26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr DOBIE presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that because of increased costs of educating children attending Catholic schools relief is urgently required.
The petitioners pray that, as a first step in 1969 towards relieving the immediate difficulties of Catholic schools in Australia, the Commonwealth Government make grants available equivalent to a capitation grant of $50 per primary and secondary pupil, per annum, for running costs, in whatever form the Government finds it is able to make the grant and that, subsequently, the combined Commonwealth and State subsidies for running costs should be progressively raised to at least half the cost of educating a primary and secondary child in the various State systems.
Petition received and read.
Mr ARTHUR, Mr GRAHAM, Mr MUNRO, Sir JOHN CRAMER and Mr HUGHES presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth petitions showing that because of increased costs of educating children attending Catholic schools relief is urgently required.
The petitioners pray that, as a first step in 1969 towards relieving the immediate difficulties of Catholic schools in Australia, the Commonwealth Government make grants available equivalent to a capitation grant of $50 per primary and secondary pupil, per annum, for running costs, in whatever form the Government finds it is able to make the grant and that, subsequently, the combined Commonwealth and State subsidies for running costs should be progressively raised to at least half the cost of educating a primary and secondary child in the various State systems.
Petitions severally received.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question. Is the honourable gentleman aware that Tom Jones, the Welsh singer, received $75,000 for a 15-day engagement at the Chevron Hotel in Sydney? Must Tom Jones pay over $40,000 to Australia in taxation upon this amount that he earned, because he is a citizen of the United Kingdom? Would Tom Jones have been required to pay absolutely no taxation at all upon this amount to Australia if he was a citizen of the United States of America?
– I do not know enough about Tom Jones, what he earns or the amount of his taxation to be able to make a definitive statement on what the honourable gentleman has said. But I have little doubt that, accurate as he usually is, on this occasion the contents of his question are accurate as well. As to the last part of his question, 1 doubt whether it was true. I will make inquiries and let the honourable gentleman know.
– I refer the Minister for Education and Science to the report of a speech made by the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, Sir Alan Westerman, on Tuesday, the report being contained in the Press yesterday, when he was addressing a forum organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, in which he stated, among other things, that Australian tertiary institutions should be ‘dragged screaming’-
-Order! The honourable member will not be in order in quoting from a newspaper report.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr Speaker. I refer therefore to a report of an address made by the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, Sir Alan Westerman, in which he is alleged to have said that Australian universities or Australian tertiary institutions should be dragged screaming into the twentieth century. Does the Minister accept this apparently wild and extravagant criticism?
– I did see the original report. Knowing the forum in which the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry was speaking, I had thought that the criticisms might have been directed at some particular and local activity of universities. But, having since read the speech in full, I find that the criticisms were widespread and general, covering all university activities. As such, I certainly cannot agree with them. In recent years, universities have had three major things to contend with- (Mr Uren interjecting) -
-Order! Last week I reminded the House that the Chair does not approve of the calling of christian names within the House. Further, I would suggest to the honourable member that all interjections are out of order. I call the Minister for Education and Science.
– In recent years, Australian universities have had three matters to contend with. The first is the extremely rapid expansion to provide the places necessary for students in Australian universities. The second is that this has been a period in which curricula have been changing extremely rapidly, also because of changes and advances in-
– Mr Speaker, 1 take a point of order. My point of order is this: It is contrary to the Standing Orders for a Minister in reply to a question relative to a named officer, even though that officer is the Head of the Department administered by the Leader of the Country Party, to use that answer as an excuse for attacking that officer -
-Order! The honourable member shall not debate the question. There is no substance in the point of order. I call the Minister for Education and Science.
-The third matter with which universities have to contend is changing and evolving universitystudent relationships. There are problems involved in all these three areas. They are recognised and I believe that they are being acted upon. I fail to understand how anyone with a real understanding and knowledge of what the universities are doing and the changing university scene can make the thoroughly widespread criticisms that were in fact made. Having said that, I would like to say that the problems of business management, which were in large measure the subject of the particular forum, do present some special difficulties. These are problems that are being examined very closely by the Government and by its advisers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Territories. Is it a fact that of approximately 231,000 children out of approximately 613,000 school age children attending primary and secondary schools in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, approximately 143,000, or 61%, are attending mission schools? Are both Administration and mission schools short of teachers? Are the authorities of both types of schools endeavouring to recruit trained teachers in Australia? Do State education department teachers who are appointed to teach in Administration schools in the Territory have all rights and privileges preserved with their respective education departments? Do the same conditions apply to teachers who wish to teach in mission schools, or are they expected to resign from the State department and forfeit all rights? If the latter is so, will the Minister confer with all State Ministers for Education with a view to reaching agreement for the same conditions to apply whether a departmental teacher wishes to teach in an Administration or a mission school in the Territory?
-Order! Before I call the Minister, I point out that on several occassions I. have reminded the House about the length of questions. Many honourable members are anxious to ask questions, but due to the length of questions and the length of answers question time is becoming less and less advantageous to members who wish to ask questions. I ask honourable members and Ministers in future to endeavour to keep questions and answers as brief as possible.
– It is true that we receive considerable assistance from State education authorities in the matter of the secondment of teachers to Administration schools. There have been cases in which teachers have resigned from the State education authorities to take up positions in the Territory. Of course, their rights are not preserved in those cases. I am not aware of any secondment system operating for mission schools, as the honourable member suggests, and of course the recruitment of teachers for mission schools is a matter for the missions themselves. At this stage I am unaware of any problems confronting the missions. No representations have been made to me in this regard.
– I have a short question for the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is the present waterfront trouble in Hobart due to local problems or to the presence of a large number of mainland transferees for the fruit season?
– My information is that the recent trouble on the Hobart waterfront, which I am happy to say has now been settled, was due substantially to the infusion of about 160 workers, which is a very large proportion relative to the total labour force employed in Hobart, during the fruit season. The record of Hobart waterside workers is one of a degree of continuity, common sense and relative tranquility. But, as honourable members will appreciate, in Melbourne there is a very large and powerful section of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia which is determined to do all it can to disrupt the introduction of permanent employment and to embarrass its own federal executive.
While 1 am answering the honourable member for Denison, I might add that honourable members will have seen a series of articles in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ concerning current problems on the waterfront. In my view these articles give a somewhat misleading or distorted picture in some respects. For instance, there is the picture of rising costs, particularly with the European conference, which is one of the main conferences. The only thing that has happened with the European conference’s freight rates since 1966 is that in 1968 there was a reduction in the rates which was publicly attributed in part at the time to an improvement in the handling of cargo on the wharves. I am preparing a statement on the general position, which must be causing all honourable members some concern, and I propose to make it available to honourable members. The statement is nearly completed. If it is not finished today it will certainly be ready next week.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether there is a binding obligation in the ANZUS or any other treaty or undertaking which requires immediate nuclear retaliation by the United States on any foreign power which may launch a nuclear attack on the US defence installations situated on Australian soil. If not, will be demand from the US a public declaration and warning to would-be aggressors that a nuclear attack on any US base in Australia will be treated as an attack on the US and that nuclear retaliation by the US will immediately follow such an attack notwithstanding the certain destruction of the many millions of US lives which would result from such action?
– The question is of course, quite hypothetical at this stage, but looking at the terms of the ANZUS treaty, they require that in the event of a threat to the mainland of Australia - and the nature of that threat is not spelt out or not limited - or in the event of an attack on Australian forces in the Pacific, then the two countries will consult in accordance with their constitutional processes. I believe it to be beyond question that a country like the United States does not enter lightly into a treaty of that kind, and is not to be assumed to be reluctant to accept its obligations under a treaty of that kind even though it does require action in accordance with their constitutional processes.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will he inform the House as to the outcome of the joint Australia-New Zealand Peas and Beans Panel meeting which was recently held in Auckland?
– The meeting which was held in Auckland recently was from every point of view quite satisfactory in that it demonstrated that this system which we have evolved of industry panels is a satisfactory and effective one in dealing with these difficult situations.
– I rise to a point of order. This is the time for questions without notice. This is quite obviously a question on notice. They always seem to come, particularly from Country Party members to Country Party Ministers.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– The panel, consisting of growers and processors and Government representatives from both countries which was established at our suggestion, sets out to assemble the facts of a situation and to reach the best conclusion. What has been done here is that the panel has agreed upon the quantity of peas and beans which can pass in either direction across the Tasman in circumstances which would preserve satisfactory prices, and on the basis of those conclusions the trade will now proceed with safety to the producers of peas and beans in Australia.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. The Minister may recollect the speech which he made yesterday - although if he does not wish to I would not blame him - in which he dealt in his usual grandiloquent manner with the subject of age and invalid pensions, and in which he indicated that they were at a more generous level now than they had been at any stage in the post-war period. Has the Minister had an opportunity to study a table which was submitted in answer to a question which 1 directed to him on notice and to which he replied yesterday, and which shows that the standard rate of invalid and age pensions would have to be increased by Si a week to be comparable to the real purchasing power and the relationship which the pension rate had to the per capita real gross national product in 1949 under a Labor Government? Will he take immediate steps therefore to increase the standard rate of the age and invalid pension by $1 a week to restore this purchasing power and relative-
-Order! The question that the honourable member for Oxley is asking now involves a matter of policy and as such it would be definitely out of order. I suggest that the honourable member ask his question.
– I ask the Minister: ls he not distressed and embarrassed that the present rate of pension should bear this deficiency of $1 a week compared with the rate of pension and the relative value it had to the per capita gross national product provided under a previous Labor administration? What steps does he propose to rectify this deficiency?
– Like the House, I am neither distressed nor embarrassed by the grandiloquence of the honourable member for Oxley. But I do suggest to him that he is somewhat confused in his figures. L will endeavour to straighten them out for him. 1 repeat that at every budget of recent times the real purchasing power of the pension has been greater than ever before. This was true of the last Budget and the facts and the figures remain as I have stated.
– I rise on a point of order. Implicit in the statement of the Minister for Social Services is an assertion that information he supplied to me yesterday is incorrect-
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Education and Science. Has the honourable gentleman seen a report in a reputable newspaper to the effect that a new school house in Alice Springs is being so constructed that it could be converted into a blast proof shelter? In view of the implications of this report, would the Minister tell the House how much truth there is in this allegation?
– This was a fine piece of imaginative writing which I did see, I think, in one or two newspapers. I think the writer went so far as to say that the school had been in fact designed as a blast proof shelter, not that it could be converted to such. These consideration have never entered into the design or construction of this school. I understand that the school has been constructed largely out of a local stone which blends with the local landscape. I understand that in many other buildings in the area, including a number of churches, this stone has been used. The article mentioned in particular 9 cwt concrete stone louvres. This matter seemed to have some particular importance to the author of the article. In fact, these concrete stone louvres have been replaced or are to be replaced with aluminium frame louvres which will be filled with styrene foam. This writing is just a piece of imagination and nothing else.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. Five weeks ago his Department and the Queensland Department of Industrial Development issued at Port Hedland a brochure on the resources and industry of central Queensland which made particular reference to the governmental action required to reduce the exceptional electricity costs in that region. A fortnight ago the Prime Minister told the honourable member for Wide Bay that this was a meeting - the first for 21 months - between the appropriate Ministers of the governments of the Commonwealth, Queensland and Western Australia. I ask the Minister if in fact this meeting was attended by the Queensland Minister for Industrial Development or by any Queensland Minister. Has he himself since met any of the Queensland Ministers, and if so, where?
– The meeting that was held at Port Hedland was a meeting on northern development. Unfortunately, at the last moment, owing to a State election, it was impossible for the Queensland Premier to attend so he was represented by three of his senior officers. A most effective meeting was held, and we discussed a great number of matters which are of interest in northern development. As I say, there was effective representation. I spoke with the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, who was particularly sorry that he was unable to attend, but I will be having a discussion with him later.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I ask whether his attention has been drawn to reports that the honourable member for Yarra said at a meeting at Monash University that he supported people giving unspecified aid to the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. He went on, and I quote from the ‘Herald’-
– The honourable member will not be in order if he quotes from a newspaper.
– He went on to say, as is reported:
I think I have given some myself but the security people will be hard pressed to prove that.
I ask the Minister: If such an action should be proven, would it render the honourable member for Yarra liable for prosecution under the Defence Force Protection Act?
– Members of Parliament are, of course, just ordinary citizens subject to the law in the same way as everyone else is. If, in fact, a breach of the law were proved against members of this House or the other place the ordinary processes of the law would apply, subject to their being in a position to perform their duties and the law not reaching into Parliament. I did read the Press reports, not only in Melbourne newspapers but in Sydney newspapers, of the statement that was alleged to have been made. I am not able to confirm or deny that the remarks that the honourable member for Yarra supported the giving of aid to the National Liberation Front were in fact made. However, I notice that they have not been denied, and I notice the Australian Labor Party has not dissociated itself from this policy. It looks as though there may be a change in policy when a member of the front bench of the Opposition comes out in favour of supporting the National Liberation Front, against whom our own soldiers are fighting.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. In view of the grave shortage of building land in the electorate of Kingsford-Smith and the fact that we have now entered the atomic age, will the Minister consider handing over the outmoded Long Bay rifle range, which covers an area of 300 to 400 acres, to the local authorities and provide that it be made the subject of public ballot for those in urgent need of home building land, especially the young ex-serviceman returning home from the Vietnam war?
– The use of Long Bay rifle range by the Army has been considered on a number of occasions. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the result of those considerations indicates that the rifle range is still a requirement for the Army, both for the Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces, and al this stage my Department has no intention of seeking to dispose of it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services in his capacity as Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. Has the Minister seen a report in today’s Press referring to the anguish of an Aboriginal chieftain over the intrusion of a mining company into a sacred tribal place on Gove Peninsula? The report refers to the bulldozing of a rock face sacred to Aboriginals, which surely is analogous to the desecration of a church. Can the Minister say what he is doing to prevent such intrusions which are causing distress to the Aboriginals?
– I did not see the report. As it happens, Dr Coombs of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs is in the area. I have asked for a first hand report on the occurrence. I neither accept nor reject what is in the newspaper; it may be true. This is something that requires verification. I think I should make it clear that although policy in regard to Aboriginals and Aboriginal reserves in the Northern Territory is my prerogative, subject, of course, to Cabinet direction, the administration of that policy is entirely in the hands of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior. I have asked as a matter of policy that sacred places be enumerated and preserved. I have no doubt that my colleague has been taking appropriate action in that regard. As regards the particular incident to which the honourable member has referred, I shall be in touch with my colleague. 1 shall get a first hand report and
I shall certainly follow it up. I shall be very surprised if my colleague has not been taking adequate action to preserve, in accordance with policy, the sacred places in this area.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. Is there any truth in the persistent reports that the United States Government is negotiating to establish an Omega communications base in north eastern Tasmania? If the Minister has any knowledge of this matter will he tell the House what stage negotiations have reached and whether it is anticipated that the base will be established?
– I am aware that for some lime there has been a proposal in the mind of the United States to see established somewhere in this area, which would cover the southern Tasman, what has been called an Omega navigation facility. No proposition has been put to the Australian Government. The Government has permitted United States engineers to make certain surveys and inquiries. 1 assure the honourable gentleman from the outset that even if such a station were proposed and accepted - I repeat that no such proposal has been made - it would have no communications capacity whatever.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I refer to the tragic outburst of racial violence inside Malaysia. Because of the increasingly close and significant role which Australia is playing with both Malaysia and Singapore will the Government use its most earnest and friendly endeavours to keep close to the leaders of both nations in an endeavour to frustrate the efforts of those who would try to polarise the emotions of either nation along racialist lines?
– There can be no question but that the Australian Government would seek to keep close to the leaders of Malaysia and of Singapore. This has been our continuing policy and will continue to be our policy. It is tragic that there should have been riots in Kuala Lumpur with apparently racial origins. I think perhaps I should at this stage make clear to the House the attitude of the Australian Government to any involvement in such racial riots. I can best do this, I think, by repeating some of the words in the statement I made to this House on 25th February. I said:
Our forces will not, of course, be there
That is, in Malaysia or Singapore - or remain there unless their presence continues to be actively desired by the governments of the countries in which they are stationed. While there, they are not intended for use, and will not be used, for the maintenance of internal civil law and order which is the responsibility of the government concerned.
That, too, will continue to be the policy of the Australian Government. In the meanwhile one must hope that this outburst will die down and that that area will1 be able to return to the racial harmony which, with sporadic outbreaks over the years, has generally applied in the area.
– My question to the Minister for Science and Education arises from a request at a largely attended meeting held at St Mary’s, New South Wales on the 4th of this month, that was called to stress the urgent need for Government assistance to independent schools. Will the Minister amplify the widely publicised statements made by the Attorney-General to the meeting and say what action the Commonwealth intends to take to assist government and non-government schools to meet the crisis in education? Does the Minister intend to offer payment of salaries of lay teachers in non-government schools?
-The Commonwealth’s attitude in this matter has been made quite plain over a considerable time. More recently it has been made clear in a letter from the Prime Minister to the Premier of New South Wales, who had asked the Commonwealth to provide additional assistance to independent schools. The Premier sought permission to have the Prime Minister’s letter published. This has been done. Briefly, the Prime Minister said in this letter that the Commonwealth is examining what further assistance might be provided to the independent schools and that it recognises the problems involved. It also pointed out, however, that significant budgetary implications would be involved in any decisions that might be made. 1 have nothing to add to that. The position is quite clearly set out in that letter. Those in charge of and responsible for the independent schools in Australia fully understand the Commonwealth’s approach to the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the proposed S25m dairy farm consolidation scheme. Has further progress been made in negotiations with the States concerning this proposal? Has the stage yet been reached when the Government can make a firm decision concerning the implementation of the scheme? Is it possible that it will be implemented early in the coming financial year?
– Negotiations have continued with the States to solicit their support for the Commonwealth’s proposal. A reply that the Prime Minister has received from the Premier of New South Wales, who was speaking on behalf of a number of Stale Premiers on this matter, accepts the general proposals that the Commonwealth put forward but indicates a desire to negotiate further on the actual financial arrangements that were put to the States. However, to help honourable members understand the difficulties of the negotiations, and the position generally, I am prepared to make a statement to this House next week outlining progress to this stage.
– 1 ask the Prime Minister a question. When he gave an answer to the honourable member for Wide Bay on 1st May about the meeting at Port Hedland from 8th to 10th April between appropriate Ministers of the Governments of the Commonwealth, Queensland and Western Australia, did the right honourable gentleman know, as the Minister for National Development has just told me, that no Queensland Minister attended the meeting? I point out to the right honourable gentleman that in his reply on 1st May about this meeting from 8th to 10th April he made no reference to officers attending that meeting, or any earlier meeting, or having the right to attend such meetings.
– I do not recollect whether the question was on notice.
– It was on notice.
– Then clearly the answer given was given on information supplied to me by those who know about those meetings, which were not directly under my administration. Having been supplied to me, it was supplied then in good faith to the House. No doubt it might have been supplied on the understanding that the Premier of Queensland was going to attend the meeting. That I do not know. But in fact, as the Minister has pointed out, he did not attend, at the last moment I gather, and senior officials attended instead.
The answer to the Leader of the Opposition on this matter is no, I did not know that the Premier of Queensland or a Queensland Minister had not attended; had been informed that they had attended; and had supplied that answer in good faith.
– I direct a question to the Minister-in-Charge of the House. In the event of a disagreement between the two Houses on the siting of the new parliament house is there any mechanism under which a joint sitting of both Houses can be sought in order to resolve the matter?
– This has been discussed by several honourable members and I think that it is a matter which would rest in the hands of Mr Speaker and of the President of the Senate.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. What steps is the Government taking to induce the Indonesian Government to act with greater humanity in West Irian in its efforts to have the people of that area agree to incorporation in Indonesia? Why, when we spend lives so willingly in Vietnam, are we so silent about the behaviour of our nearest neighbours? Is this an act of national timidity on our part?
– The honourable gentleman should be well aware that under the New York agreement of 1962 the Government of Indonesia is itself responsible for the maintenance of law and order in West
Irian. I would imagine that the honourable member would be very reluctant to interfere in the internal matters of another State.
– Is the Attorney-General aware of the concern and alarm that I expressed in this House in the early hours of this morning when I referred to the monstrous and wicked civil rights destroying so-called watered down legislation of the Victorian Government to allow stipendiary magistrates-
-Order! The honourable member is now giving information. I suggest he ask his question.
– The legislation enables stipendiary magistrates to authorise policemen to use bugging devices. Is the Attorney-General aware that in Victoria there are 48 stipendiary magistrates, in Queensland 54, in New South Wales 82 and 7 more to be appointed, which means that there will be almost 200-
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member ask his question.
– Does the Attorney-General realise that that means that there will be 200 persons on the east coast of the mainland-
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– The Prime Minister has mentioned repeatedly the phrase ‘a free world’ in the course of speeches in this House. I believe that this is a nebulous phrase. For example, does the right honourable gentleman include Spain and Portugal as member nations of the free world?
- Mr Speaker, if the honourable gentleman is in any doubt perhaps I could give him examples of a country which operates within what I would call the free world boundaries and a country which does not. There is no doubt in my mind, for example, that Australia does operate as a free country in which the people can vote, in which they can change the Government if they wish to and in which they can make their feelings felt; which, of course, gives no excuse for the kind of uses of force and demonstrations which we do see occasionally in this country because it is a free country in which institutions can operate. On the other hand, if we take the country of Czechoslovakia, which is sometimes referred to by the Opposition whenever one speaks of demonstrations, that is not a free country, it is not able to operate as its people wish and choose the government its people want, and therefore is in a completely different condition, and the kind of demonstrations and so on which are put on there are the only means available because it is not a free country. Now I hope those two illustrations will help clear the honourable member’s mind.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry: Does the International Grains Arrangement make provision for the supply of a certain amount of wheat free of cost to underdeveloped countries in need of such assistance? If so, how does the provision operate, and is Australia participating?
– The International Grains Arrangement, which came into operation a little less than a year ago, does provide that the affluent countries of the world, irrespective of whether they are producers of grains surplus to their own requirements or not, shall contribute between them a total of 4± million tons of grain a year to the needy countries of the world. This 4i million tons is apportioned between the affluent countries according to their dimensions. This is a very great step forward and it is interesting to remind the House that this arrangement, which is now a contractual binding arrangement on a number of nations, was first proposed by Australia and is now in operation. Australia contributes 225,000 tons of wheat or wheat flour a year under the arrangement. This year we have already contributed a little more than our total quota of 225,000 tons to the following nations: India, Indonesia, Ceylon, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Korea, Nigeria and Fiji and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
– I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the extension of television services.
-Is leave granted?
– I said no.
– Leave is granted.
– I refer to the appropriate standing order.
– As one Opposition member objects to leave being granted, leave is not granted.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) agreed to with the concurrence of an absolute majority:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Postmaster-General from making a statement.
– In my second reading speech on the Broadcasting and Television Bill (No. 2) 1969 I informed the House that I hoped shortly to announce some of the measures which the Government proposed to adopt to further extend television services. I am now able to do this. Honourable members will be aware of the very rapid development which has taken place in the provision of television services throughout the Commonwealth. Some 96% of the population will, on completion of the present stage of development during 1969-70, have television services available to them. The Government is most anxious to extend the service to the remaining 4%, so far as it is practicable to do so, with the least possible delay. When it is remembered that the population now without a service, numbering some 500,000 people, is spread over about 85% of Australia’s total land area, it will be appreciated that the task is one of considerable difficulty and one probably never completely achievable. Nevertheless by special measures much can be done.
The Australian Broadcasting Control Board has had this matter under constant examination and recently made recommendations to me. I am now pleased to announce that the Government has authorised the expenditure of almost $5m for the establishment, over a 4-year period, of thirty-eight low power national stations. Some of these stations will be established at strategic locations along Post Office broadband telephone routes - existing and proposed - using the normal television relay channel or, where one is not provided, the stand-by’ bearer which is available for emergency purposes. Others will be established in areas which are not on broadband telephone routes but to which programmes can be provided by means of minimum type microwave links provided specifically for the purpose. The establishment of some of the stations will be dependent upon the completion of the broadband telephone links between Townsville and Mount Isa, Perth and Kalgoorlie, and Perth and Geraldton. The list of centres concerned is as follows:
To this list must be added Alice Springs to which I shall refer separately later. In listing the above areas I should emphasise that it should not be concluded that other centres will not, in due course, be provided with service. The Board will continue its examination of the ways and means by which service may be provided to other remote areas and, indeed, to those located relatively close to existing stations but where reception is not good. I should again point out, however, that the problems involved in further extending the service are not easy to solve as will be evident from the fact that although the Government has now authorised expenditure of$5m for the new stations the additional people to be served will probably not exceed 1 10,000.
Honourable members will have noticed from the Bill which 1 introduced to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act the proposals made to provide for the licensing of low powered stations, termed repeater stations, in some remotely situated areas - mainly mining centres to which it is unlikely that service would ever be provided by normal type commercial stations and to which, because of the costs involved, the establishment of national stations is difficult to justify. A number of mining companies have indicated that they are prepared to establish and operate television stations of a modest character if the way can be made clear for them to do so. The scheme which has been proposed is that the companies concerned would establish and operate the transmitting facilities, while the amendments I have mentioned will give the Australian Broadcasting Commission the authority to provide for these centres the programmes of the Commission prepared on magnetic tape at a recording studio established specially for the purpose and forwarded to the stations for replaying. An essential factor in setting up a recording studio by the Australian Broadcasting Commission would be the existence of at least six repeater stations. Otherwise it could not be justified on economic grounds. I am not in a position to name the areas in which such stations will be established as it is necessary to await firm proposals to be made by individual members of the Mining Industry Council. I should say also that the plan I have described will permit the extension of the national service to Alice Springs. The distance between Alice Springs and existing stations and the absence of relay channels to that centre necessitate special measures being taken to make television service available.
– 1 move:
That a joint select committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon all features of the development of major city airports within Australia.
A similar motion was placed on the notice paper some time ago by an honourable member opposite but, for reasons best known to himself, he withdrew it. I trust that when the motion is put to the test he will stand in his place and be counted among those honourable members supporting it. Of course, if he placed the motion on the notice paper for political purposes, his support would be insincere. First, 1 should like to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), who is to follow me in this debate, and who is now at the table, whether he has been closely following the hearings conducted by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, appointed late last year. After having listened to and read all the evidence that has been submitted to the Committee, I am aware of the obvious problems which are associated with a number of airports in the cities which the Committee has already visited. To me an addition is obviously necessary to the Committee’s terms of reference, and it is set out in the motion. I ask the Minister whether he is prepared to extend the Committee’s terms of reference to include the selection of airport sites and the approach and flight path reservations. To me this is one of the essential and important additions which should be made to the Committee’s terms of reference.
At the present time it is obvious that nearly every major airport in Australia has a noise problem and a traffic problem. The Committee has very little power other than to make recommendations as to how the noise problem can be overcome. It cannot make a recommendation concerning the selection of airport sites. Already we on the Committee have had evidence presented to us in which the request has been made that airports in the capital cities be transferred from their present sites. Unfortunately, we are in the position in which we have to say that this is not our prerogative; that we are not able to recommend the removal of sites and the selection of alternative sites. If the Minister were prepared to make this addition to the Committee’s terms of reference this motion would not be necessary. However, as I believe he is not prepared to accept this proposition I have to proceed with my motion.
The air industry is not one of some minor consequence. On 9th October 1968 I asked the Minister for Civil Aviation the following question:
What sums have been spent each year since 30th June 1965 by the Commonwealth Government … on:
Navigational aids: and
I find that expenditure was in excess of S23m in 1965-66, $3 1.5m in 1966-67 and S33m in I967-6S. This was Commonwealth expenditure alone. That does not take into account the money expended by Stale governments and local authorities which, incidentally, represents only a very minute percentage of that spent by the Commonwealth. In many cases it is approximately 3% of that spent by the Commonwealth in this field. In the last financial year, 1967-68, domestic airlines carried 4,639,379 passengers and overseas airlines carried 685,716, making a total of 5,325,095. There was an increase of 7.3% in domestic passenger traffic in the last 12 months, and an average annual increase of 11% in the last 4 years. The number of overseas passengers increased by 10%.
The handling of freight in the aviation industry is expanding at a very substantial rate, and with the introduction of the much larger type of aircraft which are now being used it will expand at an even greater rate than at the present time particularly when you take into consideration what the introduction of the Jumbo jets on the overseas routes will mean in comparison with the 707s and the DC8s which are used at present. When one looks at the freight figures one has to anticipate a major and substantial increase in freight carriage by airlines in the near future. In domestic freight in 1967-68 there were 266,965,416 short ton miles of freight flown, which represents an increase of 8.4%. The average increase in domestic freight for the previous 4 years was 12%. As far as overseas freight is concerned there were 16,145,000 kilogram miles carried, which represents an increase of 33.3% over the previous 12 months. The average increase for the previous 3 years was 33%. And in that 3-year period there were quite a number of strikes and there was a good deal of industrial trouble in the aircraft industry which resulted in a lot of aircraft being grounded. Honourable members will appreciate, therefor, that freight is a major field in civil aviation.
I am of the opinion that the present Minister for Civil Aviation and his predecessors have dithered around with the development of airports in Australia. There has been no planned development of our airports. Everything has gone higgledlypiggledy. The Public Works Committee of this Parliament in 1965, in 1967, and again in 1968 brought to the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation some of the shortcomings as to what should be done as far as Australia’s airports are concerned. Unfortunately the Minister has taken no notice of the Committee’s recommendations. I notice that the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney), who is the present Chairman of the Public Works Committee, is present in the House. It is my view that this disregard of recommendations is an example of a shocking record of incompetence on the part of the Department of Civil Aviation. Every major airport in Australia today, with the possible exception of Hobart, either has a problem now or will be faced with one in the near future. Take as an example the position today at the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, Australia’s No. 1 domestic airport and Australia’s No. 1 international airport. The Public Works Committee in its report to the Minister for Civil Aviation dated 23rd September 1965, amongst other things, said this:
There is an urgent need to completely redevelop the passenger terminal facilities at Sydney airport.
There is a’ need to commence construction of the new domestic terminals concurrently with the International terminal.
The Committee recommend that the redevelopment of passenger terminal facilities take place in the north-west area.
We recommend that steps be taken to identify, as soon as possible, the site for development of Sydney’s second major airport.
What is the real position as to the recommendations made in the report dated 23rd September 1965 by the Public Works Committee? As far as the domestic terminal at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is con cerned there is still no indication from the Government that it proposes to do anything about it. We know that the international terminal is under way and with a little bit of luck it will be open in time for the larger and more modern 747 Boeing jets which will be brought on to the Australian run early in 1971. As far as the extensions to the runway are concerned, the Department of Civil Aviation is still dithering with this. Tenders have been called for and to the best of my knowledge no contract has yet been let. As far as the selection of a second airport site in Sydney is concerned, the Government has not yet found an alternative site. It is time that the Government did something about this because it is obvious from the evidence which has been presented to the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise that there is a need not only to select a site for a second airport but also it is necessary to invoke resumptions or acquisitions of land under the flight path of aircraft. If this is not done now there will be difficulties in the very near future. This is the position with respect to all major airports in Australia today with the possible exception of Hobart.
There has been some talk that the Government has asked the New South Wales State Planning Authority to reserve land for it at Wyong, which, if you were to listen to these reports, is just across the way. The site suggested at Wyong is 60 miles north of Sydney. Is this to be the second airport site for Sydney? The Department of Civil Aviation had previously asked the NSW State Planning Authority to zone land and plan for a second airport at Towra Point, and I am pleased to say that there has been an announcement from the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and also the Minister for Civil Aviation that the Towra Point sitehas been abandoned. I would like to know, now that Towra Point has been abandoned - which was a decision with which I agreed - where the second Sydney airport will be.
– The honourable member says Wyong. Wyong would be more suitably located to service the Newcastle area, but even for that it is too far away. As far as Wyong is concerned, it may be all right in about 40 years time when the central coast area has developed to such a degree that it is necessary to have an airport there. What is the real position in respect to the Wyong site? Already the site has been suggested. Land in the flight paths for both approach to and take-off from this airport is at present being allocated or developed for residential and industrial use. Is the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) so well informed as to know what the position will be with vertical take-off and landing aircraft, with short take-off and landing aircraft, with rotor planes and with helicopters? Will this field of aviation be developed to such a degree that the honourable member for North Sydney knows that there will be no need to have a flight path and that there will be no need to reserve the land at Wyong?
I want to know from the Minister for Civil Aviation what the present position is. I agree that Wyong will be a suitable site when the Wyong-Gosford and southern Lake Macquarie area is sufficiently developed to require an airport, but at this stage the Government should be moving to reserve the land or to buy the land. It is of no use reserving it. Why should a private individual be required to carry the cost of having the land zoned for future airport development? The Government should buy that land. It should acquire the land now, and if the need arises it could let or rent it out to those people who want to use it for some sort of agricultural primary industry. Under no circumstances should residential development be permitted under the flight path approaches to this potential airport site or on the airport site itself. The land should be completely reserved for either industrial, open space or rural development. It is up to the Government to make this move immediately. As far as I am concerned the site at Wyong is not a suitable one for a second airport for Sydney, unless people are to be flown into Wyong then picked up in helicopters and flown back to Sydney. To me this would be an unsatisfactory state of affairs.
There is still adequate vacant land available for the construction of a second airport in the western suburbs of Sydney. This land is within reasonable distance of the centre of Sydney. It would provide a means of transport for people to go to most places in Sydney without having to travel right into the heart of the city itself. The western suburbs of Sydney are developing at a very rapid rate today and it is for this reason that aircraft services could be provided in that district.
There have been discussions and negotiations concerning the use of the Royal Australian Air Force base at Richmond as the second airport for Sydney. Why does not the Minister make up his mind now on this and not at some time in the future? Why does he not negotiate a settlement with the Royal Australian Air Force now so that they can make the necessary preparations to move to another site and so that the Department of Civil Aviation can acquire the necessary land under the flight approaches? The responsibility is with the Minister to do something about it now and not at some time in the future. To me it is necessary that this work should be done by a parliamentary committee.
We see the evidence of the good work that is done by various parliamentary committees such as the Public Accounts Committee, the Public Works Committee and select committees including the present Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. One of the things that has always concerned me has been the way in which the Department of Civil Aviation has handled affairs in this Parliament. We continually hear of airlines being granted permission to purchase aircraft. Recently the Minister for Civil Aviation made an announcement that Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia had been granted permission to purchase Boeing 727 and DC9 aircraft to enlarge their present fleets. I do not disagree with this. Not so long ago quite a controversy developed between the Federal Government and the Ansett organisation as to whether Caravelle or Electra aircraft would be purchased. At no time did the Minister table in this place a statement setting out the reasons why the Government approved an Ansett decision to purchase Electras instead of Caravelles, which were recommended by TAA. The Parliament should be required to make a decision on such matters. Such a decision should not be presented to the Parliament as a fait accompli, yet the Minister comes along here and says that this is the decision that has been made. I know that Government supporters canreply that we can reject the proposition when the relevant Loan Bill is under consideration but it is a bit late at that stage because the airlines would have already negotiated and entered into commitments for the purchase of the aircraft. As I say, this is the unfortunate attitude displayed by this Government towards the Parliament, I believe that the committee system of inquiry can be introduced to remove any idea that this Parliament is regarded merely as a rubber stamp, as so often it is.
I know that Government supporters disagree on many occasions with the Government’s decisions, but they are pledged and are required to support such decisions in this place. Under a committee system the facts could be investigated and recommendations could be brought down. I am certain that the decisions made in 1965, 1967 and again in 1968 by the Public Works Committee are a major embarrassment to the Minister for Civil Aviation, because they expose the incompetence of his Department in respect of being able adequately to plan the airport requirements of the city of Sydney.
J would now like to deal with Adelaide. The airport at Adelaide is in an excellent position and is most suitable to the people of that city. People wanting to travel by air from Adelaide can invariably get to the airport in 10 to 15 minutes. So there is no trouble at all in that regard. But what about the people who live around the airport? The honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), along with other people, appeared before the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise in Adelaide last week. They told us of the problems associated with living close to this airport. A strong appeal was made to shift the airport from Adelaide to Parafield or Elizabeth. But what happened when the representative of the Parafield Council was called to give evidence before the Committee? He said: ‘Take it somewhere else, we do not want it’. The people of Parafield already have a general aviation airport which handles a small number of small aircraft. They realise what could happen to them.
The position is this: The small number of people who travel by aircraft from a city get great benefit from that airport being located in the centre of the city. But the thousands of people who live around the airport are placed at great disadvantage and suffer much inconvenience in respect of health, lack of sleep and all the rest of it.
Brisbane airport is another facility that requires to be moved, lt is obvious that there is a noise problem at Brisbane. The airport is too close to the city and should be moved to another site. Perth airport was originally located out in the bush and away from residential development. But what has happened there? Because the State authorities - the State planning authority and the local government authorities - have allowed the encroachment of residential development adjacent to the airport today there are problems with Perth airport. In my opinion the people who live around Perth airport are subjected to what are probably the worst conditions in Australia. Because of the geographical position of Perth, the airport is used by aircraft arriving from South Africa and Asia. There is the need to get people from Perth to the Eastern States. What is the result? Because of the 2-Hour difference between Western Australian time and Eastern Standard Time residents arc subjected to the strain caused by aircraft taking off all through the night. Perth airport is one of the few airports in Australia where a curfew does not exist. I refer here to the curfew imposed on aircraft flying between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. These people are subjected to great stress by 707, DC9 and 727 jet aircraft taking off throughout the night.
What is more, Perth as an international airport will, before many years, handle 747 jumbo jets which, we are told, will not be any noisier than the 707s. However, we have to accept this fact. The SST. or supersonic transport, aircraft will use Perth airport on the European run or on the African run. SST aircraft do not carry a lot of people. The Concorde will carry only about 120 or 130 people. So do not get the idea that it will be beyond the capacity of Australia to fill these aircraft. This is not correct because, as 1 have said, the Concorde will carry fewer people than does the 707. So residents of Perth can look forward - I do not know whether they will do so with any interest - to Concordes flying over that city. There is a great problem developing.
I would next like to refer to Melbourne. Here we have another example of bungling by the Department of Civil Aviation. The Department selected for an airport a beautiful site at Tullamarine in a rural setting and clear of populated areas. Then it wanted someone else to carry the cost of reserving the land under the flight path. The Department dithered round long enough for the State Government, which was not prepared - and as far as I can see this is the case in every State - to hand over to the Commonwealth the power to plan land use under the flight path, to grant subdividers permission to subdivide and develop for residential development. What has been the result? Adjacent to Sharps Road a lovely housing subdivision has gone through. This subdivision will be ‘right under’ the second runway when it is constructed within the next 10 years. No-one can adequately or accurately forecast what the aircraft development will be at that time.
The situation that faces us is that at Tullamarine millions of dollars have been spent on providing a modern and new airport. Before many years have elapsed there will be a noise problem. We will have protests of the kind that are now being made in Sydney, Essendon, Adelaide, Perth or Brisbane. The protests are being made in relation to nearly all the major airports throughout Australia. If there is not sufficient evidence available to the Minister to make him realise the great need to do some constructive long-range planning for airports in Australia, I do not know what he needs to convince him.
The position at Hobart at the moment is all right, but the Government has no guarantee that when Hobart expands residential development will not flow in the direction of the airport. The evidence given in Hobart h that it will flow in the direction of the airport. Hobart will probably be one of the last airports to be involved with the problem of noise and the complaints that subsequently come from the people. Just in relation to the major airports alone in the capital cities there is a need for some longrange planning. Let us have a look at some of the other major cities such as Newcastle which is in my own electorate and the city of Wollongong, which is in the electorate of my colleague, the honourable member for
Cunningham (Mr Connor). The city of Gladstone is one of the most rapidly developing industrial centres in Australia today. The aircraft which use Gladstone airport are completely limited in size and range. At the moment the best the airlines can get in is F27 aircraft. We know that the F27 is on the way out and that F28 aircraft will replace them. But DC9 and 727 are the aircraft of the future as far as internal domestic air travel is concerned.
The city of Newcastle has to rely on Williamtown as its airport. Williamtown airport is about 10 miles out of Newcastle, lt may be a good decision to retain Williamtown as an airport in the long run provided we can get complete use out of this airport without any obstruction from the Royal Australian Air Force which built it. Wollongong is serviced by small commuter nights. Once again there is a need to provide Wollongong, which is one of the two major steel producing cities of Australia today, with an adequate first-class airport. This is needed so that people can get around more quickly than they can at the moment. So in all of these cases there is a need for some planning.
When we are considering the planning of airports, one of the important questions that should be asked is: What does the Government know about vertical takeoff and landing aircraft? What does it know about short takeoff and landing aircraft or rotor planes and helicopters? When I visited the Lockheed establishment in Los Angeles in January 1968 I had long discussions with representatives on the subject of rotor planes. They are very confident that the rotor plane can be developed to a stage where it can provide an alternative means of short ranee transport on such routes as New York to Boston and New York to Washington. They feel that this is the answer to the transport problem. They can lift the aircraft up in the centre of one city and fly it te the centre of another city. What information has the Government on this? Has the Government done any research on this? Has it any information to convey to the Parliament? Up to date the Minister has not made any information available to honourable members. Let us take the recent race between the Empire State Building in New York and the Post Office Tower in London. I believe the successful competitor in that race used a Hawker Harrier to get himself between the two continents.
Will this type of aircraft be developed so there will be no need for large airports? Has the manufacturer of this aircraft been successful in overcoming the noise problem? I think the honourable members of this House are entitled to know the facts, not the departmental heads. The departmental heads are the men who should be prepared to come forward and give us the evidence and let us make the decision. It is obvious to me that they have not been advising their Minister, and if they have been advising their Minister of developments he has not been prepared to do anything about it. I include in that statement the present Minister and all of his predecessors because this is not a development that takes place in a few days. Harking back once again to Sydney airport, I say it is one of the major blunders in air transport in this country today. On 28th February 1967 the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly), when he was Minister for Works, made a statement, which was reported in The Australian’, that the new runway was too short, and yet even at this stage a contract to extend it has not been let. I do not have the time to go into all the ramifications of the cost and the loss that is incurred by deciding not to accept the advice of those people who know all about the airports, the pilots, who back in 1965 were demanding a much longer runway of at least 10,000 feet. The Minister for Civil Aviation said that the information was not available to him. In February 1967 the Minister for the Navy said the runway was not long enough.
In July 1968 the aircraft manufacturers in England told me that they had already informed the Australian Department of Civil Aviation of the runway lengths that would be required for the Concorde and for the jumbo jets. The same information was conveyed to me by the manufacturers of the jumbo jets in America - that is, the manufacturers of the Boeing 747, the Lockheed 1011 and the DC10. All these people told me this in 1968, but it is remarkable that they did not tell the Minister. To me it just is not right and it shows quite clearly the incompetence of the Department in not bringing this information to the Parliament. If the Minister is not prepared to accept the Opposition’s motion to extend the terms of reference of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, we would like this matter submitted to a vote today because we consider it is an important matter, on which a decision should be made immediately and not sometime in the future. Even a supporter of the Government, Mr Ansett, in the annual report of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd, which was published in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ on 1st December, said:
Mascot, a jungle of bungle. 1 think that sums up the position. Air transport development in Australia is a jungle of bungle, and this can be said of all forms of airport development in Australia, taking Sydney airport as the major bungle.
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
– We have listened to an extraordinary speech by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) dealing with what is a very important subject. 1 am afraid he rambled around the field so much it was very hard to follow him. He certainly did not make many points relating to the motion he has placed before the House. There is one point I must touch on now and that is his reference to runway lengths. This is one matter on which he is completely incorrect - as he was in many of the other statements he made. We are constantly in touch with the aircraft manufacturers throughout the world, and indeed, as far as the Boeing 747 is concerned, Australian personnel are based at the Boeing plant. We have also had people based at the British Aircraft Corporation and Sud Aviation plants in both Britain and France. So we have been posted with the most up to date information constantly in relation to these matters.
It is a simple matter to make a statement not based on technical facts. Even personnel who are trying to sell aircraft make such statements. We find this is different from the actual technical situation when ultimately the full details are given to us by the technical experts of the organisations concerned. So we have to wait until the manufacturers themselves are able technically to prove the situation. This is often after the aircraft is actually flying in prototype form. Of course, this occurred with both the Boeing 747 and the Concorde. We have to be right in these matters because such enormous amounts of capital are involved and we cannot afford to make any mistake. We have to make a judgment. In fact, the judgment was made on the runway length that would be required for the Boeing 747 before we received the final figures from Boeing and our judgment has been proved to be correct by the technical information provided by the Boeing company. In the case of the BAC-Sud organisations the information has also been proven to be correct.
The honourable member for Newcastle referred to a motion which had appeared on the notice paper before in the name of the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie). He said this had been withdrawn and he wanted to know the reason. The honourable member for Hughes has made that quite clear in this House. The motion was put forward when there were problems relating to the site of a second airport for Sydney, in which the honourable member for Hughes is vitally concerned. He conducted a very strong campaign in opposition to a proposal which appeared to relate to his locality. We admire the way he went about it and the way he was able to influence the Government in relation to this matter. 1 do pay a tribute to him for what he has achieved, because when he achieved what he sei out to achieve he withdrew the motion from the notice paper. It related principally to the matter I have mentioned. The point is that the honourable member for Hughes succeeded in a matter that was of vital concern to the people of his area and I pay a tribute to him for it.
The honourable member for Newcastle seeks in his motion to have included in the terms of reference of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise some clause that would allow it to participate in the selection of sites, flight paths and other matters associated with the development of airports. This, of course, is completely outside the present terms of reference, which were included in Hansard on 26th November 1968. The terms are particularly broad and are designed to deal with a very important problem. Australia has taken the initiative in the international field in seeking a solution to the problem and we feel, as a result of the investigations of this Committee, which is undertaking some very sound work at the present time, we will also be giving a lead to the world in the domestic field. I think this matter is of vital importance and should not be dealt with as a political football. At the outset I must say that the submissions advanced by the honourable member cannot be accepted by the Government. Here we have an extraordinary situation. A Select Committee on Aircraft Noise is in the course of its early investigations and a member of that committee has raised in this House matters based on information obtained during the hearings of the Committee and before the Committee has presented any report, interim or final, to the Parliament. This is the first occasion in almost 20 years parliamentary experience that I have heard of such a breach of ethics in this place. It is a matter that the Committee should consider. This is a complete breach of ethics and one which I am surprised that the honourable member, with his experience, would commit.
The honourable member referred to traffic growth. His information is factual because he quoted from my annual report. I can bring the information a little more up to date. It is interesting to note that for the first time in Australia domestic operators broke the 5 million barrier for passengers carried in the 12 months from February 1968 to January 1969. The present rate of growth is continuing. It is about 12% - a little higher than the anticipated 10%. The growth rate in the international field also is a little higher than we anticipated. There is no indication that this growth rate is slowing down. It has been achieved despite difficulties of drought and other problems that have arisen on the domestic scene and the problems that have been experienced overseas. The growth rate in the airline industry is the highest in any major industry in Australia and we anticipate that the trend will continue into the future.
The honourable member implied that this other select committee should be appointed because no notice was being taken by my Department or the Government of this growth rate in the airline industry; that there was no forward planning to try to meet the problems confronting the industry. This claim is completely refuted by the facts. All that the honourable member had to do was read the annual report, which he had before him. He then would have seen what is taking place in civil aviation. He would have seen indicated in the annual report the projections for the future. The honourable member referred also to aircraft types. We have planned our present programme up to the turn of the century. We must take into account the types of aircraft which we know will be operating in the next decade. We have all the up to date information available regarding proposed aircraft types. We are very closely in touch with the situation regarding vertical take-off aircraft and short take-off aircraft and their application to large commercial operations. We anticipate that there will be some significant developments in this field, particularly in the United States. All of this is in the next decade as far as Australia is concerned bur we must pay regard to it in our forward planning. At the same time our forward planning must be based on known types of aircraft - the largest types and the most vital types so far as present requirements are concerned. The honourable member queried whether we had all the information in this regard. If he were to come to my office I could show him a lot of information that 1 have here in Parliament House which I. have received from manufacturers in the United States. That information outlines the projections and research into new types of aircraft. We have in factories overseas people who are constantly in touch with new developments. So Australia, more than most countries, because of our consciousness about aviation, knows about developments for the future.
A reference was made to the zoning of land at Tullamarine. The extraordinary statement was made that somehow the Commonwealth is responsible for the zoning of land outside airports. This is incorrect, and I think the honourable member knows it. In respect of Tullamarine there was a verbal agreement between the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works and my Department that when we had taken over and had a substantial internal buffer in an area that is more than 5,000 acres, which we purchased for the development of this new Melbourne airport, land around the vital areas of the airport would still be subject to zoning for rural purposes. By a chain of unfortunate circumstances a permit was granted to a developer to open up an area adjacent to a future development project of parallel runways, which may be put into effect in 15 or 20 years time. We have drawn attention to this strongly and the matter is being investigated by a joint committee. I understand that development in that region, as in all areas around Tullamarine, has been frozen at present by the State authorities. I hope that the matter will be resolved satisfactorily. We went in with complete confidence that our agreement with the Victorian Government would be adhered to.
The honourable member referred to the development of airport facilities. He described the F27 as an aircraft that was now old-fashioned and which would be going out of operation in the near future. Again he is not aware of the facts because the F27 is still well and truly in manufacture. Although the F28 will be going into manufacture shortly for full jet operation and will to some extent supplement the feeder services provided by the F27, for many years the F27 will be one of the principal feeder aircraft used in this country. All of our projections for the re-equipping of the airlines are based on this fact. Only recently new F27 aircraft have been delivered and undoubtedly more will be required in the future. I. say this merely to indicate that we know what our basic fleet requirements are. We know what development is based on. We know that the F27 will he a vital part of our development in aviation for some years to come. The F27 is performing an excellent service in the feeder capacity for which it was designed.
I would like now quickly to run through some aspects of airport development at some major airports to indicate how we are programming ahead. I will also refer quickly to our new 5-year programme, of which the honourable member apparently is unaware. There has been in existence a programme that is only now terminating. At Sydney Airport there is in progress a development programme which will provide a new international terminal building and development of the movement areas. There is also an important project, for which tenders are now being called, to extend the main northsouth runway to 13,000 feet. When this is completed the airport will be satisfactory for all domestic aircraft in operation at the present time and for the operation of jumbo jet and supersonic aircraft. Some additional work is to be completed on the international terminal before it is finally in a condition to provide the facilities required for the Boeing 747. This work will be done well before the 747 commences operation here. In fact, we are very pleased to know that the programme for Sydney is well ahead of schedule. Work on the international terminal will be completed early in the new year - some months earlier than our predictions of a few months ago.
Total investment in projects at present in hand at Sydney Airport or which have been approved amounts to $10Om, but further expenditure will be required to maintain the expansion which will take place. It is expected that the growth of traffic will necessitate construction of additional runways in the mid 1970s. The need for this is being investigated and a proposal in relation to this matter will be put to the Government at a later stage. Construction of parallel runways at Sydney would necessitate the relocation of the existing Trans-Australia Airlines domestic terminal. In any case it is anticipated that both domestic terminals will reach saturation point in the mid 1970s.
As the House knows, there are plans for domestic terminals to be removed to a new area adjacent to the new international terminal. The foundation filling has been completed and is at present being compacted. It is anticipated also that in the 1980s a second major airport will be needed to serve Sydney. The Government has appointed an interdepartmental committee to examine all aspects of this question, including sites and the types of activity to be accommodated at the new airport. The terms of reference, which have been set out quite clearly, are broad in scope. The committee is at present considering evidence in relation to these matters, but it will have quite a lengthy job, and it will be some time before it will be able to report back to my Department. In addition, general aviation must be linked in with the development of major airport systems. Six sites are to be selected in Sydney, another six in Melbourne and one each in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, for the expansion of general aviation facilities.
As the House also knows, the Government is developing a new airport for Melbourne at Tullamarine to accommodate both domestic and international aircraft operations. The estimated cost of the project is in the vicinity of S50m. Further development of the airport is proposed to improve its ability to handle increased operations that are expected to occur following the introduction of the Boeing 747 type of aircraft. As I mentioned before, sufficient land has been acquired to cater for the future development of this airport.
The honourable member for Newcastle has referred to the position at Adelaide. Additions are being made to the terminal building at Adelaide airport to meet needs there for many years to come. Some extensions are being completed to the runway to improve the capacity of the airport to accommodate large passenger jets. In recent years work has been done at Perth airport to provide a first class airport adequate to meet existing needs of the air traffic of that city. However, plans are being prepared for the improvement of the airport to accommodate larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747, including extensions to the terminal building. The Department’s plans for Brisbane airport include the construction of a new terminal complex for both international and domestic operations on a new site in the Pinkenba area. It is proposed also to make extensions to the runways. It will be necessary to do this to provide for the operation of the jumbo jet type of aircraft. For more than 12 months detail work has been done on the terminal complex plan, and shortly a precise estimate of cost will be submitted to the Government. In addition to the terminal development, there are proposals for the ultimate plan which envisages the construction of parallel runways in both north-east and south-west and north-west and south-east directions. Plans are well ahead for developments at Brisbane. 1 am sure that developments for Launceston and Canberra airports are well known to honourable members. I do not have sufficient time to deal with many other details in which honourable members would be interested. However, I feel that at this stage I must refer to the 5-year plan. As the House will be aware, the 5-year development programme was approved for Australian airports in 1962. That programme has involved the expenditure of more than $100m. It was the largest development programme in Australia’s aviation history and I am sure that the figures really speak for themselves. That programme is virtually completed and the Government intends to give consideration to a further 5-year airport development plan that has been prepared by my Department. When decisions are reached on it, I shall see that the necessary announcements are made to the House. The need for a second airport to service Sydney has been referred to. The interdepartmental committee is examining that situation. Melbourne, and also Brisbane, come into consideration in respect of the development of additional major airports at some time in the future. To conclude, Australia is one of the most airminded countries in the world, and aviation plans play a vitally important part in national development as well as in serving a big majority of the people. The Government and the aviation industry are determined to ensure that the best standards are maintained in Australia and, at the same time, that the aviation industry exists as a good neighbour to the community.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation as I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). He charged me with a breach of ethics in that as a member of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, I disclosed information available to the Committee.
– The honourable member referred to it.
– I deny that the information which I disclosed to honourable members had not already been made known to the public or was not of a public nature, or was not sworn evidence given in public firstly by the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) and secondly by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). That was dealing with Adelaide. The information about Essendon, which I conveyed to honourable members in my contribution earlier today, was based on a visit to Tullamarine and Essendon by members of the Parliamentary Labor Party Transport Committee in July of last year. As a member of that Committee I felt entitled to make reference to information that is common knowledge in this place. On numerous occasions speeches have been made about Tullamarine.
– The honourable member should refer to Hansard to find what he said. He referred to a meeting in Adelaide.
– That is so. The evidence to which 1 referred was evidence publicly given by the honourable members of this place to whom 1 have referred. If that is a breach of ethics I regret it, but as far as I am concerned, any statements that are made in public may be used by any honourable member at any time in any place in this country.
– I have seconded the motion moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) because I feel that it deals with a most important matter. The speech delivered by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) in this debate illustrates his concern. It would appear that the honourable member for Newcastle trod on his toes and he was stung into making a critical statement about some of the honourable member’s remarks on matters that were presented to the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. There is no doubt that the points mentioned by the honourable member for Newcastle are well known to the public. That information could well have been reported in the Press, so it is public so far as we in this Parliament are concerned. As the honourable member for Newcastle said, a motion similar to this one was previously placed on the notice paper by the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie). Apparently he withdrew the motion because he is satisfied with decisions made by the Government.
– But he is easily satisfied.
– He must be, because I think that public opinion has been expressed clearly by people who live in the vicinity of Towra Point. Protest meetings have been called following agitation there about the proposal to establish a second airport for Sydney at Towra Point. Following their protests the Government backed down, knowing full well that this was to be an election year. I do not always accept the- shelving of plans by the Government because after an election it can easily change its mind. It could decide to build a second airport for Sydney at Towra Point. At least one Government supporter accepts the decisions of the Minister of the Civil Aviation. The Minister ought to look closely at the report submitted to the Parliament by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works of which the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) is Chairman. That committee has criticised the Department and the Government for its failure in certain respects to develop airports in Australia. The honourable member for Perth, who was a Minister of the Crown, is both a respected member of this Parliament and a respected member of this Committee. I feel that some of his criticisms were quite constructive.
Let us look at what he said when the report of the Public Works Committee was submitted. He said that the Government had failed to consider proposals for the construction of new domestic terminals. He said that it had failed to proceed with their construction quickly and so had produced chaotic conditions at the Sydney Airport for the next 5 to 10 years. He said that there was an almost complete lack of action by the Commonwealth to counter the problem of noise levels around the airports and that there was unnecessary delay by the Commonwealth in taking a decision on runway extensions. He said that this meant that the new Boeing 747 jets at first would not be able to operate out of Sydney without some range or weight penalty. He said that the extension project was behind schedule even before it had left the planning phase. He said that the Government had to plan with more energy and imagination than it had shown up to date and that it had to provide facilities commensurate with the requirements of civil aviation. This former Minister, the Chairman of the Public Works Committee, criticised the Government for its failure to do certain work in relation to domestic airports.
The Minister for Civil Aviation speaks about the Government’s 5-year plan. I want to know where that plan is. Of course experts have presented reports to various committees.
– The Public Works Committee does not think much of the plan.
– It is obvious that there is a difference of opinion between the Public Works Committee and the Department of Civil Aviation or the Minister himself. We feel that the Minister has been somewhat misleading to the Parliament because many of the matters he has mentioned have not been stated in the Parliament. He tells us that he has information in his office and says: ‘Come around and I will show it to you.’ However, he never releases in the Parliament the information that manufacturers have given to him so that the Parliament will be informed. The Minister criticised the honourable member for Newcastle for his comments about the F27 aircraft. There is no doubt that the F28 aircraft is already being built and while the Minister may say that some F27 aircraft are being delivered it is probably because of the delay in putting in orders that they are just being delivered now. He cannot tell us that a manufacturer would not build more F28 aircraft if he were able to sell twenty of his F27 aircraft. It is quite obvious that in future the F28 will take over from the F27. One does not have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to understand why.
We should have a committee selected from members to look into all aspects of airport development in Australia. History has shown that the vast majority of people want to travel by air because it is quicker and it enables them to spend more time in the various cities of the world as well as within the capita] and rural cities of Australia. It is quite obvious to those honourable members who have looked at the development at the Mascot terminal that had it not been for agitation in this Parliament by members of the Labor Party and of the Government parties we would not have had extensions at Mascot. We would not have been able to take the jumbo jets in the near future because the Government had not planned for the development of Mascot airport. At that time the major development was at Tullamarine and those of us who were present in the House at the time will recall the resentment and animosity of members over the development of Tullamarine as against Mascot. If we are to have airports and facilities for people to use, ancillary services must also be developed. If an airport is to be a certain distance from a city, a decent road must be constructed to enable people to get quickly from the airport to the city. 1 do not think that the Department of Civil Aviation or the Minister has considered whether airports should be linked by rail to the cities. There is no doubt that the extension of the eastern suburbs railway to Mascot airport would facilitate the movement of passengerrs. People could hop into a fast train at the airport and be within the city limits in 10 to 15 minutes compared with at least 30 minutes at present. Undoubtedly the railway could be extended to Mascot but obviously lack of finance prevents the State Government from undertaking this work. The Commonwealth Government should make specific grants to the State Government so that this work could be done, especially as it would alleviate many of the present traffic problems.
Last year over one million people left Australia or arrived in Australia by air. Today the airlines are carrying about 78% of the travelling public and this percentage will grow, leading to a demand for more facilities. It is up to the Government to see that proper facilities are provided. We know that tourists bring much money into Australia. If we provide decent facilities we will encourage more tourists. It is hard to estimate exactly what money is involved in the tourist trade, but such trade helps Australia considerably because the butcher, baker, candlestick maker and everybody benefit. We must encourage tourists and we shall do so by providing decent facilities. This is the aspect at which the Minister and his Department should be looking. Irrespective of the cost, we want to get tourists to Australia so they can at least enjoy our hospitality. I know that finance is the big difficulty, but after all with the tourist trade it is the Government that gets the vast amount of the money that is spent here by the tourists. As a nation we win from the increased tourist trade.
The Minister talks of 5-year plans, but if we look back at what has happened in the last 5 years we see that the Department does not have a very proud record. We should be looking to the next 30 or 40 years in determining our requirements. We should recognise that eventually Sydney. Newcastle and Wollongong will be one major city.
These three centres are spreading rapidly. We should be determining how many airports will be required for such a major city. At present Wollongong does not have a decent domestic airport. Newcastle has to use the Williamtown air base in cooperation with the Royal Australian Air Force and there is often difficulty because that base can be used only at certain times. In effect, people have been driven away from using the airlines in those cities because of the lack of facilities. I have not heard the Minister announce any plans for an airport at Wollongong, but because of its size and its development it merits a decent airport with proper facilities for the travelling public. We appreciate the difficulty of securing land for airports. The cooperation of local councils must be secured but many councils cannot afford to acquire land and hand it over to the Government, so the Federal Government must acquire the land for its airports. Had it not been for the efforts of local councils throughout Australia there would not be air services to many of our rural cities because the Department of Civil Aviation did nothing to develop the airports.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! As it is now 2 hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House the debate on the motion is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) agreed to:
That the time for the discussion of the motion be extended to 12.45 p.m.
– As I was saying, the Mascot airport has been one of the greatest bungles by the Department of Civil Aviation. I think we all realise what happened when the original extensions to the east/ west runway were going on. A special dredge was brought to Australia. The Australian Federation of Airline Pilots, manufacturers organisations and everybody concerned with aviation said that the existing runway would not be long enough to handle the Boeing 747 jets. We know that at the time the Government turned a deaf ear to what was being said by these people, and as a result the dredge was taken away and the runway was not extended. The runway is now to be extended 3 years after the time that the work should have been done, when the dredge was here. If the extension work had been done then it would have COS us much less money than it will cost us in the future.
The domestic and overseas terminals at Mascot are a disgrace to any government, a disgrace to Sydney and a disgrace to Australia because for the majority of people who come to Australia it is the front line airport. All the major airline companies use the Sydney airport. I do not think it sets a very good example for the rest of Australia. We are all looking forward to the day when a new overseas terminal is opened at Mascot and also the day when new airport facilities are provided for the people who travel on the domestic airlines. The Minister has stated that his Department is looking at places around Sydney lor a second airport. Every time we pick up a newspaper we read that the Minister is considering where the second airport is to be located in Sydney. Towra Point has been mentioned. Richmond, Lucas Heights and various other places have also been mentioned as sites for a second airport lor Sydney.
Why has a site not been decided upon? On no occasion has the Government come out and announced a definite decision about where this second airport is to be situated. As time goes on much of the land that is available now will be swallowed up by developers either for industrial purposes or for housing. Consequently, in the near future there will be no land left in the near vicinity of Sydney that would be suitable for a second major airport. If the Government does not do something about this important matter soon we will not have a site for a second airport in Sydney. It is estimated thai by 1985 the Mascot airport will be too small to handle the amount of aircraft traffic that will be using it, so an alternative site will have to be found.
There is another major matter which will have to be discussed in the near future, lt has been raised on numerous occasions in the Parliament and we also have a committee inquiring into it at the present time. 1 refer to the noise factor. There is no doubt that aircraft noise has a grave effect on the majority of people at the present time. We know that the Department of Civil Aviation has a regulation which prohibits jet aircraft using the airports in the majority of the capital cities between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The Minister should realise that ultimately the large jumbo jet aircraft and all other jet aircraft will have to be allowed to turn around 24 hours a day, because it costs money to have them standing at the terminals. If the Minister does not make a decision in the near future about these jumbo jets he will have a great cry coming from the manufacturers and from the people who own the aircraft in particular. Consideration has to be given to the noise factor. I do not believe that people should be disturbed between the hours of 1 1 p.m. and 6 a.m. by the noise of jets.
My next suggestion is that there ought to be an alternative aerodrome situated far from the city limits so that aircraft can land between these hours. At the present time I know of some major country areas which have the facilities which could be utilised, with extensions, for the use of jumbo jets. One area I have in mind is Narromine, which at present is used by Qantas Airways Ltd for the training of its pilots in landings and take-offs. The runway there is probably long enough for the requirements of the Boeing 727 aircraft, but it may be necessary to extend it a little to take the jumbo jets. They could land there at night and the passengers could be carried on by the domestic airlines to other airports throughout the country. Here again I think that no plans have been made by the Minister and his Department.
The Minister conies from Queensland and we know that he recently made a statement that the Department of Civil Aviation is looking for alternative sites for two airports in Queensland. The Department is only looking for them. I do not know how long it will take to make a decision on this important matter but, as I stated previously, if it does not make decisions in the near future nothing will be left for it to make decisions about. As the areas develop and houses are built there will be less land to be used for alternative airports. In conclusion I would say that an inquiry by members of Parliament into this important matter of alternative airports is warranted so that decent facilities will be available in Australia and people will be able to travel in comfort.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The motion moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) is totally unwarranted, as was the case which he put in support of it. Primarily he urged that the present Select Committee on Aircraft Noise should have added to its terms of reference the right to make selections of airport sites and the right to make recommendations about reservations for flight paths at airports. I am surprised that the honourable member for Newcastle should put this proposition to the House when in fact he is a member of the recently appointed Select Committee charged with the responsibility of looking into the problem of aircraft noise in Australia. The Committee has perhaps the widest terms of reference that have ever been afforded a select committee of this House. The suggestion he made has merit in a proper context but certainly not in the way in which he has submited it to this House.
I refer to paragraph (b) of the terms of reference of that Committee, which says that problems which emerge from the incidence of the various forms of aircraft noise may be reported upon by the Committee. This is surely broad enough for the Committee to make propositions which could lead to a proper approach to the question of the selection of airport sites, having regard to the responsibility of the Committee in relation to noise. Under the terms of reference the Committee is required to inquire into: fe) administrative procedures and regulations required to be formulated and initiated to lessen aircraft noise nuisance now and in the future;
Under the two terms of reference to which 1 have referred there is ample opportunity for the Committee to make propositions as to the selection of airport sites, flight paths and so on, but in the context that these recommendations would be very general indeed, because I am sure that every member of this House recognises that no select committee could be equipped to deal specifically with the technical aspects of the selection of sites for airports. This would be a totally inappropriate proposition. The Department of Civil Aviation is an expert department in this field. It is headed by a Minister who has proved his capability in this House. Those in charge of the Department and its branches are experts who have shown very clearly their capacity to deal with the technical requirements of Government policy.
This Select Committee has sat and will continue to sit for some time. It could not be expected by any modification of or change in terms of reference to be able to report to Parliament in the way in which the honourable member for Newcastle suggests. 1 am surprised that a member with such long service could make the proposition that the honourable member for Newcastle has made. I can only express the hope that this motion will not inhibit the Committee in its future work. It is of great importance to the nation that this Committee ultimately should present to Parliament a useful report designed to provide guidance for the Parliament and for the Government in this important field of aircraft noise and the overall pattern of the development of civil aviation, having regard to this aspect.
I believe that the Committee has been very liberal in its approach. At all times it has afforded opportunities for and has not impeded in any way whatsoever the submission of views by those who have come before the Committee. Nor has the Committee attempted to restrict its members in their search for information which must be on a very broad spectrum. I believe that the honourable member for Newcastle himself has found by experience thus far that there has been a great deal of value in the work of the Committee. It would be a pity if this work henceforth was to be restricted because of some ineptness. I would go so far as to say that the motion proposed by the honourable member for Newcastle, who is a member of this Committee, in the way in which it has been presented in this House today will tend to create some impediment in the work of the Committee in the future unless there is a situation where the members of the Committee have the confidence each of the other as to what will be done as a consequence of the work of the Committee. The Minister said that he believed that it was a misdemeanour for the honourable member for Newcastle to propose this motion. I think that, on ethical grounds, that is a precise point of view. I agree with the Minister.
The whole field of civil aviation is complex. lt is quite wrong for the honourable member for Newcastle to assert here today that the Government has failed in its responsibility. I wish to remind the House that, in respect of the developments at Mascot. Tullamarine and West Beach in Adelaide, the Public Works Committee did take evidence. Every possible provision was made for an approach to the matters of the siting and development of the present airport facilities at those three locations. All the things about which the honourable member for Newcastle now complains were taken into account. 1 have heard the honourable member in the last few weeks refer precisely to these steps that were taken in the past. Yet, he comes into the House today and puts forward a totally different argument. This is unfortunate. But, of course, we are used to the honourable member for Newcastle making approaches of this kind if he sees some political advantage in them.
Let us get back to the fundamentals of the requirements of civil aviation. Australia, a country with a population of only 12 million, has accomplished miracles in this field in the last decade. We are keeping up with a world standard which other nations of greater population and tremendously greater economic strength are producing as a standard level for civil aviation around the world. I believe that it is to the credit of the Minister and of this Government that a person can take a jet from one capital city to another or from Melbourne to the Gold Coast, for instance. A passenger can take a jet from a wide ranging number of airports in Australia. As a consequence, the Australian air traveller enjoys the same standard of air travel as is experienced by passengers in other parts of the world.
-Order! The time allowed for precedence of General Business has expired. The honourable member for Cowper will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day under General Business for the next sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.1.5 p.m.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Fairhall, and read a first time.
f2. 15] - 1 move:
Thai the Bill be now read a second lime.
Honourable members will recall that the Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Act 1966 was passed to enable national service officers and national servicemen to contest Federal parliamentary elections. That legislation was necessary because section 44 of the Constitution provides that any person who holds an office of profit under the Crown shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives. There was, at that time, no other means whereby the constitutional disqualification could be removed in respect of national service officers and men. The Government has now given further consideration to the position of other members of the Defence Forces who may wish to contest parliamentary elections and has made provisions in this Bill to permit it. Furthermore, at present there is no means whereby a member of the Defence Force who is released to contest a parliamentary election can be reinstated with all his accrued rights and privileges preserved if he is not successful at the election.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the 1966 Act to give effect to the Government’s decision. Because of the substantial amendments involved, it has been found convenient to repeal the Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Act 1966 and to incorporate its provisions in a new Bill. The machinery whereby the constitutional disqualification placed on a member of the Defence Force is removed is:
In each case an application will be made to the appropriate service Board. Given that a member satisfied the Service Board that he is a bona fide candidate and that the Service Board is satisfied that the exigencies of the arm of the Defence Force of which he is a member permit, the application may be granted.
The Bill provides that an unsuccessful candidate may be reinstated in the Defence Force in either of two ways:
In either case the Bill makes provision for the preservation of the unsuccessful candidate’s rights regarding pay, rank, furlough entitlements etc. by treating the period he was absent as a period of absence without pay. Amendments to the defence force retirement benefits legislation still to be made will deal with his rights under that legislation. An application for reinstatement must be made within 2 months after the date on which the Minister publishes a notice in the Gazette that he is satisfied that the result of the election is certain or within such further time as the Service Board may allow. Where the Service Board wishes to recall an unsuccessful candidate it must serve notice on him within 1 month of that date.
Where a person does not comply with a notice of recall, the Bill provides that he shall be deemed to have been transferred from the Reserve in the case of officers or re-enlisted in the case of other members and the normal disciplinary provisions will apply to him. A national serviceman who has been discharged to contest an election and is unsuccessful is still required to complete his national service and if he does not make application tor re-instatement, he may be served with a notice under section 26 of the National Service Act and the provisions of that Act then apply to him. Provision is made in the Bill for the return of a member who wishes to contest an election to the place of his enlistment at public expense and, if he is overseas and his family is with him, for the return of his family and household furniture to Australia.
Where a national serviceman is discharged he acquires certain rights under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act 1965-1968 and the Bill makes provision for the preservation of these rights in the event of his being called upon to complete his period of national service. Thus, servicemen will now have the right, almost generally, to contest elections in a manner which does not relieve them of their obligation or commitment to serve in the Armed Forces in the event of their being unsuccessful, electorally, but also in a way which fully protects all of their rights and benefits as servicemen. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the imposition of a levy on meat chickens. The money so collected will be used to finance the scheme for a programme of meat chicken research which I will outline in my second reading speech on the Chicken Meat Research Bill 1969. The legislation provides that the prescribed rate of levy must not exceed one-quarter of a cent for each meat chicken hatched. The actual rate of levy to be imposed will be one-tenth of a cent per bird for the first 3 years of the scheme. Thereafter, the actual rate of levy will be prescribed by regulation after recommendation to the Minister for Primary Industry by the Australian Chicken Meat Research Committee.
The Australian Chicken Meat Federation recommended to me and after examination I have accepted that the levy be payable on day-old chickens. As I indicated earlier, the Federation is representative of all sectors of the chicken meat industry, including hatcherymen. Accordingly, it is proposed that the levy will be payable by the proprietor of the hatchery where the chickens are hatched The levy is expected to raise some $80,000 annually from the industry and, together with matching funds from the Commonwealth, should provide approximately Si 60,000 annually to finance research projects of benefits to the chicken meat industry. 1 commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy imposed by the Meat Chicken Levy Bill 1969. The Bill provides for the Act to become operative on the 1st day of July 1969. It defines the types of chickens that will be liable for levy payments, provides for exemptions of certain categories of chickens, and makes provision for the necessary administrative procedures, lt is the intention that all hatcheries will be registered, and unless circumstances change, there will be no charge for registration of a hatchery. The Department of Primary Industry will publish advertisements informing hatcherymen of the requirement of registration. While all hatchery proprietors are potentially liable for the meat chicken levy, the actual situation will be that, as a result of exempions, only a limited number comprising the proprietors of the larger commercial hatcheries will pay levy. The exemption will apply to all chickens hatched at a hatchery producing fewer than 20,000 meat chickens in a year. This exemption has been made at the request of the Australian Chicken Meat Federation. On the most recent statistics available it would appear that about half of the hatcheries will in fact contribute levy. These hatcheries produce more than three-quarters of the meat chickens eventually slaughtered.
The Government has conferred with all sections of the chicken meat industry, including the hatcherymen, concerning these proposals. This Bill should be read as one with the Meat Chicken Levy Bill 1969. 1 will refer to the research scheme with which both Bills are concerned in the second reading speech on the Chicken Meat Research Bill 1969. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first lime.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment and operation of a joint Commonwealth - industry research scheme for the chicken meat industry. Funds will be raised by a levy on meat chicken hatchings and the Government will provide a matching contribution on a $1 for $1 basis to meet expenditure on approved research work, lt is the established policy of the Government to foster schemes of this nature to undertake research into the problems of our rural industries. The chicken meat industry now becomes the seventh primary industry to finance research into its own problems. Such schemes are already operating successfully for the benefit of the wool, meat, wheat, dairy and tobacco industries. The egg industry also has a similar scheme and is in the process of establishing a research programme.
The chicken meat industry is a relatively new industry in Australia. It has shown remarkable growth over recent years and is now well established and forms a significant sector of the whole poultry industry and of the rural economy. In 1967-68 more than seventy-six million chickens were slaughtered in Australia for human consumption; these yielded approximately 197 million lb of chicken meat. Production is anticipated to continue to grow in future years.
The chicken meat industry, through its federal organisation, the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, approached the Government and requested that a research scheme for their industry be introduced. The Australian Chicken Meat Federation is representative of all sectors of the industry, including breeders, hatcherymen, growers, processors and feed manufacturers. The
Government has expressed its willingness to participate with the chicken meat industry in a jointly financed research scheme. The Australian Agricultural Council was also informed of the proposed scheme and endorsed the proposal.
This Bill will establish a Chicken Meat Research Trust Account and provide for a Chicken Meat Research Committee which will make recommendations concerning expenditure from this fund. It also sets out the purposes for which money from th: fund may be used. The Research Committee will be composed of 6 representatives from the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, 2 from the Australian Agricultural Council, and one each representing the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, universities and the Department of Primary Industry. It will be noted that the industry representatives on the Committee constitute a majority. This was requested by the industry and is consistent with the situation on research committees that have been set up by legislation for the other livestock industries that I mentioned earlier. The Committee will, among other duties, have the responsibility for recommending the size of the industry levy.
The main function of the Committee will be to consider research proposals and formulate recommendations on a comprehensive programme of research expenditure for the chicken meat industry for approval by the Minister for Primary Industry. Purposes for which moneys from the fund may be expended broadly follow the precedent established for other Commonwealthindustry research schemes. Moneys from the Trust Account are to be used for scientific, economic or technical research into the chicken meat industry. The proposed research scheme is a logical extension of the schemes already operating successfully for other rural industries. In an industry that has grown so rapidly, there are many production and marketing problems to be overcome. These extend through disease control, breeding, nutrition, management and marketing, lt will complement the scheme recently established for the egg industry. There will, of course, be close liaison between the two schemes to avoid duplication of research effort and to ensure that the best use is made of the available funds. The industry is fully aware of the potential for further expansion and growth, but it is also aware that there are attendant problems whose solutions will be materially assisted by the operation of a carefully planned research programme. I consider that the industry has shown a most responsible altitude in taking the initiative to bring forward the proposals that are now incorporated in the legislation before the House. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Fairbairn, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill aims to continue to encourage the search for petroleum in Australia and Papua and New Guinea and their off-shore areas, by extending the period of operation of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act, which was originally introduced in the Senate in August 1959. That Act has been amended in 1961, 1964 and 1967 and has been effective in increasing the amount of petroleum exploration which has been curried out by exploration companies and in providing the results of this exploration to interested persons. Since the introduction of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Scheme, an amount of approximately $90m has been actually paid or committed for payment through subsidies, and agreements covering 1,155 operations have been entered into by the Commonwealth Government. In addition to the subsidy scheme, the Government continues to assist exploration through the work of the Bureau of Mineral Resources and Division of National Mapping in my Department and through tax concessions available to persons investing in petroleum exploration and to companies w ho carry out this exploration. The work of the Bureau of Mineral Resources and Division of National Mapping required an expenditure of $3. 7m on petroleum exploration during 1968-69.
The results obtained from petroleum exploration during the last few years have been much more successful than many people expected when the subsidy scheme was introduced and we now have large natural gas fields supplying gas to two capital cities with a third to be supplied later this year. There have also been discoveries of large oil fields, particularly in the off-shore Gippsland Basin area. These oil fields are expected to supply about 65% of Australian crude oil requirements by the end of 1971.
These discoveries have been encouraging and will have a very large effect in reducing Australia’s import bill. Nevertheless, if we have regard to our present reserves and in addition make generous allowances for the possible upgrading of those reserves as knowledge of the fields improves, our position still is that those reserves are only equivalent to about 15 years’ requirements of light crude allowing for the growth in demand. The light crude found in Australia to date cannot supply our full needs for certain heavy products and the light crude requirement is only about 70% of our total crude requirements. For these reasons, the Government considers it essential that encouragement to petroleum exploration be continued.
The Government is concerned with the falling off of exploration activity in Australia’s on-shore areas. We do not think that these should be neglected on account of the superior attractiveness of off-shore areas. Moreover, a wide spread of petroleum producing areas is conducive to the security of supplies and could be of assistance in developing some of Australia’s remoter areas. In the off-shore areas more favourable geological conditions have been found and as a result we believe that the present level of exploration activity there would likely be maintained for at least several more years, even if no subsidy were available for exploration off-shore. In these circumstances we are proposing to limit the general availability of subsidy to on-shore exploration.
We propose, however, to make an exception to this general limitation, in favour of Australian companies. Off-shore exploration is particularly expensive, and the capital resources of most Australian companies are relatively small. We think it desirable that
Australian companies should be assisted to preserve their equity interests in off-shore areas. Therefore, the Government has decided to subsidise operations in off-shore areas only if there is an Australian interest in the operation, and having regard to the extent of that interest.
Let me say that the Government is very conscious of the important contribution which foreign capital has made to the search for petroleum in Australia and of our continued need for such capital in this search. Although, as I have just indicated, we intend, in respect of off-shore operations, to extend certain benefits to Australian and not to foreign companies, we do not regard this as a discrimination against the foreign companies. The foreign company will carry on its business and operations on the same footing as any Australian company. What we are doing is to extend to the Australian company some special financial assistance at the expense of the Australian taxpayer. To do this helps the Australian companies but does not hinder any foreign company. Therefore I think it fair to say that our policy remains one of not discriminating against foreign companies engaged in the search of petroleum. In fact we will continue to encourage them both by the onshore subsidy provisions and by the other features of our petroleum exploration encouragement policy to which I have already referred.
During the period in which the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act has been in force, it has become apparent that having to repay subsidy on a discovery well on demand is a hardship to some companies, particularly small companies, at a time when all their available capital is required for the development of their discovery. For this reason, the Government has decided that, in future, repayments of subsidy may be made out of the income from the field that has been discovered.
With the increase in geological knowledge in many areas of Australia, it is becoming less important and increasingly difficult to distinguish between test drilling and stratigraphic drilling as defined in the petroleum Search Subsidy Act. It is also less necessary to have a category of stratigraphic drilling, which was subsidised at a higher rate and was designed to provide basic stratigraphic information in various areas.
Consequently, it has been decided to abolish these two categories of drilling and in future to have only one category to be known as exploration drilling.
As the subsidy scheme is so well-known, I will not elaborate on details, but will turn now to discuss the way in which this Bill will give effect to the Government’s proposals. The Bill will extend the operation of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act for a period of 5 years and will differentiate, in some respects, between operations carried out on-shore and operations which will be carried out in submarine areas in the vicinity of Australia. Clause 4 of the Bill removes the categories of test drilling and stratigraphic drilling from the operation of the Act and includes exploration drilling in their stead. The regulations under the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act will be amended to provide that the rate of subsidy for exploration drilling will be 30%. This rate of subsidy will then apply to both exploration drilling and geophysical operations.
The provision that subsidy on drilling operations may be paid on a footage basis has been virtually unused in recent years and, for this reason, the provision for this alternative method of payment of subsidy will be removed by this Bill. This is done by clause 5 (b) and clause 7. These are the only changes to the conditions applying to on-shore operations, with the exception of the altered conditions for repayment of subsidy in the event of a petroleum discovery, which will be provided for in the subsidy agreement.
For off-shore operations, the rate of subsidy payable will depend on the ‘Australian’ contribution towards the cost of an operation which is approved for subsidy. This is provided for in clause 5(d) of the Bill, which provides that an operation in a submarine area is not eligible for subsidy unless there is an Australian contribution towards the cost of the operation and clause 6 (a) which gives me discretion to determine the rate of subsidy payable - up to the prescribed maximum - where there is an Australian contribution towards the cost of the operation, having regard to the extent of the foreign contribution towards the cost.
For the purpose of exercising this discretion I intend to define an Australian company as one which is incorporated in Aus tralia and in which the beneficial ownership is at least 51% Australian. It will be up to a company to prove to me the extent of Australian beneficial ownership, but if the company can satisfy me that certain shares are available to the Australian public, I may consider them as beneficially owned by Australians. Any company which satisfies this definition, or any Australian individual, carrying out offshore exploration alone would receive subsidy at the rate of 30% of costs.
For companies that do not satisfy this definition the rate of subsidy would be determined as a part of 30% dependent on the percentage Australian ownership, with the same provision regarding shares available to the Australian public. For example, a company which is 40% Australianowned and which carries out an operation alone would receive subsidy at the rate of 40% of 30% and that equals 12% of the cost of the operation.
For partnership arrangements on offshore areas the rate of subsidy would be determined as a part of 30% dependent on the extent to which Australians contribute towards the total cost of the operation, whether this contribution be by an Australian company or through the Australian ownership in a company which does not satisfy the definition of an Australian company. Examples of how this arrangement will work are:
That is, half the 30% plus one-fifth of the remaining 15%, which would be another 3%, and that would make up the 18%.
In the Bill, the term ‘submarine area’ has been preferred to the term ‘continental shelf. In international legal usage the continental shelf extends only as far as the depth of water permits of exploitation of reserves by existing technology. Exploration however may be, and usually is, carried on in deeper waters. The term ‘submarine area’ is less restrictive and will permit operations to be approved for subsidy if they arc carried out in areas which are at present beyond exploitable water depths. This is considered necessary because of the rapid advances in technology which, it is expected, wilt, in the near future, permit exploitation of petroleum reserves in water depths which are not at present exploitable. This is provided for in section 4(e) and 4(g) of the Bill and by the inclusion of the words ‘or in a submarine area’ in various other places.
Section 8 (c) of the Bill provides that sub-section 2 of section 10 of the principal Act be omitted. This sub-section provided for a special repayment condition if petroleum was discovered during the course of a test drilling operation. As the category test drilling has been deleted, this special provision for repayment is no longer required. Section 1 1 of the Bill provides that the present subsidy conditions shall apply to all operations, both onshore and offshore, if they are to be completed before 30th September 1969 and that the new conditions which are provided for in the Bill will apply to operations which are to be completed after that date.
The Government is gratified with the results that have been achieved by petroleum exploration in Australia. However, it recognises the need for continuation of a vigorous exploration effort and proposes this Bill as a means of encouraging this. It is essential that the level of activity should be maintained, and encouragement should not be withdrawn at a time when further discoveries are probable and could lead to Australia becoming self-sufficient and, eventually, an exporter of petroleum.
I commend the Bill to the favourable consideration of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented , by Mr Fairbairn, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill is one of four concerned with grants which have recently been announced under the national water resources development programme. The Government has offered a grant of up to $20m under the programme to the State of New South Wales to accelerate the completion of the Copeton Dam on the Gwydir River. Legislation has already been introduced into the House to provide a grant of $6m to the South Australian Government to accelerate completion of the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline scheme. The form of the present Bill is similar to that legislation.
The New South Wales Government submitted five projects for consideration under the programme. Of these, two were selected for closer examination and were included in the short list of projects announced in May last year. These were the Copeton Dam on the Gwydir River, which is the subject of this Bill, and the Booroorban domestic and stock water supply scheme. The Booroorban scheme involves the diversion from the Coleambally Creek of some of the surface water drainage from the Coleambally Irrigation Area, and reticulation to properties in the district. Further details of this scheme are contained in the explanatory memorandum distributed to honourable members with the Bill. A detailed examination of the State proposal suggested that the benefits were likely to be significantly lower than had been foreshadowed.
The Copeton Dam is to be an earth and rock fill embankment approximately 370 feet high. It will be constructed in three stages and ultimately will have a capacity of 1.1 million acre feet. The total estimated cost of the dam is about $45m. Further details of this scheme are also contained in the explanatory memorandum distributed with the Bill. The State Government has begun preliminary work on the project. It is expected that the originally proposed timetable for construction of about 10 years will be reduced to 6 years by the Commonwealth grant. The dam will provide an assured water supply in the Gwydir River and a number of effluent streams, from which water will be diverted by private pumping plants. Expanded production under irrigation of a wide range of crops is expected when the scheme commences operation. The crops that could be grown include grain sorghum, maize, hard wheats, soya beans, cotton and fodder sorghum.
I turn now to the Bill itself, which generally follows the pattern of measures granting financial assistance to the States, and which as I have already indicated is substantially similar to the Bill relating to a grant to South Australia under the national water programme. The works themselves, in respect of which a Commonwealth grant is payable, are described in the Schedule to the Bill, and provision is made in section 5 for the Schedule to be varied if this appears desirable in terms of the objectives of the legislation. It will be noted that the Schedule includes all the works involved in the project, since the purpose of the Commonwealth grant is to enable accelerated construction of the entire project.
Provision for non-repayable grants is made in section 4 of the Bill. The pattern of Commonwealth payments is not specified precisely in this clause. The purpose of the whole programme is to assist the States in accelerating the construction of rural water conservation works, and the detailed financial programme for this project is at present under discussion with State authorities. Section 6 sets out requirements in connection with the implementation of the project, and covers the provision of information requested by the Minister, ministerial approval of the works, and approval by the Minister to contracts in excess of $500,000. Requirements for information in respect of expenditure are set out in section 7, and the usual provision for the Treasurer to make advance payments, and for repayment of overpayments is made in sections 8 and 9. 1 have pleasure in commending the Bill to the House.
– I ask the Minister for the explanatory memorandum.
– Yes, that will be distributed.
Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.
Bill - by leaver- presented by Mr Fairbairn, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is one of four concerned with grants which have recently been announced under the National Water Resources Development Programme. The Government has offered a grant of up to $4m under the programme to the State of Victoria to enable the earlier construction of the King River Dam. The form of this Bill is similar to other legislation related to projects which have been approved for inclusion in the programme. The Victorian Government submitted eight projects for consideration under the programme. Two of these, involving works to reduce salinity in the River Murray, were approved late in 1967 with a total allocation of up to $3. 6m and are now in operation. Two other projects - the King River Dam and the Mitchell River Dam - were included in the short list of projects announced last year for closer examination.
The Mitchell River proposal involves construction of a dam to regulate the river flow to stabilise and expand irrigated production of vegetables and dairying by private diversion downstream. Further details of this scheme are contained in the explanatory memorandum distributed to honourable members with the Bill. The proposals on the Mitche.I1 and King Rivers were similar in many respects and as the Victorian Government had assigned first priority to the latter, and the funds available under the programme were limited, it was considered appropriate to select the King River Dam for inclusion in the programme. The King River Dam is located at a point known as Horseshoe Bend ‘ south of the village of Cheshunt. It will be a rockfill embankment approximately 125 ft high and will store 10,000 acre ft of water. The estimated cost of the dam is$4.2m. It is expected that work will begin in the current financial year and that it will be completed in 4 years. Further details of this scheme are also contained in the explanatory memorandum distributed with the Bill.
The clam will provide an assured water supply in the King River valley with the subsequent stabilisation and expansion of irrigated tobacco production. Irrigation of pastures for dairying is also expected to expand. Water will be diverted from the river by landholders operating private pumping plants. The works themselves, in respect of which a Commonwealth grant is payable, are described in the Schedule to the Bill, and provision is made in clause 5 for the Schedule to be varied if this appears desirable in terms of the objectives of the legislation. Provision for nonrepayablegrants is made in clause 4 of the Bill.
Clause 6 sets out requirements in connection with the implementation of the project, and covers the provision of information requested by the Minister, ministerial approval of the works, and approval by the Minister of contracts in excess of$500,000. Requirements for information in respect of expenditure are set out in clause 7, and the usual provision for the Treasurer to make advance payments, and for repayments of over-payments is made in clauses 8 and 9. I have pleasure in commending the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first lime.
– I move:
Honourable members will recall that a Customs Tariff Bill was introduced into this House as recently as February last to cover amendments introduced while the House was in summer recess and that a very constructive tariff debate ensued. This Bill now introduced picks up the changes made on 26th February, 6th March and 29th April and covers lawnmowers - New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (Tariff Board report), sorbitol and band saw blades (Special Advisory Authority reports) and certain stainless steel products which implements a portion of a Tariff Board report.
In accordance with the current approach to the introduction of these Bills 1 will not reiterate the substance of the changes which were given in detail when the Proposals were introduced. However, I will be glad to supply copies of those speeches to any honourable member on request. In addition a comprehensive analysis of the changes is being distributed to honourable members for their use during the debate. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill now before the House proposes amendments to the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921 -1969. The purpose of these amendments is to enact, as from 28th March 1969, the reduced rates of excise duty on canned apricots, peaches and pears and mixtures thereof which were contained in Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1, introduced into the House on 27th March 1969. The reductions proposed are from 30c per dozen 29 oz cans to 5c per dozen 29 oz cans with equivalent reductions for other can sizes.
An excise on these commodities entered for consumption within Australia was introduced in 1963 to ensure to the Australian Canned Fruits Board sufficient funds for export development to assist the canned fruit industry in disposing of the increasing supplies of fruit then becoming available. The level of excise rate to apply is decided from time to time after consideration of recommendations in this respect from the Board. The funds have been used effectively since the introduction of the measure. As the international marketing situation developed over this period, however, there was increasing use of these funds in the form of market development allowance payments to canners exporting to markets such as West Germany. This led to friction with a major competitor - the United States of America - and an agreement was reached with the United States last year that the payment of market development allowances would be discontinued in 1969 in certain significant markets for the chief variety exported, that is, canned peaches.
Australian industry representatives participated fully in the discussions leading to this agreement. One effect of the agreement is that the Board will require considerably less funds in 1969 than it has formerly needed in order to meet its commitments. Against this background the Board reviewed its need for revenue from the excise and decided that a significant reduction in the level was warranted. The Government has accepted that recommendation.
There has been a greater degree of consultation between the main competitor countries in the canned fruit export field since the discussions with the United States last year. Two meetings have already been held with United States and South African industries and more will follow with the objective of exploring areas of possible cooperation between the industries in the development of export markets. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– I move:
The proposal involves the construction of a self-contained building of two basement levels, ground and eight upper floors. The building will be constructed of reinforced concrete and will be fully air-conditioned and capable of further staged extension. It will- accommodate switching equipment for subscribers in the City South section of the Sydney city network, to replace obsolete equipment in the existing exchange and to meet future development in this area. The estimated cost of the proposal is $1,850,000. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the , affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
(3.9] - I move: .
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill and of six associated Bills which I shall introduce shortly is to impose and provide machinery for the collection of stamp duties on a range of instruments and transactions, connected with the Australian Capital Territory, including Jervis Bay. The decision to impose stamp duty in the Australian Capital Territory was made some time ago. In making this decision the Government has taken, the view that, with the growth of Canberra as a city and as a business centre, it is no more than fair and proper that residents of the A.C.T. should bear certain taxes comparable with, those levied on the residents of the States.
In forming this view the Government has been influenced by the general consideration that residents of the. Australian Capital Territory are provided with governmental services which, in terms of ranges and standards, compare not unfavourably with those provided to residents of the States. In addition, there is the special consideration that, in spite of efforts on the part of State governments to prevent this happening, the Australian Capital Territory is being used as a tax haven for the avoidance of certain State stamp duties. Some of the State governments have made strong representations to the Commonwealth seeking its co-operation in preventing this loss of State revenues.
In its consideration of the -range of instruments and transactions on which duty should be payable the Government has taken into account such matters as cost of collection relative to the revenues , likely to be produced. The conclusion was reached that it would not be appropriate to impose duties in the Territory on as wide a range of instruments and transactions as is generally subject to duty in the States. The proposed duties are, therefore, confined to those that will serve to lessen the attractiveness of putting business through Canberra so as to avoid State duties or that can be justified in terms of expected revenue yields.
For technical reasons a number of Bills are required to give effect to what is, in essence, one legislative scheme. It would best suit the convenience of the House, I think, if in my speech on this Bill, which will provide the means of administration of the scheme as a whole, I state the scope of the proposed duties as a whole.
It is proposed that payment of the duties will be made under systems similar to those which State authorities employ and that the administration of the legislation will be in the hands of the Commissioner of Taxation.
Broadly speaking, an enterprise in the Territory that is regularly involved in dutiable transactions, such as a bank or insurance company, will be able to make a monthly return to the Commissioner together with a remittance of duty payable for the month. In other cases payment of duty will be indicated by affixing duty stamps or by impressment of a duty stamp on a document produced to the Taxation Office.
As is customary in our taxing laws, the Bill providing administrative procedures contains provisions obliging the Commissioner and his officers to maintain secrecy as to the affairs of taxpayers. There are also provisions giving a taxpayer dissatified with an assessment of duty a right of objection to the assessment. In the event of the objection being disallowed the taxpayer may request that the Commissioner’s decision be reviewed by a Taxation Board of Review constituted under the Income Tax Assessment Act. An appeal against a Board’s decision may be made to the Supreme Court of the Territory on a question of law.
The duties will come into operation on a date to be proclaimed and will not in general affect instruments or transactions completed before that date.
Turning now to the various subjects and rates of duty, I refer firstly to the duty to p imposed on cheques drawn on a branch of a bank in the Territory. This will be payable at the rate of 5c on each cheque. Dutiable cheque forms issued by a bank will bear an authorised imprint indicating that duty has been paid. The duty will, in the first instance, be paid by the bank, which will account for it to the Commissioner by means of monthly returns. The bank will be authorised to recover from its customers duty paid by it on cheque forms issued.
I mention at this point that a general exemption from all the proposed duties is to be provided for public hospitals, public benevolent institutions, religious institutions and public educational institutions, and for visiting diplomatic personnel and their families. The exemptions for a diplomatic mission in Australia are conditional upon reciprocal treatment being afforded an Australian mission in the country represented here. Hire purchase agreements made in the Territory are also to be subject to duty. The proposed rate is H% of the purchase price to be paid by the hirer under the agreement, after excluding the amount of his deposit and any terms or insurance charges that have been added. No duty will be payable where the purchase price does not exceed $100.
Companies or persons who engage in the Territory in the letting of goods on hire purchase may have their names recorded by the Commissioner of Taxation as registered owners. The liability to pay the duty will be imposed on the registered owners who will, as is the case under corresponding New South Wales law, be able to recover it from hirers of goods. The duty will be paid monthly to the Commissioner by the registered owners who will be required to lodge returns giving details of dutiable agreements that have been made during the particular month. Owners who do not wish to register may pay the duty by affixing stamps to hire purchase agreements.
Certain insurance business is also within the scope of the proposed duties. Duty will be charged at the rate of 5% of premiums received in the Australian Capital Territory by insurers in respect of insurance of real or personal property located in the Territory and of other classes of insurance that are effected in the Territory. Some classes of insurance are, however, to be specifically exempt from duty. These include life insurance, personal accident insurance that is undertaken solely in connection with life insurance, compulsory third party motor vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.
Insurers will be required to lodge returns each month with the Commissioner giving details of dutiable insurance effected during that month. Payment of the duty is to be made when these returns are lodged. Insurers are authorised to recover duty borne by them from their clients.
Duty is also to be imposed on transfers of shares and debentures of companies and of rights to take up these securities. The general rate proposed is 40c in each SI 00 or part thereof of the value of securities transferred. Where the value of securities the subject of a transfer is, however, less than $100 the rate will, in effect, be 10c for each $25 or part thereof.
The broker return system now in use in all the States will also be employed in the Territory in cases where securities listed on a stock exchange are traded through brokers for full consideration. Under this system duty is payable separately on the purchase and sale sides of each transaction. It will be payable in this way in the Territory where a purchase or sale is made in the Territory by a broker on his own account or as the result of an order given in the Territory by a client who is not a broker.
The rates of Territory duty proposed for transfers coming under the broker return system are the same as are imposed by each of the States on transactions falling within that system. Therefore, where both the purchase and sale side of a transaction are dutiable in the Territory, the whole amount of duty of, broadly, 40c per $100, will be payable here. Where one side of a transaction is dutiable in a State, the aggregate duty will be the same as for a wholly Territory transaction, but half of it will be payable in the relevant State and the other half in the Territory. Duty on transactions within the broker return system will be payable by brokers on lodgment of monthly returns to the Commissioner and may be recovered by them from buyers and sellers of securities.
No duty is proposed in respect of transfers of government bonds or stock, or of securities issued by local government bodies or by public authorities constituted under the law of the Commonwealth or a Stale or Territory of the Commonwealth. As part of the comprehensive stamp duties to be imposed by this legislation, conveyances of freehold land in the Territory and grants and assignments of leases of land in the Territory will be subject to duty.
The transfer fees at present charged on conveyances and transfers of estates in land under the Real Property Ordinance of the Territory will cease to be payable upon stamp duty becoming payable. Payment of duty on conveyances will be indicated by adhesive or impressed stamps on the relevant instruments. . For a transfer of freehold land the proposed rate of duty is $1 for each $100, or part thereof, of the value of the interest transferred. This basis of duty will also apply in respect of a transfer of a Crown lease granted for more than 5 years. For other transfers of leases, including Crown leases granted for 5 years or less, the rate of duty will be the same as I have just mentioned, but it will be imposed on the consideration given by the transferee. The remaining dutiable case is the grant of a lease, other than by the Commonwealth.
For a grant of a lease, the general rate of duty I have mentioned will be payable on the consideration given by the grantee, other than by way of rent. In addition to that duty, there will also be payable in this case 30c for each . $100, or part thereof, of the total rent payable for the specified period for which - the lease is given. In each case the liability for duty will fall on the grantee or -transferee. There will be no duty on the grant of a Crown lease.
Duty is also to be imposed on other classes of instrument, which I mention separately because, while they are of the same nature as cheques and transfers of listed securities, they cannot readily be brought within the systems- devised for imposition and payment of duty on cheques and transfers of listed securities. Payment of duty on these classes of instruments will be indicated by means of adhesive or impressed stamps. Duty is to be payable at the same rate as for cheques - 5c per instrument - on bills , of exchange and promissory notes either drawn, made, negotiated, presented for payment or paid in the Territory.
Transfers of securities of a company which are not dutiable under the broker return system, e.g. because the securities are unlisted or the transfers are for less than full value, will be dutiable at the rate of 5c for each $12.50, or part thereof, of the unencumbered value of the securities subject of the transfer. This duty, which is effectively at the same rate as for transfers coming under the broker return system, will be payable in respect of securities on a register maintained in the Territory by the company that issued them. A memorandum giving comprehensive explanations of technical details of the legislation is being made available to honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
[3.20) - I move:
The basic purpose of this Bill is to impose In the Australian Capital Territory a duty of Se on cheques draws on branches of banks in the Territory. I have already outlined the scope of the cheque duty in my speech on the Australian Capital Territory Taxation (Administration) Bill. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill, in association with the Australian Capital Territory Taxation (Administration) Bill, which I introduced a short time ago, is to impose a duty on hire-purchase transactions entered into by registered owners of goods in the Australian Capital Territory. As indicated in my speech on the earlier Bill, the rate of duty is proposed to be li% of the purchase price of the goods, excluding any deposit paid and certain other charges. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
This is a further Bill associated with the Australian Capital Territory Taxation (Administration) Bill which I introduced a short time ago. Its primary purpose is to impose a duty on certain insurance premiums received by insurers in the Australian Capital Territory. The rate of duty proposed is 5% of premiums received. As indicated in my speech on the associated Bill, duty will be payable in respect of insurance on real or personal property located in the Territory and on certain other classes of insurance that are effected in the Territory. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
This is another Bill associated with the Australian Capital Territory Taxation (Administration) Bill. As I explained in my speech on that Bill it is proposed to impose duty separately on the sale and purchase sides of transfers of listed securities made through brokers for full value. This Bill will declare and impose the rates of duty in respect of the selling side of these transactions. The rates proposed are 5c for each $25. or part thereof, of a sale price of less than $100, and 20c for each $100, or part thereof, of a sale price of $100 or more. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill, also associated with the Australian Capital Territory Taxation (Administration) Bill, deals with the rates of duty in respect of the purchasing side of transactions in listed marketable securities. It thus complements the preceding Bill, and it imposes the same rates in respect of purchases of securities as the preceding Bill imposes in respect of sales. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill is the final measure necessary to complete the legislative scheme of the proposed stamp duty for the Australian Capital Territory. It imposes duty on conveyances of freehold land and on grants or assignments of leases of land in the Territory. I gave full details of the proposed rates of duty on these conveyances in my speech on the principal associated Bill, the Australian Capital Territory Taxation (Administration) Bill.
It also imposes duty on bills of exchange and promissory notes, other than cheques, that are drawn or made in the Territory and on hire purchase agreements and instruments of transfer of marketable securities where duty is not payable on the basis of monthly returns under any of the other taxing measures I have already introduced. The proposed rates for these were also stated fully in my speech on the Australian Capital Territory Taxation (Administration) Bill. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22 April (vide page 1304), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– 1 had not expected lo be leading for the Opposition in this debate but, the situation being what it is, I shall do my best. I certainly approve of the measures that are being taken by the Government under the Bill that is now before the House. The Australian Labor Party does not in any way oppose the measure. In his second reading speech on this matter the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) pointed out that the Bill seeks authority for the Government to give guarantees on behalf of the Commonwealth in respect of certain loans made to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory in connection with the scheme of Commonwealth assistance in meeting the capital and partial interest costs of constructing independent primary and secondary schools.
The Minister reviewed something of the history of aid to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory in the course of his quite brief but informative second reading speech. I think it is worth while to recall the Minister’s words. At page 1303 of Hansard of 22nd April 1969 he is reported to have said:
Commonwealth aid to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory was developed in response to various proposals from school authorities for assistance with loans and for direct grants. In July 1956 the Commonwealth Government issued a statement recognising the special problems for schooling associated with the accelerated growth rate of Canberra, lt introduced a scheme of partial reimbursement of interest on loans raised by the school authorities to meet capital expenditure on secondary schools. It is generally referred to as the interest subsidy scheme. On 5th September 1961 the Government extended the scheme to primary school projects. The total cost of projects approved under these arrangements was $3,988,656.
Then with the concurrence of the House the Minister has incorporated in Hansard a list of the schools which had received assistance for projects approved under the interest reimbursement scheme and later he incorporated a further list of the schools which had received assistance under the arrangements that were made in 1965. It is obvious that the Commonwealth has had to meet quite special problems within the Australian Capital Territory because of the rapid growth of the national capital consequent upon the transfer of departments from Melbourne to this place. Just to illustrate how the needs of education have grown, I would point out that when I was first elected to this Parliament in 1951, which is just over 18 years ago, there were only three Government schools in Canberra. There was the Ainslie Primary School, Telopea Park, which was then a higher elementary school, and Canberra High School. There were also, of course, the smaller schools at Hall, Tharwa, Duntroon and Uriarra and the Canberra Technical College, but at the time in Canberra there were only the three ordinary schools to which I have referred. Today there are over forty Government schools in the Australian Capital Territory and an everincreasing number of church schools.
I admit that the provision made for education at primary and secondary levels here is excellent indeed. In general, despite some shortcomings, the Commonwealth has accepted its responsibilities well. In the provision of buildings it has set a high standard and generally all schools are well equipped, although some still lack facilities that should be provided. As the Minister knows, I have been a critic of past administration not in relation to independent schools but in relation to government schools. I am not now speaking of administration under the present Minister’s direction, but I have been a critic of past administration in that the Commonwealth has not always dealt equally with various suburbs of this city; that is to say, it has not provided facilities of equal standards in all suburbs. It has provided in some selected suburbs facilities far above what it has provided in other suburbs which might be regarded as being not quite so salubrious. This has been a criticism of the action of the Government in the past; it is not now a valid criticism because under the present Minister’s direction I believe that equal facilities are being provided. At least we have come to the era in which schools are built as completed schools and no longer are they built in stages, as was the pattern previously.
With the rapid growth of Canberra and the dramatic increase in population in the last decades church schools, which cater for at least a quarter of the school population, have been faced with extreme difficulties. Quite properly the Commonwealth has recognised a special responsibility in this field and has provided quite substantial financial assistance. The first, as I have mentioned, is in subsidising interest payments on some capital expenditures and more recently in undertaking repayment of money borrowed for approved school building projects. These were projects envisaging classroom accommodation, of course. In addition, the general Commonwealth provision of funds for science laboratories has assisted church schools here, and there have been grants to establish reference libraries, as well as increased allowances for students.
New measures of assistance to church and independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory were announced by the Minister for Education and Science in December last. These new proposals, which I think are proving and will prove of great assistance to those responsible for the maintenance of church and independent schools, extend the form of assistance adopted in 1965 when the
Commonwealth undertook to repay money borrowed for approved school building projects. These payments will now be available to liquidate debts on schools built between 1956 and 1965 for which previously the Commonwealth had paid only the interest subsidy.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I refer again to the second reading speech by the Minister. Following on from what I have said about the announcement of policy in December 1968, the Minister explained that:
The Minister pointed out:
The guarantee will not cover the cost of ineligible items such as residential »r church facilities and will be limited to the reasonable cost of each project as determined by the Minister.
Church schools in Canberra are maintained at a very high standard indeed. Their contribution to the education of the children of this Territory is quite outstanding. On my visits to church schools, I have been tremendously impressed with the dedication of teachers, the high level of instruction and the splendid tone of the classes. The church authorities can be justly proud of their achievements.
The Minister incorporated in Hansard a table which lists many of the church and independent schools established in Canberra. I wish to refer to some of them by name. There are the Canberra Church of England Boys Grammar School and the Canberra Church of England Girls Grammar School. These are establishments of the very highest order. There are the Catholic Girls High School, Braddon, and the Catholic Girls High School, Griffith. These are schools of comparable stature catering for the needs of the northern and southern halves of the city. There are boys colleges including St Edmund’s College, Daramalan College and, more recently, the Marist Brothers College, established in the suburb of Pearce in the Woden Valley. The establishment of this school was substantially through assistance by the Commonwealth.
Throughout practically all the suburbs of this city there are the Catholic primary schools which are catering for the needs of children and which are not only giving the secular education that the children require to the standard that the State demands but also producing children who are being given the precept and example that will create good citizens for the future of this country. We are fortunate in all our schools here - the schools run by the Commonwealth and in the schools that are run by the churches in Canberra. We talk about church and independent schools. Schools here that are non-government schools are all church schools. As I have said, they are a credit to those churches, just as the Government schools are a credit to this Government and to the teachers of the New South Wales Department of Education who staff the Government schools in Canberra.
It might be fitting at this stage to refer to what one might hope to be some misunderstanding of remarks made by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) which were reported in Sydney newspapers quite recently. The Attorney-General was addressing or-
– He was electioneering.
– He might have been electioneering. He was addressing a meeting of Catholic parents, on the night of Sunday, 4th May. I am quoting from a report in the Canberra Times’ of 5th May in which the Attorney-General is said to have given a certain amount of encouragement, naturally enough, to the audience. The AttorneyGeneral was quoted as saying that he was in favour of the dual system of education and that he felt that it was undesirable to have in Australia a purely secular system of education. The report quotes him as saying:
I believe it could be a real danger for Australia if all our youth grew up without access to spiritual values, without training in our accepted conventions of behaviour.
Those remarks of the Attorney-General, whether or not they have been interpreted correctly, have aroused feelings of resentment amongst those who staff our State or Government schools in the Australian Capital Territory.
– Did the honourable member see the Attorney-General’s answer to that in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’?
– I have not seen it, unfortunately. I wish to refer now to criticism that was made on 8th May. I have said that this statement aroused some resentment. I refer to the ‘Canberra Times’ of 8th May which reports that the ACT Parent-Teacher Council had called on the Attorney-General to apologise for his remarks about State school education. The report states that the President of the Council said that the Council on Monday night had adopted unanimously this resolution:
This Council representing teachers and parents deplores the implication by the Attorney-General that State school education is devoid of spiritual values and training in accepted conventions of behaviour.
If there has been some other reference to this matter, I have not seen it. If, in not having seen it, I am doing an injustice to the Attorney-General, I apologise. These are the only references that I have seen to this particular matter.
– What is the honourable member’s comment upon it?
– Upon what?
– Upon that statement?
– I am not making any comment on the statement by the Attorney-General. What I am saying is that I very much appreciate the dual system of education. I believe that parents have the right to determine whether their children shall receive with their secular education their spiritual education also. 1 believe that, if they exercise that right, they should not be penalised financially for exercising that right. Therefore, I agree with and applaud the action taken by this Government to provide assistance to church and independent schools within the Australian Capital Territory. But it is not to be thought that there is lacking in Government schools staffed by teachers of the New South Wales Department of Education any proper standard of spiritual values or standards of behaviour.
– Thousands of clergymen visit those schools each week.
– Yes, I think that that is true. The measure that we are discussing is one of financial assistance. It is appropriate to recall that running costs in all schools, private and public, have soared with the introduction of the Wyndham scheme which has added a year to secondary school courses and also, of course, with the increasing emphasis on the teaching of science subjects. 1 would welcome the decision by the Commonwealth further to extend aid to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory by providing grants to train teachers and to assist in the payment of salaries. In my mind this further assistance would be fully justified. It is undoubted that in a democratic educational system all individuals must be given equal opportunities to develop their innate capacities for leading free happy and useful lives.
In such a system all children must be given favourable conditions for the free and harmonious growth of their intellect, emotions and abilities. Education must promote the love of freedom by developing critical judgment, the ability to choose rationally, the capacity for self-government and a sense of social responsibility. Education also should instil a belief in the equal rights of all men and a respect for the essential “humanity of all individuals, irrespective of differences in nationality, colour or belief. I believe that equality in education means that all people are entitled to a universal basic minimum education, which should provide every individual with the skills and knowledge required for life in a modern community. It is not only the technologist but the ordinary citizen, who should be able to make intelligent use of the fruits of technology.
This is particularly so because the growth of education carries the’ potential danger of widening and entrenching social differences based on specialisations and professionalism which can lead to great inequalities of opportunity, of income and of social status between the educated and the uneducated. Only a community of educated people is in a position to resist these tendencies. Equality means, further, that all persons are entitled to have equal efforts spent on their education, that an apprentice is entitled to have the same effort spent on his education as a university student and that individual capacities are not simply innate and unchallengeable but can be materially affected by ‘social conditions. Equality demands not only the removal of social obstacles for talented individuals but the provision of social conditions which will give all individuals positive inducements to achieve the. realisation of their own capabilities. Such a belief in the personal worth of each individual also demands the recognition that different individuals require different treatment and that equality in education is achieved not by uniformity, which ignores these differences, but by diversity. Diversity in our education system is provided by the dual system of schools maintained by the State and schools maintained and supported by churches and independent authorities.
I think that the measures being authorised by this Bill are just. I believe that they will be the precursors to further extension of aid to church and independent schools within the Territories controlled by the Commonwealth. In the light of what the Attorney-General is reported to have said in Sydney we might look forward to an extension of this form of aid beyond the Territories of the Commonwealth, to the six States of the Commonwealth, I would think probably before the Federal election at the end of this year. One should not let go without mention the fact that it was only in 1963 that the Commonwealth found itself in a position to offer quite extensive forms of assistance to church and independent schools. It was, of course, merely a coincidence that the announcement was made during the course of an election campaign which resulted in a quite substantial majority for the Government which had, at the previous election, missed defeat by a few hundred votes. The Government managed, with its efforts in the field of State aid, and perhaps - let us give credit - in other fields as well, to restore its fortunes by these measures. I am not suggesting that these are the only measures that will win support for governments or for political parties.
I applaud what the Government has done. I have fortunately been in the position that I have never had to change my mind on this issue of State aid. I have always believed in aid to church and independent schools. I hope that if the Government takes further steps in this field, as presumably it will do in the months that lie ahead between now and the date of the Federal election, the subject can be discussed without the narrowness and bigotry which used to be associated with any reference to this subject in the Australian community. I hope sincerely that we are long past the days when we will set man against man, child against child, because of a need to ensure that educational opportunities are equal to all children. I do not suggest that the measure before the House will achieve that equality. I do not suggest that the system of education we are presently pursuing will achieve that desirable equality. But that is the aim towards which we should be directing our efforts. As I have said, I hope that this measure and any further measures will not be blatantly political, vote-seeking measures. I hope that they will be measures directed towards the welfare of the whole of the community and that they will recognise that all people are entitled to have equal efforts spent on their education. I hope, too, that this question can be discussed without rancour, bitterness or bigotry.
– lt is quite pleasant to be able to rise to speak to this Bill and to be able to congratulate the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser) on his approval of the Bill. He congratulated the Government and the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on the work that is being done, particularly in connection with the functioning of independent schools. I think that the only place in his speech when he stepped off the mark a little was when he referred to a reported statement of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) which was made at a meeting at St Marys a few weeks ago. Apparently the honourable member did not read the article which corrected the statement. On that occasion the AttorneyGeneral was speaking to a meeting of representatives from independent schools.
Of course, it is a fact that independent schools place emphasis particularly on spiritual values as well as on academic education. This is no reflection whatsoever upon the State school system as it exists. I have a great number of friends in the State school system, and I can vouch for their appreciation of spiritual values and the approach which they adopt towards teaching children. But it is a fact that a very small minority of teachers in public or State schools, particularly in the higher field of education, have some unfortunate influences upon young people. I do not mean the very young; I mean those in the higher field of education, particularly those at universities. These teachers set very bad examples for the young people growing up. Indeed, not only do these examples have no spiritual values in them, but they encourage conditions which we are not discussing today under this Bill but which are unfortunate for the people of Australia. Certain long-haired professors advocate Communism in almost its nakedness, free love and all these sorts of things. This is dreadful. This is within a State system and it does not condemn the whole State system in any shape or form. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why many parents choose to send their children to independent schools. Perhaps it is because they know that this danger is guarded against in the independent schools.
As the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory said, this Bill proposes a simple scheme to guarantee loans which are borrowed by independent schools in the ACT and in the Northern Territory. This will be of tremendous value to these schools because it will undoubtedly encourage lenders from a very much wider field than would otherwise have been available to these schools, the many Commonwealth instrumentalities in particular to lend money and to lend it quickly. As a matter of fact I understand that there is difficulty in Canberra at the present time in relation to certain capital moneys required for the construction of schools. This Bill will encourage that money to be made available very quickly. The purpose of this Bill is to enable a Commonwealth guarantee to be given and this will mean that these institutions and private lenders and others will be able to lend money at much lower rates of interest than was previously the case. This of itself will not only assist the schools but it will also assist the Government because of the effect that it will have on the amount of money which it would have had to spend to assist the schools.
When discussing a Bill of this nature it is interesting to look behind the scenes at the background, as was mentioned by the Minister for Education and Science when he introduced this Bill. The background of independent schools, particularly in Canberra, has its basis in the enormous transfer of Government departments to this area. The children of many public servants who had been attending independent schools in the cities from which they came had nowhere to go here, and it would have been impossible, because ‘ of the quick growth of Canberra, for those independent bodies to build the schools necessary to keep pace with the needs of the children. Without Commonwealth aid it would have been impossible for the independent schools which were required to have been built and indeed if the aid had not been given the schools would have cost the Commonwealth a much greater sum than what the Commonwealth has now committed itself to. This Commonwealth aid started in 1956 when I was in the Ministry, and I remember the discussion very well. In the first place the aid was limited to the partial rebate of interest on moneys advanced to secondary schools. In 1961 this aid was seen to be quite inadequate and it was extended to the primary school system in Canberra. In November 1965 the aid was still quite inadequate and at that time a new scheme was introduced to meet the capital over a period of 20 years, and the interest up to the long term bond’ rate. Over and above that the schools met their own commitments themselves.
I agree with the honourable member for the ACT that it is a wonderful thing that we have now reached the stage where there is general acceptance of the principle of State aid to independent schools. I believe that this is because of the great breakthrough by this Government in 1956. I know that for a time there was a feeling of bitterness, mostly based on sectarian bias, and it is a great pity that this was so because sectarian issues really should not have entered into consideration at all. As the years have gone by most people have come to accept the justice of assistance being given. Underour system of education, which is. compulsory in this country, we have developed a dual system of education - education both by independent and State schools under which parents have rightly been given the right - they must be given it - to decide where their children shall go to be educated. The parents should have this right in a dual system of education without in any way being penalised for the decision which they make. It is true to say that at least 25% of the school children in this country attend independent schools. The attitude of the Government was summarised by the Minister for Education and Science when he made this statement in this House on 27th February 1969: 1 believe the Government has never been able to see any justice or equity in the view that governments must support to the full education for threequarters of the population but that governments should give no support of any kind to the other quarter of the population who make considerable efforts on their own behalf to supply educational needs, t think the Government has never seen justice or equity in that view.
I think that statement by the Minister clearly .and definitely states the view of the Government in relation to assistance to independent schools. The Commonwealth has in fuel for quite a long time assisted not only schools within its own Territories, such as the ACT, but it has also assisted schools outside of its own Territories. In addition to assisting schools within its own Territories the Commonwealth has spent a very large sum of money on help to the States particularly for universities by way of scholarships and grants for science laboratories, school libraries and in many other ways including teacher training. This help is recognised by both the State and independent schools. Let me give some idea of direct Commonwealth expenditure on education in the past compared with the estimated direct Commonwealth expenditure on education for this current year. Expenditure by the .Commonwealth on goods and services in 1963-64 amounted to $23,283,000, and this year it is estimated that it will be $51,729,000. Direct payments in 1963-64 to the States, that is, to universities, colleges of advanced education, science laboratories, technical training facilities, teacher training colleges, school libraries, pre-school teachers’ colleges and Australian Research Grants Committee, amounted to $33,860,000. lt is estimated that this will be $126,004,000 for 1968-69. In scholarships and allowances - and we all know of the contribution made, which commenced in 1951 - the expenditure has increased from $10,505,000 in 1963-64 to an estimated $32,842,000 in 1968-69. Tn 1963-64 the total direct expenditure by the Commonwealth on education in Australia was $67,648,000 and it is estimated that it will be S2 1 0.575,000 for 1968-69. Those figures give some little inkling of what this Government has done in the field of education.
Unfortunately the attitude which has been adopted by the Australian Labor Party has not been so helpful. It is very good indeed to see that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has now changed his mind and is now advocating that support should be given to independent schools. This idea should be encouraged. I know that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) intends to speak on this debate and I want to say that I think it is a very good thing that the Labor Party is now going to support aid to independent schools. But we must remember first that this is an election year and secondly that the Labor Party has been hopelessly divided for a very long time on the subject of State aid. 1 well remember a broadcast made by Mr Allan Fraser, the former member for the electorate of Eden-Monaro and the brother of the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, who has just spoken. Quite obviously the family thinks alike on these matters. In a broadcast on 13th February 1966 Mr Allan Fraser quoted a list of a number of decisions on State aid recently reached by the Australian Labor Party’s Federal Executive. The decisions were as follows:
In other words, the Labor Party was going to challenge the legal aspects of State aid. Mr Fraser also pointed out:
This is nol an isolated case because in July 1966 a special Federal Australian Labor Party conference dealing with this matter of education passed a resolution which was not in favour of aid. The honourable member opposite can check on this. The resolution stated:
Citizens who do not wish to use the school facilities provided by the State, whether by conscience or other reasons, shall have the absolute right to develop the independent system of schools of a recognised standard provided that the cost of capital development of this system is nol a charge on any government.
The 1967 annual conference of the Victorian Australian Labor Party passed a similar resolution:
Conference reiterates support of Clause 4 of the former Federal Education policy which reads: Citizens who do not want to use the school facilities-
The policy is> worded in the same way as before -
This meant that there would be no assistance given by a Labor government. 1 think that this is proof of the dissension which exists among individual members of the Australian Labor Party. 1 sincerely hope that the Leader of the Opposition will be able to gather these dissidents together and so obtain a proper policy. in 1.968 a statement was made at the conference of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party directing that the State executive and the Parliamentary Party oppose any grants to non-government schools. It drew attention to the injustice in present forms of assistance which embody preferential treatment to non-government schools and students such as higher scholarship allowances, travel entitlements based on religion and interest payments on loans. The conference called on the State parliamentary party to take appropriate action to remedy these anomalies.
I am quoting these matters only to show that the Opposition up to this point of time has been very very divided on the question of support for independent schools. I am delighted tha* the Leader of the Opposition has now come out, even if overtly, in this matter. I was at a meeting where he made the statement that his party would offer at the next election $50m, half of which would go to independent schools and half to State schools. This is very good. I commend him upon this action. But can he bring his followers with him? This is the question. The independent school system has reached a stage where it cannot guess about these matters, lt has to know because without any doubt whatsoever we have reached a certain crisis in education.
I realise that the problem of the States in both State and independent school education is now a very big one. It presents a major problem for all States. The difficulty is that this country is growing so fast. We have so much to do so quickly that it is almost impossible to keep pace with our educational needs. Our population too is very young and therefore the school population has grown enormously in recent years. I believe there is a need for tolerance on all sides in relation to this matter. Tolerance should be shown by the independent schools, by the State schools and indeed by the people.
In building a young country like ours we cannot neglect our national development, our foreign affairs or our:defence. Although we are a nation of only 12 million people these activities have to he carried on. We are growing so fast that we cannot carry out everything we would like to undertake at present. I make a plea to both the people who- are in control of State education and those who are in control of independent education that we must be tolerant and not expect all things at once. But help must come because we have reached the stage, as I have said, of complete crisis in education. I believe this is true and that the Government is fully aware of the situation. I have confidence that the Government will do the right thing.
However, I think that the crisis is more real - if one can use that word - in the case of independent schools than perhaps in any other form of education. The cost of education in the independent system has grown so high - costs in all these things have grown tremendously in recent years - that it has gone quite beyond the. ability of tens of thousands of parents .to, educate their children in independent schools. Over a great number of years such parents have made sacrifices in order to educate their children. This country sometimes forgets that these people are sacrificing their happiness, their comforts and their needs because they are doing their best to educate their children. I refer not only to parents of children who are attending independent schools but also to the tens of thousands of people who pay taxation. They are also voluntarily taxing themselves to assist the independent school system.
– What 1 say is right. As a matter of fact, I can tell the honourable member that I. do it every week. There are tens of thousands of people all over Australia who do this.
When we think of the financing of the independent school system, we can realise the great saving that is made for it by the dedicated teachers who have given their services merely for their keep. I refer here to the nuns, who have carried the convent schools, and also the Brothers. They do not receive salaries at award rates. They do not look for any monetary consideration. They have done this work without salary over the years in the interests of the children growing up in this country. But today they cannot cope with the situation or with the great number of children who need to be taught. We have reached the stage where salaries must be paid to people to come in and assist the system. This is one of the things which make it impossible for such independent schools to carry on at present. They have to pay outside teachers, who are difficult to get. So the position is that we have these conditions. One other condition of the system that one could mention is the length of time that children spend at school, particularly under the Wyndham scheme in New South Wales which has extended the period that children spend at school.
This too has added to the cost and the cost of education is becoming higher as the years go by. If something is not done the independent schools will not be able to continue, and this, on the pure economics of the situation, would cost the Government more in the long run than the assistance they need to tide them over their present financial difficulties. I believe that the Commonwealth must give practical help and go far beyond its own territory, as it is doing in this Bill. I know we have done a lot. 1 have stated that we have done particularly in the fields of secondary schools and universities, but we must now, I believe, come to direct assistance to the primary schools. I do not know what the Government’s intention is in relation to these matters, but I do believe that the time has come when we cannot turn our backs on the need for assistance to the primary system of education as well as the secondary field and the universities. The people of this country should be eternally proud and grateful for what this Government, which has been in power continuously for 20 years, has done for education. I believe the assistance it has given, would never have been given had it not been elected to power. I believe that it will continue doing this good work in the interests of the growth of this young nation and- the education of the children, but the recognition of the needs of independent schools is essential if our education system, is to go on.
This is r.o reflection upon the State system, which also must not be neglected.I do not, for one moment, say that the State school system .should be neglected, but the Bill we are discussing provides guarantees to enable the private independent system to raise money to carry on with their schools and I believe that help should be given.
– You think that the parents of children who go to State schools are Godless.
– I do not say that. The State school system is a different system altogether. It is paid for by the State governments and assisted very much by this Government in many respects. But this is not what I am discussing today. I cast no reflection whatever on the State system and I say quite genuinely that I admire it in many ways. But I believe that we must have a dual system. I believe that parents have an inalienable right to decide where their children are sent for their education and that in this dual system there is an obligation upon this Government and every State Government to assist these people to maintain their independent schools which play a valuable part in the growth of this country.
– The Opposition supports this Bill. Like my colleague, the honourable, member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser), I want to mention some of the matters that we consider are of very great importance in this legislation. But before I turn to the Bill itself I shall deal with one or two comments that were made by the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). First of all, it is quite obvious .that the honourable member has not been very studious. He talked about aid to independent schools, but one can only assume that he had not read the policy speech delivered by the former Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), in 1966. lt was quite clear then that the Australian Labor Party believed that a measure of assistance should be provided in this field. The honourable member for Bennelong spent some time in dealing with the policy of the Austraiian Labor Party and made some reference to the attitude of the Labor Party, which was confirmed by the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party in 1967.
The honourable member for Bennelong, I think, was more concerned about the political implications of this question than the moral implications and one could see this trend right through his speech. But at least the honourable member for Bennelong, unlike some supporters of the Government, has been prepared to concede that there is a crisis in education. Indeed, if I may use his exact terms, he said:
There is a complete crisis in education.
The honourable member for Bennelong has had the opportunity on a number of occasions in the last 2 or 3 years - in 1966 when I moved a resolution asking the Government to set up a committee of inquiry to examine education at the primary, secondary and technical levels, and again last year - to support the Opposition, but, like many of his colleagues, he has remained singularly silent on this issue. Now he informs the House that there is a crisis in education as though he has discovered something new about education. Has not every Opposition member in this Parliament been pointing to the crisis in education at the primary, secondary and technical levels for a very long period? Indeed, had it not been for the attitude adopted by honourable members on this side of the House, as a result of deliberations of the Caucus Committee on Education, it is very doubtful whether the Government would have been prepared to provide even the measure of assistance that it has provided for university education.
– The honourable member cannot even believe that himself.
– The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) will have the opportunity to talk about these matters when he replies in this debate. The fact remains that the Opposition has pointed out that until such time as the Government is prepared to accept the same responsibility for primary, secondary and technical education that it now accepts for university education the crisis to which the honourable member for Bennelong has referred will continue. The inquiry that we have asked for on a number of occasions should not only investigate education at government schools but at non-government schools as well.
One can at least appreciate that the honourable member for Bennelong has had a change of mind on this question and he now agrees with the Australian Teachers Federation, parents and friends associations and members on this side of the House who have pointed to the crisis in education at the primary, secondary and technical levels. This Bill, which, as I have indicated, has the support of the Opposition, is designed to guarantee loans made to independent schools in ‘ the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. In his second reading speech the Minister for Education and Science pointed out that assistance of this kind had been given to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory for 13 years. But this’ Bill provides the House with its first opportunity in that period to debate the subject of Commonwealth assistance to independent schools.
In 1964 and 1965 legislation providing assistance for the erection of science blocks was not opposed by the Labor Party. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory referred to the science blocks legislation and pointed out that in 1963 the principle of providing assistance to non-government schools for the erection of science blocks was introduced by the Government purely for ‘ political purposes. On other occasions the Opposition has pointed to this fact. But we have supported the legislation, at the same time pointing out that this type of assistance has not solved the problems of education. New science blocks have been provided in various parts of the Commonwealth but we have consistently pointed out that it is futile to provide science blocks - to provide the most modern equipment - unless, the teachers are available to man the science blocks.
The Labor Party has: supported tha legislation providing assistance for the erection of science blocks. Last year it supported the legislation which provided assistance to non-government schools, just as it supported the legislation which provided assistance for libraries in schools. The legislation to which 1 have referred provided assistance for both government and non-government schools. When the legislation relating to libraries was before the Parliament last year we endeavoured to have it extended to cover primary schools as well as secondary schools. Our efforts were resisted by the Government. I remember pointing out to the House at the time that a similar problem would arise with respect to the legislation relating to libraries as arose when the Government introduced the science blocks legislation. I pointed out that unless there was a corresponding measure of support for the training of librarians we would have better library facilities but a shortage of trained librarians to staff the new libraries.
The legislation providing assistance for science blocks and libraries has benefited both government and independent schools. However, that legislation did not provide the scope for examination of the principles of Commonwealth assistance to independent schools that is provided by the Bill now before the House. This Bill has some interesting features as they affect the Australian Capital Territory. One of the arguments advanced by opponents of State aid has been that this assistance would enable Protestant churches to establish more schools. According to this line of reasoning this would lead to the disruption of the state schools and the demoralisation of their staffs. It is significant that the tables listed by the Minister show that in Canberra there are still the same two Anglican schools that were here 40 years ago. It is unlikely that any additional Anglican or Protestant schools will be built here. Plainly this line of attack on State aid is not valid. The basic motive for establishing independent Protestant schools has always been more educational than denominational. The founders of these schools and the parents who supported them believed they provided better schooling and more diversity than did the State schools. Of course, the Anglican or Protestant schools are only a small proportion of the total of independent schools in Australia. The great majority of independent schools in Australia are Catholic schools. The Catholic school system has risen from a denominational basis rather than from an educational basis. I am sure that the Catholic school authorities in Canberra will welcome the additional assistance provided by this legislation. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has referred to this in great detail.
Canberra has one of the highest proportions of Catholics of any Australian city. There is a high proportion of Catholics in the Public Service in Canberra. A Catholic parent in Canberra is well educated and ambitious. These parents have insisted on good Catholic schools in Canberra. The result has been that Catholic schools in this city may well be the best housed and the best staffed available to the Catholic population Of any Australian city. It is also true that the State schools in Canberra are probably the best housed and the best staffed of State schools in any Australian city. This brings me to the point made by the honourable member for Bennelong - the crisis that exists in education in Australia; the representations that have been made by the Australian Teachers Federation and by educationalists in every State for a more active participation on the part of the Commonwealth at the primary, secondary and technical levels. But the Government has resisted this approach. It has resisted attempts to establish a competent committee of inquiry to investigate education at these levels. Not only honourable members but everybody who can appreciate the significance of this problem must be well aware of the reasons for the resistance on the part of the Government and the Minister to any move to set up an inquiry into education. On two occasions when I have had the opportunity to propose such an inquiry I have been resisted by the Minister and the Government because they know that any committee that had an opportunity to investigate’ education at the primary, secondary and technical levels would almost certainly report to the Government on the inadequacies that exist in every State in both government and nongovernment schools. But one can concede that in both the government and nongovernment schools in Canberra a very high level has been achieved in accommodation, in the provision of extra-curricular facilities, in the staffs appointed to the schools and in the student-teacher ratio that is unequalled in any State. The Minister knows only too well that this is the situation and that this is the kind of attitude that has encouraged educationalists throughout Australia to request the Government to provide in the States the same kind of conditions that already exist in this capital city.
A Catholic parent in Canberra has less reason than Catholic parents in any other city to fear that his child may not receive as good an education as a child attending a State school. A parent in Canberra has less reason than parents in any other city to feel that his child might be better educated at a non-government school than at a State school. The standards of both State and independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory should be models for all other education systems in Australia, both State and independent. Only the Commonwealth is in a position to provide the finance necessary to raise the standards of education in the States to that which one may now find in this capital city, lt is symptomatic of this Government’s approach to education that a wide spread of standards should emerge in our schools. Where the Commonwealth has direct responsibility for education it has shown what can be done to lift standards in both State and independent schools.
Successive Liberal-Country Party Commonwealth Governments have failed to use any initiative in transforming primary, secondary and technical education in the States. If the State systems of education could match the standards of Government and independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory, the overall picture of education in this country would be a most favourable one. Unfortunately the Government has chosen to enter these areas of education in an extremely piecemeal and unco-ordinated way. This Bill will provide assistance only for independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. There was no suggestion in the Minister’s second reading speech, or in anything the Government has ever announced or done, that there is any intention to extend this form of assistance to schools in the six Australian States.
When the Minister for Education and Science has an opportunity to deal with some of the statements that have been and will be made by honourable members in this debate I challenge him to say what he intends to do about education at government and non-government schools at primary, secondary and technical levels in the various States. What is the Minister’s attitude on this matter? What approach does the Government intend to make in order to lift the standard of education in the States to the level that obtains in government and non-government schools in the national capital? I hazard a guess that the Minister will have nothing to say on this subject. He has resisted all attempts by the Opposition and educationists to have the kind of inquiry that the Australian Labor Party has promised in policy speeches since 1958. This point was completely ignored by the honourable member for Bennelong, who wanted to quote at length the Australian Labor Party’s policy on education. As 1 said a few moments ago, there is no suggestion in the Minister’s second reading speech that the Government has ever said that it intends to lift the standard of education in both government and nongovernment schools in the six Australian States.
The Government’s attitude has always been that the magnitude of assistance on a national scale could not be ascertained without careful inquiry. Yet for 10 years the Government has resisted moves for any inquiries into the needs of primary, secondary and technical schools, both Government and independent. By contrast, twelve inquiries have been held into the needs of universities in this period. Repeatedly the Opposition has moved in this House for the establishment of such an inquiry into education at all levels - primary, secondary and technical. A motion on this subject has been listed on the notice paper in my name since 9th May last year. The debate was then adjourned and it has not been resumed by the Government. I reiterate that when the debate was in progress last year the honourable member for Bennelong, who now claims that, there is a crisis in education in Australia, had nothing to say, and the Minister for Education and Science dismissed the motion out of hand. 1 moved a similar motion in 1967.
In these circumstances the Government cannot claim that it has lacked opportunities to set up a committee which would establish the scope and impact of assistance on a national scale to all levels of education, both Government and independent. The plain fact is that if all schools in this country are to attain the standards of Australian Capital Territory schools, a substantial measure of Commonwealth assistance will be required for both State and independent schools. In Australia, a complementary system of government and independent schools has evolved for a variety of reasons - economic, social and religious. There are many opponents of this dual system and a large number of the arguments they advance have merit, but this structure exists, and policy must be formulated on the system as it stands.
I think the Minister got to the nub of the problem when he said in his speech that if independent schools had not been assisted in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory the Government would have had to build and staff more schools. It is a simple truth that the education system of this country would collapse if it were not for the independent school systems. The Labor Party has always recognised this, although it has been opposed to making the independent schools a capital charge on the State. This has not prevented the Party from putting forward in the 1963 and 1966 election campaigns much more sweeping programmes for assistance to independent schools than any contemplated by the Government.
As I pointed out before, the honourable member for Bennelong has not made a very close study of this problem.
During the 1966 elections, then Leader of the Opposition, then the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), pledged a total of $42 m to assist both State and independent schools. It was to consist of a special grant of $20m to the State education departments and a payment of $22m a year to qualified lay teachers in non-government schools. While the Labor Party advocated free teacher training and payments per pupil, the Liberal and Country Parties remained silent on these issues. In line with the pledges made by the right honourable member for Melbourne in 1966, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has outlined in recent weeks u policy of assistance to both government and independent schools. He has not hesitated to slate the Party’s policy on this matter. Indeed he has done so during a number of addresses in various parts of Australia. Therefore, our attitude is quite clear, and it should be fully understood by the Minister for Education and Science, and by his Government. The Leader of the Opposition has said that a Labor. Government would make an emergency grant of $50m for schools in its 1970 budget if it were in office. This is much the same as the promise made by the former Leader, allowing for cost increases of the past, three years.
The Labor Party believes that at least half of this amount should go to the independent schools and, in particular, to the Catholic schools to meet the cost of starling, which is rising in quite a spectacular fashion. The remainder would go to the government schools for new buildings and the modernising of older schools.
As I have pointed out, this quite specific pledge by the Leader of the Opposition was not a radical innovation. Rather, it was an extension of promises made in the 1966 election campaign. It is also completely in accordance with the policy of the Labor Party.
This was referred to earlier by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser). The Attorney-General has never spoken in this House on Commonwealth assistance to independent schools, and I venture to suggest he is most unlikely to state an opinion during this debate. It was therefore surprising that the honourable gentleman, a few weeks ago, should emerge with a remarkable exercise in political kite flying. The Minister hinted at all sorts of new forms of assistance to independent schools, including a Federal contribution to daytoday expenses of all secondary schools.
-Order! I would remind the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the Bill that the House is considering at the moment is to authorise the giving of guarantees on behalf of the Commonwealth in respect of certain loans made to independent .schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and for purposes related thereto.
While there is perhaps scope for certain references to be made in illustrating particular points in relation to this Bill, I do not think that the debate should be in general terms on the problems of State aid.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I respect your ruling, but you did not have the opportunity of listening to those honourable members who preceded me in this debate. I certainly do not intend to canvass your ruling but it would be extremely difficult to debate a Bill of this nature without having the opportunity of referring to the general principles that are incorporated in the Bill - that is, the question of aid to government and to non-government schools and, particularly so far as this Bill is concerned, to the assistance that will be given to independent schools.
– Order! 1 would accept the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition concerning certain references. I appreciate the difficulty that arises when one honourable member makes a reference and that reference is replied to. but what I. would not like to see happen in this debate develop into a full-scale debate in relation to State aid in general.
– Education in general, Mr Deputy Speaker. The honourable member has made the debate as wide as the world.
-Order! I suggest that the debate should be limited to the sphere of the Bill.
– I was referring to the statement that was made by the AttorneyGeneral and I had pointed out that on that occasion the Attorney-General was not greeted with enthusiastic support from his colleagues when he made quite speculative promises to a meeting of Catholic parents and friends. On the evidence of the Minister for Education and Science at question time in this House this morning, the Government has dissociated itself from the AttorneyGeneral’s propaganda exercise. It cannot be emphasised too strongly that it is the Government which has put Commonwealth assistance to independent schools in the market place. This has been applied to the Australian Capital Territory for 13 years and the Government is now providing addi tional assistance under the legislation we have before us. I have shown that the policy line of the Labor Party has been consistent over the past 4 or 5 years. What we are undertaking to do now to assist independent schools we undertook to do in 1966. There has been no variation in policy, nor can the Labor Party be charged with attempting to buy votes through promises of Commonwealth assistance.
The Labor Party’s aim is to ensure high educational standards in all Australian schools. There are many people in Australia who are opposed to Commonwealth assistance to independent schools, but these school systems are permanent features of our education. In particular, the Catholic school system in other parts of the Commonwealth as well as in the Australian Capital Territory has consolidated and streamlined its operation in the past few years. If this school system did not exist, the pressure on resources for education in this country could not be sustained. A reliable projection of school enrolments in Australian Catholic schools puts the total at 546,000 by 1975. It is estimated that this enrolment will require 16,282 teachers, or an increase of 1,286 on the present numbers. These will be the extra teachers required to maintain present staff-student ratios. At the same time the Catholic schools will be lifting the secondary component of their education system from 31% to 34%. This will require a sustained effort to increase the numbers of qualified teachers in Catholic schools, again not only in the Australian Capital Territory but in all parts of the Commonwealth, and this is why we believe that Commonwealth assistance to them should be geared very largely in the direction of teacher training.
In summary, the Opposition supports the Bill. It is regrettable that the standards achieved in the Australian Capital Territory are not the norm for all schools in this country. In particular this legislation again points up the futility of overcoming educational deficiencies without a full scale inquiry which could determine areas of greatest need, whether for buildings, teachers’ salaries and teaching aids. It will be impossible to determine priorities for assistance both to government and nongovernment schools without an inquiry of this nature. The Minister for Education and Science acknowledges that this will be necessary before we are able to pinpoint the difficulties that apply not only in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory but in the other States of the Commonwealth as well. In particular I emphasise that the Labor Party has adopted a consistent line on Commonwealth assistance both to government and independent schools, and there is no element of political gimmickry in our attitude on this subject.
– One has to be indebted to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) for another one of his interesting surveys of the field of education. I know that he meant to undertake this survey by referring to the practice and principles of certain educational activities within the Australian Capital Territory. One has also to be indebted to him for giving some justice to his former Leader, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). I give great credit to the right honourable member for Melbourne in a matter of this nature, and I give it quite seriously, because having reviewed his career in the matter of education it is perfectly clear that for many decades he fought strongly for principles such as are enshrined in this Bill. One of the tragedies of politics was that, having supported principles such as are enshrined in this Bill continually up until 1956, pressures, put on him by the then Leader of the Opposition, by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) the honourable member for Werriwa, and by the former member for Parkes and others forced him to change his attitude on this matter in line with the changed attitudes of his Party. I give credit to the right honourable member for Melbourne but I also make it perfectly clear that those gentlemen who helped put pressure on him to change his attitudes at that time were those great supporters of Dr Evatt - the present member for Werriwa, the former member for Parkes and, a little later, the present member for Reid (Mr Uren). So we have had a little delving into history this afternoon, and it should serve us well.
– Fold your arms across your chest and lie down.
– I will deal with the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory in a moment, and we will see what he has to say. We are also grateful to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for putting the present principles of the Australian Capital Territory education into the Australian context. Perhaps one or two words should be said about that, especially in relation to States such . as his own State of Tasmania. A matter upon which I think a few words of comment should be made is the ruse of setting up a committee. How often did we hear him during the last 40 minutes say that his Party was in favour of doing this kind of thing but that it .wanted to have a committee set up first; everything had to be subject to the investigations of a committee? The use of a committee, as will be shown from the history of the situation, was designed to prevent the principles enshrined in this Bill from ever becoming operational in either the Australian Capital Territory or Australia. I will .have one or two more words to say concerning that later on.
The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, who spoke before the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, also went back to those days, of the middle 1950s. He spoke about the principles in this Bill of guarantees on loans to certain non-government schools, which principles are in addition to the system of interest reimbursement on loans negotiated to build these schools. I took down his words very carefully, and this is what he had to say: I have never had to change my mind on this matter’. I presume that could also be paraphrased as follows: ‘I have never had to change my support for the principles in this Bill’. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his second reading speech referred to 1956 as the beginning point Of this type of measure. In 1956 interest reimbursements were negotiated on loans which had been made to build non-government schools in the Australian Capital Territory. That principle applied until 1965, when the system of assistance was expanded into a guarantee on loans and a repayment under certain conditions of particular loans.
Over those years what was the attitude of the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory? It is worth recalling because we had his statement that he was dripping with sympathy for those schools which were receiving assistance under this scheme. Was this sympathy manifest to those who observed his actions as a member of his own Party, firstly, in 1956 and then in 1957 when his own Party, to which he gave complete support in this matter, took out of its platform the provision under which it was to give assistance to non-government schools? Having taken the provision out of its platform at its 1957 conference, the Australian Labor Party made it perfectly clear that the only assistance it would give to schools of this nature would be in the form of certain secondary and higher education bursaries and scholarships and that no capital grants or interest reimbursement payments would be made to schools. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory supported that principle.
In 1961 the interest reimbursement grant principle was extended to primary schools. That continued for another few years. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory did not oppose his Party during these years. In 1963 the former Leader of the Opposition, under pressure from his then Deputy, said in Brisbane: If we are returned as the Government no new loans will be negotiated in Canberra for non-government schools’. Those words were stated on the eve of the 1963 election. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory stood in that election and supported that principle. What does it mean? Had the honourable member’s Party been returned in that election - I welcome his interest in this matter - all those schools which had been able to negotiate loans in the succeeding years would not have been able to negotiate the payment subsidy or the loan. I will refer merely to some of the schools which would have been disadvantaged, even in this small part of Australia, had that principle been implemented. They are the Canberra Boys Grammar School and the Canberra Girls Grammar School, the Campbell Catholic Primary School, the Narrabundah Catholic Primary School and a number of others. I will not go through the whole list of schools. But the honourable member supported the statement made by the former Leader of the Opposition in the 1963 election campaign. There was not one word of opposition from him.
– The honourable member has a very vivid imagination.
– There was complete acquiescence by his silence and I should imagine that he ought to be upset when these things are pointed out to him.
– I am not upset because I have never had to change and I have never had to squib.
– The honourable member has said that he has never had to change his attitude during the 10 years of which I have just given a detailed history. He was completely silent and that is indicative of support. It is only in the interests of truth and in order to state contemporary history that these matters are pointed out. I know that a knowledge of the truth of this matter would be welcomed by everyone with a devotion to truth in education. I refer in passing to the principles that are enshrined in the Bill because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition ranged rather widely in replying to some of the arguments that had been put forward by previous speakers.
It is probably worth while to remind the House of the two Bills which in recent years have extended the principle of equal treatment for government and non-government schools. I refer to the assistance given to government and non-government schools under the States Grants (Secondary School Libraries) Bill and the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill. Let us go back in history once again. The States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill was opposed by the Opposition when it was introduced into this House. The Opposition did not move an amendment to it but opposed it. In other words, if it had been the Government in 1964 the science laboratories which we now have around the country would not have been built. I refer to the States Grants (Secondary School Libraries) Bill which was passed last year, and I refer to the amendment which was supported by the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and all his colleagues. He will be interested in it.
– I was not here then.
– The honourable member was here in 1968 even though he may not have been aware of it. The States Grants (Secondary School Libraries) Bill was passed in this House, and the critical sentence of the amendment that was moved by the Opposition reads as follows:
Therefore the House resolves that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted.
They are very simple statements, and all those simple statements put into the appropriate context the simulated sympathy of some members of the Opposition with respect to this measure. I suggest that that sympathy is simulated. 1 hesitate to say that it is fake sympathy. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also said that little had been done in respect of the crisis in education in Australia over past years. I do not want to refer to this statement in detail but merely to quote one statistic which I think is relevant. In 1963-64 the National Union of Australian University Students posed as an impossible target for Australian education that we ought to try to spend, say, 4% of the gross national product on education by 1970. That was posed in the belief that it could not possibly be attained. While I merely state that that target has been attained, I should add that it was surpassed by 1967-68, 2 to 3 years before the impossibly early target date which had been set by those who, at that time, did not support the educational policies of the Commonwealth Government. So. the overall expenditure on education has been high and it is rising quite significantly.
Let me refer to just one or two other matters before I resume my seat. There has been a cry throughout Australia, voiced again by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that the Commonwealth Government is the only government which can assist in the matter of education. There has been a cry throughout Australia that with respect to schools, both government and nongovernment, it is only when the Commonwealth Government injects itself into the field of education that standards can be raised adequately. This cry has been raised with respect to both systems of education but, in the context of this Bill, let me refer particularly to the field of nongovernment education.
I reject that implication completely. I have never been keen on the proposition that the Commonwealth Government should inject itself into the field of education except in dire necessity. The present pressure upon the Commonwealth to give greatly increased assistance to non-goverment schools in the States is to be welcomed for only one reason, one very important reason. This is not that the States cannot do it. The reason is simply that certain States are unwilling to do it. Certain States have made it perfectly clear that they will not give a fair measure of assistance to more than one system of education. They are States led by Liberal governments and Stales which are run by governments of the same political colour as the Opposition Party here. They are rather decreasing in number.
– For example?
– For example, in Tasmania, very little assistance is given in this field. So that parents and students will not continue to be penalised, the Commonwealth Government will need to go into that field and to give assistance in this branch of education. I think that the principle of subsidarity should apply in these matters. I would not be so afeared as to see a completely centralised system of education completely dominated from Canberra. I have never supported that principle. I would say also that the Victorian Government has given in this field very low, miserly and parsimonious amounts of assistance to the students and schools concerned. If I may equate an example using Victoria, no State in Australia spends more per child on education but no State in Australia spends less per child in non-government schools than does Victoria. This record is equalled only in the States in which there are ALP governments or in which there was a recent ALP government, such as the State represented by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), South Australia.
For those reasons, it is perfectly clear that the Commonwealth Government has to step in in order to bring about a degree of equality in the matter of the distribution of resources for education. So, I merely say that the principles of Federalism apply here. I think that those principles ought to apply but that States which have given a degree of assistance ought not to be disadvantaged. Consequently, I would suggest that if the Commonwealth, as has been foreshadowed, is to expand the principles which it has applied in the Australian Capital Territory to education in the Commonwealth it ought to expand those principles in several categories. First of all. it ought to give assistance to schools, but that assistance should vary according to the numbers of students at those schools. It should not provide assistance which will vary according to the present number of teachers in those schools. If it were to adopt the principle of giving assistance according to the number of teachers in the schools, the Commonwealth would introduce an unnecessarily harsh class system into Australian education. lt ought to apply this assistance, I would think, to primary schools as well as to secondary schools. There ought to be no distinction in this respect. Also, if it can possibly be done, the Commonwealth ought to induce some States to give a fair and just amount of assistance in this regard. Some States have not faced up to their responsibilities. But the States which have not faced up to their responsibilities should not be advantaged in terms of CommonwealthState finance merely because they have failed to bear those responsibilities. In saying that, I refer especially to a speech made by the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), in commenting upon a Commonwealth Grants Commission report of 2 years ago in which the Commonwealth was making such a case to the Commonwealth Grants Commission and in which the Commonwealth was criticised very strongly by the shadow Treasurer for in fact hoping to have that principle recognised.
Finally, in terms of assistance which the Commonwealth Government gives, all that the Commonwealth can do to retain the authority of the school should be done. Assistance should not be given to systems so much as to the schools themselves and, in so giving assistance, the Commonwealth should retain the authority of the head teacher or the headmistress, whomever it may happen to be. I think that those five principles ought to be ones which should receive support. 1 hope that, if they do receive support in a case such as this, they may receive the unique support of the Opposition in this place. lt has been my purpose just to correct some versions of history which have been given by honourable members opposite. I presume that those versions of history were given not out of malice but just out of ignorance. Now, as these honourable members have been made aware of what contemporary history has been in this respect, they may not change only their attitudes in this matter but they may consider very seriously changing their policies.
– This Bill is a stopgap measure by which the Government evades its obligations to future citizens of Australia and, in particular, to the children of the Australian Capital Territory. We on this side of the House do not oppose stopgap measures, but we fail in our duty if we acclaim and do not criticise the shortcomings of stopgaps. It is the failure of the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) to realise this which has led him to point to our amendment, calling for the withdrawal and redrafting of the Bill, as opposition to the Bill. In this attitude the honourable member shows very little of that analytical thought which one expects of a graduate of a university in this country. I will refer to this fact in my own remarks on education standards.
There are three obligations on any community in the field of education. These can be analysed as physical culture, intellectual culture and social culture. In physical culture we can include sporting and trade skills and the art of relaxation. Training in relaxation which, of course, is not purely physical, is the best medicine so far discovered for anxiety states. Anxieties are basic to all those minor and major mental ills which are the greatest epidemic disablement of modern times and the greatest single group of ills that boosts the sky rocketing costs of the national drug bill. I do not refer only to the new cult of Yoga which is one of the oldest hygienic disciplines of the East. I refer also to the latest psychiatric studies as typified by a recent article in the ‘Australian Medical Journal’ by Dr Ainslie Meares of Melbourne. There is no evidence that a dual system of education will help or hinder any of these aspects of physical culture. The Bill, therefore, has no special relation to this type of education.
I turn to intellectual culture. We find that most school syllabi over-emphasise this sphere. But we must recognise here a distinction between rote learning and the training of analytical thinking. Educationists recognise that their primary purposes is to teach mental skills, not facts. Among these mental skills there are some automatic, mechanical, low grade skills, and there are more sophisticated skills. In this respect, the Bill before us is not a progressive measure. To use the words of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Bill will assist ‘school projects approved in principle’, lt will give schools access to loan capital necessary for the construction of urgently required school facilities. I do not doubt that the buildings on which this money will be spent are needed to accommodate pupils. However8 nowhere in the Minister’s speech are the criteria for ‘approving in principle’ laid down.
I do not want to be difficult about this matter or to quibble over the meaning of words. I just want to make it clear that the elected authority administering funds for its future citizens is not apparently interested in assessing the quality of schooling to be obtained when it approves yie buildings in which that schoolfrig goes on. I should therefore like the Minister when he closes this debate, as I expect he will, to spell out for us the fact that the Government is actively interested in seeing that the schools which it helps are devoted te training pupils in analytical thought rather than in accumulating facts, and how his Department achieves this. I do not want a resume of the syllabi which the Department lays down for nongovernment schools. What I would like is a general statement of how syllabi have changed over the years in the direction of problem solving and the development of creative and analytical thought, away from the cramming of facts and away from the development of the more mechanical or routine mental skills.
I turn now to the most important aspect of all - social education. In this respect there is much to be said for and against nongovernment schools. For a start, most of the non-government schools are church sponsored, and therefore to some extent the teachers, especially those who work for less than award rates and conditions, are socially dedicated people. Their vocation is certainly not restricted to mechanical instruction. They enter these jobs because they feel fired with the zeal to teach children something of higher worth than earning a living or making them fit to hold down a job. They are certainly not people with a stopgap mentality, such as is evidenced in the Bill and in the Minister’s second reading speech. They are people who look for something which is very hard to lay down in a syllabus. They look to human relationship and to a sense of human values which they try to convey to their pupils. In this respect church schools have an advantage. However, let us not be blinded by this to the disadvantages. Unfortunately, this is not the only motivation which we see in church organisations when they provide schools. They have stated that they do not want their syllabi to be just the State syllabi with an hour, 2 hours or a few hours of religious instruction tagged on, as happens in State schools. They say: ‘No, this will not satisfy us. What we want is a syllabus permeated by the principles, the convictions and the teachings of our religious beliefs. That is why we want the whole of our pupil schooling to be completely under the mantle of our teaching system.’ This has its advantages and disadvantages.
While we are on the subject of history, which the honourable member for Lilley has just finished painting and which he has misquoted to suit his own ends, let us have a look at the reason for the existence of a two-school system. First of all, there were church schools long before there were State schools. Why did the State school system come into being? It was partly because of dissensions, jealousies and cleavages within different denominations. Let us hope that these days are fast drawing to a close and that we can look sensibly and objectively at church schools alongside State schools and say: ‘This snobbery, this intolerance, this heretic burning which led to the segregation of State schools from the religious beliefs of the teachers of the day, is no longer an important issue.’ I wish we could say that it is not an issue at all, but in view of what has happened in Ireland I am afraid that wo cannot go quite that far. We must recognise that there are still difficulties in denominational cleavages. Whether there are denominations or not. the important issue of dogma and intolerance which led to the setting up of State schools still remains.
Again I stress that I am not condemning religious schools because they are religious schools. I have said in what respects they have advantages and in what respects highly motivated people are engaged in them. But at the same time let us realise that there are people who use religion for ulterior motives, and that some of these people rub off their influence on to church sponsored schools. The most dangerous of these influences is the tendency to believe that because I - to use the pronoun impersonally - have a strong conviction that my faith is helping me and mankind and is for the good of humanity, therefore I must protect everybody else from anything which contradicts this faith. This difficulty still exists in church schooling, ft is the fear, doubt and concern in members of the Labor movement that this influence is still present in certain places that have led them to be very careful about sponsoring non-State schools with public money.
– Are you for them or against them?
– 1 have already stated that I do not oppose the Bill.
– Are you for church schools or against them?
– You may as well ask me whether I have stopped beating my wife. I am for and against church schools, as I have taken pains to indicate. I have pointed out their good points. I have also pointed out the danger of sponsoring a system which is based on a doctrine and faith which at times degenerate into dangerous dogma. I have pointed out that this danger could cause concern to those people who are interested in mankind and humanity as a whole and who are not interested in fostering their beliefs at the expense of mankind and humanity as a whole. Having stated and explained as carefully and as objectively as I can the good and the bad points in having a non-State system alongside a
State system, I then say that it behoves us to foster, to help and to work cooperatively with church schools, as I think at this point of time we must do, and that it also behoves us to see that these good points are not fostered by taking in the bad points at the same time. In other words, we have to start being concerned about the social impact of all types of schools which receive help from the public purse. We have to ensure that the danger of suppressing critical thought, of suppressing analytical thought, of suppressing these very sophisticated mental skills, which it is the prime task of education to foster, does not happen. We must not be guilty of subsidising those backward tendencies that can occur, not only in non-State schools but also in State schools.’ They do not necessarily emerge from a dogma, a doctrine, a faith or a religion, but because there are such interests’ active in nongovernment schools as there are in government schools it behoves those who are spending public money to see’ that they are minimised. It behoves the man who pays the piper to some extent to call the tune to see what he is paying for is what he is getting - that he is getting .education and not conformity for its own sake.
The honourable member for Lilley took pains to explain that our interpretation of history was motivated out of malice or ignorance. I hope that I have cleared up the fact that it was motivated neither by malice nor ignorance, but that it was motivated by the opposite of ignorance; by the desire to enlighten, to make sure that ignorance is not propagated. It was certainly not motivated by malice. Unless of course the honourable member understands that everything opposed to hrs political philosophy must be malice, then iri that case 1 have a different meaning for the word.
I commend the general principle of concern for education that has prompted this Bill. I can see the urgency and the material need for it, but I say again to the Minister for Education and Science: ‘What are you doing about .what .is really schooling? It is not bricks and mortar. It is a principle of human development’. We have seen very little evidence pf the fostering of this at the highest level, at the federal level, and this is what our education crisis urgently calls for.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) in his quite long speech addressed quite a few challenges to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and I will leave most of those to the Minister. However, one point which struck me very forcibly and which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition harped on and placed great emphasis on was that the Australian Labor Party, if elected to office, would immediately make an emergency grant of $50m. if one adds this $50m to the amounts promised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) during the last couple of months in his electorate and to the millions of dollars the Opposition has said it will allocate to various aspects of Australian interest, it seems to me that the same tactics are going to be adopted in this election year by the Labor Party in saying that it intends to spend an extra $700m as it adopted in previous election years. Apparently the idea of the Labor Party is to use a printing press philosophy to try and delude the Australian public by promising large sums of money that it could not possibly hope to find.
– Just as your Party in Tasmania did.
– It appears that we had some success. It looks as though we at least got a foot in the door. This Bill now before the House represents an expansion of the policy which the Government introduced in 1956. It fundamentally gives the Government authority to guarantee loans for certain purposes. It deals with one of three major problems which independent or nongovernment schools have to face, namely that of building class rooms to accommodate the ever-increasing number of children attending these schools. I use the word Independent’ advisedly, because it seems to me that the word ‘independent’ does not exactly apply to these non-government schools any more and that they are becoming increasingly dependent on Government assistance. The growing demand that I spoke of is caused by the natural increase of people born in Australia, added to by t,he vigorous immigration policy that is being pursued by this Government.
The other two big problems which nongovernment schools have to face are the provision of suitable teachers and the cost of meeting teachers’ salaries. These salaries increase periodically, more or less following the same pattern of the State education teachers’ salaries. This is readily understood because of the need for the private schools to compete with the salaries of the teachers in the State education system. Any assistance given to independent schools for building purposes assists the general education and financial difficulties which most of these institutions are faced with around Australia. The existence of independent schools results in a great saving to the government school system. If these independent schools are not given assistance by the Government - and I consider they are entitled to assistance and I will give my reasons for this later on in my speech - the position would probably be reached where they would have to either close down or undertake a much more limited building programme which would mean that there would be less accommodation for students and therefore more demand on the government system which is in the main provided for by the taxpayers.
I said that these schools are entitled to assistance. I say this firstly because of the reason I have just given, that they save the government system from a tremendous burden. Further, the parents of the children who attend these private schools are taxpayers and are therefore entitled to have some of their taxes spent on the education of their children in line with the parents of children who attend government schools. In other words, the independent schools form an integral part of the Australian education scene. The whole question of government aid to private schools has been the cause of controversy, sometimes violent controversy, dating back to the last century. I think it fair comment to say that 15 years ago a Bill of this nature or indeed any Bill which allocated finance to assist private schools would not have been supported by the majority of Australians. However, over that period up to the present day an increasing majority of Australians are recognising the useful role of independent schools and they support the principle and practice of the Government to assist these schools.
To support this argument, Mr Speaker, I want to quote from public opinion polls under the name of gallup polls which were held first in 1955 on the subject of Stats aid for church and independent schools. In 1955 the vote showed that 51% of the people who were interviewed were in favour of this aid and 41% were against it. In 1967, 12 years later, this picture had changed and instead of 51% of the people who were interviewed 62% were in favour of State aid and only 26% of the people said that they were against the granting of aid to church or independent schools. Last year a poll was taken on the proposal that the Federal Government ought to subsidise children attending primary and secondary private schools. The public opinion showed that 60% were in favour and 32% were against. This is my final and major reason for supporting aid to private schools. We are here as representatives of the Australian people to carry out. if possible and if practicable, their wishes.
Recently, in regard to the subject of aid to private schools, [ had the advantage of meeting three members of the Catholic clergy in my electorate who placed before me some statistics and other facts which illustrated quite clearly both the plight and the usefulness of private schools. Briefly summarising these factors, they said that the three major problems were school buildings, to which this Bill contributes substantially, expenses of teachers, and shortage of teachers. They pointed out that but for the dedication of the nuns, teaching priests and brothers, who work without salary and only for their clothing and food, their position would be hopeless. One of their complaints which seemed to me to have some merit is that Catholic children who attend government schools are not allowed enough time for religious instruction. The lime allowed is only half an hour per week. This is really a very impracticable proposition, particularly in view of the varying ages of the children and the varying classifications of the religious instruction which must be made in view of their ages. I shall briefly mention the other points that were made to me and which I have not already mentioned. The first point was that the crisis is the greatest in the primary school area. In Melbourne something like 50,000 Catholic children are attending government schools. The second point is that the cost of educating a child at a State primary school in Victoria is $229 a year whereas at a Catholic school it is $100 a year. Taking these facts as correct - and I believe they are - they do illustrate that the Catholic primary school system costs much less than the similar State facility.
This Bill represents a further’ extension of the aid this Government has given to private schools in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory. On 5th September 1961, 5 years after the initial scheme started - it is known as the interest subsidy scheme - the total’ cost of projects approved was $3.9m. This sum represents partial reimbursements of interest on loans for capital expenditure on primary and secondary schools in Canberra. In November 1965 the Government introduced a further extension of the whole scheme under which private school authorities received from the Commonwealth repayments of the amount of loans for approved projects in instalments up to 26 years. The total cost of the projects approved under this scheme between November 1965 and today is $9.89m. This is a very substantial contribution. The reason for this Bill is that the school authorities in the Australian Capital Territory in particular, although this Bill also applies to the Northern Territory, have experienced delays and difficulties in obtaining loans. The Government has therefor decided to make this offer to act as guarantor for approved projects. I hope that the school authorities and the people charged with approving the projects apply sound business investigation and principles when seeking and approving the Government guarantee.
Apparently access to’ superannuation funds is one of the extra sources expected to be available if this Bill is passed. Other doors also may be open. My comment on the overall programme is that it could he said that a loan is a loan, no matter who applies for it and from whom it is sought. I would hope that the Government guarantee would not be looked upon as a gilt edged passport to a loan which could not be financed soundly or satisfactorily. One matter that has concerned me in the past when I have supported policies to aid private schools is that encouragement of the private system could or would create, or tend to create, a. class distinction or division in the Austraiian community.
I would be most unhappy if any private school in Australia practised this philosophy or tried to ingrain this philosophy in students who attend private schools, in the past, now or in the future. I think it is fair comment to say that Australian governmental authorities and the majority of Australian citizens deplore the encouragement and development of class distinction. There are good reasons to have separate government and private school systems. But the division of these systems should never be used or be allowed to be the cause of creating a feeling of superiority or inferiority in our children during their school years, which are most important in formulating their general attitude towards their fellow Australians. I have held these opinions for many years and I have expressed them publicly and privately on appropriate occasions. I realise that many school authorities may not hear them or do not hear them but I hope that those who have heard them will give weight to them.
I wish io make two final points, both of which strengthen my support for this Bill. Firstly, the Government is not making any further actual financial commitment under the capital aid scheme. My second point is that the Bill provides for the submission of an annual statement to Parliament showing the guarantees undertaken. My concluding comment is that, looking at the overall position of non-government schools, the Federal Government will probably be compelled to assist non-government schools in a further and more direct manner on an Australia wide basis. I am sure that the Government will give further consideration to this matter at an appropriate time. However, ] say to representatives of nongovernment or private schools that the Federal Government is giving substantial financial assistance to their institutions. These schools should realise this and should appreciate the assistance. Just as they expect the Federal Government to allocate finance to meett heir problems, they should adopt a reasonable attitude and not be too demanding with their requests to the Federal Government. They should remember that with substantial financial aid often comes the need for some control.
– The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) was striking what one might call a modified note of caution in the concluding stages of his speech. In other words, the so-called independent schools of Australia- and I do not think they are independent; no-one defines exactly of what they are independent - accept continued assistance and financial support from the Government, and because they do so they will also have to accept greater and continuing government responsibility. I rise really to put this measure somewhat in perspective. We have heard from our friends opposite who are latecomers to the field of educational enthusiasm, like the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), who has always shown some sort of interest, asked exactly wha,t this Bill means. It is not a bad idea to take a look at it. I must add here that at least my friend, the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser), has been pretty consistent as far as I know in the maintenance of his support for legislation and assistance of this kind.
Now, what does this Bill offer? This Bill, so it says in the second reading speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser): . . has been introduced to give the Government adequate authority to offer formal guarantees under the capital aid arrangements in the two Territories.
He said further:
It points out that these independent schools - and againI use the term ‘independent’ in inverted commas - have had difficulty in raising finance and so the Government has stepped into the field and guaranteed their loan arrangements. Now, is this a great act of Christian charity and educational progress? Is it one with which we can wring the hearts of a grateful electorate as my friend the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) tried to do? His interest does not extend so much to education but to preferences which keep him here. Is this such a wonderful educational and financial measure?
– I rise to order. I just want to inform the honourable member that at the last election I had an absolute majority and did not depend on preferences.
-Order! There is no subsubstance in the point of order.
– Still, it was nice of the honourable member to take note of the fact that the debate is still on, because in the past he has shown very little interest in education debates in this House and one can turn up Hansard to find this out. This is the point then: The Government will guarantee loans arranged by the non-government schools in the two Territories, ls this such an act of Christian charity? lt is the product of the financial system that this Government has inflicted upon the country. The rising interest rate makes it almost impossible for private citizens and private bodies to meet the continuing interest involvement when they raise substantial sums of money. In fact, it is a subsidy to usury. That is exactly what has been happening over the last few years. It is a subsidy and a guarantee to the financial institutions of Australia that, when they make loans tq what are, after all, public and useful institutions, no matter how high these institutions send the rates of interest they will be guaranteed by this Government. Why everybody is making such a song and dance about how great, wonderful, lovely, Christian and charitable it is, I am darned if I know. So let us put it in its proper perspective. 1 think this is the important issue. I believe that this is possibly a useful way in which to approach private endeavour of this sort. I do not give my complete imprimatur to the whole system of education, because I believe we are drifting piecemeal into something which could be dangerous both educationally and financially. However, the guarantee to private organisations which are carrying out social and public purposes is a principle that could be extended into other areas. For instance, 1 am the Chairman of a high school advisory council in Victoria. Because of the backward nature of the Victorian Government, the local citizens, the parents themselves, have to do a great deal of the work to expand the facilities around the school. At an early stage we could have done with some assistance and support of this nature. But it is interesting that in recent times my friends opposite have forgotten that there is a State school system. I want to make this point quite clear. I do not think it is a great act on the part of the Government. lt is perhaps logical enough in pursuit of some sort of amelioration of the lot of institutions which are inflicted with high interest rates.
My friend, the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), was unduly charitable. I do not think this is an educational’ measure at all. I think it is a political measure. When we turn back the clock to find out why the Government entered this field 12 or 13 years ago we find it was because of its failure to supply adequate educational institutions in Canberra itself. Canberra was expanding, -lt is much cheaper to get. private institutions, whether they be church or non-church, to build schools and then subsidise them in some way or other than for the Government to see that every citizen’s child in this community has adequate educational opportunities. The important point is that we do not want to become too laudatory or too starry-eyed about this measure; it will not solve any educational problems whatsoever.
A few matters have been raised in the debate by honourable members on both sides of this House, and they relate to the general question of education and independent schools. I wish we could find an alternative term. It is quite wrong to say that the church schools, particularly the Catholic schools, are independent in the sense in which we use the term because the Catholic education system and the Catholic Church are very closely integrated. One does not need to be for or against it. But it is an integral part of ‘ the Catholic religious system and the schools arc not independent. They belong- to a’ great system of educational institutions and they are no more independent in the Strict sense of the term than a State school is. In fact, in some areas of State education in Australia - one or two spots in New South Wales, I believe here in the Australian Capital Territory, and one or two in Victoria, but my recent experience in the other Stales does not allow me to comment upon them - there are much wider areas Of’ independence available to educational authorities in single schools. The interesting thing about the way this Parliament has debated education in recent times is the way that the State education systems of Australia - the government schools, the people’s schools, call them what you will; they are the institutions which educate three-quarters of the children of Australia - are completely neglected. All the interest on the other side of the House has been engendered almost exclusively since 1963. The Government believed then that it won the election because it had made science blocks available to non-State schools. Politically that was the theory, the doctrine or the mystique until a few weeks ago when we suddenly discovered that it did not win the 1963 election on that account, but won it on the issue of the North West Cape base.
My friends opposite have to begin to take some interest in the State schools as well. This Government has to accept as much responsibility for the State schools or the government schools outside the Territories as it does for the non-government schools. I would dispute the attitude of my friend, the honourable member for Lilley, in this regard. I believe - this is a growing body of thought in the Australian education system - that somehow we have to provide full equality in educational effort for every student in an Australian school. I represent one of the less impressive areas, educationally speaking, of Australia. The schools are impressive enough in their products in many respects. I think that the Coburg High School, in particular, because it has been established lor a longer period, is educationally producing as good a quality students as anybody else. The Coburg High School, for instance, is a major educational institution in my area, and the Moreland High School is perhaps a mile or two away. There is not enough space in the school grounds of both institutions for all the students to assemble effectively. It is a disgrace to the Australian education system. The Newland? High School, with which I have a close association, has adequate space but inadequate means to develop the space.
We should not use the ballot box as an educational exercise. I suppose it is logical enough that in a political and governmental system we will be political, but somehow we have to stretch our imagination and find some system by which we can extend to every Australian child adequate and equal educational opportunity. So far there has been no major effort to develop such a system. It was one of the great prides of the Australian education system at the beginning o£ the free compulsory and secular education period 90 odd years ago that Australia would supply (he same educational effort to the student, no matter where he was - whether he was in the less privileged areas of the metropolitan area or in the remotest outback. A tremendous effort was made in the first 5 years of the 1870s to build schools throughout Australia of equal standard, wherever they were. This is the principle to which we have to return. This will impose a tremendous strain upon both the political system and the educational system of Australia, and possibly upon the financial system.
It is not good enough to drift through the system of State aid, as it is called, in this haphazard way - a science block here, a library there, a little for something else here and an interest subsidy there. This is a piecemeal approach to. a very important social enterprise.
What is State aid? Is it State aid to give a school a flag? Is it State aid to give the children free milk? Is it State aid to provide millions of dollars for capital works? In what way should we apply ourselves to the task of making sure that institutions which benefit in this way will accept full public responsibility? Despite all the laudatory comments passed here this afternoon and in other debates about nonState education in Australia, the facts are that it is strongly restrictive. There are schools around Australia which will not admit people who are not of their own religious persuasion. There are innumerable church schools throughout Australia which will not accept students if the schools think that they already have enough students, and that is nearly all of them. In some ways this may be educationally desirable and necessary, but it is not the principle upon which State schools operate. If you turn up with your family at the door of a State school and say: ‘Here I am with my five or six children’, in many areas the headmaster will say: ‘I am almost full, but come in’. But if you go to a non-government school and knock on the door in the same circumstances you will invariably be told: ‘I am sorry, but you cannot come in’.
– State schools are all zoned in Victoria.
– They are zoned but they take the students who turn up.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Deakin refrain from interjecting.
– I apologise for taking up the honourable member’s interjection, but he was showing such keen interest and I find this rather exhilarating in a member of the Liberal Party in this House.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills is now provoking honourable members to interject.
– I would not do such a thing. But back to this matter of public responsibility: The facts are as the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) pointed out in such an ungentlemanly way. Schools in Victoria are zoned but within that zone you have an absolute right of access to the school. But try this at the non-State school. Somehow we are responsible for everybody. We are responsible for Catholic and nonCatholic, for Protestant, Presbyterian, Methodist and Jew. This is not the interest we have to bring to this question. We must find some way in which we can extend the equality of Australian education to everybody. I agree with the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten), who is usually subject to a good deal of political correction, that the problem of increasing government involvement in the management of schools is a matter which the so-called independent schools will have to face. I for one will not be a party to the continuing pouring of public funds into institutions which do not answer for them in the same way as other public bodies, such as the public services of Australia. We have stepped on the slippery path of compromise and political expediency in this regard. We in this Parliament must turn our attention to this situation in the best possible way. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, the House will recall that I was to have had discussions with the President of the United
States and members of his Administration on the 1st and 2nd of April, but because of the death of General Eisenhower the discussions which were to have taken place assumed the nature of preliminary discussions, and it was agreed that these should be continued on the 6th and the 7th of May. I now take the opportunity to report to the House on those discussions. They took place with the President, with the Secretary of State, the Honourable William Rogers, and with the Secretary of Defence, the Honourable Melvin Laird. I also took the opportunity to meet the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and some members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The purpose of my visit was not to deal with any one specific subject. It was, in one sense, a practical expression of the close, frank and continuing relationship between two good friends - Australia and the United States of America. And it was, too, a visit designed to get to know the new President personally, to understand his thinking and to let him know my own. The ties between our countries, the common objectives of peace and progress and human dignity transcend the personal relationships of any two individuals. But I believe these ties are reinforced, and practical working between two countries is made smoother, if two individuals- one a President and one a Prime Minister - have discussed common problems, have come to know one another, to understand one another, and to trust one another. And I believe that this understanding was attained, and one result which has some value for us was the arrangement made between him and me for direct communication on matters of concern to both our countries during the formative stages of policy and prior to major announcements of policy.
The subjects covered in the various discussions were the situation, and the courses open to us, in Vietnam; the importance attaching to the ANZUS treaty; the question of the continuing interest of the United States in Asia post-Vietnam; the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and such matters as defence procurement in Australia and the present plans of the United States Air Force regarding the FI 1 1 aircraft. Through all these discussions there was a deep feeling of warmth towards Australia, a feeling of a special relationship, a generous acknowledgement of the part Australia had played and was playing to achieve common objectives. And I felt this to be so not only in the Administration but amongst the Senators I met on Capitol Hill.
Sir, it is understandable that my discussions with the President should have begun with Vietnam. We both wish ardently for peace in that country - but we both believe that peace can only be secured on any just or lasting basis by guaranteeing to the people of South Vietnam the right to choose the government they wish without the fear of terror or intimidation; the right to live without the ever present threat of murder, kidnapping or extortion. The President has today spoken publicly along the lines on which he spoke to me, and his speech is clear and unambiguous. We must now await the response of North Vietnam. But this Government agrees completely on the objective of free, internationally supervised elections, at which candidates of all ‘parties could stand, as the objective for which the struggle is waged. This was discussed both during my original visit in April and during the visit just concluded.
As a result of our discussions, and of the President’s speech today, there are three things which I firmly believe to be true.
Firstly, I do not believe that America will accept any fake peace or disguised surrender, nor will she retreat from the requirement that the South Vietnamese people should themselves choose their own government.
Secondly, if in the future and before there is any agreement on the proposals made by the President today it is decided to withdraw some United States troops unilaterally - and I do not say that this will happen - this should be regarded as a sign of strength. It should be so regarded because it would indicate a belief on the part of the United States that the South Vietnamese had so strengthened their own forces, and been provided with equipment for those forces, that they were themselves able to remove from the United States some of the burden which that nation has borne. It would, I believe, be a tragic mistake on the part of North Vietnam or anyone else should they interpret any such move as a prelude to a general withdrawal or as indicating any retreat at all by the United States from their determination to persevere until the attainment of the objective of a free choice by the South Vietnamese.
There will be those who will say, should there be such American reduction of force, that Australia too should at once reduce its forces.
I believe that would be a wrong thing to do. For one thing, the Americans have greatly increased their forces since our contingent was committed; and for another it would be a shabby thing, the Americans having built up the South Vietnamese forces, to take some of the burden that is borne by half a million Americans, for us to withdraw our own forces and, to that degree, impose a further burden - or at least, to that degree prevent a lessening of the burden borne by the United States.
Thirdly, I believe that President Nixon, as his speech showed, and subject to the requirement for a free choice by the South Vietnamese people being attained, will be flexible, untiring, and persistent in seeking to bring the fighting to an end. In this he will have our full support and our prayers will go with him as he tries to achieve this end.
Mr Speaker, perhaps the strongest guarantee of Australia’s future security against physical attack is the ANZUS treaty. It was first concluded under Mr Truman in conditions prevailing after the close of the war with Japan. But recently it has appeared that there was in some quarters a tendency to question whether the provisions of the treaty still apply with the same force and certainty as at the time of its conclusion. Any grounds for such questioning should surely now be removed. The new President and the new Administration have strongly underlined the importance and the significance which they attach to that treaty. To quote from the public statement issued by the President:
Australia is a member of Anzus and Seato, two alliances which are fundamental to our-
That is American - strategy and position in South East Asia. As between us- -
Anzus with its provisions for mutual aid in developing our individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack, and its declaration that no potential aggressor should be under the illusion that any of them-
That is, Australia, New Zealand or the United States - stand alone in the Pacific area’ is of great importance to both our countries.
All things considered I think Australia and the United States can both be proud of the contribution we are making, as partners, to the security and progress of the Pacific region to which we both belong. That partnership and that contribution will continue.
Mr Speaker, those two extracts are a strong, forthright and unambiguous re-affirmation of the application of the Treaty - and rather than weary the House with the statement as a whole, with the concurrence of the House I incorporate it in Hansard.
It has been a great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister and Mrs Gorton to Washington. Mrs Gorton is of course returning to the land of her birth, so we always have a special greeting for her. Prime Minister Gorton is no stranger to our shores either, and he has come as the Head of Government of one of our closest friends and allies in the world. We will always be delighted to see them both. This visit has been most useful for me and, I think, for other officers of thi::’ Government. It has given us a chance to get acquainted with as outstanding statesman with whom we expect to be working very closely in the’ future.
Australia is a member of ANZUS and SEATO, two alliances which are fundamental to our strategy and position in South East Asia. A.s between us, ANZUS, with its provisions for mutual aid in developing our individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack, and its declaration that ‘no potential aggressor should be under the illusion that any of them (Australia, New Zealand or the United States) stand alone in the Pacific area,’ is of great importance to both our countries. Australian troops are fighting beside ours and those of other free world nations to help South Vienam preserve its independence. Australian- forces are stationed in Malaysia and Singapore as part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, and Prime Minister Gorton has recently announced that these forces will remain after the British forces withdraw in 1971, to continue making their important contribution to the security of that area. This is a historic and far-seeing decision, and needless to say, it has our full understanding and the decision has our support
Australia is also making an outstanding contribution to peaceful co-operation and economic development in hs part of the world. It participates wholeheartedly in the Colombo Plan, the Asian Development Bank, and many other regional activities. In percentage of national income devoted to foreign aid, Australia ranks second in the world. This is a record of which any nation can be proud. All things considered, I think Australia and the United States can both be proud of the contribution we are making, as partners, to the security and progress of the Pacific region to which we both belong. That partnership and that contribution will continue.
These two days have provided, opportunities for us to discuss a whole range of subjects, including of course, Vietnam and regional security generally, but including also a number of topics outside the security field. Australia is geographically closer to some of these problems than we are, and Prime Minister Gorton has been in office a year longer than I have, so I have very much appreciated the opportunity to .exchange views with him. I have obtained a number of new insights, but fundamentally, I find the perspective from ‘down under’ is very much the same as it is from Washington. This visit has been both profitable and enjoyable for us. I hope that you oan say the same, Mr Prime Minister, and that you and your charming wife will come and see us again. lt may be said that this statement affirms nothing new since the ANZUS Pact already existed - and in one sense that is true. But I believe that for a President just come to office newly to re-affirm, in such strong terms, the importance of the Treaty is of considerable significance to us, and to our future - and that that in turn is of significance to the United States and other free nations of the world.
One further outcome of the talks on ANZUS is that it has been decided to hold a meeting of the ANZUS Council in Canberra in August. The United States will be represented by the Secretary of State, the Honourable William P. Rogers. We have also agreed that meetings of officials of the three countries should continue to take place from time to time, and for this purpose there will be a meeting in Washington later in the year.
But the ANZUS treaty does not merely provide that we shall be assisted if our forces or our country are attacked in the Pacific. It also provides that we shall co-operate in the establishment of installations to help our joint defence. Under Article II of the Treaty we have an obligation jointly to maintain and develop our collective capacity to resist armed attack. To say we have this obligation is not to say; - as some falsely pretend - that we must accept any and every proposal for any establishment for any purpose.
The Australian Government must and does retain the right of decision on any proposal. Just as it must be, and is, provided with full information concerning any proposed base. But we have signed a treaty much to our advantage, and this imposes obligations on us if we are to live up to its spirit. A responsible Austraiian Government would therefore need to be convinced that there was good reason for rejecting a proposal, as, of course, it could.
There are some who argue that there is good reason to refuse any proposal for a joint defence establishment because such a establishment might become the target of attacks in nuclear war and might therefore endanger us. My Government rejects this argument. I cannot assert that in nuclear war there would be no possibility at all that such installations might be subject to attack.
But I will deny that this is reason to reject such establishments. They contribute to the military effectiveness and protection of that power on whom the safety and independence of Australia might, in the future, depend. They assist that power on whose capacity for military defence the peace of the world may well depend.
In my judgment Australia is subject to less danger, nuclear or otherwise, having these bases and a joint defence treaty than she would by not having these bases and not having a joint defence treaty. Furthermore, as a nation we expect to be given protection in time of danger: and we must therefore expect to give assistance in return. What sort of a pusillanimous, unworthy, nation would it be that said: ‘We rely on you to protect us - but oh no we . won’t incur the slightest risk to help you protect yourselves, and us, and others’?
This Government will not say that. If there be those who take a different view, that is their right. But it is equally their duty, if they aspire to alternative government, to state publicly they do take a different view, and would not have these bases, and give their reasons for it.
I come now to the question of maintenance of secrecy about the purposes and operation of such bases. This has, I know, caused concern to others as it has caused some to me, and it was a matter specifically discussed with the President. In general, one would wish to give as much information as possible. But ‘as much information as possible’ must mean as much information as would not impair the effectiveness of an installation or enable a potential enemy to discover more quickly or more certainly its purposes, and if the advice of military leaders and military scientists is that little or no information should be given because it would help a potential enemy then we should accept that advice in peace as we would unhesitatingly accept it in war. This we have done, and will continue to do.
The President, however, agreed with me that if any information is given, or is intended to be given in the United States in such a way that it becomes public, then such information must at the same time be given here. And if selected members of the United States Congress under pledge of secrecy make any visits to installations, so too, provided they take the same pledge of secrecy, must comparable members of this Parliament be permitted such visits. To use the President’s own words, in this matter: The same ground rules will apply to both our countries’. The restriction of information on defence establishments is nothing new. To a greater or lesser degree it is a practice of all administrations in all countries at all times, and for reasons I have stated, and subject to what I have just said, we will continue the practice. But again, if there be those who would depart from mis practice, who would insist on disclosure of information before agreeing to a joint defence project, it is their duty to Australia clearly to say so now even though that course might assist a potential enemy.
The question will be asked whether or not provisions of the ANZUS treaty, so clear in relation to Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea, apply as clearly to Australia’s forces stationed in Malaysia and Singapore. It would be misleading of me to say that this was so in all the variety of hypothetical situations which might arise, for while the treaty is quite specific as to certain areas it is not specific about those of which I now speak. Yet I think it would be equally wrong to assume that in certain circumstances United States assistance would not be forthcoming either under the ANZUS treaty or in some other way. Indeed any attempt now to codify in advance those situations in which ANZUS might apply and those in which it would not apply could well be restrictive, and, being restrictive, do harm.
Answers to questions about our forces in these areas are to be sought not in the ANZUS treaty alone but in the whole complex of actions and undertakings by Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the countries of the region. These actions and undertakings may be summed up as follows: Australia has decided that it will maintain forces in Malaysia and Singapore after the British withdrawal in 1971, for purposes and under conditions already stated to the House. The President of the United States, publicly and privately, has backed, supported, and applauded that decision. What we seek to do is to prevent a threat arising against Malaysia or Singapore or the region, and we seek this by showing a willingness to assist militarily in stated circumstances to maintain security - and we see this only as a means to the end of advancing economic development in the area, strengthening the capacity of the countries in the region to defend themselves, and encouraging regional co-operation, peaceful change, and progress. The United States shares these objectives and is contributing to these ends. 1 am sure she will continue to share the objectives and contribute to these ends in Asia generally and in the region of Asia of which I speak.
Indeed President Nixon, during our private talks authorised me to express his own attitude as outlined now. He said that it was the purpose and the determination of the United States to continue to participate in the Pacific and to strengthen the forces of freedom and progress in Asia. He said that he recognised fully the United States’ continuing role and responsibility in that part of the world. He said that by birth, by experience and by belief he knew that the stakes in Asia went far beyond what happened in Vietnam and that what happened in Asia in the future could well affect the future history of the world. He had, he told me, always been Asia-oriented as his history during 14 years in Congress would show. He had been born on the Pacific Coast, had gone to war in the Pacific, and he would continue to be Asiaoriented.
The House may like to know that before being said publicly here this paraphrase which I have just given was confirmed with the President as an accurate paraphrase of his views.
Mr Speaker, I think it is not without significance for Australia that such a firm statement should be publicly made by the new President at this time, and following so soon on our own decisions. In the course of our future history there will be many situations which cannot now be clearly foreseen, and as they cannot be clearly foreseen it is idle to speculate about them. But given the approach of the United States as I have just expressed it, given the shared objectives, and given the close working arrangements that already exist, I think we can be confident that should a threat develop then there will be the closest consultation and co-operation as to the means of combating that threat.
I shall, moving on, touch only briefly on the other matters discussed. I set out to the Administration and to the President the Australian Government’s reservations as to signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at present. Reasons for these reservations have been stated in this House before. Our questionings include anxiety as to whether the Treaty offers an effective safeguard to a threatened country; the number of countries which have stated they will not sign it; the other countries which have not yet decided whether to sign it or not; the terms of the inspection clauses, and so on.
I found the President fully appreciative of our position. He understood why the Australian Government was not signing foe Treaty until our questionings were resolved to our satisfaction. I am satisfied that no pressure at all will be applied by the United States Administration to induce us to sign.
I also took the opportunity, at the request of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), to seek from the Secretary of Defence, the Honourable Melvin Laird, and from the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General Mcconnell, further information as to intentions of the United States Air Force regarding the Fill aircraft, and general information regarding the aircraft itself. The original intention to purchase some 1,500 aircraft for the United States Air Force and the United States
Navy has, as the House well knows, been very considerably reduced and I understand that the existing order is for 493 aircraft of which 141 are F111 As which are comparable with our own F111Cs. The Chief of Staff was emphatic that the United States Air Force regarded the F111 as an exceptionally good aircraft and that it would be in service at least until 1980 and probably much longer. The United States Air Force expects the wing carry-through box to be tested to 8,000 hours, or two aircraft lifetimes, by July and intends then to remove current restrictions on the operation of the aircraft. However, the original contractual arrangements called for testing for 16,000 hours and I made it clear mat we would not wish to take delivery of our aircraft ourselves until that period of testing had been satisfactorily completed. It was again confirmed that the arrangements for the ceiling price for our planes remained in effect.
These general matters were the subject of our discussion, but I understand there are many technical details and matters still under study by the Defence and Air Departments of Australia and that these will still need clarification and study by the Minister for Defence and the appropriate specialist officers at a later stage.
Mr Speaker, most of what I have said has dealt, in one way or another, with matters of defence. This is natural, for our own security in a changing world depends to a very great extent on our relations and arrangements with the United States - and on the credibility of United States power being maintained. I believe the President will be resolute to see that this power is maintained. He believes that if it is not, the peace of the world will be jeopardised. He will pursue an American position of strength and that strength will not be reduced until the world becomes a more secure and peaceful place.
But defence is only a means to an end - the end of preserving the national independence of peoples so that they can pursue in freedom prosperity and the provision of opportunity for the individuals who make up nations. We, this Government, will do what we can to help in these objectives.
I present the following paper:
Prime Minister’s visit to the United States of
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
Mr BOWEN (Parramatta - Attorney-
General) - by leave- On 27th November last I informed the House that the Government had decided not to press on with the Patents Bill in the then current session, but to reconsider the whole of the proposed system of deferred examination in the light of submissions made by the Institute of Patent Attorneys. Since then I have discussed the matter with representatives of the Institute and of the Australian Manufacturers Patents, Industrial Designs, Copyright and Trade Marks Association. It is my purpose now to inform the House that, following these discussions, the Government has decided to make certain amendments to the Bill, as a result of which the Institute of Patent Attorneys has withdrawn its objections to the Bill, although still expressing some reservations about the system of deferred examination. I have circulated to honourable members a memorandum showing in detail what those amendments are. It will be recalled that the main purpose of the Patents Bill is to change the administrative procedures leading to the granting of a patent, so as to lessen the amount of work required in the Patent Office and reduce the backlog of work there. It was intended that this be done by making two changes in the procedures. In the first place, an application for a patent would not be examined in the Patent Office unless the applicant specifically requested examination.
If be wished to do so, he would have to request examination within 5 years from the date on which his complete specification was lodged. If he did not request examination within that time, his application would lapse. That is the system of deferred examination provided in the Bill. In the second place, it is sought to take advantage of the examination of equivalent applications in the United Kingdom andthe United States of America by adopting the results of examination in the Patent Offices in those countries. That is the system that has come to be known as modified examination.
The period of 5 years was chosen as a compromise between conflicting considerations. On the one hand, it is necessary to allow an applicant a reasonable time in which to make up his mind whether he wishes to have his application examined. If an applicant were required to decide too early in the life of his application, before the commercial merit of the invention became apparent, whether it would be worthwhile proceeding with his application, he would have to request examination in order to keep his application alive. If this happened in a substantial proportion of cases, it would defeat the purpose of introducing deferred examination. The Patent Office would not be able to overcome its present backlog of work and become up to date with examination. On the other hand, to have a large number of unexamined applications pending for a long period in the Patent Office undoubtedly creates difficulties for industry. It was this aspect of the proposal mat caused most concern to the Institute of Patent Attorneys.
The Institute’s view was that an applicant ought not to be allowed, irrespective of the work situation in the Patent Office, to let his application lie for 5 years before being required to make up his mind whether he wished to proceed with it. The Institute suggested that an applicant ought to be required to make up his mind when his application was reached in its turn in the normal course of examination of applications in the Patent Office. It appeared to me that this suggestion had a good deal of merit. On the one hand, it retained the advantage of the scheme in the Bill that an application would not be examined unless the applicant so requested. In addition, while the Patent Office is several years behind with examination, applicants would have a substantial period in which to decide whether to proceed with their applications. This should allow a sufficient number to drop out so that, with the recruitment of additional examiners, the Patent Office would have a good chance of catching up with its work. On the other hand, as th; changes in the procedures to be effected by the Bill and the recruitment of additional staff have the effect of reducing the time taken by the Patent Office to reach a given application, so third parties would not be left in doubt for so long about the outcome of the application. In any event it is intended to retain the provision already included in the Bill entitling a third party to have an application brought forward for early examination.
It is, therefore, proposed to introduce amendments to the Bill to confer on the Commissioner of Patents power to require an applicant to elect whether he wishes to have his application examined. It is intended that, except in limited and special circumstances, this power would be exercised when an application is reached in its turn in the ordinary course of examination. Applications are ordinarily examined in the order in which they are lodged in the Patent Office. It is proposed to allow an applicant 6 months from the date of the Commissioner’s direction to decide whether he wishes to proceed with his application or not.
If an applicant wishes to take advantage of the scheme of modified examination and, at the time he has to reply to the Commissioner’s direction the equivalent United Kingdom or United States patent is not available, he will be able to request that examination of his application be deferred for a further 9 months, but not beyond the end of the period of 5 years from the date of lodgement of his complete specification. If, before the end of that 9-months period, he obtains a patent in the United Kingdom or the United States in respect of an equivalent application, he will be able to request modified examination. If he does not then have such a patent, he must request full examination or his application will lapse. If the period of 5 years expires before the period of 9 months, the applicant must request either full or modified examination, as the case may be, before the end of the 5-year period.
The proposed amendments would make two other minor changes. The first relates to the proposal in the Bill to introduce a continuation fee. This is to be an annual fee to be paid by an applicant to maintain his application. Under the provisions in the Bill, the continuation fees would have been payable in respect of an application only until the applicant requested examination or until lapsing. It is how proposed that the continuation fees be payable until a patent is granted on the application, or the application is refused or lapses, as the case may be. Where a patent is granted on an application, annual renewal fees for the patent will be payable, as at present.
The second change affects section 162 of the Patents Act. That section requires the Commissioner to give an applicant the opportunity of being heard before exercising a discretionary power adversely to the applicant. It is obviously inappropriate for this to apply in a case where the Commissioner calls on an applicant to declare whether he wishes to have his application examined. To avoid the possibility of argument about the applicability of section 162 to such a case, and to make it clear that the section does not apply in such a case, its application is to be specifically excluded.
The scheme of deferred examination that would be established by the Bill as proposed to be amended would retain the main administrative advantages of the scheme originally proposed. But it meets the objections raised by some that the period ot 5 years to be allowed in every case was too long, particularly as the Patent Office became more up to date with its work. The amendments will be formally introduced by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) during the Committee stages of the debate on the Bill in another place. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the interest shown by the Institute of Patent Attorneys and the assistance given by the Institute in resolving the objections to the Bill as it now stands. I present the following paper:
Patents Bill 1968- Ministerial Statement, IS May 1969. and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
– Mr Speaker, the Patents Bill has had a protracted and an unsatisfactory history in the Parliament. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) gave the first reading to a similar Bill on 2nd November 1967. Before a second reading could be given the House was prorogued for the Senate election. On 16th May of last year the Attorney-General again gave the Bill a first reading and, by leave, made his speech on the motion for the second reading of it. The debate on bis motion was resumed on 14th August. The debate was resumed on behalf of my party by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). He was followed by the only speaker on the Government side to take part, the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John). Both the speech by the honourable member for Cunningham and the speech by the honourable member for Warringah were outstanding, the first particularly for its grasp of the technical aspects and prospects of patents law and the second for its grasp of the legal implications. The debate was adjourned.
The debate was resumed and concluded another 3 months later on 14th November when the Attorney-General alone spoke. He took the honourable member for Warringah to task for presenting an exaggerated case. He then disparaged the case put by the honourable member for Warringah based, as it was, on proposals made by the Institute of Patent Attorneys by saying that the honourable member for Warringah had relied on proposals which in fact had been made earlier by the Institute but had been superseded. The Attorney-General concluded with the words:
Subsequently the committee-
This was the Patents Committee, which had considered the amendments of the patent law: . . considered the matter further and recommended the adoption of the scheme contained in this Bill. It is therefore entirely misleading to suggest that the report which was quoted at such length by the honourable member refers to the scheme in the Bill.
A week later the honourable member for Warringah repeated his charges in an article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’. Furthermore the Institute of Patent Attorneys, through its President, who was a member of the Patents Committee, expressed misgivings in letters to honourable members and statements to the Press.
– It was a different president.
– Whoever it was, it was a president of the Institute asserting that he spoke on behalf of the Institute. The Attorney-General freely quoted the President of the Institute in his speech on 14th November, which I have just quoted. Apparently he was referring then to an earlier president. Subsequently, the current President made a Press statement and communicated with members in both Houses.
On 26th November I asked the AttorneyGeneral this question:
I ask the Attorney-General whether he noticed in today’s newspapers a statement by the Institute of Patent Attorneys that it opposed the system of deferred examination. I ask him whether he received from the Institute on 18th September of this year a submission strongly urging that that system should not be adopted. If he noticed this statement today and if he received this submission from the Institute, will he correct any impression that the Institute supported the Bill which passed through this House a couple of weeks ago.
The Attorney-General replied:
I would not wish to correct the impression that is suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. I was not conscious that 1 gave that impression. I did not canvass the attitude of the Institute of Patent Attorneys to the Bill before the House. Let me say this: I had received a document dated 18th September which put up further proposals and I had replied to that. In the course of this memorandum - that is what the document was - sent to me by the President of the Institute, the President stated that he had been concerned at reports and letters in the Press suggesting that the Institute was opposed to the whole of the Bill and would be glad if it were not passed. He took the opportunity to place on record that this was not so.
It is true that he did go on to make these alternative suggestions because the system of deferred examination has not been one that the Institute has ever been happy about. But I dealt with that in the ordinary course and I pointed out various matters which were of a technical nature. I thought that it disposed of the matter.
Then I persevered with this interjection:
When did the Attorney-General reply to this memorandum from the Institute?
The Attorney-General replied:
I suggest that if the Leader of the Opposition wants any further detailed information he put his question on the notice paper.
The following day, 27th November, before I could put a question on the notice paper the Attorney-General, by leave, made this statement:
Yesterday, when answering a question directed to me by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), I referred to a memorandum dated 18th September which had been addressed to me by the Institute of Patent Attorneys. In replying to the Leader of the Opposition I said:
I dealt with that in the ordinary course and 1 pointed out various matters which were of a technical nature. I thought that it disposed of the matter.
The Leader of the Opposition then asked me when I had replied. Upon returning to my office I called for the papers to ascertain the date in order to supply it to the Leader of the Opposition. Although I was under the impression that I had replied by letter, I found that although a draft had been prepared and worked on by me, a reply had in fact not been sent. I have informed the Leader of the Opposition of this position. I advised him that I would correct my answer today.
In following the honourable and learned gentleman, I made two points. Firstly, I said that he had in fact given the impression on 14th November that the Institute had no objections to the Bill and had approved the deferred examination scheme in the Bill. Secondly, I referred to the fact that this was the only matter of industrial property law on which members had not been given the report of a committee, either by it being circulated to them as individuals or by being tabled in the Parliament. I informed the House that my Party, as a result of the information given by the Institute of Patent Attorneys and published in the Press, had reconsidered its attitude to the Bill and had decided to seek ‘an inquiry further into the proposals to amend the Commonwealth’s patent laws, and that in the other place we would move accordingly. Then the Attorney-General, by leave, made a further statement, and he concluded with the following paragraph:
I can understand that the Opposition has further considered the position in the light of this and, indeed, I would place considerable weight on the views of this Institute. The Government has decided that it will not press on this session with the Bill which is now in another place, but will take under consideration again this whole question of the deferred examination system.
Why is it that in making his first statement by leave that day to correct an impression that he had given in answer to a question I had asked without notice the previous day, the Attorney-General did not mention that the whole consideration of the Bill would be suspended while a new examination was made of the existing proposals? It was only when I informed him that in another place we would oppose the Bill to secure a proper inquiry that he at last said the matter would be suspended. Accordingly, later that day in the other place the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) announced that in that session the Government would not be proceeding with the Patents Bill. Then in answer to a statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Senator Cohen), the Leader of the Government said:
My note on this says that we will defer this Bill, and I should stick strictly to my brief.
There the matter has since rested. I will give the House the practice which has applied in respect of other matters of industrial property and bankruptcy as listed in an answer to me on 19th March. In respect of bills of exchange a committee was appointed by the Government on 13th April 1962. It reported on 1st May 1964. The report was presented to the Parliament on 12th October 1965. These three processes - the commissioning of a report, the presentation of the report and the tabling of the report - took place in respect of bankruptcy on 23rd February 1956, 14th December 1962 and 12th October 1965. They took place in respect of copyrights on 15th September 1958, 22nd December 1959 and 12th October 1965. They took place in respect of trademarks on 10th October 1950, 21st October 1954 and 4th November 1954. It is in respect of patents alone that no report has ever been presented to the Parliament. The AttorneyGeneral says that one report dated 17th April 1952 was made available to members by circular. He proceeded:
I have been unable to find out with certainty whether or not copies of the report produced in April 1959 were circulated to members. The report produced in May 1966 was not circulated to members.
Why is it that the reports commissioned on bills of exchange, bankruptcy, copyrights and trade marks have all been tabled in the Parliament and that the reports on patents have not been tabled? The first patents report was circulated to members, the second report may or may not have been circulated to members, and the third report was definitely not circulated to members. The history of this Bm is thoroughly unsatisfactory. The honourable member for Warringah had his first overt disagreement in this House with the Attorney-General since the Voyager debate on the subject of this Bill. The honourable member for Warringah has been vindicated on this matter as on every other matter which the Government has permitted to be debated in the House. Accordingly, to make certain that there is a proper consideration of this item of industrial property law; for the first time to make certain that the procedure which has been applied by the three predecessors of the Attorney-General in respect to industrial property is followed in respect to patents as well, and to make certain that the House is fully informed as to the attitudes of the experts and as to the responses of the Attorney-General I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘the House is of the opinion that the Attorney-General should appoint a committee to inquire into and report upon what alterations are desirable to the Patent Laws of the Commonwealth in the light of the Patents Bill 1968 and the proposals submitted by the Institute of Patent Attorneys’.
It is true that the Government has the numbers in this place to defer or to defeat any debate on this matter. The Bill, however, cannot proceed unless there is a vote on such an amendment in another place where, too, it will be moved.
– Mr Speaker, I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak at a later stage.
– In speaking to the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) I say that it is unacceptable to the Government. The proposed inquiry is not required. Let me make three comments on what the Leader of the Opposition said. Firstly, he referred to the fact that the report on this Patents Bill was not distributed to honourable members as were various other reports, such as for example, the report on the Copyright Act. The Leader of the Opposition should pay attention to the nature of the two reports. The report on the Copyright Act and the other reports to which he referred were substantial reviews of the law which applied on those particular subjects. This particular report on the Patents Bill was a restricted report on the very narrow section of patent law dealing with the arrears which had accumulated in the administrative section of the office, and it is not the type of large report which would be received from a committee ‘and which would be printed and distributed. It was a report obtained by my predecessor when he was AttorneyGeneral for bis own information on the administrative problem of arrears which had arisen in the Patent Office. Therefore it is idle to compare it with these other reports.
Secondly, reference was made to criticism which was made of this Bill when it was previously in the House, and in particular some criticism which I made of a statement of the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John). The statement which I criticised was a statement to the effect that certain criticisms of the Institute of Patent Attorneys - criticisms which were very strong and which were quoted at great length by the honourable member for Warringah - were directed at a different set of proposals than the ones I was presenting to the House. I suggested that it was therefore entirely misleading to quote those statements of the Institute of Patent Attorneys as if they were criticisms of these proposals because the statements referred to different proposals. I believe that was justifiable criticism and it would be quite wrong to regard them as if they were criticisms of these proposals. The fact is that the proposals were made by a Committee in its report which had the same sort of criticisms of earlier proposals and had rejected those earlier proposals to which the criticisms of the Institute were then directed.
I now come to the third point I wanted to make in referring to what the Leader of the Opposition said. It is true that before this Bill had finally passed through the other place and at about the time of the second reading, the Institute of Patent Attorneys stated publicly that it was opposed to the Bill. It is equally true that the former President of the Institute of Patent Attorneys was a member of the Committee which actually recommended the proposals which were included in the Bill. It is also true to say that the Institute had written to me at the time this Bill was before the House and when I was speaking on it, telling me that although the Institute was never happy about the system of the deferred examination it realised the need for the Bill and it did not object at that stage to its form. It was afterwards that one could detect a change in the attitude of the Institute, and I do not seek to assign reasons to that change.
Later on, just when the Bill was going through the House, the Institute adopted rather strong opposition to it. When that opposition was voiced I indicated in my statement which was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition that I was prepared to reconsider this proposal, and I have done this in the intervening period since the last session of this Parliament. Not only have I reconsidered it but I have had conferences with the representatives of the Institute of Patent Attorneys and of the Australian Manufacturers Patents, Industrial Designs, Copyrights and Trade Marks Association, as I mentioned in my statement this evening. As a result of this reconsideration and the conferences, the form now proposed with the amendment foreshadowed to be made in the Committee stages in the other place, the Bill is in a form which is acceptable to the Government and to the Institute of Patent Attorneys. It is true that the Institute is still unhappy about the general nature of a deferred system, but it is not opposing the Bill nor is it opposing the form of the Bill.
If this Bill is held up any further there will be increased difficulty in the Patents Office where the arrears are continually increasing; in spite of all the efforts that have been made in recruiting additional staff. The Patents Office is competing not only with other departments such as the Department of Labour and National Service but also with private industry for physicists and engineers, and as everyone knows they are in somewhat short supply throughout the world. The Patent Office is competing with other departments and firms for these people and it is not getting a sufficiently wide range of recruits to enable it to deal under the present system with the arrears, and these arrears are steadily increasing. The present time lag in dealing with patents is of the order of from 4i to 5 years. This state of affairs is wholly unacceptable to the Government, and this Bill is designed to cure this position. If anyone seeks to further delay this Bill the responsibility for intensifying the arrears position to a point where it may not be possible to cope with them, even by this Bill, will have to be borne on their shoulders.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 1887).
- Mr Speaker, before the suspension of the sitting we were discussing a Bill to authorise the giving of guarantees on behalf of the Commonwealth in respect of certain loans made to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. We had listened to honourable members opposite congratulating themselves on the way in which they were carrying forward the education system by what was in fact simply a subsidy to usury. Increased interest rates have applied ever since this Government came into office and have become a continuing embarrassment to private and public institutions. The reason for this legislation was set out by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his second reading speech. The Minister said:
Recently the independent school authorities in the Australian Capital Territory have experienced delays and disappointment in obtaining loans for approved buildings at reasonable rates of interest.
What we are doing this evening is giving a government guarantee to these loans so that they may be obtained more easily than has been the case heretofore. This side of the House has no particular opposition to that. We realise that it is part of the hotch-potch and hit-and-miss method by which the Government is stepping intothe various areas of education as it sees fit and mostly for political expediency.
But this is not a great financial measure at all. It does not represent any great measure of assistance applied by this Government to any form of education. It is simply the type of guarantee that we give in other areas and which could well be expanded to include many other private and social institutions in the community. I point out, for instance, that the high schools in my area, and indeed all the high schools and secondary schools in Victoria conducted by the government, have a great need for readily accessible funds for development work. The Government is not assisting to provide them. The funds are being provided by parent groups. We have always found it difficult to raise money. The Commonwealth could well step in and start to guarantee the loans sought by some of these schools. But at present we find very little interest shown by the opposite side of the House in three-quarters of the schools, which are government run schools and which are attended by the children of Australia. Hardly a sound ever comes from them on this matter. I wonder whether they have ever visited such schools in their own electorates? I wonder whether they really know what the position is in schools in their own electorates throughout Australia?
Does the Minister for Education and Science, for instance, know the condition - although this is not in his electorate- of the high school at Horsham? The interest to us is the newly found interest of the honourable members opposite in education. I turn to Hansard in 1962 which was the year before the 1963 election and I note that science blocks were then considered to be a wonderful thing for education. There was not a sound from the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten); he did not even know where the schools were. The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), who spoke so eloquently this afternoon about schools and what is needed to be done for non-State schools, has never participated in any debate on education in this place before. So, the interest of honourable members opposite is not in the schools. Their interest is not in the children or in their education. Their interest is in the preference votes of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Honourable members opposite know this. We are inflicting upon the Australian educational system a growing pattern of eccentric behaviour. For my part I want to see equality of opportunity for every child in the schools of Australia. If somebody will produce a system which satisfies the requirements of public education, public accountability, public responsibility and the retention of decent automony and interest in local schools, I would be for it. But, of course, there is no evidence of such a system at all.
In recent years we have had science blocks, we have had libraries, we subsidise interest, we guarantee loans - we do all these things but there is no evidence anywhere of a systematic approach to the needs of Australian education. As was pointed out here this afternoon, in fact the greatest areas of need in Catholic education are in the parish schools throughout Australia. As far as I can tell nothing has been done about them and nothing is likely to be done about them. The Government has no system or principle that it will bring to bear to solve their problems. I think the House itself ought to start to take note of the risks which we are taking in developing this system. We have embarked upon a bidding match - a bidding match which is involved not with educational principles but with political expediency. Somewhere along the line we have to stop, take a good look at the system and say: ‘We will do this on these principles for these reasons for these schools.’ That day will have to come very soon or we will be on the slippery path towards wrecking both systems.
– Tell your Leader that.
– The honourable member is here, of course, as a result of some of this political expediency. I am not a great believer in the theories that try to explain why people win an election. After all, it would be a pretty odd sort of theory that produced most of the people opposite. The facts are that, with no regard to education, we are stepping into the field not of need but of political expediency. In the Australian Capital Territory in this instance I think the legislation does touch an area of need. I see nothing basically wrong with giving guarantees in this way so that the people who are responsible for the schools are able to get to work on their tasks of building them and developing them. But it is wrong in principle to go over the whole field of education, pick a little piece here and do something there, spend a few million dollars in this area and $2m or $3m on that, and assist this one or that one because it will produce some votes or some preferences at the next election.
What we must be aiming at, of course, is equality of educational opportunity throughout Australia. When public education started in the 1870s, this was the major effort. This was the raison d’etre of the whole educational system and it was the great pride of the country that it was able to produce for most Australians equal school opportunities wherever they were - whether they were in the deprived suburban areas or in the remote country areas. In some ways the Australian effort was probably unique in that the country people in the remotest outposts probably received somewhere near the same educational effort as did those in the major city areas. This ought to be the principle upon which an Australian Parliament applies itself to the educational system.
But when we come to the principle of the non-State schools of Australia we have to realise that they are different in many ways from the public school. We also have to remember that we have as great a responsibility - in fact, numerically it ought to be three times as great a responsibility - to the government schools of Australia as we have to the non-government schools. Ii is a fact that while there are many hundreds of thousands of children in the non-State schools - principally in the Catholic schools - there are three times as many in government schools and that many of these government schools are unworthy of the task of educating young Australians. It is just as important that this Parliament directs its ideas towards those schools. But it is true that there is a fundamental difference between the aproach of the non-State school and the State school to education. As I pointed out before dinner, there is a question of the responsibility that they accept and the access to them by the public. If schools charge fees they make themselves less accessible. If schools have religious tests for people who enter them - as the odd one round Australia has, although certainly not the Catholic schools - they are not accessible to the Australian people who are supplying the finance.
Then there is the general question of accountability. We on this side of the House have developed a national policy on education. In the 12 or 14 years that I have been here, it has been gratifying indeed to see that some interest in education has been sparked in honourable members opposite. It would be instructive for many of them if they turned back the pages of Hansard, instead of just turning back their political philosophies, to see how it all came about. In 1958 education was debated as a matter of public importance. If we turn back the record I think we will find it was the first major debate on education for about 13 years. At that time honourable members opposite, led by their distinguished former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Gordon Menzies as he now is, poured scorn upon the idea of entering into the field of education. Sir Robert said that it had nothing to do with the Commonwealth. It was a State matter. That contention continued year by year, debate by debate, until grants were made to universities. We managed to get assistance for universities; that was somehow different^ Education was no area for the Commonwealth, and then suddenly the magic theory was developed that perhaps there were some votes in it and so we had State grants.
In the Australian Capital Territory, the principle was different. This was total Commonwealth responsibility. It would be instructive for honourable members to study the local area of education. In this area we find the New South Wales State Government supplying the bones of education, as we might call them, and the Commonwealth supplying the sinews of war - the money. But there is very close co-operation between the Commonwealth’s authority, through its departmental officers, and the State authority. A local authority is developing here for a population of some 100,000. In some ways I had hoped to see the integration of State and nonState schools in mutual effort in many areas. I do not know what the final solution to this is. I cannot see it as simply as honourable members opposite do, and that is the supply of money with no direct responsibility or accountability for it. I can only see in that a great danger to both the political structure of Australia, in which we have violent bidding matches about it, and the economic structure through which we have to finance it all. Whenever we offer $25m, honourable members opposite come out with $30m; and we will increase it to $45m. Somebody else will offer $50 per child per annum. Honourable members opposite know very well that the pressures next year will be $51 or $60, and it will go on and on.
– You want control.
– I am pointing out the dangers to the honourable member. At least the honourable members in the House are showing some interest in this debate. These are the errors and the dangers that are before us in allowing this to become a bidding match and we must take some steps, whatever they are, to prevent it. We must take whatever steps are necessary for a national Parliament to take to see that people do get a proper equality of effort in their education. But I, for my part, will not give my imprimatur to the simple pouring out of public money in a nonaccountable, non-responsible way to any authority whatsoever. We have become too much devoted to the largesse system - subsidies for this and subsidies for that. This will rise to the point of hundreds of millions of dollars per annum, at the rate we are going, and at some stage even a Liberal Government will have to stop and say: Thus far and no further on these principles’. What are the principles of accountability and responsibility to be?
– What would you suggest?
– I frankly do not know, and I say frankly to the public of Australia and to the people in this House that they do not know either.
– It has taken you half an hour.
– The honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) interjects. His predecessor was so distinguished that I find it difficult to admit it. But the facts are that the honourable member does not know, and, what is more, I do not think he cares. This is the most important financial issue that could come before us, because education is the greatest social public enterprise in the country and it is one of the most expensive. If we are going to spend $700m or $800m a year, as it is at the moment on public education, and if we are going to give some sort of parity, as it is called, to private education by using public funds, it will cost another $200m or $300m a year. Is the Government going to allow that flow without proper accountability and responsibility and without any acceptance of principles of supervision at all? Is that what the Government is saying it will do? Well, let it stand up in public and say it. Of course the Government does not intend to do that. The Government has not given any thought to it. It does not know and nobody knows the answers to the problems. I say to the House I do not know what the answers are; I can only spread the word of warning. At least here tonight there are no great dangers in the principle that is before us, except the one that flows from the Government’s continual usurious attitude towards interest rates whereby it has allowed interest rates to reach 7% or 8% even for a social enterprise such as education. Because of this we have to subsidise or guarantee the system otherwise the people cannot get their money. A great deal of the crippling effect upon private education and its capital works has flowed from the financial policies pursued by this Government.
– When I first entered this Parliament I used to wonder why it was that I always seemed to follow the honourable member for Wills (MrBryant) in debates. I remarked about this to several of my colleagues on this side. They said that I could not always follow the honourable member because they always followed him. It took us a little while to work out why we all thought that we followed him in the order of participation in the debate - we would not follow him in any other way. It was because he speaks more often and more quickly than most other honourable members. One of the advantages of his talking so quickly is that often he runs out of wind, which means that he finishes his speech long before his time expires.
But we were a little unfortunate tonight because after he had been speaking for about 15 minutes the sitting was suspended for the evening meal. Upon resumption at 8 o’clock the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) made statements. It was not until those statements had been completed that the debate on this Bill was resumed. So since he was interrupted shortly before 6 o’clock tonight the honourable member for Wills has had more than 3 hours to get his second wind. The second portion of the honourable member’s speech occupied about 15 minutes. So today be has spoken for a full 30 minutes on this Bill. During the second portion of his speech - when he got his second wind - he merely reiterated the points he had made during the first part of his speech but he still did not say clearly whether he was for or against aid to independent schools.
– Where do you stand?
– I am all for aid to independent schools. I have made this clear many times in the House and I pointed out these facts in my maiden speech.
– You are only electioneering.
– I did not need to engage in electioneering and I still do not need to do so because I have not been one of those people who have found it necessary.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)
Order! There are far too many interjections from both sides of the House. Interjections must cease.
– It has been said by honourable members opposite that the reason why honourable members on this side are in favour of aid to independent schools is because they need the preferences of the Democratic Labor Party. I say quite clearly that I was elected to this House with an absolute majority of about 4,800 votes over both the Democratic Labor Party and Australian Labor Party candidates. I did ot have to rely on Democratic Labor Party preferences then and I am sure that with the leadership we are getting from this Government I will not have to rely on Democratic Labor Party preferences in the future.
Let us look at some of the arguments advanced by the honourable member for Wills. He used that rather interesting phrase ‘subsidy for usury’. If he can refer to this Bill purely as usury he is quite right when he says that he does not know, because if that is all he can say by way of criticism of the Bill he does not have much ground on which to criticise it. At one stage in the early part of his speech, before he got his second wind, he said that State or government schools were neglected by the Government and that it was favouring independent or church schools. This is clearly not true. If the honourable member examines the situation he will see that grants for libraries and science blocks are given to all schools irrespective of whether they are government schools or independent or church schools. This Government believes that all children, be they Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Methodist or attending State schools, are entitled to the best education they can get. The honourable member said that the independent schools turned people away but not the State schools; these, he said, take anybody. That is an irresponsible statement. I tried to point out by way of interjection - Mr Speaker did not allow Interjections at that stage - that State schools in Victoria and, I presume, elsewhere in Australia, are zoned and that if a parent wants his child to attend a State school that parent has to send the child to the school in the zone. If the child lives outside that area, even though the parent wants him to go to a school other than the one to which he is zoned, the child is forced to go to the one to which he is zoned. The parent has to obey the control of the bureaucrats. This situation rather appeals to the nationalising ideas of honourable members opposite. They believe in government control. But we on this side believe in the freedom of choice. This,- is one of the reasons why we like to think that people have the right to choose the school to which they will send their children.
The legislation at present before the House will, when passed, give the Government authority to give guarantees on behalf of the Commonwealth with respect to loans for independent schools in the Territories under the control of the Commonwealth, namely the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Canberra is probably the fastest growing city in Australia. Because of this the demand for educational facilities has been considerable. The independent and church schools in Canberra have contributed considerably towards meeting this demand and so much is now owing on the new independent schools that bankers and financiers have refused to lend any more money for new schools to be built. As a result it has become necessary for the Commonwealth Government to give some form of assistance to the independent schools to enable them to overcome this problem or else face up to the fact that if the independent and church schools fail to cope with their share of increased demand the Government would be forced to do so itself.
Last year the building of two Catholic schools in Canberra worth $3.2m had to be delayed because there was not enough money to pay the contractors. The State schools had to absorb students who would have gone to those two Catholic schools. Up to the present the only avenue for borrowing open to independent schools has been the banks, insurance companies or finance companies. Despite the Government guarantees of repayment these lenders have apparently decided that there are more profitable outlets for lending than to the schools. This Bill should help to boost the borrowing ability of the schools. By authorising the Government to guarantee repayment of the loan the resources of such funds as superannuation funds, particularly the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, will become available to schools. Until now these funds have been prevented from lending to schools because no formal government guarantee of repayment has existed. As an additional bonus the schools should be able to borrow at a slightly lower rate of interest from superannuation funds than from bankers and insurance companies. This legislation will enable independent and church schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory to continue to play their part in providing the educational requirements of the communities in those Territories. [Quorum formed.]
Mr Deputy Speaker, I have noticed that when the Opposition feels it is not getting the best of an argument it uses up some of the time of a Government speaker by calling for a quorum. Tonight Opposition members have succeeded in taking up about 3 or 4 minutes of my time in this way. I congratulate the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) on his smart tactic. Let me remind this House that the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) said in his speech this afternoon, that if Labor had been in power since 1955 there would be no government assistance today for independent and church schools. Recently the Canberra Times’ published a statement of account released by the Catholic Education Office, which runs a centralised fees scheme to meet the cost of Catholic education in the Australian Capital Territory. It revealed an estimated income of approximately $228,000 and an estimated expenditure of approximately $240,000 and therefore an estimated deficit of approximately $12,000. This figure is proof positive of the need for this Bill and the assistance it will provide. As Mr Micawber in David Copperfield put it:
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual Income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty ought and six, result misery.
That was just another way of saying that one cannot spend more than one’s income. This Government has never shirked its responsibilities on education.
– Despite the interjection of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I am sure that other honourable members know that under the Constitution education is a function of the States- [Quorum formed.] Mr Deputy Speaker, once again the honourable member for Reid has succeeded in using up several minutes of my time because he does not like the type of things I am saying. The Menzies Government introduced the Commonwealth scholarship scheme and this Government has greatly expanded the nation’s university programme. This Government also has given financial assistance to the States for teacher training, for government and independent schools and for the construction of science blocks. Recently the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) when visiting my electorate delivered a speech at a dinner attended by some 400 people. Among other things he said that over the past 5 years Commonwealth expenditure on education has risen by more than 21%, and that the Government has allocated more than $2 10m to education.
So much for the views of the honourable member for Wills on what the Government has done in this field. What do honourable members opposite generally think about aid to independent schools? They have never been really happy about government assistance for the various independent schools in Australia. However, the Opposition speaks with many voices on this matter. At Labor’s special Federal Conference in 1966, where the Federal platform of the ALP was amended in respect of State aid, this resolution was carried: 4 (a) 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-
This is the important part - provided that the cost of the capital development of this system is not a charge on any government.
– Is that contained in Labor’s platform?
– That is in Labor’s platform as amended in 1966 at the Federal Conference to which I have referred. The 1967 annual State conference of the Victorian Branch of the Party went further, passing the following motion:
That Conference reiterates support for clause 4 of the former Education policy which reads: 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. . . [Quorum formed.]
Mr Deputy Speaker, once again the honourable member for Reid and the Opposition have endeavoured to stop me speaking because they do not like the things I say. In particular they do not like being reminded that one of their State conferences came out so strongly against government aid for independent schools. That is understandable when only five Labor members are in the House listening to this debate. I am told that only three Opposition members were present when the last quorum was called for. It shows how interested the Opposition is in government aid to independent schools. To return to what I was saying: Obviously I shall not now be able to deliver some of my speech because Opposition members have endeavoured to deny me the right to speak freely on this subject. They talk here so often about freedom of speech, but they have endeavoured to deny it to me tonight.
– On a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, I question whether the honourable member is speaking on this Bill. I do not dunk he has yet mentioned it
-Order! No point of order is involved.
– Once again a member of the Opposition has endeavoured to waste the time of my speech by raising a frivolous point of order. Of the five Labor members who are at present in the chamber, two at least are determined to stop me speaking. They do not want to hear my views on this matter. What I was trying to get over, and I will repeat it before members opposite try to interrupt me again and deny me freedom to speak, was that in 1967 at the-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I object to the honourable member’s statement that I am trying to prevent him speaking. I am simply complying with the Standing Orders.
– Order! There is no point of order.
– Once again some of my time has been taken up by the Opposition. At the 1967 Victorian Annual State ALP Conference delegates passed the following motion:
Conference reiterates support of clause 4 of the former Federal education policy which reads: Citizens who do not want to use the school facilities provided by the State, whether for conscientious reasons or otherwise, shall have the absolute right to develop an independent system of schools of recognised standard provided they do so at their own cost.
Later, in an article in the Melbourne Herald’ written by a spokesman for the ALP-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I draw the attention of the Chair to the fact that the honourable member is reading his speech.
-Order! There is no point of order. I should like to inform the House that the Chair will not tolerate frivolous points of order.
– Once again I am interrupted. The honourable member claims that I am reading my speech. If he were a little more alert he would realise that I am quoting, and it is impossible to quote accurately unless one reads. I quote from the article - which appeared on 20th April 1968, which was attributed to a spokesman for the ALP and which condemned State aid to independent schools - the following extracts:
For better or worse, government aid for privately-owned, operated and controlled schools is now a fact of life. On the whole, we believe it is for worse.
The capital and running costs of private schools should not be a charge against the State.
The June 1968 conference of the Victorian Branch of the ALP passed a motion directing the State Executive and the Parliamentary Parry to oppose any grants to nongovernment schools. So there we are: That is what the ALP’s policy was on government aid to independent schools. But something has happened since then. A gallup poll was taken recently and it revealed that two out of three people would favour the Federal Government giving $22m a year to church and other independent schools. What happened immediately to the Opposition? I refer to a newspaper article which was headed ‘Aid Private Schools Says Cohen’. Senator Cohen, of course, is Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He came out in favour of aid for private schools.
The Melbourne ‘Age’ of 27th February of this year carried the heading ‘Whitlam Promises Cash for Schools - Emergency $50m if Labor Elected’. It is easy to understand that this is election year and to recognise that the message of the gallup poll got over. The article was written by Allan Barnes, that excellent correspondent of the Melbourne ‘Age’ and it stated:
The Leader of the Federal Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has promised to make an emergency grant of S50m for schools if Labor wins the election this year.
Mr Whitlam said at least half the money would be granted to non-government schools. . . . Mr Whitlam declared in a speech to a large gathering of Catholic parents-
It is obvious that he was talking to Catholic parents - in Sydney at the weekend. Details of the speech became known in Labor circles in Canberra only yesterday.
Mr Whitlam’s direct promise of such massive State aid to non-government schools surprised many Labor MPs.
I bet it did. Then what happened? A few days later in the Sydney ‘Sun’ was an article headed ‘Victoria After Whitlam’s Scalp’ which referred to Mr W. Hartley, Chairman of the Labor Party’s Education Committee. The article stated:
Victorian ALP Secretary, Mr W. Hartley, bit the hand that tried to defend him when he attacked Opposition Leader Mr Whitlam over State aid this week….. He said the recommendations
He was referring to the Labor Party’s Education Committee- were confidential and had to be approved by the Federal Conference in Melbourne in July.
During the Committee’s deliberations, Mr Hartley is understood to have spoken against the move, but supported it in the final vote.
The Committee’s decision will improve Mr Whitlam’s chances in this year’s Federal election.
This, of course, is why the decision was made. The article continued:
It will allow Mr Whitlam to compete on more favourable terms with the Prime Minister, Mr Gorton.
Then Senator Kennelly got into the act and he attacked Mr Hartley. So the whole business goes on. Then in the ‘Canberra
Times’ of Thursday 20th March appeared an article headed: ‘Whitlam Avoids Conflict on State Aid’, which said:
The Labor Leader, Mr Whitlam, averted a conflict in the Labor caucus meeting yesterday by agreeing that the caucus executive should examine a recent speech of his on State aid lor education.
So the Labor Party goes on - divided. Which voice is it talking with now? Is it the voice of the Leader of the Opposition who promises massive aid of S50m, half for the independent schools, if Labor gets into office? Or is it the voice of other people who are not happy about that promise - people like the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) or Mr Hartley, the Victorian State Secretary, who speaks against such aid but then because it is election year votes for it? How much solace can the people of Australia take in a policy such as the Labor Party espouses?
In my maiden speech, which I delivered in this House on 2nd March 1967, 1 pointed out the position of independent schools and indicated how these schools would break down if they were not given some form of assistance. Later, on 18th September 1968, when the House was debating Appropriation Bill (No. 1), I referred to specific cases. I am sorry that because members of the Labor Party have denied me the opportunity to speak my full time tonight I am unable to go as deeply into this matter as I should like to do. However, I should like to read to the House a letter that I received from one of my constituents. I told this constituent that I would read it to the House because I think it is an important letter as it reveals the problems that confront independent church schools. The letter was from a Mr Frisby, who wrote:
Dear Mr Jarman,
On Sunday, 16th March, a meeting was attended by 83 representatives of the 99 families wilh pupils at the Sacred Heart School Diamond Creek.
The purpose of the meeting was to decide if the school could continue to function. The expenditure for our school (running costs only) amounts to $16,600 annually. Our income from school fees, bus subsidy and State grant brings in $8,700. This left a deficit of $7,900 to be raised by a very small community with very limited means. A number of families are unable to raise even the school fees, let alone support any further appeals for money.
After a meeting lasting 31 hours it was decided to remain open until December 1969. At that date a further meeting will be called, the financial situation at that time examined, and a decision to remain open or closed will be made for 1970. A motion to close one grade yearly was overwhelmingly defeated. The feeling of the meeting was that we either keep the whole school open or close the whole lot in 1970. If we should close, the cost to the State to educate the pupils from our school will be $44,000 annually.
Of course, this is not the only school - and it is not the only Catholic school - that has this problem. In the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 25th April is an article headed Church Loses College’. It commences:
The State Government has taken over the Tocal Presbyterian Agricultural College in the Hunter Valley, near Maitland. . . . This follows the collapse of the Presbyterian Church’s financial planning for the college.
This is the sort of thing that is going on. I have always had the greatest respect for our present Minister for Education and Science who is sitting at the table now. He has appreciated the problems of the independent and church schools, and I was pleased to see in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of 6th May an article headed ‘Fraser Asks For State Aid in Federal Budget’ which read:
The Federal Minister for Education and Science, Mr Fraser, said yesterday he was preparing a submission to Cabinet for more State aid for independent schools.
It went on the say that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) had expressed his personal support for a Federal contribution towards the day-to-day expenses of all secondary schools. I had a lot more to say tonight, but my freedom to say it was taken away by the Opposition by Various means, because only two or three members of the Opposition were in the House at one time. As I have said, I have great admiration for the Minister for Education and Science. He shows a great realisation of the problems of independent and church schools. This legislation will be of great assistance to independent and church schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 would not have spoken in this debate but for the comments of the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). The Bill before the House seeks to authorise the giving of guarantees on behalf of the Commonwealth in respect of certain loans made to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and for purposes related thereto. If we examine the speech made by the honourable member for Deakin we will find that he made very little direct reference to the Bill. He dealt only with the policy of the Australian Labor Party on education. We are discussing this Bill in the House of Representatives. We are the representatives of the nation; we are not the brains trust of the nation, but we represent all fields of religious and political thought in this country. We cover a very wide spectrum. The honourable member for Deakin seemed to dwell on the question of Catholic schools. These schools cater for some 25% of our school population.
If we were to examine the structure of the Government and to look at its supporters we would find that there are 12 members of the Cabinet and 25 members of the Ministry, and that of that 25 there is only one Roman Catholic. The honourable member for Deakin talked about sectionalism and even about sectarianism. All he could talk about during the whole of his speech was that Labor was opposed to giving aid to non-State schools on sectional grounds. The fact is that there are no more sectional parties than the Liberal Party and the Country Party. The Australian Labor Party is a representative Party. It is representative of the Catholic faith, as it is of other faiths; it represents a very wide spectrum. We do not try to roll out this question of hypocrisy or sectarianism because we understand - the question. We have dealt with the question of aid to nonState schools in our Party. We have thrashed it out and- tore, if I may use the term, the heart out of our Party in discussing the rights and wrongs of the question. But at least we discussed the matter, and in discussing the matter we made our decision.
Our policy now is that there should be no barrier to assisting any children, no matter what schools they attend. We believe in the education of all the people of Australia. The future of Australia, whether its citizens go to State or non-State schools, is the responsibility of the nation. We of the Australian Labor Party support the principle of providing aid to all children. Do not let us hear this question of sectarianism. I am sick to death of hearing the hypocrisy of the Government. How many supporters of the Government are members of the Catholic faith? They can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
– The honourable member is being sectarian now.
– I am telling you the truth. I am trying to give the percentage of Catholics in the Liberal Party and the Country Party in this House. If the honourable member wants to roll up this holy war) roll it up and let us push it away. Let us clear it away and look at the real question that confronts us. The youth of the nation are our future. No matter what school they go to it is our responsibility to make sure they get the maximum education. They belong to Australia and Australia’s future lies with them. Honourable members on this side of the House supper the principle that the maximum education should be given to alt children irrespective of their income or the school they attend. We believe that more scholarships should be given to children and that greater aid should be given in every respect.
We support the Bill; we are not opposing it. Any differences on this side of the Parliament have been thrashed out on an ideological basis- in our Party. We are a Party that is representative of the people of this country. We do not stand on hypocrisy as the Government Parties and their supporters do. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who introduced this Bill, is sitting at the table. Probably for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth not one member of the twelve members of Cabinet is a member of the Catholic faith. This seems to be lopsided to me. This is the House of Representatives. This is a selected clique that runs this country. We should be the representatives of the nation. I have mentioned these few home truths to show those people who live in glass houses that they should not throw stones.
– I too am moved to enter this debate, as was the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), principally because of the statements that have been made here tonight. It would be useful if we were to mention to the House the purpose of the Bill that is before us tonight. The purpose of it is to give certain guarantees in connection with moneys raised by independent schools in the Territories. It might be well that we bear in mind that this is the neat point of it. It would also be a good thing to bear in mind the fact that this is one more rung that the Government has placed in the ladder of aid to independent schools and to education generally to ensure what the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) is so concerned about, and that is that every child in Australia gets reasonable access to a fair education. The honourable member for Wills tried to indicate that this Government was not interested in doing that.
I am particularly interested in the comments that were made by the honourable member for Wills, and I will touch a little on what the honourable member for Reid said. Of course, the honourable member for Wills, as he always does, attempted to rubbish the Government. He attempts to rubbish the Government on everything it puts forward. There is no other term for it. In a debate of this type the comments that we are only seeking the Catholic vote or only seeking the preferences of the Australian Democratic Labor Party are political and not educational. The famous remark of the honourable member for Wills was that we are on the slippery path of compromise. I am sure that all the members of the independent schools would like to hear these terms that he uses.
More particularly, I am very interested in all the statements that the honourable member made in the debate today because no attempt has been made by him, or the speakers before him or since he sat down to answer the comments made by the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns). Let. us dwell upon the point that the honourable member attempted to make about cadging voles and so on. In recent times, we have had this spectacle which was very well elaborated by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) despite the interruptions by the Opposition, particularly by the honourable member for Reid, by way of calling quorums, in an attempt to try to stop freedom of speech and freedom of expression on the points that are necessary to be made on this question.
Let us go back to the point that the honourable member for Wills spoke of about cadging votes. According to my records - I believe that the honourable member for Lilley mentioned this today - the honourable member for Werriwa, who is better known as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), back in 1957 played a part in this question of State aid. This was after the very bad split in the Australian Labor Party. The ALP had changed its policy on State aid. A clause was put into its constitution that it would not have any part of State aid. The great leadership against State aid came from Dr Evatt. Who was one of his chief henchmen? Who was the one who encouraged everything that he possibly could do to ensure that the ALP maintained an attitude opposed to State aid? Who was it who did this? It was the honourable member for Werriwa, the present Leader of the Opposition.
What has been the position with the Opposition in the last couple of months or even the last couple of years? We have had this remarkable climax - an anti-climax, I am sure it will be - with the offer of $50m for State aid. Who is cadging votes on which side of the House? I put that very simple proposition to the honourable member for Wills, all honourable members on the other side of the House as well as to all honourable members of this House and to the Australian electorate. Who is cadging votes? The question answers itself without any trouble at all. I come to the second part of the proposition and the system of rubbishing that the honourable member for Wills pursues. The honourable member says that the Government is not interested in State education.
– I expect that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who is sitting at the table, will confirm the figures that I have assembled quickly here. In recent times, our direct contribution to State education has gone up by over 200% and, these days, it runs at over $200m. We must bear in mind that the honourable member for Wills told us - and it is generally accepted - that the State governments have the responsibility for Slate education. This is the general principle. But there is a big segment of the community today which is very reluctant to see any sort of development towards centralism in Australia. There is a great hue and cry about this matter. Then we hear this suggestion that we ought to take over education, social services and everything else. We hear this but at the same time we are told that there must not be any trend towards centralism.
The honourable member for Wills told us that we have no interest in State education. These are the two principles that 1 would like to put back to him. Let me say in passing firstly that the honourable member for Re d made great capital of the fact that in the Cabinet there is no member of the Catholic faith. I would think that this very fac: alone is an indication of the general attitude of the Government and shows its good faith in ensuring that every child receives an adequate education. As there are no members of the Catholic faith in Cabinet, would it not be fair enough for Cabinet to say with the strength of its numbers: ‘What have we to worry about?’ Instead of adopting that attitude, the Cabinet has taken the general attitude of endeavouring to ensure that each child in every school gets a fair opportunity to receive a reasonable education. 1 mention these things only in passing as did the honourable member for Reid.
We had the startling situation tonight in which the honourable member for Reid put his hand up and said that he was advocating and supporting State aid. But I remind the House again that he was one of the members who was with the honourable member for Werriwa, the present Leader of the Opposition, in his campaign against State aid. The honourable member for Reid was in the front ranks assisting Dr Evatt and, if I may say so, steamrolling the present right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), in the capacity that he held at that time, out of the way because of the support that he gave to independent schools. Those are just a few of the facts that need airing. When the honourable member for Reid and the honourable member for Wills rise and take issue on this matter, they should be prepared to find that not everybody has a bad memory and that there are some people on this side of the House and a lot of people in the electorate who remember their past endeavours.
I believe that the electors will look at this action by the Government as a sincere endeavour. Even though there are segments of the community opposed to our policy, at least I believe that they will acknowledge the fact that this has been a general development of the attitude and the policy of this Government in an endeavour to come to grips with the problem of education across the board and to try to cater for all aspects of the field of education. It is necessary to take this action. I wish to quote just a few figures which may be of interest to the House. These figures will be quite interesting to those persons who believe that the independent schools are maintaining themselves. Let us take that area of education. I refer to the main part of it, the Roman Catholic schools.
Let us look at the percentage figures regarding enrolments. This section of the community obviously is finding financial difficulty in endeavouring to cope with the problem facing it regarding the expenditure required. In 1962, government schools in Australia had 1,713,265 enrolments. The Roman Catholic section of schools had 441,206 enrolments. In 1968, the enrolments at government schools had risen to 2,057,468. This represents an increase of 16% in enrolments. The Roman Catholic figure for school enrolments in 1968 was 490,818, representing a rise of only 10%. These figures will give an indication of what I believe are not necessarily all the reasons for this drop in enrolments but no doubt what is a big factor. This is the lack of capacity of the Roman Catholic schools to measure the financial responsibility that is encumbent upon them against the vast expenditure demanded in a fast expanding and developing nation like Australia. There is something in what is said on behalf of that group.
The Government is pursuing a policy line of rapid development in Australia. As such, Australia has one of the most virile immigration policies in the world. This policy places great strains on a variety of sectors of the community in regard to development, production and in other fields. Not of less impact is the weight that this policy places on those in the field of education. These things are of government. I believe that a reasonable argument can be made out for expecting the Government to contribute to that sector on which these pressures are put. I believe that this fact gives us good reason to examine the part played in the educational field by independent schools and to assist them in this direction. We should do this because of the weight thrown on them as a result of the policies instituted by the Government and accepted by the community at large. This is one side of the picture.
The other question to be considered is that in recent years strong moves have been made in a number of States to widen and elaborate on the system of education. New schemes have been introduced. The one that comes readily to my mind as a New South Welshman is the Wyndham scheme. All education authorities have been very much to the fore in indicating that this scheme places great financial stresses on all the school systems. We acknowledge this fact. The State governments and the State departments dealing with education acknowledge this fact. Why should this fact not be acknowledged with respect to independent schools also? Why not acknowledge that great strains are placed on independent schools by these schemes? Again, it is a measure of government.
Whilst this requirement may not necessarily fall within the responsibility of the Federal Government, it is reasonable that the Federal Government ought to be able to contribute something in this direction in order to do what it can to alleviate the pressures which have been placed on these sectors of the community by these policies which, again I remind the House, have been endorsed by the people in elections, subsequent to the introduction of these schemes, particularly on the Federal level and to no less a degree on the State level.
I want to conclude my remarks by reminding the House and the electorate of the important fact that it is part of this Government’s policy gradually to develop a scheme of assistance for the independent sector of the school education system. Of course we all remember that we first commenced this policy in 1956, when we introduced a scheme to provide reimbursement of interest on loans raised by school authorities to meet capital expenditure on secondary schools in the Australian Capital Territory.
– Did not the Labor Party holler?
– It certainly did, as the honourable member for Barton reminds me. From 1956 onwards the Labor Party, in a succession of actions, has indicated in no uncertain manner its opposition to all measures which this Government has introduced in order to try to assist the independent school system. As I look through my list I see that we extended the assistance, to which I have just referred, to primary schools. We introduced a scheme to provide science blocks in secondary schools. We all remember the debates in this House in 1964 when that scheme was introduced Honourable members opposite were most vociferous about the scheme. They have been opposed to this kind of legislation, and the process has gone on during the years. But gradually there has been an awakening among some members within the Opposition’s ranks that there might be some merit in the proposal to provide education opportunities for every child in Australia. Last year we saw changes start to take place in the Labor Party’s platform and in the Opposition’s attitude in debates in this chamber.
I remember the debate which occurred in October last year when the Minister for Education and Science introduced two Bills. The first dealt with pre-school teachers colleges and the second dealt with secondary school libraries. The Opposition, thinking that the whole of the electorate is foolish and that we on this side of the House have been making a great error for the last 20 years, allowed the Bill dealing with preschool teachers colleges to go through but then, for a reason which honourable members opposite could not explain to the House, they decided to move an amendment to the second Bil] dealing with secondary school libraries. They called for the Bill to be withdrawn, which was nothing more than opposition to it, and for au inquiry to take place. No attempt was made to move an amendment to the first Bli’.. It was just one of those snide attempts to try to redirect assistance away from independent schools.
The change that we have seen starting to emerge in the Opposition in recent months is remarkable, How much reliance can the electorate place upon the proposals which the Opposition presents at the present time? I venture to suggest that the electorate can place very little reliance upon the proposals that have been put forward. No matter how much the Leader of the Opposition tries to put these proposals over, the fact is that even his own Party realises the attitude which he adopted a few years ago, and it strongly suspects his motives. It is very doubtful whether these proposals would ever be put into effect. If the Opposition were elected to office, I suggest to the House and to the electorate, their proposal would be a onceonly. If, by some fluke, the Opposition gained control of the Treasury benches, it would be a once-only, because the powers which have dominated the Opposition for almost two decades would then rear and take over, as they have done since 1956.
– The Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party has not approved of the proposals:
– The honourable member for. Barton again reminds me that the Federal Conference has not passed these proposals, and I have no doubt that the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) will deal with them in due course when he rises to speak on this matter. I support the legislation before the House. It is a part of the policy which this Government is continually improving. 1 believe that the Government should give consideration to the provision of additional aid for independent schools, which have a tremendous and significant overhead bill to carry every year. If we are to implement our general policy, which seeks to ensure that each and every student in the country has fair and reasonable access to a good education, it is necessary for us as a government to look at other features of assistance which we could provide to independent schools in order to help alleviate the tremendous burdens which they are carrying at the present time.
– It was not my intention to enter this debate, but having heard some of the remarks of the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) I feel that 1 ought to answer them on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. Firstly, I want to say that the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party supports the proposal to provide aid to independent schools, and it is part of the Australian Labor Party’s policy. The honourable member for St George was critical of the Labor Party because at one time State aid was not a part of our policy. But the policy has now been changed, and State aid is incorporated in our policy. We have not stated that we would not assist independent schools. I think that the Leader of my Party has made statements in the past to indicate that we will give aid to the independent schools which operate at the present time.
Personally, I should like to see more help given to the smaller independent schools which are presently operating in Australia, because they are not receiving any aid at all from this Government. If one were to make a survey of the schools in the electorate of a member who represents the working class in the Australian community, one would find that the smaller independent schools, which the children of the workers attend, are not receiving any aid at all from this Government. I know that in my own electorate there is not one small independent school which is receiving any aid from the Commonwealth Government. So honourable members opposite should not say what a great job they are doing for independent schools. The independent schools themselves are awakening to the fact that the Government has only been blanketing them by providing certain assistance, such as the provision of science blocks in secondary schools, rather than giving assistance to the schools which are in need. When the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) attends a big meeting in Sydney in June he will get up and refer to the money which the Commonwealth Government will provide to independent schools. We know that this question of State aid has become a political football, and that as a result the kiddies in the schools will suffer. Personally, I hold the same view as my Leader. Eventually the Commonwealth has to take over the whole of the education system in Australia. It has to take control in whatever fields we provide money. I do not care who runs the schools. I think that the curricula ought to be the same al) over Australia and that degrees which are obtained in one State ought to be recognised in the other States. This is the way in which I believe we will do justice to education in Australia. Every kid in the community ought to be given the education which his parents want him to have, irrespective of their income. At the present time, because of the limited number of scholarships and because of limited finance on the part of parents, kiddies in Australia are not receiving a proper education.
The honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) read out a letter which referred to what it is costing parents to run schools. We all know this. We all know that the small schools, which are receiving no aid whatsoever from the Government, are suffering most. No-one can tell me that schools such as the Kings School or the Sydney Grammar School, or St Joseph’s College or St Ignatius College or any of the big independent schools to which wealthy parents send their children, need aid from us. The type of people receiving aid from the Commonwealth are those who attend schools that can afford to build their libraries, swimming pools and gymnasiums, and not the children of working families. This is what I am opposed to under the present set-up of this Government. I believe that we ought to be going further into this field and giving assistance to the working families. The schools themselves are waking up to this. I know that people in my own area have to raise money to keep the schools going in the outer suburbs because they cannot afford to build their classrooms and employ their teachers. This is the type of aid which the Government is not giving and which it ought to be giving.
When this Government is prepared to stand up and say that it will go all out to help the little kids of the workers then I will get up and support it. I know that under the present set-up these kids are not getting what they ought to be receiving by way of education. It is necessary to have some sort of investigation into this to see what the needs are and if the needs are there the Government should supply the finance so that these kiddies can get a decent and respectable education. I mentioned those things because I think we have to sink this into honourable members on the Government side because many of us on this side of the House know that not one member of the Liberal Party or the
Country Party at any stage whatsoever had anything to do with the introduction of state aid to independent and church schools. This policy was brought in by a former Prime Minister of Australia and there was a good deal of resentment about it within his own Party. We also know that it cost the seat of a member of the Liberal Party in the New South Wales State Parliament because he had advocated this years before the Government implemented it. There is no doubt about this. The records are available if any honourable member cares to check up on it. All honourable members in this House know that this is true. 1 mention this because I feel that justice is not being done under this Government to the young people of this country. The Minister for Education and Science is at present sitting in the House and I inform him that if he brings down legislation that will help the little kiddies in my electorate then 1 will get up and support him for I know that it is the intention of the Australian Labor Party to help people who are in need, for by helping them we will be giving the kiddies of the working families a decent education and enabling them to keep up wilh the rest of the community in Australia.
– In discussing the legislation before the House several members have already discussed the history of aid to education in the Australian Capital Territory by this Federal Government, and it was interesting for those of us to share the same problems of exceptional high population growth in our electorates with their attendant problems of educational pressures, to hear the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser), who has the same problems, say from the Opposition benches that he applauded not only this present legislation but the provisions that had been made for education in his electorate by the Federal Liberal-Country Party Government and that credit should go to this Federal Government and to the New South Wales Government as well, not only for maintaining the government schools at a high level but for ensuring that the standards of the independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory were kept at a high standard as well. There are those of us who would wish to hear many more statements of that type from his colleagues on the Opposition benches, but there does seem to be a strong element of dispute within his Party as to the justification for maintaining a dual system of education within the Territory or in fact in any part of Australia.
In point of fact, it is a great pity that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory is the only official Labor voice in Canberra which I have heard come out in favour of the principle of providing aid to all Australian school children. I wish the honourable member success in converting those of his colleagues whose strong and staunch opposition to State aid has not allowed the official platform of his Party to be changed so that the principle of State aid to independent schools can be accepted by all political parties. The rest of the major parties already do so. For too long we have heard leading members of the Opposition declare their private position of supporting State aid while the official platform states that no capital charge can be made against any government. As recently as last year we saw in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 20th April that a Labor Party official condemned aid for privately owned, operated and controlled schools when it was reported that the trend towards government aid will reach disastrous proportions should any government begin to subsidise teaching services and private schools.
What does the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) or his erstwhile deputy have to say about that, particularly after their recent comments regarding their personal promises to finance teacher training for independent schools - a need which the Government recognises? Which attitude is to prevail in the Opposition benches? Is it that stated by the official speaking for the Victorian Executive of the Labor Party? Is it the attitude taken by twenty-six Labor senators who voted against a motion on State aid some months ago, or is it the opinion given by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory when he said in discussing the matters contained in this Bill now before the House that there should be no financial penalty for any parent who exercises his right to send his or her child to a privately operated school? When the brother of the member for the
Australian Capital Territory was a member of this House, he went further than that. He said:
The State is therefore entitled to pay a private school the amount which the State saves by not having to educate that child.
We have heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) say in this debate that every member of the Opposition has been pointing to the problems of education. Allowing him some political licence, we will accept this remark. But what can we make of this remark when the fingers of members of the Opposition are pointing in all possible directions as to where and what the problems are? As can be seen from the legislation which we are discussing we on this side of the House are concerned not only with recognising the problems but in channelling our efforts into finding solutions for the problems as we find them or as they are brought to our notice. To this end we have brought this Bill forward to help the private schools in the Australian Capital Territory. The important factor for this Government and particularly for my colleagues the honourable members for St George (Mr Bosman) and Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) lies in a basic concern for all Australian children. We are concerned that education, the administration of which remains fairly, squarely and decisively within the authority and responsibility of the State governments, shall be of the highest possible standard for all children throughout our country. T am sure there would not be one member of this Parliament who has not been approached by constituents who are understandably concerned with this very point.
There is, as we all know, a growing movement among the parents within the Catholic school system. Many of us have recently attended mass meetings to hear the merits of their case. At the same time we have been kept informed by the parents and citizens associations and members of the teaching profession of the need for more money to be spent on their schools. Their need is similarly serious and it must be agreed that extra money must be found for them, and found soon. In each case, the demand is for finance, and I repeat here as I have in other circumstances, my strong support to their joint claims. After all, a well educated community is surely the greatest national asset that we can acquire, and no effort should be spared in seeing that every Australian child is educated to the hightest possible standard irrespective of what school he or she attends.
There are many of us who visit the schools within our electorates and we should all be impressed by the high level of instruction, the dedication of the teaching staff and the keen sense of discipline that exists in all schools whether State or privately operated. As far as the Gorton Government and all its members are concerned, we owe it to future generations to see that these standards are not only maintained but strengthened. The legislation before us seeks authority for the Commonwealth to give guarantees in respect of certain loans made to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Insofar as it will help the independent schools to borrow more funds at what I trust will be more attractive rates of interest, it will be most welcome to the private schools. Insofar as it encourages these schools to approach the future more confidently, it reflects the firmly held conviction of not only myself but all members of this Gorton Government that private or independent or non-government schools, whatever the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) wants to call them, are an integral part of the Australian system of education, a part which is at the moment educating 25% of all Australian school children and what I hope, it will continue to do.
We have heard from many sources that the Leader of the Opposition has difficulty with powerful sections in his own parly regarding State aid of any kind. Tonight we have noticed this very clearly, from the slightly veiled to nonetheless clearly recognisable statements of this position from the honourable members for Wills, Capricornia (Dr Everingham), and Reid (Mr Uren). Do they see the non-government school system as an integral part of the educational facilities in Australia? Quite obviously their escape into arguments about words and phraseology without any clear statement is the answer. This Government has brought down a series of legislation regarding education, including the present legislation, which clearly shows that we do not believe that it is equitable to have one-quarter of the population paying for education and receiving only 2% of the cost extended to three-quarters of the population. Let the Opposition, in some form of unity, support that principle and we will be happy.
The comment in the debate by the honourable member for Wills that Government supporters do not visit their State schools and do not know the problems facing the State school system is sheer arrant nonsense. I can assure him that he does the vigorous and active parents and citizens associations in my electorate a complete disservice if he thinks that they do not keep in constant communication with me. Apparently activities in the electorate of Wills, or lack of same, colour its member’s whole outlook as to the activities of other honourable members in this House.
We on this side of the House are concerned with all educational matters. I believe that we have been responsible in the manner we have approached them. We are concerned that more money has to be found for State schools as well as for non-State schools. It is not true to say that to work up to a position of equity between support for government schools and support for independent schools is a sacrifice of one system for another. The answer lies in finding larger funds for all education and our record in recent years shows that we have certainly been moving in the right direction. Obviously, we must find more funds. But of equal importance, we believe, we must establish a position of equity so that independent schools, relying on their own efforts and supported by government, will be able to educate roughly a quarter of the population as they have done ia the past. This Government sees a need which is common for the whole of Australia. It has the right and the obligation within available resources to fill that need. This Bill lies within this need.
Mr Speaker, I support this Bill. It is, 1 believe, a harbinger of what we hope will follow for the rest of Australia in this coming year, and what we have acknowledged and acted upon in the past - namely an awareness of need, a concern for equity and a conviction that the Australian Go vernment must remain interested in seeing that every child in Australia, without distinction or exception, is educated to the highest possible standard.
– I do not want to say much but I am forced to come into the debate after hearing what was said by the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie). He pretended tonight that the Government has some slight regard for government schools. However, we know perfectly well that the Government’s attitude towards the parents who send their children to State schools is one of utter contempt. Most Government supporters are products of the private school system and have attended schools such as Geelong Grammar, Melbourne Grammar, St Peter’s College or some other place that is mainly responsible for producing snobs. They wind up at some snob college in Cambridge or Oxford and when they come back here they proceed to pour money into these snob producing private schools and care absolutely nothing at all for the 75% of parents who send their children to government schools.
– What rot.
-It is not rot. The honourable member knows perfectly well that he regards people who send their children to government schools as being politically expendable. He could not care two hoots about what happens to government schools or to State schools.
I think it is about time that this Government gave some regard to the dire needs of the State school system where children are being forced to be taught in rooms that are over-crowded; where teachers are forced to teach classes that are far too big; and where parents are called upon to pay quite substantial costs per year for equipment. This Government is doing absolutely nothing at all for the State school system. The State school system is languishing and is reaching the point of near collapse. But the Government intends to do nothing at all about it. This system educates at least 75% of the total school population. I think the exact figure would be nearer 80%. Yet, this Government is doing absolutely nothing for these people.
– You do not believe a word you have said.
– I do believe it and the Minister knows very well that this is true. The small amount of support that is given to government schools is, in my opinion, something that is an utter disgrace. I hope that parents who send their children to government schools will rise up and indicate their opposition to this Government at the next election. Let me tell this Government that if the parents of the children who go to State schools ever realise the extent to which they are being cheated of their rights and like to show their resentment of and exercise their opposition to what the Government is failing to do for them, this Government will be defeated at the next election. If I were a parent of a child who attended a State school and felt that he was not getting justice at the State school, that he was not receiving the proper kind of treatment or that he was not housed in the kind of school accommodation that he was entitled to, I would put this Government out of office at the next election.
I would tell the successors of this Government that if they failed to attend to the needs of the State school system they would do so at their own peril. This is the only way in which the parents who send their children to government schools will get enough money to see that their children are properly taught and given the education and conditions that they should be entitled to expect. I am pleased to notice that active parents and citizens organisations aimed at demanding more financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government for government schools are being formed in the various State capital cities. A big public meeting is being organised in Melbourne next month. Parents who send their children to government schools are proposing to organise at this meeting a campaign against this Government for its failure to care properly for the State school system. 1 would like the Minister to try to explain to me, without blaming the bishops for it, why it is on the figures that he supplied to me that the children attending the Marist Brothers College in Thebarton in my electorate did not receive any more than 10% of the amount made available for science blocks for those attending the Catholic schools catering for the more wealthy section of the community of South Australia.
I challenge the Minister to read out to the House the amount of money given to the Marist Brothers College at Thebarton where the poor working men’s children go and compare it with the amount of money handed out to Rostrevor where the rich Catholic people send their children. Why is there this discrimination between the poor Catholic working men and the schools which his children attend and the schools attended by the children of the rich Catholics? ls it not about time that the Government paid some heed to this terrible discrimination between the rich and the poor, whether they be rich and poor Catholics and whether they be children who can attend the ordinary private schools, such as Scotch College, St Peters College and Prince Alfred College. I. would not give those three colleges I have just mentioned a brass farthing. They already have more money than they can poke a stick at. St Peters College already owns the Da Costa building which, I understand, it obtained by some skullduggery as a result of the misreading of a will, which bequeathed the building to the ‘Bishop of Adelaide’. It was intended for the Catholic Bishop. But somehow or other they convinced an Anglican judge that he should give it to them on the ground that the Bishop of Adelaide was the Anglican Bishop. This is by the way. The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) smiles and he has every reason to smile because he was on the winning side. No doubt- his children in due course will have the benefit of that court judgment as to the meaning of the Da Costa will. But that is beside the point.
If the Government has money to give to private schools, it should give it to the schools of the poor. The Government should not grease the fat pig, as has been done in the past. Too much money has been going to the people who do not need it and too little has been going to the schools where the need is great and urgent. The need is urgent and great in the government schools throughout Australia. In the State from which I come I can take the Minister, if he is interested in government schools, to scores of State schools where the children are being taught iri conditions that are nothing short of a disgrace for even an 18th century system. But does the Minister care about the poor government schools?
Of course he does not. All he is concerned with is greasing the fat pig - giving more to Geelong Grammar, giving more to Melbourne Grammar, pouring money into the wealthy schools, the schools that cater for the very rich and those who already have more than their fair share of the world’s good things.
I must register my protest against the Government’s failure to give proper financial assistance to the State government schools which are so badly in need and which are attended by 75% or 80% of the school children in Australia. Moreover, I protest against the discriminatory way in which the Government has handed out the money that it has made available to the private school system. The private schools catering for the poor people, for the working man’s children, are being starved in order that the private schools catering for the very rich, the influential and the people of privilege may get more than their share.
– The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), who has just resumed his seat, has complained about the inadequacy of the representation at the Federal level of the people of the electorate of Hindmarsh. He has also indicated that he knows very little about the way in which the States receive funds from which they provide major amounts for education. He talks about recently active parents and citizens associations. The only recent thing about them must be his awareness of that activity because it has been going on for a long time. It is not directed at getting more Commonwealth funds for State schools, because there are none. The States provide funds for State schools out of grants and out of their other forms of revenue. The Commonwealth does not make amounts available to the States specifically for education. This is just one of the matters of which the honourable member for Hindmarsh seems to be unaware.
– It is very important.
– As the honourable member says, it is very important and it is the kind of fundamental arrangement that needs to be understood before any constructive suggestions can be made in debates such as this. We are debating a Bill for an Act to authorise the giving of guarantees on behalf of the Commonwealth in respect of certain loans made to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory of Australia and for purposes related thereto. We are in fact debating this Bill in what would be the role of a State parliament for these Territories, but we are in fact the Australian Parliament. lt is inevitable therefore that the debate should range over the wider field of Commonwealth involvement in the whole of Australian education. Although the Bill will help independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, it has been interpreted in this debate as just one more indication of the direction in which Commonwealth policies in education are evolving. Whether or not all Opposition members like it - and some of them do and some of them do not - atd to independent schools is here to stay. There was an important debate on this subject in another place about 25th March. There were two sides in the debate. One side advocated an inquiry into the whole field of education. The other side said that as a very considerable inquiry was already under way something else should be resolved. The main point in the second suggestion was that the Senate expressed the view that the situation should be established in which independent schools by their own efforts and with Government support will be able both to improve the quality of education they offer and to provide places for those children whose parents prefer to send them to an independent school. Twenty-six members in the other place voted against that proposal.
– Who were they?
– The twenty-six were people who should be well known, I believe, throughout Australia. They were Senators Bishop, Cant, Cavanagh, Cohen, Devitt, Dittmer, Drury, Fitzgerald, Georges, Hendrickson Keeffe, Lacey, McClelland, Milliner, Mulvihill, Murphy, Ormonde, Poke, Poyser, Toohey, Wheeldon, Wilkinson, Willesee, Wood, Wriedt and O’Byrne. AH twenty-six of them are members of the Australian Labor Party.
– Tell us how the Labor Party members voted.
– That is how they voted; the twenty-six of them were all against that resolution. They were united against this proposal to help independent schools. They had voted in fact against the kind of proposals that had been announced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). So there is obviously a very deep division in the Australian Labor Party on this question, a division which has not been resolved and which will not be resolved until it manages to convert at least twenty-six of its own members in another place. In 1966 I made a very careful study of the needs of independent schools in my electorate. I was helped by a number of people who were involved directly with the schools. 1 agreed at the time that there was a prima facie case for a per capita payment of $60 or the equivalent. Since then there have been some face value increases in costs. There have also been some additional forms of aid to independent and State schools, but at the moment I am talking about independent schools. So I believe that the current advocacy for a per capita payment of $50 is reasonable, and I support it.
The next move will be to ensure that the independent schools can survive. The payment to which I have referred would bring them very close to that level. I hope that members of the Opposition will manage to convert that very large section of their Party which opposes this kind of movement.
– lt is probably more accurate to refer to the Parties in opposition than to the Party. I believe that this subject should be taken out of the area of political dispute.
– I support that.
– I am glad of that support, no matter where it comes from. The next move would be to provide the best educational facilities we can afford at all levels throughout Australia. I believe that the Commonwealth should take more direct responsibility for ensuring that. Indirectly the Commonwealth already does so by its overall management and responsibility for the economic climate of this country - a responsibility which is shared by the people of Australia. But when a major national problem arises and people keep passing the buck, there comes a time when the buck stops and this is where it stops. Other than defence there can be no more important category of expenditure than the category which covers our educational requirements - not needs, but requirements. Unlike expenditure on defence, expenditure on education can be measured in terms of profitability. All of the available evidence - I have mentioned some of this in detail; the American evidence is not yet available in this country but it could be applied here - indicates that it is the most profitable way of spending public funds provided the expenditure is well managed. 1 believe that as a field of expenditure, education expenditure is of such a high order of importance that the Commonwealth should assume more direct fiscal responsibility. If I may draw a parallel with our overall fiscal responsibility, the Commonwealth has taken major tax resources and sufficient monetary controls to govern the economic climate of this country. On the other hand, the Commonwealth has not taken up all of the taxing powers or all the monetary powers and in my view it never should do so. Similarly, in education the Commonwealth could provide finance directly to the States, tied to education, so as to ensure a minimum of financial effort without assuming managerial powers. Through negotiation, some of these funds could go to independent schools. This would not stop State governments, or independent schools, or parents’ and citizens’ organisations, or individuals or companies from spending more, on the schools or universities which they support but it would ensure minimums and it would ensure that State governments could not rob education to fund other fields which could have more local appeal but less national priority. While this would admittedly reduce State flexibility, it would ensure more even distribution of public funds for education throughout the Australian population. The detailed management and the total funding of schools in Australia should remain in the hands of the States and the individual schools. The type of totalitarian centralisation and uniformity that is advocated by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), and I think by the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), would be as disastrous as are most of the other Socialist policies when tested in public. [Quorum formed.] I was pointing out that the detailed management and the total funding of schools throughout Australia should remain in the hands of the State governments, parent and citizen associations and the schools themselves and that there should not be the sort of totalitarian centralism and uniformity that has been advocated by various honourable members opposite, including the honourable member for Wills. There is no doubt that such a move would be just as disastrous as most of the other Socialist policies that have been put into practice. I support the Bill and congratulate the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on his magnificent contribution to the Commonwealth’s evolving role in education in Australia.
– It is unfortunate that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) based his case on a deliberate misinterpretation of what happened in the other place. The honourable member is aware, as is the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who recently misrepresented the position in this House, that the motion to which he referred was moved as an amendment in the other place by the Government as a subterfuge to prevent the other place carrying a motion for the setting up of a Senate select committee to inquire into education. Had the supporters of the Opposition in the other place voted for the Government’s amendment the Opposition’s motion would have been automatically struck out. In effect, the supporters of the Opposition in the other place would have been voting against their own motion.
– -ne amendment would have become the motion.
– The amendment would have become the motion, yes. Then they could have voted for it. The Government virtually refused to hold an inquiry and, to cover its position, it arranged, as a subterfuge, for the amendment to be moved. This was the sort of political gimmick to which honourable members have become used in relation to the Government’s attitude on education generally. All sections of education, not only the independent schools and the State schools as well, are in dire need. The Government, feeling it politically sound to do so, is taking action on the problems of independent schools in what I might suggest is a rather hotch-potch way. By this means it is trying to buy votes - nothing more or less. It is not willing to hold an inquiry on education, as has been requested on many occasions.
Some good speeches on the requirements of education have been made by Government supporters, some of whom say they understand the problem. However, there is no legislation, or any suggestion of legislation, before this Parliament; and that is what counts. It is not what is said outside the Parliament or what honourable members profess to support. It is what is actually brought before Parliament on behalf of education that matters. It is all very well to bring airy-fairy resolutions before another place and to say: ‘This is what we stand for’, lt is not what one stands for; it is what one does that counts. The Government can do what it wishes, but it is not doing anything. It is merely talking about doing something. If it were genuine it would do something positive. Not much more than a week ago there was the fantastic situation of the Attorney-General putting forward in his electorate what I assume he claimed to be Government policy on education. We have not yet been told whether or not it was Government policy, but when a Minister of the Crown says these things, even a junior Minister, they must be treated seriously.
– He is said to be a future Prime Minister.
– That will be for the future to decide. Apart from legislation in respect of science blocks and subsidies for school libraries, the Government has not done anything for independent or State schools. It is not prepared to deal with this problem seriously. In the time still available to me I shall put before the House what I consider to be some of the problems associated with education and some of the ways in which the Government can tackle them seriously. I believe firmly that education does not mean the provision of Government schools or independent schools. It means the education of individuals to a standard that they can absorb and from which they can benefit. I believe that every child, irrespective of his parents’ economic circumstances, is entitled to that sort of education. I believe that education policies in this Parliament by this Government or any other government should be directed to such an end.
In Australia there is a great need to provide the facilities for education. Few Australian schools have them. This Bill deals almost solely with independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory. Few schools in Australia are equipped in the manner that education authorities regard as ideal for modern educational practice. Too many of our schools were built 50, 60 or 70 years ago when different ideas and concepts on education were held. These buildings are totally unsuited to modern needs. One might as well try to teach one’s children in a barn as attempt to educate them in some of the schools in the inner suburbs of our capital cities. The same may bc said of some country schools which are upwards of 100 years old. It is in these areas where the Government should actively pursue a policy of improving education facilities.
For instance, the Government could offer to pay the interest on moneys expended by the States - and on the expenditure of the other educational systems too, if that is considered desirable - to restore schools to the levels necessary to act as proper educational institutions in performing the role required of them nowadays.
The second problem concerns new schools. I can speak in this respect with first hand knowledge only of Victoria. The Victorian Government, in the main, puts up buildings which cannot properly be called schools. It is left quite often to the parents to provide the equipment required to change a building into a school. Secondary schools particularly require more equipment and facilities. Often children of the first intake at a new school spend the whole of their secondary school life without having the proper facilities available to them for their education. It would be a fitting act for the Commonwealth Government in the interests of education to offer interest free loans for a period of years, or grants, to buy the basic equipment necessary for a school when it is constructed. The number of new schools constructed is not so large as to preclude such assistance. It would not cost a great deal but it would considerably assist students who attend new schools and run into the problems associated in the shake-down period. This applies particularly, as I have said, to secondary schools which are not properly equipped. The parents of children attending those schools in most cases are unable to finance the minimum facilities required. I have mentioned only two matters. There are many others.
– That is enough.
– lt may be enough for the honourable member but it is not enough for me. I am very serious when I say that the future of this nation depends on how seriously we treat the education of the children of today and ‘ tomorrow. If any honourable member opposite wishes to treat the matter lightheartedly, that is his business and not mine. I believe that this is an important matter. I hope that the Government and the Minister will take it seriously and instead of issuing electioneering propaganda for independent schools and accusing the Opposition of this, that and the other thing, will bring forward propositions which are real and not just words.
– I do not know what the honourable member is talking about.
– I can understand that. Throughout this debate there has been a lot of political kite flying. I hope that as members of this Parliament we can act far more seriously. Although the Minister probably will not admit it, he knows what the situation was when the Government was asked in the Senate to set up an independent inquiry into education in Australia. The public may not be aware of those circumstances and Government supporters may be able to exploit that, but it does not alter the fact. At almost every level of education in Australia there is a serious shortage of funds. A serious problem has arisen in Victoria because of arguments between the’ Victorian Government and teachers organisations over the professional qualifications of teachers. It is quite possible that the president of at least one college in the Institute of Colleges will have to cut back on expansion at a time when these colleges are in their infancy.
The State governments claim that they do not have the finance available to them to meet their educational requirements.
The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) can tell us whether that is true. They also claim that the Commonwealth Government has cut back its allocations. I know that the Minister denies this, although the former Prime Minister suggested that it was true in the case of the University of Melbourne. The facts are that it is not a matter which can be viewed on the basis of State rights and Commonwealth rights; it is a matter which has to be looked at on a national basis.
I hope that this debate is not going to be the end of action in respect of education. Tonight we have heard what has been a lot of preparation for the 1969 Federal elections on a Bill which is going to do something for the Australian Capital Territory education system and nothing for the rest of Australia. I sincerely hope that the Government will start doing something about the education problem now and will not continue, as it has done in the past, to talk about education but not act.
– in reply - There has been a great deal of debate on this particular measure and one might wonder why, since the Opposition has said that it in fact supports the measure. Firstly, the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser) led for the Opposition. Although he said somewhat modestly that he was not meant to lead for the Opposition, with respect, he did a good deal better than the honourable member who was, in fact, meant to lead, namely, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory did not play politics with these important issues. But after he spoke, other members of the Opposition used what I think the House might have come to know as Whitlam truths in relation to the matters they put forward. In other words members of the Opposition are learning and they are using the same kind of tactics as their leader. Every member of the House would know what is meant by Whitlam truths, including all those who are alleged to support him.
– What is a Whitlam truth?
– I think the honourable member would know very well the kind of tactics that the Leader of the Opposition uses in relation to these matters and which, in fact, have been used by a number of members during this debate. They do no credit to themselves in adopting those particular tactics. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) perhaps showed this as clearly as anyone else when he tried to imply that the Government is doing nothing for government schools and has no concern for the 75% of those people who send their children to government schools. The fact is that the Government has instituted programmes which, when carried out in their entirety, will mean that we provide up to 20% of the cost of any new school that is built anywhere in Australia. Under the programmes we have instituted, the cost of science facilities and the library facilities for a normal school of about 1,000 pupils would equal about 20% of the total capital cost of that school. This cannot be said to be doing nothing for government schools. The Government is doing a great deal for them, as it is for the independent schools.
I should like to clarify a matter which the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) tried to confuse. He suggested that a matter that had been debated in another place was some kind of trick by the Government to prevent an Opposition motion concerning the establishment of a Senate select committee. But an amendment was moved to the Opposition motion. It clearly pointed out that in view of action that was being taken by all the State governments to have inquiries into the problems of education in their States, and in view of the close and evolving co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States, and measures to provide assistance which the Commonwealth is now providing, such an inquiry as was proposed by the Opposition in the Senate was not necessary. In addition to that there were the words, read by the honourable member for EdenMonaro (Mr Munro), expressing support for independent schools.
There were, in fact, three votes in the Senate on this particular matter. The first vote could be termed a vote against the Opposition motion, but once the motion for the inquiry had been lost there were then two further votes which brought the amendment to the stage of being the motion which was carried, but which the Opposition in its entirety opposed. If the Opposition were seriously in favour of support for independent schools - if the Senate members of the Opposition were seriously in favour of support for independent schools - then its own motion having been lost, one would have thought that they would have said: Well, that having been lost - even though we think it should not have been - we are prepared to support an expression of opinion in favour of support for independent schools’. In fact they did not do this and they made no attempt to do it. I have not heard any member of the Senate saying that his vote against this motion, this expression of support for independent schools, was not a real expression of opinion in opposition to independent schools. 1 have heard no member of the Senate, from the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Opposition down, trying to suggest that despite this vote he still in fact supported aid to independent schools. If they did not regard their vote as a substantive one I would have thought at least that they would have tried to suggest that.
I should like now to refer to one or two matters raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He also used in his speech what I have called ‘Whitlam truths’. He tried to suggest that support for universities on a massive scale had been provided by this Government in co-operation with the States only because of some report from an education committee within the Labor Party caucus. The fact is, of course, that the Menzies Government originally introduced the Commonwealth scholarships scheme which has grown dramatically in recent years. It was also the Menzies Government which originally introduced substantial Commonwealth support for university development. That was in the middle 1950s. It was not as though at that time the Opposition did not have an opportunity to do something; on an earlier occasion when the Opposition had an opportunity it did nothing, or very little. It was the direct interest of the former Prime Minister that led to the Commonwealth activities in these areas.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that this Bill has provided the first opportunity to debate measures that the
Government has introduced over a period of time for support of independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory. That also is not true. Funds to cover our programmes for the Australian Capital Territory have been in the estimates of my Department each year for many years, and before the independent department was established they would have been carried on the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department. Therefore, every year on the Estimates debate there would have been an opportunity to debate these matters. I am not aware that the opportunity was ever taken by members of the Labor Party Opposition to debate these matters. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that a number of our programmes had been introduced for purely political purposes and he mentioned the science laboratories programme. He said: ‘In spite of that, of course, we still support it.’ There seems to me to be some lack of logic in these two views. The fact is, of course, that this project was introduced as part of a deliberate and concerted attempt to improve the quality of scientific training in secondary schools, hoping to encourage more people to take science based courses which would make better use of the augmented facilities being made available in Australia’s new and growing universities. He suggested that this was an unbalanced programme because nothing was being done to provide teachers to work and teach in the new laboratories. I recognise that there is a difficulty in this area, but 41% of the teacher trainees throughout Australia are being trained in universities. This is where the future science teachers will be taught. The augmented facilities in universities clearly make greater possibilities available for people to come forward as future science teachers.
The honourable member said also that the libraries programme now being introduced is unbalanced because we are doing nothing to train librarians. When this measure was introduced I said that the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education would encourage colleges of education to extend or introduce courses in librarianship, and I indicated also that we would be running several short courses for librarians, if possible in all States, for both independent and government schools. Such courses have been taking place over recent months and more are planned for the future. This shows quite clearly that we are looking to the need for trained librarians, in addition to the need to provide the capital facilities for a modern and adequate library in all secondary schools.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition again made the tired and old claim that the only way we can do something about education in Australia is to have a nationally sponsored Commonwealth inquiry into the problems of education in the primary and secondary fields. He again put this view forward because neither he nor any member of his side has had in his own mind any constructive ideas as to what should be done to improve the quality of education. They are barren of ideas in this field. They are not only barren of ideas but they continue to neglect the position of the States in relation to primary and secondary education. While we have an interest and concern in these areas, the States have made it quite clear that if they want an inquiry in this area they will conduct it themselves. The recent announcement by State Ministers at the Australian Education Council has made it quite clear, and it is indeed known, that an Australiawide inquiry is being undertaken independently in the various States but with common terms of reference. The Commonwealth will be co-operating in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory so that the result will be complete for the whole of Australia.
While the Opposition has continued to advocate an inquiry into this and an inquiry into that, we have acted positively to improve the quality of education and to broaden educational opportunities. While it has been advocating an inquiry, we have introduced support for colleges of advanced education. We have introduced the science laboratories scheme, on which $87m has already been spent or is committed, the secondary school libraries- scheme, to which S27m has already been committed, and the technical training project in the States, to which $70m has already been committed. There are programmes in other areas, such as the curricular development programme for junior secondary science to revise and upgrade the curriculum for the first 4 years of secondary science. At first three States showed interest in the programme and sought Commonwealth assistance. 1 am glad to say that it has now proved to be so attractive that at least one additional State wants to participate in the scheme, and indeed other States may also bc involved in it in the future.
There is one area in which 1 believe the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was malicious in his speech. He tried to indicate that the Commonwealth is establishing a superior system in the Australian Capital Territory and that we have shown more concern for this area to the complete neglect of education in the States. Of course, we have particular responsibilities in the Australian Capital Territory. We have not only the general Commonwealth role but also the role that the States have in their cwn areas. I have already said that the Commonwealth has shown a concern for the quality of education through its science laboratories and libraries programmes not only in the Australian Capital Territory but in all secondary schools throughout Australia. He said that we provided better capital facilities and that the student-teacher ratio was better in the Australian Capital Territory than in New South Wales and all the other States. In making a comment about that, 1 would say only that New South Wales, which is responsible for staffing the schools in the Australian Capital Territory, staffs them on the same basis as it staffs its own schools in New South Wales. Indeed, I believe that the Government of New South Wales would find itself in a very difficult position if it were shown, though it could not be shown, that it was staffing the schools in the Territory on a more favourable basis than the schools in its own State. The fact is that there is no discrimination in this area. The matters are dealt with equally.
The capital facilities, having regard to the need for more heating facilities in the Australian Capital Territory than in many areas in New South Wales and having in mind also the increased building costs in the Australian Capital Territory, are on the same scale. They are comparable. I have moved around the schools in this Territory and I have asked the teachers, all of whom belong to the New South Wales system, how the schools in the Australian Capital Territory compare with the new schools being constructed in New South Wales. I have always been given the answer that they are constructed to a comparable standard. That is not my judgment; it is the judgment of the teachers 1 have asked in this area. Of course, in the States there is the problem of old schools, which we do not have in Canberra. Only one high school was built here, for example, before the last World War. So most of the construction, because of Canberra’s recent growth, is new, and this gives an overall better position than might be seen in some of the States. Even though we might like to knock down all the old buildings and put up new ones, we all know that this is not a practical proposition and that old facilities have to be used and continue to be used. But this is the only area in which it could be said that the level of facilities in the Australian Capital Territory might be superior to the general level of facilities in the States.
Honourable members might, be interested to know that in spite of the explosive growth in the demand for education in recent years the student-teacher ratio in fact has improved slowly but steadily. Australiawide, in government primary schools it has improved from 30.2 in 1962 to 28.2 in 1967, and in government secondary schools from 20.9 to 18.7. f know that these ratios hide a number of imperfections, but they do provide a comparison between one year and another and show that despite the explosive growth in the demand for education a significantly large number of teachers is being provided. )n fact, the ratios in government schools are significantly better than the overall ratios in independent schools. This is something that needs to be remembered. Over the same period the average ratio in independent schools has moved from 33 to 30.5. That covers both primary and secondary schools. If we averaged the two ratios for government schools we would find that their position was significantly better. This is but one indicator of the problems that independent schools are up against.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made one direct challenge. He asked: ‘What does the Government propose to do to lift the standard of education in the States?’ This was part of what I have termed a malicious argument suggesting that we are favouring the Australian Capital Territory and the people in this Territory and trying to establish here superior standards which we would not want to see established throughout Australia. That, of course, is another departure from the truth. What we have done to lift the standard throughout Australia is to introduce the science laboratories project, the libraries scheme which is now being introduced, the junior secondary science project and the provision of capital funds for technical education and teacher training, to say nothing of the very large sums given to colleges of advanced education and universities. This means that we are doing a very great deal to improve the quality of education. I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is well aware of that and was aware of it when he was making his speech. I apologise to the House for the fact that most of my remarks have been a little wide of the specific, narrow purpose of this Bill. But I am afraid that that was only in response to the liberties that honourable members took throughout the debate today.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– In the last week we sat, in an adjournment debate I raised the problem of the drought in Queensland and then, from memory, five or six other speakers also dealt with it. Since that debate action has been taken by the Federal Government to give additional finance to the Queensland Government to allow it to introduce measures that will minimise and alleviate the very serious condition in which a very large proportion of the State of Queensland is at the present time. But tonight I wish to deal with one issue which is worrying not only the drought stricken primary producers in the livestock areas but no doubt the Queensland Government, too. That is the refusal of the Government to grant concessions with respect to surplus wheat. lt would seem that the consistent refusal of the Government to grant a lower price for surplus wheat is of such a degree that it may be said that the Government is practising a policy even of cruel discrimination against drought stricken primary producers in Queensland. The consistent refusal of the Government to sell wheat to owners of starving stock at less than the high domestic price, which has been fixed at approximately $1.70 per bushel, is in stark contrast to the treatment given to Victoria when, only two seasons ago, the Commonwealth allowed drought stricken farmers in that State to buy food for stock at less than the home consumption price.
– We had nothing to do with that.
– Under existing legislation, wheat has to be sold at the point of delivery at the f.a.q. port price which today stands at $1.73* per bushel, less freight from that point of delivery to the port. Small lots - I think these arc 6 tons - are dearer and, of course, if the wheat is offwheat the price would be slightly less. What I am concerned about is the discriminatory treatment that is shown in a comparison between what happened in Victoria and what is happening in Queensland.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), who is sitting at the table, has interjected that this had nothing to do with the Commonwealth. As far as I am concerned, it had plenty to do with the Commonwealth. This favourable treatment that was given to Victorian farmers was the result of what could be termed a secret deal between the then Prime Minister and the Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, to provide to that State Sim in special grants so that the Victorian Premier could subsidise wheat to the extent of 40c per bushel. This meant that primary producers in Victoria were able to buy wheat at a concession amounting to approximately 40c per bushel less than the recognised home consumption price under the wheat stabilisation scheme. This was an arrangement which, to say the least, was questionable.
If this could be done in Victoria why cannot the Commonwealth make a grant of an equal amount of money at least to the Queensland Premier to allow the Queensland Premier to enter into the same arrangement to provide wheat at a concessional or lower price to owners of starving stock in Queensland? I remind the Government that Victoria has had only one major drought in the last 23 years. The average in Queensland for major droughts is 2 years in 6 years. For that reason alone, particularly at a time when we have very large quantities of unsaleable wheat - unsaleable in relation to the fixed price wl-nm the terms of the wheat stabilisation scheme - one would think that because of the drought in Queensland more favourable concessions could be given either by a grant to the Queensland Premier to allow him to do what the Victorian Premier was able to do or by some other arrangement which would enable the Queensland Premier to sell to the owners of starving breeding stock in Queensland ‘ wheat which would provide them with the opportunity at least to get sufficient carbohydrates and protein to keep that breeding stock alive.
Some people might say it was unfair if one section of the community could buy wheat at a lower price than the home consumption price fixed under the wheat stabilisation scheme. On the other hand, the poultry farmer might say: ‘Why should I not be able to buy wheat at. say, $1 a bushel instead of $1.70 a bushel?’ I think those people would be few and far between when one compares the drought conditions of Queensland today with those that applied in Victoria two seasons ago. What I find most disconcerting - and no doubt the Minister for Primary Industry will answer this - is that the Country Party has allowed this state of affairs to continue in Queensland although it must have been a party to securing lower wheat prices for the owners of starving sheep in Victoria two seasons ago. Now, even the Queensland Premier has openly criticised the Federal Government for not making arrangements for surplus wheat to be sold to owners of starving stock at concessional rates. 1 ask again why this Government will not reduce the home consumption price of wheat, of approximately $1.70 a bushel, to allow some of the- surpluses to be diverted to the owners of starving stock, as was done in Victoria. If it was good enough for the Prime Minister to enter into special deals with the Victorian Premier to allow cheaper wheat for starving stock in Victoria, surely it is good enough for him to enter into exactly the same deal with the Queensland Premier to allow drought-stricken Queensland farmers access to cheap wheat. This is a serious question.
One thing that disturbs me - and I made this very clear in the debate on the Wheat Stabilisation Bill - is the two-price system, this artificial, relatively high price of $1.70 a bushel for home consumption wheat, compared with the guaranteed price for export wheat. If we had a one-price scheme, as advocated at the present time, we may not have had some of the present problems, particularly as producers in some of these areas might have been able to buy wheat al a lower price. It is high time this Government had a good look at what is happening in Queensland. There has been some rain in the last 24 hours, but it is negligible in the areas where livestock are suffering. At a time of unsaleable wheat surpluses, it should be possible for the Government to have some of these surpluses utilised for starving stock, particularly breeding sheep and cattle in Queensland.
– I would like the opportunity to answer some of the questions that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has posed to the House tonight. 1 find it difficult to draw a line between his genuine concern for the drought-stricken people in Queensland and his desire to make some political capital out of the circumstances at this time, with the Queensland elections to be held on Saturday. 1 am prepared to say that I find it difficult, but I do know his concern on this question. He states that the Commonwealth should reduce the domestic price of feed wheat and allow it to be sold at a concessional price. He clearly oversimplifies the question. He merely says that we should make a grant in order to provide cheaper wheat.
We have a stabilisation scheme, which has been based on previous stabilisation schemes. Under it we determine a domestic price for wheat, and we determine a guaranteed price for a certain quantity of wheat sold overseas. This wheat, whether it is sold on the domestic market or the overseas market, is the property of the wheat growers of Australia. The stabilisation scheme is so designed as to try to give wheat growers some stability and security of income. For about 12 or 14 years up until about 1960, the wheat growers of this country sold wheat on the domestic market - whether for flour purposes or for feed purposes - at a concessional price compared with the price for wheat sold on the world market. Today the situation has changed with increasing costs and lower world prices. Domestic prices are somewhat higher today. But to bring down a decision that we will give a concession in price for feed wheat sold to people who are in drought stricken circumstances in Australia would mean that the wheat grower of this country would be asked to make a concession, unless some government agreed to make up the difference in price.
The Commonwealth Government has always accepted that the responsibility for the administration of drought relief lies in the hands of the State governments. The first effects of drought are the responsibility of a State. When the dimensions of the drought extend beyond the capacity of the State to meet the situation, then the State makes a request for aid to the Commonwealth. In the first set of circumstances aid is provided on a SI for $1 basis. When the State can no longer maintain its contribution, the Commonwealth is asked to make a complete grant, and this has been done in recent years. Over the past 3 years the Commonwealth has given drought aid by various means to the extent of approximately $100m. I hope that nobody would say we are unsympathetic when a request is made for drought assistance, or that we have been niggardly in our attitude in trying to deal with the unfortunate circumstances which face people in drought stricken areas.
Queensland is having a recurrence of another very severe drought. In the previous 2 or 3 years we have provided approximately $15.5m by way of drought relief. Now Queensland is faced with another drought. On 1st May of this year the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) stated in this House that the Commonwealth would be prepared to match State expenditure on a SI for $1 basis up to $4m, and that if the amount provided for drought relief exceeded $4m between now and the end of the financial year the Commonwealth would meet the balance of the money expended and that we would provide this money for various drought relief purposes. This statement received very warm acclaim in Queensland. The Leader of the Opposition in Queensland. Mr Houston, was very pleased indeed about the Commonwealth’s offer to provide drought assistance, as were the Leader of the Liberal Party and Mr Bell of the Graziers Association, as reported in the ‘Courier Mail’.
– The Leader of the Country Party was not very happy.
- Mr Bjelke-Petersen did express some concern, but I think that he is a pretty tough negotiator and he was after the best deal which he could get for Queensland, and I do not think there is anything wrong about that. The issue raised tonight by the honourable member for Dawson does not relate to the subsidised wheat which was used - I think it was at the beginning of last year - for drought relief purposes in Victoria. In that case the Victorian Government subsidised the price so that people could buy cheaper feed wheat. The honourable member for Dawson insinuated that the Commonwealth made a secret deal with Victoria so that Commonwealth money could be used for this purpose. The Commonwealth never accepted the proposition that its money was to be used directly to subsidise cheap wheat. What happened in Victoria was that the Commonwealth made a special revenue grant available to assist the Victorian Government in its budget because of the lower income received by the State. A special grant of $lm was provided. The Victorian Government, on its own decision, of its own volition and under its own authority, decided that it would use that Sim to subsidise feed wheat.
As for the situation in Queensland, if the Queensland Government wants to use its own resources to subsidise feed wheat or if it feels that this is the necessary approach in respect of feed wheat, it can use its own money or it can make a request for a special revenue grant from the Commonwealth and hope that, if it receives the grant, some of the money might be used for this purpose. The Queensland Government already has announced that it is prepared to subsidise the whole of the rail freight on feed wheat in Queensland, using Commonwealth money for that purpose. I am prepared to be corrected on this point, but I think statements have been made that the
Queensland Government is going to subsidise feed wheat. I am not quite sure of this matter and I would like time to examine it, not having been aware of the details of the subject that was to be raised tonight.
It may sound a simple answer to a drought problem to decide to subsidise feed wheat but this also presents complications, as was discovered in Victoria. If you subsidise one type of fodder this then has an effect on other types of fodder. Should you then subsidise sorghum, barley, oats, lucerne and other commodities which are competing with feed wheat? I am not saying that this is a reason for not subsidising feed wheat but it is one of the complicated factors involved and maybe this is one of the questions that the Queensland Government has been looking into. Perhaps it has realised the difficulties and has not pressed this issue as early as it might have done. I do not know. However I do know that if the drought continues in Queensland every effort will have to be made by this Government and by the Queensland Government to try to relieve the effect of it in the areas most severely affected.
The Commonwealth Government has stated that the Australian Wheat Board is prepared to make wheat available to growers on credit terms. Those terms are 12 months at 41% interest and that the collection of this money and guarantee for repayment of it be in the hands of the State authorities, generally the State agricultural banks. The State authorities usually back this up with relief money that the Commonwealth gives to them. I hope that nobody will say that the Commonwealth has been unreasonable. I resent the accusation that a secret deal was made with Victoria so that the Victorian Government could subsidise feed wheat for that State.
– Tonight I wish to raise a matter which affects coal miners in Queensland. I want to discuss the coal miners pension and its relation to social service pensions. Coal miners pensions in Queensland are funded by a contribution from the individual miners, contributions from the mine owners and a subscription from the State Government. One of the problems facing the mining industry in recent years is that although efficiency is increasing tremendously employment has had a rather sharp decline. For instance, in 1958 the West Moreton fields, which mainly fall in my electorate, have increased their production tonnage by 37% and output per man shift by over 123%. In spite of this increase in efficiency in the industry, since 1958, the decline of employment in the area has been in excess of 1,000 coal miners, or more than 50% of the work force in the industry. The result of this decline in employment is that the pension fund of the coal miners is having actuarial problems.
The union has suggested that one way to overcome these actuarial problems is to impose an excise on the tonnage of coal produced and this excise would easily finance the coal miners pension fund. It is suggested that it would remove some of the excessively heavy burden which is imposed on individual coa) miners and also the burden which has to be borne by the small underground mine operators, especially in the West Moreton fields. At present the vast scale producers of coal by open cut methods, using a relatively light work force, are evading much of what should be a large responsibility towards funding this scheme. Instead of accepting some sort of reasonable proposition such as that suggested by the union, which at least has the justification that it has some equity about it, the State Government has adopted another scheme. According to information supplied to me by the State Secretary of the miners union, Mr Cyril Vickers, the State Government is reducing miners pensions by an amount equal to the increases in the social service pensions. This scheme came about as a result of an amendment to the appropriate Act in Queensland, the Miners Pensions Rate Act 1968. I want to give some examples.
– ls this the Liberal-Country Party Government?
– Yes, the Liberal-Country Party Government in Queensland has done this. When it did this it publicly stated that miners would be better off. I will indicate how much better off they are. Prior to the social service pension increases in October 1968 the wife of a miner - that is where the wife was over the age of 60 years and a husband under the age of 65 years - was qualified by age for a Commonwealth pension of $13 a week. This is an actual case.
Her husband received $13.50 a week as a miner’s pension. In October the Commonwealth increased the miner’s wife’s social service pension to S14 a week and the State Government - the Liberal-Country Party Government - reduced the miner’s pension to $12.50 a week. The result of this is that before the increase in social service pensions this married couple was receiving §26.50 a week. After the increase in social service pensions and because of the reduction effected by the State Government they still received $26.50 a week.
Here is another example. Prior to the social service pension increases in October 1968 an incapacitated miner received $13 a week by way of Commonwealth social service pension, and his wife received a social service allowance of $6 per week. The husband, in addition to the social service pension, received a miner’s pension of $7.50. In October, because of the increase in social service pensions, the Commonwealth increased the miner’s invalid pension to $14 a week and the allowance for his wife to $7 a week. Then the State Liberal-Country Party Government reduced the miner’s pension to $5.50 per week. Again, before the increase in social service payments this couple was receiving $26.50 a week, and after the increase in social service pensions had been passed on to them, but because the Liberal-Country Party State Government reduced the miner’s pension rate, they still received only $26.50 a week.
Quite clearly, because of the maximum rate being provided for one recipient in each case and because of the maximum income which they would be entitled to receive, these people affected by this sort of practice could have received the maximum rate of social service pensions at the new rate ‘without the necessity for any reduction in their miner’s pension. Of course, what the State Government is aiming to do, as each increase is provided by the Department of Social Services, is to effect further reductions in the miner’s pension so that eventually the miner’s pension will not be paid to retired miners once they go on to the social service pension at the maximum rate. A third matter is causing the miners unions a great deal of concern. It is causing concern to more than just the Queensland Colliery Employees Union; it is causing concern to the Combined Mining
Unions Council of Queensland. Because of the State Government’s amendment of April 1968, a married miner pensioner who, if neither he nor his wife was qualified by age for social service pensions, would have bad his miners’ pension increased by $1.50 per week in accordance with the social service increase, finds that his miner’s pension is pegged and he receives no increase at all. This is a most unhappy situation. The whole burden of the problems with which the Miners Pension Fund is confronted is being placed on the shoulders of the persons least able to bear it - that is, retired mine workers. This is gross social and economic injustice in our community. These people have a very meagre income as it is. The miners union, as I mentioned, is distressed about this. The Combined Mining Unions Council of Queensland is a body that has a great deal of integrity and a great deal of determination where the interests of members of the mining unions are concerned. It has stated quite clearly that far reaching industrial action at the mines, especially in central Queensland where the mines are producing coal for the export trade, is under almost daily consideration because of this treatment by the State Liberal-Country Party Government.
The implications of the statement made by the Combined Mining Unions Council are clear. I think there are two areas in which the Federal Government could apply some pressure. Firstly, the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) who is good enough to be in the House tonight while I make this speech, could indicate to the Queensland State Government that the Federal Government is not prepared to tolerate the reduction of the miners’ pension by an equal amount every time social service payments are increased. The State Government is sponging on the Commonwealth Government it is behaving in a parasitical manner that should not be tolerated.
– Hear, hear!
– I am heartened to have so much support from my colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh. The other point I mention is that because the export of coal from the central Queensland fields could easily be affected as a result of the extreme dissatisfaction being felt by members of the Combined Mining Unions Council of Queensland, the Federal Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr
McEwen) should also lake a special interest in the matter and indicate to the Queensland State Government that this discriminatory treatment against miners is not appreciated. Finally, there is power in the hands of the Federal Government to indicate to the Queensland Government that this practice should discontinue; that if it does not discontinue, when financial assistance for the State Government is negotiated next, the Commonwealth will deduct funds for that State equal to the amount which the State Government is presently extracting from the unfortunate retired Queensland coal miners.
– I am afraid that the matters raised by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) really do not lie within the province of the Federal Government. The Federal Government has increased social service pensions. The honourable member has suggested that, we bring pressure to bear upon the State Government. He is the first honourable member I have heard suggest that the Federal Government should cut the payments made to a State Government. The suggestion is an entirely novel one, but 1 doubt very much whether it will commend itself to the Queensland electors. It is very altruistic, of course, for an honourable member to suggest that the payments made from the Commonwealth to his State should be cut. Well, altruism, I suppose, deserves publicity and I suppose that his Queensland electors will remember that their member has suggested this cut in State subsidy.
The honourable member for Oxley was good enough to advise me that he intended to bring this question up. I am afraid that I am not very well informed about all the details but there are some details of which I would know and which I think should be put before the House. The retirement fund to which the honourable member referred was set up years ago in Queensland by a Labor government, lt was set up on a very bad actuarial foundation. It may be - and I think the honourable member for Oxley would have a point here - that there were technological developments in the industry which rather changed the basis of things and that these had their effect on the actuarial structure of the fund. I think this would be true. Although the Queensland Labor government’s arrangements went so very wrong I think it might be unfair to blame it too much in this case. But things did go wrong, and the fund foundered and became bankrupt. The fund went into the red, actually, on capital valuation to the extent of some millions of dollars.
Recently the Queensland Liberal-Country Party Government came to the rescue of this fund and raised its own subsidy to the fund from $30,000 a year to $150,000 a year. It took taxpayers money in Queensland and gave it to the coalminers. In place of any kind of gratitude for this the Queensland Government now gets abuse. As I have pointed out. the Queensland Government brought in legislation which raised its annual payments to this fund from $30,000 to $150,000 a year. But still, in spite of that, in spite of this extra subvention, the fund was in difficulties. I am afraid that the honourable member for Oxley is not quite up to date in his facts. He has not told the House - and I will take it that the reason why he has not done so is because he did not know - that negotiations have currently been going on between the combined mining unions, the owners and the Queensland Government and that these have reached very nearly a successful conclusion. Only 2 days ago a Mr Egerton, who I understand has some authority in this matter, got in touch with Mr Camm, the Queensland Minister for Mines, and told him that in principle the proposals put forward by the owners were acceptable to the unions. This communication, as I say, took place only 2 days ago. I am afraid that the honourable member’s contacts with the Labor movement in Queensland were not quite as good or up to date as they should have been.
The facts are that although there are still details to be fixed, there has been a communication from Mr Egerton recently to the Minister, telling the Minister that there is some broad acceptance in principle of the new proposals that have been made. I would think therefore that so far from there being any industrial unrest, so far from there being the kind of thing that is being stirred up, I am afraid, for political reasons, because I understand, it is only a couple of days before there Ls an election in Queensland - and I hope I do not disappoint the honourable member for Oxley too much in saying this - there will be industrial peace and this whole matter will be resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned. I think it would be doing a disservice to Queensland and to the Commonwealth, which benefits of course by the great production from Queensland under the present regime, to try to stir up trouble in relation to this matter. 1 believe it is being settled satisfactorily. I believe that the proposals made will enable the situation, which is due to actuarial deficiencies in the fund, to be resolved satisfactorily. 1 do not pretend to know all the details of this because it is essentially a State matter, but it does seem to me that the Slate Government has come out of this with considerable credit. It has put in the additional money to prevent the fund going bankrupt. It has been able to steer the negotiations between the owners and the employees and they now look like being accepted in principle. As I have said. I think that the Country-Liberal Party Government in Queensland deserves great credit for the successful outcome of this affair.
– I want to comment briefly on the matters raised by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) and replied to by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). I regret that I was reading and did not listen with the interest with which I should have listened to the submissions of the honourable member for Oxley, but we have something in common in that his electorate is similar to mine because we have a predominance of coal miners employed in them. Since Australia is exporting more coal today than ever before in its history I should like to see some scheme devised whereby an excise would be imposed on coal. In addition. I should like to see miners’ pensions, irrespective of the State in which the miners work, stabilised so that the matters which cause industrial unrest would be overcome. I believe that the Government could achieve that objective if it wanted to do so.
The matter that I rose to speak on tonight relates to an insurance company in Newcastle which I consider has gone beyond the limits of fair play and has entered the field of rugged exploitation. I have not been in touch with the insurance company to verify the facts but I think they are proven in the letter which I have in my hand and am prepared to table in the House. The company is the United Insurance Company Limited of 8-10 Bolton Street, Newcastle. Perhaps I could regard the company as the victor in this case. The victim is a man named Mr J. A. Gemza of 2 Park Avenue, Blackalls Park. This letter was written by the manager of the United Insurance Company Limited on 12th March 1969. The facts are that Mr Gemza, whom I have known for 10 years and whom I know to be a man of great integrity and honesty and one of the most hard working men you could come in contact with, arrived in Australia from Poland about 18 years ago. As soon as practicable he became naturalised, married an Australian girl and now has five children. He worked at the Newcastle steelworks and in the coal mines in the Newcastle district. Now he is self-employed as a cleaner at a workers club in my electorate. On becoming self-employed be insured himself with this company against accident and illness. The policy number is NA20748.
He was insured with this company for just over 12 months and he found that he had to have a minor operation on his left wrist as a result, I believe, of hard work which brought about a loss of flexibility in the fingers. As a result of this operation he was off work for one week and his doctor informed the insurance company that he might have to have a minor operation on the other wrist. When the insurance company learned of this it wrote to him in these terms:
Personal Accident and Illnesses Policy NA20748.
We have obtained a report from Dr N. L. Newman regarding your recent operation, and as it appears that a similar operation may be required for your right wrist, we advise that the above policy will not be renewed.
Our cheque for $100 for two weeks compensation is enclosed.
I cannot decipher the Manager’s signature.
I understand from some of my constituents that it is quite a common thing for many insurance companies to accept premiums from a person but when a claim is made they are ever too ready to say that they do not want any more patronage from the claimant. I think that this strikes at the very roots of our democratic system. Members of this House claim to defend our democratic system against tyranny and against Communism, but this is the very thing that creates what most Australians live in fear of. I therefore believe that every member of Parliament has a duty to expose these types of what I might call ‘despicable rackets’.
– Yes. My thanks to the honourable member for Watson. Honourable members are aware of my concern, and also the concern of the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) about some of the exorbitant divorce costs that Australian citizens have had to pay in recent times. I agree that in this country we have some very dedicated patriotic members of the legal profession, and I think I have said in this House before that we have some despicable ones, and that if one was choosing a team of slip fieldsmen one would probably get them out of the legal profession because of their ability to catch low down near the ground. I have in my hand six receipts for amounts totalling $900 from a solicitor in Cessnock, which is in my electorate. Having been unable to confer with the solicitor at this time I withhold his name. One receipt is for $50, another is for $450, another is for $110, another is for $210, another is for $40 and another is for $40. I understand this is what my constituent paid in legal expenses - $900 - for an undefended divorce petition. I know it is pretty hard to shock the consciences of some members of this House - but if this does not shock the conscience of some members, then I do not know what will. If this is not shocking exploitation then I say it is none other than a cold, cold touch. Is it any wonder that in this nation public opinion is turning increasingly to the idea that our national anthem should be changed to ‘Click Go the Shears Boys, Click, Click, Click’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.16 a.m. (Friday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Highways in Australia (Question No. 1272)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked rhe Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
563,852 miles. 2. (a) Bitumen, concrete or paved and sealed - 101,044 miles,
Generally highways, trunk roads and main roads are the responsibility of State Governments.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What surveys and research studies have been made of Australian road needs for the decade 1970-80?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Bureau of Roads in conjunction with the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities undertook an Australian road survey during 1967 and 1968. This survey covered the period July 1969-June 1979.
Australian Transport Advisory Council (Question No. 1280)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Whatrequests or suggestions were made at the meeting of the Transport Council in Hobart in February for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian Transport Advisory Council is a forum at which Commonwealth and State Ministers concerned with transport discuss matters of common interest. Consideration is given to many detailed recommendations of specialist committees of the Council which, if endorsed, may result in legislative and/or administrative action.
The following is a list of the more important items considered at the last meeting of Council on which administrative or legislative action was proposed:
Australian Motor Vehicle Design Advisory Panel - Design Rules.
Implementation of Design Rules. .
Seat Belts - Sale of sub-standard belts.
Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee - Amendments to Draft Regulations.
Australian Road Traffic Code Committee - Amendments to National Road Traffic Code.
Problems associated with Driver Licensing and Motor Vehicle Registration.
Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance.
Pollution of the Sea by Oil.
Limitation of Liability of Owners of Ships.
Problems associated with Interstate Rail bookings.
Proceedings are of a confidential nature. However Press announcements are made at the end of Council sessions concerning the decisions of Council. The items which may involve legislative and/or administrative action on which Press releases were made are as follows:
Implementation of several new Australian Motor Vehicle Design Rules which are directed towards safety of motor vehicles.
Removal of special speed limits in the National Road Traffic Code for heavy goods vehicles in built-up areas.
Introduction of uniform legislation concerning driver licensing and vehicle registration for persons and vehicles moving temporarily or permanently interstate.
Problems associated with Third-party insurance policies when insured vehicle moves interstate.
Problems associated with the movement of containers throughout Australia.
Air pollution from motor vehicles.
Problems associated with bookings by rail passengers travelling interstate.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What was the value of orders placed by or for the Australian National Line in each of the last 10 years (a) in Australia and (b) overseas?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The value of orders placed by or for the Australian National Line for ships in each of the last
The question has been interpreted to relate to orders for ships. If information is required on all orders placed by the Australian National Line over the last 10 years, including equipment and supplies, it would be a substantial task to extract such information.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What are the current arrangements and proposals for building, operating and manning ships to carry bauxite from Weipa to Gladstone?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The bulk carrier ‘Darling River’ (49,375 deadweight tons), under charter to Hastings Shipping Co. Pty Ltd by the Australian National Line, is currently operating in the bauxite trade between Weipa and Gladstone. It is employed pending delivery in October 1969 of a bulk carrier of about some 55,000 deadweight tons which is under construction at Whyalla for Hastings Shipping Co. Pty Ltd.
In addition, the overseas bulk carrier ‘Ore Regent’ (of 57,000 deadweight tons), which will be licensed and Australian manned, is to be imported for temporary operation in the trade pending the construction of a replacement ship. The plans and specifications for the replacement ship, which is proposed to be some 78,000 deadweight tons, are now being completed. When they are received by the Australian Shipbuilding Board, it is expected that early tenders will be called for the construction of this ship in Australia.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What additional or different departments, authorities, boards, commissions or trusts have come to control each port in Australia since his predecessor’s answer to me on 16th November 1965 (Hansard, page 2798)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Since my predecessors answer to your original question the controlling bodies of additional ports and ports which are now administered by different authorities are as follows:
Westernport (additional) - Department of Public Works
Lucinda Point (altered) - Department of Harbours and Marine
Proper Bay (Port Lincoln) (additional) - The Broken Hill Proprietary Coy Ltd
Barrow Island (additional) - West Australian
Petroleum Ply Ltd
Yampi (altered) - Dampier Mining Co. Ltd
Port Latta (additional) - Marine Board of Stanley
Gove (additional)- Nabalco Pty Ltd
Groole Eylandt (additional) - The Groote Eylandt Mining Co. Pty Ltd.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What would have been the estimated increase in Government revenue for the last three financial years for which figures are available if the present maximum income tax deduction of $1,200 for superannuation and insurance payments had been (a) decreased to $400, (b) decreased to$800 and (c) abolished?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The last three years for which statistics are available of the concessional deductions allowed to individual taxpayers for life insurance premiums and contributions to superannuation funds are the income years 1961-62, 1964-65 and 1965- 66 in each of which the maximum deduction allowable was $800. Details were not tabulated for the income years 1962-63, 1963-64 and 1966- 67 and are not yet available for the 1967-68 income year which was the first year for which the maximum deduction was $1,200. At the time the maximum was increased to $1,200 it was estimated that the annual cost of the increase would be $5.5m. The estimated increases in revenue for the income years 1961-62, 1964-65 and 1965-66 if the deduction had been limited to $400 or abolished, are as follows:
The estimate of the gain to revenue for the 1961- 62 income year if deductions were limited to $400 should be regarded only as approximate as deductions in that year were not classified according to the size of the deductions allowed.
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
What is the estimated cost for the fiscal year 1969-70 to increase repatriation and other service benefits by $2 a week?
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
Based on pensions in force at 31st March 1969, the estimated annual cost of increasing the following main repatriation pension rates by $2 per week would be:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian Capital Territory: Rates (Question No. 1377)
Mt J. R. Fraser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Is it a fact that in the rating year 1968 the people of the Australian Capital Territory paid to the Commonwealth $705,793 in general rales and $1,047,572 in water rates?
Is it also a fact that in the five rating years 1964 to 1968 the people of the Territory paid to the Commonwealth a total of $3,366,379 in general rates and a total of $3,104,329 in water rates?
What is the estimate of receipts for the rating year 1969 in respect of (a) general rates and (b) water rates?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
To Benghazi* by Gavin Long (published 1952)
Greece, Crete and Syria’ by Gavin Long (1953)
Tobruk and El Alamein’ by Barton
The Japanese Thrust’ by Lionel Wigmore
South-West Pacific Area- First Year’ by
Dudley McCarthy (1958)
The New Guinea Offensives’ by David
The Final Campaigns’ by Gavin Long
Series 2 (Navy) - Royal Australian Navy, 1939-42’ by G.
Hermon Gill (1957)
Royal Australian Navy, 1942-45* by G.
Hermon Gill (1969)
Series 3 (Air) -
Royal Australian Air Force, 1939-42’ by
Douglas Gillison (1962)
Air War Against Japan, 1943-45’ by
George Odgers (1957)
Air War Against Germany and Italy, 1939-43’ by John Herington (1954)
Air Power Over Europe, 1944-45’ by John
Series 4 (Civil)The Government and the People, 1939-41’ by Paul Hasluck (1952)
War Economy, 1939-42’ by S. J. Butlin
The Role of Science and Industry’ by D. P. Mellor (1958)
Series 5 (Medical) -
Clinical Problems of War’ by Allan S.
Middle East and Far East’ by Allan S.
The Island Campaigns’ by Allan S. Walker
Medical Services of the R.A.N, and R.A.A.F.’ by Allan S. Walker and others (1961).
Economy, 1942-45’ - the Government recently appointed Dr C. B. Schedvin as co-author with Professor S. J. Butlin and this volume will be published as soon as complete.
asked the Minister for tha Army, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Normal action was taken by my Department to ensure that the proposals for Major-General Murchison’s replacement were submitted to the Executive Council in sufficient time to ensure advance publication of the appointment of a new commander and to make adequate provision for proper administrative handovers of the appointments held at that time by the then Brigadier S. L. M. Eskell, E.D., to his successor and by Major-General Murchison to Major-General Eskell.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 May 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690515_reps_26_hor63/>.