26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr GIBSON presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by providing increased social service benefits for the aged, the invalid, the widowed and their dependants.
A similar petition was presented by Mr James.
Petition received and read.
Mr DEVINE 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.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. Is it a fact that his Department proposes to call tenders for the lease of Garden Island and Williamstown dockyards and workshops? If so, does this mean that we are to make another handout to overseas private enterprise of valuable naval defence industrial equipment? As this report is causing considerable disquiet in metal trade union circles, would the Minister give some information to the House as to its truth or otherwise?
– The answer to the honourable members questions is no. There is no truth in the report.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has heard of a report that an annual event in Tasmania known as the Avoca kangaroo shoot, which has apparently been previously postponed, is to take place on 2nd June? In view of the fact that the Animals and Birds Protection Board of Tasmania has informed me that the only true Tasmanian kangaroo, the Forester, is wholly protected at all times, will the Prime Minister have inquiries made concerning this alleged proposed shoot to ascertain whether it is intended to shoot kangaroos in defiance of the Tasmanian law or whether in fact it is a wallaby shoot, for which animals there is a continuous open season as they are considered by the Board to be a pest?
– I have not seen the report referred to. I am not at all clear whether the law to which the honourable member referred is a Tasmanian law or Commonwealth law. I will seek to find out for the honourable member whether a law is being breached and, if it is, whose responsibility it is to see that the law is observed.
– My question is also directed to the Prime Minister. I ask: Did you, Sir, agree with the decision of the Minister for Trade and Industry to change his plans and return to Australia in the midst of the most important sugar negotiations ever held, so far as the sugar industry’s future is concerned, when the declared intention of the Minister for Trade and Industry, as understood by the sugar industry, was to lead the Australian delegation throughout the entire sugar negotiations, which at no stage were anticipated to finish before June? Is the Prime Minister aware that he has substituted for the highly skilled negotiating ability and experience of the Minister for Trade and Industry that of the Minister for Primary Industry who, neither politically nor departmental^, has had any experience of international commodity agreements or international negotiations? What, Sir, are the real reasons for the return of the Minister for Trade and Industry? Is it that the negotiations are going bad or is it simply the obsession to ensure that the Treasurer will never become Acting Prime Minister?
– The whole question is based upon a complete lack of fact in that there has been no change of plans. It was the intention of the Minister for Trade and Industry, before he left Australia, to return on the day on which he is returning.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question which refers to reports that Australia is becoming a vast quarry for Japanese manufacturers and to the need for stepping up our technology. I ask the Minister whether, in his role as Chairman of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, Japan had 28 technocrats and economists in its delegation here and that Australia had only 14. At the next meetings of the Commission could the Minister organise from his own Department and from the Department of Trade and Industry a much stronger delegation which would be more equal or equivalent to the one from Japan?
– If I may comment on ti preface that the honourable member gave to his question, I would say that matters of bilateral trade relationships between Australia and Japan were not under consideration by the Australian delegation to the twenty-fourth session of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. So the preface has little bearing on the rest of the question. The size of a delegation at any international conference is a matter for the government that is represented at the conference. If the Japanese Government thought that it was necessary to have a large delegation, that was a matter for its own decision. The Australian delegation, I think, consisted of twelve officers plus a secretary and, if anything, I would say it was a larger delegation than was really necessary for the purpose of the duties of the conference. A delegation of seven or eight would have been quite adequate for the Australian purposes.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked by my colleague, the honourable member for Dawson. Will the Prime Minister say whether the Treasurer would become Acting Prime Minister in the event of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Country Party being absent at the same time?
– It seems to me that this is an odd kind of question to ask at a time when the opportunity is given to ask about the operations of departments and about factual information concerning departments.
My understanding is that that would automatically happen - that in the event of the absence of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Treasurer would automatically become Acting Prime Minister.
– Does the Minister for Trade and Industry know this?
-Order! The honourable member has asked his question.
– What a strange thing it is that, on an occasion which is set aside for the Opposition to examine the operation of departments, to seek particular facts, and to ask questions of national significance, this obvious fact should occupy its attention.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Will he say what progress has been made in establishing shore facilities at the three major Australian ports for the purpose of receiving container cargo due to arrive early next year on vessels operated by the two shipping services, Associated Container Transportation Ltd and Overseas Containers Ltd? Will these facilities be completed on schedule? Will the Minister say whether agreement has been reached regarding the freight rates for these services? If it has not, when will such decision be made and when will the details be known?
– I understand that work on the container berth at Fremantle has been completed. Work is proceeding on schedule on the berths at Melbourne and Sydney. They are not yet completed but they are due for completion in NovemberDecember this year. It is expected that discussions on freight rates will be undertaken between the ship owners, the container operators, and the shipper body fairly shortly, the intention being that the first container vessel will not come out to Australia until approximately March 1969. Consequently, there will be adequate opportunity for a complete examination of these freight rates by the interested parties between now and then. I might add that it is intended that by the completion of berth facilities at the end of this year there will be adequate opportunity to test their capability and to ensure that before the container vessels go into service the berth facilities are adequate to meet the needs of this new type of vessel.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services: Is he aware of the severe financial difficulty being experienced by pensioner home owners in paying municipal and water rates? Will the Minister submit to the Government a recommendation that supplementary assistance be paid to these people or that the Government pay in full the council and water rates for which pensioners are liable?
– I am aware of the circumstances to which the honourable member refers, but in general they are matters which are within the purview of the State and local government authorities. As the honourable member knows, the practice differs from State to State and even within the same State it differs as between various local government authorities. Certain concessions are available in New South Wales and the extent to which they are available always depends upon the decision of the local body. The other questions asked by the honourable member obviously raise matters of policy and it is not my proper function to answer them at this stage.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Is the honourable gentleman in a position to report progress on his Department’s efforts to achieve a much higher level of uniformity in the recognition of professional qualifications? Are the State Governments willing to assist by seeking the co-operation of local boards of registration in the interests of our attracting highly qualified immigrants from overseas?
– I can report progress, but unfortunately it is not a very happy progress. I had a meeting with all the State Ministers for Immigration at the time of the last Australian Citizenship Convention in January. When we met I exposed the problem to my colleagues and found from them a warm understanding of it and a desire to do something about it. I am pursuing the matter by public statements through them and I hope through them to the respective Ministers of the State Governments who have responsibilities. What I must say to the honourable gentleman is that really all I, as a Commonwealth Minister, can do is advocate, and I am trusting that my powers of advocacy will achieve some success.
– Mr Speaker, I address a question to you. By way of explanation I. would like to say that I understand that 184 copies in all of the recently published biography of Sir Robert Menzies written by Kevin Perkins were distributed by the staff to me and to members of the House and of another place, and as far as I am aware there is as yet no information as to the identity of the mysterious donor. I now ask you, Sir: As the customary ‘With the compliments of cards have been omitted, do you consider that honourable members should accept this biography as a gift or that they should exercise caution in accepting it, as the price is $5.50 and honourable members may receive an account for this amount from the anonymous donor? In view of this possibility, and in view of the nature of the gift and the subject of the book, will you inquire into the matter, as some honourable members for political, personal or financial reasons, or because they may already have purchased a copy or studied one of the copies of the biography in the Library, may not wish to be involved in this expenditure.
-I have no knowledge at this time of the distribution of the book, but I will make some inquiries into the matter to ascertain whether the honourable member’s fears are well founded and I will notify him of the outcome.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. Has a decision been made by the Devaluation Reporting Committee in relation to the demonstrable losses of the Tasmanian apple and pear export industry? If a decision has been made, is the Prime Minister in a position to inform the House about it?
– 1 think the honourable member knows that the Devaluation Reporting Committee was asked last week - as announced by the Minister for Primary Industry - to give urgent consideration to the matter which the honourable member raises. I understand that the Committee is in Tasmania at the moment and is pursuing its inquiries there. There are, I think, some difficulties, in that the first shipments of fruit from Tasmania are only now arriving on the United Kingdom market, and it is therefore very difficult to assess the losses from devaluation, if any. But the Committee is still giving urgent consideration to this matter. As soon as the factors required for the Committee to make a report are known, it will make that report. As soon as the report comes in, the Government will give it immediate attention.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Can the honourable gentleman give to the House any details of a reported crash of another Fill aircraft at Las Vegas in the United States of America? If the report is correct, will this have any effect on the Minister’s reported statement outside this House that there will be no change in the schedule for deliveries of the aircraft? How does the Minister reconcile this statement with his statement in the House that Australia would not take delivery of the plane until the Government was satisfied it was free of mechanical faults?
– It passes my comprehension that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition can extract this kind of information from the allegation of an additional crash. I understand that one aircraft was lost yesterday in the Nevada Desert during test flying operations. This will have no bearing on the Australian aircraft. Once again, as indicated by their interjections, there is almost joy on the part of honourable members opposite. Last night the honourable member for Lang said that it was no laughing matter when the United States lost another aircraft, but apparently today honourable members on the front bench opposite are enjoying the spectacle of another loss. Last night I said that the Australian Government would have all its aircraft heavily inspected and checked in the normal way before we take delivery.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether his policy on thirdlevel airlines has been generally successful in the economic sense as well as in the service sense. Has the Minister been asked to arrange subsidies for these operations in the various States?
– The indications so far are that the commuter services, as they are termed, are providing a much needed service in the air transport system, and are proving to be successful. They were introduced to supplement the airline services, especially in distant areas. In the main, light aircraft are used, and they operate under conditions that differ from those laid down for airline operations. They operate under standards in between those which apply to airline operations and those which apply to charter operations. I shall be doing an evaluation before the end of this calendar year. When I have full information regarding these operations, I shall seek leave to make a statement in the House.
One of the features of these services is that no subsidy is paid, and the operators know when they apply for a licence that their operations will not be subsidised. The operators who are undertaking these services successfully are doing so without any form of subsidy. The economic factor enters into the matter. The type of service provided is not required to be up to the standard of an airline service and, therefore, the costs are lower. For instance, the capital cost of the light aircraft that are used is lower than the capital cost of the aircraft used in airline operations. Furthermore, the operating costs generally are lower. Accordingly, on economic grounds, there is not the same need for a subsidy as with airline operations. It has been made quite clear from time to time in this House that, whenever a commuter service is introduced, no subsidy will be granted.
– Is the
Minister for Labour and National Service aware that unions now lodging applications for award variations with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission with respect to work value matters cannot be given any idea how long it will be before such cases will be listed even for hearing? Is the Minister aware further that there seems to be no chance of the majority of the applications by unions for work value hearings being commenced, much less determined, before the full Commission commences its further hearing in the economic case in August of this year? I ask the Minister: How long will it be before the Government takes some action to appoint additional conciliation commissioners to reduce this backlog of work?
– It is true that there is a bank-up of work which means delay in hearing a number of cases before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. There are, as a matter of fact, one commissioner and one conciliator in the pipeline at the moment, if I may use that term in connection with those gentlemen.
– lt is not one that is wanted; it is ten.
– This matter is in train. I expect to introduce a Bill very shortly dealing with the salaries of those gentlemen and follow this up, if the House approves that legislation, by making a number of other appointments. The matter has been held up for reasons which, I think, the honurable member knows. But the point has now been reached where I expect to remove much of this log jam in the very near future.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen statements attributed to Captain Di Salve in Melbourne saying that Australian authorities had fixed quotas for all South European countries and that Australian immigration authorities had pursued a discriminatory policy with racial undertones respecting migrants from those countries’ and further that the strict regulations of the Department of Immigration were keeping divided families apart and were aimed at keeping divided families apart? I ask the Minister: Are these statements true?
- Mr Speaker, I have just had my attention drawn to this report.
– By the honourable member for Indi?
– Indeed. I am glad he did draw my attention to it. It is a great shame that statements like this are made without any justification at all. This can only be calculated to do harm to one of the most important facets of our national development. I think that it is a great shame that there should be these allegations. Let me say categorically here and now that there is absolutely no quota whatever. What we do is establish a programme. That programme has a relation to two factors. The first factor is: How many people can we absorb having regard to job opportunities? The second factor is: How many people are available to us? So far as any suggestion of any quota for Southern Europeans is concerned, I find that the Southern European migrant to Australia has made an enormous contribution and will make an even greater contribution and that within a short period of time the Southern European migrant in the first generation has become substantially Australian and in the second generation will become wholly Australian.
We are extending our recruiting efforts in all countries of Europe including Southern Europe. Indeed the honourable gentleman will remember the pleasure that the House had when we concluded a migration programme with Italy. We have a migration programme with Turkey. Our officers have been there for a couple of weeks. Within a month or two we will have the first migrants out of Turkey. 1 hope for an increase in numbers from Greece. I very sincerely hope that we will have an increase in the number of people from Spain.
The other aspect that the honourable gentleman raises is one which I personally very greatly deprecate. This is the allegation that there has been a deliberate policy of keeping families separated. I have had a volume of letters from members in this House and I will leave it to them to make a judgment as to whether or not there is any policy of separating members of families. On the contrary, 1 do everything possible to bring about family reunions. However, our migration programme is of such national importance that we must maintain the quality of migrants. We have certain objections to some people coming into this country. These objections relate to character, to possible danger to the Australian community and to law breakers. When such factors arise, we must apply our rules. On the other hand, the honourable member will find that I am as sympathetic as it is possible to be when a prospective migrant has an illness that is not dangerous to the Australian public, and is coming to Australia for a family reunion.
– I ask the Minister for Air: Is it correct that aircraft which have been substantially manufactured in Australia have a better record for reliability than similar aircraft manufactured, and operated in the country where the type originated? If this is so, does the Minister consider that the running down of the Australian aircraft construction industry to such an extent that it has almost reached impotency is in the best interests of Australian defence and of the Royal Australian Air Force?
– Let me say immediately that I believe that it is desirable to maintain and construct aircraft in Australia. But there are limits to the degree to which this can be done. The Government buys aircraft from overseas and concludes contracts with other governments in relation to those machines. It is not always possible for us to fully manufacture all the aircraft we use in Australia. But subject to that limitation, we try to keep our aircraft manufacturing industry going to the best of our ability. I do not have any figures in my mind in relation to performance and the other aspects about which the honourable member has asked. I doubt whether there are any figures available, because there are many machines partly or wholly assembled in Australia which have components made abroad. But if there are any figures. I will supply them to the honourable member.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the House, concerns the recent murder of four journalists in Saigon. As this is the third day of sitting since the incident took place, I ask whether the Minister has been approached by the Opposition with a request for an opportunity to debate this subject and perhaps to protest in a manner similar to the protest made in the so called water torture case. Can the Minister also inform the House whether there are in existence any motions which are to be submitted to a variety of organisations and which protest at this barbarous act? More particularly, does the Minister know of the existence of any petitions that are being formulated for forwarding to North Vietnam or perhaps to the Governor of Hong Kong?
– No approach has been made to me by the Opposition. If an approach were made for a debate on this matter, I would, of course, consider whether time could be made available for it. I have no doubt that a great number of members on this side of the House, and even some members on the other side, were shocked by this incident. I know of no petitions. I think it would really be an empty gesture to draw up a petition to be sent to the leader of the opposition in North Vietnam.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. A year ago I asked the right honourable gentleman a question about Australia’s failure to accredit ministers or ambassadors to Chile, Peru and Uruguay, even by way of dual or multiple accreditation, despite those countries having established missions in Australia many years ago. I ask the Minister, now, whether in the meantime arrangements have been made for reciprocal missions and, if so, when he expects to bring the arrangements to fruition.
– The matters to which the honourable gentleman refers are under discussion between the Australian Government and the governments concerned at this moment, and as early as I am able to do so I will announce the results of the discussion.
– Is the Acting AttorneyGeneral aware that there will be an antiVietnam war protest in Canberra next
Wednesday and Thursday and, if so, can he say who is organising it? Is this demonstration associated with other demonstrations? If the Minister has a knowledge of these matters, is he prepared to make a statement to the Parliament?
– There is to be a demonstration - I suppose that is the term for it - in Parliament House next Wednesday and Thursday.
– In the House, here?
– This is the chamber, I will have the honourable member know. lt is to be known as the Trade Union Lobby Day, Canberra, Against the Vietnam War. It is expected to commence in Parliament House at 2.30 p.m. next Wednesday. The organisers are proposing to hold in the evening a peace social at a trade union club. The organisers plan, on the Thursday morning, to visit the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Canadian, the Indian and the British missions and, on Thursday afternoon, as on Wednesday afternoon, to lobby in Parliament House against the Vietnam war. This demonstration is associated with other anti- Vietnam War demonstrations, and I shall name a couple of them.
On Tuesday, 14th May, the Students’ Peace Ride to Canberra from Sydney will be held. This has been organised by the Secondary Students for International Tolerance and Equality and has the support of the Communist inspired peace front, the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament in Sydney.
– You have not changed in 8 years.
-Order! I have already asked the honourable member for Oxley to cease interjecting during question time. If he offends again I will have to deal with him.
– Another demonstration in the near future is on Sunday, 19th May, when there is planned a massive nonviolent sit-in outside the Prime Minister’s Lodge. This will include students and other demonstrators from Sydney and Melbourne, and in particular members of the Draft Resistance Movement, Melbourne, which is militantly anti-conscription and antiVietnam War. Also, it will include members of the Melbourne University and Monash University Students Christian Movement, the Melbourne University and Monash University Labor Clubs, the Melbourne University and Monash University Pacifist Societies, the Melbourne University and Monash University Campaigns Against Conscription, the Conscientious Objectors (Non-pacifist) Organisation, the Save our Sons Organisation and the Young Socialist League of Australia, which is the Communist youth organisation and the successor to the Eureka Youth League.
The demonstration in Parliament House next Wednesday and Thursday - the Trade Union Lobby Day, Canberra, Against the Vietnam War - is being organised by Ernest Albert Boatswain who, I am informed, is a Communist - that is, a member of the Communist Party of Australia.
– Mr Speaker, 1 rise to order. I draw your attention to the standing order of this House which provides that ministerial statements will be made after question time and not during question time.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member for Oxley will resume his seat.
– Ernest Albert Boatswain is also secretary of the trade union sub-committee of the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament, Sydney, which, as I have said, is a Communist peace front. Quite clearly there is no spontaneity about these demonstrations. They are all parts of a planned operation. Because I am concerned about this matter I have already discussed it with the Prime Minister, My colleague, the Attorney-General, will return to Australia tomorrow, and I will, as the honourable member has requested, consult him about making a full statement to Parliament on this matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Has the right honourable gentleman any information to confirm reports that the French Government has recently sent a strong armed force to New Caledonia, which is only 800 miles from the east coast of Australia? Has the right honourable gentleman any information on which he can say whether the indigenous people of this French colony are applying strong pressure on the French Government for a greater say in the affairs of their own country, with a view to complete independence at some future time? Will the Minister give honourable members an assurance that in the event of trouble between the indigenous New Caledonian people, who are striving for independence, and the French armed forces, the Australian Government will not give any assistance to those forces or permit them to use any Australian seaport or airport?
– I feel sure that on reflection the honourable member will realise that, intervention in the internal affairs of another country is something not to be engaged in without very serious consideration. It would not be helpful for us either to comment on what is essentially an internal affair of a French territory or to indicate that in this, that or some other hypothetical situation our action would be along such and such a line. In general, Australian policy would be not to intervene in any way in affairs coming within the internal jurisdiction of another country. I direct the honourable member’s attention also to the fact that although a French battalion has been moved to New Caledonia, it has been specifically denied that such movement has any relation to an internal political situation in New Caledonia.
– In view of the fact that many communities in vast areas of this nation are deprived of any television service whatsoever, will the PostmasterGeneral agree that a service should be provided for these remote areas before any introduction of colour television in Australia?
– I think that at present black and white television is available to 95% of the Australian public. The Government is concerned about the sparsely populated areas of Australia which are without television services. Recently I asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to make further surveys of these areas and indicate to the Government what might be done to provide services for them. There may be some misunderstanding in the minds of some honourable members who may have the idea that a completely new type of installation is necessary for colour television. Many of the films which are being shown in black and white today are in fact colour films. These colour films can be viewed in black and white on receivers that are now in use, and the only change a viewer need make to see such films in colour would be to install a set built for the purpose of receiving colour television. This is a matter for the manufacturers and the television stations, particularly in relation to cameras for the filming of programmes. So there will not be a great deal of expense in the sense that applied when television was first introduced into this country.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the right honourable gentleman has not taken part in one major policy debate since assuming responsibility as Prime Minister? Is it also a fact that he made a major policy speech at his party meeting yesterday, which is reported in today’s Press, when the continuation of a debate on the same subject was scheduled to take place in the House later in the day? Does he believe that the Opposition is not interested in hearing his views at first hand or is there some other reason for his reluctance to speak in the House on major policy matters?
– The Opposition need have no worry that it will be hearing my views at first hand in this House on matters of national importance when they arise. Indeed I look forward with great zest - I think that is the word - to letting them be known. As to reports of what happens in other places, that is not a matter that I think could or should be discussed in this House. One hears on occasions various reports of the number of people who voted for this man and the number who voted for that man in other caucus meetings. We do not seek to find out whether these are completely accurately reported because the results are always, of course, and at a moment’s notice, changeable.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development who no doubt will recall that on several occasions in this House I have advocated that full investigations be made into the possibility of using atomic energy to create large caverns to be used for conserving water. Are representatives of Operation Plowshare from California, in America, at present in Australia? Does the Minister know that it is reported that Operation Plowshare has made the investigations to which I have referred? Can he secure any information on the subject from the visitors?
– The Australian Atomic Energy Commission keeps a very close eye on what is happening in Operation Plowshare and it is because of this close liaison that at the present moment Mr Kelly, the head of Operation Plowshare, and Dr Werth are in Australia. They have been invited here by the Commission. It appears that the peaceful uses of nuclear explosions are limited to underground explosions, to cratering, and perhaps to building harbours and channels. Explosions on the surface are, of course, limited by the nuclear test ban treaty which states that a country may not produce atomic explosions which result in radioactivity outside its own territorial shores. This limits very considerably the use of cratering. There are other problems associated with cratering and undoubtedly much more experimentation is necessary before its use for water storage and water conservation can be assessed. Firstly, no experiments have yet been done to show what the likely effect of radioactivity will be on the water stored in a crater. Then there are mechanical difficulties related to the depth at which the explosion should occur in different types of soil to get the right type of crater. There is also the problem that this water is likely to be expensive. Not only is it expensive to make a crater but it is expensive to pump the water out of it. Consequently, all I can say is that much more experimentation will be necessary before any country will know whether the peaceful uses of nuclear explosions can be extended to water conservation.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the General Business debate being extended until 2.35 p.m.
– 1 move:
That in the opinion of this House, the Government should appoint a committee to inquire into and report upon all aspects of primary, secondary and technical education in Government and nonGovernment schools, and that it should adopt all the recommendations by the Martin Committee on Teacher Training.
On 19th October last year I moved a similar motion in this House. The Opposition raises this question again today for two reasons: Firstly, there is no evidence that the Government is aware of the steady erosion of Australian education standards at all levels despite the accession of a new Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, to the portfolio of Education and Science. Secondly, in the intervening period there were important implications in the policy speech of the Government for the last Senate election which the Opposition feels should be explored in this House.
On the first issue I should like to summarise briefly the arguments I put to the House on the previous occasion. The Opposition claimed that Australian expenditure on education was lagging behind the expenditure, not only of advanced countries of the world but also, in many cases, of advancing countries and even undeveloped countries. I pointed out that although there had been thirteen inquiries into education in Australia there had been no analysis and assessment of the basics of Australian education. Furthermore, the Government had approached Federal assistance to education inversely by starting at the tertiary level. Opposition speakers pointed out how the Government had failed to use the apparatus available for Federal assistance to education at all levels built by the Curtin and Chifley Labor Governments. We said that the Government had strayed into the area of secondary education for electoral gain with its science laboratories grants legislation and that it had not considered the full implications of that legislation. in addition, I raised the matter of the alarming exodus of Australian teachers to overseas countries, Canada in particular. In the subsequent 7 months there has been no sign that this trend has abated. Rather, all the indications are that it has intensified and young Australian teachers are finding immeasurably greater job satisfaction and better living standards in Canada. These in summary are the arguments that the Opposition used in the previous debate. I turn now to the opening address of the Senate election campaign, made by the former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Harold Holt, on 9th November last year. He said:
I know my colleague, the Minister for Educacanon and Science - that is, the present Prime Minister - would like to help children of pre-school age who are put at a disadvantage because of a bad home environment.
Mr Holt went on to say that Senator Gorton, as he then was, wanted to help, talented youngsters who could not pay their way through university. I quote further from Mr Holt’s address, as follows:
He feels, also, that the success of our scheme to provide science laboratories and equipment invites us now to look at the . humanities, to the school libraries.
Mr Holt described these vague thoughts as the Government’s background of thinking, to show that it regarded policy making as & continuing process and not merely an electioneering device to be used every three years. If the making of education policy is a continuing process for this Government, it is impossible to detect any evidence of this approach in ils actions. Quite . obviously, these generalities were designed to secure votes, although no definite pledge was made. If the present Prime Minister has thought of implementing policy along the lines indicated by Mr Holt, there has been no hint of it either in the Governor-General’s Speech or in the legislative programme presented to the House. This disregard of thinly veiled hints given in an election policy speech gives the lie to the Government’s claim that policy making in education is a continuing process and not an electioneering device. The Minister for Education and Science said in this House last week that he believed there was additional evidence to refute the Opposition’s request for an inquiry into education at all levels. I suggest that Mr Holt’s policy hints to which I have just referred indicate that an inquiry is even more urgent
Mr Holt did raise a new area of education which had not been considered previously at the Federal level. This is pre-school education, which will become increasingly important in the years ahead. At the moment pre-school education is largely the preserve of the comparatively affluent who can pay the often substantial fees for putting 3 and 4-year-old children into pre-schools. However, the experience of educators has been that pre-school education is most important for the children of low income families. They have found that many students have been unable to benefit fully from their school experiences because of cultural deprivation in the home. In other words, teachers at later education levels have not been able to counteract the behaviour and attitudes acquired at an early stage in the home. In the United States of America a vast programme known as Project Headstart has been introduced to help disadvantaged children before they reach elementary school. This project was originally part of the anti-poverty campaign waged by the Johnson Administration. This is an excellent example of the way in which new educational methods and approaches can be developed to meet emerging social problems. This is what Mr Holt seems to have had in mind and what the present Prime Minister may have in mind in the reference to helping children of pre-school age who are put at a disadvantage because of a bad home environment.
Where there is cultural deprivation because of economic circumstances or psychological reasons in the home, it is important that these children be introduced to the learning processes as early as possible. These early years are supremely important in the development of attitudes and skills which are critical for later school success; and so cultural deprivation can be countered. By the extension of education services down to the ages of 3 and 4 years it is possible to compensate for home and community disabilities experienced by disadvantaged children. Such extension is of particular importance in country areas where opportunities for culturally deprived children are narrowed even further. The extension of pre-school education in Australia will involve a role for local government, which can often provide the best sites for preschool centres. If local government is to be included in the provision and maintenance of sites for pre-school centre, some extension of the Federal Government’s policy will be necessary. At present pre-schools must compete for funds provided under the present unsatisfactory financial arrangements between the State and Federal governments. The concept of pre-school education for disadvantaged children raises a host of implications which the Government obviously has not considered. An obvious problem is the extension of training facilities for pre-school teachers and the provision of supporting staff so that trained teachers are fully utilised. This whole area of education which has been pointed to by the Government reinforces the Opposition’s case for a full scale inquiry into education at all levels.
Further weight is given to the case for an inquiry at the other end of the educational spectrum. There is considerable confusion about the future of adult education in Australia. Traditionally adult education has been provided by a host of agencies ranging over the universities, the technical colleges, the Workers Educational Association, the Arts Council, the State Departments of Education and many other agencies. The pattern of adult education varies immensely from State to State. There is no doubt that such a profusion of agencies has brought educational enrichment to many people. But the whole future of adult education and the role it should play is extremely uncertain.
One area of concern is the future contribution of the universities to adult education. This follows the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission for the 1967-69 triennium that in future adult education should be based on the colleges of advanced education or be conducted by State agencies. The Commission recommended that support from its sources for adult education in the universities should terminate from the end of the present triennium. In New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia universities play a considerable part in adult education. Accordingly the State Governments asked that the universities continue their role and the Government agreed. But this produced a spirited controversy among the ranks of adult educators about their future role and whether universities should provide facilities for adult education. There is agreement that the total provision for adult education in Australia is miserably inadequate. Again this can only be countered by the formulation of rational plans for a Commonwealth wide expansion and development of education. Adult educators have pressed for a Commonwealth inquiry into adult education, but it seems that this would only add to the list of reports on education pigeon holed by the Government. Only a full scale inquiry into education at all levels can assess the requirements of adult education.
I would like to examine the third area of education policy referred to by Mr Holt. This is the extension of library facilities in our schools. Despite the claim of the later Prime Minister that policy making was a continuing process, there must be suspicions that the provision of Commonwealth grants for library facilities will be used as a device for political expediency at the next Federal election. Quite obviously the Government has earmarked library grants as a vote winner when it next goes to the polls. If it were sincere in its intentions to expand library services, legislation would already have been before the House. It is the substance of the hint given in Mr Holt’s speech that libraries will become a vehicle for political expediency in the blatant way that science blocks were used in the 1963 election. In other words, Federal grants for libraries will be introduced willy-nilly as an electioneering device without any consideration of the ramifications of such policy.
I have pointed out frequently in this House how the Government introduced grants to schools for science blocks without giving the slightest consideration to ways of providing teachers and supporting laboratory staff for these laboratories. I have said that in many instances science laboratories provided under the legislation are not staffed by competently trained science teachers, nor are they adequately equipped or serviced by trained laboratory staff. I envisage a similar situation when inevitably grants for school libraries are proposed or introduced. The Library Association of Australia has gone to great lengths in recent years to document standards and objectives for school libraries and for the training of school librarians. These studies have made it clear that the existing school libraries are completely inadequate for the task ahead. In essence the basic deficiencies are lack of adequate funds, lack of adequately educated and trained school librarians and supporting staff and a lack of understanding on the part of the teacher of the role of the library in modern education.
The traditional attitude towards school libraries in Australia is that any random collection of books in any unoccupied room constitutes a library. This approach is reinforced by the belief that anyone who can teach can hand out books and act as a school librarian. This is an outmoded approach in view of the increasing emphasis on the library as the heart of educational processes and the librarian as a co-educator with the teacher. Recently legislation in the United States has emphasised the role of the library as an audio-visual centre to support and enrich the school’s learning programme. A library today denotes more than books. Accepted library programmes in the United States include periodicals, film strips, disc recordings, tape recordings, micro films, pamphlets, slides, transparencies, newspapers, prints, pictures and maps. One American high school with an enrolment of about 2,000 students had a staff of four librarians, two resource centre aides, two library assistants, two instructional clerks and an artist technician, a total of eleven. This is the sort of facility that ultimately will have to be provided in secondary schools and to a lesser extent in primary schools. Such provision will mean an immense increase in expenditure on libraries and a high degree of skilled planning and training.
In Australia today the library plays a non-essential role in the educational system. There are not enough funds for the acquisition of even basic library resources and there is no effective pattern of education for school librarianship. Only one State, Victoria, conducts courses for school librarians which meet the minimum requirements of the Library Association of Australia. The whole library system in Australian schools needs transforming and this transformation can be achieved only by heavy expenditure and careful planning.
Unfortunately there is no evidence that the Government realises that the modern school library is no longer a book centre but a materials resources centre. There are no undergraduate or postgraduate courses for school librarians offered in any Australian university or college of advanced education. Even if the Government makes substantial grants to schools for libraries, it will be many years before there are sufficient facilities for adequate trained staff. A system of dual training will be needed covering training in teaching and training in library techniques if the library is to take its place at the heart of the Australian educational system. This will involve comprehensive planning and a total rethinking of current attitudes. Again we believe this important strand of educational policy can only be placed in proper perspective by a thorough review of education at all levels.
The fourth topic mentioned in Mr Holt’s speech was the need to help talented youngsters who at present cannot pay their way through universities. This raises a consideration of what Professor Cochrane of Monash University has described as the rather messy structure of fees, scholarships and student loans existing in the university system. Professor Cochrane has suggested that this structure should be rationalised by transforming the Government’s scholarship scheme into an extensive loan scheme which would provide every entrant to a university with an adequate living allowance and payment of fees. Part of all these allowances could then be repaid over a long period of years by all students after graduation. This is the sort of scheme that the Minister should closely consider. I have emphasised the areas of education policy raised by Mr Holt because they have important implications. I have tried to examine these implications and to make some suggestions. The basic conclusion I make is that a massive entry by the Commonwealth Government into education at all levels wilt be required if education standards are to be improved and ultimately transformed. Only Federal intervention can conquer the lack of imagination, the lack of innovation and the failure to develop new methods and approaches which mar our education system.
The strains on the existing structures have been dramatically pointed up by the report issued this week by the Victorian Teachers’
Union. The survey by the Union showed that 15,000 children were accommodated in Victorian State primary school classrooms, where overcrowding was so severe that adequate teaching was impossible. It showed that 8% of all primary school children in Victoria were sitting in classes where teachers found it extremely difficult to give adequate attention to individual problems. This situation is not confined to Victoria, it could be reinforced by examples of inadequate teaching resources in other States. The overwhelming trend in comparable federations, such as the United States of America and Canada, is for Federal assistance at elementary, secondary and tertiary levels. In the United States in 1965 Congress, for the first time, introduced new education programmes to help students and schools at all levels, from the pre-school level to the graduate level. It introduced, for the first time, general aid grants to America’s elementary and secondary schools. This is the sort of approach and the sort of grant which ultimately must be faced by policy makers in Australia. The whole trend has been towards the broadening of Federal grants to education, rather than grants earmarked for specific purposes or specific subjects. The two constant themes of American education policy in recent years have been a broadening of Federal assistance and extreme emphasis on teacher training. 1 had hoped to go into teacher training in some detail, but I have not the time this morning. The Opposition believes that adoption of the Martin Committee recommendations would lead to considerable upgrading of the status of teachers. It would have elevated teachers to professional degree standard and would have meant that eventually all schools in Australia, both Government and non-government, would be staffed by professionally trained teachers. It is a tragedy that hundreds of Australian teachers have found that their professional and personal aspirations can be realised only by immigration to Canada. It will be the policy of a Labor government to implement the recommendations of the Martin Committee so that sufficient professional trained teachers can be assured to all schools in Australia and the status and conditions of Australian teachers can be uplifted sufficiently to end the wasteful brain drain to other countries.
The Opposition believes that the Government has adopted a much too limited role in the financing and planning of education. We believe that the Government should act as a catalyst to bring about radical adjustments in education policy. Substantial Federal grants must be injected into education to support these adjustments and to induce State governments to make greater efforts. At present the State governments are confined to the bare logistics of education administration. Even in this role they are immensely over-strained and cannot be expected to provide impetus for education innovation and progress.
I am sure the Minister for Education and Science, who has acquired a reputation for vigour and administrative ability, feels frustrated by the extreme limitations placed on him in his new Department. 1 trust he will use his energies and ability to infuse new life into his Government’s education planning. The first task is that priorities be established and decisions made on how much money and skilled manpower of different types should be allocated to education at all levels, from the pre-school level to adult education. This can be done only by fullscale inquiry, whether it be by royal commission, an all party committee of the Parliament, a specialised committee, or a Commonwealth-States body specially appointed for the purpose.
Previous Ministers in charge of education in this Parliament have from time to time supported the establishment of committees, some of which have produced very valuable reports on education, especially tertiary education. Of course, they have referred also to the secondary and primary levels. The Government has acted commendably in respect of some of those reports, especially in relation to the recommendations of the Murray Committee. However, if one analyses the reports that have been presented to this Parliament, especially those dealing broadly with education, it will be seen that in too few cases the Government has accepted the recommendations, which have been set out clearly by competent committees. In most instances the Government has merely pigeonholed the reports, although it must have been aware of the needs in every State of the Commonwealth. After all, these are the opinions not only of members of the Opposition in this
House; indeed, these are the opinions that come from the parents and friends associations, and professional educators.. I refer to members of the Teachers Federation, who have repeatedly pointed out the crisis that exists in education at all levels in every State of the Commonwealth.
With this mass of information available, one would have thought that’ the Government would now have accepted the proposition that has been advanced not only by members of the Opposition on numerous occasions in this Parliament, but also by the people who have accepted the responsibility for education in Australia. The proposal has been that we should appoint a competent committee of inquiry, which would be able to inform the Parliament and the people on ways in which the education system might be improved and the money that should be made available. by this Parliament to produce these improvements.
– I second the motion, and reserve my right to speak later.
– The Government believes that the kind of inquiry envisaged by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) is no more necessary now than it was when suggested on earlier occasions. Indeed, as a result of developments in recent times, especially during the time when the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was the Minister for Education and Science, it is becoming clearer that ari overall inquiry into the aspects of education mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would not serve a useful purpose. The increasing Commonwealth Government activity in these fields is one of the reasons why at times there might be an air of frustration among the members of the Opposition, who, I believe, like to regard themselves as the champions of the advancement ot education. However, ever since the Murray report was presented to this Parliament by Sir Robert Menzies, there has been a great and growing involvement by the Commonwealth in education, first at the tertiary level and now at other levels.
This has meant virtually an educational revolution in Australian with the expansion of universities, the programme for colleges of advanced education, the expansion of scholarship schemes, the introduction of new forms of scholarships, assistance to secondary schools for the provision of science laboratories and technical training assistance. In addition to these things we find that the much greater funds that the States themselves have been putting into the field of education are resulting in a steady improvement in the quality of education in Australia. I hope that I will be able to demonstrate these facts over the next few moments.
The terms of the motion, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, are the same as that which he moved last year. This, I believe, should be opposed on certain specific grounds. The Deputy Leader is asking us to have an inquiry into an area which is specifically one of prime State concern. This does not mean to say that the Commonwealth has no concern or interest. It has demonstrated an interest in particular areas of need. But since this is one of the prime State concerns, normally an inquiry into this field would need to have the support of the States. There has never been the unanimous support of all the States for such an inquiry. At recent Premiers Conferences the subject has not been raised. At the last meeting of State Ministers for Education the subject was not raised. Indeed, there has been some public evidence that would indicate that at least one of the major States would oppose such inquiry.
I wish to read a paragraph from a speech made by Mr Cutler, the New South Wales Minister for Education, in the New South Wales Parliament. Mr Cutler said:
One of the outstanding fields into which the Commonwealth has intruded is education. In recent times we have seen the setting up of a Commonwealth Ministry of Education and Science, if the system is to continue as it is and the Commonwealth is increasingly to come into the field of State rights I see some reason for setting up this Commonwealth ministry, but I can see no reason for it if we are to adhere to the Federal system in Australia. I must be quite plain and outspoken on this matter. I do not deny for a moment that the various Melds into which the Commonwealth has entered with grants to the States are needy ones, but (he intervention by the Federal Government goes far beyond the mere making of grants, whether matching or unmatched for specific purposes.
This clearly indicates a reluctance to accept greater Commonwealth intrusion and, certainly, it would indicate a reluctance to accept a Commonwealth sponsored inquiry specifically into something that is a State concern.
– That is not the viewpoint of the remaining Ministers.
– It is the viewpoint of more than one of them. I suggest that without the support of the States such an inquiry would be abortive.
It should be noted that in their own fields the States themselves have inquiries when they believe inquiries are necessary. Recently an inquiry was held in Queensland into teacher training while in Tasmania an inquiry investigated the place of the school in modern society. In Western Australia an inquiry considered the problem of secondary education and in New South Wales an inquiry was held into the need for an education commission. The States conduct inquiries into a great number and wide variety of matters when they believe that inquiries are necessary. The Commonwealth conducts inquiries in matters which are of prime concern to it when it believes them to be necessary. This is something that will continue.
Basically we believe that the States are in a position to know their own problems best in many of these fields which are of particular concern to them as is primary and _ secondary education. But, quite apart from these reasons, I think that over the last few years another factor has emerged which makes an overall inquiry quite unnecessary. There is much better communication between the Commonwealth and the States and between the States themselves on all educational matters today than there was 4 years or 5 years ago. The State Ministers for Education meet regularly. The Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science is present at the meetings. There is a regular flow of communication and constant liaison so that we know and understand the problems of each other and can learn from them.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned the problem of teachers leaving Australia to go to teach in Canada. Again this is something on which the States by no means have a unanimous view. The States, up to the present time, have no statistics, I think - or were not able to give me statistics at a meeting - of the number of teachers who have gone to Canada. This is a question that needs looking at but not just in terms of the number of teachers who go to Canada. If a teacher goes to Canada for a year with the object of broadening his experience and then returning to Australia, I would suggest that this would be a good thing for the teaching profession in Australia. If he leaves Australia for good, clearly this is not a good thing. But a number of teachers do go to broaden their own experience. A number who have gone believing that they are going to be much better off in Canada subsequently have returned to Australia, realising that the greater expense of living in Canada has meant that on a much lower salary in Australia they can maintain an equal standard of living. In short, on this aspect of what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is putting forward, I believe that the States are in a position to know their own needs and that the liaison that we have with the States makes the kind of inquiry that he is suggesting quite unnecessary.
Of course, it may be said that we should have an inquiry to try to establish areas of deficiency. But I believe that the kind of liaison that we have with the States and between the States indicates areas of shortages, areas of deficiency and areas where improvement needs to be made. Nobody is going to say that no need for improvement exists. I believe that improvement is being made. But all of these things cannot be done at once. While somebody might be enthusiastically supporting the cause of education, when governments are deciding how their budgets are to be divided they - and only the governments can do this - must allot an order of national priorities between education, health, social services and other matters which make considerable demand upon the national budget or in some instances upon State budgets.
It is interesting to have a look at the reaction of governments in recent times to the need for improved facilities to see how they have tried to respond to the growing demand and the rising expectations of students and of parents. In the last 10 years State expenditure, for example, has increased from $286m to $706m. That is a fairly heavy increase in expenditure on one item although admittedly this is a major item of national expenditure. In New South Wales and in Victoria over roughly the same period the expenditure per head of population in each State has more than doubled, again indicating the great importance which the States themselves place upon education.
Since 1962-63, Commonwealth expenditure on education has risen from under $60m to Si 94m this financial year. Indeed, in the 5 years to 1966-67, Commonwealth expenditure on education has risen by 142% and State expenditure on education has risen by as much as 50%. The rate of Commonwealth expenditure has grown even beyond that figure because, in the 5 years to 1967-68, Commonwealth expenditure on education has risen by 187%. I do not believe that it is realistic to expect a greater rate of increase in expenditure than this in the field of education whether we are talking about State expenditure or whether we are talking about Commonwealth expenditure. Indeed, with other demands on the national budget, it may be difficult to maintain the rate of increase of expenditure that we have seen over the last few years.
If, as 1 sometimes suspect, the desire for a Federal inquiry into education is merely an attempt to try to create pressure to get additional funds for education, I do not see how this move can achieve its purpose. Without any inquiry, much greater funds are being put forward in these matters by the States and by the Commonwealth. I do not believe that we would be able - to achieve a faster increase in the rate of expenditure than in fact has been achieved over recent years. One of the reasons for this increase in expenditure is the new Commonwealth programmes in science laboratories and technical training facilities, and new scholarship schemes that have been introduced to assist students. In just two areas alone - I refer to science laboratories and technical training facilities - as a result of the programme which has recently been introduced into the Parliament, State schools will have benefited by $120m from the two programmes by the end of the next 3-year programme and independent schools by a little under $30m. This is only in these two areas, quite apart from other activities of the Commonwealth in education.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to some remarks made by Mr Holt in a Senate election policy speech referring to libraries and pre-schools. The Government does not quarrel with the sorts of things that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said about libraries and pre-schools. Over the last few months the Department and 1 have been conducting quite intensive investigations into these matters, and into a number of other problems that have not been mentioned in public, so that when funds are available and when the occasion permits we will know what most of the needs for additional Commonwealth initiative are. But 1 believe the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was stretching a long bow when he suggested that if the Commonwealth had been genuine in these matters it would already have introduced legislation. The logical time to introduce new programmes that involve significant financial commitments is the time of presentation of a budget. We have not had a budget presented between the occasion of the Senate election policy speech and the present time. There is no commitment here. I do not know how the priorities will work out in the Government and in the Department itself. Most of these priorities have not been finally determined. We have to determine which matters are of the highest priority if we are to obtain the funds required. But an assertion that we need to do something about libraries, and that there is agreement between us about the sorts of things that need to be done and the sorts of deficiencies that exist, cannot, I think, without a strange twist of the mind, be turned into an effective argument for an inquiry. We know what the problems are in education just as we do in a good many other fields.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made a passing reference to some features in relation to which he suggested, by international comparisons, that Australia was not doing as well as it should. Some of these international comparisons have not been accurately based. They do not take account of the very rapid rate of growth in Australian education expenditure over recent years. They do not take account of the fact that we now spend well over 4% of our national income on education. Some of the specific comparisons have been plainly false. For example, we were told that 20% of the people in the 15 to 19 years age bracket are staying at school or receiving some kind of full time education. In fact, the figure is 34%, not 20%. This clearly puts Australia much higher up the scale than we were when Professor Philp, I think, used this percentage in a comparison. We were told that we produce only 55 graduates for every 100,000 persons in the population. This placed Australia behind Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom. According to the figures that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition used, Japan is producing 165 graduates per 100,000 of the population, the highest figure among those three countries. But if we work out the number of Australian graduates per year per 100,000 of the population, we find that we are producing 190 or more. So, in fact, we are at the top of the list instead of at the bottom.
Of course, one of the reasons for the constantly increasing demand on education facilities is the rising expectation of students and parents. Young people are staying at school longer and more of them want to undertake some kind of tertiary education. This again is demonstrable by the use of figures. From 1957 to the present time the proportion of students in the 15 to 19 years age group staying at school beyond the compulsory age has almost doubled. The actual numbers staying at school beyond the compulsory age have risen from 100,000 to 300,000 every year. This clearly creates a pressure on those responsible for secondary education. Enrolments of tertiary students over the same period have risen from 67,000 to 167,000. This represents an increase from 8.9% to 13.4% . This again has placed great pressure on those who have the responsibility for providing educational facilities. But I suggest that the response to this pressure is providing the facilities. This can be seen in the great expansion taking place in universities and the programme for colleges of advanced education. Both these programmes are broadening the whole spectrum of educational facilities in the tertiary field. I believe that they are in direct response to, if not in anticipation of, the increasing number of people who wish to go to a university.
Briefly, I would like to say something about the recommendations on teacher training in the report of the Martin Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made reference to them in the closing stages of his speech. What he said. I believe, ignores the fact that a great number of the recommendations in the report relate to matters which are the particular responsibility of the States. The report stated that the teaching colleges should be autonomous. However, only the States can make them autonomous. The Committee recommended that the colleges should offer 3-year courses. Many of the States want this to become the norm. But this again is a matter for the States. I suggest that it is quite useless to demand that the Commonwealth Government put into effect proposals on matters which are the responsibility of the States. But there were two specific areas about which the Martin Committee made recommendations and in which the Commonwealth has influence. The Commonwealth has not precisely adopted what the Martin Committee suggested. But the Government believes it has done a good deal better than the Committee suggested. The Committee recommended that a special system of teacher scholarships should be available for teachers to the extent of about 10% of the places available at the colleges. These scholarships would presumably be available for teachers not bonded to governments. The advanced college scholarships are available to people attending approved teachers colleges. As honourable members know, under the new programme of construction of advanced colleges, up to 10% of the new places being provided under the Commonwealth programme of $24m will be kept for non-bonded students. These would be largely for students who, I hope, would later teach at independent schools.
When we look at the capital recommendations made by the Martin Committee we find that it recommended that $5m should be spent, with the Commonwealth matching expenditure by the States. In effect, it suggested that the Commonwealth should contribute $2£m, though this was not a specific recommendation in terms of dollars. However, when we translate what was said by the Committee and try to add it all up, this is what it boiled down to. The Commonwealth, instead of providing a grant of $2im. matching sums provided by the States, to make up the $5m, is providing an unmatched grant of S24m for the construction of new teachers colleges. Therefore, the Commonwealth has gone far beyond what the Martin Committee recommended. I think it is an odd thing to chastise the Commonwealth, not for precisely adopting the recommendations of the Martin Committee, but for doing so very much more. I think it is odd also to chastise the Government for not putting into effect recommendations which it is the particular prerogative of the States to put into effect if they wish to do so. I do not believe that we would assist the States to make up their minds on these matters if we were to attempt to give them any direction. It is not our task to do this.
In summary, I say that this motion should be rejected. The arrangements that are being made to meet the educational requirements of the States, and of Australia as a whole, by the States and the Commonwealth are, I believe, meeting the needs. Constant and close liaison between the Commonwealth and the States is establishing circumstances in which all governments have an acute awareness of what is necessary in this field.
– The speech just made by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was rather terrifying in its complacency and its repetitiveness.
– What rot.
– When the honourable member has been here a little longer, which heaven forbid, he will understand the repetitive nature of the contributions by Minister after Minister and Prime Minister after Prime Minister to debates on education that have taken place in this House in the last 10 or 12 years. They have reeled off figures which have no relevance to the sensitivity of Australian education. The Minister made some remarkable statements. One of the points I want to make clear to the House is that if we examine the situation we can see that there are obviously no priorities anywhere along the line and that State rights are more important to the Minister and the Government than anything else is. The Minister has an obsession with the rights of the States in regard to educational institutions.
A Bill has been introduced into the House just recently which will give the Government absolute authority to probe and to pry into educational institutions when it is chasing the young men of Australia. If it is good enough to demand from the young people of Australia when they are 20 years old that they make the absolute sacrifice, it is good for the Commonwealth to insist that it turn its resources on to giving an absolute guarantee of proper educational opportunities throughout the lifetime of these people. It seems to me that the Liberal Party and the Government have no conscience about education and they have no national outlook. I wonder whether there is any significance in the fact that so many honourable members on the other side of the House are not products of the State educational systems of Australia and therefore do not understand them. The three speakers who will speak in this debate from this side of the House are, of course, products of the State school system. We have all learned under that system and we have worked in it. That is no reflection on the people who have gone to the other schools, but it is a fact, .1 am sure, that two of the three members on the other side of the House who will speak in this debate are not really conscious of what goes on in the field of education today. Nobody can stand in this House and say that the quality of Australian education is rising throughout the nation. Nobody with eyes to see can drive around the suburbs of Melbourne, Sydney and perhaps Brisbane and the other capitals without experiencing some dismay at what can only be described as slum schools. Where is the conscience of this place? When I use the word ‘slum’ I do not refer to the children in them or to the teachers or the parents who send the children to the schools. But they are not the type of schools to which one would send his own children if he had any choice. Hundreds of thousands of Australian children are being educated under conditions which are a disgrace to one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
The Minister says that we have not worked out our priorities. The Government has some odd priorities. The honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) is trying to interject. Has he any idea of how many secondary schools the cost of one Fill would build? One single Fill aircraft will cost more than the National Library in Canberra cost to construct. Twenty-four Fills will cost two and a half times the total cost of the Monash University by the time it is completed to accommodate 20,000 students. All we are asking is that the priorities include the things to which I refer. To us on this side, education is an important and rising priority in the national needs.
– You would give defence away, would you?
– I do not remember hearing the honourable member for St George taking up the cause about the way in which defence expenditure is being handled. I am pointing out where, the priorities lie. If the nation needs money, then it will get money. The Australian people have not been challenged on this issue or on any’ other issue. The Government says: These things will cost too much. We cannot increase taxation.’ I believe that if the Australian people were guaranteed a reasonable system of education all along the line they would pay the extra taxation. One of the most depressing attitudes I lint are expressed from the other side of the House relates to this question of State rights.’
It has been said that Mr Cutler, the Minister for Education in New South Wales, isdeeply concerned about the constitutional position. He is more concerned about the Constitution than about the children in the schools. There are large areas of doubt in our minds, and I am sure in the mind of anybody concerned with education in Australia. We do not know where we are going. This comment would apply, 1 should think, to most people who are engaged in education in Australia today. A lot of the targets areobscure. Wc have a very vague understanding of many of the social objectives. Somewhere along the line some high powered inquiry has to. be implemented, ( would suggest - as we have been suggesting in this House for 12 years - that the Commonwealth is best endowed to carry out this operation. A public inquiry with the power and purpose of the Roberts inquiry in Britain, for instance, .should be held into education. I think that we are departing from our obligations to the. nation if we leave this matter to the States. The States have neither the resources nor the national vision, you might say, to carry out this function.
But there is something else about the States. Every State educational system is crowded with its day-to-day concerns. There is no possibility of their letting some officers opt out of the day-to-day business and become what you might call the general staff for the planning of education. All State educational systems are under-serviced. I suppose it is a matter of some administrative pride that a very small percentage of the Australian education vote is spent upon administration. I have been into head offices of State educational systems where very senior people do not even have a room to themselves. They have no time to spare for planning. The Commonwealth has at least the capacity and the resources to become the general staff, you might say, of Australian education. It has to mobilise the thinking capacity of Australian educationalists. In a mement I shall have a few words to say about the Australian education system, as I see it. and as I think other people concerned with education understand it.
The Minister for Education and Science said that there was a rise in the quality of education. He has this notion on his own. For instance, Professor Karmel is reported, in an article in the ‘Australian’ some. time ago. as saying that our education has shown an increase in quantity rather than arty improvement in quality. This is part of the challenge which confronts us. One of the great difficulties - and I would think there would be no need to mention this - is that of finding education statistics in this country. As evidence of this one only has to turn to the Minister’s own publication, Education News’, which, underneath recent statistics - which are published in every volume of the publication, states:
These figures have been taken from reports of the State Education Departments. Owing to diffferences in methods of compilation they are not precisely comparable from State to State . . .
So this fact is admitted in a public document. In fact, there is a great need to step into the field of compiling statistical information. Then there is the problem of the multiplicity of authorities. Somebody has to- co-ordinate them. After all, all Australians are entitled to the same consideration. They are entitled to have the same expenditure of resources spent upon their education. In the Australian Capital Territory itself some months ago I attempted to gather some information about such questions as class loads. It is interesting to note that only in Victoria is it easy to obtain facts and figures about class loads. I found it extremely difficult, even using the resources of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, to ascertain from the Department of the Interior some of the simple statistics that are readily available elsewhere. Even in what you might call the beating heart of the Minister’s empire he does not have control of the situation yet.
Another question that is difficult to analyse is that of examination results. I suggest to honourable members that they should go and see what they can find out about the recent matriculation examinations in each of the States, see what they can obtain from each State itself and then try to co-ordinate the results. I think that they would be able to obtain figures from Victoria and New South Wales. I assume that figures are available in the other States, but they are not readily available. 1 believe that these matters are some of the fundamental facts of education that anybody sitting in this House ought to take into consideration.
We are suggesting that a national inquiry should be held into education. We are not putting forward the answers. We think there are large areas in which we do not know the answers and that we have to mobilise the intellectual resources of the educational systems of the nation to try to find the answers. Why is there such a wastage rate of women in Australian universities? Why is it that young Australians with the same social background, the same intellectual capacity and all the other things that go to make up a person, drop out of the education system at a greater rate than others? Only because of their sex. I have quoted the 1966 figures before, but I think that they cannot be repeated too often, because this is not a challenge to the Government, and I do not think it is the Minister’s fault. But in 1966, there were 66.303 males in universities and 24.969 females. This is a social question. Parents do not accept the same responsibility for higher education for their daughters as they do for their sons. Also, daughters, by their own decision, drop out of the system before their brothers. This is a great social challenge. Obviously, approximately 42,000 young Australians do not attend universities, not because they do not have the intellectual capacity - in fact, it is well proven that girls have an equal capacity to boys - but because they are girls. I believe that this is an area of great challenge. It is probably the greatest area in which we can pick up and improve the Australian education production, if you could call it that.
What about non-State school education? What do we know about non-State schools? We know that they turn out very fine products, when it comes to gentlemanliness, judging by some of the honourable members in this House. Even their intellectual capacity is not challenged. But there are large areas of non-State school education in which the needs and the teaching capacity are unknown. Whole areas of it are removed from public scrutiny. We have stepped into this field. In some ways we have drifted in, but sometimes we have gone in because of political expediency. The Commonwealth has accepted some responsibility in respect of education. But we have accepted responsibility for what? Where are we going and how are we going on with it? Was the provision of science blocks the best thing to do for schools? There are some doubts about’ this question. Was this the point to start at? I personally do not think that it was. But then my experience has not been in that field of education and I might be biased.
What do we know about class loads? I heard this morning, for instance, about a class in a school in the Australian Capital Territory in which there are 55 students. What are we going to do about the shortage of teachers? Is it necessary to extend our teaching -staffs or are there ancillary services, such as television, libraries and non-professional services which might help to overcome the difficulty? What do we know about the social pressures that are building up? What do we know about the social needs? We know very little. What I and my colleagues are saying today is that if the Minister will throw away the timeworn cliches of the last 12 years and settle down to the work of his Department in the way in which I know he is capable of working - or at least I hope he is; it has not been proven yet - then I am pretty confident he will have a chance of overcoming some of the difficulties confronting our education system.
Many of these difficulties arise from the very conservative nature of the system itself. For instance, what languages are we teaching? If we listened to the honourable members opposite, with their outworn pessimistic outlook, we might incline to the view that we should be teaching Chinese instead of French. There are very few Asian languages being taught in our schools, lt is very difficult for a State system to launch a programme of teaching Asian languages. I think that if we were to make a serious attack, on the teaching of, say, Indonesian, then only the Commonwealth Government could produce the Indonesian teachers and all the necessary background for such a programme. Wc cannot ignore this necessity by saying that it is the duty of the States.
The education system is unplanned. Although I have not time this morning to go fully into this aspect of the matter, 1 suggest that honourable members get hold of the World Year Book on Education foi 1967 and read through the section on education planning. It would seem that our education system is over-centralised. So I hope that in Canberra at least we can produce a modified local education authority so that we can carry out here some of the experiments that are desirable in Australian education. What we might call the parent bodies associated with education are completely hamstrung by authorities further along the line. There are many things we can learn from overseas. There are many mistakes that other countries have made which we want to avoid making here. There are many inequalities that I have previously pointed out, such as inequalities of sex and inequalities of geography. There is a difference between attendances at universities in Victoria and New South Wales. I suggest that the average New South Wales secondary school student has had in the past a 30% greater opportunity to attend a university than people south of the
Murray have had. We should try to overcome these difficulties as well as those arising from differences in social and economic status.
I suggest that the Commonwealth should accept the responsibility of really ascertaining the views of the people on these matters. It is not good enough merely to say: ‘We have spent umpteen millions and that is as much as we can afford’. This is a challenge to the nation. It is disappointing that after 10 years or so of campaigning, when we have finally got a full scale Minister in every sense of the word, we find that he is still a ratherpetty States’ rights man when it comes to this kind of challenge. In saying that, I cast no reflection on his personality.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) referred in his speech today to the Martin Committee’s recommendation on teacher training. As the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has pointed out, however, the Commonwealth in this sphere is already doing much more than was recommended by the Martin Committee. While on the subject of the Martin Committee I may say that I am always amused at the attitude of the Labor Party towards that Committee. We heard a great deal of noise from the Opposition, before the triennium grant of $8m per annum for teacher training was made, about the lack of implementation of the Martin Committee’s recommendations on this aspect of our education system. Yet we heard no noise at all about another recommendation of the Martin Committee, namely that the Commonwealth should cease providing finance for part time and external studies at universities. Here, as in other matters, the Opposition has two bob each way. One day it likes what the Martin Committee says; the next day it does not.
I took particular interest in the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, since he was formerly a teacher. I was interested to hear him say that there was an alarming exodus of teachers to other countries, especially to Canada. This statement shows up again the many divisions within the Labor Party. It was only recently that the former President of the South Hobart Branch of the Australian Labor
Party, Mr Sid Evans, said on television in Hobart that he, and other teachers, were leaving to teach in Canada because the conditions there were better. Then Mr Neilson, the State President of the Deputy Leader’s party, and Minister for Education in Tasmania, went to the Press in a great flurry to deny this. Let me read from the report in the Hobart ‘Mercury’ of 26th April:
Any suggestion that a substantial number ot teachers was going to Canada was ‘quite without foundation’, the Minister for Education, Mr Neilson, said yesterday.
Mr Neilson said the department had received resignations from two teachers going to Canada.
Unofficially, seven others were known to be going later in the year- but their resignations so far had not been received, -he said.
By no stretch of the imagination could the extravagant claims of recent days of teachers emigrating to Canada be justified.’
Mr Neilson said the May resignation rate this year was normal, and added that a survey had suggested that resignations- this year would be less than 2%.
Pregnancy, and other personal reasons - particularly family commitments - were the main causes of resignations, the survey showed.
Some teachers were’ travelling, and it was assumed many of these -would return to Tasmania, Mr Neilson said.
The Minister said the survey showed that . dissatisfaction wilh working conditions was not the reason for teachers leaving.
So there we have it. We have statements from the ex-President of the South Hobart Branch, from the State President and Minister for Education . and from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. One may choose which view one wishes. I suggest that there is no evidence at all that significant numbers of teachers are going to Canada, and there is certainly no evidence that the numbers going there have increased above normal levels. It is not unusual for young teachers to take working holidays overseas. I think it would be in the interests of the Australian education system for them to do so and broaden their horizons. I would, however, make one point on this matter of teachers going to Canada. It is a fact, as I understand it, that Canada is the only country that has sent a recruiting officer to Australia.. I think he came from the Province of .Ontario. It is. also a fact that Canada is paying higher salaries for senior teachers. .But I believe that in terms of numbers of teachers leaving Australia the position is not serious. I appreciate the point made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition because these developments could have an effect on the numbers of senior teachers in the Australian system. My point is, however, that it is extremely difficult to gauge the effect of these departures.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made considerable reference to the mention of pre-school education in the policy speech made before the last Senate election. It is’ interesting to note that he did not include this matter in the motion that he has moved. The Deputy Leader’s nominal colleague in another place, Senator Murphy, has a notice of motion standing in his name, which incidentally was given on the same day as the Deputy Leader gave notice in this House of his motion, and Senator Murphy’s motion includes pre-school education. The Australian Teachers Federation held its 48th annual conference in Brisbane in January 1968. On page 3 of the printed report of that conference there is a resolution which also refers to pre-school education. In view qf the criticism, in my opinion unwarranted, offered by honourable members . opposite, particularly the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), of the “ Government’s efforts in . the education field,’ I think it would be instructive to read this resolution to the House:
In view of the decision of the Federal Government in recent years to allocate funds for specific projects in education, such as grants for science and teacher training, this conference of the A.T.F. calls on the Federal Government to institute immediately an inquiry into the needs of Australian education at pre-school, primary, secondary and technical education levels and; following such an inquiry, to set up an education commission on the lines of the Australian. Universities Commission, with representation from those bodies concerned with education, to make regular inquiries into the specific needs of each State with a view to allocating funds to those projects in education which are most in need of assistance.
I do not agree that this is the proper approach to the problems of education in Australia today. I do not seek to deny that there are problems/ But whether they are of crisis magnitude is a. question pf degree. Nevertheless, there certainly are problems. Bearing in mind that the State Ministers for Education meet as they do, that they invite the Federal Minister for Education and Science to their meetings, that they have produced a document entitled ‘Some Needs of-Education’, and our constitutional set-up which, despite what the honourable member -for Wills might say, leaves the basic responsibility for education with the States, I would have thought that an education commission such as that advocated by the Australian Teachers Federation and supported substantially in the same terms by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would lead to confusion rather than solve problems of education.
It seems to me also that it is worth bearing in mind what the Commonwealth has done already hi regard to pre-school education. I remind the House that Commonwealth assistance extends to Lady Gowrie child centres and also Commonwealth scholarships are tenable at kindergarten training colleges. The Lady Gowrie centres are not merely kindergartens. I stress the fact that they are. specialised demonstration and research centres which disseminate on a national scale knowledge gained in this field. It has been stated already in the booklet ‘The Commonwealth Government in Education’ which was published in 1966 that Lady Gowrie child education units have given impetus to the development of about 700 pre-school centres in Australia. Of course, there is a need for more kindergartens in the poorer areas of our cities. Modern experts stress the importance of pre-school training in the development of a child’s mind and his or her receptive ability in regard to formal education. The less privileged children in our community do not have the same advantages in these respects as do those from a relatively affluent environment. Therefore I should like to see further activity by the Commonwealth in this .field, and I would suggest a system of matching grants which could be made to the States for the establishment and operation of pre-school facilities designed to help the less privileged.
I pass from pre-school training to another point raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that is, Commonwealth assistance for libraries. I agree with him when he says that action is necessary and that Federal assistance is needed in the provision of library facilities - but not, I emphasise, just to government schools. Both the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Teachers Federation have a Cyclopean approach to Federal assistance for school libraries.
– Cyclopean - that is a good word.
– It means one eyed. I can demonstrate clearly this sort of approach to Federal assistance to school libraries that is needed by referring to the motion adopted at the 48th conference of the Australian Teachers Federation. It was resolved:
That the Federal Government make special financial grants to the States to assist: -
in the provision at all government primary and post-primary schools of adequate libraries, library furniture and furnishing and library books;
in the training of teacher-librarians to enable all government school libraries to be efficiently staffed.
In my opinion the provision of Commonwealth money for the capital cost of establishing and equipping school libraries must be on a basis which does not discriminate between government and non-government schools. I suggest that there is a good blueprint for the provision of this aid in the States Grants (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Act which was passed in 1964. I suggest to the Government the provision of an annual grant of $10m for a triennium commencing, if possible, in January 1969. In my opinion this would redress the balance in favour of the humanities, the study of which now tends to be subordinated to that of the scientific and technical subjects. In my opinion, because we live in a scientific age, there is an increasing need for greater skills in areas such as law and public administration.
– Certainly in law.
– And certainly in teaching, if the honourable member is any example of the product. I should like to pass to a subject which is often mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), that is, free universities. I suggest that the present level of Commonwealth assistance to university education is so great that tha cost to the Commonwealth of taking the ultimate step of providing free university education would be about $llm annually. This, on the surface in terms of the overall Commonwealth Budget, is not a great deal of money; but I personally would not give this a high priority because in my view there are other areas of education which deserve Commonwealth assistance before we have free universities. I hark back to the earlier points that I made with respect to pre-schools and school libraries. But beyond that I am concerned about the lack of value that the taxpayer is receiving today for the money that is already allocated to the universities. I refer to the remarks of Sir Robert Madgwick, a former ViceChancellor of the University of New England who, speaking to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, admittedly as the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, said that in this day and age value had to be obtained for public money spent. As I have said, he was referring to the ABC, but I should think that his words apply equally to the universities.
I am concerned about the high first year failure rate at Australian universities. On the last figures available to me, those for 1961, the first year pass rate at Australian universities was 56%. As one would expect, the pass rate for holders of Commonwealth scholarships was much higher. However, in 1967 the position with regard to Commonwealth scholars was far from satisfactory. The Leader of the Opposition asked the Minister for Education and Science to provide him with figures which showed the percentage pass rate, and the House will, recall that they were incorporated in an amended written reply. The figures were alarming. I do not have time to cite them all, but it is interesting to note that in 1967 of the 97 Commonwealth scholars enrolled at the Australian National University there were 32 failures in the first year. At the University of Sydney out of an enrolment of 595 scholars there were 338 failures in the first year. There were 136 Commonwealth scholars at the University of New South Wales and there were 60 first year failures. I should emphasise in drawing honourable members’ attention to these figures that ‘failure’ has a special definition which is set out in the Minister’s reply. It states:
A student’s results are counted as a failure:
if he is required to repeat the whole year of a course;
if he fails in some subjects and is allowed to proceed but is unable to complete the course in minimum time.
I do not suggest that the situation is out of hand, but I do suggest that before we give more money to the universities the universities themselves should set their own houses in order and should take steps to correct this alarmingly high failure rate of first year students.
The honourable member for Wills expressed some concern about class sizes and particularly, I gather from questions he has asked, in his own State of Victoria. Perhaps it would interest him to know that pupilteacher ratios in government primary and secondary schools in the period from 1962 to 1966 have not increased but rather have decreased. To take the commencing year 1962, in primary schools the Australian average was 30.2 students to each teacher, but in 1966 the Australian average had fallen to 28.2. Let me refresh the honourable member’s memory as to the situation in his own State. In 1962 in Victoria the ratio was 24.8 and by 1966 it had dropped to 23.6. I refer now to secondary schools. In 1962 the Australian average was 20.9 and by 1966 it had fallen to 18.8. 1 can give the pupil-teacher ratios for all nongovernment primary and secondary schools combined for the period from 1962 to 1966. In 1962 the figure was 33 and by 1966 it had fallen to 31.3. This illustrates and emphasises the point I am making to the honourable member for Wills that there has been an improvement in class sizes. In Victoria in 1961 there were 472 classes with 50 pupils and over. In 1967 there were 94 classes of 50 and over and in 1 968 the figure fell to 39. 1 therefore suggest to the honourable member for Wills that he check his facts before making the sweeping statements that he has, particularly his opening statement that no-one would suggest that education in Australia is improving. I would suggest that even an ex-teacher, particularly someone with the obvious intelligence of the honourable member for Wills, would see, just by looking around him, the improvement that has been brought about in education in Australia, mainly in the post-war period, and this is due to Liberal Government intervention in the field of education.
Earlier in my speech I said that the primary constitutional responsibility for the provision of education lies with the State governments. In my opinion it is neither practicable nor desirable that this situation be altered. However, I remind the House that total Commonwealth expenditure on education is now nearing the $200m mark. In my view the necessary investigations for further Commonwealth intervention in the sphere of education should be carried out by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science in collaboration with the Education Departments of the various States. These people, in my opinion, are the experts.
As I indicated earlier I do not support the view of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the right way to go about this matter is to have an all-embracing shot gun inquiry which may bring down more birds than one would wish from a financial point of view. I suggest that Opposition speakers so far today have not advanced a sufficient case for the support of the House. In fact 1 think the reasons advanced by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) at question time yesterday are still valid today. I make no apology for repeating them. The Prime Minister said:
To that statement I add that there have been no arguments adduced today by speakers on the opposite side of the House to change the opinion which I held in earlier years and which I still hold.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Mr Freeth) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as to permit the time for consideration of Notice of Motion No. 1, General Business, to be further extended until 2.45 p.m.
– The honourable member for Denison (Mr Gibson), in referring to the proposed inquiry into all needs of education suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), used the rather remarkable expression, that this would be a shotgun inquiry which might bring down more birds than one would wish from a financial point of view. In other words, the inquiry might reveal very many expensive needs of education. The rather extraordinary implied logic in that statement is this: ‘Because there are needs and because they may be expensive, for heaven’s sake let us not find them out’. Tt may be a good Treasury approach to the problems of education, but with its implied admission of educational needs, it is not a good educational approach. The Minister who is now at the table of the House is the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I remember the resistance put up through several election campaigns to the idea of the creation of a portfolio of Education and Science; so I have the greatest faith that, if the Government continues in office, the proposal that we are putting forward now will be implemented in 6 years time, and then all the honourable members on the other side who have said that it should not be carried out will stand up to take credit for it being carried out, as we have seen them do on many other occasions. But when we discuss education, we are noi here to score party political points; we are trying to get an intelligent view of the needs of Australia’s young people. lt would be corrosive cynicism to discuss this merely for votes, and I do not believe that concern for education is the monopoly of any party, any class, or any religion in Australia. If the Government’ did what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asks, there would be no gain for the Opposition. Constantly we are accused from the Government side of seeking political advantage. However, if an inquiry into all needs of education, which we arc asking the Government to carry out, has political advantages attached to it, they would accrue to the Government when it carried out the inquiry for which we are pressing. There would be a clear gain for the Government despite the fact that the Government was reversing a longstanding opposition. Let me remind the House of a number of these longstanding oppositions. Year after year we had to suffer the gentleman who is now Australian Ambassador to Ireland telling us that in no circumstances could Aboriginals have social service payments. That attitude was completely reversed, and instead of such payments being forbidden by the Constitution, it was held- that the form of the Constitution actually enjoined them in the Barwick reversal of interpretations.
Then we bad the incursion by the former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Menzies, into the field of secondary education. Year after year Prime Minister Menzies said there should be no Commonwealth action in secondary education, on precisely the same ground that the honourable member for Denison advanced earlier today when he argued that the Commonwealth should not comply with the Opposition’s request. However, at thetime of the 1963 elections Prime Minister Menzies made an incursion into, secondary education, by the science grants. Also, the Holt Government reversed the Menzies’ Government’s ‘opposition- an opposition which was always applauded from behindto seeking constitutional power to legislate for Aboriginals. As/ Sir ‘ Robert Menzies wanted it, all that was required by the Government was the census power - the power to count Aboriginals, not the power to legislate. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), who received many gibes from the Government side in today’s debate, kept up the pressure for 12 years in the face of ridicule. Then the Government acted, and got a 90% vote from the community at the referendum. Let us dis- ‘ cuss the proposal on its merits and not . in the atmosphere of gibe, because the Government may reverse its policy and then have to find very solid reasons why there should be an inquiry into education.
The fact is that we have no clear view of many education needs. Let me speak first of Aboriginals. The Western Australian Government is groping towards a syllabus for Aboriginals who are just coming from the desert into European community life. What do they need in education? The Commonwealth has as many people so placed in the Northern Territory as has the State of Western Australia. Will you have an inquiry into that, or are. they just, to be allowed to drift as they are at the present time? I remind the House that this Parliament also is responsible for the education of a child population in Papua-New Guinea which includes children of school age more numerous than those of the State of Victoria.
There are many special problems in connection with the education of the children of Papua-New Guinea which have never been the subject of investigation and research. Constantly from education officials of the Catholic Church there are statements made about the special needs of children in that private sector of education. Can we have an inquiry into that? I believe it is urgently necessary. Then there are children of non-academic bent. The United States of America has been looking at its appalling delinquency figures and at some of the countries where delinquency is’ not so serious, and it is beginning to come reluctantly to the conclusion that a high school-leaving age, schools not adapted to the nonacademic type of child, and forcing the child to stay at school are major causes of delinquency, whereas if such children either get a good training, if they are not of academic bent, or go out and earn their living, they do not become delinquents. Do we want to know anything about this? It is not just a problem of one State; it is a problem of a category of young people, and I believe that this is a matter which we ought to investigate.
I turn now to science. Most of the States cannot retain their science graduate teachers. The rewards offered by private enterprise to any science graduate are so incomparably better than the rewards offered by State Education Departments that science teachers frequently disappear altogether from the State Education Departments and go into private enterprise. The result is that lots of young people who have no real grounding in science, though they have high intellectual ability, are seeking admission to science faculties in the universities. We face this problem in Papua-New Guinea in a different way, and the same problem has been faced in developing countries in a different way - that is to say, the problem of young people of high intellectual ability in all faculties who are not yet really ready for a university education. They are given another year or two years of what is called pre-university study. In some of the States there is such a paucity of science teaching that’ it would be a very good thing if able ‘ students could have a year or two years of pre-university training in science to make up for the deficiencies of science teaching in our secondary schools.
One of the disputes between the Parties in this House used to relate to Keynesian finance. Australia’s first Keynesian was Theodore, who was driven out of public life for advocating what everybody now knows was a sensible financial policy. Are we to have the same kind of dispute over Galbraithian economics? Galbraith has asserted that the rapid development of economies rests not merely on investments in machinery and physical assets but on investment in people. The higher the levels of education and technical training the more rapidly will the economy advance. Why is it that the economy of Japan can advance and the economy of Nigeria cannot? It is because Japan has a population which, even though all its resources were destroyed in the Second’ World War, can handle the economic problems because it was trained to do so. The people of Japan can produce. Nigeria does not have a trained population. We get degrees of this sort of development. We should recognise that a far better level of education than Australia has today is a very important factor in the economy and is just as important as investment in machinery is.
Then we have education in the Northern Territory, where we are running a system of T schools and A schools. We conceal from ourselves the fact that the T schools are very largely schools for Aboriginal children and the A schools are very largely schools for European children. 1 was a teacher and I was a member of the staff of a training college. I think I can recognise a.class that is going ahead purposefully and one that is not. Nobody can call Aboriginal education in the Northern Territory anything but drift. We do not have a clear vision of where we are going. When some Aboriginals do well academically, will they be accepted in jobs? When they leave school they need someone to stand in loco parentis for them.
How much do we do as parents in bridging the gap that exists after a child leaves school and before he gets a job? For the Aboriginal people there is no-one to bridge the gap between their leaving school and getting a job. Their parents are far less sophisticated than they are, and less capable of handling the problems in the white community. But one impressive fact emerges. An institution near Perth, run by
Catholic clergy - I think they are Pallottine Fathers - does precisely this job of helping the Aboriginal child who has left school to make his way in society. Beyond this, the Aboriginal people encounter in the Great Southern area of Western Australia and everywhere else people who. will not have Aboriginal girls as shop assistants or in any other job, although anybody who goes to Wellington Street in Perth at night will see that plenty of people are willing to degrade them as prostitutes. What assistance do they need after leaving school and how well can this assistance be organised? Can the Commonwealth learn anything from the Pallottine Fathers? This could he an important aspect of an inquiry into education.
To try to end our . fumbling and stumbling in so many new areas of education is an urgent need. Of course education in Australia is advancing. We have reached the point where literacy is being established all right, but many aspects of the arrangements for underprivileged people - I speak of Aboriginals in this sense as underprivileged people - aTe a travesty insofar as discharging our trust is concerned. Education is that development of the personality which is the result of an individual’s learnings. They may be formal learning in school or informal learning out of school. The personality is the sum total of our attitudes and aptitudes. This is a community in which numbers of people are not having their aptitudes trained. I leave aside the whole sector of education that deals with the humanities, which govern attitudes. We must realise that this is important. As the world moves towards increasing violence because of a deficiency in attitudes, one would certainly think that the values of civilisation that make for sound attitudes arc as vital a part of education as anything else is. Frequently attitudes will determine how the aptitudes are used. But we also need to see whether the aptitudes of our children are being trained.
Let us consider physical education, or health education if that term is preferred. I will never forget a spectacle that was to me tragic. A lot of young men were watching gymnastics being taught to girls by a woman who came from Czechoslovakia. She has built up a magnificent gymnastics organisation amongst young girls in Western Australia. Their bodies were entirely subject to their will. They had developed tremendous agility and suppleness. But the young men did not have anybody to train them and they lacked the self-respect and other characteristics that might have come out of that training. The standards of this country are pathetic by comparison with those in Scandinavia and Japan, where physical education and gymnastics are encouraged. These are aptitudes that very often cure delinquency because of their development of self-respect. But ‘ we do nothing to encourage these aptitudes. All we have is a paltry grant chucked here and there every year to the National Fitness Council. We do not see how ‘ tremendously vital this development is. In Sweden 400,000 married women belong to gymnastic organisationsand they maintain high levels of physical fitness. Surely we have here a whole field of education in which we can develop a new vision.
I do not want to labour these points. It is perfectly clear that the Government will reject the motion which seeks to have an inquiry into these aspects of education. For heaven’s sake, let honourable members opposite disabuse their minds of the thought that we are seeking credit for advocating this, or that we have moved our motion as some sort of political manoeuvre. I agree that the Government should have an inquiry. The honourable member for Denison is right. Tremendous fields of education can be found and they may cost the Government a great deal of money. But could there be a. better investment than an investment in the young people of Australia? The investment need not be confined to the young people. Some honourable members have spoke about adult education. The Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines visited Port Hedland. There the people of the Pindan tribe had organised adult education for themselves. How important it would be if all the State departments concerned with the welfare of Aboriginals decided not to wait eternally until some woman is qualified to run a house before allotting a house to these people. Instead, these authorities should engage in adult education. The women never get a house until they are trained in domestic science and in cooking. The authorities were waiting for the women to qualify to run a house. They have grades of houses that can be occupied by these people, but no-one teaches them. Now that we have a more enlightened attitude, surely there is a case for compensatory education for categories of people in the community such as Aboriginal women. They could be paid scholarships for a couple of years while they were obtaining this training.
Education has enormous ramifications. There are existing frontiers of education and I agree that the Government may find some areas of education expensive. But the Government finds many activities expensive. The only test of any government expenditure, and the only justification fox taking a farthing from the taxpayer, is whether the Government spends it better than the taxpayer would. At least in the field of education this is likely to be so. I do not want irresponsible enlargements of the Budget; but we ought to know the educational needs of the community. These, could be ascertained by a proper inquiry and the Government could then determine the priorities. We need not talk of State rights. I have nothing against the States. All I know is that, since uniform taxation, no field of social service advances at all unless the Commonwealth Government makes the decision that it will advance.
– The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) gave an interesting address. He spoke mainly about the educational needs of the Aboriginal people and he said that it was important to investigate these needs. However this may be, we do not necessarily have to set up a committee, such as the one that has been suggested, to do that. The honourable member referred to the remarks of the honourable member for Denison (Mr Gibson), but I do not think the interpretation he placed on these remarks was correct. I am quite sure that the honourable member for Denison did not fear the result of an inquiry; he thought that such an inquiry could throw more responsibility on to the Commonwealth Government. All the members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate are ex-school teachers. I am reminded of the view expressed by a Minister in the United Kingdom. He said that a former Army general did not necessarily make the best
Minister for the Army. The members of the Opposition have shown today that ex-school teachers are not necessarily the best experts on education. However, as the honourable member for Fremantle said, we do not want to score party political points in this debate.
Education is a very serious matter. I have gained the impression that the Opposition’s case is an expression of no confidence in the State education system and in the work the States are doing in this field. For my part, I believe that the States have done an excellent job in this difficult field. We know that in this country, under the guidance of a government that has developed it to a very considerable extent, we are getting all the things we are looking for in fields like immigration and development and a higher percentage of young people are going on to higher education. This greater number of students is putting a heavy strain on our economy.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spent some time discussing pre-school and kindergarten training although this matter was not mentioned in his motion. I agree that it was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition in another place when a similar motion was proposed. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned also the number of Australian teachers who are going to Canada, but it must be appreciated that in the circumstances existing today many young people from all walks of life - not only school teachers - are travelling overseas. The fact that school teachers are going to Canada does not mean that they are the only ones .who are moving around in the various countries; young people in various occupations have the opportunity to travel abroad.
Comment has been made during this debate concerning the policy of continuing progress. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was inclined to say that there was not continuing progress, but the record of the Government discloses increasing expenditure on education in recent years. In view of this, surely there could be no question at all that the Government has a policy of continuing progress. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition claims that it is impossible to detect it, I suggest that he again examine the Government’s record. This policy of continuing progress is so obvious and easily detectable that I cannot understand how anyone could miss it.
The Minister mentioned the Martin Committee, all the recommendations of which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition claims should be adopted. Putting the Minister’s comments on this aspect in my own words, the Martin Committee’s recommendations have been implemented wherever it has been reasonably practicable to do so. This is a matter of combined effort by the Commonwealth and States. As the Minister said, the Government’s policy has been an improvement on some of the Martin Committee’s recommendations. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) suggested that the State school, system was the best, and he quoted some instances to support his claim. I believe that the State school system has done a grand job; at the same time, 1 also acknowledge the excellent job that has been done by the independent schools. The combined efforts of the teachers in both categories of schools deserve our commendation. The honourable member mentioned also the cost of the Fill aircraft, and compared it with the cost of education. In reply, the honourable member for Denison (Mr Gibson) said: Surely these are two entirely different subjects.’ The defence of this country is an essential part of Government policy. Surely we want the best equipment for our servicemen, in the light of present circumstances, to enable the most effective defence of this country. I also believe that the purchase of the Fill aircraft has no relationship to the cost of education. The honourable member for Wills also asked what is known of the teaching standards in the non-State schools. We know that the results achieved by them are sufficient to justify and guarantee their standards of teaching. That applies at least to the non-State schools that I know. The honourable member for Denison said that the Opposition, as usual, wants to have two bob each way.
To emphasise what the honourable member for Denison has said, I point out that Commonwealth expenditure in this field is now $194m, which is approaching $200m, and a considerable increase from 1961-62, when $54m was allocated. This is an example of how the Government is proceeding with the programme of developing education and how it is assisting the States. The Commonwealth’s record in this regard is splendid; this is one field in which it can be justifiably proud. The Government’s policy on education stands out when compared with the policy of the Opposition, which claims the credit for everything because it does not have to bear the responsibility of finding the money to implement its proposals. Of course, this is a common practice with the Opposition, and I realise that this is not the only Opposition that does it. Oppositions recommend all sorts of things. We have seen this done many times, and it is again being done in the matter that the House is now debating.
– We did set up the Commonwealth Office of Education.
– I did not say the Labor Government did nothing, but we have done so much that there is no comparison. I should like to mention all the efforts that the Government has made, but they are so numerous that 1 could not possibly fit them into the time available to me during this debate. Suffice it to say that in 1967 about 50.000 students held Commonwealth awards at all levels, from higher secondary school to post-doctoral research. The new awards available in 1967 wereno fewer than 22,000. The Commonwealth scholarship schemes “cover post-graduate awards, university scholarships, advanced education scholarships, and secondary and technical scholar- ships. Up to and including 1967 the Commonwealth has’,- through these schemes, assisted about 132,000 students. It will not necessarily stop at this, for this is a continuing programme and the Commonwealth has accepted responsibility in the education field to help the States. The Commonwealth realises that it has such a responsibility, but 1 ask the Opposition whether it wants to take all the education responsibilities from the States and concentrate them in the Federal Government.
– No more than health, transport or anything else.
– If the Opposition wants this, an inquiry is not necessary. That is the. place where it could make this advocacy. IfI remember rightly, the honourable member for Wills said that we do not know where we are going. He was speaking for the Opposition. We do know where we are going - along the right road in a very creditable way.
I shall now mention some other aspects of the programme that the Government has undertaken so successfully. For example, it took a most significant step in 1965 by offering direct support for research projects of particular merit, through grants recommended by the Australian Research Grants Committee. The. Commonwealth provided almost$2m for this purpose in 1966 and has allocated a further $3. 4m this year. During the 1967-69 triennium the Commonwealth will support a total programme recommended by the Committee, by allocating at least S9m. So it goes on. Referring now to the Martin Committee report, and coming back to teacher training, a tremendous amount of effort has been made in regard to. teachers’ colleges. The difficulty here is the amount of money that has recently been applied to the States’ many teacher training colleges.
Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the motion has expired. The honourable member for Maranoa will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day under General Business for the next day of sitting.
Bill presented by Mr McMahon, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr Speaker, the major part of the Bill before the House comprises amended special provisions for deductions in respect of capital expenditure that mining enterprises can make in arriving at their taxable income. The new provisions will apply to mining ventures other than petroleum, for which separate provision is made in the income tax law. From the inception of Commonwealth income taxation, special provision has been made for such deductions. The provisions were last subject to major review following the Report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, 1950-54. Some time ago several companies put to the Government the view that the existing provisions did not adequately recognise some large capital expenditures necessarily incurred in major new ventures undertaken by mining enterprises. They also informed the Government that legal advice obtained by the companies questioned the interpretation of some of these provision by the Commissioner of Taxation.
On examination, the Government came to the view that it would not be desirable to attempt further piecemeal amendment of existing provisions which have been added to and amended many times. Further, the provisions are expressed in general terms; for the most part they do not state with any precision which capital expenditures are within their scope and which are not. It was therefore decided to undertake a thorough review of the relevant provisions of the law. The Bill before the House reflects the results of that review. It aims to clarify and rationalise the law in the light of the changed circumstances of present day large scale mining developments. Rather than leave the treatment of particular kinds of expenditure to be determined according to whether, on the facts of particular situations, they fall within provisions expressed in a general way, the Bill describes the major classes of expenditure for which special deductions may or may not be made.
In reaching its decisions the Government has had to strike a balance between some conflicting considerations. On the one hand, income tax paid by mining companies helps to finance Commonwealth expenditure and is thereby a means through which the exploitation of resources yields benefits to the community generally, as well as to the companies engaged in the industry. Too favourable taxation treatment of the industry may well reduce the capacity to provide other benefits. On the other hand, it has long been accepted that the special circumstances of the mining industry, including the wasting nature of ore deposits and the unusually need often faced by mining companies to provide transport and community facilities, should be appropriately recognised through special provisions in the in the taxation law. The need for this recognition is of particular importance in the case of the Australian economy because of the growing contribution the mining industry is making to export earnings and to the development of remote areas of the country.
The Government also recognises that the . existing provisions applying to the general run of mining enterprises differ in many respects from those applying to petroleum prospecting and mining, provisions which were extensively revised in 1963. The provisions contained in this Bill are based on a broadly similar approach to that adopted in respect of petroleum operations. I now state in general terms the main changes between the existing provisions and those proposed in the Bill. An explanatory memorandum will be circulated to honourable members explaining the provisions of the Bill in detail.
The location of some facilities on which mining enterprises incur capital expenditure may, under the existing provisions, play an important part in determining whether special deductions for the expenditure are or are not allowable. The result is that expenditures of the same kind may be treated differently for taxation purposes according to whether the facilities are in the mining area or somewhere else. The Government has come to the view that it is no longer generally appropriate for tests of this kind to apply for the purpose of deciding whether or not capital expenditure on these facilities is deductible. We have therefore decided that the existing provisions should be re-written so that the location of the facilities is clearly not a decisive factor. Capital expenditure deductible will be that incurred by a taxpayer in carrying on mining operations to extract minerals from the ground and on certain facilities necessary for and directly related to those operations. As under the present law, the deductions will be available at the option of the mine owner, over the life of the mine, or in the year in which the expenditure is incurred, or in the year in which income is appropriated for that expenditure.
Capital expenditure on some processing facilities will be deductible in the same way. Plant for mechanical sizing or cleaning of ore, or the concentration of ore, which can be regarded as closely related to extractive mining operations, will be covered by the special mining provisions. Plant for more elaborate processes such as pelletising, sintering and calcining ores, or the production of alumina, will be subject to the general provisions of the law. These allow deductions for depreciation of plant over its effective life and; where me plant is for income tax purposes manufacturing plant, also entitle taxpayers to the investment allowance under which 20% of the cost of the plant is allowed as a deduction in the year in which the plant is installed ready for use. Consequently taxpayers are entitled to deductions of 120% of capital expenditure on such plant over its effective life.
As to vehicles used for transporting ores, those which are used wholly in the extractive operations will continue to come within the amended mining provisions. In respect of those used to transport ore and concentrates away from a mine site or concentration plant, the Government has decided that they should be treated for taxation purposes on the same footing as similar vehicles used for the transport of other goods and be subject to depreciation allowance over their effective lives. In contrast to the provisions applying to petroleum, existing provisions for general mining do not extend to capital expenditure incurred in acquiring a prospecting or mining right. There seems no reason to discriminate in this manner between petroleum and other minerals, and the Government has therefore decided to incorporate provisions in respect of mining rights, broadly similar to those already applying in respect of petroleum.
I come now to railway lines, roads and pipelines used for transporting ores and concentrates, on which large amounts have been spent by the new mining ventures undertaken in remote areas in recent years. Here again, the general way in which the existing mining provisions are expressed leaves it unclear whether, in differing situations, expenditures on these facilities are or are not deductible under those provisions. If not so deductible, such of the facilities as constitute plant for taxation purposes are subject to normal depreciation over the lives of the assets, which in most instances would be a fairly lengthy period, while expenditure on construction of earthworks and embankments is not deductible at all.
The Government has decided that special provision should be made for the deductibility of capital expenditures incurred by mining enterprises on facilities of this kind. However, their inclusion under the provisions to which I have been referring up to this point would’ not, in the Government’s view, be appropriate in all circumstances. Those provisions relate to expenditures in connection with mining operations carried on by the taxpayer. Instances may arise in the future of facilities of this nature being provided specifically to handle the business of more than one taxpayer. It is clearly desirable that any such facilities should receive the same taxation treatment as those for a single mining project, but quite inconsistent that the provisions I have already referred to should apply to expenditure intended to a substantial degree for purposes other than the taxpayer’s own operations.
The Government has therefore decided to insert a new provision specifically to provide for deductibility, over a period of 10 years, of capital expenditure on railways, roads, pipelines and other facilities used primarily and principally for transporting ores and concentrates. The cost of earthworks, bridges, tunnels and cuttings will be within the scope of this provision. Moreover, the provision includes expenditure on facilities not owned by the taxpayer, for example, facilities constructed on leasehold land and in respect of which the taxpayer does not have ‘tenant rights’ as described in the Act. This will meet the situation where State governments have granted leases for the construction of railways and ownership of the improvements will ultimately rest in the State.
Some mining ventures have incurred or are incurring substantial expenditures on the construction or improvement of port facilities. A number of the companies requested the Government to allow full deductibility of these capital expenditures. The Government has, however, decided that, in respect of expenditure on port facilities, mining enterprises should be treated on the same basis for taxation purposes as the many other enterprises that undertake the construction or improvement of port facilities or share their cost with the State or local authorities concerned. It should be emphasised that this decision does not mean a denial of deductibility in respect of all capital expenditures on port facilities. It means simply that in this respect mining companies will be in the same position as other taxpayers. Broadly speaking, they can deduct over the effective .life of each item capital expenditure on handling equipment, wharves, jetties and similar items of plant. They cannot deduct expenditure on construction, road works or initial dredging or deepening of seaways and harbours. The cost of subsequent regular dredging to maintain a given depth of water is, of course, a revenue expenditure deductible under the general provisions of the law. The Government has had in mind not only consistency of treatment as between different industries in respect of capital expenditure on ports. Many classes of taxpayers undertake expenditures on improvements that are not deductible in arriving at assessable income, for example, buildings, loading and storage areas at factories, private roadways leading into industrial complexes, and parking areas for customers. I point out that the new provisions will not affect any existing rights a mining company has to deduct the cost of port facilities as improvements on leasehold land. Such rights may exist as to facilities placed on land the subject of a lease granted before the general lease provisions of the income tax law were terminated in October 1964. The principles of the existing provisions relating to the deduction of capital expenditure on housing and welfare and expenditure on prospecting are contained, without change, in the Bill.
In the Bill it is proposed also to discontinue the existing provisions of the income tax law relating to mining leases, but not so as to affect an entitlement to a deduction which now exists in connection with a past transaction. The basis of discontinuance of the mining lease provisions corresponds with that adopted when the general lease provisions ceased to apply in 1964. The mining lease provisions are inconsistent with the approach adopted in the new mining provisions and their retention could result in use being made of them to obtain deductions the government has decided should not be available in future.
As I mentioned earlier, the interpretation by the Commissioner of Taxation of some of the existing provisions has been questioned by a number of taxpayers. In mid- 1967 the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd appealed to the High Court against certain decisions by the Commissioner. Mr Justice Kitto, in a judgment issued in March of this year, upheld some of the contentions by the company and aspects of his judgment are at present the subject of an appeal by the Commissioner to the Full Bench of the High Court.
Meanwhile, the Government was proceeding to review the nature of the provisions that should apply in respect of future expenditures. The Government was aware throughout its consideration of these amendments that it was dealing with an” area in which the interpretation of the existing law was open to doubt. However, that was no reason to defer consideration of the provisions that should apply in the future. Indeed the Government has been concerned to remove uncertainties on the part of mining enterprises as to their tax position in respect of future capital expenditures. The legislation now before the House does nothing to take away any . existing rights to deductibility of past capital expenditure by mining enterprises. The application of existing provisions to particular past expenditures is a matter for the normal processes laid down in the law, which this Bill does nothing to interfere with.
The Bill will give taxpayers the benefit of the amended provisions as from the beginning of this financial year. In respect of the new provision which allows deductibility of expenditure on transport facilities, the Bill goes further than this. The new provision is to have retroactive effect back to 1st July 1961, in that those companies which would benefit from so doing can claim under the new provision in respect of past expenditures. The Government’s intention is that all companies that have undertaken expenditure on major facilities of this’ kind in recent times should be placed, as nearly as possible, on the same footing as those about to undertake construction. At the same time, the Bill does not take away any rights to deductions under existing provisions in respect of expenditure incurred, or contracted to be incurred, at today’s date.
I turn now to a provision of the income tax law which relates to deductions from assessable income by shareholders in mining companies, rather than by the companies themselves. This provision allows shareholders a deduction from assessable income of one-third of the amount paid as calls on shares in a company whose principal business is afforestation, or mining or prospecting for a number of minerals, not including natural gas or coal. Following representations to the Government that natural gas should be included within the scope of the provision, the Government decided that this concession also should be the subject of general review.
An effect of the provision is that new share issues by mining and prospecting companies usually provide for minimal sums to be paid on application and allotment, so that the bulk of funds is raised as calls. In this manner, shareholders obtain a deduction from assessable income of onethird of virtually the whole of the subscribed capital. This concession does not affect the entitlement of the companies to deductions from their assessable income of expenditure financed from such calls. In this important respect, the concession differs from that under which shareholders are allowed deductions for the full amount paid on shares in mining companies, provided the companies lodge appropriate declarations, the effect of which is that the companies forgo equivalent deductions which they could otherwise make from their own assessable incomes. These latter concessions were enacted only in 1958 and 1962. In addition, the deductions available to mining companies themselves have been extensively liberalised since the one-third concession to shareholders in mining companies was adopted in 1941.
The Government has therefore decided that the one-third concession should henceforth apply only to calls for expenditure on prospecting and exploration by companies whose principal business is mining or prospecting, with calls to finance actual mining operations excluded. We take the view that, once mining companies in general have advanced a project past the prospecting and exploration stage, they are in a position to borrow funds to finance development and do not need a concession under which Commonwealth revenue bears part of the cost of funds provided by raising equity capital. The concession, as amended, will in future apply to all minerals extracted by mining operations, and this will have the effect of including natural gas and coal within its scope. The existing concession will continue unchanged in respect of calls by afforestation companies. It will also apply to calls by mining companies in respect of shares, other than redeemable shares, issued up to today, or issued in future if the terms of issue have already been announced or are in pursuance of an agreement already entered into.
It emerged in the course of the review that use of the present concession had been made by companies issuing redeemable shares, many of them redeemable over a relatively short period. This meant that shareholders received deductions for onethird of what was virtually a short term loan and not a contribution to the company’s permanent capital. This seems to the Government an abuse of the provisions and we have therefore decided that deductions in respect of calls made on redeemable shares after today should not be allowed.
Lastly, the existing exemption from income earned from uranium mining and treatment expires on 30th June next. The exemption was first introduced in 1952, in a somewhat more restricted form than at present.
With the present widespread expectation that uranium prices will rise under the pressure of overseas demand for use in nuclear power stations, the outlook for a resumption of uranium mining isbright. We have also taken into account the likelihood that uranium will be in direct competition with coal and petroleum as a fuel for electricity generation in Australia; continued exemption of income derived from uranium would be seen as discriminatory by producers of coal and petroleum. We have therefore decided that the existing exemption for uranium should not be renewed when the present provision expires and that taxation of income derived from uranium should be on the same footing as for mining income generally.
However, by way of transitional provision, deductions from the assessable income of future years will be allowed for expenditure incurred in the exemption years on exploration and prospecting for uranium. Deductions will also be allowed for capital expenditure on development of the mining property, on mining plant, and on housing and welfare to the extent that this expenditure has not been recouped from net income which was exempt from tax. In addition, the Bill provides for the extension to uranium of the concession which allows mining companies to pass on to their shareholders the benefit of deductibilityand therefore facilitates the raising of equity capital at the stage when the company’s prospects of earning assessable income are uncertain.
I am not able to give the House an estimate of the net effect on revenue of the provisions in the Bill. As I- have indicated, the interpretation of the existing provisions relating to the deductibility of capital expenditure by mining companies is itself under review by the High Court. The effect also depends on the nature, as well as the amount, of future capital expenditure by mining companies. Many of the provisions will have the effect of deferring or advancing the year in which liability for tax arises, so that even in the absence of all uncertainties no single figure of the ultimate annual effect on revenue could be given.I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– I ask that consideration be given to a question that I have raised previously, whether the memorandums which accompany these Bills can suitably be incorporated in Hansard. I am not pressing the point, but I submit that it ought to be considered as a matter of future practice. We receive approximately two of these memorandums each year and they seem to me to have been prepared well in advance. I think there is some merit in having them incorporated in Hansard.
– To which memorandum is the honourable member referring?
– I am referring to the explanatory memorandum which accompanies the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1968. I am not pressing the point, but I ask that consideration be given to incorporating these memorandums in Hansard.
– I shall have a look at the matter raised bythe honourable member.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1968.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1968.
Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1968.
Officers’ Rights Declaration Bill 1968.
Science and Industry Research Bill 1968.
Native Members of the Forces Benefits Bill 1968.
Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Bill 1968.
Debate resumed from1 May (vide page 994), on motion by Mr Fair bairn:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The future of Australia is linked with the availability of an adequate water supply. Australia’s future might well be restricted by the lack of water in quantity to meet the needs of the rapid growth of this nation. Water free from impurities is needed for domistic use, whilst rural and secondary industries require water free from excessive chemical and mineral properties. It is ironical that the River Murray water should be affected by increasing salinity. Salt is a killer of crops and this measure seeks, in a small way at least, to deal with the question.
The purpose of the Bill is to make a grant of $3.6m to the State of Victoria to reduce the salinity in a section of the River Murray. It shows the earnest intention of the Government to deal with a major problem which certainly affects both New South Wales and Victoria. The whole question is linked with New South Wales, Victoria and the River Murray itself. As this grant indicates, this measure is for the express purpose of dealing with only one area of a major question. I believe that from time to time further consideration must be given to the overall question of the importance of the River Murray. Will this great Australian stream merely be a drain to take away water which is unfit for gardens and orchards or will it continue to make a contribution to the development of a most important part of Australia?
The financial assistance to be provided is a matching grant to those contributed by Victoria. The works proposed to be carried out are set out in a schedule to the Bill. They include work on Lake Hawthorn at a cost of $1.6m, and work on Barr Creek at a cost of $2, making the Commonwealth contribution $3. 6m. Safeguards are being provided. Victoria shall furnish information to the Federal Government on these aspects of the work. The Opposition’ supports the measure. It accepts the legislation as a commencement in dealing with a serious problem of threatening proportions. Honourable members would know that over recent times, particularly since the drought, statements have been in this place, and the Press has published a considerable number of articles dealing with the problems of salinity in the River Murray and its serious effect upon the Murray Valley and upon those people who depend upon this river and its waters for the development of their industries.
I have a publication from the 2nd Australasian Conference on Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics which deals with the salinity of surface waters in Victoria. The conference was held in November 1965. It is a most valuable publication and I commend it to all honourable members. On page 9 it refers to the description of water solids in parts per million. It sets out that slightly saline water is 1,000 to 3,000 parts per million; moderately saline water is 3,000 to 10,000 parts per million; very saline water is 10,000 to 35,000 parts per million, and brine is more than 35,000 parts per million, which is approximately the salinity of seawater. The publication deals in a most interesting way with the conditions in Victoria and also refers to conditions overseas, particularly in the United States of America. It states:
Water containing as much as 3,000 ppm has generally been considered by the US Geological Service as suitable for irrigation depending on other factors relating to the soil and to crop growth.
In Victoria, however, 2,000 ppm is often regarded as the upper limit for water for irrigation, although in many areas of poor drainage and high evaporation, a lower limit is desirable. In a few cases, water of 3,000 ppm is used to irrigate pastures and vegetables, but this is quite exceptional and success appears to depend on very good drainage and skill in application.
It is regrettable that this great river system with its excellent land should, in a sense, be plagued with a problem of this kind. It is a problem which to some extent is man made, because of the’ use that has been made of our soils and because of the devastation of our trees. There is good reason why we, who to some extent have been responsible for this condition, should try to restore the river and play our part in giving justice to those settlers along the river who need this water for orchards, for berry production, and for the production of vegetables and other commodities. The table headed ‘Water Resources of South Western Victoria’ in the booklet entitled The Salinity of Surface Waters in Victoria, Australia*, produced by R. G. Webster, contains interesting facts relating to salinity. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the table in Hansard.
I suggest to the House that more must be done. The proposal contained in the Bill has laudable objectives. It seeks to deal with a problem which affects in particular an area of Victoria. It deals with the overall problem, because the greater the quantity of salt that can be kept out of the river quite obviously the better the river must be. I have looked through some statements made by the Minister for National Development and I have noted that in his statement of December last he said that two projects that were being considered at that time would when completed prevent 54,000 tons of salt from entering the River Murray each year. He said that those projects would be completed by this summer. I do not know whether that progress is being made.
– Yes. They wm be completed by August.
– I thank the Minister for his helpful comment. It is good to know that the work is well advanced. But whilst this work is being done and whilst action of this character is being taken, I believe that every member of the Parliament would like to think that not only will this work go on apace but also that action will be taken to remove the problems created by salt in water that is used for irrigation. In the schedule to the Bill it is made clear that there is to be constructed at Lake Hawthorne near Mildura a pumping station with a capacity to pump water at the rate of approximately 20 cubic feet per second. This will have the effect of taking saline waters away from the river and dispatching them to an area where the water can evaporate, leaving the salt free of the river system. The schedule refers also to the construction near Kerang of two diversion weirs and the construction at Barr Creek near. Kerang of a pumping station with a capacity to pump water at the rate of approximately 60 cubic feet per second.
I should like to think that in dealing with a highly technical matter like this the Minister has had the best possible advice and help. I know that many organisations have been deeply interested in this topic. The growers have established their own salinity committees. Considerable thought has been given to the problem by experts and people who are dedicated to the building of this country in this way. But I cannot help thinking that in recent times we have had a reversal of policy in respect of the Chowilla project. A firm decision to build a massive water supply has apparently been revised. That water would have been available to flush out the Murray. If the Chowilla scheme has been abandoned it would appear that additional water supplies elsewhere will be required. There is the other disturbing consideration that further work on the upper Snowy will not be continued. All these matters are of importance and I should think that the Minister would give consideration to them.
A first requirement for the Murray River is an additional water supply. More and more water is required in the Murray to deal with the problem of salinity. In this time of drought when water is in lower supply than it has been for some time, the problem of salinity is grave; it is acute; it is a threat. Salinity certainly already is causing havoc in some areas. I have no doubt that honourable members who represent these areas will speak with some authority on the regions which have been vitally affected. An exhaustive inquiry into all aspects of salinity is required: This should not be left to chance, because salt has destroyed farms and orchards and is an immediate threat to the economy of many people in the area. Accordingly, whilst this measure makes a contribution to overcoming the problem of salinity, I believe that wider and more searching consideration should be given to the matter. As we have often said on this side of the House, it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government to accept a more purposeful responsibility in relation to our national water supply. The Commonwealth is identified with water supply. It is concerned with the effect of river erosion. It is concerned with flood. mitigation. It has provided funds for the Nogoa Dam and for the Ord River scheme. But all this work ought to be co-ordinated in a national plan and policy. Again I cannot help but refer with some sadness and regret to the fact that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is not being retained and that the men who have played a purposeful and excellent role in the development of this country are not being kept on to undertake the great jobs of water conservation.
On previous occasions the Minister has referred to an alternative water supply to the Chowilla Dam and has mentioned the Hume Weir. All these matters are very important and pressing, but I should like to think that the Minister and the Government will accept responsibility in these matters and will not leave them to the States but will go forward with a complete investigation to provide additional water supplies. 1 hope they will look into the propositions that have been advanced. A gentleman named Mr Pels has suggested the construction of some channels along the river bank. I am not particularly attracted to his proposals. But positive proposals-‘ have been advanced to provide, if I may use a general term, pure water which is acceptable for orchards and, farms, indeed for all our rural pursuits. If any of these propositions are acceptable, then I believe that the Minister is duty bound to consider them. The Minister should give attention to the construction of channels and the use of pipes to prevent water from running over the land, leaching it, and bringing the salt through to the surface to be washed into the Murray River every time it rains. It is necessary also for us to concern ourselves with wider questions affecting the development of the area - for example, the scientific and more complete use of water so that it can be used to the best possible advantage. Are we now doing the best we can with the water that is available to us? Are we adopting the most efficient methods to deal with the problem of producing crops in naturally saltyland? What has been done in Israel might well be considered appropriate in Australia. What is being done in the United States of America might be done with good effect in Australia.
The matter of soil usage and soil conservation also calls for immediate consideration. All these matters are of great importance. By means of this legislation we are endeavouring to reduce salinity in the water at a particular place. But this does not deal with the overall problem of the River Murray and the salinity of the water in it. Much more needs to be done. We should undertake a comprehensive study of water use and soil conservation. Expert opinion, formed after an investigation of settled countries overseas in which the salt content of water was high indicates that much more can be done in Australia. It is being suggested that people in the areas concerned might grow crops different from those which they have grown in the past. It is suggested that lucerne, barley and other crops might be suitable for growing in these areas. But honourable members will appreciate that a farmer cannot change his system of cropping overnight. He cannot destroy his trees, for instance, for the sake of growing new crops. Consequently it is necessary first to overcome the problems posed by the composition of the water itself. Basically this is a national question. It is a national river that is involved. This river has a substantial effect on the prosperity of three States, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It is up to the Commonwealth Government to accept a greater degree of national responsibility than it has ever done before. It. must do even more than it has been doing through the River Murray Commission. . .
It is good to know that as a result of works carried out by the Snowy Mountains Authority, this great undertaking that has been hailed throughout the world, additional water is being added to the Murray River. But more and more must be done, according to the report of the River Murray Commission for 1966-67. That report gave a table indicating the diversion of water from the Snowy River to the Murray River. At the end of the table the following figures were given:
Total for the year - 324,700 acre feet. Diverted from Tooma River- 189,700 acre feet. Net increase to the River Murray - 135,000 acre feet.
This is a very considerable contribution resulting from the works carried out by the Snowy Mountains Authority. I fondly hope that the imagination, the skill and the drive that were so much in evidence in the Snowy Mountains projects will not now disappear, and that governments of the future will do more in this direction.
The great problem, as I said at the outset, is to ensure the conservation of water that is available to us. There is everywhere a demand for more water. In Victoria 1 notice that there is a $180m plan to harness three rivers. There was a headline to this effect in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 20th September last. An editorial titled The Thirsty States’ appeared in the ‘Age’ on 17th August 1967. The ‘Canberra Times’ carried a tragic story, ‘The Death of a Giant’, on 28th March this year.
I urge the Minister to look at this problem comprehensively. It is not . good enough to consider salinity, for instance, as an individual question. We must consider the whole problem of water supply and water requirements, not for just one area but for the whole of this great river system. I again ask the Minister to conduct the most exacting examination of all proposals affecting the salinity of the Murray River and of land use in the area. We of the Opposition believe in a national conservation programme. We believe that more and more water is going to be needed urgently in Australia for the growth and development of our nation. A comprehensive investigation is long overdue. Research should be conducted with greater intensity than it has been conducted in the past. A scientific study of land and water use should be carried out. This should be one of the cardinal aims of the Department of National Development. We trust that the steps that will be taken as a result of this legislation will be beneficial. We hope they will have the effect that the Minister sincerely and earnestly believes they will. But we do not know what lies ahead. The southern parts of Australia have suffered from one of the most devastating droughts in the history of this country. Who knows that in the future more severe droughts, accompanied by greater losses, will not occur? I put it to the Minister and the Government that the National Water Resources Development Programme, under which this Bill comes before the Parliament, is inadequate to meet the needs of the nation with its outstanding development possibilities, with its great potential for agricultural, mineral, pastoral and other developments. More water is needed, and the proposal to provide $50m over 5 years, as announced in November 1966, is inadequate.
I can only hope that practical steps will be taken to put more water into the Murray River and that other steps will be taken to solve the main problem permanently. We may then follow a continuing policy of development. We may be able to reclaim land which is at present unproductive, perhaps because of the mistakes that we ourselves have made by destruction of timber and by faulty land use which has brought salts to the surface to be washed into our rivers. I hope we can ensure that these mistakes are not repeated and that the River Murray will play the dominant role that it should play in the development of one of the richest areas of our country.
– I want to congratulate the Government, and particularly the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) on the promptitude with which they have acted to provide money under the proposal to make available $50m over 5 years. A good deal of criticism has been levelled at the Government for not having acted promptly, but it has had to wait for propositions to be put forward by the States and it has had to consider them in the light of the best evidence available. It has taken only 18 months to do this in the case now before us, and this, I think, represents the beginning of a good performance.
The Bill authorises the grant of $3.6m to Victoria for the purpose of alleviating difficulties caused by salinity in the Murray River. It covers a project at Bar Creek near Kerang and two others in the Mildura area. The electorate of my colleague and friend the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) covers both these areas and he will be speaking in greater detail about this matter.
The problem of salinity has come into focus in recent months to a very much greater extent because of the drought. The middle and lower reaches of the Murray River flow through an area which, in comparatively recent times in history, was submerged by the sea. In large areas of this land there are big limestone deposits with a high salt content. Therefore, in Victoria, as irrigation expanded and more of these areas were utilised for irrigation, the leaching of the soil has added and added to the salt problem. This problem does exist also in my own electorate of Riverina. It does not exist to the same extent but in the Tullakool area and the important areas of the Wakool River, where a good deal of pumping is done, it has become a very real problem in recent months. I hope that the New South Wales Government will look into this matter and that, if it cannot do anything’ from its own resources some proposal will be put forward for consideration by the Commonwealth.
One important thing done about the problem of salinity has been the action of the River Murray Commission which has appointed a firm of overseas consultants of worldwide reputation. The firm comprises people who have been able to accrue far greater experience and knowledge on this subject than anybody in Australia might have been able to do. I believe it has been wise to appoint an overseas firm to do this work because this will remove any tinge of State jealousy or bias from any decisions or recommendations made.
The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) made some reference to the proposed Chowilla Dam. This project, which is at the lower reaches of the River Murray, would be affected by salinity. Any dam with a vast surface area and a shallow depth has far greater sal’inity and evaporation problems than has a dam with a small surface area and a great depth. This is an elementary fact. But if a 5 million acre feet dam came into existence at Chowilla a great portion of the land which would be submerged has, today, a large expanse of underground water of high salt content and the water contained in the dam would be particularly subject to its effect. I would like to see, as all fair-minded people would, the people of South Australia continue to get their fair share - and perhaps an added share, if this is possible - of good quality water from the River Murray. But from all the evidence I have been able to obtain from engineers and other people I think the people of South Australia would be far better served by the building of more storages along the upper Murray. Perhaps they could be supplied by use of a diversion dam.
The problem of salinity in the River Murray is added to considerably in places where salinity rises to a great degree because the salt forms slugs which are not diluted below a certain rate of flow. Furthermore, slugs tend to sink to the bottom of the river and are slow moving. Water is necessary for dilution purposes in order that the water given to South Australia will continue to be of reasonable quality for irrigation and other purposes. Because of this, at the present time, there is a considerable wastage of water. Much of the water required for this dilution simply runs to waste in the sea.
Another discovery has been made about salinity since attention was drawn during the recent drought to the subject of the qual’ity of water. Overhead spraying with water with a salt content of over SOO parts per million is having a damaging effect on citrus, vines and stone fruits, particularly on citrus and vines. There has to be a change from overhead spraying to under foliage spraying or to furrow irrigation. This is an expensive operation in the industry, particularly for those engaged in it along the River Murray in South Australia where both citrus and dried fruit growers are having economic difficulty. It is true that water with a salt content of well over 1,000 parts per million can be utilised for pastures and for certain irrigation crops but it cannot be continually used on trees, and particularly with overhead systems.
I share the view of the honourable member for Macquarie, as I am sure all thinking people do, that water is one of the most vital commodities in Australia. If we are to increase our population to 30 million, as we hope to do and must do if we are to play our part in world affairs, water will become a problem not only for irrigation but also for domestic and industrial purposes. We hear of people reading and quoting from certain parts of text books when criticising irrigation projects. But I would like to remind them that in the Mumimbidgee Irrigation Area In my own electorate there are now upwards of 60,000 people. This would be fairly low carrying pastoral country if it were not for the water that is available to it It would be no exaggeration to say that there would not be 5,000 people in this area if it were not for irrigation. I would also remind some of the people who live in the cities that for some time this particular area has been consistently supplying to Sydney its food requirements for 2 days each week. This is what comes out of the Mumimbidgee Irrigation Area. I say, without wishing to be unjust, that people who criticise the economic benefits of irrigation storage dams often use rather obscure sources to support their claim that they should not be built. They should be made fully aware of the indirect benefits that come to us personally.
I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House to discuss this legislation. This is a simple straightforward matter. The legislation is urgently needed because salinity in streams is most damaging. This is particularly applicable to the middle and lower reaches of the River Murray which has a big flow and passes through saline lands. I commend the Government on the provision of this money in this wise and helpful way.
– The national water resources development programme was announced by the late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, in his policy speech in November 1966. This is stated in the second reading speech on the Queensland Grant (Maraboon Dam) Bill by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) from which I will now quote:
Under the programme the Government proposes to make available about $50m over 5 years for selected water conservation projects in the States, over and above the States’ own rural water conservation programmes.
Let me add to that phrase ‘over and above’ that quite apart from these schemes the Commonwealth Government has committed and will continue to commit large sums of money to water conservation. In most speeches I have made in this House over the Vast 10 or 12 years about the development of rural areas I have said at the very outset that we need to have some priorities in Australia. I have no hesitation in saying that the No. 1 priority in this country is defence. 1 have often said, and I say it again because it is so important, that defence is our No. 1 priority. We have good houses, good living conditions, congenial surroundings, motor cars, and good crops, but if we cannot protect them from an invader all is lost. We hear a lot of talk about war. The alternative to war has. often been to fall at the feet of an invader, slaves of a foreign power. However, I am just as adamant that water conservation is second in the list of priorities. I am tremendously happy to note that in the past 12 months about 60% more members of this House have spoken on water conservation than addressed themselves to it in the previous 12 months. This has been brought about . by quite natural occurrences. We have had droughts in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. When drought comes it is a ghastly, stark thing to face, and when it hits the cities/ as Melbourne has been hit - and great restrictions have been applied in that city - we hear, even members from the metropolitan areas stating how necessary it is that we have greater water conservation in Australia, which is regarded as the driest continent on earth.
The Government, through the Minister for National Development, invited the States to select- projects and make application for non-repayable grants from the $50m that was announced by the former Prime Minister and is being spoken of here this afternoon. We have heard the speeches by members from Queensland regarding the Maraboon Dam which is to be built in that State and for which a grant of up to $20m will be made. Another of these projects is the one we are discussing more specifically now,. which is designed to fight the salinity in the Murray River. For this $2m is to be spent near Mildura, and $1,600,000 near Kerang and at Barr Creek. These two projects are tremendously important, and I am naturally very keen to see them built as I represent a very long, winding stage pf the Murray River from a spot above Koondrook right to the South Australian border.
– Only to midstream.
– The Minister has said: ‘Only to midstream’, but this is not correct, lt is completely wrong. The fact is that I do not represent any part of the stream at all; the whole stream is in New South Wales. But I do represent the people who live on the Victorian bank of the stream. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) said only this week: ‘1 am often amused that the honourable member for Mallee represents sheep and cattle more than people’. But I assure him that I represent some of the finest people in the Commonwealth, who can raise produce that is the lifeblood of our economy. This is what must be considered. If the honourable member can stretch it far enough to say that I represent sheep and cattle, then I become very proud indeed, because I believe that the. primary industries - sheep and cattle are the basis of the major portion -of the primary industriesare vital to our present stability and to our future progress.
I made a speech about salinity in the House in a Grievance Debate and with great courtesy the Minister for , National Development replied and said:
It was decided to appoint an Australian engineering firm which has had considerable experience in water conservation. This is the firm of Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey.
He said also:
To support. Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey we selected the English firm of Hunting Technical Services Ltd. This firm has operated extensively in West Pakistan in the Indus Basin, where it has faced considerable problems in salinity.
This answers the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), who asked: ‘what else will be done or must be done?’ The grant has been made now because tha Minister and the Government realised that these two firms of consulting engineers would take some time to bring forward their findings and, as the Minister said in his second reading speech, since this matter was. very urgent it was decided that $3,600,000 would be made available to fight the salinity at once. I think the Minister said just now that the findings will be completed by about August.
– Yes. They will be completed by the end of August.
– We look forward to the reports with confidence. Representatives of certain organisations, which have dona great work of which I am deeply conscious, came to Canberra before this decision was made and pointed out to the Minister the need for some action. These representations were made by members of the Salinity Committee of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, the Mildura and District Citrus Co-operative Association, which is incorporated in the Australian Citrus Growers Federation, and also the Murray Valley Development League. I pay a tribute to all these organisations. The Murray Valley Development League is a non-profit organisation which claims as its motto: ‘A million people in the Murray Valley’. I think that this is a fairly conservative forecast. Except for one or two people on the staff of the League, the others who work for it in all the regions are unpaid. Therefore, I have been endeavouring over about 10 or 15 years to persuade the Government to allow donations to this great League as taxation deductions.
On matters like salinity - you will notice, Sir, that 1 am keeping right to the point - I believe that we must have watchful organisations to note the first signs of these- problems, which would grow greater and greater and cause much to damage. When we have an organisation like the Murray Valley Development League the Government should appreciate it and support it. If people are paying in money to speed its works, surely to goodness those contributions should be allowed as taxation deductions. 1 do not propose to go into details and figures; there would not be much time for that and I believe it is the principle that counts. In this Parliament I have never attempted to forecast the national debt or to quote other indefinite figures; I always get those details from departments. It is the principle that counts. Are we to fight salinity? Of course, the answer is yes. We are already doing it and we will continue to do it. The amount of money that has been claimed out of this $50m at the present time is very considerable. In reply to a question that I asked, the Minister for National Development said:
We have only $26.4m left under the national water resources development programme, having committed approximately one-half of the total of $50m. We have requests on hand totalling $280m-
A total that is probably increasing- so I am afraid that a few people will miss out.
This is what concerns me: I think Australia might miss out, for the simple reason that in my opinion this $50m is not enough. Though I am not one of those in this House who are always crying for more and more, I think additional money would be well spent. The projects are under the guidance and management of the State Governments. When the States make application for the grants, I am given to understand that the Federal Government will take notice of the expert information that they put and the stress they place on the urgency of certain propositions. Some of the States are putting forward more than one project and they have a system of priorities. The next Budget will be introduced in a few months’ time and the Cabinet will be considering the details of it during the winter recess. Let us hope that in the very near future, if not in the next Budget, more money will be made available and finance will be provided for .all the projects that can be justified for water conservation purposes, as water conservation is very necessary in Australia.
The honourable member for Macquarie said that lucerne and other crops can be grown along the Murray River. That is quite true. I thank him for another comment he made. I really think he has become very liberal in his attitude. I wrote his words down and they are bound to appear in Hansard. He spoke about the great Murray River. I call it Australia’s greatest waterway. He referred to the . magnificent role played by the river in developing and sustaining what he called the most important part of Australia. This is very good.. I have always maintained that this is the most important part of Australia and the honourable member’s comment is the only support I have, ever had for my contention. I was pleased to get it from a New South Welshman.
– It is a very generous interpretation.
– The honourable member, who represents a New South Wales electorate, would be interested in the land on the side of the river in New South Wales. The land long the Murray River generally is very adaptable and capable of extensive production. But I agree with the honourable member when he said that wa cannot pull out the trees and plant other crops. We can still plant other crops without removing the trees, because there are literally thousands and thousands of acres along the Murray River that will grow almost anything, if water is available.
– 1 said we should not cut down the trees.
– I agree with that, but I say now that there is no need to cut down the trees. There is plenty of land -there without cutting down the trees at all: I am opposite the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong), who represents a place named Barham in New South Wales, I represent a place named Koondrook: It is a productive place for all kinds of primary industry, including pastures, dairying, timber and citrus. It is a comprehensive primary production area. Further along the. river there is a place named Murrabit. It is a famous citrus area. Then we come to Tresco, where vines, vegetables and citrus are grown. Further along the river is Swan Hill. This is a growing city. Before I come to that city, I want to say something about Kerang. It is a part of the Koondrook and Murrabit area. People travel to Kerang to do part of their shopping and other business. All these places are very dependent on the Murray River and its water. Further along the river is Nyah, which grows citrus and dried fruit. Then we have Piangil, which grows vegetables and citrus. Further along the river is Boundary Bend, which is a wonderful place for citrus. It is well known all over Australia. .
The next place is Robinvale, which is growing . rapidly. It is a new soldier settlement area and has been established since the end of the Second World War. It has made tremendous strides and depends almost wholly on the Murray River. Then we come to Sunraysia, which, as everyone should know, consists of Mildura, Red Cliffs, Merbein and Irymple. It also includes one or two other lesser places. Everyone knows how the Chaffey brothers came there. They had had experience in California in America and they decided to establish the dried fruits industry in Sunraysia. Now about 80% of the entire Australian dried fruit pack is grown at Robinvale and Sunraysia. A small part is grown in New South Wales, not very much in South Australia and a little in Western Australia. The implementation of this Bill is tremendously important to all these areas. The work that has already been started must proceed satisfactorily. The consultants and engineers appointed by the River Murray Commission are at work now and their report, if considered to be satisfactory, as I am sure it will be, should be implemented.
There is one matter I want to deal with above all else. The Minister has said in the House previously that the River Murray Commission has control of the waters in the River Murray and that when we get away from the waters of the River Murray the Commission has no control at all. I have long thought and often advocated that we’ should have a Murray Valley authority to deal with salinity, with the development of the valley and the encouragement of the production of the crops I have mentioned.
– ‘Like the Tennessee Valley Authority.
– I agree with that. We know that this is a great project, but the trouble is that the States will not agree. I have asked the Minister on various occasions whether he will convene a meeting of the appropriate State Ministers, with himself as chairman, and discuss the means ot setting up a Murray Valley authority. But of course the Minister has told me that this is a function of the States; who should make the move. Of course, there is no chance of that happening and I appeal to the Minister again to try to get the project moving. The States would argue that they would have to cede land to the authority, which would probably be under Commonwealth control, and that they could not do this without losing their sovereign rights. They may have their sovereign rights, but when it comes to a matter of Australia or the sovereign rights of the States, with the associated jealousies, surely we should stand for Australia. We cannot get much done when we leave it to the States. The States of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales probably would agree on very few points related to the opening up and development of the Murray Valley on a large scale. These impediments must be overcome in the future and we must have a Murray Valley authority to deal with the whole of the valley. This valley is probably one of the most productive areas and potentially one of the areas most capable of expansion in Australia.
The Chowilla Dam has been mentioned. As I said in this House when I spoke previously, I have waited to see what the experts had to say about the Chowilla Dam. In the electorate I represent there is a newspaper named the ‘Sunraysia Daily’. People wrote to it as soon as the Chowilla Dam was mooted saying that it was not in the best interests of anyone because it would cause a build up of salt. The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) said that the Chowilla Dam will build up water which will be used to flush out the Murray. That is quite right, but it would apply to the Murray River only after it passes Mildura, for the Chowilla Dam is downstream from Mildura. Therefore, I believe it would do more harm than good.
– But the experts agreed to put it there, and stated that it should be there. You supported the construction on that basis.
– That is so, the experts did. But the practical men saw that it might be a danger, and the experts evidently thought it over again. Now the Minister’s statement discloses that consideration is being given to building some smaller weirs further up the river, thus obtaining a cheaper and better supply of water. It has been stated already that the very dry year has accentuated the salt problem, for the authorities could not very well flush the Murray River from the Hume Weir or somewhere else. The Minister has been apprehensive about the amount of water that has been put down the river in an endeavour to eradicate the salt slugs, as they are known, which have caused damage, especially to citrus groves in South Australia. Of course, grave dangers have also been occasioned to the primary industries in Victoria that 1 have mentioned. The water going down the river to wash out the slugs has not been in the best interests of supplying people with water in the Murray and other places in a drought year.
Considering all the matters involved, I support the Bill very strongly. I do not think - and there is a great difference between what you think and what you know - it is in the best interests of the people of Victoria and South Australia. I know it is. I know, also, that we shall watch this development very closely. Maybe there will be an interim report from these men. As recently as yesterday I received a letter from a man who said: ‘If there is any interim report from the consultants and engineers, will you try to let me have it because I am very interested in this proposal’. I shall certainly do that. I congratulate the Government and the Minister on what is contained in this measure. Further, I thank the Minister for the courtesy he has shown me on so many occasions when I have had to bring this matter to the notice of this Parliament and the people.
– I support this Bill, which will make available $3. 6m to Victoria for certain measures to restrict salinity in the River Murray. It would be unthinkable for us to allow the River Murray and many other .great rivers in this country to continue to be affected in this way. This problem is associated with not only the River Murray but also many other rivers and salty lakelands in various parts of Australia. We must not allow the development of what has occurred in some parts of the world. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) mentioned West Pakistan, where a tremendous area of rich soil has been allowed to be affected. Only a year or two ago - this might still be happening - the salinity there was travelling at a rate equivalent to the size of one tennis court each minute. This situation could not be tolerated in any country. Great problems have been experienced in finding a solution to this problem in other countries, but we are a comparatively young nation which is tackling the problem in its early stages. I congratulate the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) and the Government for proposing this action so quickly. I note that the Minister stated that, in the normal course of events, these problems will build up gradually, thus allowing time for action to be taken. But the trouble in the River Murray indicates how quickly, salinity can build up in a big river which is subjected to a particularly dry period, when insufficient water, is available to move down the river and return the salt to the sea. This happens in many areas for other reasons, and it was this point that I wanted to mention this . afternoon.
When we are developing this country in this respect we should not consider only the’ water courses and rivers. Engineers responsible for other works throughout the country must co-operate with the engineers in this field. In many parts of my’ own State of Western Australia engineers have built roads that restrict the flow of water, thus leading to the build-up of sali and the ruin of thousands of acres of territory. This - can happen anywhere. Our engineers should get together on this problem because we cannot afford a build-up of salt and the consequent loss of development. If this is not done and the trouble is not corrected in the manner now being adopted, salinity will have an effect on the food supplies of the people not only in this country but also overseas. Our balance of payments also will be affected if we do not challenge this problem now and restrict .wherever possible ;the salt content that’ is, in many instances, affecting some of the best soil in Australia. This can be achieved if it is - attacked -early, enough and if the engineers of this country work together to ensure that sufficient water flows back into the sea and carries the salt with it. ‘ ‘ ‘ .
I make this plea to the Minister, who is doing an excellent job in national development - in the establishment not only of dams but also of many other engineering works such as railways and roads. I support the Bill.
– in reply - I thank honourable members sincerely for the unanimity they have shown in their support df the great work that is proposed. It might not be great in the sense of total cost, yet if it successfully reduces salinity it will be of an enormous importance to the people who live- along, the River Murray in three States. Interesting and thoughtful contributions have been made to the debate by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong) and- the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull); both of whom have been tireless workers for their electorates. Unlike the honourable member for Mallee, I represent some of the areas on the Murray River - from Jingellic to Mulwala. Perhaps these form the most important part of the Murray, for this is where the big storage at the Hume Weir occurs. As I said, both honourable members are tireless workers for the people in the Murray district. Indeed, the honourable member for Mallee has taken me round and shown me over some of. his area. I was particularly interested in seeing the rejuvenation of some of the areas around Kerang which had been completely ruined by salt but which are now being brought - back - into production. I believe that the honourable member for Riverina is one of the most tireless writers in this Parliament, and I am perfectly certain that, if I were. to add up the number of letters I send out to members of this House, he would get the No. 1 position. Perhaps that is because we have had such a dry season.
As the honourable member for Mallee said, the River Murray Commission has authority over the water only while it is in the Murray. Indeed, there have been some doubts concerning the legality of the Commission’s employing a salinity . consultant.. However, everyone agreed that one should’ be employed, and we have gone ahead. There have been no complaints. I am- sure that this sort of investigation is essential. The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) claimed that an exhaustive inquiry on salinity was needed, but I assure him that this will bc an exhaustive inquiry.- After calling world-wide tenders, we have two firms that we believe are best equipped to carry out this task. They are working hard and are taking evidence from a great many people and organisations; they are looking at Mr Pels’ proposal.
The Chairman of the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Com- mission has said to me about the Pels’ plan: If you gave me a small part of the money that Mr Pels’ programme would- need, I would overcome the - salinity problems in the River Murray’. -Nevertheless, this work is being done. I think we have excellent consultants. The firm ‘of Hunting Technical Services Ltd has undertaken work in West Pakistan and has had much to do with the salinity problems in the Tigris,. Ephrates and the Upper Nile rivers. I assure the honourable member for Macquarie that an exhaustive inquiry is being carried out, and a report is to be prepared by the end of June next year. We have already had some preliminary reports. I am just not certain whether these are available. If they are available, I will see that the honourable member for Mallee receives one. However these may be reports which are confidential to the Commission itself.
I really rose to comment on a matter which the honourable member for Macquarie raised. There does not seem to be a really clear understanding on this question of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. The honourable member said that the Authority has done a great job. I agree. Had it not been for the rapid way in which the Authority has developed the Snowy Mountains Scheme we would have been in real trouble this year. It will be of interest to the House to know that two-thirds of the water that went down the Mumimbidgee this year was water diverted from the Snowy River. A quarter of the water that went into Lake Hume itself was Snowy water. Without the water restrictions and the flow from the Snowy we would have been in a much worse position. The honourable member for Macquarie is one of those people who believe that the work of the Authority is to be discontinued. He mentioned this by referring to the death of a giant, as he called it. The Authority is being kept on. Somehow I just cannot get this fact over. The Government has made the decision that the Authority will remain as a permanent body able to undertake work for outside organisations. The Authority has on hand at the present moment approximately 400 man-years of work for outside organisations. This is building up at the rate of a new major project at least, and more often more than, once a month.
However, it has been stated quite clearly that the Authority will not be retained as a constructing authority once it finishes its work in the Snowy Mountains area. The reason is that adequate construction ability and authorities both from the Commonwealth and State spheres as well as from local government are available without the Snowy Mountains Authority. What the Authority does in the Snowy is supervise construction. The contractors are the ones who do the actual construction. When they have finished their work on the Snowy, those contractors will be available to go elsewhere to undertake work. But we are keeping the Authority on. I do not know what is wrong with my public relations. I just cannot seem to get a breakthrough in Australia in establishing the fact that the Government has made this decision and that in due time legislation will be brought before the Parliament in order to alter the law so that the Authority is entitled to undertake work for outside organisations both in Australia and overseas.
At the present moment, the Authority is undertaking work in Thailand, Sabah, Western Samoa and Nepal. There is a tremendous number of areas where its consulting, investigation, research and design team is being used to the benefit of water construction. The honourable member for Macquarie said that the amount of S3. 6m to be provided under this Bill is a matching grant from the Commonwealth. It is not a matching grant. It is a straight-out grant of $3.6m.
– Victoria is obliged to carry out certain works, though.
– It is carrying out the work with money provided by the Commonwealth. Victoria does not have to put in additional money on its own behalf to carry out the work.
I conclude with a reference to the remarks of those honourable members who have said that we need more money for the Murray River. Everyone realises this fact. ‘ That is why we are working as fast as we can to try to get to a position where we will be able to make a decision as between the various sites that are being investigated as a possible future major storage on the Murray. We believe from what has eventuated so far that it is possible to get better quality water and a greater quantity of it at less cost by an upriver storage rather than a down-river storage. Having said this, all I add is that we will do nothing in the Commisson until the figures are available. The two sites which are being selected will be compared and a decision will then be made on where the storage should be located. I thank the House for its support of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr Fairbairn) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I wish to take a minute of the time of the House to draw attention to the value of this water. Just near Robinvale there is an olive grove named Oliveholme. More than half of the whole Australian production of fine quality olives is grown there.
– They are very good too. I have had some.
– This is one of the industries that can be extended if we are given good water, plenty of it, and some Federal Government financial assistance. Australia produces only approximately 12% of its olive oil consumption. Migrants are coming to this country all the time. These people are great buyers and eaters of this special delicacy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1060), on motion by Mr Barnes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this Bill reflects the view that independence for Papua and New Guinea is still 20 years or 30 years away. This is the view which the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) has expressed. It is the view which the Department of External Territories must apply on his behalf. The Bill carries gradualism to the point of imperceptibility. The Minister asserted at Melbourne University on 12th April last year:
Except for a small minority, quite apart from the vast majority of the people, there is no demand for immediate independence.
On 24th July at Monash University he said:
In February 1968 the Pangu Pati won 12 of the 84 seats in the House of Assembly on a platform of self-government. On 18th April the Minister was reported as still adhering to his view that the Territory would not be independent for another 20 years or 30 years.
The Minister is naturally reluctant to admit that his cherished timetables have become an irrelevance. He either does not know or will not admit that the breakup of the great colonial empires has furnished us with an abundance of examples of nations which emerged overnight under just such radical minority leadership as that of the Pangu Pati and with prospects of economic viability no greater than those of Papua and New Guinea even at its present stage of development. Political developments in the last generation were much slower than they will be in the next generation. Next week we will have a visit from the Head of State of one of the only two nations in the whole of Africa that were independent a generation ago. Now the whole of Africa north of the Zambezi is independent. It is clear that the process will be no less thorough and much more rapid in the South Seas.
Australians may be more closely associated with New Guineans and particularly with Papuans than would be appreciated by Papuans themselves. Papuans are Australian citizens with limited rights of access to Australia. The boundary of Queensland, by imperial rescript of 80 years ago, extends for more than 60 miles within 3 miles of the coast of Papua. Clearly the rights of Papuans as regards to transit, fishing and submerged lands are inhibited by the continuing difficulty in the negotiations between Queensland and the Commonwealth to rectify this border.
Australians and New Guineans will, in another sense - not just in a sense of jurisdiction - be neighbours forever. The question which should be exercising the minds of members of the Government is what sort of neighbours we will be. The relationship of former imperial powers to their one time colonies is rich in possibilities, for better or for worse. There are more Britons in India than ever before and British capital is more welcome than ever before as a partner in the more important industries in India. However, the comparison which is more often advanced by those who wish to retard independence in Papua and New Guinea is that of the Congo. Belgians are tolerated in the Congo because they are needed there, but they are not loved. New Guinea is Australia’s sole colony. We can make it our India or our Congo. The outcome will depend on whether we set ourselves realistic goals and pursue them realistically, or play the sluggard in a dream world with 20 or 30 year horizons.
The independence of Papua and New Guinea is not of interest only to Australia or to New Guinea. It is an issue which is regularly and inevitably debated at least once a year in the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, and, to give it its full name, the Special Committee of Twentyfour on the Implementation of the Declaration on Colonialism. The sole work of the Trusteeship Council now is the supervision of the Australian Trust Territory of New Guinea. However, the Special Committee is concerned with a great number of territories throughout the world. Its composition reflects the composition of the General Assembly itself. The Trusteeship Council reflects the composition of the members and the creators of the United Nations immediately after the last war. We can take scant comfort from what may be said in the Trusteeship Council, and we should remember that even there the United States of America and New Zealand have rarely given full support to the attitude of the Australian Government. Nor should we be misled by daily Press reports of what may be said by the missions from the Trusteeship Council which visit Papua-New Guinea every 3 years. The world attitude, rightly or wrongly, is much more accurately reflected in the pronouncements and the deliberations of the Special Committee.
For those who disparage the efficacy and the relevance of the United Nations and its organs, I turn now closer to home. Our allies in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, our partners in the Asian and Pacific Council, the powers with which one day we may associate ourselves in the Association of South East Asian Nations all have an interest in the harmony and orderly development of the region of which New Guinea is a part. Britain, America and France have all had success in granting independence to former colonies. Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines know at first hand the risks and opportunities of postcolonial status. They are anxious that Australia should not lag behind in the political development of the largest remaining colony in the Pacific. They are anxious that we should not lag behind in laying down the sort of human and material infra-structure which will smooth the transition to independence when it comes.
Not the least anomalous of the consequences of Australia’s preoccupation with the war in Vietnam is the fact that while the commitment there is maintained, conditions fester in areas which are closer to our shores and which have destinies more closely linked to our own. The problems of these areas, which are for the moment remote from the interests of those who prosecute the hostilities in Vietnam, receive little publicity. Yet it is precisely to those problems that our attention might most profitably be directed.
From time to time we hear talk of international firemen whose business it is to extinguish brushfire wars. Given a realistic appreciation of our capabilities, the analogy with firemen is one which should have no place in the discussion of Australia’s external role. It is for us rather to adopt the attitude of a responsible householder, who identifies the fire risks in his own neighbourhood and sees that they are removed before a conflagration starts. It is in /this context that the Government should take note of Professor Stanner’s description of Melanesia and the Pacific as Australia’s island skirt. New Guinea is its largest and potentially its richest component part. New Guinea is a natural focus for the Melanesian nationalism which has begun to stir in New Caledonia, and which inevitably will ‘be fanned by rather more difficult economic conditions in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, the Solomons and the New Hebrides. France is currently engaged in a show of military force to overawe nationalism in New Caledonia. The force is on a scale several times greater than that which Napoleon III sent to take possession of that territory in 1853. Australia at present has no need of such offensive and ineffective expedients. If that need ever arises, it will be as a result of inept and dilatory policies implemented by successive Ministers - not just the present Minister for External Territories - on the basis of erroneous assumptions.
The whole of this area is covered by the South Pacific Commission. The Commission’s terms of reference are economic, social and educational. The terms of reference have never been extended to encompass political considerations. This is largely because of obstructionism of France in the South Seas. The sooner the South Pacific Commission is enabled to undertake political co-ordination and promotion, the better it will be not only for the islands covered by its charter, but for Australia herself.
The Minister will protest, as he always does when the question of independence for New Guinea is raised, that the inhabitants of the Territory should decide for themselves, that they fear independence. The Minister’s exploitation of a reluctance which he himself and his immediate predecessors have fostered sedulously is a tactic which reflects little credit upon him. We must try to overcome this reluctance. It is devious and dishonest to try to hold New Guineans responsible for developmental shortcomings which in fact our own. The Administration - the Executive Government as it will become under the Bil! - has effectively, if not consciously, made many New Guineans feel completely dependent upon Australians and fearful of their departure. It is not sufficiently emphasised that after the establishment of political independence, Australia will continue to assist New Guinea in many ways. It is not sufficiently emphasised that it is possible in the world of today for people to make social, economic and educational advances while they have political independence. Most countries in fact assert that the quickest way for a country to achieve social, economic and educational independence is for it to have political independence. Political independence is the key to development as it is the key to self respect in every other field.
After independence Australians will hope to be welcome in New Guinea not as political masters but as friends. Australian aid will continue for as long after independence as is required and welcome. To claim, as is sometimes done, that talk of independence discourages teachers and other skilled persons from accepting positions in the Territory is to imply that after independence such persons will not be welcome, or that the Australian Government will withdraw the financial assistance required to pay their salaries. Such implications are mischievous and mendacious.
Many of the Australians whose skill in education, agriculture and the running of public utilities is required in New Guinea are the very persons who would pursue careers in State Public Services in Australia. By going to New Guinea they abandon or defer the prospects of security and promotion in the State Public Services. Earnest attempts should be made to ensure that if such persons serve in New Guinea they will be able, in due course, to embark upon comparable employment with the States without loss of security and emoluments.
On the economic side, those who plead the virtues of private enterprise in New Guinea are too often advocating foreign domination of its economy. At the present stage of development, private investors are inevitably Australians, since there are few New Guineans with investable incomes. The fair and prudent course is for private investors to join in partnership with the Australian Government to develop and service New Guinea’s resources. More projects are needed, like the New Britain palm oil project, where the Administration is taking up a one-half share in the capital, and the projected copper mining project in Bougainville, where the public share will be 20%. In this way the Government of an independent New Guinea can later succeed to the Australian Government’s interest and immediately play a full role in the economic development of the country. There are opportunities for such joint enterprises in canneries, in processing works, in shipping and in the provision of other services which the Territory requires.
It is not inconceivable that the obduracy of the Minister and his colleagues will precipitate a situation in which Australians and New Guineans are at loggerheads. The present Bill indeed represents a step in that direction. New Guineans, it seems, are insufficiently endowed with those qualities which set Ministers apart from other men. Paragraph 18 of the final report of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development, which was appointed by the House of Assembly, reads:
As those selected for ministerial positions will have had at most only limited experience in governmental work, and will need time, experience and assistance in order to become proficient, the Committee thinks it would be wiser for the Minister to share responsibility with the Departmental Head.
Paragraph 20 of the same report reads:
In the event of a disagreement between the Minister and the Departmental Head, the matter should be referred to the Administrator.
The Minister for External Territories, in his statement to the House on 26th October last, enlarged on this proposition in the the following terms:
Since the proposed ministerial officers will not be exercising the full executive responsibility and authority which is the universal characteristic of those who elsewhere are designated Ministers, the Government’s view is that it would be misleading to call them ‘Ministers’.
The Minister for External Territories might have taken into consideration the fact that the inexperience of any prospective Minister in the House of Assembly would be unlikely to equal - far less exceed - the inexperience of certain of his colleagues who, from time to time, have been given the Service portfolios in the Commonwealth Ministry. Had the Minister done so he might have elected to put teeth into the recommendation of the Select Committee rather than water down still further a content already excessively diluted.
The Select Committee was most moderate in its recommendations on a ministerial role for certain elected representatives of the Territory. Perhaps the members of the Committee expected the Government to be generous in its implementation of those recommendations. If so, they have been sadly disappointed. Their own moderation has been matched and exceeded by the inappropriate and excessive moderation of the Government. This fact does not escape the notice of those people whose interests are most closely involved. Five members of the House of Assembly have come out in criticism of the Bill. The members in question are Mr John Guise, Mr Percy
Chatterton, Mr Tony Voutas, Mr Oala Rarua and Mr Cecil Abel. They are precisely the sort of members with whom the Government should most zealously seek relations of trust and accord. Yet they do not share the Minister’s complacent conviction that his Bill is ‘in harmony with the recommendations’ of the Select Committee. On the contrary, they regard the Bill as ‘a reflection on the dignity and authority’ of their House.
The Minister belittles the capacities of the elected representatives of the Treasury. He also undermines the status and the morale of the indigenous Public Service. He endorses the 1964 salary determination. He quotes with approval the views of his predecessor now the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) - who has said:
This is not a question of equal pay for equal work but a question of the capacity of the country to pay and a question, too, of social equality in the indigenous community. It will be bad for government and bad for the community if the self governing country makes the bureaucrat a more highly privileged person than any other citizen.
The Minister is apparently unaware that in prematurely confronting this relatively minor problem he has created a much more formidable one. There is no indication that he has given adequate consideration to the view of Professor Parker of the School of Political Science at the Australian National University, who has written:
Spokesmen for the indigenous people have regarded the 1964 salary determinations as an expression of racial discrimination towards the local people as a whole. This appears in fact to have been the outstanding political issue that has so far emerged in Papua and New Guinea - one that is likely to affect Australia’s relations with the political leaders of the Territory on every matter of political importance.
Nor does the Minister seem to have taken adequate account of the view of Professor Peter Lawrence of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Queensland. Professor Lawrence believes that:
The gap between rates for European and indigenous holders of the same position is potentially most dangerous. In any multi-racial organisation, where members of one race are paid at a rate lower than that of the other, they can hardly be expected to be satisfied with their lot. Their whole status as men is brought into question. They cannot easily have normal every day social dealings, the sort of thing we have striven for years to create in the Territory, with members of the other race.
The Professor holds also that:
The most effective counter to subversion in countries such as the Territory is the creation of a’ sound, honest, responsible and efficient indigenous Public Service, which can maintain contact with, preserve representative institutions and ensure progress in the villages. The Territory must at all costs give priority to developing a Public Service of this type or run the risk of a politically unpredictable and potentially dangerous situation, which will be enhanced by a salary structure felt by local officers to be unduly low and inequitable.
The views I have quoted are not novel. They formed part of the evidence submitted to the Arbitrator on behalf of the Public Service Association of the Territory, in. a pioneering case presented by Mr Hawke, the advocate of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, whose subsidies to New Guinea, by way of industrial organisation and arbitration, should be widely acknowledged and appreciated. These views were quoted by Senator Cohen, the Deputy Leader of my Party in another place, in a’ debate there on 21st September last year. We should acknowledge that in any matter where investment of any size is involved in New Guinea, the investor is an alien - usually an Australian. The employee of the enterprise in which the investment takes place is an indigene. In the Public Service itself the final decision is always taken by an alien - usually an Australian. The other employees, the ones who can be overridden, are inevitably indigenes.
The Minister cannot be unaware that serious doubts, reservations and fears about the racial climate of the Territory are being voiced by responsible persons who are well qualified to discuss such matters. Will nothing disturb the Minister’s monumentally misplaced composure? Can the Minister know these things and remain indifferent? Honourable members in this place are naturally reluctant to say things which can <6e used against our country, but we should not be unaware that in regard to Papua and New Guinea and in regard to matters where Australians are involved in South East Asia - in Vietnam and other places - the views are expressed overseas before they are expressed in Australia. Any views concerning Australia in the South Seas or in South East Asia are publicised in English language newspapers in all the large countries of South East Asia and the Asian subcontinent before they are published in Australia. We must discard this notion that if we discuss facts frankly in Australia we are making a rod for our own backs. The matters which have been discussed in this House in recent months concerning the conduct of Australians in South East Asia were publicised before they were ever printed in Australia or discussed in this House.
The Minister is equally indifferent, moreover, to the Territory’s need for an adequate system of tertiary education. I speak here in the context of our obligations under the United Nations Charter to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the Territory. I speak in particular of our obligation in regard to tertiary education in the Territory. On 18th March the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Papua and New Guinea, Dr Gunther, who has spent his adult life in the service of that Territory, revealed that the Minister had assessed the Territory’s minimum requirement for graduates at 200 per year. Graduating 200 students per year requires an intake in the preliminary year of 375 students. This is three times the number which funds currently made available will allow the University to accept.
Contrary to the recommendation of the Commission on Higher Education in Papua and New Guinea, the University is funded by annual votes from the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. These votes are made known in the Territory Budget in August for the period from the first day of the previous month to the end of the following June. This late announcement of the year’s Budget adds to the difficulty of planning annual expenditure. The University of Papua and New Guinea is the only university within Australian jurisdiction which is not permitted to budget on a triennial basis.
The University has submitted to the Administration of the Territory a request for $4.5m to cover capital and recurrent expenditure over the 12-month period to June next year. This request is a product of careful budgeting and pruning and is considered to be the minimum amount on which the University can hope to function if it is to develop on reasonable lines. Despite the manifest parsimony of the University’s planners, it seems unlikely that more than $3.5m will be forthcoming.
As a result of cuts in the 1967-68 Budget, and foreshadowed reductions in years to come, the natural and necessary expansion of the University has been restricted. This is most evident in the reduction of student numbers in the 1968 preliminary year. The fact that 25% of the qualified students seeking university places had to be turned away is an indictment of the Minister and all those associated with him in the allocation of university finance. At present the Territory has four indigenous graduates. By the end of 1970 it will have forty graduates. Dr Gunther has said that he doubts ‘whether at that time there will be any country in the world less well equipped with tertiary level manpower’. Moreover, the cuts have forced the University to cancel plans to initiate external studies in 1968 and to advertise chairs in law, geology and philosophy later this year. If no relief is forthcoming in 1969-70, it will have to consider such drastic steps as offering no senior undergraduate courses in order to save the disproportionately high per capita cost of such courses; taking in no further preliminary year students in order to concentrate resources on complete courses for those already studying; or seriously curtailing all staff research projects not supported by outside funds.
The Minister for External Territories has fallen a victim of his own cliches. When action is required it is always premature. When money is required it is always at odds with the Government’s order of priorities. Priorities’ is the vogue word of the Gorton Government. It has taken the place of States’ rights’ in the lexicon of inaction. The only priorities which Ministers in fact recognise are low ones. The Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) defends his apology for a health scheme in the language of priorities. The muddled state of Australian transport is said by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) to be a matter of priorities. The University of Papua and New Guinea cannot have the money it requires to produce graduates at a rate recognised even by the Minister himself as a minimum, and this too is laid at the door of priorities.
It is not clear that the Minister would be in a position to establish informed priorities for the Territory even if he in fact wished to do so. Like so many of his colleagues, the Minister attempts to carry on the business of government with statistical and data gathering resources which are wholly inadequate. On 27th March, my colleague the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) asked the Minister what sums had been repatriated from the Territory to Australia and other countries in each of the last 5 years. The Minister’s reply was that the information was not available and would not be available for some time. On this occasion the Minister attempted to excuse the shortcomings of his Department by likening the Territory to Tasmania.
– That was the second answer to the same question in exactly the same terms or in very similar terms.
– Yes. My recollection is that the Minister said that one cannot decide what the flow of capital is between the Australian States. Therefore it is no wonder that one cannot gauge the flow of capital between the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and the Commonwealth of Australia. This shows how fallacious is the argument of the kind that the Territory depends on Australia. We spend on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea over two-thirds of the amount which the Minister for External Affairs categorises as overseas aid. We are unable to say how much Australia gains from that Territory. The biggest companies in the Territory have withdrawn more money every year from the Territory than they have put into it, as has happened also with those companies and the other Australian companies which dominate the economy of Fiji. We always state what governments spend in these places; we never state what individuals and companies gain there. Whilst on this occasion in answer to the honourable member for Lang the Minister for External Territories was anxious to make a comparison between the Territory and the Australian States, on other occasions he is very anxious to emphasise the differences between the situation of the Territory and that of the Australian States.
On matters affecting the Territory the present Government is a great scorner of advice. It ignored the recommendations of the Currie Commission on funding the University of Papua and New Guinea. It ignored the views of social scientists who believe that its wage policy for indigenous public servants will generate a disastrous racial climate. It ignored the view of the Territory’s 9,000 strong multi-racial Public Service Association that that same wage policy places Australia in breach of her trusteeship obligation for the Territory. No doubt it will ignore the views of the five members of the House of Assembly who believe that the current Bill is a reflection on the dignity and authority of their House.
With greater humility and greater humanity more satisfactory progress might be made. The situation which is developing in Papua and New Guinea is one fraught with grave risks both for that country and for our own. The Administration is paternalistic, insensitive to the feelings and attitudes of the indigenous people, complacent and self-satisfied. Among the New Guineans themselves, and in particular among the more educated groups, there is a growing awareness of the Administration’s stance and a growing resentment of that stance. As education spreads and increases, so too will this resentment spread and increase. It may be said that at this stage the resentment is centred in the coastal towns and cities. If one looks at the whole history of independence in every country which has gained independence since the war, one will find that the views which have been born and fostered in the coastal cities have taken possession of the whole country.
-The honourable member just does not know New Guinea.
– What do they know of Papua who only Papua know? If this resentment is exploited by indigenous political leaders, whether irresponsible or rightly irate, a situation may arise in which the local people are aligned as adversaries of the Administration, No more disastrous outcome is imaginable.
There is still time for the Minister and the Government to draw back from the paths which they have hitherto elected to follow. There is still time for the mistakes of the past to be re-appraised and more appropriate policies devised for the future. In the terms of the United Nations Charter, the Government is under a solemn obligation to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of New Guinea. It should recognise that little time remains for it to discharge that obligation. It should gear its actions to the possibility that the next elections to be held for the House of Assembly will be in fact the first elections by an independent people in an independent republic, possibly within the Commonwealth of Nations. There is no suggestion of such urgency in the present Bill, which should be the constitution for this nascent republic. The Minister has said repeatedly that no such urgency exists. The.re may be less time than he realises.
– Before this Government came to office and until 1951 no New Guinean had ever sat in a territorial legislature. In 1964 we saw the first general election in New Guinea and in February this year I was present for the second election, which has just returned eighty-four members to the House of Assembly. In line with the recommendations of the third report of the Select Committee of the House of Assembly under the legislation that we are considering today, further steps forward in constitutional development will take place. As the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) has pointed out, the new Assembly is to have what will be virtually a Cabinet of seven ministerial members and a type of junior Ministry of up to ten assistant ministerial members. All will be elected members of the House of Assembly and will be given administrative responsibilities for specified functions of Territory administration. They will form a majority on the Administrator’s Executive Council, which will replace the present Administrator’s Council. Subject to the Administrator, the Executive Council will be the principal instrument of Government policy in the Territory. Ministerial members will be responsible, together with departmental heads, for overall departmental activities and for framing policy proposals, including proposals for expenditure. Just as Ministers in this House represent the Government, so too will ministerial members represent the Administration in the Assembly. They will introduce legislation. The assistant ministerial members will occupy a kind of junior ministerial office to allow elected members to work with departmental heads and to undertake ministerial work.
Independence for New Guinea is still a long way off, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said, but although the changes made in this legislation are essentially transitional they are a positive step forward on the road to self-government. As a result of this legislation the new members of the House of Assembly will have more obvious prospects of exercising political power than did their predecessors. The changes being introduced will provide for something very close to home rule by mid- 1968, should the new House strongly favour such a development. It is clear that ministerial members, if united and backed by the House of Assembly, will be in a very strong position. Personality clashes and misunderstandings are bound to occur during the coming, transitional period, since the transfer of effective power from old hands to new is a delicate operation which rarely proceeds smoothly.
There are many critics of what is going on in New Guinea today. There are those who say that we are foisting democracy on the New Guinea people too quickly. There are those who say that we are not doing it quickly enough. There are those who have been critical of the House of Assembly as an institution and who have been critical of the performance of its members. Some have claimed that the House has failed to strike roots, to acquire popular support and to carve out for itself a meaningful political role. The activities of members have been dismissed as being too parochial in outlook. It is easy to criticise. The problem of bringing democracy to New Guinea is an immense one. It has been an unselfish task for Australia and, most likely, will be a thankless one. We have done what we have because we believe that what we are doing is morally right.
The Leader of the Opposition criticised the Minister for having said that there was no real move by the people of New Guinea for independence. I spent some time in New Guinea. At one place there was a discussion among a number of high school matriculation students. They were asked what the people in their own villages thought of independence. I have with me a typewritten report of their replies, but I do not intend to delay the House by quoting the replies extensively. I have chosen some remarks which I believe are of interest. I think they show the confusion that exists among the people of New Guinea as to just what independence is and the effect on certain groups such as the mountain people and the coastal people. One of the young students who came from Mendi said:
When Oala Oala Rarua made announcement of independence Western Highlands people said: First for the coast and later for us’. They don’t know the meaning, but they do know that Australia must leave eventually, but not yet.
Another student, who came from Chimbu, said: T heard an election speech at Sinasina and the candidate was told by the local councillor: “If coastal people vote for independence in the House of Assembly, you must vote no”.’ A student who came from Kieta said: ‘Most people in my area have the wrong idea of independence. They think when they get their own government they will take over everything, including Europeans’ possessions.’ Another student, who came from Nakanai, said: ‘The people in my area do not know very much. One Chinese not paying good wages. The locals say they will get him on independence.’ A student from Buka said: ‘I was talking to a candidate from Rabaul who said on independence: “I will get rid of all Chinese”. I pointed out the dangers of this, but he stuck to his point.’ Another student from Mekeo said: ‘There is no talk of selfgovernment in my area, but they are all suspicious of the House of Assembly’. I suppose politicians are blamed, wherever they are. One student who came from Madang said: ‘The locals in my area have no ideas. They say things if asked, but they do say: “Give independence to those who wear shoes and socks, not to us”.’ A student from Mendi said: ‘People generally have no idea of independence. They do not want Europeans to leave as they get good things from Europeans. My people are generally against coastal people, who are big-headed and do not consider others.’ A student from Kieta said: ‘My people think it is their country and not for Europeans’. I have taken the time of honourable members to quote those statements because I think they dispel what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition. I think there is very grave doubt among many people in New Guinea today as to whether independence should’ be granted.
The Leader of the Opposition said that five members of the House of Assembly had criticised this Bill. If only five of the 94 members of the House of Assembly could foe found to criticise this legislation, I suggest that there is not very much wrong with it. He went on to say that the Australian companies operating in New Guinea had taken out of the Territory more money than they had put into it. I would like to know the authority for his figures. The Leader of the Opposition also advocated that Australians should be required to invest in New Guinea. How does he expect that Australians, or for that matter anyone, will invest in New Guinea if they are not able to take out of the Territory the profit on their investment? That was a great contradiction in the Leader of the Opposition’s speech.
If this Government lacked a sense of responsibility, how easy it would be to say: Let us wipe our hands of the problem and give them immediate independence’. But the Government believes, under the guidance of, I believe, an excellent Minister for External Territories, that we can hasten if not slowly, with sufficient caution that all the good work of many years will not be thrown away. The Government has under this legislation set up new guidelines for the political development of the Territory. The first election in 1964 was largely a test of the Administration’s ability to apply the techniques of Western democracy to a Stone Age country with only a small educated fringe. It has been largely successful.
Four years of parliamentary practice in the Territory have not produced the possibility of responsible party government in the immediate future, but they have proved that the best way to learn is to try. In spite of all the predictions, the low level of literacy and the even lower level of national consciousness, the voters who picked out candidates and marked their ballot papers with crosses have surprised the experts by creating an infant political party devoted, not to the cause of premature independence, but of immediate internal self-government. The Pangu Pati returned only twelve members out of eighty-four elected and ten nominated members.
– Not all the Pangu Pati candidates declared their association.
– That is quite right. Quite a number of them concealed the fact that they are members of the Pangu Pati. Their twelve members form a nucleus and I believe that to be an excellent beginning. I would like to see operate in New Guinea the party system of government as we know it in Australia. As in all similar situations, there are serious problems for the House of Assembly. There are those people who are radically ambitious and those who are cautiously conservative. As a Government, we must seize the opportunities and avoid the dangers created by this developing situation. There are dangers that by hanging on to control too long, no matter how sincere and paternal our motives, we will create an attitude of hostility which we have seen develop in the pattern of colonial powers.
Sir Robert Menzies often has been quoted as saying: ‘Better too soon than too late’. But we must be careful not to jeopardise the good that has been done in New Guinea by making a premature decision or by setting a premature target date. It is obviously too soon for any party or group of parties to claim the full responsibilities of Cabinet government in the House of Assembly, but I believe that this Bill by creating ministerial members and assistant ministerial members is a courageous step in that direction. New Guineans are great talkers. They like to ‘tok tok’, as they say, but I believe that like everyone else, they will soon become aware that money talks loudest.
The next step will be to give the elected members a further say in the spending of the taxes gathered by the Administration. As the Minister pointed out, the Select Committee gave a good deal of attention to the proposition that the House of Assembly should be responsible for the preparation of a separate budget in respect of revenue raised in the Territory. The Committee rejected this proposal and expressed the opinion that at this stage the Territory would best be served by a single budget covering all aspects of government spending. However, the newly created Budget Standing Committee is a constructive step in the right direction.
Political self confidence is developing in the Territory faster than many had expected. The next 4 years may be vital. There are many problems. Political development cannot be divorced from economic development and the road to economic development is a long, hard road. The Territory has been called upon and will continue to be called upon to make tremendous and rapid adjustments. The Minister for External Territories must take great pride in what is being achieved in New Guinea today. He administers a difficult portfolio, but he does so with a restraint and far sightedness which will be recognised in the days ahead that we may not live to see. What we do in New Guinea today may affect the whole future course of events to our north for generations to come. We cannot afford to make a mistake.
– We live in an anti-colonial world, and this applies to the United States of America as much as it does to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as the Dutch have good cause to remember in relation to West Irian. We are under pressures about our administration in Papua and New Guinea. I do not say that we are under immediate pressures to get out of the Territory tomorrow. I say that we are under international pressure clearly to formulate a policy leading to the independence of the people of Papua and New Guinea. It seems to me that independence and nationhood are always confused. Nigeria gained its independence but it is extremely doubtful that it has a sense of nationhood. The great tribes of Fulani, Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba have been in conflict with one another in what has become one of the most costly civil wars of recent times. It has not received much focus internationally, because the Communists are not involved. Therefore there is no incentive to outside intervention as there has been in other civil wars. Nevertheless, the Nigerian civil war is a terrible one that may well destroy Nigeria’s chances of becoming a nation.
The question Australia faces is this: Can Australia work deliberately, intelligently and effectively for the maximum dignity of another race, belying its whole history of treatment of the Aboriginals, according to a pattern of sanity in a world that has gone conspicuously insane on race issues? I believe that it can. But the original United
Kingdom decision to withhold Queensland’s annexation of what we now call Papua and New Guinea’, was based on Queensland’s treatment of the Aboriginal people at that time, as the report of the royal commission appointed by the House of Commons in 1884 has shown. New Guinea is moving to nationhood. Fundamentally this is a more important question than independence. I think that independence could be granted - and I am not advocating this - and, provided that Australia continued to give financial assistance and to treat the European Administration officers as a force on loan, Papua and New Guinea government, with an efficient civil service and adequate finance could carry on with a form of independence dependent on outside assistance. But this would not create nationhood in Papua and New Guinea.
Nationhood depends on a decision which the people will have to make themselves. We are constantly referring to the fact that the decision for independence is one that they will have to make themselves; but the decision for nationhood also is one that they will have to make themselves. I am not discounting the fact that independence will come by decision of the people themselves. Obviously, that is true. It cannot be said, however, that in working to create nationhood we are working through an administration that is notably enthusiastic. I have not found the Administration members that I have spoken to in Papua and New Guinea as being noticeably enthusiastic about creating a nation of Papua and New Guinea. They are more prone to tell one of the difficulties and limitations - and it is true that there are these things - than they are to show that they have a clear purpose of moving towards nationhood for those people. Yet nationhood, in the proper sense of the word, is truly what they are entitled to in their dignity, because it would mean that they would overcome all the various disabilities that stand in their way at the present time. In Papua and New Guinea, nationalism faces an enemy in tribalism. It has an enemy in ‘the barriers of sea and mountain. It has an enemy in differing languages. It has an enemy in poverty, which prevents access to the world of ideas. It has an enemy in illiteracy and it has an enemy in the isolation of many of the people in numerous areas.
I think that nothing that we do should encourage tribalism. I agree with the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) about the making of tribal electorates, which means not trampling on the sensibilities of the people. When it is carried to the point at which members of a tribe who migrate to Port Moresby remain part of an electorate somewhere else, we are just fostering tribalism to the point of disruption from the people amongst whom they are living. In fact, the electorate that Tony Voutas won from Horrie Niall, if one really looks at the little groups of voters in it, dotted here and there, looks like one of those German principalities of the Imperial days, like Thurn and Taxis, with a bit here and a bit there, or Lippe, with Lippe-Bielefeld over here and LippeDetmold over there. We see the effect of this in the way that Tony Voutas, having cottoned on to the fact that many of his electors were resident in Port Moresby, was able to campaign among the absentees to overthrow Mr Niall. I think that if people migrate to Port Moresby they should be part of the electorate of Port Moresby. If they are in fact detribalising themselves economically at that point, we can legitimately detribalise them politically. I think that to encourage tribalism is to foster a factor militating against nationhood.
It is very interesting to see how tribalism has virtually disappeared in the Pacific Islands Regiment. It is true that there are some people who make the next objection and say that the Regiment has become a tribe itself and is distinct from the rest of the community. But I have some doubts about the truth of this claim. I think that men of the regiment are being trained in concern for all members of the community. I think the last two commanders of the Regiment may well be amongst the most significant people in the history of Papua and New Guinea if the work that they have done has laid the foundation for the Army in the Territory to be an instrument of unification. But I say that with a query in my mind.
If one considers the question of the physical apparatus of unity - by that I mean transport and communications - the Territory has quite difficult problems. Roads are expensive to cut in jungle and mountain country. Air transport is expensive and is not suited to the carriage of heavy items. Sea communications involve heavy capital outlay for shipping. Not only must we create a nation through an administration not notably enthusiastic about doing so, but we wish to create a sound economy; and we can see this happening only on the basis of foreign ownership. We cannot see a future at the present time for manufacturing industries. The only sort of industries that we can foresee at the moment are the extractive industries - those involving, the removal of minerals, metals and oil. It is unfortunate that throughout the world, and especially in primitive countries, the extractive industries are those which arouse most resentment. The present situation on Bougainville Island is perhaps the first swallow of summer - the first sign that the extraction of minerals can provoke resentment. Not that in my opinion, the local people are sufficiently advanced or sufficiently interested to imagine that they can exploit minerals that lie deep beneath the surface. But somehow or other they believe that what they own is being removed, leaving them only with holes in the ground.
What is more, the tropical agriculture by means of which we can envisage an economy developing for Papua and New Guinea is at the mercy of world markets almost more than any other activity. Lord Boyd Orr, in his memoirs, wrote about his close association with Lord Bruce of Melbourne, a former Prime Minister of Australia. He wrote of how, at international conferences, they worked very hard for a world food plan but suddenly realised that they were up against the steel opposition of Great Britain. Both men were predisposed to regard Britain as the great humanitarian power and they wondered for a long time why they were constantly barking their shins. Then they realised that the Conservatives, Liberals, Labour men, Communists, anarchists and Totskyites in Britain all had one thing in common: They stood for cheap food and cheap raw materials for the United Kingdom. Anything that militated against that common purpose in respect to food planning had the total opposition of Great Britain - and it was very effective and skilful opposition.
If one looks at the cases of Nigeria and Ghana and their dependence on commodities such as Papua and New Guinea produces, one realises an interesting fact: Ghana and Nigeria, within a decade, quadrupled their production of cocoa but received less for it at the end of the decade than at the beginning. They had to run very hard to stand still. I suspect that the cocoa, tea, coffee, rubber and copra produced in Papua and New Guinea will be subject to influences similar to those of which neighbouring Malaysia is complaining in relation to its rubber. The Territory may well find that if it is dependent on crops of this sort it will have to run very hard to stand still.
I think far too much fuss is made about the Pangu Pati. I am not interested in scoring points by saying that those who think most in terms of the coming independence of Papua and New Guinea do not represent the village people or do not represent the highland people. Let us not indulge in the sort of talk that the Belgians used about the Belgian Congo or that the British used at certain stages in history. I doubt whether the Nigerian villagers worked for independence in the same way as did the majority of the Nigerian intellectuals, or those who had an education. This is true of all colonial territories. But the stars in their courses fight on the side of those who work for independence, and at a later stage the inland primitives, as in Nigeria, might make mince meat of their own intellectual leaders. This happened in the Congo where quite a number of the backwoodsmen hated the Lumumbas.
It seems to me that the Pangu Pati is the fine flower of our training. I am not saying this with moral commendation or moral condemnation. Through the parliament of Papua and New Guinea we are training the people in the language of demand. They are demanding more education; they are demanding more health services. When one watches their parliamentary sessions one sees that they are trained in the language of demand. That is what the parliamentary process is about. Its purpose is to put the people’s requests. In a sense, these men are the most articulate in the language of demand and they take it further than the others insofar as they are moving towards independence - although they do not say ‘independence’; they say a form of home rule’ under which they would administer many questions and the big questions of defence and foreign affairs would be left to Australia.
But we cannot complain if they start being critical. If nobody in the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea was critical the whole work of the Australian administration would be highly suspect. I have seen some of the backwoodsmen stand up and speak the praises of Australia, just as it was the conventional thing in this country in the very early days to speak the praises of Britain. But the whole life and future of the community cannot turn on that sort of dependent thinking. The people who are thinking in terms of independence up to that point should be encouraged.
In my opinion the trouble with the Pangu Pati and with Mr Oala-Rarua, for instance, is that it and he do no thinking whatever about how they can create a self-subsisting economy in Papua and New Guinea or how to create a nation. The fallacy in the thinking of members of the Pangu Pati is that they presuppose that somehow or other, even after independence, there always will be ‘over there’ an Australian administration on which they can make demands. The trouble with most of them is that they are not making demands on themselves. The very essence of our personal independence as we grow up, as of our national independence, is that we can make demands on ourselves and not on other people. But in many ways we have encouraged these people, by scholarships and all sorts of other schemes of inducement, to make demands for education, health services and housing.
There is no point in evading the fact that as time goes on there is sharpening discrimination in Papua and New Guinea. That is not to say that we are making a bigger barrier between ourselves and the native people; it is to say that they are becoming more conscious of the differences in economic status. I do not think there is the slightest doubt that many natives are far better off today than they were in 1939. I do not think there is the slightest doubt that today many more natives are conscious of the disparity between their status and income and those of the Europeans than were similarly conscious in 1939. There is no doubt whatever that European housing in Papua and New Guinea is very fine. The homes into which one goes are very gracious. As Port Moresby develops it becomes a magnet for workers and the shanty towns become bigger and bigger and, in my opinion, worse and worse alongside European housing. When I was last in Papua and New Guinea I was housed very graciously at a mess in Konedobu. But I would have to delude myself to think that the people padding past, quietly going to a shanty town that was above that mess, did not look in enviously on the young Australians who were in the very fine dining room in that very fine housing establishment. I do not belittle that; I merely say that there is a growing disparity. I do not think there is the least doubt that there is a growing discontent about that.
Another thing that I wish to say is that surely independence will not necessarily end the Australian involvement. I would hope that for a time independence would make very little difference to the size of our grant or the availability of the Australian labour force in the administration, which is so important for the people of Papua and New Guinea. Just a little while ago the statement was made that we should not make the bureaucrats of the country the privileged people. Let us have a look at our native policy inside Australia in relation to the Aboriginals and the bureaucracy. Will any honourable member here say that he will have the influence on native policy that Harry Giese has? Will any honourable member here say that he will have the influence on native policy that Dr Coombs will have? Let us not kid ourselves. If we can create in Papua and New Guinea an efficient administration that can really administer, then we will have created one of the most important things in national unity.
I am not interested in deriding bureaucrats. I do not kid myself that we in this place are the real government of the country. Periodically the Parliament may overturn a Ministry or the people in an election may overturn a Ministry and thus affect the administration. But surely France was one of the classic examples of a country whose economy was able to advance for a long period while the average life of a government was about 10 weeks. The bureaucracy or administration carried on during a succession of messieurs les ministres who came and went with astonishing rapidity for many years. So I say that if we can create a thoroughly efficient administration in Papua and New Guinea we will have done much towards cementing national unity and making independence possible.
If high salaries induced highly skilled people to go into the administration and really learn the techniques of administration, then I would be all for them. I believe that it is a mistake, under the present policy, to make such a difference between European and native salaries. Whatever Papua and New Guinea can afford in the future is its affair. But as long as we are associated with it, I believe that we should use salaries as an inducement to get the best people into the administration.
I wish to make another comment about the administration of Papua and New Guinea - not about the higher echelons. Let us consider an organisation such as the Post Office. I should very much like to see 200 or 300 young New Guineans and Papuans working in the Post Office in Australia and really getting a proficiency in the English language, which we believe will be the unifying language of an independent Papua and New Guinea, as it is the unifying language of a non-independent Papua and New Guinea. If they worked here for 2 or 3 years in order to gain standards of proficiency, that would be important.
It is also very important to let some of the people of Papua and New Guinea see white men working. I remember that the Lutheran missionaries developed a policy of bringing some of their young men to South Australia to make tours of factories. South Australian Lutherans were running missions in the Territory. The cargo cults arise because the people believe that somehow or other the produce and wealth that the white man commands in the form of goods come about through shuffling paper orthrough administration. Some of the cargo cults have even gone through the ceremonial of pulling up a flag and having a man sitting at a table as a patrol officer does, with people standing on either side of him and saluting. Quite logically from their background of experience, they think that this produces the goods because they see the goods that are associated with Europeans. I believe that these people need to see the actual physical processes of manufacture. It does them no harm to come to Australia and to see that Europeans do “work as well as administer and write. It might be a wise policy in the administration of Papua and New Guinea, especially in services such as the Post Office, for men to come to Australia and have a long period of experience and training.
I have the private view that the Australian administration in Papua and New Guinea should be part of the Commonwealth Public Service. That would stop it getting that expatriate mentality. It would mean that if we wanted technically to transform the telephone system of Papua and New Guinea, shall we say - heaven knows it needs transformation - we would send technicians to the Territory for 3 months or 6 months to do the job, and then they would come back. They would not have to go to the Territory and be part of an expatriate community. Surely there are many, many positions that would be susceptible of this sort of transfer. The only exceptions that I can think of are in the Native Affairs Administration, with people like patrol officers. We do not have officers patrolling Canberra in the way that patrol officers patrol the mountains of Papua and New Guinea, but almost every other occupation there has its equivalent in Australia. We should discourage any idea of the creation of an expatriate community within the Papua and New Guinea civil service.
After independence, sections of the Commonwealth civil service - if the people of Papua and New Guinea want them, and I have not the least doubt that they will - could continue as a force on loan while the Australian administration tapers off. I think that the previously tremendous pressure of outside criticism is diminishing. I know that at the United Nations the representative from Nigeria, for instance, who could not go to many parts of his own country if he were to go back to his homeland, goes through the form of talking about the need for independence, but privately he says, ‘For God’s sake do not make the mistakes that we made in our country’. As the experience of independence in many countries has proved disastrous, a much more reasonable attitude is beginning to show itself in many places. Representatives of some nations still use certain forms of words at the United Nations to show the world their radical credentials, but the content behind these words is diminishing.
I hope that the ministerial members will get real experience. I know that they have not asked for experience in budgeting, but surely honourable members of the Cabinet here must know ‘that one of their most delicate tasks is determining priorities. Fm instance, how much money is the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs to get for activities in that field? How much money is to be allocated to health, to education, to the needs of defence, and to the Vietnam war? Surely the most delicate problem in budgeting is determining priorities and I hope that the ministerial members will be given the maximum experience of real authority in this field, including experience of barking their shins and actually finding that if they want an expanded education programme they will have to accept a reduced health programme, and so on. This seems to me to be essential training for them.
It is a fascinating experiment that is to be carried out, with a Ministry that really does not represent a party. I sometimes wonder whether a situation might develop in which the whole of the House of Assembly would be against the Ministry. If honourable members opposite were not under a party discipline, and if we on this side were not under a party discipline, backbenchers on both sides might say many things about Ministers. I am inclined to think that, in the absence of party discipline, members of the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea will say such things. The Under-Secretaries in that Parliament had rather a sad experience. I think, because many people thought that when they became Under-Secretaries they could produce all the goods required in their own localities. It may well be that with the absence of a developed party system the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea will become very critical of the Ministry, especially if it is given real power.
Another thing that we have to do in Papua and New Guinea is move towards equal electorates. I know that at the present time fears are entertained because the highlands have a large population and the coastal people may be more sophisticated in their demands, but I think all this has to be ignored to some extent, and that we must move away as quickly as possible from the concept of tribal electorates and towards the concept of equal electoral districts. This is part of the process of education in nationhood.
The electoral system, too, is very unsatisfactory. I do not know why we do not go flat out for the system of first past the post, because this is the system that seems to suit the people; the exercise of preferences seems relatively rare. After all, preferential voting is one of our own Australian obsessions. If we had a House full of independents, which in essence is what Papua and New Guinea has, I doubt that we would ever have adopted preferential voting. If honourable members read the original debates of 1920 they will find that people said: ‘Well, preferential voting is the means of eliminating the Labor Party. It means that the Nationalists and the Country Party can combine with one another and leave the Labor Party locked out.’ Surely there is no such motive in Papua and New Guinea. The people there can scarcely be said to represent parties. Even the Pangu Pati can scarcely be called a political party with a mass voice. Its members stand for election essentially as individuals. I suspect that many of them are elected simply as favourite tribal sons, and even the Pangu fellows of most militant character took the precaution of standing for election in their own tribal areas, knowing they would get a tribal vote. In those circumstances I wonder whether we need to thrust on them the complication of preferential voting, which the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand all regard as too complicated for their people.
The measure before us is a step in the right direction, but I wish there were not so many members of the House eager to prove that the people of Papua and New Guinea do not want independence, and that instead they were anxious to find the means of creating a spirit of nationhood in Papua and New Guinea.
Mr DOBIE (Hughes) r5.42T- Those honourable members who have listened to the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) must realise the distress that is felt in the Labor Party as its members try to decide which way they should go with respect to Papua and
New Guinea. We have heard the honourable member for Fremantle give a very fine and deeply considered talk on the problems facing the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Unfortunately, we did not hear such an address from the Leader of the Opposition. Instead, we listened to an uninformed recitation of quotations from other people. I noted that of the many quotations he made he saw fit to cite only one member of his own Party, and that was not the honourable member for Fremantle. At the conclusion of this debate the people of Papua and New Guinea and of Australia could well consider what unity remains in the Labor Party regarding its policy towards the independence of the northern territories. We heard the Leader of the Opposition, with his quaint ability to use cliches, say: What do they know of Papua who only Papua know?’ Well, after listening to the honourable member for 45 minutes perhaps I am permitted to ask: ‘What do they know of Papua whom Papua does not know?’
Today we have heard a speech advocating a progress towards nationhood. There would not be one person in this House who has a concern for the Territory who did not agree with all that the honourable member for Fremantle has said about that. Nationhood, indeed, is a decision which the people of the Territory must make themselves, but I disagree with the honourable member for Fremantle when he describes the lack of enthusiasm which he found in the Territory. This may, indeed, be a relative thing but it is a very important matter when one comes to decide what is dedication, what is enthusiasm and what is sincerity. We would do well to decide whether these three qualities are to be found, and I think we would come out and say that the members of the civil service in the Territory are sincere, are dedicated, and are enthusiastic, within the bounds of its terms of reference.
– Some are.
– I hope that the interjection from the honourable member for Hindmarsh does not presage what he proposes to say as this speech continues. The Leader of the Opposition then went on to say that we should be a responsible householder in New Guinea. I am afraid none of us would agree that the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition could be regarded in any shape or form as being that of a responsible householder. This Government is not interested in window dressing. We are not interested in keeping only the front parlor clean; we are concerned that every corner of the house should be given due consideration.
I was pleased to hear the honourable member for Fremantle denigrate the importance of the Pangu Pati. It might be well for me, in agreeing with him, to cite some figures. It may not be known generally in Australia that eleven known Pangu Pati candidates were successful and that twelve known Pangu Pati candidates were defeated in the recent election. Of the total preliminary votes cast, something like 10% - 170,000 out of 1,700,000 - were for the Pangu Pati. That does not represent a great move towards a party that is crying for immediate home rule, and I think all political commentators should read that into the result.
In rising at this time to speak on the Bill before the House and not on conditions generally in New Guinea, I congratulate the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) for taking a further step along the important road to independence, nationhood, self-government or home rule - call it what you will. Admittedly it is only a transitional measure, and though of only limited authority, it should be noted clearly that it comes in the wake of the recent announcement that the Gorton Government is now committed to a policy on Papua and New Guinea which ‘is to become a self’governing country developed for independence if and when it is clearly demonstrated by the majority of the indigenous people that this is what they wish’. The honourable member for Fremantle and the Government are in accord in that regard.
This legislation is a clear indication that the Government is progressing towards a goal - the timetable is unimportant - and the United Nations Trusteeship Council should take note. As that noted anthropologist, Dr Margaret Mead, said a short time ago, the United Nations seem to be demanding excessive speed in the granting of the Territory’s independence. The fact remains true even today. We must not allow independence for the Territory to come with excessive speed, yet we must continue to make sound progress towards that goal.
There is no denying that the sense of national unity or nationhood continues to grow in the Territory, and no doubt this will continue to progress as the standardised education system develops at the village level. In this regard the important role of radio communication must be given due credit. Even though there may be some difficulty in administering the present dual system of radio communication by both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Administration, I hope that there will be an intensification of educational broadcasts, particularly in view of the fast growing popularity of transistor radios even in the most remote highland and coastal villages.
Those charged with budgetary matters in the Territory must never be allowed to cut back on the cash resources required for broadcasting services. Radios have become basic to every villager, and I hope that we will see a greater demand for funds so that a vastly improved radio network with alternate programmes can be planned and used, not only for the formal education of the Papuans and New Guineans but also for their general education in matters of politics and social welfare. Other countries have realised the importance of radio as a means of education, and it is obvious that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has realised it also for there can be no doubting the popularity and the influence for good of Radio Australia in South East Asia. However, I am afraid that much remains to be done in the Territory and I strongly recommend that when the new House of Assembly meets on 4th June in Port Moresby it gives a lot of consideration to a vastly expanded network of radio broadcasts. This is an area in which we can proceed with greater speed.
In commending the Minister for this new system of seven ministerial members and ten assistant ministerial members I sincerely hope that the progress being made by the multi-racial local governments will not be overlooked for, as I have said in this House before, th;s is the area of government responsibility wherein the real preparation for eventual self-government must be made. Of course the House of
Assembly must develop but. it will be an empty progress if it encourages the education of an elite without, thought for the millions who live in the provinces and who must be educated at the village level if the country is to have a sound’ basis for participation in national and international matters.
The village is all-important. to the Territory.. I am most confident: that anthropological studies will confirm that all* government policies regarding political development and economic progress must have the village as its focal point, Again I would say to the new ministerial, members that they will be doing their country a great service if they insist that studies insocial anthropology must never be hindered, or restricted through lack of funds. Of course there will always be a shortage of skilled and not merely trained anthropologists. It will be a great tragedy for Papua and New Guinea, if there is ever a cut back in. studies of this nature, for untilthere is an awareness of the social background, the social motivations and the tribal behavioural patterns no real progress, can or will be made. After alii, there is. no sense whatsoever in creating: in- the north an independent country with a small elite, cast ia our image. If for no other reason than this - that we should, see that all progress, is. for the greatest possible number with the least possible amount of personal upheaval- we should hasten slowly yet effectively towards independence. As the Minister has said, the’ legislation before theHouse is transitional and, therefore, somewhat, experimental. It must be- tried out tosee whether it will be as effective as is hoped.
At this stage I should like to pay a personal tribute to the Administrator, Mr David Hay. In a very short period he has gained widespread confidence throughout the Territory in what must be regarded as one of the most unenviable and difficult jobs in the Commonwealth Public Service. We are most fortunate to have a man of his calibre to meet the challenge. His role, however, remains something of an enigma and though it has been helped by this legislation, of necessity it will become the more difficult, as his official actions, his statements and his personal conduct will be under the close scrutiny of all political parties in Australia and beyond.
To have granted absolute authority to ministerial members without the requirement of reference to the Administrator would have given an effectual independence to the Territory long before it was properly .prepared to accept such a responsibility, and to have abrogated one’s moral, legal and financial’ responsibility for the sake of political ease would: do the underdeveloped people of the Territory a harm as irreparable- as that done to the African people in the past, decade. The legislation -before the House should be considered in the. context that we cannot walk out of the Territory by giving it independence too soon.
At all times the attitudes of the Papuans and New Guineans must be taken into account. I compliment the Government for having done just that. This legislation, which comes forward as a result of much, research in the field, is well described in the final report of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development issued in June 1967. It is, not the work of back room experts thousands of miles away who prepared what they thought should be brought forward. It is not the work of legal minds turned to. things, political. It is the considered work of Territorians themselves - of the people who will be directly affected by it,, the people who themselves will be called upon to implement it. It has been formulated in the understanding that it will be practical both in its. purpose and in its application.
Today the Leader of the Opposition referred to the opposition from five members of the House. I would like to quote paragraph 5 of the Select Committee’s final report. It states:
Many varying views were submitted: one large sector of the. community was against any change and wanted the present position continued, at least until 1972. A small group put forward’ far reaching recommendations amounting to limited selfgovernment.
It should be noted it was a. small group. The paragraph continues:
The majority maintained an intermediate position. They desired a further step forward so that members of the House could participate more in the government.
That is what this Government has done in this legislation. It should be said that, of those five people who are mentioned in the Press .today, two represented that small group referred to in the paragraph I have read. So they are bringing forward views no different from those they submitted to the Committee last year.
– One was the Chairman of the Select Committee, too.
– Yes, but he may still not have changed his mind.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I had mentioned that the Bill before the House was a most important step along the road to independence in Papua and New Guinea and that the debate had brought to the attention of the House the obviously deep division that confuses the thinking in the Labor Party. We heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) calling for immediate independence and then we heard the real authority on New Guinea in that Party, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) agreeing with the Government that the road to nationhood or independence should not be followed too quickly. It will be of interest to see which direction the remaining Labor speakers take.
The important aspect of our policy in New Guinea is that the desire for nationhood and independence must come from the indigenous people themselves, not from us. We can guide; we can lead; but they must decide. It is of no use members of this House talking about what should have happened 40 or SO years ago. We must face the reality that much that should have been done then was not done and we are now faced with problems that need careful, considered planning, based on such extensive studies as are evident in the legislation before the House. Glib and clever phrases do not solve the housing and social problems of the indigenes around Port Moresby and Lae. Nor do they raise standards of living in villages and hamlets. Nor do they assist in the march of progress towards political maturity. It is not enough to compare India and the Congo with New Guinea. We must have action.
It is well known and appreciated that the indigenous people of the Territory are. anxious to see the Australian Government remain, that they are anxious to see the Australian Government continue its present pattern of progress without paternalism., There would appear to be little open support for the development of an indigenous social or political elite. This can well be, illustrated by the local standing of the members of the House of Assembly. The local councillors and the local and dedicated district officers have a much firmer place in the village economy and social structure and it will take more time to proceed and have members of the Assembly take their rightful place of responsibility and their rightful role of representation.
So it will be with the ministerial members. Precautions must be taken to see that irresponsibility on the part of even one such member does not halt the progress to independence, and I very much regret that five members of the House of Assembly, each of whom could well become a ministerial member, are reported in today’s Press as having interpreted the additional powers of partial veto conferred on the Governor-General as a move in the other direction. It is surely a measure only to ensure that there is no damage to the pattern of progress which this legislation encourages. After all, the Select Committee itself claims that ‘only the people of the Territory should determine their own. political and constitutional future, and that the duty and the responsibility of administering the Territory rests with the Administrator, acting on behalf . of the Australian . Government’. Honourable members will be aware, from the reports we have had of the recent United Nations delegation to New Guinea, that the members of the delegation found from their contacts with the , indigenous people that the people were-‘ first of all concerned with economic development, secondly with the provision of. schools and hospitals, and lastly - in fact ‘, there was very little evidence at all of concern in this respect - with political . progress.
I must say that I agree with the five Assembly members that the duties of the ministerial and assistant ministerial members have not been described in a way that is easy to understand. The second reading speech of the Minister for External Territories goes into a lengthy generalisation of the respective duties of the ministerial members, the Administrator, departmental heads and the Executive Council, and 1 find I am still a little confused as to where specific responsibility will rest. But there can be no confusion about the legislation’s purpose. It clearly means that more responsibility will be in Port Moresby than ever before. Canberra will be so much less important.
I hope that the Minister will be able to visit the Territory a great deal this year. With all this legislative change, the people of Papua and New Guinea will still want to see a lot of him. Furthermore, it is my hope that many more members of both Houses in Canberra will see their way clear to visit the Territory and study the situation at first hand. Far too often members of the Australian Parliament have flown to Port Moresby or Lae for short periods and fried quickly to impose Australian solutions to the local industrial, social, economic and political problems. If only it were this easy. Two members in this House who do not follow this glib approach are the honourable member for Fremantle and the present Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). The people of New Guinea appreciate their breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding of the tremendous challenges in the Territory. Many more people in this Parliament will have to follow their example.
I shall conclude by again commending this progressive legislation and by quoting the Minister for External Territories. He said:
I emphasise the great importance which, in the interests of the future of the people of the Territory, the Government attaches to securing an effective balance between political and economic development and to securing advance in both areas at a rate which will be tolerable … to the people of the Territory who are called upon to make such tremendous and rapid adjustments.
Let us never forget that when we talk of New Guinea and its problems we talk in human terms. I support this Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stewart) adjourned.
– by leave - Honourable members will recall that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) made a statement to the House of Representatives on 4th April, concerning allegations of dumping of Japanese passenger cars and evidence of concerted attempts by the Japanese motor companies to frustrate the investigation. The Minister undertook to inform the House of the progress of the inquiry. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) has today made a statement in another place announcing the outcome of the inquiry.
Protection by the tariff to economic and efficient Australian industry is afforded only after the full procedure of reference to the Tariff Board, public inquiry and statement in the Parliament. Protection on this basis through the tariff is afforded after taking into account comparable imports at fair and reasonable prices. It is to ensure that the prices are fair and reasonable as a basis for determining tariff protection that there are anti-dumping laws.
All countries which rely normally on a tariff to protect their industries have such dumping laws to ensure that tariffs and taxes are not evaded and their industries damaged. Dumping laws are always complex. Basically, the provisions of Australian law ensure that the protection afforded Australian manufacturing industry is not defeated by evasion of duties or taxes or by other unfair trade practices. Provided these conditions of fair competition are met, no dumping duty is applied and the Australian industry relies only on the existing tariff to give it protection.
The inquiry into Japanese cars involved quite lengthy and detailed discussions with representatives of each individual company on both the pricing of those cars for export and the conditions for sale of those cars in Australia in relation to Australian duties and taxes. Throughout the inquiry, representatives of the Japanese Government from Japan were present, and there have been continuing consultations with the Japanese Government.
As a result of this detailed examination, assessments have been made of the pricing and other policies of the importers and manufacturers of Japanese cars and how they would need to be adjusted to conform with Australian legislation. In making these assessments I understand that the Department of Customs and Excise took into account the determination by the Japanese Government of what constitutes the manufacturer’s sale price in Japan of the various cars for its own taxation purposes. The assessments made by the Department of Customs and Excise for cars exported, in the light of the evidence produced by Japanese manufacturers, have been established at price levels which are more liberal than those adopted for tax purposes by the Japanese Government itself.
Nevertheless, the examination has shown that, to avoid the possibility of action under our anti-dumping law, the prices at which virtually the whole range of Japanese passenger cars will be exported in future and sold in Australia will need to rise to conform with our legislation. The increase in retail prices of Japanese cars in Australia necessary to conform with existing levels of tariff varies, of course, from car to car and between Japanese manufacturers. But, to show the significance of these increases in relation to complaints from Australian manufacturers of serious damage to their operations, the retail price rise likely to result would be, for small cars, of the order of $100, rising to $250 for medium sized cars, and more for luxury, lower volume cars.
The Japanese Government has given an assurance that the future pricing policy of the Japanese car manufacturers will be fully in conformity with Australian legislation. This should put a stop to all malpractice. Having regard to our trade relations and the co-operative approach of the Japanese Government itself, taking action to ensure compliance with our laws, and the fact that full adjustments are being made, no further action will be taken, except in some cases where breaches of the Customs Act have occurred. The Minister for Trade and Industry indicated in his earlier statement that, before considering any action to change the existing tariff protection, there should first be an examination of whether there is evasion of present protection. The conclusion to be reached from the outcome of the discussions with the Japanese manufacturers is that this view was fully justified. As a result, the local industry will receive the full measure of existing protection.
I am pleased to announce to the House that this matter has now been resolved in co-operation with the Japanese Government and Japanese industry. With the benefit of established tariff protection based on fair and reasonable prices, Australian cars will now compete as intended with Japanese cars on the Australian market.
– by leave- I do not want anything I say this evening to be intended as personal criticism of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), because I realise that he is not primarily responsible for this matter, and I would expect a more thorough and informative statement to be made to the House at an early opportunity by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). However, having read fairly carefully the statement made by the Minister tonight, it seems to me that it does not inform the House in any substantial way what has happened. I suggest that it is a statement framed not to provide information.
The complaint by the Minister for Trade and Industry a month or more ago was that Japanese manufacturers were deliberately and seriously engaged in malpractices and were infringing the Australian tariff provisions, so that their effective protection of the production of cars in Australia was being substantially destroyed. The Minister for Trade and Industry had intimated that it might be possible to put this right by arrangements to prevent what was called dumping*. He indicated, also, that perhaps additional action would have to be taken.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport, in the statement just made, has told us that, before considering any action to change the. existing tariff protection, there should first be an examination of whether there has been an evasion of effective protection. This has been made. The conclusions to be reached, he says, from the outcome of the discussions with the Japanese manufacturers is that this view was fully justified. As a result,, the local industry will receive a full measure of existing protection. This appears to mean that there have been serious infringements by the Japanese manufacturers, and that the arrangements that have now come about for an increase in the price of Japanese cars in Australia will put this right. But I am not quite sure from the Minister’s statement whether this is the position or not. In his statement the Minister said:
In making these assessments I understand that the Department of Customs and Excise took into account the determination by the Japanese Government of what constitutes the manufacturer’s sale price in Japan of the various cars for its own taxation purposes.
Then came perhaps the most significant sentence in the speech -
The assessments made by the Department of Customs and Excise for cats exported, in the light of the evidence produced by Japanese manufacturers, have been established at price levels which are more liberal than those adopted for tax purposes by the Japanese Government itself.
I have frankly to admit that I do not know what that statement means, but apparently it is the gist of the explanation that the Department is ready to make at this stage about what has happened. The next paragraph of the statement was:
Nevertheless, the examination has shown that, to avoid the possibility of action under our antidumping law, the prices at which virtually the whole range of Japanese passenger cars will be exported in future and sold in Australia will need to rise to conform with our legislation.
The words I have quoted mean that evidence produced by Japanese manufacturers shows that cars were exported to Australia at prices which were either lower than they were sold in Japan or lower than they should have been if the prices covered all costs and profits. Is this what is being said? Or does this extremely abstract and generalised statement mean something else? Does it merely mean that the prices of exported cars were more liberal than those adopted for tax purposes by the Japanese Government itself? If the latter proposition is true, it is no evidence at all of dumping. Was there any malpractice? The Minister suggests it because in his statement he said:
This should put a stop to all malpractice.
It seems to me rather odd that reference should be made to the Japanese Government in respect of taxation. Does the Japanese tax authority concern itself with prices of Japanese motor cars when taxation is being assessed? Or does it - as I would expect - concern itself with profit or income of the companies concerned? My point is: How has this been related to our own law?
Section 154 of our Customs Act 1901-1965 sets out how value for duty is ascertained. It states: (1.) When any duty is imposed according to value, the value for duty shall be the sum of the following: -
the current domestic value of the goods, whichever is the higher; and
Sub-section (2.) of the same section provides:
In the case of goods consigned for sale in Australia the value for duty shall be the amount which would be the value for duty if the goods were at date of exportation sold to an Australian importer instead of being consigned for sale in Australia.
Sub-section (3.) defines the two important concepts - current domestic value and special deduction. It provides:
In this section -
Current domestic value’ means the amount for which the seller of the goods to the purchaser in Australia is selling or would be prepared to sell for cash, at the date of exportation of those goods, the same quantity of identically similar goods to any and every purchaser in the country of export for consumption in that country; and
Special deduction’ means any discount or other deduction allowed to the Australian importer which would not ordinarily have been allowed to any and every purchaser at the date of exportation of an equal quantity of identically similar goods.
I understand that section 154 is the section which determines the value of the duty and how it is to be ascertained. Has the practice adopted by the Japanese manufacturers and exporters been related to this section? How does the practice offend against this section? None of these questions is answered in the Minister’s statement. If we are not to be mere rubber stamps in a procedure that is hidden far back in the recesses of the Department of Trade and Industry, we need to be more concerned about what is going on. The question that I put bluntly to the House is: Have the Japanese manufacturers agreed to increase the price of Japanese cars by from $100 to about $400 each simply to avoid embarrassment to the Australian Government? The explanations that we have been given so far would be quite consistent with nothing more or less than that having happened.
When I last spoke on this matter I had a view that there was more involved in it than the Minister for Trade and Industry had alleged when he made his statement to the House on 4th April this year. I suggested that the mistakes and inefficiencies of the Government’s plan for protection of the Australian industry, particularly the small volume, or small vehicle, section of the plan, had caused much of the trouble that had arisen and that the Government was attempting to hide its mistakes behind a campaign against so called Japanese dumping. If this is true the matter is more serious for the Australian motor car industry than merely an incident of dumping by one set of manufacturers in one nation - an incident that may conceivably have been put right by the arrangement that has been announced tonight. What I ask the House to consider at this stage is whether in the Government’s arrangements for the protection of the Australian motor car industry there existed, now exists and will continue to exist a serious deficiency or defect which increasing the price of Japanese cars by from $100 to about $400 each will not put right. If this is the case I think we are entitled to press the Government a good deal harder for more information. I remind the Government that when I spoke on this subject on 4th April last I referred to a number of matters which have remained unresolved. I said:
The first problem is the scale of production needed to reach the most economic level. General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd produce approximately 200,000 Holden vehicles as part of the total number of larger vehicles that can be sold on the Australian market. The other producers have to share what it left of the market. It is beyond doubt that under plan A there is not room for 10, 9, 7, or 6 producers. Fm a long time motor vehicle producers themselves have been saying that in order to produce economically an output of at least 30,000 vehicles a year is necessary. Therefore you cannot fit into this economy 5, 6, 7, 9 or 10 producers each manufacturing 30,000 vehicles. . . .
That is, either under the large vehicle plan or under the small vehicle plan -
The Fundamental weakness of plan A was that it was impossible to fit into it the number of producers who were trying to fit into it, remembering that at least 30,000 vehicles had to be produced by each one for operations to be economical. That is the first point. I do not care how many dumping procedures the Japanese adopt within the limits of 20,000 or 30,000 vehicles. This other aspect is an economic weakness affecting the whole plan far more fundamental than anything dumping can do.
I think that problem still remains. There is evidence that the small volume plan, which continues in existence, still has in it a fundamental weakness. I do not think that weakness will be rectified by the arrangement for an increase in the price of Japanese vehicles, reached by agreement - a very convenient agreement I should imagine - with the Japanese manufacturers and the Japanese Government. It seems to me that the basis of this change - the allegation of a practice which may be in conflict with section 154 of the Customs Act - has not been established at this stage to the satisfaction of the House.
I do not want to say more on the matter at present. A great deal more could be said. I hope it will not be long before the Government gives the House an opportunity to debate the matter much more fully than we are able to do now or were able to do when the Minister for Trade and Industry made his statement on 4th April last. This is a matter that calls for very close examination. We need to hear a great deal more of what has been happening within the Department of Trade and Industry because I am sure that the Department has not been concerned only with alleged dumping by the Japanese. I would think it impossible for the Department not to be concerned with what seems to me to be a more fundamental deficiency in the Government’s current arrangements for the protection of Australian motor car production.
– I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 1318).
– In the concluding paragraph of his second reading speech delivered on 2nd May the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) said:
The new House of Assembly is to meet in Port Moresby on 4th June next. The Government is anxious to have the necessary amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act made in good time to enable the proposed scheme of administration to start operating at the first meeting so that from the beginning elected members of the new House will be able to play their part in sharing more of the responsibility for government of the Territory, as envisaged in these proposals and in harmony with the views of the people.
The final report of the Select Committee of the Territory House of Assembly on Constitutional Development was presented to the House of Assembly in June 1967. On 26th October 1967 the Minister made a statement in the House in which he said:
The Government accepts the scheme of administration proposed by the Select Committee. It considers the proposed arrangements appropriate for the present stage of development of the Territory. The changes in the form of executive government represent an important step towards self-government.
Because of the time taken in holding elections, the new House of Assembly will not meet until May or June 1968. Amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act will be necessary to give effect to the Government’s acceptance of the Select Committee’s recommendations and it is intended to introduce a Bill during the autumn session for this purpose.
The House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is to meet on 4th June.
On 2nd May of this year, after giving notice of his intention on 26th October 1967, the Minister for External Territories finally brings before this House the proposals that are to be the basis on which the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea will work for the next 4 years. In other words, the Minister gives this Parliament, which is responsible for passing legislation to provide approximately 60% of the total income of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, 7 days to consider the legislation. Yet he and his Department knew from October of last year that these proposals were to be accepted. I personally think that this is an insult to this Parliament and to the people of the Territory.
This Parliament is responsible for appropriating millions of dollars, money collected from Australian taxpayers and which goes to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I am certain that I speak for all members of the Australian Labor Party when I say that I take no objection at all to the amount of money that is being spent in the Territory. But we, most of all, should have had the opportunity to look at the legislation to see what was going to be introduced. We should have been given time to study the basis on which the House of Assembly in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will work for the next 4 years. I feel that if the administration of the Department of External Territories treats this Parliament in this manner it will treat the new Parliament of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in the same manner.
Certain members of the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are reported as having criticised portions of the legislation that is under discussion at the moment. Two previous speakers for the Government, the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) and the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie), have seen fit to criticise the five members of the House of Assembly who signed a statement saying that they objected to certain portions of the legislation now before this House. One honourable member said that the objection came from only five members out of eighty-four members. I want to give to you, Mr Speaker, and to the House the names of those five men and also a short history of those gentlemen.
The first man is Mr John Guise, who was the Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Development in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. He has been a member of the House of Assembly for the last 4 years and was also a member of the Executive Council, or whatever it was called, before that for a number of years. Another is Mr Percy Chatterton, who is the member for the Moresby open electorate. Mr Chatterton was originally a missioner with the London Missionary Society. He has been in the Territory for untold years. He is a responsible man who is recognised as being very close to the people in the Territory. At the last election he proved himself capable of beating none other than Mr J. K. McCarthy, who was an official member of the last House of Assembly. Another man who signed the protest is Mr Tony Voutas of the Morobe regional electorate. Mr Tony Voutas was capable of defeating the present Speaker of the House of Assembly. I say present’ because his duties do not finish until the new Parliament is sworn in.
Another man who signed the document was Mr Oala Oala Rarua. In the recent election he contested a seat in the Central regional electorate against five other candidates and was successful in winning that seat He defeated at least one European who was a member not of the House of Assembly but of the previous House that existed in the Territory.
– Was not he a European?
– Mr Slaughter.
– Was he a European?
– Tony Voutas is a European. The other man who signed the protest is Mr Cecil Abel who represents the Milne Bay regional electorate. In the election that has just been held he defeated four other candidates including Mr John Stuntz, a former member of the House of Assembly and also a member of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Development in the Territory. It ill behoves the honourable member for Deakin and the honourable member for Hughes to criticise these men because they dared to protest about the legislation which has been brought before this Parliament and under which they will be expected to work for the next 4 years.
The Territory of Papua and New Guinea is our responsibility. One part of it has been our responsibility since 1908 and the other part since 1914. It will be our responsibility for some time to come to determine whether the Territory is granted home rule, self government or independence. The introduction of this legislation gives the Australian Parliament and the Australian Government the opportunity to show some initiative and to show that we in this Parliament have learned from our own mistakes and our own shortcomings. But instead of finding something new in this legislation we find that the Minister and his advisers have kept almost slavishly to the recommendations made by the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Development. Not one new idea has been added to the recommendations contained in the final report of that Committee, which was brought down in June of last year. Surely there must be somebody in the Department or in the Administration who can keep a little bit ahead of the people who are being encouraged now to run their own country?
I do not think it is reasonable that we should foist upon the people of the Territory the Westminster system of government. In his second reading speech in introducing this Bill and in his statement on 26th October of last year the Minister gave no indication whether he or his Department intended to encourage the thoughts that were expressed in the final report of the Joint Select Committee, appearing in paragraphs 51 to 54 on page 10 of that report in the chapter headed ‘Conclusion’. These paragraphs read:
Paragraph 53 reads:
Although the Committee has examined long term constitutional matters, including the constitutions of other countries and the relationship between the legislature and the executive in such countries, it has restricted the ambit of its recommendations to matters affecting the 1968 House of Assembly.
Paragraph 54 reads:
In some systems of government the executive is drawn from outside the legislature, while in others, persons occupying ministerial positions must be members of the legislature. The Committee does not see its recommendations as committing the country, or attempting to commit the country to any particular course. In fact, it does not think that a decision as to the system of government best suited to the Territory should be made now. Such a decision will be dependent, to some extent, upon a review after implementation of recommendations in this Report, examined in the light of experience.
There is not one word of encouragement as to whether they can look at that matter. There is not one word of encouragement as to whether a new constitutional committee will be set up.
The Committee states in paragraph 54 that constitutional development is a continuing process and with this I agree. People in a developing country need encouragement. They want a continuing process, but the Minister should see that the process is a little faster than some of the horses that he breeds. I am concerned at this moment that he is keeping pace with his slowest horse instead of such an animal as Dalray Australia must set the pace in the constitutional development of Papua and New Guinea. It is up to our Administration in the Territory and in Australia to come forth with new ideas and to encourage new ideas. Instead of disparaging - as the honourable member for Deakin and the honourable member for Hughes did tonight - the criticisms of this Bill that are made by elected members of the House of Assembly, we should be not merely encouraging these elected members to come forth with their opinions but leading them in many matters.
My opinion is that not a great number of the 94 members of the new House of Assembly, 84 of whom are elected, have had much experience in political affairs. I am reasonably certain that a number have had very little education. I do not think that we have the time or that we can afford to take the risk of just letting them muddle along on their own. They need our assistance. They want our advice. They could be helped in such matters as the forms of their House. I know that you, Mr Speaker, and your department encourage young members of the staff of the House of Assembly of the Territory to come here and examine the forms of this House and learn something about the Westminster system. As I said earlier, I am not tied to the establishment of that system in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
It is up to the Administration in the Territory to see that the new members who enter the House on 4th June are given explanations of the legislation that comes before the House. They need to be given assistance in the preparation of the speeches that they will be making. They need to be shown how to engage in study and research of the items that they are supposed to discuss. Above all, they need encouragement to take part in the debates. I do not know what facilities exist in the House of Assembly but I have been in this Parliament for 15 years and only in the last 2 years have reference and research facilities been made available to the members of this
House. The House of Assembly is a new Parliament that we as Australian and as foster parents have set up. It has taken nearly 65 years for us in this Parliament to get reference and research facilities. Admittedly, we have had a good library but we have not had reference and research facilities. These are a fundamental in a newly forming parliament composed of people without the background that we have. They need these things and we should introduce them now, rather than let these people go on willy-nilly, finding their own way.
The Territory of Papua and New Guinea is our responsibility. I know that the Minister appreciates that point. I know that he tries to do the best that he possibly can. I propose now to make some suggestions that might be new and that might help us as well as the people of the Territory. I do not suggest that all of the new members of the House of Assembly will be interested in these things or will be able to follow them. I suggest that the members should be given an opportunity to learn by having members of the Administration or the university or the technical colleges address them on public relations, public speaking, the history of the Territory, parliamentary procedure, banking, economics and budgetary control. I do not think that this is a difficult task. I am reasonably certain that in a newly emerging country which is working towards home Tule, self government or independence we will find enough of those eighty-four members who are prepared to listen and to learn. I should like to see Australia come out of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea with a reputation that is enhanced rather than sullied. I am afraid that unless we do things of this sort our reputation, no matter how good our intentions have been, will be sullied.
The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) mentioned earlier in the debate the great variations in numbers of voters in electorates. I intend to give some examples because here in Australia we are still arguing about one vote one value. Will we move out of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea leaving a South Australian inheritance of three votes in one area being worth one vote in another area? This to me is not good enough.
I have taken from the ‘Pacific Islands Monthly’ of April 1968 details of the primary count in the last election. In the Bougainville regional electorate 21,844 persons voted. For the information of those people who do not know, let me say that regional electorates are restricted electorates which are open only to persons of or above a certain standard of education. In the Western Highlands regional electorate there were about 110,878 voters. In the Madang regional electorate there are 45,570 voters.
I now turn to open electorates. These are open to any candidate; no qualifications are required. In the Moresby open electorate the vote was 4,451. The election was won by a man who received 2,604 votes. The vote in the South Bougainville open electorate was 11,864. The vote in the Rabaul open electorate was 7,633. I pause here to get the attention of the Australian Country Party members, because they should be in favour of these changes. They claim that the number of people in country electorates should be less than those in city electorates. Unless I am a bad judge, what is happening in New Guinea is that the number of voters in urban electorates is smaller than the number in the rural or highland electorates. Indeed, the number in the rural electorates is much higher. This is something that the Minister and his Country Party colleagues could look at.
Another suggestion I would like to make is that there should be an alteration in the system of voting in Papua and New Guinea. As I understand the position, voting is not compulsory. I do not disagree with this. All that is necessary to make a formal vote, whether there are two candidates or fifteen candidates, is for the voter to put the figure 1 against his choice of candidate. If the voter wishes, he may number his preferences right through the list of candidates and the vote will still be formal. In an election contested by ten candidates a voter may, if he likes, record his preferences from 1 to 5 and the vote will still be forma). This is a hotchpotch system. We should have either a pure preferential system of voting or, as the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) suggested earlier in this debate, a first past the post system.
I read an article in the ‘Pacific Islands Monthly’ in which it was suggested that, because someone could win an election with a majority of 1,900 votes we should not have a first past the post system. If there are eighteen candidates, it is still well and good. If a candidate polls 1,900 votes and the candidate beneath him polls 1,800 votes, then the person who polls the highest number of votes is entitled to win. As I indicated earlier, the successful candidates in the Moresby open electorate received 2,604 votes. Both the candidates in this electorate were Europeans. I repeat that we must have either a straight-out preferential system of voting or a first past the post system. I cannot see anything wrong with a first past the post system.
I also suggest that candidates should use symbols. A study of the figures in the last election shows that there were informal votes in some electorates, particularly in regional electorates. In one regional electorate 8,788 people voted informally. In one open electorate 4 informal votes were cast and in another regional electorate there were 9,493 informal votes. As I have already said, in some of the regional electorates there are about 110,000 voters. Informal votes in another open electorate numbered 13. It seems to me that the number of informal votes is highest in the areas away from the coast - where the people will not go to a whispering vote and will not say they cannot write. They often do not know who the candidate is but they try to fill out their ballot paper. In many cases this is done incorrectly. The use of symbols is a common practice in many underdeveloped countries. I do not think we would lose a thing if we introduced something like this in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
I again stress the point made by the honourable member for Fremantle about the right to enrol either for the area in which a person lives or for the area from which he came. I understand that more than 600 different dialects are spoken in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. There is tribal jealousy, but this is gradually being whittled away in high schools, technical schools, in the Army and in the constabulary. I believe we will perpetuate this jealousy if we give people an opportunity to decide whether they will enrol for the area from which they came or the area in which they live. I cannot see any reason at all for perpetuating these difficulties. I would like to see the people of the Territory united. No matter how much Victorians criticise New South Welshmen, when people from both States move away from Australia they move as Australians. I would like to see such a state of affairs in the Territory.
I have been critical up to this stage, but let me say that I think these improvements are a step in the right direction. I believe that the performance of the House of Assembly should be kept under constant review. The Select Committee on Constitutional Development suggested 2 years as a period of review. I suggest that such a review should be made almost monthly. If we can give more authority to even one ministerial member or one assistant ministerial member we should do so. We must encourage the people of the Territory to take over their own responsibilities. We cannot be their foster parent forever. We need to look after the people of the Territory now and we need to assist them to obtain home rule, self government or independence. But we must encourage them to accept responsibility. The more quickly they accept it the better it will be for Australia. I only hope the next 4 years will bring vast improvements to the people of Papua and New Guinea.
– It seems rather odd for the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) to criticise the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), the Government and the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for accepting the report of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development. The Select Committee comprised predominantly indigenous people. Approximately half of the indigenous people on the Committee were Papuans. As set out in its report of June 1967, the Committee was appointed ‘to consider ways and means of preparing and presenting, and to draft for the consideration of the House, a set of constitutional proposals to serve as a guide for future constitutional development in the Territory*. There were two other minor considerations. Nothing could have been fairer or could have given the Committee more scope. There has been a lot of criticism of the proposals before us. The recommendation to appoint seven members with ministerial responsibility and ten assistant ministers, with an additional standing committee of five members to make budgetary recommendations, is a step in the right direction. This will give the indigenous people experience in self-government. Unless I misinterpreted the observations of the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) and the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) about the five members of the House of Assembly who criticised the acceptance of these recommendations, I believe it was not their right to criticise. But perhaps there is wisdom in the way they put their criticism. The fact that Mr John Guise, who was the Chairman of the Committee, chose to criticise the decisions of the Committee was rather odd. The ‘South Pacific Post’, which is printed in Port Moresby, is a newspaper that is by no means free from criticism of the Administration. It published a leading article on Monday, 6th May dealing with amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act. Although, it is a rather long article, I will read it all as I would not like it to be thought that certain points that are emphasised are out context. It is as follows:
Amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act presented to the Australian Parliament last week should result in more prestige and authority for the House of Assembly. The appointment of seven ministerial members and up to ten assistant ministerial members will be a major step in the development of ministerial government in the Territory. The seven ministerial members, together with three official members, will form the Administrator’s Executive Council.
The amendments also provide that the Administrator can nominate an additional elected member of the House to serve on the Council even though the member was not a ministerial member.
When introducing these amendments the Minister for External Territories, Mr Barnes, said: ‘In matters of budget policy and planning, the Council will have the final responsibility in the Territory for advising the Administrator.’
The success of this measure will depend to a great extent on the calibre of the members chosen by a five-man nomination committee when the House meets on June 4. But intellectual attainments and previous experience should not be the only criterion used to select ministerial members.
Because this measure is designed to help train Papuans and New Guineans in ministerial government, the choice should also be made with an eye to the future. This will mean blending experience with potential in the final choice. But it is important that the nomination committee should know that all members are available for appointment as ministerial members.
It would be a tragedy if this measure were subverted by suitable members rejecting or boycotting appointment as ministerial members, whether it be for fear of their political survival or for party reasons. This is a responsibility that should not be dodged by any elected member.
At the same time the success of the measure will also depend on the degree of co-operation the ministerial members receive from their department heads. The ministerial members are entitled to expect full co-operation from all the staff of their departments.
I think that article speaks for itself. I arn quite certain that a lot of people who visit Papua and New Guinea misunderstand the situation because they visit only Port Moresby, Lae and Rabaul. The fact is overlooked that half of the population of the Territory live in the Highlands. These people had never seen a European until Taylor and Leahy went into the Wahgi Valley in 1934 and a large percentage had never seen a European until after World War 11. In fact, until Jim Sinclair and his assistant, whose name escapes me at the moment, took patrols into the Southern Highlands in 1956, there were large numbers of indigenous people who had never seen a European. That is only 12 years ago.
– They did not miss much.
– No, they may not have missed much in the case of certain people, and 1 will not be disrespectful and say at whom 1 am looking. The progress that has been made in the last generation is a great credit to Australia. When people criticise the progress that has been made and criticise the fact that this Bill does not go far enough towards giving the people of Papua and New Guinea selfgovernment. I am certain that they are expressing views that cannot be based on a full understanding of the situation in Papua and New Guinea. The complete contrast between the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) was most notable. As usual, the honourable member for Fremantle made a very good and enlightened contribution to the debate, but I wonder whether he may be in the category of those to whom I am referring and perhaps not have the wide knowledge of the village people that he perhaps should have. Some of the statements that he made led me to suspect that that is the position. The village is the focal point in New Guinea life.
It was well put by the honourable member for Hughes when he said that the thing that has enabled the indigenous people to make great strides and develop better understanding of governmental systems is local government. There are 86 councils in Papua and New Guinea at the present time and 32 of them are entirely administered by indigenous people. That is a great tribute to our Administration and anybody who reflects on the sincerity, ability and dedication of the people in the Administration - and I say this unhesitatingly - speaks without a wide or a close knowledge of them. Anybody who has lived with the indigenous people in the outer areas understands their ways and knows that they are men and women of high calibre.
The fact that there are more than 600 dialects spoken in Papua and New Guinea is a great handicap in getting understanding between the native peoples. Education is the quickest way that we can achieve understanding and great strides have been made in this field so far. After all, these people virtually have come from the stone age to the atomic age in a short space of time. Anybody who has seen the teachers college at Goroka for instance, will appreciate the efforts being made to educate these people, particularly to teach them the English language. Those who have been in the remote areas of Papua and New Guinea will appreciate the difficulties that are being faced and will realise that great progress is being made with the facilities that are available. In passing I pay a tribute to many of our mission schools for their fine efforts in this regard. They are making a great impact in the Territory and are doing a tremendous amount of good.
The Highland people are basically very different people from the coastal people. Unfortunately they have an inherited fear and distrust of coastal people. Another unfortunate mistake that people make is to think that the coastal people and the Highlanders in New Guinea are alike. They are not. This fear and distrust of the coastal people by the Highlanders Ls something that cannot be overcome quickly; it has to be done gradually, lt will best be achieved by the education of these people. Mention was made today - I think by the honourable member for Fremantle - of the Pacific Islands Regiment. Army service is a great method of integrating these people.
The raising and lowering of the flag in Army units is about the only thing that is done all over New Guinea every day. Army service is also a medium for broadening their education, particularly in technical and mechanical fields.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the economic situation in Papua and New Guinea. His reasoning was most difficult to understand. He said that all investors who put money into New Guinea took more money out than they put in. That is one statement which is not founded on fact. In any case, as was well said by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman), how can money be invested anywhere for development unless a degree of profit is obtained? This is extremely dangerous talk. It is the sort of talk which leads to the proposition of requiring insurance against capital in case it is lost. I have referred to two instances previously in this House and I shall refer to them again. The first concerns a man who had reached nearly 60 years of age when he was able to retire. He invested large sums of money in what is now one of the most magnificent tea plantations in the world. His name is Mr Ivo Manton. He went to New Guinea and bought 1,000 acres of land which was a swamp.
– He bought it?
– He bought the lease of it.
– How much did he pay?
– Let me digress for a moment. The Administration will allow people to buy only a lease of land, not the alienation, only if it is quite satisfied that the natives will never want the land. There are many instances, particularly in the highlands, where the Administration has prevented people from buying land because it believed that in the foreseeable future the land may be of some use to the natives. But returning to the tea plantation, at the present time there are 1,100 acres of tea coming into production on this plantation. The tea is being treated in one of the most up to date and largest factories in the world. It is giving employment to hundreds of indigenous people and is providing them with excellent working conditions.
The other instance to which 1 have referred many times relates to the development of a cattle property in the Leron Plains. This cattle station was developed on an area on which, according to the memories of Europeans, there had never been a native farm or a native garden or a native village. The land was taken up in 1960 at a competitive tender by the Bulolo Gold Dredging Co. Today there are 5,000 cattle on that property.
– Was the land taken up. at 6d per acre?
– It was taken up on a 50-year lease at £1 per acre. The land has been developed. The company had an opportunity of putting capital into properties in Queensland, but it expressed the wish to develop this area in the Leron Plains in order to provide better conditions for its employees in the Bulolo mill.
– It was already developed. It was a’ Commonwealth experimental station.
– The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) is making a deliberate misstatement. It was an open area and it was completely undeveloped. The honourable member does not know what he is talking about. The area to which he is referring might be up the river. This land was covered with kunai grass. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) very rightly drew the attention of the House to the difference between independence and nationhood. There is a very big difference between the two. In another speech the honourable member referred to the revival of the Japanese commercial interests since the second World War and he said that the Japanese could handle the economic problems because they were trained. No nation can succeed with political independence unless it has economic viability. It is interesting to note that the criticism levelled at Australia, that we are not moving rapidly enough towards granting New Guineans and Papuans complete independence, comes mainly from the African nations in the United Nations. These nations have become independent in the last generation, but only two of them have governments which have any semblance of democracy. These nations are not capable of doing what they suggest we should do in Papua and New Guinea.
I consider that the personal and vicious criticisms which were levelled by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) at the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) were most unbecoming and unconvincing. As a matter of fact, the Leader of the Opposition rather reminds me of the boundary rider who, after being bucked off his horse, would not get on again because he could not trust anybody else to hold the horse. I think that what we are asking Papua and New Guinea to put into operation is a very good experiment. It is difficult to know how it will work. It is certainly right and proper that it should be tried. Whether the people in Papua and New Guinea are quite sophisticated enough to understand its full implications and to put it into operation remains to be seen. I commend the Minister and the Government on the action that is being taken in this Bill.
– What a fine old square is the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong). Everything is all right in the world as long as the people in Papua and New Guinea know their place and as long as the honourable member’s friends who have tea plantations in Papua and New Guinea become the most prosperous people in the world. While the honourable member for Riverina has demonstrated his integrity and sincerity in a lot of fields, including Papua and New Guinea, I think that the fact that he approached this matter with extreme conservatism is indicative of the whole Governmental approach of the last IS to 20 years. Our policy towards Papua and New Guinea is in a state of drift. I am not confident that the Government knows where it is going.
– Do you?
– I do not know where the Government is going. I have been watching for 12 years and it is very hard to follow. It is not hard to keep in front of the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) in most matters. When you are trying to predict - and, after all, that is what we are doing - you have to face up to some problems. Honourable members opposite use many cliches which are relevant in Papua New Guinea but they are not relevant here. For instance, the honourable member for Riverina said that one of the problems of the people of Papua New Guinea is that the coast dwellers fear the mountain dwellers, or vice versa, and that we ought to try to remove this fear in some way or another. Fancy any honourable member on the Government side talking about fear when honourable members opposite have spent 20 years developing political and external policies out of a phony fear system. I think this is the problem. Whilst, for some astonishing reason, we have taken more steps towards democracy in Papua and New Guinea than in Australia, the fact that I do not think many supporters of the governing parties have any real sensitivity towards parliamentary democracy. One has only to see the way in which they conduct the affairs of parliaments in this country, the way in which electorates are handled and the way in which legislative councils are retained to preserve the conservative interests of the past to realise that it is a stroke of good fortune that some of the beginnings of the parliamentary system in Papua New Guinea are steps towards real democracy.
I have a great deal of respect for what has been done in Papua and New Guinea. It is a great credit to the people who have carried out this work, particularly the young men who have gone out into the mountains of Papua and New Guinea and have carried messages about all sorts of things around that country. The fact that when a person is murdered in a remote mountain fastness there is some guarantee that the people who have perpetrated the crime will be caught and brought to justice reflects great credit upon the people who have done and are doing a job in Papua and New Guinea. I will not say that the Government is frustrating progress in Papua and New Guinea at every stage, but it is not showing enough initiative in a number of fields, particularly political development. This, I believe, applies particularly to political development. It is my belief that political development is the basis from which all other development flows. I think we have become shackled by our own history and are now operating out of step with history elsewhere. If we turn back the pages of our own history we see how we stepped from a convict settlement in 1788 to representative and responsible democracy in 1850 or thereabouts and we see the various steps that we took along the way. lt appears almost that there is a guide book about this entitled ‘Democracies and How to Develop Them’, prepared by the Australian Country Party. We started with advisory councils and legislative councils. Then, after a very few tentative steps, we put a few elected people on those bodies. They then asked for further advice and later for elections and so on.
Most of the things that have been done in the last 12 years in the political development of Papua and New Guinea could have been done and, I believe, should have been done 10 or 12 years ago. This is my principal complaint. I join issue with honourable members opposite who spend a fair amount of time on occasions such as this in claiming that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) has said this and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has said that. I think it will be found that both these honourable gentlemen have offered very sharp criticism of the Government on this occasion. Although the honourable member for Fremantle might have made his remarks sound as if they were not so critical, a study of his speech will show that he has a strongly critical attitude towards the position in Papua and New Guinea, as indeed has the Leader of the Opposition.
We on this side of the House are asking the Parliament and the people of Australia to take a good, sharp look at what is their most important trusteeship - the development of a new democracy and a new nation so close to us. I am not even sure that we know what we mean when we use so many of the usual terms. What do we mean by ‘independence’? Do we mean that people in Papua and New Guinea have to be isolated from the rest of the world or do we mean that they should have some system of co-operation with the rest of us? Do we mean that they are to have self rule in some matters but not in others? In fact our consideration of these points ends up in another area of cliches in which we are not very sure about what machinery we are trying to set up. It is all right to develop some kind of independence. As the honourable member for Riverina has said, it is important that Papua and New Guinea should have commercial and financial viability. I think that is the term be used. We must see that we do not inflict political independence on the people of the Territory but shackle them with all sorts of dependence in other respects. Political independence is not so easy to get if we continue to use a paternalistic system and make it sound as if a Papuan or a New Guinean cannot have the kind of executive authority which would allow him to make mistakes. Good heavens, the governments of Australia have perpetrated enough mistakes; yet Australia survives - and, in a certain measure, prospers.
We must see that Papua and New Guinea does not become afflicted with cartelism, with powerful economic groups which will make it impossible for these people to handle the situation in which they find themselves. For instance, I would regard it as disastrous to allow the oil companies into the Territory in a big way to develop oil deposits. That would be very good for the oil companies but would create a situation which the people there would find it almost impossible to handle. It is my belief that the shipping companies already have the Territory by the throat and I am not so sure that the airlines - even the Australian owned one - are operating with a proper respect for the rights of the people in Papua and New Guinea. I have not checked the figures lately, but when I looked at the airline timetables last and worked out the fare per mile I found that it cost twice as much per mile to fly across the Coral Sea as it costs to fly across Bass Strait. It costs three or four times as much for a telephone call from Port Moresby to the mainland as it does for a call from, say, Cairns to Perth, which is about seven or eight times as far.
In many respects we are inflicting on the community in Papua and New Guinea all kinds of commercial and financial moves which should not be tolerated. So when we talk about independence for the Territory we have to think of developments over the whole field - political, economic and strategic. What are we doing about strategic developments? Are we thinking of any continuing relationship with the people of Indonesia, for instance? For a long while I have thought that if we are bending our eyes towards the future strategic safety of Papua and New Guinea we should be trying with Indonesia to develop some demilitarised zone between West Irian and Papua and New Guinea. I know that the pessimists opposite say that this is an impossibility, but if they look at history from about 1812 on and consider the situation between Britain and Canada, they will remember that at that time there were very great hostilities and enmities between those two countries. But consider how the situation later developed. The same applied between Sweden and Norway back in about 190S. I believe the same applied in the Balkans in about 19X2. There is a lack of imagination and a completely cautious and conservative approach to this problem which will shackle the people more in the future than will any errors we might make.
Somehow we must give some social independence to the people in the Territory. They must learn not to look upon anybody else as superior. I know from my own relationships with people who have come from there that they are developing what might be called a certain self reliance of spirit, but there is no doubt that in many areas they have not what might be called the cultural independence necessary to develop a viable society. How many local daily newspapers are printed for a population of 2 million people? How many television stations are operating in the Territory? I believe that an examination would reveal a nil return in most fields such as these. It is terribly important that the people be given some sense of their own culture.
As for the future of Australia’s relationships with Papua and New Guinea, no-one can tell what that will be. We live in a changing world - a world of co-operation rather than coercion, a world in which nations are getting together and cooperating in an unbelievable fashion. I should like to cite the instance of my own life. I was born on the day on which the First World War started between the French and the Germans. I grew to manhood at a time when they were at war again. In our own time, however, we have seen the barriers between France and Germany falling down. One has only to go to Europe for a little while to see the tremendous area of cooperation between people who, in our lifetime, have been at one another’s throats. I would say this about our position in Papua and New Guinea: We have made a serious error in isolating so much of the Territory from Australia. It is much easier to go from Australia to other parts of the world than it is to go to Papua and New Guinea. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) might do something about making freedom of travel between our two countries more of a possibility. The high cost of accommodation and other expenses on the island prevent this. It must be remembered also that this is a two-way traffic. The same thing could apply to trade. We might have trade relationships of a completely different order from those we have with the rest of the world. There are other areas of mutual action.
For too long we have thought of government as being a coercive influence; that it is not possible for people to co-operate without some centralised political power. 1 happen to have a centralised attitude towards the development of the Australian society, i think that on the whole the Federal system in this country leaves a lot to be desired, although I believe that in other ways a pluralist society is perhaps desirable. But in fact there is no need for us to have the same government for the two countries to co-operate closely. There are areas of developing co-operation between ourselves and New Zealand, for instance. It might be desirable to work out some integrated postal system with the Territory. Certainly the airlines could be integrated. In all these ways we could bring the two countries closer. One has only to travel briefly internationally to see a tremendous area of co-operation between what appear to be competing airlines. Qantas Airways Ltd, the British Overseas Airways Corporation and Air India Ltd run a completely integrated system of services to Australia. So 1 hope that we shall turn our minds towards the ways in which cooperation can develop.
Let us forget about the cliches concerning a seventh State and the like. In the long run of history we are going to find some system of co-operation, and the quicker we set out on such a path the better it will be. What will be the shape of the parliament which we propose to develop in Papua and New Guinea by means of this Bill? Will it be the kind of parliament that the people of the Territory want? Are we inflicting upon them, as some of my Territory friends might have suggested, an over-sophisticated system of parliament, or are we inflicting upon them some of the continuing errors of our own past with which we have been inflicted in our Australian Parliament? We must remember that Parliament is the product of evolution. No-one sat under the oak trees 700 or 800 years ago and said: ‘Let us work this out’, ending up with Standing Order S3, or whatever it is that sometimes silences free speech in this place. The king wanted money; so he called people together. He ended up with a bicameral system. Then over the period from about 1600 until the late 18th century there was a transfer of power from the monarch to the parliament, and in the last 200 years we have seen the continuing development of cabinet government. I suppose that we can expect cabinets, ministries, opposition and parties to develop in the near future in Papua and New Guinea.
One of the most important stabilising factors in a political system appears to me to be the development of a trade union movement. One of the problems in Greece is that there is no trade union movement. It is not an industrialised community. There is no integrating force throughout the community. Honourable members opposite, who make great play of the dangers and difficulties that trade unions create, should pay a little more respect to the fact that one of the great stabilising influences in western European democracies is that there has been one body of countervailing power against authoritarian government. Until Papua and New Guinea achieves some industrial capacity and has groups of people who can co-operate in this way, an effective people’s party will not get off the ground. It may be possible to develop Papua and New Guinea without a trade union movement, but I can think of no instance in the history of the last two centuries in which development has been successful without a trade union movement. I must admit that there are successful and useful Socialist parties in countries without an industrial basis - for instance, in Malagasy, where the Socialist party gets a 90% vote; a very commendable political effort. We have to think of some of these things and make sure that we do not inflict upon Papua and New Guinea some of the habits that we have developed here. It is an unfortunate mischance of history that we inherited so much tradition without what one might term serious consideration of what it means.
For instance, are we to inflict on the people of Papua and New Guinea a cabinet government system of the sort that we have here, where the cabinet pays little respect at all to the way in which the Parliament thinks and pays no attention at all to the debates? Cabinet members do not attend debates in the House. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) is present at the moment and is as lonely as a cloud. The honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) is supporting the Liberal Party of Australia on his own lonely shoulders. I must apologise - the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp) and the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), both capable of being democratic on occasions, are present also. Let us take one of the things with which we are so consistently afflicted in this place - the inability of the Parliament to pass, on the initiative of honourable members, any resolution for raising revenue. Where does this all originate? It was initiated in 1713 in the British Parliament in the following terms:
That this House will receive no petition for any sum relating to the public service or proceed upon any motion for a grant or charge upon the public revenue whether payable out of the Consolidated Fund or out of the money provided by Parliament, unless recommended by the Crown.
That is the doctrine of the financial initiative of the Crown, in other words the financial stranglehold of the Treasury Department, going back to 1713. We accept it uncritically. I do not like that proviso in our Standing Orders, but there seems to be very little that one can do about it. Honourable members on the Government side of the House, in particular, are very conservative in their approach to this matter.
For instance there is the question of the selection of Ministers in the Territorial Parliament. Some study has been made of the subject. The Select Committee on Constitutional Development is setting up a committee to elect, select or nominate Ministers. It is miraculous that there is even a suggestion that Ministers should be selected by somebody other than the Administrator. We operate on an authoritarian system here where one Government party selects its leader and then he has an absolute, unchallenged authority in this matter. The Australian Labor Party about 50 or 60 years ago - I believe it was in 1905 - took the step towards having . the Party elect its ministries. This was a dramatic change from the British system. When I speak to colleagues from Britain, both Labor and Conservative, they are astonished at what they regard as this monumental aberration, whereby the Prime Minister is not permitted to select his Cabinet, but has it foisted upon him by an elective system. I believe that procedure is a logical development of the parliamentary system. I can see no reason why the Territorial Ministers should not be elected by the body of the Parliament. I do not have the same lack of faith in the commonsense of ordinary people simply because they happen to be illiterate in our sense. Literacy is a product of the printing press. Millions of intellectual and culturally minded people up until the 15th or 16th century could not read or write. There was nothing to read or write. Kings of England were quite illiterate in our sense.
– Order! I would remind the honourable member of the heading of the Bill.
– I am astonished that this matter of literacy is not quite clear, because all this afternoon we heard discussions about the construction of the Ministry, suggestions that there were people there who were illiterate and who could not be Ministers, and discussions on the form of selection of Ministers. Surely to goodness the question of whether illiteracy is or is not a qualification for government is before the House at the moment. The whole structure of the Territorial Parliament :s before the House at this moment. We have to get rid of the idea that literacy, in the sense in which we think of it, is one of the necessary qualifications. It is a desirable qualification in this day and age. It is a serious reflection upon the way we have conducted our trusteeship in the past that people who are illiterate are being elected to the Parliament But we have to put up with it and so will the people of Papua and New Guinea.
In the few moments that I have left, by agreement with my friends opposite, I wish to illustrate some disadvantages that we have inflicted upon the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea. One of the serious disadvantages is the size of the electorates. There can be no justification for unequal electorates. Unequal electorates will inflict upon the people of Papua and New Guinea the same system that bogged down the British House of Commons for two or three centuries, that strangled the Parliament in South Australia and that is strangling the one in Victoria at the moment. Another disadvantage is the question of preferential voting that has been raised here. On behalf of the members of the Parliament in Papua and New Guinea I would raise my voice about their salaries. I believe I am correct in saying that $2,500 is still the basic salary. I believe that that is completely inadequate. I know that in the cash society there, $2,500 probably is well above the average income. But they have to live in the same context as we do. I believe that it is terribly important that members of Parliament in Papua and New Guinea have adequate resources placed at their disposal. They should have freedom of travel around the island in the same way as we have freedom of travel around Australia. One of the great advantages of the Australian parliamentary system is that honourable members have had freedom of travel by public transport - in the first instance by rail and now by air and other methods - almost since the beginning of representative government here. I believe that this is a principle that we could pass on to the society in Papua and New Guinea. I think it is terribly important that the member should be able to probe, pry and scrutinise into the furthermost part of his dominion. Only by this means will he step into the Parliament with an adequate knowledge and understanding of what goes on.
These, then, are some of the things that we have to do for them and in their fight against parochialism, tribalism, pocket boroughs and executive government they will do better if they have adequate resources at their disposal and if we have enough faith in them to allow them to make mistakes. The Westminster system has failed in some places. I suppose it has failed in Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan and Burma for the time being, but it has succeeded in India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan. I believe that, with modifications, the kind of parliamentary system that we have developed here does answer many of the problems of operating a modem, complex and democratic society. I know that honourable members on this side of the House, as indeed every member of the House, wishes the people of Papua and New Guinea well. I only hope that in this part of the world we are able to show that it is possible to develop a continuing and a co-operating relationship with people with a different culture and a different background and that here in this part of the world we can show that people can develop towards nationhood, co-operating internationally and developing a sound society on parliamentary and democratic lines.
– I think that the main purpose of the Bill is clearly defined in the opening remarks of the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes). The Minister said:
The main purpose of the Bill is to make provision in the Papua and New Guinea Act for further steps in the constitutional development of Papua and New Guinea in harmony with the recommendations of the third report of the Select Committee of the Territory House of Assembly on Constitutional Development.
What we are doing is adopting the report, something which the Territory Parliament brought down and said that it would tike. I was rather amazed that some of the newly elected members of that Parliament should have protested about this report. I do not think they are in a good position, to protest because they were not in the Parliament when the Committee was formed. I hope this is not the forerunner of similar things to come and that these people will act fairly towards Papua and New Guinea. We attend this Parliament to work along democratic lines. We believe in democracy and our purpose is to act for the majority of the people. Members are elected to Parliament by a majority of voters and we are here to do what they require.
The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong) pointed out that half the population of Papua and New Guinea lives in the highlands. What are we to do? Are we to be influenced by a small elite, a minority who say: ‘This is what has to be done’. That is not the way to run any country. The Minister for External Territories, the Government and its predecessors have had great difficulty in determining what is best to do for Papua and New Guinea. Its population of over two million people speaks about 700 different languages. Some people live on the coastal plains and some live thousands of feet above sea level in areas where it is impossible to lay a landing strip for aircraft. Some inhabitated areas can be reached only after a 6 weeks walk. Events are moving fast. I give credit to the Minister and the Government for the steps they have taken. Honourable members have heard from a previous speaker in this debate that there are not enough newspapers in the Territory. Even if four daily newspapers were printed it would be impossible to circulate them.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission does a marvellous job in Papua and New Guinea. At 6 a.m. and twice more during the day broadcasts are made in English, Pidgin and Motu. The people listen intently to such broadcasts and they are a great credit to the staff of the ABC. The broadcasts in Pidgin and Motu are particularly effective. The people in the Port Moresby area are informed in Motu of what has happened in Rabaul; the people in Rabaul are told in Pidgin of the events in Port Moresby. Everything possible is done to get the message across.
When in New Guinea I found that the people there do not fully understand the meaning of independence. If they are told, When you get independence, we will go and this country will be yours’, they are astounded. In the last 30 years T have visited most parts of Papua and New Guinea and have met the people there. They are astonished when they realise that with independence they will be left on their own. They say: ‘We do not want it.’ Some of the intellectual New Guineans who are fomenting trouble should have another think. I have said before in this chamber that I hope the University of Papua and New Guinea, situated in Port Moresby, is not to become a breeding ground of demonstrators who will upset the people. If that happens, a lot of trouble will be caused in the area.
In yesterday’s Brisbane ‘Courier Mail’ a report appeared of an address by Mr R. M. S. Hamilton, a lecturer in government at the Queensland University. The report, headed ‘Warning on New Guinea self-rule’, stated:
The tragedies of the Congo would be a ‘Sunday afternoon picnic’ compared to what could happen in Papua-New Guinea if the islands were given independence too early, Mr Hamilton said last night. Mr Hamilton spent 2 months in PapuaNew Guinea studying the recent elections. He said the present plan seems to be to grant independence within 10 years. This is far too soon. Ten years ago the natives were dependent on tribal government’, he said. Mr Hamilton was speaking to about thirty members of the United Nations Association.
This morning in this chamber a question was asked about the wages paid to New Guinean seamen on the Swedish ship Delos’. It was stated that the New Guinean crewmen were receiving wages of $6 a week. That astounded some people. Many people believe that that wage is far too low. I have studied the latest report on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for 1966-67, which was issued today. At page 338 a table of wages in the Territory is set out. The wages are low, but it should be remembered that wages must be paid in accordance with the ability of a country to pay them.
The future of Papuans and New Guineans depends on their ability to sell their products on the world’s markets. Most of their tropical produce is sold in the United Kingdom or on other European markets. If the wages paid in Papua and New Guinea are higher than the wages paid in Malaysia I do not believe that any merchant will say: ‘Just for the fun of it I will steam my ship another 4,000 miles to Papua and New Guinea to load produce and steam another 4,000 miles back before 1 start my journey to the United Kingdom, and pay more for that produce in Papua and New Guinea than I would pay in tropical countries closer to the markets in the United Kingdom’. When wages in Papua and New Guinea are equal to those paid in tropical countries nearer to the European markets the people, in the Territory will be in for a very hard time. That stands to reason. We must ensure that they understand these factors.
It was said earlier today that wages of $6 a week are far too low. I believe in payment of good wages for a good day’s work. A wage of $6 a week for New Guinean seamen is in line with the wages paid in the Territory. Today in Melbourne radio sessions ‘Talk back’ and ‘Let us know your troubles’ - or some title like that - a lot of people expressed astonishment at a wage of $6 a week. The report on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for 1966-67 shows at page 338 that a coconut plantation worker receives each week between $3.50 and $5, or a weekly average of $4. His provisions are found and he is provided with accommodation; they are conditions similar to those applying to seamen. A New Guinean seaman on the ‘Delos’ said that his wages are $6 a week and that seamen from Papua and New Guinea have replaced Chinese seamen. I am very glad that that has happened because I want to see these people employed more and more. As time passes undoubtedly their wages will rise, as will the wages of plantation workers. But this trend must be watched because the products of the Territory could be priced out of the European markets.
According to the reports from which I am quoting 843 registered seamen are known to be employed in Papua and New Guinea. The figures start off with forty-two persons employed at a rate of $3.50 a week. The highest paid is a man who receives between $25 and $27. There are eighty-nine persons who are receiving ‘between $9 and $9.50 a week. For some time there has been a training scheme for seamen in Port Moresby. 1 saw a report not so long ago which stated that Papuans and New Guineans will be signing articles and will be properly looked after in the same way as are seamen employed on the international trade routes. But at the present time the Territory is unable to pay larger sums than are now being paid. If the unions say that these seamen are not to be employed and if they place a black ban on a ship that comes here with a Papuan or New Guinean crew, this will not help those people one iota. We have to encourage these people to learn their business at sea so that more of them can do this work.
We know that the ‘Bulolo’ went off the run recently. We also know that if Papuans and New Guineans had been substituted for the white crew it would have been cheaper to run the ship. But everybody knew that if this happened the ship would not be worked in Australia. So the owners had no option but to put the vessel up for sale, and put it up for sale they did. When Mr Nolan, the Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Seamen’s Union, brought this matter up this morning he was within his rights. T know that he fears this could mean the breaking down of wages. But it would not really be a breaking down of wages for these people because in the main, although they are getting only $6 a week, they are earning more than some of the people in Papua and New Guinea. I hope that this will be understood by those who write and speak to the broadcasting people about this matter.
I heard the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) speak about the postal workers in Papua and New Guinea. He said that they should come down to Australia to see what is going on here. I was agreeably surprised to see the local people in Port Moresby and Lae. where there are big post offices, using the same system as is used here. They keep the same set of books. Letters are registered in the same way. Exactly the same system is operated and the people there are working just as efficiently as are our postal workers in Australia. I fail to see what these postal workers could learn by coming down here except to see other facets of this country.
I congratulate the Minister for External Territories upon introducing this Bill. Things are going well in Papua and New Guinea. The right policy for these people is” that they should get their independence or nationhood - call it what you will - when they want it It would be wrong for us to force them along to independence at a set time. They will say when they want independence. A lot of them realise that they have never been as well off as they are now. People in the highlands are saving a lot of money. I was there about a fortnight ago with Mr Monk of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. He was surprised when he found out just how affluent the people are. It is well to remember that in Papua and New Guinea there is no poverty. It is a very rich country. If anybody wants a feed he just has to go out and til! the soil and within a few weeks he will have a subsistence crop. That is what some of them do.
These people are not being brought up the way we are, thank goodness, although the time payment system and such things are beginning to creep in. I hope that sort of thing will be kept out of the Territory as much as possible. One thing that rather amuses me is that we are teaching the people, especially the women, to cover themselves. One now sees them getting round in dresses from neck to knee. Women in Australia are doing the opposite. It will not be very long before our women will be going about in the Territory with topless dresses and the local people will be looking at them and saying: ‘What on earth is this?’ We should leave the people of the Territory to work things out for themselves. I wish them well. I wish the Minister well. If he, does not know about it, I would like to tell him that although I have heard some pretty tough remarks said about him in Australia this is not the general thought of the people in the Territory.
Mr HOLTEN (Indi) r9.56]- -I want to make a brief contribution to this debate. There were two or three topics to which I was going to refer but they have been pretty well covered and I have in mind the lateness of the hour. I want to concentrate on one particular aspect; it concerns reports on the activities of the United Nations Visiting Mission to Papua and New Guinea. I am quite surprised that practically no other speaker in this debate has commented upon the reports. A lot has been said in this debate about the wishes of the people of Papua and New Guinea. We have heard some fantastic and speculative statements from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and other Opposition members. But what we ought to take notice of are the comments made to the Visiting Mission. The Mission was an independent body. No-one can sincerely say that its members were favourably influenced towards the actions of the Australian Government. In fact it must be recalled that the three people who comprised the Mission came from an atmosphere within the United Nations which could have caused them to have some prejudice. Noone can say that they were biased in our favour.
Another reason why I want to mention some passages from the reports of the Mission is that the comments and information the Mission received have not appeared in the Australian Press in any shape or form. The Press has merely been giving the Australian people its own version of what is happening in Papua and New Guinea.
Very often these versions are distorted and dishonest. J want to put on record in Hansard some of the comments made to the Mission so that anyone who is interested enough may read them. Thirty progress reports were issued about the activities of the Mission. I shall quote from a few of them. The Mission travelled from one end of the Territory to the other and made itself available to the people in most of the populous areas. I was very interested to read about the number of people who turned up at its meetings and the fact that they were very orderly. A lot of the comments made were on the lines indicated by the Leader of the Opposition, who said that the people ought to have independence, immediately. What do the people of New Guinea say? I will quote very briefly from some of the reports. The report on the Mount Hagen meeting states:
Seven of forty councillors told four man Mission biggest needs were roads for economic development, schools for children.
The report on the Wabag meeting states:
A spokesman for 140,000 Wabag people told the Visiting UN Mission yesterday that they did not want independence now. They would ask when ready for it.
The member of the area said:
Independence is something for all people to decide, not a few educated ones. This is not the time. We know the UN is pushing Australia to give independence soon . . . We want to go slowly until we say ready.
A pretty common thread through the reports is that people asked for economic development. Their first desire was to have economic development, roads and schools. One speaker at a place called Wapenamanda said:
Australia is our father and we will follow what he says.
Another man said:
My son will think, about independence, but I will not.
The report on the Madang meeting states:
Requests were for more roads, schools and economic development. All speakers happy with present situation and no demands for independence.
There was a big crowd at that meeting. I remind the House that these reports relate to a Visiting Mission from the United Nations which could not possibly be biased. At Wewak the story was similar. One of the men said that there was a continual pushing for independence which people did not want. That statement was also made at some of the other meetings. The report on the Maprik meeting states:
Common themes were that the Territory was unready for self-government and independence, and the need for better schooling and more development.
As I said, this is a common thread running right through all thirty reports. Hardly one person said that he really wanted independence at this moment. Nearly every person said: ‘Let us make up our own minds’. The following pretty strong statement dealing with independence was made by a Papuan school teacher named Varoka at Vanimo:
If people from Russia and Liberia say Territory ready independence, they lying to God.
The report of the Vanimo meeting goes on to state:
Varoka said UN countries should come to the Territory themselves and see if it was ready for self-government. Similar Mission should stay up to a year so it could report truthfully to UN.
An elected member of the House of Assembly said at that meeting:
Everybody knows Australian Government is a good government and looks after everybody. Country must develop before people think selfgovernment.
– Who said that?
– A man named Kenu who is a member of the House of Assembly. At Manus Island the Mission’s meeting was attended by more than 1,000 people. Again the speakers were against early independence. And so the story goes on. The report issued on the meeting held when the Mission reached Rabaul, the half-way point of its visit - which was a big one and, to use the words of the report, the most sophisticated meeting held so far - states:
Points made included: They determined Territory should not be hurried towards independence or self-government by outside pressures; all stressed decision matter for people of Territory in consultation with Australian Government.
I think that sums up the situation.
Some of the comments made to the mission have their light side. Honourable members might be interested to learn that at this meeting at Rabaul the chairman of the United Nations mission said that, whilst he was impressed with the meeting, the degree of parochialism disturbed him, and the people there were more interested in their own district than in the nation as a whole. Some of us are fairly familiar wilh those feelings, and we can understand these people thinking of their own districts. I am sure that the Minister for External Territories has noted one particular point in this report and I know that something is being done about it, but it interested me that quite a number of the people were enthusiastic about educating the farmers and having an educated farming community. I know that steps have been taken in this direction. There are a few other comments in the report that I wish to quote. One person, talking about self-government, said that it was just around the corner. He said it was an inevitability, but he said also that by self-government he meant leaving foreign affairs, defence and finance to the Australian Government. 1 do not think that anyone would really call that being self-governing. He went on to say that there was a need for a sound and continuing association with Australia.
Another comment at New Hanover was that they wanted more economic development. It is interesting to note the number of members of the local parliament who attended these meetings of the mission. At Bougainville a newly elected member of the House of Assembly said that the Territory was unready for independence. The second last comment in the report which I shall mention was made at Finschhafen, where the same sort of things were said and also a comment was made that will interest some honourable members here, particularly those of my own party. A member of the House of Assembly said that it was very difficult to be a politician in the Territory. He said that candidates must be physically fit in order to wade rivers and climb mountains to reach their constituents. Apparently my colleagues and I are not as badly off as we thought we were. At the same place one of the members of the visiting United Nation mission made a point that is fairly close to the hearts of honourable members of this place, too. He said that the Territory had started growth towards self-government from the right point by establishing local government councils and now a House of Assembly. However, it was his personal view that the members of the House of Assembly should receive higher salaries, and also that they must be given more power and authority.
I think 1 have given enough examples of the feelings of the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea on the basic issues to indicate that the vast majority of them are certainly in accord with the Government’s thoughts on independence coming very gradually. While I was there I met a man named Tolaman, who was a member of the House of Assembly and who impressed me a great deal. He has been overseas on many missions representing Papua and New Guinea. I recall his saying, when I asked him about self-government: ‘We must move towards it very gradually’. 1 think this sums up the position.
I finish by saying that I deplore the unfair and ill-informed criticisms by the Press of the administration of the affairs of Papua and New Guinea by the Minister for External Territories. In my opinion he has satisfied the people who really count - the local people. I say quite frankly that I think he has handled a delicate task well and that this legislation is ‘ another landmark in the progress of the Territory under his administration.
– in reply - I think we all are very grateful for the contributions to the debate on this Bill that have come from both sides of the House. I am sure that the people of Papua and New Guinea will be most encouraged to know of the deep interest and understanding of members of this House although I am afraid they will be most concerned about the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who led the debate on behalf of his Party. He struck a discordant note that was out of harmony with the views of the great majority of the people of Papua and New Guinea. But at least one must give him credit because in this instance he did not equivocate. Honourable members will recall that at a seminar in Goroka a few years ago he advocated independence for the Territory by 1970. According to his speech tonight he has not changed his views. In fact he has followed the line adopted by a section of the AfroAsian group in the United Nations. Included in that group and supporting those views are the delegates of the Soviet Union. Similar views have been expressed by a large section of the Press of Australia. I do not believe that he received a great deal of support from members of his Party tonight. The Press, or a large section of it, will headline his remarks, but I do not think that the constructive contributions made by other honourable members on both sides of the House will be reported.
I should like to deal with some of the points made by the Leader of the Opposition. He referred to the University of Papua and New Guinea and suggested that we were starving it of funds. That is not so. We have fulfilled our obligations to it. We undertook to support the establishment in the Territory of a university which would have an enrolment of 575 students by 1970. I know that the administrators of the university are advocating expansion and an increase in the student enrolment to about 800 by 1970. That is understandable. A university has ambitions to expand. I give great credit to the University Council which has made a wonderful start in this area but we must look at the situation in the light of our responsibilities to the rest of the Territory. We cannot give all the available funds to the University at the expense of the secondary schools and the other avenues of tertiary education - the agricultural school at Vudal, the forestry school at Bulolo and the Institute of Higher Technical Training. We must keep in mind the whole concept of education. I believe that each stratum of education is of equal importance. Our secondary schools have produced the men who have developed this country and made a great contribution to its affairs.
The Leader of the Opposition mentioned that 25% of prospective students were refused admission to the university. They are going into the technical colleges, the agricultural college, the forestry school and so on. They are not wasted; their knowledge will be used for the advancement of the Territory.
He also mentioned the wage scales of the Public Service and he referred to the views of one section. Of course, he put only one view and that was an argument for more substantial increases of salaries. To balance the record I will quote from the Arbitrator’s decision. The Arbitrator said:
My task in this arbitration is now concluded. In the long proceedings a great many people have publicly expressed their views to me as to the decision that should be made. The Association and the Administration have had the fullest opportunities of presenting material and submissions for my consideration. I have carefully weighed all that was put to me and have as earnestly as I could carried out the responsibility entrusted to me as the Arbitrator appointed by the GovernorGeneral to do wage justice between the Administration and the Public Service.
Those were the Arbitrator’s words after taking evidence from both sides and not just one side. The Leader of the Opposition quoted only one side. 1 would like to mention some other points. I agree with the suggestion of the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) about nationhood. This is the right approach. The word ‘independence’ has been bandied about, but nationhood is the objective for us all and it is the objective of the Government. It is the objective of this Bill. This is the transitional stage in which people are given a greater say in running their own affairs. The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) said that when the Bill is passed Canberra will become less important in the affairs of Papua and New Guinea. That is our aim; we want a transitional situation. The advances we are making are in line with what the people want, not with what somebody outside the Territory wants. The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) has shown that this is so by quoting the views of some of the people in the Territory. These views come from the grass roots. They were expressed by thousands of people to a completely impartial body - a mission. Unfortunately the Press did not publish them. I am afraid that, as a result of this sort of Press censorship, the people of Australia do not know the real feelings of the vast majority of the people of Papua and New Guinea. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) mentioned the efforts of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to inform the people in Papua and New Guinea. I agree with him and I agree with the attitude of the Commission in Australia. At least we can depend on the Australian Broadcasting Commission to give an impartial view of what happens in Papua and New Guinea.
The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) made some comments about the suggested electoral reforms. I agree that much remains to be done in this field. We must decide on the system that we will have, whether the voting shall be on the basis of first past the post or preferential. We feel our way in these matters and must work out the decision. We will undoubtedly have another select committee on constitutional development and it will come up with further suggestions. On the other hand, the honourable member mentioned the disparity in the number of people in the electorates. This was a special recommendation from the Committee. We did not fix the numbers; the people selected this scheme. Here again, if we have another select committee they will have the right to make other suggestions to it. I would support their right to do so. Some complain about the fact that there are 125,000 electors in one electorate and only 25,000 in another. This reflects the differences referred to by the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) who spoke of the member who has to cover a large electorate. If I relate my argument to the position in Australia perhaps it will be better understood than if I speak about the Territory. Take as an example an electorate in the middle of the Sydney area. One could walk around it in a day. The people in the several adjoining metropolitan electorates have common problems. They are probably mainly problems relating to municipal matters. For instance, they have a common Post Office, a common hospital and so on. But in the remote country electorates every section of the community has its own particular problems and the electors in the various sections deserve the opportunity to have as easy access to their members as it is possible to give them.
Exactly the same position applies in New Guinea and that is the reason for the proposals contained in the measure before us. Let me now answer the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). He mentioned the sum of $2,000 as the salary of a member of Parliament. The figure should be $2,500. We have this matter under review at all times.
There is nothing more that I can say except to repeat that I appreciate the contributions made by honourable members on both sides of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee 1
– There are one or two questions that I should like the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) to answer. I am quite certain that he has seen the objections that have been lodged by the five members to whom reference has been made. Firstly, they charge the Minister with having given additional powers of partial veto to the Governor-General. I feel that here they have misjudged the intention of the Bill. I suggest that what is proposed is what the Minister outlined in his second reading speech. He pointed out that, instead of delaying the whole of any ordinance, the intention is that only those parts with which the Administrator disagrees will be held up.
The other objections relate to the duties and powers of ministerial and assistant ministerial members and to the business of the House being left virtually in the hands of the Administrator all the time. I should like to hear something from the Minister about these three points because I think that the five members who have offered criticism are entitled to have that criticism answered publicly. I should also like to know what salaries, allowances and travelling concessions are to be paid to the ministerial members and the assistant ministerial members for the extra duties that they will have to perform. I would like to know, too, whether the incoming members of the House of Assembly in the Territory will be given an increase in salaries. I remind the Minister that their salary was fixed 4 years ago and those who have had some experience must now be doing more for their constituents than they were doing previously. I should think that parliamentary salaries, in that Parliament as in this, would be adjusted according to increases in the cost of living and the extra demands continually being made on members of parliament.
I refer now to that part of the Bill on page 4, headed: ‘Division 3. - Ministerial Offices’. Sub-clause (1.) of clause 24 of the proposed new Division reads:
There shall be -
seven offices of ministerial member of the House of Assembly, of such respective designations as the Minister from time to time determines; and
such number, being dot more than ten, of offices of assistant ministerial member of the House of Assembly. . . .
The Minister, on the advice of the Administrator, is to decide what departments shall be taken over by the seven ministerial members and what departments the ten assistant ministerial members will take over. 1 note that in the last House of Assembly there were eleven parliamentary undersecretaries and, if my information is correct, there were about eighteen heads of departments. As I see it at the moment, there will be seven ministerial members and ten assistant ministerial members, plus one ministerial member that the Administrator has the right to appoint. This means that eighteen departments will be covered by either a ministerial member or an assistant ministerial member. The question that has been asked by the five objectors is this: What duties will the ministerial members and the assistant ministerial members perform?
In proposed new section 25 the duties of the ministerial members are reasonably well spelt out, but there is no mention at all of the duties of the assistant ministerial members, except that this matter is in the hands of the Administrator and the Minister. At page 6 of the official report of the Constitutional Committee, in chapter 4, the duties of the assistant ministers - as they are called in the report - are laid down. I wonder whether the Minister can give honourable members any information on this topic? Further, 1 should like the Minister to give honourable members some idea about the Nominations Committee of five elected members of the House of Assembly that is to be established. I know that the Minister, in his second reading speech, said that some of the more detailed arrangements would be set out in regulations, as this is the procedure by which nomination for ministerial offices would be arrived at as between the House of Assembly and the Administrator.
However, I believe that we are entitled to know how it will be done.
My understanding is that the five members of the Nominations Committee will suggest seven names to the Administrator, who will examine them, confer with the Minister and, after a decision has been reached, will go back to the House of Assembly in order to agree or disagree with the appointment of those seven ministerial members and, perhaps, the ten assistant ministerial members. But what happens if the House of Assembly does not agree with the recommendations? As I read it, the House of Assembly has the right of approval. But let us suppose that the House of Assembly says: ‘These recommendations are unsatisfactory, and we will not accept so-and-so as an assistant ministerial member or as a ministerial member’. What proceed ure will be followed then?
Although no mention is made of it in the Bill, some reference has been made to a Budget committee. How will this be established? These are some of the things that I should like the Minister to explain. I believe that we and the members of the House of Assembly in the Territory are entitled to know these things before the House meets there on 4th June. The Administrator has the authority to override the House on all the matters that will come before it. He has the right to override the ministerial member on matters relating to his department and so forth that he wishes to bring before the House of Assembly. I am reasonably certain when I say that the Administrator can virtually control the activities and the business before the House of Assembly, and that he almost, if not in fact, has the right to veto a ministerial member in respect of discussing anything in the House, even though he may have brought it before the Council for discussion. Those are some of the things which I would like the Minister to explain. I should have liked to discuss some of these things more fully. I am relying on today’s ‘Canberra Times’ for the information about the criticism that was levelled by the five elected members. I do not like to rely entirely on newspapers for my information, but in this case I am forced to do so. I hope that the report in the ‘Canberra Times’ is correct. If it is not correct I hope that the Minister will not blame me for making the mistake.
– My principal complaint about this measure is that I find embedded in it the doctrine of executive government. I would like some assurance from the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) that this is a passing phase. I see little parliamentary responsibility or parliamentary supremacy in the House of Assembly as it is constituted and as its Ministers are appointed. In our own institution here in Australia we have reached a stage pretty close to absolute parliamentary supremacy, despite the fact that we continually claim vigorously that it is an executive authority. If it is, it is our own fault; The Prime Minister and his Ministers are responsible to and answerable to this House, if we choose to make them so. If we do not, it is our fault. There is nothing to prevent us from controlling ministerial positions. But under this Bill nomination of Ministers will not necessarily be in the hands of the Parliament. The removal’ of Ministers will not necessarily be in the hands of the Parliament.
The Administrator and the Minister for External Territories have a combination of powers which seem to me to fall between the powers of, say, somebody in a presidential system - they have almost de Gaullean characteristics - and the early governors of this country. I believe that we must have sufficient faith in the parliamentary system to accept that when the people elect a body of representatives numbering 80 or 90 - this is a not insignificant number - they have enough common sense to elect responsible people and to remove irresponsible people. I am not sure that at the rate at which we progress in these matters we may not find that at some time in the near future we have lost the initiative and that whatever is control . ing the system in Papua and New Guinea has gained such a hold on it that it is not possible for the Parliament to recapture control. This has been the sad history of many people who have become independent in the last 20 years.
While I understand the general procedures that have been adopted and while I do not sympathise with them, I can see how- they have grown out of what we think of as our own history and procedures and a conservative cautious approach. 1 would like to see adopted a more effective approach towards parliamentary supremacy in the appointment and control of Ministers and the development of what might be called a Cabinet system. In this regard I support the remarks made by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart).
Are these Ministers in the Territory to have any effective power? Are they to be able to administer a department in the way the Minister for External Territories administers his Department? This is the challenge before us. We are accustomed to allowing people to make their own mistakes. We are accustomed to electing people in all sorts of areas - municipal, political, State and Federal. They make catastrophic errors sometimes, and sometimes they are right. I think it is the permanent and inbuilt feature of democracy that the elected representatives have the power and the right to make their own mistakes and to report to the Parliament and be held responsible for their actions. If we perpetuate this system what does a member of Parliament do at the next elections? The people ask why he did not do this or that, or they reach the stage that has been reached by the States in this country and blame the Commonwealth for everything, saying that the States do not have any money and that the Commonwealth is to blame for everything. The essence of our parliamentary system is direct responsibility to the electorate at the one end and to other members of the Parliament at this end, coupled with the general matter of parliamentary supremacy. This principle has been resolved over the last two or three centuries and is pretty firmly embedded in our Constitution. But in some ways we have what might be called the ‘complete parliamentary system’ here, if we make it work properly. I think that our general objective in Papua and New Guinea ought to be of this order. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say on this matter and what he considers the next steps should be.
– Mr Chairman, first of all I think that I should read paragraph 7 of the Report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Development in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, lt has a bearing on what has been said. The paragraph reads:
This is the whole basis of the legislation. It is not the wish of the people of the Territory that the House of Assembly, as the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) suggests, should have this ultimate responsibility. The great majority of people in Che Territory have expressed the opinion that the duty and responsibility of administration rests with the Australian Government.
Let me answer now the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) who referred to the power of the Governor-General to withhold assent not only to the whole of the Bill but also to part of the Bill. This, 1 believe, simplifies the situation. In a sense, I suppose, this provision limits the power of assent of the Governor-General. Instead of withholding assent from the whole of the Bill, he can withhold his assent from part of the Bill. This is a power held by both Houses of this Parliament in relation to other Territories such as Norfolk Island, Cocos Island and Christmas Island. Here again, I believe that the position will be perfectly safeguarded. If the Governor-General withholds assent to part or the whole of a Bill, this will have to bc tabled in both Houses of this Parliament. I think that there is a safeguard here.
– lt will be tabled here?
– Yes, it will be tabled here. Regarding the matter of duties, I point out that the duties as set out in proposed new section 25 include both ministerial members and assistant ministerial members. lt is our ambition to give as much administrative power as possible to these ministerial members and assistant ministerial members. Our experience with under secretaries has been that it is difficult to get people into a situation to take the full responsiblity of administering a department. I believe that wc need to maintain a great degree of flexibility concerning this matter. We do not want to overload somebody with more work or responsibility than he can manage. It is our aim to give these ministerial members us much control over their departments as possible. This is why we believe we should have a flexible situation here and not put too great a load on any one ministerial member.
The functions of assistant ministerial members are of a different degree. This is almost the same sort of training programme as we had for under secretaries in the last House of Assembly. As honourable members will have seen, under this Bill ten assistant ministerial members will not necessarily be appointed immediately the House of Assembly meets. I do not know how many will be appointed straight away but it is our ambition to get more and more people whom the Administrator feels can do these jobs or who are in a position to learn. It is our ambition to reach this situation. That is why we have left a degree of flexibility in the provisions of this Bill. The next point that the honourable member made was in relation to salaries. We have not yet fixed salaries for ministerial members or assistant ministerial members. This matter is being examined at the present time. We believe that they must have salaries commensurate with their responsibilities and their extra duties. They will be not only attending to their ministerial responsibilities but also looking after their electorates.
– You will not forget the backbenchers?
– This matter is looked at from time to time. Ministerial members will be chosen by a committee of five appointed by the House of Assembly, lt will confer with the Administrator and when agreement on the list of ministerial members is reached the matter will be put to the House of Assembly and then to me.
– Will the committee of five be elected?
– It will be selected by the House of Assembly. The ministerial members will be selected by negotiation in conference with the Administrator and they will have to be approved by the House of Assembly. I believe that this leaves a great deal of latitude and that out of an elected House of eighty-four we will probably get satisfactory appointees.
– What will happen if the seven selected are not approved by the House of Assembly?
– Wc shall have to negotiate again. I feel sure that we shall eventually get the seven that we require. The honourable member mentioned also the proposed Budget standing committee. This will bc appointed by the House of Assembly. We are putting the Administrator’s Executive Council in a position in which there will be very considerable consultation on the formation of budgets. This Council will have ultimate responsibility for the formation of budgets. I have covered generally all of the matters that the honourable member has raised.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Barnes) - by leave -read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1 026), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The two Bills before the House are for the purpose of drought relief. One Bill, the States Grants (Drought Reimbursement) Bill, is designed to reimburse two States, Victoria and South Australia, for moneys spent on drought relief measures. These measures have been approved by the Commonwealth and the finance is to be paid to these two States during the next financial year.
The other Bill, the States Grants (Drought Assistance) Bill, provides a total of $14m to four States. Of this amount $13m is provided to offset the effect of drought upon the resources of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. Payment will be made in proportions calculated under the Commonwealth-States financial grants formula. In addition, there is to be a $lm special grant to Victoria for special purposes.
I spoke at some length recently in the House on drought and on measures for drought relief. I spoke about other aspects of the effects of this national calamity upon Australia and Australians. I do not want to be repetitive, and because of the late hour this evening I propose to speak fairly briefly on these measures. The Opposition supports the Bills. But there are some aspects of drought aid that need examination. Indeed, there are some aspects of post-drought attitudes that need examination. Many people in drought areas have heard the sweet music of rain on their roofs in recent weeks. We have heard rain on the roof of Parliament House today. For the ordinary citizen this rain is pleasing; for some it is the end of water restrictions and for some it means gardens and lawns coming back to life. But for the man on the land it is a matter of sheer delight and relief.
The drought has not ended - it has been merely suspended. A fall of 2 inches or 3 inches does not end a drought of such intensity and proportions as the one we have experienced. But the stage is set for a recovery of the productive powers of our drought-stricken lands. Most areas in southern Australia - the area worst hit by the drought - have had rain. Most wheat growers in these areas seem assured of a good start to the season with millions of acres coming under the plough. But it will not be a record year. In the depression days in the 1930s, when the governments called for massive production, there was perhaps a much bigger acreage planted but they had miserable results. But this season promises to see one of the largest plantings at least in the postwar period. I will come back to that aspect of the wheat situation a little later.
A somewhat different situation exists for graziers. Rain has fallen and already the grass has changed the colour of the landscape. But we are nearing winter, and what fs needed now in many areas is sunshine and warmth, with no frost to wither off growth. This is necessary if some winter feed is to help maintain stock in reasonable condition. The cold, of course, is the next enemy graziers will face, and unless good feed results from the recent rains, stock in poor condition will! not be able to stand the rigors of the winter. Hand feeding is bound to continue for many months yet, so the problems of graziers are not really over.
The drought has been a personal disaster, in varying degrees for the individual farmer through stock losses and loss of income; for many people in many occupations through loss of employment; for the average consumer through high meat prices; for manufacturers and retailers in many fields, in particular the agricultural implements field. But for the nation as a whole the drought - continuous since 1965, striking first in New South Wales and Queensland and then moving to the southern States - has been a severe setback, reducing rural income and production substantially. Its cost in reduced wool production and values, in dairying, fruit, wheat, meat and other primary production, cannot be accurately estimated. Without doubt, the cost is of great magnitude. The loss can be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, and the drought’s effects will echo throughout the economy for years to come. Some rural industries, of course, suffer continuing effects. Breeding stock losses are not single losses, because breeding potential is also lost. Recovery of production is inevitably delayed by such losses, and the rebuilding process is slow.
Drought relief measures - agistment and transport subsidies and the like - must be aimed at preserving as many of our breeding stock as is possible. This is the reason why some weeks ago, in the depths of the drought, I pointed out the urgent need for a subsidy on wheat as a stock feed. Clearly the cost of fodder was getting beyond farmers, who had band fed stock for so long. The Government refused this subsidy, although it in fact made a special $lm grant to Victoria for what it called special circumstances. At the time of making this grant the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said that the offer of additional Commonwealth assistance to Victoria was an important factor in the Victorian Government’s recent decision to subsidise the purchase of oats and wheat by drought affected farmers. I want to contest this statement because, as I recall the position, the announcement of the Victorian Government was made before the Commonwealth Government announced the £lm grant. In fact, Sir Henry Bolte had decided to go it alone. Quite frankly I am very suspicious of the special circumstances which the Treasurer mentioned. I think the special circumstances were the Western Province by-election in Victoria. Whatever the weather position may be it would be disastrous if both the State and Federal governments withdrew this drought relief measure too soon. I hope that wiser counsel prevails.
There is an obvious difference between the wheat industry and grazing. A crop loss, as bad as it is, is a single loss and, with the break in the drought, good crop prospects can return immediately. This promises to be the situation in southern Australia this season. The wheat stabilisation scheme is soon due for renewal. I watch with interest the reports of changes that the Government proposes to make to this scheme. These changes are supposed to be secret, of course, but it is clear that the Government will try to discourage or reduce wheat production. Any reduction in the guaranteed price and any reduction in the first advance in the Government’s new 5-year plan will call a halt to many who are seeking security in wheat having switched from the insecure, low-price, highcost wool industry.
If the Government wants to stop this switch to wheat growing why does it not take action to cure the high-cost and market problems of wool instead of standing by watching our greatest rural industry being reduced to penury? Why can we not have some action in this respect? Why pick on the wheat industry? Does the Government think that it is too prosperous? Does the Government think that wheat production is getting out of hand? Is the Government fearful of losing its major wheat market, which is Communist China? If the answer is ‘Yes* to those questions why does not the Government say so instead of taking this back door method of reducing, by legislation, the returns to wheat growers and thereby reducing production? I imagine that the members of the Australian Country Party are feeling uncomfortable about these reductions. Do they agree that the income from wheat should be limited? There is a great deal of secrecy about this. I am sure that there will be a very real reaction from the wheatgrowers when they learn about what is going on. One of the biggest postdrought problems lies in the fact that the drought and its lessons - often learned at great cost - will be forgotten. Memories are short and good seasons dim them even further.
Some weeks ago I pointed out the need for a national disaster organisation. I believe that there is a great need for a body whose sole responsibility is research into and planning and co-ordination of efforts to meet and minimise the effects of national disasters, whether they be fire, flood or drought. Unfortunately, our vast continent frequently suffers, somewhere or other, the ravages of disasters of some magnitude. We ought to be better prepared and more effective in the alleviation of the effects which blight the lives of so many of our citizens at frequent intervals and which set back our national progress. Whether the disaster be a bush fire in Tasmania, a flood in New South Wales, a drought in Victoria, wherever it may be and whatever it may be, too often the affected people are forced to wait too long for governments to make up their minds as to what assistance is needed and they then have to wait too long to get that assistance.
As our continent has a low average rainfall it is prone to droughts. The series of droughts since 1964 has stimulated research into their occurrence and effects and the means of amelioration. But that is not enough. How long will this research continue? When a flood occurs people are made homeless and there is a tremendous outcry, but 6 months later it is forgotten. We need a permanent organisation devoted to seeking the answers to our disaster problems. Water is our rarest and most precious resource. Thousands of millions of gallons of water run into the sea annually in times of flood, but at other times whole States, including metropolitan areas, are desperate for water. Yet we spend only .7% of our gross national product on research into ways and means of conserving water. The United States of America spends 3.5% of its gross national product on research, Russia spends 2.5%, and Britain 2%. It is time that we really got down to business and sought to meet one of the greatest challenges in this country, that is, the need to conserve and properly use our nation’s sparse water reserves. I believe that 12 months after this drought ends research into ways and means of conserving water will fall away and we will forget the drought. Then we will be fools awaiting the next onslaught of adverse weather. ,
One of the matters that concerns me in the States Grants (Drought Reimbursement) Bill is the requirement for the States to employ people upon works which have a labour content of between 70% and 75%. This provision extremely limits the opportunities of municipal councils, State governments and State instrumentalities to employ people, whether they are farmers who because of drought have to leave their farms temporarily for a few months or for a year or are people who have been employed in occupations affected by drought. Perhaps these people live in country towns. Often councils and other authorities experience difficulty in finding jobs which will add to the progress and development of the district. The days when the labour content of jobs in the country or the cities was from 70% to 75% were back in the 1930s. Times have changed. This provision that jobs must have a 70% to 75% labour content prevents local municipal councils from doing even kerbing and channelling, which is one of the projects which many authorities would like to carry out under this drought relief assistance. I suggest that the Government ought to have a closer look at this question to see whether local authorities and State instrumentalities can be given an opportunity to carry out projects which will last for years to come.
In the Bendigo district, which is in my electorate, more than sixty people, mainly men, have been given jobs under the assistance provided in the drought relief measures.
Hardship has been reduced, and this is a good thing. This is one of the responsibilities of government in our society. But the difficulty is that while many people think that the drought is over, it is really not over for a lot of other people. As I said previously, the drought is not over for farmers. In their case it will go on for many months. Winter is approaching, and in many country districts winter is a quiet time. Seasonal employment falls away and employment is difficult to find. It is tremendously important that the Commonwealth Government and the State governments, in particular the Victorian Government, should continue to provide assistance under these drought reimbursement grants to ensure that people who suffer hardship - people in the farming community as well as those who live and work in the towns - continue in employment in order to provide a living for their wives and families during what will be a very grim winter.
In some areas, such as the Portland area, now that rains have fallen farmers are starting to think about restocking. This creates problems. Stock which were sent away to agistment areas in northern New South Wales - perhaps to the Armidale or New England area - are starting to come back again. Naturally enough a farmer will not sell the stock that he has already. The result is that sales have declined and the abattoirs in these areas have declined rapidly also. In Portland one abattoir has closed and in other areas it is intended to employ the staff only part time or to retrench them. This is an additional reason why the Government should ensure that it does not close too soon this avenue of assistance for people who have been affected by the drought. In conclusion I repeat that we should learn from the drought and make sure that we do not forget it. We should redouble our efforts to minimise the effects of drought. We should realise that money spent on research is returned amply in results. The Opposition supports the measure.
– First I should like to deal with a couple of points which were brought up by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton). I refer particularly to his concern that grants of financial assistance already provided for drought relief should be continued. My understanding of this Bill is that provision is made to continue wherever measures are necessary after June 1968. I agree with the honourable member’s remarks regarding the critical position of the meat industry, particularly in Victoria. Unfortunately it appears that a very large co-operative meat works which was founded in Victoria with farmers’ money may have to close down. This is one of the largest meat works in Victoria and if this first major co-operative venture in this field is forced to close it will be a tragedy. In talking about the drought the first thing we must realise is its unprecedented severity. Nothing like it has ever been experienced before. Losses, especially of stock, undoubtedly would have been much greater but for assistance from the Commonwealth Government. Again, the assistance given to deal with this unprecedented situation has no precedent in this country. I think it is fair to say that the drought would have been quite disastrous without such assistance. Not only would it have been responsible for many farmers leaving their properties but we would have lost much of our skilled labour which has been greatly encouraged to stay in the country by the provision of unemployment grants through local councils.
The honourable member for Bendigo was somewhat disturbed that such a large proportion of funds provided for drought relief works had to be spent on a labour content. My understanding was that the Minister had been allowed some flexibility to deal with this problem when granting drought relief in Victoria. Honourable members have heard many comments to the effect that farmers should have been prepared for the drought, that they should have been ready for one or two bad years after a succession of good years. Unless one is on the land one cannot- see clearly the economic problems which confront farmers in such conditions. For some years agricultural economists have been working out with some degree of accuracy the size of fodder reserves which are appropriate to each individual farm. In this respect it must be remembered that for every $1 that a farmer spends on fodder he is up for an opportunity cost, that is, the cost of what he might have received had he spent that money on something else. On the other hand, if he does not have the fodder when it is needed in time of drought there is a shortage of fodder and he has to pay the penalty of a cost over and above the normal price for feed. The optimum size of fodder reserves for any particular farm can be worked out when account is taken of the rainfall record for that region. I believe that some very basic rethinking has to be done in relation to droughts because all past calculations were done on the basis of the worst previous known Australian conditions which covered roughly 80 years. There is no doubt whatever that conditions and experiences this time have been a great deal worse than anything before. I do not suppose that the agricultural economists can go back to their drawing boards. Perhaps they will have to go back to their computers instead.
In Victoria a very large proportion of the State’s sheep population was in the affected area - about 24 million out of a total of 31 million. The heaviest stocking area in Victoria is in the western half of the State. I would like to point out that this area has very special problems in times of drought because then the area carries no feed at all and therefore a reduction in stock numbers is of no use whatever. A reduction in stock numbers greatly reduces the value of the farms and the national asset, without any corresponding advantage in lessening the pressure on the pastures because there are no pastures on which to lessen the pressure.
As the drought progressed in these areas it became clearer and clearer that cheaper fodder was the first requirement of the majority of farmers. The stock owners are extremely grateful to both State and Federal Governments for making fodder subsidies possible. The honourable member for Bendigo mentioned that some work had gone on behind the scenes. I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that a great many State and Federal members in country areas did a great deal of work. Stock owners in Victoria have a great deal for which to thank the honourable member for Wannon, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), in this respect. 1 was delighted to see the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) spell out so clearly that practically all the drought assistance which has been made available to farmers, although disbursed by the States, has been made possible through Commonwealth assistance.
I believe that the most critical aspect facing all primary producers is the one which was mentioned by the honourable member for Bendigo and that is the cost price squeeze. This problem has been greatly accentuated by the drought, but was not caused by it. Compared with the position some years ago when prices for primary products were higher and costs were lower, the position has deteriorated to a great degree. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and a table from various official sources.
I believe that these tables disclose the real cause of the long terra problems of primary industry in Australia. If one thing is certain it is this: Australia is subject to recurrent droughts, and droughts - perhaps in not quite as severe a form - will happen again. Droughts are a national problem and can be disastrous to farmers and to our export earnings. Therefore I believe that we have to ask ourselves: What are the lessons to be learned from the drought? I believe that the first lesson is that widely different circumstances exist in different States. For instance, one has only to compare the economics of feeding stock in western Queensland with feeding stock in the higher stocking rate areas of western Victoria. Different localities have various orders of priority for drought assistance. I believe that should be remembered when considering future plans. I do not believe that an overall national disaster governmental authority is the answer. I do not think anything is more likely to create local opposition than a central authority’s telling people what to do. I agree that a central authority could undertake valuable research work, but it is probable that it would not do anything that could not be done already by the Department of National Development with its present facilities. But I do not agree the disbursement of drought assistance could best be made by such an authority. I think the present system under which money has been made available on local council advice has been successful. The real aim should be to remove the need for such assistance. The answer is to be found in policies which will make it attractive for individual formers to drought proof their properties.
This can be done by providing incentive for the vital requirements of feed and water. In respect of water, at least, the double deduction scheme for taxation purposes makes sound common sense. I have previously supported strongly the idea of drought bonds. However, three main drawbacks in the scheme proposed have been brought to my attention. The first draw back is that the scheme would help the farmers with the biggest properties. Drought bonds would apply only in respect of surplus income. The bigger a property is, the more surplus income its owner is likely to have. The second drawback would be that the scheme would not encourage the provision of the resources required in time of drought or in periods following drought. I refer to water, feed and stock for restocking purposes. When the bonds were cashed they would increase competition and inflate the values of the resources. The third drawback would be that the bonds would become taxable at the very time that a primary producer had least money. However, I still believe that the proposed scheme is worth further investigation to determine whether the drawbacks can be overcome. At present, they seem to me to be rather substantial objections.
Another proposal that seems to be worthy of investigation is that for national crop insurance. Such a scheme operates in the United States of America and Canada. In those countries a farmer is able to insure, at a premium rate of about 6%, for a cover equivalent to about 80% of the long term average yield of the crop concerned. It is obvious that a great deal of detailed work would have to be done to relate the
United States and Canadian figures to Australian conditions. We have in Australia people capable of undertaking that task and I hope that in due course that investigation will be conducted.
The concessions I have outlined, or any other measures which encourage individual conservation of water and feed, will cost the Commonwealth money, but I believe the cost will be small in relation to the huge cost to the Treasury caused by drought. For instance, in the present drought a total of about S84m has been made available so far as aid to the States. Immeasurably greater amounts have been lost in revenue and national assets. Surely it is good business from the Commonwealth’s point of view to encourage the preservation of our national assets and to keep our farmers in income earning situations so that they may contribute to the national revenue.
As the honourable member for Bendigo said, it seems that the drought in the southern States may be ending. The need now will be for finance to enable production to be resumed. Loans for restocking, seed, superphosphate, and perhaps machinery, as well as carry on finance will be necessary. T was delighted to learn not long ago that an extra amount of $37m was made available for the Farm Development Loan Fund. Without doubt, a major factor in keeping Victorian stock alive has been the ready availability of wheat. Had it not been available the results would have been absolutely disastrous. Whatever other measures are adopted, it should be part of our national policy always to have sufficient wheat on hand for emergency use.
Finally, I wish to pay a tribute to the Australian Wheat Board. It has done an extremely good job of distributing wheat. It has proved efficient and prompt at all times in attending to requests. The demands put on this organisation must have been great, but in my experience it never failed to meet its commitments. I sincerely hope that the Australian Wheat Board will never be faced with a similar situation in the future. It is up to this Parliament to try to devise ways and means to ensure that never again will Australia be so vulnerable to the effects of drought.
– The measures now before the House are not opposed by the Opposition. I think it fair to say that they are welcomed by all honourable members. I hope that the present drought in Victoria and other southern parts of Australia is coming to an end. We have had fairly good rainfalls, and if they continue I think it safe to say that the farming communities will make the very best possible use of them. But if follow-up rains do not come the situation could develop into a disastrous one. I want to deal primarily with the areas into which drought relief has either not extended or has extended very slowly. It has been in the industrial areas, which depend on farm produce, that hardship has arisen which has not been relieved by the rain. The honourable members for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) and Corangamite (Mr Street) mentioned the meat works at Portland in Victoria. Similar dismissals to those at the Portland meat works have occurred in the meat industry in other areas. In some areas, because of the peculiar conditions governing drought relief, it is not possible to use the funds allocated for drought relief to provide employment for these persons who have been affected by the drought.
In my electorate there are three cities and seven or eight shires. The people dismissed recently from Jackson’s meat works in Geelong were equally affected by the drought, wherever they happen to reside. But those who reside in Geelong, Geelong West, Newtown or Chilwell were ineligible to be employed on work made available with funds provided for drought assistance because they live in cities which are not covered by the provisions of legislation under which areas could be declared drought areas. The provisions of such legislation are designed mainly to help primary industry, but I think it is reasonable to say that all sections of the community suffer when primary industry is afflicted by drought or other natural disasters which occur periodically and will continue to occur.
Another matter 1 think should be raised at this time is the availability of credit to persons affected by drought. I refer to business people in areas where drought is prevalent. I would hate to try to estimate how much the small business people in the smaller country towns of western Victoria are carrying on their books at this time. To my knowledge there is no way in which they can get any assistance from any authority to carry this burden. It seems to me also that credit arrangements are unduly hard in regard to the recently announced terms of wheat purchase. My understanding of the Commonwealth agreement on this matter is that credit is to be made available when no other credit sources are available to the person concerned. I understand that this credit is in the form of short term loans, not long term loans, if a farmer has reached a situation in which he is unable to obtain funds to buy fodder to feed and keep stock alive, especially breeding stock, obviously he has a very low credit rating with the commercial institutions and it is extremely doubtful whether he has any capacity to repay money to the Commonwealth in a short period. I believe that more liberal lending for these purposes, which are so vital, could well be considered by the Government if these measures have to continue in the future.
The subsidies on stock fodder, which were financed largely by the Commonwealth but provided under legislation enacted by the Victorian Parliament, were very satisfactory to the persons who were able to use them. But a large section of the farming community, which possibly was as severely affected as those persons were, was unable to gain any benefit whatsoever from that legislation. 1 speak of whole milk producers who are required to provide milk to the authorities to which they are under contract at all times in order that the people of the cities and other centres of population will have milk on their breakfast tables to put on their Weeties. Their problem is that wheat is not very good - in fact, it is almost useless - as fodder for milking cows. They hud to buy other forms of fodder. They were left out on a limb by the legislation that was passed. There were no provisions whatsoever for them, other than the desperation finance that is available to Victorian farmers when they are on that very thin line between insolvency and bankruptcy. That is the situation in which a farmer has to be in order to obtain credit from the Victorian Government under the terms on which it is made available to farmers.
I do not want to delay the House for much longer, but I wish to put forward a proposition which I believe should be examined. With this drought coming to an end, as 1 hope it is, a very thorough investigation should be made of the effectiveness of drought measures and the money that has been spent on drought relief by the Commonwealth, Victorian and New South Wales governments in the last few years, so that a proper assessment can be made of whether the money that was used was used in the most beneficial manner, whether more money would have been of benefit and whether more efficient methods can be used and funds can be more readily available in the future. It was a long while before drought relief was actually on the move. At present many farmers are in a very serious situation. Many persons whose incomes depend on drought relief are also in a very serious situation and will continue to be for some time to come. Many persons who work for wages have received no drought relief, or very little. Their ability to write off their losses as taxation deductions and to recover their losses in increased earnings in good seasons is very limited For most of them, their wages are what they are, and if they lose a week’s employment they have lost a week’s wages for the rest of their lives and there is no way that they can get that money back.
I hope the Government will see its way clear to make a very thorough investigation into the effectiveness of the spending of the moneys that have been made available for drought relief, and will ascertain whether the State governments which spend the->e moneys have really played the game or whether some of the moneys have been diverted to purposes which were not necessarily for drought relief. I hope the Government will investigate also whether better and more readily available permanent methods can be devised for the provision of funds and other forms of assistance in the future. I hope it will not be necessary for this Parliament to consider much more of this type of legislation in the near future. I sincerely hope that the rains which have come in Victoria have ended the drought. I hope also that in future we shall not have to go through the whole exercise of discussing what should or should not be done.
We should make sure that any mistakes which have been made on this occasion do not occur again.
– I support both these Bills. I am not going into detail in regard to the drought for the simple reason that the people whom I represent know all about it, and most people, except perhaps some in the cities, having read so much about it in the Press have a good idea of what is going on. However, I draw the attention of the House to the fact that the drought has focussed attention on the value of primary production to Australia. The idea seems to be creeping into the minds of some people that Australia is now not very dependent on its primary industries, but the speeches that we have heard from the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton), who represents the city of Bendigo, and the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who represents the big city of Geelong, have shown very plainly that the people in thenareas are affected by the drought in Victoria. I know that they are affected by it, and I have said this all along. Someone said a long time ago that if the cities were burned down they would be rebuilt as if by magic, but if the farms were burned the grass would grow in the streets of every city in Australia. This is true.
When there is a drought wheat growers and agriculturists generally are helped by the fact that now they work with tractors and not horses. At a rough guess I should say that in north western Victoria there are about 1,000 wheat growers. In the years between the two world wars, before tractors were in general use, each one of those wheat growers would have’ had about twenty-five horses. That is 25,000 horses in all. The man who spoke about eating like a horse was not joking. Each farmer had to grow crops to feed his horses. He had to have hay, chaff and oats for them, and they took a lot of feeding. In time of drought farmers had to send their horses to pastures down south, because as a rule a drought does not affect the whole of Victoria. We have had droughts in the north of the State when the south, down in the Wannon electorate, has had good feed, and the horses from the north have been sent there. Of course, when they came back it was perhaps months and months before they were really in a fit condition to be put to work, because generally speaking the grass in the south of Victoria is not so nutritious as the grass in the north.
– I beg your pardon.
– I accept the apology, but it is well known that weaners which it is feared will go through the rails of a sheep truck can be brought from the south of Victoria to the north and within a very short time grow into big sheep.
Let me now refer to the Bill. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), when referring in his second reading speech to the grants to the States, had this to say:
Current estimates suggest that expenditure by Victoria on these measures will amount to about $7.5m in this financial year and expenditure by South Australia to about $1.15m. However, in case larger amounts should be required, authority is sought to pay up to $10m to Victoria and up to $5m to South Australia.
I am very pleased about that because it gives us a little room in which to work. The
Treasurer went on to mention the purposes behind the grants. They include:
There is a biblical saying that to him that hath shall be given. This is really the complete opposite because it says, in effect, that to him that hath shall not be given. A man may be in a very precarious financial position but still have an asset in his farm on which he can obtain finance at a high rate of interest, but after he has spent the money and still has to pay the interest on the loan while still suffering the effects of the drought, he finds himself in a very serious position. Another purpose mentioned by the Minister for the grant is:
Let me cite an example of what can happen in that regard. One of my constituents has been seeking a subsidy on the cost of transporting his stock by road from the drought area where he resides to agistment in Gippsland. The subsidy is paid only when the local shire council declares its area to be a drought affected area. The shire council concerned declared its area a drought area on 30th October 1967 but this man had sent his sheep away to agistment on 15th October, about a fortnight previously. He cannot get the subsidy on the transportation of his sheep to better pastures although he will get the subsidy when they are being returned. I ask the Treasurer to have a look at this case because it is well known that in certain areas the shire councils delayed declaring their area a drought area hoping that rain would come, but rain did not come and in desperation they declared their area a drought area. The man to whom I have referred was only a fortnight out of time. I am sure there must be several cases like his that require consideration. I am pleased that the Mallee is green again. Grass if growing fairly prolifically. Droughts come in cycles and it is to be hoped that now that we have had rain the cycle has changed and we are in for a better season. The honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) mentioned the lessons to be learned from the drought. It must be remembered that a man of 30 years today was only 6 years old when the last drought occurred in Victoria, so he would know little about it. Anyone under 24 years was not born when the last drought came to Victoria. These young men have no idea of the severity of the drought.
The Bills are very good and we in Victoria are very grateful for the amount of money that has been made available to that State. Sir William McDonald has been doing his very best to distribute the money in the places where it can do most good. Mention has been made of unemployment. People in country towns and other places have been put put of work by the drought. Drought payments must continue for some time and I am pleased that provision has been made for this in the Bill. Let us hope that the drought is over, as other members have said it is, that we are again entering a cycle of good seasons and that primary production will be able to play its part as it has in the past in building up the economy of Australia.
– I certainly do not intend to keep the House for very long, but I must point out that the drought is not over everywhere. It still exists in some sections of my electorate. It still exists north of Goulburn and in some parts of the northern sections of the south coast and in the Monaro. I do not intend to make a long speech about this, because honourable members have already covered the whole field of drought assistance. I would, however, like briefly to compliment the Government and particularly the” Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on the fact that, in trying to cope with the drought, which really started in 1965, we are entering a new era of assistance for drought and in fact for all forms of disasters. Undoubtedly a great number of ways and means must still be considered. These range from drought bonds to seeding clouds to see whether we can make rain fall. The propositions put to the Commonwealth by the governments of the States that have been affected by the drought have, as far as I know, all been responsible suggestions and have all been met by the Commonwealth. This has been very widely appreciated by the people in the drought affected areas.
With State members I have been collecting evidence through the Monaro and right along the south coast of my electorate of Eden-Monaro. We have received a good deal of help from local people who have given us the benefit of their own experiences. Not everything that is suggested can be done. But I still believe that, despite the adverse comments made, about water conservation from time to time, it is one of the fundamental insurances against drought. This is not so much because water conservation will keep all the stock and all forms of production alive on every property. There are still plenty of areas on which it is not possible to have any large proportion of irrigation. But any area that is substantially under irrigation does provide a body of production on which the drought affected areas can draw after the drought and to which drought affected areas can often send their stock during the drought.
I do not want to cast too deep a note of gloom over the debate on drought, but it is possible that we are still only half way through a drought cycle. On most occasions in the past, unfortunately it has been true that drought cycles have lasted a good deal longer than 3 or 4 years. Let us hope that this drought, which has been dented recently, particularly in Victoria if not altogether in New South Wales, is finished. But whether it is finished or not, let us make certain that we make use of the best of everyone’s ideas to make provision against the droughts of the future. I do not think we can regard what has happened in the last few years as a completely accidental or extraordinary occurrence. We must be prepared, as I am sure the members of this House now are, and will be, to suggest or recommend policies for our protection against future droughts. I support the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Nixon) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Order of the Day No. 4, Government Business, being called on.
Consideration resumed from 2nd May (vide page 1026), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
House adjourned at 11.44 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follow: 1 and 2. Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.C., A.F.C. (Chairman): Australian National Airlines Commission; Plessey Pacific Pty Ltd; I.B.M. Australia Pty Ltd; Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd.
Mr K. H. Vial (Vice Chairman): Australian National Airlines Commission; Frank Vial & Sons Pty Ltd; Australian Services Canteens Organisation.
Air Vice Marshal E. C. Wackett, C.B., C.B.E. (Member): Australian National Airlines Commission.
Mr J. E. V. Murdoch (Member): Australian National Airlines Commission; Swan Quarries Ltd.
Sir Reginald Groom (Member): Australian National Airlines Commission; Commonwealth Bank Corporation; Consolidated Rutile Ltd; Mount Isa Mines Ltd; Brolite Industries Ltd; The English Electric Co. of Australia Pty Ltd; P. & O. of Australia Pty Ltd; Besser Vibrapac Masonry (Qld) Ltd; Fire Fighting Equipment Ltd; General Rubber Co. Ltd.
Mr R. R. LawSmith, C.B.E., A.F.C. (Member): Australian National Airlines Commission; Qantas Airways Ltd and subsidiaries; Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and subsidiaries; National Bank of A/asia Ltd and subsidiaries; Australian Mutual Provident Society; Massey-Ferguson Holdings (Aust.) Ltd; Commonwealth Industrial Gases Ltd; Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd; Fairlie Investments Pty Ltd; Garden Towers Pty Ltd.
I would point out that in the Australian National Airlines Commission, as in other bodies and companies of comparable size, the Commissioners are principally concerned with matters of policy and material or major contractual arrangements. In dealing with these matters, the directors consider the recommendations of the Commission’s management and executive staff. Arrangements for the provision of normal supplies and services for the Commission’s day to day operations are controlled by its senior departmental officers.
To specifically answer this part of your question would entail examination of the procurement activities of the Commission over a period exceeding 10 years, a task of such magnitude that it would not be a practicable undertaking. However, if there is any special case which you have in mind, some inquiries could be made.
You may be assured, however, that the possibility of conflict of interest is adequately guarded against.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What numbers of cattle were imported from the Kimberley districts of Western Australia into the Northern Territory during the calendar years 1963 to 1967, inclusive, for slaughter at the (a) [Catherine meatworks and (b) Darwin meatworks?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cattle imports from the Kimberley districts of Western Australia into the Northern Territory for slaughter were:
The large Katherine kill of Kimberley cattlein 1967 was due partly to initial uncertainty whether the Wyndham abattoir would open and partly to keen competition for cattle by the management of the Katherine meatworks.
Northern Territory: Cattle (Question No. 78)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Darwin and Gulf District estimates are based only on existing pastoral lease areas and do not include Arnhem Land and other reserves which may also have comparable potential.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What are the conditions under which W. Angliss & Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd occupy and operates the Darwin abattoir?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
As at 30th June 1967, what was the (a) total number of cattle in the (i) Darwin and Gulf District, (ii) Victoria River District, (iii) Barkly Tableland District and (iv) Alice Springs District, (b) total cattle turnoff from Northern Territory cattle stations, (c) number of cattle exported from the Northern Territory to (i) Queensland, (ii) South
Australia, and (iii) Western Australia and (d) number of cattle slaughtered at the (i) Darwin abattoir and (ii) Katherine meatworks?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As at 30th June 1967, cattle statistics were:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Does he endorse the attitude of his predecessor, as expressed in answer to my question No. 190 (Hansard, 11 May 1967, page 2129), that no action should be taken in regard to the resumption of part or all of Mistake Creek in the Ord River watershed in an endeavour to prevent further erosion in that area?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Yes. Soil erosion control measures are under consideration and it is contemplated that appropriate; legislation will be introduced at an early date in the Northern Territory Legislative Council.
In general, resumption must be considered as a last resort because this would result in creation of an area, often remote, which would be the sole responsibility of the Government.It is preferredto carry out conservation and rehabilitation with the support of the land holder.
Prisoners of War in Vietnam (Question No. 148)
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Who are the members of the board of Qantas Airways Ltd?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. Sir Roland Wilson, K.B.E. (Chairman): Qantas Airways Ltd and its subsidiary companies; Commonwealth Banking Corporation; Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand.
Mr R. R. LawSmith, C.B.E., A.F.C. (Vice Chairman): Qantas Airways Ltd and its subsidiary companies; The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd Group; Massey Ferguson Holdings (Aust.) Ltd; The National Bank of Australasia Ltd and subsidiaries; Commonwealth Industrial Gases Ltd; Australian Mutual Provident Society; Australian National Airlines Commission; Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation; Fairlie Investments Pty Ltd; Garden Towers Pty Ltd.
Sir James Kirby, C’.B.E. (Member): Qantas Airways Ltd; Australian New Guinea Corporation Ltd; International Products Ltd and subsidiaries;
M.L.C. Assurance Co. Ltd; Reinsurance Co. of Australasia Ltd; Wales Superannuation Funds Ltd and subsidiaries; Wales Unit Investment Ltd; General Electric Kirby Appliances Ltd; James N. Kirby Holdings Pty Ltd and subsidiaries; C.S.R.C-Dow Pty Ltd; British Motor Corporation (Aust.) Pty Ltd; Australian General Electric Pty Ltd; Australian General Elec Sic (Appliances) Pty Ltd; Champion Spark Plug Coy. (Aust.) Pty Ltd.
Mr J. M. Fotheringham (Member): Qantas Airways Ltd; Huttons Ltd and subsidiaries; the Craftsman Press Pty Ltd; Fotheringhams Pty Ltd; Bently & Murray Pty Ltd.
Mr T. J. N. Foley, C.B.E. (Member): Qantas Airways Ltd; British Tobacco Co. (Australia) Ltd and its subsidiaries; Bank of New South Wales; Bank of New South Wales Savings Bank Ltd; the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd; Australian United Corporation Ltd; Courage Breweries Ltd.
Mr K. G. Wilkinson (Member): Qantas Airways Ltd; Humes Ltd; Hume Industries (Far East) Ltd; Hume Industries (New Zealand) Ltd; Martin Stoneware Pipe Pty Ltd; Standard Steel Pty Ltd; Viking Industrial Plastics Pty Ltd.
I would point out that in Qantas, as in other companies of comparable size, the board of directors is principally concerned with matters of policy and material or major contractual arrangements. In dealing with these matters, the directors consider the recommendations of the company’s management and executive staff.
Arrangements for the provision of normal supplies and services for the company’s day to day operations are controlled by the company’s senior departmental officers.
To specifically answer this part of your question would entail examination of the procurement activities of Qantas over a period exceeding 10 years, a task of such magnitude that it would not be a practicable undertaking. However, if there is any particular case which you have in mind, some inquiries could be made.
You may be assured, however, that the possibility of conflict of interest is adequately guarded against.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Item 47 - Administration by a medical practitioner of an anaesthetic other than an endotracheal anaesthetic, in connection with a dental operation -
Commonwealth benefit £1 ($2.00)
Item 48 - Administration by a medical practitioner of an endotracheal anaesthetic in connection with a dental operation-
Commonwealth benefit £2 ($4.00)
No figures are available of the actual amounts of Commonwealth benefit expended on the various items in the Schedule. However on the basis of surveys made from time to time it is estimated that the Commonwealth benefits paid for dental anaesthetics in 1962 and 1966 were:
2 and 3. All graduates working and experienced in the field of public health are from this year eligible to apply for the Public Health Travelling Fellowships awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. They are not specifically restricted to medical graduates.
Telephone Services (Question No. 178)
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1. (a) 329 at 8th April 1968. Of this total, 150 were deferred because of lack of equipment and/or line plant.
Greenough: Here again developing areas have created new demands for service and will necessitate the provision also of four new exchanges and associated works.
Yilgarn: There have been virtually no delays in this sub-division from causes over which the Department has direct control.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680509_reps_26_hor59/>.