales who were reputed to be members of the Australia First Movement were in no way connected with the members of the Australia First Movement in Western Australia. In my view, those people should not have been interned. That opinion of mine is included in “ Hansard “ and was expressed when I was a Minister of State many years ago. I pleaded in this Parliament for the right of these people to pursue their case through the courts.
Dr. Evatt, whose name has been bandied’ around tonight, was overseas at the time when it was decided to appoint a commissioner, Sir Thomas Clyne, to investigate the activities of the Australia First Movement which included Keith Bath, E. W. Mason and the Crowleys. Sir Thomas Clyne recommended that they should be paid a certain amount of money. I was never satisfied with that recommendation and I said so. But above all, I was not satisfied that the Commonwealth should apply the Statute of Limitations against them so that they could have their case decided in the High Court. These facts are on record. The Attorney-General was away. The Acting Attorney-General of the time took the advice of the Crown Law officers. I thought that it was a wrong action by the Crown Law officers to advise the Acting AttorneyGeneral in that way. He acted in perfectly good faith. But I remember that the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) as Leader of the Opposition at that time attacked the Chifley Government because of the decision to plead the Statute of Limitations. I remember the former honorable member for Parramatta, Sir Howard Beale, and the former honorable member for Warringah, Sir Percy Spender, promising that if their party became the Government of Australia they would allow these unfortunate people to plead their case before the Hight Court. But when the party of which these honorable gentlemen were members did become the Australian Government, they did not back up their promise, because they said it was too late to do so. It was only some six to twelve months after the time when the Labour Government of which I was a member made its decision on this matter. If there is any blame attachable to anybody for not clearing the names of the members of the Australia First Movement in New South Wales, it attaches to those who promised to do something When they became the Government, but who did nothing and who went back on their promises after their party had attained office.
I do not mind the Australia First Movement business being brought up and aired in this House again. If the honorable member for Mackellar is really interested in this matter, I hope that, even at this late stage, he will persuade his Government to waive this right before the High Court under the Statute of Limitations and let these people clear their names completely, even though they were cleared by Sir Thomas Clyne and received damages to which they were entitled because of the activities of people who did, perhaps, as they thought they should do, but who certainly, in doing what they did, perpetrated a wrong and a harm to the people I have named. If that action can be taken everybody ought to be satisfied. But I come back to the point I wish to make: It was not Communists agents who put these people into gaol in Western Australia and the others into gaol in New South Wales. It was the same man, Richards, who was the prime operator in, or the gentleman most intimately concerned wilh the Petrov case. That gentleman, and I cast no aspersions on him, is the second in command of the Australian security service al this moment.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I desire to make a personal explanation. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has implied, I think, that I said that Mr. Richards was the person responsible. Now, I did not say that. Mr. Richards may have been nominally the officer in charge of framing the case, but the man to whom I was referring was a Communist from New Zealand who had insinuated himself into the Attorney-General’s Department, and who came over to Australia as an agent provocateur.
– What was his name?
– I think his name was Thomas. His name certainly was not Richards. I do hot think and have never thought that Mr. Richards is anything else but a proper Australian and in no way a Communist. I want to make it quite clear that I was not referring to Mr. Richards. The Leader of the Opposition has put words into my mouth that I did not use.
.- I think that, for the sake of the reputation of Mr. Richards, I should say something. Although this matter has nothing to do with my duties as Minister, I do happen to know a good deal about the details of it. By and large; what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said will stand verification from the records. The situation was this: There was a body known as the Australia First Movement which had been holding meetings in Sydney. In the course of holding meetings in Sydney it received unfriendly attention from members of the Communist Party who attended these meetings and tried to break them up. For this, and perhaps other reasons, the security people at the time had the Australia First Movement in Sydney under notice. At the time they had it under notice, they became aware of something happening in Perth. The something that was happening in Perth was that two or three persons who I think could rightly be described as crackpots had got an idea that the Japanese would win the war and that they would be the quislings who would welcome the Japanese when they came in.
The Security Service, becoming aware of this, and also becoming aware of the fact that these people had written a letter to the Australia First Movement asking for. literature, did get someone who could be rightly described as an agent provocateur to go over there. This person whose name was Thomas, and who at one time did go to Perth and undoubtedly played a rather ignoble role - one assumes on orders - did lead on these folks into actions that they otherwise might not have taken and then, having led them on, was instrumental in having them convicted. Mr. Richards was a member of the Security Service but he was not playing the role of trying to provoke or construct the situation with which he had to deal as security officer.
I think there is some doubt as to what the true character of this person who has been referred to as Thomas was. It is true that he had been in the Communist Party, but there was some doubt, as disclosed in the report, as to whether he had been put there as a plant in the same way as he was put into this little group in Perth as a plant. I am not going to be tempted at this stage to inter into a discussion of the political reputation of all those concerned with the happenings and I earnestly suggest to the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who has interjected, that he do not attempt to raise it because there are certain aspects of this case that do not reflect a great deal of credit on some of the principal actors.
– Actors outside the Parliament.
– Inside politics and outside politics. I only refer the honorable member to the Clyne report which was a temperate and judicious report, perhaps a kindly report. If one reads it carefully, I do not think one’s assessment of certain of the people engaged in that affair will be very high. Mr. Richards certainly did not play any part in promoting the situation or in making the plant, but he was a security officer who, doing his duty, was partly instrumental in bringing these people to prosecution. The people in Perth were arrested and prosecuted in the criminal court.
– For threatening to assassinate the Cabinet.
– Or something of the sort. At the same time, under the cloak or excuse of these events in Perth the larger part of the people in the Australia First movement in Sydney were placed under detention. I agree with the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that that was an unjustified act. The Australia First people in Sydney had not been connected with this conspiracy in Perth. They had no knowledge of it. Although they had been under security notice they had not done anything which would justify them being placed under detention. To place them under detention was a mistake, and one of those mistakes that are made in the heat and excitement of war. lt was a most regrettable one. I agree with what the Leader of the Opposition has said about his own part in protesting about several of these matters at a time when other voices were silent.
– There are only a couple of things I wish to mention about the Australia First case in Western Australia and in New South Wales over 20 years ago. I recollected that this matter had been debated in the House almost eight years ago and 1 looked up what I said on that occasion, based on the Clyne report. There are only a couple of things that I wish to add to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). The first is that there were four persons tried in Western Australia before the Chief Justice, by a jury. Two of them were acquitted and two were convicted. It may be that but for the hysteria of the time there would not have been as many convictions, or any convictions. But in Western Australia there was a jury trial.
– They were not Australia First members.
– No. The only other thing I wish to correct relates to the reference by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) to Dr. Evatt. I have not been able, in the time since this was mentioned, to get a copy of the Clyne report from the Library, but I said in the debate - and 1 believe I was relying on the Clyne report in this matter - that at the time these persons in New South Wales were interned Dr. Evatt was not in Australia, but was in the United States. The other references to the part played by the persons whose names have been mentioned accord with my recollection at that time and before. I merely wished to mention what had not been made plain by previous speakers, namely that
Dr. Evatt was not in Australia at the time when the New South Wales Australia First people were interned, and therefore was not a party to the decision to intern them.
The other thing I wish to say concerns the Croat disturbances. I particularly deplore the references that the honorable member for Mackellar made to the honorable for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) inciting and inflaming members of the Croat community. These references came from the honorable member for Mackellar with particularly bad grace because it is only about nine or ten months since he and the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) attended many meetings of Yugoslavs on the borders of my electorate, within the neighbouring electorate of Macarthur. What they said and what they did on those occasions can only be regarded as incitement and inflammation. I was not present at the meetings, but many persons who were at the meetings . have reported to me what these honorable members said and did at those meetings.
– That is hearsay.’
– It is direct evidence. Surely you do not expect me to attend these meetings. I am informed of this by people who were at the meetings, and these ai c people whose views and whose testimony on other occasions have been accepted in representations I have made to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) and other Ministers on security matters and so on. I have no reason to think that my informants were not telling the truth on this occasion, as Ministers and officials in other circumstances and on other occasions had accepted that they were telling the truth.
The honorable member for Mackellar does his cause a very great deal of harm by giving automatic support to any cause that says it is anti-Communist. Not every person who says he is an anti-Communist is a democrat or a patriot. This certainly applies to a very great number of the Yugoslavs who describe themselves as Croats. I am going to use the term “Yugoslav”. Every Australian Government for the last 45 years has used the term “ Yugoslavia “ for that country and the term “ Yugoslav “ for a citizen of that country. It is the official term used in Australia by all governments for the last four and a half decades. The term “Croat” is a neologism which arose during the war. It was used during the war by quislings and by a puppet state set up by Italy and Germany at that time.
– Who said “Nonsense “?
– I did.
– There should be no instructive sympathy in this House or in this country for the persons who describe themselves as Croats, who were supporters of Pavelic, who displayed his flag and who used his emblems. Pavelic was a quisling in the sense in which we used that term during the last war. He was not only a particularly ignoble quisling; he was also a particularly brutal quisling. None of us should try to cover up for him now or for those people who purport to venerate his memory. People who celebrate, in the presence of Ministers or not, the national day of Croatia - that is, the anniversary of the occasion on which Pavelic proclaimed the Croatian state in Zagreb when the troops of Hitler and Mussolini arrived there - are in fact inflaming people who are migrants to this country.
There are three very grave and urgent circumstances in this situation. The first is that for the first time in the memory of any of us there has been the carrying of bombs and other lethal weapons in public places in this country. Furthermore, people have been beaten, assaulted and threatened.
Mir. DEPUTY SPEAKER.- Order! I remind the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that he is getting rather close to the subject matter of a motion that is on the notice paper. I referred the honorable member for Mackellar to this motion. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is anticipating a debate on this subject.
– I respect your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but at the same time I understand that this attitude is enforced by the Chair only when there is a reasonable chance of a matter on the notice paper coming up for prompt debate. We already have an assurance that this matter can be debated in the Estimates debate, even if the statement is not debated. There has been no proposal to debate this statement in the next week or, I believe, the following week. We will be in adjournment for the week after that. If you insist on your point of view, Sir, of course I will observe it. But in the absence of an assurance that there will be a prompt debate on the statement, we should be allowed to refer- briefly to these matters which arise incidentally during the proceedings of today.
– I point out to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the occupant of the Chair cannot anticipate the programme of the House. In addition, th’i Chair gave a similar warning to the honorable member for Mackellar earlier in this debate.
– Will you permit me two concluding sentences? The first concerns the urgent and grave aspect of this matter. For the first time in the memory of any of us, or in the country’s history, I believe there has been planning for subversion in another country taking place within our country. The third and concluding aspect is that there has been a distinct campaign within our country to raise among migrants from Yugoslavia and neighbouring countries - other postwar migrants from Europe - the racial, religious and political disputes which bedevilled the Balkans throughout the last century, and particularly during the last two wars.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The Deputy Leader of the the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) relying, apparently, on hearsay, said that at a meeting on the borders of his electorate I and the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. (Jeff Bate) had advocated racial division and hatred. That is completely and utterly untrue. At no time there or anywhere else have I incited the Croats against the Serbs or the Serbs against the Croats. I have said that both should combine against the Communists. If this is what he means, then let him wear the cap that fits him.
.- -I want to return again to this subject of the photographs and the hope that they will be made widely available to everybody who wants to see them. I want to address myself for a few moments to these photographs and, first of all, what they show. The first is a photograph of a scene showing young men in white singlets, shorts and sandshoes. Each has a badge on his chest, a shield with red and white squares, which I am told is the Yugoslav badge. If you like to reverse the red and white squares, some people tell me it means something relating to the Utashi. This badge, in whichever form it were to appear, would mean nothing to 95 per cent, of Australians.
The second photograph shows about eight of these young men on a troop carrier. One or two of them are holding light automatic weapons. It is clearly a posed picture. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ caption which is underneath it reads: “ These men are Y ugoslav campers inspecting a personnel carrier “. The other photograph shows two men in a kind of military uniform. They may or may not be Australian military personnel. They are crouching over an undisclosed object on the ground. It could be a transistor set tuned to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or it could be a pet dog. Three or four young men dressed as I have described are watching what is proceeding.
These arc the photographs which have been flung into this debate on many occasions inside the House and outside it as proof conclusive that there was collaboration between the Australian Military Forces and Fascist forces training for their own particular sect purposes outside or inside Australia. The first questions that J would like people to ask themselves are: How did these photographs come into existence? How was it that they were taken at this precise moment - one of them a posed photograph of young men sitting on a personnel carrier?
The other matter I want people to think about is the question: So what? When the Citizen Military Forces give demonstrations, as they do frequently, or are on manoeuvres or are in camp, it is a common policy to invite groups of people to inspections. I had my photograph taken recently looking through the reflection sight of a 40 millimetre light anti-aircraft gun, commonly known as a Bofors gun, and the photograph was published in the local Press in Sydney. We have seen photographs of girl guides and boy scouts sitting behind guns on visiting cruisers. Had they taken over the ships? I do not know what kind of innuendo the Opposition would read into this, but the point I make is that I believe the case generally for these photographs was one of planned and deliberate exploitation of this attitude of the C.M.F. to welcome people anywhere, particularly young men of this age group, lt is in the vital interests of this country to attract young men in every kind of way, in the hope that they eventually will add to the recruiting programme of the C.M.F. When I see this group of men dressed as these young men were, I believe there was behind this whole affair a deliberate attempt to exploit the situation, to take photographs of the kind that have been shown to us in the House tonight so that they might be used for the purposes for which the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has used them tonight. These photographs were taken for propaganda purposes by a group of people who availed themselves of our defence service activities for purposes not in the interests of the country.
– I want to address myself, in a manner which 1 hope will be regarded as moderate and temperate, to the re-organisation of the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea. ] have a feeling that this matter, which has tremendous potential consequences for the people of Australia and the people of Papua and New Guinea, could well have been handled clumsily, and I think it is a matter of such importance that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) might pay the Parliament the courtesy of making a statement’ about the pros and cons of the situation.
We concede that there is a disparity between the incomes of the people of the Territory and those of people in Australia and that there could well be a problem that needs a good deal of consideration. The House of Assembly was opened in the Territory three months ago by the Governor-General. It replaced the less democratic Legislative Council, and I think all honorable members hope that the House of Assembly represents a genuine endeavour to bestow on the people of the Territory a fair degree of democracy. The 64- member Parliament, with a majority of native members, elected by universal suffrage, was obviously entitled to an opportunity to debate serious matters. Last Thursday a new ordinance came into effect which concerned the re-organisation of the Public Service. As can be realised by everybody, this has a vital bearing on the living standards of the people of the Territory. The unfortunate fact is - and I think this was a very serious mistake - that the House of Assembly has been denied the opportunity to debate this matter. We have already heard that a number of the parliamentarians, including John Guise, have criticised this development. It is true that the Legislative Council dealt with this as long ago as November of last year, and only last Thursday or thereabouts the Minister in Canberra approved the ordinance. I think that if we wanted to alienate public opinion, and to alienate members of the House of Assembly in the Territory, this would be the best way to go about it - to deny them the opportunity to come to grips with all the ramifications of this issue.
The new ordinance re-organises the Public Service of the Territory and slashes salaries for natives entering the Service. It cuts salaries by as much as 45 per cent. It certainly denies the principle of equal pay for equal work. In fact the pay for the indigenous people will be about one-third of that given to Australians doing the same work. There would be something wrong with us if we did not anticipate some kind of reaction to this ordinance, not only from the people of the Territory but also from people in many other countries. No doubt the United Nations will come to hear about this. This Parliament should be accorded the opportunity to consider the matter very carefully.
There are several kinds of discrimination involved. First, as is apparent, there is discrimination between the Australians and the indigenous employees. Then there is the unfortunate discrimination between the indigenes who are already employed and those who are to be employed in the future. We can imagine the animosity that would be created in our own Public Service if we applied two levels of salary, one to those who joined the Public Service early and the other to those who joined later. I believe that the proposed salary rates are the height of folly.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) raised a matter this morning which I believe is worthy of a great deal of consideration - the number of people being trained in anticipation of the salaries and conditions that they would receive when they ultimately had the opportunity to take employment in the Public Service of the Territory. A breach of contract, in effect, is involved here. I was pleased to learn that the Minister is prepared to consider this matter. I hope that he gives it very careful consideration and does everything possible to effect a reconciliation.
The four divisions will be reduced to three and the new designations will be “ local officers “ and “ overseas officers “. The new salary rates are interesting. In the Third Division the base rate for adults will be £220 a year rising by eight annual increments of £20 each to £380 - not a princely sum by any means. In the Second Division the base rate will be £320 a year and this will rise by ten annual increments of £20 each to £520. These salary rates are thrown into sharp relief when you relate them to the salaries to be paid to Australians working in the Territory. Obviously there will be a widening of the gulf that already exists in living standards. This is another matter that is worthy of a great deal of thought.
The Public Service Commissioner, Mr. G. D. Somers, has expressed the hope that commerce and industry will follow the example set by the Territory Public Service and adopt these- discriminatory wages. Here again it is possible that an arrangement will emerge whereby those who are at present in employment - I am speaking now of indigenes- will receive a higher salary than will those who enter the Service subsequently.
Two hundred native teachers have already marched some seven miles to protest. The President of the Port Moresby Workers, Oala-Rarua, has also protested in these terms -
Natives were, saying that if Australia could not afford to keep raising the living standards of the people by progressively raising wages, then it should get out. There are other countries that would be willing to take over Papua-New Guinea.
Another native said -
This is the beginning of a racial breakdown.
Experienced Native Affairs officers have viewed this development most critically. One senior Administration officer said -
This is the end for the white man. Who could expect Papuans and New Guineans to take this without putting up a fight. We train them to look for belter standards of Jiving then cut their feet from under them.
All of these statements are quoted freely in newspapers that are available in the Library.
I hope that the Minister will give some explanation of the situation. Many people would be justified in wondering whether this is some declaration of the Government’s intention to quit New Guinea. Is there any great urgency to resolve this problem in such a clumsy way? Was it necessary for us to deny the right of members of the House of Assembly to thrash out this matter? Can Australia afford the luxury of this experiment? We have heard on many occasions in this Parliament talk about the hip pocket nerve, how this is often the motivating factor in behaviour and bow this is the most sensitive of all nerves. Obviously the same kind of consideration will prevail in the Territory.
Will the Minister make a statement to the House on this matter? Even at this late stage, even though some problems may be involved, even though there may be some short term disadvantages, will he afford the House of Assembly the democratic right to discuss a matter which involves racial discrimination and which obviously affects in many ways the standard of living of the indigenous people? We know that a disparity in wages has existed for a long time. We know that in relation to the Bulolo Timber Company - these figures were obtained from the former Minister for Territories, Mr. Hasluck - 205 natives were paid a wage of not more than 8s. 9d. a week. At that time the average wage for Australians employed in the same establishment was £30 19s. a week. On many occasions the former Minister for Territories gave assurances of the Government’s intention to take whatever steps were necessary to minimise examples of discrimination such as the one I have taken. It is surprising that these recent steps have been taken fairly impetuously, without this Parliament being afforded an opportunity to discuss them at length and without the House of Assembly being given a similar opportunity.
– A short time ago, when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was addressing the House on Yugoslavian affairs, I was constrained to make the remark: “ Non sense.” As the honorable gentleman looked both surprised and aggrieved, I feel that I should demonstrate to the House the truth of my remark, as it may be of some benefit to the House. The honorable gentleman remarked that the word “Croatian” is a neologism and implied that the idea of a Croatian people is something which has arisen perhaps since the First World War. I think that was the general drift of his thesis. But this idea is traceable back at least to the fourteenth century and is identifiable.
This whole matter started somewhere in the fourteenth century when the Turks defeated the Serbian nation and forced the Serbs westward, where they sought asylum from the Hungarian nation. The Hungarians were very pleased to receive them. Later, as the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Hungarians granted them quite a sizeable area of no man’s land as a buffer to the Turkish nation in its onslaughts against the peoples of the West.
– Was that the War of the Roses?
– This is important. If the honorable member does not want to hear the facts he can stick his head back into the sand. The point is that the area of no man’s land which was granted to the Serbs had been occupied by the Croatians and the Croatians, in the face of the onslaughts of the Turks, had vacated the area. So the Serbs, in fact, occupied territory which previously was occupied by the Croatian people. That shows that the Croatian people extend back to at least the fourteenth century, and probably earlier, although the incidents about which I am speaking occurred about 150 years later.
That has been the starting point for the whole trouble. The Serbians and the Croatians there had the makings of a fine racial antagonism, which were magnified by their different traditions and, most regretnbly, by their different religions. This trouble has been smouldering ever since that time. It found its full fruition, not during the last world war, but a little after the middle of the last century when a gentleman named Starcevic began advocating the wholesale slaughter of the Serbian people.
One of the catch-cries at that time was “ Serbs to the willows “ which meant “ hang the Serbs “.
This is just another example of human nature at its darkest and blackest. It is a characteristic of the human being which has been visible ever since man began to be civilised. But it is none the less reprehensible; it is ghastly; it makes one shudder. Nevertheless, it is undeniably a feature of the human race that such things happen. The example which admittedly occured during the last world war is one of the blackest examples, but it did not owe its origins to the last world war. In fact, the Croatian people are traceable back for hundreds of years, and this persecution, one of the other - no-one has a monopoly of it - was very evident at least a little after the middle of the last century.
– I shall not occupy the time of the House for very long. I wish merely to make a statement in reply to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). Today I answered the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) very fully, I believe, on the purposes and general principles of the changes in the Public Service of Papua and New Guinea. 1 do not intend to cover that ground again. The honorable member for Hughes suggests that we should debate that matter in this House. To debate the matter is the prerogative of the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea. As he mentioned, this measure was put through the old Legislative Council.
Considerable work has been involved in this reorganisation and it has only just been completed. It was not intended to evade a debate in the House of Assembly. In fact, this measure was available for debate on the last afternoon on which the House sat. I am not suggesting for one moment that we could have expected the Assembly to debate a matter which was just available for debate. The House of Assembly will, at its next session, have an opportunity to debate this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.12 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated -
i asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What were the (a) total values (b) total quantities and (c) countries of origin in respect of the following commodities imported into Australia during the year 1963-64- (i) Fruit, all varieties, fresh and processed; (ii) vegetables, all varieties, fresh and processed; (iii) poultry, frozen and processed?
– The. Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question -
Note - Statistics of commodities from countries for which trade was valued at less than £20,000 in the year have been grouped.
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration excludes Aborigines from the wage rates and terms of employment fixed for station hands under the Federal Pastoral Award?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
In the Federal Pastoral Industry Award Aborigines are excluded from the definition of “ Station hands” used for the purpose of this Award.
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What was the basic wage in (a) each State. and (b) Australia in each of the years from 1959 to 1964, inclusive?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The following were the basic wage rates in (a) each Slate and (b) Australia in each of the years from 1959 to 1964, inclusive-
Royal Australian Navy. (Question No. 436.)
s asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honor able member’s questions are as follows -
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
Northern Territory and (b) all zones, entitled as such, to taxation concessions?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
In the Northern Territory there is legislative provision for assistance in cases of hardship. (Question No. 510.)
n asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Asbestos and Plastics. (Question No. 481.)
e asked the Minister for
National Development, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Wittenoom (Western Australia)
Baryulgil (New South Wales)
Lionel and Sloansville (Western Australia).
Wittenoom is by far the largest producer, but it produces crocidolite asbestos, which is unsuitable for synthetic-base tiles.
r asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 September 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640917_reps_25_hor43/>.