26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Honourable members will be aware that on Tuesday 28th March the Prime Minister left Australia on a visit to Cambodia, Laos, Taiwan and Korea at the invitation of the governments of those countries. The Prime Minister will be absent from Australia until Monday next, 10th April. During this period of his absence I will be Acting Prime Minister. I also inform the House that the Minister for External Affairs left Australia on 26th March on an official visit to Japan where he will have talks with the Japanese Foreign Minister and with other Ministers and officials. After the official visit Mr Hasluck will remain in Tokyo in order to lead the Australian delegation to the annual conference of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. The Minister for Education and Science, Senator Gorton, will act as Minister for External Affairs and I shall deal with external affairs matters in this chamber.
– I address a question to the Acting Prime Minister. The right honourable gentleman may be aware that last Thursday week I sent a telegram to the Prime Minister expressing concern about his forecast that a statement on the Australian Bankers Development Refinance Corporation would be made outside the House contrary to the principle constantly expressed by Sir Robert Menzies and reaffirmed by the Prime Minister that statements of such importance should, if possible, be made in the House. The Acting Prime Minister will know that the Treasurer spent his holy days, race days and bank holidays in preparing this statement to enable him to release it on Easter Monday. In view of the importance of this matter to all honourable members, and the known and expressed interest of the right honourable gentleman in it, will he ensure that a comprehensive statement is presented to this House so that honourable members may make comments and suggestions on the proposals before legislation, if any, is brought in and so that honourable members will not have to rely on dribs and drabs of information given in answers to questions?
– I was not aware that the Leader of the Opposition had sent a telegram in the terms described by him to the Prime Minister. I am familiar with the principles which have been expressed by successive Prime Ministers from this side of the House on this matter. I am sure there is some explanation as to why the statement was made outside the House and not in the House and I am sure that, having heard the point made by the Leader of the Opposition, my colleague, the Treasurer, will, as the Leader of the Opposition suggests, either explain this in a statement or table a statement on the matter in the House.
– My question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, refers to the Australian Bankers Development Refinance Corporation. What is the extent of the anticipated basic capital of the Corporation? If the Corporation has insufficient funds within its own framework, to what extent does the Minister expect overseas funds to be borrowed? What form will these funds take? Can the Minister briefly elaborate on the method of functioning of the Corporation? When will legislative effect be given to the concept of this Corporation?
– The honourable gentleman has asked five questions. The first relates to the quantity of finance. This has not been fixed in detail, but discussions are now taking place between the Reserve Bank and the bankers to ascertain the optimum amount of money that will be available. This is not the maximum amount, because that can never be adequately prescribed, but the amount that it is thought will be made available in the first instance to finance large scale national projects. If I may, I will deal with the questions in an order other than that in which the honourable gentleman gave them. The method of finance will work in this way: An entrepreneur in Australia may wish to engage in a project requiring, say, $20m or $30m and may find that that amount is beyond the immediate capacity of his own banker. His banker will take up a certain amount - perhaps half of threequarters - and will then go to the Corporation for the balance.
Large amounts of money will be available for the development of Australian assets by Australian entrepreneurs and not by people from overseas. I would like to know whether the Leader of the Opposition objects to a policy of this kind. The honourable gentleman also asked about the source of finance. Firstly, equity capital will be provided by the bankers. Secondly, funds will be provided by the Reserve Bank in a ratio proportionate to the amount of the funds provided by the banks. Thirdly, there will be access to the loan market in Australia and to loan markets overseas. However, we do not expect a great deal of overseas borowing, certainly in the long term, but we do think that, through affiliated banking organisations overseas, the Corporation will have access to overseas funds.
While I am on my feet, 1 should like to refer to the question asked by the Leader of the Oppoistion. No Prime Minister has ever said that in all circumstances statements will be made in this House. It is not always practicable to do so. The simple fact is that on this occasion the Prime Minister made the first statement and I followed it up. The House was not sitting.
– The Treasurer was at the races on that day.
– I have been to the races once this year.
– You were there on that day.
– I may have been. This shows the character of the Leader of the Opposition. If he can beg an invitation to the races, he does so. I do not; I go when I am asked. But this is getting away from a very important subject and introducing personalities. To me this is a deplorable practice. The Leader of the Opposition can engage in it if he wishes, but I shall drop out. I want to answer the question in clear terms. I prefer to make statements in the House first. If that means a wait of ten days or longer, it might not be wise to wail until the House meets, lt may not be in the best interests of the country to hang on to a public statement for so long. The public is entitled to know just as honourable members are.
– I address my question to the Acting Prime Minister. Can be remove some of the confusion surrounding the setting up of two financial institutions, the Commonwealth Development Bank and the proposed Bankers Development Refinance Corporation? Will there in fact be two separate institutions? Will there be direct participation in either or both by the Government? Can he guarantee that there will be no direct ownership of either by overseas banks? If there are to be two separate institutions, will there be any interrelationship between them? Is the main purpose behind the proposals the better mobilisation of internal savings and the attraction of external, that is foreign, capital? Does not the mixture of public and private interests involved - for example, oil exploration, natural gas production, and mineral resources development - suggest the need for a comprehensive national planning, at least of fuel and energy development? Finally, will the Government arrange at an early date to present to the House a comprehensive statement of intent in these matters?
– This is a very complex question and obviously there is no simple answer to it. However the honourable member will know that the Government has taken a decision to establish a certain banking institution, to which my colleague has just referred. At the same time that Cabinet discussed the matter and reached this decision it gave some consideration to whether there was scope not so much for leaning on Australian banking finance, from both the private banks and the Reserve Bank, but perhaps to mobilise to some extent foreign funds which it would be hoped could be obtained more in the form of loan than in equity ownership of some of the great enterprises with which we all are familiar these days.
Cabinet decided that a study should be made of this proposal to reach a conclusion in due course as to whether there could be established, with advantage to Australia, an authority which would have the function of mobilising such funds. The purpose, if this should come to pass, would be to facilitate the establishment of great enterprises here and to take advantage of our own savings and our own Reserve Bank funds and also to take advantage, in the form of borrowing, of certain overseas funds which today are very commonly employed in this country mostly to support ventures which are wholly or substantially foreign owned. The objective the Government has in mind in studying this matter is to facilitate the establishment of these great ventures and at the same time to see, to the maximum extent, that an Australian equity is preserved. lt obviously is clear to all honourable members that, if certain funds are needed for such a project, and the funds are provided as foreign owned equity capital they probably will remain foreign owned forever. If, on the other hand, some of the capital needed is provided from foreign funds by way of loan, then in due course when that loan is repaid there is scope for Australia to have the equity, or a bigger proportion of the equity than it otherwise would have. This, I hope, explains what the Government has decided to examine. The examination will proceed. I have no doubt it will take months to complete.
– Can the Treasurer say whether, during his recent visit to Western Australia, particularly to Kununurra, any evidence was presented to him that would cause an early reconsideration of the State Government’s request to the Commonwealth Government for the commencement of the second stage of the Ord project?
– During the recess of the House I spent five days in the north west of Australia having a look at the North West Cape project and the Pilbara iron ore deposits, and then I went on to Kununurra.
– Did the Minister go to the races?
– Yes, on the way back. I had an interesting series of discussions with the technical experts, particularly at the research station there, and with some of the growers of cotton in the Ord scheme. I discussed the problems of beef cattle production, the production of feed for stock from seed cotton, oil produc tion from beans, wheat, sugar, and particularly cotton. However, I did not find that sufficient changes had occurred or that sufficient extra information had been collected between November, or immediately prior to November, when the Government made its decision, and the date when 1 was actually at the Ord. So I cannot say at the moment that any additional information has been provided to me which is different from that provided when the Government made its policy decision.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to a statement about the proposed setting up of a bankers development refinance corporation, in which he is reported to have said: 1 wept with anguish at what happened with
Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd. If we had a corporation like this earlier we would have been on the ground floor in both Hamersley and the aluminium complex at Gladstone.
Was the Treasurer reported correctly? If he was, does he agree that whilst this Government has had ample time to plan, guide and control the overseas ownership of Australia’s industry and natural resources-
-Order! The honourable member is now giving information. He should proceed with his question.
– Has the Government deliberately encouraged the exploitation of Australia’s wealth by monopolistic overseas enterprises?
– Firstly, 1 want to make it clear that we have welcomed the action taken by overseas interests who are involved in the development of our iron ore deposits. This action has contributed to the growth and development oi this country and it will continue to make a magnificent contribution to the solving of our balance of payments problem. I want to make it clear immediately that apart from overseas investment this country would not have been as successful as it is today. I know of no economy in the world that is in as satisfactory an economic condition as is the Australian economy. If we want this country to be developed we must continue to encourage private development, particularly of large scale projects. Equally, too, we must ensure that there is an avidity by Australian investors and interests to participate in these development projects. This is the very reason why the Bankers Development Refinance Corporation has been proposed. I stand by the statement which I made and which I issued to the Press. I will have that statement copied, and every member of the House may have a copy. If the honourable gentleman then wants to ask any further questions based on the statement, I shall be only too pleased to answer them.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General, who will recall a particular magazine being handed to him recently. Has the Minister had an opportunity to study the obscene material that is contained in that magazine, including defamatory statements about the Royal Family, the Premier of Victoria and other leading personalities? I also ask whether, as the publication of such material in newspapers and other publications is prohibited, he will take some action to prevent this type of literature from falling into the hands of our younger generation.
– I have had an opportunity to look at the magazine to which the honourable member refers. As it is produced in Australia it does not come within the provisions of the Customs Act relating to prohibited imports. Material contained in magazines published in the various States of Australia is a matter coming within the control of the various State governments. It is not open to the Commonwealth to assume general control of literature and pass a Commonwealth law with regard to it. This is the difficulty with which the Commonwealth is continually faced in matters such as that referred to by the honourable member.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. He will recall that on 22nd February I asked him whether he had received a report arising out of investigations into the air disaster which occurred at Winton in Queensland on 22nd September 1966, when an Ansett-A.N.A. Viscount crashed, killing all twenty-three passen gers and crew. In reply the Minister said that the investigation by the experts had not been completed and that he expected a report within a few weeks. As six weeks have now elapsed since I asked that question, can the Minister say how much longer we must wait for the report of the experts?
– I was discussing this matter this morning. I understand that the report of the experts should be available in about a week. As soon as I receive it I will refer it to the chairman of the Board of Accident Inquiry, Sir John Spicer, and the public inquiry should commence within fourteen days of his receipt of the report.
– What information can the Minister for National Development supply regarding the potash extraction industry, which has an export earning potential of more than $5m, to be established near Carnarvon in Western Australia?
– I have had some discussions on this project with Mr Court, the Minister for the North-West in the Western Australian Government. This is a matter which does not come directly under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, and so I think it would be better if I obtained full information from Mr Court for the honourable member for Swan.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that an ultimatum has been delivered by the pilots employed by Ansett-A.N.A. to the management of that company to the effect that they will refuse to fly the company’s planes if the company does not tighten up its aircraft maintenance operations? Also, is it a fact that officials of the Department of Civil Aviation are concerned about the deteriorating efficiency of AnsettA.N.A. pilots, which is now becoming more evident in the landing phase of their operations, and which has resulted from intimidatory tactics employed by AnsettA.N.A.?
– First, I completely refute the implication that there is any negligence on the part of the management and organisation of Ansett-A.N.A. or, for that matter, of Trans-Australia Airlines. The standard maintained in Australia by both domestic operators is as high as, and in fact higher than, that maintained in any other country, and I think we should feel happy and proud that this standard is being maintained. I have not heard of any uh i.matum being served by the pilots’ federation or its representatives on Ansett-A.N.A. If such an ultimatum has been issued I do not think it would have been official. I will make inquiries to see whether any information is available regarding the matter -that has been referred to by the honourable member. I should make it clear that the standards laid down by the Department of Civil Aviation for the maintenance and operation of domestic aircraft in Australia are observed by all domestic operators in Australia, the smaller operators as well as the major ones. This matter is checked constantly and carefully, and I can give a public assurance that the standards required by the Department are being maintained.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Will he have prepared for the information of honourable members a statement of the extent of subscriber trunk dialling services between Australian cities, when those services were introduced, and proposals for the future?
– A number of statements, particularly in the annual reports of the Post Office, have been made about subscriber trunk dialling. The honourable member will know, as I have stated in the House on a number of occasions, that the programme for subscriber trunk dialling is one extending over a period of perhaps fifteen years. For this reason and because of variations in Post Office costs and revenue, it would be difficult to give detailed forecasts relating to the extension of subscriber trunk dialling services.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Paragraph 6 of the First Schedule to the Repatriation Act reads:
Where the incapacity of a member of the Forces is such that he is unable to earn a living wage by reason that he is unable to engage in a remunerative occupation except on a part-time basis or intermittently, the amount specified in relation to him in Column 4 of the scale in this Schedule shall be deemed to be Twenty pounds live shillings.
Does that mean what it says? If it does, what right has the Repatriation Commissioner or his deputy to refuse to grant the sum of £20 5s to an invalid ex-serviceman receiving a 100% war pension and holding certificates as to his permanent incapacity from both Commonwealth and private medical practitioners? Will the honourable gentleman ascertain from his colleague in another place how pensioners to whom I refer should proceed in order to have their applications granted once they have been rejected and it has been proved that they are unable to follow any occupation?
– It is some years since I was Minister for Repatriation and I cannot recall the details of the First Schedule. I will see that the question is referred to my colleague in another place and that a proper reply is prepared.
– ls the Treasurer satisfied with the scanty prospectus issued by Hamersley Holdings Ltd? Does he consider that the Australian investor is being asked to purchase a pig in a poke at an inflated figure? Does he also consider that the Australian investor is being requested to invest on trust and judgment rather than on calculated figures?
– I do not know a great deal about the proposals of the Hamersley corporation as yet because the prospectus has not been issued to the public. But I welcome the opportunity for Australian capital to take part in what has been a magnificent venture and one that has turned out to be strikingly successful. As to the terms of the issue and the premium that has to be paid on each share by an Australian investor, I offer no comment. These are matters between the investor and his stockbroker, investment banker or other person who may be advising him whether he should invest in this company.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. Has any action been taken towards insuring the lives of Australian soldiers on active service, or, for that matter, liable to active service? If not, will the Minister give consideration to the fact that on the death of a bread winner or the head of a family there is need usually not only for an income, which is covered by pension, but also for capital for many obligations, such as home purchase? Has consideration been given to the United States practice in this matter? Could an insurance scheme giving a $20,000 life cover be created?
– The entire question asked by the honourable gentleman is at the moment under study and I expect that there will be some submissions before Cabinet quite soon.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Will the right honourable gentleman give consideration to the introduction in this country of a system of supervised credit to permit primary producers, especially those in relatively depressed areas such as some of the dairying districts, to borrow money against potential rather than against actual assets as has been done so successfully in other countries in the world?
– When the Development Bank was established, its purpose was to lend to borrowers not so much on the value of the security they were able to make available but on their prospects for the future - whether they could make their property viable, whether they would be able to make a profit, pay their interest and, over the long term, meet their indebtedness. So I think we have an organisation of the kind the honourable gentleman has mentioned. It may well be that in the difficult areas to which the honourable gentleman has referred there is one area which is not covered by the Development Bank. If the honourable member can give me a practical illustration of this, I shall be only too happy to take up the matter with the Governor of the Reserve Bank or, if necessary, with the Banking Corporation and give him an answer as to whether anything can be done.
Now that 1 have the opportunity, I should like to make it clear to the House that I believe that reasonable finance is being made available now to the rural sector of the economy by the banking system. Last year, overdraft commitments by the trading banks totalling $240m have been entered into. Additionally, about $35m has been made available by way of long term loans from term loan funds of the trading banks.
– I address to the Treasurer a question which I hope will put him in a better frame of mind. Has his attention been drawn to a decision of the annual conference of the Federated Taxpayers Association to ask the Government for the cost of a wig to be deductible for taxation purposes as it was pointed out that taxation laws allow claims for the replacement of several parts of the human body but not of hair. In order to give some hope to us, kindred souls suffering the mental anguish associated with this physical defect, in our efforts to get with it in this age of go-go and long hair, will the Treasurer favourably consider the proposal?
– I am not certain whether the honourable gentleman is looking at this question from my point of view or from his. The problem has already descended upon me, or ascended from me, and it does not cause me any trouble at all. If he is looking at it from his own point of view - we on this side of the House are noticing his predicament just as much as he is - I can assure him that when considering the forthcoming Budget, and purely to satisfy his needs, I. shall have a look at the problem, but not too carefully and not in great detail.
– I address to the Minister for Defence a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Fremantle. If the Government did decide to bring down legislation to introduce an insurance scheme for servicemen in Vietnam, would it be possible to make its operations retrospective to cover casualties to date and any losses suffered by the two battalions involved in the exercise in Vietnam at the present time? In view of the fact that men have already been lost and the fact that their dependants would not otherwise be eligible for insurance benefit, would the Government consider making such legislation retrospective?
– I am sorry, but the use of the word ‘if to introduce the question makes the honourable member’s question a hypothetical one and, therefore, I cannot answer it.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Has he had an opportunity to study a report of the Building Committee of the Australian Capital Territory Teachers Federation which, after paying tribute to many good features in our fine modern schools in the Territory, draws attention to many serious major deficiencies in the provisions made for both children and staff in many of the schools in the Territory? As this report was compiled after a very considerable survey by this Committee, will the Minister indicate what possible action will be taken?
– I received this report a short time ago and 1 am having it examined by my Department. I would like to challenge the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, however, when he makes the remark that there are serious deficiencies in Canberra schools. 1 think all of us can be very proud of the standard of schools in Canberra. I know that the standard brings many comments, particularly from State Premiers. But I make no apology for the standard of the schools. I think our national capital should be a place where we set standards.
– 1 direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of the Government’s obvious intention to assist Indonesia to rehabilitate itself economically, has the Minister or the Government any plans to extend credit to that country? If so, to what extent and in what form will we assist and when do we propose to implement these plans?
– Already the Government has announced decisions - they come more within the portfolio of the Minister for Trade and Industry than within my own sphere - to extend special concessions through the Exports Payments Insurance Corporation to trade with Indonesia. So far as long term loans are concerned - and
I take it that that is what the honourable member is speaking about - we have not given a great deal of consideration to long term finance for Indonesia. But I mention, Sir, that those countries to which Indonesia has large scale indebtedness have already had a debt rescheduling meeting and that the problem largely has been placed in the hands of the International Monetary Fund to attempt to achieve a consensus. I believe that these arrangements are progressing well and I would not, and I am sure the Government would not, like to intervene at this moment. As well, Sir, this is a capital hungry country and we have to be cautious - extremely cautious - before committing ourselves to the provision of long term loan funds to any other country.
– 1 preface my question to the Acting Prime Minister by saying that five weeks ago Parliament was informed that Cabinet was preparing to consider the $50m water conservation proposals promised by the Prime Minister five months ago in his policy speech. When will the Government take positive action to honour its promises and allocate funds to the States, especially Queensland, for urgent projects in the Burnett, Fitzroy, Pioneer and Burdekin basins, particularly as in the last few weeks we have again witnessed the paradox of the savage fury and waste of unharnessed water in the Herbert River being contrasted with drought in areas in close proximity?
– I doubt that the Prime Minister announced some time ago that the Government was examining proposals along these lines. The historic fact is that in November the Prime Minister announced that if the Government parties were reelected it would be part of the Government’s policy to provide $50m to the States over a period of five years for approved water conservation projects. The initiative rests with the State Governments to make proposals to the Commonwealth. The money is to be expended or made available over a period of five years. There are many worthy projects which I am sure will come before the Commonwealth Government for consideration. But I think it is rather early yet for the Government to have a balanced examination, taking into account the interests of the six States.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. In view of the critical threat to the sheep and cattle industries of Australia should foot and mouth disease or any other exotic disease in animals break out, and the resultant disaster to the national economy, will the Minister advise us of the present situation regarding the provision of suitable incinerators at all Australian ports for the effective treatment of ships’ refuse? Will he undertake to act promptly and vigorously to have incinerators provided if not already installed?
– As the honourable gentleman will be aware, the Commonwealth Government regards the possibility of the entry of exotic diseases through ships’ garbage as being so important that in May last year it offered to pay to the States the full cost of incinerators and ancillary equipment at selected ports. So far that offer has been accepted by the Governments of New South Wales and Tasmania and a reasonably satisfactory arrangement has been made with the Government of South Australia. Discussions have been held with the Government of Queensland but that State has not yet accepted the Commonwealth’s offer. Of course, the money cannot be provided until the offer is accepted. I agree with the honourable gentleman when he suggests that this is an extremely important matter. I hope that the remaining States will accept the Commonwealth’s offer and enable us to build the incinerators as quickly as possible.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. Has the Associated Chamber of Manufactures of Australia made representations to the Government calling for a review of the Government’s buying policy to eliminate favoured treatment for overseas countries? If so, and if any policy changes arising from the Chamber’s request are contemplated, will the right honourable gentleman arrange for the appropriate Minister to make a detailed statement to the House?
– I think the Government has received representations from certain quarters to the effect that it might examine buying policy in respect of certain items which either can be procured from local manufacture or can be imported from overseas. It is my understanding that my colleagues, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Supply, are looking at the suggestion. If it becomes obvious that a public statement should be made, 1 have no doubt that it will be made.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence, ls it a fact that the share of Australian industry in defence spending has been declining? What are the chances of a major expansion in Australian defence procurement as a result of the recent meeting with the industry advisory councils?
– The share of the Australian defence requirement supplied from Australian industry has not been declining. Indeed, my colleague the Minister tor Supply does all that is possible to see that contracts can reasonably be carried out in Australia. As I have had occasion to point out before, there have been some notable difficulties with contracts Jet in Australia. I refer to delays in production and things of that kind. Nevertheless we persist in trying to see that all possible defence contracts are placed with Australian industry. I think it will be clear that much of our defence requirement exists in a highly technological field. It involves techniques that have not been developed in Australia. Until these techniques are developed in Australia, clearly we will be obliged to import much of our more technological defence requirements. The recent meeting of the industrial advisory committees of the Department of Supply dealt fairly fully with this particular subject. At the present moment proposals for establishing capacity in Australia for micro-electronics are being considered. This is a requirement which docs not appear anywhere in the civilian field: the whole load of this development will have to be carried through on the defence vote. By agreement with industry we are working out a proposal to institute this kind of production purely to improve our capacity to service defence equipment. This is not an easy problem. The Government says without hesitation that wherever it is possible to place an order with an Australian factory this will be done. However, when the Government feels obliged to place orders overseas it has no alternative but to do so.
– On 20th October last the Minister for Air advised me in writing that the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Air had decided that the Hexham site was unsuitable for a civil airport at Newcastle because it was too close to the Williamtown Royal Australian Air Force base and that a Department of Civil Aviation and RAAF working party had been established to determine to what extent additional civil operations could be accommodated at Williamtown. Can the Minister indicate whether this working party has completed its investigations and, if so, what recommendations it has made?
- Mr Speaker, although my colleague the Minister for Air is in the picture this matter concerns the Department of Civil Aviation primarily. The working party set up between the Royal Australian Air Force and my Department has completed a study of the situation and has made certain recommendations that have been accepted. I am pleased to say that as a result of the recommendations there will ultimately be an increase in civilian traffic through Williamtown airport. This will include an increase in charter services for flights to and from Newcastle, but it will still substantially prohibit services by light aircraft and will entirely prohibit services from that centre by what are termed private licenced light aircraft. It will permit the establishment at Williamtown of a charter operator maintenance base or administration centre.
The situation at Hexham is the same as before. Whilst the recommendations will result in the provision of a better service to the Newcastle area, as far as regular public transport services and charter operations are concerned the problem of air control is such that Hexham is still not suitable under existing conditions for establishment as an aerodrome for aircraft operations, particularly of light aircraft. The situation will be improved substantially as services are made through Williamtown.
– What applications have been approved for Williamtown?
– No additional services have been approved as yet but when applications are made by the domestic operators under the agreement approvals can be given for some additional regular transport services and also for charter services to and from the Williamtown airport. I cannot say exactly what applications will be received but as soon as some are received and I have further information I will inform the honourable member.
Debate resumed from 23 February (vide page 117), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill provides for a number of amendments to the principal Act. It reduces to three months the residential qualification period for those who have been called up for national service in this country. It provides for a shorter period if that person is discharged from national service as a result of a medical disability which, in the opinion of the Minister, is due to war service. The Bill makes a number of other amendments. It provides a similar reduction for those who volunteer for full time service in the defence forces of this country. It also provides for recognition of and the application of a similar procedure to Irish citizens who now are not recognised under the Nationality and Citizenship Act as either British citizens or aliens. It provides for a reduction of the residential qualification to three months for servicemen who volunteer for full time service in this country. Previously servicemen were granted a reduction in the residential qualification, but only on the basis of eight weeks for every four weeks of service in the defence forces. So the Bill makes a number of changes to the Nationality and Citizenship Act.
The Opposition takes this opportunity to make one or two observations about the alterations proposed by the Government. It does not believe that aliens should be conscripted into the Services. It has made its position quite clear on other occasions. It has previously opposed the Government’s move to send conscripts to serve overseas. For this reason I move:
This is the latest of a series of Bills that have made certain changes to the Nationality and Citizenship Act. A similar Bill was debated in the Parliament in 1966. 1 suppose it is worth recalling that the Nationality and Citizenship Act was first introduced into the Parliament on 30th September 1948 by the former Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who set out for the first time the principles of Australian citizenship. The Act has been amended on many occasions since then. The most recent amendment was made in 1966 when the House debated at length the concept of Australian citizenship and the ways in which the granting of citizenship should be liberalised. I believe that it was a notable debate. Honourable members pointed to the ways in which further sweeping changes could be made in the granting of citizenship by registration and by naturalisation Unfortunately the Bill now before us contains no imaginative changes, lt provides certain concessions for those who either volunteer for the Services or are called up by the Government as national service trainees.
As I have already said, we on this side of the House are totally opposed to the factors that have prompted the amendment to the principal Act. We have in this House and on the public platform repeatedly expressed our opposition to the conscription of young men for overseas service. We have opposed the conscription of Australians. We equally oppose the conscription of aliens to fight in Vietnam. I do not want this debate to centre on the question of conscription, but I should like to emphasise that our attitude at least has been a consistent one. I contrast our consistent attitude with the development of the Government’s attitude to the conscription of aliens. Perhaps ‘development’ is too mild a word for what is essentially a radical about-face in policy. That is what it amounts to. The Government for many years subscribed to the view that conscription of aliens was contrary to international law. This point of view has been expressed in this Parliament on a number of occasions, first by the Prime Minister and then by other members of the Government, who repeatedly expressed the view that aliens should not be conscripted into the armed forces. Therefore I say that there has been a change in the Government’s attitude on this question. On one famous occasion, for example, Sir Robert Menzies, in answer to a question from the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), is reported at page 2785 of ‘Hansard’ of 1 1 th November 1 964, to have said:
I think honourable members ought to think a little more carefully about this matter before they adhere to the principle that an alien in this country should be compelled into Army service.
The then Prime Minister obviously adhered to the finding of the Chief Justice in the case of Polites v. The Commonwealth that the war-time regulations to conscript aliens were contrary to international law. The Chief Justice on that occasion is reported, at page 70 of the Commonwealth Law Reports, Volume 70, to have said:
They must be held to be contrary to an established rule of international law.
This interpretation was followed by the Government until the last year or so, and it accorded with accepted interpretations of international law in most countries of the world. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) himself gave a notable exposition of this principle on 17th November 1964 in reply to a question from the member for New England (Mr Sinclair) who is now Minister for Social Services. I quote from Hansard of that date, at page 3074. The Treasurer, who was then the Minister for Labour and National Service, said:
Under the rules of international law aliens are not and should not be liable to service in the armed forces of a country other than their own without the acquiescence of their own government. … In other words, in what is called the comity of nations we accept that we should not call up aliens, and similarly other nations accept that they should not call up aliens for their righting services.
So, it was the opinion of not one but a number of Government members prior to the introduction of this legislation that aliens should not be called up for full time service in this country. However the Government has seen fit to change its policy, despite the fact that a former Prime Minister gave a very valuable interpretation of what one would regard as questions involved in international law. The Treasurer went on to say that this was particularly important to Australia, because if we called up aliens and other countries objected there might be reprisals against Australian citizens who were temporarily visiting or resident there. The honourable gentleman continued:
Equally, we have the responsibility to ensure that nothing is done to interfere with our immigration programme. We want migrants and we are not prepared to offend the governments of the countries from which they come.
That was the attitude in 1964, but that expression of opinion is not incorporated in the legislation that is now before us. The Government has made a clear decision to conscript aliens into national service, and it has decided that certain residential qualification opportunities ought to be accorded to these people. The Treasurer’s successor as Minister for Labour and National Service had no compunction about scrapping long accepted tenets of international law in formulating the present programme for the calling up of aliens. I point this out as an example of the Government’s inconsistency in its migration and nationality and citizenship policy. lt is futile to say that the calling up of aliens will not adversely affect our migration targets. I have no doubt that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) will have something to say on this aspect of the legislation now before us. Members on this side of the House are certain that this kind of legislation, and the Government’s earlier decision to call up aliens for service in our armed forces, will affect our immigration policy. Indeed, an article that appeared in the ‘Examiner’ on 31st March last stated that a London report pointed to the fact that the number of applications for migration had dropped by 40% . The article went on to say:
Between 1st January and 25th March the number of application forms filled in was 33,557. In the same period last year the figure was 50,075 . . . The British Press recently claimed that fear of being sent to Vietnam had put a lot of young Britons off going to Australia.
I presume these figures were supplied by the London office of the Department of Immigration. It can be seen immediately that there has been a substantial drop in the number of suitable British migrants who are applying for assisted passages to Australia. As I have already indicated to the House, the fall has been of the order of 40%.
How does the Government explain this situation? The London Press said it was largely due to the fear of those who intended coming to Australia that they would be called up for full time service in the Australian armed forces. No doubt the Government will argue that a similar situation applies in other countries. The Minister has argued on other occasions that there has been a substantial fall in the number of suitable migrants offering not only from Britain but also from other countries from which traditionally we have received migrants in the past, and that this is due in some measure to improved conditions in those countries and therefore to come to Australia is not as attractive as it was in the past. I am prepared to concede that, at least partially, this may be the reason for a fall in the numbers of prospective migrants from Britain and other countries from which Australia has received migrants in the past. Nevertheless. I have no doubt that there is some substance in the London Press report that the fall in the number of suitable applicants had been largely brought about by the Government’s policy of calling up aliens to serve in the armed forces. Possibly, for a very meagre gain of 400 servicemen a year we may be sacrificing thousands of new settlers.
We must also have grave doubts about whether the Army welcomes aliens in its ranks. The Minister for Labour and National Service has stressed that all migrants who are called up must have achieved a satisfactory command of the English language. But there still remains grave doubts about language difficulties. Modern warfare depends upon the correct transmission of words of command. There have been disasters in the pasf from mistakes in the transmission of commands. This danger must be greater if a soldier has to pause to assimilate and interpret an unfamiliar expression. This must be particularly so today when warfare employs a highly specialised technical language. It could be a very real problem in the Army with people who have been in Australia for only one or two years.
The Government should have considered these problems very carefully before introducing its plan to conscript aliens into the Australian Army. The Opposition regards the conscription of both Australians and aliens as an accomplished fact. We can do nothing about conscription, but we can state our arguments against it. 1 have tried to do this today with regard to alien conscripts. Having expressed our opposition, we accept, in principle, the Government’s amendments to facilitate the naturalisation of non-British subjects who have been selected for service, as the Minister has described it.
I said at the outset that we had amended the Nationality and Citizenship Act in this Parliament from time to time and I indicated that in many respects we had not gone far enough. During the last debate on this legislation, certain very important amendment were agreed to by the Parliament. In the first instance, alterations were made to the procedure under which an alien became an Australian citizen. This was accepted by the Parliament as being a step in the right direction. At the same time, provision was made for the spouse of an alien to be naturalised at the same time as her husband, despite the residential qualification or lack of it, and I believe the converse to be the position. These were steps in the right direction. One would have thought that the Minister, in addition to introducing the amendments now before us, would have considered the points of view that were expressed about aliens generally in Australia in previous debates.
For example, I do not believe that any Government ought to consider a period of five years as being a residential qualification. We accept migrants into Australia because we want to build up our population; we believe it is essential to do so. We have been endeavouring to increase the population of this country not only by natural increase but since 1945 by a substantial migration programme. That programme has been largely successful, and I do not believe that any member of this Parliament would criticise what has been done in this respect by successive governments. However, if it is competent for this Government to introduce legislation to amend the Act to provide for earlier naturalisation for those who are serving in the armed forces, then I believe it ought to be possible for the Government very seriously to consider reducing the residential qualification for all other aliens in Australia.
One might successfully argue that a special test could be applied to those who are called up to serve in the armed forces and who may later be sent overseas for service in Vietnam or in one of the other proclaimed areas in which Australian troops serve. But I believe that if the “Government can reduce below five years the residential qualification for one section of the Australian community it should be able to reduce that qualification for all aliens in Australia, or present to this Parliament very good reasons for not doing so. After all, aliens come to Australia and are accepted by us as immigrants. We want them here to build up our population. We believe they can make a worthwhile and a notable contribution to this community, and I believe that generally speaking immigrants to this country have done so. They have made a very successful contribution to the economic development of Australia and they have certainly helped to increase our population.
The residential qualification for citizenship is now to be reduced to three months for those who serve in the armed forces. If this is the policy of this Government on nationality and citizenship as it applies to members of the armed forces, then I believe it should also be the policy applying to all others who come to Australia from other countries. I see that the Minister for Immigration is not very happy with this proposition, but I point out to him that this is not my opinion only. I suggest that the Minister study the Hansard report of the debate on this subject which took place in the Parliament in 1966. A number of speakers from the Government side of the House expressed the belief that the residential qualification should be reduced. I refer, for instance, to the former honourable member for Sturt, Sir Keith Wilson, who was then the Chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council and so was in a position to speak with great authority on this subject. He had obviously given careful consideration to the residential qualification and he said he thought it should be reduced to twelve months or two years at the most. This would certainly have been a substantial reduction from the period of five years which now applies. The Minister has done nothing about these suggestions that were made during what I believe was a very fruitful debate in 1966.
I refer also to another matter that may arise in connection with this legislation - the ability of an alien resident in Australia to speak the English language. One of the provisions of the existing Act is that an immigrant must be conversant with the English language before he can take the prescribed oath and be granted Australian citizenship. I do not believe that this requirement should remain. Is it really necessary for an alien in this country to be conversant with the English language? I suggest that there are many members of this Parliament who, after having spent some time in one of the European countries, would have great difficulty in conversing in the language of that country. Why should we establish a situation in which one or two members of a family cannot become Australian citizens because they are not conversant with the English language, while their children who were born in this country are, of course, Australian citizens. In a great many families in this country the children are Australian citizens while the parents are not because, in the opinion of the Government, they cannot converse adequately in the language of the country.
I have referred to two matters which I think should have been carefully considered by the Minister when arranging the amendment of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. I do not think there should be any barriers to the obtaining of citizenship. I have already pointed out that the Government carefully vets all people who wish to come here from overseas. It must be satisfied that they are potentially suitable citizens. Yet it chooses to make those people wait, in many instances for five years, before they become entitled to the privileges of Australian citizenship. I believe, and the Government apparently believes, that all persons who are to fight and shed blood for Australia should be Australians. In this respect the Government proposal to grant citizenship to them after three months is a marked improvement on the existing legislation which provides that every year a serviceman spends in the armed forces should count as two years for the purpose of residential qualification for citizenship. We say that all those who become members of the permanent forces should be made citizens immediately. Why should they have to wait for three months? What is the reason for it? The Minister has not given any reason in his second reading speech. He says merely that they may become Australian citizens after three months service or earlier if discharged on medical grounds and if, in the opinion of the Minister, the medical disability resulting in the discharge was brought about by his service in the armed forces.
We believe there is no valid reason why the Government should not grant citizenship rights immediately to members of the armed forces. What I said a few moments ago about aliens in this country applies to those called up for service in the armed forces. I think the Minister would agree that any alien conscripted into the forces would be called up for service only after a very careful check of his background. Such a check is always made in respect of aliens who apply for naturalisation, and also those called up for two years national service training. If the Army authorities find something in the man’s background which is not considered satisfactory, he is not called upon to serve in the armed forces. The Government obviously has a clear indication before a member is called upon to serve in the armed forces that he is a suitable person so to serve, and there is then no reason why such a person should not be immediately eligible to apply for citizenship rights. Perhaps the Minister can explain to this House why the Government has decided that citizenship can be granted only after three months.
I believe it is difficult to justify the deferring for three months of the granting of citizenship rights. As I have already said, I presume that the Government has some precautionary motive to ensure that the person conscripted is a satisfactory soldier and worthy of the grant of citizenship. But
I think that the Government is being overcautious. Surely the Government’s selection system affords some safeguard. For the reasons I have given to the House I can see no reason why immediate citizenship should not be granted to a person who becomes a member of the permanent forces. All the necessary information concerning such a person is available to the Government. There are adequate safeguards. If the Government or the armed forces, acting on information, deem that an alien is not a suitable person to serve in the armed forces, that information would no doubt preclude the alien at a later date from the rights of citizenship. There is a risk that a very small percentage of these persons may prove to be unsuitable citizens, but it is a risk which the Government can afford to take. We find it abhorrent that persons should be drafted into the Australian Army for even three months without their being Australian citizens. During those first three months of training there is always the risk of accident due to the normal hazards of military training. In such a case an alien called up for full time service could be granted citizenship rights at the discretion of the Minister but if one examines the Minister’s second reading speech one will see that everything depends on whether the Minister considers the man’s disability to be due to his service in the armed forces. This is one reason why we on this side of the House believe that there should be no delay in giving Australian citizenship to aliens undertaking national service. I do not want to elaborate on this point, but I suggest that the situation to which I have referred is a possibility and is one which the Government should carefully consider.
I urge the Government to consider seriously our amendment. It springs from sincere motives. We should never let it be said that Australia has in its permanent Army even for a brief period persons who are not Australian citizens.
– Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
– It seems to me that the important words in the amendment moved by the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard) are permanent forces’. The honourable member said that he disagrees with the Government’s concept of national service but he conceded that there is nothing the Opposition can do about it. In my view the amendment, if carried, would prevent persons who were undergoing national service from obtaining citizenship. The amendment would in fact place them at a disadvantage and would make citizenship available only to members of the permanent forces.
I am pleased to support the Bill in its original form, which when passed will make quite certain that no non-British serviceman will be required to serve overseas in the Australian armed forces without first having had the opportunity of becoming an Australian citizen. There is no suggestion of compulsion about this measure. The Bill simply reduces the residential qualification for a member of the armed forces. It is well known and appreciated by all honourable members and the people of Australia that already there are non-British subjects serving in the Australian Army. We all know that the normal period of residence in Australia before naturalisation may be achieved is five years. There are some specific exceptions applying to dependants of Australian citizens in certain circumstances and to persons who served under British command or with the Australian forces in World War II. The Bill will add a further class to those exceptions and reduce the period of service to those eligible to three months.
In his second reading speech the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) drew attention to the fact that at the time of call-up non-British subjects selected for service will be adults. Aliens will not be called up until they have been in the country for two years and have reached the age of twentyone years, when they are expected to be able to make decisions as adults. Like British subjects they also have the opportunity to serve in the Citizen Military Forces as an alternative to national service, although British subjects must take this decision in their twentieth year. Adult aliens who do not wish to serve at all are also given the opportunity of returning to their homelands, although in many cases the terms of military service in those countries are, I suggest, very much longer and undertaken under much less favourable conditions than those applying in our service.
The Minister stated that the Government has provided for the decision to be made as an adult member of the community. In most countries the age for registration for national service is only eighteen years and in many there is a continuing obligation to the age of twenty-six years and in certain categories, such as in the case of an officer or non-commissioned officer, to the completion of a person’s sixtieth year. These countries are in the main the great European immigrant countries where the flow of migration is outwards towards us and where the situation is not comparable with our own. The United States of America is probably the world’s greatest modern migrant nation. Liability of aliens in the United States for service and training commences after one year of residence and at the age of eighteen and a half years. If an immigrant alien fails to register for national service in the United States he is declared delinquent, which is a federal offence. His name is placed on a priority list for call-up. Those who leave the country with the intention of evading service are ineligible to return. A non-immigrant alien, which is a separate classification in the United States, is barred from citizenship if be seeks relief from national service.
In Greece military service is compulsory and universal. Liability there begins in the twenty-first year and lasts to the fiftieth year. In Italy the period of service is eighteen months, except in the Navy, where it is twenty-eight months. In West Germany compulsory military service commences at the age of eighteen years and the obligation remains until a man’s forty-fifth year. French citizens who are physically fit have seventeen years of military service to perform. It would appear to me that the choice for a non-British migrant to return to his homeland is not likely to be particularly attractive if it is simply to avoid national service in Australia.
In his second reading speech the Minister referred to permanent residence in this country. In this regard I believe that we should negotiate with all countries with which we have migration agreements to ensure that once a permanent Australian resident has completed his Australian national service his obligation to serve in the forces of his homeland, should he ever return there, is cancelled. I know that this provision does not exist. In fact, I know of one citizen in my electorate who, when he returned to his homeland in southern Europe, was confined to gaol for a period of three months because he had not served before coming to Australia. This man is now 50 years of age. He had to pay approximately £A600 to be released from gaol so that he could come back to Australia. I suggest that if Italians or other citizens have served in our services this should be sufficient reason for them to be exempt from service if they return to their own homeland for a holiday. In addition, I suggest that satisfactory and honourable national service in these other migrant countries could, upon examination, confer partial if not total exemption from service in our own country.
This Bill also covers the situation where a non-British migrant, discharged as medically unfit by reason of service can, if he chooses, apply for naturalisation after an even shorter period of service. The Government is obviously anxious to do everything possible to encourage naturalisation. The records show that since 1945 almost 500,000 citizens have become naturalised and that almost five of every seven eligible persons have become Australian citizens. Whether he seeks naturalisation or remains unnaturalised will make little material difference to the non-British serviceman. All social service benefits such as age, invalid and widows pensions, unemployment benefit, child endowment, sickness benefit and funeral and rehabilitation benefits are available to him and his family. However, naturalisation is a desirable and final step, apart from this, towards his integration into our community. A naturalised Australian citizen attains full protection under Australian law. He is entitled to an Australian passport, and he has the right to vote and stand for public office and for election .to Federal, State or local government. I hope that many of those eligible will take advantage of this offer which simply amounts to an offer of accelerated naturalisation. We are grateful for their enormous contribution to Australia’s progress, we need them and their talents, and we should like to share with them the right of full Australian citizenship.
In his speech, the Minister also draws attention to the situation of Irish citizens and explains the use of the expression ‘nonBritish’ in preference to ‘aliens’ which will mean that Irish citizens will now become liable for call-up. On 20th September last, the then Minister estimated that approximately 400,000 aliens were living in Australia and were required to register with the Department of Immigration annually. At that date, only 80,000 aliens had notified the Department. The present intake requirements for the Australian Army total 8,400 men annually, and from the four registrations to date the total number registered is almost 174,000 men. On my calculations, the odds for call-up are approximately one in nine.
Separate numbers for the Irish citizens mentioned by me are not available because they are included in most lists with the United Kingdom figures. Nor are the precise ages of other non-British migrants available, although, during the period from January 1947 to June 1965 more than one million assisted migrants arrived in Australia. During the year 1965 alone, over 16,000 unmarried males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four years, arrived in this country. It was announced on 9th March last that 52,000 men were required to register during February. I trust that the Government is taking appropriate steps to publicise the obligations of all young men of military age. The liability to serve, or the privilege to serve - it depends on one’s outlook - should be distributed evenly amongst all those eligible, not just amongst those who comply with the law and register with the Department of Immigration, where that is required of them, and, finally, the Department of Labour and National Service. Obviously the more names there are in the ballot the more widely the obligation is spread.
In his speech, the Minister also said:
It would be inappropriate to give to persons volunteering for service with the permanent forces less favourable treatment than is afforded to aliens called up for national service.
I strongly support this provision and remind honourable members that regular servicement outnumber national servicemen in the Australian Army by more than two to one. They are all volunteers. Many of them are specialists without whom the Army simply could not function. They sign on for long terms and volunteer to serve overseas or wherever it suits the Army to send them. I am pleased that our ordinary soldier is the highest paid in the world. For the volunteer serviceman, it is an honourable career with, I think, a suitably attractive salary. For the national serviceman it is philosophically accepted, I believe, in the way the ancient Greeks accepted the use of sortition or the casting of lots as a characteristic of democracy.
In supporting the measure I point out that it is a short Bill. The scope for debate is comparatively narrow, but it sets out concisely several desirable and excellent additions to the Nationality and Citizenship Act. I believe that the Government’s decision will meet with widespread approval and I utterly reject the gloomy suggestions made last year that the extension of national service to non-British migrants will dry up our supply of migrants. The demonstrations and propaganda witnessed at the time were no doubt inspired by those who can see no good at all in our way of life and no evil in that of our enemies. I can only say there would be little future for this country if our principal attraction were that we were the one affluent society in the world where young men could go to avoid the obligation to serve. I believe that our migrants themselves have completely disproved the suggestion not only by the continuing flow of migration but also by the continuing rate of naturalisation. I have very much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
.- The speech read by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) when introducing the Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1967 covered only two and a half foolscap pages of double spaced typing. It can well be appreciated, therefore, that the Minister did not allow himself a great deal of scope for describing the Bill to the House or for giving the House some history of the background of the need for the introduction of this proposed amendment to the Nationality and Citizenship Act. I should like to take this opportunity to give a short outline of the history of circumstances which have made this Bill necessary. The Minister stated on two or three occasions that the Bill deals with the subject of national service training. I feel therefore that we need to go back to 1964 in tracing this history. In August of that year there was some talk about the need to increase our defence forces. There was also some discussion as to whether we should introduce national service training for the youth of this country. In August 1964 the then Minister for the Army, the present Minister for Health (Dr Forbes), came into this House and in a speech lasting almost half an hour told the House and the country that it was against the unanimous advice of our military advisers to introduce national service training. He said that he felt, and the military advisers of the Government felt, that our armed forces could continue to rise to the necessary standard and numbers under the volunteer system. All honourable members accepted that as being official Government policy. On 26th October 1964 the same Minister for the Army attended the National Congress of the Returned Servicemen’s League in Hobart and made a speech similar to the one he had made in this House earlier in the month. Again he said that to introduce national service training in Australia would be against the unanimous advice of the Government’s military advisers. That speech was made on 26th October 1964.
On 10th November 1964 the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, announced in this House that the Government had decided to introduce national service training and would call up Australian youths of twenty years of age. At no time during the course of the speech announcing the introduction of national service training did the then Prime Minister suggest that the decision was taken on the advice of the military advisers. Admittedly the Prime Minister did say that the Government had consulted its military advisers. National service training was introduced following that speech and the only people to be affected by national service training-
– Order! I remind the honourable member for Lang that the Bill before the House does not relate to national service training as such but only to national service in relation to the Nationality and Citizenship Act. I suggest therefore that the honourable member should not devote a substantial portion of his speech to national service as such.
– 1 appreciate the point you have taken, Mr Deputy Speaker. I merely mentioned these facts in order to show that the Government was not certain of what is was doing when it introduced national service training. It had not considered the matter greatly at all. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why this Bill is before the House. The Government, in introducing national service training, did not take into consideration the number of side issues that would be involved, and this is one of those side issues. This Bill would not be before the House had it not been for the representative of the Australian Labor Party at the Australian Citizenship Convention in January 1965. That representative was the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) who attended on behalf of the then Leader of the Party, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). The honourable member for Grayndler spoke on the opening day of the Convention and a report of what he said appears in the Digest of the Australian Citizenship Convention Canberra 1965’, a publication of the Department of Immigration. At page 14 of that publication these words appear:
Mr Daly said that with 230,000 migrants eligible but unnaturalised, the Convention’s theme was urgent and appropriate.
I break off there to point out that the theme of the Convention was ‘Every settler a citizen’. The report continues:
The demand is there for inquiry and remedy in respect of why a quarter of a million people who are enjoying the security, the freedom, the way of life and the prosperity of this country do not see fit to seek Australian citizenship’, he said.
For the first time in the history of Australia the Commonwealth Government had recently amended the Defence Act to provide for compulsory military service by Australian men at home or abroad in time of pence.
Aliens, that is, unnaturalised migrants, were exempt from the call-up but would not be prevented from volunteering.
I do not say this in any way critical of migrants’, said Mr Daly, ‘but this legislation will hardly assist the Government in its naturalisation drive.
If anything, it will provide an excellent reason for not accepting citizenship, and we may expect fewer people than ever to seek naturalisation.
This is not because the people concerned desire to evade any obligations; but because some of them, when they return to their own countries for a visit, may be called upon to serve for another period of two years in the Army of the country of their birth.’
Unnaturalised Australians who had been here for more than five years, enjoyed the prosperity, security and protection thai residence gave them.
To most Australians there is substance and justice in the claim that people enjoying these privileges should share the responsibility for defending them,’ he said.
In the eyes of the public, particularly people with sons involved in the call-up, the defence legislation exempting unnaturalised persons may be looked upon as a form of favouritism and could lead to violent reaction by some sections of the community against the immigration, programme.
– Who said that?
– The representative of the Labor Party at the 1965 Citizenship Convention, the honourable member for Grayndler. The report continues:
In those circumstances it is not difficult to imagine that the situation could inflame passions and create bitter internal problems, including the stimulation of hatred and bitterness towards migrants in general and unnaturalised migrants in particular.’
Mr Daly said he was aware of the problems of international law and of other difficulties. This matter makes it essential for the Government to take the initiative’, he said.
As a result of that speech one of the points considered by practically every discussion group at that Convention was whether a naturalised migrant should be called up for national service training. Because the Government made the decision to call up these youths we now have this Bill before us which lays down the provisions under which youths who are called up or who volunteer for service in our armed forces are to be entitled to become naturalised Australian citizens. The Labor Party opposes this legislation. We suggest that it should be withdrawn and redrafted in order that immediate Australian citizenship shall be available for unnaturalised Australians who are called up or who volunteer for service in our forces. We do this even though we have opposed - and will continue to oppose - conscription for service outside Australia. We do this because, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) said, conscription is now the accepted thing. An election was fought over this matter and conscription is with us while this Government remains in office.
Despite the fact that we oppose conscription we still feel that if unnaturalised or non-British subjects are called up to serve in our armed forces they are entitled to apply for immediate Australian citizen ship. At the Citizenship Convention in January 1965 most of the discussion groups considered this point. They suggested that non-British subjects should be called up for national service training. They felt that this would not in any way affect the rate of naturalisation of migrants in Australia. Group 1 , which was chaired by Rev. Father M. J. Rafter, of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee, is reported at page 29 of the ‘Digest’ as stating:
It was strongly felt that new settler youths, after some stipulated period of residence, should be eligible for registration for national service on attaining the due age, in common with Australian youth. This would help integration, and failure to do so could give rise to tensions in the community. It was also felt that the new settlers themselves would not object.
Group 2, under the chairmanship of Mr A. E. Monk, of the Immigration Planning Council - and also of the Australian Council of Trade Unions - is reported at page 31 of the ‘Digest’ as stating:
A number said it was important that defence should be the first consideration in this country because countries to our north could create difficulties in the future or perhaps in the immediate future. It was pointed out, particularly by a representative of the Department of Labour and National ‘Service, that one in twelve of the community of twenty years of age would be subject to call-up whether it was confined to Australians or extended to the whole of the junior work force, so this was not a great problem at this stage.
The Chairman of Group 4, Mr H. G. Ferrier of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, said, as reported at page 40 of the ‘Digest’:
The view was expressed that exemption of unnaturalised migrants from military service could give rise to resentment in the community, particularly in sections where national service was already unpopular. In reply it was pointed out that there were international difficulties and that if we called up foreign nationals we could expect the same treatment would be meted out to Australians abroad.
Group 5, under the Chairmanship of Dr Una Porter of the Young Women’s Christian Association, also commented on the problem of naturalisation and the call up for national service training of nonBritish subjects. Some of the delegates at the final session of the general assembly commented on this matter.
The Minister, in a two and a half page speech, failed to put the history of the legislation now before us. He failed to show that representatives of the people of Australia at the Australian Citizenship Convention in January 1965, in the course of a discussion initiated by a member of the Australian Labor Party, the honourable member for Grayndler, gave the reason for the legislation that is before us today. That Convention certainly could not be regarded as having been sponsored by the Labor Party. Honourable members have only to look at the names of some of the representatives listed at the back of the ‘Digest’ to see that a widely representative gathering of Australian citizens suggested that not only should unnaturalised youths in Australia be called up for military service but that such a call up would have no effect whatever on the number of new Australians becoming naturalised or on the immigration programme in general.
– The honourable member is contradicting his Deputy Leader.
– Perhaps I have contradicted the Deputy Leader. Perhaps I have said some things that are contrary to what he said, but at the same time I reiterate that the Labor Party, whilst it is opposed to conscription, is not opposed to immigration and that the representatives of the Party at the Citizenship Convention were all in accord with what the honourable member for Grayndler said on that occasion. I notice that the honourable member for Grayndler is in the House at the moment. I am certain that, having given due consideration to his speech in January 1965, he will agree today with everything that I have said. At that Convention it was argued that, if conscription were introduced for the youth of Australia, it would be fair to include unnaturalised youths who were the children of migrants.
When we get down to the basic point at issue it must be admitted that very few Australian youths are being called up for national service training and that the provisions in this legislation will not affect many unnaturalised youths. For that reason the Labor Party believes that to place a three months embargo or time limit on an application for Australian citizenship is wrong. If a youth is to be called up for national service training or is to volunteer for service in our armed forces, then it is surely good enough to allow him to obtain full Australian rank without first having to serve for three months in the forces. The Labor Party suggests to the Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp), who is at present at the table, and to the Government generally that the Opposition’s amendment deserves the consideration of this House. Discussion of this subject was initiated by the Labor Party as far back as 1965. I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, which contains these words:
The Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that a person who becomes a member of the permanent forces of the Commonwealth shall be immediately eligible for Australian citizenship.
– The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), when introducing this Bill, said that it is designed to ensure that no non-British serviceman would have to go overseas without first having had the opportunity to become an Australian citizen. I cannot imagine anyone querying that proposition. The Deputy Leader of the Labor Party (Mr Barnard), who opened this debate for the Opposition, devoted quite a lot of time to debating whether or not aliens should be called up for national service. The terms of the Bill do not permit a debate on this subject. The only point at issue in this debate is whether, in return for their service to Australia, aliens are entitled to a concession which will shorten the normal qualifying residential period of five years for citizenship. Because the Opposition has queried the correctness or otherwise of calling up for national service persons who are not Australian citizens, I want to go on record as saying that I believe that if it is good enough for anyone, whether he was born in Australia or not, to accept the privileges of Australian citizenship, he ought to be prepared to fight to retain those privileges. If he is not prepared to accept this obligation he is not compelled to remain in Australia.
As in the case of British migrants or British subjects, non-British migrants who intend to reside in Australia permanently are required to register for national service training in the half year in which they turn twenty years of age, but their call up is deferred until they have actually attained twenty-one years of age. This deferment gives them an opportunity to decide whether they wish to leave Australia or to remain here as Australian citizens with the same rights and privileges as have people who have been bom in Australia. As they cannot be called up for national service until they have resided in Australia for two years they have ample time in which to make up their minds whether they like Australia well enough to fight for it. The choice is theirs. They are perfectly free to decide whether they wish to leave Australia and so avoid national service or whether they are prepared to stay here and give two years service in the defence forces.
– Has an Aussie got that choice?
– I am talking about people who come here to reside in Australia. We are not compelling them to serve. If they want to live here and accept the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship, then they must accept the same liability as people who were born in Australia. In these circumstances I believe that it is fair enough to offer citizenship to an alien after three months service or at such earlier time as he is discharged from the Services medically unfit as a result of his service. Normally a non-British migrant must complete five years residence in Australia before he can be granted citizenship, but this Bill provides that the period can be reduced to three months, or even less, in return for national service. I believe that the Bill will be welcomed by most migrant groups. In almost all European countries at least two years national service is compulsory for all young men. In Australia the chances of a person being called up are not very great. My honourable friend from Boothby (Mr McLeay) said that the odds were about one chance in nine, but they are not that great. Last month there were 52,000 registrants and the ballot was designed to produce only 4,200 servicemen, so the chance of being called up was slightly less than one in thirteen. My colleague from Boothby mentioned the situation concerning national service in France. Last night I was talking to an Australian citizen who came here some years ago from France. He has been a naturalised Australian citizen for some time. He recently received a note from the French Consulate in Melbourne asking him to call and register. He was told that if he wanted to leave Australia to visit France, Noumea or Tahiti an Australian passport would not be good enough for him; he would require a French passport. He was told that if he returned to France before he turned twentyeight years of age, even though he was an Australian citizen he would be called up for national service. At the same time it was made perfectly clear to him that once he turned age sixty France would not want him. At age sixty he would become eligible to receive a social service pension. This gentleman’s father is more than sixty years of age and when he recently visited the French Consulate in Melbourne to discuss some problem he was told: ‘You are an Australian citizen’. So long as a Frenchman, even though he has become an Australian citizen, has some years of national service training left in him he is still regarded as a French citizen. I mention this because I think it is relevant to what has been said.
I believe that unless a migrant is entitled to the same rights and privileges as his Australian neighbour, unless he has the same responsibilities and unless he has the same loyalties as his Australian neighbour, he can never really become part of the community in which he lives. For that reason most migrants are anxious to become Australian citizens. Unless a migrant happens to marry an Australian citizen he or she has to wait five years before gaining citizenship. This Bill gives to young migrants the opportunity of becoming Australian citizens in a little over two years, or in less time than that if the migrants volunteer for service with our defence forces. Obviously, as has been pointed out by the Minister, volunteers could not receive any less favourable treatment under this legislation than those who have been called up for national service. I believe that the Bill will receive the approval of most sections of the Australian community and I am happy to support it.
– This Bill proposes to reduce the residential qualifications of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. It becomes a rather interesting proposition when it is considered in relation to the views expressed by the then Minister for Immigration last year. However, the Government’s reason for now submitting these proposals stems not only from an earlier decision by Cabinet to call up aliens for national service but more particularly from the fact that once called up for service they are also subject to service in an area of war overseas. It was this probability of service in Vietnam or elsewhere, which could have fatal results for these servicemen, that prompted the Government to introduce this measure. The Government does not deny this. It was made quite clear by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) when, in his second reading speech, he told the House that the changes to the Act were designed to ensure that no non-British serviceman would be obliged to go overseas without first having the opportunity to become an Australian citizen. Of course, as honourable members know, the proposed amendments in themselves will not ensure citizenship;- they will ensure only the opportunity to apply for citizenship. We must assume that the Government will also ensure that no alien will be called up for national service unless or until he can satisfy all the other conditions of the Nationality and Citizenship Act relating to naturalisation. If this is a qualification in relation to the call-up of aliens, and if we accept as being correct the views expressed last year by the immediate past Minister for Immigration, we can expect that only a few - in fact, only the odd one or two - aliens with less than five years residence in Australia will qualify for either national service or citizenship.
The proposals before us would reduce the residential qualifications from the existing five years to two years and three months for aliens called up for national service, with the proviso that except in certain circumstances they must complete three months of their national service to qualify. The exception to the three months service is where an alien is discharged before he has been able to serve the three months and he must be discharged on the grounds of medical unfitness, and that medical unfitness must be the result of his service in the forces of the Commonwealth. We say there is no necessity for the additional three months. The person should qualify for application for citizenship immediately upon being called up. It was quite clear from the Minister’s remarks when introducing the Bill that there would be no alteration to the Act if aliens called up for service were obliged to serve only in Australia. This, in turn, must mean that the Government can see no reason under normal circumstances to reduce the residential qualification below the existing five years.
Of course, this was very definitely the attitude of the previous Minister. He advanced reasons only twelve months ago why, in his opinion, or in the opinion of the Government, there should be no alteration to tha existing conditions.
If the Government honestly believes that aliens called up for service, irrespective of whether they have been here two years or ten years, will qualify for citizenship as a result of the amendments now proposed, why should it object to a general application of a qualification of two years and three months? After all, if these proposals will allow aliens to qualify for citizenship it merely means that they are qualified with regard to all other requirements of the Act and have been prevented from applying for citizenship only because they have been resident here for less than five years. If this is so why should they not have the opportunity to qualify for citizenship irrespective of whether they are called up? Late last year the Government decided that aliens should be called up for national service after being resident in Australia for two years. Now the Government finds itself in a situation where if the Nationality and Citizenship Act is not amended as proposed it could be placed in the embarrassing position where not only could aliens complete their term of service, including some time in Vietnam, and still be aliens upon their return to civilian life but, worse still, some might not return at all but might lose their lives in an area of war in a like manner to British subjects. While the Government may not be over concerned about the loss of a few lives, it is very concerned about possible repercussions if the people they are prepared to send into war zones are denied citizenship. That is the reason behind this Bill.
No thought has been given to those people who may possibly be killed or who may die early in the piece - shortly after they are called up. The only way in which the residential qualification can apply without the person serving three months is where he is discharged as medically unfit before the three months elapsed, but he must definitely be discharged. It would seem that while the Government expresses great concern that a soldier may be killed overseas while still an alien, it is in no way concerned if, while still an alien, a soldier is killed in Australia during the first three months of his service. The chances of a soldier being killed in Australia may be rather remote, but the possibilities are always present, and in any event he will be serving this country no matter where he is; and whether he dies or is killed overseas or in Australia, whether he dies on his first day in camp or on the last day before he completes his time, he is still fulfilling a duty and is entitled to the same rights of citizenship or to any other protection or concession which is given to others. However, this Bill does not provide this protection. It must be remembered also that a number of those called up - no doubt the majority - will have been in Australia much longer than two years. Some could have been here three years, four years or even four and a half years. But they will all be obliged under the Government’s proposal and in the ordinary course of events to serve for three months before they qualify.
We can have a situation in which two men are called up together, one resident for two years and the other resident for four and a half years. The man resident for two years could be discharged almost immediately and would therefore qualify for citizenship, while the other who has been resident for four and a half years would not qualify until he had completed his three months service. If unfortunately they were both killed before the person who had been a resident for four and a half years had qualified, he would die as an alien and the other who had been a resident for two years would die as an Australian citizen. That may not worry either of them and may not affect the rights of the dependants, but a principle is involved. If the Opposition’s amendment is accepted, the sort of situation that I have described will not arise. All these people will be treated equally. Every man called up for national service will be eligible immediately to apply for citizenship.
I have heard honourable members on both sides of the House say frequently, and very properly so, that the existing qualification of residence for five years is excessive in ordinary circumstances. It is far too long. It always seems rather strange to me that a person who has met all the other conditions that are laid down for migrants should have to be resident in Australia for five years to satisfy us further that he is a fit and proper person to qualify for citizenship. If it were compulsory for migrants to become naturalised, we could understand the need for a residential qualification of five years. This would allow them time to make up their minds as to what they wished to do. But naturalisation being voluntary and migrants having to meet certain other important qualifications, there seems to be no real point in preventing a person qualified in all other respects from becoming an Australian citizen. In fact where citizenship is a necessary qualification, as for some types of employment, we can do a migrant a grave injustice by refusing citizenship purely on the basis of the residential qualification.
Only last year, we debated a Bill amending the Nationality and Citizenship Act. We then heard several honourable members express their belief that the length of residence should be reduced and reduced substantially. We heard Sir Keith Wilson, who was then the member for Sturt and Chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, say that residence for a period of one year or at the most two years should be sufficient to enable us to satisfy ourselves about migrants whom we had already vetted and accepted as being suitable potential citizens. I do not know whether he was expressing his own views or those of the Council, but I do not think he would express views that were contrary to those of the Council: It does not say much for our vetting system, and would suggest that we are giving migrants only a very cursory examination, if they must wait here for five years before we can make up our mind as to whether they should be granted citizenship.
When replying to the debate last year, the honourable member for Corio, who was then the Minister for Immigration, spoke at some length on the subject of a reduction in the residential qualification. If he still holds the same views today as he expressed then, he cannot feel very happy about the value or the wisdom of the proposals that have now been submitted to the House by his successor. He referred to the period of residence as being a delicate question and expressed grave doubts as to whether an alien could in less than five years gain a sufficient knowledge of the English language. He was also doubtful as to whether a migrant in less than five years could satisfy himself that he wished to become an Australian citizen. Personally I did not think there was any substance in his objections because, in the first place, the language question is adequately catered for in the Act, irrespective of residence, and in the second place the need for a migrant to be satisfied in his own mind would be a cause for strong concern only if we had a form of compulsory naturalisation. However, I have no doubt that the Minister at that time was expressing the views of the Government on the subject. Therefore, his remarks are very interesting and worth quoting while we are considering this Bill.
Before quoting the Minister. I ask honourable members to bear in mind that if a migrant comes within the age group he can be called up for military service inside or outside Australia even though he has been resident in Australia for only two years. So, two and a half years after arriving in Australia he could find himself in Vietnam. I also ask honourable members to keep in mind that the purpose of the Bill before us is to allow those aliens called up for service to apply for citizenship immediately after serving for three months. They can apply for citizenship after being in Australia for only two years and three months or even less in certain circumstances. I ask for these points to be kept in mind because, if honourable members accept the remarks of the former Minister as being an expression of the Government’s policy and in the best interests of migrants and of Australia, they must surely find it impossible to accept that aliens should be called up for national service after only two years or even three or four years residence in this country. They must also find it rather difficult to accept this Bill as a genuine attempt by the Government to assist or to protect aliens called up for service and to believe that it is not merely a cover to avoid complications or criticisms in which the Government could be involved in the future.
I want to examine what the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman) said last year, when he was Minister for Immigration, in rebutting the suggestion that the residential qualification should be reduced. He said:
There must be a balance of judgment on the delicate question of the period of residence that is required before a person can apply for naturalisation. In immigration matters when wo are dealing with regulations and Acts, it is essential that all the factors involved be weighed most carefully because, in endeavouring to do one thing, we frequently find a penalty arises in another area which relates to the very people we are endeavouring to assist
I think we should bear in mind here that the present Minister for Immigration when introducing the Bill gave only a short explanation of the reasons for it. The honourable member for Corio also said last year:
Honourable members have spoken this evening about eligibility for naturalisation and have indicated a great deal of sympathy for migrants. The/ have taken naturalisation in their stride, as it were. I must impress upon honourable members, however, that naturalisation cannot be considered lightly or conferred lightly. I think it is fair to require an applicant to have a good enough knowledge of English to understand the oath he is taking and the obligation that he is accepting. I think it is reasonable to expect him to have sufficient knowledge of the country to appreciate the concessions that are available to him and also his duty to his new country. I offer no resistance whatsoever to any alteration of immigration procedures that can be shown to be in the best interests of Australia. After all, we must keep in mind the interests of our country.
He went on to say:
Let me point out to honourable members that the average time spent in Australia by migrants before they apply for naturalisation is between seven and eight years. In the terrific upheaval involved in their transplantation from the old country to the new they spend the early years in making a complete study of the jobs and housing available, the monetary returns that are possible and all the other things that go towards making a new life in a new country. There are odd exceptions, of course, who can be completely integrated in a very short time. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory mentioned ona who was fluent in English and could readily bo absorbed but he was one of a few rare cases.
I believe that if we decided, without having given the matter proper consideration, to shorten the qualifying period, paying no regard at all to the time required for a person to gain a knowledge of the language, we would lose all the benefits of the efforts we have been making to assist migrants in this direction. … If we took no account of the desirability or necessity for a migrant to gain a knowledge of English before being naturalised we would find, human nature being what it is, that the migrants would not bother to learn English properly and would merely pick up whatever they could in their particular environments. We would destroy any feeling that now exists that the language should be learned in the first five years. We could also Jay ourselves open to a charge by the Australian public that we are indifferent to the welfare of our new settlers who could if they had an insufficient knowledge of English become involved in all sorts of difficulties with our laws, with housing agreements, even with simple traffic signs.
In concluding his comments on this suggestion, the honourable member said:
We must not appear to grant naturalisation so freely or irresponsibly that people ‘will say we are lax in our attitude towards migrants. A delicate balance of human relationships is involved, and any alterations to our procedure must be considered as carefully as the alterations to this legislation are being considered this evening.
I think we are entitled to believe that when a Minister introduces a bill he expresses not his own views on the subject but those of the Government. The legislation is introduced or amended as a result of a decision by the Government and not simply by the Minister, and therefore the reasons behind the decision would also be those of the Government and it is those reasons that a Minister should be expected to explain to the House.
Therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, I have quoted the former Minister for Immigration, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman), at some length because I consider the views he expressed are very important. If those were the views of the Government at the end of April last year, what made it decide a few weeks later that it would be proper to call up for national service and service overseas aliens who had been resident in Australia only a bare two years? Also, what makes it decide now that aliens with two years residence should have the opportunity to apply for citizenship when twelve months ago the Minister was so certain that aliens would not know within five years whether or not they wanted to become citizens?
The former Minister also spoke of the terrific upheaval involved in the transplantation of migrants from their own country to their new country. He said that they spend their early years in making a complete study of those aspects of the new country that concern them most, and when he said early years’ quite obviously he did not mean the first and second years. His reference to the average time of seven or eight years before migrants apply for citizenship suggests that he is, or at least was, of the opinion that we could not expect migrants to overcome this terrific upheaval and be sure of what they wanted to do in less than five years. If the former Minister was correct, what sort of a position do we have today, particularly with those migrants of only two or three years residence? While they are still in the early stages of overcoming the initial upheaval they are thrown into further turmoil by being called up for national service and by being faced with the probability of being sent overseas. If twelve months ago it was not in the best interests of either migrants or Australia to permit aliens the right to apply for citizenship until they had overcome the terrific upheaval of transplantation, how then does it become the right thing to do today, when they must be more confused than ever?
Therefore the remarks of the former Minister become very important when related to this Bill. If we are expected to accept them as being a reasonable and proper view to take with regard to the residential qualifications, do we accept that to follow that view is in the best interests of the migrants and also in the best interests of Australia in the future? More importantly still, do we accept it as being the general view of the Government? If we do, then surely we are entitled to expect, as I said earlier, that before an alien is called up for national service he will have what the honourable member for Corio described as a knowledge of English sufficient to understand the oath he is taking, the obligations he is accepting, and exactly what is required of him with regard to national service. That is, he will have to be one of those odd cases, one of those very rare cases, to which the former Minister referred but did not consider as being sufficiently important to warrant any reduction in the general residential qualifications.
Last year the Government was satisfied that those few odd cases deserved no consideration - and apparently it is still of that opinion - unless they were unlucky enough to become victims of the Government’s lottery system. Therefore if it means that only those few rare cases will measure up to the requirements for national service, surely it must also mean that at the actual time of call-up they will be able to satisfy, with the exception of residence, all the requirements of the Nationality and Citizenship Act in its present form. That is, they will be of good character, they wm have an adequate knowledge of the English language, and - this to my mind is very important - they will have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship.
If they do not have those qualifications, then of course the passing of this Bill will not ensure citizenship irrespective of how long they have been in Australia, and if that is the position then surely it is quite unnecessary to impose the three months’ service qualification. There seems to be no reason, and certainly the Minister gave none, why in those few rare cases these people should not have the opportunity of applying for naturalisation immediately they are called up. After all, they will not be exactly new to Australia; the call-up will not take place until the persons concerned have been here at least two years, and sometimes much longer, and they will also have reached the age of twenty-one years.
There is another angle to consider. If we accept as being correct what the previous Minister said regarding the time required by the average migrant to gain a sufficient knowledge of the English language and an adequate knowledge of the responsibility of Australian citizenship - and always assuming that a similar knowledge will be required before an alien is called up for service - it will mean that those who are called up will be without doubt well above average, and in fact those who have been here only two or three years will be in the really top bracket. Therefore it will be only the very well educated, those who had a very good education before arriving here, who will find themselves in the Army and eligible to take advantage of the reduced residential qualifications.
If this Bill is a genuine effort in the interests of migrants, there can be no valid reason for denying those people the right to apply for citizenship immediately they are called up. If we cannot have a general application of the reduced residential qualification, we then come to what I consider the really important question in relation to the present proposals and the people they affect. When should these people called up, in accordance with or against their wishes, to perform a duty for this country and for the people of Australia become residentially qualified to apply for Australian citizenship? Surely it would be no more than reasonable or fair to lay it down that at the very latest they should become so entitled immediately they are called up.
By giving these people the opportunity of applying for citizenship immediately upon being called up to serve Australia we are only removing this senseless three months proviso. There will be no compulsion on them to apply; it will still be quite voluntary, and they will still be obliged, as they would be under the Government’s proposals, to satisfy those other conditions of the Act. They will still be obliged to have an adequate knowledge of the language; they will still be obliged to understand the responsibilities of citizenship; and they will still have to be of good character. If they cannot satisfy those conditions at call-up, they will not qualify. The same position applies after three months in the service or twelve months or two years, so how can anyone offer any serious objection to our amendment?
If the Government is not prepared to accept our proposal, we can only come to the conclusion that the remarks of the former Minister last year were and still are the views of the Government, that the Government does not believe that any migrant should be granted citizenship under five years’ residence and, further, that the proposals the Government has submitted to amend the Nationality and Citizenship Act are not in the interests of the migrants but simply are designed to avoid any criticism of the Government which could flow from the call-up of aliens and the resultant deaths in Vietnam or elsewhere.
Mr IAN ALLAN (Gwydir.) [4.59J- The Opposition this afternoon has done itself no credit whatsoever. It has wasted the time of this House by its frivolous proposition, a proposition that would not be accepted in any meeting place apart from this Parliament because in its terms it constitutes a direct negation of the Government’s Bill. Further, the Opposition has shown by the division between its various speakers that it is not sincere in moving this amendment. Furthermore, the actual wording of the amendment shows the marks of haste and carelessness, for it refers to a member of the permanent forces when quite obviously it means ‘a national serviceman’.
This is an absurd resolution, and it deserves to be thrown out. It makes no sense to have the qualifying period for naturalisation reduced by three months. The enlistment in the Army and naturalisation are two separate acts, and an interval of three months between those two acts is a reasonable period of time because it allows for errors and for adjustments which are necessary in Government departments, especially in relation to our defence forces. I believe this amendment by the Opposition is unnecessary and useless and I am sorry that the Opposition has treated such an important subject so lightly and so frivolously this afternoon. I regret that some Opposition speakers have expressed the view that migrants should not be called upon to share an equal burden in this country of their adoption with Australians who were born in this country. Apparently, Opposition speakers are quite content that migrants should share the privileges of this country, enjoy what they find here and make a profitable, safe and secure life for themselves in Australia, but they do not want them to share the duties that have to be borne by natural-born Australians. That proposition ought to be rejected out of hand by any sensible Australian.
I believe that the enlistment into our armed forces of men who were born in other lands will strengthen the Services, lt will be a source of strength to the men already in the Services to have the assistance of people from overseas, as happens in normal civilian life when people with different ideas and different lines of approach come amongst us. It will actually strengthen our defence effort to have people from European countries in our defence Services. Therefore, I welcome this legislation.
I am very conscious of the fact that, because of our discriminatory migrant provisions, our defence forces will not contain the proportion of Asian born migrants which I believe they should contain in order to rid Australia of the charge - fairly levelled against it now - of being an intensely racially conscious country. It is very appropriate, I believe, that these words should be uttered at this particular time when our Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and our Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) are visiting our Asian neighbours to strengthen our relationships with them. If we could point to a strata of Asian born people in Australia and in our defence forces, then in regard to foreign affairs and defence generally our hand would be strengthened tremendously. This would be reflected in our economic welfare also.
Let us make no mistake about the fact that we are operating a highly discriminatory form of migration control in Australia. I have here the latest statistics from the Department of Immigration, which reached me today. In that Department’s ‘Quarterly Statistical Summary’ I find that between 1959 and 1966 no persons born in Japan were admitted to this country as settlers. It must be remembered that Japan, which is now our second best customer, will probably be our best customer this year, that that country is rising fast, and that its standard of living is as high as that in Italy. The table showing the country of last residence of settler arrivals reveals that no people, whether Japanese or otherwise, were admitted from Japan during that same period. This control of migration obviously discriminates quite severely against that particular Asian country. Yet the Japanese who migrated to the United States of America proved themselves over the years to be extremely good settlers and soldiers.
It may come as a surprise to those who fought so hard against the Japanese in the last war that the Japanese Nisei - the second generation Japanese - who enlisted in the American forces served magnificently in Italy and won as many decorations there in a unit as did any other unit in the American forces. In Hawaii 80% of the casualties were Japanese servicemen. That is a very creditable record for one racial group in the United States. Possibly the Japanese constitute a small fraction of the Asian population of the United States, but they have been eminently successful in mixing and blending with the American community. I believe they would do so equally well in this country.
Let me speak not only of our discrimination against the Japanese. Our migration legislation discriminates also against Chinese, as I discovered a couple of years ago. In a letter from the then Minister for Immigration (Mr Downer) in relation to a Mr Lum, from America, I found this sentence:
Although the Lum family are third generation Americans, the established policy requires that they be regarded as ineligible for admission for permanent residence.
This is despite the fact that the ConsulGeneral in San Francisco had said that the family was very much part of the American community, and would be completely acceptable in any normal Western environment. This form of discrimination is carried to absurd lengths in Australia and is highly dangerous to those who live in this sector of the world. It is time that we modified our attitude, as Canada has modified hers in recent years. If we did. our defence effort would be strengthened tremendously and our economy and our foreign relations would be removed from their present delicate and perilous state into a position of strength. Canada has established a migration office in Tokyo.
-I point out to the honourable member for Gwydir, as I pointed out earlier to the honourable member for Lang, that the Bill now before the House is limited to national service and immigrants who are called up for national service, and the shortening of the period in which they may apply for citizenship. It is not open to a general debate on either national service or the immigration policy of the Government as such.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I deplore the fact that the Bill is so limited. I would welcome a larger amendment to our immigration legislation.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to address only a few remarks to this Bill, which has been fairly well canvassed by members of both sides. I hope you will allow me to make passing reference to some of the comments for which you called the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan) to order a few moments ago. The honourable member criticised the Opposition for being right off the beam on this matter, and for treating it frivolously and in a manner which he thought did not do justice to the legislation.
From my observation and from listening to this debate, I say that those on this side of the Parliament are much better informed on the substance of the Bill and the terms of the legislation than the Government members are, and that they have shown a knowledge that is a credit to their research on this all important topic. The honourable member for Gwydir said that our amendment was even out of order. The amendment seeks to have the Bill withdrawn and redrafted to provide that a person who becomes a member of the permanent forces of the Commonwealth shall be immediately eligible for Australian citizenship. The honourable member said that that should apply to national service trainees. Let me say this to the honourable member: The provision relating to service in the military forces now applies to all those who are enlisted, be they national service trainees or otherwise, as they are serving with members of the permanent forces. Under this legislation volunteers in the permanent forces will have the same rights as those who are conscripted. Consequently, the use of the words ‘permanent forces’ is correct in every way. I suggest that he should read more carefully that part of the legislation before he criticises it.
Then he went on to say - and I deal with this just in passing because it is not covered in the terms of the Bill - that this was a racial Bill and showed discrimination against people of Asian birth. He suggested that if we allowed such people to enter Australia in great numbers this would give us a better image in Asia or in other countries, particularly in the field of trade. I do not think the honorable member has studied his statistics very carefully. In round figures there are at present permanently residing in Australia between 15,000 and 20,000 persons of Asian birth. The universities have large numbers of students of Asian birth. The number of visitors in this country of Asian birth, with permission to remain almost indefinitely, would be worth adding up. I believe that no other country is more tolerant of people of another colour than Australia is.
I have no criticism to offer of the policy on immigration that has been followed since federation, and I hope that it will not be changed as the honourable member suggests, to give us an open door policy with all the tragedies and bitterness that would result from it. I little dreamed that I would ever sit in this Parliament and hear a Country Party member advocating mass Japanese migration to Australia and criticising the Australian immigration policy and its administration simply because of some suggested trade benefits that a policy change might bring to this country.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The honorable member has alleged that I said we should have an open door policy on Asian migration to Australia and that we should allow a flood of Asian immigrants. This is very far removed from the truth. I said nothing of the kind.
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! There is no basis for the point of order.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. In any case I intend to conclude my comments on this subject in a few words. I say to the honourable member that before he seeks to bring to this country the problems of Asia he might study the situation of various racial groups in Malaysia and in the Philippines and in other countries, and the discrimination that is shown against Chinese and people of other countries. I think the policy adopted by the Australian Labor Party on immigration is the one most acceptable throughout the world, provided it is administered tolerantly. I am sorry to see a member of the Country Party criticising our established policy, and I hope that his advocacy of Japanese migration to this country will not be accepted. Certainly it will not be accepted by the people on this side of the Parliament.
I do not intend to deal in any great detail with this Bill, but I do want to mention a few matters relevant to it. The Bill has only four clauses. Its purpose is to amend sections 5, 12 and 15 of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-66. In the words of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Sneddon) the Bill ‘will give effect to the announced reduction of the residential qualification, for citizenship, of non-British subjects who are permanent residents and are called up for national service’. Without going into all the provisions of the Bill, which have been well canvassed, the Bill in effect provides that no non-British service man will have to go overseas without first having had the opportunity of becoming an Australian citizen. To the motion that the Bill be read a second time the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has moved an amendment which, of course, the Opposition supports and will vote for. If the amendment is rejected by the Parliament we will then support the second reading of the Bill.
This legislation arises from the Government’s decision to apply compulsory military service to aliens as well as to Australian citizens under its conscription proposals. In fact it provides that special concessions will be made to those in the call-up. This legislation has provided a number of complications for the Government. Certain foreign governments have objected for a number of reasons. Some object to their nationals serving under another country and others object because their nationals never lose their citizenship and are eligible for military service in their homeland when they return to it. In fact the Governments of some countries have offered to pay the fares from Australia to those countries of their nationals called up under these proposals.
At the present time there are about 220,000 unnaturalised or alien citizens in Australia, eligible for citizenship and over the age of sixteen years. In other words, they have been here for some time. The Government has not given any indication of how many citizens will be involved in these proposals. Some say it will be only a few hundred, others estimate it at a few thousand. As the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) has said, the legislation will certainly not affect a great number. It does appear, however, in view of the objections from other countries with which we have immigration agreements, and because of the fact that possibly only a few hundred will be affected, that so far as this Government is concerned this is more a political than a defence measure.
Some countries do not accept naturalisation in Australia as denying their nationals the right to citizenship in those countries by birth. In this regard it is interesting to study a speech made by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) on 24th
April 1966 during a debate on the Nationality and Citizenship Bill, and reported in Hansard’ at page 1061. The honourable member said:
On 26th May 1965 I asked the Acting Minister for Immigration the following question, on notice -
What countries do not recognise the declaration of renunciation of allegiance signed by a person applying for Australian citizenship? The answer revealed that the countries that did not recognise renunciation included Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Roumania, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, Greece and Denmark. The answer also contained this statement -
Nationals of these countries cannot relinquish their nationality without first making a formal request and receiving express permission from the authorities of the countries concerned.
The figures show that, of the 32,601 persons who were naturalised in the year ended 30th June 1965, 12,440 came from countries that do not recognise the oath of renunciation. In other words, for 38% of the people who were naturalised in Australia, the oath of renunciation does not mean anything. If they return to the country of their birth, they will find that they still remain citizens of that country.
And, of course, they will find that they still have obligations in that country. I pointed out some time ago at a Citizenship Convention the problems that the Government would face as a result of defence legislation and the effect that the legislation might have on naturalisation. I do not intend to go over what I said then, as it has already been referred to by the honourable member for Lang. It is interesting to note that even after the discussion at the conference on this matter the Citizenship Convention, whilst broadly and in principle agreeing to some extent to what the Government had done, stipulated that there should be some set policy on residence before liability for service in the armed forces. A migrant’ must wait five years before becoming eligible for citizenship except in certain cases covered by the legislation. Yet he is eligible to be called up for military service after two years. If, as the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) has said, it is good enough for a person to wait five years for all the benefits that naturalisation confers, why should he be called up for national service before the expiration of that period? He still has, even under this legislation, three years in which to make up his mind whether or not to become an Australian citizen. Yet the Government puts a gun at his head and says:’You are in. Take it or leave it.’ And this despite the fact that if he wanted to become naturalised after two years residence he could do so only in exceptional and extreme circumstances, if it were possible for him to do so at all - and I very much doubt whether it would be.
It is difficult for me to find any justification for the Government’s stipulating liability for national service after two years while the great majority of migrants have to wait five years for naturalisation. The Government has given no reason for this. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie quoted the words of Sir Keith Wilson, a former member of this Parliament, in the debate on the Nationality and Citizenship Bill in April 1966. The former honourable member for Sturt said:
We accept persons for permanent residence in Australia. We vet them before they come here. We satisfy ourselves that they are the type of people who are likely to be successfully integrated into this community and become good Australian citizens. Having done that, why should we deny them Australian citizenship for a period of five years? I believe ‘that this is quite unnecessary. I consider that twelve months, or two years at the most, is adequate to enable us to satisfy ourselves that migrants whom we have already vetted and accepted before we issue them with visas are of the type that we are prepared to admit to Australian citizenship.
The period of five years has evidently been plucked out of the air. If the qualifying period for citizenship can be reduced to three months in the case of persons who enter the armed forces why can it not be reduced to nothing in the case of persons conscripted to give their lives for this country? In his speech on 20th April last year Sir Keith Wilson said:
I believe that all persons who enlist in or are accepted by our armed forces, whether they be the regular forces, the Citizen Military Forces or the national service scheme - all personswhom we accept to fight for us - should be entitled to be Australian citizens. I know that the legislation provides that every year of service in the armed forces shall count as two years for the purpose of residential qualifications. Good though that provision is, it is not good enough. If we accept a person in our armed forces we should accept him for citizenship.
That is precisely what the Opposition seeks by its amendment. Sir Keith Wilson continued:
I would like the Minister to place that matter also before the Government
Apparently Sir Keith Wilson was in agreement with the proposal which we now submit as an amendment to the Bill. This brings me to the point that there is grave doubt as to whether a period of five years is reasonable. How was the period arrived at? I have yet to hear a reasonable argument that an alien who is called up for military service must wait three months before being eligible for Australian citizenship. The Government has not advanced any reasonable argument why such a waiting period is necessary. 1 do not intend to quote further from the debate that took place on the Nationality and Citizenship Bill on 20th April 1966. I am sure that all honourable members will agree that it was a high class debate. I have quoted from speeches in that debate not for party political purposes but simply to point to the justice of our proposal - a justice which was recognised in that debate by some prominent members of the Government parties. It is unfair to say to any man: ‘We want you to fight for this country. You will be called up. You may go to Vietnam. Soon you may give your life for this country, but we will not accept you as a citizen until you have served in the forces for ninety days or until you are discharged for some reason.’ What is ninety days? It is hardly worth worrying about. If the Government is prepared to reduce the qualifying period in this case from five years to ninety days, why worry about any qualifying period at all? This is no way to approach the problem. The Government’s attitude in this matter does not indicate any great tolerance on its part. Surely if a man is good enough to be conscripted to fight for this country he is good enough to be accepted forthwith as a citizen. If not the discrimination to which one of my colleagues referred a few moments ago is exemplified in the most brutal way - you may die for this country but we will not have you as a citizen until you have been in the forces for ninety days. Our amendment seeks to end this state of affairs.
The present situation probably seems satisfactory to Government supporters but I suggest to those who were not here last year that they study the debate that took place on 20th April 1966. They will see that there is considerable merit in the proposal that the qualifying period for naturalisation generally should be reduced and that it should be abandoned in the case of a person who is called up or volunteers for military service. I do not know how the period of five years was determined. If five years is a reasonable period, why is not ten years reasonable? If the period can be reduced to ninety days in the case of a person called up for military service, why not reduce it still further and make citizenship available as from the day he is called up or volunteers? If you ask people to wait five years before they may be naturalised, common justice demands that you should not call upon them to fight for this country until the qualifying period for citizenship has expired. The Government cannot justify fixing a qualifying period of five years and then after two years conscripting an immigrant for national service and saying that after three months in the armed forces he will be accepted as a citizen. There is no logic in the Government’s arguments. Our great immigration programme has enjoyed almost bipartisan support. I suggest that the Minister should accept the Opposition’s amendment, which is designed not to make political capital but to give to those people who become subject to legislation to which the Labor Party is bitterly opposed the right to become citizens immediately they are called upon to fulfil the grim obligations set down by that legislation.
As one who has had a lot to do with immigration legislation in recent times and has taken a close interest in it, I hope that this Bill, which embodies proposals that are extremely regrettable - I refer to the conscription of Australians and aliens for service abroad - will not be further disfigured by quibbling over a mere ninety days. After all is said and done, to grant immediate citizenship to an immigrant who is called up would be a gesture to which he is entitled and would remove the suggestion that he is good enough to fight and die for Australia but is not good enough to be an Australian citizen. I join with other Opposition speakers in urging the Minister to accept our amendment. It is designed not for party political purposes but to see that we do justice to these people. It throws into the arena a matter on which there is a great deal of disagreement, namely a suitable qualifying period for naturalisation. I hope that the Government will heed our arguments which, contrary to what the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan) said, have been fairly, impartially and intelligently presented. Bad as the legislation is, our amendment should be accepted in justice to the people who come within its scope.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) alleged that I had advocated opening the flood gates to Asian immigration. 1 was careful to avoid suggesting any such thing. I drew a parallel between our system of migration controls and those applied in Canada, where some 200 Asians are admitted each year. If one considers 200 against the background of the 3,000 million people who live in Asia, admitting 200 can scarcely constitute an opening of the flood gates. The honourable member’s claim was typical of the exaggeration in which he indulges.
Debate (on motion by Mr Cleaver) adjourned.
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariffs 1966. The tariff changes, which will operate from tomorrow morning, are consequent on a report by the Special Advisory Authority on soda ash. The Special Advisory Authority found that unless some support value was determined, supplies of soda ash could be obtained in the near future at prices and at freight rates which would be disruptive to the Australian industry. He considered that a temporary duty based on an appropriate support value should be determined for bulk shipments of soda ash. Accordingly the Authority recommended temporary duties of 90% of the amount by which the landed duty paid price of the goods is less than $60 per ton. The temporary duty does not apply to soda ash in direct transit to Australia on 24th February 1967 provided it is entered for home consumption within twenty-one days after importation.
The temporary protection now applied is holding action pending the Government’s decision on receipt of the report by the Tariff Board on the matter. A summary of the tariff alterations covered by the Proposals is now being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Daly) adjourned.
Report on Items
– Pursuant to Statute 1 present a Special Advisory Authority report on -
I also present the following report by the Tariff Board which does not call for any legislative action -
Men’s dressing gowns of terry towelling or manmade fibres (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
Ordered to be printed.
Mr CLEAVER (Swan) [5.31 1 - I am pleased that the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) in his quite helpful and thoughtful speech a few moments ago referred to the debate last year on the occasion when last we amended the Nationality and Citizenship Act. i agree with him readily that on that occasion we were on a basis of uniformity, with no really divergent views unless they were on items of relatively minor detail. It was a splendid debate, and so impressed was the Minister at that time that copies of the debate on that particular subject were made available to all members who desired them. We were pleased to show by distribution of the copies that there are occasions in this Parliament when both Government and Opposition sides are not far apart.
But the honourable member takes us a little too far today when, in advocating the acceptance of the amendment moved by the Opposition, he says that we ought to be consistent and that the Minister and the Government should be prepared to accept the amendment. There is a flaw in the thinking and intention of the Opposition. Very fairly we can say today that we must reject the amendment because of that flaw. It is as simple as this: If we grant the right of naturalisation immediately a man is enlisted, we have no trial term at all. There is provision already in the draft legislation for the man who, having been enlisted, unfortunately is medically unfit and is discharged. Let us take the case of a man who puts on the uniform one day. If this amendment is approved, he is entitled to naturalisation immediately. But what if he proves within the first ninety days to be an undesirable soldier? What if there are defects in his character that the first ninety days reveal? One can say there is merit in having at least a short term of service in uniform before this right is bestowed. But no, the members of the Opposition, in their sincerity - I grant that to them - say that this right should be given to him immediately. So on this one ground alone I think the Government and the Minister would be quite right in saying that the amendment is not acceptable.
I do not think I can commence my speech better than by drawing the attention of the House to the words used by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) when he concluded what has been criticised as a relatively short second reading speech. He laid emphasis on the fact that this legislation is designed to ensure that no non-British serviceman would have to go overseas without first having had the opportunity to become an Australian citizen. That is a deliberate intention which was in the mind of the Government, as I shall reveal later in my speech, when the then Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr McMahon, made his announcement in August last year. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) spoke earlier today, he deplored the Government’s change of attitude. In his speech, which, again, was quite genuine and well presented, he failed to see that the passage of time in political affairs in particular and the changed circumstances that come about, cause changes in policies. If, on both sides of the House, we are not flexible enough in our thinking to recognise that the policy of one year and the things which a Leader of the Opposition or a Prime Minister may have said so many years ago must now be set aside due to changed circumstances, then I am afraid that in this life we shall have to face many disappointments.
The whole emphasis in the Bill before us is that the person from overseas who chooses to make this country his home should be prepared to accept equal responsibility with his fellows. We may have grown to see this. Both sides of the House, in the interesting history of post-war immigration, have been fairly bi-partisan. We have come to agreement on almost the whole of the programme. It is only general matters of detail that have caused disagreement in debate. Here, surely, we can see that the passage of time has shown that the non-Britisher who deliberately comes here to make this country his home should accept the same responsibilities and not expect to be exempted from those responsibilities or to allow them to be carried by others who are British. I want to stress the fact that in August last year the then Minister for Labour and National Service made it quite clear that if the young fellow wants to avoid national service we are not here to compel him to face it. He has an alternative. If he does not want to stay here permanently, he is permitted to withdraw. It is possible for him to avoid national service. There have been those who have gone elsewhere because they have not liked one aspect or another of Australian life. And that is fair enough. Those wishing to leave within the two year term will be permitted to do so. It is apparent from what I have already said that I claim that the amendment moved by the Opposition should not be sustained for the Government’s plan is a deliberate move to give concessions to national servicemen who come from the non-British group.
As I have mentioned, the amendment proposed by the Opposition removes any qualifying period and seeks to give Australian citizenship immediately to any person who joins the permanent forces. When the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) spoke I listened to him carefully and I made a quick note because I thought I was in strong disagreement with my friend from the other side. I wondered whether I had heard correctly when I understood him, towards the end of his speech, to say: ‘We believe that national servicemen should be naturalised immediately’. I did hear him correctly, for that is what he said and that is what he meant. But at first I did not believe it because it takes some time to reconcile what the honourable member for Lang meant with what his Deputy Leader said. There was a divergence of opinion, or a different use of words with the same intention. This is where I feel sure that my colleague the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan) felt that the wording of the amendment proposed by the Opposition was incorrect.
I point out that having regard to the definition of the words ‘permanent forces’ I am now satisfied that the amendment is drawn to express the mind of the Opposition, and we find no fault with the wording of the amendment except that we do not like it. As we now see the position, the intention of the amendment submitted by the Opposition is to extend the Government’s own decision to the extreme and to grant the right of citizenship immediately instead of after a short qualifying term to all who join the permanent forces. I point out that this Bill puts into operation the various points enunciated in the ministerial statement of 10th August 1966. I suggest that the ministerial announcement covered certain features. It indicated that the national service scheme would be extended to non-British subjects making their home in Australia. The Opposition would put these non-British subjects on the same basis as British subjects choosing to live here. In other words these points immediately indicate the Government’s trend of thinking in seeking uniformity for British and nonBritish people. British subjects, as the statement said, would be required to register in the half year in which they turned twenty years of age. Again that is the same provision as for British subjects. Furthermore, responsibilities and privileges as national servicemen will then be parallel with those of other national servicemen. Surely this is highly desirable.
The then Minister for Labour and National Service went on to make the point that no migrant would be called up until he had been in Australia for at least two years. The call-up of non-British migrants would be deferred, he stated, until the age of twenty-one. In other words, these nonBritish lads would be adults and would be able to decide just what their wishes were regarding the future. They would be able to decide whether they wished to remain in Australia. It was pointed out, as I have enunciated today in my speech, that they would be free to apply for return to their own country or to apply for naturalisation the same as any other twenty-one year old.
The Minister, in his statement of August last year, went on to say that a special concession would be extended to these nonBritish men: Three months service in the Army, or even less should there be genuine reasons for discharge, such as medical grounds, would constitute suitable residential qualification for the purpose of naturalisation. So, with naturalisation completed, the non-British subject would then posses the same rights and privileges as the British subject under the Australian electoral law. All this should be re-stated to indicate clearly the Government’s intention at that time. Here in this Bill we have the implementation of this plan. The principle behind the Government’s decision of August last year was to bring uniformity in respect to national service to all those from overseas who desire to make their home amongst us. It is highly desirable that newcomers should feel that in the truest sense of the term they are full members of the Australian community. If we are to ask them to share in the obligation to serve then surely this carries with it the responsibility of extending to them the advantages and privileges enjoyed by others. This is the basic intention of the legislation before us.
It is interesting to note that of the old Commonwealth countries only Australia and New Zealand have national service schemes. In New Zealand British subjects only are required to register for national service. Here is an instance where we are at disagreement with our friends opposite. We feel, as I have said, that the young man who is non-British should be brought into the scheme. In the United States of America aliens may be called up for service. I believe that this Bill demonstrates a genuine approach to equality. In general the nationality laws of the USA require that a petitioner for naturalisation must have resided continuously in that country for at least five years and in the State where he is then residing for at least six months before filing the petition. Also, he must reside in the United States continuously from the date of his application to the very date of his admission to citizenship. We have gone a great deal further than our friends in the USA; the principle of reduced residential qualification applies to aliens serving in the American forces but not as generously as is proposed by the Bill before us now. An alien in the American forces may be admitted to citizenship after three years service without complying with all other provisions regarding residence in the USA and in the States concerned. This Bill provides for a three months term only to avoid an imbalance of principle between the national servicemen and the volunteer in the permanent forces. This Bill provides an amendment which will grant the alien volunteer the acquisition of Australian citizenship after not more than three months service. It will be seen therefore that volunteers in the permanent forces will be treated similarly to national servicemen.
So, Mr Speaker, very quietly and genuinely 1 have tried to cover the ground affected by this Bill. I have listened intently to honourable members opposite and 1 suggest again that in this Bill we are not strongly divergent. The Opposition has moved an amendment merely to try to force the Government to drop the three months qualifying period. Opposition members would like to see the Government’s concession carried to the extreme. On this point we cannot agree. It has been an interesting debate so far and no doubt other members will contribute to it. The proposals before us are vital. The measure embraces principles canvassed in the nationality debate which we found so enjoyable last year. On this occasion I am pleased to contribute my views and to suggest strongly that there are no good grounds for. the Opposition’s amendment. I believe that the amendment carries with it a lot of danger and I am sure that it will be rejected.
Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.
– by leave - The ‘Medical Journal of Australia’, which is the journal of the Australian Medical Association, has recently carried a series of articles dealing with Medicine in South Vietnam Today’, contributed by Dr Alister Brass, who is assistant editor of the journal. In the edition of 25th March, Dr Brass’ fifth article criticised the facilities and conduct of the aeromedical evacuation of wounded servicemen from Vietnam. Portions of his criticisms were publicly reported by the Australian Press.
The matters dealt with are of considerable importance, not only to the wounded servicemen being repatriated and to the people of Australia generally, but particularly to the armed Services and their medical advisers who are responsible for the care of men wounded in battle. For that reason it seems important to put the record straight. The series of articles by Dr Brass in the medical journal are generally informative and very readable. 1 except that section dealing with aero-medical evacuation in which the writer became more dramatic than accurate.
A reader of the journal, or of Press reports of the article, would gain the impression that Dr Brass had actually flown on a CI 30 aircraft engaged on an aero-medical evacuation flight. In view of the general competence of Dr Brass’ articles, I had this matter checked and found that his description of a CI 30 aircraft was based on his personal experience in an American CI 30 but that he had not in fact travelled in an Australian C130 during an aeromedical flight, or on the presently used and considerably improved C130E.
Dr Brass stated that no portable oxygen supplies or suction apparatus were present in the aircraft and that toilet facilities were inadequate. This is certainly not correct and when I discussed the matter personally with Dr Brass, he was good enough to express his regret that an error of this kind should have found its way into his article as a result of his having accepted, in good faith, information from a third party. In fact, a wide range of medical equipment necessary for the flight, including oxygen and suction apparatus, is carried on medical evacuation flights. Refreshment service is also provided. The toilet facilities provided are certainly not luxurious but are not required for use by bed patients for whom the customary provisions are made.
Dr Brass also agreed that certain of his criticisms might have been omitted or softened had he been better informed of the background. For instance, he emphasised the duration of the flight, both because of the circuitous route taken and the use of the CI 30. The route chosen for the return flight was dictated by circumstances over which the Services had no control. Dr Brass, of course, would not have been aware of this fact. An alternative route was considered but was ruled out because of inadequate medical facilities at intermediate points. In the light of advocacy of the use of Boeing 707 aircraft for this service, it should be pointed out that Boeing 707s cannot operate out of Vung Tau. It would therefore be necessary to lift medical patients from Vung Tau by Caribou or Hercules aircraft and trans-ship them at Saigon.
There is difficulty of access for stretcher patients in converted Boeing 707 passenger aircraft. Further, the conversion from civilian to medical service is not an easy task. So, in practice it would have been necessary to secure Boeing 707 aircraft which would then be infrequently used. This would lead to undue multiplication of cost and service difficulties, to say nothing of a serious diminution in the flexibility of the service. It should be understood that the Boeing 707 operates normally at high altitude with cabin pressures equivalent to 6,000 or 7,000 feet. On the other hand, the C130E operates efficiently at a much lower altitude with the cabin pressurised to 2,000 feet. My advice is that there can be considerable risk to certain types of patients in the former instance. The views expressed by Dr Brass are not to be preferred to the expert advice which is available collectively to the Government through the Defence Medical Services Committee.
The techniques of aero-medical evacuation are quite specialised. In a four day aeromedical conference held in Sydney last
December, a whole day was devoted to this subject. The responsibility for aero-medical evacuation of Australian casualties rests with the Director-General of Medical Services of the Royal Australian Air Force. The RAAF has had a progressive development of experience in aero-medical evacuation since quite early in World War II. At the conclusion of that war, RAAF medical teams accompanied the air movement of prisoners of war from prison camps to Australia. During the Korean campaign the RAAF evacuated approximately 5?14;000 British Commonwealth casualties from Korea to Japan. Several hundred Australian casualties were aeromedically evacuated from Japan to Australia. In the Vietnam war the RAAF has access to and is familiar with United States experience in aero-medical evacuation. Returning patients enjoy the care of a team of devoted, experienced and skilled RAAF nursing sisters, some of whom have had the opportunity to fly with the United States aero-medical service and have gained additional experience in that way.
However, 1 do agree with Dr Brass when he says that the CI 30 is a noisy aircraft. The matter has been one of constant concern to my colleague, the Minister for Air (Mr Howson), who has been actively seeking a solution. Only in the last few days has he been advised of a proposal to develop a prefabricated medical evacuation unit which can be fitted to or removed from the Hercules at short notice and which provides all necessary facilities, including a satisfactory degree of noise reduction. If final investigation proves this unit to be satisfactory it will be employed. If not, alternative means will be sought to improve the service of the C130E, which is still accepted by competent and responsible medical service opinion as the most suitable aircraft reasonably available for aero-medical evacuation.
I note with interest the opinion of at least one patient which was published in the Melbourne ‘Herald* of 25th March. This man described his trip home as ‘rather comfortable’. He offered the opinion that the light was good enough to read, that there was constant attention by the RAAF nursing sisters, that the plane in fact had some lining, and that the troops had used hospital type toilet facilities. These facts underline the refutation of criticism offered by my colleague the Minister for Air, who pointed out that the consensus of Service medical opinion in the nations concerned with evacuating wounded from Vietnam favoured the use of Hercules transports.
On the recent flight from South Bast Asia to Richmond, when 51 persons, of whom 48 were litter patients, were carried the medical crew was in charge of a Royal Air Force medical officer, currently on loan to the RAAF, who is highly experienced in aero-medical evacuation and was at one time the officer in charge of the Royal Air Force Aero-medical Evacuation School at Lyneham in England. In his report he stated:
AH the patients without exception were handed over in as good a condition or better than that in which they were received and this fact speaks very highly for the level of in-flight nursing they received.’
I am satisfied as a result of my inquiries that Australian casualties are returned to Australia in an aero-medical evacuation service which is characterised by the exercise of every care and attention on the part of those who are charged with the responsibility. When and where possible the facilities available will continue to be improved.
I present the following paper:
Medical Evacuation from Vietnam - Ministerial Statement - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill before the House includes two sets of amendments to the Social Services Act that are of major significance. In addition there are a number of items of lesser importance. The first major item will bring into effect the means test proposal on pensions announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) on 8th November last year. The second major item will provide the legislative measures to fulfil the Government’s election promise to pay a special allowance to qualified disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops. Honourable members will recall that in his policy speech the Prime Minister stated that the limits both of property and income within which pensions are payable to the aged, invalid and widows would be raised by $156. The liberalisation of the means test represents a continuation of the Government’s policy of progessively extending the range of eligibility.
Under the existing means test there are some 640,000 age pensioners in Australia constituting 53% of all men and women in Australia qualified by age and residence for age pension. This is to be compared with a figure of 39% of similar persons in 1949. The means test extension will enable many persons now excluded whether by property or income to receive some entitlement. In addition, persons’ now receiving less than a full pension will also benefit. The proposal as provided for in this Bill is to raise by $156 the amount of means as assessed which will permit the payment of a full pension.
Expressed in terms of income this means that a single person whose property is less than $420 in value may have income of up to $10 a week and still receive the maximum standard rate pension of $13 a week; some pension will be payable until his income reaches $23 a week. A married couple whose property is less than $840 in value may have a combined income of up to $17 a week and still receive maximum rate pensions; some pension will be paid to each until their combined weekly income reaches $40.50. Put the other way, where his means consists entirely of property a single person may have assets to the value of $5,600 and receive a pension at the maximum rate, some pension will be payable until his property reaches $12,360 in value. For a married pensioner couple the comparable figures are $9,640 and $21,880 and for a married couple one only of whom is a pensioner $9,640 and $23,160. Moreover, income from property is not taken into account in calculating the rate of pension payable.
In assessing property for pension purposes the value of a pensioner’s home, furniture and personal effects is disregarded entirely. Certain other types of property are also disregarded, such as revisionary interests in estates and the surrender value of life insurance policies up to the value of $1,500 for each person. There are various combinations of income and property in between the figures I have quoted which will permit the payment of a full or part pension. However every pensioner whose pension under the present law is reduced because of the means test will, under this Bill, receive an increase of up to $156 a year. The Repatriation Act provides that the rate of service pension payable under that Act shall be the same as the rate of age or invalid pension that would be payable under the Social Services Act. Service pensioners will therefore receive the benefit of the liberalisation of the means test that I have just outlined.
There are several other measures, unrelated to the means test extension, which the Government has considered appropriate to include in this Bill. They are, firstly, to allow a period of three months for the lodgment of a claim for widow’s pension by a woman whose husband is admitted to a mental hospital. Secondly, to provide free of cost, certain items necessary for the rehabilitation of handicapped persons and in cases where a charge is made to a person not eligible for free rehabilitation provision whereby the charge may be abated according to the person’s ability to pay. Thirdly, to amend the definition section of the principal Act so that payments made by, or through, a friendly society or trade union by way of superannuation benefits payable on retirement may, without doubt, be included as income for pension purposes.
Mr Deputy Speaker, each of these measures I would now submit for consideration in detail. In the case of a woman whose husband has died the widows pension commences from the date of the husband’s death provided a claim is lodged within three months after that date. No such period for lodgment is allowed in the case of a wife whose husband is admitted to a mental hospital; the pension commences from the date of lodgment of the claim. The admission of the husband to a mental hospital may well come without much warning and in such a way that the wife may take some time to adjust to the change in her domestic circumstances. The completion and lodgment of a claim for widows pension is something which she could not reasonably be expected to attend to immediately. The period of three months for the lodgment of a claim proposed in this Bill will make the position uniform with the time allowed for an application lodged subsequent to a husband’s death.
Most honourable members will know something of the Commonwealth rehabilitation service and the opportunities it offers to the physically handicapped in our community. Certain surgical aids and appliances may now be provided to rehabilitees to assist them to engage in a suitable vocation but there are other necessary aids, some of which have been developed in recent years, which cannot now be provided. It is proposed in this Bill to widen the present provision to permit these aids to be supplied. Generally speaking rehabilitation is provided as a free service to those persons receiving a pension or benefit under the Social Services Act and to young people of fourteen to fifteen years of age who, without treatment or training, would be likely to qualify for an invalid pension when they reach sixteen years of age. Persons not eligible for rehabilitation as a free service may receive treatment and training on payment of the costs involved.
Many people who require rehabilitation treatment, but do not qualify for the service free of charge, are on reduced incomes because of sickness or accident and are unable to pay the full cost at a rehabilitation centre. There is no authority under existing legislation to reduce the charges for such cases and it is now proposed that authority be given to fix charges in accordance with the person’s ability to pay. Opportunity is also being taken to make a machinery amendment to clarify the provisions of the Act which deal with the recovery of rehabilitation costs in cases where compensation or damages is payable.
A further amendment concerns the provision of books, equipment, appliances and tools of trade to persons engaged in treatment or training through the rehabilitation service. At the present time these items may be provided by the Commonwealth to a cost not exceeding $80 in the aggregate. Experience has shown that for training extending beyond one year the amount of $80 has proved inadequate and it is now proposed to extend this by permitting the amount of up to $80 to be expended in each year of training. Moreover, whereas at present the costs of books, equipment, appliances and tools of trade provided in connection with treatment and training are in some circumstances recoverable from the rehabilitee when he commences employment, in future they will be provided to him free of cost.
For pension assessment purposes the income of a person does not include any amount, other than an annuity, received by way of benefit from a friendly society. A somewhat similar situation exists in relation to payments from a trade union. The exemption from income of payments received from friendly societies and trade unions dates from the inception of age and invalid pensions in 1909-1910 and was intended to cover comparatively small sums of sick pay and age benefits to members who had made small regular contributions over a period of years.
The provision that an annuity from a friendly society or trade union should not be exempted as income for pension purposes was introduced in 1959 when certain friendly societies were proposing to enter into the business of selling annuities on an ordinary commercial basis. Another development has now occurred whereby some friendly societies may become associated with a plan providing for the payment of a not inconsiderable weekly amount upon retirement on the grounds of ill health or physical or mental incapacity. In view of the special position enjoyed by friendly societies it may be possible, under the present wording of the law, for the means test to be circumvented insofar as income payments are concerned. The Government has no wish to withdraw these long standing concessions but it nevertheless has a responsibility to the community to ensure that the means test does not offer exceptional treatment in favour of a particular section. The object of the appropriate amendment in this Bill is to maintain the status quo and at the same time not to extend more favourable treatment to schemes financed through friendly societies or trade unions than would be extended to such schemes providing superannuation or other retirement benefits if they were financed through an insurance company or other financial house.
Mr Speaker, 1 shall now deal with the second of the two main amendments in this Bill - that which provides a completely new allowance for disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops. I would remind honourable members that it was this Government, in 1963, which gave recognition to the needs of sheltered workshops by introducing a new form of welfare assistance to enable the Commonwealth to make grants to religious, benevolent and other approved welfare organisations. The purpose of the assistance was to enable these organisations to provide accommodation for disabled persons working in sheltered workshops so that they could reside near their place of employment. To strengthen the incentive to the development of sheltered workshops it has now been decided to introduce a special allowance for employees in sheltered workshops and to provide capital and other assistance towards the expansion and establishment of sheltered workshops. The provision of capital and other assistance will be the subject of a separate Bill.
The special allowance, to be known as a sheltered employment allowance, will be paid’ to qualified disabled persons employed in a sheltered workshop. Any pension or benefit otherwise payable to that person under the Social Services Act will in general bc suspended and the allowance will be paid in lieu of invalid pension or other benefit. To be eligible for the allowance a person must be employed in a sheltered workshop and be qualified to receive an invalid pension or be likely, in the opinion of the Director-General of Social Services, to become qualified to receive an invalid pension if he were not employed in the sheltered workshop. This latter provision will assist the sheltered workshop movement, as well as the disabled employees, by enabling them to provide employment to persons before their disability has reached a stage that would enable them to qualify for an invalid pension.
The allowance will be payable at the rate of the invalid pension, plus allowances, and will be subject to the same means test except for earnings derived from employment in the workshop. In the case of an unmarried person the first $10 a week of workshop earnings plus half the earnings
In excess of that amount will be taken into account as income for means test purposes. For a married person the income from workshop earnings that will be taken Into account will be the first $17 a week plus half the earnings, between S17 and S25 a week, together with earnings above $25 a week. Where there are no other means as assessed the sheltered employment allowance will cease when earnings reach $36 a week in the case of an unmarried person or $47 a week in the case of a married person where the spouse is not in receipt of a pension. It is proposed that blind pensioners employed in sheltered workshops will be eligible for the allowance free of the means test but the additional allowances payable for children after the first and any other allowances will, as at present, be subject to the means test. It is considered desirable that the allowance be paid, as far as practicable, at the same time as employees receive their wages from the sheltered workshop. In order that the mechanics of payment can be worked out with the eligible organisations provision has been made in this Bill for the Director-General to be given the authority to do this.
Before passing I should point out to honourable members that in the Bill the allowance is referred to as a sheltered employment allowance and that the Bill contains no specific mention of a sheltered workshop. As a matter of law this was the most satisfactory approach since the term workshop’ might carry too narrow a connotation and language might be strained if the term ‘workshop’ were applied to some of the enterprises the Government has in mind. For example we would not wish to exclude employment in a rural colony engaged in general farming, or a poultry farm or a plant nursery. However the places where such productive activities are carried on are not generally regarded as workshops. Hence the approach in the Bill has been through the nature of the employment provided and the type of persons who are employed.
Mr Deputy Speaker, this completes an outline of the provisions in the Bill but I would like to give the House some details of the costs involved. The expenditure on social services for 1966-67, other than that resulting from this Bill, is estimated to reach $757.8 million, which is an increase of $63.6 million over the expenditure for the previous >ear. It is estimated that the cost of the proposals in this Bill will approximate $13.5 million in a full year and S2.5 million for the balance of the current year. In accordance with the established practice, it is proposed that the pension increases resulting from the means test extension provided under this Bill will come into operation on the pay days following the Royal Assent while the other amendments, with the exception of the sheltered employment allowance, will operate from the date of the Royal Assent. To enable the necessary administrative machinery to be prepared the new Part VIIA of the Social Services Act relating to the payment of a sheltered employment allowance will come into operalion on a date to be proclaimed. Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Daly) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 866).
.- This Bill, which is rather small in terms of size and consequential in terms of its development of legislation that has already been passed, has been made the subject of an amendment by the Opposition. At first sight the Opposition’s amendment might itself be regarded as small and a kind of token resistance because of the Opposition’s intention later to support the Bill when it is put to the House without amendment. However, in the course of the debate that has ensued, a number of points which I believe deserve closer scrutiny have been revealed. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), in moving the amendment, and other Opposition members who have spoken in the debate, have made statements that have considerable significance, not merely as they relate to the Nationality and Citizenship Act but as they relate to the immigration programme and the defence requirements of the nation.
I believe 1 should call attention once again to the fundamental basis of the Bill. It contains a simple provision that will give effect to the already announced reduction of the residential qualification for citizenship of non-British subjects who are permanent residents or who indicate their intention to be permanent residents of this country and who are called up for national service. I remind the House, as the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has, that at the time of call-up these non-British subjects selected for service will be adult persons. As the Act stands, without the amendment proposed in the Bill that is now before us, they would not be entitled to such concession as a reduced residential qualification for Australian citizenship. As members of the forces they will be liable to service overseas and it is, I believe, fitting and proper that the Government should provide that they shall be eligible for citizenship after three months service regardless of their period of residence in Australia. A small contingent clause provides that they shall straight away qualify for this concession if, in the opinion of the Minister, they have become incapacitated due to service in the armed forces.
Now that on the surface of it, is a simple enough matter and something that the nation as a whole has been expecting. However, during the Deputy Leader’s speech in moving that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that a person who becomes a member of the permanent forces shall immediately become eligible for Australian citizenship, some remarkable things were said. Even more remarkable conclusions were drawn by honourable members opposite. For instance, the Deputy Leader said that this kind of legislation and this decision of the Government to call up aliens is going to have a profound effect on our immigration programme. He went on from that point to draw a conclusion, or attempt to point a moral regarding the undoubted drop that has taken place in British migration applications in London, although this is notoriously volatile and subject to forces that no-one has yet been able to measure or predict.
It has been said by the Opposition that this action on the part of the Government of making certain non-Australian subjects subject to call-up for service in the Australian forces has been the predominant cause of this tremendous drop, as they have put it, in applications from 50,000 in the commensurate period last year to 34.000 in this present period. I am not attempting to deny that there has been a drop in applications by British persons to come to this country at this time. However, if there were a severe winter in Britain or if other factors emerged, almost overnight the picture could change, as it has been known to change, not only dramatically but indeed in phenomenal proportions. I believe it would be very dangerous indeed to attempt to gear the attitude to our defence programme simply to this kind of fluctuation, or to alter it accordingly.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted, supposedly from the London Press, figures to show that we are sacrificing thousands of migrants for a meagre 400 extra servicemen; but, Mr Deputy Speaker, the principle of this was not discussed by the Opposition. The principle which I believe is fundamental to the decision of the Government overrides these other objections that were implicit in the kind of things the Deputy Leader said. The principle is that if young men come from another country to this country of opportunity; if they come here to a country which is free, with a freedom which has been bought very dearly on battlefields in the past; if they are prepared to accept the economic basis, the political stability, the freedom and the rule of law, all these attributes that this country has to offer, and to make these things their own, then I believe they should also make their own the obligations and responsibilities of that citizenship. This is the principle on which the Government is acting.
The Government has not acted lightly. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Government should have considered very carefully before embarking on the call-up of aliens. He was referring to the implied undesirability of an alien serving in the armed forces of this country because of, as he put it, language difficulties. If he imagines that this was not discussed, not only by the Cabinet but also by the Government Parties in long deliberations as to the desirability of this move, he is sadly mistaken. However, these are not the only considerations. There were others indeed who put forward the suggestion that there was an esprit de corps in the Australian Army and a particular attitude of the Australian by birth with regard to service in the forces which perhaps it would be unwise to disturb by the introduction of persons of other nationalities.
The overriding consideration is that this is happening in Australia at this particular moment. Changes are taking place in our national make-up that are giving us a broader spread and a wider spectrum of national content, of nationality and of race. I believe young men of Italian, Greek and other origins will find in the armed services the pre-eminent school to train them and prepare them for full participation in Australian mateship and comradeship, in the best traditions of this nation. The kind of responsibilities they will be given in the armed Services, the training and the attributes they will acquire in their period of national service will prepare them for full participation.
Therefore I believe that in some ways - and I have thought of this with regard to particular instances of young men that I know personally - it is going to be of tremendous benefit to them. There is a tremendous opportunity for introduction, in a way that is unique, into full citizenship and participation in the spirit - the esprit de corps, if you like - of the Australian people. I do not believe for one moment that the Government has acted lightly or that it has acted in an ill-advised way in making this decision. It is certain, of course, that this will have an effect an a minority of persons, but to say that this is the overriding factor with regard to the drop at this moment in applications by people in Great Britain to come here is I believe stretching the matter very far indeed.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on from this point to carry his attack into the general area of the five year residence qualification for aliens before they become eligible for application for citizenship in Australia. His words were ‘Why not reduce it for all other aliens?* implying by his quotation and other words that he thought it should be done by a similar period. He went on to say also that there was no need for a person to be qualified even to speak the English language before they should be naturalised. The supreme sentence to which he gave utterance was: ‘I do not believe there should be any barriers to citizenship in this country.’
Now, Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not know whether the honourable member was serious when he said that. He had a serious face as he spoke. These are dangerous words. Were they spoken with so little regard for their content as to throw open the whole question of the motivation of this amendment? To make the statement that he, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, speaking on behalf of the Opposition, did not believe there should be any barriers to citizenship in the country is, I believe, a highly questionable comment but, of course, he would hasten to remind me that he said that before persons are brought here they are subject to scrutiny and that therefore, in the initial processes of migration there is scrutiny or screening and this is all that should be required by this country.
Now this is strange, because my memory does not have to be very long to go back to 1964, 17th September 1964 when, in this House, we listened to the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). The honourable member on that occasion was talking about Yugoslavs in Australia, and he was attacking the Government, as he did over a period of weeks, and, indeed, months. He said that there were in this country Yugoslavs who were extremist in their activities. He graced them with the names of Ustashi, Fascists and so on, and he was complaining that those very persons in this country, brought here under our immigration programme, were not being suitably restrained. To sum up his attitude, he was saying that the Government was not taking the kind of action that would rid us of this Fascist menace.
The question that immediately emerges from this is what has brought about the change in attitude on the part of the Opposition. At that time it suited Opposition members to be all for a much stricter scrutiny, for a period of probation, if you like, a period in which we would see these people in their true colours and then might take action against them. Could it be that, now that the change has occurred, a different type of person is liable to be introduced into this country under the guise of normal immigration motivation? We know that at present we are bringing more and more people from Yugoslavia - with my full approval, I might say - where screening is very difficult. But indeed the danger now is not so much that the persons coming here are Fascists or Ustashi as that they have been brought up under the regime of that country, under the indoctrination of the Communist process, and to these persons who might come here the Opposition would immediately give, without question, without further scrutiny, and without any period of probation, full citizenship in Australia. I believe that the whole thing has gone in a circle, that there is an entirely different attitude abroad today, and that therefore a question arises as to what is the motivation behind this remarkable suggestion that there should now be no period of scrutiny and, indeed, that there should be no criteria whereby these persons should be admitted to citizenship other than the fact that they are here. I believe this is irresponsible, to put it in its mildest terms. As we look at the kind of implications that have been adduced and the kind of innuendoes that have been slung against our immigration programme, I believe that we should look
We are in a country which is looking for migrants; but we are not the only carefully at the facts of the case. country that is seeking to grow in this way. We must consider the calibre and quality of the migrants that we want to help build this country. There is, if you like, a seller’s market in the world, and we as a buyer country are looking for migrants who will bring to this country the skills that we need. Until now we have been extremely fortunate in the large numbers of British migrants who have been available. Last year, 89,000 people of British origin migrated to this country, of whom 71,000 were brought here under the assisted migration scheme. Maltese and people of other nationalities swelled the numbers considerably. During the 1960s we have brought to this country about 460,000 British migrants. These, of course, are extremely valuable and welcome settlers.
But this is not the only side of the story. Having listened to some members opposite, one would have thought we had a very restricted immigration programme; but if one looks down the list one sees the background and nationality of persons who have come to this country in the last six years. There were 8,279 Austrians, 327 Burmese, and 538 Chinese. Dutch migrants totalled 31,944. This is an area of migration that is extremely valuable to Australia. There were Filipinos, French and Germans. Indeed, as we look at the German quota of about 39,800, immediately the question arises as to whether we should not at this moment be doing more in Europe, because things have changed in terms of the boom in the German economy. There was a time when Greek and Italian workers in particular were being wooed by the Germans to assist their booming economy. A change has occurred, as many of these workers are no longer being re-engaged. This is a valuable area of contact that we could develop. Also, 70 Indonesians and 149 Japanese came to this country.
As we have heard about the activities of Canada in going to Japan and starting its own scheme to bring Japanese to Canada, we should remind ourselves that, without a quota system and without any legislation other than the wide discretion that is allowed to the Minister in many of these cases, we have been doing a great deal indeed to bring into this country a real cross-section of people. However, changes will be inevitable. We cannot look forever to the British Isles alone to produce the great majority of our migrants. The time will come when we must look to new areas altogether.
Recently, there was a very encouraging response from Turkey. A small number of Turkish migrants - approximately 500 - have come to this country in the last five or six years. Recently in that country an enthusiastic editor printed in a local paper the application form for entry to Australia. About 7,000 or 8.000 persons sent to Australia the cut-out from that paper and inquired about migration to this country.
I refer now to South America. I believe the time will come when we must look to this tremendous and densely populated continent, particularly to countries like the Argentine and Peru, for our migrants. In other words, the pattern has changed. I believe the change has been exciting and encouraging for the future, because it gives a greater width to the spectrum of the nationalities that will make up the Australia of the future.
– Order! I point out to the honourable member for Evans, as I have already pointed out to the honourable member for Lang and the honourable member for Gwydir, that the Bill before the House does not lend itself to a general debate and discussion on immigration and immigration policy. It is limited in its scope. Whilst a passing reference to some of these factors may be made, I point out that the honourable member has made a number of such references. I suggest that he should now come back to the subject matter of the Bill.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. As you have already said, the honourable members for Lang and Gwydir have traversed this territory; otherwise, 1 would not be mentioning it. To bring the matter to a conclusion, I say that the question before the House is quite simple. According to the Opposition, the Bill should be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that a person who becomes a member of the permanent forces of the Commonwealth should immediately be eligible for Australian citizenship. This question is posed: Why should a period of three months be fixed? Why should we ask that there should be any time at all? When a young man who comes out of this background goes into the Australian Services, why should he not immediately become an Australian citizen? It has been stated that it is undesirable to have persons who are not Australian citizens serving in our forces. This was not the attitude that the British forces took during the last war. Aliens made up whole units, and they were serving cheek by jowl with their comrades in arms who were of different nationalities. This, in itself, is one indication of the fact that during the last war we were mighty glad to have Americans, French and many other nationalities serving with us in our armed Services.
But that is not the real question. The real question relates to this lack of scrutiny. 1 drew attention to this earlier. I believe there is an irresponsible attitude which prompts people to say that we must not even wait until a young man has done his preliminary training, that we must not wait until he has completed three months of initiation into the Services, during which time it will be seen what kind of young person he is and during which he will be able to prove himself. Perhaps the word probation’ could be used, although it is not quite what I mean. It is surely incipient in previous remarks by members of the Opposition, such as those of the honourable member for Yarra, that there should be some scrutiny in this country before applications for citizenship are accepted. The Government’s choice of three months, during which a young man is living with his comrades and is going through preliminary training, is a wise and, indeed, extremely and generously short period. During that time he may prove himself and become eligible for what I believe to be the privilege of Australian citizenship. As the honourable member tor Swan (Mr Cleaver) pointed out to the House, this particular provision which is being adopted by the Australian Government is by no means unique when judged by standards adopted by other great powers and nations. Indeed, in the United States of America similar laws are much more strict, stringent and searching. The Government is to be congratulated upon the moves it has taken and the courage with which it has embarked upon this decision, which no-one could expect to be popular among those who come from other countries. If we are prepared to let these young men come here to live with us - we welcome them - then they should accept the responsibilities as well as the privileges.
– 1 rise to speak to the Bill, and I propose to be brief and to the point. Very much of the time of the House has been wasted by members on both sides in discussing, with wide variations, a Bill which, after all, is simple in its intent. I marvel at your leniency, Mr Deputy Speaker, to members on both sides.
This Bill is designed to provide for the calling up of aliens in the defence of this country. We believe this is quite right. If people come here expecting to receive the privileges of citizenship they should be prepared to play their part in the defence of the country. When they have accepted this responsibility it is only right that they should then be given the opportunity to become full citizens of the country. But we also believe that it is necessary to have some period of probation. Sometimes I think that the Opposition in this Parliament has become an Opposition completely without substance, opposing merely for the sake of doing so. Members of the Opposition have already indicated that they will support the Bill, but before doing so they are going to support the rather futile amendment that has been proposed on their behalf and which really means nothing at all.
As I have said before, if a young man is granted full citizenship in what we believe is the best country in the world to live in, with a very high standard of living and offering great privileges, then that young man, if he is of substance, should be prepared to take his place in defending the country and maintaining those privileges, not only for himself but also for his descendants and the descendants of all other citizens. I am quite sure that the great majority of aliens who have come here with the intention of becoming Australians are prepared to play their part, and I think it is an insult to these really worthwhile new Australians to suggest for a moment that they are not prepared to play their part in defending the country. Any decent, selfrespecting young man is prepared to play his part.
Contrary to what the members of the Opposition still like to claim, no young man is compelled to undergo national service training in this country. There are other ways in which a young man can serve. He can join the Citizen Military Forces, and particularly the special units. If a new Australian is not prepared to play his part in defending the country in which he has chosen to make his home, he has a further choice open to him - he can return to his homeland. We say to the young men: ‘We expect you to play your part as responsible citizens, and we expect you to undergo a probationary period of at least three months.’ We do this because anyone who has had anything to do with young men knows that there are many who would never make responsible or suitable soldiers. It would be quite foolish to give them full citizenship rights immediately, as the Oppo sition’s amendment suggests we should, lt is quite ridiculous to suggest, as several Opposition speakers have done, that these men will be sent overseas within the period of ninety days. No national serviceman is sent overseas without adequate training.
I believe, as I said in my opening remarks, that many speakers have ranged far and wide and have dealt with almost every aspect of immigration in a debate on what is a particularly simple bill. The Government having decided to call up aliens, the Bill provides that they be given the right of citizenship if they prove to be satisfactory members of our defence forces. I strongly support the Bill and oppose the Opposition’s amendment.
– in reply - In many ways this has been quite a remarkable debate on the Opposition side.
– It has up to date.
– Indeed yes, it has been quite remarkable. The new occupant of the office of Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) stumped into the House and gave us a fine speech of the soapbox variety. He said that the Opposition would move for the withdrawal of this Bill and the substitution of a bill enabling members of the permanent forces to be granted citizenship immediately. He apparently thought he had shown great political capacity in doing this. What he really is proposing is that aliens who are national servicemen will not be eligible for citizenship after the shorter qualifying period. The Act as at present worded makes a very clear distinction between a volunteer and somebody else. This legislation is necessary to ensure that national servicemen will be eligible for naturalisation after the shorter qualifying period. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on to say that the Opposition has opposed and still opposes conscription of aliens. Those words ‘has opposed’ are most interesting. The honourable member invited me to read the report of the 1966 debate, but I did not. Instead I read the report of the 1965 debate on the Aliens Bill and this has proved most interesting.
– The Minister was only a year out.
– The honourable member for Grayndler says that I was only a year out. He should know, because what I want to read to the House is what the honourable member for Grayndler himself said. His remarks are reported at page 1030 of Hansard as follows:
In other words, conditions in America are completely different to ours. All the privileges apply, there are no exemptions, and the alien accepts all the responsibilities. I think in common justice that it is reasonable that if all the benefits and advantages are to apply, the sacrifices also should be accepted.
– Who said that?
– The honourable member for Grayndler. He also said, later in the same speech:
What is the answer to the problem of reducing the large number of aliens? One hesitates to suggest compulsion but as this Bill changes the method of registration of aliens, one may well ask: For how long are we to condone the situation where hundreds of thousands of young settlers enjoy our liberty and way of life yet in many respects have no responsibility for maintaining our standards?
Of course this is pretty powerful stuff. Now the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says: ‘We have always opposed it’.
– We have opposed conscription.
– Oh, you have opposed conscription. I see.
– A bob each way.
– Yes. The honourable member for Grayndler said further:
Having in mind the advantages enjoyed by aliens, especially exemption from compulsory military service, I suggest that officers of the Department of Immigration would have to be wizards or salesmen of the L. J. Hooker type to sell naturalisation to a number of our new settlers. They have many benefits without naturalisation, including the protection of their lives. Yet we expect departmental officers to implore migrants to become naturalised. Let us consider just one aspect. If a migrant couple have a son of eighteen or nineteen, from the day they are naturalised their son is liable to call-up for military service and may end up anywhere in the world in the defence forces.
– You are not reading that as well as Fred said it.
– Yes, dear old Fred said it, and these sentiments have been reflected by other people on that side of the House who believe, as do those on this side, that people who come here to make their homes, to make this the place of their permanent residence and to enjoy the opportunities and privileges available to them here, must undertake the obligations that others undertake. One of the privileges available is that of citizenship after a shorter qualifying period, as is provided in this Bill.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made another point. He claimed that we had scrapped the tenets of international law. He said - and I do not know quite what justified him in saying it - that it had been said on this side of the House that it was contrary to international law to call up aliens. What has always been said on this side of the House is that there is some doubt in international law as to the calling up of aliens, and that the matter had to be resolved. Indeed this was resolved. It was resolved by means of diplomatic exchanges between officers of our embassies overseas and officers of other countries through their external affairs departments.
Then the Deputy Leader pulled his ace out of the pack and said: “There is an inconsistency in migration and citizenship policy. Look at the facts of migrant recruitment. Applications in London have fallen by 40%’. Why did he select London? It so happens that the UK migrant has been subject to call-up since 1964. They could not have got the bush telegraph working too quickly if there is a reduction for this reason in 1967. But the remarkable speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not end there. He said a number of things - too many to go through all of them. Let me come to the immediate point that he made. He said that a person could get citizenship in three months compared with five years for somebody not called up. Surely he must know what a fallacy this is, for no alien is called up until he has been resident two years. It so happens, if the Deputy Leader had cared to look at the situation, that no alien is called up before he is twenty-one years of age. If the honourable gentleman had chosen to ask he would have learned that while the Act provides for a minimum residence of five years for adults, it provides no minimum residence for minors. The consequence of this is that it is within the Minister’s discretion to make the policy as to the residential requirement of a minor and in point of fact for many years tha! policy has been that a minor may obtain citizenship after two years residence. So it is two years residence for citizenship; two years residence before being eligible for call-up.
Now let us take the situation of a young man who has not applied for citizenship even though he could have done so after two years residence. At twenty-one years of agc he is called up. The Opposition presumably would say that he is not entitled to citizenship at that point of time. The fact is that in reality, other than the man who turns twenty-one, an alien may apply for citizenship after two years residence here if he is still a minor, and if he is called up for service he can ger his citizenship after three months service. Then it is said: But really, why three months? Why not on the day he enlists?
– Why not?
– A good question. Let us answer it. Did the honourable member serve in the forces?
– Good on him. He is a man of the type of most people in this Parliament. AH of us have had experience of the Services and we all know that you can turn up and be attested today but whether you are a soldier prepared to undertake your responsibilities is not answered on the day of your attestation. The time of making a judgment of your responsibility in this matter is after attestation. Is it possible to restrict this to less than three months? I am sure it is not. This is why the period of three months was selected. It was selected because at that point of time one can see the quality of the man; one can see whether he understands the responsibilities of citizenship, because forget it not that one of the major qualifications of citizenship is an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship of this great country. For those reasons the period of three months was selected. A great many other things have been said in the debate, but none can on analysis in any way shake what this Bill does. What this Bill does is provide accelerated citizenship for those people who are aliens and who are called up for national service. Let me make this clear: I do not want to identify he who said it, nor to quote his words, but the clear inference I got from one speaker in the debate was that if you called up an alien he might not be too good and you might not be able to rely on him too much. My experience of the aliens in this country who have come here as new settlers to make their homes here is that they are first class people. Those who are not first class form a very minor percentage of the total - of the two million people who have come here to make their homes. He who is not proud of those two million people is not being true to the beliefs we hold in Australia and for the development of this country. If this Bill does not pass it will mean that the national servicemen will not be able to receive his naturalisation after three months of service. It will mean also that the regular serving perhaps in Vietnam will get residential credit only on a two for one basis for the period of his service. That anybody should suggest that this Bill be withdrawn, redrafted or anything else is not doing a service to the people who are serving the cause of this country in Vietnam. For these reasons I was proud to introduce the Bill and I am proud to support it. I hope that it receives the unanimous support of this House.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Barnard’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23rd February (vide page 118), on motion by Dr Forbes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the passage of this Bill. Previously in this House we have used the science laboratories legislation as the vehicle for a wide ranging debate on Australia’s educational deficiencies. I do not intend to do that on this occasion. On15th March last, in this Chamber, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) outlined at some length the Labor Party’s education policies with particular emphasis on tertiary education and teacher training. That was during the debate on the Public Service Bill. At the beginning of this sessional period, I gave notice that I would move that the House debate Australia’s urgent education problems and in particular the need for a national inquiry into all aspects of primary, secondary and technical education. I hope the House will have the opportunity to debate that motion before the end of the present sessional period. For those reasons, I intend to limit my remarks tonight to Australia’s science education.
I have already indicated that we are not opposing this legislation, but this should not be interpreted by the Government as meaning that the Government’s science education policies have our unqualified approval. Our opposition to the Government’s policies boils down to two basic criticisms. Firstly, the science laboratories legislation is an isolated measure. It was conceived in expediency as a vote winner for the 1963 elections. It has never formed part of a comprehensive policy on science education. Secondly, even as an isolated, ad hoc measure, the amount of assistance given under it by the Government to build science blocks and to provide scientific equipment at schools is completely inadequate to achieve the revolution in science education predicted by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, when he introduced the original legislation in 1964. Those are the two basic flaws which the Opposition finds in the Government’s legislation, and I intend to elaborate those criticisms.
The Labor Party has always supported a substantial increase in the Commonwealth’s participation in Australian education. For many years, this Government resisted our arguments, claiming that Commonwealth assistance to education on a substantial scale was unconstitutional. Indeed, the pages of ‘Hansard’ are full of reports of the debates on education that have taken place in this Parliament. Frequently when members on this side of the House have referred to the inadequacies in primary, secondary and technical education, and on the many occasions when we have dealt with the question of tertiary education, Government members have used the constitutional problem as a reason for rejecting any proposition from members on this side of the House. It might be said that there has been a changed attitude on the part of some Government supporters in recent years. They no longer use the constitutional problem for rejecting propositions by honourable members on this side of the House for a more active and responsible participation by the Government in educational matters generally. However they have continued to resist the approaches made to them not only by honourable members on this side of the House but, indeed, by interested organisations outside the chamber for a competent committee of inquiry.
– Order! There is far too much conversation in the chamber. It is very difficult for the speaker to be heard by Hansard’.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I was saying that the Government has continued to resist the approaches made to it, not only by honourable members on this side of the House during debates on educational matters generally but by interested organisations outside the House, particularly parents and friends associations and others who have some responsibility in this field, to establish a competent committee of inquiry to examine education at the primary, secondary and technical levels in Australia. However, as I have said, the Government no longer raises the constitutional problems which were so frequently referred to by honourable members opposite in earlier debates on education matters.
When the Government changed its course in 1963 it had no hesitation in justifying assistance being given both to government and non-government schools under section 96 of the Constitution. The Government saw no difficulties in this respect. When the Government made its about face on educa tional assistance it did not assess the overall needs of scientific and technical education in Australia and then plan the future on the basis of transforming the existing system. The Government’s promise to give grants for the construction of science laboratories and for the purchase and provision of science equipment was hastily conceived in the urgency of an election deadline. It seized on science blocks as one isolated and electorally attractive area of education which it could exploit to its advantage. This was, I believe, cynical opportunism which had no relation to the basic needs of scientific education. The Government achieved a considerable measure of success with its promise in 1963. It exploited its advantage even further in 1966 when it developed the allocation of funds for science laboratories and equipment to non-government schools. The Government has cynically and shamelessly exploited science laboratories without attempting to fit them into a comprehensive blueprint for Australian education.
The Labor Party has always maintained that the need for educational assistance by the Commonwealth can be evaluated only by national inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education. The great mass of Australian educators have supported demands for such an inquiry. We insist that this is the only way in which priorities in education can be assessed and determined. The Government has persistently ignored our advocacy for a national inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education. With regard to the specific issue before the House - the provision of Government grants for the construction of scientific apparatus - we of the Opposition say that the Government should make generous allocations for this but we say that the allocation should be part of a carefully considered and comprehensive plan to give assistance to all aspects of scientific education in Australia. We say that it is futile to provide, for example, gleaming laboratories, lavishly stocked with equipment, if there are not enough qualified teachers and trained laboratory assistants to man them.
I want to refer briefly to the basic concepts of what scientific education is and what it is intended to achieve. The whole structure of scientific education in schools is of comparatively recent origin. In Australia it has become a dominant educational concern mainly in the last fifty years. It is essential today to provide industry, the schools and the government machine with the skills to cope with a world which is rapidly being transformed by scientific and technological advance. It is not possible for a society to advance if one section of it is completely familiar with the technical nature of this scientific transformation while another is completely ignorant of the scientific forces at work, lt is the fundamental purpose of scientific education to abolish this division. The impact of science falls not only on the amenities of life, on economics, commerce and industry, but also on politics and on our basic modes of thought. All our efforts and resources should be geared to fostering the sort of education which makes the forces of science readily intelligible to all.
We believe that the Government’s emphasis on the external trappings of science laboratories and equipment ignores the essentials of a sound scientific education. Our aim must be to provide in our schools the sort of scientific education which will give a necessary grounding to those who want to go on to universities, technical colleges and similar institutions where they can specialise in individual branches oi science. Apart from this specialisation it is necessary that every man or woman, whatever his or her vocation, should receive some grounding in the fundamentals of science. I suggest that there are three essentials for a system of education which has these basic aims as its objective. Firstly and fundamentally there must be a supply of adequately trained teachers. This Government, in recent years at least, has concentrated on providing money for the provision of science blocks and equipment in various States. It has given no consideration to providing teachers to staff these science blocks. It has been concerned only with the acquisition of science blocks as a result of an election promise made in 1963. It has continuously ignored recommendations on teacher training such as that made by the Martin Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia. What action has the Government taken to give effect to the recom mendations of that Committee on this important aspect of education in Australia?
We are now getting the science blocks and the equipment but we do not have the teachers to man the science blocks. What does the Government intend to do about this? It has completely ignored the representations made to it by honourable members on this side of the House during debates on matters of public importance and on the Estimates. Indeed, whenever a question relating to education has been before this Parliament the Opposition has stressed the necessity for more trained teachers in Australia. This attitude on the part of Opposition members has been supported consistently by the Australian Teachers Federation and by those people who have some responsibility in these matters and are able to talk with some authority about the need for additional teachers.
The Government has completely ignored this important aspect of the Martin Committee’s report. It has decided to double the amount of money annually available for the provision of science blocks and equipment, but it has given no thought to the difficulties that will arise in the future as the result of a lack of trained science teachers in every state of the Commonwealth.
The second essential is the emphasis on theoretical knowledge which is the basis of all scientific achievement. The third, I believe, is the provision of facilities for practical experimentation which allows students to formulate problems clearly and to attempt to solve them in a commonsense and scientific manner. The Government’s legislation reaches only the last of these component parts of a sound scientific education. Here its contribution is meagre.
There is a drastic shortage of competent and qualified science teachers. In the past few years there has been intense competition for science graduates from our universities. There is an overall shortage of scientists to fill vacancies in the three major areas of pure research, applied research and science teaching. It is impossible today to get good science teachers on the cheap. There are insufficient specialist teachers of science subjects and many of these specialist teachers are not properly qualified. Today it is almost impossible to get honours graduates for science teaching in our schools. Industry and government are using many more science graduates than they were before the war. “University demand for Science graduates has almost doubled since the war.
Furthermore, the salaries of science teachers are not comparable with those in other professions which are open to science graduates. This lack of graduate science teachers must have serious long term effects on the education of the nation and the future supply of scientists and technologists. Far too often in our schools unqualified teachers try gallantly to make up impersonal qualities of enthusiasm and leaching for their lack of scientific training. This lack of teachers is the major limiting factor on scientific education - not insufficient laboratories and equipment.
The whole question of teacher training is one that the Government has consistently ignored. We need a much greater recruitment of graduates to teach mathematics and science. At the moment we arc facing an accumulated deficit of science teachers and particularly of graduate teachers. Greater efforts must be made to recruit science teachers from the universities. More scientists might be attracted to teaching in our schools if they were given more facilities for research and were allowed time to do their own research. Industry in this country is immensely active in recruiting from the universities. Representatives of industry enter the universities long before graduation time to point up the merits of industrial employment to prospective graduates. Our educational system has not matched this effort. There is an urgent need for senior officers of our educational system, individual headmasters and school science masters to go frequently to the universities to put the claims of science teaching before undergraduates. It should also be possible to introduce trial teaching periods for undergraduates during vacation so that they can taste for themselves the attractions of teaching science in the schools. Industry is employing drive, initiative and imagination to recruit science graduates. Our education authorities must match this example.
By comparison with university lecturers and scientists in industry and government employment, science teachers are poorly paid. Inevitably the quality of science teachers has deteriorated. We must have more and better science teachers. The building of laboratories and the supply of apparatus and other facilities cannot make up for the lack of inspiring, intelligent and resourceful teaching. Effective teaching of science not only demands adequate teachers and adequate laboratories; it is essential that there be an adequate supply of trained laboratory assistants. This is a problem which has been ignored in Australia. If school science laboratories are to be properly maintained and serviced they must have laboratory assistants and technicians. This is essential if the maximum use is to be made of the precious commodity of science teaching. It is absurd to pay teachers good money if they are to find the demand on their time and services intensified by routine problems of laboratory preparation and maintenance. Provision ultimately must be made in Australian schools for laboratory assistants, and they must be adequately trained and paid so that they can regard their work as a vocation for a lifetime and not as a stepping stone to a better paid job in industry. There should be training schemes for laboratory assistants and technicians so they can improve their knowledge and efficiency. The provision of such assistants and technicians would be a valuable move forward in raising the status of science teachers and in encouraging more graduates to enter the profession. The development of a system of laboratory assistance has been recognised as an urgent imperative of educational systems in other countries. It has been ignored in Australia.
Two years ago the science committee of the New South Wales Teachers Federation documented the preliminary requirements for the teaching of science in Australian secondary schools. The committee pointed out that each science lesson was unique in that it needed its own special teaching materials, different from those needed for the lessons which came before or after. Recognising that the range of materials needed for any worth-while science course is tremendous, the committee said:
Science lessens, if they are to be interesting and understandable, require a degreee of preparation which cannot be achieved without the help of laboratory assistants.
Laboratory assistants are needed if a whole range of essential services are to be performed. They are needed for the preparation of materials and specimens, for the collection and distribution of apparatus, tools and appliances, for the cleaning and restoring of used equipment, for preparing demonstrations and exhibits, for organising stocks and maintaining laboratories, and for repairing damaged equipment. It should be the ideal that each science laboratory has one assistant for’ these varied and essential duties. This is one aspect of scientific education in which the Government should be evolving a scheme of recruitment.
I want to refer briefly to the theoretical foundations of science education as distinct from the practical teaching of science in laboratories. It is a truism that mathematics is the language of science, and by neglecting it we are endangering the fundamental structure of our science teaching. Mathematics has become increasingly important as the tool of science workers in every field, not only in the basic physical sciences such as physics and chemistry, but also in the biological sciences and in the behavioural sciences. In all branches of science increasing reliance is placed on mathematical and statistical techniques. I cannot emphasise too strongly that Australian education is under extreme pressures from this need for greater sophistication in the application of mathematical techniques. The Martin report on tertiary education pointed up the weaknesses of mathematics teaching in our educational systems.
-Order! The honourable member is extending himself into the subject of science education. He should keep to the Bill. It is permissible to make passing reference to science education. It is quite within his duty to say something about this subject but the extent to which he is now doing so is not permissible.
– I thank you for your direction on this matter, Mr Deputy Speaker. 1 merely wanted to develop what we on this side of the House believe should be done in conjunction with-
-Order! J appreciate the honourable member’s point, but I have given him much latitude. I draw attention to the fact that this Bill gives authority to the Government to make more money available for providing science equipment and buildings in secondary schools throughout the Commonwealth. It does not refer to science teaching, although passing reference to science education would be quite within reason. Beyond that, however, I think the honourable member would be straining the discussion.
– I am prepared to accept your ruling on this matter, Mr Deputy Speaker. I hoped that the discussion of science laboratories and the provision of additional capital for this purpose would result in honourable members being given some latitude to discuss the important question of science teaching generally.
-Order! The Bill does not. provide for that. If the honourable member is going to discuss the report of the Martin Committee, we will have to draw the line somewhere.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I am prepared to return to what I was putting to the House when I commenced speaking on this measure. While the Government is providing additional funds for the provision of science blocks and science equipment in Australian schools it is doubtful whether the Government’s policy will have a long term beneficial effect on education generally in this country. We do not believe that the Government can concern itself with the provision of science blocks and equipment without at the same time being concerned with the question of other essential requirements, particularly the staff that will use the science blocks and equipment that the Government seeks, under the terms of this legislation, to provide in the various States. There are many aspects that one could refer to when dealing with legislation of this nature. I have already referred to the question of the supply of teachers, which I believe is an essential part of any legislation that provides for the construction of science blocks and the provision of science equipment. The Government has consistently refused to accept its responsibilities in this regard. It has, for example, consistently refused to make available to this Parliament the recommendations that one presumes have flowed from the special committee that the
Government set up to examine what finance should be made available under the terms of this legislation. This was a committee to which the Government gave the responsibility of allocating funds for the provision of science blocks and equipment in various States. Presumably this committee has made certain recommendations on these matters to the Government, but the Government has not made the reports or findings of the committee available to the Parliament. I would submit that members on both sides of the House would be much better informed on the requirements of the States, particularly on the finance that should flow to the private and public sector under this legislation, if such reports were made available. The Government has refused to make information available to the Parliament on the basis that this was not a committee properly constituted for the purpose of reporting to the Parliament. It was a committee established by the Government to inquire into certain aspects of the development of Government policy in this field of education. In dealing with legislation of this type members ought to have far more information set before them than the Minister has provided.
I have tried to show the defects of a policy which concentrates on only one aspect of science education, namely, the building and equipping of science laboratories. I endeavoured to enlarge upon that aspect by expressing some thoughts on the question of science teaching. I believe it is dangerous to emphasise one facet of science education instead of drawing up a comprehensive programme to lift science education in our schools. It is important for the Government to provide science facilities, but its legislation is geared to science laboratories for the teaching of physics and chemistry as science subjects. Far more is involved than dealing with these subjects in isolation. The basis of such a programme must be an immense stimulation of teacher training. I have already referred to this question. I urge the Government to evolve a wide ranging policy covering all aspects of science education. Finally, we must remember that the demand for improved science facilities must be weighed against the demand for other educational facilities. Science education is only one part of education, and whatever strengthens the whole must strengthen the component part. The Government must marshall its resources to strengthen the whole structure of primary, secondary and technical education. Up to now the Government has refused to accept responsibility for education in Australia beyond the question of tertiary education and beyond the provision of science facilities under the terms of the legislation we are now debating. The Government has a far greater responsibility and it must accept that responsibility otherwise the policy it is now pursuing will fail because it is concentrated on one aspect of education only, I believe to the disadvantage of other forms of education in Australia.
– The Bill before the House is a very simple measure, but it is full of meaning for every member of this House and for many millions of people outside this chamber. In 1964, against the opposition of the party opposite, this Government sought to institute a dramatic new measure in Australian education.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. In view of your earlier ruling, is the honourable member allowed to speak about education?
-Order! The Chair will decide what the honourable member may say when I have heard the context of his speech.
– The measure that we are considering tonight carries on proposals that were put to this House and were accepted in 1964, namely, that the Government was to institute a system of grants to build science facilities in all schools within the Commonwealth, both Government and non-Government schools. The aim of the Bill is to double the amount of assistance that is to be given from next year, the last year of the present triennium, to nongovernment schools. It has been decided to double the amount of this assistance simply because it was found that nongovernment schools needed many more facilities.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) finds three faults with this measure, and all of them are worth examining. Firstly be regrets that there is not more Commonwealth interest in education. Presumably he is sepaking mainly about non-government education. He is a great centralist. He wants more Commonwealth Government interest in education. Then he regrets that this is an isolated ad hoc measure and finally he states that the help given by the Government is inadequate. These three objections must be examined against the simple knowledge we have that education in Australia is primarily within the fields of activity of the States and the Commonwealth assists under section 96 of the Constitution. We cannot consider education in the government or nongovernment field without considering what the States do and the way in which the Commonwealth assistance in fact dovetails with that given by the States. When we consider this a little more closely, it becomes remarkably clear why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should want the Commonwealth to do all the work in nongovernment education. After all, his own State, the State in which the party to which he belongs has been in power for more than three decades, has possibly been the meanest, most niggardly and most parsimonious of all States in providing assistance for non-government education. This is perfectly true. I do not rely on some unacceptable authority to make this case, and it is worth making. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition may blush, but this is true. I need refer him only to the document submitted by Mr Tonkin to the conference of the Australian Labor Party at Surfer’s Paradise in June and July of 1966. Mr Tonkin, of course, is the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia.
In his report, Mr Tonkin examined the interest of the various States in nongovernment education. Let us look at Tasmania. I can see why all the centralists come from Tasmania; they are so ashamed of the injustice that the State has perpetrated upon its own people. Pages SO and SI of the report contain some interesting information. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition may shake his head if he wishes. He was a delegate to the conference. Mr Tonkin produced a table at page 51 and in it he examined the relative efforts of every State - New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. I understood that you intended honourable members to keep very close to the terms of the Bill that we have before us. May I ask how the matters now being raised by the honourable member are relevant to the Bill?
-Order! I gave the honourable member for Bass a great deal of latitude when he was speaking on the Bill, and I am sure he will agree that I did. I think that the honourable member for Lilley is entitled to make some passing comments when debating the Bill. However, I would remind him of the advice I gave previously to the honourable member for Bass, and that is that the Bill seeks authority for the Government to double the amount of money annually available from the Commonwealth to provide science laboratories and equipment in the independent secondary schools throughout Australia. The honourable member for Lilley may make passing comments, but I remind him of what I said to the honourable member for Bass. I allowed a very great deal of latitude to the honourable member for Bass.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Of course, my comments were intended to be only passing and in fact they will be only passing. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, and as you have acknowledged, Sir, this Bill dovetails with the education systems in the States. In the course of considering what should be done in the matter of providing science blocks, the Deputy Leader spent a considerable amount of time speaking about science teachers and the ability of schools to pay the salaries of science teachers. On the matter of the ability of the schools to pay for science teachers, we can refer to the following page, page 52, of Mr Tonkin’s document. It provides the answer to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. We can have science teachers teaching in these schools only if the States honour their obligation to provide sufficient assistance to enable the schools to pay the salaries. This is a simple, logical proposition. We cannot have teachers unless we pay their salaries.
Of course, if the students attending the schools cannot pay all the salaries, it is incumbent upon other educational authorities to help them. At page 52 of the report, Mr Tonkin gave details relating to the ability of the various States to pay the salaries or teachers and presumably the salaries of science teachers. He shows that no provision is made in two States for tuition allow?ances. They would be to pay the salaries of science teachers.
– What States are they?
– Tasmania is one. The other is a State in which Labor was in power for many years. It is New South Wales. Here again we find that the States in which the party opposite, the Labor Party, has been in power have lagged behind every other State and the Commonwealth in this field. They have lagged behind because they always oppose the principles that are embodied in the Bill now before us.
– New South Wales has most universities.
– That is irrelevant. The honourable member for Wills has always been rather frank about this. In 1964 he said quite clearly - it is recorded in Hansard - that he opposed legislation similar to this. One would expect with his honesty that he would uphold the point of view that he upheld then. The Commonwealth has made capital grants available to all forms of education. The Bill we are considering now relates to non-government education. As this is a second reading debate, principles are rather important, and the principle of assisting non-government schools has been applied by the Commonwealth Government at least since 1956. It was then that the Commonwealth Government decided to give assistance in the matter of interest payments on loans obtained by the independent educational institutions that are affected by this Bill. The Commonwealth decided to give this assistance in the Australian Capital Territory. In 1961, the assistance was extended from secondary institutions to primary institutions. In 1963, the party opposite, through its Leader and Deputy Leader, said it would not negotiate any new interest free loans for non-government schools in the Australian Capital Territory but would allow the existing agreements to run out. It is clear that Labor opposed us in 1956 in the matter of interest free loans, opposed us again in 1961 on the same matter and in 1963 made its opposition to the principles embodied in this Bill clear for all to see. The then Leader of the Opposition in a television programme in Brisbane made this clear. It is worth remembering that the people would not now enjoy assistance in the provision of science blocks or for students to attend non-government schools if the Opposition had been in power over those years. Under a Labor Government, no assistance would be given. It is obvious then if these people had the misfortune to live in one of the States in which the Party opposite happened to have power, they would in fact be getting even less.
What are the principles embodied in this Bill? I have illustrated the Opposition’s attitude to the matter of interest-free loans. However, there are general principles of State aid embodied in this which have been discussed by the various Federal conferences of the Party opposite, and it made this clear as well. In 1953 the Party opposite passed a resolution at its conference that it would give assistance to non-government schools and to students attending nongovernment schools and independent institutions. This was maintained for a couple of years, and then from 1957 to 1966 it expressed outright and clear opposition to the kind of principle embodied in this Bill. Its opposition was consistent and persistent.
Of course, in 1966 the Party opposite changed once again. There are two features that one ought to consider in this. One concerns the role of the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition during this time. The second feature we ought to consider is what the Opposition’s policy is likely to be in 1970. One could never be certain. One could never know where the pendulum was likely to stop, and the attitude could change again. There was also a philosophical principle involved in the Labor Party’s opposition. It said that it could give assistance to institutions such as we have provided for in this Bill. Labor said: ‘We cannot give capital grants to schools: We have to give the grant to individual school students and to individual parents.’ The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) made this point time and time again. It is a curious feature of the oscillating kind of philosophy of honourable members opposite that they say they will not give assistance to institutions but will give it to individuals. It is like reverting to nineteenth century excessively individualistic Liberalism. We rejected it sixty or seventy years ago, and the Party opposite embraced it until a few months ago. So, Mr Deputy Speaker, they are the general principles embodied in this Bill, and they are the general principles which we want to debate this evening and to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has adverted.
We know that science facilities are tremendously important for the economic growth of this country, and we decided that science facilities bad to be given so that there would be a measure of justice in education and also so that this country would be able to advance economically. We live in a technological age, an age in which there is to be increased capital support per worker and in which there are to be increased, scientific aids per person engaged in the work force. We judged that we could only have a rapid economic growth with a high rate of increase of living conditions per person if we were to make these facilities available to 100% of the students attending Australian schools. We decided this nearly four years ago; we said it was unfair to make better science facilities available to only 75% of students and that they had to be available to 100%, so we provided for that, and the country has received the legislation in the sense and in the spirit in which we offered it.
It is acknowledged that an effort by 100% of students attending all schools is far better for everybody concerned than placing an unwelcome and unfair burden of producing economic growth merely upon 75% of students, so our measure has been motivated by measures of social justice and by a recognition of the realities of economic growth and progress in this country. There have been further matters that have initiated measures to put before the people. The economic growth of the country has been very clearly tied with our interest in science grants legislation. We know that the science grants legislation has been associated very clearly with making assistance available to all students within the country, and we know that these facilities cannot be used unless there is a measure of co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. This principle is to be maintained at all costs. We do not want to take over responsibilities that the States can administer, and some States have shown that they can administer these things quite well.
Over the years, the Opposition has reminded me of a political sunflower. It turns its policies always to what it thinks is the full glare of voters’ popularity, but it forgets when it does this that voters have principles which they also like to see in <> members that come to this place. Opposition members forget also that voters despise no-one more than an unprincipled camp follower, and I suggest that that is what Opposition members have been in relation to this kind of measure.
So, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Bill we have before the House tonight intends to double the amount of assistance to be given to non-government schools for the last year of the present triennium and for the following trienniums. It is to be understood in conjunction with the statement made by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) that all science facilities in schools should be satisfied by 1970 or 1971. In fact this Bill goes a long way to attaining that aim. However, while we are considering this Bill it ought never to be forgotten that had the Opposition been in power nothing would have been done and nothing would be available. It would not be a matter of doubling an amount, for one cannot double nothing. Nothing would have been given, nothing would have been received, and 25% of the students and of the parents of this country would have been very sorely aggrieved.
Therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, it is an honour to support this Bill, as it was an honour to support a similar Bill in 1964. On that occasion we made these statements quite clear. What about the future? One thing that is clear is that the kind of people with which this Bill is concerned can look for little support, or little confident support, from the Party opposite. They were rejected so often by the Labor Party in the Sl’ate sphere which has always tried to duck-shove and pass the buck and say that the matter was not its responsibility but a Commonwealth responsibility. Where that Party has had responsibility its record has been shocking. Regarding the future, we can look to further assistance for nongovernment schools, and the Government has made it quite clear that it can in fact provide this.
Honourable members on this side of the chamber have many ideas concerning these matters, and no doubt they will put them forward during the course of this debate. From my own point of view I would emphasise that the Liberal Party in Queensland has a policy, decided upon last year, that as soon as possible assistance ought to be given, whether by the State or by the Commonwealth. We do not always say that it is the responsibility of others in the field of primary education. I support per capita grants in this area. This will be decided at some time in the future - I hope it will be soon. But we can do it; ours is the only Party that has shown it has the character and the principle to do it, and the only Party that can receive a deal of support from the people on the measure.
– The Bill before the House seeks authority for the Government to double the amount of money available from the Commonwealth to provide science laboratories and equipment to independent secondary schools throughout the Commonwealth. As the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) pointed out in his second reading speech, the Government believes that with this financial provision the basic science teaching facilities in the laboratories, together with the apparatus, will be sufficient for at least several years to come to provide the basic training that is needed in high schools for people who wish to embark upon a scientific career.
It is very important to explore some of the reasons why we need more scientists. The Government is not handing out $30m or more under the present Act for the provision of science laboratories and various apparatus unless it has in mind and is aware of the problems and the need for training future scientists.
I intend to explore some of the fields where the provision of science laboratories will make a decided impact on the training of future scientists by giving them better facilities to embark on the particular avenue of science that they wish to follow before going to the university, at the university selecting the particular field of science they wish to follow, and after leaving the university being able to apply this training. In other words, I believe that there is sot much point in providing facilities unless we know about, and have an appreciation of, the need for scientists in this country and have a knowledge of the deficient areas of endeavour where future scientists should be trained.
I intend to deal with the matter mostly by giving examples of the practical application of science to boys and girls who first embark on a scientific career at a high school and who then follow it through to their final employment in institutions which employ scientists, such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the various government departments, industry and of course the universities, where we develop not only those who are following the application of research itself but also the future professors, lecturers and teachers of science who in turn impart their knowledge back to the high school teachers.
There are two broad fields of science - fundamental and applied. When a boy or girl first takes up a science course, rarely does he or she appreciate or have any real understanding of the particular field he or she wishes to follow. Perhaps in ten years time he or she will follow a specialised field in plant pathology, taxonomy, hydrology or some other particular field; but it is in the high school that the student actually receives his first training. I think the best way in which I can explain this is to give actual practical examples of fields in which the Federal Government has provided assistance to the States and in which scientists are badly needed.
It is only by the provision of science laboratories and apparatus that we will be able to train our future scientists. I will take one of the examples which has often been talked about in the House in the last few years - the field of soil sciences. For instance, in the great brigalow scheme there is a serious problem in relation to the supply of scientists. We have a great need for soil scientists, ecologists, geneticists, botanists and entomologists. All these people, trained in a special field of science, must emanate in the first instance from the basic training received in high school. Let me give some examples. In the brigalow region we have certain soils which are well typed and often well classified by the soil scientists and the ecologists. We have confronting us the problem of working the deep gilgais. Perhaps most people refer to it as melonhole country. It is well known that the soils are well structured. They have their problems; their granular structure is coarsely lenticular with depth. They are usually alkaline in their surfaces, and they contain lime and subsoils which are extremely acid. All of these things in themselves are problems to scientists, and it is only through fundamental science or applied science that they can be solved.
In the brigalow soils the carbonate present in the tops of the horizons of the soil illustrate nodule growth from the legume brigalow itself. It is well known that with the acacia harpophyllia growing in the brigalow soils we have a soil that is well endowed with nitrogen and as the depth increases we have a deficiency of phosphorus. This alone is causing headaches in some respects to scientists because, with the increasing tilling of the soil, whether it be for wheat or grain sorghum, we get a depreciation of the available soil nitrogen.
– Does the honourable member suggest that the specialisation in scientific fields such as he has been speaking about has to occur within the high schools?
– No. I am giving practical examples of the need for scientists. It is only through the basic fundamental training given in high schools, carried through to the universities, that we will be able to solve these problems. It is of no use providing laboratories unless we know what the laboratories are for, and it is of no use providing apparatus unless we can use it in future scientific work. In the field of soil science, soil salinity is in itself a problem in some of the brigalow soils. Some soils are unusually acid, but in general severe alkaline reaction is not common. In fact, the soil scientists will show that rarely do we get a count of pH9, for example. In the sedimentary clays there is the problem of erosion. This, again, is in the field where the soil scientists must be able to make a contribution.
Laboratory analyses, which have to become more specialised as one actually leaves the university, have their roots in the high schools. As I have said before, most of the brigalow soils are well endowed with nitrogen and organic matter, but relentless cropping will actually decrease the available nitrogen in those soils. It has been shown by soil scientists whose scientific training has extended as far back as high school days, by trials with legumes such as phaseolus lathyroides, that phosphate deficiencies in these soils are most marked. Here again the scientist comes into his own. He develops hypotheses in order to discover what is in fact the deficiency in the soils. Then he is able to test these hypotheses by empirical means. Finally he can show in the laboratory that his hypotheses are further supported by empirical analyses. This is a very important technique which is actually commenced in the high school in chemistry, physics and mathematics classes. The student learns to develop hypotheses and to test them by empirical means using knowledge gained by deduction or induction, and then to apply the results of the actual position in the real world. This is how the scientist works.
One of the most pressing problems of soil scientists working on these particular brigalow soils is that of trace elements. It has been found that while there may be ample supplies of potassium, sulphur and molybdenum at the present time, with increasing cropping practices supplies of these elements are gradually decreased.
Dealing with the students who would eventually finish up as botanists, it would seem that one of the biggest problems in this area that I am using as an example is that of the control of suckers. Acacial harpophyllia is, of course, one of our most notorious legumes for the production of suckers. This problem has faced scientists of the CSIRO and Queensland departments in Queensland for many years. Farmers who are familiar with the problems of the brigalow know full well the very serious effects of suckers. It would seem that the scientist is at last getting a breakthrough in the control of suckers, not only by mechanical means but also by chemical and biological means. By biological means, of course, in the sheep country there are fewer problems. Here again scientists of the CSIRO and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries are showing what can be done by both biological and chemical means. One of the chemical means, for instance, is spraying with 2.4.5.T.
Another branch of science which is very important in the particular country I am using as an example is that of chemistry. One of the most serious problems in certain areas of the brigalow is Mackenzie River disease. This disease has been commonly attributed to yellow-wood poisoning. The scientist who has been trained in this speciality is able to isolate the toxic effect’s of tannin - from the leaves - and he is well on the way to discovering the reason why cattle die or become extremely ill from eating yellow-wood.
Another plant which presents a major problem to the chemist or agricultural scientist is harrisia cactus. Some honourable members have probably never heard of this, but I can tell them that approximately 100,000 acres of our best land in central and north Queensland are today affected by harrisia cactus.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I remind the honourable member that this Bill deals with a financial grant by the Commonwealth for financing scientific training in science laboratories in schools. Perhaps some illustrations might be given by way of examples of the advantages that can accrue from science education, but I think the honourable member has given sufficient examples to make his point.
– I considered this a most important Bill, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I wanted to explore the reasons why the Government is making this money available. It is not doing so with just some airy-fairy idea in mind. It is making the money available, as has been stressed many times in this House, in order to train our scientists of the future. I have been giving examples of the objectives of scientific education in the high schools which progresses through the universities to the final training of the scientists. I have been dealing mostly with “plant and soil science and 1 wanted also to deal with animal sciences, but if I cannot deal with the animal side of the subject I will sit down.
-I point out that Bills that come before the House cover particular subjects. On most occasions the Chair tries to assist speakers who refer to certain matters relating to the reasons and justifications for a Bill, but I suggest that such references should not be expanded to become the main subject matter of the debate. The main purpose of this Bill is to provide a financial arrangement under which the Commonwealth makes money available for school science activities, and I think that strictly speaking this is the only subject that should be allowed to form the main matter for debate.
– Then 1 will bow to your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I will conclude my remarks.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What has been the cost of overseas shipping freights each year since 1950, and what has been the total cost since that year?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistician advises that, for the years 1949-50 to 1965-66, total freight payable overseas on imports is estimated at $3,361m, the cost in each year being as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistician also advises that statistics are not available to show the total annual freight charges for exports and the Australian balance of payments statistics do not include an item relating to amounts payable overseas for freight on Australian exports. Conventional balance of payments treatment regards the cost of transferring goods beyond the exporting country as a transaction between the foreign importer and the carrier (in the Australian case, usually a nonresident shipping company). Thus, in the circumstances, no entry is made for such freight charges and no estimate is prepared for this item in the Bureau of Census and Statistics.
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Segments of manufacturing industry do operate, from time to time, below full capacity. In fact, it is the exception, rather than the rule, for many industries to operate to full capacity. For example, industries sometime install excess capacity in anticipation of market growth or to meet emergency situations. Also demand for products may fluctuate because of changes of fashion or taste or for seasonal reasons and old products and techniques may be superseded by new ones. In many cases the superseded capacity still remains available.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Commonwealth and State authorities have been engaged in the study but the work has not yet been completed. The question of suitable routes is still under consideration, and therefore it is not yet possible to give reliable cost estimates. 3. (a) Financial assistance of $100,000 was given to New South Wales and no conditions were set down.
Migration between Australian Territories (Question No. 100)
asked the Minister for
Territories, upon notice:
Has there been any change in the circumstances under which inhabitants of each of Australia’s overseas territories, including trust territories, can migrate to another territory since his answer to me on 1st October 1964 (Hansard, page 1803)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Royal Australian Navy (Question No. 102)
asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice:
Is a wooden or non-magnetic hull desirable for this work?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Beam 21 feet 11 in.hes
Draught . .5 feet 0 inches
Yes. 8. (i) Removal of special minesweeping equip ment;
Price of conversion also includes cost of equipment and materials. The choice of theseitems of equipment has been governed by the long term requirements of the clearance diving vessel.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
In view of repeated claims in certain overseas quarters that some top Nazi war criminals have undergone plastic surgery and are hiding in the Argentine and in Havana, Cuba, can be say whether efforts are still being made by the appropriate international authorities to locate these war criminals and to bring them to trial before the extended period for the trial of World War II criminals expires?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Efforts are still being made by the international authorities concerned to locate war criminals and to bring them to trial before the German statute of limitations expires in 1969. Furthermore, where evidence is available, proceedings are being commenced by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany against all persons suspected of war crimes. Under German law the initiation of such proceedings automatically enables trial of the persons concerned to occur within a period of fifteen years or more, depending upon the nature of the crime. Thus in very many instances it will remain possible for trials to occur beyond 1969.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
Th: Government has not yet completed its consideration of the details of the proposed scheme. However, we expect to do so shortly and will then be in touch with the State Governments about it.
Financial Assistance for Western Australia
– On 23rd February, the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) asked me, without notice, about requests by the Western Australian Government for Commonwealth financial assistance for development projects.
Information of the type requested by the honourable member is regarded by the Commonwealth Government as confidential between itself and the State Government concerned, unless it is mutually agreed to make the information public.
No such agreement has been made in this case and the information therefore cannot be made available.
– On 28th February, in reply to a question without notice from the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), I said that I would ask my colleague the Minister for Education and Science to provide information on the subject of grants for research work at universities.
On the same day, the Minister made a statement in the Senate on the subject of university research expenditure, which covers the matters raised by the honourable member. The report of the statement can be found in the Senate Hansard of 28th February at page 122.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What were the average yields of seed cotton or lint per acre for the Ord and Namoi areas for each year of operation?
– The following tables give details of the acreage planted to cotton and the average lint yield per acre for cotton grown at the Namoi region, New South Wales, and the Ord Irrigation Project, Western Australia:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
The many ordinary Government primary schools and mission schools throughout the north, north-west and eastern goldfields areas are giving post-primary instruction to these children. This education may take the form of teacher-instruction, follow the correspondence courses from the Education Department, or follow a special course adapted to suit the children’s ability and future needs.
In addition, there are at several northern centres, special courses for post-primary native children. At Derby, a course which involves considerable practical instruction in agricultural and pastoral work and manual training techniques, is operating. Native children from surrounding and outlying areas are cared for in hostels in the town. The girls are given instruction in home science and associated subjects.
As an alternative to these “special courses”, the native children, if they so wish, may follow the normal secondary school courses that are offered in Western Australian high schools. More and more children from these centres are receiving their education atGeraldton and Perth, where they are cared for in hostels, or board privately, and attend the local high school.
Many children from the eastern goldfields are in attendance at the Eastern Goldfields Senior High School situated in Kalgoorlie. In addition, quite a few are in hostels at Esperance where they are given various types of special courses, as well as having the opportunity of attending the Esperance High School. A farm-training scheme is in operation at the Wongutha Farm Training Centre and boys from all over the eastern goldfields attend.’ 2 and 3. The establishment of technical training schools m the northern areas of Western Australia is a matter for the Western Australian Government. It is also for the State Government to decide the distribution of the unmatched capital grants from the Commonwealth for technical training facilities.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
For many years, I might say that this Government, and, indeed, all preceding Governments, have accepted the point of view that it is rot desirable to issue specific directives as to the areas of work which should be undertaken by the Organisation, unless of extreme national urgency, but rather to encourage the development of a research programme as a product of discussions amongst those concerned in the Government, industry, Commonwealth and State Departments, and, of course, in C.S.I.R.O. itself and other research groups.
There are, of course, many matters which from time to time are referred to the Organisation by the Minister. I might quote by way of example: “ The establishment of a laboratory at Towns- ville which is allowing the pasture studies of the
Organisation’s Division of Tropical Pastures to be considerably expanded.
The investigations being undertaken by the Organisation Division of Entomology, both in Tasmania and on the mainland, into ways of combating problems arising from the unfortunate introduction of the Sirex wasp into this country.
The question of Australia collaborating with other countries in the construction of a large optical telescope in Australia.
The problem of extension services and related applied research directed towards assisting the agricultural industries.”
The Organisation’s programme is complex, having as it does wide ramifications for the wellbeing of both our primary and secondary industries. For this reason alone, there mustbe of necessity frequent discussions between the Minister and its Chairman.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 April 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670404_reps_26_hor54/>.