27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Ron. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-] present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned showeth:
That the Australian people both in Metropolitan and Rural areas should have the best of television programmes available to them and that television as a powerful means of communication should not be in the control of too few hands.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, should -
Cause the Australian Government to recognise the right of Australian professional people engaged in the creative and performing arts to further develop their skills and talents in Australia, and to be protected from overseas programmes in a way that will encourage an Australian Television and Radio industry that can reflect and contribute to our identity and growth as a Nation. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors of the State of Victoria respectfully sheweth:
That Charles Martin, a 24-year-old graduate in Building Technology, and Geoffrey Mullen, a 24- year-old graduate in Political Science, are serving a two year gaol sentence for failure to comply with the National Service Act, an Act which offends the conscience of many electors who are not directly touched by its provisions,
That their failure to comply with the Act was done as a matter of conscience, and that their imprisonment must therefore cause concern to all electors who oppose the National Service Act, and the decision to send conscripted troops to Vietnam.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -
That the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled will repeal the National Service Act, remove from the record all convictions made under it, and cause Charles Martin and Geoffrey Mullen, and all others imprisoned under it, to be released and cease all further prosecutions under it.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Mt HAMER - 1 present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors of the State of Victoria respectfully sheweth:
That Charles Martin, a 24-year-old graduate in Building Technology, and Geoffrey Mullen, a 24- year-old graduate in Political Science, are serving a two year gaol sentence for failure to comply with the National Service Act, an Act which offends the conscience of many electors who are not directly touched by its provisions,
That their failure to comply with the Act was done as a matter of conscience, and that their imprisonment must therefore cause concern to all electors who oppose the National Service Act. and the decision to send conscripted troops to Vietnam.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -
That the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled will repeal the National Service Act, remove from the record all convictions made under it, and cause Charles Martin and Geoffrey Mullen, and all others imprisoned under it. to be released and cause all further prosecutions under it, to be released and cease all further prosecutions under it
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members oi the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
that the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2603 XXIV A (December 1969) declares that the Geneva Protocol of 192S, which Australia has ratified, prohibits the use in international armed conflict of any chemical agents of warfare - chemical substances whether gaseous, liquid or solid - employed for their direct toxic effects on man, animals or plants;
that the World Health Organisation Report (January 1970) confirms the above definition of chemical agents of warfare;
that the Australian Government does not accept this definition, but holds that the Geneva Protocol does not prevent the use in war of certain toxic chemical substances in the form of herbicides, defoliants and ‘riotcontrol’ agents.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -
that the Parliament take note of the consensus of international, political, scientific and humanitarian opinion; and
that Honourable Members urge upon the Government the desirability of revising its interpretation of the Geneva Protocol, and declaring that it regards all chemical substances employed for their toxic effects on man, animals or plants as being included in the prohibitions laid down by that Protocol.
And your petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
It is obvious the people of Australia are vitally concerned about the welfare of some 9 million East Pakistan refugees that have crossed the border into India. Also they are equally concerned about the desperate plight of millions of displaced persons in East Pakistan, many of whom are worse off than the refugees, as they are not even receiving relief supplies. The involvement of the Australian is evidenced by their willingness to contribute substantial funds to voluntary agencies, to assist their work in these countries.
As some 20 million refugees and displaced persons are today facing acute problems of hunger and privation - nutrition and child family problems- ultimate famine and death on an unprecedented scale- the Commonwealth Government must plan to come to their assistance in a more sacrificial way.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that in tackling these great human problems in Bengal, by far the greatest this century, the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, will request that a special meeting of Cabinet to be called to provide $10m for relief purposes in India and East Pakistan, and a further $50m over three years to help rehabilitate the refugees in East Pakistan.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth -
The Red Kangaroo and many other marsupials, through the shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy.
None of the Australian States have sufficient Wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State and in such a vast Country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem.
It is an indisputable fact that no natural resources can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that:
The Management of Australia’s Wildlife be controlled by the Commonwealth Government and sufficient Wardens appointed to enforce the Laws.
The shooting of kangaroos for commercial purposes be stopped immediately.
The export of all kangaroo products from Australia be banned.
The Commonwealth Government establish large national parks of good quality land as major tourist attractions.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth -
The Red Kangaroo and many other marsupials, through the shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy.
None ofthe Australian States have sufficient Wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State and in such a vast Country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation cart ensure the survival of our national emblem.
It is an indisputable fact that no natural resources can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that:
The Management of Australia’s Wildlife be controlled by the Commonwealth Government and sufficient Wardens appointed to enforce the Laws.
The shooting of kangaroos for commercial purposes be stopped immediately.
The export of all kangaroo products from Australia be banned.
The Commonwealth Government establish large national parks of good quality land as major tourist attractions.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever, pray.
-I present the following petition:
To the honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth -
The the Australian Capital Territory Pharmacy Ordinances 1931-1959 Section 46, Sub-section (1) states that ‘A person shall not publish any statement, whether by way of advertisement or otherwise, to promote the sale of any article as a medicine, instrument or appliance . for preventing conception’.
And that this infringes upon each individual’s right as a human being to all available information about contraceptive devices in order to help prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the words ‘or for preventing conception’ be deleted from Sub-section (J) of Section 46 of the Australian Capita] Territory Pharmacy Ordinances. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully sheweth -
That the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system; a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity: Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one sixth of its school children; only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inadequacies; and nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvement come from the National Government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities; the immediate financing of special programmes for low income earners, migrants, Aboriginal, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children; and the provision of pre-school opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respecfully showeth:
That there is a likelihood that education in the Australian Capital Territory will in the foreseeable future be made independent of the New South Wales education system:
That the decentralisation of education systems throughout Australia is educationally and administratively desirable, and is now being studied by several State Government Departments:
That the Australian Capital Territory is a homogeneous and coherent unit especially favourable for such studies.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a committee of enquiry, on which are represented the Department of Education and Science, institutions of tertiary education, practising educators, and the Canberra community, be instituted to enquire into the form that an Australian Capital Territory Education Authority should take, the educational principles and philosophy that should underlie it, and its mode of operation and administration.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system; a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; more than 300,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity; Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one sixth of its school children; only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inadequacies; and nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvement come from the National Government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities; the immediate financing of special programmes for low income earners, migrants, Aboriginal, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children; and the provision of pre school opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– Mr Speaker, 1 wish to inform the House that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) left Australia on 1st October for the United Kingdom and Europe to attend a meeting of the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. He is expected to return to Australia on 21st October. During his absence the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) is Acting Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it correct that under the proposed rural reconstruction employment training scheme a farm worker cannot qualify unless immediately prior to dismissal he was employed by a farmer who is himself eligible for assistance? If so, will the Minister say why a farm worker’s eligibility should be tied to that of his employer, particularly if the worker is dismissed purely because the farmer decides to run the property without help? Is it also correct that irrespective of experience with other farmers, a farm worker to qualify must have at least 12 months continuous service with the employer who actually dismisses him? Does the son of a farmer require only 6 months service to qualify? Will the Minister say why there should be such differentation, and will he also tell us why domestics are excluded entirely?
– The honourable gentleman asked me a series of detailed questions
– Are you going to shirk answering them?
-. . . and if it were not for the mumblings on the other side of the House-
– That is a reflection on the honourable member.
– Order! The honourable member for Hunter will restrain himself.
– If it had not been for the mumblings on the other side of the Chamber I would have heard the detailed questions he posed to me. But basically, as I recall-
– I will repeat the question.
– Order! Did the Minister not hear the question? Does he want it repeated?
– Yes. (Mr Collard having repeated his question) -
– I thank the honourable gentleman for repeating the question to the House. The answer to the question which he asks is as follows: Firstly, yes, it is true that a farm hand will qualify under the rural retraining programme only if he has been in the employ of an eligible farmer for a period of 12 months before the date of application. Secondly, I do not interpret the present provisions of the programme as representing any degree of discrimination between rural workers either as between rural workers not themselves farmers, relatives of farmers or domestics who do not qualify under the scheme. The domestics will be catered for under other training programmes which I mentioned in the statement which I brought before the House. I presume that the honourable member is referring to female domestics. He would be aware that, as I made very clear in the House, they come under the women’s retraining programme and are fully entitled to the facilities afforded by that programme. In the Government’s view there has been no such discrimination as the honourable gentleman implies.
Mi JARMAN- I ask the Minister for Education and Science: What are the powers and responsibilities of university authorities to prevent university property being used as a sanctuary for those against whom warrants for arrest have been issued by the courts? In the case of the 8 suspended students at La Trobe University what is the position of the Commonwealth in respect of any Commonwealth scholarship which a suspended student may hold?
– 1 shall answer the last part of the honourable member’s question first. Of the 8 students who were suspended from La Trobe University none had Commonwealth scholarships benefits at the time of their suspension or at the time of the incident which led to their suspension. Four of them previously had had Commonwealth scholarships. Three of those had lost their scholarships completely because of failure to make academic progress, and as a matter of normal administration their scholarships were withdrawn or suspended. One other student had had his scholarship under suspension, again because of failure to make academic progress. There was a somewhat similar case earlier, involving fewer people, at Monash University. The three people there involved also had their scholarships withdrawn because of failure to make academic progress which, in part, can flow from a decision to suspend a student from a university, because under a suspension he cannot make progress. That is the normal operation of the Commonwealth scholarship system. Those three students either had had their scholarships withdrawn or were suspended likewise because of failure to make academic progress.
Discipline in a State university is a responsibility of the university or, if the matter is beyond the competence of the university, the responsibility is for the normal law enforcement agencies of the police. It is recognised that universities are not and cannot be sanctuaries. That point was made by Professor Willett, the Chairman of the Professorial Board of the University of Melbourne in a letter published this morning. The particular draft resistors who were present in the union of the University of Melbourne were known to be there. I am advised that in the daytime there were no barricades or inhibitions. They were just present. There was nothing to prevent the police acting at the time at which the police thought it appropriate to act. If the students had been barricaded in university premises or in union premises there would have been a duty on the responsible authorities in the university, if they could not manage the matter themselves, to call upon the police to deal with that kind of situation.
So far as the union is concerned, the prerogative of responsibility rests in a board of directors of the union, which is separate from the university administration. Honourable members may be interested to know that the union board had written to the Students’ Representative Council and, I understand, also to some students saying that, whatever students and draft resistors might be there at night, they should not be there. It is my understanding that the board of directors had not had time to act upon that letter but the letter had in fact been written. Therefore, 1 think it is an example of the board of directors of the union meeting its responsibilities. May I repeat one point. If people were barricaded within university premises and the university authorities themselves felt that they could not deal with that situation, I would regard it as the university’s responsibility or, in the case of the union, the responsibility of the board of directors to ask for police assistance.
– I desire to address a question to the Prime Minister. Did Australia at the recent meetings of the International Monetary Fund indicate any firm view on the following matters: Expansion in the amount of special drawing rights and their allocation; variations in the price of gold; the floating of the Australian exchange rate, either managed or freely determined, sometimes described as dirty or clean; the removal of the surcharges on American imports; and control over capital movements? In particular, have discussions taken place separately with Japan as to future trading terms with that country and the determination of exchange rates as between the yen and the Australian dollar?
– I have received a number of cables from my colleague, the
Treasurer, as to what he has been doing during his recent visit to the International Monetary Fund meeting and also as to the private conversations he has been having with representatives of the United Stales Government and other governments. I also had a telephone conversation with him last night informing me of what proposals he had made. I feel it is proper in a matter like this that we should wait until the Treasurer himself returns, when he can make a report to the Parliament, and if necessary that report can be debated in this place. I think it would be imprudent, even bordering on being unwise, for me to try to mention some of the matters that have been discussed by the Treasurer. I think it is better that the whole picture be presented by him.
– Can the Minister for the Navy give the House some indication of the very serious recent decline in the naval strength and sea power of the United States compared with that of the Soviet Union? Can he say whether there has been any substantial recent increase in Soviet naval activity and operations in the Indian Ocean?
– I am sure that members of the House are interested to know the comparative strengths of the great nations of the world and their sea power. The last edition of ‘Janes Fighting Ships’, which is perhaps the most authoritative summary of this situation, has recently arrived in Australia. The foreword to that edition points out things which I feel every honourable member should be concerned to hear. It can be summarised in this way: At the present moment the editors of ‘Janes’ and their advisers consider that, in every department other than aircraft carriers, the United States is steadily - indeed, to quote the Chief of Naval Operations of the United States, alarmingly - falling behind the strength of the Union of Soviet Socialits Republics.
The USSR has 3 times as many submarines as does the United States. The USSR is building nuclear submarines at the rate of one a month. I would remind honourable members that the cost of one nuclear submarine at the present moment, even if Australia could obtain one, is far beyond our wildest consideration. Moreover, in terms of other matters, the Soviet Union has been equipping its ships with surface to surface missiles. More than 270 of its ships are now so equipped. The United States has no ships equipped with the antisurfacevessel missile.
As I said the other day, we in Australia, in designing our new destroyer, are currently thinking in terms of a capacity to deal with this kind of threat and to operate in this environment. But it is indeed something that we all should ponder as we consider the reason behind this enormous growth. ‘Janes’ says: By any standards the Soviet Navy is now the super navy of a super power. To administer what it considers to be its world charter the USSR has for some time had a task force in the Indian Ocean and more recently in the environment of the Philippines there have been activities of another Russian task force. These areas, I would remind honourable members, are relatively close to our own shores and of significance to us in terms of naval defence.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. What is the reason for the delay in announcing the decision to transfer ministerial responsibility for Australia House in London from the Prime Minister to the Foreign Minister? Is it not appropriate to proceed with this decision, not only to accord with the position of all other high commissions in London but also in view of the change in status of Australian citizens in Britain and the change in trade relations between Australia and Britain both of which changes were made against views expressed by the Government?
– When I was Minister for Foreign Affairs I considered whether Australia House should be transferred from Prime Ministerial control to the control of the Foreign Office. The honourable gentleman will remember that on one occasion I discussed this with him. On that occasion he did not favour it, or at least he did not appear to favour it very strongly. I have continued to give this matter quite close consideration. I do not think at the moment that any marked advantage would be obtained from such a change. But in any event 1 would not be prepared to agree to change or to direct that a change be made until I had discussed it with the British Prime Minister and had also obtained the views of Buckingham Palace.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a question and answer concerning the cost of the proposed Dartmouth Reservoir on page 721 of Victoria Parliamentary Debates - Hansard of Wednesday, 29th September 1971? The Honourable S. R. McDonald, a Country Party member for Northern Province in the Legislative Council, asked whether the review of the construction cost of Dartmouth had been completed, and if so, what was the original estimate and what was the new estimate. Does the Minister agree with the answer provided to that question by the Minister for State Development on behalf of the Minister for Water Supply that the original estimate was $57.5m and the new estimate is $64m? If this latest figure is correct, can the Minister say when a decision will he made on the construction of Dartmouth as this figure is marginally above the 10 per cent proviso in the escalation clause of the original agreement?
– 1 have not had the opportunity to see the question and answer to which the honourable member has referred but I can confirm that the figures that have been quoted are accurate - that is, the latest estimate which has been obtained at the request of the River Murray Commission by the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is now $64m compared with the original estimate of $57.5m. This does mean under the agreement that the matter will now be considered by the River Murray Commission at its next meeting which is to be held on the 19th of this month. The matter will have to be referred to the various member governments concerned - the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian Governments - for consideration because the agreement states specifically that if the estimate is above the increase of 10 per cent allowed the matter must be referred to those Governments for reconsideration. Under the agreement they then have 6 months to decide whether they will proceed. I cannot indicate the length of time that the Governments will take to consider the matter.
There is just one other point and that is that this matter cannot yet be considered by any government when it is referred to it by the River Murray Commission until the individual Acts have been proclaimed by each member government. Honourable members will understand that the matter is only being considered now because at last the South Australian Government has ratified the original agreement, which it delayed for some considerable time. The proclamation of the Act by the various governments should take a matter of a few weeks only. After that, they will have the opportunity of considering the new estimates. I can assure the honourable member that, from my own point of view as president of the River Murray Commission and also in my capacity in this Government, I have every desire to see this matter considered as quickly as possible.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister realise that for each I million sheep shorn huge pastoral companies will benefit from the guaranteed wool price plan by at least 8600,000? Will he give consideration to an improved scheme for the benefit of small wool growers relieving them of the need to repay immediately their debt to huge pastoral money lenders, banks, etc.? I further ask: Will firms such as British Tobacco Co. (Aust.) Ltd benefit from the wool subsidy plan? Is the Prime Minister in accord with a recent statement by his Deputy Prime Minister that an early election will be held in the first half of 1972? Finally, I ask: Is the Prime Minister aware that over Sim has been paid into Country Party funds by huge pastoral interests in the last 2 weeks or 3 weeks?
– Does he agree that such an election should be held on the grounds of donations to Country Party funds?
– I am delighted to hear of these contributions to Country Party funds. I hope that the honourable member will put me in touch with .the respective gentleman-
– And me, too.
– And my leader as well, because neither of us knows anything about them. As to the first part of the question, it follows in typical grandiose form the idea that it would be possible to distinguish between individual wool growers. As the honourable member should know, at the time when the $30m was allocated in the last Budget in order to help wool growers, considerable difficulty was found in trying to determine whether or not assistance could be provided to all those who apply. In many instances, individual growers who might well have taken action on their own part to try to minimise the impact of the disastrous fall in wool prices were excluded from help from the scheme simply because of the criteria of eligibility, lt was with that in mind that the Government considered quite closely when it introduced the current wool price support scheme the question of who should be entitled to receive payment.
I do not know whether or not the figures which the honourable gentleman has produced in the House have been calculated by anybody other than himself. It is true that the level of assistance depends entirely on the price paid each week at auction for the various types of eligible wools which are sold. Therefore, it is not possible to determine how much money will be paid to each wool grower at what time. The amount is determined week by week and the percentage is determined in relation to a schedule brought down by the Australian Wool Commission and the difference determined in relation to the week’s average sale. The honourable gentleman is suggesting that classes of eligibility should be established. I do not believe that classes of eligibility would be in the best interests of either individual wool growers or the wool industry as a whole. For that reason, the scheme is framed and will operate or the basis that I announced in this House some weeks ago.
– I rise to take a point of order. I had directed my question to the Prime Minister because it dealt with a statement attributed to his Deputy in regard to an early election. I was somewhat surprised that the Minister for Primary Industry answered or attempted to answer the question that I raised and -
-Order! Will the honourable member explain what his point of order is7
– Will not the Prime Minister answer the other point?
-Order! No point of order arises.
– Is the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that 3 men, Paul Poernomo, Steve Rooney and Geoff Evans, have commenced a fast outside Parliament House? Their aim is to highlight the desperate plight of some 9 million East Pakistan refugees in India and millions of displaced persons in East Pakistan, most of whom face famine conditions and ultimate death unless large scale assistance is provided by foreign governments. Will the Minister inform the House whether the Commonwealth Government is prepared to make a more sacrificial contribution of $10m to help to alleviate the plight of these impoverished people?
– Having listened to his speeches in this House and from discussions I have had with the honourable gentleman I have a recognition of his very sincere concern at the critical position of refugees from East Pakistan. This concern is shared not only by the Australian Government but, I believe, by all Australians. I am told that a number of people apparently are engaged in some form of public display in front of this House today. I was interested in this regard in an observation made a few weeks ago by the Premier of Queensland when talking about the difficulties which he and his Government face in recruiting sufficient people to work in the field of welfare for Aborigines, lt has often seemed to me that those who demonstrate, whatever the form of demonstration, might well look to more beneficial and fruitful form in displaying their concern than simply to seek publicity, whatever the form of search might be. However, honourable members are aware from statements made in this House that the Government has provided a range of assistance to help to overcome the disastrous circumstances facing East Pakistani refugees both in India and Pakistan. I hope later today to make a further statement in this regard. I can assure the honourable member and the House that it in no way relates to any action that has been taken here or anywhere else by those who seem to me to be more publicity seekers than people genuinely engaged in the search for a solution to the problem.
– There has been no change in this policy since the longdeparted days of the last Labor Government. The policy which we carry out is one explicitly laid down by Ministers of a Labor Government when that Party was in power. The question of whether a man is participating or concerned in a strike is always a difficult question of fact. I recall that I did examine the situation at Broken Hill for the honourable member. The situation at Cobar is now under examination.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister observed the major airlines’ methods of handling passengers’ luggage, not the least at Canberra Airport, whereby suitcases typically strengthened at the base are dumped on end or allowed to fall off a conveyor belt? Can he determine whether the accelerated depreciation which results is planned with the makers of travel ware, or whether this mutilation is merely regarded as a harmless outlet for the aggressive instincts of those responsible? Will he in any event take up the matter with the airlines?
– I have not heard of any special complaints lately about this matter although I can recall that in the past, when I was Minister for Civil Aviation, occasionally these matters were raised. As far as I know the standard of baggage handling in Australia is reasonably good by world comparison but there are occasions when these problems arise. If there are any special cases that the honourable member has in mind and he would care to refer them to me, I will see that the attention of my colleague in another place is drawn to them and that he is asked to take them up with the airlines concerned.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Interior. At the same time, Mr Speaker, I appeal to you for leniency because the question asks for a number of details and, therefore, you might suggest that it should be placed on the notice paper.
– You are giving me a marvellous opportunity.
– When you hear the questions, Mr Speaker, you will realise that the lives of small children are involved and that the matter has to be dealt with quickly.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member ask his question.
– No doubt the Minister is aware that 40 Aboriginal children suffering with meningococcal meningitis have been admitted to Alice Springs Hospital during the last 6 weeks and that 20 of these children are now in that hospital. This compares with 13 cases in the rest of Australia during a similar period. Is it a fact that three of the most recent cases are from Naggerbee Station which has an Aboriginal population of 120, of which 20 are children? Is it also a fact thai the well there is almost dry, the water is rationed for drinking only and the well will be completely dry in another 2 weeks? Is a government fire-fighting tanker used to cart salt water to keep the lawns alive but is not made available to cart fresh water? The question that is being asked by people at the station is: Is the government Owned drilling rig available this week but not to be used because of a dispute on the question of responsibility between the Government and station management? Will the Minister take urgent steps to rectify this situation inasmuch as it is in his power to dcr so?
– I am aware of the serious health problem confronting Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory, particularly at Alice Springs, and I have had discussions with my colleague, the Minister for Health, in regard to this matter. I am not aware of the details the honourable member has brought to my attention concerning the station he mentioned but I will make it my business to become aware of these matters and will give the honourable member an answer in due course. I thank him for bringing these matters to my attention.
– 1 ask the Minister for the Interior whether he is still receiving money and requests from the general public for the purchase of land in the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory. Will the Minister inform the House whether this land is for sale? If the land is not for sale how can he respond to the suggestion of the honourable member for Capricornia that he should transfer these funds to the honourable member who would devote them to a public company he hopes to form for the purpose of purchasing this land?
-Order! If 1 heard the last part of the question correctly, it is out of order. The Minister has no control over the personal activities of the honourable member for Capricornia and I suggest that he answer the first part of the question only.
– In reply to the honourable member for Maranoa, it is true to say that I am still receiving a great number of letters from people. Some of those who are writing to me are enclosing money in order to purchase land in the Simpson Desert. However, I want to make it perfectly clear once again that the land in the Northern Territory portion of the Simpson Desert is not for sale, nor is it likely to bs for sale in the future. Officers of my Department were in touch with the Northern Territory Administration Lands and Survey Branch in Darwin last week and were told that no approaches had been made to it by American or other interests for parcels of land in the Northern Territory sector of the Simpson Desert. I repeat that neither the Government nor the Administration has any plans whatsoever to offer pastoral leases in this area. Moreover, the Northern Territory Administration considers that the pastoral lease areas adjacent to the Simpson Desert area are very marginal indeed.
The question asked by the honourable member for Maranoa, in fact, arises from a question asked by the honourable member for Capricornia who, I have no doubt, was confused by a reported negotiation that was contemplated with an American buyer for leases in Queensland many miles north of the Simpson Desert. The Simpson Desert in Queensland is reserved as a national park and there are, I think, about 2,500 square miles of this area. The portion of the Simpson Desert in South Australia is also a national park and I think it occupies an area of about 1900 square miles. This whole Simpson Desert business has been based on a false premise which gave rise to the hopes of the honourable member for Capricornia. Indeed, I received a letter today, Mr Speaker, and if it is in order for me to read it, T should like to do so.
-It looks to me to be rather long.
– I shall abbreviate it by reading only a section of it. lt is from a fellow named Mr Griffin, who is an estate agent in the area of Townsville. Mr Griffin has written to apologise and to explain in detail the true position concerning a large area of land in the vicinity of the Simpson Desert. The letter states:
The land, with an area of 1,600 square miles, comprises 3 pastoral leases known as ‘Yuluma’. Gungur’ and ‘Buruli’, situated north of the national park.
-Order! I hope that the Minister will comply with my request and not read the entire letter.
– I should like to table it to put the record straight.
-I would suggest that the Minister seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
– Very well, Mr Speaker, I seek leave to incorporate this letter in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thank honourable members. The letter is as follows:
Dear Mr Minister, 1 write to apologise, and to explain in detail, the true and correct situation concerning a large area of land in the vicinity of the Simpson Desert, Central Australia.
The land, with an area of 1,600 square miles, comprises three (3) pastoral leases known as Yuluma’, ,elI-….., and ‘Buruli’, situated north of the National Park. These leases were allotted lo Boulia Land Court on Sth August 1964, and the present lessee wishes to sell, because he has not sufficient capital to develop the properties, and he is in arrears with rates and rental.
We have an American client who is seeking a large area of land, similar- to this, at a reasonable price, which could be developed. Discussions have been taking place for some time, and we are presently awaiting advice from the Lands Department in Brisbane concerning the conditions attached to these leases.
In the meantime, the ABC Townsville heard of the negotiations and approached me. I confirmed that our client was interested in acquiring a large area of land in the region of the Simpson Desert, and subject to the term of the leases and the conditions, and subject to the approval of the Lands Commission, our client could well be interested in negotiating to purchase.
The day after the announcement, the ‘Australian’ newspaper on Saturday, 18th September, without any reference to me, seized the opportunity to make spectacular headlines by saying the Simpson Desert was for sale at 20c per acre.
I did not take any action then, as I considered the announcement as most ridiculous. I became seriously concerned when after ringing me on Wednesday, 22nd September for a story, and I told the reporter I had nothing to report, then on the 23rd September they blatantly quoted mc as having said that the Simpson Desert was sold.
I assure the honourable member for Maranoa that the land is not for sale and good Australians, with an admirable desire to maintain Australia’s heritage - an objective which this Government supports - were unfortunately misled by the honourable member for Capricornia when he invited people to send me 25c for every acre they wished to purchase.
-Order! Has the Minister a great deal more to say?
– Not a great deal, Mr Speaker.
– I would suggest that if the remainder of the Minister’s reply is lengthy, he seek leave to make a statement after question time.
– With due respect, Mr Speaker, I am concluding-
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker, is the Minister sticking to the money or returning it to those people?
– I am coming to that very good point.
-Order! I again point out to the Minister that this is question time. His answer has been rather lengthy and although it may be interesting I would suggest that, unless the Minister can conclude his remarks now, he make a statement after question time.
– I should like to make it perfectly clear to the honourable member for Maranoa and to the House that I have arranged, by adding staff to my office, to return all moneys to the unfortunate people who have been inconvenienced by an exercise in political irresponsibility which has caused frustration and a great waste of public funds. I will not be transferring the money, including the $25 that the Leader of the Opposition handed to me on behalf of someone else, to the honourable member for Capricornia, who is forming a company.
-I direct my question to the Minister for Housing and I refer to the recent Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement in which the interest rate was increased from 6 per cent to 7 per cent. Does this 1 per cent increase mean that in New South Wales every housing commission rental will increase by $1 a week? Is it a fact that the much vaunted grants scheme represents only a very minor proportion of the loss that each State government bears in the rental rebate system? For example, the loss suffered by New South Wales last year was $1.6m on 6 per cent interest. Why has the Government forced up the rents of the lowest income earners and will the Government now increase the grant to cover the whole of the losses incurred by the States on the rental rebate system?
– The proposed new housing arrangements for the Commonwealth and the States propose to eliminate the interest concession of 1 per cent below the long term bond rate on borrowings for State housing but propose to do much more than substitute for this concession by way of a very significant increase in grants. The increases in grants are such that on a number of calculations the interest concession which would apply now on housing has been increased by something like SO per cent at least. In addition to this, sinking fund contribution’s will be made by the Commonwealth with respect to the new scheme which could enable further interest concession to apply for the advances for State housing.
This being the background to the new agreement, it is quite clear that these arrangements could in no way be responsible for any significant increase in rents. Especially this would be so as the Commonwealth proposes to make specific new rental assistance grants which have not applied in the past and which are to help the States in some of their rental rebate arrangements. Overall it is quite clear that if State authorities intend either to increase rents or increase the prices asked from those who are purchasing houses from State housing authorities, this scheme and this assistance would not be responsible for such increases. They would be due to decisions made by State authorities for other reasons.
– I address my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the Minister heard of the development of rugging sheep with plastic rugs to improve the quality of the fleece by protecting it from the action of weather and from vegetable fault, particularly in areas suitable only for wool production? Is the Minister aware that the cost of these plastic rugs is increased by a very significant degree by the effect of the tariff on imported plastic powders and/or the tariff on imported plastic sheets from which the rugs are made? Will the Minister examine the operations of the drawback system to see whether the cost of the tariff can be lessened to allow the wool so protected to be exported on equal terms with wool produced in other countries which do not have to carry this extra tariff burden? Finally, is the Minister aware that the old jumbuck is quite happy to carry the weight of the rug but is unhappy about carrying the weight of the tariff burden also?
– I am aware that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has been doing work on plastic coats for sheep to protect their fleeces in difficult weather situations. However. I am not sure of the commercial value of this work or whether it has yet been proved that there is any advantage at all in this operation. I am not sure how recent tariff duties on plastic apply to the plastic sheeting referred to by the honourable member. However, I do know that the recommendations in the Tariff Board report recently tabled in Parliament did mean a reduction in duty in respect of quite a number of plastic items. There may not have been any reduction in duty in the raw chemical plastic materials area because it has not yet been reviewed by the Tariff Board, but it was suggested in the Tariff Board’s report that when this area is reviewed, in association with a report on chemicals, possibly there might be a reduction in the duty on the raw materials. I do not know what significance the present duty on plastic materials has on this sheeting, but I do know that in the banana industry plastic sheeting has been used for a long time to protect bunches of bananas, and in my close association with the industry I have never heard the complaint that tariff duty on plastic materials was a significant factor.
- Mr Speaker, 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented by the matter about which he has spoken to me?
– Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented by an article which appeared in the ‘Daily Mirror’ of 29th ultimo. It is headed ‘Labour Favors 2- Child Family’, lt misquotes some things which I said in response to an interview on the telephone and it misrepresents Labor Party policy. It states:
Mr Hayden said Labor Party policy, approved at the last Federal conference in Launceston, favoured wider availability of contraceptives and abortion on demand.
I did not say that the Labor Party policy is for abortion on demand; it is not. In relation to those 2 points I quote the policy from the latest publication entitled ‘Australian Labor Party Platform, Constitution and Rules’. At page 46, under the heading Pharmaceutical Benefits’, it states:
That contraceptives, when prescribed by a doctor, be available on the free list of pharmaceutical benefits.
At page 42, under the heading ‘Abortion Law Reform’ it states:
This Conference recommends that the Party and its various groups such as the Parliamentary Parties should take a non-party attitude and vote according to their conscience on the issue of abortion law reform.
I specifically explained the point of conscience in this matter to the interviewer. Lastly, as I have mentioned, the newspaper article is headed ‘Labor Favors 2-Child Family’. The Labor Party has no such policy. I specifically stressed this to the interviewer and indicated that any views which I personally may express on this matter were strictly personal views and would not in any way commit the Party.
– It may be that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) misrepresented or misunderstood me. I wish to explain-
-Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. In answer to a question about transferring the ministerial responsibility for our High Commission in London from the Prime Minister to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I think the right honourable gentleman referred to the fact that when he discussed it with me I was not in favour of it or was not very interested. I would not want him or other honourable members to have such an impression. I have advocated this for quite some time. In fact, looking at Hansard of 22nd May 1969, in a question without notice to the former Prime Minister, one can see that my attitude was quite plain. Also, it was plain from the written answer which that right honourable gentleman gave me to a question which I put on notice for him on 13th March 1968 and which he answered on 22nd May 1969. Since the Prime Minister referred to the British Government and Her Majesty, I should like them also to know that I support the change.
- Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented today in the reply by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt).
– Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. The Minister claimed that 1 had showed political irresponsibility in asking people to protest to him about the sale of land in the Simpson Desert. In the course of his reply he stated that the part of the Simpson Desert in Queensland is reserved as a national park. The national park in the Simpson Desert in Queensland has rectangular boundaries running east-west and north-south. It does not comprise the whole of the Simpson Desert. The Minister in his reply today and in the letter which he has tabled has admitted that the land for sale is in the vicinity of the Simpson Desert, which was contrary to his earlier statements in this regard.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim annual report on the activities of the Australian Wool Board for the year ended 30th June 1971. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– Pursuant to section 27 of the National Library Act 1960-1967 I present the eleventh annual report of the Council of the National Library of Australia for the year ended 30th June 1971 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 23 of the Australian War Memorial Act 1962-1966, I present the annua] report of the Board of Trustees of the Australian War Memorial for the year ended 30th June 1971, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– by leave - I should like to commence my remarks about the Commonwealth’s education programme for 1971-72 by emphasising the close concern which the Commonwealth has, and will continue to have, with educational matters. The Government fully recognises the national importance of education and of the development of educational services, and its objective is to do what it appropriately can, in co-operation with the State governments, to improve the quantity and quality of education in Australia. Against this background I wish’ to give the House further details of the Government’s education programme for this financial year, to which the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) referred in the Budget Speech.
Commonwealth direct expenditure on education in this financial year is estimated at $345,534,000. This represents an increase of 14 per cent over the expenditure of $302,447,000 last year and a doubling of expenditure over the last 5 years. The fact that expenditure has increased by 100 per cent since 1967-68 gives an indication of the extent to which education has been treated as a major growth area by the Commonwealth. This expenditure by the Commonwealth on education is in addition to the substantial amounts which the States themselves are spending - now about $1,1 00m a year. The largest increases in single items will be in payments to the States for universities, colleges of advanced education and teachers colleges. Details of Commonwealth expenditure on education from 1967-68 to the present year are set out in a table which, with the concurrence of the House I incorporate in Hansard.
The Commonwealth continues to support, through the existing matching grant arrangements, the development of universities and colleges of advanced education. Grants to the States for their universities will increase by 20 per cent and will total $90m, compared with $75m last year. Expenditure on the Australian National University will increase from $32m to $35m. The Commonwealth, of course, has the sole responsibility for financing tertiary institutions in the Australian Capital Territory. These increases in university expenditure are due partly to normal growth, but there is an additional element. The Government is willing to join with the States in providing funds for universities and colleges of advanced education during the period to December 1972 to assist them in meeting increases in costs arising from substantial salary and wage increases for non-academic staff which have flowed from a number of awards. The Government has agreed that these increases represent an exceptional circumstance which the universities and colleges could not be expected to meet entirely out of their existing triennial allocation of funds. The additional Commonwealth contribution for universities in the States to meet these increases during the balance of the triennium will be about $5 .4m.
I should emphasise that while making this offer of supplementary recurrent grants the Government continues to endorse the triennial principle for grants to universities and colleges of advanced education. Although it has agreed to make supplementary payments in the present exceptional circumstances, this action is without prejudice for the future. Grants to the States for their colleges of advanced education are expected to total $38m, an increase of 23 per cent over last year’s expenditure of $31m. Expenditure on the Canberra College of Advanced Education will increase from $5m to $5.7m. As in the case of universities, these increases reflect the combined effects of normal growth and the Government’s willingness to join with the States during the balance of this triennium in providing funds to assist the colleges in meeting the cost of non-academic salary and wage increases. The additional Commonwealth allocation for the colleges in the States during the balance of the triennium is over $700,000. The Government is again applying the same principle to the Canberra College of Advanced Education and to the Australian National University. I remind the House that the substantial growth in the area of colleges of advanced education is due directly to Commonwealth initiatives in firstly establishing the Committee of Inquiry into Tertiary Education and in providing, with the States, substantial funds to carry out the Committee’s major recommendations. The quality and potential of the colleges has been advanced by two further Commonwealth initiatives, again in co-operation with the States - the Wiltshire inquiry into the nomenclature of awards and the Sweeney inquiry into the basis of salaries for academic staff in the colleges.
The Commonwealth’s contribution to the capital cost of teacher training, under the State Grants (Teachers Colleges) Act, will continue. We estimate that $13m will be spent under this programme during this year, lt will be recalled that a total of $30rn was allocated to the States for the 3 year period from 1st July 1970 to 30th June 1973 specifically for the building of teacher training colleges. I should remind honourable members that the Commonwealth did not require that this amount be matched by any contribution from the States. The allocation was made because of our appreciation, after consultation with the State Ministers, that the existing facilities available for the training of teachers would be insufficient to meet future demand. The effect of this expenditure, together with the $24m provided for the same purpose in the triennium ending in June 1970, will be to enable some 12,000 places to be built for teacher trainees - a figure which should be seen in relation to the total of about 16,000 places in existence at teachers colleges at the time of the commencement of the Commonwealth programme.
A sum of $llm was available under this programme in the last financial year but in the event only $2.5m was spent by the States in that year. This very considerable shortfall in expenditure is a matter of some concern to the Commonwealth, lt has been the subject of letters which the Secretary of my Department has written to certain State Directors-General of Education. It is our understanding that the States expect that their teacher training college building programmes will reach a peak towards the end of the triennium. In addition to this programme the Commonwealth is contributing very substantially to the capital and recurrent costs of teacher education courses in universities and colleges of advanced education. There are over 1,000 teacher trainees at colleges of advanced education and over 15,000 teacher trainees attending university. The Commonwealth is also providing capital grants for pre-school teachers colleges. In this case the expenditure will rise from just under $lm in 1970-71 to just over $lm in this financial year. Commonwealth programmes in support of teacher education total $40m in teachers colleges and colleges of advanced education in the current triennium. This support is again due to Commonwealth initiatives after consultation with State Ministers.
The Commonwealth has its own interest in, and sole responsibility for, the provision of educational facilities in its own Territories. In this connection the Government has been able to encourage developments in teacher education which it regards as desirable, such as the provision of teacher training courses within multipurpose institutions - a development which is also taking place in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. I hope other States will follow this example. The Commonwealth is taking this initiative at the Canberra College of Advanced Education. Here the training of teachers takes place alongside the training of young people for other professions. The teacher trainee is thus able to establish and maintain contact with other professional groups. The basic courses extend over 3 and 4 years. Over this period the teacher trainee is brought into close association with the practical situation which confronts the teacher in the classroom. His professional training as a teacher is given concurrently with his further education in the discipline he will subsequently teach.
In encouraging these developments at the Canberra College of Advanced Education, the Government has not envisaged that College as training teachers to meet only the needs of Commonwealth Territories; it believes that there should be an alternative to the common situation where teachers are trained in a particular school system and subsequently teach in that same system, lt is intended that the Canberra College will accept students for teacher training without regard to the school system in which they eventually will teach. As a result of the action being taken by the States and the Commonwealth in teacher education the major objectives of the Martin Committee are being achieved. The minimum length of course has been increased to 3 years and co-ordinating machinery is being introduced in most States to improve the academic standing of teacher education institutions.
The Commonwealth’s interest in teacher training is naturally becoming even more direct with its agreement to establish the Commonwealth Teaching Service, separate from the Department of Education and Science. The Teaching Service is intended to provide continuity of service and security Ibr teachers working in Commonwealth schools, to facilitate movement between mainland Commonwealth school systems, and to provide a base service for selected teachers in Papua New Guinea. Legislation to give effect to the Government’s decision on this matter is being prepared. Of related interest is the Commonwealth Teaching Service Scholarship Scheme which the Government has decided to introduce. This will provide awards for students who, on completion of their training, will be employed in the Commonwealth schools system. Training may be undertaken at the Canberra College of Advanced Education or at an approved institution in one or other of the States and in courses specifically directed to teaching. No bond will be imposed. For 1972 there will be 200 of these scholarships; these will provide for fees and a living allowance free of a means test. The allowance is at the maximum rate applicable to other Commonwealth tertiary scholarships.
The measures 1 have just mentioned represent a significant Commonwealth contribution to the training of additional teachers for Australian schools. At the same time however the Commonwealth recognises that there are important considerations, other than the provision of finance, involved in the teacher supply situation. Such considerations include the wastage of teachers in training, which together with the loss of teachers from service substantially reduces the number of teachers who would otherwise be available. The significance of the loss of teachers from service is readily apparent from the high resignation rates of recent years. On the information available to me, resignations reached a level in 1970 of over 12 per cent of the teaching service in Government schools throughout Australia, representing a loss of over 11,000 teachers. This loss would not be a net loss because some teachers who resign are simply moving from one government school system to another, or from government to independent schools. Against this loss must be set the additional teachers coming into the government school systems through people returning to teaching, through overseas recruitment and from teacher training programmes. When we look at the total situation we find that the number of teachers in service is increasing steadily. The main significance of the loss of teachers from training and service is that shortages in particular areas could be overcome so much more quickly if the profession could retain more of those who initially embark on a teaching career. For this reason, the losses which do occur are serious, and the Commonwealth welcomes the consideration which is being given to these problems by the State education authorities and others. Honourable members will know that the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts is examining this matter at the moment. The Commonwealth will itself be seeking to minimise the impact of these problems in the way it manages its own teaching service.
In short, with the number of teacher trainees now at a record level of over 35,000, compared with 15,000 only in 1960, there should be more than sufficient qualified teachers emerging to meet population growth and to lower pupil-teacher ratios if the undue wastage during training and later service can be significantly reduced. The bonding system appears to have a significant effect on these matters and I am more than glad therefore that the new Commonwealth Teaching Service scholarships do not require that condition.
The total cost of the various Commonwealth scholarship scheme in 1971-72 is estimated at $43. 7m compared with $38.4m in 1970-71, an increase of 14 per cent. The total number of students receiving assistance in 1971 was 66,000; in 1972 this is expected to rise to approximately 71,000. From the beginning of this year several increases were made in allowances payable to students holding various tertiary scholarships. The Government has now decided to increase the number of scholarships available under the Commonwealth advanced education scholarship scheme from 2,500 this year to 4,000 in 1972. The colleges of advanced education are expanding rapidly and it was decided that the limited additional funds available for student assistance should be used to increase the number of scholarships in this area. The estimated cost of providing the additional 1,500 awards is $430,000 in 1971-72 and over $2m when the additional awards are in full operation.
This Budget marks the commencement of a new triennium in the technical training grants programme. Under this scheme, the Commonwealth has made available to the States $10m a year for the last 7 years, in unmatched capital grants for building and equipping technical colleges. The scheme has now been extended for a further 3 years and the amount available has been increased to an average of $12m a year over the period although the full impact will not be felt in this, the first year of the triennium. These funds go solely to government institutions. I place considerable importance on the continuing programmes for science laboratories and libraries in all secondary schools. They both have done much to improve the quality of education in both government and independent secondary schools. In total some $286m has already been committed to these 3 areas. I come now to a matter which has been the subject of considerable discussion in this place and elsewhere over the past year or so. When I finish speaking I will be tabling 2 documents, one concerning government schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and the other concerning the independent schools. The information contained in these documents was collected by my Department over the whole of Australia during a survey of educational needs. These documents will be available to honourable members. Since I was involved in the early discussion with the State Ministers for Education on this survey I propose to refer briefly to these; to trace the subsequent events and to indicate the Commonwealth’s positive response to that survey through the 1970 and 1971 Premiers Conferences and Australian Loan Council meetings. Throughout its response to the survey, the Commonwealth has sought to improve the States own general financial resources, to enable State governments better to meet their needs and responsibilities. This is the approach which hitherto has been preferred by State Premiers.
At a meeting in Adelaide in March 1969 the State Ministers for Education indicated to me their intention to conduct a survey of each State’s educational needs over the ensuing 5 years. I gave 2 reactions. I said that the Commonwealth would also conduct a similar survey of the needs in its own Territories and that the Commonwealth survey would include as a separate item the needs of the independent schools in its Territories. I suggested that the States might do likewise. In the event the States’ survey did not cover the needs of the independent schools; these have since been investigated by my Department, in consultation with the various independent school authorities, for each State as well as for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The States’ survey of educational needs for the 5 years 1971- 1975 was made available to the Commonwealth early in 1970 and published in summary form in September 1970.
– There are only 3 Government supporters in the chamber to listen to the Minister’s statement on this important aspect of education. It is disgraceful.
– I am glad to have the honourable member’s interest. This material related to government schools and teachers colleges, and was taken into account by the Commonwealth in its deliberations prior to the Premiers Conference in June 1970 at which the basis of general revenue assistance to the States was reviewed- and new arrangements made for the following 5 years. In September 1970, the Commonwealth sought further information from State education departments on their capital needs. The collection of this information took some time - the last of it was forwarded to my predecessor in March this year - but it was brought together and considered by the Commonwealth before it met with the Premiers in June 1971. The outcome of the 1971 Premiers Conference also had further implications for the capacity of the States to deal with their recurrent expenditure needs.
The requests that have been made by the States for assistance in financing the expenditure needs seen as resulting from the survey cannot be looked at in isolation. There are other important areas of State and Commonwealth endeavour to be considered, and the limited availability of real resources means that any increase in the proportion of national resources devoted to one field of activity must necessarily be at the expense of others. In recent years governments have been spending an increasing proportion of their revenue on education, and the current financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States will enable expenditure to be maintained at a high level.
The general financial situation of the States is expected to improve substantially as a result of the 1970 and 1971 Premiers Conferences. Before the 1970 arrangements,’ Commonwealth general revenue grants to the States were already increasing at a faster rate than gross national product, and as a result of the 1970 arrangements those payments will grow at an even higher rate. Indeed, following the 1970 Premiers Conference it was expected that total general revenue assistance to .the States over the next 5 years could be of the order of $8,400m, compared with $4.700m over the previous 5 years - an increase of $3,700m. Then as a result of discussions at the 1971 Premiers Conference and Loan Council meetings the States overall financial position was further improved. In addition to a non-recurring grant for special revenue assistance, and the Commonwealth’s continued support for a high level of borrowing programmes for State works and housing, the States received access to a new field of taxation when the Commonwealth agreed to transfer to the States the power to collect payroll tax. The States have already decided to increase their revenue through this tax.
Thus it can be seen that since the States drew up their estimates of recurrent expenditure needs for the survey, there have been a number of developments which have added very considerably to their expected recurrent resources. When they prepared their survey figures they worked on the assumption that their recurrent resources for education would increase by 10 per cent per annum, but in fact their recurrent expenditure on schools and teacher training increased at the rate of 15.5 per cent per annum in 1969-70, before the new financial arrangements applied; and with the total general revenue assistance to the States in 1971-72, including the transfer of payroll tax collections at the old rate, expected to be 17 per cent greater than in 1970-71, they should be able at the very least to maintain the existing rate of growth. I might add that about 80 per cent of State recurrent expenditure on primary and secondary education goes to pay teachers’ salaries.
We need only look to the State budgets recently brought down for evidence of the extent to which the Commonwealth action that T have outlined has improved the States financial position. The Victorian budget, for example, includes an increase in total expenditure on education of $58.5m, and the increase in expenditure on the levels of education dealt with in the survey is of the order of $43m - a 20 per cent increase. In the same budget. State government support for independent primary schools’ recurrent costs has been doubled from $20 per student to $40 per student. In the recent South Australian budget recurrent expenditure on primary education has increased by nearly 30 per cent, as has expenditure on secondary education and on teacher training.
The Queensland and Western Australian budgets provide for increases in total expenditure on education of 21 per cent and 18 per cent respectively while the Tasmanian budget provides for an increase of 25 per cent in total expenditure on education. In Western Australia per capita grants to independent schools have increased from $20 to $30 per pupil at primary schools, and from $30 at junior secondary level and $36 at senior secondary level to $40 in both cases. The Tasmanian budget also provides for an increase in per capita grants to independent schools, and the Queensland budget includes an increase in per capita grants from $25 to $45 per annum for each primary student and from $67 to $77 for each secondary student in the earlier years of secondary schooling. The payment is even higher for the later years. In New South Wales the budget provides for an increase of $77m, or more than 16 per cent in total expenditure on education, and an increase in per capita grants to independent schools from $36 to $50 per annum at the primary level and from $42 to $59 at secondary level. The means test on these grants at secondary level has also been eased.
In most recent years the Commonwealth has been called upon to meet shortfalls in the borrowing programmes of State governments from its own revenues It is relevant to point out that of the total works and housing programme approved by the Loan Council and supported by the Commonwealth in 1971-72, $210m or about a quarter of the total amount takes the form of a non-repayable Commonwealth capital grant rather than a loan. This grant may be used for expenditure on non-revenue producing assets and therefore is applicable to school building programmes; this development began in 1970-71 and should be of benefit to the States.
The Commonwealth’s capital expenditure on education has been increasing in recent years. It now represents 35 per cent of all capital expenditure by governments on education whereas 10 years ago it represented only 18 per cent. What is more, an increasing proportion of Commonwealth capital expenditure on education is being directed at the educational levels dealt with in the survey of needs; this proportion has averaged 40 per cent over the last 4 years, whereas over the previous 4 years it had averaged only 29 per cent. There is a similar pattern of increase in the total amounts the Commonwealth is making available to the States specifically for education through special purpose grants. These payments to the States for education have increased by an average of 23 per cent over the last 5 years, and have increased from 22 per cent of all specific purpose payments in 1966-67 to 32 per cent in 1971-72.
Notwithstanding the claims the States have made for capital funds for education, it is nonetheless the case that where the States have had under their control Commonwealth capital aid funds for education they have not always been able to spend these funds in the period for which they were allocated. I have already mentioned the $llm allocated for teachers colleges in 1970-71, of which only $2. 5m was spent in that year. When the States estimates from the survey of needs are examined in detail there are some points which call for particular attention. In the case of capital expenditure, for example, one State claimed that 69,000 new places for primary school pupils should be built over a 5-year period during which primary enrolments are expected to decrease by 4,000, whereas another State sought to build 14,000 new places for primary school pupils over the same period to cater for an expected increase in enrolments of 24,000. In the case of recurrent expenditure, one State based its estimate of funds required on the assumption that it would have a pupil-teacher ratio of 11.9:1 in its secondary schools by . 1975, which is virtually identical with the current ratio in universities of 11.6:1. Although recent improvements in pupil/ teacher ratios have been welcome, I think it is relevant, in the context of a survey of needs such as this, to keep in mind that research in the related area of class size has failed to substantiate the view that pupil performance and achievement are directly related to class size.
– Fair go.
– Just wak a minute for the evidence. The report of the Scott Committee, which examined question of class size in New South Wales, did recommend reductions in class size; but that report also stated that the research evidence on the effects of class size was most unsatisfactory. It recommended the carrying out of a carefully planned study on which future decisions could be based, and the constant review of future policy on class size in the light of emerging evidence. It should be noted that the Scott report drew particular attention to research studies by Fleming and Marklund and expressed general agreement with their conclusions. Fleming found that ‘if there are any correlations at all between size of class and attainment they are inconsistent and of a low order’, and Marklund that under typical conditions class size, in itself, appears to bc an unimportant factor’. I mention these findings as a reminder that there are questions other than those of class size affecting the quality of education and that the benefits to be gained from tackling questions of educational content and method may be greater than those to be gained from reducing student-teacher ratios to near-university level.
All this points to the need for further research. I hope to encourage this and will approach the appropriate authorities, including the States, on this matter. We have established the Partridge Committee to advise on research grants in education and to take the initiative in sponsoring research. I hope that, as a result of these steps, an adequate research coverage will be given to this important area of class size. While there have been significant overseas studies we need more evidence and examination of the Australian position in an effort to establish agreed objectives. The fact that teachers’ salaries absorb over 80 per cent of all current expenditure in the schools area explain the importance of this problem. I have not the slightest doubt that we seriously need more well directed educational research. As our system grows this will become more important. We will need to be able to distinguish better those factors that have a significant impact on student attainment. There were, too, considerable variations between States in the pupil-teacher ratio objectives each was aiming at for the final year of the Survey period. In the case of primary schools, one State was planning to move from a ratio of 24.5 : 1 to 21.3 : 1 over the 5-year period whereas another was planning to move from 32.3 : 1 to 30 : 1 over the same period. In the case of secondary schools, one State was planning to move from 17.5:1 to 11.9:1 over the 5-year and another from 19.1 : 1 to 18.3 : 1.
While there may well be reasons for some of these interstate differences, they do suggest that the survey totals are based on differing State views about needs and objectives rather than on a consistent nation wide view. This is also apparent in matters such as the classification of building proposals in order of priority and in the wide divergences in building costs. At the primary school level, for example, the estimates of cost per pupil placed ranged from about $425 to almost $1,400 - that is, between States. I think it would be of benefit to the States and the Commonwealth if closer consultation took place between them on matters such as building design so that information on their individual experiences could be pooled for the good of all. I propose to take this matter up with my State colleagues.
The observations which I have made about the survey of needs for the government schools demonstrate that the figures presented by the State Ministers for Education are open to serious questioning. The Commonwealth has reservations also about the material furnished by the independent schools. This was collected and collated by the Commonwealth for consideration by both the Commonwealth and the States when it became apparent that the State authorities, for the purpose of the Survey, were preparing material only about their own State schools. Today I am releasing a statement prepared by my Department to draw together and aggregate the returns from independent schools about capital expenditure and teachers’ salaries over the 5-year period. As explained in the departmental document, which I will table, there are deficiencies in the material.
– Will the Minister incorporate that document?
– My intention was to table the document. Copies are available for any honourable members who wish them. The document includes the survey on independent schools and on the Australian Capital Territory.
– I thought that it might be convenient to have it incorporated in Hansard as part of the one statement.
– lt is a very long document with a number of figures. Whether or not the document should be in Hansard, I do not know. It can be seen that the Commonwealth is already doing a great deal to support education. It has concentrated its recent efforts on improving the States’ general financial position, and the States have in fact been enabled to finance a level of educational provision better than has applied in the past. These improvements have been made in spite of the financial stringencies of the present time. The States have been placed in a better position to help not only their government schools but also their independent schools, and the recent developments which I have already mentioned in all State Budgets are evidence of this. I would also hope that this improvement in the States’ general position will enable them to make further progress in improving standards at those schools which are now disadvantaged, and in resolving special problems they have in particular areas. I know that the solution of these problems is important in achieving equality of educational opportunity.
Under its various programmes, the Commonwealth will spend a total of approximately $31m in 1971-72 in aid to independent schools in the States, including $24.3m for per capita grants for recurrent costs. The Government’s view is that the independent schools must continue to play a significant role in Australian education. Were they not to do so, there would be less diversity in our educational systems; there would be less opportunity for different approaches to education; and the economic strains on government school systems would be increased. It should also be remembered that the overall access which independent schools have to government funds is still relatively limited. For example, the 78 per cent of enrolments at government schools attract about 25 per cent of State revenue funds, whereas the 22 per cent of enrolments at independent schools attract only about 1 per cent of these funds. The Government regards it as important that the independent schools, by their own efforts and with the support of
State and Commonwealth governments, should be enabled to educate that proportion of the school population which has traditionally attended independent schools.
This financial year pre-schools, schools and technical colleges in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory will together receive S37m, an increase of 20 per cent over the previous year. This expenditure is necessary to meet the needs arising from a continued rapid expansion in enrolments. In 1971 enrolments in government schools in the Australian Capital Territory were 60 per cent above those for 1966 and the comparable increase for the Northern Territory for community schools was 70 per cent. The annual rate of growth in enrolments at government schools in both territories continues at between 10 per cent and 12 per cent. At the beginning of 1971 the first teachers employed by the Commonwealth were appointed to community schools in the Northern Territory. Legislation to set up the Commonwealth Teaching Service is being drafted.
In order to cope with the rapid expansion of enrolments in government primary and secondary schools in both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory a substantial programme of new school buildings is being undertaken and will continue. New schools will be open in 1972 at Weston Creek in Canberra and at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory; the latter will replace the existing inadequate buildings. Also in the course of construction is Darwin’s third high school, at Casuarina, to be opened in 1973. Additional secondary accommodation also is being provided at Katherine and Tennant Creek. New primary schools will open in four of Canberra’s suburbs during 1972 and a similar number is planned for 1973. In the Northern Territory a new primary school is under construction at Moil, a suburb of Darwin, and one will be commenced at Waraman. another Darwin suburb, this financial year. Last year the then Minister for Education and Science mentioned the proposal to provide a community college at Darwin. Planning has progressed satisfactorily with this project, and I expect that a contract for the construction of the first stage will be let towards the end of the financial year.
Earlier in this statement, 1 spoke of the survey of needs. In looking at the various current statements of needs and claims for assistance, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that our overall standards of education have in fact been rising consistently. We now have 42 per cent of all 15- 18 year olds still at school whereas 10 years ago we had only 26 per cent. There has also been an increase in the proportion of pupils remaining at school to the matriculation grades’, 13 per cent of pupils at government schools remained to the matriculation grade 10 years ago, but this proportion has now risen to 25 per cent. We now have a pupil - teacher ratio of 22:1 in government schools, while 5 years ago it was 25:1. In non-government schools the pupil - teacher ratio has improved from 29:1 to 25:1 over the same 5-year period. The number of teachers-in-training has increased by over 40 per cent in the last 5 years, while the number of pupils in school has increased by only 10 per cent. The number of bachelor degrees conferred on the 20-24 age group of the population has increased from 622 per 100,000 in 1966 to almost 1,250 per 100,000 population in 1970, and this is an indication of; among other things, the increasing capacity and output of our secondary school system. Of course, there remain unfilled needs in special areas - -teachers in certain subjects is one - but the general picture is one of consistent improvement.
The Commonwealth has undoubtedly made a major contribution to these improvements. It has done this in 2 ways. Tt has introduced programmes of direct assistance, such as the teacher training capital grants. And in the last 2 years the Commonwealth has concentrated on improving the States’ revenue resources, as is seen in the 1970 and 1971 Premiers’ Conferences and demonstrated by the State budgets brought down this year. The total expenditure on education in these budgets represents, for the 6 States combined, an increase of 17 per cent over the previous year. As we look beyond the end of this decade we must realise that much of the hope - many of the plans we have for Australia in the last decades of this century - will depend upon the skills, expertise and adaptability of the Australian people.
Tomorrow’s tasks will require higher skills and better management than in the past. If we cannot match the large nations in capital and invention, we can at least be our own managers; indeed such a requirement is essential. The quantity and quality of education - costing presently over $ 1,500m a year - is a significant charge upon this nation, but few other expenses represent such worthwhile investment for the future. Investment in education is investment in adaptability and capacity to survive. This is true of the nation and of the man. National skills and expertise could well be crucial in meeting some future challenge and so too a boy’s or girl’s early training would influence his or her whole future capacity to meet changing circumstances and to participate in emerging technology.
Through education we can do much to reduce inequality. As we march towards national goals we must place equality of opportunity high on the list. Equality of opportunity means more than anything else, I believe, equality of educational opportunity. As in so many matters we are unlikely to achieve complete equality. It depends not only on what a State may do but also on the attitudes and outlook of parents, which have a quite crucial impact on a student’s attitude to work. Perhaps of even more importance than equipping students to meet future technological change is the need to enable man to live with man. We ought to strive harder than ever before to achieve what no generation has yet achieved: A community composed of men and women for whom human values are more important than material advantage; a community for whom the interrelationship of man with man has become the most important concern; a community in which tolerance and understanding reign and prejudice is abandoned. Only when such communities inhabit a nation and when such nations engulf the world will the shadows and fears of present or potential tyrannies be permanently consigned to the past. If anyone suggests such an ideal cannot be achieved let those who can believe strive the harder.
The power presently available to a number of nations makes this course more necessary and more urgent. Many strands will contribute to this objective, but a broad, liberal and fair minded education, with equality of opportunity firmly established, must surely influence our future course. We must constantly re-define our education goals to ensure that they are effectively oriented towards these objectives^ - towards the maximum development of the individual’s talents, his aspirations, his personality and his voluntary selfdiscipline. Much of this speech has been descriptive of Commonwealth effort, but I hope honourable members will also find an expression of objective to which they can all subscribe. As in the past several years, my Department will keep in close touch with State and independent education authorities to maintain the firm basis of consultation and co-operation which is necessary in seeking to attain these objectives. With the concurrence of honourable members 1 incorporate in Hansard a statement illustrating the additional Commonwealth financial assistance grants made available to the States and a table showing the build-up in the number of Commonwealth scholarships available in recent years.
THE EFFECTS OF CHANGES MADE TO THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE ARRANGEMENTS DURING 1970 and 1971
Under arrangements settled at the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference to run for the five years 4970-71 to 1974-75, the financial assistance grants, which finance about one-half of State current budget expenditure, continue to be determined under a formula which increases the grants in proportion to increases in population and average wages - the two main factors affecting State current expenditures - as well as a betterment factor designed to assist the States to improve the standard and range of their services. However, for 1970-71 there was a special addition of $40m to the formula grants. Then, for the purpose of determining these grants for 1971-72 and subsequent years, this additional grant forms part of a new base to which the formula will be applied and the betterment factor element in the formula is increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent.
The Commonwealth is also assisting the States specifically, in meeting interest and sinking fund charges on their debt. Grants are being made to meet the debt charges on a progressively increasing amount of Stat: debt so that, as from the commencement of 1974-75, the Commonwealth will have taken over complete responsibility for the debt charges on $ 1,000m of State debt. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $200m of the 1970-71 borrowing programmes for State capital works in the form of interest-free grants thereby relieving the States of debt charges they would otherwise have had to pay. These grants are to increase proportionately to the increase in the total Loan Council works and housing programme. (In 1971-72 for example they will total almost $2 10m.)
At the time these arrangements were settled lt was estimated that the total of financial assistance under the arrangements would grow at around 2i to 3 per cent per annum faster than if the previous grants arrangements had continued unaltered. As the revenue grants payable under the previous arrangements were increasing at a faster rate than gross national product, this represented a very substantial improvement.
The financial assistance grants arrangements were further amended by an undertaking by the Commonwealth to make good the loss in State revenues during 1970-71 as a result of the discontinuation of receipts duty after 30th September 1970 The Commonwealth agreed that, for 1971- 72 and subsequent y,ears, the amounts of receipts duty which it was estimated would have been collected in 1970-71 had it been a ‘normal’ year would be added to the base used in determining the financial assistance grants payable under the grants formula. By this means the Commonwealth is, in effect, providing for the continued payment to the States of compensation for the loss of receipts duty.
A further change in the arrangements has resulted from decisions taken at the Premiers’ Conference on 16th June to increase the Stales’ capacity to raise their own revenues. Briefly, the Commonwealth agreed to transfer pay-roll tax to the States on the basis that the States’ financial assistance grants will be reduced to help offset the loss to Commonwealth revenue resulting from the transfer. However, the Commonwealth agreed that the reduction in the States’ grants in 1971-72 and future years will be smaller than the loss to Commonwealth revenue as a result of the transfer. In particular, the Commonwealth agreed to make the reduction in the States grants in 1971-72 smaller by an amount now estimated at $22.4m. This smaller reduction will also be made to the ‘base’ used to determine the formula grants for 1972-73 and subsequent years so that the States will continue to benefit from this factor in those years.
The Commonwealth also agreed at the June 1971 Premiers’ Conference to provide $40m special revenue assistance to the States in 1971-72 by way of a non-recurring grant.
As a result of all these measures the States will receive in 1971-72 an estimated additional $274m in general revenue assistance from the Commonwealth over and above what they would have received had the arrangements which existed before 1970-71 continued unaltered. This is a remarkable increase even if the estimated amount of $ 100.6m representing receipts duty compensation grants included in the above figure (which could be regarded as replacing revenue which the States had hoped to gain from their own receipts duly) is abstracted. In the circumstances the Commonwealth believes that the State Governments are now better placed to meet their responsibilities including recurrent expenditure on education.
The following table sets out details of the components of the $274m increase mentioned above:
$m 1 Additional assistance under arrangements settled at the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference -
I present the following paper:
Commonwealth Education Programme for 1971 72- Ministerial statement, 5 October 1971.*
Motion (by Mr Wentworth) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) represents the abandonment of another undertaking made by the former Prime Minister at the last elections for the House of Representatives. Referring to the nationwide survey of educational needs the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) stated:
When the survey is completed the States and ourselves will discuss the assistance we should each provide to promote the futher development of education in all schools.
For the last2½ years honourable members and members of the public have been given the pat reply to all inquiries about the Commonwealth’s involvement in any form of education at the school level that we must await the Government’s decision
When the State surveys are completed they will be collated and considered by the Australian Education Council. Action will then be taken to formulate a nationwide plan for the fulfilment of needs in accordance with priorities determined by the States. The Commonwealth’s co-operation will be sought to put this plan into effect.’
They met again on 8th August 1969 and announced:
The whole (survey) will eventually be presented to the Australian Education Council to consider the findings with a view to formulating a nationwide plan for the fulfilment of educational needs in accordance with the priorities determined by the States.
As the financial resources at present available to the States are not sufficient to meet the needs that would be revealed by the survey, a joint approach would be made to the Commonwealth for additional financial assistance to education in these areas.’
On 13th August 1969 the present Minister for Education and Science made a statement to the House in which he stated:
On completion of the surveys the Common- wealth Minister for Education <ind Science and the Australian Education Council, which is composed of the Ministers for Education in all the Stales, will consider proposals for joint action to promote the further development of education in schools.’
Sir. unilaterally the Commonwealth has now gone back on these forecasts and these undertakings. The nationwide survey has been in the hands of all the Ministers since May last year. It should have been possible to reject any Commonwealth participation in it before this.
Before going into more detail on this might 1 refer to some 4 passages in the Minister’s statement. I do so at this stage because I apprehend that since we are about to embark upon a debate on the Estimates and because a very great number of other Ministerial statements are ahead of this one on the notice paper it is most unlikely that we shall have the opportunity to debate the Minister’s statement. Firstly I draw attention to the Minister’s statement on the increased offer to the States for university and colleges of advanced education expenditure during the period to December next year. I noted in the newspapers over the weekend that it is doubtful whether Victoria will be able to pay the grant to earn its share of this additional grant, I also note that New South Wales will do so only if the universities and colleges increase their fees.
– We have been told that Victoria will be able to meet its share.
– The Minister assures rae - 1 am glad to have the assurance - that Victoria will be able to meet its share. The New South Wales Minister for Education has forecast that an increase of 16 per cent in fees will be required by that State’s universities and colleges, lt would be helpful if the House was given a statement of the prospects of the matching grants in each State. I gathered from the statements in the newspapers that the State Premiers and Treasurers had had little notice of the proposal.
The next matter to which I direct attention is the criticism that the Minister makes that although Slim was available under the teachers college programme for 1970-71 only S2.5m was spent by the States in that year. I had used the same figures in criticism of some of the State governments, particularly that of New South Wales. However,
I was impressed with the argument and at this stage I am convinced by the argument that the difficulty which New South Wales has had in spending the amount available to it is that in respect of the teachers college capital grants, as with all other Commonwealth initiatives in education, no notice was given to the States and no consultation was held with the States.
– This is not correct.
– I am quoting from information which has. been gleaned by my colleague, the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds). I hold no brief for the State Government of New South Wales but I have been impressed with repeated statements by its Ministers that the prudent course for that State Government was to carry out proper research into the nature of contemporary teacher education facilities before undertaking the expenditure which had become available to it by way of a windfall.
The third matter to which I would direct attention is the Minister’s statement that there was a resignation rate of teachers in 1970 of over 12 per cent. This may well be the Australia-wide average. As I understand the situation, the resignation rate in New South Wales and Victoria is considerably larger. I have not the transcript of evidence but I have a newspaper report of the evidence given to the Senate Committee to which the Minister referred by Mr P. W. Hughes, head of the School of Teacher Education at the Canberra College of Advanced Education. This evidence was given less than a month ago. Mr Hughes stated that the number of teacher resignations throughout Australia has more than cancelled out the gain from new teachers. In a written submission to the Committee, Mr Hughes said that there were about 35,000 students in training which would mean that about 9,000 to 12,000 new teachers would be available each year. Since about 3,000 to 4,000 new teachers would be enough to cope with population increase it might be thought that the situation was improving but this was not happening because of increasingly heavy losses from both training and teaching. The loss of teachers through resignation was running at between 12 and 16 per cent.
Mr Hughes evidence is given even more stature by the fact that he is a member of the committee appointed earlier this year by the New South Wales Government to examine the loss of teachers in that State. Finally, I would draw attention to another case of combined statistics which 1 believe on further analysis will show the extent to which there is very great inequality in our educational system. The Minister stated:
We now have a pupil:teacher ratio of 22:1 in government schools, while five years ago it was 25:1. In non-government schools the pupil: teacher ratio has improved from 29:1 to 25:1 over the same five year period.
In fact these figures are reached by pooling the ratios in the Catholic and other nongovernment schools and pooling the ratios in primary and secondary grades. I rely on an answer which the honourable member for Parramatta, the present Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) gave me a year ago when he was Minister for Education and Science. I have on the notice paper at the moment a question asking for updated information. In August 1969 in primary grades in New South Wales the pupil-teacher ratio in Catholic schools was 36.8 and in other nongovernment schools 21.1. In Victoria the ratios were respectively 38.9 and 18.6, in Queensland 35.2 and 22.2, in South Australia 32.6 and 22.1, in Western Australia 37.4 and 22.1 and in Tasmania 35.6 and 20.1. More relevant and more comparable are the figures for secondary schools. Comparatively speaking there are not many pupils at primary non-government schools which are not run by Catholic orders. It is in secondary grades that most children attend the non-government schools which are not conducted by Catholic orders. Accordingly, I give the pupil-teacher ratios in Catholic and other nongovernment schools in secondary grades in the 6 States as follows: New South Wales 24.2 and 13.3, Victoria 27.1 and 14.8, Queensland 25.4 and 18.8, South Australia 24.0 and 15.6, Western Australia 23.6 and 14.5 and in Tasmania 22.5 and 13.7. It is very clear that whatever the validty of the pupil-teacher ratio may be the ratio is almost twice as much to the disadvantage of Catholic schools as of other non-government schools. I have gone into some detail on this matter because I believe it can be quite misleading to quote a total figure when the individual schools in the 2 categories show so much disparity. 1 pointed out that the Minister has abandoned any joint action on a nationwide survey. I repeat that I can understand the difficulty that one has with the States. It took from 7th September to 23rd December for the previous Prime Minister to get answers from the Premiers of Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia concerning the survey. I do not know whether the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria have yet answered the letter that was addressed to them. It took from 11th September last year to March this year for the State Ministers to answer a letter from the immediate past Minister for Education and Science and at this stage
I believe that the only authorities which have tabled their sections of the survey are the South Australian and Western Australian Governments, after the change of government in each State and, today, the 2 mainland territories. The other States have not yet tabled their surveys.
– I am advised they intend to do so.
– I compliment the Minister on having pressured the States into getting this far because his 2 predecessors were unable to get them to do so nor did they themselves table the Territory or non-government school surveys. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the House. Last April the Government members committee on education and science expressed the following view:
It was not in the Commonwealth interest for the details of the survey of educational needs to continue to bc unavailable and the sooner we were in a position to judge whether the detailed survey is a sufficient basis for further or alternative Commonwealth programming the better.
That view was expressed over 5 months ago.
I should now like to speak in purely general terms. There is much in what the Minister has announced which is commendable and which will have the support of the Opposition. For instance, the proposals which he has outlined for teacher education in regard to Commonwealth Territories are ones which we would hope the States themselves would follow. It is only in the Territories that the Commonwealth is now carrying out the recommendations of the Martin Committee which were presented to Senator Gorton, as he then was, when he was Minister for Education and
Science in the days of the Menzies Government. The Government still takes the attitude that it should distinguish between teacher education and all other tertiary education, lt is only in respect of teacher education that the Commonwealth has not made provisions generally for salaries and scholarships or recurrent expenditure generally.
– We do in universities and colleges.
– Yes, but the Martin Committee recommended that there should be the same provision for teacher education in general, including education in teachers colleges per se.
– The Commonwealth, I think, has taken the view that education in a multi-purpose institution is very much more desirable and therefore this is an incentive to move towards this institution.
– 1 could not agree more with the Minister, but the Martin Committee said the same thing back in 1964. It is unhealthy that any employee - because every teacher is going to be an employee - should be trained by the prospective employer and, in many cases, the only possible employer. This is largely responsible for the lack of morale among people undergoing teacher education or engaged in the teaching profession compared with people undergoing other forms of tertiary education or pursuing the careers which that education opens to them. I believe that the hang-up, the inhibition, that the Government feels in this respect is just an aspect of the hangup, the inhibition that it has towards schools in general. lt used to be said some years ago that the Constitution did not permit the Commonwealth to do anything about schools but, of course, the Constitution permits the Commonwealth to do anything about schools that it does about universities. The Federal Government would now never tolerate and the States would not now welcome the situation where they were without the benefit of the periodic public advice given on universities and colleges of advanced education by various Commonwealth bodies such as the Universities Commission and the committees on research grants, advanced education, standards for science facilities in independent secondary schools, teaching of Asian languages and cultures and now, under Professor Partridge, research grants in education. The facts which the Minister has given concerning the different projections and the different programmes of the States bring home to us all the more clearly how necessary it is that there should be some standing body to collate these matters for the nation’s schools. It is no longer good enough that the Commonwealth should act in a piecemeal, spasmodic and capricious manner in relation to schools. We can no longer take the attitude that the States will have enough money to deal with schools. We do not act in this way and we do not take this attitude concerning tertiary education, except as regards teachers colleges in the narrow sense. It is quite futile for the Government to continue to adopt this attitude towards schools.
The Minister very properly stated that equality of opportunity means, more than anything else, equality of educational opportunity. I could not agree more but, in fact, nothing in his statement brings educational opportunity any closer in any of the States. It is true that it is closer in the Territories. It is only in the Territories that every child has at least one year of preschool education. It is only in the Territories that a man or a woman can receive teacher education in the same way as he or she can have any other form of tertiary education.
– That is not correct. People in New South Wales, Queensland or Tasmania can receive teacher education either in universities or colleges of advanced education in precisely the same way.
– If a person goes, as most people do, to a teachers college which is run by a State education department, he does not get the same opportunities. I note and I applaud the fact that there are more places now available for prospective teachers in universities and in the colleges of advanced education, but the great majority of prospective teachers still attend teachers colleges conducted by their prospective employer. It is only in the Territories that people will be able to get the full scope of tertiary education as teachers and the full scope of pre-school education.
I can conclude my remarks by emphasising how deficient we are at the very outset, on the threshold of education. I quote the percentages of children who can have pre-school education. In the Territories, everybody gets pre-school education. In New South Wales, 2.9 per cent of the population enjoys this education; in Victoria, the figure is 27.1 per cent; in Queensland, 7.3 per cent; in South Australia 14.5 per cent; in Western Australia, 9.9 per cent; and, in Tasmania, it is 14.3 per cent. I would hope that we will not again have a ministerial statement on education without mentioning the opportunity for pre-school education which, in the interest of future equality, every child in the States should have.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, this is a most important matter. The Minister has made a lengthy statement which has wide implications not only for the Commonwealth Parliament and every State Parliament but also for the whole realm of private education in Australia. I should like the Minister to give an assurance that this matter will be debated in this House in the fairly immediate future.
– I am afraid that 1 cannot give the honourable member such an assurance, but I do give the assurance that I will take the matter up with the Leader of the House. I was at pains to make this statement before the debate on the Estimates because I though it would be of some advantage to members on that occasion. However, I take note of the honourable member’s point and I will take it up with the Leader of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Graham) adjourned.
– by leave - As honourable members will know, the Government has been following with close concern developments on the Indian subcontinent. The Prime Minister (Mr
McMahon) has on several occasions sent personal messages to the leaders of both India and Pakistan. To date the Government has provided$1. 5m in food, shelter and medical supplies to help alleviate the plight of the East Pakistani refugees at present in camps in India. At the time that this aid to the refugees was announced the Government stated that it would not necessarily be the limit of our assistance to the region. We said that we would keep closely in touch with the situation and assess, from time to time, both the needs of the peoples of the region and our capacity to help. We have continued to receive detailed reports on the situation from our missions in the area, from United Nations’ sources and from visitors to the area, including some members of this House.
Reports from East Pakistan itself indicate that some areas face acute food shortages, and possible famine. The area has also been subject to considerable flooding in recent weeks. Earlier this year, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, issued an appeal for emergency assistance for the people of East Pakistan. He asked that such assistance be channelled through the United Nations agencies particularly UNICEF and the world food programme. The United Nations has now established a relief organisation to assist in the reception and distribution of relief supplies in East Pakistan, and some donors such as the United States of America, Britain and Canada are channelling aid through it. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has on a number of occasions stated that the Government was keeping under review the course of events in East Pakistan, and would play its part in the provision of relief assistance.
The plight of the millions of Pakistanis who have left their homes, and the prospect of starvation faced by some of those who have remained behind, have caused the Government grave concern. The sufferings of the ordinary people of East Pakistan have also struck a deep chord of sympathy among all the people of Australia. The number of refugees in India is reported to be approaching nine million. There is no need for me to explain to honourable members the substantial economic burden which this problem of deep human suffering is imposing on the Indian Government. We have been informed that the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will shortly issue a renewed appeal for more international help.
In the light of the compelling need for aid and of the appeals made by the United Nations, the Government has decided to provide a further $1.5m in humanitarian assistance to the region. This will double Australia’s contribution to the international emergency relief effort. It will bring our total aid to date to $3m. Of this additional aid $500,000 worth of rice will be given to India for emergency relief for the refugees. This is in accord with the Indian authorities preference for rice as a food grain for relief supplies in the refugee camps. It is of course additional to previous announcements of food and other aid to India. A similar amount of rice will be provided through United Nations agencies for distribution in East Pakistan. The provision of rice will be additional to Pakistan’s normal allocation of aid wheat under the Food Aid Convention, valued at around $1.4m.
The remaining half million dollars will be divided between a $250,000 cash grant to the Secretary-General’s appeal, part of which we expect will be used to pay freight costs on the rice shipment, and the provision through United Nations agencies of other urgently needed foodstuffs, such as edible oils. The precise composition of the shipment of foodstuffs will be decided upon as part of the broad international effort.
The Government shares the deep concern felt by Australians at the human suffering which has followed events in East Pakistan. While the Government is moved by compassion in providing the additional assistance, it does not regard it as an act of charity but as a fulfilment of our obligations to the international community. We will continue to take a close interest in developments on the Indian subcontinent and to play our part in providing aid for the people of the region. I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Howson) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The Opposition welcomes the statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr
Sinclair) as far as it goes, indicating that another $1.5m in food, shelter and medical supplies is being donated by the Australian Government to assist in this crisis. However, we feel that the aid is far too tied to specific commodities. In the administration of this form of relief, a grant of financial assistance in foreign exchange to the Indian Government, and I presume also to the Pakistani Government, would give a greater flexibility to their aid programmes.
I do not know what the current figure is but on the latest figures I saw the Indian Government had spent on refugees 120 crores of rupees. I understand that a crore represents 10 million rupees. Also, donations from outside amounted to 8.2 crores which is one-fifteenth of what the maintenance of refugees had cost the Indian Government. This expenditure has meant that all sorts of development projects in India have had to go by the board because that country’s budgetary effort has been distorted by this sudden and unexpected expenditure on 9 million people who haderupted over their borders into India as a result of the crisis in East Pakistan.
The Minister mentioned the Indian Government’s preference for rice in the refugee camps. However, he slurred over the question of wheat in East Pakistan itself. There is no statement that the Government of Pakistan prefers rice to wheat. On the contrary, there is a reference to the fact that the Government of Pakistan receives some wheat aid now.
– My understanding is that the Government also prefers rice for East Pakistan.
– Yes. One of the factors about the preference for rice is that although there are considerable wheat consuming populations in both parts of the Indian sub-continent, these people do not have the means of turning wheat into immediately nutritious and edible food as they do in the handling of rice. I remind the House of the extremely generous contributions that were made by Sir Paul Hasluck during the Bihar famine. These contributions were worth $35m and anyone who can screw this amount of money out of the Australian Treasury has my admiration. This contribution was in the form of 580,000 tons of wheat. This type of aid was made feasible when Sir Paul Hasluck set up in India 6 magnificent modern bakeries each of which, as 1 remember, had the capacity to produce 1 million loaves of bread a day. If we turn wheat into bread we have an immediate palatable means of supplying food to people even if they are traditional rice eaters. That seemed to me to be one of the valuable features of the aid that was given by Australia in that earlier crisis.
I am sure that both the Indian and Pakistani Governments would be grateful for financial assistance to spend in the ways that occur to them immediately. I do not belittle the expenditure by Australia of another $1.5m for 9 million refugees. However, anybody looking at this contribution could assume that it will not mean that there will be a vast transformation of the position of the refugees. If rice can be obtained from Burma any foreign exchanges can be given to obtain that rice, or if rice can be obtained from other neighbouring countries, a financial grant by the Australian Government as a form of aid is something worth considering. This form of assistance would enable India, or Pakistan for that matter, to mobilise the productive resources of other countries than Australia. If the preference is for rice, our capacity to provide it is not as great as is that of some of the neighbours of India and Pakistan. Therefore I ask the Government again to consider not merely grants in kind and some gFants in cash to meet freights and some grants in personnel to carry out medical work, but also financial assistance to 2 countries which are notoriously short of foreign exchange to enable them to draw on the resources of countries other than Australia at Australia’s expense.
I do not believe that monopoly of concern for this sort of thing is on either side of the House. But I ask that there be a restoration of the idea of adequacy of effort which seemed to me to be one of the characteristics of a former Foreign Minister when this sort of crisis occurred. I would remind honourable members that the Chifley Government during the time of Britain’s crisis put through United Kingdom aid Acts amounting to £45 m in the days when the basic wage was £4 5s a week. That Government also gave £25m to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund. There was a conception of raising a sum of money that wouldmake some real impact on the situation. Welcome as the $1.5m worth of aid is, let us face the fact that we cannot regard a contribution of this size to be spent on a population of 9 million people, which is almost equal to the population of Australia, as being a very, very significant one.
Debate (on motion by Mr Graham) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Post and Telegraph Bill 1971
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1971
Broadcasting and Television Bill (No. 2) 197]
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)I have received a letter from the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Government’s subsidised medical scheme.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places.)
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the Opposition regards the disastrous failure of the Government’s subsidised medical scheme as an urgent matter of public importance. Involving, as it does, the welfare of tens of thousands of Australian families, this matter of urgency is of the utmost importance. It represents our demand for action after almost 2 years of dereliction of responsibility by the Government. Like the entire voluntary health insurance system that the scheme was aimed at helping to prop up, it is on the point of collapse. The passage of almost 2 years since its introduction in January last year has dramatically highlighted in the most compelling way the failure of a system whose objective is not the welfare of people, but the protection of property and profit for vested interests in the medical insurance business and the propagation of party dogma at any expense to the community. The failure of the subsidised medical scheme is yet further proof that the Australian Labor Party’s system of automatic insurance through the pay packet, levied according to ability to pay and with exemptions for low income groups, is not only the most equitable means, but also the only effective means of insuring the entire community against the cost of ill health. lt was inevitable that the Government’s subsidised medical scheme should fail to reach the poor in the Australian community. It was not, after all, intended to do so. Its aim was not to relieve hardship and poverty. The scheme could have been one of the most significant pieces of social engineering in the nation’s history. For tens of thousands of Australian families it could have helped to provide a break in the poverty cycle in which low income, poor housing, poor diet arid poor hygiene are passed on from parents to children. But this was not the Liberal Party’s objective. The Government’s objective was to perpetuate the existing system of health insurance. A major criticism of this system was that some 15 to 20 per cent of the population either did not insure or could not afford to insure themselves within the existing system. With this major criticism of the Nimmo Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance posing as a threat to the Government’s system, the appearance had to be given that something was being done. Yet in inflicting on the community the continued survival of the voluntary health insurance scheme, all that the Liberal Party was doing was inflicting on the poorer people of Australia the massive jungle of paper work and red tape which had already made the system wasteful and irrelevant for the majority of people.
If the Government had intended to restrict its claimed improvements to the smallest number of people possible it could scarcely have produced a better scheme than the subsidised medical scheme. Those who were uninsured 2 years ago are still uninsured; those who were most vulnerable to the ravages of sickness and the financial disasters associated with sickness are still exposed. The Government’s scheme is as useless today as it was 2 years ago. The benefits organisations thrive in their wealth and in their multitudes. The medical profession profits and prospers. The poor are ignored. Government Ministers have been so acutely embarrassed by the failure of their subsidised medical scheme that they have resorted to the most transparent manipulation of figures. Let us look at the statistics of failure which the Government has had to falsify, exaggerate and inflate.
According to a written answer given to a question on notice on 16th September last by the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), only about 40 per cent of all those people receiving social service benefits in 1970 were insured with a private benefits organisation. The figures indicate that only about 40 per cent of the 200,000 people registered with the Commonwealth Department of Social Services took the second step to insure with a benefits organisation. So only 4 in 10 of that group of people have covered themselves. Of over 100,000 migrant families and individuals who arrived in Australia in 1970, only about 27,000, or 1 in 4, applied for registration with a health benefits organisation. They were all automatically entitled to coverage, but only 1 in 4 insured with a private benefits organisation.
Figures given in 1969 and 1970 by the former Minister for Health - the present Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) - who introduced this scheme indicated that there were approximately 184,000 specifically low income families living on the minimum wage or $6 above it - these figures are in black and white - who would have been entitled to full or partial subsidy for the cost of health insurance. But the figures given by the Minister for Health indicate that only about 13,000 or 7 per cent of these people had registered with the Commonwealth Government and that only one-half of this number had taken the step to register with a private benefits organisation. These are the statistics of failure. I have quoted publicly these statistics, derived from the Minister for Health himself, to point up the collapse of this scheme.
The superseded Minister for Health, the present Minister for Immigration, says that the figures are misleading. Little wonder that the former Minister for Health so deceitfully resorts to distorted figures to cover up the failure of the scheme of which he spoke so highly when in the House on 14th April last year he said:
The advances made possible by this Bill, in conjunction with the other improvements introduced by this Government in 1963 and 1969, will bring financial protection against the costs of medical and hospital treatment within the reach of every person in the community.
Some claim. Little wonder, then, that in answering a question last Tuesday, he fell back on the claim that the number of low income families receiving benefit under the scheme was not in fact 13,000; instead he said it was 84,000. Let us see just how fraudulent this claim is. Firstly, the figures given by the Minister relate to people who signed up with a health benefits organisation in the course of a whole year. These include migrants, families on a specifically low income and people receiving unemployment, sickness or special benefit from the Commonwealth. Had the Minister been honest enough to examine the number of people registered with a health benefits organisation at a given time he would have admitted that as at 30th June of this year a total of only 21,000 members were registered with a hospital benefits organisation and only about 22,000 were registered with a medical benefits organisation. This is the reality as to how many of these people were covered as at 30th June of this year, not how many were covered in and out of one continuous year. So we can see that the figure which the Minister used in claiming that there were 84,000 low income families inflates the success of the scheme by about 300 per cent.
The second point to bear in mind when looking at the Minister’s figures is that the great majority of people referred to in the figure of 84,000 derived only a short term benefit from the scheme. One expects that a scheme aimed at protecting low income families would be for a long term. We are talking about low income over a long period - chronically low wages and low living standards. But in fact probably 40 per cent of the males receiving unemployment benefit, referred to by the Minister in that figure of 84,000, were receiving it for less than one month, and probably about 80 per cent were receiving it for less than 3 months. This evidence is suggested on page 59 of the annual report for the Department of Social Services this year.
Similarly, probably 52 per cent of the males receiving sickness benefit had been receiving it for less than 3 months. Migrants are eligible for free insurance for only 2 months. So what we are talking about is an inflated figure that pretends that long term cover is being given to a significant number of people in the community. That is not the case.
The vast majority of special beneficiaries - who also make up the 84,000 claimed by the Minister - were women. They were receiving benefits and insurance cover for less than 3 months. Let us consider those who are specifically low income families, who receive the minimum wage or up to $6 more than that. Here we find from page 64 of the report of the Department of Social Services that 57 per cent of all the families in the categories of class A, class B and class C had been enrolled in the subsidised local scheme for more than 6 months. So only a tiny majority of the people who were members of the whole scheme were covered for any significant period. Let us dispel the cloud of confusion that the Ministers have deliberately thrown around the claim that the 84,000 supposedly included within their scheme are’ actually low income families. If this is supposed to mean that they are people on long term low incomes of less than $52.50 a week then let us see what follows.
For one thing, using the Government’s suggestion that two-thirds of those enrolled in benefits organisations- are low income families and individuals, then of all the 300,000 applications passed by the Commonwealth Government last year as eligible for assistance, probably 200,000 should have been chronically low income families. If that were the case, the number registered in 1970 as specifically low income families should not have been 13,000 but a far greater figure. But that did not happen. What we are talking about in the groups outside class A, class B and class C, the specifically low income groups, are people some of whom are on low incomes, but not all of them and not even a significant number of them. Likewise, only 25 per cent of the migrants arriving last year enrolled with the private benefits organisations during their 2 months eligibility. These migrants were likely to be from the
English speaking countries and on incomes probably higher than $52.50. Thus, the low income earners, particularly from Greece and Italy, were likely to be in that group which did not register with a benefits organisation.
Again, only 40 per cent of the unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries registered with a benefits organisation, lt can reasonably be argued that the very low income earners in these categories are more likely to be found in the 60 per cent of those who did not register with a benefits organisation than among the 40 per cent who did. lt is clear that this system has failed. No amount of distortion of figures by Government Ministers can conceal that fact. One thing that is most disturbing is the very small number of families led by adult male wage earners that are covered in this scheme. At 30th June this year there were probably no more than 2,000 families led by male wage earners in this subsidised scheme, in the class A, class B and class C system. If that is not a system which has failed I do not know what is. One might ask why so few have been included. The answer is that virtually every adult male wage earner in this country has been excluded from the system because of the minimum wage means test. The minimum wage is $46.50.
If one looks at the Commonwealth means test applying in the various capital cities one will see bow cruel and how stringent it is. The minimum wage in Sydney is . $47.10. In Melbourne it is $46.30. In Brisbane it is $44.60. In adelaide it is $45.90. In Perth the minimum wage is $46.40. In Hobart it is $47 and in Canberra is it $46.60. The State minimum wages are $46.30 in Victoria, $46.80 in Queensland, $45.90 in South Australia, $49 in Western Australia and $47 in Tasmania. The interesting thing about the group of people in the less than $46.50 a week income bracket who have registered is, as the Department of Social Services report indicates, that 6 out of 10 families registered are families led by women and, in particular, by deserted wives. What we are finding is that many males’ in Australia simply could not afford to lead a family on the means test involved in this system. So the majority of people in the scheme are women, because they earn far less and are relying on State government subsidies.
I would like to refer to a number of cases of genuine hardship that this scheme overlooks. Let me say one thing for sure. This scheme will not work. The only way in which it is possible to insure- every person in the Austraiian community is to have a national health insurance scheme in which people are insured through their pay packets. The scheme cannot possibly work in relation to aborigines. Living in the fringe areas of the south west of Western Australia are probably 6,000 to 7,000 aboriginals. They were formerly provided for by a Government grant of about $20,000 a year made to doctors to care for the health of aborigines. When this subsidised medical scheme came in, it replaced that system. I understand that now there are fewer than 1,000 aborigines covered.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Before dealing with the points raised by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) I would like to thank my colleague the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) for indicating that the Opposition will be prepared to give leave to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to make a statement at 8 o’clock this evening on a matter relating to increased benefits for nursing homes. Copies of the statement will be available shortly and will be passed on to the Opposition in accordance with the usual arrangement. I appreciate the Opposition’s indicating in advance that it will give leave for that statement to be made.
The honourable member for Bendigo raised a matter of great importance. Whilst I agree that it is a matter of great importance I must say that the wording of the proposal for discussion and the points raised indicate that again it appears to be an example of political opportunism rather than of actual facts. The honourable member criticised, amongst Other things, the low income benefits and referred, as the basis for authority for his comments, to recent Press statements which alleged that because by 31st December 1970 only about 12,000 low income families had applied for assistance under the subsidised health benefits plan, which was introduced on 1st January last year, the plan had failed in its objective. But of course this is not so.
I feel that misunderstanding has occurred in the use of published statistics relating to the scheme, and that the Opposition in this case has chosen to perpetuate the error. Consequently it is necessary for me to put these figures in their proper perspective. For administrative and statistical purposes beneficiaries under the plan are divided into 3 separate community groups eligible for assistance. They are, firstly, the low income families; secondly, unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries; and, thirdly, migrants. These groups are not mutually exclusive. A high proportion of the persons receiving unemployment, sickness and special benefits would receive annual incomes less than the annual limit of income which determines eligibility for low income families. Similarly, in a 12 months period migrants on the average would be in Australia for only 6 months and their annual income would also be less than the limit.
For income assessment statistical purposes beneficiaries in all these 3 groups would be classified as low income earners. For the purpose of the subsidised health benefits plan the 3 groups have been recorded separately. In the year ended 30th June 1971, 82,000 unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries became members of health insurance funds, about 11,000 low income families became members and about 28,000 migrants became members. The total of the 3 groups approximates 121,000. lt is estimated that 84,000 of these consist of families on low incomes. It is also relevant that the original estimate was that 184,000 families would become eligible for health insurance assistance. This estimate was based on figures for the year 1966-67, which were the latest figures available at that time.
– Have these figures been updated?
– They have subsequently been updated, and the figures I will mention shortly will show the result. But the figures I have quoted were the up to date figures at that time. The original estimates were based on figures for the year 1966- 67. Projections based on figures for the 1968-69 income year, which are now available, indicate that by now the maximum number of eligible low income families is approximately 125,000. Notwithstanding this, the Commonwealth Deportment of Health has not been idle in facing the situation and revised procedures to operate from 1st November 1971 will make a very real contribution towards some of the problems being experienced. The new procedures involve the introduction of a simplified application form of low income families and the adoption of one certificate for all beneficiaries, whether low income families or unemployment, sickness or special beneficiaries. These new arrangements will simplify procedures and enable more eligible persons to avail themselves of the assistance under the plan.
The Department has also adopted widespread measures in publicising the plan, both in campaigns directed solely to the operation of the plan and its inclusion in other general departmental literature. However, it has been found that publicity efforts directed through the normal media do not reach a great number of those eligible. At the present time the Department of Health is examining suitable avenues, such as more use of social workers in the community to support the normal publicity measures. A factor indicating the success of the scheme is the expenditure under it to date. During the first financial year of the operation of the plan, that is, 1st July 1970 to 30th June 1971, expenditure was $6. 9m. It is estimated that the expenditure for 1971-72 will rise to $9.7m. I think the House will agree that these figures alone completely refute the allegations of the honourable member for Bendigo. But I think I would be performing a useful- and factual - service if 1 were briefly to outline certain aspects of the health benefits plan as they apply to low income families, to those receiving unemployment, sickness or special benefits, and to migrant settlers for medical or hospital expenses incurred during the first 2 months in Australia.
Benefits now available through Australia’s health scheme have taken much of the worry out of health costs for people on low incomes. If a family income is below $52.51 a week, the plan gives special help in paying health expenses. There are 3 categories of assistance: Firstly, where a family income is $46.50 or less, free medical benefits and public ward hospital cover are available; secondly, where a family income is above $46.50 but does not exceed $49.50, medical benefits and public ward hospital cover are available for only one-third of the normal cost of health insurance contributions; and thirdly, where a family income is above $49.50 but does not exceed $52.50 medical benefits and public ward hospital cover are available for two-thirds of the normal cost of health insurance contributions.
Also, if a person is receiving unemployment, sickness or special benefits, he is eligible for full medical benefits and a scale of hospital benefits equal to the charge made to patients in public wards of public hospitals. He does not have to complete a special application form to receive these benefits. A subsidised medical services entitlement certificate is issued automatically and he should receive this soon after being granted his social service benefits. A person is allowed 4 weeks free health insurance after his unemployment, sickness or special benefits terminate to allow him time to become a regular contributor to a health insurance fund of his own choice. And finally, if a person is a migrant who intends to settle in Australia, the Federal Government will provide special assistance towards meeting any medical or hospital costs he may have during the first 2 months following his arrival. To qualify for this benefit he must first become a member of a health insurance fund and begin paying contributions. He must present the insurance fund with an identification paper, such as his passport or document of identity, which shows the date of his arrival in Australia. The fund will pay benefits, on behalf of the Federal Government, towards his medical and hospital costs for the first 2 months of his residence in Australia. He will be entitled to full medical benefits and a scale of hospital benefits equal to the charge made to patients in public wards of public hospitals.
I mention these things because they are inherent in the Opposition’s matter of public importance and because they are facts of achievement and service under the national health benefits plan, which everyone in Australia should know. The points that have been raised by the hon*ourable member for Bendigo dealt with factual situations in perspective as placed before the public by Press reports which, as I indicated, have been based mainly on outdated figures. The facts and figures I have quoted this afternoon show the. position in perspective in accordance with the latest statistics that are available and indicate, as I have indicated today, the amount of finance that has been provided by the Government in the past year, and the estimates for this year show that it is being substantially taken up by a large number of people classified as being in the’ low income group. In conclusion, the’ Opposition’s case is regrettably lacking in facts and does a most rational and enlightened national scheme a grave disservice.
– The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) is to be commended for his diligence and industry in exposing the almost total failure of the Government’s subsidised health insurance scheme. He did this well before the data in the annual report of the Department of Health was released publicly. Nothing which the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who has just spoken, has said in any way. diminishes the impact of the challenge issued by the honourable member for Bendigo. The Minister quoted the figure of 11,000 as the number of low income earners obtaining the benefits- of this scheme, . according to latest data. I doubt very much whether that 11,000 would show a great improvement on the figure of a little over 11,000 quoted for the calendar year ended 31st December 1970 as distinct from the figure for the financial year that he quotes, which is a figure for only a further 6 months.
The answer to question on notice No. 2550 which was supplied to the honourable member for Bendigo shows that this figure of 11,000 can be quite grievously misleading, lt represents double counting, because when one looks at the breakup of membership of health insurance organisations for low income families one finds that it is a total figure covering people registered, in the first place, for medical insurance and, in the second place, for hospital insurance. In each case, for instance under class A, only a little over 5,000 families are registered. So what in fact has happened is that the Government has lumped a little over 5,000 together twice and said that this is 11,000 families, but in fact this is double counting and it is fairly obvious that the families drawing on low income medical insurance are the same families appearing under hospital insurance claims, and similarly for the other groups - the migrant groups and the unemployment and sickness beneficiaries. That is the first point I make.
The next point I wish to make concerns the Minister’s reference to the diminution in the number of people who will be drawing on the benefits of the subsidised, health insurance scheme. This was a diminution from 184,000 to 125,000. What he neglected to mention is the fact that this has been achieved by freezing the income bands which establish eligibility for people who wish to draw on this scheme. Class A beneficiaries are people whose income reaches a maximum of $46.50. If that income level had been increased since it was last set according to average weekly earnings it would now stand at $50.80. The income band of a class B beneficiary stands between $46.50 and. $49.50. Again, if that band had been increased according to increases in average weekly earnings in the period since then the band would be $50.80 to $54.08. Similarly, class C is $49.50 to $52.50. If that band had been increased it too would have been raised to a level of $54.08 to $57.36. So those are the facts.
The Government is squeezing people out of the benefits of this scheme by freezing the income band which provides eligibility for the people who want to draw on the scheme. Of course, the people who are drawing on the scheme represent an even more despairing group of socially and economically deprived people. The Minister referred to a cost increase from $6m to $9m, but as my colleague the honourable member for Bendigo reminded me a few moments ago, the estimate of the Government when the scheme was amended a few months after it was first proposed exceeded Slim so in fact the Government” is making an obvious saving here. I want to say something about that soon. Finally, the simple form and the single certificate will not solve this problem. As the honourable member for Bendigo said, we need a universal health insurance scheme to do this. After a bare 18 months the scheme for subsidised health insurance cover for low income earners is a shambles. It is, characteristically, extravagantly expensive for the taxpayer and at the same time a dismal failure as a vehicle for the provision of insurance cover for low income earners. Fewer than 4 families out of every 100 low income families entitled to draw on this scheme have done so. Only one out of 5 migrants and 2 out of 5 unemployment and sickness beneficiaries, similarly entitled to draw on this scheme, have done so. Only the stout-hearted would persevere with the complexity of procedures necessary to obtain benefits under the scheme.
What is not appreciated are the grave cultural factors at work which deter people from drawing on the benefits of this scheme. It is because of this that the sort of concept that the Government has in mind, even in its amended form, will fail, and I repeat that it is because of this we need a universal scheme which will automatically give these people cover.
I want to refer quickly to cost because this is an important aspect. According to the annual report of the Department of Health the scheme cost marginally over $7m. In fact, if fully utilised, its cost would have exceeded $ 14.7m. This costing is on the assumption that utilisation rates of hospital and medical services by low income earners is consistent with average rates in the community. In fact, what evidence is available suggests that the health needs of these people are probably greater than the community mean for the simple reason that social and economic disadvantages cause these needs to be neglected and to worsen. In any event, the cost to the Government, covering the equivalent of fund benefit payments, if its scheme had been fully taken up by those it was supposed to help, would have exceeded $10m - a substantially greater sum than that disclosed in the annual report of the Department of Health. To this must be added the portion of medical costs met by patients - at least $2.9m. Then there must also be added contribution rates to health insurance funds borne by classes B and C of the low income categories. This would be a further $1.8m.
I repeat: The true cost of this scheme, not including the Commonwealth medical and hospital subsidies, is in excess of $14.7m. lt is readily seen, therefore, that there has been a substantial bonus for the Government in making its scheme so complex, under-publicised and odiously related to a public means testing inquiry to establish beyond all doubt that the recipient is a failure in our society according to prevailing values.
Let me contrast this with Labor’s proposals. Our universal health insurance plan is well publicised. I deal only with the aspects of subsidised protection for low income earners. For a cost in 1970-71 of about $4.6m, Labor’s scheme would fully meet the cost of all contributions for all low income families with one or more dependants on a taxable income of up to $1,730. In approximate terms, this means a husband supporting a wife and one child on actual income of $2,250 would be fully covered by our programme. An allowance of actual annual income of $156 would be allowed for each additional child. The following table outlines some examples of the comparative situation for low income earners under Labor’s programme viz-a-viz the Government’s scheme. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate it in Hansard.
Let me put the comparison in a nutshell. Labor’s scheme will cost about one-third of the Government’s scheme for subsidised health insurance, but it will cover nearly twice as many families - about 325,000 families. The total cost of Labor’s scheme includes an assumption, in making calculations, that there will be as high a degree of doctor participation in billing the proposed health insurance commission direct for services rendered to low income beneficiaries as the Canadian health insurance programme has enjoyed in general support from doctors. In fact, however, insofar as medical services are concerned under this programme one would expect that doctors would bill the commission direct in 100 per cent of such cases. Accordingly the figure for cost of Labor’s scheme over-
states the true level. There would be no odious, prying means testing. Contributions would be made for employees by employers on a system similar to the pay as you earn income tax system. Therefore, any family with at least one dependant with a taxable income below $1,730 would be automatically exempted from contributing but would have full access for free public or standard ward hospital treatment and for medical services from a private doctor of the patient’s choosing, Importantly, those most luckless of all Australians - the Aborigines - would be fully covered.
In sum, then, the Government’s subsidised health insurance scheme has failed miserably. It is a cruel - parody at the expense of deprived and disadvantaged minority groups. It is a further symptom of the inappropriateness and of the excessively costly and inefficient so called voluntary health insurance scheme which the Government is determined to impose on the public at too great expense to contributors and taxpayers in terms of the services offered.
-This debate is typical of the Opposition’s approach to social problems. It can be summed up as ‘Let Big Brother do it’. If one is prepared to ignore long experience of the costs and results of over-centralised administration and the facts of human nature one can make a plausible case for a compulsory comprehensive medical care programme. But reality destroys this superficially plausible case. Take Britain, for example. In theory the capitation system of medical care - a system I am sure the Labor Party would like to introduce here, despite its denials - should encourage preventive treatment and improve genera! medical care. In practice it does no such thing, as the many refugees from Britain’s health scheme now living in Australia will attest. The problem of how to lift people living near the poverty line out of that state is one that is vexing all affluent societies. We must somehow break the cult of poverty. We must help these people to help themselves, not merely to wait for another government handout. The subsidised health benefits plan is fully in accordance with these principles.
Low-income families make application to the Department of Social Services where eligibility is assessed and a certificate issued. They then present this certificate to a fund where they are enrolled as members and accredited with all or part of their contributions. The date of eligibility is the date the application is lodged with the Department of Social Services. On each occasion they incur medical or hospital expenses they submit a claim to their fund in the normal way. I submit that these are reasonable requirements. I accept that many of the low-income families are poorly educated and some must perhaps be helped in taking these steps, but this is much better than converting it into another government handout. The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) made much play of the low proportion of those eligible who are receiving benefits. It is worth while examining these figures in a little more detail. When the graduated scheme was introduced in July 1970 it was estimated that 184,000 families would be eligible for assistance. As the Minister pointed out, these estimates were based on taxation statistics for the income year 1966-67 as those were the latest figures available at the time. The figures represented the maximum number of lowincome families which could become eligible for the assistance available. Since then, the income levels of eligibility for assistance have been adjusted to keep pace with the cost of living. Yet, the effect of the rising prosperity of this country is that the number estimated to qualify for this assistance fell to 152,000 in 1968-69 and may well have fallen to 125,000 by 1970-71. I should have thought that this evidence of a reduction in poverty would have delighted the honourable member for Oxley, but he seems to conceal his pleasure very well.
A further factor is that free hospital and medical treatment is available in Queensland. Families in that State, therefore, would not need to enrol under the subsidised health benefits plan. This would reduce the estimated number of eligible families to about 110,000 instead of 180,000 as mentioned by the honourable member for Bendigo. Still, I do not suppose that he will be too worried about an error of 40 per cent.
Why have not all of the 1 10,000 eligible persons applied for assistance? The answer seems to lie in the nature of the people whom the plan is designed to assist. They do not apply for assistance until they need medical or hospital care. It is probable that a large number of eligible families have not applied for assistance because they have not needed hospital or medical treatment. This view is supported by the fact that only 30 per cent of contributors insured with hospital benefits fund in the normal way claim benefits in any one year. Hospital treatment would be the greatest cost incurred by low income families as they would be accustomed to receiving medical treatment in the out-patient’s departments of public hospitals and most probably would continue to do so. These people therefore would not seek assistance until they were hospitalised. The Government is paying the insurance funds the costs of benefits actually paid rather than paying contributions. Because of this fact, if an eligible but unregistered low income earner is hospitalised his benefits are paid without the normal waiting period of 2 months imposed by the funds.
One recommendation of the Nimmo Committee which was not accepted by the Government concerned additional assistance for large families. The Government decided finally that health insurance should not be used as the vehicle for assistance to large families because other welfare measures such as taxation concessions and child endowment currently provide assistance of this nature. On the other hand, the Government extended the recommendations of the Nimmo Committee to cover persons receiving unemployment, sickness or special benefits through the Department of Social Services and to migrants during their first 2 months in Australia. Unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries do not need to make application; they are issued with a certificate automatically. However, they must present their certificate to a fund to receive the assistance available.
This is a good scheme and a fair scheme. We must continue our efforts to ensure that all who are eligible are aware of their eligibility, probably through greater use of social workers, charitable organisations and other appropriate welfare groups. We must not fall into the trap, which the Opposition evidently finds so seductive, of making this another welfare State handout. The mentality which would result from such a policy would in the long nin be to the detriment both of the community and of the individuals concerned. The present policy, suitably publicised, is much to be preferred.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to reply briefly to a few points raised by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) who has just resumed his seat. He said that the Opposition’s move is a sign of the let Big Brother do it’ philosophy.-. I have not time to quote in great detail from the speech made by the then honourable member for Corio on 4th May 1938 when introducing into this House the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill, which is still on the statute book but has never been proclaimed, in which he extolled this very concept of the Government taking on a national health insurance scheme for all wage earners.
– That was old Dick Casey.
– That is right; it was Richard Casey, then Federal Treasurer. Such an important matter was it that he was granted 2 extensions of time. He spoke for an hour and a half. The Bill sought to carry out the pledge of the Tory Government and would have provided for what has been done in every other progressive country. This scheme was never accepted because of reasons which honourable members know full well. They have seen them stated in circulars from the organisation of people seeking the abolition of the means test. One reason was that the financial group put pressure on the Lyons Government, to its great embarrassment. This was a group in Melbourne-
– Of private insurance ‘ companies.
– Yes, finance people. The group was known as the Temple Court group, Temple Court being a building in Collins Street which housed finance firms and other large businesses. In great embarrassment the Government backed down. At that time, letters appeared in the Press signed ‘Pro Bono Publico’ and ‘Mother of 10’, which were submitted* by Professor Bridgen who had been commissioned by the Government to sell this great insurance scheme to the public and then had to turn around and tell the public that the scheme was no good. All sorts of difficulties, including financial and defence difficulties, were said to be in the way. Any reason was advanced except the Big Brother philosophy, which has been expounded today as the reason for opposition to the Australian Labor Party’s similar proposition.
The honourable member for Isaacs suggests that we give more attention to enrolling people by the use of social workers and charitable agencies In the course of our research, the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) has arranged to have some of these social workers contacted at leading hospitals in Australia. Other welfare organisations have also been contacted. They say that the use of these people will not work and is an unjustified use of the valuable time of social workers. How are these people to process the claims of 180,000 people or 120,000 people who may contact them? Some of them are itinerant workers, Aboriginal workers or rural workers. How are they to contact them to tell them about this scheme? The result is that about 2 per cent of those eligible enrol. Six per cent of people in the class A category - they are the people who are granted full membership without any waiting period - enrolled, but only 1 per cent of class B persons - that is, those who have to pay part of the membership charges themselves and who therefore must wait for 2 months to become eligible for benefits - enrolled.
Why would 6 per cent of one group which has no waiting period enrol and only 1 per cent of the other group, for which a waiting period of 2 months is required, enrol? Why did 6 times as many in group A enrol? The reason is that when a patient goes to a hospital, the person assessing that patient for means test purposes in most States asks the patient about his or her income and, if he or she is eligible, asks the patient to join this scheme so that the patient will receive the benefits. But the stay of most people in hospital is less than 3 weeks. The situation with respect to those who must serve a waiting period of 2 months is quite hopeless, so they do not bother to enrol. This is proof of the failure of the scheme.
Migrants face the additional, problem of language. No more than 25 per cent of eligible migrants enrol. Probably most of those who enrol are from Great Britain which provides us with more than one quarter of our migrants. A brief reference is made to this scheme in 2 pamphlets put out by the Department of Immigration. The pamphlets are written in several languages and are of help to those who face a language problem. But if these people mislay their pamphlets, heaven help them when they reach Australia because the Department of Health provides information written in one language only, English. Some of these migrants file the information away or throw it away because they cannot read the cards on which the information is provided.
With regard to Aborigines the honourable member for Bendigo referred to a scheme in Western Australia. I am indebted to the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwan) who obtained details of this scheme for me. Under the scheme in Western Australia that Government gave the AMA £9,000 a year to provide free services for fringe dwelling Aborigines in the south-west of that State. That amount covered about 35 per cent of fees owing to doctors. At the end of a year the doctors would total the amounts owing to them by Aborigines and, as I said, the return on fees owing was about 35 per cent. That grant was raised to $20,000. That scheme was discontinued by the State Government when the subsidised medical scheme was introduced. The State Government said that the Aborigines would be all right as the Federal Government would make them members of medical funds, but it did not work out that way.
The AMA contacted the State Government and the State Government contacted the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health in Canberra stating that it was not working and with the request that the Commonwealth continue to subsidise Western Australia under the scheme whereby it provided medical services to Aborigines. The Commonwealth said: ‘Oh no, the scheme was never intended to cover these people because some of the Aborigines might be earning too much and they would not come within the provisions of the scheme. We cannot do it that way.’ There was a lot of correspondence and consultations between the Department of Native Welfare and the Department of Health in Western Australia, the AMA and the Commonwealth departments concerned. I have no doubt that the Minister will be very happy 1o table this correspondence for the information of honourable members. If not the AMA has assured us that it will provide it.
I cannot deal with every section of the community involved in this scheme or the problems which are involved. The problems are multiple. The people I am referring to very often do not have the educational or intellectual capacity, the time, the money or the emotional serenity because of their poverty to go into the Department of Social Services and work out their average earnings. Some of them could be unemployed for a major part of the year. They cannot work out their gross earnings over a year. They do not know whether they are eligible to receive benefits, under the Government scheme. When they go to the Department of Social Services and get their cards a lot of them turn up at the doctors’ surgeries, hand in their cards and say T am entitled to free treatment.’ But the doctors say: ‘You cannot bring this card here. You have to go to the fund.’ These people cannot comprehend this. They cannot comprehend why they have to put in a claim for the medical services to a medical fund, bring the cheque back and give it to the doctor and obtain a receipt. Why all this rot? This whole scheme is not an insurance scheme; it is a misnomer because in these circumstances the funds are merely acting as enrolling agents for the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth pays the whole benefit on the doctor’s fee. The beneficiary who does not pay his contribution to a medical fund and who is not required to undergo a waiting period is covered by the Commonwealth not only for the Commonwealth benefit but also for the fund benefit. We have this Big Brother attitude that was condemned by the honourable member for Isaacs. Why riot do it in a simple way? We could give a person a medical entitlement card straight off, as is done when a person becomes a pensioner. Is it wrong for Big Brother to help someone in a simple . way to cut through red tape and prevent unnecessary expense? Hundreds of thousands of dollars a year are going into the private, funds to administer the exchange of a piece of paper which should never have been printed and which should never have been necessary. The machinery of this scheme is in collapse. J do not have sufficient time in this debate to quote specific examples but I will attempt to-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Opposition has introduced this matter of public importance in these terms consisting of exactly 8 words:
The failure of the Government’s subsidised medical scheme.
It is really not possible to single out any particular area and divorce it from the total medical scheme which has been introduced over the years by this Government. The present medical scheme has been in operation only since 1970 - last year. The figures indicate that the scheme now covers a very large number of people. In this Budget it is estimated that an amount of $504.6m will be expended this year on health services over a wide range of activities in assisting the people of Australia to overcome their health problems which is, as everybody will admit, a great responsibility not only of the Commonwealth Government but also of the State governments, which have their part to play in the overall health of the people of Australia. The Commonwealth does its part in making available this large amount of money through many avenues to assist the people of Australia.
The Government’s subsidised health benefit plan now under debate is, I believe, a part of that overall responsibility. One could not expect that all those eligible for assistance under the scheme would enrol in the first year or in the first 2 years of its operation. Obviously in a new scheme in a large nation such as ours it takes some time before the people become aware of the benefits to which they are entitled. My own experience in this field is that those people who have not taken the opportunity to participate in this scheme until such time as they have gone into hospital - ‘having found out at that point of time that they were entitled to participate in the scheme - have been extremely pleased to learn that the scheme was available to them.
The Government has for some time spent quite a considerable amount of money in an endeavour to bring to the notice of the people of this country the provision of this scheme. I have no doubt that the Government will continue to disseminate this information and that in time people will take advantage of the provisions of this plan. In 1970-71 the Commonwealth paid out S6.9m under the scheme and it is estimated that it will pay out $9.7m in 1971-72. So it can be seen that there has been a substantial increase in the amount of money to be paid out by the Commonwealth for improved health services.
Mention was made of where hospitals lit into this plan. One honourable member on the other side said too much work would be involved in ascertaining the position of social workers. 1 have no doubt that the hospitals welcome this scheme. They welcome it with open arms because it assists them. Of course, h assists the patients of those hospitals. This scheme was designed to assist the needy people of Australia. But at the same time 1 point out that the people involved in treating patients in hospitals throughout Australia would no doubt also benefit from the provisions of this scheme. This plan is an extension of the medical services in this country. From what I know of it I have no doubt that it is worth while and it will continue to be worth while. The scheme has been upgraded in the one year that it has been in operation. The amount of money available in the 3 categories of eligibility for assistance has been increased. I have no doubt that the Government will from time to time make adjustments to this scheme.
I am sure that this scheme will be much sought after by those people who are eligible to receive benefits. A matter which is a worry to many people in Australia, especially the family man, is the cost of health services. This scheme is designed to help families which are in a low income bracket. When these people realise that this scheme is available to them I do not doubt that they will take advantage of it because the cost of health services is a great worry lo the people of Australia. The Budget this year, like those which preceded it, has been designed to help those in need. That is the first obligation of this Government as I see it. In relation to pensioners this is so. In many other areas where an amount of money is made available each year by the Commonwealth and also, I believe, by the States it is a fact of life that the object is to assist those people in the greatest need. Surely the health service which we are debating this afternoon is one in which we should assist those who need assistance. It is a very practical operation to do just that.
I have not as yet heard from tha Opposition a real argument for raising this ques tion this afternoon. As I have stated previously, the figures indicate to me that there has been a considerable lift in Commonwealth expenditure from $6.9m in the first year to an estimated $9.7m in the second year. If it continues to lift at this rate and those eligible take up the opportunities under the plan and apply in greater numbers, as is obviously happening at the moment, then no doubt this is a plan which is working. It helps people who want help so surely it is worth persevering with it. Would the Opposition deny these people, the low income earners in the community, the right to obtain assistance? Would it deny them the right to have access to a scheme such as this?
Whether the scheme is being used to its full extent at the moment is another question altogether. The fact Ls that it is being made available by the Commonwealth together with many other health benefits throughout the country. The system under which this Parliament operates, as has been shown over the years, requires that all Acts of Parliament must be brought up to date from time to time. This is what Parliament is all about. Acts of Parliament are passed for the benefit of the people, and if there are areas in which these Acts are not doing what they are intended to do the Government will bring in Bills to amend them accordingly. This is part of the Government’s responsibility. The basis for this proposal is very sound and if there are areas in which it should be adjusted I have no doubt that the Government will bring an amending Bill into this House - as it has done, as I have mentioned already, within one year. The Government has adjusted the rates of income within which people receiving those incomes may apply, and this sort of adjustment to any Act is part of Parliament’s operation and part of the Government’s responsibility. The main thing is that the real basis of any Act must be sound and from my experience as a member of this House I believe that this Act is sound. It can assist many people and many families throughout Australia who need assistance.
– Order! This discussion has now concluded.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - For some time past now, the Government has been examining the role of nursing homes in caring for the sick aged, their financial position and the extent of Commonwealth financial assistance for all nursing home patients. Over the past five years, the number of nursing home beds has increased from about 33,000 to about 47,000. There is no doubt that this has resulted in a very significant improvement in the care of the sick aged in Australia. The financial assistance provided by the Commonwealth for nursing home patients, which amounted to nearly $50m in 1970-71, has been an important factor contributing to the growth of these homes and to the overall raising of standards of care. The assistance to be provided to those people requiring nursing home care is an extraordinarily complex question . involving consideration of the differing needs and circumstances of patients in various types of homes. These homes are run by State governments as well as by religious and charitable organisations and by private proprietors.
As I have indicated, the present arrangements relating to the care of, and assistance to, those requiring nursing home treatment have been under review for some time. We are continuing this review with the aim of introducing new long term arrangements as soon as it is practicable to do so. This, of course, will include consultation with State governments as necessary. We recognise that the recent steep increases in running costs, notably in nurses’ salaries, has placed many people in an extremely difficult financial position. Those homes relying largely on Commonwealth assistance to patients through benefits or pensions have been hit particularly hard. We have therefore decided, as an interim - measure, to increase nursing home benefits to take effect as soon as the necessary legislation is passed by Parliament and assented to. Benefits for patients receiving ordinary nursing home care will be increased from $2 a day to $3.50 a day or $24.50 a week. Benefits for patients receiving intensive care will be increased from $5 a day to $6.50 a day or $45.50 a week. The cost of these increases will be approximately $24m in a full year. The cost in 1971-72, which will depend on the date of assent to the amending legislation to give effect to the new legislation, will be of the order of $12m to $14m.
This action is being taken in accordance with the Government’s overall policy of assisting the sick and the aged wherever areas of need exist. Nursing home benefits are only one of the many provisions made by the Commonwealth to help aged persons, and the increase in benefits is to be seen in the context of the substantial assistance we are providing in other ways. I refer to such measures as the age pension and related payments, assistance with aged persons housing and assistance provided through our home care programme. Within the limits necessarily imposed by available resources, it is the policy of the Government to improve progressively the welfare of elderly citizens. I present the following paper:
Commonwealth Assistance for Nursing Home Patients - Ministerial Statement, 5 October 1971.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– It is quite clear that some improvement had to be made in the subsidy rate which is made available to nursing homes and, of course, it is equally clear that not only had this improvement to be made for the Government and the non-profit making sector but also for the profit making private sector which provides these sorts of services. The simple fact of the current situation is that if the private sector were to substantially close down, as has been claimed by some representatives of that sector, there would be a number of unfortunate patients who would have to go to one does not know where, and that is something which gives one a great deal of concern. Accordingly, more money had to be provided. What is interesting however is the fact that the National Health Bill, which was to have been debated last week, has been withdrawn and, at this point, is in a state of suspension while the situation is ironed out within the Government ranks. It appears that this is further evidence of the division, fragmentation, disputation and general beligerence that members of the Government are displaying to one another in contemporary times.
I should like to raise some questions about the general concept behind nursing homes because I am far from satisfied that the way in which these services are being conducted is the best way for the community. I am far from satisfied, too, that what has been proposed tonight is a satisfactory answer to the problem of the general provision of services for the aged and invalid. It has sometimes been asserted by Government spokesmen in recent times that Australia has one of the highest provisions in the world of nursing home beds to population. On the face of it, that is an impressive statement. But is it in fact so impressive? I shall deal with why we have this high rate of nursing home beds in a few minutes, but it seems to me that there is mounting evidence that such a high rate of provision may very well be deleterious to the wellbeing, the good health and to the future prospects of aged people. It may well be, and there is substantial evidence in support of (his view, that a high rate of investment in nursing home beds in the community leads to a tendency to institutionalise aged people and to push them into beds and leave them there. This applies especially in a situation - this is not true in all cases - where there is an underdevelopment or no development of nursing services to stimulate the interest of - aged people who resort to these sorts of places. If we are to effectively develop nursing home services for the community, we must back them up with a range of other services, such as hostels. It has been estimated that an adequate provision of hostels, for instance, can reduce the demand on nursing home beds by about 20 per cent, lt is obviously cheaper to operate good standard hostels than to load everyone into nursing home beds with, I repeat, the tendency to institutionalise the aged people and to create an unnecessary deterioration in their health.
It seems to me that there is a need to provide special finance for family units so that families can extend their homes by the building of self-contained in-law units. By this means there may be a tendency in our community to get back to the extended family unit. One of the sad facts of our society has been, firstly, the breakdown of the extended family unit and, secondly, as can be seen today, the breakdown of the nuclear family unit. This has grave implications for us, but by providing special finance the family unit can be maintained. By this means, we will avoid institutionalising these aged people.
Of course, with domiciliary services, we go well beyond hostels and into the field of home visitors, home maker services, home nursing services and perhaps even to visiting chiropodists. A home visitor can visit these lonely old people and keep them buoyed up, interested in their society and in their environment and so help to delay the erosion of age which otherwise could lead to them suffering mental degeneration and eventual incarceration in some sort of home where there is no stimulation or interest for them.
I mentioned earlier that I would raise the question of the significant rate of private enterprise which is operating in the field of nursing home services. From the figures available from the annual report of the Commonwealth Department of Health it is to be noted that between the years 1963 and 1971 there has been an increase of one-third in the number of public homes and one-quarter in the number of private homes. But what is more significant is the increase in the provision of beds because in that respect the situation has changed rather radically. The increase in the provision of beds in the public homes has been about one-third but in the private homes it has been more than 100 per cent. Of course, what has taken place is that people are moving out of private hospitals because they are too expensive to run now - they are not profitable. Increasingly they are sending their more difficult and more expensive to maintain cases to the public hospitals and are shifting into private nursing homes as a matter of private enterprise and as a matter of profit making. For many people this has been a particularly profitable venture. I have grave doubts whether in our society health or welfare services should be part of the profit making system.
Megan Stoyles, in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 8th June 1971, quotes the case where company-run nursing homes - private nursing homes - in their advertisements seeking subscriptions have offered dividends of up to 20 per cent. This seems an abnormally high rate, lt seems to indicate that these private homes, at least in some cases, are extremely rewarding investments. Again, one has concern about the standards of service which are offered by some of these private homes. I have no doubt that some of them are offering a very high standard of service, but some are not. Some are offering a very grim and depressing sort of condition for the people who are virtually incarcerated in their surroundings.
– Nam,: them.
– 1 take the case of the New South Wales Nurses Association and its published claims, which 1 will enumerate for the honourable member for Griffith. The pensioner patients are refused admission in most private nursing homes. Only 20 per cent of private nursing homes take pensioner patients if they have no other income. Other homes require an additional payment of $12 to $84 a week above the pension and above the nursing home subsidy. So quite obviously these sorts of homes are beyond the resources of these people.
There is a skimping on staff. For example, nurses are doing domestic and kitchen hands work at various times. Patients are frequently left in bed to develop bed sores and they are neglected when they wet the bed. Who is attracted to these services, anyway, in the nursing staff area when salaries are about SO per cent greater for nurses who enter the public hospital services? The New South Wales Council for the Aging, in a survey, found that 10 per cent of nursing homes are unsatisfactory. Miss V. Henlen, the Secretary of the New South Wales Nurses Association, is on record as saying:
Reports we get suggest for every good home there is a bad one - one for one.
Then we have the article written by two journalists, Bottom and Quayle, which appeared in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 10th June 1971. They commented on nursing homes and how good are the services provided by the Government for aged people. The attitude of the Liberal Government seems to be that if we provide a few dollars and shove these people out of the way we can forget them because we take the pressure off our backs from the private nursing home lobby. I would like to read to the House 2 quotes from this article which are significant. The journalists are referring to an old woman and state:
For she became a profitable unit in one of Sydney’s not-so-kindly nursing homes. In this case, a home which was more like a geriatric factory, a house of lingering death, exploited and neglected by profiteering management
A good example of how some homes skimp on food for their inmates is provided by statistics given by the matron of one home to the New South Wales Nurses Association.
To feed 60 patients, plus staff the weekly meal, order amounted to a mere 2 legs of hogget. 40 lb of mince, 40 chops and 40 sausages.
All in all, probably enough for a wholesome meal for 60 people at one sitting.
But how do you stretch 40 chops and 40 sausages into sufficient meals over 7 days?
That is the sort of service we ought ro be talking about. We should be talking about the deplorable conditions which were raised recently at a social medicine seminar at a hospital in Melbourne where it was reported that aged people have returned to hospitals from private nursing homes suffering extreme neglect. For instance, their teeth had not been cleaned and their toe nails, which were curling right back into their toes, were in a mess. They were suffering pressure sores and it was well known, of course, that when some of these unfortunate patients who were approaching senility wet the bed they had been left to lie in those sorts of conditions. These are deplorable conditions for people to exist in, in the sort of society that we have at the moment. We can afford far better conditions. We can afford to spend a lot more money on people. We spend too much damn time worrying about how much profit we will make and what sort of progress society will make by measuring this progress in crude material terms and forgetting about the fundamental reason for society and civilisation - that is to preserve the right, the dignity and the self-respect of human beings. This situation is deplorable to me also because any one of us could eventually end up in this sort of situation.
These are the sorts of challenges that 1 hoped the Prime Minister would confront tonight. I hoped that he would indicate how his Government would apply conditions which would prevent this sort of thing happening, not in 12 months time, but in the next few weeks. Let me move on quickly to the people who argue about the return they are getting from the private homes. I am not loo sure just how unprofitable or otherwise these private homes are. I have no doubt that some homes are unprofitable, but on the sort of evidence Miss Stoyles has produced in her excellent series of articles on nursing homes it is quite clear that at least not so long ago, and probably currently, many nursing home services have been particularly profitable. There is, however, a reason why some nursing home services have hot been profitable. This is related to a matter of economies of scale. According to the article which Miss Stoyles has written, the average number of beds in nursing homes is about twenty-nine. That number, on the sort of statement made by Mr Stuart L. Kerry, who is the Superintendent of the Presbyterian Social Service Department, which appeared in the journal Social Service’ of May/ June 1970, is a quite insufficient provision for homes if minimum costs are going to be covered. He quotes:
Nursing homes may be run at present as an economic unit provided they have 40 or more beds. It may be possible to make smaller nursing homes pay but where, as wilh most voluntary organisations, you are catering largely for pensioners, it is generally not possible to break even with less than 40 beds, unless the nursing home has a fair proportion of intensive care patients.
The point is, of course, that if nonprofitmaking organisations cannot make it pay it is quite clear that profitmaking organisations would be in a far more difficult position. We get to a sort of dairy industry situation where the least efficient units are demanding that they be recognised as a basis on which profitability should be established so that the very profitable organisations - the bigger ones and the company groups - are the ones that will derive generous rewards- from any sort of substantial increase in the sort of benefits which will be provided.
I want to raise another question. I refer to the proposal to increase the subsidy for the intensive care patients. It has been asserted quite bluntly in the paper I referred to from the seminar on social medicine in Melbourne held only a week or so ago - and I am prepared to provide a copy of it for the information of the Prime Minister - that at some nursing homes there is evidence of aged people who have been sedated so that the intensive care subsidy will continue for them. This is a scandalous situation. I want to make it clear that I do not believe that this is happening in all cases but it is certainly happening in some cases. What ought to be done to prevent that sort of thing is the introduction of a rapidly accelerated programme of getting intensive care patients out of these homes into government institutions or perhaps into non-profitmaking homes run by churches and other charitable groups so that this sort of deplorable practice can be eliminated.
I am of the opinion in any event that in the long term we ought to try to establish an adequate provision of nursing homes in the public sector and in the nonprofitmaking private sector, backed up by domiciliary services on a comprehensive basis in the community plus hostels so that there will be no opportunity for these scavengers in the nursing home business, and 1 would hope that they are only a minority. However, on the evidence I have quoted, they seem to be a substantial number who have been exploiting unfortunate aged people and who, additionally, have been exploiting their relations. In many cases relations have been forced to pay anything from $12 to $80 extra a week to keep aged people in these homes. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the Prime Minister for his courtesy in this respect. I want to come to the question of just how helpful the proposed increases in the subsidy for nursing homes will be. For instance, the increase of $1.50 a day over the current rate for general bed subsidies will amount to an additional $10.50 a week. But on the sort of figures I. ha ve been able to take out, I find, for instance, that in the case of South Australia, Matron Blundell is quoted in the ‘Advertiser’ of 18th September 1971 as saying that . relatives are paying upwards - and- 1 want to stress the word ‘upwards’ - of $20 a week.
– And more.
– ‘Upwards’ means ‘and more’. Relatives are paying upwards of $20 a week above the pension rate, the supplementary assistance and the daily bed subsidy in order to keep age people in homes. This means that they still have to raise $7.50 a week to meet the cost. But what is obvious is that many of these nursing homes will take the opportunity, as soon as this increase is granted, to up their charges. They have been complaining that they are in a fairly difficult financial position. I suspect that this increase will mean no relief at all for many - if not all - people who are in the private profit making sector of nursing homes. I repeat that this is no way in which these services ought to be provided.
Earlier I started to mention - I curtailed it because I suspected that I would have to conclude my speech - the sort of development of services which is absolutely essential, in my opinion, if we are going to be responsible and humane in our approach not only to the needs but also the rights of every human being in our society. I am talking about aged people. I should like to go beyond the bland statement of the development of domiciliary services and the bland or general statement of the provision of nursing homes in the government sector, the non-profit making sector, and talk about the additional services which should be provided. I refer to services such as health physiotherapy, occupational therapy, chiropody and a range of other services that should be provided for aged people so that in fact they wilt keep an interest; so that they will not degenerate into vegetables, but will have a sort of dynamic interest in what is going on around them in their society.
I suppose that one of the most depressing experiences one can have is to go into some of these nursing homes and see how aged people are virtually being turned into vegetables because they have been stuffed into a bed in a sort of geriatric factory - as Bottom and Quayle, the gentlemen to whom I referred earlier, called them - and neglected. In the bed these people represent an income unit and this is what some of the people running these homes are interested in. If we apply these sorts of standards to these people and increasingly demand that they meet a high standard in the provision of these services, at a time when we are improving the provision of services or expanding’ the provision of services given by the public and non-profit making sector, I am confident that we will practically eliminate these people who have latched on to this system not out of any sense of dedication or commitment to their own fellow man but purely because it has been a good money .making operation.
I should like to have seen before us some sort of information which was an analysis of the cost of operation and the profitability of private nursing homes of various sizes in different parts of the Commonwealth because I want to hark back to some of the figures which I quoted quickly before. It is quite clear that many of the private nursing homes are altogether too small to operate successfully and to provide the sort of economies which will allow them to meet costs unless they are in fact heavily subsidised. I quoted the case of the Presbyterian minister, who has had considerable experience in this field, who says that nonprofit making nursing homes have to provide at least 40 beds, yet the average size is only 29 beds. We have glibly gone into this field and provided this extra amount of about $24m in a full year. But it is not our money; it is the taxpayers money. The services to be provided with that money are for a special section in the community who have rights as well as needs. We ought to be ensuring two things. The first is that those rights and needs are being maintained at a high level and protected at that level and, secondly, that when we spend the taxpayers money we do so in the most efficient way. I frankly cannot believe that the provision of private nursing homes based on a profit making concept is the most efficient way in which to use public money. I reiterate as a purely personal view, that the provision of these services should not be in the profit making sector of the community. Health and welfare should be a public responsibility. If people want to go to private nursing homes they ought to be allowed that right, but we ought to make sure that they are not squeezed into that sector, as is obviously the situation now when one makes an analysis of the provision of these nursing homes, as indicated by the statistics provided in the annual report of the Department of Health.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19 August (vide page 361), on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bil! be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure in regard to this legislation.
-Order! I have appealed, 1 think, twice tonight for a little quiet in the chamber. I will not give another warning; I shall name those honourable members who are continuously offending.
– Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Bill, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Bill and the Apple and Pear Organization Bill as they are related measures. Separate questions may of course be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 4 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-If it is the wish of tha House for that course to be followed I will permit it to be followed.
– The principal objective of this legislation is to implement a stabilisation scheme which in effect will support the returns or incomes of apples and pear growers for a period of 5 years commencing with the 1971 crop. The Opposition will not oppose the Bill because it at least improves the position crf the apple and pear growers who are directly dependent on the industry, as well as that of the general business community and the work force indirectly dependent on the prosperity of the industry.
As honourable members well know, this is a most vital industry to certain regions of Australia and in particular to the State of Tasmania. However, the Opposition will move certain amendments. The amendment to the second reading, which I move now, is as follows:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: while not opposing the Bill, this House is of the opinion that e single national marketing authority should be established which will be the sole authority responsible for the export marketing of Australian apples and pears and which’ will administer, in conjunction with the Commonwealth, a well formulated apple and pear stabilisation scheme’.
In the Committee stage the Opposition will also move 2 amendments dealing with the price support scheme and the actual rate of stabilisation or the relationship of the maximum of 80c per bushel and the level of 4.4 million bushels to that proportion of total sales of apples and pears sold at risk. I have been associated in one way or another with stabilisation schemes for a long time, but this is the first stabilisation scheme that I have seen which is loose or perhaps risky in its application. The basic principles of administration and acquisition by a strong statutory marketing authority just do not exist in the scheme.
The Government in its weakness - it seems to be getting weaker every day as regards primary industry - instead of implementing a strong stabilisation scheme based on the solid foundation of a single statutory marketing authority, has obviously compromised with those people who are opposed to stabilisation. They are principally, those who have vested interests in export licences as well as those who apparently do not want to lose any power or influence in the marketing system. Instead of having a strong single marketing authority the Government has implemented a scheme in which we will see the uncoordinated buying and selling of apples and pears, dominated by as many as 19 licensed operators in Tasmania operating either independently of one another or in collusion. Although in recent days there has been a decision to form a consortium, because of the decision of the Board that only one licence be granted for export from Tasmania there is still a grave element of doubt as to the effectiveness of the operation of such a scheme, when one compares it ‘ with, for example, a single statutory marketing authority such as the Australian Wheat Board and others in the same category.
Nevertheless this consortium, speaking with one voice as the agent of the Board, will certainly improve the position compared with that in Tasmania with 19 separate licensed exporters all going their own separate ways. But still it would be far better - the Opposition cannot hammer this point more - if the Government had acted strongly and had adopted the principles recommended by the recent Grant inquiry for setting up a strong single statutory authority to take full responsibility for the acquisition and disposal of apples and pears. In detail what I mean by this is as follows: Firstly, what is required is a single marketing authority to acquire apples and pears and to arrange for the selling of the entire crop either by the authority itself or by licensed exporters who have acquired expertise in the selling of the crop on international markets. They would act as an agent in the same way as the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd acts as an agent for the Queensland Sugar Board in disposing of the Australian sugar crop for export under certain conditions. Secondly, the fruit acquired by a statutory marketing authority would be security for advances to growers. They would have access to Reserve Bank finance as opposed to the present method, which is a most haphazard system, whereby the exporters themselves take on the system of financing, frequently having a mortgage or a lien on the crop or even on the property and tying the owner to that particular exporting firm.
The third criterion with respect to a single statutory marketing authority would be that all fruit would be vested by title in the marketing authority. It would seem to me that under this present Act the Apple and Pear Board has no authority whatsoever to sell the crop or to have access or title to the crop. In this respect as regards a single marketing authority there would have to be some decision taken with regard to the debts which have already been mounting up and which have already tied by mortgage and other agreements the licensed exporters and individual growers. Frequently the charge is made, as my colleagues from Tasmania have often stated, that a grower who has his crop tied by lien or mortgage does not get as high a price as he might get and should get if that were not the case. Of course, this is not the only industry to which that situation applies. We hear this said frequently with respect to the wool industry.
A single marketing authority would be in a position to develop marketing schedules for export so that Australian apple and pear growers would receive the best possible prices in other countries through the intelligent regulation of the orderly flow of fruit to these markets. A single statutory marketing authority would also be able to exploit or develop new markets more effectively than under the present set-up with the relationship between the Board and this consortium. In other words, it would be speaking with one strong voice. Whether it were negotiating freight rates, special agreements or special prices in other parts of the world it would speak with one strong voice and not in the fragmented, half-baked approach this Act has in mind. The authority would have full responsibility for administering the stabilisation scheme in close consultation and collaboration with the Commonwealth. Above all, one of its main objectives, as we see it, would be the role it would play in the future in regard to planning of controlled production and realistic market demand.
In this legislation there is no evidence of any desire on the part of the Government to face the serious problems of the future with regard to reconstruction and rehabilitation. At this point of time this should be a critical objective in the fruit industry and it should be part and parcel of the legislation. There are precedents for a strong single marketing authority. We have the Australian Wheat Board which speaks with a strong and single voice in negotiating contracts, freight rates or whatever action is needed. The sugar industry which today, with the beef industry, perhaps is the most stable of all primary industries in the export field, speaks with one strong voice in negotiating. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which is the agent for the industry, is a highly organised and highly efficient body in terms of the selling of sugar. There are many - and I am one of them - who would like to see the cane producers having a greater say in the formulation of marketing policy. But this does not detract from the expertise of the selling agents.
In the tobacco industry we find a stable scheme. Let us compare these stable industries with, for example, the wool industry. This is an industry in which the lesson that must be learned is how not to market a product. If there is one factor that stands out in the way the wool industry has been crucified in recent years it is an inefficient marketing system. What puzzles me as the days go by is why this Government cannot act, and act fast, to implement a statutory authority for the acquisition of the wool clip. Here is the principle that the apple and pear stabilisation scheme must learn from. We have efficient stabilisation schemes for wheat, sugar, tobacco and other commodities but not for wool. I believe and the Opposition believes that a statutory marketing authority for the apple and pear industry would be far more efficient and effective, particularly in Tasmania, than the present legislation which was brought in by this Government.
– Do you mean for home marketing or for export marketing?
– 1 mean for export marketing. Let me explain one more principle first in discussing this apple and pear stabilisation scheme. First, although it is called a stabilisation scheme let us be quite practicable. This is not a stabilisation scheme in the sense of accepted stabilisation principles. It is in effect an income support scheme. I have no argument against having such a scheme. There is every justification for it. Devaluation compensation, for example, has been terminated. I will say a little more about this later. The apple and pear industry in Tasmania could not function unless it had some degree of income support, whether it be by devaluation compensation or by an income support scheme such as this.
The Minister no doubt will answer this, but in the determination of the support prices the puzzling aspect is: Who under this Act determines the level of support prices? They are prescribed, but one oan only assume that it must be determined by the Minister or the Government and not by a statutory authority such as the Apple and Pear Board which determines the level of support prices each season . for each variety of fruit.
– lt is the Apple and Pear Board.
– 1 find it hard to see where this is provided for in the Act, but we can discuss this later. The glaring anomaly in this scheme is in the adjustment of support prices. In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry made it very clear that in the fixation of the support prices each season those support prices would have full regard to movements in certain costs, but nowhere in this legislation is this prescribed. This same formula was used in the wheat stabilisation scheme. Chapter and verse were stated for the costs involved, and it was also stated that movements in costs would be taken into account. But under this apple and pear legislation every grower in Australia will be fully entitled to say that the support price will not increase because it does not say so in the Act. All that the Act provides is that new prices will be announced.
– It is not the Apple and Pear Board that determines the support prices. I made a mistake. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics advises me.
– But you make the decision?
– The Minister makes the decision. That is what I thought. Why is an income support scheme needed? Why is this stabilisation scheme needed? First of all, we have marked variations in the price of fruit. We find that costs are increasing whereas the net income of producers, in Tasmania in particular, is deteriorating. We see the susceptibility of price fluctuations to international marketing. We see the influence of elasticities of supply with respect to demand, which is quite clear, for example, in relation to pears. The price of pears varies inversely with the quantity exported. The devaluation of sterling by 14.3 per cent late in 1967 definitely reduced the price of apples and pears and of course definitely reduced the income earned. The second reason why the apple and pear industry must have an income support scheme is its growing dependence on export markets, particularly those where apples and pears are sold at risk. We can get an idea of this dependence on the export markets from the following figures: Tasmania accounts for 71 per cent of Australian apple exports and Western Australia accounts for 19 per cent. Sixty-nine per cent of Tasmania’s production of apples is exported, and 89 per cent of Tasmania’s production of non-canning pears is exported. These figures show the great vulnerability of Tasmania to the export market and they show why it is essential that there be some type of stabilisation or income support scheme to stabilise the incomes ‘of growers. We know how important the gross income of the apple and pear industry is to the economy of Tasmania.
This scheme, of course, will be related directly to sales at risk. It is in this respect that we are now seeing fundamental changes in the whole structure of the apple and pear industry. Over a long period of years sales at risk were approximately 35 to 40 per cent of apples exported. Now the percentage has jumped to almost 70 per cent. In some instances it is higher. With pears the Australian average is less volatile. The Australian average is around 40 to 45 per cent whereas sales at risk in Tasmania are 85 per cent.
Why are sales at risk increasing? First of all, there is increasing technology overseas, particularly in storage, and in relation to varieties and the ability to spread the sales period over a greater number of months to compete more effectively with Australia. All that this really means is a decline in forward selling, with an increase in risk sales.
In regard to the financial position of producers, as I said before, without the equivalent of devaluation compensation it is quite clear that very few growers, in Tasmania in particular, will be able to survive. It follows that, without this scheme, very few growers in Tasmania will be able to survive. If we have a look at the income position of some of the growers in Tasmania we find that over the last three or four years the net farm income of apple and pear growers in the southern part of Tasmania has averaged about $3,500, and in the north it has averaged much less - approximately $1,800. If we deduct devaluation compensation from these incomes we find a very stricken performance. In fact the average net income in the south of Tasmania would be only about $700 per annum, and in the north it would be a deficit. So it is quite obvious that apple growers in this part of Australia could not continue to function unless they had some type of income support programme. Over 90 per cent of the total gross farm returns from apples in Tasmania comes from export sale’s. That is the average received by growers.
Let us have a look at the distribution of net farm income for Tasmanian apple and pear growers. Forty-four per cent of growers earn less than $2,000 per annum. Approximately 68 per cent pf growers earn’ less than $3,000 per annum. At the other end of the scale we see that 7 per cent of growers earn in excess of $10,000 per annum. So we can appreciate the very serious position of the majority of apple and pear growers in Tasmania. The average capitalisation on farms is approximately $50,000 in Tasmania, but this capitalisation is going down, and going down fast, because of the fall in land values and the fall in the profitability in apple growing. In fact, when one takes the ra:e of return on capital one gets, in many cases, a negative figure for many growers and an average of approximately 2i per cent for the whole of Tasmania.
The Opposition also takes issue with the way the stabilisation rate is formulated. The two basic variables are really the upper limit, of 80c a bushel and what that figure applies to, which is the 4.4 million bushels- the at risk proportion. They are the two basic variables, one might say, in the formulation of the scheme. In Committee we will move that there be a review of the rate of stabilisation each season, not just a review of the support price. Circumstances could easily arise whereby the at risk figure, for example, might jump very high and there, may be justification for increasing this figure of 4.4 million bushels. There may also be justification for altering the limit of 80c because it is quite obvious to those who understand stabilisation that if the cost of production goes up rapidly, net income goes down. If freight rates, for example, rise rapidly, the net return per bushel is reduced. Suppose the support price was $3 a bushel and the final net price received was $2 a bushel. At 4.4 million bushels of export risk, for the purposes of illustration, the producer would receive the $2 plus 80c - not $1 but 80c. At 6.6 million bushels he would receive the $2 plus 53c - not $1 and not 80c. At 8.8 million bushels he would receive the $2 plus 40c - not 80c and not $1.
So it is quite obvious that the level of freight rates, the level of wages and the level of other costs will be a very important determinant not only in regard to future support prices, the final price received by the individual grower and the average return for the season but also in the actual level of the deficiency payment, as one might call it, being received by the grower himself. We can forget about the other complication of the grower having to pay into the stabilisation scheme. I am not normally a pessimist but I just cannot see the position arising where the price of apples and pears will climb so high that in fact the grower will be contributing to the stabilisation fund -that is, a true stabilisation fund; that is the point I make. In actual fact this is an income support scheme with which I have no argument whatsoever because it is justified. In terms of the upper limit of 4.4 million bushels one can see that in the next 5 years there will be an increase in apple and pear production because if I expand the theory I have been stating about the relationship of the 80c to the price of apples it is quite obvious that the bigger the grower the more he will benefit by this scheme, simply because his additional cost for each bushel grown is lower than the marginal cost of the smaller grower. It will pay him, one might say, to increase production provided his marginal return is greater than his marginal cost. This can not apply with equal force to the smaller grower and consequently we can see an encouragement in some circumstances for an increase in the production of apples particularly.
Projections are that the total production in Australia could rise to 22 million bushels. Consumption is running at 13 million or 14 million bushels. Exports will probably be 9 million or 10 million bushels. Bearing these figures in mind, if there is an increase in sales at risk there will be justification for having a good look at this upper limit Of 4.4 million bushels.
As regards future marketing prospects, today the United Kingdom is our principal export market. There are important markets in West Germany, Sweden and South East Asia, but I think one can and should assume for purposes of reconstruction and rehabilitation that the United Kingdom market is most shaky and by all accounts will probably disappear. South Africa is expanding its marketing promotion. Europe is expanding its export marketing and France and Italy, for example, are certain to increase their production of apples and pears progressively to make up the leeway which will probably occur by our loss of markets if Britain joins the European Common Market.
I think the most pertinent part of this legislation and the one with which we will deal more in the Committee stage is that relating to the fixation of the level of price support at the beginning of the season for each variety of fruit. The level has been fixed for this year but already there has been a significant increase in costs. It would seem that no provision is made in this legislation to take into account the escalation in costs which has occurred since the level of price support for individual varieties was fixed. In the view of the Opposition this is a serious deficiency in the legislation. But even more important than that is the method by which the Minister, acting on the advice of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics with respect to specific costs, will fix the level of support prices each season.
I cannot understand why the Government has obviously deliberately omitted from this Bill its intentions regarding the effect on costs of movements in price indices. The model to be looked at here is the wheat stabilisation scheme. When this new formula was introduced the Government, with the full support of the Opposition, completely threw overboard the old outmoded cost of production concept in which interest on land was having a crucifying effect on the cost of production and making a farce out of the costing procedure. At least the Government wrote into the wheat stabilisation legislation its intention regarding the fixing of the price each year. No such intention is written into this Bill and that is why in the Committee stage we will fully debate clause 7 because in the next 5 years the level of price support for each variety and the rate of stabilisation will be the key to the whole scheme. There are many other aspects with which I would like to have dealt but unfortunately I do not have time.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
– I wish to compliment the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and his predecessor, the present Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), for their long and patient endeavour until sufficient agreement was reached between the various sections of the apple and pear industry to enable this legislation to be presented. Obtaining agreement is a difficult task with any primary industry that is spread over several States. Probably no section of the industry is entirely happy ‘ with the scheme, but that is to be expected. Two distinct types of fruit, apples and pears, are being dealt with together. The areas of production are scattered around Australia. Uncertainty exists because the percentage of exports at risk varies from year to year. This has an influence on support levels.
This is a pioneer scheme, the first of its type for this industry. The Minister summed the situation up, I believe, when in his second reading speech on the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill 1971 he said: lt is intended that the scheme will give . a considerable measure of stability to the industry to assist it to examine’ its other problems and to take steps to meet them.
At this point, I disagree with the amendment that has been moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I believe that at this stage- and I emphasise the words ‘at this stage’ - the proposal that would be introduced if the amendment was carried would add confusion to complication. There is enough complication in legislation on this subject at the present time. The fact that we are dealing with 4 separate Bills and a whole schedule of varieties of fruits points to this.
I believe that the best method is to take a step at a time to sort out these complications and the inevitable problems which will arise in a pioneer scheme of this type. If this amendment was carried and a statutory marketing authority was introduced too abruptly, it could create a bigger problem and a mess in the industry which would have it worse than it is at the present time. I believe that the approach being adopted by the Minister is the correct approach. His proposal is to take one step at a time, feeling the way until each problem is sorted out. I believe that the Minister made this point very clearly when he refused a request from apple and pear growers for special financial assistance to offset the cost of freight increases. Speaking on this point, the Minister urged the industry more or less to put its house in order first before asking for further government assistance. This will mean a single selling organisation for exports, and possibly for each State. Tasmania is moving in this direction already. It will lead to a reduction in the number of brands, economies in bulk packaging, loading and so on. I believe that this in turn will strengthen the hand of apple and pear growers in their freight rate negotiations, just as the New Zealand growers have been strengthened.
The Hobart ‘Mercury’ of Saturday last stated that Tasmania will issue one licence only for exports in the 1972 season. I believe that Victoria is to hold a meeting on this subject on Wednesday week. I believe in moderation so that over-complication and confusion do not arise. The industry is moving in the right direction. Ultimately the type of statutory marketing export authority that is proposed is what the industry will have. But I believe that . it should be established by stages and not come overnight.
The amendment moved on behalf of the Labor Party by the honourable member for Dawson also seeks:
This is the vague old general principle that everything will be right the way we do it but everything you do is wrong’. But the manner in which the result will be achieved is never spelt out in detail.
– It will be through a greater marketing authority.
– That is only a general statement. It is nice, and vague although it does sound attractive. It is when the details must be spelt out - in this case 4 separate Bills have been required - that reality must be faced. A bit of reality from the point of view of the Labor Party would not hurt the whole industry.
– It is the same principle as applies to the citrus industry.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett)Order!
– It is humbug!
– If the honourable member for Riverina has problems with the citrus industry, that is his worry. This matter relates to apples and pears and-
– It is all right for the honourable member to-
-Order! The honourable member for Riverina will cease interjecting.
– Let us have some consistency.
– I am afraid that I cannot see the relevance of the citrus industry in relation to this legislation dealing with apples and pears.
As has been said, Mr Deputy Speaker, apples are the dominant export crop of the two that we are discussing tonight. 1 emphasise the words ‘that we are discussing tonight’. Apples account for approximately 80 per cent of total fresh fruit exports. Tasmania is the principal exporting State. In the Murray electorate, the Goulburn Valley area produces about 40 per cent of Victoria’s apple exports. These exports are very small in relation to those of Tasmania. I am told that Australia’s pear production approximates 9 million bushels annually. Of this total, approximately half is in the form of canned pears and half of the remaining 50 per cent - that is, 25 per cent of the total pear crop in Australia - is exported as fresh fruit. The Goulburn Valley produces about 80 per cent of Victoria’s pears and about 60 per cent of Australia’s pear exports originate there. So, the Shepparton-Kyabram-Tatura area is the dominant fresh, and canned pear export area of Australia. I wish to restrict my remarks to the section of the scheme relating to pears and to the effect that the legislation will have on the exporters of pears in the Goulburn Valley.
The people to whom I refer are not entirely happy with the failure to provide in the scheme a guarantee for pear ‘exports sold at risk’. As I said earlier, the ratio of apple to pear exports is approximately 4 to 1. This dominance of apples, coupled with the year-to-year variations in the proportion of apples sold at risk, tends to nullify the security or stability that this scheme is supposed to bring to the pear industry as well as to the apple industry. I believe the figures for 1970 show that 3.3 million bushels of apples were sold as exports at risk while 1.36 million bushels of pears were sold as exports at risk. The total Australia exports of apples and pears sold at risk for export was 4.66 million bushels. The unofficial estimates that I have been given for the 1971 season which has just ended show that the total production sold for export at risk has risen from 4.66 million bushels to approximately 7.47 million bushels. The figure with respect to apples has almost doubled. It has risen from 3.3 million bushels to 6.225 million bushels. The figure for pears has remained reasonably stable at 1.25 million bushels.
The point I make here is that the Bill allows that a total of only 4.4 million bushels of apples and pears at risk can receive the maximum support of 80c ner bushel. If the number of bushels of apples sold at risk continues to rise, as it may have risen this season to 6.225 million bushels, the number of bushels of apples alone will exceed the maximum amount ot 4.4 million bushels which may receive support at 80c a bushel. This could significantly reduce the support for the pear section of the scheme. As the total quantity of pears represents one-quarter only of the total quantity of apples, pears cannot exert over the scheme the influence that apples can.
I am glad that, in his second reading speech on the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill 1971, the Minister referred to this fact. He stated:
I said previously that the Commonwealth’s liability in respect of the fruit of a season will be related to the total quantity of fruit of that season exported at risk. That total quantity embraces both apples and pears and there are not separate specific quantities for each variety of apples and pears. In the light of this fact the industry has asked for an assurance by the Government that should any major anomaly, such as an imbalance in the relativity between apples and pears, be so evident as to affect seriously the scheme at any stage in its lifetime’ the Government will, be prepared to discuss: the matter with the industry to sec if it is necessary to amend the arrangements under the plan and the legislation. I am happy to be able to give the industry such an assurance.
I remind the Minister of this point because this problem could arise fairly soon in regard to the imbalance between apples and pears sold at risk under this scheme. Another problem faced by, I think, both apple and pear growers - however I will deal only with the pear growers - under the provisions of this scheme relates to the schedule of varieties. This schedule is at the end of the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill 1971 and it details the varietal groups. I know that the introduction of other varieties would complicate an already complicated situation. One variety of pears alone - Packham - accounts for about 60 per cent of our total pear exports. However, the problem is with WBC pears, or if you like William pears. This is the main canning variety.
This variety of pear is grouped with other pears in the varietal groupings. There is a surplus of the William variety in the Goulburn Valley for canning requirements. Goulburn Valley exporters have tried very hard to expand their fresh export sales of this variety to relieve the problem. However, the return claimed by the exporters of this variety for this season was below the support level of $2.55 per bushel but because other varieties in this group appear to have sold at above $2.55 per bushel the growers of William pears will have to pay into the scheme when in fact they should receive a pay-out from this scheme. Because the William variety was grouped with other varieties the absurd position is that the growers of this variety who actually sold the pears at below the support level will have to pay into the scheme instead of receiving payment. The spectre of everincreasing freight rates and of the United Kingdom’s impending entry into the European Common Market hangs over the entire horticultural industries of Australia. These industries cover the fresh, canned fruits and dried vine fruits. The latest 22i per cent increase in freight rates to the United Kingdom, or if you like 24 per cent on another way of reckoning, means the grower will lose an extra 51c a case.
Freight will now be $2.77 a case or about 40 per cent of the gross return to the grower. j
Any discussion on the horticultural industries must include points relating to reconstruction. 1 believe that one matter upon which the Minister and the industry agree is that some form of treepull scheme is inevitable and necessary for this industry. Perhaps the other types of fruit industries may not need a scheme for a year or two. I notice that the Minister in a speech to the Apple and Pear Growers Federation a week or so ago mentioned this point. The peach and pear growers in northern Victoria urgently require the introduction of such a scheme. In the 1971 season 25,000 tons of pears could not be harvested in the Goulburn Valley because they were excess to canning requirements. The way this season is shaping there will again probably be at least 25,000 tons of pears dropping on the ground. Even though all the horticultural industries will require in the long term, because of marketing problems, a treepull compensation scheme, I ask the Minister to give the Goulburn Valley growers of soft fruits an opportunity to introduce such a scheme or that part of such a scheme relating directly to them ahead of the rest of the schemes that will be required so that they might avoid any greater problems of poverty and over-production in this area.
When the Minister for Primary Industry refused the request of the apple and pear growers for emergency financial assistance to meet increased freight rates he suggested that they should put their house in order first. I emphasise the word ‘first’. It appears that this industry is moving with some speed to do just this. I hope that when the industry does put its house in order, if freight rates and the costs of production increase the Minister will then honour the other part of his statement to provide whatever assistance may be required. It may be a greater financial commitment from the Federal Government that what is at present envisaged. It may mean the establishment of a statutory authority after the present teething problems and other complications are worked out. It could mean other things. But I do hope that the Minister will remember this point and that when the industry puts its house in order and requires more assistance the request will be considered favourably. As I said at the commencement of my speech, probably noone is entirely happy with the provisions of this legislation because of the complications involved in it. 1 have mentioned several points about which the pear growers in the Goulburn Valley are not very happy. However, this legislation is a major breakthrough for the industry, lt is a starting point upon which the industry can build. 1 support the legislation.
– The honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) has a lot to answer for. He commenced his speech by eulogising the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) but halfway through his speech be began to criticise aspects of this legislation in no uncertain terms,, especially the guaranteed 4.4 million bushels for export. In the Committee stage the Opposition will move an amendment seeking an increase from 4.4 million to 7.5 million bushels. We on this side will naturally expect the honourable member for Murray to vote with us on such an important amendment. This is the only way in which he can give effect to his statements. In other respects the honourable member is in agreement with honourable members on this side in expressing many doubts about this scheme. This is a beginning. It is an historical piece of legislation. This industry is one of the last major export industries to come under a stabilisation plan. The tragedy is that this was not done 5 years ago. The Government allowed this industry to get into a state of absolute crisis before it was prepared to introduce such a scheme.
I am the Secretary of the Tasmanian Labor Party Rural Committee which is a 75 per cent farmer committee. That committee put forward a scheme to an Australian Labor Party conference 2 years ago and it was accepted. The basis of the ALP stabilisation scheme for this industry has already been written into the ALP’s rural policy. Why has this Government waited until this industry was on its last legs before introducing the proposed scheme outlined in this legislation? We welcome this scheme. However it is not a full-blooded stabilisation plan like other stabilisation plans introduced for Australian industries. There are serious gaps in this plan, as the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) expertly indicated tonight in his speech. Firstly, the guarantee for each variety of fruit is too low. Secondly, this scheme covers only 4.4 million bushels of export fruit when Tasmania alone exports at risk nearly 7 million bushels. The Opposition will seek to have this export figure of 4.4 million bushels raised to 7.5 million bushels. I point out that this has been a request by the Apple and Pear Growers’ Federation of Tasmania, which represents 75 per cent of the growers in that State. Thirdly, this Bill fails to allow for all changes in the cost of production, and this is a major weakness. Only a portion of total production will attract the annual stabilised price for each variety of fruit and the Bill does not lake into consideration the most important factor, freight variations. Fourthly, it does not make the Federal Government responsible in any way for freight increases. In other words, there are no clauses in the Bill which says that the Commonwealth will underwrite freight increases, and unless this is provided the stabilisation scheme is utterly meaningless because the guarantee will be partly wiped out by increased freight charges at any old time. When it is known that 60 per cent of the growers’ cost per bushel is freight then the paramount and critical effect of freight on the industry is vividly illustrated.
No other Australian export industry is so vulnerable to changes in freight charges as the apple and pear export industry, because 60 per cent of its costs are freight costs. If a grower is to be forced to pay an extra 50c a case, as is being sought by the Salen shipping combine at the present time, this will lift his freight per case to $3.10. With other basic costs such as handling costs, insurance, commission, pruning, spraying, inspection, fertilisation, cartage, etc., added to the $3.10 the grower will be out of business given the average price of $5.50 a case that was obtained in England last year. So the grower would have to get nearly $6 a case at least in England for his fruit even to balance his budget, without making any profit at all. When one considers the tremendous importance of freight rates and the influence they have on the apple and pear industry it is amazing there is no provision in the Bill to cover freight charges. The last increase that was sought was of 25.45 per cent. So far the Apple and Pear Board has refused to accept it and the shipping lines have refused to compromise. At this moment, therefore, there is no movement either way. The question is in abeyance and has to be decided very shortly. It would lift the freight charge by 50c a case if the Board accepted the demands of this nonconference shipping combine, if I can call it that. 1 found in the Budget, papers a remarkable piece of information. During the last 5 years this Government has subsidised the Australian-South American shipping service to the tune of $1.10lm and it would not come to the party when Tasmanians asked it to subsidise the shipping freights between Tasmania and the mainland to help counter the recent big rise imposed by the Australian National Line. That is just in passing. There is an urgent need for a vital reorganisation of the industry and an entirely new approach. Old methods cannot meet today’s challenge from competition, from overseas demand for quality fruit, from the urgent need to cut handling costs, from shipping problems, marketing, packaging and presentation. New ideas are necessary in order to cope with these demands and these challenges. Changes vitally required include firstly the stabilisation plan we have before us now., although when Labor comes to office the scheme will be boosted and expanded to a full-blooded stabilisation scheme, not the piecemeal one that it is at the moment. However, this plan is vital as one of the new elements in the industry. Secondly, we desperately need one marketing authority, operating not only in Tasmania but in each of the other States, marketing fruit overseas. There is one in New Zealand and one in South Africa and both are working successfully for the industry.
In Tasmania alone there are 19 exporters of fruit. Could a more confusing situation than that exist? All are competing against each other. The Grant Board of Inquiry recommended in 1970, a year ago this month, that one marketing authority be set up. Its chairman was Professor J. Grant, of the Tasmanian University, and the members were Mr A. P. Calvert, Mr L. Cox, Mr C. B. Hewitt, Mr W. A. Smith and Mr R. F. Walsh. Its main recommendations are on page 11 of its excellent report, which we have studied. I will read some of them because they should be written into Hansard. They are:
I will not read the rest of the recommendations because I have not the time but there are 4 other clauses which show how comprehensive this Authority would be if it were set up. At present the Tasmanian Government will not set it up. It is talking about 1973 but by that time there will be no industry to organise. The Opposition condemns the Tasmanian Government tonight for its failure to implement a scheme that was suggested in recommendations made 12 months ago by this Board of Inquiry which that Government appointed. We must have recognised and selected agents to handle the export of our fruit and its marketing at the United Kingdom and Continent end. That is most important. On Friday last, 1st October, the Board made a. momentous decision to issue only one licence to a consortium of exporters for the coming season. This is a step in the right direction and will have the effect of bringing the 19 exporters together to act as one body. Here is the germ of the idea of one fruit exporting authority. I congratulate the Board for its courage in bringing down this revolutionary decision last Friday.
There must be stabilised shipping freight rates for the industry. I do not have time to explore this subject any further except to say that the recent increases demanded by the non-conference lines are nothing short of piracy on the high seas so far as the Australian fruit industry is concerned. The unitisation of fruit must be fully implemented as the only successful method of getting fruit to the ships and away. Only 9 per cent of our fruit was unitised in 1970. This year, 15.5 per cent was unitised and next year it is expected that 40 per cent will be unitised but by 1973 or 1974 ali fruit must be unitised as a great cost saver. Further, there must be one brand instead of 150 brands. At present 150 Tasmanian brands are being exported. This is disastrous and confusing. It slows down loading and out-turn and causes endless delays and frustrations when ships are being unloaded.
Stabilisation of containers is necessary as at present 27 different types of containers are being used in Tasmania. This set-up delays the stowage of fruit and its handling and unloading overseas. I believe that the provision of bulk containers is the answer for each variety. In a few years, there will be only one brand of fruit and it will be all exported in bulk. Therefore, with the changes that I have proposed - one brand, a standardisation of containers, and one marketing authority with centralised packing sheds under authority impaction - it will be possible to reduce the costs of handling fruit by 31c a bushel. This saving in costs could be the blood transfusion that could save the industry.
We need new markets in Asia because the old markets in Europe are on the way out, as the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) pointed out. What will we do when or if Britain joins the European Economic Community? I understand that at its conference last week-end the Labour Party in Britain decided to oppose wholesale Britain’s entry into the Common Market. I anticipated this a year ago, and I still think the proposal for Britain’s entry could be defeated in the House of Commons. However, we need new markets, such as in the Philippines. Unfortunately, credit arrangements between Australia and the Philippines are poor and we may have to institute a barter system whereby we can ship our fruit to the Philippines and receive goods in return. Japan produces 65 million cases of fruit annually but still imports millions of cases and we must get into that market. China has a huge potential though it grows a lot of fruit of its own. We have not explored that market yet. There is no doubt that trade will shift from Europe to Asia in the next few years when the United Kingdom joins the Common Market. Finally, in Asia we need State trade commissioners as well as Commonwealth trade commissioners.
– Like South Australia has.
– Yes, and Western Australia. It is not enough to have in these eastern countries Commonwealth trade commissioners who are supposed to be working for the States. They are not. They work for the Commonwealth as such and not for the individual States. For a start I believe we should have State trade commissioners in Tokyo and . Singapore. To my mind, this is so important that I foresee the transfer of the Tasmanian AgentGeneral from London to Tokyo or Singapore in the next 10 years, for he will be useless in London if Britain enters the Common Market. An act of statesmanship would be to transfer his office to Singapore, which is the fourth largest trading port in the world today and which is growing every week.” We should have a State trade commissioner in Singapore and in Tokyo, covering the whole- of Asia and selling State goods. We should not have only Commonwealth officers selling Commonwealth exports. If it h too costlY for Tasmania to institute this scheme perhaps it could, co-operate with South Australia and establish a South Australian and Tasmanian partnership in Singapore or Tokyo. A year ago Western Australia established a trade mission or Agent-General in Tokyo on which it is spending $55,000 annually. This is money well spent and it will be returned a thousand-fold over the years.
– Do you not think an Australian partnership is just as good?
– No, I do not.. I honestly do not think that Commonwealth trade commission officers have the same interest in States as State officers would have. I am quite sure of this. Therefore, it is imperative that we establish trading posts and a trading voice for Tasmania in Asia.
What a tragedy it is that we do not have our own overseas shipping line. Half of the present problems in the fruit industry would not have arisen had the legislation introduced by Ben Chifley in 1949 been implemented, I was here in 1949 and spoke in favour of and voted for the proposal to create an overseas shipping line. Four months later the Labor Party was defeated at the polls and the first Menzies Government did not implement that legislation but let it lapse. If Australia had established its own conference line of overseas ships then, by now we would have 15 or 20 modern ships operating between Australia and overseas. These vessels would be owned by the Australian Government and the Australian people and this would have enabled us to have controlled freight rates over the years and given to our primary producers the protection they needed from the sea bandits, the freight bandits and the Philistines of the conference lines who have had us by the throat for so many years. If we had our own overseas shipping line we would not have had the crisis we have today with our fruit exports. .
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett)Order! Before calling the honourable member for Angas, I ask the honourable members for Grayndler and Dawson to refrain from audible conversation at the table. It is very difficult for Hansard to hear the member who is speaking.
– I support the Government’s stabilisation scheme for the apple industry with no hesitation and with some degree of enthusiasm. Quite logically, I also do not support the amend-‘ ment of the Australian Labor Party for a single national marketing authority.
– Why not?
– It would take a long time, to answer that interjection but I will certainly do so. If the honourable member for Riverina took the opportunity to examine the costs of running marketing schemes on an Australian basis, he would come to the conclusion that historically these costs have been one of the biggest socks ever to our primary producers. If the honourable member wanted to do a little more research, rather than go off half-cocked, he could look at the history of this very industry with which this Bill in concerned. He would see what attitude the growers took to an apple and pear marketing board. I think that I am right to use the word ‘marketing’ in this context but if I am wrong I shall withdraw it. At any rate, they were hopelessly out of favour with it because it cost them, as primary producers, a lot of money to administer. That is one of my reasons for opposing the amendment, and it is only a start. I could go on from point to point on this subject. For’ instance, I could tie in the remarks of the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) with those of the honourable, member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie).
As I understood him, the honourable member for Wilmot castigated the Tas-, manian Government for not acting unilaterally to establish a State marketing authority. If any honourable member wants to see the futility of such a proposal, I invite him to visit my electorate in South Australia and look at an organisation called the Citrus Organising Committee which is doing precisely what the honourable member for Wilmot is suggesting the. Tasmanian Government should do through a State authority. His proposal is futile for many reasons but principally because a single State authority cannot introduce a statutory board. A State cannot control the marketing of produce once State borders are crossed, let alone oceans. I would have thought that the honourable member for Wilmot would have been aware of that distinction and would have been fair enough to absolve the Tasmanian Government, about which I know very little but about which I repeatedly hear some good, from the effects of his futile thinking. That, patently, is exactly what he is up to in relation to this.
I do not blame the Labor Party for one minute for trying to grab frantically for some new scheme, lt is very easy when one is in trouble to try to develop some form of new thinking. The only problem that exists at this point of time is that there are many States that will not agree with the honourable member who has moved the amendment. My own State would most certainly be one of them. The States would not agree to have some blue print forced on them by a hierarchical sort of authority such as the honourable member for Dawson probably has in mind. So let us not talk theoretical nonsense like this. The facts of the matter are that the producers of this country by and large do not want precisely what the Opposition today, by way of its amendment, is suggesting should be brought in.
The honourable member for Wilmot did not mention, for instance, the varieties of apple that are not wanted overseas. Surely the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), who is at the table, is correct when he draws the attention of the industry in general to some of the problems that exist within the channels of that industry. I am not expert on wharf costs, handling, palletisation or any form of loading apples, even cellular cartons but I do know these are used fairly substantially by co-operatives in South Australia. However, I do know that it is right to query whether we should be trying to foist on to the export markets of the world apples that are not required. I do know that this sort of thinking is common sense. I do know that transport and wage costs at wharf which I have just mentioned are important factors. For example, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) will not like it one bit when I point out my complete lack of understanding - and I remain unmoved by any argument against it - of unions demanding increased wage rates at wharves for loading apples. I cannot understand why the unions insist that their members require higher and higher wages for transport. I cannot for the life of me see why unions such as these insist on trying to grind an apple grower who is having a hard trot completely into the ground by virtually their own insular thinking. 1 would be interested to hear later the replies to these contentions. But these are things that the apple growers in my electorate are worried about.
– They have nothing to worry about in Tasmania on that. They congratulate - -
– Order! The honourable member for Wilmot will cease interjecting.
– I would be very interested if the honourable member could introduce me one day to apple growers who would not blame increasing wage costs for some of the difficulties they are in. Is the honourable member going to reply to that?
-Order! The honourable member for Angas will direct his remarks to the Chair.
– I am sorry. Mr Deputy Speaker, but I am sure that in Western Australia you will find the same thing is so. However, perhaps I might get a little closer to home. I remind the House that not long ago, I am told, 9 ships which were involved in moving apples - and I imagine that most of them carried small loads - were held up in Port Adelaide for 10 days. This kind of delay does not help the cost structure of the industry..
Three weeks ago I sent to the Minister representing the industry and exporters in my State a telegram in which I drew attention to this fact and to the fact that increased costs on freight alone of 24 per cent - for instance, on the Europe-United Kingdom conference - was greater than any benefit that averaged out in any of the 18 varietal pools. I support what was said by the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) when he talked about the problems of the pear industry.
However, I think that the opposite argument to this is the argument that was implied by the honourable members for Dawson and Wilmot throughout this debate. I think the honourable member for Wilmot said that this is not a full blooded stabilisation scheme and that it is to be hoped that from the point of view of those who continue growing apples that it will not develop into a full blooded stabilisation scheme. By that statement I hope the honourable member does not mean that there should be a bigger deficiency payment to apple growers because nothing could ruin more quickly the totality of apple growers id a situation where they cannot easily quit their product on export under a situation of increasing production of apples. As far as I am concerned, I believe that this is a clear implication from what has been said tonight by both honourable members.
– You could apply that to other industries.
– I can apply it to quite a few rural industries. I could apply it to one industry called the wine industry and say that the Government is not giving out to apple growers in this case nearly as much as even the depleted amount it hopes to gain from wine-grape growers. The House will hear a lot more about this in due course when my motion comes forward in relation to this matter.
I would like to get back to the scheme itself because I think it is important. I hope that I have convinced the House that I have no intention of supporting the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson. I would, like to go on and say that the average export support prices will be set out with regard to movements in cash costs. They will be brought into effect in their entirety each year by the Government through the Minister. I think I have made my own point, of view plain. If we look at the balance of the industry in Australia I think we see that we have reached the unhappy stage where the attitude of my own State probably is a proper one, if a selfish one. The growers in my State say: ‘For goodness sake, we must look after the position of apple exports from Tasmania’. They realise that this is of prime importance to them because Tasmania has an enormous surplus of apples in excess of normal home requirements. Western Australia, for instance, which exports through. 3 ports to Europe and the United Kingdom is the next highest exporter of apples. On 1970 export figures Western Australia exported over 1 million bushels of apples to those areas
But this is only one-third of the amount of apples exported from Tasmania during that same period.
Every other State virtually looks after its own home market. Each is very pleased to do so and it feels that it can stay in business doing just that. But what they all fear most is the enormous surplus on the Tasmanian market. I do not think that even if it is selfish, there is much wrong with the attitude of South Australian growers when they say that we should try to look after the export of apples from Tasmania. In the Bill before the House the Government aims to give help to those areas that are most vulnerable. The Government intends to give help to those sales made on open consignment, sales made aboard a vessel in transit and sales termed consignment against advance payments. In other words, only a partial payment will be made in that case. The Government, for instance, in this scheme dors not aim to give help to forward sales because they are not subject to the same risk as the other categories which I have just described.
I would like to quote briefly from the Minister’s second reading speech in relation to that point. He said:
If the average export return of a season for a variety falls below its average export support price, then a payment will be made from the relevant fund to the owner of the fruit. If the average export return for a variety exceeds the support price, then owners will be levied to make a contribution to the relevant fund.
If, at any time, the balance in a stabilisation fund is insufficient to make the necessary payment to . owners, the Commonwealth Government will meet the deficiency. The contribution to the appropriate varietal fund by the owner of the fruit, where a contribution is called for, will be on a sliding scale up to a maximum of 80c per bushel The Commonwealth’s aggregate liability in respect of the fruit of a season will be related to the total quantity of fruit of that season exported on risk.
I have described the categories that fall into that area of risk. The Minister went on:
The basic limitation is a total quantity of 4.4 million bushels, which could attract a maximum payment of 80c per bushel. As the quantity exported at risk goes above 4.4 million bushels, the maximum rate of payment per bushel will be reduced pro rata . . .
Insofar as that is the case, it is a payment scheme based very much on the cotton deficiency payments scheme, which is the sort of scheme that merits the support, I think, of most honourable members. It is not an open cheque scheme. Its aim is to help the apple industry over a 5-year period, and the cost is assessed at $ 10x over that period. Might I hasten to add for those who are interested that once again this is below the amount of money taken from wine grape growers under the excuse of an excise scheme recently brought into being, although through a deficiency in sales the amount to be raised under that scheme is down, I think from memory, from the average assessed figure of $15.2m per year. It is down for the reason that will be apparent to honourable members if they stop to think about it for a minute.
There is a second novel feature of this scheme. Again I quote from the second reading speech of the Minister, who said:
Those are non-risk sales in respect of which there is no deficiency payment - will be brought into the calculation of the rate of return per bushel from export sales against which the Government’s guarantee on consignment sales is to be matched. 1 have no particular comment to make in relation to that statement other than to say that I accept the fact that this is unconventional. I accept the fact that this scheme and the basis of it was a matter of negotiation between the industry and the Government over a period of 3 years. Many other facets of this scheme should perhaps be debated. For instance, I know that in my own State and in my own area the scheme has no real implication in respect of pears - whether we are considering the production of pears, the export of pears or the risk consignment of pears. The honourable member for Murray devoted most of his speech to the question of the very real difficulty created by enormous surpluses of pears in the State of Victoria. The situation calls for a lot of sympathy, and I must admit that in due course I should like to see consideration given to providing some form of payment in some of these areas to encourage people to pull out pear trees. I hope that if this does occur it will not overlap the apple industry.
In passing, might I say that one of the problems confronting the apple, pear and vine growing areas and many other rural production areas is that these industries are not quite like factories. They cannot very well put men off if sales decrease; they cannot very well turn down the wheel to limit production. Trees have been planted and their is investment in an area which is subject perhaps to 25 years of production. If any reason is needed in anybody’s mind as to why this scheme which we are discussing tonight should be introduced, let us remember that a lifetime of investment and savings by some people has been put into this form of production, und it is neither lightly turned off nor does one lightly liquidate or cast aside savings or investment of a lifetime.
Perhaps 1 might sum up briefly by saying that there will be people who may feel that the Government is not expending taxpayers’ funds to the best advantage. I would not class myself as one of these. I can think of industries growing in production in this country because of Government help and Government payments. If people’s goods cannot be sold then the Government should not encourage greater production. But this is not so in this scheme. As I see it, the deficiency payment as currently set will allow the efficient to continue to produce, particularly if more efficient handling schemes can be discovered and put into effect. However, the scheme will not allow the less efficient easily to continue in production, and this is the way, I maintain, any responsible government must act. To do more would flood markets and bring ruin to all in the industry; to do less would not take into account the welfare of apple producers who are disadvantaged by high wages, high costs and other matters which they believe - and I think rightly so - have come about through no fault of their own. I support the Bill before the House.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to make a comment about a remark made by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). It was made with his customary charm. He said, in accusing the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), that people in his State would not accept the proposition being put forward by the honourable member for Dawson. I would remind the honourable member for Angas that he should familiarise himself with a statement made by his own State Premier.
– That does not mean a thing.
– Despite the interjection of the honourable member for Angas, his State Premier has indicated that in the long term he would support the proposition put forward by the Premier of Tasmania for a single national marketing authority. That disposes of that. In supporting the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson I do so with the desire not to impede or to obstruct the legislation before the House, but rather as one motivated by a very deep concern for the future of this industry which affects thousands of people in my own State and more particularly in my own electorate. Indeed, it affects the whole economy of the State of Tasmania and the future of the welfare of so many of the people of that State. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) in his second reading speech on 19th August 1971 summed up the aims of the Bill, I think, in the final paragraph when he said:
I said earlier that this stabilisation scheme will not solve all the industry’s problems. However I believe it is a fair and just scheme and will give the industry considerable assistance.
We of the Opposition very sincerely hope that in fact the Minister’s hopes will be realised. We might at this stage ask: Why is this Bill necessary? What problems have brought about the current crisis? Let there be no mistake - it is a crisis. But tonight I want to deal in the main with 2 points in particular that I think are germane to the issues involved. The first is the marketing of the product and the second is the recurring cost structure, with particular regard to freights. Of course first of all there is the cost of commodities such as chemical spray materials which I shall mention later. Let me first of all deal with marketing techniques or rather the absence of marketing techniques.
The overwhelming majority of growers in Tasmania have now realised and acted upon the realisation that an apple and pear marketing authority is their prime hope of survival.
– Their only hope.
– It is indeed their only hope, as my good friend from Riverina interjects. The growers have been well aware of the fragmentation of marketing and they have presented sound and concise suggestions for development and organisation of the marketing techniques. They have had representatives in New Zealand looking at the obvious advantages enjoyed by that country. They have co-operated admirably with the Tasmanian State Government in the inquiry conducted by the Grant Committee which was referred to by my colleague, the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie). They have urged the implementation of the Committee’s recommendation for the establishment of a single marketing authority. Let me repeat that the great and overwhelming majority of the growers in the industry have urged the Tasmanian Government to implement the recommendation of the Grant report.
Predictably, the Tasmanian Government has stubbornly refused to act upon this. So it can be seen quite clearly that the industry is very well aware of the difficulties and has acted and is continuing to act in a responsible manner. Therefore it is somewhat surprising and, I think, distressing to hear that the Minister in Hobart only on Monday of last week offered the growers a rather gratuitous piece of advice. He said to them: ‘You put your house in order.* This is precisely what they are attempting to do. The very real tragedy is that this industry is dominated by a contingent of exporters who call the tune season after season. It is very interesting to note that the Australian Apple and Pear Board announced over the weekend that it will issue only one export licence for the State of Tasmania. This has been referred to by previous speakers. It is a very radical move. It may well be successful. We hope it is.
The precise details are as yet unknown and therefore it would be premature to make any detailed comment on it. But I have been informed as late as this evening that the Australian Apple and Pear Board has confirmed that this decision is unanimous and will operate. But it can be clearly demonstrated that the existing marketing system has failed - and failed abysmally. The growers recognise this fact and they have acted accordingly. In my view, they have acted correctly and acted courageously. The examples of New Zealand, South Africa and British Columbia are there for all of us to see. It is time we took note of their success and of our own continuing failures and weaknesses in marketing techniques.
I turn briefly now to the question of freights. The very geographical isolation of Tasmania has always rendered it vulnerable to the whims and the fancies of the overseas shipping companies. Freight is perhaps the highest single cost factor involved in the export of apples and pears. The final indignity was perpetrated last week when, in a take it or leave it, gun at the head attitude, it was conveyed to the industry that unless a 24 per cent increase in freight rates was forthcoming the shipping lines would have nothing to do with it. This matter, as I understand it, is unresolved. I would urge the Minister and the Government to act decisively and responsibly with regard to this blatant piece of economic blackmail, because that is precisely what it is.
Tasmania does not enjoy and has never enjoyed the largesse bestowed upon the mainland States in the field of road and rail subsidies. 1 make an appeal in this speech for a total freight freeze for the Tasmanian fruit industry and, if not a freight freeze, then a subsidy to protect the economy and welfare of the Tasmanian people. Other States have enjoyed this privilege. Why should Tasmania be left out and isolated? Tasmania is vulnerable and becomes more so with each succeeding day. The performance of the Tasmanian industry with regard to its loading rates is excellent, lt has one of the best records in the nation. There is an industrial harmony during the season that should be a model for the rest of the nation. Here I think it apppropriate to quote a letter which demonstrates that very point. It is a letter from the acting chairman of the State Fruit Board of Tasmania, Mr Clark, to the secretary of the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers Federation, which appeared in the ‘Australian’ last week. I would like honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House to listen to this, because so often in this House we hear about the outrageous behaviour of the trade unions with regard to primary industry. Mr Clark said that Tasmanian loading rates were the highest in Australia for fruit cargoes. He went on to say:
The industry achieved an average loading rate throughout Australia of 13,064 bushels, thus becoming entitled to a 7c per bushel rebate.
The interesting thing is that southern Tasmania again topped the list with a daily rate of 15,156 bushels. Mr Clark went on to express his appreciation in writing to the Waterside Workers Federation for its co-operation. This point must be mentioned because it clearly demonstrates that all facets of the industry are conscious, are well aware, that the prosperity of the State is paramount, and they act in a totally responsible fashion. We all know of the great many problems that confront the industry. They are many and manifold. In 1967 the disastrous bushfires caused havoc in this particular industry. Now some of the growers are finding that the repayment of fire loans is creating tremendous problems for them. I would like to suggest that the Federal Government write off these fire loans. On top of the hail and frost damage the growers in Franklin have no hope at all of meeting this crippling extra burden.
I want to turn now to the very human problems involved - the depopulation of many areas, the pressures on families, the dislocation, the frustrations and the uncertainties that will emerge if we continue to denude the rural areas. The figures I have are not up to date because it is impossible to get the immediate figures; but they do give a very clear indication of what is happening in that part of the electorate In the Huon area which, as the Minister and many honourable members will be well aware, is the heart of the fruit growing area of Franklin and indeed of southern Tasmania, the population stood at 5,460 in 1961. It is now down below 5,000. In Cygnet the population has dropped to about 2,400. In the general area, in a period of 9 years, the loss from this industry alone is well over 1,000 people and is continuing daily. It is not a single, isolated effect that occurs. It is not merely a fruit grower leaving. It is the effect it has throughout the economy. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker all are affected when this mass migration continues to occur within the rural sector. This trend is accelerating.
In talking with people in the electorate in the last few days, I could see and appreciate the heartbreak of a great industry being destroyed by external forces and circumstances. On this very problem of depopulation this Government has long proclaimed on numerous occasions its belief in decentralisation. We now have the spectre of rural ghost towns, of agricultural wastelands, as people are being forced to the great city environments, not of their own volition but because of Government ineptitude in policy. Is this the legacy of Liberal-Country Party rule? Is this the great vision of decentralisation, when people are forced out of an industry they have created with their own vigour, their own intelligence, and their own capability and capacity, to an environment that they do not want and an environment that is incapable of supporting them?
The apple and pear industry in Tasmania has made a very great contribution to the welfare of this nation, and the people in that industry want the opportunity to continue to do just that - and they have every right to continue. They are people of immense courage and determination, and they are people of undoubted skill. They have produced the world’s best product and they have a right to sell it. They have a right to sell it because twothirds of the world at the moment is underfed and is crying out for food. It seems to me to be a most paradoxical and ludicrous situation that here we are denuding the rural areas, telling people not to produce, when in point of fact in 2 or 3 years time we may be saying precisely the opposite.
– Eighteen months, I think.
– Perhaps less than that. Growers in the towns in my electorate will and can produce the goods if this national Parliament and this national Government give the visionary leadership that is so vital. Let me make one brief comment on the costs of chemical spray materials, for example, lt can be seen, by reading the relevant documents that are available, that in New Zealand growers pay up to 50 per cent less for their chemical spray materials than do my own growers in Franklin. Of course this is a situation that exacerbates an existing problem - one problem on top of another. I hope that the Government will move with some alacrity and that its mobility will be in evidence. I hope that there will be more alacrity in evidence than that displayed by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in this House last week when I asked him a question about the national marketing authority and he did not know anything about it.
– He lost the letter.
– He lost the letter. He mislaid his mail. The Premier of Tasmania, I have no doubt, was not very happy with that little bit of delightful news and carelessness that he received from the Prime Minister. Time is no longer on the industry’s side. I know from personal experience that this industry will respond and can respond. It is up to this Government to evoke that response with an understanding of and a sensitivity to this industry’s problems. The industry needs decisive and determined action, and it needs such action now and not in the future. On that basis I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson.
– We have heard from my compatriots, the honourable members for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and Franklin (Mr Sherry), a concerted attempt, quite apart from that made by the honourable member of Dawson (Dr Patterson), who led for the Opposition, to pin the deficiencies of this particular line of production on either the Commonwealth Government or the Government of Tasmania. Reluctant as I am to do so, I feel I must take up in due course some of the points made by my 2 colleagues on the other side of the House, because I do not believe that they contained very much economic logic at all. But before I do that may I explain why it is that I am talking on this subject.
It is clear that the honourable member for Franklin has in his electorate a majority of Australian and certainly Tasmanian apple and pear production. However those apples and pears are very substantially, not quite exclusively, exported through the port of Hobart, which is in my electorate. In fact the only congestion which occurs in the port of Hobart is, roughly speaking, during the months from March to May when ships tie up in the stream awaiting a berth at our relatively small but very well reputed port from the point of view of its physical capacity. This is therefore a matter of some significance to the people of the city of Hobart as well as to the people of the Huon Valley and thereabouts. If in fact the bottom drops out of the apple and pear industry, and notably the export part of it, a very considerable decline will take place in the activities of the port of Hobart, not to mention those associated areas which are involved in the marketing of apples and pears.
There are many difficulties in trying to implement the proposals as presently envisaged in either the Government legislation or in fact in the amendment as proposed by the honourable member for Dawson. I think it is only fair to say - I perhaps vary a little from my friend, the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), here - that there is real logic in the proposition that we should have a single national marketing authority for the distribution and export of pome fruits. But it is not as simple as it sounds or as simple as my friends from Tasmania who have spoken earlier this evening would have us believe, because there is involved not only the question of constitutionality but also questions of finance, by whom rt should be done and how it should be done. If in fact the recommendation of the Grant Board of Inquiry were to be implemented, that is to say, the recommendation for a State marketing authority, that in itself would present considerable problem. We have heard a deal from the honourable members for Franklin and Wilmot about governmental procrastination, which I think they levied roughly equally at the State and Federal Governments but perhaps more so at the present Tasmanian Government. But as I recall they failed to mention anything - I noted down the appropriate things that they said - about the financial implications of setting up such an authority. May I point out that if we set up either a State or Federal authority, but let us take a State one first because that is the Grant Board’s recommendation, such an authority would assume the functions of the licensed exporters who have been enumerated already in this debate, who currently largely finance the production and presentation costs and guarantee the payment of freight on that portion of the pome fruits which are exported on consignment, that is, as I understand it, at risk. That involves a considerable amount of finance. Such an authority, if set up, would require considerable seasonal finance. Estimates place the figure as high as about II 7m annually.
– Have you heard of the Commonwealth Bank?
– I have indeed. We are talking about real money. It is interesting that honourable members opposite have failed to discuss that particular aspect of the matter, assuming presumably that it grows on trees, if not on apple trees and that it would be a very simple operation to implement this thing. As I said, there is indeed logic in doing this but I have a certain apprehension about ultimates in bureaucracy. We know very well the propensity of honourable members opposite to set up commissions or boards or whathaveyou to run practically everything in this country and they have, however happily or unhappily for the growers concerned, or realistically, totally ignored the fact that this has been for a century or more a private enterprise operation and that private enterprise operators expect to have certain ups and downs in consequence of their chosen - in fact the nation’s chosen - method of economic operation.
In saying that - I will not beat about the bush or pretend that it is not possible to offend some growers in the Huon Valley or anywhere else - I must also say that I do not think I can remember a year in my Tasmanian experience when one of the more courageous or forthright members of the industry - I will not mention names - has gone against the general tide and said: There are deficiencies in the marketing of our product. It is time we rationalised it.’ I have heard that for at least a dozen years successively - one of the hardiest annuals to come my way. Yet the honourable member for Franklin can say that the majority of growers are pushing for the implementation of the Board’s recommendation while the Tasmanian Government resists it. It seems to me, as far as I have evidence, that the Tasmanian Government is doing its utmost in the year or less since the Board’s recommendations came forward to find ways and means, with or without Federal assistance, to implement the major recommendations.
It is not true that the majority of growers have been pushing for the implementation of such recommendations as the Board made for year after year. If the majority of small growers had it would have quickly come about and in particular it would have come about under the previous Labor Government in Tasmania which held office for 35 years until May 1969. When I say that I do not wish to be misinterpreted although I am quite sure I will be quoted out of context in due course by somebody. I do not mean to suggest that those in the industry who are suffering difficulties, as most are, are not deserving of assistance, nor do I wish to do anything but advocate as much assistance as is possible and sensible economically to give. One of the difficulties is that in many, if not all, agricultural pursuits there is a great deal of difference between what happens to the big and small growers. Among his other factual statements the honourable member for Dawson gave us some useful figures on the distribution of incomes among growers. I noted only one, and that is that 7 per cent of growers earn in excess of $10,000 annually - a reputable sort of figure - and that of course a great deal larger proportion are in receipt of half or less of that amount. Herein, of course, lies the problem - a problem which has already been experienced by the berry fruit industry in southern Tasmania and elsewhere and, as honourable members will know, even in the wool industry.
Any form of price support, subsidy or whatever designed to help the marginal or small grower is likely to help the big grower more and perhaps not to help the small grower enough. This is an intractable problem unless we operate a sliding scale of values and in effect apply a means test according to size, income and whathaveyou to the growers concerned. So in that sense we have a problem that this or any other government of any colour will not find easy to solve. It does not, however, mean that we should not be looking, as the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) certainly is with the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and others, to see just how we can best solve this problem. I think it inappropriate - I regret having to raise yet another point - to do this, but having already seen my friend the honourable member for Franklin make much of the fact that the Prime Minister seemed to be unaware of one letter which had come to him but which in fact was shown within the next second to have been immediately within the awareness of the Minister for Primary Industry, I find it incredible that he should again raise the issue tonight as if it were one of great substance. It seemed to me to indicate a grave deficiency in emphasis on the economics of this problem rather that the peripheral politics.
We have in fact a situation here whereby an industry, in the case of Tasmania - I trust others will forgive me for not talking about other parts of A us tra-: Iia - represents something over $20m of value to the Tasmanian economy and generates, as the Minister said in his speech, something between 45 per cent and 60 per cent of agricultural earnings for the State and produces something over 70 per cent of Australian exports in this field of production, that is, of pome fruits. So we are not talking about small peas as far as the Tasmanian economy is concerned. In that I agree with previous speakers, in particular the honourable members for Wilmot and Franklin. But it is something which has to be faced as an economic problem. It is, of course, as all these problems are in the ultimate, a human problem, but again the answer is not to fulminate about agricultural wastelands and decentralisation and attribute those to Government ineptitude. It would be the height of folly to attempt by infinite levels of support, stabilisation or what-have-you to have people producing, as somebody preceding me has already said, unwanted varieties of apples - uncompetitive and unmarketable varieties - for markets on the other side of the world merely to try to keep people on the land.
Although the Huon Valley of Tasmania is remarkably suited climatically and in several other ways to the production of pome fruits to the extent that it produces some of the best cropping in the world and certainly far above the Australian average, it is in fact suited to some other forms of production. Its river flats and slopes already produce hops and other crops apart from pome fruits. In an earlier period of this century something like 95 per cent of cropping in the Huon Valley was in pome fruits. Since that time the relative importance of pome fruits has declined. The yields have increased but the area has been somewhat less stocked by those fruits. It is clear from the economic circumstances that there will have to be alternative forms of production thought of in the Huon Valley. That of course again does not leave us with a situation where we should not do our utmost to implement a rational scheme of marketing - a scheme which, as has been proposed in the legislation, will minimise the weaknesses of the industry, will consolidate the operations, will tend to focus quite specifically on particular varietal forms of production and therefore there will be an incentive for growers to produce those varieties which offer them the best returns under a rationalised system rather than the, relatively speaking, pig in a poke method of producing this or that variety, shipping it long distances and hoping it will produce a decent sort of price to cover costs and a bit more on the other side of the world. ft is not true, 1 must say in all conscience, that we produce unequivocally the best apples in the world. I have sampled some in European markets. I have seen the British public go for South African Granny Smiths almost to the exclusion of others on the market at a particular time. We do in fact produce magnificent apples but they are not all as magnificent as each other. We have long since, I think, put our heads in the sand, particularly in respect of South African competition. I can remember being in Britain in 1963 and 1964 and I can recall the predictions that were made then that the South African crop was being extended in its seasonality to the point where it was already encroaching on that part of the season on which the Australian production had almost a monopoly or at least a very good share. It was feared even then - that was 7 years or 8 years ago - that it might well advance into the Australian sector of the British market, which is still our major one, and cut us out in this regard. That prediction has not come about as quickly or as completely as was thought at that time. This is very well for us. But I think that it would be unfair to this Government or to the Tasmanian Government to suggest that the writing has not been on the wall. As I said earlier, it has been a minority of courageous growers, among whom I can recall one ex-member of the Tasmanian Parliament - I do not think that he lost his seat for that reason - who annually used to say this sort of thing: ‘Unless we rationalise our operations and market our things in the way in which other people tend to market their products, particularly in distant markets, we will face problems’.
The problems are with us now. Again I think that we must solve them to the very best of our ability. But self-help, as the Minister said in southern Tasmania a week or two ago, is part and parcel of the deal. We cannot achieve an economically viable proposition in which Government handouts - subsidies, price supports or stabilisation schemes, whatever they are called - are the only factors. It is nice to see that the Apple and Pear Board, in terms of its consortium proposition, and other elements concerned with this whole operation, not the least the growers, have grasped the bull by the horns or shaken the apple tree, whatever is the appropriate description, to produce a solution which I believe could well have been produced by private enterprise itself long since. It is not, I believe, sufficient to say that the Government, whichever the government is, should have done this. This is an operation in which, in the characteristic fashion of this Government, we have consulted with industry, have seen its views, have been given advice and have taken it or not as the case may be. But it is not good enough to say: ‘Look at this parlous situation that we are in now. The Government has been most deficient in its duty. Ten years ago it should have forced on the industry one or another scheme’.
Now may I take up 2 or 3 points which have been made and I believe are worthy of criticism. The honourable member for Wilmot speaks of the initiative of the Rural Committee of the Australian Labor Party. Would that that Committee had done as much as the Liberal rural committee under Mr Ashton-Jones and others. 1 believe that it is of very recent advent indeed and that it is not valid to claim that Government procrastination was responsible for the initiative taken by that Committee. The honourable member for Wilmot and the honourable member for Franklin mentioned the paramount role of freight. One of them went on to say that we should have one brand exported in bulk, thereby saving up to 30c or so a bushel. That is worth doing. But if in fact freight is the paramount problem, the relatively minor consolidation of loading operations and savings thereby will not make the difference which the honourable member would wish for.
The honourable member wishes to see the rationalisation of brands and container operations. With those proposals I have great sympathy. But, at the same time, the honourable member wishes to sprinkle trade commissioners all around the East. I wonder whether that wish is compatible with the desire to consolidate the productive enterprise of the industry, because if we have a proliferation of trade commissioners we may again have our old State by State competition instead of having an Australian situation. Surely if the Australian Labor Party moves an amendment seeking a national marketing authority it would be a bright idea to think in terms of having a national push, through whatever trade commissioner is operating, in the appropriate ports of sale. May I suggest that if we move a trade commissioner from London to Singapore the profitability of the market of 2 million people in Singapore will not supplant the British market or the European market generally.
I agree with the proposal for an East Asian market, including, if we can, Japan and China. This proposal should be developed. Again, this proposal is of at least 10 years’ standing. In fact, in a paper touching on the apple export industry, I had the enjoyment at one stage of drawing attention to this point and showing on a little map just how small our exports of this product were to the East Asian region. That was nearly 10 years ago. Yet the market has not grown very much. There is obvious room for private enterprise and governmental promotion in the area. But, as other people have said, I think that we will be lucky if we make up the deficiencies which may occur now in the European area.
– I have no desire to be unkind to the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon). But the honourable member questioned the availability of finance and the position of the Constitution with regard to the setting up of a marketing authority. It is to be regretted, I think, that he and others on the other side of the House do not keep in touch with leaders of industry and, in particular, leaders of the industry that we are discussing tonight. Had they done this, they would have been supplied with a very fine exposition setting out the cost of the authority, the question of constitutional powers and so on. A number of their fears would have been shown to be groundless.
In his second reading speech on the Apple and Pear Stabilisation Bill, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) referred at length to the industry in Tasmania. I think that, at the outset, I should place on record the considered opinion of the Apple and Pear Growers Federation on the stabilisation plan. The Federation considers stabilisation a very necessary support plan to replace devaluation assistance. However, it nowhere near makes up for the loss experienced by growers through Australia’s failure to devalue when Britain did. The plan gives a breathing space during which it is hoped to make the necessary drastic moves to reorganise the marketing of apples. One of these moves occurred at the weekend when the Australian Apple and Pear Board decided to issue one export licence to Tasmania with the 19 exporters working in a type of consortium. It is considered a very necessary adjunct to a marketing scheme such as that proposed in the Grant Report.
The Federation considers, however, that the stabilisation plan has its weaknesses. One of these weaknesses is that it operates on the basis of an average Australian price and takes no account of the wide inequality of market returns experienced by different growers for the same quantity of fruit. The Federation points out that it will need to continue as planned and the amount of support may have to be increased to compensate for costs that are increasing and which are beyond the control of growers. I think that I should reiterate the value of the apple and pear industry to the economy of the State of Tasmania. I agree with the leaders of industry that, comparatively speaking, the apple and pear industry is more valuable to the State of Tasmania than the wool industry is the economy of the Australian nation.
In recent years, the apple and pear industry has been worth between Si 6m and $20m annually. It provides between 45 and 60 per cent of agricultural earnings and 12 per cent to 15 per cent of the total incomes from rural primary industries, including timber and mining. There has been a trend to decrease acreage but to increase production as yields have improved. The average yield per .bearing acre in Tasmania 2 years ago was about 500 bushels of apples as against the Australian average of 300 bushels. In the same year, Tasmania produced 32 per cent of the total production of apples from 19 per cent of the total Australian acreage, that is, 7 million bushels out of a total of 22 million bushels. On an average over the past 5 years, Tasmania has provided 36 per cent of Australian apple production, but 70 per cent of apple exports. It has provided 7 per cent of Australian pear production but 21 per cent of pear exports. Of Tasmania’s production over the past 5 years, 76 per cent of apples and 83 per cent of pears were exported. However, all is not well with the industry. Gloom and depression have settled over it.
The industry is carried on in the Huon, Derwent, Tamar and Mersey Valleys. From the Statistician’s figures of 1966, only 75 per cent of Tasmanian orchardists are still on their properties. It is a fact that 100 families have left the Huon Valley in the past 18 months. This emphasises the very serious situation that exists. The Apple and Pear Growers Federation has referred to the stabilisation plan envisaged in the present legislation as a support scheme to replace devaluation. I might add that it is a very poor support scheme at that. For many years, we enjoyed the benefits that came from the difference in currency values. The old English £1 was worth 25s Australian when we received the returns for fruit sold in the United Kingdom. This bonus, as it were, of 25 per cent was the cream on the skim milk and for years the industry prospered. Certainly we had bad years. I well remember friends of mine receiving a bill of 2s 6d for 250 cases of apples sold in the old country but these were the exceptions rather than the general rule.
However, 2 matters have caused the present downturn in the industry. The first was the devaluation of the English currency. When this happened in 1967 the cream for us was gone. As the present Minister for the Interior said at that time, this Government had thrown the primary industries to the wolves. He accused the present Prime Minister of smothering the devastating damage done to our export industries under a flood of high sounding economic jargon. And he was right at the time but he has been very silent on this matter ever since. This Government, in its decision not to devalue, agreed to compensate growers and paid about 50c per bushel for apples and pears consigned to devalued markets. But the damage had been done. In the first year following devaluation, 1968, some 68 per cent of growers in northern Tasmania had net farm incomes below S2.000 per annum, despite the fact that they received on an average about $1,900 per orchard in devaluation compensation. If you take out the devaluation compensation the net return for the year was only $1 00.
If there had been no devaluation compensation, growers in northern Tasmania in 1968 would have had a net farm income of minus $1,200. Growers in southern Tasmania would have been little better off with a net farm income of plus S600. Taken over the whole State of Tasmania in 1968 devaluation payments represented $2,513 of the average net farm income of $2,744 for each orchard. These figures come from the survey conducted by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. From this it can be seen that devaluation compensation has helped, but not enough, and now it is to be replaced by a support scheme through stabilisation. The support price this year will be even less than the devaluation compensation. So how are they to exist? The Bill before us provides that the basic limitation of fruit forwarded on consignment is a total quantity of 4.4 million bushels. This quantity could attract the maximum payment of 80c per bushel.
As the quantity exported at risk goes above 4.4 million bushels, the maximum rate of payment per bushel will be reduced pro rata. Mr Jenkins of the Australian Apple and Pear Board announced recently that the quantity forwarded on consignment this last season amounted to 7.5 million bushels. So by working on the formula 4.4 multiplied by 80c divided by 7.5 the support price for this season will mean a return of 47c to the grower if his fruit does not reach the price listed in column 2 of the Second Schedule of the Act. And of course, in many cases, the fruit will not reach the prices listed in the Second Schedule and so all the grower can expect is 47c in place of the previous devaluation compensation of around 50c per bushel. I spoke with some exporters in the Huon Valley last week and they estimated a stabilisation return of about 45c. If, as the BAE survey showed, we were going from bad to worse with the 50c odd under devaluation, what will be the position when this is reduced to about 45c? 1 have with me the returns only recently received by some growers. The first applies to 173 cartons of Jonathans shiped on the Britannic’ to Liverpool at an f.o.b. return to the grower of $304.20 - an average of $1.75 per carton. In view of the large quantity shipped from Australia on consignment and the support price for jonathans as listed in the Second Schedule being $2.58, this grower can expect to receive an additional 47c from the pool, making a total of $2.22 f.o.b. for his fruit. It costs a grower $2.91 to put a case of apples on the wharf in Tasmania, so this grower will show a loss of 69c a bushel even after receiving his contribution from the stabilisation plan. Even with stabilisation he loses $119 on this shipment. For the sake of the record, with the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Mansard an analysis of production and marketing costs as determined for the 1971 season in Tasmania. It is on this table that I base my calculations.
I thank the Minister for his courtesy.
-Order! I have reminded the House a couple of times recently when honourable members have asked to have documents incorporated in Hansard that it is not necessary for honourable members to acknowledge the courtesy of a Minister. I again draw the attention of honourable members to this matter.
– That table itemises the production costs at 76c per bushel. The harvesting costs are 20c; presentation costs $1.65; interest and depreciation 30c. It costs a Tasmanian grower a total of $2.91 to put a case of apples on the wharf in Tasmania. If you add the shipping and marketing charges which come to $3.33 the total cost is $6.24 which the grower must receive in the United Kingdom before he makes a penny for himself. From this, it can be seen it costs $1.65 simply to present a carton of apples and this does not allow for any return to the grower for his labour, sprays or fertilisers and all the expenses that go to putting the fruit on the trees. He has to get $2.91 at the wharf before he breaks even.
The exporter in Tasmania takes 25c for every carton. The freight to the United Kingdom is $2.23 per carton. The person who sells the carton in the United Kingdom gets 85c. And all this means that the grower who sells at risk must get $6.24 for each carton overseas before he breaks even. Herein lies another weakness in the stabilisation plan. It is related to f.o.b. returns and has no relation to shipping and marketing charges in the United Kingdom and on the Continent. These can continue to sky-rocket as they have in recent years and the grower has no control over them and yet we have to face the prospect of another 22 per cent freight increase this year. I simply ask: How many people in the United Kingdom can afford to pay $6.24 for a carton of Tasmanian apples, and this charge is soon to be increased to almost $7 if the freight increase is to apply?
I turn to another export return. This grower receives $150.31 for 103 cartons of jonathans shipped in the ‘Britannic’ to Hamburg. This gives him a return of $1.46 f.o.b. and does not even cover the presentation costs of $1.64. In other words he is down the drain 20c a carton simply after packing them in a carton and transporting them to the wharf. After taking into account his labour, spray and fertiliser costs, he will lose $1.45 on each carton and this loss will be reduced to $1 after he receives his contribution from the stabilisation plan. The grower does all the work and takes all the risks, yet the middle-men and the freight people take all the profit. Let me point out the expenses in connection with this shipment of 103 cartons in another way to highlight how everyone else gets his cut and the grower is forced to take what is left over - and as I have pointed out, this left over will not cover his costs of production.
The main expenses for this shipment are: Freight $229.69 - mind you that is for 103 cartons; the freight charge was $229.69; exporters fee $25.75; importers commission $31.50; handling charges $34.75; landing charges $41.62. The fruit realised $525.55 but charges after leaving Tasmania amounted to approximately $374. Thus the grower is left with $150 to cover all the expenses of his own labour, packing and presentation costs and freight in getting his 103 cartons on to the wharf in Tasmania ready for export. In other words, the expenses after leaving Tasmania amounted to 75 per cent of what the fruit brought overseas and to me this is the weakness in the stabilisation plan because the grower is still at the mercy of the shipping companies and fruit importers and exporters.
There is no doubt in my mind that the figure of 4.4 million as appearing in section 1 1 , sub-section 2 (b) of the Bill is totally unrealistic when compared to the total exports at risk of Australian apples and pears. This figure should be amended to a more realistic figure. Much play has been made of the fact that the pool payment to the grower is 80c but this is misleading, and as the quantity on consignment rises the pool payment is reduced. As I have indicated, the pool payment this year will bc about 47c based on an export figure of 7i million bushels.
There is another aspect that amazes me and this is the different support prices for various varieties of apples and pears. I know the excuse that the experts put up. A greater support price is given for granny smiths but they are going out of popularity. This extra support is to try to encourage more people to grow them but the returns this year do not indicate that the granny smiths warrant this additional support price. 1 cannot see why we did not have the one support price because it costs the same amount to grow a bushel of apples whether they are jonathans sturmers or democrats or any other variety. I realise there has been this move to encourage the growing of granny smiths but this move is not justified by the figures. I consider too that section 7 of the Act relating to support prices for the different varieties of fruit should be amended to allow for the increases in the cost of cartons and wages, components of the f.o.b. price, which have risen since the support prices for last season were determined and listed in column 2 of the Second Schedule of the Act. To illustrate my point, there has been a rise of 6 per cent in national wages since these prices were determined on 1st October 1970. The Act provides for the support price for each variety of fruit to be determined on 1st October in the year preceding the export season under consideration. In view of this it is only reasonable to request that an escalating clause or arrangement be included to make provision for any increase in the components of the f.o.b. price for the particular season. 1 have referred to the rot that set in in this industry when this Government decided not to devalue in 1967 and offered the fruit industry compensation for devaluation. 1 have some knowledge of the fruit industry, having been associated with a fourth generation fruit growing family for over 30 years. The industry prospered right through from the turn of the century to the 1960s and, contrary to what the Minister for Primary Industry said in Hobart last week the industry has put its house in order with marked improvements in harvesting and packing to meet the rising costs. I admit that it desperately needs a single marketing authority. Credit must go to the exporting firms and I deplore the action of the Government members who write them down. Credit must go to these exporting firms which in recent difficult years have kept the orchards afloat through their advances to enable orchardists to buy sprays and manures and packing material so that the crop can be harvested. The Chairman of the State Fruit Board, Mr Walker, also was critical of the Minister’s comments in Hobart. The industry has pruned out the unwanted sizes and varieties to which the Minister referred and the fruit has arrived at overseas markets in better condition than fruit from other countries. As Mr Walker points out, the biggest problem facing the industry is the increase in the basic freight rate.
I pointed out that in 1968 the devaluation payments represented $2,513 of the average net orchard income of $2,744, leaving only $213 after the payment for devaluation for a year’s hard work in tilling the soil, picking and packing and putting the crop on the seas. I do not know how much longer the industry can continue. Unless the Government accepts the amendment moved by the Opposition there will be a mass exodus of growers. I have not much time remaining. The returns T quoted earlier were from an orchard in the Mersey Valley but I draw the attention of honourable members to another case. For 220 cartons of democrats that were sent on the Rockhampton Star* to Rotterdam and Florence there was a return of 2,365 Danish florins. The cost of getting them there was 2,783 Danish florins and the debit return to the grower was 418 Danish florins or, converted to our currency, $104.50. That was for 220 cartons of democrats. He had to receive a return of at least $650.20 in order to break even. He had to pay that $650.20, and in addition to that had to pay $104 in order to satisfy the debit that these apples attracted. I close on this point because time is not on my side. I should have liked an opportunity to expand on the single marketing authority in support of the Opposition’s amendment I appeal to the Minister, who I think realises that we are in a desperate position. The figures that I have cited prove this to be so. I have stacks of returns from the Huon, the Tamar and the Mersey valleys, if the Minister is interested in them.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 seek the indulgence of the House to withdraw certain remarks that I made during the debate.
– The honourable member may proceed.
– 1 had been told, and 1 said, that 9 ships had been held up in Port Adelaide recently for 10 days. The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) has informed me that my remark was incorrect and, furthermore, that Port Adelaide has an outstanding record for the small number of hours lost due to strike action of the wharves. If this is so, I certainly withdraw the remarks that I made.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbett) adjourned.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Tolai Cocoa Project (Question No. 3662)
External Territories, upon notice:
What has been the (a) date and (b) nature of alterations in the statutory, administrative and financial arrangements affecting the Tolai Cocoa Project in 1969 and subsequent years.
The matter referred to is one which falls within the authority of the Ministerial Member for Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries in the House of Assembly for Papua and New Guinea. The Administrator, on the advice of the Ministerial Member for Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries, has provided the following information:
There has been no change in the statutory, administrative and financial arrangements affecting the Tolai Cocoa Project in 1969 and subsequent years.
The proclamations establishing the Gazelle Council as a multi-racial Council and subsequent reversion of the Council to mono-racial status did not affect ownership of any of the assets of the Council and the Tolai Cocoa Project remained a business enterprise of the Council throughout the period.
The Council sometime ago resolved to transfer the assets for the project to a wholly indigenous owned company, but this transfer has not yet taken place since it has not been possible to satisfy some of the conditions which the Council attached to the transfer.’
War Service Homes (Question No. 4159)
What percentage of War Service Homes built in Australia since World War II consist of (a) 4 rooms, (b) 5 rooms, and (c) more than 5 rooms.
Particulars of homes built under the War Service Homes Act since the end of World War II have not been recorded on a basis which would enable an answer to be provided to the honourable member’s question.
Papua and Queensland Continental Shelf (Question No. 2342)
Aboriginals: Crime Statistics (Question No. 3161)
Statistics relating to race are not kept by the New South Wales Department of Corrective Services.
Departmental figures relating to prisoners and convictions are maintained without reference to race.
The Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs does not compile statistics of this nature and the Queensland Prisons Department, while recording racial origin at time of conviction, does not collate statistics relating to race.
The Aboriginal population is estimated at 0.07 per cent. Statistics relating to Aborigines are not kept for prisoners or convictions.
and (c) No statistics are kept about prisoners or persons convicted of criminal offences which enable comparisons to be made on the basis of racial origins of each of the categories of persons.
The Public Solicitor provides a range of services to members of the public in New South Wales, which includes but is not specifically for Aborigines. The Aboriginal Legal Service has been recently set up under the auspices of the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales. It provides legal aid services for Aboriginal people on a voluntary basis.
Under the Aboriginal Affairs Act 1967, Section 37, special provisions are made as follows:
In addition, all citizens of Victoria, including Aborigines, have access to the services of the
Public Solicitor and, where appropriate, to the Legal Aid Committee.
In Queensland, a District Officer appointed pursuant to The Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Affairs Acts of 1965-67’, is authorised to appear in court on behalf of any Aborigine categorised as ‘assisted’ in terms of this Statute. A District Officer may also examine and crossexamine witnesses and may address the jury. In practice, this procedure is usually limited to lower court hearings, i.e. at magisterial level. Should the case progress to a superior court the defendant is normally afforded, in the absence of sufficient personal means to engage counsel, the normal faciities which extend to any other Queenslander under provisions of The Poor Prisoner’s Defence Act.’
In South Australia, there is a Police Standing Order that before charges are made against Aborigines for committing serious offences, the Police must first contact the Welfare Officers of the Department of Social Welfare and of Aboriginal Affairs. In addition the Law Society of South Australia provides legal aid to all people needing it, including Aborigines. In most Aboriginal cases, such legal aid is free.
Aborigines are eligible to apply for legal aid through the Law Society of Western Australia which administers a legal aid scheme for people of limited means. Where necessary the Department of Community Welfare assists Aborigines to make application for legal assistance and in respect of such applications ensures that all necessary application forms are completed.
Aborigines are eligible to apply through the Free Legal Aid Service which is avjilable to all persons in poor circumstances.
The Director of Social Welfare for the Territory is required to give special care and assistance to people who are socially or economically in need. This includes providing such legal assistance as may, in the opinion of the Director, be necessary or appropriate. Under these provisions the Director of Social Welfare provides funds for the employment of legal advisers for Aborigines in civil or criminal actions except where minor offences with a plea of ‘guilty’ are involved. Every case involving an Aboriginal person charged with a criminal offence is considered by the Welfare authorities to determine what legal assistance should be made available.
Typewriters: Dvorak Keyboard (Question No. 3469)
Nuclear Power Reactor (Question No. 3744)
Aboriginals: Yirrkala Council Policy Submissions (Question No. 3903)
Child Endowment and Student Allowance (Question No. 4074)
In view of the proposed changes in child endowment in the Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1971, what will be the total effect on payments received from his Department when the eldest child turns 16 and becomes eligible for a student allowance, rather than child endowment, in the case of a family with (a) 2 other children, (b) 3 other children, (c) 4 other children, (d)5 other children, (e) 6 other children and (0 7 other children.
When the proposals contained in the Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1971 become operative, the change that will occur in the total weekly amount payable, for a family when a child attains the age of 16 years and attracts student endowment, is set out in the table below:
It should be kept in mind that if this Government had not introduced student endowment (which it did in 1964) payments received would have decreased by $1.50 per week per endowed student, over and above the figures shown in the above table.
Information Furnished by NonGovemment Schools
In March 1969 the Australian Education Council, made up of the State Ministers for Education, decided that each State Education Department should undertake a survey of its educational needs in primary and secondary education and in the preparation of teachers over a five year period. Because it believed that information about the position of non-government schools was relevant to considerations by both the States and the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth asked the States to include the needs of non-government schools in their surveys. The States did so only under category 9 - scholarships, and only in respect of the estimated cost of applying existing policies to expected enrolments in non-government schools over the five years in question 1971 to 1975.
Information in respect of the survey of government schools was published by the Australian Education Council in September 1970. Subsequently the Commonwealth sought further information from the States about government schools and, while this was being obtained, the Department of Education and Science invited nongovernment schools throughout Australia to provide additional material in an effort to obtain information in a form comparable to that provided for government schools.
The present report summarises the information provided by the nongovernment schools in response to the Department’s invitation. That invitation was based, without comment, on the method and scope of the survey conducted by the Australian Education Council for government schools.
Questionnaires were addressed to Catholic education authorities and to individual non-Catholic schools. Returns were requested by 22 February 1971, but a number of returns received after this date was included in the final compilation. Returns included in the compilation represented all Catholic schools (one return having been received from each State for all Catholic Schools in that State) and 65 per cent of enrolments at non-Catholic schools. A further small number of returns from the latter group was received after the tables had been compiled; these returns represent a further 9 per cent of nonCatholic school enrolments.
The data presented in the attached tables indicates the cost of achieving, for the period 1971 to 1975, what the nongovernment schools see as desirable levels of expenditure on capital items and on salaries, the major item of recurrent expenditure. The tables also show the financial resources which the school authorities estimate would be available to them and hence the expected shortfall between funds and resources. To assist them in providing material on a comparable basis schools were asked to estimate their income on the assumption thatfees and assistance from governments remained at the 1970 levels.
As a means of assessing the major recurrent needs of non-government schools, the questionnaire sought details of salary costs and funds available to meet these costs. Details of other recurrent needs were also invited but this information was not provided in sufficient returns to permit meaningful tables to be compiled.
Details of capital needs were sought under the following headings:
New Buildings - on a site not previously used for the same educational purpose e.g. a new school on a new site.
Replacement Buildings - on a site previously occupied by (a) outmoded or (b) temporary buildings, used for the same educational purpose, e.g. a new primary school to replace an old one.
Upgrading - to increase the efficiency of existing educational buildings e.g. the removal of inner walls to allow for greater flexibility in teaching.
Additions - new constructions (other than replacements) of additional buildings in an area already occupied by a school e.g. the building of an assembly hall where none existed before.
Proposed capital expenditure under each of these headings was further divided between buildings for tuition, cultural and miscellaneous, and boarding purposes.
The non-Catholic independent schools provided 196 returns covering 56 per cent of their primary enrolment and 69 per cent of their secondary enrolments. The returns were reasonably representative in their coverage of different types of schools e.g. country and city, primary and secondary, large and small, well established and recent.
The Catholic schools’ returns for two States did not provide all of the information requested-the principal deficiency was information on the availability of funds, especially on the capital side. For purposes of aggregation into Australia-wide totals, the Department made estimates of funds available in these two States based on the relation between available funds and total needs in Catholic schools in the other States.
The questionnaire included an invitation to give details of teacher-training needs, but the returns generally did not provide estimates in this area and it was not possible to arrive at any meaningful estimates of the non-governmental schools’ total teacher training needs.
In accordance with the understanding when answers to the questionnaire were prepared, information in respect of individual schools is being treated as confidential.
The following table gives an indication of the overall position of the nongovernment school during the period 1971 to 1975 within the terms of reference chosen by the Australian Education Council for the Nation-wide Survey of Educational Needs. As indicated above, a number of assumptions has had to be made in preparing the tables on which this summary is based.
The attached report gives the findings of the Survey of the educational needs in respect of the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory in the 5 years 1971 to 1975. It was prepared late in 1969 and early in 1970 and presented to the Australian Education Council in 1970. Estimates of future costs were based upon expenditure in 1968-69 and significant increases in costs have occurred since the survey was undertaken. For example salaries have increased more rapidly than the report allowed for.
In accordance with the procedure adopted by the Australian Education Council, this document is concerned primarily with the position in government schools. Non-government schools are covered only in respect of these activities for which direct government grants arc made.
Population growth in both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory since the time of the survey has led to enrolments which differ from those projected in 1969.
It should be emphasised that this survey is based on policies and practices which exist or which it has been agreed should as introduced in the near future. The survey estimates future needs as revealed by school population projections and other determinants of need which are known to the Department of Education and Science.
The results of these estimates are not to be regarded as meaning that the policies and practices on which they are based are necessarily those which will be in force in 1975.
Administrative arrangements in respect of the provision of educational services in the Northern Territory changed at the beginning of 1971. Consequent upon a decision by South Australia to withdraw its services from the Northern Territory over a 5 year period the Commonwealth has begun to recruit and employ teachers with a view to their absorption into a Commonwealth Teaching Service. Over the 5 year period increasing numbers of Commonwealth teachers will be recruited to replace the South Australian teachers in the Community Schools. A Commonwealth Director of Education (Community Schools) has been appointed to replace the South Australian Director who was formerly stationed in Darwin and also to assume some of the functions formerly carried out by the Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Education and Science in the Northern Territory.
At the time the survey was conducted submissions were invited from various associations concerned with education in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. Written material was received from
Two associations sent an interim submission and undertook to supply further material at a later date.
The material already in hand is wide
Tanging and contains valuable suggestions on future educational arrangements. These will be taken into account in future educational planning in the Territories and, to this end, every opportunity will be offered the above mentioned organisations to develop their views in consultation with the Department.
At a meeting in March 1969 of the Australian Educational Council which comprises the six State Ministers of Education, it was decided that each State should conduct a survey, according to common terms of reference, of what its educational needs would be in the 5 years 1970 to 1974. The period to be covered by the survey was later changed to cover 1971 to 1975.
Because of its responsibility for education in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth has co-operated with the States by conducting an investigation of the needs in these Territories. Except where specified otherwise, the survey is concerned only with Government schools.
The terms of reference adopted by the Australian Education Council and consequently used in the survey of the educational needs of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are:
In respect of all levels of education up to the completion of secondary schooling and in respect of teacher education, the surveys will:
Examine the needs of the State/ Territory in such matters as:
The surveys will have regard to standards of provision reuired for high quality education suited to modern education systems’.
In making an assessment of needs some twelve areas of investigation were determined. These headings are:
All estimates of costs were based upon the 1968-1969 expenditure. Allowance was made for a 5 per cent per annum increase in salaries and general recurrent costs in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory and for a 3 per cent per annum increase in building costs in the Australian Capital Territory and 4 per cent per annum in the Northern Territory. The December 1969 national wage decision of a 3 per cent increase was also taken into consideration when estimating the various costs.
In each section of the A.C.T. survey, the following estimates have been used in forecasting needs:
Primary and secondary education in government schools is administered jointly by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science and the New South
Wales Department of Education. The Commonwealth Department is responsible for general policy and it provides, furnishes, equips and maintains buildings and co-ordinates general educational services, while the New South Wales Department of Education administers staff, curriculum and professional services, the cost of these being reimbursed by the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth’s responsibilities in the administration of education in the Australian Capital Territory ‘ are shared between the Territorial Education Branch and the General Educational Facilities Branch both of which lie in the Educational Facilities and Territorial Education Division of the Department of Education and Science.
Salaries of administrative staff, reduced proportionately for those officers having responsibilities beyond the Australian Capital Territory schools system, amounted to $65,000 in 1968-69. Incidental administrative expenditure amounted to $22,000, making a total administrative cost of $87,000.
Administration of teaching is carried out through School Principals and Inspectors who report to the New South Wales Department of Education. This Department also maintains an Education Clinic and provides school counselling services which are co-ordinated through a District Guidance Officer. Reimbursement to the New South Wales Authority for salaries of inspectors and guidance staff and their clerical supporting staff totalled approximately $62,000 in 1968-69. In addition, a payment is made to the New South Wales Department for administrative overhead (including supply of basic expendable supplies to Australian Capital Territory schools, equal to 5 per cent of all salaries paid by that Department). This payment amounted to approximately $205,000 in 1968-69.
It is expected that present administrative costs, as outlined above, will rise in direct proportion to increases in enrolments over the 5 year period. Estimates of these costs are contained in the following table:
The New South Wales Department of Education provides teachers for Australian Capital Territory primary and secondary schools on the same basis as for New South Wales schools.
In 1968 the number of full-time (and equivalent full-time) teachers in primary schools was 461 and the number of pupils was 13,946, the figures for secondary schools were 399 teachers and 6,640 pupils, giving teacher-pupil ratios of:
In 1968, of a total of 416 primary classes - 123 had 30 or fewer pupils 170 had between 31 and 35 pupils 95 had between 36 and 40 pupils 28 had between 40 and 45 pupils. and of a total of 220 secondary English classes - 61 had 25 or fewer pupils 39 had between 26 and 30 pupils 50 had between 31 and 35 pupils 66 had between 36 and 40 pupils 4 had between 41 and 45 pupils.
Total reimbursement to the New South Wales Education Department for costs of teachers in the Australian Capital Territory in 1968-69 was $3,873,200.
In making the following estimates of teacher salary costs for Australian Capital Territory primary and secondary schools for 1971-75, estimates were based upon enrolment predictions and allowance was made for rising levels of salaries and increases in staff to enable a gradual reduction in class sizes to take place.
Clerical, Library and Laboratory Assistants and Cookery Maids are employed by the New South Wales Department.
A 3 year plan is at present in operation in New South Wales schools to provide ancillary staff as follows:
One full-time position in schools with enrolment above 600 in the primary department.
One part-time position (15 hours per week) for schools with enrolment below 600 in the primary department.
One Teachers’ Aide for schools with more than 5 kindergarten classes, and
One part-time Aide for schools with more than 2 kindergarten classes.
One Aide to 3 class teachers or 2 Aides to 5 teachers.
Some of these provisions have already been implemented in the Australian Capital Territory. The additional costs involved in bringing the Australian Capital Territory into line with the New South Wales proposals would be for Teachers’ Aides in Infants and Special schools, the additional cost of which would be $20,000 for 1970.
Estimated costs of ancillary services for 1971-75 including these new proposals are:
The National Capital Development Commission is the design and construction authority for all Departmental educational buildings erected in Canberra. In some other parts of the Australian Capital Territory construction and design work is performed by the Department of Works. The Department of Education and Science informs the Commission and the Department of Works of its specific building requirements assessed on the basis of educational needs. These requirements are under continuous review by Committees established for the purpose of ensuring that the accommodation meets educational needs and that the layouts of teaching and other spaces are functional while at the same time endeavouring to obtain the best value for money to be spent on the buildings, services and grounds.
There are 47 schools in the Australian Capital Territory. Of these, 33 have been built since 1958. Replacement therefore will not be a significant factor during the period under review.
Estimated annual costs for new buildings based on anticipated enrolment increases for the period will be:
Estimated capital costs consist of the cost of building new schools and estimated recurrent costs include maintenance, cleaning costs and janitors’ wages. Allowance has been made for increasing costs and rising salaries.
The following site areas are used:
Primary schools - 8-10 acres
Secondary schools - 20-25 acres
Sites are crown land and consequently no cost is incurred in their acquisition. Site development costs are included in ‘4’ above. School sites are adjacent to neighbourhood or district recreation areas which provide additional sporting and recreational facilities.
Australian Capital Territory schools are supplied with certain consumable materials on the same basis as these are supplied on annual requisition to New South Wales schools, e.g., chalk, stationery, etc. The cost of these items is recouped by the New South Wales Department of Education.
The Commonwealth provides further supplies of selected consumable materials and in addition supplies items of nonconsumable equipment. Subsidies are also made to Parents and Citizens Associations for library books and physical education equipment.
Grants to government schools for iibrary books are on the following basis:
The amount of $2,000 spread over twofinancial years.
Subsidies 40 cents in the dollar tor all books purchased by Parents Associations.
Grants to independent schools for library books are covered in Section 13.
In estimating future costs it has been assumed that no major changes in the method of provision of equipment and supplies for schools will take place. Costs to the Commonwealth of direct supplies to government schools including library book grants for government schools only are estimated to be:
-7. PRE-SERVICE EDUCATION OF TEACHERS
Pre-service education for teachers in government primary and secondary schools is controlled by the New South Wales Department of Education. It is not envisaged at present that there will be changes to the present teacher training provicions during the period 1971-75.
The Canberra College of Advanced Education through its School of Education plans to provide a three-year course for primary and pre-primary teacher training commencing in 1971 and a one-year postgraduate course for secondary : cacher training commencing in 1972. Expenditure on the College is made through the programme recommended by the Common wealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education, therefore no separate estimate of costs for this aspect of the College’s programme has been attempted.
All courses of in-service training for school teachers are at present arranged by the New South Wales Department of Education.
Consideration is now oeing given to making in-service courses available in Canberra by utilising the resources of the Canberra College of Advanced Education. These courses could not be introduced before 1971 and it has not been possible to include any estimate of costs in this survey.
Commonwealth secondary scholarships are available throughout Australia and have been dealt with in a later section. In the Australian Capital Territory,the Minister may award bursaries to pupils entering first year at a secondary school. These bursaries are awarded . on results obtained at a special Bursary. Examination set by the New South Wales Department of Education. The Minister may also award bursaries on results obtained by students at the annual School Certificate Examination.
Bursaries at each level may be awarded annually. Allowances range from $39 per annum to $300 per annum, subject to a means test based on family income. There is also a text book allowance which ranges from $3 per annum to $8 per annum and is paid in addition to a basic text book allowance which is available, on application, to all pupils in Secondary Schools.
In 1968-69 the cost of this scheme was $1,200. The conditions governing awards of bursaries and the number made available are subject to review. At present rates, costs are unlikely to exceed $1,500 per annum, giving a maximum expenditure figure of $7,500 over the next five years.
All new secondary schools, both government and non-government, are eligible to receive an initial grant of $2,000 to establish a text-book hiring service, and annual allowances are paid to all schools according to the number of pupils in each form as follows:
Forms 1 and 2 - $4 per pupil
Form 3 - $6 per pupil
Form 4 - $10 per pupil
Forms 5 and 6 - $16 per pupil
Estimates of expenditure over the next five years for government schools are as follows:
In 1968 buses were used by 6,000 pupils travelling to and from school (3,700 to Government and 2,300 to NonGovernment schools) and by pupi ls travelling to and from sport and other special activities, at a total cost of $203,000, of which $163,000 was paid to the Department of the Interior and $40,000 to contractors for rural services. The cost to pupils is 2 cents per trip.
The total may be apportioned.
Although the costs involved in transporting Canberra school children will continue to rise, the rate of increase should decline as schools are sited within areas they serve, adjacent to sports fields and on or near normal bus routes.
It is anticipated therefore that the average cost per child will remain constant and that costs for the period 1971-75 will be:
GOVERNMENT GRANTS TO INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS AND ORGANIZATIONS
The Commonwealth repays capital borrowed for approved construction costs of independent primary and secondary schools in the A.C.T. together with interest up to the long term bond rate, the first instalment of capital and interest to be made twelve months after the first drawing by a school against the approved loan. The Commonwealth has also taken over the repayment of the outstanding capital costs of independent schools built between 1056 and 1965.
Approval for the repayment of capital and the payment of interest is a matter for the Minister and decisions are made on the merits of each case. Estimates have therefore been based on present trends in the composition of the population and on the assumption that present policy considerations will be continued. No attempt has been made to give estimates for particular schools or particular areas.
Grants to non-government schools for library books are identical to those available for government schoois. They consist of initial grants and subsidies as follows:
The amount of $2,000 spread over two financial years.
Subsidies 40 cents in the dollar for all books purchased by Parents’ Associations.
Any new non-government secondary school in the A.C.T. is entitled to an initial grant of $2,000 to help establish a school text book hiring service. In addition, an annual text book allowance is paid on the basis of certified enrolments in each secondary form, at the following rates:
Forms 1 and 2 - $4 per pupil per annum
Form 3 - $6 per pupil per annum
Form 4- $10 per pupil per annum
Forms 5 and 6 - $16 per pupil per annum
Annual payments are made to nongovernment schools in the Australian Capital Territory on the basis of certified enrolments at the following rates:
Primary grades - $55 per pupil
Secondary grades - $80 per pupil in
Forms 1 and 2; $90 per pupil in
Forms 3 and 4; $95 per pupil in
In each section of the Northern Territory survey, the following estimates have been used in forecasting needs:
The Department of Education and Science has responsibility for providing educational facilities at the primary and secondary levels in the Northern Territory other than those provided by the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Adminis tration in special schools tor aboriginal children in government settlements, missions and pastoral properties. The Education Department of South Australia provides the teaching staff for the schools and the Commonwealth provides buildings, maintenance, transport services and school equipment.
The salaries of administration staff, reduced proportionately for those officers having responsibilities beyond the Northern Territory primary and secondary schools, amounted to an estimated $59,900in 1968-69.
Administration of teaching is carried out through heads of schools and inspectors, who report to the South Australian Education Department. The Commonwealth reimburses the South Australian Authority for salaries of all inspectorial and teaching staff, and for other expenditure associated with the provision of teachers for the Northern Territory. In addition, a payment is made to the South Australian authorities to cover administrative overheads. This payment amounts to 15 per cent of reimbursements.
Total administrative expenses for the 1971-75 period are estimated to be:
The South Australian Education Department provides teachers for Northern Territory primary and secondary schools. In 1969 there were 352 teachers in primary and secondary schools. The estimated cost of teachers’ salaries in 1969 was $1,650,640, of which 65 per cent was for primary teachers and 35 per cent for secondary.
It is anticipated that the number of teachers will increase proportionately to the increase in enrolments and also in accordance with envisaged improvements in pupil-teacher ratios. Therefore, in making the following estimates of teachers’ salaries for Northern Territory primary and secondary schools for 1971-75, the estimates were first based upon enrolment predictions using 1969 unit costs, and then increased to cover the cost of additional staff to enable a gradual reduction in class sizes to take place.
From the beginning of 1970, clerical assistance will be provided in Northern Territory primary and secondary schools according to the same formula as is used in South Australian schools.
This is as follows:
The clerical staff in Northern Territory schools are employed by the South Australian Department and the salaries reimbursed by the Commonwealth.
For 1970, the first year of its operation, the clerical assistance scheme is estimated to cost $47,000. On this basis, estimated expenditure on ancillary staff for the 1971- 75 period is as follows:
The Commonwealth Department of works is the design and construction authority for all Departmental educational buildings erected in the Northern Territory.
Estimates of annual expenditure on buildings are based on current cost levels and in addition to cateringfor additional enrolments include an allowance for replacement of schools and maintenance costs. Estimates of these costs are as follows:
The following site areas are used:
Primary schools - 8-10 acres
Secondary schools - about 25 acres
These acreages have been established on the understanding that schools are built adjacent to district recreation areas which provide additional sporting and recreational facilities.
As most sites are crown land it is unlikely that any acquisition costs will be incurred in the period under survey.
Equipment and expendable supplies are provided for Northern Territory schools by the South Australian Department and also by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth reimburses the South Australian Government for the cost of teaching materials and supplies, etc.
The following estimates of costs are based on the 1969/70 costs and are increased in proportion to enrolment increases.
Pre-service education for teachers in government primary and secondary schools is provided and controlled by the South Australian Department.
Some consideration is given to the cost of training teachers when arriving at the amount of 15 per cent, which is charged by South Australia for administrative overheads.
At present, courses of inservice training for school teachers in the Northern Territory are arranged and paid for by the South Australian Department of Education. The Commonwealth is now giving consideration to ways in which it might assist in providing inservice education for Northern Territory teachers. However, these proposals have not yet reached a stage where any estimates of cost can be made.
The Commonwealth provides assistance to students in the Northern Territory in the following ways:
It is anticipated that the cost of student assistance will rise in direct proportion to the increase in enrolments. The cost of scholarships for the five year period is estimated to be:
School transport is provided for children attending government and non-government schools in the main centres of population.
The transport scheme comprises services fully paid for by the government and provided in contractors’ or departmental buses, and subsidised services where the parents are expected to pay a small fee per journey.
The total cost of school transport for government and non-government school pupils in 1968/69 was $184,600. Of this, $139,000 was paid to the Northern Territory Administration for the use of government buses, and $45,600 to contractors.
It is anticipated that the transport costs will rise in proportion to the increase in primary and secondary enrolment for government and non-government schools. The cost for each of the next five years will therefore be:
On the basis of the projected increases of students within the Territory, it is envisaged that the cost of providing textbooks for pupils attending government and nongovernment schools for the period 1971-75 will be:
The Commonwealth makes the same provision for the repayment of loans for the construction of approved independent school buildings in the Northern Territory as in the Australian Capital Territory. Approval for the repayment of capital and the payment of interest is a matter for the Minister and decisions are made on the merits of each case. Estimates have been based on present trends in the composition of the school - growing population and the assumption that present policy considerations will be continued. No attempt has been made to give estimates for particular schools or particular areas.
Estimated expenditure on library facilities and books has been based on the continuation of current establishment grants to new non-government schools and the provision of library subsidies.
Costs of providing textbooks for all primary school children following the South Australian curriculum are included in parameter 11.
Per Capita grants are made annually to independent schools in the Northern Territory at the following rates:
Primary grades -$55 per pupil
Secondary grades - $80 per pupil in Forms 1 and 2; $90 per pupil in Forms 3 and 4.
Total Commonwealth Grants to nongovernment schools are estimated to be:
House adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 October 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19711005_reps_27_hor74/>.