26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 direct my question to the Prime Minister, lt is in respect of the Gove bauxite project in the Northern Territory. Is the Prime Minister aware that an agreement was entered into between Swiss Aluminium and a consortium of Australian institutions, each to retain 50% equity? ls this arrangement the result of the fact that more capital is needed because the economically viable output has now been found to be I million tons per year instead of 500,000 tons per year? If this consortium of Australian institutions cannot raise the necessary capital to maintain the 50% Australian equity, will the Australian Government make available the necessary finance by granting a loan or making a Government investment?
- Mr Speaker. I think I answered a question on this matter from an honourable member from Western Australia some time ago. The arrangements for Gove were indeed that there should be a joint consortium in which a number of Australian companies had a 50% interest. There have been a number of examinations since of the precise amount of capital required for the full development of Gove. These have been going on between the Australian interests and the Swiss interests and, I think, are still in process of discussion, lt would not be the practice for a parliament or a Commonwealth government to provide money for capital purposes for private industry of this kind.
– -In view of the fact that most school curricula studied by Aboriginal children are based on the needs of European children and that adolescent Aboriginals therefore will be forced to compete for occupations at a disadvantage with other school leavers, will the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs consider extending the education arrangements available to Aboriginals to allow for a special syllabus related lo their environmental background, and to create favourable conditions likely to attract teachers with a knowledge of Aboriginal culture? Will he investigate also the possibility of expanding the scholarship system and include provision for hostel accommodation for those who may be able to succeed in the formal subjects which lead ultimately to a tertiary education or to a career which may lead to successful integration?
– Our policy in relation to Aboriginal education is decided in consultation with the Department of Education and Science and is applied through the State governments in the States and in the Northern Territory through the Department of the Interior. I am glad lo be able to say to the honourable member that, in regard to the last part of the question, action has been taken already. Both in the States and in the Northern Territory, arrangements have been made that, as from the beginning of the next academic year, any Aboriginal who is qualified educationally to advance in primary, secondary or tertiary education or al the level of a technical college or college of advanced education will have available io him the necessary scholarship and residential facilities so that he can develop to the best of his ability.
The other question that the honourable member asked is, of course, a much more difficult one to answer, and one which does not admit of such a precise answer. The general objectives he has in mind are admirable; the ways of implementing them are not, however, easy io find. Il is true that there are differences in culture and background. We do not warn lo ride over these differences rough shod, but on the other hand we do noi want to be developing separate systems which over the long term, as opposed to the short term, will make it impossible for Aboriginal”; to advance fully in our community. The reconciliation of these two considerations is not easy. We are endeavouring lo recreate in Aboriginals a pride in their own culture and their own background. Where possible we would like to have more Aboriginal teachers trained, particularly lor teaching in the early part of the school curriculum where important language difficulties may be encountered, because Aboriginals, of course, have a facility which Europeans do not possess for teaching Aboriginal children.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Does he know that there is a strong feeling in Australia that the minimum voting age should be dropped to 18 years? In the interests of uniformity of State and Commonwealth law, will he arrange for this question to be discussed at the next Premiers Conference with a view to this much needed reform being introduced throughout the nation?
– I understand that this matter is on the agenda for discussion at the next conference of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. The matter is not as simple as the honourable member might make it appear, lt is not just a question of dropping the voting age; there is also a question of legal responsibility. However, the whole matter is on the agenda for discussion at the next conference of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General.
– Can the Minister for the Navy inform me of the significance of the presentation of the Queen’s colours, and the details of the accompanying ceremony, which will take place at the Olympic Park, No. 2 ground, Melbourne on 1st November 1968?
– In March last year the Royal Australian Navy ceased to use the White Ensign and now uses its own ensign. This change was brought, about during the period of office of my predecessor, the honourable member for Higinbotham, and the then Chief of the Naval Staff, Sir Alan McNicoll, and I would like personally to congratulate both of these gentlemen on making a change that had become necessary and desirable as the RAN continued to grow in both traditions and service. The ceremony on 1st November will be an historic one. Her Majesty has provided her own colours, which will take the form of an Australian ensign with the royal cipher and a crown superimposed. It will be a big day for the RAN. His Excellency the Governor-General has consented to present the colours on behalf of Her Majesty. Six RAN vessels will be in Melbourne on that day and 950 officers and men will be on parade. The best band in Australia, if 1 may claim that honour for the RAN band, will play. I can assure the citizens of Melbourne that this will be a notable occasion and a worthy spectacle, and I hope to see present as many of them, and other people, as arc able to attend. I can assure them that they will not be disappointed.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, by reminding him of the speech I made in the Parliament expressing disappointment over the removal of Magna Carta from this building and drawing attention to the fact that a former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, indicated that this is where Magna Carta ought to and would remain, fs the Prime Minister aware of the views expressed by some 100 members of this Parliament that this valuable - priceless - relic should be returned to Parliament House, and can he say whether anything can be done to carry out the wishes of Parliament?
– I think that this is a matter for the Houses of Parliament themselves acting through their Presiding Officers, because it does concern itself with material in the Houses of Parliament under the control of the Presiding Officers. The Houses of Parliament, their arrangements, their furnishings and what is placed in them are under the control of the Presiding Officers and are not a field, 1 think, in which the Executive as such should seek to intrude. But I have been given to understand that there is a very widespread feeling among honourable members on both sides of this House that they would wish to see the Magna Carta returned to the custody of Parliament and be physically in Parliament House.
Honourable members ; Hear, hear.
– I have been told, though I do not know this of my own knowledge, that more than 100 members of this House have indicated this view in writing. If this is so, I have no doubt that such an expression of opinion would be very carefully considered by those who should have the responsibility in this matter.
– Has the Treasurer seen a report that some life insurance companies are discriminating against Aboriginals who apply for life insurance policies? If he has seen the report can he say whether there is any substance in it? If the report is correct, will he use his influence to cause life insurance companies to base their premiums on life policies for Aboriginals on the medical report of the applicant and his family history, as is done with all other persons, rather than on racial grounds?
– 1 have not seen the report to which the honourable gentleman has referred, but I will refer his question to the appropriate officer in the Treasury or to the Insurance Commissioner to ensure that a report is obtained from the Life Offices Association for Australasia and other offices, too, in order to ascertain whether any discrimination is practised. 1 hope that no discrimination is practised. I will, of course, draw the contents of the honourable gentleman’s question to the attention of any insurance company that is discriminating against Aboriginals in the way he suggests.
– Has the Prime Minister emphasised the Gove bauxite project as a model for joint ventures involving Australian and overseas capital? Is there any danger of a whittling away of the 50% Australian interest in the project? If so. what action does the right honourable gentleman contemplate to prevent this erosion of Australia’s interest in the Gove project?
– I have no recollection of specifically emphasising the Gove project as a mode], although there is no doubt in my mind that the greatest possible extent of Australian equity in developments of this kind must be good for Australia. For example, I understand that. Mount Newman has some 60% of Australian capital invested in it. As to what will happen in the development of Gove eventually, I am not at this moment in a position to say, but clearly there has been and is provided an opportunity to Australian private enterprise to obtain a percentage of the equity about which the honourable member spoke, and that, in itself, I would regard as the proper thing to have been done.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Army. In view of the continuing record of tragedy and near tragedy through accident, illness and isolation in northern Australia during the wet months - that is from December to March - when vast areas of the north become a quagmire, and in view of the critical role that helicopters could play in providing what very often would be the only possible form of rescue, will the Minister take every step possible to have Army helicopters available in this area during that period?
– I am not unsympathetic towards the reasons which have generated the honourable gentleman’s question. I will study the matter with a view to seeing to what extent the Army can be helpful. I can tell the honourable gentleman that al the present time the Army has a number of rotary wing aircraft of the Sioux helicopter type situated at Amberley in Northern Command. It is proposed to relocate some of these aircraft at a later stage - I think late in 1969 - at Townsville. This would provide an opportunity for these aircraft to be used in situations of civil emergency. I will certainly see to what extent it may be possible to expedite the relocation of the aircraft and thus obviously provide an answer to the need mentioned by the honourable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: In view of the urgency of the construction of a railway line between Cockburn and Broken Hill, when does the Government propose to introduce the appropriate legislation in this Parliament? Will he make representations to the States to introduce their legislation? I understand the work cannot commence until the Parliaments concerned do so.
– My understanding, and doubtless that of the honourable member, is that legislation has already been introduced in this place. As I ‘understand the position, it is expected that the debate will continue on the day after the House resumes immediately following next week’s recess. However, I am not certain what stage the State legislation has reached. Of course, it is necessary that that legislation bc passed, too, before construction can commence. I have been told that the State legislation should bc introduced in the Parliaments of New South Wales and South Australia within about a fortnight. lt is intended that construction will begin immediately the legislation has been passed by the three parliaments. The honourable member will be aware that it has been possible to undertake the planning necessary prior to the commencement of construction. Accordingly, although the legislation has not yet been passed it has been possible to complete quite a deal of work, with the result that there is not expected to be any undue delay in the completion of the work which is scheduled for the latter part of 1969.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Interior. Has the Government made any decision about the Federal electoral redistribution in Queensland as yet? If so, what is the decision?
– The Government has made a decision. 1 will be referring the redistribution proposals for Queensland back to the commissioners today in the hope that they can deal with them fairly quickly, and in the further hope that the proposals will again come before the House before the Christmas recess.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral the following questions: Is private first class mail coming out of Hanoi to private citizens in Australia subject to security or other checks before it reaches the addressee in Australia? Can he explain why a first class air mail1 letter from Hanoi to a responsible Australian citizen took 22 days from the time it was postmarked till it reached the addressee in Australia when the Department says that it should take only from 3 to 5 days? In view of the evidence that this letter has been opened at least once before it finally reached the addressee in Australia, I ask: Has the PostmasterGeneral or the Government authorised the Postmaster-General’s Department or any other department to open and censor private first class mail letters from this source?
– The Post and Telegraph Regulations do not give authority to the Post Office to open private first class mail. However, there is within the Regulations the opportunity for the Post Office to take action if it believes that a letter does contain matter that I might broadly describe as indecent or pornographic. As it would not appear that the letter to which the honourable member referred comes within this classification, there would be no authority for anyone in the Post Office to open that letter.
The honourable member mentioned the time taken for the letter to reach Australia from Hanoi. Of course, I cannot be sure on the basis of the mere statement that he made that there, was a delay in Australia. The delay may have occurred before the letter got to Australia. Very often in overseas services there is not the same efficiency as there is in the Australian service and quite considerable delay occurs. In this instance it is a question of the frequency of mail movements from the country where the letter was actually posted. If the letter appeared to have been opened at the time it was received, I think it would have been better for this to have been pointed out to the Post Office authorities rather than the person concerned reopening the letter and then asserting that it had been, in fact, opened by someone else. I think it is better to have the proof in advance rather than have suggested proof after the event.
– I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. I refer the honourable gentleman to his recent statement reminding people changing their addresses to advise their local post offices of their new addresses so that mail addressed to them can be forwarded to them. In view of the fact that telephone directories, which contain addresses, are only reprinted annually, and in view of the fact that many other records of addresses are updated on an annual basis, could the Postmaster-General investigate the possibility of post offices keeping advices of new addresses for 12 months instead of 6 months as at present, thereby helping to reduce the number of dead letters?
– The Post Office adopts the altitude that it is preferable for people to make private arrangements in relation to the readdressing of letters or mail if they move from the addresses where they have been living. Nevertheless, it is appreciated that this is not always possible. The arrangement is that the Post Office will redirect such mail for a period of 6 months. But I would point out that there is a good deal of work involved in this and some postmen have current at the moment more than fifty redirection notices. As many people would receive quite a substantial amount of mail, it will be appreciated that considerable time is involved in the readdressing process. We feel that 6 months gives people reasonable time to advise their correspondents of a change of address, and that we should not act beyond this period except in very special circumstances where there is a requirement for the Post Office to continue redirection of individual mail.
– Has the Prime Minister taken any special precautions since he became Prime Minister to control the use of VIP aircraft by Ministers and other people? If so, what are the precautions? Is he satisfied that use of these aircraft is not being abused, or are certain Ministers still using them as taxis to fly between Canberra and Sydney and Melbourne? Will the right honourable gentleman table the papers giving details of flights for each of the aircraft in the VIP fleet since February this year?
– The Minister for Air will answer the question.
– General guide lines are laid down for the use of VIP aircraft, including their use by Ministers. I will be very happy to table full details of all flights since February this year. I will do this as soon as I can get the necessary information - probably within a few days.
– Will the Prime Minister indicate what progress has been made in negotiations for a new International Sugar Agreement? Is there any truth in the statement that agreement on the matter has been reached?
– I understand that all the negotiations going on in the sugar conference being held in Geneva ended today. I am further given to understand that the Australian delegation which is present, which is led by the Minister for Trade and Industry and which includes the Queensland Premier and representatives of all sections of the industry from Australia, gives the agreement which has been reached unanimous approval and regards it as being of great value to Australia.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. As some person unknown got a fair slice of the right honourable gentleman’s cake, is it possible for the States to get a larger cut of the financial cake or can the States have their cake and eat it too?
– It is quite true that some person or persons unknown did manage to extract a portion of a normal cake which was sent to me. lt is also true that at the last Premiers Conference a very large slice of the financial cake was handed over to the Premiers of the various States by the Treasurer and myself. So in that way perhaps the matter is on all fours. I think it would be clear to the honourable member and, indeed; to all honourable members that in the situation in which we now find ourselves, where we have full employment, where we have full use of the materials available, the mere provision of more sums of money is not going to ensure that more is done, because where are the extra men and the extra materials to come from unless some other area is invaded?
– I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to the one which he has just answered. If it is true that materials and men cannot be obtained for necessary State works in education, development, the building of hospitals and in many other ways, due to the existing condition of full employment, will the right honourable gentleman say whether the Government has any plans to overcome the problem or will it continue to say that full employment prevents it from taking effective action?
– The first point I think 1 should make in answer to that question is that a great deal of necessary work is going on in the fields of hospitals, education and those other matters mentioned by the honourable member. Indeed, in the case of several States it is clear that these States were not only able to provide this year greatly increased amounts of money for the matters of which the honourable member speaks but also to achieve a budget surplus at the end of the year. In regard to the second part of the question, the Government is, as the honourable member might know, increasing. I think quite successfully, the migrant intake into this country and it is also seeing, because of its management of the economy, that all those school leavers who in greater numbers every year are going on to the labour market have no difficulty in achieving employment and contributing to that growth which alone can enable the full use of all Australia’s resources.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Education and Science a question which is really supplementary to the one asked by the honourable member for Riverina on Tuesday last. Is the Minister aware that when I was Minister for the Interior I subsidised thelate Mr Inigo Jones at the rate of £1,000 a year, and in return he made all his weather cycle researches and data at Crohamhurst available to the Bureau of Meteorology? Is it not a fact that the late MrInigo Jones forecast the recent drought about 10 years ago? Has this data on weather cycles which was available at Crohamhurst been made available to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the research which was referred to, as I said, earlier this week? If not, why not in view of the statement by the Minister that too short a time has elapsed for the CSIRO experts to reach any conclusions as to the value of studying weather cycles?
– The matter which I was referring to yesterday involved some new procedures and techniques that were being tried in one of the divisions of the CSIRO. In that sense these new techniques, which I do not think were related to the work ofInigo Jones, had been tried for only a very short time. I am not aware of the precise position in relation to the records ofInigo Jones, but I will make some inquiries and see whether these are available to the CSIRO or, through my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, to the Bureau of Meteorology, and I will also ascertain what the current position is in relation to these matters and the other questions which were asked by the honourable member.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he was correctly reported in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald’ as stating that the Government could rapidly become embarrassed because of high consumer spending, with a consequent rise in imports. As we have had a further additionto our trading deficit for the first 3 months of the current financial year of approximately $50m, as the Treasurer is aware, does he agree that the deficitbalance on current account for this financial year will be similar to that at the end of last financial year? Does he agree that due to a declining inflow of foreign investment our reserves are likely to fall by $500m this financial year? Apart from exercising control through the Reserve Bank, what action does the Government take to protect our foreign reserves?
– It seems strange that on this occasion the honourable gentleman has not co-ordinated his thinking with that of the honourable member for Yarra. who has just asked a question. It is obvious that on financial matters they disagree, whereas on political issues and matters connected with foreign affairs they are as one. Let me now answer the question. The report in this morning’s newspaper happens to refer to an alleged statement of what 1 said at the party meeting yesterday. I have no intention of commenting on it.
I turn to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question about whether or not there is likely to be a deficit on current account this year equal to that of last year. The probability is that it will not be less this year than it was last year because of the increase in exports and because we. hope to export more rural products this year than we exported last year. T regard the honourable gentleman’s reference to a likely deficit in our balance of payments of S500m as an extraordinary statement, and an exaggerated one as well. I pointed out at the time when the Budget was presented that the Government considered the deficit this year would be one that could be easily absorbed in view of the foreign assets we hold at the present time. But T also have to state to the House now that as a result of my recent mission overseas and the borrowings that we were able to make abroad - I mentioned yesterday a borrowing of 200 million Deutsche marks - we now think that the outlook for official borrowings is more favourable than we thought it was before. Therefore we believe that far from being $500m. the deficit in our balance of payments will be significantly less than we anticipated at the time of the Budget.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Army. I refer to the Citizen Military Forces special units which were established following the introduction of national service to provide national service optees particularly those in country areas, with an opportunity to complete their obligation by attending annual camps instead of weekly parades. I ask: Has the scheme been successful? Is it open to nonnational service optees? Are there any plans for expanding the scheme?
– With the introduction of national service the Government provided an option whereby persons could attend weekly evening training, week-end bivouacs and an annual camp of about 14 days duration, in the Citizen Military Forces. However, it was found that a number of national service registrants were unable to exercise this option either because of the nature of their vocation, which denied them the possibility of undertaking evening training, or because they lived in areas remote from CMF depots. To cater for this group the Army introduced the concept of the CMF special units which have proved to be particularly successful. At present there are five such units. Whereas the scheme was initially restricted to national service optees it has now been widened to include volunteers - that is, non-national service optees - provided they meet the same criteria in relation to the nature of employment and place of residence as apply to the optee At present there are no plans for enlarging the concept of the CMF special units because of a shortage of Regular Army cadre personnel.
– I address to the Treasurer a question which relates to the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. Does this Act contain any provision whereby an employing authority can compel an injured employee to undergo surgery, such as a craniectomy, without first obtaining the consent of the patient or of his next of kin? In such circumstances, and where continuing ill health exists, what recourse to justice is open to the employee? Are any legal forms available to such an employee which would ensure that he obtained justice in his search for a return to good health?
– Naturally I cannot keep all the provisions of a Bill in mind. As the honourable gentleman knows, we will be presenting a Bill to the House as soon as the Crown Law officers can prepare it. 1 should be very surprised if there were any provisions in that Bill which permitted an operation without the consent of an individual or of his next of kin. The honourable member may be assured that I will have a good look at the Bill and if I find that there is any substance in the question he has asked I will promptly let him know and will see that the position is remedied.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral outline a timetable for the setting up of the new Commonwealth superior court?
– It is difficult to give a detailed timetable for a project of this size. However, I can tell the House that I hope to introduce a Bill before we rise prior to Christmas and to let the Bill lie on the table of the House over the recess. This will be a Bill lo establish the Commonwealth superior court. We are still experiencing one or two difficulties in the final drafting of it, although 1 have had a printed draft available. There could be some difficulties, but the intention is as I have stated. Assuming the Bill is passed in the autumn session, it will still be necessary to make a lot of administrative arrangements. 1 plan to have a principal registrar appointed, and he would make arrangements for the operation of the court. Obviously it will still be a considerable period before the court can be established. Indeed a secondary operation is involved. More than 120 Commonwealth Acts which deal with legal proceedings or prosecutions will require individual amendment. This is a somewhat mechanical operation, ft will progress and 1 would hope to have the amendments of those Acts coming forward early next year.
– Will the Acts that provide appeals from administrative decisions be included?
– No. I did mention appeals from administrative tribunals at the time the proposed establishment of the court was announced and said we would consider this aspect, lt will not be dealt with in the Bill as it is presented. Indeed, we have found that an enormous variety of tribunals and officers give administrative decisions and 1 have appointed a committee to inquire into this matter, lt will be under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Kerr and will have on it the Solicitor-General and Professor Whitmore. The committee is undertaking the task of looking at this aspect and it will not be dealt with in the initial Bill establishing the Court. Depending on the report of the committee, this aspect could be incorporated at a later stage. The examination of it is obviously a long term job. I think we would be lucky if the court were established by the end of next year.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. As next Monday will be the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic, 1 ask him a question relating to the situation of those who have recently come here after the third eclipse of liberty in that country. He will have noticed from replies by his Minister that, owing to different State laws, it is proving difficult to place doctors who have arrived from Czechoslovakia. I ask him whether the Government has considered the situation of children of school age who have arrived without a knowledge of English and whether it will ensure that they and their families can more quickly take their place in the Australian community by subsidising special leaching for such children in our schools where, as he knows, no provision is made for teaching English to those who do not already speak it.
– The Minister for Immigration will answer the question.
– The honourable gentleman’s question raises two aspects. The first is the recognition of qualifications obtained overseas. As the question was pui, ii related particularly to doctors, although when I think of this factor I think of it over the broad range and not merely in terms of the medical or paramedical professions. At this present time I have before me a draft letter that is about to go to my colleagues, the State Ministers for Immigration, drawing to their attention a proposal that I hope will make a very big impact on the whole area of recognition of qualifications, in essence, it seeks their co-operation in the formation of a really first class, high calibre committee which will examine the qualifications granted by European universities and establish their equivalence relative io similar qualifications granted by Australian universities. When this is done, the registration authorities and professional bodies will be able to compare one qualification with another; but the work of the really high calibre committee must first be done. That action will be put in train with the cooperation of my colleagues in the various States and their colleagues in various areas.
The other aspect raised by the honourable gentleman is the teaching of English to school children. All the Stales have made some effort to do this but the approach, comparing one State with another, has been disoriented, if 1 may use the term without disrespect to the States. The Stale that has so far appeared to do the most is Victoria. I have been asked whether I would provide funds to subsidise the teaching of the English language to these children. However, as the teaching is done in the ordinary educational format of the State schools I have been reluctant to enter into such an arrangement until I know what is really happening. I and my Department conferred with the Minister for Education and Science and his Department. We came to the conclusion that the best approach was to make a thorough professional examination to determine the best method of teaching the English language to school children. The research unit of the New South Wales Department of Education has been conducting an experiment for the whole of this year. T expect that at the end of this year this body will be able to make a report which will be comprehensive as to the best method of doing it. When that report is received, I propose to let it go to all the States so that there can then be some discussion of the matter and so that we will be in a position to apply a uniform method of teaching. We shall then apply, as recommended by the research unit, the best method of research teaching.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. refer to the unprecedented regional drought continuing in the EdenMonaro, Moss Vale and Cobar districts of New South Wales and to my continuous representations on this matter since it became apparent, early in September, that these regions were likely to continue to be drought affected beyond 30th September, whereas the drought had broken in the rest of New South Wales. In responding to the specific submission regarding these drought affected areas from the Premier of New South Wales, did the Commonwealth Government agree to provide financial assistance on the whole range of proposals in that submission? ls this the first time that the Commonwealth has recognised regional drought as a natural disaster in the same terms as flood and fires by providing $1 for SI assistance? Was provision of finance for the employment of people put out of work because of the drought, whether farm owners or employees, included in the submission? Was there any proposal in the submission for a subsidy on feed wheat? Have any further proposals been received from the Premier of New South Wales for additional drought assistance in these regions?
- Mr Speaker, I believe that this is the first occasion on which the Commonwealth Government has recognised a region of this kind as a special case for drought assistance. I would not be certain of that, but I believe that that is so. What the Commonwealth Government offered to do was to provide finance for all those activities which had been going on under the drought assistance previously given by the Commonwealth Government. That of course was used in part by councils to provide employment for persons owning farms who had to move off their farms because of drought. I think the short, simple and clearest answer to the honourable member is that all the provisions which applied previously were offered on a $1 for SI basis and there was no specific request for subsidy on feed wheat.
– Mr Speaker, for the information of honourable members, I present the report of the Australian Delegation to the Fifty-first Session of the International Labour Conference held at Geneva in June 1967. I move:
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
- Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to make a personal explanation.
Does the Minister for Primary Industry claim to have been misrepresented?
– -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr Speaker, in today’s issue of the ‘Daily Telegraph’, there is an article with the heading ‘Warning on advance cut’. The article reads:
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) warned today that the Federal Government was considering a cut in advance payment to the Wheat Board.
He told the Australian Primary Producers Union conference that the Government might reduce the St. 10 a bushel paid for the last 11 years as the first advance to the Board.
I did not make either of these statements. What 1 did was to draw attention to the difficulties involved in maintaining the level of the first advance payment to growers at $1.10 per bushel, and to point out the advantages of having the best available information on the likely volume of deliveries of wheat before a decision was made. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard the text of my remarks relating to this specific item in my address to the conference yesterday. The text reads:
A matter which I believe gives many people much more cause for concern than the stabilisation plan is the question of the level of the first advance payment on the crop now coming in. As you know, the Wheat Board pays the first advance on all wheat delivered lo it. The money is made available to the Board by the Reserve Bank on the security of a Commonwealth Government guarantee, lt is paid out to growers long before any substantial part of it has been covered by sales, and perhaps before any sales of the new crop have been made.
For eleven consecutive seasons now the rate has been $1.10 per bushel less freight from grower’s siding to ports. In recent years when there have been big crops the total sum involved has been enormous. There is an annual problem for the Government in deciding the level of the first advance, and many things have to be considered, including the size of the overdraft and the ability of the Wheat Board to clear the overdraft within the 12-month period stipulated clearly by legislation. This depends on the volume of sales, both domestic and export; the level of the home consumption and export prices; and the extent to which export sales are made on credit.
We all know that growers would like to have an assurance well in advance of the start of the season that the first advance will at least be maintained at the level of the past few years. But it is no easy matter, even when harvesting has begun, to obtain an accurate estimate of the size of the crop, the quantity which will be delivered to the Board and so the amount of money involved in making the first advance. Only a couple of weeks ago it was being stated quite confidently that the crop would be around 530 million bushels. On current estimates it may be less than SOO million bushels- 480 million bushels, on some estimates. Even at that figure, the Board’s overdraft on the 1968-69 pool would be around $560m for the first advance if it were to be maintained at $1.10 pe; bushel. This figure would include an amount of about $33m for storage, handling and administration charges.
The Wheat Board will end its marketing year on the 30th November with a carryover of 40 million bushels plus, lt has to dispose of this wheat before it gets any proceeds from the export of the 1968-69 harvest so there will be no money coming in for the new season’s wheat until some time in the New Year. In the past, the Board has sold more than one-third of its exports on credit so that the proceeds of some sales lag well behind shipments. In fact some of the money eventually due to the Board from shipments made one year hence won’t become due until two years from now. 1 hope the industry will understand from (his why the Government has so far been unable to make a decision, and why it is in the interests of all concerned lo ensure that we have the best available information on the likely volume of deliveries and the prospects for export sales and prices before making a decision.
Tn the newspaper report there was obviously some inadvertence also, because words which were spoken by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) in yesterday’s debate on the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Bill were attributed to me.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)by leave - In a speech 1 made on 28th August 1968 I stated that Metro Meat Ltd had been involved in a transaction concerning tenders for the supply of meat through the Department of Supply and that I had written to the present Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), who was then Minister for Supply, asking that an investigation be made of what appeared on the surface lo be an irregular transaction.
– In 1964. I have been interviewed by representatives of Metro Meat Ltd and my attention has been directed to the fact that Metro Meat Ltd did not submit a tender on the occasion to which 1 referred. The only two companies which submitted tenders were S.A. Bacon Co. Pty Ltd and W. Angliss and Co. (Aust) Pty Ltd. When I made the speech in August this year J was speaking off the cuff and had to rely on memory 4 years old. I later checked my records and discovered that the reason why Metro Meat Ltd had come to my mind was that in my letter lo the then Minister for Supply in 1964 I had related to him the fact that S.A. Bacon Co. Pty Ltd had informed me that it had learned unofficially that Metro Meat Ltd, which had previously been a supplier of meat, had not submitted a tender when they were just called that year, and the opinion had been expressed - this is stated in my letter to the Minister - that the real reason for reopening the tender was to enable Metro Meat Ltd to come into the field again.
The Minister had exhaustive inquiries made into the matter. I think in the end he called in the Commonwealth investigation service. He satisfied me, in the reply that he finally sent me, that there was nothing irregular, although be made the point that it had been discovered that information had been given to the tenderer which should not have been given and that although this was unwise it seemed doubtful that the information was of advantage to the company concerned. However, as a consequence of this matter being raised by me the District Contracts Board tightened up its procedures and it is no longer possible to reopen tenders without first obtaining approval from the central office in Melbourne. To the extent that I have harmed Metro Meat Ltd by stating the position slightly out of context, I apologise.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 5th November, at 2.30 p.m.
– -In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, T present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Commonwealth Government clothing factory, Coburg, Victoria.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Mr Nixon) - by leave - agreed to:
That a select committee be appointed to consider and report upon -
Financial Relations - Vietnam - Use of Army Helicopters in Northern AustraliaPensioner Medical Scheme - Sheltered Workshops - Taxation - United Nations Day
That grievances be noted.
- Mr Speaker, this morning 1 wish to draw attention to a matter which has been raised with me and of which, I must admit, 1 had very little knowledge until it was raised. 1 consider that it is a scandalous miscarriage of justice. It concerns the recruitment or drafting of veterinary science graduates into national service and into fields of work in national service which are not even remotely concerned, at any stage, with their profession, after 5 years of intensive training at a university. This is not the case with other professions which call for equal intensification of university training. Medical, pharmaceutical and dental graduates enter the Army under the National Service Act, some with a commission and some without a commission, but in most cases they do work which is applicable to their training. It costs approximately $9,000 of taxpayers money to train a veterinary science student at a university, in addition to what it costs the student himself or his family.
One would think that in the Army there is scope for the use of the training and intelligence of veterinary science graduates, in a country where livestock is one of our most important assets. I believe that the present system means a colossal waste of intelligence. 1 do not know of any other country of similar standing to Australia in which this sort of thing is done. For example, the United States of America has its own veterinary corps in Vietnam. The United Kingdom. France and other countries which recruit such men have their own veterinary corps, lt is not just a case of examining animals. First of all, veterinary training in parasitology, pathology and microbiology is certainly directly concerned with the transmission of diseases from animals, either directly to man or indirectly through the consumption of animal products. It would seem to me that a very strong case can be made regarding veterinary science graduates undergoing national service, and that something must be done by the Government lo slop this colossal waste of manpower and human intelligence.
One could argue, in terms of economics, that veterinary science is potentially one of the most important professions in Australia, because Australia is living on borrowed time wilh respect to the introduction of exotic diseases such as foot and mouth disease, rabies, rinderpest and blue tongue. We are the only country of our standing in which these diseases are not to be found and in which there has not been an outbreak of these diseases of any note, lt is over 100 years since foot and mouth disease occurred in Australia. When we consider the number of sheep that we have, the contribution of wool to our balance of payments, the 14 million head of cattle that we have, and the export income of $200m a year from beef and veal, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Australia not only would result in an embargo being placed on our exports of beef, veal, mutton and other meats but also would completely cripple the economy until it was eradicated.
It must be remembered that the virus of foot and mouth disease is a filtrable virus and is transmissible in wool and clothing. In terms of economics alone there is a grave need for university graduates in veterinary science who are drafted into national service to be allowed to continue in their training in that science. At the
University of Queensland this year there are thirty-five final year veterinary science students - potential graduates - who are eligible for national service. Of that number sixteen have undergone their national service medical examination and arc awaiting call up. In other words, of the final year students 45% may he going into the Army. In the Army they will be given ail types of work, but none of these will bc relevant lo their 5 years of intensive study, which is vital to the welfare of Australia. Some kind of veterinary corps should be established to serve nol only in Australia bill also overseas. We have not yet a defence corps in Australia lo combat the introduction of exotic diseases. I can see no reason why such a revolving corps, wilh men coming in and going out every year, could not be trained to go into action immediately in any pari of Australia to combat the introduction of exotic diseases such as foot anil mouth disease, rinderpest and rabies.
– The Light Horse has been cut out for a while.
– That is how much the honourable member for La Trobe appreciates a knowledge of veterinary science. He implies that veterinarians are concerned only with horses. Apparently he does not know that foot and mouth disease is transmissible through meat, for a start. Apparently he is not aware of the serious communications that have already been sent by the Australian Veterinary Association to the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) and to the Government on this problem. There are about 300 animal diseases that arc communicable, directly or indirectly, by man. One of them is brucellosis and another is undulant fever. Apparently the policy of members of the Liberal Party is such that they could not care less if an exotic disease entered Australia. Apparently this is their philosophy.
We know of the increased tempo of foreign fishermen in northern Australia. Only last week the United Graziers Association reported that thousands of wild pigs exist in the area surrounding the Gulf of Carpentaria and these pigs have been seen rooting through the refuse and garbage which is being dumped from foreign ships on Austraiian shores. Exotic diseases would constitute an economic scourge if they entered this country. The introduction of a deadly virus such as that which causes fool and mouth disease would lead to economic death. Something must be done to prevent those who graduate in veterinary science after 5 years of valuable intensive training at the university from being used to drive trucks or to act as cooks’ assistants in the Army.
– During the week ending 28th September I was accompanied lo Canberra by my wife. During the Monday or Tuesday of that week and after making use of the toilet facilities on the main floor in the new wing on the House of Representatives side of this building my wife, prior to washing her hands, removed an amethyst ring from her finger and placed it on a shelf immediately in front of the basin. No doubt this is a common practice and other people have quite often done the same. I suppose history is studded with millions of such cases. People are warned not to do this. We probably warn our children in their early childhood not to do this. My wife retired from the ladies’ room and took up a position in this House. She returned to the ladies’ room about half an hour later to find that the amethyst ring, which was worth some dollars, had disappeared. I made the necessary inquiries through the Secretary of the Joint House Department to see whether the ring could be located. The Secretary was very cooperative and he made preliminary inquiries, mainly in the area in the new wing where this particular ladies’ room is located and in the adjoining older parts of the building. When the ring could not be found, at the suggestion of the Secretary officers of the detective section of the Canberra police force were called in. The police made further investigations but without result. I have no complaint about the investigation made by these officers.
Thieving is something that appears to happen in this place. What surprises me is that when I mentioned iti a variety of locations in Parliament House the disappearance of “this ring I was told of cases of thieving and pilfering in the building over a period of time. I have been given authority to mention the names of some of the members. A transistor radio has disappeared from the room of the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). Also a transistor radio has disappeared from the room of the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson). The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall) has had valuables taken from his room. I was informed only this morning that the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) has had a succession of petty pilfering from his variety of locations in this building over a period of years. 1 suppose one should not regard Parliament House as being different from anywhere else, and no doubt people of this nature will pass through it from time to time. But I wonder whether we should accept it in this vein. Should this type of thing be going on in the top forum of the nation?
I have mentioned the names of a few honourable members who have made known this pilfering. But I am more interested to know of the number of occasions that pilfering has occurred in this building but has not been reported in the House. I would be interested to hear from honourable members who have found themselves victims of this situation. To lake this matter a little further I ask: Just what sort of security prevails in the House? There are certainly more important things such as valuable documents that honourable members leave in their rooms under the impression that the material is safe and away from prying eyes. But when a petty pilferer can move into a member’s room, take the articles I have mentioned and get away with it, what about the expert who may be seeking important information as far as the Parliament is concerned? I would think the opportunity for him to do this would be just so easy as to be almost laughable.
I wonder whether this is an opportune time for you, Sir, and the Presiding Officer of the Senate to examine the security arrangements in the House. An investigation could be carried out to see whether the security arrangements were sufficient to prevent any incursions into the security of the more important aspects of Parliament House. Sir, can I put this to you: As the Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives perhaps you, together with your colleague in another place, might consider the value of investigating security arrangements?
I have brought this matter forward in the hope of amplifying and giving some publicity to it for two reasons. The major reason I have indicated to the House. The second reason is to persuade honourable members who have been the victims of pilfering to report the incidents so that we can collate them and get some indication of how prevalent they are. Also, the pilferers will now know that the members of this House are aware of what is happening and that action will be taken to bring the persons responsible to justice.
– I appreciate the action of the honourable member for St George in bringing this matter before the House and to my attention. I will certainly confer with the Presiding Officer of the Senate in regard to the problem that the honourable member has raised. It is one, I am sure, that we all deplore. I assure the House that security measures will be looked at and that all efforts will be made to stop petty thieving. 1 think that one or two instances that have come to my notice have not been mentioned by the honourable member this morning. We will endeavour to tighten the security measures and catch those who are responsible for the pilfering and “see they are dealt with.
– In taking advantage of the Grievance Day debate, I wish to bring before the House a subject that I referred to about 4 years ago. Last year the Right Honourable Harold Holt promised he would bring down legislation to grant compensation in such a case as I have in mind. One honourable member, Mr Cameron, also was involved in the conversation with Mr Holt on that occasion and ever since 1 have been looking to him to assist me to persuade the Government to follow up the matter. Sometimes one would think it is a dying hope to get any compensation for or restitution of what my man has lost. But when we read in today’s newspaper about the heart transplant that has been performed at St Vincent’s Hospital and the many other miracles of surgery, one has to wonder. I feel that the time has been reached not only for Mr Cameron to do something but for the Parliament of this country to take some action.
I would not be doing my duty if I did not bring this matter to the notice of the House today. I have had many congratulatory remarks, letters and telegrams about my successful campaign for the restoration of the Sydney General Post Office clock. This was a very big job. For a long time the Government avoided its responsibilities in that matter just as it is evading its responsibility to have the walls of the Post Office cleaned. On three occasions I have asked the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) to authorise someone to give the walls a wash down and he told me that this was done 5 years ago. But a man working in the place can vouch for the fact that it has not been done for 30 years.
– The Postmaster-General said that there are dirtier buildings in Sydney.
– There are dirtier buildings in Sydney but that is not the answer. The then Postmaster-General, Sir Charles Davidson, told me that it would cost $100,000 or $200,000 to restore the clock. He had this figure up to $300,000 in the finish. When the Labor Government had the clock removed in wartime the estimate of the cost of restoring was £60,000. When the tower was dismantled clock, chimes and 600 tons of stone were marked off and put into storage at Maroubra. Long after the war tenders were called for the restoration of the clock and one. Edwards, a builder living in Glebe, was chosen to restore it at a cost of $90,000.
But this morning it is not the replacement of the clock that is troubling me. I wish to refer to the case of a man who met with a very serious accident in his working time. I first raised the matter in 1964, and the case was mentioned in the ‘Medical Journal’ and the ‘New York Times’. If it has appeared in those two publications surely there is nothing wrong with my speaking now on behalf of this person. The man applied for the position of and was engaged as a cleaner in one of the large buildings in Sydney. He had been working at the job for 9 months in a commendable manner. One day he and another man began to move a sofa from one room to another. The other gentleman allowed his end of the sofa to drop. That is where all the trouble started. The man was hit low down. After a few days, he was in great pain. He was taken to hospital, was operated on and suffered the loss of one of his privates. The then Minister for Social Services, Mr Hugh Roberton, was approached about the man’s financial circumstances, but no-one could have seen a worse man than Mr Roberton because he did not want to hear anything at all about the victim’s troubles. I tried hard to get a social services benefit for this man while he was out of work. The only excuse given in the office of the Department of Social Services for not paying a benefit to the man was that his papers had not been filled out properly. I pointed out the position in which the man found himself. I said that the almoner at the hospital had filled in his papers and that they should have been satisfactory.
After a few days the man was in great pain. He was taken to hospital where he underwent an operation. I put the man’s case to the Minister for Social Services. I pointed out that his papers had been filled in by the almoner and that certain questions remained unanswered. I told the Minister that the man had been refused compensation for his condition. The Minister insisted that the man should not be paid because his application was not satisfactory. To cut a long story short, from that day until this the man has received no compensation. [ told the Minister that 1 intended to raise the matter in the House. I said: ‘1 would like you to help me to introduce this subject. What should I say? I cannot go into the House and say that this man is now a gelding. What would be the proper way in which to describe his condition? Should I refer to his privates or his testicles?’ The Minister said: ‘Leave it to me and 1 will look into it.’ That was the end of the matter. For 18 months this man received no compensation for his condition. T went to the hospital and did everything T could for him. He went back to work, but after about 3 days he had a recurrence of his trouble. I have shown him the schedule to the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, which T would like to see incorporated in Hansard. The schedule provides that for the loss of a great toe a person may receive £860 and for the loss of any other toe, £344. So, if a person lost two toes - a big toe and a little toe - he would collect about £1,200. but there is no legislation in Australia under which this man can receive justice. Three months after he left hospital he had to pay two bills, one for £110 from a hospital in Darlinghurst and the other for £125 from a hospital in North Sydney. He had two bills but he was minus two of something else. He had no job. 1 tried hard to get him a job through the Commonwealth Employment Service. 1 succeded in getting him a job as a cleaner in a big emporium in Sydney. He did his work very well for a while, just as he did something else for a while. I trust that the Government will look into the matter that 1 have raised when the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Bill is before the Parliament next week and that it will provide some compensation for the man to whom I have referred. His wife has seen solicitors-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Australian legend is a very simple one. It has been based on the simple principle of egalitarianism. This has found its way into our political life and our economic life. It is the application of the Australian principle of egalitarianism which now needs to be reconsidered, one would think, in respect of relations between the States and the Commonwealth. So it is about economic federalism that I would like to address a few words this morning.
In 1959 when substantially the present arrangements were entered into for the contribution of moneys by the Commonwealth to the States, the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, stated the principles of fiscal equalisation which were to govern the disbursement of those moneys as between the various States. Stated most simply, he said that the principles of fiscal equality need to apply. This means simply that the standards of services for which States are responsible in their various regions should be substantially equal but with an appropriate sacrifice made by their people and an appropriate burden placed upon the people to maintain those services. What Sir Robert was saying was that in the States the principle of fiscal equality should be applied so that the burdens placed upon people to maintain those services should have a relation to the capacity of the people in the various States to maintain the services. These days there has been an attack upon the principles of economic federalism and it would seem that rather new institutions should be set up to implement the principles in the way that we would desire them to be implemented.
The principle of fiscal equality has been a cornerstone of Australian federalism. It is not a principle of fiscal equality to suggest that the States should be denied their present powers or responsibilities. It is rather a principle of fiscal equality to see that we have a better measurement of what takes place as between the various States. A new philosophy is not needed - only the proper application of the present one. This has been brought into focus by recent moves in the States to raise their own sources of revenue and for their own sources of revenue to represent an increasing proportion of the finance they require. It is because this situation has arisen that one is led to suggest that as from 1970 a new body should be set up by the Commonwealth, known as the States fiscal equalisation commission. This body would take the place of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and would apply in its determinations the same kind of examination and calculations as the Grants Commission applies at present. Why should this body be set up, and is it necessary? It is necessary for two reasons. The States have been raising a greater proportion of their own revenues from their own resources and the variations as between States in the contribution from their own resources have become greater. Comparing 1961-62 with 1966-67 we see that the proportions of contributions to State revenues from their own resources were as follows:
These figures show an increase for five States and a slight decrease for Western Australia. The problems of fiscal equalisation require that the contributions from the States to their own revenues should be measured in terms of the burdens these place upon the people concerned. This has been highlighted by the fact that the new taxes and the new extensions of taxes in States such as New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia are at present unmeasured. As long as they are unmeasured we are unable to observe the principles of fiscal equality.
Let me quickly give one or two examples. Wage taxes, salary taxes and purchase taxes vary in relation to several features of a States system. The variations are these: If one State has a higher wage and salary structure than other States, it obviously has a far greater capacity to raise revenue from wage and salary taxes. If within the structure of that State a lot of citizens are on high salary scales compared with other States - I refer not only to those on an average income but also to those on the top rung of the ladder - the disproportion is increased. If a State has little leakage of economic activity outside the State citizens buy consumption goods and consumer durables produced inside the State, the money goes around more often and the State is at an advantage from this point of view. Tasmania obviously has a significant disadvantage here, and this has been recognised for a number of years. If a State, for example, has far fewer younger people or far fewer older people than another State, and therefore has a far greater proportion of its population in the work force, it is able to contribute far more in terms of these new taxes than a State which docs not enjoy that situation.
At present all these inequalities are ignored and as State taxes become more and more important they will be ignored increasingly, and proposals for the achievement of fiscal equality will in fact become increasingly difficult to put into effect. It is my proposition that a State fiscal equalisation commission should be given the duty of determining whether fiscal equality exists as between all the States and of distributing to the States half the increase in general revenue grants from the Commonwealth to the States each year. This year, for example, the Commonwealth, in terms of total revenue grants, contributed $70m more to the States than it did last year. The proposal is that, without in any way interfering with that distribution, half of that increase in general revenue be distributed among the States according to the determinations of such a body. This would enable the States to retain as much of their powers as they would desire to retain and to maintain the principles that have been laid down by the Slate Premiers in the past.
There is one further aspect of this matter which deserves consideration. The Australian Capital Territory should be brought into the sphere of this body. One is concerned that in terms of general living standards and community standards, as distinct from the prestige standards of buildings here, this Territory is contributing less towards the attainment of its standards than is the case in any other part of the Commonwealth. The principles of fiscal equality should be observed in relation to the Australian Capital Territory also. After all, it is part of the Commonwealth and ought to observe the principles of fiscal equality which the Commonwealth asks the States to adhere to.
– I take part in this debate to raise two matters. Firstly, 1 wish to comment on the remarks of the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman), who spoke earlier in this debate. He mentioned the prevalence of petty thieving in Parliament House. 1 have no doubt that on the information he has he honestly believes this is taking place. He spoke about losses by several honourable members. He mentioned that the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) had lost a transistor radio, I think. I would like lo point out that 1 have found the situation here just the reverse. I have left my transistor radio in various parts of the building when I have been very busy, and the attendants have taken care of it and returned it to me. They have worked out through their own mental astuteness that the radio belonged to me.
I do not doubt the integrity of the members who have reported items as having been stolen. Members are very busy and when they get back home to their electorates they may discover that a particular article is missing. They naturally think the last place they saw it was at Parliament House. I know from my worldly experience that sometimes Parliament House is not the point of theft at all. The theft sometimes occurs at airports where bags are opened by professional thieves and items are stolen when a member is travelling between Parliament House and his destination. I believe that in some cases this has happened. The honourable member for St George did not cast a reflection on any particular group in Parliament House. Unfortunately, however, the cleaners or attendants usually get the Warne for this sort of thing. The integrity of members of the staff in Parliament House is as high as that of any member serving in the Parliament. The honourable member for St George was quite right to raise the matter and to alert the House to the fact that petty thieving apparently is going on. 1 hope that it will discontinue if it is occurring here. But I must place on record my belief that the staff of Parliament House is particularly honest. Honourable members are often neglectful and leave articles lying about the building.
The remainder of my remarks are inspired by a radio talk given in Canberra this morning by Frank Chamberlain. Laying great emphasis on the tragic war in Vietnam, he mentioned some important things. He said that he hoped the negotiations between the United States and Hanoi for peace in Vietnam, at which people throughout the world are looking with hopeful hearts at the present, would not be frustrated by the expression of the opinions of the Saigon Government. He said that this war in Vietnam is a war between America and the Vietnamese. If honourable members on both sides of the House were to speak frankly, they would agree that it is a war between America and the Vietnamese. I believe in the Australian Labor Party’s policy on the Vietnam war. I have spoken out very strongly in the appropriate debates. I believe that honourable members on the Government side have found the Government’s policies in connection with Vietnam very embarrassing to them as the truth of the Vietnam war unfolds itself in part to the Australian people - ant! because of the curbs put on the Press reporting of events in Vietnam only in part. 1 would like to place on record in Hansard views expressed by Senator Fulbright. who is known so well to all members. He is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the United States. In October 1966 he made a statement in Kansas which was reported in the ‘Despatcher’ the journal of the International Longshore Workers Union in San Francisco. Speaking about the Vietnam war and the United Slates defence budget, he said that approximately 75c of each dollar of American revenue went into defence; that each month every United States school teacher was denied a 10% salary rise or social security benefits for 20 million people were halved; and that for 1967 defence expenditure was thirty-five limes as great as expenditure on housing and community development, twenty times as. large as the budget for public education, fifteen limes that for agriculture, and triple the budget for health, labour and welfare. The journal staled that Senator Stennis had estimated the cost of the Vietnam war at $US2.000m monthly. The cost of conducting the Vietnam war for 12 minutes is SUS400,0()0. It costs SUS400.000 to kill each Vietcong. The cost of the war daily to the American taxpayers is $US50m and the cost each minute is SUS34.000. Every 60 seconds enough is spent to provide an American family with a home worth $US25,000, a car worth SUS3.400, a food budget of $US2,000, and a medical and dental budget of SUS 1,000. In 1967 America spent SUS1.5m on its war against poverty. America spent on the now obsolete XB70 long range bomber $US1.5m. These figures alone should cause every decent, thinking Australian to pray daily for the end of this awful, barbaric war in Vietnam.
The right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), the former Leader of the Opposition, once said that the American Government is morally and mentally bankrupt. There is much merit in that statement, painful though it is for any Australian to say it about an ally for whom we have so much affection. In a magazine that 1 picked up in my office this morning is an article relating to mental illness in the United Slates of America which lends some support to the remarks of the right honourable member for Melbourne.
– What is the name of the magazine?
– ‘Awake!’ The article states:
One proof that the world is sick was given by the National Institute of Mental Health, lt stated that, despite improved treatment services and facilities, mental illness cost Americans more than SUS-0 billion during 1966. 1 hope, as I hope every honourable member in this House does, that before Christmas the war in Vietnam will be ended honourably for all sides and that every Australian boy who is serving there will be brought back to the homeland for which he has such deep love and affection.
– I take this opportunity to enlarge somewhat on a mutter that I raised this morning with the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) - the provision of helicopters during certain precarious periods in northern Australia. For some years now, and as long as I can remember, when the traditional wet season arrives - perhaps it has not come quite so decisively over the last few years as it has done in the past, although we do seem lo be reverting to normal seasons - a situation arises that is quite critical to people in some areas, more precisely in the Northern Territory, the Gulf country and the north western and central areas of Queensland. Some areas become absolute quagmires and no form of land transport, including four-wheel drive vehicles, can get into those areas. Last year was particularly bad in this regard. An aircraft crashed in the Northern Territory and the five occupants were killed. The officer in charge of the Department of Civil Aviation in Darwin was reported to have said that had the occupants not been killed but had they been injured and had they been lying waiting for some assistance the area would have been inaccessible except by helicopter. In the Julia Creek area of north western Queensland a woman was critically ill. Her case received some publicity through the national Press. Had the Army authorities not been able to make available a helicopter from the Shoalhaven Bay exercises she most certainly would have died. As it was she had to wait for 24 hours because a helicopter was not in a reasonably adjacent area. On another occasion five people were isolated on a station property in the Clermont area and were almost without food before their precarious position was relieved. I could quote numerous cases.
I am happy that the Minister for the Army has assured us that something will be done about the position. I hope that whatever is done includes the provision of a helicopter or helicopters in the area. Several organisations in northern Australia have referred to the situation at various times. We arc not unreasonable and we do not seek the establishment of a helicopter unit in the area purely to meet civilian emergencies that may arise; but exercises have to be carried out and helicopters must be based somewhere. Our remote areas could provide the setting for exercises to enable helicopters to become experienced in the type of conditions that may be encountered in war. Perhaps a helicopter unit could be based in northern Australia during the critical period from December to the end of March. I most earnestly urge that something be done and that Army helicopters be based in the area.
I move on now to refer to one or two matters related to our temporary home in Canberra. One such matter concerns the dining room. I am trying to lose weight and I believe that I will not have the slightest difficulty in doing so if I continue to patronise the dining room during the summer months. 1 do not know whether there is a furnace immediately beneath the dining room, but members almost expire in the heat. Apparently the situation has obtained for years and, as far as I can see, nothing has been done about it. I do not know who is responsible for the situation, and the mere fact that I do not know who is responsible for it leads me io my next point. A strange thing happens once a person crosses the border from Queensland into New South Wales. No-one ever ices anything in New South Wales. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) comes from an area that is subjected to salt air; [ represent an area where people are subjected to dry, dehydrated air. We get tremendous thirsts and we want things to be iced. However, nothing seems to be iced down here. The water is not iced, nor is the fruit. This could be something else for the dining room to attend to.
New members come here from time to time. Next year there could be changes and new members could arrive. There should be some instrumentality in the House to educate new members. A backbencher is a simple, lovable, reliable sort of per*on. He relies very much on his mates, but his mates do not know very much. I cannot find anyone who can tell me exactly how, in certain respects, the House operates. Could there not be some sort of committee to educate new members? Could there not be a training squad, a bull ring - I use that term in one particular sense and not another - to assist us to understand the more off the track operations of the House and io tell us whom to see about various activities? I remember during my first day here I saw fellows going in and out of a room in the House. I suppose one’s mind always reverts to familiar and pleasant activities and in my innocence and ignorance I thought there was a keg on. The people came out of the room with expressions of satisfaction on their faces. Finally, I spoke to my friend, the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). I asked him: ‘What’s going on down there?’ He said: ‘Haven’t you been down there yet?’ I said: ‘No’. He said: That’s where the seats in the House are being allocated’. I finished up with the position I now occupy. I am delighted. I have two arm rests and no-one else in the House had such comfort. At the time I was given this position T thought: ‘I am a back bench member, but 1 am nearly out of the House’. This happened purely because of my ignorance. I did not know what was happening or whom I should see.
They are the three points I want to make. The first is of decisive importance to the pari of the world from which 1 come and lo lbc whole of northern Australia. I refer to the provision of some means of rescue. I assure the House that in certain conditions only one means of rescue is of any value and that is a helicopter. It can be used to save lives and to prevent tragedies. The provision of helicopters would be a tremendous contribution in northern Australia, if it were done now and not left until next December. We should have Army helicopters available in reasonably convenient centres. I ask also that something be done about the dehydrating room in which we have a cup of coffee here at night. It should be possible to keep it cool. My third point is that some sort of training squad be available to members of the House who are not completely familiar with the way the House works and the activities of some departments of the Parliament.
– I wish to raise three matters. I have raised the first of them before in this House and until some adequate provision is made I will continue to raise it. I refer to the lack of hospital services under the pensioner medical scheme. Many people who have no income other than (heir pensions are unable to obtain the treatment that they need, and should be able to receive, because of the limitations placed on the scheme. If their medical adviser tells them that they need specialist treatment or should be admitted to a ward other than a public ward in a public hospital for a long or a short period, they must immediately make a decision that has nothing to do with their welfare or their health, lt is a purely economic decision and sometimes may be a decision of conscience. They must decide whether they can afford the treatment they need or whether they will have the treatment and then ignore the bills.
The second mailer, although not exactly parallel, is in a similar category. An ever growing number of people in the community, because of physical disabilities, some minor and some major, cannot compete with others on the open market for employment. In the main they are forced to live on invalid pensions, not because they are unable to do useful work at all but because they are unable to do useful work at competitive rates. This is not only demoralising to the individual but in addition the community loses the benefit of talent that is available, and useful productivity is wasted. The Government should consider encouraging the establishment of more sheltered factories. If local communities are willing to establish or to operate these factories on a non-profit basis the Government should offer to pay the salaries of a supervisor and a manager and should also amend the Social Services Act so that the people employed in the sheltered factories can receive not less than 85% of the appropriate tradesman’s rate without their invalid pension being reduced. This would not add much to the general costs of the community and would not substantially increase social service payments, but it would give a large number of people a chance to re-enter employment and to regain the self respect and self confidence that comes to a person when he earns his own living and no longer depends on handouts from other people. Nothing is more demoralising to a man than having to tell his children that they cannot take part in school sports because he is a pensioner and cannot afford to buy the necessary clothes and equipment. 1 have suggested a humanitarian approach to a serious problem that is facing more and more Australians every year. In a society in which medical science is enabling people to live longer and automation is reducing the physical effort of work it is a paradox that more people find themselves unemployable in the normal competitive industrial sense.
The third matter I wish to raise is the incidence of payroll tax on local government authorities. This is the imposition of taxation on taxation. Payroll tax imposes a serious burden on the governmental bodies that are nearest and most costly to the people. State governments, probably because of their financial difficulties, have constantly put more and more responsibilities on to local government authorities. Some of these authorities have had to increase the rates they levy to such an extent that an almost impossible burden has been placed on some sections of the community. Property owners cannot escape the payment of rates. In Victoria, and possibly in the other States, pensioners must pay rates at the same level as the more affluent sections of the community do. Those on low incomes pay rates on the property they own. The argument used to justify this is that rates are levied according to the value of the property. But frequently no real relationship exists between the economic circumstances of a person and the value of the house in which he lives. It may well be that a pensioner has inherited a house or has bought a house many years ago and almost accidental changes in the area have caused the house to become a very valuable property. Many people are not in a position to meet the rates. Local government authorities provide facilities for a community that are absolutely necessary for the survival of the community but are not provided by any other authority.
For the Commonwealth to extract taxes from the local government authorities is morally and politically wrong. This is purely levying lax through another tax medium. This money has to be raised. In most cases it is an extra cent in the dollar which has to bc placed on municipal rates in order to meet the demands of the Commonwealth. lt could be written off with very little cost to the Commonwealth and with great benefit, I think, to local communities which each year are being forced to reduce the services which they are able to provide to their communities because rate revenues are approaching saturation point and they are just not able to put them up with any reasonable expectation that people will be able to meet them. 1 ask the Government to give consideration to an alteration of this aspect because, Mr Deputy Speaker, while a lot of political talk is heard about how the States are being starved financially by the Commonwealth, I assure this Parliament that the States are acting in a far worse manner towards local government authorities than the Commonwealth is acting towards the States.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this is a grievance debate. I ask: What does a member in this place
232U5/68 - « - 1831
do when for 5 years or more he writes to successive Treasurers and finally moves an amendment to a Bill before this chamber in order to seek redress for a grievance on behalf of a small group of people, perhaps at the most a few score of people, whose need is manifest to be met always with polite acknowledgments by junior assistant Ministers and finally to have his case rejected in this House on demonstrably specious arguments? No doubt my constituent could go to the Press which would give him the kind of publicity that the Press gives. But some men value privacy; some men resent the prying eyes of strangers focussed on their personal misfortunes. They have a right to be protected. What then can I do?
I shall a plain, unvarnished tale relate so that a permanent record will remain in Hansard and the responsibility for ignoring or redressing the grievance will be firmly fixed where it belongs. It is a story of immense courage. Perhaps 45 years ago, at a guess, a child was born with malformed arms and hands, extending no further than a normal person’s elbow: one arm, if it can be so described, utterly useless and the other with several fingers clubbed together on a misshapen hand. The child was intelligent and otherwise normal. I pass over the intervening years. At this point of time, he is blessed with a devoted wife and an attractive schoolgirl daughter. He has been able to acquire an inexpensive but tasteful home for himself and his family. But the cost in effort has been incalculable. He has been able to earn a modest livelihood as a commercial artist. This was his talent, lt has been possible through his ingenuity in designing a device that enables him to hold a pen, a pencil or whatever in his misshapen hand. But to attach the pen, pencil or whatever to the device or to change from one to another he must use his mouth. The laboriousness of this process will be apparent and needs no elaboration by me.
But this is not all. His clients are scattered around the metropolitan area of Sydney. He must call on them to consult about their exact requirements, to submit and modify sketches, often more than once, and for this purpose he carries with such arm as he has a portfolio measuring about 30 inches by 22 inches. He needs a car. At no time has he had any social service benefits; nor does he seek them now. On the contrary, be has made his contribution to the economy both in the work that he does and as a taxpayer. All that he and no doubt some few others - perhaps a few score in a similar situation - seek is the same concession in respect of sales tax on the purchase of a car that is granted to certain physically handicapped persons under the terms of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1967. 1 refer to the first schedule of this Act which states at paragraph 135a that exemption is granted in respect of:
Motor vehicles (and parts therefor) for use in the transportation to and from gainful employment of a person in respect of whom the DirectorGeneral of Social Services, or an officer appointed by him for the purpose, has certified that he has lost the use of one or both legs to such an extent that he is permanently unable to use public transport . . .
When 1 raised this matter in the House on 27th September 1967, as reported in Hansard at page 1363, the Minister then representing the Treasurer rejected my amendment which sought no more than to include arms as well as legs, on the ground that it would mean too much loss of revenue. I have sought some information from the Research Service of the Parliamentary Library on this matter. God be blessed that it exists. This is the report that I have had. It reads in part:
The report continues:
An inquiry from the Sydney Hospital revealed the fact that in .1966 there was no amputation of an arm. In the opinion of the officer concerned at the hospital amputations of upper extremities are quite rare. From the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney it was learned that in 1967 there were six amputations of a whole arm. There is no record of patients having congenital deformities of arms. Mr Deputy Speaker, with the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard two tables that have been provided to me by the Research Service of the Parliamentary Library. The first table shows the number of persons receiving additional amounts payable by the Repatriation Department for disability under the fourth and fifth schedules, as at 30th June 1968. The second table shows the number of patients with upper limb amputations on strength of artificial limb appliance centres of the Repatriation Department as at 30th June 1968.
I have not time to go into detail, but those tables indicate that in a group of people who may be supposed or presumed to have far more amputations than any other group in the community, the numbers involved are a few hundred- that is, so far as there is any indication from the fragmentary evidence that is available. It is clear that the number who have this kind of disability should be counted in hundreds. As to those who would qualify for the exemption, that is, those who require the use of a car for the purpose of gainful employment and for this purpose are unable to use public transport, this number could be counted in lens or dozens or at most in scores. These are the people for whom the Government can find no help.
How careful can the Government and in particular the Treasury be of the pennies and how careless of millions of dollars. We have seen$100m spent on the Ord white elephant; $26m each year directly and untold millions indirectly on the dairying industry; and millions handed out to wheat farmers receiving on the average an income of $9,000 per year, as publicly stated. These are the millions that can be handed out to these people who do not need them. When it comes to a few dollars for the people in the situation of my constituent, no, it cannot be done.
My constituent drives a Volkswagen car. It is 13 years old. Anyone who has driven a Volkswagen car knows how often the gears must be changed. This car has done almost 100,000 miles. His shoulder - the one that is of any use to him - is subject to arthritis and dislocation. He works nightly into the early hours of the morning. The years creep on and he is tired. He is a man of immense courage and character with strength and sensitivity stamped on every line of his face. But even his heart can be broken. I hope that the gentlemen sitting at desks who are responsible for this decision and decisions like this will shrivel beneath the contempt they deserve.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I will take a couple of minutes only because my friend, the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), wishes to say a few words. I arn in an ecumenical attitude today because it is United Nations Day. This is the reason .1 have risen. I think it is time that United Nations Day was recognised as being of even more significance than most of the other national days which we occasionally recognise.
– What about Australia Day?
– We have three affinities, as I see it. We have an affinity with Australia; we have a continuing affinity with the British Commonwealth as it. used to be and with the Commonwealth as it now is; and we have an affinity with the United Nations. I think we have failed in our duty as a nation, as a parliament, as a government, in failing to have this properly manifested throughout the country. The United Nations flag ought to be flying all over Australia today. The United Nations is the hope of the smaller nations of the world to a greater extent, perhaps, than it is the hope of the larger nations. It has been under attack in recent times from both sides of this House. The United Nations will work only if those countries which are members of it make it work. It will work only if the Foreign Ministers of the various member countries make it work. Getting something accepted by the United Nations is like getting something accepted by the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party or perhaps even the Australian Country Party in this country: If you have a majority you will be all right. If we want something done by the United Nations we have to get sixtythree other nations to support us. I am hoping that some time soon our Government will realise the significance of the opportunities that exist in the United Nations.
I was stimulated to make these remarks today because in the city of Coburg in my own electorate 1 have asked people to recognise United Nations Day. The Mayor of Coburg this afternoon will hold a function to which he has invited representatives of all the children in the schools in the district who were born outside Australia. These children have come from perhaps 30 or 40 different nations. Posters are being displayed around the city. I have received much cooperation from all the embassies and high commissions. I hope that next year we will take steps to see that in this country United Nations Day is recognised as being of extraordinary significance and that the Australian people are made conscious of (he United Nations and confident that they can make it work if the government of the day has the will and the wit to make it work.
– I am most grateful to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), although I have not time to thank him as I would like. I wish to raise a question that concerns me, but as my time is very limited I shall be unable to go into it in detail. When we introduced our present national service scheme and decided to call up young men to serve this country, possibly overseas in active service conditions, we said that their rehabilitation rights would be assured. We said that these men would not be placed at a disadvantage and that they would be given every opportunity to rehabilitate themselves when they returned to civilian life. The present Treasurer (Mr McMahon), who was Minister for Labour and National Service at the time, said in his second reading speech:
The development of the vocational training scheme which the Bill authorises will, of course, require the working out of many details and these are currently receiving active attention.
At that stage I thought a Bill would be introduced which would show us exactly what rehabilitation entitlements would be provided. But when I look at the relevant Act, the Defence (Re-establishment) Act, I find that the word which persists throughout Part IV, which relates to vocational training, is ‘may’. The Act provides that the Minister may do certain things. J thought that as this was such an important matter it would be something that we would discuss in the House. I know that I have been tardy in this matter, as others perhaps have been. We have assumed that things would be done as we thought they should be done. But now I find that men who have undergone 2 years national service, with at least 1 year in Vietnam, and who then want to undertake university education are entitled to have only the first year’s university fees paid by the Government. After the Second World War we provided full educational facilities even to those who had served only 6 months and even to some who had not been outside Australia. Now we are making the excuse that we are not at war and that it is not necessary to retrain the soldiers who are coming back into civilian life after 2 years service. On the basis of this excuse we pay their university fees for only one year. I can only say that this is a most miserable attitude. As the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) has said, there seems to be a think machine employed somewhere by this Government, spending most of its time thinking how we can get out of our obligations, how we can avoid doing things that we should do.
I have not the time to go into this matter more fully. I only say that when we are flying the flag we say we are engaged in a war in Vietnam, and when a man is facing bullets and threats he is entitled to assume that he is in a war. I will continue my remarks at a later date.
– Order! It is now 12.45 p.m. and in accordance with Standing Order No. 106 the debate is interrupted and I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Raw Cotton Bounty Act 1963-66 by providing that, in respect of the raw cotton crop produced in 1968, bounty will be payable on the basis of production. I would emphasise that this Bill does not give effect to the 3-year extension of the raw cotton bounty which was the subject of the statement I made recently in the House. That is a matter which I will introduce later when the necessary legislation is prepared.
When the present cotton bounty scheme was introduced in 1964 Australian production was about 10% of demand, and the legislation provided that bounty would be payable only on raw cotton sold by processors for use in Australia within the defined bounty periods. The practical effect of this was that, provided a grower produced raw cotton above the prescribed minimum grade, he received, until this year, bounty in direct relationship to the quantity and qualities he produced and which were acceptable to Australian spinners; in short, he received an equitable share of the bounty, and this was the Government’s intention.
This year for the first time, and far sooner than was ever contemplated, production exceeded Australian demand and, although an earlier assessment of the marketing situation had led to the belief that the 1968 crop might be absorbed by the local spinning industry if the selling period for bounty purposes was extended by 4 months to 30th June 1969, a recent review of the situation reveals that this is now highly improbable.
Unless a remedy is provided this would lead to a situation where growers who have produced cotton which falls within the bountiable classifications could be denied a proper share of the 1968 bounty because by reason of later harvesting or some other reason over which they have no control they now find the Australian market unable to absorb the whole crop within the defined period.
The purpose of this measure is to remove the possibility that bounty receipts by any grower could be determined by pure chance and to ensure that the 1968 raw cotton bounty is distributed to all growers in direct relation to the quantity and qualities produced. This is consistent with the basis which the Government has decided should apply over the phase out period of bounty in the next 3 years.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bun-, and read a first time.
– I move:
The main purpose of this Bill is to amend the War Service Homes Act lo increase the maximum loan under the war service homes scheme from $7,000 to $8,000. The proposed increase in the maximum loan will apply to all types of assistance at present available under the War Service Homes Act. The existing maximum war service homes loan of $7,000 has been in force since March 1962. The increase to $8,000 will offset increases since that time in the costs of acquiring a home and will reduce the amount of funds required from the eligible person’s own resources or from supplementary borrowings.
The War Service Homes Act was placed on the statute book in 1918 and on 6th March 1969 the scheme will have been in operation for 50 years. Since the inception of the scheme approximately 300,000 eligible persons have been assisted to become home owners. Wilh the growth in the number of homes subject to the Act certain anomalies in the Act have become apparent. The opportunity has been taken in the Bill to correct these anomalies and to include a number of other amendments which will simplify and facilitate the administration of the Act.
The amendments include an extension of the relief scheme for which provision is made in section 29aa and section 29a of the Act. The relief scheme was introduced in 1935 and provides for a reduction in the instalments payable to the Director of War Service Homes by a widow and certain other female dependants of eligible persons and for the payment of other outgoings on a war service home. For reasons which are nol now apparent eligibility for relief under the scheme was limited at the time to a widow or widowed mother of an eligible person who was a member of the forces and to the wife of such a person who is temporarily or permanently insane. The effect of this is that the widows and other female dependants of certain categories of civilian persons, including certain members of the merchant navy, who are eligible to receive an advance under the scheme are excluded from the benefits of the relief scheme. The Bill provides for the extension of the relief scheme to such persons.
The opportunity has also been taken lo widen the definition of ‘Holding’ contained in the Act. Under the provisions of th Aci every advance lo erect a dwelling house must be secured by a mortgage to the Director of the estate and interest of the borrower in his ‘holding’ which, in general, includes only freehold land, perpetual leases or leases for a period of 99 years. The Bill provides for an extension of the definition of ‘holding’ to include a lease under which the lessee is entitled, on the fulfilment of the terms, conditions and covenants of the lease, to a grant in fee simple.
The Bill also varies the conditions contained in section 35 of the Act under which the Director may consent to a transfer of an estate or interest in a property subject to the Act. Difficulties are being experienced in administering this provision under present day conditions and the proposed amendment will confer on the Director a wider discretion to consent to a transfer, particularly in cases where a court order has been made under the law relating lo matrimonial causes and maintenance providing for the estate or interest of the eligible person to be transferred to the eligible person’s wife.
The Bill includes also an amendment relating to the administration of the war service homes insurance scheme. Section 40 of the Act provides for a War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account to which shall be credited or debited all moneys paid to the Director for insurance and all expenditure of the Director in connection with insurance. At 30th June 1968 the accumulated credit balance in the Trust Account stood at $1,334,358. Under the existing provisions of the Audit Act income derived from the investment by the Treasurer of money standing lo the credit of the War
Service Homes Insurance Trust Account is required to be credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The proposed amendment will enable interest on the money standing to the credit of the Insurance Trust Account to be credited to the Trust Account. Purchasers and borrowers under the war service homes scheme will benefit from the change in arrangements because interest credited to the Trust Account will be available to the Director for the purpose of meeting expenditure under the insurance scheme and will reduce by a corresponding amount the amount of premium income required to be raised to meet claims and other insurance expenditure.
Other minor amendments for which provision is made in the Bill modify the requirements of the War Service Homes Act in relation to the making of advances in respect of properties which are subject to an existing mortgage or charge. The Bill also contains clauses dealing with the payment of rates on war service homes, the abolition of the War Service Homes Trust Account and the War Service Homes Relief Trust Account and the adoption of new financial and accounting arrangements in respect of the transactions embraced by these trust accounts, the audit of the Director’s accounts and the furnishing of reports to Parliament.
This Government believes in the principle of home ownership and has always accepted the responsibility of encouraging home ownership within its constitutional powers. The increase to $8,000 and the adoption of the other measures proposed in this Bill will enable the war service homes scheme to continue making an important contribution to the national welfare by the provision of homes for eligible persons and their families in all parts of the Commonwealth. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bury, and read a first time.
Mr BURY (Wentworth - Minister for
Labour and National Service)[2.29] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the application of the proceeds of two loans recently arranged overseas for the purpose of making advances to the States for housing. The loans have been raised under agreements already signed by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) which are identified in the Schedule to the Bill. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) who was then Acting Treasurer, referred to the signing of the first agreement for the borrowing of 200 million Deutsche marks in a statement to the House on 19th September, and to the signing of the second agreement in the Schedule in a statement to the House on 8th October 1968.
As is usual with loans raised both in Australia and overseas for the purposes of the Australian Loan Council works and housing programme, full authority for the Treasurer to sign both agreements was given by the relevant Loan Council approval in the first place, and by Orders-in-Council made under section 105a of the Constitution and under legislation associated with the Financial Agreement.
While authority already existed for the Treasurer to sign the agreements and for the funds to be borrowed and to be transferred to the Loan Fund, there was no suitable appropriation at the time for advancing the proceeds to the States from the Loan Fund. This was because the Loan (Housing) Bill 1968, which would have normally been expected to provide the necessary appropriation for the current financial year, had not yet been enacted. The alternatives were to appropriate the proceeds of the two loans by separate legislation, which is now proposed in this Bill, or to amend the Loan (Housing) Bill 1968 already passed by this House. The latter alternative was rejected solely for procedural reasons.
To avoid duplication in the appropriation, clause 5 of the Bill provides a limit of $126m to the amount that may be borrowed and applied for housing under the two Bills. This is the amount of the housing programme approved by the Australian Loan Council for 1968-69, as explained in my second reading speech on the Loan (Housing) Bill 1968. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
[2.32J - I move:
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing by the Commonwealth of 9,900,000 Swiss francs- SA2m- from the Union Bank of Switzerland and SUS2.490.040- SS2.2m- from the United States Export-Import Bank and the Boeing Company to assist in financing the purchase of a Boeing 727 jet aircraft and related equipment by the Australian National Airlines Commission. This will be the fifth Boeing 727 to join Trans-Australia Airlines’ fleet of jet aircraft. The airline also has four Douglas DC9 jet aircraft, and two more have been ordered with the assistance of the loan approved by the Australian National Airlines Commission Equipment Act 1967.
The general arrangements for the loans are similar to those approved by the Parliament for other loans for TAA and Qantas Airways Ltd in recent years. The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first place, and the full proceeds will be made available to TAA on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer pursuant to clause 7 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreements, the Commonwealth will, as usual, merely assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
As the Export-Import Bank is now restricting the proportion of the cost of aircraft which it is prepared to finance, the Commonwealth found it necessary to secure additional finance elsewhere. We were fortunate in being able on this occasion to secure supplementary finance from the Union Bank of Switzerland, which has been a major underwriter in the Commonwealth’s public issues in Switzerland.
The agreement with the Union Bank was signed by the Treasurer in Zurich on 19th September and the text appears in the First Schedule to the Bill. The Agreement becomes effective when appropriate legislation has been enacted by the Commonwealth. The Agreement provides for a loan of 9.9m Swiss francs at 64% interest, with a commitment fee of 0.5% on the undrawn balance payable from the date of signing. The loan is to be drawn by November 1969 and will be repaid by five equal annual instalments commencing 3 years after the date of drawing. The letter which appears as Part II of the First Schedule provides for payment of a fee of 1.5% to the Union Bank as a placement commission.
The agreement with the Export-Import Bank and the Boeing Company, which was signed by the Treasurer on 2nd October in Washington, and the text of which is shown in the Second Schedule, also requires Parliamentary approval before it becomes effective. It provides for a loan o£ $US2,490,040, 90% of which is to be advanced by the Bank and the remainder by Boeing. A commitment fee of 0.5% is payable, commencing 15th September 1968. on the amount to be advanced by the Bank. The loan is to be drawn by February 1970 and is to be repaid by fourteen equal semi-annual instalments between May 1970 and November 1976.
As in the similar borrowing on behalf of Qantas, the Export-Import Bank and Boeing have the right to sell the Commonwealth’s obligations in respect of the amounts advanced by them. If they find it necessary to offer a higher yield than 6% in order to sell these obligations, the Commonwealth is required to meet the additional interest cost involved up to a maximum rate of 7% per annum. The terms and conditions of these loans have been approved by the Loan Council. The amounts borrowed have been authorised under the 1968-69 programme approved for the Commonwealth at the Loan Council meeting in June 1968 and will be additional to the Commonwealth’s approved programme of $l26m for State housing purposes. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing by the Commonwealth of $US53m (SA47.3m) from the ExportImport Bank of the United States of America, the Boeing Company and a syndicate of US commercial banks headed by Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York to assist in the financing of jet aircraft and related equipment being purchased by Qantas Airways Limited. The form of the loan agreement is annexed to the Bill. The money to be made available under the agreement will be used by Qantas to assist in financing the purchase of four Boeing 747 aircraft - ‘Jumbo Jets’ - and related equipment, spares and services. The total cost of the project is SUS.1 37.5m - SA 122.8m - of which SUS 132ni - SA 11 7.9m - will be expended in the United States. Finance is being sought for approximately 80% or $US106m - SA94.6m- of the United States expenditure. In view of the large amount required, and the fact that a large proportion of it will not be required until 1971. the funds will be borrowed in two tranches of approximately $US53m each, and the present loan represents the first tranche.
The general arrangements for the borrowing are similar to those approved by Parliament for other loans for Qantas and TAA in recent years. The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first place, and the full proceeds of the loan will be made available to Qantas on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer pursuant to clause 6 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth will, as usual, merely assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
The proposed agreement with the banks and Boeing follows the current pattern of agreements with the Export-Import Bank. The bank usually requires the borrower to find 20% of the total cost of the programme for which finance is provided. In this case, Qantas will be expected to provide SUS 1 3.25m- -SA1 1.8m- from its own resources, for the first half of the programme estimated to cost $US66m, while the Export-Import Bank will lend SUS23.85m, Boeing $US2.65m and the commercial banks $US26.5m.
Drawings on the loan are planned to commence when the necessary arrangements can be made. The final date for drawing is 30th November 1971, unless the parties agree to an extension. In accordance with normal banking practice in the United States, a commitment fee is to be paid on the undrawn amounts of the portions of the loan extended by the Export-Import Bank and the commercial banks. The loan is to be repaid by fourteen semi-annual instalments, the first of which is payable on 30th June 1972. The first seven repayments will be made to the commercial banks and the second seven to the Export-Import Bank and to Boeing.
Interest on the Export-Import Bank and Boeing portions of the loan will be at 6%. However, both parties have the right to sell the Commonwealth’s obligations, in respect of amounts advanced, at prices involving additional interest costs to the Commonwealth of up to a maximum rate of 7%. This is a usual provision in recent loans by the Export-Import Bank.
The commercial banks’ share of the loan bears interest at a rate which will fluctuate 0.5% above the minimum commercial lending rate charged by Morgan Guaranty - at present 6.25% - with a maximum rate of 7% and a minimum of 5.5%.
The borrowing will be authorised under the 1968-69 programme approved for the Commonwealth by the Loan Council in June, and will be additional to the Commonwealth’s approved programme of $!26m for State housing purposes. The terms and conditions of the loan have been approved by the Loan Council. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing by the Commonwealth of $US75m, equal to $A67m, from the Export-Import Bank of the United States to assist in financing the purchase of twentyfour F111C aircraft, spares, associated equipment and services. As the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has already mentioned, when informing the House recently of the negotiation of this and other loan agreements, this borrowing is additional to an earlier loan of$US80m arranged in 1966 for this purpose.
The agreement which the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) signed on behalf of the Commonwealth with the Export-Import Bank on 2nd October follows the usual form of loan agreements with the Bank. The terms are those which operate currently for Export-Import Bank loans for aircraft purchases except that there is no provision for the basic interest rate to be increased if the Export-Import Bank should sell the Commonwealth’s obligations on the market. The loan carries an interest rate of 6% and is to be issued at par. A commitment fee of½% is payable on the undrawn amount, commencing shortly after the signing of the agreement. Drawings on the loan may be made at any time up to 30th June 1971, and repayments of amounts drawn during any financial year will be made by means of fourteen semi-annual instalments commencing on 31st December next following the close of that financial year. Since the borrowing is for defence purposes the approval of the Australian Loan Council is not necessary, but parliamentary approval is required for the borrowing and for the appropriation of the money from loan funds.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. This is a Bill for an Act to authorise the Treasurer on behalf of the Commonwealth, to guarantee the repayment of loans arranged by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd in financing the purchase of a Boeing 727 aircraft and associated spares and equipment.
Recently the major domestic airlines - Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. - have reviewed their aircraft fleet requirements with particular emphasis on jet equipment. The review has been brought about by the continuing rise in demand for air transportation in Australia and the operators’ and the Government’s desire to see that the capacity offered continues to cope with the traffic task. The annual report on civil aviation presented to Parliament last month drew attention to the continued growth in air traffic, and mentioned that the International Civil Aviation Organisation now ranks Australia as the world’s third busiest nation in domestic airline operations. This ranking is a high tribute to the domestic operators, and it underscores the soundness of the Government policies which guide and support the development of civil aviation in Australia.
During 1966-67 traffic on the competitive routes operated by Ansett-A.N.A. and Trans-Australia Airlines was nearly 9% higher than in the previous year, the growth on long haul routes alone being11½%. In 1967-68. the overall growth rate on the competitive routes rose to almost 11%, while that of the longer routes leapt to 18%. This order of traffic increase has continued into the current financial year, and has been higher than was expected. On the long distance services, in particular, the greater comfort and speed offered by jet aircraft have undoubtedly contributed in no small measure to this outstanding growth.
Both of the major airlines at present operate four Boeing 727s and four DC9s as front line equipment, and, with the further DC9s on order for delivery in
November 1968. and August 1969. will each have six of these aircraft in operation by September 1969. The airlines are convinced that each will need another Boeing 727 in the second half of 1969 if they are to cope with the traffic expansion on long distance routes. The Boeing 727 has proved to be a most efficient and popular aircraft and is ideally suited in terms of range and economics for these operations.
The Government has reviewed the airlines’ proposals and has agreed that the additional capacity will be needed, in the interests of the travelling public and the community generally. Its attitude is consistent with its policy of promoting the development of an efficient air transport system operated with the most modern equipment available anywhere in the world today. The airlines have reserved positions on the production line and anticipate delivery of the additional Boeings by November 1969, and introduction into service in time to cater for the Christmas traffic. As in previous cases, the Government has been able to arrange loans overseas as part of the finance for the aircraft to be purchased by Trans-Australia Airlines and the Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Freeth) is introducing a Bill to authorise these loans.
The Government has concluded that, in the interests of the two-airline policy, it would be appropriate for the Commonwealth also to guarantee the repayment of loans raised by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd for the purchase of its fifth Boeing 727. lt will be recalled that this procedure has been adopted in the past, and. in particular, that the Airlines Equipment Act of 1958 and the Airlines Agreements Act of 1961 authorised guarantees of this nature.
The 1961 Airlines Agreement provides that the Commonwealth will guarantee the repayment of loans, not exceeding SI 2m in total, raised by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd for the purchase of jet aircraft comparable with those acquired by TransAustralia Airlines, and the company requested the Commonwealth to guarantee loans to the extent of SI 2m in 1967, when it arranged the purchase of its DC9 aircraft. The present Bill is necessary, therefore, to authorise the issue of further guarantees for loans outside the limit imposed by the 1961 Agreement.
The Ansett Boeing 727 and equipment will cost, some $5. 6m, and, as is usual, the company will finance 20% from its own resources and borrow 80%, in this case approximately $4.48m. It has arranged loans in the United States equivalent to about $2. 23m, mainly from the ExportImport Bank, and from Australian banks for the balance of $2. 25m. The provisions of the Bill are along similar lines to previous legislation of this nature, and they contain adequate safeguards of the Commonwealth’s interests in the unlikely event of it being called upon to make payment under any guarantee.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25 September (vide page 1478), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This legislation is another example of the Government’s peculiar approach to education which is based on what might be termed the strategy of the indirect approach. Previous legislation has provided for the building of science blocks without any consideration of how the laboratories were to be properly staffed or equipped. This legislation approaches pre-school education in the opposite way. It provides for substantially more teachers but gives no hint of how they are to be deployed effectively in the pre-schools. Nor does it explain how appropriate buildings and equipment are to be provided to accommodate the increased number of pre-school children expected to be generated by the availability of more teachers. There is neither logic nor consistency in the Government’s approach to education. This legislation is yet another example of the Government’s piecemeal and ad hoc entry into the field of education, lt is impossible to find any consistent criteria for the provision of educational assistance by this Government.
This legislation provides for the payment of $2, 500,000 over 3 years to colleges for the training of pre-school teachers. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said that it was decided this was the most effective way in which pre-school education could be assisted. He gave no justification for this specious claim apart from referring to a rather vague survey of the provision of pre-school facilities in the major Australian cities. There is no proof that the giving of this measure of assistance is the most effective way of fostering the growth of pre-school education. No attempt has been made to measure the costs and benefits of such a programme against the costs and benefits of alternative schemes. No attempt has been made to assess the priorities in pre-school education and to justify the selection of this individual measure, the provision of more teachers, as the most deserving.
The second reading speech of the Minister was extremely vague and disappointing. I hope that he will give a more considered account of pre-school education and the Government’s future plans for pre-school education generally when he replies at the close of this debate. This legislation derives from a promise made by the late Prime Minister in his Senate election policy speech last year. Mr Holt said that his Government was considering measures to help children of a pre-school age who were put at a disadvantage because of a bad home environment. If this is what the late Prime Minister had in mind, his intentions have been sadly negated in this legislation. There is no indication that it will in any way aid the education of pre-school children who are hindered by a poor home environment.
The Opposition does not quarrel with the expansion of pre-school teacher training, lt maintains that this is essential to the extending of pre-school education. If this legislation has the effect of doubling the number of teachers available for pre-school education, it will have gone part of the way towards fulfilling the pre-school programme of the Australian Labor Party. However, this isolated measure should have been associated with a number of joint measures in a concerted effort to provide adequate and equitable pre-school facilities for the whole of Australia, lt is proper that more preschool teachers should be trained. It is immensely important that children of preschool age should not be committed to the care of untrained and unsuitable supervisors. The provision of a greater number of qualified pre-school teachers is a most important objective in pre-school education, but we do not know that it is the most important objective; nor do we know that it should have been given the individual priority that it has been given in this legislation. The extension of teacher training facilities in this fashion could not possibly fulfil the aspirations of the late Prime Minister. I have already pointed out that one would have thought from a careful study of the speech made by him at the time of the last Senate election, that what he envisaged when he considered the possibility of the Commonwealth entering into the field of pre-school education was that very careful consideration would be given to home environment and to the problems of children in poorer circumstances who, by circumstances beyond their control, were denied some of the advantages that would normally flow from pre-school training.
Now that this legislation has been introduced into this House by the Minister for Education and Science it can be seen immediately that the Commonwealth’s responsibility will end with the training of pre-school teachers. I will attempt to demonstrate that this legislation is not sufficient to achieve what the late Prime Minister envisaged. When he made his comments in relation to pre-schools, obviously he had in mind not only a system of teacher training to meet the needs of pre-schools but also a system that would emphasise the requirements of those who stood in greatest need. So the Opposition believes that while the Government may have fulfilled a promise to assist pre-school education, it ought to have developed this programme not only by giving assistance in the training of pre-school teachers but also by carefully considering some of the other factors that are so closely related to pre-school training. I have already referred to home environment and the necessity to ensure that those who stand in greatest need are given equal opportunity with those children whose parents, as a result of their financial position, are better able to meet the cost that now attaches to pre-school education in most States. But there is no indication in the Minister’s second reading speech that the Commonwealth is prepared, or will be prepared, to move further than to provide assistance for the training of pre-school teachers. We do not believe that the extension of pre-school teacher training facilities in this fashion could fulfil the aspirations of the late Prime Minister. In isolation, this legislation falls short of his intention that children handicapped by a poor home environment should be assisted. Considered even in isolation, many of the features of this Bill are disappointing.
In his statement to the House on 14th August, the Minister referred to arrangements for more scholarships for the training of pre-school teachers. He said that arrangements would be made within the Commonwealth advanced education scholarships scheme for more awards for persons intending to undertake approved courses at colleges of advanced education, as a means of increasing the supply of trained preschool teachers. In addition, he said that the Canberra College of Advanced Education would be allowed to offer courses in teacher training, including pre-school training. The Minister has not incorporated any features of these proposals in this Bill; nor has he in his second reading speech given any indication of the Government’s intentions. Pre-school teachers are not as well paid as other school teachers. In most States, the payment of pre-school teachers is the responsibility of parents and friends associations and various interested people who have in the past not only provided the kind of finance that is necessary to establish a pre-school institution in a certain area but also, by their intiative. have provided a teacher. 1 may be wrong, but I think the one exception is the State of Tasmania. In Tasmania the Education Department provides the teacher, but the pre-school building itself and all the other facilities and requirements are provided by the independent organisations to which I have just referred - by those people who, because of the importance they obviously attach to such education, have an interest in ensuring that their children have the opportunity of a system of pre-school education. The Minister can correct me if I am wrong on this point, but I think that Tasmania is the only State that provides any assistance for the payment of pre-school teachers.
Girls who undertake this form of work are required to make financial sacrifices. Teaching in pre-schools generally involves a significant financial loss and restricted opportunities for those girls who take it on as a career. They should be given some assistance to cushion these financial losses while they are training. Such assistance could be by way of bursaries and scholarships. It is regrettable that the Minister has neglected these aspects. In view of the assurance that was implicit in the statement of the late Prime Minister when he discussed pre-school education in Australia and the possible entry of the Commonwealth into this field, one would have expected that not only would there have been financial assistance for the training of teachers for schools at this level bur that there would have been a system of bursaries and scholarships to provide some financial security for the teachers during their training period. “I he principle must be accepted that no person should be permitted to control, supervise or teach children in any institution until he or she is adequately trained for the task. This legislation certainly expands the capacity of teacher training institutions to provide professional qualifications. However, it provides no incentive to girls who want to undertake training for pre-school teaching.
Another disappointing omission from the legislation is that there is no stimulus for research and development into pre-school education. There is an urgent and growing need for research into and development of child caring practices, teacher-parent relationships, teacher training, all aspects of pre-school programming and the effects on children of child minding centres. The need for research and development could be approached in two ways. First, special grants could bc made to pre-school teacher training authorities for work on the lines I have indicated. Secondly, grants could be made to universities and Departments of Education for research into pre-schooling and child care and development. This is another important area which has been neglected in this legislation.
I should like to make some brief remarks about the broad picture of pre-school education in Australia. The Minister, in his second reading speech, made considerable play on the provision of pre-school facilities in needy areas. He referred to a survey, presumably made by his Department, which emphasised the increasing provision of kindergarten facilities in poorer and needy areas. The Minister should give the House more information on this survey. Certainly it is completely at variance with the conclusions of the Australian Council of
Educational Research which this year published an extensive survey of pre-school education and practice in Australia. According to this survey kindergartens were originally established to provide for poor children living in sub-standard conditions in Australian cities. With the growth of affluence and the vast social changes of the past 20 years this philanthropic pattern has changed until today it is mainly children from upper and middle class homes who enjoy pre-school facilities. This is not the picture of a child from a poor, deprived home. As I have indicated it was the child from that kind of environment who was envisaged as the recipient of Government assistance by the late Mr Harold Holt.
The overall provision of pre-school facilities in Australia reveals many injustices and inequities. The most adequate preschool facilities provided in Australia are those provided in the Australian Capital Territory where the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science provides direct assistance in the form of facilities and teachers. In the Australian Capital Territory 1 in 3 children of the appropriate age group benefits from pre-school education. This compares with 1 in 33 in New South Wales; 1 in 14 in Queensland and Western Australia; 1 in 10 in South Australia and 1 in 5 in Victoria. Quite clearly the Australian Capital Territory is in the elite position in Australia. One does not detract from the Government’s responsibility in the Australian Capital Territory in the fields of tertiary, secondary, kindergarten, primary and pre-school education. Quite recently, together with some of my colleagues, I had the opportunity of looking at some of the provisions that had been made in the Australian Capital Territory for pre-school education, primary education and secondary education. One concedes immediately that the standard is immeasurably better in the Australian Capital Territory than it is in any of the States. One does not suggest, of course, that there ought to be a lowering of the standard in the Australian Capital Territory. Indeed, the Opposition has repeatedly claimed in this Parliament that the standard in other parts of the Commonwealth should be raised to that which is enjoyed in the Australian Capital Territory.
It is quite obvious that the great problem in the States is that the States do not have available the financial resources that the Commonwealth has for education in the, Australian Capital Territory. If one takes’ the opportunity to look at the standard that is being achieved in the Australian Capital Territory one freely admits that it is very commendable. The Opposition has clearly indicated on numerous occasions that this is the standard that ought to apply not only in the Australian Capital Territory but in every State. Elsewhere the distribution of pre-school facilities is skewed in an extremely inequitable manner. Furthermore only in Tasmania and Western Australia is there any substantial degree of government participation in pre-school education. In other States the provision of pre-school facilities is as much a function of the health and social welfare departments as it is of the Education Department.
In 1966-67, the figures for which are the latest available, $3m was spent on pre-school education out of a total education bill of $700m. This indicates the nature of preschool education as a peripheral activity with little educational or social significance. This gives the Commonwealth an excellent opportunity to extend its influence in an area which is not dominated by the States. In the past the only notable contribution that the Commonwealth has made has been to the Lady Gowrie Homes in the various States. If the Government is to make an entry into pre-school education it should first define its aims and objectives. It should decide whether it wants to develop preschool education on the lines indicated by the Plowden Committee into Primary Education in the United Kingdom. The Plowden report projected a vast expansion of pre-school facilities, lt recommended flexible attendance at pre-schools within the primary school structure from the age of 3 years and it provided for the lifting of the age of entry to primary schools. The report envisaged that the basic group for preschool education should be twenty supervised by a trained nursery assistant with a qualified teacher appointed for each three of these groups. It also projected the number of part and full time places that would be required in such a system of pre-school education in the United Kingdom. Assessments were made of the number of teachers, teachers aides and nursery assistants required and the impact that provision of these teachers would have on demand in individual areas.
This is the basic information that would be required for the extension of pre-school education in Australia. At the moment we have not been told how many nursery places will be needed in Australia, how many teachers will be required, how many buildings will be needed and how much equipment will have to be installed. None of this information has been made available to the House by the responsible Minister. Surely it is available to his Department. One would think that this information would be obtained if we are to enter the field of pre-school education. The Opposition agrees that we should do so. Indeed, this decision of the Government would have the unqualified support of all organisations and of any person who had a real concern for the future of education in Australia. But we have been given no assessment of the needs. We have been given no indication of the number of buildings that would be required, of the amount of equipment that ought to go into the buildings or where the buildings ought to be established. The Minister merely says that some assistance should be given for the training of pre-school teachers, and that is the absolute end of the Government’s responsibility.
Rather more basically, the Government has not shown whether it sees pre-school education as a gradual introduction to the educational system by transition from whole lime at home to whole time at school. In short, this legislation to provide more teachers has been produced without any statement of the Government’s objectives, any projection of requirements or any statement of priorities and alternatives. I referred earlier to the element of compensatory education, which has become an important concept in pre-school education in the United States and the United Kingdom. This was the basis of the philanthropic nursery system which was devised to compensate children for cultural deprivation and other disadvantages in the home. Compensatory education was the basis for the huge American project ‘Operation Head Start’, which was designed to introduce disadvantaged children to the learning process as early as possible. There are many reasons why deprivation or disadvantage in the home might stunt the growth of the learning process in a child. There are obvious factors, such as widowed or unmarried mothers, severe poverty, deficiencies in technical skills, overcrowded families, homes with only one parent or a sick mother. Children from these sorts of homes should be given preference in pre-school education. The beginning of primary school education assumes a certain amount of motor and conceptual skill in the child. A child from a disadvantaged home who lacks these skills is obviously put at a severe disadvantage. Furthermore a child from an affluent home may gain a double advantage because of skills acquired in the home and reinforced by attendance at pre-school, which his parents can afford. This increases the gap between these children and their peers, who are disadvantaged because of poor home environment.
One disappointing feature arising from the introduction of this legislation is that the Minister for Education and Science has not given any indication that any priorities will be accorded. He has not shown that the Government’s intention to spend a certain amount of money each year on preschool education will mean that there /vill be certain advantages for disadvantaged children in our community, that those whose needs are greatest will be given some priority so that they will obtain the full advantage of pre-school education. The Minister has merely said that the Government intends to provide a sum of money for the training of pre-school teachers. I think I have said sufficient this afternoon to show that the Government ought to be concerned with other priorities when it deals with a matter of such importance as the provision of pre-school facilities or assistance for pre-school education. The Minister has neglected to take the opportunity to advise the Parliament of its future plans. I repeat that the Opposition does not quarrel with the Government’s intention to provide finance for the provision of preschool education in Australia. This is a commendable development and a worthwhile intrusion by the Commonwealth into a very important field of education. But what the Minister has said is to be done is not sufficient. The Government’s action now should be only the beginning.
The Minister should have given some intimation in his second reading speech that the Government intends to move further into the fields that I have mentioned this afternoon and to ensure that, while assisting pre-school education, it will not merely provide a means of assisting those parents who are already in a position to provide pre-school education for their children. The training of teachers is one matter. It is a very important matter. I have already stated the principle that has been accepted by honourable members on this side of the House. On numerous occasions we have emphasised our belief that a teacher must be properly trained. Only the best is good enough to staff the schools in this country. This legislation will help to achieve this purpose, but the Opposition believes that the Minister could have said much more on this occasion. Indeed, the Minister’s speech is more notable for what is not said than for what is said about pre-school education.
There are people in other specialised areas, such as children of migrant families and Aboriginal children, who should be assisted in attaining language and reasoning skills as early as possible to put them in an equivalent position relative to other children when embarking on the learning process in primary schools. It is areas such as these in which preferential treatment should be directed in the provision of preschool facilities. Beyond these preferential objectives, the essential aim should be the provision of pre-schooling for all those children whose parents want them to have it. After 100 years pre-school education in Australia has barely touched the fringe of the pre-school population. This is why there is a need for stating pre-school objectives and programming and budgeting for their implementation. The Australian Labor Party believes that the provision of increased amounts for the construction of pre-school centres should have been giver higher priority than the expansion of teacher training which is provided by the Bill.
If the Minister does not agree with this contention I would hope that he would at least assert that there is an equal responsibility not merely to provide teachers but to provide the facilities that will enable the teachers to give the education at the preschool level that one would hope the Government would expect to achieve. Children of parents in the low income groups are gravely disadvantaged by the present means of financing pre-school centres through voluntary fund raising supported by inadequate grants from the State governments. No-one underestimates the supreme efforts that have been made by interested people in all States to ensure that there is a basis for the provision of pre-school education. In many instances, they have worked extremely hard to ensure that a measure of responsibility has been accepted by people in their own areas.
We believe that high priority also should be given to grants for payment of trained assistants in pre-school centres. This is essential for the services of qualified teachers to be utilised effectively and for the burden of assistance in pre-school centres to be looked at from the point of view of the mothers and voluntary helpers who perform these duties at the moment. Also, a determined effort should be made to stimulate expansion of pre-school education in country areas where facilities are sadly lacking. These are the basic elements of a system of priorities which could form a programme for pre-school education in this country. The expansion of teacher training is commendable. But regrettably, in isolation, the legislation cannot achieve the required expansion and improvement of preschool facilities in Australia. In particular, it will not provide the urgent facilities necessary for disadvantaged children in needy areas who should be introduced to the learning process as early as possible.
Therefore, while I have made it quite clear that the Opposition supports this Bill - indeed, it commends those who have been responsible for initiating this kind of assistance at this level of education throughout the Commonwealth - the Opposition believes that it is only the beginning. One would have hoped that the responsible Minister would have taken the opportunity at least to deal with some of the aspects that I have referred to this afternoon. Since this was not done in his second reading speech we hope that the Minister will take the opportunity to do so when he replies at the conclusion of this debate.
These aspects include the question of environment: the kind of assistance that will be available for children who come from needy homes; the opportunities they will have under this kind of legislation; and whether this legislation and the future commitments of the Government will provide for the establishment of the kind of facilities that will be necessary if trained teachers are available. 1 refer not merely to the provision of teachers but indeed to the provision of the necessary facilities that also will be essential if pre-school education is to be launched successfully. Mr Deputy Speaker, because of the move by the Government to provide at least a measure of finance that we and, I think, most people believe will give some assistance for pre-school education, the Opposition supports in principle the measure introduced by the Minister for Education and Science.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), commenced his contribution this afternoon by characterising this Bill as another example of the peculiar approach of the Government to education. I do not care particularly what adjectives the honourable gentleman applies to the approach of the Government to education. But I suggest that he looks at the election results and talks to the Australian people about the mailer, lt appears to me that the Australian people would not regard the approach by the Government to this matter as a peculiar one. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on to say that the Bill did not provide for scholarships. If he had looked carefully, or indeed, at all, at the second reading speech delivered by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who is at the table, he would have seen thai the Minister said that the purpose of this Bill is to provide unmatched grants totalling S2.5m over this and thc 2 subsequent financial years for the construction and equipping of colleges for the training of pre-school teachers throughout Australia.
The Minister said further that the most important help that the Commonwealth could give to pre-school education would be to provide facilities which would help to ensure an adequate supply of trained kindergarten teachers. Therefore, the Minister was setting priorities. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that this is not enough. I remind him that education is a field for which constitutionally at least the States have the primary responsibility. I grant the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that over recent years this primary responsibility has given way more to a partnership between the Commonwealth and the States, but this docs not take away from the States their own responsibilities in this sphere. The Commonwealth has not unlimited financial resources and, very naturally, has had to set priorities. In my opinion, the Minister for Education and Science very clearly looked at the question of priorities and in his second reading speech stated the matters which, in the opinion of the Government, had the highest priority in this sphere of education. 1 am personally pleased that the Government has placed pre-school facilities high in its education priorities. When I last spoke on education in this House, on 9th May of this year, J urged the Government to expand what it was already doing at the pre-school level. I went on to suggest a system of matching grants for the Stales for the establishment and operation of pre-school facilities. I am delighted that, by this Bill, we are providing unmatched grants. Now that the Commonwealth has undertaken further activity in the field of pre-school education it should in my opinion transfer the assistance that it has given since 1938 to the Lady Gowrie Child Centres and to the Australian Pre-School Association from the Department of Health to the Department of Education and Science. Admittedly, Lady Gowrie Child Centres have two functions. On the one hand, schools carry out a pre-school child education programme and, on the other hand, health centres are provided in which the physical health and growth of the pre-school child are studied and promoted. However, I think that today they more naturally fall under the heading of education. Certainly in my opinion they deserve more Government assistance. I hope that this transfer will coincide with more financial assistance. 1 turn to the Bill. In Tasmania, we are to receive $220,000 over the 3-year period beginning on 1st July 1968 and ending on 30lh June 1971. The Tasmanian Department of Education, which has been consulted all along, is bound by subclause (2.) of clause 7 to apply this money to the Launceston Teachers College. The money will be used to construct and equip an artscrafts block at the new Launceston Teachers College which itself is at present being constructed with a grant of $1.5m from the Commonwealth under the teachers colleges scheme.
In his statement on 14th August, the Minister for Education and Science said that the immediate need in pre-school education is to double in all States the number of trained kindergarten teachers at present being produced. However, even coupled with the complementary measure extending more Commonwealth advanced education scholarships to persons intending to train al kindergarten teachers colleges. I doubt whether this generous unmatched grant which we are dealing with this afternoon will double immediately the number of kindergarten teachers available in Tasmania. No doubt exists, as has been pointed out by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that the additional block at Launceston will increase significantly the capacity of the college and enable courses for the training of teachers for pre-schools to be introduced in Launceston in addition to the existing courses at Hobart.
Tasmania, again as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out. is the only Slate to train pre-school teachers in the State education system. 1 understand that the integration of pre-school education with primary education is envisaged in my State. This to me has many desirable features. But I point out that it could have problems in implementation unless there are sufficient fully qualified teachers available. My concern is that an adequate flow of teachers go to pre-schools. The quality of any preschool education programme is in direct relationship to the quality of the teachers carrying out this work. It is quite clear in Tasmania at present that there are not enough pre-school teachers. Those that there are to my knowledge do a magnificent job.
The old system of sending students to Melbourne and Adelaide on bursaries finishes this year. Coinciding with that fact, a small group is about to complete its course at the Hobart Teachers Training College. The college has approached the Australian Pre-School Association for the recognition of its course. One problem here is that although the course conducted by the Tasmanian Department of Education is a 3- year course, it is a general course. The student is not required to specialise in preschool teaching until the second year of that course. However, I hope that no difficulties will be encountered in the recognition of the Tasmanian course by the Australian Pre-School Association which is the competent body in this respect.
I also point out that in Tasmania at present there are not enough centres to meet the demand for places. In many districts it is possible to admit children for only I year of attendance before they go on to primary school. There are many districts without pre-school centres at all, and in some areas parent supporting child mining centres are established as a stopgap measure. However, some of these establishments, while no doubt a relief to the parents, are not always of positive assistance to impressionable children. 1 am concerned to see pre-school education of a high standard made available to all sections of the community. Without qualified staff to maintain this standard, however, there is a danger that a substandard programme could develop. Now that the Commonwealth is giving additional aid to State educationalists at the preschool level I would urge the Stales themselves to establish more centres, giving first priority to areas in which children could be disadvantaged by a lack of pre-school education. I admit that this need is difficult to assess because it is not necessarily related to socio-economic conditions, lt is possible at any socio-economic level to find many children who would achieve a greater” development of potential with the benefit of a good pre-school education. I suggest as obvious starting points, firstly Aboriginal or part-Aboriginal communities where residence is stabilised. I am encouraged in this suggestion by the answer given at question time this morning to the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) by the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth). A second starting point would be areas in which new Australians are living and where many of the children would, without a pre-school centre, have limited contact with the English language before beginning formal schooling. A third starting point would be amongst the children of families who are living in flats or whose homes provide insufficient space for safe play.
I would like to think of this country as one of opportunity for all, where benefits are spread evenly over the whole community. I feel that pre-school education should not be made available to only a minority in any section of the overall community. I therefore welcome this Bill which in my opinion is another step by the Commonwealth Government, in partnership with the State governments, towards achieving this goal.
Let me make clear the way in which my approach to this matter differs from that of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In my opinion, as I said earlier, priorities have to be established by the Commonwealth and by the States. One should not merely say: The Commonwealth does not do enough’, ft is only fair to look at the basic responsibility for education which, as I have said, is that of the States. It is pointless to take the attitude adopted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and say: ‘Whatever you do, it is not enough. This Bill goes half way but you should be doing more. The Minister has not given us enough information in his second reading speech.’ Without wishing to praise the Minister too much, 1 should have thought that his second reading speech was commendable. It covered all the relevant aspects of the Bill. It should be noted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that on 14th August the Minister made a much more expanded statement dealing with all the inter-related questions of new developments in education. [ have much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– I suppose the honourable member for Denison (Mr Gibson) supports the Bill because he has to, but at least we can say that the Government Parties are now in agreement that the Commonwealth ought to be in the business of pre-school education.
– Does the honourable member oppose it?
– No, I remind the honourable member of this encouraging fact: It is only 10i years since we launched the campaign to get the Commonwealth a little more involved in education. Back in May 1958, 1 proposed for discussion, as a matter of urgent public importance, the need for the Commonwealth to take action to ensure that sufficient funds were available to each State of the Commonwealth to provide adequate public education facilities for the people. I was answered at that time, I recall, by the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, now Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, who pointed out the error of our ways. He said:
The subject raised by the honourable member for Wilis is beyond question a very important one-
Always a good start to any speech in this House- and it will not be very easy to discuss it within the IS minutes allotted to me, but I should like to say to the honourable member that I rather envy the easy way in which he sets the Constitution on one side of the grounds that it is out of date. The fact is that it still exists. The fact is that education, except in Commonwealth Territories, remains a function of the States. The further fact is that I have not heard of any agitation throughout Australia for Commonwealth action.
On that day, the majority opinion appeared to be that the Commonwealth had little to do with education. But, interestingly enough, after we had concluded that debate we were presented with a Bill authorising the Commonwealth to make grants to the States for university education. There is a continual contradiction between the apparatus of the Liberal Party, or its general constitutional attitude, and the facts of life. So we welcome the advance of that Party into the field of financial support to the States for education. The Government has been granting this support now for some years but in the period from 1945 to 1958 there was not, I think, one major debate in this place on education.
The honourable member for Denison says that the primary responsibility stays with the States. I suppose it does. It all depends on what one considers to be the responsibility of a parliament. A parliament is concerned with people as such. I do not think it is concerned with them as Victorians or as Australians. Since a parliament is concerned with people as such, somehow, wc must get around these barriers of constitutional inhibitions that have blocked the way for 67 years. It is interesting that even this rather inhibited, pussy-footing, pedestrian Government is able to surmount the obstacle all right by applying the appropriate section of the Constitution and providing the legislation that, subject to certain conditions: t he Stale will ensure that an amount equal to thai payment is paid to the body or trustee specified in the third column of the schedule . . .
And so on. In other words, we have no inhibitions about saying to the States: ‘Here is the money; do that with it’. When the time is about right, or even 10 years late, we are prepared to step into the field and say: ‘Here is the money; do that with it’. In fact, the Government does not recognise the constitutional limitations in these matters. This, I suppose, is our principal complaint. We have arrived at what might be called a pick a box education system. As the honourable member for Denison pointed out, the people made it clear at the last election that this was as successful a method as any of tackling the educational problem. I am not sure that it was recognised as successful in the electorate of Denison, however, ls it not true that the honourable members majority was reduced at the last election? If so one might say that in some electorates in Australia we should do this while in others we should not. In any case, I do not know that this was an issue at the last election, but perhaps when the day comes that the people of Australia are aware that the Commonwealth can act in education in an effective way, and the Australian Labor Party at least is well advanced with the development of an overall plan, we shall get somewhere.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) pointed out the hotch-potch approach of the Government to education. We are in the business of assisting universities and we are doing this in such a wholehearted way that the control of universities in many directions, even to their internal details, the kind of buildings they will erect, the salaries they will pay their professors and so on. lies with the Commonwealth.
We have gone into the business of supporting non-State education by providing money for science blocks. Why did we select science blocks? It just happened that at the time this appeared to be the best political gimmick. It is probably true that it was, but this was a fairly unscientific approach to a very important subject. Now we are to do something about buildings in which to train pre-school teachers, and we are also to do something about libraries.
Just as we on this side of the House would like to see a constructive approach towards economic planning, so we would like to see a similar approach towards social planning. Social planning does not mean social direction, but it is obvious that Australian education needs a new look right across the board. 1 agree with my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that a lot of questions ought to be asked about this subject. For instance, are buildings the key? ls it a fact that if we provide more buildings at all the pre-school teacher training colleges listed in the schedule, we will by some magic obtain the extra teachers? The real problem as I see it, and as people involved in the system also see it, is the provision of some sort of financial support for the trainee. There is no doubt that this is a poverty stricken area of Australian education. Then 1 think there ought to be some support for the teacher and there ought to be a good deal of financial support for the provision of the buildings in which he is taught. 1 am not gainsaying that the step now being taken is a necessary and useful one. However, though the honourable member for Denison says that it is all right and that there is a limit to the money that is available, it appears to me that $2. 5m spread throughout Australia is little enough for the 720,000 or so children in the 3 to 5 years age group. A very small proportion of those children will benefit from this measure.
We are not too sure that perhaps we are not compounding the inequalities of the pre-school system. The pre-school system, or the kindergarten system, which embraces children in the 3 to 5 years age group, contains some astonishing inequalities. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out. only in Tasmania is the education system giving satisfactory support to the training of pre-school teachers.
But in Victoria - and it is not often that Victoria leads in anything - there has been a more substantial development of preschool and kindergarten education than there has been in any other State. For instance, in 1966, which is the latest year for which 1 have figures, pre-school enrolments in Australia totalled about 58,000, of which 32,000 were in Victoria. Strangely enough, although Victoria has the largest pre-school education system, the increase from 26,000 to 32,000 in the number of children in pre-schools in a 3-year period was more substantial than in any other State, although this was not the case so far as the percentage was concerned. So there is an overall demand for pre-school education.
I suppose that $2.5m is not much to this Government. What is it? About half of what the Government spends on the security service or about the cost of the telephone account of the Bureau of Meteorology or about half the cost of the swing wing on an Fill or something like that. So I do not suppose that we are compounding the inequalities, because the expenditure of this money will make a very small impact upon the pre-school system. What we have to learn is that the Australian pre-school system is basically unequal throughout the continent. Although we have not achieved it, one of the objectives of the Australian education system has been to make an equal effort throughout the continent. No matter how remote or how depressed in socio-economic status a child may be, the objective has been to make some sort of economic effort towards providing him with an education. It would be presumptous to say that we have achieved this objective anywhere in Australia, but it has been a continuing effort. Of course, this has not been the case in the pre-school field. What we have to do is to accept the view that pre-school education or kindergarten education - call it what you will - is an integral part of our education system. This view has not been accepted, so, of course, the pre-school system is a microscopic area of education.
As I mentioned earlier, there are some 700,000 children in the 3 to 5 years age group, of whom only some 58,000 to 60,000 are enrolled in pre-school centres. The number of centres in some States is micro- scopic. New South Wales, for some reason or other, has the worst record in pre-school education but, as I recall it, has the best record regarding university enrolments. We should attempt to tackle this problem of pre-school education and see what we can do to give every community in Australia some support for its pre-school education system. From the remarks of the State Premiers, the State Ministers for Education and others it is obvious that no expansion of funds for pre-school purposes will come from the States. How much money would be involved? I have no doubt that very large sums would be involved. Even at a conservative estimate a pre-school centre costs between $3,000 and $5,000. I am speaking now of an area in which a large amount of the effort in the building of pre-schools has to come from the local community. Parents have to raise money by whatever kind of effort is customary in their community; by raffling things, probably illegally, by running bazaars and so on. This is the way in which Australian preschool centres have been financed. I would say that in Melbourne this work has probably been done mainly in the outer areas, where there is a young and growing community which has a certain amount of vigour towards social attitudes of this sort, or in the middle class areas.
The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said in his speech that in general it is the poorer and needier areas that have been supplied with preschool centres. 1 would think that this is not the case in Victoria, but 1 would not like to contradict him. He has greater resources of research at his disposal than I have, although I am grateful to the Parliamentary Library for what it does when I ask it for information on these matters. We somehow have to say, as a matter of policy, that kindergarten or pre-school education is an integral part of the education system and that it requires a total effort throughout Australia. In the first instance it would be futile to ask the State education departments to take up this task of supplying pre-school education immediately. It may well not be desirable; I do not know, but it would certainly be desirable to do something in order to give greater support to local communities in their efforts to supply pre-school centres. This would mean a lot more than the doubling of the present number of trainees in kindergarten training colleges. According to the list in the schedule to the Bill, I think that there are approximately 750 trainees in kindergarten training colleges. This number is to be doubled to 1,500. If this happens it will be very commendable. One can only hope that it will happen.
One of the interesting points about this matter is that a kindergarten or a preschool, generally speaking, has a completely different set of principles or standards from those of the school which a child will attend when he leaves the pre-school. The kindergarten system is based upon self directive activity, creative expression and so on, which is almost a direct contradiction to what happens in the average Australian primary and secondary school, in which a child is regimented from the time he enters the school until he leaves it, although I suppose that this does not apply in the infants’ rooms of most of the advanced schools in the Australian education system - not that so many of them are advanced although, on the whole, we have probably done better in this regard in infants’ rooms that in some of the higher echelons of the education system. 1 reiterate that I believe the pre-school system is one of the most neglected areas of education. It will perhaps always be difficult to provide a career service in the pre-school system. One of the advantages of the major education systems is that when people enter them they enter on an education career. They can rise through the service to the hierarchy and eventually end up as directors of schools. But kindergarten or pre-school centres will always be small. There will be groups of 20 or perhaps 40 children in each centre, which will be situated not much more than a few hundred yards from the children’s homes. The preschool system will require a different system of employment, promotion and so on in order to allow people to continue in the service. It has been pointed out that there is a great need for research in the whole area of education, and indeed there is a great need for research in the pre-school system.
I was interested to read that after the last World War we established pre-school centres in the migrant hostel areas. We established quite a number by 1951. But there is only one centre left now. What has happened? Has the problem vanished? Of course it has not. It has simply moved from the migrant hostel areas to, I presume, the inner suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, and - I know from my own area - into suburbs such as Coburg, and Brunswick in particular. These areas are unlikely to be able to establish kindergartens or preschools on parent initiative with the same resources at their disposal as are to bc found in the outer suburbs or in the middle class areas. We ought to be doing something about this. It is primarily a Commonwealth responsibility. The migrant children who come to Australia by ship or aircraft are brought here by the Commonwealth. I think that we will have to face up to our responsibility of providing pre-schools for them.
The honourable member for Denison will be pleased to know that 1 am in complete agreement with him on the question of Aboriginal children. This is a serious matter throughout Australia. I know of a number of areas in which people are attempting to establish pre-schools for Aboriginals. 1 wish that something could be done in this regard forthwith by the Commonwealth, under the constitutional authority which it was given, approximately 18 months ago, by the mammoth vote of the Australian people. Somehow or other we have to find an answer to this question of providing preschools for Aboriginal children. Presumably there is not much technical difficulty in establishing these centres. There may be some difficulty in finding teachers. I would think there is not much difficulty in supplying the money. But there seems to be a great deal of difficulty in getting direct departmental action. The Minister for Education and Science is large enough and the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) is enthusiastic enough. Between them they ought to be able to do something about this.
I remind the House of the situation that we find in Canberra. I think that my friend from Bass mentioned that we have visited some of the schools in Canberra. There ought to be some special national pilgrimage system whereby parents can come and look at the schools in Canberra. But in Canberra, by a miracle of administration and despite the inhibitions that might flow from the kind o£ Government we have had for 17 or 18 years, adequate space is available. The physical environment in which an average child in Canberra finds himself or herself is substantially better than that in 90% of the schools in Australia. I note that in New South Wales the standard of school buildings has been higher than in Victoria or Queensland: but, having visited and had a look at them, in my view even the older schools in the Australian Capital Territory such as Telopea Park High School, which was started in 1923 and has been added to very skilfully, supplies a totally different environment for the average child.
It is interesting to note that in the Australian Capital Territory the parents of the children have only had to show that they were interested in a pre-school centre for the fatherly Commonwealth to turn up and do something about it. In the Australian Capital Territory last year personal enrolments numbered 2,400 children compared with 2,400 children in Tasmania, which has a population of three and a half times that of Canberra. There were only 4,600 in New South Wales, even though there are about 40 times as many people in New South Wales as in the Australian Capital Territory. The principles we have applied in Canberra would be desirable for the rest of Australia. We give our muted congratulations to the Minister for stepping over the constitutional barriers, which are pretty unreal and almost non-existent. We hope to give further encouragement to the Treasury and everybody involved to step into this field with a little more vigour and to adopt a more scientific, planned approach to the whole system of education.
– Whilst, as the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) said, the Bill now before us has relieved the growing embarrassment of the States in providing the essentials of education, and whilst it does rest on a certain amount of prior consultation, care and planning with the responsible parties, it still arbitrarily lays down a uniform increase of 100% in training vacancies for every State over a 3-year period. This is the first evidence of lack of planning, particularly as the numbers being trained in the different States have no relationship to the populations concerned. The arrangement in the States is quite divorced from the excellent education facilities of the Australian Capital Territory, as the honourable member for Wills has pointed out. In other words, it is quite out of line with the recent statements of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) who has said that every child in Australia should have the same opportunity. The Bill is a short step forward; it falls far short of the desired objective. A long range plan is needed to provide the proper number of training colleges. To the Government parties it seems that comprehensive forward planning is taboo. Apparently the Government looks upon planning as travelling the perilous road to restrictive bureaucracy, which it falsely identifies with Socialism. Every large and successful undertaking which treats its participants humanely is a step towards Socialism of the democratic variety.
– Cut it out.
– I seem to hear a murmur of dissent from the other side. The Prime Minister said a few months ago: ‘We are all Socialists now’. Unfortunately the actions of his Ministry do not seem to follow his words. A democratic Socialist approach to this problem would involve the integration of all facets of planning. I do not refer only to education. In the 3 years that will elapse before this money is spent we should be looking beyond this pressing problem of training pre-primary teachers. The authorities who advised this type of appropriation, and other authorities who represent teachers and parents, ought to be asked what is needed in the form of buildings, equipment and organisation for our tiny tots. This involves assessing not only the children’s needs but also the needs of working mothers and those mothers who stay at home to look after the home, as well as the mothers who would be out working and preserving their pre-martial professional skills if only there were more pre-schools and kindergartens. This in turn calls for a dove-tailing with plans for those undertakings where the young mother’s skills can best be used - in hospitals, factories, pre-schools and so on.
The significance of the female work force is well shown in the Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited Quarterly Survey for October 1968 when it says:
Although the proportion of Australian women who work has increased dramatically the present average is still well below that achieved overseas.
Conditions in Australia lend support to the view that these trends will continue over the next 10 years. Immigration alone will provide large increments to the female work force.
. Female teachers have been granted equal pay with male rates. … It appears that, in the early 1970s, equal pay will be a major factor encouraging women to return to work.
Some of the graphs in this survey show that there is a much larger growth in the female work force than there is in the male work force. Instead of seeing this far sighted planning, instead of seeing all these facets of the problem dealt with, when we look at this Bill we gain the impression that it is part ofa long line of piecemeal, patchwork handouts to provide something upon which the Ministry may piant a plaque to remind future voters that this Government supplied the bricks. The same materialistic bricks and mortor approach is to be seen in regard to science blocks, libraries and pre-primary teachers’ colleges. Is it not time we went beyond having literally something solid to show for our money, and instead started to invest solidly in the biggest future productive asset of Australia - that is brain power?
I would like to see this long overdue and hastily prepared Bill extended and supplemented. There is no doubt that its provisions are too niggardly. Nevertheless we should not oppose it. As one honourable member has said a lot of people will ask: “Where will you get the money? You cannot find the money to do everything that should be done in education. Therefore you should not try.’ We would have the necessary funds if the Government spent less on many other items which are not needed, such as the giant mausoleums that are built on Australia’s dearest real estate by banks and insurance companies. If we spent less on luxury planes and cars, if we spent less on importing needless missile carrying destroyers which we could have built more cheaply here, and if the Government was not competing on the open loan market in Australia and overseas on a laissez faire basis for high interest development capital when we could have it from our own Commonwealth Bank at cost of issuance or from Australian insurance companies by channeling their investments, more money would be available for education.
I ask the Minister to look beyond the squeal which comes from some areas of education every year or so and to do more than lessen the squeal by providing a few more buildings. In its panic to avoid planning, which it appears will become government by bureaucracy, the Government has resorted to government by botheration. The Government waits until someone bothers it enough before it does something to reduce the outcry temporarily and in a piecemeal fashion. It does not even consider that there might be some alternative - some sort of government by brotherhood. In fact, if anyone indicated this they would probably think he was starting some new cult like Scientology to take people’s money away from them.
– Do you support Scientology?
Or EVERINGHAM-I think the Minister has the sense a little twisted, but if he reads Hansard he will be ableto sort it out. This sort of government by botheration, as I have called it, is evident in the capital grants to non-State schools, the science laboratories grants, the technical college grants, and now the pre-school teachers college grants and secondary school library grants. The sad fact is that many of the beautiful subsidised buildings, not established under this Bill but under some of the others I have mentioned, and some of the beautifully equipped rooms are lying idle because schools cannot afford the other necessary equipment and the staff to run them.
The Government stands condemned for failing to sense the growing minds inside the bricks and mortar; for failing to use cost benefit analysis or any other kind of planning in its search for an escape from the mounting flood of criticism in the education and science fields. It is not good enough to scurry for cover; it is necessary to give farsighted leadership if we are to develop the economic, ethical and artistic capacities of our most precious natural resources - our children. It is time to slash other expenditure to the bone, if necessary, to give urgent top priority and status to the most important and the least economically honoured professions of all - our mothers and our teachers. Surely something could be done to give most of the funds first to the most deprived colleges, schools and preschools.
While this Bill does offer some help to the personnel shortage, it does not cope with the States’ incapacity to pay the personnel once they are trained. Nor does it make any provision for the equipment for the depressed areas which again were mentioned by the honourable member for Wills and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. They clearly pointed out that this most urgent and crying need in education is not heard by the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth Government again takes refuge in the old cry of Constitutional limitations - that this is primarily the responsibilities of the States. One honourable member said that our arguments will not be understood by the general public. He said that the public would think this is marvellous - that this is exactly what is wanted - and they will not listen to any criticism of it. I submit that the people of Australia know very well that there is a crisis in education; that the people who should be carrying the responsibility are those who hold the purse strings; and that the States no longer have this power. The States have been crying out, they have made their needs clear to the public and the Commonwealth too has heard this cry. To say that the Commonwealth does not have the primary responsibility for education is a vain argument against this mounting swell of criticism. It seems therefore that what will happen is that when the extra preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers are trained, the States will be burdened with extra bills for more buildings and more equipment and will have to fall back increasingly on parents and citizens associations to finish equipping the schools. This was mentioned by the honourable member for Wills. 1 commend the statement made by the honourable members on this side of the House and the criticisms that they have put forward. I commend what has been said to the Minister’s attention. While not opposing the Bill I trust that the Minister will see that it is a very small and inadequate start in a vital field.
– in reply - The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), in answering for the Opposition, said that the Government had exhibited a peculiar approach in its support for pre-schools as it had earlier exhibited a peculiar approach in its decision to build science laboratories in all schools, both government and independent schools. He indicated that in the science laboratory programme we decided to build capital facilities without taking active and positive steps to increase the number of teachers, whereas in this area we have made a decision to increase the number of teachers without at the same time providing additional funds for capital facilities. In both these areas, of course, the decisions were taken in the way they were because of the quite deliberate decision and deliberate assessments of the needs in a particular area. That is why bo !t programmes have developed as they have.
The science programme, as I said before in this place, should be regarded as part of an integrated approach to try to improve the quality of scientific training in Australia. Ever since the large and significant grants were made to universities beginning in the middle of the 1950s, improved facilities have been provided at universities. But it was becoming clear that the best use of these facilities would not be made unless the quality of scientific training could be improved in secondary schools, lt was felt the best way to do this, since science teachers for the schools would normally go through universities, would be to provide the facilities at secondary schools, both the State systems and the independent systems, that had been unable to provide for themselves.
When we come to examine the situation in pre-schools and kindergarten education, we find a different situation. We find a situation in which the resources of those supplying and training the teachers for pre-schools are very limited and that the main inhibiting factor in the provision of new pre-schools is the ability to get trained pre-school teachers. Quite clearly people in a local area are not going to spend a not inconsiderable amount of money in providing a pre-school and the facilities that go with it unless at the same time they are able to have a teacher provided to man the school. In a few moments I will indicate what has been done and the kind of building that has taken place, and where the main weight of pre-school building has in fact occurred.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also said that the Government had given no indication of its intentions in these matters. I would have thought that our intentions are quite clear. Wc are beginning a programme which is designed to double the capacity of the pre-school training centres in each of the States of Australia. Also, I said on another occasion that a number of scholarships from the advanced college scholarship programme would be set aside for those who wished to take preschool teacher training courses at these particular institutions. These scholarships will come from part of the additional 500 advanced education scholarships that will be made available for the first time in 1969. But I would also indicate as a firm matter of intention and as a firm matter of planning that on a request from the Interim Council of the College of Advanced Education in Canberra permission had been given for this college to begin planning for the introduction of teacher training in the not too distant future; and that pre-school training would be part of the training that would be conducted at that college. These are not vague statements; they are firm statements of intention. I find it difficult to understand the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when he charges the Government with not having indicated what it intended to do in this area. 1 was interested to note the difference in view expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). Perhaps this difference might be attributable to natural State pride on the part of each member. But the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I think, clearly indicated a preference for what Tasmania had done in this field. The honourable member for Wills had a preference for what the Liberal Government of Victoria had done over and above what the Labor Government of Tasmania had so far achieved. But the particular point made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was that Tasmania alone was the State that paid for a teacher at a pre-school that might be established in some area of Tasmania. This in fact is not so. According to notes that 1 have been given by my department, the Victorian Government not only pays up to $6,000 on capital grants for the establishment of a pre-school but also pays the cost of a trained teacher’s salary for each pre-school unit. A number of other States also subsidise the salaries of teacher trainees and provide facilities and support in a number of different ways for teacher trainees. While the approaches of the States have not all been the same, in general the States have indicated some concern in this matter. If one had to make a judgment between Victoria and Tasmania, clearly Victoria would have to come out on top because of the significantly larger numbers attending pre-schools in Victoria.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked for more information about the survey conducted by my Department and the priorities that had been established. The honourable member may or may not accept what I say about the survey and the conclusions that were reached. After discussions with all the people concerned - with teacher training colleges and those involved in the important business of pre-school teaching - the firm decision reached in each State was that the major requirement was to increase the number of teacher trainees. It was the unanimous opinion that the shortage of trained teachers was the main factor inhibiting further development and expansion of pre-school facilities in the States. The survey conducted by my Department of pre-schools in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth indicated that in Sydney 58% of the affiliated metropolitan units were in the poorer sections of the city; in Melbourne 65% were in the poorer sections of the city; in Adelaide 73% were in the poorer sections of the city; and in Perth 55% were in the poorer sections of the city. I admit at once that the division into better off and poorer sections of the city is to some extent necessarily an arbitrary one unless you have an intimate knowledge of the particular city, because there may be pockets of wealthy areas in the poorer suburbs, just as the reverse may apply. But as an overall guide I think the division would probably indicate the trends reasonably accurately.
The percentages I have given of preschools in the poorer areas in those four cities relate to all pre-schools affiliated in the areas. The figures relating to pre-schools built in the last 5 years or likely to be completed in the next 12 months are even more interesting. Those figures show that in
Sydney 62% of pre-schools built in the last 5 years or likely to be completed in the next 12 months are in poorer areas of the city; in Melbourne 75% are in poorer areas of the city; in Adelaide 75% are in poorer areas of the city: and in Perth 54% are in poorer areas of the city. Those figures indicate that at least in those four cities undue emphasis is not placed on the provision of pre-schools in the wealthier parts of the cities. This factor was one of the reasons why the Commonwealth felt that it would be quite proper to make a decision to support the expansion of training facilities for pre-school teachers, enabling other developments in this field to proceed.
The fact that the Commonwealth, after discussions with State authorities and other people concerned in the matter, decided to provide support in a particular area of need does not mean that the Commonwealth automatically has a responsibility to take over the whole field or that the State has a right to forego any interest which it might previously have had in that field. I prefer to regard the Commonwealth’s approach in these matters as one of working in co-operation with the States and other people concerned with education and in devising programmes to meet specific areas of need.
The quality of facilities in the Australian Capital Territory was mentioned. Some time ago the Australian Capital Territory Teachers Association requested me to examine standards of school construction in the Territory. The Association believed that standards in the Territory were falling behind those in New South Wales. As a result of those representations 1 had a survey conducted of building costs in Canberra and. as far as was possible, in New South Wales on a per pupil basis. The result of the survey showed that in New South Wales it may cost about $1,200 for a pupil place, whereas in Canberra the cost is between $1,300 and $1,450. In considering those figures it must be borne in mind that in Canberra overall building costs are significantly higher than they would be in New South Wales generally. Climatic factors affect school building costs in Canberra. The cold winter in the Territory would add something to the cost of buildings compared with costs over the whole of New South Wales. Some time ago when I was inspecting schools built in Canberra I asked teachers what they thought of standards of constructions compared with standards in New South Wales. I was told that new schools in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory were roughly of the same quality. But it is clear that the larger and older States have a problem that Canberra, as a new city, does not have. The larger and older States have the problem of old schools in inner metropolitan areas, lt is in these areas that you will find the major differences in standards of schools, but you will see these differences within a State when you compare its new constructions with its old schools. But because a school is somewhat older and less modern in design does not necesasrily mean that it cannot fulfil its purpose quite well.
The Opposition has stated that it supports the legislation, although, listening to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, one might have thought that, that support was somewhat reluctant. The tenor of his speech was more towards opposition than support. In part this may be because of a dislike of having to admit that the Government is taking the initiative in the field of education and is usefully serving the cause of education. I was puzzled by certain of the honourable member’s remarks when he referred to the printed platform of the Australian Labor Party, published in August 1967. He said that what the Government is now doing represents the fulfilment of the first part of the Oppositions policy on pre-school education. An officer of my Department and I have read that part of Labor’s policy which refers to education and it is not possible to find one word in it about pre-school education. It is possible to find a great many generalised statements but in not one instance a description of a firm and coherent programme that would add to the quantity or improve the quality of Australian education. Indeed, the document shows again a delight for an overall plan to which all must conform. 1 think at limes the Opposition presses for a national inquiry into education because it is not prepared to suggest or has not been able to suggest specific areas of support based on its own judgment and knowledge. The Government on the other hand prefers a pragmatic approach by communication with the States, wilh teachers unions and federations, with independent schools - with all those concerned in education - in order to make a continuous assessment of Australia’s educational needs and an assessment of when it can provide support in particular areas of need. The science laboratories programme, the libraries project, the technical training support for the States, the support for preschools which we are now debating and the curriculum development project brought forward at the request of Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia are examples of the kind of approach which the Government has adopted and is continuing to adopt.
When the Government adopts a policy it is easy to say that it should be doing more than it has decided to do. This is virtually what the Opposition has said today. Nol only is there no mention of preschools in Labor’s platform for education but also there may well be no mention of libraries, although I would like to check the document before I make a categorical statement on that aspect. I believe the Opposition started to talk about these matters only after the late Mr Harold Holt mentioned them as areas of investigation some considerable time ago when delivering a policy speech prior to a Senate election. Thereupon, knowing that the Government was likely to do something, the Opposition quickly developed a few views on the subject. Now, when we bring in the final and firm proposal, it attempts to establish that this is the sort of proposal about which it had been talking and which it would like to think it had been proposing. I thank the honourable members who have spoken in this debate for their criticism, constructive or otherwise, because both my Department and I take note of the points made in relation to future planning and future programmes which it might be possible to introduce.
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 Malcolm Fraser) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 25 September (vide page 1480), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Speaker, I move:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House is of opinion that the Bill is an inadequate contribution to education in Australia because it -
fails to attack the crisis in education in Australia in the areas of greatest need;
is symptomatic of the Government’s unplanned, piecemeal approach to the development of educational facilities in Australia, and
fails to provide for an inquiry into all aspects of education, at all levels, in both Government and non-Government schools.
Therefore the House resolves that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted -
to provide for the extension of the grants for libraries and library material and equipment to primary schools;
to provide for recurrent grants for the maintenance of libraries and for the training of teacher-librarians, and
to ensure that, in the administration of the scheme, priority is given to schools according to need, so that all children shall have equal opportunities of access to library facilities’.
This is a major piece of legislation. Except for the initial legislation dealing with science blocks, it is the most important piece of educational legislation to be introduced by this Government. Because of its importance the Opposition has moved an amendment to indicate the serious shortcomings in the Government’s overall approach to education. Our amendment goes further and emphasises the specific deficiencies inherent in the Bill. At the Committee stage, two further amendments will be moved. I will outline these later in my remarks. The Opposition regards the role of the Federal Government in the Australian education system as that of a catalyst. This Government should use its immense initiative and powers of resource allocation to bring about adjustments to and necessary innovations in the education structure. It has become apparent in the last 20 years that increasing injections of Federal funds are needed to sustain education at anywhere near an adequate level. Evidence of a mounting crisis in Australian education can be deduced from a host of sources.
The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), replying to the debate on the States Grants (Pre-School Teachers Colleges) Bill, referred to a national inquiry into education at all levels and indicated that this was something that the Opposition had proposed on a number of occasions. It is true that the Opposition has advocated that a national inquiry at all levels is necessary. The Minister went on to say that the Opposition put forward this proposition because it did not believe that it would be able to formulate a policy of its own in relation to education. Of course, nothing is further from the truth. The Opposition has consistently maintained that a national inquiry is required to investigate education at all levels - primary, secondary and technical - in order to determine the kind of priorities which are necessary and to which a responsible government would give immediate attention. This is the attitude of the Opposition. Of course, the Minister for Education and Science completely overlooked the fact that this is not merely the suggestion of the members on this side of the House. Nor is it a proposal that has been incorporated only in the policies of the Australian Labor Party. This is a suggestion that has been made and supported by educationalists, parents and citizens associations and people from all walks of life who believe that they have some responsibility in the field of education and who acknowledge that there is a crisis in education.
The Opposition has consistently advocated that there ought to be a national inquiry at this level. It is competent for me to point out to this Government that it has frequently ignored this point of view and the repeated representations that have been made to it. It has done this not because it believes it has a policy which it should pursue in respect of education but because it knows that obviously it would be faced with recommendations and proposals that it would not want to accept, if. the opportunity to investigate education at these levels to which I have referred were accorded to a committee of inquiry of the same authority and standing as the Murray Committee on
Australian universities. This is the real reason why the Minister for Education and Science and those who have preceded him in exercising Commonwealth ministerial responsibility for education have consistently rejected any proposal put forward by members of this Parliament or by responsible people outside Parliament for an inquiry to investigate education at all levels.
The Minister is aware, as indeed would be other members of the Government, that a committee of this nature would inevitably make recommendations that this Government would find it difficult to give effect to immediately. As a member of the Opposition, 1 acknowledge that a committee of inquiry of this nature would almost certainly make recommendations which a responsible government could not ignore but which inevitably would involve it in the task of providing additional finance for educational purposes. These matters have been canvassed extensively by the Opposition in this House twice in the past year. On two occasions this year we have moved a motion in this House requesting that the Government establish a committee of this nature to conduct a national inquiry. I do not propose to cover the ground again.
I would like to state briefly the basic thesis of the Opposition. Wilh education in the hands of a multitude of administrative agencies, it is the task of the Federal Government to plan and budget in a coordinated fashion for the overall implementation of a national education policy. Education decisions involve human capital and relate heavily to the future. If they are wrong, they cannot be reversed. In the circumstances it is the task of a federal government to determine the best mix of educational proposals designed for the optimum allocation of scarce resources. It is the Federal Government’s job to state objectives precisely, to order those objectives into priorities and to plan and budget for the implementation of those priorities over a period of at least 5 years. We have stressed repeatedly that this can be done only by a national inquiry into education at all levels - pre-school, primary, secondary and technical. There is no other way in which a concerted effort can lift standards and revitalise the structure of Australian education.
Bearing in mind these basic principles, the shortcomings of the Federal Government’s approach to educational assistance in this Bill are obvious. The Government hit on an electorally successful formula with the science blocks legislation. This formula has been transferred in toto to deal with a completely different area of education. This has been done without any examination of the complexities of libraries and their utilisation and administration. It has been done without any projection of the extra staff required or the buildings and facilities which will be necessary, and without any projection of the total amount of resources needed to give every school in Australia an adequate library service. Further, no attempt has been made to define standards for libraries and to list the essential equipment that is required in each school library. The Minister says that this will be done by an advisory committee. On past experience the recommendations of this committee will not be disclosed. This remarkable approach to the provision of facilities of this kind smacks of patent gimmickry. There is no sense of a coordinated programme which has been carefully evaluated and planned.
Certainly the need for expansion of library facilities in Australia is urgent and imperative. The decision of the Government to introduce this legislation at this time flows from the statement made by the late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt. 1 referred to this matter when I was dealing with the previous Bill. I pointed out that the late Prime Minister indicated before the last Senate election that the Government would be moving into the field of school libraries. The Government has brought forward this legislation. The criticism that I made about the Government’s approach to pre-school education and what it intended to do in that regard applies equally to this legislation. I believe that provision of library facilities is a problem that must be surmounted, but is there any evidence that this is the best way of attacking the problem? There is no sign that the Government has carefully balanced alternative measures for their relative benefits and cost burdens and has found that this is the best way of overcoming library deficiencies. Instead, the ramshackle machinery of the science blocks legislation, which may be a completely unsuitable vehicle in this area of education, has been adopted.
There have always been grave reservations about the operation of the science blocks legislation, but it must be conceded that it at least has had the effect of providing essential science facilities in many schools, lt cannot be predicted with any accuracy just what the legislation we are now considering will produce in individual schools. Certainly there are much greater dangers of distortion of resource allocations under this legislation than there were in the science blocks legislation. This is the Opposition’s basic objection to this legislation, lt has not been conceived as a carefully budgeted programme designed to transform the provision of library facilities in all Australian schools, lt merely transfers a slick formula for distribution of funds to another area of education which may be completely unsuited to this approach and where dangers of abuse and resource distortion exist.
The first specific objection to the legislation is that it provides for library grants for secondary schools only. There is an obvious anomaly here. This was emphasised by the Minister in his second reading speech when he said that secondary schools, as defined in the Bill, include smaller consolidated schools that cater for both primary and secondary pupils. This indicates that some fortunate primary school children will benefit from the legislation while the great bulk of primary school children will not benefit at all. This anomaly points up the absurdity of providing library facilities under legislation related only to secondary schools. Library facilities are at least as urgent in primary schools as they are in secondary schools. There is a considerable body of opinion that libraries are more important in the primary school learning process, and that the Government on this occasion should have taken the opportunity not merely to provide library facilities in schools where both the secondary section and the library section are consolidated but should have extended this kind of assistance to primary schools as well. As I have said, there is a considerable body of opinion that libraries are more important in the primary school learning process. Certainly the introduction of a child to the library should be made as early as possible. The contemporary educational trend is for the increasing integration of the library with the basic learning process of the classroom.
The school librarian today is regarded as a co-educator whose function parallels that of the classroom teacher and is just as important. This is the theme of all contemporary reference works on the school library. Mrs Margaret Trask, who is a member of the Minister’s advisory committee, has emphasised the role of the school librarian as a co-educator in an excellent report on school libraries published earlier this year. Mrs Trask says that school librarians should be given the training to fit them for the role of coeducator, employing a wide variety of techniques and resource materials. In such a wide ranging extension of the learning process the primary school is of extreme importance. The Plowden Committee report on primary education in the United Kingdom referred to a remarkable change in the provision of books in primary schools since the war. According to the report primary school libraries of 4,000 to 5,000 books are quite common. Very few Australian primary schools would match this provision. It is a completely wrong approach to decide that library facilities are important only in secondary schools, for the provision of a full range of library facilities and the integration of that library with the classroom should be a consistent function of the learning process at all levels. An arbitrary decision cannot be made as to when libraries and audio-visual facilities should be provided. The Bill discriminates gravely against primary school children who have just as urgent a need for libraries and library material and equipment as have secondary school children.
The second area of concern to the Opposition is the Bill’s failure to provide recurrent grants for the maintenance of libraries and for the training of teacherlibrarians. There is a heavy element of depreciation in libraries and the materials they use. I should like to refer briefly to a set of standards and objectives for school libraries. It was prepared by the Library Association of Australia for the guidance of educational authorities, teachers, librarians and parents. This publication recommends that schools with fewer than 200 pupils should aim at providing 20 books a pupil, or a total of around 4,000 books as a basic stock. Schools with more than 200 pupils should aim at a minimum book stock of 6,000 to 10,000 books within 10 years of starting the library. Schools with more than 1,000 pupils should have a minimum of ten books a pupil within 10 years of starting a library. These basic figures show the scale of the replacement programme once the initial investment in books has been made, lt has been estimated that after 3 years allowance must be made for the maintenance and replacement of existing stock at the rate of 10% per annum.
Let us assume a school receives an initial grant under this Bill to buy books. Three years from the initial purchase a further outlay will be required for maintenance and unavoidable replacement of the stock. Such expenditure will be outside the scope of this legislation, which is limited to a 3-year period. Let us assume again that a school is given a grant of $6,000 and buys 3,000 books as a basic library stock. In 3 years time another $600 must be spent on minimum replacement and maintenance of the stock. These replacements and maintenance figures would increase in subsequent years if library stocks were augmented by further purchases. There is a very real danger of a school obtaining a large quantity of books under this legislation and then being unable to meet the expenses of maintenance and replacement. This would have the ironic effect of producing a long term deterioration in library facilities rather than the stimulus envisaged by the Bill. This is another reason why the provision of replacement and maintenance grants should be written into the legislation.
The Minister referred briefly to the training of teacher librarians. He said rightly that it was essential for the successful operation of the scheme that additional school librarians be trained. However, all that the Government has done is to allocate a small sum in the hope that some agency will sponsor a number of short specialist courses in school librarianship for teachers. The idea thai a teacher after a brief course can become an effective school librarian is a hangover from the era when anyone who could hand out books was regarded as a librarian and any miscellaneous collection of books in a school was called a library.
Librarianship today is a skilled science that requires a high level of special training. The Minister pointed to the wide range of material necessary for a modern school library, which must include tapes, films, pictures, slides, maps, transparencies, newspapers and periodicals as well as books. These resource materials can be deployed effectively in the learning process only by teacher librarians equipped to specialise in audio-visual education. The Minister refers to this sort of training in his reference to more opportunities for the training of teacher librarians at colleges of advanced education. There was a disappointing lack of urgency and concrete detail in the Minister’s remarks on this subject.
The Minister is extremely vague as to how the skilled expertise needed to follow through and support this legislation is to be provided. With the sort of library the Minister envisages as a centre of learning with a wide and varied collection of resource materials, a school librarian will require the same technical skills and theoretical knowledge of educational procedures as classroom teachers have. The Government clearly has no conception of how to provide an adequate supply of these trained personnel to assure equitable provision of these services throughout the educational system. The report on standards and objectives for school libraries, from which I quoted earlier, recommends that all schools with an enrolment of more than 250 children need the services of a full time school librarian whose status and salary should be the same as the status and salary of other teachers with similar professional education, experience and responsibility. Larger schools should have additional assistants for library work. The report of Mrs Trask on libraries refers to an American high school with an enrolment of 1,800 students which had a total library staff of eleven. This staff was considered adequate to administer a library consisting of 19,000 books and substantial stocks of tapes, records, films, slides, pamphlets and periodicals. This is the sort of requirement that should be the ultimate goal of a library in an Australian school of equivalent size.
At the moment there is no possibility of meeting even the minimum requirements for trained school librarians. The training of teachers in short crash courses of librarianship does not fulfil this function. The recommendations of the Library Association of Australia show that the minimum period necessary for the training of a school librarian is 2 years. Yet the Minister talks about crash training courses for librarians. What does he mean? Once again the Opposition contends that the Government approaches this problem with the wrong point of view. The Government is quite prepared to give some assistance for libraries, for the basic stocks of materials, equipment and the other necessary adjuncts of libraries, but it almost completely ignores the need for trained librarians.
The training of teachers in the sort of programme envisaged by the Minister will not fulfil the requirements of schools which may be fortunate enough to attract the subsidy that the Government intends to provide for the erection of libraries and for associated equipment. The training of teachers in short crash courses can be useful only as a means of familiarising teachers with library techniques and giving them an insight into the integration of classroom and library in the learning process. Crash programmes can do no more than that and even the Minister for Education and Science should be willing to concede this. I have already admitted that previous ad hoc legislation introduced by the Government has resulted in some magnificent science blocks being constructed in the various States.
– Hear, hear!
– The honourable member for Griffith would agree, I am sure, that while some improvement has been effected at this level many schools have found it difficult to attract a subsidy or would not be able to use a subsidy if it were made available because of the lack of trained science teachers. Science equipment of a very high standard is also necessary. But science blocks and equipment are not of any advantage without trained specialist teachers. There are already grave fears among educators in this country that high schools will not be able to obtain trained staff for increased library facilities. The Government has failed completely to provide the requisite support facilities with an immensely expanded scholarship and bursary scheme for the training of teacher librarians.
The third major deficiency in the legislation is the failure to provide for priority according to need in the administration of the grants scheme. It is an unfortunate fact that schemes such as this have an inbuilt bias towards schools that are already well endowed. There is nothing sinister in this and it is not a criticism of the wealthier schools. But it is a fact of life that the schools most able to take advantage of a grants scheme of this nature are those which can afford to sustain additional building programmes and recruit and pay additional qualified staff. It is probable that schools which by Australian standards already possess excellent library facilities are the most favourably geared to gain maximum benefit from the scheme. Such schools will have no difficulty in meeting the standards of the advisory committee and will benefit by the provision of additional facilities under this legislation.
This tendency is intensified by the policy of the Government of allocating in advance total grants to broad school areas. In effect, the Government has allocated - ‘indeed, if I might use another term, it has slotted in - sums of money in each State for government schools, for Roman Catholic schools and for other independent schools. These allocations are made mandatory even before any rudimentary examination is made of requirements. This is the wrong way to approach a grants scheme of this kind. If so much money is allocated to a broad category, it is certain that this amount of money will be spent only in this category, whatever the extent of the need. This is an extremely inflexible and inequitable approach.
The -Opposition believes that the Government first should have stated its standards and then surveyed all Australian schools in relation to these standards. It would have been possible then to draw up a priority list of schools in accordance with the broad principle that schools in greatest need should have the first grants. The Government should have proceeded with the objective of giving all children equal access to library facilities. This would eliminate any possibility of grants going where they are not required urgently. The very grave danger exists under the legislation as it now stands that grants will be directed away from areas where they are needed urgently.
During the Committee stage, the Opposition will move an amendment designed to write into the Act the principles of priority according to need and equal access for all children. We object to the policy of prescribing in advance how the money is to be directed to broad educational areas. It seems also that in many areas of genuine need schools will not be able to take advantage of the grants. The Federal Catholic Schools Committee has said that many Catholic secondary schools would be unable to take advantage of the grants scheme because they would not meet the cost of paying a qualified librarian. It seems that other independent schools will be inhibited by similar cost fears. Also, many government high schools will not be anxious to undertake the burden of expanded library facilities without trained library staff.
The Opposition also will move another amendment designed to provide to Parliament detailed annual reports by the Minister for Education and Science on the operation of the scheme. It is intended that these reports should set out payments authorised during the year and specify schools receiving payments and the amount of the payments. The Minister also will be required by this amendment to state the principles upon which these grants were made and the manner in which the principles were applied during the year. With the legislation relating to science blocks, this information was not made available. The Government claimed that the reports of the advisory committees should not be made public because the committees were composed of private individuals acting purely in an advisory capacity and without statutory recognition. There is some merit in this claim. But the Opposition believes that there is a much greater duty of maximum disclosure of all information relevant to the operation of this Act. Accordingly, we will move this amendment for the presentation of annual reports by the Minister.
Mr Speaker, in summary the Opposition accepts that an urgent need exists for a major extension of libraries and resource material for libraries. However, this Bill is completely inadequate to achieve these objectives. It needs substantial redrafting to provide libraries in primary schools and for further grants for the replacement of material. Most importantly, it needs the support of a substantial expansion in scholarships for trained teacher librarians who are essential to its proper implementation. The purpose of the Opposition’s amendments will be to extend the scope of the Bill to make it a meaningful onslaught on inadequacies of library facilities at all levels of education. In addition, we want to ensure that its provisions apply equitably to every school and to every child in the Commonwealth.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment. I reserve my right to speak at a later stage.
- Mr Speaker, the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill 1968 is before this House as the result of a proposition put forward by the Government in its Budget proposals this year that $27m will be made available over 3 years for approved capital projects for the development of secondary school libraries through States grants. This money will be allocated at the rate of $9m per annum from the period commencing 1st January 1969. In his second reading speech, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made this specific point:
Grants will be available for the erection, alteration or extension of library buildings, together with the provision of furniture, equipment and the basic stock of books and instructional materials for a secondary school library.
Later in his speech, the Minister specifically denned the secondary school libraries which will come within the provisions of this Bill. This definition will enable the incorporation of a number of schools which generally would not be accepted in the ordinary context of everyday education as secondary schools.
Putting aside for the time being the second reading speech delivered by the Minister, I advert now to the amendment that has been put forward for the Opposition by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard). I invite the attention of the House and those listening to this debate to- observe what has gone on here this afternoon on the question of education. I submit that the actions of Her
Majesty’s Opposition on this question represent a political stunt of the first order. Prior to this debate an earlier debate dealt with the States Grants (Pre-school Teachers Colleges) Bill. I direct the attention of honourable members to the substance of what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition put forward by way of the amendment that he has moved to the second reading of this Bill. He makes specific points about the Bill and says that it:
If this matter is so close to the Opposition’s heart that it feels that this legislation falls short of what is required, what was wrong with putting forward this amendment when the States Grants (Pre-school Teachers Colleges) Bill was before the House earlier this afternoon? No suggestion was then made that the legislation either did not measure up to, or had failed to attack, the crisis in education in this country. Why was this amendment not put forward when the earlier legislation was before us? In other words, why was it not presented at the first available opportunity, since the Opposition has so often propounded that view to the people engaged in education in Australia?
I submit that the proposing of this amendment by the Opposition is nothing but political stunting. It is an effort to avoid complications that have arisen in connection with the Opposition’s attitude towards assistance to independent schools. Honourable members opposite have deliberately used this legislation to cloud their real opposition to assistance to independent schools. There is no doubt in my mind that they have indulged in political stunting and manoeuvring to hide the inherent rift within their ranks on this subject. I will listen with very keen interest to the opinions of honourable members opposite who speak later in this debate.
Let me say, firstly, that this is a piece programme which this Government commenced as far back as the early 1960s in an endeavour to give to all children in Australia reasonable access to a good education. We did this in a variety of ways which may be dealt with later on. The amendment condemns the legislation for three reasons, but it is obvious that the real purpose of the Opposition is to transfer the whole substance of the Bill to its own convenient political platform. This attempt will fail. The falsity of the Opposition’s approach must be obvious to every person who is conscious of education needs and where responsibility for education lies. It will be recognised particularly by .those people who choose to have their children educated in independent schools.
The Bill certainly is not, as the amendment puts it, ‘symptomatic of the Government’s unplanned, piecemeal approach to the development of educational facilities in Australia’. It is part of the plan of the Government to render assistance in education, as it has been doing over a period of time. This is just one more step towards the fulfilment of the Government’s plan. Then the amendment says that the Bill is inadequate because it ‘fails to provide for an inquiry into all aspects of education, at all levels, in both government and nongovernment schools’. Just how politically feeble can the Opposition become? It uses the vehicle of this legislation to bring forward again the famous gimmick that it has peddled over a number of years. Again I ask - and perhaps the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) will use the first available opportunity, when he follows me in this debate, to enlighten us - why the Opposition did not propose an amendment of this kind during the debate on the Bill that we have just disposed of, the States Grants (Pre-School Teachers Colleges) Bill. It would have been more honest if it had done so. I ask the honourable member to deny that this is just a slippery gimmick used in an endeavour to avoid facing the issue of assistance to independent schools.
In the second part of the amendment, the Opposition comes in very quietly with this proposition:
Therefore the House resolves that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted -
to provide for the extension of the grants for libraries and library material and equipment to primary schools.
This is a pretty poor sort of a proposition, but at least the Opposition begrudgingly concedes that the provision for libraries is there. In fact it would not dare to oppose it. But then the amendment goes on:
This has been dealt with by the Government in separate legislation. A former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, made specific statements about this when he delivered a statement to the House on the Martin report. Subsequently the Government addressed itself to the question of teacher training and provided again for assistance for independent schools. It made generous grants last year for teacher training on the understanding that independent schools could avail themselves of 10% of the teachers trained with the assistance of those grants.
If I might digress for a moment, it is worth noting that despite all we hear about the shortage of Commonwealth funds for teacher training, one of the principal States, New South Wales, has not yet used up the money that was made available to it for the provision of facilities for teacher training. The propoisition in paragraph (2) of the amendment, which I have just read, is more than adequately answered by the fact that in 1967 this Government introduced legislation providing for assistance for teacher training. The amendment concludes:
On this point the Minister went out of his way to emphasise that a central committee would be set up. Indeed, it has already met. He has also said that committee will be established in the various States to assist him in the proper allocation of these funds.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has recognised that the science laboratories scheme was successful. Indeed he said he had observed outstanding examples of science laboratories constructed as a result of the relevant legislation. In this Bill we are following the principles that were laid down in the science laboratories legislation. Yet the honourable member claims that the libraries scheme will not be successful. I think he used words like these: ‘There is a great danger that the persons who most need this training will not receive it’. The record shows, of course, that this has not happened with the science laboratories scheme. Let me remind the House that although the honourable gentleman has acknowledged the success of the science laboratories legislation, he is a member of the Party which opposed it and which in fact has opposed all legislation of this kind with the exception of that concerned with teacher training. And, of course, its failure to oppose that legislation was a little bit of discreet politics.
Let me direct the attention of the House to some comments in the Minister’s second reading speech which apparently the Opposition has decided to ignore or at least has failed to notice. The Minister said:
Honourable members will recall from my earlier statement that schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory will also receive assistance with library facilities, but that the needs of these schools will be met outside the $27m programme.
The Minister indicated quite clearly that these other areas in Australia will be catered for and will not be overlooked. He went on to answer the Opposition’s amendment in advance, if I may put it that way, by saying:
The method of allocating amounts is first to divide the total available in proportion to the Commonwealth Statistician’s total numbers of secondary school pupils enrolled in government schools and in independent schools respectively throughout all six States, as at August 1967. The two figures thus arrived at are then divided separately among States in proportion to the populations of the States as reported by the Statistician as at 30th June 1967. The resulting nongovernment school allocation for each State is then divided between Roman Catholic and other nongovernment secondary schools in accordance with the respective enrolments in these schools.
Then he submitted a table in which the allocations in the various States as between government and non-government schools were given. The total grant for government schools amounts to $6,688,000. Of the nongovernment schools allocation, schools other than Roman Catholic will receive $760,400. while Roman Catholic schools will receive in all $1,551,600. That makes a total of $9m per annum. This assistance will be repeated each year for 3 years. The expenditure will be supervised by the committees to which I have referred. From advice which I have received from the Minister in recent days, the major committee has already met.
One cannot escape the obvious fact that the amendment moved by the Opposition is another political stunt to try to sidetrack and to cover up its opposition to providing aid to independent schools. We well remember the haggling that went on in its ranks when the question of providing aid to independent schools was first raised. It was only by some quirk of organisation at the Labor Party’s conference at Surfers Paradise 2 years ago that the Party, by a very marginal vote, came out in favour of providing assistance to independent schools. But we all know down here in Canberra, where we are close to the subject, that there is still some extreme, strong resistance by the powerful hierarchy of the Labor Party to the provision of any sort of aid to independent schools. We on this side of the House reject the amendment. We believe that the measure we have before us is specific legislation. It is a part of a programme of providing assistance to the independent schools system. For that reason we will press on with this forthright effort.
As I said earlier, the Opposition’s amendment is simply a gimmick to make the question fit its own hackneyed political arguments. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) made an amazing statement. He referred to the legislation as being part of a slick formula to transfer fund’s to another area of education. I am sure that independent schools, particularly Roman Catholic schools, will be delighted to note the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s reference to the legislation that is before the House. As I indicated earlier, we on this side of the House are not ashamed of our record in providing assistance in the education field, particularly assistance to independent schools. In recent times I have received a substantial number of representations from a number of people who believe that greater assistance should be given to independent schools. The representations have been made to me in the main with great courtesy. Most of the people making them have recognised the leadership which we have given in providing assistance to independent schools.
One of the disappointing features about the representations which I have received from people connected with independent schools, particularly from our Catholic friends, is that they are tending to accuse the Government of political gimmickry in introducing legislation of the type which is presently before us and in relation to the amount of assistance that we are providing in the education field. Not only do I reject this proposition that has been put forward by people connected with the Roman Catholic sector of education, but I have an inclination to resent the proposition. As I said earlier, we on this side of the House have nothing to be ashamed of, firstly, in the leadership that has been given in taking independent schools, particularly Roman Catholic schools, out of the wilderness in which they found themselves over a long period - almost 100 years. People who have been associated with this aspect of education well know the work that has been done in this field. I hasten to say - and I believe that this is the attitude of my Party - that we do not regard the assistance that has been provided in this field as being anywhere near complete. In fact, I believe that we might be at the stage when we ought to be taking stock of what has been done in this regard and looking at what we will do in the future.
The first assistance which was given to independent schools in the early 1960s was the provision of finance to help meet the interest payments on money borrowed to construct schools. At a later stage assistance was given to help independent schools in respect of the non-repayment of capital amounts. Then there was the introduction of the much lauded assistance to science laboratories scheme, and subsequently there was assistance in training independent school teachers at teacher training colleges. I think this has been a process of evolutionary change. There has been a change in the attitude of the community. We might be at the stage when we should have a stocktaking to ascertain the community’s attitude towards providing assistance to independent schools.
There are two points of view which might be aired in this debate. First, I firmly believe that the depth of bigotry, if I can describe it as such, has lessened considerably in the community - a mellowing. If I belonged to the smaller sector of education I would not hasten to believe that the old attitude has been completely eliminated. I draw the attention of the independent school sector to this facet: When this type of psychology has been deeply ingrained in people over decades, even centuries, it takes a time before they can appreciate the need for change and orientate with the times, with the enlightened years. I believe that in the period since the early 1960s an evolution has occurred in this psychology within the community. So I say again, it could well be that now is the time we should take stock as to where we go from here in providing assistance to independent schools.
The legislation before the House deals specifically with the provision of libraries in secondary schools, but understandably the legislation is there to render assistance across the board to each and every child, according to the arrangements within the educational system itself. We all know that it is there also to assist independent schools. One of the important factors in any expense account of a Commonwealth department, a State department or a statutory authority is labour cost. In this regard the education system is no different from any other system. In fact, in studying some of the expenses of the New South Wales Department of Education in recent weeks, when I was addressing myself to the subject of CommonwealthState financial relationships, I noted that of every $1 that is spent in the education field in New South Wales 70c to 75c goes towards the payment of teachers’ salaries. That example shows that labour is a major cost for administrators in the education field. Just as it is a major expense for the State and Federal education administrations, so it is for the independent schools. The time might be overdue when we should address ourselves, not only at the Federal level but also at the State level, to the question whether we should provide a percentage of teachers’ salaries, particularly salaries of lay teachers in independent schools. I would certainly commend this suggestion to the Government and to the Minister for early consideration as one of the many requirements in the educational field. There are many other requirements in the education field, but I believe that the payment of teachers’ salaries is a matter which has bedevilled independent schools more than government schools. This is not novel. As I said earlier, the question of the rapidity of occurrence and the amount of wage increases, with the accompanying lack of associated productivity, has bedevilled our whole economy.
I reject the amendment moved by the Opposition, and I believe that all thinking people associated with the type of education which is covered by this legislation will support the Government in rejecting the amendment. I also believe that they will support the Government in stating that the position is just the reverse to what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated it was when he said that this legislation is a slick move by the Government to avoid the issue of providing assistance in the education field. The whole answer to anybody who queries the sincerity of the Government in this regard can be found in a statement which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made earlier in which he admitted the success of the science blocks legislation.
Five years after that legislation was introduced he admits its success, but he and other members of the Opposition vehemently attacked it when it was put forward by this Government in 1964.
– As my colleague, the honourable member for Griffith says, it was dreadful to listen to them in those days. Yet here today they have the effrontery to rise and say that it was the correct thing to do, that it has been successful. In the very next breath they condemn similar legislation which is designed to help all secondary school students in the whole field of education, including those in the independent field. I reject the amendment but support the Bill.
– The honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) might be all right against dragons, though really they are extinct. But he is not too hot on education, which is the subject before the House. He accused the Opposition of bringing forward the amendment as a political stunt. He wanted to know what was the difference between this legislation and the earlier legislation.
– Why did the Opposition not move an amendment when we were dealing with the States Grants (Pre-school Teachers Colleges) Bill?
– We have been moving amendments for a long while. If the honourable member had been in here earlier when I-
– I was here.
– Apparently the honourable member did not listen when I read out what the Opposition said 10 years ago and what this Government’s former leader said.
– There is no need to read it again.
– The honourable member is trying to provoke me. At that time the then Prime Minister, now Sir Robert Menzies, said:
I did not understand him to say - though, it has been said by some others - that the Commonwealth ought to provide large additional sums for the States and ‘ earmark them for education. If he has that in his mind, I just want to warn him, in a friendly way, from my own considerable experience of these matters, that the States will not thank him for it.
That is exactly what we are doing today. We are directing large sums of money to the States. We are earmarking them for education and are telling the States exactly what they must do. Honourable members opposite are slow learners. It took them a long while to wake up to this. The honourable member for St George has suddenly become obsessed with independent schools. He said: We must do something about the children in independent schools’. His heart has been bleeding for them for years! In fact it was only after 1961, when they suddenly found they had to do something about the support of the Democratic Labor Party, that they discovered this was a pressing need. The honourable member and his Party do not give a darn about what goes on in the schools. They only care about what goes into the ballot boxes. Government members talk about political stunts and political gimmickry, but the facts of history are there for all to see.
The Government asks: ‘Why did not you move a similar amendment when we were debating the previous Bill?’ The answer is simple enough. The previous legislation specifically dealt with pre-school teachers colleges, but libraries are associated with the whole field of education. We chose the debate on the Bill now before us as the most appropriate occasion on which to move the amendment. We now have an opportunity to bring before the Parliament and the people of Australia exactly what the situation is. I propose to do that. What the honourable member for St George failed to do was to make a speech of his own. The Minister’s speech was not so good that each phrase needed to be repeated six or seven times. Let us get to the base of the problem. It might be worth while seeing what are the problems in libraries in Australian schools. We have been examining this for a long while. In 1935 Ralph Munn and Ernest Pitt reported as follows on school libraries in Australia:
The use of the school library as an essential factor in educational method is rarely met with in Australian schools.
In 1955 R. Freeman Butts, in his book Assumptions underlying Australian Education’, said:
The most curious attitude of all has to do with libraries and the use of books.
He pointed out the deficiencies flowing from the fact that libraries are left to the parents for support. He went on:
This means that libraries are often at the mercy of headmasters and parents who take more pride in sports ovals than in library books.
In 1965 Maurice Tauber reported on the resources of Australian libraries. He said:
The procedure by which the States require parents and citizens’ groups to match funds for the purchase of books for school libraries has not resulted in the building up of satisfactory collections. . . . There are few good school libraries, either public or private, in any of the States, despite the progress made during the last twenty-five years.
In a report to the Children’s Libraries Section of the Library Association of Australia in July 1965, Professor Sara Fenwick said:
There are many schools with excellent collections but to characterise the majority of school libraries is to speak of a poverty of library resources.
In a booklet entitled ‘School Libraries - A Report to the Nation’, Margaret Trask said:
What is wrong with our present school libararies? In the main, three things: a lack of adequate financial provision; a lack of adequately educated and trained school libraries and supporting staff, and a lack of understanding on the part of the teacher of the place of the library in the school curriculum.
The view put forward by Margaret Trask is supported by the comment of Mr Ernest Roe in his recently published book Teachers, Librarians and Children’, when he said:
Some of the salient features of teachers’ attitudes to the role of libraries in education were outlined. . . . ‘Most when challenged were prepared to assert, or to admit, the theoretical importance of libraries;-
A bit like the honourable member for St George - but very few translated or even attempted to translate theory into practice; most common reasons were their devotion to preparing children for examinations and consequent lack of time to use libraries in their teaching, with, in many subjects, the study of set texts claiming a high priority;
The deficiencies of the Australian school library system are pretty apparent to anyone who cares to look. What we have to ask about any legislation before this House is whether it goes to the root of the problem. We believe this legislation does not.
What are the components of a library system? They are, firstly, the buildings; secondly, the staff; and thirdly, the books. One of the interesting things is the tendency to devote most of our efforts to bricks and mortar. We put up a building. I know that is not essential under this legislation. The tendency, as I said, has been to go for bricks and mortar so we can have an opening day and so that the Federal member may hand over a cheque from the parental Commonwealth Government. But where are the books? Buildings can be a trap. The Carnegie Trust found this to be so in Britain in the 1920s. Libraries were put up all over the place, but there were no books to go in them. That is only a very superficial approach to the problem. In my view the approach by the Commonwealth probably could be sowing seeds of trouble in the library system. Will it end up in bricks and mortar?
A trained librarian is an essential component of a school library. This is a highly specialised field. There is a shortage of teachers in most fields of education throughout Australia, from the universities down to pre-schools. So it is logical enough to believe that there is a shortage of trained school librarians. By the time a person has been trained in both education and librarianship he has made a long haul. There has been very little total approach to the shortage of trained librarians. The Melbourne Teachers College has a course which includes librarianship, but it is about the only one in Australia. Generally speaking, library qualifications have to be acquired at some personal expense, or perhaps by some fluke a person, after qualifying to be a teacher, undertakes a librarian’s course. I think that most professional comment on the matter is to the effect that the first attack upon the library system ought to be to supply trained librarians. This is not easy for the Commonwealth. We realise that. We on this side of the House launched the campaign for a Commonwealth commitment to education. It would be presumptuous for us to say that we launched it as a national exercise. I taught in Victoria for many years. Some of my colleagues, including the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard) and my friend the former member for Barton, Mr Reynolds, were also in the teaching service. Therefore, it was logical that we brought this matter before the House. But other areas of activity in the community raised it before we ever came into this place. I think unless the Commonwealth is prepared to attack the problem of librarianship in schools, it will, not exactly pour our money down the drain, but get less than value for our money. Librarianship and teaching have to be married in some way so that the teacher who is a librarian has a career position. What is the position at the moment? A teacher who is a librarian, when it comes to promotion, must go off either to teach or concentrate on librarianship. There are very few areas in which teacher-librarians can move up into the higher echelons of the teaching services. Until this problem is attacked there will be no proper approach on the whole to the question of librarians in Australian schools.
There is plenty of evidence to show that the results of the expenditure, whether we get value for $27m or not, will depend on the type of training given to the teachers and librarians. One of the great problems, of course, will be the resources to spend money successfully. The honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) has mentioned the question of the committees that will be established. Will these committees be satisfactorily responsible to both the Government and to the schools? I think in the case of some independent schools we could say that this is probably not the case. We therefore challenge the basis upon which this grant has been made. It is part of the patchwork that has been built up around Commonwealth assistance to education. There is no doubt that libraries are a field in which money should be spent, just as there is no doubt that pre-school centres are places where money should be spent. But what are we to do to get general standards accepted? Standards for school libraries have been laid down in the recent publication of the Libraries Association. I only wish we had standards like this for every area of education in Australia on which we could all work. What is involved if we try to adopt these standards? The publication says that schools with over 250 pupils ought to have one teacher-librarian. Therefore the ratio is 1 teacher for every 250 pupils. If you applied this standard to high schools around the Melbourne metropolitan area which range in size from 800 to 1,100 students - and I presume this is the situation in other cities - there would be 2 to 3 trained teacher-librarians to every school. I do not know how many schools would be involved around Australia. But in Victoria, I think, there are about 170 to 180 schools that cater for about 800 to 1,000 students. So, according to this standard, we need 350 to 400 teacher-librarians in Victoria. I think we would be fortunate if the number of tecahers with these qualifications and competence would reach double figures. So this is the first task that we have to face. Everyone has to see that there is satisfactory expenditure on school libraries.
The honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) mentioned the aim of having equality for all Australians. Of course, this Bill will not go anywhere near that. It does not even tackle the problem in that regard. I think that in respect of the independent schools it will be the best endowed schools or the best managed schools that will obtain the largest grants. I think it is a fair comment to say, in regard to the science blocks, that this is what happened. This will happen again. Are we endowing inequalities? Are we tackling the areas of the greatest need? We should be spending on libraries about S3 per student per annum. What are we spending? Some schools in Canberra approach somewhere near this expenditure. I presume that 1 or 2 of the better endowed State secondary schools in Australia might approach this standard. I have no doubt that a number, but not all independent schools or private schools - call them what you will - are in this area. But of the 10,000 schools in Australia, how many have adequate library facilities? How many of them will get into this area of activity? The total of schools in Australia is made up of 7,800 government schools and 2,194 non-government schools. Of course, we placed before the House a proposition that primary schools should be considered as well. The problems that have been created in Australian schools by the fact that it is the funding of parent effort which has created libraries means that the libraries are the proprietary interest of the headmasters in many areas with a bit of parent support. School libraries are usually a collection of books rather than a library.
It is not easy to solve this problem. But one place in which we can probably solve the problem is Canberra itself. This is one area where we have absolute authority over schools and where this authority can be concentrated into an accessible area. As far as I can tell there is a large area of competent teaching staff in Canberra. Also, there seems to be a fair area of very competent administrative staff available, with a parent relationship behind it that is probably substantially greater, or more effective, than in most areas in Australia. This would seem to me to be an area in which we could attack the whole problem of libraries on a regional basis.
I have no fixed opinion to express about this because I do not know whether there has been enough study carried out. But would a centralised library service, based on regions that cover both public library systems and school systems, be better, more economic, and give us more value for our money than the present system of endowing schools that will set up their own independent libraries and do their purchasing mostly with non-professional advice. In remote areas some of them are the victims of the bookselling trade. There is a large area of profit developing in educational book publishing. This is something to which we ought to turn our attention.
I believe there would be great economy in the establishment of centralised bibliographical services. Of course, we would have to avoid the centralisation of the system into the State capitals as such. But it seems to me if the Commonwealth is to stop in the school field, and with the experience of Canberra at its disposal - in fact Canberra as an area could be used for experimental purposes - it could well set up a centralised system of library services for schools and so relieve parents and the schools of the necessity to build up libraries. There is no doubt that the present system imposes a heavy burden on a school itself. It creates substantial inequalities between schools and, of course, new schools suffer. A child who turns up at a new school needs a library service just as much as the child who turns up at a school that has been in existence for 20 or 30 years.
We may do better in this field if we gave establishment grants to the States for all new schools regardless of who runs them or where they are. From my own experience in the education system both as a parent, a member of an advisory council at a school and as a teacher I know that the establishment of a library is difficult and has become well nigh impossible in many parts of Australia.
The honourable member for St George was rather critical, I gathered, of the amendment that was moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. We feel that this is an opportunity to place before the Parliament a consideration of some of the areas of crisis, as we call them, in Australian education. Of course there are areas of crisis in Australian education. The universities are overcrowded to such an extent that quotas are being applied over wide fields and thousands of students who qualify for admission to universities are excluded from them. There are hundreds of untrained teachers in Australian schools. This is particularly so in secondary schools, and as I know, particularly in Victoria. Also, there is a great wastage of women’s talent in Australian education. One has only to consider the number of women in universities compared with the number of men and realise the basic inequalities between them intellectually and in economic status and everything else to see the tremendous wastage of natural talent. 1 think there are about 40,000 to 50,000 more young men in Australian universities than there are young women. Also, a lot of Australia’s education is carried out in dreadful buildings. Of the 10,000 schools in Australia, of which some 7,800 are government schools, how many are adequate in all respects? How many are the kind of workshops in which we want to raise a new generation?
I represent an industrial area in Melbourne and I imagine that industrial areas of one major capital city are not much different from the industrial areas of another major capital city. Many of the schools in them are only fit to be torn down and rebuilt again. In every respect they are inadequate except in respect of the quality of the people inside them. Their grounds are inadequate. They do not have many acres. Coburg High School has about 2 acres of asphalt upon which buildings stand. There is less than 1 square yard of school ground for each student. The situation at Malvern High School is not much better. Brunswick Technical School is even worse off. One might say that these schools are home for many hours of the day to many thousands of young Australians. Here is an area that should be attacked with great vigour. Young Australians should be able to enjoy a reasonable school environment.
On other occasions we have referred to the conservative nature of the Australian curriculum. Those of us who care about schools and who take a good look at them are conscious of this fact. If we want to do something special about the Australian school system we might take special steps to support the State education systems in respect of migrant education. The average Greek or Italian child who arrives in Australia is uphill from the word go and the teacher at the school which these children attend is even more badly off. I think that our criticism that the Government’s approach to these matters is unplanned is fair enough. The Government gives a lot for universities, a little for pre-schools, a fair amount for libraries and a good deal for science blocks, but where does it all add up to an integrated attitude towards education? Is it not true that the assistance for science blocks was a political gimmick - an effort to get a particular group in Australia to give its second preference votes to the Government’s candidates? That is fair criticism. The history of Australian education and the position of non-State schools in the Australian education system are well enough known for everybody to realise that the Government’s policy in respect of science blocks was a political gimmick.
We believe that the essential principle should be that of need. Will the money to be provided under this legislation go to the schools in greatest need? Will it go to the areas of greatest need? The areas of greatest need are probably many industrial areas and remote country areas in Australia. The average Australian country place is short of literature. The average Australian country school is short of books. The average Australian country home is short of books. People in country areas have less access to public libraries than do city dwellers. It is probably true that the Catholic parochial schools are in an area of great need. What we need is an overall approach. Australian education is largely conservative. The general authoritarian nature of Australian education is exemplified by the position of a young man at Melbourne High School - one of Melbourne’s most distinguished schools - who was expelled for running an underground newspaper. What a frightful thing to do in Australian society! He may have written subversive things - I do not know. In a community that has never had any traitors, that has always been homogeneous and loyal and is very permissive - almost submissive to authority - why should we worry about somebody issuing some newspaper? One would have thought that the creative mind behind the effort was something to be encouraged.
– Does the honourable member also oppose the headmaster of Melbourne High School?
– First of all I oppose the expulsion of anybody from an Australian school unless it is for some serious moral aberration that would affect other people. The instance to which I refer is a fundamental transgression upon civil liberties. If the headmaster cannot solve that kind of thing he should take a good look at himself. In one way or another I have spent a long time in Australian education. I do not know how the literature in question was prepared - whether it was printed or duplicated. But to expel somebody for publishing a leaflet or a pamphlet seems to be a childish aberration. If I could not handle that situation in a school in which I was teaching I would take long service leave. In this place we put up with the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), who is interjecting. Why then should we expel somebody from Melbourne High School? Then there is the incident in Brisbane. What dreadful people! They have been putting out leaflets in a community that accepts the most frightful things on television. Just look at the kinds of newspapers on sale, such as ‘Truth’. No attempt is made to stop their publication. No attempt is made to restrict what is shown on television. But when something happens in a school you try to isolate the school from the community. I do not know what I would do if I found young people doing these things in a school for which I was responsible, but I would not expel them. A solution must be found to these problems. A school is a part of life and there should be no transgression on the civil liberties of people. I bear no great grudge towards the headmaster of Melbourne High School but it is a fact that the Australian education system is authoritarian to the point of being dictatorial. There is a kind of infinite subordination from the director through to the most recently appointed teacher. This does not exemplify the Australian society.
– You can pick a school teacher anywhere.
– The honourable member is indefinable, so he is safe. The Australian school must carry some of the nature of Australian society with it. If we believe in a democratic, free wheeling, free moving society, we have to introduce some of these things into the school and put up with them. Because of school architecture and the general structure of the curriculum it is very difficult for the Australian school to meet these problems.
The honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) raised the matter of aid to non-State schools. Towards the end of his speech he was getting a little testy. I thought he would be in danger of losing some of the votes of the advocates of State aid if he was not careful. There are in Australia about 2,000 schools conducted by nonState authorities of various kinds. Those schools represent about 25% of the Aus.tralian school system. I imagine that the cost of running those schools amounts to as much as $200m a year. We have stepped onto the slippery path of helping non-state schools by contributing a little here and a little there. We will eventually take full responsibility for aiding them financially without their accepting any counter responsibilities. We must face the problem of accountability and responsibility. Hardly a non-State school in Australia accepts the full public responsibility that is accepted by State schools. You roll up to your local State school; you have arrived in the area with five or six children. You go to the door of the school and no matter how full it is, the teacher takes your children. But suppose you do not want your children to go to the State school. In that case you go to the local parish school or grammar school and say: ‘Here I am. You have just had a science block erected from public funds. I want my children enrolled.’ But the school says: ‘Sorry, we’re full*. There is a fundamental difference between the responsibility accepted for the community by the non-State school and that accepted by the State school. This is something that should be examined. Before we start to pour great sums of public money into non-State schools we should see that they are prepared to accept the responsibilities accepted by State schools. I know of one school in Melbourne - a very delightful school - that applies a religious test to prospective pupils. Many non-State schools have a financial test and many have a test of numbers. Good enough: It is a sound educational system but it is completely different from the State system.
Then there is the matter of accountability. Of this sum of $27m which we are providing, $8m or $9m will go to the nonState system. How will these grants be handled? I am chairman of a high school advisory council in ‘Victoria. Every penny that we handle is examined and accounted for publicity. Again we find a fundamental difference between the State system and the non-State system. It it not a question of sectarianism or anything else; it is a question of facing up to our ultimate responsibility. If we are to accept full responsibility for the non-State system, that is good enough for me, but we must say how grants are to be handled and we must see that the non-State system accepts the responsibilities that are accepted by the State system. After all, it costs between $200m and $300m a’ year to run the non-State system. We on this side are facing that fact, but my friends opposite will not face it. It is fair criticism of the Government’s education policy to say that it is based on political expediency. I do not think this attitude is justified. Before we go too far - before we create two contradictory systems and find ourselves so deeply in the political area and educational area that we cannot withdraw - we must lay down some fundamental principles under which non-State schools are to receive public moneys.
– Unlike the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) I plan to direct my remarks to the Bill before the House and to judge the legislation as it stands. It is a measure of very important significance and one which can go forward with its own reputation. Perhaps the Opposition is concerned at the initiative being shown by this Government, reflecting that it started with the Menzies Government when we went into the tertiary field and introduced the science laboratory grants. Now it is piqued because the Gorton Government has followed in this tradition and moved into the very important field of school libraries. Of course, there is a need for a continuing investigation of education. I wonder whether the Australian Labor Party, had it been in government, would have formed a ministry for education and science. What does it think this ministry is doing apart from investigating the problems that are facing education throughout the country?
Mr Speaker, there can be no denying that the provision for library services is, as the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has already stated, ‘an area of real need in Australian education’. It could well be called the Cinderella of educational activity because not only are effective libraries not provided at most primary and -secondary schools throughout the country -but they are at the bottom of the list as far as the general community is concerned when it discusses what facilities should be provided at schools. The Bill before the House has, therefore, a dual role: Firstly, to provide these essential facilities throughout the country and, secondly, to educate the general public as to the vital role a library should take in our educational systems, whether at primary, secondary or tertiary level. Professor Roe, of the Univesity of Papua and New Guinea, recently wrote:
With a number of honorable exceptions, school libraries have been of only marginal relevance to education in Australia.
He went on to say:
There should be the closest possible links between teachers, librarians and children in the process of education.
I agree with his forthright views and I sincerely hope that the funds being provided under this Bill will go a long way towards achieving this objective. The library must become the focal point of every school and must be regarded by teaching staff as the basis for all teaching programmes, not merely the source of certain books and pamphlets which are required from time to time. If we do not move away from the present system of concentration by educationalists - in fact, some people would call it an obsession- on end of year examinations and move into a system wherein students of all levels and interests will be encouraged to follow year round programmes of self-reliant, independent studies based on the best libraries with the most modern instructional materials, education in this country is going to grind to a meaningless mediocrity, devoid of enthusiasm, and without any continuing purpose or interest to students.
As has already been stated, there are notable exceptions, but to date those schools which have provided modern libraries which are used as an integral part of a school’s teaching programme generally owe such facilities to the foresight of an individual headmaster combined with a rather affluent group of parents. Of course, there have always been individual students who have shown personal enterprise in the use of public libraries and so have been in the position to gain all they could from their school days. I would hope that the committee which was set up by the Minister to advise on the conditions and standards necessary for the effective development of this library programme will bear in mind the restrictions that have been placed on many schools due to lack of funds in less affluent districts. I believe that one of the committee’s prime objectives should be to overcome the unbelievable gaps which have come about in library resources through lack of local funds. But how inadequate are the libraries of our secondary schools? It is never more clearly evident than to those who are privileged to go on to university studies - and there would be many in this Parliament who have shared this anguish of learning in their first year how to use the library facilities that are suddenly put at their disposal and which become the very basis of their tertiary studies. It was particularly difficult for those who undertook part time studies.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting we were discussing the subject of school libraries, and the Opposition had moved an amendment. It was seeking an inquiry into the field of general education. But as this Bill is about school libraries I believe the debate should be restricted to this subject. One important fact that the Opposition seems to have missed, however, is that the State Education Departments are the ones who will determine the priorities and allocations of funds under this Bill. The Minister has said - I think it is worth repeating - that the library services in our secondary schools are indeed a real area of need in Australian education. To date, library usage at secondary schools has been a major deficiency in Australia, and I congratulate the present Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and his predecessor for their foresight in implementing the legislation that is before the House.
But what has been the extent of money that has been spent on school libraries up to the present? In an excellent report published this year and entitled ‘School Libraries, a Report to the Nation’, Miss Margaret Trask of the University of New South Wales found that, on an average, 37c in government subsidy is spent per child per year on school libraries. She went on to claim that when the State government subsidy was of the order of $1 for $1 then on average one-third of a book per child was purchased per year. I have no way of proving or disproving the accuracy of Miss Trask’s statistics, but from my own general experience I would say that she would be very close to the mark. What an incredible situation it is, especially when this experienced librarian maintains that schools with fewer than 200 pupils should have 20 books per pupil and that schools with more than 200 pupils should build up to a minimum stock of some 6,000 to 10,000 books within 10 years of starting a library. The gap is obvious. Government action had to come and this House should be pleased that action is coming.
There can be no doubt that a big market is about to develop for books and one can only assume that a large proportion of the $9m annual grant to be made under this new legislation will be spent on books and that a high proportion of this business will go to Australian book manufacturers, who have been having a torrid time of it lately. I do not intend to push their case at this time, but I assume that the Library Committee will be aware of the need to encourage local publishers as well as local writers.
The extent of State governmental participation in library subsidy schemes should be mentioned in this debate. In all States, excepting New South Wales, the government subsidy is $1 for $1. In New South Wales the subsidy is $1 for every $2 spent, and this is where we find the importance of local fund raising. If the local parents and citizens associations or Service organisations provide no funds, then no funds are forthcoming from the Education Department. In New South Wales, despite the amount that may be raised by local effort, there is a ceiling of 60c per pupil in secondary schools, though beyond this amount the subsidy is at the rate of 80c for each $2 spent. All States vary in the upper limit of subsidies and no doubt the McKenzie Library Committee will have its own share of difficulties in working out the equity between States when it comes to upper limits, if any, that are to be made to individual school grants.
I have already mentioned the disparity between schools and, more especially, between districts according to their level of wealth when it comes to providing school libraries, and though I want these differentials to disappear I would hope that parents and citizens associations, parents and friends associations, and Service organisations will continue to maintain their interest in providing facilities for school libraries. For example, in my own electorate, the Miranda sub-branch of the Returned Service League has instituted a very worthwhile scheme whereby books and not floral wreaths are placed as tributes to the fallen on Anzac Day. This is a noble and practical tribute to the fallen and I commend its adoption to many more RSL sub-branches throughout Australia. Of course, such ideas do not, nor should they, ensure that minimum standards are being achieved in schools. Governments, whether State or Federal, must assume this responsibility, but such participation by these voluntary organisations means that community interest in seeing that adequate library facilities are provided is assured.
I am interested to see that in respect of government schools the State Education Departments will determine priorities and allocations and that the Commonwealth does not intend to exercise supervision over the States in this regard. I can only hope that the State Departments will have a change of basic policy regarding libraries and that they will proceed to ensure that libraries are an integral part of the education process from primary school level upwards. In this regard may I again quote from Miss Trask’s report and set out the seven objectives which Miss Trask put forward as being desirable, and which I hope will help the McKenzie Committee when it is establishing its guidelines. She said that a library should be a source of books and other materials which will support and enrich the teaching-learning programme in the school. She said that it should provide guidance for pupils and also, where necessary, for staff in the use of books and other materials for research purposes. She said it should provide facilities arising from research to encourage independent learning and self propelled study, both within the syllabus and beyond it. A school library should assist children to enjoy reading experiences, to read with discrimination and to make profitable use of their leisure time. It should encourage and assist teaching staff to teach through the library in accordance with the educational objectives already mentioned. It should help pupils to understand the school library as part of a much wider range of library services, and thus stimulate or prepare them to use other libraries. In conclusion she said that a school library should work towards an ideal in which it is no longer an aid or an adjunct or simply a service, with the secondary and rather passive role those terms imply, but a centre from which the educational activities of both teachers and children radiate - the heart of the school.
We heard the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), whose concern and interest in libraries is well known and well respected on both sides of the House, call for centralised libraries. Though there seems to be great merit in this idea I venture to say that he is looking at libraries in far too narrow a sense and is not looking at them as they should be - as a core of all our educational systems. I hope that the Minister will be in a position to expand his remarks about a small sum being allocated so that the Commonwealth will be able to co-operate with the State Education Departments and library authorities in making available a number of short specialist courses in librarianship for teachers. I would hope that his description of the amount as being small is relative and that in fact there will be sufficient funds to provide the necessary impetus, as there is a grave shortage of trained librarians, especially in New South Wales. In that State there are some 250 State secondary schools and it is thought that there are only 50 teachers who have studied the librarians diploma course, although a larger number have done the one week vocational course at teachers colleges. However, it is not an impressive number and the need for greater training in this field cannot be relegated down the list of priorities. What is the sense of spending $9m a year on libraries and equipment if there are no skilled people to manage them? Of course this must be the responsibility of State educational authorities but we should see to it that large sums are made available under this scheme which is before the House to aid urgent and necessary training programmes.
The Minister also made mention of the variety of instructional materials that can and should be used in secondary school libraries. Only 2 weeks ago 1 was privileged to open an exhibition in Sydney of such equipment. With the fast developing ‘programmed learning’ for all ages and, the equipment that would be required to be kept in libraries for language laboratories - film strips, disc recordings and transparencies, to mention but a few of the more obvious - it is clear that libraries will be moving into the space age much sooner than we think. It will not be just a matter of filing books, periodicals, newspapers, magazines, maps and the like. The changed system will demand highly trained specialist teachers and trained assistants as well. It is highly likely that teachers of the future will be more properly referred to as educational technologists. The core of this development will be the library and the expert librarians. Therefore this legislation takes on an especial significance and we cannot be tardy or tired in implementing the scheme.
Nobody on this side of the House would pretend that the Bill is the answer to educational problems or in fact the answer to all the problems surrounding secondary school libraries. But it is an important step and again I congratulate the Minister for not having been tempted into making firm rules at this stage. Rather he has opened the doors, appointed an expert advisory committee and brought forth a generous sum of money to implement this general scheme on a very fair school population basis. Like the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and the honourable member for Wills, I am disappointed that the scheme has not been extended to primary schools, but at least the Gorton Government has made a notable move in the right direction. If it proves successful in secondary schools we can rightly anticipate that it will be extended to primary schools at a later date. This is the least we can do at the Federal level. But just as the secondary school science facilities scheme proved not only popular but also highly successful1 in its purpose, so will the parents of children attending both government and non-government schools alike applaud this Bill and the Government that introduced it. I strongly support the Bill and oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) because it specifically stresses the inadequacies in the Commonwealth contribution to education in Australia. I listened attentively to the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman). As usual, he accused honourable members on this side of the House of bigotry towards nongovernment schools. Again he failed to comprehend his responsibility as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. Opposition members have repeatedly claimed that they have a responsibility and an obligation in matters that call for the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money. We believe that those who make such financial disbursements should account to the Parliament for them. I noted further during the honourable member’s speech that he made an assessment of the appropriation for education made by the New South Wales Government. He said that between 70c and 75c in the $1 was allotted to the payment of teachers’ salaries. I do not disagree with that assessment, but I do disagree with him on one. point. Honourable members on this side of the House believe that education authorities, including those in non-government schools, have an obligation to account to the Parliament for the expenditure of Government money and at the same time they have the right to bring to the notice of the Parliament the areas in education in which there is chaos.
The Bill before the House is another example of the Government’s intention to use the important subject of education to ensure electoral survival rather than an intention to correct the chaotic situation in the field of education. The Bill is almost identical in all respects with the Bill that provided grants for science blocks and was introduced by the Liberal Government just prior to the 1963 election. Honourable members on this side of the House said when that Bill was introduced that because of the haphazard, unplanned, piecemeal nature of the legislation it was a political gimmick introduced to ensure the Government’s survival at the 1963 election for the House of Representatives. This Bill is in the same category. It was introduced at a time when the political atmosphere indicated that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on behalf of his Government intended to hold an election for the House of Representatives this year. I know that the possibility of an early election has now disappeared. Nevertheless, when the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) introduced the Bill nearly all honourable members on both sides of the House were convinced that they would be engaged in an election campaign in their divisions this year.
Now let me comment briefly on the operations of the Government’s scheme of grants for science laboratories. This has many of the characteristics of the scheme to be implemented by the Bill that we are now discussing. Despite the self eulogy of the Minister in his second reading speech, the science blocks scheme has not provided the answer to the crisis in education in the areas of greatest need. We see today many elaborate and expensive science blocks, particularly at privileged colleges. But the students cannot obtain science instruction for no other reason than that qualified science teachers are not available. I know of an independent school in my own State that has availed, itself of the Government’s grant and built a costly science block. But it is not available to the students, because even if a science teacher were available the school could not afford to pay his salary. I can give other instances of schools that have advertised repeatedly for 6 months seeking competent staff without success.
– What school is that?
– St Dominic’s is one in the honourable member’s own State. We see the farce of schools being unable to give science instruction in the blocks they have built and having to use them instead as classrooms to alleviate the overcrowded conditions in the normal classrooms. But despite this, the Government has again introduced legislation knowing full well that the same mistakes will occur with the libraries scheme as have occurred with the science blocks scheme.
The Bill before the House is most notable for its brevity. It has five clauses, which are headed ‘Short title’, ‘Commencement’, Definitions’, ‘Grants for libraries and for library material and equipment’ and Appropriation’. It also contains a schedule which sets out the limit of grants to the respective States. The brevity of the Bill is deliberate.
– What is wrong with that?
– I will tell the honourable member, if he will listen. Its brevity is deliberate because if the purposes mentioned by the Minister for Education and Science in his second reading speech were incorporated in the Bill it would directly contravene the Constitution. The Minister has shown a cunning astuteness in drafting the Bill. He gives the definition of ‘secondary school’ as:
But in his second reading speech he gave a more elaborate description when he set out a formula for each State for the disbursement of funds to government schools, Roman Catholic schools and others - others, in practice, means privileged schools. The Minister’s second reading speech contained the announcement that he would appoint a committee to advise on the conditions and standards necessary for the effective development of the new programme. He named the chairman and the members of the committee and gave their qualifications to serve on such a committee. He also said:
As far as independent schools are concerned I will have the assistance of two advisory committees in each State, one representative of Roman Catholic secondary schools, another of other nongovernment secondary schools.
These committees will determine the order of priority among applicants and the amounts of individual grants from the total available for each group of independent schools. Grants will be paid to schools on the recommendations of these committees, provided the proposals for library development put forward by the schools meet the standards to be laid down by Dr McKenzie’s committee.
That is why I referred to the cunning astuteness of the Minister. The brevity of the Bill contrasts with the spirit of his second reading speech which conflicts directly with section 116 of the Commonwealth Constitution. That section reads:
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
The Minister stipulates in his second reading speech that he will have the assistance of two advisory committees in each State, one representing Roman Catholic secondary schools and the other representing other non-government secondary schools. The Minister will in the first instance appoint persons whose qualification for office is their religious background and that, in my opinion, directly conflicts with section 116 of the Constitution, or that part of the section which reads:
Similar provisions to those contained in section 116 also are included in the Constitution of the United States of America. Legislation similar to this certainly would not be tolerated in that country. The late President Kennedy recorded publicly his strong aversion to encroachment on this section of the American Constitution. That is why I will support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. If the amendment is unsuccessful I will support the Bill, but in no way do I support the sentiments expressed in the second reading speech delivered by the Minister.
I hope that the amendment moved by the Opposition will be successful and that the Bill will be withdrawn and redrafted. I concur in the sentiments expressed in each of the parts of the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I go further and say that I hope the Government will consider the proposal that has been made concerning regional school libraries. Instead of going along with this inefficient and most expensive way of conducting school libraries, I hope that the Government will consider the suggestion that it investigate the setting up of regional permanent school libraries in each of the States. This would go a long way towards meeting the requirement of the large staff of librarians which will be needed to implement this scheme.
I can foresee under this legislation mistakes being made similar to those that were made in relation to the legislation concerning science laboratories. I hope that these school libraries will be attended not only by students attending secondary schools but also by students attending primary schools because I believe there is a greater requirement for children attending primary schools to have school library facilities than there is for students attending secondary schools. If regional school libraries were available not only children going to State schools but also children going to nongovernment schools could use those libraries. That in my opinion would be a more efficient and less expensive way of providing a better service.
I believe that regional school libraries could provide improved services because they would be staffed by qualified librarians. It is true as the Minister said in his second reading speech that a small amount of finance will be made available for the teaching of library staff. I hesitate to think that under this legislation we would meet the situation that has arisen with the science laboratories grants scheme. It is better to have a regional permanent school library available to children who live within an area than it is to build within each school a library which has not full facilities because of shortage of staff. We must take into account the fact that in the science laboratories scheme, particularly as it applies to non-government schools, the schools cannot afford to employ science teachers. Even if the teachers were available, the schools could not afford to employ them. If they were employed an increase in school fees would take place, and parents at the present time are already hard pressed to meet the fees that apply.
If the regional school library scheme were adopted students in built-up areas would have access to the libraries. Built-up areas are the areas with which I am most concerned because in them, and in the suburban areas, the children of working class families are in the vast majority. I cannot see some of these schools, even if this finance is made available to them, establishing on their premises new libraries and the facilities to go with them. At the present time the schools have overcrowded classrooms. In many of the schools in South Australia - I have no doubt that the situation is even worse in New South Wales - the ground space is not available on which to build; otherwise the schools would be putting up temporary classrooms to alleviate the overcrowded conditions which all of the schools experience.
Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to remind the Government again that the chaotic education system in our nation today will not be solved by emergency action in making grants such as are provided for in the Bill and as were provided for in the legislation relating to science laboratories. The problems of our education system will be solved first of all by holding a national inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education to obtain a correct appreciation of the urgent priorities and needs at all levels in both government and non-government schools. It would be most essential for the Government to act upon the recommendations which resulted from such an inquiry.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, a number of accusations have been hurled at the Government this afternoon and this evening with respect to the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill now before the House. Certainly the most eloquent and the most significant of the accusations have been those of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard). I propose for just a few moments to examine some of the matters to which he drew attention. I recollect very clearly the Deputy Leader of the Opposition saying of this legislation: ‘There is neither logic nor consistency in the approach of the Government’. I ask: Logic and consistency in relation to what? Surely it is in relation to the principles of this Bill.
So we ask ourselves first of all: What are the principles that are enshrined in the Bill? They are stated very simply and very shortly. They are that an amount of money is to be expended in the construction and, to a certain extent, in the stocking of school libraries throughout Australia. The critical principle is that these libraries are to be constructed and stocked without relation to the type of school which wants them. In other words they are to be built for both government and non-government institutions. We are accused of inconsistency and a lack of logic in our approach. Let me take the honourable member back 10 or 11 years over his own history in relation to this matter.
– Of whom is the honourable member speaking?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition. It is quite clear that he has changed his own principles at least three times. Whether he is aware of it or not, it is also clear that his principles now are different from what they were a little over a year ago. In 1956 this Government for the first time decided to foot the interest bill on non-government secondary schools built in Canberra. This was opposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He supported the opposition to the Bill which was introduced for this purpose. In 1961 this principle was extended to primary schools. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not agree with that, either. In 1963 this Government proposed to the people of Australia, who supported the proposition, that assistance should be given for science laboratories to be built in both government and non-government schools throughout Australia. That scheme was clearly a precursor to the scheme which is to be introduced by the Bill now before us. That proposition also was opposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. When in 1964 the legislation enshrining those principles was submitted to this House the Deputy Leader of the Opposition opposed it. Having done all this, he now says there is neither logic nor consistency in the Government’s approach.
This is a rather quaint type of reasoning. I suggest that the honourable member cannot be very well aware of either his own or his Party’s history. The Party had a very difficult time in 1966 at a famous conference at Surfers Paradise’ at which attempts were made to change a number of Party principles on matters such as the one with which we are now concerned. Having in mind what occurred at that conference, one might well have thought Bat there would have been support from honourable members opposite for the kind of Bill now before the House, and I was astounded when the Opposition proposed an amendment the effect of which was to oppose the legislation. In fact the Opposition is willing to take stronger action to oppose this legislation than it was prepared to take in relation to the Budget. I think this is not insignificant.
The amendment states that the Bill is inadequate for three reasons which are set out, and then it goes on to say:
Therefore the House resolves that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted.
The meaning of that is simple and unequivocal. No exercise in logic is required to discern what that means. This is a proposition which is being put to the House by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and for which he is trying to drum up support. I find this an incredible situation. In 1966, the present Leader” of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was very proud of the fact that he had , as he thought engineered at Surfers Paradise a change in Party policy, but the change was not as permanent as might have been desired. I am reminded of difficulties that certain local authorities have encountered when wanting to move a cemetery. It is always difficult to move a cemetery. They say: ‘When we run into these difficulties we find that no matter how long what is in the cemetery has been dead, it still has a lot of supporters’. I am afraid that the dead policies of the Labor Party have found in the Labor Caucus this week a lot of supporters who have decided to oppose this legislation.
Then the honourable member pointed to a number of administrative procedures connected with the science laboratories scheme with which he disagreed and with which presumably he would disagree if they were introduced into the libraries scheme. What are the procedures with which he has found fault? He said he always had grave doubts about the administration of the science laboratories scheme. By implication it was clear that he is not happy with the recommendations that have been made to the Government by the advisory committee appointed under that scheme. He wants to know what those recommendations have been. Let me remind him of the gentlemen on the various advisory committees whom he is impugning, if not directly and knowingly, then certainly indirectly.
There are two types of advisory committee in each State - one dealing with nonCatholic schools, such as Church of England, Methodist and Prebyterian grammar schools, and -one dealing with Roman Catholic schools. The chairmen of these advisory committees are distinguished prelates and churchmen from all parts of Australia. They are bishops and archbishops in the various States. If the honourable member is unhappy about the recommendations that come from these committees we would like to know what he is unhappy about. Does he contend that we have been fed incorrect information, or that we have acted incorrectly on the information which has been given to us incorrectly? I advise him to expand on his accusation. But I also invite him to reflect that this kind of accusation was made by the then Deputy Leader of the Opposition in 1965 and that the honourable gentleman had enough sense to abandon it in subsequent years. It seems that the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition has not quite caught up with events that occurred earlier.
I think 1 have said enough by way of friendly remarks in connection with allegations concerning the administration of the scheme. Perhaps I might make one further point. In looking for an explanation for the Opposition’s attitude, it is very difficult to probe the intellect of the decision makers in the Opposition. Assuming that they have the capacity to handle matters of this kind, 1 find it quite illogical that they have adopted their present attitude. I remind them of a speech made in this House in 1963 by the present Leader of the Opposition which demonstrates the approach of that honourable gentleman to the science laboratories scheme, which is similar to the proposed libraries scheme. On 19th September 1963 he made a speech which is reported in Hansard at page 1189. As appears at page 1191, referring to the principles of assistance for education, he said:
But there is a difference between the Government and the Opposition on the ways in which the Commonwealth can and should assist students in all schools. The first is by increasing and extending child endowment and by granting scholarships and other benefits to students in accordance with the Constitution. . . . The second is by awarding scholarships and making grants for that form of tertiary education represented by teacher training, with the object of equipping men and women for a profession and not just for a State public service.
There is no opposition to this. But the third proposition is the most interesting. The honourable member went on:
The third is to make State grants for further and new installations such as science equipment, mobile libraries and language laboratories to which non-State pupils can have access.
They can have access. The result of that would be to make 25% of Australian students mendicants who would approach people in charge of a library or a science laboratory and say: ‘May we use this equipment or these books?’ This is the philosophy propounded by the Leader of the Opposition just a few years ago. It would make mendicants of a large number of Australian students and it is remarkable that a person with a professed interest in equality should have made such a statement. Nevertheless, having that statement in mind is it not logical and reasonable that the Opposition should be adopting its present attitude to this Bill?
Let me go a little further. This Bill is part of the Government’s interest in, and achievements in, education. It is interesting to note that with this legislation and with the investment in education in the years immediately prior to this year, a target of investment has been reached 4 years ahead of the date which was set for us by the Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr Whitlam) and by the National Union of Australian University Students. In 1963 National Union carried on a campaign. It said that if only Australia could spend up to 4% of its gross national product on education by 1970 we would have arrived at the millennium. It was not intending to be friendly. It thought that we would never arrive at this situation. It is interesting to recall that in this House in 1964 I pointed out that that situation would be attained in 1966. The then Deputy Leader of the Opposition had his staff make some calculations. He made a long speech in this chamber and pointed out that it would not be achieved in 1966. Now let me indicate to him what in fact has been our investment in education. Have we attained the target which was set for us a number of years ago? I have a few figures here which are illustrative of what we have expended on education as a proportion of the gross national product. In 1962-63 we spent 3.5% of our gross national product on education; in 1964-65 we spent 3.73%; and in 1966-67 we spent 4.01%. So the target has been attained a little before our wellwisher would have desired.
Let me go a little further. There are people who would say that this kind of calculation is not an appropriate one, that it is not a proper one, and that in fact I am picking a base and choosing figures to suit myself. The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) in his usual sagacious manner has reminded me that they have done this. If we look at expenditure on education as a proportion of the gross national income - a different base - I would suggest that a more appropriate figure would be 3.1% in 1962-63, 4.02% two years subsequently and 4.38% in 1966-67. It is perfectly obvious that this Bill, which is part of our interest in education, is a measure involving a substantial investment in education in a country which is devoting significantly increasing resources to that field. This Government is devoting its resources to education in a manner which is not partial, not discriminatory.
There are some people who say: ‘You should invest in libraries’. Libraries themselves are not as significant as all that There are other and greater needs. There are some economists who say: ‘Maybe you ought to invest in technological education.’ I have heard some suggestions to this effect from the Opposition this afternoon. There are some who say: ‘You ought to invest in computer education’. Maybe it is not appreciated these days, but a good mathematician has to be able to communicate in order to have his ideas put into operation. One can only communicate if one has a background of literature, a background of books. The newest methods even in mathematics and the most refined technical education, the kind which is verified in the imagination, requires that there be a sound general knowledge which can only be acquired through libraries.
– It is significant that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has left the chamber at this stage.
– I think he has retreated. I refer to the work titled The American Challenge’ by Mr ServanSchreiber, a work to which the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) has referred previously. It is concerned with the astonishing economic performance of the United States of America, not only in its own country but also in Europe - the American challenge to Europe in Europe. Having been concerned with this and trying to explain the astounding progress of America, this noted author says, on page 60:
Technological advance has two bedrock requisites: broad general knowledge, and modern managerial competence lt cannot come into being without improving the foundation of it all, which is education of the yoting, as well as adults. If Europe really wants to close the technological gap, it has to improve its education, both general and special, and both quantitatively and qualitatively. There is just no other way to get to the fundamental root of the problem.
Adequate libraries will, in fact, facilitate that aim, and the provision of adequate libraries is the intention of this legislation. So I would suggest that those gentlemen who say that the investment is in the wrong field have not done their homework. Other accusations have been made from across the chamber this afternoon. The accusations have been - again adverting to the American experience - that the investment is, in fact, insufficient. Some interest in investment in libraries and so on has been shown by American leaders. I refer to a statement by President Johnson in his education message to Congress on 12th January 1965. It has an application to the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. He said:
I recommend legislation to authorise federal grants to states to assist in the purchase of books for school libraries and for student use . . . our libraries are limping along. . . . Many schools have an average of less than half a book per child. To meet the accepted standards for library materials would require a fourfold increase in current expenditure in our major cities.
In that year he provided $100m of federal aid for that year in order to do something about the situation. A little bit of arithmetic is appropriate here. The expenditure of $US100m in 1 year, in relation to the American gross national product, is equivalent to about $3m in relation to the Australian gross national product. If we were copying the American President, if we were only keeping pace with the Americans, we would be spending about $3m a year on the provision of school libraries.
– How much are we spending?
– We are spending three times that amount. So I would suggest that the gentlemen who make these accusations have not understood what is occurring in other parts of the world. Now we have a look at libraries and we ask ourselves: What are the kinds of students and what are the kinds of schools which will obtain the greatest advantage from this assistance? We could also ask, by implication, what are the kinds of students and what are the kinds of schools which, if the Opposition’s amendment is carried, will be denied this assistance? It is well known that school libraries are most useful for students who come from the less well to do homes. Students from non-professional homes obtain an acquaintance with a library at school or probably do not obtain an acquaintance with a library at all. The students who will receive the greatest advantage from libraries are those from the relatively underprivileged homes in which books are not available or whose parents do not have the capacity or the willingness or are too tired at night to discuss matters across the dinner table. The student who comes from the home of a working man who has a small family, or a large family, will receive the greatest amount of assistance. Other students will receive assistance, but those to whom I have referred will receive the greatest. These are the students who will be denied assistance if the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - and I say charitably, probably in ignorance - is carried.
There are one or two other matters which were raised by the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) to which some attention should be given. I could not help but be impressed by the tears which he shed when he was talking about the difficulties of having librarians available to manage libraries in a number of the poorer schools. He suddenly found a soft spot for a nongovernment school, St Dominic’s. That school could not take advantage of the science laboratory scheme and it will not be able to take advantage of the library scheme because it does not have sufficient resources available in order to employ a teacher. I know that this occurs in many schools. Let us have a look at the facts of the situation. The States in which this situation is likely to occur, where less assistance has been given to this sector of the population, are those in which Labor governments have had the longest reign. I well remember a paper which was presented at the conference at Surfers Paradise in 1966 by Mr J. T. Tonkin, a Labor member from Western Australia. In that paper Mr Tonkin drew up the types of assistance given in the various States. It was perfectly obvious that the States which had given the least assistance were Tasmania, from which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition comes, and New South Wales. There had been a change of government in New South Wales only a short time before. This is the type of tradition which has grown up in those States and which I think the honourable member for Bonython would like to have forgotten.
One can go further than that. I agree with the honourable member for Bonython when he says that there are some problems in relation to libraries for smaller schools, especially the smaller regional schools in areas where there is not such a great concentration of students. This is a problem which I hope the Minister will try to overcome. It is a problem which will not be overcome easily, but some attempt has to be made. There will be problems in relation to librarians, who will have to be supported in order to make these libraries function. Schools with 300 students or more - there are about 3,300 of them in the country - are the kind of schools that will need libraries, librarians, assistant librarians and other people trained in the art of keeping a library to make books available to the students. I think that some assistance will be needed in this field. I hope that the Government will look into this need before many days pass.
It is a sound principle of investment in education that investment according to the principle of greatest need is the most economic delineation of that investment. It is a sound principle of investment itself in education in helping to determine the needs to apply one’s mind to that principle helps to obtain the best investment for the Australian community. I suggest that in the distribution of investment involved in this measure the Government is applying that principle and that the Government ought to be supported in what it is doing. Many
States have not sufficient librarians. Victoria has done very well. Even the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) would give his own State some credit in that respect. Other States have no facilities for librarians, or very few facilities. Something ought to be done in this respect.
– Victoria is the stone age State.
– At times the honourable member for Wills reminds me of a frilled neck lizard that is frightened by the voice of the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), except that the honourable member for East Sydney is absent. We hope that the Government will look into these matters and apply itself to them. I hope that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has realised the error into which he has fallen and into which he will drag a number of members of his own Party. I think that, after conferring with the Minister for Education and Science, he would be given an opportunity to withdraw his very unsalutary and very unwise amendment.
– Perhaps I was a little slow in getting to my feet. I was surprised that no-one from the Opposition side rose to speak.
– You should not be surprised.
– Why not? Education is a very important matter; it is a national concern. Opposition members have the opportunity to get every other call. Surely the Opposition has a right to debate the question.
– Not the-
– The honourable member for Corio has not yet risen to speak.
– I have not had the call.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has spoken. The honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) has not. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin) has not. The honourable member for Banks (Mr Costa) has not; nor have many others. What is the reason? Is education not of national concern? We have heard enough about it from the Opposition on various other occasions. Where are Opposition members now?
– They have switched off.
– For very good reason.
– They were never switched on.
– They were switched off for one very good reason. Basically - I quote some of my South Australian colleagues in the Opposition ranks - the reason is that they do not believe in a dual education system. Let us> not run away from it. That is the issue, and that is why they do not like being caught with their pants down tonight. They have no argument. All that they have lo offer is the old parror-like repetition of the catchcry: ‘What about holding an inquiry into education?” But this is as far as they go. This is how destitute the Opposition is of constructive ideas on education, i have not been here very long but I can remember when this was not so. Suggestions about holding an inquiry are all that has emanated from the Opposition during the last few debates on education. Let us go back and look at the reason. Not very long ago at Surfers Paradise a man called Mr Chamberlain, whom 1 do not know much about but who I believe-
– He is the Leader of the Opposition.
– ls that who he is? Anyway, this very important man who has not been elected to the Parliament but who has the power to dictate to the Labor Party on matters of policy, said that the provision by the Federal Government of science blocks in private schools was quite obviously contrary to Federal Party policy.
– That is, the Labor Party’s policy.
– That is right. I am very glad the honourable member pointed that out. Now we can see the conundrum that the Opposition is in. This powerful man, this iron man in the Labor Parly, this unelected man from Western Australia, Mr Chamberlain, has said that it is against Labor policy. That makes it very difficult for the Opposition. Let us look at what a most reasonable man said. I refer to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the shadow Minister for Education and Science, who is now sitting at the table.
– What did I say?
– You said: ‘We appreciate this difficulty.’
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member will direct his remarks to the Chair.
– Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will gladly do so. The problem that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is faced with is Mr Chamberlain’s statement on the one hand and, on the other hand, his own statement made last year. I remind this House that the school library scheme is purely an extension of the science laboratory concept. Its administration is approximately the same; it applies across the same spectrum of education. Last year the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), during a debate on science laboratories, said:
The Opposition does not dispute that as a result of that legislation the science facilities in the various Slates, both in independent schools and in Stale schools, have been improved immeasurably.
– If the honourable member had been here this afternoon he would have heard me say the same thing.
– If I may address my remarks through the Chair, I say that I was here this afternoon and I did hear what the honourable member said. My impression, all hough he announced the fact reluctantly, was that he would support the Bill. But he has a lot of amendments which have precisely the opposite effect. The honourable member cannot have it both ways.
Last year he was completely in favour of a similar Bill and so was his Party. This year, for reasons I must imagine as being associated with some form of political expediency, his Party takes a stand against the legislation. Mr Chamberlain has given a direction. Last year the honourable member was entirely in favour of Bills similar to the Bill now before the House. This year the honourable member does not seem to be in favour of this measure. So, I presume this means that once again forces not elected by the Australian people have influence in the Labor Party. The honourable member, in a speech on 1st May this year, said:
I agree with the Honourable member for Angas that we have now reached a stage in which the Government should take a serious look at the legislation and consider whether it could be improved. We have pointed out on other occasions, and I repeat this again today, that it is not in the best interests of this country to have science laboratories, the best equipment that is available for use in those laboratories, unless there are sufficient teachers to teach science subjects in those schools.
Really, this is to my mind the most destitute argument of the lot. As 1 asked last year - and I am afraid I must use a hackneyed phrase - what comes first, the chicken or the egg? If every scientific institution and every firm in Australia is crying out for trained scientists, what do we do? Do we set up science laboratories in schools? Do we try and train science teachers? Do we hope that before the snowballing effect occurs we will get enough trained science teachers in order to meet the current demands of the nation? Or do we sit back and say we cannot undertake this scheme because we do not have any trained people? What a destitute argument this is.
Once again the Opposition is using precisely the same arguments. What is the use of having libraries if we do not have trained librarians? That is the argument that is put forward. How in the blazes, Mr Deputy Speaker, do we get trained librarians unless we provide training facilities in the first place? Surely we must have a little give and take in this matter in order to achieve the national effect we are after. It is the national effect I am after but members of the Opposition are just chasing their own tails. I cannot and will not attempt to understand the ridiculous pose that they are striking in this matter.
The honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) is a highly valued member of the South Australian brigade in this chamber, if for no other reason than that he accused the Minister - I mean our Minister now; no shadow chap, but the lanky one - of being imbued with cunning astuteness. 1 was fascinated with this accusation because I have regard for the Minister and I have never thought of him as being as devious as this. What the honourable member did, of course, was to refer to the deviousness of the Minister in his interpretation of the definition of ‘secondary school’, which I will quote again. It is as follows: secondary school’ means a school or similar institution, whether conducted by a State or not, at which some or all of the students who attend the school are taught at a secondary level of education;
I cannot see any undue cunning astuteness in this wording selected by the Parliamentary Draftsman to convey and cover the area in which the Minister wishes to apply the provisions of this Bill. What does the definition mean and why is it worded in this way? It is obvious to many honourable members and to the honourable member for Bonython who quoted the School of St Dominic in South Australia. It is apparent to me that many of these schools, in their original form, were primary schools and were small. But they have grown - maybe like Topsy and maybe not. The point 1 make is that many of these schools now have a high ingredient of secondary students. Does the honourable member for Bonython wish those schools to be excluded from the provisions of the Bill? I am sorry that the honourable member is not here to answer this question. If he is genuinely concerned about these schools and if he does insist that the Minister is a man of cunning astuteness, does he or does he not want merged secondary schools to come within the ambit of this Bill?
One must draw the conclusion from this objection to the clause that the honourable member does not want these schools to come within the ambit of the Bill This is a strange thing. He stands up in this House and speaks up for small private schools in South Australia. Why does he not want these schools to come within the ambit of this Bill? I will be very interested later to hear his reasons. I will make one other comment in relation to the honourable member for Bonython’s remarks. The science grants, and no doubt the library grants that we are debating tonight, are grants that must be approved. In addition, they must be approved for a very good reason. If i may draw an analogy between the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill which is now under discussion and the Bill dealing with science laboratories, I point out that approval cannot be given for the establishment of science laboratories unless there is a certain number of lectures in science each year. As the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) said in a very fine speech, we all know that there are shortages of teachers and some of the smaller schools cannot afford science teachers and may not be able for a timeto afford properly trained librarians. But the fact remains that the Federal Government, in my view, does the right thing by laying down conditions before a school can be approved. I emphasise that fact to the honourable member for Bonython because for all I know that requirement may be involved in respect of the schools that he had in mind.
The honourable member also stated that this type of expenditure - I think this phrase has been running through most of the speeches from the Opposition side tonight - is not in the context of the gradual improvement in education in general. I think at least one member of the Opposition said he believed this was wasteful expenditure in some way or in some form. I deprecate this statement; I do not agree with it at all. I remind Opposition members that any money given to schools by way of State grants for libraries or science laboratories is certainly a capital sum that is substitutable against their overall! capital requirements. It is substitutable for independent schools in respect of those two categories and I think it is substitutable also for the State education department facilities. There is a very real saving, as we see if we have a look at the facts and figures associated with this Bill, for the State educational systems which they can apply, no doubt, in the way they decide. Under this legislation the States will get, in round figures, the following amounts during the triennium commencing on1st January 1969 - New South Wales, $9,984,000; Victoria, $7,590,000; Queensland, $3,944,000; South Australia, $2,576,000; Western Australia, $2,031,000; and Tasmania, $872,000.
– What is the grand total?
– The grand total is $27m over the triennium. Are these not capital amounts that are capable of substitution in favour of both the State education system on the one hand and centres like St Dominic’s in South Australia, to which the honourable member for Bonython (Mr
Nicholls) referred, on the other? Unquestionably this is so and unquestionably the scheme must be of very real benefit to the States. The present Liberal Government of South Australia is fully behind this scheme, as was the former Labor Government. If honourable members opposite want to criticise the scheme let them first ask the State governments what they think of it. I can speak only for the two most recent governments in my State - one Labor and one Liberal - both of which have supported to the full the policies adopted in this legislation by the Commonwealth Government. These are facts which the Opposition should note before it lightly tampers with a first class piece of legislation which has complete support. Honourable members opposite should study the situation carefully before they put themselves in the position of making contradictory statements, depending on whether they lean to the left or the right or take the middle course.
I believe that I am the only Federal member of Parliament - I hope that I say this not in an egotistical fashion - who has led three deputations on the subject of school libraries to two Ministers for Education and Science. Funnily enough those deputations were not composed of representatives from my State but were composed principally of people from Victoria and New South Wales. I think it is fitting that at this stage I should give credit to two people in particular whose enthusiasm and imagination have helped tremendously in achieving a breakthrough in this highly important field. Many others have made statements through the Press and in other ways, but I refer particularly to the two people who have helped me - Dr Andrew Fabinyi of Melbourne and Mrs Margaret Trask of Sydney. These two people approached the problem with a full knowledge of its intricacies and they gave much competent advice. I am extremely pleased to know that the Minister has appointed Mrs Margaret Trask to his standards committee. She will be able to advise the Minister on various technical aspects relating to the establishment of school libraries. She has a first-class knowledge of the subject and I have no doubt that she will bring to her task a great enthusiasm.
I would like to deal briefly with the philosophy behind the Bill. Full library facilities should be what 1 might call the intellectual hub of a first class secondary school. This is where people should gravitate, if all things are equal. The library should be the centre of knowledge, information and reference over wide fields. It should also be a centre of interest in fields of contemporary information and even pleasure so far as the range of novels available in the school library will allow. These things are necessary if the adults of tomorrow are to be capable of thinking for themselves and working things out by their own logic. The days have gone when people could learn parrot fashion by listening to some half trained, half baked teacher. The days are gone when children could pass an examination by repeating parrot fashion things that they have learned in a similar way. 1 hope to goodness that television, sporting activities and the other competitors to learning fall into their right perspective when this scheme for school libraries gets properly under way. I hope that the school library will be the cultural centre of the school and an important centre for learning. Nobody would wish students to ignore other things; they must grow to be balanced individuals. No-one would wish them not to be involved in sporting activity or with the opposite sex. No-one would wish them to ignore a wide range of activities that may orbit around the central activity of the school.
– How does the honourable member know that?
– What did you say?
– The honourable member wants to know what you know about the opposite sex.
– I am glad that my youthful friend from Kingsford-Smith has relayed that information to me. I am sure that he has a lifetime of experience far above anything that I could claim to have absorbed in my brief time on earth.
If honourable members agree with me that the days of learning by repeating things parrot fashion are over, then they should support this legislation enthusiastically. If they recognise the importance of the grants made to schools for science laboratories they must see the need to move towards the humanities so as to effect an important balance and provide a base for subjects such as law and politics, all of which have their base in learning and the ability to train people. A fundamental requirement here is a properly equipped school library. But of greater importance is the general need, in all faculties and occupations, to teach people to think and to act for themselves by learning to use the resources of a reference library accurately and properly. The fulfilment of every member of our society of tomorrow depends on training the thought processes of the youngsters of today. Only in this way will people be happy, independent and devoid of some of the problems, stresses, strains and general insecurities that we find so frequently in the world today. School libraries are the very fibre of man’s development in that a pattern can be set that may well lift the standards of the society of tomorrow. I believe that in 20 years time the members of this House will be the better for this legislation we are debating today. It is proper that it should apply right through the educational structure - to State schools and to Ronian Catholic and non-Roman Catholic schools in the private sector. The Government has been able to introduce this Bill because it believes in a dual education system. 1 had to follow the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) in this debate partly because the Opposition, not believing in a dual educational system at all, did not put up a member to speak.
– I had not intended to speak on this matter, but I have been impelled to because the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), in his usual style, began clowning at the start of his speech on what is a very serious subject. He apparently felt that he had to take a rise out of certain people.
– lt was not that. The situation was obvious.
– The honourable member says that it was obvious. He spent the first half of his speech trying to ridicule the Opposition for its proposed amendment, and he did not even mention the Bill’ for a quarter of an hour. I wish to read the more relevant part of the amendment moved and I intend to speak to that. The part of the amendment to which I wish to refer reads as follows:
Therefore the House resolves that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted -
The honourable member for Angas said that he disagrees with the amendment. In the latter part of his speech he said that the library must be the centre of the educational structure. This was one of the soundest statements he made. No-one who is reasonable would dispute this. But, earlier, the honourable member said: Which comes first - the chicken or the egg?’ I think that here a full grown chook has come along. If we are to provide a secondary education system with the best imaginable library system and completely neglect the primary sector, large numbers of children, though not all, who are coming into the secondary system will be culturally deficient to the extent that they will not at any time during their secondary education be able to reach the standards which other children more fortunately placed will be able to reach.
The great deficiency in education in areas where the parents of children are either semi-skilled or unskilled workers and have failed to reach a secondary standard of education, is that reading and cultural backgrounds are completely lacking. A child from this environment can hope to reach a standard sufficiently high to win a Commonwealth secondary scholarship only if adequate library facilitits are available from the first day when he or she attends school. It is of no use to offer a child library facilities at the secondary school level if that child’s parents cannot afford to pay the secondary education costs or if a child, because of the lack of these facilities early in its education, is not able to pass the examinations and perhaps obtain a Commonwealth scholarship. These scholarships have a cultural basis and are not won simply by cramming or learning parrot fashion. I do not suggest that they should be obtainable in that way.
It is necessary that the younger children in the schools get as broad a view oi the education structure as is possible so that they will be able to cope not only with secondary education and, if they are fortunate enough, tertiary education, but also with the community in which they live, which is becoming ever more complex. Every child who comes from an area where the parents are under-educated should be able to go out into the world, on completion of his education, with a higher educational standard than his parents. If he can, there is an immeasurable gain to the community, because that child then passes on to his children the advantages he has gained. There is a multiplying effect. It is at the primary level that these children can be helped most. This Bill, however, provides only for library facilities in secondary schools. There is no doubt that, from the standpoint of pure learning capacity, a library is vital at secondary level. Similarly, science blocks are vital at the secondary level, but under the scheme which was introduced some of the schools which most needed science blocks missed out. To my knowledge, there is only one State high school in my electorate which does not have a science block. This is the Norlane High School, which is in the middle of an area of Housing Commission homes and which missed out when the first grants were made, because it did not have sufficient fifth form students at the time to gain priority.
– This scheme is continuing and the State will be getting money in the future.
– The Victorian Government has changed the priority list and the Norlane school has slipped back in the list. It could now meet the previous priorities, but they no longer exist. This is an act of fate, but it is not very popular with the staff of that school.
– The allocation of funds will continue in the future.
– This school has gone from the top of the priority list to the bottom because of a change in the State Government’s policy. I am not criticising the Minister for Education and Science (Mr
Malcolm Fraser) for this. I am merely stating that the one school which missed out when the first grants were made is the one which probably needed assistance most. It is in an area where the children are least privileged. Something like $10,000 or $12,000 is owed in rent in that area. This is irrelevant, of course. The relevant fact is that in this area, as in the electorate represented by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), and in other places where the children are underprivileged, the need to lift the cultural standard of the student population at the earliest possible age is great. I do not know whether providing a library at every primary school would solve this problem, but there are ways and means by which the situation could be greatly eased. In the shire of Corio, encouraged by the Victorian Free Library Service Board, a regional library operates. I do not think the shire council should be the body responsible for the conduct of this library, but nevertheless it has to pay for ils upkeep.
– ft is a very progressive shire.
– lt is a very wealthy shire. If a district is wealthy it can be progressive and progress; without money a district can be progressive but it cannot progress.
– lt could show the city of Geelong a thing or two.
– The city of Geelong happened to establish the library service and then the shire of Corio joined in. I do not criticise anyone for that, because great wisdom was shown in what was done. The fact is that the shire operates a bookmobile, which is a fairly costly item. It visits the various schools in the area and it has a monthly turnover of books equal to approximately half the number of children registered as borrowers. It has a tremendous impact on children who most likely, under other circumstances, would never borrow a book, lt is a very welcome asset in the community because it encourages children to read. With television and other distractions we should be doing everything possible to encourage children to read as soon as they can cope with the technical problems of reading. In other words, as soon as they have learned to read they should be given every possible opportunity to do so. In these communities, if they are not encouraged to read widely in their early school years they will certainly miss out on Commonwealth scholarships for secondary education and, because of this, will most likely be deprived economically of opportunities for later education.
I understand that the two areas where the least number of Commonwealth scholarships are gained are in the Catholic rural schools and in the State schools located in areas where it would be expected that parents had a low educational base. 1 think that this is fairly right, but I make no distinctions at all about religion or anything else. It is not the responsibility of a child to determine the school he attends; his parents make the choice. However, it is the responsibility of an education system to see that every child has similar access to the facilities of learning that the community provides.
– After all, the children do not choose their parents.
– Some children are fortunate and some are not. The children of the fortunate parents do not usually worry very much about the children of the unfortunate parents. 1 do not wish to delay the House any longer but I want to make a plea for the Minister to give serious consideration to the problems of State primary school children in under-privileged areas. This Bill is not exactly the same as the science blocks legislation because under that legislation science blocks have been erected at primary schools. There is one in my own electorate.
– Would there not be some secondary teaching al that school?
– Yes, I think so, but it is a primary school.
– A primary school would not have a laboratory unless secondary school teachers were teaching science there.
– It is still basically a primary school with a science block. I am not criticising that. I should like to see every primary school with a science block. I visited the primary school that my own children attend. It had a science block, too. It was on a tray and was wheeled around. However, the school has progressed since then and now it has a stainless steel sink fitted with science equipment, lt is wheeled around from room to room, too. It is somewhat smaller than the science facilities 1 saw on a recent visit to a Canberra school, which has seven and a half science rooms. It is a magnificent achievement for that school, and I wish that the States were in a financial position to achieve a similar level.
The amendment sets out what are the basic weaknesses in the provision of educational facilities at secondary school level without taking any cognisance whatever of the very desperate needs of large numbers of children in the primary school area. I do not think it would cost the Commonwealth a great deal to give assistance to those areas, where the need is great, and it would not take very much research to show the need.
– - Those areas are usually the areas where workers live.
– Some labourers earn far more than do highly skilled people. This is one of the facts of life and it does not matter whether or not the parents are culturally advanced. It is usual for those parents who are less educated to be fairly rightly grouped together. This lack of education is not the fault of the parents; they did not have the opportunities in a past age. We need to give access to library facilities to far greater numbers of children at an early age. I think that the original library system with the provision of mobile library equipment would most likely be a fairly effective way of relieving a lot of these problems; but no municipality, no matter how wealthy or -how prosperous it is, can afford to cope with this problem unassisted. Municipalities get very little assistance from State governments for their libraries, although they get some encouragement from the library boards. I think that if a basic grant were offered by the Commonwealth for children’s libraries of a mobile type under complementary legislation, it would be of great benefit to everyone.
– I oppose the amendment, not because I disagree with anything that is in it per se but because I believe that it cuts across what is a growing and intelligent contribution that the Commonwealth Government is making to the whole field of education. It cuts across Government policy and it brings up, in a way which lays itself open to the very same criticism that it attempts to place at the door of the Government, a piecemeal approach to amending a Bill that is for a specific purpose. That there is a crisis - if this is the word that one should use - in education in Australia is unquestionable, but it is the same kind of crisis as is to be found in education in every country, lt is the same kind of crisis as is to be found in the development of social services around the world. It. is the same kind of crisis that attends upon every facet of an exploding population, the development of technology and a thirst for information by increasing millions of people.
The situation in which the Government finds itself today is one in which there are tremendous pressures of demand. As the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) recently pointed out very clearly, .at present Australia is moving into a kind of era in which it has nol existed before in the whole of its natural life or since it was populated by the first white settlers - that is, an era in which it must be primarily responsible for its own defence. If any person believes that, in the light of our small population and limited resources we are thinking too seriously about the defence of Australia and about the amount that must be expended to bring us into a position of the greatest possible security, then he should rise and say so. Similarly we are moving into a new era with regard to social services. If anyone believes that we are doing more than we should for the aged population and that we are doing more than we should for the ill, then he should say so. It is against this background that we must look at the very necessary, indeed the critical, need for a widening of the base and an extension of the facilities available in the sphere of education.
There is, as 1 have said, a crisis; but it is the kind of crisis against which developing nations such as our own must whet their swords, as it were, and must go into battle to struggle for a place of significance in tha world of tomorrow. This is why I believe that the Government is to be commended. It has taken an intelligent view by, first, moving into the tertiary sphere and placing our universities on a sound footing, particularly in the last decade or so. Now it has looked at the whole remaining field of education. Let us bear in mind that this is the primary responsibility not of the Commonwealth but of the States. Using its wide powers under section 96 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth has asked itself: Where are the areas of greatest need? It has decided in the first instance, in this day of technology, that the greatest need is to provide for all secondary schools the science facilities that they lack. This was quite apparently beyond the capacity of many schools to provide for themselves, whether they be State school’s or private institutions.
There has been, as every honourable member must know through contact with schools in his own electorate, a revolution in the quality and the quantity of facilities that are available for the teaching of science. It has rejuvenated the entire field of education. Of course the corollary to this scheme and the companion sphere in which a tremendous development was necessary was what is loosely called school library facilities. Libraries today are exciting, not just in terms of books but in other material as well. The definitions in the Bill show the material that is included in the thinking of the Government. The items mentioned in the definition of library material open one’s eyes to the vistas of education of tomorrow. Books themselves are undergoing a revolution these days. The quality and quantity of material available to children from their very earliest years represent a tremendous step forward. It is necessary for the Government to study the areas in which it believes its aid can be most felt and is most necessary. It has rightly, in my opinion, decided that the secondary schools are the place to start.
I am fully aware of the suggestion made by Opposition members that the Government should give similar aid at the primary level and at the pre-school level. No books are more important in education than the very first books that a child takes up in its pre-school education. However, we are thinking in terms of the action of the Commonwealth Government which does not have primary responsibility in this area but is moving, by using its powers under section 96, to provide that strategic assistance which will enable the schools in the quickest possible time to give their students the background that is necessary to enable them to fit themselves for tertiary education or to move out as responsible members of society.
As one closely associated with several schools and generally widely interested in education I look forward to the expansion of the facilities within our secondary schools that will go far beyond the provision of books alone for the use of students. Projectors and other photographic aids have been mentioned, but we are moving into an era in which the school children of tomorrow will be able to see and hear history as it was made. They will be able to go to a school library, take down a tape, sit down in a cubicle and watch again the great events of history. They will not read about them or read what other people thought happened, but they will see the events recorded as they happened by film and television cameras. They will hear the voices of the leaders of the past. They will see the back side of the moon. They will see all this for themselves. At the press of a button, the students will in their own schools take part again in the great events of history. Similar developments are apparent with music. Our children will be able to go into a studio, as they can today, and hear the great orchestras, instrumentalists and singers presenting the music that they wish to study.
So we are moving into a new era, and I compliment the Commonwealth Government on the decision that it has taken. This is the wisest and the best possible area into which it should move for its next contribution in terms of aid to schools. As the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) has clearly pointed out, we know that there are other needs. Everyone who has his eyes open today knows the clamouring needs of education. Indeed, this is an area that calls on every Australian to bestir himself and to think of ways in which we can meet the needs. But we should also point to the fact, as the honourable member for Angas did, that these are tremendous capital contributions to the education system and the Commonwealth’s contribution means that the States are freed from the necessity to provide these facilities. The Schedule to the Bill shows that New South Wales, my own State, will receive Si Om in the next triennium and that another $17 will go to the remaining States. This must be added to the Commonwealth’s contributions in other areas. The Commonwealth is moving fast into this area of education. Its action is far removed from anything we would have hoped or thought to have attained 5 years ago and certainly an exciting new vista has been opened. I believed that this is one of many responsibilities that will be tackled in the future by the same intelligent, ad hoc use of the Commonwealth’s power under section 96. This is better than the broad and undifferentiated proposal submitted to us in the amendment. I support the Bill. This is a wise, necessary and timely provision. For the reasons I have given I oppose the Opposition’s amendment.
– 1 do not intend to take much of the time of the House. This measure has been fully debated by honourable members on both sides. 1 support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). The Bill provides for the distribution to the States of $27m over a period of 3 years from 1969 to 1971 for secondary school libraries. This scheme will be bungled just as the science blocks scheme was bungled. The legislation providing grants for science blocks at secondary schools should have provided for the construction of a science laboratory in a central area where it could serve both private schools and public schools. For instance, in a place like Canberra, one ultra-modern science block to serve both private schools and public schools should have been built.
– Does the honourable member want the students to travel through the rain?
– Every time the honourable member for Swan opens his mouth the words of a fool pour forth. It is a pity he does not keep his mouth closed and listen to a reasonably intelligent submission.
– Are you talking about yourself?
– If the honourable member looks in a mirror he will see who I am talking about. As I say, the science blocks scheme has been bungled. If the scheme that I and other Opposition members have suggested in previous debates had been adopted, an ultra-modern library could have been attached to the science block. This would have avoided the difficulties that have been mentioned by Opposition members, especially the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) who mentioned the shortage of science teachers. The honourable member for Bonython mentioned one school in South Australia that has a modern science block but has been unable to engage a science teacher. Each school that takes advantage of the Government’s grant to build a science block must find two teachers. If my scheme had been implemented and we had one ultra-modern science block serving-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Fox)Order! I remind the honourable member that the Bill before the House deals wilh libraries. I ask him to confine his remarks to that subject.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 certainly will do so, but this attitude was not adopted when the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) was speaking. He strayed somewhat from the Bill and I thought you would have allowed me to do so too. In my submission, both schemes are linked together.
-The honourable member may make a passing reference to science blocks.
– The science blocks and library blocks could have been very modern and could have served different sections of the community. A very prominent member of the Liberal Party, Mr E. C. B. MacLaurin wrote a pamphlet on State aid and said that it brings about educational apartheid. If this scheme that I am suggesting had been implemented it would have reduced the educational apartheid referred to by the prominent member of the Executive of the Liberal Party in New South Wales whom I have just mentioned, Mr E. C. B. MacLaurin, B.A.
As I said at the outset, I do not intend to take up much of the time of the House in this debate. But I desire to place on record the attitude of the Newcastle District Council of Parents and Citizens Associations. The letter that I am about to read is one of many that I have received from parents and citizens associations in the Hunter Valley region asking for more Commonwealth finance to overcome the grievous shortage of finance to assist the needs of the public and private school systems. This letter written on6th October 1968 and addressed to me at Commonwealth Offices, 526 Hunter Street, Newcastle, reads:
I am instructed by my Council to write to you with regard to the very urgent need of Federal assistance for Slate Schools.
You are well aware, I am sure, of the feeling among parents and teachers alike because of this lack of money necessary to equip our schools to even ordinary standards.
Parents and Citizens Associations have spent time, money and energy supporting Slate Schools for many years, and indeed if it were not for their efforts many a child would not have been able to continue in his/her studies. It is noticeable that where a school has an active Parents and Citizens Association or a canteen, mostly run by voluntary labour, this school is able to have for the most part, those items of equipment deemed necessary. However, where you have a school dependent on school fees, you see, in most cases, students who are denied many an aid to learning. Is it fair to students that a school should be dependent on the ability of its parents association?
We know that many millions are spent each year on education by the State Government, but all too little money is available to purchase even necessary books and equipment. How many schools can boast of having an adequate library? Only those where Parents and Citizens Associations have poured money into this field.
You represent the people of this area and we ask for your support in this matter. Federal money must be forthcoming for this very urgent need.
Awaiting your early reply.
Yours sincerely, Blodwen M. Sharpe
Mrs Sharpe is the secretary of the Newcastle District Council of Parents and Citizens Associations.
– Would that organisation approve of this legislation?
– It certainly would approve of the legislation because it believes that a little is always better than none at all. It is down to earth and practical.
– Does the honourable member believe in a dual education system?
– Yes. I have declared myself. But what about you?
– Order! There are too many interjections.
– The policy of the Australian Labor Party is that we subscribe to a dual education system. That being the policy of the Party, and as I am a democrat, I subscribe to it. I have answered the question asked by the honourable member for Angas (Mr. Giles).
Sufficient money will not be made available by this Bill to erect libraries of the type that are really necessary. I hope that when he replies the Minister for Education and Science will tell the House whether any consideration or thought has ever been given to the implementation of the system that I suggested should have been introduced. With the intelligence available to the Minister through the Department of Education and Science, I would like to know whether it would not have been better had the provision for science blocks and laboratories for schools been joined so that children of all denominations in the public school system could have enjoyed the facilities of an ultra-modern laboratory and an ultra-modern science block instead of the present hotch potch of facilities that has resulted from inadequate finance.
In conclusion, I am reminded of a quotation from the late Sir Winston Churchill who, speaking of education, said:
I was happy as a child with my toys in the nursery. I have been happier every year since I became a man. But this interlude of school makes a sombre grey patch on the chart of my journey.
This legislation does not make provision for what is needed urgently in our educational system today. That is why I wholeheartedly support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the Opposition has moved an amendment to the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill. I understand that the Opposition has foreshadowed additional amendments which will be moved at the Committee stage, but I am not yet aware of what those amendments contain. I think thatI should point out that this amendment is wide of the particular purposes of the Bill. The first part of the amendment reads:
The House is of opinion that the Bill is an inadequate contribution to education in Australia because it:
fails to attack the crisis in education in Australia in the areas of greatest need;
is symptomatic of the Government’s unplanned, piecemeal approach to the development of educational facilities in Australia, and
fails to provide for an inquiry into all aspects of education, at all levels, in both Government and non-Government schools.
If the only thing that the Government was doing for education was to introduce a Bill to provide libraries for all secondary schools, both Government and independent, it might be pertinent to move an amendment of this kind. But this is an amendment that embraces the whole field of education and it is moved to a Bill that concerns libraries and libraries only.
Since an amendment of this kind has been moved, I hope that it will not be taken amiss if I spend a few moments saying something about the general approach of the Government to the problems of education and of what it seeks to do to meet the needs of a demanding and growing field. The Government is concerned not only with the quality of education that is available throughout Australia, but also in particular with the quality of education at a whole variety of levels. A number of Government policies has been specifically directed to towards that end. It is clear, as I think speakers have pointed out in earlier debates, that significant changes have taken place in the approach of the Government over a period of 10 to 15 years since the Commonwealth’s first involvement in education was initiated by Sir Robert Menzies largely with substantial support for university development during the 1 950s.
The reasons for this changed approach and the reasons for the present attitude are, I think several. I wish to highlight two or three of them because it is now believed more firmly than ever before that opportunities should be provided for individual students to develop their talents to the maximum of which they are capable. Secondly, it is believed that a more highly educated and a better educated community is necessary in this modern scientific age if Australia is to develop as we would wish. Thirdly, I believe that a better educated community and nation will do much to improve the quality of life. That is something that is not related in any sense to material advantage or to material needs.
The history of the Government’s growing involvement in education is well known.
It began with the report of the Committee on Australian Universities - the Murray report - and the substantial support for universities that has followed ever since. I think it has totalled over $l,300m in about the last 10 years. This indeed is significant support for universities. These are the funds they have absorbed from the nation over this period. In the early 1960s it was becoming evident that universities alone were not meeting the needs of Australia in education. This was made clear because universities were not providing graduates with a sufficiently wide variety of talents and skills to meet the demands of all sections of industry and because a large proportion of those entering universities failed and were not able to achieve a degree. Thus a report was presented by the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia to the Australian Universities Commission. That Committee is commonly known as the Martin Committee. The Commonwealth and the States together have accepted a notable and bold recommendation from that report that a new level of tertiary education institutions, which the Commonwealth has named colleges of advanced education, should be established. The purpose of these colleges is to broaden the opportunities available to students who successfully complete their secondary schooling and to provide a wide variety of skills for Australia’s growing industry and commerce. I hope that in future these colleges will be able to develop an independent status and approach and that they will attract bright students who will be able to make notable contributions in their particular fields. I hope these institutions will work to establish their own position and that they will not set a university bench mark and seek to copy universities. They are not meant to be copies of poor cousins of universities. They are meant to fulfil a different need among students whose qualities and talents are of a different but certainly not an inferior kind.
The Opposition tries, in a whole variety of fields and in various debates, to suggest that we do not meet the challenge of the increasing demands on education. The amendment proposed by . the Opposition alleges a failure to attack the crisis in education, but I would like to point out what has been achieved in recent times while this Government has been in office, not necessarily directly through its own intervention in education but because of the funds that it has made available to the States to enable them to tackle many of their own problems. In 1.0 years the proportion of 15 to 18 year olds staying in full lime education has risen from 22% to 38%. In 10 years the number staying at school beyond the minimum leaving age has increased from 100,000 to over 300,000. Twenty years ago in matriculation classes at Victorian State schools there were 600 students; now there are more than 7,500. My Department estimates that 10 years ago there were 100 graduates from the tertiary system for every 100,000 of the population, now it is estimated that there are 200 for every 100,000 of the population. This has all been achieved within 10 years.
We are sometimes criticised after being compared wilh other countries. An article by Sir Eric Ashby that J recently read indicated that the United Kingdom has a target of 225,000 university students by the year 1972-73. With a population one-fifth that of the United Kingdom we have 100,000 university students at the present time. It can be seen, therefore, that Australia is doing much better than the United Kingdom in this area of education. This is a record of what has been achieved, and I would not want anyone to imply for one moment that more will not be required to be done in the future. In the field of education we live in a state of rising expectations by students and by parents, both requesting - and. indeed, demanding - higher standards and better education than were previously available. The record shows, however, that the problems have been tackled, although they have not been tackled without cost, and substantial cost. Ten years ago the Stales spent about $286m a year throughout the whole of Australia on education; now they are spending annually more than $700m. In 5 years Commonwealth expenditure has increased by over 210% and in about 10 years State expenditure per capita has doubled.
I have mentioned that the Commonwealth is concerned with the quality of education. In this debate on the libraries scheme, much has been said about the grants for science laboratories. These grants were made deliberately as part of a co-ordinated programme to upgrade the quality of scientific teaching in Australia. It was becoming evident that with the greatly improved and increased facilities becoming available in the new and expanded universities, not sufficient advantage would be taken of these facilities unless the quality of training at secondary schools was improved. After an examination of the problem it seemed clear that the best way to improve the standard of teaching at secondary schools was to make sure that those schools were provided with adequate equipment and good science laboratories. This was done in order to encourage scientific teaching. At the other end of the field we decided to make substantial sums available to support high level research, not only in the scientific sphere, although a large proportion of the funds made available was to be used in scientific research.
The libraries programme that we are now debating, amongst other things, is also related to the quality of training that will be available at secondary schools. The junior secondary science project, a curriculum development project which the Commonwealth supports at the request of Victoria. Tasmania and South Australia, is also intimately related to the quality of scientific training and teaching that will be available in Australia. This is a further instance of the Government’s concern in this area.
I think I should point out, because this is relevant when the Opposition again demands a national inquiry, the manner in which the Department works and the manner in which I seek to work in cooperation with the States. There are constant communication and constant liaison between my Department, State departments, independent schools and the teachers unions and all those institutions and individuals with an interest in and a concern for education. This makes it possible to meet problems as they arise or to foresee problems and take steps to avoid them. The teacher training programme, in which the Commonwealth will be making 5,000 additional teacher trainee places available in the State systems throughout Australia at a cost of $24m, is a programme that was developed because the States suggested that this was an important area of need. The science laboratories programme and the libraries programme were both supported after consideration and discussion with the relevant authorities and all those having an interest in and a concern for these matters. I would like to express appreciation to all those who have made their advice and time freely available to the Department in the development of the libraries programme in order to help us decide the best thing to do. In particular the Library Association of Australia has played a notable part in this work. As has already been noted in this debate, Mrs Trask is a member of our advisory committee.
Before turning to the amendment in more detail, I would like again to direct attention to two great changes that have been brought about in recent years by Commonwealth activities in these fields. The first, of course, is the Commonwealth’s involvement in many different levels of education in an effort not only to add to the quantity but also to improve the quality of education. This brings us into new relationships with the States and those who are concerned with education and also with a great variety of independent schools. The second great innovation is our support for these independent schools themselves, which has grown from an interest subsidy scheme in the middle 1950s designed to assist independent schools facing special problems in rapidly expanding Canberra. This has grown until there are now per capita grants available in most States. The science laboratories and the libraries projects offer a different form of capital assistance to the independent schools and also to the government schools. The Commonwealth has, of course, made special arrangements to meet the particular local problems in Canberra and the Northern Territory.
While we have tried to provide support for independent schools we have sought to do so with the minimum possible interference, compatible with the responsibilities we have for spending public funds. As in the science laboratories programme, so too in the libraries programme we will be seeking to provide maximum flexibility to meet the wishes of independent schools.
The introduction of State aid, of course, raises questions which over a period will need to be answered in a proper and adequate manner. We need to reach a position of equity as between State systems and the independent systems, and it is unfortunate that throughout Australia there has not yet been full recognition of the right of independent schools to receive support. For my own part, I have never been able to see any justice in the old view of those who say that it is all right for governments to support education to the full for threequarters of the population but that no government support at all should be given to the other one-quarter of the population who make significant’ efforts on their own behalf. There is no justice and no equity in that view. Quite apart from the matter
Of equity, it is good economics for governments to support the independent systems, because if they were to fail it would be infinitely more expensive and difficult for the taxpayers to look after the education needs of the quarter of the population now educated in independent schools. I hope it will be possible over a period of time to reach a situation in which the independent schools will be able to continue to educate the proportion of the population which has normally and traditionally sought education under the independent system.
In addition to this, I believe there is value in the diversity in education - the diversity in the two systems. Just as I would not want to see all education controlled monolithically from Canberra, I believe there is value in the debate that takes place between the systems in one State and another. So, too, I believe there is value in the debate that can take place between those involved in the government system and those involved in independent schools. This ultimately adds to the quality of education and to a greater experience amongst educators throughout Australia. I am, to some extent, surprised that in moving its amendment the Opposition has not sought to oppose this Bill outright. Indeed, if the published and stated platforms and policy of the Labor Party meant anything they would mean that the Party should oppose this Bill. I do not know whether it is possible to assume that the document which I have in my hand is the latest policy document of the Australian Labor Party - it was published in 1967 and it relates to the platform, constitution and rules of the Australian Labor Party. At page 12, amongst other things, it says:
Citizens who do not wish to use the school facilities provided by the State, whether for conscientious or other reasons, shall have the absolute right to develop an independent system of schools of a recognised standard provided that the cost of the capital development of this system is not a charge on any government. . . .
We are providing capital facilities for libraries, and this is a new project. We are providing capital facilities for science laboratories, and this scheme was extended, earlier this year, for a further 3 years. If there was support amongst the Opposition ranks for their own stated and written policy they would have opposed both these matters. This shows what a sham their policy processors have and what a mockery they make of their own alleged principles in these matters. These difficulties showed, to some extent, as some honourable members opposite were speaking. I could not but help feeling, through the words of the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) and the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) that these honourable members would have felt much happier in their own minds if the decision which Caucus had made had been a decision to oppose this measure utterly and outright. Indeed, I do not know how my good friend, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), will be able to talk to the Victorian Central Executive when he returns to Victoria because the rules of the seventy-seventh annual conference which was held from 7th to 10th June of this year are even more firmly opposed to support for the independent system than are the federal rules, to which I have already referred. But if he feels happy in being able to defy the Victorian Executive I wish him good luck.
Now, if I may, I would like to turn to the more pertinent matters which the Opposition has mentioned in relation to this Bill. But perhaps before T do that, there are one or two-
– I thought you were going to neglect the Bill altogether.
-The first part of the Opposition’s amendment neglected the Bill altogether, but since it had been accepted as an amendment I felt that it needed some answer. The first part of the amendment asked for the setting up of a national inquiry into education. I believe that this again is a recognition of the defeatist view of the Party’s particular approach to these problems. It shows a complete lack of confidence in being able to make judgments over areas of need. It shows a complete lack of confidence in the department that would be offering advice, if Labor were in government, and it shows a lack of ability to communicate amongst the States and with the States and with those who are concerned with education at all levels - whether they be teachers, teachers’ unions, independent schools or State authorities. It shows an inability and lack of confidence in being able to make decisions which are important in these areas. It also shows that honourable members opposite are not aware that the field in which they ask for an inquiry is one of State responsibility, and there has never been unanimous support for an inquiry. Indeed, when the States feel that there is a need for an inquiry, they have an inquiry into particular and specific matters. The results of these inquiries are of advantage to education, and the Stales are able to implement the results of their inquiries in their own right and in the execution of- their own responsibilities.
I believe that with the operations of the Department of Education and Science and with the relationships that we have with those who are concerned with education, we can make a continuous assessment of education needs in Australia and tackle the problems that thereby are brought to light. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Opposition’s basic objection to the Bill - he did not mention the philosophical ones that are set out in the Party’s platform - was that the approach was not conceived as a carefully budgeted programme to help all libraries in Australian schools. T suggest, with the restriction that it does not venture into primary schools, which I will mention shortly, that the programme is planned in this particular manner. We have a very carefully selected standards committee which will suggest standards that should be applied in establishing libraries. We have very carefully selected this committee, and if it says that equipment and materials in addition to books are a necessary part of a modern library, these will in fact be supplied. Then there will be advisory committees to advise on orders of priorities for the Catholic schools and for schools other than Catholic schools, and the States will determine their own priorities in their own particular areas.
It was suggested that amendments would be moved at the Committee stage so that we would make annual reports concerning the expenditure of the money, so that there would be parliamentary supervision of the decisions that were made in relation to priorities. Does the Opposition suggest that this Parliament, dealing with hundreds of schools, would be able to make a better judgment concerning priorities than would the Catholic committee which was established to determine priorities in Catholic schools or the other committee established to decide priorities in schools other than Roman Catholic schools? Does the Opposition suggest that Parliament would be able to make better judgments on the needs between individual State schools and the State governments concerned? I would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that full information is available to honourable members on every dollar that is made available to independent schools. This information is published, and I have tabled the papers in the House for those honourable members who wish to read them. We also have lists of schools that have been supported by the States in their own State system.
The second part of the Opposition’s amendment refers to an extension of the scheme to cover primary schools in addition to secondary schools. Merely because we are concentrating on secondary schools is not for a moment to deny the importance of libraries in primary schools. We recognise that libraries in primary schools are significant and necessary. But at the same time we have picked out the area that we believe to be of greatest need, and we have also picked out the area for Commonwealth intervention which is the most expensive. A library in a secondary school is much more expensive than a library in a primary school for an equivalent number of students. Merely because we enter this area is not to say that there is not a continuing State obligation to do something for school libraries. It would not be unreasonable to assume that some of the relief that we provide will be able to make it a little easier to provide additional facilities in other areas.
The next part of the amendment refers to recurrent grants for the maintenance of libraries and for the training of teacherlibrarians. The same thing applies. We have decided to provide the capital facilities - the books and the equipment that are necessary for a basic library - to independent schools and, by State decision, to government schools. But there is still an obligation on the Sates, and it has been customary for parents and citizens associations to provide funds for libraries in order to try and establish book stocks. In addition to this, some of the parents and citizens associations have done a very notable job in establishing book stocks in schools, starting almost from nothing. Over a period pf time, parents and citizens who are attached to various schools will find their schools equipped with the modern, up to date sets of books that are necessary. Books for the independent system will be selected by the schools themselves. It should be a much easier job to maintain libraries in a reasonable situation, with modern books coming into the library from time to time, than it is to establish a library virtually from scratch and with very little support. This part of the amendment also refers to the training of teacher-librarians. I have indicated that through the Commonwealth advisory committee on advanced education we will be encouraging colleges of advanced education to establish librarian courses and we will be making advanced education scholarships available for that purpose.
There has been some criticism of the suggestion that we could train librarians in short periods. This was meant to be a provision - I believe it will be - to assist a school that may have somebody who has worked in a library” but who would like some additional training to be able to conduct a library more efficiently than otherwise might be the case. I am also hopeful, as I mentioned in my second reading speech, that the States will establish a central library service and will be able to make those facilities available to the independent schools. This would help them.
The third paragraph of the second part of the amendment concerns priorities in areas of need. We need to examine how this particular programme will work. There will be a standards committee consisting of persons with many different talents. They will be persons who are concerned with education and libraries, and who have wide experience in one or other of those fields. That committee will establish the priorities of the buildings, equipment, materials and books that should be necessary, lt will determine the standards to be used to make a judgment concerning the needs of individual schools. This committee will visit the different schools and will determine the requirements of particular schools. It will say of one school: ‘This is a school of 1 , 000 students and it has no library. So it will need everything’. It might go to another school and find that there is an adequate building but that it needs its book stocks brought up to date. This committee will make these judgments, not the politicians and not my Department. It will be an independent committee that will be able to use its proper judgment on these matters.
The basic information relating to Roman Catholic schools will be provided by the Roman Catholic committee in each State and information relating to other than Roman Catholic schools will be furnished by the non-Roman Catholic Committee. These two committees will be advising on the order of priorities. They will determine the order in which funds will be spent in these two groups of schools. Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggest that he would be able to do better than this? Does he suggest he would be better able to determine the order of priorities within the Catholic system or outside that system than would these particular committees? I suggest that he might be presumptuous if he made that claim. The States will be able to make decisions concerning their own particular order of priorities within their own systems.I believe that they should be able to make that decision more effectively than the Commonwealth, because they are closer to their own system. In moving this amendment, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should inform the House whom he is criticising. He should have the courage to say which particular advisory committee in which particular State he is criticising for not having made funds available in areas of greatest need. I thank those honourable members who have participated in the debate. In particular, I congratulate the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) for his thoughtful and provocative speech.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Barnard’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 4. (J.) The Minister may authorize the payment to a State, under this Act, during the period to which this Act applies, by way of financial assistance, of such amounts as, subject to the next succeeding sub-section he determines. (2.) The Minister shall not authorize payments to a State under the last preceding sub-section that:
exceed, in the aggregate, the amount specified in the Schedule to this Act opposite to the name of the State;
in the case of payments authorized on or before the thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine - exceed, in the aggregate, one-third of that amount; or
in the case of payments authorized on or before the thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and seventy - exceed, in the aggregate, two-thirds of that amount. (3.) Payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to the condition that the amount will be applied by the State, as approved by the Minister, for purposes in connection with libraries at secondary schools and for the acquisition of library material and equipment for use in such libraries.
– I move:
At the second reading stage, I foreshadowed that an amendment would be moved which would stress the Opposition’s view that, in the distribution of the finance which will be made available by the Government to the States for both government and nongovernment schools for the purpose of providing library facilities, together with the equipment and text books that will be required, consideration should be given to areas of greatest need.
– I have examined the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In my opinion its effect would be to alter the destination of the appropriation provided for in the Bill. It is therefore contrary to the provisions of standing order 292. I rule, accordingly, that the amendment is out of order.
– I know, Mr Chairman, that you have given very serious consideration to this matter and I accept your ruling. 1 now move:
That the clause be postponed. as an instruction to the Government:
That it should be a term and condition of any grant to a Slate under this Act that priority shall be given to schools in order of the greatest need and so that, as far as practicable, all children shall have equal access to library facilities. in speaking to the amendment which has now been ruled out of order, I made some points that apply to the amendment which I have just moved. I dealt with the question of priorities and stressed again the Opposition’s assertion that in distributing the finance to be made available for library facilities, associated equipment and text books, the various States should give consideration to areas of greatest need.
During the second reading debate, I said that if one took as an example the expenditure by this Government on the provision of science block facilities one would see immediately that those facilities are not always provided in areas where the greatest need exists. Indeed, if the Government had been prepared to accept the amendment which I moved on behalf of the Opposition at the second reading stage and which would have required that finance be made available to assist in the provision of library facilities not only at secondary schools but also at primary schools, there probably would not have been the same need to move this amendment. I. believe that there is a genuine feeling throughout the country that there are many areas in Australia in which library facilities will be required, just as science blocks may have been required, and in which this kind of assistance will be sorely needed but will never be available because of the limitation imposed by the Bill.
When the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) replied in the second reading debate 1 thought that Mr Deputy Speaker was most generous, because for the first 20 minutes of his his remarks the Minister did not refer to the Bill at all. The Minister took the opportunity - one cannot blame him for doing so if he can - to give to honourable members and to those people who may have been listening to the debate outside the chamber a discourse on the Government’s past record and its programme for the future so far as education is concerned. The Minister ignored completely the points made by the Opposition in the amendment which has now been defeated. That amendment stated clearly that the Opposition believed that the money being provided under this legislation should be distributed on the basis of need and that accordingly there should be a very careful examination of priorities. The Minister pointed out that during the second reading debate some Government supporters had criticised the composition of the committees that had examined the matter of priorities in respect of grants for science laboratories. The Minister was incorrect; no Government supporter has criticised the committees established by the Minister.
I have looked carefully at the composition of the committee which the Minister has appointed to deal with the allocation of finance for school libraries in the various States. The Minister has made a wise selection of persons for the committee. No member of the Opposition would offer criticism of that committee. So it was quite unnecessary for the Minister to make the claim that he made relating to criticism of the committees. But the Opposition believes that the committee appointed to inquire into the allocation of finance for libraries should consider the areas of Australia where the greatest need exists. Surely no Government supporter would deny that there is some merit in our proposal - that the bulk of the figures should be spent in the area where the greatest need exists. I will be interested to hear the Minister on this subject. I trust that he understands that our amendment casts no reflection on any committee which the Government may appoint or which, as in this case, the Government has already appointed. But the fact remains that a committee appointed by the Minister may act only in accordance with the terms of the legislation, and we believe that the legislation is restrictive in this respect. Accordingly, I have moved that clause 4 of the Bill be postponed as an instruction to the Government that finance made available for the provision of libraries and associated facilities be directed, wherever possible, in areas where the greatest need exists.
– The Government does not accept this proposed amendment. I. think it is slightly confused and misconceives or misunderstands the purpose the Government is trying to achieve. I would have thought that most of what we are debating now had been covered in the second reading debate. Let me indicate at the outset that the amendment suggests that all children shall have equal access to library facilities. What precisely does the Opposition mean by that? Docs it. mean all secondary school children or all primary school children? The House earlier decided that primary school children, for the particular reasons that were explained, should not be a part of this scheme, so is this a device of the Opposition to try to have the Committee negate a decision already taken by the House?
This is an area which may have some difficulties. It needs to be understood quite clearly that the Advisory’ Committee on Standards about which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has spoken, determines the standards and thus the amount of funds that will go to a particular school. Committee members visit a school and, in relation to those standards, determine the school’s needs, and they report accordingly. The Standards Committee does not determine priorities. In the second reading debate I indicated to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that he should state in which area he questioned the judgment of those who are assisting the Government in this scheme. He has said that he exonerates the Standards Committee from any criticism. Very well. Does he suggest that the States are to blame for establishing the wrong order of priorities in the State system? Does he suggest that the Roman Catholic advisory committees in each State are to blame for putting forward the wrong order of priorities in Catholic schools? Does he suggest-
– He said thai they should not determine the order of priorities.
– There we have it. According to the honourable member for Hindmarsh the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Roman Catholic committees in the States were not entitled lo determine the order of priorities within their own school system.
– I did not say that at all.
– That is what the honourable member for Hindmarsh said you said, and I suggest that you determine the argument with him.
– I did not say that.
-The honourable member for Hindmarsh said you did.
– I am not the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
– That may be, but the honourable member for Hindmarsh was attempting to explain to the Committee your intention and I suggest that this is an argument not with me but with him. If it is not the Roman Catholic committee that is to blame, why try to upset the existing arrangements for the Roman Catholic schools when they determine the order of need and the priorities for their system in each State? If the criticism does not relate to that area does it relate to committees, other than the Roman Catholic committees, which have a large religious content and which determine the order of priorities for their schools? Where precisely is the criticism directed? Who has been giving wrong advice to the Government in relation to these matters? Is it, as I have said, in the State area? Does the honourable member question the judgment and ability of the States to decide this matter? I suggest that the States should know their own systems best and be able to make a judgment concerning an order of priorities, just as I believe that the committees advising the independent systems should be able to make a judgment concerning their order of priorities. I have confidence in those committees and in the work they are willing to do, and the Government is prepared to accept their advice.
– The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is attempting to dodge his own responsibilities. Earlier this evening he told us that he did not need a national inquiry - he knew all the answers himself. It was tantamount to a vote of no confidence in himself to say that he needed an inquiry. Now he is saying this is all a matter of committees. Where are the committees which have been mentioned? They are not mentioned in the Act or the Bill. They are something that the Minister intends to create. Out of past experience he will create something similar. What is wrong with the Parliament defining a principle? Does that offend the principles of parliamentary government? Of course it does not. It seems to me that committees are fundamental to the way in which we should operate. I do not necessarily have faith in committees of any sort, unless they operate in public and their work is seen and examined before being finally consummated and presented to honourable members. I have no particular confidence in any committee of any sort.
I am interested in the Minister’s great affection for the Roman Catholic faith, ft is interesting that the Roman Catholic who nominated for the seat of the Australian Capital Territory stood no chance at all. If there is any sectarian political party in Australia, it is the Liberal Party. The essence of the contract, as far as schools or any social policy is concerned, is need. It is fair enough for us to say that is the principle on which we will operate. We are trying to see that the House does that. Clause 4 (3.) of the Bill states:
Payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to the condition that the amount will be applied by the State, as approved by the Minister, for purposes in connection with libraries at secondary schools and for the acquisition of library material and equipment for use in such libraries.
I stress the words ‘as approved by tha Minister’. The Minister is the responsible party. He is part of this Parliament and part of the House. His charter runs from the House. I think it is quite competent for the House to say, as the Opposition is saying - the fact that honourable members on the other side say differently does not mean that they are right or wrong or that we are right or wrong - that it accepts the view that the Minister is part of the House and has a duty to accept the responsibility given to him by the House and to receive his directions from the House. That is what we are saying. We are not talking about committees. Committees are not mentioned in the Bill at all. The Minister is the authority, and he is answerable to and is under the direction of the House. This is all that is required.
That was all we wished to say, although we did question the matter of equal access. Our amendment was going to include tha words ‘wherever practicable’. Surely it is logical enough to have an aim, no matter how difficult that aim may be to achieve. That is where we start in most fields of human endeavour. We set up some aim or objective and try to achieve it. It will be very difficult to give any kind of equality to the system of library development, but that ought to be the logical aim of a government sponsored enterprise. There are large areas of deprivation in the Australian education system. For instance, Aboriginals do not get much of a go. In many areas of Australia migrants do not receive anything like the same treatment that is accorded to local citizens. The same would apply in other areas of social and economic classification. AH we say is that there are two principles that any Australian operation ought to include. The first one is that needs come first. The second is that there should be equality as between all Australians. That is a decent Australian principle. It is a Labor Party principle, and I think it is a Socialist principle. A House constructed in the way this one is ought to adopt it.
– I would like to comment on clause 4. I believe that the Minister for Education and Science was far too generous in his reply to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). The proposition that has been put forward by the Opposition is nothing but political humbug. Earlier in the day the Deputy Leader of the Opposition admitted the success of the science laboratories scheme. The provisions contained in this Bill will operate similarly. In one breath the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that the kind of scheme in question has operated and he has seen the success of it, and in another breath he says that he wants to change the system. This is so much humbug. We could be excused if we thought that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was only performing a political stunt on behalf of his own Party when he moved his amendment. The Minister has pointed out that the system has operated efficiently and with great success in relation to science laboratories. He has put forward a simple proposition here tonight. Yet, in addition to moving this amendment, earlier tonight we saw the Deputy Leader of the Opposition shift his ground. As I said, one could be excused for thinking that this is only a political stunt to avoid the conflict within the Australian Labor Party in regard to the timidity of its approach to aid to independent schools. I ask the Minister not to say anything further. I feel that clause 4 should be put to the vote as it now stands.
That the clause be postponed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 6.
– I move:
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill:
The Minister shall cause a statement to be laid before each House of the Parliament as soon as practicable after the end of each year during the period to which this Act applies setting out the payments that have been authorised by him under this Act during that year and specifying the schools in relation to which payments have been made and the amount of the payment made to each of those schools, and stating the principles upon which grants are made under the Act and the manner in which such principles have been applied in each State during that year’.
The terms of the clause are quite clear. The clause merely requires the Minister to provide information to the Parliament each year indicating how the money has been spent on school libraries, where the money has been spent and indicating priorities. Surely when one considers the amount that is involved in this legislation which we have now passed and which we debated this afternoon - it provides for an expenditure of $27m during the next triennium or $9m for each of the next 3 years - it is not unreasonable for the Opposition to request the Minister and the Government to make available this sort of information to the Parliament. There are very few statutory bodies in this country over which the Parliament exercises some authority which are not required to furnish an annual report to the Parliament. This would be a fundamental requirement in any democracy. Although for a long time we in Australia have been spending large sums of money - millions of dollars under the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Act - on various schools throughout the Commonwealth, no information has been provided to the Parliament on the way that the money has been spent.
Under the terms of my proposed amendment we merely request the Government to provide for the information of honourable members a statement of the payments that have been authorised under this measure, the schools in relation to which payments have been made, the amount paid to each school, the principles upon which grants have been made, and the manner in which the principles have been applied. This amendment has no bearing on the standards committee that the Minister has appointed to deal with the allocation of funds to school libraries under the terms of this Bill. I have indicated already that I, and, I am sure, other Opposition members, do not disagree with the appointment of a committee of this kind, but surely it is no reflection on the committee to suggest that the information to which honourable members are entitled should be made available each year in the Parliament. Surely the Minister will not seriously suggest that he would not be able to present a document of the kind referred to in the amendment. He has had an opportunity on other occasions to table in this place documents relating to matters of this kind.
The Opposition believes that the information sought should be available to Parliament. It is on this basis that we have moved this amendment requesting the Minister to provide annually the information that we think ought to be available not only to honourable members but also to the country generally. I believe that an amendment of this kind surely could not be objected to by honourable members opposite. It makes no reflection on any member of the standards committee; it merely requests that certain information be made available to the Parliament. The Opposition believes that under the terms of the amendment, if it is carried, there will be available to the Parliament information which obviously should be available. 1 therefore commend the amendment to the Committee.
– Basically the view in relation to this amendment is that it is unnecessary because the information will be made available to the Parliament insofar as it is within our power to make it available. I shall explain that in a moment. But first I want to outline what has happened in relation to the science facilities scheme, because it will show that full information has in fact been made available. In the first instance the reports and publications of the standards committee in relation to the standards and sorts of things that are needed in a laboratory are freely available to any honourable member and they are certainly available to all schools when they arc planning their laboratories. They are designed as valuable guidelines indicating the sorts of things that are necessary. The standards will be set, will be known, will be public and will be available.
In addition, the practice from the inception of the science facilities scheme has been to make available to honourable members lists of schools that have been given grants, showing when those grants have been paid and the total that has been made available to each school. 1 have here, for example, a copy of a document that was tabled in the House of Representatives on 20th March of this year, lt was a consolidation of all the grants that had been made up to that time and that would be made up to the end of the financial year. Then I have a copy of a document that was made available about the end of August of this year. It shows the grants that will be made from the funds that have been allocated throughout this triennium. There could be some revision of this list, because it may bc that a school will find that for various reasons it will not be able to build when it thought it could build and its grant could be transferred to another school on the advice of the appropriate advisory committee. The same sort of information for the library scheme will be made available to the Parliament. Thus, in the independent school area, the House already freely has all the information that is sought.
We have operated on a degree of trust in relation to the State schools. I think it is reasonable that we should. The State authorities are responsible, elected authorities administering their own State systems. They provide us with lists of schools at which laboratories have been built with Commonwealth funds, but up to the present we have not insisted on the detailed information that we get separately in dealing with the independent schools. I believe that information from the States as to the schools at which laboratories have been built with Commonwealth funds is adequate. We would be seeking the same information in relation to the library scheme. The only addition to the information already available that would be supplied if the amendment were carried is the completeness that the honourable member might think is desirable in relation to State schools. I believe the position is covered because of the responsibility of the State Ministers, the State departments and the State Parliaments who administer the education system in their own areas. I do not think the amendment is necessary.
– I do not know of what the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is afraid. He says we will have the information. ‘We’? Who? Does ‘we’ mean the Department or the Minister? Is the material to be buried in Hansard, in the archives or in a pigeon hole somewhere? It seems to me that the Minister is not exercising his proper responsibility to the Parliament. There is a difference between an official report demanded by an Act and an occasional report that the Minister makes to the Parliament. On the whole 1 do not have any complaint with the material that has been presented whenever we have asked for it, but I believe that as a continuing system it is desirable that we lay down the principle contained in the amendment. A report is accessible in a way that is different from the ordinary material that is presented to us as a paper, in a statement or in a speech. This is a principle of public accountability.
I am not concerned about the committees. As I said earlier, I have no particular faith or lack of faith in them. I do not know who the members of the committees are. The committees are not statutory bodies. They are appointed and they are the creatures of the Minister. As a part of the parliamentary system, we should get into the habit of making all material and all information readily available and consistently available as a right. It is not a question of lack of confidence in anybody. lt is a question of a system that will enable ordinary members of the Parliament to find out what goes on. I cannot quite understand why the Minister and the honourable members opposite who always talk about the rights of the Parliament cannot simply accept this amendment as a reasonable proposal.
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr Barnard’s amendment) be so inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 36
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) - by leave - read a third time.
– I present the fifth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed
That the House do now adjourn.
– Potato growers in Australia are greatly alarmed at reports that a large influx of processed potatoes will arrive from the United States of America. This is causing a great deal of distress among potato producers because it is expected that the timing of the arrival of these processed potatoes will be such that the domestic market for Australian suppliers wil be dislocated.
Reports within Australia indicate that a giant Australian chain store is negotiating to import the equivalent of 6 million lb of processed potatoes from the United States of America. This will be the equivalent of 30% of the Australian annual processed potato production. Not much understanding of the potato industry is required to appreciate just how this will affect the livelihood of many potato producers in Australia.I repeat that the imports that are expected to arrive from the United States of America will be the equivalent of 30% of the Australian processed potato production. Frankly, this could spell ruin for quite a number of potato producers in Australia. It certainly raises many problems for potato producers in my own electorate who are producing in the Lockyer, Fassifern and Brisbane valleys.
I believe that it is grossly unfair of the Government to remain indifferent to this development. The Government has the power to apply anti-dumping measures against these imports. It is quite clear that this quantity of goods and the price at which they are reported to have been obtained indicate that they are to be dumped in this country at a price below that at which the same commodity is being marketed in the United States of America. Quite clearly, it would be an unconscionable act of indifference on the part of the Government to ignore this situation.
Primary producers have more than sufficient problems in fighting the cost squeeze and trying to make their enterprises successful in the inflationary situation that is the economy of today. Frankly, I never cease to be amazed that the Country Party section of the Government does not speak more vigorously in criticism of this sort of development. From what 1 can gather, imports of these processed potatoes have already reached the equivalent of 1.5 million lb, representing about 7.5% of Australian production, which is estimated at about 20 million lb a year. The people engaged in primary industry have no protection against this sort of unfair pressure being directed against them. It is irresponsible of the elected government, which is supposed to represent the interests of the people, to allow this sort of thing to occur.
This is not the first time that this kind of thing has happened. Significantly the timing is such that these importations of potatoes, which in the past have arrived from New Zealand as well as other places, have come to Australia at the same time as Australian grown potatoes are going on to the market. This depresses the price and, of course, depresses the price to the primary producer. Anyone faintly familiar with the production of vegetables, especially of potatoes and onions, is well aware that there are cyclical movements, and that the people who produce potatoes and onions regularly run into a period of low prices because of over-supply on the Australian market. It is bad enough when this occurs because of the domestic cyclical movement. It is worse when the local producers’ income is depressed because of the wilful neglect of the Government.
It is not only the potato industry which is being adversely affected because of the Government’s action or inattention, and it is peculiar that all these things should be occurring at once. The dairying industry in Australia at present is in a vague, disillusioned state. We were supposed by now to have in operation a dairying industry rehabilitation scheme, but nothing has been done about it although it is nearly 3 years since the scheme was first mentioned in this Parliament by the former Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) and it is more than 12 months since the present Minister (Mr Anthony) discussed the scheme and indicated that it would be implemented before the end of the year. We have made no progress and the problems of the dairying industry not only continue but become increasingly more serious.
We have the incredible situation in which the Government promised, a little over 12 months ago, to provide, as election bait, about $24m for the Ord River scheme and a somewhat similar amount for the Emerald irrigation project. The amount provided in the case of the Ord River was for the second stage of the scheme. Both schemes are largely dependent for their success on the production of cotton and in neither case can cotton production be undertaken without a bounty. Yet the Government proposes to eliminate the bounty. Just as potato growers are suddenly confronted with thenpresent situation, because of lack of Government action, of low prices and of capital equipment not earning the return that it should, we now have cotton producers whose capital equipment not only will not earn the return that it should but also, because the Government will eliminate the cotton bounty, will be impossible to sell, because obviously there will be no market for it.
The sugar industry is on the verge of bankruptcy despite the urgent pleading of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and his presentation of a quite realistic and practical plan for the stabilisation of that industry. Wheat producers are on the verge of revolt. Beef producers have problems of their own with quotas which the Government is voluntarily applying, but which could easily become a permanent handicap, especially as five new countries are now trying to negotiate for the supply of beef to the United States of America. In whichever direction we move in the field of primary industry we see serious problems. There are grave impediments which have developed largely because of the wilful action of the Government or its wilful lack of action - wilful action in regard to policies which quite clearly will undermine the prosperity and the basis on which these primary industries have been built, and wilful lack of action in that the Government does nothing when something is urgently needed.
I have already mentioned the cost squeeze. The honourable member for Dawson reminds me of this and it is worthy of repetition. The cost squeeze is much harder on the primary producer than it is on other members of the community. Why, for goodness’ sake, has the Country Party not taken the initiative in this House and proposed a motion- -it could easily do this - criticising the lack of action in this field and deploring inactivity in some other field as in the case of the potato producers that I mentioned, or the excessively damaging action of some policy such as the withdrawal of the cotton bounty? There is no doubt that if the Country Party proposes a motion relating to any of these things the Australian Labor Party - provided the motion is responsible and practical - will wholeheartedly support it.
It is clear that the Country Party with the support of the Labor Party is quite competent to defeat Government proposals which are resulting in the undermining of important sectors of primary industry, and that we can between us create new policies which will be beneficial to primary industry. If the Country Party does not take action in this field, if it does not support us, if it does not give an initiative in this House, quite clearly the presence of its members in this House as representatives of primary producers is a case of false pretences.
There has been no evidence in the time that I have been here that the Country Party has fought vigorously to the point of voting positively on some issue in support of country people. Country Party members are prepared to bark but they are not prepared to bite. In view of the deplorable situation developing in so many fields of primary industry, we hope that from now on the Country Party not only will bark but also will bite the Government, will support the Labor Party, and will see that some worthwhile policies are introduced which will alleviate the serious pressures that are depressing and in some cases destroying the future of the primary producers of this country.
– I wish to mention tonight a matter that concerns me personally and which might have an implication for other members of Paliament. A little while ago it was announced that the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in South Australia were moving into a new building. We are about to move into very fine offices on one complete floor in a beautiful new building. I think honourable members would agree with me that this is the time for anyone who wants to use his intelligence a bit, to try to modernise his system and introduce some efficiency - or further efficiency - into his operations, to have a look at the setup. In my own limited fashion I attempted to do this. I brought in a friend from a market efficiency firm to advise me on office layout. We then brought in another expert in office efficiency and the flow of materia] from one section to another.
As a result of these inquiries I wrote to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) some time ago and requested that he allow me to purchase a lateral filing system. Let me briefly explain this to honourable members. A lateral filing cabinet projects about I foot 6 inches into the centre of one’s secretary’s office annexe, which in this case is a rather long but narrow room, in contrast to the normal filing cabinet supplied to members of Paliament, which can intrude, with drawers open, up to 4 feet 3 inches into this narrow enclosure. 1 regarded this as a reasonable request. I regarded it as an even more reasonable request when I offered to pay the $50 needed to buy the particular type of files that bang in this lateral filing system. I must admit that the next step in the process was that in personal conversation with the Minister I was assured that he had already given permission to another member of Parliament to obtain such a lateral filing system. But yesterday I received- a letter saying that this was not allowed, because of the pro forma complement - if that is the right word - of the equipment allowed to back bench members of Parliament. In other words, it does not matter a damn at this point of time whether or not we are going into new offices. We are harnessed with the same desks and the same old chairs, which are quite out of touch with the tone of the new office building. But worse still, we are harnessed with equipment that does not aid efficiency of representation of one’s electorate, or efficiency that statisfies oneself if one is trying to make an improvement at this time of a changeover of offices.
Tonight I would like to leave the argument at that and say that I totally disapprove of the lack of imagination on the part of the Government, if its policy is expressed through the Minister for the Interior, in not allowing members to help themselves by donating money towards meeting the cost of providing facilities for improved efficiency. If this is the sort of treatment which over 25 years makes some honourable members finish up with a chip on their shoulder, and perform rather, I would like to announce my warning that in my present mood I can more than see their point of view. If an honourable member is prepared to put down cash and help himself I think it is time the Government altered its policy, got a bit lenient and tried to help members increase their efficiency of operations.
Over the last 12 months one of my jobs has been to act as a member of the illfated Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. On this committee we have attempted to plan for the future. To do this we have attempted to provide facilities for office accommodation that will cope with the increased business that this House will have to face in the future. Honourable members can imagine my confusion when having spent 9 months or so doing this, having made what I regard as a sensible allocation for space for further secretarial help in the future, we are now faced with the fact that in our peculiar and loose organisational structure files are moved in bulk from home to Canberra and back again, if there is room for them at that point of time. Those members who have seen the lateral filing system in operation will know that not only does it intrude far into the room, but the files are butting onto the occupants of the room. At a glance he can see what he has and what he has not got in the files. For my own purpose, and for my ordinary sort of mentality, I am quite certain that the installation of this system would be a progressive move.
To make me crosser still, the Minister, in his reply turning down my request, said that my complement of furniture has been provided to me and that the Department does not feel that it could find alternative use for my present office equipment. I can assure the Minister that this is quite incorrect. In our new office accommodation we have visitors’ rooms which we did not have before. Furthermore, I know for a fact that the officer from the Department of the Interior in Adelaide had provision for office equipment quite apart from that. I find that this is a very slim excuse. I hope that over the years the Government will do as it has done, for instance, in providing copying machines in our offices now. I give the Government credit for this, because this is an example of moving with the times. These copying machines have been of tremendous assistance to honourable members who are prepared to work hard in their electorates. I hope that this spirit of progressive movement will continue so that people do not get frustrated at the fact that they cannot become as efficient in their jobs as they would like to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.44 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated;
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The information requested can only be provided with respect to category 1 (a) (i) relating to the number of dwellings provided, to category I (b) relating to the number of homes financed, and to categories 1 (e) and 1 (f) relating to the number of loans for new houses. The latest year for which the information is available in respect of category 1(a) (i), is 1966-67 and in respect of categories 1 (b) 1 (e) and 1 (0, 1967-68. The percentages requested cannot be provided because, the information available does not relate to completions of new homes in the particular periods referred to. The available information is shown in the following tables. table i
COMMONWEALTH AND STATE HOUSING AGREEMENTS: NUMBER OF DWELLINGS PROVIDED(a)
WAR SERVICE HOMES ACT: NUMBER OF HOMES FINANCED(a) STATES AND TERR ITO RlES(b)
NUMBER OF LOANS FOR NEW HOUSES
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
On what occasions and for what purposes have Royal Australian Navy ships visited South African ports since South Africa was expelled from the Commonwealth?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
HMAS Otway visitedSimonstown from 23rd to 28th August 1968, and Durban from 3 1st August to 3rd September 1968, when on passage to Australia from the United Kingdom where she was built. The purpose of the visits was for replenishment of fuel and victuals and forcrew recreation.
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19681024_reps_26_hor61/>.