27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable (he Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That on December 10, 1948, Australia signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Yet, 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, anaesthetics, special, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the $5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals. 10 per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Governmentto increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public inquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries.
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 residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth:
That they have no objection to the Aboriginal Embassy being on the lawns outside Parliament House.
That they believe that the Aborigine, in common with all other Australian citizens, have a right to assemble in any peaceful manner of their own choice.
And that they would object to any law that would make their being there illegal.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government does not enact any law that would detract from or hinder the rights of the Aborigines to be there.
And further that the Government instructs its officers not to interfere with the Aborigines who are peacefully assembled outside Parliament House. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I move:
In accordance with the requirements of standing order 132 I inform the House that I intend to submit a notice of motion in respect of the petition. If I might speak very briefly to that motion–
– No, the honourable member cannot canvass the subject matter of a petition.
-I do not wish to do that, Mr Speaker.
– The honourable member has moved that the petition be printed. He cannot canvass the subject matter of the petition.
-I do not intend to. Mr Speaker. I would like to say a few words as to the reasons why the petition should be printed. I do not intend to canvass or refer to the contents of the petition at all. lt is a well known fact that if a petition appears only in Hansard it will have limited publicity and limited reading. The rules require-
-Order! The honourable member cannot canvass the petition. However, for the benefit of all honourable members I point out that the honourable member can talk about the printing of the petition. As 1 have said, he cannot canvass or speak about the contents of the petition.
– 1 am indebted to you, Mr Speaker. As I said, it is a well known fact that petitions are not widely read because the publicity given to them is restricted generally to their appearance in Hansard. What I seek to do in having the petition printed is to take advantage of the situation which requires that papers and petitions which are printed be published as parliamentary papers - in the case of a petition the text but not the list of signatories is printed - and be included in the parliamentary papers series. I also wish to achieve the objective that the text pf the petition will then be distributed to recipients of parliamentary papers on the free distribution list. This would mean that the text of the petition will be distributed to recipients such as government departments and various universities and libraries as well as councils for Civil Liberties throughout Australia and overseas. In addition, it will be placed on sale to the public at Australian Government Publishing Service bookshops and sales outlets in capital cities and it will be bound in the annual series of parliamentary papers volumes which have a wide distribution in Australia and overseas. I understand that in Australia it goes to Commonwealth departments, State parliamentary libraries, public libraries, universities and college libraries. Overseas - I stress this in view of what the petition concerns itself with - it goes to certain central parliamentary and national public libraries, and important university libraries. If this matter is important, and I suggest it is because this petition deals with a matter of great concern namely, the widespread feeling that the Government may be about to take some action on a certain point of view concerning the demonstrators outside the front of Parliament
House, then it is important also that it be known and that this Government be shown up as expressing a fear and fright of demonstrators.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker.
-Order! The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory is enjoying the indulgence of the House in this matter.
-Order! I inform honourable members on both sides of the House as I have done previously that the honourable member has a perfect right to speak to this motion provided he does not deal with the subject matter of what is included in the petition.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have tried not to do so. Those are the principal reasons why I suggest the petition should be printed. The subject is one of great concern. Without canvassing the petition, there could not be a more fundamental subject than the ready access of citizens of Australia to this Parliament House, and it should be made as widely known as possible what this Government is thinking of doing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– 1 give notice that at the next sitting I will move:
That this House is of the opinion that -
No action should be taken that would alter the present structure of Government Aircraft Factories unless the proposed action is ratified in advance by the Parliament, and
An immediate assurance should be given to employees in the aircraft industry employed at Government Aircraft Factories that they will retain their present rights and conditions of employment if the structure of the industry is changed.
– I give notice that at the next sitting I will move:
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement made in Singapore by the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee that the right honourable gentlemen’s latest statements on China were unwise, in fact stupidity? In particular, has he noticed Senator Sim’s reported comment that Australian foreign policy should not rest in the hands of 2 Manchester Jews? Has he noted further Senator Sim’s comment that sending the Minister for External Territories to China would be sending a boy to a country where age is venerated and respected? If he has seen these comments, will he raise their content with Senator Sim when he returns from Singapore? Does he not agree that the tone of these comments, if correctly reported, is grossly offensive?
- Mr Speaker-
– The question was addressed to the Prime Minister. Why does he nol answer the question?
-Order! I gave a ruling on that yesterday, and the honourable member was in the House at the time.
-I have read this rather inflammatory report but I have not been able to check on the correctness or otherwise of it.
– There is the report.
-I am aware of the report.
-Order! The honourable member has asked his question.
-I have a copy of the report. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has a copy of it and I have a copy of it. But apparently he accepts anything that he reads without question; I do not. 1 would say this to the House: Experience not only of ourselves but of other countries has proved that in dealings with China and in relationship with China, care and privacy are necessary if you are going to be successful. This is a lesson we have all learned, and what the Opposition in this Parliament is seeking constantly to do is to make it headline stuff all the time and sabotage any efforts that the Government can responsibly make. It is evident. It is going on from day to day. and this is just another example.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Now that the last of our combatant troops are returning from South Vietnam, will the Minister make a statement to the House and for the information of the people of Australia, covering our participation in the war in Vietnam? Will he include in the statement information about the conditions existing in Vietnam which prompted us to go to the assistance of the South Vietnamese when they were fighting desperately for their freedom from Communist aggression, and about the conditions now existing which enable them to mount and maintain their own defence? In other words, will he let all Australians know what our defence forces helped to achieve, and that this is not a withdrawal from a conflict but the completion of a job well done?
– I think that the hoarourable member’s suggestion that I should make a statement in this House is an. excellent one. I will confer with my colleagues, and in particular with the Leader of the House, to see whether suitable time is available. I will let the houourable member know at a later date whether this can be done. But in a nutshell, of course, basically the conditions in Vietnam were that in 1962 the Australian Army sent in some advisers and some instructors. As the position deteriorated as a result of Vietcong and North Vietnamese attacks, in 1966 combat troops were sent into Phuoc Tuy province. When the Australian troops arrived there they discovered the Vietcong deeply entrenched. In fact, it was said at the time that one-third of the population and two-thirds of the area of South Vietnam were under Vietcong control. As a result of the assistance given by the United States, by the Australian troops, by South Koreans and by others, the South Vietnamese have been able to build up their strength enormously. Today they have permanent forces of, I believe, 1,100,000 permanently under arms, which is an enormous army and a very strong one for a nation of that size. In addition, they have regional forces, popular forces and people’s self defence forces.
Today the South Vietnamese have a community which is politically stable and economically suitable. It is true that there is still aggression from outside. A major attack from the North Vietnamese, supported by equipment from Russia and China, is expected very shortly. However, everyone to whom I have spoken believes that this attack can be contained and that ali the North Vietnamese will get out of it will be heavy casualties and loss of most of their Chinese and Russian equipment. On the other hand, the internal insurgency situation is very much better than it was; it is minimal. I certainly hope so, because I am going there next week-end. I will certainly give consideration to the statement as the honourable member has requested. I believe that this will be well worth while. 1 might say that, in collaboration with my colleague the Minister for the Army I am looking at the possibility of the holding of some nationwide marches on Anzac Day to enable the people of Australia to pay a tribute 10 the fine spirit of everything that was done by the Australians in Vietnam.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Industry ever asked the Tariff Board to inquire and report whether a manufacturer is taking unfair advantage of the protection afforded him by the tariff by charging unnecessarily high prices for his goods? The right honourable gentleman will recognise the quotation from a section of the Tariff Board Act, which has not been amended since it was first enacted over 50 years ago. I also ask him whether and when his predecessor, who administered the Act for 15 years, ever invoked this statutory safeguard.
– 1 cannot say that I have ever invoked it. 1 certainly refer to the Tariff Board matters for examination, on 2 grounds. The first is when an industry has been before me seeking greater protection, and the matter has been sent to the Tariff Board for re-examination. The second is when people have been before the Department and put up a case that the existing tariffs are too high, and these have been referred to the Tariff Board. This has not involved my initiative or intervention. It has been action taken on the initiative of somebody else. I do not know of any particular case in which the Government has directed the Minister to move in and ask for a particular examination. What we have said, as Government policy, is that there should now be a progressive review of the tariff. Honourable members will recall that I made a policy statement, about this time last year, that for the first time since 1929 - a period of about 40 years - a major innovation was brought about whereby the Tariff Board itself made a recommendation to the Government about which areas of the tariff ought to be examined, without the initiative coming from those who wanted more protection or less protection.
As a result of that decision we have referred to the Tariff Board parts of chapter 84 of the tariff. This chapter deals with a wide range of machinery. We will be referring to the Tariff Board questions relating to the manufacture of metals. Many of these have not been examined for a long time or have never been examined. So this is a major step forward in examining the level of protection. I would not like to see the Government decide just on its own initiative that protection was too high in one area. I think there ought to be complaints from somebody to attract Government action. If the Leader of the Opposition is trying to find reasons for justifying Labor’s new policy, that it is going to have selective cuts in tariffs because it appears that in one section prices might bc too high or unjustified, then this is a major policy change.
In his answer on television when he used his famous phrase about the carrot and the stick, he was not suggesting that the matter should be referred back to the Tariff Board. He was implying that the Government would take immediate action because if it were to be referred back to the Tariff Board it could require a very lengthy period before a decision was made. The Leader of the Opposition was not implying that decisions were going to take 6 months, 12 months or maybe 2 or 3 years. He is going to act immediately by using the big stick. It was the Labor Party’s doctrinaire policy coming to the surface again. Its members play their doctrinaire policies very quietly before an election but we know that underneath their socialistic tendencies still prevail and this became quite obvious when we got into this question of price control and the use of selective tariffs to make price control work.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has he seen a reference in the Press to the 1971 Foreign Policy report of Mr Rogers, the United States Secretary of State, in which United States relations with Australia and New Zealand are discussed? Has the Minister seen the report of the Secretary of State? If so, did it indicate any basic change in United States relations with Australia?
– I did see a reference in the Press to the report. The report was published only yesterday and I have not received a copy of it. There is very close consultation between the present Government and all levels of the Administration in America. Secretary of State Rogers was kind enough to send me an advance copy of those sections which dealt with Australia and New Zealand, the section dealing with the South Pacific and a summary of the main points of his statement. I think that honourable members will like to read the report when it is available in Australia because it does emphasise that although America is withdrawing its ground troops from Asia it still regards the Pacific area as vital to its security. It mentions the ANZUS Treaty which, of course, involves Australia and New Zealand. We know how vital this is to our security. I think the significance of the change in Labor policy at Launceston needs to be considered because the effect of that decision is to eliminate the military aspects, the defence and security aspects, of ANZUS. I think that Opposition members should read this foreign policy statement because carrying their policy into effect would not only damage relations with America but also isolate Australia in what is probably one of the most volatile and potentially dangerous areas in the world. I do not claim to retain the con tents of the report in my head but one phrase did strike me and I will get as close to it as I can.
– I rise to order. Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the length of the answer. If the question had anything to do with Labor Party policy I am going deaf.
– Order! The Minister is now dealing with an extract from the report that was mentioned in the question.
– The Secretary of State said that ANZUS is as vital to the 3 partners in the changing circumstances of the 1970s as it was during the period of the cold war.
– I ask the Prime Minis ter whether it is a fact that he revealed on Tuesday night that he had not been consulted on the speech in which the Treasurer speculated about a family unit tax. If so, has he taken the strong action against the Treasurer which the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ in its editorial in the later edition yesterday declared he would be justified in taking?
– I was telephoned late on Tuesday night by a member of the Press gallery who represents the ‘Daily Telegraph’.I want to make my position absolutely clear in relation to the Treasurer and myself. I listened with great attention to the answer given by the Treasurer to a question asked of him and I found it totally satisfactory so far as I was concerned. Secondly I believe that what the Treasurer said was misreported. Consequently I agree with the statement that he made. Thirdly, there was no reason whatsoever why the Treasurer should have consulted me. Finally, I believe that what is happening in this case is totally irrelevant to the business of the House. There is nit picking by the Opposition and an attempt to prevent question time from being satisfactorily used in order to elicit information that will be valuable to the community. I have no difference whatsoever with the Treasurer on this issue.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to recent discussions with the States in which the Commonwealth has agreed to make further special revenue assistance, available to the States. During such discussions and agreements have any arrangements been made that would enable local government bodies to receive a proportion of the, funds being made available by the Commonwealth?
– There was no specific reference to the local government bodies. The honourable gentleman will remember that in the hand-over of payroll tax to the States specific provision was made whereby the Commonwealth failed to deduct from the total of the grants that amount which the States would be able to give to the local government bodies by exempting them from payroll tax on their noncommercial activities. But in the more recent discussions there was no specific reference to local government bodies, lt is the objective of the Commonwealth to provide the States with a sufficient level of funds so that the States themselves can take what policy actions they wish in relation to local government bodies. Under our Constitution local government bodies are created, regulated and have statutory provisions made for them by the, State governments, so to the extent that we can do so having regard to the totality of competing priorities in Australia, we provide the States with as much money as we can so that they can discharge that obligation.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to the collapse of another fly-by-night fraudulent insurance company in New South Wales, Cosmopolitan Insurance Co., involving some $350,000? Is it a fact that this company was taken over by Life Funds of Australia? Is he aware that 12 insurance companies have now become bankrupt in the last 2 years, involving well over $5m? Following repeated promises over 18 months, on 9th December 1971 the honourable gentleman gave an undertaking to bring in during this session the necessary legislation to give adequate coverage to policy holders in the field of general insurance throughout this country. When in fact will this legislation be tabled?
– As to the company mentioned and the ramifications of who owns it and who took it over, I make no comment because 1 do not have that infor mation in my head. But I think the significant point that the honourable gentleman raises in his question is: When will legislation come in?
– This session.
– I am hoping that it will be in this session. Fortunately, special arrangements have been able to be made for the drafting of the legislation. All the policy decisions were taken some weeks ago. The policy decisions having been taken, it is a matter of translating them into the actual written word of the Bill. I pay tribute to the State Government of Victoria and to the Victorian Parliamentary Draftsman. We have had made available to us the services of a very outstanding draftsman, who happens to be a lady draftsman, who will be working on this task. I hope that 1 will have the draft legislation before too many weeks have passed.
– My question to the Prime Minister concerns proposals by the State to hold a constitutional convention to modernise the Constitution. Will the Prime Minister assure the House that the Commonwealth will give full support and encouragement to the holding of this convention? Secondly, will he endeavour to have at the convention representation of local government authorities to give them an independent voice in decisions which directly affect the activities of local government which are so close to the people? Above all, will the Prime Minister ensure that at the convention every attempt is made by the Commonwealth, in cooperation with the States, to have allocated to the Commonwealth the full powers it needs in modern times to carry out its responsibilities?
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I seek your guidance. Two days ago I asked the Prime Minister a similar question about the role of local government. He said that he would send on that part of my question. If the question I asked had been on notice, the question asked by the honourable member for Diamond Valley would be out of order. I would suggest that the same should apply to a question without notice.
– Order! Unless the question asked is the same as one which has been asked previously, I must allow it. I doubt whether the Prime Minister heard that part of the question to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred and I ask the honourable member for Diamond Valley to repeat it.
– The second part of my question was: Will the Prime Minister endeavour to have, representation at the convention by local government authorities to give them an independent voice in decisions which directly affect the activities of local government which are so close to the people? I did not ask -
– I rise again on a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question confirms my recollection of this matter. Two days ago I asked the Prime Minister whether the Government would express the view to the States that any constitutional convention should be attended by delegates of local . government and semi-government authorities. The right honourable, gentlemen replied that he would refer that part of my question to the Premiers of the States.
-Order! I think that in his question the honourable member for Diamond Valley went further than did the Leader of the Opposition in his question.
– The first part is in order..
– This is another illustration of the attitude of the Opposition. (Opposition members interjecting)-
-Order! There seems to be a certain attempt in some quarters to prevent the Prime Minister from being heard. I tell the House that this will not happen.
– Thank you, Sir. That is exactly the view I wish to express. To answer the question of the honourable member for Diamond Valley: I have given considerable attention to the problem that he has raised. I have spoken to the AttorneyGeneral about it during the course of the last few days. In my view the Constitution is in urgent need of review on a wide range of subjects, both from the point of view of the Commonwealth and of the State governments too. I believe also that as local government is one of the arms of government it is appropriate that at any review its interests should be represented and its views should be well known. I have no objection now in answering the question by saying that I will refer his question to the State governments and I will give support to the views that he has expressed. I also want it to be known to the House that I have taken this matter up with the Attorney-General - this happened some time ago - and I asked him to prepare a paper for me not only as to the method by which we should look at reviews of the Constitution but also to see whether he can give me some idea of the constitutional issues as between the Commonwealth and the States that might be the subject of discussion. In this, I can assure the honourable gentleman, the interests of local government will be well looked after. When I receive a paper I will be only too happy to consider it and we will then make up our minds what should be done about it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether he is aware of a report that the Drug Evaluation Committee has reversed the attitude of the Director-General of Health to have the anti-depressant drug imipramine withdrawn from sale, on the ground that only one mother has given birth to a physically deformed child and not 3 mothers, as was originally believed. Is he aware that Dr McBride has expressed grave disappointment at the recommendation of the Drug Evaluation Committee? Will the Minister express an opinion as to how many incidents of physically deformed children being born should occur as a result of the use of this drug before the drug should be withdrawn from sale? If it is not to be withdrawn from sale, will he see that the top of the container is clearly marked in red, as was recommended by Dr McBride, indicating that the drug is dangerous to pregnant women?
– The first part of the question asked by the honourable gentleman was whether I was aware that the Drug Evaluation Committee had reversed the attitude of the Director-General of Health. The answer is that I am not aware of it. My understanding of the situation is that, mainly because it was not convenient to him or because Dr McBride did not have the information available, it was not possible for the Drug Evaluation Committee to meet until yesterday to decide its attitude towards Dr McBride’s findings on this drug. Because a number of days were to elapse, as a holding operation the DirectorGeneral of Health sent telegrams to doctors throughout Australia asking them to refrain from prescribing the drug to women of child-bearing age pending consideration by the Drug Evaluation Committee. So there seems to be no reversal whatsoever involved. I think it would be appropriate if I referred the other parts of the honourable gentleman’s question to my colleague and asked him to give the honourable gentleman a full answer.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy: What is the current industrial situation at Garden Island Naval Dockyard? Is it a fact that strikes and stoppages are increasing against the desire of the majority of workers?
– There are 2 situations at Garden Island Naval Dockyard at the present moment that are causing some concern. It so happens though that both arise out of demarcation issues, that is, areas of dispute between unions rather than between management and unions. Management, because of bans called on work, decided to try to act in a conciliatory way and held conferences with the men concerned but apparently this only produced the result that normal work was then refused by the men. In one of the situations management has adopted the attitude towards the shipwrights involved of informing them that if they will not undertake normal work there will be no continuation of their pay. This is the current situation in that union at the moment. Another group, the members of what was the former Amalgamated Engineering Union, the coppersmiths and fitters, was informed that there would be no pay if they did not continue normal duties. I do not refer now to the men who are involved in the demarcation dispute but simply those who refused to undertake their normal duties when requested to do so by management. When these men were told that there would be no pay for no work they walked off the job. Unhappily there is this situation at the naval dockyard which is causing disquiet at the moment.
– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs: ls Bangla Desh in the SEATO Treaty area? Do the parties to SEATO have any obligations to Bangla Desh under the Treaty? Has Bangla Desh been invited to accede to the Treaty or to attend the next SEATO Council Meeting?
– My current advice on this subject is that Bangla Desh does not automatically become a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and therefore, as far as I am aware, will not be attending the SEATO meeting. As to whether any steps will be taken in the meantime to bring about a difference in the position, it is impossible at this stage to project. The SEATO meeting will be held in Canberra towards the end of June, and it is not clear whether by then Bangla Desh will be a member of various bodies including the British Commonwealth, which it has applied to join. Therefore I cannot give a definitive reply to the later inquiries by the Leader of the Opposition.
– The Minister for Primary Industry, to whom I address my question, will be well aware of recent marked fluctuations in wool prices. Does the Minister see any prospect of prices levelling but in the near future? If so, does he see a need for continued operations of the Australian Wool Commission? Can the Minister say whether, contrary to the opinion of the critics in recent times, the Australian Wool Commission has been able to dispose of any of its stockpile of wool?
– I am afraid that, as in most commodity markets, it is impossible to rule out the prospect of future variations in the level of prices payable for wool, whether at auction or through other means of disposal. At the same time, I think it is notable that in the last 3 weeks greater stability has been entering the wool auction sales. It is true that there was a recession in prices about 4 or 5 weeks ago, but since then the market has slightly recovered and the prevailing prices are still above the level at which the Government’s price support scheme would operate. Probably the reason for the stabilisation is twofold. First of all, there is no doubt that the operations of the Australian Wool Commission have played a significant part in being able to inject sufficient confidence into the buying end of the trade so that there is available a quantity of wool which will enable buyers to re-stock and utilise woo! competitively with synthetic substitutes.
The second aspect of the operations of the Australian Wool Commission relates to its capacity to put into the auctions additional supplies capable of meeting the very great demand, or the increased demand, which occurred when the price escalation took place after the open:ng of sales this year. As a result of that, there has been a quite considerable reduction in the stocks acquired by the Australian Wool Commission earlier this year, and even in the last few weeks, as a result of the forward cataloguing of those wools to be re-offered by the Commission. Although there have again been some purchases by the Commission, the average sales through the week have seen a very substantial net disposal of stocks from the Commission’s stockpile as against those wools that had been bought.
I think it is true that while from the growers’ point of view it is to be hoped that prices can continue to firm, it is essential that there not be too marked a variation in price levels for wool. Such variations could act to the long term detriment of the interests of wool growers themselves. If there is stability in the market at a reasonably profitable level this will enable both growers and buyers to continue to enjoy the advantages of what has been and is still Australia’s greatest industry.
– In directing my question to the Treasurer I refer to his address to the Federated Taxpayers Association in which he implied that a family unit scheme of taxation was a possible course of action, although he later withdrew it. Would he agree that such a scheme would place an unwarranted burden on married couples, both working? Would he also agree that when amendments to the taxation law are being considered, consideration should be given to making interest on mortgages an allowable deduction as suggested by the Company Directors Association of Australia?
– The honourable gentleman must know that the preliminary to his question is wrong. I did not suggest it as a possible course of action. I used h as an illustration to show that when one point of view was put it was necessary to see all the consequences. In demonstrating all the consequences 1 pointed out the burdens that would fall upon certain people now married being separately assessed and if this sort of base were adopted it would be a burden on them. That is what 1 made clear. I used it as an illustration. Let that b* the end of it; the clarification has been made. 1 know that members of the Opposition are more interested in chasing personalites than getting down to realities. So far as I am concerned, it is realities that I want to pursue and I will continue to pursue them in this House and elsewhere. If I find it necessary to have an informed public I will put before the public all the -mailers that I think are important for the public to have so that it can make an informed judgment. There is no proposal before me; there is no intention to put a proposal to the Government. What T said was used as an illustration and nothing more.
The view expressed in the second part of the honourable member’s question is one which is held by a great number of people. I will submit it to examination, ft will come up for examination in a Budget context where it will stand its place against other competing priorities for the foregoing of revenue or for the expenditure of money.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry and refers to the election of members to the Australian Dairy Produce Board. Will the Minister take the opportunity to update the antiquated method of voting - I understand that they have not had a real vote since 1934 - and also to increase the number of members representing the Australian dairy farmers to provide for 2 members from Victoria in keeping with Victoria’s major part in producing dairy produce for export?
– Federal dairy producer organisations have made submissions to me for some change in the constitution and method of election of members of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. My own attitude towards the membership of most boards is that it is difficult always to secure effective representation for every group that seeks to be in some way represented on that board. For that reason I would not be prepared to give the honourable gentleman the assurance for which he has asked - additional representation from any one State or any one section.
Indeed, I believe that if people are elected or selected in a particular industry group to work on a commodity board or any other board one would hope that they did not only represent a narrow selective group which had a particular interest within that particular body. Obviously there are so many groups which have an interest in dairy products at this time that difficulties would arise if those who were appointed to the Australian Dairy Produce Board under a changed system saw themselves as only representing a narrow group. Accordingly, I can assure the honourable gentleman that the Government will give consideration to change in both the method of election and the membership of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. But I can give him no assurance that there will be any specific change so far as representation from particular States or particular interests- are concerned.
– I claim to have been misrepresented during question time by the Foreign Minister (Mr N. H. Bowen) in a reference to ANZUS.
-Does the Leader wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. On 7th October the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) misrepresented me on this matter in the absence of the Foreign Minister. On 2nd December the Foreign Minister misrepre sented me in his own right. I must therefore on this third occasion repeat exactly the words that I said on these earlier occasions. I said:
At the last Federal Conference of my Party in June, the brief reference to ANZUS in the Party’s platform was restated in a fuller form and in a more prominent position. It used to appear halfway down the 2-page foreign affairs platform of the Party.
It now appears in the fourth sentence of the overriding principles of foreign policy to which my party subscribes. The fourth form now adopted is:
The Labor Party seeks close and continuing cooperation with the people of the United States and New Zealand to make the ANZUS Treaty an instrument for justice and peace and political, social and economic advancement in the Pacific area.
On both occasions I pointed out that the ANZUS Treaty refers not only to peace but also, in its very first article, to justice.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Minister for Foreign Affairs claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. This is the second time I have had occasion to refer to Labor Party policy on the ANZUS Treaty, and on the other occasion the Leader of the Opposition gave this explanation. All I can say is that the military aspects have been removed from it and it has been made an instrument for justice in the area. This is the critical thing. It is no answer to say that if you have removed the heart from a lettuce you have given it great prominence by moving it further forward in the display case.
– Mr Speaker, T wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do, Mr Speaker. Yesterday, the Treasurer - I will wait until he is listening-
– Well, Mr Speaker, I think you will agree that it is courtesy for me to wait until the Treasurer is listening fo the charge 1 am making. Next time, I will continue. Yesterday, the Treasurer in an answer to a question from me said:
I will make available to the honourable member a copy of another address that 1 made in which I said that there may be grounds for a prices notification scheme, which needed to be examined. There is a very big difference between notification and justification - a very big difference. The honourable gentleman would be wise in framing his questions to make sure they are based soundly on facts. 1 have looked at this speech, a copy of which was given to me as the Treasurer promised. Nowhere are the words ‘prices notification scheme’ used. Indeed, nowhere can I find the word ‘notification’.
-Order! The honourable member is beginning to debate something that occurred in question time. The honourable member will have to state where he has been personally misrepresented. He must not debate the matter.
– I was misrepresented in as much as the Treasurer said of me that my question was not based on facts. I am showing that it was. I do not think that the Treasurer should make these personal charges when answering questions from honourable members.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, honourable members will recall that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in his statement on the arts in Australia, delivered in this House on 26th October last, said a committee of inquiry would be established to examine the role of the crafts as art forms in their own right, as a widely spread experience of creative processes and as the foundation of good industrial design. He said the committee would include representatives of the Council for the Arts, the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board and the Industrial Design Council of Australia, who would jointly advise on the committee’s terms of reference. At a meeting of chairmen of agencies which advise me on support for the arts, it was agreed that our programmes should have the following broad aims:
The promotion of a standard of excellence over the whole field of the arts:
The widening of access to and understanding and appreciation of the arts in the community generally, the expression of an Australian identity through the arts: and
The presentation of Australia’s cultural achievements abroad.
These aims we have taken to apply equally to the crafts, and I am pleased to inform the House that a committee has now been established to undertake this inquiry into the state of the crafts in Australia. The committee comprises Mr K. Bonython (Chairman), art dealer and member of the Australian Council for the Arts; Mr E. Westbrook, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, representing the Industrial Design Council of Australia; Mr C. Last, sculptor and member of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board; Mr J. Mollison, Director of the Australian National Gallery; and Mr F. McCarthy, Principal of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. The crafts are taken to include, but are not confined to, furniture, jewellery, glass, metalwork, pottery and textile construction.
I expect the committee to begin its inquiries immediately. It will gather evidence widely from people and organisations concerned with the crafts and, after evaluating the results, report to the Government on what it sees as the needs and requirements of the crafts in Australia today. The duration of the inquiry will depend to a large extent on what the committee’s investigations reveal, but I hope to have some preliminary indication of its findings by September and a final report by the end of the year. One outcome of the inquiry could be to help Australian craftsmen to improve their work and to take greater pleasure and satisfaction in it. I expect also that Australians generally will be encouraged to appreciate the Australian crafts and take pride in them.
Ultimately, I hope people in the world markets will see instinctively that the products of Australian craftsmanship, including also Aboriginal craftsmanship, are characteristically Australian, not because they are marked ‘Made in Australia’, but because of a high degree of artistry, skill and style enhanced by high standards of industrial design. In other words, the craft works of
Australia will have an Australian image which will make them recognisable as Australian just as one can readily identify the craft works of other countries on display for sale in this country.
– by leave- First of all, I hope that the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) can assure us that there will be no impediment to or suspension of the activities in the area of the crafts which is currently being supported by the Arts Council of Australia. Is the Minister in a position to indicate that?
– I answered a question from the Leader of the Opposition on this subject some months ago, and I have not anything to add to it.
– I sincerely trust that there will not be a suspension, because it would mean that the good work that has been, done to this point would be lost and would have to be commenced again after the committee has concluded its inquiry and made its findings. Additionally, it would seem to me that the good work already being clone in this area by the Arts Council could in fact be a valuable ingredient to feed into the inquiry activity of this committee. I am pleased that the Government recognises, or seems to recognise, the role that the crafts can play in our society, but I sincerely hope that the committee will see a broader perspective of people involved in craft activity in the community than merely to equate craftsmen with tradesmen, which is the sort of inference that 1 draw, not exclusively but overwhelmingly, from the Minister’s statement.
It is clear to me that we have a serious problem in our society. It is a mounting one. It is becoming quite a massive one. It belongs to all advanced technological societies such as ours. The problem is one of extreme alienation of people in the community. It is very difficult for people to feel a sense of achievement, a sense of creativity or a sense of identity in the sort of work they are doing. For instance, it is virtually impossible for a man who is working a left hand vertical drill machine on an assembly line, pulling down a lever hundreds of times a day, to feel any sense of fulfilment in or identity with the work that is going through the assembly line.
Alienation in modern society is an important issue. If we like to take out social statistics we can see evidence of breakdowns because of this alienation, because of the pressures which are cropping up and because of the impersonalisation which our society creates. Australia cannot feel proud that it has one of the highest rates of coronary disease in the world. It is one of our most serious illnesses. Nor can we feel any comfort in the fact that not only do we have a high rate of suicide and attempted suicide but also, among the adolescents and more especially among adolescent girls, this is showing a sharp surge upwards. Alienation has much to do with it. One comes back to the opportunity for one to express oneself through creative activity such as crafts. This is nol the exclusive remedy nor is it largely the remedy for the sort of problem that I am talking about, but it has an important contribution to make in this area. 1 would go further. As a socialist, I think we ought to be asking some fundamental questions about what it is we are striving to achieve with an arts policy. To me, although the proposition which we have here is some further encouragement to our effort in relation to the arts and culture in the community it is also further evidence of what I see to be the inherent defect in everything the Government does, and therefore everything the Parliament does, because the Government’s majority determines what is going to go through. In the field of arts we handle areas in isolation. We have never tried to come to terms with what to me is the really fundamental question, and that is: What is an arts policy about? What are we trying to achieve? Which people are we trying to reach when we develop an arts policy, and for what purposes? This in turn involves far reaching, profound questions that go well outside of what we normally regard as arts and culture, reaching right into our educational system, into the values of our society, the quality of our life and the type of future we are trying to achieve.
The time is overdue when we should have such a comprehensive inquiry which, in essence, commences from trying to establish a basic philosophy on what an arts policy is all about. Until we do this we are going to get hung up on a serious deficiency which is repeatedly apparent in whatever the Government does in this area. By and large, support for arts and culture in the Australian community is support for middle class people. It is obvious that this must be so, given the present structure of our educational system and the general socio-economic disadvantage in our community. People who go through the State education system, especially in the lower income areas, just do not have the opportunity to become acquainted with the broader aspects of society as expressed through various artistic and cultural forms. We must be prepared to do something about this - not patch it up, but ask profound questions such as: What is education about? We must answer the question that Herbert Read poses for us so challenging!)’ in his work ‘Education Through Art’: Why is it that almost exclusively children display an amazing and exciting creative activity in a whole range of creative activities when they are in their primary years at school, but by the time we get them through to the secondary years we are so determined and so dedicated that we churn these people out into increasingly colder, responding inputs for industry instead of vital, dynamic, creative individuals who are each different and have something valuable to offer through this difference to our society? Why is it that this is happening and what can we do to change it?
I do not want to take any more time because I will be eating into the time set aside for the grievance debate. But as a socialist and one who missed out on many of these opportunities early in life and who has only become faintly acquainted with the sorts of things that can be opened up to one as exciting experiences through an association with forms of expression through arts and culture, I feel aggrieved. I feel more than aggrieved; i feel extremely angry, because I believe that the great bulk of people in this community are being deprived of a very valuable thing in life. I suppose that most of the people in the electorate I represent would not respond particularly enthusiastically to what I am suggesting’ because they are not aware of these issues. I do not say this patronisingly. I come from their sort of home, their sort of background. Nevertheless I will fight strongly to see a better deal in arts and culture so that we can reach to the mass of people who are being deprived. The motivation which will encourage people to take up the sorts of policies we develop in this community, by and large because of the peculiar sorts of experiences we have between class groups, belongs to the middle class people rather than to the people in the lower socioeconomic groups.
There is one favourable point. At least support for craft activity is important in this area because it can reach many of the people about whom I am concerned. They can understand this in a more immediate way than they can understand the more abstract forms of artistic and cultural expression. Therefore I see it as a start on an exciting path which, if we fully chart the way, will provide rich rewards in the personal adventures, discoveries and satisfaction it will give for people who are currently missing out on adequate, and often any, opportunity in the area of creative activity. I conclude by reiterating that I hope the Government is not going to suspend the valuable work which has so far been conducted or supported by the Arts Council in an effort to expand activity in the crafts in the community.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 21st March at 2.30 p.m.
– As Chairman I present the 134th report of the Public Accounts Committee. I seek leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable members will recall that in November last year I tabled the 133rd report which relates to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer, 1970-71. The 134th report which I am tabling today relates to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for that year and covers the remaining items included in the Committee’s examination of the expenditure results of departments. In examining expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund the
Committee has sought to ascertain whether or not the principles relating to the formulation of estimates have been adopted by departments. These principles, which are included in Treasury Direction 16/9, have been set out in chapter 1 of the report.
The Committee has also sought to ascertain whether or not the departments concerned have maintained efficient administration in the expenditure of funds under the items selected for public inquiry. In considering this aspect of its inquiry the Committee has taken into account the change in financial policy which occurred in February 1971 and which was designed to achieve substantial reductions in Commonwealth departmental expenditure. This change in policy reduced in many cases the amounts which departments might otherwise have spent in relation to the estimates. Many of the. explanations tendered by departments during our inquiry referred to this change in financial policy with its necessary consequential effects on administrative practices and arrangements. In considering these explanations, the Committee has sought to distinguish between the consequences arising from the change in financial policy and other circumstances which affected financial results and administrative performances.
In recent years the Committee has paid particular attention to the. estimates and related expenditure of the departments. It has taken the view that as a poor standard of estimating has wide ramifications it has not only been excessive expenditure that has attracted attention but also the overprovision of funds. The Committee ha., stated that such overprovisions are undesirable, misleading and perhaps unfair to other departments whose financial needs might not have been satisfied. At the same time the Committee desires to emphasise that it does not regard the total expenditure of available funds under a particular appropriation item as an objective to be sought in all circumstances. Indeed such a criterion could give rise to unnecessary and uneconomic expenditure. It could also give rise to the distortion of administrative practices. In this regard the Committee has been critical of departments that have accelerated payments in order to prevent an appropriation from lapsing. Two such cases were reported in the 102nd and 113th reports of the Committee.
As this report and previous reports relating to expenditure from the. Consolidated Revenue Fund show, there are explanations for expenditure variations from the Estimates which arise from unforeseen circumstances or other factors and are acceptable to the Committee. In this report, however, as in similar reports of previous years, the Committee has found it necessary to refer to cases of unsatisfactory estimating or inadequate administrative performances that have resulted in shortfalls in expenditure. The Committee has drawn attention to these inadequacies where they have arisen. I commend the report to honourable members.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Banks (Shareholdings) Bill 1972.
Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1971.
McMahon Government - General Practitioners: Common Fee - Medical Benefits - Australian Volunteer Coastguard Association - Burdekin Dam - Australian Labor Party - Newspaper Reports - Local Government Finance.
That grievances be noted.
– In view of some of the comments which I shall make later criticising this Government very strongly I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on standing firm on the question of a family unit tax and putting the blame completely on the Treasurer (Mr Snedden). I think that some men weaker than the Prime Minister may have gone out of their way to protect the Treasurer with some feeling that they should stand by the Treasurer or maybe even communicate with him and find out what the Treasurer actually said on Monday night, but not the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister told us today during question time that he found out yesterday afternoon during question time what the Treasurer meant - some 18 hours after the Prime Minister had communicated with the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’. Not only do I wish to congratulate the Prime Minister but also I would like to congratulate the
Treasurer for bis call for loyalty to the Prime Minister, lt can be seen in today’s Press that at the Liberal Party meeting held yesterday the Treasurer called for loyalty to Mr McMahon. The article reads:
The Prime Minister was the leader of a vigor ous Cabinet, better than any he had ever served in-
I think the Treasurer should be congratulated because he did not behave like the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who when Minister for Defence, resigned in similar circumstances when the Prime Minister criticised him just because he was a member of the Cabinet. I think it is important to realise that our Prime Minister does not treat the Treasurer any differently than he would any backbencher or anybody else who contravenes the views of Sir Frank Packer. When Sir Frank Packer pointed out in an early edition of yesterday’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ that the Prime Minister should deal with the Treasurer the Prime Minister contacted the Daily Telegraph’ and the ‘Daily Telegraph’ was then able to say in a later edition that the Prime Minister revealed last night he had not been consulted about the speech and the editorial went on to say that he would be justified in taking strong action against Mr Snedden.
– They are in a bad way, are they not?
– 1 completely agree with you. I would like to take the remainder of my time to deal with the collapse of the Government’s health scheme. 1 will not deal with what everybody knows about the fantastic increases in general practitioner fees that have been proposed especially in New South Wales. I would like to remind the House of a statement by the previous Prime Minister and by the present Prime Minister made only last week-end on how strongly the Government will deal with doctors who will not agree to the common fee system. Let us see what the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said in the Senate yesterday after announcing that an arbitrator had been appointed to determine fees. The Minister made the point that the Australian Medical Association did not agree to the appointment of a so-called arbitrator and that in fact the AMA did not have to co-operate as far as the arbitrator was concerned but when the arbitrator brings down his findings, which will involve an increase in payments some IS months before they are due, assurances will be sought from the AMA that there will be general observance of the fees so that they will, in fact, become the most common fees. Just to make clear what a strong Minister he is and what a strong Cabinet he belongs to I will read what he said. The Minister went on to say:
The Government also has decided that if, after implementation of the arbitrator’s finding, there is a failure by the medical profession to achieve a high level of observance of the common fees other measures will be considered. 1 think the Minister is being much too firm in his statement. I do not see how the doctors can possibly put up with that sort of threat.
Let us see what is actually happening in regard to medical benefit funds under the health scheme of this Government. There is complete incompetence not only on the part of the present Minister for Health but also the previous Ministers for Health. In September last year I asked what was the cost of the lowest medical and hospital fund subscription as a percentage of the basic wage and also the minimum weekly wage in New South Wales from 1955 onwards. It took the Department of Health until 7th March to supply the answer. When I did not get an answer fairly quickly I worked it out myself last year in about 20 minutes and 1 incorporated the information in Hansard. I made the point at that time - I repeat it because it has been confirmed in the Minister’s answer which took some 6 months to prepare - that subscriptions iti 1955 took 1.03 per cent of a person’s basic wage and this has increased to 3.54 per cent in 1972 which means that 3i times as big a proportion of the basic wage or the minimum weekly wage now goes to subscriptions if a person belongs to the lowest group of a medical and hospital fund. The contribution for a person who subscribes at the intermediate rate has increased from 1.44 per cent to 4.50 per cent of the mintmum wage.
The honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson) asked a question the other day as to what savings are expected from a reduction in the refund for pathology item 1276, which deals with automated biochemistry, from S 15 to $5. The reply given by the Minister was that this would save $850,000. That is very impressive; a saving of $10 per item means a reduction of $S50,000 in costs. But the honourable member for Perth also asked in the second part of his question how many claims for item 1276 were in fact paid in the last 12 months. The reply of the Minister was not 85,000 but that detailed information on the number of claims paid in the past 12 months on this item was not available. Obviously we are getting a very peculiar sort of response from the Department of Health. Let us have a look at the Minister’s costing of the Labor Party’s health scheme. I will not deal with the main section; I will just deal with one that has received a fair amount of publicity. The Labor Party at its Federal Conference in Launceston last year put up the very reasonable proposition that oral contraceptives prescribed by medical practitioners should be available on the pharmaceutical benefits list.’ The Government decided within a few days that this would cost between S26m and $36m. How did it work this out? 1 would like to quote from the answer of the Minister about how he worked this out. He said: lt is estimated that at present between 700,000 and 725,000 women are using oral contraceptives. lt has been assumed that 50 per cent of women in the 18 to 45-year age group who do not at present use oral contraceptives would use them if they were free and that those at present using them would continue to use them. On this basis it is estimated that a total of 1.535 million women would use ora! contraceptives if they were free.
That means that another 820,000 women in Australia will use oral contraceptives if the Labor Party comes into government. This is the proposition of the Government. Either this is a complete lie - I suggest that it is - or if it is true it is surely the best reason for . putting the oral contraceptives on the pharmaceutical benefits list because, according to the Minister for Health, another 820,000 women in Australia would like to use oral contraceptives but at present are unable to do so because they cannot afford the pills as they are unavailable on the pharmaceutical benefits list. He ignores the question of the 27± per cent sales tax and so on.
Le’ me deal with answers to questions received yesterday. As I have previously pointed out in this House, there is no cover for psychiatric patients under the present health scheme. How many people in fact are in psychiatric hospitals at any one lime? According to an answer given to a question yesterday, the number is over 29,000. There are 77,000 beds in all approved hospitals in Australia but approximately only 75 per cent are occupied, which means that over 33 per cent of all patients in hospital at any one time, even though they may be insured for hospital benefits, are not covered by any hospital benefits at the present time under this Government. The Government claims that it has an effective health scheme. I appeal to the Government in the final few weeks or months of its existence, depending on how long the Cabinet can keep together, not to let the health scheme collapse completely because it will make it extremely difficult for us to establish ours quickly after the election if the present scheme collapses completely in the time that is left to the Government. More importantly, 1. suppose, though to some extent concurrently, it will be catastrophic for many of the low income earners in the community
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to bring to the attention of the Government and this House the excellent work that is done by an organisation known as the Australian Volunteer Coastguard Association, in the hope that some recognition will be given to this organisation and some financial assistance afforded to it. There are branches of this Association in every major centre on the coast from Perth in Western Australia to Cairns in north Queensland. As the name implies, the organisation is a completely volunteer organisation. Its aims are to promote safety in the operation, maintenance and navigation of small craft. Its members guard the coast in the most effective possible way, that is, by common sense methods of prevention, education and example. When they are engaged in rescue operations they use their own launches and equipment and meet the subsequent expenses themselves. They also purchase and maintain their own distinctive uniform, which is the same in every branch around the coast of Australia.
To illustrate the valuable work that they do I need only quote what has been done by the Townsville branch of this organisation. In the first 6 months after this branch was formed it effected 19 rescues. It rescued 19 small craft which had left the harbour either to fish the reefs or on a pleasure run and which had become disabled. On one occasion the members themselves chartered a light aircraft at their own expense to assist (hem in the search for a disabled vessel. This led to the rescue of a husband and wife and 3 small children who were in danger of finishing up on one of the reefs.
A volunteer body such as this which is performing such valuable service to the community should never have to worry about raising sufficient finance to maintain its operations. Recently the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) announced the establishment of a coastal surveillance service for the protection of our fisheries and to assist with matters of concern to the Departments of Customs and Excise, Health and Immigration. This service will be administered by the Commonwealth Government, which means that it will also be financially supported by the Commonwealth Government. The formation of this service is an excellent move and one that has been badly needed for a long time. I am certainly not knocking it, but if the Commonwealth feels this surveillance is a necessity and worthy of financial support, surely the Australian Volunteer Coastguard Association, which was formed to protect and to save lives, should also merit some financial consideration. After all, if this Association was not active. T would venture to suggest, the Commonwealth or the States would have to accept the responsibility of the rescue operations that the members of the Association perform. I ask the Government to consider seriously some form of financial assistance to help these volunteers to continue their valuable service to the community around our coastline.
I would like to mention briefly another matter which is of great importance to north Queensland and which T have repeatedly mentioned in this chamber, as has the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). It has been the subject of repeated questions to the Prime Minister and the Minister for National Development. It is the matter of the construction of the Burdekin dam in north Queensland. Over the last couple of years I have been told in answer to my questions, as has the honourable member for Dawson, that a joint Commonwealth-State team is making a feasibility study of this project. I would like to know whether the study is still being made or whether it has been completed. If it has been completed, what are the results of this study? If this team has been operating in the Burdekin Valley and making a study of the feasibility of such a project it must surely have realised by now the benefit that such a storage of water would be to a large productive area of north Queensland and the subsequent economic benefit to the State of Queensland and the Commonwealth.
Townsville and the, district that the dam would serve are developing rapidly and we need this water. We do not need the water for agricultural purposes only, as some may think. We need it for industry and we need water for people. Not so long ago - 1 would say about 12 months ago - the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) made a statement that Townsville was the greatest example of decentralisation in the Commonwealth. I might say that that was one of his very few statements that were completely correct. If Townsville and the district had an abundance of water the development in that area would be even more rapid. I would like to see some positive action taken on the Burdekin project as soon as possible. In my humble opinion and in the opinion of thousands of others - I mean thousands - the Burdekin dam will be built. Such a water storage is badly needed to take care of that area’s water problems in the next 50 to 100 years.
If it is the huge cost of the project that is stifling a decision - I might say that the last estimate for the 4 stages of the dam to be completed was approximately $330m - I humbly suggest that the project should be constructed in stages, each stage being undertaken in 5-year] y periods. Stage 1 has been completed for years. Stage 2 would take care of the Burdekin district’s water problem. Stage 3 would go a long way towards solving the water problems of Townsville industries and people. Stage 4 would be the ultimate. I say again that the Burdekin dam will be built regardless, but I should like to know when a start will be made on this important project.
– Last night’s statement by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, Minister for Health, on arbitration of common fees is a sneaky confidence trick on the long suffering Australian taxpayer. The statement clearly implies, although nowhere does the Minister have the courage to spell out the fact explicitly, that the Government has retreated again before the stern demands of the doctors. In short, it is a tawdry cloak produced to give some legitimacy to another fee hike for doctors; a fee hike which has all the elements of personal rapacity and cynical disregard for the public who, finally, pay the bills.
In July 1971, after consultation with the Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association common fees for general practitioner surgery and home visits were increased. This increase was to apply for 2 years. By the end of the September quarter 1971, on average every third doctor in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, and every fourth doctor in Queensland exceeded the common fee schedule. In the face of this wilful and considerable abuse of the underpinning principle of the Government’s health insurance the Minister for Health responded by fatuously asserting that in general there was a high level of observance of the most common fees.
At this point, some 8 months after the fee structure was adjusted allegedly for 2 years, the Government is setting up a contrivance - called an arbitration inquiry - to legitimise increases arbitrarily struck and unilaterally applied by certain doctors. The inquiry is restricted to New South Wales. It is incomprehensible to restrict this inquiry to one State. The Government would have to be crazy to believe that the inevitable increases granted will not be immediately sought in other States. Is each State then to have a separate arbitration inquiry or have we dropped into the Mad Hatter’s tea party with the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) presiding and Senator Anderson playing the White Rabbit?
The Government is craven and servile before the demands of the doctors. It is abject and dishonoured in the way in which it surrenders the public interest. The contrast between its union bashing and its meek surrender to the doctors is singularly dramatic in the way in which it exposes its prejudices and preferences. If the doctors will not adhere to the arbitrated common fee the Government will be running about in circles like a lame duck that has lost its head at the hatchery. All the Minister can suggest is that in such an event: ‘other measures will be considered’. What other measures? A further arbitration in another 6 months to legitimise further increases in fees?
Surely the time for decisive action in the public interest is overdue. There is no equivocation about alternatives where wage and salary earners are concerned, that is, more than 90 per cent of the work force. On 7th December last year the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) put his Government’s position clearly and forcibly on arbitration as it affects wage and salary earners - that is, employees of banks, insurance companies, the public services, as well as blue collar workers. The Minister said:
Arbitration is a form of legislation. No law can be effective unless it is enforceable. No law can be enforceable unless there be a sanction for its breach.
Doctors, presumably, are above the law where the Government is concerned. It is clear that the doctors discretion can no longer be relied upon to uphold the common fee principle. The Nimmo report clearly foresaw such an event and recommended:
The medical expenses incurred to doctors who elect not to participate in the scheme be not eligible for medical benefits.
According to Melbourne economists, Scotton and Deeble, a substantial proportion of doctors’ incomes comes from government sources. Additionally, without a system of extensive health insurance, medical practitioners generally would find work less rewarding financially and professional satisfaction would be diminished because of the continuing concern they would have to maintain as to whether a patient could afford medical treatment and the rationing of this treatment, not according to need but according to wealth, which would follow. In short, doctors have as much to gain from the successful operation of health insurance as has anyone else. They have a mora] obligation, which most fulfil, to adhere to the rules of the game. Indeed, those who have adhered to the rules of the game must now be feeling that they have been played for suckers. Their colleagues who broke the rules are about to be rewarded.
Where the rules are wantonly flaunted, as.is the case today, and where the public suffer as a result, and especially where the Government’s health insurance programme is jeopardised by this abuse, the Government has a bounden duty to guarantee that the rules are adhered to. The procedure should be joint consultation between the profession and the Government periodically to establish the proper, acceptable level of remuneration for services. If consultation is unsuccessful, arbitration must follow. In any case, once the fee rates have been established, either by mutual agreement after negotiation or following on arbitration, the decisions must be binding on both parties for the period set.
The Government has a simple remedy foi- non-adherence to its common fee schedule. Either it can follow the Nimmo Committee recommendation, which proposed excluding from benefit cover services provided by doctors charging above the common fee or schedule of fees, or an alternative is to provide the patient with his fund benefit on the basis of his contribution having established certain rights for him in this respect. However, the Commonwealth benefit would not be provided. There is ample precedent for this. The Government already practises discrimination against non-insured hospital patients by allowing them only 80c a day Commonwealth bed subsidy, the amount set by the Chifley Labor Government in the 1940s. It pays $2 a day bed subsidy to insured patients. Under medical insurance the Commonwealth meets nearly 40 per cent of the total cost of services. This is a large, direct subsidy at taxpayers expense.
Taxpayers have a right to expect that their hard earned money will not be poured unquestioningly into a system which, because it moderates medical costs for the individual by spreading the total outlay among the healthy as well as the unhealthy, allows some grasping doctors to charge more than they could ever hope to gain from a situation in which market forces determined remuneration. That is, that significant proportion of doctors who are abusing health insurance to extract greater returns than they could otherwise get without health insurance must be curbed.
There is no political difficulty confronting the Government in relation to the introduction of a suitable and effective system of encouraging adherence to the common fee principle. There is ample room for a bipartisan approach between the Government and the Opposition on this issue. The Government fumbles and tries to evade taking effective action on this problem. Effective action would be simple, would be in the public interest, would bo supported by the Opposition and would be applauded by the public. In spite of all these encouraging signs the Government hesitates, equivocates and even prevaricates, l! is prepared to union bash, to assial the 5.5 million blue and white collar wage and salary earners in the community, lecturing them on the need for wage restraint, intervening in wage claim cases to oppose these wage and salary earners claims, and imposing harsh penalties for those who break the rules. Why is it impotent in this case?
– It is always interesting to follow the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) in debate, although it must be confusing to any honourable member to try to follow a statement such as he has just made without having it in print before him and without being able to analyse the points he made. The honourable member for Oxley said that it would be quite easy to achieve a bipartisan policy between the Opposition and the Government with respect to medical services, but I do not think anybody is yet completely clear about what is the Labor Party’s policy in respect of medical services. Nobody knows the opinion of the secretive Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Nobody knows what he or his government would do in the circumstances confronting the Government at this time. All that T have been able to find is an article which appeared I think in the Daily Telegraph* and in which he said that he would negotiate with doctors.
The honourable member for Oxley used the words - I wrote them down - ‘consultation’ and ‘arbitration’. Admittedly some doctors in New South Wales are causing problems. We have appointed a judge to inquire into these and we will await his recommendations. When we get those recommendations, that will be the time to see what the Government’s actions are. The Opposition does not state its policies clearly. It merely creates, and it wishes to create, a state of confusion. It has a socalled policy on every matter. We heard the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) speak earlier. I do not know what he was really talking about but when I came into the chamber he was talking about old contraceptives. This obviously comes within a Labor Party policy somewhere because it has one to meet every eventuality. God help the people if it ever comes into office.
When one looks through its policies one finds that it has a policy on drugs, homosexuality, repatriation, war service homes for all, home loans, interest subsidy for all, schools for all, free universities, national superannuation for all, a volunteer army, free hospitals, a 35-hour week, 4 . weeks holiday, a medical scheme, a pensioner scheme, decentralisation,. urban affairs, and more money for all. If the people are fooled into thinking that a Labor government could do all these things the Opposition keeps braying about without being asked to pay for them and if the people believe they will have more money in their pockets, they had better re-think. At the present moment we are going through the big offering period when the Opposition is saying: ‘If you want it we will give it to you’. But as was revealed yesterday by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in respect of the education grants given to the States, the Labor Party where it has control of government has spent the least on education of any of the States. There is a big difference between being in opposition and being in government. One can kick an economy and a country down in relation to the stability of the government and the best interests of the people much quicker than one can build them up. I would suggest that when people look at the propaganda and promises made at this moment they should also look at what happened in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand and ask themselves whether these golden eggs which are being laid at all times with no responsibility being taken by the Labor Party can in fact be produced without great hardship and detriment to this country.
The point I wish to raise in this grievance debate was brought to my mind this morning by the question which was asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). He asked whether the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) or the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) had seen a report, supposedly made somewhere in Malaysia, of a statement made by the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Obviously when any Press report suits the Opposition it is regarded as verbatim by it and accepted without any criticism. When anything is said in the Press which may be to its detriment, of course, the report is incorrect. The questions I ask are: Where is the Press in this country heading and what is the outlook within the Press for responsibility and principle? Three incidents have arisen within the last 3 or 4 days to which I think the Government, the Parliament and the people should pay some attention and I make passing reference to them now. Firstly, there was a report printed in one of the Sunday newspapers about Mr Kibel making a statement that if all the facts of the China negotiation, so-called, were revealed the Government would have to resign. This was given great headlines in this particular newspaper. It was taken by the public to be a verbatim report of the statement. It was printed with no qualification. Yet yesterday the Minister for Foreign Affairs staled that Mr Kibel had telephoned and denied having made any such statement whatsoever. But, of course, the Opposition will use this for political advantage. Perhaps that is acceptable. What control is there over this sort of thing happening? How can newspapers be asked to accept some responsibility? How can we assure the people that they are being told the truth?
The second incident related to Evonne Goolagond going to South Africa. There were headlines in the newspapers that she was not going to South Africa because she, being an Aborigine, would be asked to wear an ‘Honorary White’ badge. There were deep headlines in the newspapers and everybody was resentful. Naturally everybody on her behalf was hostile. But then it was revealed that her manager, Mr Edwards, stated that this report was absolute rubbish and that neither he nor Miss Goolagong had ever made such a statement. He said:
This is a lot of mischievous nonsense about honorary white citizenship.
This incorrect report was conveyed throughout the country; a denial is never in the same sized print. Any denial or contradiction is never made with the same force. This is the situation which I think the Australian people should be confronted with at the present time not only in respect to such matters as these but also in respect to political issues. The third incident concerns the issue of family unit tax which was raised by the honourable member for Prospect. The Opposition is riding this matter as though it were a charger. It does not matter that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) made a statement, a copy of which is there for all to see. It is obvious from reading the transcript that what he said was that this is an example of how both sides of the question could be looked at and something which was appealing could create hardship for people. The report pervaded the Press in large headlines because some reporter, somebody anyway, after about 10 minutes study has made either an intentional or unintentional mistake which has embarrassed the Treasurer and the Government.
I think it is wrong. The Government or the Parliament or the people in this country should endeavour to see that there is a code of ethics, a code of principles and a code of responsibility set up for the newspapers, television and public media generally. I say this in respect of both sides of the House because one can get a headline about a man, a government, a party or whatever it may be, too freely today and when one reads the small print one finds that what the headline is endeavouring to portray is not always so. It is a dangerous situation and it is not good for the country. I think the Press in this country would like to dominate government, of whatever type it may be, and if this country and the people in it do not make some stand for a code of ethics and an observance of principles then this country is in for a very dangerous period. When a newspaper does make a mistake, intentionally or unintentionally, when it libels somebody and when it misreports somebody it should have the responsibility to print a contradiction in the same sized type as and on the same page as the mistake was originally made. I said this the other day in relation to television. I said that little people must have rights and must be protected against the great combines and the great monopolies which do exist, in my opinion, in television and the Press in this country.
– The present controversy over medical fees highlights one of the main defects in the system of medical practice, not only in this country but also in most countries where the same system of remuneration for medical practitioner services is accepted. Feeforservice acts as a deterrent, especially to the poor, when considering the need for medical attention. The argument is often used that this deterrent effect is necessary: It stops patients worrying doctors unnecessarily; it stops over-utilisation, so the claim goes. This is a myth for 2 reasons. Firstly no-one wants to see a doctor for no reason. Just what is the attraction in going to see a doctor, waiting for ages in the waiting room and wasting some hours for no reason? Anyone putting himself to the inconvenience of going to the doctor clearly is worrying about something.
Leaving aside the seemingly trivial injuries or illnesses all of which may require only reassurance and little or no technical treatment - apart from the anti-tetanus injection following trivial injuries which has almost stopped deaths from te:anus, the surgical cleaning, dressing and advice on wound care which greatly reduces the possibility of dangerous infection particularly in children, the antibiotic which has helped to reduce dramatically the once common complications of scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, pneumonia and bronchiectasis - just consider the neurotics. Consider the people we all despise without realising that in other people’s eyes we are all neurotic at some time or another. Consider the people with nothing wrong with them, just a headache every morning or night, or unable to sleep, or the pain over the heart, or the cramp in the stomach which to them must be cancer. The reality is that probably 70 per cent or more of the complaints a general practitioner treats could be considered psycho-somatic, that is, neurotic to the self-righteous. For these people, not only is the need real for them to visit the doctor, but also the treatment they receive is often inadequate under present conditions.
This brings me to the second point about fee-for-service and over-utilisation. In these cases it leads just to the very thing it is claimed it will avoid. The neurotic patient, to be properly dealt with needs patience and time. What incentive does the doctor have to provide either, when to do the job properly might well take a consultation lasting not 10 minutes but 30 minutes or an hour?
Doctors are human, too. Why should they spend so long on one patient when the fee will be the standard common fee they can collect if they take only 5 minutes? lt is far easier after 5 minutes talk to prescribe a sedative or a tranquilliser and get the patient to come back in a week, for another fee. The motivation for overutilisation comes in fact from the doctor more than the patient. The present move by the genera) practitioners - some of them, anyway - is seeking to recognise this difference in types of consultation, lt is seeking to establish the fact that for simple injuries or simple procedures a consultation of 3 minutes or 5 minutes is adequate, whereas there are many other situations where a consultation ought to last for half an hour or an hour. It is economically unjust to expect a doctor to accept a uni? form fee for those different lengths of time he is expected to spend with individual patients. Thus far I agree with the general practitioners. Unfortunately, my agreement stops there. Granting their request to adjust the fee for service will in its turn have serious drawbacks, which I leave to the Government to discover. In keeping with experience in other countries where fee for service prevails, there is no doubt that it will lead to over-utilisation not only for trivial or neurotic complaints but even for serious medical procedures such as surgical operations.
Studies have been conducted to confirm this. The myth that one needs to levy a charge to stop people wantonly using doctors is obviously wrong when one looks at the facts. Recently a study was made by Dr Jim Lawson which showed that the rates for several types of operation in Australia - I will give them in a moment - where doctors are paid a fee for service are different from the rates applying when doctors are paid a salary. Doctor Lawson was able to find comparable figures in the United States of America as well as in the
United Kingdom for doctors on salaries, and I will cite them to honourable members. For tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, in Australia under the fee for service system, the operation rate is 7 for each thousand members of the benefit funds. In the United States and the United Kingdom when doctors are paid a salary the operation rate is only 3.6 to 4 in a thousand. In other words, it seems that people in Australia twice as frequently need those operations than do people in the United States or Britain when the doctors are on a salary.
For appendicectomy the operation rate in Australia, under the fee for service system, is 5 in a thousand. In the United States, with salaried doctors, it is only 1.4; in the United Kingdom it is only 2.5. It is higher in the United Kingdom than in the United States, but still it is only one-half the Australian rate. If the operation required is a herniorrhaphy, the figures are interesting. There is not much doubt about a diagnosis in this area, One cannot so readily diagnose whether an operation is necessary on the appendix or the tonsils, but one can tell whether there is a lump, a hernia that needs an operation. In that situation where a patient can vet himself the operation rate in Australia for hernias is only 1.5 in a thousand, but in the United States and the United Kingdom when doctors are on salaries the rate is 2 in a thousand. I suggest the reason for the difference is that in Australia where the patient can do a little of the diagnosis himself the fee acts as a deterrent to the treatment, whereas when a patient is treated by a doctor on a salary the patient can afford to have the necessary operation performed.
The same applies even for females who are far more likely in Australia to have their uterus removed. In Australia the rate is 2 in a thousand, as against 1 in a thousand in the United Kingdom. I suggest that again the difference is accounted for because in this instance it is difficult for a woman to make the diagnosis herself. For these reasons I suggest that fee for service is not a deterrent but an encouragement to over-utilisation. If any honourable member imagines that all this leads to the proposition that doctors on salaries are incompetent and are not treating patients properly, the Americans have covered that possibility too. They have done comparable studies between groups of patients treated by fee for service doctors and by salaried doctors. The perinatal mortality rate, a sensitive indicator, is lower amongst patients treated by doctors on salaries than it is when patients are treated on a fee for service basis. So even the quality of medical care is superior when doctors are paid salaries.
– In the limited time available to me I wish to bring to the attention of the House the plight of local government throughout Australia, lt has been mentioned here on many previous occasions but I feel I should stress that local government organisations throughout the length and breadth of the land are finding it extremely difficult to carry out the duties with which they are faced. At the time of Federation local government was allocated to the States, and it has been their responsibility from that time. Nevertheless, as the Federal Government looks after the interests of the whole of Australia 1 feel certain that we should not shut our eyes to responsibilities in that field.
In election campaigns the Government and the Opposition openly state that they support assistance being given to local government by the federal authorities, yet very little action is taken by federal sources. Local government has contributed greatly to Australia’s development. Looking right across the board it is clear that most development has occurred through active local government authorities, both shire and municipal. These local government bodies are expected to carry out a modern system of development with an outmoded method of finance.
Years ago tocal government was responsible for roads and footpaths, water and sewerage. Today local government is expected to provide many other amenities and essential services. It is required to provide swimming pools, children’s playgrounds, baby health centres, libraries, aerodromes and sporting ovals. Local government bodies are also requested to assist in the development of industry. For instance, in New South Wales the Department of Decentralisation has a policy in this respect. If a local government body wants to support or develop an industry in an area it is required to find 30 per cent of the capital invested in that industry.This places another burden on local government.
Furthermore, if local government desires to expand its public works system it has to be involved in raising public funds which must be paid back over the years. This, of course, places a burden on the ratepayers as well. If it were possible to compare in one area the taxes paid to the Government and the amounts provided to the local government organisation to be spent in that area, it would probably be found that a very small proportion is being returned to the locality for development. I appreciate that State governments, which are mainly responsible for local government, have their priorities. Naturally, if local government does not have a high priority, it lags and does not take its rightful place. But rates have reached a saturation point. Ratepayers groups throughout the country are holding meetings to protest about the fact that their rates are too high. These groups point out that they are not getting value for what they pay. They have a real problem on their hands. Indeed, Mr Deputy Speaker, you have seen for yourself, and many honourable members will have seen in the Press, that ratepayers associations are advising their members not to pay their rates to local government, both shire and municipal councils. This is having a very serious effect on their finances.
Many conferences have been held by local government bodies in New South Wales and in the other States. No other system of finance has been devised other than rates assessed on the unimproved capital value of land. Judicial inquiries have been held into this problem. Mr Justice Else-Mitchell held the last such inquiry in New South Wales. He did not come up with anything of real benefit. It was suggested that a poll tax, or a tax placed on everyone who resides in a shire or municipality - could be applied. Such a tax has advantages but it also has great disadvantages. It appears to me that if local government is to survive in Australia it has to get some real financial assistance from either the, Federal or State governments. I was very disappointed to find that no mention was made of local government during the recent Premiers Conference held in Canberra. This was despite the fact, as I said earlier, that local government is responsible for more development in Australia than any other source. I would like to see the Prime Minister make certain that a discussion is held on this very important matter at the next Premiers’ Conference in Canberra.
I would not like to see the Federal Government dictate to local government in any shape or form. However, I would like to see the Federal Government realise that it has a responsibility to local government through the State governments. 1 know that the Federal Government does assist local government in some ways. 1 refer to unemployment relief, the responsibility that the Federal Government has in providing assistance by way of freight concessions on fodder sent to drought areas and the responsibility it has to local government in time of floods. I know that the Federal Government does assist in this way. But such assistance is given only in certain circumstances and is not permanent enough. Local government needs to have some real permanent basis on which to carry out its great activities. 1 commend this suggestion to the appropriate Federal Minister. I hope that the Prime Minister will do something about it at the next Premiers’ Conference because whatever is done will be of benefit not only to local government but to the whole of the nation.
– I also want to discuss the fiasco of the Government’s health scheme. There is no doubt in the world that the Government has once again completely gone to water over the question of doctors’ fees. We can all remember the time when the previous Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), did his best to stand up to the doctors. But we can also remember what happened when the Present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) came into office. There was an immediate capitulation to the doctors. Almost immediately after the change of Prime Ministers the general practitioners got their rise of IS per cent.
We can remember also that as part of a face saving deal the Prime Minister received some sort of assurance, he thought, that the revised schedule would remain in force for 2 years - that is until the end of June 1973. But many of the doctors have treated the whole agreement with contempt. In fact, they have made it quite clear that as far as they are concerned there was no agreement at all. These doctors have thumbed their noses not only at the Government but at the Australian Medical Association. What has the Government done? It has given in to them. The Government has appeared even less responsible on the issue than the Australian Medical Association because when the New South Wales branch of the Society of General Practitioners recommended a rise in fees these rises were repudiated by the AMA. For a while the Government tried to give the impression that it was going to take a strong stand on the matter as well. But who capitulated? lt was not the AMA that gave way first; it was the Government.
Last weekend, when interviewed on television, the Prime Minister was prepared to hint on participating doctor schemes - as I. think the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) who is at the table has done - but that is about as far as they were ever prepared to go. By Tuesday of this week it was all over again, lt was another victory for the doctors. During his television interview last weekend the Prime Minister said:
But there’s a small group - and no more than a small group in New South Wales - 1,000 members of the General Practitioners Association, that seem anxious either to destroy the scheme based upon the common fee, or to defy the Government. We’re not prepared to allow them to get away with it.
It is a different story now; the Government has given it away. We are to have what the Government euphemistically calls arbitration’. Mind you, the Government does not have any agreement from the AMA about arbitration. But the Government still likes to call it arbitration. If I can paraphrase the Treasurer (Mr Snedden): If this is what you call arbitration, words have lost their meaning’. How can the Government possibly call it arbitration if it does not have agreement between the 2 sides? Yet, the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said last night in his statement that the Government is not even going to seek an agreement with the AMA on the matter until after Mr Justice Kerr has made his decision. The Minister said:
After implementation of the arbitrator’s finding within the medical benefits schedule-
It goes on - . . firm assurances mil be sought from the Australian Medical Association that there will be general observance of the fees so that they will, in fact, become the most common fees.
How can the Government call that arbitration? Only after Mr Justice Kerr has made his decision the Government is to ask the AMA to be a good sport and to go along with the decision. What is the Government going to do if the AMA will not go along with it? Why should the AMA go along with it? The Government has shown that it is prepared to reward people who are going to be militant - that is if they are doctors. If the AMA officials say that they will abide by arbitration, what control have they over their rebels - over the GPs? What about the other doctors in other States who are not observing the common fee?
This highlights what is the most absurd aspect of the whole proposal. The Government is to seek an arbitrated settlement between itself and not the other party in the dispute, but the AMA. The dispute is not wilh the AMA; it is with the doctors who are not observing the AMA recommendations. The AMA has repudiated the General Practitioners Society so what is the point of going to arbitration with the AMA? Surely it should be quite obvious that none of these doctors will take much notice of what Mr Justice Kerr decides. The Government already has tossed its hand in.
The Prime Minister and the Minister for Health referred to a participating doctor scheme - the Minister hinted at this last night. But as everyone knows, Liberal Ministers might say that when they are pressed to do so but they never mean it. That idea anyway has now been put off. Dark threats have been made, but that is all. Instead of acting to check excessive fees the Government has allowed the fees to go up.
Let us be frank about it: Arbitration means a rise in fees. We have 2 sides which are arguing about this matter. One side say that fees should be so much and the other side says that the fees should be higher. But if this matter goes to arbitration, whatever happens the arbitrator will strike a medium between the two. What does that mean? Everyone knows - and the Government knows - that it means that there will be a rise in the common fee. This is quite contrary to the Government’s understanding with the AMA about a year ago. Instead of standing up to the increased fees the Government has gone to water. In other words, the Government now really is saying: ‘Do not worry about any agreement with us; we never meant it anyway - you do what you like.’
I would like to have a bit of a guess about what is going to happen. 1 think that the arbitrator will select a schedule of fees which is already higher than those operating - thai is the common fee - in New South Wales. 1 suppose it is possible that he will not recommend a higher fee, but I doubt it. I should think that the Government will so define the terms of reference as to make it pretty hard for Mr Justice Kerr to recommend that the common fee stays at its present level. My bet is that there will be an increase in the common fee. When the new schedule of increased fees comes into operation I should think that those GPs who already charge more than that amount will ignore the new figure. They will not reduce their fees voluntarily. Why should they be good chaps? The Government has shown that it is prepared to condone militancy. What about the doctors who at present observe the common fee; those who have not increased their fees? When the new level is struck, the doctors who now charge the existing common fee will increase their fees to bring them to the level of the common fee. So, those who are charging less will increase their fees and those who are charging more will keep theirs at the same level, and the overall effect of the Government’s decision to appoint an arbitrator will be to raise the overall level of medical costs in New South Wales. What then will the doctors in the other States say? Remember that the majority of doctors elsewhere still observe the common fee. It is not likely that they will idly watch the New South Wales doctors get a rise without coming in for their chop. After all, the Government has shown that one only has to flex a bit of muscle and it will go to water.
It was yesterday, I think, that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) was complaining about industrial lawlessness. Here is a prime example of industrial lawlessness and far from standing up to it, the Government is preparing to reward it. The Governxent adopts a different attitude when it is the low wage earners who are pressing for an increase. According to the Government, we cannot have any of that but when it is a matter involving the doctors or the tall poppies in the Commonwealth Public Service or the Ministers themselves, the Government is not averse to granting a pretty fat rise in fees. I very much regret that the whole debate on health in Australia now has gone on to the question of how high the doctors fees should be. This should not be the central issue. The question should be whether the people are getting healthier, and T think you will find that this is not so. There has been an enormous increase in various types of morbidity in Australia, in spite of a tremendous increase in expenditure on health. We are spending a lot more but we are not getting enough back out of it.
The present fee for service system is inadequate. Under this scheme the doctors, whether they are the most honourable men in the world or not, have a vested interest in people being sick. The more they are sick, the more the doctor is paid. There is a vested increase in over-use of the scheme which gives the doctor an incentive to exploit it. I am sure that this is one of the reasons for the excessive prescription of drugs covered by the pharmaceutical benefits list, because this system rewards the doctor the more a patient comes back to him. The fee for service system has no regard for the broader aspects of community health, such as preventive medicine. I commend to everybody the Australian Labor Party proposals for providing an integrated health service on a salaried basis. This will provide, not on a compulsory basis but parallel with the existing private medical service, an adequate salaried structure which will enable an overall programme of total community health care.
– ] call the Minister for Immigration representing the Minister for Health.
– I do not know about representing the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), Mr Deputy Speaker. 1 gather I have 2 minutes to comment on some of the things that have been said by honourable members. In that time 1 want to do only one thing. Opposition speakers on the question of health and fees would have been much more credible if the Opposition had indicated what it proposed to do about the question of doctors fees. It has been widely accepted that the Australian Labor Party health scheme has solved in some way the problem which has vexed the Government - I have no hesitation in admitting it - of the level of observance of doctors fees. The Labor Party has not done anything of the sort. Only last Monday, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) wrote an article in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ which purported to set out the Opposition’s health scheme. The only thing that that article had to say about fees was, firstly, that the Labor Party would maintain the fee for service system. Honourable gentlemen may contrast what the Leader of the Opposition wrote with what the honourable members for Kingston (Dr Gun) and Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) have had to say. Their entire speeches were a spate of vindictive hostility against the whole fee for service system. The only other thing the Leader of the Opposition had to say was that the Opposition would negotiate a schedule of fees with the medical profession. Yet, the Opposition purports to criticise the Government and to represent that it has a health scheme which has somehow solved this problem. In fact, the Opposition would not have the fee for service system. It would operate a salaried service as was set out by the honourable member for Kingston and it is trying to disguise (his fact.
– Order! lt is now 15 minutes to I o’clock and in accordance with standing order 106 the debate is interrupted. I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr Speaker, for the information of honourable members, I present a list of homes subsidised under the Aged Persons Homes Act 1954-69 as at 31st December 1971, and I ask leave to make a statement in relation to it.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– This statement which I have just laid on the table is a summary which supplements the monthly figures of approvals for aged persons homes which are circulated to honourable members. These detailed monthly statements set out particulars of each approved home, including capital costs and the amount of donations received from prospective residents. lt will be seen that the statement which I now present sets out the homes subsidised under the Act. It shows their address, the sponsoring organisation, and the number of beds in the various categories which each home contains. The list has been set out by Federal electorates, so that each honourable member can readily see the position in his own electorate. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking many of the honourable members on both sides of the chamber for the interest that they have shown in our aged persons homes scheme, and I would ask them to continue that interest, both by keeping in touch with the homes in their own electorates and also by assisting organisations in their electorates who may be contemplating the establishment of additional homes.
I think 1 could say that, in the short space of time since this Act was brought in in 1954, it has had a dramatic impact on the accommodation situation of our elderly citizens. This question of accommodation is perhaps the most important determinant of living standard for those who are on a pension. Most age pensioners reside in homes which they themselves own. In fact of our 710,000 age pensioners, over 504,000 live in their own homes, and another 75,000 are in homes subsidised under this Act or are in receipt of nursing benefits in homes not so subsidised. State Housing Commissions and unsubsidised hostels provide for at least - and I think this is an understatement - a further 25,000. Thus, in total, we can say that of the 206,000 age pensioners who do not own their own homes, at least 100,000 are living independently under satisfactory conditions. This leaves a balance of 106,000, many of whom are living with their children or relatives under conditions which they themselves would not wish to change; and some of the others are living in good standard accommodation which they rent from private owners at a reasonable rale.
In fact, over 80 per cent of our married age pensioners are home owners, as are over half our single age pensioners (including widows and widowers in this latter category), without taking account of those whom I have mentioned above, who are satisfactorily accommodated even though they are not technically home owners. Or, again we might approach the problem in this way. There are 107,500 single age pensioners at present drawing supplementary assistance, which is equivalent to a rent allowance. Of these, well over 80,000 would be accommodated in homes which are subsidised by the Government or by charitable institutions.
There is still scope, therefore, for further expansion under our Aged Persons Homes Act. For reasons which I shall discuss in a moment, I would believe that another 40,000 to 50,000 beds in the network could meet most of our reasonable needs, and this compares with the present number of beds in the network of just over 40,000. We are, of course, providing great incentives for the expansion of our scheme. Within reasonable limits, we pay two-thirds of the capital cost, with a maximum subsidy of $5,200 for a single unit - that is the figure which we recently raised from $4,800- and $6,000 for a double unit. In addition, we allow donations as deductions for income tax purposes; so that a charitably-inclined person might well feel that money given to an aged persons homes organisation will go further in providing real satisfaction to those in need than money spent in most other directions. I do appeal for further assistance.
But I have got to say that the aged persons homes plan is at present progressing at a record rate and, in setting new targets for the future, I do not want the House to underestimate the really remarkable progress which has been made in a comparatively short time. In fact, it has been one of the salient factors in the tremendous improvement in the position of aged persons in Australia over the past 2 decades.
When this Government first came to power in 194.9 there was no effective medical plan for the aged, no nursing benefits, no supplementary assistance. The pension was paid subject to a fierce means test then-
– It still is.
– lt is paid subject to a means test, but not the same fierce means test, and, in terms of purchasing power the pension in 1949 was much below today’s level. There was no housing plan, and a very high proportion of pensioners then when Labor went out of office was rack-rented for sub-standard and overcrowded accommodation. I am directing this statement especially to pensioners’ accommodation conditions, and I have shown the House that, while these are still not all solved, they have been reduced to very much smaller proportions. Our aged persons homes plan has. as I have said, played a .significant part in that process.
Under the Aged Persons Homes Act there are 3 types of accommodation whose capital cost is subsidised by the Government’s 2 for 1 plan. They are:
As honourable members will see from the table which 1 hope to incorporate in Hansard, there were at the end of December 21.671 self-contained beds: 14.439 hosteltype beds: and 5,371 nursing-type beds in the Commonwealth - ‘.hat is in our aged persons homes system - making a grant total of 41.481 people thus accommodated. The following tables, showing the number of beds of each type in the various States and the numbers of beds per thousand head of the population, and which I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard, may be of interest to honourable members.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
– I will not read out the tables. They are set out here in detail. But there are one or two features in them on which 1 would like to comment now. Honourable members will see that South Australia is considerably ahead of ail other States in per capita provision of beds - 6.97 per 1,000 head of population, as compared with an Australian average of 3.24 or a New South Wales figure of 2.38. I would attribute this South Australian preeminence - it is a pre-eminence - to a happy accident - the drive and enthusiasm of two men, previously members of this House. I refer, of course, to Sir Keith Wilson and to his son, Mr Ian Wilson. While they are not by any means the only people in South Australia who have made an effective contribution to this situation, there is no reasonable doubt that, but for them. South Australia would not be so far ahead of the other States, and that in this respect the people of South Australia owe a special debt of gratitude to them.
It will be noted that the South Australian situation is that the number of beds per capita of the population is a little over twice the Australian average. On the assumption that South Australia is not far short of meeting total requirements under our Act - this. 1 think, is the situation - it would seem that our Australian programme should be based on an increase of some 50,000 beds, plus, of course, a further increase correlated with the growth in the aged population. Honourable members will remember that, in the monthly schedule of approvals which they receive - these are the ones which are distributed to them - the amount of so called ‘donations’ by intending residents is shown for each home. They will therefore appreciate that something like two-thirds of the beds provided under the Aged Persons Homes Act are provided as charitable beds, free of any donation. These are allocated to pensioners in accordance with need. In passing I might mention that in the return- for December 1971, which is now, I think, in the hands of honourable members, the total cost of the approvals was $2,806,000 of which only $193,000 was contributed by residents. Although this proportion varies from month to month it illustrates what I am saying, that the overwhelming proportion of beds provided under this scheme is provided free of donation and by charitable organisations whose goodwill 1 take this opportunity of commending to the House. ] hope that the House will join with me in thus commending them.
The remaining one-third of the beds do carry an initial donation, but I remind the House that such beds will eventually be available free of donation. The accommodation being constructed is of a permanent nature, and I would anticipate that in the century to come each place in these aged persons homes would give comfort to many generations of old people, so that even where an initial donation is received, the real impact will be in favour of those who make no donation. I know that, in certain cases, an organisation receives a second donation in respect of occupancy, but I point out to the House that this second donation must be used for the construction of further accommodation, so that it results in the provision of another bed which is free of donation. All the organisations concerned are. of course, non-profit.
We try to interfere as little as possible with the running of these organisations. I know that the Government is sometimes criticised for this policy of non-interference, but I am sure on experience that its benefits outweigh its disadvantages. In some cases, I know, there have been complaints that organisations have raised their maintenance charges to occupants, but with rising costs in the community, particularly wage costs, some increases are inevitable. I know of no case where a pensioner is paying an amount for accommodation which exceeds the services provided. Again I know that some worthy people have criticised this unavoidable increase in fees and have brought forward complaints which are not firmly based on a complete knowledge of the facts. Perhaps these people do not always appreciate the potential harm they may be doing by their agitation - how they may be jeopardising the success of a scheme which has already brought so much comfort to so many elderly people. No scheme as far reaching as ours can be entirely free from defect, but I appeal to its critics to be constructive and not destructive: to be temperate rather than to exaggerate; and to direct their efforts to the real interests of old people rather than to personal publicity.
Again, I know that it is hard for people in this place to forget politics. Indeed I know that one honourable member of the Opposition engineered his entrance to this place largely by exploiting this issue, against the real interests of the elderly people concerned. Perhaps today he is a little ashamed of what he did, so I will say no more about it. 1 think honourable members will recognise that our aged persons homes legislation not only has given happiness and security to the people who become residents under it, but also has taken a load off the remaining small fraction of the pensioner community which still rents its accommodation, because the construction of these aged persons homes and their occupation by pensioners has substantially reduced the pressure on other accommodation and has made this other accommodation available to other pensioners, under less crowded conditions or at a cheaper rate.
We still need more of these aged persons homes and again I appeal to honourable members to help in organising them in their own electorate wherever the need for them is seen. The Government will continue to play its part in the way I have described. contributing two-thirds of the capital cost for approved homes, up to the limit of $5,200 for a single unit and $6,000 for a double unit, and making the balance of any donation deductible for income tax purposes. More accommodation is needed in all classes of our aged persons homes - self-contained, hostel, and nursing. I would like to emphasise, however, that our view is that at present the main requirement is for more of the hostel type, and the Government is at present considering ways and means of encouraging development in this direction even more in the future. I present the following paper:
Aged Persons Homes - Ministerial statement, 9 March 1972. and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
– With the greatest of respect to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), I think he made a fairly lengthy detour through the fiction department of the Department of Social Services when he prepared at least some aspects of this report. One could be excused, if one had no knowledge of the needs for the elderly in our society, for believing, by taking his statement at face value, that there were no real problems in existence for them, especially in relation to their accommodation. Before I deal with that there are 2 points I want to take up immediately. The Minister referred to them in his speech. Firstly, the Minister made reference to an anonymous member of the Opposition who engineered his entrance to this place by exploiting the issue, the issue being dissatisfaction amongst aged people with certain aspects of the conduct of aged persons homes units by some organisation or another. The Minister then - and I find this interesting because it exposes a peculiar quirk in his personality, not a singular one of course but nevertheless one of them - said that the person did this ‘against the real interests of the elderly people concerned’. I think we ought to deliberate on the words ‘against the real interests of the elderly people concerned’. What the Minister is actually saying is that what he thinks is the best interests of the elderly people is in their best interests, and anyone who criticises his policy is in fact attacking the best interests of the elderly people.
I remind the Minister that I, among many other honourable members on both sides of this House, receive frequent communications through the mail about the way in which some aged persons homes organisations are being conducted, and homes which had close associations with Liberal members of this Parliament up to 1969. Indeed I have received a series of letters, not just from the one person, which were so scandalous in their allegations that one felt that there must be something seriously astray for these things to have been recorded not, as I said, by the one person but by others too. The Minister referred to the role played by the Wilsons - senior and junior - who are former members of this Parliament. I think it ought to be pointed out for the record that the Wilson family is associated with the Aged Cottage Homes Inc. in South Australia. It is not a large organisation. It is considerably smaller than South Australia Incorporated. One eminent member on this side of the House, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), happens to serve on the board-
– I used to serve until I came to this place.
– The honourable member used to serve on the board of management before he was elected to this Parliament.
– That is good enough.
– Do you concede the point?
– I concede nothing.
– I think it ought to be put on the record, seeing that the Minister was playing around with politics, that the Aged Cottage Homes Inc. has a fairly bad record where nursing home care is concerned. As far as the Wilsons are concerned, they were great hypocrites when it came to the issue of social services. Each of them would stand in this Parliament and declaim the system of social service payments and how it discriminated against pensioners but when the divisions were taken they always voted with the Government to perpetuate the system which they had been declaiming.
Reverting to the statement by the Minister, he spoke about the particular system under which money is provided for aged persons homes by this programme. I believe it is an inadequate system to raise money and it is an inequitable one. It is inadequate because it does not raise as much money as ought to be raised given the needs of aged people in the present circumstances of aged persons services. It is inequitable because it depends for a substantial amount of the money provided on the local raising of finance. So we have this peculiar system of people running out and rattling tins under people’s noses trying to collect money, running raffles for cakes, running beauty contests and a whole range of things. The effect of this is that it becomes a voluntary tax and therefore a regressive tax because 20c from someone on a low income compared with 20c from someone on a high income in the purchase of a raffle ticket represents a greater sacrifice for the person on a low income than for a person on a high income.
So the effect of this sort of tax is regressive but the inequity is more deep seated than this for the simple reason that the areas in which there are heavy concentrations of low income people, and more especially heavy concentrations of aged retired people with very limited personal resources, experience considerable difficulty in raising the sort of money which is required. Increasingly one gets the impression that the policies which are operated in this country by this conservative Government - and only this morning I was talking about a case relevant to what I am about to say, that is the arts policy, and one can see this in education - provide the greatest advantage to the middle class or petty middle class area, the people in the middle income groups. I do not deny that they have the right to draw on these benefits. They have an entitlement too but the people in low income areas have a very compelling right. If we are going to talk about priority needs these would be the areas which I would expect ought lo be plugged up first.
– What about the cost of State housing?
– I will deal with that in a minute. One does not see, for instance, our distinguished members of the armed Services going about on a Saturday or on their leave days rattling cans trying to raise enough money to buy another destroyer or an Fill aircraft or taking their Saturday afternoon off to conduct beauty contests to get enough money to provide food for the canteen. In fact, if such a suggestion were made it would be laughed out of court and quite reasonably so. But are not the rights involved in the provision of welfare services just as powerful in their demands for adequate financing as are the rights of the people who command and operate our defence Services?
If I may take the general gloss of what the Minister is putting to the House, one would get the impression that there would be very few, if any, aged people who would be suffering accommodation problems. The Minister knows as well as I do that the people at greatest risk to poverty in the Australian community, following on the Melbourne survey into poverty, are the aged. Four out of 5 of them run the risk of either being in poverty or in the marginal area of poverty and we should remember that the poverty level has been austerely defined. If we throw in the fact that quite a number of these people have accommodation problems and also the fact that they are in the worst situation of all where they are totally dependent on the age pension we would then get some concept of a problem of poverty existing in our community directly related to inadequate housing. In Henderson’s book entitled ‘People in Poverty’ he states at page 74:
Those paying less than $5 a week in rent-
Can honourable members imagine anyone getting a house for $5 a week or less in the capital cities - or instalments are also largely free of poverty and need. But the supply of privately owned accommodation at such low rents is shrinking, since it is completely uneconomic for landlords to use valuable land in this way. Moreover in some cases the quality of this cheap housing is badly substandard. The judgment of the Victorian Housing Commission should be noted.
He quotes it and I will repeat it later. Henderson continues:
The demand for accommodation in many suburbs for the section of the community so deserving of our help is greater than the supply and many elderly citizens still live in substandard housing conditions. The problem of housing Victoria’s elderly citizens is increasing year by year.
In the ‘Age’ newspaper of 25th February 1971 there is an article entitled ‘50,000 pensioners in hovels.’ The article goes on to say under the Canberra dateline:
Fifty thousand age pensioners are inadequately housed, a Federal Government survey has revealed.
Most of the pensioners are said to be concentrated in ‘privatey owned hovels’ in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Sydney and other capitals.
The figure of 50,000 represents one in every 16 pensioners.
The survey says all the pensioners arc paying exorbitant’ rents and many are living in substandard conditions.
This relates to the point I was making earlier. This is the area which ought to be given the highest priority rating when we are talking about the provision of housing for these people. If I may I will broaden this a little and talk about the needs of people who are aged. I am not keen to shove them into units which would move them away from their traditional home site, their home in which they raised their families and with which they have had a long term association that is a sort of spiritual relationship with their environment. I am most unhappy to do this. I believe we could diminish considerably the need to provide aged persons homes, hostels and nursing homes. Certainly we can continue to provide them but the rate of provision, which is what I am talking about, could be considerably diminished if we were prepared generously to fund on a realistic and on a practical basis the backing up services such as domiciliary services which will allow people to stay in their own homes. Of course the Government in 1969 made some promises to do something in this field. If I have time I will deal with them, but they were monumenal flops all in all. I mean meaningful services that will allow these people to retain accommodation in their homes and their self-respect, dignity and sense of independence, which is so important to them.
One way in which we could do this would be to provide them with cash loans at low or no interest repayable from the estate on death so that they could maintain their homes. This seems to be a relatively simple matter to me. There would not be a great deal of money involved in this. Of course there would be some sort of a means test. We are not going to give this assistance to the Sir Ian McLennans of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd when they retire or to politicians such as the Minister for Social Services or myself when we retire on quite adequate pensions. I am talking about people who have real need. This is one way in which this sort of objective could be achieved.
We ought to be encouraging families to hold together the extended family unit. I am afraid that I have moved away from the position which I once held about the individuality of groups in society and the less desirable features of the extended family unit. I believe that the problems and tensions we are moving into today in our society demand that we take steps to hold the extended family unit together, more especially with mothers working at the high rate at which they do today as a result of Government policy. In this situation we ought to be providing money on very easy terms so that self-contained inlaw units can be built onto homes so that the extended family relationship can be maintained. If we do not do this we will have the problem of key kids, the children who have a key tied around their neck and who have to let themselves into their homes in the evenings when they get home from school and spend a few hours at loose ends totally undirected while mum and dad are away at work. Mum and dad are not happy about this, of course, but the economic pressures in our society force them into this situation in most cases. Other arguments about child care centres and after school care are not immediately relevant here.
The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) interjected a query earlier about the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreements. He will remember that it was the Chifley Government which introduced rebated rentals for people on low incomes. But there is another important point which is not discussed by the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns). I have no recollection of his discussing it in the House in detail. The State Housing Commissions provide single aged persons with home units, but what they do not tell the people is that a particularly fierce means test applies, so that to obtain accommodation in these home units one has to be receiving supplementary assistance, which is subject to a means test of about $156 a year. I do not object to priorities being struck, but I wonder why these things have not been spelt out more fully and why an embellishment is put around this scheme by supporters of the Government.
Finally, my greatest concern is about this matter of donations which are extracted from people. The Department of Social Services, when it sends out letters, refers to the fact that donations will be sought in certain situations. I refer to the report of a select committee of the South Australian Legislative Council on the plight and needs of certain pensioners, lt states:
There seems, to be little objection to a reasonable first donation, but it is apparent that some organisations have’ been taking second and even third donations in respect of the same accommodation unit.
This report was published only last year. The appalling practice results in people paying substantial amounts of money into these home units as a licence or key money to get into them. They then find that, if they become unhappy with it and wish to move out within a few months, they have no equity in that money which they have put into the home unit. In fact the Government demands that they should have no equity rights in this respect. If they should happen to drop dead the day after they move iri, having paid this money, there are no equity rights for their heirs and successors. There are many defects in this scheme, and I think we need a more penetrating analysis of what has been proposed than the Minister has given us.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Before the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) spoke I would have thought that he could be nothing but full of praise for what has been achieved under the Aged Persons Homes Act. I can only think that he did not listen when the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) said that he hoped that critics would be constructive and not destructive, that they would be temperate rather than exaggerate and that they would direct their attention to the real interests of the old people. I believe that the Aged Persons Homes Act, which was introduced by this Government in 1954, is possibly the most humane Act that has been implemented by any government in the history of this country. As a result of this Act and with the cooperation of church and charitable organisations, there existed in Australia at 31st December 1971 accommodation for some 41,481 aged people which probably would not have existed had this Act not come into being. I understand that by the end of February the number of people who could be accommodated had increased to 42,600. lt has been estimated that each of these units will probably accommodate 12 people during its economic life. So we can say that these aged people’s homes will accommodate during their lifetime about 500,000 people if no more are to be constructed after today, but of course more will be constructed. In my electorate, which now covers only 17 square miles since the redistribution, we have about 8 aged persons homes which house 463 aged persons in .self-contained units, 304 in hosteltype accommodation and 115 in nursing home accommodation, making accommodation for a total of 842 people in that small electorate alone. I have visited these aged persons homes on a number of occasions and I know the satisfaction and the happiness they have brought to the people who live in them. The cost to the Government of the aged persons homes scheme has been about $134m, and with the voluntary donations and the cooperation of church bodies homes have been built to the value I believe, of approximately $200m. I think this is a great achievement.
But what did the honourable member for Oxley have to say? He criticised the principle in this scheme of voluntary participation and donations. It should be obvious to all members of this House that if it were not for the participation of these church and charitable organisations and the donations they have put into these buildings, the Government money would not go anywhere near as far as it does. The cost of building the same number of homes would be 50 per cent more to the taxpayer than it has been or else we would have 50 per cent fewer homes than we have today. When we are talking as the honourable member for Oxley does, we should talk responsibly about what has been achieved and should not just be out to gain cheap political advantage by endeavouring to rubbish the Government.
We. as Liberals and as a Liberal and Country Party Government, believe that it is important to have the participation of the outside organisations, the church and charitable organisations, Lions clubs, Robary clubs, Apex clubs and so on. We do not believe in setting up a costly bureaucratic organisation which will run from Canberra aged person homes in various districts all around Australia. We believe that by having this scheme decentralised and allowing the churches and voluntary organisations to run it, it will run better than if some big bureaucratic organisation miles away in Canberra were controlling it. But the Australian Labor Party always wants bigger and more costly government organisations controlled by bureaucrats because this is part of its philosophy and ideas. As the Minister points out. under the present system the Government is not involved in the daily running costs and organisation of these homes, and this in itself is a big saving to the taxpayer. It hands control of these homes to organisations such as the churches, which have the interests and sympathy of the elderly people close at heart, much more so than some civil servant miles away in Canberra. However, the Commonwealth Government has laid down conditions which ensure protection of the interests of aged people without unduly hamstringing the organisations.
Control of aged people’s homes is limited to approved organisations, such as religious, charitable and benevolent societies and ex-servicemen’s bodies, municipal councils and similar bodies. Approved organisations must be non profit making, as the Minister pointed out. They must provide permanent accommodation. They must have single rooms for single people and married couples must be accommodated in double rooms, flats or cottages. Single people must not be allowed to occupy double accommodation. Homes for the aged must be used exclusively for the aged - for men aged more than 65 years and women more than 60 years. Grants are limited to $4,800 for a single unit and $6,000 for a double unit. This ensures that wasteful expensive accommodation does not occur.
The honourable member for Oxley criticised the payment of donations to these organisations. Conditions are applied to donations. They must be used for further capital costs, thus ensuring that in future more homes and units will be built so that more people will secure accommodation and the scheme will snowball making more accommodation available for the elderly. A limitation is prescribed whereby half the occupants must come in free after the first donation, so as time passes more people will enter aged homes without any donation being required of them. 1 do not see why it is wrong that people who have the money to pay should not pay to get into these organisations, because if they do, they do not become a charge on the taxpayer. Why should people who have the money be subsidised by the taxpayer? The honourable member for Oxley talks with 2 voices. At one time he says that he would apply a means test, but at another time, in another breath and in another place he advocates a national superannuation scheme which, presumably, would have no means test. He should be consistent when he makes criticisms of the sort he made today.
Another restriction applying to aged persons homes is that people who go into them do not acquire any tenancy rights. This ensures that people accommodated’ in these homes cannot establish some sort of permanent claim. Of course we all know that the organisations involved in running these homes are well meaning and to imply that anything wrong would be. done to the inhabitants is quite improper on the part of the honourable member for Oxley. The Aged Persons Homes Act has been extended on several occasions over the years. Provision has been made whereby if any of these aged persons homes bodies require a nursing home unit they will be subsidised. The homes get a special subsidy of $20 every 4 weeks for each person over 80 years of age as a form of help for the frail. As a result of this Act aged people do not have to live out their lives in substandard accommodation or in accommodation which they cannot afford, which was the situation before this Government came to office.
The Minister mentioned the work that has been done by the 2 Wilsons - Sir Keith Wilson and Ian Wilson. I did not know Sir
Keith Wilson but I have served in this House with Ian Wilson. The honourable member for Oxley seemed to think that the Minister should not have said what he did, but I hope, and predict, that after the next election this House, and this country, will have the benefit again of the work of Ian Wilson. He may not be as garrulous as the present honourable member for Stuart (Mr Foster) but he certainly made a fine contribution to this Parliament. 1 hope, as does the Minister, that we will see him back again after the next election. We, as Australian citizens, should be proud, as the Minister pointed out, that 80 per cent of married age pensioners in Australia today own their own homes and that 50 per cent of single age pensioners also own their own homes, Many of the others are satisfactorily housed in aged persons homes under this Act or are living comfortably with their families as they choose. Today only a small percentage of pensioners are not satisfactorily housed. What a contrast to the situation when Labor ruled this country and before this Government came to office.
In the years since the Aged Persons Homes Act was first introduced by the Government we have seen remarkable progress. Today, as a result of the actions of this Government and with the assistance of church and charitable organisations, for which we should be grateful and not critical, many thousands of elderly and frail people can now end their days in .companionship and comfort. This is something in which we, as a nation, can take great pride.
– I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). I think I understood him correctly to say that those who originally entered an aged persons home made a contribution to the institution and (hat subsequently, in some instances at least, those who followed them when homes became available entered the institution al no cost at all. The honourable member showed an abysmal ignorance in relation to this matter because it is well known to honourable members, as I believe it is known to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), that many of these institutions and organisations demand a second donation when a home is re-let. If the honourable member for Dea kin claims thai the situation as he described it applies throughout the Commonwealth of Australia, he is very much in error. This was one of the points made by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) who indicated the general situation that now applies in Australia. Members of the Opposition claim that it is completely wrong for an organisation which accepts a donation - there may be some justification for organisations asking for a donation to be able to ensure that they will be able to continue a programme of providing homes for the aged - to require a second donation from a person who is to occupy a home for which the organisation has already received a donation. No-one, least of all the uninterested Minister for Social Services who is sitting at the table, can successfully argue that organisations should be in a position to be able to ask for a second donation. This is one of the main items of controversy that the Opposition has raised. The point was well made by the honourable member for Oxley, as were other points he made about other matters that I hope to debate shortly.
The Minister has given the House a glowingly optimistic account of the progress and future of aged persons homes in Australia. His remarks are confined to the homes subsidies granted by the aged persons homes legislation which was introduced in 1954. Unfortunately, the Minister did not seek to take a global approach and look at all the aspects of accommodating and caring for aged people, in particular aged people who are chronically ill. It is difficult to look at the impact of the aged persons homes scheme in isolation. Inevitably aspects of aged persons homes legislation are linked with benefits for nursing homes and private hospitals. There is also the very important related issue of catering for the health needs of old people. The branch of medicine and social practice known as gerontology has had little encouragement in Australia.
The Minister makes it plain that the Government has no reservations about the success of the aged persons homes legislation. In the eyes of the Minister it is beyond criticism; all that is needed to assure perfection is the provision of more homes and more beds. He makes it clear that the Government emphasises incentives for expanding the scheme and allowing donations to aged persons homes as tax deductions. Provision of another 40,000 to 50.000 beds would solve all problems of housing and caring for the aged in our society, according to the Minis er. This is admirable in theory. But there is strong evidence that the Government has never followed through or faced up to the implications of the aged persons homes scheme. It still looks at the scheme through the eyes of 1954 when it was introduced.’
I do not wan’ to look in any detail at the course of the scheme and the legislation that has been put to the Parliament over ‘he years. When the scheme was in roduced one of the conditions laid down by the Commonwealth was that all persons admitted as residents had to have a reasonable amount of mobility. They had to be reasonably healthy people who did not require hospital treatment. This left the care of aged people who were ill firmly at the door of the S:ate hospital systems. The trouble with this sort of approach is that if neglected the advance of the years. Elderly persons in their sixties could enter aged persons homes in a reasonable state of health and capable of considerable independence. As they got older the health of these people deteriorated and they became more dependent on proper nursing and medical care. This put enormous strains on benevolen- homes and other aged persons homes who had accepted responsibility for their clients. It introduced the nursing home element into the aged persons homes structure. Commonwealth subsidies were provided for residents of the homes in need of medical care and for those requiring intensive nursing care. Entitlement to these subsidies was made dependent on a reasonably high standard of nursing accommodation and the employment of trained nurses. Homes which got the capital grant from the Commonwealth under the Aged Persons Homes Act were restricted to a maximum of a third of the to al residents getting the daily subsidies. The cost structures of these homes were drastically altered by heavy commitments for structural changes to incorporate nursing facilities and for payment of nursing staff.
In a short space of time the whole concept of homes for the aged changed quite remarkably. The initial concept of provid ing homes and hostels for aged people in good health was expanded to include an additional responsibility for the treatment and care of the frail and infirm aged who needed nursing care. At the same time the introduction of a profit motive in the form of Commonwealth subsidies stimulated the growth of private nursing homes. The virtues and vices of the nursing home structure were dealt with in this House when the additional $24m in Commonwealth subsidies was legislated. I realise that nursing homes and private hospitals are beyond the scope of the Minister and the aged persons homes legislation. But the introduction of a nursing home element into the traditional benevolent home format makes it impossible to separate the issues. The Minister’s praise for the aged persons homes scheme can only be put in perspective by looking at the whole range of accommodation and care for the aged, and in particular the aged who are chronically ill. When this is done the defects in the Government’s assistance to aged and sick people is exposed.
There is not a hint in the Minister’s statement of the financial perils facing many of these homes. Undoubtedly the homes that are the most successful and affluent are those who have not accepted the responsibility of caring for the chronically ill among their patients. This is nol intended as a criticism, of course; there is no legislative duty on the homes to do this. But many of the homes have regarded if as an obligation and have struggled valiantly to give proper care to aged people who are infirm. Many homes now face the choice of abandoning their nursing home component and reverting solely to the care of aged people in good health. This means considerable capital’ loss in the facilities provided and immense social loss in the added burdens imposed on State hospitals. This would also throw many aged and ill people onto the private nursing home structure. Here they have to take their chance according to the sort of home they can afford. Undoubtedly many of these nursing homes are competently managed and provide excellent care. But the system is liable to exploitation and grave abuse, as has been pointed out repeatedly in this Parliament and in the Press. Even if benevolent homes were forced to jettison their nursing care in the interests of solvency, their financial future would not be assured.
The wage increases of the past 2 years have had a serious impact because of the difficulty of passing on increased costs to pensioners and other aged people of limited means. A way of easing the financial difficulties of these homes would be the provision of greater assistance by the States. The Minister referred to the superior position of the scheme in South Australia and with customary generosity attributed this pre-eminence to the efforts of the Wilsons, father and son, another matter referred to by the honourable member for Deakin. He neglected to mention that South Australia is one of the 2 States that have given substantial assistance to aged persons homes and nursing homes. It would be completely out of character for the Minister to acknowledge the contribution of a State Labor Government to the success of .the scheme. Unless the States give more .assistance and unless the Commonwealth increases its assistance, many of the better benevolent homes will be in serious financial difficulties. For example, a survey of benevolent homes in Tasmania shows that most are running deficits and some have closed or will be forced to close. According to estimates prepared by the Tasmanian Council on (he Aging, the deficit for 24 homes in 1971-72 would be about $310,000. This is on top of a deficit of Si 12,000 in 1970-71. Obviously the homes cannot sustain losses at this level and still maintain their services.
The unit cost of keeping an elderly person in a nursing section in Tasmania has risen by $6 a week in the past year. The pension has increased by $1.25 a week and subsidies under the National Health Act were raised in October from $35 a week to $45.50 a week for intensive nursing care and from $14 a week to $24.50 a week for elderly ill people. Even with these increases the homes are finding it difficult to absorb higher costs without lifting fees or drawing on reserves. I have raised this matter with the Minister for Social Services. I have had correspondence with the Minister and made representations to him on behalf of this Council to which I just referred as well as on behalf of individual benevolent homes, not only in Tasmania but also in other parts of Australia, where the interested authorities have written to me concerning their financial position. Yet here is the Minister today talking about the success of this scheme. No-one. least of all me, would want to take away from a former Prime Minister, not the Minister, credit for the conception of providing homes for the aged in Australia. I have already referred to the fact that in 1954, or the year when the scheme was first introduced, nobody in this House or, 1 believe, anyone outside the Parliament found anything in the Act at that time to be critical about.
But what the Minister refuses to do is to compare the situation in 1954 with that existing in 1972. With the lapse of time there are financial difficulties created for the homes because of the changed circumstances. Even the Minister must appreciate that those who accepted responsibilities in 1954 for people in the 60 to 65 years age group who had just retired would, with the passage .of time, naturally find these ageing people had become afflicted in many ways. These people are now and were then chronically ill and this is where the homes are now experiencing the problem. They are no longer homes for the aged. They are bound to accept nursing responsibility and so there has been a complete change in their circumstances. I wonder whether the Minister does really appreciate the situation, whether he believes that something can be done in this respect. If so, he is very reluctant to move in the way that I think a responsible Minister ought to move.
Undoubtedly aged persons homes in other States are in a similar pickle. Of necessity and contrary to principle, many homes are forced to look for residents on the basis of capacity to pay rather than need. These are the reasons underlying the Opposition’s refusal to accept the attempts at rationalisation and half-truths of the Minister for Social Services. Undoubtedly many of the homes have been successful and have brought comfort to thousands of older people, but it is not possible to look at the Act and the aged persons homes scheme without looking at nursing homes subsidised under the National Health Act.
The Government has recognised this situation by giving access to subsidies to homes financed under the Commonwealth
Act. I believe that there is a strong case for the formation of an advisory board on the lines of the Council for Aboriginal Welfare to investigate and report upon the needs of aged people.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr JARMAN (Deakin) - I claim to have been misrepresented and 1. ask for leave to make a personal explanation.
– Have you been misrepresented in this debate?
– Yes. by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). He said in referring to donations that I gave incorrect information. He is apparently unaware of the legal agreement which was introduced early in 1970, a copy of which I hold in my hand. With your indulgence, Sir, I will read the provision which clarifies the matter. Organisations controlling all new aged persons homes are now required to sign this agreement, it states:
When accommodation in an approved home is vacated by the aged person who occupies that accommodation, on the first occasion referred to in the lust preceding sub-clause the organisation shall allocate that accommodation in accordance wilh the object of reaching as early as practicable the position where at least half of the total number of aged persons accommodated in the home is made up of aged persons by whom, on whose behalf or in respect of whom a donation has nol been made to the organisation.
That is the point I made. Obviously the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is not aware of this document. I hope he is more accurate with the rest of his information than he was on that point.
Mr BARNARD (Bass)- If the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) feels that I have misrepresented him, I apologise to him. He has quoted from a document of which 1 am fully aware, but under its terms it is still possible for a second charge to be levied. 1 do not think the honourable member for Deakin would argue about that.
– In all cases it has to go-
– Not in all cases.
– Order! I remind the honourable member that he is speaking with the indulgence of the House.
– I want to be fair to the honourable member, but let me say that not in all cases are those people who are accepted into a home - that is, on the basis of letting the home on a second occasion - able to get there without paying a deposit, a second deposit; not in all cases.
– I support the White Paper that has been brought forward by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). 1 congratulate the Minister and the Government on the policy that has been set out in the paper. Honourable members on this side of the House feel that it is of great benefit to a very important facet of the Australian way of life as ii relates to the Aged Persons Homes Act 1954-69. What a great impact on accommodation in the community has been made by the provision of aged persons homes, hostels and nursing homes. A total of 42,500 beds was provided under this Act until the end of February last. Grants totalling S138m have been made under the Act for these institutions. Even so, there is still a great need for aged persons homes, hostels and nursing homes, and we should be doing all we possibly can as members of Parliament to interest responsible organisations to undertake such propositions, with consequent benefits to pensioners and a sense of satisfaction to themselves from having given assistance to fellow human beings.
I regard the provision of aged persons homes as one of the most important social problems in the Australian way of life. It does one good to visit these homes and to see bow comfortable and contented are the people in them. They have a sense of security and, above all, independence which is so essential to aged people. Most of the aged persons homes have every comfort and convenience. I appreciate the efforts of those wonderful citizens who have gratuitously given their time and talents as members of committees of management of these institutions, and I congratulate them. The Minister for Social Services has visited my area to open officially aged persons home units, and what a great success they have been in providing aged folk with ideal, happy and most comfortable circumstances.
Let us look at the types of institution or organisation that are eligible for assistance under the Aged Persons Homes Act. Firstly, there are religious organisations. The number of religious institutions far and away exceeds that of other organisations. Honourable members know what a wonderful job they are doing. Secondly, there are charitable or benevolent organisations; thirdly, servicemen’s organisations; fourthly, other organisations that can prove to the Department at Social Services and the Government that they are responsible people who can take care of aged folk and who can provide a book of rules and a constitution that will satisfy the Department and the Government; and fifthly, municipal and shire councils.
The list shows that municipalities and shires are not very heavy supporters of the scheme because of their financial problems in other fields. Commonwealth and State government institutions are not eligible for assistance under this scheme, and rightly so. Why should they be eligible? They have funds for this purpose. Institutions that are carried on for profit or gain similarly do not qualify. The Department of Social Services naturally lays down certain requirements to qualify for financial assistance from the Government through the Department. The Commonwealth contributes on the basis of $2 for ever $1 provided by the organisations, or twice the amount of the organisation’s funds, whichever is the lesser
I have pointed out that religious organisations conduct the greatest number of aged persons homes, but this should not deter other responsible and community institutions from taking over the sponsorship of such homes. Service organisations such as Rotary, Apex, Lions, Quota and Jaycees have great community interest in many “ot our towns and have interested themselves in the establishment of aged persons homes. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) took exception to the fact that citizens are asked for donations for the provision of aged persons homes. I think this is a good thing because it gives people in a community a sense of citizenship. It must give them great satisfaction to know that they can contribute to an age institution or a hostel in their community that will provide comfort and solace to aged people. If we looked at this matter Australia-wide we would find that where citizens are asked to contribute to an aged persons home unit they take an interest in that unit. They are prepared to visit the inmates to ascertain whether they can be helped any further. It is a lot of nonsense to talk as the honourable member did because people do not mind assisting to run these institutions and to make financial contributions to them.
The honourable member for Oxley believes in the full-blooded socialisation of these institutions, where the inmates would only be digits or robots. Under a system of total socialism there would not be given to these people the human kind of care as is now the case. We believe in individualism - in citizens being able to show kindness and to give humanitarian assistance to these, elderly people. This care and interest must be of great benefit and solace to them. They appreciate the kindness that is shown to them when one visits their homes. They realise that you know that they have been citizens of the community and that they have given their lives in service to the community. They know that you are showing your appreciation to them. Prior to this Government taking office in 1949 no provision was made for this type of assistance. There were no effective medical plan for the aged, no nursing benefits and no supplementary assistance. There was no housing plan, and a very high proportion of pensioners were rackrented for substandard and overcrowded accommodation. That was the record of the Opposition prior to this Government coming into power. I congratulate the Government and the Minister on their splendid achievement in this very needy social field. I support the White Paper wholeheartedly.
– There are some things which the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) said with which I wholeheartedly agree. I am very well aware of the satisfaction that is achieved by many people who reside in homes for the aged. I have some of them in my own electorate. I visit them and I know that they are quite happy there. However, I take issue with the honourable member when he referred, as did the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in bis White Paper, to what the
Labor Government had done or had not done prior to 1949. The honourable member went on to say that at chat time there was not an effective medical plan for the aged, in fact, the government of the day had provision for a very wide and comprehensive health plan. It was a plan which set out that a means test would not apply to patients in public hospitals. There was a plan for pharmaceutical benefits and a plan for doctors* assistance. But as is the case at present the doctors then were not so cooperative with the government of the day.
In the field of housing the Chifley Government had a generous system of rebates for pensioners through the housing commissions. A lot of that has been done away with by successive Liberal-Country Party Governments. At that time there was also a plan to provide other kinds of assistance for the welfare of aged people, but I will not dwell on that at the moment.
I do not want to take up an undue amount of time because I hope that my colleague the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) will get an opportunity of saying a few words on this White Paper, as he is very interested in this problem. The Minister said that there had been a record rate of development under the aged persons homes plan. So there might have been. But I think that when we start talking about record numbers or record achievements we have to line up what has been achieved against what the need is in the community. I think there are many people who would not be nearly so complacent as the Minister about the numbers, or the comparatively small number, of people who are in need of homes at low rates of interest and homes which can be purchased at a reasonable price. I took the trouble during the lunch hour break to ring the Housing Commission of New South Wales. I was informed that in that State single aged persons who applied for a Housing Commission home had to wait almost 6 years to receive that home. The Housing Commission is dealing with applications made by single people not later than December 1966. In other words, elderly single people who are seeking accommodation in a Housing Commission home have over a 5-year wait. I think that it is getting on towards a 4-year wait for married people. As we know, unfortunately most of the people who are in receipt of age pensions are in fact ‘single* people. Most of them are widows while a smaller proportion are widowers. So, on that index alone of the waiting time for a housing commission home these are people in the community who are in very great need to be served. I do not think that this need will be served by so heavy a reliance on the aged persons homes plan.
There is another aspect which has already been referred to. Many people who do get accommodation in aged persons homes are in fact comparatively wealthy people. I know of a number of people who have sold their homes and have used part of the money so received to buy into aged persons homes. 1 know that in many of these schemes unless people have $2,500 to put down their names cannot go on the list. It might be true, as the Minister says, that some time in the future these homes will become available to other people who do not have such resources. But, of course, we have to keep in mind that as the years go by the numbers of elderly people in our community also will increase. We might still have a continuing need which will not be served by the plan as it operates at the moment.
I admit that there are a number of people - very needy people - who are in aged persons homes. On the other hand there are many others who cannot get into these homes and others who have gone into the homes foi social reasons but not out of financial necessity. Many have sold their own homes and used part of their resources to buy into aged persons homes. They have used the other part of their resources to keep within the means test limit by going on a holiday overseas or for some other such purpose. What we are concerned about is this: Are the people most in need being served by this scheme? I think not.
Then there is the desperate position of many citizens of whom I know - and I think that other honourable members can testify to the same position in their own electorates. There are many aged people who are paying for rental accommodation through private sources. It is a very sorry state to have to advise that as a result of the abolition of rent control by Liberal governments many of these people are paying anything up to $18, $20 and even higher amounts a week for rental of private accommodation. I have often wondered why it has not occurred to the Government to make some kind of provision, apart from the needs of aged persons, along the lines of the aged persons homes scheme for invalids and widows. There are a good many widows with families whom I personally know and who are paying extortionate rentals for the accommodation. I hope that the Government will give consideration to making some extension of the scheme or providing an alternative scheme so that these people can be looked after as well.
One other aspect of the scheme is the differential of availability of homes in each of the States. The Minister’s White Paper indicates that South Australia provides per capita a better proportion of homes than does any other State. It is notable that the most populous States - New South Wales and Victoria - are the lowest in terms of the percentage of people in those communities who are being provided for in this way. Then, there is a difference between localities even within a State. Can we be assured that the areas - the communities - occupied mainly by lower income earning people are the ones which will receive the most benefit from the Aged Persons Homes Act? I have grave doubts about this. I think that most of the homes are being provided in the middle class communities. These are the places where one finds the service club organisations, possibly, the more affluent people who go to church, subscribe to a church and thereby enable homes for the aged to be built or to attract the Commonwealth subsidy. In regard to municipal councils, it is not generally the hard pressed municipalities, where most of the ratepayers are in the low income group which are contributing towards the provision of the money that attracts the Commonwealth subsidy. One might again ask whether the people most in need are the ones who are being served by the Act.
Despite what was said by the honourable member for Paterson, I think it would not be a bad idea if we were to persist with this scheme that contributions by State Governments should be allowable. The Stale governments should be able to make a contribution that would attract a $2 for $1 subsidy from the Commonwealth. In my view, this would be a more realistic attack on the problem. Altogether, 1 do nol think that the Government has much on which to congratulate itself in relation to what it is doing for aged people. I know that this paper deals principally with the aged persons homes scheme, but there are other allied schemes that do have an impact upon the welfare of the aged. There is the governnent nursing homes scheme which was b-ought in, I think, in 1969. Under this scheme the Government made available :o the States $5m on a matching grant basis. Until November 1971, only S337.000 or less than 7 per cent of that money had been used simply because the Spates were not prepared to meet the matching conditions which were demanded by the Commonwealth. So. many people have been forced to go into private nursing homes and to pav considerable amounts of money from their own capital or from cont-ibutions by their immediate relatives in order to stay in those private nursing homes. On the other hand, money that should be made available by governments for building nursing homes is not forthcoming simply because the States are not prepared to cooperate with the Commonwealth in the scheme.
In New South Wales, up until November 1971, not lc of the $I.8m that was made available to it had been spent on government nursing homes in that State. Another example is the States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act. This scheme was designed to make an alternative provision for those aged people who could not contribute to the aged persons homes scheme. It was supposed to provide finance to build homes for pensioners or for aged people on low incomes. An average of S5m a year over 5 years was provided for a housing programme for age pensioners. At the end of 2 years the States had spent just under one-half of the SI Om that was available in those 2 years. Here again, there has been a breakdown of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. To dwell once again on my own State of New South Wales, $4.3m was available to that State but only $2.2m was spent, in other words, there was again a breakdown of co-operation. Then, just before the 1969 election, there was the States Grants (Home
Care) Act that bad a 3-pronged approach to the matter of looking after the welfare of aged people.
First of all. there were the home care services and, again this depended on matching grants from the States. This was designed to provide domiciliary care - housekeeping services and the like - to aged people in their own homes. Time will not permit me to go into this more deeply but suffice to say that in 1969-70, $500,000 was made available by the Government to be matched by the States, but of that $500,000, only $31,413 in fact was used. In the following year, $566,000 was made available and $317,000, in round figures, was used. The second prong of the States Grants (Home Care) Act provided for subsidies for senior citizen centres. This again depended upon co-operation with the States and local governments. However, most of the States have not co-operated and, as a result, nothing like the amount of money that was provided by the Commonwealth has been made use of, and comparatively little assistance has been provided towards the erection of senior citizen centres.
Likewise, there was provision for welfare officers in the senior citizen centres. Paramedical services, such as physiotherapy, chiropody and so on, were to be provided. This was a big boost before the 1969 election but very little in fact has come into reality.
I raise again the question of the main matter before us, namely, the aged persons homes scheme. I question seriously whether in fact the people most urgently in need of this assistance are benefiting by the scheme. I acknowledge that the scheme has many noble aspects to it. There are many happy people in the homes that have been provided by the scheme. However, I am still very much aware of the thousands of people who have missed out on the scheme and for whom it does not make any provision at all.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation?
– I preface my remarks by saying that there is on my desk a message indicating that the debate would be gagged. I regret that. Mr Deputy Speaker, during the course of the statement of the Minister for Social Services, who now lounges at the table, within the last hour or so, he made some rather vicious and vile references to certain members of the Opposition. This appears at page 9 of his statement. I wonder whether the Minister would have the courage to identify the honourable members-
-Order! I point out that the honourable member may explain only where he has been personally misrepresented. He may not debate the matter.
– I am not debating it. I want to state, if you will bear with me, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the Minister has been prepared to divulge privately the name of the honourable member to whom he referred.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 take a point of order. The arrangement made with the Leader of the House was that the honourable member for Sturt would be allowed to make a personal explanation. He is not speaking to claim that he has been misrepresented. He asked to make a personal statement and that was agreed. I think that is what he is doing now.
-Order! The Chair has no knowledge of any arrangements. I understand the honourable member claimed to have been misrepresented.
– He is making a personal statement.
-The honourable member for Sturt, I understand, has leave to explain matters of a personal nature.
– I regret that the debate has been gagged. The Minister, who is now lounging at the table and indulging in conversation with the Government Whip, is not prepared to repeat to the House what he said to me after he had delivered his speech. I have referred to a specific section on page 9. If the Minister’s courage-
– Mr Deputy Speaker. 1 did not want to name the honourable member but since he has named himself I am willing to say that the man in my mind when 1 made that reference on page 9 was the honourable member for Sturt.
– I thank the Minister, and I am glad that I have been able to prise him from his seat and at least force some degree of honesty from his lips. Incidentally, the Minister at the table conspired with a Government supporter to name me by naming the electorate of which 1 am the present representative. How damned lousy and low can one get, and I will apologise and withdraw that remark if I am required to do so. The Minister now has cleared the air. He looked at me so hard when he read the statement originally. 1 disassociate myself entirely from the remarks which appear at page 9 of the statement. As proof, I want to say that for the last 2 years I have had a document in my possession, as a result of inquiries directed towards the people who are the heads of the organisation that you mentioned in your statement to the House, who have been the subject of inquiry by the Liberal Party dominated Legislative Council in South Australia, and I have the document with me at this moment-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, might I, on a point of order, state that I agreed to the honourable member for Sturt making a personal explanation, as a private indication between me and the honourable member for Sturt, but I think that this is going way beyond the bounds of misrepresentation.
Under standing order 64 the honourable member has obtained leave from the Chair to’ explain matters of a personal nature. I have pointed out to the honourable member for Sturt that he may not debate the matter, but he may explain where he has been personally misrepresented on matters of a personal nature.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. That document completely and entirely refutes what the Minister said on page 9 of what I will refer to as his in famous document, in addition to that, to suggest that I had used the problems of pensioners to get to this House, when the problems of pensioners were caused by design almost of the office of Aged Cottage Homes Incorporated, is wrong. In fact, during my -election campaign I specifically kept away from this particular area, other than to introduce a delegation of these aged people to the then Deputy Premier of the State. I at no time issued any leaflets, but I cannot say the same for another person - and this is relevant to my statement - who has had letters sent in recent weeks - in fact months; I hold one aloft which reads or when making your will’. It is a form of a bequest. He is saying to people who are 70-odd years of age: ‘Give us your money when you die’. I have here also a report, which I am not going to deal with at the moment because I think, Mr Deputy Speaker, that in view of the fact that you have been tolerant I should not abuse your tolerance or take unfair advantage of it. But I most certainly will, upon the resumption of this House after the break next week, use every possible means available to me to acquaint the House with a document 4 inches - thick about which I have kept my mouth shut because I did not want to be accused of the things that you. as an unscrupulous Minister, accuse me of; and I say that some of the letters in this folder are from your own pen.
– The Minister is quite entitled to his own opinion, which undoubtedly he believes, and I would ask the honourable member for Sturt, through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to withdraw that remark.
– Will the honourable member withdraw that remark?
– I shall not withdraw a remark that is true, and there is proof of it on my desk. If you avail me of the further forms of this House to enable me to prove my case against the Minister I would appreciate it and indeed welcome it.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to several standing orders which I think bear on this matter. First of all standing order 75 states:
No Member may use offensive words against either House of the Parliament or any Member thereof, against any member of the Judiciary, or against any statute unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal.
Standing order 76 states:
All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
Standing order 77 states:
When any offensive or disorderly words are used, whether by a Member who is addressing the Chair or by a Member who is present, the Speaker shall intervene.
This is the significant standing order:
When the attention of the Speaker is drawn to words used, he shall determine whether or not they are offensive or disorderly.
Sir,I draw your attention to the remark made by the Minister when he said:’I know that one honourable member of the Opposition engineered his entrance to this place largely by exploiting this issue’ - that is, the issue of aged persons homes - ‘against the real interests of the elderly people concerned’. Surely that is an imputation of improper motive and, under the terms of the Standing Orders, should be the subject of a request from you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the Minister in this case to withdraw the improper and offensive words.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order–
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I might point out that these objections should have been taken at an earlier point of time. I was not in the Chair or even in the chamber at the time. Under the rules of the House the points should have been raised earlier. May I revert to the point concerning the honourable member for Sturt. Didhe use the word unscrupulous’ in relation to the Minister?
– Yes, he did; he said unscrupulous Minister’.
– Did he use the word ‘unscrupulous’? The honourable member for Sturt was asked to withdraw a particular phrase that he used. Did he use the word ‘unscrupulous’ in relation to the Minister?
– If you would give me a little latitude, Mr Deputy Speaker–
– If he did so, I must ask that it be withdrawn.
-I am not sure, Sir, but I am going to say this while I am on my feet, at the risk of being dealt with by the Chair: if the occupant of the Chair, who is yourself, is prepared to acquaint yourself with what appears on page 9 of the statement and relate that to what was said by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) and relate that in turn to what the Minister said to me when I walked behind his chair, that I was the person, then I think that you ought to be lenient towards me–
– I would ask the honourable member to withdraw it.
– You withdraw what you put in your speech; it is a lie, and you know it.
– Order! The honourable member for Sturt will remain silent.
– I want to speak to the point of order raised by my colleague, and it is this: He pointed out that certain imputations had been made against him by the Minister for Social Services who is sitting at the table. In my opinion, those remarks were unworthy of the Minister, unworthy of his portfolio, and unworthy of–
– I rise to order. It has nothing to do with the ruling on my point of order, which takes precedence, surely, over this one.
– No, it does not. This point of order was raised first.
– No, I am sorry, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is in error there. The point of order raised by the honourable member for Angas was in relation to the words ‘unscrupulous Minister’ which he alleged were used by the honourable member for Sturt of the Minister at the table.
– Of course he is unscrupulous if he does this.
– Order! The honourable member is out of order. I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to resume his seat. The fact of the matter is that priority in relation to the points of order should be given to the one raised by the honourable member for Angas in relation to the words ‘unscrupulous Minister’, which, if they were used by the honourable member for Sturt, I have asked him to withdraw. It is an unparliamentary term, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I do not recall having used the word, but if I have used it - and the Chair is not certain itself, because it used the word ‘alleged’ - I used it. But further to the point that I was making earlier, Mr Deputy Speaker, if I may say-
– Has he withdrawn the remark?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury) Order! I have asked the honourable member to withdraw the word.
– I withdrew it; I have said that I withdraw it.
– You did not.
– If the Minister at the table would keep quiet and at least show some form of honesty towards the procedures of this House then. Mr Deputy Speaker, perhaps you may hear me.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
-The honourable member has made his point.
– No. I think that I am in order now in taking a further point of order. The point that I had made was that I thought it was unworthy of the Minister to make in the way that he did. the statements which are contained in his document on page 9. I put it to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that what my colleague said, in effect, was quite correct: At no time did he have the opportunity to ask for the statement to be withdrawn. What he did do was to ask for leave to make a statement - and leave was granted - and I think that now he is quite correct in asking that the statement made by the Minister be withdrawn, and I insist that that be done.
-If there was any improper imputation, I must ask the Minister to withdraw it.
– Of course, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I had not named the honourable member for Sturt until he asked me to. In view of the fact that he asked me to, I did so name him, and if he finds it offensive, of course. I will withdraw it.
-It is withdrawn. Is the honourable member for Sturt raising a further point of order?
- Mr Deputy Speaker, am I correct in saying that he has withdrawn what he says in the first paragraph on page 9 of his statement?
– He has withdrawn the imputation as requested.
– I want to know from the Minister at the table, through you, Mr Deputy Speaker: Has he withdrawn the first paragraph on page 9 of his statement?
– I withdraw whatever you find offensive.
-The Minister has withdrawn; he has indicated a withdrawal.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster).
Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. The honourable member for Sturt said a few moments ago that while I was speaking during this debate I associated myself with the remarks of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) at page 9 of the manuscript copy of his statement. This is not correct. I have sent for the green copy of my speech. It is not ready. But Hansard will confirm what I said. What I did say was that the Minister had mentioned Sir Keith Wilson and Mr Ian Wilson, and the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) had also mentioned these 2 gentlemen. I said that I did not know Sir Keith Wilson but that I had been associated with Mr Ian Wilson in this House and I knew the contribution which he had made in this Parliament. I said that he was perhaps not so garrulous as the present honourable member for Sturt, that he had certainly made a fine contribution to this Parliament. I felt he would have a lot more to contribute when he is re-elected as the member for Sturt at the next election. I in no way associated myself with any remarks made by the Minister about the present member for Sturt.
Debate resumed from 7 March (vide page 655), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Beazley had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: “the House, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and nongovernment primary, secondary, and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities”. (Quorum formed)
– This debate concerns the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill 1972 and the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1972. Let me remind those honourable members who do not recall the position when this debate was adjourned on Tuesday night that the purpose of these cognate Bills is to validate the approximately $30m granted to State and independent schools which was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) before the Christmas recess. In the case of the state schools these are capital grants and in the case of the independent schools they are per capita payments for improving their financial situation. One might claim in this some small kudos for the Government Members Education and Science Committee - to mention the backbenchers for once - which made a special plea that these grants be made so that the situation of both the state and independent schools might be improved.
Lest we forget what was said in the course of the debate the other night as to what this is all about, let me remind honourable members of the situation. The States’ expenditure on education has increased from about $430m in 1962-63 to about $ 1,284m in 197 J -72, an increase of almost 200 per cent. At the same time, Commonwealth expenditure has increased from about $59m to $357m or $358m, an increase of some 500 per cent. That should set the scene for the sorts of things that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) and the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) were talking about the other night in suggesting that the Government was not quite aware of the needs of education and in trying to suggest further that it was responsible for certain divisive elements on the educational scene. I will say a little more on that anon.
If we take the matter that I have just mentioned a wee bit further we find a situation in which at the Premiers Conference in February this year about $30m was provided and disbursed amongst the States. As was pointed out by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) only yesterday, in answer to a question from me, in some cases the moneys have been distributed quite significantly towards the cost of education. For instance, in New South Wales $2ra of $10m or so has already been earmarked for education. In Victoria $2im of a little over $8m has gone in the same direction. In my State of Tasmania some $830,000 out of the $2.23m granted al the Premiers Conference, or 37 per cent, which is a slightly higher figure than that previously calculated in this debate, has gone in the direction of education. I think we should bear those things in mind when we are discussing the details of what has already been raised by honourable members opposite.
I should reiterate the point made yesterday by the Minister in his answer to the question. He said that it is notable that in South Australia, which has long been held up in the House as a fine example a very small quantity of the money distributed at the Premiers Conference has been allocated for education. (Quorum formed). In the case of Western Australia the sum total at the moment is nil. That makes for us, at the present time at least, a very nice distinction between the Australian Labor Party governments and the Liberal Party governments in the various States in the amount of those moneys which they are distributing to education.
In the course of this debate an amendment was moved by the honourable member for Fremantle to the effect that, while not disagreeing with the second reading of this Bill, the Opposition is of the opinion that there should be established an Australian Schools Commission for the specific purpose of examining and determining the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools and recommending grants that the Commonwealth should make to the States. The consequence of that amendment is that the Opposition is in the position of not merely wishing to see this money disbursed to the States for both types of schools but wishing also to change the pitch to the extent that it wants another sort of body - other than the Federal and State educational systems - to distribute these funds. Why does the Opposition want this to happen? On the face of it it seems to be a reasonable proposition. We have institutions or bodies which may be said to be parallel - notably the Australian Universities Commission. The point has been made by the Minister and others that this is not exactly a good parallel because there we are dealing with a handful or a couple of handfuls of autonomous universities whereas in the case of an Australian schools commission we would have to look after the needs of something like 10,000 schools, and therefore the bureaucracy problems and the problems of dealing with such a large number of not exactly autonomous institutions would be very much greater than those of the AUC.
One might ask the further question: What is the cause for moving from governments of one sort or another as the distributional agencies and the decision making agencies as far as the field of education is concerned? After all, they are elected to take responsible decisions about various things, and not the least of those is education. I think we have to look a little further than that, while hesitating a little about the possibilities of an Australian schools commission, to know just what in fact we are trying to achieve and why an Australian schools commission is wanted. It has been suggested that the South Australian situation is an extremely good one in that it recognises a needs basis for the distribution of funds. In fact for a model this would seem to have something less than perfection because in South Australia the schools are categorised into 4 categories which receive grants from $10 to $24 per pupil depending on designation. This is suggested to mean that we have a better situation there than we have anywhere else. I can quote some very reputable authorities to suggest that that is so. In particular the Leader of the Opposition on 1st August 1971 said:
There has lately been some criticism of the needs’ concept of the A.L.P’s educational policy of Commonwealth assistance for schools.
He went on to say:
South Australia has provided on the state level a model of how the ‘needs’ policy could work on the federal level. In March this year a committee reported to the Minister for Education on the distribution of $250,000 in additional aid for primary schools.
He was so enamoured of the proposition in South Australia that on 23rd February this year he said in a personal explanation: . . that in South Australia the needier schools get more per pupil from the State Government than any school gets per pupil from any other State government.
If we look at the situation under the needs categorisation in South Australia we find that the biggest per capita grant received by an independent primary school is $34 a year in South Australia; the New South Wales State Government provides per capita grants to independent primary schools of $50 a year; Victoria provides $40; Queensland $45; Western Australia $30; and Tasmania $24. At least 3 States provide bigger per capita grants to independent primary schools than the maximum grant available in South Australia under the much praised needs system, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition. I think we need to think twice about that particular proposition.
The Australian Labor Party’s views on an Australian schools commission have, up to this point of what I have had to say, appeared to be more or less one, but that is not the case because 3 views have been expressed on this matter. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Murphy, on 1st December last year in a debate on the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill said:
The policy of the Labor Party - sets out thai there should be an Australian schools commission to examine the needs of students in Government and non-government schools . . .
The key phrase in what he had to say after those words is: ‘That means government schools first’. This was such a telling phrase that it has already been taken up by the Minister for Education and Science but 1 make no apology for underlining it again. lt has of course very considerable potential for what it is the Labor Party intends to do if it ever gets a chance to do it. That is the first of the voices in chronological order in regard to Labor’s view on an Australian schools commission. On the next day, 2nd December, in a personal explanation, which is more or less the usual thing, the Leader of the Opposition said:
The Minister purported to give the interpretation that the schools commission, which the Labor Party has undertaken to establish, would give assistance to government schools before it gave any to non-government schools. It is plain from the reading of the document that the form of assistance will be on the basis of the investigations made by this expert body and reported to the Parliament and to the public, lt may be that there are some nongovernment schools which fall further short of acceptable standards and have larger class sizes than government schools -
It is quite clear from what he had to say there that he refuted what his counterpart in the Senate said about an Australian schools commission. A week later on 9th December, the last day that the House sat last year, we find the honourable member tor Fremantle, the Opposition’s spokesman on education matters, saying this:
However, I want to say something about this system of making per capita grants to private schools. Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to devise in each Slate a Catholic education authority and an education authority for the. other independent schools, to make a grant to them which may be calculated on a per capita basis. . . .
In other words the honourable member is proposing that there be at least 2 schools commissions in each State, that is to say, a dozen or so around the country. In fact that might be the better way of doing it. But the point I am making here is that that is the third view of what an Australian schools commission might do or what form it might take, as expressed by leading members of the Opposition in the space of 8 days. If we think of that we might think a little further and wonder just what it is the Opposition intends to do on the educational front, if, as I said earlier, it ever gets the chance to do anything. One suspects, though one cannot prove, that the sum result of these divisive propositions, if one can sum divisive propositions, is that the ALP has very little intention of making any grants to independent schools except the very lowest down the line in terms of their financial capacity and their ability. Clearly if one were able to operate a system thoroughly on a needs basis one would manage to phase out a great deal of the self-help independent schools, possibly to the advantage of some of the less welloff State schools but certainly not to the advantage of those independent schools. Then ultimately of course if the independent schools passed over were to throw themselves onto the public purse or had to fold otherwise they would come back in an indirect sense to a situation whereby nobody was really being helped.
What we are really talking about is the whole question of State aid although many more tilings than that are implicit in these grants to government schools and nongovernment schools. But Opposition speakers so far have focused their attention on asserting that the Government is providing a divisive element in education despite the fact that all parties represented in this Parliament have very much taken on board the proposition that State aid - that is to say aid to independent schools - is a proper proposition and is to be carried out indefinitely in the Australian educational scene. What we have in this matter of State aid is really quite simple. There are all sorts of things being said about it but I do not intend to explore the philosophy of this matter at great length. We have touched on it at other times.
Let us put it at its simplest and if you like its least philosophical. It means this: The subsidy to independent schools is the cheapest way of educating the pupils who attend them. The diversion of funds which organisations like the Council for the Defence of Government Schools require from those schools for whatever reasons, and the reasons vary, would eliminate private investment in education through the ultimate closure of those schools and thereby increase the tax burden on those who, according to the anti-aid protagonists, can least afford to have such an increase in the tax burden. To me that is a simple statement of the proposition that is in the minds of at least some members of the Opposition. Tt seems to me that aid to independent schools is something which has to be supported for philosophic or practical reasons, or both, and that if we deny that proposition, as some honourable members opposite are attempting to do, then we will find ourselves on very difficult financial grounds educationally, if nothing else.
I might take this matter a little further because if one. examines the dissent and division in the ALP in its education policy one might ask where do they stand on one particular matter? We have only recently had handed down a report by the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. The report relates to the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education. At the back of that fairly voluminous report from the Committee under the capable chairmanship of Senator Davidson there is a dissenting report from 2 Labor senators, Senator James McClelland and Senator Milliner. Amongst what they had to say in the several pages of dissent is this:
No persuasive reasons were advanced to the Committee as to why the maintenance of the Catholic school system should demand separate training of its teachers. The provision of continuing religions indoctrination which is undoubtedly prized by Catholics and which is their main justification for the perpetuation of their separate school system, is a matter to be entrusted to their own religious orders, and should not, in fact, probably cannot under the Constitution, be a matter with which the Commonwealth Government can concern itself.
They went on to say at the conclusion of their dissenting report:
The rationale of ‘State Aid’ to Catholic schools is that they are a traditional part of our total educational system to which parents who wish their children to obtain a distinctively Catholic education are entitled to send them, that their continued existence relieves the burden of government schools, and that such aid does not amount to subsidising a religion but to furthering the educational aspects of schools where religion is also incidentally inculcated.
The final paragraph reads:
The plea to extend ‘State Aid’ to Catholic teacher training institutions goes beyond this justification. The Commonwealth is asked, not merely to help to promote the quality and quantity of teachers available to Catholic and nonCatholic schools alike. This in itself is a large order. But it is also asked to provide funds for the specifically Catholic training of teachers. This is unjustifiable, and probably unconstitutional as well.
That is where the ALP appears to stand in relation to the training of Catholic teachers. Some people might care to bear that in mind when we again try to assess what the ALP is trying to do in the educational field.
May I finally make a reference to the speeches that were made the other night by the honourable members for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) and Bendigo (Mr Kennedy). In this particular sense they said, I have no doubt with the best will in the world, a number of things which bear upon and which illustrate what I think we can best call in the parlance of the day the environmental hang-up of the ALP. By that I mean this: They were talking at length - in particular the honourable member for Bendigo - about the divisive impetus this Government is introducing to education. They were talking greatly about reducing inequalities. The sort of inequalities they wanted to reduce and which I am sure every member of this House would want to reduce were substantially those which were environmentally based and which were in fact matters which they wanted to overcome by a needs proposition in its general sense.
They wanted to take away, whether in terms of scholarships, per capita grants or what have you, from those who had intellectual capacity and some means and give to those who had whatever intellectual capacity and no means. That is in some senses persuasive if one thumps the question of inequalities and equalities of opportunities, but it is not as persuasive as it should be, because if anybody should stand for anything in this country it is that ability should count. Whether we underpin it or do not underpin it by financial aid it is, I believe, an insidious proposition that we should give to need rather than to ability.
So this almost dislike of intelligence, this undue wish to pay one way or another through Government funds for people who have not quite as much as somebody else to get through is attractive if they are deprived and if they are able. But it is not made clear at almost any point of time by honourable members opposite whether the people they wish to subsidise are able. In fact one gets the impression - unfortunately we have lost the sense of what they were saying the other night - that the ALP would legislate if it could for everybody to run at the same pace. That to me is not a part of the human race and however much we try to help people who are deserving cases - 1 underline that; I am all for it - we cannot subscribe to the proposition that ability takes second place to need. We can attempt to remove deprivation.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The constituents of the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) will make their own judgment about the content of his contribution this afternoon. They have fresh in their minds his gratuitous insult to them only a couple of days ago when, in an action which is probably unprecedented in the history of this Parliament, he referred to his own constituents as misguided people simply because he did not agree with the sentiments of a petition he was asked to present to this House. I think that most people who are attentive to this debate, which is carrying on from last Tuesday night, by now will be able to recognise what a sordid and shabby political stunt it has developed into as far as the Government is concerned.
The debate was adjourned on Tuesday night and carried forward to today. I wonder why. It was simply because the debate was on the air on Tuesday night but would not have been on the air yesterday. But it has been resurrected to take place while we are on the air today. Normally so few members on the Government side speak on education Bills in this Parliament that Australian Labor Party speakers often have to speak in succession. Yet we find that in this debate there is a string of Government speakers. I wonder why. I. think the spirit of the remarks that have just been made by the honourable member for Denison and the remarks made the other night by the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) gives a clear indication of what the Government is up to. It is trying to resurrect the old sectarian bitternesses in this Parliament on the matter of State aid for education. 1 will have a bit more to say about that in a moment.
We are supposed to be debating 2 Bills. This is supposed to be a cognate debate. The second Bill we are discussing, in case nobody remembers it by now, deals with the provision of Commonwealth capital grants to the States for state schools, the schools that look after 75 per cent of the children in our community. But there has hardly been a reference by Government members to that Bill in this debate. The Government has been so preoccupied with the dirty little business of stirring up the old sectarian scum simply because there happens to be an election coming up this year. This has not been an education debate; this has been just a dirty little political scavenging hunt in the hope that something can be brought up and quoted later on in the election campaign. 1 will dca) first of all - 1 hope 1 will deal with it proportionately - with the Stales Grants (Independent Schools) Act 1969. Let me be perfectly clear. I support aid for children in private schools or in nongovernment schools.
– You are the only member of She Opposition in the House.
– That is not true at all. One only has to look at the Australian Labor Party’s policy and platform to see clearly registered there the overwhelming wish of the Labor Party to provide aid to non-state schools and to provide it on the basis of research into their needs and on the basis of need. More about that, too, a little later on.
This Bill increases the primary per capita subsidy from S35 to $50 per annum and the secondary per capita subsidy from $50 to S68 per annum. The first question I ask is: How were these figures arrived at? Why $68 per annum? What is the research that gives a cue to why this figure was chosen? Nothing is available to the House and 1 understand that nothing is available to the Government. This is just another one of the ad hoc, piecemeal arrangements that characterise the Government’s socalled education policy. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) felt self-conscious about it because be said in part during his second reading speech:
The Government recognises the need for further attention to be given to measures which the Commonwealth and the States might take to assist the independent schools on a longer term basis.
This is characteristic of all that the Commonwealth has done not only in the field of private education but also in the field of State education. It is characteristic of the
Government’s piecemeal, ad hoc arrangements. As I asked, why this particular amount? One of the things I am moved to look at is just how much is being provided in these 2 Bills for the respective school systems, the public school system on the one hand and the non-state school system on the other. The total cost in 1972 of the new rates of aid to non-state schools is $34.3m. This means that in this year the Commonwealth will provide S9.7m extra by way of this increase in the per capita grant. As against that - the Minister can correct me if my interpretation is incorrect - the Commonwealth is providing in one financial year $13. 33m for the capital needs of state schools. I believe that this is so. My reading of both the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in December and the speech made by the Minister for Education and Science when presenting this Bill indicates that they were the proportions - $9.7m for non-state school students as against $13. 33m for State schools in a financial year.
What are the respective needs? One way of looking at the question is to look at the number of students who will be catered for. In 1970 - that is the fewest year for which statistics are available to me - there were in Government schools 2,160,177 students, and in non-government schools there were 608,056 students. If my previous interpretation is correct, and I firmly believe it to be so, on a rough estimate - a pretty close estimate, actually - the per capita grant to students in government schools provided by the Bill is about $6 per annum. On the other hand the estimate for the per capita grant to private schools runs out at between $15 and $16 per annum. In other words, about 2* times as much per head is to be provided for private schools as is provided for government schools in these Bills.
The Minister asked why it is that state schools have a lower retention power than do the non-state schools. It is a simple matter. If we give to those who already have most and if we give to those who are already best furnished, what can we expect? Is it any wonder that of those children who go to State schools and who proceed to high school only 28 per cent continue on to the higher school certificate? On the other hand, in non-state schools 75 ner cent go on to the higher school certificate.
– The honourable member’s figures concerning what the Government is providing for schools in respect of children are quite wrong. The honourable member asked a question about this and I will deal with it later.
– It will still come out as a far greater contribution to students per capita in none-state schools than in State schools as provided in these 2 Bills.
– What the Government has provided in assistance to government schools infinitely more than-
– The Minister can speak afterwards. I have scarcely enough time in which to say what I want to say without listening to him now. The Minister asked: Why is it that State schools have such a low retention rate compared with non-government schools? This is not a matter only of comparing government schools with non-government schools. It involves also comparing the great wealthy private schools with the many not very wealthy parochial schools in the Catholic school system. I can never understand, quite frankly, why my Catholic friends would argue that the children in the best furnished great public schools should command exactly the same per capita grant as do children in parochial schools in the inner suburban areas of our great metropolitan areas where there are many migrant children. Why should the same be spent on them as that which is spent on the children in the great and wealthy private schools? I cannot understand this.
The Bill that we are discussing continues the trend that has been established in the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Act for the triennium 1971-72 to 1974-75. Last year this legislation was debated and it provided that the Commonwealth Government would spend on children in government schools $36.83 per head whereas on students in non-government schools almost twice as much would be spent - $73.82. Where is the equity in this? How does this measure up with the Minister’s protestations about wanting to establish equality of educational opportunity in our community? Does the Minister really believe that the children who are going to the greater public schools need as much spent on them as do the children in the ordinary parochial schools or, in fact, those in the state school systems which have insufficient teachers, where children are being taught in buildings that were constructed in the 1890s, where many schools are without electricity or heating systems, where inadequate teaching aids are available and where teachers want to be transferred from schools as quickly as possible?
Under the legislation we are discussing a wealthy private school which has 600 students receiving secondary education will get $40,800. If one of these wealthy private schools - there are a few of them as was evident from recent articles in the daily Press - has 800 secondary students it will receive $54,400. Where such a school has 1,000 students - there are a number of these - it will get $68,000 by way of assistance from the Commonwealth Government. Additionally, of course, these schools get science laboratories and library facilities. Above all, the parents who send children to these wealthy schools get the most by way of taxation concessions. Children who attend these great private schools gain the great bulk of Commonwealth scholarships both at secondary level and tertiary level. Is it not a shocking system that provides for these kinds of things - that gives to those who have the most and denies to those who most need it? This is the system that the Government is propagating. I am not identifying this as a matter between government and nongovernment schools because it operates within the non-government school sector as I have already indicated. The ordinary person who sends his child to a local Catholic school gets paltry little by way of taxation concessions. The person who has sufficient money to be able to send his children to one of the greater public schools, or socalled public schools which are private in many cases, enjoys immeasurably greater taxation concessions. His benefits are 2i to 3 times as great as those received by the ordinary person.
What I have said is applicable also to primary schools. However, 1 shall not go through the details. One can understand - although I do not always countenance the kind of propaganda used - the demand that is growing in our community for some public accountability for these amounts of public money that are made available to these approved educational institutions. A short while ago I mentioned how much would go to those schools. Just imagine one school getting $68,000 to use at its own discretion without any accountability. I wonder what would happen to a headmaster of a government school who spent more than the prescribed amount of $200 that he is permitted to spend at his own discretion. He has to account in detail for all his expenditure. It is understandable why people should question expenditures in the greater public schools in view of what the Government is doing.
What is wanted is a policy of positive discrimination - discrimination in favour of those who have little. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), who led for the Opposition in this debate, indicated that there is a needs basis formula that has been worked out not only in South Australia, which is just starting ils scheme, but also in Great Britain. Schemes like this do operate. They take account of the socio-economic status of an area. A needs basis takes account of the pupilteacher ratio that operates in a school. Schemes take account of the kind of buildings in which the teaching takes place and of the various ancillary staff available to it by way of clerks, counsellors, health care people and so forth. Surely to God we can recognise that there are some schools that are poorly off compared wilh others which are well furnished. But the Government introduces a Bill that gives equal amounts to those schools which have everything and those which have little and are operating under pretty paltry conditions. In respect of discriminating in favour of those people who have a need, I believe, from an Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcast this morning, that a report has been furnished to the Minister on this very subject. It recommends a programme of positive discrimination in favour of schools that have a high migrant intake. This is another factor in the whole business. As I have said, there should be a scheme that discriminates positively in favour of those who have little and those who need most by way of assistance in their educational programmes. 1 turn now to a consideration of government schools, which cater for 75 per cent of all students. No Government supporter seemed prepared to discuss this aspect. This Bill provides, as I understand it, $20m to the end of next financial year. If that is so we are spending, as I have suggested already, at the rate, of $13.33m a year. This money is being provided not to the end of this financial year but next financial year. Why this amount of S20m? Why was that figure chosen? What research indicated that only $20m was needed for all of the States for their additional capital needs? Was this figure based on research? Of course it was not. The State Ministers for Education furnished this Parliament with a nationwide survey of educational needs, but what did the Government do about it? It disregarded it and came out with some patter that it had made more money available in the last CommonwealthState financial agreement to take account of the needs of the States. But will it do so? Let us consider what has been requested. The nationwide survey of educational needs indicted that over the 5-year period to 1975 an amount of $72 Im would be needed for the capital needs of government schools. Further money would be required for non-State schools. I emphasise that this was the requirement for capital needs, not recurrent needs. An amount of $ 1,443m would be required for recurrent and capital needs. Admittedly the States are in a better financial position to help meet their capital needs, but to nothing like the extent the Government pretends.
The Research Service of the Parliamentary Library has estimated that there would need to be a great growth rate in State government expenditures in capital funds of 28 per cent per annum in order to meet the kind of need that is evidenced by the nationwide survey. Now the nationwide survey is out of date. Already it is being examined in terms of the increased expenditure brought about by inflationary trends. Increased amounts will be needed. Can anyone honestly say that $20m spread among the States will make any worthwhile contribution to the capital needs of the various schools? One person has estimated that it will provide about 4 new high schools in each of the States. Imagine, for the whole of New South Wales it will provide just 4 high schools. There are literally hundreds of high schools that should be pushed over so that new ones can be built in the modern style to cater for new techniques in education.
We do not want to get caught up in this dog fight of state schools against non-state schools. In my view the pupils are all Australian citizens and the schools deserve help. The Opposition would not think of making equal amounts of money available within the State system to each school. Of course it would not. It would recognise that there are some schools which are much more needy than others and it would spend more money on them. The same can be said in regard to the private school sector. There are many private schools unfortunately which are in dire need and their needs are becoming greater for reasons which the Minister himself acknowledged. These schools are becoming reliant on lay teachers to whom they pay award rates and for whom soon they will have to provide long service leave and a superannuation scheme. I sympathise with them in their dilemma but I cannot for the life of me understand why hard pressed schools within the private sector get only the same amount that is given to the wealthy schools in the community. Of course, finally we have to weigh up this whole business of priorities and the kind of grants provided in these Bills, including the grants to the very wealthy schools, against what the Commonwealth is not doing, for instance, in the field of preschool education. There are so many mothers going off to work and having to pay $12 to $14 a week to leave their youngsters in a private kindergarten or even in a kindergarten subsidised by local government. What are we doing about education for the mentally and physically handicapped? Is it not a commentary on our social priorities that these people should still be going out and running raffles to raise money for schools in which to educate their afflicted children? Can we afford to continue in this way? The Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare tabled a report on 5th May 1971 - nearly 12 months ago - in which it indicated the needs of the schools catering for the handicapped. What has been done about it? There has been no rush by this Government to do anything in that field. The matter has been referred to an interdepartmental committee to be critically examined and it has been critically examined for over 12 months. What are we doing in the field of compensatory education to help the schools in most need? I cannot elaborate any further now.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I very strongly support the Government’s policy of a dual education system. I want to emphasise that too often this policy is misrepresented by the Opposition as being a policy for independent schools alone. This is the type of interpretation that has been placed constantly on the policy whereas in fact it is very strongly behind the effective promotion of a dual education system. Despite what my predecessor in this debate, the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds), has said, there is a great contribution being made and it will continue to be made to the State schools by this Government. I want to take up a couple of the points that he raised. First of all he called this debate a shabby political stunt because it was being broadcast. What has the Australian Labor Party to be afraid of in this debate being on the air? Does it not want it on the air? Does it not want the people to hear what it has to say about the tremendously important subject of education? I am sorry that the honourable member for Barton did not have a better audience while he made his speech. He did not have anyone here when he started his speech and not many came in after, not even the shadow Minister for Education.
I now want to refer to one or two statements which were made by the honourable member for Barton when referring to what has been done in the field of education. He said that assistance was 21 times greater to private schools than to government schools. This may be; I have not checked his figures. But we should not look at this in isolation. We should look also at what the Commonwealth Government is doing for government schools. The Commonwealth Government is providing about half the funds in an area which was almost solely a Stale responsibility not so very long ago. Even back in 1965-66 the Commonwealth contributed in recurrent expenditure $358m while in 1971-72 it contributed $855m. This indicates that the Commonwealth is accepting an increasing share of the responsibility, as all agree it should Or perhaps we would like to see the States accepting more responsibility too in the same way. But the Commonwealth is conscious and desirous of providing a continually increasing benefit for our government schools. The honourable member for Barton said - I am quoting from memory - that he could not understand why his Catholic friends agreed to the same per capita grant being given to all schools. The National Council for Independent Schools, on which the Catholic schools are represented, recently issued a strongly worded statement explaining its view. It is supported by the Federal Catholic Schools Committee, the Australian Parents Council and the New South Wales Catholic Schools Committee. The majority of them as well as independent schools have selected this approach after a great deal of consideration of the likely effect of an alternative approach. Serious consideration has been given to this matter by those authorities.
The amount of assistance that is given to secondary schools by the various States varies quite a bit and I am very happy to say that my own State of Queensland is at the top with $145 for each pupil, and is second only to New South Wales in the provision for primary students of $95 for each pupil. When one looks at the cost to the Government of providing education for primary and secondary school students - the cost is approximately $300 for primary school students and up to $600 for secondary school students - and at what the schools are saving by the Government running the schools, surely it is scarcely reasonable to say that the schools should not get some assistance. The Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) the other night in the debate said that the economics of the Labor Party’s policy were atrocious - if I remember rightly that was the word he used - and so it is. The Opposition wants to take benefits away from these schools rather than encourage them. Far from it being only my opinion, the National Council of Independent Schools has also agreed that the Commonwealth’s approach is the most satisfactory. The poorer schools would be in the majority and would have considered this angle. Nevertheless they feel that it is a fair and reasonable approach and the Government agrees with them. That is why it is that the Catholic schools have accepted this particular approach. They regard it as fair enough.
These are the schools probably in most need and I concede that there are some in greater need than others. Maybe the Government will consider giving greater assistance to independent schools as time goes on to enable them to continue to provide the magnificent services they have given to education over the years and to continue to save the taxpayer in this country very considerable amounts of money. The Government has not neglected the government schools and even in this cognate debate of the 2 Bills this has been recognised. It was remarked on by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). We on this side of the House will constantly keep in mind the need for the promotion of the welfare and the progress and development of both government and independent schools. We stand very definitely for the dual system of education and if there is one section of education that is battling harder than another, despite what the honourable member for Barton said, it is that section comprising a number of independent schools, some of which have been forced to close and others threatened with closure.
– You sound as though you have election jitters.
– I did not deny that.
– I did not say that the honourable member for Barton did deny it. and in reply to the honourable member for Hindmarsh and his comment that I have election jitters, I would like to refer to something he said now that he has come into the House, and I welcome him into it. My colleague the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon), and another honourable member, said that the Labor Party speaks on education with three tongues. I am glad that the honourable member for Hindmarsh is now in the chamber because I can remind him that on education the Labor Party has 3 policies. Senator Murphy is advocating that money be given first to government schools; Mr Whitlam is denying that; and Mr Beazley is making a substitute suggestion involving a dozen authorities.
I would like to add a fourth policy, that of the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
I saw him on a television programme advocating that no aid at all be given to independent schools. You know, Sir, as I know, that the honourable member for Hindmarsh has a tremendous capacity for persuasion. We could ask Tom Dougherty to see whether that is right. I pay a tribute to the honourable member for bis persuasive ability, but as he is sitting on the front bench of the Opposition one is entitled to wonder where the policy on education of the Labor Party will finish; whether there would be aid for independent schools if Labor got into office, having regard to the influence of which we know the honourable member for Hindmarsh is capable. I welcome the honourable member to this debate. I am glad that he came in to remind me of that situation.
– Who is Mr Dougherty?
– I will tell you about him later. I wish to return to the matter of independent schools. A survey has been made which foreshadows a big rise in school fees and T think it is necessary to have the appropriate figures set out if we are to get the position into perspective, ff anybody listening to me believes that I am concentrating only on the independent schools, I point out that I want continually to stress the fact that we want to keep both sections of our education system. I wish to talk about independent schools more than about State schools for one reason: I want to see them retained. I believe that the Government will ensure that the State school system is retained. A greater percentage of pupils are now attending State schools than ever before and unless we continue to give increasing aid to independent schools we will find that attendance at them, to the great disadvantage of our education system and of the taxpayers, will continue to decrease.
There are many aspects of the financial crisis facing independent schools. The Director of Catholic Education in South Australia has very effectively drawn attention to the situation. He asked that extra money be made available. He adopted a very reasonable approach. He said that the immediate urgent need for 1972 is an extra $50 per capita at primary level for recurrent expenditure. That is not overstating the case. Honourable members will remember that the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart had to close schools there. I do not think such action would be taken for any other reason than that it was financially impossible to carry them on any longer. The Director of Catholic Education in South Australia also said that the immediate urgent need for 1972 is an extra $78 per capita at secondary level for recurrent expenditure. I ask the members of the Opposition: Do you or do you not want independent secondary schools to remain in operation? We do not mind if the Opposition argues for a greater allocation of funds for government schools. We are all concerned about that, but we must consider first things first. We want to maintain the dual system of education.
I could quote examples of people who are not necessarily very partial to independent schools as such who have constantly claimed that the additional funds provided to the independent school system have been of great advantage to education generally in this country. Additional funds have been provided for education which would not have been available but for our dual system of education. There is a group of teachers in independent schools who might not be available for education purposes but for the existence of those independent schools in which they teach.
– Probably sweated labour.
– That is their business, I presume. If there is a need to have a look at that situation, let us have a look at it in due course. If it has been going on since the honourable member has been in this Parliament he has been a bit slow in picking it up. The point is that additional funds are made available for education which would not be provided but for the independent schools system.
– It is a service to the community that the Labor Party does not seem to value at all.
– That is so. I do not have a lot of time at my disposal but I do want to mention a matter which so far has not been raised in the course of this debate. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who had the great privilege of visiting my electorate recently to gain some education for himself, will comment on this aspect. I am referring to the Isolated Childrens’ Parents Association. I know that the matter was raised with him in my electorate and I am glad that that opportunity was taken. I hope that he will comment on what the Opposition would do in that direction. I have here a copy of the objectives of the Association and I would be very happy to make it available to any interested honourable members. Objective No. 4 of the Association states that its Federal Council will press for finance for the establishment of government hostels and boarding schools in remote areas with adequate school facilities, where applicable. There is a need for continuing expenditure to provide accommodation for children in outlying areas. Independent schools provide much of that accommodation.
I pay tribute to those authorities that provide hostels. I have in mind the Paroo Shire Council at Cunnamulla and also the Country Women’s Association which conducts hostels in different areas. I might mention that the Paroo Shire Council loses money in providing school accommodation. I recommend to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) that if he is looking for an underprivileged section of the community for which educational opportunities should be provided, he should consider isolated children. I have much pleasure in drawing attention to their needs.
I would like to touch again on some of the attitudes taken by independent schools organisations. Recently I visited an independent school - not a Catholic school - which is experiencing difficulties because it does not have the number of students that it can accommodate. This situation has arisen because of the serious financial problems confronting rural areas. People there are not able to send their children in to be educated. That is why we need to relieve independent schools of their burden so that at least they can hold their fees at their present level. Many parents who belong to the Isolated Children’s Parents Association are no longer able to send their children into these independent schools. The objects of the Australian Parents’ Council are as follows:
To safeguard the rights and promote the interests of parents and children in the field of education in Australia, and in particular the rights and interests of parents availing or wishing to avail themselves of the services of non-government schools for their children.
The constituent bodies affiliated with the Council are the Parents and Friends
Federation of Western Australia, approximately 120 schools affiliated; the Parents and Friends Federation of South Australia, approximately 120 schools affiliated; the Victorian Federation of Catholic Mothers’ Clubs, 190 schools affiliated; the Parents and Friends Federation of Victoria, approximately 125 schools affiliated: the Federation of Parents and Friends of the Catholic Schools of Tasmania, 48 schools affiliated: and the Association for Educational Freedom which is well known from the Goulburn schools closure days, operating mainly in the country areas of New South Wales but now mainly a research body. The Council has liaison with the Parents and Friends Federation of Queensland, with which 190 schools are affiliated. The whole posit on has boiled down to whether we need to promote the progress and development of a dual system of education. The Government is completely convinced of the value and the necessity to do so. ! have grave doubts - and 1 believe that the people of Australia also have grave doubts - about the sincerity of purpose behind the protestations of members of the Opposition when they say that they want to give assistance to the independent schools. 1 suggest that they have been forced into this position because they realise that the Australian public is two to one in favour of assisting oar independent schools.
Although the honourable member for Barton claims that the Government has put on this debate as a political exercise, 1 believe that the policy of the Australian Labor Party in regard to a dual system of education has become simply a political feature of it. Having looked at statements made by the Labor Party over many years, I would have grave doubts, if it were not for the fact that a vote was attached to it. whether a majority of honourable members opposite would support independent schools at all. But that is a personal opinion and honourable members opposite can refute it if they like. I believe this to be the case from statements that have been made, and I mention in particular statements made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). 1 would be very pleased to hear the honourable member explain his stand.
The position is that we have a dual system of education. The Government promoted this system and it needs promotion. Educa tion is one of the greatest needs of this country. 1 heard one honourable member, 1 think from the Opposition side, say that he did not have the benefit of education, lt Ls becoming more and more apparent that we require higher standards of education. There is no doubt at all that not only in education but in practically every other field the incentive of competition is a valuable and integral part of the progress and development of many other aspects of community life, lt is certainly of value in the field of education. 1 support both Bills that are before the House. One Bill deals with assistance for government schools and the other provides badly needed assistance to our independent schools so as to enable them to continue doing valuable work for the Australian community at great saving to the community as they have done over many years.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is always a pleasure to follow the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) because he is one of the more thoughtful members of the Australian Country Party. Of course, that is why he is still on the back bench. But even that is small praise when one listened to his contribution to this debate on education - honourable members may not have gathered from what he said that this was what the debate was about.
The honourable member talked about the dual system of education. Just what does he mean by that? Does he mean that there is such a fundamental difference between the end product that he and I are different. Somewhere along the line he did go wrong - he ended up in the Country Party. But in general principles, in philosophy, in language :ind in the basic attitudes which honourable members opposite adopt towards society is there any significant difference between the products of the system; is there any significant difference between the culture that is promulgated through them?
It is utter rubbish to talk in Australia about a dual system of education. One may say that there is a non-system divided into 8, 9 or 10 state or government administrative bodies and goodness knows how many hundreds of non-state administrative bodies. The other question the honourable member asked was: Would we support the independent schools? I personally would support independent schools, if there were any. But none of them is independent any more. I propose to develop that statement directly. I suppose it is reasonable to say that because the honourable member comes from the Country Party he has stressed the money side of education. I had an idea that his own background in education and his attitude to non-state education were that it would probably produce spiritual values that were missing in us pagans who were turned out by the State school system.
– I did not say that.
– I know that you did not. But Sir Robert Menzies once referred to the pagans who came from other schools.
– Can you prove that?
– I will prove it all right. I have been following debates of this kind for the last 20 years. I have listened with great interest to people from the other side of the House. I heard the then Prime Minister - the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports - when asked whether he would give assistance to non-state schools, say in calm confident but precise and succinct manner tones: ‘I have not the constitutional power’. Here now it is holy writ. Honourable members opposite never think any more of the state schools. The honourable member for Maranoa thinks that it is a good thing to sponsor non-state education principally, as far as 1 can tell, because it saves taxpayers’ money. I do not believe that is one of the principles on which an education system ought to be based.
One of the suggestions that I intend to make is that members of this House come with me to visit the schools in the electorate of Wills. As I have pointed out to honourable members before, that electorate is made up of the suburbs of Brunswick and Coburg. There are some 28 State educational institutions in my electorate. This number is made up by a couple of senior technical schools, 2 or 3 normal technical schools, 3 or 4 high schools and 18 or 19 primary schools. There are also, I think, 10 Catholic schools. This is a fairly large educational system. Some of those schools are a disgrace to a civilised society and the environment in which they have to operate. I suggest to all of those honourable members opposite who have been shedding tears here this afternoon in regard to public, non-public, private or non-independent schools which will receive a significant amount of money, that they ought to visit my electorate - and I shall offer them the opportunity by some organised effort to do so - in the near future. If that does not make them suddenly realise that we are setting out upon a dangerous and difficult path in education, nothing will.
We are discussing 2 Bills. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) does his best. Indeed, I approve of some of the things he does, although he might make errors in technique. However, I think the concept of the constitution of a Commonwealth teaching service, which needs a bit of polishing up, is a good one. The Minister has produced a Bill for independent schools which apparently has nothing to do with State schools because it was the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) who introduced legislation to cover this part of the system. We should remember that we are not discussing today just the per capita grants to non-State schools. These grants are to be raised to $68 per head for pupils attending secondary schools. Every pupil in a non-State school gets from the Victorian Government a grant of $40. This grant is made by a State Government which is so poverty stricken that it cannot do anything about the asphalt, for instance, in the Newlands High School yard; it cannot do anything about the position of most of the schools of Brunswick and Coburg and the outer suburbs of Melbourne; and it cannot put sun blinds on the one-teacher schools in the Mallee. However, the State Government can give $40 a head to every pupil of the schools that produced the people opposite. This assistance runs to tens of thousands of dollars. A combined sum of Si 08 per pupil is granted to each of the non-state schools each year. How can we talk about them being independent, private or in a different system? They are state schools which do not accept the responsibility of the state education system. Assistance to these schools will amount to $34m this year.
As I have been saying ever since this has become a matter of public debate, we have to devise a new system. I do not believe that we can carry on with this continuing auction for votes. I have listened to our friends opposite. Even our colleague the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) ought to be concerned more with education than with the political points he was using this afternoon. He is concerned not with what goes on in the schoolroom, or even with what sort of schoolroom it is, but only with what goes into the ballot box. I believe this is what bedevils debates on education in this place. The people of Australia should be dismayed to hear the speeches from the people opposite.
I come to the principle responsibility which seems to me to be the core of the debate. I refer to the question: What are the areas of responsibility? There is public responsibility. Let us examine the State or government school system. It is a long way from the areas of control or administration - I would rather use the word ‘administration’ - in which we have found no solution.
We are not even sure of the direction that education in Australia should take. However, this is the way 1 would look at a public institution. First of all, there is a public responsibility which it accepts. Secondly, there is public control. Thirdly, there is public accountability and, fourthly, it all winds up with what one might call the parliamentary principle - that people who expend public moneys shall account for it publicly and accept public responsibility. What do I mean by that? I have here great sheets of paper from the ‘Australian’. When the ‘Australian’ is short of material it wries up fifth form type essays on the great - I suppose that is what you would call them - schools of Australia. Significantly they are all ones that are not run by governments. In one of these articles, a waiting list is mentioned. What does that mean? Can the taxpayer who is supplying this $34m get his children into Canberra Grammar? If he turns up here tomorrow, with his 3 or 4 children, can he get them into Canberra Grammar? Honourable members should get on the phone and find out. They should ring half a dozen private schools and see which ones will accept pupils just like that. Having surrendered to the fact that after all, they would have to end up like the rest of us and send their children to a State school, they would turn up and knock on the door, and the State schools probably would say: ‘Yes, we are full, but come in’. There is a totally different public responsibility involved with private schools and I cannot see how honourable members opposite can continue with the theme that they have used. This is such a different area of public responsibility that the provision of $34m to the schools cannot be justified on these grounds. The policy of the Australian Labor Party is to provide benefits to areas of need. This has been scoffed at by honourable members opposite although that is the way they look at it in respect of nearly every social question. That covers point one.
Then, there is the question of public control. I would be the first to admit that the Minister for Education and Science is attempting to find a solution to the Canberra situation. Here is a great opportunity for experiment in Canberra - control by the community and the participation by the community in the school. I do not know whether there has ben a satisfactory solution to this problem anywhere in the world, because if there is too close an identification of parents on the education side, professional dissatisfaction probably is produced. If it is run as I am afraid the State school systems of Australia are run, and as I think a good number of non-State schools are run - by remote control - the public finally opts out. We must find some answer to this problem. Honourable members can be certain that none of these private schools has any sort of public control or public responsibility. They certainly have no public accountability for the $34m that is being allotted to them. I believe that that is the principle we must face up to.
When the next Budget is presented, will there be another subvention of public funds? Will the $68m rise to $80m because we are getting close to an election? At about election time, the pressures will build up. People will be knocking on the doors of honourable members opposite, and they will be knocking on ours too, and they will ask: ‘What are you going to do for us?’
There will be pressures on the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), if he still is the Prime Minister at that stage, and he probably will say: ‘We will make it $90m or $100m!. We must stop the auction. We must adopt some principle. I think it has become a public scandal. This is the issue which is now before us because we are disposing of sums of money which are significant in any context. My colleague the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds), nominated the amount that these schools will receive. If they have 500 pupils, they will receive $34,000 or thereabouts per annum from the Commonwealth. In Victoria, they are provided with $20,000 from the State Government. Then, there is provision for a science block and in the list can be found amounts of $30,000, $60,000 and, in subsequent years, amounts of $15,000, $20,000 and $17,000. Let honourable members examine the list and see for themselves. As I have said, they are not private independent non-State schools anymore. They are State schools, but they are not accepting public responsibility.
What is a private school? There is no such animal. There are one or two in Australia. There are some schools which, through misfortune, have to support their children practically out of their own private funds, but it is false to say that these schools are private schools. Of what are they independent? Are they independent of university directed education? There is not too much of that. I have visited many of them. In some ways, they are independent of some of the bureaucratic inhibitions that State education in Australia has produced and so, to this extent, I think that they do make a contribution which, unfortunately, is isolated inside their walls. The State systems of Australia have been totally inhibited in regard to controversial issues over the last few years. I believe that one of the big contributions the moratorium movement made to Australia was to break open the schools and enable the discussion of controversial issues to take place inside them. The areas of greatest inhibition in the past have not been the so-called independent schools but, unfortunately, the State schools and so I agree that to that extent there is an area inside ehe private school system which is admirable and which ought to be expanded through the system. However, they are not really independent.
How diverse are the private schools? Well, they might have better gardens but when I visit the schools the students all turn out in their uniforms. Very few of them, as far as I know, have forsworn uniforms. I am chairman of one of the high schools in my electorate, the advisory council, as it is called. It has much less authority than it should have, and one of the points that I think honourable members should consider is how public control and public participation can be injected into education. It is an adventurous, spirited school. I would not be surprised if, despite the rather meagre facilities that it has and the rather austere environment in which it operates, it is not producing a more adventurous spirit inside the school about the educational principle than is produced almost anywhere else. It is significant that, despite the conservatism of the Victorian community, I think that this is happening more in Victoria, in isolated cases, than anywhere else. That school had quite a large number df students sitting for their matriculation examination last year. I am not one of those competitive people who believe that the examination results are the test of education but 70 per cent of them passed their matriculation. This was one of the highest pass rates in the State. So, I suppose one must admit in this case that the actual school environment is not always what produces the results. I believe that those students are entitled to a better school environment and that the teachers at the school are entitled to better support. I have not seen any indication of any sympathy or understanding from honourable members opposite that that should be the case.
However, that has diverted me from the question of diversity. I do not believe that the present non-State schools of Australia are supplying diversity, except as an alternative place in which education can be obtained. Their diversity is a myth. Some of them offer a wider area of elective subjects but this situation is increasing over large areas of the State education system too. After all, each child can have only one set of education at a time. Perhaps that is applying a diversity of management, and that is something to which we should turn our attention. When we talk about education we should turn our minds to those things which are the deficiencies of the Australian education system and upon which we should be launching the assault. Neither the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill, which will provide chicken feed to the State schools or the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill from which large sums eventually will flow to the non-State schools make an attack upon what I think are the most serious deficiencies in the Australian education system. My friend, the honourable member for Barton, mentioned pre-school education. Then, there is the besetting question of inequalities. We have been discussing this for long enough, goodness knows. Are we not basically dedicated to what might be called an equalised community? This does not mean that we all will be turned out of the same mould. It does not mean we will all look the same and have the same things. But at least the public facilities at the disposal of the community ought to be equal as between individuals, and this is where we come in.
Again, I make the point that at some stage honourable members should visit schools in the deprived areas of Melbourne. 1 just take for an example 2 or 3 of them. A few weeks ago, the Minister for Education and Science visited several schools in Brunswick. First of all, there is the Princes Hill High School, which was destroyed by fire about 2 years ago. It is unbelievable that that building has not been replaced. As somebody from another school recently described it. it now looks like a bomb site and yet some 1,000 young Australians from this district must receive the benefit of an education. However, these areas are deprived and depressed in another way. They are areas to which a great number of migrants to Australia have settled. The conditions under which people must be taught are impossible. There is a multitude of languages amongst the students. I believe this Bill makes no attack upon the major problem of inequality or any of the other problems inside the Australian educational system. It is conservatism. There is an inadequate supply of teachers and an inadequate environment in most of the schools. It is only mounting inequality upon inequality.
I think it was the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) who mentioned my 2 senatorial colleagues on the Senate Committee - Senator James McClelland and Senator Milliner - and the minority report which they presented. I just inject this thought at the moment: They presented a minority report in which they stated that they could not see that there was any necessity for a separate Catholic teaching education system. I must say - without having given the matter a great deal of thought but after having read through their remarks and browsed through the report - that I agree. I do not believe that it is an advantage to the educational system of Australia to have tertiary education at this level isolated inside either a religious or any other kind of definition. I believe that, generally speaking, this proposition has been rejected throughout Australia in the establishment of any type of religious university or any institution of that sort at the tertiary level, and particularly amongst the teachers. It is important that the teachers should be trained together; it is important that people who are to teach in the various schools should train together. Therefore, to that extent I defend my colleagues in the Senate.
Just to wind up this point and to remind honourable members opposite of what we are debating, I take some pride in the fact that honourable members opposite are prepared to speak so eloquently and so often in education debates. I remember that 10 or 12 years ago we on this side of the House were continually denounced for bringing State matters into this place. If we have got honourable members opposite interested in education, even in a dilatory way, it is pleasing to note.
– They could hardly get a speaker.
– That is right. While honourable members opposite are at it, they can turn to the Australian register of schools and look at the Clyde girls school which, I think, is at Woodend. My friend the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) referred to this school the other night. There are 140 pupils in the school which is situated on 172 acres. I think that the school received a science laboratories grant of $30,000 - it is a battler, you know. As a result of that, there was an 800 per cent increase in the number of children attending science classes at the school. There was an increase from 1 to 8 in the number of children attending science classes at the leaving and matriculation levels. I do not think that is public education, I do not think that is state aid, and I do not think that it has anything to do with education. I think that it is a public scandal. One can look at the register and see the fees paid at almost every public school or non-state school in Australia. The fees are $570 at the Clyde school, $951 at the Geelong Grammar school and $700 at the Haileybury school. We must develop a formula. We should, perhaps, invite non-state schools into the system by introducing some sort of a treaty for each one based upon fees or no fees, public control, public accountability and acceptance of whoever turns up at them. But no longer can we continue this farce of calling schools independent or calling private schools which receive literally tens of thousands of dollars of public funds every year to spend however they will.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Lynch, and read a first time.
– I move:
Mr Deputy Speaker, the purpose of the Bill is to make provision - in a similar manner to the provision in section 28 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act - for the Public Service arbitration tribunal to deal with what are termed industrial situations. In short, these are strikes, bans or limitations on work engaged in by officers or employees of Commonwealth departments or instrumentalities.
By the terms of the Bill, if an industrial situation occurs or is threatened, a Minister, the Public Service Board, a Commonwealth instrumentality or a union may notify that situation to the Public Service Arbitrator. The Arbitrator or a Deputy Public Service
Arbitrator will then be required to call a conference of the parties in an effort to put an end to the industrial situation. The Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator is given power to make orders for the purposes of putting an end to or preventing that situation or orders which, in his view, are otherwise necessary or desirable because of the industrial situation. These orders may relate to the conditions of employment of the officers or employees concerned in or affected by the industrial situation or they may direct the cessation of or prohibit engaging in conduct constituting an industrial situation. These are the essential features of the Bill.
The basic framework of the Public Service Arbitration Act is not changed. The provisions of the Act by which an organisation may lodge with the Arbitrator a claim as to conditions of employment or by which the Board, a Minister, an organisation may seek to vary an existing determination of the Arbitrator are not affected by the Bill. Why, then, is this legislation being introduced?
The plain fact of the matter is that the existing processes of the Public Service Arbitration Act are not designed to deal with situations of direct industrial action. The processes of the Act have remained virtually unchanged since the first Public Service Arbitration Act was enacted in 1920. They do not empower the tribunal to deal with situations of industrial action. This form of jurisdiction by the Public Service Arbitrator was simply not required when the legislation was first enacted. The system created in 1920 was designed for a far different set of circumstances from those now existing. There was then a much smaller and more homogeneous Commonwealth Public Service, with many employees being engaged in administrative and clerical duties or, put another way, in non-industrial duties.
Today more than a quarter of a million employees or a little over 6 per cent of the total number of wage and salary earners in Australia come within the jurisdiction of the Public Service Arbitrator. Because of the growth of industrial employment with the Commonwealth in departments and instrumentalities including the Department Department of Supply, the Post Office, the
Commonwealth Railways and the AtomiEnergy Commission, the situation today has changed.
Some years ago, industrial action on the part of employees of the Commonwealth was mainly confined to limited areas where the employment was essentially industrial. Of more recent years, there has been an increasing tendency for a wide range of officers and employees in the Public Service to either threaten or take part in industrial action. Honourable members will be well aware, for example, of the many interruptions to the work of the Post Office, resulting in inconvenience to the public, that have taken place as a result of strikes, bans and limitations on the performance of work by such bodies as the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union and the Union of Postal Clerks and Telegraphists. White collar and professional organisations have also shown on occasion that they are prepared to impose bans on the performance of work causing considerable disruption to the work of Government in this country.
In 1969, Parliament enacted an amending Public Service Arbitration Act which recognised the increasing arbitration activity before the Public Service Arbitrator. The stage had been reached by then with the growth in the number and variety of occupations of persons in Commonwealth employment whereby one Arbitrator could not be expected to deal with the volume of normal business which came within bis jurisdiction. Hence, the 1969 legislation made provision for the appointment of Deputy Public Service Arbitrators of an unlimited number. Presently, there are two Deputy Public Service Arbitrators. This measure has resulted in a streamlining of the processing of claims and applications before the tribunal.
The Government now believes the processes of the Act need further strengthening to enable speedy resolution of industrial situations. Trie increased incidence of industrial situations arising in Commonwealth employment demands that formal machinery be established to handle their settlement. The community is entitled to expect this when repeated efforts are made by a number of unions with members employed by Commonwealth agencies to interfere with the activities of those agencies.
In recent years, too many situations have developed in which unions with employees in the Public Service have declined to take their claims before the Public Service Arbitrator in the normal and proper manner. Instead, they have resorted to direct action thus interfering with a wide range of Commonwealth activities such as the essential services provided by the Post Office, work in defence production establishments, the naval dockyards and the operations of such bodies as the Commonwealth Railways, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Works. Moreover, industrial situations have arisen in which the claims by the unions have already been the subject of close and detailed examination by the Public Service Board including discussions and negotiations with the unions. The unions have then declined to use the normal arbitration process.
The system of the Public Service Arbitration Act, as it stands, envisages that in circumstances in which a union is not satisfied with the response of management (in the form of the Public Service Board or a department or an instrumentality) it will take its claims to the Public Service Arbitrator. Most unions with employees in the Public Service do, in fact, follow this course of action but there are some with members employed in key areas of Commonwealth activity which reject the proper processes open to them under this Act and resort to intimidatory tactics by way of strikes or bans on work. The recent serious disputes in the Post Offices fall within this category. Under the Act as it stands, it is not possible for the Public Service Board or a Minister to notify the public service arbitration tribunal of these strikes and bans. Management may only invoke the processes of the Act by seeking to vary an existing determination of the Arbitrator.
In most dispute circumstances, there is no variation of the determination which management wishes to seek and, even if it did, this would not necessarily mean that the dispute situation could be brought before the Arbitrator. As I have emphasized, instances have arisen in which unions refuse to lodge claims with the Arbitrator. They have chosen to resort to strikes and bans. With all the avenues by which unions in Commonwealth employment may seek to have their claims resolved, (here ought not to be any resort to direct action. The Government has decided, therefore, that this Bill should be brought down in an effort to ensure that situations such as those to which I have m:de reference can be dealt with by the public service arbitration tribunal. The tribunal will be able to make efforts to bring them to an end or prevent them occurring and to deal with the underlying issues.
In the past, means of an ad hoc nature have been employed to resolve issues between parties. In some instances these have resulted in unions finally agreeing to process their claims before the Public Service Arbitrator. This state of affairs cannot continue. The Government has concluded that the Act needs amendment in order to ensure that industrial dispute situations are brought before the tribunal quickly. The tribunal which plays a major role in fixing terms and conditions of employment for Commonwealth employees should also be given the opportunity of making every effort to put an end to strikes and have bans on work removed and, where appropriate, deal with the issues that lie between the parties.
In general terms, what the Bill now before Parliament, contains are essentially provisions that have been part of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act since its inception. That Act enables disputes to be notified to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It places an obligation on the Commission to take steps for the prompt prevention or settlement of the dispute by conciliation or by arbitration. When an employer and a union are engaged in a dispute with which there may also be associated a strike or ban on work, that dispute can be notified to the Commission under section 28 of the Act. A provision of this nature is the essential feature of the Bill now before the House. There will be power for the Arbitrator or a deputy arbitrator by virtue of the proposed new section 1 2d, which is in clause 4 of. the Bill, to call an immediate conference of the parties on being notified of an industrial situation. He will hear them and he will be able to make such orders as he thinks necessary or desirable for bringing the industrial situation to an end. Those orders may relate to conditions of employment of those involved in the industrial situation or they may direct the cessation of the conduct that constitutes that situation.
Honourable members will note the word forthwith’ in the proposed new section l2o. As the Act now stands there arc statutory periods to be fulfilled in the making of claims and applications and the catling of conferences. These periods can take up to at least 5 weeks. Where there is industrial action involved, however, it is imperative that the tribunal should be able to act in the quickest possible manner. Therefore, there will be no statutory periods to be fulfilled when matters of this nature arc brought before the tribunal. lt has been a feature of a number of industrial disputes in Commonwealth employment in recent times that officers and employees indicate that they are not prepared to carry out all of their normal duties. One example has been the refusal of PMG staff to handle certain classes of mail or to ban the handling of telegrams or to refuse to connect telephones to certain premises or to ban the maintenance of telephone equipment. This means that officers and employees will carry out only those duties determined by them or by their trade union. This is nothing short of job control. It is an attempt to undermine the undoubted right and responsibility of management to decide which work will be performed and the responsibility of Commonwealth departments and authorities to provide essential services to the general public. The Government does not believe that its employees can abrogate management’s authority in this way and, at the same time, receive pay as if they had performed all their normal duties. Moreover, situations can arise in which, because of bans and other limitations upon work, the work of other Commonwealth employees is affected to such an extent that they cannot be gainfully employed.
It is for these reasons that the definition of an industrial dispute has been cast in the form in which it appears in the Bill. In addition - and I wish to be quite explicit about this, Mr Speaker - we envisage that, in future situations, management may ask the public service arbitration tribunal to deal with these restrictions upon the performance of work by making orders permitting the standing down without pay of employees who cannot be gainfully employed, and/or by making orders affecting the pay of persons who refuse to perform the full range of their duties. The power of the Arbitrator or a deputy arbitrator to make orders is not expressed in specific terms, however. We recognise that the tribunal must be given flexibility of approach in dealing with industrial situations. Nevertheless, we envisage that the tribunal may be asked to make orders, for example, relating to -
In concluding this speech, Mr Speaker, I want to refer to a submission made to me last year by the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations. In the course of the tripartite national conference on the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. the Council proposed changes to the Public Service Arbitration Act. I agreed that 1 would discuss these matters with the Council. The Bill I am now introducing does not relate to matters advanced by the Council and I wish to make it clear that I still intend to have discussions with the Council concerning its proposals. In the meantime, I shall be meeting with the Council of Professional Associations in Melbourne next week. As to the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations and CCPSO, arrangements are in hand for me to meet with them in the near future. The ACTU will also be invited to participate. The matters covered by this Bill are considered by the Government to warrant immediate attention.
The Government sees this Bill as fulfilling 2 main purposes. The first is that it should be seen as a further step in bringing the Act into line with current needs. Thus the provisions of it will enable the Arbitrator or a deputy arbitrator to be brought into industrial situations in an effort to resolve them. The second purpose of the Bill is to ensure that remedies are available through the normal processes of conciliation and arbitration in circumstances in which Commonwealth services are disrupted by strikes or bans and limitations on work. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
Second Reading I
Debate resumed (vide page 820) .
– I support the amendment moved by the Australian Labor Party’s spokesman on education, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). Our few outstanding government schools have less in common with ordinary government schools and our few outstanding non-government schools have less in common with ordinary non-government schools than they have with each other. As the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) acknowledged last Sunday, there is probably little to choose in quality between our top schools, government, Catholic and other non-government.
The tragedy of Australian education is that extreme inequality exists not so much between the government and nongovernment school systems but between schools within each system. The tragedy of the present Bill, which deals exclusively with the non-government school system, is that it fails to reduce or even recognise inequality within that system.
In denying last Sunday that the quality of education in government and Catholic schools was poor, the Minister illustrated and emphasised his utter indifference to tha overwhelming majority of Australian schools which are so much less adequately staffed, housed and equipped than those to which he and his colleagues send their children. He has designed his Bill not to combat inequality but to perpetuate educational privilege for the small and lucky minority of which he was born a member. In their geographic and social scope Catholic schools are universal while other non-governmental schools are quite narrow. The measure of aid in this Bill wilt not be sufficient to enable many Catholic schools to meet their obligations but it is not required to enable most other nongovernment schools to meet theirs.
The quality of the education a child receives is determined not by his own capacity to learn by by his family’s capacity to earn. Only 32 per cent of the students at Catholic schools reach the final year of secondary education whereas at other nongovernment schools 82 per cent do so. Only 7 per cent of the students at Catholic schools qualify for Commonwealth secondary scholarships whereas at other nongovernment schools 15 per cent do so. The Minister argues that this discrepancy in scholarships arises purely from the higher retention rates to which I have made reference already. I remind the Minister that in the 2 years of secondary education for which awards are made available only 12 per cent of the students at Catholic schools qualified for Commonwealth secondary scholarships whereas at other nongovernment schools 17 per cent did so. These are neither my own statistics nor selective statistics but statistics with which the Minister himself has provided me.
When Professor Radford conducted his 1959-60 survey of school leavers in Australia he found that only 8 per cent of the male students from Catholic schools were able to find university places whereas 26 per cent of the male students from other non-government schools were able to do so. For female students the figures were 3 per cent and 11 per cent. Successive Ministers for Education and Science have been too cautious or too uncaring to bring up to date these figures. On 25th August last I asked the Minister on notice:
What percentage of new enrolments at (a) universities, (b) colleges of advanced education and (c) teachers’ colleges was drawn from ti) government schools, (ii) Catholic schools and (iii) other non-government schools in the most recent year for which information is available.
On 28th September he answered that this information was not available. He referred me to an answer of 6th May 1971 in which his predecessor had referred the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) to Dr Radford’s work of 1959-60.
Let me quote another example of the way in which under this Government facts are so often conveniently unavailable. I had asked the Minister’s predecessor’s predecessor - that is only last year - what percentage of the students at government, Catholic and other non-government schools spoke as their mother tongues languages other than English. On 23rd April 1970 he answered: ‘Statistics are not kept of the numbers of children in schools who do not speak English as their mother tongue’, although he was able to advise me that in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory the percentage who did so was greater at non-government than at government schools. This answer obscures the fact that it is upon Catholic schools and not upon the other non-government schools that the burden of educating the migrant children of the non-government school system has fallen overwhelmingly.
Students at Catholic schools are not less able than those at other non-government schools, but at. each stage of their education they are handicapped by less adequate equipment and accommodation and, above all, by insufficient and under-qualified staff. Their deprivation extends back even into the first 5 years of life within which more than half the development of a child’s intelligence takes place. Inquiries conducted recently in Melbourne by the Australian Council for Educational Research have revealed that in that city only 6 out of every 10 of the students at Catholic schools had enjoyed the advantage of a pre-school education whereas among students at other non-government schools 9 out of every 10 had done so. I emphasise that this is the position in the capital of Victoria, a State where 27 per cent of all eligible children find places in pre-school centres, and not in New South Wales, where only 3 per cent do so.
We shall achieve equality of access to pre-school education in this country only when a Labor government establishes its pre-school commission and provides for ail children pre-school centres as good and pre-school teachers as well qualified as those the Minister and his colleagues provide for Canberra’s children alone. While the Minister’s predecessor told me that he was unable to calculate the cost of this project, Professor Goldman of La Trobe University says it would cost no more than $40m. According to him, it would cost no more than $20m to provide pre-school education in the inner suburban areas where the need for it is greatest. This sum, of course, is the amount it would cost when the system was fully operational, which might take 5 or 6 years.
In Catholic primary schools the number of students for every teacher varies from 32 in South Australia to 37 in Victoria whereas in other non-government schools the number varies from only 17 in Tasmania to 22 in Queensland. In Catholic secondary schools the ratio varies from 20 in Tasmania to 24 in Victoria whereas in other non-government secondary schools the ratio varies from only 14 in New South Wales to 19 in Queensland. The Minister again this week on ‘Monday Conference’ threw doubt on the desirability of better student-teacher ratios. The highly privileged handful of schools over which he watches so zealously, however, have no such reservations.
On Sth October last, in making his ministerial statement on the Commonwealth education programme for this year, the Minister presented a document setting out information furnished by non-government schools in the course of the Nationwide Survey of Educational Needs. The first table in the document sets out the estimates of total salaries to be paid in Catholic schools in 1971-75. On the basis of enrolments in Catholic schools at August last, the average amount to be spent in salaries per pupil enrolled at primary schools was estimated to vary between $386.25 in Tasmania and $618.10 in Queensland and in secondary schools between $758.69 in Tasmania and $1,257.63 in Victoria. The estimates of salaries for other nongovernment schools in the second table cannot readily be given by State; in primary schools the average would be $1,519.19 per pupil and in secondary schools $2,527.41. I am indebted to the Legislative Research Service of the Parliamentary Library for the calculations I have just quoted. The disparity cannot be explained merely by differences in salaries and stipends for lay and religious teachers in the different schools and States. There is basic inequality.
In March 1969 the 6 State Ministers for Education and the present Commonwealth Minister agreed to conduct a nationwide survey of educational needs. In subsequent months the Minister asserted repeatedly that it was appropriate in a federal system that inquiries into education should be conducted independently by the respective state and non-government school authorities. He rubbished suggestions that such authorities might be insufficiently objective or might have inadequate access to research assistance or might fail to co-ordinate their criteria. In October 1969 the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) undertook in his election policy speech that:
When the survey is completed the States and ourselves will discuss the assistance we should each provide to promote the further development of education in all schools.’
This was not an undertaking which the Minister can discard as unceremoniously as he did its author, for he himself had declared the previous month that the Commonwealth would co-operate with the States when the results of the surveys were known.
In May 1970 the Ministers received their report on the survey showing that between 1971 and 1975 the States would need for schools $l,143m more than the resources then available to them would provide, and subsequently it was established that at least an extra $264m would be needed by non-government schools. Since his return to the Education and Science portfolio the Minister has insisted on rubbishing the survey at every opportunity. He raised in his statement on 5th October a number of inconsistencies which in at least 2 instances cannot be evaluated by honourable members because the reports from which they were drawn have not been released by his Liberal colleagues in Victoria and New South Wales. He told the Teachers’ Union of Western Australia recently:
With the passage of time the information is losing its relevance to the present situation.
He accused the States last night on ‘Monday Conference’ of ‘trying to get too much of a change too quickly’. As if change could be too quick! It is now clear that as far as the Commonwealth is concerned the nationwide survey has been totally discarded. Mr Gorton’s promise of joint Commonwealth-State development of schools like his promise to establish ‘kindergortons’ has been abrogated by his nemesis and successor, Mr McMahon. The survey of which the present number was a parent in his first term 3 years ago was aborted by him when he got a second term as Minister last August.
Throughout the 1960s the Commonwealth has assisted existing universities and promoted new ones through the Universities Commission. The Commonwealth is now doing the same for colleges of advanced education. There is now also to be a commissioner for the Commonwealth Teaching Service. The ALP believes that the Commonwealth’s assistance for preschools and schools can best be provided through a pre-school commission and a schools commission. A schools commission specified in the amendment moved by the honourable member for Fremantle would have the function of assessing needs rather than testing means. It would recommend priority in Commonwealth grants for those schools and those areas which are still denied enough qualified staff, enough equipment and enough accommodation for a proper education. It would include representatives of the State departments, the Federal Catholic Schools Committee, the universities and the teaching profession. It would make its reports public and it would follow matters through.
The Minister is an unconscionable corrupter of question time. More than half the questions which those behind him ask - the honourable member Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) is his principal pet - are made an excuse for attacks on the Australian Labor Party in this Parliament, where it is at present in opposition, and in the South Australian and Western Australian parliaments where it has already come to power. Accordingly the remarks that follow will relate to the Minister’s continued comments at question time as well as to bis speech on the second reading of this Bill.
The Minister asserts that an Australian Schools Commission ‘would establish a new Commonwealth bureaucracy to stand in judgment over the States, and that decisions concerning the individual fortunes of the 10,000 schools around Australia would be made in Canberra’. He neglects to mention that decisions concerning 2,283 of these schools are made already in Canberra by the Secondary Schools Libraries Committee and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on the Standards for Science Facilities in Independent
Secondary Schools. Again, the Minister asserts that it would cost Labor’s schools commission $7m annually to monitor the needs of 10,000 schools although he acknowledged on 20th December last in a letter that the annual administrative costs of the 2 committees to which I have just made reference are less than $50,000. I seek leave to incorporate that letter in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND SCIENCE
Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 20th December 1971
Dear Mr Whitlam,
On 8th December, I undertook orally in response to a question which you put to me, to provide you wilh certain, information concerning the number of schools which fall within the scope of the Commonwea’th Science Facilities and Secondary Schools Libraries Programmes. You had also asked me what are the annual administrative costs of the Secondary Schools Libraries Committee and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on the Standards for Science Facilities in Independent Secondary Schools.
Bearing in mind that new schools are being opened and some existing schools closed or are amalgamating, the approximate number of secondary schools in the 6 States which fall within the ambit of the two Programmes concerned is 2,283, of which 1,523 are government schools and some 760 are non-government schools.
Turning to the administrative costs of each of the 2 Committees, in 1970-71 these totalled for the Libraries Committee, S27.354.99 and for the Science Facilities Committee, $20,993.97. The figures include such items as travel costs, silting and consultation fees and the Chairmen’s annual emoluments. Hie Libraries Committee is somewhat larger in number than the Science Facilities Committee and the former Committee makes use of occasional sub-committees to a greater extent than does the latter group, particularly in these initial stages of a major programme. It is expected that expenditure of much the same order will be incurred in future years, with a possible falling off in the Libraries Committee expenditure as the Programme continues.
I trust that this information answers the particular points you have raised.
Mr G. Whitlam, Q.C., M.P. Leader of the Opposition, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600.
– I thank the House. The Minister has used question time to accuse me of false comments on the Commonwealth’s discrimination against teacher education alone among all the forms of tertiary education. All my comments were confirmed and his refuted last month by the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts on the Commonwealth’s Role in Teacher Education. Although my Party’s proposals themselves have not altered since first put forward in 1969, the Minister’s estimates of their cost have undergone a very considerable escalation. On 9th September 1969 he told the House that the cost of implementing the proposals would come to notless than $300ma year. On10th November last year he told us that the annual capital and recurrent charges over the next 5 to 6 years would be not less than an additional $525m. On the following dayI accepted the Minister’s offer to detail’ these figures ‘in a day or 2’, and on 2nd March, 3 months later, I received the reply. May I have leave to incorporate it in Hansard?
– As long as you incorporate all of it, yes.
– Yes, of course.
– There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Parliament House Canberra. A.C.T. 2nd March 1972
Dear Mr Whitlam,
I am sorry for not providing the additional information you asked for in your letter of11th November concerning the cost of education proposals.
The total capital and recurrent once-only costs would be $561m. The annually recurring capital or recurrent costs would be $452m.
If all the once-only capital and recurrent costs were spread evenly over 6 years, the annual average cost of your Party’s proposals would be $546m. These estimates do not include the $180m which has been mentioned by Mr Beazley.
Since the proposals are of course proposals of your Party and since you have advocated them publicly,I have no doubt that you would have made some estimate of the costs of particular items.
Yours sincerely, MALCOLM FRASER
Mr E. G. Whitlam, Q.C., M.P., Leader of the Opposition, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600
– I would ask honourable members to compare the brevity and poverty of this reply with the lengthy if tendentious costing of our health proposals which appeared in Hansard 2 days ago as an answerto a question by me. The Minister alleges that allocation of Commonwealth assistance for schools on a needs basis is ‘patently a device to see that the minimum support gets to independent schools’.
Two days ago the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) was allowed to incorporate the Inner London Education Authority documents which explain and specify the criteria which that authority drew up in 1967 and revised last year for the allocation of assistance to schools on a needs basis. It can be done for recurrent grants here as in London and throughout Brit ain, and of course as the Minister now himself does with capital grants. The Minister prefers instead to give no more to schools which are in desperate need of assistance than he gives to those which are already superbly housed, staffed and equipped. He accused he Slates last Monday of trying to improve their schools faster than the available resources would permit but he had no difficulty in the Budget last August in funding an increase in he amount of expenditure on education deductible for income tax purposes from $300 to $400.
The honourable and learned member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) alone in his Party sees clearly amid the encircling gloom. In his Budget speech he stated:
The troublethatI experience in my mind about the system of concessional deductions, especially in relation to education expenses, is that that form of deduction does introduce into what should be as far as possible a progressive system of taxation a regressive element for the reason that the advantage of the concessional deduction is far greater for the man on a high income than it is for a man on a low income.. .
He pointed out that a deduction of $400 from an income of $9,000 would give a benefit of $205, on an income of $4,000 it would give a benefit of$131 and on an income of $30,000 would give a benefit of $259.
The raising of the ceiling on tax deductions for education expenses was made under pressure from the Government
Members Education and Science Committee. At least the Committee had the grace at its meeting of 27th April last to admit:
It would probably not yet be politic to remove the restriction entirely.
The real objective of the present Bill was revealed at the same meeting of this Committee. It is to develop a voucher system under which the parents can opt to receive from governments the amount which is spent in educating a child in a government school and to spend that amount on the education of their own child where and how they themselves wish. I quote the cynical view of the Government Members Education and Science Committee:
Particular attention was given to the means by which the Commonwealth might attract recognition commensurate with the degree of its’ assistance in the whole field of education. The voucher system was seen as a potentially effective means of giving physical identity to the provision of Commonwealth monies.
The voucher system would not improve the standards of existing government and Catholic schools. It would not make an adequate education equally available and accessible to children of deprived parents and in developing regions.
There is a particularly spurious and fallacious claim made on behalf of the richest schools which should be exposed. It is claimed that they require special and additional assistance because their debts are so huge. We might just as well say that special and additional assistance should be given to property owners if they have an especially high mortgage - that the man paying off a house worth $100,000 should receive assistance to the disadvantage of a man with a house worth $15,000.
The Labor Party seeks instead for all Australian children an equal opportunity in life and an opportunity in life as good as is enjoyed by children in comparable countries. We believe the Commonwealth should now see that pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary eduction of not less than an agreed standard is provided for every young Australian irrespective of the income his family receives, the church they attend or the locality they inhabit.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting the House was discussing, and will continue to discuss, 2 emergent Bills dealing with education. Lest someone outside the House is listening to this debate I think I should state the purpose of these Bills. The first is a financial measure providing for assistance to the States for independent schools. It proposes to raise the present Commonwealth contribution to independent schools from $35 to $50 for each primary school pupil and from $50 to $68 for each secondary school pupil. The other Bill, which is being debated cognately, is for capital grants free of interest to the States for government primary and secondary schools. It provides for an additional $20m to be spent by 30th June 1973 - $6.6m in the next 4 months, although the legislation is back dated to 1st January, and $13.34m in the following 12 months.
Prior to the suspension of the sitting 3 Opposition members spoke to these Bills. The first was the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) who is an ex-school teacher. His line was that the Government was introducing this emergent legislation on a sordid political basis. He said that we were trying to resurrect sectarian bitterness and schism. He said that this was merely piecemeal legislation. Another speaker from the Australian Labor Party was the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) who said that there were no independent schools in Australia. What he meant was that if the Government is to contribute money for the support of independent schools the Government should have control of those schools. He is, in effect, violently opposed to State aid for independent schools.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) made one of his usual very subtle speeches. He sidestepped the issues and did not mention the Bills at all as emergent measures. He was trying to create - as he tries to create throughout Australia in almost every speech he makes on education - a division between government schools, Catholic schools and other independent schools. He is very caustic about and most critical of the quality of education, particularly in Catholic primary schools. This is not unusual. We know what his idea is in relation to this, because he has disclosed himself time and time again. He wants education to be centralised under a huge commission which would deal with the 10,000 schools throughout Australia. He would centralise government and independent schools, whether they be Catholic schools or schools of other denominations, under one commission. It is on this basis that he proposes to decide how money is to be allocated on a needs basis in accordance with the scheme which is now being adopted in South Australia. This is clear because I have a copy of a statement he made in which he said that South Australia has provided, on a State level, a model of how the needs policy could work on the Federal level.
This is a dangerous thing for the people of Australia to come up against because the Labor Party is not applying itself in the same way as I believe the Government wishes to apply itself to education. There is a great divergence of opinion on the approach to education between the Government and the Labor Party. The Government believes in a true democratic approach. It believes that education is far more than academic perfection. Under the commission idea with a needs basis everything is related to the question of academic perfection. The Government believes that education should aim to make good citizens, loyal citizens and able citizens - to make men and women who appreciate the need in our society of high moral values, respect for each other, respect for the rights of others and for the dignity of the individual. This cannot be achieved under a Socialist system in which a huge commission would control education in Australia. The Government stands for more local and decentralised control of education but the Opposition - the Labor Party - has always stood for centralised control, not only in education but in everything it does.
– Who said that?
– The honourable member knows that this is in the policy of his Party. This is the policy for a Socialist society. Members opposite never believed in independent schools and for years past they fought State aid tooth and nail until fear of political reaction made them try to get on the band wagon. Leaders of the
Labor Party are divided among themselves and there is specific proof of this. One has only to refer, as I propose to do, to some of the statements that have been made. I shall quote what Senator Murphy said in the Senate on 1st December last. These words appear at page 2252 of Hansard. He said:
The policy of the Austral:an Labor Party is crystal clear. The policy is as stated in the amendment moved by Senator Wheeldon and which is about to be voted on by the Senate. That policy sets out that there should be an Australian schools commission to examine the needs of students in government and non-government schools and to make recommendations for grants to the States on the basis of needs and priorities. In making these recommendations the commission shall have regard to:
This is important -
That means government schools first, lt wa< so stated by me some 3 or 4 years ago when the policy was first adopted by the Australian Labor Party and it was confirmed in this Chamber by the mcn shadow Minister for Education, the late Senator Cohen.
That was somewhat damaging politically for the Leader of the Opposition so the next day he tried to smooth this over, [n this House on 2nd December 1971 the Leader of the Opposition said: -
The Minister purported to give the interpretation that the schools commission, which the Labor Party has undertaken to establish, would give assistance to government schools before it gave any to non-government schools, lt is plain from the reading of the document that the form of assistance will be on the basis of the investigations made by this expert body and reported to the Parliament and to the public. It may be that there are some non-government schools which fall further short of acceptable standards and have larger class sizes than government schools.
He did his usual shuffle to try to get away from any political stigma. Then on 9th December the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), the Opposition’s shadow Minister for Education, made an extraordinary statement which shows the division that exists in the Labor Party. He said:
However, I want to say something about this system of making per capita grants to private schools. Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to devise in each State a Catholic education authority and an education authority for the other independent schools, to make a grant to them which may be calculated on a per capita basis and for them to be given the right to spend the money according to need. The Government may, lay down guidelines of need, but a Catholic education authority in Western Australia, shall we say, would get approximately $4.37m - I think that is what the grant will be - and that Catholic education authority could spend the $4.3 7m according to need.
– Is there anything wrong with that?
– Yes, there is a great deal of difference between what the Leader of the Opposition said and what the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate said. It is an enormous difference. There is no doubt that the Opposition’s approach to education seeks the centralisation of education and non-assistance to independent schools wherever it can be done. There is a great need for the legislation before the House and the Government realises that there is need for assistance to state schools for capital expenditure. It was because of the urgency of this need that the money provided under this legislation is sought to be given. However, this is not the only money that has been given. Last year under the Appropriation Bill there was an enormous increase in the amount made available to the States for expenditure on education. In addition to that at the Premiers Conference only a week or two ago an allocation of $32m was made to the States for emergency expenditure. It was expected, of course, that some of this would be spent on schools. In this regard New South Wales immediately allocated $2m, Victoria $2.5m, South Australia a poor $400,000, Western Australia allocated nothing - it and South Australia are States which are under Labor Party control - and Tasmania allocated $830,000. This is indicative of the approach that the Labor Party has to education.
The Government is prepared to help, and is helping, and there is a great improvement in the standards of public schools in Australia - there is no question about that - but there are new areas opening up everywhere and many extensions and improvements to schools are necessary. There is also a great need for the per capita grant which is made to independent schools. The amount provided under the legislation with which we are dealing tonight pre-dates to 1st January while the Bills simply put into effect a promise made by the Prime Minister at the beginning of December. It was just in time to save the closing of many independent schools in
Australia. With costs continually rising and the salaries of teachers increasing, a crisis has developed in independent schools in many of our states and Ml credit is owing to the Minister for Education and Science, who is now at the table, and particularly the Prime Minister for the emergency action that they took so that the schools would know what they were able to do in the new term which was to open early in the new year. If it had not been for this action the schools would have been closed. All over Australia parents and children are grateful for what the Government has done.
– I rise to order. I seek your guidance on this matter, Mr Speaker. The honourable member said that the people of Australia are grateful. That is not my impression. The people of Australia are not grateful.
– There is no point of order. If the Chair had to interpret the opinion of every honourable member the House would never get anything done.
– The problem in the independent schools still exists although full credit must be given to this Government for saving the independent schools in the past year. However, there is still much more to be done if they are to survive and to expand with the natural growth of this nation. It costs about $300 per annum to educate a primary school pupil. The Commonwealth gives $50 of this and the States contribute the following: New South Wales $50; Victoria $40; Queensland $45; Western Australia $30; Tasmania $24; and South Australia under a Labor government varies its contribution in different ways but it is generally about $10 for each pupil, the lowest in Australia. It costs about $500 per annum for each secondary school pupil and of this the Commonwealth provides $68 for each pupil and the States contribute something towards it. I have not time to quote all the figures but it can be seen that it leaves an enormous burden on the parents and friends of children attending private schools throughout Australia who have to provide, as I estimate it, about $200 for each primary school pupil and about $350 for each secondary pupil.
I know that the question of State aid has been debated over the years but it is safe to say that the people of Australia on a national basis have accepted the dual system of education. The independent schools, I might remind the House, started before the state schools system in Australia. Now they educate over 20 per cent of school pupils. It is well-established, and everybody accedes to it, that parents have a right to decide the kind of education they want for their child. Certain standards of education are laid down and maintained by the Government, and rightly so. But there are additional standards sought by parents of children is independent schools. Every parent - every citizen - contributes through taxation to the cost of the state education systems. Surely it is fair and just that a child sent to an independent school should share on an equal basis with a child sent to a State school money allocated by the Government to help meet the cost of education. It is high time that assistance to independent schools ceased to be made a political football and it is time that DOGS, as the organisation calls itself, called off the barking and biting and came into line on a co-operative basis.
I would remind the House that not all rich people send their children to independent schools and that many thousands of sons and daughters of rich people go to state schools throughout Australia. So one cannot discriminate. The Labor Party wants to introduce a means test; the Government does not wish to introduce a means test. The children themselves have a right to a proper education, as their parents require in this country. I do hope that the people of Australia will understand the subtlety of the way that Labor supporters are trying to cause a division between the various groups in Australia. It is they who are raising the sectarian issue.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Two Bills are under discussion before the House. I wish to direct my remarks to the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill, the purpose of which is to increase per capita grants to independent schools. As the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) said, these grants were first made available from the beginning of 1970 at the annual rates of $35 a head in primary schools and $50 a head in secondary schools. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) recently announced that the new rates would now be $50 a head in primary schools and S68 a head in secondary schools, from the beginning of 1972. For some time the Government has supported independent schools by providing funds for both capital and recurrent purposes Where capital funds are made available the Commonwealth has established objective standards against which the entitlement of an individual independent school can be judged. This is done for science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools.
When the question of recurrent expenditure in independent schools is considered, a different set of circumstances applies. The Commonwealth Government, in common with nearly all the State governments, has chosen to provide per capita payments for all children in primary and secondary schools without any kind of means test. This method of assistance has been supported by the National Council for Independent Schools which recently issued a strongly worded statement explaining its view. It is also supported by the Federal Catholic Schools Committee. There have been many discussions on State aid. However, it is generally overlooked by those people who oppose State aid that the secular Act operating in most States does not provide funds for teachers to teach religion in State schools. To all other intents and purposes independent and State schools function much the same. Therefore the whole basis for discussion on State aid must surely evolve from the importance of religion. During the last century religion was always part, of the school curriculum, particularly in the early life of Australian schools and in most other school systems around the world.
The churches pioneered education and most governments were happy to subsidise the churches for accepting this responsibility. Why should they not continue to subsidise independent schools whilst the States are having difficulties, mainly due to overcrowding in some areas? Also there is the question of economics and the right of the parents to choose their children’s schools. Parents do have a right to the choice of a school for their children and as taxpayers they are entitled to have a part of the cost of educating their children met from government revenue. Those parents who prefer to send their children to independent schools are entitled to expect governments to contribute directly to the cost of running those schools, provided the parents continue to accept a reasonable share of the cost themselves.
In government schools very large sums of Commonwealth and State moneys have been spent on education, and rightly so. However in independent schools the very considerable efforts of the parents are now supplemented by the Commonwealth and State governments for both capital and recurrent purposes. However this support is still significantly less than the total support which governments provide for State schools. However, I am not saying that State schools have everything provided; far from it. Having served on the advisory council of 5 high schools I am well aware of the problems of commencing these schools in developing areas. I have never quite seen the logic of spending about $250,000 as we do on a secondary school these days, when little is done to complete site works. This creates problems for the staff and parent bodies who do a very good job in establishing these schools in developing areas.
Prior to the introduction of the Education Act of 1872 in Victoria, under which education became free, compulsory and secular, the churches ran most of the schools. This Act has been operating in Victoria for 100 years and, as previously mentioned, it precludes any of the education grant being used to teach religion in schools. In 1872 there was a good reason for the introduction of this Act, as prior to the turn of the century most of the churches wanted their own schools for their own denominations in sparsely populated areas, with the result that it was costing too much money, as the State governments at that time subsidised the churches. However, this situation has changed, particularly during the post war period. We now have a greatly increased population. As a matter of fact our population has increased more rapidly than has that of any other country in the world on a percentage basis, with the possible exception of Israel, and this of course has created some problems, as I have mentioned.
However the important point I wish to make is that percentage-wise many fewer people attend church these days because of counter attractions. This means that thenchildren do not have the same opportunities the existed when this secular Act was introduced in Victoria. To illustrate this point, when reservists are called up for training they are interviewed by Army chaplains and asked the obvious questions: What church do you belong to? What contact have you made with the church in recent years? About 90 per cent claim no contact with the church whatsoever. I think this is most alarming. It certainly brings me to the point I am endeavouring to make, that of all the national reservists called up for military service in recent years, fewer than 10 per cent have made any contact with the church.
It is obvious parents are not accepting the same responsibilities as was the case at the turn of the century and if our youth are not given encouragement in the home, I feel they should receive more incentive whilst they are at school. It is for this reason I would like to see the old secular Act changed, as to me it appears to be illogical and incomplete in its present form. As I have said before, I do not quite see the logic of spending some $ 1,600m, as the States and the Commonwealth are spending on education this financial year, to provide our children with an opportunity of developing mentally, physically and emotionally, if they miss out on spiritual development. I venture to say this spiritual growth is just as important as are any of the former. I will go further and say that it is more important.
There are few words in the dictionary which have such an impact on our society as the word ‘education’, as we are all affected in some way. One might go so far as to say that everything near and dear to us is an integral part of education, as it all begins with the education of the young child in the home. When we use the term to educate’ just what do we mean? If we look at ‘Webster’s’ we will find it refers to many important matters, such as the attaining of knowledge, development of mind and character; it also refers to morals and attributes, skills and methods; also other matters such as human understanding and self reliance. We can go much further iri trying to define the term education’ by including such definitions as love, courage, faith in God, the acceptance of responsibility, our sense of art and beauty, our pleasures of the past and our hopes of the future, our respect for each other. Even such matters as birth control and racial discrimination must surely be tied up in any education system. 1 would like to go further and say we should also educate the people to look beyond self interests - we should also educate the people to give sacrificiously. When I say this I refer to the hungry people of Bangla Desh and India, the victims of racial discrimination, and the orphans of the wars in Vietnam and Bangla Desh. I say again, how can we possibly exclude religion when we refer to the above matters, as they are surely part of each other. The freedom to worship is perhaps the greatest cherished right we have. However. I must go further and say it is the most neglected. For people to say religion is not an integral part of education indicates how little they understand its true meaning, and this surely strengthens the case for the removal of our secular education act.
Ali this leads me to say I would like to see a Ministry for Religion, which could be a top Cabinet portfolio in Federal Parliament. Such a minister could liaise closely with government departments, particularly the Department of Education, the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services. It could also liaise closely with the churches and provide financial assistance for the church in developing areas by making crown grants of land available where necessary. This is not new thinking of course. It has been done in Australia before and in many European countries. In West Germany they go much further as an additional income tax is levied, and this provides funds for the church to extend its missionary work inside and outside the country. It is for this reason I propose such a portfolio, and am sure it would be a major factor in encouraging higher morals and increased financial support for the church. It would also stimulate the missionary activities of the church in Australia, not only in forward and developing areas, but also old ones, in bringing people back to the church in local communities, and I think this is necessary from the statistics I have quoted for national reservists.
I would like to see both the Government and the Opposition give serious consideration to such a portfolio, and perhaps our Christian fellowship could give some leadership in this regard. To commence with I would like to see the Government set up a committee of inquiry to ascertain the needs of the churches and the schools in this field. I am also of the opinion that such a committee could investigate ways in which such a ministry could liaise closely with the Health, Social Services and Education Departments, and the Armed Forces. I feel it is up to the Government to provide leadership in these fields as we cannot continue to sit back and leave religious education entirely to the churches any more than we can leave education to the States.
The increase in per capita grants in this Bill is urgently needed for Catholic schools in developing areas and also in my electorate where a number are having great difficulty in raising sufficient finance to meet teachers’ salaries and general expenses associated in running their schools. Most of the parents make great sacrifices to keep their children at independent schools, and their main reason for doing so is that they want them to receive a well-balanced education. By that I mean not only mental, physical and emotional growth but spiritual growth as well. I could, if I wanted, speak of the early difficulties encountered by the Catholic schools in and around Dandenong. As a State member at the time I knew one particular school that was so overcrowded some 75 pupils were accommodated in a tin shed with a dirt floor. I reacted strongly to this as the State member and arranged for the State Minister of Education to visit the school and see what action could be taken. This was of course approximately 13 years ago - well before per capita grants were introduced. It was of course conditions such as these I have mentioned that brought about State grants in Victoria and soon after the Federal Government followed with assistance for libraries and science blocks and with per capita grants. 1 am pleased to say the introduction of these grants has been a major factor in assisting Catholic schools to expand and provide facilities comparable to those in the State schools.
However, since the initial grants were made school costs have considerably risen. and I know these increased grants will bring much needed relief to many schools throughout my electorate. Even the Protestant schools are having difficulty and a well established school such as Hailebury College, which in recent years moved from Brighton to a new site at Keysborough, is dependant on per capita grants to keep school fees within a reasonable level, and I am sure this is the general position in most independent schools. These increased grants are welcome. I am pleased to support the Bill.
– Since the Mouse met following the suspension of the sitting 2 Government supporters have spoken. Mr Speaker, no doubt you will recall that the reason for this sequence is that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who spoke immediately before the sitting was suspended, followed an Opposition speaker. I think one could say that the 2 speeches we have just heard have been in great contrast to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition.
The speech delivered by the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) was obviously designed, to create the feeling that the Government wants to generate in the community - that is, to divide the people of Australia. This is probably the most divisive government this country has ever known. The Government has missed an imcomparable opportunity to raise school standards for all children in government and non-government schools. However, as one listened to the speech of the honourable member for Bennelong it became even more apparent that what the Government is seeking to do is to divide not only the schools and the parents but the education systems as well. The honourable member for Bennelong was followed by the honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) and there was little in the honourable member’s speech with which one could disagree as, I believe, he endeavoured to trace the historical background of the church and the school. So, I make no criticism of what the honourable member for Holt had to say in this respect.
The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is on record as supporting equality of education. During the Estimates debate on education in this House last year, he pledged his support for the reduction of inequality by education.
He extended this splendid concept further by equating equality of education with equality of opportunity. It is unfortunate that this admirable theorist should have to preside over an educational structure which is riddled with injustices and inequalities. There is an immense volume of literature and research on inequalities in Australian education. It has been one of the popular topics of educational theory and literature in the 1960s and early 1970s. There has been no lack of detailed listings of defects in the education system and the relative advantages and disadvantages it disposes.
The House has before it tonight two Bills relevant to inequalities in Australian education. The first is designed to increase per capita grants for pupils attending independent schools from $35 to $50 a year for each primary school pupil, and from $50 to $68 for each pupil getting secondary education. The Opposition is not opposing this increase in assistance nor the appropriation of this assistance to independent schools. The question of giving Government assistance to independent schools has been thrashed out in all Australian political parties and in this Parliament. It is a principle which has provoked much vexatious and passionate debate and much heartburning. The Opposition does not intend to track back over the well-worn ground of independent schools versus government schools. We recognise that we have to deal with reality and the present reality is that 2 massive systems of education exist in this country. It is difficult to make any predictions about whether this sort of structure will last or whether it will be supplanted by another. The whole area of educational research is an area of flux and change at the moment. It is not possible to project with any accuracy what the schooling system will be in 10 or 20 years time. If the concept of ‘de-schooling’ which has attracted considerable attention in the United States and Europe, gains favour, conventional systems of education as we know them may have vanished completely by the end of the century. The present reality is that we have a government school system and we have an independent school system. Both have to be supported if any sort of coherent educational structure is to be maintained in Australia.
Having accepted this, the Opposition does not give automatic approval to the way in which the Government gives assistance to independent schools. On the contrary, we say that the carve-up is conducted in a most inequitable way with wealthy public schools getting the same treatment as do battling parochial schools with very humble resources and facilities. This is the basis of the Opposition’s attitude - that this sort of scheme gives something to the have-nots but it gives just as much or more to the haves. This will be a perpetual source of resentment and opposition in the Australian community until it is replaced by a distribution based on need. Opponents of independent schools are entitled to feel aggrieved when they see some of the facilities at independent schools which are getting substantial injections of public funds. It is pointless for defenders of conspicuous spending at independent schools to point out that facilities such as swimming pools have been provided by support of parents or old boys’ organisations. With per capita grants flowing into school revenues opportunities must arise for diversion of resources. The people who demonstrate outside these schools and demand the use of independent school facilities by the public because of the use of public funds have a perfectly valid point.
I know that it is a sweeping generalisation to say that all in this bracket of independent schools are wealthy. There are schools labelled as GPS or public schools which have been on the brink of penury and bankruptcy. Here the per capita grants do contribute to better standards of education. But I believe this to apply to only a small number of schools. The point of a needs survey is that it would sift out these schools from their affluent colleagues and give them the benefit of Commonwealth assistance. Undoubtedly there are once great public schools which no longer warrant that status because of a falling off in prestige, income and pupils. In these cases need should be assessed and appropriate assistance given. But certainly the main flow of Commonwealth assistance should be towards the areas of greatest need. In the case of independent schools, these are undoubtedly the Catholic parochial schools. The Opposition’s shadow minister, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr
Beazley), went into this issue in some detail when he moved the amendment on behalf of the Opposition. The gist of this amendment was that a schools commission should be appointed to determine the needs of all schools, government and nongovernment, primary, secondary and technical. The commission’s recommendations could be used as the framework for providing Commonwealth money on the basis of needs and priorities.
The Minister is not enthusiastic about the concept of a schools commission. As I understand the Minister he rejects the analogy of the Universities Commission which has successfully administered Commonwealth finance to universities. He has said that what can be done for 15 or 16 universities is impossible for 10,000 schools in Australia. This argument is somewhat specious. It would be just as relevant to criticise the Repatriation Commission as inadequate because it administers hundreds of thousands of pensions, or the Australian Wool Commission because it handles the product of thousands of wool growers, and in some cases of course, handles it extremely well for the Minister. The Minister’s other objection to a schools commission is that it would centralise education under the control of a Commonwealth bureaucracy. He has been quoted as saying that what is needed in education is a greater decentralisation of education authority, so that communities and teachers in particular areas can be more closely concerned with the fortunes and development in the schools in those areas.
It is not clear how far the Minister would carry this process of taking education back to the grass roots. Presumably the ultimate result would be control of education by local government units.
This raises the tantalising prospect of a municipal council having some sort of surveillance over Melbourne Grammar. At least it shows that the Minister has some refreshing ideas about education which he should develop in greater detail to show the House how he plans to move control of education outwards and closer to the local communities. I do not think these arguments jeopardise in any way the concept of a schools commission which would be one of the first institutions established by a Labor government. The point about a schools commission is that it could be used to assess inequalities and evolve policies to eliminate them. It could look at the physical environment of schools to cull out those with inadequate buildings and facilities, and insufficient teaching aids. I listened with a great deal of interest to the honourable member for Holt when he spoke of his experience as a member of the legislature of Victoria when he visited one of the small Catholic parochial schools. He referred to the fact that there were a great many children occupying a classroom of this school in which the soil formed the classroom floor.
If, as the honourable member for Holt believes, these circumstances exist in so many instances throughout Australia in relation to small parochial schools, can it be justifiably argued that there ought not to be a competent authority which could assess and determine where the priorities in education should be directed? I thought that the honourable member for Holt made a very sound case, when dealing with this aspect of education in Victoria, in support of the Australian Labor Party’s policy to establish an Australian schools commission. Such a commission could look at the physical environment of schools, as I have already pointed out. It could review the present system of Commonwealth subsidies and find ways of getting funds to the schools so all essential items now supplied by parental contribution could be supplied by the Commonwealth.
Another important source of inequality is the allocation of teachers. The pattern that has persisted over the years has been for the more inexperienced teachers to be sent to rural areas or to depressed economic areas in the big cities. The better and more experienced teachers tend to go to the more prosperous city suburbs. In part this is a professional process; it has been the tradition for teachers to make their natural progress through the ranks by way of rural and industrial-urban schools. It might be all right for the inexperienced teacher to cut his teeth in this way; it is not necessarily the best thing for pupils in these schools.
A schools commission could look at ways of getting a better spread of more experienced and talented teachers over the economic and geographic distribution of schools. It could recommend what incen tives were needed to get these teachers to areas of inequality. These are some of the ways in which a schools commission could be used to tackle the manifold inequalities in the education system. Surely not even the Minister himself would deny that these inequalities in education exist in Australia in both the government and nongovernment schools.
No honourable member on the Government side has stood up to defend the Australian education system as a whole. No honourable member on the Government side has denied the existence of the inequalities to which reference has been made over the years in this Parliament, principally by honourable members on this side of the House, but I suppose more significantly and importantly by educationists and parents and citizens organisations outside this Parliament, who for years now have drawn the attention of this Government to the inadequacies and the inequalities in our education system. So while Government supporters may use whatever methods or tactics are available to them in this debate to endeavour to drive a wedge between the parents of children who attend government and non-government schools in Australia, the fact remains that no-one on the Government side who has spoken in this debate has denied that there is a crisis in education, that these inequalities do exist.
In his second reading speech the Minister referred to the difficulty independent schools had in imposing higher fees. He went on to say that for boarding schools in particular there were further problems resulting from the current situation of rural industries. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this is how the Minister sees the inequalities of education in rural Australia: in terms of the difficulties fluctuations in rural incomes impose on boarding schools. With respect to the Minister, it seems that he conceives the education of country children in terms of getting them to boarding school. He may protest, as he did on television the other evening, that he has at various times sent his children to a 2-teacher government school near his home in Victoria. Regrettably this has not sharpened his insights into education inequalities that develop in small rural communities.
The Government has done nothing to meet the special problems of country children in maximising their education opportunities. This is one of the saddest areas of inequality in Australian education and it is one which should cause the Minister special pangs. There was another example of extraordinary lack of sensitivity in the Minister’s approach disclosed in his television appearance on ‘Monday Conference’. He claimed that parents who sent their children to private schools had a greater concern for education and therefore encouraged their children to stay at school longer. In the Minister’s view much too large a proportion of families with children at state schools didn’t give their children the encouragement in their home environment to encourage them to stay at school as long as possible. This line of argument was used to answer a question on why the bulk of scholarships for secondary students went to pupils at the more expensive independent schools. This sort of argument would have much greater force if the Government did anything at all to assist poorer families to keep children at school.
For example, the Minister’s point might have some substance if living allowances were paid, special scholarships granted for secondary education, and text books provided free. In the absence of such assistance it is most unfair to imply that parents supporting independent schools were more concerned with their children’s education than were parents of children in government schools. Even the most passionate involvement with a child’s education matters little if the cash is not there to provide further education.
I have dealt with only a few of the inequalities that exist in the education system. Undoubtedly the system could not be transformed overnight or by a stroke of the pen. But it is time that the process of providing a more equal and equitable system of education was begun. The Government is not tackling these problems effectively with legislation of this sort. The Opposition does not oppose the passage of this legislation because it does get much needed funds to the impoverished sectors of independent education. But it achieves this by a most unjust distribution of the resources available for allocation to independent schools. The Labor Party’s approach of using a schools commission to redistribute this assistance to areas of greatest need has been made clear repeatedly to the Parliament.
This is why we on this side of the House urge the merits of an Australian schools commission. We believe that such a commission is acceptable to the people of Australia as a whole. It was made perfectly clear during the campaign for the 1969 elections, when this Government was returned with a greatly reduced majority, that the Australian people favoured the appointment of an Australian schools commission which, under a Labor government, would be responsible not only for dealing with the inequalities in education to which I have referred tonight-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– … but also for initiating for the first time in this country a responsible organisation that would have an opportunity to determine educational priorities on the basis of need.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– I take a point of order. Is it in order for the honourable gentleman’s remarks after the expiration of his time to be included in Hansard?
-The honourable gentleman was called to order and I asked him to resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, a great deal of the speech that we have just heard from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) was concerned with an Australian schools commission which, according to him, has been proposed by the Opposition and is its solution to most of the education problems facing Australia. Perhaps he would excuse my doubt about the matter as to exactly how serious the Opposition is with this proposal, because when I look at public statements made by various spokesmen from the Opposition on this matter. I have some lingering doubt in my mind whether this really is the proposal that is being made by the Opposition. One can see a number of curious inconsistencies in statements from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and the honourable member in this House who has just been referred to as the Opposition’s spokesman on education - the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley).
I do not want to take too much of the time of the House unduly to explore these curious inconsistencies, but 3 short statements from the Opposition made within 9 days seem to make it apparent that the Opposition simply has no specific policy on whether or not this commission should be established and, if so, on what methods it will adopt to distribute government support for independent schools. The first of these statements is the one by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate who, on 1st December 1971, quoted a provision in the Australian Labor Party’s platform for the establishment of an Australian schools commission. That is apparently going to work it all out for us. The part of the platform quoted by Senator Murphy reads as follows:
In making recommendations for such grants to the States, the Commission shall have regard to -
the primary obligation of governments to provide and maintain government school systems of the highest standard open to all children.
Senator Murphy explained what he meant by this by saying: ‘That means government schools first.’ The following day the Leader of the Opposition in this House took the Minister for Education and Science (Mr MalcolmFraser) to task for alleging that this schools commission would, as the Minister said, give assistance to government schools before it gave any to nongovernment schools. This would seem to me to be exactly the proposition put forward by Senator Murphy in different words. But according to the Leader of the Opposition himself, that is a wrong principle because, as he said:
It may be that there are some non-government schools which fall further short on acceptable standards and have larger class sizes than government schools.
In other words, it is not a case of ‘that means government schools first’, as Senator Murphy put it, but rather a case of ‘perhaps non-government schools will come first but perhaps they will not’. I wish the Opposition would make up its mind about this matter.
Finally, confusion was even worse confounded by the honourable member for Fremantle who, on 9th December last year, seemed to abandon the whole concept of the schools commission and advocated rather the establishment of separate authorities in each State, one for Catholic schools and one for other independent schools. Clearly, that proposal is quite inconsistent with the proposal for an Australian schools commission which, as it was put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, is to concern itself with all schools throughout the nation. Whether intended or not, at least the honourable member for Fremantle’s proposal recognises the hopelessness of the task that his Leader would give to the schools commission. That is indeed a most curious collection of statements from the Opposition’s spokesmen with, on the one hand, the Leader of the Opposition saying ‘This is the proposal of the Opposition’ and, on the other, his own spokesman on education saying ‘It is not, and rather there should be separate authorities established in each State of the Commonwealth.’ That, as I said, gives me very much doubt indeed as to whether the schools commission is the proposal of the Opposition on education in Australia.
The other very curious matter that has been referred to by the Opposition, which again causes me some doubt as to exactly how closely the Opposition has studied this matter, is the assertion by the Leader of the Opposition that the needs commission, as it exists and operates in South Australia, is a model for the way in which the needs principle would operate at a Federal level. He looked at the system operating in South Australia and said: ‘This is the model.’ It is not as if he left it there. On 23rd February this year he said:
The fact is, since the Minister mentions this, that in South Australia the neediest schools get more per pupil from the State Government than any school gets per pupil from any other State government
It is not surprising, as the Leader of the Opposition said that, that he should also have said: ‘Here is the model. This is the ideal situation in South Australia, because in South Australia the neediest schools get more per head of the population in the schools than in any other State.’ Let us look at exactly what they do get in South
Australia, and see whether or not it is the model that should be followed. In South Australia a $10 payment is made with respect to each pupil, and over and above that there are additional payments, calculated allegedly on this needs basis. And what is the result? Let us look at the neediest schools, those that have reached absolutely rock bottom. They are the schools that need the greatest aid. The pupils in those schools receive $34 per annum, including the basic $10. The extra $24 is paid because they are the neediest schools. They are as I said, at rock bottom.
– This is the model!
– This is the model, as the honourable member for Mitchell has said. Going up and further away from these neediest schools, the amounts are $30 a head, then $15 a head, and the best schools apparently receive only $10. The most that is paid under this model system to the schools that are the neediest of all is $34 a head and that, as the Leader of the Opposition is quoted in Hansard as saying, is more than they receive in any other State of the Commonwealth. In New South Wales they receive $50. In Victoria they receive $40. In Queensland they receive $45 per head of population in a school per annum. Only in Western Australia and Tasmania do they receive less. In other words, in South Australia the neediest schools - those that are most deserving, those to which the needs commission has been most generous - are given less than in any State except Western Australia and Tasmania. And this is the model that is held out by the Opposition to the country as a model that should be followed in the Federal sphere.
Let me turn to another aspect of the matter which is just as serious and which concerns trie very much indeed. That is the statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that beyond any doubt at all the Opposition has now accepted at least the principle of Government support for independent schools. An interesting document has just been published, emanating from the Senate. It is a report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. That body looked at the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education. One of the interesting aspects of the report is the dissenting report by 2
Opposition senators, Senator James McClelland and Senator Milliner. I will not quote the whole thing, but what those 2 gentlemen said in their report, amongst other things, was:
We are not satisfied that a case has been made out to the Committee for additional Commonwealth assistance to non-government teacher training institutions.
This is an extraordinary proposition coming from a party that, according to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, has accepted the principle beyond any doubt. The 2 senators went on in the dissenting report to say:
There are different reasons for rejecting the plea for more Commonwealth assistance for Catholic teacher training institutions.
Successive Commonwealth Governments have accepted the principle of ‘State Aid’ to Catholic schools and, whatever may be the philosophical merits of this principle, it is not in question in considering the subject which the Committee is charged by the Senate to consider, namely what should be the role of the Commonwealth In regard to teacher education throughout Australia.
When they come to the part about government and Catholic schools and the situation with respect to training teachers for those schools - it is interesting when I read this paragraph to recall the absurd allegation made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that the Government is endeavouring to divide the community on this matter - they say:
No persuasive reasons were advanced to the Committee as to why the maintenance of the Catholic school system should demand separate training of its teachers. The provision of continuing religious indoctrination which is undoubtedly prized by Catholics-
I wonder who is endeavouring to divide the community - and which is their main justification for the perpetuation of their separate school system, is a matter to be entrusted to their own religious orders, and should not, in fact probably cannot under the Constitution, be a matter with which the Commonwealth Government can concern itself.
Those statements seem to me to cast very much doubt on the proposition put forward by the Opposition that it accepts the principle of government aid for independent schools. Here above all in one of the most pressing areas of concern in education - teacher training - when there is such a desperate need for teachers and for better trained teachers, particularly in independent schools and particularly in the Catholic schools, we have 2 Opposition senators saying: ‘It is Catholic indoctrination and nothing else, and we will not have anything to do with the Commonwealth giving any aid at all to encourage and train teachers who are going to teach in these particular schools’. Again there is a most curious inconsistency in the statements coming from the Opposition on this matter. Then we can look at what happens when the Labor Party has an opportunity to do something about it, an opportunity when Labor is in State government to put into practice the principles which its supporters say they will apply if they form a Federal government.
Due, I would suggest, to the wise decision of the Government in February this year at the Premiers Conference very substantial amounts of money were made available to the States. It was made quite clear, among other things, that this money should be devoted to building and housing, particularly in the field of education. It is interesting to see which of the State Governments have devoted part of that money to education, how much of it ‘has been devoted to education and which of the governments have not devoted any or perhaps only small amounts for education. In New South Wales about 20 per cent of this money has gone into education. In Victoria about 29 per cent has gone into education. As yet we have no return from Queensland. Tasmania has put 35 per cent of the money into education. But what about the model State of South Australia which of course has a Labor government in office? South Australia used 9 per cent for education. It is nothing like the 20 per cent which was devoted by the non-Labor governments in other States? And the grand result of all is in Western Australia where not one cent has been devoted to education. I think that these facts should cast doubts in some minds as to how serious the Opposition is about the implementation of these proposals in the field of education because here is proof of the pudding. This is an opportunity for Labor to put its policies into practice.
When I mentioned Western Australia it makes me wonder about one thing - and of course there is a Labor government in office in that State - and that is that the Labor government in that State in its wisdom distributes Government aid to independent schools on a per capita basis across the board. The Western Australian Government has introduced one Budget since Labor came to power in that State. That was a chance to change that system and put into practice the glowing principles that have come from the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters but Labor has not done it in Western Australia. I wonder why. I issue a challenge to the Opposition to explain to me why, if it is such a desirable system, it has not been implemented in Western Australia. I ask further: What will happen if there is a Labor government in the Federal Parliament? Will the Opposition have the system of distribution across the board in Western Australia and a system of distribution by the needs commission or whatever it will be called in the Federal sphere? If so, how will the 2 work together? I would be interested in some answers to these questions from subsequent Opposition speakers in this debate.
In dealing with what Government supporters have said in this debate I would remind the House of 3 challenges issued by the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) to the Leader of the Opposition. The 3 challenges were pertinent and relevant but they have gone completely unanswered by the Leader of the Opposition who as far as I could see - and I mean no offence - merely gave one of the normal speeches that he makes on this subject. The 3 challenges were: Firstly, to affirm the right of every child to assistance. That is an important challenge. It is not just a debating point. It is an important challenge because I would suggest that Opposition members who are taking part in this debate should make up their minds as to whether they accept the principle that every child in Australia has a right to be assisted by the Government in his education. If honourable members opposite accept that right then I ask them: ‘How dare you seek to derogate from that right by diminishing the amount that any child in Australia may receive from the Government? If you end up giving them no assistance you will deny the right entirely and to the extent to which you diminish the amount paid with respect to any child in Australia so too you will correspondingly diminish your recognition of that right.’
That is a challenge which was issued by -the Minister for Housing and it has gone unanswered. I join in the request for an answer to that challenge.
Secondly, the Minister for Housing asked the Leader of the Opposition to recant from the absurd proposition that South Australia is a model for the distribution of state aid. I trust that I have demonstrated that that is, as I have described it, an absurd proposition. I am still interested to know how the Leader of the Opposition sought to justify the proposition. Thirdly, the Minister called on the Leader of the Opposition to cease dividing children and their parents along the lines that he outlined. This is where the nub is. This is where the division comes. I suggest that it is an attempt to divide the community into those who send their children to government schools and those who do not. It is as simple as that. Within that division there is perhaps an even more pernicious and more dangerous division and that is the division between parents who send their children to Catholic schools and those who send them to Protestant schools. That, as I have said, is .an even more pernicious division and I and the Government will have . nothing of it. After all that is the answer to the argument that has been raised month after month in this place, the argument that aid to independent schools should be distributed upon a needs basis. How can this Government or the Opposition if it forms the government or any government, unless there is the ridiculous situation as there is in South Australia, allow the accusation to be made, whether it is true or not, that it is supporting schools conducted by one religion and not supporting schools conducted by another religion? It does not matter whether the accusation is valid or not. No government can be put in the position where the accusation could even be made.
There were many other matters that I wished to draw attention to but time is against me in this debate. I will refer very briefly to some of them. Firstly, I welcome very much the provisions of this legislation, particularly the provision that increases per capita grants to independent schools to $50 a year for primary school pupils and $68 a year for secondary school pupils. I think this is a further recognition by the Government of the very important role played in education by independent school authorities. I think the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) summed it up very well when he announced the increased grant earlier this year and said that the increased grant recognised independent schools in many cases had been obliged to pay their teaching staff salaries that were significantly lower than those paid in government schools despite the fact that there were awards which had been made and which obliged them to pay higher salaries. The Prime Minister also indicated that there were serious impediments to an expansion in the independent schools sector, particularly in the primary school field. As I have said, one could go on and refer to many other aspects of this matter.
Finally I want merely to pay some regard to some representations that I believe have been sent to all honourable members or at least honourable members representing Victorian electorates. The representations were sent by the Parents and Friends Federation of Victoria. I think the Federation put the matter fairly and squarely in perspective, and it has I think given a completely and wholly satisfactory answer to the allegation that the Government is already under the present system paying far too much to independent schools. What is the position in Victoria? The Victorian State Government spends $333 a year on primary school pupils and $31.50 for children in non-government schools. Is that an unjust system? Is that unfair? I think not. In the secondary field it is $607 as against $70. Is this lining the pockets of the rich, as the argument is always being put by the Opposition? It is not. The total payments made in Victoria by the State Government and by the Commonwealth Government for a primary school pupil is $81.50. That is what is paid for each pupil in an independent primary school and including the new grant it amounts to $155 in the case of the secondary school pupil. It is an absurd argument to suggest that the Government has been paying far too much to independent schools. I suggest it is a proper recognition of the role played by independent schools in the community and a proper recognition of the contribution that independent schools make and have made for many years to education in this country.
– The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Since the House resumed after dinner I have sat in my place listening patiently to 3 Government supporters do their darndest to justify the position adopted by the Government in relation to the Bills before the House. I listened to the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) and, to be quite frank, he did not disappoint me. We heard the usual dreary, conservative, backward dissertation that we have come to expect from the honourable member for Bennelong. The honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) endeavoured to justify his stand. Whether he succeeded is a matter of opinion. We have just heard the young Turk from Diamond Valley put forward certain arguments with which he thought he had the Australian Labor Party by the short hair.
I would like to say at this very early stage that what we are speaking about tonight is probably the greatest resource Australia has. That is our young people. It is not an exhaustible resource. It is not finite: it is an infinite resource. As long as people keep their fingers off the nuclear button there will be young people in Australia who will be coming forward to be educated. We are speaking about whether those young people will grow up never having had the opportunity to enjoy all the benefits of education or whether they will be brought to a stage of understanding in social development where they will be able to enjoy the fruits of those things which are about them.
The young Turk from Diamond Valley, the honourable member for Bennelong, and others from the Government side who have spoken in this debate seem to have used this debate for purely political purposes. I am not one of those who think that this House is not a place of politics. Of course it is a place of politics. The solution of the education problem is a political solution because it will be achieved by Government decision. So far as the young people of this nation are concerned, and indeed so far as the nation itself is concerned, this issue is so important that it should not be prostituted to the level where shoddy political points are taken.
I cannot recall - other honourable members might - exactly the figures that were quoted by the honourable member for Diamond Valley. If my memory serves me correctly he said something about New South Wales spending about 32 per cent of money made available to it by the Commonwealth at the last Premiers Conference on education. He mentioned that Victoria, that marvellous southern State, spent 35 per cent on education. I think the figure he gave for South Australia was 9 per cent and in Western Australia, he said, it was something like 7 per cent.
– I said that none at ali was spent in Western Australia.
– The honourable member tells me either that there was none at all or he does not have the figure for Western Australia. However colleagues of mine from South Australia and Western Australia will be following me in this debate. I am neither a South Australian nor a Western Australian and I do not intend to move very far into that area, but I will with the indulgence of the House read a telegram which records some remarks that were made by the Director-General of Education in Western Australia. It reads:
State Government giving its education policy priority over almost everything in its thinking. Education had been put in a privileged position. The $83m alocated in the last State Budget-
This is Western Australia of which I am speaking - the increase of $1.2m in loan funds and the proposed free text books scheme-
I trust that the young Turk from Diamond Valley is listening carefully - for primary school children were big steps forward in education. The recent Budget has given me enormous satisfaction. The concessions given to education will allow a lot to be done to improve the State education system. This has come at a time when finances are being tightened and economy measures are affecting nearly all government departments. The fact that the Government was straining its resources to make the concessions indicated its feelings about education. The Education Department had 2 main aims, lt was striving to overcome the backlog-
There is the crunch - in education and to replace outmoded buildings. So great was the development in Western Australia that the Department had to move fast to stay in one place.
That is how quickly it is developing. The telegram continues:
But the way the Government treated education in the last Budget made this task much easier.
All of those remarks were made by the Western Australian Director-General of Education on Saturday, 2nd October 1971. That man is not a politician, as are we. He is not popularly elected, as are we in the Labor Party. Rather is he a public servant. Yet he makes quite clear the problems in Western Australia. I dare say that they are the same elsewhere, and when Mr Holding becomes the Premier in Victoria in 1973 he will face the same problem of catching up the backlog, the legacy that has been left by inept, incompetent Liberal Party governments.
A document recently prepared by the Teachers Union in Victoria stated, and it has not been refuted, that in Victoria $130m is required to correct the very bad situation that exists in the inner suburban schools in Melbourne. It does not mention the rest of the State. That is the sort of legacy that a Labor Government in Victoria will inherit. This is the problem that confronts the Labor Party, as it will confront us in this place at the end of the year when wc take office.
– Stop lobbying.
– I have 26,000 people in my electorate who are already convinced; I think they are convinced enough. This is a cognate debate on 2 Bills. One deals with a grant of $6.66m to the States as part of the honouring of a promise given by a former Prime Minister, or was it this one? I lose track; they change so rapidly. I understand that if Sir Frank Packer has his way there will be another change before the end of this year. The $6.66m is one-third of the $20m offered by one of the Liberal Party Prime Ministers. The other Bill increases the per capita grants to primary and secondary schools in the so-called independent schools area. I see this as being entirely not compatible. I am sure that the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown), in the preparation of the fine speech that he made, did not have rime to read the amendment that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) put before this House.
– He was reading from Liberal Party speech notes.
– That is probably true. The amendment seeks to add the following words to motion for the second reading of the Bill. the House, while not refusing a second reading to the BUI, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and nongovernment primary, secondary, and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities.
From the way that the honourable member for Diamond Valley was speaking he seemed to draw 3 conclusions. That is understandable because, as I understand it, before he came to this House he was a lawyer. As such he obviously has had a university education. I should think that most of the cost of that education was met by the taxpayers of Australia.
– Do you object to that?
– No. I was not in such a privileged position. I was not going to say this, but those who have listened to the debate tonight could be forgiven for thinking that their contribution towards the cost of educating the honourable member for Diamond Valley was somewhat wasted and could have been put to a better use. If the honourable member, being a member of a very learned profession, is unable to make compatible 3 statements that are, in fact, the same, far be it from me, who was very fortunate to be able to gain his merit certificate, to try to give a lesson to one so learned and knowledgeable.
Tonight we are discussing the education of the young people of Australia. It has been alleged that the Labor Party is trying to drive a wedge into the community. I do not know whether it is the Labor Party which plays unionists off against nonunionists, church schools off against nonchurch schools or private schools off against public schools or State schools, but it seems to me that this is mainly a device used by the Liberal Party and those members of it who sit in this House. The honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) gave a fine dissertation on the history of education. It seems to me that there was never a choice for people in the early times as to what sort of education they would receive because then only those who were in a privileged position were able to enjoy education. Until we reached the stage of having a state education system there was a large section of the community whose needs in this respect were ignored. The question of privilege can be supported only if it is backed up with an education so if there are people who, without the benefits of an education, remain ignorant there is a division in the community with one section of the community standing in a position of privilege because it has enjoyed the benefits of an education.
With the advent or this terrible socialist practice of asking all people to contribute to provide an education system so that all people can be educated by it, we found that there were among those people who in normal circumstances would have remained ignorant some receiving some sort of education. They were raising themselves to a position where they were liable to challenge the privileged position of those who traditionally had enjoyed education. That was thought not to be too good, but it could not be destroyed so the privileged set about it in another way - a very cunning way. They made the State education system so bad that now it is churning out almost ignorant people with a smattering of education.
But the division goes even deeper than this. What do we mean by education? Do we mean that people are taught to read and write, to add columns of figures or to manipulate formulae so that they can make them add up to something? Education goes far deeper than that. I believe that in the years ahead our society will be confronted with a situation which will be resolved only by the proper education of the people. I speak now of things like automation which will result in increased leisure time for most of our people. They will need to have an understanding of how to use that leisure time.
Let us consider the Government’s attitude towards the 2 Bills we are debating. Government supporters have said a lot about the legislation tonight. I would point out. for the benefit of the House, that when these 2 Bills were introduced, it took the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) about 14 minutes to introduce his Bill and the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was so enraptured with his contribution that it took him 6 minutes to introduce his Bill. Neither of them explained very well what the whole thing was all about. In introducing his Bill, the Treasurer indicated that out of the $6.66m provided, my own State of Victoria will receive the princely sum of $1.7m. As. I have already explained, this is to be used to try to correct a problem which it has been conservatively estimated will cost $130m. That sum of money is needed to rebuild and bring to an acceptable standard the schools in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. The Treasurer was ecstatic about the Governments generosity. He gave the impression that the States were tickled pink. He said:
The Government believes that the grants authorised by this Bill represents a significant contribution by the Commonwealth in the field of education. They have been welcomed as such by the States.
He was referring to the $6.66m. I should like to have been a fly on the wall listening to Sir Henry Bolte as he travelled south to his bastion at the top of Bourke Street. I do not think he would have been tickled pink with it. The attitude of the Government, ils Ministers and those who hope to become Ministers is well known. Whether consciously or subconsciously the same expressions and attitudes continue to be stated.
This evening 1 listened to the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). In listening to that honourable gentleman one could be forgiven of closing one’s eyes and imagining oneself back in the 18th century. With the expressions he used one could almost draw an analogy between that and 1984 and such slogans as ‘Truth is lies’ and ‘War is peace’ because the honourable gentleman has a peculiar faculty for taking matters of fact and presenting them in such a way that they are unrecognisable. To this honourable gentleman socialism is apparently anathema. He speaks about it on almost every occasion in most derogatory terms. He is, however, quite prepared for a society to share the cost of educating the scions of the privileged class. In other words, he wants to socialise the cost of education.
As I understand the situation in South Australia and Western Australia, contrary to the impression that the honourable member for Diamond Valley would have liked to have given, education is being developed at a far greater rate than it is in those States that have not yet been sufficiently enlightened to elect a Labor government. Whilst large sums of money are spoken about - mention was made of $38,000 being provided for one private secondary school - there has been no discussion of a most significant facet of education, namely, preschool education. The Government seems able to make large sums available to private schools but it is not prepared to spend similar sums to ensure that the younger children, particularly the children of the underprivileged section of the community, are given any education until they are old enough to attend the generally accepted State schools. In my electorate there are approximately 65 schools with a population of about 40,000 children. There would be as many children of pre-school age. This confronts the people of my electorate, who are not altogether affluent, with a serious problem. The schools are not provided with the facilities that they need because the parents are not in a financial position to provide them so the teachers elect to teach at schools that are better equipped.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It has been a very odd experience throughout this debate listening to honourable members opposite going on and on in the most extreme terms to describe the motives of members of the Government parties. The sort of terms they have used betray their own motives. They used terms like: ‘The debate is being prostituted to the level of shoddy political points’ and ‘no Government supporter has stood up to defend the system as a whole*. We have had talk of the muck of sectarianism’ and so on. I would have thought that if the Opposition had a policy of its own of which it was proud we would hear very little or none of this sort of talk from member after member on the other side. However, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), for whom I have very considerable respect, tonight in his speech to the House said that no Government supporter has stood up to defend the system as a whole. This is exactly what every Government supporter has done. One after another, we have stood up precisely to defend the system as a whole, the system about which we are united, because we believe in the Australian education system that we have. We believe in the whole approach which is implicit in the Government’s philosophy and practice and I include, of course, both Federal and State governments here. We are united in our approach to the Australian education system; the Opposition is disunited and so can only hurl abuse across the chamber.
The Government is conscious of deficiencies in the Australian education system and not for a moment have honourable members on this side denied that there are deficiencies. Indeed, one Bill before us tonight is a living testament to our concern with a new development in the Australian education system, and I will come back to that later. Honourable members opposite have talked of Government members attempting to drive a wedge into the community. This is precisely what the Australian Labor Party has attempted to do at each extension of aid to independent schools. At each and every extension there have been loud voices from the Opposition side crying out against these extensions of Government aid to independent schools. If that is not driving a wedge into the community I do not know what is. It was sad to hear an honourable member opposite talking of the Government attempting to stir up the old sectarian scum. That language, that sort of thinking, that bigotry, is utterly foreign to the Government and, I venture to suggest, that bigotry is utterly foreign to the great majority of Australians. As Australia has drawn up her own sense of identity she has left behind the bulk of the bigotry of the old world. We are big enough and strong enough in Australia to grow without bigotry. As we have found our way as a nation, the background, cultures and particularly the religions of our settlers have helped us to pick up a uniquely Australian identity and at the heart of this there is the belief in tolerance, a belief in a fair go and a belief in diversity.
– How many Catholics do you have in your Party?
– This is precisely what we do have in our Party. It is at the very heart of our Party and it is what is missing in the Opposition because its members have no freedom to stand up in this or any other place and disagree with its policy.
– Neither have you.
– Yes, I have. It is a freedom we have and it is precisely the freedom that members of the Labor Party do not have. This issue illustrates the basic belief of the Liberal Party in the sort of education which Australians want and which it believes Australians ought to get. But what do we find on the other side of the House? We find that the Australian Labor Party is organisationally tied to its outside union controllers. Honourable members opposite do not make their own policies, yet they have the temerity to come here and talk about freedom. We are looking for a moment at the Australian Labor Party’s approach to education. I have spoken about it briefly in organisational terms but let us now look at its philosophy. It is still fighting philosophical battles with the ghosts of the past and many of its greatest internal rights in recent years have been over State aid. Obsessed with envy for a few schools, the Labor Party has tended to turn against countless schools again and again. Filled with principles of centralist uniformity it has begrudged positive policies designed to create diversity and freedom in education. In recent times we have the spectacle of 3 leading spokesmen for the Australian Labor Party in this area making quite contrary statements.
– Here we go again.
– Yes, here we go again, but it has to be said again. We have had the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this House with one approach and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate stating a quite different approach. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate talked in terms of aiding State schools first. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), in yet another approach in relation to the projected Australian schools commission, talked about allocatig grants through a dozen locally based committees. So we have the Labor Party in this area speaking with many voices. As recently as the other day the 2 Labor senators on the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts in the report on the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education made comments which illustrate their concern about the freedom of Australians to get the education they want. In a dissenting report at page 96 they said:
No persuasive reasons were advanced to the Committee as to why the maintenance of the Catholic school system should demand separate training of its teachers. The provision of continuing religious indoctrination-
Can honourable members conceive of a more loaded term to describe what any honourable member would ‘ have called religious education - which is undoubtedly prized by Catholics and which is their main justification for the perpetuation of their separate school system, is a matter to be entrusted to their own religious orders, and should not, in fact probably cannot under the Constitution, be a matter with which the Commonwealth Government can concern itself.
So we have the official Labor Party policy along these lines: lt accepts State aid to schools but is not prepared to accept State aid to tertiary Catholic educational institutions. It draws all sorts of constitutional red herrings across the path to make it look as though there is good constitutional doctrine in favour of their stand which can only drive a wedge into the Australian community, a community which believes in freedom and diversity in education. This is the heart of the whole approach of the Government to education in Australia, lt is an approach which has tolerance and a positive belief in diversity, so that Australians can stand on their own feet and have the education they want.
Over the years this principle has been increasingly recognised by Liberal -Country Party governments. I put it in these terms; We originally had a belief in the maintenance of the independent schools and in more recent years there has been a more positive encouragement of them. 1 believe we are moving into a third phase of promotion of independent schools. Throughout these phases, national priorities have been a guiding light to the Government. They will continue to be a guiding light for the Government. Broadly, in the first phase the Government provides funds for science blocks and libraries in a non divisive way to government and independent schools alike. This aid is directed at specific measurable objects so a needs test is appropriate. It is possible to determine where science blocks and libraries are needed and I do not think any honourable member would deny that. The second and somewhat different phase is per capita grants to independent schools. This policy in the second major phase is being pursued instead of using a regular needs basis in assessment of grants to schools. On this point Mr Whitlam has said that these grants ought to be on a basis of needs.
– Do you not agree?
– I do not agree.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! I. ask the honourable gentleman to refer to the Leader of the Opposition by his title and not by bis name.
– Certainly. I am sorry. I withdraw that reference and accord the honourable gentleman his title of Leader of the Opposition. I cannot agree with the Leader of the Opposition, with the most profound respect, on this quetion of a needs test for the per capita grants, because I do not know what he means. We have so little detail about what he intends by the expression ‘means test’ or the basis of needs. We bad some suggestions from the honourable member for Frementale (Mr Beazley), but we have had so little information about what he is getting at that we could not possibly on this side of the House take a long look at it as a positive proposal for the Government to consider. The point is that the sort of suggestion that the Leader of the Opposition has made is a chance suggestion. The basis might be staff/student ratio or size of classes. What does this mean in practice? In practice it could well subsidise the inefficient so that where there is a bad staff/student ratio, funds are directed to that school. The staff/ student ratio then improves, the school no longer needs extra funds, the extra funds are taken away and the staff/ student ratio again deteriorates. So I ask the question: Just what can the Leader of the Opposition mean in practical terms by this suggestion? As I see it there is an inherent tendency in that proposal to subsidise the inefficient school. Further, I believe it has an inherent tendency to produce uncertainty so that schools on a day to day basis would be unable decently to manage their own affairs. It could lead to the creation of divisions among schools in addition to the uncertainty which I have suggested would come about.
I am suggesting that there is a very important difference between our approach to per capita grants and our approach to the objectively measurable science blocks, libraries and so on. In other words, we have shown that we have a flexible and sensible approach to this matter. I suggest that we have come to a new phase in the assessment of national priorities in education, and I think this is a very important phase. It is instanced by one of the Bills to which we are addressing ourselves tonight, the purpose of which is to provide grants to the States to be used for State schools. In this phase we recognise that at certain times State governments may be unable to cope with all the difficulties of State education. It is plain to any honourable member who has followed this subject closely that various States have paid special regard to urgent needs in urban areas where schools are overcrowded, old fashioned and need regenerating.
The Commonwealth is providing extra funds to enable the States to fulfil the objective of regenerating schools in the older areas where obviously special problems have arisen. I am suggesting that the Commonwealth Government has been realistic. It has recognised different needs as they have emerged from time to time and will continue to do so, but not by taking over day to day decisions. Let us have a quick look at the Labor Party’s proposal for a national schools commission. We see very little. We see an obvious federal bureaucracy, a body which is supposed to be like the Australian Universities Commission. The Australian Universities Commission has 18 universities to look after, but an Australian schools commission would have about 10,000 schools to look after, with the number increasing by the score every term.
As every honourable member knows, there are very significant differences between the way that universities traditionally have been run and the way that schools traditionally have been run. Universities in important respects are still autonomous. Parts of the school system have a degree of autonomy. They do not have the degree of autonomy which I would like to see them have and which in the future they ought to have. I am not suggesting that schools ought to have precisely the same autonomy as do universities. In this area there is an enormous difference between schools and universities.
A national schools commission as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition could be effective only if it made day to day decisions. It is of no use setting up a body at the national level to allocate moneys on a needs basis if it does not go into every school in the country and make day to day decisions. This is a fundamental philosophical objection we have to the proposal. Such a commission might be effective in making some day to day decisions, but it would probably be most effective in destroying precisely those elements which are needed in the world today. Those elements are participation and involvement at the local level. The Liberal Party believes in a decentralised system of government. We heard some nice words from the Leader of the Opposition about decentralisation, but it appears that he is trying to get decentralisation through centralisation.
My view is quite plain - there is a good deal of machinery already there for the decentralisation of authority within the educational system, and to create this large shadowy centralised body on all that we know of it could do little to solve the problems with which we are faced. I will make one or two final remarks about the sort of future hoped for by Liberals. We believe in a system of education whereby parents and the community have a very great involvement and whereby a school grows out of the involvement of the parents. This has, of course, been the cardinal feature of the independent schools system. My personal view is that in the long run we would want to strive for an education system - a multi system - in which this sort of involvement would be the most natural thing. Under such a system the State capital and particularly the Commonwealth capital would not say in the case of a new school: ‘Let us go out and put it there’. Instead we would have the community rising and saying: ‘Let us put the school here’.
Mir DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has deliberately tried to mislead the House over the relative performances of the State governments in capital expenditure on education. I say tried to mislead the House’ because honourable members already know that the record of the South Australian Labor Government on education is the best in Australia. The parent and teacher organisations know this to be true. If honourable members really want to know how well Liberal governments and Labor governments have helped education ask those who have to run the system. Ask the teacher organisations. What happened at the last Teachers Federation congress at Adelaide? Which Government did the teachers express a lack of confidence in? It was not the Labor governments of Western Australia or South Australia; it was the Federal Liberal Government.
How can anyone deny that South Australia, under a Labor government, is the leader in Australian education? I challenge any honourable member opposite to ask the Teachers Institute in South Australia what it thinks of the South Australian Government and to contrast that with what the teachers organisations in New South Wales and Victoria think of their State Governments? They know very well that Liberal State governments such as this Liberal Government have a belief in an elitist education system where there is great public patronage of wealthy private schools to prepare the children of the rich to become rulers in their turn. As for the lower orders in the government schools, they receive just enough training to enable them to take their place in the factory to earn profits for their masters.
Seeing that the matter of education policies of the State governments has been raised, let me dwell on it further, lt is important because the South Australian Labor Party, which has performed so admirably in the field of education, is guided by the same humanitarian principle which will guide the next Federal Labor Government. These principles are: Firstly, a greatly increased expenditure on education; secondly, expenditure on education to be allocated on a basis of need so that education will overcome the disadvantages of those children from families with limited incomes - in other words, to provide equality of opportunity; and thirdly, decentralisation of decision making and devolution of power so that maximum autonomy is given to teachers and students. These will be the goals of a Federal Labor Government. They are rapidly becoming the reality in South Australia under the State Labor Government. Of course, government schools need much more help in South Australia as they do in every other State. But to get the degree of aid needed, further money must come from the Commonwealth.
As honourable members can see from the Bills before us, particularly the one relating to capital assistance, this aid is not coming now under a Liberal Government. This is only a small fraction of what was needed according to the Nationwide Survey of Educational Needs. As I shall point out in a moment, there is no chance of adequate Commonwealth support under Liberal administration. As T shall also point out in a moment, support will be forthcoming under a Commonwealth Labor government.
However, I would first like to demolish the pathetic assertions by the Minister about the grants made to the States at the last Premiers Conference. At that conference funds were made available for works and housing. The reason was specifically to stimulate employment. This was the condition specified by the Commonwealth Government.
– It was not for education.
– It was nol for education but was specifically to provide employment. The Minister has stated that only 10 per cent of this amount going on education in South Australia is a poor performance. Let me point out that the Commonwealth wanted all the funds spent this financial year, that is within 5 months. How on earth then can we start new school buildings and have the bills paid in that time? Any fool knows that we could not spend that amount of money in that time on school buildings. The only money that could be spent would be on minor works programmes, purchase of teachers houses, and so on. Any bills being paid between now and 30th June for school buildings could only be for works already planned at the time of the Premiers Conference in February. So if the latest Commonwealth grants were being used for this purpose by other States, then they must have been substituting Commonwealth money for State money. In other words, the New South Wales and Victorian figures are phoney. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), who will follow me later in this debate, has an example of that very thing happening within his own electorate. The Minister must know this. Why does be have to resort to deception? It is because if he relies on the facts he will have to admit that the performance of the South Australian Government in education is the best in Australia.
What are the facts? The facts come out by examining the total expenditure on education, whether from Commonwealth or State sources. This will give a factual record of State Government performances. In 1969-70, the last year of the South Australian Liberal Government, capital expenditure on education was SI 3.8m. This year it will be $20. 6m. In other words, in 2 years the Labor Government has increased capital expenditure on education by 50 per cent. Capital expenditure on education at government schools per child population in South Australia is in fact the highest in Australia. So the Minister’s assertion is the opposite of the truth. But no wonder the Minister is frightened of the truth; for the truth is that it is against the class interests of those people whom the Minister represents to have full education for everybody.
What about recurrent expenditure? In the last year of the South Australian Liberal Government, recurrent expenditure in education was $65m odd. The anticipated expenditure this year is $97m odd. This also is an increase of almost exactly 50 per cent in 2 years. South Australia’s combined capital and recurrent expenditure over the last 2 years has increased at a rate of 40 per cent, faster than any other State in Australia. Not that Western Australia is going badly, but it has had only one year to get over Liberal Government neglect. In the first year of the Labor Government in Western Australia, the total capital allocation for education has been increased by 27 per cent. This incidentally was made clear to the Minister for Education and Science when he visited Western Australia.
As far as the grants at the recent Premiers Conference are concerned, the Minister knows that these funds were specifically provided to stimulate employment. The Commonwealth specifically wanted the money spent now, to relieve unemployment. The Western Australian Government has gladly acceded to the Commonwealth’s request, and is spending” the money on works of a labor-intensive nature. Of course it is not waiting for further schools not yet on the drawing-boards to spend the money. Does the Minister seriously suggest that New South Wales Victoria and Tasmania are going to design, build and pay for new schools before the end of this financial year? It is a preposterous proposition. Their figures could not be genuine. And a final question on this matter: Does the Minister deny that when he visited Western Australia he stated in the presence of the Western Australian Minister of Education that Western Australia’s school building programme appeared to him to be well-advanced and that Western Australia appeared to be doing better than other States?
The facts clearly support the case of the 2 State Labor governments. They have shown that Labor is fair dinkum on increasing educational expenditure. So will the Federal Labor Government be fair dinkum. Labor is also fair dinkum about providing equal opportunities, through education. What this means is, that to those who have less, more shall be given. Under the Liberal Government, the reverse is the case - inequalities are magnified. Take for example the taxation system. The higher one’s income, the greater the taxation deduction. As if the system were not bad enough, the Government increased the maximum deduction from $300 to $400 in the last Budget. And who is going to benefit from that. How many parents of State school children can afford to take advantage of that by spending more than $300 on a child’s education. Very few, if any. The real beneficiaries are the parents of children at the wealthy private schools, the people whom the Liberals represent. These are the wealthy schools that were attended by the Cabinet Ministers and now are being attended by their children. It is a subsidy from the taxpayers to the wealthy schools. It is nothing less than a naked transfer of money from the poor to the rich. The fact that this was no accident was eloquently shown by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) tonight when he revealed a statement from the Government Members Education Committee to the effect that the Committee was in favour of removing the limit altogether on the taxation deduction but it said that it would be impolitic to do so at present. Such is the cynicism of the Liberal Government.
It cannot be argued, as the Minister sometimes has done, that this taxation deduction is a help to children in the depressed rural areas. Farmers incomes are so low that the tax concession is no help, except to a minority of wealthy graziers. If the Government wanted to provide equitable and real help to farmers children, it would do what the South Australian Government has done, namely, provide a direct grant at a level assessed according to needs. The Commonwealth’s programme of science blocks has been subject to a penetrating analysis by my colleague, the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy), who has clearly demonstrated its bias, again in favour of the wealthy private schools. This present Bill is a further example of inequality in that aid to private schools is a flat grant regardless of need. This cannot overcome inequality. If one wants to compensate a child from a poor family to provide an equal opportunity in life, one must discriminate in his favour. With an equal grant to all, the rich child at the well-off private school will finish up still further in front of the deprived child. The South Australian Labor Government acknowledges this fact, and in that State aid to independent schools is apportioned according to need.
The Commonwealth secondary scholarships scheme is another example of encouraging perpetual inequality. This scheme supposedly was devised to help those children to complete their secondary education who would otherwise, through lack of money, have had to leave school. But what has happened? Only a very small fraction of the scholarships is going to the needy. Nearly all the recipients of the scholarships could have afforded to stay at school anyway. Instead of awarding the scholarships on a needs basis, they are awarded accordingly to so-called objective tests. I say ‘so-called’ because the tests have a bias towards the more affluent, too. In passing, let me mention another move by the South Australian Government to overcome inequality in education. There is, as is well known, inequality in government schools between rich and poor suburbs. This is partly due to the subsidy system whereby the Government pays a grant matching whatever the school can raise locally. The schools which raise more - they are in the rich suburbs - get more in subsidy. The South Australian Government has abolished the subsidy system in favour of a system of straight out grants.
The facts are clear. Labor has shown both by its Federal policy and by its performances in government that it is committed to abolishing inequality in education. But let no-one think that the inequality under the Liberals is any accident. The present Minister for Education and Science and his predecessor have both made it clear that inequality is the normal order of things - the natural order - and that we should not interfere. The present Minister told the House this week that if some parents are less concerned than others about their children’s education, the States should not do anything about it. What this means of course is that these children, without special assistance, will grow up, like their parents, without a special concern for education and this attitude will be passed on to their children. Without government assistance, there will be a selfperpetuating paucity of education from one generation to the next. Apparently this is what the Government wants.
I agree that the parents of children at private schools are concerned with their children’s future. A good example of this is the Federal Cabinet. So concerned are members of the Cabinet for their own children that they send them to private schools. That is all that needs to be said for the government schools which this Government claims to be helping so much. The Ministers have so little faith in the government schools that they have all bought their children out of them. But what if these children now at private schools went to government schools? I am sure that their concerned parents would soon see that the government schools were improved, both by their direct effort and through their political influence. This would be a tremendous help to children whose parents were less concerned. Surely, this is not an argument for giving more to the wealthy schools. However, under the present situation, the under-privileged children go to the State schools and more of them drop out before completing secondary schooling. Apparently, according to the Minister for Education and Science, that is how it is supposed to be. This attitude is deliberate. The present Minister’s predecessor made it clear why they must drop out. According to a report in the Australian’ of 29th April 1971 - I have no reason to doubt its accuracy, as it is in quotation marks - relating to the low retention figure for government schools, Mr Fairbairn said:
Not all children need to complete a full secondary course to undertake a chosen career. For example, apprentices and others continue their education at technical colleges as well as people entering a range of commercial occupations.
So it is quite clear. Note the special references to apprentices and technical courses in relation to government schools. Such occupations are not for the elite schools, of course. They are for the lower orders who have to learn to take their place at the work bench to work for their rulers from the private schools, to earn wages to buy back the goods they produced by their labour. If the Government gave everybody a complete education, it would have nobody to do the dirty jobs, because what matriculant or graduate would want to do the tedious, repetitive soul-destroying work which many wage-earners now have to do? Such is the Government’s reasoning. Like it or not, Labor will remove these inequities, and when all children get the opportunity they deserve, they certainly will not want to do the dirty work either. There will be a great questioning of the whole system. There will be a large number of well-educated young people who are not prepared to serve the capitalist machine. 1 will welcome the day when this happens.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! Does the Minister for Education and Science claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, on 2 counts by the previous speaker. Honourable members will know that on ‘Monday Conference’, which has been misinterpreted and misquoted by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) and by one other honourable member, my purpose was to demonstrate that the concern of parents is important in establishing educational opportunity and no matter what governments might do, those children who have parents who are concerned about education will be advantaged compared with those who have not.
– Where have you been misrepresented?
– By the honourable member for Kingston. Another point on which I was misrepresented was when he quoted an alleged conversation that I had with the Western Australian Minister for Education. In fact, in that conversation, which was not a private conversation with the Minister but was witnessed by officials, I argued that the moneys made available by the Premiers Conference should at last be made available to help build additional schools in Western Australia because that Government or that Minister had been saying that they had a considerable requirement for additional school finance. In spite of that-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. The Minister claims that he is replying to a charge that in Western Australia he said that the Western Australian Government was doing a very good job in education. He is not replying to that charge. If he cannot reply to that charge, I suggest he resume his seat.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I ask the Minister not to debate the subject. It is a matter of stating where he has been misrepresented.
-The point the honourable member for Kingston made was that it was alleged that I had said in Western Australia that the Western Australian system of schooling was good. The advances that had been made in Western Australia had been made by the previous government and I was emphasising that the present State Government must show a significant and continuing concern for education by allocating some of the funds from the Premiers Conference to building schools. They have not done that.
Dr GUN (Kingston)- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I did not directly quote the Minister. I will read the part from the Hansard report of last Tuesday’s question time the statement to which I was referring. This is the answer which the Minister gave to a question without notice last Tuesday.
– Read the whole of the answer in Hansard.
– I will read the part to which I was referring. The Minister said:
I can well understand members of the Opposition saying that this question of parental concern is a matter of no moment or of no concern to them because they would believe that government policy and government actions should replace the obligations and responsibilities that in many areas should properly lie with the families themselves. I believe that this is typical of a number of other social attitudes that they adopt in which they suggest that the State can replace family responsibilities. Ths would lead to what could become a breakdown in traditional family values. This is a typical attitude that the Opposition has adopted in a number of areas, believing that government activity can undertake matters which the families properly should do for themselves.
The point I made, I believe, was that in a case where one child’s parents may be less concerned than another’s about their children’s education, the Minister has clearly stated he believes that the Government should not intervene. If the Minister did not mean that, then words have lost their meaning. As to the Minister’s reference to the Western Australian Government, I know whom I would rather believe, in view of this Minister’s record.
– I was amazed to hear the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) say that the policy of the Labor Government in his home State, of South Australia would become a model for the education policy of any future Labor government of Australia. I thought that he would want to disown the South Australian Government’s policy on education, because of the figures. The honourable member seemed to be confused about all the extra funds which were granted to the various States following the last Premiers Conference. He seemed to think that the S4.39m which was granted to South Australia and the S2.99m which was granted to Western Australia were purely for works and housing. I direct his attention to the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in which he announced these grants. He said:
They will have a direct impact-
He was talking about the extra funds which were given. (Quorum formed). It is a well known tactic of members of the Opposition when they are not getting the best of an argument to call for quorums to try to take away the time of honourable members of the Government side who are making their speeches.
– 1 rise to a point of order. If I have contravened the Standing Orders tonight by drawing attention to the state of the House, I ought to be dealt with by the House. The honourable member for Deakin has no right to suggest by innuendo that we use this as a tactic. It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that the numbers are in this House, as was pointed out by the Prime Minister in recent months.
– The honourable member for Deakin will not reflect on an honourable member who has called for a quorum under the Standing Orders.
– In answer to what the honourable member for Sturt has just said, I point out that every member in this House, as a member of Parliament, is paid the same salary and has the same obligation to be in this House to maintain a quorum, and that applies whether he is a member of the Opposition or not, and it is time that the Opposition realised this. What I was saying before the honourable member for Sturt endeavoured to take up my time was that I would not want the policy of the South Australian Labor Government to become the policy of a Federal government. I was pointing out that the honourable member for Kingston seemed to be very much under a wrong impression, because he said that the $4.39m which was given to South Australia and the $2.99m which was given to Western Australia at the last Premiers Conference were given for works and housing. If the honourable member had bothered to listen to the Prime Minister’s speech he would have heard the Prime Minister say this:
They will have a direct impact in increasing employment and will certainly permit the carrying out of additional worthwhile public works projects particularly in the urban areas including hospitals, schools and water supply.
If the honourable member for Kingston had bothered to listen to the Prime Minister’s speech he would have been aware of that. Throughout his speech the matters that he presented as facts were inaccurate. Let us look at what happened. What did South Australia do with (his $4.3 9m? It spent only $400,000 on education, and the Labor Government in Western Australia out of its grant of $2. 99m spent nil on education. If that is the sort of policy on education that the honourable member for Kingston wants adopted in the national sphere - this petty, penny-pinching policy that is adopted in the 2 States controlled by Labor governments - then I do not want to see a Labor government in the Federal sphere, and neither would most of the Australian people, and that will be proven when we go to the election at the end of the year.
We were probably all taken unawares when the Prime Minister announced to the House on 9th December last that the Commonwealth Government would make a grant of $20m for additional capital expenditure by the States on government schools and would increase per capita grants to the independent schools-
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member for Deakin is not entitled to cast reflections on any member in this chamber, and in saying what he did he has cast a reflection on the Prime Minister. I request that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, ask him to withdraw the reflection which he made on the Prime Minister.
– There is no point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
-Order! I will make the decisions while I am in the chair. The honourable member for Deakin did not reflect on any individual member.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. You are a very fair and good Deputy Speaker.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, on the point of order: The honourable member for Deakin did in fact reflect on the Prime Minister. I think it is important that a member of his own Party should not reflect on the Prime Minister.
– No point of order arises.
– I would not reflect on the Prime Minister; I have the highest respect for him. He is a far better Prime Minister than any member of the Labor Party could ever be. We all have come to expect that such actions as were taken by the Prime Minister in December last year are usually taken at Budget time or as a pledge in a policy speech, and I think that it is proof of this Government’s genuine interest and concern for the 2 education systems operating in Australia that this decision was made at that time. There is a fundamental difference in the approach of the Liberal and Country Parties to that of the Labor Party, with its policies of socialisation and compulsion. We as Liberals believe in the element of choice, whether it be in the bank one patronises, the airline on which one travels or the school which one’s child may attend. But the Labor Party still clings to the outdated socialist plank in its platform.
If Labor policies came into effect there would be only one banking corporation, one airline, and certainly under Labor’s policies the independent school system would soon disappear. Children would go to a government school and like it. I well remember when I was a pupil at a State school in Melbourne. Unfortunately, we had a Labor government in Victoria at that time. The depression was on and my parents were not in a position to send me to an independent school, although later, at considerable sacrifice, they did so. I wanted to attend either of 2 high schools which a number of my friends were attending and which were situated within a reasonable distance of my home. But I was told by the bureaucrats of that day that I could not go to either of these high schools. As I lived in a certain area I was zoned - I was told - and I must attend a central school, as it was then called. So. like it or not, attend the central school I did, until my parents, at considerable sacrifice, were able to send me to an inde pendent school. It is my great fear that, if the Labor Parry came to power and introduced its policy on independent schools, and these schools were to fade away as surely they would under a Labor government, children would be forced to go to the schools which the bureaucrats dictated, with no choice for the individual.
It has long been accepted in Australia that education should be free, although one could well ask why education should be singled out to be free and not medical help, dentistry and other essentials. But to say that it is free is not correct. A more correct version would be to say that education is paid for by the taxpayers, irrespective of whether they have children or not. I do not argue with this. But if education is to be free, it should be free to all Australian children as a right, irrespective of the school of their choice, provided that the school maintains required standards and the exercising of that choice does not cost the taxpayer more than if the child were educated at a government school. At the present time only about 75 per cent of children are educated at government schools and something like 25 per cent are, by their parents’ choice, educated at other schools. In other words, government schools have the facilities to cater for only three-quarters of the number of school children in this country.
For the Government to try to provide facilities for all children at government schools would place an impossible, burden on the taxpayer. So much money would need to be channelled to education that social services, defence and other facets of government would go by the board. So it is cheaper for the Government and the taxpayer to continue to subsidise the independent school system. But, as the Prime Minister pointed out in this House on 9th December, independent and church schools are finding increasing difficulties in their efforts to become and remain viable. Teachers salaries have increased considerably and so have other costs. Due to these rising costs this increase in the per capita grant really only restores the position to what it was when the per capita grants were first introduced by this Government several years ago.
The Victorian Minister for Education stated in the Victorian Parliament that it costs the State $333 a year to educate a pupil at primary level and $607 to educate a pupil at secondary level. So parents of children attending government primary schools have fees of $333 paid by the Government for their children, and parents of children attending government secondary schools have fees of $607 paid. But if we add together the per capita grant of the Commonwealth and the grant of the State Government in Victoria we find that children attending independent schools have fees paid by the Government of only $90 at primary level and $108 at secondary level. Surely all Australian children should be treated equally. They are all Australians and their parents are all taxpayers. Provided that children go to a school of a required standard they should be entitled to equal assistance from the Government for the cost of their education. If their parents choose to send them to a school which offers something extra, then that is their choice and they should pay any additional fees involved over and above what the cost would be to the Government of educating these children in a government school. This would be the fairest possible system and one which I believe we should be working towards. It would treat every child equally, it would retain our dual system of education and it would give parents the choice of where their children were educated. It would cost the taxpayer no more than if all children were compulsorily educated in government schools.
There is no doubt that added costs and higher fees are forcing children to move from independent schools into the government schools. In 1965, 26.6 per cent of Victorian children were educated at independent schools. The number had dropped in 1971 to only 24.3 per cent. As a result, government schools and hence the taxpayer - this apparently would please the honourable member for Bendigo - have been required to cater for an extra 2.3 per cent of the school population. We hear much from the Opposition to the effect that the Government system of per capita grants gives aid to wealthy schools. This just shows how little honourable members opposite know of the independent school system. What is a wealthy school? Apparently the Opposition believes that any school which has playing fields, a swimming pool or a gymnasium is a wealthy school. Nothing could be further from the truth. These facilities have probably been put in the school to improve its standards as a result of the contributions of parents and old boys or mothers working in the tuckshop and running various fund raising functions. Surely this kind of parent contribution should be encouraged, not criticised or denigrated as it so often is by the Opposition. This type of parent participation is, of course, not confined to independent schools. Parents with children at state schools also contribute and work to improve the standard of the school. I repeat, this parent participation should be applauded, irrespective of what school it occurs in.
One state school in my electorate has a number of tennis courts which have been constructed by the efforts of parents. Should we pull these facilities to pieces? One state school in my former electorate had a swimming pool. But this does not make them wealthy schools. The only school which, in my book, could be called a wealthy school would be a school which had a large number of interest bearing investments bringing in funds to enable it to keep fees at a reasonable level. I know of no such independent school. Virtually the only source of income for independent schools is the fees they receive from parents, and these are rising steeply - so much so that many parents are finding it impossible, despite their sacrifice, to keep their children at these schools. That is the reason for the drop of 2.3 per cent in the number of children attending independent schools. Surely it would be wrong if fees of independent schools were to rise to such an extent that only the children of wealthy parents could attend these schools. But this is apparently what the Labor Party would like to see. It would be un-Australian and it would be class distinction at its worst, yet that is what the Labor Party’s policy of selective assistance would cause.
The mistake that the Labor Party makes is in thinking that the per capita grants are grants to the school. In fact they are actually grants to parents towards the cost of the fees. If these grants did not exist, the parents would be forced to pay that extra amount in added fees or to take their children away and send them to a government school. As I said before, perhaps that is exactly what the Labor Party wants. It is ridiculous to assume that all parents who send their children to independent and church schools are wealthy. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is certainly not true of the Catholic parish schools and it is not true of those who make great sacrifices to send their children to the larger church schools. At the larger church schools the fees for one child alone, would amount to something like $1,100 a year, yet by sending a child to such a school that parent, who is also a taxpayer, is saving the Government - on the figures of Mr Lindsay Thompson, the Victorian Minister for Education- $607. Surely the position we should be working towards - one realises that it cannot happen overnight - is the situation where each child is entitled to and allotted the $607 towards his education. If the parents want something extra then it is up to them to pay for that extra requirement.
I am particularly concerned at the amendment proposed by the Opposition to the Bill. Not only is this a centralist device to hand over control of Australia’s 10.000 schools to a new Canberra bureaucracy but also it is a Labor Party device to provide no Government assistance to independent schools. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has virtually said as much with his assertion that the proposed commission would consider government schools first. Obviously the Labor Government would see that there would be nothing left for the independent school system. But it is very difficult to find out exactly what the Labor Party’s policy is in regard to education. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate says one thing; the Leader of the Opposition in this House (Mr Whitlam) then disowns Senator Murphy’s interpretation; and the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), the Labor Party’s shadow Minister for Education, goes off on another tangent and calls for a dozen or more committees to be set up in the various States. So where do we stand? What can we say is Labor’s policy in regard to education and independent schools? But one thing is certain: If Labor ever becomes the Government of this country - heaven help Australia if this ever occurs - the death knell will have been sounded for our dual system of education. I conclude my remarks by reading part of a letter which was sent today to all hon ourable members from Victoria by Mrs Margaret Gartland, the Secretary of the Parents and Friends Federation of Victoria. Mrs Gartland is a constituent of mine and she is a woman whom I hold in the highest esteem. The letter reads in part:
The Federation is therefore launching a campaign for a new Education Act. This should be based on the fundamental right of parents to choose the kind of education their children should receive. It should provide for decentralisation of control of schools and much greater parent participation in the running of schools.
I believe that the Parents and Friends Federation of Victoria has set out sound proposals in this letter and after listening to the various Opposition speakers today neither I nor the electors are quite sure what Labor’s policy on education really is. We have heard talk of class from members of the Opposition. This seems to be the only thing they can think of; but one thing is certain and that is that under a Labor government a deep rift would be created in the community between those people whose children attend a government school and those whose children attend an independent schools. But even deeper, as my friend the honourable member for Diamond Valley pointed out, would be the rift created between Catholic independent schools and Protestant independent schools. All children in this country are born equal as Australians. They are all entitled, as of right, to the same opportunities and the same assistance from the Government towards their education.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Hansard will disregard the remarks made by the honourable member after I announced that the honourable member’s time had expired.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill but it seeks to amend it. The Bill provides for an increase in the per capita grants to independent schools by amending the States Grants (Independent Schools) Act which was originally drafted in 1969. The Bill before the House seeks to increase the per capita grants for primary schools from $35 to $50 per annum and for secondary schools from $50 per pupil per annum to $68 per annum. It is well to remember that although there has been a lot of criticism of members of the Australian Labor
Party in this debate, the Labor Party supported the original Bill in 1969 with the same amendment that is proposed tonight. Contrary to what Liberal supporters say when they refer to their welfare programmes, notably in education, it was the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) who, as the Leader of the Federal Labor Party in 1966, proposed that per capita grants to independent schools be made on the basis of $30 per annum for primary school students and $40 per annum for secondary school students. This was in 1966, 3 years before the Liberal Government introduced its first per capita Bill. It was the first time that any major party in Australia had proposed this sort of legislation.
The amendment moved by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) reads:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘The House, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary, and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities’.
The Labor Party believes that this Bill perpetrates inequality in all schools particularly the non-government schools on the basis that grants made by State governments are at variance throughout the Commonwealth. As this Bill introduces a per capita grant over and above the various State grants, there is a continual disparity right throughout the 6 States. It is interesting to note the political implications of this particular debate. The Bill was first introduced in September 1969 and there was an election held in October 1969. Last year the Independent Schools Committee approached the Government for an increase in the per capita grants but the Government refused to grant an increase. This refusal was made even though the Government was under very strong pressure. Now we find that in 1972, an election year, the Government is again seeking to increase the per capita grants. I think it is fair to suggest that the Government is again trying to capture the vote of the Democratic Labor Party that it needs so desperately to be re-elected to office.
This Bill and the debate would be the biggest coat trailing job that the Government has done this year or in fact in the last couple of years. Very rarely do we see so many speakers taking part in a debate. I think I am the eighteenth speaker today. There will probably be about 25 speakers in this debate. The Government seeks to pay an abject insult to the Labor Party in this Bill. By handing out money to the greater public schools as a sop to the DLP, it hopes that it will put the Labor Party in the position of rejecting the Bill and if the amendment is not accepted. The Labor Party understands that, if aid as it is currently given by this shabby Government is not continued the smaller parochial Catholic schools and other denominational schools, will founder immediately. It is interesting to note that the other night the person who led for the Government was the Minister representing Senator Gair in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns). I have never heard such a dastardly speech as his contribution. He must be-
– Mr Speaker, is it a reflection on the Minister for Housing for the honourable member to say that he represents the DLP?
-I would not think so, no.
– I particularly objected to the way that the Minister for Housing handled himself in this House the other night. He is one of those who supposedly espouse the cause of the smaller Catholic schools but he is the greatest political chameleon in the business.
-Order! The honourable member knows that any personal imputations or innuendoes against any honourable member are strictly out of order. I suggest to the honourable member that he comply with the Standing Orders.
– I will pay regard to your ruling, Mr Speaker. It is a pity that you were not the occupant of the chair the other night because the person to whom I referred, the spiritual hatchet man for the Liberal Party, could also have been called to order. I would like to read a few of the things that the Minister for Housing said. In referring to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) the Minister said:
What has the Leader of the Opposition attempted to do? He has attempted to divide government schools against non-government schools. He has introduced principles of rich and poor to divide them–
Not a bad principle - and has then attempted to divide non-government schools on the basis of religion.
The Minister went on to say:
The Leader of the Opposition - gave a talk in the round house at the University of New South Wales. Once again he introduced these artificial divisions, not the clean employer/ employee clash of former days; not the clean clash that one expected from former days, but the new kind of sophisticated sectarianism promoted by the Labor Party.
What the Minister is suggesting is that the Labor Party should oppose this Bill. He wants a clean clash. His interest is to divide this Parliament on its attitude to aid to independent schools. As far as I am concerned he and many others like him in this place use this type of legislation as a mechanism, purely for political purposes. Let us have a look at what the Minister has charged the Leader of the Opposition with, this sophisticated sectarianism and the issue of rich and poor that divide it. I would like the House to consider the money that has been given to the greater public schools in New South Wales. I will read some figures from the report presented under the States Grants (Independent Schools) Act 1969. These are the 18 Greater Public Schools and the total amount of per capita grants paid to them in 1970 and 1971:
Abbot sleigh Church of England Girls’ School, $101,870:
Sydney Church of England Girls’ Grammar School,$67,920;
Scott’s College, Bellevue Hill, $ 108,070;
Kambala Church of England, Rose Bay, $61,950;
The Kings School, Parramatta, $103,590;
St Ignatius College, $70,270;
Ravenswood Methodist School for Girls, $77,320;
Cranbrook School, Bellevue Hill, $77,550;
Frenscham Girls’ School, $31,000.
Methodist Ladies’ College, Burwood, $76,820;
Newington Methodist College, Stanmore, $105,950;
Waverley College, $106,870;
Ascham School of Girls, Edgecliff, $72,250;
St Josephs, Hunter’s Hill, $82,000;
Knox Grammar School, $116,930;
St Aloysius, $80,570.
That totals $1,593,000 in the 2-year period for the 18 greater public schools in New South Wales. This Government has the hide to talk about the Australian Labor Party bringing in a divisive issue on the basis of who is rich and who is poor. I would like to read from an edition of the ‘Australian’ newspaper earlier in the year which gave a summary of GPS schools. This is one that I picked at random. It relates to the Cranbrook school at Bellevue Hill:
THE LOCATION: Cranbrook occupies the grounds of what was the Governor’s residence in Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill, one of Sydney’s exclusive eastern suburbs. Magnificent old stone buildings comprise the main part of the school.
It also owns about five acres of playing fields at Rose Bay and has well-equipped science, music and art facilities.
The main part of the school - ornate old stone buildings strung along a long drive - is quite extraordinarily beautiful. Where the old gardens used to run down to the foreshores of Rose Bay, new buildings have been added, but generally without destroying too much of the beauty of the place.
Except for one (in relation to the rest of the school) hideous science block, the buildings are well-equipped and well-designed. Around the boarding houses, the school has allowed huge old trees to spread, giving an old countrified effect to the area.
As the school has spread, the council has bought up a number of large old houses nearby and these are used for boarders. As one of the best endowed schools in Sydney, it has good facilities, particularly for science and art.
It is still, however, the preserve of the wealthy, and each sports day brings a flock of Jaguars, Mercedes and sports cars fighting for a place directly outside the school.
Are they not doing it tough? I thought that information needed to be brought to the attention of the House because this Bill does not discriminate. The same sort of money as is going to the poor Catholic parochial schools is going on a per capita basis to the greater public schools. The figures I read out did not include library and science blocks grants.
Let me mention some of the schools in my area. At the school I attended, De La Salle college at Bankstown, not too many years ago the children were plodding through mud and ashes in the playground to get to portable timber classrooms. There were inadequate facilities in teaching aids. The buildings generally were inadequately heated. The situation was the same at other schools in the area such as Christ the King at Bass Hill and St Brenda’s at central Bankstown, which are parochial schools. The same situation applies with the government schools in the area. All of the government schools are in the same deprived condition. Some have little wooden hovels for classrooms, hopeless toilet facilities, overcrowded classrooms and lack of teachers. How can we possibly talk about giving the same sort of money to these schools as we give to the schools about which I have just read. It is just preposterous. The honourable member for Fremantle said to overcome the problem the Labor Party intends to introduce an Australian schools commission so that the Commonwealth can determine the needs and distribute money on the basis of needs. The Government pooh-poohs this and regards it as pie in the sky. The Government says that it cannot be done and that it is discriminatory. It discriminates in favour of the poor; that is true.
The honourable member for Fremantle also spoke about the Inner London Educational Authority in Great Britain, which is an organisation similar to the Australian schools commission proposed by the Labor Party. Some of the criteria by which that organisation works in relation to schools are the social class of the personss in the vicinity, the housing stress, the number of large families, the question of poverty, the number of immigrants, the number of handicapped pupils, teacher stress, the hours that teachers have to teach, the subjects and the class sizes, pupil turnover, parental interest and the adequacy of school buildings. These are the things that have to be considered by a schools commission. It is not a mammoth job. We have seen the Australian Universities Commission work successfully, so why should the Government say we are going to set up another useless bureaucracy? We need to set it up so that there is an intelligent distribution of the money going to schools throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. The Minister for Education and Science in his second reading speech said:
Our policy objective for the independent schools is that relying on their own efforts and with assistance from governments they should be ablie to continue to provide an adequate standard of education for that proportion of the school population which has in the past attended independent schools.
The operative words in that little statement are ‘relying on their own efforts’. This
Bill is totally inadequate. The money going to government schools is also totally inadequate. This Government will not allow sufficient money to be allocated to the parents of the pupils and the pupils themselves do not have to go without to see the school keep its head above water.
Figures I have received from an official source show that the cost of educating a secondary pupil in Australia is S450 a year. The Commonwealth is paying out under this Bill $68 per annum for each secondary pupil. That is $68 as against $450. For a primary school pupil the cost is $300, and the Commonwealth is paying out under this Bill $50; previously it was $35. Where does this $50 or $35 - now $68 or $50 - go particularly in the non-government schools which have the added burden of paying lay teachers? Take the non-government schools in New South Wales. In 1962, 19.58 per cent of Catholic schools had lay teachers. In 1968 the percentage had gone up to 40.9. In 1972 the smaller parochial Catholic schools in New South Wales have 48 to 50 per cent lay teachers.
– This is the biggest burden.
– This is the biggest burden, as the honourable member for Riverina says. What if we had to pay the religious teachers? Not a word is ever mentioned about the religious teacher. He has to give his life up to the children and get $15, $20 or $25 a week. Some receive less. They receive just a mere pittance to live on. They are not paid adequately for their services. So where is the Commonwealth’s generosity with these people. Does the Government think that they should be discriminated against? They are all qualified. They have to go to universities. How about more money coming to them? They are forgotten. Very shortly the New South Wales Catholic school system will have to pay superannuation and long service leave to its teachers, who are now being paid State award money. This will be another burden. This miserable $68 that the team across the green carpet here get up and spruik about is just a pittance.
As a member of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party Education Committee I was lobbied here by a group of people who are part of the Catholic education committee in New South Wales. After quite a long conversation with them it became very obvious to me that their interests were those of the greater public schools. They are in fact lobbying to retain the per capita grant. I mention this becauseI am quite certain that their dual influence on the Catholic parents and friends organisation is not a good one and that the general cause of the non-government schools in New South Wales is not well served by this sort of people. I think it is important that I mention this matter because these people consistently bring pressure to retain the per capita grants system. Their argument is that we should not discriminate against children at the larger schools, the basis of the argument being that the parents of pupils at the smaller schools do not try - to use the words of one of the persons who spoke to me. Perhaps they have never thought that some of these parents might be widows, or some of them might be invalided or some of them might have large families. Admittedly, many of the parents of pupils at the smaller schools cannot afford to send their children there. Nevertheless, on the basis of needs, I submit that the Australian schools commission and the policy which we envisage are more appropriate.I think this is the way by which money should be directed to overcome the problems of people with inadequate means.
I would like to illustrate another way in which this Government grandstands. I have a document here beaded ‘Government Members’ Education and Science Committee’. It contains the minutes of a meeting. It contains a little select dinner list. I would like toread through it. I intend to have this paper incorporated in Hansard. It states in part:
Particular attention was given to the means by which the Commonwealth might attract recognition commensurate with the degree of its assistance in the whole field of education. The voucher system was seen as a potentially effective means of giving physical identity to the provision of Commonwealth moneys. Difficulties were envisaged in determining just what funds a voucher system would replace.
It goes on to state:
It was agreed that it was not in the Commonwealth interest for the details of the Survey of Educational Needs to continue to be unavailable and that the sooner we were in a position to judge whether the detailed survey was a sufficient basis for further alternative Commonwealth programming the better. It was decided that the secretary would attempt to prepare by the next meeting a draft submission for the Minister to be considered in his Budget submissions and it was also decided that one of the members would attempt to prepare a more detailed case on the possibilities of the voucher system.
To a lot of people listening tonight that might not mean very much. I read earlier the words ‘what funds a voucher system would replace’. What the Liberal Party is attempting to do by this suggestion is divert Commonwealth money through a voucher system which a parent would get in his or her hand as money to be paid for fees, the voucher bearing the name of the Commonwealth of Australia, not a State. The Government will carve the money from some other allocation and will then say: This Government has given you money and it is directly in your hands with a voucher direct from the Commonwealth of Australia’. This is typical of the Government’s attitude. It is not interested to see whether children get a fair go but merely to ensure that it can push its own barrow on the question of education, particularly in respect of non-denomination schools. It is not concerned with the small and poor Catholic parochial schools. Mr Speaker, I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the Minutes of the meeting of the Government Members’ Education and Science Committee of 27th April 1971 from which I have just read.
– Is leave granted?
– There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Tuesday, 27 April 1971,at1245pm
Mr G. O’H. Giles
Mr M. J. R. MacKellar
The Minutes of 20 April 1971 were confirmed.
Commonwealth’s Role: The Acting Chairmasummarised those matters which had been the subject of major discussions by the Committee or had been put effectively to the Committee by one or more of the delegations recently interviewed. These were the methods by which the Commonwealth should continue to foster educational development; the methods of administering State aid; various forms of tax relief; the Survey of Educational Needs; the mounting pressure for assistance to primary education.
These and related matters were discussed at some length by the Committee. Particular attention was given to the means by which the Commonwealth might attract recognition commensurate with the degree of its assistance in the whole field of education. The voucher system was seen as a potentially effective means of giving physical identity to the provision of Commonwealth monies. Difficulties were envisaged in determining just what funds a voucher system would replace. A likely possibility seemed to bs to offer the States a per capita grant per pupil ^Independent pupil’s per capita grant?) in return for some reduction of the in globo State grants (which include an educational component).
There was a general feeling in favour of raising the ceiling on tax relief for educational expenditure, although it would probably not yet be politic to remove the restriction entirely. The possibility of giving tax relief for educational expenditure at a flat rate on the tax payable, rather than at the marginal rate on taxable income, was considered a useful proposal. It was agreed that it was not in the Commonwealth interest for the details of the Survey of Education Needs to continue to be unavailable, and that the sooner we were in a position to judge whether the detailed survey is a sufficient bases for further or alternative Commonwealth programming, the better.
It was decided that the Secretary would attempt to prepare by the next meeting a draft submission for the Minister to be considered in his budget submissions. It was also decided that Mr MacKellar would attempt to prepare a more detailed case on the possibilities of the voucher system.
The meeting closed at 2.15 p.m.
– I have attempted to highlight the way in which this Government grandstands, particularly with reference to this voucher system. Should this suggestion ever arise again this Parliament should overwhelmingly reject it. As I have said, the Opposition supports the Bill with the amendment proposed. The amendment should be carried because an Australian schools commission is needed to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools alike and recommend grants which .the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities. I commend the amendment to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– I present the Fifteenth Report of the Publications Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Newspaper Report - Education in Isolated Areas - Supersonic Aircraft - Assistance for
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to record my objection to its incorporation. I do not agree with the document being incorporated. I did not hear the Minister approve of its incorporation. I checked with the Whip of my Party whether approval had been granted, and I record my objection to its inclusion in Hansard.
-I asked the Deputy Leader of the House and approval was given for the incorporation of the document in Hansard.
– I wish to refer to a matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) at question time this morning. He referred, in his question to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), to a statement allegedly made by Senator Sim in Singapore on Wednesday. The story had been cabled to the Melbourne ‘Sun’ by Mr Bruce Wilson and appeared on page 4 of this morning’s issue. As reported in the ‘Sun’, Senator Sim is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, member of the Joint Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Committee’s SubCommittee on the Indian Ocean. The article was headlined, ‘P.M. stupid over China: Liberal’ and had this to say:
A senior member of the McMahon Government today dismissed the Prime Minister’s latest statement on relations with China as, ‘unwise, in fact stupidity’.
He described as ‘stupidity’ Mr McMahon’s statement last Sunday that an invitation from Peking for a visit by an Australian Minister would be welcome.
How can it be wise to just offer them a Minister?’ Senator Sim asked.
There was no point in blindly accepting China’s terms on any visit by an official Australian party.
Dealing with mainland China needs caution or even over-caution. If we accept an invitation on their terms, and theirs only, they will have no respect for us’, he said.
Referring to recent attempts at contact between China and Australia, Senator Sim said he was appalled by the thought that two businessmen brothers could have been acting for the Australian Government in China or that their opinion seemed to carry weight. ‘Sending Andrew Peacock (Territories Minister) to China would be really stupid’, he said. ‘It would be sending a boy to a country where age is venerated and respected’.
So far so good. It is the Government’s concern that a senior senator should choose to attack his Prime Minister and denigrate one of the Liberal Party’s few hopes, the Minister for External Territories. It is the next comment that takes it out of the area of legitimate political controversy and enters the field of overt racism and anti-semitism.
Senator Sim was quoted as saying:
Besides, when did Australian Foreign Policy rest in the hands of two Manchester Jews?’
This was apparently a reference to brothers, Brian and James Kibel who have negotiated with the Chinese for the Australian Government. Mr Speaker, this is a most incredible statement to come from any member of the
Australian Parliament. What is even more incredible is that so far not one member of the Liberal-Country Party coalition has bothered to disown Senator Sim. I cannot imagine that any member of the Government could be so insensitive to the full implication behind this statement as to have not disassociated himself from it. The Prime Minister said nothing. The Foreign Minister (Mr N. H. Bowen), in his inimitable bumble footed manner, completely ignored it and appeared smugly pleased with his arrogant answer to the Deputy-Leader’s question. As yet those in the Liberal Party who have earned a reputation for small ‘l’ liberalism have been strangely quiet. I am sure that you, Sir, representing a large portion of Sydney’s Jewish population will be aware of the damage that would have been done to the Liberal Party’s reputation. The work you have done to rid the Liberal Party of its reputation as a bastion of extreme right wing views will be greatly wasted.
For those who are too insensitive or dimwitted to appreciate the full implication of Senator Sim’s outburst let me explain. The Senator obviously considers that the fact that Messrs Kibel could be labelled as Manchester Jews’ was sufficient to discredit their credentials. Being from Manchester was bad enough, but being Jewish too was the final straw. I can imagine that had they been Brisbane Baptists, Loudon Anglicans, Washington Episcopalians or Los Angeles Lutherans it would have been perfectly all right for them to have negotiated on behalf of the Australian Government. But, Manchester Jews - God forbid!
Senator Sim will live to regret his intemperate outburst or I shall be deeply disappointed in the Australian people and in this Parliament. It should not require a member of the Opposition to point out the disgusting tactics of the Senator who obviously feels that it is sufficient to announce that the Kibel brothers were Manchester Jews to destroy their reputation. I understand that Mr Brian Kibel has stated that he will not take any action against Senator Sim because he considers it a compliment. It is a pity Senator Sim had not meant it as a compliment. This country needs more Kibels and less Sims. To add to the embarrassment of our dear ‘Dim Sim’ it turns out that Messrs Kibel are not Jewish and are not from Manchester. I am informed that they were both born in England and are Anglican, although a great grandfather may have been Jewish. As Senator Sim has not worried about people’s feelings, why should he waste his time with getting his facts straight?
Mr Speaker, the LiberalCountry Party recently has been under very serious charges of infiltration from an extreme right-wing racist, anti-semitic group known as the League of Rights. In fact in this morning’s ‘Age’ appeared a letter to the editor about the failure of the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) to speak out. I, for one, have a personal regard for the honourable member for Diamond Valley because I consider him to be one of the brightest hopes for the Liberal Party and one of the more liberal members of it. I hope that he will speak out and answer the charge in the ‘Age’.
Last year the League of Rights played on dormant racist feelings in the community by its overt support of the South African sporting teams and it attempted to gain some political mileage over minor changes in the Labor Party’s immigration policy. All it needs is to be branded as anti-semitic and any doubts as to the direction it is heading in the political spectrum will be removed forever. The Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) had the courage to make a statement on the League of Rights. The Prime Minister and every member of the Liberal-Country Party worth his salt must publicly denounce Senator Sim and ask for his public apology or his resignation from the Senate.
in the House today. When referring to this report of a statement made by Senator Sim, he advised that until we are given the full facts and the circumstances, and until we know precisely what it was that Senator Sim said, it would be unwise to become too definite or too censorious.
I feel that the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), who has just spoken, has accepted a newspaper report at completely face value. I would add to the instances of misreporting given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that I was misreported on several occasions overseas.
To my utter astonishment words not even remotely like the words I used were ascribed to me. Happily they were not serious in the sense that these words are serious. But I would be surprised if the words attributed to Senator Sim, as quoted in the House tonight, were not in some other vein altogether, or indeed were not put into his mouth. This will remain to be seen. I rise simply to say that during the official course of this delegation Senator Sim, like others in the delegation, never spoke a word out of turn although subjects such as the visit to Peking were discussed frequently throughout the journey. I can only say that I am astonished by the report and am waiting to hear from Senator Sim himself before making any further comment.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (11.13)- I would like to present a case for assistance to those children who cannot go to school. I am referring to the children of parents who live in isolated areas. Most of the parents in these areas have formed themselves into an association known as the Isolated Children Parents Association which represents the most educationally isolated districts in the Commonwealth. The purpose of the Association is to bring to the attention of the public and the Government the isolated rural child’s lack of educational opportunities and how children beyond daily reach of school are grossly neglected educationally. Their education must be gained by either living away in order to attend school or correspondence lessons in the home. Living away means an added expense of between $400 and $1,000 and more per annum per child and, of course, some parents have 4 or 5 children of school age. However, their taxation allowance for education is the same as that of parents whose children do not incur any accommodation fee. It is claimed that the cost for parents with 3 children living away while attending secondary school would amount to $1,200 to $5,400 a year, and this does not include books, uniforms or fares.
Everywhere I travel in my electorate I am approached by parents of these children asking that our governments, both State and Federal, give some consideration to the problem of these children. Only today the honourable member for Riverina (Mr
Grassby) referred me to some correspondence that he had received on the matter. It expresses the tragic circumstances of these people. The letter deals wilh an answer which the writers received from the State Minister for Education and says in part:
Then he suggested sending the children to NSW schools. Yes, we have 2 children at NSW schools and let’s face iti The marvellous subsidy we receive a mere $117 per year, we can only alford to send 2 children away as to get down to bare facts, we have to find another seven hundred dollars for each child per year. Or does he not realise that to send an isolated child to school boarding fees are anywhere from $20 to $30 per week without extras and our children do not have any unnecessary extras as we just have not the cash.
Yos, he has marvellous suggestions but after paying out two death duties for the past six years and it is still not closed up yet, droughts and now low wool prices, where oh where! Where does the cash come from to pay for boarding fees for the rest of our 6 children? Looks as if there will be thousands of country children sadly lacking in education if we do not receive help soon and I mean very soon as believe me the people in the country areas are very worried indeed, as we just cannot see how we can educate our children.
And so it goes on. The Government’s lack of provision of accommodation has made suitable boarding facilities difficult to find except at independent schools. Correspondence schooling with today’s complexity of education makes an unfair and an often impossible demand on the mother’s time and a further drain on near non-existent income if a governess is employed. I have presented many petitions to this Parliament, each one containing hundreds of signatures. These petitions clearly point out the injustice being done to the children who cannot go to school. I have not heard anyone oppose the case of these children. However, their parents are getting sick and tired of waiting for some assistance. Surely they do not have to pitch their tents on the lawns in front of Parliament House before any notice is taken of them.
A child who has daily access to school is eligible for free transport and schooling regardless of its parents’ income. The children who live beyond daily reach of school - they represent a fraction of the nation’s school children - are not granted free travel and what assistance is granted is subject to a means test. To prevent these children joining the ranks of unemployed and those nearly unemployable because of their low educational standard, immediate assurance of aid must be given to parents, to schools and to hostels to ensure that these children can complete their education. It is not right that children of parents who are financially destitute should be condemned to face fife educationally destitute. This position will not ease until financial responsibility for education is taken by governments and until they acknowledge their educational obligations and provide for education for all school children. The average rural family is larger than its urban counterpart and this again places a heavier burden on the isolated parent who must find finance for boarding children in order to give them access to school. In most cases these parents have from 2 to 4 children living away from home simultaneously in order to attend school and have to meet fees ranging from $400 to $800 per annum per child.
This lack of foresight in the nonprovision of accommodation at rural high schools has aggravated the situation and led to a transitional reliance on independent boarding schools. Rising fees at these schools are placing them beyond the reach of most rural parents. While there are a few independent hostels in rural areas, these are not adequate for the numbers of children requiring accommodation. Living away allowances are granted in some States but these are hopelessly inadequate and are subject to a means test. In addition they vary from State to State. The means test on these allowances needs to he relaxed or abolished and the same applies to bursaries and scholarships granted by the States. There is no means test for entry to government schools or for bus travel, yet one is applied to the meagre living away allowance which is at present given by the States to children forced to live away from home in order to attend school. Some of the things that the parents of isolated children are asking for are as follows:
That the Government be asked for subsidy of$1 for $2 for running costs of hostels. 6. (a) That travelling allowances for taking children to school or bus daily, weekly or monthly be 7.5c per mile per vehicle.
On the subject of education I wish to draw the attention of the House to the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 3) of 1971, the amendment of which provides for a taxation allowance of $400 for students.
– Order! The honourable member will not be allowed to canvass a Bill at present before the House.
– I am sorry, I thought it had been before the House. Legislation was introduced to allow a taxation deduction of $400. The point I am making is that a widow with a child from the age of 16 years to 21 years gets benefits, but after the child turns 21 there is no benefit for him. I think this is inconsistent and smacks of one law for the rich and another law for the poor.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– All honourable members of this House must be receiving, as I am, protests from conservation bodies on a national or State level and from their own constituents protesting about proposals to give permission for supersonic land overflight corridors across Australia and permission for airlines to land supersonic transports - SSTs - in Australia. There is also the possibility that Qantas will purchase 4 Concordes. People in my electorate who have constantly petitioned this House for the removal of Perth Airport from its present site and the installation of a night curfew on flights are vitally concerned with this issue because of the Commonwealth Government’s intention to expand the Perth Airport, virtually in the heart of Perth suburbs. They note that with the Concorde comes a very high level of airport noise and a high pollution effect is alleged. A Concorde’s recent flight to South America proved that it cannot meet Federal Aviation Authority requirements either for noise or overpressure. Concorde flights over Cornwall resulted recently in sonic boom produced over a wide boom track. It was highly destructive, resulting in claims amounting to about $stg50 a mile of paid flight. Subsequently insurance companies acted in a scandalous manner and introduced in their insurance proposals clauses safeguarding them against such damage claims.
Let us not be naive enough to suppose that insurance companies in Australia will not act in a similar manner. They will move quickly to protect themselves, and when they do, who is to pay? It is unlikely that it will be the Government or the airlines. In Western Australia the then Liberal Government legislated to prevent citizens from suing airlines for such damage, provided they were complying with government instituted Acts and regulations. Citizens are virtually powerless and unprotected against government decisions which lead to their discomfort. The Government’s consideration of 2 corridors, one for east-west traffic and another for west-east traffic, is unopposed as far as the ordinary citizen is concerned.
The corridors would need to be 50 miles wide, the distance over which sonic booms travel. But the alarming point is that the so-called uninhabited area where the corridors commence on the Western Australian coast is near Broome and it goes to Cobar, 439 miles from Sydney across our developing northwest, adding further problems for pioneers of our north; then it crosses the Alice Springs area and passes across the northwest of New South Wales. We can only hope that common sense will prevail and the corridor will never be established, even as a test, for tests seem to gloss over the facts in reports to the public, and companies, whether they are aircraft manufacturers or airline operators, make efforts to sell their products. The 2 corridors would equal a 100-mile strip or approximately 170,000 square miles of Australia, 5 per cent of the area of our nation to be affected by an unnecessary nuisance.
The American public have rejected them as have the English public. The United States Government has rejected them. Surely this Government will take its customary course and follow some other nation. It is disastrous that in the one field in which we may become a leader we are to give landing rights to international flights by SSTS at our airports such as Perth, thus not only boosting the sale of Concordes to Qantas but also to other airlines for it has been reported that aircraft salesmen say that if one aircraft is sold, 200 will be sold on the basis of keeping up with the competition.
What has been preventing sales and the subsequent use of these aircraft has been the lack of co-operation from governments concerned about the welfare of the people they represent in refusing overflight permission on land routes; but not the Australian Government. It is the first to be reported to have offered overland routes and landing facilities. This is consistent with its attitude over a long period, yet it has the impertinence to put out a booklet called ‘Action Against Aircraft Noise’ which refers to noise abatement procedures by aircraft and land zoning. We know all about that through the Newburn scandal, where land was resumed at bedrock prices. The booklet also refers to noise exposure forecasts, aircraft noise certification and restricted scheduling of aircraft at certain airports between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. But that is not so at Perth, one of the most affected airports. The booklet goes on to say that the Department of Civil Aviation is very much aware of the problems presented by aircraft noise but there is not one word about SST flight plan proposals. It is a public relations effort designed to lull the public into believing that all is being done on their behalf. Even a short paragraph would have been enough to indicate an awareness of the problem. It would have been welcomed, but instead there is sinister silence.
Let us look at what the Concorde has to offer the travelling public. At Fairford the French and British prototypes 001 and 002 took off and landed within 5 minutes of each other. They left a covering of smoke and fumes that was still present IS minutes later. This occurred over a wider area than happens with other aircraft, due to the longer runway needed. If any one of the cars bringing passengers to the airport had excessive exhaust emission it would be put off the road. Why should not aircraft be banned in similar circumstances, or departure points shifted to areas where there is no effect on population or ecology? An aircraft is being offered to the public which has only snob value, for the operational costs are so high - in fact 3 times as high - that a $700 subsonic economy flight would cost about $2,200 for the same supersonic journey.
The high fuel consumption of the Concorde means more refuelling stops, greatly reducing any airspeed advantage. In a newsletter issued by the British Aircraft Corporation on the Concorde’s South American trip it was stated that the flying time from Toulouse to Cayenne was 5 hours, as against 8 hours for a subsonic flight. It left out the facts. The subsonic trip is non-stop while the Concorde was on the ground at Sal in the Cape Verde Islands for refuelling for 1 hour 58 minutes. The Concorde took 6 hours 58 minutes for the trip and a non-stop subsonic jet would take only 1 hour longer.
In the Concorde there is a lack of passenger space. It is reported that it is almost impossible to provide the passenger comfort, galley and toilet facilities necessary for long flights. One report says that the Concorde resembles nothing more than a flying pencil. Its tubular cabin is so low and narrow that a person needs to stoop as he moves down the aisle between the seats. If the Concorde represents a step forward in terms of speed, it represents a leap backward in passenger comfort and world safety standards. It is not too late to take note of informed public opinion. It is important that the general public is more fully informed on the implications of the granting of night paths and landing rights.
It is to be hoped that ali information and research in this field is made public and that people who will be affected along the flight paths and adjacent to airports have a say in their future environment. Let us not have mandatory decisions being made by Ministers. Let the people of the northwest, the Northern Territory, Perth and New South Wales have a say before millions of dollars of taxpayers money are expended on catering for these ecology threatening monsters.
– I rise on 2 matters tonight. The first matter follows the sincere exposition and statement which were made by my friend the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen). I am very jealous of the good reputation of the Parliament and the nation, and I think this is a matter to which we should have paid a little more attention. 1 was very disappointed with the reply by the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay), who is sitting at the table. I say this because while it may well be that the case is at this stage unproven there are 2 points that should be made. Firstly, it is a serious matter to make a racial or anti-Semitic statement in a multi-racial community such as Singapore as a senior supporter of the Government and indeed as a senior member of the Parliament.
– If he made it.
– 1 want to make the point that this is a very serious matter, if proven. The Minister indicated that he had doubts as to whether this statement had been made. I hope for the sake of the Parliament and the nation that the statement was not made but I feel that it would have been right and proper for the Minister to make one statement tonight that he neglected to make. He should have made it very clear on behalf of the Government, as we would make it very clear on behalf of the Opposition, that any anti-Semitic references at any time in our community are completely and absolutely unacceptable. Racism and bigotry should have no part, and I feel this is something-
– It is totally unnecessary for that to be made on behalf of the Government. Its attitude is well known.
– My Speaker, I draw attention to the fact that a most serious statement has been reported. I am not accepting the report by any means. I am giving you the point that this matter has to be properly investigated. I am making this point very clearly now. I am asking also that the results of the investigation be conveyed to this House by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). The Minister at the table has heard the remarks of the honourable member for Robertson. I am making the point to the Minister, very properly I hope through the Chair, that there should be an investigation - a clearing up of (his matter.
The Prime Minister should order and undertake an investigation and a report should be made to this House. If in fact the statement was not made this will be welcomed by all of us. If the statement was made there should be a call for an apology and indeed a resignation by a member of the Australian Parliament who would indulge in that sort of conduct while on an official mission. I am not prejudging the issue. I want to emphasise that point. But I hope that the action that has been requested tonight in the chamber will in fact be taken.
The second matter to which I wish to refer concerns 4,000 landholders and irrigators in New South Wales who are in a state of revolt against impositions which they are unable to meet. It must be the first time in the history of the State that so many people have served notice on government that the charges and imposts made by government which have increased their burdens are unjust and cannot be met. I draw the attention of the House tonight to this position tonight because there is a responsibility on the national Government to give a lead in helping to lift or relieve some of the burdens on primary producers at this time and in these categories.
Let me refer to the revolt of 600 settlers affiliated with the Closer Settlement Association of New South Wales. These are 600 families who had been settled on the land by government. Members of the Association have seen the Premier, the Deputy Premier and the Leader of the Country Party. They have, to quote their communication, received sympathy from all but no assistance’. They are seeking in fact a reduction of rents on blocks selected since 1960. The 600 members in revolt remember very well that Mr Lewis, the New South Wales Minister for Lands, and the State Minister for Agriculture on 2 occasions in 1960 and 1963 attacked the then government for raising rents from2½ per cent to 5 per cent. The Minister for Lands spoke with feeling and passion in Opposition. He said settlers would fail and that the doubling of rent would be disastrous. He was right. But now Mr Lewis is the Minister for Lands and he has the responsibility. What he has done, of course, is to run away from his own words. He has change his mind and forgotten his compassion for the struggling settlers. He has told them to pay up. The collection of the rents means about $280,000 to the State. But in a time of rural recession - and I quote the words of the Closer Settlement Association - the ‘settlers cannot pay’.
Already the Government is at least this amount behind each year in uncollected and in many cases uncollectable rents. The continued advice given to farmers is to apply individually to the Rural Assistance Board. Yet the New South Wales Minister has said that, unless the Federal Government makes more money available, applicants, whether their applications are reasonable or not, will not be able to receive assistance. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) knows this is the position; he has admitted that this is the position at the present time. So the Federal Government has a direct responsibility in this matter.
The revolt by the 600 settlers was decided upon at Dubbo when the Closer Settlement Association of New South Wales determined to withhold all rents until the reduction is effected. This is a direct challenge to the State Government; it is a most serious one. My request tonight is to the Federal Government to raise this matter of the settlers when Federal-State talks on rural reconstruction are resumed. This is an urgent matter. It is one that should be examined as part of those talks. The 600 families to whom I have referred are not the only people involved in this case. There are also between 3,000 and 3,500 water users in irrigation areas and districts who have revolted as well in a unique way.
Despite all the rural difficulties, the State Government sought to increase water charges by 50 per cent. This increase was contested and the State Government said: Oh, well we will increase the charges by only 21 per cent’. But this still means that between $500 and $600 is still being owed in bills which in half the cases are not being paid anyway. So the irrigators have gathered in protest meetings in Whitton, Finley and Hay. They have now resolved that no increase in water charges can be paid. They cannot pay and they will not pay. They have revolted against this impost. Again this is another direct confrontation with revenue hungry government. Across the New South Wales countryside, nearly 4,000 people are in direct confrontation with and revolt against this government impost.
I ask the Minister at the table to ensure that the Minister for Primary Industry takes steps to raise these matters at the resumption of the Federal-State Government conference on rural assistance. These are matters of urgency; they are matters that touch 4,000 settlers. I think that the matters I have raised should be dealt with at this conference in an urgent and specific way. These people are entitled to have help. I ask that the help be given.
Motion (by Mr Giles) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bouse adjourned at 11.37 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
At the time the voluntary health insurance scheme was introduced, the weekly contribution rates (family) for public and intermediate ward hospital insurance operated by the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales were as follows: -
The dates on which subsequent alterations to the family contribution rates were made, and the new weekly contribution rates following each such alteration were as follows: -
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
New South Wales
Two degree awards were introduced following approval by the Stale Minister for Education and Science on the recommendation of the Advanced Education Board.
New South Wales Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Engineering: major studies leading to this award may, be undertaken in civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical and production engineering, and structural engineering.
Mitchell College of Advanced Education
Bachelor of Business: major studies leading to this award may be undertaken in accountancy, economics, industrial and commercial management and public administration.
The degree of Bachelor of Pharmacy was first awarded by the Victoria Institute of Colleges in 1968. Nineteen degree courses for colleges of advanced education in Victoria were approved gy the Council of the Victoria Institute of Colleges for commencement in 1971.
Caulfield Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Applied Science (Applied Chemistry)
Bachelor of Applied Science (Applied Physics)
Bachelor of Applied Science (Mathematics)
Bachelor of Business (Accountancy)
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering)
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering)
Bachelor of Engineering (Communication Engineering)
Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical Engineering)
Swinburne College of Technology
Bachelor of Applied Science (Applied Chemistry)
Bachelor of Business (Accountancy)
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering)
Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)
Bachelor of Engineering (Production Engineering)
Victorian College of Pharmacy
Bachelor of Pharmacy (introduced in 1968)
Gordon Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Applied Science (Applied Chemistry)
Bachelor of Applied Science(Textile Chemistry or Textile Technology)
Bachelor of Architecture
Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical Enginering)
The Ballarat Institute of Advanced Education
Bachelor of Applied Science (Applied Chemistry)
asked the Minister for Edu cation and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Details of special provisions made by the States to assist parents of children living in remote areas are included in my Department’s publication entitled ‘Government Grants, Allowances and Subsidies for Primary and Secondary Schools and their pupils’. This booklet was issued late last year and I have made arrangements for a copy to be sent to the honourable member.
Whilst the Commonwealth periodically reviews the amount of financial support given to the States by way of general purpose funds and also through programmes of direct assistance, it should be remembered that the States have a significant responsibility in education. Under the terms of the Commonwealth/State Financial Agreement the Commonwealth provides general purpose funds to the States which can be used as they see fit.
These regular avenues of financial support to the States are supplemented on occasions by special additional grants such as the $30m which the Prime Minister recently announced will be made available for State and independent schools.
Proposals put to me by organisations representing parents of children in remote areas have bugetary implications and must be considered within the general context of Commonwealth assistance to students and in the light of priorities relating to the distribution of funds allocated for education purposes. However, I am not unsympathetic to special claims of these children for assistance and I shall keep under examination ways in which the Commonwealth may assist in raising the level of educational facilities and opportunities available to them.
Social Responsibility in Science (Question No. 4828)
asked the Minister for
Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Convention on Consular Relations (Question No. 4978)
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
What progress has been made towards ratifying the Convention on Consular Relations which was done at Vienna on 24th April 1963 and signed for Australia on 31st March 1964 (Hansard. 28th April 1971, page 2211).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The scope and form of legislation prerequisite to ratification is still under active consideration.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian Embassy - Paris Peace Talks (Question No. 5102)
asked the Minister for
Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
What function have Australian representatives fulfilled in connection with the Paris peace talks since:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian Embassy in Paris - Visits by Dr Kissinger (Question No. 5101)
asked the Minister for
Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Was Ambassador Anderson or any other person at the Australian Embassy in Paris informed that Dr Kissinger, President Nixon’s adviser for national security affairs, had visited Paris on a dozen occasions since 4th August 1969 for negotiations with representatives of North Vietnam; if so, who in the Embassy was informed, when and by whom.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Governmental exchanges on the Paris peace talks are confidential in nature and must necessarily remain so.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
What is the-
What proportion of this area and coastline will actually be occupied by the buildings and other facilities proposed to be erected for the Naval Base.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) 2,903 acres.
The area which will be used in the present development is approximately 600 acres and will encompass approximately 5 miles of the coastline. However it is to be noted that less than 50 per cent of the island is considered to be suitable for the erection of buildings; Navy’s future plans envisage use of most of this area.
Garden Island Naval Base: Western Australia (Question No. 5098)
asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Garden Island Naval Base: Western Australia (Question No. 5099)
asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice:
What public access for recreation purposes is it proposed to allow when construction of the second stage of the Garden Island, W.A., naval facility has been (a) commenced and (b) completed?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I invite the honourable member’s attention to a reply given on this subject by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives on 2nd March (Parliamentary Debates, 2nd March 1972, pages 476 to 477).
Visit by President of Indonesia (Question No. 5116)
asked the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Senate - 13 out of 26 ALP senators.
House of Representatives - 25 out of 59 ALP members.
This included the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Parliament was not sitting at the time.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 March 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720309_reps_27_hor76/>.