27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth: That the undersigned believe . . .
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, Skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist.
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that . . .
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least S240m.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries. by Mr Peacock, Sir John Cramer, Mr Griffiths, Mr Hamer, Mr Jarman, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Morrison, Mr Reid, Mr Scholes and Mr Turner.
To the Honourable the 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 wilh 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, specialist 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.
Ten 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 Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public enquiry 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. by Mr Calwell, Dr Cass, Mr Marner, Mr Jacobi and Mr Lloyd.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned residents of the State of Western Australia respectfully showeth:
That the present site of the Perth Airport is unsuitable because of -
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that action be taken to remove Perth airport from its present site to the site planned by Professor Stephenson’s overall plan for the city of Perth, that is at Lake Gnangarra
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they are deeply disturbed at the attitude and lack of regard of the Commonwealth Government and the Nabalco Alumina Company towards the cultural upheaval caused to the Aborigines.
That they have a sense of shame at the treatment being meted out to the Aborigines and believe that the ‘ strong resentment expressed in recent public demonstrations by these people arises directly from their frustration and despair at not being taken seriously.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government to honour the mandate given in the 1967 Referendum to legislate in favour of these Australians obtaining their full Tights.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Jarman.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. Has he seen a report in today’s ‘Australian’ that he had visited Sir Robert Menzies recently to secure advice on how to win elections? If so, is there any truth in the statement? Is there any justification for a man named Alan Ramsey, who acquired some notoriety here a little while back, to write such a story? Worst of all, is it a fact that one of his senior Ministers leaked this information to Mr Ramsey?
– I think it is well known - I certainly saw it reported over 10 days ago - that I did pay a courtesy visit to Sir Robert Menzies in his home.
– What did you talk about?
– I think that if the honourable member had been there he would have been delighted to listen to Sir Robert because he has lost none of his old form and is one of the best conversationalists that I or my wife have ever talked to. I think I can assure the honourable member that Sir Robert talked to her just as much as he did to me, not about my problems.
– Did he talk to her about her problem?
– The honourable member would want to gossip about everyone’s problems. He is a somewhat different person from Sir Robert Menzies. This will always be so.
As to the substance of what was published in today’s paper, [ can assure the right honourable member that it is totally false. I did not go to seek any advice from Sir Robert Menzies but I had a most interesting conversation with him.
– Did he give you any advice?
– I can assure the honourable gentleman that if he paid Sir Robert Menzies a visit he would find that he was just the same pleasant conversationalist. He was in a very good mood; he had lost none of his punch; and I enjoyed myself immensely.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware of the affection with which the Royal Australian Navy is held in the fair city of Adelaide? Is he aware that there are in the RAN fleet the ships ‘Sydney’, Melbourne’, ‘Perth*, ‘Brisbane’ and Hobart’? Will the Minister assure me that he will do his utmost to see that one of the new destroyers will be named HMAS Adelaide’?
– It is true that whenever ships of the Royal Australian Navy visit our ports they are made welcome by the people. I feel that their relationship with particular cities is of great importance to the morale not only of the Navy but of the people of Australia. I personally have a great desire to see the name HMAS ‘Adelaide’ continued in the fleet. I remember with affection the old HMAS ‘Adelaide* of the last war. She was a beautiful ship and had delightful lines. She was one of the most pleasant warships I have ever seen at sea and I would like to see ships in the future carry the name HMAS ‘Adelaide*.
– And she was built in Australia.
– She was built in Australia and I trust that that will be a continuing precedent. With regard to the names of other ships that we are developing, I trust that a number of other cities will find that they not only have an association with them in terms of the names given to the ships but also will feel a special bond of relationship and interest in the activities and careers of their name ships and the men in them. I thank the honourable member for the suggestion. I can assure him that it is very much in the minds of other people also as to how soon we can have an HMAS Adelaide’.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Army and refer to correspondence about the area of land occupied by the Army at Swanbourne. Does the Minister agree that the situation of this camp and rifle range means a long detour for motorists travelling along the coast road? Does he not agree that this camp and land could be just as usefully situated in another area thus making the land available for residential and public purposes? Has he considered this proposition? If it is not proposed to shift the camp at this stage, will he agree to allowing the coast road to pass through the camp?
– I wish that I were able to give something a little more definite in reply to the honourable member for Stirling since we discussed this matter previously. I was able to get a bird’s eye view of this particular area because we flew over it in a helicopter when I was over there. I certainly agree that a coastal road around the Swanbourne area would be most desirable. Unfortunately there have been very prolonged discussions about this matter, primarily with the City of Nedlands Council, and now, as I think the honourable mem ber will agree, we are getting down to material discussions - I admit they are a little prolonged - with the Perth Metropolitan Regional Planning Committee. That is an excellent body of people who are taking a constructive point of view wherever possible.
I would like to be able to say that we will be able to move this training area but the Australian Regular Army, the Citizen Military Forces, the cadets and other people are using the rifle range and the area. Quite honestly, at the moment, I do not see an alternative to retaining the site. I must agree that it is most desirable to have this coastal road from the northern to the southern suburbs. I assure the honourable member, most decisively, that I will make every attempt to step up the tempo of the investigations into this matter in an endeavour to come to some compromise so that this road can be constructed.
– Can the Prime Minister advise this House when the Government will be in a position to announce a decision in respect of the report of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits legislation?
– I have had discussions with my colleague, the Minister for Defence, on the DFRB report and he has made certain recommendations to me. In a large part, the recommendations made by the Jess Committee have been accepted but there are parts of the report in relation to which it is believed that further discussions should take place probably at Cabinet level or a Cabinet sub-committee level. I will be further discussing this matter with my colleague, the Minister for Defence, today and I hope to be able to give the honourable gentleman a much fuller reply within the course of the next few days.
– My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry. He will no doubt recall that last week I sent him a telegram on behalf of the fruit industry in Tasmania expressing the industry’s outrage at the imposition by the Danish authorities of a 20 per cent levy on exports of Tasmanian fruit for this season. 1 now ask the right honourable gentleman whether he is in a position to state in unequivocal terms what the Government’s attitude is to this imposition. Will he be in a position to assure the industry, which is already experiencing most grave difficulties, that some positive action will be taken?
– The honourable member forwarded a telegram to my office last week when I was out of Canberra, and my Department has been asked to have a look at this situation and to advise me about it. Unfortunately I have not received a report from my Department. I will immediately examine the matter and advise the honourable member.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration and relates to the Asians who have been ordered to leave Uganda and the suggestion that Britain may approach Australia to accept some of these people. In view of the concern of the vast majority of Australians to preserve their homogeneous population and way of life In line with European traditions, will the Minister ensure that the Ugandan Asians are not permitted entry to Australia?
– The Government has not received any such approach and it would not expect to do so. Applications by Asians in Uganda will continue to be considered on their individual merits in accordance with our non-European immigration policies. These policies reflect the firm and unshakeable determination of the Government to maintain a homogeneous society in Australia.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. My question arises from the decision to refuse to renew the passport which on advice from Canberra in 1967 had been issued to Mr O’Donnell, who is the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs in Southern Rhodesia. I ask him why the opportunity was not taken to recall the still current passports later issued to Lieutenant-Colonel Knox and Air Vice Marshal Hawkins, who represent the Smith regime in Portugal and South Africa, as the passport was withdrawn from Mr Rover, a former Yugoslav, as he was passing through Canada 3 months ago. Was it not thought appropriate to withdraw their passports on the same ground as the Minister gave in the House for withdrawing Mr Rover’s passport - that it was not in Australia’s international interests to have his travel facilitated by the Australian Government?
– The decision not to renew Mr 0’Donnell’s passport was, as I announced at the time, based on the fact that be is an official of a regime not recognised by the Australian Government. In this respect Australia acted in accordance with the terms of the United Nations resolution on this matter. I point out that the passports of the other 2 officials of the regime were issued prior to the United Nations resolution. Australian passports normally have a currency of 3 years and the Government believes that it would be unreasonable-
– But they were given 5 years.
– I am sorry; Australian passports have a currency of 5 years and are issued in the normal expectation that they will continue for the currency of the term laid down. As these passports were issued prior to the United Nations resolution on this matter, it seemed reasonable to the Government to permit them to run the full course, which was the expectation when they were first issued to the people in question. However, we made it clear when I made an announcement about the Government’s decision on Mr O’Donnell’s passport that if these people were still officials of the Rhodesian Government at the time their passports expired they would not be renewed.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. It concerns foreign investment in Australia. Has the Treasury considered the character and ramifications of investment activities in Australia by merchant banks and, if so, with what result? Can the right honourable gentleman say when the House can expect from him a statement on foreign investment?
– There have been some very penetrating discussions between the Reserve Bank and the Treasury so as to ascertain what should be a composite view of principal advisers to me on this matter. I have received this advice and I am considering it at present so that I can formulate papers for submission to the Government for its consideration. After that consideration has been given I will be in a position to make such a statement. I would like to make the point, in relation to the question generally, that when considering the matter it is important to have in mind the difference between what I term the volume question - the sheer volume of the flow - and the destination question - where the money actually goes. In looking at the matter of volume there is a very considerable question as to economic management and the effect on domestic economic management of an inflow of capital. In regard to the question of destination, it is important for people to understand the difference between a control question and an ownership question. Within the ownership or control question are 3 separate areas. One area is what one might call ab initio investment, or new investment in industry or development. . The second is what might be termed the takeover of an existing organisation or enterprise. The third, of course, is portfolio investment which, by definition, almost inevitably means ownership rather than control. That is the range of the area to which I presently am giving consideration.
– Will the Minister for Education and Science tell the Parliament why a directive has been issued within the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation requesting that all contacts by senior officers with Federal or State members of Parliament be reported to the Chairman so that the Minister can be advised? Does the Minister realise that this is regarded as imposing a complete gag on the nation’s top scientists for purely political purposes? In view of Professor Philip Baxter’s recent categorisation of parliamentarians as scientifically illiterate, will the Minister recognise that this dangerous exercise of political power will prevent the free flow of scientific information and ideas, and will he have this obnoxious directive withdrawn forthwith?
– I do not know what directive the Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation may or may not have issued. I have discussed with him on one or two occasions the interest that members of Parliament show in the activities of the CSIRO. I have said that when they do show an interest in a matter I would like to know of that particular interest. I think it is perfectly legitimate for a Minister to be concerned and interested in the areas which are of concern to members from all parties in their own particular electorates. I would take that as being a normal carrying through of ministerial responsibility. But certainly no gag has been placed on CSIRO scientists. They make their views known and the results of their researches are freely published. As far as the dissemination throughout the Australian community of public research material of CSIRO scientists is concerned, the Organisation would be actively wanting to seek ways and means whereby that distribution could be increased and the results of their researches brought into a wider compass and put to greater use.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science whether he has seen the critical comments of a professor of education on the Australian education system or systems. In view of their wide ranging and trenchant nature, can the Minister indicate to the House whether the situation is as claimed?
– I did see statements by a Professor Goldman from, I think, the La Trobe University to the effect that he had removed a child from University High, which is one of the best schools in Victoria, and had placed her in a private school because he believed that government schools were inadequate in quality. He is reported to have gone on to say that in Britain, Sweden and other countries he had used the government systems. I would only like to suggest that if this is an accurate report, if this is what Professor Goldman has done, he will probably nave run the risk of placing his child in a school of academic quality inferior to that of the one from which he has removed the child, because University High is a school of high reputation and high standard; that, I think, would be undeniable.
I would like to add that if Professor Goldman is critical of the Australian system and if, for example, he were using the government system in Britain or Sweden, he would find that if his child were 16 years of age she would have a much greater chance of still being at school in Australia than in Sweden or the United Kingdom. If his child were a student in the United Kingdom she would have precisely half the opportunity of getting into a university or tertiary institution that she would have in Australia. We make double the provision for university and college places that exists in the United Kingdom in relation to our population. The output of graduates in relation to our population is greater than in Sweden, with which many critics have tried to compare us, and also significantly greater than in the United Kingdom.
During the hearings of the Senate committee of inquiry into the future of the Commonwealth Government’s role in support of teacher education a senator asked Mr Barry Sheehan, who comes from the same university and is the Chairman of the Centre for Comparative and International Studies in Education at the La Trobe University, whether there were any objective criteria which would enable him to say that the products of Australian schools were in any way inferior to those of other countries. Mr Sheehan made it plain that there were no such criteria. In the same questioning Professor Goldman, I think, attempted to contradict his colleague but concluded his statement to the Senate committee of inquiry by saying: T cannot find the elementary facts to support what I say’.
– I take a point of order against this Minister because he abuses the privileges of this House. He is not replying to a question without notice. It is a question of which he has been given notice. He can make a statement after question time when he can debate the matter.
-Order! There is no point of order. I call the honourable member for Sturt.
- Mr Speaker, may I finish my answer?
-I thought you had finished.
– I take a second point of order.
– Order! I have called the honourable member for Sturt. I was unaware that the Minister had not finished his answer. I now call the Minister.
– Mr Speaker, I take a further point of order.
– Wait a moment. Before you take the point of order let me say that the Minister conformed to the rules of the House in that when a point of order was taken he resumed his seat. I was unaware that he had not finished his answer. 1 thought he had finished it. I then called the honourable member for Sturt. I was in error. The Minister has informed me that he has not completed his answer and therefor I call the Minister.
– Mr Speaker-
– On a point of order-
-Order! We cannot have 2 honourable members on their feet at the one time. I call the honourable member for Sydney.
– Mr Speaker, I understood that you bad established the practice that, when a question is asked by an honourable member in regard to what a certain person - a professor or otherwise - has said, your first duty is to ascertain from the person who asked the question whether or not he can authenticate its accuracy before the question is allowed. You failed to do so on this occasion. Even the Minister when answering the question said ‘if this is accurate’. I believe that you overlooked the fact that you have established this practice of asking an honourable member whether he can authenticate what was said before the question is allowed.
-Order! I did not overlook that fact. First of all, I am not responsible for what the Minister says in his answer. Secondly, if I were to ask all questioners whether the matters contained in their questions were true we would never finish question time. If there is a query about the accuracy of a statement contained in a question asked by an honourable member I then ask the honourable member whether he can vouch for its accuracy.
– May I take this point of order? The Minister was asked about a reported statement by Professor Goldman of La Trobe University. The Minister answered that question, and did so at great length. He is now expatiating on views which one of Professor Goldman’s colleagues expressed to a Senate committee. I put it that such an elaboration is not relevant to the question put to him.
– I believe that the Minister’s statement is relevant to the question. It is dealing with the same subject. Therefore I call the Minister.
-I wanted to conclude by emphasising that Professor Goldman ended some part of his evidence on this very question of the quality of schools and comparative matters of this nature, as will be seen from the Hansard record of the Senate inquiry, by saying:
I cannot find the elementary facts to support what I say. I would like to suggest that the extreme sensitivity of the Opposition on this particular matter probably arises from a report in the Press in which the professor is alleged to have said: ‘In the United States the Catholic parish education system’ -
– I take a further point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is going against your ruling that Ministers should not give lengthy replies and abuse the Standing Orders of this House.
– Order! There is no point of order. As I have pointed out to the House on many occasions, I have no authority in regard to the length of answers. I have made a request to Ministers and I will make it again in a moment.
- Mr Speaker, the answer would have been concluded long ago if it had not been for the Opposition’s interruptions.
– Somebody over here has suggested that you are biased. I do not think that should be allowed to go unchallenged.
– I did not hear the comment. I thank the honourable member for his interest in the Chair.
– I am inclined to agree with him.
– A pertinent part of the statement made by the Professor is: ‘In the United States Catholic parish education is withering away and long may it wither’. I suggest that the extreme sensitivity of the Australian Labor Party on this issue is because it has been widely rumoured that Professor Goldman would be a member of an Australian schools commission if the Labor Party ever appointed one.
– During the last session of Parliament I made repeated requests to Ministers to keep their answers short. I think this is a reasonable request from the Chair. I do not want to see question time continue to be abused in ways which interfere with its real function.
– By Ministers.
– And in other ways as well. It is set aside so that honourable members can obtain information based on fact. I again request Ministers to endeavour to keep their answers much shorter than they have been this morning. I believe it would be in the best interests of the Parliament for that to be done and if this request is not met I will have to find some course of action that will ensure that question time functions as it should.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister who no doubt will be aware of the publicity given to the purchase of Everard Park in South Australia and the wide discrepancy in figures which have been quoted. In view of the Government’s recent blunder in the purchase of Everard Park and in view of his policy statement on Aboriginal land rights, will the Prime Minister give an undertaking to the Parliament that all documents and details of financial transactions relating to the purchase of Everard Park will be tabled in this House for consideration and debate? Will the Prime Minister, in view of his Government’s agreement to purchase the property from Byron MacLachlan, disclose the price paid by that person and the amount involved in the Government’s purchase from Mr MacLachlan? Finally, will the Prime Minister lay down firm guidelines for future acquisition of land for Aborigines in accordance with the statement he made on Australia Day this year?
– Some days ago Mr MacLachlan, who I believe had made arrangements to purchase the property, did contact me and say that he was prepared to permit the property to be sold to Mie Commonwealth at cost. Immediately this matter was placed in the hands of the Crown law authorities and an officer of the Department of the Interior. It is my understanding that until this morning negotiations had not been completed but that they are at a delicate stage. Consequently I am not in a position to make any further statement about this matter. I can assure the honourable gentleman that officials are conducting these negotiations and that when they have given me a report I in my turn will make a full report to the House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I am concerned about the shortage of funds in Queensland and the many rejections of applications made under the rural reconstruction scheme. Dozens of applications have been rejected and many are being left lying on the table, consideration of them being unduly delayed. The reply of the board administering this scheme is that it has to adopt priorities because of the shortage of funds. Surely the term ‘reconstruction’ implies assistance to those who have been adversly affected by drought or other adversities. As advances in many cases are being given to those who have ample security which would meet the requirements of normal banking proposals, will the Minister contract the Queensland Government and/or the board to ask that need be given first priority in their considerations? Will the Minister arrange for a reallocation of funds available so that other States will not be given excess funds determined on a formula basis so that Queensland-
-Order! The right honourable member’s question is far too long. I ask him to complete his question.
– Will the Minister do this so that Queensland where the need is greatest will be able to get the funds it needs or, alternatively, will he arrange for additional funds for Queensland?
– The rural reconstruction scheme was introduced in circumstances in which the Bureau of Agricultural Economics had examined the whole field of the profitability of the rural sector and had found that a considerable number of persons would find it extremely difficult to operate without some finance additional to that which was available from normal sources. In addition, the decline in profitability in the rural sector meant that those traditional sources of funds were less inclined to advance money. In Queensland this latter condition has, in fact, accelerated the pressures placed on the rural reconstruction authorities. In circumstances which were unusual the Treasurer and I met the Ministers responsible for rural reconstruction and, considerably in advance of the Budget, we discussed with them and negotiated for the provision in this current financial year of the balance of the SI 00m which was originally to be provided over a 4-year period under the rural reconstruction scheme. In addition, provision was made for an additional $18m with a supplemental $3m specifically for Queensland in order that the allocation of money and the processing of applications for assistance might continue after 30th June 1973 and into the commencement of the 1973-74 period.
Responsibility for the administration of rural reconstruction in each State rests with the State reconstruction authority. The objective in giving responsibility to the States was that it was felt that in each State the authorities would have a better understanding of the requirements of their own States. I do not see it as a responsibility of the Federal Government to intervene and to direct specifically where funds should be spent. However, we have had a succession of conferences, one as recently as about a month ago, bringing together all the administrative authorities from all States in order to try as far as possible to set a common basis on which rural reconstruction funds should be administered. I am sure that the pressures to which the right honourable gentleman has referred were taken into account by those officers on that occasion.
In terms of the specific requests for an additional allocation of funds for Queensland, I think that it should be registered that the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the States gave to the State administering authorities and to the State governments every opportunity to put their case and to plan forward, taking into account the expected rate of allocation of money and the past pattern of expenditure. I believe that in those circumstances-
Br Patterson - Mr Speaker, I rise to order. You have just given what might be considered to be a lecture to Ministers and in reply to the very next question we are getting a repetition of their behaviour. All that the right honourable member for Fisher wants to know is whether the Minister will provide more money to Queensland. He could say simply yes or no.
-Order! The honourable member will not discuss the matter. There is no substance in the point of order. As I have pointed out to the House, as yet I have no authority over this matter.
– I am delighted to see that the honourable member for Dawson is at long last taking some interest in rural reconstruction. As to the allocation of money, the States and the Commonwealth had negotiations considerably in advance of the commencement of this financial year. I believe that the arrangements undertaken by the Commonwealth were extremely generous. They took account of the peculiar needs of Queensland and provided a specific allocation to that State in addition to the formula allocation which Queensland and all the other States themselves negotiated. Accordingly, I do not believe that at this stage there is justification for the provision of additional funds.
– The Prime Minister will remember that several questions have been asked as to why there should not be a distribution of electorates before this year’s election on the basis of the census in June last year when a distribution of electorates was achieved before the 1955 elections on the basis of the census in June 1954. In particular, he will remember that he, himself, was asked by the honourable member for Canning and me why no steps had been taken to ensure that Western Australia gained the additional seat to which it is entitled in the next Parliament. On the last day of autumn session the Prime Minister told me that he would make a further inquiry that day from the Commonwealth Statistician through the Treasurer. I ask the Prime Minister: What was the result of that inquiry?
– I did make the additional inquiry and found that it would have been extremely difficult for the Commonwealth Statistician to give the required certificate unless other business of a very urgent nature were delayed. That is the answer to the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question. As to the first part of the question and its relationship to the other questions that he and other honourable members have asked in the House, I will find out from the Minister for the Interior and let him know.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Immigration which is supplementary to the one asked today by the Leader of the Opposition concerning Air Vice-Marshal Hawkins, a distinguished Australian airman who fought for this country during the last war, and the withdrawal of his passport. Was any consideration given to withdrawing the passport of Mr Crawford, the Victorian President of the Australian Labor Party, who is at present visiting North Vietnam?
– I should like to make it clear that the act of withdrawing a passport is a very serious step indeed and only after very careful consideration would the Government deprive an Australian citizen of the right to hold a passport - particularly an Australian citizen who is normally resident in Australia. Of course, this is one of the differences between Mr Crawford on the one hand and Air ViceMarshal Hawkins on the other. But this does not mean - I should like to make this clear - that the mere fact of an issuing of a passport to Mr Crawford by no means indicates any sort of approval by the Government of the sort of visit he intends to make and the activities that he will undertake in Vietnam and on his return to Australia. Indeed, the Government made clear its attitude to what I would describe as the traitorous conduct of people like Mr Crawford by, some years ago, making all Australian passports not valid for North Vietnam.
– Mr Speaker I rise on a point of order. The Minister in his answer to the question, as I understand it, has accused an Australian of treachery. Is that what he said?
– I ask for the withdrawal of that remark. If the Minister wants to make such comment he should do so in accordance with the Standing Orders. He has no right to say these things. Mr Crawford has as good a record as an Australian as has the Minister. I think it is disgraceful.
- Mr Crawford is not a member of this House and therefore I cannot direct the Minister to withdraw the remark.
– I used that expression deliberately. I mean it and I repeat it. I am most interested to see the way in which the honourable member for Wills, with great applause from members of his Party, leaps to the defence of a man of this character. If I may continue my answer to the question, we have indicated our attitude to the sort of activity that Mr Crawford-
– I rise on a point of order. Ny point of order also is that the Minister has made that statement in the knowledge that Crawford cannot defend himself from that sort of rubbish.
– There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– If I may continue, the Government has made its attitude to the sort of action which Mr Crawford proposes to undertake quite clear by making all Australian-
– 1 rise on another point of order, if I may.
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Reid.
– Mr Speaker, 1 direct my question to the-
-Order! The Minister for Immigration may proceed.
– The Government has made clear its attitude to the sort of activities that Mr Crawford proposed to undertake by making ail Australian passports not valid for North Vietnam. If Mr Crawford goes to North Vietnam, as I have no doubt he will, he will do so because the Government of North Vietnam will permit him to enter that country despite that particular entry in his passport. He will do so because the Government of North Vietnam, which has directed operational hostilities against the forces of this country and is still directing operational hostilities against the forces of this country approves of Mr Crawford as the sort of person who should be permitted into the country despite the fact that he does not have a valid authority for international travel.
– Pursuant to section 168 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1971 I present the Fifth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices with respect to his operations during the year ended 30th June 1972.
– I seek leave to make a statement on this matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– I sought leave to express what I believe would be the House’s appreciation of the exemplary promptitude with which the Commissioner presents his reports. The report presented last year was the earliest that the Parliament has received. On this occasion the Parliament has received the report similarly early in the session. This is a model which would help the Parliament very much in its deliberations into these matters.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report on the Territory of Christmas Island for the year ended 30th June 1971; the annual report on the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands for the year ended 30th June 1971; and the annual report on the Territory of Norfolk Island for the year ended 30th June 1971.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Unemployment in Western Australia - Ross River Flood Mitigation Scheme - Water Resources Development Project - Australian Economy - Tasmanian Shipping Services: Freight Kates - Mass Media Press Council - Brisbane City Council - Civil Liberties - War Service Homes.
That grievances be noted.
– In the current unemployment crisis Western Australia is suffering more and is being assisted by the Commonwealth Government less than is any other State. As at the end of July the rate of unemployment in Western Australia was the highest in Australia and had been the highest of all the mainland States for over 12 months. At the same time our cost of living also was increasing faster than anywhere else, and if that were not enough we shared with South Australia a special problem of metropolitan unemployment which was steadily growing worse. People are naturally asking: ‘Who is to blame?’ And I ask that question myself.
Those who prefer a glib answer to an accurate one, those of our opponents who prefer some personal or Party advantage to the welfare of the people they represent, have come up with quite a simple explanation. It goes like this: Firstly, the trouble with Western Australia is that it has a rotten State Government; secondly, the State Government is so bad because it is a Labor Government; and thirdly, the solution to all our problems is therefore never again to elect a Labor Government, either State of Federal. This superficial, cynical and blatantly dishonest argument is now heard so often - most recently only 2 days ago from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) himself - that it calls for examination.
In the first place, at least part of the problem that Western Australia now faces is the result of international conditions over which Australia as a whole, and certainly Western Australia alone, could have had no control. Even the Minister this week admitted that much. But this still leaves another and the greater part of our difficulties to be explained, and here responsibility can and must be fixed on Federal Government action. Last year’s Federal Budget triggered the whole process. That Budget attempted to slow down the economy and deliberately to increase unemployment, and in both respects it was a disastrous success.
When the brakes were applied it was only to be expected that Western Australia, the State with the greatest pace of development at the time, should experience the greatest slowdown, and this in fact occurred. As a ‘West Australian’ article aptly put it last month:
When you’re running at top speed it hurts more to run into a wall than if you’re jogging I
As a matter of fact - to be more accurate - the position at the time of the last Budget was that the Western Australia economy was already moving down from top speed so that the added Federal restraint at that time exacerbated a position that was already potentially serious. This qualification is worth stressing because it gives the lie to the charge that the growth of Western Australia unemployment can be linked directly to the election of a State Labor Government.
The new State Government was elected in February of 1971 and its first Parliament was not convened until July 1971. In both the March and June quarters, however - that is well before the aftermath of the outgoing Liberal Government could have worn off - the unemployment position had already gone bad. In March 1971 the Western Australia rate of unemployment was already 25 per cent above the national average, and by June 1971 it was the highest of all the mainland States. The position is clearly illustrated in a short table which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows -
– The trend indicated in this table has continued to the point that Western Australia now has the unenviable distinction of having the highest rate of unemployment in the Commonwealth. As at 31st July 1972 the number of persons registered for unemployment benefits in each State as a percentage of the estimated labour force is as in the following list: Queensland, 1.39 per cent; Victoria, 1.65 per cent; New South Wales, 1.66 per cent; Tasmania, 2.38 per cent; South Australia, 2.39 per cent and Western Australia, far and away the highest, 2.99 per cent. In other words, the Western Australia unemployment rate is now over double that of Queensland, 80 per cent above that of New South Wales and Victoria and 50 per cent above the national average Yet the Commonwealth has done nothing and is still doing nothing to redress the imbalance. In particular the Commonwealth insists on ignoring the fact that its only emergency employment programme, the rural unemployment relief grant, completely misses the point in Western Australia. Unlike all other States, except South Australia, Western Australia has its highest concentration of unemployment in the metropolitan area where the rural unemployment grant cannot be spent. The extent of the disadvantage to which this gives rise is illustrated in a table which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is granted. (The document read as follows)
– As will be seen, the proportion of metropolitan unemployment in Western Australia is over double that of Queensland and substantially above the level of all other States. Yet repeated requests from the Western Australian Government for a special grant for metropolitan unemployment relief have produced no response at all. On the contrary, even so modest a request as that seeking to borrow $3m for accelerated labour intensive sewerage works was subjectd to a totally unnecessary delay of 4 months. A further plea for an Aboriginal housing grant has likewise led nowhere.
Mr Speaker, I am not in the habit of looking at these matters on a narrow regional basis. At the same time it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Federal Government has treated Western Australia shabbily and for the shabbiest political reasons. By again ignoring the special problems of the State in the present Budget, it is continuing to do so. The Minister could not have been blunter than when he told me 2 days ago that ‘specifically the answer to any question of a (metropolitan unemployment) grant is no’. Western Australia deserves better than this, not on any emotional, much less philanthropic, basis but on the cold hard reality of the State’s contribution to Australia’s welfare and economic development. Proportionate to population, Western Australia has contributed far more than its share to the national welfare, and this can be illustrated in all basic areas, including migrant absorption, interstate trade and overseas earnings. For example, in the 3 years to 1971 alone, Western Australia contributed a favourable balance of Si, 360m to Australia’s external trade, while in interstate transactions, it purchased $ 1,479m worth of goods more than it sold. The latter figure in particular indicates an enormous contribution to employment in other States and some practical recognition of the fact by the Commonwealth is surely long overdue.
Mr Speaker, the facts and figures speak for themselves. Western Australia today, through no fault of its own, its people or its State Government, is in a position of special need in respect to the relief of unemployment. Because of the particular pattern of that unemployment, with its heaviest incidence in the metropolitan area, the State is also in a position of special neglect so far as Commonwealth assistance is concerned. Faced with all this, the Minister this week had nothing better to offer than his suggestion that the State Government ‘must go out and sell the State’. I am restricted to only 10 minutes in this debate so I cannot give the Minister the answer his comment deserves. But let me just say 2 things briefly. Firstly, after 12 years of Liberal Government in Western Australia up to 1971, it would be a miracle if we had anything left to sell. Secondly, and more important, the Minister himself also acknowledged this week tha! the roots of the present Western Australian unemployment problem extend back 3 years, that is, to the period of office of the preceding Brand-Court Liberal Government. That was a Government which, when it could not sell Western Australian resources, gave them away. Yet it was under those very circumstances of super-salesmanship that the State’s unemployment problem , by the Minister’s own admission, began. The Minister’s advice and the Government’s whole attitude is too cheap and easy. I do not begrudge them their petty political points. I do object that they seek to make them at the expense of the 13,000 Western
Australians now registered as unemployed - 10,000 of them in the metropolitan area alone. To have caused this situation to develop is bad enough. That the Commonwealth Government should knowingly and deliberately allow it to continue is scandalous.
Mi BONNETT (Herbert) (11.30)- Today I wish to present a case for Commonwealth assistance which I feel merits urgent consideration. It deals with the problems surrounding the construction of the Ross River Dam for flood mitigation and urban water supply located some 16 miles from Townsville on the Ross River. In order to make my case more clear, I would like to outline the details leading up to the construction of this project. Townsville has always had a flood problem during our northern monsoonal seasons and on the occasion of each flood there has been property damage, in some instances, extensive. With the rapid development of this city which has taken place over the last 10 years and which is still happening, the problem has become more acute.
Also, Townsville has never been blessed with an abundant supply of water necessary for the requirements of industry and to meet the needs of the people. The main water supply is piped from a small dam some 50 miles from the city supplemented by water stored in 2 weirs in the Ross River The amount of water available in these weirs is governed by the extent of the wet season, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad. In view of this situation, the local government authority rightly decided that it was not only desirable, but also necessary that a flood mitigation project that was also capable of storing water to supplement the city’s supply be implemented.
In September 1965 the Commisioner of Irrigation and Water Supply in Queensland presented a report on this matter to the Minister for Local Government and Conservation, which was made available to the Townsville City Council. This report contained the results of a study of alternative means of mitigating floods in the city, including the feasibility of a dual purpose storage in the Ross River to provide a high degree of flood mitigation as well as a supplementary water supply. The present site was recommended and all recommendations were accepted by the Townsville City Council. The report also highlighted the serious flood hazard that exists over a substantial part of the city and urged early action to carry out detailed investigations and designs and the preparation of estimates, This was done and it was estimated that the cost would be approximately $llm, the project to be completed in stages over a period of some years.
The Council realised the urgency of the situation, and borrowed sufficient funds to commence Stage 1 of the project which is well under way at the present moment. At that time, there was no way of knowing that costs would escalate as they have done. Heavy increases in the cost of labour, machinery and materials have created a problem which cannot be solved unless the governments concerned - the State and Federal government - realise the position and help to complete this very necessary project. This situation, I may add, does not reflect adversely on the local government administration. This situation has been created by a chain of circumstances which I doubt whether anybody could have foreshadowed. But the point has been reached where assistance must be given to retain the work force that is employed there and complete this project. It may be suggested when this scheme is put forward that additional rate charges be made to offset the additional costs, but as all honourable members know, the rate burden on communities at the moment is heavy enough without creating additional hardship for the citizens involved.
Earlier in the year I cited the Hunter River flood mitigation project as a precedent for allocating finance for this type of development, but I have been informed that this particular scheme is not designed to store water and, consequently, the Ross River project may not qualify for assistance under this particular circumstance. However, I would hope that the authorities would think as I do that the construction of a scheme with a dual purpose would be extremely desirable under the policy of development.
Last night a Bill was introduced into this House granting financial assistance for the implementation of a water pipeline scheme to supply needed water to an area in north western Victoria. This I believe would be granted under the water resources grant. If this Bill is accepted by Parliament, and I have no doubt that it will, then I ask whether the Ross River urban water supply project can be considered under the same circumstances, that is, if an investigation resulted in this project, being excluded from Commonwealth financial assistance because it was not wholly a flood mitigation scheme. I do not know how many people or properties will benefit from the Bill introduced into this House last night, but I do know that approximately 75,000 people plus existing industries, plus industries that would be developed if sufficient water ‘ were available, would benefit from the completion of the Ross River project. Construction of Stage 1 of the project must not be allowed to cease if the city of Townsville is to be protected from flood damage and possible injury to the people who have established their homes there. In most instances these are their permanent homes and I think they are entitled to some measure of protection. In fact I will go a little further and say that there should be allowances made for the continuity of construction of Stage 2 when Stage 1 is completed.
I am fully aware of the correct procedure for the presentation of this request, that is, from the local government to the State Government which makes the final submission to the Commonwealth, but my purpose in presenting this case today is to alert the Government of the need for assistance, so that when the State Government makes its submission there will be no time lost in a decision being reached by the Federal Government. If the Government thinks it necessary, I can arrange a meeting with the people who are fully acquainted with all the details of this project. This I can do in a matter of a few days. In asking for urgent consideration of this request, I would suggest that the Government take full note of the fact that it is a dual purpose scheme that would benefit an area that is the fastest developing community in Australia, with the exception of Canberra.
– The honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) makes a very reasonable case for Commonwealth assistance for the Ross River Dam. I know that there is much questioning today about water conservation projects. There can, however, be no basis for questioning water development projects where there are inadequate supplies of water for human beings, and the Ross River and the Murray River are insufficiently tapped to provide sufficient water for Townsville and Adelaide. These 2 cities are in real jeopardy because there has not been adequate foresight in harnessing their resources and preserving the quality of their waters. Anybody visiting Townsville - I do so not infrequently - is aware how great this issue is.
Honourable gentlemen will notice in Hansard yesterday an answer which the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) gave me to this question:
What was the date, nature and outcome of the application by Queensland for assistance from the National Water Resources Development Fund for the Ross River Dam?
I had placed this question on notice to the Minister on 11th April last - 7 weeks before the House rose. I received a letter from the Minister 7 weeks after the House rose telling me what the reply would be. It now of course becomes public because it was put into yesterday’s Hansard. The reply is:
The information the honourable member seeks would be related to communications between the Commonwealth and a State Government and, unless otherwise agreed, such communications are confidential.
I have protested at this attitude that communications between the Commonwealth and a State are confidential under legislation that this Parliament has passed providing for such communications. I have protested about this since the middle 1960s. I believe it was in 1966 or 1967 that I had occasion to protest, in particular when the late Mr Holt was Prime Minister, at the reluctance to give any information about water conservation or construction projects in Queensland. It was at that time when the formula was evolved that such communications were confidential.
The federal system should not be made an excuse for denying the public proper information. If there is a structure for consultation between Federal and State Ministers, as there is on probably a score of matters now, on an annual basis, then the members of the parliaments to which the Federal and State Ministers concerned are responsible are entitled to know what the Ministers are proposing as the subjects of administration or legislation for their governments or their parliaments.
– Whether the Minister likes it or not.
– Yes, precisely.
– I do not think your Mr Chifley would have thought much of that one.
– On this subject, one of the very earliest examples of co-operation and consultation between the Commonwealth and the States was by Mr Chifley with the Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia about the whole question of northern development. There was a northern development council which, after he was defeated, was dissolved. There was a standing committee of officials to advise that ministerial council.
Except by way of answers to question which I deliberately place on notice concerning these ministerial conferences one would not even know the terms of the communiques which are issued by them. One would have to go to the public Press alone, and these communiques are rarely published in full in the public Press. But quite apart from these ministerial conferences there are many things which the Parliament authorises Ministers to do with the State under legislation. I believe that members of Parliament should not be fobbed off with the answer that what is happening under the legislation they have passed then becomes confidential to governments.
We know that there has to be a certain confidentiality in negotiations between Federal Ministers and Ministers of other countries. It is, I suppose, an inevitable trend that in international matters the Executive has to take more and more power and that legislators then have the sole function of ratifying what Ministers have done at these international conferences. Under the Holt, Gorton and McMahon governments increasingly the procedure has been evolved for saying that negotiations between Federal and State Ministers within the Australian federation must be confidential; that members of Parliament are not entitled to know what is being proposed.
My party does not accept this attitude. We believe that the public is entitled to know the pros and cons of various projects. There were cons in some projects of which all the parliaments concerned subsequently approved unanimously and vociferously. Take the Chowilla Dam, for example. We were never told the cons there, and Federal agencies well qualified to investigate them were not called in until the whole scheme became unworkable. The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority was not consulted on Chowilla until the whole work was suspended. It should have been consulted before the work was undertaken.
Here I find that the Minister for National Development will not even admit that there was an application by Queensland for assistance from the National Water Resources Development Fund for the Ross River dam. Honourable members will recall his answer: “The information would be related to communications’. Were there communications or not? Why be so coy and secretive about it? Has Queensland asked for assistance under this legislation or has it not? We cannot even find that out.
The present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) is worse than his predecessor in this respect. At least his predecessor had answered questions which I put on notice for him about negotiations between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government concerning the Burdekin River project, which has been on the Queensland statute book since 1949. The statute provides for Commonwealth participation in nominees on the controlling authority.
In 1949 Mr Chifley, on behalf of my Party, and Mr Fadden, as he then was, on behalf of the Country Party, both undertook to proceed with this scheme. There may be pros or cons about the scheme. Because of that, the former Prime Minister decided that there should be a review of the whole thing. I do not cavil at that. But at least somewhat tardily, I used to think, he answered my questions on the date and the nature of the negotiations which were going on between his Government and the Queensland Government. When he was displaced his successor refused to answer questions like that. Questions which Mr
Holt used to answer Mr Gorton did not answer, and questions which Mr Gorton used to answer Mr McMahon will not answer.
Here I believe, is a very glaring example. I asked the relevant question 7 weeks before the House rose and I was given an answer, by correspondence, 7 weeks after the House rose. Now in Hansard 4 months and 5 days after the question was placed on notice I am given an answer. I asked about an application by Queensland to the Commonwealth under Commonwealth legislation and administration, and I do not even get an admission that there has been such an application. It is put in the conditional and conjectural form: If there was an application all the negotiations would be confidential. It is not good enough. The Ross River dam is essential for Towns.ville’s progress and its present requirements.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– For 10 minutes I propose to deal with the subject of cost inflation which I believe is of very considerable concern to all Australians, whether they be in the country or in the city. I think that all of us, no matter from what area of Australia we come, have had very unfortunate experiences over the last couple of years, and particularly in this year. I think that one of the great problems, when we look at the situation, is the massive forces arranged On either side. First of all, we have the large commercial interests or groups on one side forming an area of great power which they are able to use in negotiations. On the other side we have a great power - the massive union organisation or worker operations. In between we have the people, including the rank and file unionists who have little say in making decisions which, after all, have a great bearing on their well being.
I will deal first of all with the commercial side. It is quite amazing to see, from moving about in the community, the mergers that have taken place within Australia. If some overseas company comes in and endeavours to take over an Australian firm it receives all the publicity in the world. The shallow Calamity Janes of our Press give us plenty of this. But in our ordinary domestic areas the number of small firms which are swallowed up by larger firms is quite amazing. Take the transport industry: In the southern area of Queensland we used to have about a dozen large transport companies competing with one another from Brisbane to western Queensland, but today the number has been reduced. One sees these different firms operating, but I understand that today 2 firms control the lot. This is a case where competition has been eliminated. After all, competition is the basis of free enterprise. I belong to a Party that supports free enterprise. We are gradually moving towards a situation with mergers and takeovers where we will kill free enterprise. We will end up with something like a socialist state where somebody in grey controls the whole operation of our activities.
Let us take the area of farm machinery and farm implements. Many a man on the land has in the past bought a pump or a machine and has suddenly found that he is unable to get parts for it. I had a similar experience the other day with a very well known pump. It is one of those pumps which does not give you much trouble. It is probably about 6 years since I had to buy a part. I went to this large Australian firm and I was told: ‘We no longer hold the agency. The agency that controlled this pump was part of the operation, but we cannot help you. We do not make the parts. They are now made in America. We cannot even help you to get parts from America.’ I made further inquiries. What happens with a lot of these large enterprises is that some areas are obviously very profitable, and the idea is to diversify. The company took over this very successful industry functioning in Melbourne, which was probably attracted by the offer, took out the most saleable areas of production and discarded the rest. Those of us who happen to own something which has been discarded are in a devil of a mess. That is only one instance. It happens everywhere.
The important thing about free enterprise is initiative. If we are going to cut down the smaller industries and the smaller firms and put them into the great conglomeration of a larger firm we will kill initiative, management, enterprise and everything else. We will reach a situation not unlike that of socialist or government control. That is one facet. We have killed competition. Our costs have gone up. The cost of machine parts and other things has risen out of all proportion. Today most of us do not buy a part. If we are mechanically inclined we make it. Industry loses this support. This contributes to unemployment. Then we have irresponsible and wasteful industrial strikes from which everyone in the community suffers. People in Victoria well recall the electricity strike in Melbourne a few months ago. What waste that caused! What opportunities for employment and opportunities for initiative to start new industries were lost! A lack of confidence was created, and costs have risen as a result. What is so extraordinary is that the Opposition professes to deplore inflation and yet it does nothing to discourage some of the most important causes of inflation, such as union militancy, industrial unrest and unreasonable demands on employers.
Let me mention how this tempo is increasing. I have figures here. In 1968 the number of working days lost was one million-odd; in 1969 it was 1,900,000; in 1970 it was 2,300,000; in 1971 it was 3 million-odd. One can see that it is going up all the time. This is something that is lost to our community. I realise that we will always have industrial disputes, and in our very complex society we have to find a measure by which these industrial disputes can be prevented. Some decision must ba arrived at. We have a conciliation and arbitration system which I believe has worked very well indeed. It is superior to anything I am aware of in the world. If there are some defects in it certainly we should amend the system, but at least it provides some means in our complex society for resolving difficulties without having the whole community suffer. Lightning strikes occur suddenly. The train drivers in a large city may go on strike; tens of thousands of people are inconvenienced. The unions could not care less about this inconvenience to people. I know that we will not receive any help from the Opposition, because it is unconcerned. During the oil strike the Opposition said nothing and made no move. It let Mr Hawke take over the whole thing. Now it is up to the Government to do something. The Government has a wonderful record of administration in Australia over the last 23 years. I believe that the industrial situation is the weak spot. The Government has the power and the means and it should have the enterprise to overcome this situation.
– I want to raise as a matter of urgency this morning some further developments in what I would describe as the melancholy saga of Tasmanian transport. In particular I want to refer to substantial freight increases imposed by the Australian National Line on the Tasmanian trade. The latest round of freight increases became effective from Monday, 14th August. The ANL lifted freights by almost 20 per cent on 5 categories of cargo carried on the Bass Strait ferry service. These freight increases followed increases of up to 50 per cent on the Line’s vehicle and passenger services across Bass Strait. According to the Tasmanian Manager of the ANL the freight increases were designed to eliminate anomalies in cargo rates.
It would be an understatement to say that this latest series of freight increases has aroused a tempest in Tasmania. There have been widespread threats of industrial action against the hapless ANL which also has been denounced by commercial interests. The only defender of the Line to be found appears to be Senator Rae who seems concerned that any subsidy of Tasmanian shipping would ruin Tasmania’s economy. The Senator does not seem clear how this catastrophe would flow from action to reduce the crippling burden on Tasmania of excessively high shipping rates. His stand seems a peculiar one for a Senator from a State which depends almost completely on shipping transport.
The scenario for the latest round of increases was set in the 1971 annual report of the Australian National Line. Admittedly the Line had a wretched year in 1970-71 with an extended strike by marine stewards and other industrial trouble. In its report the Line made the point that a freight rate freeze had been imposed on the coastal sector of the trade for a number of years. This had been lifted early in the 1970-71 year when ministerial approval had been given to a 12) per cent rise in general cargo rates. The Line hinted that further freight increases would be necessary and argued that if reasonable profit margins were to be maintained, periodic adjustments of freight rates were unavoidable.
The basic economics of this contention are sound enough. The question is whether the profit motive should be enforced so strictly on ANL services to Tasmania. The Line puts responsibility for this squarely on the Commonwealth Government and on the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon). The relevant section of the report reads as follows:
Since the close of the period under notice a more realistic general cargo freight structure has been applied with the approval of the Minister so that given reasonable freedom from industrial stoppages and assuming that costs can be kept within bounds, a return to profitability in the current financial year seems possible.
The Line had a much better year industrially in 1971-72; it also had the benefit of higher freight rates. On all indications the ANL should have returned to profitable operation in 1971-72, but we will not know until the report is tabled. It is most disturbing to find the Line acting quickly to raise freight rates so early in the 1972- 73 financial year. Undoubtedly these latest increases have been sanctioned by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. They appear to have been made in accordance with section 18 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act. This section hands the Line 2 tasks which it is almost impossible to reconcile. It charges the ANL to pursue a policy which would allow it to secure enough revenue to cover operating costs and permit a reasonable return to the Commonwealth. In the next breath the Act directs the Line to make its shipping services available at the lowest possible rates of charges, subject to the proviso I just mentioned. As the embattled ANL has found, this is an almost impossible charter of duties to achieve.
There is another interesting aspect of this part of the Act which is extremely relevant to the current contretemps between the Line and its Tasmanian services. The direction under the Act for the Line to make a reasonable return on capital and cover its expenditure is made subject to its obligations under the preceding section of the Act, section 17. It is worth looking closely at this section because its implications have been largely overlooked. The section empowers the Minister to direct the
Commission to establish, maintain and operate shipping services to meet the requirements of a particular area where it is desirable in the public interest for such a service to be provided. Furthermore, the section states clearly what can be done when such a service is established and it operates at a loss. If the service operates at a loss and in the same year the ANL records an overall loss, the Line is entitled to be reimbursed by the Commonwealth. The amount of the reimbursement is defined as the amount of the loss of that particular shipping service or the overall loss of the ANL whichever is the less.
Earlier this year I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question on notice about the operations of this section. His reply revealed that the section had never been invoked and that no reimbursements had ever been made by the Commonwealth under the section. It would seem that the original intention of this section was to cover exactly the sort of situation that now applies in Tasmania. Because shipping is vital to Tasmania and the ANL services are vital to Tasmanian shipping, the Minister should direct the Line to treat Tasmania in accordance with the provisions of section 17. If the Line then lost money in a particular year and showed that this loss was due to losses on the Tasmanian services, then it could be reimbursed by the Commonwealth. In effect this would be a disguised subsidy; the Line could stabilise freight rates for Tasmania without having to operate in perpetual fear of the impact of the lack of profitability on the Tasmanian run.
Successive Governments and the ANL have always skirted the obligations imposed by this neglected part of the Australian Coastal Shipping Act. Enforcement of these provisions would make it unnecessary to amend section 18 of the Act to remove insistence on a reasonable return on capital. This is important because there have been strong moves in Tasmania for a High Court challenge to the latest freight increases based on an alleged breach of section 18. Such a challenge would not be necessary if the Commonwealth accepted its obligations under section 17 of the Act as affirmed in section 18. In fact the duties of the Line as listed in section 18 are made subject to its obligations to provide shipping services in the public interest under section 17. Any reading of this part of the Act makes it clear that it opens the way for the Commonwealth to subsidise ANL shipping services to Tasmania. In fact there is a clear duty imposed on the Commonwealth under the Act to reimburse the Line for losses it might sustain on the Tasmanian services.
The case for Commonwealth assistance is reinforced by the continual flow of assistance for transport in other States. There are further examples in this year’s Budget - the provision of $2.5m for the sealing of the Eyre Highway and the construction of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs railway at an estimated cost of $54m. This assistance is not begrudged but it is disappointing that so little flows to Tasmania whose economy is completely dominated by the transport mechanism. If the Government does not intervene, further freight increases are inevitable for shipping services which are the lifeblood of Tasmania. Ultimately the burden of ever-increasing freight rates must stifle the State’s remaining vitality unless Commonwealth assistance is assured. It is impossible to express adequately the sense of despondency these latest freight increases have aroused in Tasmania. Combined with low per capita income, high unemployment, vanishing industries and low population growth Commonwealth indifference to the savage impact of shipping freight increases can only accentuate the economic stagnation of Tasmania.
One may say that this morning I have drawn rather a desperate picture of the situation in Tasmania. I appreciate the fact that the Minister for Shipping and Transport has been good enough to come into the House, but I can only emphasise again that unless some assistance is given to Tasmania in its only means of contact with the rest of Australia, the State will continue to stagnate irrespective of what Government is in power at both Commonwealth and State level. These are real problems and the Minister is fully aware of the situation that I have put to him on a number of occasions. The fact that a deputation is to meet the Minister in the near future, a deputation representative of all sections of Tasmanian commerce and industry and of both sides of the Parliament of that State, is a clear indication of the seriousness of the problem.
I ask the Minister to look sympathetically at the proposition I have put to him this morning.
– Order! The honourable members time has expired.
– This morning I wish to speak on the desirability of Parliament setting up a Press council to cover the Australian Broadcasting Commission, television, radio and all mass media, the personnel of such a council to be representative of all sections of the mass media. Its purpose would be not to supervise or interfere with the conduct of the mass media but to act as a vigilante in regard to news matter, current affairs and advertising. For years I have taken issue with the ABC on its presentation of news and current affairs programmes and I have asked questions of the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme), the ministerial head of the Commission. In most of his replies he has supported and maintained the autonomy of the Commission. On one occasion he replied to me that if a citizen felt he had been maligned he had recourse to the courts. Of course he has, but only at great expense and with indefinite outcome. The point I want to make, especially in regard to television, is that once a man’s image and character have been maligned by the ABC it is very difficult for him to correct that situation. The situation is different in regard to a newspaper report. A television station does not have the same viewing public every day whereas people read the same brand of newspaper each and every day. The Minister from his own observations now realises that something has to be done in regard to the ABC because he has found that the ABC has delegated some of its autonomous power not only to its executive officers but also to its employees who conduct interviews and appear on current affairs programmes. This has given a great degree of liberty to many people who previously did not have authority. All people love authority and most people abuse it. The Postmaster-General knows from his own observations, as I have already stated, that things are not as they should be. It has been the practice over the years that when a Minister is asked about 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock in the afternoon to appear on one of the current affairs programmes the same evening and is unable to do so, the interviewer or the chairman of the programme invariably has stated that the Minister declined to appear. I had experience of this when I was to appear on a programme with Sir William Gunn. Sir William could not attend and I said to the interviewer: ‘I take it you will use the same phrase, He declined to be present? The reply was: No, we cannot do that because he is on his way to Brisbane’. I said: ‘But in regard to Ministers who are phoned at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and who have a previous engagement you always say that they declined to attend’.
In regard to an interview with Mr Hawke and Mr Lynch, Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Hawke stated definitely that he would not participate in a debate with Mr Lynch and the interviewer rightly stated this. It has created a furore within the ranks of the hierarchy of the ABC. To think that anyone would have the impudence to state that Mr Hawke did not want to take part in a debate, and then to make that public. Well that is just too bad.
– Who is this chap Hawke?
– I would prefer not to describe him. The time has arrived for us to take action. I understand that in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada inquiries have been held into the advisability of setting up a Press council. This is most desirable because it would protect people against being maligned and smeared. It would also involve a stricter analysis of what was to be purveyed, and it would be of great benefit to Australia. It would introduce a fairness and a responsibility that is not now attendant in current affairs programmes which are now on radio and television. It is a most desirable objective to set up such a council. I am sure that it would be to the benefit of all Australians to have a fair and balanced programme produced from time to time. On one occasion when I spoke to the General Manager of the ABC about the imbalance in these sorts of programmes he replied to me that if the ABC waited until a balanced programme was produced, many of the programmes at present which go to air would not be produced. I pointed out clearly that it would be far better for them not to be proceeded with if they defamed a man or smeared his character and reputation. Surely a man’s character and reputation are of greater value than a television current affairs programme. For those reasons I think that a Press council should be set up immediately because it would be of benefit to the viewers and to those taking part in the programmes.
– I raise a matter which, if not in the direct field of responsibility of the national Parliament, must surely be a matter in which the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), and the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) should interest themselves. I refer to what has been described by the recently retired town clerk of the City of Brisbane as the most backward step in the history of local government in Australia. He said that the proposals of the State Government in Queensland to change the structure of the Brisbane City Council were, without any doubt the most retrograde which had been contemplated in almost 50 years. Since the inception of the Greater Brisbane system in 1925 Brisbane has enjoyed a unique form of local government, and more particularly in the last 11 years since the success in the 1961 election of the Labor team led by Lord Mayor Clem Jones the Brisbane City Council administration has been an outstanding success. It is an example that is used throughout this nation by all those interested in the field of local government as the ideal form of administration for a capital city, especialy a major capital city. I refer, of course, to the third capital city of th:s nation.
The system of government which has enabled Brisbane to be changed from a large country town, not befitting the capital of the State, to a city which on today’s standards provides all the essentials of good living is surely one which in a democratic sense most honourable members, I am sure, would agree should be left as it is. We wonder why any change should be contemplated in the light of the success of the system and the progress that has eventuated over the years because of the existence of this system.
The Greater Brisbane area was created in 1925. It was formed by the amalgamation of the various town councils - 6 of them - the 2 city councils, 12 shire councils and numerous joint boards which existed in the city of 375 square miles. I have a personal interest in the success of the Brisbane City Council, my father being the mayor of the second council, the South Brisbane City Council, which operated at the time of the amalgamation. I quote from a record that was published by the municipality of South Brisbane at the time of the amalgamation. In a statement issued by my father he said:
As the last Chief Magistrate, and the first Labour Mayor of the City. I relinquish my duties with a feeling of satisfaction rather than with a sense of regret, because the great social movement with which I am publicly associated was responsible for the introduction of a magnificent scheme of municipal government unparalleled. I believe, in any part of the world, and which I believe, ultimately, will enlarge the self-governing powers of the people. My colleagues in the council and myself retire from the minor sphere where we played our limited parts to the best of our ability, hoping that the great experiment will be a glorious success.
Those words of my father, John Keogh, have been brought to fruition. The Brisbane City Council has been an outstanding success. Because of the corruptness of the Queensland State Government, there exists in Queensland today the type of government which I am sure no democratic country in the world would wish to have inflicted upon it. The government recently returned to power there is led by a Party that was able to achieve only about 20 per cent of the vote but a total of 26 seats in the Parliament. The Country Party, supported by its partner in crime, the Liberal Party - which polled 22 per cent of the vote for a total of 21 seats; nearly as many seats as its percentage of the total vote - is able to inflict its wishes on the democratically elected city administration i;i the Greater Brisbane area.
I note with interest that I am to be followed in this debate by another representative from Queensland, the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), who sits on the other side of the House - but not for long. I am afraid that he has not had the courage to stand up and say what he knows to be the trinh of this situation. I do not like doing it, but I must compliment another Liberal member, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). At least he was prepared to come out and make a forthright statement saying what be believed about this action which is proposed by the Queensland State Government. He said:
I am astonished by the State Government moves to change the Brisbane City Council. The fact (hat the proposals were announced only 6 weeks after a State election without reference having been made during the campaign to them can only be described as one of the most lamentable exercises in cynicism in the history of Australian politics.
But, of course, we have been told that the Queensland Minister for Local Government knows that he is doing the right thing and that he is carrying out something that is in the best interests of the people of Brisbane. To support this view he has explained on television that he consulted with the taxi drivers of Brisbane and they advised him that it was the right thing to do. 1 believe that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) should take an interest in what is happening in Queensland and take up the challenge that was thrown to him by the Premier of Queensland during the State election campaign when, as we all remember, there were full page advertisements in the Queensland newspapers which proclaimed: ‘While the nation looks for leadership Queensland has Joe BjelkePetersen’. It is a great tragedy that Queensland has Joe Bjelke-Petersen but in Queensland Joe Bjelke-Petersen is supported to the hilt in this particular issue by some members of the Liberal Party, led by the Deputy Premier of Queensland, Sir Gordon Chalk, who for political expediency has thrown all semblance of political honesty to the winds in supporting this dirty package deal that the Liberals in Queensland have made to allow the Country Party to refuse daylight saving to the people of Queensland. As one southern newspaper explained, this only means that the Government of Queensland is now 100 years and 1 hour behind the times. lt worries and concerns me, as someone representing an electorate in Queensland, to have this style of government inflicted upon the people of Queensland and to have the threat now existing that it will inflict its style of administration on the people of the City of Brisbane. I know that the Prime Minister will say that it is not a matter within his field of responsibility, but is a matter for the State. Let me remind honourable members that as recently as yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) said that his Government believed in co-operation with the States and consultation with the States. I ask the Prime Minister who, as Leader of this Government has been outstanding in rising to protect the democracy of many other countries which Australia supports and who believes that democracy should be protected in other countries, especially in the area of South East Asia, to show some concern for the opinion that these people may have of something that is about to be inflicted upon people within our own nation. I challenge him to show the type of leadership that Joh BjelkePetersen claims he does not have, to show it by calling upon the Queensland Premier and the Deputy Premier, either publicly if he has the courage or at least privately, to protect the rights of the people of Brisbane and to preserve the style of democracy which exists in the city of Brisbane for the citizens of Queensland.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I had no intention this morning of making any reference to the subject which has been canvassed by the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh), but he made some reference to me. I think it is a good sign for the Government’s chances at the next election when a Federal member of the Opposition sets out to try to confuse those more important issues which relate to Federal Government, which are more vital to people - foreign affairs, defence and questions on education - and which the Labor Party tries to hide from, by talking about the Brisbane City Council. The honourable member referred to the fact that his father was the last mayor of the old South Brisbane Council. I suppose for that reason he has some cause to have a considerable interest in it. I remind the House that my own grandfather was also an alderman of that council just prior to the time when the father of the honourable member for Bowman was the mayor. I cannot let the opportunity pass without correcting the impression that the honourable member for Bowman gave when he mentioned that the Liberal and Country Parties in the Queensland State
Government collected a total of only 42 per cent of the total vote. The facts of life are that the honourable member for Bowman mentioned the votes of those 2 Parties and gave the impression that the Labor Party picked up all the rest.
Mi Keogh - Forty eight per cent.
– Forty eight per cent, the honourable member barks out. He is one who believes that whether it be 48 per cent, 38 per cent or 28 per cent, if his Party had a greater total vote than another political party then his party should take the reins of government. He completely dismisses the Democratic Labor Party. I know that the DLP is the horror of the life of the Australian Labor Party.
– Who are they?
– Order! The honourable member for Bowman has spoken already in this debate.
– The DLP has continued to cause great concern to the ALP which is all the time announcing systems which it hopes will lead eventually to that Party’s disappearance. I can assure the honourable member for Bowman, if he looks at the composition of the Senate, that in my time here I have seen the Australian Democratic Labor Party grow from 3 to 5 members. Whilst the Liberal Party has not the fear of the DLP that his Party has, I am sure that this growth is a proof of the fact that the DLP will not be gone for some years.
The honourable member for Bowman referred to local government matters. It might be said that just as the State Government did certain things, the Labor Lord Mayor of Brisbane, because he did not win the State seat of Yeronga, has now declared that suburb of Brisbane an industrial area. Perhaps there is as much truth in that assertion as in what has been said by the honourable member for Bowman.
What I want to raise today is the question of privacy and the right of individuals to converse. I was absolutely apalled by what took place during a television programme in which Mr Michael Willesee interviewed none other than Mr Bob Hawke. I know that I have a reputation in this place for having a great interest in the question of privacy and the individual. I have been surprised that members of the
Labor Party, which pretends to be the champion of the individual and the masses on the question of privacy, have not uttered a word about what took place on this programme. If members of the Opposition had seen that programme and had been sincere in their claims I am sure that they would have reacted in the same way as I did.
The person interviewed was Mr Bob Hawke - the leader from behind; the man who pulls the strings of the Australian Labor Party. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is the only man in the Labor Party who is genuinely interested in the question of privacy and the individual, but Mr Hawke also controls him like a puppet on a string. In this programme Mr Hawke came forward and said that he had a tape recording of a conversation between a gasoline or petrol outlet reseller and an executive of an oil company who had been with that company for some 35 years. I must admit that 1 was totally horrified that a man in Mr Hawke’s position had so much disregard for the right of the individual as to be able to set himself up as a judge on that programme and justify to the viewers in his words why he thought he had the right to use that tape recording.
What had happened was the unsuspecting oil company representative had gone to the place where a Mrs Mobbs - I have never been able to work out whether that is her real name or whether this was just a diversion - had talked with him. Probably a tape recorder-speaker had been planted in a greasy 44-gallon drum or a 4-gallon kerosene drum. Can you imagine it? She was probably hovering around making sure that the oil company representative did not move away from this area. She led him on. She went to Mr Hawke and produced for him this tape recording of a conversation which was supposed to be an example of how lousy and rotten the oil companies were.
Let us go back. During the programme Mr Hawke said that this man had worked for the oil industry for 35 years and therefore he was a voice of authority and a man who knew what he was talking about. I can talk to a man in the Senate - Senator Gair - who has been in parliaments for 40 years, 30 years of which were as a member of the Labor Party, and who reckons that the ALP is not worth supporting. Just as Mr Hawke suggests that this oil company representative should be taken notice of because he has been with the industry for 35 years, so does the same principle apply to members of the Labor Party who have bailed out like fleas over recent years.
This man who held the nation in chaos day in, day out - the man who said: ‘When I am ready we can send the men back’ and forgot completely the inconvenience that was being caused every man, woman and child in the nation - went to the nation on Television. He set himself up as the judge that this tape recording was important to the nation. He then followed this assertion by reference to the fact that he felt that he had been shadowed and bugged in the past and therefore bugging and shadowing were the order of the day. I do not believe I need to say too much more. People will understand exactly what I am driving at. But the nation is reaching a poor state of affairs when individuals, whether they be in Brisbane, Bourke, Perth or anywhere else, have to face a future in which a situation is created where tape recorded conversations between individuals can be justified. Can honourable members imagine what is going to happen? Mr Hawke talks about conciliation. The facts are that what he is doing is creating a situation where people will be even frightened to talk and make suggestions of compromise because they will never know when the conversations will appear in a court as evidence to be used against them. Some members of the Opposition are jumping around and shaking their heads and saying that this is taking things a little bit too far. I admit that perhaps it is. But I am just trying to project what could happen.
The fact that not one member of the Opposition has seen any significance in the television debate that took place convinces me more than ever that the ALP is the last Party in this nation that is fit to take the Government benches. I am quite sure that after the next election, whenever it may be, those members of the Opposition who are left will still be sitting on that side of the House. Instead of sitting in their caucus meetings deciding who will take this portfolio and that portfolio they should pay a little bit of attention to matters relating to the private and individual liberties of the people of Australia. I am quite sure that they would be appreciated far more than they are now in spending their time indulging in false hopes.
– In an endeavour to get the national Parliament to take notice of a matter of national interest I would like to refer again to some of the many problems associated with the administration of war service homes. I raised this matter as far back as November 1970. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that there are a large number of ex-servicemen who have been denied war service home entitlements on the basis that their land tenure under the New South Wales Lands Act was deemed to be insufficient, or that the security was not adequate. The whole context of the war service homes legislation was to provide homes for ex-servicemen, in a fashion that would give them an opportunity to acquire homes as quickly as possible. It is utterly ridiculous to think in this day and age, after so many years, there are so many ex-servicemen, particularly in my electorate, who have excellent homes on excellent land and who because of some alleged defect in title are being denied the benefit.
As I said, this matter was raised in 1 970 on the basis that all one needed to do was to put in some minor amendment to the Act. That was done 12 months later in 1971. That amendment has now been interpreted as not being sufficient. We now have the situation again after all this time that men who served and fought for this country have been denied their entitlement. Briefly, the position is this: The Act which was passed in 1918 refers to a ‘Holding’ being:
At that stage it was said that the Act did not include conditional purchase. Fair enough. As a result of a submission made by myself in 1970 an amendment was brought down in 1971 saying, very well, it will now include a conditional purchase under the Crown Lands Consolidation Act. Many of my constituents - and I instance Mr Gow - would be entitled to obtain a loan for a war service home. He has what is known as a suburban holding under the New South Wales Act. He has been entitled to purchase that holding. It is in his interest to do so. He wants to do this on a terms basis because this would be more in his interest. But a loan on this basis is being denied him because now an officer of the war service homes administration has said that he had looked at the amendment of this Parliament “ of 1971 - one would think from that expression that he had nothing to do with it. The officer went on to say to Mr Gow:
Unfortunately, it is still impractical for consent to be given of a leasehold tenure to a purchase tenure but, as indicated in my letter of 8th January 1970, there is nothing to prevent the conversion of your tenure to a fee simple by payment in full of the purchase price.
That means that this unfortunate gentleman has to go and find funds in full to buy the land. There is adequate security on the basis of leasehold tenure, particularly if it is converted on a terms basis, because every other lending authority in New South Wales, and I would say every such authority in Australia, lends money on that same title. The worst feature of this matter is to be found in what the Deputy Director said:
Should you desire to raise a second mortgage over you property to make payment for the land consideration will be given to such a request.
It is very difficult for any person to get approval for a second mortgage under the war service homes legislation. Now we see this double standard: Because the authority concerned cannot help this man on this particular basis he will consent to a second mortgage, something which is not done in any other normal case. It is about time we looked at the principle of helping exservicemen particularly those who need proper finance. They should not have to go to money sharks and pay excessive rates of interest; they are entitled to their war service loan.
I made representations to the Under Secretary of Lands in New South Wales and said: ‘Why is it that you cannot get an adequate amendment to your own New South Wales legislation or make a forceful submission to the Government at Canberra in order to get a quick amendment to the War Service Homes Act so that any tenure deemed to be sufficient under the New South Wales Crown Lands Consolidation Act is adequate security for an exserviceman?’ I received a reply saying that the matter had been discussed with officers of the Commonwealth. The New South Wales people said that, when they put up the submission for a wider amendment to the Act than the conditional purchase amendment of 1971, there were discussions with officers of the Commonwealth as to the form of the amendment. It was suggested by the New South Wales officers that the amendment should be sufficient to include suburban holding purchases. Unfortunately this did not eventuate. Therefore we are left with the suggestion that the officers of the Commonwealth failed to do something suggested to them by the New South Wales administration.
I can show to this Parliament hundreds of applications from ex-servicemen in my area who have been denied the opportunity of getting proper finance. They were given the ridiculous bait of being told that they could get a second mortgage under those special circumstances when such approval would not be given in any other particular set of circumstances. This matter is clear cut. The obvious thing to do in this case is to amend this Act quickly so that any tenure granted under the New South Wales Crown Lands Consolidation Act is adequate security provided the term of the tenure is sufficient to meet the repayments under the war service homes administration. That is the first defect in the present legislative programme of this Parliament.
I want to mention another defect in the couple of minutes left to me. I have a constitutent whose wife gave birth to twins in the Royal Hospital for Women at Paddington. Because the twins were not what might be called very healthy, at the time of birth they required a fair bit of intensive care treatment. As a result the hospital rendered a bill for $75 for 5 days’ treatment for what was deemed to be twin No. 1. My constituent endeavoured to recover that money under the medical benefits scheme. He has been denied any opportunity to get that money. It was pointed out to him by the Royal Hospital for
Women that under the National Health Act a qualified hospital benefit is not deemed to include a newly born child for the first 10 days. The situation is ridiculous. The name of my constitutent is Mr McCristal. I have been given permission to use his name. The McCristals had twins and the benefit is to be paid for twin No. 2 and not for twin No. 1.
It is about time something was done about these things if the Government claims that it is going to help people in dire need. After all, these people are not so adequately endowed with finance that they can pay $75 from their own pockets. Mr McCristal pointed out in his letter how ridiculous it was to talk about what he called Mr Gorton’s false scheme under which nothing would cost more than $5. He said that one even could get a face lift for that amount but because his newly born babe bad to undergo certain medication he had to pay $75. Submissions were made to the Commonwealth Director of Health and he relied on the National Health Act and said:
For the purposes of the above definition a newly born child’ is taken to be 10 days or less old. In these circumstances Commonwealth benefit wouldnot be payable in respect of your child . . .
When Mr McCristal wrote to the Royal Hospital for Women he was told that it had been making representations. The hospital wrote and said:
We have approached the Government to amend the technicalities in the National Health Act so that this charge will be covered by benefits, but unfortunately considerable time has elapsed without appropriate amending regulations. Without this modern form of neonatal care, many of the babies receiving it would not survive and because of theintensive care given, the cost of maintaining a baby in neonatal intensive care is greater than the care for a normal adult patient.
It is about time we in this place set up an active committee to review these defects. I ask that these matters be corrected urgently.
– Order! It is now 15 minutes to 1 o’clock. In accordance with standing order 106, the debate is interrupted and I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 16 August (vide page 240), on motion by Sir Reginald Swartz:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Br PATTERSON (Dawson) (2.15)- This Bill is concerned with a project under the national water resources development programme, which is an agreement in effect between the Commonwealth and the States for the provision of Commonwealth moneys to extend water conservation throughout the various States. Up to the present time the programme has been well received by the States and Australians in general. The project for which this Bill provides financial assistance is a further development of this scheme. The Bill will provide funds of up to $2m for water reticulation works to pipe water from the Murray River to an area of land approximately 455,000 acres. Basically the pipeline will replace a most inefficient system which has been operating up to the present time, namely, the reticulation of water by means of open earth channels passing through an area with a climate which results in a very high evaporation ratio. It is estimated by the Government that approximately 70 per cent of the water pumped through the present system is lost through evaporation. The installation of a more efficient pumping mechanism and an enclosed pipeline will enable the efficient reticulation of water with a minimum of wastage. The figures given by the Government show that the water diversions from the Murray River will be reduced from about 8,200 to 2,670 acre feet per annum because of the reduction of losses achieved with the new scheme.
In addition to replacing the present inefficient reticulation system, the principal objective of the new works is to enable water to be utilised on farms basically for stock and associated storages. It will also allow a better way of life for people who live in the area west of Mildura where this scheme will be situated. It will enable them to have lawns. One might argue, of course, that this is a waste of water. There are a lot of things in life which I believe add to efficiency but which are qualitative rather than quantitative. I think that having green lawns, shrubs and trees around one’s house often adds to productivity rather than detracting from it, as a purely quantitative argument would suggest-
I assume that this scheme has been thoroughly investigated not only by Victoria but by the Commonwealth. It will replace the present scheme, and one would think that it would reduce the cost of production to someone. It may be the cost of water to the users of the water - the farmers themselves, the townspeople or others who use the water - or the costs of the Victorian Government. It will obviously reduce costs to somebody because losses involved through the present reticulation system will be overcome. The new scheme will involve a pumping station at Lake Cullulleraine and also associated water drawing engineering to make the pumping station and ancillary works efficient. It will involve also the construction of the storage tank approximately 8 miles south west of Werrimull which will have a capacity of approximately 150 acre feet. This will enable the area to be commandable from the reservoir. There will also be reticulation by pipeline from the storage tank to the farms and various other outlets. The amount of money being made available could be used, if necessary, for any acquisition of land that may be involved in this proposal.
The Opposition supports the Bill, because to the best of our knowledge and from the evidence I can find it is soundly based. The proposed new works will replace an inefficient system, will provide a better way of life to people living in the area and will reduce the present costs of production being experienced with the old scheme. 1 would however raise a point that I raise on every debate of this nature. I believe that the Parliament is entitled to have more analytical information about projects such as the one we are discussing. We are being asked to endorse the Government’s decision to make available $2m by way of grant, as distinct from an interest-bearing loan, without any semblance of analyses to support it. One would think that information on a programme such as this could be made available. It was made available in relation to the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia, which is basically the same type of proposal - the reticulation of water by pipeline from a reservoir to wool and sheep properties. Information on that scheme was made available following surveys and benefit-cost analyses by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, and members of the Parliament and others were able to analyse that information to support arguments in the Parliament for or against the proposal. So I can see no reason why more analytical information on the project we are considering could not be made available. Perhaps the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) is to make it available to the Parliament at a later stage. But if we are being asked to appropriate money we should at least have some analytical information available. The precedent exists. Full analyses of the Brigalow scheme and the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia were made available to the- Parliament. But there seems to be a reluctance by the Government to provide information to the Parliament about the : present scheme, particularly information with a bearing on economic arguments.
This proposal is part of the national water resources development programme. Up to the present time approximately $150m has been allocated by the Commonwealth under this programme for water development projects in Australia, but so far only about $91m has actually been made available to the States through the various decisions of the Commonwealth Government. Approximately $60m has not yet been committed. The procedure whereby decisions to allocate funds under the programme are taken by the Government is that the States submit to the Commonwealth various water conservation projects after, I assume, investigating them thoroughly, approving them in principle and then in some instances allocating priorities to them from a State point of view. The Commonwealth then investigates the projects and on the basis of various Cabinet submissions determines its own priorities.
Again, one can raise the question of the ad hoc or piecemeal approach that the Commonwealth takes towards development projects. I think that the Parliament would be gratified to know just what the Department of National Development is doing in this field and the projects it has on its plate with respect to this development programme, namely, the national water resources programme. In Queensland there are a number of projects, such as the Urannah dam and the North Eton irrigation scheme, and in New South Wales and other States proposals have also been advanced. I assume that all these are being analysed by the familiar techniques of comparative benefit-cost analysis which basically is a tool to compare like projects and to allocate priorities within the bounds of available funds. I cannot see why the Parliament cannot be given more information on these various proposals.
I have mentioned time and time again in this House one project in which I am very interested because I have done my own calculations on it and I am most anxious to compare them wilh the figures that may be released officially. That project is the North Eton irrigation scheme in north Queensland, which is capable of rather simple analysis because it involves an established area in which the benefits and costs are reasonably easy to assess. It is far easier to assess this area than areas which have not been established, because most of the benefits are either in preventing losses involved through droughts or in increasing productivity from a particular area of land. So, the benefits and costs of the whole project are not difficult to assess and there seems to be no reason why a decision cannot be taken one way or another according to the criteria laid down by the Commonwealth. However, after 12 or 18 months we still cannot get even an indication of an answer from the Commonwealth.
As the Minister for National Development knows, I have taken this matter up with him on several occasions. If we were dealing with a major development proposal such as some of those we have had in the past - such as the Ord River scheme, the Monduran dam or the Fairbairn dam- one could understand the time involved because we would be dealing then with variables which would be most difficult to measure, particularly if it were a new project. But when one is dealing with an established project in an established area in which the benefits and costs are reasonably easy to define, as they are in the case of this project, there is no reason why this information should not be made available and a decision taken by the Government. Perhaps the Government is waiting until its election policy is announced. I do not subscribe to this type of waiting. I am worried that a major drought could be developing in central and north Queensland. We have not had a major drought there for a considerable number of years and I hope we never get another one; but, as sure as night follows day, there will be another one. When that happens, of course, there will be mounting criticism of the Government for delaying the decision on a rather simple scheme, supported or not supported.
The same argument could be applied in other parts of Queensland and New South Wales in the drought areas where proposals have been advanced. I believe that one of the greatest priorities in drought devastated areas - in proven . areas rather than areas not proven - is to provide water if that water will reduce losses. Obviously, the project would have to be soundly based. So, I cannot emphasise too strongly the need for the Commonwealth to take a more progressive attitude to development projects. I have always criticised and will continue to criticise the ad hoc approach of taking projects in isolation, so far as the Parliament is concerned, and having to pass judgment on those projects individually.. We have seen it happen right down the line ever since I came here. I am not suggesting that this is the’ way that the Department works in allocating priorities. I would think that it would compare alternatives and advise the Cabinet of the various proposals and the various priorities as it sees them from a factual departmental point of view and that the Government would place qualitative criteria on those decisions in order to arrive, at a decision based quite rightly not only on quantitative criteria but also on qualitative criteria.
After all, if we have’ to justify everything on pure economic grounds - whether it be a development project, the establishment of secondary industries, tariffs or the establishment of tertiary industries - we will not have very much secondary industry in Australia and we certainly will have a diminution of other industries. So, it is quite clear that we must accept the fact that in Australia we have people and that those people must be protected in a number of ways - not only in economic ways but also in non-economic ways. All of these criteria must be brought into a comparative benefit-cost analysis. Of course, it is up to the departments to give the government of the day the facts, which then allows the government to put its weightings on non-economic factors.
I think everybody, including Government supporters, would agree wtih those remarks and qualifications. There is a need to provide the Parliament with more information about the figures backing the judgment. It is a request that should not be taken lightly. It is a request to which I hope the Minister for National Development will give consideration. If we are to make decisions that involve public money, as this decision does, we are entitled to have that information. With that qualification, the Opposition completely supports the proposition. As far as I am concerned, from the evidence that I have been able to secure, the project is sound. It will add net benefits to the nation. The investment will be worth while, particularly when one looks at the saving in water alone. One could say that each year something like 6,000 acre feet of water is wasted - at least, the water goes back into the ground or into the air through leakage or evaporation. Getting that water back into the channels one way or another costs money. So, in terms of the benefits and costs, there is no question that this project will mean a national saving, whether it be to the farmers, the State or the nation. The national saving will be to somebody and, on available evidence anyhow, it therefore can be judged to be a sound project. The Opposition therefore supports the Bill.
– I am, of course, overjoyed that the Federal Government is to allocate $2m to this scheme. It really is a Victorian scheme. The Victorian Government has gone into the finest detail in examining the worth of the scheme and has backed it with $900,000, which it has already put into operation for the scheme. With the State Government putting in $900,000 and the Federal Government allocating $2m, we believe that that will be sufficient to complete the scheme, which I believe is unique in Australia. For several reasons, which I hope to be able to explain, I do not think that we can compare this scheme with what is happening in Queensland or in other States. We may be able to compare it with schemes that may take place in the future in South Australia or in other parts of Australia.
Ever since I entered this House - I think it was in the first month I was here - I have advocated priorities and, even though it may be tedious repetition, I still advocate the same priorities. I can show honourable members 20 places in Hansard where I have advocated these priorities. I have said that priority No. 1 should be defence. It is no good our having these schemes, good farms, houses, motor cars and a democratic government if we cannot protect them. So above all, this country should support defence. Perhaps some people in metropolitan areas would not agree with this, but I believe that the second priority is primary industry, coupled with satisfactory water conservation. Primary industry, as much as anything else, has built this country. The main factor in building up our national wealth has been primary industry, until recently when we have moved more into secondary industry which, of course, has priced itself out of world markets. But, nevertheless, we still depend to a large extent on primary industry.
I have always supported primary industry. If anybody asked me the main reason why I have supported it - whether it is because I know a lot of farmers or districts in Victoria and in other areas where I have lived; I have not lived in a city - I would say it was because primary industry, through the years, has produced the goods or, perhaps I should say, a surplus of primary products that have been sent overseas. The sale of these goods has built up our overseas balances. This has not resulted in money coming back to Australia but it has provided the means for purchasing all sorts of equipment. Without this equipment it would have been absolutely impossible to construct schemes such as the Snowy Mountains scheme.
Some people ask why the Snowy Mountains scheme was not started years earlier. The point is that you could not do the work with a horse and dray. But by the use of up to date earth moving equipment the scheme became a reality. We were able to purchase this equipment with the overseas reserves which had been built up by the sale of primary industry products. Therefore, I believe that by supporting primary industry - we in the Australian Country Party do this right up to the hilt - we are taking a national line.
-Order! I remind the honourable member that this is a Bill appropriating an amount of $2m for a certain purpose. It does not cover the whole ambit of primary industries. I suggest that the honourable member should return to the Bill. So far he has not mentioned it.
– If I may just add this one word, I have been saying that the provision of a water supply makes it possible to establish and maintain primary industry in many instances. To get back to the Bill, I shall refer to the explanatory notes which have been distributed by the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz). In those explanatory notes he says:
The Millewa Domestic and Stock Water Supply Pipeline Scheme will provide a continuous pressurised supply of water for household use and watering of stock on 126 holdings covering 560,000 acres in the area known as ‘the Millewa’ west of Mildura.
It is west of what we call Sunraysia which comprises Red Cliffs and Merbein, as well as Mildura. Of course, it is situated in the electorate that I represent. From 1946 to 1949 in this House I represented the electorate of Wimmera, the electorate which sometimes even now honourable members say I represent in this House. As the member for both Wimmera and Mallee I represented the Millewa.
– What is the electorate called now?
– Since then it has been known as the electorate of Mallee. I have said that this scheme was peculiar as compared with other schemes because in the Mallee much water is lost by evaporation and seepage. It is highly desirable that more plans for water conservation by the piping of water be brought into effect if we are to make full use of the water which we conserve in Australia. I think I would be keeping to the Bill if I referred to a statement made by a former high official of the Victoria State Rivers and Water Supply Commission; Mr East. He said that well over 90 per cent of water is lost through seepage and evaporation between the reservoirs and the consumers of water in the Mallee. ‘So the fact remains that if we can get this water piped it will be equal at least to a duplication of all the storages from which water is supplied as far as much of the Mallee is concerned.
We know that we can construct large storages but sometimes, because of drought conditions, we cannot fill them. It is of no good having a lot of storages half empty. If we can fill the storages, that is all right. But if we cannot do so, because of any circumstances you would like to mention, we must make the best use of the water that we can conserve. Therefore, I am highly delighted about this scheme in the Millewa. Of course, all sorts- of details have been studied by the Victorian Government. As I mentioned before you, Mr Speaker, requested me to return’ to the Bill, the Victorian Government already has : spent $900,000 on this scheme and the Federal Government is to provide a grant of $2m in order to complete the scheme.
When Mr East was a high official in the State Rivers and Water Supply’ Commission all sorts of things were raised against this pipe lining. The first matter ‘ raised was that there was not the means of supplying the necessary equipment to do the work. Another matter was that many men work in the open earth channels in order to ‘ clean them, out every year and that the implementation of this scheme would result in a fair amount of unemployment throughout the area. But these matters have not the same strength now as they had previously.
The Minister in his explanatory notes stated - and this is very true:
In addition to large losses of water, the present open channel system presents a weed and vermin problem.
This vermin problem was very noticeable when rabbits were very thick in the area. They used to burrow into the banks of the channels and cause general havoc in many ways. The Victorian Government looked into the position and it had an alternative. . There was already a scheme in this area involving open channels. But the pumping plant and everything else had deteriorated tremendously, and it was a question of putting money into reconditioning the equipment that was there and still not having a satisfactory way of conveying the water, or of scrapping the old scheme altogether and implementing a new scheme of water conservation through the pipe lining channels. I think that very wisely it was decided to adopt the latter scheme. The people in the area are delighted that this scheme is being implemented. Therefore, the Bill has my support.
I will not make a long speech in this debate for the simple reason that the scheme has so much merit that there is no need to dwell on it. If 1 was referring to a scheme which was rather doubtful I would have to go into the matter in more detail. From all the details that have been presented to and by the Victorians, they believe that this is one of the best schemes that have been implemented in Victoria so far. I hope that it is only the forerunner and that the piping of water will be extended to many other parts of the Mallee.
Finally, although I have not had a chance to show this article to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) who is sitting at the table, I ask leave to have it incorporated in Hansard. It is entitled ‘Benefits of the Scheme’. It sets out most of the benefits which this scheme will bring to the people in the Millewa area and also to the general increase in primary production which will occur in the area.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows:
Benefits of the Scheme
Construction of the pipeline is not expected to change greatly the existing pattern of production. However, an increase in the stocking rate is probable as water will be made available closer to improved pastures. Although it is difficult to determine the increase in stocking rate, it is considered that there could be an increase of up to 20 per cent in stock numbers.
A major benefit of the proposed scheme will be the reduction in annual operation and maintenance costs. Whilst the pipeline scheme will involve a larger initial capital cost this will be more than compensated by savings in annual costs. Additionally costs will be reduced on the individual properties due to reductions in expenditure by landholders for desilting dams and channel renovation.
Retention of the existing system of distribution through open channels would require significant capital expenditure for the rehabilitation of the pumping stations and rising mains which are nearing the end of their useful life. Operation and maintenance costs of a rehabilitated channel system would still be comparatively high.
The scheme will provide water under pressure in adequate quantities for household uses, including the watering of gardens, with consequent improvement in the living environment of settlers. No adverse effects on other aspects of the environment are likely to occur with the new scheme.
– I support the Bill because there is no real reason to oppose it in the strict sense. I rise to point out, as I have pointed out on previous occasions, the concern regarding water that is taken from the River Murray system generally. In his second reading speech the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) said that the grant is to be made in phase 2 of the national water resources development programme. Bearing that in mind, one can perhaps elaborate on the concern that has been expressed from time to time on this side of the House in regard to the present Government’s attitude towards water conservation and water resources generally in the Murray River. The Government should apply itself to the catchment area not only of the Murray River but also of the Darling River. 1 have raised this matter on a number of occasions since I have been in this place.
One further aspect of this matter is that once again the Government has brought down a measure limited to serve a particular area of Victoria. As has been said by previous speakers, the Government intends to replace on open drain by pipelines. According to the Minister’s second reading speech, this will reduce the amount of water taken from the River Murray. One turns, naturally, to some form of documentation provided to the Parliament which would confirm what the Minister said in his second reading speech. I am referring to the explanatory memorandum. I have searched the explanatory memorandum in the brief time in which it has been made available to honourable members and I am unable to ascertain from that document whether less water will be pumped from the River Murray system into this area, which is reasonably regarded as a pretty arid portion of Victoria.
The map contained within the memorandum is somewhat misleading also. It goes into some detail in its main portion and gives the outline of the borders of that State coloured in black. In the northwestern corner of the diagram is the area which one can perhaps say will be the area to benefit from the expenditure of this $2m plus whatever the Victorian Government has decided to contribute. I would like the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns), who is at the table, or the Minister for National Development to indicate finally whether the shaded portion in the centre of the foot of the main map is concerned with this so-called developmental project. If it is, it extends from the boundaries of Victoria into the boundaries of New South Wales, in the north-western corner of the map, but it does not extend into the border areas of South Australia. In his second reading speech the Minister for National Development said:
Water diversions from the Murray River will be reduced from about 8,200 to 2,670 acre feet per annum, because of the reduction of losses achieved with the new scheme.
It is true that it does not require any great elaboration for one to realise that there will be a saving in water by the introduction of a pipeline as compared with an open drain.
– They do not call them drains up there.
– The honourable member may call them what he likes. When I have gone past them they were drains in the true sense of the word.
– The honourable member may call them channels, canals or whatever he likes. In spite of the fact that the honourable member made a lot of shots at people who live in suburban and city areas I did not interject upon him, and I suggest that the honourable member for Mallee, having said his piece, should leave it at that.
The documents before the House do not prove what the Minister said in his second reading speech relating to a reduction. The memorandum points out that there could be a 20 per cent increase in stockholding, for a start. The Minister said that it is not expected that there will be any great environmental problems as a result of this scheme. I agree with the Government’s attitude as it is spelt out in the second reading speech. I disagree with the document, which does not support what the Minister said, and which states that there should be some form of restriction. Much of this so-called developed area in South Australia and Victoria or land of a similar type should never have been developed anyway and should never have had a plough, a harrow or any agricultural implement put upon it. It has cost the country a great deal. It can never be regarded as being viable. That is spelt out in the document before the House. About one-third of the original settlers have been forced off their properties, or starved off their properties, because they could not scratch a living out of this pretty arid area. If there is to be a restriction it ought to be spelt out in the document.
The document says that there is a requirement for each farmer, irrespective of whether or not he is a rich land owner, who is going to have water delivered by a pipeline to provide at least 5,000 gallons storage capacity on his own property. There is nothing in this document to say that a land owner may not irrigate. He may grow nice roses if. he can or may grow some lawns around: his. homestead but there is nothing to say that he may not irrigate. There is no restriction on his gallonage. It may be that a fellow on the 12- inch pipeline will have . some advantage over the fellow from the more remote area on the 1-inch pipeline. I think restrictions would be imposed on a producer according to what type of service he receives. One can reasonably assume that if there is to be an increase in stockholding in the area it will be brought about by increasing irrigation. If there is an increase in irrigation will we be faced in a few years time with the problems that are now facing the Government as a result of its not having sufficient foresight to prevent millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money going to rural areas. I believe that the. taxpayers should be required to bear some responsibility for rural areas in such things as support schemes but I think that the taxpayer has every right to object to schemes of this nature being put up for which he pays initially and for which he is forced to pay threefold or even more later on.
One should go back 10 years and look at the Government’s scheme - particularly the Country Party’s scheme1 - for the areas adjacent to the area we are talking about now. Vast acreages of fruit trees - pears and peaches - were put in, trees were pulled out and then planted again. We heard the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) say in this place only the other night that finance will be made available for a vast scheme of tree pulling. Who is paying for it? The rural producer is disappointed because he has not been able to market his product for a number of years. He has made his complaints known to political parties in this place and they are going to do something about it. Money was wasted because the farmers were advised and encouraged to plant such vast acreages of fruit and sufficient market research was not made. The produce is unmarketable today. lt is said that the scheme will permit a 20 per cent increase in stockholding. Let us look at the type of stock that runs on this land today. It consists almost entirely of rural products for which the Government has failed to secure proper markets. Only in the last 24 hours I heard that a prominent-
– As this is a Bill for a domestic irrigation scheme and has nothing to do with general purpose irrigation of fruit I consider that the honourable member is off the point.
-Order! The honourable member is referring to the statements made in the second reading speech of the Minister regarding the running of stock and he is entitled to refer to that subject. However, he is not entitled to make the whole of his speech on that subject. He may make passing reference to it. Up to date he has not overstepped the mark.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. The honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) who just took the point of order is somewhat touchy on this subject because the matters I have mentioned concern his electorate. 1 am concerned about the 20 pel cent increase. For God’s sake, let us not continue in the manner we have in this House for years and urge people to carry more stock when we cannot find a market for their present production. It is not common sense. If I may transgress for a short time, I was about to say that not one member of the Government has taken himself overseas seriously concerned with the marketing problems confronting the people he purports to represent, as have the representatives of Canada in China because it represents 90 per cent of their overseas trade.
-Order! The honourable member will recall-
– I appreciate your allowing me to get that little bit in. I did it only because I was under pressure from criticism by the young fellow from Murray.
-Order! The correct way to address the honourable member is ‘the honourable member for Murray’.
– I could not think of his name but it is the honourable member for Murray. I did not say ‘Mallee’, I said Murray’. I made it quite clear what a responsible government should do about this matter and I would appreciate it if the Minister for Housing who is at the table or another Minister or a member of the Government Parties when he speaks in this debate would spell out to me - I am quite a simple person - how the Minister can say in the memorandum or the second reading speech that he will take less out of ‘.he river, irrigate more, increase the stock in the area by 20 per cent, provide storages on farms but not restrict the area of land a person can irrigate. Taking into consideration the fact that none of those restrictions are in the memorandum or the second reading speech, how can the Government say in truth-
– Ninety per cent of the water is lost in open channels; that is the answer.
– I must give him the answer.
-The honourable member has been here long enough to know that all interjections are out of order, particularly when they are made by an honourable member who has already spoken in the debate.
– If you will permit me to say so, Mr Speaker, I think I know enough about evaporation. If a drop of water is put into a kettle without a lid it will evaporate through the opening. That also applies to the honourable member for Mallee.
– I am talking about seepage.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Sturt come back to the Bill.
– I support the Bill, but the Government should not think that we on this side of the House are a bunch of clots and that it can put this sort of thing into the Bill and memorandum without spelling out properly,, in a way any intelligent person can understand, what its intentions are. Let it say: “This is tie element that will support it’. But it should not present a document on the basis that the Government will do certain things when it does not have a snowball’s chance of carrying them out within the terms of the memorandum.
– I have not heard so much tripe spoken on a subject for a long time. This Bill relates to the Millewa domestic and stock water supply pipeline scheme. It is described in that way in paragraph 1 of the explanatory memorandum. In Victoria there are 2 types of water supply scheme designated by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission. There are those for irrigation and those for stock and domestic supply. Where a scheme is designated as a stock and domestic supply scheme, irrigation is not permitted and all the talk from the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) about fruit and the setting aside of large areas for irrigation shows his abysmal ignorance on the subject of irrigation. The explanatory memorandum indicates that the major pipe through which the water will be pumped will be a 12-inch pipe. Once again anyone who knows anythink about irrigation will know that a 12-inch pipe for irrigation is a fairly common size pipe for water supply to an irrigated farm. It is completely absurd for anybody to say that a 12-inch pipe can irrigate almost half a million acres of land, which is the area to be serviced by this stock and domestic supply scheme.
If the honourable member for Sturt had bothered to check through his own State and had seen the stock and domestic water supply system in the mallee area of South Australia he would be very well aware of this. If he had bothered to go through
Millewa - I was there recently - he would have seen some of these pipes in the ground and would have known that by the time they reach the average property they come down to about a 1 inch piece of polythene pipe. Certainly one can water one’s front lawn with this diameter pipe but that is about all. As it is a stock and domestic pipeline its purpose is quite clear and the restrictions on the use of water are quite clear. It is to replace the present inefficient open channel system from which most of the water is lost through seepage and evaporation. By way of comparison, it is now compulsory to have a 5,000 gallon storage tank on each property whereas previously it was compulsory to have a large number of very big open earth dams with the consequent considerable loss through evaporation and seepage. The saving in water pumped from the Murray into this system will be considerable and of advantage not only to the whole Murray system but also to the people of South Australia downstream from this area. I believe this is a most forward step which has been taken by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria to put this pipeline in this area. Perhaps it should have been done originally, as South Australia did with many of its schemes. It is certainly a good move now and I congratulate the Government for supporting the scheme.
– 1 would like to make a small contribution to the debate on this Bill. As was indicated by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), the Opposition does not intend to oppose the Bill. In his second reading speech the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) refers to the national water resources development programme which was part of the scheme to give the States $100m for rural water conservation and supply works, flood mitigation and water measurement. This Bill covers the extension of this programme to a particular area of Victoria. The Press statement made by the Minister for National Development and the Victorian Minister for Water Supply refers to the Millewa scheme in the following terms:
The project was not expected to change greatly present production of the area which was primarily wool and fat lambs together with wheat, barley and oats and some cattle grazing.
The Ministers said the scheme would allow an expanded sheep population to utilise fully the improved pastures developed in recent years.
I do not think there is anything controversial in that or anything with which anyone would disagree. I have not been to the area and could not dispute what has been said. But in the Grey electorate we have a similar area which has been the subject of an approach for a grant under the national water resources development programme. We certainly do not have the River Murray alongside but there is the Polda scheme which when connected with the other schemes on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, can supply a great volume of stock water and water for other purposes to this fairly large area. There is one area near Kimba in the middle of the Eyre Peninsula which has been in trouble for a number of years through lack of water. It is a productive area but the whole trouble is that there is no surface water. The South Australian Government decided to allocate a certain amount of money to put in a pipeline from Lock to Kimba to service this area with water. Unfortunately the South Australian Government because of its limited finances has been able to allocate only so much a year for this scheme. It has done this and has made application to the Commonwealth for assistance under the national water resources scheme.
– Order! The honourable member is not speaking to the Bill. This has nothing to do with the scheme in South Australia. The honourable member has not as yet shown the relationship of his remarks to the provisions of this Bill. I hope that he will soon do so.
– I want to make a comparison between the 2 schemes. I have already mentioned the produce from the electorate of Grey and I will refer to an answer given to me last year by the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) in reference to the Lock-Kimba scheme which services an area which also produces wool, wheat, barley and oats. In answer to my question the Minister said:
The Premier of South Australia has now been informed that the Commonwealth is not prepared to consider financial assistance for the Lock-Kimba scheme at this stage. Having regard to the uncertain situation in the wool industry it is deemed inappropriate to provide special assistance under the National Water Resources Development Programme to support an expansion in the industry in one area, at the same time as the Government is involved in measures to alleviate the economic problems of the industry generally.
The request for financial assistance was refused because it was considered that there was no future for sheep in that area. A Press statement by the Minister in conjunction with the Victorian Minister for Water Supply is as follows:
The Ministers said the scheme would allow an expanded sheep population to utilise fully the improved pastures developed in recent years.
What the Minister for National Development said last year in reference to the Lock-Kimba pipeline contradicts what he has had to say about this scheme. I am in no way trying to knock or oppose this scheme but I would like the Federal Government to apply the same thinking to the Lock-Kimba scheme. I would like to develop this argument a little further but I think that you, Mr Speaker, would probably call me to order. Now that the Government of South Australia has again made a submission to the Commonwealth for assistance to complete the Lock-Kimba pipeline, I hope that the Commonwealth will give sympathetic consideration to South Australia’s request as it did to the request of the Victorian Government. The Victorian scheme is to cost $2.9m and the State Government has already spent $900,000 and the Commonwealth Government will come to the party with the remaining $2m. The South Australian Government is certainly playing its part. Last week it allocated a further $675,000 to the Lock-Kimba scheme and I hope that the Commonwealth Government will give further consideration to the submission made by the South Australian Government requesting financial assistance to enable the scheme to be finalised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Motion (by Mr Kevin Cairns) - by leave - proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I just want to comment on the Minister’s absence from the chamber. Probably he has been called out of the chamber because of pressing priorities on business but when questions are raised on a Bill which is before the House it is usual for the Minister in charge of the Bill to reply to those questions. I will not place the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns), who is at the table, in an embarrassing position because obviously he cannot answer the questions. Opposition members asked several questions during the course of this debate. Those questions did not involve any secrets or Government policy and one would have thought that they would have been answered. As I have said, I accept the fact that the Minister has possibly been called out of the chamber to deal with a priority matter but 1 think that as a matter of courtesy to the House we should have answers to the questions which have been raised. After all, $2m is involved in this scheme under discussion. Certain questions were asked by myself and other honourable members in this debate and it is usual for the Minister in replying to a second reading debate to answer those quesions. I just make that point. I think that the Minister should be present or perhaps some explanation given to the House for his absence.
– When the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) asked how it was possible that this pipeline would mean that less water would be taken out of the River Murray than would be the case with open earthen channels, I tried to give him the answer by way of interjection but knowing that interjections are out of order I refrained. I now give the information. I referred in my speech to Mr East, the head of the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, who is an expert on irrigation. He has said that over 90 per cent of water is lost by evaporation and seepage. The answer to the query put by the honourable member for Sturt is that this quantity of water will not be lost by evaporation and seepage and therefore, with the use of a pipeline it will not be necessary to take so much water out of the River Murray.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16 August (vide page 241), on motion by Mr Peacock:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill simply takes from the Papua New Guinea Act a restriction on the size of the Ministry of the Government of Papua New Guinea. The present Act limits the Ministry to 17. The Bill simply deletes from the Act the limiting clause. The Opposition therefore supports this measure, more so because we know this measure has been requested by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea, Mr Michael Somare. The Opposition hopes, however, that the Minister is giving active consideration to the removal from the Papua New Guinea Act of those sections of the Act which give the power of veto or reservation to the Administrator and to the Minister in Canberra. I think it would be true to say that at the present time Papua New Guinea has de facto self-government but not de jure self-government. It has de facto self-government because at the present time the Minister and the Commonwealth are not intervening, nor is the Administrator, to limit or to reserve any legislation which is coming before the House.
However, there is a curious duality about the Government of Papua New Guinea at the present time. There seems to be still in the Administrator’s office some sort of decisive control over the police, and I rather wonder whether it would not be wiser to encourage Papua New Guinea to develop a Ministry of Police of its own so that in such developments as took place on the Gazelle Peninsula, when the late Mr Jack Emmanuel was perhaps the victim of a clash produced between the Administration and the people from a particular part of the Gazelle Peninsula, it would have been much better, I feel, if the dialogue with the people of the locality had been the responsibility of the Government of Papua New Guinea rather than of an officer of the Administration. I think that there are certain dangers in our present transitional period and I think that the Minister is taking a step to eliminate one of them. There is no reason why the Chief Minister should not create new ministries. The Opposition, therefore, has no objection to this legislation.
– This Bill will give effect to the creation of additional Ministries in the Territory of Papua New
Guinea. As the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) said in his second reading speech, this Bill flows from a formal request from the Government of Papua New Guinea. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) raised the question of the present duality that exists in the transition towards self government and independence. This is not an abstract matter but is one of vital importance to Australia. Most important is the fact that there is a section of the Australian Army - not a Papua New Guinea army or the Pacific Islands Regiment but, I repeat, part of the Australian army in Papua New Guinea. The Minister may correct rae if I am wrong but it seems to me that this army is ambivalent in this situation because I am not sure to whom it is responsible at the moment and to whom it will be responsible in the near future.
These arrangements which led to the introduction of this Bill follow on talks between the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) and the Government of Papua New Guinea. According to the Press report it was resolved that these new ministerial positions were to be created, but in addition there was provision that the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea, Mr Somare, was henceforth the spokesman for defence matters and for the police.
It seems to me that we have a rather curious situation here. In the first place, the Chief Minister is to be the spokesman on the matter of defence, which equals, in that area, the Pacific Islands Regiment. But the Pacific Islands Regiment is not responsible to the Administrator’s Executive Council - it is part of the Australian Army. I should like the Minister, if he can, to explain this matter because I think it is an important point. In what way will the Chief Minister, a member of the AEC, speak on behalf of a body which is not responsible to him. When I first rose in this debate I said that this is not just a simple abstraction; it is a terribly important matter because in a sense, as the honourable member for Fremantle said, there is de facto self government. I congratulate the Minister for the work he has done in the past in allowing the course of self government to run as quickly as the Government of Papua New Guinea thinks desirable. Fortunately I think it agrees with the view of the Australian Labor Party that self government must be achieved as soon as practicable. Nevertheless, we have the situation where the PIR, if we have de facto self government in Papua New Guinea, is a colonial force. If that is the case - once again this is not a theoretical argument - what is the role of that force within the Territory?
We know the views of the previous Prime Minister, Mr Gorton. I do not think that Australia should even have its forces on anyone else’s soil but at least the previous Prime Minister went part of the way in regard to Malaysia when he said that he did not think that our forces there should take part in any operations against areas of civil conflict. If civil conflict arose in Papua New Guinea - I do not want to speculate as to possibilities because that is a subject for another time - we have part of the Australian Army based there. In this situation where we have de facto self government what will be the situation in the event of some internal dissension within Papua New Guinea? What is its relationship then to the Australian Government, the Australian Army and the AEC? I hope the Minister can enlighten the House on this question.
– 1 am interested in the point which has been taken already by the Government of Papua New Guinea, namely, that it needs much more parliamentary control over the affairs of its country. I believe that for too long parliaments have been inhibited in this approach and we have restricted the numbers of Ministers and’ so on. I know that all the members of the House do not feel the same way as I do about this matter but I believe that the only way the people of Papua New Guinea will control the development of their country is by the expansion of parliamentary control over the executive and legislative power of the nation. Therefore, I hope that its ministerial system develops with a full rapport between the people and the Parliament. I hope that they do not fall for the aberration which afflicts us here by which we have this junta or clique or however it is known - the Cabinet for colloquial reasons - and the mini-Ministry outside. I do not believe that the parliamentary system should encourage in any .way different levels of parliamentary participation. I congratulate the Ministry of Papua New Guinea for the perception with which it has approached the problem of parliamentary control of national affairs.
– in reply- I wish to refer briefly to matters raised particularly by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) and by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun). The term ‘de facto self government’ in fact should be used with great precision. If one uses the term ‘de facto self government’, ipso facto one is relating it to de jure self government. When one does that one also makes a distinction between self government as such - de jure self government - and independence. It is very important that people understand the distinction between self government and independence, particularly when discussing Australia’s relationship with Papua New Guinea. The constitutional talks that I have been having with the Ministry in Papua New Guinea have related to the transfer of administrative and legislative functions leading up to self government in that country.
The watershed in Australia’s relations with Papua New Guinea will come at independence and not at self government, whether it be de jure or, indeed, de facto, because we have responsibilities to the United Nations. We are bound by our agreement with the United Nations to be responsible In a variety of areas. This means that the agreement is not executed until the date of independence - the date of independence as distinct from any date for self government - and we maintain a role and are bound to do so under the terms of our agreement with the United Nations. Our role includes, among other things, defence and external affairs. Therefore, we are required under the terms of our agreement to be responsible for the Pacific Islands Regiment. Having put that to the honourable member I say that it has been a view consistently stated by me that in regard to any functions prior to the attainment of self government and in regard to all functions still held by the Australian Government prior to the attainment of independence, I would seek the opinion of the Government of Papua New Guinea before exercising the power that was still residing with me. In other words, in the areas of residual power I would seek the views of the Government of Papua New Guinea. Therefore, in important areas such as the fields of defence and police, where Papua New Guinea itself is contributing the overwhelming majority of personnel in both areas, it is of the utmost importance that the Government of Papua New Guinea be involved in any decisions made in relation to them.
The honourable member for Kingston queried the role of the spokesman. Honourable members should bear in mind that the spokesman for defence and the spokesman for the police were asked for by the Government of Papua New Guinea. In response to that request, as in so many other areas, we met that request. I would outline to the honourable member briefly, because we have only a moment to conclude the debate on this Bill, the fact that the spokesman will, of course, at this stage not have any powers of decision because the Australian Government will continue to be fully responsible for defence matters which is, as I say, in accordance with the requirements of the charter of the United Nations and, indeed, the New Guinea Trusteeship Agreement. So initially the functions of the spokesman will be limited to acting as a spokesman for the Administrator’s Executive Council - the Papua New Guinea Cabinet - on defence matters in the House of Assembly, including answering parliamentary questions and making defence statements. He will also be advising the Papua New Guinea Government in the formulation of its views on defence matters when they are referred to it by my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) or myself. He will be the spokesman consulting with the Administrator on matters relating to the development, organisation and training of the Papua New Guinea defence forces and he will be making public statements on defence and attending to ceremonial duties in his capacity as defence spokesman. As a consequence he will need and we will be supplying - and he will be enmeshing with those who are training and localising there - a small defence section which will be established within the Department of the Administrator to assist him as a defence spokesman.
As was pointed out in the communique referred to by the honourable member, the Chief Minister will be the defence spokesman in addition to his other duties and he will also be the spokesman for police. In regard to the question of the police force which was raised by the honourable member for Fremantle, this, of course, is also a basic power of government. It was touched on in the recent constitutional talks and, as I said, we agreed to the appointment of a police spokesman.
It is true at this juncture, as has been stated elsewhere, that no decision on the timing of the handover of control of internal security, which is wider than just police functions, has been reached. However, the timing of the transfer of any responsibility for things such as internal security will be a matter for decision in the context of the developing political and administrative arrangements between Australia and Papua New Guinea. As stated in relation to the defence matters and any residual powers which we may hold, we will be exercising them, albeit with final responsibility being vested in us, but nevertheless in conjunction with the Government of Papua New Guinea. It is our role to ensure that they discuss decisions that primarily affect them at all levels.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Peacock) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16 August (vide page 242), on motion by Mr Peacock:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I move:
That the second reading be postponed pending a renegotiation of the affairs of the Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd to provide for an indigenous equity of at least SO per cent.
I do not want to delay the House over this Bill but we feel that there is an important principle to be stated in relation to it. In 1952 the Commonwealth and a private company, Placer Development Ltd, created Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd. The Commonwealth and Placer Development Ltd both held 50 per cent of the shareholding in that company. The Commonwealth is selling out its shares and passing them over to the Investment Corporation of Papua New Guinea, which is an instrumentality of the Government of Papua New Guinea. So far so good. But to this new company will come other interests of Placer Development Ltd so that the Government of Papua New Guinea will have a 35 per cent shareholding and the private sector of the company will have a 65 per cent shareholding.
The trouble with so much in Papua New Guinea is that there is insufficient provision for indigenous ownership. It appears that as the economic trend of planning and so on is developing independence will come with expatriates owning about 90 per cent of secondary industry and indigenes owning about 10 per cent or less and expatriates owning 50 per cent of the value of agricultural production. As expatriates represent only a very small percentage of the population this is an unhealthy situation.
We believe, therefore, that where there is government action and ‘ where ‘ we are consciously handing over to the Government of Papua New Guinea a Commonwealth Government equity in any Papua New Guinea enterprise, and especially where we ourselves have had a 50 per cent holding as a government in relation to the private sector of a company, the indigenous equity should not be less. We regard this as an important principle. I am not sure of what the status of the agreement is when one moves an amendment of this character. But we believe that this principle should be stated and we are anxious that in all possible arrangements the Commonwealth Government can make between now and independence it should do its utmost to develop an indigenous equity in investment in Papua New Guinea.’
There will be a very large Japanese stake in the development of Papua New Guinea. Very few Australian businessmen are awake as early as Japanese businessmen and all of the actions of Japanese businessmen are co-ordinated by the Government of Japan. Japan has the most successful partnership between government and business that exists anywhere in the world. It is fair enough to call that country, ‘Japan Ltd*. There will be a government coming into power in Papua New Guinea very inexperienced in the business field. I think it is quite important that we, in our relationship with Papua New Guinea, should give the example when we are setting up a company, such as the one set out in the Bill, of ensuring that they have a decisive equity in that company because if they are to go into partnership with businessmen as astute as some of those operating around the world at the present time they may find that they will run into very serious trouble within a very few years of their independence. That is why we believe it is important to affirm this principle.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– We oppose the amendment. We do so because, with respect. I do not think my second reading speech has been read in sufficient detail; otherwise there would be no need for this amendment. May I very succinctly say what we have done in regard to this investment or what the Investment Corporation of Papua New Guinea has done. I made my announcement on 9th May and it was accepted then by the Opposition through the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I said that the Commonwealth Government had approved the sale of the Commonwealth’s 50 per cent shareholding in Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd to the Investment Corporation of Papua New Guinea. That 50 per cent shareholding was transferred to the Corporation. A condition of the sale of the Commonwealth’s interest in New Guinea Timbers was that upon transfer of the shares to the Investment Corporation, the other major shareholder, Placer Development Ltd, would arrange amalgamation of all its other interests in the fields - mining. mineral resources, mineral exploration and cattle breeding - and bring them together in the one amalgamated larger company to be known as Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd, and in that context of a much larger cake, if you like, the interest would be divided 65 per cent to Placer
Development Ltd and 35 per cent to the Investment Corporation.
I can say that at the time of the sale agreement negotiations the agreed net book value of Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd was $3. 2m. It was then to be owned 50 per cent by the Investment Corporation and 50 per cent by Placer Development Ltd. The amalgamation of other Placer subsidiaries in Papua New Guinea, valued at $2. 5m, into a new consolidated Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd, gave a total net book value of $5.7m of which the Investment Corporation’s overall share was 28 per cent.
As a result of complex financial considerations it was agreed that the Investment Corporation would receive 35 per cent of the share equity in the new Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd in return for the surrender of certain Commonwealth New Guinea debenture stocks held by the Investment Corporation as a result of the amalgamation of Placer interests. The overall result will be greater profitability for the Investment Corporation and therefore greater benefits to the people of Papua New Guinea.
In conclusion, referring to the point about Japanese investment, I think we have to face the fact that as the pace of development in Papua New Guinea quickens and the search for export markets widens, we must expect a corresponding diversification in Papua New Guinea’s sources of supply. It cannot simply be from Australia. I know that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) is well aware of this fact. I think that in the year ended 30th June 1971 Japan supplied 17.2 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s imports, the United States of America supplied 11.4 per cent, the United Kingdom supplied 3.9 per cent and Australia supplied 51.2 per cent.
– In seconding the amendment I want to say that it is well known that important members of the Liberal Government are interested as shareholders in Placer Development Ltd, particularly in New South Wales. I do not want to delay the House but will the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) give an assurance that pursuant to the Standing Orders no member of the Government is interested in Placer Development Ltd?
– I will take note of the question asked and will write to the honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen). He would know the details of the negotiations which I outlined earlier in the year in a statement to this House which was accepted, as I said earlier, by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I know that he is not making any implications but when a question such as this is raised I think I should look into it and advise him accordingly. I think he is well aware that our record on this matter is very good indeed. At the same time I do not know whether the allegations made by him are correct. The proper thing to do is to examine them. I will do so and correspond with him as soon as possible.
– I would like to raise some questions. The first is this: Why is it necessary to push this Bill through so quickly? I have no doubt that there is reasonable justification for it but I would like to know why. The Bill was presented to this House only last night and it is the sort of matter about which I would like much more information. As the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) knows, I contacted him last week some time seeking fairly comprehensive details relating to the companies involved in this merger transaction.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! It is advisable to raise these questions during the debate on the motion for the third reading.
– I am speaking to the amendment. Why not finish the thing and get it out of the way? It will take only another 30 seconds. Speaking to the amendment, what I really wanted was specific details of the sorts of conditions under which the newly merged organisation is to operate and the conditions under which the previous organisation operated. I am advised - admittedly I have no way of verifying this - that people outside this place, members of the Australian public, had some interest in this area and that they sought details on previous occasions about annual balance sheets and so on but were unable to obtain that sort of information.
– From whom did they request the information?
– I understand that they did so from the Commonwealth Government and from people involved in the timber industry. I do not know how right this is or whether it is correct.
– It is better to be right when you are saying things like that.
– I am saying that I do not know how correct this is. That is why I contacted the Minister. I sought this information in order to make up my own mind. The position we are in is that the Minister has not supplied the information in response to my queries yet we are expected to vote on this Bill. I would like to know what the royalty rate is. I have been told, for instance - I do not know whether it is right or not and have had no choice but to raise this sort of question now because of the speed with which this Bill is being pushed through, whereas I would have preferred to have been accurately informed - that the cost of timber supplied through Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd has been incredibly low compared with the cost of similar timber purchased in Australia. Even allowing for the higher cost structures here, the people interested cannot relate these 2 prices. There is some feeling that perhaps the people of New Guinea have not been getting the best return for their natural resources.
I would like to have had considerably more information on the . subject of royalties. It may well be that the Minister is right in saying that there is no substance in these sorts of queries which have been put to me, and by inference that is what he suggests, but I feel obliged to raise them and have no choice but to raise them at this stage because I have no other information available. I would be appreciative of the information if he is in a position to give it to me now.
– At the moment I am not in a position to do so. The reason, in fairness to myself and to my Department, is as follows: I gave notice of this matter on 9th May and it is now Thursday, 17th August. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) asked why this Bill is being pushed through. He was given notice on 9th May. On Monday of this week-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope>Order! The Minister is now out of order. He can give his reply at the third reading stage.
– I shall do so at the third reading stage.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr Peacock) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– The strong debating point on which the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) is to slam home his argument ought to be cleared up. The queries ‘ which I am presenting to the House were raised with me only about Thursday of last week and accordingly I could not let the Minister know what they were till Friday, the following day. I had no interest in and no knowledge of any of these matters until then. It is not unreasonable that these matters should have been raised. I would have thought that this sort of basic information would be at the Minister’s fingertips or his Department’s fingertips so that we could have had it and it could have been provided to me on Monday so that now I would have been accurately informed on these queries. It seems strange that we are to have a major business transaction involving millions of dollars of the public’s capital investment and involving a transmission affecting people for whom we have a very real material and a very strong moral commitment and we do not know the full details of it.
– in reply - I wish that the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) would tell the truth. As far as I understand it, he knows very well that I received the request for information on Monday, the 14th of this month. Irrespective of when people put information to him, I received the request for information on Monday, 14th. He should also know that the outline of this legislation was given in this House on 9th May. He also knows that more than 24 hours ago I spoke with him and said I had some information at my fingertips, to use his own words, but that I did not think it. was sufficiently detailed to supply to him, and I sought further information.
– That is fair enough.
– I did put. this to the honourable member, did I not?
– Let us face it. There was no cognisance or recognition of this in what the honourable member said a moment ago. He spoke as if I had not obtained the information and was deliberately seeking to prevent him from receiving the information he requested. In fact the information has been received by me today and I. will .be conveying it to the honourable member as soon as I possibly can. When the honourable member realises that he was given notice of this legislation on 9th May, that I received his request on 14th August and that the day on which I will supply the detailed information is 17th August, I think he will agree that the record is fairly satisfactory. ..
– Does this mean that you made decisions without even having the detailed Information yourself?
-No it does not.
– Of course it does.
– No, it does not. The detail has been returned to the Investment Corporation of Papua New -Guinea, and the honourable member would well know that when he asks specific questions we have to seek the information from the Corporation, but I wanted to check with the Administration itself. The honourable member knows how the Investment Corporation is operating at the present time.
I have a fair amount of information on royalty rates which have been imposed on Commonwealth ‘ New Guinea Timbers Ltd, and I will be supplying this to the honourable member. I hope to be able to do it before this day is out. The information is available and, as with most other things the honourable member has sought of me, not only do I try to be as expeditious as possible but I also try to convey to him as full an amount of information as is humanly possible. I think he would agree that that has generally been done. There is no intention, as he would well know, to mislead the House. In fact the legislation was put through on the basis that there appeared to be unanimity of purpose on the matter. This is what has been indicated to us in May. So it was a reasonable presumption that in this first week of the sittings before the Budget Bills commence being introduced we would get this Bill out of the way. It certainly was not any intention of the Government or myself to mislead. I will have the information conveyed to the honourable member as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– by leave - The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has already mentioned, in the Budget Speech, some significant features of the Government’s education programme for this financial year. I should like- to give the House further details of the programme, which covers a wide range of activities and reflects the emphasis which the Government continues to place on the development of educational services. I shall begin by outlining the progress that is being made with existing activities, and I shall then move on to deal with major new developments in the Government’s programme, in particular developments in Commonwealth scholarship schemes and in Commonwealth financial support for teacher education.
Over the last 5 years Commonwealth direct expenditure on education has more than doubled, from $193m in 1968-69 to an estimated $426min 1972-73. This year’s estimated expenditure will represent an increase of 20 per cent over last year’s. Details of Commonwealth expenditure on education from 1968-69 to the present year are set out in a table, which I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is granted. … (The document read as follows)
Direct Payments to the States
– The details given in this table show substantial increases in expenditure on a number of items, but by far the major increase is in Commonwealth payments to the States for education, which in total have increased from $206m last year to $250m this year - an increase of 21 per cent. These payments to the States are for universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges, technical colleges and schools. In the case of universities and colleges of advanced education, the present financial year will see the commencement of new triennial programmes of expenditure for the calendar years 1973 to 1975.I shall be making a statement to the House very soon on the recommendations which the Government has received on these triennial programmes and the decisions which it has made. For the present financial year, grants to the States for their universities, their colleges of advanced education and individual research projects supported by the Australian Research Grants Committee will total $144m, an increase of $ 15m over last year. Unmatched capital grants direct to the States, for technical training facilities, teachers colleges, pre-school teachers colleges, science laboratories, school libraries and general government school classroom construction, will total $63m in 1972-73- a substantial increase on last year’s figure of $46.5m.
Assistance to Schools
A development of very great interest that has taken place since budget time last year, in the Commonwealth’s programmes of payments to the States for educational purposes, is the announcement by the Prime
Minister (Mr McMahon) of new programmes of capital aid for primary and secondary schools. The first of the new programmes, which was announced in December last year, provided $20m for government schools over the 18 month period to the end of June 1973, and hence a substantial part of these funds - in fact $13m - is expected to be spent in this financial year. I have in fact visited schools which have been closed, knocked down and will be rebuilt as a result of these funds. These grants are being paid entirely without matching conditions attached to them and the States are being given the maximum freedom to allocate the additional resources to whatever they see as their priority areas of capital need in primary and secondary schools.
When this $20m has been spent, by the end of the present financial year, the second of the new programmes, which was announced in May this year, will take over. I will be introducing legislation as soon as possible for this $2 15m capital programme, which is designed to add very substantially to the funds available for school construction in both government and independent schools. Its purpose is to reduce inequalities in capital facilities, to speed up the rate of construction of new facilities and to enable outmoded facilities to be replaced more readily. The Commonwealth recognises that priorities differ between States, and the new programme will give them flexibility to devote the added resources to these differing priorities in the way they wish. The new funds for government schools will represent a net addition to what would otherwise have been spent on school construction. The capital grants for both government and independent schools under this second programme are planned to run at a slightly higher level in the latter part of the 5 year period which the programme will cover, in recognition of the fact that the existing programme of special grants for science laboratories will run out in June 1975. It is the Government’s intention that the construction of science laboratories will continue under the new, wider programme of capital grants.
– If this is an example of the honourable member’s interest and concern in education, I hope he will always sit on the side of the House he is on now. On the other hand, it is intended that the special programme for secondary school libraries for both government and independent schools, for which funds have been approved to December 1974, will continue as an addition to the new general programme because of the large outstanding requirement for libraries in both government and independent schools.
Another recent development of considerable interest has been the action taken by the Government to increase the level of assistance given to independent schools towards their running costs. Honourable members will already be familiar with the details of this, from the statements made by the right honourable the Prime Minister in December last year and May this year, and will know that the aim of the Government is to give independent schools an assurance that they will receive assistance on a basis that is continuing and that bears a relation to the cost of educating a child in a government school. On this latter point, I might mention that discussions are proceeding with the States concerning the basis on which the 20 per cent rate of Commonwealth assistance will be calculated. We hope to reach agreement with the States for them to increase their contributions to 20 per cent also. The actual Commonwealth payment to be made for each student in 1973 will be announced before schools break up at the end of the year. Legislation for this programme will be introduced shortly.
I would stress that, in considering these programmes of aid for schools they should be seen as part of the total programme of overall State and Commonwealth support for both government and independent schools. This Government’s policy has been to assist in providing all schools, both government and independent, with a basic level of recurrent funds. Where the Commonwealth makes funds available especially for capital purposes in schools, it has had objective tests applied to the demands from individual independent schools; in the new capital programme emphasis will be on the provision of basic facilities. In addition we have sought to strike at particular areas of educational disadvantage such as Aboriginal and migrant children, by making supplementary funds and resources available for the benefit of those children in all schools. If we look at the total picture of Government expenditure on both government and independent schools, we find that Government payments are weighted very heavily in favour of government schools. In 1971-72 the total recurrent and capital expenditure by Commonwealth and State governments for all schools and teachers colleges was estimated at over $ 1,070m, excluding transportation costs. Of this amount approximately $ 1,000m was for the government sector and only $70m, or 7 per cent, for direct assistance to the independent sector even though the latter caters for 22 per cent of all enrolments.
Indirect Assistance to the States
In considering the increase in Commonwealth direct payments to the States’ for educational purposes, it is important not to overlook the improvements which have also taken place recently in the States’ general financial situation and hence in their capacity to devote more funds of their own to education. Following the Premiers Conference and Loan Council discussions in June this year, it is estimated that in 1972-73 the States will receive general revenue grants of $ 1,692m, that is, almost $225m or 15 per cent greater than the comparable figure at this time last year. General revenue grants from the Commonwealth and payroll tax, which the Commonwealth transferred to the States last year, together comprise over 50 per cent of State general revenues. On this basis the Commonwealth can fairly claim to be providing more than a half of the total recurrent expenditure by governments on education in Australia. As evidence of the extent to which the development of States’ general resources does help them to spend more on education, we need only look at their budgets in 1971-72 which provided for an increase in educational expenditure of 17 per cent or nearly S200m over the previous year.
As far as capital expenditure is concerned, the Commonwealth has agreed to support a works and housing programme of $982m in 1972-73, that is, 10 per cent above the figure for the previous year. The Commonwealth has recognised the special claims for assistance for those fields of endeavour which do not produce revenue and, as part of the works and housing programme, has provided interest free grants which may be used in such fields, of which education is a notable one, instead of loan funds. These grants are expected to amount to nearly $250m in 1972-73.
Research in Education
It is only to be expected that a’ report of this nature to .Parliament, must to some extent become a recitation ..of . financial - items. But the pursuit of quality in education involves much more than finance. I have spoken often of the . valuable contribution that well-directed research can make to educational progress. The Australian Advisory Committee one Research and Development in Education, -which the Government- established in . 1970, has : already made a significant, contribution in this area through its support , for a variety : of projects. An amount of $300,000 repre- . senting an increase of 21 per Cent. Over last - year, has been provided for the’ projects - recommended by the Committee in 1972- 73. The Committee has told me that the funds which can usefully be allocated are limited by a dumber of factors, including the supply of trained research , workers, and the expenditure estimated for 1972-73 reflects the level of productive activities which the Committee believes can be sup- ported at this stage.
One of the ways in which the Commonwealth supports education in Australia is through the grants-in-aid which .it gives to educational organisations or . enterprises which are of a national . character but which operate independently of government and which to a considerable extent finance their own activities, calling upon the Government for a degree of additional assistance. In these cases the amount of grant given by the Commonwealth is often modest but its effect substantial in ensuring the viability or permitting the further,, development of a worthwhile organisation, or activity. Grants of this kind are given to the Australian Association for Adult Education, the Current Affairs Bulletin, the Australian Pre-School Association, the Australian Council for Educational Research and the Lady Gowrie Child Centres. These grants are increasing, in total, from $310,000 in 1971-72 to $361,000 in 1972-73.
Education of Migrants and Aborigines
The Government has taken special steps to help particular groups in the community where it is clear that these groups are faced with special difficulties in their education. For example, the Government is concerned that migrants coming to this country should receive assistance in learning English, to help in their adjustment to their new environment, and increased amounts are being provided in this financial year for this purpose. Nearly $5m is provided for special education for migrant children in 1972-73, as compared with an expenditure of just over $3m in the last financial year. For the special education of adult migrants within Australia $4.2m is included for 1972-73 compared with $3m in the 1971-72 financial year.
Aboriginal students also face special difficulties. The Commonwealth Government’s broad programme of Aboriginal advancement includes substantial annual grants to the States for educational projects designed for the benefit of Aboriginal students. These projects, proposed by the States themselves, have resulted in additional classrooms, pre-schools, hostels, school buses, homework centres, teaching materials, in-service courses for teachers, conferences and research activities. In 1971-72 a sum of SI. 2m was allocated to the States for these purposes, and this financial year the grants will total $2m. The Commonwealth also finances directly a similar programme for Aboriginal students in the Northern Territory.
There are also 2 scholarships schemes for Aboriginal students - the Aboriginal secondary grants scheme for students still at school, and the Aboriginal study grants scheme for students who wish to undertake courses after they have left school. In June 1972 some 4,266 students held secondary grants and 522 held study grants. The cost for these 2 schemes in the financial year 1971- 72 was S3m, and this is expected to increase to $3. 7m in this financial year.
An important aspect of Australia’s international relations in education is the aid provided for the improvement of education systems in less developed countries. The Government has decided to increase expenditure under the scheme of Commonwealth co-operation in education to over Sim in 1972- 73. This increase will provide mainly for further assistance to Commonwealth countries in the South Pacific region. It will provide additional training awards for teachers from the region to undertake training in Australia and will increase the supply of Australian educational personnel to these countries.
Commonwealth contribution to school curriculum development is being extended. The Government has agreed to provide $125,000 additional to its earlier commitment of $750,000 for the Australian Science Education Project - ASEP - subject to the States agreeing to provide their share of the additional funds required to complete the production of new science teaching materials to cover the first 4 years of secondary education.
The Government is also increasing its financial support for the National Committee on Social Science Teaching. A sum of $57,000 will be provided in 1972-73 to assist research and development projects, conferences and other activities of the Committee. The States are also supporting these activities.
Up to this point, I have been dealing with the continuation and expansion of existing Commonwealth programmes in education. It is in the field of curriculum development that I come to the first of the new developments which can now be announced.
Asian Languages and Culture
In 1969 I took part in arrangements under which the Commonwealth, with the agreement of the States, established an Advisory Committee on the Teaching of Asian Languages and Cultures, under the chairmanship of Professor J. J. Auchmuty,
Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Newcastle. The Committee’s report was tabled in Federal Parliament in March 1971. I am glad to say that, arising from the Auchmuty Committee’s report, the May 1972 meeting of the Australian Education Council agreed to sponsor joint Commonwealth-State co-operation in the development of a range of proposals designed to stimulate the teaching of Asian languages and cultures in Australian schools. These proposals embrace the further development of suitable courses and teaching materials at primary and secondary school levels and of facilities for the study of Asian languages and Asian civilisations at the tertiary level, and improvements affecting the supply of qualified teachers. The details are to be worked out co-operatively by the Commonealth and State education authorities.
The Commonwealth for its part is prepared to allocate a total of $1.5m over the next 5 years as its contribution to a joint programme in this important area. A sum of $100,000 has been provided in my Department’s estimates for this financial year to help initiate the programme. I hope that these initiatives will have the result of bringing a better balance to what is taught in Australian schools, with more emphasis on Asian languages, Asian history and indeed knowledge of Asia generally - knowledge which for obvious reasons has special relevance to our future development.
Education in Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory
There have been significant developments in education in Commonwealth mainland Territories. Honourable members will know that since 1913 the New South Wales Education Department has staffed government schools in the Australian Capital Territory. Following discussions initiated by the New South Wales Minister for Education, the Commonwealth Government has decided to assume responsibility for staffing these schools. It has decided also that schools in the Australian Capital Territory will be administered by a statutory authority. The questions of the nature and functions of this authority and the timing of its establishment are being referred for advice to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Cap ital Territory. The first members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service will be appointed to Australian Capital Territory schools in 1973 to fill vacant positions at the classroom teacher level. The Commonwealth will take over full responsibility for staffing and running the schools at the beginning of 1974. If the statutory authority is not established by that date - and personally I hope that it would be - my Department will exercise these responsibilities until it is established.
Honourable members are also aware that this is the second year in which the Commonwealth has been the. direct employer of teachers in Northern Territory community schools, South Australia having commenced to withdraw its teachers from the beginning of 1971. In the last session the Parliament passed the legislation establishing the Commonwealth Teaching Service. We intend that this Service will be in operation before the end of this year. I spoke to many teachers during a recent visit to the Northern Territory and I know that they are looking forward; to the establishment of the Commonwealth Teaching Service.
There have been interesting new developments in community involvement and co-operation between schools in the Northern Territory. I have decided to establish an advisory committee, with a strong community representation, to help in relating the curriculum of community schools to the needs of the Territory. Also, my Department is introducing links between small schools in the Territory and larger ones, to help the smaller schools and to reduce the effects of isolation on the teachers and the students concerned.
During the second reading debate on the Commonwealth Teaching . Service Bill I mentioned that my Department had commissioned a study by the Australian Council for Educational Research on practices in school and staff organisation. This study has been carried out by Dr Radford, Director of the Council, and Professor Neal, Vice-President of the University of Alberta, and I am pleased to say their report has now been completed. I believe that the report will be of great value to both the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Teaching Service, when he is appointed, and those responsible for establishing and developing the school systems in the Commonwealth mainland Territories.
I welcome the report’s emphasis on community involvement in the running of schools and the delegation of increasing authority for professional and administrative decisions to school staffs, school principals and school committees on which local communities play a major role. Because of the interest aroused by the investigation by Dr Radford and Professor Neal and because I think their report will contribute to a useful public debate on very imporatnt matters, I have released the report, copies of which have been made available to honourable members.
I come now to a section of the Commonwealth’s education programme where the coming year will see particularly substantial changes. I refer to the Commonwealth scholarship schemes. At present, under 5 major scholarship schemes, the Government provides assistance to students undertaking a wide variety of courses at universities, colleges of advanced education, technical colleges and secondary schools. Students may proceed from the final years of secondary education to the completion of postgraduate degrees with Commonwealth scholarship assistance. The number of scholarship holders currently receiving benefits is over 70,000 and expenditure in the last financial year amounted to $46m.
Earlier this year the scholarship schemes underwent a more substantial review than any which has been undertaken since the inception of the various schemes. As a result of that review the Government has decided to implement a wide range of proposals affecting the scholarship schemes. The changes involved will be very significant from the point of view of large numbers of individual students. When the effect of the new measures is fully operative the total annual cost of the schemes is expected to approach $77m, an increase of over $30m on the present figure, and the total number of scholarship holders will increase from the present 70,000 to 123,000.
The Commonwealth secondary scholarship scheme has been reviewed against the principles on which it was originally established. These were that able students who otherwise would not remain at school ought to be encouraged to do so, and that selection for scholarships ought to be based on merit. It has been decided to give greater emphasis in future to the first of these principles. The Commonwealth secondary scholarship scheme, which provides 10,000 scholarships each year, is to be phased out and replaced by a new scheme to be known as the Commonwealth senior secondary scholarship scheme.
The new scheme will provide for the award of 25,000 scholarships each year. As with the existing scheme, these scholarships will be tenable in the final 2 years of secondary schooling. Each scholarship winner will receive a grant of $150 per annum free of means test. In addition a further grant of up to $250 per annum will be payable subject to family income. The assessment of income will be similar to that applied under the tertiary scholarship schemes. The new scheme will thus provide an incentive to able students and at the same time make available special assistance to those students whose families may find difficulty in maintaining them at school for a full secondary education. Identical conditions will apply to all students whether they are attending government or independent schools. All students who sat for the selection examination held in July this year will be considered for awards under the new scheme. Students who at the beginning of 1972 were awarded Commonwealth secondary scholarships for 1972-73 will be entitled, subject to the normal conditions of satisfactory progress, to have their awards continued in 1973 under the old conditions. I hope that this new scholarships scheme for secondary students will significantly assist able children from low income families to remain longer at school than they otherwise would.
The Government proposes to increase the number of scholarships available under both the Commonwealth university and the Commonwealth advanced education scholarships schemes for 1973. Under the university scheme the number of open entrance scholarships will be increased by 1,000 from 8,500 to 9,500. In addition a further 1,000 later year university scholarships will be made available, bringing the allocation of these awards up to 5,000. As part of these increases more awards will be offered to mature age scholars.
In line with its policy of promoting the balanced development of both universities and colleges of advanced education, the Government will make a further substantial increase in the number of advanced education scholarships. For this year, the number was raised from .2,500 to 4,000. An increase of a further 2,000 awards will be made for 1973 making a total of 6,000 new awards. The total number of new awards at the tertiary level each year will now be 21,300.
I turn now to deal with substantial changes which are to be made in living allowances and the means test for university and advanced education scholarships. The maximum rates of living allowance will be raised from $700 to $800 a year at the ‘at home’ rates and from $1,100 to $1,300 a year at the ‘away from home’ rates. The greater increase in the living away from home rates represents an important extra measure of support for country students. No less important than the increases in the rates of living allowance is a number of changes in the means test. At present the maximum living allowances are paid when the adjusted family income does not exceed $3,100 a year. The new level for 1973 will be $4,200 a year which will enable a much greater proportion of students to qualify for living allowance than previously.
Other adjustments to the operation of the means test will take effect from the beginning of 1973. These adjustments will enable many students to qualify for greater assistance. In the calculation of the family income a deduction of $450 for each dependent child other than the scholar will be allowed. Previously this deduction has been $300. This deduction will now also be allowed for dependent student children up to age 25. In the past a limit has been placed on the funds scholars could earn; this policy could perhaps be attributed to a paternal view that such a limit would prevent scholars from spending too much time on their employment to the detriment of their studies. The Government now takes the view that scholarship holders should be able to judge for themselves how much time to spend in employment; and there fore a scholar’s own income from employment will be disregarded in determining his entitlement to living allowance. This will remove the restraint previously placed upon students and allow them more independence in managing their own affairs. As a measure of assistance for married students, a scholar’s spouse will be able to earn up to $4,200 a year before any adjustment will be made to the scholar’s living allowance entitlement. As a further measure of support for married students, the allowances for dependent wives and children will be raised from $7 to $8 a week and from $2.50 to $4.50 a week respectively.
Whilst it is not proposed to increase the number of awards under the Commonwealth Postgraduate Award scheme, the Government has decided to raise the annual stipend from $2,600 to $2,900 a year. In addition more liberal dependants’ allowances will be paid to married postgraduate students with children. The new rates will be $650 a year for a dependent wife and child and a further $234 a- year for the second and each subsequent child. It is also proposed that the grant-in-aid paid to universities on behalf of Commonwealth Postgraduate Award holders will be raised from $400 to $500 a year. However, I would like to foreshadow the possibility that this particular arrangement will be reviewed during the forthcoming triennium with the grant-in-aid being replaced by provisions which would include more specific arrangements for the payment of compulsory fees on behalf of award holders. Such an arrangement would be consistent with the approach adopted under the university and advanced education schemes. For those who wish to have fuller details of the various changes in scholarship schemes, my Department is making available a statement setting out these details.
There are a number of other areas in student assistance which I would like to touch upon briefly. The Commonwealth Technical Scholarship Scheme is under close scrutiny. I have had discussions with State Ministers and my Department is following these up with the appropriate State authorities. Investigations into student loans which my Department has already made will continue in consultation with
Treasury and banking officials. I see loans as a useful means of supplementing the assistance provided by way of scholarships. In particular such an approach may provide valuable support for the student who fails to win a scholarship. A proposal which needs looking at in the longer term is that relating to the possible introduction of a national tertiary scholarship scheme. Such a scheme was included in the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, in its recent report on teacher education. It would have substantial implications for State policies on teacher-training scholarships. There has been some discussion already with State Ministers and my Department will be exploring this matter further.
I would like to express my appreciation of the contribution made by the Commonwealth Scholarships Board to the student assistance programme. I would also like to take this opportunity of saying that I value greatly the consultations which I have had with the various interested parties on scholarships matters. The advice I have received from these bodies, especially the Australian Union of Students and the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, has been helpful to the Government.
It is my belief that the new measures which the Government has introduced in its student assistance programme will have far reaching effects and will do much to ensure that financial considerations do not prevent a student from reaching a level of education consistent with his or her abilities. The Government will, of course, continue to give close attention to ways in which the student assistance programme, within the limits of the funds available, can meet the needs of those suffering from particular hardships.
I mentioned earlier that in the course of this statement 1 would be referring to a significant development in Commonwealth support for teacher education. I would like to preface this by reminding honourable members that the Commonwealth already makes a substantial direct contribution to the education of teachers, through its contribution to the capital and recurrent costs of universities and colleges of advanced education and its unmatched capital grants direct to teachers colleges and pre-school teachers colleges. Under the latter programmes, a total of $S4m is being made available for State teachers colleges over the 6 years to 30th June 1973, and S2.5m has been made available to pre-school teachers colleges. Commonwealth support for teacher education has significantly helped the States in recent years in their achievements in increasing the numbers of teachers in training and teachers in employment. Government teacher trainees have increased in number from 29,000 in 1968 to 42,000 in 1971; and full-time teachers in government schools from 85,000 to 95,000 over the same period. Not only have the numbers of teachers increased, but pupil-teacher ratios have also improved considerably - a fact which is often lost sight of when these matters are being discussed.
There have also been important developments in the organisation of teacher education, starting a few years ago with the move to a basic 3-year training course. Coordinating machinery is being introduced at State level to improve the standing of teacher education institutions, and all State governments have now indicated their intention to provide teacher education courses in institutions free from direct education department control. I regard .that as a significant advance and a significant improvement. Progress towards incorporation of State teachers colleges in colleges of advanced education, or their reconstitution as self governing tertiary institutions, is well advanced in several States. The substantial capital assistance provided by the Commonwealth over the past 5 years has helped to make possible this progress. There has also been movement towards teacher education in multi-purpose institutions, a development which the Commonwealth favours.
Recently, there has been increasing support from a number of directions for the principle that State teachers colleges should receive Commonwealth funds, both capital and recurrent, under the arrangements for matching grants for colleges of advanced education. The Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, which in February this year reported on the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education, recommended that teachers colleges be granted financial assistance for recurrent and capital expenditure under terms and conditions similar to colleges of advanced education. At a meeting of the Australian Education Council in May 1972 State Ministers of Education requested Commonwealth matching assistance for State teachers colleges and gave support, in principle, to bringing pre-school teachers colleges within the advanced education arrangements. In addition, my Department has received requests for assistance with recurrent expenditure as well as continuing assistance with capital expenditure for preschool teachers colleges from the Australian Pre-School Association and from the 6 pre-school teachers colleges. As a result of this, the Government has taken 2 principal decisions. Firstly, it has decided to extend present matching arrangements applying to universities and colleges of advanced education to include State teachers colleges which are being developed as self governing tertiary institutions under the supervision of appropriate coordinating bodies in the States. I would like to emphasise that all States are moving in this direction. This support will be available from July 1973 as an addition to the programme of Commonwealth support for colleges of advanced education, immediately following expiry of the present unmatched capital grants programme. Secondly, the Commonwealth will offer to share with the States the capital and recurrent costs of pre-school teachers colleges, under advanced education arrangements, from July 1973. At the same time I would stress that I see the existing voluntary bodies as continuing to play an important role in the pre-school area.
While the Government has not been prepared to extend this support to non-government teachers colleges, as was recommended by the Senate Committee, I would point out that teachers, whether preparing for work in independent schools or in government schools, will be equally acceptable for places in the self-governing State teachers colleges, just as is the case with teachers training at universities and colleges of advanced education. These students would be eligible for Commonwealth advanced education scholarships. Under these new programmes the teacher education institutions concerned are expected to attract substantial additional Commonwealth support. Further consultation with State education authorities will be necessary in working out details of the mode of operation of the new support for their teachers colleges. So far as the pre-school colleges are concerned, again there will be consultation between the pre-school authorities, the States and the Commonwealth to lay down guiding principles.
In order to implement these programmes from 1st July 1973 the Australian Commission on Advanced Education will discuss specific proposals with State education authorities and present a supplementary programme to the Government by 31st March 1973. This initial programme of Commonwealth support for teachers colleges would cover the 24-year period to December 1975. The Commission will have access to appropriate additional sources of advice in its examination of teacher education proposals. This will bring the programme for the teachers colleges into line with the general university and colleges of advanced education programmes. While it is willing to support single-purpose teacher education institutions within the advanced education programme, the Commonwealth, as I have mentioned before, continues to favour the provision of teacher education in multipurpose institutions wherever possible, a view which was supported by the Senate Committee. However, it is recognised that a number of existing State teachers colleges are likely to remain as single-purpose institutions for some time because location or some factor makes multi-purpose development difficult or inappropriate. In these circumstances the Government wishes to ensure that self-governing teacher education institutions have the means to provide a high standard of teacher education. The proposed Commonwealth support will promote balanced development between the different sectors of teacher education.
The additional resources which the Commonwealth has decided to provide for teacher education should enable greater provision to be made for special areas of need. I propose to ask the Commission to look in particular at areas such as the training of teachers of the handicapped and special remedial teachers. While substantial progress has been made in many areas of education in recent years, I am concerned that further development should occur in meeting the needs of those children who are handicapped or who have special learning difficulties. The training of greater numbers of specialist teachers is the factor which will make the greatest impact in these areas and the Government sees its new programme of assistance to teacher education as providing opportunities for the introduction of additional special courses as well as assisting development of teacher education in general.
The decisions I have announced on teacher education policy cover some of the major recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts in its report on the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education. I have also referred elsewhere in this statement to an examination of the possibility of developing a national system of tertiary scholarships and of a supplementary system of student loans, as well as to the activities of the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education - the Partridge Committee - in stimulating research into educational areas to the extent that resources are available.
I know that the Senate Committee’s report has provided a valuable stimulus to thinking about teacher education. The Australian Universities Commission, the Australian Commission -on Advanced Education and the Partridge Committee have all examined particular proposals and have taken account of them in their own deliberations. Some of the proposals are, of course, in areas which are primarily the responsibility of the States. I have in mind here the question of length and degree of integration of courses, procedures for registration of professional qualifications and for transferability of superannuation and other entitlements of teachers. Allied to the question of registration is the accreditation of the academic standing of courses and I have been pleased to note that the Australian Council on Awards in Advanced Education is in a position to consider for national registration courses in teacher education submitted to it by the appropriate accrediting agency in a State or Territory; I hope that this development will take place, and that we will have full national accreditation of teacher education awards. I believe it is an anomalous situa tion in which some awards are recognised only in the States in which they are accredited.
Against the background of the recommendations of the Senate Committee and of the decisions taken by the Commonwealth and the States, Commonwealth agencies will co-operate with State bodies in proposals for the further development of teacher education in a range of institutions throughout Australia.
Co-operation and Objectives
As I mentioned earlier, any statement on the Commonwealth’s education programme for a financial year, must, by its very nature, dwell largely on details of Commonwealth expenditure under various headings. But I would not wish to conclude this statement without stressing the co-operative nature of the Commonwealth’s activities in education. The objectives that the Government seeks to attain are not the objectives of the Commonwealth alone and cannot be achieved by the actions of the Commonwealth alone. Most of the programmes I have described are programmes which are carried out in close co-operation with the States and with other education authorities. In the course of the financial year just concluded a particularly significant development occurred when the Commonwealth was accepted for the first time into full membership of the Australian Education Council - the forum in which Ministers for Education from all States, and now the Commonwealth, discuss their problems and their plans for the future. The discussions I have had. with State Ministers have been extremely fruitful. We have been able to agree on cooperation in exploring possible developments in a wide range of areas such as class size, school building design, the needs of technical education, the problems of isolated children, teaching of. Asian languages and culture, and teacher training. Discussions with the States have already led to positive action in several of these fields.
The Government’s broad objectives in education are: Equality of opportunity; a healthy degree of independence for, and variety in, tertiary education institutions; assistance for deprived groups; freedom of schools from excessively centralised control; development of parental and local community interest in schools; freedom of choice for ‘consumers’ of education; and a continuing improvement in the facilities available to teachers and students at all levels, in the content of courses and in the teaching methods applied in those courses. These objectives are ones which the Government believes can be shared by all who are concerned with the quality of education in Australia. It welcomes discussion of these matters. In recent years there has been a striking increase in the extent to which educational policies have become the subject of informed public debate, and this is a process from which only good can come. I present the following paper:
Commonwealth Education Programme for 1972- 73 - Ministerial Statement, 17th August 197Z
Motion (by Mr Garland) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Garland) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Fremantle speaking for a period not exceeding 30 minutes.
– The ministerial statement insofar as it refers to Commonwealth scholarships foreshadows extending the system of scholarships to more children and introducing a means test It also shows how stubbornly the Commonwealth adheres to a restricted and confined view of education. The Commonwealth is interested in the education of sections of the population far more than it is interested in producing a skilled and educated population. Wherever one turns one sees the same attitude, whether in its utter indifference to the needs of underprivileged areas for pre-school centres, its indifference to the leakage of students from secondary education in the first 3 years of secondary school or its refusal to come to grips with the problems of education for poor children and isolated children or the problem of dropping out for economic reasons. Accurately it is now calling the scholarships ‘senior’ secondary scholarships; continuing to ignore the first 3 years of secondary education. When Sir Robert Menzies introduced the original Commonwealth secondary scholarship awards in the House of Representatives on 19th May 1964 he said:
I believe that many children of ability will be encouraged by this scheme to stay on at school for a longer period than they might otherwise have done, to their own benefit and that of the nation.
The system, in the words of Professor Henry Schoenheimer. was ‘imposed on the States without prior consultation with State authorities as part of an overall Federal pre-election strategy’. The form of examination for the scholarships devised by the Australian Council of Educational Research was independent of the syllabuses of State or private schools and its papers in the humanities, written expression, quantitative and or mathematical thinking, and scientific thinking were designed to eliminate cramming and determine the scholarships on the basis of capacity to think and not upon learning. In this whole system there is no conception of assisting the child facing disaster because the breadwinner of the family is dead, or ill, or has deserted the family, or is an alcoholic or the family is large or disadvantaged for any reason. Schoenheimer’s article calls this particular form of intervention with education ‘dollarships’. And he who hath gets more. I speak as a beneficiary under the system. A son and a daughter of mine won secondary scholarships and university scholarships, and my son has gained a post-graduate scholarship. But let us examine the intention declared by Sir Robert Menzies that the scheme would enable children ‘to stay at school for a longer period than they might otherwise have done’. The Australian Council of Educational Research, which devised the examination, has studied the question of the relationship, if any, between capacity to stay at school as a result of the award of a Commonwealth secondary scholarship. It is shattering to see how utterly negligible the concept of the award has been in producing any result in this direcion. Dealing with the effect of the award on educational plans, the summary of findings of ACER research series No. 87 says, of the effects:
Of course any scholarship does constitute welcome financial assistance. It was so in the case of my children, for instance. But it is perfectly clear that the original objective declared by Sir Robert Menzies of enabling to stay on at school children who would otherwise not have been able to stay on at school, has not been achieved to any significant extent whatever. I will not belittle the awards otherwise. I am just picking on that objective. The ACER report continues:
Parents of 63 per cent of Commonwealth secondary scholarship award winners in the Brisbane sample, 60 per cent in the Sydney sample and 65 per cent in the Melbourne sample reported that the award was ‘some help’ financially;-
I would make the same report, of course - and a further 17 per cent of parents of Commonwealth secondary scholarship award winners in the Brisbane sample, 13 per cent in the Sydney sample and 14 per cent in the Melbourne sample reported that the award was a ‘big help’ financially.
Professor Schoenheimer points out the sociological effects of the scheme. He writes:
Select 2 big secondary schools, one a very poor inner suburban one, the other extremely wealthy, each large enough to have 160 students at the age to sit for this week’s Commonwealth secondary scholarship examination. . . .
Statistically the students of the inner suburban school are going to gain5 scholarships, with a total value over 2 years of $2,500; and students of the very wealthy school will be awarded 24 scholarships with a total value of $19,200. Researchers find the latter rarely need them.’
The value of these scholarships is half of 1 per cent of all educational expenditure in the nation but they have become prestige symbols. Some of the greater non-Catholic private schools, awarding free places, award them to these scholarship holders. State schools get one scholarship for every 16 eligible students; Catholic schools get one for every 12 and non-Catholic private schools get one for every 7. Catholic schools improve their percentage gradually as they are forced to eliminate the poor from their schools, for all the evidence is that the system is orientated to favouring higher socio-economic groups and it is cer tainly a fact that the hard pressed Catholic system is increasingly eliminating the poor as it is forced by the rising cost of education to increase fees. The ACER study of the effects of winning Commonwealth secondary scholarship awards concludes:
This is the finding of ACER - was crucial in keeping only (at the most) 1 per cent of the Brisbane sample, 7 per . centof the Sydney sample, and 4 per cent of the Melbourne sample at school for the purpose of completing secondary education.
Therefore whatever need there may have been in 1963-64 to provide scholarships of (his kind to keep children at school, it appears that except for a very small proportion of the students represented in this study-
That is, the ACER study- this is no longer necessary.
This affirms a principle of assisting where need is greatest. However where theLabor Party would join issue with this ACER report would be in its last comment., I do not doubt that scholarship winners in real need should have financial assistance, but what of children in real need who do not reach the level of third year high school to tackle the scholarship and those who do not sit for the scholarship because, scholarship or no, the parental income will not allow them to proceed to the examination because they know they will not be able to continue. Professor Schoenheimer says of the examination, which is the basis of the award:
The winners will be decided by probably the most rigorous application of the most sophisticated assessment techniques in the English speaking world. The examination is imperfect, yes, as all things human are, but it is possibly the least imperfect mass ability testing instrument that the wit of man has so far managed to devise.
As a system of testing, however, it ignores whole categories of children - above all, children with manual skills and those without linguistic ability for various background reasons. One very powerful factor in the lack of linguistic ability, as I propose to comment later, is a lack of a preschool education. This scheme is based on a narrow concept of education, if this is to remain the Commonwealth’s great effort at the secondary level, even when there is added to it the system of technical scholarships. There is a need for Commonwealth backing for a broadening of education for national efficiency and creativeness. The most highly educated and the most affluent society in the world, the United States, has a population owning 50 million guns. The relevant committee reported to the President that the United States was moving to a position in which the wealthy would live in fortified enclaves and move from point to point along sanitised corridors.
Despite its high percentages of tertiary education and despite Australia’s higher percentages than Britain and Sweden, the United States is showing us that it is leaving a yawning gap in the education of poorer people. Falling further and further behind in a socio-economic system which demands certificates for employment, people become increasingly hopeless and frustrated. This is, in part, one of the bases of the crime and the 50 million guns. Of course, the situation is aggravated where the depressed are a different racial group, such as negroes or Puerto Ricans, subject to discrimination, but it is bad without that. This is what we need to avoid. The Commonwealth must back the diversification of education. Mr Philip 0’Carroll research assistant in the Department of Philosophy at the Australian National University, recently spoke at an education seminar. He protested at false distinctions between the humanities and the utilities - between culture and know-how. He comments:
This absurd distinction between know-how and culture would disappear if we were free to pursue our own individual combinations of talents and interests.
My comment on the field of education which we have just been discussing is that the whole of the scholarship system, which is a powerful determinant of economic assistance - unfortunately to those who need it least - is geared to the intellectual and verbal skills, and a child who does not possess verbal skills will appear to be unintelligent when intrinsically he is not unin telligent. The Minister should beware of quoting monetary rises in expenditure. They reflect inflation in part. They reflect rises in teachers’ salaries. Do not let us forget that teachers’ salaries constitute 85 per cent of the recurring costs of education. It is proposed that there will be an increase in the value of certain scholarships. Those who get the $150 free of means test and the full $250 subject to means test in fact are not getting much more, because of inflation, than those who won the award back in 1964. Of course, the monetary grant must rise. It becomes less if it does not rise. It stays the same in purchasing power, mostly, if it rises.
The Minister, in referring to the increase in the number of open entrance scholarships at universities by 1,000 from 8,500 to 9,500 and the increase in scholarships to colleges of advanced education from 4,000 to 6,000, does not mention how, with increasing enrolments, the percentage of scholarship holders has been falling. He does not give us the percentage of scholarship holders in relation to total enrolment and, of course, he ignores inflation in his references to monetary values. An increase in the value of the at home rate from $700 to $800 is simply standing still. The increase in the at home rate from $700 to $800 is a 14 per cent increase. Inflation is running at the rate of 7 per cent a year. It is a long time since the last adjustment and the increase would be absorbed by inflation in 2 years. The $100 is simply absorbing part of the inflation since the last adjustment. An increase in the value of the at home rate from $700 to $800 is simply standing still in relation to the purchasing power of money.
This applies equally to the increase in the away from home rate which rose from $1,100 to $1,300. I invite the Minister’s attention to the increases in salary for Ministers which were proposed in legislation which was dropped because the Labor Party did not support it. The application of a similar percentage rise to student allowances would give figures very different from the ‘at home’ $800 and the ‘away from home’ $1,300. The Minister’s claim that the increase in the living away from home rate gives an important extra measure of support is simply a gloss. The adjusted family income level from $3,100 to $4,200 is also not much more than an as you were’ increase offset by inflation. Of course, it was welcome. For some years everybody has been falling behind with frozen permitted income levels. To keep up with inflation, educational expenditure must run very hard to stand still.
The grants in aid to various learned and research societies, and so vital a body as the Australian Pre-School Association, are simply pathetic. The increase of $51,000 is laughable. There is no real grip on the problem of the education of migrant children, though the increase is welcome. The Commonwealth is totally responsible for bringing migrant children to Australia and should tackle the problem of assisting their education with the same resoluteness and responsibility as, say, it tackled the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, which it acknowledged was fully its responsibility.
Aboriginal secondary grants and Aboriginal study grants are valuable but the grants should start earlier than at age 14. Aborigines are chronically disadvantaged at the age of 6, at the age of 10 and at the age of 12. Adult grants to Aborigines need to be diversified and an attack on Aboriginal adult illiteracy deliberately launched. The form of assistance to the States still lacks any Commonwealth approach to create a fund to bring poor schools up to acceptable standards and to assist poor families whose children attend government and non-government schools.
The continuing neglect of pre-school education is utterly disastrous. In the Australian Capital Territory there is a model which, at least pro-tem, should be the model for the States with Commonwealth assistance. The Australian Teachers Federation commented on the pre-school situation in the Australian Capital Territory. It pointed out that pre-school education in the Australian Capital Territory is available to all children 3 years of age and over and the aim is to give each child at least 1 year pre-school experience. When a child becomes eligible for enrolment, his name is placed on a waiting list unless there is a vacancy at the centre. In all cases children are enrolled in waiting list order with preference being given to 4 year olds. The Federation mentioned a pre-school mobile travelling unit and pre-school education for physically handicapped children in the
Australian Capital Territory. The general ignorance of the significance of pre-school education means that the Commonwealth can continue a policy of ruthless neglect without much electoral damage. This therefore makes pre-school education a litmus test of its concern for Australian children. If it does not show this concern it will not be electorally penalised. If, therefore, it does not show this concern it shows what its basic motivation is because this education is vital.
Very definite promises were made by Prime Minister Gorton in this field and Australia has waited for what have been called the ,r…………….._., which so far have not come into being. Between them 200,000 working women have 271,000 preschool children in Australia and only 19,000 of these 271,000 children are in pre-schools. In New South Wales where government interest in pre-school education is all but non-existent, the cost to parents of pre-schooling is between $12 and $16 per week per child, rising to $30 per week in well-to-do suburbs. A preschool education for a year costs more than a university education. The fastest growth of intelligence occurs between the ages of 0 to 5 years, and the intelligence is stunted in a defective environment. The absence from the wonderfully stimulating environment of pre-school education of so many children is a tragedy. Disadvantaged children, especially linguistically .disadvantaged children, face an accumulating disadvantage. Let us face this non-attainment of Commonwealth scholarships in the poorer areas and the high gaining of Commonwealth scholarships in the more privileged socio-economic groups. It is perfectly obvious that the speech in a middle class home is more advanced, more developed than the speech in poorer homes. This is really basic in the development of what we call intelligence but which is not intrinsic intelligence. Abroad they have carried out schemes whereby they have used preschool education successfully to eliminate this disadvantage from the child,
Denis Lawton in his study, ‘Social Class, Language and Education’, wrote:
There is little doubt that there exists a social educational problem; a great deal of potential talent is wasted, or looking at the problem from a different point of view, the education of large numbers of working class children is below satisfactory standard. There is evidence to support the) view that inadequacy of linguistic range and control is a very important factor in this underachievement and that linguistic inadequacy is a cumulative deficit’ i.e., it is a disadvantage which generates a vicious circle of difficulties increasing in magnitude as school life progresses.
The language difficulties of disadvantaged children were seen to consist not of deficiencies in vocabulary and grammar as such, but of failure to master certain use of language. . . . The disadvantaged child masters a language which is adequate for maintaining social relationships and for meeting his social and material needs, but he does not learn to use language for obtaining and transmitting information, for monitoring his own behaviour and for carrying on verbal reasoning. In short he fails to master the cognitive uses of language, which are uses that are of primary importance in school
I want to conclude by speaking about 2 other groups of disadvantaged children. I do not have the time to develop this as broadly as 1 would like. I speak first about the isolated children. I wish to see Commonwealth assistance’ to those States which wish to build hostels attached to their high schools. 1 wish to see Commonwealth assistance to those private schools which wish to cater for their isolated children. If some Catholic boarding schools, for instance, want to cater especially for isolated children from the back blocks, I believe that Commonwealth assistance to construct the facilities to help those disadvantaged children whose parents chose that form of education should be given to them. 1 believe also that the Department of Education and Science should be required to investigate methods for improving radio and television schooling, directed at the needs of isolated children. We should look realistically at the amount of money which is given to the parents of isolated children to enable them to put their children into schools. It is not sufficient to have this done by way of income tax concessions. Tax concessions simply mean that those who have a high income get an advantage out of the concessions and those who have a low income do not get enough out of the concessions to assist them.
In certain other fields of education, for instance, the Labor Party wishes to see adopted in both government and non government schools in this country a system which exists in the Inner London Education Authority whereby special assistance can be given to poor children. We speak very often about assisting poorer schools but there is a problem of poorer children. The Commonwealth has a direct educational power in benefits to students. When grants are made to Aborigines to assist them with their education, this is done under the Commonwealth power of benefits to students but, after all, what is the reason for this special assistance to an Aborigine to receive an education? We know that socioeconomically he is disadvantaged. We know all the disadvantages of his home. Surely, however, the reason for assisting an Aborigine is not because be is black but because in Australia being an Aborigine means almost ipso facto that he comes from a poor home. Therefore, on this reasoning, there are good grounds for assisting any poor child, not merely Aboriginal poor children.
I believe that the children, of widows, the children of deserted wives, all those children whose parents have to receive assistance from Departments of Child Weir fare, should receive direct assistance from the Commonwealth for books, fees if they attend private schools, uniforms - all their educational needs. We are singling out for magnificent assistance all those who have the verbal skills and other qualities necessary to get Commonwealth scholarships. As I say, my own family has been a major beneficiary under that system and I realise all of its advantages. But surely the Commonwealth has to develop a conception of national efficiency and not have us in the American situation where some people are highly privileged educationally and others are left to rot, producing the disastrous divisions in American society which are beginning to develop. Of course, we believe that a schools commission as a permanent inquiry into educational needs will be able to take an intelligent look at the vital areas of need and assist broader ranges of people to have educational and other disabilities overcome in the interests of building a population of skill increasing national efficiency and giving a creative and satisfactory life to more people.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fox) adjourned.
-I ask for leave to make a short statement to correct an answer I gave to a question which was asked at question time.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In answer to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) this morning I said that the cur- rent passports issued to Lieutenant-Colonel Knox and Air Vice Marshal Hawkins were issued prior to the Security Council resolution in relation to Rhodesia. Although this was correct in relation to Knox I was mistaken in respect of Hawkins. His passport was issued in August 1968 and the Security Council’s resolution was dated May 1968. some 3 months earlier. An important point which weighed with the Government was that the passports were issued to both men prior to their taking up their present appointments with the illegal Rhodesian regime.
– I move:
Customs Tariff Proposals No. 14 (1972).
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled propose customs tariff amendments to implement the Government’s acceptance of the Tariff Board’s recommendations in its report on metal working machine tools and accessories.
My colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) released the Tariff Board report last week. This was necessary because certain temporary duties were due to expire at that time and it was important that manufacturers and importers be informed on the new measures of assistance proposed for the local industry. I seek leave of the House to have his Press statement incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
TARIFF BOARD REPORT
METAL WORKING MACHINE TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES
(Statement by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry, the rt. hon. J. D. Anthony)
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Anthony, today released the report of the Tariff Board on Metal Working Machine Tools and Accessories. Mr Anthony said that the Government had accepted the Board’s recommendations including the introduction of a bounty arrangement for certain specified machine tools.
Mr Anthony commented that the terms of reference sent to the Board required it to have regard to the Government’s objective that at least the nucleus of a machine tools industry should be maintained in Australia, without encouraging the industry to expand beyond the range within which it was then operating.
To meet this objective the Board considered that the assistance to be provided should maintain the local manufacture of those kinds of machines, the production of which would retain within the industry a cadre of specialist design and manulacturing skills and specialist plant. Having regard to the small proportion of the market held by local producers and to the impact of the tariff on users costs, the Board proposed that: o certain power fed machines should in addition to tariff assistance receive assistance by county; o certain special purpose machines subject to minimum rates of duty should receive assist- ance by bounty; and o the majority of the remaining machines under reference which are subject to protective duties should continue to receive tariff assistance.
Mr Anthony stated that while the Government accepted in principle the recommendations rnade by the Tariff Board. it was concerned that the basis of bounty payments proposed by the Board could present problems in administration. He therefore had written to the Chairman of the Tariff Board and obtained his advice on an alternative basis of bounty payments which would provide assistance equivalent to that proposed by the Board.
In accordance with this advice the Minister said the Government would provide bounty assistance of 33 and 1/3 per cent of the factory cost on a specified range of drilling machines, grinding machines, lathes and special purpose machines incorporating power feeds and numerically controlled machining centres. The factory cost for bounty purposes would be reduced by one per cent for each one per cent by which the Australian content is less than 85 per cent. Machinetools within the specified range with an Australian content of less than55 per cent of factory cost would be ineligible for bounty.
Mr Anthony said that only manufacturers in production when the report was signed (14 April 1972) and in respect of their ‘broad range’ of production at that time would be eligible for bounty assistance. He said that eligibility for bounty assistance will be extended to new producers of the specified ranges of machines only where the Ministers for Trade and Industry and
Customs and Excise were satisfied that this would further promote the development of the industry without inducing undue fragmentation of local production.
Mr Anthony commented that the temporary duties applying to a range of machine tools would now lapse and stated that action would be taken by the Minister for Customs and Excise at an early date to introduce the new tariff structure recommended by the Tariff Board. Duties of 35 per cent (General), 25 per cent (Preferential) would apply to a specified range of drilling machines; grinding, honing, lapping or polishing machines; lathes; sawing and filing machines; screwing, chasing or tapping machines; reboring machines; unit heads and unit slides; and cast iron vices. Duties would be at minimum rates for the remainder of goods under reference.
Legislation to provide for bounty assistance will be introduced during the Budget session of the Parliament. Interim arrangements were being made to pay the bounty from 14th August next, pending passage of the bounty legislation. Mr Anthony stated that manufacturers who consider they are eligible for this assistance should forward details of their activities, including particulars of their range of production, to the Director, Bounty Section, Department of Customs and Excise, Canberra.
Copies of the Tariff Board report may be obtained from Government bookshops in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and from Collectors of Customs in all States.
August 11, 1972
– Details of new duties applicable to this class of machine tools are set out in the detailed summaries being circulated to honourable members. Also included in the Proposals are 2 amendments, one to correct a technical oversight in an earlier Proposal in relation to cellulose acetate moulding powder and the other to implement a change of practice arising out of a Customs Co-operation Council ruling on swimming pools. No variations of duties as originally approved by the Parliament are involved. I commend the Proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– I present the following reports by the Tariff Board:
Metal working machine tools and accessories; and
Copper oxychloride (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
The latter report does not require any legislative action.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I ask for the leave of the House to move a motion to discharge certain Tariff Proposals which were moved earlier in the year and which constitute part of Order of the Day No. 87. These Proposals were incorporated in Customs Tariff Proposals No. 10 (1972) which will remain on the notice paper.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 16 August (vide page 209), on the following paper presented by Mr Fairbairn:
The 5-year Defence Programme - Ministerial Statement, 16 August 1972- and on the motion by Mr Chipp:
That the House take note of the paper.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Bass speaking without limitation of time.
– The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) has announced a 5-year defence programme which is dominated overwhelmingly by the requirements of one Service - the Navy. In turn the requirements of the Navy are dominated by provision for one massive weapons system - the DDL destroyer programme. I do not object to this concentration on the Navy. In many ways the Navy has been neglected in the defence policies of recent years. The commitment to Vietnam put the major stress on the Army and the Air Force, although the DDG destroyers did participate in the war.
The most spectacular area of defence procurement in this period was the Royal Australian Air Force with the protracted controversy over the Fill purchase. In retrospect the cost escalation of the Fill seems almost modest in comparison with what has occurred with the DDL and what can be expected from the destroyer project in the next few years. There are many implications of the DDL programme which disturb the Opposition and I will deal with these at some length later in my remarks.
I want to make some general comments about matters raised by the Minister for Defence in his statement. The first criticism that needs to be made is that the so-called rolling programme as described by the Minister does not constitute an adequate programme budget for defence over the next 5 years. The essence of a defence programme budget is that it projects cash flows on elements of defence spending over a number of years; the usual time span for such a programme is 5 years. With such projection it is possible to identify elements of the programme and follow projected spending on them over the period of the programme. For example, if this were a genuine 5-year’ programme budget it should be possible to isolate the DDL programme and follow through projected spending on it year by year. Obviously these projections cannot be 100 per cent accurate; they are intended as guides to future spending so that the impact of a particular element of the programme can be assessed and necessary adjustments made. A programme budget of this sort is not intended to be infallible; its objective is to supplement traditional budgetary procedures by projecting spending over a longer period and analysing the components of a particular area of public spending. In this way we can see how spending on a particular defence project or on functional elements of a defence budget vary from year to year.
The projections of defence spending contained in the Minister’s statement are extremely inadequate. There is no attempt to provide an estimate of the total cost of the programme. We are told that using defence spending of $l,217m in 1971-72 projected defence spending in 1976-77 would be $J,530m. Using the sophisticated mathematical technique of averaging these figures and multiplying by 5, we get an estimate of S6,865m as total spending over the 5 year period. It is even not possible to get from the Minister’s statement any estimate of the cost of the main components of the plan over 5 years. Using the complex technique described above, it is possible to project these figures over 4 years. If one wants them for 5 years it is necessary to hunt through the budget papers and add the figures of 1971-72 to what the Minister has made available. Presenting such a sloppy piece of work as a budget for a 5-year defence programme would be laughed out of any other Parliament in the world. There is no reason why the Australian Parliament should stomach such a presentation.
Undoubtedly an immense amount of forward projection of defence costs has been done by the Department of Defence. This is information on public policy and public spending; ultimately this Parliament will have to account for this spending and it should have these projections put before it in detailed form. Furthermore they should be made available to the alternative government of Australia. There is far too much by-passing of the Parliament and the alternative government on this vital area of defence policy. I cite as an example the performance of the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) outside this House yesterday. The Minister gave a very detailed Press briefing on the DDL destroyer at 5 p.m. yesterday afternoon. Initially this was scheduled for 1 p.m. but this was abandoned when the Minister for Defence learned it would pre-empt his statement. Another detailed technical briefing on the DDL project was held at the Navy Department this morning. At yesterday’s briefing the Minister distributed a lengthy paper on the DDL destroyer couched in descriptive and analytical terms; it did not contain any material of a security nature. My office applied to the office of the Minister for the Navy last night for a copy of this document and the request was rejected.
– Not for that document.
– Yes, it was. The paper was finally supplied to me by the Minister for the Navy during the sitting this morning. There was no reason why it could not have been supplied previously.
– That paper and the others were supplied this morning. They were not available before 10 a.m.
– My office might have been informed that this was the position. This information was not conveyed to my office. I make the point that it should be possible to make such material available to the alternative government at an earlier stage of the process. It should also be possible for the alternative government to be briefed on a defence issue of such magnitude. The decision on the future of the DDL programme will not be made by the mass media; it will be determined in this Parliament and it may very well be made by the alternative government. It should not be necessary for the alternative government to have to scratch around for this sort of essential material.
To return to my initial point, the cost details disclosed by the Minister for Defence are completely inadequate for the requirements of this House. Only a cursory attempt is made to project spending and this is done on the basis of August 1972 costs. There may be difficulties in projecting spending on the basis of an index of defence spending. Certainly projection in terms of the consumer price index would be a rather crude exercise. I refuse to believe that this sort of analysis has not been undertaken bv the Defence Department planners. It gives a totally misleading idea of the nature of spending under the programme to project spending on capital equipment in 1976-77 in terms of 1972 prices.
The fallacy of this concept of a 5-year rolling programme is exposed in the Minister’s insistence on announcing only new equipment decisions for 1972-73. As I have stated previously in this House, the 5- year rolling programme is merely a variation on the technique of annual budgeting for defence spending. The use of the 5- year time scale is a misnomer because the programme is still projected substantially on a year-to-year basis. The 5-year rolling programme as announced by Sir Allen Fairhall was intended as a transformation of traditional planning of defence spending and procurement. However subsequent statements have revealed that programme budgeting has not been applied as a revolutionary technique on the lines of the defence budgets of the United Kingdom, Sweden, West Germany and a number of other countries. The 5-year concept has added little to the overall effectiveness of Australia’s defence planning. It just rolls on year by year on traditional lines.
The crude breakdown of projected spending on functional lines made in the Minister’s statement does, in this case, make one valid point. In the conventional budget framework defence spending is broken up in terms of the 5 Defence departments. In the Minister’s analysis, aggregate spending is allocated on the basis of the function it is intended to perform. We have the following headings: Capital equipment for the Services, defence facilities, pay and allowances of Service personnel and civilians, running costs, research and development and foreign defence aid. The logic of this sort of breakdown is infinitely superior to itemising defence spending under departmental headings. Whatever disappointments one might feel with the Minister’s statement, this, at least, is an improvement. Such an analysis leads to the inescapable conclusion that the present structure of the Defence departments on individual Service lines is old fashioned and inadequate. The present cumbersome structure of individual Service departments is unparalleled in any contemporary democracy. It is a corollary of the organisation of the defence budget on functional lines that the Defence departments should be organised on functional lines with the abolition of the individual Service departments. This is an inevitable reform and it is appropriate that even the meagre analysis in the early part of the Minister’s statement should have reinforced the case for re-organisation.
If there is any innovation in the Minister’s approach, it lies in the recognition of the share of the Budget absorbed by basic housekeeping costs. This is a trend which has been apparent for a number of years; I stressed it in this House as early as 1967. lt has been obvious for several years that if resources are to be freed for reequipment of the Services or if we are to query equipment required by the Services, savings would have to be made in other areas. Obviously it is impossible to cut back on pay and allowances; it may be possible to stabilise spending in this area although this is doubtful. The key area is restraint in the growth of operating costs. The Opposition has frequently suggested that the only way of doing this is by much greater efforts to integrate common services. The pace of the removal of duplicated and even triplicated services has been disappointingly slow. This is the only way in which the pattern of defence spending can be changed and re-allocation of resources made away from basic housekeeping costs. The curbs on costs of running the Services will maintain only the present status quo and this will not allow more resources to be diverted to the capital equipment programme.
Implicit in the Minister’s emphasis on restructuring the pattern of spending is restraint in the growth of manpower for the Services. This is particularly significant for the Army. The Minister did not develop this theme in any way but there are a number of very strong hints between the lines of his text. He gave the projected strength of the Army permanent forces at about 40,000 and went on to make the observation that actual strength would fluctuate around this figure because of variations in recruiting and re-engagement rates. This is important because the net gain in Army strength is running at a high level at the moment. The excess of volunteers and re-enlistments over loss of men is running at quite a high annual rate at the moment. There is no sign of any reversal of this trend: it may even be strengthened in the present economic climate. With the number of permanent volunteers rising and a stable component of nation.il servicemen the Defence Minister is working himself into a very serious predicament. Obviously he wants to maintain the Army level at around 40,000 as part of restraints on running costs. However, with the number of volunteers rising the net strength of the Army is over 41,000.
If present recruiting trends continue the Minister could find himself with an Army of 43.000 or even more. This is embarrassing on 2 counts. Firstly, it is not possible to restrain costs if there is a substantia! growth in the number of men enlisting. Secondly, it means that the only way of getting the Army back to the 40,000 mark is to cut national service. It is impossible to see any sort of rational compromise between the Government’s wish to retain national service, its insistence on a maximum component of volunteers, and the desire expressed by the Minister for Defence to restrain the growth of manpower costs. The lack of logic and consistency in the Government’s military manpower policies is forcing it into a very sticky position on the future strength of the Army. If its objectives are not rationalised in some way the whole basis for the present mix of volunteers and national servicemen could be destroyed beyond rpeair.
There was recognition of this dilemma in a terse reference in the Minister’s report. He said explicitly that any limitation in Army manpower must be compensated for by technologically advanced equipment. This hints very strongly at possible replacement of a labor intensive Army as we have now by a capital intensive Army with fewer men and much more advanced equipment.
The end result would be an Army on similar lines to the present Navy and Air Force with emphasis on minimum manpower and maximum advanced equipment, lt is ironic that this concept of a capital rather than a labor-intensive Army has been advanced by the Government’s Minister for Defence. The Labor Party has been accused of trying to destroy the Army by insisting that national service be abolished. The concept of the Minister for Defence goes way beyond the abolition of national service, lt implies a sharp reduction in the number of volunteers in a switch to a capital intensive Army.
This exposes the misleading nature and the often hypocritical attitudes of the Government on this question of the size of the Army. On one hand it insists on a target strength of around 40.000 and claims that any reduction would destroy the effectiveness of the Army. On the other the Minister has made it quite plain that the Government has plans for moving away from a labour-intensive army to a capitalintensive army based on fewer men and more advanced equipment. In the same breath the Government is putting restraints on the growth of manpower and maintaining the strength of the Army at an inflated level by the conscription of 12,000 men each year.
A notable omission from the discussion on manpower is any reference to the Citizen Military Forces. This is surprising because the Government spokesmen have put particular emphasis on the impact of Labor’s abolition of national service on the future of the CMF. On the evidence of this statement the Government is not unduly perturbed about the future of the CMF and its essential role in the defence structure.
Mr Deputy Speaker, yesterday in this Parliament I sat through the statement made by the Minister for Defence which lasted for 45 to 50 minutes and it seems incredible to me, as I am sure it must to those honourable members and people outside the Parliament who concern themselves about the problems of defence in this country, that in a 5-year plan there could be not one reference to probably one of the most important aspects of defence in this country, the future of the CMF. There has been a considerable number of debates in this Parliament on defence matters, normally raised by honourable members on this side of the House and sometimes supported by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). I acknowledge the honourable member’s support.
I remember that last year we asked the former Minister for the Army whether he would be prepared to make a statement in this Parliament on the future role of the CMF in Australia. A statement ultimately was presented, as a result of further questions asked by the honourable member for La Trobe, I think, and others in this Parliament, but it told us exactly nothing. It told us no more than any person who serves in the armed forces in this country could have told us, A very quick discussion with anyone who has some concern for the voluntary branch of the services in this country could have given us more indication of what the Minister would be expected to say in his statement on the future of the CMF at that time.
There is great concern in this country about the future of the CMF. How often have I heard in this Parliament honourable members on the Government side of the House say, when we have been discussing the problems of national service, as well as the Minister for Defence, the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) and others in answer to questions, that young men have the alternative of joining the CMF. The Minister for Defence must know that one of the problems of the CMF today is that it has been expected to absorb those people who are not prepared to accept responsibility as national servicemen in this country. Is it any wonder, Mr Deputy Speaker, that there is this great concern throughout the community about the deterioration of the role of the CMF in Australia and the complete disregard for the CMF by the Government and those on the Government side of the chamber who accept responsibility in this Parliament for matters of defence?
The Minister made a 50-minute statement without once referring to the CMF. Surely one can expect that this is an integral part of the defence system of this country. Does the Minister for Defence not believe or would he not be prepared to concede that at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the CMF made a very significant contribution indeed? Had it not been for the cadre of officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks who enlisted at that time there would have been great difficulty in raising the initial defence force in this country. Therefore I say to the Minister for Defence that if this was a deliberate omission, or even if it was an oversight, I hope he will take the earliest possible opportunity to correct it.
I assure him, as I assure honourable members on the Government side of the chamber, that there is great feeling in this country about the deterioration of the CMF. I believe that those who are prepared to serve in this way on a voluntary basis are entitled to be told by this Government what the future of this force is to be. Is it to be allowed to wither away altogether? One could hardly blame these people if they adopted the attitude that the Government is interested no longer, and, even worse, that it is no longer concerned. On the evidence of this statement, as I said, the Government appears to be not unduly perturbed about the future of the CMF. I hope that what I have said will at least ensure that some responsible Minister in this Parliament, one of the Service Ministers, will again make some positive statement about the future of what we regard as one of the most important parts of the defence system in this country.
The new equipment announced for the Army in 1972-73 is limited to one item - the procurement of the Nomad observation aeroplane. This is hardly new; it was announced some weeks ago. Once again it is worth pointing up the uselessness of a 5- year programme which can provide only one important item of procurement for the Army - and that a very familiar piece of equipment. The only other reference to Army equipment is one vague mention of the need for greater self-reliance in artillery and close air support.
This is the sum total of what the Minister can tell us about the future needs of the Army over the next 5 years. Not only does the programme fail to tell us how much will be allocated to capital reequipment for the Army; it does not even go beyond indicating in the vaguest terms the areas where re-equipment is needed. This seems to amuse the Minister for the Navy (Or Mackay). If his understanding of the Army is no better than his understanding of the Navy, I can appreciate his amusement.
Turning to the Royal Australian Air Force, the amount of revelation in the programme is just as unsatisfactory. On the strategic side the Minister says the concept of air warfare is not confined to the defence of the Australian continent, hi his view Australia’s strategic strike force with its long-range capability is intended as a deterrent. He neglects to mention that this alleged deterrent is not yet in existence as a viable force in Australia. The Australian deterrent is still in the hangars at Fort Knox where it is deterring no-one from mounting an attack on Australia. Even when the so-called deterrent is assembled and fully effective in Australia it is absurd to suggest that a potential enemy would be deterred from any aggression to Australia by its existence.
A delivery system in itself is not a deterrent; the deterrent lies in what the delivery system delivers. A deterrent based on strategic bombers armed with conventional weapons is not viable; it would not deter any country with the potential to assault Australia from going ahead with its plans. An Fill making a hazardous flight of several thousand miles with in-flight fuelling to drop a load of conventional bombs on a potential aggressor just does not constitute a deterrent. This raises the rather sinister implication that some sort of nuclear deterrent using the Fill as a delivery system exists somewhere in the Government’s consciousness. The Minister goes on to say that if deterrence failed, air defence would involve all 3 Services.
This raises the questions of the Navy’s review of its air power needs and the future of the fleet air arm which I will refer to when discussing the DDL project. lt means, also, a substantial increase in the air capability of the Army. This points up the blurring of distinctions between the individual services and the increasing integration of their roles. The announcement of new equipment for the RAAF is confined to reiteration of the decision to buy 37 basic air trainers from New Zealand. Much more important items of defence equipment, such as the replacement of long-range maritime patrol aircraft and the replacement of the Mirages, are ducked completely.
Although the RAAF has announced its requirement for the Mirage replacement and submissions from potential suppliers have been sought, the Minister stated quite blandly that commitment to a new air defence aircraft would not be required for some years. This attitude contrasts quite dramatically with previous statements that an early decision on a Mirage replacement would be necessary because of the long lead-time in obtaining a new aircraft. The only contribution the Minister made to resolving these issues was to state that the future of the Phantoms on lease from the United States Air Force was under consideration.
I turn now to the core of the Minister’s statement, which is the new equipment programmes announced for the Navy. It has become a cliche of defence analysis and commentary in the past few years that the Navy will be the decisive service in th remaining decades of this century. Once the doctrine of forward defence was scrapped and it was recognised that Australian defence was essentially continental defence, even the present Government recognised this basic truth. The Department of Defence has even coined the dreadful label maritime-archipelago environment’ to describe the new area of Australia’s defence interest. The paramount position of the Navy in this sort of defence environment has at last been recognised. However, it is far from clear how the Navy should be equipped and deployed in the most effective way to assure the security of the Australian continent. The supremacy of the Navy is revealed in the lion’s share of capital equipment costs allocated to it in the sketchy outline of future procurement contained in the Minister’s statement. What is absent is any recognition of the need to integrate the expected role of the Navy with the equipment necessary for that role.
There is an immense propaganda campaign in progress at the moment to promo:e the DDL destroyer concept. Previously in this House I have expressed doubts about the relevance of the DDL concept measured against its prohibitive cost. I have not been alone in questioning some of the assumptions underlying the DDL; Government members including the honourable members for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) and Wentworth (Mr Bury) were rather more critical of the programme than I was during last year’s defence estimates debate. It will be interesting to see whether their attitudes are still the same. Let me state at the outset that it is not irresponsibility or mere bagging to question these defence programmes. It is not intended as a reflection on the Navy to make this sort of critical analysis; I know its keenness to get its destroyers and the blow it would be to naval morale if anything went wrong with the project. But there is a higher duty that before such a vast and costly programme is undertaken it be thoroughly justified in cost-effectiveness terms. Despite the lengthy analysis given to the DDL by the Minister for Defence and outside the House by the Minister for the Navy, I am not satisfied that this has been done.
The first thing that concerns me is the small number of vessels involved. In effect, the Navy will be replacing 6 destroyers with 3 at the end of the decade. The statement made by the Minister for the Navy abounds with optimism that these 3 destroyers will be only the first batch of a number of new destroyers based on the DDL format and designed to fulfil more specialised roles. In plain terms the Minister would have to be joking. If these 3 destroyers are built they will be a onceandforali effort, whatever the government. With the estimated unit cost now exceeding $100m and certain to be much higher, the project is way beyond the stage where 12 destroyers would be built. With the bulk of resources for new capital spending for the Navy going to these 3 destroyers we would have a situation at the turn of the decade when our naval capability would be substantially below what it is now.
By 1980, 6 of the older destroyers will be too old for service, the ‘Melbourne’ will have finished its effective life and it is likely that a replacement for its fleet air arm capability will be still in the offing. The 3 DDLs would not be in effective service before 1984 at the earliest. In effect, there would be a period of at least 3 years during which Australia’s naval strength would be at a very low ebb. We would have fewer ships instead of more; even if the 3 DDLs came into service and some form of fleet air capacity were provided, our naval capability would barely match what it is now.
This is the basic flaw of the DDL concept: It concentrates too large a share of available resources on too small a part of the naval capacity we need. In ideal circumstances the DDL may be the only vessel that meets Australia’s requirements. It is a simple enough exercise to put the DDL up against a smaller and cheaper ship and demonstrate the marked supremacy of the DDL. But does this sort of ship-to-ship comparison assure the overall weapons mix that is the most suitable for the naval defence of Australia? Obviously there are very serious limitations to what even 3 highly effective general purpose destroyers would achieve in the immense area of ocean surrounding Australia.
Take one hypothetical example of the possible deployment of these 3 destroyers in a situation of potential threat. I refer to the escort role. With 3 destroyers it would be possible to have one escorting a convey from Sydney across the Pacific, another from Brisbane through the Strait of Malacca, and the third from Perth across the Indian Ocean. What else could these 3 destroyers achieve in a situation of war? If one were diverted to some other role such as area air defence or interdiction of enemy shipping, the escort capability for one major trade route would be obliterated. It can be argued that this only proves that we need many more DDL’s but how can we afford them at the estimated unit cost?
The second point I want to make about the destroyers is their vulnerability. The Minister for Defence stressed repeatedly that the DDLs would have the capacity to operate in an independent role far from Australia’s shores. He expressed it as follows: ‘We must be able to deploy destroyers which, if need be, can act in a hostile environment, without the support of our allies’. This envisages a roll where the DDL operates independently in a hostile area without air cover. It assumes that the DDL in such a role would have the ability to defend itself against air attack, presumably by surface to air missiles. When the DDG guided-missile destroyers were bought it was claimed by the Government that they would give the Navy protection from air attack; accordingly the fixed-wing element of the fleet air arm was dismantled. This assumption was exposed as fallacious when the Skyhawk aircraft were bought to provide a new fighter-bomber capability for the ‘Melbourne’.
The same doubts about the effectiveness against aerial attack would apply to the DDL. It is doubtful whether the DDL would be able to operate safely when deep in hostile territory without some sort of air cover. Missile defences have been shown to have flaws, particularly with low flying aircraft and surface to surface missiles which skim the sea. This raises also the question of the vulnerability of the DDLs to missilearmed fast patrol boats when operating in an independent role. This point is best illustrated by the theoretical destruction of the aircraft carrier ‘Melbourne’ by missiles from Singaporean patrol boats in a recent exercise. The ‘Melbourne’ had its own air cover but this did not save it from being killed’. On this and other evidence of the vulnerability of destroyers to this sort of craft, it would be foolhardy for the DDLs to operate by themselves at any distance from air cover.
It is true that the DDL is designed to carry helicopters big enough to carry heavy missiles capable of knocking out a fast patrol boat. But the helicopter is vulnerable in its own right to effective anti-air defence; furthermore a single helicopter on station needs a considerable amount of luck to pick up a fast patrol boat before it fires its missiles. The Minister for Defence insisted that this area-air defence role was one of the three significant roles of the generalpurpose DDL. The others were escort and surveillance duties. There must be very grave doubts about the effectiveness of the DDL in this area-air defence role without adequate air cover. This exposes another anomaly in the Government’s assessment of the role of the DDL. A study of Navy air power is being made at the moment to determine the future of air capability once the ‘Melbourne’ finishes its effective life. Presumably this will also evaluate whether the ‘Melbourne’ should be replaced by another conventional aircraft carrier or whether the Navy should switch to throughdeck cruisers or some other form of helicopter carrier or Harrier carrier. The conclusions of this study are extremely relevant to the future of the DDL yet the Government has gone ahead without waiting for the results of this study.
In summary, neither Minister has shaken my belief that Australia’s naval defences would be better served by a mix of vessels giving the greatest capability across the whole range of naval requirements and justified in cost-effectiveness terms within the limits of available resources. This capability could perhaps be achieved by providing a fleet of 20 DDLs, which seems to be the sort of fleet the Minister for the Navy has in mind. Alternatively it could be provided by a greater number of more modest vessels selected on the basis of contribution to an overall force structure. It is understandable that a single DDL would have immeasurably greater capability than a single fast patrol boat, a frigate or some other vessel. This comparison has never been made, although the Minister seems to suggest that this is mv belief. The cost-effectiveness of the DDL is not measured in terms of comparison with a single smaller and less elaborate vessel. What is significant is the contribution a mix of a number of these less elaborate vessels can make to Australia’s defences measured against what 3 DDLs could do. The supremacy of the DDLs in costeffectiveness terms in such a comparison has been proven neither by the Government nor the Navy. This is an immensely important question and the Parliament will have further opportunities to discuss it during the Budget debate and the Estimates debate.
In summary, many interesting facets are contained in the Minister’s statement and I hope I have touched on most of them. What the Minister has put to the House falls down seriously as a comprehensive and coherent statement of a 5-year defence programme. The amount of financial data contained in the document is extremely disappointing. But I suppose as a stimulant to debate of defence issues the statement has its merits. Its implications will be considered by the Opposition in the next few weeks.
Debate (on motion by Dr Mackay) adjourned.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Pursuant to statute I present the report and financial statements of the Reserve Bank for the year 1971-72, together with the Auditor-General’s reports thereon.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– by leave- The House will recall that a few months ago I brought before the notice of the House and the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) the case of a blind girl. At that time I was approached by a lady who used to go to the same church as the blind girl, and she told me the circumstances of the case. I said to her: ‘I will need some sort of correspondence’. I always insist on getting a letter about a matter that someone raises because I think it is the correct way to deal with these matters. I mention that in passing because about 10 days ago I received a telephone call from Mr Ray Ellis, who is a very reputable citizen who lives in Balmain. He has been in the Scout movement for the last 27 years. Mr Ellis informed me of the circumstances surrounding one of Australia’s representatives at the Munich Olympic Games, Mr John Kinsela, who is a member of a big family and also has a wife and child to support, and said that when he went to the Games the family became destitute. I said: ‘This is a rather strange request. I should certainly like something in writing because in my own opinion I do not think that a request has ever been made by any other member for assistance for the wife and child and also family of any person who has been selected to go to the Olympic Games’. As a consequence I received the following letter, signed by the mother of John Kinsela and dated 6th August:
The Australian Olympic Team departed last night with the best wishes and support of the nation for each member to be able to achieve his highest ambitions, free from anxiety and be awarded for his merit.
John Kinsela Captain of the Australian Wrestling Team, is one competitor who unfortunately is not free from worry and mental anguish. With an outstanding sense of national responsibility developed in the achievement of Queen’s Scout Award, Duke of Edinburg Gold Award, Outward Bound Scheme, Rotary Youth Leadership Course, Olympic Representative (Mexico 1968) and Vietnam Veteran 1970-71, John has accepted 1972 representation leaving behind his wife and 9 weeks old daughter in a state of near destitution.
Since returning from Vietnam, John has used his savings as deposit on a small car. for his wedding, to become an owner/driver for All Purpose Messengers (APM) and to help support his sisters and parents. With no financial assets T am compelled to seek work to bring food home to John’s wife and baby so that Australia might be represented by the best available.
I have been advised that I should enter hospital for an operation and seek your support in any assistance that you might bc able to give to John’s wife - be it food or monetary assistance.
The Munich Games mean glory, sportsmanship, long term tourism and many more things for Australia - most prominent in John’s conscience is eight weeks without income for his Family. Your help will be greatly appreciated. 1 do not think the rest of the letter is of much relevance to the case I am putting. The letter is signed by Myrtle Kinsela who is the mother of the person in question. On receiving this letter when I arrived at Canberra last Tuesday, I was not sure whether it was a case for the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) or the Minister for Social Services, so I went to see the Minister for Social Services. He said that he thought there was nothing in the Regulations of the Social Services Act that could allow anything to be done for the family in these circumstances. He also mentioned that, being an ex-athlete himself, he understood a little about the amateur athletics body and its rules concerning whether any assistance might endanger John Kinsela’s amateur status. I suggested - not the Minister - that I should ask a question in the House about the matter to see whether we could clarify the position in regard to doing something about these people, because the letter I have just read out is quite obvious.
I got in touch with Mr Ellis this morning because at 7.30 this morning a representative of one of the Sydney daily newspapers rang me and conveyed to me Information to the effect that John Kinsela is very concerned about the publicity overseas and that he is hurt by it. This daily newspaper representative even went so far as to say that John Kinsela will demand a public apology from me for bringing the matter up. So I asked Mr Ellis whether he would send me a telegram setting outthe circumstances of the case, because he admitted wording the letter that the mother signed. In passing, I might say that the wife of John Kinsela appeared on Channel 7 in Sydney last night in regard to this case but I do not know what transpired on that programme. However, I shall read this very short telegram. It states:
Sincerest apologies for embarrassment or inconvenience suffered by you and Minister Social Services acting in good faith for Kinsela family. I assisted Mrs Kinsela (Senior) in drafting letter and gave$120 from my own pocket. Assistance may not be accepted by family. Publicity thought detrimental to John’s prospects. Regrets.
I should like to say that if I have in any way embarrassed John at the Olympic Games in Munich, I apologise, but I think that most members in this House would agree that I tried to do the best thing that I could on behalf of my constituents.
I know that most honourable members in this House would say that the Minister for Social Services and myself have not got on very well over the years. We have often had crossfire across the House but on this occasion I say that he acted with great humanitarianism and I congratulate him on this. However, I emphasise that, in the future, even though I do demand things in writing, this might be a lesson, not only to me but also to other people, before they take action on these matters to go and visit the home of the person concerned to see for themselves the situation that exists.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave of the House to make a short statement on the same subject.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thank the House. I am sure that all honourable members will agree that there is no blame in any way attachable to the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) in this matter. I am sure that he has acted in a bona fide manner and with reason and in the interests of the persons concerned. May I say only one other thing? The important thing is that we all let John Kinsela know that Australia supports him and wishes him every fortune and victory in the coming Olympic Games. I am sure that, in them, he will uphold the best traditions of Australian sportsmanship
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 394).
Dr MACKAY (Evans - Minister for the
Navy) (8.0) - At the outset and by arrangement with the Opposition I table the document:
Towards the 21st Century: The RAN looks ahead’.
The wide-ranging speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) was studded with inaccuracies and misunderstandings, many of which will be dealt with by subsequent speakers because I want to devote my time to questions affecting the Navy. Firstly, let me point to his charge that I have tried to keep him in the dark by refusing him information. It is somewhat ironic that the last time he spoke in the House on such a subject it was to congratulate me on adopting the opposite attitude. There was apparently a misunderstanding regarding his request last evening, which I interpreted to be a request for a copy of the full Press briefing of the Naval Staff presentation. I can assure him that he received my personal copy, which was the first one to enter Parliament House this morning soon after question time.
It is also of significance that before he spoke he had accepted an invitation I gave him personally that he, and any other Opposition or Government members interested in the subject, could have a full briefing by the Naval Staff in the precincts of Parliament House as soon as it could be mutually arranged. I must admit to being amused by his crocodile tears concerning the strength of the Citizen Military Forces. He had apparently forgotten his words a few minutes earlier pleading for a small, highly sophisticated Army, dispensing with labour in place of equipment. I wonder whether he sees a contradiction? Discussing the Fil l aircraft, of course they are pure gold for our regional defences. But I can assure him they have never been in hangars at Fort Knox as he stated. A much more serious note is heard in his deploring their lack of deterrent strength by being restricted to the use of conventional bombs. Is Labor to discard conventional deterrents? Is the shadow Minister making a plea for the acquisition of the nuclear bomb? What is the point of that objection?
Turning now to naval matters, let me contradict flatly his assertion that the Government had not justified the DDL in cost effective terms. No project in the history of major Government expenditure, certainly of defence expenditure, has been so thoroughly and painstakingly researched in just these terms, and from every conceivable viewpoint. I will say more on that in a moment. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition deplores the small number of destroyers we are ordering, saying that 3, if built, would be a once-and-for-all effort, no matter what government was in power. I take this as a direct threat to reduce the Navy to the ridiculous picture he portrayed of 3 only destroyers trying to cope with work currently being tackled by 12. What did he do with the other 9? His statement that 6 destroyers would be too old by 1980 is completely wrong. If he re-reads the statement of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) he will find the answer.
He likewise attacks the capacity of the SAM missile in area air defence, implying that the Skyhawks for HMAS ‘Melbourne’ were acquired virtually to protect the DDGs. This is completely wrong. The Skyhawks are a strike aircraft originally acquired to counter reconnaissance planes and in any case, the DDLs will have the STANDARD missile which is superior to the TARTAR. It is to be fitted for closerange guns which are the most effective answer presently known to low flying aircraft and sea skimmer missiles. Once again his statement that a ‘single helicopter needs a lot of luck to pick up a fast patrol boat after it fires its missiles simply is not accepted. A helicopter of the type we are planning would have to have abominably bad luck not to pick up a fast patrol boat at any time, night or day, hail or shine. His statement that we should await the outcome of the Naval Airpower Study before proceeding to build the DDL can only be described as a superficial debating point because any knowledge of world practice in destroyer design will tell him of the value of helicopters for destroyers.
His further claim that he has been misrepresented as comparing a single DDL with a single smaller ship is ludicrous. An enormous amount of study has been carried out to compare the cost-effectiveness of the DDL with any number of smaller ships. While, in some roles, one DDL may be roughly an equivalent of 2, 3 or more lighter vessels, there are other roles where no number of smaller ships could replace the DDL. All these sums have been done and redone. I can assure the House that this study has been carried out to complete exhaustion and 1 simply assert that no combination of smaller ships could match the effectiveness of the DDL, especially with any regard to cost.
May I remind the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of his own words, spoken to the University of Western Australia in January last:
The destroyer project is being pushed carefully along from stage to stage - with every chance given to assess what the Government is putting up and measure it against possible alternatives.
Why the strange change of position? Why has he taken this vital piece of defence equipment - on which the Government has been so open and so careful - and tried to make it into a party political football? Is this just one more desperate Opposition move made with reckless disregard of what every informed defence expert asserts to be essential equipment for our security? This is not a party issue. This is the united and single voice of the Navy, the Department of Defence, the Treasury, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) - indeed of all those qualified to judge in this nation. What is he trying to achieve? Despite every appearance of this being a partisan cavill let us, however, look again at the arguments which underlie his objections. Is there any truth at all in the charge that by acquiring a smaller number of DDLs compared with many less capable ships we are ‘putting too many eggs into too few baskets’?
This, of course, is one of the major areas of consideration and debate in defence planning. As a result of criticisms which have been made from time to time over the last year or two, this DDL proposition has been subject to renewed research and stud/. I can only repeat what has been the unanimous and completely unequivocal finding of such studies, and that is that the provision of a number of small and less capable ships, sharing the many roles which are the lot of the DDLs I have described, would be much more expensive, much less effective and, what is equally important, would be much more demanding as regards manpower, than the DDLs. Taking the latter point of manpower first, it is apparent that in order to convey any significant weapons systems around the ocean as part of a naval operation the vessel concerned must be navigated and the crew and ship cared for. All the multitudinous duties of shipkeeping must be attended to, and executive officers, engineers, cooks and stewards, deck sailors, as well as supply and communications personnel must be provided for each ship. To proliferate these personnel requirements for each military role, in separate ships, would be a highly extravagant use of our limited manpower resources.
It is not generally realised that manpower, even in this sophisticated age, is a factor which absorbs about one-half of the defence vote. Our new destroyers will each have a saving of approximately 100 men in comparison wilh the similarly sized DDG. It is thereby estimated to have an inbuilt saving of well over $lm per ship per year on this score alone, as at least one man ashore is required for back-up purpose’ for each man afloat. During their lives the 3 DDLs will, therefore, afford a saving of more than $75m compared with the 3 DDGs, which are less capable ships.
As I have said, sums have been done and redone in the case of the requisite number of smaller ships or frigates needed to accomplish the many roles required of the DDLs. They lead to a much increased cost factor, not only as described above, in the manpower field but in the actual cost of the ships and their support. These studies all have been carried out in exhaustive style and in great detail. When compared with smaller and less capable ships the DDL could in all cases carry out the job more effectively; it could remain in areas remote from bases where they could not; it could operate in sea conditions when they could not; it could defend itself against an air or submarine attack which could incapacitate lesser ships, and it could escort and protect merchant ships much more effectively. Small ships have a low effectiveness in surveillance capability and poor survivability against air attack. Their seakeeping qualities are limited and their endurance in the higher speed bracket is poor. In other words, such less capable small ships would themselves on occasions need to be supported by ships such as the DDL.
All that I have said does not mean that the Navy has no intention of looking to small, fast and effectively armed missilecarrying patrol boats similar to the Russian KOMAR or OSA class boats. These, or variants on the theme, may well be a requirement for the future but they would not have such long ‘lead times’. This is not the case with the DDL, on which work must begin now if the ships are to be ready in time to replace the Darings in the early 1980s.
Not only have ships of the size and capability of our own River Class destroyers been examined, but every other known possibility in the navies of the western world. It has been found that when cost has been measured against effectiveness and size, the Australian ship holds its own with overseas construction. For example, the Spruance class DD963 being almost half as big again as the DDL, would cost proportionately higher if similarly equipped. Similarly, the British Type 42 destroyer modified to meet our requirements including logistic com.patability with our fleet would cost virtually the same as the DDL. The final result has been to vindicate, on a simple cost-effective basis, the choice of the Navy for its own design of light destroyer.
Misleading claims have recently been made that the trend in overseas navies is towards lighter and less sophisticated ships. In point of fact this is quite untrue, if it implies that heavier destroyers have yielded place to these ships. In the United States Navy there is not only a move toward the provision of the Spruance - DD963 - class of ship of about 7,000 tons, but in addition there are several classes of modern destroyers of at least the size of our own DDL. The United States has actually been developing still larger cruisers. The Russians likewise have developed heavier destroyers and cruisers, while the Royal Navy has been producing its Type 82, Type 42 and Type 22 destroyers, all in comparable size range with the DDL. The Russians of course have continued to employ heavier ships such as cruisers. The Russian Kresta class destroyers are estimated to displace over 6,000 tons, the Kynda about 6,000 tons and the Kashin class guided missile destroyers 5,200 tons. Indeed modern navies all support the concept of the DDL or heavier destroyers.
The helicopter will be vital for providing, in the first place, increased capability for reconnaissance and the surveillance of the vast oceans bordering our coastline. A destroyer without a helicopter is severely limited as to her horizon - beyond which she is blind. If she is to maintain an extended patrol, a helicopter will increase her horizon so significantly that one ship, with 2 helicopters, would be more than the equal of 3 ships not so equipped. For the cost involved it is obvious that this is a highly significant consideration.
In addition to carrying out reconnaissance duties, however, 2 helicopters sharing the air-borne duty can provide a highly significant early warning of impending attack. They can engage and destroy small fast patrol craft before they get within range. They would be armed with airtosurface missiles and in addition could be equipped to carry out certain antisubmarine roles.
To summarise as far as I have gone, let me quote from remarks by Mr Barnard in the ‘Australian Quarterly* of June this year. He said:
The trend evident in naval exhibitions and the procurement policies of other navies is towards faster, smaller and heavily-armed vessels of the light corvette and fast patrol boat types.
He concluded that paragraph by saying:
For escort, patrol and surveillance duties it is hard to justify the DDL when these tasks could be done by smaller and cheaper ships.
All the studies that have been carried out in Navy and Defence contradict these assertions.
To reiterate some points on the escort role alone: It is unthinkable that the escort should not be able to afford its charges protection against airborne attack, for example, and 1 have already indicated that an area defence missile system, which is virtually indispensable for such a purpose, is not known to be fitted to ships of under 3,500 tons anywhere in the world. The escort, in addition to her anti-aircraft capabilities, however, must obviously be able to maintain the speed of the convoy in all weather conditions, and that means a cruising speed of at least 18 knots. At the same time, she must be able to stay with her charges over considerable periods - in short, she needs endurance to match her task. Then, having provided a hull with the speed and endurance to be of value as an escort and having equipped her with an anti-aircraft defence system, there are obviously other matters that have to be taken into account.
The escort must be able to detect the approach of a hostile submarine or warship, for example, and especially one with the capability of launching missiles. An adequate warning is only available if extremely sophisticated electronic warfare equipment and helicopters are carried, coupled with computerised analysis capability and that, in turn, linked to the main defensive armament of the ship.
– Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I should like to make a couple of general comments before I begin my speech. Firstly, my speech, of necessity, will be the first off the cuff speech in this debate. It will not be a read speech. Unlike the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay), members of the Opposition do not have the advantage of having the Public Service behind them to hand out ministerial speeches. This defence statement was made yesterday and we have to debate it today, when those of us who are interested in questions like the DDL destroyer programme have most of our files in our electorate offices. There is no notice given of these major debates but there ought to be. We are left in the position where we have to scratch information together from scant resources so as to answer speeches which are handed by departments to Ministers to be read.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– It is right, and the Minister knows it. The Australian Labor Party welcomes any effort by this Government in the area of defence. It is common knowledge that over the last 23 years this Government has failed totally in this area. The 5-year rolling plan, which is very high in the Government’s list of election ploys this year, was introduced by a former Minister for Defence, Sir Allen Fairhall, years ago. But every 3 years the 5-year plan gets a shot in the arm, and that is invariably in an election year. The Government has failed in issues like foreign policy. It has introduced a Budget which is purely and simply designed to catch votes. The foresight of the Budget will end in about November, just in time for the election.
The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) ran all over South East Asia in the parliamentary recess in order to create an issue out of defence and foreign policy, only to find that the Malaysian Government said that it did not care whether or not we retained Australian troops in that country. So the forward defence concept fell apart on the Government once again. The Prime Minister tried to cause some problems in the oil industry in order to create an industrial confrontation situation, but that also failed. So with his election strategy in tatters the Prime Minister has only 2 things left: The Budget with which to buy votes and the good old well worn issue of defence. So out comes the 5-year rolling plan again.
An amount of $7,000m is to be spent on defence in the next 5 years. It is worth remembering that the amount of $7,000m is no more than the amount spent in the past. It represents 3.4 per cent of the gross national product with an annual increase, on the Minister’s own figures, of 4.7 per cent on 1972 prices. Looked at in that context, it will probably mean that less will be spent on defence in the next few years than has been spent on defence in the past. This Government has an appalling record in defence, and this whole thing is again a ploy to catch votes.
I should like to refer to a couple of points which the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) made in his speech. He said:
We are developing forces specifically capable of acting in the broad maritime and archipelago surrounds of the continent if this should be needed no less than in defence of our beaches and our hinterland. We reject all policies which would, whether by doctrine or by the de facto denial of external facilities or suitable equipment, confine our Services to no more than a continental role.
That is the policy of the Australian Labor Party. In my 3 years in this Parliament I have never seen such a dramatic change. I could hardly believe what the Minister read out. The Government has adopted our policy. The Minister talks about forward defence but, as I said today to the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison), there is not one over-shore assault ship in the Services of this country. So it is ridiculous to talk about forward defence. Basically, this is a Fortress Australia approach - keeping our own defence strong and having the capacity io work in the archipelago environment. This is what the Australian Labor Party has been advocating for many years.
Let us now look at the whole position surrounding the DDL destroyers. Basically, the 5-year rolling programme is designed to provide capital equipment for the Services. It is to provide capital equipment for the Services. There are 3 new DDL destroyers. There is the modernisation and updating of the Charles F. Adams DDG guided missile destroyers. There is the extended refit of the River class destroyers. Anti-submarine helicopters are being obtained together with the acquisition of the Nomad aircraft for the Army and what was formerly the Australian made Victa aircraft, is now being purchased from New Zealand for the Australian Army also. On the question of the DDL destroyers, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) as reported at page 205 of yesterday’s Hansard described the destroyers in this way:
The new destroyers will have an area air defence system, a medium range gun, ship-launched antisubmarine torpedoes, appropriate sensors, an automated command and control system to ensure the effective integration of these weapons and sensors, and they will be able to carry 2 helicopters fitted with armament and surveillance equipment. This weapon fit, the requirement for good endurance and prudent allowance for later development, dictate a ship size of about 4,000 tons.
The Minister proceeded to put to the House the theory that we would be better off with a couple of these very expensive vessels rather than with what the Opposition has advocated over the last couple of years, that is, the acquisition of more but less expensive vessels. The Minister said further:
The estimated comprehensive project investment cost, including these additional items, is $355m, in 1972 prices, for 3 ships.
That is in excess of $100m per ship. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) said this afternoon, it would he impossible for us to look at equipment as expensive as this on a very wide ranging basis.
I wish to refer to what the Minister for the Navy said in the handout that was part of the naval briefing received by :he Deputy Leader of the Opposition on thi DDLs. The Minister stated that the DDL was a Daring class replacement. He said that it had to have a capability for area air defence, that is, surface-to-air missiles. He said that nowhere in the world were area defence missiles fitted to ships of less than 3,500 tons. The Minister said further that the same ship had to defend itself against submarine attack and had deckmounted torpedo tubes. It had a 5-inch gun to defend itself against cruise missiles. He also mentioned that the ship had to defend itself against the likes of the Russian Badger bomber and MIG fighters. In other words, this ship has to do everything. Yet, over the years, the Government has told us that it has bought different pieces of naval equipment for different purposes. The DDGs were basically area air defence vessels. Apparently they are now being viewed as inadequate because they do not encompass all of the roles envisaged for the DDL. The Daring class destroyers - that is, HMAS Vampire’, HMAS ‘Vendetta’ and HMAS Duchess’ - are basically anti-submarine craft. The River class vessels - that is, HMAS ‘Yarra’, HMAS ‘Parramatta’.
HMAS ‘Stuart’, HMAS ‘Derwent’, HMAS Swan’ and HMAS Torrens’- are basically anti-submarine vessels also.
Why do we now need a ship that has a mix of all these qualities when in the past we have purchased vessels with specific capacities, perhaps buying them at a lower price. The Australian Labor Party is of the opinion that we should not be investing in vessels as expensive as these are. But, by the same token, the Labor Party believes that if any vessels are to be built they should be built in Australia and designed here. We have no naval design capacity. Unlike the aircraft industry, naval shipbuilding should be given a chance before it disappears completely. The Minister spoke about the Russian Sverdlov cruisers and the Kashin class cruisers and then he went on to talk about the Osa and Komar class patrol boats. He said when speaking of the Labor Party’s proposal for the Osa and Komar type vessels that one could not really think we would then have anything with adequate sea-keeping capability or effective strike power or endurance. But there is one vessel that the Minister has forgotten to mention. It is the ‘Nanuchka’ which is the NATO name given to the new Soviet vessel. 1 wish to read an extract from the United States ‘Armed Forces Journal’ which might be of interest to the Minister. It states:
Soviet ship-to-ship missile capabilities are being greatly enhanced by a new class of missile ship, NATO-code-named ‘Nanuchka’. According to naval sources, 8 to 10 of the 230-foot craft have already been built in a Leningrad shipyard. ‘Nanuchka’ displaces 700 to 800 tons and has a speed of over 25 knots.
Main armament is 2 triple launchers for SS-N-9 surface-to-surface missiles mounted amidships. Characteristics of the new missile are not yet available, but in size - and presumably in range - it is between the 21 -foot, 25-mile Styx … and the 36-foot, 450-mile ‘Shaddock’ mounted on destroyers and cruisers.
This vessel of approximately 800 tons has a missile with a range between 25 miles and 450 miles which would far surpass the capacity of the DDLs. This article continues:
Secondary armament consists of a 57mm dualpurpose twin mount aft and ASW rocket launchers. There is also a mount ring on the forecastle for a gun or, more probably, a new short-range surface-to-air missile still under development.
This vessel has surface-to-surface missiles as well as surface-to-air missiles. To use the Government’s parlance, it would have area defence capability as well as defence against attacking aircraft. The article continues:
An ample suit of search and fire control radar and electronic counter measures is evident in the radomes, dishes, and blackboxes topside.
Advent of the ‘Nanuchkas’ has twofold significance. The numerous 84-foot ‘Komar’ and the 123-foot A…, boats are armed with the shortrange (23 mile) Styx missile and 30mm AA guns. Their small size limits their range and seakeeping ability. This, means they cannot operate on the high seas with the Soviet fleet, or as a long-range screen against American aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, Barents, or Norwegian Seas. ‘Nanuchka. wilh range and seakeeping qualities inherent in its larger size and its longer range missiles, can do both tasks. Thus, it adds a new dimension to Soviet miva! capability by filling the shiptoship missile gap between the inexpensive but numerous coastwise ‘Komars’ and ‘Osas’ and the expensive and fewer seagoing, 6,000-ton ‘Kynda’, Kresta’, and ‘Krivak’ frigates with their longrange Shaddock missiles.
That information rather shoots the Minister’s argument down in flames, does it not? It means that the Soviet Navy has developed a vessel which does all of the things that our DDLs will do, but the Soviet vessel does them using less manpower. Although it is of a smaller size it has the same strike power as the DDL. Yet we did not have the ingenuity even to look at this concept. We intend to buy a vessel of 4.000 tons, heavier than the DDGs, when our original design started at 2,500 ions. This is a classic example of the Government’s lack of control over the area of defence planning. The Government appears as a pawn in the games of the Service departments and the Department of Defence.
While looking at the DDLs, we should consider the further concept of a platform ship. 1 have never heard this mentioned by the Government, but I know that a number of defence planners are thinking in the direction of a platform ship equipped with Harrier type vertical take-off and landing aircraft. Considering the lengthy coast that wc have and our capacity to produce Harrier aircraft in Australia, it would appear that the platform ship is a logical development for our maritime defences. The Harrier aircraft is a reasonably simple aircraft to construct and we would be well able to carry out its manu facture. These platform ships are of comparatively simple design and well within our shipbuilding capacity, lt would have adequate sea-keeping. We would have adequate strike power. At the same time, we could use land-based Harriers to work in unison with sea-based platform ship Harriers. This concept, I think, has more to recommend it than an expenditure of in excess of $100m for each of 3 destroyers of 4,000 tons. Probably most of the time one of those 3 destroyers would be in port for overhaul while only 2 would be on active duty. So, for a coastline of 12,000 miles we would have 2 DDLs on active duty at a cost in excess of $300m. We just cannot afford this sort of programme.
A few minutes only remain for me to speak. I wish to cover a couple of other matters. In his paper, the Minister for Defence mentioned maritime reconnaissance aircraft. It is worth while informing the House that only a month ago the Royal Australian Air Force was prepared to buy the latest generation of Lockheed P3 Orion aircraft from the United States to replace its Neptunes. Not all the cost comparisons, I believe, were taken out. Those that were taken out were used. I believe, in an unfair comparison with a fully equipped Hawker Siddeley Nimrod aircraft. This has apparently created quite a stir in defence circles. It has now gone back for a big rethink. It is another Fill story. The Royal Australian Air Force rushed straight to the United States and ordered the Fill with the Government signing on the dotted line. We nearly had the same thing over again. I would like to see the Parliament follow this aspect of reequipment in the future.
Let me refer now to the basic trainer. The 37 New Zealand CT4 air trainers that we intend to buy to replace the Winjeel trainer will cost S3. 248m. It is worth reminding the House that this aircraft was designed in Australia and manufactured in Australia as the Victa airtourer aircraft. It would still be an Australian enterprise and an Australian industry if the Government had had the foresight to help that company survive when it needed some assistance. The company went to the Tariff Board and was knocked back. That decision was ratified by the Parliament and by the Government. So the Victa finally disappeared from the Australian scene, IS was sold to New Zealand, and now we are buying the aircraft from there. It is all evidence to prove that this Government has not tried to do anything with Australian defence. Its aircraft industry is falling apart Its naval shipbuilding capacity is almost nil. The state of our defence preparedness is no better now than it was in 1941.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I want to talk tonight about the need for national service, why we must have an Army of 40,000, why we cannot achieve this by voluntary enlistment and briefly what effect the abolition of national service would have on the Army. In 1964 we had a regular Army of fewer than 23,000 men. Hostilities were taking place in several areas in South East Asia and the situation was deteriorating. A comprehensive review of our strategic situation, covering existing commitments and likely contingencies, revealed a need to increase the strength of the Army to some 40,000 in less than 2 years. The recruiting campaign was stepped up, servicemen’s pay was increased and moves already in train to improve conditions of service continued. These measures increased re-engagement rates to some extent but the effects on recruiting were marginal.
It was apparent that the required increase in Army strength could not be obtained by voluntary means alone. It was decided reluctantly that there was no alternative but to introduce selective national service. Remember that this decision was made before any commitment had been undertaken to send battalions to Vietnam. The Army had to be increased to meet our overall requirements. At the height of the Vietnam commitment tnt Army was increased to some 44,000 men. Following withdrawal of our combat forces from South Vietnam we reduced our full time Army to about 40,000. I should explain here that the Army must ensure that it has in being a field force of a size sufficient to meet its assigned roles. Much has been said by the Opposition on the number of infantry battalions required. Let me make this clear: The Army does not assess the size of force it requires in terms of infantry battalions, but rather on the size of the formations required.
The need is for the framework of a division which in turn means the framework for 3 task forces each of 3 infantry battalions, although this can be varied to suit particular circumstances. We have in being the organisational framework for 9 battalions and this provides the potential for units to be trained collectively in a divisional setting. In addition, the 9 battalions provide some 1,800 officer and non-commissioned officer positions. These in turn provide the training ground for some 1,900 similar positions in command, administrative and training establishments. It is important that the professional careers of infantry officers and NCOs be built around a balanced experience between staff and regimental appointments. If we reduce the number of battalions we automatically reduce the scope for regimental experience, with the result that the balance is tipped in favour of staff and training appointments. This is undesirable, particularly as infantry - with armour and artillery - represents the primary combat element of the force.
Members of the Opposition should take particular note of the fact that Sir Thomas Daly, who is highly recognised as a military expert and who has no reason to be anything but impartial, supports this kind of structuring of our Army. He recently stated that the present attitude of the Australian Labor Party would in ali probability cut our Army by half if it were ever implemented. The strength of our defence forces is not measured solely by the numbers actively serving. That is a most important point. Apart from filling the Regular Army ranks to the level of 40,000 required, a secondary but most important purpose of national service is to insure against emergencies by building up a reservoir of trained soldiers in the community, as was mentioned quite specifically by my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) in his splendid speech last night. Every year since 1967 some 8,000 national servicemen have been added to the Regular Army Reserve on completion of their full time service. This has meant that we have a reserve already of 40,000 fully trained and experienced men. In addition, many men of military age joined the Citizen Military Forces and were trained there, having selected the CMF as an alternative to national service. The importance of this asset of military manpower is most considerable.
The point 1 wish to stress is that you just cannot create an army overnight. It takes time to train soldiers and to give them experience with formed units. As far as numbers are concerned, there must be a balance. The numbers called up each year have been assessed on the highest professional military judgment as those required to meet known military requirements. National service as implemented has been an outstanding success in achieving its purpose, and national servicemen have been integrated completely into the Army. I think that most of them are very proud to be in the Army. They receive the same conditions of service as regular soldiers. Their training is identical. National servicemen are indistinguishable from other members of the Army. They have acquitted themselves splendidly with credit on active operations and in general service, in the highest traditions of the Australian serviceman. Many national servicemen have been trained as specialists in various fields, and every effort is made to make full use of civilian acquired skills where compatible with military needs.
Despite the clamour against national service by an organised and vocal minority, opposition to the call-up has not been shown by the overwhelming majority of those directly affected. It has always been this Government’s aim that as large a percentage as possible of our forces be volunteers. No Service can be an effective force without those experienced officers and NCOs with the training and experience that comes from long service. The Government has taken considerable initiative to improve pay and conditions of service and other aspects of Service life to assist in attracting voluntary recruits to the Regular Army. Recent improvements in voluntary enlistments have had only a marginal effect on Regular Army strength. Whilst most encouraging, the improvement has not as yet been sufficiently sustained to be taken as an indication that the upward trend will necessarily continue - we hope to God it will - to the point where a wholly volunteer army of the size required could be achieved and maintained. Under these circumstances national service remains a vital requirement to bridge the gap between the volunteer element and the necessary total of about 40,000.
The Labor Party, by eliminating national service, would reduce the Regular Army to below 29,000. The majority of these reductions would be private soldiers, resulting in a serious imbalance in the overall structure. In fact there would be military chaos. It is obvious that with a cut from 40,000 to 29,000- a reduction of about 30 per cent - combined with the elimination of the requirement for training national servicemen at a turnover rate of 18 months, there would be a corresponding reduction in the officers and NCOs required for the reduced force. The Opposition would put a stake through the heart of the Australian military forces. The extent of the redundancy thus produced would have a damaging effect on our Army’s morale. Apart from the resignations which would doubtless result it could have the double-edged effect of deterring new and potential recruits and those who might otherwise have re-engaged. The net effect could only be to reduce an Australian Labor Party-type army to a level much lower than 29,000 men.
The Army is not maintained at a certain level merely to provide career prospects for its members, but in modern times this factor is an important aspect of morale and in attracting and retaining the sort of people the Army requires. Hence it is a potent aspect of Army efficiency and its capability of training for whatever form of active operations it may be called upon to meet. A Labor Government would produce a mass exodus of experienced officers and non-commissioned officers from the Army. That would mean a serious loss of the professional and technical skills which have been developed over a long period, which would seriously affect the efficiency of the remnant of the Army. On the operational side the effect of the cut would be to reduce drastically the number of battalions which, according to our best professional military advice, would have serious effects on our capacity to conduct military operations even on a considerably reduced scale. A corollary to this would be that the levels and nature of units remaining would preclude training of the kind required to develop a competent modern Army. Professionalism would most certainly decline and at an accelerating rate.
I turn now to the Citizen Military Forces. The shadow Minister for Defence dwelt quite a good deal on the CMF and the fact that the Minister for Defence did not mention it. Of course he did not, but why did he not do so? Because he knew that one of his ministerial colleagues would be following him in the debate and would deal with it. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) spoke of the deterioration in the role of the CMF. If there has been a deterioration in that wonderfully Australian characteristic of wanting to get into the Army and serve, it has been due very largely to the vicious elements which the Opposition has infused into the community. I remember that just a year or two ago in this House someone mentioned - I cannot recall who it was - that by stimulating cadet training we were making militarists; in other words, from the early beginning the Opposition has been brainwashing our young men not to join the CMF and not to be involved in the defence of this country.
The CMF has received a momentous amount of my own involvement. It might interest those people who take such a lively interest in the destruction of the Australian Army to learn that only last Sunday the best brains in the whole of the nation sat for a full day - for hour after hour - considering the future role of the CMF and making plans which I hope to be able to announce in the near future. The CMF would lose its national service optees and could consequently fall virtually overnight to about 19,000 men if Labor were in office. A CMF at this level could well be no longer viable and would probably require a complete restructuring. The availability of regular cadre staff in support of the CMF also would be reduced. The combined effects of this and a reduced overall CMF strength would no doubt further erode the effectiveness of CMF training and its capacity to attract volunteers.
The CMF, as a back-up force to the Regular Army in times of national emergency, is a vital part of our overall defence structure. It is apparent that in this area as well our defence capability would be impaired if not seriously mutilated. It is no exaggeration to say that the elimination of national service and the reduction of the size of the Regular Army to fewer than 29,000 men would not only emasculate the Army - both the Regular Army and the CMF - and impair its efficiency but also would produce side effects which would militate strongly against subsequent efforts to increase volunteer strength.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it in order for the Minister for the Army to offer such violent disagree- “ ment with the Governor of New South Wales on this matter?
– I draw the attention of the House to standing order 74, which states that no member may use the name of Her Majesty, her representative in the Commonwealth, or her representative in a State disrespectfully in debate nor for the purpose of influencing the House in its deliberations. Therefore I suggest that all references to the Governor of New South Wales are out of order in debate.
– May I say, finally, that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, like his Leader and a number of his colleagues who strut around reflecting the jackboottype attitude of their Fuhrer, Herr Hawke, forget that the ‘heil, heils’ and the false sense of victory are coming from a small minority - the dropouts. I have no doubt that some of the $500,000 that has been amassed by the Labor Party has been compulsorily acquired from the unions, many members of which do not subscribe to its brand of politics. The Labor Party has storm troopers all around the country creating fictitious smokescreens but it has overlooked one thing, that is, the inherent character of the people of Australia and their determination to resist any move which threatens the security of their country. This is but one rock on which the Labor Party will perish at the next election.
– The Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) has just displayed a conveniently short memory. If he looks to the record he will find that when the question of national service was raised in this House in 1964 the then Minister for the Army, Dr Forbes, on the advice of the Department of the Army, strenuously rejected and opposed the concept of national service for the very reasons that are still valid.
– That is not right and you know it.
– For the benefit of the Minister for Defence, who obviously needs some recall factor, I point out that, in August 1964, Dr Forbes argued strenuously against the introduction of national service. Also the Department of the Army came out against the introduction of national service. The combined points they made then are still valid today. The Minister for the Army should know that national service was introduced in Australia for one purpose and one purpo.se only, that is, for the Australian participation in the disastrous conflict in Vietnam.
– That is wrong.
– That is precisely right because the Americans had already put forward their points in late 1964 and our commitment was to begin in 1965. If the Minister for the Army were to go through the record - 1 suggest that he should - of the debate at that time and the points that the then Prime Minister made he would see the whole context of Indo-China writ large across every statement he made at the time.
Let us have a look at the statement on defence by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn). The first thing that should be said about it is that it is an abject admission of the Government’s failure in defence planning. The Australian continent is no better prepared to defend itself now than it was in 1941. Whilst hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent and squandered in pursuit of the Government’s so-called forward defence policy Australia’s own defences are down. Let us look at the record. The Government has already admitted that its military adventures in Vietnam have seriously distorted our defence structure and weakened our defence preparedness. Let us examine the words used in the ‘Australian Defence Review’ itself. Let me quote from page 26 of that document, lt reads:
Opportunity to give greater weight to long term strategic considerations in the shaping of our forces has until recently been restricted by the immediate demands of our combat deployment in Vietnam. That opportune is now restored.
That means that that opportunity has now been restored because we are out of Viet nam. This point is also admitted in the statement of the Minister for Defence. Let me quote from it. He said:
The years immediately ahead provide an excellent opportunity for Australia to consolidate its defence infrastructure and to improve existing Service establishments.
That is the position after this Government has been governing Australia for 23 years. Let us have a look at the Government’s record. 1 received from the Minister for Defence today - he let me have it only today although I sought the information by way of a question 1 placed on the notice paper some months ago - information to the effect that in the last 10 years the Government has invested only $35.3m on new bases in Australia. But during this period we have spent in Vietnam not $35.3m but hundreds of millions of dollars. We have spent $20m on bases in Malaysia which we no longer control and which are the property of the Malaysian Government through the incompetence and inadequacy of this Government which failed to protect the Australian taxpayers* investment.
Let us look at our defence preparedness in terms of the Royal Australian Air Force. We have 4 Mirage squadrons in the Air Force. Two of those Mirage squadrons are at Butterworth and the reason they are at Butterworth is that there is no base in Australia for half our current fighter force. There are 2 squadrons that we cannot place in Australia. What an indictment that is of the defence planning of this Government. Let us examine the so-called concepts of mobility that this Government talks about. The Government, at page 25 of the ‘Australian Defence Review’, dealing with our air lift capacity, says:
Assuming maximum effort, these aircraft could, in about eight to ten days, transport a lightly equipped Army battalion, with supporting elements, equipment, vehicles and stores sufficient for one month, from the Sydney area to airfielddestinations within a 2.000 nautical miles radius of Sydney.
Let us examine in that context this concept of mobility. In about 8 to 10 days a lightly equipped battalion of less than 1,000 men can be transported to within a 2,000 nautical miles radius of Sydney which, as the Australian Defence Review’ points out, still keeps them on the mainland of Australia and in parts of New Guinea. What a tremendous achievement in 8 to 10 days.
It also assumes that the airfield that is being used in the transport of Australian forces is kept intact by the enemy or any potential enemy. What could happen in 8 to 10 days?
Let us look at some examples of the reasoning of this Government in terms of the statement made by the Minister. He announced with a flourish that there would be a 26 per cent increase in defence expenditure over 5 years. But this really means, and merely means, that defence expenditure will be maintained at the present percentage of the gross national product which has been the same for the preceding 2 years - 3.4 per cent. Let me put this in the perspective of the gross national product. The percentage increase in the gross national product over the last 5 years at constant 1966-67 prices was 28 per cent. If this trend continues defence expenditure will have to increase by 28 per cent but it would be still only marking time with the growth in the gross national product.
I state emphatically that there is no difference between the attitude of the Liberal Party and the Labor Party on priorities and on funds associated with defence. The Labor Party has said that its defence expenditure would range between 3.2 per cent and 3.5 per cent. If we examine statistically the argument the Government has put forward on the percentage increase through to 1976-77 we will find that defence expenditure will be below 3.4 per cent of the gross national product. I noticed last night when the Minister was making his speech that he was embarrassed by the fact that he had to admit that it was 3.4 per cent. A quarter of the way through his speech he read 3.4 per cent, which was the figure provided by his experts, but he immediately thought ‘By God, that is the sort of figure the Labor Party is talking about’, and then said it was 4.3 per cent. As soon as he realised that we knew he had made a mistake he said: ‘Of course, what I should have said earlier was 3.4 per cent’. So there is fundamentally no difference between the priorities attached to expenditure on defence by the Labor Party and by the Liberal Party.
I was delighted to note that the Minister’s statement last night left out the great myth of forward defence. This was the myth upon which the Government fought the 1966 election with the concept of the Chinese or communism or whatever it was pouring down over Asia and dropping on to Australia as though on every Sunday morning we could expect to see the Chinese communists or somebody else on Bondi Beach. Let us look at this concept of forward defence from the point of view of military strategy and ask the question: Where did forward defence get us in the Second World War? When the Labor Party took over in the latter part of 1941 the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions were not in Australia protecting Australia but in North Africa. It was because a Labor Party Prime Minister insisted that the Australian forces should be on Australian territory to protect Australia that they were brought back, and they were brought back against the strong opposition of Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt. When they came back they were not provided with a convoy. They came across the Indian Ocean without any assistance from Prime Minister Churchill who adopted the attitude that Australia could be liberated later. Australia was completely expendable, a point always to remember about great and powerful friends when the crunch is really on.
Let us look at the jargon which the Minister is now putting forward, the jargon about the broad maritime and archipelago surrounds of the continent. What does that mean? It means essentially - this is Labor Party policy and the Liberal Party has now come to accept it - that the rightful place for Australian forces is not in Malaysia or Singapore maintaining some 19th century garrison but here for the protection of the Australian mainland and to use only the Australian mainland as a spring board for any operations to our north in Australia’s national interest. But not only Labor but the Liberal Party, Malaysia and Singapore have moved away from this old 19th century garrison mentality. Let us look at this matter from the point of view of the Asians. There is the great slogan - this little myth - of: ‘It is better to fight them there than here’. There is no question who ‘they’ is or where there’ is. We should put ourselves in the position of the Asian countries. How comfortable would we feel to know that other countries were quite prepared to make a battleground of our country? This is why the countries of South East Asia have rebelled against this concept of ‘better to fight them there than here’. It has led to the concept of neutralisation. They do not want to be designated as a battleground.
I am glad that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in his disastrous trip through South East Asia learnt at least one lesson - the concept of neutralisation. What it really means is: ‘Big powers keep out’. 1 have referred before to the Korean proverb - it is also a proverb that is part of the culture of every country in South East Asia - that when whales fight the shrimp get crushed. The countries of South East Asia are sick and tired of being crushed and being thrown around by the big whales. They want to get the big whales out. The Prime Minister during, his visit abroad learned a number of things and he had to learn them the hard way. First of all he learned the correctness of the very thing on which I was pilloried by the Minister for Defence and by the Government, that Malaysia regards the five power defence arrangements as temporary and transitional. I will say again, because the Prime Minister of Singapore said it last night - I was attacked for saying it earlier this year - that they would not be overly concerned if Australian forces were withdrawn.
The Labor Party has made it a point to ensure that the countries of South East Asia understand its policy. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and I have been through South East Asia and have gone into this matter in detail with the Malaysian, the Singaporean and the Indonesian governments. They know it and they accept it. I suppose their great difficulty is that they never know what this Government’s point of view is. They take the point of view of the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), who had no concept of relations with South East Asia. He referred to a sovereign country, Malaysia, as Malaya and there were a whole series of statements that destroyed Australia’s standing in South East Asia. It is a great pity that this Government does not pay a bit more attention to the role of diplomacy and the understanding of the peoples of the Asian region because we are a partner involved in the region. Today was the Indonesian national day. This Government deliberately slighted the Indonesian Government. There was not one Minister at the reception to celebrate that national day. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) or, if he could not make it to present the toast to the President of Indonesia, another Minister should have been there. There was not one Minister there and the toast was offered by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Sir Keith Waller. He is a grand man; but certainly in terms of diplomatic protocol this sort of function required the presence of a Minister. It was the national day of our largest and nearest neighbour and a Minister was not even prepared to attend the function. We on this side of the house considered it important and for that reason the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was present. I accepted an invitation and was only too honoured to be present. This shows the abysmal ignorance of members of this Government. They do not understand the forms or the substance of relations with the countries of South East Asia. Their whole concept of foreign policy has been one of military intervention. The countries of South East Asia are no longer prepared to take it, and I am glad that they are not. This Government has learned of the utter bankruptcy of its foreign policy and the utter bankruptcy of its defence policy.
– It is always a distinct pleasure to follow the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) in a debate such as this, but before I begin my speech proper I want to say how sorrowful 1 am that the forecast I made yesterday that the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) would be back in the clan and engaging in debates on foreign affairs and defence has obviously been proved wrong. The standard of debate so far has not attained the high quality that they usually put forward or, in my opinion, the honesty of purpose in the statements which they make on the Labor Party’s true policy.
One of the other great pleasures in following the honourable member for St George in a debate is to know that he is present in the Parliament, because, even if this country must suffer, at least our foreign relations have some chance of being maintained when he is here. He said in his speech that he and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) had covered the South East Asian capitals. I can imagine it. For those who are not in the Parliament and who perhaps are considering a scene of the aesthetic diplomat in a black striped suit with a pale, ethereal look on his face leaping from conference to conference, I point out that that is hardly the scene as I see it. I see a gentleman who is overseas trying to persuade those with whom we wish to be friends that what they read in the Australian newspapers, which are purveyed overseas - that the Labor Party in Victoria has supported the National Liberation Front and that various leading members of the Labor Party see nothing wrong in the North Vietnamese moving into South Vietnam - is not true. The honourable member says, in effect: ‘I, Sir, represent the Australian Labor Party. These men are just outsiders’. (Quorum formed.) I am grateful to the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) for calling in his colleagues at this time. May I finish what I was saying with respect to the honourable member for St George by referring him to the Malaysian newspaper ‘Utusan Melayu’, particularly an editorial of 13th February 1970. The honourable member had again made a statement that Australian troops were not wanted in Malaysia, and that editorial reveals what the Malaysians said in reply. The honourable member has said that the governments of Malaysia and Singapore do not want our troops and that a statement has been made that, if the Labor Party wishes to withdraw our troops, those countries will not plead with Australia to leave them there or complain about their withdrawal. Naturally. Would anyone expect any nation which has pride and which was let down by one of its allies to crawl to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and to the honourable member for St George, or to plead with such people who have shown such an outlook on defence and foreign affairs? Not darned likely - and I congratulate those nations on their attitude.
Wilh respect to what has been said today during the defence debate I refer to an article published in Things I Hear’ on
Thursday, 3rd August last. I read it only from the point of view of humour, but it is fairly typical. This is what it said:
Mr Whitlam, obsessed with Foreign Affairs (a field in which Australia has no chance of playing an effective role) with Deputy Prime Minister in Mr Bernard-
That is the opinion of the author. I think he is wrong about Mr Bernard. Bernard was the magician. So actually I am not sure that he is wrong. It goes on:
Any honourable member who listened to the 50-minute speech by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and could make sense of it, I think, deserves a prize. For my part, I wrote on my pad about 4 lines, and at the end of them I added in large print: ‘Not worth noting; completed here’. He talked about an inflated army and about the money wasted on the Navy. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), who followed him, also talked about expenditure on the Navy and how Labor would buy so many ships - but he never defined what they would be. No doubt it will be a mixed bag of so many rowboats, so many motor boats, and so many boats for members of the Labor Party at Surfers Paradise to use to tow their surf boards. But has the honourable member any idea at all of what defence means? The suggestion he made is that, since at this time 3 ships are intended to be constructed, this means that all you get is 3. Surely he must know that you must start with one, then you get 2, then 3. When he talks about a viable force, does he expect that the number we will require will all be built at the one time? Whenever I listen to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition speak on defence I get the impression that he goes home at night to sleep but has a nightmare, comes into the House next morning and adds something to the policy - but he has not thought it out.
Consider one of his latest statements, which was again a blandishment to our allies, namely, that the Labor Party will occasionally exercise troops in overseas areas. I do not know whether the left wing would approve of that. But he does not say whether it will be a section of 7, a platoon of 20 or a company of 40. Does he not realise that when you are committed to an action overseas not only do you have troops in the field but they must be conditioned, you must have support facilities, you must have logistic facilities and the Navy must support their lines of communication? Or does he think that if he puts a troop of boy scouts there they can be taken as being equipped as soldiers?
With respect to national service and the Labor Party’s policy of reducing the Army to 29,000 - the Deputy Leader of the Opposition calls an army of 40,000 men an inflated army - he should realise that with an army of 40,000 men you could put one task force with supporting troops in the field. It is forgotten now that the troops we had in Vietnam were to a large extent maintained by the United States. In the event of Australia being involed in any hostility in the future, this would not necessarily be so immediately. For every front line soldier we needed 8 men behind. When you consider that an army of 29,000 would include the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps - which, I am sure, would bear the major burden under a Labor government - you realise that the number in that Corps has to come out. When you take into account also the support facilities, logistics and other areas which do not represent front line fighting troops, you reduce it to an effective fighting army of about 5,000 or 6,000 men. If honourable members opposite were to think these things out and honestly told the people of Australia that this is what they envisaged in respect of Australia’s defence, I think they would at least get a medal for honesty. They certainly would not get one for anything else.
We have heard recently the comments from General Daly. It is interesting to note that honourable members opposite will quote the remarks of a very gallant and distinguished gentleman, whom I will not name, whose rank in the Army after serving in a most distinguished arena was that of Captain. He was a very young gentleman when he served and a most distinguished one. But when a former Chief of the General Staff, a man who was responsible for the training, the maintenance and the planning of the Army, speaks out to the people of Australia and says that what the Labor Party means is that Australia would literally have to disband 5 bat talions - most of the effective force in the Army - very few, if any, members of the Labor Party will quote him. Why?
We heard the honourable member for St George talk tonight about a former Minister for the Army who, he claims, in 1964 rejected the concept of national service. He did reject national service at that stage because the Returned Services League and other organisations were propounding universal national service - not selective national service but across the board national service throughout Australia. At that stage national service was rejected on the advice of Army advisers on the basis that the old 3-month training concept was unworkable and did not produce the required results. This is still the opinion of the Army. It is the opinion of the Army that Australia needs an army of 40,000 or more. I do not think there is any absolute limit or that we can say we need 40,000, 40,001 or whatever figure it may be. The men have to be trained. They have to be conditioned to ensure that if we are faced with a hostile force or there is an action that we have to go into we will not go through what we did when Singapore fell, when men were put into uniform and shot into the front line without any training or conditioning and without any support. To do this would be irresponsibility in defence.
Members of the Opposition who talk about the condition of the Army and other Services in 1941 should read the Hansard debates of 1937, 1938 and 1939 in regard to what it was suggested should have been done in respect of the defence of Papua New Guinea. They should read what Mr Ward, Mr Dedman and others said at that time. Papua New Guinea could go to hell so far as they were concerned. Honourable members opposite talk about Australia’s defence unpreparedness in 1941. Those who said in 1936, 1937 and 1938 that there was a danger to this country were mocked time and again, lt is all very well for the honourable member for St George with the dancing feet to say at this stage that there is no threat to this country. Statements such as this have been found to be wrong so often. This is the time when the nation must prepare its defence. It must build up its defence capabilities and obtain a balanced defence which will be not only protection for our own country but also encouragement for those other nations with whom we wish to live in friendship to play their part. It will show them that we are fair dinkum.
The honourable member for St George was right in respect of one point, and that is in regard to the Vietnam war which did, because of the first priorities which the Army had to have, create a situation in which the other Services to a certain extent in respect of capital items were allowed to run down. But the honourable member did not say, and in my opinion he is not game to say, what the present situation would have been in Indonesia if the United States, Australia and the other forces had not gone into Vietnam. Would the situation that we now have with a noncommunist government in that country be operative? What would have been the situation in Malaysia-Singapore? Even if we played only a small role, at least we played a role, and this area has been able to remain free. In this way the South Vietnamese have been given a chance to plan their own destiny and to stand against their enemy.
But even now, as I said earlier, the honourable member for Lalor and the Victorian branch of the Labor Party support the National Liberation Front and the procommunist forces. If Australia did withdraw to her own shores and if she did do a springboard, which the honourable member suggested she should - I do not think he knows what he is talking about - who could blame the Malaysians, the Singaporeans and others, who have had their countries occupied and who feel rightly that they have been let down once before, seeking an accord with those who may well be our enemies? I am sure that if this happened the Labor Party, whether it were in office or not, would be well in the forefront in blaming them.
I conclude my remarks by saying that so far as I am concerned any defence debate is valuable, but defence is of no value unless we ensure that our lines of communications and our bases are safe. I think it is time for Australia to determine how safe we would be in this country if we were involved in a war. To illustrate my point, when we fought the communist enemy in Korea and when we fought the communist enemy in Malaysia and Vietnam the troops were let down because we were unable to get equipment to them. Defence is not just a matter of buying equipment and enlisting soldiers; it is a matter of ensuring that the soldiers are supported from behind.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– One does not need to turn back to the Hansard debates of 1937 to look into this matter of defence. One has only to listen to the remarks of the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). I do not suppose anybody lives more effectively in the past than does the honourable gentleman. He sneers at my colleague the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison). It eats deep into the heart of members of the Liberal and Country Parties that someone who has had a long and dintinguished career in the Diplomatic Service has chosen to serve in the Labor Party. Take the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), who is sitting at the table. His greatest contribution to politics is to sneer at everybody else. I know that he can sneer at people who have served this country as has the honourable member for St George. The point about this whether one agrees or disagrees is that they served their country in reasonably senior positions in many parts of the world. I do not believe that there is anything to be gained for this Parliament by constant sneering at people for what they have done in the past. The argument tonight is what we are doing now and how we should consider the question of defence.
The honourable member for La Trobe consistently and constantly pours scorn on people on this side of the House. The honourable member has deep convictions about all things that have been raised in this discussion. I believe, as 1 said earlier, that he lives in the past. I will not scorn his remarks on that account. I believe that there is a big difference - and the honourable member said so too - in the general concept of defence as we on this side see it and as honourable members opposite choose to speak about it. I presume they see it that way. There is a clear-cut division between us.
– Thank God.
– That is right, you can thank God and the people of Australia will be able to thank God and they will be able to thank the Treasury when we start to make some practical application of the finances of Australia towards this question. This Government is facing a new world with old shibboleths. Government supporters talk about expansion of military defence and all the rest of it at a time when the rest of the world is slowing down the aggressive tendencies between nations. The honourable member for La Trobe talked about our potential enemies. Who are they? Is he referring to China? Is there any evidence anywhere that China has that kind of an ambition? One cannot see it anywhere. A few months ago I attended a conference in Melbourne conducted by the Australian Institute of International Affairs. One of the American experts at the conference said that he did not believe - that nobody believed - that the People’s Republic of China could even successfully launch an assault upon Taiwan. To whom was the honourable member for La Trobe referring? Was it the people of the Khmer Republic?
– Monaco, that is right. All I ask is that in a matter which concerns some SI, 300m per annum. 2 or 3 times the total cost of the Victorian railway system or one and a half times the cost of the Snowy mountains scheme, we should apply rational common sense and an Australian approach. None of us is going to say that we have absolute answers. I do not. But I believe that in the world military tensions are diminishing. Our closest foreign neighbour has about 300,000 men under arms. In general its military and naval capacity is almost nil. Is that a threat? Does anybody suggest that Indonesia poses a threat? Nobody on this side of the House and probably nobody in this country would say that we should wipe our defence capability on that account. However, I am certain that you have to look at it in a totally different way from that of honourable members opposite.
The question of sea defence has been raised. My colleague the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) questioned the value of our destroyers, as did the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). None of us knows the answers. I would like to see Australia embarking on an ambitious project in a manufacturing sense. Is this the answer to the deep scientific question of how to find submarines in 6 million square miles of sea? I believe that the greatest scientific effort which could be mustered in this country should be directed to that question. If a threat can come only by sea - and I think that is the case - it can be a viable threat only if it is by submarine, because I presume that we can locate surface vessels thousands of miles away. We have to find a system of locating submarines on the surface or under water. Nobody has yet found it but it should not be beyond the wit of men who have developed radar and other such equipment. In my view, the hundreds of millions of dollars that may well be spent on destroyers would better be spent on the development of scientific techniques to locate submarines under wat,-r because I believe that a submarine located under water is a submarine potentially destroyed. 1 turn now to the concept of the Government announced by the Minister for Defence. He used the terminology that Australia does not now need the full air warfare capability necessary for a major combat burden. I agree with him. But this also means that in the other Services we do not need a full commitment of a major combat burden. In this regard we question national service as a military necessity. We on this side of the House - and, I believe, the great majority of Australians also - question national service in a moral sense. I believe that the present national service system is a piece of mindless militarism. It is something that has flowed down through the last 20 or 30 years, ad hoc sometimes, here and there, developed by Vietnam and sponsored and maintained by the terror of the preference votes of the Democratic Labor Party. I believe that it is economically wasteful. I understand that national service costs about $90m a year and in my view it is militarily unnecessary.
At this time of night in a debate such as this one cannot develop an argument at great length but I ask: Why 9 battalions? Suddenly we are told that we need 40,000 men. Why 40,000 men? Is it something out of the past related to the 40,000 horsemen, or what is it? At the height of the Korean conflict we had 27,000 men in the Australian Army. Why do we now need 9 battalions? I challenge the way in which they are trained. I believe that the whole concept is wrong. J believe that Australian soldiers are probably the world’s best men on the ground - in the jungle. I have no complaint about the effectiveness of their training on the ground but I cannot be convinced that the 9 battalions of young men who are standing around, sitting around, painting the stones around the officers’ mess, peeling potatoes for lunch or whatever else they are doing are gainfully employed, usefully employed or necessary in a military sense.
I believe that national service disrupts the whole system of national employment. It takes over highly skilled professional manpower, absorbs it and totally strangles it. It takes up space. Has any honourable member driven past the barracks at Townsville and had a good look at the establishment? What on earth do we want that establishment there for? There is no possible threat in the foreseeable future. Surely that is what my friend the Minister for Defence means when he says that we do not need this combat capability. Therefore those young men are waiting for something that can never come during their service. They are in for 18 months. They make extraordinary demands on materials and administration. I believe that national service ruins the Citizen Military Forces and divides the community. My friends opposite say that its abandonment would min the Army. The Army is only a part of the armed Services.
I have some doubts about the arithmetic. Honourable members opposite say that we cannot get volunteers. At present about 80,000 young men are serving as regulars, of whom on my arithmetic, based on the reports, 68,000 are volunteers. About 12,000 of them are national servicemen. We were asked to comment upon the statements of General Daly. He is now retired so that he can be quoted and we can try to refute his arguments. He had long and distinguished service. He said that to change national service would disrupt the system. He said that if we abandoned it and the 12,000 national servicemen went out of the Services we would have to dispense with 4,000 officers and non-commissioned officers. So that for every 3 national servicemen apparently we have to have one officer or non-commissioned officer.
The Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) implied that if we took that action the officers and NCOs would have nothing to train on. What an incredibly ruthless way to treat young Australians. We want 12,000 young men to train with - to fill the gaps so that others can become corporals, sergeants, colonels and generals. I think it is an incredibly ruthless and insensitive approach. We are using the young men of Australia as training and position-sop fodder. 1 do not believe it is necessary. I believe that the question goes back fundamentally to the citizen forces. 1 believe that we have abandoned the citizen forces and turned them into a Cinderella army. We have destroyed their capacity to be trained properly and we have destroyed the will of the young men who would join those forces.
I suppose I am saying the same thing as my friend the honourable member for La Trobe. We have always had citizen forces on the books. Back in 1938 or thereabouts the number of volunteers in the citizen forces was raised to about 80,000. I do not have the figures at hand.
– It was 87,000
– It was 87,000 volunteers. Admittedly there was the pressure of the threat of war, and all the rest of it.
– And unemployed.
– No, we did not join the citizen forces because we were unemployed. I think they paid us 4 bob a day, 7 days of the year at that stage. The basis of national defence is national unity and national morale. They are the key to it all. It will not matter what sort of numbers you have if you do not have unity and high morale. Perhaps ‘ the citizen forces should be separated from the regular forces, at least in the Army. My belief would be - and it has not always been my belief - that the integration of these forces means that the citizen force loses its identity and it becomes in effect a Cinderella force. There ought to be a Citizen Military Force with its own command.
What are the essentials of citizen service? What can the amateurs do? The amateurs can do almost anything. One has only to study what the National Air Guard of the United States does. Its members fly Phantoms and other supersonic jets. I have seen them doing it. I have visited their bases and have talked to them. 1 think that we completely underrate the technical and other skills that lie dormant in the community and are not called upon in any way. If we created an efficient mechanised citizen force with a sense of purpose I have no doubt that we would have no difficulty in filling its ranks.
First of all, it needs good equipment. It has to have first class equipment. If a person is to give up his weekends for 7 days or 21 days a year to train, there is nothing so exasperating, frustrating and disheartening as to take over equipment and find that it will not work or that there is not enough of it. Perhaps an even more important factor is training. This is what those 4,000 men could do. They could be training young men who are much more capable in all the areas of ordinary human endeavour than our generation was. They live in a world of mechanics, machines and electronics. They can handle anything. I know they can. However, we have not yet found a way of getting them into the Services. I believe that that possibility has been destroyed over the last 7 or 8 years, particularly by national service. We have to do something about the public attitude, their employment and so on. What I have said is feasible.
Let us assume that in a city such as Canberra a large citizen force is based. We might, as the Swiss do, at an air base have half a dozen first class aircraft available for training purposes. I understand that this is the way the Swiss do it: When a person has free time he reports to the base and does his flying. In Switzerland the man is uphill. He cannot fly very far before he has to turn round and fly back. The Air National Guard does much the same as the Swiss. Let us assume that in Australia we had some basic armoured formation of perhaps 20 or 30 tanks, which was a local unit. Here, in this community, are the backdrop services - the workshops. We do not need to create new ones. Here in this community are dozens of young men who drive heavy equipment. I simply throw these ideas into the ring.
I believe that national service is on its way out. It inevitably must go whether the Government is running the show and ruining it or we are running it. I believe we must start to look at the question of defence in a totally different way. Before I resume my seat there is one matter I wish to mention, although it is not totally relevant to what I have been saying. I refer to the re-equipment of our Australian forces with armour. 1 think it is wrong to go traipsing around the world looking for somebody else’s armour which will not fit Australian conditions. Australia has one of the world’s largest automotive industries. Our defence services should plan and design armour and it should be given to our automotive industry to develop. This could be done in such a way that use is made of Australian transport services. We have thousands upon thousands of heavy vehicles which could carry the armour around. There are many ways in which the Australian Services and our civilian capacity could be integrated.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The first duty of a government is to ensure the effective defence of its country against external attacks. This is a duty which many supporters of the Australian Labor Party all too often forget, yet 1 am sure they would be the first to be viciously critical of defence preparations if danger ever threatened. Their attitude is best summed up by the old doggerel: ‘It’s Tommy this and Tommy that, and chuck him out, the brute; but it’s “Thank you, Mr Atkins” when the guns begin to shoot’. It is very easy for shortsighted or subversive people to sneer at the deeds of defence preparation. It is the duty of the Government - of any government - to ignore such people and to provide the defence forces necessary for the freedom and independence of our country. This, the Government is determined to do. On the evidence we have heard tonight, it seems that the alternative government is not.
One point that is all too frequently overlooked is the time scale in the provision of equipment of the kind we are discussing tonight. Much of the equipment will not be available until the 1980s and it will remain in service until the year 2000. We must try to picture what our strategic situation will be like in the 1980s. It is fatally easy to take a short range view, to say that there is no immediate threat and deduce, therefore, that we should give low priority to defence. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) was a perfect example of such an attitude. There could be no wilder folly. Who, in 1931, would have predicted that in 10 years we would be locked in a desperate war with Germany, Italy and Japan? Ten years is the sort of time scale for the delivery of the major equipment we are talking about tonight. We must look at the need in broad strategic terms, not in terms of short range immediate needs. Two dominant strategic principles must apply to a country situated as ls Australia. The first is to endeavour to keep any threat far from our shores. The second is to arrange, and deserve, the support of powerful allies. Both these principles the Labor Party seeks to destroy.
Our commitments on the mainland of Asia are designed to assist the stability of that turbulent region. This is both in our long term interests and in the interests of the countries concerned. While they are welcome in those countries and while they are achieving their purpose, as they certainly are, our forces should remain. The honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) has claimed that South East Asian countries are seeking neutralism. I should like to quote from an editorial in yesterday’s ‘Singapore Straits Times’. Commenting on the Australian Labor Party it said:
Clearly the strategic lessons of the Second World War have not been assimilated and neither does Mr Barnard appear to have looked into the reason for NATO’s forward defence posture in Europe. Nor does Australia have the naval or air strength to provide striking forces of a size sufficient for the purpose Mr Barnard has in mind. A Labor Government is hardly likely to supply them, but Australia does have the ability to reinforce its present deployment - a key feature of the Commonwealth agreement which Malaysia and Singapore welcome. Mr Barnard is propagating an unsound doctrine founded on false assumptions.
– Who wrote that for you?
– That, for the benefit of the honourable member for Sturt, is from the ‘Singapore Straits Times’ of yesterday.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the linchpin of the Liberal Party’s policy is speaking and non-one is present to hear him.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I draw your attention to the state of the House.
-Order! The honourable member will not draw my attention to anything. He will not interrupt another honourable member and he will not make speeches. If he does so again I will have to warn him.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House. (Quorum formed)
– The Opposition would scuttle and run and retreat into isolationism. The extraordinary statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) that Australia’s strategic frontier is her coastline I have previously described as having the warm approval of only the late King Ethelred the Unready. 1 cannot believe that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition believes that sort of nonsense he is forced to put forward. It is forced on him by the dominant left wing of his Party which decides what defence policy he is to follow. The same forces are seeking to destroy the ANZUS Treaty by removing its military features. Again I cannot believe that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition supports such wilful sabotage. Finally, of course, those who control Labor defence policy - not the members of the Parliamentary Labor Party, of course - would destroy the ability of the Army to do anything effective by abolishing national service. As has been pointed out repeatedly - most recently by the former Chief of the General Staff - this would reduce the Army to 5 battalions or less and would destroy its effectiveness. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and other honourable members opposite were prepared to say that they wanted to retain a 9 battalion army, that we should make every effort to make it an all-volunteer army, but until the necessary volunteers were available we should have to retain national service, I would respect them for it and I would agree with them for that is exactly Government policy.
Until the effects of the Woodward Committee and the Jess Committee have resulted in sufficient volunteers, this Government - any responsible government - would be failing in its duty if it did not use national service to keep our Army up to the minimum strength we believe to be necessary.
I would like to turn now to the equipment proposals outlined in the statement of the Minister for Defence. Firstly, 1 agree entirely with the priority given to the Navy. It is essential in our strategic situation that our Navy should be built up. There are many factors that make for this. One often mentioned is the presence of the Russians in the Indian Ocean. I am prepared to accept that the present purpose of the Russian forces in the Indian Ocean is purely defensive. Russia is concerned about the strategic power of the American ballistic missile submarines, and Russia’s operations in the Arabian Sea seem to be directed almost entirely at defensive measures. But if Russian forces are established in the Indian Ocean it is inevitable that they will be used to stir up trouble round the Indian Ocean littoral. I do not know whether it is so, but I would suggest that it might be so that with the increasing range of American ballistic missiles - Polaris, Poseidon, ULMS - the Indian Ocean may be becoming less strategically important to the Americans, and it might be possible for us to bring pressure on the Americans, or advise them or encourage them to reach an agreement with the Russians whereby the Americans would withdraw their ballistic missiles submarines from the Indian Ocean and the Russians would withdraw their surface ships. I do not know whether this would be possible for the Americans, but if it were it would be an agreement which would clearly be policeable and it would be greatly to the advantage of the States on the Indian Ocean littoral.
But whether the Russians withdraw from the Indian Ocean or not, there are 2 great factors that demand an increase in our naval strength. The first is the rapid rundown in the effective strength of the American Navy. The American Navy is becoming increasingly obsolete and it is not being replaced at the rate at which it is wearing out. The second factor, of course, is the withdrawal of the British Navy effectively in the Indian Ocean. For these reasons we must increase the strength of our Navy as increased weight falls on it. I welcome the decision to go ahead with the light destroyer programme. The House will probably recall that I voiced some doubts about this programme some months ago. I was concerned whether this was the most effective way in which to spend our defence resources. I am now satisfied that sufficient studies have been made to make it quite clear that this is the most cost-effective ship we could have, and I welcome it. I would suggest rather shyly that the ‘L* in ‘DDL’ should be changed to stand for ‘large’ instead of ‘light’.
The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), whom I must congratulate on his diligent study of Jane’s ‘Fighting Ships’, perhaps does not appreciate the many complex factors that go into deciding what type of ships we should provide. Up to a point 1 must agree with some of the Opposition speakers but I do not believe that we can provide enough of this type of ship to meet our needs for destroyers. We. may have to look at a subsidiary programme of other smaller, simpler destroyers in the future. What type they will be, 1 do not know. They may be something like the Vosper-type frigate; they may be something like the American patrol frigate; they may even be of a hovercraft type ship of which the American Navy recently has asked for approval to build two 2,000-ton experimental types. One thing is quite clear, and that is that our Navy needs numbers of destroyers and it needs them as quickly as possible.
In relation to the air programme, I welcome the decision to produce the Nomad. This will keep a viable Australian aircraft industry in existence, and this is very important to the morale of the people working in the aircraft industry. It is not sufficient merely to have off-shore procurement; the industry must feel that it is creating something of its own, and I think the Nomad is vitally important in this role.
The Minister mentioned in his statement a number of future decisions which will have to be made, and these are all of great importance. They will have to be made over the next few years progressively as our strategic situation becomes clearer and our present equipment programmes evolve. We must make decisions on the future of our naval air power. We must do something about our long range maritime patrol aircraft. As the Minister says, we have to keep an air defence capability in being. Also the Army clearly needs improved air defence. It must have new tanks and new artillery. These are all decisions that can be made progressively through the defence machinery. But what we are discussing tonight is the programme of procurement for only one year. The rolling programme will roll on like the Mississippi, and further equipment procurements will be announced in future years to fit our strategic needs. Tt will not be cheap and it will not be easy, but the Government has a right and a duty to make these hard decisions.
– 1 was interested in the closing remarks of the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) who said that the programme will roll on and it will be a little like the Mississippi. Probably the people of our generation or the people of an older generation than ours could make some happy and picturesque analogies about that. But the fact of the matter is that we have before us a statement on defence. It is very much a shopping list of what the Government proposes that Australia ought to do in the future. It is very difficult when one is in opposition to make judgments in matters of this kind. We have to do our best on the information that comes to us.
This Government came into office in 1949. It came into office fairly soon after World War II when there was in the Australian community a great number of people who but recently had served in that war. We saw, when Australia was involved by common consent on both sides of the Parliament in a war in Korea, supporting the United Nations, that there was a great number of trained personnel in the Australian community who were able to rally to the colours. When it went out of office in 1949 the Australian Labor Party left the defence forces of Australia in good repair. The ‘Melbourne’ and the ‘Sydney’ were the results of orders placed when a previous member for Kennedy, Mr Bill Riordan, who is still alive and in good spirits, was Minister for the Navy. In other ways the defence forces of this country were in good repair. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then: I am not altogether sure that it is as muddy as the Mississippi that the previous speaker talked about
But we are now in 1972 and we are looking to the future. I think it is fair to say, without going blow by blow through all of the details of the equipment that the Government provides for our armed forces, that there are some fundamental things that ought to be said about the Labor Party’s attitude towards the future of the Australian armed forces. It is one thing to talk about this plane or another plane or this type of ship or another type of ship. These are decisions that a government makes as time goes by. For my part, I think that we should be watching very carefully what the British Government is doing in terms of its throughdeck cruisers, the light aircraft carriers, because it seems to me that with our large coastline the Fleet Air Arm is something that we should preserve. One could debate the type of destroyer, the size of the destroyer, the weapons that it will carry; one could debate what type of tank we should acquire to replace the Centurion; and one could debate all of the other equipment items involved. But what really matters is the number of trained personnel we have in our armed services.
One of the great areas of controversy is whether national service training or conscription is needed to keep up the numbers in our armed forces or whether we could do with a rather smaller and professionally trained army. The Australian Labor Party in the days of the Chifley Government created the Australian Regular Army. I want to express on behalf of the Labor Party great concern about the trends that exist in the Army today. I have coming into my office young men who have been called up for national service and who have skills of some kind. They are tradesmen. They have ambitions of getting into the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers or some other skilled section of the Army. But they find - and I suppose this is fair enough from the Army point of view - that the road is rather harder for them than it was in the days when we were involved in Vietnam. When this country was involved in Vietnam the national service component of the battalions that served there was of the order of 42 per cent to 45 per cent or thereabouts. Perhaps the percentage was a little greater. Of course, because human lives - Australian lives - were at stake it was important that every national serviceman should be placed in those battalions in the most advantageous position so that all of their skills and contributions would be taken advantage of. But we are in a different situation today. Today young national servicemen are going into the Army for 18 months only. It follows that the Army would prefer to place in its skilled positions young men who have enlisted for a term in the Regular Army in preference to young men who go in for 9 months training and then 9 months service. It is common sense that this should be so. The result is that we get an increasing frustration amongst young men who are undertaking national service.
The other spin-off effect of all of this, of course, has been the great decline in the prestige of the Citizen Military Forces. I am not quite old enough to remember what the situation was at the start of the Second World War but I can remember listening to a radio set when Chamberlain came back from Bad Godesberg, and my father said that there was going to be a war. It turned out that he was a fairly good prophet. If we look at the number of people who were involved in the CMF just before the Second World War and the number of young men who saw the CMF as an avenue of service to their country after the war, we realise that the numbers were much more respectable than is the case today. I think one of the great challenges held out to all of us on both sides of the Parliament, whoever might be governing after the next election, is to restore the CMF to that position which it previously occupied in the defence of Australia.
I know .that professional servicemen are a bit opposed to the development of the CMF. They want to see every available dollar put into the Permanent Army. I understand their point of view. But notwithstanding the increased degree of training of a professional soldier today and in the future it is one of the facts of life that if Australia is faced at some time in the future with a threat to its security we will need to use the services of the part-time soldier, the voluntary soldier, the man who serves in the CMF. One of the great disservices that national service has done is that it has destroyed the prestige of the CMF.
It was once a great privilege to serve in the CMF. Men of various callings, of all political persuasions, of various degrees of skill and otherwise, felt that they were performing some service to their country in training to serve in the profession of arms. But in more recent times under the national service scheme a large number of people have gone into the CMF to avoid the possibility of being balloted into national service. I am not blaming them. It is one of the options available to them under the legislation of the present Government. We all realise that the war in Vietnam was not a popular war in the sense that the whole Australian community was committed to it. But it had the effect that a lot of people who were officers and who were serving members of the CMF felt that instead of being associated with an elite corps inside the Army they were associated with an organisation in which a high proportion of people who joined the CMF were wanting to evade the responsibilities of national service. I think it is a great challenge in the future to build again on the CMF. This is going to mean that we will have to devote a higher proportion of finance to this corps. We are going to have to make sure that better equipment and instructors are available.
I know that the same thing applies to cadet battalions. I refer here to the Army because the Air Force and the Navy do not have the recruitment problem that the Army has had. It is one of the facts of life for those of us who have tried to have cadet corps established in schools in our electorate at their request, that it is not easy to get a cadet corps off the ground. There has been little money available. We are told by the people inside the armed forces that the best people are not made available to train cadet battalions. It is regarded as a dead end job. This is very sad because, notwithstanding the fact that only a small proportion of young men who serve in the cadets at school actually go into the Permanent Army, I am sure that it has great value for these young people. Many of the young men who go to Duntroon started their association with the Army in the cadet corps at the public schools, state high schools and elsewhere. I would commend to the Minister that more money ought to be spent in these areas. I know that what I am suggesting is not popular with the establishment in the armed forces but I think there is great value i.i the CMF and the cadet corps.
The same thing applies - and I go along with my colleague and friend the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) in some of these areas - to the Citizen Air Force. If there is an area of the armed forces which needs training over a long period of time, it is surely the Citizen Air Force. Anyone who has any contact with the Air Force will admire the skill and the expertise with which these men operate the aircraft and the knowledge that they bring to their calling. But I have always felt it rather sad that the City of Brisbane Squadron - 23 Squadron - for example, has now been grounded because it has no planes to fly. This has happened at a time when we have given Sabre jets away to our neighbours in Malaysia and Indonesia. I am not criticising the fact that we have given these planes away to our neighbours. Surely it is basic to our security in this part of the world that we should develop good relations with our neighbours and indicate that we are interested in training their armed forces. One would hope that on the basis of cooperating with them in a modest way we might, under a future Labor government or whatever government we have, get to the situation where we can effect economies of scale in equipping air forces in our whole region. But surely we should get back to a Citizen Air Force which actually flies and which does not only perform ground crew duties.
When one looks at the question of defence one can get very emotionally involved at Russia’s presence in the Indian Ocean and with what we do in South East Asia. I think that when we look at the facts of life as they apply we realise that we can do very little about the Russian presence in the Indian Ocean because the Russians aspire, as the British did in their day and as other nations did in .their day, to be a world maritime power. The freedom of the high seas is a basic principle that we do not dispute. Indeed, as a major trading nation it is something that we support. So we have to live with a Russian presence in the Indian Ocean. In doing this I do not think that we ought to underestimate or overestimate the threat. I would like to see Australian naval vessels playing a more flexible role in our region. We live in the ocean hemisphere of the world. We have a vast coastline and our neighbours to the north, in the Pacific, on the east coast of Africa and on the western shore of the Indian Ocean are all within the range over which the Australian Navy should operate. Our Air Force should be seen in the skies in our region. I am not saying this in the sense of a threat. One thinks about strategic weapons and the Fill aircraft. I can never quite work out why, given the fact that this is supposed to be a strategic weapon, it should be stationed at Amberley instead of at a place where it would fill a strategic role.
But given all of these things it is important that Australia maintain its armed forces and that we re-equip them. We have paid a price for our involvement in Vietnam and we do need to replace a great deal of our equipment. We need replacements for the Centurion tanks and for long range reconnaissance aircraft. The Minister has placed before us the Government’s programme. It sounds a very impressive programme when we look at it in terms of dollars and what is going to be spent. But the greatest criticism I would make about this Government is that it has always sought to gain political advantage out of defence. It has never sought a bipartisan approach or to maximise support for the Australian armed forces. We on this side of the Parliament - members of the Labor Party - are very conscious that in the years ahead, given the Nixon doctrine, Australia has to be prepared to defend itself and to play a constructive role in our part of the world, in conjunction with our neighbours. I think our principal difference with the Government is that we say that we would cooperate with our neighbours in this part of the world in training and in the ordering of equipment and the like where we can effect economies of scale. We do not believe in a garrison battalion mentality. We do not believe in the sterile idea that one Australian battalion stationed in Singapore can make all the difference between Malaysia and Singapore going over to communism or to some other ideology which is not acceptable to us.
While recognising that the Minister has placed before us the ideas of his Government, we would like nobody in this country to think that a Labor government in office next year or this year, however soon that date might be, would neglect the defence of Australia. It is a fundamental responsibility of any Australian Government to provide for the protection of this country and no Party in this Parliament is more conscious of that fact than the Australian Labor Party is.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hughes) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24 May (vide page 3014), on motion by Mr Chipp:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I move:
This matter was touched on in the statement on education that was made by myself following the statement on education of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), which omitted entirely reference to pre-school education, except in a very minor way. The Minister has taken the trouble to distribute to us the report of Dr W. C. Radford. Therefore I am emboldened to quote to the Minister what Dr Radford had to say recently about a major purpose in education. Referring :o pre-school facilities he made this comment:
It is here that the beginnings of avoidable inequalities between persons lie. We must in sober earnest be aware that there are no ways that we yet know to ensure that all children enter this world equal in physical capacity, equal in mental capacity, equal in the opportunities that they will see, and take, to make the most of those capacities. We cannot, whatever we will, guarantee such equality, but we can with the will to action do what we can greatly to reduce the present avoidable inequalities.
One of the most conspicious inequalities in Australian education is in the field of preschool education. The age 0 to 5 years is the age of the most rapid development of the intellect. As I said in a previous debate touching on this matter, the intellect can be stunted by an unfriendly environment - an environment unfriendly to its development. It is quite astonishing that the Liberal Government is so disinterested in pre-school education when it is the middle classes, in the main, from whom the Liberals are drawn and who value preschool education more than any other group. Not long ago the Sydney ‘Bulletin’ published an article ‘The 0 to 5 experience’. Francine Bartlett, a social worker for the Sutherland Shire Council, New South Wales, was quoted as saying:
The people who really need to send their children to kindergartens just can’t afford it.
The article continued:
A survey conducted on pre-school attendance in Melbourne by Dr Marion de Lemos, of the Australian Council of Educational Research, showed that the higher the socio-economic status of the suburb, the more likely a child is to attend a preschool. The survey showed that the children of fathers in professional, higher administrative and managerial positions were far more likely to go to pre-schools than the children of unskilled workers. “The pre-school,’ says Dr De Lemos, ‘clearly does not provide a service for the children of working mothers. . . . The results confirm claims that pre-school facilities are not equitably distributed, and serve mainly to confer advantages on already advantaged middle class children rather than to equalise educational opportunities for children from less privileged backgrounds. Clearly some radical change is needed in the way pre-schools are set up and funded.’
In this city of Canberra where the Government’s advisers - the civil servants - live a greater percentage of children are enrolled for pre-school education than anywhere else. In 1970 as a percentage of the eligible school population the Australian Capital Territory had 52 per cent of children enrolled in pre-school centres. The Australian figure for 1970 was 14.8 per cent. New South Wales had 3.1 per cent, Victoria 28.9 per cent, Queensland 13.2 per cent, South Australia 16.6 per cent, Western Australia 12.8 per cent, Tasmania 12.9 per cent and the Northern Territory 34.6 per cent. Many years ago the Commonwealth Department of Health set up the Lady Gowrie centres. These were established in underprivileged areas. This was the last effort by- the Commonwealth to assist underprivileged children in preschool education. This took place in 1940. The centres were set up as models for the States which were expected to imitate these models. But the States have never had the funds to imitate these models. The result is that the great majority of Australian children are seriously deprived.
The Government avoids this subject. None of the educational experts such as Radford, whose work the Government circulates to every member of Parliament in spheres which suit the Government, would justify a position such as that in New South Wales where in 1970 only 3.1 per cent of eligible children were receiving pre-school education. There is almost a conspiracy on the part of the Minister to act as if this did not matter. As in this measure a degree of financial assistance is given for the training of kindergarten teachers. There is complete silence about the election pledge of the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton. Although the Liberal Party has now disposed of him it won an election under his leadership. During that election campaign he promised the establishment of what the Sydney ‘Bulletin’ calls the ‘Gortongartens’ - the pre-school centres promised by then Prime Minister Gorton. Every member of the Liberal Party was identified with that election pledge. The mere change of leadership does not dispose of it. It has been the subject of a study by Professor Karmel who was chairman of the Committee of Inquiry into Education in South Australia. That Committee’s study into kindergartens leads to this conclusion which is found at pages 245 and 246:
Kindergartens, if widely available and backed by adequate medical and psychological services, can provide opportunities for the early identification and treatment of handicaps of all types at a period in the child’s life when corrective measures are likely to be most effective.
-Order! I have just come into the chair. I have been considering the amendment moved by the honourable member for Fremantle. I believe that the amendment is out of order in the context of this Bill. This Bill simply alters a date from 1972 to 1973. Whilst the amendment may be relevant to the original Bill, I do not think it is relevant to the Bill now before the House. Therefore I rule that the amendment is out of order.
– Is the amendment out of order or is the speech out of order?
-The amendment is out of order. Whilst the honourable member for Fremantle may traverse a certain amount of ground, he cannot open up a debate on the whole scope of the original Bill.
– I would argue therefore that the number of teachers to be trained under this legislation is totally inadequate. In arguing for a greater expansion of the teaching service at the kindergarten level I am trying to point out how important kindergartens are. Professor Karmel went on:
Apart from the more serious handicaps such as severe speech defects which may require specialist treatment, the kindergarten teacher as a skilled observer of children is able to detect areas in which individual children may need special help. She may provide opportunities within the kindergarten and co-operate with parents in an attempt to provide suitable conditions for each child to achieve a level of functioning regarded as normal for his age in social, emotional and cognitive spheres. Contact with the kindergarten and active participation in its work will help many parents to modify their child-rearing practices in ways that will benefit their children.
He goes on to state:
Recent studies have drawn attention to the absence in many homes of types of experiences and language patterns important as a basis for formal learning. These deficiencies occur most frequently in poorer homes when there are poorly educated parents. A longitudinal study in the United Kingdom which has followed some thousands of children from birth to maturity has shown that children from such homes begin school with a disadvantage which is liable to persist throughout the period of schooling. Their inferior school performance is not necessarily genetic in origin, but may rather be seen as a result of deficiencies in their environment. The terra culturally deprived’ has been applied to these children, and in several countries, notably Israel and the United States of America, special kindergarten programmes have been developed for them which include short daily periods of instruction.
It seems to me that the great defect in Commonwealth intervention in education is that it intervenes always in the direction of what is called ability. It is seeking out ability. It never asks whether this ability is intrinsic, and except in the case of Aborigines it is not seeking pastoral care, remedial care or curative care of Australian children. The kindergarten field is pre-eminently the field in which this can take place. This Bill enables money which has been appropriated and which was supposed to have been spent before December 1972 to be now spent before December 1973. Whilst all this money is welcome, it is not touching the fundamentals of the position. I am sorry that my amendment has been ruled out of order. 1 believe that the States will not start to incur a new expenditure of a significant kind in this field of pre-school education except possibly Victoria, which has already gone a long way along the road.
– What about Queensland?
– Yes, but Victoria is further along the road. The expenditure that will be necessary to establish a national system of pre-school education is very formidable for a State. I believe that the teaching body will have to develop over a decade. While the cost is formidable, it is no more formidable than some of the sums of money which the Government has plucked out of the air at various stages this year as we have proceeded towards the magic date in October or November which presumably the astrologers have told the Prime Minister. At least, it was reported that they had. Seeing kindergartens as a weapon of compensation, however, is an inadequate view of kindergartens. They are not only an opportunity for remedial work for the child from an under-privileged background but also an essential instrument or at least an important instrument in creating happy and stable children.
We will, no doubt, if the Government lasts long enough, find a day when, having resisted this over at least 18 years, the Government will turn around, presumably in some period before an election, and start to organise a pre-school system and claim the credit for it. It seems to me to be impossible that the advice that the Government receives from its advisers, who live in a city where they have developed for themselves a very notable pre-school system, is other than that this system is essential. If the Government asked this question of any educationist, it would be advised to assist in the establishment of this system. Yet, we have debates in this House in which the Opposition is begging all the time for a pre-school commission to be the Commonwealth Government’s organ of intelligence to examine and establish needs in this field and again and again the Minister for Education and Science derides it. He says that it will cost $160m. It would not cost that amount in one Budget. A government could not spend that sum. It would have to start training up the teachers to cope with the children.
It is sad, when one knows that the Commonwealth through its Gowrie centres over 32 years has received a flood of information on the significance of such centres for children in under-privileged areas, that it will not start to develop a kindergarten system firstly in the areas of the greatest need. Canberra, of course, is an area of the least need. It is a city with the highest percentage of graduates or highly educated people as parents in Australia. It is a beautiful environment. In the main, Canberra’s homes are far above the average for Australia. Knowing the significance of preschool education, the Government has developed in Canberra the finest pre-school education system in Australia and one of the finest in the world. Nobody can justify that system being in an area of comparative privilege such as Canberra and not having pre-schools in areas of underprivilege where they could carry out remedial work.
Of course, the Opposition welcomes this Bill. It really is only repeating the parent Bill of last year and extending the period during which money appropriated under the parent Bill can be spent, but as it relates to pre-school education one cannot neglect the opportunity to raise again the need for Commonwealth responsibility in the curative work and the creative work for young children in these pre-school centres. The impressions of the period from birth to 5 years are quite decisive. All the evidence suggests that it is on the foundation of those 5 years that the development of the individual takes place thereafter, especially the . educational development of the individual. I therefore ask the Minister again not to regard this as a sort of opposition criticism - a kind of an argy-bargy between the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party. There are no arguments against establishing a pre-school education system. It is not good enough to say: Leave the initiative to the States’. The States have control of all the expenditure departments. The Commonwealth has control of all the revenue departments. That is the fundamental issue at every Premiers Conference and every meeting of the Australian Loan Council. An eternal tension exists between those 2 facts.
The Commonwealth has power over hanking and credit and power over income tax. It has all the economic initiatives. When it wished to assist education in the private schools, it could bring down a stream of States grants Bills to assist the private schools. When it wanted to enter into the field of university education - we were begging Sir Robert Menzies to do- so for some years before he did do so - it could conjure up the Australian Universities Commission and set forth with a stream of States grants universities Bills. A similar position applies in relation to colleges of advanced education. Now we say: Conjure up a pre-school commission’. The Commonwealth could develop a pre-school system through the States, if it liked, along the lines of those existing in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. In the Northern Territory, preschools are used with great effect as weapons for underprivileged Aboriginal children. Pre-schools could be developed throughout Australia, beginning in the underprivileged areas. In the more privileged areas there are private pre-schools already because their significance is realised. I said this afternoon that there is no electoral demand for this. Therefore, it becomes a litmus test as to whether the Commonwealth Government cares tuppence about children or cares only about those educational issues in which there are votes. But if it has a pastoral care for the children in this country, regardless of whether the electorate understands the significance of these schools, regardless of whether the underprivileged areas which would benefit most from their establishment understand them, it will, for the sake of the nation and because of the significant foundation that these places can provide for the education of children, set to work to develop a pre-school commission as its guide to establishing a preschool educational system.
– I concede that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) has touched on a point of extreme and high idealism. I am staggered that there is no response from honourable members on the other side of the House and that there is no connotation from the appeal that he puts. He has said that there may not be any electoral appeal in it. I doubt what he says because I think that people do care. I - think they care about the potential of the children of this country. I care, and I am staggered that nobody has been inspired by the speech df the honourable member tonight or, indeed, the speech he made this afternoon when he gave a package deal account of the Australian Labor Party’s objectives in regard to education and placed considerable emphasis on the pre-school. I am staggered that all this has not caused some response. Is there no emotion left? Is there no real fervent feeling about the potential of the people in this country and the denied opportunities? It staggers and sickens me, and it leaves me a little bereft of hope. I know that 90 per cent of the professional and management workers in this country are able to send their children to preschool and that 60 per cent of skilled workers and 50 per cent of semi-skilled workers are able to do so. But only about 3 per cent of unskilled workers have a chance to send their children off to the educational opportunities in the pre-school area. These are children with great capacity. Yet this Government has been lying doggo. I am not here to talk about this Government or the Opposition. I am here to talk about people about whom I feel strongly in respect of this matter. This Bill has been before the Parliament in one form or another since 1968. In that year $2.5m was allocated to organisations concerned with pre-school teacher training in the various States. The purpose of that allocation was to facilitate the construction and equipment of pre-school teachers colleges. One of the essential tangibles in the whole objectivity about which we have been talking is people who can run the pre-school education system. Three years later, in 1971, that fairly pathetic allocation had not been expended. The period was extended for yet another year to the end of December 1972. Now that prescribed period of expenditure is to be extended for another year. That is why this Bill was introduced. In terms of the Budget, it is not a large sum of money but it is the thing that symbolises this Parliament’s concern about pre-school education. There is nothing else in the whole spectrum apart from a Budget provision of $5m to which I shall refer.
Now, 5 years have passed since this scheme was first introduced at a time when it was intended to expend $2.5m and make it available to the States for use by some private organisations for pre-school teacher training purposes. In Victoria the Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College has run into some difficulty in securing land for its project and in obtaining local government approval. In New South Wales the Sydney Day Nursery Association also has struck difficulty in the acquisition of land for the project. In my view the delay is completely inexcusable. Serious consequences are going to accrue in regard to the training of urgently needed pre-school teachers. Thousands of children are going to be denied pre-school education opportunities as a result of this delay. In New South Wales the enrolment capacity of the nursery school pre-school college was to be increased from 99 to 270 students for training in pre-school teaching. In Victoria the enrolment capacity of the Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College was to be increased from 193 to 450. Together those 2 training colleges were to increase the annual output of trained pre-school personnel by 358. That is to say that each year the delay is costing pre-school education 358 teachers.
That does not sound a lot in the spectrum of anything but if each of those 358 teachers were to teach just 20 children some 7,160 additional children could enjoy the privileges and the benefits of pre-school education.
What is this Government’s attitude to the bottlenecks that have occurred? In my view these private training colleges must be regarded as agents for the Commonwealth in that they fulfil a public function in a field which the Commonwealth substantially has abdicated or otherwise neglected. I am referring to this whole area of teaching training for pre-school education. If local government authorities and State authorities are dilatory in facilitating the projects approved, they must be confronted even by this Commonwealth Government. The Minister for Education and Science (“Mr Malcolm Fraser) has failed to achieve the results demanded to meet the desperate shortage of pre-school teachers. He has declined to give any account of any effort made by him to expedite the projects. Presumably he has made no effort in respect of these matters.
What is the crisis in pre-school education? There have been many surveys. A recent survey showed that over 149,000 children under 6 years of age, children of working mothers, are being cared for by relatives and other people. The eligible preschool population actually at pre-school centres has increased only marginally in recent years. In 1967 12.1 per cent of the pre-school population attended pre-school, and in 1970 the figure had increased to 14.8 per cent, that is, 14.8 per cent of 500,000 children who comprise the eligible pre-school population.
I want the House for a moment to look at the glaring differentiation in the incidence of children attending pre-school as a percentage of the eligible population for the year 1970. In New South Wales 9 per cent of eligible children were in pre-school, in Western Australia 13 per cent, in Tasmania 13 per cent, in Queensland 13 per cent, in South Australia 17 per cent, in Victoria 29 per cent, in the Northern Territory 35 per cent and in the Australian Capital Territory 52 per cent. Do not disparage the idea that there ought to be 52 per cent of eligible children attending preschool. I say to people in my electorate: ‘If you want to live in the full blossom of whatever Australia has to offer, go and live in either the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory. Those are the privileged parts of Australia.’ The same sort of privilege ought to prevail throughout Australia. If pre-school education is needed for children in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory, it is needed for children throughout the length and breadth of this land.
The inequitable disparity in levels of expenditure on pre-school education between the States and the Australian Capital Territory reflects on the capacity and the willingness of successive governments to face up to this great and pressing social issue. The Australian Capital Territory expends $4.30 per head on pre-school education, and I ask honourable members to remember that figure. The comparison with the States is 93c per head in Victoria, 60c in South Australia, 35c in Western Australia, 15c in Queensland and 4.7c in New South Wales. The best ideal, objective or standard that we have is expenditure of $4.30 per head in the Australian Capital Territory. The Tasmanian figures are not available, but I know that the Tasmanian
Government, and indeed recent governments in that State, have set out to incorporate pre-school training into the State education system. New South Wales has 252,000 children in the 2 to 5 years age group, and only 17,000 of them are attending pre-school.
Clearly this legislation cannot equalise opportunity. Clearly this Bill cannot, on its own, achieve its stated purpose, which is to double the capacity to train pre-school teachers in Australia. The objective, though laudable, cannot be obtained just by adding rooms to training colleges. Recurrent teaching costs, equipment costs, students allowances and many other factors are involved. What is the job at hand? Not every mother in Australia wants her child to go off to pre-school, yet clearly there are other mothers, and some fathers, who have no choice, for economic reasons, than to go to employment and leave young children in the care of others or alone.
What of the latch-key children who can be found in their thousands in the great cities who are virtually locked away in the sanctuary of the television room by devoted but necessarily employed parents? We do not relish the realisation of the fact that there are such parents who have to find this kind of secure sanctuary for their children. What will be the product of this deprivation in later years? How does inadequacy of care, love, guidance, training and sense of security affect a growing child? What will be the consequences to the child and the community in the future?
In 1970 the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) released results of a survey. He indicated that there are in the work force 200,000 mothers with 250,000 children of pre-school age. Only 7 per cent of that quarter of a million children were accommodated in competent kindergarten or child care centres. Heaven knows what happened to the rest. So far, there has been nothing to show that this Government really cares. The work of Fitzgerald and Crosher entitled Pre-School Education of Australia’, published by the Australian Council for Education Research, claims that in a recent survey there were 63,000 women not of the work force with one or more children under 6 years of age who stated that they would go into the work force if suitable child care facilities were available. What we are talking about is a phenomenon of our age. Not every woman wishes to go into the work force and to leave her children behind. But there are a number who, for economic reasons, must do so, whilst on the other hand there are those who feel that their life will not be fulfilled until they manifest their talents in areas outside the kitchen or outside the household. These are the realities of life as the effects of higher education come to bear. We must face up to those realities.
The former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), is often eulogised because of his identification of this problem. He made a commitment on behalf of his Government on 4th November 1970 during the Senate election campaign. I have his speech here in full, but I will summarise the important parts of it. He said:
I now announce a new objective to which we give very high priority. That is, the establishment of child care centres for children of pre-school age.
He said that in the decade 1960-70 the number of married women in the work force almost doubled, increasing from 9.3 per cent to 18.3 per cent. He claimed that:
Studies made by the Department of Labour and National Service show that existing facilities are woefully inadequate.
He said further:
We wish to ensure that the children of these women have every opportunity for the fullest development in both the emotional and physical sense.
I was warmed by these remarks. I would not care whether they were said on an election platform by a Labor man, a Liberal man or any other man. He said that, and he committed this Government.
– That was John Gorton?
– That was John Gorton. The scheme then propounded has been jettisoned - recklessly jettisoned, I think, in terms of proper priority considerations - with all the ill effects and the social consequences of that action. This was a priority commitment for the fulfilment of pre-school needs. Employers and local government authorities were to co-operate to meet the critical need to care for the children of working mothers. That is a fair summary of what the right honourable gentleman said at that time.
I remember that the Minister for Labour and National Service, now sitting opposite me, responded to my invitation to give an account of the Government’s standing on this matter. Not so long ago he told me that because of economic reasons this proposal had gone by the board. Ministers for Health, Ministers for Education and Science and Ministers for Labour and National Service have been involved in these matters. That does not matter. The fact is that the Government has not faced up to what John Gorton said was a desirable thing.
– It is in this year’s Budget, though.
– The Minister says that it is in this year’s Budget. I intend to come to that. What does the Budget say? Let me tell the honourable gentlemen. But let me preface my remarks by saying that a very great likeness exists between what the present Budget proposes and what the right honourable member for Higgins said some years ago when he made this commitment on behalf of the Government. But the fact is that what is said in the present Budget is not said in the same inspirational terms as those in which the original proposal was put forward. Let me quote what is said on this matter in the present Budget. I think it is nonsense; I think it is crap. I do not think the Government has any serious intention. The extent of the Government’s declared intention is infinitesimal and it is incapable of confronting the problem of deprived children. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said in his Budget speech:
We propose subsidies to enable these centres to offer reduced fees for low income families and others in special need. Unmatched capital grants will be made available direct to approved nonprofit organisations for the provision, and equipping of such centres and staff subsidies will be provided to encourage the employment of certain appropriately qualified staff. The estimated cost of the scheme this year is $5m
I do not know whether anybody has looked at what $5m is worth in this context. Obviously, this is complete and utter nonsense. It should be the right of this substantial number of children from underprivileged families to break some even ground, to overcome the inequalities that exist in this country at the present time. The Government should be pouring money into the scheme. It should be saying: ‘We are going to extend the state education system to accommodate the pre-school needs of Australia.’ But the Government is offering S5m. Where will that go? You could spend it in my electorate - in just one electorate. It costs $25,000 to build these centres to look after 25 children. Two hundred of them at $25,000 each, in terms of capital cost, would blow this miserable sum right out of the sky.
We have to talk about equipment, teacher training, allowances for the teachers, wages while they are learning, wages while they are teaching and so on. The Government is tinkering with the problem. This is one of the areas that has been ignored and neglected by the Government. I hope it will not be ignored or neglected by the Government that is going to follow. At least I am gratified by the fact that my Party, whilst conceding that it does not know everything about this matter, has said that it will establish a pre-schools commission which will look at the matter factually and bring the priorities to bear. I hope that we will have the chance to manifest our sincerity in this regard.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) implied that the only people who are unaware of the apparent value of education for children under the age of 5 years are the people on this side of the House and that those clairvoyants opposite have long been in possession of the educational information which has recently come to hand. It is only in very recent times that it has been shown, to any noticeable effect, that the capacity of the child of under 5 years, or even of 3 years, is greater than it was previously thought to be. In the light of such findings, it is not quite so obvious, as was suggested by the honourable member for Hughes, that this field has been due for great government attention and expenditure in ages long past. Of course, that is only one aspect of the matter.
In making that point, I do not for a moment disagree with the findings which are now apparent, although I think it is only fair to say that there is a good deal more to be learned about the capacity of children to take on certain kinds of educational and informational matter when they are very young. But certainly it seems to have been shown without doubt that they have a great deal of receptivity of mind and of intellect to take aboard a great deal more than was previously thought to be the case - except for some geniuses here and there who could play the piano at the age of 4 or read dictionaries and do other things of that kind. So we are dealing with a recent phenomenon in educational terms.
Let me turn to the remarks of the previous 2 speakers. The honourable member for Hughes said that 52 per cent of children eligible to attend pre-schools are living in the full blossom of privilege in the Australian Capital Territory. That is very true. In this field, as in many other fields, one can hardly disagree that the people of the Australian Capital Territory are better served than those in some other areas of the country. But surely that proves the point which the honourable member for Hughes was trying to disprove, that is, that in the Australian Capital Territory, which is the immediate concern of the Commonwealth Government, the level of pre-school education is notably, even remarkably, higher than that in most other areas of the country. Surely it also proves that it was within the province of the State governments, if they knew about the educational need, to introduce equally high levels of pre-school education if that was their order of priorities.
I do not think the fact that the Commonwealth Government has from 1968 identified this particular area of need can be said to show that necessarily we should have particularised in respect of the States at an earlier stage, even if the knowledge were available. I would regard the comments of both the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) and the honourable member for Hughes about its not being adequate to leave the initiative to the States and so on as a very nice expression of what might be, but the States are in fact predominantly responsible for the education of children at that age. It is well known to honourable members opposite and to the public that the Commonwealth entered the field of education as a whole - it is, as you know, Mr Speaker, a vast field - substantially at the higher levels of education, notably at the tertiary level, where the educating was essentially carried out by autonomous or semi-autonomous institutions from univer sities down and where it was much easier to involve the Commonwealth in considerable capital expenditure without transgressing the rights of the States and their education departments.
Clearly in that sense education of children at the ages below 6 - mostly 3 to 5 years of age - is at the lowest level, in terms of age and chronology, of the education process. It may be also the most fundamental level at which we establish recognition, knowledge and so on in young people. Again we do not deny that. But in the order of things as they have been carried out, with the intrusion of the Commonwealth into the field of education, it is understandable that this has been a somewhat languishing field. When we coupled that with the real knowledge of the importance or apparent importance of this level of educational possibility and capacity in children, I do not really believe that the argument, that only the Commonwealth is responsible here, put by the honourable member for Hughes in considerably emotional terms at the outset of his speech, holds a great deal of water.
There are some other aspects of this matter also. I feel that there was a certain degree of confusion - again on the part of the honourable member for Hughes - about child minding centres and pre-schools. Undertakings made in respect of child minding centres as an adjunct to or even as a consequence of or a response to an increasing proportion of females in the work force are not the same as the establishment of or the responsibility to establish pre-school education on the part of the Commonwealth. One might even ask just how necessary is the one as distinct from the other. I draw attention to the fact that there has been a relatively rapid increase in female participation in the work force; I think we have reached a level of female participation of around 40 per cent. I do not have the figures at hand, but I do know that the level is considerably higher than it was a few years ago and that it now approaches the levels which have long operated in European and, since long before that, Asian countries where almost entirely predominantly rural occupations are engaged in by both the male and female populations. The response to that is to have somebody other than the mothers to look after the children at these low ages.
It could easily be argued that to provide pre-schools would be preferable to providing mere minding centres for children of an age who have the capacity to learn. Nevertheless it is interesting to note - perhaps the Opposition does not question it - that no mention has been made in my hearing of the curricula in schools of this kind. I am no expert on children’s education at this stage but an analysis of part of the position will reveal a great deal of the curricula, if that is the right word, engaged in pursuits which could largely be carried out in other circumstances were the parents sufficiently interested; that is to say, scissors and paste operations and activities relating to art in one form or another - highly expressive functions that bring out a great deal in the educational and social consciousness of the children. I do not for one moment criticise that.
We are not talking in terms of highly complex educational processes partly perhaps because we do not know enough about what is needed. We are talking about a great deal of psychological content in the teaching of very young people rather than a complex educational programme which is totally inoperable in a domestic situation. What I am saying is that despite the great works that we may find in pre-schools, a great deal of what is offered, socially and educationally, could well be found in a good home environment between mother and child.
– They are the ones who send their children to pre-schools.
– I have no argument against people doing that if they have the capacity to do so. Nevertheless we should recognise the possibilities - or even the fact - that some people higher up the educational scale prefer to teach their children and have them close to them as much as possible at that early age rather than send them to pre-school. That may be right or it may be wrong but they are certainly exercising a parental preference which is available to parents under this system in contrast to the system in the Soviet Union where a great proportion of females work and State child-minding centres in which there are children in great numbers, are found in profusion. I do not want to ex plore that because in a sense it is irrelevant. We are talking about pre-school education. The basis upon which the Commonwealth came into this field in 1968, whether belatedly or otherwise - I would submit it was within reasonable time - was to provide an Act under which the purchase of land with or without buildings was able to be conducted. Then the planning, erection, alteration and extension of buildings could proceed. The development and preparation of land for buildings and other purposes was also taken in hand as was the installation of various facilities to prepare pre-schools under the auspices of those largely private bodies who were interested in them.
I do not think anybody is likely to be highly critical of the job that organisations like the Gowrie centres have done in the past but it is worth noting that the Tasmanian Government in this field of operation has long since integrated its pre-school teaching with its educational system at large. It is a matter which I know is understood by the honourable member for Fremantle. This shows that the same opportunity is available to the other States. So whereas Tasmania can take its $220,000 grant and, along with Western Australia, completely expend within the systems which operate in those States within a couple of years of the allocation of that money, the other States, understandably, have difficulties through their private operations and, for various reasons outlined on a previous occasion, are not able to spend their money at such a rate. That is the root cause of this Bill being before us now. It is a means by which to extend the operation of $2.5m in unmatched grants to the end of next year. This seems to me to show a reasonable development on the part of the Commonwealth, as the $2.5m unmatched grants have been partly expended in some States and fully expended in others. In addition the Minister announced today in his considerable speech on education that not only capital grants but recurring costs of preschool teachers colleges will be met by the Commonwealth as from July 1973. Given the relatively short period of time, whatever the demands of the situation, the Commonwealth is getting into the act.
We find that enrolments in major institutions or systems for the teachers who look after pre-school children have moved in this way. In 1967, the base year, the Nursery School Teachers College in Sydney had 99 enrolments, moving to a capacity of 270 now; the Sydney Kindergarten Teachers College had 127 enrolments, moving to 300 now; the Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College had 193 enrolments, moving to 450 now; the Brisbane Kindergarten Teachers College had 148 enrolments, moving to 300 now; the Kindergarten Teachers College, Adelaide, had 93 enrolments, moving to 200 now; the Meerilinga Kindergarten Teachers College, Perth, had 66 enrolments, moving to 160 now. The Launceston Teachers College which operates the system for the State Education Department of Tasmania does not have figures available for the first year, because of the integration of the system, but is moving to 70 now. Thus there was a total of 726 enrolments in the 1967 base year and this has moved to 1,265 in 1972 for these 7 institutions or systems. They now have a capacity for enrolment of 1,750 preschool teacher trainees. Therefore we do have something approaching a reasonable situation for those currently to be taught at pre-schools. True, if we were to open the flood gates, as it were, and take in the whole of the eligible population, we would not have sufficient teachers properly trained for the tasks.
In some States the percentage of persons employed as pre-school teachers with preschool training qualifications specifically is of a high order. For example, in New South Wales in 1971, 92i per cent were trained specifically for the job they were doing. The figure was much lower in Victoria - 57.3 per cent - but higher in Queensland at 94.5 per cent. In South Australia it was 65.2 per cent and in Western Australia 57.7 per cent. Again, because of the integration there is no percentage figure available for Tasmania. I know that is not the whole story because not all children are accommodated in the appropriate institutions, if in fact all of them will ever be. As honourable members opposite, particularly the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), have pointed out, the ball is at the Parliament’s foot, and we must move to a position where a much greater proportion of children, particularly those outside of the Australian Capital Territory, in the age groups of 3 to 5 nota bly, are able to participate, if their parents wish it, in pre-school education in a thorough-going, organised fashion.
Finally, we recognise - though the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) suggested that we do not - the idealism involved in any educative process, and not least in this area of very young lives and minds who have the capacity not only to be moulded by the influences of their environment but who now it appears have also the mental capacity to be much more influenced by proper teaching than was previously thought to be the case. There is no question or issue between us as to the importance of this field. On the other hand, there is, I think, some issue on the question of whose responsibility it is and how soon it ought to have been thenresponsibility. It is reasonable to say that, having recognised the need and identified an educational area, and having observed that all the States, with the notable exception of Tasmania, had not got into this particular field, the Commonwealth has decided to move. It is moving more rapidly now, though perhaps the rate of progression has not been as great as some people would wish. However, it is clear that once the Commonwealth has accepted a responsibility such as this it is unlikely to let it go. I think the future in this field is a good deal rosier than some people would have us believe.
It is, however, necessary to identify educational priorities. The Commonwealth educational priorities have not long been in the field of pre-school education. The Commonwealth is recognising its value and its need and is identifying itself with the area. That does not mean that we would not want the States to proceed with all possible expedition, alacrity and interest in this field. It is, of course, within the limits of their general expenditure, educational or otherwise, open to them to do so, if that is the way they see it. Whatever is the Commonwealth responsibility in this field, I do not think it is fair to divorce the States and their education departments from acknowledging their priorities and facing the task which is closest to hand as far as they are concerned and not leaving the whole matter to the Commonwealth to carry out more effectively than hitherto.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bryant) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Garland) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
- Mr Speaker, 1 wish to take advantage of one of the few opportunities left to me to say a few words of criticism against this departing Government. I want to deal tonight with the secrecy that this Government exhibits in regard to the activities of its members which involve public expenditure, and also to place on record what I believe is contempt of Parliament on the part of Government members, particularly the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), in their failure to reveal to the Parliament certain essential details of expenditure incurred during their term of office. On 9th December 1971 I placed a question on the notice paper. 1 asked the Prime Minister:
The Prime Minister subsequently answered in this way:
The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
to (6) Between the commencement of the 27th Parliament on 23th November 1969 and 21st April 1972 - a period of 2 years and 5 months - there has been a total of 72 overseas visits by Ministers (44 of these accompanied by wives)-
They certainly decided that they would not be lonely on the trip - and 7 by office holders of the Parliament (5 of these accompanied by wives).
They also were going to have all home comforts. The reply continued:
So far as Ministers’ visits are concerned, it is the practice to announce details of each visit at the time in Parliament or, if Parliament is not sitting, by means of Press statements.
Information on each individual visit over the past two and a half years is not centrally recorded in the form required by the honourable member’s question. To compile it would be a substantial task and I am reluctant-
I should think he would be reluctant - to authorise the administrative effort that would be involved.
Costs incurred on ministerial visits and visits by office holders of the Parliament during this financial year will be shown in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1972-73; costs in relation to earlier visits have already been published in the relevant Appropriation Bills.
I consider that that answer represents complete contempt of Parliament. In other words, the Government refuses to reveal to this Parliament the costs which have been incurred in sending its Ministers around the world. Honourable members who seek this information can ascertain it only once a year, when the Appropriation Bill is prepresented to the House. They are then expected to wade through the Bill to find out in detail the amounts that have been expended. Honourable members on this side of the chamber have no staff or facilities but are expected to delve through all these papers to calculate the aggregate sum. The Prime Minister, with a personal staff costing over $100,000 a year, has refused to give this information to Parliament. Is there a sinister reason behind his refusal? I think there is.
Why were the wives of all the Ministers taken abroad? What was the cost involved? Was the cost of their entertainment and their other expenses paid for by us? Is it desired to hide this fact from the public gaze? If not, why has it not been revealed in this answer? Why should the Minister be reluctant to authorise his officers to give details of this public expenditure?I advise the Prime Minister tonight that when the Estimates are debated I will again ask for this information to be given to me. I do not have the staff, the secretarial assistance and research facilities available to me to go through all these documents. I expect the Prime Minister and his staff costing $100,000 a year to be able to spend a little time on this matter.
I will tell honourable members another reason why the Minister did not want to reveal this information. I have asked a similar question. I asked how many visits abroad have been made by departmental officers in each year since the commencement of the Twenty-Seventh Parliament. I asked for similar information about officials. The Prime Minister replied:
An answer giving much of the information requested by the honourable member was provided by the Treasurer in reply to Senate Question No. 990 (Hansard 22 February 1972, page 22). ,
He went on to give me, almost chapter and verse, the answer that he had given to me regarding ministerial trips. I turned up that question and answer of 22nd February 1972, containing details of trips abroad by public servants. In 1968-69, 1,172 officers travelled abroad at a cost of $2,214,597. In 1969-70, 1,224 officers went abroad at a cost of $2,481,103. In 1970-71, 1,297 officers went abroad at a cost of $2,673,905. The total number of officers travelling abroad in the 3 years to February 1972 was 3,693 and the cost has been $7,369,605. Those figures relate to the second level of the Parliament, as it were. They relate to the public servants. What must the trips of Ministers have cost?
I believe that the cost of the visits of Ministers to overseas countries would be between $20m and $40m. The Government will not reveal those figures, knowing full well that if they travelled at only the cost of trips of public servants it would be a minimum of $7.5m. But we all know that the present Ministers travel extravagantly and get all the best of everything. Probably they are hiding from the public gaze expenditure of between $30m and $40m. Some people may say that mine is an extravagant estimate, but if I am not told the facts am I not entitled to estimate what the cost would be?
This information should be revealed to the Parliament. The figures show that 652 officers of the Department of Air travelled abroad in that period. They are certainly using the air extensively. Their visits cost about $622,000. of the Department of the Army, 564 members have gone abroad in the last 3 years at a cost of almost Sim. In the Department of Civil Aviation 259 officers have made overseas trips at a cost of about $530,000. In that period about $7-5m has been spent on public servants travelling abroad. Is it any wonder that the Prime Minister will not give information regarding the costs of the travels of Ministers, their wives and people associated with them? It is because he knows that it will be a public scandal when the wastage of funds is exposed.
We would not mind the expenditure on the travelling of Ministers if they learned anything when they went away, but everybody knows that they are dumber than ever when they come back. The state of the economy today proves that no matter if they spent only $7. 5m almost every dollar has been wasted, judging by the effort they have put in. What I place on record tonight is my concern for the contempt which is being shown to the Parliament by the Prime Minister who refuses to reveal this information. In every other Parliament with which I have been associated over the years, when such questions have been asked they have always, with the exception of the present Prime Minister’s period of office, received a reply containing the information desired. That is why tonight I say that there must be some reason why the Government will not reveal the information. I believe it is probably because the wives of Ministers, public servants and other persons have been given extravagant trips at the taxpayers’ expense.
The Government refuses to reveal this information because it knows it cannot justify such expenditure under any circumstances. I simply advise members of the Government, particularly the Prime Minister, who I understand is in a state of ecstasy for the first time for months, that they will be brought right back to the ground later because we will seek an explanation during the debate on the Estimates. I suggest to the Prime Minister that he might do better to spend a few more million dollars on those in the community who need it rather than spend this money on Ministers, their wives and others, and then refuse to reveal that information to the Parliament.
– Tonight I make a plea for action to protect the aged, the infirm and those people in the community who are uninformed on business methods from the dishonest transactions of snide salesmen and people who engage in door to door operations with people who are unfit to match them in business methods. Throughout Australia many people are suffering because of the actions of such salesmen. Hard working people have their money taken from them. They have been defrauded by people from whom they should be protected. It is tragic that in Australia today, within the law, operators can engage in this type of activity and can take money from people. It seems that no protection can be afforded to those who suffer. Law and order is a popular cry these days. Surely there should be some means of protecting people who have lost their money and who have been systematically robbed not only of their savings but also of their cherished hopes with respect to homes and other such matters.
So that the Government will know something about the situation I bring to the attention of the Parliament 2 cases that have been referred to me. These involve people who should be protected. The first concerns 2 age pensioners who were approached by salesmen from Alco Sales Pty Ltd. The salesmen called at the home of these elderly people - the husband aged 85 and the wife a few years his junior - and discussed with them plans to place an aluminium roof on their old home which today has only an old rusty galvanised covering. The businessmen told a good story and convinced the pensioners that they would be able to provide a suitable roof for them providing a reasonable payment was made. The salesmen did not tell them all the facts. These age pensioners live in Inch Street, Lithgow. 1 will make their names available to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). After a while the pensioners were asked what money they had and the pensioners told the salesmen of their income and receipts. They told them that they had recently been able to redeem an industrial assurance policy and that with some other savings they could gather some $420. The agents accepted the money and signed a receipt.
According to the husband one agent placed his band on the contract so that the printing could not be seen and asked them to sign a contract for the covering of their home with aluminium. Whether or not a hand had been over the words, it is exceedingly doubtful whether the 85-year old pensioner and his wife would have known very much about it. But they soon found out that before a roof could be placed on their old home it was necessary for them to raise all the money required, which I believe was somewhere in the vicinity of $1,200. Being elderly pensioners they were unable to borrow the money. They went to the bank but could not raise the money. They then tried to have their money refunded, but this shabby dishonest deal could not be stopped. In their efforts to have the money returned, they found that this firm had changed its address. I understand that at the present time its address is somewhere in Chatswood, New South Wales.
On behalf of the people I contacted the Public Solicitor of New South Wales and I asked that action be taken to protect my elderly constituents - these hard working people. He was a man who had worked with a horse and dray through the burden of ali the heat and difficulties of the years to raise a few dollars only to find them taken from him. I say to the Parliament this evening that this Government, the State Government and governments generally ought to protect people of this kind. It is a shocking, scandalous, intolerable state of affairs if elderly people such as these are to be defrauded while governments remain inactive and refuse to take action. There should be in all of these cases a substantial cooling off period so that persons who feel that they are not satisfied with the deal or who find that they cannot go through with a matter of this kind can be given the opportunity of getting their money back Their contract should be cancelled, but this is not the case. The Attorney-General ought to look into this matter and action should be taken.
The other matter to which I wish to refer concerns a mother of 1 1 children living at Emu Plains, New South Wales. She claims she paid $2,663 to Trelawney Developments Pty Ltd whose representatives called upon her. The former address of that company was 590 George Street, Sydney. The company promised that it would provide this woman with a home if she would give them her money. The present address of the firm is, I understand, 310 George Street, Sydney. It moved from one place to the other, which is very much like the pattern of the previous case. T understand that an accountant represents the firm at the new address.
The woman told me that she withdrew from the Penrith office of the Permanent Building Society 2 sums of money - $500 on 22nd March this year and $1,751 on 27th March this year. She then withdrew from the Penrith branch of the Commonwealth Bank money which she had saved over the years which amounted to $412. These 3 withdrawals represented the woman’s entire savings. All of this money has been taken from her. No action has been taken to provide her with a home, nor has any communication been made with her with regard to her future and what is to become of her funds, her savings. I have been informed that the receipts that this woman received from Trelawney Developments are held at present by Mr Peter Young and Mr Mike Willesee who have been investigating on her behalf this serious complaint.
This poor woman deserves the protection of a responsible government. She deserves the protection of Parliament. She deserves the protection of the lawmakers of this country. If a mother of 11 children can bc scandalously defrauded in this way, what hope is there of anyone having very much respect for the laws of the country which fail to take into consideration the extraordinarily difficult case of this lady. Perhaps she should have known better. Perhaps people are gullible. Perhaps they are illinformed, but they deserve the protection of the law of our country. In this case, as in the other case, protection has not been provided. Action is required to stop this form of robbery. There is no other name for it. It is plundering people; it is being carried out inside the law. If someone goes into a supermarket or store and steals some little article they are quickly brought before the court. But this thieving on the grand scale - this scandalous and shocking scale - seems to be going on unabated in this country. This brand of racketeering ought to be stamped out.
I can only hope that the Government will heed what I have had to say this evening. I ask the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes), who is at the table, to convey to the Attorney-General the sentiments that I have expressed and ask him to interest himself in these cases as well as the many others that are not reported because people who have been defrauded do not know where to go to seek protection or have no-one to speak for them. This is a black spot on the history of this country and deserves to be rectified.
– I regret having to rise tonight to deal with this matter but I am afraid that the subject must be aired. What I want to deal with concerns a deliberate attempt by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), whom I informed that I intended to speak tonight, to preserve secrecy within his Department. The matter I raise concerns a letter that I sent to the Minister some 2 months ago asking for some very basic information that every person in this Parliament is entitled to have. It took weeks before I received any indication of when I would get a reply. I waited 2 months. All this time I was pressuring the Minister’s office and asking when the reply was coming. 1 was informed on each occasion that the reply had been received by the Minister for Education and Science, sent over to the Department of Education and Science, come back and was again in the pipeline. This went on for 2 months. The question that I asked concerned the eligibility of each non-Catholic private school in Victoria for science and library grants - simple basic facts. As I have said, that information was denied me for 2 months.
Last night I got the reply; the Minister refused to give the information. His reasons for doing so were specious. I woud like to add, to strengthen the charge made this morning by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) who claimed that the Minister for Education and Science was deliberately gagging scientists in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organisation, that the Minister has deliberately withheld information from me for no reason whatsoever. I regard this as a very serious matter. I discussed it this morning with the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). At this stage I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard my letter and the Minister’s reply, together with a statement of the eligibility of the 8 old schools of the Ministers in the Cabinet for science and library grants. I discussed the incorporation of these documents with the Minister for Education and Science who is at the table and he is agreeable to this course.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) - 34 View Street, Bendigo, Vic. 22 June 1972
Would you be good enough to forward to me details of the assessed eligibility of each nonCatholic private school in Victoria for grants under the (a) States Grants (Secondary Science) Act and (b) the States Grants (Secondary Libraries) Act?
I would appreciate it if each case were broken down into sums for (i) buildings, (ii) books, (iii) equipment and (iv) furniture in respect to library grants, and into sums for (i) buildings and (ii) equipment in respect to science grants.
Would you also provide similar information with respect to the following non-Catholic private schools:
DAVID KENNEDY. M.H.R. (Bendigo) Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 16 August 1972
I refer again to your letter of 22 June requesting details of the assessed eligibility of each non-Catholic private school in Victoria for grants under the Commonwealth Science Facilities and Secondary Schools Libraries Programmes. You also listed a few schools by name.
I have undertaken in replies to Parliamentary questions to provide members with information sought under these Commonwealth Programmes if they care to specify particular schools. If you will list the schools in respect of which you are seeking the information referred to in your letter. 1 shall see that available information is provided. Information about the five schools which you have listed is attached, to the extent that it is not contained in published statements which you hold.
You hold information which has been presented to Parliament relating to various grants paid to non-government secondary schools up to the beginning of the present period of each programme concerned. I have interpreted your reference to assessed eligibility’ as meaning overall the amounts which schools can reasonably expect to receive in total to bring their facilities to accepted Commonwealth standards. As you hold information on grants already paid, the information given in the attached table lists the amounts which, at the beginning of the present period of each of the two programmes concerned, the schools concerned can reasonably expect to receive eventually.
Mr D. A. Kennedy, M.P. Member for Bendigo, 34 View Street, Bendigo, Victoria 35 SO
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720817_reps_27_hor79/>.