25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. KELLY presented a petition from certain wool growers in Australia praying that (1) the Australian Wool Board be restrained from expending large portions of its funds in putting the case for a reserve price scheme and (2) the Parliament do not pass any legislation designed to enable a referendum of growers to be held on the adoption of a reserve price marketing scheme until an independent and impartial committee of inquiry has investigated and reported upon the proposal.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, relates to discussions that are taking place on King Island between Commonwealth and State officers and soldier settlers concerning adjustments to the financial commitments of the settlers over the past eight years and the sums that they may be expected to pay this financial year, taking into account the expected productivity of individual farms. I ask: Is the Minister now in a position to inform the House of the number of settlers whose accounts have been finalised? Can he give us any information about commitments that have to be met for rent and repayments and about the overall financial position of settlers and their commitments to the Government?
– Two forms of concessions have been decided on. The accounts of settlers on permanent lease have been reviewed for the period from 1957-58 to 1964-65 inclusive. Where productivity did not reach 12,000 lb. of butter fat for a dairyman or 1,180 fat lamb ewe equivalents for a man running sheep, concessions were made by setting off an allowance for the deficiency against the debits due by the settlers. In addition, because of the heavy depreciation of machinery and equipment on King Island, it was decided to grant to all settlers under the scheme and on permanent lease £800 of credit against their debits. As a result of these measures, 27 of the 81 settlers on permanent lease now have no arrears at all. The individual credits granted under these two forms of concession have ranged from £800 to £2.609. Some of the remaining 54 settlers will have very small arrears and these should be easily cleared.
I may say also that the standard of productivity of holdings on King Island, Flinders Island and Kangaroo Island is higher than that in any other soldier settlement scheme elsewhere. We have given those settlers a higher level of productivity, so they are in- a position comparable with soldier settlers in other States after allowing for island conditions. The settlers who have not reached the permanent rental stage pay much lower charges, the charges being assessed according to the productivity of the property concerned. The statement that has appeared in the Press, to the effect that settlers are put on a £1,300 salary basis and work under control, is entirely misleading. The settlers are allowed a sum of £1,300 for living expenses when rents and other charges are being calculated. The first priority goes to operational costs, and the living allowance comes next. ]f, after paying all charges on their properties, settlers have further moneys available from income, they will be expected to negotiate with the credit authorities as to its use in reducing arrears or for personal use. At a meeting the other night someone said: “ Do not pay the Government a zack. Do not pay anything “. That is the attitude adopted by some of the settlers. They have evaded any payments. Therefore, in consultation with the Tasmanian Government, I have agreed that there should be stricter supervision and that when a settler can do something to meet rightful charges he should do so. That is the control we are and will be exercising.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy and concerns “ Tresco “, the official residence on the Sydney Harbour foreshore of the Flag Officer, Eastern Command, Royal Australian Navy. Is it a fact that people described as developers are seeking to purchase this property with a view to demolishing it and replacing it with a large block of flats? Has the National Trust approached the Minister and expressed strong interest in the preservation of this property? Can the Minister give an assurance that there will be an opportunity for representations to be made in favour of the preservation of “ Tresco “ before the Government enters into any agreement to dispose of this unique piece of public property?
– It is true that a land development company has made an offer to the Department of the Navy to purchase “Tresco”, with the idea, I believe, of putting up multi-storied flats. I might say that it is only an offer, and the matter starts and finishes at that stage. The National Trust has shown an interest in “Tresco” and has, I think, placed it in category B, which, from memory, means that it is of historical or architectural value and should be preserved for future generations. As to the part of the honorable member’s question relating to representations. I would be only too pleased to receive such representations from him, from any other honorable member or from any organisation. If I might express a personal opinion, I would say that I know “ Tresco “ very well and I think one can well understand the interest of the National Trust in it.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Was the statement on drought relief that he made on Tuesday last intended to convey to the Parliament and the country that the Premier of New South Wales was satisfied with the Commonwealth Government’s drought relief proposals, as outlined in the statement of 26th August and amplified on 12th October? If so, what explanation can the Prime Minister offer of the statement made yesterday by the Premier of New South Wales, to the effect that the Commonwealth Government’s proposals were inadequate for drought relief measures, that the access to treasury bill finance offered by the Prime Minister would be of little use and that the State needed either straight out grants or long term loans at low rates of interest?
– I am very glad that my honorable friend has raised this matter, because, if the Premier of New
South Wales is accurately reported, I think he is under some misapprehension about what I have said. My reference in my last statement to treasury bills was a reference to what is a common practice year by year. The States have a perfect right to discount treasury bills - what are called lag bills - in order to relieve themselves on the cash front when cash coming in is short. This has been a long established practice; there is no novelty about it. I mentioned it in my statement to show that the States would not have a cash problem because of this very fact that they could discount treasury bills. I then went on to point out that I had been in communication with the Premiers of the two States. It is quite true, I think, that both would have liked us to deal directly with the victims of drought. This has never been the practice. The Commonwealth does not deal directly on these matters. It never has.
– If you don’t mind. The Commonwealth deals with the States.
– Don’t you want any help?
– Not from you. God forbid! The Commonwealth deals with the States. We make grants under section 96. We sometimes attach conditions, but honorable members are-
– Why not make a grant?
– May I be allowed to continue?
– Order! The honorable member for Bendigo will cease interjecting.
– I want this to be understood by all those in the House who have the capacity to understand it.
– You are not talking to yourself.
– No, I never talk to myself. I leave that to you. You are the only willing audience you ever have. I will just go back and say that again - not my last remark, but the point I was making. It is not the normal practice for us to deal directly on these matters. We did say to the State Governments concerned that we would be very willing to help them with general assistance grants when their position was clarified and when it was known by them, and therefore by us, to what extent they had involved themselves in deficit on account of drought relief conducted by them. I do not think anybody would maintain that both Governments have not been quite active in this field. I made a reference to the view of the Premier of New South Wales. He wrote me a letter. He was, of course, disappointed that we could not join directly with the State in the provision of assistance. I have already said this to the House. He went on to say -
These are his words -
In this regard it has been necessary to make substantial provisions in the State’s Budget which will be introduced into the New South Wales Parliament shortly to meet costs associated with the various measures adopted foi drought relief purposes and such provisions have had the direct result of forcing me to Budget for quite a substantial deficit. When this is coupled with the deficit of approximately £2i million which was incurred last year and which was also, in part, the result of drought relief measures, you will appreciate my concern at the ability of the State to provide for a continuance of such measures for any extensive period. Moreover it is already clear that the finances of the Department of Railways will be considerably affected . . .
In these circumstances, your willingness to consider a general purpose assistance grant to the State is very much appreciated. The position will become clearer as the year progresses and I shall write to you again when the situation warrants it.
In all these circumstances, I can conclude only that, when reading some report of what I said, the Premier fell into error in interpreting what I had put to the House.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that an agreement has been reached between airline pilots and airline operators to regulate industrial relations procedures? Does the Minister expect that this will lead to better industrial relations? Does the agreement in any way conflict with the arbitration system?
– As to the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots is not a registered organisation under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Consequently, if there is an industrial dispute or if an industrial problem arises it is not possible to have recourse to the provisions of the Act in order to settle the matter. Because there have been strikes and numerous threats of strikes by the airline pilots, my Department has been closely co-operating with management - that is, with Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., Ansett-A.N.A. and its subsidiaries, Trans-Australian Airlines and East-West Airlines Ltd. and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots - in order to get agreement as to the procedures to be followed when there might be an industrial dispute or a problem that could easily lead to an industrial dispute. I am very glad to be able to say that in recent weeks an agreement has been signed by all the parties setting out procedures that will be followed in order to settle problems before strike action can ever be contemplated. One clause of the agreement provides that in future there will be no strike or threat of a strike while the procedures are being followed. I believe that this agreement is an historic breakthrough, and I certainly hope that it will lead to a reduction of tension and to better industrial relations between the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and Management.
– I, too, am a little inquisitive about the Government’s policy on drought relief. I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Lalor. Does the Prime Minister recall that in the serious droughts of 1944 and 1947 the then Labour Government granted drought relief on a £1 for £1 basis? What constitutional or financial changes have occurred since then that would make similar grants on the same basis by the Federal Government impossible in the case of the present drought? Further, does the Prime Minister recall that his Government maintained its present attitude towards flood mitigation work in New South Wales in 1962 but managed to discover a broader interpretation of Commonwealth responsibility on the eve of the 1963 election?
– And the Blowering Dam.
– And the Blowering Dam, also. I ask, finally: Will the Prime Minister assure the farmers in drought stricken areas that they will not have to wait until the eve of the next election before the Government recognises its responsibilities to them in this matter?
– The question, if it is a question, is full of the most offensive suggestions and it really does not deserve an answer. It is full of imputations. I will look at the particular instances referred to by the honorable member. I think he will find that the Labour Government in its approach to national disasters and in making £1 for £1 grants to the States to relieve personal hardship was following the same policy that has been pursued by my Government throughout its existence.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether he has been asked to assist in the Rhodesian dispute, a task which, if he did assume it, would have, I am sure, the goodwill of the House and the country? In any eventuality, will the right honorable gentleman give an assurance that he will use his prestige and influence to see that suggestions of inflicting physical sanctions upon the Rhodesian people are most diligently quietened?
– Discussions are going on internationally on this matter at the moment. They have not reached a point at which I feel able to make a statement to the House.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. If he is invited to Rhodesia and is persuaded to go, will he consult the House before he leaves? Will he give the House and this country an assurance that he will not adopt towards the Prime Minister of Rhodesia the same attitude as he adopted towards Dr. Verwoerd in South Africa a few years ago. which caused Australia a great deal of embarrassment both internationally and at home?
– I repeat my answer to the preceding question.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the statement on drought relief which was made on 26th August 1965. Whilst the Commonwealth indicates every likelihood of providing assistance to the States of New South Wales and Queensland for drought relief, there seems doubt as to the type of expenditure which will qualify for this consideration. Mention has been made of advances by the Commonwealth to pastoralists in necessitous circumstances in the Northern Territory. These advances are to be made through the Primary Producers Board and the maximum amount will be £3,000, repayable over seven years, with interest at the rate of 4i per cent. I ask: Will similar advances made by State banks, such as the Rural Bank of New South Wales and the Agricultural Bank of Queensland, be treated as expenditure which might be recouped by the Commonwealth?
– This seems to introduce a new question of policy on which I would not care to say something this morning at question time. But as between the Commonwealth and the States, the States will, of course, be in a position to know what expenditure falls onto their budgets. If the budget strain on the States is beyond what they normally might be expected to carry, then we have made it quite .clear that we will be willing to go along with what we call general assistance grants - in other words, to relieve them of that burden. How far, as between any State and any instrumentality, something falls onto a budget, I do not know off hand. But I will have that aspect of the matter looked at.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister indicate to the House whether the Government has reached a decision in regard to the recent request by Commonwealth Public Servants for four weeks’ annual leave?
– I hope to be in a position to announce some decision on that matter within the next 24 hours.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, relates to the report of the Government members committee on rail standardisation, which was presented to this House about nine years ago, which was substantially adopted by the Government, and which I am thankful to say is in the course of almost entire implementation. I ask: Is it a fact that one small portion of this report, namely the details of the link between Broken Hill and Cockburn, is not finalised? Does this involve two fairly simple questions - the status of the Silverton Tramway Co’s line and the exact route to be followed? Is it a fact that the failure to make a decision in this matter is causing some embarrassment and economic loss? Could the Minister shortly make a statement as to what is the Government’s decision in this important but relatively simple matter?
– The honorable gentleman is correct in so far as he suggests that no final decision has yet been made on the exact route to be followed in the standard gauge line between Broken Hill and Cockburn. A survey has been carried out of an alternative track to that now followed by Silverton Tramway Co’s line. Subject to an evaluation of the relative costs of following this new route or using the existing route, and subject to the determination of some very complex constitutional and legal problems regarding the possible operation of a railway over this route, I expect to be able to make a decision in time for the standard gauge project to be in operation by the target date, which is 1968.
– Will the Minister for Immigration reconsider the action taken by his Department since he became Minister of not giving reasons for rejecting applications for immigration? Is this Government policy or a matter of departmental convenience?
– It is not a matter of Government policy. These decisions are made as a result of departmental consideration. It is not the practice to give reasons for rejection of applications in confidential letters to the applicants or in letters to members of Parliament.
– Because certain matters touching upon health, security and character, may, if disclosed openly, cause embarrassment to the applicants or to their relatives. If any honorable member cares to see me about a particular case I will certainly give any information that is relevant to the case, but only on the understanding that the information is for the clarification of the honorable member’s mind on the matter. Unfortunately in the past when information of this nature has been given there have been abuses of confidence. There is only one course to adopt. If representations are made to a member of Parliament they will receive every consideration. I repeat that if an honorable member sees me about a particular case I will give any information televant to it, but open disclosure of information about these matters could cause embarrassment, which would not be to the advantage of the Department and might lead to difficulties.
– 1 ask the Minister for Territories whether the travelling expenses which he has approved for members of the New Guinea House of Assembly are limited to two visits a year to points in each member’s electorate. Why does the Minister expect members to pay their own expenses in acquainting themselves with conditions in other parts of the country to whose Parliament they belong and even in visiting their own constituents who are under contract to work away from home, often at a distance of hundreds of miles and in other islands? Will the Minister consider giving to members in New Guinea the same right to travel within their own country and to Australia as members of our Parliament have to travel within our country and to New Guinea, so that they will be assisted to know not only their own electorates and Port Moresby but also their whole country and its neighbour?
– Following personal representations to me by members of the Territory Legislative Asesmbly from time to time I am making a complete examination of the matters referred to by the honorable member. I realise that some of the propositions put to me by the members themselves have very considerable merit. The present allowances were fixed in March of last year. Obviously, these investigations take quite a considerable time because, as the honorable member no doubt realises, for one thing there are very great variations in travelling conditions in the electorates.
– Why does not the Minister give them the same rights as we have?
– Order! The honorable member for Wills will cease interjecting.
– Why does not the honorable member keep quiet for a change?
– These investigations have been completed. I hope to make an announcement on these allowances very shortly.
– I ask the Minister for Air a question. In view of the reports that a section of the attacking force of Canberra bombers succeeded in penetrating the defensive screen which included Mirages during the recent combined air exercise over Sydney, has a decision yet been made on what is required for the more effective defence of Australia’s second city? Is it considered that the penetration proves the effectiveness of the Canberra bomber or the inadequacy of our air defence?
– It does appear from the Press reports that the recent exercise over Sydney was remarkably effective because the Canberras were able to get through to defended targets but the main part of Sydney was well defended by the Mirages. That seems to me to show that the Canberra aircraft, in the hands of tenacious, audacious and well trained air crews, can successfully attack well defended targets. I have received very good reports of this excercise. It is the first one in which the United States Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force have worked together. We are very pleased with the way in which the three Air Forces have been able to work together in this exercise. I am sorry if it has caused inconvenience to some citizens of Sydney; but it has been well worth while. I am sure that if the excercise had taken place over Melbourne the citizens of that city would have been very happy to cooperate with the Air Forces concerned. I gather that the citizens of Perth also would have been very happy to do so. Just as we have carried out for the citizens of Sydney exercises for their defence, I hope that we can carry out similar exercises over the other cities in due course.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to the recent announcement that a costly Australian embassy building is to be built in Washington. I ask the Minister whether the design of the building has yet been finalised. If not, will he ensure that Australian architects are given an opportunity to submit proposals? Will he also ensure that the maximum amount of Australian material, furniture and furnishings, such as Australian hand printed wallpapers, are incorporated in the completed building?
– About 18 months ago the Cabinet decided that a firm of Australian architects should be responsible for the design and construction of this building. A panel of names was prepared with the advice of the Commonwealth Department of Works, listing the firms of Australian architects who were considered to have the capacity to do this type of job. After various consultations, a Melbourne firm of architects was selected. At the outset, the principal of that firm had discussions with a committee of the Cabinet in order to learn the views of the Cabinet on the type of building and the specifications that would be required. The Melbourne firm of architects then proceeded to draw up preliminary proposals for the building and submitted them to the Cabinet. The Cabinet approved those preliminary proposals. The firm is now proceeding with the drawing of the final plans and the drawing up of the specifications. It is a job that will be done by Australian architects. In these preliminary proposals, great care was taken to ensure that, as far as possible, a strong Australian motif, Australian art and contributions by Australian artists will be incorporated in the building. The honorable member will realise, of course, that to transport considerable quantities of building material across the Atlantic would add considerably to the cost and, indeed, might not be acceptable to the American building authorities.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Without passing any comment on the rights and wrongs of the Rhodesian situation, will the Minister instruct our delegate to the United Nations to inquire why adverse action should be proposed against Rhodesia for something that has not actually happened yet while no action is being proposed against Indonesia for publicly flouting the United Nations plebiscite provisions in the case of West New Guinea? Is there to be_ one law for the Medes and another for the Persians?
– At the present time, the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations does have under notice matters relating to Rhodesia. A draft resolution is before that Committee. I understand that other groups of members are preparing other draft resolutions. These are being very carefully studied in the Department of External Affairs and by Ministers. The leader of our delegation to the General Assembly, Sir James Plimsoll, is being kept closely informed of the thinking of the Government, and his own comments are being received by the Government. I accept the point which the honorable gentleman has made. Just as you, Sir, would not permit hypothetical questions at question time, it is undesirable that we should attempt to make pronouncements on a situation that has not yet arisen.
– I address my question to the Acting Minister for Health. Is it a fact that some lifesaving pharmaceutical preparations cause side effects to other body functions of sufferers of some diseases? If so, is it reasonable to expect pensioner sufferers to meet the full cost of alternative prescriptions when prescribed by their medical advisers? In view of the exorbitant cost of some of these preparations such as Betnelon tablets in arthritic conditions which, I understand, are priced between £3 to £4 a hundred-
– Order! The honorable member should make no comment.
– Will the Minister examine the effects these changes are having on the living standards of base rate pensioners with the object of requesting the Government at least to share the cost now being met in whole by the pensioners themselves?
– The drugs on the pharmaceutical benefits list are revised regularly by a number of qualified persons who then advise the Minister for Health on those drugs which they feel should be on the free prescription list. Consequently, whereever drugs are shown to have harmful side effects, the drugs are considered and their relative advantages and disadvantages assessed by persons who are professionally qualified to make such assessments. The inclusion of drugs on the free list occurs only on the advice of professionally qualified people. As a result of the placing of drugs on the pharmaceutical benefits list there is no doubt that tremendous savings to all sections of the community have been achieved. This has meant that the cost of these drugs has been minimised to many Australian householders.
– I ask the Prime Minister: In view of the failure of the Premier of New South Wales to take effective drought relief measures, will the right honorable gentleman in his reply to the Premier urge him to take immediate advantage of the Commonwealth Government’s offer to relieve the more urgent cases of hardship and save many thousand head of valuable breeding stock from destruction?
– I do not want to be cast in the role of chiding or advising the Premier of New South Wales who, I do not doubt, is well able, with his colleagues, to look after these problems, but I will take steps to clarify what I have been saying this morning so that he may be under no misapprehension about it.
– Does the Minister for National Development agree that since the introduction of the coal miners pension scheme in New South Wales the number of miners in the industry has been reduced from 23,000 to 12,000 and the production of black coal has doubled? Have any representations been made to him or his Department from the present or previous New South Wales Government to have an excise duty placed on coal production for the purpose of stabilising the coal mine pensioners superannuation fund? Is it true that if an excise of 6d. a ton were placed on coal, say for eight to ten years, the scheme would be buoyant for all time?
– Discussions are occurring at the present moment between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government, and discussions occurred with the previous State Government also, with a view to seeing what action could be taken to put this fund on a more suitable basis. I am not able to inform the honorable member of anything more at the present moment, but I can tell him that we are hoping that it may be possible to put this fund on a better basis than it is on at present.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether it is a fact that very recent forecasts show that the New South Wales wheat crop will be reduced from 150 million bushels to about 22 million bushels this year. If this is so, what carryover is held by the Australian Wheat Board, and what will be the position if the drought continues for another six months? Will the Minister take up with the Board the question of not making any further overseas commitments until the stock owners of the State are protected in respect of drought fodder supplies of wheat?
– The last estimate that I saw, which was submitted by the New South Wales members of the Australian Wheat Board, was that the crop in that State would amount to 55 million bushels, not 22 million bushels. Production last year was more than 1 50 million bushels. It is the practice for the Australian Wheat Board always to sell the total crop, less about 20 million bushels, and finish the wheat year at the end of November with 20 million bushels in hand. That that is a good practice has come well to the fore. As a result, I can say that there will not be a shortage of wheat for stock before the next crop is received at the beginning of December. There will be a continuous supply. The only disability, I think, is that in certain areas silos or storages have been emptied, and it is necessary to transport wheat from one district to another. I do not think it can be said that there will be a shortage of wheat for fodder purposes. An interesting fact that appears from the returns of wheat bought for fodder is that, while last year there was a normal year’s purchase of about 8 million bushels, purchases for fodder purposes alone this year have already passed 21 million bushels.
– Has the
Attorney-General seen complaints which have been sent to honorable members by tobacconists and small shopkeepers that some cigarette manufacturers are encouraging the development of a cigarette price war? Is he aware that this price war is causing great difficulty to these shopkeepers because they cannot maintain a comprehensive stock of various brands and at the same time sell at cost price or less? Will he examine the activities of the cigarette manufacturers, chain stores and large retail groups, to see whether this unfair trade practice can be covered by his projected legislation?
– I have had a number of letters forwarded to me by honorable members of this House, which include letters received by them from various shopkeepers. I am giving consideration to the matters raised in the letters by the shopkeepers and propose to write replies to the honorable members who forwarded them to me.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1965-66. In Committee.
Consideration resumed from 13th October (vide page 1801).
Proposed expenditure, £1,706,000.
– There are some matters under this vote to which I wish to make reference because they affect the position of honorable members on both sides, because they affect the assistance which honorable members get from members of the staffs who assist us in various ways and because the developments that are taking place throughout the world have a bearing on our parliamentary system of government. In the first place, I wish to refer to the “Hansard” staff. Members of the “Hansard “ staff are very devoted, competent and diligent people. Without them the records of this Parliament would certainly not be of the high quality they are and always have been, and without them the speeches of honorable members would not be presented to the public and to posterity in the way they are presented. Yet we find that the members of the “ Hansard “ staff of this Parliament are paid about £300 a year less than the members of the Victorian Hansard “ staff, they are paid about £60 less than the members of the Queensland “ Hansard “ staff and they are paid almost the same as the members of the South Australian “ Hansard “ staff. I do not decry or belittle in any way the importance of the work done by “ Hansard “ staffs in State Parliaments, but there is no more important Parliament than this - no place where greater accuracy is demanded - and there is no Parliament in Australia where such important matters are dealt with as are dealt with in the National Parliament. These gentlemen on our “Hansard” staff - and I do not know why we have never had any women on the “ Hansard “ staff, because there are many competent shorthand writers and typists among the women of the Public Service - made representations to the Speaker and President of this Parliament as far back as 10th April 1964. They are still pursuing their inquiries as to when something will be done, but the Public Service Board has not yet made up its mind. I hope the Government will tell the Board to make its decision very quickly.
– Its decisions take two and a half years in some cases.
– Well, the “Hansard” staff has gone more than one year of the journey. I believe that the office of Parlia mentary Draftsman should be a statutory one. It is a statutory position in New Zealand, but it is not so here. Our draftsmen are underpaid and the traffic that used to be from the State Parliaments or the State Public Services to the Commonwealth Public Service is now in reverse. I understand that the offices of the Commissioner of Taxation and his two assistants are statutory offices and that these officers receive £2,000 a year more than the Parliamentary Draftsman. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) said yesterday that we on the Opposition side of the House have been waiting for 15 years to secure the full time services of a draftsman, and we have had only temporary assistance from time to time.
The third thing to which I wish to refer is the position of women in the Public Service. They are still being treated as second class citizens. They are competent. Some of them have high degrees. But they are paid less than a male counterpart because they happen to be women. I want to cite an opinion written in 1935 by the late John Curtin which was published in a paper called “Labor Digest” in 1945 on the occasion of his death. He wrote -
Women are partners of men and sharers with them in the life of the world. There can be no question of inferiority or superiority where one is the complement .of the other. Therefore, the claim for equality of status between the sexes is derived from the basic oneness of the highest human relationship. To deny it is to deny the fundamental laws of our existence.
I want to say something about the position of honorable members in this Parliament. The tendency is growing - and I think it is irresistible while the present parliamentary system lasts - for the Executive to invade the rights of members of Parliament more and more. Honorable members on both sides feel very frustrated and very disappointed. They feel that there is no adequate way by which they can express their opinions to the Parliament, and through the Parliament to the people, on matters upon which they have been elected to represent an average of at least 40,000 citizens of this country. We on this side of the House think that the committee system should be made to work better than it is being made to work. I have been a member of this Parliament since August 1940. In 1941 the Menzies Government of that time created a system of committees upon one of which every member of the House served. It was possible to do those things in those days because of the National Security Act and the regulations that could be made under it. But today there are very few committees in existence. This Government has wiped out the Broadcasting Committee and the Social Services Committee. These Committees did deal with matters of very great public importance.
Passing from that point for the moment I want to speak about the hours of sitting of the Parliament. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is largely responsible for the present tendency. I am sorry he is not here at the moment and I am sorry he is suffering from ill health, but he will be back soon. The tendency now is for the Leader of the House to push legislation in at the very last minute and have it passed by a process of exhaustion, without adequate regard for the rights of honorable members to examine it, and seemingly without regard as to whether or not he is damaging the parliamentary institution by the way he acts. This session we have had some improvement in the matter. But we want to see all the legislation that the Government proposes to bring in introduced before the last three weeks of the sessional period.
– Why did the honorable member not preach that when he was in office?
– Does the honorable member infer that we had a bad record? I doubt that it was as bad as the record of this Government. There were only 75 members in that Parliament and the honorable member for Mallee, in those days, was serving his apprenticeship. He has had a lot of experience since but he has done nothing to help to secure adequate time for the consideration of measures. The honorable member might say that the next Labour Government might even be worse than the last one, or ten times worse than the present Government; but I could not care less for those opinions. What I am concerned about is that the parliamentary institution should be made to work. It is not being made to work efficiently today. We protest most vigorously when the Government says, late in the afternoon, that the House will sit all night; or acts as it did the week before last when, with no courtesy at all, it said, when we arrived here on the Tuesday, that we would sit on the following Friday. The Government had already sent out telegrams to its own supporters advising them of the changed circumstances but it did not tell the Opposition. We think that this is wrong. If it is necessary for the Parliament to sit an extra day a week occasionally, surely a fortnight’s notice can be given. All honorable members have engagements at the weekend and some come from very distant parts. Not all are Sydneysiders or Melburnians. Members come from as far away as the far north of Queensland or the far north or far south west of Western Australia. They are entitled to adequate notice of sittings. Let us sit, if necessary, for four days a week occasionally provided adequate notice is given, but do not let us be forced to sit here after half past 11 at night, particularly on Thursdays when we sit from 10.30 in the morning.
I think the Government should seriously consider what it should do about these matters. I am not so sure that this parliamentary system as we know it is going to stand. I am not sure that it will not break down of its own weight. The British Parliament with 600 members of course has no committee system at all and it is governed by a handful of people; it is governed by no more than 50 people. I think that if honorable members want the Parliament to be broken up into committees, sooner or later - and I am putting this forward as my own view entirely - we will have to alter the Constitution and abolish the British inherited system of Cabinet responsibility to the Parliament. We will have to go right over to the American system and have an elected President who will have greater powers than the Prime Minister but who will be kept in check as the President of the United States is kept in check under the system of checks and balances inherent in the committee systems that operate in both Houses under the American procedure. I believe that honorable members in such a situation would have more power than they have today. On the Government side, whatever government is in power, members merely act as rubber stamps for what the Government wants. The Opposition is ineffective because the Executive has such tremendous powers and is taking more and more. So if we want to have an informed democracy, in which the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are all truly separate, we must have this American system operating here.
The American Revolution was the greatest revolution of modern times. It was greater than the revolution that got rid of James II. It was a greater revolution in its effects than the revolution of 1789, and the United States has maintained its position ever since that revolution, with a twoparty parliamentary system which I believe is a good system. It has dealt with every crisis that has arisen, even the crisis of a great civil war, and it has emerged successful.
The idea of an Australian appointed Governor-General is a very good one, but Governors-General and Governors, as we know them and in the connotation in which we know them, are disappearing. The new nations of Asia are laughing at us because we have Governors-General. They have presidents, phoney presidents, presidents without any real power, and I would not advocate for this country systems such as operate in those countries, but I would advocate an .alteration of the Constitution some day on the lines I have suggested. Of course we must remain in the Commonwealth; that is indispensable to our existence. We must maintain the monarchy as the only binding force that is left. But if the parliamentary institution is to be made to work serious consideration must be given sooner or later to sweeping amendments of the Australian Constitution.
I hope the Government will meet the wishes expressed by us on the Opposition side of the House for more consideration of our needs and wants and of the needs and wants of individual members. Members are entitled to a secretary-typist each, but when a member’s secretary-typist goes on leave he has no assistance.
– Or when she is sick. - Mr. CALWELL. - Or when she is sick, that is perfectly true. I think every honorable member should have the assistance of a secretary-typist at all times. I was a member of the Cabinet that introduced the practice of providing members with secretary-typists. I was a member of the Government sub-committee responsible for the introduction of the system- The work of the Parliament has increased since and it will continue to increase. Therefore, members of the Parliament, who want to serve their electors and the nation properly, must be treated reasonably in the matter of assistance. It is all very well to say that a senator can get the help of a member of the House of Representatives and that a member of the House can get the help of a senator when a secretary-typist is on leave. But a member of the Parliament who is located away from the central office of his party or the Commonwealth Parliament Offices is at a grave disadvantage.
I am sorry, Sir, that I have not more time to discuss this matter. I offer these views on behalf of the Opposition on these things that affect members of the Parliament and the future of, this place. They are my own views and I take full and absolute responsibility for all of them.
.- Mr. Chairman, during the consideration of the estimates for the Parliament, many honorable members have expressed their concern about the ever increasing responsibilities of this Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has just voiced his concern about the future of our democratic system and the Parliament itself, though what he has predicted for the future may or may not happen. It is important that, above everything else, we preserve our democracy. This, I believe, is perhaps what the honorable gentleman was really getting at. But what is really involved? After all, this Parliament is supreme. This is as it should be. The people of Australia, when they attend the polls, in so doing elect the government, but what they are actually concerned about is the electing for each constituency of a member and for each State of a number of senators, and all these make up the total membership of the Parliament. The members elected are the people’s choice. In this system, we see the working of our democracy.
I agree that the responsibilities of this Parliament are increasing from year to year. This is inevitable, because, as Australia grows as a nation, the responsibilities of the National Parliament must grow with it. At the same time, the National Capital, Canberra, will grow in proportion. I believe it is important that we look at our position not just with an eye to the responsibilities of the Parliament but also from the standpoint that we are representatives of the people who elected us. This brings me to the matter that I want to discuss for a few minutes. A public relations agency is needed to inform the people about what we are doing. After having been a member of this place for a period, I find that public relations are lacking and the people of Australia are not fully informed about our responsibilities to them and the way in which we discharge those responsibilities. As I have said, this Parliament is supreme. It is elected by the people to exercise supreme authority. But we have a responsibility to inform the people about the way in which we exercise our authority in the discharge of our responsibilities.
Every year, the number of visitors to Canberra and to this Parliament increases. More and more people are coming here to see how the Parliament works and to look at Canberra. They come here to see what they are paying for in this city and how their elected representatives go about running the country. But there are many thousands - perhaps millions - of Australians who never have the opportunity to come to this city and see the Parliament in session. They have no opportunity to see Canberra itself and to see what is happening here. They are not able to see exactly what makes the National Capital tick. Here, I refer mainly to the school children of Australia - our future citizens. Many are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to come to Canberra and see it for themselves during school holidays, and even at other times. But many of these visits are made when the Parliament is in recess. I believe that we, as a Parliament, have a duty to do more than we are doing at present to inform the people generally, and especially Australia’s children, what is happening in this Parliament in Canberra and how we discharge our responsibilities.
Public relations represent a very important part of our life today. As I said earlier, the Leader of the Opposition talked about the future of this Parliamant and of democracy in Australia. How can we be sure that we shall preserve democracy in this country if we do not teach the younger citizens just what democracy means, how the Parliament is elected and how it exercises supervision over the various government departments? All these are important factors. Furthermore, we have a large immigration programme. I believe that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) has said that he expects 150,000 migrants to come here this year. All these will be newcomers to Australia. The situaation here will be entirely new to them. I believe that the Parliament has an obligation to give them all the information it can in order to educate them in our system of parliamentary democracy.
I have mentioned the need for a public relations agency, or department, if you like. Perhaps we all are somewhat hesitant at proposing the establishment of a new department, because this means a little more expense. But I regard this as very important to our democracy. Part of the function of such an agency could be the subsequent recalling of important events in the life of this Parliament. One such important event was the recent swearing in of the new Australian born Governor-General in the Senate chamber. Occasions like this and the many functions associated with the life and work of this Parliament could be suitably recorded for history. Who performs this function of recording these events now, if they are recorded, I have not been able to find out. I believe that even if such events are recorded now, they are perhaps not presented in a form suited to observation by future generations.
This Parliament embraces many functions, including those of parliamentary affairs generally, government administration and the presentation of the views held by the Opposition. How many times have honorable members heard on radio or seen on television a quiz session in which supposedly learned people have been called on to answer questions? I have seen school teachers asked questions such as: How many members are there in the Australian House of Representatives? How many members are there in the Australian Senate? It is surprising how often even a school teacher has not been able to answer such questions. How can our children be expected to learn about Australian democracy and the way in which it works if the people teaching them do not understand it and cannot answer questions such as these?
If we had a public relations agency attached to this Parliament - I emphasise the words “ attached to this Parliament “ - information could be fed to the schools so that our children could be properly educated in the practice of Australian democracy. Information provided by the agency would help to educate the people generally in the whole structure of government in this country and how it works. The Australian system is rather complicated, if I may say so, Sir. We have six State Parliaments as well as the Commonwealth Parliament. In one State, the Parliament consists of only one House. In the other States, there are both upper and lower Houses, but the system varies considerably from State to State, particularly in respect of the franchise and electoral basis of the upper Houses. There is great variation in the sizes of the various State Houses. Until recently, the upper House in Western Australia was elected on the basis of 3 members for each of 10 provinces. That system has now been changed and there are 15 provinces each of which returns 2 members. The present system in Australia generally and the changes that are being made all the time are confusing to the average person. I believe that we in the Federal Parliament have a responsibility to the people of Australia and particularly to the children. We must publicise information about the functions of this Parliament.
I should like to conclude with a reference to the possible construction of a new Parliament House in the near future. The present Government is expected to go ahead with the proposal, and I believe that negotiations are under way concerning the design and ideas for incorporation in the new building that is to be the premanent home of this Parliament. I believe that it is necessary that the inclusion of facilities for public relations in the new building be seriously considered at this stage, Sir. As our population increases, more people will visit Parliament House. If we had a department of public relations situated within Parliament House itself, it would be a simple matter to pass visitors through that department, which could then take over the role of telling the people all about the Parliament and how it functions, and about Canberra and the various Government departments. This is a function of the Parliament, and both the Government and the Opposition have equal responsibilities in this field. It is the responsibility not of govern ments but of the Parliament to see that the people of Australia are educated in our form of democracy and system of government.
– In a debate of this nature I find myself drawing on my experience as a former State parliamentarian. To some extent, I share the ideas, if not the ideology, of the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner). We are in a new age, and our approach, in considering the value of Parliament and its functions, must be conditioned by the age in which we live. I am indebted to the “ Canberra Times “ for a remarkable series of articles, published in recent weeks, dealing with the functions of Parliament. I think I could well start my remarks by quoting from the article written by Mr. Frank Green, a former Clerk of this House. He quoted Professor Harold Laski, of the London School of Economics, who, in his book “ Grammar of Politics “, said -
A powerful Executive may so sweep a legislature off its feet that fundamental liberties may become the creature of Executive domination.
That is precisely the situation that we face in this Parliament today. Mr. Green also quoted Professor Crisp, who, in his 1949 publication entitled “ Parliamentary Government in the Australian Commonwealth “, said -
The problem of each generation - each decade, indeed - is to adapt parliamentary procedure so as to maintain its inherent democratic virtues while enabling the Executive to sustain the peace, order and good government of a developing and hence a changing country.
The honorable member for Bradfield, in his inimitable and astringent prose - I am indebted to him because I think he admirably summed up the attitude of the Government today - made these comments in an article published in the “ Canberra Times “ on 28 th September -
The essence of the matter has been distilled by a visiting American academic. “ A characteristic of the country,” he observed, “ is that decisions are made in secret . . . There is no public discussion before a decision is made - only debates after the decision.” He might have added, “If at all.”
The fact is the Ministers have come to regard Parliament as a rubber stamp for decisions reached in the secret recesses of the establishment, in the Departments and in the Cabinet room. A Minister is esteemed within the magic circle of power for his skill in hoodwinking his backbench colleagues in the Party Room and for his astuteness in sidetracking his opponents in the House.
In his article in the “ Canberra Times “ on 30th September, Mr. Green said -
Australia, along with other countries, is in the throes of scientific and technological revolution in which the pattern of living and thinking is changing. Until the turmoil subsides it is difficult to estimate all the implications of the great changes, and to visualise where they are leading. But it is clear that some of our institutions, the product of earlier conditions, are beginning to look archaic, and the time has come to examine some aspects of our system or government.
Dealing with the rights of private members Mr. Green said -
The existing devices of the private member to express himself are through debates on Supply, at question time and on the adjournment motion, by letters to the Minister and by deputation. They derive rather from the conception of Parliament as the redressing place of grievances than the controller of the Executive.
Mr. Green also said, speaking from a wealth of experience -
This means that the House has been transformed into an organ of registration of the will of Cabinet, and that Party discipline is so strict that there is little likelihood of a Government being defeated there. Governments are now made and unmade by public opinion and other forces outside the Parliament.
The whole history of Parliament as an institution has been one of constant battle between the exercise of the Royal prerogative and the rights of the assembled elected public representatives. There is no need for me to traverse the history of the establishment of the Parliament of Great Britain. But let this be said: Through the years the Royal prerogative has been curbed, and today we face the anomalous position that royalty has, in a sense, democratised itself more than has the parliamentary institution, because now the question is no longer that of curbing the abuse of the Royal prerogative but rather that of curbing the abuse of the Executive prerogative. There have been phrases coined in recent years that have been accepted throughout the world - “The iron curtain “, and “ The bamboo curtain “. But there is a further phrase which might well be coined in this Parliament. That phrase is “ The Executive curtain “, because today we have supreme contempt by the Executive for the functions of Parliament. It is a matter like that referred by Timon of Athens when he said: “ Uncover, dogs, and lap.”
Decisions are made and come to us to be rubber stamped. The opportunities for the Parliament to inform itself are more limited than ever. Parliament is, after all, a court. It is the High Court of Parliament. If we look at the first chapter of May’s book on parliamentary procedure we find that one of the essential functions of the Parliament is to inquire and to inform itself. It is not merely a place for debate. It exercises the supreme right - the right to legislate. It is a court which makes its own laws and determines its own procedure. It has available to it powers that no other court or jurisdiction in the land can ever possess. We had a classic instance of the need for Parliament to exercise its rights of inquisition and inquiry in the recent introduction of the legislation dealing with the stevedoring industry, because everything that we subscribe to and to which we pay lip service in matters of democracy has been attacked and minimised in that legislation. I do not intend in any way to breach the Standing Orders by attempting to re-open the debate on that issue, but let this be said: Today we have under attack, not merely the rights and privileges of Parliament, but every one of the traditions and civil liberties that we all so proudly vaunt when we speak in general terms in addressing any public assemblage. Today those rights are being minimised. We have seen a Minister of the Crown exercising his prerogative and, speaking to the leader of the major party in this Parliament - a party which has the votes of 47 per cent, of the Australian electors - saying that he ls not prepared to give him information to which he is entitled and to which the Parliament is entitled. Let there be no mistake. In that incident we have a classic illustration of Lord Acton’s saying that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and if we let the powers of inquiry of the Parliament be minimised we will come to a situation where democracy itself will be finally destroyed. At all costs the powers of the Executive Government must be curbed. It has certain well defined constitutional functions, but today those functions have been far exceeded and we must again establish the rights of parliamentary investigation by committees.
Why should a whole group of men be traduced as the men on the waterfront have been? Parliament is being used for purposes of character assassination and for industrial espionage. The Security Service, which has a proper function to preserve the safety and welfare of the nation, is being used as an industrial Pinkerton system. There is no earthly reason why any group of men should be denied the protection of the Parliament by proper inquiry. The 23,000 members of the Waterside Workers Federation have been calumniated and vilified. I want to see the figures produced. I want proof. There is no need to name the men, but they are entitled to protection through the forms, procedures and traditions of the Parliament. We have the procedures by which the men can be protected and their characters can be cleared. I am particularly acquainted with the exact number of men involved at Port Kembla in the Minister’s imputations, and the Minister is not correct. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has equally challenged the Minister in regard to his allegations concerning the port of Melbourne. These men are entitled to protection.
– This is a bit far from the Estimates, Mr. Chairman.
– The Minister cannot take it.
– What has this to do with the Estimates?
– I am dealing with the rights of the Parliament. The Parliament is the highest court in the land and can pursue its own inquiries in its own fashion to protect the civil liberties of the Australian people. The members of the Waterside Workers Federation have their rights, just as the rest of us have, and their rights are being taken away. We have reached the very nadir, the very bottom, of parliamentary democracy. In recent weeks, we have seen the onus of proof, which was an obligation resting on the prosecutor, .completely reversed. Men are being fined without the right of appeal. In New South Wales, they are being denied the right to a trial by jury in certain cases. Where do we finish? Even on appeal, they are not allowed to give evidence on their own behalf. This is left to the discretion or the whim of the Minister. Ministers are following the pattern that we find in an oligopoly today. In the managerial revolution, we. find precisely the same situation. Major corporations have grown to the point where they are beyond the control of their shareholders at annual meetings, in just the same way as the Executive is getting beyond the control of the Parliament itself.
This situation cannot continue. Parliament is being degraded. It is in disrepute and will continue to be in disrepute while we accept the arrogant dictates of the present Executive. This situation is scandalous. It is a situation which is, I think, without parallel in the English speaking world. Waterside workers are entitled to protection. They are entitled to all the elementary civil liberties, but these are being denied to good, honest, decent Australians. Let us consider the procedure that was followed when the recent legislation was introduced. For a week we were bashed. We were taxed to the limits of physical endurance by long sititngs. Then, in a matter of hours, all the civil liberties of watersiders that had accumulated over the years were, under attack and the House disposed of the whole matter in 24 hours after a debate that was no more than the ritualism of a brolga dance. We made our protests, but we knew that the Government would enforce its will. What is the net result? The Government has sown the wind and will certainly reap the whirlwind.
It is time that we discarded a lot of the junk that still remains in our Standing Orders, in our traditions and in our parliamentary procedure. I am a parliamentarian and I am proud to be one. I am proud of the traditions of the Parliament. But, at the same time, I am aware that many of our practices derive from 18th century English squires. They are derived from a set of social conditons different from those that exist now. We are in an age of computers and of atomic energy, but we are trying to deal with these problems with a horse and buggy Constitution.
– I do not subscribe to the view expressed by the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor), who has just concluded his speech, that Parliament has become degraded and is falling into disrepute. I do not think that any honorable member who has spoken in this debate has directed attention to one fact that has done more than anything else to reduce the power of Parliament and to increase the influence of the Executive. That is the rigid regimentation of the Australian Labour Party, which commits all its members to one point of view in this Parliament. This reduces the value of debate in the Parliament and reduces the influence of the Parliament in giving effect to the policies of the nation.
The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) and, on many occasions, the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) have directed the attention of the House to matters involved in parliamentary control and parliamentary authority as opposed to the power and influence of the Executive. I want to devote some time to this question, because it is important. I think it is important that we should understand what we mean by parliamentary control. I believe it means influence rather than direct power, advice rather than command, criticism rather than destruction, scrutiny rather than initiation and publicity rather than secrecy. It is quite clear that in recent years the work of government has become infinitely more complex and widespread. The Public Service has grown in step with the demands placed on the Government and it is clear that, if the Parliament is to fulfil the functions that I have mentioned, it, too, must grow and maintain its proper place and balance in the scheme of things. If this is correct, the questions are: How can this best be done? How can the individual talents of members be best used? How can members be given the best opportunity to be of real service in the Parliament? I believe that a great contribution can be made in this direction through an extension of the system of joint parliamentary committees which already exist.
I should like to make it clear that I am not referring to the domestic committees of the House of Commons or of this House - the Joint House Committee and the Library Committee - nor to the great standing committees of the House of Commons to which legislation is referred in the com mittee stage because of circumstances that are peculiar to the United Kingdom but have no relevance to the circumstances in Australia. I will be referring to committees that have a particular function to perform in assisting Parliament to fill its major and primary role. The questions then are: What kind of committee? How are these committees to be organised? The House of Commons has been firmly opposed to the idea of forming committees on the basis of the French bureau or the United States Congressional committees, which have been organised on a departmental basis. I believe again, from the nature of our system of government, that this is a sound decision. House of Commons committees have been established to perform particular functions which have a relationship to several departments. The kind of committee that comes to mind are the United Kingdom select committees of public accounts, on the Estimates, or on statutory instruments. In the Australian practice, of course, we have the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, which performs the same duties, by and large, as the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments of the House of Commons.
We have gone further than the United Kingdom has in certain directions. We have a Joint Standing Committee on Public Works, and a Foreign Affairs Committee which, it will be noted, breaks away from the British tradition because it is directly related to one department and does not cover a broad spectrum of functions which have a relationship to several departments as is usual with House of Commons committees. But we do not have an Estimates Committee. A broad distinction needs to be made between the work of the Public Accounts Committee and the work of the Estimates Committee in the United Kingdom. I fear that my friend, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), last evening when he was speaking - really against an estimates committee - did not perceive the difference in functions between the two committees as they operate in the United Kingdom and the different techniques and skills required to fill the two functions.
The purpose of the Public Accounts Committee, as it works in the United Kingdom, is to decide whether moneys have been spent as Parliament ordered. It uses the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General very often as a starting point in making these inquiries. But the purpose of the Estimates Committee is quite distinct and quite different. It has to see that departments draw up their estimates efficiently and that the taxpayer gets the best value for money within the framework of established Government policy. Therefore, it does come much closer to examining the implementation of policy - not the nature of the policy. It cannot question policy within its terms of reference, but it does question whether or not the policy is being achieved as efficiently as possible. I believe that this is a legitimate function of a committee of Parliament.
Until 1939, the United Kingdom Estimates Committee went through the Estimates before the Parliament came to the supply debate, but after the Estimates had been prepared. The idea was to assist members during the supply debate. During this period the Estimates Committee did not really function particularly usefully because members in the House of Commons, as in this Parliament, during the supply debates very often were more concerned with making a political speech than with making a speech directly related to the detailed figures and difficulties of the Estimates. But since the war the Estimates Committee has built on the experience of the wartime Committee of Public Expenditure and it now largely disregards the Estimates as such. However, it uses them as a starting point for investigations into administrative efficiency for the purpose of seeing whether or not the taxpayer is getting proper and good value for his money. This is a most useful function and it has been recognised as such.
In 1960 the United Kingdom Committee was expanded in number on a motion by Mr. Butler, as he then was, from 36 to 43 so that it could operate an additional subcommittee and undertake more inquiries concurrently. Liaison with the Public Accounts Committee is important and this is maintained by having the chairman of the Estimates Committee as a member of the Public Accounts Committee. But we need to understand the two purposes quite clearly. The purpose of the Public Accounts Committee is to ensure that money is spent as Parliament has previously ordered; the purpose of the Estimates Committee is to ensure that the taxpayer is getting the best value for money within the framework of established policy. These are separate functions which require different techniques. It is noteworthy that the honorable member for Swan referred to an opinion expressed by Professor Bland, and in referring to Professor Bland the honorable member said -
He went on to say that Parliament had not yet shown a capacity to get the best results from the activity of this Committee.
That is a reference to our Public Accounts Committee. I suggest that the reason for this is that these two separate and different functions are intermingled and mixed in our Public Accounts Committee and that the Committee is not doing entirely one thing or the other. Two separate Committees could perform the separate functions much more effectively than one Committee trying to do both. This judgment is again supported if one cares to examine the debates in the United Kingdom Parliament which has from time to time considered the amalgamation of the two Committees into one. Their amalgamation has always been rejected, I think largely on the grounds I have mentioned.
I believe that there is one other field in which we can usefully extend committee work at this stage, having in mind the numbers of this Parliament and the time that would be demanded of members if committees were to work effectively. I believe that a committee on the tariffs could fulfil a useful function and a necessary one. Present Tariff Board debates are desultory affairs which involve a few interested members. Largely the debates are due to the work of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). Before he entered the Parliament, tariff debates hardly ever took place. But still too little time is given to this important subject. The purpose of such a committee on the tariffs would be not to do the Tariff Board work over again but, first, to examine the principles under which the Board operates and to see whether those principles are applied equally in different hearings.
If they are not applied equally there may well be good reasons for it, but if this is so the reasons should be known. Such a committee could report these reasons to Parliament. In addition, such a committee would be able to examine whether or not there was consistency in Government action as a result of Tariff Board reports. Again, there may well be good reasons for there being inconsistency of Government action in certain directions, but if there is a deviation from a standard rule in dealing with particular matters the reasons for it should be made well and clearly known. Committees of this kind would have several matters in common. They would all need to be serviced by an adequate staff. The Public Accounts Committee of the United Kingdom is serviced by a specialist staff in the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s office, but the Estimates Committee, which does equally valuable work, is serviced by clerks from the House of Commons - not a specialist staff but people of appropriate calibre and quality. If we were to have an estimates committee or a tariffs committee in this Parliament I would make only one comment: The estimates committee should not be serviced by officers of the Treasury - any Treasury information should come to it from Treasury officials appearing as witnesses - and a tariff committee should not be serviced by officers of the Department of Trade and Industry or of the Tariff Board - such people again would appear as witnesses before the committee. But . the committees would still need an adequate and well trained staff.
None of these committees of which I have been speaking criticises the base or merits of policy. They work to assist the efficient implementation of policy as it has been announced by governments. They work through officials and not through Ministers, so there is no additional charge upon the time of Ministers. They work not by surprise and not to trap departments but to reveal black spots and short falls in administration. The corrective effect of inquiries, especially by the Estimates Committee, is said to be high in the United Kingdom.
I believe that we could, with some real value to this Parliament, seriously consider the establishment of a committee on the Estimates and on the tariffs. If this were done the undoubted capacities of many members in this House would be given an opportunity to be used to better advantage than they now are. Here I should like to return to my starting point. Modern circumstances place a great power and a great authority in the hands of the Government and, necessarily so. If the Parliament is to grow in step and to maintain its proper place in our system of things, the capacity of Parliament and of individual members of Parliament to examine, to advise and to criticise should be adjusted to meet that situation.
.- The somewhat thoughtful contribution by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) was spoilt at the outset by a misstatement which should not pass unnoticed. He said that the reason for the decline of Parliament - I think that was the term he used - in the eyes of the public was because of the rigid regimentation of the Australian Labour Party in this place. Time does not permit me to do full justice to that statement, but if I had the time I should like to repaint the picture of a Liberal member endeavouring to exercise a free and independent vote in this Parliament. When the Government has a majority of 22 in this place, every tinpot rebel on the Government benches can do as he likes, provided that the number of rebels does not exceed 22.
Who will ever forget the spectacle when the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), at a time when the Government had a majority of one in this place, endeavoured in the interests of social justice to vote against his party on a vital clause of the Social Services Bill? His action would have meant the defeat of the Government. But what happened? The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was brought into the chamber and he sat where the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) is now sitting. He glared with all the fury that he could muster at the honorable member for Mackellar. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) rose in his place and walked to the back of the chamber where he threatened the honorable member for Mackellar with fisticuffs if he voted against the clause. This incident is recorded in “ Hansard “ for all to see. The Ministry gathered and glared at the honorable member for Mackellar. He was told that there would be a general election if he exercised his free and independent Liberal vote. The fact of the matter is that if a movie camera had recorded the proceedings at that time, the whole nation would have been able to see for all time that there is independence of thought on the
Government side of the chamber only when the future of the Government is not affected. What has happened to those who have tried to exercise an independent vote? They rot on the back benches on the Government side, as is the honorable member for Mackellar, because there is no place in the Liberal Party for the independent speaker. They have to get the favour of the Prime Minister before they get into the Ministry. Although the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) is a man of great ability he has no chance of getting into the Ministry because he has acted independently occasionally. This is the situation which we find on the Government side. Independence is a complete fallacy.
When the Government had a majority of one in this Parliament we never saw any honorable member opposite exercising his right to vote against the Government. The honorable member for La Trobe who spoke in the debate en the “Voyager” report is no longer a favourite. He spoke on a great issue and condemned the Government for its incompetence. We can forget all this ballyhoo and rot about independent voters. Honorable members opposite are more regimented than any member of the Labour Party has ever been. They cannot have free thought on any issue. Not one of them is prepared to cross the floor and vote against the Government on any important issue if his seat or the future of the Government is in jeopardy. Those Government supporters who talk this rot about independence should consult the honorable member for Mackellar. He knows full well that I speak the truth. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) knows that I am right, as does the honorable member for Bradfield. They are men of ability but they can get nowhere because occasionally, on things that do not matter, they exercise the right that parliamentarians have to speak and act as they think in the Parliament. I hope that the public will not fall for the baloney we have just heard from the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser).
I was prompted to speak on this question today, not only because of what honorable members opposite had said, but because of a news item in today’s “Sydney Morning Herald “ and events that have occurred recently in this Parliament. In today’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ under the caption “ Long sessions in next few weeks the following article appears -
Canberra, Wednesday. - Members of the joint Government parties were warned today to prepare themselves for long sittings over the next several weeks because of a big backlog of legislation.
At least the Government was decent to its members on this occasion. It told honorable members opposite what it intends to do, which is better treatment than they generally get. The article continues -
The Minister for External Affairs and Acting Government Leader in the House of Representatives, Mr. P. M. C. Hasluck, said it was unlikely that Parliament would rise until December 9 because of the backlog.
This brings me to the point that has been raised by the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor) and other honorable members on this side of the House about the conduct of the Parliament by this Government.
Today we are speaking on an allocation of £1,706,000, which is an increase of £148,000 over last year’s allocation, for the expenditure of Parliament in this financial year. I ask the House at this stage: Is the expenditure justified in view of the conduct of the affairs of this nation by the Government today? Is it justified in view of the way in which the Government is treating members of this Parliament and the people whom we represent? Is it justified in the light of the Government’s conduct, the statements it makes and the manner in which legislation is introduced into the Parliament? Undoubtedly the Government is dominated by the Prime Minister. It is a dictatorial one man band at this stage. Of course, his dictum is as the honorable member for Mackellar and other honorable members opposite know: “ My Government and I can do no wrong “. Consider the titles he holds at the present time. He is now known, amongst other things, as the Constable of Dover Castle and the Lord Warden of Cinque Ports. With these titles, his Knighthood and his background of 15 years as Prime Minister, he is the one who runs the country.
The rebel back benchers have no chance of voting against him without bringing all his ire down upon them. Recently we saw his power at its peak. A member of the Ministry walked into the chamber when the honorable member for Mallee (Mr.
Turnbull) was on his feet. The Minister moved that the question be put. The diligent member of the Country Party voted in favour of the motion to gag himself. That showed the supreme arrogance of this Government’s administration. If an honorable member on the Government side is so subjugated that he will vote to silence himself we can realise the treatment that we on this side of the Parliament will get when we want to put a point of view.
The Ministry has been condemned by the honorable member for Bradfield. It is personally chosen by the Prime Minister. The members of the Ministry have to be his favourites and they have to come from certain States. The Ministry consists of a mixture of members from two parties which hardly agree on anything. As the honorable member for Bradfield said, when all those factors have to be considered, a pretty queer collection comes out of the pot. This is the situation today. The Ministry is a mixture of men, some able, others incompetent and arrogant, who treat private members from both sides of the Parliament with complete and utter contempt. This is the reason why the present type of legislation is being introduced. As every honorable member knows, bitterness and hatred exist between the members of the Liberal and Country Parties and this adds to the great problems which exist in this Parliament today.
When we assemble here after a recess, legislation is not ready. When it is introduced discussion is curtailed. We have late sittings of Parliament even in the early stages of the sessional period. The contempt for Parliament is such that the honorable member for Bradfield described Parliament as having been turned into a rubber stamp by the arrogant and overbearing Ministry. Let us look at the pattern of this sessional period of the Parliament. No legislation was available in the early stages. Then we had all-night sittings. This pattern continues. We are told that we must sit until one, two, three, four or five o’clock in the morning. Why does the Parliament sit in the night time at all? Why cannot it adjourn at 6 o’clock in the evening? If necessary, it could sit all day on five days of the week. In any case, why should die Parliament ever sit later than 11 o’clock at night?
Let us look at the important legislation which the Government has rushed through the Parliament this year. The first was the National Service Bill. We sat continuously for 22 hours to debate it. The sitting was suspended at 4.30 a.m. and resumed at 5 a.m. This shows the height of contempt for Parliament. We were debating a measure which affected the future of the young men of this country, many of whom may fight in Vietnam and in other places.
– The Government started off the new sitting day with prayers.
– Yes, it made a mockery of prayers. Then we dealt with the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. In the dead of night the Government endeavoured to foist on the people the greatest gerrymander in the history of this country. Then there was the Repatriation Bill, which affected the lives of the men and women who served this country. We debated that measure at night. Then we had the Stevedoring Industry Bill a few days ago. Although it attacked the rights and liberties of trade unionists and other people in the community, we were not given time tq debate it at the Committee stage. The Bill was introduced at the very last moment and it was rushed through the Parliament. The Government did not give members an adequate opportunity to discuss it. Is there any wonder that the honorable member for Bradfield and other supporters of the Government are moved, because of the uselessness of talking in this place, to write to the Press to get their views published? I could give 101 other examples.
Vital measures are debated in the early hours of the morning when members are exhausted. This happened the week before last. We sat until 4.30 a.m. one day and until 1.30 a.m. another day. This not only affects the thinking and logic of members but also imposes hardship on the Parliamentary staffs and others associated with the work of the Parliament. It is time that the Government was emptied out lock, stock and barrel for the simple reason that democracy is dying out and the right of discussion has gone. The Government is dealing with the rights and welfare of people in a way that deserves condemnation and rejection by the people when it faces the next election.
I say to honorable members opposite that a parliamentarian’s tools of trade are the
Standing Orders of the Parliament. I do not care who knows it, but if the Government persists in making us sit later at night, preventing discussion so far as I am concerned as a private member, I consider that full and intensive use should be made of those Standing Orders. Then we will see whether the Government can make this Parliament work. On one night in the week before last the Government made every speaker from the Labour Party speak after midnight. Had we been an irresponsible party and had we ignored the great issue that had to be debated, we could have made it practically impossible for speakers on the Government side to take the floor before 11 o’clock at night.
I think that the Opposition will have to face up to this matter very shortly. If the Government persists in these late sittings and in gagging debates, the Opposition will be entitled to exercise to the full our rights under the Standing Orders. We will see whether the Government can continue to treat us with contempt, as it is endeavouring to do at the present time. What is the solution to the problem of the late sittings that are occurring at the present time? For instance, why does the Parliament not meet from July of each year and not from the middle of August? It is a larger Parliament. Why not have longer sittings? We do not have to debate the Budget on the very day that Parliament resumes. Why could we not have debated the restrictive trade practices legislation, the report on New Guinea of the mission from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or any one of a dozen and one other matters before the Budget was introduced? If the Government does not want to commence the sessional period earlier, why not have an extra sitting day each week? Why not sit in the day time on Monday or Friday? Why not sit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. to avoid late sittings? The problem of late sittings is easily solved.
Let me tell honorable members why the Government does not want longer sittings. They would probably interfere with the Treasurer’s trip to Bingil Bay each year. He may not want to return to Canberra early for the Budget session, because July is the nice time of the year in northern Queensland. A longer sessional period would interfere with trips abroad by Ministers and with the Prime Minister’s visits to Great Britain for cricket tests in the English summer. A longer sessional period would interfere no doubt with the business activities of many members of the Government parties. They like months off from Parliament, but when they return to Canberra they expect us to sit day and night to make up for the fact that they have been running ail over the country during the long recess.
The remedy for late sittings is freely available to the Government. Rather than ask us to sit in the middle of the night to debate issues upon which nobody can give a sane judgment at that time - issues affecting the welfare of the people and the country - we should have longer sessions. Why must we wait until the middle of February or March next year before meeting? This only leads to late sittings towards the end of the session. The complacent and pathetic collection of back benchers on the other side are afraid to move because the man who leads them dominates their political futures. Those people who sit behind the Government are not consulted on any great issues until the necessary legislation comes into the Parliament. The people responsible for destroying democracy in this country are those who sit behind the Government and put up with the Government’s actions. The few rebels on the other side who die on the vine have not made much contribution to an improvement of conditions because they are fair weather fighters who talk one way and vote another. There is no possibility of obtaining their support on the great issues needed to preserve democracy. I suggest that the bright honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) should give thought to what I have said about longer sittings and reasonable hours. Let him bring into this place some of the militancy and demand for democracy that he so often speaks about. Let him exercise his liberal independence and vote for the rights of private members and the protection of democracy as it should exist in this country.
I am not concerned with what has happened in the past. In the future the Government should see that the Parliament functions as a democratic institution. The Government must realise that the Opposition represents almost 50 per cent, of the Australian people. We on this side of the chamber have our rights and we will protect them. If late night sittings continue and the
Government refuses to adopt constructive suggestions put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and other honorable members on this side, we are entitled to use every form of the Parliament to frustrate the Government’s efforts to destroy democracy by resorting to legislation by exhaustion.
– It is true that in recent years there has been, not only in Australia but elsewhere, some erosion of parliamentary authority but of course, not to the fantastic extent suggested by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). Back benchers of the Liberal Party have some power and influence. In the last few weeks I have had no fewer than four amendments carried in the Parliament. Two of those were of some significance. This indicates that although we may not have all the power we would like to have - which of us does? - we are not powerless. I hope that I and other honorable members have had a good deal of influence on the policy of the Government.
I think it is right to say that the Government, in common with other governments in other parliaments, is a little sensitive at times about regarding votes on matters of minor consequence as votes of confidence. This is a bad habit and one which 1 think should not be approved. But if the Government announces that the vote on a certain matter is to be considered as a vote of confidence, who of us on this side would vote to put into power an Opposition which we regard - rightly I think - as an incompetent body of people infected with Communism? [Quorum formed.] One of the weaknesses in the present situation is that there is no effective alternative government in Australia. The present Opposition, infected as it is with Communism, would be loathed as a government by most decent Australians. None of us on this side -would want to do anything which would put the Labour Party into power.
I turn now to the practical matters that have been raised by several speakers in the debate. They have said - rightly I think - that the House sits long hours and that sometimes it has before it a collection of legislation that is not properly considered. I think that in relation to the last sessional period we might have complained, with reason, that the early part of the period was taken up with unimportant matters and that a lot of legislation was brought down towards the close of the sessional period. I do not think we have the same measure of complaint about the current sessional period. I do not know what will be introduced towards the end of this period, but I do know that the time of the Parliament has not been wasted by the Government in the opening weeks. What then are we to do in order to get more effective debating time? There are some things we can do and I will suggest three practical courses. First, I think speeches in general are too long. It would be better if the limits of speaking time were reduced. This could bo a proper matter for consideration by the Standing Orders Committee. I do not believe that members should be prevented from saying something when they have a contribution to make but honorable members well know that a lot of repetition occurs in speeches. Often a speech would be more effective if it was compressed and delivered in half the time that it now takes to deliver it.
– They should be dehydrated.
– That is a good word. I thank the honorable member for Mitchell for his suggestion. Dehydrated speeches would be better than some of those we now have. I think we could effectively shorten the time allowed for speeches under the Standing Orders but give honorable members the right to a certain number of extensions of time which they could claim in every 12 months. This would permit members with a special interest in a subject occasionally to speak for longer than the normally permitted time. If this were done it would improve the quality of the debates and would enable us to get through our business more quickly.
My second point is that the routine of sittings could be improved. The present system of sitting for three weeks and then having a week off is better than the old system where the sittings were more or less left to chance, but we still spend too much of our time in travelling. We would get more work done if we were to sit fairly continuously for perhaps two or three weeks, without returning to our electorates, and then have a break during which time we could return to our electorates and attend to those affairs which press upon every honorable member and which are his proper concern. I know that this is not a simple matter. It will require the consent of both sides of the chamber. 1 do not think this proposal should be implemented without the approval of both sides.
I put this to honorable members as a matter of practical politics: If we want to get more value out of our available time, we should spend less of our time in travelling. I speak as one whose journey home is comparatively short in time. Last night the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) told us about the length of time that it takes him to get to his electorate and back to Canberra. Perhaps other honorable members are even less fortunately situated than he is. Whatever the time involved may be, honorable members know very well that when they come to Canberra on a Tuesday those who have travelled long distances are tired and, perhaps, are unable to give their full attention to the affairs of the Parliament. If we could rationalise this matter a little, if we could arrange things so that we sat continuously for, perhaps, two five-day weeks and then returned to our electorates for a week and looked after the affairs of our electors, we would have more effective debating time in this chamber and we would perform our parliamentary duties, both in this chamber and in our electorates, better than we do today. This proposal can be implemented. It is a practical suggestion. Perhaps it is not a very far reaching one, but it will help.
The third matter is a little more radical. In this debate honorable members have referred to the standing committees of the House of Commons which very largely take the weight of the Committee debate off the House as a whole. I believe that we could extend that system to the Australian Parliament, perhaps in a modified form. Honorable members know that some, although not all, Committee debates are pure repetition of the second reading debates. Surely it would be possible to arrange for standing committees to consider bills, not with any publicity, but around a table, perhaps with the advice of experts who would be available when called upon, and with the objective, not of gaining party advantage, but of presenting bills which technically were as much in the interests of the Australian people as they could be.
I suggest that if such committees sat we would have available to us time which at present is consumed by honorable members as a whole in this chamber. I am not suggesting for one moment that the House should give up its right to consider in Committee major matters of principle. I am suggesting that many of the small technicalities, which at present are dealt with in Committee in this chamber, would be better and more efficiently dealt with, from the standpoint of enacting effective legislation, by a standing committee of honorable members sitting outside this chamber. This point involves a proposition that I put earlier - that the Government should have a certain amount of flexibility. It should not reject every amendment just because the Government itself did not think of it. The Government should consider amendments on their merits. It should consider technical amendments as not involving any want of confidence in the Government. I believe that the three propositions that 1 have suggested would help.
Finally, there is the matter of some selfdiscipline, which I would commend to the Opposition in particular. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. A few minutes ago the honorable member for Grayndler, on behalf of the Opposition, was threatening a campaign of obstruction which could only reduce the time available for effective debate in this chamber. Nobody wants to curtail effective debate. One of the things that can curtail it is the making of niggling points or the deliberate wasting of time. The honorable member destroyed his own argument because, if there is any lack of time available for effective debate, it is very largely due to the fact that the Oposition deliberately wastes time. Now he suggests that he would waste still more time. I will not repeat the points that I have made. Perhaps they are small points. But I believe that they are valid and that their implementation would alleviate, to some extent, the erosion of the authority of this chamber to which honorable members on both sides rightly have drawn attention in this debate.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr.
Wentworth) said that some erosion of parliamentary authority was taking place - not as much as some other people have suggested, but quite a considerable amount. Other honorable members have pointed out that the Executive is gaining too much power at the expense of the legislature. The solution that has been suggested is that we should have an extension of the committee system. I believe in committees. I believe in committees of my party and I believe in committees of the other parties. Committees enable members to inform themselves on all kinds of questions and all kinds of bills. These committees should have the right to summon before them representatives of the relevant departments and to examine them, so that members can come into this chamber with the fullest possible knowledge.
However, I do not believe that the power of the Parliament is increased by the creation of more statutory committees. We have the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. It is suggested that an Estimates committee should be created. How do the Estimates come before this chamber? The officers of the respective departments carefully consider what is required for the coming year. They put their estimates to the Treasury which scans, scrutinises and prunes those estimates. Now it is suggested that, in addition, we should have an Estimates committee. We already have a Public Accounts Committee which can consider the Estimates, their effect on the community and whether the expenditure is wise or unwise. For that reason, I suggest that already we have a quite sufficient democratic control of the government of this country, without increasing the number of committees. Are we to have the Treasury acting as a watchdog on all the other departments as far as finance is concerned; the Public Accounts Committee to watch the Treasury; and an Estimates committee to watch the Public Accounts Committee, the Treasury and the other departments?
Is this Estimates committee to meet in some cubbyhole in this building, at unspecified hours and for very short periods, and to have placed before it by a public servant an agenda with which it cannot deal fully? In reality, the public servant gives the members of a committee the information that he desires to give them; he produces from out of a hat the witnesses that he desires to pro duce; and, having done that, he writes the report that he wants to have presented to the Parliament. Yet honorable members suggest that that is a method of increasing the influence of the Parliament on the Government. In reality, it is not increased. The influence of this Parliament upon the country is reduced when more and more of the considerations of public government are taken out of the hands of Parliament. The functions of Government should be carried out in the view of the whole community. The people should be able to concentrate their attention upon this Parliament. Representatives of the Press from all over Australia sit in the Press gallery. They not merely report but also criticise and discuss the operations of the Parliament. But who sees discussion, criticism or reports of the operations of the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee? Would there be discussion, criticism or reports concerning the suggested Estimates Committee or other committees that this Parliament may from time to time create?
What does democracy mean? Domocracy means that the party that has secured the majority of the votes of the people shall govern. It does not mean government by committees that are made up of representatives of the Government and Opposition. The committees have a weighted government representation. That of course is as it should be. But because the committees have a weighted government representation, their purposes are absolutely nullified. On major issues they become merely the instruments of government policy. They go away and come back with what the departments concerned have been instructed by Ministers of this Government to put into operation. Again, in my opinion, that is as it should be. A government should govern. Its work should not be carried out by a committee sitting in a cubbyhole in this building or in some public office in Canberra. The fewer statutory committees there are the better.
This Parliament has the power to create temporary committees when it wishes to do so. These committees, with representatives from both sides of this House, investigate specific issues. The Government appointed such a committee and it became known as the Vernon Committee. It sat for two or three years and spent over £100,000 of the people’s money. It presented a voluminous report which has not yet been considered by Parliament. But that report has already been damned with faint praise by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Is the Government going to create more committees, at the expense of hundreds of thousands of pounds, to bring in more and more voluminous reports which will be damned with faint praise not merely by the Prime Minister but also by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) who is sitting at the table? That will occur if the reports of committees run counter to the policies of the Government.
I opposed the creation of the Vernon Committee. At the time it was created, I said that if the Committee did not bring in a report in accordance with the policy of the Government it would be useless because its recommendations would not be implemented. The Government has at its disposal already a large number of public servants who are highly qualified and who are being paid some of the highest salaries in the community. From these people in the departments sub-committees can be and are chosen to consider and investigate every project and every department of the Government. Why then should we have more committees?
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before lunch I pointed out that statutory committees extend rather than diminish Executive control over the legislature. I pointed out how the Parliament and the Government can create committees to do a special job. The Government appointed the Vernon Committee - and ignored its findings. The Parliament appointed a committee on the Constitution that cost tens of thousands of pounds, and ignored its findings. I do not know how many decisions of the Public Accounts Committee have been ignored. The idea, apparently, is to create other committees that will cackle a bit, that will sit continuously, that will cost an immense amount of money and never lay an egg. I am opposed to these committeess. I want committees of all parties to have all kinds of research facilities and power to examine public servants so that all will be better informed in this Parliament. All of these facilities, 1 suggest, should be put at the disposal of the various parties in order that they can secure research workers that will enable them to come fully informed into this Parliament. Those committees with the powers that I suggest would not cost a fraction of the cost of one standing committee during a year, but would result in preserving the control of Parliament over the destinies of this country, preserving democratic government and, of course, allowing to the Executive its rightful, and only its rightful, say in the sphere of government.
I suggest that when these committees reach their findings and present them to the Parliament decisions will be made in the full glare of the light of public opinion. That is preferable to having decisions of committees that are made away from this parliamentary chamber brought here, and, with little or no discussion, passed through the legislature and put into operation as portions of a legislative programme. It would be far better, with the knowledge that comes from research workers available to committees, to extend the committee operations of this Parliament and to extend the committee consideration of Bills within this Parliament so that within this Parliament all of the details of legislation can be adequately and properly surveyed.
Those are the suggestions that I make. It is inevitable because of the constitution of the Parliament that the people who go on a public accounts committee, a public works committee or an estimates committee such as is now being suggested, are not the people who will gain most by being on those committees. Nor are they the people generally who can best serve in those capacities. Because of that, the result inevitably is that those committees are dominated by the public servants who run them, lt is the public servants who suggest the evidence that should be taken and the witnesses that should be called. It is the public servants who write the reports. The members of Parliament who sit on the committees have but a small portion of time to devote to meetings. Because of this, I do not think that in a democracy - a democracy such as Australia, at any rate - there should be any necessity to increase the number of statutory committees. There may be somebody who will think that I am not qualified to talk upon this question as I have not had the necessary experience. I want to point out that I was for 10 years Secretary of the Parliamentary Public Works Committee of Victoria, and we considered the operations of all kinds of committees, so 1 speak with qualifications at least equal to those of the honorable member for Wannon (Mi. Malcolm Fraser).
.- Two clear points have emerged in the course of this debate - first, the concern expressed by members of both sides of the Parliament as to sitting hours and, secondly, the concern expressed by members on both sides as to the decline in the authority of the Parliament. Before I make some comments of my own on those two points, I say that I find myself in refreshing agreement with my friend the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). I do not think that the solution to the decline of parliamentary authority is to be found in the establishment of a plethora of committees, referring every piece of legislation to a committee and asking that committee to give the House its view. I am concerned principally with the decline of the authority of this chamber as a chamber and not with any imagined decline.
Before I turn to these two points may I, not by way of passing courtesy, extend to the members of the staff of the Parliamentary Library my appreciation of their unfailing courtesy and help. Some honor.abl members have made very useful, constructive suggestions for improvement of the Library’s facilities. Be that as it may, the scope no doubt is there. Nevertheless, the staff members of the Library are quite unfailing in their courtesy and in their help. As one who uses the Library a great deal, I feel almost embarressed at times at some of the demands that I make, only to find that nothing is too much trouble for them. Secondly, I think this Committee should put on record - I do so, if I may, on its behalf - the collective thanks of honorable members to the most obliging man in Australia, namely, the Transport Officer, Mr. Gordon Pike. He is the only person in Parliament House who can run us all, and he does it with such infinite charm, with a smile and a ready sense of helpfulness, that I know we all appreciate it.
Last night my friend the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury), in a conspicuously constructive speech, turned to the sittings of the House and suggested, among other things, that we should try to avoid late sittings. We all agree on that. The honorable member for Ryan said that if we had to sit five more hours in a week, please let us sit on the Friday, and not sit till 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. This morning the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) readily concurred with this. When the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) rose, I do not think he helped the cause at all. There is not a vote in it for the honorable gentleman. We are concerned with the efficient running of this House, and for the honorable member for Grayndler to try to chide me or to chide anybody else just does not add anything at all to the sum of usefulness. I join with my friend the honorable member for Ryan in suggesting that if this House is to sit for five more hours in a week it should sit on a Friday.
Concerning the efficient working of this House, may I turn to the question of quorums? This is something that has vexed me considerably in the last week. This House has a quorum requirement that is far too high. If honorable members doubt that this is the case, I draw the Committee’s attention to the quorums of other Parliaments of the Commonwealth. The House of Commons, with a membership of 625, has a quorum of 40 - the same requirement as we have. We have a quorum of 40, or 33i per cent, of the members. The Canadian House of Commons, with a membership of 265, has a quorum of 20. The New Zealand House of Representatives, with a membership of 80, has a quorum of 20. The Ceylon House of Representatives, with a membership of 101, has a quorum of 20. The only legislature of consequence - if I may say so with respect - in the whole Commonwealth that is comparable with the Australian House of Representatives in this regard is the Indian Lok Sabha which, with a membership of 500, has a quorum of 167. 1 put this to my friends on the other side of the House: How inane it is, how utterly childish, to look around, note the heads, find out how many members are in the House and then call for a quorum. This only frustrates the business of the House. I can understand their sense of frustration and perhaps of anger, and I can understand their wanting to impel a cause and do everything possible to work towards an end. but I venture the view, with the utmost sincerity, that it does not help one iota to say: “Ah, we must call for a quorum “.
I do not want to be impertinent or to name any honorable members, but I appeal to the good sense of the members of the Opposition and ask them to consider earnestly the question of calling quorums. I appeal to the good sense of the Government and of the Standing Orders Committee and ask them to look again at the quorum of this House. It is far too high; 33) per cent, is far too high altogether. People listening to the Parliament hear the bells being rung and hear that a quorum is being called and they think that members are having a sleep or doing nothing. This, of course, is a complete caricature of a member’s activities. Members may be seeing Ministers, reading and preparing for speeches, or doing 101 things. I hope that the Standing Orders Committee will direct its attention to the existing quorum and reduce it so as to bring it more into line with reality.
The next suggestion I should like to make for the more efficient running of the House is that it should have its own leader. Without reflecting upon my friend the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), I think it is too much to ask the Treasurer of this country to be also the Leader of this House. The right honorable gentleman discharges his functions with the utmost energy. People may disagree with his views; that, of course, is their entitlement. But the sheer physical burden of trying to look after the office of Treasurer and of trying to cope with the running of this House is, I submit, far too much for any man to carry. At the moment, this position changes hands from week to week. This week I believe the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is in charge of the House. He, again, is a busy Cabinet Minister. We are asking far too much of these men. I hope that the Government - I invite it so to do - will turn to the question of appointing someone as the Minister in charge of the House. The House of Commons works on this basis. I think it is too much to say to a Cabinet Minister, with a great many duties and obligations to discharge: “ Here is another job that you must do”. I think the appointment of a Minister in charge of the House would be conducive to the better running of the House.
I turn now to the question of the decline in parliamentary authority. I think this is best reflected in the repeated call by many people in many parts of Australia for the creation of the office of ombudsman. This cry is well known in Queensland, particularly in relation to the Brisbane City Council. People are asking for the appointment of an ombudsman. Again, I can understand the sense of anxiety and the frustration of people who may have a particular problem and who are unable to get satisfaction. They go to the establishment - to the authorities - and they come up against a blank wall. Is it not a challenge to the sense of enterprise and, indeed, to the sense of fitness of parliamentary representatives that we have to face the prospect of somebody taking up our functions for us? The Committee will recall the celebrated case in England - the Crichel Down case - where the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries was involved. There was maladministration in his Department. There was no suggestion of impropriety, graft, fraud or corruption, but somebody had blundered and people were persistent in their questions. Eventually the member concerned in the House of Commons persuaded the Government to have an inquiry in the whole of the Chichel Down affair. A report was made and then Sir Thomas Dugdale, the Minister, came into the House and said: “ As the Minister responsible, I resign “. He knew nothing about the matter at all, but through the efforts of one member there was a complete vindication of the whole character of the House of Commons and a re-assertion of ministerial responsibility.
When people say: “I think we should have an ombudsman “, we should take a look at ourselves to find out whether we are falling down on our jobs. I find people sometimes come along with a complaint or grudge that it is distasteful to raise, but it is part of the function of a member of the Parliament to make representations on behalf of his constituents. If I may say so, I think a member is falling down on his job if he pretends that his function would best be served by some super civil servant, which is all an ombudsman amounts to. We are facing two completely contradictory movements in our parliamentary society. First of all, there is an insistent cry for the appointment of an ombudsman - somebody to relieve people of their grudges and to inquire into maladministration - and at the same time there is an insistent cry by the community for more and more authority to be discharged by the Parliament. We cannot have it both ways. One finds in the legislation that comes down that more and more power is given to Ministers. It is no reflection upon them to observe that they would need 24 hours in every day of the week’ to discharge, in close observation, all of their ministerial functions. This is the burden that rests on Ministers.
If it is thought that there is something novel about parliamentary reforms, I urge honorable members to turn to the tome that I hold in my hand. It is about one and a half inches thick, and it relates to parliamentary reform extending over the years 1933 to 1958. It contains thousands and thousands of suggestions, but all of these suggestions lead us to one basic point, and that is that Parliament is only as strong as its members are strong. If members allow themselves to be browbeaten, if they submit in all circumstances to cast iron party discipline, if they refuse to recognise that they have a plain responsibility to the Australian community and to their electorates, then of course there is no hope for Parliament at all and we may as well hand over to the managerial society. I am not in favour of a managerial society. I think that this House of Representatives, moody as it may be, lacking in authority as it may be, is yet the best forum in the country for the expression of people’s wishes and views. If it survives the system of parliamentary democracy will survive with it, but if we allow it to be desiccated, if we allow its authority to be frittered away here and there and if we accept uncritically the suggestion for the handing over of its authority to outside committees, I think we do it a tremendous disservice.
I hope that my friend the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), now sitting at the table, will, when he gets an opportunity, tell his colleagues in the Ministry that there is genuine concern regarding the sitting hours of the House and that there is genuine feeling about the decline of parliamentary authority. This is no indictment of Ministers as such. We know the stream of demand on their time, patience and energies. At the same time we have to face up to the fact that modern society is becoming more complex as time goes by but our responsibility, living in the framework of a parliamentary society, has increased. For our part, we can discharge our responsibilities only if we are prepared to face up to them and move with the times.
.- Many diverse views have been presented to the Committee during this debate on the estimates for the Parliament. What I have to say, no doubt, will only add to the diversification but I feel I should say it. Some weeks ago, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) presented a statement to the House on the report of the Vernon Committee. Among other things, he said that the report was the work of technocrats. Whether that is so I do not know. I have not read the report. I will read it in due time. However, it appears that if his statement is correct then it is a question of technocracy versus bureaucracy or of technocrats versus bureaucrats as the position is at the present time. I do not blame the public servants for the extension of bureaucracy that has occurred in the .15 years during which this Government has been in office. But I do blame the Government and, in many instances, the Ministers for this unhappy extension. In quite a number of cases - and I do not propose to name the Ministers concerned - it is quite obvious to honorable members that one of the faults is that Ministers will not run their departments. They permit their departments to run them. Furthermore, there is a willingness on the part of Ministers always to be ready to accept advice furnished to them by their departments concerning complaints that have been made by members. It is very rarely that members can obtain satisfaction from a Minister who uses against them advice received from his department, no matter how strong a case the member may have put forward.
I think it is well to put on record something that I strongly object to - the attitude of some Ministers during question time. I think that when questions are asked of Ministers in a courteous way by members who seek advice the only ground upon which the question should not be answered is that security is involved. On any other matter, I think a member has an inherent right to expect to be supplied with the information he seeks. A few days ago, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked one of the Ministers for certain information. I think that the Leader of the Opposition ranks, in the public mind anyhow, second to the Prime Minister. 1 think he is entitled, by virtue of his position in the House and in the public mind, to be treated as a responsible person. Yet a Minister arose and refused to make available to him certain information. The Prime Minister does nothing about such matters. Here was an instance of a member of the Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition, being effectively humiliated and denied his rights.
If a member of Parliament rises and asks a question I think he is entitled to the information he seeks and should not bc told by a Minister that it can be obtained from the public library. It is a part of the responsibility of a Minister to make this information available to the member no matter how innocuous the question may appear to him. The present attitude is having a very devastating effect on this Parliament.
I want, also, to refer to the part played in the affairs of this nation by statutory bodies, lt appears that statutory bodies are above the Parliament. When Parliament set them up I do not think it was ever imagined that they should function in the manner in which they are functioning. Some years ago, an honorable member asked for certain information concerning tenders accepted by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The information was made available to the Government but not to the House. That was a case in which the statutory body concerned did not accept the lowest tender. I have no doubt that the body had good reasons for not doing so but at the same time it had no right to withhold that information from the Parliament. The member concerned was trying to get this information - something to which he was entitled - but it was withheld from him.
I think what has happened - and it is quite obvious that we reached this stage quite a long time ago - is that we have government by the Executive. Perhaps it is the method of appointment of Cabinet that tends to bring this situation about. At least when we of the Opposition are in Government there is a collective responsibility associated with the election of the Ministry. But Government supporters, strange as it may seem, have as much say in the election of their Cabinet as do we of the Opposition. Consequently, while they are prepared to put up with that state of affairs they deserve the kind of Cabinet they get.
I wanted to say something about the lack of facilities for visitors to Parliament. However, honorable members preceding me in this debate have referred to this problem and I understand that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) has promised the Speaker that the matter will receive his attention. Therefore, I do not propose to say any more about that matter. Regarding the sitting hours of this Parliament, I understand that Government supporters were advised yesterday that we will be sitting until 9th December. I would much prefer to sit an extra week than have all-night sittings. The Government has plenty of time at its disposal in which to make arrangements to rectify the manner of transacting business in the last two weeks of a session to which we have become accustomed in recent years. I do not think any honorable member would object to sitting for an additional day in each of the last three weeks of the session provided that that intention was made known in reasonable time.
I refer now to another matter to which I think attention is required. I do not believe that Parliament House should be used for social functions in the manner that it is used. I do not object at all to social functions. I am in favour of them. But it is quite obvious that the burdens imposed, not only on the staff but on the facilities available, have the result that when social functions are held in this building, the whole place comes to a halt. This building was designed to function as a Parliament House. It was not designed for social functions. When they are held here private members are at an extreme disadvantage. At ministerial level, members are not affected at all by these functions because they have many facilities at their disposal which are not available to private members. When social functions are held here a great many inconveniences are suffered by private members. I think facilities are available in Canberra for social functions to be held and they should be used. I hope that this matter will come before the notice of the proper authorities.
I would also like to make some comments about the Library. I heartily concur in what all other members have said about the efficiency and the never failing courtesy and co-operation of members of the Library staff. Without their ever-ready assistance many of us members would be in grave difficulties. But I have a feeling that this Parliamentary Library lacks something, and I just do not know what it is. I know that in recent times the Library Committee itself has done a very good job. Many improvements have been effected and I know that improvements will be effected in the future. I know some of the difficulties that the members of the Library staff have to work under, such as limitations of space and considerable staff wastage. These are problems which never seem to disappear. But I do not know just exactly what it is that is missing from the Library. It appears to me to function rather as an appendage of the National Library than as a library exclusively for the benefit of the Parliament. When the National Library Committee was established the division between that body and the Parliamentary Library Committee was clearly defined and the two committees worked quite separately. I believe that this Library could function in a more effective way than it is functioning at present, and that if it functioned exclusively as a parliamentary library it would be more efficient.
I want to refer also to the Privileges Committee. I hope that at some future date this House will review the Standing Orders covering the operations of the Privileges Committee. I do not want to see another episode in this House such as that which we saw some years ago when Fitzpatrick and Browne were brought before the bar of the House. I do not know how any body of men can justify passing sentence on an accused person when those men have not heard evidence or had the advantage of seeing witnesses under cross-examination. Personally I would never like to be in the position of having to do so, but that is what this Parliament can do and it is precisely what it did in the case of Fitzpatrick and Browne.
A few weeks ago another breach of privilege occurred. The Committee that inquired into the matter naturally had the benefit of hearing evidence. Unfortunately, however, under the existing Standing Orders all that the Committee can do is to say that a certain person is either guilty or not guilty of a breach of privilege. The question of punishment is one for this House. As I have said, the Committee has the benefit of seeing people give evidence and being crossexamined. It is able to evaluate the evidence and should be in a good position to make a decision. While I do not suggest that the Committee should have the absolute right to pass a firm sentence, I believe it is in a position to make recommendations to the House, and that this would be better than leaving the matter of sentence entirely to the House, as was the case when Browne and Fitzpatrick came before us. While those persons were guilty of a breach of privilege, the manner in which they were sentenced to prison in my opinion represented one of the outstanding blots on the history of this Parliament.
Finally I have a few comments to make on the Standing Orders. During the last 20 years the Standing Orders have been amended, sometimes, but not always, with benefit and advantage to members. While certain improvements have taken place there seems to have been an ever-present tendency to curtail the rights of members. As a result of constant revision and alteration we are today, in .my opinion, setting up too many sacred cows. In this House at one time members could criticise the judiciary, although they were given that privilege only once in every three years. That was when a new Parliament assembled and a Speaker was being elected. On such an occasion a member of Parliament could get up and speak about anything and criticise anybody. He could speak for as long as he liked. This, of course, resulted in many filibusters, the privilege was abused and ultimately it was removed. I think that we have missed something as a result. The most important requirement to my mind is maintenance of the utmost freedom of speech for members at all times, and anything that tends in any way to curtail that right to freedom of speech will always be opposed by me.
.- -The subject of this debate is something that has always been very close to my heart. Having spent more than 25 years in Parliament, half that time on the Government benches and half on the Opposition benches, I have naturally given thought to the matters that we are now dealing with. Indeed, I spoke in this House on 1st September of this year on this subject, and what I said is recorded at page 692 of “Hansard”. Then 1 had the privilege of writing an article for the “ Canberra Times “ of 28th September 1965, which was followed by other articles by other people.
Many sensible things have been said, and many other things of less utility, in the course of this debate. We have heard a great range of prescriptions. Most speakers have agreed that the Parliament is not functioning as well as it should. Some have been highly critical, others less critical. The prescriptions ranged from that put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who expressed himself as being personally in favour of the American Congressional system, to other proposals affecting the sitting hours or sitting days of the House, the length of speeches, quorums, the leadership of the House and other matters
The Congressional system has many things to be said for it. For example, the President can choose the members of his Ministry from the whole of the community, and obviously he can get much better qualified Ministers than it is possible to get under our parliamentary system. On the other hand, the power of Congress and the legislature is much greater under that system than is the power of the Parliament under our system. Many have claimed that the powers of Congress unduly hamper the Executive in the United States, and one has to remember that the party system of that country is very different from ours. Nevertheless 1 would agree with the Leader of the Opposition in broad principle; but a change to the Congressional system is not practicable in the foreseeable future and so I will not spend my time in discussing it.
I believe that the various suggestions about sitting days and sitting hours, quorums and so on, while some of them may be useful in themselves, do not really go to the root of the matter. I think the malady is much more serious than that. What are the functions of Parliament? I suggest that there are two major functions. The first one is what I would call simply the constituency work, the redressing of grievances and the seeking of justice for individual constituents. 1 leave aside the question of the desirability or otherwise of an ombudsman, although I would not dismiss it as lightly as did the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). There are some occasions, such as when the examination of documents in depth is involved, which is beyond the range of honorable members of this Parliament, when some kind of ombudsman might be desirable, but I do not want to discuss the general question of an ombudsman now.
The other great branch of our work, other than the constituency work, is the deliberative work of Parliament. This also, I think, falls into two classes. The first is the critical scrutiny of measures brought before the House and administrative policies pursued by the Government, and the influencing of changes in policy and the initiation of fresh policies. The second point in connection with the deliberative function is that Parliament should be the forum and focus for great national issues. One has only to look at the newspapers on any day of the week when Parliament is sitting to realise how much public opinion is formed and affected by matters coming before this House. It is in its very nature a focus and a forum for national issues, but too seldom we hear the great national issues discussed and too often we deal with bits and pieces without focussing the great issues. This is a matter of the failure of organisation and of members themselves.
I pass on now, Sir, to deal with the organisation and facilities that should be available to the Parliament to enable it to perform its functions as I have defined them. Much has been said of late about parliamentary committees. Some honorable members have supported the idea that there should be more committees. Others have condemned it. It has been suggested that we ought to have an estimates committee. This proposal has been opposed by the present Chairman of the Public Account Committee and the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). It has been suggested that we ought to have a committee to deal with the nationalised industries, as they may be called - those involving the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, the Australian Broadcasting Commission and some aspects of transport. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) suggested that there should be a tariff committee. Indeed, there already is one, but the president, secretary and quorum all are comprised by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). He might like some assistance.
Finally - and perhaps this is very important indeed - it has been suggested that there ought to be more select committees and possibly a standing committee to which some bills could be referred at the Committee stage. It occurs to me, for example, that there has been some discussion about the construction of a dam on the Ord River. This Parliament should not be asked to pass legislation about that proposal without a select committee first being appointed to inquire into the highly controversial matters that have been raised concerning that project. Other examples could be given, but I have not time to go into them now.
Committees have been condemned on the basis that too often the reports of select committees have been ignored. The Constitutional Review Committee, for instance, and also the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television and one or two other committees have been mentioned. The most recent and most important one, though it is not a parliamentary committee but was appointed by the Government, is the Committee of Economic Inquiry, which is commonly known as the Vernon Committee. It is important that when a committee has considered a matter and reached conclusions, the Government should pay some attention to those conclusions. But this does not represent the only value of committees. They can elicit a tremendous amount of information that is of immense value to members of the Parliament in appraising policies related to the subject matter. I believe that even if the conclusions of committees are not adopted by the Government in toto, not adopted even in part or not adopted immediately, committees nevertheless have some effect. Their main value may well be said to be educative, because, the more members of the Parliament are brought into contact with officials, the more they understand the problems involved and the more they know about the subject matter of the inquiry, the better they are able to scrutinise measures brought before the Parliament and administrative policies pursued by the Government, and the more effective they are in discharging their function of advocating new policies or changes in old ones.
I have suggested the appointment of committees of the kind established in the United Kingdom House of Commons, the reason being that there has been some experience of those committees. Their charters are known and there is some possibility that a government might be willing to proceed, not by a leap in the dark, but along paths which have already been trodden and which could achieve something of the purpose that I have already mentioned. We in Canberra, of course, have our own special difficulties that flow from the location of the National Capital in a remote part away from the principal cities, especially the State capital cities, and far removed from the electorates of many honorable members. We in this Parliament are limited in numbers. The time that we can spend in Canberra is limited by geography. But, on the other hand, considerable time is available to members, and is often used by them, for meetings of party committees during the long winter recess. This time could still be used for parliamentary committee work.
Without being dogmatic about what additional committees might be established, limited in number though they might be because the numbers in this Parliament are limited, I believe that this is a fitting subject for consideration by a joint select committee of the Parliament. I suggest that this ought to be a high power, influential committee appointed to inquire into the possibility of establishing more committees and to consider what the charters of such committees should be. I shall not be dogmatic about this, Sir, but I point out that many honorable members on both sides of the chamber are under the impression that party committees can achieve much the same purposes as parliamentary committees. This is simply not true. Having spent half my political life in opposition, I know that on the government side of a parliament, it is possible to get the co-operation of Ministers, who can arrange for officers of their departments to appear before party committees. I know that those who are in opposition are greatly hampered in this respect. Therefore, it is not true to say that party committees, though they are very valuable indeed, are the complete answer. Not more than half a dozen of my friends on this side of the chamber have sat in opposition in this Parliament, but I think that many in the Parliament will realise the weakness of the party committee system for those who are in opposition.
I have already spoken about the functions of committees. Speaking still about the facilities needed to enable members to be well informed, I should like to say something about the Parliamentary Library. What I have to say constitutes no criticism of the Library staff. Indeed, my purpose is quite the reverse. If we do not get the service we need, this is because we do not have an adequate establishment and lack the determination to see that we get it. When I was in Washington two years ago, I talked to Dr. Elsbree, head of the Legislative Reference Section of the Library of Congress. I propose simply to read a few brief notes that I made at the time. They state -
Any member of Congress can ask for material and can indicate with greater or less accuracy the nature of the material he requires; and where there is a general interest in a subject matter a general document is frequently roneoed or printed. The Library will provide bibliographies, a selection of marked places in books and other publications, will marshal pros and cons on a given issue, prepare briefs in the form of draft statements. This last comes very close to preparing a speech for the member for Congress. . . . The safeguards against the Congressman’s simply delivering a speech prepared by another hand and mind are, firstly, that if the speech is wildly improbable from such a man he will be discovered by his constituents and become a laughing stock . . . and secondly, a committee of Congress working with the Principal Librarian keeps an eye on this kind of development. . . . The staff is drawn from such sources as lawyers, journalists, economists, political scientists and academics generally.
There are about 250 on the staff of the Legislative Reference Section. My notes continue -
The reason for the development of the service is the increasing responsibilities of the central government in modern conditions. The kind of material required is less detailed and technical than that required by government departments, but where it is not of a confidential nature the officials will make material that they have collected available on request to the Library.
An American diplomat whom I met in Africa, and who had had experience in the State Department, told me that if privilege is claimed by the Executive on account of the alleged confidential nature of its information, this can be denied to a Congressional Committee only on top authority - that is, on the authority of the President. I have given just a brief account of the way in which the Legislative Reference Section of the Library of Congress in Washington works. It seems perfectly obvious to me that - on a far more modest scale, of course - we should do the same here to ensure that members of the Parliament are properly informed.
I know that some honorable members, like my friend, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), consider this to be quite unnecessary. The honorable member has achieved considerable results through committees and through amendments made in this chamber. Perhaps it is not entirely factual to say that he is a universal genius, but if his I.Q. were tested he would be in the genius class. All honorable members are not geniuses. That may seem to be an understatement. However, it is necessary that members of the Parliament have aids that may be unnecessary to the honorable member for Mackellar. So I believe that the Parliamentary Library should be strengthened tremendously in this respect, and it is for the legislature to say that this shall be done. There is a disposition on the part of the Executive to regard the Parliament as being just a minor government department. This it is not. There are three divisions of government - the executive, the legislature and the judicature. The legislature - this Parliament - is not simply a minor department of government. It is entitled to have information; it is entitled to have the machinery that produces it and should insist upon having it.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed expenditure, £23,260,000.
– I move -
That the proposed expenditure for the Prime Minister’s Department be reduced by £1.
As an instruction to the Government -
To conduct an inquiry into all aspects of primary, secondary and technical education and to accept the Martin Committee’s recommendations on Teacher Education.
Already the Commonwealth has conducted inquiries into university and other forms of tertiary education. The reports of the Murray, Martin and Currie Committees provide invaluable information and guide lines for educational policy at these higher levels in Australia and in the Territory of
Papua and New Guinea. Nobody suggested that in Australia the various States possessed all the information that was required to institute proper policies and that a Commonwealth inquiry was superfluous. Equally, I believe, a Commonwealth conducted inquiry into primary, secondary and sub-diploma level technical education could provide a most useful national assessment of our needs in these important spheres. We would then have something Australia has never had before - a comprehensive view and assessment of its overall educational structure and performances.
Another point in favour of such an inquiry would be that it would include the non-State schools. Despite the increasing involvement of both State and Commonwealth Parliaments in this sphere, we have an extremely small amount of information available. Whatever broad policies we ultimately adopt concerning private schools, at least they ought to be based on far more factual information and far less prejudice than has been the case up to now. The purpose of an inquiry is as much to inform the public as it is to inform the Parliament. From the political viewpoint the public has to be persuaded to accept higher taxation to meet educational needs. The Commonwealth being the taxing authority, it is appropriate that it should give the leadership and gather the evidence.
Such a national inquiry would, I suggest, need to look at specific aspects, ten of which I shall name. The first is the comparatively small proportion of Australia’s national wealth that is devoted to education, as compared with other countries. The second is the appallingly small amount of educational research carried on in this country - the cost is about one-sixth per cent, of our revenue, and I shall elaborate on that later. The third aspect is the serious threat to education at all levels if the Commonwealth persists in its failure to accept the Martin Committee’s recommendations for improving the number and quality of teachers. The fourth is the continued serious shortage of decent classrooms, assembly halls. libraries, gymnasia and educational equipment.
The fifth aspect is, I think, very appropriate to a national inquiry. It is the jarring lack of co-ordination and co-operation between the various State systems of educa tion and between the different levels of education within any one State system. The sixth is the growing inequality of educational opportunity through increasing reliance on private coaching and on financial contributions from parents and parent and citizen associations for the purchase of important school requisites. I suggest that particular attention ought to be given to the social inequity of government subsidies for libraries, swimming pools, assembly halls and the like being related to the financial contribution able to be afforded by the local community concerned.
The seventh aspect is the inefficiency, inequity and lack of consistent principle in the administration of the various indequate Commonwealth and State scholarship schemes. Why, for instance, were only 292, or 31 per cent., of the 944 available Commonwealth technical scholarships actually allotted in New South Wales this year? And why does Senator Gorton, the appropriate Minister, expect - I refer to a letter I received from him - that it will be “ some years “ before the full entitlement to technical scholarships will be taken up? Why is it that the Commonwealth imposes a rigid means test on its university and advanced education scholarship living allowances but imposes no means test on its senior secondary scholarship living allowance? The eighth aspect for inquiry is the grossly inadequate public provision of educational facilities for the physically and mentally handicapped, as well as for pre-school children; and the ninth is the great aid that would be afforded by the establishment of educational television stations if only the Commonwealth could make up its mind on the Weedon Committee report which it received over six months ago.
Finally a national inquiry should consider the contraction and threatened breakdown of trade apprenticeship training. Consideration should be given to the introduction of a Commonwealth wide apprenticeship scheme. The Vernon Committee’s report, at page 438, states, inter aiia -
The best available estimates suggest that the proportion of young people going into apprenticeship is below what it was ten years ago.
Despite this great and vastly increasing need for more education there seems to be markedly inadequate facilities at all levels to meet the need. In 1961 and again in 1963 the Commonwealth Government was presented, on behalf of all State Premiers and State Ministers for Education, with a clearly and comprehensively documented account of major deficiencies in the Australian public education system. The shortages instanced were of school buildings, adequately trained teachers, equipment and supplies. The Premiers estimated that even in this limited part of the educational enterprise an extra £98 million would be needed over the next four years for capital expenditure in primary, secondary and technical education, and teacher education. In addition, they said that to meet recurrent needs and running costs an extra £21 million would have to be added initially to current expenditure and thereafter a further increase of £8,250,000 per annum would be needed.
The Premiers indicated that they were quite unable to provide anything like that kind of money. Accordingly they asked the Commonwealth to regard the problem as a national one and to make special additional grants to the States for these purposes. Significantly they also asked the Commonwealth to establish a committee to investigate and make an up to date assessment on a national basis of the needs of primary, secondary and technical education as a basis for long term assistance. Plainly the Commonwealth has substantially rejected this request for a national approach to the problem. No national inquiry into the needs of education at these levels has been undertaken. Some quite limited Commonwealth aid, amounting to £3,750,000 in a year for State schools has been granted for science laboratories and facilities, and £5,000,000 has been granted for technical education, apart from the new provisions now to be made for higher technical education.
Commonwealth technical and secondary scholarships have been made available but, whilst this is helpful to students, it does not necessarily help the educational authorities. In fact, by enabling more students to stay longer at school it only aggravates their problems. Bad as I feel this failure by the Commonwealth to take responsible action has been, I do not regard it as the Commonwealth’s worst educational decision. The prize for that must go to its absolutely calamitous decision to reject entirely the Martin Committee’s very sensible and progressive recommendations on teacher educa- tion. Some of my colleagues will elaborate on that aspect of the matter, but let me make these few points: The autonomous boards of teacher education proposed by the Committee would do much to promote the professional status of teachers. By untying the close link between teacher training and the State Departments of Education - the main employing authorities - our whole education system would be made far less inbred and static than it is.
The proposal for open recruitment of lecturers for teacher education would also ensure greater variety and enrichment. Under this proposal, lecturers in teachers colleges could be recruited from private as well as public spheres of education. Like the universities, they could seek lecturing talent from interstate and overseas. There would also be the liberalising effect of having other types of courses being conducted at these institutions, as well as teacher education.
The most urgent message of the Martin Committee, however, was the warning that we badly need many more and better qualified teachers than we have for both public and private schools, to say nothing of the new expansion of tertiary and university education. In 1963, the State Ministers of Education warned that an extra 6,000 teachers were needed in government schools alone. The Martin Committee calculated that there would need to be an increase of 72 per cent, in the number of teachers available in government schools between 1964 and 1975. That is an increase of 47,000 teachers within 11 years. That is quite a number. It said that a similar proportionate increase would be needed also in private schools. Additionally, the Committee urged that an immediate start be made on a policy of a minimum training period of three years for all teachers. This is the policy that is adopted in England and is proposed in New Zealand and other countries. The Committee also urged that this programme should be implemented by 1971. It further warned that, in terms of school intake and the availability of potential teacher trainees, the period to 1972 offered the best opportunity to introduce the three years minimum training. The least disruption would be involved. If we miss this opportunity, it warned, it will be a long time before we get a similar opportunity. Thanks to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert
Menzies) and his Government, it now seems certain that we are to forfeit this opportunity.
The Committee recommended necessary Commonwealth financial support for the project. It recommended the amount of £li million as an interim capital grant and from 1967 onwards it suggested £1 for £1 capital grants and £1 for every £1.85 provided by the States as grants for recurrent expenses. In one cool, deadly blow, the Prime Minister on 24th March 1965 said -
Important as this field is, the Commonwealth is not .prepared to enter it
Later he added, for good measure -
It follows, also, that we have not accepted the Committee’s proposals for a separate scheme of scholarships for teachers college students.
As a final seal of doom on the teacher education proposals, the Prime Minister rejected the Committee’s recommendation for the enlargement of the Australian Universities Commission into an Australian tertiary education commission charged with rh rational development of all forms of tertiary education, including university, technological and teacher education. It must now be increasingly obvious to the Government that, first, without Federal aid the States are quite unable to cope with the teacher education problems and, secondly, without the implementation of the programme, much of our present expenditure at all levels of education will be seriously undermined.
Of the many instances of current serious teacher shortages that I could mention, let me quote this extract from the “Australian” of 9th September last. Under the heading “ Hundreds will be turned away - Too few teachers “, the newspaper reported
A severe shortage of staff and accommodation will force the New South Wales Department of Technical Education to turn away hundreds of applicants for diploma and certificate courses next year. Mr. R. E. Dunbar, Director of Technical Education in New South Wales said colleges throughout New South Wales would be unable to cope with the demands for courses next year. Strict quotas would apply to six of the eight courses offered by the new Institute of Technology in Sydney.
I merely add that a survey reported in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 29th June showed that the New South Wales primary schools need at least 1,600 teachers. In practically all Australian States, less than half our secondary teachers have the very necessary qualification of university graduate. In New South Wales, the figure is about 44 per cent. In Victoria it is somewhat less and the other States are also well behind the requirement. I just shudder to think of the cost to this nation and to its young people if the Commonwealth persists in its crazy refusal to help in the task of educating many more and better teachers.
My time is almost exhausted. I wanted to stress the need for continued research. I am not dealing here with the setting up of a committee of inquiry; what is really needed in Australia is continuing research. Recent surveys have shown that Australia spends an appallingly small amount on research into education. Dr. Radford, Director of the Australian Council for Educational Research, estimates that probably at present in Australia the equivalent of the time of about 150 full time research persons with professional training is being used in research into education. He also calculates that they probably have the support of about the equivalent number - 150 - of clerical, technical and teacher assistants. In total, then, it seems, according to Dr. Radford, that something less than £500,000 is spent annually on educational research in a total educational budget of about £300 million and that 150 persons or thereabouts service an administrative and teaching force in schools, universities and elsewhere of something like 100,000 persons.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We are dealing now with the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. I have seen the demand crudely expressed in the sensational Press that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) ought to say when he will retire. I think one can give voice to another kind of demand and that is that the Prime Minister should stay on in his present position for as long as he feels able to do so, and I think it is pretty easy to make a case for him doing so. An honorable member here makes a comment just as crudely expressed as some others that I have heard. In reply to it I would say that I have not been known as one who blindly follows any directions. I think I have been able to analyse critically most of the actions of the Government and some people have been unkind enough to say that I am a rebel. With this I do not agree. When the Government had a majority of one in this place, every honorable member on this side was in his position. We kept the Government in power. We have heard a lot of waffle about the functions of Parliament. Is not the transcendent function of Parliament that of keeping the government of the day in power? What is important ‘is not what happens to members of the Parliament or to debates; it is that the parties that have one more member than the other side has should keep the Government in power. That is the chief function of the Parliament. All the rest of it is just an academic examination that delights certain intellectuals, but not the people who have their hands on the sinews of power.
While the Prime Minister has been in office, a certain kind of ideological thinking has controlled the affairs of Australia, and some pretty good results have flowed from this. Since 1949 the Prime Minister has been able to convince the electorate that this Government should be returned to office. This has meant that we have had a predominantly private enterprise community with a high degree of home ownership and an appreciation of human rights and values. I think that the Prime Minister himself - I speak as one who has been called a rebel - has been the unchallenged leader, with a superb mastery of Parliament. Because of this, he has given Australia political and economic stability. He led this Government into office and defeated the Socialists in 1949. He narrowly defeated them in 1954, when he had a majority of some four members and 600 votes, and in 1961. They were important elections; they were the elections that kept the Socialists out of office. If the Socialists had come into power and the Prime Minister had not led to victory the parties now on this side of the chamber, we would have been firmly on the way to Socialism and, perhaps, to something even worse which one is not allowed to mention here without causing an uproar. What has this meant to Australia? We have achieved an affluent society and, with it, enormous development. The average wage in Australia in this period has increased three times. There has been an increase of 200 per cent., or slightly more, in the average annual earnings. The price index in this time has risen slightly more than 100 per cent. - from 60.9 to 132. Whereas the average wage was £9 5s. in 1949, today it is £28 16s., but with that escalation the extra cost of living has been only another £9. Although average earnings have increased by 200 per cent., costs have increased only by about 100 per cent. This has meant that Australia has had the highest average savings in the world and the highest average investment. This was stated a few days ago by Sir Roland Wilson.
– Order! I suggest to the honorable member that the subject matter with which he is dealing at the moment is not relevant to the Prime Minister’s Department which is under consideration by the Committee at the moment. Certain matters mentioned by the honorable member are more relevant to the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of the Treasury and should be dealt with when we are debating the estimates of those departments.
– May I discuss the Prime Minister while we are considering the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department? The Prime Minister has created with his leadership a certain set of circumstances within Australia and externally. Australia’s prestige has gone up under our present Prime Minister ‘because he has had continuity in office and because he has shown great integrity in his behaviour, both within and outside Australia. The image that he has displayed has had the following of the people of Australia to a marked degree and he now has an increased following. Under this Prime Minister, Australia not only has progressed internally but has attracted from outside a great number of-
– Order! I rule that the remarks of the honorable member are not relevant to the subject under discussion by the Committee at the moment. The subject for consideration by the Committee is the administration of the Prime Minister’s Department.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) as an instruction to the Government to conduct an inquiry into all aspects of primary, secondary and technical education and to accept the Martin Committee’s recommendations on teacher education.
The motion is in similar terms to resolutions which the Australian Labour Party moved in the House in 1960 and in every subsequent year. A succession of excuses has been given by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) for refusing to hold such an inquiry. He used to say that the Commonwealth held an inquiry into universities because the States had asked for it and that it refused to hold one into primary, secondary and technical aspects of education because the States had not asked for it. When one of the Premiers, at a conference between the Premiers and the Prime Minister, asked for such an inquiry the Prime Minister’s excuse was that not all Premiers had asked for it. When in 1961 and at a special conference in February 1963 all Premiers asked for an inquiry his excuse was twofold. He said, first, that it would open up another field of financial responsibility for the Commonwealth and, secondly, that other inquiries were in train. When the honorable member for Barton asked the Prime Minister whether he had replied to the request of the State Premiers made at the 1961 Premiers’ Conference for an immediate special financial grant to the States for the purposes of primary, secondary and technical education and a national inquiry into the long term needs of these levels of education, he stated, on 26th October 1961 - . . we established a committee to study and report on the future pattern of tertiary education in this country. Future action should obviously await receipt and consideration of the findings of this committee.
It is over a year now since the principal findings of this committee were received. Therefore, this excuse, in turn, falls by the wayside.
Altogether there have been eight inquiries by this Government into education. In March 1950, a committee of inquiry under Professor Mills was set up to formulate a policy of assistance for Australian universities; it reported in August 1950. In December 1956 the Murray Committee was set up to make the fuller investigation envisaged in the report of the Mills Committee; it reported in September 1957. In December 1959 the first committee under the chairmanship of Sir Leslie Martin was set up to ascertain the capital needs of universities for their teaching hospitals; its first report was received in October 1961 and the second last May. In June 1960 a further Martin Committee was set up to investigate university salaries and related matters; it reported in the following January. In August 1961 a third Martin Committee was set up to investigate and report on the future of tertiary education in Australia. The Committee reported in September last year and the last part of its report was delivered in August this year. In February 1963 a commission under the chairmanship of Sir George Currie was called on to report on higher education in Papua and New Guinea; it reported in March 1964. In January 1964 the Weedon Committee was set up to report on educational television services in Australia; it reported last December. In May 1964 Mr. Justice Eggleston was appointed to inquire into academic salaries; he reported in the following October. Every committee has now made its report and all reports, except the one on television services, have been made public. Why, then, can there not be an inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education?
The Government relies on outside committees and there is no continuing study. It should be able to rely on the Commonwealth Office of Education which was set up in 1945 to carry out a variety of functions. Two particular functions which it was to perform were to establish and maintain a liaison on matters relating to education with other countries and the States and to advise the Minister concerning the grant of financial assistance to the States and to other authorities for educational purposes, lt is clear that the Chifley Government intended the Commonwealth Office of Education to investigate and co-ordinate, so far as the Commonwealth could provide statistics, staff and finance, all the educational facilities in Australia - State, Territory and non-governmental. In 1951 the Government reduced the staff of this office from 372 persons to 159. A year ago the staff was still only 184 persons. Whenever an educational crisis develops now in a field which the Prime Minister accepts, a committee of outside experts is set up. They are all busy men in their own fields and a lengthy delay follows, even before they can report. When they do report, as happened with the last Martin Committee, many of the recommendations are rejected. This has glaringly been the case with the Martin Committee’s recommendations on teacher training.
The Martin Committee had to draw an artificial distinction on technical education between the secondary and tertiary levels. It cannot be criticised for making this distinction because its terms of reference excluded primary and, particularly, secondary education. The committee reported that tertiary education cannot be considered in isolation from the general problems of education. It said that the quality of education depends critically on sound and stimulating secondary education. The Committee reported in 1963 that only 12 per cent, of the population in the age group from 17 to 22 years were tertiary students. The 88 per cent, of the population in that age group who were not undertaking tertiary education obviously comprise the great area of education which needs strengthening.
On 23rd September last the Prime Minister gave the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) an estimate that between 1958 and 1963 the full time students of 15 years of age had risen from 53 per cent, to 65 per cent, of the population, of 16 years of age from 26 per cent, to 37 per cent., of 17 years of age from 16 per cent. to 23 per cent., of 18 years of age from 9 per cent, to 12 per cent., and from 19 years of age from 7 per cent, to 8 per cent. Taking the whole group between 15 and 19 years of age, between 1958 and 1963 the percentage of full time students had risen from 23 per cent, to 31 per cent, of the population. Quite clearly the number of people requiring education is greatly increasing. We all know, furthermore, that the amount of education which people require is constantly increasing as well.
One of the principal reasons why the Prime Minister has resisted the investigation and extension of Commonwealth financial aid to schools has been his desire to avoid involvement on the issue of State aid. This was satisfactory while there was a conspiracy of silence on this matter between all parties represented in the House. There was no reference to primary, secondary or technical education or to public or private institutions in the platform of the Liberal Party of Australia. By contrast in successive documents issued by the Australian Labour Party these matters have been the subject of pronouncements and at our conferences they have been the subject of debate. There may be some irony in that in 1963 the Prime Minister made a proposal for State aid by the Commonwealth in the form of science laboratories and science equipment which the New South Wales Conference of the Labour Party had proposed earlier that year, and which the Federal Conference of the Labour Party had banned. The Federal Conferences in 1951, 1953 and 1955 were in favour of much more comprehensive forms of Commonwealth assistance to private as well as State schools. The Prime Minister in 1960 told the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) that assistance to denominational schools in the States was outside the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. At an election meeting at Wagga in November 1961 he said that his Government would not grant it. He is, however, as much entitled to change his mind as the Labour Party has been and still is.
Since the proposal for an inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education and teacher training was last discussed in the Estimates debate two years ago, there have been great changes in the attitude towards government aid for private schools. In the United States of America, the greatest Federal system, new initiatives have been taken and they have been made legislatively in a very quick and effective fashion, as is characteristic of the record of Congress during the presidency of President Johnson. In this country, too, there has been a change. I invite honorable members to compare the answer which the Prime Minister gave on 18th August of last year with that which he gave on 12th October of this year to the honorable member for Barton. No student of education in this country can afford to overlook the questions which the honorable member asks and the answers which the Prime Minister gives to him. On comparing these particular answers it is plain that over the last year there has been a great advance in aid given by the States. The Commonwealth’s reimbursement of interest on capital borrowed for the construction and extension of school buildings in the Australian Capital Territory has risen from £1,456 in 1957-58, which was the first year it was granted, to £91,754 last year, and there is an appropriation for £120,000 in the estimates which we are at present discussing. The Prime Minister has now told the honorable member for Barton that this year in New South Wales there is an appropriation of £100,000 for interest payments on all private school construction, in Victoria an appropriation of £25,000 for interest payments on private secondary schools, and in Western Australia an unlimited appropriation for interest payments on the construction of residential accommodation at private schools.
It is quite clear that there ‘has been a very great change by the Commonwealth and by the States on this subject. It is clearly a matter upon which there ought to be an inquiry by the Commonwealth, if there is to be a fair and efficient allocation of public funds for education. As I have said, for the last six years my Party has called in this Parliament for such an inquiry. At the elections in 1954, 1958, 1961 and 1963 the party has promised such an inquiry. Our Federal Conferences have called for such an inquiry. The State Conference in Victoria last year recommended an inquiry into the claims for assistance by private schools.
Because of some inefficient reporting by the newspapers - 4he Sydney “ Daily Telegraph”, for instance, did not report it at all, and the other newspapers referred to fringe benefits only - it is well to state for the record that the Federal Conference of the Labour Party two months ago laid down that no benefit which is currently established should be disturbed. Accordingly, any speculation that the Labour Party in this Parliament will oppose the provision of science blocks in private schools or any of the forms of government aid granted in the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Papua and New Guinea, that in the State parliaments it will oppose the payment of interest or the sharing of facilities, as happens in Tasmania, or grants to mission schools, as happens in South Australia, is quite misplaced. It is perfectly open for .the ‘Labour Party in any parliament to support or to introduce in respect of a State or a territory any benefit of a character which is currently established in any other State or territory.
The main thing is, however, that there should be knowledge on these matters and that we should seek the facts. There is too much ignorance of the amount of staff required, the amount of equipment required and the amount of accommodation required in the schools in the various States and in the schools of the different denominations and, in fact, in the schools of the same denomination. It is in order to provide a sound basis for concerted national education policies and to promote a greater and better informed public understanding and appreciation of educational matters, to quote the 1963 Conference of the Labour Party, that we again urge this inquiry which, in the words of the Conference, should investigate, among other things, educational finance and administration; the training of teachers; the quality and the supply of school text books; the teaching of science at schools; and technical education, viewed as a whole.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Ohe would assume, after nearing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), that they are quite happy about the standards of education in Australian universities, and because there is nothing in that respect to engage their activity or study, they have turned their minds solely towards primary and secondary education, which they know full well is not within the jurisdiction of this Parliament. One wonders whether they are sincere in this proposal or whether they are putting it forward for political purposes.
– Primary and secondary education are as much a function of this Parliament as is university education.
– Responsibility for primary and secondary education is at present the prerogative of the State Governments, as is the administration of the State police and the construction of roads. I know that these honorable gentlemen wish that the State Governments could be done away with, but while we have the State Governments and while they have this responsibility in education, we must look at our own peculiar responsibilities in the education field. The Federal Government has entered principally into one field of education, that is, tertiary education and in particular university education. In the past I have been critical of universities, but I have tried to be constructive in my criticism. Today
I would like to pursue that criticism a stage further. Last April, in the debate on the report of the Martin Committee, 1 was critical of the Committee. Volume III of that report, which was tabled yesterday - like other honorable members I have not yet had time to digest it properly - seems to repeat some of the faults that were contained in the earlier two volumes. It is an extremely difficult document to read. Its conclusions and recommendations are confused with a mass of other information, valuable though it is. I was anxious to get my hands on this document, because it deals with research in the humanities. This is a subject that I was critical about in the earlier debate. But I am very disappointed with the job done by the Committee on this subject. In the earlier debate I expressed my disappointment that although the Committee met for almost four years, in its report it did not touch upon two matters concerning universities which, in my opinion, were relevant matters for the Committee to deal with.
The first matter related to the funds received by the universities in the form of revenue. I asked whether those funds were being spent wisely. We know that universities receive revenue of about £50 million a year. There is nothing in the Martin Committee’s report to indicate that the Committee addressed itself to this matter. This would seem to be a great oversight on the Committee’s part.
A second and even more important question which I think the Committee could have asked was: Consistent with preserving the very high standard of Australian universities, is the full capacity of the universities being utilised? I do not know whether it is. I know that not one member of this Parliament can say with any degree of certainty that the full capacity of Australian universities is being utilised. The honorable member for Barton, who has taken a very keen interest in education, continually bemoans the fact that Australian universities apply quota restrictions - that Australian children who have matriculated cannot get into universities. I agree with him on this point. The more he directs attention to this unsatisfactory state of affairs the better, and I will support his endeavours, but I would have thought that we could more profitably address our minds to the root of the problem. Before we demand more money from the Commonwealth for the erection of new universities we should see whether the present universities are being used fully. This is elementary logic.
Before dealing with this aspect may I refer to the matriculation examination, which has been discussed publicly and at great length recently. Many students who pass the matriculation examination cannot obtain entrance to a university. This is a serious situation. Parents rightly believe that, next to raising their children with a sense of morality, the most precious thing they can give them is a higher education. Because of the rapid rise in the standard of living in this country and the technological progress that has been made, the demands on a young man or woman to obtain a position in the professions, in industry or in commerce are higher today than they have ever been. This is why we have this greater demand for university accommodation.
Why are people who seek admission to universities unable to obtain it? Putting that question aside for the moment, let us look at the other side of the picture. Here we find what appears on the surface to be an incongruity between the great number of students who pass the matriculation examination but who cannot get into a university and the high failure rate at universities in the first year. These two things - the number of people unable to enter university and the number who fail in the first year - contradict each other because if it is too easy to get into a university, why is the standard not raised? I am informed that in the humanities the average failure rate in the first year at university is more than 30 per cent. In other words, almost every third person who enters a university fails in the first year. In the sciences the failure rate is even higher. Is this simply a matter of the people who fail not having the intellectual capacity to undertake a university course? I am not satisfied that this is the conclusion to be drawn.
– The fault lies with the secondary schools.
– That may be so. Is the answer that in the later years in secondary schools the new philosophy of learning demanded of a student in a university is not taught? Is this the reason for the high failure rate in first year at universities? Leaving aside the matter of technical quality, I ask: Are the secondary schools wrong in their approach and concept? Or is the simple answer that one out of every three children who pass the matriculation examination should not have been allowed to enter university anyway? This is another matter which I think the Martin Committee could have investigated and on which it could have arrived at some conclusions in order to assist those of us who must deal in this place with these matters which affect families throughout Australia. For my part 1 am still groping in the dark on this important matter.
I spoke recently with the chancellor of an overseas university. I asked him about failure rates. He looked at me as if he did not know what a failure rate was. This is because at his university, which is very well known, there is no such thing as a failure rate. The matriculation standard is so high that anyone who passes is certain to graduate from university. But this is certainly not a system that I would like to see introduced in Australia.
I am disappointed that the Martin Committee did not inquire whether universities were being used to their fullest extent. Notwithstanding the introduction of intermediate colleges, there is no doubt that with an expanding population and the ever higher standards demanded of people entering the professions, we will need further capacity at universities in the future. I recently made a survey of the academic years at four of our largest universities and I discovered that they amounted to 32 weeks, 26 weeks, 28 weeks and 27 weeks respectively. At all of them the day began at 9 a.m. and concluded on an average at 9 p.m. with a lunch break of one hour. Three of the four apply quota restrictions. In other words, those three have said that although a child has reached the standard set by the university for entrance, that child cannot be admitted because there is no room.
Here is a question that I would like to have answered: Why could not at least some of these universities begin at 7 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.? Seven o’clock in the morning is not an extraordinary hour for a place of learning to open. Why could they not go until 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.? Ten o’clock is not a very late hour. Why has the whole university to stop for one hour for lunch? If a university started two hours earlier in the morning, went one hour later in the evening and worked through the lunch hour, its capacity would be increased by 40 per cent, straightaway.
– If it had the staff.
– I am not saying that it is simple to do this. Enormous administrative problems are associated with extending the time for only one or two hours. I am not suggesting for one moment that additional staff would not be needed. But bricks and mortar are extraordinarily expensive. We have this unused capacity at Australian universities at the present time. There may well be some very good reasons why the hours cannot be extended. But the Martin Committee, in four years of investigation, did not think the problem was important enough for inquiry. I wish that somebody or some organisation could do some work on this matter in order to advise this Parliament.
In the speech that I made in April I was critical of the apparent lack of real research in the field of the humanities in Australia. Somehow or other, my speech was quoted rather extensively throughout Australia. It was quoted accurately, but necessarily out of context. It brought forward some interesting replies from academics throughout the nation. Some criticised me, saying that an enormous amount of research was done in the field of the humanities. A great number of people complimented me, saying that I was right. What came out of it all was most interesting. It was that, although a great amount of research is being done in the field of the humanities, some sort of inhibiting force seems to be exerted on academics from higher up to make them indulge in research that is not of any fundamental importance.
One example - this did not occur in Australia - that was given to me was of a well known legal gentleman who did some research on the inconsistency of members of the judiciary in sentencing people for the commission of similar criminal offences. This seemed to me to be a piece of real research which was extraordinarily valuable to the whole community. Hut this legal gentleman was almost completely ostracised by other members of his profession for causing them embarrassment. That is one of the many examples that I have been given of the inhibiting influences or pressures that are applied to academics to do research that is of no real or lasting benefit to the community or to their own branch of knowledge. Once again I issue a challenge to the academics of this nation; they have a responsibility in this field.
– I support the amendment that has been moved by my colleague, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), on behalf of the Opposition, in respect of the proposed expenditure of the Prime Minister’s Department. I refer to the portion of the proposed expenditure of £23,260,000 that has been set aside for education. The amendment clearly sets out the attitude that has been expressed in this Parliament on other occasions when this matter has been the subject of debate. In effect, it asks the Government to conduct an inquiry into all aspects of primary, secondary and technical education and to accept the recommendations of the Marti.. Committee on teacher education.
So far in this debate two members of the Government parties have spoken. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) endeavoured to eulogise the PrimsMinister (Sir Robert Menzies) and was ruled out of order. The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) directed his remarks to the report of the Martin Committee and expressed disagreement with some of the points made by that Committee. If he intends to pursue the matter of standards in Australian universities and to ask why there is a very high failure rate in the first year at universities, he might consider the recommendations of the Martin Committee in this respect. I believe that the Committee did refer to this matter. It’ had no authority to consider the standards at the secondary school level; but, in point of fact, it went as far as it felt it was entitled to go under its terms of reference. It made certain recommendations concerning teacher education. On the basis of those recommendations, I believe that the Committee felt that the standards at the secondary school level were not good enough. When the Committee’s recommendations were submitted to this Parliament the Prime Minister immediately dismissed them out of hand.
Each year in the debate on the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department, we have asked why the Commonwealth is prepared to accept a measure of responsibility for tertiary education but is not prepared to accept’ any responsibility for primary, secondary or technical education, lt has shown greatly improved interest in tertiary education. Additional finance has been made available for this purpose. A committee was established to inquire into tertiary education, and a permanent committee advises the Government on matters relating to university education.
The honorable member for Higinbotham suggested that the Commonwealth had no authority or responsibility for primary or secondary education. He went on to say that the Commonwealth has no responsibility for roads. I believe that it has been demonstrated in this Parliament on a number of occasions that the Commonwealth does accept responsibility for roads. The honorable member knows that, under section 96 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth makes grants to the States for the construction of roads. Indeed, a great proportion of the money collected by way of the petrol tax is handed to the States by the Commonwealth for the construction of roads.
One of the arguments that have been used in this Parliament, not only by the honorable member for Higinbotham but also by the Prime Minister on other occasions, is that the Commonwealth is able to provide a measure of financial assistance to universities because they are autonomous bodies and so the Commonwealth is not infringing the rights of the States under the Constitution. However, the fact remains that over a number of years this Government has accepted the responsibility for the provision of finance for health purposes. Surely the Government does not suggest that public hospitals do not remain autonomous institutions. The same applies in the field of housng. All the money that is spent by the State housing authorities comes from the Commonwealth. I believe housing authorities are still autonomous bodies. So the argument that has been used by the honorable member for Higinbotham falls to the ground, in my opinion.
If the honorable member wants confirmation of my statements, I suggest he read the speech that was made by the present Prime Minister in July 1945 when, as Leader of the Opposition, he said in this Parliament that what we propose in our amendment today could be carried out by the Commonwealth Government under section 96 of the Constitution. In effect, the right honorable gentleman said it was possible for the Commonwealth to make grants to the States for the purposes of education at all levels. But the real reason why the Government is not prepared to accept its responsibility in these matters is not a reason based on constitutional rights. The fact is that the Prime Minister believes that if an inquiry into all aspects of education is held, particularly into education at the primary, secondary and technical levels, the Commonwealth will be involved in additional expenditure.
Another argument used in this chamber to support the Government’s refusal to accept a measure of responsibility in this matter is that the States have never requested additional assistance and have never recommended a committee of inquiry into other levels of education. But as the honorable member for Barton has said, in February 1960 the Australian Education Council, which consists of the Ministers for Education and the Directors of Education from all States, met in Hobart to consider all aspects of education. In June 1961, the then Premier of New South Wales presented to the Prime Minister the report that was compiled from the Hobart conference of the Council. Among its recommendations, the Australian Education Council suggested that a committee of inquiry should be held into all aspects of education in Australia, particularly at the levels to which I have referred. This proposal was discussed at the Premiers’ Conference in 1962 and the Government made it quite clear then that it was not prepared to accept any further responsibility at those levels.
In 1963, the Australian Education Council again met, this time in Adelaide, and it issued a report. Again, it called for a committee of inquiry along the lines suggested in the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Barton. But this Government has resisted not only the representations that have been made from year to year by members of the Opposition but also the recommendations and representations made by parents and citizens organi sations, the Australian Teachers Federation and academics generally, and certainly those made by the State Ministers for Education and Directors of Education. All these organisations and interested people have asked for additional financial assistance for education because of the crisis in education in Australia at the levels I have mentioned. The report of the Australian Education Council pointed out that the schools are short of qualified teachers; that teachers are inadequately trained and in many cases are not qualified for the jobs they are asked to do. It showed that the States have difficulty in providing the additional equipment and accommodation which are so urgently needed. The Council also pointed out that there is an accumulation of makeshift, substandard and obsolete equipment. The report of the Council, entitled “ A Statement of Some Needs of Australian Education “, shows that the points it has made are supported by statistics that cannot be refuted. Indeed, no attempt has been made by the Prime Minister or by any supporter of the Government to overthrow the arguments that have been submitted to this Parliament by the Australian Education Council.
The Australian community demands standards of education no lower than those enjoyed by advanced countries overseas. We are told that Australia is one of the most highly industrialised countries of the world and that we enjoy a high standard of living. Perhaps there is an element of truth in those statements; but the plain fact is that we are undereducated. The real test, if we are concerned at the level of education in Australia, is to compare our standards with those enjoyed in other countries. For example, if we compare the figure relating to the 15 to 19 years age group in Australia and in other countries with a comparable standard of living, we find that in the United States of America 66 per cent, of those between 15 and 19 years are enjoying full time education. The percentage is 49 per cent, in Soviet Russia, 46 per cent, in Canada and 32 per cent, in Sweden, but only 20 per cent, in Australia. That is the sort of test the Government should apply to the question of education. It should consider how we stand in comparison with other countries. It is not surprising that our standards are so low when one hears the sort of argument that is advanced continually by honorable members on the Government side whenever it is suggested that the Government should establish a committee of inquiry to consider all aspects of education and particularly at the primary, secondary and technical school levels.
One has to consider the question of the school leaving age. In Tasmania, the school leaving age is 16 years and in New South Wales it is 15 years, but in all other States it is 14 years. Amending legislation has been passed in those States to raise the leaving age to 15 years but because of a shortage of teachers, a lack of school accommodation and other problems facing education departments, those States find it impossible to proclaim this legislation. So in four of the six States of Australia, the school leaving age is still 14 years. Surely the Commonwealth Government can recognise that this problem cannot be overcome by State instrumentalities, particularly having regard to the operation of uniform income taxation. State instrumentalities are already expending 20 per cent, of their State’s revenue on education and it is not possible for them to spend more on education at the levels I have mentioned.
Earlier, I referred to the recommendations of the Martin Committee on teacher training. Those recommendations should have been accepted by the Government. It is obvious from the Committee’s recommendations that it believed the level of secondary education should be raised. The Committee recognised that in order to raise standards of education and to relieve the States of some of the financial responsibility for education, the Government should accept a measure of responsibility for teacher training.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to speak on the Estimates for that section of the Prime Minister’s Department which is responsible for education. If time permits, I shall say something about the Public Service also. During the last election campaign the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made great play of the number of scholarships that the Commonwealth Government intended to award. There were to be 10,000 scholarships for secondary schools and 2,500 technical scholarships each year. We find that although the whole of the secondary scholarships were taken up only 1,499 of the 2,500 technical scholarships were awarded. To me, this seems to indicate that something is sadly amiss in the Commonwealth Office of Education in the Prime Minister’s Department. I believe that the people responsible for administering this Office have something to answer for. To me, it seems staggering that in a country like Australia, especially in these times when technical education is so terribly important if we are to survive, and when there are thousands of children attending technical schools desiring the assistance which technical scholarships would grant them, the Government is able to award only 1,499 of the 2,500 that were promised. It seems to me that the Government has made practically no effort at all to advertise the availability of these scholarships. This must be the reason for what has happened. The public servants responsible for giving publicity to the Government’s policy ought to have a look at themselves.
Let us have a look at a letter that the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) received from Senator Gorton, dated 13th September 1965. In it are mentioned the figures to which I have just referred - 1,499 scholarships awarded out of the 2,500 that had been promised. The 2,500 promised were, to anyone who understood the needs in technical education, far too inadequate to meet our requirements; yet we find that the people responsible for advertising and giving publicity to this small handout of scholarships have succeeded in awarding only a little more than half of them.
– Sixty per cent.
– Yes, 60 per cent, of those that were promised. The Minister seems to indicate that we cannot expect very much better from his officers next year, because his concluding paragraph reads -
I expect that it will be a number of years before the full entitlement of technical scholarships is taken up.
If it were not for that last paragraph, perhaps, by stretching a point, we could pardon the officers of the Commonwealth Office of Education for not having publicised sufficiently the availability of these awards this year. When a new scholarship is granted, of course, everyone does not realise immediately that it is available. But for the Minister to indicate that he does not expect to be able to award the full quota for several years indicates an apathy which I believe is unpardonable and which ought not to be tolerated.
Now let me turn to the position of those who applied for the 10,000 secondary scholarships that v/ere promised by the Prime Minister. I have been looking at the report of the Commonwealth Office of Education for 1964. It states that no less than 67,000 applications were made for the 10,000 Commonwealth scholarships. Therefore, 57,000 applicants had to be rejected. This is something that the Government ought to be thoroughly ashamed of itself for. Let me remind the Committee of what Labour thought about this matter. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) explained Labour’s policy relating to secondary scholarships when he pointed out that the Australian Labour Party believes that it is a crime for the talent of any Australian child to be wasted through lack of education or because his parents are unable to afford the cost of education. It is a crime. It is a crime for which no government can possibly find an excuse.
– And a crime against the community.
– And a crime against the community. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, the question is not just how much we can afford to spend. Australia cannot afford the waste of not investing heavily in education now. It has to be done now. All the more advanced countries in the world are spending a greater percentage of their gross national income on education than Australia is spending. There is no country in the world that needs scientists and professional men such as engineers more than Australia needs them, yet we are doing very little with the talent that is available to us. In all, 57,000 boys and girls capable, willing and anxious to obtain scholarships from the Commonwealth to continue secondary education last year were told by the Commonwealth, which can find millions of pounds for defence and which can waste millions of pounds on other less important things than education: “ You cannot go on because the Commonwealth cannot afford it “. If the Commonwealth is so hard up for money that it has to tell 57,000 Australian boys and girls that they have to end their secondary education because their parents cannot afford the money and the Commonwealth cannot find it at the moment, it is time the Commonwealth increased the taxation on the very rich and on the giant monopolies in this community and made them supply the money because they more than anybody else, are ultimately going to reap the benefit of higher education.
I believe that there ought not to be any limit on the number of scholarships available to boys and girls who have the capacity to use them. There should be no limit at all. The only limit on the number of scholarships ought to be the number of boys and girls capable of qualifying for secondary education, or capable of undertaking university education. This, indeed, is the policy of the Australian Labour Party. As the Leader of the Opposition said -
When fully implemented, the policy of the Australian Labour Party will give secondary scholarships which will be limited in number only by the ability of the pupil to meet the qualifying standards applicable in his or her State. The scholarships, subject to a means test, will be tenable at the schools of the parents’ choice and will be open to students from government and nongovernment schools.
He went on to say -
Such a scheme obviously represents a large and increasing charge to the Commonwealth.
He went on to add that Labour accepts the principle that it is the Commonwealth’s responsibility to meet the cost of higher education. This Government says: “Yes, we will meet the cost of higher education on the tertiary level. We will supply millions of pounds to universities to deal with the upper crust of society - those whose parents are rich enough to send them to the universities - but we are not prepared to spend anything at all on secondary schools so that the best possible candidates for the universities will be available.”
What is the use of building universities and of spending millions of pounds on them if we have not the children from secondary schools coming along in sufficient numbers to fill the accommodation at the universities? The result must obviously be that the ones who will go to the new elaborate universities will be the sons and daughters of the very rich while, although they may have greater intelligence, although they have a higher intelligence quotient, the sons and daughters of the poor people will be cut out because of the financial difficulties involved.
– The Martin Committee showed that.
– I am obliged to my honorable friend from Barton. The Martin Committee apparently pointed this out. Something has been said about the Labour Party’s policy of State aid in education. It would be evading an issue if one were not to mention this. The Labour Party is not opposed to giving State aid for the purpose of furthering the education of children attending private schools. We have always made it clear that, in a sense, the amount of State aid which Labour would give to children attending private schools or church schools will in the ultimate be very much greater than anything this Government has ever promised. If one were to make an assessment of the value of the scholarships and busaries which the Commonwealth would have to make available under our policy of granting scholarships to all children qualified, irrespective of what school they are attending, the amount would probably be ten times more than the cost of the Government’s present assistance to private schools. The Government is making money available for science laboratories.
I believe that there is a great wastage of money here. I would like to see a lot more money being spent on science teaching than is now being spent. The £5 million per year which this Government is spending on science laboratories is not nearly enough to meet our needs if we are to take our proper place in this modern world in which we live. We ought to be spending twice that amount. I believe that Commonwealth science blocks ought to be established in central positions. A science block ought to be established in the centre of a city. Large Commonwealth science blocks should also be established in the eastern, western, northern and southern suburbs of a city and they should be staffed with the best science teachers available, teaching on a full time basis every day of the week. Private and State school children ought to be given the opportunity of taking their science lessons in the Commonwealth science laboratory nearest to their school. It could be so easily done instead of having a lot of little science blocks or little science laboratories scattered all over the metropolitan area none of which is properly equipped or, except in very few cases, properly staffed. We could have well equipped and well staffed laboratories, fewer in number than at present but far more efficient.
If such laboratories were established, children attending St. Peter’s College in my own State, to use that college as an example, could be told: “ Tuesday is your day to take science lessons at the central Commonwealth science, laboratory.” The students at the Christian Brothers College could be told that their day for science lessons was Wednesday. I see no earthly reason why children attending private and governmental schools ought not to be required to go to a Commonwealth science block in a suburb perhaps only half a mile away from their school. They could be given better facilities and better teaching at such a science laboratory. This proposal would save money for the Commonwealth and would give far better service to the students.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) drew attention to the fact, which the newspapers have not bothered to report, that at the last Commonwealth Conference of the Australian Labour Party the Labour Party laid down quite clearly that its attitude towards State aid was such that it is completely opposed to the principle of taking away any of the benefits which a State already provides for private schools in that particular State. For instance, in South Australia, a new benefit was promised by the State Labour Party before the Federal conference. It promised to provide free school text books to children attending State and non-State schools. Obviously, this was a benefit which the people of South Australia expected to be provided. The Labour Party expected the State Government of South Australia to honour the promise. I am pleased to note that the South Australian Labour Government has made it clear that next year it will provide, as promised, free textbooks to children attending all schools, whether they are State or private. I believe that if the electors had accepted the value of Labour’s policy of giving scholarships to all children attending all schools, State or private, and Labour’s economic policy which would give to the parents of all children a much bigger share of the national economic cake than they now have, we would find that the parents of children attending non-State schools would be far more capable of meeting the costs of keeping their children at those schools than they are now. This Government, of course, has no real intention of helping the people on the lower rung of the ladder.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is disappointing that the Government is unable to find speakers to participate in the debate at this stage. It is even more disappointing to find that Government members think their attendance in Parliament so unattractive and unimportant that there are very few of them with us at this hour. I wish to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). In his speech, the honorable member made some remarks with which I agree. He referred to the failure rate at universities. I think that this is a very important matter. I consider that the standard of teaching in universities has to be improved. Too little research has been carried out into this question. It is a tragedy that so much wastage occurs at this level with so much capital involved. As a former member of the teaching profession in Victoria, I believe that the people of this nation send to the universities what is in effect the cream of our school population. After all, entrants to universities are screened at every level.
In Victoria, about 66 per cent, of those who reach the matriculation stage qualify for admission to the university. In other words, about one-third of the students who reach matriculation level are screened out. Then, when the people in this group which represents perhaps only the top 10 per cent, of the community at the moment, and even less than that in some States, reach the university and fail to pass their university courses the failure lies not so much in the students as in the teaching of the universities. One of the ironies of Australian education and, presumably, of education everywhere is that the lower the academic level at which one teaches the more training one requires.
At the infant school level in Victoria, a teacher requires three years training. At primary school level, the training period is two years. At secondary school level, the training period is one year. But at the specialist teacher training level, at the university level, no training is required. I think this is one of the challenges which we have to face. It is one of the aspects of education into which this Government should institute an inquiry.
The other point raised by the honorable member for Higinbotham was the question of our obsession, or neurosis, about education at every level, so far as this Parliament is concerned. We on this side have been continuing our campaign in this regard for the best part of 10 years. The Government and its members have come to realise in the end that those things which we said some 8 or 10 years ago, to the effect that education is a national responsibility and that a great deal of the responsibility for continued action and the development of Australia’s educational system lies with this Parliament, were true. I was minded to look up what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had said on this very subject some eight or nine years ago. Speaking during the Estimates debate for 1958-59, the Prime Minister said - . . under section 96 of the Australian Constitution, the Commonwealth may make a tied grant to the States.
He continued -
Constitutionally, of course, we can make a grant to a State in respect of practically anything, attaching such conditions as this Parliament thinks fit.
We on this side of the House believe that primary and secondary education is of as much importance as university education. I am sure that it will be of interest to honorable members that in one of his most objective and reasonable moods, the Prime Minister introduced his remarks on that occasion by saying -
I want to turn to the thoughtful contributions made on the question of education by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant).
It is a long time since the Prime Minister reached such an objective state of mind regarding either politics or education. 1 want to deal with a subject which is important in the Labour socialist philosophy. It is the subject of equality of opportunity, and equality of expenditures in public effort by Australian citizens. It is now approximately 100 years since the establishment of the State systems of education throughout the Commonwealth. It was one of the objectives then that no matter where one lived, no matter what one’s social class or one’s economic status, one would receive equality of educational opportunity. In the initial stages the State systems, or the central systems of educaton, succeeded to a very large extent in placing this scheme on the road. Now, when we examine the whole question of education, in significant fields this system has failed. There is no equality of educational opportunity, nor is there equality of educational effort in Australia. This is true of significant aspects of education, as I believe honorable members Wl agree. This is not a political question so far as we are concerned. Although we realise that there is a political attitude to this matter on the constitutional side we do not bring it before the Parliament as a political gimmick.
The Australian Labour Party has a Federal education policy in which it is provided -
Labour education policy depends on the application to education of the democratic principles of freedom and equality.
Education should promote the love of freedom by developing critical judgment, the ability to choose rationally, the capacity for self-government, and a sense of social responsibility.
These are important aspects of our policy -
Equality in education means that all people are entitled to a universal basic minimum of education, which should provide every individual with the skills and knowledge required for life in a modern community. Equality means, further, that all persons are entitled to have equal efforts spent on their education.
I propose to show, in the few minutes available to one in a speech in the Estimates debate, that over significant areas of Australian education we have failed in this. There are geographical inequalities in Australian education; there are inequalities based upon sex; there are inequalities based upon race; and there are inequalities based upon socio-economic status. Briefly, I shall bring out the examples and statistics to support the things that I say.
Let me examine, first, the question of geographical inequalities. A person who lives north of the Murray has had a much better chance in the last 20 years or so to get to a university and achieve a higher stage of education than a person who lives south of the Murray. The Martin Report shows these figures for university enrolments as a proportion of State population -
Victoria, with a figure of 4.8 per cent., has had a long run of conservative Governments. New South Wales, which has had a long run of Labour Governments, has a figure of 7.2 per cent. The figures are even more staggering when one looks at the proportion of students completing secondary education. In New South Wales there are 18.41 per cent, while in Victoria there are only 9.68 per cent. This is an important, significant difference in Australian educational effort. Any parliament which is concerned with the nation is concerned with the equality of all Australians, whether they live at Cairns, Cooktown, Cape Leeuwin, or Cape York. This is one of the challenges that this Parliament faces. We meet here in a different context from that of any other parliament or any other body of people. We are responsible and answerable to the nation as a whole. We on this side of the chamber have no great concern for State boundaries, or distance, or racial or any other kind of differences. It is, I believe, our obligation and our duty to produce this equality for Australians.
Let me refer to university enrolment figures. In 1964 in New South Wales there were 29,973 students in the universities. In Victoria - one of the wealthiest parts of one of the wealthiest countries in the world - there were only 16,815 students. If we take the proportion of Victoria’s population to New South Wales population as being 3 to 4, as it is, there ought to be from 22,000 to 23,000 students in Victorian universities, and there are not. What has happened to the other 6,000 who have been deprived of educational opportunity because of an inadequate approach to education in Victoria in the past? An objective appreciation of the situation is that this is the product of a long line of conservative governments. Conservative governments in other States have produced much better results. For instance, South Australia has pretty near the same proportion of students at universities as has New South Wales.
This is a challenge to this Parliament. That is a catastrophic wastage of talent. Of course, there are other disabilities which arise from the political structure of the Government. What have we done as a nation about the people who live in remote areas of the country? What do the citizens in Broken Hill, Bourke, Mildura, Ballarat - even in places nearer the capital cities - do about providing for their children’s higher education which includes the expensive maintenance and other ancillary and incidental charges? We have done very little to bring equality of education to all of those people who live in the remoter areas. One has only to be from 30 to 40 miles beyond the educational institution that he wants to attend for it to be remote. This is the challenge that is before this Parliament and before the Government and we believe that it has to be faced.
Another significant field in which we have not tackled inequalities in education is discrimination based, one might say, on sex. The women of Australia do not get an equal go in many fields. The women are denied equal pay for equal work in many fields. Let us examine the statistics of university enrolments. I taught for a good number of years. I know in my own heart, and I am prepared to admit in this friendly context, that man for man, girl for girl, and boy for boy - whatever it may be - girls on the whole are able to match boys at every level of education. There is very little significant difference in their capacities, except that in some results girls are able to achieve slightly better percentages. Let us take at random the figures in relation to women at universities. At the University of Sydney there are 10,600 men and 4,800 women. What has happened to the other 6,000 women, remembering that the proportion of male to female in the population is approximately equal? In Melbourne at the universities there are 9,917 males and 3,917 females. The picture is the same, whether it be in Victoria, New South Wales or Western Australia. In the last named State there are 3,400 male students and 1,069 female students.
As far as Australia is concerned, this is a fantastic wastage and a challenge that we must accept. In the universities of Australia there are 56,000 men and only 19,000 women. In that age group there is a wastage of 36,000 girls, of capacity equal to that of men, who are not attending universities. The picture is the same throughout the structure. In Melbourne there are only 170 women doing medicine, compared with 830 men. Doing science are 297 women and 935 men. In Adelaide, in the faculty of law, there are 44 women and 196 men. This, I believe, is another inequality that we must tackle. We must do it for the benefit of the nation. We cannot afford this wastage.
This is a social, economic and educational problem to which I have paid a certain amount of regard. I represent an industrial area and I have figures in relation to this aspect which I will not have time to expand. From my study of the question in the area that I represent, I am satisfied that there is a rising realisation by families in the community that girls must get an equal chance, but there has not been equality of opportunity. We do not have to wait for people to demand things. It should be the objective of the Parliament, and it certainly is the objective of the Socialist Party, to set up standards for people to attain. We do not want to drive them, we want to encourage them. We must set up the standards and I believe that is what is required here. Last year in Victoria 6,369 boys and 4,432 girls sat for the matriculation examination. Of the boys 63.98 per cent, and of the girls 67.21 per cent, passed. The performance of the girls was nearly 4 per cent, better than that of the boys.
Let me revert to the matter of inequalities based on geography, to which I referred earlier. In Victoria there are 10,800 students doing matriculation; in New South Wales there are 21,000. That is, I believe, a very significant inequality in Australian education. One other staggering inequality, apart from the socio-economic one, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is at the table, may read for himself at page 43 of the Martin Report. There has been an abysmal, catastrophic failure in education within the Commonwealth’s own responsibility. There are 4,068 Aboriginal children and 6,068 other Australian children of school age in the Northern Territory. There are no Aboriginal children in Administration secondary schools, but there are 949 other Australian children. At mission primary schools there are 1,712 Aboriginal children and 821 other Australian children. At mission secondary schools there are no Aboriginal children but 92 other Australian children. These figures were given in answer to a question on notice asked in this place.
The Martin Report contains statements on the question of socio-economic status. I believe that unless this Parliament is propared to face the inequalities based upon geography, sex, race and socio-economic status, it is failing in the challenge that this modern society places before its governors. I hope that this Parliament will gather its strength and see its way clear to do something dynamic and dramatic in the field of education. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) offers that opportunity to every member of this Committee.
– I support the amendment, moved by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), that the amount to be provided in the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department be reduced by £1 as an instruction to the Government to conduct an inquiry into all aspects of primary, secondary and technical education and to accept the Martin Committee’s recommendation on teacher education. In supporting that amendment, I want to point out that it is pretty obvious that the Menzies Government is not treating seriously the question of education in Australia. Various Ministers, including Senator Gorton in recent times, have gone to a lot of trouble to argue that there is no crisis in education, that there is no special difficulty, and that adequate provision is being made in most places or everywhere; and in this debate on the Estimates this afternoon a striking example has been provided of the Government’s neglect of the question. So far there have been five speakers on the. Opposition side each dealing with education. There have been 1-1/ 3rd speakers on the Government side - one spoke for only a minute or two - and at the. moment there are only three or four members of the Liberal Party in the chamber even to listen to the debate. The majority of them are content neither to contribute nor to listen. This is a clear indication to the people of Australia of the way in which Government supporters and Ministers are avoiding their responsibilities in respect of education.
I want to speak first of all about research. It is apparent that in Australia a considerably lower proportion of our resources is being used for research than in almost any other comparable country. For instance, in the United Kingdom 2.4 per cent, of the gross national product is being used for research; in the United States of America 2.7 per cent.; in the Netherlands 1.5 per cent.; in France 1 per cent, and in Canada 0.7 per cent. Australia is the lowest of any of the countries I can find, spending 0.6 per cent. These figures are provided for us in the much ignored Vernon report. I have made my own calculations and find that there are very few comparable countries. I cannot be certain that there is even one where the percentage spent on research is less than the 0.6 that we spend.
One other point that I think is necessary for attention is that in Australia a very large proportion of the volume of funds being provided for research is provided by Governments directly through organisations like the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or universities. In Australia the proportion of Government funds is 68 per cent., universities 12 per cent, and industry generally 20 per cent, making a total of 100 per cent. The striking difference here is that in most comparable countries the proportion of funds provided by industry is, relatively, three or four times greater than it is in Australia. In the United Kingdom industry provides 63 per cent, of the funds expended on research; in the United States of America, 75 per cent.; in France, 57 per cent, and in the Netherlands 64 per cent. As I have said the figure for Australia is 20 per cent. Even in Canada, the country nearest to Australia in this respect, the figure is 39 per cent.
There are two characteristics in respect of research to which I want to direct the Committee’s attention. The first is the extraordinarily low expenditure in Australia and, secondly, the very low percentage that industry provides. In the United States and in the United Kingdom just as much is provided by the Governments as is provided in Australia, but in those countries it is channelled to industry. Some of the reasons for the difference between Australia and those countries are obvious. In the United States and the United Kingdom a far larger proportion of research is concerned with defence. In the United States 47 per cent, of the expenditure is on defence research and in the United Kingdom 39 per cent., whereas in Australia the figure is only 20 per cent.
– Does that account for the difference?
– What about the proportion?
– Not the proportion. It accounts for the difference between expenditures by industry. Much of the money that is spent on defence research in the United States and in Great Britain is in fact spent by industry; it is industry defence research. The other factor I want to point out is that in Australia small scale industry is more significant. Industry research is a matter of scale. In most countries, and in Australia for that matter, from 40 per cent, to 60 per cent, of expenditure by industry is spent by the half dozen largest firms. The point about this is that unless this problem oan be overcome in Australia there will be a lack of relevance in a good deal of our research - a lack of application of research to the places where it is needed.
I suggest that a number of things will be required to overcome this problem. First of all I think a greater sense of urgency and appreciation of the importance of research is necessary. I think this demands far greater Commonwealth Government initiative. It has to be taken much more seriously. Noone can imagine that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) with his platitudes on this subject is taking research seriously in this country. No-one can imagine that a party that provides only 1-1/3rd speakers on the estimates relevant to this subject is taking research seriously. What are Government supporters doing about this? Have they nothing to say on this question at all? This is evidenced, it seems to me, by the lack of Government speakers this afternoon. We need a greater sense of urgency, importance and initiative in this respect.
Next I think we need a national science foundation. This was recommended in the report of the Martin Committee. This is one of the recommendations that the Govern ment has ignored completely, and I wonder what is the good of the Government setting up committees like the Martin Committee and the Vernon Committee if it is going to ignore so much of what those Committees recommend. The Government goes to the trouble of selecting those persons who would seem to be the most qualified men in their fields to serve on committees. It gives them some limited resources to carry out their investigations. Their reports are presented and then the Government chooses to ignore them completely, as it has done with the report of the Vernon Committee, or to accept them partially, as it has done with the report of the Martin Committee. The Government has not set up a national science foundation and has no intention of so doing.
This, I think, is a clear indication of something else that is needed. We need industrial research centres to whose operating costs small scale firms can contribute on, say, a £1 for £1 basis with grants recommended by the national science foundation. We could have a series of industrial research centres, one for each industry, so that small firms could contribute and benefit from the results of the research. The weakness in Australia I think is the lack of application of research funds at the point of need in industry. Research tends to be where most of the money is coming from - the large monopolistic concerns. I think the proposal to set up industrial research centres could tend to overcome this situation. This is not being done at present and it is not enough simply to say that existing arrangements are good enough. They obviously are not good enough.
I want now to look more generally at education. I think it is necessary for us to realise that the importance of material standards in Australia is declining. The benefits of increased output are now marginally of diminishing value for a majority of the Australian people. No-one is more concerned than the Australian Labour Party is to point out that there are perhaps li million old and young people in the country these days who are still living in what can properly be described as conditions of poverty. Consideration of this situation must be given high priority. For the majority of people material standards are diminishing; but emphasis in the community still is given to material standards. Our Press and our television stations are continuously, by their large expenditure on advertising, directing the attention of people to the importance of the material things that they are endeavouring to sell 24 hours of the day. These public opinion lorming agencies do very little to direct attention to the importance of education and of cultural standards. There are two places where increasing returns to the community in Australia are clearly possible, namely in education and cultural associations and in an understanding of the world and of one another. These matters do not have sufficiently high priority in this man made materially conscious kind of society. Secondly, I think the reduction of international conflict and the removal of poverty for the 1,500 million people in the world who still live in poverty are also matters of very great importance. Australian material output can contribute little to raising the standards of the 1,500 million people who live in poverty in the world. Aid is important but it has very limited value. We can contribute far more by the development of educational and cultural standards both in Australia and in the outside world. This being significant, I think it has to be recognised that we are not rating education and cultural development nearly high enough in Australia. First of all, in respect of the aggregate, there is a crisis and a problem. There is a lack of priority for education. I feel dismayed by the intensity with which responsible Ministers, such as Senator Gorton, who was recently concerned with this matter, and the Liberal Party Minister for Education in Victoria, Mr. Bloomfield, are going so much out of their way to try to show that there is no urgency and no crisis and that there is no need for priority to be given to education.
If we look at the diagram on page seven of the first volume of the Martin Committee’s report and if we consider Australia in the context of that diagram, we see that only in countries like Spain, Greece, Portugal, Austria and Turkey is the proportion of resources devoted to education less than in Australia. What a shocking comparison that is. One has sympathy for countries such as I have just mentioned; they are economically backward. But Australia is not economically backward, although I think it is politically backward. We should not be in the position that we have to point to countries like Spain, Greece, Portugal and Turkey as the only places where the percentage of gross national product used for education is less than in Australia.
Secondly, there are socio-economic factors. We are down in the aggregate but also, as the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has just pointed out, we are very backward in respect of inequalities in an education system. I direct attention to page 43 of volume 1 of the Martin Committee’s report, in which this point is made very vividly for us. The report states -
Table 42 shows the data collected on 114,000 students of the estimated 145,000 who left Australian schools between 1st April 1959 and 31st March 1960.
The data was broken up into 11 categories, relating to the father’s occupation, and gave some indication of the effect of socioeconomic and related circumstances on the families of school leavers. The report shows, among other things, that the school leavers whose fathers were in the category of unskilled or semi-skilled totalled 33 per cent, of all male school leavers, but only 1.5 per cent, of them entered a university. The report goes on to state -
In contrast, only 2 per cent, of the fathers of male school leavers were classified as “university professional” but 35.9 per cent, of their sons entered university.
Mr. W. C. Radford, of the Australian Council for Education Research, pointed out that some differences might be expected, but not to the extraordinary extent that these figures indicate. There is a need for the allocation of funds to overcome these striking socio-economic differences, which are completely incompatible with a country like Australia that considers itself to be egalitarian and democratic.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, it is seven years since the socalled Boyer Committee furnished a report on recruitment to the Commonwealth Public Service and in that report included rather strong recommendations about the right of married women to be recognized as permanent employees of the Public Service. Although that rather lengthy period has elapsed since the report was presented, we find, as with so many reports, that no action has been taken on an important recommendation - in this case, one, relating to the rights of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service. Quite obviously, the Commonwealth Public Service, operating under policies formulated by this Government, is giving one of the worst illustrations of neglect of the standards which should be set by any authority which is mindful of the demands which the country has to meet in the near future. This Government is setting a bad example to the general public by the manner in which it discriminates against women within the Commonwealth Public Service.
First of all, if a woman enters the Public Service she can immediately be satisfied that henceforth she will pay a continuing penalty in the form of receiving a lower wage than a man for the work she performs, regardless of whether she is employed as a librarian, a school teacher or in any other capacity where men are doing the same sort of work on a higher wage rate. A woman will not receive the same pay as a man. That is the first way in which a woman is penalised because of her sex when she joins the Commonwealth Public Service. But, my goodness, should she compound the offence of being a woman by committing the heinous act of marrying, she is immediately eliminated from the Service. There is no future for her. Her services are no longer required within the structure of the Public Service. For the record, let me quote the relevant section of the Public Service Act. Section 49 (1) states -
No married woman shall be eligible for employment, either permanently or temporarily, in the Commonwealth Service, unless the Board certifies that there are special circumstances which make her employment desirable.
Section 49 (2) states -
Every female officer shall be deemed to have retired from the Commonwealth Service upon her marriage, unless the Board certifies that there are special circumstances which make her employment desirable.
The situation in this country, however, is that we are not in such a lush position regarding our work force that we can afford to arbitrarily eliminate from it large sections of the population through an obviously artificial kind of differentiation.
I draw attention to a Treasury Information Bulletin entitled “Projections of the
Work-force, 1963-76 “. This country has a population of about 11 million now. It will probably have no more than 25 million people by the turn of the century. Therefore, although we may try to achieve significant goals of economic development in the near future, we could be held back by the restricted size of our work force. Obviously there are a number of things which can be done. Technical improvements can assist greatly to offset shortcomings in the size of the work force. Proper allocation of resources could undoubtedly be of great benefit, but the attitude of the Government to the Vernon Committee’s report shows very definitely that the Government is not prepared to face up to this problem. One important source of additions to the work force is migration. Another, largely untapped, is the employment of married women. The Treasury Information Bulletin to which I have referred states -
As the present paper has suggested, it may well be that the potential rate of growth in the workforce and, hence, the rate of growth of the economy, is dependent to a significant extent on the future increase in the proportion of married women obtaining employment.
This Bulletin also shows, at page 40, that one of the problems we will face in about 1976 is a decrease in the number of youthful people entering the work force. This is because of a population trend. Although there has been a growing tendency for married women to enter the work force in Australia, our effort in this field, in comparison with those of other countries, is rather poor. For instance, it will be 1976 before 13.4 per cent, of our work force is made up of married women, but in Sweden, which has the lowest of the figures in this connection quoted at page 40 of the Bulletin, over 13 per cent, of the work force is made up of married women now. So in this important field we are lagging somewhat behind overseas countries.
Another Treasury Information Bulletin to which I would like to refer is entitled “ The Meaning and Measurement of Economic Growth “. It was supplied in November 1964. It states -
Some institutional practices restrictive of output arise from social conventions or are closely associated with them - a reluctance to employ women or more particularly married women (perhaps through increasing opportunities for part-time employment) would be cases in point
This report strongly criticises the tendency in the community not to absorb more married women into the work force. The Government is aware of the necessity to absorb more married women into the work force. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in one of his whimsical moments, said -
I can see no reason why many jobs which are traditionally regarded as male preserves should not be performed by women.
He also said -
Attitudes to the employment of married women need to change. Employers could well consider ways and means of accommodating hours of work and general conditions of employment to the domestic obligations of working wives. This could mean, for example, greater availability of parttime and casual employment, and in some cases the provision of more convenient transport arrangements.
This was said by the Minister quite recently, in fact on 25th August of this year, when delivering a paper entitled “ Tapping New Sources of Labour “ to a conference in Adelaide on labour shortages. If the Government subscribes to the theory of private enterprise, as it frequently professes to do, why does it not give a practical demonstration of its sincere belief in the employment of married women by following the recommendations of the Boyer Committee on recruitment to the Public Service, where those recommendations apply to married women? Let me quote from the Boyer report, which deals with the employment of married women at page 58 -
In the first place, retirement upon marriage is obligatory for female permanent officers, but not for temporary employees. Secondly, a permanent officer so retired may in practice be re-employed in a temporary capacity in some categories of position (which have been exempted from the requirements of section 49 (1.)), but not in others. This results, for example, in the situation that a permanent typist on marriage is re-employed as a temporary typist, but a professional officer is not re-employed to continue her professional work, and so is lost to the Service. Thirdly, supervisory positions above base-grade level are usually allocated only to permanent officers, and therefore cannot be occupied by married women, while temporary employment is generally confined to the base grade. As a result, an experienced officer in a supervisory position may, upon marriage, be re-employed in a subordinate base-grade temporary position, under the control of a less experienced single woman. In preference to this, many such officers transfer to private employment where similar restrictions do not apply.
The Committee’s recommendation was in this form -
We recommend, therefore, that sub-sections (1) and (2) of section 49 be repealed, and replaced by a sub-section providing that married women shall be eligible for permanent or temporary employment in the Service on such terms and under such conditions as are prescribed.
Included in such terms and conditions, of course, should be a recognition of the right of married women to confinement leave when a birth is impending. If the Government is to look at this matter, as it should, as a social responsibility as well as an economic necessity, it must also consider the necessity for the extension of such amenities as kindergartens. At the present time in our community the kindergarten has become something which can be afforded only the wealthy. If we are to encourage the employment of married women in the work force, as the Minister and the “ Treasury Bulletins “ say is necessary if we are to increase our output and help to achieve significant economic goals in the future, among the things that will be needed are child minding centres. The Government, therefore, must accept its responsibility to provide more finance for kindergartens and like institutions, so that mothers who are following employment will be able to leave their children for the day in safe hands and the children will be given constructive training while the mothers are at work and making a most valuable contribution to the growth of the country.
What are the objections to married women being employed in the work force? Most of them are traditional and do not have any factual basis. There is the argument that women are not as strong as men, but if we are to judge a person’s right to be in the work force by the size of his biceps, then we will have to resort to some sort of primitive judgment involving considerations of brute strength in deciding the justice of people’s positions. In that case neither the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) nor I would be in this establishment at the present time. Women have proved themselves as intellectually competent as men and in fact, in a number of fields have proved more competent. Intellectually, there is no bar to the right of women to be maintained in the workforce.
An argument based on child deliquency has been put forward. It has been said that working wives who leave their children at home are responsible for the largest portion of delinquency in the community. Let me quote from an article entitled “Juvenile Delinquency” in a “Current Affairs Bulletin “ dated 8th June 1964 as follows -
It is quite commonly said that mothers’ going out to work is a major cause of juvenile delinquency. Yet such evidence as is available on this topic is extremely diverse and inconclusive; and much of it runs counter to the theory that a mother’s employment outside the home can be regarded as a casual factor in relation to delinquency. Indeed it would be possible to make a case for the proposition that maternal employment outside the home is a preventive of delinquency.
A number of studies have found the mothers of non-delinquents to be out at work more frequently than those of delinquents. To give only one example, T. Ferguson in his “The Young Delinquent in his Social Setting “ (1952) found that out of a sample of 1,234 “ordinary” Glasgow boys who left school at the earliest permitted date 230 had working mothers. Of these 10.4 per cent, were delinquent. Yet 12.4 per cent, of the remainder whose mothers did not go out to work were delinquent. It is not surprising therefore should he conclude that this factor was “not of any great importance in relation to delinquency “.
This is only one of many reputable and authoritative sources on this problem of delinquency which discuss the old myth that working mothers are responsible for the largest proportion of delinquency. All the sociological studies that I have read on the subject indicate quite definitely that the contrary is the case. Then there is another argument that women prefer the inferior status imposed upon them in our community. But how can they be said to prefer it when, in actual fact, the Commonwealth Public Service Act, in section 49, sub-sections (1.) and (2.), gives them no choice and, in fact, imposes upon them rights inferior to those which are provided for men should they marry?
Another argument frequently put forward concerns inflation. It is said that if you have working mothers you will have inflation. Nothing could be more inaccurate. It is a basic economic fact that it is not the wages coming into the home that cause inflation. Inflation results only if the money coming into the home is not backed up by an equivalent amount of production. In other words, if we are turning out more goods we can afford to put more money into circulation in the community. If we allow married women to work and those married women are taking a part in the productive processes in the economy, they are backing up their presence in the work force with production of extra goods and there is then no contribution to inflation. In fact, with improving technical standards women can immensely improve the living standards of families by the additional contribution they make to our economic output.
Another argument frequently propounded is that if you allow married women to work they will keep other people out of work and create unemployment. Once again, this is a fallacy. In fact the Minister said in his paper, “ Tapping New Sources of Labour”, that the problem in the 1930’s was that we had too many arms and legs and not enough jobs to go round, while the problem today is quite the reverse - too many jobs and not enough arms and legs - so that now we need urgently the presence of married women in the work force. In the Commonwealth Public Service, this Government could change its policy and allow married women to make a valuable contribution. Let me conclude by quoting a document prepared by that very reputable organisation, the Equal Opportunities for Women Association, which gave the results of a survey that had been carried out and stated -
It reveals the way in which the marriage bar in the Commonwealth Public Service, and in all State Public Services (except that of N.S.W.) affects the individual as a human being, and as a member of society with family and social responsibilities. This ranges from personal disappointment at shattered careers, emotional tension in marriages and failure to make social adjustments to such factors as financial hardships affecting children, children being prevented from obtaining tertiary education and other benefits, women forced to “ live in sin “, and working women who would favour the granting of confinement leave, obtaining abortions in a desperate attempt to conceal their marital status.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, I believe that I am the fifth Opposition speaker in a row and the last of seven Opposition speakers to take part in this debate on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, which brings up the subject of education, whereas only one Government supporter has shown any real interest in this very live question of education. There is nothing more important for the people of
Australia than the proper education of our children. Every child should have the opportunity to be educated to the limit of his capacity and abilities. If we will not provide our children with that opportunity - and this Government seems determined not to provide it - we shall be an illiterate and semiignorant nation. Twelve months ago, or thereabouts, on education we were spending per head of population only a little more than were the enlightened countries of Egypt and Turkey. I believe that in the last six months we may have got somewhere near the per capita expenditure of the people of Portugal and of Spain. But we have a long way to go before we attain the standards of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. We are not doing what we ought to do in the field of education. I have sought information on education matters from a Minister who uses the grandiloquent title, “ Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research “.
– He is not busy.
– No. He says that there is no crisis in education - that any problem that has existed has been solved. I wrote him a letter asking about education in this country, and I received this reply -
I acknowledge the letter of 19th July written on your behalf asking for information from the Commonwealth Office of Education.
I am afraid that I am not prepared to provide an estimate of the cost of maintaining the Roman Catholic Schools at primary and secondary levels and suggest you might approach the various Roman Catholic Education authorities should you wish for an estimate. Similarly a sample of annual fees charged by private schools should be obtained from the schools themselves.
The capital cost of constructing and equipping new schools would, of course, depend on whether the schools were primary or secondary, how large they were, to what standard they were constructed, in what State they were constructed, and on other factors. Each State would be able to- give you an average cost per pupil place as should they information on what the State spends on primary education; but again this information should be obtained from the responsible authorities which are the State Education Ministers.
That is the reply given by the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, Senator Gorton. When I ask him for some comments, in effect he says: “ Write to the authorities all over Australia and get the information for yourself.” I have written, Sir, and this bulky file contains the material I have received in reply. I am now expected to be my own research officer and find out what is happening in education throughout Australia.
We on this side of the chamber wanted an inquiry into education. We have always wanted it. We want it now. We promised an inquiry in the Australian Labour Party’s policy speeches for the last two general elections. We supported our case by pointing out the compelling fact that although the State Premiers, at two Premiers’ Conferences, had asked for the same thing, the Government had refused to hold an inquiry. Obviously, this Government is not very much interested in education. On the occasion of the last Federal general election, on behalf of the Labour Party, I made a number of promises. I said that we would give 5,000 additional university scholarships at a cost of £5 million. The Government proposed to give nothing in this field and has given nothing. I said that Labour would establish a Commonwealth scholarship system in the field of teacher training. Why should not this be done? We cannot have good schools unless we have good teachers. And we cannot have good teachers unless we train them. The present Government will do nothing about technical education. I said that Labour would establish a Commonwealth scholarship system in this field. I did not say how far we would go, but we would have gone the limit. The Government said that it would give 2,500 scholarships at £100 each, representing a total cost of £250,000. Does this make sense in this age of automation and mechanisation?
– This year it has allocated only 60 per cent, of the scholarships promised.
– It is making children fight for them.
– It is making children fight for scholarships and reducing mothers, fathers and children alike to nervous prostration as the children fight for this miserable number of small scholarships. My friend, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), a moment ago made a sapient observation that I did not catch clearly.
– I said that this year the Government has allocated only 60 per cent, of the scholarships promised.
– That is so. This also shows that the Government was not honest when it made its election promises. It was merely throwing out the equivalent of chicken feed - I do not like to mix my metaphors - in an effort to win votes. The Australian Labour Party promised to spend £15 million on secondary school scholarships for all children in all grades at all secondary schools.
– When was that promised?
– During the last Federal general election campaign. Was not the honorable member around then?
– Did the people respond?
– They made a mistake.
– Of course they did. The great virtue of democracy is that the people have the right to make a mistake and they also have the right to rectify it at the next election. I hope that we shall have a new member for Mallee after the next election.
– Did not the honorable member, as leader of the Australian Labour Party, say that our aim was to give a scholarship to every person who could qualify?
– Yes. I said that we would provide £15 million for secondary school scholarships. The Government has provided only £1 million. Labour promised 15 times as much as this Government has given. The Labour Party also promised an inquiry into education at the primary, secondary and technical levels. We promised to establish a national science foundation, to give tax concessions for research and to provide 1,000 overseas scholarships for young men and women. These things would have cost £10 million, but the expenditure would have been a very good investment. All that this Government did to honour the promises that it made in an effort to get votes was to provide grants for the building of science blocks, at a cost of £5 million. The Australian Labour Party promised to spend an additional £30 million on uni versity, secondary and scientific education. The Government promised only an additional £11,250,000, and it has not even honoured its promises. It has not held an inquiry into education. The expenditure of £30 million promised by Labour was exclusive of teacher training and technical scholarships. This Government is not dealing honestly with the people in this matter. It does not want an educated democracy.
– It does not. If it does, why does it not do more? Why does it not meet the meeds of the State Governments in relation to education expenditure? This country is rich enough and powerful enough to be able to spend on education as much as is required and to be able to spend as much as is necessary to relieve the poverty that exists in the Australian community. There are some things about which a nation should never be remiss and which it should never neglect. One is the education of the people. The other is the care of the handicapped. This Government fails in both respects. The greatest barrier to progress in education in Australia is the complacency of the Menzies Government. Senator Gorton, who is the Minister in charge of education - or, rather, the Minister in charge of no education - has denied that there is a crisis in education. That denial would raise a horse laugh in the Cabinets of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, where more than seven million of Australia’s Hi million people live and where, in each instance, there is an anti-Labour Government.
The Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research made his denial of the existence of a crisis in education in the very same week in which secondary school teachers in Victoria decided to take the extreme step of holding a one day stoppage in protest against the condition of the education system in Victoria, which is a conservative State. That was the first of a series of occasions on which the school teachers of Victoria have taken direct action to vindicate their claims and direct the public’s attention to the conditions existing in that State’s education system. The complaint of the Victorian secondary school teachers goes far deeper than a very justifiable discontent with their own wages and conditions.
The honorable member for Mallee - like me - comes from Victoria and, if he does not know the position he ought to know it. A very serious position exists in education in Victoria and every other Australian State.
The secondary school teachers in Victoria are deeply concerned at the appalling condition of secondary education there - the overcrowded classrooms, the shortage of staff and the poor and in many cases almost non-existent amenities in schools. They know that there is a crisis in education even if the Commonwealth Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research does not. This complacency with which I have charged the Government - this denial of what teachers, educationists, school administrators and parents know to be only too true - is one of the best reasons why there should be a national inquiry into education along the lines suggested in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Barton. We of the Labour Party have been pressing this point of view for many years. Many benefits would flow from such an inquiry and not the least of them would be that it would destroy any room for complacency either on the part of the Government or on the part of the general public.
We have to educate the public about education. The Australian people must be fully informed of the shortcomings and inadequacies of the education system in Australia. Despite the complacent claims made by the Government, Australia’s recent record in education is anything but satisfactory. Professor P. H. Karmel, a member of the Martin Committee as well as of the ill-fated Vernon Committee, has shown that in the university age group - the group aged from 20 to 25 years - Australia runs last in a list of 23 advanced countries. The proportion of children in the 15 to 19 years group attending schools is less than half as great as that in the Soviet Union and only one-third of that of the United States of America.
In “Time” magazine of August 15th - I am a devoted reader of that journal - it is stated that 71 per cent, of the 17 year olds in the United States of America are attending high schools. The comparable figure for Australia in 1961 was 26 per cent. Thirty per cent, of American children in the college and university age group are still undergoing education and the comparable figure for Australia is 2.5 per cent. This year the United States will spend 42 billion dollars, or something like £20,000 million Australian on education. On all forms of education Australia would probably spend something less than one-fiftieth of that amount, although it has more than one-twentieth of America’s population. Indeed, in the proportion of our national income devoted to education we rank behind countries like Spain, Portugal, Egypt and Turkey. Australia, however, claims to be an advanced country. We cannot preserve our place, we certainly cannot continue to advance and the quality of our civilisation cannot be enhanced unless we are prepared to take the matter of education seriously. This Government is not taking it seriously.
– The same amendment as that moved by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) on behalf of the Opposition today has been submitted during the debate on this proposed expenditure for many years. All the Opposition speakers so far have quite ignored the great changes that have taken place in the education systems of the States. They have made very little mention of this change. They ignored the massive assistance, which the Commonwealth is giving to the States both directly and indirectly in many ways, and which can be applied for education purposes. Indeed, many years ago the Opposition was pressing for Commonwealth assistance to the States in regard to education. When we did give that assistance to the States honorable members opposite did not like it and they opposed it at the last general election.
The Opposition’s amendment implies that the very effective partnership which has been built up with the States in the field of education should be abandoned. It is a partnership which has produced very spectacular results. Its basis is that the Commonwealth has made direct grants to the States for education in the tertiary field, where the activities it assists are not specifically the concern of the State Governments. By that statement I mean that, although the universities are set up under the laws of the States, they are autonomous institutions. That is why the Commonwealth began this direct assistance to the universities. It is in the course of extending this direct assistance to other institutions which will develop a new concept of tertiary education outside the universities.
I would like the Committee to hear some figures showing what this partnership has meant in financial terms. In 1950-51 the States expended £38 million from Consolidated Revenue on education, and that amounted to 21 per cent of the State budgets. In 1958-59 the corresponding figures were £112 million and 25 per cent., and in 1964-65 they were £209 million and 28 per cent respectively. Everyonewill agree that that represents an enormous increase. Why were the States able to do this? It was because over the same years the Commonwealth’s general revenue grants to the States, which included the States’ requirements for education, rose from £103 million in 1950- 51 to £226 million in 1958-59 and £398 million in 1964-65. If one looks at those general revenue grants in terms of amounts per head of population one finds that they rose from £19 10s. per head in 1951- 52 to £30 per head in 1958-59 and just under £49 per head in 1964-65. To listen to honorable members opposite one would think that the State Governments have not been able to effect any improvements in their education systems at all.
– I did not say that.
– I would like to hear the view of the honorable member for Barton about the pupil-teacher ratio, because in all government schools that ratio has improved from one teacher to 29 pupils in 1958 to one teacher to 25 pupils in 1964. Referring again to the way in which the Commonwealth has directly or indirectly assisted the States in education, I mention that there is a special effort to direct the funds available to the areas of greatest need. In 1964-65 the Commonwealth provided £5 million for secondary science laboratories and equipment in government and independent schools, and another £5 million for capital development related to technical education. I mention the indirect assistance granted by the Commonwealth because it must be remembered that before the Commonwealth Government intervened in the field of tertiary education that burden was borne directly by State Government budgets and the Commonwealth Government is now giving quite massive assistance to tertiary education. This has a consequent effect in relieving the State Governments of some responsibility in this field. Commonwealth aid in the sphere of tertiary education in the current financial year has meant £22.5 million of grants direct to State universities, £1 million for colleges of advanced education and over £5 million in Commonwealth university scholarships, as well as £3 million for secondary and technical school scholarships.
I interpose here briefly to mention that it has been suggested that only 60 per cent, of the technical school scholarships have been allotted and that the Commonwealth is not giving students the opportunity to take up these scholarships. The truth of the matter is that a great deal of exploratory work had to be done in the various States to rationalise the procedures for qualifying for these scholarships. Now the procedures have been established, new courses have been made available, the scholarship opportunities have been widened and the call for applicants has been widely advertised. As a result, it is expected that practically all these technical scholarship vacancies will be filled towards the end of this year.
– That is not what the Minister said.
– He said that some time ago. I suggest that the amendment completely ignores the great changes that have taken place in the education picture of the Commonwealth. Opposition members are living in the past, as they so often do. The States were in a situation of great difficulty when the school population increased enormously in relation to the general population growth and the resources available to the States. I do not suggest that the education position is ideal. It will never be ideal while the Government does not have unlimited resources available to it. But all governments, State and Federal, must ration the resources that are available to them among the responsibilities that they have. I suggest it is quite wrong to try to stampede the people into thinking that there is a crisis in education or that there should be the kind of inquiry that has been suggested by Opposition members.
Indeed, I was rather surprised to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) repeat a large catalogue of promises that had been made by the Australian Labour Party at the time of the last election, apparently quite ignoring the fact that he has asked for an inquiry. He has determined in his mind that the implementation of his promises is necessary or would be useful, without establishing whether in fact these matters are required. The honorable member for Barton gave precise figures that had been set by the State Premiers as their education requirements. Again this seems to suggest that no inquiry into needs is necessary. The Premiers have made up their minds about what they want and, of course, it is their function to try to extract as much money from the Commonwealth as they can. I do not imagine that they would object to some form of inquiry that would give them the opportunity to take these precise amounts from the Commonwealth. But this does suggest that they already know what they want. Again it is the responsibility of the States to determine these matters. They have their own means of establishing what they need in their own areas.
.- I desire to speak on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department and I intend to direct my remarks mainly to Item 430 - Public Service Board. I want to say at once, however, that I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and I declare myself in favour of the nation spending all the money it can afford in educating all the children of Australia.
My purpose is to discuss the Public Service and my remarks will deal with the political control and the administration of the Public Service. I believe that there is an urgent need now to have a review of the activities and ramifications of this organisation, which is so important and so vital in the development of this nation. I should like to pay a tribute to those dedicated people in the Public Service who have served this nation faithfully and well over the years and to acknowledge the very great contribution made by them. However, 1 believe that there is undoubtedly a situation of disquiet developing within the Public Service due, to a large extent, to ministerial rivalries and jealousies affecting departments. This was borne out quite recently when the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) encountered diffi culties when he tried to appoint Mr. Carmody as the head of the Industries Division of his Department. Honorable members will well remember that at the last election the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) specifically promised to expand the Department of Trade and that industry would find an important place in the expanding economy of this nation. I have a copy of the Prime Minister’s policy speech of 1963 here. It contains the following statement -
To make this clear, we propose to alter the name of the Department from “ Trade “ to “ Trade and Industry “, and to create in it a special Secondary Industry Section under a very senior and responsible official, working immediately under the Minister and the Secretary to the Department.
Immediately after the Prime Minister had made this promise, the Minister for Trade and Industry, in his workmanlike way, set about implementing it. There was an immediate deadlock and months passed before the deadlock was resolved. It was resolved finally when the Prime Minister came down on the side of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Public Service Board and declared against the Minister for Trade and Industry and against Mr. Carmody taking the higher position at the higher rate of salary.
Questions were asked in the House and they created a considerable amount et’ interest and publicity throughout the country. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) asked a question of the Minister for Trade and Industry, who made it clear that he was dissatisfied with the position. In his reply to the honorable member for Lalor, the Minister said -
It must have been. I now disclose for the first time that I did propose, for the senior and responsible officer to take charge of the Industries Division, a salary of the order stated by the honorable member. I do not remember the hundreds of pounds, but the figure was of that order. No-one in the Department of Trade and Industry, other than the Secretary of that Department, knew that; and I believe that, apart from him, no-one outside the Cabinet knew that. I want to make clear a point that emerges. The delay in the appointment of a senior and responsible officer to take charge of the Industries Division of the Department of Trade and Industry is not related to a demanded or requested salary because, so soon as I found that the issue was turning on the question of salary, I withdrew the request completely. The subsequent discussions have been conducted without any reference whatever to any salary proposed by me, other than that I said that I hoped that when, in due course, a senior and responsible officer was appointed he would not receive a salary lower than that of the second and third assistant commissioners in the National Capital Development Commission.
These are strong words from the Minister for Trade and Industry. The “ Australian “ on 19th May of this year had banner headlines saying “ McEwen Attacks Plan to Shuffle His Secretaries “. These words were read throughout the length and breadth of Australia and there was no doubt about the situation. There was rivalry, discontent and great dissatisfaction because it was felt in many quarters, especially in the Liberal Party, that the Minister for Trade and Industry, who is the Deputy Prime Minister, might advance his claim for succession against the Treasurer if action were to proceed along these lines and the Government were to appoint an officer of the type of Mr. Carmody who, with his dynamic drive, would have dealings with leaders of industry, governments, semi-governmental authorities, mayors, shire presidents and others throughout Australia. The “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 25th May carried a headline: “ McEwen ‘ Steamrollered ‘ But He Wasn’t Dead!” Most of the newspaper articles on this subject are too lengthy for me to read now. In the “ Political Notes “ section of the magazine “ Incentive “ we find further information. Under a heading “ Sir Robert Backs Mr. Wheeler Against Mr. McEwen “ the magazine states -
At his Press Conference on June 3, just before going overseas, Sir Robert Menzies openly supported the stand of the Chairman of the Public Service Board, Mr. Wheeler, against Mr. McEwen over the appointment of a senior officer to the Industries Division of the Department of Trade and Industry. The Prime Minister came out openly for no political interference in the Public Service and said Sir Alan Westerman and Mr. Wheeler would have to work out their dispute between themselves. This rebuff will not be appreciated by Mr. McEwen who is bound to try some other way around this difficult problem.
The Minister for Trade and Industry has gone on resolutely trying to deal with this problem. While the Committee is considering this matter I want to refer to the serious effect that the failure to make an appointment has upon the nation and the serious blow that it is to our economic planning.
Let us think about what the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry, has been trying to do. We know that there is an officer who is adminis trative head of the Department of Trade and Industry. The, Minister for Trade and Industry wanted an administrative head of the Industries Division of the Department, to look after the interests of secondary industry. Who among us will say that secondary industry should have a subordinate role in Australia to primary industry? These are twin industries, vitally related to the progress, prosperity and development of our country. I have figures from <the Bureau of Census and Statistics showing the value of the production of secondary industry for 1963-64. No less than £2,634 million worth of production came from secondary industry during that year. But, despite that massive production, the Public Service Board, no doubt with some interference from the Treasurer, backed by the Prime Minister, thwarted the efforts of the Minister for Trade and Industry and prevented him from carrying out the promise in this respect that was made to the people by the Prime Minister at the last general election.
The Government created the Industries Division of the Department of Trade and Industry as a result of its election promise in 1963. The Government’s fight for survival after the 1961 election was a very difficult one and it wanted to get through to the manufacturers throughout Australia and tell them that their interests would have no less a place in the considerations of the Government than those of primary industry. But the position changed when the Government came back with a massive majority after the last election. Before the election the Government bowed to the pressure from the Opposition to have a separate department created to deal directly with Australia’s vast industrial development and her rich potential, but now it has prevented the Industries Division from doing the job for which it was created.
I want to criticise in the strongest possible terms the political direction of the Public Service Board in this respect. There has never been a more urgent need to review the activities of the Department of Trade and Industry in relation to secondary industry so as to make it more effective in serving the nation. Mr. Carmody was not elevated to the position to which he was entitled. Ministerial jealousies and rivalries should have no place in this country; neither should they have any place in the Public Service. We should clear the decks for action and try to go ahead in a straightforward way in major matters affecting Australia. Mr. Carmody is still an officer of the Department of Trade and Industry and is doing an admirable job. I say quite definitely that the desires of the Minister for Trade and Industry in this matter, although he is the leader of the Country Party and far removed from the Australian Labour Party’s point of view on many subjects, should have been respected. If what the Minister wants were done, it would mean that industrialists would have someone to go to. However, the Liberals do not want a Country Party man to have a chance to spread his Party’s influence in (his way.
Looking at the salaries paid to senior public servants, it seems that in some instances there is a complete disregard of the value of the work and the services performed by some men. I think of the Government’s attitude not only to Mr. Carmody but also to Dr. Rex Patterson, who was, in effect almost dismissed by being moved from one position to another.
Looking at the salaries paid to various officers, I find that the Secretary of the Joint House Department gets £5,200 a year. The Secretary of the Department of the Interior receives £7,500. The Director of the News and Information Bureau is shockingly paid at £4,465. Senior Assistants in the Northern Division of the Department of National Development receive £4,785, which is £415 less than is paid to the Secretary of the Joint House Department, who looks after the bar, the refreshment rooms and parks and gardens. Here is the great and challenging job of planning this nation, tapping its resources, pioneering and building a department, yet the departmental head responsible for this receives £415 less than the person in charge of parks and gardens, the bar and refreshment rooms. Could anything be more ridiculous or more absurd? This situation needs to be reviewed and there is an urgent need for it to be done. Mr. Carmody, in his present job, is receiving £1,875 less than the head of the Department of Primary Industry and the head of the Department of the Interior. Surely the man responsible for this massive undertaking in secondary industry should receive as much as the head of the Department of Primary Industry and the head of the Department of the Interior. The figures are staggering; they show the absurdity of the situation that we have at the present time and the urgent need to review these matters.
The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry receives £5,625 and the Deputy Auditor-General receives £5,205. But the Chief Archivist receives £2,779 - he is hardly paid at all. I had much more to say about these matters, but I regret that time will not permit me to develop my arguments. If anybody today - any mayor, any shire president or any industrialist - wants to speak to anybody about decentralisation of industry, there is no named person to whom he may speak. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and the Minister for Trade and Industry both disclaim responsibility for this field. This is a crime and a disgrace to this country.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As far back as 1960, on behalf of the Opposition, I had the opportunity and the privilege to move an amendment which was very similar to the one that is now before the Committee. It was an amendment designed to attract the attention of the Parliament and the nation to the great needs of education. I am delighted that this afternoon my colleague from Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has led a similar fight in this chamber and that, with all the expert material that he has at his disposal as one of the leaders of the Opposition’s education committee, he. has indicted this Government for its great indifference to primary, secondary and technical education in Australia. It is appropriate that we should use the forms of the House. The honorable member for Barton has moved a motion which states that we should reduce the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department by £1 as an instruction to the Government to conduct an inquiry into all aspects of primary, secondary and technical education and to accept the Martin Committee’s recommendations on teacher education. This is the issue which has been predominantly concerning the Committee during the discussion of the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department.
I suppose that for more than 10 years this has been the predominant topic during the discussion of these estimates. After all, when we speak of the school children in Australia and the young people under 16 years of age, we refer to no less than one third of the population. They are obviously entitled to some of the talking time of this Parliament. What is their future? Are they to be under-educated in this era of technology? One can understand the consternation and anxiety which pervades the community when so many parents have children attending schools which are bereft of adequate facilities and adequately trained teachers. Then there are those parents who are anxious that their children should go to the university but who are denied the financial assistance which is necessary to enable them to carry on.
At the present time 25 per cent, of the Australian population is at school. In a few moments I hope to indicate the extent to which these young people are being deprived of a fair go. The inquiry which members of the Opposition suggest should be established has been called for by the people of Australia. This proposal has been advanced by mass conferences which have been held in the Sydney Stadium and in the great halls in Melbourne where I think some 4,000 delegates have attended. Even during this very week in Canberra representatives of parents and citizens associations and parents and friends associations from the various States are discussing this matter again. There is a great national congress going on at the present time. The underlying theme, which has typified the declarations from all these conferences for more than 10 years, is that there should be an inquiry to ascertain the needs of education throughout Australia. Not one member of this Parliament is prepared to stand in his place and say that all is well in regard to class loadings, the standard of training which teachers receive and the standard of buildings. In fact, every honorable member here is obsessed with the idea that there are great deficiencies in the field of education. We should obviously set out to ascertain where they exist and then move in an objective way to overcome them.
A hard fight over this matter has continued for the last 10 years. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has been notorious in his resistance. I remember well that after I made a speech on this subject in 1955, the Prime Minister airily dismissed the whole topic of education as one which had nothing to do with the Commonwealth Parliament. He said that there were constitutional barriers. After this argument was nudged away as the basis for his objection, he took the stand that the States had not asked for an inquiry. When some of them did ask, he then contended that they had not all asked for an inquiry. So there has been a continual shifting of ground in order to sidestep the real issues with which the Australian people are concerned.
On the eve of the last election the Prime Minister decided to show a renewed interest in education, especially tertiary education. Honorable members and the people of Australia remember the innovation of the £5 million assistance scheme to provide science blocks and equipment. That was contrived at election time. One wonders why the Prime Minister decided to invoke the question of the provision of science blocks and equipment as an election gimmick. Why did he disregard the need for teacher training and the need for an increased allocation of funds in order that school buildings could be erected? This decision was arrived at without any inquiry.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Just 10 minutes from now the Parliament will have an opportunity to decide whether a committee of inquiry shall be appointed to investigate the needs of education in Australia. This could be a momentous and historic occasion if honorable members opposite are prepared to face up to the facts of life so far as education is concerned. Before the suspension of the sitting I had said that rather than face up to the problems of primary and secondary education, the Prime Minister had relegated this great issue to the level of electioneering gimmicks.
Only an inquiry could have revealed the aspect of secondary education most urgently in need of Commonwealth aid. The Prime Minister said that £5 million would be made available for the equipment of science laboratories in secondary schools. Expediently he produced this benefit like a man pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Of course, nothing was to be provided for teacher training, teachers’ salaries, school buildings or to raise the school leaving age to a uniformly high level throughout Australia. So many aspects of education could have benefited from the Commonwealth’s desire to assist in secondary education. Surely here was a case of the Commonwealth abandoning the substance for the shadow.
The Opposition on the other hand proposed a secondary school allowance for every secondary student. We proposed to double the number of scholarships available in certain fields to university students. We intended to upgrade endowment. We certainly stood for a full scale inquiry into all aspects of education. In the meantime we intended to provide emergency grants to assist the States.
In “ Education “, the journal of the New South Wales Teachers Federation, the following report appears -
The State Budget, despite some popular concessions, fails to met the real needs of public education in New South Wales. Despite increasing enrolments and rising costs, the Budget provides only a meagre increase - £3.6m. - in the education vote.
The report claims that this increase is the smallest since 1957-58, and states further -
The Budget provides for an increase of less than half a million £s. for teacher training, and most of this will be devoted to a long overdue increase in teacher trainee allowances.
The Martin Committee recommended that the teacher force be increased by 72 per cent, by 1975. The Committee also recommended that the period of training be extended. We cannot blame any State for not being able to face up to the problems confronting it in education. After all, the States are still operating under the old Financial Agreement the effect of which is that about 6s. in every £1 collected in the States is returned to them for all their purposes, including education. Clearly the States can provide for the educational needs of Australian children and young university students only if the Commonwealth is pre- pared to underwrite their activities in education.
I have referred to teacher training because this is an important aspect of education. The Martin Committee not only called for a 72 per cent, increase in the teacher force by 1975 but also emphasised the need to extend the period of teacher training to three years. At present most teachers in Australia receive only two years training. This is not enough to enable them to teach satisfactorily in secondary schools, especially to sixth form boys and girls who should be receiving a very high standard of education. It is clear that many teachers trained in Australia for a mere two years would not be acceptable as teachers in other countries. For example, many would not be accepted in the United Kingdom, where a longer period of training is required.
Dealing with this subject the Martin Committee reported -
Additional resources both State and Commonwealth should be devoted to the urgent task of increasing the supply of teachers in Australia.
That is a clear and unambiguous statement, but the Government has chosen to fly in the face of the advisers whom it appointed. The Martin Committee also reported -
Both the increase in the supply of teachers and the improvement in the quality of their professional preparation are matters of urgency in the interests not only of the schools concerned but of the whole of the nation’s educational structure.
– From which page of the report is the honorable member reading?
– The Martin Committee made many similar statements. I am surprised that the honorable member for Mitchell has not read the report. If he had read it he would have remembered this statement -
Both the increase in the supply of teachers and the improvement in the quality of their professional preparation are matters of urgency in the interests not only of the schools concerned but of the whole of the nation’s educational structure.
The Murray Committee made similar comments. Dealing with the teacher training the Murray Committee, which also was set up by this Government, said -
Unless the schools can be staffed with soundly trained graduates, it is obvious that the whole educational edifice is threatened, for the schools, and the quality of their staff, will determine largely the volume of the flow of students into the universities and of graduates into the community.
Those are important statements. Not only the needs of teacher training but so many other matters justify an inquiry into education.
I have here the results of a survey conducted in New South Wales of class loadings in secondary and primary schools. The ideal class load in a primary school is 30 pupils, but S3 per cent, of classes in New South Wales have loads of 35 and more. In 20 per cent, there are class loads of 40 and more. In some classes there are as many as 45 pupils. Class loadings in secondary schools leave much to be desired. We can see from this survey -
– What survey?
– It is a survey conducted by the New South Wales Teachers Federation.
– Does the honorable member discount the value of the survey? 1 put it forward as a very authentic document. It’ shows that 26 per cent, of secondary school classes in New South Wales have loads of 40 or more pupils. Many other interesting figures are to be found in the report of the survey. For example, it shows that some schools are without libraries or assembly halls and that’ they have inadequate playground areas. There is no point in trying to fix State boundaries for a problem of this kind. I have visited schools in every State and I assure the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) that this problem knows no State borders. It is an Australia-wide problem. In a few moments honorable members opposite will have an opportunity to vote on this issue If they have a genuine regard for the future of their country and if they recognise that only by education can our people keep pace with the great challenges of the technological age, they will, I am sure, in all conscience support the Opposition in its call for in inquiry.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman -
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the proposed expenditure for the Prime Minister’s Department be reduced by £1 (Mr. Reynolds’ amendment).
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, £3,936,000.
.- Mr. Chairman, the Prime Minister’s Department wrote me a letter on 1st October 1965. The result of that letter is that I shall now make a few remarks about the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. The letter I received reads -
Following your telephone request yesterday, I am enclosing a copy of the evidence given by Mr. Anstey to the Royal Commission on 18th and 21st June, 1928.
In making this copy available, may I make two stipulations -
that this copy is given to you for your own personal use, and should not be passed on to a member of the public (questions of sale, relating to Crown copyright in the document, may arise); and
that the Crown copyright in the document be respected.
If you have any questions about the implications of the fact that the evidence is Crown copyright, may I suggest that you refer them to the Attorney-General’s Department? I can, however, say that there would be no objection to your quoting sections of the evidence, e.g. in a speech, or in discussions.
It is signed by a First Assistant Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department. As the letter suggested that I refer any questions to the Attorney-General’s Department, I shall now do so. These are the questions: What is this Crown copyright in connection with evidence submitted to royal commissions? Does it mean that members of this Parliament are not entitled to see evidence submitted, for example, to the “Voyager” Royal Commission, to the Vernon Committee or to the Constitutional Review Committee? Does it mean that if evidence is given at open hearings to which the Press is admitted and at a later date somebody desires to secure that evidence so that he can quote it verbatim, he will not be entitled to secure it? Those are the propositions that I desire to be answered.
I consider that if a royal commission is established by the Government in order to ascertain the rights and wrongs of some issue or to inquire into some national disaster in which the public is vitally interested, then the evidence that is submitted to that body should be available not merely to the members of this Parliament but generally to the people in the community. Members of the community should be entitled to make whatever use of that evidence they consider to be in the public interest. I shall repeat the final sentence of the letter I have received -
I can, however, say that there would be no objection to your quoting sections of the evidence, e.g. in a speech, or in discussions.
If the evidence is Crown copyright and if sections of the evidence cannot be made public at all, why then should I be entitled to quote it? Why should I be entitled to get up and reveal to this Parliament evidence given at a royal commission by Mr. Anstey and have that evidence incorporated in “ Hansard “ where anyone and everyone would have access to it and from which anyone and everyone could quote or could publish in the future?
It is because I consider that all evidence - not only the evidence in the particular case about which I am concerned but also evidence given before all royal commissions - should be made available so that anyone who is interested can secure it, quote from it, and use it for propaganda or for any other purpose if he so desires, that I am asking these questions of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden). I am concerned that this alleged copyright could be merely a cloak behind which the Government desires to hide or by which the Government wishes to protect itself. That is to say, if evidence is given that is detrimental to the government of the day the government could say that Crown copyright applies to that evidence and that therefore it is not to be made available to anyone. On the other hand, if the evidence that is given is of a nature that would promote the interests of the Government, I suggest that the AttorneyGeneral of the day would probably at his discretion waive, the suggested Crown copyright and make that evidence totally and readily available, not merely available to be quoted bit by bit in this Parliament until the total evidence appeared in “ Hansard “, and from there was available for repetition or quotation by members of the general public.
I ask the Attorney-General whether he would be so good as to make clear exactly what this so-called Crown copyright consists of. I admit that I have not the slightest idea as to what it consists of, but if it consists of what this letter apparently conveys, it is altogether an undesirable type of copy right. It is a type of copyright that governments can exercise at their discretion, apparently, in the interests not of the community generally but of the political exigencies of the day. This, I think, is most undesirable, and I hope that at a later stage tonight the Attorney-General will explain to me what Crown copyright is, the extent to which it applies to evidence of all kinds that is given to a royal commission, and whether evidence that is given in public to a royal commission can later be claimed by the government of the day to be the subject of a Crown system of copyright that denies its later free publication.
.- I find it refreshing to note that the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who has just resumed his seat, is reported to be learning Italian. In fact, in view of his admission tonight - to quote his words: “ I admit I have not the slightest idea of what Crown copyright consists of” - I would think that perhaps Crown copyright might not be Italian but all Greek to him.
I would like to direct my remarks this evening to the recently introduced ThirtySeventh Annual Report on Bankruptcy, and I refer to the passage under the heading “ Official Receivers’ Estates Account “, which occurs at page 6 of that Annual Report. I read from the Report -
At 30th June 1965, the balance at credit of Official Receivers’ Estates Account in the various Bankruptcy Districts amounted in the aggregate to £2,946,740 15s. 3d. . . .
Then, Sir, come the words which I emphasise for the purpose of my contribution this evening -
The amount at credit in this account has increased steadily over recent years on account of higher realizations in the numerous estates handled, the increased business involved and on account of shortage of experienced staff resulting in inability to distribute moneys as quickly as desirable. Extra staff has been made available, and efforts are being made to speed up the distribution of funds.
Pausing there, Sir, it occurs to me that it is bad that due to shortage of competent staff the distribution of monies which are held on behalf of members of the public, without interest, is delayed. I had some doubt as to whether this large amount of nearly £3 million was something of recent origin, so I looked at the previous Annual Reports on Bankruptcy. The first which the present Attorney presented was that for 1964. The only thing that differs under the heading “ Official Receivers’ Estates Account “ is the figures. Exactly the same terminology occurs -
The amount at credit in this account has increased steadily over recent years on account of higher realizations in the numerous estates handled, the increased business involved and on account of shortage of experienced staff resulting in inability to distribute moneys as quickly as desirable. Extra staff has been made available, and efforts are being made to speed up the distribution of funds.
Pausing there, Sir, it would occur to me that if in 1964 extra staff had been made available and extra efforts had been made to speed up the distribution of funds, it would not then be incumbent upon the Attorney, in his 1965 report, to reiterate those exact words.
I went back a little further, because it occurred to me that one should get the thing in perspective. I went back to the year 1958-59. In that year the total in the account was £1,263,020. The next year, 1959-60, it had risen to £1,524,282, which was an increase of 20.69 per cent, on the previous year. In the year 1960-61 it stood at £1,770,947, which was an increase of 16.18 per cent, on the previous year. In the year 1961-62 it had advanced to £2,029,144, which was an advance of 14.58 per cent, on the previous year. There was a steady progression again in the year 1962-63, when it stood at £2,321,704, which was an increase of 14.42 per cent, on the previous year. In 1963-64 there was another increase. In that year the amount stood at £2,650,490, an increase on the previous year of 14.16 per cent. Last year, as I have just indicated to the Committee, the total stood at £2,946,741, being an increase of 11.18 per cent, on the previous year.
– In what bank is the account?
– Bankruptcy Rule 406 (4) states -
The Official Receiver shall pay any moneys received by him into a general account, to be called “ Official Receiver’s Estates Account “, at the Commonwealth Bank or at such other bank as is approved by the Treasurer.
That being so, one looks further in the reports on bankruptcy. In the reports by the various Attorneys-General, after the heading “Official Receivers’ Estates Account “ is the heading “ The Bankruptcy
Estates Account” and then the heading “ Bankruptcy Suitors’ Fund “. One notes from the 1965 report that unclaimed dividends and other moneys which are required by section 208 of the Bankruptcy Act to be paid into the Bankruptcy Estates Account stood at 30th June 1965 at £131,103. Then comes the interesting point -
Investments authorised at that date under subsection (6) of that section have a face value of £106,420.
Similarly with the Bankruptcy Suitors’ Fund, section 208 of the Bankruptcy Act permits investment. Taken at face value, it would appear that there is power to have an investment of this sum of nearly £3 million which is held in the Official Receivers’ Estates Account made under section 141 of the Bankruptcy Act. I read that section for the benefit of the Committee -
Whenever the cash balance standing to the credit of the bankrupt’s estate account is in excess of the amount which in the opinion of the trustee is required for the time being to answer demands in respect of the estate, the trustee may . . .
Pausing there, I emphasise that it is not obligatory - . . invest the excess or any part thereof on fixed deposit in such bank and for such term as is approved by the Registrar, and any interest received in respect of the deposit shall be part of the assets of the estate.
I might add that the phrase “ bankrupt’s estate account” there should not be confused with the second heading on page 6 of the 1965 report on Bankruptcy by the Attorney-General, which is “The Bankruptcy Estates Account”. This is relevant under section 208 (6.) of the Act. Section 141, to which I have just referred, relates to each individual estate. I would point out that, in practice, the investment of surplus funds under that section is likely to occur only with the larger estates. I have been unable to find figures for the total amount of money held under the Official Receivers’ Estates Account that has been invested under the provisions of section 141. Obviously, I would have to search each individual estate to check whether any of it had been invested and then would have to calculate the total. Time did not permit this to be done.
However, I would point out that, as the Attorney-General saw fit to say in his annual reports both for 1964 and 1965 that extra staff had been made available, I sought to ascertain what extra staff had been made available. In the Schedule of Salaries and Allowances appended to the Appropriation Act 1964-65, under the heading of “Bankruptcy Administration “ is a line relating to the Inspector-General with whom I will deal later, lines relating to Registrars in Bankruptcy, Deputy Registrars in Bankruptcy, Official Receivers and - this is the item with which we are particularly concerned - a line relating to Accountants, Assistant Official Receivers, Realisation Officers, Clerks and Judge’s Associate. I am told that the people who would be dealing with the estates that I have mentioned this evening would be those mentioned in that category. In 1963-64 there were 69 on strength and, true to the AttorneyGeneral’s report to the Parliament, there was an increase in the number in 1964-65 because it then stood at 85. I think it was fair comment and quite proper for the Attorney to make the remarks he made in his 1964 report. However, when one examines this year’s Appropriation Bill as it relates to the Bankruptcy Administration of the Attorney-General’s Department we note that the number that had risen to 85 in 1964-65 was increased by the large number of 4 to 89 in the year with which we are now dealing. I should not think that within the ordinary meaning of language one could say that extra staff had been made available and that efforts were being made to expedite the allocation of funds. One might ask: Why are not more staff being made available? To me the answer is quite clear. The amount of salary offered to these people is not sufficient. If one examines the salaries, one sees that the people who would be dealing with this class of work would be base grade clerks, whose maximum salary is £1,381, assistant realisation officers, whose maximum salary would be £1,629, and realisation officers, who, be it noted, must be qualified accountants, and whose maximum salary would be £2,125. These officers deal with the collection, realisation and distribution of estates. I would submit that the range of salary is too low. It must be sufficient to attract people to the Department. This is the responsibility of the Public Service Board. I do not think that we can run our Bankruptcy Administration on the cheap.
I have before me the report of the Committee Appointed by the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth to Review the Bankruptcy Law of the Commonwealth. In that report, under the heading “ InspectorGeneral in Bankruptcy “ the following appears -
It appears to the Committee to be desirable that the existing provision for an Inspector-General to supervise the administration of the Act should be continued.
Mr. Jaques was the last full time InspectorGeneral to my knowledge. Since his death there has been no full time InspectorGeneral. The officer at present acting in that capacity, according to the “ Commonwealth Directory “, is also in charge of the Victorian Bankruptcy Branch. I would suggest that an important job such as that of Inspector-General in Bankruptcy cannot be done by a person who has a full time job in his own State. One need only examine the Bankruptcy (Inspector-General) Regulations, which were introduced in 1928, to note the powers and responsibilities of I he Inspector-General. Regulation 3 (d) imposes on him the responsibility - it says “ shall “, not “ may “ - to - . . visit periodically the central offices of the several Bankruptcy Districts and examine generally the records of the proceedings in the several Districts and shall, whenever he deems it necessary, examine the work of any Registrar, Deputy Registrar or Official Receiver, in any Bankruptcy District.
Regulation 4 (a) states -
The Inspector-General may require the production of any books or accounts kept by any Registrar or Official Receiver.
I would urge that we again have a full time Inspector-General. In fact I am pleased to note in the Bankruptcy Bill, which the Attorney-General introduced recently, that the provision in the existing legislation relating to the office of Inspector-General has been continued in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee Appointed to Review Bankruptcy Law and, furthermore, that the powers and responsibilities of this particular officer have been incorporated in the Bill and have not been left in the regulations. I hope that an Inspector-General will be appointed in due course. I hope, too, that the Public Service Board will see fit to increase the salaries of officers carrying out the responsible work of administering this legislation, including investing surplus funds held in trust for members of the public. This latter duty is covered by clause 172 of the Bankruptcy Bill. I trust that the money will be disbursed to the people entitled to it more rapidly than has been the case in the past. I realise that there are administrative problems but, with large estates, money should be invested so that people do not lose interest.
.- It is with some trepidation that I venture to speak on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. I did so last year when, according to the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), I dealt with eight or nine matters. In fact, there were a few more than that. He chided me for being superficial about them. I must plead guilty to that in dealing with so many matters in so short a time. Perhaps he might admit that his reply was both superficial and supercilious. My task on this occasion is easier because, in the intervening 13 months, nothing has been done except in relation to one of these matters. I would not be so ungenerous as to suggest that we could yet be sure of the Attorney’s political incompetence in matters of law reform. I think, however, we may begin to suspect his political indifference to them.
The first matter that I raised last year was in support of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) who suggested that the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act might be better administered by the Attorney-General than by the Treasurer. Nothing has been done on this matter.
The next matter I mentioned concerned pending legislation to deal with maintenance of wives who were deserted by husbands going to other States. This matter was discussed last year, according to an answer the Attorney-General has given me, by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. This answer has not yet been circulated, but I think it will be circulated later today. It is the answer to the question I put on the notice paper on 31st August. It appears that this legislation is still being circulated. As far as the Commonwealth and most of the States are concerned, the legislation is not yet in force. However, the problem is increasing. When I spoke last time, 11,500 women were receiving the widow’s pension because they were deserted wives. At the end of last June the number had risen to over 12,000.
The third matter I dealt with related to compensation for victims of crimes of violence. I asked the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) about this on Tuesday. He gave me an answer the same night in writing. He is not in charge of all features of the matter. He gave me, however, the facts as one feared they were - that until the Social Services Act is amended it is not possible for the States to legislate for persons who are injured by crimes of violence to receive lump sums or periodic payments for their injuries without losing the social service benefits that they get under Commonwealth legislation. When I spoke last year such legislation was already in operation in New Zealand and Great Britain. Since then it has come into operation in the most populous State of the American Union, California.
The fourth matter I dealt with was Federal legal aid. There is still no further assistance than there was a year ago for persons facing trial under Commonwealth acts or in Commonwealth courts. There has been no positive contribution, and very little response by the Federal authorities, to the suggestions for collaboration with the States and with the legal profession in extending the fields of legal aid which are not open to initiative wholly by the Commonwealth. It is not possible for the States to go very far; still less is it possible, for the legal profession to go very far in extending legal aid at present available in Australia. With the co-operation of the Commonwealth there could be a very great expansion. The Commonwealth could, in fact, do as Congress has done on President Johnson’s initiative and see that there is full legal aid in all Federal Courts and under all Federal acts.
The fifth matter I mentioned was that of Federal courts. I asked the Minister on 2nd September what progress he had made in designing the new Federal Superior Court for which Cabinet gave authority in Sep. tember 1962. Apparently no progress has been made since I asked the question and none could be stated when I asked a similar question a year ago. At least we have had some reaction to our suggestion that judges of the High Court, all of whom are members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, should hear in Australia appeals from State Supreme Courts to the Privy Council. The answer was that the present Government was not interested. This is a very easy administrative matter to achieve.
– Did I understand the honorable member to say that the matter of Federal courts is a very easy administrative matter to deal with?
– No. I referred to the Privy Council and I suggested that administratively the Government could arrange with Great Britain that members of the High Court of Australia, all of whom are members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, should determine appeals to the Privy Council from the State Supreme Courts. This is a matter of administrative arrangement and the Attorney-General told me, in answer to questions on the notice paper, that he had not made those arrangements.
The next matter referred to administrative appeals. Seven years ago I put on the notice paper a question for the Prime Minister which related to this matter. I asked him to bring his answer up to date this year. On 17th August he gave me a list of 46 Acts of this Parliament under which there are methods of appeal from decisions of Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities. There are scores of committees, boards, tribunals, authorities and courts to which there are appeals under these 46 Acts of Parliament. It is a rare Act under which there is not more than one method of appeal. In some cases there are five different types of bodies to which there may be appeals. Administrative appeals in- Australia, as far as the Commonwealth is concerned, are utterly chaotic. Since- there is a proliferation of administrative decisions we ought at least to ensure that the rights of citizens can be reviewed by courts. Such decisions are affecting more and more people in their livelihoods and liberties, but there has been no improvement in the techniques of appeal and no consolidation or co-ordination of them.
The next matter I referred to was a comprehensive one. I mentioned it last year and again this year in a question concerning the proceedings of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State AttorneysGeneral. My own view is that there are very few legal matters indeed which could not be better dealt with under a single law covering the whole of this continent. There are very few economic or social factors which require different laws in different parts of the country. Until, however, we extend the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament - and they are very limited in matters of substantive law - the best we can do is to achieve uniform laws between the Commonwealth and States: The previous
Attorney-General, who is now the Chief Justice of Australia, instituted the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. That Committee has reviewed a great number of matters but has produced very few results. The list of Acts which the present Attorney-General has given me today, in his draft reply to my question, as having been formulated in the period since November last when I previously received an answer from him, shows that there has been in fact no new legislation in this Parliament and very little in the State Parliaments which will increase the volume of uniform legislation.
Honorable members are interested in this matter and I hope that other honorable members will at least try to discover the facts relating to it by putting questions on the notice paper and by speaking in Estimate debates and on other occasions which present themselves to private members. Otherwise members of Parliament, Commonwealth and State, will be presented with a fait accompli. They will be presented with a draft bill and if they reject it or modify it they will imperil the uniform legislation as a whole. The method of producing uniform laws whereby six State Attorneys-General and one Commonwealth Attorney-General deal between them with 13 Houses of Parliament inevitably means that reforms will be made to the extent approved by the most backward House of Parliament in Australia and at the pace of the most sluggish House of Parliament in Australia. Accordingly it is important when discussion is taking place in the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General that members of Parliament should at least show a continuing interest in it. Otherwise we will be told to rubber stamp the Bill which has been introduced or else there will not be uniform laws on the subject. We know the agonising process involved in producing the uniform companies law. There is still not a uniform companies law in Australia.
I come now to some specific laws which are within the Commonwealth’s own powers. I received an answer on them yesterday. On 1 3th May last year the AttorneyGeneral said that he was hoping to introduce a new Acts Interpretation Act. We still have not got it. On 6th April 1962 a Bills of Exchange Act Review Committee was appointed. It reported to the Government on 1st May last year. We still have not got the legislation although the Committee drafted it. In October 1956 the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs urged a review of the Extradition Act. It is still being reviewed We have not yet received the Bill.
Now I want to make an acknowledgment. On 4th August 1954 it was announced that a Bankruptcy Law Review Committee would be set up. It was appointed on 23rd February 1956 and signed its report on 14th December 1962. The previous AttorneyGeneral gave a copy of the report to all honorable members on 20th February 1963. At the end of the earlier session this year we received the Bill. We have had the second reading of it and are awaiting the committee stages. At least this is an improvement since the last debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. It is the first positive step I have been able to acknowledge in all the matters I dealt with during the debate on the Estimates last year.
The most scandalous delay has occurred in regard to the Copyright Law Review Committee. Legislation was promised on 4th August 1954. The Committee was appointed on 15th September 1958 and signed its report on 22nd December 1959. The previous Attorney-General circulated the report to all honorable members on 18th April 1961 but we still have not got the Bill. The Attorney-General told me that he has considered the report and the representations received from interested persons and organisations.
– What is the particular copyright matter which concerns the honorable member so much?
– I will come straight to that point. It is our failure to ratify in particular the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention. As the honorable gentleman knows, there are two other conventions awaiting approval, that of 1948 commented on by the Committee and that of 1961, concluded since the Committee reported. Our failure to ratify the 1952 convention deprives Australian writers and publishers of proper access to the United States market. The United States and Britain have ratified the convention. Until Australia does so, copyright taken out in Australia does not automatically apply in America. Under an interim arrangement America admits 1,500 copies of any book. The Committee on this point said -
The benefits to be derived from accession to the Universal Copyright Convention are obvious, particularly in that it enables Australian copyright owners to receive copyright protection in the United States for published works with a minimum of formality. At present published Australian works do not receive full protection in the United States unless they are manufactured in that country. Adherence to the Universal Copyright Convention would free Australian authors from that requirement as well as other American provisions regarding registration and notice.
The Government should promptly amend the Copyright Act and ratify the Convention, and thus gain access for Australian books to the largest market for books in the English speaking world, the United States of America.
I have not time to go into the advantages of ratifying the other two conventions as well. We use the most widely understood language in the world, not only in books but also on tapes, on radio and television as well as in drama. It ought to be possible for Australia to make a contribution to this colossal universal pool. Until the Government ratines these international conventions it will be unable to give Australian citizens in their home country the right to produce literary works and make a living from them. The delay in this respect is the worst, I believe, of all the delays that I have mentioned, because this is a matter on which the Commonwealth itself could act. It has undoubted power under the copyrights power and the external affairs power.
There was another matter I was about to mention, but I may be able to do so if I have the opportunity of a second period.
.- I wish to mention a question of administration in the Attorney-General’s Department, namely the refusal of the Attorney-General’s fiat in Lawson’s case a few months ago. Let me remind the House of the circumstances. The Australian Wool Board was preparing to spend large amounts of growers’ money on promoting a certain vote at the forthcoming poll on the reserve price plan, and Mr. Lawson obtained opinions on this from counsel. I have the opinions here. The first was obtained from a Mr. Aickin, Q.C., who is, I understand, the leading constitutional lawyer in Melbourne. The second was obtained from Mr. Holmes, Q.C., who is, 1 understand, the leading constitutional lawyer in Sydney. These would be the two most authoritative opinions that could be obtained. I am going to read some extracts from them, but in order to make certain that I do not distort the opinions in any way I ask the Committee for leave to incorporate the two documents in “ Hansard “.
Opposition members. - No.
– Leave is refused.
– Leave is refused? Did I hear aright?
– Yes, leave is refused.
– Very well, Sir. Mr. Aickin said -
In my opinion the powers and functions conferred upon the Board by section 24 do not include the expending of its funds in promoting either its or anybody else’s wool marketing scheme.
Mr. Aickin said that although the Board has the power to make its views known -
It does not follow from that, however, that the Board is empowered to embark upon the promotion of its recommendations in an endeavour to have them accepted either by the Government of the day or by a majority of wool producers.
It seems to me that the kind of publicity and promotion which are referred to fall clearly outside the activities authorised by the Act. There is nothing in the financial provisions of the Act (see particularly section 35) to warrant the expenditure of the Board’s funds in such a manner.
Accordingly I am of opinion that the Board would be acting without authority if it were to expend its funds in the manner referred to in my instructions.
What I have quoted is part of the opinion given by Mr. Aickin. Mr. Holmes, having read Mr. Aickin’s opinion, said -
I may say at once that I’ agree with the views expressed by Mr. Aickin . . .
There is no precise evidence in the material before me as to what expenditure, in fact, has taken place by the Australian Wool Board in this campaign . . . However, if any action is to be taken to restrain the Board, then some precise evidence of what has taken place as well as what is threatened must become available.
I am asked to advise . . . what course of action is open to Mr. Lawson, or for that matter any other wool grower, to prevent the unauthorised use of moneys which have been collected from wool growers under the Wool Tax Acts.
There are grave difficulties in the way of a taxpayer attacking in the Courts the expenditure of moneys raised by way of a tax, even assuming that the expenditure can be identified precisely with the Fund which is raised. . . . This does not, of course, alter the rights, if any, of a person to challenge unauthorised expenditure.
Then he went on to quote a High Court judgment in these terms -
Should the Australian Wool Board engage in activities beyond its functions as so denned, there are, of course, effective procedures to restrain it but an action by an individual asserting a particular interest of his own merely as a taxpayer, to give him locus standi to maintain an action, is not one of those procedures.
Eminent counsel then said - lt is clear that the High Court had in mind not simply the procedures which are available under the Commonwealth Audit Act, but that there would be proceedings of a character designed to restrain improper expenditure by the Board. These could be of two kinds only, namely, (1) a restraint imposed by the intervention of the Minister to the extent he has power to control the activities of the Board and (2) proceedings in the Court.
Then he went on to say that proceedings in the Court cannot be started without the formal fiat of the Federal Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). I am sorry that I have not received the permission of the Committee to incorporate these two documents in “ Hansard “, but I believe the extracts I have read from them will show their character.
The Minister, of course, is thoroughly committed, for personal reasons which have nothing to do with wool, to the proposed scheme, and it could not be expected that he would be willing to use his powers to restrain the Board from what the two most eminent constitutional lawyers in Australia say is improper expenditure of money. Let us get this clear: Something illegal and improper has been done, according to these two opinions, but there is no remedy for it unless either the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) does what he should do but will not do - he will not perform his duty to restrain the Board - or the Attorney-General gives his formal fiat to allow the matter to be brought into the courts - and this is how this becomes a matter properly to be debated in connection with the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. The AttorneyGeneral has refused his fiat; he would not allow the matter to be tested in the courts. This seems to me to be rather unjust and probably rather unusual, because no constitutional matter was at stake in this case. This was not a constitutional matter of power, as will be seen from a reading of the opinions that I have before me. No constitutional matter was involved. The Attorney-General’s fiat, I believe, should have issued in this suit as a matter of course.
May I refer the Minister to the dicta of the Privy Council in the case of the Eastern Trust Co. v. McKenzie Mann and Co. Ltd. I read from the judgment of the Privy Council in this case, as follows - lt is the duty of the Crown and of every branch of the Executive to abide by and obey the law. If there is any difficulty in ascertaining it the Courts are open to the Crown to sue, and it is the duty of the Executive in cases of doubt to ascertain the law, in order to obey it, not to disregard it.
It has been the practice, which I hope never will be discontinued, for the officers of the Crown to throw no difficulty in the way of any proceeding for the purpose of bringing . matters before a Court of justice where any real point of difficulty that requires judicial decision has occurred.
No-one can say that there is no point requiring judicial decision here. As I have said, the two most eminent lawyers in Australia, Aickin and Holmes, have stated definitely and unequivocally in writing that the Australian Wool Board has acted wrongfully in the expenditure of this money obtained from growers on one-sided propaganda for its scheme. These lawyers have said this. Therefore, it is beyond doubt that there is a colorable case. These two gentlemen of very great eminence, would not give their opinions, which are quite unequivocal in the terms that I have read, unless there were at least a colorable case. No AttorneyGeneral can simply wipe these men off and say: “They are rubbishing and of no account. Their opinions are worthless. There is no colorable case. I shall not allow it to go to law. It is a purely vexatious action.” That would be an intolerable view for any Attorney-General to take.
In this matter, there are two clear duties on the Attorney-General. The first is to see that the point at issue is decided in the proper court. The law, if there is any doubt about it, can be declared and determined only by the proper court. The second duty, I believe, is for the Minister to restrain the Wool Board from the improper use of public funds for propaganda purposes. These two eminent lawyers whose opinions I have given say that the use made of the funds in this instance is improper.
– But they do not know.
– The honorable member says that they do not know anything about the subject. As a matter of fact, they know a considerable amount about the law - perhaps even more than he does. But I do not want to put the matter too high. It seems to me that, whatever may be the position in the Attorney-General’s Department, the Attorney-General should have followed one of two possible courses: He should have agreed with this opinion, which was put before him, and told his colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, that his instrumentality, the Wool Board, was acting illegally and that he should prevent it from using public funds in this illegal and improper manner. Alternatively, the AttorneyGeneral, if he had any doubt as to the correctness of that course in this case, should have given his formal fiat, the giving of which is only a formality, in order to allow the matter to be tested and determined in the proper court as it should be. He should have done one or other of these things, Sir. If he has any doubt at all, he should let the matter go to the court. He would not approve a proposition by letting the matter go to the court. Of course not. All that he would do would be to give some locus standi to the plaintiff so that the matter could be determined properly in a court of law. Surely the dicta of the Privy Council that I have quoted are sufficient to make it clear to the Minister, as Attorney-General, what his duty in this case is. I know that there has sometimes been some reluctance by a Commonwealth Attorney-General to give his fiat. If there is a precedent for this reluctance, it is an improper precedent and the practice of the Attorney-General’s Department should be changed. I hope that by administrative action the AttorneyGeneral will change it.
I say again that in this instance any precedent based on the proposition that this is a constitutional issue would not have application. I have endeavoured to put before honorable members the full opinions of the two counsel whom I have named, but, because somebody objected, all tha material will not appear in “ Hansard “. However, if honorable members will read these opinions, they will see that no constitutional issue is raised by these two learned gentlemen. I ask the Attorney-General to reconsider the matter, Sir. It may be too late to rectify the damage that has been done. In my opinion, this money has been improperly expended. These eminent counsel, with whom I find myself in agreement, for what my opinion is worth, have stated in their written opinions that public money has been improperly expended on propaganda. It is quite unfair, when the growers are divided on this matter, and have subscribed these funds together, to spend the money on propaganda all for the one side. We have seen a propaganda campaign which has been unparallelled in its intensity and which has been based on a good deal of misrepresentation. This should have been stopped. It may be too late now. It may be that it is of no use to lock the door after the horse has got out of the stable. But the way to stop what has happened would have been for the Attorney-General to have done the proper thing and to have issued his fiat when the matter was brought to his attention some months ago.
.- Mr. Chairman, I want to say a few words on an important matter that has a bearing on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. I am deeply concerned at the remarks made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), and particularly at this time to his observation about locking the door after the horse has got out of the stable. I suppose that the AttorneyGeneral, although he might do something about the matter raised by the honorable member, perhaps feels that the V.A.T.C. could deal with this under the ballot system. The first of the important matters that I wish to raise concerns inflation. I raise this matter in connection with the salaries paid to Commissioners of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which is administered by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
I have searched the Australian Press for reports of a speech made in Brisbane last night. Apparently, the Australian Press, apart from the Brisbane newspapers, has refused to publish reports of this speech. However, as quite a number of honorable members know, Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia and it has a very responsible and reliable Press. Therefore, I am sure that when I quote reports in the Brisbane newspapers, they will be readily accepted by honorable members. I refer to a speech made in Brisbane last night by Professor Gifford, a learned gentleman. I think it is worth while to place his views on record so that the people of Australia may be able to read the important opinions given by him on this matter of inflation, despite the refusal of the Australian Press, apart from the Brisbane newspapers, to publish his views. The speech was paid for by the English, Scottish and Australian Bank which, as honorable members know, is a private banking institution. Professor Gifford went to Brisbane to deliver his lecture on economics. Let me say in reply to the interjector who thinks he can bowl me by asking what Professor Gifford is professor of, that he is Research Professor in Economics at the University of Queensland. He made the point that wages are not the major factor contributing to inflation, which this Government could control. Mr. Chairman, I hope you will permit me to quote verbatim from a report of the speech. I will not ask to have the document incorporated in “ Hansard “ because a little while ago, encouraged by honorable members opposite, I tried to have another document included, but the Minister in charge of the House at that time refused me the necessary permission, although the overwhelming opinion was in favour of it being granted.
– Order! The honorable member will be permitted to quote from the report of the speech provided it is relevant to the subject before the Committee.
– I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that in my opinion it is very relevant to the salaries being paid to officers of the Attorney-General’s Department. Professor Gifford said -
Many attempted explanations of continuous inflation hid, or played down, this Government’s role.
In actual fact, all that trade unions or wagefixing authorities can do is to adjust standard, or legal minimum, wage rates to some extent with relation to the existing price level and at the expense of profits.
Price level is determined by what the central Government does in the realm of monetary and fiscal policy-
– Order! I remind the honorable member that when he was about to begin quoting from the report of this speech I said that, to be in order, it had to be relevant to the subject being discussed by the Committee. What the honorable member has quoted so far has no relevance whatever to the subject under discussion.
– Mr. Chairman, I differ from your ruling, but I do not contest it. I accept it. However, I felt that I was on sound ground. 1 shall not pursue that line, but there will be another opportunity in due course for the people of Australia to be told about what Professor Gifford said on this very important issue.
Let me refer now to one item that is certainly relevant to the proposed vote in respect of the peace keeping corps in Cyprus. I feel that any money that we spend for such a purpose is money well spent. Some little time ago Cyprus was a festering sore, threatening the peace of the world, and there was a grave danger that, because of the number of people of Greek origin spread throughout the world, there could be real trouble. But the United Nations has risen to the occasion and has moved to establish a peace keeping force on this very important island in the Mediterranean.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member should have regard to the items under discussion. A reference to the Australian police contingent sent to Cyprus may be relevant, but the honorable member should not go on to discuss the international situation and the relationship of Cyprus to world affairs.
– I was just about to explain the position to honorable members, but I take it there is no need for me to do so. I want to refer to the excellent record of one Australian policeman who went to Cyprus from Queensland. He was a very distinguished member of the Criminal Investigation Branch in Queensland, and in Cyprus he was outstanding for the tolerant way in which he handled the many problems that arose. This man, Detective Sergeant Glen Halloran received a very meritorious promotion because of the wonderful way in which he dealt with problems in Cyprus.
As the result of the establishment of the peace keeping force, paid for by the United Nations - and to which Australia is making a considerable contribution under the vote we are now discussing - there has descended on this island an aura of peace. I think we have good reason to be satisfied with the situation there now and I hope that a similar state of affairs will come to many other troubled parts of the world. But doubtless, if I tried to mention them now I would be reminded that I would be breaking the rules of debate here, and I have no intention of doing that. As I have said, this officer distinguished himself in Cyprus, after a brilliant record in Queensland. He has now rejoined the Queensland Police Force and I have no doubt that he will bring lustre to it.
I now refer to a matter on which I am perhaps less qualified to speak. However, sometimes when one is least qualified to speak one can speak with authority. I refer to the marriage guidance councils. I can say with feeling that there is no more pitiful sight than a man to whom his girl has said: “ No “. Mr. Chairman, I am not reluctant; I have tried. I feel that everything possible should be done to encourage the preservation of the state of holy matrimony, which the majority of Australian people enter with enthusiasm and with satisfaction. The vote for the marriage guidance councils has been increased this year, and I feel that the experiment is worthwhile. The experiment to which I am referring is not holy matrimony, but the experiment made by a previous AttorneyGeneral who has now been elevated to the exalted position of Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia - the experiment of encouraging the preservation of marriage. Because of Acts for which he was primarily responsible, the Commonwealth now has jurisdiction, over matrimonial causes. This year there is a vote of about £83,000 for the encouragement of marriage guidance councils and I feel that this expenditure will be justified. I believe that any money spent to preserve existing marriages is money well spent.
I rose mainly to speak on other matters which I thought affected the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, but things have not gone my way. However, I give my blessing, for what it is worth, to the marriage guidance councils.
I believe that the £82,000 will be well spent if it preserves only one marriage. I hope that the various churches, especially those in my own city, will continue with the very excellent work they have been able to do with the use of this money in the preservation of this most important state in society. The encouragement given by the Government will then be of value. The matter is not to be treated lightly, Mr. Chairman. All I can say is that I regret that nobody has guided me into this very holy state.
– I hope it will not be necessary for me to take my full time. I want to deal with only a couple of matters and then I will resume my seat. I am impelled to support the plea of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) to provide the finance necessary to test the validity of the action of the Australian Wool Board. I do not know, and I do not think that the honorable member claims to know, whether the two eminent Queen’s Counsel are correct in their assessment of the law, but like him and like anyone else who knows Mr. Aickin and Mr. Holmes, I would not lightly turn aside an opinion that they expressed in the field of constitutional law. They are recognised - rightly, I think - as being amongst Australia’s most eminent authorities on constitutional law. I believe that it is only proper that what they say should be tested in the courts to determine whether the instrumentality referred to has wrongfully used the money that has been allocated to it.
It occurs to me that, if it is correct for the Australian Wool. Board to use money to present only one side of the case - I do not say it is doing that - and if this is outside the objects of the Act or outside the objects of the charter under which these people operate-
– It is not.
– The honorable member says it is not and he may be right. I have a very high regard for his opinion. However, I have been careful not to express an opinion as to whether the Board is doing this. What these eminent Queen’s Counsel have said cannot be lightly brushed aside. If it is correct that the Board is improperly spending money to present only one side of a case, surely this establishes, prima facie at any rate, the right of every union official to use union funds to distribute propaganda, posters, cards and so on in support of his own candidature for union office. This obviously is not legal. The courts have said that this is illegal. It has been declared illegal by the courts in New Zealand. It would obviously be illegal for a union to use union funds to support only one candidate at an election. It seems to me that this would be in line with the case presented by the honorable member. I express no opinion one way or the other; I am careful not to do so. I think the courts ought to determine this matter. It should not be left in the air. It would not be without precedent for the Commonwealth to supply the finance to test this important constitutional point or point of common law.
– If it is necessary.
– Even if it were necessary to provide finance, I see no reason why the Commonwealth should not do so. We have precedents for this. In the important Shearer case, in which Shearer was obliged to test the powers of the Commonwealth Industrial Court in the High Court, the Commonwealth Government very properly provided senior counsel, Mr. Menhennitt of Victoria, to appear on his behalf. Here was a challenge to the validity of a Commonwealth law and someone had to support it. It was not right and proper for Colin Shearer of the Amalgamated Engineering Union to pay the expenses of counsel out of his own pocket. The present Chief Justice of Australia, who was then the Attorney-General, very correctly decided that, since a law of the Commonwealth was under challenge, it was the duty of the Commonwealth to meet the costs of the challenge.
Let me take a different kind of case in which the Commonwealth has again paid the costs of the litigant. I refer to the case of Ansett. Unlike Shearer, who was defending a law of the Commonwealth against challenge, Mr. Ansett commenced litigation against the Commonwealth. He attacked the validity of a Commonwealth law in the High Court. Although he lost the case, the Commonwealth made no effort to recover its costs from him. Only yesterday, the New South Wales Government announced that it would meet the costs of both sides in a Privy Council appeal in which the validity of certain rent legislation in New South Wales was involved. There is plenty of precedent for the Commonwealth paying the costs of legal action.
I turn now to the Legal Service Bureau. It was established, if I am not mistaken, shortly after the war by Dr. Evatt. However, instead of the activities of the Bureau expanding to meet the needs of our increasing population, they have been shrinking. This has happened despite the fact that, since the Bureau was established, the Commonwealth has taken unto itself jurisdiction in new fields, such as matrimonial causes, which were formerly outside the ambit of the Commonwealth.
– The Bureau was intended for ex-servicemen only.
– I appreciate that. It was originally for exservicemen only but, in my opinion, that is no reason why it should not be expanded to meet the case of a person in indigent circumstances who cannot meet the costs of an appeal or an appearance before the High Court. We have, for example, deserted wives who are unable to obtain a divorce from their worthless husbands because their husbands have gone to other States. The wives cannot get assistance from the State departments, which say: “ This is a Commonwealth matter. It has nothing to do with us. We cannot undertake divorce proceedings.” But there are special cases, and this would be one, where the Commonwealth should say: “This is a Commonwealth law and you have certain rights under the law. The fact that you are destitute is no reason why you should be denied your rights under the law, so we will provide counsel for you.” Anyone who saw the television programme “ Four Corners “ a few weeks ago could not help but be struck by the tremendous cost of obtaining justice in Australia. How are we to overcome this situation? Are we to tell Queen’s Counsel and other members of the legal profession that they are to reduce their fees or work for nothing?
– That is exactly what the profession does in some instances.
– I know that it does so in some instances, but is it right that a man who has reached professional status where he is able to command a fee of 100 guineas a day - some command much more, but I am quoting a moderate and reasonable fee for senior counsel - should have to work for a non-paying client when he can command that fee from a paying client? On the other hand, why should a client who is unable to pay that fee be denied his rights under the law of the land, simply because he cannot afford to pay? Here again the Commonwealth has set a precedent, as was mentioned by Mr. Kerr, Q.C., when he was interviewed on the programme to which I have referred.
Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, trade unionists who feel that their union has rules which are tyrannical, unlawful or unjust, or a union member who feels that the officials of the union are using the rules in a tyrannical or oppressive manner, have the right under regulation 138 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Regulations to take the matter to the Industrial Court and to obtain legal aid to meet the cost of challenging the rules. Trade union members have every right to do that, but why should the legal assistance to which I have referred be limited and confined to union members? Every citizen in the community who is unable to meet the cost of such proceedings should be in a position to go to an authority and obtain legal assistance. The union member who wants to challenge a union election can obtain financial assistance from the Commonwealth to meet the cost of the challenge. I believe that we must have a new look at this question of meeting the cost of litigation. There are cases where persons find themselves on the receiving end of vexatious litigation. For instance, there is the case where litigation is being carried on by a very wealthy litigant against one who cannot afford to follow a suit to its conclusion. The person unable to follow the suit through to its conclusion may find himself not only defeated but also obliged to meet the costs of the action in which he was unable to meet the expense of defending himself. We know that there is some way of dealing with vexatious litigation if one can have it declared vexatious, but a man needs money to do this and a poor person is not in a position to meet the cost of such proceedings. I am sorry that I have taken so long to deal with that subject.
Before I close I wish to refer to the cost of transcript. I believe that transcript charges are far too costly. I know that it costs much more to produce a transcript than is received for it. I realise that in proceedings before a court sometimes only two copies of the transcript are paid for and yet a full staff has to be employed right throughout the proceedings. Typists have to be employed and people have to be employed to roneo it. Paper must be supplied and many additional copies that may never be bought must be prepared in case they are needed. I realise all this, but I think that, just as in some other spheres of Government activity it becomes necessary to perform public duties at a loss, the Government should face up to the fact, appreciate the position of litigants and recognise that transcript should be produced at a loss, if necessary, in order to let the litigants have transcript at a reasonable price. Suppose there is an appeal to the High Court from the Industrial Court. It would be necessary for the appellant to buy seven copies of the transcript. In my own case which I had before the Industrial Court some years ago the transcript cost £400. I assume that if I had appealed to the High Court it would have cost me about £2,800 for copies of the transcript, if I had to pay the same rate per folio for the additional copies. I assume that one would have to pay the same for the additional copies as for the original copy. In that case I would have had to pay something like £2,800 in transcript costs. I understand that if I had won the appeal I would have had that cost refunded. At least, that is my understanding of the position.
In conclusion I make this plea to the Minister: Since transcripts have to be roneoed, could he not make arrangements for a bound copy of the transcript of important cases to be supplied to the National Library?
– They are in the Library.
– I thank the Minister for that assurance. I asked last year for that to be done.
– The important ones are in the Library.
– That is all right. One does not need transcripts provided for section 109 cases, but transcripts of cases under sections 140, 141 and 143 should be made available to the National Library in case somebody wants them. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) referred to the transcript of a case heard in 1928. Who would have thought in 1928 that in 1965 a member of Parliament would be asking for a copy of that transcript? It is important that they should be available in the archives.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I want to take the opportunity of raising one or two matters during this debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. One matter which I have regarded as being extremely important and which has received very little attention from this Government or from any government, whether State or Federal, has been the situation of deserted wives. I know that the Attorney-General will remember very well that when legislation was introduced in this place by his predecessor, who is now the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, to provide for uniform legislation in respect of divorce, it was suggested that some improvement would be effected relative to the position of deserted wives. It was said that the opportunity would be sought under the new legislation to provide that wives who were looking for their husbands who had deserted them and were probably living in other States could be given assistance to find them. I know there are great difficulties associated with this matter, but it has been my experience that since the passage of the uniform divorce laws in Australia the situation has not improved.
It is still extremely difficult - in some cases almost impossible - for a deserted wife to be able to locate her husband who has moved interstate. I know that the AttorneyGeneral and all other honorable members must have experienced cases of this nature and would be aware of and would appreciate the difficulty that faces a deserted wife, particularly in locating her husband and in receiving assistance once a claim for maintenance has been made. In her endeavour to lodge a maintenance claim against her husband who has deserted her, she faces difficulty in obtaining the assistance that one might expect would be available to her through the Supreme Court of the State or from those who accept responsibility for these matters. No improvement has been effected in this position since the passage of the uniform divorce legislation. I know that the Attorney-General appreciates the situation that exists in such cases. If a husband deserts his wife and children the wife is obliged to apply to a charitable organisation or to the State welfare department for financial assistance to maintain herself and the children for the succeeding six months. The Commonwealth accepts no responsibility during that period. Indeed, little assistance is given by the Commonwealth in any way at all, either legally or through the Department of Social Services.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) referred only a few moments ago to the situation that applied after the last war. He referred to the Legal Service Bureau that was established by the then Attorney-General, Dr. Evatt. It was of great assistance in the type of case to which I have referred. One can understand the financial difficulties of a deserted wife who is faced with the problem of caring for herself and her children on an extremely limited income. She is dependent on either a charitable organisation or the State welfare department in order to maintain herself and her family. In these circumstances it is very difficult for her to obtain the legal advice that is necessary if she is to pursue a claim for maintenance. As there is no Legal Service Bureau today she must turn for help to the legal aid society, if any, in the town in which she resides.
My experience is that legal aid societies immediately come to the assistance of a deserted wife in this type of case. These societies render an invaluable service. Were it not for them, many social problems would not have been satisfactorily solved and certainly great hardships would have afflicted many more deserted wives than has been the case. But this does not alter the situation. Even after legal aid has been granted, a deserted wife has to lodge a claim for maintenance successfully. It is at this stage that the Attorney-General’s Department ought to be more helpful than it is now. In normal circumstances, once a deserted wife has served a maintenance claim on the husband it is not very long before the deserting husband finds a new address. So the wife is faced with the task of continually going to the police court or to those responsible for dealing with these matters in order to have the maintenance claim served on her husband. I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to the lack of assistance for a wife in these circumstances.
As I said at first, when the uniform divorce legislation was introduced we were told that every effort would be made to improve the situation of deserted wives. But no improvement has been effected. It is still just as difficult for a deserted wife to locate her husband. There is no good reason why government departments which know the address of the deserting husband should not be compelled to reveal it to the police. The repatriation pension of a deserting husband is paid to him wherever he resides, and the deserted wife receives the pension that is normally paid to her. So it is obvious that the Repatriation Department knows the address of the deserting husband. But although the Department knows that a maintenance claim has been issued against the husband it is not prepared to make his address available to the police. There is valid reason for departments to give to the police or those who are responsible for serving a maintenance claim the address of a deserting husband. This is a matter that the AttorneyGeneral might consider very seriously. Is there any good reason why a department should not be obliged to provide the address of a deserting husband, at least to those who are responsible for collecting the maintenance. The reason given is that it has been the practice of departments not to divulge the address.
I concede at once that departments should not indiscriminately make addresses available to people who might seek them. But a department should be allowed to disclose the address of a deserting husband to the agent of the deserted wife. I am sure that the Attorney-General appreciates the difficulties experienced by deserted wives. As I said, when a wife is deserted, for six months she is obliged to rely upon a charitable organisation or the State welfare department in order to maintain herself and her children. I am sure everybody would agree that there is every justification for a department to divulge, at least to the police, the address of the deserting husband. No doubt the Attorney-General appreciates the significance of the point I am making.
I think that for far too long we have condoned the social problems that arise when a husband deserts his wife. In very few cases is the deserting husband actually penalised for leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves or to depend for six months upon a charitable organisation or a State welfare department. At the end of six months, if the wife has applied for a maintenance order against her husband she becomes entitled to a deserted wife’s pension or a class B or class C widow’s pension, under the Social Services Act. But she must wait that six months. At least at the end of it some assistance is guaranteed by the Commonwealth. I appeal to the Attorney-General to consider again the position of deserted wives in this country. Are we to continue to condone the desertion of wives by their husbands? I invite the Attorney-General and all other honorable members to note the number of women in Australia receiving a widow’s pension because they have been deserted by their husbands. This is a social problem. It comes within the jurisdiction of the AttorneyGeneral. I hope that he will give the matter some consideration with a view to charging those husbands who desert their wives and leave them to fend for themselves in circumstances which, I am sure every honorable member agrees, should not exist in this country.
.- The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) dealt at great length with a matter which I had touched on earlier. I had deplored the more than three years’ delay of the AttorneyGeneral and his colleagues in the State Parliaments - perhaps one should say all governments in Australia - in taking action to achieve uniform maintenance laws for this country. I would add only that there is in addition an international convention - the Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance - drawn up by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1956. The Government is still considering whether it should accede to that convention. When Mr. Justice Joske was honorable member for Balaclava he asked the then Minister for External Affairs whether the Government proposed to accede to the Convention. At that time it was thought that Australia should not do so. It was thought that the proper method of recovering maintenance between nations was by bilateral arrangements under the Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act, which applies purely between countries which belong or did belong to the British Empire. There is, however, very incomplete reciprocity between members and former members of the British Empire under that legislation. A competent solicitor could, by looking at an answer that I received to a question three years ago, advise where a defaulting husband could reside with impunity in a British country. If the means were available maintenance would often be sought from countries which are not and never have been in the British Empire. This could be done if the Commonwealth were to adhere to the General Assembly Convention which 1 have cited.
– That would be only with countries which had signed the Convention.
– That is so. It may be that the Government took a political decision, believing that more men than women have come to Australia from such countries and that it would lose the votes of those men if their wives, who are left behind in other participating countries-
– That is an extraordinary thing to say. Surely the honorable member is jesting.
– When, then, is the Government to make a decision about accession to this Convention which was drawn up nine years and four months ago? There can be no question that thousands of Australian residents who would have rights if the Government were to adopt that Convention do not have those rights at present.
In speaking earlier to these estimates I listed matters to which I had referred in the debate on the Estimates a year ago. These all were matters in which the Commonwealth was committed to some legislative or administrative action. I pointed out that in all of these matters the position was not a bit better than it was a year ago, with the solitary exception of the bankruptcy legislation, which is still on the notice paper.
The other matter upon which I wish to speak has never been the subject of promises by the Government. I have dealt with this matter on various occasions during the last eight years - in debates on the Estimates, and in legal conferences and papers. I do not in any way criticise the Government for not implementing the suggestions that I have made. Even my party is not committed to implementing them. Nevertheless, this is a matter that is of great concern. It relates to the most frequent and least appropriate form of litigation in this country - recovery of damages for highway accidents. This is a matter about which there has been a great deal of debate in New South Wales in the last couple of months. The New South Wales Attorney-General has proposed to abolish the trial of such actions by juries. The whole public dispute has revolved around whether such cases should be determined by juries or by the judge himself.
It appears to me that the controversy about this matter completely avoids the central issue of these cases - that is, whether it is any longer appropriate to say that the only way a person may obtain compensation for a highway accident is by going to court. This form of litigation flows from the development of the old actions for negligence. As in all actions for tort, damages must be given in a lump sum or not at all. lt is completely anomalous that if a person is injured in a road accident or is bereaved as a result of a road accident, damages are given in a lump sum. This is quite inappropriate. People in general in this country live by periodic incomes; not by living on investments. It should be possible to devise some means better than the present one. This Parliament cannot displace this form of action except in the Territories or in respect of accidents in which the Commonwealth is itself concerned. Except in those narrow confines it cannot alter the law under which such cases are determined. Nevertheless, it is possible for the Commonwealth to provide an alternative method of compensating those people who are bereaved or injured. In short this may be done through the Department of Social Services on the basis of incomes determined by statements made each year to the Taxation Branch. This is the simplest way in which the matter could be determined. Any eventuality which is covered by almost universal insurance, like medical and hospital expenses, or by compulsory insurance, like industrial and highway accidents, is inevitably on the way to being covered by social services. It is probable that some £30 million a year is paid out in Australia in compensation for highway accidents.
In the means of recovery that are at present used it is uncertain whether a plaintiff will recover damages. He must establish the negligence of the defendant and very often he must show also that he himself did not contribute to the accident by his own negligence. A plaintiff may have to sue two or more defendants and may succeed against only one or some of them. It is uncertain how much damages he will recover. A plaintiff may recover only a lump sum which may prove excessive, for instance, where a woman plaintiff remarries shortly after her case has been tried, or insufficient if inflation occurs in subsequent years. Again, practically always, expense is involved in the present procedure. Legal costs are recouped if the plaintiff succeeds, but it is only a partial recovery in most cases.
There is always delay in these cases. The delay varies in the different jurisdictions and the different States. Throughout the period of delay until a case comes on or until an appeal is determined, however, not only does the plaintiff have to go without any compensation for his pain and suffering or his loss of income or his out of pocket expenses, but hospitals and doctors have to wait for payment for a similar period. There is a general unreality about such proceedings. There is a pretence that the jury or the judge does not know what, of course, every one of them does know; namely, that the defendant or the defendants are covered by insurance.
There are many anomalies in this form of litigation. In most States the owner-driver cannot recover damages for an accident which was caused solely by his own negligence and his wife cannot recover damages although his parents, his children, his mistress or a complete stranger to whom he gave a lift can recover damages. In one State contributory negligence is a complete defence, however little that negligence contributed to the accident. In the other States it does not prevent a plaintiff recovering at all, but it prevents a plaintiff recovering the full amount of damages.
– What is the position in South Australia?
– I think the latter is the position in South Australia. For instance, if two drivers are involved in an accident and each is 50 per cent, to blame, each receives half the damages he would have received if the other driver alone were to blame. Then one still meets, although infrequently, the defence of inevitable accident. If an accident would have happened anyhow, irrespective of any driver’s negligence, nobody receives damages for the injuries arising from it.
– What was that statement?
– I was referring to the defence of inevitable accident, which is infrequent but which is still raised sometimes. Then there is the defence of the voluntary assumption of risk where the person who accepts a lift from a driver whom he knows to be under the influence of alcohol, for instance, cannot secure damages if he is injured as a result of the negligence of that driver.
– Is that so in all States?
– Yes, and in all Territories. To sum up, all motor owners have to pay insurance to cover damages arising from road accidents. There is no certainty, however, that the victim of a road accident will receive damages at all. The only certainty is that he will have to wait for damages of a conjectural amount at a conjectural cost.
The Commonwealth cannot prevent or supplant this form of litigation to recover damages. I do not suggest that it should if it could. I suggest that in these circumstances the Department of Social Services should be able to make periodic payments of an amount determined on the pre-existing income from a fund financed, say, from the petrol tax, the tyre tax or some excise tax, which is a Commonwealth monopoly. I am not suggesting that, if such payments were available, there would not be cases such as those of young people with a great potential who were injured and who obviously would have to be compensated on the basis of what they would have made in the future rather than what they were making at the time of the accident - which, because of their uncertainty, quite obviously would still require determination by some court or tribunal. 1 have made it plain in everything that I have said previously on this matter that I believe that an appeal from administrative decisions should be available. All I am urging is that the Government make it possible for people to be compensated promptly, fully and fairly for injuries which they suffer on the roads. There is a method of financing such compensation without going through the heavily feather-bedded form of insurance. There are government departments which regularly and unfailingly assess incomes. There are government departments which are used to disbursing payments for sustenance or medical treatment. Similar facilities should be made available to enable residents to receive compensation. If victims still preferred to use the courts under State or Territory laws, they would still be able to do so.
This Parliament can do nothing and should do nothing about removing these forms of litigation. This is clearly a case in which only governments can provide alternative methods for the citizens for whom they are responsible. Citizens cannot achieve such things themselves, nor doctors, nor lawyers nor insurance companies. The community can achieve them. The community would save money if this alternative method were available. Furthermore, all individuals would receive fairer and prompter compensation and rehabilitation than they receive under the present’ system, which is the only one available to them.
I regret that so much sound and fury has been devoted to the question whether juries still, or whether judges alone from now on, should determine liability” and the extent of damages in running down cases. This is a form of litigation that is guaranteed compulsorily by State acts and Territory acts and ordinances. Clearly, it is time a better system was provided. Governments alone can provide such an alternative. This Government has never made any such commitment, lt might well contemplate a new, alternative, more modern and more efficient system.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Apparently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was somewhat hurt by my comment last year. I want him to know that if my comment was accurate last year - as I believe it was - it is equally accurate this year. He has had two periods of 15 minutes each. He spent the second period on a discussion of the recovery of compensation for injuries received in road accidents. He spent his first period of 15 minutes giving the nation and the Parliament the benefit of his analysis of about a dozen matters on which he says there should be law reform. He referred to 12 matters in 15 minutes. That is not bad activity for him. We have a great admiration for his tremendous capacity for concentrating in a few words the idea that there should be reform, for instance, in relation to copyright. He pulls out a piece of paper and reads from it about a universal convention.
Then, when he comes to the matter of Federal legal aid, he is not able to illustrate to the Parliament the difficulties that are involved. There are six States and the Commonwealth. Each of the six States has a different scheme. In each of the States there is Federal jurisdiction and State jurisdiction. Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggest that for people in Victoria there should be one legal aid scheme if their suit rests upon Federal jurisdiction and another scheme if their suit rests on State jurisdiction? Surely he would not contemplate that. My own idea on this matter is that no distinction should be drawn in that way. Has he looked at all at the differences between the legal aid schemes in the different States? The scheme in New South Wales is markedly different from those in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. I doubt very much that New South Wales would be prepared to change its scheme. It believes that its scheme is working well.
In speaking about legal aid, I believe that great tribute ought to be paid to the legal profession of this country for the contribution that it is making to legal aid activities. Every legal practitioner in Australia, at some stage in his practice, makes a contri bution to legal aid. Within the schemes of the various States, many practitioners are making very great contributions which can be measured directly in terms of the money that they do not collect for work that they do. But let us come back to all these items he mentioned. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spent an average of H minutes telling us about these 12 subjects. As I have mentioned, one of them was legal aid. He spoke about Commonwealth employees* compensation. This is a matter which does not lie within the responsibility of the Attorney-General. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated that we should have some reform in this matter. But it is the responsibility of another Minister. He talked about maintenance and adoption. He seemed to cast some aspersions on the activities of the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral. I am sure they do not like his backhanded backslap because the AttorneysGeneral of the various States and I really put in a great deal of effort at these meetings for the purpose of trying to obtain law reform and to achieve uniformity. My colleagues and I do not appreciate the suggestion of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that we are not there for any other purpose than to waste time. We do not meet to waste time. We have a great deal of achievement behind us. What the Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not understand is that the - majority of the efforts regarding uniformity which are made through that Standing Committee do not come before this Parliament because they relate to the Territories. These uniform reforms are achieved by way of ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory.
– The honorable member knows that already.
– Yes. It suits his purpose to cast aspersions upon the Standing Committee.
– What I said was that since the last Estimates there has not been one fresh piece of uniform legislation.
– Does the honorable gentleman feel that the reform of laws and the achievement of uniformity in law can be taken as a programme in which we say: “ Well, next year, we will have maintenance, adoption and off-shore oil. The year after that, we will have prohibition on the sale of human blood, and the sale of goods legislation will be completely overhauled.”? lt is not possible to draw up a programme of this kind. If that is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s idea of law reform, it is certainly not my idea. These things are too important to the nation and too important to the people who go to law. The laws are introduced when we are satisfied with the law in its reformed state and its uniform state.
Now, of course, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says: “ Do not worry about consulting with the State Attorneys-General. Do not worry about bringing in a number of minds to look at this matter.” I remind him that each of us has recourse to officers of our departments, to law societies, and the specialised advice of people who are interested in these matters. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says: “ Do not worry about them. Bring in the amendment for uniformity. Let the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth do it all on his own. That would be the better system.” I, for one, do not agree that it would be the better system at all.
– What about the Companies Act and the Hire Purchase Agreement Act?
– I assume the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would have something to do with those Acts if a Labour Government were in office. I can imagine what sort of Hire Purchase Agreement Act or Companies Act we would have if he took action to reform them on his own and was not assisted by the co-operation of my colleagues, the Attorneys-General from the various States. I put to the Committee that a draft bill has emanated from the Standing Committee of the AttorneysGeneral in relation to maintenance. There is a draft bill on adoption. These will be uniform bills throughout the Commonwealth. A bill has been drafted relating to money lenders. There is a draft bill for off shore petroleum. A more complicated constitutional issue has never confronted the draftsmen and the law officers of the various States than the legislation relating to off shore oil. There have been many amendments to the uniform companies legislation. A bill has been drafted which relates to the microfilming of documents. This in itself is a most exciting thing. Literally room after room of documents can be reduced to a tiny piece of microfilm. Of course, this has to be done properly. After a document has been filmed, the document is destroyed. So, most painstaking consideration must be given to this legislation to make sure that the interests of individuals are not destroyed with the documents. Legislation has been drafted in relation to escaped mental patients crossing from one State to another State. Draft legislation has been prepared for the purpose of enabling the mental health authorities of one State to look after people who are released from custody from another State, and mentally deranged persons in one State to go to other States and there receive the assistance of the mental health authorities in those States. So, L deprecate very greatly the implications in the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that there is no progress in Australia towards uniform legislation and law reform.
Then the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said: “ Now, I will deal with matters as to which the Commonwealth has power and does not need to rely upon the States for uniform legislation in a consultative form.” He talked about the Acts Interpretation Act. This particular piece of legislation is in the course of being drafted at the present time. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke about the Bills of Exchange Act. He forgot to mention the Cheques Act. That was a piece of legislation which was drafted by the Committee to which I have referred. It was dealt with in a report of the Committee which was received last May. It has been given wide circulation and it would be sheer absolute folly to introduce legislation in relation to that matter for at least another year - and probably longer than that. This delay is necessary so that those people who are vitally interested in the legislation can put it under microscopic examination and make their recommendations in relation to it. The Committee itself would never have suggested that other than this course should be adopted. This is what was done in connection with the Bankruptcy Act. Representations were being made in relation to bankruptcy until the Bill was introduced in the House last session.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke about the laws relating to extradition. This is a matter to which I have given very great personal attention over the last 12 months. It is a matter which is full of intricacy. It is a matter in which we must have the views and co-operation of our colleague nations. Extradition has two aspects. There is foreign extradition and there is extradition within the Commonwealth countries. Whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is fully cognisant of this fact, 1 do not know. But this is a matter in regard to which we cannot just go off on our own. We must make sure that the United Kingdom knows what we are doing. We must be sure that New Zealand, with whom we have the closest extradition relations, is not in any way prejudiced. This is a matter which, at my suggestion, was placed on the agenda for discussion by Commonwealth law Ministers at the conference in Canberra last month or the month before last. We had a most rewarding discussion on this matter at that meeting. I do not propose to say in detail what was discussed or the results of the discussion. But I repeat that it was a most rewarding discussion and I hope that the fruits of it will flow within a relatively short period.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke of bankruptcy and, in a rather supercilious tone, said that something had been achieved. Let me inform the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that this piece of legislation relating to bankruptcy is a most vital piece of legislation to all people who are unable to pay their debts, lt is also a vital piece of legislation to those people who are creditors of people who cannot pay thendebts. There is a necessity to maintain a balance between the conflicting claims of creditors. This is something which cannot be treated lightly or rushed into. The Bill has Iain on the table since the last session and I have received many representations in relation to it since that time. What it amounts to is that one must ensure that the full range of representations and the full range of views that must be taken into account are received.
The copyright legislation is a piece of legislation to which I am giving attention. I have not been able to give as much attention to it as I should have liked, nor for that matter have I been able to give as much attention to the matter of a Federal superior court as I should have liked. But I would remind the Deputy Leader of the
Opposition that I have not been idle. There has been bankruptcy legislation and there has been trade practices legislation and, as I have indicated, I have been busily engaged on extradition - to mention just three matters - and there is a variety of other things.
– What about copyright?
– Copyright is something on which I would hope to have legislation next year. We are, after all, getting towards the end of the session, and this is not a simple piece of legislation. I have put in a great number of days on the matter and have been examining in great detail not just the committee’s report but also the report of the United Kingdom committee and the legislation of Canada, and the impact of the various royalty arrangements as they affect Australian artists in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
– Before the Minister leaves that subject, will he say whether he has been able to get sufficient legal staff? I suppose he has not.
– I am asked this question by way of interjection and I think I should answer it. We are very, very fortunate in the Department that we have some legal officers of the most outstanding calibre, and if it were not for the outstanding calibre of those officers the position would be difficult. We do have some serious shortfalls, for instance, in the Patent Office and in industrial property areas, and we do have difficulty in recruiting to the service young men shortly after graduation.
– And the Department is short of parliamentary draftsmen.
– Yes. That is a special area. There is a shortage of parliamentary draftsmen throughout the English speaking world. We are very fortunate that the quality of our draftsmen is so high.
– But there are not enough.
– They manage to carry the burden. I do not want to take up too much time of the Committee and I shall come quickly to the point raised by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who inquired about Crown copyright. I do not know whether the honorable gentleman had the opportunity of hearing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition speak about the desirability of copyright legislation. The Deputy Leader put the need to protect those people who do the job of creating a particular piece of paper or record, or whatever it might be. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) was anxious to impress that there should be a more ready availability of transcripts, and it is in relation to transcripts that the honorable member for Scullin was speaking. Crown copyright is that copyright which is possessed by the Crown and is comparable to the copyright which anybody who is the producer of intellectual property has, but instead of a private individual being the possessor of the copyright the Crown is the possessor of it.
In the particular matter that the honorable member for Scullin brings up, the item in which copyright exists is a transcript. The Crown has been bound, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh said, to have a full team of reporters and of typists and people who produce the roneoed copies of the transcript. It is a very costly process. The Crown’s interest in this copyright is to make sure that it does not do all the work and then see other people come in and just take the transcript. The Crown, not unnaturally, is looking for people to purchase the transcript’ to help pay for the cost of producing it. The Attorney-General, in order to protect this situation, is the person who has the responsibility to decide whether or not the Crown copyright will be forgone in a particular case.
In point of fact, the Library has transcripts of all important matters and it will make available to honorable members photostat copies of a transcript provided this is reasonable. The Library itself sets the limit on the number of photographic copies it will provide. It asks the AttorneyGeneral of the day for permission to make copies. I have been giving thought recently to whether or not, instead of an ad hoc request for relaxation of the Crown copyright, there should not be a standing relaxation of the Crown copyright for members of the House. But even so, a limitation would be put on the relaxation to the effect that the transcript was for the use only of the individual member, that he could quote it and that he could show it, but that he could not use it in such a way that the Crown’s rights under the copyright would be imperilled by too much use.
Before I sit down, I shall deal with a matter that was raised by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). He protests that I failed to give my formal fiat. He emphasises the word “ formal “. I wish to say to the honorable member that for me to grant my fiat means that an action is brought in my name. It is not a formal matter to give a fiat. It is not a matter of giving a consent. It is a matter of permitting an action to be brought in my name, that is, my personal name as the Attorney-General for the Commonwealth for the time being. In this matter, the application was made to me by a man named Pye - not, as the honorable gentleman said, by a man named Warner. When the application was made to me, I gave the matter most painstaking and careful consideration to see whether or not I should grant my fiat, which would enable action to be brought in my name. The reason why the application was made to me was that the applicant himself had no locus standi. That term means generally that he had no standing before the court for the pursuit of this action. He had no locus standi according to the law, which is the common law and which has evolved over the centuries. It was because he lacked that standing that he asked me to give my fiat, so that the action could be brought in my name. According to the law, the Attorney-General of the day does have standing in any matter. So it was not merely formal by any means, as the honorable gentleman emphasised it was in using ‘his term.
It follows that if this person does not have locus standi - and he does not have locus standi pursuant to the law which has evolved over the centuries - and if the Attorney-General in all circumstances, as was suggested by the honorable gentleman, gave his fiat, this would run contrary to the law. The decision of the Attorney-General as to whether or not this fiat should be granted would by law be not examinable; this is well established by the law courts. Because it was not examinable, I gave the matter even more painstaking consideration. 1 had recourse to past practice and I believe that I acted in accordance with that past practice.
.- I should like to ask the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden): What is the position in relation to the request for a referendum on section 127 and section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution and in relation to the request for a review of the Aborigines Welfare Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory, which is out of keeping with the provisions of the Northern Territory ordinance on Aborigines? The latter matter is the subject of question No. . 1084 on the notice paper in the name of the honorable member tor the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). Is anything proceeding in these fields or are the matters still in suspense somewhere?
– The first matter has been made clear by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in a statement. My recollection is that the second is within the ministerial responsibility of the Minister for the Interior.
.- I should like to ask the Minister-
Motion (by Mr. Aston) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. ( The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 13
– The honorable member for Braddon has been a member of the Parliament long enough to know the answer to that.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed expenditure, £18,705,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed expenditure, £13,303,000.
Proposed expenditure, £6,996,000.
.- I wish to speak to the question now before the Committee. In addition to the departments mentioned there are, of course, subsidiary matters that come under these Departments, including road safety, the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads rail gauge standardisation and matters of a like nature. It is not possible, in the 15 minutes available to deal with all of these subjects soI will confine my remarks to the Department of Shipping and Transport. I draw attention to some preliminary notes which the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) distributed in connection with his Department, in which he referred to the purchase of ships, materials and equipment and pointed out that it has been the Government’s practice for a number of years to provide financial assistance to the Australian shipbuilding industry in order that ships can be constructed here at prices comparable with prices in the main shipbuilding countries overseas, principally the United Kingdom. Then he said that £9 million is to be expended during 1965-66 on vessels already included in an approved programme, whilst £1.5 million is to be available for vessels under consideration and likely to be included in an approved programme before 30th June 1966. Of course, this expenditure is mainly on coastal ships. What we are concerned about, apart from expenditure on coastal shipping, is that some money should be approved in these estimates for expenditure on vessels to compete with overseas shipping interests, in an endeavour to bring down shipping freight rates. It is well known - recent Press reports confirm this - that Australia is at the mercy of overseas shipping interests so far as freight rates are concerned. In the interests of our overseas trade it is essential that the grip of overseas shipping interests be broken. In comparatively recent months freight rates from Australia to British and other overseas ports were increased by 6.6 per cent. We are now faced with the threat of a 10 per cent, increase in freights on our meat exports to North America. This has been repeated in the Press in the last few days. An article which appeared in the “ West Australian “ of 5th October stated -
A dispute over shipping freights threatens to disrupt meat exports to the United States, one of Australia’s biggest overseas markets.
The Australian Meat Board has refused to approve a proposed increase in freight rates demanded by the shipping companies.
The shipping lines say they intend to increase freight rates to North America by 10 per cent, from November 1.
Further on the article states -
Mr. Shute said the proposed increase would cost the meat industry more than £700,000 a year. Also, the shipping companies appeared to be considering further increases early next year.
So we have not seen the end of the increase in shipping freights on meat. Our dependence on overseas shipping companies demands some Government action. We have to realise that shipping charges are costing Australia roughly £3 million a week. This is a serious debit to our balance of payments. Surely the Government is considering some action. I am inclined to that view because the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) suggested that this was so in a statement he made on 9 th September. A newspaper headline on that day read: “Australian Shipping Line Urged by Treasurer”. It is true that later on he amended his statement to some extent and said that an Australian overseas shipping line was only a hope. But his earlier remarks clearly indicated that he had something in mind and that he was concerned about the impact of overseas shipping freights on our overseas trade. When he said that a shipping line was only a hope I think he fell down on his job as Treasurer of this country and prospective leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Instead of saying that this was only a hope he should have come right out and said that he supported the establishment of an overseas shipping line. He should have said that he would endeavour to do all he could to establish a line. It is true that proposals that Australia should have its own shipping line to operate vessels in overseas trade often bring the cry from some Government supporters that the cost would be prohibitive. They say the cost of building and servicing vessels in Australia and manning them with Australian crews would add such an enormous burden to the operation of the ships that our ability to trade overseas would suffer dire consequences.
Arguments such as that completely ignore many relevant facts. For instance, vessels of all major trading nations ply to our coast. They come from England, the United States of America, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Holland, France, Russia, Italy, Canada, Japan, India and Greece. It is not always possible to ascertain the wage rates paid to seamen of other countries but I have been able to get some of them. In the United States of America an able seaman gets the equivalent of £179 16s. a month in Australian currency. In Denmark an able seaman gets £98 a month and an Australian able seaman receives £74 2s. 7d. a month. I do not know whether the Australian figure has been adjusted as a result of the recent li per cent, margins increase. That could make some difference; but generally speaking the figure for an Australian able seaman is relative to those I have quoted. A New Zealand able seaman, after all factors are taken into account, gets within £1 a month of the Australian rate. Of course the United Kingdom rate is comparatively low. According to the “ Fairplay Shipping Journal “ of 25th July 1963, an able seaman in the United Kingdom gets £48 15s. a month plus an efficiency allowance of £1 5s. Australian, making a total of £50 Australian. As honorable members can see our wage rates compare to an extent which would be favorable to our competing in this trade. It is true that Japanese and British ships use low-wage crews - Chinese and Indians on the British vessels - but ability to compete is determined by a number of factors which include efficiency of operation and government policy.
Many governments have decided that the operation of a nationally owned fleet is fundamental to independence and defence. They either own the fleets themselves or else assist private enterprise. In many cases the government concerned owns a majority of shares in the shipping company. This policy is based on the need to preserve and develop trade by retaining a measure of control over freight rates and so preventing another country or other countries from forcing a nation’s shipping out of the competitive markets because of high freight charges. It is also based on the always possible necessity to move troops in times of war.
A lot of the newly emerged countries have acquired their own international fleets since taking charge of their own affairs. For instance, soon after acquiring independence India established its own international fleet. Most of the newly independent African countries have done the same. The “ Shipbuilding and Shipping Record “ of 19th September 1963 reported that Russia was building a massive national fleet of merchant ships and in a few years would be one of the world’s foremost sea powers. I could quote a lot of figures in this regard but time would not allow me to do so. Russia’s efforts were apparent to other nations, and particularly to the United States of America where shipping interests complained that the United States rate of construction was not nearly as great.
The United States has realised the importance of a nationally owned fleet. It is part owner of the President Line and it heavily subsidises shipping in the national interest. The United States Federal Maritime Board has listed the type and extent of subsidies paid to shipping. It has pointed out that of the 526 ships operating in foreign trade at the beginning of 1960 305, more than half, were subsidised. At page 5, the report of the Federal Maritime Board, after giving the figures 1 have just cited, states -
If the subsidy program were discontinued, many of these ships would probably have to be laid up or transferred to foreign ownership, depriving us not only of the ships but also the managerial and technical skills required to operate an adequate American Merchant Marine.
The objectives of the United States Government in assisting its own national fleet are stated to be, first, that the fleet shall be sufficient to carry the domestic water-borne commerce and a substantial portion of the foreign commerce of the country. Secondly, the ships have to be capable of serving as a naval auxiliary in time of war. Then the vessels have to be owned by, and operated under the United States flag by, citizens of the United States. The fleets have to be composed of the best equipped, safest and most suitable types of vessels, and the vessels have to be manned by trained and efficient citizens of the United States. I have quoted from the Federal Maritime Board’s report merely to show that there is a lesson here for the Australian Government. It is clear that we are in the position that we require, our line of ships in exactly the same way as the United States requires its own line of ships.
Canada has also seen the need to protect its trade. In the “ Ship Building and Shipping Record “ of 11th July 1963 there is a reference, without going into any detail, to the success of the Canadian subsidy plan in building up a fleet of ships for use in Canada’s overseas trade. In Japan, in addition to the subsidies that were already being paid, additional action was taken by the Japanese Government in 1963 to assist its shipping services, and the latest reports from that country indicate that further action is being taken to assist the Japanese shipping industry, so that it is now well able to compete in the field of shipping freights.
New Zealand also has its own shipping line operating in international trade. It is operated by the Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand Ltd. It is true that this company is a subsidiary of the P. and O organization, but it is a company registered in New Zealand and operating with New Zealand crews and under New Zealand standards. According to information supplied by the United States Department of Commerce, many countries subsidise their own fleets. These are the countries that I mentioned - Denmark, France, West Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. All these countries in some way or other subsidise their own fleets, so that they have efficient overseas shipping services. The establishment of such a line in Australia would save the Australian people at least £150 million a year in invisible export charges, and possibly more.
– What about the subsidies?
– Of course, the people would have to pay the subsidies, but it would be very beneficial to have our own shipping line. When we consider that we are the tenth trading nation of the world it is obvious that it is important for us to have our own line.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Lucock).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
son asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. It was reported in the press that the Trade Mission from Formosa, which was recently in Australia, had secured orders for a range of goods including a reported 49,000 cases of button mushrooms. 3 and 4. Information needed to make these comparisons is not available.
b asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
In addition to the 22 claims currently part heard, action aimed at settlement of a further 49 of the outstanding claims by conciliation between the parties is currently in progress.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Chief Justice Sir Alan Harbury Mann, M.B.E.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Ollerenshaw.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Minogue.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Frost.
Territory of Norfolk Island.
Territory of Nauru.
Court of Appeal: The Chief Justice of Papua and New Guinea, Sir Alan Mann, is the present Judge of the Court of Appeal.
Territory of Christmas Island.
Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Australian Capital Territory.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Dunphy.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Joske.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Eggleston.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Bridge.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Smithers.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Bridge.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Dunphy.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Joske.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Smithers.
Court are required to be tried by jury. Unless the Court otherwise orders, civil actions are tried without a jury. The Court may, if it appears just, order specially that any action or issue of fact in any suit shall be tried with a jury.
– On 22nd September the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw) asked whether any changes will be required in sugar industry securities and whether any type of such security will need to be completely renewed with the introduction of decimal currency.
Until the date of the introduction of decimal currency (14th February 1966), all documents involving money must be expressed in £ s. d. For a transition period of approximately two years following C day, legal documents, other than bills of exchange or promissory notes, may be made out in either £ s. d. or decimal currency. Bills of exchange and promissory notes must be expressed in decimal currency from C day. After the close of the transition period on a date to be proclaimed, all new documents must be expressed in decimal currency.
These general rules apply to securities used in the sugar industry. Where a payment is made before 14th February 1966, whether an advance payment or a final payment for sugar cane delivered by the grower, the document by which the payment is effected will be expressed in £ s. d. As this document or mill order is a type of bill of exchange, the amount will be converted into decimal currency after C day, even though the price on which the payment is based was fixed previously in £ s. d.
Crop liens and similar securities may be expressed either in £ s. d. or decimal currency during the transition period, but at the end of this period they will need to bo expressed in decimal currency only.
The Currency Bill provides that documents expressed in £ s. d. will retain their validity after the introduction of decimal currency. Any amounts of £ s. d. shown in these documents will be converted to corresponding amounts of dollars and cents. There will be no gains or losses to any of the parties concerned except for a fraction of a cent in those cases where an amount of £ s. d. is paid in dollars and cents and the decimal equivalent is rounded to the nearest whole cent.
An instance when a standing financial authority may need to be renewed with the introduction of decimal currency could arise in the case of bank orders which cover a number or series of different payments such as, for example, insurance premiums. Where the conversion of individual amounts covered by the order results in a discrepancy of two cents or more in excess of the conversion of the total amount of the order, arrangements will be made for the issue of fresh authorities. With the exception of cases of this nature there will be no need to re-write securities in existence when decimal currency is introduced.
– On 12th October the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) asked me, in my capacity as Acting Treasurer, whether the prices of some 200 grocery items had been increased at the request of the Decimal Currency Board and whether the Board had authority from the Government to make this direction.
The Decimal Currency Board is not a price-fixing authority and I am assured that it has made no request along the lines suggested by the honorable member. The Board has neither requested wholesalers or retailers to increase prices of certain commodities, nor has it made any request in relation to the rounding of £ s. d. prices to amounts which will be exactly convertible into decimal currency.
Nevertheless, some wholesalers and retailers will probably see advantages in adjusting £ s. d. prices to exact decimal currency equivalents by such methods as selling low-priced articles in multiples (i.e. three for sixpence - or 5 cents - instead of twopence each) or by adjusting the quantity in each packet leaving the unit price unchanged. However, because of the intense competition which has built up in the retail trade, and its sense of responsibility and public relations, it is to be expected that the trade will in general follow the PostmasterGeneral’s lead in relation to postal charges and that increases in prices due to rounding will be offset by similar decreases in other lines.
Since the honorable member asked his question, my attention has been drawn to statements attributed to representatives of retail organisations which have categorically denied previously published statements that the Decimal Currency Board had asked them to adjust their prices. These same statements have confirmed that several price adjustments have been made to facilitate the changeover to decimal pricing but they have indicated that the majority of these adjustments were reductions in price so that the price movements overall have been, if anything, slightly in the consumers’ favour.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651014_reps_25_hor48/>.