26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr LEE presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the well-being of the aged, the infirm, the widowed, the deserted wives and dependent children, and the service pensioner be improved to parity with the national general living standard of the Australian people.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr Erwin and Mr Jess.
Petitions severally received.
– I wish to inform the House that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) left Australia on 13th September in order to take part in a meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Committee in Trinidad and in meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Rio de Janeiro. He also proposes to visit the United States of America for discussions with financial authorities, lt is expected that he will be away until towards the end of October. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) will act as Treasurer during Mr McMahon’s absence.
– I direct my question to the Acting Treasurer. I ask him whether the difficulty in raising a loan overseas and the ultimate achievement of raising a very small loan in London at the immense interest rate of 7.11% is a tribute to the soundness of the Australian economy and the stability of the present Government.
– The best tribute that can be paid to the Australian Government and its financial and economic policies is that in London and in other big markets we borrow at a lower rate and on more favourable terms than any other international borrower.
– Can the Minister for National Development advise the House of the present position of offshore petroleum legislation?
– Two matters are delaying the preparation of offshore oil and petroleum legislation. One ls the matter of registration fees. This is the concern of the States and not of the Commonwealth. I am glad to inform the honourable gentleman that I have heard today that this has finally been agreed upon by the six States. The only other matter which is outstanding is a very minor one concerning some boundaries. We are now able to go ahead and complete the legislation ready for introduction to the House. As the legislation will be voluminous there will be considerable pressure on printing facilities. However, I am still hopeful that it will be possible to introduce the legislation towards the end of October or early in November.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. 1 ask: Did the sacking from the Austraiian Broadcasting Commission of the Chairman, Dr J. R. Darling, the Vice-Chairman, Mr E. R. Dawes, and a member, Mr H. V. Halvorsen, have anything to do with disagreements over political interference, dissatisfaction with Government policy regarding the Commission, or their independence of thought? If not, what were the reasons for their dismissal? Have their replacements proved to be entirely satisfactory from the point of view of the Government?
– The three persons named by the honourable member were replaced because their period of appointment had expired. The Government has every confidence in the ability of the men who replaced them to carry on the affairs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in conjunction with the members who have remained on the Commission.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. In view of the increasing evidence of the manufacture and illegal usage of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and mescaline in Australia, and the inadequate penalties available to punish those who possess or sell these drugs - in my own State of South Australia this is not even an offence - will the Minister give consideration to the possibility of convening a meeting of all State Attorneys-General with a view to introducing adequate uniform legislation?
– This matter has been under careful consideration by the Government. The honourable member will be aware that recently the Customs Act was amended and the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 was passed. Following that, the Cabinet is considering this matter on a wider basis. I think it would be premature to refer the matter to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General until the view of the Government is clear. Indeed, it might be found that an approach should be made to the States on a different basis. I would add that in a case which occurred recently in the Australian Capital Territory the penalty in relation to an offence of dealing with these drugs was said by the magistrate to be light. This flows from the fact that the definition of narcotic drug does not extend to the particular drugs which the honourable member has mentioned. We are taking steps to amend the Territory ordinance in that respect.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I remind the right honourable gentleman that the Australian company Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd faces a loss of more than $6m on the North West Cape project, which was built for the United States Navy and which was officially opened by the Prime Minister last Saturday. Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that in any future agreements with the United States Government for the construction of defence projects on Australian soil there will be specific safeguards to protect both the Australian Government and Australian companies against loss in the event of failure of an American company?
– The Minister for Defence will answer that question.
– I think I have pointed out in this House before, and I now re iterate for the benefit of honourable members, that all conditions surrounding contracts for the North West Cape project were well known to the contractors when they went into the arrangements. It appears that some conditions were quite new to Australian companies and we certainly have had some valuable experience in contracting for the United States in this country. If there are to be any other contracts of this kind then I am sure the Government will be prepared to look at the conditions and perhaps guide the contractors a little in what is in fact their own responsibility. It is true that in big contracting of this kind there are possibilties of difficulties. Such matters as rejection of work and imposed conditions make it difficult to litigate as between Australia and America. Certainly the Government will be prepared to talk to- the United States Government about these matters before any subsequent contract is entered into.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a recent Press report, attributing to the Deputy President of the Papua-New Guinea Returned Services League, a statement alleging that a booklet published by the Territory Administration gave the impression that there was no real role for the Army in the Territory and depicted the Army solely as a potential threat to the nation’s security? What is the purpose of this publication and does it in fact convey these impressions?
– I appreciate the concern of the honourable member when he read this Press report. The title of this booklet is ‘The Role of Government in Papua-New Guinea’. It sets out to inform the people on the evolution and the structure of our form of government. After all, we have accepted the responsibility of advancing the people of the Territory politically, economically and socially. The booklet outlines the evolution of the present structure of parliament and indicates how important it is to be vigilant and see that the powers of parliament are not eroded. Reference is made to the situation in some states in Africa where the powers of parliament have been eroded and either a dictator or an army group has taken over. In this sense the army is only filling a power vacuum which has been caused by the collapse of the government. Reading this pamphlet I cannot see any derogatory remarks that could give concern to the Army. Since this Government is very defence minded and has particular regard for the status of the Services, I have already conferred with my colleague, the Minister for the Army, to see whether we can publish a similar pamphlet showing the role the Army plays in the community.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. The right honourable gentleman will be aware of the pending visit of Viscount Montgomery to Australia to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the immortal battle of El Alamein in which the Viscount, as Field Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of the allied forces in the Middle East, was responsible for the breakthrough which destroyed Rommel’s armies and in which, as we are all aware, the Australian Ninth Division played a major role. I understand that Viscount Montgomery will be a guest of the Australian Government during his stay but that the Government will not be responsible for the cost of his fares. I believe that the Returned Services League will be responsible for the cost of the fares. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether he will reconsider this matter with a view to meeting the travel costs of this great military leader?
– I am sure that there would be a very warm welcome for Viscount Montgomery in Australia. When we were approached on this matter I indicated very readily that we would be glad to have him here as a guest of the Australian Government. It is a well established practice in relation to visits of this character that the travel costs are not borne by the Commonwealth Government. We have followed the normal practice in this instance.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a reported statement by the Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, in which he is alleged to have called for an immediate ministerial conference to discuss the future of the Chowilla Dam project? He is alleged also to have threatened legal action if an immediate start is not made on this project. Can the Minister inform me whether it is the intention of the Federal Government to call such a conference?
– I saw the statement referred to by the honourable member as I came back through Adelaide on Saturday evening. I must say that it surprised me somewhat because the South Australian Premier has been kept closely informed on everything that has been undertaken by the River Murray Commission. As the honourable member will realise, the South Australian Government is represented on the Commission by a very senior officer who, of course, reports to his Premier.
The present position is that an interim report of the technical committee, which again had a representative of the South Australian Government on it, pointed out two matters in particular. One was that Chowilla, at a size of 5 million acre feet, in spite of the very great evaporation that occurs in that area would never have been lower than at least 1 million acre feet at any stage in the last 50 years. The second matter pointed out by the technical committee, which I state again had a representative of South Australia on it, was that if the dam at Chowilla was built to a size of l.5 million acre feet South Australia would never have been restricted at any period during the last50 years in its present entitlement to water and that any increase over and above that size would have had only a very marginal effect on the other States.
As a result of the interim report of the technical committee the River Murray Commission, which again I point out has a South Australian representative, made a unanimous decision that it would defer any future action until such time as the technical committee had made a full and thorough investigation. It is obviously quite ludicrous to hold a ministerial conference before the conference has available to it the facts and the figures which would flow from an assessment by the technical committee. Therefore I can only presume that in this case the South Australian Premier is playing politics.
– My question to the Minister for Defence relates to the purchase of the Fill aircraft from the United States. I refer to reports that the performance of the aircraft may not be as specified when the Government ordered it in 1963 and that the United States Government is considering penalising the General Dynamics Corporation for failing to meet such specifications. I do not want to debate now the question whether or not it will meet its original specifications, but I ask specifically: If eventually the aircraft does not meet the promised performance does our agreement permit a reduction in payments in any way or is it entirely a one way affair? Finally, does the agreement with the United States of America give that country the right to veto the resale of the aircraft to any other nation?
– It appears that the honourable gentleman is rather complicating what is for us at this moment a relatively simple problem. He confuses the FU IB model, which is for the American Navy, with the F111C model, which is being built for Australia. The fact is that the bomber which is being produced for Australia and on which we will pay the same price as the United States of America has already flown its full envelope of performance as required by the Royal Australian Air Force.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the export incentive scheme. With your permission, Mr Speaker, I point out that exporters of capital goods are frequently required to submit quotations for products that are not delivered for from 2 to 5 years. In estimating export prices the payroll tax rebate is taken into consideration. The exporters I refer to are at present severely handicapped by lack of knowledge of the Government’s intentions with regard to this export incentive. I ask the Prime Minister, therefore, whether he will confirm that the export incentive scheme will be extended for another 3 years from the date of expiry of the present scheme, and whether exporters can be assured that there will be no reduction of the rebate available to them under the payroll tax rebate scheme.
– In March 1966 and again in the Governor-General’s Speech last February the Government affirmed its intention to introduce legislation to continue the export incentives and to provide for any changes in the form of them which may seem desirable. This is still our intention. The scope and content of the new legislation are being studied in detail at the present time. The honourable member asked whether I could give an assurance that the amount of rebate would not be reduced. This is, of course, a matter of policy on which it would not be appropriate to comment now. However, I can give him an assurance that the comment he has made will be considered by us as our study proceeds.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of complaints that immigrant children are being handicapped in their education because of their lack of knowledge of English? Will the Government consider making special financial grants to the States to allow the State education departments to establish special schools to teach these children English?
– No complaints of this kind have come to my notice. I imagine that if they were made they would be directed to either the Minister for Immigration or the Minister for Education and Science. The honourable member must be aware that from the inception of the immigration scheme the Government has, in co-operation with the States and in a variety of ways, endeavoured to assist migrant settlers unfamiliar with our language to develop a familiarity with it. Special classes have been established for this purpose in the schools. Special radio programmes have been broadcast. In these and other ways, and through the good offices of the Good Neighbour Council, we have tried to encourage new settlers to become familiar with our language. I think the fact that we have so successfully absorbed more than two million migrant settlers into our community over the period of the immigration programme shows that broadly speaking the arrangements we have made have worked out satisfactorily. However, I will be glad to study the honourable member’s question in detail and see whether 1 can supplement the answer I have just given.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Earlier this year, when the Dairying Industry Bill was before the House, it was proposed that talks should take place between the Government and industry representatives to discover ways and means of assisting marginal producers. Can the Minister tell us what progress has been made with these talks?
– I have had opportunities on two occasions to discuss this matter with the State Ministers for Agriculture. The first was at a special meeting that I called in Melbourne in June, at which I met all the Ministers, and the second was at the meeting in July of the Australian Agricultural Council. In the meantime senior officers of my Department have been holding discussions with their opposite numbers in the various State departments so that they assess the problems involved and what is required to solve them. Further investigations will be made and I am sure that as a result some very sound recommendations will be made. The Government will then take the matter from there. As I said when the Dairying Industry Bill was introduced, it was planned to complete the talks within 12 months. That is still our intention.
– My question, which is directed to the Acting Treasurer, is supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Scullin. Is it a fact that the Australian Government recently raised a loan in the United Kingdom at an interest rate of 7.1%? What is the general interest rate on loans raised in Australia?
– The rate on loans raised in Australia for domestic purposes has no relation to the international borrowing market in which many countries are engaged in trying to raise funds. Australia is one of the few countries that can raise them. Generally, the capital markets of the world are very tight. Capital is difficult to obtain and there is great competition for it. But
Australia emerges much better out of this competition than do other nations. Except in exceptional circumstances Australia is not an international lender and therefore there is here no prevailing interest rate for this kind of purpose. So no valid comparison can be made.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In reply to the last of a series of questions that I asked last sessional period about the activities of the joint Commonwealth-State officials committee on decentralisation, the right honourable gentleman stated that there had been numerous meetings of a technical working party and that a technical exercise was still proceeding. He also mentioned that the full committee might meet in the second half of this year. I ask: Has this meeting been held? If not, will the Prime Minister ask the committee to meet as a matter of urgency? Particularly, will he ascertain whether it is in a position to make some preliminary statement on this important matter?
– As the honourable gentleman will be aware, the committee is representative of the Commonwealth and State Governments. It was always appreciated that because it would deal with problems that had some novelty in that they were being approached on a national basis, reports would not be received by the respective Governments for some considerable time.
– The committee was appointed 3 years ago.
– This, I think, will answer the interjection by the honourable member for Bendigo. I want to make it clear that in the meantime policies favouring decentralisation have been pursued by this Government and by other governments. Indeed, in the course of the last week, as I have gone round Western Australia, I have seen more decentralisation activity than one would have found during the whole period in office of the party to which honourable gentlemen opposite belong. We have created a favourable economic climate that has encouraged enormous development and even the construction of new railways, port and harbour facilities, and complete townships and the provision of social facilities to a greater degree than anyone would previously have held out hope for.
– How much has this Government spent there? That is the point.
– More than Sim.
– Yes, much more than Sim. More than S5m has been spent on the Exmouth township alone. One could point to other developments such as the brigalow lands clearance scheme, the beef roads scheme, the standard railway arrangements, the special arrangement adopted for the reduction of the differential in the price of petrol in outlying regions compared with urban areas, the recommendations adopted as a result of the inquiries of the Loder Committee of Investigation into Transportation Costs in Northern Australia and a variety of other measures, all of which clearly show that we are not waiting to receive reports before taking action to promote decentralisation throughout Australia. However, I shall see whether I can get an up to the minute account for the honourable gentleman as to whether discussions have proceeded and when further meetings are likely to be held.
– I direct a question to you, Mr Speaker. Will you advise me as to the purpose of the colour scheme on members’ desks today - the myrtle coloured book on top of green blotting paper? I understand, Sir, that you are an Eastern Suburbs barracker. Is it your intention to commemorate the great victory of South Sydney in the New South Wales rugby league premiership last Saturday?
-I am naturally very pleased with the result of the rugby league competition but the document to which the honourable gentlemen refers, I think, is a publication sent out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Navy. I believe that the Navy has, over the years, produced a fortnightly news sheet, called ‘Navy News’, for distribution to naval establishments. Over the last 2 months has this been produced on a daily basis and sent by signal to all Royal Australian Navy ships and establishments? Is there a specific reason for this change to a daily publication, and has this ever been done in the past? Will the Minister make copies of these newspaper signals available in the Parliamentary Library so that any honourable members interested may inspect them?
– The honourable gentleman is correct when he says that for some years the Navy has issued a publication fortnightly entitled ‘Navy News’. To my knowledge the practice has not been varied in recent times, particularly in the last 2 months. What the honourable gentleman might be referring to is a daily communique that is sent to ships and other establishments in the Navy concerning the daily happenings of the present ‘Voyager’ Royal Commission which is inquiring into the Cabban allegations and in which all officers and men of the Royal Australian Navy are vitally interested, as the honourable gentleman would very quickly understand.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. In the document ‘Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1967-68’, which the Treasurer presented with the Budget, there is an account of the Victorian Government’s proposal of 3 years ago for a marginal State income tax, the Commonwealth’s objection to the tax and refusal to collect it, and the lack of support by the other States for the Victorian proposal. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether the Victorian Premier and Treasurer has consulted with him about the levy on wages which he announced in the State Budget last week, and in particular on the question of whether this levy - to quote the document on Commonwealth payments to or for the States - modifies the uniform taxation arrangements and provides a sound basis for future financial relationships between the Commonwealth and each of the States’.
– In view of the rather technical character of the honourable gentleman’s question I will treat it as being on notice and will give him a considered reply.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Army and refer to the relationship between Citizen Military Forces training and national service, the CMF being an alternative choice. I ask: Is there an equal obligation upon an employer to grant leave for CMF training camps and so forth? Where co-operation is not extended and young men may have to seek alternative employment because of their devotion to the Army, will the Army establishments pass on these details to the Department of Labour and National Service so that employers might be correctly educated?
-The honourable member is correct when he suggests that there is an obligation on employers in relation to CMF service. On occasions when difficulties do occur my Department maintains a close relationship with the Department of Labour and National Service which carries the prime responsibility in these matters. If the honourable gentleman has any specific instances in mind I shall be glad to hear of them.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Will he ascertain what progress has been made in the preparation of legislation to permit the issue of strata titles to owners of home units in the Australian Capital Territory? Does he recall that some 12 or 18 months ago his predecessor gave assurances mat it was then possible to prepare such legislation and that no further delay in the matter would be permitted?
– Draft proposals for legislation to deal with strata titles in the Australian Capital Territory, based on legislation in New South Wales and elsewhere, were prepared and submitted to the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council and the Department of the Interior which was principally responsible in this matter. The proposed legislation has not yet been completed. This matter has been under consideration. Various representations have been made. I anticipate that when these matters are settled, drafting can proceed and that it should then be only a short time before the legislation is brought into force.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Have - any of his colleagues who attended the opening of the North West Cape project at the town of Exmouth last weekend drawn his attention to the many uncomplimentary remarks and criticisms about his Department and the lack of proper postal facilities at Exmouth? Does he intend to expedite the building of a post office at that centre so as to alleviate the unsatisfactory and congested conditions which people suffer at the moment? If so, will he say when the post office building will be commenced and finished?
– No comments were passed on to me following the visit of various people to Exmouth recently. I do not know of any plan to erect a separate post office building in that area. My understanding of the position is that although present facilities are not completely adequate, having regard to the scarcity of funds for the Post Office, the present building at Exmouth will have to serve the people of the area for some time into the future.
Display of Australian Coat of Arms
– I ask you, Mr Speaker, a question about the coat of arms, which is not visible to you, on the chair which you occupy. I realise the value of that coat of arms in our links with the United Kingdom, but would it be possible to have displayed somewhere in this House an Australian coat of arms so that visitors coming here, particularly school children, might realise that we are part of the Australian Commonwealth?
-The suggestion was made to me some little time ago. Inquiries have been made regarding the matter. Subject to a satisfactory quotation being received and satisfactory craftsmanship being available, it is intended that a purely Australian coat of arms be placed within this chamber.
– I ask the Acting Treasurer a question. Was the Treasury consulted about the acquisition of a major shareholding in an Australian merchant bank by the Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. of New York? Did the Treasury approve the acquisition?
– Owing to my somewhat recent advent to the responsibility of Acting Treasurer I cannot answer the question at the moment. I will make inquiries and advise the honourable member.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether estimates are available for the final cost of the standard gauge railway in Western Australia. If so, what is the total capital cost requirement?
– The total cost of the standard gauge railway is estimated, on latest figures, to be about $130m. If there are any alterations to that figure I will advise the honourable member.
– On 5th September in this House I asked the Minister for External Affairs whether he could clarify reports of deteriorating diplomatic relations between Australia and Cambodia. The Minister will recall that in reply he said:
I would not concede that there has been recent deterioration in relations between Australia and Cambodia.
Why has the Cambodian Chief of State, Prince Sihanouk, since found it necessary to recall Cambodia’s Ambassador in Australia? Why has Prince Sihanouk found it necessary to accuse the Minister of discourtesy? In view of the Prime Minister’s repeated boasts of the close relations between Australia and Cambodia, and in particular between the Prime Minister and Prince Sihanouk, will the Minister endeavour to rectify this unfortunate and unnecessary breach?
– The only part of the honourable gentleman’s question with which I would agree was when he referred to this incident as an ‘unfortunate and unnecessary’ one. We agree completely. We find the attitude of the head of state of Cambodia, which is, of course, a matter entirely for his own responsibility, both unfortunate and unnecessary. I would correct the honourable gentleman in one respect. He said that Prince Sihanouk had complained of my discourtesy. He did not. He said that certain remarks that I had made were unacceptable. There has been an unfortunate tendency in the whole of this episode to change the meaning of words. For example, in a formal communication which I made to the Cambodian Ambassador in Canberra I expressed the disappointment of the Australian Government and, either because they cannot distinguish the meaning of words or because they had some other motive, a great number of the journalists who reported this reported ‘disappointment’ as having been an expression of anger. This does not make the path of diplomacy much smoother.
The occasion of the recent return of the Cambodian Ambassador to Phnom Penh was that it had been reported in the Press that a communication had been sent from Prince Sihanouk to students at the Monash University concerning their proposal to send aid to the National Liberation Front in Vietnam. I asked the Ambassador to call on me. He did so. As publicly stated subsequently by me, what transpired between the Ambassador and myself was this: I said to the Ambassador that in the view of the Australian Government his own conduct as Ambassador respecting this matter had been completely proper; that in the view of the Australian Government the statement which had been made over Radio Phnom Penh regarding this matter had been completely proper; but that we were rather concerned to notice the terms of this letter which had been published in the Australian Press.
We asked the Ambassador whether he would verify whether what had been published was true; and if it was true, to express to his Government our disappointment - and ‘disappointment’ was the word used and chosen by us with care - that at a time when this was a matter of internal politics in Australia, the head of state of Cambodia should have made public comment on it and communicated in similar circumstances with an Australian group about it. I said that quite properly the head of state of Cambodia could take exception if we - I myself, or the Prime Minister - had communicated with a political group in his country. We were disappointed to find that the condition of friendship which hitherto we had maintained on a foundation of respect for each other’s position had apparently been interrupted. At the same time we expressed the hope that our friendship could continue to exist as a foundation of respect for each other’s position - our respect for the neutrality of Cambodia, and Cambodia’s respect for our position in respect of hostilities in Vietnam.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. In so doing I refer to a question of mine some months ago which followed the viewing of a ‘Four Corners’ programme which covered various aspects of bedroom bugging and hearing devices used for the gathering of divorce evidence. The Minister at the time assured me that this would be raised at the meeting of State Attorneys-General which was to follow. I ask whether anything has as yet been done.
– I did place this topic on the agenda for the last meeting of Attorneys-General, and it was discussed. Concern was expressed by all Attorneys at the possibility of invasion of the privacy of the home. Difficulty was found in determining the best way to deal with this, whether to prohibit the use of such devices in the home or whether, by some means, to control them at the point of manufacture or trade distribution. It was decided to refer the matter to the officers in the departments of the various Attorneys. They are to report back to the next meeting of AttorneysGeneral. This has not yet been held, but I would hope to receive a report to be considered at the next meeting.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Defence Force Protection Bill 1957.
Commonwealth Prisoners Bill 1967.
Wireless Telegraphy Bill 1967.
Navigation Bill 1967.
Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1967.
Consideration resumed from 7 September (vide page 1011).
Department of the Treasury
Proposed expenditure, $347,346,000.
Advance to the Treasurer
Proposed expenditure, $20,000,000.
– I wish to address myself to one or two aspects of the estimates for the Department of the Treasury. The figure of$347m for the Treasury is considerably inflated by the presence of one single item, and that is $288m for payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve Trust Account. I suggest, in the interests of tidiness, that this item ought properly to be excised, as is the Advance to the Treasurer, so that we can consider the administrative aspects of the Treasury as distinct from the activities that are part of the manipulation of the debt arrangement of the Budget. I hope that the Acting Treasurer (Mr Bury) will note this point. At another stage I will talk about that Account, but it is not appropriate to do so at the moment.
I would like to draw attention to one or two aspects of the administration of the Treasury. Firstly, I want to be critical of the Treasurer for not presenting to the House some information which he obviously has. On another score, I want to criticise him for presenting material in a rather obscure fashion. 1 direct attention to something which is apparently in the possession of the Treasury and which it has chosen not to make public. This concerns the estimate, which the Treasurer obviously made in forming his Budget, of the anticipated gross national product for this financial year. In the course of his Budget Speech the Treasurer referred to defence expenditure which he described as being 5% of the anticipated gross national product at factor cost. In essence, the Treasurer must have made an estimate of the gross national product. It would seem he anticipated that in this financial year the gross national product would rise by about S2,000m. He anticipated that it would increase from the estimate in the White Paper of $22,700m to about $25,000m. What he did not say, of course, was how much of that would be made up by price increases or increased productivity.
I suggest that the Treasurer must have had certain assumptions in mind when he framed his Budget. A reading of the White
Paper on national income shows that the work force this financial year is going to increase by 2.75%. Also, the White Paper indicates that the gross national product will increase by about 9%. So, allowing for an increase in the work force, this will leave unaccounted for a 6% increase in the gross national product. This can be made up in two ways - by price increases or by an increase in productivity. I suggest that it is about time the Treasury began to chance its arm a little more in regard to the future of the economy. It may well be that if the Treasury makes a forecast which turns out to be wrong, ft will be criticised because it made a mistake. On the other hand, the whole tone of the Budget was that the Treasurer hoped that private enterprise, and particularly what is called private investment, would be optimistic about the future. What could be more optimistic than to suggest to businessmen that in the course of the coming financial year the gross turn over of the nation would increase by some $2,000m? This would seem to me to be a much more psychological and effective device than the Treasurer’s exhortations.
A forecast must be made in the Treasury about national income in the coming year. We cannot estimate, for instance, what tax yields are likely to be in the coming year unless some forecast is made of Treasury views. Certainly, we must have some information about wages. I believe that the Treasury must also make assumptions about the other components of national income. Therefore, I suggest that if we claim to have a sophisticated kind of economy - and I think we can - there should be earlier forecasting of the outcome of economic measures than is currently the case. 1 wish to refer now to one of the documents that have accompanied the Budget during the last 3 or 4 years. It is the document known as the ‘Supplement to the Treasury Information Bulletin’ and its title is ‘National Accounting Estimates of Public Authority Receipts and Expenditure*. When this document was first produced some years ago it was hailed as an enlightened new piece of documentation. The first thing I would like to draw attention to is the very small type in which it is printed. Why is it not printed in larger type - for instance the same type as is used for the Budget Speech? At my time of life I cannot read quite as easily as I could some years ago and I find some difficulty with this document. Worse still, there are rather important footnotes which are almost unreadable without the aid of a magnifying glass.
– The honourable member may be the first to have read it.
– Perhaps I am. I will not be critical about the contents because I am trying to give the document a boost. But I do suggest that both the text and the footnotes be printed in larger type.
When this document was first presented it brought into the discussion of the Budget a term which has now become almost a piece of jargon or a term of art. I refer to the concept known as the net increase in government indebtedness. I do not know how many people in this chamber have taken the trouble to look at what this term of art is supposed to mean. According to some writers on this subject, the proper way to evaluate a budget these days is not in terms of the cash accounts but by reference to this rather peculiar description - the net increase in government indebtedness. That may be the opinion of certain people outside of this Parliament but it does not appear to me to be the opinion of the writers of this document. The last three or four issues show a fairly subtle shift of ground on the part of the writers.
I suggest that the document is a good example of where the so-called practical men and the theorists are supposed to meet. To my mind the meeting between practical men and theorists is not of much account if the theorists cannot make themselves comprehensible. With all respect to those who have compiled this document and whatever their motives may have been, I suggest that they can scarcely be said to have made the document comprehensible. Looking back I doubt that they have made it consistent either. It should both be consistent and comprehensible it it is to be of any value in trying to appraise properly the role of the Budget. I do not think anybody can deny that spelt out somewhere in this document are statements about the proper role of the Budget. Surely where the Commonwealth Government is responsible for spending about $6,500m and raising about 56,000m of it by taxes and other anticipatable loans, nobody can suggest that what the Budget does is not of great significance. I think it is a mistake to suggest that its true significance is properly appraised at some fairly marginal sum of S400m or $500m. With all respect I suggest that the compilers of this document seem originally to have fallen into that error. Because there has been some criticism of that appraisal they have tended to whittle away the original assumption, almost to the point where they seem to me to be saying that every dollar that the Government spends has an expansionary effect and every dollar that the Government collects has a deflationary effect.
Once we start to get down to that kind of minute analysis we make nonsense of any sort of appraisal of public accounts. Although a person who receives a payment from a Government source may not care much whether the dollar comes from somebody else’s tax, from some public loan or from some credit expansion, surely it matters to the community as a whole where the money comes from and how taxes are raised. Equally, on the other side, I think it matters greatly where expenditure is finally incurred and for what purpose, whether it is for capital expenditure, for social welfare or for something of that kind. I suggest that next year whoever compiles this document or is responsible for it should attempt to present it in language which is a little more comprehensible. I suggest also that it is about time that the Treasurer and the Treasury began to make available in more popular form some of the information that it has. I do not believe that what governments do can be properly understood unless an attempt is made to convey it in reasonably simple language. I realise that complicated matters cannot always be oversimplified; nevertheless, I think it is incumbent on the Government at least to present documents in basic English rather than in economic jargon. I would not like to have this document examined very closely for its style.
– It is not jargon.
– The Minister says that it is not so. To draw this matter to his attention I ask him to look at table 5 on page 15 which is headed ‘Increases in Holdings of Government Securities Redeemable in Australia’ and then refer to some of the text material in section 5 which is headed
Analysis of Changes in Volume of Money’. I must confess that it took me a long time to relate the last two paragraphs of section 5 dealing with ‘Analysis in Changes of Volume of Money’ to table 5. I suggest that there is room for improvement in the terminology of table 5 and also the language in which that section has been expressed.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. W. C. Haworth) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It has become the custom in Government and in administration for people to say: ‘We could find the money but Treasury has vetoed the expenditure.’ This creates a frustration which makes one wonder just what happens in the Treasury. In line with what I said when speaking to the estimates for the Parliament I suggest that the reason is that Parliament is situated here at Canberra and because the Treasury is situated here and its officers work and live here. In this place we are about 60 miles from the east coast of Australia and 2,500 miles from the far corners of Australia. The result is that officers in the Department of the Treasury can become a little one-eyed. It is natural for one to be interested in where his money is being spent, even if he does not express any interest. People who live in this antiseptic monument with its well kept lawns and flowering shrubs might be forgiven for forgetting that they live in a part of Australia and are subject to close scrutiny from people outside Canberra. Although the temperature here today is 52 degrees, in Darwin and at Exmouth which we visited on Saturday it is about 90 degrees. When I say that we visited Exmouth I should explain that apart from the member for the district, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), I was the only private member of the House of Representatives to attend. All other honourable members were, like the Treasury, residing in this tiny corner of Australia.
I suggest that something is lacking in the Treasury estimates. In one part of the estimates we find a reference to salaries and allowances for the Treasury, including officers of the Taxation Branch, amounting to about $1Om, but in another section of the estimates appear administration expenses which do not seem to be very big. How can we run Australia properly if officers of the Treasury reside here in Canberra, it has been said that within IS years that part of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn will earn an export income of $3,000m or $4,000m, which is as much as our present export income for the whole of Australia. Australia is the world’s fifth largest trading nation. In order to do their work properly Treasury officers should be encouraged to travel to the places that they are administering. But what happens now? When a submission goes from the Parliament or the Executive to Treasury the officer at Treasury has to rely on reports from other Departments relating to the financial aspects of the matter. Then he submits his recommendation to the Treasurer. I am very glad that the Acting Treasurer (Mr Bury) is now in the chamber to hear this.
When the officer makes a submission to the Treasurer on something which might be urgent or even vital to Australia the proposal may be rejected because the officer who has made the recommendation lives and works in Canberra and has to rely on information in the papers that are available to him. This officer, working in a cold room, without even a picture on the wall and perhaps a couple of typewriters somewhere over in the corner of the office, decides that the proposal cannot be approved because we cannot afford it. Some big things are happening in Australia. At the moment our mineral industries earn $300m annually and the industries are moving ahead so quickly that no statistician can keep his records up to date. They are always at least 12 months behind. At the weekend the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) visited Kambalda which is the world’s largest producer of nickel. I believe also that he has visited Mount Tom Price, which is one of a dozen big iron ore producing areas. The tremendous size of some of these undertakings baffles the imagination. Yet our Treasury officers remain immured, cabined and confined in little brick or concrete rooms near here in a building called West Block.
– The honourable member is out of date; they have moved to a new building.
– They have moved to some new building, a mountain of aluminium and glass, which has been erected on this sheep station which is the bush capital. Now at least they can look out on the swamp we have made here - I am sorry, the lake - and which we hoped to keep free of mosquitoes, but we were unlucky.
It is clear, Mr Deputy Chairman and honourable members, that the whole concept is completely one-eyed. We must change this situation immediately. We must let these economists, brilliant men as they are - and we have in Australia the best in the world - see what is going on in Australia. Let them follow the example of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) himself. 1 understand he went to the Ord River. 1 had the honour of visiting the Ord River in company with the Acting Treasurer when he was a private member. He came to this place after having had considerable experience as an executive director, representing Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, at the International Bank in Washington. He looked at the Ord River development and said: ‘This will not pay.’ Two hours later he started to feel the situation and he said: ‘But the work will have to go on.’ I have not his permission to quote his remarks and I do so only to illustrate what happens when a person sees what is going on. If he does not see it he will never gain an appreciation of it.
The same kind of criticism can be made of the Parliament itself. It resides here in the tiniest of corners of this continent. If we study the map and draw a line from Sydney to Melbourne we find Canberra in that tiny corner. Of course 80 of the 123 members of the Parliament have their attention focused on Sydney and Melbourne, and Treasury thinking, no matter how brilliant the submissions that are made to it, must be affected by its surroundings - by its location. When the tug of war took place between Sydney interests and Melbourne interests to determine where the federal capital should be, the result was that it was located approximately half way between the two cities, and all our financial interests are located, and all our investment is being made - or the bulk of it - in this tiny southeastern corner of the continent.
So, Mr Deputy Chairman, it is obvious that the Treasury officers should be encouraged to go into these rugged areas - they are not quite so rugged now because in the last 8 years there has been a phenomenal and fantastic change in our booming frontier areas. As recently as the last few weeks some well known interests have established at Port Hedland, Darwin and other places the best motels, places of relaxation and places to live in that human ingenuity can devise. It is not so bad now on the sand dunes above the Indian Ocean, with the silver moonlight shining across the warm, dry area.
– The honourable member is waxing lyrical,
– The honourable member for Mitchell may not have been there lately. He went with me on one occasion, but I think the motels were not established then. The honourable member would not have been so lyrical two years ago as he would be today because a good deal has happened since he went there previously. I hope to take him again and bring him lyrically up to date on the things that are going on.
I am resentful, I am irritated and I am unhappy because this Parliament and this Treasury cannot see what is happening. The Prime Minister waxed lyrical last Friday and Saturday at Exmouth Gulf, at Kambalda, at Port Hedland and at Mount Tom Price, when he saw what was happening. He spoke of the effect of this fantastic development on our balance of payments. The Treasury officers can read this in a newspaper called the ‘West Australian’, which published reports of the Prime Minister’s visit last Friday and Saturday. I have clippings from that newspaper before me at the present time. The Prime Minister has realised what a vital difference this expansion has made to Australia’s balance of payments situation which, after all, decides the level of our affluence. It decides whether we can pay for our imports.
The Prime Minister has made these comments but I fear that when he comes back he will be told by these brilliant men who now occupy the glass-panelled rooms looking over Lake Burley Griffin: ‘Ah, yes, but there is a subsidy involved’, or that there is something else to deter development. These men are quite unaffected by the glamour and the fantastic excitement attendant upon the development that is taking place in these new areas. They do not see the demeanour of the people involved, the people who have actually carried out the development under most rugged conditions, the people who have been producing the iron ore or establishing the new fishing industry which will be of such importance. They do not appreciate fully the tremendous boom that must take place in the beef industry as a result of the increase in prices from $15 a beast to $60 and even §100 for the big ones. They do not fully comprehend the growing demand for grain when Japan runs out of stock feed. Japan is beginning to feel the pinch and will shortly be needing the grain that can be produced in these areas where there is ample water available. If the Treasury men were to visit this part of Australia they would understand that as expansion takes place water will be the limiting factor, but they would find that there is no limit on the water available in the north because that part of Australia has the benefit of the monsoon season. There is more water in the Kimberleys than in the whole of the Darling-Murray basin in which we live. There is ample water throughout the north to sustain the growth of many products which grow exceedingly well there.
– Do not forget the Daly River.
– Yes, there is the Daly River in the constituency of the honourable member, where 13,100 acres of sorghum is being grown. Let us list the other developmental possibilities. The fishing industry in the north has a tremendous potentiality. Then there are many kinds of minerals, bauxite, iron ore-
– Nickel does not occur quite so far north. I do not think the Treasury officials have been to Kambalda where the greatest nickel producer in the world is exploiting the deposits. All these developments will mean a fabulously increased income for Australia. But there must be no frustration stemming from reports by Treasury men based probably on fairly stale statistics. Statistics have a tendency to fall behind the booming speed of events in places such as those I am speaking of.
So I hope that in next year’s Estimates we will see a fairly significant amount of money set aside to enable Treasury officers to get out of this place and see the real Australia which is going ahead with such phenomenal speed.
– I agree with many of the remarks of the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) about the development of the Ord River and the northern areas generally. I dealt with this subject during the Budget debate, and I think it would be more appropriate to deal with it under the estimates for the Department of National Development than those of the Treasury. If I get an opportunity I will say something about this important subject when those estimates are being debated. At the present time we are discussing expenditure of $347.3m by the Treasury, and I regret that there is no mention in these estimates for any amount for Commonwealth workers’ compensation. I am gravely concerned at the lack of consideration shown by the Commonwealth Government and the Treasury to Commonwealth employees. I refer particularly to the procrastination that has taken place with regard to promised amendments of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. While the Government dithers about introducing important amending legislation that is necessary, Commonwealth employe-;s who are injured and the families of those who are killed while at work are suffering dreadful financial loss compared to their counterparts in the various States.
The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act was last amended in 1964. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), who led for the Opposition in the debate on the amending measure, formally proposed some very important amendments, but did not press them to a vote because he received from the present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), who was then Treasurer, an assurance that his proposed amendments would be considered during the next parliamentary recess. I emphasise that this was in 1964. As recorded at page 2819 of Hansard of 11th November 1964, the Prime Minister, referring to the honourable member for Hindmarsh, said:
He has circulated a considerable number of amendments. 1 had already taken the opportunity of studying them and I was in a position to assure him that these matters would be further considered during the forthcoming recess.
At the same page of Hansard, the honourable member for Hindmarsh is reported as having said: 1 now intimate, on behalf of my colleagues, that we shall merely propose our amendments in order that they may be officially recorded, but we shall not press to a division the vote on any of them. May 1 express our appreciation of the Treasurer’s handling of the situation.
From then on, the proceedings developed as if this were a sort of mutual admiration society. The honourable member for Hindmarsh complimented the Treasurer of the time and the right honourable gentleman congratulated the honourable member. And so it went on. The only ones who were left out on a limb were the employees of the Commonwealth Public Service and their families. How sadly they were disillusioned. The Opposition and the workers were misled. We are still waiting for the amendments which were promised and which were to be studied during the Christmas recess in 1964. The matter has since been raised many times by way of questions. On 1st September 1965, the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) raised it and received this reply from the present Prime Minister who, as I have said, was then Treasurer:
In accordance with the assurances given during the debates on the 1964 Bill, the amendments circulated by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and all other matters raised in the Parliament in the course of those debates are being carefully examined. lt is anticipated that recommendations regarding not only those proposals, but also a number of administrative and structural amendments that have been under consideration, will be submitted to the Government at an early date.
The honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) raised the matter on 14th March 1967. In reply, the present Treasurer (Mr McMahon), who, unfortunately, is absent from the Parliament at present, said: 1 have recently been assured that within the course of the next few days I will have a submission ready for Cabinet. I hope then to be able to introduce a Bill into the House, not in the next four weeks that the House is sitting but certainly :n the autumn sessional period.
I raised the matter on 16th May and was advised: the necessary amending legislation will be introduced during the Budget session of Parliament.
To crown it all, the honourable member for Bonython repeated his question on 7th September. He asked:
In view of the fact that no general review of this legislation has taken place since 1959 will the Parliament be given the opportunity to consider the legislation this year?
The Treasurer replied:
Mr Speaker, I hope so.
He said it very sarcastically. What sort of an answer is that to a question on an important issue such as this? In view of the promises that have been made, the Treasurer should have been in a position to say whether amending legislation will be introduced in the current sessional period. I ask honourable members to bear in mind that it is nearly 3 years since the Treasurer of the day promised that it would be introduced.
When the last amendments were made in 1964, they were out of date before the amending Bill had been passed by this House. Since then, every State Act has been amended to provide for improved workers compensation benefits for State employees. The only Acts that remain out of date are the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act and the other compensation legislation under Commonwealth jurisdiction, such as the Seamen’s Compensation Act. This is to the eternal discredit of the Commonwealth Government and clearly demonstrates its disregard of the interests of its own employees. Moreover, it is in keeping with its disregard of the interests of workers generally. Commonwealth legislation, instead of lagging behind that of the States, should lead the way. For many years it did lead in this field, but that was in the dim and distant past. I do not want to go into a lot of detail in making comparisons with State Acts. Let me just give a few illustrations. Weekly payments for the spouse and children of a breadwinner who is totally incapacitated are lower under the provisions of the Commonwealth Act than under the provisions of any of the State Acts. Only one State measure provides for medical benefits lower than those provided for in the Commonwealth legislation, and the same is true of funeral allowance rates. Artificial limbs and eyes, other artificial aids such as spectacles and false teeth, and compensation for damage to clothing are provided for in most of the State Acts but not in the Commonwealth Act.
I have with me a letter from a Commonwealth employee who was off duty for some weeks with a hernia. I do not want to quote it but I shall recount its salient features. This man received in compensation $25.60 a week, or $51.20 fortnightly, whereas his normal fortnightly rate of pay was $93.09. He states that his average actual wage was in fact $110 a fortnight. He points out that he lost $41.89 a fortnight, or a total of $125.67 for the 6 weeks during which he was off duty. Compared to his average earnings, he lost a total of $176.40. Such a loss of earnings can be a tremendous setback to a married man who has commitments for a home and furniture. When his earnings are cut, he is placed in a serious financial position. Hire purchase firms have still to be paid and mortgages have to be met. The normal period off duty with a hernia is 3 months, Mr Deputy Chairman. But after 6 weeks, the writer of this letter had to go off compensation and take accumulated sick leave in order to pay his way. He was entitled to stay on workers compensation for three months, but the compensation payments were inadequate to enable him to pay his way and he had to take sick leave that had accumulated during his service. This means that if he has a long illness in future his available sick leave may not be enough.
A worker injured in the course of his duty should receive compensation at least equivalent to his average weekly earnings or his award rate of pay. He should not lose financially. No worker or his dependants should be expected to live at a standard lower than that at which they lived before he became incapacitated. Why should medical expenses be limited to a total of $1,000, as they are under the terms of the Commonwealth Act? There should be no limit, as is the case with some of the State Acts. There should be no limit on the funeral allowance payable in respect of a worker killed on duty. The Act should provide for the payment of costs of cremation, if that is desired. On 15th August last, I received from the Prime Minister a reply to a question on notice that I had addressed to him earlier. It was in these terms:
The Prime Minister replied:
The provision of compensation for the large majority of employees in Australia is governed by State legislation and the question of coordination is primarily a matter for the States.
What sort of an answer is that to a question so important as this, more especially when it dealt with a matter that was raised by a well known judge? Judge McGrath, addressing the Industrial Relations Society of New South Wales, pointed out that the position was highlighted when major building projects or undertakings were situated close to State borders. Workmen on the same project doing the same job could be differently compensated for the same injuries, depending on which law was applicable. He said:
This type of situation made the least beneficial or narrow legislation appear strikingly anomalous.
Some of the anomalies were outlined by him. He said that many workers covered by the laws of one State were not workers covered by the legislation of other States or of the Commonwealth. He said there were many differences in the substantial benefits. He said that many differences existed in procedure. He said that many systems, including the Commonwealth system dealt with compensation administratively and only came to court on appeal, and that those where disputed compensation claims came directly to a court involved a totally different approach. He suggested that there should be a specialised body to handle them. His Honour pointed out that the only argument against uniformity of benefit and payments could be costs. But he answered this by suggesting that the success of the insurance arrangements under the New South Wales Act was sufficient to demonstrate that the insurance community was capable of providing total coverage at premium rates, governed by the New South Wales Act and scheme, which were sufficiently remunerative to ensure continued competition for this type of insurance business. This clearly indicates that the insurance companies were able to make a profit under the New South Wales Act, which is one of the best Acts. He pointed out that insurance companies were still carrying workers compensation risks at a profit. I suggest that this applies in all States where all insurance companies from which information can be obtained are showing handsome profits on workers com pensation. Yet the Prime Minister, when he was asked to arrange for the Premiers to discuss the question of a co-ordination of these Acts, replied in the manner he did to my question a few weeks ago.
The Treasurer should be ashamed of himself for the cavalier manner in which he treated the question from the honourable member for Bonython last Thursday week. It was a serious question drawing attention to previous promises that had been made regarding amendments to the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act - promises extending over a period of nearly three years. When he was asked if amendments were to be brought down this session he said in an off-hand manner, as those present will remember, ‘I hope so’ and left it at that. This is not good enough, lt does not satisfy members on this side of the chamber, it certainly does not satisfy Commonwealth employees, it does not satisfy the trade union movement and it should not satisfy Government members.
– We are discussing the estimates for the Department of the Treasury and the Advance to the Treasurer. We are grateful to that body of men which is responsible for preparing the mechanics of the Budget we have before us. I want to refer to one particular aspect which needs to be raised, and that is the question of estate duty. We note from the estimates of receipts for this year that estate duty is expected to bring $41. 5m. I submit that it is now time for the rates of estate duty to be reviewed with a view to securing two results: Firstly, a general reduction applying to all, for reasons which I will give in a moment and, secondly, a special scale applicable to those engaged in primary industry. Honourable members may note -three things here: Firstly, I do not speak of any abolition of this particular tax. If people are thinking of abolishing taxes there are two other things I should like to see abolished before estate duty. One is the means test, and the other is payroll tax. However, that is part of another story. Secondly, I believe in the need for a review of estate duty to all income earners. Finally, I have, in effect, foreshadowed the special needs of the man on the land. Time does not permit me to break this down still further, but in considerations of this nature we should not forget another most important section of the community - those individual business men or women who have capital invested in this free enterprise country of ours. It could be the lady with a frock shop, the butcher, the proprietor of a corner store, the retailer of marine equipment or the merchant. This is a very necessary body of people who have the qualifications to get out and have a go on their own.
To illustrate the need for a differentiation, let me mention two things. Let us take the wage and salary earner for a start. If we look at the latest report from the Commissioner of Taxation, the greatest number of income earners is to be found in the S2.000 to $3,999 bracket. The next greatest number is in the immediately lower bracket of $1,000 to $1,999. The peopleand I make a very wide generalisation here which is always dangerous but 1 do it to make an illustration - in the $2,000 to $3,999 income bracket could be regarded, at the end of their lifetime, as having probably paid for a home, furniture and personal effects, a car, and as having some investment in shares or other form of savings, although not a large amount on today’s values. They would not have a very big estate. On the other hand, the primary producer, in order to earn, say $3,000 a year, which is almost the mid-way figure in that income bracket, would need to have a capital investment of some $67,000. J quote here from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics figures on returns on capital investment and I am using capital values instead of land values. This primary producer would not be money wealthy, but he could be asset wealthy. So, bringing together the two who have an equivalent annual income, the beneficiary of the wage or salary earner would pay estate duty on a limited figure whereas the beneficiary of the primary producer, who had a great capital investment for a similar annual return, would pay estate duty on $67,000. Anybody who has any knowledge at all of the land will realise that one could not get much of a living area for $67,000. I claim that estate duty is, in effect, a levy on capital. Not only is it a levy on capital but it is a levy on capital which has been used from year to year to produce income from year to year on which income tax has been payable.
To keep this matter in some sort of perspective, let us examine the income earners of the Commonwealth last year. Income tax, in all its forms, was the highest income earner for the Commonwealth; then followed excise revenue, Post Office revenue, sales tax proceeds, customs revenue, payroll tax and, seventh in order, estate duty. To make a comparison, I point out that estate duty represents less than 24% - less than one-quarter - of payroll tax, which is the immediately higher income earner. The significant factor - and this is why 1 feel there is room for manoeuvring without making a great impact on the overall budget figure - is that estate duty represents less than 1% of the total national revenue. If I remember the figures correctly, estate duty accounts for about $41 m of a total revenue of $5,227m. On a quick calculation I would say that that would be about .8%, which is not a big proportion.
I think I have shown that estate duty has a minor impact on government revenues but it is of major importance, sometimes to the extent of being disastrous, to the man on the land. I concede that theoretically a man may, during his lifetime, make provision for the payment of probate but this is not so easily done in practice. One of the major ways in which a man may arrange for the payment of probate on his estate is by taking out insurance. Rut there are two things against insurance. One is the danger of inflation. No matter what government has been in power in any country, there has always been a measure of inflation. An accountant will admit that it is actuarially impossible for a man to take out adequate insurance early in his lifetime, when premiums are comparatively low, in order to meet the probate on his estate. The second thing about insurance - this is a particularly bad feature - is that the value of the insurance is included in the estate. So we have the rather remarkable position that ultimately the estate pays probate on the value of the insurance which a man may have taken out in order to pay probate. What 1 have said surely illustrates that there is a need to look into this problem.
For the primary producer I put forward two solutions. It is easy to criticise here or anywhere else; instead I propose two solutions. The first is that we should make a thorough study of the British system. The second is that we should do something about the value, for probate purposes, of fodder conserved by the man on the land. This second aspect is of minor importance compared with the first, but is nonetheless a very real factor. The difficulty is caused by the violent fluctuations in the value of fodder conserved, whether it be hay, grain or anything else. When the fodder is put into conservation it is put in at cost. If the primary producer happens to die in a time of plenty his estate is not severely hit so far as the value of fodder conserved is concerned. But if he dies during a drought and has in conservation 500 or 1,000 tons of fodder, his estate is heavily taxed on the value of that fodder. This is something which acts to the detriment of fodder conservation. I leave the matter there because I would rather deal with the major aspect of the British system. I have before me a publication prepared by the British Information Services in Australia. A table in that publication shows that in Britain one must have an estate valued at between £Stg5,000 and £Stg6,000 before one is involved in estate duty of 1%. However, I do not want to compare the rates of duty in Britain with those operating in Australia, because at the higher end of the scale we in Australia are more fortunate than are persons in Britain. What is important in my view is the manner in which rates of duty are assessed in Britain. On this matter the publication to which I have referred states:
The rates of duty are reduced by 45 per cent in the case of the agricultural value of agricultural property and certain industrial premises, and plant and machinery.
This provision is augmented in the 100th report of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, which reads:
There is a special scale of lower rates of estate duty in respect of the agricultural value of agricultural property. In the case of deaths after 29th July 1948 the relief operates by way of a reduction of 45 per cent of the normal rate of du’y.
What does that mean? It means in effect that your valuations are not altered. No matter how an income is derived, the valuations remain unchanged. Apparently it is realised in Britain that at some times and in some areas false values are placed on agricultural land. This problem is overcome by declaring a differential, which Parliament has the power from time lo time to alter to meet existing circumstances. I think it is fair to point out that our laws in Australia provide relief and some form of palliative for people who make bequests or gifts to certain organisations such as public or non-profit hospitals and benevolent institutions. There is also in our legislation a diminishing statutory exemption. This is applied with the idea of providing relief for small estates. This is a very good provision in our taxation laws. It also discriminates in favour of estates which pass to close relatives and particularly to lineal descendants.
I think I am correct in saying that the general rate of estate duty - I do not now refer to minor provisions - has not been changed since 1941. I submit that now is the time, particularly so far as the man on the land is concerned, to look to the next Budget in order to see whether the British system might have some application to estate duty as it is levied in Australia. I do not suggest that the British system should be adopted in its entirety, because obviously conditions in Australia are different from those which exist in Britain but I submit that the differential system applied to agricultural values is something which might be examined by the Treasury, whose estimates we are now considering. I had intended to refer to certain other matters. Unfortunately, I do not have time to do this. If time is available to me later I will seek the opportunity to speak again.
– As honourable members will be aware, our income tax legislation permits a taxpayer to claim as a deduction from his assessable income expenses incurred by himself and his dependants for medical, dental, optical and certain other treatment provided that the payments were made to a legally qualified medical practitioner, dentist or other person. A taxpayer is also entitled to claim deductions in respect of hospital expenses incurred by himself and his dependants. These deductions are not made from the tax otherwise payable by the taxpayer; they are made from the assessable income. In my opinion this is not proper. I will refer to this matter again later.
The point I deal with immediately is that existing legislation with regard to expenses incurred for medical and hospital treatment falls far short of what is required in that it fails to allow any deduction in respect of expenses incurred by the taxpayer in transporting himself or his dependants to a hospital or doctor for treatment. A taxpayer is entitled to claim a deduction of a few dollars which he may have paid to a doctor for treatment received but he cannot claim one cent of the expenses incurred in travelling to the doctor’s surgery in order to receive the treatment. Transport costs of this nature can be considerable, particularly if the person concerned has to travel by aircraft. I think you, Mr Deputy Chairman, will agree that it is no exaggeration to claim that in the outback areas, particularly in the north of Australia and more particularly still in the far north, a man travelling to a hospital to obtain medical attention for a serious illness could be involved in an expenditure of a couple of hundred dollars or more. In the first place it could mean a very long trip by road to the nearest doctor or hospital. A trip of a couple of hundred miles would not be extraordinary in some areas. It certainly would not be extraordinary in my particular electorate.
That travel, in itself, could cost several dollars. It could easily be that that would not be the end of it because the doctor or hospital at the nearest point may not be able to cope with the patient’s particular illness. If this were the case it would mean that further travel by rail, road or air would be necessary so that the patient could reach a larger town where a doctor or proper medical facilities were available. But the position could be even worse if it happened to be a very serious or complicated case where specialist treatment was required. It could mean that the taxpayer would have to travel anything up to 1,500 miles or even further by air to get to a capital city where proper treatment was available. Yet when these things happen and these people have to meet these formidable accounts they cannot claim lc as a taxation deduction.
In many cases the cost of transport would be considerably more than the cost of the actual treatment. But even so, it must be remembered that the transport itself has been necessary so that the patient could receive treatment which could save his life or at least could save him from a very serious and long illness. Yet notwithstanding the necessity for the transport, under the existing legislation the taxpayer concerned is able to claim only the very minor cost of the treatment. He is not able to claim the major cost of .it. The fact that transport costs are not a deductible item may be of little, if any, concern to people residing in the capital cities, because in practically every instance the medical or hospital treatment that they would require would be readily available. As a result of this, transport costs would be nil or practically nil. But even so, if a taxi or rail fare has to be paid, that should also be included as a deductible item for taxation purposes. But in addition, the person in the city has a distinct advantage over people in other areas. For instance, if a doctor is called to visit a person at home and the doctor makes a charge in which is included something for his time and also the cost of his travel, because this is a charge by the doctor the taxpayer concerned is entitled to claim the full amount of the doctor’s account as a taxation deduction.
So we have the rather ridiculous situation, as I see it, where travel by the doctor is allowed as a taxable deduction but travel by the patient is not covered at all. Certainly in most cases in the country, anyway, it would be the patient and not the doctor who would do the travelling. The further people are away from medical and hospital facilities, the greater their worry that sickness or accident will occur necessitating a visit to a doctor or hospital. The fact of being faced with considerable transport costs, particularly where the financial circumstances are not good, can quite easily cause a delay which in turn can result in serious illness or even a fatality. These are the things that we should be considering and trying to ensure that they do not occur. I realise, of course, that an amendment to the Income Tax Act to allow deductions for transport costs is not the complete answer. The cost should also be recognised under the National Health Act. But at least if the transport costs were included under the Income Tax Act it would be a very considerable help. Also, it is only proper and fair that we should place the country dweller on a more equal footing with the people in the city. I would ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) who is at the table, or whichever Minister replies to this debate, to give us some idea of the Government’s intention in this regard.
I wish to raise a further matter relating to existing income tax conditions. I refer to the taxing of a district allowance which is paid to workers in certain areas of Australia for the purpose of offsetting, to some extent, the cost of living in those areas as compared with the lower cost in the capital city or in some other town in which the costs have been determined. The amounts paid have, in the majority of cases, been determined by an arbitration court or commission or some other such body after having heard argument and taken evidence for and against the proposition. Therefore I think it can be fairly said that the amounts paid are well and truly justified. It must be remembered that the court or commission is not able, nor would it attempt, to determine what amount of the district allowance would be gathered by way of tax. Because of the justification for the allowance and the reason why it is granted I suggest that it should not be subjected to taxation. After all, it cannot be described as something extra which the worker actually receives for himself above that received by workers in certain other areas. The worker and his family receive no benefit from the money paid by way of district allowance. Unfortunately the allowance, in addition to an amount of other money, goes to meet the higher cost of living in the areas in which the allowance is paid.
For instance, a person who receives, say $4 a week as district allowance is no better off if he has to pay $16 for a basket of goods that can be bought for $12 in a capital city where no district allowance is paid. After all, the fact that he has to pay that additional $4 is the reason why he receives that amount in district allowance. That is why the court or commission in its wisdom decided that he should be paid $4 in addition to his normal wage - $4 above the wage which is paid where the cost of living is $4 less. Surely under those cir cumstances there can be no just reason why that allowance should be taxable. I want to give an example of the effect of taxing the district allowance. I suggest this proves quite conclusively that it is completely unfair to tax the district allowance when we consider what the allowance is granted for. Let us take a man who receives $300 per year district allowance, which is near enough to $4 a week to which I have referred, and who, after all deductions have been made from his actual income, finishes up with a taxable income of $2,500. If his actual income does not reach that figure he has not been living too well in the area in which the allowance has been paid. Under the existing taxation conditions that man would be obliged to pay $231 in taxation. But if the $300 district allowance were not subject to tax - if that also were an allowable deduction from his gross income - he would pay only $162, which would be a difference of $69 or more than one-fifth of the total district allowance.
So by taxing the allowance the Government is taking from that man and his family a rather large part of the money which the court or commission in its wisdom decided he should have to help span the difference in living costs. The Government by taxing those allowances is denying the people concerned the right to live at a cost somewhere about the same as that of people in the city. The person to whom I referred who pays $69 of his allowance in tax is placed in a situation where, although the arbitration court or commission has decided his needs and just rights, he must accept a living standard of something over ti a week less than what his counterpart in the city enjoys. It is quite unfair and wrong to tax such things as district allowances. Again I ask the Minister for the Interior who is at the table to give this matter some consideration.
We have a similar situation with regard to rent allowances, which are paid in some instances. The rent for housing commission homes in most parts of the north of Western Australia - and this may apply to other parts of Australia - is calculated as a percentage of the income of the person concerned. If ne is on a low income he pays less rent than he would pay if he were on a high income. I am not certain that the rents are, in fact, adjusted by this method, but at least they could be. At one centre in the north at least, the rent for a housing commission home is about $17 a week, irrespective of income, but the employees receive an additional amount in their pay packets as a rent allowance, no doubt in an attempt to make up the difference between the rents charged at that centre and those charged in Perth. Here again, when arriving at the amount of the allowance, no thought has been given to the effect of taxation on the allowance. But the fact is that, like the district allowance, the rent allowance is taxable and it loses part of its value. Again, like the district allowance, the extent of the reduction of the value of the rent allowance depends on the income of the taxpayer. So here we have an allowance granted for the specific purpose of putting the taxpayer on a more equitable footing with people elsewhere, but the Government, by its taxing method, simply reduces the standard that the taxpayer otherwise would have.
In the short time I have left, 1 wish to make a few remarks about injustices that are imposed on many people through the sales tax laws. I refer particularly to purchasers or consumers in the country and outback areas of Australia. They ari obliged to pay a larger amount of sales tax on all taxable articles than is paid by people who purchase the articles in areas close to or at the place of manufacture or importation. My inquiries reveal that sales tax is applied to tha wholesale price of an article. With the addition of railway freights, shipping freights and other transport costs, the wholesale price of an article in one place can be much higher than it is in another. Sales tax is calculated as a percentage of the wholesale price and it naturally follows that the amount of sales tax is higher in one place than in another and that some consumers pay a larger amount than others do. This is an unreal, improper and unfair method of gathering revenue.
The consumer not only pays more for an article but sometimes must also buy more of them, so there is a double effect. Many taxable articles, such as motor tyres, motor parts and even motor cars, do not have the same life in the outback areas where roads are rough as they do in areas where the roads are in better condition. To my mind, sales tax in any form is an inequitable method of raising revenue, but apparently the Government is wedded to it. Even so, the whole system needs overhauling to iron out anomalies such as those that I have mentioned. There seems to be no reason why sales tax cannot be related to the article itself instead of to the price of the article.
– I have referred previously to a drought bond scheme. I realise that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said that the matter would be examined in some detail, but 1 take this opportunity to make some suggestions as to the basis of a drought bond scheme. In principle, it should be based on the New Zealand farm income equalisation scheme. However, it would essentially differ in details. New Zealand is relatively free from drought, except in a small area of the south island, but a vast part of Australia is prone to drought. I suggest, firstly, that the term of the bond be from 5 to 7 years. Secondly, the taxpayer should have the right of redemption during the term to meet unexpected conditions, provided that the bonds be assessable when redeemed - that is, there would have to be some concession payable by the bondholders for such a right. Thirdly, the taxpayer should be entitled to deduct the amount invested in bonds from his income in the year of earning. The amount would become taxable in the year of income when the bonds were cashed. Fourthly, interest on the bonds should be high enough to encourage investment but, of course, less than current bond rate because of the privilege of redemption. Fifthly, the taxpayer should be permitted to invest up to one-quarter of his income over the previous averaging period of 5 years, except that greater sums may be invested at the discretion of the Commissioner. Sixthly, bonds should not be transferable. Finally, bonds should be automatically redeemable on retirement from the industry or on death, if so desired.
The authorities seem to have some doubt as to the desirability of the scheme and the enthusiasm with which it may be received. This doubt may arise from the fact that the war time deferment maintenance scheme was not availed of by the rural community to the extent that may have been expected. However, the explanation for this is fairly easy. The war time scheme was not popular, but many of the causes of its unpopularity do not exist now. At that time, assessments were in arrears and long delays occurred in receiving assessments. This sometimes extended to many years. Refunds also were received years after they were due. The main reason possibly was that the legislation giving effect to the scheme was ambiguous and not clear to most taxpayers and deposits were not interest bearing. I think the drought bond scheme is worthy of very close examination. It would confer great benefits on the pastoral industry, especially the wool growing industry.
I wanted to spend some time today on a subject that has already been dealt with in some detail by my colleague, the honourable member for Calare (Mr England), and that is the matter of probate and succession duties. I heartily endorse all that he has said, but I intend to deal with some other aspects of the problem. The degree of difficulty and hardship created by the imposition of probate duty on estates in the lower and intermediate brackets - not so much in the higher brakets - has become progressively severe. This does not apply only to rural estates; it applies also to family businesses, family companies and all single unit family enterprises. However, the effect is seen especially in rural estates. Inflation of the currency since 1948 has caused substantial increases in the value of properties. An estate that was valued at $40,000 in 1948 was valued at $140,000 in 1966. This is based on Valuer General’s figures. As real estate forms a large part of a rural estate, the harshness of the imposition of the duty on rural estates is evident. I suggest that serious consideration be given to a more gradual rise in the rate of probate duty. The figures I shall give now relate to the imposition of all probate duties and not only the Federal duty. I have the approximate average for the States. The rates are not exactly the same, but they arc about the same. The rate is approximately 10% on $40,000 and 35% on $140,000. In 1948, a family unit paid 10% in death duties, but in 1966 one-third of the estate was taken in death duties. This means that in each generation one-third of the estate is lost. The result is that either a heavy debt is loaded on to the estate, making it an uneconomic proposition, or there is a forced sale of part of the property,
This is not realistic. In the aggregate, the imposition of death duties does not mean a net gain to the State. Indeed, the lack of development and loss of efficiency in the long run would mean a loss to the State. However, when we suggest that a means of raising revenue be abandoned, we should suggest a way to compensate for the loss. I suggest that if the rate of duty is made easier on estates up to $140,000 it is reasonable to expect that the rate would increase to some extent on estates of a higher value, although we should not impose a harsh rate on these estates. The higher rate is justifiable to some extent because estates in the higher bracket would have had more opportunity to provide reserves, through the diversification of assets, than estates in the lower brackets would.
The imposition of death duties has many effects. It definitely limits expansion by retarding development during the life of a family head, owing to the necessity to provide for probate. Where provision is made by insurance, the insurance goes back into the estate of the benefactor. Although it providies some liquid assets it also builds up the rate of duty. I am not referring particularly to large estates. I can think of two particular instances of this. One man who had two sons owned 700 acres of land. His sons are under 30 years of age and are most desirable types of young men who have built up a tremendous amount of knowledge of the land. Because of this imposition they were forced to sell their property. Not many miles away the same sort of thing occurred. However, in this case the two sons have assumed the liability but are not able to work their property to the extent that it demands or in a way that would be of most benefit to the nation.
Estate duty tends to destroy continuity of effort and the passing on of particular knowledge which is really the fruits of experience. The value of particular knowledge of a district or individual property, or in regard to a certain flock of sheep or herd of cattle, is something that is very much under-estimated. This knowledge is not something that is acquired overnight. This comment applies with equal force to all stud stock. Therefore, the duty certainly destroys initiative and incentive. It destroys the possibility of farmers being successful and is certainly not conducive to people making the greatest effort. It creates a situation which forces sales of assets, either totally or in part, and leaves a non-economic unit. So, there is good ground, for the opinion that where death duties are severe the final gain is not to the State. This may be so in the short term but in the long term the duty operates to the detriment of the State.
Many proposals have been put forward as to how this problem should be overcome. The honourable member for Calare (Mr England) said that the total revenue which is derived from death duties by the Federal Government is slightly less than 1 % of total revenue collected. As a matter of fact, in 1966 the total revenue was $40.9m. The revenue from estates of less than $140,000 in value was $19 3m and revenue from estates worth more than $140,000 was $21. 6m. There were 11,856 estates worth less than $140,000 and 567 worth more. I would not like it to be thought that I am making a suggestion of increased rating on large estates because I dislike anyone who, by reason of thrift and hard work, accumulates more than $140,000, but in respect of the larger estates it is possible to make greater provision by way of diversification of assets. A great burden would be lifted from the lower income brackets if the rates were more gradual instead of rising steeply and then remaining almost on the same plane after reaching $200,000. This would be more realistic having regard to the amount of capital that is involved in these estates.
I wish to make a further suggestion concerning lineal estates. I believe that the duty should be based on the amount that goes into the hands of the beneficiaries and not on the total value of the estate. In other words, if a total of $140,000 were left to two sons, this amount should be assessed at the rate of $70,000 each. Purely lineal estates should be assessed on this basis and not the basis of $140,000: If this were done it would have a marked effect and would be a more realistic approach.
Another matter that I believe should be seriously considered in regard to duties on all estates - and particularly rural estates - concerns the term, permissible, in relation to penalty rates and interest charges. The period involved is unreasonably short. It would be a great rarity for a rural estate to be finalised within six months. Only a fraction of estates would be finalised within that term. Therefore, in the case of almost every estate a penalty of 8% is imposed. It would be a far more realistic approach to the whole situation if a longer period were allowed. I suggest that two years should be allowed before the penalty rate of interest is imposed on an estate.
Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) [4.46 J - I would like to deal with one item in the Treasury estimates. I refer to the provision of $ 10m to Queensland to enable assistance to be made available to the sugar industry in marketing the 1967 crap. The amounts made available by the Government are repayable in future years. This item comes on top of the $19m loan which was made available last year for the 1966 crop. The sugar industry in Australia is facing a financial crisis. If we look at any of the economic indicators we must reach this conclusion. I refer to economic indicators relating to the sugar price, cost of production, and the residual world price for the portion of the total production being disposed of at the residual world price compared with the economic position of the industry several years ago. Other indicators include the domestic financial position of the sugar producers themselves. A growing number of producers are being forced to sell their farms for two reasons.
They have been forced to sell because their financial position is desperate and their farm peaks are too small having regard to the present price of sugar. Of course, the cost of production has not been reduced. The other reason which is responsible for farmers selling their properties is that the banking system has adopted an unreasonably harsh attitude towards many of the growers. This is particularly so in the case of growers who have been hit severely by drought in the last three years. The result of this has been that the financial position of the small farmer who has a peak of, say, less than 1,200 tons and the established farmer who has been severely hit by drought is now reaching very serious proportions. Their hire purchase debts are mounting and they are unable to replace essential machinery. In fact, what is really happening is that their living standards have deteriorated tremendously. The small farmer is most affected. Most of the new farmers are small farmers. It does not matter how efficient a farmer is in terms of cost of production, of sugar per acre or whatever indicator one wishes to use. The fact is that under present prices his peak is so small that his net income - particularly his net cash income - is not sufficient to meet his essential requirements. So, he is forced to borrow further. If he can borrow he can continue. However, if he cannot borrow, the ultimatum seems to be from many of the banks that he must sell his property to pay his debts. This is a most scandalous affair, particularly when the value of his assets is far greater than the debt. It seems to be some sort of a standard rule that the banks do not lend more than half of the value of the assets. These farmer groups are in a serious financial position. The larger farmer with the big peak is generally in a position to carry on because over the years he has accumulated considerable surplus income, but the smaller farmer is the one with troubles.
What has the Government done since the sugar industry has been in trouble? In the first place it endorsed the expansion without making any provision to safeguard the industry. It is a fundamental international commercial principle that a major export industry should not be asked to expand by almost 70% unless there is a guaranteed export market at satisfactory prices. The guaranteed market at the time was based principally on Japan. Certainly Japan is a good quantity market. Today it imports 500,000 tons or one quarter of the total production of Australian sugar, but it pays only the residual world price, which is approximately $40 a ton. The cost of proproduction is around $80 a ton today. How long can an industry continue under these conditions? It is obvious that if the Commonwealth Government had had control of the initial expansion it would have negotiated some type of long term or bilateral agreement of Japan, just as it did when the beef industry expanded in 1950 under the 15-year agreement with the United Kingdom.
As honourable members know, the Commonwealth has no control over sugar production in a State and the result is that when the industry is in trouble in a State that State immediately comes to the Com monwealth for assistance. But the damage has been done. Approximately $200m additional money has been invested in the industry in fixed capital on farms, mills and bulk handling facilities. At the same time we have had almost 3 years of promises of a new international sugar agreement and we are still no closer to that agreement. We did not want an agreement when the prices were high. We steered clear of it because it would have meant a reduction in prices. Now we want an agreement. Because we did not want one when prices were high and we jumped from fifth to second place among the sugar exporters we strained our relationships with the under-developed countries that depend almost entirely on sugar for export income. The Government certainly has taken steps to increase the home price but this is being paid by the taxpayer, the consumer, not by the Government. My only criticism is that based on cost of production figures - there has been no increase for 6 years - the price should have been higher. The increase should have been 2c a pound and not Hd per lb. Certainly the threat of sugar substitutes had something to do with the lower figure asked for by the industry but on the other hand the threat of substitutes has to be faced.
The main point that I wish to deal with is in respect of this $10m loan with interest. Last year there was a $19m loan with interest. The total interest bill on the $19m will probably be around $10m. Honourable members will remember that the Mount Isa railway, which is often talked about as a development project financed by the Commonwealth, entailed an interest bill of $23m on the initial loan of $34m. The sugar industry loan of $10m, which could rise to $15m if export prices do not drop, could entail a $5m interest bill. It is my contention that the sugar industry - principally in Queensland - is being severely discriminated against by the Federal Government with respect to these loans. I shall give my reasons: One cannot look at the sugar industry in isolation. It must be looked at from two angles. The first is the part the sugar industry has played in the development of the country and more precisely the amount of assistance it has given to other industries; and the second is the Government’s treatment of the sugar industry compared with its treatment of other industries.
Let us compare the other industries with the sugar industry. I shall take the dairy industry first. We find in the last 5 years there have been Federal grants of approximately $135 and in the next 5 years, under legislation passed last year, there will be grants totalling another $135m. That is $270m in the past 5 years and in the next 5 years for butter and cheese bounty. The Labor Party is fully in agreement with this because it believes in a policy of supporting primary and secondary industries for the development of this country. In the last 5 years the wheat industry has received non-repayable Federal grants of $70m in the form of contributions to the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Fund. In the same period the cotton industry has received Slim in cotton bounty and even the beef industry has received financial assistance amounting to $6m for promotion and research. These amounts are the Commonwealth’s contributions and are over and above the collections from the industries themselves. In the last 5 years the wool industry has received $50m for promotion and research and again that grant is over and above the collections under the wool levy. Of course, secondary industries have received tremendous benefits through tariffs, bounties and subsidies.
The point I am making is that the major primary and secondary industries have received substantial financial assistance from the Commonwealth in the form of nonrepayable grants. The financial assistance to primary industries has been principally to raise the average price to the grower and to secondary industries it has been to provide protection from imports. In contrast, the sugar industry has received a loan of $29m, of which approximately $15m will be added for interest charges over the period of repayment. In my mind this is an unfair discrimination against the industry. The Federal Government, when answering criticism regarding its discriminatory treatment of the sugar industry has always maintained that the State government and the industry leaders have requested this type of financial arrangement involving interest bearing loans. This may or may not be true. It is certainly not entirely true because the actual rate of interest is one that the industry did not request. However, if the State governments and industry leaders have been requesting this type of interest bearing loan assistance then it is time they woke up and had a look at what the Commonwealth Government is giving to other industries, primary and secondary. Also it is high time that they had a look at the financial position of the rank and file cane grower - particularly the new cane grower; the cane grower with the small peak; the man who has a mounting debt structure. They are the ones who are in trouble and interest bearing loans will not solve their problems.
This discriminatory action against the cane growers is made worse when one considers that when sugar prices were high the industry financed bulk handling and port facilities. High taxation was paid and this gained the Treasury revenue windfalls. Honourable members may be aware that approximately 10% of the value of imports paid for by the value of our sugar exports, is received in excise or customs duties and contributes greatly to consolidated revenue. The sugar industry has always financed its own research. When one considers that most of the wheat, wool, dairying and cotton industries are located in New South Wales and Victoria it will be appreciated that assistance from the Federal Government discriminates not only against sugar growers but also against the State of Queensland.
There can be no question that the time for positive action has come. We must see an end to this continuous wishful thinking with respect to the International Sugar Agreement. We want more than carefully prepared statements by industry leaders and by Queensland Government spokesmen who are completely out of touch with those cane growers, who are in serious financial trouble. We want to see an end to this pussyfooting around by industry leaders who refuse to criticise the State or Federal governments. I believe that the sugar industry can take a lesson from the leaders of the wheat, beef and wool industries who are not frightened to criticise the Government. It is scandalous that interest has to be paid on these loans. The sugar industry deserves better treatment.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I do not want to enter into a discussion on the sugar industry. I believe most honourable members would agree that the Commonwealth Government has bent over backwards in trying to help the sugar industry. Whatever faults exist in the sugar industry and whatever difficulties it may have, we cannot stand up in this place and accuse the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) or the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) of not being tremendously sympathetic in attempting to do something to help the industry. If this is to be a general debate on sugar, a subject which could be dealt with under some other part of the estimates, things could be said from this side of the chamber to put straight some matters raised by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). But, as I have said, I do not want to talk about sugar.
I propose to refer to two sections of the Income Tax Assessment Act. The first matter was mentioned by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard). I have a great deal of sympathy for the case that he put forward for people being allowed as taxation deductions expenses incurred in travelling to obtain medical treatment. About 90% of us live in the urban part of Australia and it does not appear to us to be very difficult to get our wives and children to the best of medical attention. Usually the best hospitals are available only a short drive from where we live. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie represents that part of Australia where sometimes medical attention involves a journey of 1,000 miles. For some of his constituents there is no regional hospital where treatment can be given and people have to travel or send their families to the capital city for the right sort of medical attention. The medical bill in such a case is nothing when compared with the cost of travel involved. I believe that the Government should take heed of the plea that he made for consideration to be given to taxation allowances for travel expenses incurred by people in remote areas for the purpose of receiving medical attention.
The first matter with which I intend to deal relates to section 79a of the Income Tax Assessment Act. This is a matter which I have brought up in the House on a previous occasion. Section 79a states:
For the purpose of granting to residents of the prescribed area an income tax concession in recog nition of the disadvantages to which they are subject because of the uncongenial climatic conditions, isolation and high cost of living . . .
When I last spoke about this matter there was not in Western Australia the tremendous development that is now going on in the northern part of the State, but now the population in those areas is increasing rapidly. It is largely a floating population. When I spoke previously on this subject I referred particularly to people employed in Government departments - people such as policemen or school teachers - and bank officials who were posted to northern parts of the State in areas which were classified as Zone A or Zone B. Normally they would receive their posting in about January or February and often would return to suburban areas before the end of the year. The Act provides that they must stay in the zoned areas for half a year before becoming entitled to the allowance.
In section 79a a resident is defined as a person ‘who resides in that area for more than half of the year of income’. If an employee is sent by his employer into Zone A or Zone B, takes up his position in the early part of the year and leaves before the end of the year, although he may have served in that area for 111 months he still may not qualify for the zone allowance under section 79a. This is a great disadvantage for many people who, through no desire of their own but because they are in the type of occupation where they go where they are sent, do not come within the provisions of that section which provides for a rather generous zone allowance. Nowadays we hear quite a bit in this place about northern development and hear references to the iron industry and mineral developments. Many university students now spend their long vacations in the northern part of the State earning a rather handsome sum of money which they use mainly to put themselves through another year at university. Because they earn well over the amount that puts them into the income tax bracket they become liable for taxation. They can have no recourse to the zone allowance because they are not in the area for the period which is specified as ‘more than one half of the year of income’. I should like the Government to look closely at this matter and to consider whether section 79a of the Act can ba amended to include classes of people who are needed in northern areas for the conduct of community affairs. I refer to people such as nursing sisters who work at the hospitals and school teachers who are sent to these areas but do not serve the full period and so do not become eligible for the allowance. I make a plea on behalf of those people in my own State who are employed in Zones A or B but receive no income tax concessions in recognition of the disadvantages to which they are subject because of the uncongenial climatic conditions, isolation and high cost of living.
– My purpose in briefly speaking to the estimates for the Department of the Treasury is, like that of the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney), to draw attention to the deduction sections of the Income Tax Assessment Act which I believe operate unfairly against some taxpayers and, in the final analysis, operate against the nation itself. In this regard I refer first of all to the Budget proposal to provide an increase from $800 to $1,200 in the maximum deductions that may be made for insurance premiums or superannuation contributions in assessing income for taxation purposes. This increase in deductions will assist only approximately 2% of taxpayers. It does nothing to assist the nation. All it does is assist the big wealthy insurance companies and income earners in the very high bracket. I suggest that neither is in need of such assistance. On the other hand, some other sections of the community whose futures are of great importance to the country and who need assistance in this field are completely ignored. I propose to draw attention to some of these important groups.
First I mention the situation of a university student who is studying medicine, law, engineering or some other subject and who, if he is undertaking the course full time, would be 24 or 25 years of age before obtaining his degree. To complete such a course requires not only a great deal of personal sacrifice by the student but also deprives him of any opportunity to earn a regular income. In such cases the parent, who in many instances is hard pressed to finance his child’s education, let alone keep him and clothe him, is allowed to claim educational and living expenses for children aged between 16 and 21 years. However, once the child reaches his majority, the taxation allowance ceases. Apparently the Government feels that its responsibility ends at this point. In this way the Government inflicts unnecessary hardship on many parents aspiring to give their children the benefit of a professional career. While many members of the Government have constantly stressed the necessity to provide university training in many fields so as to ensure that Australia will eventually have adequate numbers of professional experts, they adopt what is in my opinion a completely negative and unrealistic attitude by not extending the taxation concessions, which are now available until a student reaches the age of 21 years, at least until the student has completed his studies.
The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and some of their Cabinet colleagues have expressed the view many times during the life of this Parliament that if Australia is to progress as rapidly as it should we must have more skilled tradesmen. On this I believe we all agree. If the Government is really sincere about this matter, however, one would expect the Treasury to assist and encourage, wherever possible, the young apprentices of this country. Let me outline to the Committee certain difficulties that face apprentices in South Australia, and no doubt in other States, and about which I have made frequent but unsuccessful representations to the Treasurer and the Minister for Labour and National Service. The South Australian Railways, and no doubt many other industries throughout Australia, select a number of apprentices from small country towns in which no facilities are available for adequate apprentice training. These lads are required to spend the first 3 years of their apprenticeship in Adelaide so that they may attend the appropriate trade school in order to obtain the foundation needed to become competent tradesmen. They receive very low wages, especially in the early years of their training. The current award rates in South Australia are $14.35 a week in the first year, $18.45 in the second year and $21.55 in the third year. The South Australian Railways pays a small additional living away from home allowance of $2.20 a week to these lads while they undergo training in Adelaide. This is for the specific purpose of helping them to find the amount required for board and residence while they are living away from home, the cost of this in most cases being from $10 to $12 a week. The Taxation Branch, ever ready to extract the maximum amount possible from taxpayers, particularly wage earners, has now decided that income tax must be paid on an apprentice’s living away from home allowance as well as on his normal salary. In reply to representations 1 made on behalf of one such apprentice the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation said:
In the particular case of Mr X, while it is recognised that the allowance received from his employer, the South Australian Railways Commissioner, is payable by reason of his being required to live away from the home of his parents in the country in order to take up his apprenticeship, it is considered, on the basis ot the available information, that his usual place of abode is the address at which he resides in Adelaide.
While admitting that this paltry amount of money is given for the specific purpose of helping the lad pay his board while living away from home, the Deputy Commissioner still wants his pound of flesh. In an effort to sustain the argument that these lads should pay tax on the extra money the Taxation Branch went back as far as 1852 and quoted remarks made in that year in a case in Britain by Lord Campbell:
A man’s residence, where he lives with his family and sleeps al night, is always his place of abode in the full sense of that expression.
No matter what measuring rod is used, the fact remains that the extra money is given for the specific purpose of helping to pay the cost of board and residence while living away from home. To my mind the Taxation Branch m adopting this attitude is carrying the law to the extreme, and is placing an added burden on country parents who desire to equip their children with a proper trade knowledge which will, in the final analysis, prove of great value to the community. I therefore appeal to the Treasurer to take the necessary action to change this almost unbelievable attitude which is miserly in the extreme. In fact I believe he should go much further and amend the appropriate legislation to grant complete exemption from income tax to junior workers in their early years of employment.
I wish to refer also to section 74 of the Act which provides that expenditure incurred in the year of income by a taxpayer on being elected as a member, or in contesting an election for membership, of the Parliament or of the Parliament of a State shall be an allowable deduction. This is a reasonable provision as far as it goes, but I believe that it should be extended to cover persons who contest elections in the field of local government. I think every member of the Parliament fully appreciates the importance of local government and the part it plays in the interests of the community. Local government, which is accepted and recognised as a necessary and vital part of our society, has been described as representing the grass roots of our political and administrative structure. As such it should be given every possible encouragement. I find it very difficult to understand, in a country which has three recognised and essential forms of government, Federal, State and local, why our tax laws differ in their treatment of candidates for election in these three different forms of government. In fact if any preference is to be extended to one of the three forms of government I believe it should be to local government, because members of local government bodies usually receive no remuneration for the many hours of service that they give in the interests of the people at large.
I appeal to the Treasurer and the Government to consider favourably the points I have raised. I point out that the cost involved in accepting my suggestions would be very small, although there would be significant benefits not only for the persons immediately involved but also in the final analysis for the country as a whole.
– One of the outstanding features of Government policy over the last 10 years has been the growing tendency for the Commonwealth to intervene in respect of developmental projects within the States. This tendency is growing both in range and in weight. The range of projects over which the Commonwealth has provided direct assistance has covered rail gauge standardisation, construction of beef roads, clearance of brigalow lands, provision of coal loading facilities, the Ord River project, the Exmouth township in Western Australia, the Western
Australian comprehensive water supply scheme, the River Murray Agreement and flood mitigation in New South Wales. Now it is proposed that the Commonwealth should provide special aid for dam construction within the States.
This wide range of special developmental projects within the States really requires a special type of agency in the Commonwealth sphere which can make benefit-cost analyses of the various projects and relate the benefits of one project to those of another, and assess the effect of each project on the rest of the economy. It is essential, in my belief, that the agency which conducts these benefit cost analyses to ensure that our money is spent as wisely and productively as possible should operate according to a constant set of principles. In fact it should be one continuing body just as in the case of wage fixation we have one central body, a continuing agency and a specialist agency to fix wages from time to time. Likewise we have a specialist agency to assess tariffs on various commodities. I believe we should now have a specialist agency competent to carry out benefit-cost analyses of the kinds of capital works to which I refer. This is very important because of the large sums of money involved, because of the complexity of the various projects and because expenditure misdirected not only wastes money now but prevents the realisation of more worthwhile projects. The Treasury is conscious of this and of the need for it to play a leading role - in fact, a controlling role - in the management of such an agency.
Last year, the Treasury produced a White Paper on benefit-cost analysis, as a supplement to the ‘Treasury Information Bulletin’, under the title ‘Investment Analysis’. The White Paper deals with benefit-cost analyses and their operation in this country and overseas, and points out how much of a novelty this technique is in Australia though it is well established and has been applied for some years in other countries, especially the United States of America. At page 23, the White Paper states:
Indicative of the very recent development of official interest in the techniques of benefit-cost analysis in Australia is the fact that the four benefit-cost studies published by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics ail fall between the dates December 1963 and August 1965.
When this White Paper was published in July last year, we had completed four benefit-cost studies in Australia. At page 27, the White Paper stresses the need for the establishment of one set of principles, or a doctrine, to be applied in all cases coming under scrutiny. The passage is in these terms:
Increasingly, government departments or other bodies putting forward proposals for this or that expenditure of public funds must expect to have to justify them, first on their own merits, and secondly against the relative merits of competing proposals coming forward from other quarters. It is all the more important, therefore, that so far as possible, some relatively agreed body of doctrine as to methods, etc., should exist and be in general use.
I add to that the observation that there should be one agency that controls all studies. Let me illustrate the importance of this by one example. The Keepit Dam is just outside my electorate, but the area that benefits from its existence lies entirely in my constituency. The Dam was constructed to provide stock water. At the time when it was conceived, thinking was that the deep artesian bores would fail in the course of time and that some supplementary supply of surface water would have to be provided and reticulated on the western plains to provide for the needs of stock. During construction of the Dam, it was found that this was a fallacy, and, as the work on the Dam proceeded, nobody quite knew what purpose the conserved water would serve. It was suggested that an area of 80,000 acres be set aside for irrigation, but nobody could determine what crop could economically be grown on such an irrigated area. It was not until the Dam was completed that a use for the water was found. Thanks to the initiative of local people and the enterprise of American cotton growers, there has been a transformation in land usage below the Keepit Dam. The area there has become the greatest cotton producing region in Australia. I believe that this year it will supply the total demand for cotton in this country.
That development was not foreseen at the time funds for the construction of the Dam were allocated. It was beyond the wildest expectations of those who voted the money. But it should have been foreseen and it could have been foreseen if a proper benefit analysis had been carried out. The same applies to other projected dam sites on the rivers flowing west of the Great Dividing Range with which I am familiar. We know now that if a large enough structure is provided, there will be a transformation in land usage below any dam. This will follow as night follows day. Unfortunately, so far as I know, nobody has yet made a sufficiently wide analysis of the benefits that could be derived from large scale dam construction on these western flowing rivers. One experienced engineer told me that it was necessary only to construct small silt traps at the outset because the demand for pumping licences was increasing at such a rate as to enable dams to be built easily over long periods in successive stages. This represents an extremely narrow point of view. In the light of what has happened with the Keepit Dam, which is situated in similar country, it is seen to be a completely fallacious view. As we can clearly see, there was a complete change in land usage below the Keepit Dam, and similar developments would follow the construction of large storage dams in comparable country along the western flowing rivers.
I mention these matters because they illustrate what is happening also in the realm of capital works other than dam projects. We need some agency that is capable of seeing things in the round and of taking the long view. We need some agency that is thoroughly competent to relate to the rest of the economy the benefits to be derived from each project. For example, we should not be constructing dams that can only increase the number of trees that we fell to supply timber. Yet some of our dams are serving forestry needs only and are doing no more than this. We should not be building dams that will serve only to increase dairy or orchard production, because dairy and orchard products are over-supplied on the domestic market already. We should be constructing dams that will increase the output of commodities for which there are ready markets overseas. I am sure that only a Commonwealth authority would be competent to see the benefits to be derived from investment in a dam that would promote a soya bean industry or a large increase in the production of beans, safflower or sorghum, all of which are in great demand domestically and overseas. I believe that only a Commonwealth agency would be competent to see the merits of a dam that would yield such bene fits. Since we have the responsibility for assessing these things, the Treasury should see to it that an agency is established that will be able to perform this function on a uniform and permanent basis.
– I want to refer to a matter in which I have been taking a particular interest during the past 4 years. This «s the taxation that registered clubs in New South Wales are obliged to pay. In 1963, as a result of representations made by the brewery interests, this Government imposed a tax on income derived by registered clubs from visitors. As a result, many clubs in New South Wales have been paying from 10% to as much as 45% additional tax. Indeed, in areas that have pleasure resorts and to which a great many people go at Christmas time and during holidays, some clubs pay 50% additional tax. Over a period I, along with other honourable members, have put questions on the notice paper in an attempt to get information from the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) concerning the income that is derived from visitors to the clubs in New South Wales that are obliged to pay this tax, but the Government has always evaded the questions. It has said that it does not keep the statistics requested by honourable members. This represents an injustice to the member who seeks information. It appears that the Government can find answers to some questions, but when a member wants vital information on a vital subject the Government refuses to make it available. The Government should keep these statistics because I believe that the New South Wales clubs are being discriminated against by the imposition of this taxation. I think New South Wales is the only State where this tax is paid. No-one can convince me that there are not clubs in other States getting income from visitors. These dubs also should be paying the tax that New South Wales clubs have to pay.
Information cannot be obtained from the Treasurer. The previous Treasurer, now the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), was asked similar questions but he simply said what the taxation laws were and stated that if clubs received an income of over £104 or $208 they were liable to pay this taxation. In recent years the number of clubs has increased in New South Wales and, consequently, more are involved in this form of taxation. Why should there be a lack of information on this subject? The clubs themselves are concerned and have made representations to the Taxation Branch, but the Branch merely says: ‘This is the law. We are enforcing it and you have to pay the tax.’ Not much can be done about it. The clubs do not like this attitude.
Recently, the Branch has made another ruling as a result of which the clubs have to deduct taxation from the fees paid to artists appearing at the clubs, even though those artists may have been booked through agents. The clubs are obliged to issue group certificates to the artists. An artist may appear at a club on one occasion and not appear again for another 2 months, or perhaps even for another 12 months, but in a period of 52 weeks some clubs could engage six, seven or eight different artists a week and the new procedure of deducting taxation from their fees and remitting it to the Taxation Branch could involve the clubs in considerable work. The Branch, by its decision, is making the clubs act at Government agents in collecting taxation. It is increasing the wages bills of the clubs, which are required to engage more employees to perform the tasks required under the new procedure, and the clubs consequently pay more in payroll tax, which is payable when the total wages exceed $400 a week. Probably this new procedure has resulted from a lot of artists not filling in taxation returns. Obviously the Taxation Branch feels that this is the only way whereby it will receive the proper taxation payments, but the onus is being put on the clubs to collect the money. 1 repeat, this is causing the clubs to employ more people, thus costing them more money.
Are the clubs actually employing artists if they engaged those artists through an agency, or are the artists professional people, as are those persons who help in the preparation of taxation forms? Why pick on artists? If a club employs a professional officer to prepare its taxation return, does the club have to deduct an amount for taxation from the fee it pays to the taxation expert? If a farmer hires contract shearers through an agent does he have to deduct from their wages the taxation required by the Branch? The Taxation Branch should look at these matters when it makes clubs collect taxation. I believe an injustice has been done to the clubs in New South Wales. They have been discriminated against. Because of the lack of information available from the Government I wonder whether the Government is trying to hide something. Statistics should be available. I cannot see why the Government cannot make them available because, after all, it knows what the clubs have to pay and the figures should be made available when honourable members ask questions. I do not know whether, in this respect, backbench members of the Parliament are treated differently from other members, but the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) did get a little more information from the the Government when he asked how many clubs had to pay income tax in each State and Territory in each of the last 5 years. In his reply the Treasurer said:
Many clubs are specifically exempt from income tax on the ground of being established for musical purposes, or for the encouragement of music, art, science, literature, or an athletic game or athletic sport in which human beings are the sole participants.
The Treasurer’s reference to games in which human beings are the sole participants is amusing. I cannot imagine what sort of acts clubs would use in which animals were involved, unless it was cock fighting. I do not know whether the Treasurer had in mind an act involving cows and sheep.
We should have more information than is at present available to us. In the absence of this information I can conclude only that the Government is seeking to withhold evidence. Nobody can convince me that licensed clubs in other States do not have visitors and do not make a profit from them. Are those clubs paying this tax? If they are, why is the information not made available to us so that we can at least inform the clubs in New South Wales that they are not the only ones paying the tax?
The statistics show that over the years the number of clubs in New South Wales which are paying this tax has been increasing. We know how much revenue the Government receives from these clubs. We know that this revenue also is increasing. We are led inescapably to the view that the Government is discriminating against clubs in New South Wales. If other clubs in the Commonwealth are paying the tax, let the Government say so. We could then tell the clubs in New South Wales that clubs elsewhere in the Commonwealth also pay this tax. In the absence of all the facts I can conclude only that registered clubs in New South Wales are being treated unjustly.
The clubs are concerned about this tax. They intend to test it in the courts. But I have been told that it will take up to two years before the clubs may be heard in the courts. That is too long to wait in order to discover whether the Government is discriminating against New South Wales. Let the Government come out in the open. Let it make the information available so that we may advise clubs in our areas just what the Government is doing. I still think that the Government is evading the issue. I do not accept the answers that have been supplied by the Treasurer to back benchers on this side and to the Leader of the Opposition. I cannot accept what the Treasurer has told us until he tells us how many clubs in other States are paying tax on income derived from visitors.
In the few minutes left to me I wish to raise the matter of funeral expenses incurred by children who undertake the responsibility of burying their deceased parents. At present unless the parent is dependent on the child, the child cannot claim as a tax deduction expenses incurred in burying a parent. I know of some sons and daughters who have spent $200 or more in order to give their parent a decent burial. They have not been allowed to claim this expense as a deduction for income tax purposes. This is wrong. The Government should allow such expenses to be claimed as income tax deductions. Nobody wants to see his or her parents buried as paupers.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. W. C. Haworth) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The estimates for the Department of the Treasury this year exceed $347m. The Advance to the Treasurer remains at the figure of $20m. Both of these amounts have a great deal to do with the economic position in the various parts of the Commonwealth of Australia but especially when we look at the estimates for payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve Trust Account do we realise that they have a great deal to do with the living standards in each part of the Commonwealth, lt is on this subject that I desire to say a few words this afternoon.
The principles laid down in determining the level of advances to the various parts of the Commonwealth were stated most explicitly by the former Prime Minister in 1959. In that year, when a new tax formula was being considered for application to the States, Mr Menzies, as he then was, said that there were two principles which underlay the disbursement of money amongst the States. They were based, firstly, on the proposition that the people in each State and each part of the States should make the same sacrifices in relation te their living standards; in other words, that they should make the same sacrifices in relation to the level of their own State services. The second principles which underlies the disbursement of these resources was simply that this should be done so that the living standards of persons in northern Australia should be the same as those of persons in the west of Australia or in the southern parts of the Commonwealth. It is in relation to these principles which underlie the disbursement of resources between the great regions of Australia that I want to say one or two words.
A great deal has been said from time to time about northern development. The problems associated with northern development have been twisted so that they have become concerned not with the living standards of people in the north of Australia but with the prosperity, however measured, and the profitability of certain industries. There is a great deal of difference between the two considerations. If we want to compare living standards in the north of Australia and variations in those standards, with living standards in other parts of the Commonwealth certain difficulties relating to statistics arise. Many of us would like an expansion of the statistics available to enable this kind of calculation to be made. But when we look at what can be gleaned from the published data and when we look at the position of the largest body of people who live in the north of this country we come to one simple conclusion: Their living standards have increased at a slightly faster rate than have those of people in the rest of Australia. This may come as a surprise.
Let us look at some of the data available. Let us take first the cost of housing. If you can obtain details of housing approvals for, say, northern Queensland and southern Queensland, for the different types of construction - timber, fibro and brick - you will find one of two things, either that the rate of increase in the cost of construction per square in the north has lagged behind the rate of increase in the cost of construction per square in the south or that on some occasions, particularly in the far north, there has been an absolute decline in costs in some fields. So there has been a relative improvement here.
– The war service homes figures do not bear this out.
– I do not think that the war service homes figures are a fair measure of the overall costs in an area. There are insufficient war service homes in each area concerned. We find that the rate of investment per person in the north of Australia is about eight to nine times the rate of investment per person for the whole of Australia. These are certainly not insignificant details.
Then we have to look at other figures. Let us have a look at details concerning the costs of living adjustments for food and grocery items in the cost of living index. When we come to Queensland, for example, we find that in the years 1961 to 1966, in the southern part of the State costs of living rises have been in the nature of 18% over the period, whereas in the north they have averaged 16% to 17%. So all the disabilities that go with rising costs, rates of expansion and rates of investment - all the economic factors that follow upon these economic characteristics - have favoured the north more than they have favoured the south. So let us divorce ourselves from the profitability of certain entrepreneurs in any industry. When we have a look at living standards in one area as against living standards in another area, the north has improved far more than has the rest of Australia. Certainly in Queensland the north has improved far more than has the southern part of the State. I would hope that those people who suggest that they have humanitarian ideals would be aware of this fact when they make a case on these matters.
But there is one further verification of this which is almost irrefutable. In the past in my own State of Queensland a disparity allowance is added to the basic wage for people who live within the isolated areas of the State. If people work in the north or the north-west or the southwest a loading is added to the basic wage on account of this factor. The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) would be aware of those things. It is interesting to consider that the last loading added to the basic wage due to the disabilities of living and working in these areas was given in 1958. One might well ask: Why has not there been an adjustment since? The fact is that in 1964 an application was made for an upward adjustment in the disparity allowance to the basic wage in Queensland. A preliminary hearing was entered into. A reference was made to the Commonwealth Statistician for a report on changes in costs. When it was found that on a calculation of those costs the present level of the disability allowance could not be maintained the case was never proceeded with. In- other words, the improvement in economic conditions in the north has, in fact, gone beyond the improvement of those in the south.
Were strict calculations made on the changes in costs now, it is doubtful that the present level of the loading on the basic wage would in fact be maintained. So when those honourable members - particularly the gentlemen on the other side of the House - come into this House and make a case concerning northern development, I can only consider that they do not know the living standard of the ordinary people in these areas, especially of those who live on direct road, rail or air routes. I can well understand why they have transferred their case from one concerning the disability of ordinary people living and working in these areas to one concerned with the profitability of entrepreneurs in certain industries. These involve, of course, a large part of their own electorates.
However, there remain one or two difficulties that have to be considered. While, on the statistics available, we can come to the suggested conclusions, the facts are that they are not quite as precise as we would like them to be. So the Minister for Air (Mr Howson), who is sitting at the table, might consider that in future the Bureau of Census and Statistics should be able to publish regional statistical data including banking data, data on changes in retail trade figures, and more precise details of changes in cost of building per square. These would enable measures to be taken to see that the levels in these areas were kept equal with those in the rest of Australia. In this way proper understanding would enter into this matter.
At the present time 1 understand that a by-election is to be held in a part of my State which, it has been suggested, has been a little under-developed. It is easier to say these things than to substantiate them. When we look at the central Queensland area, which happens to embrace the area known as Capricornia - and this is quite by accident - we see that public investment in this area in train at the moment and just completed amounts to more than $137m.
– Over what period was that?
– Over the last 12 to 15 months. Private capital investment in this area - and some of this has to go ba:k over a slightly longer period - amounts to something over $219m. So total investment in this area within extremely recent times - within the last 12 to 18 months - amounts to something like $356m.
– How much of that came from your Government?
– $ 137m.
– It is. only a promise.
– No. We are not talking about East Sydney. We are talking about Capricornia. Honourable members opposite will find that the rate of investment here is many times that which applies to the rest of Australia. But I shall get back to the ordinary working man insofar as he is concerned with investment. My understanding of the man who is concerned with a job and with having a weekly salary is that he does not care who pays the salary - whether it is the State Government, the Commonwealth Government or private enterprise. He is concerned only that employment is available. That is why, when we speak about investment, we do not speak about it only in respect of direct Commonwealth responsibility. We speak about investment insofar as it has been promoted by the Commonwealth, the State or private enterprise. In doing this, we want to see that the men in these areas have jobs available and have a constant!) increasing rate of return for their work.
We know that there are certain problems in measuring changes in living standards in the regional areas of this country. We know that there are problems in making some of the statistical data available to us in interpreting what is available. Therefore one would suggest that the Bureau of Census and Statistics should seek ways to publish statistical data which involves four fields that previously it has not been able to touch. I refer to banking, hire purchase, retail figures and certain details concerning changes in housing and construction costs. If we do this we can see that those principles which were enunciated by the former Prime Minister in 1959 - the principles which ensure equal standards of living - can be implemented, and implemented with justice.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I believe in the parliamentary system of government and I know that in other lands those who have sought to destroy it have commenced their attacks by undermining trust and confidence in public representatives. Therefore, they serve the democratic institution who show that the constant attacks being made upon the integrity of public representatives are generally without foundation. They also help preserve representative government who make it more difficult or more dangerous for public representatives to misuse for personal gain their positions of power and responsibility. In order to help preserve faith in public representatives, many countries publish annually details of the incomes and sources of incomes of all public representatives. Amongst these countries are Norway, several other European nations and some States of the United States of America. They have found this method most effective.
Recently I asked the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) whether he would have details of the incomes and sources of incomes of all Australian public representatives published annually in the report of the Commissioner of Taxation. He replied as though the question were an attack upon public representatives in Australia and said: Definitely no.’ There was no intention to reflect on Australian representatives. If they were all of the type that the Treasurer implied, they as a body should be protected from the malignant attacks of those who suggest that many of them are getting rich by the improper use of their positions. That these statements are made every member of the Parliament knows. Public representatives would be protected by the publication of details of their incomes and sources of incomes annually in the report of the Commissioner of Taxation. However, there definitely are those who use their positions for corrupt purposes, despite the inference to be drawn from the Treasurer’s reply to my question. This type of representative should be deterred and here, as in other countries, such a deterrent would be the publication of information relating to their incomes and the sources of their incomes in the report of the Commissioner of Taxation.
A newspaper a few days ago contained this headline:
Bribe Charge Councillor Goes lo Gaol
Under this headline appeared the following statement:
A former shire councillor yesterday went to gaol to start a 4-month sentence on charges concerning an $8,000 bribe.
Other councillors were concerned i,n the charges. Another newspaper article stated:
The Leader of the NSW Opposition, Mr Renshaw, yesterday demanded an urgent public inquiry into allegations that three MLAs were involved in the Warringah Shire Council bribery case.
Another newspaper reported:
It seems a planned attempt is being made to involve one or more MLAs in the Warringah Shire Council inquiries,’ the Premier, Mr Ask in, said. . . .
The report continued:
Meanwhile,’ Mr Askin said, ‘police are doing everything possible to expedite their inquiry into an allegation that “a ring of eight councillors” had been operating m Warringah’.
The Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales demanded an inquiry and the Premier said that the police were investigating the matter. Everyone in this House knows that that is not an isolated instance of accusations being made against public men in this country. As I say, other countries take action to protect the integrity of those who have integrity in public life and to ensure as far as possible that those who seek to use their positions of power and responsibility for corrupt purposes are prevented from doing so. A newspaper tonight has the headline:
Gaoled Shire Councillor. Police see Wife.
That statement relates to an interview between the police and the wife of one of the councillors who was gaoled for the corrupt use of his public position. She did not hesitate to say that her husband was not the only one involved but that others also were involved and that amongst those involved were members of the State Parliament.
– She denied it.
– The honourable member said someone denied it.
– She denied that she said it.
– Well, she denied that she said anyone was involved, according to the newspapers tonight. But the point I make is that, irrespective of what she says or denies, people throughout Australia are reading accusations against public men in every newspaper in the Commonwealth.
– Tell us about the honest men.
– The honourable member asks me to tell them about all the honest men. I am out to protect the honest men. I ask the honest men to rally behind me. I call for the institution of the measures that are adopted in other countries to protect the integrity of those public representatives who have any integrity to protect. Public men say: ‘We are impeccable. We are above suspicion. We do not admit that any action need to be taken to protect the faith of the public in this institution.’ I say that it is not sufficient for this Parliament to be constituted of men of integrity like my friend, the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). What is required is that the vast majority of the people recognise the integrity of the honourable member for Mallee. Because of this, we should adopt the measures I have mentioned. I say unhesitatingly that there is not a member of Parliament who has been in public life for half .as long as I have who does not know of people who have been comparatively poor when they joined public bodies and who, with no other source of income than a fairly ordinary job, have become rich almost overnight. They have become the owners of properties and investors in shares and other activities that make for the rapid acquisition of wealth. There is no interest in this matter by men such as the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), the Minister who sits beside him and members in this chamber who are particularly wealthy. They will not permit reform in the interests »f good government or for the preservation of the democratic institution. Honourable members on this side of the House know this because they are probably the only members who recently have read the history of the rise of dictatorships. After all, Mussolini’s march on Rome was successful only because of the distrust and lack of confidence of the people of Italy in the government of that time. This has happened in every country in the world where dictatorships have existed or still exist. Whether they be of the right or of the left, those who seek to destroy democratic institutions seek first to undermine the confidence and trust of the people in the representatives in those institutions. They seek in a general kind of way to impugn the motives of the representatives and to reflect upon their honour. Because of this, I say that anyone who assists even by inaction or by acts of omission in casting undeserved reflections upon the integrity of members of this House or the representatives in municipal bodies or State parliaments, will assist the disintegration - if it occurs - of representative government in this country.
– That is what Mr Renshaw is doing.
- Mr Renshaw has demanded an inquiry. The Premier of New South Wales is instituting an inquiry per medium of the police. All that I seek to do is to suggest that prevention is better than punishment or cure and that this House should adopt the preventative measures that have been adopted with success in other countries. Norway and other countries of Europe and many States of the United States of America publish the sources of income and the incomes of all their public representatives. That should be done here. In conclusion, I have no doubt that, like John the Baptist, mine is a voice crying in the wilderness.
– I would like to speak for a few minutes, not precisely of the drought position specifically in my own State, but rather of some of the drastic side effects which are only now being felt. In doing so I want to place special emphasis on the State to which local government has been brought by the drought situation. The economy of local government would have been bad in any case, but it has been most severely aggravated by the ever worsening conditions in the drought areas. Firstly, I would like to examine briefly the drought position as it exists at present. There seems to be a general idea abroad that the drought is over. For some people it is over and for other people there has been partial relief. However, the position of many people is as critical as any experienced in this country. I do not want to deal with particular cases. I am not at this stage presenting a brief for the grazing fraternity. I would like to deal quite briefly with the situation which is facing many people who are associated with the pastoral industry. The population of most areas of Queensland which are centres of the wool producing industry has, with perhaps one or two exceptions, diminished considerably. Many people in these areas are entirely dependent on the wool industry. I have in mind such people as shearers who traditionally pass on their trade to their sons. Also, I have in mind another industry which is not particularly well known. I refer to fire break ploughing. Tank sinking and other activities have also grown up into flourishing enterprises. The people associated with these industries have suddenly found that their particular calling has, in almost all cases in badly affected areas, ceased to exist. I can assure honourable members that these people are bewildered and are wondering what they are going to do. They are almost like refugees from their own country. They have been trained in a particular industry and they do not know just where to find employment of the kind to which they are suited. Such employment does not exist.
A great wave of hope has been brought about by a recent indication by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) that he was giving close scrutiny to the wool industry. I think it is now becoming apparent that this $800m industry, which is Australia’s greatest and most reliable industry, is in jeopardy. Again 1 point out that at this stage 1 am not dealing with the particular people who are directly associated with the industry. My concern is for the way of life which goes with the industry and the pastoral callings which are beginning to disappear from the face of the earth. With the greatest respect, I would submit to the Treasurer that when he has this matter under his scrutiny he might consider one or two of the following matters.
Anyone who is living in wool growing areas and is even remotely associated with the industry will agree that transport costs represent the greatest penalty which the industry suffers and the greatest drawback for it and all the other great primary industries in the inland parts of Queensland. If the Loder report brought out one shattering message it was most certainly this. Let us consider the price of ordinary commodities. People on the coast pay 10c for a bottle of milk. Persons in inland areas will not pay less than 15c for the same bottle of milk. I want to talk about small everyday commodities because they affect each and every one of us and are of particular concern to underprivileged people. Another example is the price of bread. People on the coast pay 18c for a loaf of bread but people in inland areas pay 21c or 22c.
Fares represent a tremendous penalty on people living in remote areas. An ordinary family man from such areas travelling to the coast or to the conventional places where people spend their holidays would spend in fares alone the amount of money people living near these areas would pay for their entire holiday. Such a man also suffers further disabilities. If, for instance, he wants to go by car and a freak storm comes along and his vehicle becomes bogged he may spend all his savings in getting out of it. Some people have tried to get concessions from
State governments regarding problems such as these, but I feel we cannot airily say that these are State matters and nothing to do with us, and that we are not going to do anything about them.
People in country areas are also exploited in regard to purchases. We have already proved that one of the greatest benefits granted to people in isolated areas is the uniform price of petrol. This has affected all of us, particularly those in the lower income groups. I have often thought about this. Why cannot this same uniform price system apply to other strategic commodities? If it has been so successful in one arena then surely with scrutiny it could be applied to others and so make a real contribution to lower living costs in isolated inland areas. 1 suggest also to the Treasurer that when he is assessing the apportionment of funds to specific aspects of decentralisation and of development in outback and northern areas he should give particular regard, together with the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme), to extending the amenity of television to the people of the outback. I am not impressed by arguments about the economics of television. Television should not be part of the modern way of life only for certain sections of Australia; it should be for all Australians, and if there are Australians living in the frontier parts of this country then they are all the more deserving. I think fair minded city people will agree with that. I have found most city people to be fair minded, even though some of them are rude. I am sure that all honourable members will agree with me when I say that people in the more favoured areas are able to see major sporting events, to pursue cultural activities - some take an interest in these things although the majority do not - to visit libraries and to enjoy surfing beaches and mountain walks. They can hop into a car and within an hour or so they can enjoy any of these things that people in outback areas cannot enjoy. I am not complaining about that, but we would like to be granted one amenity that has become part of the modern way of living, and that is television. Extension of television to outback areas should not be based on economics; it should be based on Australia’s future development and the filling up of isolated parts of this continent.
I come now to the critical point of my few comments and that is in regard to local government. I have heard this matter mentioned today and I agree with many of the points raised. For those who have been associated with local government organisations one great fact is emerging - the smaller municipalities at least are faced with a critical choice. Either the developmental work of the municipality must cease or new avenues of finance must be found. People are already being rated up to the point beyond which no lozal authority can go. Even if times were normal - I speak again of the areas of which I am more closely associated; the inland areas and the northern areas - the position would be critical. But times are not normal because of the drought conditions. Even where the drought has been alleviated or no longer exists, its aftermath is very much In evidence. Too many local authorities throughout the length and breadth of this nation are at their wits end trying to collect rates that are owing.
I must pay a tribute to all local government men wherever they are. Most of us have been associated with local government bodies in one way or another and know how thankless this job is. One has to deal with matters that are intimately associated with the daily lives of people. The provision of roads in rural areas is itself a huge problem. It is only 9 months since I was chairman of the shire council in my area and I know that we spent something like $100,000 on one road. That was on forming alone; there was no question of sealing the road. Nevertheless it was a road of which we were quite proud. It was a strategic road leading up to the cattle producing areas of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Unfortunately, when the drought hit the more productive parts of the Gulf country, about 10,000 cattle were transported in a period of 3 or 4 weeks and the road on which we had spent $100,000 finished in a state of complete collapse. That amount was equivalent to twice our yearly allocation for roads in that area. Obviously the provision of money to put that road back into order would be an insoluble problem. Similar difficulties have arisen everywhere. But for the beef roads system, which has made such a tremendous contribution to these areas, local government bodies would be on the way out because they could not provide these arterial roads.
Electricity, libraries, health services, footpaths, kerbing and channelling are all matters that make up a municipality and cost a lot of money. Funds have to be provided for them but the source of revenue is shrinking more and more as time goes on. In many inland towns local government is the greatest industry. Indeed sometimes it is the only surviving industry. I can name three or four towns where easily the biggest industry and the greatest employer in the whole area is the municipal council. These councils want to keep their 50 or 60 men in employment because probably no other jobs are available for them. But what is happening in these areas? Rates are already probably ls 6d, 2s 6d or even 3s 6d in the £1. How can the councils increase rates when already the amounts owing, even at the existing figures, are presenting a problem? The only alternative is to cease all development work and put employees off. I submit these views very respectfully to the Treasurer and I hope that the message will get through to him, wherever he may be.
– In December 1962 a Joint Select Committee was appointed by this Parliament to inquire into and report on the printing, publication and distribution of Parliamentary papers and Government publications. The honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) was the Chairman of that Committee and I had the honour to be the Vice-Chairman. The report of the Committee was brought down in this Parliament on 13 th May 1964. Three of the recommendations made by the Committee dealt with the size of paper for Commonwealth and Parliamentary publications. The first recommendation was:
That the publishing office endeavour to standardise, wherever it is appropriate and practicable to do so, the sizes of paper used in Commonwealth publications.
The second recommendation was:
That as soon as it is possible to do so, the Parliamentary Papers be printed in demy quarto size.
And the third recommendation was:
That as from the time the demy quarto size is adopted, all papers that are, or are likely to be, ordered to be printed in the Parliamentary and Ministerial Paper series be prepared in demy quarto size.
Those recommendations were unanimous after comprehensive evidence had been taken. Oral evidence was heard from fiftyfour witnesses and written submissions were made by numerous others. In particular the Committee took note of the evidence given by the Commonwealth Government Printer. His oral evidence was heard on 11th March 1963. On page 14 of the Committee’s report the Government Printer is recorded as having said:
If the above objections can be met to the satisfaction of the Parliament I lean strongly to the view that the royal octavo size would be most suitable for Government publications and that Australia would gain immeasurably in prestige as a result of the change.
He further said at page 16 of the report:
That, subject to such exceptions as may be approved by the Publications Committee, royal octavo should become the official size for Government publications in lieu of foolscap folio.
That was in March 1963. On 1st August 1963 the Commonwealth Government Printer submitted a further report to the Joint Select Committee in which he talked about a conference arranged by the Standards Association of Australia. A comprehensive report came from the conference between the Standards Association, Printing and Allied Trades Employers Federation of Australia, the Commonwealth Government Printer, the New South Wales Government Printer, Associated Chambers of Manufactures, paper manufacturers, envelope manufacturers and various other organisations that would be interested in the standardisation of paper sizes. In summarising the comments at the discussion the Commonwealth Government Printer said in his report:
Whilst many speakers agreed that international sizes may eventually be adopted on a world-wide basis, they doubted that any change would be made in Australia inside, possibly, 20 years.
A little later in bis report he said:
The concensus of opinion at the Conference was:
Later in his report he makes these recommendations to the Committee:
With these factors in mind, I now recommend to the Joint Select Committee:
Acting on this information and evidence given by the Commonwealth Government Printer the Committee made the recommendation that I have read out. I remind honourable members that the report of the Select Committee was presented to the Parliament in May 1964. In May 1966 the Commonwealth Government Printer again prepared a report entitled ‘The Size of Parliamentary Papers and Departmental Publications’. In this report he made completely new recommendations and suggested things that he advised the Select Committee not to adopt in his earlier report and when giving evidence before the Committee. I refer to his comment that international sizes could not be introduced at this stage and that perhaps it would be 20 years before these sizes could be introduced into Australia. But in the report that he presented in May 1966 the Government Printer said at page 20:
That, as from the beginning of the new Parliament in 1967 -
The then Speaker of the Parliament, Sir John McLeay, wrote to me as a member of the Joint Select Committee and asked my opinion of those recommendations. In my reply to him dated 30th June 1966 I said, among other things:
My decision in favour of ‘demy quarto’ was reached in order to reduce substantially the strength of these objections-
They were the objections stated by the Government Printer to the Joint Select Committee - and at the same time to standardise parliamentary and government publications to a traditional paper size with fairly popular support and capable of easy alteration to an international paper size at a later date.
Now that the Commonwealth Government Printer has indicated that many of the objections to the introduction of international paper sizes raised, during the deliberations of the Committee, have been removed or reduced I have no objection to the following recommendations of the Commonwealth Government Printer:
I then outlined the recommendations with which I agreed, but I did query one of them. My query in this direction turned out to be accepted and parliamentary papers, including journals, are now bound in the international size B5 rather than in the international size A4. I do not complain about the size of the papers although I think that the foolscap size is much too large. The Government publications these days are much more attractively printed and are easier to handle. I agree that the international size was the correct size to adopt, but I question whether the Parliament, and the Joint Select Committee in particular, was given evidence that was based entirely on fact. As the Joint Select Committee brought down a recommendation based on evidence that was given by the Commonwealth Government Printer, I question why the Committee’s recommendation should have been overridden on the advice of the Government Printer, who changed his evidence and the opinions that he had expressed to the Committee only two years earlier.
The reason I raise this topic is because I have now been given evidence that the printing industry and paper manufacturers throughout Australia are finding it difficult to meet the international paper sizes. As the Government Printer has given this evidence, as I agreed with his evidence during the course of the Committee hearing, as I agreed to the recommendations that he made in his latest report in May 1966 in commenting on them to the previous Speaker, Sir John McLeay, I want to know whether the Government Printer and the Government in introducing the international paper size have done the right thing economically by Australia and also by the printing and paper manufacturing industries throughout Australia. Because I have not much time in which to advance further arguments I propose to quote from a letter which gives an indication of some of the difficulties now being encountered in the printing and paper manufacturing industries. The letter states:
This letter is written on a personal and confidential basis, because of the somewhat difficult area it covers on this vexatious matter of the introduction of International Standards Organisation printing sizes for parliamentary papers and government publications.
The change of mind by the Commonwealth Government Printer following comments made to him . . . appears mainly to have been influenced by the problems which could have resulted from printing Hansard in the large demy quarto (10i in x 8i in) size, instead of the smaller and more easily handled royal octavo (91 in x 6 in) format.
The sudden and very surprising switch made by Mr Arthur from his original submission to the Joint Select Committee, in which he logically based his recommendations on selected British Standard sizes, to a later recommendation on ISO sizes, came as a severe shock to thinking people in the graphic arts industry.
Moreover news of Mr Arthur’s surprise move came to the trade via a brief public announcement in Melbourne; no prior discussion was held with any section of the printing industry or, in fact, were even the State Government Printers consulted.
There can be no question that if the Parliament requires the Government Printer to produce parliamentary papers and government publications in International Standards Organisation printing sizes, then he must do so. But, when the Commonwealth Government Printer distributes throughout the whole of the Graphic Arts Industry a folder which is headed: ‘International Paper Sizes for Australian Government Printing’, and which goes on to state that ‘From 1st January 1967 conversion to International Paper Sizes will begin for all other printing matter including publications, forms, stationery and envelopes for the Australian Government’, you will appreciate the effect this announcement has had in a major industry operating in all of its many divisions on firmly established British Standard sizes for Machinery and finished printed material.
There is no need for me to go over old ground on this subject because the facts are very clearly and thoroughly covered in the report by your Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications, 13th May 1964, including the recommendations by the Select Committee on the use of selected British Standard sizes.
The letter goes on at a later stage:
The facts, in this particular area, are that Mr Arthur’s printed announcement includes the normal list of International Organization envelope sizes which of course, are designed to efficiently hold only ISO sizes. At the same time, Australia, as a member of the Universal Postal Union, were signatories to the Vienna 1946 Congress decision on a proposal to standardise envelope sizes to suit electronic sorting equipment.
This indicates that somewhere along the line either the person who gave me this information has misled me or the Commonwealth Government Printer has misled, first, the Joint Select Committee, and then certain officers of the Parliament and of the Department of the Treasury. I want to know from the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) or one of his representatives whether the recommendation to introduce international sizes for Government and Parliamentary and departmental papers was the correct one, whether the economies that it was suggested could be effected in the printing of Commonwealth documents have in fact been achieved, or whether there is difficulty in keeping paper standards up and also whether there is strife in the printing and paper manufacturing industries throughout Australia. The Joint Select Committee spent 18 months investigating this matter, from December 1962 to May 1964. We took evidence and made recommendations. Our recommendations were apparently overridden, and I think they may have been overridden on advice that was not based on fact.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, $12,913,000.
– Today, Mr Chairman, we were treated to a spectacle that I believe the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) should investigate. This is a matter that has already been referred to in the House. A certain newspaper sought to imply that three members of the New South Wales Parliament were involved in some kind of corruption or bribery. We are accustomed to the practice of the Press of working on insinuations and making slanted, oblique references to various matters - in other words, never spoil a good story for the sake of the truth. I am ashamed to say that an honourable member of this Parliament has sought to perpetuate this kind of insinuation. Before the Attorney-General came into the chamber 1 said that I thought consideration should be given to the question whether the Press can continue to be allowed to get away with slanting references of this kind.
Honourable members on the other side may also have felt the sting and lash of this kind of newspaper reference. In the present case the reference was made by the rather scurrilous afternoon Press. The following day the more dignified morning newspapers printed a denial by the Premier of New South Wales and then went on to print a statement, buried deep in the letterpress, which was issued by the people concerned, Alderman and Mrs Thomas, through their solicitors. On the one hand we have a scurrilous, filthy reference and on the other hand we have the denial, which I propose to read as it was published. The newspaper article in which it appeared read in part:
Later, Mr and Mrs Thomas issued a statement through their solicitors, Barkell and Peacock. The statement said, ‘We refer to the article which appeared in the edition of the “Daily Mirror” dated the 18th day of September 1967, in which statements are attributed to us.
We wish to make it clear that the alleged statements are a conglomeration of fact and fane) and do not accurately record the interview given by us to the three representatives of the “Daily Mirror”.
Note that - three representatives of the Daily Mirror’, which is a Sydney afternoon newspaper, for the benefit of anybody who happens to come from another State. The article continued:
At such interview no notes were taken by the “Daily Mirror” representatives, and the article, as it appears, reflects more accurately the statements of the “Daily Mirror” personnel to us during the interview rather than any statement or statements made by us to them.’
In other words what is being suggested is that the three gentlemen from the ‘Daily Mirror’ were instructed to go to these two people, one of whom had just completed 6 months in gaol - he had paid the penalty - and to get a story. They were simply told to go out and get a story.
– And forget about the truth.
– Well, never spoil a good story for the truth. Then the statement by Mr and Mrs Thomas, as reported in the newspaper, continued:
We have no evidence whatsoever directly implicating three members of the Legislative Assembly in the affairs of the Warringah Council, and all evidence and information which we have has been given to the police authorities or given in evidence in past court proceedings.’
It is bad enough when insinuations of this kind are repeated in this chamber by a member of the Parliament, but it is also pretty bad when such a standard of Press reporting is allowed in Australia. It appears that no matter what is done by some people in the interests of the community, there are certain newspapers that will go to great lengths to offer this kind of criticism or this kind of fouled-up filthy comment. There are no lengths to which they will not go, and I repeat that’ I am very sorry that a member of the Parliament should get up in this place and perpetuate this kind of insinuation and place it on the records of the Parliament.
What kind of a community have we in which the Press finds it possible to sell this kind of stuff? The statement that was made must have been utterly false. The statement that was attributed to ex-Councillor and Mrs Thomas was actually what the newspaper representatives had said to them. In other words these young men - I take it they were young men - went out on the orders of their employer to get a story. I imagine that they were told that if they could get some story involving members of Parliament or somebody else occupying a respected position in the community and could make a charge involving bribery and corruption, thai would be a good story that might sell a few more copies of the filthy newspaper. If we get this kind of reporting in our community, do honourable members wonder at some of the expressions of feeling that we get? Not very long ago, I left Australia to go to Manila, in the Philippines. The day I left there was in the Press a feature article stating that the Filipinos were hopping mad about the Locsin case, and everybody who read that story was supposed to feel great sorrow about this poor person, Locsin, who could not get into Australia. I was in Manila a few hours later. I went right through the city and I did not find one Filipino hopping mad. This was quite contrary to the story featured on the front page of one of our newspapers.
Then we get the slanted news on public questions. We all have heard a great deal about the Monash Labor Club recently. The members of that Club have been reading the newspapers and have not obtained correct information from them. So they seek to give succour to our enemies. Can we wonder at this when we see the way newspaper articles are slanted? We have seen another example of this kind of thing only today. It almost bears repeating. The couple that I have mentioned issued through their solicitors a statement about a newspaper article that had attributed certain statements to these things done in the name of publicity
We wish to make it clear that the alleged statements are a conglomeration of fact and fancy and do not accurately record the interview given by us to the three representatives of the ‘Daily mirror’.
At such interview no notes were taken by the Daily Mirror’ representatives, and the article, as it appears, reflects more accurately the statements of the ‘Daily Mirror’ personnel to us . . .
In other words, at the interview the pressmen said certain things. Then they went away and reported that those statements had been made by the couple concerned. Mr Chairman, if this community cannot be protected from this kind of thing, we in the Parliament are to blame for allowing these incidents to occur. If we allow the community to be saturated with this kind of false and slanted information and half truths, we deserve what we get. In relation to these things done in the name of publicity and public relations, we can-
– How would the honourable member stop it?
– How are we to stop the honourable member? He has perpetuated this sort of thing in this chamber. We cannot stop him. because he speaks under privilege. But the Press is not under privilege. If honourable members check the Hansard report of what the honourable member said earlier today, they will see the story, unless he has altered the report. The situation that exists has caused me to participate in the debate now more in sorrow than in anger. The community at large does not have information apart from that which it receives from the newspapers. Honourable members, however, have other information. They have access to accurate reports from overseas and to accurate reports by our great public servants about anything that happens in Australia. Those reports are completely unrelated to what we read in the yellow Press that we allow to perpetuate its existence.
– What did the newspapers say about the Australian Labor Party at election time?
– As far as I can see, the Press has been selling newspapers as usual by running down the Government of the day. If Labor were in office, it would be just the same. This is how newspapers are sold. If they publish praise of anybody, they do not sell. But if they denigrate the great organisations of this community and get publicity in that way, they can always sell. If those who run a newspaper belong to the great confederation of knockers who run down everything about the place, whether it is the Ord River scheme, the Chowilla Dam project or anything else, they can always get headlines and make the people think that they are-
– Order! The honourable member is getting a little wide of the proposed expenditure for the Attorney-General’s Department, which is the subject matter now before the Committee. I suggest that some of the comments that he is making are not relevant to the proposed expenditure for that Department.
- Mr Chairman, if the Attorney-General’s Department is not the appropriate Department to look into the matter that I have been discussing, I would like to know which department is. The Attorney-General is the chief law officer of the Commonwealth. 1 am discussing the law that governs the operations of these organs of publicity throughout the country. If you say that the matter with which I have been dealing is not related to the law and to the responsibility of the AttorneyGeneral for advising the Government on legal affairs, I must bow to your ruling. But freedom of the Press does not mean that it must have licence. Yet that is what the Press in Australia indulges in - complete and utter licence. I am glad to see that the Attorney-General is present in the chamber to consider the matter sympathetically and favourably.
- Mr Chairman, I think that the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) should really have been discussing Division 122 of the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department, which relates to bankruptcy administration. He and his Party are politically bankrupt. Coming from him, of course, some of his comments were appropriate enough. It would be difficult to find anybody in this place who, when participating in debates, spends more of his time traducing people on the basis of inaccurate reports and McCarthyist attitudes. However, I sympathise with the honourable member’s general approach and philosophy this evening. We ought not to be promulgating reports that traduce without an adequate background of information. But the way in which the honourable member carries on does not accord with that principle. He may have serious words with the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) when that right honourable gentleman comes home from wherever he has vanished to after his recent tropical aberrations.
I, too, want to discuss a matter relating to the Press. Let us assume that somebody wants to take action against the Press. The Australian Press is very powerful indeed, both financially and in its control over all the mass media of communication. The ordinary citizen is faced with an almost impossible task if he wants to establish civil rights or legal claims against the Press on account of reports published about him. The first point that I want to make to the Attorney-General (Mr ‘ Bowen) is that he would be taking steps towards ensuring a democratic community if he were to reduce the cost of litigation. We all know of people who have challenged the Press over reports such as the one mentioned a few minutes ago by the honourable member for Macarthur. We all know what a tremendous undertaking it is. First of all, the cost of resorting to the law is beyond the bounds of reason in this country. It may well be that Queen’s Counsel and all the others who make up the phalanx of the panoply of the law ought to be maintained at the financial level to which they are accustomed. But the cost of the law makes it impossible for the ordinary citizen to have recourse to legal proceedings. This may not matter much if one is just having an argument with the local council. One may see what one can do and he finds that the appropriate Act prescribes that he must do this, that and the other thing. The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, for example, provides, I think, that in many instances a person may take legal action. But how can the ordinary citizen afford to do so? I believe that in a democracy we have to find some way to reduce the cost of litigation or else establish some means, such as by appointing a public defender, as has been done in New South Wales in a limited way, to enable the ordinary citizen to take legal action.
Let us suppose that a person has issued a writ against one of Australia’s great newspaper companies. The case may go to the Supreme Court, then to an appeal court and finally, as happened in one instance recently, to the Privy Council in England. All this involves such substantial sums of money that the average person has no hope of footing the bill. Let us assume that the litigant loses his case. He may be faced with costs amounting to $10,000 or $20,000 without getting anything, or he may have to fight the case from the start again in the original court. I think this is a travesty of justice and a travesty of democracy. It does not do any of us any good. It removes powerful financial interests in this country from the possibility of challenge by litigation. I believe that the Attorney-General has a reasonable understanding of the general processes of these things and of attitudes of law, but the Commonwealth itself ought to establish an effective legal service bureau. I know that we already have the Legal Service Bureaux but, of course, it does not give much service. It might have some legality but it is not much use to any ordinary citizen. So the first thing we have to do is to establish an apparatus by which we can assist ordinary- citizens to have recourse to law, and by which we can remove the financial cost from them. This ought to be an established national principle in a democracy such as ours.
I want to raise other matters which come under the Attorney-General’s purview, in particular as far as he has administration of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The Attorney-General is the administrator of what is known as the phone tapping legislation, in other words, the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act. The Attorney-General has a unique power in this community. He has the right to issue an authority for the Director-General of Security to have a citizen’s telephone tapped. When this legislation was first brought into this Parliament we, on this side of the House, objected to it. In general principle we still object. It seems to be an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the telephone system, of a person’s life and of everything else. It seems unlikely that the kind of thing that one would learn over the telephone would be the kind of thing that would be of much assistance to the Security Organisation. In the system that applies in Britain the appropriate Minister has to table a report of the number of times such authorities have been issued. I think this goes to the heart of the matter. In this area of security we have established an air of secrecy and have removed it from public and parliamentary responsibility and, I should imagine, in large measure from ministerial responsibility. This ought not to be tolerated. No matter what it means in an administrative way and no matter what it means in making the Security Service work, in a different way it is important that every public activity should have its final authority and responsibility lying in the Parliament. It should be accessible to some authority other than the Executive authority in a case such as this.
I, along with, I hope, most honourable members of this Parliament, deeply resented the Minister’s attitude in relation to the potential, threatened or possible tapping of members’ telephones. The Press, which the honourable member for Macarthur has been referring to, has said: ‘Why should these people be sacred, sacrosanct or protected?’ I do not think this is the issue at all. The access of a person to his member of Parliament is one of the fundamental principles of parliamentary democracy. Anything that inhibits it in any way ought not to be tolerated. If people want to contact us by telephone or if we want to contact people by telephone, it should be possible without let or hindrance or without the suggestion that someone is prying into the conversation. What is the suggestion behind the Minister’s statement that he would not say Yea or Nay about the tapping of members’ phones? I got the impression that possibly no honourable members’ telephones are being tapped at the moment, but it may be that I am unduly charitable; I do not know. When one is speaking on the telephone one hears odd noises and there are bugs. Possibly it could be a bulldozer on the coaxial cable. The Minister admits that he has the authority to have other honourable members’ telephones tapped. Who is this Minister - this Attorney-General? He is an estimable character, highly learned in the law, but he is a member of this Parliament. He has, as far as I know, no special wisdom conferred upon him because the citizens of his electorate made a mistake in sending him here. He has no particular claim to be more loyal than you, Mr Chairman, or I, or the honourable member for Macarthur, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) or any other honourable member. The presumption behind the Executive action in such a situation as this is that one group of members of Parliament are loyal beyond challenge and pure beyond reproach and the rest of us are not. I think this is presumptuous, arrogant and unparliamentary and we ought to attempt to find some machinery which does not permit this Executive arrogance, impertinence, or call it what we will, to persist. So I bring before the Committee the general question of the administration of the ASIO.
I know one or two of the people who are highly placed in the ASIO. As I know it, their record is possible pure beyond reproach. They are people of great attainment but they are the only ones I know in the Organisation. Somewhere in these estimates we find that $2.75m. is being spent upon the ASIO. Upon whom is this money being spent? What is the form of recruitment for the ASIO? How does a person join the ASIO? Does anyone know anyone who has joined the ASIO? Does anyone know anyone who will admit, under challenge, that he is a member of the ASIO? Most Australians regard it is an insult if they are accused of being a member of the Security Organisation. This is a bad thing. If it is a body of public servants carrying out the kind of service that is expected, it is bad that its members should be looked upon, for example, as pimps. So this is, I think, an important matter.
The ASIO can have a serious effect upon a number of people in the community. A number of people I know have had their naturalisation refused because of security reports. In one particular case I have challenged the matter at every possible level. I have fronted up to the Minister and have done everything I could. I have known one particular person exceptionally well for 10 or 11 years. I know people who also know him very well. I would say that it would be unlikely that any person in the circles in which I associate would be able to hide his affiliations with dangerous or subversive people. We know, of course, that there are members on the other side who think that everybody is subversive who disagrees with their political philosophy. This is not the Minister’s attitude, and possibly it is not the attitude of three-quarters of ‘ members opposite. However, in the particular instance to which I refer, it is impossible, in my belief, that the Security Organisation would know more about this man than the rest of us know. We do not know who these security people are. We have established an atmosphere of pimping around this Organisation that ought not to be tolerated. I do not think we need this kind of security organisation. The Police Force, established in a long tradition of ministerial and other responsibility, is the body to undertake this work if we must have this sort of thing. National morale is the most important protection for the security of the community. Anything that establishes an atmosphere of pimping is dangerous to the morale of the community.
Let me now refer to something that I read in that most dangerous and subversive publication ‘Lot’s Wife’, which happens to be the periodical paper of the Monash University students, some of whom I understand might even be Liberals. Under the heading ‘ASIO Agent Coerces Student’ the following appears:
A letter to the editors of ‘Lot’s Wife” last term revealed that a Monash student has been approached by, an official of the Australia Security Intelligence Organisation with a view to his joining the Communist Party and informing on their activities. The student, Mr A. Dowsey, a fourth year Arts student, refused to co-operate with the officer concerned, and has made public the events of the interview.
This report can be read on the third page of the issue of ‘Lot’s Wife’ of 5th September 1967, so any member who cares can see it for himself. The report, in part, states:
When Mr Dowsley then asked why he had been chosen ‘He hedged a bit, and said that my background had been checked and found to be very loyal’.
It is nice to be able to say who is loyal and who is not. The report continues:
I mentioned the names of two people I know in ASIO (one has now left, after being enrolled for one first year subject at Monash last year). I have since learned that one of them recommended me as someone who, if necessary, could supply them with information at Monash.’
One of the features of Monash University is, I gather, that it carries out its operations with a great deal of publicity. It is probably unnecessary to employ anyone to try to find out what is going on there. In this area of security there is tremendous nonsense. I went to a meeting in Brisbane last year. There were dangerous people at that meeting. They were people who believed in peace and who did not believe in the war in Vietnam and things like that. A police car - it might have been a security car - remained outside the meeting place from some time on Friday night until some time on Sunday night watching us all carefully. I am a gentle and courteous character, so I went over to the car and said to the occupants: ‘Why sit out here? It is better inside. We can let you have all the lists so you need not guess who is coming inside. We will tell you.’ This, I believe, is part of the atmospherics. This is a great secrecy industry on which it is proposed to spend $2.75m this year. For that expenditure we could install another couple of wireless sets in the Fill aircraft. We could do all manner of things. The present situation is all so much nonsense. The presumption is that there are people in this Parliament who are not loyal. The presumption is that there are some Australians who are disloyal. The presumption is that the ordinary police services could not undertake this work. The presumption is that the ASIO ought not to be answerable to this Parliament. If the Government believes that there should be an organisation such as this, perhaps we should establish a committee of this Parliament to keep it under constant surveillance. I do not have in mind just the bit by bit reports that may flow to the Prime Minister, if he is about some time, or that the Attorney-General has before him and may show, under seal, carefully, to the Leader of the Opposition, if requested nicely, but a body which can keep the organisation under constant surveillance. There are enough members of this Parliament to act on such a committee. They sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee. They are sworn to secrecy. I know some of them very well. They sit beside me and so far I have not found them spilling any of the beans that come before them in that august Committee. I believe it is important that we here as Australians, with some attitude to the Australian national morale, with some sense of the Australian national spirit, where we have never had a traitor and in my opinion are never likely to have one - of course, all sorts of people are wandering through the community - should do something to protect our interests.
Finally I would like the Attorney-General to exercise his authority as chief law officer and look at the application of section 47 of the Repatriation Act. I refer to that section because it is a legal section that I have had a lot of do with. I do not believe that the wishes of the Parliament are being carried out thoroughly as far as the application of this section is concerned. The AttorneyGeneral should establish some principle of policy to look very carefully at matters that are referred to him in order to see whether the provisions relating to onus of proof and so on are properly applied because I presume that in his capacity as chief law officer in this place and representing us in this matter he is here to see that the wishes of the Parliament and the application of the law by public bodies and so on are carried out.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 38
Question so resolved in affirmative. Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrinl Research Organisation
Proposed expenditure, $31,700,000.
Department of Education and Science
Proposed, expenditure, $49,197,000.
– The estimates new before the Committee are for research and education. The Committee, at least, will readily agree that there is hardly anything in the nation that is of greater importance than these matters. For a number of years two points of view have been before the Australian people in respect of education, science and research. The first is that there are very serious deficiencies - in fact a crisis - in many parts of the system of education, research and science. On the other hand, in answer to this point of view the Government from time to time quotes the amount of money that has been spent in the field in recent years and disputes the suggestion that there are any shortages.
This evening I want to bring to the notice of the Committee a little of the evidence that shows that the situation in education, science and research in Australia today is, in fact, a very serious one indeed. I have discovered the evidence of this in a very short search through the newspapers and other reports of the last 12 months. Consistently throughout that year there have been very fundamental criticisms from people of great authority in education and research. I want to bring these propositions to the notice of the Committee. I hope that the Government and its spokesmen will not continue to ignore, as they have done so far this evening, whatever is put forward in debate by the Opposition.
The first proposition I want to mention was put forward on 19th October 1966 in the Melbourne ‘Age’. The Vice-President of the Victorian Institute of Colleges, Dr P. G, Law, is reported to have said that many Australians were smug and selfsatisfied about the Australian, education system. He said that this was despite the fact that Australia lagged far behind Britain and the United States in tertiary education. Then on 9fh November 1966 in the Melbourne Herald’ we have the headline ‘University man says more aid vital*. This was Sir George Paton, then Vice-Chancellor of the Melbourne University. He is reported to have said that universities would never overcome their problems until they were given more money. The article continues:
The Commonwealth would have to either give the States more funds or increase its direct contribution to university development, he said.
Then on 23rd September 1966, again in the Melbourne ‘Age’, we find the headline Grants Anger- Federal Total “Miserly”, says Premier’. The article reads:
The Federal Government should have provided half as much again for university education, the Premier (Sir Henry Bolte) said last night. ‘It is time the States had a show-down over university grants,’ Sir Henry said. ‘In my opinion, the Federal Government’s contribution is miserly and unrealistic.
Then on 30th September 1966 the ‘Canberra Times’ produced an article from their South Australian correspondent which was headed ‘SA universities* Expansion Cut by 24%’. The article had an introductory paragraph which read:
The universities in SA are still reeling under the shock, of it. The grants programme for the 1967-69 triennium announced by Senator Gorton last week means a cut of 24% in the planned local expansion programme. Comparable cuts elsewhere range from 11% in Queensland; 10% in NSW and Victoria, 7% in Tasmania, and 3% in the ACT.
Then in the ‘Australian’ on 7th November, a leading article was headed:
Squeeze on higher education.
With their fees having to be raised and their teaching capacity curtailed because their grants have been reduced, it appears that the universities are indeed regressing into what Professor J. Lewis of the University of New England called last week ‘their darkest pre-Murray days’.
Towards the end of the last calendar year, the Melbourne ‘Age’ on 21st December 1966 reported:
Premier warns on varsity funds.
Victorian universities can look for little hope of improvement in their financial situation in the near future.
Melbourne University is already facing a possible cutin its new student intake next year because of financial problems.
In 1967 we have the same story over and over again. On 17th January 1967 the Melbourne ‘Age’ reported:
Urgent plea on varsities.
More money vital need, science head.
Imperative action’ by the Federal and State Governments to spend more on higher education was urged yesterday by the President of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (Sir Fred Schonell).
There is no widely held conviction by Australian governments that an expansion of higher education, in all its aspects, is an urgent, vital national necessity’, he said.
These statements have been made by men who are all thoroughly experienced in this field and have been engaged in the work for many years. On 24th February 1967, the Melbourne ‘Age’ reported:
Govt. cuts to hit graduate studies.
Major cuts in Government grants would have disastrous effects on post-graduate training at the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne, the ViceChancellor of Melbourne University (Sir George Paton) said yesterday.
Melbourne University would receive this year only $180,000 for its basic post-graduate training compared with the $430,000 it received in 1966.
The effect of this, as those who know the University of Melbourne particularly will agree, is that the retrenchments and cuts in research have in fact taken place. The Bulletin’ on 11th March 1967 under the headline ‘Tight Fisted’, stated:
There are good grounds for saying that the Commonwealth is being tight fisted with research money. This is especially so in relation to its general research grants. In the three-year programme just ended, the universities got $6m, and for the biennium beginning this year it has been kept at $6m. Hence the protests, especially Victoria’s.
The story goes on all through the year. On 3rd April 1967, the Melbourne ‘Age’ published an article under the heading ‘Braindrain warnings’. It stated:
Two university vice-chancellors agreed yesterday with Professor G. J. V. Nossal’s warning that restricted expenditure on universities could ‘bleed off’ some of Australia’s most valued scientific and academic talent.
Professor Nossal is one of Australia’s leading research scientists. On 5th April 1967 the ‘Australian’ contained a special article which had been prepared by four writers. Apparently they had been assigned to undertake research into the situation. Their special article was headed ‘Spectre that stalks the universities’ and it stated in the introductory paragraphs:
Few yet realise the full implications of the financial crisis into which universities have been plunged for the next three years.
It is not just staff retrenchments, heavier teaching loads, drastically less research, less equipment and greater overcrowding.
These are serious enough. But they are only the initial effects of a serious change in the whole structure of university financing.
Those findings by the four writers in the Australian’ are confirmed in almost every conversation that one has with anyone engaged in research or in university work. The ‘Canberra Times’ on 14th April 1967 reported:
Spending on education ‘totally inadequate’.
Australia’s spending on education was ‘totally inadequate’ to meet her growing demands, economist Sir Douglas Copland said at the Australian National University conferring of degrees yesterday.
The ‘Canberra Times* on 15th April 1967, under the heading ‘University face presures’, gave the conclusion reached by Lord Florey. The opinions I have given are those of leading research and university men throughout Australia. Their conclusions follow one another and consistently confirm and support each other. The Canberra Times’ reported:
The Chancellor of the Australian National University, Lord Florey, believes pressure from taxpayers and legislators will make it difficult for universities to continue studies which produce no immediate practical results.
On 17th April 1967 the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ published a news item under the heading ‘Squeeze on finance hits universities’. This is a statement by another leading university figure. The article stated:
The sudden brake on finance had affected Australian universities cruelly, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Zelman Cowen, said yesterday.
On 12th May 1967 the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reported:
Professor gives warning.
Australian university education must not be allowed to revert to its old state when birth and wealth alone opened the doors of opportunity, Professor F. K. Crowley said yesterday.
That state of affairs has returned substantially to Australian universities. The Melbourne ‘Herald’ on 18th May 1967, under the heading ‘Prof, slaps Govt, curb on varsities’, stated:
A deliberate policy of the Federal Government was responsible for the financial difficulties of Australian universities, Professor A. S. Buchanan said this afternoon.
On 23rd June 1967 the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ contained a report that showed that the situation was bad in State schools as well as in universities. The article read:
Survey claims State school inadequacies.
The NSW Teachers’ Federation said yesterday a survey has shown that more than 35,000 children in NSW State schools are being taught in classes of more than 40.
The Melbourne ‘Age’ on 1st July 1967, under the heading ‘Unable to fill top teaching jobs’, reported:
The top positions at four metropolitan high schools could be vacant next year. . . .
On 17th July 1967 the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ published an article which stated:
In 1968 thousands of young Australians with qualifications which should be sufficient to gain entrance to a university will be turned away because there are not enough places.
On 18th April 1967 the Melbourne ‘Age’ reported:
Quota fear for Dip. Ed. students.
Holders of Education Department studentships faced the danger of not being able to complete their university courses because of quota restrictions, the Secretary of the Victorian Secondary Teachers’ Association (Mr B. J. Conway) said yesterday.
I could go on through article after article, producing for the consideration of the Committee the considered statements of leaders in research, education and universities in Australia that there are shocking and serious deficiencies in our education system. But what effect would it have? Obviously honourable members will go on with the debate on the estimates in the same form as before and we will find that the situation will be repeated year after year. I will conclude by referring to a well considered statement by Professor Nossal, to whom 1 referred a little earlier. He is now one of Australia’s leading research men. His comment is reported in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 4th April 1967 in an article headed ‘University cash “ danger point “ ‘. It stated:
Professor G. J. V. Nossal last night warned that the university financial squeeze could increase Australia’s ‘brain drain’ - the flow of academics to overseas posts.
The universities, and more particularly the longer established ones, are going through a period of financial crisis’, he said.
What might be done about this? In the same speech Professor Nossal gave an adequate answer. He said that we need a fiveyear plan. The report of his speech continued:
In addition to a one-third increase in expenditure on education, Professor Nossal recommended:
The Commonwealth Department of Science and Education should prepare a five-year plan increasing expenditure on education from the present 3.8% of the gross national product to 5%.
A significant proportion of this additional expenditure should be devoted to post-graduate education -to bridge the gap between when a doctor of philosophy graduates and the time when he is ready for a lectureship.
Enough funds be provided for research units which have established their status as world leaders to indulge in ‘legitimate empire building’.
Leaders of the mass media should make a massive effort’ to combat the anti-intellectualism, strong in Australia, in an effort to convince the voter that money spent on education and science was a better investment than an equivalent amount spent on defence and social services.
More vigorous local research be encouraged by increasing funds to Commonwealth grant-giving bodies, such as the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Grants Committee.
I imagine that anyone who realises the importance of education and research and anyone who can honestly look at the situation today and be aware of the overwhelming evidence of its serious deficiencies would thoroughly support the kind of proposals that have been put forward by Professor Nossal in the statements that I have just quoted. To implement such a scheme would mean an increase in the amount of money provided by the Commonwealth of at least SI 00m a year. Last year the increase was S39.2m. This would be the very minimum required to meet these needs.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Fox)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to speak only on one item in these estimates. I refer to Division 160 - Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies - for which an amount of $350,000 has been appropriated. I regard this as a matter of great importance for reasons that I will give in a moment.
The annual report of the Institute for 1966-67 was delivered to the Government Printer many weeks ago. Unhappily, he has not yet been able to produce the printed report and therefore it has not been tabled in the House. I have some roneo copies of the report and they have been given to the Clerk for distribution. They are now available for honourable members. I would have liked to table this report formally and the Minister and the Opposition very courteously said that they would co-operate in giving leave for that to be done, but unfortunately the Clerk has reminded me that since we are in Committee that cannot be done formally at this time. I trust that the Minister will be able to repair this omission before very long. Nevertheless, as I have said, copies of the report are now available for the perusal of honourable members.
Many things might be considered important from a political or national viewpoint. However, what this item is concerned with is not merely of political or national importance - it is of world importance. Perhaps it is the only item in the whole Budget which is of world importance from an academic point of view. I will try to give some reasons for this.
As honourable members know, the Australian Aboriginals are the sole surviving examples in the world of a pre-agricultural community without any agricultural past and unaffected by surrounding agricultural communities. Therefore, if one is to study the nature of the human community in its pre-agricultural phase one looks to Australia and nowhere else. I repeat the truism that mankind has been on this earth for something over a million years. We now know from the geological records that this is a fact. Of that time, at least 98% has been in the pre-agricultural phase. I think it is unlikely that this 98% of time - which is our own past as well as the past of the Australian Aboriginal - has left no mark upon our inherited behaviour patterns. Therefore, if one is to have any insight into human behaviour patterns he will find the clues in the patterns of the Australian Aboriginals and nowhere else. This is something of world importance. It is the raw material for all human psychology and sociology. It affects all men everywhere.
From an academic point of view it is of tremendous significance. It is available only in Australia for only a short time. There are now very few Aboriginals, if any, who are living completely in the old ways. There are still many Aboriginals who have lived in the old ways but who have now come into settlements or missions. They can remember and tell us something of the past but they will not be alive forever. With this in mind we must retrieve this treasure of inestimable value for all mankind. Unless we do something very quickly it will be lost to humanity forever. As I have said, this is of tremendous importance. It is of much more significance, for example, than the comparatively superficial researches of a man like Freud. It is something which relates really to the nature of human behaviour in society and to everything that we experience. It relates to the forces which hold us together in groups or divide us into communities. These are only eleborations of the behaviour patterns which we brought to their form in a small society - the kind of society which the Australian Aboriginal exemplifies.
I would say, without any hestitation, that whereas this small Budget item is of little significance from a political and national point of view, it outweighs these considerations many times when considered in terms of value for humanity. It outweighs all the other academic work which is being done in Australia at the moment. We have great physicists, especially in the field of astronomy and radio astronomy. In some respects Australians lead the world in these fields. But, they are not really significant, because the research that they do could just as easily be done by someone else in 10, 15 or 100 years’ time. We have had great virologists and neurologists who have led the world in these fields. They have received Nobel Prizes for their work. However, the research that they do and have done could just as easily be carried out by someone else in another 10 years or another century because the subjects they are dealing with will remain available for study. But the research that is being done by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies will have to be done now or not at all because this inestimable raw material is vanishing and will be unobtainable in a few years time. This information lives now not as a coherent structure but mainly in the memory of old men. It will be lost unless research is undertaken now. Australia is the trustee for all humanity of this material which is of tremendous value to men everywhere. We will get it quickly or we will not get it at all.
Having said that, let me record with pleasure and gratitude that the Government has seen fit to act in this matter. It would have been much better, of course, if a government 50 or 60 years ago had seen fit to act because then the riches of available matter would have been far more plentiful and far more available. But at least this Government has seen fit to act. It has set down for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies not a big allocation but an allocation which I think is probably sufficient to employ the scarce academic resources that we have available for this vital work in the immediate future.
I ask honourable members to have a look at the annual report, which is available to them at the present time. As I have said, it is only available in roneoed form but I hope that the printed report will be available soon. Honourable members will see the tremendously valuable work that has been done. For example, in the linguistic field, which is covered by pages 7 to 14, honourable members will see the possibility of retrieving a human language pattern in the primitive form. In Australia over 700 Aboriginal languages are known - not dialects but languages - and all of them are as different from one another as English is from French and most of them are as different from one another as English is from Hungarian. Just imagine, 700 languages, each divided into many dialects! When one realises that before the white man came, the Aboriginal population of Australia was probably only 300,000, and if one remembers that in addition to the 700 languages which we can now classify there are many others that have been lost in the mists of time, one must come to the conclusion that on the average an Australian language was the possession of 300 or 400 people. I believe that this is of the original nature of all human language. Because literacy has spread language over large areas and because political organisations from the Roman Empire onwards - or perhaps from a long time before the Roman Empire onwards - have made languages common over large areas, we are inclined to think that this is of the nature of human language. I do not believe that it is at all and the Australian example will show us something about this. It will show not just what Australian languages are like but what is the origin and nature of all human language.
Consider too the archeology that the Institute is at present engaged in. This is perhaps not such urgent work because much of it will remain and can be looked at in the future. But this is not altogether true because the interpretation of what exists as an archeological factor depends very largely upon the memory of living men who will soon die. Let me read a passage from the report regarding the Koonalda excavations in the Nullarbor Plains of South Australia. It states:
Invaluable and unique data were obtained on the prehistory of the Aboriginals whose ancestors lived there 20,000 or more years ago quarrying flint, and crawling through narrow passages and tunnels from one part of the cavern to another to decorate the wall with petroglyphs. They thus lived a considerable part of their life like the Palaeolithic cave men of Europe, in a dark world illuminated only by their fires, over 200 feet below the surface of the plain in an environment always considered to be feared and avoided by Aboriginals.
This has changed our view of the whole Aboriginal past and by changing our view of the whole Aboriginal past it must change our interpretation of the whole Aboriginal present. Again I ask honourable members to have a look through this report to see the work that we have done in films - which have been acclaimed in Europe - and the work we are doing in ethnomusiOology, not only by recording ceremonies, languages and music on tape, but also by elaborating a theory of music which perhaps - and I say ‘perhaps’ because the theory is still incohate and unformed - will involve a re-interpretation of human musical theory everywhere.
For example, look at the work we have been doing, and it is our most important work, in the field of Aboriginal sociology - the really vanishing thing; the thing which is difficult to determine. I thank the Committee for its attention and I hope that it will take the opportunity of reading this report.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– One of the greatest tragedies of this House today is that we do not have the Minister for Education and Science in our ranks because no topic is of more universal interest than education. Indeed a poll taken quite recently revealed education as being foremost in public sympathy and support. It is my intention tonight to deal with the particular problem of my own constituency. Within the City of Wollongong we have a university college which is under the control of and affiliated with the University of New South Wales. I take pride in the fact that as a former State parliamentarian I played a big part in securing a change in the name of that university college. It was originally a glorified institute of technology; today we have in substance a full university at Wollongong. In 1950 it was a collection of tin sheds with perhaps 30 or 40 students and today there are well over 800 students. But there are many problems and the problems are those mainly of educational tutelage.
This university college was really launched because the State Government accepted responsibility for two-thirds of the cost of the major buildings that are now there. A subvention of $400,000 was provided by the heavy industries in the area. We were duly grateful for that amount but we would naturally appreciate further financial assistance from that source. But as the Wollongong University College has grown, so have its problems, and today as always the demand is for autonomy. It is felt that although the Commonwealth Government has been allocating very substantial sums for the assistance of tertiary education, those sums are not being channelled through proportionately to the needs of the Wollongong University College and today there is frustration and resentment. To use a homely metaphor, the academic staff, the students union and the citizens of my constituency alike feel tha/ they are the little pigs at the trough; that they come to the feast after the lions at Kensington have had their fill. It is a situation that is intolerable. The Wollongong University College is being treated as a preparatory school for the major school at Kensington. This is an intolerable situation for an industrial area which is the major centre of steel production in the southern hemisphere and the major centre of coal production in the southern hemisphere, an area whose industrial production is in value more than Australia’s wheat crop.
The Association of Academic Staff at Wollongong University College on 10th July this year passed a resolution demanding autonomy for that institution by 1972. It has planned a timetable under which it proposes to progress to full autonomy. At present the population which is being served in the Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama districts is 178,000. Adjacent to that in the Berrima, Goulburn, Moss Vale and Campbelltown areas is an additional population bringing the total served up to 233,000. It is considered that, by 1972, at least 280,000 people will be served by a fully fledged and autonomous university at the City of Wollongong. If the percentage terms of the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, which is known as the Martin Committee, were fulfilled we would have at least 1,678 students there at the present time. Actually we have 876 only. In 1966, 68% of the students were part time. They were in the main the children of workers or people who were seeking to supplement the deficiencies of their secondary education. The Wyndham scheme has made its impact this year on enrolments and that is something which is felt universally throughout Australia. Nevertheless it is estimated that by 1972 there will be 1,600 students enrolled at the University college. If the percentages of the Martin report were fulfilled there would be 2,380 students by 1972. The academic staff has prepared in detail a statement on the needs of Wollongong University College. The report states:
Only half of the estimated university students in the Wollongong area enroll here. The reasons for this include the poor range of courses at the Wollongong University College together with inadequate scope and facilities within many of the disciplines already established. The appended table–
That is appended to this document: illustrates the more serious deficiencies that reflect ad hoc measures rather than forward planning, and-
I emphasise this: an apparent determination to maintain the Wollongong University College as a feeder college to Kensington. Wollongong is a major mining and industrial complex, yet the range of science courses offered is narrow, while departmental control from Kensington limits their adaptation to local needs and conditions. Important subjects like Physics, Chemistry and Metallurgy have no staff at professorial rank; Geology is staffed by a lecturer and a tutor; and biology by a senior tutor.
The Arts/Commerce situation worries and frustrates both staff and students: undergraduates must do virtually a prescribed course, which includes only 2 years of English. Students in Economics may complete an Arts sequence in the subject, but not a Commerce sequence. There is no local provision for distinction or honours courses: promising students must go to Kensington - if they can manage it. 3J years after the introduction of humanities there is still only one Professor (in History); other departments are administered by staff of lecturer grade, under the remote control of Kensington professors. A Senior Tutor administers and lectures in Applied Psychology, while simultaneously working for his Ph.D. The Lecturer in General Studies offers courses in Geography. The recruitment of additional staff has proved difficult; able academics are understandably unwilling to shoulder the existing burdens at Wollongong
The indaequacies of the Wollongong University College induce, or force, some students to go elsewhere, if they can afford it.
Local control would break the present vicious circle. It would, as the report states: allow teaching and research to be oriented towards the specific (and sometimes unique) demands and opportunities of the area. These include marine biology/fisheries, mining engineering, geology and oceanography, demography and sociology. Local control would also allow the introduction of courses utilising the special knowledge and interests of Wollongong academic staff.
The plan which has been evolved is a very good one. It provides for greater adminis trative evolution and academic development over the intervening 5 years. The plan would include:
the rapid appointment of many more professors and senior staff, and the development of the Academic Advisory Committee into an independent Board of Studies;
entirely separate submissions by the College to the Australian Universities Commission, and independent control of its budget by the College during the triennium 1969 to 1972; and
complete autonomy in 1972, with an undertaking to that effect now.
To pursue the matter further, the student body and the professorial staff have invited the Minister for Education to visit their institution and he has agreed to do so on 10th October next. The case will then be fully and in fact vehemently presented to him by 100% of my constituents. We have come to a pretty pass in Wollongong. We are getting a very raw deal. The big brother complex operates at Kensington and has done so for many years. I hate to have to use these terms, but only recently there were very overt attempts made by the vice-chancellor to lean and breathe heavily on, to bluff and to browbeat certain of the student bodies who were prepared to raise their voices in protest at the present situation. We are not receiving fair treatment. Such money as the Commonwealth is allocating for tertiary education is being deliberately channelled away from Wollongong University College by the major and parent bodies.
As to our right to autonomy - we do not criticise other institutions - may I refer to the situation at the University of New England where, in 1954 with a student body of 325 and a district population of 68,000, they were granted autonomy. Good luck to them. At Townsville we find that in 1967 they have 547 students and serve a local population of 100,000. They have been promised autonomy by 1970. We ask that the Australian Universities Commission fully investigate the needs of Wollongong University College and of the area with a view to giving the plan effect by 1972. In the meantime we ask for financial assistance. If the formalities have to be observed and the ranking of the Kensington university acknowledged, let the money be channelled through there, but let it be very clearly earmarked for Wollongong and let it have proportionate and adequate development to which it is entitled.
The fact that there is only 50% of the normal enrolment at Wollongong is a matter that concerns me very greatly. I speak as the son of a worker and I know the problems that are associated with all working class districts and the sacrifices which have to be made. I speak with some feeling on this matter because I know from my Celtic forebears the importance that they attach to education. There was many a son of a Scottish crofter, of an Irish tenant farmer or a Welsh miner who was the bright one of the family and for whom sacrifices were made so that he could receive an adequate education and go abroad, and make his way in life and contribute to the financial emancipation of the family. Today within my city and district there is precisely that situation. We live in another era. We speak glibly in terms of an educational revolution, but in point of fact, with such a huge number of part time students, is it not patent in an area that has had a mushroom growth, which has doubled its population in less than 20 years, that underprivilege still exists? In this connection let me site some remarks made by my leader in a recent address delivered in Melbourne. A report of that address which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 10th May 1967, contained the following:
The rewards of the affluent society went to the university educated. It was the affluent who had overwhelmingly the best chance of going to and succeeding at university. The sons and daughters of the affiuent parents were 18 times more likely to enter a tertiary education institution than the children of the semi-skilled and unskilled. Of school leavers whose fathers were ki the category unskilled to semi-skilled’, totalling 33% of all school leavers, only 1.5% entered university. By contrast, 35.9% of the children of fathers who were classified as ‘university-professional’ entered university.
Mr Whitlam said the affluent society had not succeeded in abolishing poverty; indeed its enormous pressures and demands had created new forms of poverty, not perhaps the grinding poverty of old, but stark, squalid and psychologically destructive poverty.
There is within our community today something that might be characterised as intellectual poverty. It exists in my district despite the contributions made by the former State Administration to the construction of secondary schools. One of the parts of the preamble to the Wyndham report that always appealed to me is what I regard as a charter for secondary education. It is in these terms: ‘Every child is entitled as a birthright to some form of secondary education’. This sentiment might equally be applied to the needs of tertiary education within my city and district.
– We have listened to a list of Press statements read to us by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), all of which attacked universities or quoted professors who said they were being starved for money. The question that arises, then, is this: What did Labor do when it was in office, and what would Labor do if it gained office now? In the last year of his regime the late J. B. Chifley, who I think was Treasurer as well as Prime Minister, found £400,000 for universities and another £400,000 for some scholarships. He also found £6m for scholarships under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. In present-day currency the total amount provided by the Labor Government in that year was $16m. This is what the Labor Government did, and yet we hear attacks of the kind delivered by the honourable member for Yarra. If he had gone to the trouble to obtain the facts, not from newspaper articles but from Government records, he would have seen a very different picture. In the current year, 1967-68, Commonwealth expenditure on education is expected to be $193,963,000, compared with $16m when the Labor Government was in office.
It will be remembered that on 1st July 1967 there was a 10% increase in academic salaries. This was on top of the substantial rise on 1st January 1965 when salaries of professors rose from £4,500 to £5,200. The recent 10% rise would bring those salaries to about $12,000 a year.
Let us see what has happened to expenditure on education over the last 7 years, during the regime of a government which is under attack by academic staff and by the Press and by everybody else who is inclined to be voluble in criticism. In 1961-62 the total expenditure by the Australian Universities Commission, not including payments to the States, and also by the
Australian National University, was $18m. Today it is $43m. Payments to the States in 1961-62 totalled $28m and today amount to $65m, more than twice as much. The amount for scholarships and allowances increased from $5,800,000 to $28,732,000. These figures show an increase in the total amount from $54m to $193m.
The recital of the figures is boring, Mr Chairman, but they show the factual position. When the Government makes the most magnificent increase in assistance to universities since the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, made this activity a feature of his appearance on the Australian political stage, it is subjected to criticism. It appears that the more the Government tries to do the more it is criticised, because the people who offer the criticism are eager to gain what advantage they can from doing so. In the next triennium the average expenditure each year on universities, including expenditure by the States, will be $446m, of which the Commonwealth is to find $175m. If we add this total to other expenditure on education in Australia, a good deal of which comes from tax reimbursements by the Commonwealth and from Commonwealth payments to the States other than education payments, it will be found that expenditure on education now totals well over $ 1000m a year. In other words, Australia spends more on education than on any other single activity. We are becoming accustomed to a community in which the more meritorious one’s conduct or behaviour, the more boring it becomes; the more creditable the less credit. But when we consider the record of a Labor Government which provided almost nothing for education-
– What about the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, the Australian National University and a few other things?
– The honourable member asks what about these matters, and of course he was not here when we spoke of them before. The Labor Government provided SI 2m under the CRTS, or $1 6m in all, and the total now is SI 93m. When Labor was paying almost nothing, there was no criticism, but now when we are spending SI 93m there is bitter criticism. Expenditure on education has increased about twelvefold in 17 years. The honourable member for
Wills (Mr Bryant) yawns, and I suppose it would be boring to him to hear these facts.
Now I want to move to another section of these estimates. In the report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for 1966-67 there is a section dealing with the computing of superphosphate needs. The CSIRO experts claim that they are finding the relationship between economic expenditure on superphosphate and economic yield. In the high rainfall areas a tremendous amount of fertiliser is being used. I think that many farmers just pour it on regardless of whether the year is wet or dry. We have just had three very dry years. Most of Victoria falls in the high rainfall category. In that State and in a good deal of the high rainfall areas in New South Wales, potash is now being used. What the farmers want to know is how far the CSIRO can go in analysing the results. The Organisation, in its annual report for 1966-67, states that one of the fertiliser companies, which has its own computer, has estimated the cost of computation at He a recommendation. This seems a cheap cost to get the answers for the farmers. However, before computations can be made, the difference between the area fertilised and the area not fertilised has to be known. Unfortunately, many farmers, I believe, have put superphosphate on all their land and have not left an unfertilised check area, which would be of tremendous assistance in enabling the experts to find the answers to some of the questions that arise. The CSIRO is spending enormous sums on all kinds of research, and it will have to find the answers to these questions relating to fertilisers.
This financial year, the Organisation will spend $660,000 on fisheries and oceanography. I suppose that Australia has more coastline and more oceans to deal with than any other. We are becoming slowly aware that we have enormous wealth in fisheries. In Western Australia, crayfish tails have been marketed for some time and prawns are now being marketed. The prawns have always been there, but we are only now beginning to find out about them. They are being found also in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Under the law of the sea, Commonwealth control of fisheries extends to 20 miles offshore. Beyond the 20 mile limit, fishing rights belong to any country that has a traditional interest in fisheries in the area. A country that has established a fishing industry in a given area is entitled to retain its interest. So Australia must move quickly to ensure that its own areas of ocean are used for the benefit of Australia.
We also have the spectacle of the recent discoveries of natural gas and oil offshore. These have a particular realtion to oceanography. Enormous wealth will come from under the ocean. We believe that rich fertilisers are to be obtained in some of the not so deep parts of the ocean beyond the 20- mile limit. We must conduct investigations through the CSIRO and we must also look into the kind of claim that we can make to establish our sovereignty over these areas. Australia has enormous wealth in its fisheries and on the ocean floor off our coastline. The prospects oughs to be investigated more fully by the CSIRO, which must be able to spend more than it is at present spending on fisheries and oceanography. It is obvious that the present allocation of $660,000 annually is small compared to the sum that should be spent in this field. I trust that during the ensuing financial year the Government will look into the matter and ensure that the very brilliant and successful men engaged in this investigation work receive adequate financial support.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I want first to devote a few minutes of my time to science and I propose then to turn to education. First, let me roundly congratulate the Government - I have not had an opportunity to do so before - on its decision to proceed with the design and construction of the 150-inch optical telescope at Siding Spring Mountain. The Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), in a recent statement, announced the names of the members of the Joint Policy Committee appointed to supervise the project. One cannot help but be struck by the calibre of the members of the Committee. Dr Bowen, who is Chief of the Radiophysics Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is a member. There is no need for me to enlarge on his standing in the world of science. Another member is Profesor Eggen, Director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory. Here, we immediately think also of Professor Bart Bok, of that Observatory, who displayed great keenness on this entire project while he was in Australia. The third Australian member of the Committee is Mr K. N. Jones, First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education and Science, under whosce administrative responsibility this great telescope will come. There are three British representatives on the Committee. The first of these is Professor Bondi, who is well known to most Australians. Another is Sir Richard Woolley, the Astronomer Royal, who has been known to us for many years. The third United Kingdom member is Mr J. F. Hosie, Director of the Astronomy, Space and Radio Division of the Science Research Council in Britain. Those six men form a very powerful supervising committee to make the initial arrangements for the design and construction of this great instrument.
Private members of this Parliament all delight in seeing projects such as this come to fruition, especially those in which we have taken considerable interest, of which we have spoken in debate and about which we have stirred up matters at question time. I am particularly pleased about the new optical telescope because it will work in close conjunction with the world famous telescope at Parkes, in the electorate of Calare. The two are a fitting pair. The work undertaken by the radio telescope at Parkes has been far wider than was ever conjectured when it was established. But there is no doubt that some of that magnificent work has been held back because a lot of information has had to be sent overseas to an optical telescope of sufficient dimensions for checking purposes. With the new optical telescope working in close relationship with the radio telescope at Parkes, this checking will be greatly facilitated. I now express the hope that the 6-year programme laid down for the designing and construction of this great new instrument at Siding Spring Mountain will not meet with any avoidable delays. I am greatly pleased at seeing this project moving ahead at last.
I now turn to school library facilities, in respect of which there is great scope for improvement. We all are well aware that education in both private and State schools is constitutionally a State responsibility. But, as time goes on we see the Commonwealth moving into this field more and more, with very beneficial results to Australia as a whole. Here, it is pertinent and interesting to note that over the past 6 years the Commonwealth expenditure on education, in all the phases in which the Commonwealth is involved, has increased fourfold. This is easy to say quickly, but nevertheless the increase has been dramatic. At this stage, I am so much not concerned about assistance to the State governments as I am about what can be done to give assistance more directly to parents and others who are responsible for the education of our children. We all know what standards are desired - and desired is hardly a good word to use - and demanded today. Russia set the example, America was forced to follow and if we want to be in the race we have to proceed as we are doing now with a tremendous increase in expenditure in all education fields.
In New South Wales - and I cannot speak for the Commonwealth because I have not done sufficient research - the State Government does assist in the provision of text books for school children by making a direct subsidy to the parents. The parents have the option of keeping that sum to reimburse them for money paid out for text books, or they can give it to the school concerned. Where Parents and Citizens Associations are prepared to take the initiative in purchasing books for libraries the New South Wales Government assists with a contribution, the ratio of which has varied from time to time. At the moment I think that for every $2 a Parents and Citizens Association raises the State Government contributes $1. I could stand corrected on this, but it does indicate that the State Government is prepared to help. I emphasise, however, that the initiative must come from the parents themselves. If they do not move, then out of this particular scheme they get nothing for their libraries.
I might say, as a matter of interest, that out of the hundredweights of material that we get as members of Parliament, much of the information proves very acceptable in school libraries. Many of the reports and publications which come to me as a member find their way eventually into a school library where they are really appreciated. It would be quite redundant for me to speak in this National Parliament of the need for and the benefits of libraries, because they must be readily known. More and more emphasis is being placed on the use of libraries. The situation is different from that which existed when some of us were undergoing our early education. Nowadays, the library is becoming more and more a part of our teaching facilities. Libraries are invaluable in this regard. I was speaking recently to a sixth-year high school history master. He was not pulling a long bow but was quite genuine when he said that he could readily spend $1,000 on library books and text books on the subject of history alone. This situation could apply to most subjects.
It is quite obvious that heavy costs are involved initially in setting up a library. This goes without saying. Big money is involved. What surprised me, when I looked into the subject, was the need for constant renewal, replenishment and modernisation of libraries. In respect of certain subjects it is apparent that there is a need for expenditure in bringing libraries up to date. Great technical changes are taking place and therefore our science libraries, for instance, must be constantly changing and new additions must be made. It may be said that history does not change. It does not change in this country, but in some totalitarian countries they rewrite the history periodically to suit themselves. Normally, however, history does not change, but there are new facts arising all the time. Recently we had the Arab-Israeli war, and we currently have the Vietnam situation. There are changes in governments overseas and in this respect history is being made constantly. This calls for the constant spending of money to bring libraries up to date.
In the realm of mathematics twice 2 is still 4 and I hope it continues to be so. The theorem of Pythagoras has a realistic proof which does not change. If we fool around too much with the differential calculus to suit our own convenience I am sure we will fall foul of the examiners. In the realm of higher mathematics the type of problems which are being posed today call for changes in textbooks and in the books required in the library. Mathematics themselves do not change; the application does.
In the industrial arts, particularly in the field of metal work, processes are changing constantly and this means changes in the stocking of libraries. In another industrial art - textiles - study of the chemistry and physical structure of textiles is going on continuously and is the subject of constant research. There again, once a library is established there is a great demand for more funds to keep it up to date.
I do not see much chance of Commonwealth assistance to the States for libraries at this time, particularly when we bear in mind the size of the Budget deficit and the great increase in capital expenditure on education. But I raise the matter now because I feel that there will come a time when, for instance, the need for Commonwealth assistance for the construction of science blocks will run down. I presume it will reach a peak and start to fall. We should be looking into this new field so that we can fill the gap as soon as the run down occurs in grants for science blocks. This is a new field for libraries generally in all educational institutions.
– I want to make a few brief observations on universities. There seems to be a need for a fundamental investigation into the percentage of our young people that we believe should be in universities and the percentage of our national income that we should devote to universities. I do not have the answer to these problems. In Australia today we have merely a growth of universities because of a growing demand in the community. We have not actually thought out the problems associated with university education and what we are aiming at in university education.
I think there is also a need to study the siting of universities. Universities in Australia usually have been associated with capital cities, apparently in the belief that cities provide most of the students. We have not studied the geographical locations from which students come. The Riverina University League, for instance, argues for the establishment of a university in the Riverina. It has suggested that there would be an enrolment of 10,000 students within a few years of a university being established there. I do not know whether we are aware of the number of students who would be capable of a university education but who are being excluded from it because there is no university geographically near to them.
This certainly is the argument of the Riverina University League and it seems to be borne out, to some extent anyhow, by such studies as have been made of enrolments at the University of Sydney. The University of Sydney originally drew its students from all over New South Wales. It does not now draw many students from the Newcastle district with the development of the new university college there. It docs not draw so many students from southern New South Wales with the development of the Australian National University. It does not draw so many students from the north with the development of the New England University. This at least should lead us to speculate on the possibility that able students are not getting a university education at the present time because of the lack of decentralised university education.
What is taking place today is that our proliferation of universities, which is certainly called for in the capital cities, is leading to a proliferation of universities in the capital cities but not to the same extent anywhere else. We need to be sure that universities are within geographical reach and easy travelling distance of students. In his history of the founding of the University of New England, our former colleague in this place, the late David Drummond, comments that opposition to that university could be accounted for in the fact that any attempt to weaken the financial, commercial and cultural grip of the capital city over the State has been covertly or openly resisted.
Universities exist because we believe that things of the mind are worth pursuing. The prime factor in a university education should be contact between growing minds and brilliant minds grappling with original problems. If the universities are as good at cultivating a consciousness of what is right and the discipline to live out those convictions, then they also become centres of civilisation. This is a purpose of universities which we are tending to lose sight of. Universities were, after all, instruments for the founding of the civilisation of Europe. Sometimes around the world today universities appear to be centres of disorder, but they should be centres of civilisation. It is also their function to search for new knowledge. Vocational training is another of their functions.
I find that whenever I try to discuss this subject there is a whole series of unanswered questions. Is there in the Australian community today a demand for additional places in the universities? 1 know that we can infer this from increasing enrolments, but what lost opportunities are there? Are there the qualified students to fill the extra places? Do we know what is the optimum size of a university? Do we know the optimum proportion of the national income that should be spent on universities? In my view universities need to be housed in buildings in which we can take pride, but it seems to me that the standards of university buildings are slipping. This is because of the financial method that is often used in determining expenditure on university buildings.
Commenting on problems of university expansion, one of our leading educational writers said of Australia:
We also need much better libraries, equipment, visual aids, administrative, technical and secretarial staff, and study leave allowances. In capital grants we operate a lunatic system which ties the cost of building to the building costs of 2-to-J years previously; for that is when the capital submissions were written, and there is no regular machinery for adjusting grants to changes in building costs. The result makes the universities the cheapest-and-nastiest big builders in the country. AUC costing no longer allows plastered internal walls, reasonable sound-proofing, durable low-maintenance finishes, efficient heating or cooling, except at the expense of each other, or at the expense of smaller buildings than were needed, planned and approved. Beyond these elementary necessities it flatly prohibits most architectural imagination, most possibilities that our universities might be visible objects of pride.
I think this is true. Let us take the University of Western Australia, for example. Its buildings are a quite handsome set of buildings. Some attempt has been made to keep to a style. Although the Spanish type architecture and the stone of the earlier phase of the university are no longer used, they have somehow managed to build in conformity with the style. But many of the other universities of Australia are architectural hotchpotches. This is a tragedy. Very few of them are objects of pride to look at. I believe that they should be. I believe we have this architectural hotchpotch because we will not start off with an assumption of what is the optimum size of universities. If we decided there was an optimum size for a university - shall we say 8,000 or 10,000 students - we could plan a coherent group of buildings for that size and we would get something in which the community could take pride. But if on a small campus we keep on pressing in more and more buildings until finally we are pushed into adopting a skyscraper form of building because the amount of land allotted is inadequate, then although they may be very efficient universities the buildings will not be objects of pride to the community.
We also need to have a clear concept of what ought to be the staff-student ratios in the various faculties. Here again everything seems to have come by chance - by demand. We do not know what we want in staff-student ratios, and in relation to our teaching staffs we do not know what we want in their research and teaching time ratios. How much research should they be doing? How do we evaluate teaching skills?
I believe that many of the students who go to our universities are not being made best use of in the Australian community because of the bonding system. The system of bonding, of tying students’ labour after graduation to a certain department or a certain authority, is basically an admission that our scholarships system is lacking. I believe that the community gets best value from its trained ex-students if they are mobile and are free to choose. I think the bonding system is not in the national interest.
We need to take a dispassionate look at these problems. The Commonwealth has got into the field of university education because it was beyond the capacity of the States to handle it. There has been an explosion in the community’s demand for education. This is affecting every level of education - high schools, technical schools and ultimately the universities. The Commonwealth is just coming accidentally and late into this field, just as it is coming now more deliberately but late into the field of Aboriginal policy. It is going to have to work out a policy, but at least it is admitting that it is going to have to do that. I think that, more than just using the Australian Universities Commission as an instrument to do our thinking for us, we need continual investigations into where we are going with university education, as thorough and as revolutionary in its way as the Murray investigation was in its time. I think that we need constant reexamination of what we want to do about university education.
As it is, I believe that we are drifting. We are drifting on the question of the siting of universities. We are drifting on the question of the optimum size of universities. We are drifting on the question of staffstudent ratios. I think we are also not entirely clear on the purposes that we have in mind for university education in terms of national efficiency. 1 think that the purposes of universities are very largely being determined by the vocational demands in the community. I believe that if we put thought into where we are going with university education and put the best minds to work on the problem we might find guidelines for a new Commonwealth policy. I think that we need to have a new turn comparable to the turn that was taken at the time of the Murray committee report.
– It was rather refreshing to listen to a speaker from the Opposition side making some sort of constructive contribution to the debate on the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Department of Education and Science. In past years this has normally been a debate carried on under the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, and we have usually been subjected to hearing speaker after speaker on the Opposition side saying what is not being done for education in Australia. Briefly, I shall comment on a couple of points that were made by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). I think that the siting of universities must have inherent difficulties. It is all very well to talk about decentralisation but once we start to develop a university and think in terms of a medical faculty we find that we cannot move away from the centre at which the medical faculty can operate. That is the area in which large hospitals and specialists are available. This comment probably applies to other faculties such as engineering and dentistry. I suppose that the
University of New England originally started out as an agricultural college. There was a reason for its siting in its situation.
I am inclined to agree with the honourable member for Fremantle on the question of bonding. I think that the system of bonding has changed over the years. Probably in the days when the honourable member for Fremantle started his tertiary education people were bonded because they were attracted by the bond and they stayed under that bond. Now, of course, there is great competition to get people into certain fields of tertiary education. One type of occupation vies with another type. I think that the whole system of bonding has changed in its character, although I do not agree with it or with the principles that are laid down.
As I have said, many people constantly claim that Australia should be devoting more of its gross national product to education. I think that Australia’s record compares more than favourably with that of most countries. I am indebted to the Institute of Public Affairs which, because of the claims that were made concerning education, published what I thought were most revealing figures on this matter. Expenditure by the Commonwealth in all fields of education almost quadrupled over a period of 7 years. It rose from about $29m to about $112m in the 7 years to 1965-66. In the same period expenditure by the States on education almost doubled, increasing from $300m to $600m. Personal spending almost doubled, from S69m to $115m. An interesting point is that while Commonwealth expenditure almost quadrupled over the 7-year period, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) said that he thought we should devote to education a greater percentage of our gross national product. I think he was wrong in citing the figure of 3% in that respect. That was the figure in 1958, but in the period of 7 years to which I have referred the percentage of the gross national product spent on education in Australia rose from 3.02 to 4.01; an increase of about 331%. I am not stating a percentage or amount that should or could be spent. Education is almost a bottomless pit into which money can be poured. I think it is wrong to say that because the United States Government spends about 41% of its gross national product on education its educational system is better than the Australian system. I think all honourable members are aware that the benefits gained from education in the United States vary tremendously from State to State. Whatever is the percentage spent on education in Australia, at least a fairly high level of education is maintained in all States. 1 shall now cite some further figures relating to universities furnished by the Institute of Public Affairs. The Government is almost constantly criticised because it is said that it is not contributing sufficiently to the costs of universities. It was certainly a surprise to me to learn of the way in which universities raise their funds. In each dollar of university funds the Commonwealth Government contributes 44c; State governments contribute 38c; students fees contribute 9c; donations contribute Se; and all other sources contribute 4c. The Commonwealth Government contributes 44c of each $1 of universities’ expenditure and the State governments, who originally receive their moneys from Commonwealth sources, in the main, contribute 38c.
A case can be made out to say that more should be done but the extent should be realised of what has been done in the last 7 or 8 years and of what is being done now. The number of students in the 17 years to 22 years age bracket receiving higher education in Australia has risen from 6.5% in 1947 - a couple of years before this Government came into office - to about 13% in 1965. So it is clear that the number of people in the 17 years to 22 years age group receiving tertiary education has doubled since 1947. In the period from 1939 to the present time the percentage has risen from 6 to 14. In the whole field of tertiary education the improvements instituted and the achievements gained have kept ahead of the percentage increase in the population. For instance, in the period from 1955 to 1965 the number of arts students who received degrees - disregarding the drop-outs - rose from 842 to 2,425. In most faculties that trend is reflected. In 1955 the number of students receiving degrees in all faculties was about 3,000; the number rose in 1965 to about 8,000. In the same period the Commonwealth Government has assisted increasing numbers of students to receive tertiary education. Two years ago over 20,000 Commonwealth scholarships and about 13,000 State Government scholarships were awarded. Free places at the university amounted to another 15,000, so that a total of about 50,000 people were attending universities under some form of scholarship.
This trend has been continued into the field of Government expenditure on university buildings and other buildings for educational purposes. In 1949, when the Labor Government left the treasury bench, the expenditure on buildings in all fields of education all over Australia amounted to $5m. In 1966, the last year for which statistics are available, it had risen to $180m. 1 know that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) gave the figure as $190m. I am not quarrelling about whether it is $180m or $190m, but the significant point is that expenditure had risen about 35 times in this period of 18 years. It is not much good making repeated claims that the Commonwealth is not doing enough for education. What the Commonwealth Government is doing in effect is to put a pretty heavy strain on the Australian taxpayer, particularly for tertiary education in Australia.
If we want to find the real crisis in education, we can do so readily enough. I say now what I said some 10 years ago and was criticised for saying and that is that there is a real crisis in the private sector of education. There is no discrimination between private and public in the field of tertiary education, because the universities get their stream of students from all schools, private and public. Once the students are at the universities they receive equal assistance from either the State or the Federal Governments. But at the lower level of primary and secondary education the private sector is feeling the pinch. It is educating 25% of Australia’s school population and the Governments, both State and Federal, must pay increasing attention to its needs. I am mindful of what has been done in the past. An ever increasing contribution has been made by State and Federal Governments to the needs of these schools, but they are still in a critical situation. I mention these few points because earlier tonight we were told about what the Commonwealth Government is not doing. This is not a field in which very much criticism can be levelled at the Government. In the past 10 years it has contributed to university education in a more than handsome way.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1967 [No. 3]
Post and Telegraph Regulations Bill 1967
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
If the Registrar is satisfied that a person who has attended the court for a period not exceeding four hours on any day has incurred a financial loss exceeding $4.00, the amount payable is the amount of the loss or $8.00, whichever is the less. 5. (a) and (b) There are no fixed fees. Witnesses are paid allowances that are reasonable, having regard to remuneration lost through the attendance of the witness. Reasonable costs of travel and accommodation are also paid.
Uranium (Question No. 309)
asked the Minister for
National Development, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The policy which I announced represented a liberalisation of former policies in that for the first time the prospecting companies have been given an assurance in advance that approval will be given to the export of specified qualities of uranium from existing or newly discovered deposits.
The export of uranium in all its forms has been prohibited under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations, except with the approval of the Atomic Energy Commission. In the past, no company or person had an automatic right to export uranium.
Previously, before approving an application to export uranium the Government satisfied itself that the essential interests of Australia would be protected and this policy will be continuing. If, as I confidently expect, substantial discoveries of uranium are made, the policy which I have announced will be reviewed with a view to further liberalisation.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
It will be appreciated that a number of factors influenced the composition of the 1966/67 interim programme. As the major portion of the funds available was required to maintain continuity and progress on roads included in the 1962 Queensland Beef Cattle Roards Agreement, only limited new roadworks were possible.
It was necessary for the Queensland Government, in close consultation with the Commonwealth, to consider the merits of works on a large number of new roads including the Nebo-Mackay road. In this context, other factors such as the limited funds available, the estimated costs and the ability to complete substantially any new works within the 1966/67 financial year were all relevant. Moreover, it was understood that action aimed at carrying out extensive works on one section of the road in question was already in hand by the appropriate State authority.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
As I said on15th August in reply to questions by you and the honourable member for Mallee (Hansard, pages 98-9) 1 have written to the State Premiers outlining the Government’s plans for the implementation of the National Water Resources Development Programme.
It has been made clear on a number of occasions that it is not the practice to make public the details of correspondence which passes between the Commonwealth and the States without the prior consent of the States.
However, in general terms the position is that all States have now responded to the proposal conveyed in my letter. They have indicated their willingness to participate in the programme but I expect thatit will be some months before detailed submissions are receved from all States.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 3. The Public Service Board has advised me that there is no regulation or general restriction on the employment of diabetics in the Commonwealth Service. However, where permanent appointment is involved, with its attendant eligibility for retirement benefits, current conditions provide for acceptance only when control of the condition is achieved by diet alone.
The situation in relation to possible acceptance of diabetics, who are required to have insulin treatment for the control of their condition, is a matter which has already received the attention of the Board and the Department of Health and further examination of this aspect is proceeding.
So far as temporary employment is concerned, no restriction is placed on the engagement of a diabetic, provided a suitable vacancy exists, and the duties of the position do not involve risk to the employee himself or to other persons.
Transport Costs in Northern Australia (Question No. 481)
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Asbestos cement steel
Materials for barbed wire
Steel fence posts
Structural steel sections
Artificial fertiliser (other than superphosphate)
Steel reinforcing rods.
The committee stated that the list was not intended to be exhaustive and mentioned that the goods, excep fencing wire and material for making barbed wire, cost less than $120 per ton.
Minerals (Question No. 491)
n asked the Minister for
National Development, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
How many (a) Commonwealth secondary scholarships and (b) Commonwealth advanced scholarships have been (i) applied for and (ii) granted in 1967 to date?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– It is assumed the honourable member’s questions relate to the special benefit which is payable under Part VII of the Social Services Act. On this basis the answers are as follows:
An additional $1.50 per week may be paid to a special beneficiary for each dependent child under 16 years of age.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
When did he first see Lieutenant-Commander Griffith’s statement which was handed to the Secretary of his Department by an officer of the Attorney-General’s Department in the House on 16th May?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: l.
Education fees and training stipends paid are included in the expenditure on training. Transport and incidental costs would be included in all three categories of expenditure. All but a small part of this money would have been spent in Australia on the purchase of Australian goods and services to be given as aid.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The following is a list of vessels under construction or on order, through the Australian Shipbuilding Board, in Australian yards for Australian owners:
In addition to the above twenty vessels an order for a tug for the Department of Public Works, New South Wales, is being constructed by State Dockyard, Newcastle. However, this order was not placed through the Australian Shipbuilding Board. A number of smaller vessels are also under construction at various yards in Australia.
As far as my Department is aware, no trading vessels are on order overseas for Australian shipowners.
Royal Australian Navy (Question No. 584)
asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
Particulars of vessels on order for the Royal Australian Navy are as follows:
One Destroyer Tender -
Being built by Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Pty Ltd at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales. The estimated date of completion is December 1967, and the estimated cost $15.594m.
Two Type 12 Destroyer Escorts -
One is being built at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales and one at the Williamstown Naval Dockyard, Victoria. Both are estimated to complete in the latter half of 1969. The estimated cost of the two ships is $40.785m.
Twenty Patrol Boats-
Being built by a consortium of Queensland firms (Evans Deakin and Co. Pty Ltd, Brisbane and Walkers Ltd, Maryborough). The twenty boats will be completed by mid 1969. The total estimatedcost is $14.943m.
One Aircraft/Water Lighter -
Being built at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales and estimated to complete in October 1967. The estimated cost is $.206m.
One Guided Missile Destroyer-
Being built in the United States of America and estimated to complete in December 1967. The estimated cost excluding ammunition and shore based spares is $US37.632m ($A33.716m).
Three Oberon Class Submarines-
The total order was for four submarines, built in Scotland. The first submarine is in service in the Royal Australian Navy. Of the remaining three, one will complete early in 1968, and the other two at yearly intervals thereafter. The total estimated cost of the three submarines building, including ammunition and shore based spares, is $34.875m.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
When and how has the Government acted on the recommendation of the National Health and Medical Research Council on 29 October 1965, that the Council be adequately represented in discussions with and on committees established by the Government to advise upon development and support of medical research?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Following the co-ordination of the support of research by the Australian Research. Grants Committee and the National Health and Medical Research Council, the latter will again be the sole channel of Commonwealth grants for medical research projects as from the beginning of 1968.
The National Health and Medical Research Council, of course, also advises the Government on matters of medical research generally (in addition to making research grants), and this advice includes matters concerned with the development and support of medical research.
asked the Minister for Terri tories, upon notice:
In view of the decisive vote in favour of amending section 51 of the Constitution what action is proposed to improve the living conditions of the Aboriginal race?
– I refer the honourable member to the Prime Minister’s statement in the House on 7th September.
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 September 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670919_reps_26_hor56/>.