25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. J. R. FRASER presented a petition from certain students of Australian tertiary institutions relating to the deletion from the Constitution of certain words discriminating against Aborigines in section 51.
Petition received and read.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. Jack.
Jet Aircraft at Essendon Airport.
Mr. STOKES presented a petition from certain electors of the Divisions of Maribyrnong and Lalor praying that the Commonwealth Government take suitable action to control or otherwise alleviate the disturbance caused by Boeing 727 jet aircraft using the north-south runway at Essendon Airport.
Petition received and read.
Teachers’ Training College in Canberra.
Mr. J. R. FRASER presented a petition from certain residents of the Australian Capital Territory praying that the House should debate the necessity for the establishment of a teachers’ training college in Canberra.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the
Prime Minister whether the Auditor-General is completely free to supply information, when requested to do so by any member of the Parliament, covering any item of expenditure from public funds. If he is not, what restrictions are placed on him, and what are the reasons for such restrictions?
– The answer, of course, in the first instance is: I do not know. In order to answer the question it would be necessary to have a look at the Audit Act and to consider what the technical position is. I will have that done and
I will advise the honorable member of the result.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Immigration. Has permission been given to Mount Goldsworthy Mining Associates to employ Japanese on port works in Western Australia? Is Mount Goldsworthy Mining Associates a foreign company consisting of 66) per cent. American interests and 33i per cent. United Kingdom interests? Is the Minister aware that Australian engineers, artisans and workmen have achieved great success in the construction of ports all around Australia? If permission to employ Japanese has been granted, will the Minister give further consideration to the achievements of Australians in this field and use his endeavours to keep this work an Australian undertaking?
– Insofar as that question applies to the Department of Immigration, I myself have nc knowledge of any application of the nature suggested by the honorable member having been received. However, I will make inquiries and let him know the result. The question, insofar as it relates to the development of the mine, ownership of the capital of the company and so on, should be addressed to my colleague, the Minister for National Development.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, follows upon the unanimous resolution of this House last Thursday advocating closer links between Australia and New Zealand. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Is it possible to achieve more and closer parliamentary links with New Zealand? Would it be practicable and desirable to invite a delegation from the New Zealand Parliament to visit this Parliament? If such an invitation were to be issued by you, Mr. Speaker, would the Prime Minister give you an assurance that facilities would be provided for the New Zealanders whom you invited?
– As honorable members know, there is to be a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting in New Zealand and a delegation will be going from this Parliament. On the general question, I myself strongly favour closer contacts with New Zealand at the parliamentary level. I have had some discussions of an inconclusive kind about this in the past. I will take another opportunity to continue those discussions. I am perfectly certain that there would be value in an increased knowledge on both sides of the Tasman.
– Is the Minister for Housing aware that, taking rebates into account, housing insurance premiums under the War Service Homes Act are less than one-eighth of those charged by insurance companies? Has the war service homes insurance scheme built up a substantial surplus - approximately £850,000 - despite its low premiums? If it has, does that indicate that premiums charged by insurance companies are excessive, when related to the risks involved? If the answer to the last question is in the affirmative, will the Minister seek the reduction of such premiums in the interests of home owners throughout Australia? Alternatively, will he permit his Department to extend a scheme similar to the war service homes insurance scheme to home owners outside of the War Service Homes Division’s present field?
– The war service homes insurance scheme, of course, has been a great success. It must be appreciated, however, that it applies to a very limited group of easily assessible risks. It is not my function to answer questions on matters connected with insurance of other houses. The matter of insurance comes under the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Treasurer. Any wider scheme such as that suggested by the honorable member would have to be given very close consideration by the Treasurer. From a general point of view it is a great mistake to draw conclusions from the operations of a particular scheme and apply them generally over a wider field where many of the conditions and risks involved could be entirely different in character.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. Could additional dams to retain large storages of water for irrigation purposes be con structed on the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers systems? If so, is the Minister aware of any plans for the construction of dams by the statutory authorities controlling the waters of those Rivers?
– As the honorable member knows we are at present constructing two large storages in the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchment areas. I refer to the Chowilla Dam, which will be the greatest dam in Australia with about 5 million acre feet of water, and the Blowering Dam. When those storages are completed the total storage in the Murray and Murrumbidgee areas will be more than 10 million acre feet. The building of any further dams on the Murrumbidgee would lie within the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Government. The Victorian Government is at present building a dam on the Buffalo River. It has a small stage operation now under way and will be building a larger dam later. Further investigations are always being carried out, but I would point out to the honorable member that at present about 80 per cent, of the waters that flow in the Murray and Murrumbidgee are controlled. Any further storages might be very expensive propositions. In addition the Snowy Mountains Authority will divert up to 2 million acre feet inland over and above the 10 million acre feet held in the storages to which I have referred.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether eight elected members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory yesterday walked out of the Council in disgust at the Government’s treatment of requests made to it by the Council for a voice in the allocation of funds, the right to elect members to the Aministrator’s Council and the substitution of non-elected members for elected members in the Council? The only concession which the Government has offered is to allow the Council to elect its own President, but this adds nothing to the Council’s powers. In view of the protest will the Minister meet elected members in an endeavour to agree upon a more realistic basis for the satisfactory working of the Council along the lines provided for in respect of the Legislative Council of Papua and New Guinea?
– There has been a walkout of eight elected members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. The honorable member has suggested that this was done more or less as a protest against the Government’s failure to agree to many of the Council’s requests. Of course, the requests to which the honorable member referred were only some of the overall requests made. The main request was for greater powers for the Council in responsible and executive government, to be extended in the future to those of full executive and responsible government. The Government believes that the time is not ripe to take such a drastic step forward. I remind honorable members of some of the physical features of the Northern Territory. It is an area of more that 500,000 square miles - very much larger than the combined areas of New South Wales and Victoria. The population of the Territory is 47,000 including Aborigines. There are at present 15,000 names on the electoral roll. It has been suggested to the Council that local government activities be extended and that it might take over government enterprises in the Territory as a preliminary step towards further powers in government control. As the latter part of the honorable member’s question raises a matter of policy, I am not in a position to answer it in these circumstances.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the honorable gentleman seen a report that the Australian Wool Board will give details of the proposed reserve price scheme for the marketing of wool in a series of broadcasts over commercial radio stations? Has the Board accepted financial responsibility for past broadcasts relating to the scheme? If so, did the Minister give approval to the Board under the provisions of section 24 (1.) (c) of the Wool Industry Act? Has the honorable gentleman given approval to the Board under that provision to undertake the proposed broadcasts?
– I have seen a statement in the newspapers similar to that mentioned by the honorable member. The matter was referred to me by an honorable member, together with a legal opinion regarding the action taken on a previous occasion. I referred the matter to the
Attorney-General, who assured me that nothing had been done contrary to the provisions of the Act. The honorable member asked whether I had, in advance, approved of the Board’s action. To date I have had no request to give approval for such action.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that interstate airlines operate their regular flights by scheduled services? Do special nights take priority over scheduled services when those services are cancelled without notice because of operational difficulties? If so, why? Is it reasonable for passengers, especially those in transit, at capital city airports who are booked on scheduled flights to be delayed hour after hour while numerous special flights leave for the same destination? Will the Minister have inquiries made of Trans-Australia Airlines to ascertain why so many people were stranded for up to six hours last Sunday in ideal flying conditions and why so little interest was taken by the airline in the movement of stranded passengers in these circumstances?
– At Sydney and Melbourne.
– This obviously is not a matter that comes under my jurisdiction. Consequently, I would not know the reasons for the delay. I will make inquiries of the Minister for Civil Aviation, who is in another place, and as soon as I have the full story I will pass it on to the honorable member.
– I address my question to the Attorney-General. I refer to the fact that the Third Commonwealth and Empire Law Conference, which has been arranged by the Law Council of Australia, is to commence in Sydney in the latter part of August of this year. This important conference will be attended by many distinguished overseas lawyers, including, I believe, the Law Ministers and Chief Justices of most, if not all, of the countries of the Commonwealth. I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether the Government will find it possible to take advantage of the presence of these overseas visitors in Australia to arrange for them, or some of them, to include a visit to the National Capital in their itinerary.
– A convention will be held in Sydney later this year. In my view, it will be the greatest event in Australia’s legal history. Many hundreds of lawyers from all over the British Commonwealth will attend. The visitors will include judges and Law Ministers. The Government has taken a very real interest in this matter. Indeed, some little time ago, the Prime Minister decided that the Government should take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the presence in Australia of Law Ministers and Chief Justices on this rare occasion and, as Head of State, he has invited the heads of other Commonwealth Governments to make their Law Ministers and Chief Justices available to attend a conference in Canberra at the conclusion of the convention in Sydney. Acceptances are coming in to the Prime Minister’s invitation and it has been decided to hold meetings in Canberra on 2nd and 3rd September this year. The meetings will be separate meetings between Law Ministers of the respective countries and Chief Justices of the respective countries. The rate at which the acceptances are coming in makes it clear that these meetings will be most successful, just as the organisation of the convention in Sydney indicates that it also will be a most successful legal event.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware of the statistics that are available proving the efficacy of the use of safety belts in reducing the injury and death rate arising from road accidents? Is it a fact that in some States it is obligatory for car owners to fit safety belts on all new cars? Will the Minister give consideration to making it compulsory for all Commonwealth cars and trucks to be fitted with these safety belts?
– Certain Commonwealth cars do come under my control. They are Commonwealth cars in the Australian Capital Territory. Cars outside the Territory come under the control of the Minister for Supply. The honorable member’s suggestion about putting safety belts in cars is one that we will consider. I know that many Commonwealth cars already have safety belts, but just how far this applies I shall find out and let the honorable member know.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that if the Murray River falls to 20 per cent, of its normal flow it can, as desired, be built up to the normal flow with water from Lake Eucumbene? What authority is responsible for the control of the flow of the Murray River? Will the Minister make investigations with a view to ensuring that the river is kept at a level high enough to allow for the satisfactory pumping from the river for valuable large and small established irrigation projects?
– I am not aware of any formula when the Murray fails to 20 per cent, of its normal flow as the honorable member has mentioned. I know, of course, that the Snowy Mountains Council has made available to the River Murray Commission, which is the authority in charge of the level of the River Murray, a diversion of water from Lake Eucumbene and that this amount of water will increase as the scheme builds up. At the present moment, I think the River Murray Commission has the power to draw about 870,000 acre feet of water a year from the Snowy Mountains through Lake Eucumbene. I realise that the level of the Murray River presents a considerable problem in the area mentioned by the honorable member. The honorable member for Riverina also has approached me about the problem. I would have thought that at the present moment irrigation in that area was almost completed, but as the honorable member knows I will be visiting his area next month with members of the River Murray Commission, and I will be delighted to discuss this matter further and see if we can arrive at any improvement in the present system.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been directed to the reported £4 million trading loss by H. G. Palmer (Consolidated) Ltd., retailers of electrical appliances? Is it also a fact that this brings the total losses in bad and doubtful debts by Sydney retailing and hire purchase companies to £10 million in the last two years? In view of the grave concern of shareholders about these losses will the Minister give consideration to instituting some form of inquiry, either under Commonwealth Jaw or in co-operation with the State Governments, to ascertain the reasons for these huge losses?
– I have seen the same Press report as the honorable gentleman. I do not know whether it is correct or not, but 1 assume that it is correct. The Commonwealth’s responsibility in matters relating to companies is confined to the Territories. It does not have legislation or responsibility in regard to the States. In the past there have been companies which have shown big losses and the State Governments have been very quick to institute inquiries by inspectors appointed under the Companies Acts. In many cases the State Government which appoints an inspector in one State is able to arrange with other States that this inspector be the inspector for the purpose of inspecting in a second or third State. The results of these inspections have been supplied to all Attorneys-General, and all Attorneys-General have been able to read the reports and decide whether any action should be taken and, if so, what action should be taken. However, this is a matter which would not flow from the Commonwealth or from my initiative.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. In statements made recently in his Department’s bulletin and elsewhere the participation of women in the work force has assumed increasing significance. Could the Minister at some future time make a statement on this new character of the work force, its long term and social effects on work force expansion, and compare this capacity to absorb women enjoyed by different States? I am thinking particularly of a comparison in this regard between industry in States like Queensland and Western Australia and industry within the Newcastle to Adelaide complex.
– The House will know that for some time the Government has been attempting to encourage employers to recruit women when it was felt that they could fit into the employment pattern, particularly when it was thought that they could take the place of men who could be more effectively employed elsewhere. This applies also to some sections of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. In this matter we hope to have the closest co-operation of the trade union movement. It should be mentioned that in the latest statistics that are available over a period of one year the work force of women has increased by 6 per cent., compared with an increase in the number of male wage and salary earners of a little over 3 per cent. These figures indicate that employers are becoming increasingly conscious of the pool of labour that is becoming available and the part that women can play in the development of their own industry and in the development of the Commonwealth.
The honorable gentleman will be glad to know also that I announced recently in the latest employment statistics that there had been a fall in the number of women registered for employment, although there had been an increase of about 950 in the number of male registrants. I think that the recommendation made by the honorable gentleman is a good one. We have carried out some surveys of female participation and we have noticed an increase in the employment of women in some industries, such as chemical, textile, electronic industries and others. I will have a more detailed investigation carried out, particularly as to possibilities in States like Queensland and Western Australia in contrast with the Sydney to Newcastle complex.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he aware of the decision of the Department of Immigration to allow Japanese workers to be brought to Western Australia by the overseas controlled mining company, Mount Goldsworthy Mining Associates? What industrial code is being applied to these Japanese workers by this English-American company? Further, will the Minister cause an inquiry to be instigated into this matter with a view to this foreign company being required to employ Australians under Australian award conditions instead of using imported labour other than labour which arrives in Australia under our normal immigration laws?
– I was not aware that a decision had been made to permit Japanese to come in temporarily - I take it that they would come in only temporarily - in order to work or carry out construction work at the iron ore deposits in Western Australia. Nor am I aware of any move that has taken place to permit them to stay there in permanent employment once the mines are working. Nonetheless, I can assure the honorable gentleman that if it were felt that the requisite labour was not available, either to carry out the construction projects or to do specialized jobs in the production of iron ore, consideration would be given to temporary permits - and temporary permits only - for people to come in. Of course, we have not had to consider yet the particular job involved, but I can say that no-one would be permitted to come in until the Department had first carried out a survey of the possibilities of recruiting Australian labour. If that was not available then, of course, in the interests of the country we would give this consideration. As yet, no commitment has been made. Secondly, I think that it could be taken that if permits were given to these people, they would be subject to Australian award conditions and they would have to become members of Australian trade unions.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Before granting further licences for the importation of New Zealand potatoes will the Minister confer with the Federal Potato Advisory Committee?
– I will pass on the suggestion made by the honorable member for Mitchell to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Whether that is the appropriate body to consult I do not know. I think that other Ministers also would have some interest in the matter.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that section 54 of the Life Assurance Act specifically provides that the Insurance Commissioner may demand in writing from any registered insurance company information relating to any matter in connection with its business? Did the Mutual Life and Citizens Insurance Co. Ltd. acquire for the sum of approximately £4 million the shares of H. G. Palmer (Consolidated) Ltd.? Is it current knowledge that that company, H. G. Palmer (Consolidated) Ltd., has written off £2.5 million for bad debts and has made provision for another £1.5 million for doubtful debts? In view of the quasi fiduciary capacity in which life assurance companies accept the savings of people, will the Minister consider whether the present propensity of such companies to indulge in equity investment should be curbed? Will he refer the matter to the Commissioner and ask the Commissioner to investigate the full facts of this case. Will the Treasurer consider whether certain restraints should be placed on the future investments of this type by such companies?
- Mr. Speaker, I will study the text of the honorable gentleman’s question and see that he gets a considered reply.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Trade and Industry. Recently, in answer to a question, the right honorable gentleman stated that the Export Development Council had prepared a report on the problems facing Australian exporters in the field of long-term export finance. Can the Minister inform the House whether any studies have been made of export finance facilities available to exporters in other countries?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Trade and Industry, through its intelligence services, is constantly studying the facilities provided for overseas exporters who may be in competition with Australian exporters. Recently we had an opportunity to do this when Mr. Len Dooling, the chief manager of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation in Victoria, went overseas. By arrangement with the Department of Trade and Industry and with the approval of the Corporation he conducted an investigation into the credit facilities that are available in European countries and in the United States of America. Mr. Dooling made a most valuable and comprehensive report to the Department of Trade and Industry and it is at present being studied. The report, in due course, will be brought before the Export Development Council. From this knowledge and these consultations will emerge conclusions which will be appropriate to the Australian scene. It is our desire that Australian exporters shall not be at a disadvantage with other exporters.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Did the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development estimate that over the next five years more than 1,000 additional secondary teachers will be required for service in Papua and New Guinea? Did the Bank say that practically all of these teachers would have to be recruited with considerable difficulty from the State services? Will the Commonwealth’s proposed support for Australian technological, tertiary and technical colleges also generate substantially inincreased demands for teachers? If the answers are in the affirmative, and in view of the present acute secondary teacher shortage, will the Government reconsider its attitude in rejecting the Martin Committee’s recommendations for Commonwealth support for teacher education?
– The last part of the question, of course, clearly involves a matter of policy since it asks us to reverse a policy. The first part of the question is best answered by reference to the report itself. My recollection is that the figures stated by the honorable member are correct, but the document will speak for itself.
– I address a question to the Attorney-General. In view of the widespread public interest in the Trade Practices Bill, and in view of the Government’s desire that the public should be afforded adequate opportunity to subject this Bill to scrutiny, will the Attorney-General state whether, and if so how, copies of the Bill and his second reading speech may be procured by the public?
– It is, as I said in my second reading speech, the Government’s desire that this Bill should be submitted to close scrutiny. For this purpose, arrangements have been made for the Bill to be available to the public as from Monday morning next. The Bill will be available from the Government Printer in Canberra and from the Commonwealth Sub-Treasury offices in the various capital cities. Arrangements have also been made that, when the Bill is bought at a price of 4s., a copy of the the second reading speech will be provided free of charge. There will be a charge of 8d. for postage where postage is involved. I can assure the honorable member for Angas that those persons who wish not to invest 4s. in the Bill will be able to get a copy of the second reading speech from me free.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Was a Committee set up in 1952 to oppose the floor price wool plan? Has the Minister any knowledge of whether a similar committee has been set up, or is planned, to oppose the present proposed scheme?
– I know that in 1952 a vote was taken throughout the wool industry on a proposed scheme. I was not directly interested in the matter at that time, and I do not know whether a committee sponsored the opposition to that scheme. However, I rather think that was the case. I hope that on this occasion anybody who discusses the scheme which is now proposed and which is to be voted on will speak for or against it on its merits, with a full realisation of the value of this industry to Australia. The decision on the proposal will require the exercise of a full sense of responsibility.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall)- agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate -
Without requests -
Poultry Industry Levy Bill 1965.
Without amendment -
Poultry Industry Levy Collection Bill 1965.
Poultry Industry Assistance Bill 1965.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: - Augmentation of Darwin Water Supply, Northern Territory.
The proposal involves the equipping of two bores at McMinns with a rising main, and the provision of a 4 million gallon service reservoir at McMinns, pipelines from McMinns to Berrimah and from Berrimah to Casuarina, a pumping station at the 31 Mile and a 1 million gallon and a 6 million gallon service reservoir at Casuarina. The total estimated cost of this work is £1,212,000. The Committee has reported favorably on the proposal and upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Permanent Barracks and Depot Accommodation for Australian Regular Army Units at Broadmeadows, Victoria.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: - Construction of Permanent Barracks and Depot Accommodation for A.R.A. Units at Broadmeadows, Victoria.
The proposal involves the provision at an estimated cost of £825,000 of living and messing accommodation to replace existing unsuitable accommodation, limited sporting facilities and new technical accommodation, including workshops and extension of existing workshops, together with the associated engineering services. The Committee has reported favorably on the proposal and has also recommended a re-assessment of the requirements for living accommodation for all ranks. This re-assessment will be made. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Construction of Post Office and Telephone Exchange at Wollongong, New South Wales.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: - Construction of a Post Office and Telephone Exchange at Wollongong, New South Wales.
The proposal submitted to the Committee involved the erection, at an estimated cost of £644,500, of a brick building, consisting of ground and three upper floors, to accommodate postal facilities and telephone exchange equipment. The Committee has reported favorably on the proposal and has also recommended -
It is proposed to accept recommendations (a) and (b). In regard to (c), the policy of the Postmaster-General’s Department is to agree to the provision of external clocks when these are architecturally acceptable and when the costs of provision, maintenance, lighting and operating are met by local or other interested bodies. It is not proposed to depart from that policy in this case. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning for the work can proceed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr. Snedden, and read a first time.
Mr. SNEDDEN (Bruce - Attorney-
General) [11.23]. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill completes the first full-scale review of the law of bankruptcy since the original Federal Bankruptcy Act was enacted in 1924. The first stage of the review was undertaken by the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee, which was appointed by the then Attorney-General, now Sir John Spicer, on 23rd February 1956. The Committee met under the chairmanship of Sir Thomas Clyne, whose name has for many years been so prominently associated with bankruptcy law in Australia. The membership of the Committee included a member of the legal profession nominated by the Law Council of Australia, as well as accountants and businessmen with experience in the administration of bankrupt estates and debtors’ affairs, and the Inspector-General in Bankruptcy. I am pleased to record also that notwithstanding his heavy duties the Parliamentary Draftsman, who has served this Parliament so well, was able to serve as a member of the Committee and to give it the benefit of his long experience. The Committee presented its report on 14th December 1962. Annexed to the report was a draft bill embodying the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee’s report was distributed to members of both Houses of the Parliament and to persons and organisations that had made representations to the Committee, and it was also made available to the public generally. Representations for alterations to the Committee’s draft bill were received from the Law Council of Australia and its constituent legal bodies, as well as from the chambers representing commerce and industry and from banking and accountancy institutions. Points for amendment were put forward also by the bankruptcy judges, Official Receivers and Bankruptcy Registrars. In all, some hundreds of changes in the Bill recommended by the Committee were sought. I have given all the requests the most careful consideration. In some instances, I thought it desirable to refer the requests to the members of the Committee and I have had the assistance of their further opinion in making my decisions. The result of this detailed consideration of the existing bankruptcy law is to be seen in the measure now before the House. Though I have made a number of changes, it is, for the most part, the bill as recommended by the Committee.
– I will give consideration to that. The law relating to bankruptcy has, of course, a great deal of importance both for the business community and for the public generally. In the course of its long development, two aspects have received special attention. There has, on the one hand, been a lessening of the severity with which the law originally regarded a debtor unable to pay his debts. On the other hand, there has been a strengthening of provisions intended to punish dishonest debtors, not for their indebtedness, but for the dishonesty which led to their indebtedness and for frauds perpetrated upon their creditors. The Bill before the House contains further developments of its own with regard to these matters.
The Bill is a long one; it consists of some 315 clauses and 161 pages and I shall confine myself to describing the more important changes that are made to the existing law. To assist the House in its consideration of the Bill, I have had a list of changes prepared. This schedule will be of great value to honorable members and with their concurrence I incorporate it in “ Hansard “.
Generally speaking, the work of the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee was concerned with revision rather than with reform in the sense of proposing new and fundamental changes. With the exception of provisions relating to arrangements with creditors outside bankruptcy, to which I shall return later, the Committee left the basic structure of law established by the present Act undisturbed. Its proposals were chiefly concerned with remedying defects which have been found to exist in the present law, with simplifying procedures and with effecting some economies in the administration of the bankruptcy law. Nevertheless, these add up to a very great number of detailed, and in many cases important, changes in the existing law. The main emphases that will be gathered from the Bill are, first, the rehabilitation of debtors whose circumstances are due to misfortune; secondly, a strengthening of the provisions aimed at punishment of dishonest debtors, and, thirdly, the encouragement of private trustees to take up the administration of bankrupt estates.
I turn now to a consideration of certain of the provisions of the Bill that I think merit special attention. Honorable members will note from clause 44 that the amount of indebtedness necessary to found a bank ruptcy petition by a creditor has been increased from £50 to £250. The present minimum of £50 has stood for a long time. It was taken over by the existing Bankruptcy Act from English legislation dating back to 1869. It is wrong, as the Committee has observed, that a man should be made bankrupt when he owes only a relatively small sum and his assets are negligible. The raising of the indebtedness will lessen the opportunity to use the bankruptcy procedures as mere debt collecting machinery. Next, clause 149 of the Bill provides for the automatic discharge of bankrupts after the expiration of 5 years from the time when they became bankrupt, unless some objection is lodged to their discharge. Where an objection is made, the Bankruptcy Court will have discretion to grant or to refuse a discharge or to impose conditions upon a discharge. A bankrupt may himself apply to the Bankruptcy Court for a discharge, before the time for automatic discharge.
The provisions of the existing law relating to arrangements between a debtor and his creditors outside bankruptcy are to be repealed and replaced by an entirely new code. The existing provisions are those in Parts XI and XII of the present Act.
Historically, they are the result of the amalgamation of certain of the State bankruptcy laws in existence at the time the present Bankruptcy Act was enacted. The historical reasons for the form of the present law have been well described by the Committee in paragraphs 271 to 278 of its report. It is sufficient to note that the existing Act provides alternative codes of procedure which may be followed where it is not desired by the creditors to have a debtor’s affairs administered under the strict procedure of bankruptcy. The Committee took the view that it was unnecessary to have alternative codes of procedure. The new system is set out in Part X of the present Bill. This provides a scheme which is intended to be flexible enough to meet requirements for dealing with a debtor’s affairs outside bankruptcy, but which will, at the same time, be subject to the general supervision of the Bankruptcy Courts.
Under Part XI of the present Act, proceedings commence with the calling of a meeting of the debtor’s creditors. All creditors are consulted, and have a voice in the decisions made. These decisions are binding on all creditors. The creditors may choose the particular form of administration of the debtor’s offences appropriate to the case. By contrast, proceedings under Part XII of the present Act do not commence with a meeting of creditors. They are initiated by a debtor voluntarily executing a deed of arrangement in favour of a trustee, usually, but not necessarily, with the knowledge of his principal creditors. The deed is not binding on creditors who do not assent to it. Part XII is concerned primarily with providing machinery for the registration of deeds, and giving validity to the deeds subject to compliance with prescribed formalities.
Under the new Part X, the proceedings will in all cases commence with the calling of a meeting of the debtor’s creditors and all creditors will be afforded an opportunity of taking part in decisions made at the meeting. The Bill ensures that appropriate publicity will be given to the calling of a meeting. It will be for the creditors to decide at the meeting whether the debtor’s affairs are to be administered outside strict bankruptcy and, if so, the form the administration is to take. The choices available to the creditors under the new Part will be, first, a deed of assignment not unlike a deed under existing Part XI; second, a deed of arrangement corresponding generally to a deed under existing Part XII; and, thirdly, a composition. The form the administration is to take will be determined by the creditors by special resolution; that is to say, by a majority in number and three-fourths in value of the creditors present at the meeting, either personally, by attorney or by proxy. A decision so taken will be binding forthwith and the individual assent of creditors will not be required as it is under the present Act. This will result in greater certainty and expedition.
In the interests of maintaining proper control over prodeedings under the new Part, the Bill requires, whatever the form of administration decided upon, that a registered trustee shall be appointed to administer the debtor’s affairs under the deed or composition. In addition, in order to avoid the losses that often occur in the assets of a debtor between the nominal commencement of proceedings under existing Part3 XI or XII and the time when a trustee is in full and effective control of the debtor’s affairs, the property of the debtor is, under the new Part X, made subject to the control of a ‘ controlling trustee ‘ immediately upon the debtor giving authority for a meeting to be called. This concept of a ‘controlling trustee ‘ is something entirely new in Australian bankruptcy law. I am sure that it will prove to be of considerable practical value.
I pass on to refer to the change that has been made in the existing offence provision relating to the obtaining of credit by an undischarged bankrupt. At present, this offence is committed by an undischarged bankrupt who obtains credit to the amount of £20 or upwards. Having regard to the changed value of money, clause 269 of the Bill proposes that this amount be increased to £100. At the same time, because this offence is a prevalent one, the Committee recommended, and the Bill adopts the recommendation, that the penalty should be increased from the present maximum of imprisonment for one year to a maximum of imprisonment for three years.
I have referred to changes designed to strengthen the provisions of the existing law aimed at the punishment of dishonest debtors. The Committee recommended a number of substantial changes in the offence provisions of the present Act, including changes to remove existing anomalies. At present, some offences do not apply in relation to arrangements outside bankruptcy. The Bill remedies this unsatisfactory position. In addition, it makes two important changes to the Committee’s recommendations. In the first place, the penalty for all offences which involve fraud or an intent to defraud has been increased to a maximum of imprisonment for three years. Secondly, provision has been made for a new offence. This is to be found in clause 265(8.) of the Bill. It provides for the punishment of persons who before bankruptcy incur substantial debts without any reasonable chance of making repayment. There is a comparable provision in the uniform companies law under which a penalty may be imposed upon an officer of a company who is party to contracting a debt in like circumstances.
The next important feature of the Bill to which I draw attention is the reassessment it makes of the balance of interests between the Crown and private creditors. Clause 8 of the Bill provides expressly that its provisions - that is, the provisions of the Bill - are binding on the Crown. Moreover, the Bill makes important changes to the position of the Commissioner of Taxation as against a private creditor. Only certain provisions of the existing law are binding on the Crown. The Committee considered that the privileged position of the Crown under the existing law is unfair, having regard particularly to the expanding activities of the Crown in the modern community. The Committee recommended that the Crown ought to be in the same position as other creditors of a debtor. The Government has accepted the Committee’s view on this point.
The changes made by the Bill with regard to tax priority deserve special mention. When the existing Bankruptcy Act was passed in 1924 priority was given to the Crown in respect of outstanding income tax but the priority was limited to tax which had been assessed before the date of bankruptcy and, moreover, was limited to the amount of one year’s assessment. In 1942, when the uniform taxation scheme was introduced, the Crown’s position was considerably enhanced by giving priority to the Crown in respect of all outstanding income tax whether assessed before or after the date of sequestration. That priority has since been continued by section 221 (l.)(b) of the Income Tax and Social Services Con tribution Assessment Act. The Committee recommended a return to the position which formerly obtained under the Bankruptcy Act. After much consideration and a weighing of all the competing interests involved, the Government has decided to adopt the Committee’s recommendation. The result is in clause 109 of the Bill.
Clause 109, in addition, takes care of the position of creditors who have given an indemnity for costs of litigation in recovering assets of the bankrupt’s estate. It has been judicially decided that, under the present legislation, the claims of these creditors are over-ridden by the priority given to the Commissioner of Taxation under the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. Sub-clause (6.) of clause 109 enables the court to make an order giving indemnifying creditors an advantage over all other creditors, including the Commissioner of Taxation. It has also been held by the courts that the provision in the existing Act, which enables the trustees in bankruptcy to avoid payments and other dispositions of property having the effect of giving a preference to a creditor over other creditors does not apply to the Crown. One result of making all of the provisions of the Bill binding upon the Crown is to put the Crown in the same position as a private creditor under the provisions relating to avoidances of preferences. In order to make it clear that the Commissioner of Taxation is able to take advantage of circumstances which protect a payment that would otherwise be voidable as a preference, certain changes have been made to clause 122 of the Committee’s Bill. The intention behind these changes is to make it clear that the Commissioner of Taxation is as nearly as possible in the same position as a private creditor.
Special consideration has been given to the question of income tax instalments deducted by an employer from the wages or salary of his employee. Moneys which have been so deducted by an employer are in the nature of trust moneys. Care has been taken, therefore, to ensure that such moneys do not become available for the benefit of creditors generally. This has been done by preserving specifically the priority now accorded the Commissioner of Taxation by section 22 1 p of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution
Assessment Act in circumstances where an employer, who has made deductions from the wages or salary of his employee, has failed to pay the deductions to the Commissioner of Taxation and has become bankrupt. In addition, the validity of payments made in respect of deductions to the Commissioner of Taxation by an employer who subsequently becomes bankrupt is specifically protected by clause 123 (4.) of the Bill. Similar provision has been made in respect of deductions of dividend - withholding - tax under section 221 yu of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act.
The Bill also makes some adjustments between the competing interests of private creditors. These are to be found in clause 109 of the Bill which sets out the priorities for applying the assets of a bankrupt’s estate. I particularly invite the attention of the House to the following changes: The amount afforded priority for salary and wages has been increased from £50 to £300 in the case of any one employee. This priority includes, for the first time, amounts due in respect of long service leave or accrued annual leave. The amount afforded priority for employee’s compensation is increased from £200 to £1,000. Having regard to the workers’ compensation laws, it will probably be rare for this priority to be applied, but the Bill will provide employees with an appropriate safeguard. Some changes have been made to the existing law relating to the appointment of trustees and to the powers and duties of trustees. These changes are intended to encourage private trustees to accept appointments as trustees of bankrupt estates and. consequently. to relieve the present work load on the official receivers. The provisions relating to trustees are to be found in Part VIII of the Bill.
Finally. I refer to clauses 273 and 274 of the Bill which relate to the prosecution of offences. I have here made some alterations to the procedures recommended by the Committee. The existing Act, as the Committee observed, appears in some instances to make the judge of the court both the prosecutor and the judge. This arises Under sections 216 and 217, under which prosecutions are instituted on the initiative of the court. I agree with the Committee th:t the present svstem should not be retained. I have decided, however, to introduce a rather less complex system than that which the Committee had recommended. It is one that accords more closely with the pattern of the prosecution procedures under other Commonwealth laws. The main features of clauses 273 and 274 as they appear in the Bill before the House are these: (a) Offences carrying a penalty of imprisonment may be prosecuted either summarily or on indictment; (b) summary proceedings may be brought either in a court of summary jurisdiction or in a court exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction; (c) in each case, the penalty that may be imposed summarily is limited to imprisonment for one year, and there is a time limit on the bringing of summary proceedings; finally, in each case also, the court has authority to commit for trial. It will be seen, therefore, that imprisonment exceeding one year can be imposed only after trial on indictment before a criminal court and, in addition, that the means are available for bringing a case before a jury even where the proceedings have been commenced summarily.
– Am I right in thinking that no provision has been made in the Bill for incorporating the present Bankruptcy Courts as a division of the projected Federal superior court?
– This Bill maintains a Bankruptcy Court and, of course, State courts may be invested with the Federal jurisdiction in bankruptcy. The Bill retains the present position where there is a Commonwealth Bankruptcy Court. The matter of making the Bankruptcy Court part of a Federal judiciary will be considered in the context of the Federal judiciary as a whole.
I have drawn the attention of honorable members to some of the changes made to the existing law by this comprehensive Bill, which is indeed one of the lengthiest pieces of legislation ever introduced in the Commonwealth Parliament. I have given no more than a general description of the painstaking work that has been carried out by the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee. I take this opportunity, therefore, of adding to what I have already said an expression of my appreciation of the valuable public service that the members of the Committee have performed.
– Hear, hear!
– I believe that the passage of this Bill will make a significant contribution to the functioning of a law which is of concern to a wide section of the community. I commend the Bill to the consideration of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Survey of Poverty - Income Tax - Television - Shipping Service to King Island - Australian Oil Reserves - Lease of Commonwealth land at Airports - Irrigation - The Parliament.
Question proposed -
That grievances be noted.
.- On numerous occasions in the House I have asked the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) whether he would arrange to have a survey conducted into poverty in Australia, but on every occasion the Minister has refused. I have received from him a letter stating that the Department of Social Services does not have the resources necessary to conduct such a survey. I and many other honorable members, as well as many charitable organisations in this country, think that the Government should conduct a survey into poverty. Many of us know that at present a survey is being carried out by Dr. R. F. Henderson, Director of the Institute of Applied Economic Research at the University of Melbourne. In a statement made last year Dr. Henderson said that the survey would take two or three years to complete. That is too long for the people of Australia to wait to know the results of the survey. I think the Government has a duty to set up a select committee of the Parliament to conduct a survey into poverty. Such a committee would not need up to three years to carry out its task. Within three months - probably before the Budget is brought down - it could present the results of its survey. Such a survey would, I am sure, greatly assist many people in this country who depend solely on social service benefits. I do not think I am asking too much of the Government. The Minister has told me in a letter that if his Department conducted such a survey many pensioners would feel that it was prying into their private lives. All members of Parliament know that every year people in receipt of social service benefits must make a statement of their accounts to the Department, disclosing all their assets, so that the Department may judge whether they are still qualified to receive benefits. Recently Professor Appleyard of the Australian National University spoke on poverty in Australia. He referred to the many hardships endured by some people in the community. I am sure that the Minister has a copy of Professor Appleyard’s speech. I hope that he will read it carefully because it contains many home truths and down to earth facts.
Because of their station in life and the positions they hold in the community many people in this country are not aware of how the other half lives. We know that many honorable members opposite represent the more affluent sections of our community. The interviews which we on this side of the chamber, who represent industrial and densely populated areas, have with our constituents differ greatly from those which honorable members opposite have with their constituents. The vast majority of pensioners live in electorates represented by members on this side of the chamber. I know that many pensioners living in my electorate endure great hardship and are in dire need. Many of them are not living under the protection of the New South Wales Landlord and Tenant Act. When they are thrown out of their homes they are compelled to seek accommodation in rooms at rentals of £3 10s. or £4 a week. Even if they receive £6 10s. a week in pension, including the supplementary rent allowance, after paying their rent they aTe left with only £2 10s. a week. This is a ridiculous situation. How can anybody in regular employment understand the plight of a pensioner who is expected to live on £2 10s. a week? But this is happening in Australia today.
I have conducted a limited survey of the conditions under which pensioners live in my electorate and in the electorate of West Sydney. The results should be interesting to the Minister. If he would like to get up early one morning and go to Paddy’s Market or the general City Markets area of Sydney he would see many pensioners going through rubbish heaps to pick out food scraps with which to supplement their meals.
Other pensioners can be seen walking around Sydney streets pushing barrows in which they collect discarded beer bottles, which they sell to supplement their pensions. Other pensioners may be seen carrying sugar bags over their shoulders in which they collect all manner of things. These happenings are an insult to Australia and to the Government, which should do something about them. If you go to Paddy’s Market on a Friday you will see many pensioners buying second hand clothing because it is cheap. You will see other pensioners trying on spectacles. Spectacles are not included in social service benefits and the pensioners go to Paddy’s Market because glasses may be bought there for ls. or 2s. a pair. The pensioners try on the glasses and read something to ensure that the glasses are satisfactory. The New South Wales Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, we know, does supply glasses to pensioners, but a means test is applied. I have seen age pensioners in the market trying sets of false teeth, which are sold there. These people go to the market and can be seen standing there actually trying false teeth to see whether they fit. This situation obtains in Australia at present, and we should be ashamed of it, and so should the Government.
I should also like to refer to the sickness benefit. One of my constituents is a migrant who has not been naturalised. She has a son aged 13 years. Because of an accident that she sustained at work, she is unable to work. She received compensation for a time, but this has run out. At present she is receiving sickness benefit of £4 17s. 6d. a week, out of which she is paying £4 a week rent. She is expected to live on the balance of 17s. 6d. Anyone who suggests that this woman is not living in a state of poverty should have his brains washed. The telephone directory in New South Wales lists 109 benevolent and welfare societies that are doing charitable work to try to assist these under-privileged and under-nourished people. We know of the great deeds that are being done by the Red Cross Society and the Matthew Talbot Hostel in Woolloomooloo. The hostel serves approximately 900 meals a day to destitute people or people in receipt of unemployment benefit. The superintendent of the hostel has said that most of these people are in receipt of the unemployment benefit. Because they are receiving only £4 2s. 6d. a week, it is impossible for them to live anywhere except in one of these hostels. They are given a bed for 2s. 6d. a night. If they do not have any money, they are not turned away; they are given a meal. As the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) said, we all know of the wonderful work that is being done by the St. Vincent de Paul Society. We also know of the wonderful work that is being done by some of the sisters who go around and look after aged people who are sick and are unable to care for themselves.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I would like to take the opportunity this morning to refer to certain budgetary matters to which I hope the Government will give consideration before the next Budget is prepared. The first matter relates to the age allowance. The Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act provides that a married couple having attained the ages of 65 and 60 years and not being in receipt of the age pension, shall pay no income tax on an income up to £1 8 a week. This is the total of the joint age pension and the permissible income for a pensioner couple. On incomes in excess of £18 a week, they pay income tax at the rate of 9s. in the £1 on the amount by which their gross income exceeds £18 a week. I mention the gross income, because no concessional deductions are allowed. No deductions are allowed for medical, hospital, dental, optical or pharmaceutical expenses. No deductions are allowed for any moneys they may pay for the education of children, for rates, for calls paid to mining companies, or even for money invested in the search for oil, which the Government is trying to encourage. No deduction is allowed for premiums paid to life insurance companies or even for contributions to a superannuation fund, if one of these people is still contributing to a fund.
The effect of all this is that a man and his wife who have provided for superannuation of £25 a week or more receive no benefit whatever from the age allowance. I suggest that quite a number of people have contributed for superannuation of more than £25 a week. The purpose of the age allowance is to place these people at no taxation disadvantage as compared with pensioner couples. The age allowance is never applied by the Commissioner of Taxation in cases where it will react to the disadvantage of the taxpayer. If the rate of 9s. in the £1 for the amount by which the income exceeds £18 a week results in a higher assessment than the taxpayer would normally receive, the age allowance is not applied. However, I think a very good case could be presented to show that persons who have provided for themselves by contributing to a superannuation fund and thus have saved the taxpayers from having to pay certain amounts of money to them, should be in a better taxation position than a pensioner couple. But the taxation law does not work in this way. In many instances, people have paid a greater amount of contribution to a superannuation fund in a year than they ‘have been permitted to deduct from their gross income. At present, the concessional deduction for amounts paid to superannuation funds and life insurance companies is limited to £400.
J realise that the Act provides that in some instances some of the money paid to superannuation funds or life insurance companies may be recovered after the taxpayer has reached the age of 65 years. Some of the money may be written off over the life expectancy of the taxpayer. However, I do not think I have sufficient time this morning to go into this aspect. 1 think there is a very good reason why the Government should examine the possibility of increasing the age allowance, particularly when the income is derived from a superannuation fund, so that persons who have contributed for a higher income than £25 a week will receive some benefit from the age allowance. I also suggest that the Government should examine the possibility of permitting those to whom the age allowance applies to claim concessional deductions.
The second matter I want to raise is the matter of the concessional deductions themselves. I want to refer especially to the inability of a taxpayer to carry concessional deductions forward from one year to another. As I mentioned, concessional deductions include such items as medical, hospital, dental and optical expenses. Amounts that have been spent by a taxpayer on these items can be deducted from his gross income before income tax is assessed. At present it is not possible to carry the con cessional deductions forward from one year to another. The official reason given for this is that the deductions were designed to assist the taxpayer and if his income is such that he does not pay any income tax, if he has not assessable income and pays no income tax, he therefore requires no assistance. On the face of it, this seems very reasonable. But let me instance the case of a self-employed person who, through illness, loses quite a deal of time from his work and therefore incurs a loss of income. He also incurs a considerable amount of hospital and medical expenses as a result of his illness. At the time when his income is greatly reduced, he finds that he is unable to offset these expenses against his reduced income, if the income has been reduced to the point at which he pays no income tax. The Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act provides that business losses may be carried forward for a period of years. I suggest that it would be very reasonable to permit concessional deductions to be treated in a like manner so that taxpayers will receive the greatest assistance when they need it most.
I also want to refer to the matter of education expenses. At present, a parent is permitted to claim as a deduction the amount he spends on the education of any child up to the age of 21 years. Many students, particularly those studying law or medicine, must continue their studies beyond the age of 21 years. Though their parents may continue to pay for their education, they are unable to claim the expenses so incurred as a deduction because the students are over the age of 21 years. The Act does not permit a part time student who is working to pay for his education to claim as a deduction the amount he has spent on his education. I believe that parents ought to be able to claim a deduction for educational expenses spent on children up to the age, possibly, of 30 years. This could be a starting point. I have mentioned certain professions in which it is impossible for a person to complete his training by the age of 21, and at that stage the student is either wholly dependent on his parents or he has to go to work part time to earn sufficient money to pay for his education. At present no one is allowed to claim a deduction for the educational expenses incurred. I suggest that the Government examine the possibility, first of all, of permitting persons up to a certain age - I suggest it could be 30 although other ages could be considered - to claim as a taxation deduction the money spent on their own education. Secondly, I suggest that parents should be able to claim as a deduction moneys spent on educating their children up to the age of 30 years.
– I wish to refer to a couple of matters in the time at my disposal. First, I make a plea to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) and the Government to extend national television services to the west coast of Tasmania. We are very pleased with the response from the commercial station in Hobart and I must endorse the remarks of the warden of the Queenstown municipality and the local council in giving all credit to the commercial interests for extending television services to the west coast. However, we are not at all happy with the attitude of the national broadcasting service which is very slow in taking any steps in regard to this matter. The residents of this area have waited for a long time.
The area is very isolated and suffers from extremes of climate. This is substantiated by the fact that under the income ‘ tax legislation the area is included in zone B. That indicates the conditions under which these people live. We are pleased that after waiting for so long roads are being constructed to Mount Reid and Mount Owen and soon the west coast of Tasmania will have the benefit of commercial television. Nevertheless we must have national television programmes as soon as possible.
I have referred to the isolation of the area. It is most important that school children attending primary schools, preschool centres and also high schools should have the advantage of national television school broadcasts and school sessions which are transmitted by the national television service in Tasmania. I make a determined plea to the Postmaster-General and the Government to extend the national television service to this part of Tasmania.
Whilst speaking on the subject of television, I ask the Government also to consider again the extension of television to King Island in mid-Bass Strait about halfway between Victoria and Tasmania. The island has a population of about 3,000 persons. It has been found impossible to get a signal to the island from Tasmania. Experiments have been carried out from a land mark near Stanley called the Nut but it has been found impossible to send a signal to the island. I should like the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to consider ways and means of experimenting with signals from the Otway Ranges in Victoria. Some years ago I submitted to the Government a plan given to us by the Columbia Broadcasting Corporation of New York which indicated that it would be possible, even with the equipment in existence at that time, to send a signal from the Otway Ranges to King Island and, by boosting it, enable it to reach Tasmania. At that time we were doubtful whether we could have a television service on the north west coast of Tasmania. If it would have been possible to transmit to King Island from Victoria then, having regard to the land contours, the distance and the equipment available, surely it would be possible now, with improved equipment that must be available, to send signals from the Otway Ranges.
In the remainder of the time available to me I wish to refer to the freight subsidy recently granted by this Government in respect of trade between King Island and Melbourne. I request that urgent consideration be given by the Government to making grants under section 96 of the Constitution to Tasmania so that a similar subsidy can be given to shippers who operate between King Island and Tasmania. The subsidy on freight between King Island and Melbourne was granted following numerous representations by members of Government and Opposition parties in both Houses, and following a deputation from the King Island Municipal Council and other interested organisations.
I have a copy of the case that was put up by the King Island Council to the Government last year. It was an excellent case and set out the position very well indeed. No doubt it assisted materially in helping the Government make up its mind to grant the subsidy. The announcement earlier this year in respect of the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island provided for a payment of £2 10s. a ton on general cargo. However, the matter that we are very interested in is the reductions that were granted for livestock. In the case of horses, bullocks, bulls, cows, steers and heifers the reduction is £3 15s. per head; for yearlings it is £2 15s.; for calves and vealers, £1 15s.; for rams, sheep and lambs, Ils.; and for pigs 8s. per head. Without taking into account the Commonwealth subsidy of £2 10s. a ton, the general freight rate for cargo between King Island and Victoria is 133s. per ton. Subtracting the Commonwealth subsidy of £2 10s. a ton, the general rate for cargo between King Island and Victoria will now stand at 83s. a ton. As has been intimated to the Minister in correspondence we are all very delighted that the difficulties of getting stock to the island’s traditional markets in Melbourne have at least been recognised, but this places the operation of the existing shipping service, which is an intrastate service, between King Island and Tasmania at a distinct disadvantage.
The shipping service from King Island to Melbourne has been operated by R. Houfe and Co., and due to rising costs their freight rate has risen steadily to the current rate of 133s. per ton. I have intimated that if we deduct 50s. a ton the freight is reduced to 83s. Due to good management, Kimberley King Island Trading Pty. Ltd. has been able to stabilise its freights at a reasonable level of 108s. per ton between King Island and Tasmania. Consequently, this company was successful in obtaining a contract from the King Island Dairy Co. for the freighting of butter from King Island to Tasmania. Previously this butter had been shipped to Melbourne but, because of the favorable rates available from Kimberley King Island Trading Pty. Ltd., the butter has been shipped in recent times from King Island to Devonport. This cargo amounts to 1,000 tons per year, of which approximately 850 tons are eventually shipped overseas.
In addition, Kimberly King Island Trading Pty. Ltd. has boosted its earnings because of the increased amount of wool carried, due again to the reasonable freight rates the company has been able to offer. The quantity of wool is increasing annually and approximately 1,500 bales have been shipped this year. Stock, due to demand, is mostly exported to Victoria, although in the year 1963-64, 510 head of cattle went to Tasmania. In addition, a large volume of goods is imported to King Island from Tas mania. These include timber, cement, coke and coal, fruit, potatoes, fuels and oils, flour, superphosphate, farm machinery and vehicles.
A very important aspect of this matter is that government departments on King Island, namely the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Public Works Department, are wholly dependent on supplies and equipment from Tasmania. In the event of the withdrawl of the Tasmanian shipping services these supplies would have to be shipped to King Island via Victoria. The general conditions of contract, as laid down by the Public Works Department, demand that all government contracts must be of Tasmanian origin, utilising Tasmanian labour and materials. With Government contracts already in progress and future contracts in the offing, Tasmanian tenderers will be eliminated by the lack of shipping facilities and the high cost of shipping from Tasmania via Victoria. I point out that this position has been brought about by the granting by this Government of a very good subsidy, but one which applies only to freight between King Island and Victoria. The general subsidy of £2 10s. Od. a ton given by the Government places the Tasmanian operators at a very distinct disadvantage with the operator between King Island and Victoria. I believe that I am speaking for honorable members of all parties when I say that we in Tasmania seek from the Government a grant to the Tasmanian Government under section 96 of the Constitution so that this anomaly can be rectified and so that the Kimberley King Island Trading Pty. Ltd. will be in a position to continue its services in the very efficient and able manner in which it has conducted them in the past.
– I want to take this opportunity to register very considerable protest, and indeed alarm, at the failure of the Government to take one defence measure which is essential for the security of Australia. I refer to the failure to secure our supplies of oil. This is something that cannot be postponed, or should not be postponed, because none of us can be quite certain that an emergency will not come upon us at short notice. I, for one, do not think that there will be any crisis involving Australia’s defence in the next few years; but this is a matter of chance and opinion. It would be prudent to behave as if we were to be called upon, in the next few months even, to undertake quite considerable measures of defence. We cannot guarantee the world situation. I do not think that there is going to be any blow-up, any more than a man thinks that his house is going to be burnt down but takes measures to insure it.
Australia is entirely dependent upon oil supplies. Neither our defence forces nor our civilian apparatus can maintain itself without oil. Even our primary industries have become dependent upon oil. Without tractors we could not farm the areas of Australia or, without lorries, transport their products. Under these circumstances we have very little oil supplies in reserve in comparison with our needs. I believe that the total capacity of our tanks, that is, the tanks of crude oil and oil products, right down to the petrol tanks of cars, is something less than 4 million tons. Since our present usage is of the order of IS million tons a year, our storage capacity represents only a few weeks supply - 10 or 12 weeks, perhaps. But this is capacity, and capacity is not always utilised. Tankers do not come in regularly. I believe there are times when our total supplies of oil in Australia have sunk to as low as enough for four or five weeks. Under these circumstances we must do something about them because there is no guarantee that in time of war any oil tankers would be able to reach Australia. We might have to face this position. It is not an inconceivable position ‘and it is one against which we must insure. We might have to face the condition that not one oil tanker will reach Australia with a cargo from overseas. Under these circumstances it is playing fast and loose with the security of Australia to allow our oil capacity to sink as low as it is.
There are two measures which I understand the Government has taken, both of which are to be commended although they are insufficient. The first is, I understand, that it has been in contact with oil companies to see whether the tanks could be kept at a higher level. It is not possible, of course, to keep them absolutely full; but they can be kept at a higher average level. This a good thing; it is a most immediate thing to do and the Government has done it The second thing is one which, again, is a good thing to do, although it is an unpleasant thing to do, and that is to prepare a rationing scheme so that in case of crisis or emergency our oil supplies can go further. These are good things, but they are not enough. In addition we have to do one short term thing and a number of long term things. The short term thing that we have to do is to build up our oil storage capacity and stocks. The long term thing we have to do is to give further encouragement to Australian exploration for oil and to put particular emphasis on explorations and pipelines which can give us some medium term relief and security. Let me turn to the first of these two things, that is, the building up of our supplies in stock.
We need, I should think, another 10 million tons in stock, and we need it quickly. The storage of this in conventional steel tanks - some of it would be stored in refineries and some in the form of refined products at decentralised depots related to the pattern of consumption - would cost £3 or £4 per ton of oil stored. But that is if conventional tanks were used. There may be cheaper ways of doing it - I do not know - but I have stated a top figure.
The stocking and filling of these tanks is a more expensive business. It will certainly exceed £10 a ton. Some people will say: “ This will cost £100 million. Can we afford it?” To say this reveals sloppy thinking because the stocking of oil is virtually costless. We are holding at the present moment about £700 million in overseas reserves. Financially it is much sounder to hold these reserves in Australia in the form of oil stocks than it is to hold them in London in the form of sterling balances. We lose nothing by turning some of our sterling balances into oil and putting it here in Australia. This is a real backing and is always available because if at any future date we should want to turn it back into money we would do it very simply by just ceasing to import oil and living on our stocks for eight or nine months. So we would not lose in liquidity. We would lose a little interest, perhaps, but against that we would save the risks of devaluation. These matters can be set one against the other.
I put it that the actual oil that is stored is costless oil, and in view of the fact that this could be the life blood of Australia if there should be any defence emergency or catastrophe - this is possible, although I think it is unlikely; but it is still likely enough to insure against - the advantages of having it are terrific. Although the only way to meet our defence requirements quickly is to build up our stocks, I do not for one moment discount the other necessity of increasing oil exploration in Australia to make ourselves self-sufficient as soon as we can. And over the medium term, by pipelines, by booster stations on existing pipelines and by provision for flush extraction from known fields, such as Moonie, we can give ourselves some protection. But we cannot do this quickly and we may be faced with a short term emergency. Any tankerage we install will not be wasted or lost because it can be incorporated into the scheme of Australian oil production at some later date. I think that the Government is playing a very risky game by not doing this. The security of Australia is in peril. During this recess - not when Parliament meats again - let the Government do something about it.
.- Mr. Speaker, honorable members of this Parliament will appreciate that in 1959 we passed a measure entitled “ A Bill for an Act to provide for the grant of Leases, Licences and Trading Rights in connection with Commonwealth Airports “. For us to do so was right and proper. I say that because it is well known that, surrounding aerodromes, there are substantial areas of land purchased by the Commonwealth, in some cases cheaply and in others at very high cost. It is desirable that the Department of Civil Aviation, to wit the Commonwealth, should make available such portion of those lands, or such portions of airport premises, as are likely to return revenue to the Commonwealth itself.
The terms and conditions under which land - and I speak particularly of land - can be made available are set out in the Act. The land can be leased. It can be leased for a period of three years without any difficulty insomuch as tenders need not be called. But public tenders must be called if a lease is to be granted for a period longer than three years. In my opinion this Parliament missed an opportunity to help municipalities adjoining airports to secure occupancy of such land at a nominal rent. It failed to insert in the legislation any provision to allow a municipality either adjacent to an airport, or far removed for that mat ter, to obtain a preferential right to some of that land for the installation of such amenities as recreational facilities for its citizens. It is generally recognised that people living adjacent to aerodromes are faced with some serious disadvantages because of noise. That has to be taken into consideration. In addition, the normal expansion of municipalities has been substantially retarded by the acquisition of these aerodromes.
For instance, at Tullamarine an area of, 1 think, more than 2,000 acres was resumed by the Commonwealth. A few months ago, the progressive city of Keilor - a city noted for its interest in the provision of recreational facilities for its citizens - applied to the Department of Civil Aviation for occupancy of an area of land near the Tullamarine airport for the purpose of establishing a golf links. The city authorities were promptly informed by the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation that they could get a lease for three years without public tenders being called. But a period of three years would be completely futile for a golf course. They were also informed that they could take their chance if and when public tenders were called for a longer lease of any portion of this land. W~hen that situation arose they communicated with me and I sent a letter to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), or perhaps to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in the absence of the Prime Minister. I suggested that the Act should be amended to ensure that a preference was granted to municipalities which sought land for the purpose of establishing recreational facilities for their people, particularly the young people. That letter was acknowledged over two months ago. I think that, at least, the Keilor Shire Council was entitled to notification of a decision about the matter, if any had been made, or, if it had not been made, then why it had not been made. The Council should have been notified much earlier than this. It does not matter so much about notifying me.
There has been no word received yet. Surely it is not to be said that Cabinet could not make a speedy decision as to whether or not it was prepared to amend the Act along the lines I have indicated. Apart altogether from the disadvantage that such municipalities have incurred by the presence of these aerodromes, it is desirable that where opportunities for providing sporting facilities are present on land owned by the Crown, the Crown should see that the municipalities concerned have priority to lease such land at a nominal rental.
Why there has been no answer to my letter and why no decision as been made I do not know. I have been patient and the authorities have been patient. Incidentally, the city of Keilor has a population of 40,000 people and is growing very rapidly. I hope I will be supported by honorable members in the attitude I take. What I grieve about is the long period of time that has elapsed without any decision apparently being made. This Parliament has now been in session for some months. Surely something could be done about this matter. Either the Government believes that the land should be made available or it does not. If it is against the proposal, it should say so out of common decency to the people concerned.
The Government’s dilatoriness in this matter is even less understandable in the light of an advertisement that I have clipped from the “ Australian “. It states -
Commonwealth of Australia. Department of Civil Aviation. Tender Schedule C64/204. Long Term Lease of Land. Adelaide Airport.
Several valuable large areas of land at Adelaide Airport are available for long term lease for use as business sites. An area suitable for the construction of a golf course can be made available. Adelaide Airport is situated only 34 miles from the centre of the City of Adelaide and the sites available are adjacent to transport and all other services.
Tenders for the lease of this site or sites will close with the Secretary, Central Business Board, Department of Civil Aviation, 499 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 31st March, 1965. Interstate inquiries may be directed …
And so on. Surely, after two months delay some decision should be made about the Keilor City Council’s application. I. urge that the authorities be given the courtesy of a decision and I urge, above all things, that the decision be a favorable one. Additional recreational facilities are badly needed in this country, particularly in the metropolitan areas where every day buildings are crowding in and shutting out the fresh air. More particularly is special consideration necessary where municipalities have been cramped, as is the case with the City of Keilor, the City of Broad- meadows and the municipality of Bulla, the boundaries of which all adjoin Tullamarine airport. I ask for more consideration, Mr. Speaker.
– Mr. Speaker, in the time at my disposal this morning I would like to enlarge on something that I referred to in this House last week, namely the importance of irrigation to Australia. I shall read from a paper recently presented to a symposium by a very eminent hydrological scientist. The paper commenced with the statement -
It is rather surprising that, after 80 years’ development in the application of diverted waters to land systems in Australia, it is still necessary to make a case to persuade Australians that further irrigation development is essential. It is equally surprising that it is necessary to outline our present indebtedness to existing irrigation.
I do not want to go into too much detail, but I do want to refer to something which was said by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) this morning in answer to a question asked by me. It relates to a matter that is concerning quite a lot of people in my electorate and further down the Murray and Murrumbidgee river systems. I refer to the possibility of damming more water in the upper reaches of those rivers. It is believed - I hope to get some confirmation or otherwise of this - that further damming of both river systems could be carried out. These dams would be in addition to the Blowering Dam and the Cumberland Dam on the Murrumbidgee. It is also suggested that further damming could be carried out on the Murray River above the Hume Weir to supplement the present supply and to ensure continuity of water supplies along both river systems during lengthy periods of drought.
There is one other matter that I suggest should be given serious consideration. It relates to an investigation into the advisability and practicability of putting low level locks and weirs along the lower reaches of these rivers to ensure continuity of water supply for those people who have installed pumping systems. I refer in particular to the people in the Hay and Balranald districts in my electorate who now enjoy the benefit of insurance against drought conditions as a result of having installed pumping systems which have not cost the Government anything. Not only has it given them excellent insurance against drought at great cost to themselves, but it has also made a very great contribution to the national economy.
I wish to refer, now, to the whole question of irrigation. Something like 40 per cent, of our total rural income is earned by the irrigation areas of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The most important point to emphasise about irrigation is that in a country of great uncertainty of rainfall, it ensures continuity of supply and provides an assured income for those who work small areas of land, lt is to this aspect of intensive cultivation that 1 should like to refer briefly. Let me take vegetable growing first. To date it has been traditional for vegetable growing areas to be in fairly close proximity to our metropolitan areas. I suggest that we are rapidly coming to the time when the bulk of our basic vegetables will be drawn from our irrigation areas. It is interesting to note in passing - this is probably still going on - that a few weeks ago 1,500 tons of foodstuffs a day as well as 4,000 tons at the weekend was being sent to Sydney from the Griffith irrigation area. It probably comprised products from the whole of the Murrumbidgee irrigation area. This was enough to feed the metropolitan area of Sydney for two days.
What has astounded me, and what has attracted the attention of people far more eminent than I am in the scientific world is the fact that certain people are openly fighting irrigation. Of course, other questions are involved, and I do not wish to refer to them. But I wonder whether, in our daily thinking, we realise how much benefit scientific research and scientific experimentation have been to us and how fortunate we are that this country has had such strong and trusted allies that we have been able to devote practically the whole of our scientific research to the benefit of our people and have not been required to devote it to other purposes.
It is never a good thing to take extreme views on these matters, but the violent differences in academic opinion have produced thoughts to which I do not subscribe. I draw the attention of the House to the following article which appeared in a periodical of very good repute -
In Australia we have not only an appetite for national greatness; we have an urgent need to build something more than an artificial perimeter of defence about a rather empty barren land. In our ambition to develop a highly civilised nation we might sustain a serious blow by allowing to develop a theory, which, by ignoring all the historical experience of men in such geographical conditions as ours, could divert Australia from her road to greatness.
This movement for the most part comes from a group of academics sheltered in metropolitan universities. Their case may be summarised briefly. Irrigation is uneconomic ‘. It is claimed that ‘ the annual dividend from irrigation agriculture does not justify the capital expenditure. Australia would do well to cease planning new, or extending old, irrigation settlements ‘. Make no mistake, the truth or otherwise of this is of supreme importance to our country.
The advocates for irrigation have not pointed out that the yearly cash dividend from a university does not justify the capital expenditure. They know that the size of a yearly cash return is not the only way to judge the worth of a university. But do the academics realise there are other ways of assessing the dividends from irrigation? That there is an ‘ invisible return ‘? For example, have they forgotten that in arid countries the availability of university education might be influenced by the extent and success of irrigation? Is it possible that a nation’s culture, indeed all her future greatness, may be profoundly influenced by her irrigation base? . . . That is the lesson of history.
– Who said that?
– That article was written by a Mr. E. Hennessy. I shall give the document to the honorable member afterwards, but I assure him that I am not capable of originating it myself. It draws our attention to the importance of putting things in their proper perspective and to how vital irrigation is to us at a time when we get what is unfortunately the too oft repeated phenomenon of drought in this country.
Last week in this House I referred to the amount by which we shall have to increase our primary production. I refer in particular now to our wool clip. We will require to increase our sheep numbers by about 50 million if we are to feed the increased population that we shall have in the next 20 years. This increase will be needed more for the supply of meat than for wool and will proportionally add to the strong wool in our clip. But all these things add up to the fact that more water is required, and I certainly hope that more can be done to assist the pumping systems to which I have referred in my area. I hope that the investigation which I have suggested will soon be made into the advisability and practicability of establishing dams and weirs at the places I have mentioned in order to provide a greater area of that country with an assured water supply.
.- I regret very much that I have only a couple of minutes within which to express my great disapproval of and my strong protest at the management of the business of this House by the present Government. There is no doubt that there is grave dissatisfaction both inside and outside the House at the way in which the affairs of this House are being conducted. We first met for this sessional period on 16th March. From then until Easter we virtually talked just for the sake of talking. Every procedure that could be adopted in order to keep business before the House was adopted. The Whips were continually asking members to come into the Chamber and make speeches on the particular topics that might have been before the House for discussion. At that stage, no real attempt was made by the Government to bring down any important items of legislation. Certainly, only very few important pieces of legislation came before us.
Now, in the dying hours of the sessional period, the notice paper is full of important matters. There is a Bill to make certain amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act. There is a Bill relating to the re-establishment of national service trainees. There is a Bill relating to State grants-
– Order! It is now 15 minutes to 1 o’clock. In accordance with Standing Order No. 106, the debate is interrupted and T put the question -
Thai grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 18th May (vide page 1588), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection that course will be followed. [Quorum formed.]
– Mr. Speaker, I move -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view ‘to inserting the following words in place thereof - “whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, this House is of opinion that the scheme proposed by the Bill is inadequate as science education cannot be divorced from the need to advance and improve education at all levels and in all fields and will suffer unless an immediate inquiry -into all aspects of education is substituted.”
I had intended to propose another amendment, but, on reflection, I thought that it would probably have been out of order. So I decided to propose the amendment that I have just moved. This, I think, will give the House an opportunity to decide whether it really wants science education and whether the Government, in this scientific and technological age, is doing a great deal for science education or whether it is just fooling the people by pretending to do something that it has no intention of doing.
The States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill is simply a renewal for three years of the States Grants (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Act 1964. This measure, therefore, contains, and continues, all the defects and inadequacies of that original Act. In his second reading speech, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) affected considerable complacency about the operations of this scheme. But, on the evidence he presented in his speech, there is no room for complacency at all. The right honorable gentleman now calls the scheme a “ programme “. But if the word “ programme “ is to have any real meaning, it must involve something more than a three year allocation of money. A programme implies a plan, but this Bill, and the concept behind it, such as that concept is, contain no genuine plan. When I spoke on the original measure a year ago, I said -
If the Government were really interested in assisting the States with science education in their secondary schools, does anybody believe for one minute that it would go about it in this way? . . Would there not be an investigation of the relationship between the needs of science and the needs of the other parts of the educational system? Would not some evidence be produced to show that this, rather than some other, method was indeed the best way of meeting the needs of the States out of available resources?
Those questions are just as valid today as they were when I posed them a year ago, Mr. Speaker. They were not answered then. They have not been answered by the operation of the scheme in the past year. And they are not answered, and no answer is attempted, in the Prime Minister’s second reading speech on this Bill.
We are asked to accept the right honorable gentleman’s assurance that the value of this form of aid has been demonstrated over the past year. We are given a table of the amounts granted, and the number and type of schools to which the grants have been made. But we are not told how this scheme fits into a general plan for science education in Australia. We are not told that, because, of course, there is no plan. We are not told how the scheme is helping to meet the real needs of the States in the fields of science and general education. We are given no information, because the Government has none to give. It does not know, because it has refused to conduct the sort of inquiry into education which all the State Premiers want, and have so often requested over the last five or six years. We are not told whether the schools in most need have received the most assistance. We believe that the schools that have benefited are not the schools for the poor but, rather, the schools for the better-off section of our society.
Plainly, the Government cannot answer this most important question which I have posed, because the method of allocation does not provide that need shall be the first priority. The scheme works in the opposite direction. It is elementary that before public moneys are disbursed for any reason, some inquiry should be made into the need for spending, and the way in which the spending will be done. We all know why this elementary precaution was neglected in this case. We all know that this proposal origi nated with the back-room boys of the Liberal Party of Australia. If there was any consideration of need, it was with reference not to the real and pressing needs of Australian education, but to the electoral needs of the Liberal Party. By its nature, the proposal was slip-shod. It was given legislative form in a hotch-potch way last year. And the most surprising feature of this present Bill is that it will do nothing to improve, amend or give efficiency to the original proposal as it was invented in the heat and anxiety of the 1963 Senate election campaign.
In his second reading speech, the Prime Minister himself confessed, by implication, that there was no preliminary investigation as to the real needs and requirements of the States. He said -
The States have not, for their own good internal reasons, been able to spend in this year all the money made available to them.
There can be only one reason why this has happened: There was no prior consultation with the States as to their real needs, the Commonwealth’s proposal was not in any way based on a study of the needs of the States, and no attempt was made to dovetail the administration of this scheme with the administrative processes of the Education Departments of the States. How else can we account for the fact that the States have not been able to spend all the money allocated to them under the original Act? Further, how can we explain the great apparent difference in the way the States have distributed the money which they have spent? What are the reasons behind these vast divergences in expenditure? For instance, New South Wales is providing facilities for 80 government schools. However, Victoria, with a smaller allocation - and there are 3,000,000 people in Victoria as against 4,000,000 in New South Wales - is providing facilities for 167 government schools or more than double the New South Wales figure. Again, the Queensland allocation for government schools is a little over half the allocation for government schools in Victoria. Yet Queensland is providing facilities for only 11 government schools - or public schools, according to differing nomenclatures - and that represents just one-fifteenth of the number provided for in Victoria. The population of Queensland is half that of Victoria and Queensland occupies an area of 668,000 square miles and Victoria only 88,000 square miles.
On the surface at least, these are great differences, if not anomalies. Why is the money provided by the Commonwealth being spent in such obviously different ways from State to State? Why does the nature of the Victorian Government’s distribution of its grant differ so greatly from that of New South Wales and Queensland? This Bill is not designed to allocate money to non-government schools - call them denominational schools or independent schools if you will - it is designed to allocate money to government schools as well as to non-government schools.
What special factors in the field of science education operate in the States, and in particular in the States I have mentioned? Clearly, each of the II schools in Queensland is receiving much more than each of the 1 67 schools in Victoria. I pose the question: Why? Surely, the Commonwealth Parliament, which is asked to vote this money, has a right to have answers to these questions. Surely, the Commonwealth Government, which now claims to be making a contribution to science education, has a right and an obligation to give answers to these questions. But the Prime Minister has made no attempt to answer them. We can only conclude, therefore, that the Commonwealth Government has no real plan for science education, and has no detailed knowledge of how its so-called programme is operating, or how the money we are giving the States is being used for the benefit of the children of Australia and the advancement of science education in Australia.
When we come to the question of grants to independent schools, lack of information and lack of preparation are equally apparent. The simple and disgraceful fact is that after a year of operation, the House is told no more about how the money given to the independent schools is being allocated, according to real need, than it was last year. The original Act divides Australian secondary schools into two categories, government and non-government, and it makes a further subdivision of this second category into Catholic and non-Catholic, or in the words of the Act “others”. The latter description illustrates, if I may say so. how a really courageous ‘ parliamentary draughtsman can dismiss the Diet of Worms, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Council of Trent and the current Vatican Ecumenical Council with one sweeping stroke. According to this Government the people who are not Catholics are just “ others “.
In his second reading speech on the original Bill the Prime Minister said that the division of schools would be “ adapted to the needs of the schools for science buildings and equipment as the scheme develops “. Well, the scheme has been developing - presumably - for a year now. But we have no more information now than we had then as to how the needs of the independent schools are being defined, and how they are being met. We know that applications received are being processed by regional committees reporting to the Government. We do not know what principle of need these committees operate upon. And while there are two separate types of regional committees - those dealing with the Catholic schools and those dealing with the other independent schools - we do not know how the needs of one type of school are co-related to the needs of the other type of school.
For instance, there are, indeed, some struggling Catholic secondary schools. There are some very rich Anglican secondary schools. What principle is embodied in this Bill to ensure that the poor school gets justice vis-a-vis the rich school? There is none. Under the scheme embodied in this legislation, it is absolutely inevitable that anomalies and injustices will occur, and yet in a Bill designed to secure the operation of the scheme for a further three years, no proposals have been made to alleviate these injustices. Their very existence is not even recognised. It is true that the Government has appointed a Standards Committee, consisting of some very distinguished educationalists, but we are not told what standards the Standards Committee applies.
The essential question is: Are its standards standards of need? If not, then this scheme is operating unjustly. Thus, this scheme is both unjust and unreal. It is unjust, because it does not apply the right standards. It is unreal, because while the Government pretends that it represents a worthwhile contribution to science education, it is not related to the real needs of either science education or education in general. Such needs will not be met, and they will not even be understood, until we have a national inquiry into education at all levels. It is not enough to provide a few million pounds for science buildings and equipment, allocated in this dubious fashion, and then claim that a really important step forward has been made in education.
In 1963, the Science Committee of the New South Wales Teachers Federation prepared a report on the minimum requirements for the effective teaching of the fouryear science course prescribed by the New South Wales Secondary Schools Board. These minimum requirements included the following: No class should consist of more than 24 pupils; there should be one fulltime adult assistant for every two laboratories; and a science research and distribution centre should be established and should be staffed by experienced science teachers. The Committee concluded that at least £23 million would be required in New South Wales alone to bring science teaching facilities up to standard.
The scheme in the Bill before us which allocates, in a disjointed fashion, £15 million over three years for the whole Commonwealth - remember that £23 million was required to be spent in New South Wales alone - does nothing substantial to meet these needs. It is a miserable contribution to the educational needs of the people. Indeed, by its rejection of vital recommendations of the Martin Committee’s report on teacher training, the Government has ensured that these real needs will not be met at all. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Harold Wilson, a great world figure who belongs to the same school of political ideology as my colleagues and I do, recently pointed out that of all the scientists and mathematicians whom the world has produced since Pythagoras, Archimedes, and even Euclid, 97 per cent, are still living. This indicates, in graphic terms, the type of scientific and technological age in which we are living, lt is our duty to meet the needs of the world in which we are living.
We cannot meet the challenge that is before us unless we have science teachers. We could equip every school in Australia with wonderfully modern, gleaming laboratories, but unless we provide the teachers, all such efforts are futile. We will not make any great advances in education and we will not achieve that “revolution in education” - the Prime Minister used those words - which found so unlikely an advocate as the Prime Minister himself at the last elections, until we begin to plan. There cannot be a plan for education unless and until we abandon the piecemeal process of election time bargaining and of treating education as a political football.
The principle behind any plan for Australian education can be easily stated. It must be that every Australian child shall be provided, without discrimination, with the opportunity to obtain the highest degree of education which he or she is capable of receiving. That great goal will not be reached, it will not even be approached, if the Commonwealth continues to treat education in the piecemeal, planless fashion of the past; nor will it be attained by half-hearted, half-baked schemes such as the one now before the House. If we are to achieve the revolution in education which we must have if we are to survive in this modern world and which all right thinking people desire, we need the fullest possible information upon which to build. That, as the Labour Party has insisted again and again, and will continue to insist, is why it is imperative to have a national inquiry into all levels and all types of education. Without such an inquiry and the plan for education which would emerge from it, Australia will continue to fall behind the advanced nations of the world and existing injustices and gross inefficiencies will be perpetuated.
In this House a couple of years ago I said that on education we were spending only as much per head of population as Turkey and Egypt were spending. In the next year we were spending about as much per head of population as Portugal and Spain were spending. We will not have a properly educated people until we are prepared to spend as much per head of population as is being spent in the United States and the Soviet Union. The people of those countries are spending much more than we are spending. The people of Great Britain are spending much more, too.
This Bill is not part of a plan for a scientific revolution, or for fundamental changes in education in general, for the simple reason that there is no plan to which it can be related. Like the Government’s scholarship scheme, it does not go near the heart of the real problem. The Government likes to speak about equality of opportunity, but in Australia equality of opportunity as far as education is concerned is a myth. The handicaps suffered by the poorer half of our children are serious, permanent and cumulative. It is not enough to say that a few very brilliant children from poorer homes can, by dint of great sacrifices on the part of their parents, achieve the university education which the children from richer homes can take for granted. That is not genuine equality of opportunity. Equality of opportunity requires that the average student from poorer homes will have the same chances as the average student from richer homes. Further it requires that those who suffer particular handicaps, by reason of their background, will receive special benefits to enable them to overcome those handicaps.
The Labour Party’s scholarships proposal - a proposal which would give benefit to every parent and every child without discrimination - is a step towards achieving some measure of equality of opportunity. I make no special claim for that proposal beyond saying that it is a first step; but at least it is an honest attempt to tackle the problem in a realistic way.
In one respect, the Bill does represent a real advance because the Government now adopts the proposition that the Commonwealth should accept greater responsibility in the field of education. Back in 1943 the present Prime Minister, before he became as conservative as he is today, wrote an article in the Melbourne “ Herald “ in which he advocated Commonwealth control of education. He wanted education to be made a Commonwealth responsibility.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition believe in that?
– I do, and so should the honorable member and everybody else. I do not believe in uniformity; I believe in some diversity in educational standards. But, as money is being spent by the Commonwealth after being raised by the Commonwealth, I believe that if education were a Commonwealth responsibility more would be done in this field than is possible when we have six State Governments all wanting to go their own separate ways and the Com monwealth trying to meet the needs of all of them.
– We would need a referendum.
– Of course we would need a referendum. 1 am not so sure that at this stage such a referendum would be carried. We would need to educate the public to do the right thing by their children and by Australia, in order to have the referendum carried. In its own way, that would be a big educational obligation which would be imposed upon the Commonwealth, whatever the political persuasion of the government of the day might be.
If Australia is to advance, the principle that I have enunciated must be even more widely accepted. The Government is still hobbled by an outdated, doctrinaire belief in what the Prime Minister likes to call “ diversity”. There is no reason whatsoever why uniformity of standards should mean conformity. Our aim as a nation, therefore, should be, not a spurious diversity, but quality and equality.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak to it.
.- Having had the privilege of listening to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) for about 25 minutes and hearing him wonder whether or not a revolution is occurring in education, we have to compare him, in a way, with poor old Kerensky, the Russian Premier during the 1917 revolution. Kerensky’s great fault, of course, was that he was in the middle of a revolution and did not know it. So, we never heard of Kerensky again. He went his own way. Some of the other propositions that the Leader of the Opposition put forward are also a little intriguing and, perhaps, a little exaggerated. We cannot help feeling that the people who wrote his speech for him also posed the questions which he asked and which he did not understand. Putting it another way, I would hope that the Leader of the Opposition does not quite comprehend the implications of the questions that he raised here this afternoon.
Let us look at one of the points that he raised. He said that the proposal which was put into operation last year and this year as a result of the Bills we passed has caused the richer schools to be benefited and the poorer schools to be disadvantaged. My shorthand is not very good but I made a note of what the Leader of the Opposition said. As I recall, he said that the better-off schools in our society are the ones that have received the advantage and that we all appreciate this factor.
Let us examine the honorable member’s argument. He stated that the people who distributed the £5 million which the Government legislated for last year have distributed it to the benefit of the better-off schools in our community. He said that the poorer schools have been disadvantaged and that the rather more well-to-do schools have received an advantage in the money that has been distributed. This argument raises some serious matters for those who distributed the money. In the State systems the State Departments of Education were primarily responsible for distributing these funds and they distributed them in various ways in different States. In Queensland they distributed the funds to rather fewer schools than in Victoria. Eleven or twelve government schools in Queensland received money but more than 100 government schools in Victoria received grants. Then the Leader of the Opposition said that the State Departments of Education, whether in New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria or Queensland, distributed the money to those schools that had least need of it. Is the honorable gentleman serious in making that assertion? That is the inference that flows directly from what he said.
Let us look at the non-government sector which received some of the money distributed. Here the situation becomes a little more interesting. The people responsible for distributing the money in the nongovernment sector fall into two categories. First there are those responsible for distributing the money to the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian schools - the Grammar schools. On the committees responsible in every State for recommending the distribution of this money you will find the respective heads of the Christian churches in those States - the archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Churches, and the heads of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches.
Those are the people who have been accused of distributing this money in a weighted manner. The implication in the honorable member’s accusation is serious.
Let us look at the distribution of money in the other non-government sector - the Catholic sector. Once again we find that the various archbishops and bishops of the Catholic Church made investigations and recommended the manner of distribution. Does the Leader of the Opposition seriously imply that those people distributed this money to benefit the schools least in need of it? Having had a great regard for the Leader of the Opposition over many years and having read a variety of propositions that he has put forward with respect to education over the years, I do not for a moment think that he wrote the statement that he read this afternoon. His statement this afternoon reminded me of the statement he made in the debate on the situation in Vietnam; somebody wrote it for him. That is the most charitable interpretation I can possibly place on the proposition he has put to us here. The honorable member put other propositions in the course of his 25 minutes address but I have already taken up too much time in dealing with his arguments.
The proposition now put forward by the Opposition is basically similar to the one put forward by it last year. The Opposition has become a little more sophisticated in some ways since yesterday and has decided not to oppose outright this legislation but to say that it will not accept it unless the Government places a lot of impossible restrictions on the distribution of money. The Opposition wants an each-way bet they would never win at Randwick. It says that it will not oppose the legislation if the Government sets up a national inquiry into this subject. The Opposition says that the Government must hold an investigation into all levels of education. After we have done that the Opposition will, when it becomes the Government, set up a Ministry of Education, presumably to distribute the money that is available. I will refer to this proposition later.
The essential proposition put forward by the Leader of the Opposition was that his Party is opposed to the manner in which the Government has made grants under this legislation. The Opposition is opposed very clearly and certainly very precisely to the
Government’s handling of this matter. Last year when we debated this matter members of the upper echelon of the Opposition - they were more interested in this matter then than they are now - made the point that they were interested in all forms of education but that they wanted to help the scholar, not the school. Here is the essential differences between the attitudes of the Opposition and Government supporters: The Opposition does not want to treat the various phases of Australian education equally. The Opposition would deal differently with scholars in government and non-government schools. In other words, the Opposition looks at the non-government system of education not as a system but as a body containing disparate and separate individuals.
– Is that not the case?
– It does contain a lot of individuals and it is also a system. The Opposition says that it will not recognise the system but will give money to individuals. Let us look at the philosophy behind that proposition. In the 19th century one of the great battles fought was over the recognition of trade unions.
– The honorable member was not there.
– I have had more association with trade unions than the honorable member for Scullin realises. One of the great battles fought in the 19th century was over the right of unionists and working men to belong to union bodies. Honorable members will realise that with the repeal of the old anti-combination acts working men were no longer recognised as a lot of separate and disparate individuals. They had claims as an organisation. Following acceptance of their claims to be an organisation, on many occasions down through history they have exerted a great and beneficial influence in society. The way in which we recognise the nongovernment system of education is in the same stream of history. We recognise these people not merely as disparate and separate individuals but as having a claim to a respected system in our society. In this way we are carrying on in the same tradition as was initiated when working men in trade unions achieved their right to be recognised in their own voluntary systems of organisa tions. This is an important principle and I would like to hear some honorable mem: bers opposite argue against it if they dare.
One of the other things that is rather intriguing about this matter is the changing views that seem to come from the Opposition from time to time. The Opposition’s views are not ones of principle or ones which have been constant. They seem to vary in cycles of four, five or six years. I think we should look at some of the history of the Opposition in this respect. When we look at it over the last 10 or 12 years we find that it has changed its views three times. Of course, the consciences of honorable members opposite have changed. They may change all at once; that is their problem. But they have changed. In 1953 we know that the Labour Party decided to recognise all systems of education without discrimination against any. We know that during that time certain right wing elements in the Party fought over this matter. Now, faithfully, the Leader of the Opposition and his followers agree with that principle. He campaigned about it, and campaigned about it very fervently. Then certain events happened in 1955 and 1956. In my own State of Queensland, they happened in 1957. As a result of these changes, Opposition members in unison suddenly decided that what they had said in 1953 was incorrect. They now said: “We will not recognise all systems of education equally. We will recognise only one kind of education and we will disadvantage any kind that does not come within our direct control “. And so they went on.
– The Government’s policy changes once a fortnight.
– Obviously the honorable member for Bendigo is not a very good student of history. Then we come to 1963. Let us look at the attitude of members of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour Party in 1963. This is very interesting. The New South Wales Branch of this party still had a lot of good men. There were a couple in Queensland, but they seemed to have changed in the other States. In 1963, this unswerving conscience of members of the New South Wales Branch changed once again. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) put it last year, this unswerving Christian conscience changed again. For a couple of weeks, they decided that they vould recognise all systems of education equally. Then, of course, there was a migration into New South Wales of certain very prominent people in the Austraiian Labour Party and the views of the New South Wales Branch changed once again. All this happened within a period of 11 or 12 years and I understand that yesterday an attempt was made by some people to alter the policy of the party again.
In this field of education, the Government has had the innate courage to adopt certain policies. It has adopted them against the opposition of honorable members opposite and the people who stand behind them. The people of this country realise and appreciate the bigness of the policy that the Government has implemented and they will continue to appreciate it. I had a nice little speech ready to deliver this afternoon, but the Leader of the Opposition raised so many enticing propositions that I find it almost impossible to move away from them. The Leader of the Opposition also said, as an addendum to the first part of his speech, that he is really interested in the poorer children; that he is interested only in those children who do not have adequate resources. Let us look at what Labour education Ministers have done and let us see whether they are interested in the poorer children in the community.
– What have they done in Tasmania?
– We will go into that now. The Minister of Education in Tasmania presumably has the same political philosophy as the Leader of the Opposition has. When the Commonwealth Government introduced its scholarship scheme and made this money available to children in their last two years at school, it realised that the Tasmanian Government already had a scheme of this type. The Tasmanian Government had a matriculation allowance scheme, which was subject to a means test and which was available to the children of parents with a lower income than the average. It was designed to help them. The Minister would go around Tasmania and say: “We are the friends of the poor. We are helping these people.” When the Commonwealth Government introduced its scholarship scheme, some of these children received money that we distributed under it. But what did this friend of the poor in Tasmania do? He immediately withdrew his assistance to the poor children
– Was he a Liberal?
– One could excuse the pessimism that leads Opposition members to imagine that all State governments are Liberal, but one or two governments of their own political colour are still left. We can then ask the question: To what extent has the Tasmanian Ministe deprived these children of the money that we wanted to give to them? I made some quick calculations - it is amazing what can be done with a slide rule - and I arrived at the figure of £12,000 a year, give or take a little. That is the attitude of this Minister of Education. When Labour Governments have a responsibility, they stand four square with the attitude that Opposition members here have adopted and have always professed. I think it is worthwhile to mention some of the decisions of the Perth Conference of the Australian Labour Party.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that that matter is not before the Chair.
– The other principle that is involved relates to a more efficient organisation of the resources in Australia that can be devoted to education. Opposition members from time to time say that we should provide more money for education. But it is not sufficient to come here and merely claim that we should give more money. It is also pertinent, one would think, to ask the question: How can we raise more money for education in Australia? Let us look at the scheme that we put into operation last year. Of the £5 million distributed then, some £3.66 million was distributed to Government Departments of Education, and this was spent on education as a result of our activities. About £1.33 million to be spent on education was distributed to nongovernment schools. Let us have a look at what we mean here. When we look at the science facilities that were built in Australia last year and are being built this year largely as a result of our distribution of £1.33 million, we find by any conservative estimate that this has attracted almost another £2 million for education. In other words, as a result of our distribution of £1.33 million in this way, we have been responsible, although indirectly, for the expenditure of some £3.33 million on the teaching of science. This, I would suggest, is an efficient use of the resources available for education in Australia, and it is the type of use of our resources that will raise the standards of this country more quickly than any other will. It is not a direct charge on taxation; it is a charge on people who pay their 6d., ls. or other small amounts. Our entry into this field has caused this extra amount of money to be spent on education.
When we look at the education efforts in the various States, I think we must take this view. We have to look not only at what is spent directly but also at what is spent indirectly. In my own State, I am happy to say, the people generally do more to help themselves in this field than the people in any other State do. Over 30 per cent, of the school children in the 14 years and over age group have been helped because their parents wanted to help themselves. This is the way to raise money for expenditure on this field, and the Government has given a lead in this respect. I come now to the last proposition of the Leader of the Opposition. He would appoint a very powerful Minister for Education.
– The honorable member for Barton?
– No, I have in mind the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns).
– The honorable member could not do better.
– He could attend to education in his spare time. The honorable member, we presume, would be in the running to be appointed Minister for Education, as proposed not only by the Australian Labour Party Conference but by the Leader of the Opposition. There would be some interesting features about his distribution of the resources in education. His proposals have certainly intrigued me, and I think on previous occasions they have intrigued the members of this House. Writing during 1963 in a magazine called “Descent” he spoke about this matter and discussed the conditions under which he would distribute money for education. Let us have a look at what he said. He stated in this article that resources would not be distributed for education “ if what is taught is significantly inconsistent with socialism “. That would be the attitude of the honorable member for Yarra towards money to be distributed for education. We can ask this question: What would be the position of those parents in Australia who did not want socialism taught to their children? Is the money to be withdrawn from them? In a central ministry of education in which the honorable member for Yarra would have great say would that be the policy? Those people who have listened to the Leader of the Opposition and are aware of the types of persons who would be appointed as ministers of education should, I think, be very frightened at the prospect.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in which he branded the measures before us as unplanned, piecemeal and grossly inadequate. I remind the House at the outset that we are dealing with three Bills at the present time, namely the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill, the Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill and the States Grants (Technical Training) Bill. Up to this stage, of course, we have been preoccupied with the first of those Bills which deals with science laboratories.
I do not suppose that the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) could be charged with having made a worthwhile contribution to educational thought. There were a couple of matters that he mentioned in a rather rambling discussion upon which I want to comment. First of all, he charged the Opposition, while supporting the measures, with insisting on impossible conditions. What are the impossible conditions that the Labour Party is suggesting? One impossible condition, so called, is a call for a national inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education in this country. Since when has that become so impossible to the Liberals? This is a call that has been made by every Minister for Education, Liberal or Labour, throughout the continent of Australia. The Australian Educational Council, which is comprised of Ministers for Education, as recently as a year ago, renewed its call for this national inquiry.
The honorable member tried to insinuate that whilst this inquiry was being held the
Labour Party would be prepared to do nothing in respect of primary and secondary education. He wants to have a look at the last two - to my recollection - election policy speeches of the Opposition and he will see one important item. This is that we are prepared to make £10 million available for primary and secondary education as an interim measure whilst a survey is being carried out. The honorable member chided the Labour Party with changing its views on education. It would be a funny old world if we did not change our ideas. Maybe it is the conservatism in which the honorable member is steeped which makes him look at this situation as something of an oddity. I would remind him that he did not change his own ideas, they were changed for him. One morning he woke up to find that his ideas were altogether different from anything he had ever espoused before, simply because the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in a desperate effort to cling to office, when he had a one-seat majority in this House, decided that he was going to take the risk and bring in some measure to aid private schools.
However, that is not the consideration in which I am involving myself. The measures we have before us should be dealt with on their merits, and that is the way I intend to deal with them. Under the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill the Government is proposing to renew for a further period of three years a £5 million grant to all schools providing science facilities in the Commonwealth of Australia. The grant applies to government and non-government schools. There is an amount of £5 million for the whole of Australia. Let us weigh that up, first of all, against the student population in Australia.
In 1964 government schools, primary and secondary, had 1,801,311 pupils - the best part of 2 million pupils. In nongovernment schools there were 565,163 pupils. In other words there were over half a million pupils in the private schools in this country. Twenty-four per cent, of the total students in Australia were, in fact, in nongovernment schools. The total school population in 1964 - I am talking about primary, secondary and special schools mainly for disabled youngsters - was 2,366,474; in other words, roughly 2i million pupils in all the schools in the Commonwealth. The
Government’s gesture towards this problem is to provide £5 million for science facilities for the whole of Australia.
In 1964 there were 7,977 State schools and 2.205 non-State schools. The school population we are directing aid to at the present moment is in the secondary schools. The number of pupils involved in 1963 was 673,761. The Government is congratulating itself on making £5 million available for the best part of three quarters of a million pupils in secondary schools. My State of New South Wales will receive, of that amount, £1.355,000 for government schools and £499,000 for independent schools - £1.8 million altogether.
I now wish to refer to the point made by the Leader of the Opposition that this whole provision is a piecemeal and fragmentary allocation. First of all, as I have tried to indicate, it is grossly inadequate even in terms of its specific purpose which is to help provide facilities in science laboratories in our secondary schools. Secondly, it is not only inadequate, but it is quite unrelated to the rest of the school programme. It is not based on any widespread survey of needs. It was just an ad hoc contribution and it is significant that this ad hoc contribution - a figure of £5 million picked out of the air - is the same amount that is going to be paid in each of the next three years. Does it not occur, even to members of the Government, that if £5 million was sufficient last year, in another three years’ time, possibly, the amount should be increased? We have been reminded in this House so many times of the intense growth in the numbers in secondary schools. We have been told that in the last 10 years the proportion of youngsters completing their secondary school education has actually doubled. In other words many more youngsters are staying on at school. Even the Government’s own policies are directed, in part, to inducing and helping children to stay on to complete their secondary schooling. The Government has, in fact, provided 10,000 secondary school scholarships to cover the last two years of a student’s secondary schooling in an endeavour to induce and help youngsters to stay on at school. Does it not occur to honorable members opposite, having regard to the increasing population generally, the special increase in secondary school students and the longer period of attendance in secondary schools, that the need for more help is going to increase? The grant should not remain static as is provided for in this Bill.
– Does not the honorable member think that some may have been built by then?
– Of course, they would have been built, but has the honorable member ever taken the opportunity to look at the backlag in respect of even the kind of thing that we are talking about here - science laboratories and science equipment? The significant thing to me and the most significant omission is the fact that no provision is made for science teachers. No provision has been made for the training and retention of more science teachers for our schools. It has been said that only about 4 per cent, of our secondary teachers who are teaching science are graduates- 4 of every 100. 1 speak subject to correction on that, but I am pretty confident of my memory on that point.
That situation will probably become much worse because of the factors that I shall now mention. First, private industry today is in the market in a big way for young scientists; secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the Commonwealth Government, with the co-operation of the States through matching grant provisions, is now subsidising in further measure our universities and is providing new subsidies to technological institutions and tertiary colleges set up as a result of the report of the Martin Committee. These are additional institutions which are receiving Commonwealth help, and of course they will make their demands for science teachers. The most significant omission from the Government’s action on the Martin Committee’s report was that it rejected the strong and urgent plea of the Martin Committee for Commonwealth assistance for the education of teachers. Honorable members have before them at the moment another report which relates to Papua and New Guinea. That report tells us that we will have to supply from our already scanty resources of secondary teachers in the States of Australia more than 1,000 teachers in the next five years for service in Papua and New Guinea. Do honorable members see the point that I am making? The provision in these Bills is very limited, and the fact that we do nothing about providing the necessary teachers to make use of the facilities that we propose to create will undermine the provision that we make.
There is a further point upon which I do not intend to dwell. I refer to the specific allocation for science facilities. This can be a distorting factor in our educational programme. Children will get the impression that science is the be-all and end-all of our educational existence. Are there not likely to be needs in other segments of the secondary school curriculum, to say nothing of the primary schools? What about the teaching of languages? What about the teaching of new cultures that have grown up and that impinge on our very existence in this part of the world? I refer to the new Asian set-up, the new language requirements that we have, the new understanding that we need and the teaching of new Australians who are coming into our schools. Is not a lot more wanted in the way of language laboratories so that we can have more efficient ways of teaching the English language to all young students and youngsters who come here from overseas countries? Are not these all pressing needs? Of course, they could be, but we do not know about them and we make no research into the matter. The Government proposes to make just an ad hoc allocation which is not based on any inquiry based on educational grounds but tends to be founded on Commonwealth budgetary and political considerations.
As I have indicated already, the shortage of qualified science teachers in secondary schools, which is already an acute problem, is likely to be aggravated further in the years to come by the demands of the Commonwealth supported development of technical, technological and tertiary colleges, to say nothing of the ever increasing demands of universities, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Atomic Energy Commission and other Government instrumentalities. Few of these bodies are assisting in the training of teachers and in many cases they are not even training scientists. As a result we have this business of poaching on the secondary school arena for qualified science teachers.
I have talked about the neglect of the teaching problem. I assume that all honorable members realise how important that must be. But there is also the fact that we are providing laboratories and equipment. Are we, at the same time, looking at what is done in those laboratories and what is being taught in them? Many science teachers have confided to me that the science curriculum in many of our schools is woefully out of date. It bears little relation to the modern scientific field of knowledge. Is it not about time that we engaged in a bit of scientific research ourselves into the programmes that we teach in schools? Often we talk about the problem of wastage in terms of youngsters who leave school for one reason or another before they have completed their studies. But what about the wastage of the so-called learning that we impart in our schools which has not much relevance to modern day living? Too many school syllabuses and curricula are built on tradition. We teach what has always been taught. The schools are not enabled to be in close contact with the world in which we live, let alone be the leaders of thought. There is no time for the hard pressed teacher with all the students about him and with inadequate equipment to think too much of what he is teaching. He is given a syllabus and he has to teach according to that syllabus. He has to conform to examination requirements.
Far too little research is done in education in Australia, but I would say that this research has never been so scanty as in the field of science teaching. Would it not have been a good idea to have enlarged greatly the Commonwealth Office of Education, something which the Labour Government intended to do if it had stayed in power? Research in education is a function which that Office could have carried out admirably. It could have set up science research facilities. It could have conducted research into all factors relating to education - not only the content of education, but also teaching methods and new types of teaching aids which could be brought into our schools and school organisations. In that way we would really be doing something worthwhile and the results of our research would be available to State and non-State schools alike. The proposed grant of £5 million is peanuts compared with what we could have done and ought to have done but have not done.
Reverting to the point about teachers, Professor W. N. Christiansen, when talking on the subject of scientific education in Australia only a couple of years ago, said - . . most of the new schools have some sort of facilities for teaching science. However, the laboratories are quite inadequate and their equipment is poor. It is in the provision of teachers, however, that we have completely fallen down on the job. During the past few years more and more of our school children have been taught by people who are inadequately trained. It is no longer unusual to find a large secondary school with one or no science graduate on its staff.
The measures now before the House also make provision for technical education, which includes the education of tradesmen and technicians. Again, I am afraid that the same remarks have to be made. A grant of £5 million has been given to technical colleges and schools, but that £5 million is for the whole of the State instrumentalities in that field throughout the whole of Australia. That amount must be judged to be grossly inadequate. One has only to visit some of our technical colleges and to look at some of the obsolete equipment they have to use to realise the truth of this statement. Technical colleges, above all else, ought to be the leaders in new techniques and new technologies in our community. They are the ones which should be refreshing and renewing the sinews of industry, but they find it difficult to keep up with the progress of industry. The young apprentice who comes from some of the bigger industrial houses in the community to the technical college finds that he is obliged to practice and be trained on equipment which is up to 25 years out of date. This is no stretching of imagination; unfortunately, it is true.
To the extent that perhaps this £5 million grant may help in some respects it is appreciated, but I want the Government to understand that it is not anything like the amount that is needed. Vastly greater sums are needed if technical education at this level is to be brought up to date. Anything that I have said about science teachers can equally apply to technical teachers. I had something to do with the training of technical teachers and with the art of teaching as a member of the Sydney Teachers College before I came to this place. I can say that even though the training of technical teachers has been improved and extended in recent years, it is still very inadequate indeed. It is not a preservice type of teacher training in my State generally; it is an inservice programme of training. In other words, a man or woman is brought in from outside the service, from the field of industry or commerce, and we say: “ You have been a good tradesman or supervisor, so you will be a good teacher. Get in front of the class.” Many teachers will agree that it is a fearful experience to face a group of 18 year olds, 19 year olds and 20 year olds and start to teach them, without having had any training in this task.
We have to recognise that teaching is a profession; that it is something apart from competence and knowledge in a particular subject to be taught. It is a profession in its own right. Until we get round to recognising that fact, these financial grants that the Government is making available for the material requirements, whether they be of science or technology, will be inadequate. In fact, the provisions that the Government is making will be much less economic because we undermine them by not providing the trained manpower necessary to make the best use of the money.
This Bill also makes provision for universities in, I think, four different ways. It provides, first, for increases in academic salaries recommended by the Eggleston report. Honorable members will recall that we dealt with that report towards the end of the last session. Secondly, it provides finance whereby the Government will support higher fees for part time academic staff as from 1st July this year. Thirdly, it makes interim capital grants for certain universities. The Commonwealth will provide £1,225,000 over and above what was provided in the triennial allocation at the end of 1963 for the period 1964-1966. Fourthly, the measure provides for a research grant to universities for 1965-1966. The Commonwealth will provide £500,000, conditional upon matching State grants, for research at post graduate level in our universities for this year and again next year. But this means that the Commonwealth will be providing in this way £1 million less than was recommended by the Universities Commission in its second report. A couple of years ago the Universities Commission recommended that £5 million ought to be provided for uni versity research for the three-year period 1964-1966. Well, at the end of 1966 the Commonwealth will have provided £1.5 million instead of £2.5 million.
True it is, as indicated in the Prime Minister’s speech on the Martin Committee’s report, that the Government is to set up an advisory committee to allocate the further £1 million, provided that the States do likewise, for use in selected research projects. Applications are to be received from individuals and research teams, so the Prime Minister said. He also indicated that these applications could come from outside the universities as well as from within them. He also mentioned that the total grant need not be spent by 1966.
I think we ought to be aware of what this means. Many universities have gone ahead with the planning of their research and with the intake of post-graduate students on the assumption that they were to receive the full £5 million for this three year period. Now, suddenly and without any forenotice, the grant has been reduced. Some professors have already indicated that they have had to discharge some members of their staff because the grant they anticipated will not be forthcoming. In this respect the Martin Committee reported, referring to the grant of £5 million which was recommended two years ago -
Inadequate as the Martin Committee may have judged that grant to be, the universities are not going to get that amount. Individuals and teams of research scholars will get some grant but it is not the sort of thing to which the universities were geared. The universities were geared to a programme of research in a great variety of fields. Now, out of the blue and without notice, this grant has been severally reduced. One of the things that the Martin Committee did strongly recommend was research into the teaching functions of the universities -
Increased research is needed within the universities on the more practical problems of education, particularly as they relate to the selection of students, their courses, their teaching and their performance.
Once again I emphasise what I have said about science allocations for secondary schools and what I intended to say also about technical college allocations. Here again the Government is making money available for the material requirements of the university. It is not interested in following the matter up to see how effectively these grants are being used; how effectively the material resources are being used. The Martin Committee, in its very searching inquiry into many aspects of university education, is obviously not pleased or impressed with the efficacy of the use of these grants. As a matter of fact, at page 45 of its report it said -
The graduation rates of full-time students have not shown appreciable improvement in the past six or seven years.
That is an important point to note because at least six years ago, when I came to this Parliament, that was the thing that honorable members were discussing more than anything else - the failure rate at universities. Why were students failing in such great numbers? Why were they taking so much longer to complete degree courses than they ought to have taken or were expected to take? Here we are, some six or seven years later, and we have to make much the same complaint. We cannot even blame it on the fact that so many of them arc doing course part-time. The paragraph I have just read referred to full-time university students. We cannot overlook the fact that every now and again we have to make interim adjustments to the grants for the three or four year period. I am wholeheartedly in favour of the idea that we should let the universities and other educational institutions know some years in advance the amounts of money they can expect from the Government. They can plan their programmes much more effectively if they know this. But it seems to the Opposition that someone is making very poor judgments of the university needs when we have to keep putting through these interim measures.
I do not expect the Universities Commission, or for that matter the vicechancellors, to know exactly what the universities need, but I suspect that the investigation and assessment of needs are not made with the precision we ought to be able to expect. After all, we read daily in our newspapers that university students are sitting in corridors and on the floor of the library of the University of Melbourne. It is grossly overcrowded. We are still reading of the large numbers of students whose parents have kept them at school in order to matriculate, who have matriculated but who have been turned away from the universities by the imposition of quotas. There is something wrong when we are not able to predict requirements with more accuracy.
Maybe the Martin Committee did have something particularly relevant to say on this subject when it spoke about the need for better administration at the university level, It said that many of the vicechancellors were grossly overtaxed in the demands made on them as far as administration was concerned. The report went on to say - . . there is the urgent need for more permanent senior administrative officers to ease the work of the vice-chancellor by assisting him in academic planning and policy making and concomitant financial implications.
I can quite imagine that university administrators must have a very heavy task imposed on them with the greatly increased university populations that they have to deal with, the organising courses and all the rest of it. Therefore, it comes pretty hard for them to have to turn aside from that work and assess what their needs will be for the next three years. I hope that the Government and the universities will take notice of this recommendation of the Martin Committee and bring into our universities an increased measure of efficiency by the provision of more administrative staff. In finalising my remarks, I indicate my strong support for the amendments moved by the Leader of the Opposition. It is very obvious that we do need an overall survey of the needs of education in Australia. You cannot do this thing piecemeal. If you make ad hoc, or even planned, allocations in certain sections of education and neglect other sections, then it means that your provisions are going to be uneconomic. It means that the provisions you make are going to be undermined by what you have not done at the lower level.
All education from the primary school right through to the university has to have continuity. If there is a weak base at the primary school level or at the secondary school level, then obviously it is going to be reflected in the failure rate at the higher levels of education. Therefore, like the
Leader of the Opposition, I plead with the Government to have another look at this question of a national survey of the various levels of education. I very particularly ask the Government to go back to the Martin Committee’s report once again and have a look at its very worthwhile recommendations for Commonwealth support of teacher education. To me, that is one of the really fundamental omissions from the Government’s programme. I ask the Government to have a look at that again, and I hope it will have second thoughts on it.
.- I support wholeheartedly the remarks of the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). He has pointed out very effectively, I think, where the interest of the Government lies in education. First of all, it is dilatory; it steps into the field in a very slow manner. Secondly, it is perfunctory. It does not examine the position carefully at all. Thirdly, it is based upon the political expediency of attempting to capture the public with the idea that the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party are interested in education. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps nothing exemplifies this better than the fact that I am speaking directly after my colleague the honorable member for Barton. Where are all the Liberal Party and Country Party spokesmen on this subject today? Why are they sleeping soundly wherever they are sleeping? Have they no conscience in the matter? Do they not understand that we are debating here today a matter of vital interest to the nation? We are not debating simply a question of aid to State and non-State schools. We are discussing three separate items - aid to science laboratories in State and non-State schools, a certain amount of assistance to universities, and a certain amount of assistance to technical education.
We of the Australian Labour Party, which I represent at the moment, are interested in and vitally concerned with education. It is, of course, symptomatic of Australia’s development that those States which have had Labour Governments consistently in the past, have made the greatest advances in education. This is certainly the case in New South Wales. One has only to peruse the statistics relating to universities to discover that in New South Wales a bigger percentage of students reached the univer sities than in Victoria or any of the other States governed by other than Labour Governments. In Tasmania, the school leaving age has been 16 for many years. I wish there was some way in which one could indicate dramatically in “Hansard” that a Liberal Party spokesman or a Country Party spokesman should be speaking at this hour at which I am speaking. Nothing indicates the dilatory and rather expedient way in which they are approaching the whole question of education better than does their silence now. The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp), who is interjecting, will have his chance to answer me. He only had to put his name down a moment ago and he could have been speaking now in my stead. But, of course, he has been silent. I do not know whether he is going to speak, but the Opposition Whip has given me to understand that, again, the rest of the Government side are going to be silent on these matters. The honorable member may not wish to enter into the controversies associated with some of these points, but at least he ought to be able to make some contribution to the development of thinking on education in this Parliament. I entered this Parliament in 1955.
– The honorable member is skirting ali round the Bill; he is not talking about the Bill.
– I am talking to the Minister, and to his Party. I am pointing out the errors, the inconsistencies and the expediency of honorable members opposite. If the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) wishes to speak in this debate, I think there is plenty of space on the programme for him to do so. I entered this Parliament in 1955. I am glad the Minister has given me the opportunity to repeat that. Previous to that, there had been no major debate on education since about 1945 when the Commonwealth entered the field of education with the Commonwealth Education Act. During the following years, the Commonwealth became intensely concerned in many ways in education. First, it became interested through the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, and, flowing from that was a rather consistent approach towards assistance to universities. So, in a way, the Bills we have before us stem from the actions that were taken some 20 years ago when an act was passed by this Parliament and was given wholehearted support by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies).
From then on, we on this side of the House have continually raised, during the debates on the Estimates, by raising questions of urgency and so on, the need for the Commonwealth to adopt a more proprietary attitude - if one may call it that - and certainly a more interested attitude and a more definite financial responsibility in the field of education. The Bills before the Parliament today are a clear demonstration that our campaigning has produced some results. I believe it is fair to assert, as did the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and my colleague from Barton, that this is again a very diffident step into the field of education. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, science education cannot be divorced from the need to advance and improve education at all levels and in all fields, and it will suffer unless an immediate inquiry into all aspects of education is instituted.
Why are we assisting non-State education with capital grants? As the honorable member for Barton pointed out in reply to the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), who did not previously have any opinion on this matter, the decision was made by the Prime Minister as a political expedient at a time of election. When one examines the implications of it, one may say that it is one of the finest pieces of political cynicism with which the Government has endowed this country over the last few years. I shall examine in a moment the significance, so far as finance and the numbers involved are concerned, of the steps that are being taken. We believe that the Commonwealth itself must accept a national responsibility for education. We do not believe that this is necessarily a takeover bid. For my own part, I am interested in the devolution of power and the increasing responsibility at the lower levels in administration, education and through society generally. In the long term, in the nation’s development, and in the short term of the nation’s needs now, the only authority which oan possibly step into the field and give education this leadership is the Commonwealth Government itself, with all the resources it has at its disposal. So, in debating this legislation, we are discussing what, as the honorable member for Barton has pointed out, is relatively chicken feed.
There are four questions before us. First there is the amendment which the Leader of the Opposition has moved and then there are the three Bills which are before the House. I have briefly mentioned the position taken up by the Leader of the Opposition. He has suggested that we must have a national inquiry. We must establish what the needs of education are. We must develop a theory, an approach and a practical attitude to the whole field of education, and we cannot do this until we know what the needs are.
So we come to the Bill for an act to grant financial assistance to the States for science laboratories and equipment in schools. In the definitions clause, the Bill states - “ School “ means a school or similar institution, whether conducted by a State or not.
Of course, the Government and its members have made a great play on this. They have introduced into the Australian education system an entirely new concept. It departs from the basic principles with which Australian public administration in education has been concerned since the Education Act of 1870, or thereabouts. In introducing this new concept, the Government made a fundamental decision as regards education. It decided to give assistance which is different in kind from the assistance ordinarily given to non-State schools in this country. There has grown up over the last 15 or 20 years, and even before then, substantial support for assistance to non-State systems of education by government action of various sorts. In some States the teachers have been trained in the teachers’ colleges and have been permitted to go unbonded into non-State systems. In others there were grants for equipment, or special facilities for people to purchase equipment.
In my own State, it has been the custom to co-operate in the narrower field in the classrooms for many years. I can recall teaching in schools in which the children from non-State schools nearby used the woodwork centre and the domestic arts centre. This kind of co-operation which was developing should be encouraged. I believe that we have to integrate more closely the school systems, both State and non-State. We have to develop closer co-operation. We have to break down the schism between them. We have to prevent the development of two competing systems of education in this country. I believe that on both sides there will have to be considerable leaning towards co-operation in the attitudes adopted.
The issue before the House now has nothing to do with an attitude of that kind. Under the terms of the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill, we are to make grants totalling £5 million in each of the next three financial years. We propose to grant £3,618,900 annually to government schools, £869,300 to Roman Catholic schools and £464,700 to those schools which are described, for want of a better term, by the designation “Other”. I hope that they, in their time and place, will realise how lowly is their status. The independent schools are to receive annually a total of £1,334,000. Counting the grants to be made in respect of independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, this gives a total of £5 million a year. Why is this assistance being given? It is asserted that this scheme represents a step towards equality and amelioration of the lot of the parents of pupils who attend nonState schools. How real is this claim?
What is the position, generally speaking, in Australia today? There are 8,000 government schools, in some places called State schools and in others called public schools, attended by 1,800,000 students. This includes preparatory schools up to senior schools educating to matriculation standard. There are 2,205 non-State schools, with 565,000 students. What has the Government done? It has established a system of endowment for science blocks. In a few minutes, I shall discuss the significance of science laboratories and equipment in schools in relation to education. Let us, for a moment, examine the statistics. The Prime Minister, in his second reading speech on the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill, informed us that 708 independent schools have been registered as applicants for grants, of which 189 have received assistance.
If one were to listen to the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), who, apparently, is to be the senior and only Government spokesman on this subject, one would think that these grants were being made to benefit the people in the community who are in the greatest need. I wonder who are those who have been receiving the benefit. At page 2683 of “ Hansard “ of 9th November 1964, in an answer to a question that had been asked by the honorable member for Barton, are listed the schools in respect of which assistance under this scheme had been authorised at 23rd October 1964. I doubt whether, if one were to go through the list school by school, one would find that the schools listed are really those in the greatest need. I know from my own personal observation, knowledge and understanding, that the independent or non-State schools in the greatest need received not one single penny. This whole so-called scheme is a hoax. It is the product of a first class piece of political cynicism. It is time those Australians who accepted the scheme as a step towards the amelioration of their personal lot looked at it closely and realised that they have been hoaxed.
Let us examine this list of schools that appears in “ Hansard “. One is Abbotsleigh, at Wahroonga, in Sydney. In the last few days, there have been circulated photostat copies of an extract from a report in a Sydney newspaper about the opening at this school of a memorial chapel which cost £70,000 and which seats 500 people. This chapel was completed in January of this year. How did that school fare under this scheme? It is sufficiently well off to spend £70,000 on a memorial chapel, and it received a grant of £2,240 for the equipment of a science block. There seems to be a pretty fair evaluation of the importance of science there. What kind of people send their children to these schools that are receiving these grants? Research Bulletin No. 7, published by the Research Division of National Fund Raising Counsel of Australia Pty. Ltd., shows the fees charged by the independent secondary schools throughout Australia in 1963. Abbotsleigh charges £50 a term, or about £150 a year. Are those who send their children to such schools the people in this community who are in the greatest need? Any suggestion that they are seems to me a doubtful proposition. Are those who can afford £150 a year or about £3 a week for the schooling of their children the people who are in the greatest need? Certainly not.
– Why does not the honorable member quote the fees for all the other schools?
– I shall quote some. The Korowa Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, at Glen Iris, in Melbourne, educates the children of some more of the suffering people to whom this Government hands out largesse. That school received £18,500 for the construction of a science block. The Tintern Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, at Ringwood East, also received £18,500 for a similar purpose. The Korowa school charges £50 a term for day pupils in the senior school. The Tintern school charges £50 17s. I see listed a number of Catholic schools which seem to charge no fees and which have not received very substantial sums. For instance, the Mount St. Joseph’s Girls’ Secondary School, at Nundah, in Brisbane, received £1,050 for the equipment of a science block. Yet the suffering citizens who are able to pay £150 a year to send their children to the Korowa and Tintern Church of England Girls’ Grammar Schools received the benefit of grants of £18,500 to each of those schools.
These are matters of public record. If the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) wishes, I shall give him again the reference to this publication that lists the fees of the independent secondary schools of Australia. It is Research Bulletin No. 7, entitled “ 1963 Fees of the Independent Secondary Schools of Australia “, which is issued by the Research Division of National Fund Raising Counsel of Australia Pty. Ltd. This publication is available in the Parliamentary Library. The grants authorised as at 23rd October 1964 appear in “Hansard” of 9th November 1964 at page 2683.
There are a number of schools which do not charge fees, or, at least, did not submit a return to National Fund Raising Counsel of Australia. It looks as if, for instance, the Soubirous Bridgidine College, at Scarborough, in Queensland, does not charge any fees. Honorable members can look through these lists and see how schools such as that have fared in this handout of assistance that the Government claims will go to the people in the greatest need. As I have pointed out to honorable members opposite, this whole scheme is a hoax. It makes no contribution to the development of education as such or to the welfare of the people in the greatest need. It is merely the product of a piece of political cynicism. The statistics are available. Honorable members have only to examine them. What is the Government really doing, with a great fanfare of trumpets? The honorable member for Lilley, and the honorable member for Robertson, who has been interjecting, but who has not yet gathered enough courage or information to be able to make a speech on the subject, say that the Government’s proposal stems from an act of great moral courage. It seems to me that morality is going at a very cheap price when the non-State schools throughout Australia are to receive annually a total of only £1,334,000.
What would be the real cost of worthwhile assistance to the non-State schools on present figures? I assume that about one quarter of the cost of education in Australia is represented by the cost of maintaining the non-State schools. At the same standard, this might be between £40 million and £50 million a year. I am prepared to debate the question whether the Government should or should not do what it is doing. In my view, it is an error to establish a second system of education that is not answerable to the public, who raise the money for it. But the issue that we face here is the question whether the Government is doing what it says it is doing. It has made a great noise in public about stepping into this field by an act of great moral courage and has claimed that it is helping the people who most need help. No more cynical or more false claim has been made in recent political history. I ask the people who are paying the piper - the citizens of Australia who are sending their children to non-State schools - to examine the situation. Where do we go from here? I shall come back to that question later, I hope.
Why did the Government pick non-State schools? Why did it pick science laboratories? Are science laboratories that element of education in respect of which the greatest assistance is needed? In my view - this, I believe, is borne out by observation, and examination of the situation - one of the greatest difficulties facing the parents of pupils attending non-State schools concerns the economic state of their children. This is the foundation upon which has been based the policy of the Australian Labour
Party for assisting the people who send their children to non-State schools; but there are so many other factors. ATe science laboratories the be all and end all of education? One could imagine this as so. Honorable members opposite, who are showing their interest in education by interjecting, not by making speeches, would assert that this is a magnificent piece of dynamics for education. They have chosen one small item. They will build science laboratories. Why does the Government not step into the field of capital grants for the rebuilding of schools and school grounds? Why has it not done anything for the primary schools?
– We have made a start.
– The Minister says “ We have made a start “. Where will the Government stop? I will be interested to hear this from the Minister.
– The Treasury is not inexhaustible.
– No, but the needs of the people the Minister is talking about are almost inexhaustible. Honorable members opposite must face this issue. The point that should be debated in this instance is whether the provision of science laboratories is the element of education which needs the most immediate attention from the Commonwealth Government. I maintain that this can be challenged. I claim that teacher training and teacher education are the factors to which we should turn our attention.
Nothing is more significant of the attitude of the Government, and of the political parties opposite, to education than their refusal to implement the Martin report on teacher education. I need not take that any further; it was adequately dealt with by my colleague, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). If honorable members opposite are dinkum - to use an Australian idiom - on this issue they will look at the field of education to determine the pre-eminent need. The Martin report has indicated, and this fact has been solidly demonstrated by every authority, that adequate teaching - the supply of teachers, particularly qualified science teachers, and the training of teachers - is the greatest element of need in what might be called the technical side of education. For that, of course, the Government does nothing and, therefore, should be condemned.
The second of the Bills we are considering relates to the provision of financial assistance to universities. We are supporting grants for the building of halls of residence and affiliated residential colleges. Most of us have some knowledge of university residential colleges. I do not decry the amounts that have been granted. I am only rather envious. I recall my own youth, when at about the age of 18 years, I would have gone to a university had I been able to do so. I look with envy at the accommodation being supplied for the fortunate few who are able to occupy residential accommodation in our Australian universities. I suppose one of the greatest difficulties which arises from the geography of our nation of 3 million square miles is that we have 12 or 13 universities scattered about Australia and some 2,000 to 3,000 miles apart.
There is much to be said for an economical approach to the development of faculties. However, we might well find that we would have veterinary science faculties in only two or three universities. This could be the case with some other faculties; certainly in some of the more specialised fields of the humanities - say in the development of Asian languages. How are we to overcome this problem? I believe it is time we examined this problem completely. I should think that the Government could examine the possibility of erecting halls of residence at some of our smaller universities. I have in mind, for instance, the University of New England. Newcastle is to have a university in its own right. The Australian National University at Canberra is developing into one of Australia’s leading universities but still has only about 2,500 students. The university of Tasmania at Hobart has about 2,000 students. Then there is the bigger, but still not overcrowded University of Western Australia. I see no reason why it should not be possible for the Government to erect accommodation at these universities to accommodate perhaps 1,000 students. This would be a radical departure in Australian educational practice in the university field.
– What did the Martin Committee say on this particular matter?
– I am not dealing so much-
– The point is that the honorable member seeks an inquiry into secondary education, but when we have an inquiry into tertiary education, he does not take any notice of it.
– I do. I refer the honorable member to the debate which took place in this House earlier this session and which the Government tried to rush through. I am making an observation on this question of residential accommodation for Australian university students which I think ought to be examined. There may well be other and better answers than the one I have suggested but 1 point out that the University of Melbourne has 14,000 to 15,000 day students whereas the University of Tasmania has only 1,800 to 2,000 students. In establishing a university a tremendous outlay is involved in ancillary services and basic overheads; but the University of Tasmania could probably accommodate an additional 1,500 to 2,000 students without tremendous expansion of the existing faculty buildings. It would be more economic to provide residential accommodation at the smaller universities than to expand existing universities or build new universities. I understand that the final capital cost of the Monash University, which is to take 20,000 students, will be £66 million, or between £3,500 and £3,600 a student. I admit that I have not examined the actual economics of the cost of the residential accommodation on a per student basis. I must admit - and 1 hope not too many students are listening to me - that I think most of the accommodation built for university students throughout Australia is somewhat extravagant. Much of it costs about £3,000 a student. In fact, I think that the expenditure was even higher at International House in Melbourne.
I do not suppose we want to establish barrack accommodation or anything like that, but I have seen the good accommodation which was provided for the military authorities under the direction of the present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) when he was Minister for Works. At Watsonia, for instance, I think the accommodation cost about £1,000 or £1,100 per student. I believe the Victorian Education Department spends about £1,400 or £1,500 per student for residential accommodation in its teachers’ hostels. I am suggesting that we must find some means of providing more accommodation for the great flow of students entering our universities - the children born in 1947, 1948 and 1949. The next three years will be crisis years. I do not think any members of the Opposition do not support the Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill, but I suggest that as the Commonwealth is supplying the finances, we should examine all the implications.
The third Bill before us seeks to grant financial assistance to the States for buildings and equipment for use in technical training in State schools. No-one can offer any real resistance to this. However I must say - and I suppose it is so often said that it might be described as a political cliche - that the proposed expenditure is nowhere near enough. In the next three years some £15 million will be granted to the States. The First Schedule to the Bill details the institutions which are to be assisted. Included in those in Victoria aTe the Bendigo Technical College, the Prahran Technical School and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. In South Australia the institution to be helped is the South Australian Institute of Technology. The limit of grants ranges from about £5,600,000 in New South Wales down to about £501,000 in Tasmania. What intrigues honorable members on this side, particularly those of us who entered the Parliament nine or ten years ago with some experience in the education field, is the way the Commonwealth is drifting piecemeal into participation in the education field. I do not think it is good enough. Any objective honorable member opposite will admit that this is so. Almost every step that has been taken by the Government has been forced on it by circumstances and by political expediency. Seldom has it acted as a result of a considered and planned approach to education, which is what we are asking for now, and what we have been asking for for so long. If honorable members take the trouble to study “ A Statement of Some Needs of Australian Education “, prepared by the Australian Educational Council, which consists of the State Ministers for Education-
– It is all concerned with State schools.
– Yes. I arn not like the Minister; I have no grudge against the State schools.
– What is the honorable member’s grudge against other schools?-
– I have nothing against the non-State schools either. If anyone cares to examine the education policy of the Labour Party he will realise that is our position. I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity to participate in this debate at some stage.
There are great educational needs in State and non-State schools in Australia. In the field of State education the issues are pretty clear cut. Issues such as the size of classes, the need for buildings, the need for equipment and the need tor tearer training have been spelt out year after year. The document “ A Statement of Some Needs of Australian Education “ tells us that the capital expenditure required in the next four years on primary and secondary education is £218 million, on teacher training £10 million and on technical education £30 million; a total of £258 million. And in those fields the Commonwealth will spend £15 million.
I offer this observation to honorable members opposite and people who are advocating a continued stepping into the field of non-State education: They are taking a step which, if they are to be, in the Australian idiom, “ dinkum “ and objective about it, must take them all the way and must involve them in an expenditure of £40 million or £50 million a year. Unless they are prepared to accept full responsibility, this is just a political hoax; and it is pretty obvious to me that honorable members opposite are not prepared to accept full responsibility.
.- I intend to devote most of my remarks to the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill 1965, although I appreciate that the House is also discussing the Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1965 and the States Grants (Technical Training) Bill 1965. The first grants given under the States Grants (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Act were given after 7th May 1964, when the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) introduced into the House a bill for that purpose. That bill was introduced after a promise had been made by the Government parties during the 1963 Federal election campaign. That promise undoubtedly was plucked out of the air at that time in order to create a favorable impression in certain sections of the community. I believe that the response to the promise was far greater than any member of the Government parties expected it to be. When the promise was made the Government had a majority of only one in this House, and after the election it came back with a majority of 20. There is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of many people in the community that that promise helped the Government to obtain the large majority that it gained. So, at that stage it was shown that the alleged risks in offering aid to independent schools were not nearly as great as many people had imagined them to be up until that time.
The example set by the Federal LiberalCountry Party Government in offering aid to independent schools has been followed in one form or another by every major political party in Australia. In some instances the Government has followed an example instead of setting it. In the recent New South Wales State election campaign the Liberal Party in that State completely reversed its policy of the 1962 election campaign, undoubtedly with great advantage to its electoral prospects, because after 24 years in Opposition it was returned as the Government. I point out that the now Premier and then Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales said, in his policy speech in the 1962 State election campaign, that independent schools would share in benefits such as free travel and extensions of the bursary system. He said specifically -
Our policy on this subject is limited to our indirect help of this kind. But we do not support direct aid, such as per capita payments, capital loans or interest subsidies.
The present Premier of New South Wales completely changed his mind on interest subsidies. In the recent State election campaign he offered, as one of the points in his platform, payments up to £100,000 this year and up to £200,000 next year for interest subsidies on money borrowed to provide new buildings or to extend existing buildings in independent schools.
But I wonder whether the Premier has yet gone as far as to change his mind on direct per capita grants to independent schools and whether, as the Premier of New South Wales, he is prepared to accept aid under this States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill. One of the main points in the successful operation of this legislation is that the States should act as agents for the Commonwealth in order to channel the money for the independent schools to those schools. The previous Government of New South Wales participated in this scheme. It was prepared to act as agent for the Commonwealth Government. The Liberal Party, which in 1962 was violently opposed to any form of direct aid, is now part of the Government of New South Wales. In no part of the Prime Minister’s second reading speech on this Bill is there any indication that the present Premier of New South Wales has been asked to give or has given an assurance that the New South Wales Government will continue to act as agent for the Commonwealth Government in transmitting to independent schools the aid provided under the Bill that I am discussing. I believe that it is up to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is at the table, to tell us whether the Government of New South Wales has given such an assurance.
I suppose I am being a little naive in expecting that the Premier of New South Wales will stick to the opinion that he held in 1962 and will say: “We do not wish to participate in this scheme because we are violent opponents of direct aid to independent schools “. It was easy enough for him to change his policy on interest subsidies; so I suppose he will find it just as easy to change his policy on whether his Government will act as agent for the Commonwealth Government in channelling this money to the independent schools.
The assistance which was provided under the bil] that was introduced in 1964, and which is being extended for three years under this Bill, has proved most acceptable to the majority of independent schools. When the States Grants (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Bill was introduced in May i964 there were 510 applications on hand. When the Prime Minister made his second reading speech on this Bill last Tuesday night 708 independent schools were registered as being interested in receiving assistance. In the preceding 12 months 189 independent schools have been granted assistance. That means that it will take 3i to 4 years for the 708 applications on hand at present to be satisfied, assuming that no further applications for assistance under this Bill are made by independent schools. As the Minister for Shipping and Transport has interjected on a few occasions in the last half an hour and said that the Government has made a start in this field, I would like to know whether the Government intends to extend the aid that is provided under this Bill. It provides £5 million for each of the next three financial years. Despite what the Minister for Shipping and Transport says there is no indication that the Government intends to increase its aid for science laboratories in State and independent schools.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) named some of the schools that have been given assistance. The information which he gave was backdated to November last year. It is up to the Minister or some other Government spokesman to indicate to the House at this stage which schools have been assisted by grants. It would be interesting to learn also which States are not offering facilities to independent schools to purchase their science equipment through the channels used by government schools. In his second reading speech the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said -
The scheme has been greatly assisted by the co-operation of State Governments, most of which have, amongst other helpful actions, agreed to provide equipment to independent schools through the same channels as those through which they provide equipment to Government schools, thus ensuring equipment being purchased at the lowest possible price.
If the Government is vitally interested in the welfare of the independent schools and in the provision of science laboratories at those schools it is up to it to prevail on those States that are not co-operating in this direction. The policy of the Labour Party clearly would allow this course, because we have no objection to fringe benefits such as these being granted by the States and the Commonwealth or by the Commonwealth alone. I would also like the Minister to ascertain why some States are not prepared to give to independent schools the co-operation that other States are prepared to give. I would like to know why some States take this attitude and whether, if they are controlled by Liberal Governments, they believe in the same principles of aid to independent schools as the LiberalCountry Party Commonwealth Government believes in.
I said earlier that the Bill will provide £5 million in each of the next three years - the same amount as was provided in the last 12 months. There is no indication that the amount will be increased if more than 708 applications are received. The number of applications for grants has increased in 12 months from 510 to 708. I have no idea how much higher the number will go but it seems that most independent schools are now prepared to come into the scheme and that far more than 708 will require assistance. I would like to know also who set the figure of £5 million to be granted for the building and equipping of science laboratories in State and independent schools. No indication has been given to the House as to how this figure was reached or the conditions that were taken into account in arriving at it. Admittedly there is a formula for working out how much will go to government schools and how much will go to independent schools. These are some of the matters that could be disposed of by holding a national inquiry into all aspects of primary and secondary education. This is one reason why the Labour Party has moved an amendment to the second reading. We want the public of Australia to know something of the problems confronting the State schools in providing science laboratories, teacher training facilities, teaching aids and the various other things needed. In addition, a full inquiry would enable the independent schools to place before the public the problems that confront them. I do not think I am being extravagant in saying that I doubt very much whether anybody in Australia could give accurate figures with respect to the capital debt of the independent schools, their interest bill, the amount which Catholic schools are paying for lay teachers, their class load and how far behind State schools they are in providing the necessary teaching aids.
This problem of education is an important one. It is exercising the minds of administrators in every country. At a time like this it is not satisfactory to make piecemeal attempts to solve the education problem. I feel that the granting of aid to independent schools for science laboratories was a political manoeuvre in the first place but in my opinion the independent schools had a just claim to such aid. The aid that has been given to them and which I hope will continue to be given to them is well deserved. During this debate, as in last year’s debate, strong arguments have been advanced that this aid is wrong. Arguments have been advanced that the dual system of education in Australia is uneconomical and divisive. These, too, are matters that could be dealt with in a national inquiry into education. If we are to solve the problem of education in Australia it is up to the Commonwealth, as the chief administrator, to initiate such an inquiry. With the co-operation of the States the Commonwealth should ascertain exactly what the independent schools lack. We must find out whether the dual system of education in Australia is a proper one and whether it should be continued. People in this House who say that the independent schools should be prevented from operating or not given assistance should ask themselves what would happen if only one-quarter of the independent schools in each State decided on the first day of the next school year to close their doors and send all their pupils to State schools. The happenings in Goulburn 12 or 18 months ago showed clearly that the State education system could not possibly carry the loads that would be placed upon it if such action were taken by independent schools. I do not suggest that the independent schools should do this, but I would like those people who are so violently opposed to any aid being given to independent schools to ask themselves what would happen if those schools were forced to close their doors. These are further matters that could be resolved by a national inquiry into education.
In moving the amendment to the motion the Opposition has shown, as it did in moving its amendment to the legislation last year, more awareness of the problems in education than has the Government. I am not criticising for a moment the activities of the Government in the field of education generally. In the last five or ten years it has certainly endeavoured to take up the lag in university education and in other aspects of education, but it still is not doing sufficient. It still is not aware of the real problem confronting our schools, State and independent. Unless there is an inquiry into primary and secondary education along the lines of the inquiry by the Martin Committee, we cannot hope to solve this problem. I think most of the State Premiers would be prepared to cooperate fully in an inquiry of this kind. At the last Premiers’ Conference all Premiers suggested that a national inquiry such as I have referred to should be held.
Those are the thoughts I leave with the House on this occasion. The action of the Government in granting aid to independent schools for the building and equipping of science laboratories has proved very popular with the majority of people but it is not solving the education problem completely. In 1963, the Government picked this proposal out of the hat and used it as election bait. I hope that sufficient members on the Government side will accept their responsibility and will vote for the Opposition’s amendment so that we will have an inquiry into all aspects of education.
.- I want to refer to only one or two matters that arise from the three Bills that are now before us. I do not intend to take up the time of the House in discussing all the matters that could be dealt with. The Opposition finds itself at a great disadvantage in dealing with this legislation, just as it has in dealing with other legislation that the Government has introduced in the last few days. It should be clearly understood by the electors that these three very significant and important Bills dealing with education were introduced only during this week. But the Opposition is expected to give a considered reply and to express a considered opinion on the Bills. Members of the Opposition are being treated with contempt by the Government. It certainly has not extended to Opposition members the consideration that they are entitled to receive when important legislation such as this is being dealt with.
I join with my colleagues in supporting the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). In it he has asked that a committee of inquiry be set up to consider broadly the needs of primary, secondary and technical education and, if necessary, to extend the inquiries that have been held into tertiary education. This is not a new approach by the Opposition. Government supporters who have been members of the Parliament in recent years, especially during the period mentioned by my colleague the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), will recall that the Opposition has been suggesting since at least 1955 that a committee of this kind be established. I do not need to remind honorable members that this has been the subject of questions addressed to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who accepts responsibility for education in the Commonwealth sphere. It has certainly been raised as a matter of definite public importance at intervals in the period from 1955 to 1965. But during this period the Government has shown no interest in the needs of primary and secondary education. It is true that one of the three measures we now have before us provides some assistance for technical education. This again is a matter that has been constantly mentioned by Opposition members, who have frequently pointed out to the Government in recent years that there is a great need for further assistance for technical education. But apart from the interest that it is now showing in technical education which, of course, is far too late, the Government has constantly refused to accept responsibility for primary and secondary education in the various States.
As I have already said, the Prime Minister has accepted what little responsibility for education he believes the Commonwealth should bear and I believe, in fairness to him, that it may be said that in recent years he has taken a very active interest in tertiary education. But surely he must understand that the success of education at the university level depends entirely upon the success of education at the primary and especially at the secondary levels throughout the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister and those who support him have consistently refused to accept the recommendations that have been submitted to him and to the Government not only by Opposition members but indeed by teachers and interested organisations throughout the Commonwealth over the last 10 years. These organisations have pressed the Government to appoint a committee to inquire into all aspects of education. However, we find ourselves again this afternoon asking the Government, even at this late stage with the three Bills now before us, to consider appointing a committee to investigate fully all aspects of education in the States.
It is not sufficient for the Parliament to offer a sum of money for technical education or to assist in the establishment of science laboratories unless it has been told how the money can best be spent. All we have been told is that the Government is willing to extend financial assistance for a further three years, during which a sum of £5 million will be allocated to assist in the provision of science laboratories and equipment. Clearly the Government does not know how many teachers will be required in the future to teach in the science laboratories that it hopes will be established within the next three years. No report has been submitted to the Government on this question. As my colleague the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) said earlier this afternoon, it is not sufficient merely to establish science laboratories; we must be certain that we have sufficient trained teachers available to teach in them. I believe that, if the Government were to investigate the position fully, it would find that in recent years very few teachers teaching science subjects have had the appropriate academic qualifications from a university. But the Government refuses to accept this situation. I do not believe that any honorable member would deny that the Government decided initially to make a grant to State Departments of Education for the provision of science equipment and laboratories as a matter of political expediency. One need merely refer, as I have already done, to the number of occasions on which honorable members on this side of the House have requested the Government through the Prime Minister, and those who represent him in the field of education in this House, to give some consideration to establishing a committee of inquiry, and to recognise the need that exists at all levels of education for Government assistance.
Immediately prior to a general election the Government seized the opportunity to make a sum of money available, not only to assist in providing science laboratories in State schools but also - entering into a field that was previously outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government - in independent schools. There is a body of opinion in this country which believes that the independent schools have substantially benefited as a result of the Commonwealth legislation. I hope that as a result of the Commonwealth’s intervention in this field there has been an improvement in the teaching of science subjects in independent schools. Most honorable members appreciate that in some independent schools there is certainly a need for improvement, not only in their teaching methods, but also in the facilities that are available to them.
The Government has now decided, through the provisions of one of the three measures before us, that it will extend its assistance to both government and independent schools in the various States. Tasmania cannot take a great deal of comfort from the amount that will be made available to either the government or independent schools in that State. According to the table which the Prime Minister was good enough to supply in his second reading speech, and which deals with the amounts to be made available in the various States for science buildings and equipment in secondary schools, both government and independent, Tasmania will receive £165,500. One could hardly claim that that magnificent sum will improve the situation to any great extent in Tasmania.
I have touched upon one or two of the requests that the Opposition in this House has made to the Government in recent years. A request for an independent inquiry, which we believe is so important, has been sought, as I have already indicated, not only by honorable members on this side of the House, but also by interested organisations and people throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. The Government has accepted responsibility for two inquiries at the university level. It appointed, in the first instance, the Murray Committee on Australian Universities. I believe that all honorable members acknowledge the great incentive that the Government received as a result of the Murray Committee’s report. They would acknowledge that some improvements were effected in tertiary education as a result of that inquiry. More recently the Martin Committee’s report has been presented to the Government, but once again the Government has chosen to ignore many of the principles and important recommendations contained in that report. I believe that had the members of the Martin Committee had the opportunity to consider this matter, as the Murray Committee did so many years ago, it would have decided, as did the Murray Committee, that not only did there exist a need for a re-examination of some of the problems affecting tertiary education, but that some consideration ought to be given to an investigation of the problems of primary, secondary and technical education as well. 1 have already said, Mr. Speaker, that the Government is moving to provide a measure of assistance for technical education, but it still ignores its great responsibility to improve the standard of education at the secondary level. Consideration should be given to the question of standards. The school leaving age was referred to by my colleague the honorable member for Wills. Tasmania, many years ago, accepted responsibility for extending the school leaving age from 14 to 16 years despite the fact that there was a shortage of teachers and there were financial difficulties. Everyone in Tasmania who takes an interest in this matter - ‘particularly the Department of Education and parents - appreciated that the decision to increase the school leaving age was a step in the right direction. Tasmania certainly would not depart from the principle that it adopted many years ago of raising the school leaving age to 16 years. Every other State in the Commonwealth, at some time in its career, whether it has had a Labour or a Liberal government, has made some move to increase the school leaving age to 15 years, but very few States have given effect to their intentions because of the financial difficulties with which they are faced, and because of the shortage of teachers and the shortage of school buildings.
I think that all honorable members in this House are fully aware that the shortage of trained teachers is not peculiar to any particular State but is common to all States. Buildings are being used which are inadequate for their purpose. It has been pointed out in this House on many occasions that departments of education are using buildings that were previously used for other purposes. Some departments have been obliged to use church halls and the buildings of other institutions to accommodate the children who are attending State schools, particularly at the primary level.
Where does the responsibility lie for the great influx of school children? As has been pointed out on other occasions, the influx has come about as a result of the Government’s immigration policy. State Government departments have been faced with the responsibility of providing for a greatly increased school population at both the primary and secondary levels. Those are some of the matters that this Government ought to have considered, and we would hope that they would be considered if a committee of inquiry were appointed. Such a committee would surely report back to the Government that the facilities that exist in every State of the Commonwealth, at the educational levels to which I have referred, are inadequate.
We are now debating three measures which concern, once again, the extension of facilities and financial assistance for the universities in Australia. A further purpose of the legislation is to provide assistance for technical schools throughout the Commonwealth, and another purpose is to extend the principle of financial assistance for science laboratories for all schools, independent or State, throughout Australia. But there is still no assistance to be provided for those other important aspects of education at the primary and secondary school level to which I have just referred. Again I refer to Tasmania to make my point in this respect. I have no intention of dealing with parochial matters, but I believe that in Tasmania we have been able to advance in certain directions. We have not been bound by the type of educational systems that exist in some other States. We decided in Tasmania some years ago that it was no longer necessary to retain, except in the larger cities, the technical colleges as they are known in other States. Tasmania now has what are known as comprehensive schools which, in addition to providing for technical subjects, have a bias towards academic subjects.
What would be the situation confronting Tasmania if this Government continued to extend its principle of providing financial assistance for technical schools? Obviously, Tasmania would be in serious difficulties because its technical schools are bound up in the comprehensive schools which teach not only the trade subjects to which the Prime Minister referred in his second reading speech but also academic subjects. I remind honorable members again that there is an obvious need for a committee to be appointed to consider the standards of education that apply throughout the various States of the Commonwealth. No real attempt has been made in recent years in this country to determine a standard of education that can be applied from one State to another. Standards differ in all States. The school leaving age is different in each State, and the States differ in their approach to the type of buildings that may be used. They certainly differ in their standards of education. It is conceivable, of course - I acknowledge this at once - that the standard or method of education adopted in one State may not necessarily suit another State, but this does not mean that there is not a great need for the type of inquiry to which I have already referred and to which my colleagues have referred during the debate this afternoon. The Leader of the Opposition in resuming the second reading debate stressed the need for a committee of inquiry. The Opposition has placed this point of view before the Parliament over a number of years. However, the Government has refused to acknowledge that a need exists for such an inquiry. We on this side of the chamber believe on this occasion, just as we have on previous occasions, that the point of view which has been expressed by the
Leader of the Opposition and which calls for an urgent investigation into the needs of all aspects of education in this country should be considered.
I want to turn briefly to a question that has already been mentioned by other honorable members on this side of the House during this debate. I refer to the important question of teacher training. The Martin Committee pointed out in its report to the Government that there exists a need for the Government to accept some responsibility for teacher training at various educational levels. However, once again the Government chose to ignore what in the opinion of honorable members on this side of the chamber is one of the most important recommendations contained in the report - the need to establish teacher training facilities in every State and the need for the Commonwealth to provide a measure of financial assistance to enable this action to be taken at the various educational levels. I know, and I am sure that all honorable members will appreciate, that in recent years, because of the circumstances to which I have referred - the great influx in the school population as a result of the post-war years, immigration and other factors - there have been established in most States emergency teacher training facilities. Although these facilities have been able to overcome the immediate needs, they certainly do not provide in the long term the type of academic teachers that will be required if we are to achieve the educational standards that we should be seeking. The Martin Committee considered this question very fully. It obviously felt that it was necessary for the Commonwealth to accept some responsibility in this field. In its report it emphasised that many of the teachers who are now teaching science subjects are not qualified to teach those subjects. Once again, this is inevitably the result of inadequate teacher training facilities in the various States. Why has the Government chosen to ignore one of the principal recommendations of the Martin Committee?
– How much would it cost?
– Obviously the Martin Committee was able to indicate to the Government, as the Murray Committee did some years ago after its inquiry, that a certain amount would be available to achieve the standards that it recommended. If teacher training was under consideration by the Committee and if the subject was considered to be important, having regard to the other recommendations that the Committee has made, surely the Government should study the advice given by the Committee concerning the cost of improved teacher training.
– Does the honorable member know how much it would cost?
– I am not prepared to engage in a debate with the honorable member at this stage. I have already made the point that a very important recommendation which flowed from the Martin Committee concerned the need for teacher training in Australia. The Government has chosen to ignore that important recommendation and, as a result, the amount of money that is to be made available for the extension of technical training in the various States, the additional amounts to be made available for university education as a result of this legislation and, in addition, the amount that is being made available for science laboratories will not be fully effective because the Government has refused to accept the principal recommendation contained in the report - or one of the principal recommendations - which stated that there also exists a need for improved teacher training facilities in the various States.
I want to conclude by emphasising once again that the Government adopted a very important principle when it came into this field, but did so, in the opinion of honorable members on this side of the House, principally for political expediency. It is to be hoped that the Government will achieve success in its aim for which the money is to be spent, and that the expenditure will be applied in such a way that it will effect at least some improvement in the schools. The Government intends to proceed with its policy. The Opposition believes that whilst the Government has a responsibility for education in Australia which it should accept, it has a responsibility also to give effect to the recommendation which has been made so frequently by honorable members on this side of the chamber and which today has been incorporated in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition to establish a competent committee of inquiry to consider all aspects of education in Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I will not detain the House for very long but I wish to say, first of all, that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is not acceptable to the Government. Indeed, I think that if the wording of it were studied closely by members of the Opposition I would be surprised if a large number of them would accept it. I think the number who accepted it yesterday was 34. The wording is -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, this House is of opinion that the scheme proposed by the Bill is inadequate as science education cannot be divorced from the need to advance and improve education at all levels and in all fields and will suffer unless an immediate inquiry into all aspects of education is substituted.”
The word used in the circulated amendment is “ substituted “, not “ instituted “. In other words, if this amendment were carried then the grants for science laboratories would not be made, but an inquiry into education would be substituted. I was not aware from reading the published newspaper reports that this was the spirit of the Labour Caucus on this matter. Presumably it is. I believe that honorable members do not fully understand that this is the import of the amendment moved by the Opposition; that if it is carried the aid for science laboratories will be deleted and a general inquiry, which could take several years to complete, substituted. Honorable members opposite should fully understand this. If the amendment does not mean that assistance for science buildings in schools is to be deleted, then it indicates that the Parliamentary Labour Party is in revolt against the policy laid down by its ruling body. This again is an interesting situation because clearly, if a Labour Government were in office, the policy laid down by the ruling body and still extant would apply until changed.
The Leader of the Opposition used another argument. Many honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who, after having his say and after inviting me to speak is now trying to interject, also used it. It seems to me to be a rather peculiar argument. We are told that because we have done something which the people approved, and which the majority of people want, it is an election stunt. That is rather different from what we heard from honorable members opposite in previous years when they were all clamouring for some form of Commonwealth assistance for science teaching in schools. Not only the Labour Party but every educational authority in the land agreed that science teaching in the schools had dropped away behind. Yet, when the Government tries to do something, it is accused of pulling an election stunt. Of course, having said that, the Opposition says: “ Why don’t you do more? “ This is the kind of inconsistent argument which the Opposition adopts as a standard formula whenever there is any question of finance being given to somebody by the Government. First of all, the Opposition embarks on the argument that the proposal is wrong in principle and that the money should be given in a different way; then when it is apparent that some people will benefit from the grant, and will be grateful for it, we are told that it is not half enough and that more ought to be given. This is the argument that the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) seemed to stress.
I think it is clear that there is a great division in basic political philosophy between the Liberal Party and the Labour Party on this matter. That was made very clear by the Leader of the Opposition. He made no secret of the fact that he believed it was wrong to assist independent schools at all. He believes it is wrong for the Commonwealth not to assume more responsibility not only in financing education, but in controlling education policy. Indeed, in reply to an interjection he stated quite openly that the Commonwealth should be in control of all education throughout Australia.
– That is right, too.
– I am glad to be reinforced by the honorable member for Bass, who, not a few minutes ago, was on his feet stating with some pride that Tasmania had evolved a system of education which was different from that applying in other parts of Australia and which he thought was very good. But now he wants to change it. Where is his consistency? This is the basic division. Although the Leader of the Opposition tried to argue that he was not in favour of an education system which was not diversified and which did not lead to complete conformity, he said that all control should be centralised. I am not going to argue with him at this stage the fact that it is impossible to have an undiversified system of education which does not tend to complete conformity, with centralised control. I simply point out to him that the dangers in such a system are far greater than under the present system. As for me, I prefer not to take the risk. I believe that the Commonwealth Government has been drawn into this field basically to assist tertiary education. It has had to conduct inquiries and to assist where it sees the need. It has had to do something towards meeting the acknowledged greatest need - the deficiencies in science education in secondary schools. But I do not believe there is any validity in the argument of the Leader of the Opposition that because the Government has come this far it should go further and take control of the lot.
There were one or two other points made by the Leader of the Opposition which illustrate the basic division of philosophy between his party and the Government parties. He drew attention to the fact that there were discrepancies between the expenditures of State Governments from the Commonwealth grants. He pointed out that some hundreds of schools had been assisted in Victoria compared with only 11 in Queensland. Surely it is a matter for the State Governments to determine how they will use this money. In Queensland the State Government decided to make large expenditures on modern science buildings in particular schools. In Victoria, with different needs and requirements, the Government decided to equip a larger number of schools with furnishings and fittings. In a democratic community such as we have in Australia there should be some local control. We believe that this system will give far better results than if there were a standardised approach by a centralised government.
Another approach was suggested by the honorable member for Wills who tried once again to raise the bogy of class distinction and divisive results through having independent schools. He implied that there should be some kind of means test applied to schools so that some would receive assistance and some would not. Surely the obvious answer to this is that if a means test were applied no Government school would be a recipient because every Government school, potentially at any rate, has all the resources of its State government behind it. Again, the honorable member was in conflict with the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) who said that in his view, although he had the same critical approach to independent schools, there was a great need for improvements in facilities and teachers in independent schools. In other words, he was arguing that the independent schools were inferior to government schools because of lack of money.
So the question of fees has no relation to the means of schools to provide these facilities, and the honorable member for Wills should know that. Of course, he prefers to rely on the old angle of class distinction. What this Government has done has been to make available to everyone, regardless of class or anything else, an equal opportunity to take advantage of this means of bringing their science buildings up to the required standard.
The Leader of the Opposition contended that no attempt had been made to define those standards. Of course, an attempt has been made. There is a committee working in every State now. There is an interchange of ideas. There is a standards committee which is operating most efficiently and which is giving very welcome and appreciated assistance to the Commonwealth Government on this point.
I believe that it is a great thing, when you are in political confusion, like the Opposition is on this particular issue, to start another hare running. As we have listened to this debate, honorable members opposite have been chasing all kinds of hares all over the countryside. They have argued about teacher training and they have argued about finding more money for other types of education, and so on. Of course, they do this. They are in immense political difficulty over this particular issue and they have therefore moved an amendment which opened wide the field for argument on this matter but did not at any time leave any one of them with the honesty to say to this House that if their amendment were carried there would be no aid for science buildings in all schools. I think this should be emphasised once again. Once again, I say that the amendment is completely unacceptable to the Government and, I would hope, to a great number of honorable members opposite.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Cai well’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Freeth) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 18th May (vide page 1587), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Freeth) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 18th May (vide page 1589), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Freeth) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 12th May (vide page 1397), on motion by Mr. Bury -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Customs Tariff Bill, I think, in a number of ways represents a record in this House. In all probability, it is the largest piece of legislation that we have ever been asked to place on the statute book.
– It is the largest ever.
– Its clauses occupy 14 pages and the four schedules another 514, making 528 pages in all. I believe that this measure will create another record by repealing 123 acts of the Parliament that have gone before. It incorporates all the existing customs tariff and customs legislation that has been enacted in earlier years. Despite the substance in all this, I should think that the House will not take a great deal of time in debating these measures.
The Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) in his second reading speech on Wednesday of last week, told us that the Customs Tariff Bill represents a major change in the nomenclature of the Australian customs tariff. At one stage, he told us that it will make no significant changes in the level of duties. In considering this measure, I think that, first of all, it is necessary for us to give some attention to what the expression “ nomenclature” means. The Minister, when he introduced the Bill, distributed to us a very useful handbook entitled “ Introduction to the New Australian Tariff 1965 “. The appendix to that handbook embodies the Convention on Nomenclature for the Classification of Goods in Customs Tariffs, which was signed in Brussels on 15th December 1950. Article 1 of that Convention states - “Nomenclature” means the headings and their relative numbers, the section and chapter notes, and the General Rules for the Interpretation of the Nomenclature, set out in the Annex to this Convention; . . .
The handbook, at page 3 tell us a little more about the two conventions that underly this legislation - the Valuation Convention and the Nomenclature Convention. Referring to the Valuation Convention, the handbook states -
The purpose of this Convention is to secure uniformity in defining value, with the object of facilitating international trade by simplifying customs tariff negotiations and the comparison of foreign trade statistics.
Referring to the Nomenclature Convention, the handbook states -
The aims of the Nomenclature Convention are directed towards:
providing a systematic and logical classi fication of all goods (which enter into international trade);
classifying each product suitably and uni formly in the tariffs of all contracting parties;
providing a simple and precisely worded
Nomenclature using terms and phrases comprehensible to experts and laymen alike; and
facilitating the comparison of national tariffs in the preparation of statistics for negotiations of international agreements.
The Opposition welcomes the adoption of these Conventions by the Australian Government and supports these Bills. We recognise the need for simplification of negotiations and comparisons in international trade, particularly in respect to the terms and classifications used in relation to customs tariffs. These have become, and for a considerable time we in this House have been saying that the Australian system has become, unduly complex and complicated, lt seems to me that the system now replacing the old one represents a useful simplification.
It has taken a considerable time for us and the world to reach this stage. Soon after the First World War, concern was being shown in various parts of the world about the need to simplify the tariff and customs procedures prevailing in various countries. In 1931, in the League of Nations, there was reached a stage at which a convention known as the Geneva Nomenclature was adopted. But, in the atmosphere prevailing in the 1930’s, with the development of trade autocracies in Europe, mainly that of Germany, and also in other parts of the world, these developments did not proceed very far. All that was involved in the trade autocracies of those times is summed up in the handbook which has been provided to us. It states that the Geneva Nomenclature never became a practical proposition, however.
In 1948, when the formation of the European Common Market was under consideration, we again saw movements towards a more uniform customs tariff for all the countries participating in the union. Those countries in Europe took the Geneva Nomenclature, which had been worked out in 1931, and produced a draft list of items derived from it. But in 1950, as a result of developments in Europe, the centre of gravity shifted to Brussels rather than Geneva. Brussels, of course, was the centre of the discussions about the formation of the European Common Market. In December 1950 the Convention on Nomenclature for the Classification of Goods in Customs Tariffs was signed in Brussels. This is the basis for the present development. At that time two other conventions were signed. The Council Convention came into operation in November 1952 and from that point further developments have taken place extending now to the adoption of this procedure by Australia.
It is quite impossible in the 45 minutes available to us to convey to the House any idea of what the new classifications mean. The list of goods set out in the new nomenclature consist of 99 chapters, grouped into 21 sections. Each section refers to commodities that are clearly distinguishable from commodities in other sections and in which there is a logical relationship, the aim of classification being to define the items into which particular goods fall and to subdivide the items so that there is a classification for each article. There are 99 chapters and the 21 sections are subdivided so that it seems to me there are 207 items in each chapter. Clearly enough, I should think, this is to provide scope not only to fit in everything that we need to fit in today, but probably to provide for foreseeable developments in the future.
At this stage there are one or two points of detail that I would like to draw to the attention of the Minister. In his speech the Minister said that honorable members could select any item in the Customs Tariff Bill and by turning to that item number in the concordance - which is a very useful document given to us with the other papers - he could compare the new rates of tariff with the existing rates. The concordance gives us the new proposed tariff classification, the present classification, the most favoured nation rate and the preferential rate for each existing tariff, and by comparing that list with the list in the Bill we are able to ascertain the difference, if any, between the new rates and the old. At one point in the first paragraph of his speech the Minister said -
The new tariff, however, does not make any significant change in the level of duties.
Later he said -
This Bill differs from other tariff bills in that it changes nomenclature, that is the numbering and naming of the items, without changing the levels of duties. 1 have made the comparison that the Minister’s speech suggested we should make between the Bill and the concordance and I can find no significant difference. It seems to me that there is no significant change, but I wondered why the Minister chose to use the word “ significant “. Why was it necessary to use that word in one sentence and then, in another, state that the changes were being made without changing the levels of duties? I do not think the levels of duties have been changed, but I want to make sure that they have not been changed and I want to make sure that I have not missed any change which could be regarded as significant.
The other Bills that are associated with this are included only for the purpose of giving effect to the changes consequent upon the adoption of this new nomenclature, and similarly, the Opposition supports those changes. I do not intend to delay the House any longer. I welcome this enormous simplification of what has been a very complex and difficult subject in the past. I am confident that the changes will make tariffs in Australia and our international trading relations easier to handle. This is welcomed by the Opposition as being consistent with the need to protect our own efficient industries where necessary. Like the Government, we recognise the importance of increasing inter national trade, particularly with the lesser developed countries. In passing, may I say that the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in this House yesterday on another matter is one of which I hope also to be able to express the approval of the Opposition in due course. We agree with the general principles involved. This is a contribution to the easing of international trading relations and is welcomed by the Opposition. We support the Bills.
.- I suppose it will bc refreshing for the House to hear me congratulate the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) for bringing in legislation of this kind. I do so with an air of sincerity because I know that the Minister is not responsible to this department, although he is representing it - and representing it very well - in this House. But I also happen to know that 30 years ago when - and I know he will forgive me for saying this - he was very young indeed, in a private capacity he was the secretary of a body which was working on the very problem of the introduction of the Brussels amendment to the tariff nomeclature. So I guess he will have dual satisfaction in introducing this measure and in having it accepted by both sides of the House in the manner it has been received.
I should also like to congratulate warmly the departmental officers to whom this may have been, if not a delight, a labour of love - although I cannot imagine such a difficult exercise being regarded as a labour of love. It must have been a task which involved a tremendous amount of work. They must be heartily congratulated on having brought it to a successful conclusion. I should like to raise one or two queries. The first relates to clause 19 of the Customs Tariff Bill 1965. This clause requires some clarification. In dealing with it in his second reading speech the Minister said -
Clause 19 takes the place of the third column in the old tariff and this section can be used if it is desired to surcharge goods from countries other than countries entitled to most favoured nation treatment.
That is a significant statement. We should note that the old general rate column is excluded in the new Bill and that the Customs Tariff Schedule will now have two tariffs and not three. However, clause 19, as it appears to me, does not make that clear. It reads -
The Minister may, by order published in the “Gazette”, declare that a rate of duty of twenty per centum of the value of goods applies to all goods . . . and so on. After talking the matter over with officers of the Department of Customs and Excise, I understand that that freedom is necessary and that it is necessary to express it in that way. The House will realise that the clause gives the Minister power to impose a 20 per cent, duty without reference to the Tariff Board or to the House. I admit that any increase in duty imposed in that way would have to be gazetted; but unless the authorities or the committee that considers these matters objected to the increase it could escape the scrutiny of this House. I ask the Minister for Housing for a clear assurance that the power contained in clause 19 will be used only for manoeuvres in regard to the abolition of the general rate. I repeat that I am glad to see that the general rate column has been abolished. It is not important. It has not been important for many years. However, I am concerned because clause 19 does not make it clear that the Minister has not power to increase a tariff without bringing it before the House. If the Minister for Housing, in his kindness, would make a statement on that matter, I would appreciate it.
Secondly, I am disappointed that primage - that old relic of the depression years - still appears in the new customs tariff. 1 hope the House will realise that each time an item that attracts primage is altered primage is automatically abolished. I had hoped that as the Schedule changed from one form to another primage would be automatically abolished. However, I understand that it is impossible to do that. That brings me to another matter. The Minister for Housing said, quite rightly, that there is no or very little significant difference between the old rates and the new ones. However, it is inevitable, in a document of this size, that differences will appear. I do not pretend that I have found the differences. I have had them pointed out to me by customs agents and customs experts. I have received an assurance from the Department that this matter is being considered. I understand that quite a number of variations has crept in. I certainly am not being critical because of that. If I had done this job there would have been thousands of variations. Inevitably, a few corrections will have to be made. I would be interested to hear from the Minister the form in which the corrections will be made so that the rates will be brought back to the ones that are intended to apply.
While I am on this subject, I point out that some items - not many - although they will not move into a higher tariff range, will move up because they are in a different classification which may attract a 10 per cent, primage rate. I would like an assurance from the Minister that the necessary re-adjustments will be made in the form of tariff alterations. Such an adjustment is, in effect, a tariff alteration because an item may attract an extra 10 per cent, of duty, not because the rate of duty is increased but because it now attracts primage. I would like an assurance that such rates will be altered to bring them into line with the original intention of not altering the rate of duty.
These are not meant to be carping criticisms. I believe that this Bill will simplify the tariff, if it can be simplified. At least it will not be quite so complicated. I never pretended that I could understand the old schedule, and it would be foolish for me to hope that I will ever fully understand the new schedule. But in future I will not have the excuse I used to have that the schedule was unintelligible. From now on, the fault will rest more with me than with the schedule. I congratulate the Minister and the officers of the Department, in particular, on the excellent job that they appear to me to have made of this large and important exercise.
– in reply - The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) was good enough to mention to me beforehand one or two difficulties that he had with the Customs Tariff Bill. He has now repeated them. First of all, clause 19 empowers the Minister to surcharge named goods from a named country by 20 per cent.; but it should be noted that in clause 19 (5.) the 20 per cent, surcharge is applicable only to column 3 of the First Schedule. The surcharge is not applicable to the preferential rates in column 4. In the existing Customs Tariff 1933-1965 the third column specifies duties which are applied to countries not accorded most favoured nation treatment. On a number of items these duties are higher than most favoured nation rates and the surcharge varies from 2i per cent, to as high as 45 per cent. Present legislation places no limitations on the surcharge that may be imposed on countries other than most favoured nations countries by amendments to the tariff.
The new tariff will not carry forward the present surcharges and countries formerly affected will receive the benefits of most favoured nation tariff treatment from 1st July 1965. The purpose of clause 19 is to give the Minister a limited reserve power which could be invoked if difficult problems arose in the field of international trade. Other countries have similar provisions. Let me assure the House that this power will not be used to accord tariff protection. Tariff protection will continue to be accorded only after the matter has been considered and reported on by the Tariff Board and the Board’s report has been accepted by the Government. I would also draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that any order that would be made by the Minister - this would be only as a result of a positive decision of the Government - has to be published in the “ Gazette “ and, in accordance with clause 28, has to be laid on the table of both Houses and is subject to disallowance in the same manner as regulations. Opportunity to debate any such order is therefore available to honorable members.
The other matter which was raised by the honorable member for Wakefield, and which was also referred to by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), related to the imprecise reflection of existing tariff rates in the new schedule. As the honorable member for Wakefield pointed out, the new tariff schedule does not always accurately repeat the tariff rates of the existing tariff schedule. In my second reading speech I said -
May I remind honorable members that the main Schedule to the Bill has been translated from the existing Tariff Act in accordance with the Government’s direction that any changes in the levels of duty should be minimal but that rationalisation should be made to produce a workable document.
It is inevitable that in a major recasting of tariff items there should be unders and overs. Where there is little trade significance I think one must accept rationalisation as justified. Where there are areas which cannot be differentiated by wording, I think there may have to be rationalisation; but where there is a clear cut commodity and there has been, by accident, a major variation in the rates of duty, I can tell honorable members that the Minister for Customs and Excise has given an assurance that adjustments will be made to bring the duty levels within the Government’s stated intentions of how the translation should be made.
To illustrate that this is the firm intention of the Minister for Customs and Excise, I point out that since this Bill went to press some three weeks ago discrepancies brought to the notice of his Department have been examined and changes will be made by “Gazette” notice to operate on and from 1st July 1965 in respect of some commodities. These changes will subsequently come before this House as Tariff Proposals next August and be debated in due course. Similarly, if primage duty has been imposed where it was not previously imposed and this involves a significant change in the amount of duty payable, exemption from primage duty can be made quite simply by “ Gazette “ notice under powers conferred by clause 27.
I wish to thank the Opposition for its support of this measure, which I am sure has the general support of wise and rational people everywhere. The Bill is the product of many years work. I wish to acknowledge the compliments paid and to pay my compliments to officers of the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Trade and Industry who have worked extensively over a number of years to produce this result. Finally I pay a compliment to the Parliamentary Draftsman, for whom this legislation has been a labour of mammoth proportions, being the largest Bill ever introduced into the House. It has involved a fantastic amount of work. Freed from this: major task the Parliamentary Draftsman will be able to expedite other matters awaiting his attention. All parties concerned with the measure have worked long and very late hours in order that it shall become law under due process by 1st July next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Bury) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 12th May (vide page 1398), on motion by Mr. Bury -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Bury) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 12th May (vide page 1398), on motion by Mr. Bury -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Bury) read a third time.
Bill presented by Mr. Bury, and read a first time.
Mr. BURY (Wentworth- Minister for
Housing) [5.50]. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill now before this House provides for the validation until 30th June 1965 of the collection of customs duties introduced by Customs Tariff Proposals on 1 8th and 23rd
March 1965, 8th April 1965, and 6th and 11th May 1965. These were the Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 31 to 38 and Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Proposals No. 4. Honorable members will appreciate that these Proposals, which, as introduced, conformed to the legal tariff at that date, are required to continue to operate on and after 1st July 1965. The language used in the Proposals, but not the rates, needs to be changed to conform to the new tariff for imports after 30th June 1965.
As the Act to which these Proposals relate is to be repealed after 30th June 1965 these Proposals would lapse at that date, but, in addition, the duties collected would not have been legally imposed without the enactment of this Validation Bill. The tariff changes contained in the Proposals covered by this Bill will be re-introduced by notice in the Commonwealth “ Gazette “ to operate on and from 1st July 1965 and Tariff Proposals will be introduced into this House within seven days of its next sitting in August. The Proposals will then be debated at an appropriate time. I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Question - by leave - put, and resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Bury) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
– by leaveIt has been brought to my notice that the text of the amendment circulated in the name of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill 1965 concluded with the word “ substituted “. I am told also that the motion put by you, Mr. Speaker, used the word “ substituted “. I am told further that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is away from the House at the moment and whom I have been unable to contact at short notice, referred in his speech during the second reading stage to the use of the word “ substituted “. Through circumstances with which you are familiar, Sir, the word “ substituted” was erroneously substituted for the word “instituted”. Through circumstances of which you know, my leader cannot be here. I thank the House for giving me the opportunity to correct the “ Hansard” report of the amendment. I believe that the “Votes and Proceedings” will state the amendment as it was intended. I thank the House for offering me the opportunity to make this correction as soon as I knew of the need for it and as soon as I was able to make it.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The operation of the existing legislation under which Commonwealth financial assistance is provided to the gold mining industry expires on 30th June 1965. The purpose of the Bill before the House is to provide for continued assistance to the industry for a further period. The gold mining industry is one of considerable importance to this country. The annual value of gold produced in Australia and the Territories is currently about £15 million, practically the whole of which represents an addition to Australia’s international reserves. Moreover, centres of population in outlying areas, particularly in Western Australia, are heavily dependent on gold mining for their continued existence.
The gold mining industry in Australia has to contend with two major difficulties. The first, which is shared by gold producers in other countries, is that there has not been any increase in the official price of gold for very many years. The second is that of declining production of gold because of the gradual exhaustion of the better grades of known ore resources and the consequent gradual fall in the average grade of mined ore. The mines have done much to help themselves. Most mines, including the large Kalgoorlie mines, have been able to offset cost rises to a large extent by increasing efficiency of production. Cost savings have been brought about by increased mechanisa tion, the introduction of cheaper and more efficient mining aids, and other forms of managerial action. However, despite these cost savings the general trend is one of gradually increasing costs per ounce of gold produced. Indeed, if financial assistance for the industry were withdrawn, there is little doubt that a sharp contraction in gold mining activity would be inevitable on the basis of the present world price of gold. In this situation, the need for the continued provision of financial assistance to the industry ds self evident.
The Government has given careful consideration to the form the financial assistance should take after the present legislation expires on 30th June next, and in this connection we have had the benefit of consultations with representatives of the industry. The Bill before the House embodies and gives effect to the conclusions we have reached. Before coming to the proposals in the Bill, I believe it will be helpful to honorable members if I briefly outline the main provisions of the present legislation.
The existing legislation takes two forms: A subsidy scheme and a development allowance scheme. The two schemes are alternative means of assistance; a mine may claim either subsidy or development allowance, but not both. The subsidy scheme, which is embodied in the Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1962, provides broadly that mines with a cost of production of more than £13 10s. per ounce of fine gold are eligible for subsidy equal to three-quarters of the amount by which their average cost of production in a subsidy year exceeds £13 10s. per ounce, subject to a maximum rate of subsidy of £3 5s. per ounce and a 10 per cent, profit limitation test. “ Small producers “ - generally, those with an output of not more than 500 ounces a year - are eligible for a flat rate subsidy of £2 8s. per ounce irrespective of their costs of production and profits.
The development allowance scheme was introduced in 1962 and is embodied in the Gold Mines Development Assistance Act 1962. Its detailed provisions are complex, but the guiding principle is that development allowance is payable to the extent that a mine’s expenditure on approved development in a year exceeds a defined base expenditure - generally, the average annual amount spent by the mine on development during the three years preceding 1962-63. For the purposes of the scheme, development means, broadly, exploration of the mining property and the preparation of ore bodies for mining operations. The scheme was designed primarily to meet the needs of some of the large Kalgoorlie mines which did not then qualify for subsidy and whose longer term prospects would be improved by the provision of assistance to enable them to increase the amount of work they were doing on development. There has been a substantial change in the industry’s circumstances as compared to those which gave rise to the introduction of the development allowance scheme.
With the steady rise in the average cost of producing an ounce of gold, most of the mines have reached the stage where their costs have risen above £13 10s. per ounce, which is the commencing point for eligibility for subsidy. Since the subsidy scheme is generally of more value than the development allowance scheme for mines in such a position provided they are not affected by the 10 per cent, profit limitation test, the mines concerned have tended to become claimants for subsidy rather than development allowance. Moreover, the development allowance scheme has in practice been of rather less benefit to the industry than was anticipated because of the physical limitations encountered by the mines concerned in stepping up the rate of their development work. In other respects, also, the development allowance scheme has been found to have some unsatisfactory features, particularly so far as its administration is concerned.
The Government has therefore decided that the development allowance scheme should not be renewed after the present legislation expires on 30th June next, and that future assistance for the industry should be provided through continuation of the subsidy scheme in a liberalised form. The liberalisations have been devised having regard to discontinuance of the development allowance scheme as such, the effect being to absorb to some extent the development allowance scheme into the subsidy scheme. In addition, of course, the liberalisations have due regard to the deterioration in the industry’s general financial position since the question of assistance was last reviewed some three years ago.
The two main ways in which the Bill provides for liberalisation of the subsidy scheme are, first, abolition of the 10 per cent, profit limitation test that at present qualifies the subsidy entitlement of large producers and, secondly, an increase in the maximum rate of subsidy payable to large producers and in the flat rate subsidy payable to small producers.
As honorable members will be aware, inclusion of a profit limitation test is a usual feature of Commonwealth subsidy legislation, and derives from the thoroughly sound principle that the taxpayer should not be called upon to provide assistance which results in a more than reasonable level of profits for the recipients. In the case of the gold subsidy, however, there are other provisions embodied in the scheme which provide safeguards against the making of unreasonably high profits, namely, the gearing of the subsidy rate for large producers to a particular mine’s costs of production, and the fixing for subsidy purposes of the selling price of the subsidised product. Having regard to those distinctive features of the gold subsidy scheme, and after considering representations made by the industry about the undesirable effects that retention of the test could have in particular sets of circumstances, the Government has decided to remove the profit limitation test from the subsidy scheme in its extended form.
It is estimated that the immediate cost involved will be in the vicinity of £50,000 per annum but it is expected that the cost will rise significantly above that figure over the period of the renewed legislation. Commencing with the financial year 1965-66, the maximum rate of subsidy payable to large producers is being increased from £3 5s. per ounce to £4 per ounce. This is a substantial increase, but the Government has decided that it is warranted in view of increased per ounce costs of production since the rate was last reviewed and further cost increases that are in prospect. With regard to small producers who are eligible for a flat rate subsidy rather than a rate of subsidy determined by reference to their costs of production, the practice ever since the subsidy scheme was first introduced in 1954 has been for the flat rate subsidy to be three-quarters of the maximum rate for large producers. The Bill provides for continuation of this practice, so that the flat rate subsidy for small producers will become £3, rather than £2 8s., per ounce as from 1st July next.
The existing subsidy scheme contains a special provision under which a producer with an annual output of more than 500 ounces can, if be wishes, elect to be treated as a small producer. If he does so elect, the rate of subsidy payable on the whole of his production is the flat rate subsidy for small producers reduced by one penny for each ounce by which his production exceeds 500 ounces. An appropriate adjustment is being made to this provision by reason of the increase in the flat rate subsidy payable to small producers. The amount of one penny to which I have referred will become one and one-fifth pence, or one cent when decimal currency is introduced. The effect of the adjustment can be illustrated by taking the case of a producer with an annual output of 740 ounces who elects to be treated as a small producer. At present, the rate of subsidy payable to such a producer is £1 8s. per ounce - that is £2 8s. less 240 pence - or an annual total of £1,036. As from 1st July, it will be £1 16s. per ounce - that is £3 less 288 pence - or an annual total of £1,332.
The immediate cost of the foregoing increases in subsidy rates is estimated to be between £20,000 and £25,000 per annum. The cost will, however, rise substantially as and when additional large producers become eligible for subsidy at a rate in excess of the existing maximum rate of £3 5s. per ounce. In addition to the two main liberalisations 1 have outlined, the extended subsidy scheme provided for in the Bill contains some liberalisations which are of rather lesser consequence but which are nevertheless still of significance. Chief among these is a provision under which a large producer will be able to include in his costs for subsidy purposes one half of costs incurred in approved exploratory diamond drilling elsewhere than on his mining property.
For this purpose, the yardstick for approval will be whether the diamond drilling, if it resulted in the discovery of gold bearing minerals of payable grade, would contribute to the continued production of gold bearing minerals in, or in the vicinity of, an existing gold mining area. At present, none of such costs can be included in the determination of subsidy entitlement. Bearing in mind that in the long run the future of existing gold mining communities will be influenced by the success or otherwise of efforts to locate and open up new ore bodies, the Government has decided that inclusion of the provision I have outlined is desirable.
The Bill also provides for the removal of two restrictive provisions in the present Act. In the subsidy scheme as it now stands, a large producer’s entitlement to subsidy is subject to reduction if his expenditure on development exceeds a certain amount or if the grade of ore being mined falls below a certain level. In the present day circumstances of the industry, and having regard to the discontinuance of the development allowance scheme, we believe that these two restrictive provisions should not be renewed. Instead, we have concluded that a producer’s entitlement to subsidy should be subject to reduction only if, and to the extent that, he fails to observe good mining practice. The Bill accordingly contains a provision to the latter effect.
Finally, I wish to point out that the Bill provides that the renewed subsidy scheme will on this occasion operate for a period of five years. In accordance with the usual practice with respect to Commonwealth subsidy legislation generally, the gold subsidy legislation has in the past been enacted for maximum periods of three years at a time. The industry requested that the current extension be for a longer period so that the mines would be able to plan their expenditure and funds raising programmes on a more secure basis as to the duration of the extended scheme of assistance, and the Government has decided that in the industry’s particular circumstances the request should be granted.
The gold mining industry occupies an honoured position in the history of the development of this vast continent. The Government believes that the revised measures of assistance provided for in the Bill should meet the industry’s reasonable needs for the period of five years covered by the Bill and, in particular, will serve to stabilise for that period the financial position of gold mines on which centres of population in outlying areas are so dependent. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Webb) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 18th May (vide page 1594), on motion by Mr. McMahon - That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this Bill which is to provide for the reestablishment in civil life of national servicemen. The Opposition does not intend to oppose the Bill but there are several features of it that it intends to criticise. Before proceeding with the Bill I want to raise an emphatic protest at the short time the Opposition has had to consider this important piece of legislation. The Bill was placed before the Parliament on Tuesday and the Opposition has been expected to analyse it during the short period that has been available since then. There are 37 pages in this document and 60 clauses, some of which are very involved.
This is the way in which the Government runs the business of this country. It expects the Opposition to present its case on this Bill in the short period that has been allowed. The Department of Labour and National Service has been preparing this legislation for some months, yet the Opposition is given just a few short hours to consider it and present its reply. It is not good enough. At least a week should have been provided, and even that time would have been hardly sufficient to consider a bill of this description. This important legislation deals with the future of our young men who are called up for national service training. The Bill provides for their reestablishment in civil life. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) stated in his second reading speech that the Bill was directed to three purposes - first, the protection of the interests of national servicemen in relation to their reinstatement in civil employment; second, the protection of national servicemen in relation to obligations they had entered into before becoming liable for national service; third, the facilitation of the re-establishment of national servicemen in civil life on completion of their period of continuous national service.
The Minister stated also - . . that national servicemen who serve in special areas will qualify, under the same condi- tions as those applying to regular soldiers, for repatriation and war service homes entitlement.
That provision will apply to them, of course, if they serve in operational areas. He stated also -
In addition, a series of benefits will be provided administratively.
However, the Minister did not say what those benefits are. Surely he could have given us an outline of the benefits that would be provided by the administration but which are not contained in the legislation. He continued -
In addition to any other Army leave due to them on discharge from their period of continuous service, national servicemen will be granted seven days’ termination leave. . . .
The Opposition has considered this statement and it does not believe that seven days’ leave for these national servicemen upon discharge is sufficient. The national servicemen may not have any other leave due to them and, consequently, seven days’ leave at the termination of their service would not, in its opinion, give them sufficient time to get back into civil employment. We suggest that the Minister give consideration to extending the period of the termination leave, possibly to 21 days. We ask him to consider that suggestion in addition to some other points that will be raised by the Opposition and to see whether he can meet our wishes. After all, these lads are conscripts and every consideration should be given to them when they complete their period of national service.
Clause 12 of the Bill provides for resumption or reinstatement after defence service. It places the onus on the employer to re-employ a national serviceman who was an employee for 30 days be.fore being called up. But what happens when a business has closed down and the national serviceman has no job to which to return? There is no guarantee of employment in that case. All that he has is the seven days’ additional leave in which to seek employment. I have no doubt that the Department of Labour and National Service would do all it could to secure employment for him. But what happens when no suitable employment is available? All that he would then get, so far as 1 can see from the provisions in the Bill, would be the unemployment benefit. Therefore, I suggest that seven days is insufficient, even in ordinary cases when the national serviceman has some other leave due to him. After all, he has a period of 30 days in accordance with the provisions of the Bill to enable him to get back into employment. But it is definitely not sufficient in the case that I have mentioned where the employer for whom he previously worked has become bankrupt or has gone out of business and a new job has to be found for the lad. After his seven days’ leave has expired he may have to apply for the unemployment benefit until such time as the Department of Labour and National Service can find a suitable position for him.
– He will be on the dole.
– That is what it amounts to. He would certainly be on the dole and that is not good enough for a lad who has been called up for a period of national service training. Sub-clause (2.) of clause 1 2, which deals with resumption or reinstatement after defence service, states -
The employer shall, upon the member so applying, or as soon thereafter as is reasonably practicable, permit the member to resume work, or reinstate the member in employment, in the occupation in which the member was employed immediately before the commencement of the period of Defence service and under conditions not less favourable to the member than those that would have been applicable to the member in that occupation if he had not been absent, including any increase of remuneration to which the member would have become entitled if he had not been absent.
Penalty: One hundred pounds.
Sub-clause (3.) states-
In any proceedings for an offence against the last preceding sub-section, it is a defence for the employer to prove -
that he agreed to the member resuming work or being reinstated in employment, but the member failed, without reasonable excuse, to present himself at the time and place agreed upon;
that, by reason of a change of circum stances since the member was last employed (other than the employment of some other person to replace the member) it was not within the power of the employer, or was not reasonable or practicable, to permit the member to resume work or to reinstate the member in employment; or
that, by reason of a change of circum stances since the member was last employed (other than the employment of some other person to replace the member) it was not reasonable or practicable to permit the member to resume work, or to reinstate the member in employment, in accordance with the last preceding sub-section, but that the employer had offered to employ the member in an occupation, and under conditions, that were the most favorable that it was reasonable or practicable to offer him.
– That sub-clause relates only to a defence in proceedings brought against an employer.
– Yes, that is his defence. It is clear from a reading of that clause that the onus of proof is on the employer. Nevertheless, I ask the Minister, who no doubt will give me the information when he has the opportunity: Who protects the serviceman’s rights? Who meets the cost of any action that is taken? Does the Department of Labour and National Service prosecute an employer in a case such as this? Perhaps the Department would launch the prosecution, but we want to know. There is nothing in the Bill to say that the Department will do so.
– Yes, there is.
– There is nothing in the Bill to say that.
– We protect the member’s rights.
– Then that clears up one point. We have to know these things and we want them to be shown on the record. There are a few other points that the Opposition considers to be very important. For instance, I understand that if a national serviceman is discharged at the end of his two years’ service and, after having been discharged, he is recalled in the event of a national emergency, he has no rights additional to his reinstatement rights, unless he serves in an operational area. If he is taken into an operational area he would then have the same rights as a regular serviceman, but as I understand the Bill he has no other rights in the case that I have mentioned.
I draw attention to the National Service Bill which was brought down in this House on 13th May. The Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) is reported at page 1540 of “ Hansard “ as having said in his second reading speech -
The second contingency is time of defence emergency. The Bill provides that a national serviceman may be required to serve on fulltime duty in a time of defence emergency for longer than two years but not for a period in excess of his statutory obligation to render five years’ total service.
I should like to know what happens to a lad who is released from national service for a period after serving two years and who is then brought back in time of emergency. Provision should be made, if there is none already, to protect him in such circumstances. For example, he may be called up to relieve another national serviceman who has gone into an operational area. Does the lad who is called back into service continue to receive gratuity? Does he receive termination leave? Does he get vocational training, if that is necessary? Do the moratorium provisions apply to him on his second discharge? Does he come under the provisions relating to re-establishment loans? I am sure the Minister will be able to give me answers to those questions. I hope he does so because they are points which the Opposition wants cleared up. They are not clear in the legislation. The National Service Act suggests that what I have stated is correct and that the serviceman does not come within the provisions if he is recalled for service after completing his first term.
The Minister said in his second reading speech -
National servicemen will be paid a gratuity of £40 on completing their two years’ service, with a minimum payment of £20 for those discharged . . before two years.
The Opposition considers that the amount is very paltry. It represents a sum of £20 a year - less than 10s. a week. Surely men who have served two years in national service training are entitled to more than that. It may be said by the Government that this is the same amount as applies in the Regular Army. That may be so, but I still say that it is not sufficient. A greater amount should be provided as a gratuity when a national serviceman is discharged after two years’ service.
Clause 13 deals with the rights of a national serviceman upon resuming his work. This clause guarantees that continuity of employment shall not be broken by a period of defence service. If the serviceman concerned remains in his former employment for a period equal to that which he spent in service then his period of absence from employment counts for long service leave, superannuation and pension purposes. That clause seems clear enough and the Opposition has no quarrel with it as far as I can see.
Clause 14 of the Bill places the onus on the employer to re-employ the national serviceman for at least a period equal to !he period of national service. The clause states -
The clause goes on to state - (2.) In any proceedings for an offence against the last preceding sub-section, the burden is upon the employer to prove that he had reasonable cause for terminating or varying the employment.
Of course, the employer has to prove that he had reasonable cause for varying or terminating the employment. However, the Opposition considers that the clause is very weak. It would not be difficult for an employer, who had in the meantime engaged somebody else for the job formerly held by the national serviceman and found him to be more suitable to his requirements, to find an excuse to get rid of the national serviceman whom he had to re-employ. I point that out to the Minister in order to draw his attention to the weakness that is apparent.
Part III of the Bill contains the moratorium provisions. The Minister stated that these provisions follow very closely those in the Re-establishment and Employment Act. He mentioned that under this Part transactions must have been entered into before the age group of the national serviceman was required to register under the National Service Act. If deferred from call up the moratorium date is the date upon which the national serviceman receives his call up notice. The point is that commitments entered into by the national serviceman before the moratorium date will be protected; those entered into after that date will not be protected. The Bill gives protection for a period of 12 months after completion of service or, if the period of service is less than 12 months, protection is granted for a period equal to the length of service.
There is provision also for the protection of the serviceman in respect of hire purchase agreements but there is a departure from the wartime moratorium legislation. The difference is this: If a serviceman has a hire purchase agreement involving an amount of less than £40 - for example, £39 - and desires protection, he has to obtain the leave of the court in order to obtain that protection. In regard to an amount over £40, the protection is granted automatically. This is an important departure from previous legislation. It is true that the Bill enables a national serviceman to get relief by going to the court if he is in a position to prove that his case is worthy of relief. But he has to go to the trouble and expense of obtaining that relief, and that is a burden on him. It appears to the Opposition that it would have been advisable to grant protection even where the amount concerned under the hire purchase agreement was less than £40. I think, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister might have a further look at that matter also.
I come now to Part IV of the Bill which deals with vocational training. In the opinion of the Opposition clause 44 is not specific enough. It leaves everything up in the air. I will read the clause because I want to show honorable members just how weak it is. It states -
The House will note the repetition of the word “ may “. Even where the word “ shall “ is used, there is nothing definite about it. The clause simply says that the Minister shall pay such allowances and expenses “ as the Minister determines”. The clause continues - (6.) The Commonwealth may . . . pay tuition and other like fees on behalf of persons undergoing training . . . (7.) The Commonwealth may, subject to such conditions as the Minister determines, provide or supply to persons undergoing training under this Part, or arrange for the provision or supply to such persons, of such books, equipment, appliances and tools of trade as are necessary in connexion with the training.
As I emphasised, the tenor of the clause is that the Minister may do this and may do that. Why does it not state that he shall do these things and that he shall make these provisions? I repeat that even where the word “ shall “ is used in one sub-section it is very indefinite. The Minister stated in his second reading speech that this Bill was not the place in which to give an exhaustive list of the types of situations to be faced in such circumstances. He was talking about the methods to be used in getting these lads back into employment and vocational training. The Minister did not give any list Of the kind to which he referred. Surely the experiences of the Second World War and the Korean War would have enabled the Minister to lay down provisions for at least some of the types of situations that may have to be faced and that were encountered during the operation of the former legislation.
We emphasise that at least these lads should receive the same opportunities as those who returned from World War II and the Korean War. We ask the Minister to bear that in mind when regulations are being framed under the provisions of clause 44. I understand that the details are now being worked out. The Minister is not at the table at the moment, but perhaps my question will be passed on to him, or somebody else may be able to answer it. I should like to know whether we shall be given an opportunity to debate in this Parliament the conditions that will be provided for these lads to be given the required training.
The Minister said that Part IV o. the legislation permitted of arrangements being made with the States for the use of State services and facilities for vocational training. I wonder whether he knows whether these facilities are readily available for that purpose. For instance, I am advised that the South Australian Government cannot provide sufficient facilities for the training of apprentices now. That being so, how are we going to train our national servicemen with the facilities provided by the Government of South Australia? I do not know what the position is in the other States, but the Minister should be able to tell us what can be done in that regard. He should be able to tell us also whether the Commonwealth Government intends to provide the facilities necessary for the training of those national servicemen who may need training.
We want this vocational training scheme to be at least as effective as was the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme after the last war. If that scheme can be improved upon, that should be done, but it was a very good scheme and we want this one to be at least as effective. 1 should have thought that, following on the experience of the operation of that scheme, plans for the new scheme would have been laid down already and put before the Parliament while this Bill was being debated so that we might know just what is involved. We suggest to the Minister that an organisation should be set up immediately to devise a scheme for the training of these lads and that the organisation should comprise representatives of employers, trade unions and the Government.
I come now to Part V of the Bill. This deals with the rehabilitation of disabled national servicemen. It covers those disabled servicemen who will not come within the provisions of the Repatriation Act - servicemen who have not served in operational areas. When the National Service Bill was before the House, the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) had this to say -
The Bill also makes provision to allow a member to remain on full-time duty to complete medical treatment which has begun prior to discharge. In such circumstances he would thus be entitled to pay and allowances under the same provisions that relate to members of the Regular Army and the Regular Army Supplement.
As I understand the position, if a serviceman is disabled while on national service before he has completed his two years of service, he shall remain on his full rate of pay until he is fit for discharge. If I am wrong, the Minister can tell me. But there is one point I should like to have cleared up. What happens if he has a recurrence of the disability after he is discharged? What happens if the disability shows up after he is discharged, or what happens if some disability which was caused during his period of national service training is not discovered until after he is discharged? We know what happens if he is sick or suffers injury while doing his two years national service training. We know that in those circumstances he continues on his full rate of pay until he is fit to be discharged. That is so if I am correct in my understanding of the position. But what happens if he has some injury, or becomes sick, gets fit before he is discharged, and then has a recurrence of the injury or illness after discharge?
From our reading of the legislation, it would appear that such a person would have to make a claim under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act for an injury -he may have lost a leg, perhaps - or if he became sick. Again, if he must make a claim under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, what happens during the period while he is waiting for his claim to be decided? Compensation claims can take as long as 12 months or 18 months before being decided. I now draw the attention of honorable members to the provision which seems to cover such a situation. I shall be very disappointed if it does not because it is the only one that I can see in the Bill which could cover it. These provisions are contained in clause 47, sub-clause (1.) of which reads -
Subject to this section, the operation of Part VIII. of the Social Services Act 1947-64 extends to, and in relation to disabled persons as defined by sub-section (3.) of this section in the same way as it applies to pensioners, claimants for pensions, beneficiaries and claimants for benefits as defined by that Part.
Sub-clause (2.) reads -
For the purposes of Part VIII. of the Social Services Act 1947-64, in its operation as extended by the last preceding sub-section, a reference in that Part to a pensioner, claimant for a pension, beneficiary or claimant for a benefit shall be read as a reference to a disabled person as defined by the next succeeding sub-section.
In a later provision, the Bill deals with servicemen who may have to enter a rehabilitation centre or who may have to be otherwise rehabilitated. I may be wrong, but it would seem to me that the best that a serviceman who either suffers a recurrence of an injury, or who suffers an injury which is not discovered until after he is discharged, can get while he is waiting for workers’ compensation is the benefits provided under the Social Services Act. If such a person is a single man, he will receive £5 10s. a week, and if he is married he will receive an extra £3 10s. for his dependent wife, making his total benefit £8 10s. a week. If that is the position - and it is as I read the Bill - then, in my opinion, it is pretty poor of the Government to treat a serviceman in that way. That provision of the legislation needs tidying up.
Clause 48 relates to those persons who have to enter rehabilitation centres to be rehabilitated. They will receive the equivalent of the invalid pension while attending the centre. I say that the rehabilitation allowance provided for national servicemen under the Social Services Act is not good enough. In my opinion, they are entitled to something more than that and some other provision should be made for them. For instance, why can they not come under the Repatriation Act after having completed their national service? It is not good enough for men who have had to serve their country and who are injured - who lose a leg or suffer some other injury - to be forced to rely upon the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. Something more should be done. The best that a national serviceman whose injury does not reveal itself while he is doing his national service training can hope for if he does not serve in an operational area is whatever benefit is provided under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. That is not good enough for our servicemen.
Part VI of the Bill deals with reestablishment loans. It enables a national serviceman to secure a loan where necesary to enable him to establish himself in a business, a profession or occupation, including farming, in which he was engaged prior to call-up or which he was prevented from entering because of call-up. These provisions are based on the Commonwealth Re-establishment and Employment Act, the provisions of which, of course, are well known io honorable members. In the opinion of the Opposition, some of the features of the Bill to which I have referred should be examined by the Minister. Other speakers may draw attention to other points because, owing to the shortness of the time allowed to us, we have been able to examine the Bill only haphazardly. I suggest that the Minister ought to take the opportunity to look closely at these matters, bearing in mind particularly the points that I have raised concerning vocational training, especially those aspects that will be dealt with by regulation.
This measure is designed to protect national servicemen in relation to their reinstatement in industry, with particular reference to any obligations that they may have entered into. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that they are re-established in civilian life. This measure is patterned on the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945, which was introduced by the Chifley Government during the last war. Those provisions have provided a very firm basis for rehabilitation training. Apart from the points which I have mentioned and which need clarifying, perhaps by amendment of the Bill, this appears to the Opposition to be a reasonable measure. We shall not vote against it at the second reading stage.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, first of all, I should like to deal with the opening bleat, if I may so describe it, of the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). He complained that he had not had adequate time to study this measure before having to take up the debate. I should think that his performance here this evening has indicated to everyone that, in the three parliamentary working days that have been available to him, he has been through the Bill with a fine-tooth comb and, as a result, has been able to deal with it completely adequately in this debate.
– I had to sit up all night studying it.
– Then my honorable friend has great endurance, because he does not look as if he has been subjected to so much strain. He looks very fit. I suppose that, had the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) not brought in this Bill until a later sessional period, the honorable member would have vigorously criticised such delay and said: “ Some national servicemen have gone into camp to start their two years’ training in the forces, and the question of their rehabilitation training has been left up in the air “. In this situation, apparently, the Opposition has it both ways. This is one of the privileges of an Opposition. In this sort of situation, it appears that, in the Opposition’s eyes, the Government cannot be right whatever it does. I suggest that the Minister was absolutely right in bringing in this Bill as soon as it was ready to be presented to the Parliament. Nobody suggests that its presentation was delayed any longer than was necessary. This House has had ample opportunity to consider the measure, and perhaps this point is made clear by the fact that only three or four Opposition speakers are to take part in the debate.
– How many on the Government side are to speak?
– Four. There would have been more if more honorable members opposite had been on the list.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, having disposed of this end of the sessional period bleat from my honorable friend from Stirling, I should like to try to put the problem in its right perspective, because, first of all, it is necessary to have a sense of perspective about the matter before one embarks on a discussion of, or attempts to criticise, the detailed provisions of the Bill. Nobody will deny - least of all will I - that this is a measure of tremendous importance. It is designed to look after the legitimate needs of young men who, perhaps unexpectedly, because of a grave deterioration in the defence situation and in the international situation, particularly in South East Asia, find themselves taken out of their civilian avocations and put into the Services for two years. This is therefore a matter of great significance.
However, I think we should recognise - I believe that the honorable member for Stirling failed to do so - that this is not a measure that has great significance quantitatively. By that I mean this: Whereas the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, which was devised, and very well devised, if I may say so, by the Labour Government in 1945 to cope with the situa tion that arose after the Second World War, had to cater for the re-establishment and reinstatement needs of, I suppose, speaking in round figures, 600,000 men and women who had served during the war, the scheme that is the subject of this Bill has to cater for the needs of a much smaller group in the community.
– But no less important.
– 1 thought I had made that abundantly clear by my earlier remarks. In two years from July of this year, 4,200 national service trainees will come back on to the labour market having served their prescribed time in the forces. Thereafter, trainees will be discharged at the rate of 6,900 a year, lt may fairly be said that not all those men will need the full range of the services provided for in this very comprehensive measure. Because of the incidence of national service and the relatively small numbers involved, the new scheme has to cater for relatively few people. This point should be remembered when one comes to consider the criticisms levelled at certain provisions in the Bill by the honorable member for Stirling. He said that the provisions relating to vocational training in clause 44 - they are continued in clauses 45 and 46 also - were not specific enough. I disagree. That is not a valid complaint.
– I referred to clause 44.
– That is so. I went on to mention clauses 45 and 46, because they deal with the same subject. The honorable member said that clause 44 is not specific enough - that it does not lay down sufficiently specific guide lines. 1 think that is the substance of his complaint on the point. In answer, 1 would say, first, that, if one turns to the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945, which was the creature - a very good creature, too, I emphasise - of the Labour Government, one will find that the analogous provision in that Act was substantially the same. There was very good reason why it should be substantially the same. When we are dealing, as the Labour Government was in 1945, and as this Government is in 1965, with a problem the content of which may change with changing events, flexibility is of critical importance. I would have deplored any provision in this Bill that would have fettered the proper discretion of the Minister in a situation in which the exercise of a broad discretion would be calculated best to achieve the object, namely, the rehabilitation, in a vocational sense, of any young men who have been taken out of the stream of industry or commerce by call-up for national service.
The best illustration of the truth of the Government’s thinking on that point is the wording of the corresponding provision in the 1945 Act - section 50. If one looks at that section, one will find that there is only one material difference between its provisions and those of clause 44 of this Bill. The difference is that whereas under the 1945 Act the Minister was empowered to set up a central reconstruction training committee and regional training committees that power will not reside in the Minister under this Bill. I suggest that there is a sound reason for not putting into this Bill a provision requiring the setting up of the committees which functioned under the 1945 Act. The reason is that under the 1945 Act a scheme had to be devised and administered to deal with a vast number of people - vast by comparison with the number of people who will be dealt with under this measure. It seems to me that it would tend towards top heaviness if we set up under this measure committees of the type that were set up under the 1945 legislation. I suggest that there will be no need for such committees. The committees were no doubt very necessary for the task in hand in the years after 1945, but the task then involved dealing with a great number of people with a great variety of individual problems.
I do not overlook that administration of the scheme enshrined in this Bill will involve looking after the needs of a great number of young men - although relatively few by comparison with previous situations - each of whom will differ in his requirements and in his situation in greater or lesser degree from the others. Human nature is infinitely varied and the virtue of the broad terms of clause 44 is that the Minister - nobody would for a moment suggest that any Minister charged with the administration of this scheme would act otherwise than with the highest level of responsibility - will, by having this discretion, be able to cater for and look after individual situations and individual needs. I applaud the flexibility which is implicit in clause 44. I would not like to see anything done that would cut down that flexibility or detract from it.
I want to attempt to answer, if 1 may, some other points raised by the honorable member for Stirling. After his opening remarks my honorable friend complained about the lack, as he put it, of sufficient disclosure of the administrative provisions that are to be applied by the Minister for Labour and National Service to give certain benefits additional to those provided by this Bill for national service trainees upon their discharge. I venture to say that that criticism was by no means justified, because if one looks at the Minister’s second reading speech one will see that the honorable gentleman set out specifically the administrative benefits that were envisaged. The first was that in addition to any other Army leave due to them on discharge from their period of continuous service the national service trainees would be granted seven days’ termination leave or, at the discretion of the Army, pay in lieu. I know that the honorable member for Stirling complained about the supposed inadequacy of seven days’ leave, and I will return to that in a moment.
The next administrative benefit dealt with by the Minister related to the payment of a gratuity of £40 on completion of two years’ service or £20 for those discharged before two years had expired. The third administrative benefit that was specifically propounded by the Minister in his second reading speech was that his Department would assist national servicemen with any problems arising in regard to their reinstatement rights and, in the case of those without jobs to which they can return, would assist them in securing suitable employment. This indicates that the full resources of the Commonwealth Employment Service will be made specifically, particularly and sympathetically available to those young men when they complete their national service training, whether the term be two years or less. So, the criticism that the administrative benefits have not been sufficiently disclosed is without substance.
In the next paragraph of his speech the Minister dealt with another matter - that of consultation with the relevant authorities, Commonwealth and State, and with the national employer organisations on the question of giving favourable consideration to the adjustment of age limits for appointments or advancement to positions where age limits exist. Those four specific matters show, in my view, a very comprehensive approach - a very benign approach, as it should be - on an administrative level by the Minister and his Department. My honorable friend, the member for Stirling, made a complaint about the supposed inadequacy of seven days’ leave to these national service trainees when they complete their service. The point that the honorable member overlooks is that the seven days’ leave is in addition to any other Army leave.
– I mentioned that.
– If the honorable member did, it was in a very low key and I did not hear it. I should have thought that the honorable member would know - and anybody who has had familiarity with these things does know - that anyone on discharge from the Services is given discharge leave of readily identifiable length. The other point the honorable member for Stirling overlooked is that we are dealing with a Bill which provides, and properly provides, that the rights of these national servicemen to long service leave, and perhaps more importantly, annual leave, will be unimpaired by the suspension of their contracts of employment due to their being called up for service under the National Service Act. So the complaint of the supposed or alleged inadequacy of seven days’ leave is not very valid when the matter of this leave is considered in its full context.
I next want to deal with some suggestions that the honorable member for Stirling had to make about the rehabilitation provisions of this Bill, which are contained in Part V. I venture to suggest that he may have been under some degree of misunderstanding as to the full scope of Part V. Part V is tremendously valuable and wholly to be applauded because it goes beyond mere reinstatement and re-establishment as I will show. Let it be remembered that if a national serviceman suffers injury - and I use the word “ injury “ in the broadest sense to include all those matters that are injuries for the purposes of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act - while he is on service, he is protected after his discharge by the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. I know, indeed I have said so in this House, and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) who is to follow me in this debate will remember this, that there are some features of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act that many of us would like to see improved.
– Why does not the honorable member try to get them improved?
– Rome was not built in a day. The question of improving the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act might fairly be said to be one for another day. I hope that day will not be too far away.
– That is relevant to this issue.
– I thought I had made it clear that it is relevant to this issue. The point I wish to make is that under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act a discharged national serviceman is entitled to a range of benefits which, broadly speaking - 1 leave out the details - are commensurate with the benefits provided by any State of the Commonwealth. The House will remember that last year the amounts of benefit were increased. So much for the national serviceman who suffers an incapacitating injury while on national service but not in a war zone, if I may use that loose term. I think the House will know what I mean by it.
If the national serviceman is injured and incapacitated by reason of something that happens to him while he is in an area which can be classified as a war zone and in respect of which, therefore, the provisions of the Repatriation Act apply, he is protected just as well as a member of the Regular Army, who is a professional soldier, is protected. So no complaint can be made on that score. Here, again, I know that some honorable members take the view that the Repatriation Act needs to be improved. But, again, that is a matter for another day. The national serviceman is placed in precisely the same position, in respect of injuries received on what may be described as war service, as any other serviceman serving this country. 1 now come back to clause 47 of the Bill which confers on a national serviceman benefits which go beyond anything to which he would be entitled under either the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act or the Repatriation Act. Honorable members will observe that by virtue of clauses 47 and 48 a discharged national serviceman can receive benefits not tor incapacity for work - which is the criterion under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act - but if he is hindered in obtaining or maintaining himself in employment or in undertaking work on his own account. Being hindered in obtaining employment is very different from being incapacitated for work. In this context “ hindered “ does not mean “ prevented “. I suggest to the House that that is made clear enough by clause 8 of the Bill which reads -
An employer shall not hinder or prevent a person employed by him from volunteering for service in, or serving in, a part of the Reserve Forces or of the Citizen Forces.
In this Bill a clear distinction is drawn between hindering and preventing.
Under clause 47 a national serviceman, after his discharge, is entitled to the benefit of Part VIII. of the Social Services Act - I will come back to it in a moment - if, by reason of injury, disease or deformity, he is hindered in obtaining employment of a like kind to that in which he was engaged before his service. That is a very beneficial provision. It should be pointed out that a discharged national serviceman’s being hindered by injury, disease or deformity will qualify him for benefits under Part VIII of the Social Services Act notwithstanding that the injury, disease or deformity was not the result of something that occurred on national service.
– But Joe Blow down the street gets those benefits.
– That benefit is very different from and additional to any benefit that is provided under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act or the Repatriation Act. It covers different ground. A moment ago my honorable friend from Blaxland interjected and said that Joe Blow down the street gets those benefits. 1 venture to suggest to him that that is not quite right. I will deal with the specific matter that he has raised. The point is - perhaps he overlooks it - that under Part VIII of the Social Services Act, as it seems to me, qualification for rehabilitation benefits depends upon entitlement to an invalid pension.
– That is right.
– My honorable friend from Blaxland nods his agreement. I am pleased that we are on a common basis. I will proceed to the next point in my argument. My honorable friend will remember this when I remind him of it: In order to qualify for an invalid pension under Part VIN of the Social Services Act a person - Joe Blow down the street, as the honorable member for Blaxland aptly described him - has to be either totally incapacitated for work or incapacitated to the extent of 85 per cent, or more of full capacity.
– What is the honorable member getting at?
– The point that I want to make - I know that it will be lost on my honorable friend from Kingsford-Smith, but I will still try to make it for the benefit of other honorable members - is that a discharged national serviceman will qualify under Part V. of the Bill notwithstanding that he has not qualified for an invalid pension under Part VIII. of the Social Services Act. A discharged national serviceman may ask the Director of Social Services for benefits under Part VIII. of the Social Services Act - they are benefits of a very wide character - although he is not incapacitated for work at all. All that a discharged national serviceman has to show is that by reason of injury, disease or deformity - and no’t an injury, disease or deformity incurred on service - he is hindered in obtaining employment. That is a very important point. The honorable member for Stirling overlooked it. But it should not be overlooked because it shows that in this measure the Government has adopted - as it should adopt - a broad view, a generous view and a thoroughly just view of the problem of looking after these young men who, perhaps above all people in the community - that may be a wide statement, but I make it - have a claim on this country for just and generous treatment. 1 have not been able to deal with every matter that the honorable member for Stirling raised. I am sure that other speakers from the Government side of the House will deal with the other matters. I conclude my remarks by saying that the Government and the Minister for Labour and National Service deserve to be congratulated on a thoroughly worthwhile and unexceptionable measure. The great virtue of this measure is that it is founded upon a proper recognition of the fact that any provisions for the vocational training or rehabilitation of exservicemen must be flexible if they are to be really useful. Ex-servicemen have individual needs that differ from one exserviceman to another. Therefore, a stiff or inflexible approach to this matter would have been quite wrong. This Bill, in its underlying assumptions and in its underlying substructure, meets the position fully and well.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Bill is designed to extend to certain members of the forces the kind of protection that was afforded to ex-servicemen by the Chifley Government. In introducing the Bill the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) referred to it as a charter. It is not unusual for a charter to cover every facet of a condition that may arise. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) fell into error when he chided the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) for saying that this House has had insufficient time to analyse properly the meaning of the legislation. Last night another measure affecting the general public was introduced. That measure is to lie on the table of the House and be subject to examination by the general public for some months before it is debated in the House. But here we are dealing with the very lives of men who will be conscripted to fight for this country and we are asked to analyse this charter in a matter of hours. I do not think that is right.
This is not merely a charter. As from 1st July next young men will be conscripted for service anywhere in the world. This is the first time this has happened in our history. In 1917 when it appeared to the Government of the day that conscription for service anywhere in the world would be necessary the people were given an opportunity to express their views, and they rejected conscription. During the Second World War, which was total war, conscription was introduced only for a circumscribed area. But tonight we are dealing with a measure that enables the youth of this country to be conscripted for service anywhere in the world.
It is not just a matter of whether this legislation covers these men in the way other ex-servicemen are covered by the 1945 legislation and the repatriation legislation. Honorable members should consider fully the implications of what we are doing and the extent to which we will change existing policy relating to the rehabilitation and protection of Australian youth now to be conscripted in a new field. I agree wholeheartedly with the remarks of the honorable member for Stirling. This legislation does not affect only this House. It affects every businessman in the country from whose employ these youths are to be drawn. The legislation affects those people in more ways than one. We are discussing tonight a Bill that is much wider in its scope than was suggested by the honorable member for Parkes. The honorable member did not agree with me when I interjected during his speech to say that the Bill affords very little more protection to ex-servicemen than does legislation applying to a man who is injured while walking along a street.
Suppose twin brothers are called up. One is sent to Malaysia and the other to Townsville. Suppose that on the same day each suffers a severe injury as a result of a motor accident and both are in line for discharge because of their accidents. I have dealt with many repatriation cases and all honorable members know the form of repatriation that covers such cases for the rest of their lives. Under this legislation we draw a distinction between the man injured in Malaysia and the man injured in Townsville, despite the fact that both are conscripted and are eligible to serve anywhere in the world. The one injured in Malaysia would be covered completely by repatriation whereas the one injured in Townsville would have to depend on the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. In my opinion once we conscript the youth of this country for a common purpose they are entitled to common treatment at the hands of the Government that conscripts them.
Take the case of the twin who is covered by Commonwealth compensation. I do not think it is stretching matters to say that many claims for Commonwealth compensation arising out of the “ Voyager “ disaster are still unsettled. The conscripts have no say as to where they will serve. Their marbles come up and they go into the Army. Supposing one twin falls sick in Townsville with bronchial pneumonia and does not regain good health. Suppose that the other twin falls sick in Malaysia with the same complaint. They are twins so it is likely to happen. They both return and are ready for discharge. The one who comes back from Malaysia immediately is covered by repatriation, but what happens to the one who was only in Townsville? It is true that under other legislation he may remain in the Army until he is well but he will never again enjoy the state of health that he enjoyed before he became ill. Honorable members will have noticed how carefully the honorable member for Parkes - I do not blame him - took the term “ injury “ in dealing with the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. He avoided referring to the other things that may happen to servicemen by way of illness as distinct from injury, because he knows the difficulties that arise from them and he knows that the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act is a standing disgrace in this regard.
Let me refer again to the case of the twins, one in Townsville and one in Malaysia, who fall ill without ever hearing a shot fired. The one who comes back from Malaysia and is discharged suffers a recurrence of his complaint in 12 months time. He is immediately eligible for all the repatriation benefits that flow from the fact that he suffered an illness in the course of his service. But what happens to the twin who served only in Townsville? He is covered only by Part V of this Bill and will receive the invalid pension.
Humanity is involved in these cases. The honorable member for Parkes has had careful legal training. Either he did not want to explain the real meaning of clause 47 (3.) or he has not given to this matter the careful attention that I expect from him. He referred at length to Part VIII of the Social Services Act and he reminded me that an incapacitated person must convince the authorities that he is 85 per cent, incapacitated before he can obtain the invalid pension. But the honorable member implied that Part V of the Bill now before us will give the same protection, miserable though it is, to somebody who falls into this category and finds that he is hindered in obtaining or maintaining himself in employment or in undertaking work on his own account. The honorable member for Parkes cannot convince me that these men would not be required to establish 85 per cent, invalidity or an even higher percentage.
– The honorable member says, “ Oh! “ Let me inform him that we understand very clearly the invalidity provisions contained in the Social Services Act and we know that the decision rests on the ability of the applicant to prove that he is suffering from 85 per cent, incapacity. His ability to do this is largely determined by the doctor who examines him. There is no rule that gives a clear definition and no one can tell the difference between <?5 per cent, and 83 per cent, incapacity.
So we come now to this Bill. The honorable member for Parkes is welcome to his views if he is satisfied that a man who suffers a recurrence of bronchial trouble after his return from service at Townsville should receive only the invalid pension for his wife and himself for the period of his incapacity. This does not suit the Opposition. In my view, Part V is not nearly as wide as the honorable member for Parkes says it is. Let us take the case of a man who comes back from Townsville suffering from bronchial trouble. I have had a lot of experience of repatraition cases in which the applicant has suffered from a bronchial complaint. The Repatriation authorities are willing to accept bronchial complaints that are contracted while a man is on service. But a private citizen has great difficulty in having such a condition accepted for the purposes of social services. This is because bronchial troubles occur spasmodically. The benefits of the Social Services Act will apply to a serviceman who suffers from such a complaint if he is hindered in obtaining or maintaining himself in employment or in undertaking work on his own account. The honorable member for Parkes and other honorable members on the opposite side of the House may be satisfied with Part V as it is, but we are not.
The men we are dealing with now are in a series of lucky dips. In the first lucky dip, it is a matter of chance whether their marble is drawn or not. If their marble is drawn and they are called up, they are in another lucky dip which will determine whether they are sent to Malaya and are therefore protected for the rest of their lives or whether they are sent to Townsville and run the risk of having to bear the cost of their maladies themselves for the rest of their lives. If we were dealing with a system of voluntary service, there may be a case to support the proposition put by the honorable member for Parkes. But when we have conscription and take a man’s freedom from him, we must accept the responsibility of protecting him and supporting him for the rest of his life if anything happens to him. The men we are dealing with here are liable to be called up at 20 years of age or at any time until they are 26 years of age, and in some instances even until they are 30 years of age. Let us consider the position of a man who is called up at 26 years of age. Let us assume that he is sent to Townsville and develops a bronchial weakness. If he is discharged and cannot maintain himself, he will be given the invalid pension, but his position will be no different from that of the civilian who lives in the same street as he does. I will not be convinced that this is not so.
When the serviceman who is medically unfit asks for a pension, he will be required to establish to some authority that he is suffering from 85 per cent, incapacity, and the civilian in the same street is required to establish the same degree of incapacity. I say quite deliberately that if no more consideration is given to these servicemen who are discharged through illness after serving in Australia than is now given by the repatriation authorities to ex-servicemen, then heaven help those in this scheme who fall by the wayside. An applicant for an invalid pension must establish that he has an 85 per cent, incapacity, but it is impossible for any doctor to measure precisely 85 per cent, incapacity. The same tight provision will be applied to these servicemen, and in my book that is not good enough.
If anything happens to a young Australian who is conscripted while he is serving or if, after his discharge, he suffers from a disability that can be related to his service, he should not be given anything less than the rate of pay he was receiving at the time of his conscription. The Government has taken him away from his civilian occupation. He has not been given a choice. He has been directed to join one of the Services. Once the Government gives a direction to any person, it should see that, if he suffers an illness or an injury, the minimum amount awarded to him is the rate of pay he was receiving before he was conscripted. The term of service of these men will be from two years to five years and in an emergency they may be required to serve continuously. As the honorable member for Stirling rightly put, we are not satisfied with the protection that is being given to these men. If the Government insists on these provisions and will not grant any additional benefits to those who are conscripted in a national emergency and serve for a period of years, this country will lose the confidence of those who are conscripted. In the present state of world affairs, we cannot afford to have this happen.
Let me deal now with statements that were made about the fields of employment from which these men would be taken. In November last, the Minister told us that the Army wanted doctors, tradesmen, professional men and engineers and this was its way of getting them. The Government deliberately chose 20 years as the age at which men would be called up, so that they could finish their apprenticeships and their university courses. These are the men that the Government will conscript. But it says to them that if they fall by the wayside through ill health they will receive only the invalid pension. The Minister said that this was a charter, and we will criticise it, as I am criticising it, on that basis because it is at the moment only a framework. The men who will be conscripted are worthy of much more consideration than this charter is giving them. I would not be so concerned with Part V if it were not that one of the legal men on the Government side of the House, the honorable member for Parkes, treats the provisions as though they were worthy provisions. In my view, the whole question of the rehabilitation of these men needs overhauling. I did agree with one line of argument, but not with the way it has been done. I agree that there should be flexibility in dealing with this kind of situation, because circumstances in which these men are rehabilitated could change rapidly. With developments that are now occurring, the situation could completely change even in a period of two years.
Recently when debating another matter I referred to the views of the Public Service Board on the changing conditions of employment in this new age of technology and automation. We know of the conditions that exist at the time these doctors, professional men and tradesmen are called up, but we should also try to visualise the conditions that may exist in the years to come when we start to rehabilitate them again in civilian life. It may be of help if we look at the latest report of the Public Service Board in which reference is made to the changing conditions of employment even in the Public Service. I quote -
In its consideration of the pay claims, the Board has made such reviews of the classification structures as were necessary. It has been guided by the view that in many parts of the Third Division of the Service, the classification structures had become undesirably complicated with too many classes based on fine distinct ons and with overlapping salary ranges and that, in these circumstances, they no longer fully met the working needs of Departments. The avoidance of fine distinctions (sometimes called broadbanding) enables the simplification of the classificat on structure, a small number of classes each containing more positions, and the avoidance of overlapping salary ranges. The policy of simplification and broadbanding does not, however, mean that the review of occupational categories will result in similar classification structures. The classification struc ture for each occupational category is being constructed in the light of the characteristics of the category in question and the working needs of the Service, after close consultation with the Departments concerned.
That is an outline of one of the biggest employers in this country. The changing needs of work values and the need to change our approach causes me to think that the first mistake we made in conscription in Australia was to select the age of 20. At 20 years of age the great bulk of young people will be ready to move into some type of employment. The doctor will be endeavouring to put up his plate. I am mentioning categories named by the Minister; they are not my choice. The tradesman will be ready to take up his job. The professional man will be in a like position. At the end of two years - this is about the only real point on which I agree with the Minister - flexibility will be necessary properly to fit these men into their categories and this task will call for thinking equal to, if not deeper than, that which was necessary when the Chifley Government introduced its legislation in 1945.
I know that we will not have the same numbers to deal with as the Chifley Government did, but in my book the future of 9,000 men is just as important as the future of 90,000 men when it comes to an individual’s claim for his rights. It is those individual claims which will test this legislation which is only a framework and finally prove whether it is capable of meeting the requirements of returned servicemen. I ask the Minister to have a good look at the clause that has been applauded by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes). I ask him to examine whether what is meant in clause 10 of the Bill is that annual leave as well as long service leave is to accumulate. I think that the honorable member for Parkes interprets the clause in the same way as I do. I think that all employers ought to be aware of the real situation.
Thi protection given at the moratorium and hire purchase level ceases at the end of 12 months from the time that a serviceman is discharged. There may be something to be said for that provision but I doubt whether 12 months is long enough. If a young Australian between 20 and 26 is taken out of his normal occupation for two years can he be expected to settle down immediately to his job when he returns? I think we might be making a mistake. Let me put another proposition to the Minister. A young man who has been conscripted might marry after he has entered the forces and as a result of an accident in Australia he might be killed. As I read the measure, the only protection that his widow would have would be under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and at the end of 12 months, if I read this Bill correctly, she loses all protection at the moratorium and hire purchase levels. We should provide for better protection in this kind of situation for those whom we are conscripting.
If a serviceman is killed in, say, Malaya his widow would become a war widow and would receive repatriation benefits. However, if the worst does happen to a serviceman, I do not care whether he is killed in Townsville, Sydney of Malaya; in my book, if he is married, his wife is a war widow and is entitled to be treated as a war widow at the hands of this Government. Is it not sufficient to put his widow into the position where she has to be dependent upon the Workers’ Compensation Act. There is every possibility that her case would not be finalised within 12 months, anyhow. The case I have just cited is only a shadow of what we might find could happen. Cases such as I am mentioning caused the honorable member for Stirling to direct attention to the fact that there has not been sufficient time for this House to consider this measure. There has not been sufficient time for the public at large to consider it.
I wonder how many employers of boys will be called up at 20 years of age know that when those boys come back they must be paid all their annual leave as well as their long service leave? I wonder whether employers understand all these features? It is terribly important that they should if this legislation is to succeed. It is not sufficient, in my book, merely to impose penalties upon an employer if he does not meet the requirements of the Bill, particularly when the Bill has been passed within a matter of hours without the employers of this country having an opportunity to look at it.
I put it to the Minister now that there are many features of this Bill that do not go far enough. They need the closest examination. I cannot understand even now why we are called upon to dispose of this Bill in this session.
– One reason is that the moratorium provisions have to come into force next week.
– I am very glad. Last November the Minister delivered a speech in this House telling us what was proposed and here we are in May being asked to rush a bill through in a matter of hours. The matters we are considering were known to be necessary last November. We are not dealing with somebody’s £ s. d.; we are dealing with human lives in this legislation and we should not be called upon to do so at such short notice.
– The honorable member was given the reason.
– I asked for information. Even at this stage the Minister himself cannot answer some of the questions that have been asked. I ask the Government, the Minister and his advisers why the Bill is being rushed through in the way that it is. The honorable member for Parkes, as a legal man, should know the ramifications of the Workers Compensation Act. I was astounded that he got to his feet tonight and supported a measure that leaves servicemen, who are to be conscripted in the interests of this country, at the mercy of the rotten provisions in- the Workers Compensation Act at the present time. I am sure that he, as I am, is dissatisfied with the framework of the present Workers Compensation Bill.
Let us put first things first. If we knew last November that legislation was needed to cover conscription why was not that legislation ready when the Parliament met, instead of the Government wasting its time? The servicemen are being put at the mercy of this legislation. In my opinion this legislation is merely the framework of what is intended for the future. Let us put first things first. This Bill should have been introduced at the beginning of the session when we would have nad ample opportunity to debate its provisions. From the time that the National Service Bill was introduced we knew that a Bill to provide for reestablishment rights would be necessary. So, why was it not framed then? This measure is much more important than some of the other legislation that we are likely to get and more important than some Bills that we have already debated. This House should not be called upon to deal with human lives and bodies in a matter of hours in the debate on a Bill containing 37 pages.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 have listened with rapt interest to the contributions to this debate made by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) and, more latterly, by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). I was really carried away with the excitement displayed by the honorable member for Blaxland. However, certain things that were said require a reply. I am quite certain that a very good and complete reply will come from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in due course. It seemed to me that the two honorable members opposite who have already spoken were really battling to present an argument. They claimed that there has not been enough time in which to prepare an argument. What silly, ridiculous nonsense that is. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have had only the same amount of time, but we are able to present very good and convincing arguments. I must refer also to the way that the honorable member for Blaxland was grinding out the word “conscript” and other words that he used as propaganda to make a case. Surely the way the word “ conscript “ has been used shows that it is an emotional catchcry and nothing else.
The honorable member for Blaxland refers to a hypothetical case involving the Jones twins. I do not know whether that was a reference to Charlie Jones’ kiddies. In the hypothetical case that he cited an injustice was revealed. All I can say is that, if an injustice is brought to light, in due course when this Bill has settled down I am quite certain that the Minister or the Government will introduce the required amendment to the legislation to ensure that the injustice is remedied and that the situation does not occur again. It is necessary to bring this debate back onto the proper lines. I think it is time to remind honorable members and the people of Australia generally of the objectives of the Bill. As we know, the object is to provide for the re-establishment in civil life of certain members of the Forces, for facilitating their employment and for other purposes. In effect, as the Minister pointed out in his second reading speech, it is a re-establishment charter for national servicemen who are now in the course of being called up and for others who will follow in their wake.
I am confident that this Bill will meet with wide and general acclaim, particularly from men who saw service in the Second World War and in wars of past generations. When we talk about re-establishment of national servicemen in civil life, we mean that we seek to give them, if possible, a better life than they perhaps enjoyed before they were called up, and most assuredly not a worse life. The Bill spells out in clear and unmistakable langauge how these objects will be achieved. First, I imagine that on-one would complain about whatever cost may be involved in establishing and putting into operation this scheme for the re-establishment of national servicemen when they are discharged. Secondly, the re-establishment of national servicemen is an obligation to the youth of this nation which we must fulfil. I regard the reestablishment costs and whatever problems that may arise from endeavouring to re-establish our youth in civil life as part of the cost of our freedom, a cost which we must bear as a free people and a cost which we must bear as a nation enjoying the privilege of a free democracy.
It has been said by the two honorable members opposite who have spoken on this measure that there has been delay in bringing the measure forward. In my view the Government, and the Minister in particular, are to be commended on the very early and prompt action taken to introduce legislation to protect our national servicemen. The situation is unlike that in the 1939-45 war when the rehabilitation legislation was not introduced until the end of the war. This Bill is setting up a reestablishment scheme when those who are involved are being enrolled. They will know immediately what their re-establishment entitlements are. It is worth noting in passing that the Government in office in 1944 when the legislation setting up the rehabilitation scheme was introduced was a Labour government which obviously had procrastinated during the period that it had been in office from 1942 to 1944. It is important to note also that a member of the Labour Government at that time was the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He is aware of what would be required in a rehabilitation scheme. He and his supporters should have accepted their responsibilities and, perhaps, prodded the Government into action. But I have not heard any mention, either by question or in any other way, to suggest that the Government was slow in introducing the present measure, which is necessary to protect national servicemen. Therefore, I claim quite confidently that there is no point whatever to the arguments about the delay.
As 1 have indicated already, all those concerned know of the entitlements which will be available for their protection on discharge after their tour of duty as national servicemen. It will be recalled that the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, which was introduced towards the end of the last war and which was launched in February 1944, was fully implemented to /ards the end of 1945. It is worth recalling that there were four main training authorities under that scheme. First, there was the Universities Commission which trained returned men for professional courses. Secondly, there was the Repatriation Commission which provided the necessary training of the war blind and other highly incapacitated cases. Thirdly, there was a rural authority which provided training in agriculture on approved terms. Fourthly, there was the Department of Labour and National Service which did a particularly good job through its industrial training division in the field of vocational or trade training, or professional training other than at a university type course. It is proper to comment at this stage that the Government of the day did a very good job in introducing these training schemes. It would be proper to say also that the Bill now before us has taken some of the points from those training schemes and that the schemes will provide a valuable guide when we reach the stage when the re-establishment of national servicemen in civil life becomes necessary. The major work of training was performed by the Department of Labour and National Service. From the records I have been able to discern that the Department provided training for 78 per cent, of the total demand. The reconstruction training was of great benefit to exservicemen, as we all know. In fact, it was of great benefit to industry and to the national welfare. The success of the scheme, in my opinion, was due to the ready co-operation of State educational authorities, employer organisations and the trade unions. Australia has learnt much from the experience of this form of rehabilitation - experience which will be used with profit in the reestablishment charter for the future of national servicemen which is provided by this Bill. As the Minister said in his second reading speech, this Bill provides a “ re-establishment charter for national servicemen “. He said that the Government had three purposes in mind. He said these were -
First, the protection of the interests of national servicemen in relation ot their reinstatement in civil employment; second, the protection of national servicemen in relation to obligations they had entered into before becoming liable for national service; third, the facilitation of the reestablishment of national servicemen in civil life on completion of continuous national service.
Another important point is that national servicemen serving in special areas will qualify for repatriation benefits and war service homes under the same conditions as regular soldiers. In addition, other administrative benefits are provided in this Bill.
It is of great significance that this Bill will ensure that men called up for service will not be placed at a disadvantage compared with those not called up. That is as it should be. This is an extremely important measure, and one which, in my view should be above party politics. It represents the discharge of the nation’s duty to those who serve it in time of war or in time of national emergency. The Bill is a document calling for intimate, human consideration of individual problems. In my opinion no facet of life calls for greater understanding and greater sympathy than the restoration of a young man to his normal way of life after service in the interests of his country.
Implementation of the intentions of the Government as set out in this Bill will call for sympathetic, intelligent and very tolerant treatment. I believe that the experience gained since World War II in the field of repatriation and other areas of soldier welfare will be of inestimatable value in rehabilitating and re-establishing national servicemen. As a result of experience gained in the years since World War II the officers of the Repatriation Department, the War Service Homes Division and the Department of Labour and National Service have become expert in dealing with the tasks imposed on them. They are efficient, and above all they are very sympathetic in their treatment of an infinite variety of individual cases. Therefore, as far as they are concerned, it will not be a matter of experimenting in order to obtain beneficial results. They already know what they are required to do in the execution of their office in the various departments.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are living in a technological age, particularly as it applies to the operation of modern equipment in our three Services - the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. It is obvious, therefore, that national servicemen who serve in any of these arms will have the opportunity to improve their technical knowledge and competency if they are so minded. They will then be able to seek a better type of employment, perhaps, than they had when first called up. I would imagine that a national serviceman who has been given this opportunity of acquiring technical knowledge and competency will find that his services in civil life are in very great demand. So, I believe that many young men will find the experience they gain in the Services will be of great value to them in after life.
I trust - and I just raise this point of warning - that the trade unions will not obstruct these lads when they try to get back into civil employment upon discharge. I trust that they will not face any difficulty in obtaining employment of their choice or be barred from joining the particular union associated with that employment. In other words I hope there will be no closed shop against young men who are seeking to return to civil employment, and that they will be shown the utmost goodwill and co-operation by the trade unions. Such goodwill and cooperation are very essential if the scheme envisaged in this Bill is to be successful.
What part will the employers play? Will they accept their responsibilities or will they seek to avoid them? Will they look for loopholes in the Act to escape re-employment of national servicemen upon discharge? In time of labour shortage I do not think there will be much trouble in fitting these men back into jobs but if there is an over abundance of labour, will the employers honour their obligations or will they discriminate in their choice of labour? I feel that as was the case after the last war there will be some employers who will seek to avoid their obligations, who will be ruthless and selfish, who will act with no regard for human consideration or for the sacrifice made by young national servicemen, and who will not give them a fair deal. The people of Australia must demand that this Government stand solidly against any employer who seeks to avoid his obligations to national servicemen, no matter how strong or powerful the employer may be.
I wonder whether employers will subsidise the wages of national servicemen? I know that there is nothing in the Bill which makes provision for this. As Army pay and fringe benefits are now so good it is conceivable that many servicemen will receive more than they did in civil life. But there will be numerous instances where young men of 20 who are capable, efficient and responsible in their civil jobs will find themselves at some disadvantage with only their Army pay to rely on. Will employers make up the difference in pay rates as was done in so many cases during the last war? I hope that they will do so even though there is no compulsion on them.
Clause 8 of the Bill which states -
An employer shall not hinder or prevent a person employed by him from volunteering for service in, or serving in, a part of the Reserve Forces or of the Citizen Forces.
Penalty: One hundred pounds.
There are many ways in which an employer can influence an employee against volunteering for service. He can exert influence that is tantamount to intimidation. A lad can be placed in the position of fearing to prejudice his future. I only hope that any lad so hindered will, as required by the Act, come forward with courage and lay his complaint against his employer so that appropriate action may be taken. During the last war I knew of many instances in which unpatriotic employers acted in this way, and I hope that in the somewhat critical circumstances in which we are now placed there will be no employers endeavouring to avoid their responsibilities.
I note that the Bill makes no mention of preference. Preference, of course, has been a feature of past legislation and awards. In the past, difficulties have been experienced in connection with interpretation in certain circumstances and situations. Can it be for these reasons that no provision relating to preference is included? I do not know. Or is it that an optimistic view is being taken, the view that the safeguards of preference are not necessary as, under this Government, keen competition for jobs will continue well into the years ahead? I should say that there will be plenty of jobs for lads on their discharge from national service. Perhaps the Minister will explain the reason why a preference clause has not been included.
One of the inevitable problems that I foresee is the position of the lad of 20 years of age, who may be a junior clerk and who is called up. He may be a good soldier, a born leader of men, a lad who possesses all the qualifications necessary to make a good officer, and he may get a commission. After five years of service, he will have matured very considerably as an officer bearing responsibility. He will have known a life of command and a life of responsibility. Such a man will find difficulty in acclimatising himself to an ordinary job in civil life. He will need very sympathetic treatment from the Government to make up for the change that came over his life during his service.
On the other hand, of course, his service experience may be of great value to him and will help him to make rapid progress up the career ladder in civil life. But we owe it to him to ensure that he is not left a misfit in the community. It is well to acknowledge and take comfort from the thought that our Repatriation Department, our repatriation tribunals, our War Service Homes Division and our Department of Labour and National Service have on their staffs a number of returned men who appreciate the needs of ex-servicemen in all sorts of circumstances and who will accord to each individual case the sympathetic, tolerant and intelligent treatment to which it is entitled.
The re-establishment of our national exservicemen will not succeed unless such understanding is forthcoming. In view of the points I have made, and because of the understanding I have that this Bill is going to be of considerable benefit and use in the re-establishment of our national servicemen, I commend it and hope it has a speedy passage.
.- I think the criticism that has been levelled at the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in particular and the Government in general tonight for having thrust this type of legislation upon honorable members on this side of the House at such short notice is well deserved. Nothing that the Minister can say in defending himself against this criticism will convince honorable members on this side of the House that, since the Government made its decision in 1964 to legislate for the call up of national servicemen in this country, it has not had ample opportunity to draft suitable legislation and present it in time to ensure that honorable members on this side of the House had every opportunity of considering it.
As my colleague the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has already explained, this Bill contains 37 pages and 60 clauses. Each of those clauses contains a complexity of detail and obviously requires a great deal of consideration and thought on the part of honorable members on this side of the House. But, despite the complexity of the legislation, the Bill was not introduced into this Parliament until Tuesday of this week, and the Opposition is obliged to resume the second reading debate tonight.
– I gave all the details on 25th March. The Opposition has known everything since then. If the honorable member is not prepared, it is his own fault.
– I disagree with the Minister on that point. Some of the details might have been made known to honorable members of this House.
– All of them.
– The broad details of the Bill have not been known to the members of the Opposition. The Government ought to give more consideration to honorable members on this side and should not bring down legislation of this kind in the dying hours of the sessional period.
– Did the honorable member sit up all night, too?
– If I might reply to that interjection by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) it is true that I and several of my colleagues on this side of the House gave this measure a great deal of consideration last night. This meant that we had to remain here and endeavour to understand the complexities of the legislation that we now have before us when possibly we should have been giving consideration to other matters. In fairness to the Minister, it must be said that he did at least make available an officer of his Department to help us in our consideration of some of these matters. We acknowledge that but, in my opinion, that does not excuse the Government’s action in bringing down legislation of this kind at such short notice.
The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) who led for the Opposition in this debate, has already pointed out that this legislation can mean a great deal to the many national servicemen whom the Government will be calling up to serve this country in the years that lie ahead. Since the proposals before the House will have an effect upon their future after their discharge, the Opposition feels that the matters contained in the Bill ought to be given the fullest possible consideration by this Parliament. Certainly, under the circumstances in which it has been presented to us, we have not had the opportunity to which we are entitled of fully considering the Bill.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle), who has just resumed his seat, has denied the accuracy of the Opposition’s contention that gross discourtesy has been shown to honorable members on this side of the House. Government members seem to have adopted the attitude that everything contained in this legislation is quite satisfactory, that no anomalies are likely to arise and that the interests of the national servicemen are fully protected by the Bill. The Opposition does not share this view. We believe that the legislation contains many provisions that ought to be considered further by the Minister. The honorable member for Stirling and the honorable member for Blaxland have referred to them already, and the Opposition will expect that the questions that we have raised will be answered by the Minister for Labour and National Service, who now sits at the table.
I certainly do not share the enthusiasm of the honorable member for Warringah who says that the type of national service to which he has referred will provide the type of experience that is likely to be of benefit to these young national servicemen when they are discharged from their service. Unless there is a great improvement in the attitude of the Army authorities towards these national servicemen compared with the attitude they adopted when national servicemen were called up at a certain age for three months under the Government’s previous legislation, I suggest that the national servicemen called up under the present proposal will not benefit in any way at all. Honorable members on this side certainly hope that there will be some type of special treatment accorded national servicemen under this scheme. These young citizens of Australia are to be called up to serve for two years. Despite what has been said by honorable members on the Government side of the chamber, obviously these young men will be at a great disadvantage when they return to civilian life.
The Minister for Labour and National Service may plead that it is not possible, in legislation of this kind, to provide for every contingency. I could quote a number of anomalies and injustices which will affect national servicemen and for which this Bill makes no kind of provision. I point out to the Minister at this stage that I know of one young citizen in Tasmania who conducts his own business and employs a number of workers. He has received a call-up notice and, if he is required to serve for two years, he will have no option but to close down his business, This will mean that his employees will no longer be in employment. What protection will this Bill afford in a case such as this? It is true that, under the terms of the measure, in certain circumstances, a re-establishment loan may be made. But, obviously, this young citizen, if he is called up to serve for two years, will be at a great disadvantage, because he will undoubtedly lose his business. So
I agree that it is not possible for this kind of legislation to provide for al’ contingencies.
I acknowledge, as has been acknowledged by previous speakers on this side of the House, that this Bill will provide for those national servicemen who are called on to serve in defined areas that are accepted under the Repatriation Act as areas in respect of which service will confer entitlement to repatriation benefits. But this will not apply to the great majority of national servicemen. Furthermore, this does not necessarily mean that the difficulties even of those who will be entitled to repatriation benefits will immediately be solved should they suffer sickness or injury during their service. Under the terms of the Repatriation Act, an applicant for benefit must establish that his condition is due to service. Every honorable member is fully aware of the circumstances attendant on applications for benefits submitted to the Repatriation Department. We all know the inevitable delays that occur and the processes through which a national serviceman who served in an area in respect of which service entitled him to benefits under the Repatriation Act will have to go in seeking benefits. He will have to apply in the same way as exservicemen had to apply after the last war and his application will have to go through the normal channels, with inevitable delays. This will be the situation of a national serviceman who, after his discharge, develops a condition that he considers may be attributed to his service in the forces. This Bill will afford at least some protection to national servicemen in that position.
The honorable member for Blaxland dealt with Part V of the Bill, which has exercised a great deal the minds of honorable members on this side of the House, and which was discussed at considerable length by the honorable member for Parkes. This Part provides for the rehabilitation of disabled persons. It is significant, I think, that the Minister devoted only a very small portion of his second reading speech to this Part. He said -
Related to the training that 1 have been discussing are the provisions contained in Part V dealing with the rehabilitation of disabled national servicemen. If there are such men with disabilities hindering their effective resettlement which could be overcome by treatment and training, and it would be the hope of all that there will be few, they will be provided for under Pan V - provided, of course, that they are not eligible for similar benefits under the Repatriation Act.
I have already mentioned the question of eligibility for benefits under that Act. This was the full extent of the Minister’s comments on Part V of the Bill. One would have expected that the question of rehabilitation would have exercised his mind more than it has, that it would have been dealt with at greater length in his second reading speech and that he would have been able to give honorable members on this side of the chamber more information on the matter.
The honorable member for Parkes was quite satisfied that national servicemen who are discharged with a disability sustained while on service will be fully protected under the terms of this measure. But, Mr. Speaker, honorable members on this side of the chamber are not satisfied that this is so. The honorable member for Stirling mentioned one or two anomalies that could occur. The fact remains that if a national serviceman is discharged with a disability that is not apparent at the time of his discharge but becomes apparent subsequently, he must prove that the disability is due to his national service training. While he is trying to establish this, what happens? He has no alternative but to apply, in the words of the honorable member for Hughes, for the invalid pension while his entitlement to compensation is being considered. All honorable members on this side of the House have experienced, and I have no doubt that this has been the experience also of Government supporters, the delays that necessarily occur when compensation is applied for. Honorable members know that 12 or 18 months could elapse before a case is dealt with. In these circumstances, a national serviceman will have no option but to apply for sickness benefit, if he is not considered to be 85 per cent, incapacitated, or, alternatively, for the invalid pension.
It should be noted at once that if sickness benefit is applied for while a compensation claim is being determined, and compensation is granted, the total sum received in sickness benefit in the interim must be repaid to the Commonwealth. Therefore, a married national serviceman with no dependants other than his wife could, if he sustained a disability on service, be placed in a position in which his total income would be invalid pension of £6 a week and an allowance of £3 a week for his dependent wife if he were considered to be fully incapacitated - a total of £9 a week. Honorable members on this side of the House do not believe that this situation should apply. There ought to be general sympathy for the point of view raised by the honorable member for Blaxland that this Government might consider extending to national servicemen some of the benefits that it has extended to other ex-servicemen and, indeed, to those who serve in the permanent forces. It is problematical whether this Government can place itself in the position whereby it can force young citizens of Australia to serve for a period of two years in the armed forces and yet have loose legislation, such as this which we are now debating, to protect them in the case of disability or injury. Why did the Minister or his departmental officers choose the Department of Social Services to cater for the requirement of a national serviceman who has been discharged from service with a disability? Would it not have been possible for the Repatriation Department to have accepted this responsibility? Surely the Minister could have examined this question more carefully.
One factor that is rather important, and which has not been covered in this debate, is that if the Department of Social Services pays a pension to a national serviceman who has been discharged with a disability, that Department becomes responsible for the rehabilitation of that national serviceman, but he will not be given any consideration other than that which is extended to any other invalid pensioner under the Social Services Act and for whose rehabilitation the Department is responsible. We believe that where a man has been called up to serve his country for a period of two years the question of his rehabilitation, in the case of illness or disability, should be considered by the Repatriation Department or by some department other than the Department of Social Services which is responsible for all government pensions in Australia. A national serviceman discharged with a disability should not have to rely upon this Department for his rehabilitation. I believe that this demonstrates clearly the weakness of this legislation.
I turn now to the question of the reestablishment and re-employment of a national serviceman after discharge. It has already been stated that the Government can do no more than provide a period of seven days’ leave to the national serviceman on the completion of his training. That is the period in which he has to rehabilitate himself before returning to civilian employment. Some Government supporters have suggested that it is not merely a question of seven days’ leave because there will be accumulated leave as well. The Minister must surely realise that there will not be accumulated leave in all cases. Probably in only a small percentage of cases will there be accumulated leave. The national serviceman will be called upon to report for employment seven days after his discharge. We do not believe that this is a generous approach to the question.
I point to the situation that applies in Papua and New Guinea and in our other external Territories. It must be clearly understood that in some instances national servicemen may be called upon to serve in New Guinea. In these circumstances surely the national servicemen would be entitled to the same leave as is granted to public servants who work in Papua and New Guinea. It is well known, of course, that after a period of 21 months’ service in this area public servants are granted extended leave of three months. However, the Government says that after two years’ service, some of which may well be in the Territories I have mentioned, national servicemen are not entitled to more than seven days’ leave. We believe that the Governmnt might have been far more generous than it has been in its approach to this question. We suggest 21 days as a reasonable period in which a national serviceman who has been discharged after two years’ service might rehabilitate himself before returning to civilian employment.
My colleagues who have preceded me in this debate have referred to the gratuity that is to be paid to national servicemen on the completion of their service. The Bill provides for a maximum payment of £40 after two years’ service and a minimum payment of £20 for 12 months’ or lesser service. Some Government members have indicated that they regard this as a generous contribution by the Government and claim that it is the same as that applying to members of the permanent forces. I point out to the Minister that most, if not all, members of the permanent forces on discharge receive payments from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund by way of pension, but the Government says that after a period of two years’ service it is prepared to pay a gratuity of £40 to national servicemen. The Opposition has not suggested the amount the Government should pay, but we regard £40 as an insignificant sum which the Government could increase.
In his second reading speech the Minister referred to the question of reestablishment loans. This has not been mentioned by preceding speakers, but I think it is an extremely important topic on which the Minister might supply further information. It is obvious that when a national serviceman is discharged after his two-year period, if he requires a loan to re-establish himself in business he is entitled to apply for one, but the extent of the loan is not known. No doubt this will be determined by the Minister’s Department but perhaps the Minister can tell us who will make the decisions on these loans.
– The Minister might also inform the House the rate of interest payable on these loans. They will not be interest free loans because the Government does not believe in extending to national servicemen interest free loans. What is the rate of interest that will be applied to these loans? This is extremely important to the national serviceman.
I commenced my speech by referring to a citizen of this country who, apparently, is to be called up to serve for a period of two years and who is almost certain to lose his business as a result of this Government’s conscription legislation. Obviously, that citizen will need a loan if he is to be able to rehabilitate himself in his business following his discharge. I believe that the Minister should tell the House, first, who will be responsible for deciding the amount of the loan that will be made available; secondly, what will be the period after discharge within which a national serviceman must apply for a loan; and thirdly, what rate of interest will be payable on the loan.
I have covered some matters to which other honorable members from this side of the House, who have spoken in this debate, have referred. This legislation leaves a great deal to be desired. It certainly does not apply the rehabilitation principles of the 1945 legislation. If a national serviceman is to be rehabilitated following his discharge and if he needs specialised training, he will immediately be thrown on the resources of the States. This Government is not prepared to accept any responsibility at that stage. The honorable member for Stirling pointed out in the course of his speech that in at least one State - South Australia - facilities for the training of national servicemen after discharge are not available. It is quite obvious that the Commonwealth Government is not prepared to establish the types of facilities which were available after the Second World War and which were established by the Labour Government of the day. I refer, of course, to the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Such facilities will not be available for discharged national servicemen, who will be thrown back on the resources of the States.
It appears to me that the great weakness of this legislation is that in every respect it is the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of Social Services which must accept the responsibility. It must be clearly understood that these discharged national servicemen will not receive any special treatment at all. When they apply for positions they will merely apply together with other citizens who are applying for employment through the Department of Labour and National Service. The great weakness of this legislation is that it does not provide any special consideration in terms of rehabilitation, employment and coverage in respect of sickness and other disabilities that national servicemen may experience. Too much responsibility is being placed on the Department of Labour and National Service. We members of the Opposition do not believe that the responsibility should rest on that Department.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) [10.431. - Whilst I join with other members in deploring the fact that so much legislation has been introduced at this late stage of the sessional period, I believe that some of the statements that have been made by members of the Opposition in this debate have been a little captious. I say that for two reasons. The first is that on 25th March last the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), in point of fact, made a statement in this House setting out the substance of the Bill that is now before us. I understand that, very properly, he made officers of his Department available to members of the Opposition for discussions on the details of the Bill. I am told that the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), for example, availed himself of those facilities, and that they were offered to the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). I do not know whether he availed himself of them. That is one reason why I believe that in this instance the Opposition’s criticism is captious.
The second reason is the nature of the Bill itself. Most of the provisions of the Bill - not all of them, but all of the ones to which the Opposition has been directing its criticism - will not be operative for a couple of years because they relate to the discharge of people who have not yet been taken into the forces. It is well and good that these people should know before they are taken into the forces what their general rights of re-establishment will be; but the details, including the legal details - there may be talk about the legal effects - can be worked out and adjusted in the two years and more that remain to us before the relevant parts of the Bill become operative. For those two reasons I believe that in this instance the Opposition has been a little captious and unreasonable in some of the criticisms that it has made.
In regard to the Bill itself, there is only one matter to which I want to direct attention and one suggestion that I want to put before the Minister. I believe that there is one omission from his Bill. That omission can be remedied. There will be plenty of time in which to remedy it. I believe that insufficient emphasis is placed on the rehousing or housing of the discharged national servicemen. I know that the discharged national servicemen who have had overseas service will be entitled to war service homes. But would it not be good if, in parallel with the War Service Homes Division, we had another organisation which would make housing benefits - perhaps not on full war service homes terms, but on generous terms - available to all national servicemen who have served their time? I suggest that national servicemen who have served their two years in the forces should become entitled to a loan representing, say, 90 per cent, of the value of the home, with a reasonable maximum of£ 3,000 or £4,000, at a low rate of interest, say 5 per cent., on discharge if they are married and, if they are not married, on the date when they are married.
If we did that we would be doing something which was very much in line with thinking all over the world. We would be giving people who have served their country a stake in their country. Some national servicemen might want their entitlement in the form of a farm or a business; but most of them - probably 9 out of 10 - would want it in the form of a home. I suggest that, whilst it may not be appropriate to give the full war service homes terms to national servicemen who have not served overseas, we should have, in parallel with the War Service Homes Division, some kind of organisation to assist in the housing of discharged national servicemen, as I said, at the time of discharge if they are married and, if they are not married at the time of their discharge, on the date when they are married.
It might be a good idea to increase the Government grant of £250, which is given to everybody who saves £750, to, say, £350 for discharged national servicemen as a mark of the nation’s special obligation and gratitude to these men who have served it. That is all I want to say. I believe that we have a couple of years in which to work out the administrative details. I also believe that it would be good if the general principle that I have outlined were adopted and made part of Government policy here and now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. McMahon) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 13th May (vide page 1489), on motion by Mr. Hulme -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This Bill aims to preclude further monopolisation in ownership and programming of Australian commercial television stations. It aims to carry out the work which the 1960 legislation was designed to achieve. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has confessed that the 1960 legislation did not succeed in its object. He has not been too specific in giving the timetable of the Government’s failure under the 1960 legislation. In the intervening five years monopolisation of ownership of television in this country has proceeded apace, as has monopolisation of programming.
The first matter - monopolisation of ownership - came to a head when the Ansett interests were denied the licence for the third television station in Brisbane and then bought up the shares in the company which secured the licence. The Minister made some statements on the procedure by which his decision had been thwarted and after a decent interval of time he admitted that there was nothing he could do about it.
This was more than a year ago. Now that the Ansett interests are securely entrenched in breach of the existing law, the Minister has brought in a Bill which will prevent, he hopes - we all hope - further breaches of the law intended five years ago.
– Tell us how Ansett was in breach of the existing law.
– The Minister took some time to find out over a year ago.
– I did not find out at all. You tell us that he was in breach. Tell us how you found out.
– He was in breach of the Government’s policy. You thought he might have been in breach of the law.
– Do not shift your ground.
– Why then did you say at the time that he defied your wishes, that you were looking into the matter and withholding the licence?
– I was looking into the matter, but that is a different story.
– Why were you looking into the matter? If you knew that he was not in breach of the law and was entitled to the licence, why were you withholding the licence? You had been frustrated. You were baffled. You have not explained to the House why you have taken a year to see that your decisions and policy are not frustrated on subsequent occasions. You have not explained why you are doing nothing to vindicate the Government’s policy as announced five years ago and to restore the position when the licence comes up for renewal.
– He is still within that law of five years ago.
– You would say now that there was no breach of the law when you said you were withholding his licence. Were you trifling with him as well as with the House?
– I did not say I was withholding his licence.
– Well, the company’s licence - the licence which you had promised to the company, the shares which the Ansett interests had bought up. It is true, of course, as you know - as you should have known then and as had been revealed some time before - that there was no breach of the law if the voting rights did not exceed 15 per cent, in more than two stations, even if the shareholding did exceed 15 per cent, in two stations. I hope - we all hope - that the amendments you have now brought in will carry out the Government’s policy. We hope that you are spared the humiliation on future occasions-
– You are a lawyer; you can exercise your judgment.
– It may be that like many of my learned friends I could find loopholes in this legislation, but as long as I hold office in the Parliament I would not think it proper for me to make that endeavour. Ministers do not take briefs while they hold office and I do not think that an Opposition leader should either. I hope that the Minister is saved future humiliation in this matter. I only regret that the public interest is not being restored in accordance with the Government’s policy of five years ago.
The Minister has not said why he has taken so long to bring in these amendments. Perhaps I may refer to the shareholdings in television stations of the major newspaper companies. I will go off Mr. Ansett for a moment, although I may make some subsequent reference to him. I shall cite some figures from the report for the last financial year of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The “Sydney Morning Herald” holds 1,186,630 of the li million shares in ATN Sydney, half the shares in QTQ Brisbane and large parcels in CTC Canberra and NBN Newcastle. The Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ holds one third of the shares in TCN Sydney, one-fifth of those in GTV Melbourne and large parcels in WIN Illawarra, NBN Newcastle, BTQ Brisbane and NWS Adelaide.
The Melbourne “ Herald “ holds 637,505 of the 750,005 shares in HSV Melbourne and large parcels in GTV Melbourne, BCV Bendigo, BTQ Brisbane, ADS Adelaide and TVT Hobart.
– Are these people normally supporters of the Government?
– Invariably. In addition the Adelaide “ News “ holds one quarter of the shares in TCN Sydney, one half of those in NWS Adelaide, and large parcels in WIN Illawarra, NBN Newcastle, GTV Melbourne, and BTQ Brisbane. The affiliates of the Melbourne “ Herald “, the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ and the Adelaide “ Advertiser “, hold one third and one half of the shares in BTQ Brisbane and ADS Adelaide. The “ West Australian “ holds 45 per cent, of the shares in TVW Perth. The Melbourne “Age*’ and the Hobart “ Mercury “ hold one-sixth of the shares in GTV Melbourne and TVT Hobart respectively. By comparing the latest report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board with its report of four years before one sees how monopolisation of ownership has gone ahead since the 1960 Act in breach of the policy enunciated by the Government at the time of the Act and intended by the Government to be ensured by that Act. In all these circumstances, one would have thought that the Government would have devised some method to vindicate its policy and to assert its policy at least at the time the present licences expired or came up for renewal. The Government has not done so. Can the Minister give us at least the reason for the failure of his policy and for his failure to defend it or assert it?
The other question, the monopolisation of programmes, was intended to be tackled by the Minister’s predecessor and the then Attorney-General, who is now the Chief Justice, also under the 1960 Act. The High Court ruled that the procedures they devised were not authorised by the Act. This decision was given in August 1963. Again, the Government has taken a very long time to devise methods for preventing the further monopolisation of programmes.
– That section has not been amended.
– No; that is right. I did not say it had been.
– No flaw in the section was revealed.
– I did not say it had. I said the terms of the licence which the Minister’s predecessor issued with the advice of the then Attorney-General were declared by the High Court not to be authorised by that section. Since August 1963, when the High Court gave that decision, the Government has taken no steps to prevent the further monopolisation of commercial television programmes. The Minister has now repealed one section and proposed others which he believes will cover the position. Again, we hope that he is saved from further humiliation, that the Government’s policy at least will be carried out from now on, and we regret that no steps have been taken to reassert the Government’s policy in respect of those who have defied it up to now, at least from the time the present contracts expire.
In its report last year, the Board made a summary of the consequences of the High Court’s decision. It concluded in this way -
The Minister, on 21st November 1963, informed licensees that the notice given by him of his intention to impose further conditions of licences was withdrawn. Following changes in the constitution of the companies holding the licences for stations WIN and NBN, the difficulties regarding the procurement of programmes have been largely overcome.
This, Mr. Speaker, is an admirable euphemistic explanation. The House will remember that the Sydney metropolitan commercial television station had monopolised the programmes which the new commercial stations in Newcastle and Wollongong wished to purchase. The Minister had taken what he thought was the correct action under the 1960 Act to ensure that the Newcastle and Wollongong stations gained access on proper terms to those programmes. As the Board said, however, the constitutions of the companies at Newcastle and Wollongong were changed and the programming difficulties were overcome. They were overcome by the offending station in Sydney taking over the Newcastle and Wollongong stations.
– That was a solution.
– Indeed it was. This was the final, the ultimate, solution; the monopolisation of programmes was overcome by the monopolisation of ownership. One would have thought that the Board would have said as much, but reading between the lines and looking at other parts of the Board’s report one sees that the cure for defying the Minister’s policy in one respect was achieved by defying it in another respect. Once again I assure the Minister that he has the sympathy of honorable members on both sides of the House for the treatment to which the licensees have subjected him and their good wishes for better treatment in the future.
I agreed in answer to some interjections to say something about the Ansett interests. At least the Ansett television interests have the virtue of being free from newspaper control of television. My friend, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) two weeks ago referred to some remarks I had made about the Ansett interests in general. He had told me that he intended to speak on this subject, but I could not be here when he spoke. I assured him that I was aware of the circumstances that he mentioned - that is, that the Ansett organisation has never failed in any of its undertakings to the Government and that the Government has not had to honour any of the guarantees which it has given for the Ansett organisation. I do not dispute that. Nothing I have said in this place or elsewhere can be construed as disputing it. What I did say was that the Government has ensured that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. will always find and be able to declare a 10 per cent, dividend on all the undertakings of its subsidiaries after accounting for depreciation, fixed interest payments and all other obligations. The Government ensures that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. will always be able to pay a 10 per cent, dividend after tax and reasonable allocation to reserves.
– The honorable member is still wrong.
– The former Minister for Civil Aviation has stated this more than once in the Senate. He knows that the survival of the two airline policy depends on the profitability of Ansett Transport Industries. There is no mystery about it. He is quite frank and quite blatant about it.
– That is wrong.
– The policy is wrong, but my statement of it is correct. The Government ensures this 10 per cent, clear profit for every activity of any subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. by seeing that the principal subsidiary, Ansett- A.N.A., has enough routes and high enough charges to provide this profit on all the activities of the group. The television activities of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. are being run at a loss. Nevertheless, all these losses are borne by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., which is guaranteed a 10 per cent, clear profit on all its activities.
To summarise, if Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. makes a donation to political funds, it is not out of pocket because the Government still sees that it makes 10 per cent, profit on its overall activities. If the Ansett television companies make a loss, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. still makes a 10 per cent, clear profit.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition withdraw the statement he made that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. was guaranteed a return of 10 per cent, on its investments in return for donations to political funds.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– 1 did not say that these donations were made in return for a guaranteed 10 per cent, profit. I have said, Sir, that no matter how many donations Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. makes to political funds - and, of course, the latest instance was a nightly donation to the Liberal Party in New South Wales - the Government still ensures that the holding company, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., makes a 10 per cent, net profit after paying donations, after meeting television losses and all other expenses.
I am amazed that the other television stations tolerate this guarantee - this subsidisation. I say that because since third television stations have been licensed in four State capitals, the existing commercial television stations - those monopolised by the newspaper companies - are making reduced profits. This is a matter of indifference to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. because its television subsidiaries can make whatever losses they like, and the holding company will still make a 10 per cent, clear profit, and will do so as long as this Government ensures that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. of which Ansett-A.N.A. is a subsidiary gets interstate routes, intrastate routes and territory routes and increases in all the freight and passenger charges to a sufficient degree to meet that 10 per cent, net dividend.
Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. is the beneficiary of the two forms of monopolisation which lie within the gift of a Commonwealth Government, namely airlines and television licences. Nobody can carry on an airline in Australia without the permission or the tolerance of the Commonwealth Government. Under the consistent policy of the previous Minister for Civil Aviation no airline obtained a route licence interstate or within a Territory, no airline was able to import aircraft and no airline was able to secure a hanger on any aerodrome unless it conformed with the Commonwealth’s policy as he laid it down. Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. gets all the monopolisation benefits which it can get from the Commonwealth. The benevolence of the Commonwealth has been exercised in Ansett’s interests in the airline field.
The other form of monopolisation which takes place with the Commonwealth’s tolerance, or benevolence, is television. Here the constitutional position is much more du bious. Nevertheless, business interests will never invest in television unless they have a licence from the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth Government has seen that these licences go to the big newspaper proprietors, particularly Sir Frank Packer, and now to the other great monopolist, Mr. - as he still is - Ansett and his company.
I have said a little about monopolisation because this is one field of restrictive practices and monopolistic practices where the Commonwealth has effective control. We have heard since 1960 on many occasions about the Government’s intention to control monopolies and restrictive practices. In television, as in airlines, any monopolisation and any restrictive practices can only continue if the Commonwealth tolerates them, because in each of these cases one needs a Commonwealth licence to carry on the business at all. It is admirable that the PostmasterGeneral has at last been stirred to take fresh steps to control the monopolisation in ownership and programming of Australian commercial television stations.
I pass to the question of programming. This is a question on which many honorable members in this House have spoken, and on which the Senate has had a select committee prepare a very detailed and persuasive report, but on which the Government has, as yet, taken no action at all. One would have thought that in his second reading speech the Minister would have made some reference to the report of the Senate select committee on programming. This Bill deals with programming. This select committee was set up to inquire into it. The Minister has not carried out the report but at least he should have given some explanation for his refusal or his delay. There can be no doubt that an explanation will be sought in another place for his action.
Television requires a great deal of film production. Our three commercial networks and one national television network are competing for the products of three networks in the United States. Where you have four people competing for three products, inevitably the price of the product is put up. Australia is not without remedies in this matter. We speak the same language as America and Great Britain, the principal television countries in the world. We speak the same language as most other television countries, at least as the second language after their own national language. Accordingly, we should be able to make television films in Australia which could be sold in the rest of the English-speaking world, and which could be sold in other countries where English is a second language.
The Minister, and his advisers too, apparently - but at least the Minister - adopt a very dilatory and very dubious attitude towards Australia film production. Film production these days is mainly for television purposes. Why do we not produce some films for our own television stations, particularly when we can sell them overseas? One Government Department - the Department of the Interior - has produced splendid documentary films.
– It has had splendid Ministers.
– Except with respect to electoral matters, I agree with the honorable member. The films which governments have produced in Australia are of first rate quality and are accepted as such elsewhere. I have no doubt that private enterprise in Australia could produce films too. The Commonwealth could see, since it issues licences to television stations, that television stations used Australian films. It might be that it is difficult for a country of Australia’s size to retain all its artists who can find employment in other parts of the English-speaking world. Nevertheless, there are a large number of fields in which we could produce films in Australia, and an English-speaking film produced in Australia should be welcome anywhere where English is understood. I regret that the Minister has made no reference in his speech to Australian film production - to the production of television programmes by Australians for Australians and for the English-speaking world.
I have referred to the principal features of this Bill. We support the general objective of countering monopolisation and restrictive practices in ownership and in programming of Australian television. We believe, however, that the Minister has taken no steps to undo the damage which has occurred in the last five years and to restore the policy which his predecessor announced on behalf of the Government five years ago. We believe that the House is entitled to an explanation and that honorable members are entitled to elicit this information. We believe that there should be now a joint parliamentary committee appointed to inquire into these matters as a whole, as the Senate Select Committee inquired into some features of them last year. Accordingly, I move -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “Whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, this House considers that a joint select committee should be appointed to inquire into and report on -
the operation and administration of the
Broadcasting and Television Act, including issue of licences, shareholdings, networks, monopoly control and programming, and
other matters associated with this impor tant medium of mass communication in Australia.
– (Mr. Lucock). - Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, as you know, I have a very ready reluctance to offer any harsh words about my opponents in politics, but I am bound to say of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that as he sat down this evening I reached the firm conclusion that he would be the most perfect product of pomposity ever to emerge out of upper middle class society and to fasten himself, leechlike, onto the egalitarian movement. What has the honorable gentleman done? He spoke for 30 or 35 minutes, and then laid ah egg. He reminded me of an emu. What the honorable gentleman has done is to propose the appointment of a joint select committee to cover virtually the whole field of television. What earthly use would that be? Whatever its deficiencies may be, the policy of the Government in the matter of television is clear and plain. I should imagine that it would almost be understandable and intelligible to even the most dim witted of individuals who may encounter it from time to time. But I think it is useful to recall this evening that the policy of the Australian Labour Party is for frank nationalisation.
When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition sat down he did so approving of the policy of his party, which is complete and utter nationalisation. This may not disturb the honorable gentleman, but what earthly use would it be to have a joint committee on television comprised of members of the Australian Labour Party sitting with members of the Liberal and Country Parties? What compatibility could one find with the honorable gentleman? Again, if I may say so in a light whimsical sense, he reminded me of Puff in Sheridan’s “ The Critic “-
I am, Sir, a practitioner in panegyric; or, to speak more plainly, a practitioner of the art of puffing, at your service - or anybody else’s.
Let us look a little further at what the honorable gentleman said. If one thing is plain from his speech this evening, surely it is the fact that the Australian Labour Party is prepared to go to any limits whatever to disguise its policy - particularly now.
– What a fool the honorable member is.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows that his party is on the decline. As for the honorable member for Scullin, he has been rumbling downhill for years - ever since I first met him. The policy of the Australian Labour Party is for complete and utter nationalisation. If I may refer my honorable and learned friend to his leader, I recall those rapturous occasions when he has said “ my leader “. As he mouths those words he reminds me very much of a Murray cod having a hook in its mouth. He says: “ My leader; oh, my leader.” Let us listen to what his leader has said on the matter of television. I shall cite what was said by my very dear friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
– What a humbug the honorable member is.
– I would describe the honorable member who interjects as Australia’s most accomplished humbug. Let him now go back to sleep.
– What rot.
– I know that this hurts the honorable member, but if he wants to play with fire he should not complain if, in return, he gets a little singeing. The Leader of the Opposition said on 18th April 1963 -
The Chifley Government - the last Labour Government in control of the destinies of Australia - decided that television in Australia should be made a public instrumentality. That was Labour’s policy and had we remained in office it would still be our policy.
Are there any dissentients among honorable members opposite? Are they all for complete monopolisation and nationalisation of television?
– There it is; the honorable member for Lang agrees with that. But here it is again; the Leader of the Opposition said -
The Labour Party made television a government monopoly and will keep it that way.
Are there any complaints from honorable members opposite? Speak up. There is not a one. They all agree with that statement. Then here it is again. The Leader of the Opposition said -
I believe in a nationalised system. I do not believe that we preserve democracy by handing practically every medium of mass communication over to a few people . . .
Are there any dissentients? Can one notice any? I would hate to say what honorable members opposite remind me of. Then the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, with a view to distracting the House’s attention from his. party’s policy, made what I thought was a thoroughly scandalous attack upon Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. If there is one thing clear in this world it is that -the Labour Party hates success, and the reason why it hates success is that it is such a thoroughgoing failure as a party. But what about Ansett Transport Industries? What does the Labour Party intend to do about the 59,832 people who have investments in Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.? Is there any complaint about them?
– I know that the honorable member for Watson would complain and I know that if he had his way he would burn them to the ground. But why in a debate upon the merits of a measure dealing with television does that justify this thoroughly scandalous attack upon Ansett Transport Industries? What of the 8,500 people who work for Ansett Transport Industries? Are they entitled to be at the receiving end of the contumely that pours forth from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I say of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that his mind runs one way. It runs up in search of every opportunity to advance himself; it runs down at every other person who cannot offer him any opportunity. The honorable gentleman has a vertical mind, but it has neither perspective nor breadth. I come back to the case of Ansett Transport Industries. The honorable gentleman made the charge that no matter what happened to that organisation it would pay a 10 per cent, dividend. What authority did the honorable gentleman produce for that statement?
– Muck raking.
– My very conservative friend, the honorable member for Bowman describes it as a muck raking performance. I think, Sir, if I may say to you with infinite respect, that this is a very conservative way of describing the honorable gentleman’s performance this evening. I hesitate to put into my mouth the words which seem to me to be apposite to his performance. What authority has the honorable gentleman for his attack upon Ansett Transport Industries this evening? Absolutely none at all. Apparently he works upon the premise that if he throws enough mud a little of it will stick. But the honorable gentleman sees one virtue in Ansett Transport Industries. He says it is free from newspaper control.
Again I come back to his leader - “My leader”. I can see the honorable member when I close my eyes. The scene appears before me as almost a fairy tale performance. “ My leader “, he says. What does his leader think about newspaper industries and about mediums of communication? I put it to the House and I put it to my honorable friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that his leader has an endemic hatred of all mediums of communication which do not support him.
If I may presume to weary honorable members, I want to refer to one or two illustrations of the thorough-going detestation of the Leader of the Opposition for newspapers, for people connected with them, and indeed for all people who have any association with organisations that hold a point of view that differs from his own. Let me quote some of the rapturous language of this leader - “ My leader “. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is sitting at the table there scribbling like a - I must mind where I am and not say what comes to my mind. This is what his leader had to say -
Naturally, as a member of the Australian Labour Party, I support nationalisation. It is a plank of our platform. It is part of my political bible. I speak somewhat sadly on the question, because 1 cannot persuade the Government to nationalise anything. If 1 could only screw Ministers up to the point, I should nationalise, not only the wireless broadcasting system, but also banks and insurance companies. I should do a lot of things which, unfortunately, the Government will not do.
These are the words of the Leader of the Opposition. They appear in “ Hansard “ of 2nd June 1942, and I hope the representative of the Melbourne “Herald” will take some heed of them. This is what the honorable gentleman thinks about people and institutions who put forward a different point of view from that of the Australian Labour Party. I refer to “Hansard” of 7th October 1942. He said-
In view of the irresponsible nature of the charges, -
That is, charges made by Sir Keith Murdoch - and the effect that they will have on public morale, will the Minister put a censor in each office of the Murdoch press, or will he issue an order prohibiting Sir Keith Murdoch from writing articles calculated to lower public morale, or, better still, will he have him interned?
And here is another statement -
The proudest day of my life will be that on which I see the Editor of the Melbourne “ Herald “ in the dock charged under that section of the Crimes Act which provides for seven years’ goal without the option.
Who said that? I remind the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is sitting over there looking as comfortable as a pumpkin, that it was said by his leader. I am sure that the words I have read will be no surprise to the people outside this Parliament, but I think they are entitled to know exactly where the Australian Labour Party stands in the matter of television and in regard to the control of all mediums of communication in this country.
But I want to return, if I may, to the attack made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition upon Ansett Transport Industries. The honorable gentleman said that Ansett has been securely entrenched and has been in breach of existing law. That was the language used by him. My friend, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) who is sitting at the table, will confirm that that is a fair interpretation of what the honorable gentleman said. But what proof did the honorable gentleman have for making that statement? He had absolutely none at all. If it appears that Ansett Transport Industries has acted outside the law - and I deny that for a start - then plainly it is open to the Government to launch appropriate action against that company. But there is not one skerrick of evidence to support that point of view. Yet the honorable gentleman has made the charge that Ansett Transport Industries has been in breach of the existing law, and I suppose if a little of this mud rubs ofl elsewhere, the honorable gentleman will be satisfied.
May I, Sir, with great respect, invite the honorable Deputy Leader of the Opposition to consider a point of view put forward by Lord Sumner. No doubt the honorable gentleman is not particularly interested in political authorities but perhaps he can recapture sufficient of his legal training to respect legal authorities. This is what Lord Sumner had to say in Levene against the Inland Revenue Commissioner, reported in 1928 Appeal Cases -
It rs trite law that His Majesty’s subjects are free if they can to make their own arrangements so that their cases fall outside the scope of the taxing acts. They incur no legal penalties and, strictly speaking, no moral censure if, having considered the lines drawn by the legislature for the imposition of taxes, they make it their business to walk outside them.
Has the honorable gentleman any complaint to offer against that statement? If any person or any group of companies in this country has gone outside the law, then it is not up to this Parliament to turn round and seek to impose any censure upon them. This Parliament is responsible for the law and if, when the last amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act were before us, there were any deficiencies apparent, then it was open to those who sit on the Government side and those who sit on the Opposition side to refer to them. But what was the attitude of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition tonight? He sought refuge - and I think it is a thorough-going euphemism so to style it - by saying: “ Oh, well, it is not up to an office bearer in the Parliament to refer to any deficiencies”.
I invite the honorable gentleman to reconsider his position. I invite him to acknowledge the fact that his duty as a member of this Parliament is supreme. If he recognizes any flaw in legislation, if his sense of perception is such as to indicate to him that some company or some group of companies, by resorting to a particular form of behaviour is escaping from what may be predicted as policy, it is open to him to indicate what should be done. But what happened when the legislation was last before us? There was not a peep from the honorable gentleman.
I venture to say that it is open to all companies to use such resources as may be open to them to seek to protect themselves. It is also open to this Parliament to seek to protect the policy as proclaimed by the Government. This is precisely what is happening this evening. With no sense of impertinence or affectation, I would like to congratulate the Postmaster-General most warmly on his ingenuity, enterprise and skill in putting before the House amendments that will protect the essential and declared policy of the Government.
But what does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition do? He moves a miserable contemptible little amendment inviting the Parliament to set up a select committee. I return, Sir, to where I began my speech. What virtue would there be in having a select committee established on which there were members of the Australian Labour Party who hold this stated policy of nationalisation? It would be a complete and thorough-going waste of time.
This Bill is plainly a measure which is best considered in Committee. It is a measure which I most respectfully describe as being very complicated and very complex. It is a measure which is open to points of view but, nevertheless, I hold that those points of view can be best considered in Committee.
I have been stimulated this evening by a number of things. First of all, I have been stimulated by the fact that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in leading for his Party, has sought by one way and another to disguise from the Parliament and from the Australian people the fact that his Party is still pledged to the complete nationalisation of television in this country. Secondly I have been stimulated by the fact that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has made what I repeat was a thoroughly scandalous and scurrilous attack upon Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I recapitulate that the Australian Labour Party hates success, and the reason why it hates success is that it is a party of failure. Finally, may I, by no way of weary recapitulation, again congratulate the Postmaster-General on the tremendous amount of time that he has put into this measure? This is a measure which, although it is complicated and may appear, prima facie, difficult to understand, nevertheless represents a very well intentioned effort on the part of the Postmaster-General, and on the part of the Government, to secure the essential interests of free enterprise in Australia, to see that those interests are well balanced against those of the Government, which rest under the general aegis of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and at the same time to see that those interests of free enterprise are not put into the perilous position of being completely controlled by a few people in this country.
.- One thing that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) has done for me in particular this evening has been to clear up why it is that so many members of the Australian Labour Party have such a warm spot in their hearts for him. He said that the Labour Party hates success. I am certain that this is the reason why he feels so close to Jim. I was amazed at the pleasure that was expressed by members of the Labour Party when the honorable member was successful in passing his lawyer’s examination. We know he must be a good lawyer because it took him twice as long to get his degree as it takes the average person.
Now, before I get on to the speech which 1 have prepared, and which I hope has far more relevance to the Bill before the House than the speech to which we have just listened, let me, once and for all, verify the statement that was made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) about Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. Senator Paltridge attempted to justify the Australian National Airlines Bill in 1961 by saying -
Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. must have a target of the order of 10 per cent, after tax, and a reasonable allocation to reserves.
– What is wrong with that?
– That is why the Government introduced that measure.
– That is what Senator Paltridge said.
– That is a completely wrong interpretation.
– Order! The honorable member for Lang has the call. I would suggest that the House come to order and that interjections cease on both sides. I might remind the House that although we are discussing the Broadcasting and Television Bill, this debate is neither being broadcast nor televised.
– At this stage, I would like to voice a strong protest against the Government’s bringing down this legislation at this late stage of the session and then expecting the Opposition to discuss it within a very short time after its introduction. The second reading of this Bill was moved on 13 th May - only seven days ago. The honorable member for Moreton - and here I agree with him - said it was a most complex piece of legislation. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) said in his speech that it was a complex piece of legislation. Yet the Opposition and the backbench members on the Government side have been given only seven days in which to investigate the proposals outlined in the Bill.
The Bill that we are discussing has been under consideration by the PostmasterGeneral, by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and by members of the Postmaster-General’s staff since early in 1963, yet the Opposition has been given only seven days in which to consider the proposals that are now brought before us. In order to prove my point, let me refer to the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for 1962-63 which, in paragraphs 111 to 120, contains specific statements to the effect that the PostmasterGeneral and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board are perturbed by the actions of television companies in endeavouring to take over shareholdings in other companies. Of that report, 2J pages aTe taken up in outlining letters written by the then Postmaster-General, Sir Charles Davidson, to the companies and statements made by the Postmaster-General at that time. At that stage, the Postmaster-General was talking about the monopolization of television programmes.
In the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year 1963-64 reference is again made to the consideration of the taking over of television shares by various companies. On page 33 of that report, appears this statement -
On 29lh June, 1964, John Fairfax Ltd. informed the Minister that the company had purchased the Australian investments of Associated Television Ltd. London, held through its wholly owned subsidiary A.T.V. (Australia) Pty. Ltd., including those in commercial television services, and that when details of the transaction had been completed, the company would submit full details for the Minister’s approval.
It goes on -
This matter was being considered by the Minister at the time of preparation of this Report.
Paragraph 100, on the same page, mentions paragraph 1 1 1 of the Board’s annual report for 1962-63 and says -
These matters were still under consideration by the Government at the time of preparation of this Report.
So the legislation that we are discussing tonight has been under consideration by the Minister and his officers since early 1963. The amendments contained in the Bill have been found to be necessary because some of the smart operators controlling television stations have looked for snide ways of getting round the legislation that was introduced by Sir Charles Davidson, the Postmaster-General, in 1960. Those people might have been legally correct in what they did, but they were certainly morally wrong. The present PostmasterGeneral virtually said as much in his second reading speech, and Sir Charles Davidson also virtually said as much in the second reading speech which he made in 1960. The legislation we are discussing tonight is designed to do exactly the same things as the 1960 legislation was designed to do.
In this Bill, the Minister has made no real attempt to impose stringent penalties on these people who operate television station licences and endeavour to get round legislation enacted by this Parliament. This is another instance of people of this kind endeavouring to obtain control of very powerful instruments by snide operations. People of this sort caused the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), not many months ago, to introduce in this House legislation extensively altering the income tax laws. Some of the owners of our television stations, and people like them, are always endeavouring to find ways and means of getting round acts of this Parliament in order that they may put more money into their own pockets. 1 want to show the House just how closely related are the second reading speech made by the present PostmasterGeneral and remarks made by his predecessor in office five years ago. As reported at page 1705 of “Hansard” of 12th May 1960, Sir Charles Davidson, then Mr. Davidson, speaking at the second reading stage of the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1960 said-
I now come to a group of clauses in the Bill which substitute a new Division 3 for the Division 3 of Part IV that- is now in the Act. Division 3 in the Act at present contains two very significant sections. The first is section 91 which provides that a person shall not be in a position to control directly or indirectly more than two television licences. The second is section 92 which provides that 80 per cent, of the share capital of a company holding a licence shall be Held by residents of this country and that no non-resident shall hold more than IS per cent, of that capital. These provisions were enacted to express this Government’s policy that this very important channel of communication should not fall into the hands of too few, and that the benefit derived from the exercise of licences which lay in the grant of the Government should be spread widely through the Australian community.
He went on to say -
The Government does not deviate from the policy which it asked this Parliament to express in sections 91 and 92 of the existing Act and accordingly I have retained them in substance in the new Division 3. But the Government is desirous that there should be no frustration of that policy by sheltering behind a legal concept whilst in truth and in commercial reality the policy is being defeated.
Sir Charles Davidson added
I do not pause here to speak in detail of the manner by which the clauses ensure that this provision cannot be evaded by the interpolation of a company or a series of companies between the person seeking to control the television licence and the company which has it.
In the later part of his speech, he spoke of the monopolisation of television programmes in these terms -
Mr. Speaker, there may, of course, at times be a dearth of available television film, and I do not propose to enter what is perhaps a controversial field of discussion as to whether that is or is not a prevailing condition at the moment, but the Government has decided that it will take its stand against any endeavour to monopolise television film - to corner it, to use an old and well understood phrase - and to use it, not as an item of commerce but as an unwarranted source of power.
There are further references in this speech to the efforts made by the Government at that time to curb the activities of some of the holders of television licences in the monopolisation of programmes.
I turn now to the present Bill. The PostmasterGeneral opened his second reading speech by saying -
The primary purpose of this Bill is to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1964 to make more effective the provisions relating to the ownership and control of television stations. Because of the extent of the amendments required it has been considered desirable to remake the whole of Division 3 of Part IV of the Act-
Those words are almost exactly the same as the words used five years ago by Sir Charles Davidson - and the opportunity has been taken, at the same time, to propose a number of incidental amendments. Certain alterations are also proposed in respect of the way in which, in the future, problems in respect of what is termed the monopolisation of programmes will be dealt with.
Again, the words are almost exactly the same as the words used five years ago by Sir Charles Davidson. The Minister went on -
Honorable members may recall that on 17th December 1964 I made a statement announcing the Government’s intention to bring down legislation to deal with the position of the ownership and control of television stations. I pointed out in that statement that the Government’s policy with respect to the control of commercial television stations has been and still is, broadly, that no person, and this includes a company, should be in a position to control, either directly or indirectly, more than two licences and that, as far as practicable, licences for country television stations should be held or controlled by local interests. The present provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act relating to this matter, which were enacted in 1960, were framed with the intention of giving effect to this policy but, notwithstanding the comprehensive provisions of the 1960 legislation, situations have developed which, though they are not in breach of the law, are in conflict with the Government’s stated policy.
So the Postmaster-General is again endeavouring to cover the tracks that were left so exposed by his predecessor, Sir Charles Davidson. But nowhere in his second reading speech did the Minister mention one television company, one director or one person who may have been concerned in the alleged infringements of the 1960 legislation. Why does not the Minister lay down before us in this House chapter and verse of his case and tell us who are these people who are endeavouring to infringe the law and who are causing this Parliament again to go through all the trouble of drafting and discussing this kind of measure in order to curb the activities of a few people in the community who continually endeavour to get round the laws of the land? The Minister, in this Bill, has made no attempt to deal with any of the infringements - or perhaps likely infringements - of the 1960 Act. The Bill, indeed, provides that those who are infringing its provisions will not have to sell up any of their interests. The Government is well aware that it has been tricked by these snide operators. Therefore, why does it not force them to sell the interests that are said to infringe the law?
I suppose that the answer to this question is reasonably obvious when we look at the people who control our newspapers, television stations and radio broadcasting stations. I have obtained relevant information relating to radio stations from the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the financial year 1963-64. At page 10, it states-
According to the information supplied by the licensees to the Board during the year, 35 of the 110 commercial broadcasting stations in service were being operated by persons or organisations which were in a position to control only ona station, and 16 by persons or organisations which were in a position to control, or were substantially interested in, two stations. The remaining 59 stations were controlled by persons or organisations which were in a position to control directly or indirectly, or had substantial interests in, three or more stations, but in no case did it appear to the Board from the information in its possession that there had been any infringement of section 90 of the Act during the year to which this report relates.
I hope that the Board’s information about television stations is much more accurate than its information about radio stations. From this report it is obvious that the Board was not certain whether the information it was getting was reliable. I hope that in the case of television stations, particularly under the provisions of this Bill, the Broadcasting Control Board will be able to say it is certain from the information it receives that the Act is not being infringed.
We find that included in the newspaper companies associated with broadcasting stations are John Fairfax and Sons Ltd., Australian Consolidated Press Ltd., David Syme and Co. Ltd., News Ltd., Advertiser Newspapers Ltd., West Australian Newspapers Ltd., Armidale Newspaper Co. Ltd., and Country Life Newspaper Co. Ltd. If we turn to page 33 of this same report we find set out in paragraph 101 the principal newspaper interests in commercial television stations. John Fairfax Ltd. is interested in ATN Sydney, CTC Canberra, NBN Newcastle and QTQ Brisbane; Australian Consolidated Press Ltd. is interested in TCN Sydney, WIN Illawarra area, NBN Newcastle, GTV Melbourne, BTQ Brisbane and NWS Adelaide; the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd. is interested in HSV Melbourne, GTV Melbourne, BCV Bendigo, BTQ Brisbane, ADS Adelaide and TVT Hobart; David Syme and Co. Ltd. is interested in GTV Melbourne; Queensland Press Ltd. is interested in BTQ Brisbane; News Ltd. Adelaide is interested in TCN Sydney, WIN Illawarra area, NBN Newcastle, GTV Melbourne, BTQ Brisbane and NWS Adelaide; Advertiser Newspapers Ltd. is interested in ATS Adelaide; West Australian Newspapers Ltd. is interested in TVW Perth; and Davies Bros. Ltd. is interested in TVT Hobart. The report also lists country and provincial newspapers that are substantia] shareholders in television stations.
If we examine this mass media in its widest ramifications we find that the same people to a large extent control our daily newspapers, our broadcasting stations and our television channels. From time to time in this House we hear talk about censorship and the need for the Government to lift censorship restrictions. Many organisations claim that there should be no censorship in Australia, but with our mass media we have a more dangerous censorship developing. Here people who are beholden to nobody can refuse to publish any item of news, can refuse to publicise anything that might happen, can refuse to allow people to appear on their television programmes, and if they so decide can virtually control the government of this country. This is a dangerous type of censorship. It is the type of censorship against which we should be safeguarding ourselves.
– The alternative is nationalisation.
– The alterantive is not nationalisation at all, although I do not see anything wrong with nationalisation. The alternative is that the legislation we are now discussing should be more strongly worded than it is so that no company or no individual should be allowed to have shares in more than one television company. We should curtail interests in this direction. The honorable member is reasonably new to this House and I do not know whether he was listening to the early part of my speech, but I pointed out that twice in five yeaTS - in 1960 and again in 1965 - the PostmasterGeneral and his predecessor have re-written Division 3 Part IV of the Broadcasting and Television Act in an attempt to curtail the activities of these people, who, for some reason or other, seem to be regarded as little gods because they happen to control our newspapers. They are as vicious and as dangerous as any other person in the Commonwealth. Because they happen to be newspaper proprietors does not mean that they are not capable of envy, jealousy, bitterness or hatred, and to allow them to gain control of so much of our mass media is something which could be dangerous to us in future. There would be nothing wrong with the Government itself controlling our television licences. The licences cost these companies nothing and the companies return very little to the Commonwealth in fees, yet they make enormous profits.
Why should not the licences be held by the Commonwealth and rented out to these people perhaps on the basis of a proportion of their profits or on an annual rental? Why should the control of this powerful medium of television be allowed to get into the hands of private individuals? For the information of the House I point out that Mr. Osborne, who was a member of the Royal Commission on Television, recommended that all transmitters should be under Commonwealth control. Most honorable members would know who Mr. Osborne is, and that was his attitude in 1954. He said that in his opinion all transmitting stations should be under public ownership.
In suggesting that there should be national control of television stations we are not committing the sin that the honorable member for Moreton might have honorable members believe. We are not committing the sin that the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) is inclined to make out. because in the United Kingdom this situation applies. There is no such thing as a commercial television broadcasting licence in the United Kingdom. All licences are owned and controlled by the government. These are matters that we should be examining at this stage. Surely the Government has realized by now - in its attempts in 1960 and in 1965 to curb the activities of these people who are endeavouring to gain more and more control of our television stations - that it has to be much more deliberate in its attempts and it has to make absolutely certain that the restrictions on the ownership and control of television are much harsher than they are today.
These are some of the reasons why the Deputy Leader of the Oposition has moved an amendment asking for a joint select committee to go into the various operations of television stations. I appreciate that we have as Postmaster-General perhaps the greatest lover of private enterprise activities in this Parliament. I know that some of the things I say displease him, but I think that his experience since he has been PostmasterGeneral of the attitudes that he has had to adopt on many occasions should convince him that unless he gets rougher and tougher than he has been in the past the television owners are going to try to get around the provisions of this Bill the same as they got around the provisions of the 1960 legislation.
– They will not do it now.
– I hope that the Minister is right, but the Minister’s predecessor had exactly the same air of confidence when I spoke on the 1960 legislation at practically the same time of night. I conclude my remarks by once again complaining that legislation of this importance should be given to us so shortly before we have to discuss it. I feel that the Government and particularly the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) deserve to be censured for not having legislation such as this brought before us in time to give us an opportunity to fully discuss it. I have pleasure in supporting the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Friday, 21st May 1965.
– I rise to support the Bill. One of the principles underlying our legislation on television is that there will be no monopoly of the means of transmission. That principle was evident in the first television bill - the Broadcasting and Television Bill - which was brought in by this Government in 1956, and it is evident in the amending Bill that is before the House tonight. There are various reasons why this principle is accepted by the Government and, I believe, by the majority of the people of Australia. In the first place, the concentration of this very important power of mass communication in the hands of one body or in the hands of a few bodies would give it or them a great influence over our thoughts and our minds. For example, if there were only one source of news in this medium a situation could easily arise in which only one side or one set of facts would be presented to us.
Another reason is that the presence of competition in this field tends to keep up the standard of entertainment. Of course, it is easy to criticise television programmes; but I think honorable members will agree that it is fair to say that in Australia we have a lively and efficient television industry and that at least in the capital cities we have a reasonable choice of programmes of good standard. The commercial stations have their problems; but, with encouragement from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, they have, in fact, displayed a considerable sense of responsibility.
There are pressures which operate in favour of concentration of control in the hands of television stations. These pressures are very substantial. Some of them may be open to criticism. One of the facts of economic life in this industry is that network operation is more economical and is a sounder proposition commercially than independent operation. The cost of purchasing first rate programmes is such that the owner of a network, such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, has a distinct advantage over the independent operator. That is one reason - a perfectly innocent reason - why there is this strong tendency for the owners of television stations to seek to acquire an interest in as many stations as possible. To redress and check that tendency is the constant concern of the Government, having in mind the over-riding principle against monopoly, which it has adopted in the public interest.
What has happened since the 1960 legislation was passed? It is true that when that legislation was introduced its provisions appeared to be stringent and confidence was expressed that they would cover the position. For example, that legislation made it an offence to hold or to be in a position to control more than one commercial television licence in a Territory or within 30 miles of a General Post Office in a capital city, or more than two licences in Australia. The effectiveness of that provision necessarily depended on how “ control “ was defined. In the 1960 legislation, section 92B provided that a person who was in a position to exercise control of more than 15 per cent, of the voting power of a company holding a licence was deemed to be in a position to control that company.
On the face of it, that looked to be a stringent provision. But a practice grew up under which companies provided in their articles of association that a shareholding would not carry more than 15 per cent, of the votes. In such a case a shareholder might have a very large - even a dominant - shareholding in size and yet not have more than 15 per cent, of the voting strength. That was not in breach of the existing Act. It has been found that a large shareholding - even with these limited voting rights and, indeed, even with a large debt - has given to the holder of it control in fact which has been contrary to the policy adopted by the Government.
I come to the remedy that is now suggested. This Bill sets out to deal with three types of control - shareholder control, creditor control and director control. Dealing with shareholder control and creditor, I point out that under the amendments contained in this Bill it still will be an offence to hold or to be in a position to control more than one licence in a Territory or within 30 miles of a General Post Office in a capital city, or more than two licences in Australia. But greater stringency has been introduced in the provisions relating to control. Under this Bill a person will have what is called a “ prescribed interest” which, for the purposes of this part of the discussion, we can regard as control if he is in a position to exercise control of more than 5 per cent, of the votes of a company holding a licence. The percentage is 5 instead of 15. People might say: “ The companies can alter their articles again to reduce voting power to 5 per cent. This amendment will not worry them “. But proposed new section 91 (2.) also makes it a prescribed interest to have shareholding interests exceeding 5 per cent, of the total amount paid on all shares in the company. So it no longer will be possible to have a large or dominant holding in paid-up capital with a small vote. That covers shareholder control, direct or indirect.
This proposed new section goes further. It also deals with creditor control. It makes it a prescribed interest to hold what it calls interests in the company exceeding 5 per cent, of the total amount of all interests. Proposed new section 91 (1.) makes it clear that “ interest “ includes shareholding interest or loan interest. Loan interest may arise by various methods which are referred to in the definition. There is no need to go into them in this second reading debate. Loan interest covers debentures unsecured notes, and, in fact, all types of loans. But there are two types of loans which are excluded. These are overdrafts due to a bank and moneys owing in consideration of the supply of equipment. I think honorable members will agree that those are proper exclusions, although the second one seems to carry the consequence that if a company wants to borrow to buy equipment the lender will avoid being regarded as having a loan interest if, instead of lending the company the money to buy the equipment, he buys the equipment and re-sells it to the company. However, the figures for equipment are not the major figures in this industry. The major figures relate to the purchase of programmes.
In addition, this Bill deals with director control. Proposed new section 92c provides, in effect, that a person shall not be a director of two or more companies which between them are in a position to exercise control of more than two licences. I am summarising the provision. In order to ascertain whether a company is in a position to exercise control in this sense, it is necessary to go not to proposed new section 91, which deals with prescribed interest and the 5 per cent, of the voting strength, but to proposed new sections 92a and 92b. Broadly, the effect is that voting rights exceeding 15 per cent, in the company holding the licence, or a holding of more than 15 per cent, of the paid-up capital, will be classed as control for this purpose. So, a director of such a company having such a holding will be a director of a company in a position to control a company holding a licence.
The Bill, as originally drawn and brought before the House, made it an offence to continue after the prescribed date directorships which, although legally unobjectionable under the existing law, would not be permitted to be set up after this Bill is passed. Incidentally, the prescribed date is 17th December 1964, the date on which the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) made a public announcement of his intention to introduce these amendments. Since the bill was introduced the Postmaster-General has circulated a proposed amendment to the provision dealing with directorships. Perhaps J could refer to that in dealing with the subject of retrospective operation of this and other provisions of the Bill. A further provision to be noted is the prohibition against non-residents holding more than a certain proportion of shares. That section of the previous Act which required conditions to be inserted in the licence governing the proportion of shares which may be held by non-residents is repeated in the Bill.
The next important provision deals with changes in ownership from time to time. Proposed new section 92f applies to transactions which will result in a person’s obtaining a prescribed interest in a company holding a licence or, if that person already has a prescribed interest, to transactions which will result in his increasing his interest. Those two types of transactions are subject to the Minister’s approval. If the Minister’s approval is not sought, the Minister may direct that a person shall cease to have the new interest. Sub-section (4.) of proposed new section 92f provides that the Minister shall not refuse to grant approval or give a notice, unless there has been a report by the Board and unless considering the report and any recommendation the Minister considers there is a contravention of section 92 or that it is necessary to maintain the particular ownership or control in the public interest.
Perhaps one may sum up by saying that a person who has interests lawfully acquired under the existing law, which would contravene the Bill, will be allowed to continue them, but will not be allowed to increase them. If he has interests under the existing law which would not breach the Bill, he will not be allowed to enter into a transaction which will increase his holdings so as to breach the present law. If he reduces his holdings, and those holdings at a prescribed date were in excess of what would be permitted once this Bill is passed, he has to keep them reduced; he is not allowed to return his holdings to what they were at the prescribed date. Although the Minister is given power to approve, he is not permitted under this legislation to approve a transaction which would create a breach of the Act.
These are fairly tight restrictions. They will be more effective than the previous provisions in carrying out the Government’s policy.
There is one matter that I should mention. Before the prescribed date - 17th December 1964 - when the PostmasterGeneral announced his intention to amend the law, various television stations had acquired interests which were not in breach of the existing law but which would be in breach of the present provisions if similar action were taken at the present time. This amending Bill will permit those holdings to be continued. Although the Bill as it originally came before us would have required directorships to be discontinued under the amendment which the PostmasterGeneral has indicated he will accept in the House it will now be possible to continue existing directorships which were not in breach at the prescribed date. I submit that this is a wise provision because to disturb these past transactions which were valid at the time they were entered into would be to give the legislation retrospective operation. Normally in a civilised community this is undesirable unless absolutely necessary in the public interest. In this particular case if one required a reconstitution of these interests there would be depreciation in the value of a lot of small holdings in these companies. I commend the proposal to allow those stations to continue the position which had in fact legally come into existence at 17th December last.
What does the Opposition say to this Bill. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said that in the five years since 1960 monopolisation of ownership and programmes had proceeded apace and that a year ago Ansett acquired an interest in a Queensland television station which was in breach of the law. He said also that the Postmaster-General has been tardy in bringing down amendments. If we examine these allegations we find that they are without foundation. There have been changes in the ownership of television stations which have been in accordance with the existing law. The particular instance which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to, namely the acquisition by Ansett of an interest in a Queensland television station, was not in breach of the then existing law and would not be in breach of this law. As honorable members are aware, it is possible to have an interest in two television stations in different capital cities. This is all that would result from the acquisition by Ansett of the interest in the Queensland station. Both laws would permit this to be done. It is beside the point to refer to that transaction and to say that the PostmasterGeneral should have acted. The foundation of the argument is not sound.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said also that under section 108 of The Act particular conditions were imposed in licences and that on application to the High Court of Australia those conditions were found to be outside the provisions of the section. This argument also is quite beside the point in relation to this Bill. There is no proposal to amend section 108. There is no need to amend it as a result of the High Court’s decision. All that flowed from that decision was that if one wanted to give effect to the section one had better draw the licence in a different form. As it happened there was no need to issue further instruments under that section.
An amendment has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition by which the Opposition, while not declining to give the Bill a second reading, seeks the appointment of a joint select committee to inquire into and report on various general matters. If this amendment was designed to delay the Bill taking effect it would be contrary to what I understand to be the view of the Opposition and of honorable members on this side of the House. If the amendment simply means that we pass the Bill and then have an inquiry by a select committee, it does not amount to anything. We have already had a report of a select committee. We have the constant supervision of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The appointment now of another select committee would advance the matter no further. I therefore oppose the Opposition’s amendment.
Before I conclude my remarks I wish to refer to one other matter. Section 105a of the previous legislation dealt with the monopolising of television programmes. The section provided that the Board might, upon application of a television station, by order addressed to a person who has the right to make television film available and who has not complied with a request of the licensee, direct that person to make that film available on terms which appear to the Board to bc just and reasonable in all the circumstances. Before making an order under section 105a the Board was obliged to hold an inquiry, lt was not to make an order if it was satisfied that the person had reasonable grounds of objection for refusing to make film available. It was further stated that it would be a reasonable ground of objection if the person refusing showed that his failure was not in any way related to an intention or attempt to obtain control of the management or the selection of programmes of the other station.
This section is to be repealed by the Bill and a new section 134 will be inserted. This new section gives the Minister a wide power to make regulations dealing with this subject matter. It may be said that the old section 105a was not used to any extent. It is not entirely clear whether this was because it was considered to be ineffectual. It may be said it would rarely be possible to prove that a refusal to supply film was in any way related to an attempt to gain control. While I am in agreement with the necessity for having an effective provision regarding the supply of television programmes, I question whether this should be left entirely to regulations. It is true, of course, that regulations will have to be laid before both Houses, if they are made, and they may be disallowed. But this is a matter of considerable importance and I would ask the Minister to consider whether at least the principles should not be contained in the Bill. Subject to this comment, I support the Bill.
Motion (by Mr. Daly) negatived -
That the debate be adjourned.
– I thought honorable members opposite, who look so weary and distressed, might have cared to listen to me at a later hour this day when they would be more receptive to the views I will place before them. I listened carefully to the last two honorable members on the Government side who spoke in this debate and to say the very least they were a very dreary pair. I gained the impression that they are very weary, perhaps as weary as their colleagues appear to be. 1 followed the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) closely, but 1 can only say, as charitably as possible, that his speech did not sound too good. However, it will probably read well. For his sake, ) sincerely trust that it will. His speech was a defence of the huge newspaper and vested interests which, under this Government, have taken over the television stations.
The Bill gives us an opportunity at this late hour to refer to matters relating to television stations. The people will not know what our views are, because the Government always arranges for a debate on legislation such as this to be held at a time when people cannot listen to our speeches. I have here the “Hansard” for 18th May 1960. At 8 o’clock at night, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) moved an amendment to the Bill. The 1960 legislation has proved to be a failure and the Government is now trying to bolster it a bit with some completely new provisions. The debate in 1960 finished at 4 a.m., after we had debated it for eight hours without a break. The debate started on Wednesday and finished in the early hours of the following day. Now the Government is asking us to debate this Bill in similar circumstances, although it has had the legislation for months.
Why is the Government so ashamed of the legislation relating to television stations, the granting of licences and the control of stations? Why must it bring in bills relating to television stations when the proceedings of Parliament are not being broadcast and rush them through in the dead of night, no matter how tired honorable members may be. I think the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has something to answer for here. The legislation that he has brought down is of the most complex type. Honorable members opposite have admitted that this is so. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) said that it was a complex Bill. The Postmaster-General said in his second reading speech that it was a complex Bill. As I sat here tonight waiting for an opportunity to speak, the Postmaster-General produced half a dozen amendments to the Bill. Although we have not had a chance to look at them, the Minister expects us to put them through at this hour of the morning.
– The honorable member has had the Bill for a week.
– The Minister has had it for six months, but he now tells us that we have had it for a week. Although he has had it for six months, he has not made up his mind about it and now brings in half a dozen complicated amendments.
– AH the honorable members opposite have had it.
– That is so. The Government is hiding a lot of the things that are happening in the television industry and in the granting of licences. The Minister might well answer to us for insisting that the debate proceed on this Bill at this late hour. The records of the Senate show that Bills relating to television have been brought in after long delays by the Government and have been rushed through the Senate without any consideration being given to the need to debate them. These matters are worth bringing to the attention of the public. They show the sinister influences that are at work. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said tonight, some people are gaining control of the television industry in this country with the approval of the Government. This is why the Government chooses to have these matters debated at a time when the public will not be listening.
I have looked at the second reading speech of the Postmaster-General, lt is almost a complete apology by the Government for the failure of its 1960 legislation to stop trafficking in shares and to restrict monopoly control of television stations. The legislation that it said would prevent exploitation has failed. The Minister summarised what he said were the terms of this Bill in this way -
In essence, however, the major effect of the Bill may be fairly succinctly stated. It provides that no person shall, in the future, acquire interests of a voting, shareholding or financial character which would result in such interests being in excess of 5 per centum in more than two licences.
That is the Minister’s summary of this very complex piece of legislation. However, a lot is hidden in that little statement- For instance, on 17th December 1964 he promised to introduce legislation. Let us congratulate him. He brought it down on a Wednesday, we have debated it in the dead of night, he has fulfilled his promise and the legislation wi’l have effect, but we will not have the opportunity to explore it in detail because the Government will move the gag even at this hour. The Minister also said - . . no person . . . should be in a position to control, either directly or indirectly, more than two licences and that, as far as practicable, licences for country television stations should be held or controlled by local interests.
The Government is very generous; it is giving people two television licences. I will show later that the profits from these licences are huge.
– We will settle for one licence.
– The Opposition will settle for one licence, but the Minister says that some people may have two licences. The Minister also said -
The present provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act relating to this matter, which were enacted in 1.960, were framed with the intention of giving effect to this policy but, notwithstanding the comprehensive provisions of the 1960 legislation, situations have developed which, though they are not in breach of the law, are in conflict with the Government’s stated policy.
In other words, the people who have been granted these licences - the privileged supporters of the Government, the Fairfaxes, the Packers and the Ansetts - have not been happy with the terms of the legislation and have tried to get around it. The legislation has failed and that is why this Bill has been introduced. The Minister went on to say that 15 per cent, was looked upon as a controlling interest, but even that did not provide the protection that was sought at the time. Consequently, this Bill has been introduced to provide that 5 per cent, will be considered to be a controlling interest. The Minister said -
I do not propose in this second reading speech to deal in any great detail with the various clauses of the Bill. They are, in general, fairly complex and can better be dealt with in the Committee stage.
Will the Minister tell us why a fairly complex Bill, the clauses of which can really be understood only by a Queen’s Counsel, is not being debated at a time when we can consider all its details? As the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) said, the Bill will take effect as from 17th December. So, no matter how smart a person was in obtaining shares before that time, he can keep them because the Government will not make this legislation retrospective. The Minister says that there is difficulty in making it retrospective - that there are problems. Of course, some of the Government’s friends might be involved. Woud it not be dreadful to find that some of the Government’s great supporters had contravened the regulations under the legislation that the Government has brought down? Under this Government there is one policy for those who were shrewd in respect of these matters before 17th December 1964, but from now on those that obtain licences have to reform and conform to the terras of the Act. What an outrageous thing it is at any time for any government to suggest that that position should exist.
In Committee the Opposition will move that the legislation be made retrospective to the date when the original Act was introduced, in order to bring within the confines of the Act those people who have put it over the Government and over the people of Australia by buying up shares in companies and exploiting the 1960 Act. These great profit-making companies have taken advantage of a vast medium of propaganda. I mention these things in order that members will know that this is a Bill that ought to be discussed at a reasonable hour of the day.
I do not intend to go through the terms of the Bill that has been brought down by the Minister. I see that quite a few people have wakened up in the last few minutes and probably they can read the Bill for themselves. I am very patient. I have about 20 minutes left in which to speak and I do not mind trying to enlighten honorable members opposite, but I think, having had a good look at them, it would take more than 20 minutes to do so. It would be almost a full night’s job to convince the two or three I am looking at.
I notice on page 5 of the Bill that the Minister has at least maintained the principle of one share, one vote. Possibly the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) might take note of that in the legislation that he has introduced. I notice also on page 5 that share changers are dealt with. I wonder why the Government is not making the provision in relation to share changers retrospective to 17th December? It may be that it would have to look into the activities of a certain man who has a big interest now in a Brisbane station that he should never have obtained. Here again we see the protection of this Government given to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. - even in television legislation. I think that if honorable members checked the legislation thoroughly they would find that the real reason why it is to apply from only 17th December last year is that the Government would catch its friend Ansett if it were to go back beyond that date. The Fairfaxes, the Packers, the Murdochs and others can thank Ansett for saving them from paying the full penalty for their crimes of trafficking in television licences and shares. It is probably because of Ansett that the Government will not go back beyond that time. The Opposition will give honorable members on the other side of the Parliament an opportunity to line up and vote for the Opposition proposal in the Committee stages of the Bill. 1 do not want to deal any further with the second reading speech of the Minister other than to say that it is a collection of apologies for a complex Bill and for the failure of the Government’s friends to live up to their obligations and do the right thing in paying for the favours that have been given to them. The very issue of television licences needs a complete and full inquiry. The amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is clear for all to see. Tonight, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who made one of his worst efforts - and I am giving him plenty of leeway because there are not many of them that are very good - would not have been able to make a speech if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had not spoken. The honorable member for Moreton spent all of his time complaining about how the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had torn the Minister to ribbons for the Government’s treatment of its favoured sons in this section of industry.
As has already been stated, the amendment moved by the Opposition provides for a full inquiry into the shareholding, networks, monopoly control and programming of television stations. In his second reading speech the Minister said that he did not know what a network was. One of these days when he has a couple of minutes to spare he should come around to my room and I will bring him right up to date. In an effort to protect his friends he said that the Government could not define what a network was. I think he could get the definition out of Webster’s Dictionary let alone from the Packers, Fairfaxes and others. If the Minister does not know what a network is let him have a good look through some of these reports that were cited by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) tonight. Any Minister who says that he cannot legislate because he does not know what a network is, is defending, on behalf of the Government, people whom he knows are its friends and whom he does not want to bring into the light of day.
The granting of television licences must be one of the greatest rackets in the country. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said a royal commission is required for the simple reason that television licences are a public benefit for members such as the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) and others. When the television inquiries were on in Melbourne you could not get into Mascot airport for the number of Queen’s Counsel and junior counsel going to and fro in order to take their part in the long inquiries that may have been decided even before these gentlemen went to Melbourne. There were instances where companies have written to me and said that they paid thousands of pounds in costs, but even before the hearing started they felt that they did not have much chance of obtaining a licence.
Let us have a look at a small inquiry. There is one in the report in connection with applications for television licences in the Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth areas. On page 65 the dates of the inquiries are shown and the names given of counsel for the applicants and interveners. The inquiry in Brisbane was held from 21st May to 24th June. That was just a short period so they had only six Queen’s Counsel and five junior counsel. I suppose that the Q.C.’s would be paid a couple of hundred pounds a day and that, in addition, the junior counsel would receive about 50 per cent, of that amount. The hearing went on for a month. Honorable members can work out what the costs for Queen’s Counsel alone would be. In the Adelaide area the hearing lasted from 16th July to 13th August. They were two Q.C.’s and five juniors. In Perth the inquiry went from the 3rd September to 19th September.
They did not let their heads go there; they just had two Q.C.’s and two junior counsel. The cost of these counsel alone makes it difficult for a company even to make application for a licence.
There ought to be a completely new approach to the issuing of television licences. I am not exaggerating when I say that the leading counsel of Sydney spent weeks on end in Melbourne and in travelling to and fro. It was the most luxurious jaunt they have ever had in their lives paid for no doubt from shareholders’ funds. These companies paid most of their money out for counsels’ costs, publicity and other items. From the way that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board treats the Labour Party at election time, allowing propaganda of the vilest type, I am not satisfied that it is not much more than an instrument of Government propaganda. It is significant that it is loaded against the Labour Party in every way, from the granting of licences down to the types of political programmes that are presented. Quite apart from the genera] inquiry that the Opposition is asking for it is nearly time that a royal commission was appointed on the issuing of television licences. Such a royal commission could go into all the ramifications and the actions of those who are involved.
There are a few other matters to which I want to direct the attention of the Parliament. The Packers, the Fairfaxes and others would not put on a live show unless they were forced to do so by a section of the Act. They import films that are seven, eight and 20 years old and frequently go back to the days of Hopalong Cassidy. They refuse to produce programmes of the type that are required because they make more money out of these old films than they would out of films produced by an Australian television industry. In view of the number of television stations, and the profits they are making, this Government has an obligation to the Australian television industry to see that Australian artists are employed and that the public get live shows of the quality and calibre to which they are entitled.
As I look around the chamber I see that I have done more than the honorable member for Parramatta did. I have awakened most honorable members. The r:port o; the Australian Broadcasting Control Board of 30th June 1964 shows that at that date there were 110 television stations in Australia. The stations say how they are helping the populace by putting on syndicated programmes. Since 1941-42 the combined profits of television and radio stations have risen from £81,689 to £2,455,041. These are the struggling people behind the Government. These are the people who, by their influences and their power, by the way that they are able to get at the Government indirectly, as the honorable member for Werriwa mentioned tonight in his speech, who between them recieved £2,455,000 profit, are the ones who have the obligation under the Broadcasting and Television Act to present programmes of a type that will give the entertainment to which our people are entitled. That is another good reason why honourable members on this side of the House desire that there should be a full and complete inquiry into all the ramifications of what is taking place in the television industry.
I do not want to go into the whole of these matters now. The honorable member for Lang tonight cited the networks that now exist in Australia. The Minister should read some of the reports issued by the Broadcasting Control Board; they would bring him right up to date on what a network is.
– I will listen to the honorable member.
– The Minister will learn a bit from me also. Of course, the Minister is luckier than most honorable members opposite; he at least looks a bit intelligent. At page 23 of the Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1964 the subject of political broadcasts is dealt with. This material shows why the Government objects to an inquiry. To state an example to show that we should have an inquiry into television and all its ramifications, let me say that the Australian Labour Party lodged a complaint with the Broadcasting Control Board at a vital time when propaganda was being used against it. From what I have been able to gather, the Board hardly bothered even to reply to the complaint, yet the members of the Board are paid to see that the Act is properly administered.
When honorable members consider the times allotted by the television stations to the Labour Party for political telecasts and also times allotted to the Liberal, Country and Democratic Labour Parties, they will realise how the allocation of time was loaded against the Australian Labour Party. I refer first to the allocation of time by the television stations operated by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which at this stage appear to be subject to ministerial direction, judging by the programme “ Four Corners “ and a few other things. On page 24 of the report there appears a table showing the times allocated to various parties and candidates. Throughout Australia on metropolitan stations the Labour Party received 45 per cent, of the time allocated; the rest of it went to the other parties in this proportion: Country Party, 1 6.9 per cent.; Liberal Party, 30.6 per cent.; Democratic Labour Party, .9 per cent.; and others, 6.4 per cent. In other words, 55 per cent, of the time allocated went to antiLabour propaganda and only 45 per cent, of the time was allocated to the Australian Labour Party. On the country stations, 58 per cent, of the time was allocated against the Labour Party, which received 42 per cent. If honorable members look through these figures they will find that in the metropolitan and country stations combined, Labour was allocated 42 per cent, of the time whereas the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labour Party - all Government parties - received 58 per cent, of the time. Honorable members will see the bias in those allocations. In addition to that, the Labour Party was not allocated times at reasonable hours of the day. The Labour Party candidates were expected to take late viewing times. Yet the same stations probably gave free time to the enemies of the Labour Party in return for favours given in respect of television licences.
I regret that I have not time to go on all night on this subject because I may be able to wake the Government up on the matter. Let us consider the distribution of time by private stations for televised political matter. We find that in the metropolitan area the Labour Party received only 42 per cent, in all States whilst the other parties received 58 per cent. Yet on the private stations we were required to pay for that time. The country commercial stations gave Labour only 35 per cent, of the time and the balance was allocated to Labour’s opponents who sit opposite - no doubt as a gesture of thanks for the television licences. For the metropolitan and country stations combined, the Australian Labour Party received 38 per cent, of the time allocated and the others received 62 per cent, between them. What benefits the Government is getting from the favours given out in television licences. No wonder the Minister wants to debate this Bill in the dead of night. No wonder honorable members are angry when these revelations are made about how the Government is exploiting television in its own political interests. Mr. Speaker, even you must be amazed at what is happening in the television world. You must be amazed to see what is done in the name of what honorable members opposite call democracy. I mention these matters merely in order that the public will be aware of what is taking place in Australia and will realize the need for an inquiry along the lines suggested by the honorable member for Werriwa.
What objection have honorable members opposite to an inquiry into the monopoly control in Australia of television? Does any honorable member opposite deny that, as stated in the motion moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, a joint committee should be appointed to investigate the operation and administration of the Broadcasting and Television Act? Who in this country does not want an inquiry into the granting of television licences? And what about the shareholding interests that are involved and the trafficking in shares? Why is it that honorable members opposite do not want an investigation of the networks that have been established by the various newspaper proprietors, and why is it that they do not want an investigation into the monopoly control of television, programming and the matters associated with those questions? When an individual has a guilty conscience, he does not want an inquiry. Nor does a Government want an inquiry when it knows that the administration is not sound, is loaded against one party and is loaded in respect of its own supporters. That is why we debate this matter at this time of night and that is why the Government refuses to support the motion moved by the honorable member for Werriwa.
I wonder whether the Minister would be prepared to make this provision retrospective if he did not know that the Fairfaxes, Packers, Murdochs and the people in Melbourne and Brisbane were involved in some of the transactions prior to 17th December. I wonder if the Minister will tell us, apart from making weak excuses, why he cannot make the provision retrospective, why he will not take action against companies which exploited the Government’s policy prior to 17th December 1964. ls he ashamed to do so?
– I will tell the honorable gentleman what he is frightened of. He is frightened of the revelations that would come out which would show that the Government has favoured these people and let them get away with things that they should not have got away with at any time. This Bill is a half-baked proposition which is designed to jack up legislation which has failed. It has been introduced so that the Government can cover up. It is designed to prove that it is doing something, whereas in fact we have no proof that the measure has teeth in it; and it may fail. The Minister said in the course of his remarks that he hoped the legislation would succeed. I presume that that was a sincere hope. The fact of the matter is that he has no guarantee that the Bill will carry out the function for which it is intended.
– The amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not help.
– The amendments brought in by the Minister prove that he has had a change of mind, even in the last couple of hours, because after considering this matter for months, why would he not know what is in the Bill and why would he not ensure that it was brought in in a state in which it could be debated without amendments to the Bill before * it* had passed the second reading stage.
– I will tell the honorable member.
– That will be enlightening. I would like the Minister to explain more fully the matters that I have mentioned tonight. I have raised these matters so that the House will know that the Minister and the Government have much to hide in respect of television stations. It would be the best thing for this country if the amendment moved by the Opposition were carried and a full and complete inquiry were conducted.
It is unfortunate but true that television in Australia is now under the control of newspaper and monopoly interests, the friends of this Government who bitterly oppose every suggestion from this side of the chamber and from the people whom we represent. This medium is controlled by the people who have received knighthoods, favours and honours from the Government. These are the people who sit as directors on the boards of the television companies. It is true also that overseas talent on television is preferred to our own people. Australians are not privileged to build up an industry and to participate in programmes in which they should be earning incomes as script writers and in the other fields of the television industry. I say, Mr. Speaker, that undoubtedly this Government should survive because its friends give it all the benefits possible at election time. They give it all the broadcasting and television time they possibly can, free of charge, in return for the benefits that have been given to them.
I submit that the amendment should be carried. I hope Parliament will see fit to appoint a select committee because irrespective of what honorable members opposite might do they can be assured that a Labour government will clean up television licences immediately it is elected. It will see that the people of Australia have high grade programmes and proper control of this propaganda medium and ensure that its control does not remain vested in the monopoly interests that stand behind this Government.
– Mr. Speaker, the House has once again listened to the modern Billy Bunter, a friend of Veritas, I believe, who accorded him top rating as the best performer on television. When the factual information presented to the House by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme), in connection with this Bill is dealt with in such a cursory fashion by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) it is little wonder that the Labour Party is making such poor progress in the politics of this country. His references to all of the ambits of television bore little relationship to the real purpose of this legislation. I am certainly not going to weary honorable members at this hour in order to enlighten him. If he is so far behind in gaining a clear knowledge of the actions of the Government on this occasion it is a pity the honorable member would not go to sleep and stay that way.
He has made scurrilous attacks not only upon the Government but upon people in all sorts of responsible positions. He referred to the legal fraternity in a most unseemly fashion. Not so very long ago he referred to television as a medium which the Labour Party would include in its policy of nationalisation along with radio. Of course, in this way he disposes very easily of this matter of what it has cost for hearings to determine applications for licences and so on. Certainly this would be much cheaper under Labour because there would be only one television system in this country.
If honorable members look around the world they will realise just what has been done in the field of television by this Government and will appreciate that there is something of worth in the Bill with which we are dealing tonight. If we compare what has happened in the United Kingdom as a typical example, with what has been achieved in Australia, we will realise what the Government has done. The Labour Party should be ashamed of itself for the criticism which the Opposition has levelled here tonight.
The charge has been made by the honorable member for Grayndler that a disproportionate amount of time was given to the Government candidates during election campaign both by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and by the commercial stations. But if honorable members study the figures quoted by the honorable member for Grayndler they will find that the charge is ludicrous for the simple reason that he referred to a number of political parties as against one political party. Of course, supporters of the Country Party could quite well make a comment about a particular election in the State of Tasmania. I do not propose to do that tonight. However, I do want to say to the honorable member for Grayndler that his allegations are baseless; that he was not able to produce one iota of real evidence to substantiate the claims which he made.
This measure is designed to do these things which this composite government - the Liberal-Country Party Government - believes should be done in the interests of television in Australia. On behalf of the Country Party I want to say that we stand four square behind the legislation we are dealing with in this dying hour of this sitting. We stand behind it for very simple reasons. We believe that there should not be a monopoly in the control of television. The actions of the Minister and his predecessor in looking to these particular requirements as a policy principle have been exemplary, I think, and the charges made tonight clrtainly cannot be substantiated.
There have been a lot of airy-fairy references made tonight to a certain gentleman called Mr. Ansett. This is a typical example of the ludicrous approach of the Labour Party because Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. is a great public company. It is a company which has done a great deal to develop not only the airways of this country but, in more recent times, television. How absolutely ridiculous it is to level the sort of criticism we have heard tonight without any substantiation whatsoever. If the honorable member for Grayndler and his Deputy Leader were to heed something that happened not so long ago in the State of New South Wales in regard to air services, they might think a little more of the opinion of the people, expressed through the ballot box, rather than utter the unjustified criticism which we continue to hear. Of course, there are many facets of television which must come under scrutiny when legislation of this kind is under consideration. There is no need for me to reiterate what has been said so ably by honorable members on the Government side of the House.
I want to conclude by saying quite definitely and conclusively that the Country Party supports the measure. There is not one atom of evidence to suggest that any other course of action could have been taken to reach the objective which this legislation is able to encompass at this point of time in the progressive development of television in Australia. It is legislation which will stand the test in the immediate future. I am sure that the Minister will make no apology if he has to come into this House with further amendments to this legislation. He has said that he hopes that this Bill will do the job. He said there had been a great deal of criticism because earlier legislation was not able to effectively meet this problem. How ludicrous it is when the Opposition says that the Government has failed. The Government has shown that it is prepared to stand on principles, and to meet the situation as it developed. It is for those reasons that Parliament is dealing with the legislation now. I believe it is sound legislation and worthy of recognition by this Parliament. I wholeheartedly support the Bill.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate -
Without requests -
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1964-65.
Supply Bill (No. I) 1965-66.
Without amendment -
Appropriation (Special Expenditure) Bill (No. 2) 1964-65.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1965-66.
International Monetary Agreements Bill 1965.
Northern Territory Legislative CouncilCommonwealth Police Force.
Motion (by Mr. Hulme) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to enter a protest at the shabby treatment meted out by this Government to the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. It was this type of treatment which recently caused eight elected members and one non-official member to walk out of the Council in disgust at the response of this Government to requests that had been made repeatedly over a long period of years. These requests have been coming from the Council for some time now, and, to put honorable members in the picture, I mention that as long ago as 1958 a delegation from the Legislative Council came here and waited on representatives of the Government to discuss certain grievances.
In 1959, the Government brought down amending legislation which altered the structure of the Legislative Council somewhat, but it still made sure at that particular time that it retained vital control over the Council and its functions. The difference made by the amendments was not so very great. By them, a new class of member was introduced to the Council. These were called non-official members and they were appointed from outside the circles of the Commonwealth Government. It was resolved at the meeting of members of the Legislative Council and representatives of the Government, to which I have referred, that the functions and affairs of the Council would be reviewed every five years and that reforms would be instituted as the need for them became apparent. It was in consequence of that decision that, in 1963, the Legislative Council appointed a select committee consisting of elected members and one non-official member. This committee submitted a report recommending certain things to the Government for its consideration. At that time, the Council had the support in its objectives of all the members, both elected and non-official of the Legislative Council. On that occasion, the Crown Law Officer, a nominated member and a leading member of the Legislative Council, said -
My position 1 make quite plain and clear. I have sympathy with the proposal, but I think that time must be taken to prepare a proper case and 1 think in my personal opinion that time should be taken by the select committee.
Time was taken, and the Crown Law Officer was supported in the debate by other nominated members. As a result of that report, the Select Committee was invited again to Canberra to discuss the Legislative Council’s affairs with the Government. After a lapse of some 18 months or 2 years, the present Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) sent his reply to the Council’s request. A whole series of requests had been made, but all that the Government had to offer the members of the Council was an undertaking that they would be permitted to elect their own President. This added nothing at all to the powers or functions of the Council, because, by virtue of the Government’s majority control of that body, the President would automatically be a Government nominee.
Is it any wonder that, after waiting for 18 months on this occasion and for years on other occasions, a number of members of the Council walked out again in disgust at the treatment that had been meted out to the Council? This is not the first occasion on which members have walked out. It is a fact that every request for enlargement of the Council’s powers or functions has virtually been completely ignored by the Government. Members of the Council are forced to walk out or to take similar action in order to direct attention to their plight and to demonstrate the seriousness with which they regard the slight inflicted on them. On this occasion, eight elected members and one non-official member have walked out. I know that in the past it has been the Government’s wont to say that this sort of action is taken only by irresponsible members. But that cannot be said this time, because the non-official member who has walked out, and who, of course, was a Government appointee, is highly respected in the community. He was a grazier in the Northern Territory and had reared a family there, and he is highly respected by all. Evidently, the Government considered him to be a very responsible member of the community. Indeed, if I were looking for a person to appoint to a body like the Legislative Council, I would agree that he would be the right person for appointment. On this occasion, he has become so disgusted with the Government’s inaction and unfulfilled promises, and its lack of support for the Council, as to be impelled to walk out with the elected members.
The Government, of course, has not taken kindly to this action. This nonofficial member of the Council was told by the Assistant Administrator that, as a result of refraining from participating in the affairs of the Council, the only course of action left open to him was to hand in his resignation. This is typical of the sort of thing that we expect from a government like this, which is drugged with the power that it has been given. All this has occurred despite what was said in 1959 by the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), who was then Minister for Territories, in answer to a question by Dr. Evatt when the position of non-official members was mentioned in the debate on a bill. This passage appears in “ Hansard “-
Dr. Evatt. Do they hold office?
– Yes, for three years.
Dr. Evatt Can they be removed7
– Yes, they can be removed. They can also resign. . . . Nevertheless it has not entered the mind of the Government, nor do I think it would be in the mind of any government, to exercise the sanction of removal against them.
Yet I venture to state that the non-official member at present involved will soon find himself without a position in the Legislative Council, lt will be interesting to see whether the Government lives up to its undertaking, given on 1st April, that the eight elected members who have walked out will be allowed to act freely and without pressure. I do not think that the Government’s actions will live up to that undertaking. The fact remains that we want some sort of meeting between the Minister for Territories and members of the Legislative Council. We want to find some satisfactory basis for the continuance of the Council. We want a basis of democracy in the Northern Territory - something that we have never had before. We want to do away with this system of government control at all levels. We believe it is time the people of the Territory had a majority voice in the affairs of their Legislative Council. The members of that body are responsible persons from all sections of the community.
This Government’s attitude towards the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory represents a strange contrast to its attitude towards the House of Assembly for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.- International pressures and the weight of criticism voiced in the United Nations, especially by representatives of Asian countries, have forced the Government to do something about the indigenous people in New Guinea. Nothing similar has happened in the Northern Territory. We who live there feel that our demands for reform of the Legislative Council have been completely neglected. I ask the Minister to get together with members of the Council and hammer out some sort of basis for democratic government in the Northern Territory so that the people of the Territory can get on with the job of developing the north, satisfied to share in the shaping of their own destiny.
.Mr. Speaker, I regret that I have to address the House at such a late hour of the night. The matter that I wish to raise, however, is, I believe, one of considerable urgency.
Furthermore, the choice of the hour is not that of the Opposition or myself, but clearly of the Government. This evening, I was visited within the precincts of this building by a man who was on crutches. He appeared to have a very seriously injured right leg and he showed all the signs of having been very roughly dealt with. His name is Neil Handley. He told me that he lives at 74 Schlich Street, Yarralumla. He informed me that last evening, at about 7.30, he was at home in the presence of his wife, who, he told me, is eight months pregnant, and his seven children, ranging from 2 to 13 years. He said that he was sitting in the lounge waiting to see a television programme when there was a ring at the door and two men came in, stating that they were plain clothes officers. They told him that they had a warrant to search his house for a tape recorder that was to be an exhibit in evidence in a matter relating to “the Postmaster-General’s Act”. This man told me that he saw the warrant and asked the men into the lounge. He then produced a small Japanese transistor tape recorder and played on the tape a few words of a particular conversation, telling the officers that the balance had been erased.
At that stage, he told them that he would like to communicate with a legal adviser and said that he wanted a little time to do this. He informed me that the senior officer concerned then said that he had power to take the tape recorder by force. Mr. Handley told me that the senior officer then began to twist his arm and that his wife intervened and explained that Dr. Horniblow, a local doctor, had diagnosed high blood pressure and advised that her husband should take things easily. This, he told me, was ignored. He said the officer took hold of his wife by the wrists while the other officer, after some argument, proceeded to telephone somebody whom he claimed to be his senior officer. After a conversation on the telephone with the senior officer, the man who had made the call proceeded to try to take the tape recorder by force. My informant told me: “After he had done so and the other officer took it out, he held me round the neck with his arm and kicked my right leg from under me, when I came crashing to the floor. My wife and children were hysterical. Then he left me lying on the floor. I could not stand up. I crawled to the door to see them take off in a car”. He said that his next door neighbours and the A.C.T. Police then arrived. He had no idea why the neighbours had come or why the A.C.T. Police had arrived. He has no idea what action they took.
He also told me this evening that a woman who is 72 years of age told him that men arrived at her house this evening and searched it. He said that she was the mother of a boy who worked at Space Track Pty. Ltd. She told him that the men had torn her place to pieces in the course of their search. This looks to me like a pretty desperate situation and as though security matters could well be involved. I have made some inquiries since I received this information and I have found that the man who conveyed the information to me works at a place near Canberra - Space Track Pty. Ltd. 1 also found a recent newspaper cutting relating to this place which stated -
The transmitter is capable of sending an intense, though extremely narrow, beam of radio energy into deep space.
Tidbinbilla’s acting director, Mr. G. Pugh, of the Department of Supply, said yesterday that the degree of radio hazard was extremely small.
He said any radiation would be restricted to the immediate area of the antenna, and there were built-in safeguards for the staff. “ The beam would have to be pointed straight at you to be hazardous “, Mr. Pugh said.
The question would only arise when Tidbinbilla sent a command signal to a space vehicle, and it would then be very brief.
This indicates that at this station there may be matters of classified security importance. The circumstances also suggest that a prolonged industrial dispute has been proceeding at this place of employment. I understand that industrial conditions in and around Canberra are far from normal, that workers engaged in these occupations believe they are in a very weak position, and that often security considerations are used in order to interfere with their legitimate industrial activities.
– There are no security considerations.
– In that case it is purely an industrial dispute. If the Minister is prepared to admit that, I will ask him to explain why this man had a visit from the Commonwealth Police - if they were Commonwealth Police - last night in these circumstances.
– The Attorney-General will tell the honorable member.
– I should have felt that this kind of visit was justified if security reasons were involved. However, if the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) is prepared to tell me at this stage that no security reasons were involved then I would say that this indicates that the visit last night was totally unjustified because it was made in the course of an industrial dispute. Anyhow, the Minister can answer this later. The facts are that an industrial dispute has been taking place at this address. A Press article on 18th January 1965 is headed “Station Unionist Dispute”. On 4th February the Sydney “ Sun “ reported that sheet metalworkers had been granted a wage of £47 a week. The report stated -
An award for sheet metalworkers at the U.S. tracking station project near Canberra will yield an overall wage, including allowances, of £47 a week. This sum is a record for tradesmen.
It appears that there had been a dispute going on in respect of sheet metalworkers and that they had achieved an award which, for them, was quite satisfactory, but it looks to me as though electrical trade employees at this place still remained unsatisfied. The satisfactory award for sheet metalworkers did not improve the attitude of electrical trade employees to their employment. At any rate, in respect of this industrial dispute, a newspaper article of 24th February 1965 was headed “ Power cut threat called ‘ sabotage ‘ “.
– Oh rot.
– Order! The honorable member for La Trobe will restrain himself.
– I should like the Minister for Supply to repeat his previous statement that no security considerations arc involved, because on 24th February 1965 the manager of Space Track Pty. Ltd., Mr. Galbraith, was reported as making a statement before an industrial commissioner in Canberra that a power cut was interpreted as sabotage. On that date the Electrical Trades Union denied any sabotage. I should like some information. First, I should like to know whether this is an industrial dispute or whether matters of security are involved. Secondly, I should like to know whether the men who visited Mr. Handley were members of the Commonwealth
Police. Thirdly, I should like to know, if they were members of the Commonwealth Police, whether they used an amount of force reasonably necessary in the execution of their duty or whether they exceeded that force. Fourthly, I should like to know, if they were members of the Commonwealth Police, what was the legal basis for their action. Finally, I should like to know whether any charges are to be made against Mr. Handley or any other person in connection with this matter.
– The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has raised this issue in a most extraordinary way. First he put to the House a pathetic story of a man who had suffered all sorts of injuries. He then went on to give an eye witness account of the evidence. He added: “ Furthermore, this man told me of a woman who had told him who had told someone else “. This brings the matter into some sort of perspective. The honorable gentleman then suggested - just to have two bob each way - that there must be an issue of security. By way of interjection my colleague, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) said: “ There is no security issue . “ So, to have three bob each way, the honorable member then said: “It must be an industrial matter.” The point is this: He raises an issue and then he retreats from it - a constant retreat.
He asked some questions. I made a note of them and I think they should be answered. He asked: Is this an industrial matter or is it a security matter? It is neither. What is involved here is a suspicion of a breach of Comonwealth criminal law. Two men did go last night to a house in Canberra. Those two men were members of the Comonwealth Police Force. They went to that house in pursuance of their duties as police officers investigating what they suspected to be a serious breach of Commonwealth law. They went there for the purpose of carrying out their investigations. At the time they went there they carried with them a search warrant. Having gone to the house and having commenced their investigations they then sought a piece of evidence which they wished to take away with them to use in their investigations. It was not offered to them freely. They then sought and obtained instructions from the Commissioner of Police to execute their duty; they produced the search warrant and they took away the piece of evidence. The piece of evidence is now being appreciated for the purposes of laying charges of a criminal nature.
Dr.J. F. Cairns.- Did they use any force?
– I have asked the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Police Force for a report from the police officers on whether they used force. The report that I have is that they did not use force, except for one of the officers physically restraining the particular person while the other Officer picked up the piece of evidence. The piece of evidence was a tape recording.
I do not want to say anything further in relation to the nature of the evidence until the investigations are completed. Depending on the result of the investigations, a charge or more than one charge may or may not be laid against one or more persons. The report that I have from the Commonwealth Police is completely contrary to what the honorable member for Yarra has put before the House tonight.
– In respect of what? The Attorney-General has admitted everything up to date. How is it contrary?
– It is completely contrary
– In what respect?
– In the respect that the honorable gentleman says that unreasonable force was used or that any force was used. No force was used. There was a physical restraining of one person. The honorable member then says: “ It must be security and that is wrong.” Then he says: “ It must be industrial and that is wrong.” The honorable gentleman finds it constantly in his mind that there must be suspicion about somebody or something. Anything that is for the preservation of the established law and order of this country is anathema to the honorable member for Yarra.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.42 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information - 1 and 2. The range of repatriation benefits available under act of grace arrangements to Salvation Army Red Shield personnel, among others, in respect of 1939-45 and Korean service is for all practical purposes the same as that available under the Repatriation Act in respect of those operations. It includes, for example, war and service pension, medical treatment for eligible persons and the normal range of other benefits and allowances. The benefits available to dependants of act of grace beneficiaries are also similar to those available to dependants of members of the Forces under the Repatriation Act. No provision was made under the act of grace schemes in respect of service in the 1914-18 war.
Native Members of the Forces: Repatriation Benefits. (Question No. 918.)
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -
e asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -
Separate statistics of appeals lodged by widows with War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals are not maintained in the Department; hence the information sought could not be obtained without extensive and detailed examination of departmental records extending over the past decade.
However, to assist the honorable member an examination has been made of appeals registers for the period 1963-64. These provide limited information in summary form. Details extracted from the registers of appeals in respect of death claims lodged with Entitlement Appeal Tribunals during 1963-64 are as follows -
Some of these appeals could have been lodged by persons other than widows.
son asked the Acting Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The exception is that New Zealand requires the naturalised Australian citizen to produce evidence of his citizenship to the carrier company and at port of arrival.
Where a visit only is intended, Australia requires the natural-born or naturalised New Zealand citizen of non-European descent to have a passport and prior authority to enter by way of endorsement or a “ letter of authority “ issued by an Australian office following production by the intending visitor of evidence of citizenship.
New Zealand, whilst requiring neither a passport nor prior authority to enter, requires the intending visitor who is a natural-born or naturalised Australian citizen of non-European descent to produce evidence of his citizenship to the carrier company before embarkation and to the boarding authorities on arrival, together with a return ticket with a firm booking for a date within six months of arrival.
i asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. The number of homes built or financed by the War Service Homes Division during each of the five years ended 31st December 1964 were as follows -
The reason for the evictions was the failure by the applicants concerned to make payments in accordance with the terms of the security documents completed by them.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What would be the estimated annual cost of each proposal in the Returned Servicemen’s League Pension Plan for 1965?
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -
The proposals of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, with in each case, the estimated annual cost, are as follows -
The League has also asked that “all returned servicemen of the First World War and prior wars be granted free repatriation hospital and medical benefits “. In view of the many factors involved, including the need to provide additional accommodation and facilities at repatriation medical institutions, it is difficult to make precise estimates of cost in this area. On the best available information, the cost of the proposal, including both initial capital and annual recurring expenditure could range up to about £5,000,000.
rns asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1, 2 and 3. No statistical details have been maintained which would enable this information to be furnished.
m asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1, 2 and 3. State legislation makes provision for municipal and water rates to become a charge on the land in respect of which they are assessed. The charge so created commences on whatever date is fixed by the relevant State statute and, as a rule, this is either the first day of the rating year or the date on which the rate is levied.
Section 26 of the War Service Homes Act 1918- 1962, provides that no advance shall be made on any property which is encumbered by any previous mortgage or charge, other than a mortgage or charge under the Act, unless the advance is applied for the purpose of discharging the previous mortgage or charge.
In view of this legal position it has always been necessary for the War Service Homes Division not to make any advance available (whether it is an initial or an additional advance) whilst a prior charge or encumbrance in favour of a third party remains on the property.
All branches of the Division were reminded of the legal position and the necessity to observe the requirements of the legislation on 2nd April 1962.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What is the number of recipients in each State of war pensions for chronic bronchitis resulting from gas infection in the first World War?
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -
Statistics showing acceptances for chronic bronchitis resulting from gas infection are not maintained by my Department and I therefore regret it is not practicable to supply the information sought by the honorable member.
son asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
There has been no change in the War Service Homes Division’s policy relating to the granting of loans for the purchase of one-bedroom flats and home units. Every application for a war service homes loan is considered on its merits having regard to the provisions of the Act which require that the home in respect of which the application is made, will provide a satisfactory security and that (having regard to the locality in which it is erected) the risk is a reasonable one for the Director of War Service Homes to undertake.
The Division, in common with most other major lending institutions, does not provide finance for the purchase of a one bedroom dwelling-house whether the home is a detached house, a flat or a strata title home unit, unless it is satisfied that the property provides adequate security and that, in the event of default under the security document, the property would realise sufficient on resale to discharge the liability to the Division.
s asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
When was consideration last given to making the proclamation under section 128 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that the principal registry shall be situated at the seat of government?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows - f am aware of the provision to which the honorable member refers but I am unable to say when the matter was last formally considered. A proclamation under section 128 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is not appropriate at this date.
Car Hire Services at Airports. (Question No. 1062.)
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The answer to this question will be voluminous and its compilation is involving the Electoral Branch in a considerable amount of work. As soon as all the information is to hand, I shall arrange for it to be available for perusal at the office of the Chief Electoral Officer.
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The answer to this question will be a lengthy one and its compilation is involving the Electoral Branch in a considerable amount of work. As soon as all the information is to hand, I shall make it available to the honorable member.
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Means Test. (Question No. 1066.)
b asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice -
As single pensioners in receipt of superannuation payments of £4 7s. 6d. per week have their pensions reduced by 17s. 6d. a week, will he give consideration to raising the amount of the allowable income?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The question of any variation in the means test on social service pensions is a matter of Government policy.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. Criteria for allocation of office space for Government departments have been adopted by the Public Service Board after discussion with the Treasury, Department of the Interior and other departments concerned. These criteria, which are used as a guide for requisitioning and allocating available office space, have regard to such factors as the administrative status of officers and the nature of the duties to be performed by them.
Departments’ stated requirements of space are examined by the Public Service Board in all cases before available space, whether in Commonwealth buildings or leased accommodation, is allocated by the Department of the Interior. In addition to space for occupation by officers, appropriate areas are, of course, allowed for unstaffed areas, such as public reception areas, amenities, conference rooms, storage space, &c.
It will be appreciated that, as a result, the criteria applied as between departments are by no means standard. Individual departments adopt similar criteria as a guide when partitioning space allocated to them.
Buildings in which Office Space is Occupied by Commonwealth Public Servants as at 1st April 1965. (Excluding premises occupied for Post Office purposes.)
Commonwealth-owned Premises -
Administrative Building, Parkes.
Barton Offices, Units 1 to 5.
Russell Offices, Units 1 to 5.
Civic Offices - Interior.
Former Government Printing Office.
New Government Printing Office.
Tariff Board Building.
Melbourne Buildings, Civic Centre.
Jolimont Buildings, Civic Centre.
Law Courts, Civic Centre.
Childers Street, Turner, Buildings.
Casey House, Acton.
Australian War Memorial.
Leased Premises -
Sydney Buildings, Civic Centre - Blocks 3 and 16, Section 48. 43-45 JardineStreet, Kingston.
Newcastle Buildings, Bunda Street, Civic Centre.
Notaras Chambers, Jardine Street, Kingston.
Block 20, Section 21, Green Square, Kingston.
Block 25, Section 78, Barker Street, Griffith.
Block 26, Section 78, Barker Street, Griffith.
Block 1, Section 45 (Goodwin Building), O’Connor.
Block 4, Section 45, O’Connor. 25 Bentham Street, Yarralumla.
Ainslie Building, Ainslie Avenue, City
M.B.F. Building, City. 55 Northbourne Avenue, City.
C.M.L. Building, City.
Red Cross House, City.
Industry House, Barton.
Block 19, Section 35, Garema Place, City.
Block 20, Section 35, Garema Place, City. 31 Jardine Street, Kingston.
Block 11, Section 28, Narrabundah Shopping Centre. 48 Mort Street, Braddon. 40 Mort Street, Braddon. 37 Jardine Street, Kingston.
Royal Globe Insurance Building, City. 41 Jardine Street, Kingston.
Block 21, Section 21, Jardine Street, Kingston.
Block 4, Section 48, Sydney Buildings, City.
Upstairs, Cusacks Arcade, Kingston.
Derwent House, Hobart Place, City.
Land Trust Building, Bailey Arcade, City.
A.M.P. Building, Hobart Place, City.
M.L.C. Building, London Circuit, City.
Petrie House, City.
Block 22, Section 48, Sydney Buildings, City.
Reserve Bank Building, Civic Centre.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 May 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650520_reps_25_hor46/>.