27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (lion. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr SPEAKER-I call for petitions. Order! I hope I do not have to call for silence again this week as I had to call last week when petitions were being read by the Clerk. 1 suggest that honourable members contain themselves. If honourable members find it necessary to talk they should do so in an extremely low voice. This is no time for frivolity.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
Advertising in Telephone Directories
The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
That we, the undersigned, protest against the action of the Commonwealth Government in letting the contract for the advertising rights for the Victorian pink pages telephone directories to an American company, General Telephone & Electronics Corp., U.S.A., trading in Australia as Directories (Aust.) Pty Ltd.
That this will mean that the American company now controls the telephone directory advertising in all but one State of the Commowealth.
We respectfully request that this contract be revoked in the national interest, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Lynch, Mr Whitlam, Mr Armitage, Mr Lionel Bowen, Dr Everingham, Mr Garrick and Dr Gun.
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 m 1972-73 be increased to at least $240m.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provided maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries. by Mr Chipp, Mr Grassby, Dr Gun, Mr MacKellar, Dr Patterson and Mr Reid.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition from certain residents of the western suburbs in the Sydney Metropolitan area and surrounding districts respectfully showeth:
That due to an expanding passenger air travel business together with larger and more powerful jet aircraft, aircraft noise has already become a serious problem for people living in the vicinity of airports.
That jet aircraft operations have a detrimental effect by way of air and noise pollution on the environment and airports should be situated so as to preserve the environment of populated areas.
That protest should be made against the proposal to establish an international airport at Richmond owing to the detrimental effect it would have for the environment there and in surrounding districts.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that this House take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government does not proceed with the proposal to site the second, twenty four hour international airport for Sydney at Richmond or anywhere else in the far western suburbs of the metropolitan area.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Armitage and Mr Luchetti.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned employees in Parliament House Canberra respectfully sheweth:
That the inadequacy of the present parliamentary building is resulting in unpleasant, inefficient and inconvenient working conditions in the House itself.
That the fragmentation of staff at West Block and other offices in the City due to the inadequacies of space in the present building causes inefficiency in staff control and working relationships.
That although the present patchwork extension system results in better accommodation for some sections of the working population in the House it has worsened the accommodation in other areas by shutting out light and ventilation.
That the older sections of the House, besides being cramped, are affected by extremes of heat and cold and quite out of keeping with modern office working conditions.
That the House lacks proper recordsstorage facilities, and other facilities, especially related to staff comfort, a requirement highly desirable in view of Parliament’s extended working hours.
That the present extensions, as with past extensions, have been costly to the taxpayer and economically short-sighted and will merely relieve the most pressing needs for a very limited period of time due to the inevitable growth of the business of this Parliament.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that an early decision will be taken by the Government to build the new and permanent Parliament House which will, in the long run, be a more economical way to bouse the Parliament and which will, at the same time, be an impressive and proud symbol of Australia’s progress and national unity.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth:
That the National Capital Development Commission have advised us of their intention to develop the entire western side of Melrose Drive with flats and town houses.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the aforesaid strip of land on the whole western side of Melrose Drive be reserved for development as parkland. Your petitioners are concerned that such a development will place an excessive strain on the schools of the area, and will result in a diminution of the land available for recreational purpose, and will create traffic hazards. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
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 10th December 1948, Australia signed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Yet, 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with those 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 increases 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 Keith Johnson.
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:
Australia as a relatively wealthy country has a moral responsibility to help less fortunate people.
In exceptional cases Australia’s Immigration policy be decided not in terms of integration but in terms of human need.
Australia being under-populated relative to other nations is capable of accepting people classified as ‘stateless’ by the United Nations.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that:
The Government reconsider its attitude towards accepting into Australia some of the displaced Ugandan Asians.
The Government send a mission to Uganda to assess the Ugandan Asians attitude to coming to Australia, and other means by which we could help. Substantial aid be given to help with the settlement of these people, wherever that may be. by Mr Luchetti.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate and the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Whitlam.
Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the community of Canberra respectfully showeth:
That we disapprove of the action of the Government and in particular, of the Minister for the Interior, in having the Aboriginal Embassy removed by over 100 policemen.
That the attitude of the Government to the Aboriginal people as a whole after years of paternalistic policies, is in direct contravention to the will of the vast majority of Australians.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will take action to call on the Government to repeal the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance 1972.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Whitlam.
– I wish to inform the House that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) left Australia on Sunday, 24th September, to lead the Australian delegation to the 27th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. He is expected to return to Australia on 3rd October 1972. During his absence the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) will be the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– I ask the Prime Minis ter a question. The right honourable gentleman will have noted that the New Zealand election has been announced for 25th November. Is there any truth in reports that he has made a deal with the New Zealand Prime Minister to hold simultaneous elections? If so, will he confirm that the Australian election will be held on that date? If not, why is the Prime Minister persisting with a conscious policy of deferring a decision on the election until the last possible moment? Has the right honourable gentleman confirmed that the last date on which an election can be held is 20th January? Does he favour an election in the apolitical atmosphere of the Christmas-New Year holidays? Finally, did the Prime Minister abandon plans to have an election on 28th October because of the bad unemployment figures?
– As is not unusual, the assumption on which the honourable gentleman asked his question is totally false. No deal whatsoever has been made between the New Zealand Prime Minister and myself, although I did have 3 discussions with him and I agreed as to the date on which he should hold his election.I made no statement about our date.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. Did the Navy recently arrest 3 Taiwanese fishing boats in northern waters? Were they successful in escaping from naval custody? Have they been found and re-arrested? If not, why not?
– There seems to be some confusion, in certain newspapers in particular, about the circumstances of this incident and the supposition that these boats were under naval custody. In point of fact, although they were arrested by a naval patrol vessel, the normal procedure was followed, namely, they were handed over to the civil authorities on a civil charge. These particular Formosan fishing boats were at Lorengau in custody of the civil authorities, having been handed over by HMAS ‘Aitape*, which made the arrest. During the night of Saturday last, when their captains and engineers were ashore in custody, the boats apparently evaded restraint - if an active guard was placed on them - and escaped from the harbour. The first that was known of the escape was about 1 o’clock in the morning, when the Navy was alerted to this fact and immediately the ‘Aitape’ and one or two other boats put to sea to try to apprehend them.
The circumstances legally are rather difficult. Unless they were sighted before they had got outside the 12-mile limit and hot pursuit had been mounted there was no legal ground on which, having got outside that 12-mile limit, they could be apprehended. At 8 o’clock next morning an air sweep was made by civil aircraft, as well as the action taken by the patrol boats, but by that time it was realised that they must have been outside the legal limit and there was no point in pursuing them further. The matter now rests with the civil authorities who have the captains and engineers in custody.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to a letter seeking support for his Government and addressed to Western Australian doctors by the Liberal Party of Australia (Western Australian Division)? In particular, has he noted the improper and professionally offensive request in that letter that doctors should engage in active public condemnation of the Labor Party health platform in their consulting rooms? Did the Prime Minister authorise this approach, or alternatively does he approve of it? If he does not approve of it, will he dissociate himself from the contents of the letter and use his influence within the Liberal Party to have it withdrawn.
– I have no recollection of such a letter. I will find out from my Department whether I have received a copy of it or whether it has been referred in any way to me.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise and relates to reports to the seizure of some $100,000 worth of hashish in Melbourne yesterday. I ask the Minister whether he is disturbed about what appeared in those reports concerning international connections in this matter. Can the Minister confirm that there is no evidence of international drug running into Australia? On the other hand, if there is evidence of an international syndicate operating, can he assure the House that this matter is under control and advise honourable members of what steps are being taken to eradicate this problem?
– As the honourable gentleman would know, I can make no comments about the specific case to which he refers. However, I can say that I am persuaded that international drug running syndicates are directing their attention more and more to Australia, and this does cause us great concern. Last night approximately 130 lb of first quality hashish was seized. It has a black market value of something like $200,000. This brings the total quantity of cannabis seized this year to approximately 400 kilos as against a total seized last year of 200 kilos and a total the year before of 100 kilos. The fact is that in each of the last 4 years the rate of seizure of cannabis and all other drugs has been virtually doubling. To give an indication of the sophistication of syndicates and of techniques, I point out that this present shipment was allegedly found laminated into the bases of packing cases containing an aromatic cooking oil from the Lebanon.
As I have said before, the matter does cause concern. Unhappily I cannot give a guarantee, notwithstanding the efficiency of the Federal narcotics squad and the cooperation of State police, that we are seizing any more than between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the total of drugs being smuggled into the country. If honourable members who are better at arithmetic than I am, worked out the total amount of drugs smuggled into the country if 15 per cent equals 400 kilos, they would be concerned about the amount of hashish and cannabis that was smuggled into Australia this year and consumed by Australian youngsters.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he recalls the agreement between the Commonwealth and all the States in October 1967 relating to the exploitation of petroleum resources, including natural gas, and the memorandum of understanding annexed to the agreement, in which Prime Minister Holt and all the Premiers agreed that they would encourage, and would not seek to restrict, trade between the States, and with that view they would confer from time to time as any of them requested. Has the Prime Minister, in accordance with this memorandum, requested a conference with the States, or any of them, on natural gas resources in Australia in order to safeguard the overall national interest in developing and reticulating them?
– I have no detailed knowledge of the arrangements made between the then Prime Minister and the States. I, as Prime Minister, have not called such a conference, but I will look into the matter again.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether recent tariff action taken by the Government has improved the economic and unemployment situation in the Australian textile industry. Did the Tariff Board further inquire into the textile tariffs early this year? Can the Minister inform the House of the present position in the textile industry?
– There has been a Tariff Board inquiry into certain sections of the textile and clothing industries and the Government has made an announcement that it will delay implementation of the recommendations until it can find out whether it is possible to negotiate voluntary restraints with certain countries that have been putting pressure on our local industry because of the importation of their goods. The Government undertook negotiations with these countries but found that it was not possible to come to a totally satisfactory situation with all the countries involved. So an announcement was made some 2 weeks ago that tariff quotas would now be applied to these goods. The reaction that I have had already from the Australian industry has been a very satisfactory one. It greatly appreciates this new approach to providing a degree of protection to Australian industry and I have been told that one of the very large firms has now deferred or cancelled plans to put off employees that it was considering before I made the annoucement
– Will the Minister for Customs and Excise urgently arrange a Tariff Board inquiry into the claimed capacity of Tubemakers of Australia Limited and other Australian industries to fabricate the steel Gidgealpa-Sydney gas pipeline? Will the Minister table in this House for consideration and urgent discussion, firstly, the full details of the contract between the Australian Gas Light Company and the Mitsubishi company and, secondly, all proposals and activities related to this contract by the Australian Gas Light Company and other overseas firms for the sale and export of natural gas either from Gidgealpa or by an extension of the pipeline, from Palm Valley? Will the Minister defer consideration of the applicable tariff duty on this contract pending such inquiry, tabling and urgent discussion?
– The honourable gentleman would know that the powers that I have to refer such matters to the Tariff Board are restricted with regard to the question of bylaw entry. By-law entry can be granted by me if a suitable equivalent to the goods to be imported is not reasonably available in Australia. I also have power to make that decision without reference to the Tariff
Board. It has been my practice of late, since the ninth member was appointed to the Tariff Board with a view to expediting these matters, of referring difficult cases or cases of some complexity to the Tariff Board. One difficulty here is that it does take time and it is my hope that this matter, which has been aired very much in the Press recently, can be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
At this time, negotiations and discussions are taking place between the parties concerned and my Department with a view to establishing whether material, which in fact would constitute a suitable equivalent, can be sourced and produced in Australia. I am hopeful that the matter can be resolved to the satisfaction of Australian industry and, at the same time, of the company that wishes to construct the line so that the best of all worlds can be achieved and so that Australian industry can absorb this work to the full extent of its capacity, thus ensuring the maximum of employment. At the same time, I hope that the amount of the order which cannot be so satisfied in Australia can be imported without the unnecessary impact of the duty, thus reducing basic unit costs for industry and keeping inflation at bay. I believe that any further comment at this stage from me or any other honourable member would be counterproductive, because negotiations are taking place. I would prefer those negotiations between the parties involved to take place in the privacy of discussion rather than from the rooftops, with the parties shouting at each other through the medium of newspapers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Have our greatest years of prosperity been when Australia received an influx of migrants? Is it a fact that the Labor Government of Western Australia, prior to the Brand Administration, refused to take migrants and that that State had the greatest incidence of unemployment? Was the position reversed when the Brand Administration took office and welcomed migrants?
– I believe that, in general terms, the situation as stated by the honourable gentleman is correct. It is certainly true that it would not have been possible for Australia to develop, in terms of economic growth, per capita income and employment, without the large scale post-war immigration programme which has been directed specifically and expertly to satisfying shortages of labour and Australia’s other needs. Whenever States or others have departed from that approach, the consequences stated by the honourable gentleman when he instanced Western Australia have come about. I believe that should a Labor government in Western Australia or a possible future Labor Federal government announce its intention to withdraw from the specific approach to immigration that has proved so successful over the years and to confine it purely to the whims of people already in Australia - that policy has been enunciated and was made even clearer recently by the Leader of the Opposition in Queensland - it will be disastrous for Australia. No longer would we have the process by which an expert immigration service selects the people with the skills and of the categories we require and the economic growth, advancement and development which Australia has had in the past would not be fired.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry: When did he become aware that the Australian Gas Light Company required a large quantity of steel pipe to convey gas to New South Wales? Did AGL delay a decision on this matter beyond the date when the South Australian gas fields had been proved? Was Australian industry given adequate specifications to allow an effective tender to be submitted? What action has the Government taken to clarify the array of claims and counter-claims on this matter and to ensure that a decision is made in the national interest?
– My Department became involved in this matter early in the year - I do not know what month it was - and then became further involved in it as a result of representations from both sides of the House. I think the honourable member himself made representations on it in May. The role of the Office of Secondary Industry in the Department of Trade and Industry was mainly to provide a liaison service between the Australian Gas Light Company and the Australian companies that might be suppliers of the type of equipment necessary for the construction of this pipeline and the distribution lines. Our efforts have been to see that the Australian companies were given an opportunity to tender for the work that was to be carried out. My Department has been told by AGL that it provided the necessary specifications for Australian firms to tender but they have not been able to fulfil the specifications required.
– In whole or in part?
– Well, I do not think there was any question that the Australian industry could not supply all the large diameter piping and I think the Australian industry accepted this. Our main objective was to see whether part of the contract could be supplied by Australian firms. But up to this point of time the Australian Gas Light Company has said that the specifications have not been satisfactory and so it has given a contract to a Japanese firm. However, I am led to believe that within that contract there is still the opportunity for some Australian supply and discussions are taking place at the moment - I believe there will be further discussions this afternoon - between the Australian industries and the Australian Gas Light Company in a hope that part of the contract will go to Australian firms. It is certainly my hope and desire that Australian firms will be able to get part of the contract.
– Are you pushing for lt?
-Order! The honourable member has asked his question.
– Well, I do not know how much one can push other than to say that one is hoping and is disappointed that the order has gone to Japan. I have expressed these views. But I think one has to be very cautious at this stage about making too much of a political issue out of the matter before it is properly resolved.
Two prime interests have to be kept in mind. One is the interest of the consumers who will be serviced. We have to see that they get a good service at the most economical price. The second consideration is that we do not infringe basic principles - that is, we want to see commercial decisions being made by commercial firms themselves without too much intrusion by the Government. We certainly know the doctrinaire approach that would take place if a Labor Government were in office. The Labor Party does not seem to apply these principles everywhere because it is quite happy to import butter from New Zealand. It has no principles as far as rural industries are concerned. I conclude my answer by saying that I am hopeful that negotiations will be successful so as to allow at least part of the contract to go to Australian firms, and it is certainly the wish of the Government that that should happen.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the Prime Minister noted the visit to Peking by Prime Minister Tanaka of Japan to heal the breach which has existed between Japan and China for 80 years? Has he further noted the success of United States exporters, following president Nixon’s visit to Peking, in selling aircraft parts and 500,000 tons of wheat? In view of the fall in our trade with China from $168m 10 years ago to $37m in 1971-72, will he consider some new iniative with China which will get his Government off the slow boat which is leaving us so far behind the rest of the world in China trade and which is in fact leaving us somewhat lonely?
– It is a pity that some people try to get trade and politics mixed up together because, as had already been demonstrated in this House, a good deal of harm and embarrassment has been caused to one major Australian industry by political interference and suggestion. This Government certainly is trying to keep the 2 areas separate. Trade between Australia and the People’s Republic of China is progressing very successfully, probably with the only exceptions of only wheat and zinc. It is interesting to look at some of our export figures. The figures for many of our exports are the highest we have had. For instance, the sale of manufactured goods is up to $7.6m this year, which is the highest figure we have had for manufactures. This is related largely to iron and steel and organic chemicals. We see also that our sales of processed primary products are up to $22m this year compared with only $1.7m last year. If we look back over the years we find that these sales have never been higher than about $4m. This is an indication that we are having remarkable success in trading a variety of products with China.
It will be seen that we have sold $7. 6m worth of pig iron to China. We have done reasonably well this year with the sale of wool. This includes washed wool, scoured wool and tops. We sold $500,000 worth this year whereas we had not sold that amount in the previous 2 years. We have sold $9m worth of aluminium this year compared with only $400,000 last year. We have sold $5m worth of tallow this year whereas previously we had sold only a few hundred thousand dollars worth. These figures are a fair indication that our businessmen who are at the Canton Fair are doing reasonably well. Our wool sales in this recent year to which I keep referring - 1971-72 - amounted to $6.3m compared with $2.4m the previous year. So in almost every area our sales have increased. Of course, we have succeeded in making 2 sales of sugar to China where we have never had sales before. The honourable member for Dawson made a plea to this House not to get politics tied up with trade because it might interfere with the sale of sugar. That was pretty good advice but it is a pity that he had not realised this when he was talking about wheat.
It is obvious that there is a very good trading link between the 2 countries. It is our aim to normalise that trade as much as possible. My Department has given every encouragement and help to Australian firms. The Department has put out a booklet giving them full advice on how to make contact with Chinese agencies. We have encouraged Australian businessmen to go to the Canton Fair each year, and something like 100 businessmen have gone. My Department keeps in close contact with the Chinese marketing agencies in Hong Kong so that there is an exchange of information to enable trade to take place on normal conditions.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry, refers to the States
Grants (Fruit Growing Reconstruction) Bill 1972. Can the provisions of this Bill be invoked to assist growers in the dried vine fruits and citrus fruits industries if it became necessary because of over production, marketing difficulties or some other adverse circumstances?
– Although the Bill to which the honourable gentleman’s question refers is certainly oriented specifically to the canned fruits industry and to the pome fruits industry, it is true also that it is applicable to any other horticultural industry, subject to certain conditions. The conditions are generally that the fruit should have a growing period of 5 years and a bearing life of approximately 10 years. Of course, the person making the application should be in a position of some financial difficulty. Since the scheme itself is closely aligned to the rural reconstruction scheme, it is necessary that the financial circumstances of the applicant be taken into account. In addition it is necessary that the circumstance of the industry be one of over supply. The exigencies following Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community are such that in the pome fruits industry and the canned fruits industry that circumstance certainly is present. But it is intended that the scheme should be available to the dried fruits industry, the citrus industry and other horticultural industries subject to those industries being able to meet the criteria to which I have referred.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Supply by reminding him of the imminent retrenchments by Hawker de Havilland Aust. Pty Ltd, the Sydney element of the aircraft industry. I ask: What action does the Government intend to take to find immediate work load for this basic defence establishment to prevent it closing its doors? How can the Government claim to be concerned about Australia’s defence when its key defence industries are in a state of disintegration?
– As the honourable member will no doubt know, I received in Parliament House last week a deputation from certain union representatives and employees of Hawker de Havilland. As I have Indicated to the House on a number of occasions, discussions have been going on with elements of the aircraft industry in Australia to determine the best way to deal with its present difficulties. The Government has recently put into production, as the House is aware, the Turana target drone, the Nomad aircraft, and it has before it several proposals for increased work load. Yesterday in Sydney I had discussions with the management of the 2 private elements of the aircraft industry to consider, in line with the Government’s earlier announcement, various rationalisation proposals and various courses aimed at building a firmer industry and one with a more stable work-load. The aircraft industry is an industry which is subject to peaks and troughs of work. This is the case in this industry all over the world. The Government will do its utmost to obtain a work-load to make it smoother and sustained over a longer period. In respect of the factory to which the honourable member referred, certain points were raised at the deputation which I have had my officers examine with a view to ascertaining what can be done in the near future.
– My question which is directed to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Primary Industry is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Riverina. Does the reported sale of United States wheat to the People’s Republic of China mean that there is now full diplomatic recognition between these 2 countries, or does it simply highlight the absurdity of claims that wheat contracts flow only as a result of diplomatic recognition? In view of seasonal conditions in Australia and the reported commitment of 70 million bushels of export wheat from the next harvest, what quantity of wheat could Australia now offer to other than traditional markets?
– My understanding of the position between the United States and China is that diplomatic relations have not been established in that neither as yet recognises the other. But it is true that the visit of President Nixon to China represents, as indeed does the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to China, a significant advance in the furthering of relations between the East and the West. One would hope that this might lead towards a further introduction of the Chinese nation into the gatherings of the world. This, of course, is an aspiration towards which all Australians, I think, would give endorsement. As to trade connections between China, Australia and America I think the figures which my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry gave to the House this day effectively demonstrates how Australia, working as it has consistently on a commercial basis, has been able, over a significant range of commodities, to increase its volume of trade with China irrespective of diplomatic recognition.
I am told that the sale of wheat by the United States to China was a result of a French vendor’s being unable to supply it. There was a renegotiation of the sale from United States sources. I think that in looking at Australian stocks it needs to be accepted that for a long time the trend in world wheat sales was downward in price with a general lengthening of the terms of payment. In the last few months the trend has been completely reversed. I have mentioned in this House the sale of one million tons of Australian wheat to the Soviet Union for cash. In addition, in the last 6 weeks there has been a significant finning in world prices of wheat. I think that Australians, and particularly Australian wheatgrowers should recognise that if they can be paid cash and a higher price then, of course, they are the beneficiaries. For that reason one needs to look at the record of the Wheat Board in its sales throughout the world and take into account not only that it has been successful but also that it has been successful in current market terms and these, of course, ensure to the wheat grower the very best advantage that can be obtained. I believe that there are reasonable prospects for sales of this year’s wheat crop. The tragedy of the present year is that unfortunately seasonal conditions are still so uncertain in much of eastern Australia. Of course, that is something over which no government has any control whatsoever.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: What is the basis of the dispute between his Department and the New South Wales Maritime Services Board on the responsibility for removing the 3 ferries which were wrecked at South West Rocks 8 or 9 months ago? How soon and on what terms does he expect that this dispute will be resolved?
– I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the information. I was unaware that there was a dispute going on between my Department-
– There has been a correspondence between the Premier and the Prime Minister about it.
– I repeat, I was unaware that there was a dispute between my Department and the Maritime Services Board in the terms of the question. I will obtain information about the dispute and supply it to the Leader of the Opposition.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question which is supplementary to one asked some weeks ago by the honourable member for Lalor relating to offences against the National Service Act. What now is the position in relation to that draft-evading gentleman from Victoria who seeks to represent the Australian Labor Party in this House, with the goodwill of the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, if not that of the Leader of the Opposition?
– The position with regard to Mr Barry Johnston who, of course, is the opponent of my colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise in the electorate of Hotham, shows no change, notwithstanding the fact that, behind the scenes of course, there has been very considerable activity in seeking a solution to a problem which has bedevilled the Leader of the Opposition and which continues to bedevil him because that solution is outside his persona] control. The case of Mr Barry Johnston m Victoria shows without any shadow of doubt whatsoever the incapacity of the Leader of the Opposition to bring strength to bear in a situation in which he realises, above of all other people in his party, that Mr Barry Johnston’s continuing to stand for the seat of Hotham is a matter of absolute embarrassement not just to himself personally or as Leader of the Opposition, but in fact to the whole of the Australian Labor Party.
-Order! I suggest to the Minister that while his remarks are most interesting to a great number of members of the House they are outside the ambit of the question that was asked.
– I accept that indeed, Mr Speaker. The point that one is seeking to make is that this is not just a matter of interest to the House: It is a matter of very great significance to the Australian electorate. So far as the specific question which is posed by the honourable gentleman is concerned, there is in fact no change. Mr Barry Johnston is in default of the National Service Act. He is subject to a warrant of apprehension by the Commonwealth Police. Members of the Commonwealth Police have been searching for Mr Johnston but they have not been able to ascertain his whereabouts. No doubt, in that sense there are persons on the other side of the House who could be very helpful if they were prepared to be.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether the Government has abandoned the proposal to build a $50m centralised Commonwealth office complex at Wooloomooloo to accommodate approximately 15,000 public servants. Would such a project add intolerable congestion to the inner Sydney area and prevent development of much needed housing and recreation areas? Will the Minister uphold the principles of decentralisation by supporting the proposal that this complex should be dispersed to such places as Parramatta, Blacktown, Sutherland and certain country regions?
– The Government is considering the recommendation of the Public Works Committee with respect to the proposed Wooloomooloo offices construction.
– Have a look at Melbourne while you are about it.
– ‘Honourable members will remember that the Government referred to the Public Works Committee a proposal for a 5-stage office block construction to accommodate approximately 15,000 servants. The difficulty that the Government now faces is that in the central city area the Government will have to continue to pay fairly high rentals for offices to accommodate public servants who must be located in the central Sydney region. The Government is looking, and has been looking for some time, at the prospect of locating elements of the Public Service in other regions of New South Wales. We are considering, and have been considering, the possibility of locating Commonwealth office blocks in Parramatta and other sections of western Sydney.
– Why did you not propose it?
– We will also be looking at the possibility of locating elements in other rural areas of New South Wales but I would like-
-Order! In spite of my warning the honourable member for Reid continues to interject.
Mr Les Johnson - I rise to a point of order. I think you have done the honourable member for Reid an injustice, Mr Speaker. It is I who was interjecting.
– I am sorry. I apologise to the honourable member for Reid.
– I would like to remind the House that the Commonwealth Government will have a requirement to locate Commonwealth offices in central Sydney at some stage because of the high rentals being paid for private accommodation.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that 4 Australian factories producing polythene coated cotton gloves have gone out of production and have closed down? Is he aware that the only surviving company - MSA - producing these gloves is awaiting a decision from the Tariff Board but cannot carry on beyond the end of this month unless it receives tariff protection? Is it possible for a decision to be made this week?
– I did not hear the name of the product referred to by the honourable member in his question. I will read his question in Hansard and give him a reply.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is aware of the dire financial circumstances of farmers, especially wheat growers, in the central west and north western areas of New South Wales in particular, due to a long and disastrous drought. Is he prepared to recommend that financial grants be made to those producers so that they may have their next plantings prepared and may hope for another season?
– I am delighted to hear that the Australian Labor Party is at long last being solicitous of the wellbeing of the primary producers and particularly wheat growers. When I was replying to a previous question I mentioned the concern which I have, and which I think most of us share, about the prevailing weather conditions in eastern Australia. Those weather conditions are such that the volume of harvest is very much in doubt and many wheat growers have been placed in a critical position. Fortunately in much of eastern Australia over the last few years a range of summer crops has been developed. These summer crops give in most areas a prospect of quite reasonable returns and they mean that, whereas a few years ago farmers had a prospect only of a wheat cheque, today they have a very good prospect of getting a return from a summer crop as well or alternatively.
At this stage it is premature to make a judgment on the yield from this year’s wheat crop. It is true that it is likely to be well below the expected quota but when the expected harvest is in the bags it might be possible to make an assessment of the circumstances of the rural community and if there is a necessity for any aid to be provided the matter will be considered at that time. I know that my colleague, the honourable member for Gwydir, is similarly placed with the problem to which the honourable gentleman has referred. Indeed all of us in wheat growing areas are concerned about the position. I repeat that I believe it is premature to make a judgment on the issue at this stage.
– Mc Speaker, 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misreprepresented.
– Yes. I was reported in the ‘West Australian’ yesterday as criticising the Liberal Party for a letter addressed to doctors which urged them to use their special position of confidence and privilege in the consulting room to campaign against the Australian Labor Party. In the same report some doubt as to the existence of such a letter was implied by the Leader of the State Opposition, Sir Charles Court, who said in the first place that the Liberal Party would not go beyond doing what was right and proper, and secondly and more specifically, mat if the Australian Labor Party had documentary evidence it should produce it. To answer that implication and also to allow the Prime Minister to answer the question on the same subject put to him this morning, I seek leave to table a photostat copy of a letter under the letterhead of the Liberal Party of Australia (Western Australian Division) and signed by the State President of the Liberal Party of Australia (Western Australian Division). I point out that there is one deletion from the photostat I tender, namely, the name of the doctor to whom it was originally (addressed. The letter also includes a gross distortion of the Australian Labor Party health programme, which is not the subject pf today’s dispute.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Pursuant to Section 31 of the Atomic Energy Act 1953-1966, I present the 20th annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission for the year ended 30th June 1972 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 78 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 1972, 1 present the 40th annual report-
-Order! There is far too much audible conversation. I can see some members straining in an endeavour to hear the Postmaster-General. Their difficulty is caused by the incessant chatter that goes on in the chamber. I think it is really time we took a stern look at ourselves.
– Why does the Minister not-
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is all very well to abuse the House for not listening to people such as the Postmaster-General, but if he would look at the House and speak to us we would be able to hear him.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I suggest that if the honourable member for Wills and other members of this House were to obey the Standing Orders they would find that the Postmaster-General would be able to be heard.
– It is not often that there is a complaint that I cannot be heard. 1 speak into the microphone. I shall start again. Pursuant to section 78 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 1972, I present the 40th annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– Before the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) leaves the chamber-
– He’s back; he has been posted back.
- Mr Speaker, if all the interjections of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) were as good as that we would both forgive him.
– Some of them are not though.
– Some deliveries must get through. I wish to make a personal explanation. The Postmaster-General reminds me that, somewhat to my surprise and distress, he misrepresented me in a letter that he has distributed to a great number of people.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been given copies of letters that the PostmasterGeneral has sent to correspondents who have complained about his attitude towards current affairs programmes on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The honourable gentleman concludes his letter with these words:
You will, no doubt, be interested in the following statements by Mr E. G. Whitlam, Leader of the Australian Labor Party, at the ABC staff conference last year:
It would be “dishonest” for me to assert that the ABC would be free of criticism and free of pressure under a Labor Government.’
I interpose that the Postmaster-General put the word ‘dishonest’ in quotation marks although there are no such marks in the text of my address. It continued:
I confess there is an authoritarian streak in my party as strong as exists among my opponents.’
That is the end of the quotation from my address to the Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association federal conference in Sydney on 4th June last year. 1 would have thought that if the PostmasterGeneral, to whom I made some proper and generous reference in my address, was wishing to slate my attitude accurately he at least would have added what I went on to say, namely:
What I hope to do is to create an atmosphere, chiefly through Parliament, but also through the Public Service and through the Labor Party itself, where free debate, free discussion and free information are the norm, the standard, and in which the authoritarians in our society have to justify themselves, where they do not, as they now have, all the cards stacked in their favour.
– Curtin - Minister for Supply) - I present the following papers:
Taxation - Taxation Statistics 1970-71, supplement to the 50th Report of the Commissioner of Taxation, dated 1st September 1972, and 51st Report of the Commissioner of Taxation dated 1st September 1972. and move:
That the papers be printed.
Might 1 say that honourable members will recall that it is the practice of the House to agree forthwith to the motion to print these papers so that they will be covered by parliamentary privilege. This course has the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). When the motion for the printing of the papers has been agreed to the papers will be circulated to honourable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Funds Act 1947-1950, I present the twenty-fourth annual report of the trustees of the Services Canteens Trust Fund for the year ended 31st December 1971, together with the report of the Auditor-General on the books and accounts of the fund as required by section 35 of the Act.
– pursuant to section 10 of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1930-1963, I present a statement of moneys received and expended during the year ended 30th June 1972 by the Commonwealth in the administration and development of the Australian Capital Territory.
– by leave - Honourable members will recall that in answer to questions in the House last year the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) indicated that existing Government policy in relation to the provision of housing in Canberra for Ministers would be reviewed. The Government has now completed that review. The Government believes that is right that Ministers should continue to have access to accommodation in Canberra that accords with the responsibilities they have to carry out. Ministers have to spend a considerable time in Canberra whether Parliament is sitting or not and it is in the interests of the Government, of the administration, and of the country that they should be encouraged to live in Canberra and be assisted by having suitable accommodation available to them. It is also reasonable in these circumstances that Ministers should be able to bring their families to Canberra and establish their homes here, at least temporarily if they wish to do so.
The Government has concluded that furnished or unfurnished flat or house accommodation should be made available to Ministers who wish to live in Canberra. But there are 2 new elements. Houses will be occupied by Ministers only while they remain in the Ministry and there will be no right of purchase. Ministers who occupy houses made available by this Government will be required to vacate within a reasonable time after they leave the Ministry, although if they wish they will then be given priority in renting a government flat. Finally, I would add that it may be appropriate that the whole matter of housing for Ministers should be placed on a statutory basis; the Government will be giving further attention to this aspect.
- Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a short statement on the same subject.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I agree with most of the sentiments which have been expressed by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). However, I wonder whether the Minister would also give consideration to some aspects pertaining to back bencher members, who are in a somewhat similar situation, not of necessity in regard to housing but in regard to amenities for back benchers and particularly for members of the Opposition. I refer mainly to the use of Commonwealth vehicles. I have had private discussions with the Minister on this subject on previous occasions. I think it is ridiculous that junior Commonwealth public servants should have access to Commonwealth cars to travel around Canberra when, if a member of the Parliament, be he an Executive member or a back bencher, wants to travel to an office on a matter pertaining to his electorate, he must do so in a taxi cab.
- Mr Speaker. I seek leave to make a short statement.
– Order! Is leave granted?
MrChipp - No.
– Leave is not granted.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. You may have misunder stood me. I was seeking leave to make a statement on the statement made by the Minister for the Interior.
– That was the impression that I had and, as far as I know, the Leader of the House has said no. There can be no further debate on the matter.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, I present the reports relating to the following proposed works:
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Debate resumed from 31st August (vide page 1014), on motion by Mr Garland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Gift Duty Bill and the Gift Duty Assessment Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions may of course be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 3 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) who is the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) when introducing these Bills said very little about them. His second reading speeches on the Estate Duty Assessment Bill, the Gift Duty Bill and the Gift Duty Assessment Bill were quite brief. I draw the attention of the
House to the fact that the last time that any amendments to this legislation were put forward was more than 2 years ago, on 21st April 1970. On that occasion, on behalf of my Party, I moved the following amendment to the Estate Duty Assessment Bill 1970:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: realising that some estate planning may already have been effected following the promise of this legislation on 24th September 1969, the passage of this limited Bill which offers some measure of relief from death duties in the rural sector is not opposed, but the House is of opinion that it is inadequate, as it fails to recognise -
the extension of liability for and the burden of Federal and State death duties resulting from the pressure of inflation,
the particularly critical situation of-
the relatively small farm in the rural sector, and
the small business unit in the industrial and commercial sectors, where in both cases a large part of the estate is in a non-liquid form, the dismemberment of which to meet the tax liability destroys the basis of efficient operation, and
that difficulties are aggravated by the joint operations in this field of the Commonwealth and the States.
The House considers that these matters should be fully examined with a view to early relief being afforded by further amendments of the Act’.
I repeat that this amendment was moved on 21st April 1970. When a vote was taken on the amendment, it was defeated by 61 votes to 52, with all Government supporters opposing the amendment and, of course, with members of the Australian Labor Party supporting it. In nearly 21 years since that time, there has been a great deal of agitation about this matter, particularly in the rural areas, because the impact of estate duties or, as they are called at some State levels, probate duties, has been particularly harsh on rural properties.
To some extent, the measure that is now before us will slightly remedy that situation because it will virtually double the statutory exemption level. The value of the estate that will be liable for duty will increase to a sum of $40,000 in respect of non-rural properties where the estate passes to a close relative and to $48,000 in the case of rural properties. When we debated this legislation on the last occasion I pointed out the national importance of farming properties in the United Kingdom. I suggest that the same comment applies to Australia, that farms of particular kinds are of tremendous significance to the Australian economy not only because they provide a means of livelihood for a relatively small number of people but also because of their export earnings. Not only do we feed ourselves adequately but we also have an abundance of things like wheat, canned and dried fruit and sugar left over to trade with other parts of the world. This was recognised a long time ago in the United Kingdom, and over there this kind of property receives virtually a double exemption.
The legislation that was introduced here in .1970 and the amendment we are now contemplating at least draw some narrow distinction between the exemption for farm properties and for other properties. For farm properties there will be an exemption of $48,000 instead of $40,000- a margin of $8,000. At the moment a Senate committee is taking evidence about this very important field of taxation. It seems rather odd that this amendment should have been brought in now. Although it gives some relief to the estate of anybody who dies subsequent to the date of the introduction of the Budget, by no means does it grapple with the manifest problem that exists. I think that some notice should have been taken of the amendment that was moved by the Opposition more than 2 years ago that a comprehensive committee of inquiry into this field of taxation should have been set up. Honourable members should bear in mind that it is a field in which the States as well as the Commonwealth operate and that the basic exemptions have become grotesquely unreal because of inflation and because in some respects inflation has had a harsher impact on property values than on anything else. These problems could have been given serious consideration during the last 2 years.
But, of course, this Government seems prompted to act only when the matter becomes one of electoral importance. I suppose, bearing in mind the realities of political parties, this is not altogether surprising, but it is nevertheless regrettable that the essential nature of deep seated problems is ignored because of short term political advantage. The Australian Labor Party is not offering any opposition to this legislation, lt is simply pointing out that the legislation does not go very far along the road to offer significant relief to small farms and also, in some respects, to small businesses. I am afraid that there is a great deal of confusion about the operation of this sort of tax. Sometimes some of the ills that are attributable to the operation of legislation in this field are put at the door of the Commonwealth when the greatest concern is often about the operation of the law in the State field. We cannot do much directly at this stage about altering the State law. We are certainly altering the exemption in the Federal field.
Fresh statistics were tabled here just a short time ago. I have not yet been able to look at them. When one takes into account all the annual deaths in Australia one sees that only about 17,000 estates are liable for Federal duty. The effect of this Bill will be to cat that number in half. At least it can be seen that a relatively small part of the population is directly affected. The annual deaths in Australia number about 100,000, but the number of estates liable for Federal estate duty is about 17,000. A disproportionate number of those estates are in the field of primary production. I think that between one-quarter and onethird of all the estates liable for duty in Australia derive from primary production. Of course, we all know that nothing like one-quarter to one-third of the total Australian population derives its income directly from primary production. That simply highlights the reality that these estates are liable to this duty mainly because of the valuation of the principal asset in the estate, which is the farm property.
There is another area of disturbance which this Bill does very little to remedy. Sometimes because people are not as well aware of the law as others are and are not able to put their endeavour into partnership or private company form but continue, either because they like it that way or out of ignorance, to operate as sole traders, what was originally one estate can bear 2 lots of duty in a relatively short span of time. This is one of the great bones of contention at the moment as far as rural’ properties are concerned. A farm in the name of the husband may be left to the wife on the decease of the husband. Often the ages of the husband and wife are within a few years of each other, and it is likely that the wife will die within a relatively short time after the decease of the husband. Then the estate becomes liable for duty again. I think there is a case to be made for some abatement where that sort of circumstance arises.
Let us look at the statistics contained in the annual reports of the Commissioner of Taxation. The last one 1 have is for 1969- 70. The report for 1970-71 was tabled today. The report I have shows that that year, out of 16,000-odd estates that were dutiable, about half had values of less than $40,000 and nearly two-thirds had values of less than $50,000. But the total amount of duty that was paid by estates up to the $50,000 mark was only $4,300,000. So not much revenue would be lost by forgoing the duty to that level. I think that a lot more justice could have been done if there had been a much higher relative exemption for rural properties as against other properties, because it seems that what is regarded as a return on capital in a farm would never be tolerated as a return on capital somewhere else. People in the manufacturing industry talk about having a return on invested capital after tax of from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, but there are not many farms in Australia that could achieve anything like that sort of return. If one were to take into account the capital value of some farms, and if the farm could be realised at the figure determined by those who put the value on the property, in many respects one would be far better off as far as an annual return is concerned by simply selling that farm and investing the money received for it in Government bonds. But, of course, in many cases a farm cannot be sold because it provides a living to a family - a comfortable enough living perhaps but not a living that is consonant with the capital value of the property. I think that in many respects the methods of valuation are quite unreal. I do not know quite what the reason is for this kind of circumstance.
On another occasion when the House was considering legislation of the type before us I did a fair amount of work and obtained the minimum capital value of rural occupations of various kinds. I started with properties that were probably the smallest that could give a return. I was thinking, for example, of a poultry farm. 1 worked up to perhaps the dried fruit properties, through the sugar properties and so on to the pastoral properties, where in some instances, a property is not viable unless it has a capital establishment of well over $100,000. I think that even to establish a small sized poultry farm these days, taking into account a reasonable return comparable to wages paid to people employed in other industries, plus a return for the capital involved in the enterprise, one would still get into a minimum capital establishment of something like $35,000 to $40,000. Larger capital sums are involved when one is speaking of the more sophisticated types of properties. I am sure that the honourable members for Fisher (Sir Charles Adermann), and Maranoa (Mr Corbett) have some concept of the values of properties in their own areas which give a small but not extravagent living, and often just a bare living, to those who work them. They know that if the owner of a property died the property would have a large capital value placed upon it and this would place a burden on the inheritor for quite a number of years.
– It probably would send them bankrupt.
– in many cases it forces aggregation of assets and not in the direction that one would like. The tendency is for areas to be consolidated into company farms, which is not necessarily a desirable thing.
That is one side of this sort of proposition. I think the other consideration is that sometimes in order to remedy what are some obvious injustices in this field it is suggested that there should not be any probate or estate duty at all. I must assert straight away that I do not support that point of view. I think that when people leave large aggregations of assets often those assets are the result of inheritance in the first place. Sometimes they are the result of the skill of the person who accumulated the assets but often they are simply due to the fact that we have not had a proper system of taxation while they were accumulating. Quite a number of estates are worth $500,000 to Sim. I think that no-one should rule the community from the grave. When you are dead you are dead. The disposition of assets should not be under the dead hand for too long. But this is a different case from that of the liv ing who wish to inherit the viable property of the deceased and who find that that viability is afflicted by reason of the heavy impost of a estate duty. It seems to me that this problem could be separated from the general social purpose of taxing large estates. Australia has a much lower maximum rate of tax than applies in the United Kingdom and in other countries. As I indicated, at least the United Kingdom acknowledges the problem of the farm in relation to the total economic activity and gives that section of the community a double exemption as against that which applies to the rest of the community.
The other measure that is before us deals with gift duty. To some extent gift duty has been introduced as a form of taxation. Because of the devices that were being adopted by some people while living to remove the ultimate burden of the tax that would fall upon the estate - what is described as gifts inter vivos, a gift from the living to the living rather than an inheritance from the dead to the living - it was found necessary to tighten the net by introducing gift duty. Gift duty is imposed both at the State and Federal levels. Often there is some confusion about what tax one is paying and what the burdens are. The measure before us proposes to exempt sums of up to $10,000 from payment of gift duty, if they are made over a certain period of time. Of course, again, a social problem is raised. We have to consider whether there are many people within the community capable of distributing substantial gifts of money among their close relatives and friends during their lifetime, and if so at what level these gifts should be taxed. I do not think we have sufficient information in Australia as yet to be able to adjudicate upon these fine points.
There is a lot of talk, as we know, of introducing new types of taxes into the tax structure. A committee of inquiry is looking into this sort of thing. The committee is considering wealth taxes, some aspects of probate or estate duty, which is the tax applied at the time of death, as well as taxes on capital gains which, if taxed while they were accruing or while they were actually received could mitigate the effects of some of death taxes. These are all matters of social concern which should be studied closely by the community from time to time.
I am told by my colleagues who are members of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations that there has been a great deal of confusion in the evidence that has been submitted to that Committee so far. However, the general feeling seems to be that it would be a lot better if there were only one operator in the estate and gift duty field. It is considered that there should not be separate Stale and Commonwealth taxes in this field but that there should be one tax only. Also I am told that most people think the system would be more efficiently administered if estate and gift duty were levied only at the Federal level but that whatever revenue was collected should be paid to the States. These are some of the interesting sort of observations that have arisen from evidence heard before the Committee. The view has been expressed that the Commonwealth should vacate the field entirely and that this tax be left as a source of revenue to the States. But, as I have said, even those who advocate that the States should receive the money seem to believe that for efficiency reasons estate duty would be much better administered as a Commonwealth tax and the proceeds paid to the States, which themselves would determine the rates. I simply cite that view to indicate the kind of confusion that presumably exists in relation to operations in this field. I think it is a form of tax about which a great deal of emotion can be whipped up in advance. After all, most of the people living in Australia have not had much experience with the tax. It has been experienced only by those who are close relatives of a deceased person who has given them an inheritance. As I have indicated, this applies with more force in the rural field than in most other fields. It is around that, I think, that we have had a great deal of concern expressed in recent times. Some of the concern no doubt is well intentioned. I think a lot of it, unfortunately, is quite confused.
I have received quite a number of submissions on this subject myself. I have listened to a number of discussions about it and I have read some of the submissions that have been made to the Senate Committee. It certainly is an abstract field. I think it is a pity that there is not a lot more public and open discussion about its operations. I think at the moment that the most advantage is gained by those who can hire the best legal advice to determine how they should properly arrange the ownership of their assets while they are living. Insofar as some gain from that situation and others are penalised because they do not know about the operations of this tax, I think there is a case for at least some kind of better legal assistance which should be given to people in advance so that they can try to establish what their rights are. Nobody should pay more tax than necessary. If by being clever people avoid paying the taxes that the revenue believes it should collect, then the revenue is entitled to take all the steps it can to close the loopholes. There is never any excuse for ignorance of the law. It is pleaded as a legal maxim that ignorance of the law is no defence. But when a law is complicated one can hardly expect that the unpractised layman should be wise in the practices and operations of the law. So I believe that occasionally the doctrine needs to be mitigated by common sense. If there were a little more public discussion about this field, I think the situation would improve.
As I have indicated, we offer no objection to this legislation. I point out that on this side of the House we observe some of the injustices of the operation of this law. Some 2i years ago we moved an amendment suggesting that a committee of this House be appointed rather like the one that has since been set up by the Senate. Had that committee been set up 2i years ago no doubt it would have presented an informative report 18 months or so ago which would have enabled the framing of adequate legislation rather than this piece of legislation before us at the moment. This legislation, like the amendment to the law as it existed previously when the Government got the inspiration in September 1969 with an election in November 1969, seems to have been brought about by the Government getting the same inspiration and the impulse to act on the law just a month or 2 before the next election. I suppose it is a highly cynical exercise of legislative power to keep this sort of proposal as a kind of reserve up your sleeve. In other words, the Government’s attitude seems to be not to worry about it while things are going smoothly but to introduce it with the hope of wooing a few votes when the community has not been properly satisfied with the previous situation. I leave it at that.
– We have just listened to an address by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), the shadow Treasurer. His arguments boil down to the fact that the Australian Labor Party would have set up a committee some 21 years ago to inquire into this matter. The Labor Party moved an amendment to that effect and it was defeated, as it probably expected it would be, because that is the way things normally operate in this House. I do not know that the Opposition has been very active in trying to introduce any amendments since that time. I would have thought that if it was really sincere in its approach it might have made greater efforts between the time to which the honourable member referred and today. However, the position is that the Estate Duty Assessment Bill 1972 provides very much needed assistance and - this was not emphasised by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports - it provides this assistance in the area of greatest need. I would go along with any suggestion that greater assistance in this field should be given. The policy of my Party is that we should move for the gradual reduction of these death duties and then for their abolition.
Of course, we realise that this is not only a Commonwealth matter. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports pointed out, the imposition of death duties applies both to the Commonwealth and the States. Perhaps what the honourable member did not say was that the amount taken by the States ls substantially greater than that which is collected by the Commonwealth. If we are to look at this whole subject there is a need to examine the situation in relation to both the Commonwealth and the States. It is interesting to note that following the reduction in death duties imposed on primary production estates back in 1969, Queensland, the only State with a Country Party Premier, followed with a reduction in duties along similar lines to that which applied in the Federal sphere. The difference was that the Federal reductions applied to estates which had a 50 per cent or more rural content or rural income up to $140,000, and this gradually phased out until it got back to the original rate of some $250,000. In the States, however- I speak from memory here - the phasing out started at SI 20,000. So the reduction applied to estates with a rural income up to $120,000.
At that time we did see the Commonwealth example being followed by the Queensland Government, and I just wonder how many other State governments, whether they are Labor governments or otherwise have done anything of that nature. I feel that if full advantage is to be taken of this action being initiated by the Commonwealth it will have to be followed by all of the States if we continue to retain this dual assessment of death duties. I for one hope that the State governments take note of the fine lead being given to them by the Commonwealth Government and I hope they act accordingly as did the Queensland Government following the breakthrough, as I call it, in 1969 when this Government and this Parliament recognised the very great burden that death duties were imposing upon a particular section of the community - the people with assets connected with primary production.
There is a very great difference in the burden of death duties under particular circumstances. If a person’s assets are composed only of a viable, and sometimes barely viable, estate which is used for primary production then the liability for death duties makes that estate not viable. As an interjector said - I think it was the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) - in some instances it forces people into bankruptcy. Of course, this should not be tolerated. So there is a very big difference in the burden of death duties as they apply to these people compared with a person who owns an estate of similar value comprised, say, of stocks and shares or of parcels of real estate in cities. In the latter case a portion of the assets can be sold to meet death duty charges without adversely affecting the income earning capacity of the remainder of the estate.
It is against that background and in those circumstances that I submit full consideration should be given to the remedial action which can be taken to ease the burden of death duty. At the same time I believe it is necessary that the burden of death duty should be relieved right across the board. To illustrate my point, I instance the case of an owner of a property engaged in primary production who may get the legal advice which the honourable member for Melbourne Ports suggested could be made available. I agree with him. lt may be that a prudent person is tempted to sell his property to a son with the object of reducing the estate by the application of the benefits of gift duty. If he does this, the estate is not then an estate which qualifies under the conditions which apply to primary production estates and it becomes, therefore, a debt which is owed by the son to the father. I do not think it is a good thing to discourage the sale of a property to a son. I believe it is proper that a property should be handed over in this way with the object of retaining experienced people in the field of primary production in which . there is a tendency, brought about by fluctuating markets and seasonal conditions, for people to abandon this type of occupation. We must look at every aspect of death duties in an endeavour to assist people engaged in primary production to obtain from their capital investment something similar to what they can obtain from capital investment in other industries. There is a need for this to be looked at very closely.
I commend the Government very warmly on the proposed benefits. I draw attention to the way in which this Bill has been designed to give the greatest benefits to those who I feel are in the greatest need although I do not say that I am opposed to giving greater benefits to all. One point which has to be looked at very closely relates to estates going wholly to the spouse, children or grandchildren of the deceased. This is a very important aspect because on many occasions families engaged in primary production have managed, over a great number of years, to make their farms viable. Possibly they could have gone into something else which would have been of greater benefit to themselves but due to loyalty to their parents they have continued in primary production and have run into very heavy costs. For an estate which passes to the spouse, children or grandchildren of the deceased, provided it is a wholly rural property, the exemption is now lifted to $48,000. I hope that the limit will be increased. This provision will also provide a benefit to other than primary production estates with the general exemption becoming $40,000, but in my opinion the margin is not great enough and I feel that it could be expanded. Nevertheless, I welcome the exemption to estates other than primary production estates because I believe that this is a desirable step. The inflationary trend has made the burden of death duties very much greater.
It is worthy of note that in the case of estates other than primary production estates passing to other beneficiaries the exemption cuts out at $20,000. The families of deceased owners will receive greater benefits to which I feel they are entitled. I hope that this aspect of the Government’s policy will be extended. I cannot accept that a family with a primary production estate, even though it is carrying a burden of debt, can be reasonably viable one day and virtually insolvent the next day as a result of the imposition of death duties. This is something which will have to be looked at closely. I think the Government is to be commended very warmly for taking this step forward but it should not stop there. This should be examined more carefully to ascertain whether greater benefits can be given particularly to those families in the categories to which I have referred, that is, immediate relatives and those who qualify under the classification of spouse, children or grandchildren of the deceased. I think that is where the first and most important need applies. The benefit to be obtained by them is very substantial.
On the basis of existing legislation it is estimated that the collections of estate duty will increase by approximately $2,750,000 to S70m following a decrease of $2,867,000 in 1971-72. The changes in the relevant provisions as announced in the Budget Speech are estimated to cost revenue in 1972-73 some S3m, reducing collections to $67m. The granting of increased benefits has cost the Government this year about S3m and, of course, it will be greater in a. full year. I think from memory it is about $19m. The cost to revenue of the estate duty proposal which will apply to estates of persons whose death occurs after 16th August, is S19m in a full year. The benefits that will be obtained will cost only fi 9m but it will relieve a large number of people of part of the burden of death duties.
A considerable number of people will benefit from the provisions in this legislation. The shading-in provisions will have the effect of reducing duty payable on estates with a value up to 5 times the exemption limit. Only 5 per cent of estates which would be dutiable under present law will not experience some reduction in duty. An expenditure of $19m annually will give benefits which will be spread over a fairly wide field. I emphasise again that the greatest benefit will go to those people who need it most. It is this aspect which I want to emphasise so strongly. If we increase benefits I hope that they will continue to be channelled into the hands of the immediate family of the deceased. Should the Government decide to phase out duties in other areas, then this should come about as a follow-up to the giving of greater benefits to the wives, children and grandchildren of the deceased.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports raised several matters and referred to a lot of figures. The number of estates of which would be dutiable will be halved. The Government has given very serious consideration to this matter of estate duty. It has come down with a decision, without the benefit of recommendations by a committee, which is a very practical one and which will give at fairly low cost to the community very real benefits to a needy section in the community. From previous experience I am inclined to think that committees often get bogged down and get into all sorts of problems. They have difficulty in arriving at a conclusion. I give credit to this Government for going ahead without the Committee and bringing down a Bill which gives very great benefit to that most deserving section of the community within this field of taxation. I emphasise again that it will be necessary for the State again to follow the lead, as Queensland did, if we are to get this real benefit if, as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said, the Commonwealth were to collect that amount of money and distribute it to the States, certainly the States other than Queensland, which do not have perhaps quite as understanding a government, would have the benefits which the Queensland Government extended to its people. That may be the most effective way of dealing with this matter.
I conclude on this note: The benefits that have been given under this Bill stand very clearly as a very fine example of the recognition by the Commonwealth of the need for action. I do not take it that this is the ultimate in this field. I believe that we can look at it again. With the application of a similar amount of money we can do a tremendous amount to assist people who need most to get this benefit. It is not only a benefit to them individually. It is also a tremendous benefit in the continued operation of industry - primary industry in particular - by people who are experienced in that field and who are prepared to suffer tha very great difficulties, the uncertainties of world markets and the uncertainties of seasonal conditions. We have to give them the opportunity to build up reserves which are very necessary if we are to maintain some sort of viability across the board in the field of primary production. So I go along with the idea that this Bill will do a tremendous amount of good. I hope it will be followed in the future by even further benefits in the field of death duties.
– In the past 3 years of rural and urban recession there has been no burden for those that are concerned, heavier or more resented than the death tax of probate. The tragedy, as has been pointed out by my friend and colleague the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), is that it falls on a comparatively small number of people to meet the full burden of this impost. It has caused great personal hardship particularly throughout the countryside, led to the destruction of family farms and even to the break-up of families themselves in tragic circumstances, trying to meet an impossible tax conceived 2 generations ago and allowed to grow into a mindless, inflexible Frankenstein monster which has devoured and destroyed. If these terms seem somewhat harsh and fanciful I invite honourable members to direct their attention to some of the cases I have to mention.
The Government, under this legislation, has acted but it has acted tardily and inadequately. The present proposals will go no further than relieving some 40 per cent of the cases, according to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) in his statement at Condobolin the other day, or some SO per cent if we take the assessment of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in this House. But the legislation leaves the tax with all its inequality and the fact that it applies only to the little man - to the family enterprise whether it is a farm or a business. The rich still have the means to avoid the tax. The family enterprise in most cases has not.
After all this hardship and all the pOSturings in the countryside by the Government, it is as well to recall that we of the Opposition on 21st April 1970, moved the following amendment to the Estate Duty Assessment Bill - the Bill which has caused so much trouble. On that date the honourable member for Melbourne Ports actually moved that the words to be inserted in place of those to be omitted were: realising that some estate planning may already have been effected following the promise of this legislation on 24th September 1969, the passage of this limited Bill which offers some measure of relief from death duties in the rural sector is not opposed, but the House is of opinion that it is inadequate, as it fails to recognise -
the particularly critical situation of -
The House considers that these matters should be fully examined with a view to early relief being afforded by further amendments of the Act’.
This is not an amendment which would have brought down the Government; it would not even have held up the Government’s Bill; but it would have perhaps brought this relief more quickly. Yet every single country member on the Government benches voted against it. Now, 2 years later, they come up with further limited relief.
There is no equality in death in Australia. It even depends on where you live as to how much you pay. If you live and die in Canberra on an estate of $100,000 you pay only $12,000, but if you live in New South Wales the combined Federal and State death duty bill is nearly $24,000. At a time when properties could not be sold and at a time when valuations were quite fictitious a death has meant disaster beyond the personal loss and grief. In many cases in the Riverina a $100,000 property in the past 3 years was worth that amount only to the Valuer-General, on an outdated basis. Put onto the market it would not have brought that amount. Yet the inflexible death tax law states that the value is the value at death.
Quite apart from that fact, the owner would have an overdraft and other commitments. Once he was required to sell the property to meet probate he faced bankruptcy and the destruction of the family enterprise. The tax has also led to racketeering. The men with the ready money - I came across an interest rate the other day charged at 36 per cent - who lent money not to await repayment, but to get possession. There was a case where a widow found herself with $188,704 in net capital aggregation and spent so much on death duty that when, after 8 years, she herself died she had not enough left to pay for her own funeral. That happened to be in Queensland, the State about which we have been hearing so much from some of the honourable members opposite.
The evidence given to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations inquiring into all aspects of death duties cited the case of a widow who was left $2m in Poseidon shares. Even if that were their paper value on the death of her husband the real value was $284,440. She faced a bill for death duties of $500,000. She was being asked to pay double her total assets. This is a case to illustrate the absurdity of the system as it exists. I make the plea of a Victorian widow to the Parliament. I have heard no more eloquent case put than this, from Mrs M. E. Carter of Mount Macedon who wrote only 2 weeks ago this plea for the widow: in addition to receiving no adequate allowance against taxation in payment for her many-sided career in the home all her married life, upon her husband’s death a widow can find herself entitled to absolutely nothing. Apart from a now inadequate share of the family home, she realises she is just a chattel who must prove ownership of every single item or pay duty, plus the heavy legal expenses involved, on everything.
And what, with no income, can she own? She is faced with this levy on savings, possessions and the fruits of 2 shared lives. Paying out of capital, her future livelihood is reduced; indeed, in some cases, a widow finds she is forced upon the charity of her family or even becomes an added burden on the State, And this at the most traumatic moment of her life; when she may be quite old and forced to face a contingency she and her husband made heavy sacrifices to avoid.
Should the husband, realising what the law imposes on his wife, attempt to protect her and then she dies first, he will be punished by having to pay the levy himself.
In view of the inextricable nature of a married couple’s affairs, is it not logical to abolish all death duties between them?
That was the eloquent plea of a Victorian widow. It actually costs $4m in Australia to collect the various death duties. But the yield in misery, in dislocation of enterprise and in the loss of income tax yielding assets is so much more. It would appear that the Government has reached the position outlined in this Bill. It rests on its oars. The countryside and the nation generally will certainly, in contrast, warmly welcome the announcement by the Leader of the Opposition at Cowra in New South Wales where he proclaimed the Opposition policy that the assets of a family enterprise, whether a farming enterprise or a business enterprise in the town, should not be diminished by the death of one of the members of the family. This commitment and this policy will certainly answer the plea of the widows and family numbers who have to face the hardships created by a tax which is shot full of anomalies.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch I was addressing myself to this Bill and I might say that it does not really make a very satisfying subject for lunch, bearing in mind all the difficulties that people in the countryside and urban areas have suffered in recent years because of this tax. The major point I wish to make is that the Government seems very definitely to have gone as far as it can go, or as far as it will go, in granting relief from probate tax. It has been very rightly described as a death tax. We of the Opposition reject any contention that this measure is the best that can be done, and I reiterate my enthusiastic support for the announcement by the Leader of the Opposition at Cowra, New South Wales, to which I referred before lunch. He said that the asset of a family enterprise, whether a farming enterprise or a business enterprise, should not be diminished by the death of one of the members of the family.
We definitely do not oppose the Bill, as it is a recognition of the problem, but all those people who in past years have cried for help should well note that on 21st April 1970 no Government supporter would listen to their cries for more to be done. We want to see further relief given. Today we accept what is before us in this measure but we serve notice that the alternative government of this country is pledged to end a system that attacks the very survival of family enterprise.
– The first thing that can be said about the Bill is that everybody seems to approve of the fact that the Government has done something. The second thing is that it is also said that the Government has not done enough. That has been said by each speaker in this debate, and I repeat it. Death taxes represent a very mean way of filling the coffers of state. They must be paid at a time when a family is having considerable, trouble and has enough to worry about. Several speakers in this debate have referred to cases in which grave difficulties have been imposed on people even to the. extent of bankruptcies caused by the breaking up of estates.
The whole idea of imposing taxation on an estate left by a man or woman does not seem to have any real justification. If people were building up a lot of assets at the expense of the state and at their deaths the Government caught up with them, one could better understand the logic of death taxes. There is perhaps some justification for death taxes in relation to the breaking up of large estates in Australia but we do not seem to be attacking the subject from that angle. The Treasury looks on probate duty as a way of raising money. I protest that there are very much better ways of raising the revenue of about $80m that comes from estate duty.
In the present Bill provision is made to double the level of exemption. That sounds very generous, but it is really only a very minor step. I doubt very much that the Government would have taken even that step but for the number of complaints that have been made. Through this legislation about one quarter of the people who under the old exemption levels would be liable for payment of estate duty will now be relieved of that payment. A saving will be made, but at the expense of the families themselves. The biggest discrimination is made against estates that are comprised largely of one asset, usually a farming property. Estates made up of farming properties suffer most from death taxes. All honourable members know of cases involving grave difficulties. I have no hesitation in saying that people do receive the utmost courtesy, sympathy and consideration from estate duty officials who have to administer the legislation and very often they help to make suitable arrangements; but it is beyond their powers not to collect the tax.
I believe that the Government has now moved because there has been such a public outcry. Senator Negus was elected to the other House purely and simply on a platform of the abolition of death taxes. He meant both State and Federal taxes, and it is unfortunate that both taxes should be imposed. I will not go further into that beyond saying that the principle is wrong. Senator Negus has pointed out that the difficulties imposed by the taxes outweigh the revenue that is gained from them. Obviously the people agree with him because he was elected as an independent senator purely and simply on that count. He has found that it is rather difficult for an independent senator to get his way immediately, but if he has enough strength and fortitude to follow it up and keep going until his voice is heard - as has happened - he will get a public following to which even governments must listen.
I am reliably informed that Senator Negus has a petition with about 430,000 signatures which in due course he will present to the Senate. I suggest that the Government must take notice of that number of people. In the electorate of McMillan about a week ago I received a deputation which has been collecting signatures, all within the electorate and mostly in one part of it. The group came to my house and presented to me a petition with 2,202 signatures. It is a most unusual case, because the group did not want me to present the. petition to the House; it was brought to me personally. There are at least 2,202 people in my electorate who want me to do something about death taxes. My first move is to speak in this debate today, to bring home to the Government the fact that it has not gone far enough in this area.
We all agree that the Bill is most acceptable and we will vote for it. It will be gladly received by many people in years to come. However, it has 2 bad faults, the first of which is the close relationship between the exemption of $40,000 for ordinary estates and the exemption of only $48,000 for the estates of primary producers. This has been referred to by the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). Farm properties have been built up by the efforts of families over many years. There should be a much wider gap between the 2 exemptions. I suggest that with today’s farm values the exemption on farm properties should be at least $100,000.
The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) mentioned another bad fault and said that its removal was part of the policy of the Australian Labor Party. I do not accept that I am following Labor policy by mentioning the fault because I have mentioned it here before. I say again that there can be no excuse for imposing duty on an estate into the assembling of which a man and his wife have put their years and which on the death of one spouse passes to the other. I speak particularly of fanning estates, but it does not necessarily make any difference to my argument if it is a business into which they have both put their work or any other asset which they have helped each other to build up. Under the present legislation if one dies the other is left with perhaps having to sacrifice the business to pay estate duty. There can be no excuse for the imposiiton of such a tax. This is the first anomaly that should be removed, and the next step I advocate is lifting the exemption on farm properties to $100,000.
People do not know how to make provision for the payment of estate duty or probate. We are told they can make provision by taking out insurance. But people have complained to me, and they have had every justification for complaining about the high rates that they have to pay every year in insurance premiums when they have no way of finding out the value of the estate for duty purposes or at how much duty will be assessed. If the valuer is employed to make a valuation a person has to pay his fee on top of the insurance premiums. A person cannot go to those who levy the estate duty and say: ‘What do you value my estate at?’ He cannot go to the local council and get a figure on which he can work. This point has been very well made by earlier speakers. The honourable member for Riverina mentioned the poor woman who was left a few hundred Poseidon shares when they had a market value of $250 each. All of a sudden they came down to today’s rate of $11 but she is expected to find double, treble or perhaps even 4 times of what otherwise would be the assessed value for duty purposes.
It is because of these impossibilities that I wanted to say a few words on this Bill. I believe that the Government would not have done anything in this field unless Senator Negus had brought pressure to bear, and I compliment him on having done that. 1 sincerely hope that the weight of public opinion will ensure that in the next Budget presented by the present Treasurer this is one of the duties which will be abolished.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Hunt) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 31st August (vide page 1015), on motion by Mr Garland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Hunt) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 3 1st August (videpage 1015), on motion by Mr Garland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Hunt) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 14th September (vide page 1468), on motion by Mr Howson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition welcomes the substance of this Bill. Any provision for Aboriginal advancement is naturally wholeheartedly welcomed by the Opposition. But on behalf of the Opposition I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: while not opposing the provisions of the Bill, the House condemns the Government for:
its failure over a period of more than 5 years to exercise the full and direct responsibility in Aboriginal Affairs voted to it by more than 90 per cent of the Australian electorate in the referendum of May 1967;
neglecting to consult with the Aboriginal people;
refusing to restore land rights to Aborigines living on reserves or in significant communities;
failing to provide decent housing for Aboriginal families;
failing to provide employment opportunities particularly in rural areas;
making insufficient provision for education ranging from pre-school to technical training, adult education and education at university level;
its indifference to indefensible levels of neonatal, infant and child mortality, malnutrition and disease;
its failure to assist the States in meeting these responsibilities beyond their own financial capacity and (0 its failure to provide the leadership which is a clear Commonwealth responsibility.’
The Opposition is aware of the claim that will be made that over the last 5 years a substantial amount has been provided for Aboriginal advancement by both the Commonwealth and the States. I am very much aware of the figures that were included at page 1748 of Hansard of 30th September 1971 when a similar Bill was debated. The figures showed the amount of expenditure by the States, the Commonwealth and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs from 1967-68 to 1971-72. I will not give details of those figures. The total provided by those 3 bodies in 1967-68 was shown as $ 19.9m, and in 1971-72 $44.26m was to be provided. The amount had more than doubled in 5 years. Whilst being well aware of that, the first point I want to make is the substantial and growing need. From figures of the population of persons who describe themselves as Aboriginal we find that in 1966 there was a total in Australia of 80,207, more of them being in the Northern Territory than in any State, the Northern Territory being followed in numbers by Queensland and Western Australia. Those who have done work on population statistics since 1966 point out the rapid rate of population increase, the high birth rate which prevails, the survival rate, which is high despite the extraordinarily high rates of those who suffer from disease and the quite indefensible levels of neonatal infant and child mortality to which the amendment ls directed. The need in this area is a need that is increasing. The magnitude of the problem in every respect is not diminishing - it is increasing.
The needs can be seen most vividly in respect of education. Statistics from the Bureau of Census and Statistics show that at the 1966 census there was an astonishing difference between the rate at which Aboriginal people gained access to education and the rate at which the nonAboriginal component of the population gained access to education. I will refer to just a few figures. Of persons 50 per cent or more Aboriginal, 0.36 per cent of males and 0.34 per cent of females were undergoing education of matriculation or higher standard. Comparative figures for the non-Aboriginal population were 11.32 per cent for males and 8.22 per cent for females. There were 1.42 per cent of Aboriginal males and 1.47 per cent of Aboriginal females receiving education at intermediate level as against 16.36 per cent for non-Aboriginal males and 17.61 per cent for non-Aboriginal females. There were 11.81 per cent of Aboriginal males and 12.61 per cent of Aboriginal females attending secondary school compared with 24.62 per cent of non-Aboriginal males and 24.47 per cent of non-Aboriginal females. There were 41.19 per cent of Aboriginal males and 41.41 per cent of Aboriginal females attending primary school as against 34.72 per cent of nonAboriginal males and 36.96 per cent of non-Aboriginal females. There were 39.97 per cent of Aboriginal males and 39.23 per cent of Aboriginal females receiving no education at all in contrast to 10.97 per cent of non-Aboriginal males and 10.6 per cent of non-Aboriginal females.
These education statistics show the astounding disparity that exists between the Aboriginal population and the nonAboriginal population in Australia. In the absence of another set of census statistics it is difficult to make a comparison, but the statistics of the number of Aboriginal young people in schools and universities that we do have show that there has been no appreciable improvement in that time and that the overall situation of Aboriginal children has shown no significant improvement on the figures revealed for the 1963 census. So the situation of the overall population is still substantially the same. By way of further comparison, on the basis of the 1966 figures 3.6 per cent of Aboriginal people 45 years and over had no education compared with only 1.1 per cent of nonAboriginal people. The difference begins to diminish slightly as we come down the age scale. For instance, 5 per cent of those between 20 and 24 years of age had the intermediate certificate or better compared with 50 per cent in the case of nonAboriginal people. No doubt this situation will take a considerable time to improve and it will be quite a number of years before any appreciable difierence is noticed no matter what is done. This seems to me to indicate a far greater degree of urgency to meet the needs of people who are alive today than is recognised by the programme to which this Bill gives effect.
The answer that Senator Douglas McClelland received this year to a question showed that statistics were not kept in such a way that those who were Aboriginal were normally enumerated in statistical collections, but the number of persons who took up Aboriginal study grants for the first time in 1969-70 and 1970-71 were listed by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in answer to that question. In 1969 there were only 15 people in the whole of Australia who were shown in the records as receiving these grants. In 1970 this number had dropped to 13 and in 1971 it was 26. However, 8 of the 26 listed as having received Aboriginal study grants were attending Education Department teachers colleges or kindergarten teachers’ colleges. That was the most significant increase that had taken place. Teaching was improved, but apart from this there was no overall improvement in the number of people receiving those grants at tertiary institutions between 1969 and 1970. We can be satisfied from the figures we have that so far there has been no upward trend in the statistics in respect to education and that the magnitude of this education problem remains.
The next matter I want to look at is land grants. The principles that have been set out already in a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) seem to me to be generally satisfactory, and I wish to refer to them. They are: To investigate ways of providing a simple, flexible form of incorporation for Aboriginal communities; to amend the law under which land is reserved for the use and benefit of Aborigines so that a reserve cannot be revoked in whole or in part without an effective opportunity for a review both by the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory and by both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament; to complete as expeditiously as possible programmes to delineate and protect areas of land both within and outside reserves for Aboriginal religious and ceremonial purposes. But when one refers to the attitude of Ministers in relation to this matter, the reason why no progress whatever has been made in meeting the needs of the Aboriginal people for land immediately becomes apparent. As long as the attitude exhibited by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) dominates the Government - I am satisfied that the Australian Country Party attitude does dominate the Government in respect of this - there will be no progress.
In 1971, Mr Hunt said that the Government’s attitude on leasing was based on a rational land use policy.’ But what is a rational land use policy’? The Minister went on to say that such a policy ‘did not provide for the issue of titles to land simply because certain Aboriginals claimed their ancestors had a traditional association with it regardless of its economic use’. The Minister then said that Aborigines ‘have a right to areas of special significance, but just to set aside land because they claim it tends to perpetuate the Aboriginal tribal system was no justification’.
The Minister for the interior quite clearly dismisses the essence and the substance of the claim of Aboriginal people for land in the first place. He seems to be unable to appreciate that rational use of land by the Aboriginal people is precisely the kind of use that he dismisses in the 2 sentences that 1 quoted. As long as a government is influenced by people who take what I call the Country Party attitude to the use of land - that is, we must make money from the use of land; it must be on a kind of commercial foundation - there will be no progress made by a government towards meeting the need of the Aboriginal people to acquire land grants, which in fact do relate especially to the claims that they make that their ancestors had a traditional association with the land, and that they have a right to areas of special significance to perpetuate the Aboriginal tribal system, irrespective of the economic or commercial use of the land. It seems to me that this problem must still be overcome and that the Government is open to a fundamental criticism for its complete failure in the last 5 years to overcome this difficulty.
If one refers to the available information in relation to health, as in education, the striking thing that hits the observer is the shockingly high adverse statistics on Aboriginal health that are available. On many occasions, statistics have been quoted in this House which tend to show that the infant mortality rate in the Northern Territory is between 8 and 20 times as high as the normal rate for people in Australia. Figures as high as 208 deaths per thousand have been quoted with authority in this House. We have seen claims that, although Aborigines account for only a little more than 1 per cent of the Australian population, they account for 10 per cent of Australia’s infant deaths, 28 per cent of the deaths of 1-year olds, about 10 per cent of the deaths of 2 to 4-year olds and 94 per cent of the deaths of lepers. Similarly, if the figures were available on a satisfactory basis for such things as tuberculosis, they would show that the statistics applying to the Aboriginal people were relatively as bad as those areas to which I have just referred.
It k impossible to be satisfied that, in the last 5 years, there has been any appreciable improvement in these matters. From time to time, as an explanation for the failure to achieve any improvement, the Government has said that the health problem stems from the nomadic background of the Aborigines - the fact that they are in mobile groups - but of course this is merely to say something about the problem and not to provide a justification for cbe problem not being more satisfactorily attended to. I think we can be satisfied that there is no upward trend in the statistics in relation to the health of the Aboriginal people in the last 5 years.
I refer now to housing. Here is an area where, at least in the Northern Territory, I think there is some evidence that there has been an improvement. But housing is still at a generally low standard. It can be shown that perhaps one-fifth of the Aboriginal population directly affected by Commonwealth expenditure has been able to live In improved housing by either obtaining new nouses or having the ones they lived in Improved. But we have evidence that as late as 1970 about half of the Aboriginal homes in the Northern Territory had separate laundries, 46 per cent had kitchens, only 11.5 per cent had electric, gas or oil stoves and 57 per cent had electricity. I would concede that there has been some improvement in the area of housing in the period for which the Commonwealth has exercised greater responsibility but I think that, especially in this field, some imagination is needed. It is most inappropriate for the Aboriginal people everywhere to be asked to live in homes of a Western pattern. It is a pattern which does not fit into the kind of environment in which they must live and I think a good deal of imagination should be used to design a completely different kind of house. I think the imagination used in the transitional housing in places around Alice Springs, Darwin and elsewhere seems to be little better than that used in their previous housing.
That I think is the broad picture which will be filled out in greater detail from the Opposition side. It is the broad picture so far as material things are concerned and insofar as statistics can be quoted. However, I emphasise that there is still an inadequacy of statistics in regard to Aboriginal people. Unlike sheep, Aborigines were never counted until 1966 and we are still far behind in getting an adequate idea of their position statistically.
I turn finally to what has been called the existential crisis in which the Aboriginal people find themselves and which is related to material things. It may even apply in the field of housing, where some appreciable gain has been made and not merely the maintenance of the existing position. These things can contribute very little to the solution of what has been identified as the existential crisis. As we know, Government policy in relation to the Aboriginal people has gone through several phases. The first phase of policy was merely to eliminate them. Then we reached a stage of great progress and the policy became one to integrate and to assimilate. This was clearly laid down in the statement read by the Prime Minister - I referred to it a while ago - as the policy of the Government. But integration and assimilation in Australia or in any other country mean a loss of identity. When we talk about assimilating or integrating a migrant or an Aboriginal person we really mean that he is to cease being a migrant or cease being an Aboriginal person and that in some kind of way he has to become an Australian. I do not think that objective is satisfactory. We need to pursue a policy which will not assume that a person must cease being an Aboriginal. Our policy ought to be directed at the maintenance and development of his personality as such a person. Assimilation and integration as objectives tend to have the opposite effect.
We talk about education for the Aboriginal people. Of course, we do not educate them. We do not try to educate them. We do not use them to educate themselves in their own culture. What I think is probably needed here is a good deal more education of Australian white people about the culture of the Aboriginal people so that they can appreciate it and appreciate its extraordinary significance and so that they can acquire more respect for the Aboriginal people derived from the knowledge of this culture which, in many ways, is superior to our own. Nowadays we tend to gain our appreciation for an Aboriginal person if he or she turns out to be a good tennis player or a good footballer. If they do the kinds of things we do and if they do them as well as we do we think they are wonderful people. But the important thing is that we need some kind of education of white people in this country so that we will begin to appreciate the Aboriginal people for being themselves, for knowing what they themselves are.
In the application of Commonwealth Government policy there is a very great need for us to aproach the Aboriginal people not as though we are superior and know what should be done about them but in such a way that they have the power to make decisions about what should be done about themselves and to call upon Commonwealth and other assistance as they need it. They ought to have the authority to make decisions, good or bad, successful or unsuccessful. Those who are concerned with Aboriginal advancement ought to be taking the position that we will help them to make those decisions, not that we will tell them what the decisions ought to be. In the absence of this, in this existential crisis in which the Aboriginal person in Australia lives, there is a lot of concern today about the Aboriginal people turning to violence, as though that is a terrible thing. But it is not so much violence as it is indignation and anger. Some white people seem to think that Aboriginals have no right to show any indignation and anger about the position in which they and their people have been living for centuries.
– But if it were violence it would be terrible, would it not?
– It would be unless we were using it. If the authorities were using violence against them, if white people were using it against them as they have done for decades and as it was used out here the other day, without any appreciation at all or attempt to understand those Aboriginal people, that would not be such a terrible thing according to the views of honourable members opposite. But if an Aboriginal person happened to use a little violence and pushed a policeman over, that would be a terrible thing. I think this should be put in its proper context. What happened on the lawns outside Parliament House under the supervision of the Minister for the Interior, who is in the House now, was an example of how stupid the Government can become in applying violence to a situation of this kind, ft is certain that anger and indignation will rise in the younger people in the Aboriginal community because of the circumstances in which they are forced to live.
Finally, the Australian Labor Party will assist the States and any other organisation or body that can. do worthwhile work in relation to Aboriginal advancement, but it is a Commonwealth responsibility and in this field the Commonwealth still takes a very secondary role. A number of incidents have occurred in recent times, including one in South Australia where land that was available was suddenly lost because the Commonwealth did not take the initiative. The Commonwealth still has not accepted a primary role in respect of Aboriginal affairs. Much has still to be done. Much is still beyond the financial power of the States to do. The Commonwealth still has to face the responsibility of undertaking the effective government in relation to Aboriginal advancement that the referendum gave it and which for some time. I agree, the Commonwealth looked as though it would undertake. But in recent times the sense of urgency and acceptance of that responsibility which seemed to be present in the Minister have significantly disappeared. Recent trends have been to meet this situation with a lesser sense of urgency than ever before. So I think that the amendment is thoroughly justified and I ask the House to support it.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment. In doing so, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the statement of the Minister for Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson). It is an important statement from the point of view of the allocation of resources but it is not important from the point of view of any statement of goals. It is like looking out of a train from the guard’s van; one can see the scenery as one goes past it. The Government says that it has spent so much on this and so much on that. There is to be $ 14.5m spent. If one takes up all the factors of State expenditure and so on, one sees that about $53m has been spent on Aborigines. This is vastly in advance of expenditure in the past, but it leaves at least 4 fundamental questions unanswered. They have never been answered in this Parliament. So far as I know, they have never been answered by the nation. But they must be answered, and then from this we can arrive at goals which will determine a lot of future expenditure.
The first question is: Do we recognise the right of the Aborigines to be a distinctive people? Negatively we have been able to see the Aborigines as a distinctive people. The old section 51, paragraph (xxvi), of the Constitution excluded the Commonwealth from the power to legislate for Aborigines. So if we knew for whom we cannot legislate, presumably we could see Aborigines. Paragraph (xxvi) said that the Commonwealth had the power to legislate for ‘the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws’. So, if a person was an Aboriginal the Commonwealth could not legislate for him in the States. But when it came to separate infant mortality statistics or matters like that we always came up against a brick wall. It was said: ‘Our policy is assimilation. We do not know who these Aborigines are. They are in part of the general community statistics. We cannot sec them’.
We arrived at a policy of assimilation which was a vast improvement on the Daisy Bates nervelessness that existed before that. She wrote a disastrous book The Passing of the Aborigines’ which gave a couple of generations of Australian administrators the excuse for thinking that they did not need to do anything but smooth the dying pillow. She was quite wrong. She said civilisation is a cloak the
Aborigines cannot wear. All that she really meant if she had known about the facts was that if they congregated, with their ideas of desert hygiene not suited to stationary populations diseases would wipe them out. That fact has had nothing to do with ‘civilisation’; it relates only to the effect of close settlement without sanitation.
Do we recognise the right of Aborigines to be a distinctive people? If that is so we will have to drop expressions like ‘assimilation’ which is a vague policy we assume the right to impose on Aboriginal people. We say: This is what we declare is going to happen to you. You are going to be assimilated and you are going to be like us. We never consulted you but, obviously, who on earth could be a better model to be like than us?’ That is the idea behind the doctrine of assimilation. Sir Paul Hasluck, as the relevant Minister, gave it a more humane touch where he said that assimilation meant Aborigines would live at the same standard and have the same rights and so forth as Europeans. That was an attempt to give content to the policy and avoid prescribing some sort of undefined destiny without hope. The first question is not one of assimilation, it is: Do we recognise their right to be a distinctive people? I suggest that we should declare straightly that Aborigines are distinctive people. They were here before European settlement and they have the right to continue to be distinctive people.
Secondly, we should ask the question: Will we provide for their representation as a distinctive people? The New Zealanders have provided for the representation of the Maoris in the Parliament as a distinctive people. There are 4 Maori seats in the New Zealand Parliament. There should be Aboriginal seats in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. The Commonwealth Parliament cannot prescribe for representation in the States, but it can prescribe for representation in the Northern Territory. Seats must be reserved for Aborigines in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and the members for those seats should be elected by Aborigines in the Northern Territory. I believe that we should have a Commonwealth constitutional amendment to provide for Aboriginal representation in the Australian Parliament. Some of us are irritated by self-designated spokesmen of the Aboriginal people. They may be right or they may be wrong in claiming a representative character. They may be saying what the Aboriginal people want said or they may not be expressing those views. Many of them effect Afro hair-dos. They are largely of Pacific Islander descent, wear dark glasses and go around with slogans of the New York Black Power Negroes.
If one travels through the Northern Territory - such as the Gove Peninsula - and meets Aboriginal people one sees a quite different but very articulate people who are asking for other things. However, if we do not provide for representation for Aboriginal people we have no right to complain about people who constitute themselves as spokesmen. Those people may be of Aboriginal or part Aboriginal descent. If we really want to hear the Aboriginal voice we must provide for Aboriginal representation chosen by Aboriginal people. If we do not, we have no right to complain about Black Power spokesmen whom we all say are really caricaturing the opinions of Aboriginal people. The proper representation of Aboriginal people is important in this Parliament and in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory.
The Minister for the Environment, the Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) and I were both members of a select committee which examined the grievances of the Aboriginal people of Yirrkala. I think we were also representatives of this Parliament on the select committee which looked into Aboriginal voting rights.
– You have got it the wrong way around. We were both on the select committee which dealt with Aboriginal voting rights.
– That is correct. The Minister was not a member of the select committee which examined the grievances of the Yirrkala people. The important point about those select committees was that the members of them went with interpreters to hear what the Aborigines had to say. Until that time all Aboriginal spokesmen trying to speak to the Commonwealth Government or the Commonwealth Parliament tried to do so very often in English, a language with which they were not familiar and in which they could not express themselves. But when they put their points to interpreters and could speak in their own language, many of them were magnificent orators and what they asked for themselves was always the plainest common sense. Those who wanted to live by fishing asked for assistance in getting fishing boats. Those who wanted to live in the traditional way by hunting asked that Europeans with high powered rifles who could wipe out their game should be excluded from their areas. Those Aborigines lived in a balanced relationship with the creatures they hunt. The weapons that they use help to conserve the species. However, high powered weapons could wipe out the crocodiles and kangaroos in their areas and they would be left with nothing to hunt. Those who had ceased to live in the tribal state and had become fringe dwellers asked about conditions of employment, about the education of their children and about housing. All of them seized the opportunity of speaking effectively to representatives of the Federal Parliament.
Some of us may remember that Aborigines who had served the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Navy during the war as coast watchers and who had not been paid for 16 years seized the opportunity to make a statement about that and that this action led to their being paid. I make this point because those Aborigines had been saying to welfare officers for 16 years that they had not been paid. Apparently they had not been listened to, either, because their requests had not been transmitted to the Government here. All of this made me realise ho* vital is this question of Aboriginal representation. So the second unanswered question in the Minister’s second reading speech is: Will we provide for representation of Aborigines as a distinct people? .
The third unanswered question is: Will we change the whole course of our history and acknowledge that any rights whatsoever attach to their prior occupancy of Australia? Two mystic theories clashed when we were dealing with the grievances of the Aboriginal people at Gove Peninsula. The crown law people said that all of this land was proclaimed in 1788 as belonging to George III by the grace of God, King of Great Britain and Ireland^ and from that time onwards there lay ownership with the Crown and those to whom the Crown made grants. Of course, that is absolutely as mystic a conception of land ownership as ‘the dream time’ which is the Aboriginal conception of land ownership. There is George III by the grace of God floating over all the land that he never saw. Captain Phillip stood and read a proclamation on 26th January 1788. It did not matter where Aborigines were in Australia. To Aborigines the reading of the proclamation meant: ‘Hereafter you own nothing’. This is a very mystic conception of transfer of ownership. Aborigines say that they own the land for various reasons. They say that the heroes of their culture in the dream time gave it to a tribe. This is no more mystic than George III by the grace of God being entitled to it. But of course the mysticism of the George III theory was backed by superior force. However, I think we do not adhere to titles based simply on superior force at this stage of our history. We are beginning to acknowledge that there were people with a prior occupancy and therefore they have some rights. I do not see that I can practically assert that some descendant of the original tribe in Sydney owns all of Sydney, but there are large areas of land in Australia still vested in the Crown which are reserved to Aborigines and where there is a distinctive tribal ownership discernible.
In that rather tragic case before the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory it appears that if the Aborigines had had the forethought to run a wire along the land and to draw a boundary they would have received the same sorts of rights as a squatter has, only that they would have been better entitled as squatters from time immemorial. It is very unfortunate that nobody legally advised them about the mystic powers of wire. Apart from conducting electricity apparently it can conduct also the ownership of land. It would be pretty shoddy of us to say that because they did not draw off a boundary, they are not to own anything; we were lucky that they never knew that. In point of fact, none of the lawyers in the courts knew that until they heard such a legal position asserted by the judge. There are many areas where we ought to acknowledge their ownership of land.
Please let us face the fact that we are the only people on God’s green earth who have not acknowledged to the original inhabitants of the land any title to any part of it. We criticise South Africa. South Africa acknowledges 400,000 square miles of indigenous ownership. We criticise Rhodesia. Rhodesia acknowledges nine-tenths of the land under indigenous ownership. But we acknowledge nothing as being under indigenous ownership. The terms the Government has set out under which the Aborigines may operate some stations economically seems to us to be inadequate. What is more, in this matter they do not behave like land sharks. For instance, the Gurindji people live on part of the Vestey station. I understand that station covers 8,750 square miles. The Gurindji claim is for a very small area of about 25 square miles around Wave Hill Station, and apparently Vestey is prepared to give more than that. One of the matters that has become rather silenced in public discussion is whether Vestey did or did not make that grant. But if we can acknowledge a Crown ownership I think we. can acknowledge also a dream time ownership, a discernible tribal ownership of land. I think that is what we should get around to.
It is very unfortunate from the Aboriginal point of view that we were not fighting the French in Australia when Australia was colonised. George III was fighting the French in North America and he needed the Indians as allies. So he entered into all sorts of treaties which still have the force of law today acknowledging Red Indian ownership of land. This has been of immense benefit in this century, especially when oil has been discovered on the land. One tribe got $33m for oil. As a basic legal concept this has been transferred to Alaska. The Government of the United States is preparing to pay $500m for certain land use - a payment to the original people, the Eskimos and the Red Indians there. But George III did not need an alliance with the Aborigines in Australia and so no treaty was entered into with them to acknowledge their land rights.
My final point is a very important one. Will we acknowledge the right of the Aborigines to an education in their tongue. Very discreetly and delicately we do not acknowledge 2 points of the International Labour Organisation Convention. They are, firstly, the right of an indigenous people to the ownership of land and, secondly, the right of an indigenous people to an education in their own tongue. For a long time, for instance, at Hermannsburg Mission the Aboriginal children obtained a primary education in the Arunta tongue, and they learnt English as a second language later on. Albert Namatjira went through such an education. But for a long while there was no Commonwealth assistance because this was contrary to assimilation and education had to be in English. It did not matter even that the mission could prove that this was a very effective way of teaching English. The medium of instruction was not in English and they were financially punished for that. The mission took the point of view that a mother tongue is the language of the heart; it is the best way to speak to a young child, and I believe that in many more areas we ought to be encouraging the survival of Aboriginal languages by giving a primary education to Aboriginal children in their own tongue. We would find that is the most effective basis for transferring later to the English language.
Can we not have a statement of goals? Will no government have the courage to say: ‘We will reduce Aboriginal neo-natal. infant and child mortality to the European levels’? Once a government declares that it has really taken the problems on. It will have to SOlve the problems of housing, medical care, adult education, hygiene and all sorts of things, but it nails its flag to the mast. This Government once made such a statement in relation to the abolition of tuberculosis in the European community. It nailed its flag to the mast and now tuberculosis hospitals are obsolete. The government had to pay a man a full wage while he was being treated. Many consequential policies followed the decision but the government got rid of tuberculosis. The only sufferers from tuberculosis today are Aborigines. If we say boldly: ‘We will eliminate the diseases of yaws, hook worm, tuberculosis and leprosy from the Aboriginal community as well as reduce the neonatal, infant and child mortality’, we will have nailed our flag to the mast; we will have adopted goals and all our expenditure and all our policies will be forced to conform. The achievements can be tested for the goals will have been defined. If we say that our policy is assimilation and ask an administrator what he has done to assimilate the Aborigines today, there is no answer to the question because it is a senseless question and it is an imprecise objective. Let us have these definitive objectives that will force us to achieve real advance. Let us adopt goals and then measure the resources we need to make available to attain those goals.
– I would suggest to the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) that the statement he is criticising is the second reading speech by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts on the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill 1972. If I might draw a phrase from the speech just delivered by the honourable member for Fremantle, I suppose it would be dream time to consider that this is an annual statement on the situation of the Aboriginal race at this point of time and/ or a philosophical study as to how we should look in future at their planned development, if that is the right phrase to use. It is not a statement of that type; it is a very detailed second reading speech dealing with the fact that the Commonwealth intends to provide to the States grants totalling $14.5m for this financial year. That is what this Bill provides. The Minister made the point in his second reading speech that this represents barely a quarter - I think that is the proportion - of the total funds provided by the Commonwealth to the States for this purpose. It would be dream time not to take note of the fact that in the year of the referendum S8.97m was given to the States. Subsequently in 1971-72 $3 1.3m was given as grants to the States for this purpose, and this year the total amount provided is $53.285m. Compare that amount with the $8.9m spent immediately after the referendum. This is the factual comparison of what this Government is attempting to do in providing grants to the States to carry out more worthwhile jobs.
It is very easy to point to areas throughout Australia and say that not enough has been done. This programme is in its infancy. What is going on now is the typical harping, carping nonsense by the
Opposition to point these things out, and I do not object to this. I know full well of areas where sufficient funds are being provided to cope with the physical capacity of those areas to use the funds.
– Tell us about your future plans.
– The capacity of the head of the honourable member for Sturt is not one of them. There are those areas and honourable members on the Opposition side know full well that what I have said is true. The Commonwealth Government has only recently come into this new programme. The thing to remember, if we are not to enter the dreamtime, is the statistics to which I have just referred, namely, some $53.285m being provided this year compared with $8. 9m in the year after the referendum.
I have been in this Parliament for a long time and I have never once debated the issue of Aborigines. I have felt that this was proper because I know and I pretend to know only about the 12 or so missions and reserves in the State of South Australia which, in some instances, I have visited on many occasions. I have never professed to know the position in the Northern Territory. I have never, as have the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and others, visited these areas so I virtually have disqualified myself from debating this subject. I was not on the list of speakers for this debate today, but when I heard some of the most extraordinary remarks which I thought I would ever hear in relation to the future development of the Aboriginal race I thought it only proper for somebody on this side of the House to rise in this debate, although perhaps with not enough thought or not enough homework. This is a spontaneous decision on my part but I think it is necessary.
Before going on to state my opinions on this matter, I should like to say that I do not know how many honourable members have captained football teams which have played against Aboriginal teams and who on that basis know the Aborigines well. I do not know how many honourable members have played tennis with and freely mixed with them in the country area in which I lived. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), as a great cricketer and a great Alice Springs man, would certainly be one of them. I must say that the experiences of honourable members will cover what I am about to say because I will not be talking so much as other honourable members might about the problem of, may I say, the nomadic tribes which still lead the sort of existence which they have led traditionally for years in outback areas. My experience of those people is only in relation to reserves at Musgrave Park in the top left-hand corner of South Australia and the old Lutheran missions at Ooldea and the rest of the chain of them along the Nullarbor Plain. I intend to comment within the framework of my understanding through having a working knowledge of these people.
Firstly, I noted that the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) referred, I think in reply to an interjection, to the problem of violence and anger, purely as a hypothesis and not something on which he was commenting firmly one way or the other. He replied that we must develop an attempt to properly understand these people. I do not think that an attempt to understand them is purely a matter for the Opposition. I think that any attempt to understand them has to come from a lot of sincere people both in this Parliament and outside it. I would go so far as to say that I for one, having given a lot of thought to this problem, find it most difficult to understand precisely why the last Aboriginal embassy, which unfortunately had to be removed from outside this House, had, on the night of its removal when one of our members went to it, no Aborigines in it. They were all white people. I do not understand why this was so. I do not understand why we have to take so much notice of an Aboriginal embassy that evidently does not have Aborigines in it. I do not know why, when the Aboriginal embassy was set up in Brougham Place, Adelaide, it was set up entirely by interstate Aborigines. There was not a single South Australian Aboriginal involved.
The Opposition says that we have to understand these things. What do we have to understand? What is the point in setting up an Aboriginal embassy such as the one in South Australia, where there are only interstate Aborigines standing around* - I am being awfully polite - day and night? 1 do not think this is fair to the Aborigines whom I know. I do not think it is fair to the Aborigines with whom I have played sport. 1 do not think for one moment that the Aborigines are doing their cause an ounce of good. I think frankly that members of the Opposition should explain to this Parliament and to the people of Australia just how they feel that the example set by these people in those places is helping the cause of the Aborigines because to the vast majority of Australians it is not helping their cause. The average Australian when he drives past the Aboriginal embassy in Frome Place, Adelaide, sees a crowd of people who evidently make - I stress the word ‘evidently’ because I do not know - no attempt to get a job, who do not come from South Australia anyway and who display a board on which is written: ‘We demand land rights. We demand this and we demand that’. This may be all right except that in South Australia by and large the last 3 governments have had very good programmes of land acquisition for Aboriginal purposes. In fact one could go so far as to say that Aboriginal reserves and stations controlled by them stretch today from close to Ayers Rock on the Northern Territory border right down through the State of South Australia close to the Goyder Line.
As I said earlier, I have not previously debated Aboriginal matters in this House because I know, and not as well as some others, only about the situation in South Australia. There have been achievements by the South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Pearson, back in Tom Playford’s Government, through to Dunstan as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in the Walsh Government, during the days of the Steele Hall Government and to the present Government in South Australia. The people of Australia passed a referendum. As honourable members well know, part of the implication of that referendum was that the Federal Government should lend resources, interest and example to the States to help them equate with the problems of Aborigines. The fact that in South Australia considerable progress has been made is a reflection of that referendum. We are not here - this indicates the stupidity of the Opposition’s list of amendments - as a Federal government to guarantee Aborigines jobs in country areas. This is what the amendment says. It goes on through a whole host of matters which are patently and obviously in the area of State responsibility. One can always say that the Federal Government could give more funds to the States for the purposes which this amendment might envisage but I have already cited several cases where physically the States are spending as much as they can in this field.
The honourable member for Lalor referred to housing of Aborigines. He asked: ‘Why should they have to ape Western design?’ They certainly do not in my own State, if they do not in South Australia, why do they have to in other States, unless it is factual that a lot of this responsibility is a matter of the performance of one State compared with the performance in another State? 1 have the greatest respect for almost anything which the honourable member for Fremantle says. I finish my few comments on this Bill by trying to explore what the honourable member has in mind when he questions whether these people, for instance as a matter of philosophy, should remain as a distinct people. The honourable member for Fremantle says or implies that in his view they should remain a distinct people. Does he want separate development? On the one hand he says that our capacity to grant lands to the Aborigines is way behind that of the countries of southern Africa. I think he cited Rhodesia as granting nine-tenths land rights to the native people of those areas. On the other hand he suggests that he feels that those people should remain distinct. I admit that this is the basis for a great philosophical argument. But to my mind this is not the answer. The Aborigines I know come from the Ooldeas, the Ernabellas and other northern missions and stations in South Australia until they meet people in the electorate of the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis). They might stage with the Port Augustas, the Coober Pedys, and the Andamookas. Many of them then go further south until they become, like my friend Herbie Rigney, the captain of the Goolwa football team, completely mixed in the society of Goolwa. Some of them live at Point Macleay. All of them at this stage are very largely integrated within the areas to which they have gravitated.
I would take this as being the desirable method for the future development of Aborigines. I would not unduly encourage the concept of separate development or keeping a race apart. Certainly I see great merit in protecting the traditional paintings and cultures of the nomadic tribes. But I hope this Parliament never loses sight of the fact that ultimately the desirable role of the Aboriginal people should be much the same as that of the new Australians who come into this nation with their cultures and traditions, enrich our society with them and become as nearly as possible part of the society of Australia. If we see new Australians forming ghettos, is this distinctive development? Is it separate development? Do we frown on the formation of ghettos in this country and say that these people should not come to Australia at the rate at which they can form into ghettos, be they in Perth or elsewhere?
Whilst acknowledging the historical significance and rights of the Aboriginal people, this Parliament and this nation must look for the means of helping them most. Unequal treatment to try to help them achieve some ultimate equality within this social spectrum is right, but I abhor the continuation of the Daisy Bates-ism that one hears from time to time in this House which advocates that they should remain as a separate race. I do not believe that this is to their best advantage and I do not believe that it is to the best advantage of the people of Australia who can be enriched by understanding of their many cultures.
I finish on this note: I cannot agree to the Opposition’s list of amendments, most of which I regard as referring to matters which are completely within the sovereign rights and responsibilities of the States to put into effect. Our responsibility is to fund and this has very little to do with the Opposition’s amendments. I congratulate the Minister on his second reading speech which gives a lot of detail. But, of course, it is not to be taken as a philosophical long-term study of the entire Aboriginal question. It is a second reading speech on a Bill which gives additional help to the States to cope with this problem and which I support.
– I do not propose to keep the House for very long. I am grateful to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) for exchanging his order on the speaking list for mine to enable me to keep another commitment. I listened with great interest to what the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) said. He made the point that many of the matters in the Opposition’s amendments were State responsibilities. I was a little shocked at this because this Bill is cited as the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Act 1972. Surely, if it serves any purpose at all, it is to enable the States to meet State commitments. In effect, what we are saying is this: These are state responsibilities. This is the legislation whereby the Commonwealth provides a certain amount of money to the States. At this point of time the States are not doing enough and the Commonwealth is not doing enough to assist them. Item (h) on the Opposition’s amendment states: its failure to assist the States in meeting these responsibilities beyond their own financial capacity.
The point has been made previously in this debate that it has been only a few years since this referendum was carried - a mere 5 years - and that against this background the Commonwealth is doing a pretty fair job. I should like to remind the House and members of the Government parties in particular, that when this referendum proposing an amendment to section 31 of the Constitution - not the one concerning the census - was put to the people of Australia for the first time in 1944 by the Curtin Government as part of the search for adequate Commonwealth powers to handle the problems of post-war reconstruction and development, members of the now Government parties opposed this referendum. By opposing the proposal in 1944 they ensured that the Commonwealth was kept out of this field effectively for another 23 years. That is another point that should be taken into account.
There is an increase in expenditure under this legislation to $ 14.5m as compared with $9. 2m in the previous year. Let us look at the exact terms of the Opposition’s amendment. Clause (a) states: its failure over a period of more than S years to exercise the full and direct responsibility in Aboriginal Affairs. . . .
In other words we are saying that the Commonwealth is not doing enough. It is not providing leadership. It is not providing enough money. Clause (b) in the amendment states: neglecting to consult with the Aboriginal people.
I do not believe that effective consultation with the Aboriginal people is being carried out. In the estimates of the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, there is a provision under the Office of Aboriginal Affairs for consultation and liaison with Aboriginal panels and associations. In 1968-69, $40,000 was provided and $25,000 spent. In 1969-70, $26,000 was provided and $23,000 spent. In 1970- 71, $23,000 was provided and $4,418 spent. In 1971-72, $16,000 was provided and $2,750 spent.
Over recent years instead of having the sort of consultation that took place at Townsville in earlier times, this Government has sought to consult the representatives of various State Aboriginal liaison or advisory bodies. In Queensland, the State which I know best, the Aboriginal councillors represent only those Aborigines who live on settlements. So as far as the consulting of these people is concerned, they represent approximately one third of the Aboriginal people living in Queensland. If I might say so, the representation is filtered because a certain number of these representatives are appointed by the Queensland Director. At Woorabinda every person on the Aboriginal council at the time when the Labor Party’s committee paid a visit was an employee of the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. I have no doubt that some of these people are very sincere and worthwhile but they are not the direct representatives of the Aboriginal people en masse. In many cases they tend to put over the ideas of the Queensland department. I know that a conference was held recently. I do not believe that one can achieve anything of lasting value by gestures like a national conference. I believe that the establishment of Commonwealth regional offices and the setting up of local liaison with Aboriginal people in the field are much more effective means of finding out what the needs and aspirations of the Aboriginal people might be.
The question of land rights has already been dealt with. The Government has gone a very little part of the way. I believe that the problem substantially involves the
Country Party. Why does not the Government face up to this issue and realise that within the guidelines laid down in the policy adopted by the Labor Party there are only a limited number of reserves and Aboriginal communities to be cared for? It does not mean unscrambling the pastoral industry in vast areas of the Northern Territory, Western Australia, or Queensland. Land rights can be given in this quite affluent society of ours to the Aboriginal people living on reserves and in significant communities without causing a violent confrontation with the pastoral industry or with anyone else. Our record in this area is of course very poor.
Paragraph (d) of the amendment moved by the Opposition refers to the provision of decent housing for Aboriginal families. When I spoke on a similar Bill 2 years ago the Minister then responsible for the administration of Aborigines made some projections of the housing needs of Aborigines. He cited research that had been carried out in Sydney and elsewhere indicating that 80 per cent of Aborigines already living in houses needed re-housing. He suggested that the rate of new family formation was about 1,100 or 1,200 Aboriginal families a year. The Minister told me that the figures showed that we were making some impact on the Aboriginal housing programme. On the following day I placed a question on the notice paper which remained there for over 6 months. This question asked for detailed information to support the Minister’s statement. In fact the amount of information that the Minister was able to give me about the housing needs of Aboriginal people was very slender indeed. If we are to meet the needs of Aboriginal housing we ought to be providing about $30m a year for the next 10 years. On the last census figures, as amended, there, were about 140,000 Aboriginal people in Australia.
We are told that the average number in an Aboriginal family unit is about seven. That means 20,000 homes would have to be provided at a cost of about $200m. We are, told that the rate of new family formation is 1,100 or 1,200 a year. That would mean another 1 0,000. homes would have to be provided over the next 10 years. If this problem is to be solved in a reasonable time we will need about $300m. The proposal that we advance to the Minister is that instead of making available $8,250,000 to the States for their responsibilities the Commonwealth ought to be making available about $24m and should spend the balance of the S30m in the Northern Territory. It is only when the Commonwealth makes available money of this order that it will be able to make, in conjunction with the States, some impact on Aboriginal housing.
Unfortunately, because of the pressure of time, I am obliged to leave the rest of the paragraphs in the amendment in the very capable hands of my colleague, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). We all recognise the wide range of environments in Australia and that the Aborigines in various parts of this continent have different needs and priorities. No-one advocates that we can determine them at the present moment. We believe we have to find out the needs on an individual basis of communities and families. When the census information is available to us - hopefully at the end of this year, if not early next year - then the Minister and all of use should have a much better idea of the priorities. There is still the basic necessity to consult with the Aboriginal people. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) and the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) pointed out that too many of the decisions concerning Aborigines are being made for the Aborigines and not by them. Honourable members will realise from reading our amendment very carefully that Aboriginal welfare is very much the concern of the Australian Labor Party. For that reason I commend the amendment to the House.
– This Bill provides for expenditure of $ 14.5m. A considerable part of the Bill concerns the people of the Northern Territory, so I feel I should speak on that point first. The honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) mentioned that representatives of Aboriginal electorates should be included in the Northern Territory Legislative Council. Aborigines have stood for electorates in the Northern Territory Legislative Council in the past but they have been unsuccessful. In the Council, the honourable member for Arnhem - which is where most of the Aborigines in the top end of the Northern Territory live - comes from a lay missionary background and knows the Aborigines very well. He is assisting them a very great deal in a lot of their projects across the top end of Arnhem Land. He is a cattle man and farmer. He can give first-class practical advice and assistance in places such as Milingimbi, Elcho Island, Bathurst Island, Croker Island, Goulburn Island and Maningrida with regard to developing projects which are in the interests of Aborigines residing in those areas. I have seen the member for Arnhem buying stud bulls at the Katherine Show bull sales on behalf of some of the mission settlements at the top end of Arnhem Land.
I imagine that, when the Aborigines wish to have representation in the Northern Territory Legislative Council they will nominate their own member and support him and he will be elected. The Opposition’s amendment refers to the Government’s failure to exercise the full and direct responsibility in Aboriginal affairs voted to it by 90 per cent of the electorate. It is a way of saying that anything that the Opposition considers the Aborigines should have was automatically voted for by 90 per cent of the electorate. It is a completely nebulous approach. Paragraph (b) refers to neglect to consult the Aboriginal people. There is an Aboriginal Advisory Council and there is an advisory council to the Administrator. These people were in Canberra not long ago advising the Minister.
I remember that some of the top end Aborigines were fairly firm in their remarks and attitudes towards some people in Canberra who purported to support the Aboriginal cause. Claude Narjic from Port Keats stated that he was quite capable of presenting the opinions of the Aborigines in northern Australia and that he did not have to be told by people whom he did not consider to be Aborigines how to go about things. Aborigines are quite capable of consulting and giving advice and they are given an opportunity to do so. Nobody has really yet given a definition of land rights. It seems to me that it is just a catchcry to -attack the Government, which is endeavouring to assist Aborigines to use the land which they have in the Northern Territory - 94,000 square miles - for their own benefit and to develop their own interests and projects.
While 1 am on this subject I would like to mention the properties on these reserves. Running through them quickly, there is Haasts Bluff with an area of 4,000 square miles, Yuendumu with an area of 850 square miles, Hooker Creek with an area of 843 square miles, and Daly River and Port Keats with an area of 5,200 square miles. A lot of these areas contain very good cattle country and with assistance they could be areas in which first rate cattle projects could be developed. There is Wagait with an area of 550 square miles; there is Beswick, probably one of the better developed settlement projects at the moment; and there is Bathurst Island. The Bathurst Island Mission is proposing a cattle run and a dairy herd. There is the Yugal pastoral company, which is virtually the old Roper River Mission cattle station up in Arnhem Land on the northern side of the Roper River. There is Bulman in Arnhem Land where there could well be an outstanding buffalo export industry. In fact I think a man is operating an industry there at the moment and I believe he intends to hand his plant and the whole concern over to the Aborigines and train them how to do the job so they can get into this very lucrative beef export industry.
The problem with regard to those projects is that whilst they exist and money is available more money could be made available. It is of no use members of the Opposition just raving and quoting figures about what was done 2 years ago or 3 years ago. The point is that people have to be prepared to go and help the Aborigines wilh these projects in the Northern Territory and in such areas. People must be prepared to go into these areas and, if it happens to be a buffalo project, train the Aborigines how to operate the project and to run it successfully and how to keep the carcasses scrupulously clean so that they will maintain an export standard. People will have to train the Aborigines how to run the mechanics of the whole operation and to stay on the job in their own interests for months at a time and to run the concern for their own benefit as a financial success.
The same thing applies, only more so, to the running of cattle stations, which are after all land. It is the land of these people and I do not know really what more some people want to give them. They have the right to use the land and to take their profit off it. I urge the Government to endeavour to recruit people to train to put in such places - I mentioned Haasts Bluff, which has 4,000 square miles of some of the best cattle country in Central Australia - to make these projects viable. The project at Haasts Bluff has been run by a very knowledgeable cattle man in the past but he is now retired. Four thousand square miles is a fairly sizable property, even in our language. Brunette Downs is 4,700 square miles. It would take millions of dollars to bring Haasts Bluff into production. It would take many years to train the local Aboriginal people who live in that area and who would feel that they would be entitled to be in the Haasts Bluff cattle company. 1 cite Haasts Bluff, but it could be in the Port Keats or Daly River area. The same set of circumstances would apply. It will take the time, the patience and the experience of as many men and women as possible.
If you envisage going out into this country, even today when the amenities are somewhat better than they used to be, trying to get organised a 4,000 square mile property with a number of Aborigines who are essentially not used to having to work regular and lengthy hours, you would have to fence the area, build yards, build outstations, brand regularly, attend local musters, watch your own boundary fences and look after your water supply. You could have 50 or 60 bores probably worked by pump engines in times of light winds to run this sort of place. You would have to have a tremendous imagination, foresight and guts. This to my way of thinking is the basis of using the land which the Aborigines have to their own benefit. In fact very shortly I will be going out into one of these areas by aeroplane and surface vehicle to try to appraise whether it will be suitable for an old Aborigine who considers he can live on it with his family.
– 1 have been out there but hot air does not mean anything.
– I think myself that it would be a jolly good idea if the honourable member went out there and did a bit himself some time too. I would like to see him out the other side of Tanami or somewhere. 1 will be going out there. A lot of Aborigines in this area have the determination and ability to run some places on their own, but the point is that the Aboriginal philosophy is such that if one man and his family get onto a block and get a few head of cattle and some water they are obliged to see that their relatives, if they arrive on the verandah or outside the homestead, are watered, fed and cared for. They may have 70 or 80 relatives in the area, all of whom the struggling owner of the small property could find on his doorstep asking to be maintained. This is the main problem of Aborigines who have their land and ventures of their own :o organise and run. So if they can be joined in a co-operative and be given shares in the main cattle company and can understand this, all the people who would normally live in that area could take shares in this place or take shares in a property in the Port Keats area, which would take the same sort of organising, the same amount of determination and ability to get under way and the same sort of capital to bring it to fruition. The problem would be the same. So I put it to the Government that this is the real crux of the problem.
I would suggest that we try to get people with this experience although it is very hard to get people to come into this country and do this sort of job. It is all very well for some honourable members to be down in this part of the country making smart remarks, but if they made them in that area they would find that their smart remarks did not get them very far. From the table that accompanies this Bill we find that $24.5m is to be spent in the Northern Territory this year on Aboriginal projects, as against an amount of SI 6.5m provided last year. The allocations for Aboriginal secondary schools and study grants have gone up $500,000 and $250,000 respectively to a total of $3. 727m. The amount allocated for the training scheme also has been increased, as has the amount of the allocation to the Department of Health. So to say that nothing is happening with regard to Aborigines is quite wrong.
In the last minute or two I have I would like to refer to something which was mentioned by the Minister for the Environ ment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) - enterprise and thought to assist Aborigines. There is the Apatula housing project which was established at Finke in respect of which the Aborigines were consulted on what sort of design they wanted. After some months they came out with a practical design and I note that the Government has made provision for the placing of one of those houses on show so that people can see what the Aborigines themselves wanted. We hear mention of the wrong sorts of houses being foisted upon them and about Aborigines living in houses of a design they do not wish. So I would urge the use of this particular design of house. I have seen it and it has virtually indestructible walls and has open living areas and outside camping areas in and around the main weather-tight living quarters. This move is to be commended and the Government is to be commended for supporting it. I hope that it will continue along these lines.
The Opposition said that the Government is doing nothing for Aborigines, but there are over 1,000 people in the Northern Territory who are doing something practical for them and who are putting in a tremendous amount of thought. The Government is putting in the money and the Minister has introduced into this House a Bill which is designed to help the Aborigines in the States. Some very fine houses have been built with Government assistance at places like Port Keats, Goulbourn Island, Elcho Island and Anguruga. There are 4 cases that I have thought of just like that where the Government is supplying the know-how and the finance to build these houses to improve the situation for Aborigines. If honourable members come to these place they will see what has been done.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I could think from the remarks made by the apologists on the opposite side of the House that the Aboriginal situation was much more rosy than it is. In fact it is a deep disgrace that the Parliament should have to be considering an amendment, offered in all sincerity, in terms such as this and at a time such as this. I am minded to look back 15 years when I moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party for the discussion of a matter of public importance - this very subject. The terms of the discussion were: the failure of the Government to care for the well-b:ing of persons of aboriginal and part aboriginal blood by not providing State Governments with sufficient funds and not extending the payment of social services benefits to and on behalf of these persons.
We have made some progress since then. Now the Government is making some money available to the States. The Opposition says that it is not enough while honourable members opposite say that it has been quite magnificent. But what does it really amount to? A total of $14m, about the price of one Fill aircraft. We have fixed up the social services benefits more or less although there are still some very serious defects in some areas, such as unemployment benefits. During the course of that debate I quoted the following which was written in 1 839:
I am distressed for the blacks - I cannot feed them as I would - I have no clothing for them - I find I shall be obliged to relinquish giving them flour as my stock is growing short.
That was said of the situation that existed then in Victoria. A little later I discovered some remarks by a former leader of the Country Party and former Minister for Trade and Industry, the right honourable Sir John McEwen. To this end he said when he was a Minister back in 1939 that he had envisaged a long range policy. The Country Party is long on long range policies and long on statements but it is short on real action, and the Liberal Party is no better. It is a long, long haul. It is a disgrace that a country as wealthy as Australia should find any difficulty in supplying the material needs of no matter how large a minority. The Aboriginal minority is about 1 per cent of the population. There is no excuse for Aborigines to be badly housed. There is no excuse for their economic situation to be depressing. There is no excuse for the inadequacy of education and health services anywhere in Australia. There may well be plenty of excuses for not having found a solution to the social problems of people of 2 cultures living together. That, I will admit, is something to which we still have to find the answer. But there is no excuse for us to have to be debating in all sincerity today the matters that have been placed before the House.
Let us take one of them - land rights. Honourable members opposite just cannot see what it is all about. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) speaks about land rights in the same way as we speak about land for the development of housing, for the development of cattle and sheep stations, sugar production or mining. They regard land as a useable, convertible, private proprietary asset. That is not what it is all about. It has little to do with the actual commercial properties of land at all. It has to do with a whole attitude of mind, but it seems to be very difficult to get that through to honourable members opposite. One is gratified that the Labor Party has come wholeheartedly to the view that the concept of land rights is fundamental to our social conscience and the well being of the Aboriginal people of Australia. We have debated land rights in this House so often. We have discussed it at great length. We had a select committee about 9 years ago which went to Arnhem Land and examined the grievances of the people of Yirrkala. But no matter how much we speak, how much evidence we can produce or how often anthropologists and others deeply concerned with the Aboriginal people produce attitudes, ideas and concepts about this problem, we cannot get past the materialistic concept of honourable members opposite. This was the case with the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) and the honourable member for the Northern Territory. They have a different way of looking at it.
There is no point in mentioning the 94,000 square miles or whatever it is in the Northern Territory to which the Aborigines have access. Even if they have access to it, who runs it? It is not even run by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) but the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). The Minister for the Interior is the emperor of that part of the Interior republic, where his writ and the authorities’ writ run. Most of the houses that have been built in many places in the past - we may have changed the policy in recent months - are built for staff. There has to be a total change in our attitude. I have heard statements from Ministers, particularly from the Country Party, that what we are sponsoring is apartheid, that we want them to live separately.
We do not want anything of the sort. We are not sponsoring anything to which can be applied any normal English terminology. I thought that my colleague, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), hit it in a masterly fashion when he pointed out the mysticism behind our own concept of crown land and so on. All we have to do is accept the principle that there are parts of the Australian continent which are Aboriginal domain. We might have to pass an Act and somebody might dredge out of history or out of the Aboriginal language or our own language some terminology which breaks away from the concept of tenure, of freehold, of exploitation, of assets creation and of commercial profitability.
What is wrong with people living in a community on their own, away from other communities? Are they not still part of the country? Being a part of a community has no geographical significance whatsoever. Is the man who serves in the lighthouse at Wilsons Promontory, tens of miles from anywhere, still a part of the Australian community? Of course he is; it is the way one feels about it. We on this side of the House are determined that we will do whatever is necessary to satisfy the spiritual longing of the Aboriginal people in regard to land rights. Nobody is going to say here and now that the South Australian exercise has provided a total solution to the problem. We do not know exactly what the total solution is. We probably will need to establish some sort of land claims commission so that in certain areas land can be set aside in traditional ways.
Surely it would not be difficult for this Parliament with the power it has at its disposal to pass an Act - an Aboriginal lands Act - and declare all those reserves throughout Australia which presently have dotted lines around them Aboriginal land so that they could be tinkered with only by Act of Parliament. They are all vulnerable. Nothing is more vulnerable than a piece of Aboriginal land in Australia at present. In most States and certainly in Commonwealth Territories, parts of this land can be excised by simple proclamation. 1 remember the shock we all felt back in 1962 and 1963, when the battle was joined about the lands of the people of Yirrkala, to find that Arnhem Land, which we thought was inviolate, could have pieces excised out of it simply by proclamation.
We must find a new concept and I would think that any parliament worth its salt, with all the powers at its disposal and with the campaigns and the spiritual longings of the Aboriginal people to support it could easily think up some Aboriginal lands Act which would set this out, even if after that we had to find the way in which the land was to be owned and controlled. I am not in favour of freehold land in this situation anymore than I think I am in most other circumstances. I deplore the tinkering that is occurring at present with the situation in Canberra. So, that is what we are talking about when we speak about land rights. I can think of no reason at all why an Aboriginal community, even if it is 200 miles from anywhere, cannot be a satisfactory Australian community, asserting its own individuality and still being a part of the Australian scene. Other parts of the world have found answers to these questions; why cannot we?
I do not suppose anything demonstrated more effectively the Government’s attitude to this matter than its attitude to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. In the Cocos Islands, thousands of miles away, lives Mr CluniesRoss who apparently owns the area lock, stock and barrel, body, baggage, chassis and all. We were having trouble with him. Of course, he is a man of great distinction. He has been to Oxford and he is white. So the Government sent a Minister of the Crown thousands of miles to see Mr Clunies-Ross. Only the best form of transport was good enough to take the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) to the Islands to negotiate. I do not know how many times the Minister for the Interior walked across the road to Parkes Place to negotiate with the people over there. Certainly, the people who were camped on the lawns came inside the House. But how many Ministers of the Government walked across and sat on the grass to negotiate with them? That is all we ask. We should deal with people with a proper sense of dignity and if it is not possible at this stage to get across to the Government the actual spiritual situation in regard to land rights, then the members of the Government Parties are a lost cause.
My colleagues and I are also sponsoring the demands for housing. There will be hundreds of Aboriginal families who will go to bed cold, hungry, wet, miserable and uncomfortable tonight. Nobody is suggesting the provision of Melbourne suburban type houses for the people in central Australia but surely nobody suggests that we do not have the wit and the will and the financial capacity to solve the housing problems of people, wherever they are - the people of Torres Strait, which is one of the neglected areas of Australia, the people of Arnhem Land or of central Australia. I recall when we first visited Yirrkala the people there said: ‘We do not want too much of a house at this stage’. I think the thing that impressed them most was the septic system which was installed at the school; it was sewered. They said: ‘We would like that to start with and a house of this sort of size and some amenities so that we can grow with them’. That is not asking much. To talk about a handful of houses throughout Australia at this stage I think is a disgrace. Australia is a wealthy country. We are able to spend SI 00m or thereabouts on an opera house, all raised from raffles. If we can do that, we can do anything.
My colleagues have specified the difficulties existing in regard to health. Surely this should worry everybody. It has been gratifying to hear over the last few days that the members of the medical profession are getting upset about it. They are publishing articles. Members of the Opposition have been talking about Aboriginal health for 15 years. I have a report about the health of the people living at Cunnamulla. I shall just take a page at random. It refers to the situation of Aboriginal people and says that Aboriginal children provide at least 10 per cent of all infant deaths, at least 28 per cent of all second year deaths and about 9 per cent of the deaths in the 2 to 4 years age group. Yet, the Aboriginal or partAboriginal population comprises only about 1 per cent of the Australian total. There are different figures for different parts of Australia. Australia was one of the first countries to conquer infant mortality and we were probably one of the first to conquer tuberculosis but apparently this will be the last thing we will do for the Aboriginal people. Therefore, we are sincere and earnest about the amendment that we have placed before the House.
Somehow, we must find answers to some even more difficult questions. One such problem is the economic development of areas in which young Aboriginal people will grow up. They will grow up in an environment which is totally different from that in which their parents developed themselves. So, despite the rejection by Aborigines, and perhaps in the concept of land rights and the materialistic view of things, we must do something about this in the North. I do not think it will be of any use for the country if the Aboriginal people have to leave the north and settle in Sydney, Melbourne or elsewhere. When we are talking about decentralisation we must do something about this. We must do something about the employment of Aboriginal people who have settled around the towns. There are thousands of them throughout Australia and they are the first victims of unemployment. Their education is poor and their general social stability has always been bad. They are the first victims of the winds of economic change. Retraining programmes are necessary and we must accept the view that many of them will be failures for the first, the second and the third time. Those of us who have been concerned with Aboriginal organisations, as I have been, over the years have found what a difference 10 years make to a person’s maturity. We have become accustomed to a person reaching a certain stage at the age of 14 years, another stage at the age of 18 years and, if he has not started to make the distance by the age of 20 years, he is a bit of a lost cause.
In general, my experience from observation leads me to believe that we must at least be prepared to persevere with the Aboriginal people for another 15 to 20 years after we have given the average young Austraiian away because, for all sorts of reasons, Aborigines mature into our view of things at a much later stage. We have the administrative capacity to handle any number of individuals as individuals. When people say what happens in the south, that we cannot do such things from Canberra or that it is all different over there, it leaves me cold. We have a community that can administer every Australian. The Commissioner of Taxation is able to pursue every person to the last cent of his income tax. We are able to track down young Australians all over the place because they have not registered for national service. We are able to ensure that anybody, no matter where he is, votes effectively at Federal elections. We have to start to treat the Aboriginal people with the same individual concern for each person as we do, say, under the repatriation system.
My colleagues have raised the question of education. It is certainly long past time that we began to teach much more about the Aboriginal people inside the ordinary Australian schools. I expect we will have achieved something when a number of secondary schools are perhaps teaching some Aboriginal languages as a second language, because I presume that most of the teaching of second languages has nothing to do with the advantage of having learnt them but is more to do with the appreciation of other cultures. The Aboriginal person, no matter how and where he lives, has to be bi-cultural. The rest of us can do as we like. We arc part of the majority and everyone else has to put up with us. But the Aboriginal young people, particularly those who live in the north who are still associated with their tribal backgrounds, have to develop in 2 cultures.
One other point I want to make deals with consultation with the Aboriginal people. I have been associated with the Federal Council for the advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders since its inception. Those of us who have belonged to it for all these years are gratified that it has such a singular impact on the community. None of us is conceited enough or presumptuous enough to say that all or any of the things that have happened have happened simply because we were associated with it. It is an operational unit whose tentacles cover the whole of the continent, sometimes in a tenuous form. It has people in contact. Generally speaking, the Council does not have members as such. People are affiliated with it. The difference between the kind of council which the Minister created and the operations of the Federal Council are that the Federal Council has let itself grow in a more haphazard way. When it goes to Alice Springs anybody can go.
What we should be doing now is setting up operational conferences or discussions throughout Australia to which anybody within reaching distance - 150 miles or 200 miles.- can come and talk and think col lectively. My personal observation is that the continuing conferring and coming together with the Aboriginal people more than any other single factor has raised their morale, their self reliance and their total self respect. If there is any gratification one can obtain from having been called all sorts of things in this business it is from the fact that the Aboriginal people now stand up and speak for themselves. Sometimes they speak in voices with which I disagree, but 1 do not mind that. The essence of the contract is that they are speaking for themselves. This is what we have to do.
If, as 1 suspect, the Government has on occasions attempted to form another organisation to speak for or to represent the Aboriginal people, I think that is divisive. Those of us who are concerned with politics should know full well that the going concerns are the ones which ought to be sponsored and encouraged. I place on record my respect for all those who, over the 15 or 16 years in which the Federal Council has been in business, have selflessly and in all sorts of dedicated ways thought and worked for and expanded the opportunity of the Aboriginal people of Australia to be an effective part of the community. Some of the founders, such as Mrs Blackburn, are dead now. Some like Dr Duguid are still alive and well. I think that that organisation has a basis upon which any sorts of operations could be expanded.
I am not too sure that, in the councils which the Minister creates, he pays quite enough respect to people - not to people like me. I am an incidental part of it. I am just a national runner. But those Aboriginal people who created the Federal Council, who have kept it alive, who have been about and have carried on the battle sometimes in a most hostile environment, ought to be given a great deal more respect even though they are grateful for the occasional assistance for fares and such things when it turns up. The main thing is that it does not matter what the Aboriginal people say as long as they start to speak up loud and long. After all, we are used to a lot of eccentric views being expressed, particularly from the other side of this House. But we do not suppress honourable members opposite nor do we pay them less respect for it.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns). Mentioned in the various sections of the amendment are all the things for which Australia has stood condemned in the past. I suggest that the House should support the amendment because, by accepting it, it will at least show that it is really fair dinkum in its attitude towards solving the problems of Aboriginals. The first point in the amendment condemns the Government for not accepting its full responsibility in Aboriginal matters following the referendum in 1967. The Bill before the House is the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill. The Opposition feels that the Commonwealth, instead of just passing money on to the States as it does, should be taking a greater interest itself, mainly because the attitudes to Aboriginals vary from State to State. Some States have a particularly bad record of treatment of Aboriginals. Others are a little better. I do not think that any State is perfect. I feel that this variation between the States in their attitudes to Aborigines is one of the reasons why the Commonwealth should take full responsibility, and that is one of the reasons why the first point in the amendment should be accepted.
The amendment refers to the Government’s neglect to consult the Aboriginal people. Arguments could probably be developed on this point. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) and other speakers have already pointed out areas where the Government has not consulted the Aboriginal people and, as a result, has taken the wrong course. The amendment refers to the Government’s refusal to restore land rights to Aborigines. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) covered that matter pretty fully and so did the honourable member for Lalor. The question that worries me most is the question of housing. In the paper issued by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) we see a list of houses to be built by the Commonwealth. With the increasing growth of the Aboriginal population - it is a fast growing section of the Australian people - we are not overcoming the problem. We are not catching up with the increasing growth. We are not really getting at the teeth of the problem.
Something has been said today about non-European housing. The electorate which I represent contains a fair number of Aboriginal people, from the people in the north west corner who have had contact with the white man for only a few years, to the possibly more sophisticated people in the south - people with regular jobs, living in Europeanised conditions. In the north west Aboriginal reserve, where the housing position is possibly the worst, people are still living in humpies. They are not living as they did in the past when the humpy was probably suitable accommodation. As soon as they tired of a particular area or as soon as the area was befouled they moved on and built more humpies, wurlies, or wiltjas as they are referred to in the Pitjantjatjara. I have taken the opportunity to look at some of the accommodation of the Aboriginals in the north western area. These people are experimenting. They have tried a few things such as wire mesh frames with coverings over them, Nissan type huts and so forth. Of course, most of the people are still living in the wiltjas in which they lived before. I have heard an anthropologist say that this is the way in which they want to live and that a set environment could be unhealthy. The number of animals such as dogs around the place could cause a lot of the ill health that is experienced in this area. The mortality rate in that oval piece of country from the north west Aboriginal area to Alice Springs is very high. I certainly hope that with the efforts being made by the South Australian Government and with the provision of health services by the Federal Government, these mortality figures will be reduced considerably.
I think the most important point, and one with which I come into contact a great deal, is employment. I have been notified by the Commonwealth Employment Service at various times about the amount of unemployment in my area. Although I do not say that the figures are fictitious I would like to point out that the Service is registering only those who come along and report to it. However, there are very many itinerant people who stay in a town for a short time and then move on because they do not pick up a job straight away. Of course, as the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) said, the people who come down from the rural areas and the north possibly are not quite used to an urbanised society; they run into social problems, trouble and so on. The training of people for employment also is important. Training schemes could be started on reserves in the north-west. I think that if we are to do the right thing by Aboriginal people we have to overcome the problem of employment.
We have a pretty bad situation when we link the problem of unemployment with poor educational opportunities that existed in the past, bad health conditions and so on. I realise that the South Australian Government, with possibly some assistance from the Commonwealth, has provided improved educational facilities for Aborigines. I know that a number of Aboriginal children are going to the local high school in my area. Some of these children have reached third and fourth year level and are equivalent in ability to quite a number of white children. But I am afraid that once Aboriginal children receive an education they do not have the opportunity to get the jobs that they want.
Much was said earlier about angry Aborigines. I think that we are really courting trouble if we educate Aboriginal children in an urbanised or country town situation and then throw them back on to the scrapheap. What we have is a person with a reasonable amount of education but who is unemployed. Mention has been made of protests. I think that these people will protest and that they have every right to do so if we aTe to throw them back on to the scrap-heap.
I can see some advances being made in my area. I think it could be admitted that the South Australia Government has possibly the most progressive ideas in relation to Aborigines. However, at the same time I think that the South Australian Government and indeed, all of us would admit that there is still a long way to go. As the honourable member for Fremantle has said, the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition sets goals - goals which I think are attainable and which I hope this Parliament will see are carried out in the near future.
– in reply - I think I should remind the House at the outset of the purpose of the Bill we are discussing. It is for the purpose of making grants to the States for Aboriginal advancement in this financial year. Also I remind the House that this legislation deals only with the actual $ 14.5m which is to be provided to the States for certain purposes this year. However, looking at this matter in the wider sphere I would like to say, as I said in my second reading speech, that the Federal Government will provide this year, in conjunction with the State governments, a total of $65m for 140,000 people.
The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) said that there was no mention in my speech of aims and goals for the Aboriginal community. The purpose of my speech was to deal with grants to the States in this financial year. But let me go back to the statement that was made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on 26th January. The Prime Minister said that the eventual aim is that Aboriginal Australians should be assisted as individuals, or if they wish, as groups, to hold effective and respected places within one Australian society, with equal access to the rights and opportunities it provides and acceptance of responsibilities towards it. He said that at the same time they should be encouraged and assisted to preserve and develop their own culture, languages, traditions and arts. He went on to say that we recognise the rights of individual Aborigines to effective choice about the degree to which, and the pace at which, they come to identify themselves with the Aboriginal society and that we encourage and assist them to develop their culture, languages, traditions and arts so that these can become living elements in the Australian society.
Having said that, I ask the honourable member for Fremantle where is the difference between that aim and his aim to encourage the Aborigines to become a distinctive people. I am sure, having listened to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), that he does not believe that we should favour the equivalent of Bantustans, ghettos or any other form of separate development. I presume that the honourable member for Fremantle does not believe that is the answer. If it is not the answer I find it difficult to understand where his aim and ours are very much at variance.
I listened to what was said by the honourable members for Wills, Brisbane (Mr Cross) and Fremantle. I gather that they wish the Aborigines to develop as a distinctive people. Does that mean that the Aborigines should stay as they are? I do not think it does because one of the parts of the Opposition’s amendment asserts that we should provide more employment for Aborigines and that we should be doing more in the field of health so that the standard of health and the way in which health services are provided are similar to the bases of those provided to other Australians. The amendment also said that their housing should be similar to ours. If honourable members opposite say that education, health, employment and housing services should all be on those lines, surely they are advocating that in the long run we shall be moving towards one community, preserving distinctive cultures of Aborigines but certainly moving in the more material things of life to one common community. That is the aim of this Government.
I do not believe that honourable members opposite have properly thought out the differences between their policy and our policy. I have met with Aboriginal people and I am certain that the desires of the Aboriginal people are changing year by year. The more, people who come out of the education system and the more people who ask for the sort of employment that has been mentioned this afternoon, the more changes there are in the fundamental desires of Aborigines. Therefore, the essential task of this Government is to maintain a flexible policy towards Aborigines in order to find out as the years go by how we can achieve those aims that I believe rightly have been set out.
The second point that has been mentioned is consultation with the Aboriginal people. I cannot agree more with honourable members opposite when they say that we should be doing much more than has been done in the past to consult directly with the Aborigines. I do not believe, for instance, that the way in which the honourable member for Wills suggested consultation should take place - that is through the Federal Council of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders - is the answer. What is quite clear is that there are different aims, desires and goals for different parts of Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. The aims and goals of the people who live at Redfern are not the same as those of the people who live in Arnhem Land. It is because of this that I do not believe that one representative in this House would be able to state the aims of the Aboriginal people. I think that at this stage in our development it is wiser for me to endeavour to get together as broad a cross-section of Aboriginal representation as is possible throughout the nation. As the honourable member for Brisbane said, there are advantages in having direct consultation with the various groups who live in small communities throughout the continent. But at the same time there are also advantages in getting all the groups together so that they can understand that the aims and goals for those living in parts of the Northern Territory are different from the aims and goals for those living in the urban areas and that, therefore, there are advantages from time to time in getting together on a national basis. I refer to this system of advisory councils for which I have been labouring over the last year. I am not attempting to suggest that the representation is perfect at this time but I believe that it is the best that can be devised at this moment, and we shall work towards improving it as the months go by. I do not think anybody has done more than I have as Minister to try to ensure a better consultation direct with the Aboriginal people rather than through intermediaries.
My third point concerns our relationship with the States. Here again I think there is a slight inability on the part of the Opposition in its amendment to think through this problem, because there seems to be some conflict between paragraph (a) and paragraph (h) of its amendment. Paragraph (a) reads: its failure over a period of more than 5 years to exercise the full and direct responsibility in Aboriginal Affairs . . .
Paragraph (h) reads: its failure to assist the States in meeting these responsibilities . . .
What is the attitude of the Opposition towards our relations with the State governments? Does the Opposition believe that ali responsibility for Aboriginal affairs should be taken over by the Commonwealth Government? Should we have schools for Aborigines only in Redfern and Brisbane? Should we take over all responsibility in relation to Aboriginal land rights and mining rights? I think that we would find it very difficult to do this under the Constitution. I am certain that the only way in which we can work effectively for the best advantage to the Aboriginal people is to work more closely with the State governments and State Ministers. I believe that the meeting I had with State Ministers in Darwin this year showed that generally all of us believed - State and Federal Ministers alike - that we are working towards the right goals as set out in the Prime Minister’s statement of 26th January. Therefore, I reject the Opposition’s amendment, particularly paragraphs (a) and (h), because we have been moving towards helping the States. There has not been too much comment during the course of this debate about the level of aid to the States; rather comments have been related to whether that aid should be better directed.
The next matter with which I feel 1 must deal is this question of land. Firstly, 1 think the Opposition has omitted to realise what the Commonwealth Government is doing in the field of delineating and protecting the sites of special and sacred significance to the Aboriginal people. 1 hope that honourable members opposite will study the report of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies which deals with this matter. I have referred to that report once already in this House. I have accepted all of the recommendations contained in the report and 1 am now putting into operation as rapidly as possible means whereby we. in conjunction with discussions with the Aboriginal communities, can delineate the sites that are of special and sacred significance to Aborigines and preserve them for all time for the purposes which they desire. That is the first point I wish to raise.
My second point concerns another facet of the recommendations of the Institute, namely that those sites that are of importance historically but not of importance to living Aborigines should be treated as sites which all Australians should be encouraged to visit so that they can understand to a greater degree than has been possible in the past the essential aspects of Aboriginal life and tradition. This is another recommendation of the Institute which I have accepted, and I hope that the Aboriginal communities will assist in pointing out to visitors, to tourists and to all Australians interested in these things, the essential significance of the sites. These sites which have been of significance to the Aboriginal people for 4,000 years bear the same sort of relationship to Aborigines as do churches and other sacred areas to other parts of the Australian community.
I have not as yet really heard from the Opposition where our policy dealing with general purpose leases in the Northern Territory differs from the land policy that it is advocating. The honourable member for Wills said that he did not wish to see the land provided to these communities on a freehold basis. I ask him this: ls there very much difference between a general purpose lease which we are advocating and the type of land tenure system that he is putting forward? I am certain of one thing, and that is that our policy must be flexible because the desires in relation to the use of land and land tenure will change in the next 20 or 30 years, and we must not tie down the future to the present to the extent that we shall not be able to change these things if the Aboriginal communities desire them to be changes. So again I think that honourable members opposite should think a little more deeply and spell out a little more clearly what are the differences between their policy and our own.
Other matters have been referred to today and I must deal with them very quickly. First of all, in the field of education it was suggested that we should do more towards helping to educate Aborigines in their own tongue. 1 think what we have done in the language laboratory at Alice Springs, what is being taken up on Elcho Island and what has been achieved already in parts of the north and south of Australia and in Western Australia shows that we have been moving in that direction over the last year.
The honourable member for Lalor suggested that there should be more imagination in the field of housing. I hope he has studied the report of the seminar that took place on Aboriginal housing at which we asked imaginative architects from the Australian Institute of Architects to meet Aboriginal communities and to develop Aboriginal styles of housing to meet their own needs. The house at Finke is one example, but there are others. 1 believe we have been imaginative in this field. We are ahead of what the Opposition would desire to take place in the field of housing, because over the last 4 years we estimate that we have provided sufficient housing for more than 14,000 members of the Aboriginal community. Before we go much further we will have to look again at this question of flexibility and ask ourselves: Will the Aboriginal communities stay in the places where they are now? Have those tribes which were nomadic only a few years ago when the honourable member for Fremantle and 1 were on the House of Representatives Select Committee on Voting Rights for Aborigines ceased to be nomadic? Will those tribes in the Docker River, Uendumu, Kapunda and Hooker Creek areas remain there or will there be further movement? Will we be able to find continuing employment for the people in those areas? If not, will we have to encourage them to move to areas where there are greater opportunities for employment? If there is to be movement, should we be providing inflexible types of housing and other types of accommodation in those areas. Until we have the answers to these questions, 1 think there should be flexibility. Certainly we should be doing more for employment in rural areas. A tremendous amount has been done in the last year and, through the outstanding efforts of the Department of Labour and National Service, employment opportunities in the urban areas have been increased. I could not agree more with the Opposition that we need the results of the 1971 census as rapidly as possible. Until we have many of the figures that will be provided therein, we will not be able to get all the answers that honourable members on both sides of the House desire.
In the general fields of housing, education, health and employment the informa tion I presented in my second reading speech has shown that considerable advance was made over the last year. As I said at the time, I am not complacent about this but I do believe that if honourable members opposite accept the fundamental aims to which we are moving - I have not heard, even though there has been a lot of talk today, in what way the Opposition’s fundamental aims really differ from our own - then I think that what I have put to the House is in line with what the Aboriginal people desire. I hope that over the coming year there shall be greater opportunities for consultation, and if there are ways in which the present allocation of funds needs to be modified in order to give greater emphasis to some facets of the programme and less to others, we will do what we can to achieve them. But in the meantime I feel certain that what we are doing is on the right line. We have been thinking out where they wish to go and we will help them to achieve their eventual goals. For all those reasons I reject the amendment put forward by the Opposition.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr J. F. Cairns’ amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr J. Corbett)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Howson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 13th September (vide page 1352), on motion by Mr Garland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to borrowings by the Commonwealth not exceeding the equivalent of $US25m - $A21m - to assist Qantas Airways Ltd in financing the purchase of a sixth Boeing 747 jet aircraft, together with spare parts and related equipment at an estimated cost of approximately $US29m or $A24m.
The Opposition is not satisfied with the terms of this Bill. For that reason I move as an amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House is of the opinion that the passage of this Bil] should be delayed until (1) firm arrangements are made for substantial coproduction procedures for imported aircraft, (2) a select committee is appointed to inquire into and report upon the effectiveness of Qantas management and (3) the terms of (he loan agreement are set forth in a schedule to the Bill’.
I will deal with this Bill to some degree in reverse from the way in which I have presented the amendment. The Opposition is concerned at the reason for bringing this measure before the House. The aircraft to be purchased is not due for delivery until March 1974. Yet here we are in September 1972 and a Bill has been presented to the House to authorise the borrowing of this money. There is no firm proposal by the Minister as to where the money is to be borrowed. All that we can ascertain from the ministerial statement is that the. Government is making an application to the American Export Import Bank to advance a certain amount of money, which will represent approximately half of the total cost of the aircraft - that is, assuming that the. money is available from the Export Import Bank. There is no indication of where the rest of the money will come from. Indeed, in other words, a hypothetical proposition is being submitted to this Parliament and we are being asked to approve of it.
We on this side of the House are not satisfied with this haphazard and loose, manner of bringing this measure before the Parliament. There does not appear to be any reason for it. I am wondering what the Government is up to. What is behind the whole thing? Is it because the Government knows it will be defeated in a few months when the election is held and therefore it wants to commit the Parliament by way of this legislation to something with which it is afraid the Opposition may not be prepared to proceed? I should like the Minister, when he replies, to give reasons for the urgency of this measure. Why has this legislation to be brought forward almost 18 months before delivery of the aircraft will be taken? Another aspect is that the last time that we had a Loan (Qantas Airways Ltd) Bill before the House, in November 1971, the Government gave assurances that certain objectionable clauses in previous agreements would not be. written into further agreements, including the one about Qantas being debarred from flying the aircraft into any communist country. Yet the Americans fly their own aircraft into these countries.
A letter was presented to the Parliament by the Minister which was to be forwarded to the United States. It was a letter of intent by Qantas. The heading in Hansard was:
Text of Letter to be given by Qantas on Use of Aircraft.
The quote continued:
I refer to the Loan Agreement dated as of . . . 1971 between the Commonwealth of Australia, The Boeing Company and Eximbank made for the purpose of enabling the Commonwealth to make available to Qantas amounts required by Qantas to assist in financing the purchase of one Boeing 747 aircraft, spare parts and related equipment and services, together called in the Loan Agreement ‘the Equipment’.
It is not the present intention of Qantas that any of the Equipment is either:
principally for use in, or sale or lease to any communist country as defined in Section 620(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act 1961 as amended to the date hereof; or
principally for use by or in any nation engaged in armed conflict, declared or otherwise, with the Armed Forces of the US.
This statement appears at page 2941 of Hansard of 3rd November 1971. I should like an assurance from the Minister that a letter will be despatched to the United States setting out Qantas’s position and that we will not be bound by previous agreements whereby Qantas could not fly the aircraft concerned to any communist country.
In each of the last 2 Loan (Qantas Airways Ltd) Bills- on 23rd April 1971 and 7 October 1971 - was a schedule which set out the whole terms and conditions in detail of the loans between Qantas, the Eximbank, Boeing and the people from whom the money was to be borrowed. But on this occasion we have a flimsy and very patchy document which gives us no factual information as to the way the money is to be borrowed, conditions of repayment, interest charges or anything else. As I said in my opening remarks, this is a most unsatisfactory method of bringing legisla tion of this type to the Parliament, asking Parliament to give the. Government a blank cheque up to a figure of $US25m. The whole situation is unsatisfactory. This is to be one of the final pieces of legislation by the Government. At least the next government will be in a position to bring down positive legislation for the endorsement of Parliament and not Bills presented in this manner.
The other terms of the amendment call for a select commitee to inquire into the affairs of Qantas. The Parliament is now being asked to pass a Bill involving some $A21m. Where is Qantas’s report for the last 12 months? Rumours are rife that Qantas, in the 12 months of operation ended 30th March of this year - one cannot take much notice of rumour, but it is commonly accepted - has lost a considerable amount of money. The figures that have been mentioned for this loss have been between $5m and $6m. Twelve months ago, on 29th September 1971, Qantas’s annual report was presented to this Parliament prior to the Parliament’s being asked to permit Qantas to borrow money under one of the Bills to which I have just referred. Why has not Qantas’s annual report been presented to this Parliament for consideration when dealing with this Bill so that we are in a position to know all the details or some of the details at least of its operations?
The Minister has that report at his disposal. Why have not other honourable members in this place likewise been paid the courtesy of being given a copy of it? It has been printed. Surely it should be available to honourable members. When an important measure such as this is presented we should have all the facts and factors and not have to rely on Press reports of alleged rumours and so on as to what is taking place in this industry. We have no factual information as to the operations of Qantas - whether they are on the up grade or are continuing to deteriorate. It is obvious that in 1971-72 substantial losses were incurred by Qantas. We should have this information available to us. This is another one of the reasons why the Opposition opposes this Bill and why we are moving for its deferment until we can get this factual information.
I wrote asking for details of the general operations of Qantas. We are buying an additional Boeing 747 aircraft costing $29m. Is there a need for it? Does the present loading justify the purchase of this additional ai-craft? What does Qantas propose doing with the Boeing 707 aircraft that are already in its possession? Does it propose selling the aircraft? If so, what are the conditions under which the aircraft will be sold? Is it a reasonable world market at the present time in which to sell Boeing 707s? Rumours say it is a very good time because allegedly there is a shortage of Boeing 707 aircraft of the type that Qantas owns at present. Why does not the Minister give us this information? Why does not the second reading speech contain factual information on the operations of Qantas? What is the position regarding these aircraft?
I have figures which disclose, for example, that on the Australia to London via Singapore route the seat factor since 1967-68 has dropped from 59.6 per cent to 51.8 per cent in 1971-72. Naturally, the figures for 1972-73 are not yet available. On the Australia to London via Hong Kong route the seat factor declined from 61.2 per cent in 1967-68 to 54.2 per cent in 1971-72. I am really concerned about the Australia to London via San Francisco route on which the seat factor declined from 49.8 per cent in 1967-68 to 40 per cent in 1971-72. According to Press reports the decline is continuing. On the Australia to London via Mexico route the decline over the some period is from 50.7 per cent to 49.9 per cent; on the Australia to Hong Kong and Tokyo route the decline is from 51.8 per cent to 45.2 per cent. On the Australia to Johannesburg service the seat factor rose from 47.5 per cent to 60.1 then declined to 48.7 per cent in 1971-72.
When studying these figures one important factor to be borne in mind is that, as I have said, in 1969-70 on the Australia to Johannesburg route Qantas had a load factor of 60.1 per cent. It rose to that figure from 1967-68 and then dropped to 48.7 per cent, the lowest figure for the last 4 years. On the Australia to New Zealand service Qantas has a very good load factor average, and also on the service to New Caledonia. The figures are also good for the run from Sydney to Norfolk Island and Auckland. The figures are particularly good for those runs for the simple reason that Qantas and to some degree Air New Zealand have a monopoly on the operation. They have it between them and they run enough scheduled flights to cater for the traffic available. This is common sense. This is the way in which an airline should operate and not with the present cut-throat methods that are being employed on the Australia to San Francisco run. I believe that on that run Qantas is losing a considerable amount of money.
In November last year when we were discussing a similar Bill the Opposition was critical of the manner in which Qantas was conducting its business and we are still critical. The load factor on the Australia to United Kingdom route has been lifted considerably as figures in my possession disclose. For example, in June 1972 there was a seat factor of 70.8 per cent, compared with 56.3 per cent in June 1971. This rise indicates just what is taking place in improving load factors through the introduction of cheap tourist class fares. No positive statement has been made by the Minister or the management of Qantas about the load factor on the Australia to Europe run since the introduction of the cheap air fare of $700 return or $420 single fare to Europe. What is the load factor? Once again one can only judge by rumours in the industry which indicate that the load factor is about 75 per cent. Qantas had a load factor in June this year of 70.8 per cent, but is that a profitable operation? Why do not the Government and the Minister give us this information?
If we had the latest annual report of Qantas before us when debating this Bill we might be able to elicit that information. We will continue to criticise the Government because we do not have the latest information which should be available to honourable members. On the Australia to London via Singapore route following the introduction of cheap fares the seat factor rose from 58.6 per cent to 74.9 per cent but that is where the real problem starts. The cut throat competition is felt on the Australia to London via San Francisco route, particularly from Pan American and American Airlines. These two airlines together with Qantas provide what I consider to be shocking over-capacity. On that run in June 1972 the seat factor was 35.6 per cent as against 41.7 per cent in the previous June. In May 1972 the seat factor was 32.3 per cent, as against 38.5 per cent in May last year. In April this year it was 29.9 per cent as against 31.3 per cent in April last year.
If the break even point is a load factor of 50 per cent, or whatever figure close to that it may be, honourable members are given an indication of the amount of money being lost by Qantas particularly on the Pacific route. We have no positive figures on the seat factor since the introduction of cheap fares on the Australia to Europe route. The Government and the Minister should- be explaining these matters to honourable members so that we can have some information to guide us. In addition to introducing cheap fares on the Australia to Europe route Qantas recently introduced a new system of cheap fare tourist travel between Australia and Singapore. This has been an overwhelming success. We are led to believe that Qantas is fully booked out on this service for months in advance but I am concerned that all of this traffic is being generated in Australia. Practically no traffic is being generated in Singapore or Malaysia.
As a result of the new scheme Qantas has to share the business with Singapore Airlines. We create the traffic, we provide the customers, but we have to give up half of the business. Is this fair and reasonable? Is this system of operating a reasonable one? Honourable members will be looking at these points very closely in the not too distant future. I am also concerned about the way Qantas is operating on its round the world flights from Australia to London, London to the east coast of the United States, to the west coast of the United States and down through the Pacific. I believe that Qantas is placed at a decided disadvantage and it is time that it considered seriously terminating its round the world ideas, discontinuing the North Atlantic run from London to New York and also the cross-America run, and flying from Australia to the United States west coast. In this way I believe that traffic would be restricted completely to Qantas and the 2 American operators - Pan Am and American Airlines. This would cut out some of the existing competition. I believe this is something that Qantas has to consider seriously, because under the reciprocal agreement if Qantas flies from London to Australia via America the British Overseas Airways Corporation and other operators are entitled to come down this run. Some most unfavourable reports have come to me about our pool partner, BOAC. I have been told that when Qantas has arranged for people to book seats on a Qantas flight from America, where BOAC is our agent, they have been unable to do so. They have been told that Qantas was fully booked out but that they could get seats on BOAC. These are just some of the things that the industry is talking about and on which I would like some pretty clear statements from the Minister.
I am concerned also about flight loads and reciprocal agreements. If we continue this round the world operation, what right have the American operators - Pan Am and American Airlines - to operate out of Australia to Hong Kong and Thailand? If Qantas does not fly from Australia to the west coast of the United States, then to the east coast of the United States and from there to London, other international operators likewise have no rights in Australia to fly from America to the east coast of Australia and from there on to Hong Kong or to Thailand. The airline business is a ruthless business, and I believe that if Qantas is to survive these things have to be examined. They should be examined by members of this Parliament so that at least we know what is happening and what is going on in the airline business. These are the things that are important.
There are other fields that should be closely examined and that only a parliamentary select committee can fully investigate, inquire into and report to the Parliament on. There has been a reciprocal agreement between Australia and Singapore. Now Ceylon has come into it. Air Ceylon has come into the field and is now demanding reciprocal rights with Qantas. For the number of times that Qantas lands at Colombo, Air Ceylon wants the right to make flights to Australia. That does not mean that it will fly simply from Ceylon to Australia. It means that it will fly to London and the other stops through to Australia. I have been told that each exchange of flight granted represents a loss of Sim to Qantas. So if Qantas is to stay in international operations these are the things it has to be looking at. I know that I will be asked how Qantas will avoid operating through Singapore and Ceylon. It could possibly go through Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Hong Kong, but al] these places have problems for Qantas under the reciprocal agreements.
I have discussed this point with people in the airline industry and they have assured me that Cocos Island is a definite proposition as far as Qantas is concerned. It is a Territory of the Commonwealth. If Qantas were to operate through Cocos Island it would eliminate some of the flights through Singapore, Ceylon, Bangkok and Hong Kong, having in mind that much of Qantas’s traffic today is under the cheap air fare arrangement. Therefore by spending, I believe, approximately $l2m on lengthening and strengthening the strip that is already in existence at Cocos it would be a proposition to fly Boeing 707s and Boeing 747s regularly through Cocos on to Bahrein or Athens and from there on to London. This proposition has been considered by people in the airline industry. From a Qantas point of view, with so many of our passengers now committed to a one stop arrangement, there is no reason in the world why the Government cannot extend its idea about making Cocos Island a base for Australian naval operations and Air Force operations to include Qantas operations also. If it wants to make it a complete tourist operation, let it put a tourist hotel there and provide facilities for duty free selling as we already have at all Australian international airports and as exist in other countries. This is one of the attractions. Let us face the facts of life. Duty free shopping is one of the major attractions of Singapore. These are the things Qantas should be doing.
The present tourist promotion activities of Qantas are designed to take people out of Australia. I do not know of any proposition by Qantas to bring people into Australia. After all we have a tourist industry here. We have chains of hotels, motels and the like which operate at the many and varied tourist attractions in Australia. I would hope to see Qantas in the not too distant future, by arrangement with overseas travel agents, bringing people from other countries to Australia. I mentioned that Qantas should terminate its Pacific operations on the west coast of America. When it terminates it operations there I believe it could make a deal with one of the many domestic operators in the United States. I do not want to name any airline in particular, but there are a number of domestic airlines in the United States that operate from coast to coast. I believe it would be an even better proposition if, instead of flying from San Francisco to New York and from there on to London, Qantas could make a deal with one of the internal domestic United States operators, preferably one which flies on to London. This would be a decided advantage to Qantas.
The same thing can be said about travel agents. I believe Qantas should be negotiating for partnership arrangements in some of the overseas travel agencies so at least these agencies will be working not only in the interests of their own domestic airlines but also in the interests of providing and finding business for Qantas. These are things that should be done. I would like some information. I would like some reasons from the Minister as to why these things have not been done in the past and why they cannot be done in the future. I put forward these ideas on behalf of the Opposition because we are totally dissatisfied with the manner in which Qantas is being operated today by this Government.
Large numbers of staff have recently been dismissed by the airline after a great expansion programme. Men who were encouraged to leave the Royal Australian Air Force and come to work for Qantas have been laid off. People were encouraged to come here from overseas, and when they got here they were sacked. Qantas is expanding its fleet and we have no explanation about why it should be expanded. I have outlined some of the things that should be done in the operations of this airline. We accept it as a great airline. We of the Opposition want to see it prosper and expand and operate in the best interests of this country and in the interests of the airline staff.
We are concerned also by the recent appointments to the Qantas board. When the Government could have taken the opportunity of bringing on to that board men who have a great knowledge of the industry because, they have worked in it, not one trade unionist was appointed to that board.
– You must be joking.
– The trade unions are represented on other boards. At least the Liberal Government in New South Wales had the decency to put one trade unionist on the board of the State dockyard in Newcastle. Of the 8 board members of Qantas not one represents the trade union movement. The men on the board might have been good men in their own fields, but with the exception of Caplain Ritchie and the recent appointee Sir Donald Anderson, they have no real knowledge of airline operations. I have, said quite a deal outside this place about the appointment of Sir Donald Anderson. I do not agree with this appointment. He should make up his mind whether he wants to be the Director-General of Civil Aviation or a board member of Qantas. Sir Donald Anderson and Captain Ritchie are the only 2 on the board who have any knowledge of airline operations. No other member of the board has any knowledge of transport operations, tourist activities, running motels and hotels and all the things which are so important to an international airline today that wants to extend its business to encourage people to come to this country to provide revenue for our own tourist industry instead of doing what Qantas is doing at the moment - encouraging Australians to go overseas and spend their money on overseas tourist attractions. We need a Minister who is prepared to help not only the airline but also the Australian tourist industry. For the reasons I have stated the Opposition has moved an amendment and asks the House to support it.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– There is nobody on this side of the House who over the last two or three years has been more vocally critical than I of the activities of Qantas Airways. On occasions I have found myself in agreement with some of the sentiments expressed by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) but it is now fast reaching the stage where the honourable member for Newcastle could be compared - I say this kindly, not meaning to be insulting - with a dog with a bone. He has found this Qantas bone. He shakes it, buries it, digs it up again, gives it another shake and does not know when to put it down. Some of the terms of the amendment moved today would have been more appropriate 18 months ago. I refer particularly to the second part of the amendment, which suggests at this late stage that a select committee be set up to inquire into and report upon the effectiveness of Qantas management.
I too have been critical in the past, but in defence of Qantas I would say that in recent times it has got the message loud and clear. There has been a definite updating of its attitude and a throwing off of the nostalgia, of living in the glories of the past. There has been a recognition that the airline industry is the most competitive in the world. I hope that Australia will benefit from this new aggressiveness by bringing to this country tourists who will bring in foreign currency and so in the long term help us in our development. I have said on many occasions that as a nation we are but babes in arms when it comes to the handling of the tourist industry and I hope that after the next election, when this Government is returned, we will see a recognition of what has been done in other countries and an application of some of those principles in this country.
The honourable member for Newcastle in moving the amendment which he hopes no doubt will be voted for by honourable members on this side of the House, suggests that the Bill should be delayed for a number of reasons, one being until firm arrangements are made for substantial co-production procedures on imported aircraft. I cannot help but wonder how much homework the honourable member has done in the preparation of his speech tonight because the facts of life are that up until May this year the Boeing Corporation had placed in Australia $7. 3m worth of orders, consisting of orders for such things as rudders, elevators and wing span ribs for the 727 aircraft, and we have now reached the stage where Australia is the only source of supply for those components. Yet the honourable member for Newcastle suggests that the Government is doing nothing on the 747 aircraft In April discussions were held with the vice president of Boeing on an offset order of $20m. If honourable members were to take seriously the terms of this amendment they would think that the Government has done nothing. This is not correct. The only reason that these orders were not placed was our inability to cope with some of the sophisticated requirements of the 747, and this is understandable for a young and developing country. Furthermore, Boeing has stationed engineers in Australia on a permanent basis for the next 3 years in connection with offset projects.
The honourable member for Newcastle suggests that the Bill should be delayed because nothing has been done. I would say with great respect to the honourable member that a great effort has been made and that we have achieved benefits for this country. 1 am quite certain that if more opportunities present themselves this Government will be able to foresee them and take every opportunity to obtain what is offering. The honourable member for Newcastle suggests also that the Bill should be delayed because the terms of the loan agreement are unknown to him. In his second reading speech the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) set out the arrangements for the financing of this sixth aircraft which will be by virtue of an application to the Export-Import Bank of the United States of America for a loan of $11. 3m at 6 per cent interest. These negotiations have successfully concluded and at this time other negotiations are under way to obtain the rest of the money which, I believe, will come from a continental source. The facts of life are that this Bill must go through. There is nothing devious on the part of this Government. The honourable member for Newcastle suggests that we should delay the passing of the Bill to enable the Opposition to set its own conditions after the next election. The Australian Labor Party has been living on hope for some 23 years now, and if this Government had had to put everything off until after each coming election nothing would have been done in the last 2 decades. This attitude has pervaded the thinking of the honourable member for Newcastle since last July when he made Press statements condemning Qantas and its board of directors. So it is nothing new.
There is nothing unfair or hidden in the decision to bring on this Bill. The Government at this time has to make substantial contract payments which are due on delivery, and the rest of the amount sought in the Bill is to cover the pre-delivery payments. The honourable member for Newcastle has not at any stage in the last couple of years stopped pursuing Qantas. I do not know what Qantas has done to him, whether it lost his luggage in some foreign port or whether there is some other reason why he is so anti-Qantas, but I would hope that after the next election, if he retains his shadow portfolio, he sees a little good in Qantas and recognises that it is now endeavouring - I use the words ‘now endeavouring’ - to get back on the path of success. That Qantas may make a loss this year - only the second time in the history of the airline - is something which causes me little bother. We most certainly would like to see a profit made but, if Qantas can go through this most difficult period in world aviation history with only slight losses, it is doing fairly well. I am quite certain that the infusion of new blood in the board of Qantas - 3 new directors have been appointed - which I sincerely hope is but a beginning is already showing results. I hope that there will be a continued recognition that the directors who are appointed in the next few years should be men who are capable of grappling with and handling the most competitive industry in the world today.
Debate (on motion by Mr Keating) adjourned.
– by leave - Last May, the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) tabled in this House a Treasury economic paper entitled ‘Overseas Investment in Australia’. In doing so, he identified 3 problems associated with overseas investment. They were the high level of capital inflow and the potential problem that creates for managing the domestic economy; the suggestions of exchange rate speculation to which such inflows give rise, and the possible consequences of that; and, the sheer growth of foreign ownership and control of important elements of our economy. Since May this year, the Government has been conducting a review in depth of our policy towards overseas investment. We were aided in this by the public debate which the Treasury economic paper generated.
Today I want to announce the Government’s decisions to date arising out of that review. Before doing so, however, I wish to make clear the Government’s view of the past and future role of overseas capital. Overseas capital has played a vital role in Australia’s development. It has added considerably to the resources available for our growth. It has brought with it valuable technological know-how and access to overseas markets; it has created new industries. As a result, Australia is a larger nation, and a more prosperous one. The inflow of capital has been associated with increasing overseas ownership and control of industry in Australia. This has been one cost of the increased growth which has come from welcoming overseas capital. In the past, this has been a cost which, in our judgment, has been outweighed by the benefits. Nonetheless, our policy has been to encourage overseas capital to come insofar as practicable on a joint basis - and in close co-operation with Australian-owned enterprises. But circumstances change and so must policies.
In the past 2 years, capital inflow has increased dramatically. In 1969-70, net apparent capital inflow was $797m. In 1970-71, it was Si, 4 18m. Last year, it was $l,841m. A very high level of capital inflow seems in prospect again this year. Until 2 years ago, capital inflow, by 3nd large, was broadly matching our deficit on the current account of the balance of payments. That is, the overseas capital was being used to add to the resources available in the economy. Without it we could not have sustained a large net inflow of goods and services from the rest of the world. That situation has now changed. In 1970-71 net apparent capital inflow exceeded the current account deficit by $598m. In 1971-72, the excess rose to $1 ,443m. Between end-June 1970 and endJune 1972, official reserve assets rose from $l,538m to $3,764m. They now exceed $4, 100m.
In brief, in the past 2 years, capital inflow has resulted chiefly in a build-up of international reserves rather than an addition to resources actually being used in the economy. The greater part of this recently increased inflow has been in respect of company borrowings. Exchange control approvals of gross borrowings abroad rose from S568m in 1969-70 to $ 1,222m in 1970-71 and to Sl,681m in 1971-72. With the existing unimpeded access to overseas lenders, our ability to use monetary policy effectively has been called into question. The House may recall that the Treasury economic paper said that ‘private capital flows have now acquired a practical potential to nullify the effects of monetary policy on internal economic conditions.’ To date, this has not happened. But the buildup in liquidity which is proceeding will, if allowed to go unchecked, produce some headaches for the future.
As a separate but related matter, the Government has also been considering the growth of overseas ownership and control of Australian industry. We need to be sensible about this. We all want to see a bigger Australia. We all want the tangible benefits that access to overseas capital and skills brings us. Yet there is legitimate cause for concern. The right balance between our desire for an Australian Australia and for greater growth and prosperity must be struck. After 20 years of vigorous growth, we are today a relatively wealthy nation. We have less need to depend on overseas capital for our growth today than we did some years ago. We can afford now to trade off, at the margin, some of the benefits of overseas capital for a greater Australian share in our industry and resources. We can do it. too, without frightening off overseas capital. Overseas investors are expecting us to move. In brief, the policies which have served us well in the past now need modifying.
I turn now to the 4 specific decisions we have taken as a result of our review to date. Three relate to the problem of net capital inflow and the fourth to the problem of overseas control of our industry. I begin with the first of the 4 decisions, that is:
Exchange Control on Short-Term Borrowings Overseas
The largest part of net capital inflow is accounted for by borrowings overseas by
Australian residents, including foreign companies resident in Australia. We have decided to act to reduce the level of short term borrowings. The Reserve Bank will, from tomorrow, refuse exchange control approval for all overseas borrowings which would be repayable, or carry options to repay, in 2 years or less. Loan agreements which have already received exchange control approval will not be affected.
With a view to rendering the proposed measure effective, the present sterling area exemption, under which, inter alia, borrowings in Australian dollars from sterling area residents are not subject to exchange control approval, will be terminated forthwith. For the sake of administrative simplicity, at any rate in the early stages of the scheme, borrowings totalling less than $100,000 in any one year will be exempt. The appropriateness of this exemption limit will be reviewed from time to time. I come now to the second decision which concerns:
The Borrowing Guidelines
Since May 1965, the Government has laid down certain guidelines which have limited the freedom of overseas-owned companies to borrow in Australia. One effect of the guidelines has been to require overseasowned companies to bring in funds from overseas in place of the funds which they have not been permitted to borrow locally. This effect was appropriate to the circumstances formerly prevailing, but the circumstances have changed. The need now is to limit overseas borrowings, not to encourage them. Accordingly, the Government proposes to abolish the guidelines forthwith.
The third decision deals with:
Portfolio Investment Overseas by Australian Residents
At present, portfolio investment abroad by Australian residents is not permitted. Our decision is to relax this policy while retaining the need for exchange control approval of such transactions. Details will be announced shortly by the Governor of the Reserve Bank. The effect of these decisions will be to moderate the level of net capital inflow from overseas. They may, as a result, have some effect on the Australian capital market and will, incidentally, restore to Australian financial institutions some of the business which, in recent times, has been going abroad. T want to emphasise that developments in our own market will be watched very carefully to ensure that there are no untoward consequences. With liquidity presently at a high level, no transitional difficulties are foreseen.
Mr Speaker, at this point I turn to the question of overseas ownership and control. In this area of policy, the Government has long made it plain that the most welcome overseas capital is that employed in partnership with Australian-owned capital. However, the trend towards increasing overseas ownership has gone on. The time has come to consider more direct action to influence that trend. Our balance of payments on current account has improved greatly and, with that, our need for overseas capital has lessened. Our own Australian industry is more advanced and technologically capable than 10 or 20 years ago and can, if given the chance, effectively partner overseas companies. Action in the field of foreign ownership and control generally raises complex problems. We have undertaken an initial study of these problems, but their resolution will require more detailed study and further time for careful consideration. That work is now in hand. Its results will be announced as soon as practicable. However, in respect of one particular form of overseas ownership and control, we have decided that action can be taken without awaiting the final outcome of that full review. 1 refer to the subject of our fourth decision:
No aspect of overseas investment has excited more attention than this question. Foreign takeovers result in control as well as ownership passing from Australian to foreign hands. This aspect causes particular disquiet. Sometimes foreign takeovers also have the objective, or at any rate the effect, of limiting competition. In such cases, disquiet is justifiably intensified. On the other hand, foreign takeovers can revive an ailing company or may be made at a price permitting the Australian recipients to reinvest the proceeds at a considerably increased return. Australian as well as overseas investors have rights at stake and our policy must be such that their interest is not prejudiced - except when the interest of the nation requires it. The Government’s longstanding policy hits been that it reserves the right to do all in its power to prevent a particular takeover when, in the circumstances of the case, it is considered by the Government to be against the national interest. Moreover, under the policy announced on 24th May last by the Attorney-General on restrictive trade practices and monopolisation, takeovers which are likely to limit competition will be subject to examination and report by the monopolies commission which is to be established. This applies whether the bidding company be foreign or Australian.
We think, however, that the time has now come to introduce a new approach for the control of foreign takeovers. The Government intends to legislate for the prevention of foreign takeovers it considers would be against the national interest on the basis of criteria which I shall indicate. The legislation will apply to acquisitions of shares or other assets by overseas interests which might reasonably be expected to result in control of an Australian business passing to overseas interests. In the case of company takeovers, there will be a presumption that acquisition by any one overseas interest or associated group of IS per cent or more, or by overseas interests in the aggregate of 40 per cent or more, of the voting power of an Australian company could constitute a takeover. For this purpose, overseas interest will include an Australian-incorporated company in which any one overseas interest or group holds 15 per cent or more of the voting power or in which overseas interests have in the aggregate 40 per cent or more of the voting power. Cases where control of a business would pass into overseas hands through acquisition of all, or a substantial part, of the assets of the business will also be subject to the measures.
The measures may also apply to the transfer of a significant part of the ownership or rights over a valuable or potentially valuable mineral area, such as can occur through transactions known in the mining industry as ‘farm-ins’. If overseas interests demonstrate that an acquisition would not give a significant degree of foreign control, the measures will not apply. They will also not apply if the takeover would simply transfer control from one overseas interest or group to another.
The measures will, in general, apply to cases where the company concerned, whether listed or unlisted, has assets of more than $lm. Australian governments have already taken action to restrict foreign investment in certain industries of national significance - notably banking, airlines and radio and television broadcasting. Cases may arise where an Australian company involved in a takeover proposal is considered by the Government to be an economically strategic industry leader or to be so large that the takeovers would significantly affect the relative balance of Australian-overseas ownership and control of the industry concerned. The proposed legislation will include a power, in those circumstances, for the Government to take direct action to prevent the takeover if it judges such action appropriate.
Foreign takeover proposals judged by the Government to warrant detailed investigation as to whether they would be against the national interest will be referred to an independent authority - including official Government representation - which will analyse each such proposal and report on it to the Government. Decisions on individual cases will be taken - I stress this - by the Government, after consideration of the independent authority’s report. There will be a time limit of one month, measured from the date of notification of a takeover to the Government, or the date of the making of a public announcement concerning the takeover, for reference of takeover proposals by the Government to the independent authority. Proposals not referred in that time will be free to proceed. There will be a further time limit of 3 months maximum from the date of reference for report by the authority, unless extended by the Government in special circumstances.
For the purpose of references to and reports by the independent authority, the first criterion to be applied in judging whether a proposed foreign takeover would be against the national interest will be: Whether, against the background of existing circumstances in the industry concerned, the takeover would lead, either directly or indirectly, to net economic benefits in relation to such matters as production, prices, quality and range of products and services, and efficiency and technological change which would be sufficient to justify the increased degree of foreign control of the particular industry that would result from the takeover.
If the proposed takeover is judged to be not against the national interest on this basis, the following addition criteria will also be taken into account: Whether, after the takeover, the firm concerned could be expected to follow practices consistent with Australia’s interest in matters such as exports, imports, local processing of materials produced, research and development and industrial relations, including employee protection; and whether the takeover would have adverse consequences in terms of the Government’s objectives for defence, environmental protection or regional development.
In making judgments as to whether particular foreign takeovers would be against the national interest on any of the foregoing grounds, due weight will be given to: The extent of Australian participation in ownership and management that would remain after the takeover; and the interests of shareholders of the company subject to the takeover and the attitudes of its board of directors. Pending the enactment of legislation and establishment of the independent authority to be provided for in it, the measures I have outlined for the control of foreign takeovers will be brought into immediate effect on an interim basis. Under the interim arrangements departmental machinery will be used in place of the independent authority and on the basis of application for the criteria I have indicated. These measures will apply from tomorrow and will embrace foreign takeover proposals already current.
The decisions I have announced are firm and positive: They have not been taken lightly. Australia has benefited greatly from overseas capital in the past and we continue to welcome it on fair and reasonable terms. The steps we are taking are designed to deal with some of our main concerns. We believe they do so fairly and judiciously. As I have said, we aim to see greater Australian participation in overseasowned companies. In addition to the steps I have announced this evening, the Government is examining further means of giving effect to that aim. In the meantime, however, we make it clear that our concern is to see that overseas capital is employed in Australia in real partnership with Australian owned capital. 1 commend the proposals to the House.
I present the following paper:
Overseas Investment in Australia - Ministerial Statement, 26 September 1972.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Sitting suspended from 6.8 to 8 p.m.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Chipp) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition speaking without limitation of time.
– I thank the Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) and the House. Only one part of the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) really relates to overseas investment, and that part deals with only one aspect of overseas investment - the problem of takeovers. The principal impetus of the Prime Minister’s statement is not directed towards the long term question of the development of Australian resources but to the short term management of the economy. The right honourable gentleman has made one proposal relating to foreign takeovers which is relevant to the question of overseas ownership and control and he has padded it with short term adjustments designed to alleviate the embarrassment of our international reserves and to dampen the immediate problem of liquidity in the Australian economy. The argument of the Treasury White Paper on overseas investment last May and of the annual report of the Reserve Bank of Australia this month is that the absence of restrictions on capital inflow and the impediments to capital outflow considerably impeded any efforts to restrict the domestic money supply for short term economic management. In neither of these documents was this regarded as a prospect for the future, as the Prime Minister asserted in his statement, but as a real and pressing problem, and that it had been a real and pressing problem for a year or more.
The adjustments announced by the Prime Minister under his first 3 points on short term borrowings, the guidelines and portfolio investment overseas, now allow a restrictive monetary policy to be imposed.
They will themselves tend to have a restrictive effect on the present availability of credit and this will occur at a time when unemployment remains high. Any approvals of portfolio investment by Australians overseas will lead to a net reduction of liquidity in Australia. The Reserve Bank will no longer approve loans repayable in less than 2 years, and as presently existing loans of such limited maturity expire they will have to be refinanced, if at all, domestically. A similar restrictive effect will arise from the abolition of the Gorton guidelines. Subsidiaries of overseas companies will no longer have to look to their parent companies for their borrowings. Not only can they raise further borrowings in Australia but they will be permitted to refinance existing loans from local sources immediately. I find this latest exercise in deGortonisation quite fascinating. The Prime Minister curtly announced the abolition of the Gorton guidelines. The principal objective of those guidelines was to encourage local participation. Yet the present Prime Minister says that their result was to encourage overseas borrowings. In justifying the abolition of the Gorton guidelines he said:
The need now is to limit overseas borrowings, not to encourage them.
Just over 3 years ago. on 16th September 1969, just before another election, the then Prime Minister said in his statement on overseas investment in Australia, which is the exact title of the statement presently before the House:
The present Prime Minister tonight has claimed this same objective in so unceremoniously discarding his predecessor’s guidelines. I find it equally fascinating that a so-called free enterprise government should view the problem of overseas investment exclusively in terms of controls and prohibitions. If controls are needed to prevent takeovers, in the significant areas where the Government has acted these have been long available. In November 1968 the Commonwealth used its power to legislate in the Australian Capital Territory to prevent takeovers of life insurance holding companies. However, the Commonwealth Parlia ment has always had just as ample powers to control the ownership of insurance companies in Australia as it has had to control the ownership of banks in Australia. If we wanted to prevent insurance companies being owned from overseas we have always been able to do so by the same means as we have been able to prevent banks being owned from overseas.
Again an Australian Capital Territory ordinance was introduced in December 1970 to prevent a takeover of uranium mining companies, and an amendment was made to that ordinance in March this year. Nevertheless, since the Concrete Pipes case in September last year it has been quite clear that this Parliament has power to prevent the takeover of such companies, even if they are not registered in one of the Commonwealth Territories. I will give a concluding example here. On 2nd April 1971 the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby; asked the Prime Minister about the alienation of Australian pastoral and agricultural land. The right honourable gentleman referred the question to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt), and there it remains buried in silence. If people are worried about takeovers of pastoral companies in the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth has always had power to prevent them because since 1910 that has been a Commonwealth responsibility; there is no State responsibility involved whatever. In Cape York the Commonwealth could have collaborated with Queensland in helping Australians to take advantage of Australian research, as in the brigalow lands. But, meantime, despite this plenitude of constitutional power, we find that the takeover of Australian pastoral companies and the overseas ownership of Australian pastoral properties has proceeded apace.
The Vernon Committee, which got so little shrift from an earlier administration, reported that at the time - 1962-63 - the percentage of company income, after tax, payable overseas was less than one-quarter of the total. Last December the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) told me that for 1969-70 the figure had risen to 33.6 per cent. At this rate, by 1980 half of Australia’s company dividends will be payable overseas. True it is, therefore, that controls are needed to prevent takeovers, but they have been available ever since the Vernon Committee reported. The Prime Minister has now proposed an independent authority to which the Government would refer for scrutiny proposed takeovers. The Australian Labor Party proposes an independent body, which we have described as a secretariat, to keep all major takeover bids and proposed transactions under continuing scrutiny and to report back to the government for action if the proposed bid is deemed against the public interest. 1 seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the statement on foreign investment and associated matters which was approved by my Party last week.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Resolution by Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, 20th September 1972
The Secretariat shall identify, register and examine all foreign investment both current and future in Australia and report to the government accordingly. All nominees will be required to disclose the identity of any foreign shareholder. Decisions on foreign investment shall rest with the national government. Where the Government, having been advised by the Secretariat, determines that a proposed importation of capital is considered to be of no benefit, or purely speculative or in any sense contrary to Australia’s interests, it will direct the Reserve Bank to withhold authority for that currency transaction and take other appropriate action. Similarly, authority for any takeover or merger may be withheld if it is clearly contrary to the national interest. In respect of existing foreign investments, the Government will act as necessary to retain and regain maximum Australian ownership and control of industries and resources.
In the exercise of its powers the Government shall:
determine whether Australia’s interest may be better served if a proposed investment were sourced locally, either by private investors or by Government.
to ensure that the equity in Australian resources remains in Australian bands.
I give 2 instances of industries which since the war have grown very largely and which are overwhelmingly in overseas control. First of all, there is the pharmaceuticals industry. I quote an answer that the Minister for Health gave me last October. It reads:
In 1970-71 wholly Australian-owned companies supplied 9.1 per cent of pharmaceutical benefit prescriptions, representing 7.2 per cent of the cost of the ready prepared items prepared as pharmaceutical benefits, the brands of which could be identified.
Pharmaceutical benefits are provided at the expense of Australian governments. If one looks at the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, the repatriation scheme - each a Commonwealth responsibility - and the drugs dispensed by hospitals - mainly State government responsibilities - one will see that the cost of pharmaceutical benefits of ethical drugs in Australia is provided at least as to 90 per cent by the Australian taxpayer. Yet we find that well under 10 per cent of such drugs is produced by Australian owned companies. The Commonwealth has ready to hand the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories which are restricted to supplying no more than 2 per cent of the Australian market for drugs. I quote the report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for 1970- 71:
For some years the Commission has foreshadowed that the restrictions and limitations placed upon its activities would in time make it impossible to secure sufficient revenue to cover the costs of its operations, particularly those functions undertaken in the national interest. That situation has now been reached.
The solution is clear. No industry depends more on the Australian taxpayer than the ethical drug manufacture and distribution industry. The Commonwealth has ready to hand an experienced agency in the CSL. The fetters on that Commission should be struck off.
There is another instance - the oil industry. The Treasury White Paper told us last May that the value of production attributable to oil companies overseas owned was 79.5 per cent and overseas controlled 81.6 per cent. The Commonwealth denied its interests in this matter very greatly 20 years ago when it sold its shares in Commonwealth Oil Refineries. Nevertheless, there are 2 oil companies which are predominantly Australian owned and which are Australian controlled. The Commonwealth should give a lead to maximising Australian ownership and control of this great post-war industry by ensuring that where the price, the availability and accessibility are as good it should make its purchases from those Australian owned and Australian controlled companies.
It is surprising that in his statement the Prime Minister made no reference whatever to institutional arrangements for increasing Australian ownership of Australian resources. Nowhere in his statement is the Australian Industry Development Corporation mentioned. Last week we had the second annual report of the Corporation, lt stated:
It would seem apparent that, in the ultimate, the protection of Australian enterprise against foreign takeover can only be achieved by explicit provisions of Government policy.
Looked at in the national sense of relativity to other actual or potential areas for industrial development, the processing and upgrading of locally-mined raw materials could well be one of the commercially and economically promising areas of expansion available to Australian industrial capital. AIDC sees a need to have strong regard to such factors in its approach to project financing for maximum national as well as commercial benefit in the development of Australian industry.
We have off the north-west shelf great deposits of petroleum resources in the wider sense. We have in the northern part of this country great deposits of iron ore, uranium, coal, bauxite, copper, lead and zinc - nearly all in foreign control. I ask honourable members to consider a hypothetical case. Let us presume that one of the very large Australian foreign owned companies - one of those mineral companies which I have mentioned in northern Australia - or, say General MotorsHolden’s or Esso or Imperial Chemical Industries was to adopt a new policy and wished to issue a substantial majority of its shares to Australians. Where are the financial institutions or the Government incentive by which so large an amount of local capital could be mobilised? The AIDC does not have anything like the capital which would be required to take up such an investment. Our largest financial institutions, insurance companies and superannuation funds which are forced to invest in Government securities would be given no incentive by the Government to accept a share offer of this size. Even the Commonwealth’s own superannuation fund, unlike the superannuation funds of some State governments, is prevented from investing in equity stock. I will come back to the question of life assurance funds.
I wish to mention 2 lost opportunities. One which arose last week was an instance where Government initiative could be used to supply an essential Australian industry and use existing Australian installations and skills. There is to be a very long pipeline built from South Australia to New South Wales. The contract has been “et to Japan. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) is attempting to interject. One would have thought that it was primarily his responsibility, but of course he holds no torch for Australian enterprise or for the people who work in Australian enterprises. He calls on overseas controlled companies to resist the claims of their Australian employees. When he was asked a question today about this contract creating a new industry, he said commercial decisions should be made by commercial firms; governments do not interfere in such matters. How long is he going to abuse our patience in this matter? We are told now that the pipe-making companies cannot meet the order for this large pipeline from South Australia to New South Wales. The Japanese are ready to take it. Next time there is a pipeline to be installed it will then be said that Australian companies are not prepared to tender for it; they cann it meet the size, strength or quality of steel required for the pipeline. So once again if this Government is in power the contract would go overseas. Whenever another pipeline was to be built, it would never be time to do anything about it. In the next 10 years there will not be just hundreds of miles; there will be thousands of miles of pipeline installed in Australia. Now is the time to see that Australian companies are given the opportunity to tool up for the construction and installation of pipelines. After all, in the 1960s hundreds of miles of heavy duty railway - the heaviest duty railway built in Australia - were built to carry iron ore from the inland of Western Australia to new ports in that State. Nearly all of the rails were imported, although we had been making rails for railways in Australia for half a century. Most of the wagons were imported, although we had been making rolling-stock in Australia for decades. This was the time to see that Australian skills were amplified and developed. We lost that opportunity to build up a basic industry. If one thing is clear about railways it is that they are economic propositions for long distance heavy transport; they are the most economic transport form known to man. Every industrialised country is proving that. But we did not gain the skill and the equipment which those new railway lines should have given us. Now the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) wrings his hands and says that it will be too late for pipelines as well.
It is possible for governments to do something on these matters. For S years there has been an agreement between the Commonwealth and all the States to confer, at the request of any of them, about the transport of petroleum resources between one State and another. This morning I asked the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) whether he was aware of this agreement. He was not. If it is any consolation to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Prime Minister knows no more than he. I have given instances in which a little government initiative would have prevented takeovers of pastoral land, would have seen that government orders for oil and pharmaceuticals went to Australian companies, and would have built up basic Australian industries for new heavy duty railways and new interstate pipelines. These initiatives have been lost.
I conclude with another of the positive proposals to marshal Australian capital to ensure Australian control and Australian ownership of Australian industries and Australian resources as proposed in the Australian Labor Party’s document which has now been incorporated in Hansard. I have mentioned the Australian Industry Development Corporation. The document refers to national development bonds. The largest source of capital in Australia is the life assurance societies and the superannuation funds. This is the largest source of new capital coming forward every year for investment in Australia. It is a much bigger pool than is possessed by any other financial institutions in Australia. Just as the insurance companies opened up the American West, they can play their part in opening up the new resources in the new areas of Australia. The Commonwealth’s powers over insurance companies are the same as its powers over banks. In return for Commonwealth guarantees, the banks pursue a credit policy desired and required by the central banking authority; that is. the Commonwealth Government. Similar guarantees should be provided for the insurance companies to enable them to follow an approved development policy.
The former Prime Minister rejected this approach, when I followed him in the debate 3 years and 10 days ago, on the ground that it would represent a form of compulsion. As I have pointed out, if this is compulsion, we already apply such compulsion to the banks. Indeed, it is applied to the insurance companies themselves. The Commonwealth Government already obliges insurance companies to take up a proportion of Commonwealth and semigovernment bonds. Since 1961 the insurance companies have been offered tax concessions, conditional on their putting 20 per cent of their investment funds into Commonwealth bonds and 10 per cent into approved semi-government bonds. This has worked well for the national good. The bond market has been strengthened, thereby providing resources for Australia’s national development. The companies involved have found that the taxation concessions make it worth their while and beneficial to their policy holders.
In the same way insurance companies can be encouraged and enabled to invest in approved development projects and basic industries. The Commonwealth could give them tax incentives in such projects and industries as it has given them in bonds. The Commonwealth could guarantee them against unprofitable investments as it has guaranteed the banks against loss. The insurance companies would not be compelled to do anything by such government measures; they Would, however, be at least encouraged and at last enabled to use a proper proportion of Australia’s basic investment funds in developing and processing Australia’s basic resources and in harnessing and exalting Australia’s basic skills. Only government initiative is required.
In this way we could maximise for the whole of Australia the value of the encouragement by way of tax deductions now given to individual Australians to invest in life assurance. Australians are selling themselves short if they fail to retain a proper share and obtain adequate opportunities for themselves in their basic natural resources. Australia is a colony no longer, but more than ever before in her history she has become a tributary state. The simple fact is that if a nation does not use its resources it loses them. It will require a great deal more initiative, and more positive initiatives along the lines the Australian Labor Party has suggested, by the national government if we are not to lose our resources but to use them in the best and most fruitful way for our country and its people.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Social Services Bill (No. 4) 1972.
Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1972.
Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Bill 1972.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill (No. 2) 1972.
– The debate on this Bill was interrupted by the introduction into the House of the paper on foreign investment in Australia presented by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and then the reply to it by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I now take up the debate again.
The long title of the Bill is: ‘A Bill for an Act to approve the Borrowing by the Commonwealth of Moneys to be made available to Qantas Airways Limited, and for purposes connected therewith’. That means that it is a Bill giving authority to borrow $25m to finance the purchase of a jumbo 747 aircraft from the Boeing Aircraft Corporation of the United States for Qantas Airways Limited. To the motion for the second reading of the Bill the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has moved the following amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House is of the opinion that the passage of this Bill should be delayed until (1) firm arrangements are made for substantial coproduction procedures for imported aircraft, (2) a select committee is appointed to inquire into and report upon the effectiveness of Qantas management and (3) the terms of the loan agreement are set forth in a schedule to the Bill’.
I want to address my remarks to the first section of the amendment, namely, that the Bill be delayed until firm arrangements are made for substantial co-production procedures for imported aircraft. By that we mean that over the years the Australian
Government has borrowed on behalf of Australian airlines - Qantas, TAA, Ansett or other airlines - vast sums of money for the procurement of aircraft. Our own aircraft industry is in a terrible position and massive retrenchments are envisaged at Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd, the Sydney section of the industry, and at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation works in Melbourne, because insufficient work load is available to maintain a viable industry. That is an indictment of this Government for its lack of planning in the defence, area. It illustrates specifically its lack of resolution to guarantee that overseas aircraft manufacturers from which Australian airlines have bought aircraft are forced to meet at least some of the cost of those aircraft through offset orders; in other words, some of the cost of the aircraft purchased ought to have been offset by manufactures, by the Australian aircraft industry. I have a summary table of imports into Australia of aircraft and associated equipment compiled by the Legislative Research Service from information supplied by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. I ask for leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank the House. The table shows that in the period 1969-72 a total of $181,985,000 was spent on the acquisition of aircraft imported into Australia. In that period the value of imports of aeroplanes, exceeding 5,000 lb or below that weight - helicopters, other equipment and parts for flying machines, which would be helicopters and aircraft- totalled $359,691,000. For years the Opposition has said in this House that invitation to tender documents for aircraft procurement should include a mandatory provision for offset orders to a certain percentage of the total value. We have talked in the area of 25 or 30 per cent. Government supporters have spoken loosely of 25 per cent or 30 per cent. On imported aircraft totalling $181,985,000 during 1969-72 working on the basis of 25 per cent offset orders would have secured for Australia work worth $45,496,250. Similarly, on imported aircraft and parts over the same period totalling $359,691,000, an offset provision of 25 per cent would” have meant orders worth $89,922,750 for Australia, or near enough to $90m.
The Australian aircraft industry has been denied a work load of that value because the Government has not considered it worth its while to force overseas companies selling aircraft to Australia to grant offset work to our aircraft industry. When italy placed a very large order for DC8 aircraft with the Douglas Corporation in the United States it was so tough in its bargaining that it obtained offset orders that gave the Italian aircraft industry a massive fillip. The production line set up by the Italian aircraft industry for those offset orders for DC8 parts still exists. Yet this Government has allowed overseas aircraft manufacturers to sell us aircraft and parts worth nearly $400m in the last 3 years while workers in our own aviation industry are facing retrenchment.
A technological gap is developing that could have been obviated had offset orders for about $5m to $6m been obtained for the aircraft industry. The Government has made absolutely no attempt to save this basic of all defence industries; that is, the capacity to manufacture aircraft and ancillary equipment. It all gets back to a basic lack of foreign policy. The Government has had no consistent or continuous defence and foreign policy. The Services have been unable to tailor their equipment needs to meet contingencies that have arisen. Instead, of giving our own industry the necessary lead time to develop and manufacture equipment, the Services have demanded aircraft and within 12 months.
Purchases have been made overseas and our own aircraft industry has been left to rot. If we do not act immediately our aircraft industry will completely disintegrate.
I asked the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) today what the Government intends to do to supply an immediate work load for our aircraft industry. In reply I got the same platitudes that we get every time. We see groups of fifty or sixty workmen coming here as deputations from the Commonwealth Aircraft Factories and Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd saying that if something is not done soon they will all be dismissed. One of our basic defence industries is falling apart yet the Government still claims to be interested in Australia’s defence. This Government is acting in the same way as its predecessor did before World War II. It also said it was interested in Australia’s defence, but we moved into a war in a hopeless state of defence preparedness. We are in no better position today. Our defence industries are falling apart wherever one looks. Naval shipbuilding and design, electronics and the aircraft industry are all in the same position. Perhaps the aircraft industry is in the worst plight because it is literally extinct. The hardest hit are Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd and Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, the 2 privately owned elements of the aircraft industry.
The Government Aircraft Factories still have a fair amount of work in developing the Nomad, the new utility aircraft, and producing the Turana target drone and the Ikara anti-submarine system and in doing modification and repair work on service equipment. The Government Aircraft Factories have the added advantage of having many of their overheads concealed in the expenditure of other departments. They are exempt from payroll tax and have the benefits of the Commonwealth superannuation scheme, the contract letting machinery of contract boards, insurance and relief from debt service charges and local government rates. The Government Aircraft Factories are therefore in a better position to compete than are Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd or Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation.
We should be trying to stimulate competition in the aircraft industry. Unless an organisation can show that it is economically competitive it cannot take on the sort of offset work from overseas that we envisage. At present Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd in Sydney is using its maintenance and repair facilities and has other work load in making wing ribs and tail sets for Boeing 727/ 200s as part of offset orders worth $7m. It is something, but it is not enough. There have been massive breakthroughs. For the first time the Australian aircraft industry has taken on sophisticated offset work. It has met the stringent specifications laid down by the Boeing Aircraft Corporation in the last 6 months and in the areas of production control and quality control the efficiency of the plant has been increased by about 200 per cent. The advantage has come through the importation of new techniques and technology, new metallurgy and new systems.
An additional benefit came because the company was able to purchase redundant aircraft manufacturing equipment at the time of a slump in the United States aircraft industry. It bought second hand equipment in good condition very cheaply. It has upgraded our technology. If we do not continue that trend and the time comes to defend ourselves and to develop aircraft, we will not have the technology when we require it. That skill can be gained through offset orders. We should be getting offset orders in lots of $10m and $I2m. I repeat that in the period 1969-72 offset orders for 25 per cent of our total imports of aircraft would have meant a gain of about $45.5m, and offset orders for 25 per cent of total imports of aircraft and parts would have meant a gain of over $89m. With such orders we could have long production runs through which the learning curve benefits would become evident; that is, the more that the same work force does the same job on the same material, the more efficient it becomes. The learning curve takes up a position in which the plant becomes competitive. The Australian industry can not only upgrade its technology but also compete with overseas industry. This is something I hope we are trying to achieve. Certainly the Australian Labor Party in government will do this. It will insist of overseas corporations that they meet at least 25 or 30 per cent of the value of aircraft sold to this country in offset provisions. When we look at some of the orders that could be forthcoming m the future such as the order for half a dozen Concordes, the value of which would end up being about $250m, we are talking about a lot of money, considering that this industry needs only $5m or $6m annually to survive.
Not only has the Government not planned to help the industry to survive. It has also hindered it. Recently it extended the charter of the domestic airlines to take on other commercial and service work. Basically the airlines are passenger-carrying organisations, and I feel that if there is any additional service work to be undertaken it ought to be undertaken by the industry. Even though there is excess capacity in the airline it ought to be undertaken by the industry,’ and that would help the industry to survive.
The Government has failed to find any immediate work load for the aircraft industry. It has talked about reorganising and restructuring it. The Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) made a very big thing about going overseas to see whether the Dassault organisation in France and the Boeing organisation in the United States were interested in joining in- a consortium with Australian companies and the Government Aircraft Factories in one aircraft manufacturing organisation. But I believe from informed sources in the industry that the Minister went overseas without any notice to the local industry and without any advice from the local industry, and when he got to the door of the Boeing company in the United States to see the management he with the Secretary of his Department was virtually shown the door. This is not an intelligent way to restructure an industry when the local elements do not understand what the Government intends doing, and are not consulted. The result is that there is now some loose talk by the Minister about forming a consortium. He cannot form a consortium with something that does not exist. If he does not get some work load for the Australian aircraft industry fairly quickly it will not continue to exist. It is basically a defence establishment, whether he likes it or not. and it is incumbent upon the Government to find work loads for it to tide it over this period and then plan for its future.
The Government is always talking about the 5-year rolling programme for defence, but the only time that the 5-year programme gets a spurt on is every 3 years, which is an election year. The Government goes for the old cover of foreign affairs and defence by saying: ‘You can trust only us with foreign affairs and defence’. That is the only time Australian industry gets a look in. It has not got much of a look in in the latest 5-year programme. So this question of rationalisation is to a very large extent a red herring. My Party and I would agree that it is important in the long term that we rationalise the industry. If it has a planned work load and if it has a job to perform, it would be better to perform it on a rationalised basis with new equipment and new technology, but for the moment it is a matter of sheer survival. This is why we have moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of this Bill.
The other question that arises is this: The Government has talked about the Nomad aircraft, which is a light utility aircraft being manufactured by the Government Aircraft Factories; it talks about the Turana, which is a target drone; it talks about the Macchi, which is the one which is just finishing on the production line now. Whenever it tries to sell any of these highly valued military products overseas it faces a problem of credit facilities. In fact, it is not selling equipment; it is selling credit. Unless it can back up the sales of this equipment with decent marketing organisation and decent ExportImport Bank interest rates, which are 5 per cent or 6 per cent over extended periods - not normal overdraft rates - it has Buckley’s chance of selling to anyone. We lost the sale of Macchi aircraft to New Zealand purely and simply on the basis that our finance was inadequate. We were offering the New Zealand Government normal overdraft rates when the British sold it the HS1 182 at Export-Import Bank rates.
I asked the Minister for Trade and Industry in September 1970, who was then Sir John McEwen, whether the Government would set up an export credit facility to provide finance on better than commercial terms to assist the export sales of Aus tralian manufactured military equipment and other high value commercial exports. His answer was this:
It is true that lower interest rates are provided by the governments of some countries that are competitive with us. It is quite clear that certain governments from time to time seek to give their exporters a competitive advantage by providing funds at lower interest rates. 1 have never felt that this Government could engage in an interest rate war in these circumstances.
How ridiculous. It has nothing to do with an interest rate war. It is a matter of giving our own manufacturers a righting chance. If we do not give them some access to decent export finance we cannot sell any military equipment overseas. So if the Government wants to keep waffling on about what if is doing, it is time it backed up what it is saying with a little bit of action. There is a great need for this amendment to be carried. It has been proposed by the Labor Party as a last ditch stand to see that we get some decent provisions for our own industry from the massive orders that are going to the United States aircraft industry. When we look at the price of $25m for one jumbo jet aircraft, considering we have already bought 6 and we have had virtually no offset provisions, it is a matter of very great urgency that the House agree to this amendment. I certainly hope that the Government sees the urgency to support it.
We have not very much time in which to save this industry, but action and continued pressure upon overseas organisations that are selling aircraft in Australia is the only way in which we will be able :o guarantee that offset provisions are maintained and that work is handed across to us. I think I can safely say that unless there is an election of a Labor Government at the end of the year there will be no aircraft industry in Australia as we know it today. This Government has failed in every area of defence and every area of economc planning. The aircraft industry is a technological pioneer industry in areas such as plastic development, carbon fibre technology, hydraulic design, metallurgy techniques, management, and production control - you name it. It is a forerunner of many technologies and it is a pioneering industry. Unless we save it there is no future for our basic defence industries. I can only commend the amendment to the House and ask honourable members to give it due consideration, lt is the last chance we have to save this very vital industry from extinction.
– I do not wish to appear offensive to the young honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) but I believe that he has been indoctrinated by the mediocre thinking of the Opposition.
– You do better.
– You listen to me. I have only started; you have finished. This is the sort of thinking that produced Wirraways in the last war. It is all right if we have the young men to fly these aircraft and to be shot to pieces when they go up. This is all very well. The honourable member is concerned about an industry; he is not concerned about the young men who have to fly these mediocre aircraft.
– What about the ones you sent to Vietnam?
– They have done pretty well there. You would not have sent anything to Vietnam. You would have let the communists take over.
– The Wirraways had good tails anyway.
– That is right. That is all they could boast. They were not as good as Tails. They could not get away from the enemy. The honourable member gave us an example of the mediocre thinking we get from the Opposition in our important defence areas. The honourable member spoke about the defence aspect of the Australian aircraft industry. We are talking about a loan to Qantas Airways Ltd. The honourable member for Blaxland talks about making 25 per cent of parts for 707s and probably jumbo jets and other aircraft in Australia. What on earth will Qantas do if it has to pay the prices that would have to be charged if we made these parts in Australia, with a dozen or so strikes thrown in into the bargain? In the previous debate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) talked about making our gas pipelines. I interjected: ‘How many strikes to the mile?’
– Your Government put the Wirraways at Darwin in 1942.
– Listen to the thinking of the Opposition. We learn from experience.
The Opposition has not learnt from experience. It would make the same mistakes over again. Where would we be if we had to make these parts in Australia? Aircraft manufacturing is a most competitive business. There is in the industry in the world today top competition. Thousands of millions of dollars are invested in research, in producing a top fighter aircraft and in producing a top domestic airliner. No honourable member opposite has spoken about the large firms that drop out and go broke when they fail to get orders. A few succeeded. Boeing succeeded, as did the 707 aircraft, the jumbo jets and others. But how long will this last? Somebody will come up with something else costing thousands of millions of dollars. .But we have not got this sort of money in Australia. Nevertheless here we have an amendment which says: a select committee is appointed to inquire into and report upon the effectiveness of Qantas management and (3) the terms of the loan agreement are set forth in a schedule to the Bill.
I can tell honourable members, here and now that Qantas took a great nosedive when it had that strike a few years ago. It has been a remarkable airline, a great Australian airline of which I, as a Queenslander, am proud. It began . in western Queensland and gradually built up until it was the foremost airline in the world. It went ahead and expanded, and got new routes. It got the right to fly across the United States of America. Then it had this disastrous strike a year or so ago and has never recovered. Honourable members opposite do not talk about the. strike. They talk about unemployed pilots, about pilots being encouraged to go from the Royal Australian Air Force to Qantas. Of course, the pilots would have had a job if this airline had continued to expand the way it had been, but this strike set: the airline back and it has never, recovered from it. The Opposition does not want any inquiries into this sort of thing. Look at the history of the industry. With our bitter industrial relations we have not a hope in Australia of building these overseas communications unless new compete with overseas companies. Our shipping lines are going down the drain in exactly the same way as Qantas is. I believe that in the interests of Australia we will have to get out of the whole business of communications if this
Irresponsible industrial situation persists. Therefore, I condemn this amendment and support the Bill.
– As one of those who represent a considerable number of the people whom the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Barnes) has accused of some sort of incompetence and lack of skill, people who built for the Royal Australian Air Foce the Mirage aeroplane, which has a better service record than any similar aeroplane built anywhere else in the world, people who were able to build Sabre aircraft and 1,000 military aircraft for Australia during the war, I suggest that this Parliament should totally repudiate ‘the completely irresponsible remarks of the honourable member for McPherson. He suggested that the Australian aircraft industry, which is one of the most highly technical and skilled industries in Australia, is not competent, not capable of doing a better job of constructing an aircraft than the manufacturers of that phantom aircraft, the Fill, which was ordered as an election gimmick in 1963 but which in 1973 may well arrive on board a ship because the damned thing will not fly. The honourable member should be thoroughly ashamed of himself for the imputations he made against the Australian industry. He mentioned the Wirraways. It might be of interest to him to note that it was a government of his political complexion that was responsible for the construction of that aircraft. It also might be of interest to him to note that they were not bad aircraft for that particular type of construction. Unfortunately the government of that day, like the Government of today, spent more time talking about defence than doing anything about it. As a result we were caught with our pants down when a war was declared in 1939 and it was not until a Labor government came into power that anything was done to defend this country.
The amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) calls for a percentage of offset orders to be given to the Australian aircraft industry. This industry already is doing some work in this field, work which most likely has kept some parts of the industry afloat. It is not suggested by any major manufacturer in the world that our industry is not com petent to do this work. In fact, the only person I have ever heard say that it was not competent was the honourable member for McPherson. I doubt very much whether the honourable member can name the last time that there was a strike in that section of the Australian aircraft industry that would be manufacturing these goods. But facts do not matter to the honourable member. He gets up and makes a general condemnation of all Australian workers. That makes the farmers happy, because they believe that all workers are Communists, and the honourable member does not care about the truth. The fact is that Australia does have a very efficient small but compact aircraft industry, which is being starved for orders. There is no doubt about that. It has prospects - it has always had prospects. It has capacity, and when given a job it has always done that job in a first class manner and has always delivered ahead of schedule the aircraft that were ordered by this Government. The Mirage project was completed ahead of time, as was the Sabre project.
– That is more than can be said for the Fill.
-J do not know whether that project has been completed or not. The aircraft certainly do not fly at this stage, or should I say that they fly for short distances but mainly downwards. The facts of the matter are that given continuity of orders . and the opportunity to maintain the modern equipment and skills necessary, the Australian industry can measure up to any industry of a comparable size in the world. There is nothing wrong with the suggestion that Australia should demand offset orders. Most other countries do it and it is expected by the people selling the aircraft. It is one of the basic necessities of aircraft sales and purchase. If you want to maintain our industries then you have to stand up and fight for them, but do not expect any international corporation to give you anything on a platter. It is just not done that way.
The Australian Government has not to date demanded anything like sufficient offset orders. One wonders what offset orders could have been obtained from the United States of America had we stuck out for orders in the Fill project. You never know, we might have built some parts in
Australia which would have been useful in some alternative aircraft. But we raced over and signed a blank piece of paper and handed over $200m for an aircraft that might defend Australia if we can find an enemy in 1983. This amendment should be carried by the House for the simple reason that it is necessary that this House give an expression of opinion on whether our aircraft industry should continue. As the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) said last Thursday night, there are prospects of work for the industry but it is difficult to obtain. Australia is in the process of buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aircraft at this time. That is a tremendous bargaining position to be in, because the aircraft industry in every country is competitive. By using that bargaining position to obtain offset orders the Australian industry should be able to be kept in a reasonable state of activity.
The problems of the industry over the years have occurred because there has been too much ebb and flow. Skilled personnel are trained but then the peaks of production are passed and the skilled personnel disappear from the industry. Their training in what is a highly skilled industry is totally lost. The graphs of employment in the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd show large fluctuations in the number of persons employed. Persons skilled in the industry were recruited in Great Britain, brought to Australia on the promise of lifetime jobs but now are looking for jobs not in the aircraft industry but in other industries where their highly skilled training is totally wasted. An economic asset and a defence asset are lost to Australia forever. Dealing with continuity, one project which was very successful in Australia was the Jindivic project. Although 400 were built, never once were the Government Aircraft Factories able to obtain the economies of scale from a mass production run. All the planes were built in small numbers of 10 or 14 at a time - all short run hauls. There were never the real economies that could be obtained from a large run. If they had obtained 400 orders at the start, far more profits could have been made and a far better job could have been made of this project. The Ikara and the Nomad will almost certainly receive the same sort of treatment. They will be ordered in small batches so that there can never be any real economies. This is an important industry which would be vital in any defence situation. One of the things we cannot do is fly a broken down aircraft to America to get it repaired, but that is what we would have to do if we dissipated the aircraft industry in Australia.
I support the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition and I again totally repudiate the remarks of the honourable member for McPherson. One of the things that this House can be proud of is the skill and dedication which has been shown in their jobs by men working in the Australian aircraft industry and it is stupid and irresponsible for anyone to stand in this Parliament and suggest that the only way Australia can obtain highly complex and successful aircraft is to buy them overseas. Those aircraft that have been built in Australia have been better than the aircraft of the same type built by the original manufacturers. This has been so in every case where we have built the .aircraft in Australia. This House should be proud of that and we should not go running around the country trying to denigrate Australian skills merely to try to make a few cheap political points.
– I rise to support the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition and which highlights the weaknesses of Qantas Airways Ltd and its administration. While the amendment offers some solution, it does not pretend to solve all aspects of the problems of Qantas. It leaves that to the select committee which it proposes to appoint. Let the select committee ascertain whether strikes have any effect at all on the Qantas problem. Previous speakers have referred to the possibility of Qantas setting down at the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in order to effect substantial savings in route miles, landing costs and contra-entry obligations to other nations. However, one must sound a note of caution on the difficulties which could occur from Qantas landing at Cocos, even though it may be a desirable and practical aspect of the operations of Qantas.
From previous proven experience close supervision of the industrial relations attitude of Qantas in emerging nations or, for that matter, in Australia would need to be observed for no-one would deny that the administration of Qantas has a history of industrial relation blunders. I instance the dispute and disrepute that Australia was brought into in Fiji in August of this year when Qantas chose, not to negotiate to a successful conclusion with the Fiji Airline Workers Union. We would not want to repeat this performance in Cocos or anywhere else for that matter. The industrial negotiators for Qantas threatened to pull out of Fiji if the Fiji union continued with its claims for approximately $40 a week for ground staff - this from our leading international tourist line. This gave Qantas a bad name in Fiji and other Pacific countries and one hopes that this performance will not be repeated anywhere. The situation in Fiji was threatened by the resolve, of locals to close Nadi airport to Qantas and to give its competitors, the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation and American Airlines Incorporated, free access to the airport.
If simple matters such as this cannot be managed by the Qantas administration, it is small wonder that this amendment expresses disapproval of its management generally and its failure to act in a satisfactory manner. But this again comes back to the situation that the board of management itself lacks the diversification of interest and expertise that one would expect to find in a major airline and tourist operator, for, if Qantas lacks successful staff in the industrial relations field, it is equally true of the administration in its experience in tourism and hotel management. This criticism should be extended to include such people for only this year - again in August - the Qantas staff was engaged in a dispute with the company over hotel accommodation and had recourse to industrial action.
But what of the passengers booked by Qantas? Their only protest, if they were, not satisfied, could and would be to tell others and not to book again themselves through the airline but to find some more acceptable venue, of service. It is indeed amazing that the company has not diversified into the accommodation field, for its annual expenditure on its crews in London alone and its inability to direct Australian tourists to residential accommo dation, which would be of direct benefit to the company, would warrant this diversification. This is amazing and it ties in with its one way traffic. The traffic of Qantas, in the main, is composed of Australians utilising their national airline, the familiar airline. It is not composed of those people who are attracted from other nations to visit us and to tour our great nation. This can be overcome only by a change of attitude by Qantas and a diversification of its activities. It must commence, at the booking agency level, the overseas promotion not only of the airline but also what Australia has to offer as a tourist centre. When one looks at Qantas promotions, it can be seen that, in the main, they are all orientated towards departure from Australia. The Singapore holiday, the English holiday and the student concession to England are all examples of the Australian-base thinking.
Qantas could serve Australia well by ensuring that it has home bases in Europe, Asia, the United States of America and other nations. Perhaps thought should be given to appointing people on contract who in fact are experienced in all the facets of the tourist industry in overseas countries - people who would think about sending their own nationals to their employers country, Australia. This would infuse new thinking and new activity into Qantas. These people would not be people who have come up the promotion ladder by traditional methods at Qantas. They would utilise the skills and experience of people who are competing successfully against Qantas today and who are setting the standards that Qantas is attempting to achieve. They should not create the same furore which has been created by Qantas when it has set out to employ foreign or foreign based hostesses. I feel that the argument which applied in this case was the competition which was offered for existing jobs, often at the lower wage rates of another nation. This occurred with the matter of the Asian hostesses, when Australians were facing redundancy.
I suggest the establishment of new positions, new diversification into booking and tour agencies, improved accommodation facilities and co-operation and financial interest in coach operations. If this business - let us not lose sight of the fact that it is a business - was not in a position to have a government guarantee for its purchases, as is defined in this Bill, and if it were faced with the question of where the money was coming from, Qantas would be setting out to do all of these things. Just as importantly, it would be setting out to ensure that balancing contracts on major sectional aircraft construction was given to the Australian aircraft industry. Qantas would not be satisfied with being only a minimal fitting agency but would be driving the hardest bargain possible, preferably on the high maintenance, high reconstruction sections of the aircraft, to ensure the continued life and development of our own aircraft industry not only for the financial, national aspect but also for the important aspect of defence.
We as a nation must not be dependent on another section of the world for our parts and planes in times of international emergency, whether they be for civil or defence aircraft and Qantas, which has such an obligation to the nation, must be part of long range planning. That is why the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition is so pertinent to the future planning of our aircraft industry and for our defence. The amendment reads:
Previous Government speakers have made reference to the fact that Qantas is now endeavouring to do something. No-one would deny that it is trying but what this amendment asks is that a select committee determines whether these endeavours are based on the correct guidelines and on the most effective management concepts. If we are to have reorganisation, let it be full and proper reorganisation and let the need to be constantly on the watch in this Parliament as to what Qantas is doing become completely unnecessary. For if Qantas or the Government have complete confidence in the effectiveness of Qantas management they will welcome the opportunity to put on record their reasons for that confidence.
If they do not, they will further try to bury the bone, oppose the amendment and hide the facts that would be revealed by the select committee. There can be no other reasonable explanation for opposition to the amendment.
The negotiation of immense loans of this nature in these troubled times of growing general unemployment and threatened unemployment in the aircraft industry in a manner which does nothing to alleviate that unemployment in any sector of the community indicates that this Government’s priorities are completely out of touch with the needs of the community, particularly when the loan is being negotiated long prior to its actual date of requirement. For this Parliament to carry the amendment would in no way impair the delivery date of the aircraft in March 1974. In fact, this is the first time borrowing arrangements have not been completed before the matter has come before the Parliament. One suspects that this is being rushed through to prevent an incoming Labor government from taking steps to see that the Australian aircraft industry is fully protected in this deal by ensuring substantial co-production procedures for imported aircraft. It would be no secret to this Government or to the public that on each occasion on which matters such as this come before the Parliament the Labor Party moves in an attempt to protect and promote the Australian aircraft industry, for the Australian Labor Party realises it is mandatory that Australia becomes independent of the international arguments which have in the past affected the supply of defence materials to maintain skilled workers and machinery in the aircraft industry to ensure that it is ready to go into action when needed.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Charles Jones’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. ..5
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Garland) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 14 September (vide page 1400), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill (No. 2). 1972 as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. Mr Deputy Speaker, I suggest therefore that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 2 measures? There being no objection I will allow that course to be followed.
– I do not propose to say very much on the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill (No. 2) 1972, the sole purpose of which is to terminate the existing arrangements in order to clear the way for the substitute proposals of the States Grants (Schools) Act of 1972. To the motion that the State Grants (Schools) Bill 1972 be now read a second time, I move the following amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof:
-Order! The level of conversation is too high and I suggest that it be reduced a little.
– Tell the Country Party.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will cease making that comment. He makes it every time the attention of the House is drawn to the level of conversation. The honourable member should have noticed that conversation was coming from all sections of the chamber. If the honourable member is not aware of that, I regret it.
– I shall begin to read my amendment again. I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities and that the application of this policy could not allow the continued acceptance of the provisions of the Bill and that therefore grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1973’.
If the Government wins the next election it can go on with its Bill for the next 5 years. But it is quite plainly impertinent on the part of the Government to attempt to bind for 5 years its successors when it does not know its own fate in an election. This Bill undoubtedly will become law. Therefore expectations will be built up, including extremely unjust expectations in which the wealthiest schools of this country can expect to receive the same flat rate grants as the poorest schools of this country. However, they will be. budgeting for that in the coming school year. We take the attitude that in the coming school year of 1973 this Bill must therefore be allowed to proceed. But we give a fair warning that if we are in power, while there will be an expenditure on non-government schools of no less than the sum total that will be appropriated in this Bill, the appropriation will be reapportioned - it will be reapportioned on the basis of need.
The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has shifted his position. He has had before him the examples of certain State governments which, to administer the grants made to the nongovernment schools, have set up committees consisting of the representatives of the non-government schools. These have apportioned the moneys to the nongoverment schools on the basis of need. After four or five years of obstinate rejection of this principle the Commonwealth Government has moved to accepting it as far as the capital grants are concerned. The Government will no longer have the effrontery to stand by and see money appropriated for schools which can provide swimming pools while other schools are left in dire need.
– -What about North Sydney High School.
– Well, if North Sydney High was given a swimming pool in priority over expenditure on some other State schools which had a more basic need for essentials, I say that is a condemnation of the Liberal Government of New South Wales. What I have said applied to government high schools as well as to nongovernment schools. We are speaking in terms of needs and priorities. A swimming pool can be an important thing in some respects, but it should not take priority over greater necessities in other areas.
Although the Minister has accepted what we have been advocating in terms of capital grants, he still stands by helplessly and says that one cannot work out a formula for recurring grants for the running costs of a school. He says that discriminatory grants are impossible and only a flat rate is possible. Thus the. wealthiest private school in the country gets exactly the same flat rate grant per pupil as the poorest private school in the country.
We had the pleasure to have visiting this country the English Conservative Minister for Education, the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher. Despite the Minister’s doubts the English Conservatives seem to have found a formula to discriminate. The Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher informed us that her Government does not give Eton, Harrow, Oundle, Winchester or similar great public schools of England a penny in grants. These schools charge fees of a very high level. They have a very high Income and are not in need. She also informed us of the startling fact that despite the fees of some of these schools - which might be £2,000 a year - a tax exemption was not granted for these payments for pupils who attended those schools. While it has been established beyond doubt that almost all scholarship moneys under this Government - 95 per cent of them - go to people who would send their children through a secondary education without those grants, in the United Kingdom all grants to enable children to get through a secondary education go to children in need. As a consequence, 30 per cent of the students of United Kingdom universities come from low income families of the United Kingdom.
– We get 2 per cent here.
– It would be very doubtful if it was much more than 2 per cent in Australia. The authorities in the United Kingdom do not stand by helpless to work out some formula for need.
It is an interesting fact that when within a State a committee is set up among the private schools to allocate the State’s grants to those schools according to need we find that the greater public schools, which charge fees of SI, 000 or $1,200 a year, do not have the effrontery to ask for the same per capita grant as, for example, a Catholic school in South Australia which was brought to my attention. It charges 25c a week.
All the way through the Minister’s speech, there is some vague suggestion that what the Government upholds by its flat rate grants is a principle of freedom of choice. This was put by Mr Dixon, one of the spokesmen of the greater public schools who appeared in a recent television programme and who said: ‘Our schools are open to anybody’. The Minister suggests that the only reasons why people send their children to a greater public school, for instance, would be religious or geographical. There also happens to be the barrier of such things as fees and freedom of choice can face a pretty severe limitation if that barrier is there. It is entirely the business of those schools to charge such fees. But the fact is we are facing a spiralling cost of education. Educational expenditure is increasing at perhaps the rate of 15 per cent a year. At some point or other there must be a decision to appropriate this money according to need. 1 have no scintilla of opposition to the existence of greater public schools. They should exist if parents want to send their children to them. But if a class has 24 students and every parent pays for each child in that class $1,000 a year, the recurring revenue for that class is $24,000. If the teacher’s salary is not more than $8,000 that revenue more than pays the teacher’s salary and leaves a margin for the other expenditures of the school. There is no need to subsidise that school on the same basis as a poorer school.
The Government always ignores the sociological facts. It is not basically a question of which school gets the money; the fundamental question is what is happening to children. The children who go to the greater public schools come from the more affluent sections of the community - from the professional sections of the community and from favourable family backgrounds. What is more, in 80 per cent or 85 per cent of the cases they go through university or other forms of tertiary education. When they get to the tertiary forms of education what happens?
– What a dreadful thing!
– The honourable member for Warringah who has interjected shares with me a seat on the Council of the Australian National University. The cost of running that university is $38m a year and for the next triennium it will be $114m. The University has .somewhat fewer than 6,000 students. .The taxpayer will contribute funds in the next 3 years for those students somewhere in the vicinity of $6,500 a year a head. If a student does an honours degree the figure is $26,000, plus perhaps scholarship funds. If the 80 per cent or 85 per cent of. the section of the community which goes to greater public schools goes on to tertiary education, as they do in far more cases than students from any. other section of the community, they then hit the taxpayers’ jackpot, which is the enormous cost of tertiary education, especially, university education.
– You are going to make it free.
– That is Labor Party policy.
– Of course, that is a question which gives emphasis to my argument. There is a principle involved in having all the education free. It is free at the cost of the taxpayer, but that does not alter the fact that people who get a tertiary education, whether or not it is free, are the major beneficiaries of the taxpayers’ expenditure. I am merely pointing out that if we are considering what is happening to children and not what is happening to schools then those students who come from the greater public schools in the overwhelming majority of instances will get from the Australian taxpayer 9 or 10 times as much invested in them as the three-quarters of the children who leave state school and catholic schools without a tertiary education. I merely say that if I am to be concerned about the equity of the situation, I cannot get excited about the people who do not get a heavy subsidy at the secondary level when they will get a very heavy subsidy at the tertiary level.
But we do exactly the opposite. We run on the formulation of the Australian Council for Educational Research an examination which picks up those children who are most advantaged in the cognitive use of languages, which means, of course, the children from the sort of family background of the professional groups in the community. We devise a scholarship system which awards scholarships emphatically to those children who are in better off families and in the most privileged schools. In examining its own work, the ACER has found that about 95 per cent of the scholarships go to children who would have had a secondary education without them. The whole structure of our education system, as it is being built up under the present Government’s policy, is a structure of privilege.
There are certain unsatisfactory features of the Minister’s second reading speech. On the capita] grants side, the Minister has given us the precise figures. He says that $167m will be made available to State schools over 5 years and $48m to private schools over 5 years. Why was a 5-year period taken? The normal procedure of the Commonwealth Government in relation to education is to deal in triennia, not quinquennia.
– It sounds more.
– The total capital grant will be $2 15m over 5 years, and it makes it sound as if the Commonwealth Government is making a major capital contribution to education. If it were put that the capital grant is increased by $43m per annum, of course, it would dramatise the fact that this is less than a 4 per cent per annum increase in educational expenditure. But let us analyse the expenditure on private schools each year. Take my own State of Western Australia. The capital grant which will be given to the private schools in Western Australia is $700,000 a year.
For some of the more privileged greater public schools to paint through their classrooms, it might be an adequate sum, but for an organisation like the Catholic schools which are trying to provide aa education for the poorest parish child, $700,000 a year is simply pathetic. That is all that can be said about it. This does not matter, of course, if one is not concerned about the needs of the poorer sections of the community. I stand here and pledge on behalf of the Australian Labor Party that all of the money which is to be appropriated under this legislation will, under a Labor government, continue to be granted but it will be re-apportioned on the basis of need.
We have had a very considerable period of Commonwealth capital grants for education - for science laboratories and libraries in particular. I make no comment on the libraries except to say that at the primary school level where literacy is established, libraries are also extremely important, and the appropriation for libraries so far has been at the secondary level of education. The appropriation of money for science laboratories, important as it has been, is professionally oriented; it is for the child who will become skilled in research in chemistry, physics and so on. It finds its education’s rational consummation in a university or other tertiary level of scientific laboratory work. Surely, however, the large numbers of children who leave after 3 years of high school are also still Australian citizens, but 1 do not think they come within the range of the sympathy or the interest of the last 4 Commonwealth Ministers for Education, including the present Minister.
The school system is not adapted to the needs of the non-academic child who is greatly in need of basic trade training and training in the manual arts. It is time the Commonwealth Government considered in both the private and the public sector a diversification of education for the nonacademic child. To equip a school to teach woodwork, metal work, mechanical drawing, mechanics and the manual arts would involve an enormous expenditure of money. In the Catholic sector of education in my own State there are no longer any technical schools. The last one of them - St Patricks -closed. I have no doubt that the Catholic
Church wishes to reach the working class child who cannot pay high fees and also wishes to diversify its education to meet his needs. But too often it is not doing so, and the structure of its education tends to be oriented towards those who will go through to a full professional education at the university, whereas the great majority of its pupils will not complete a secondary education. It is therefore tragic that there is no equivalent appropriation being made for the development of the manual arts for the non-academic child - equivalent to science grants.
There are psychological ‘sets’ that a person can develop. Give a child the chance to master tools and machines and whilst you cannot give him in school the trade training that would exactly equip him for a life job, you give him sympathy for a set towards the whole subject which can be used as the basis for his later development into a highly skilled artisan. This country needs highly skilled artisans. We ought to be much more sympathetic than we are to the forms of education which meet their needs. Education is that development of the personality which takes place as a result of an individual’s learning. Our personality is the sum total of our attitudes and aptitudes. We need in education development of the attitudes, part of which is character, part of which is appreciation, part of which is constructiveness of approach and part of which is scientific and analytical method. We also need to develop the aptitudes if we are to develop balanced personalities. We feel that the professionally oriented biases of the Government develop attitudes all right but not aptitudes other than those which one might call professional aptitudes.
It is time children in need were assisted. The Minister uses the expression ‘means test’ and he hopes presumably that the parents will think that somehow or other Labor is proposing to run a tape measure over the incomes of parents. If some great public school with all the facilities, with very high revenues and with no further need of income does not get further income from the Commonwealth that does not mean parents have been assessed by means of a means test. It means that some sensible kind of study has been made. The Government has moved to this concept as far as the capital grants side of this legislation is concerned. I notice also that the Minister has made one other very important change where in a series of sub-clauses to clause 14 (b) the Bill states:
That is a statement about the money. The Bill continues:
Presumably this is because in about a quarter of the cases non-governmental schools have not in the past year furnished returns to the Minister and presumably the Minister will, in the absence of information, no longer go on making grants to these private schools. The Minister mentioned that some of them did not have the teacher; who could fill in forms and said that they were too much under pressure of work. He would not speculate whether there were any other reasons. It is, of course, very tempting to speculate that the reason may be that if there is a high school income revealed in the return the Minister’s justification to make grants disappears. A failure to provide information might make the justification of grants become very difficult. Anyhow, whatever the cause it is as well that section of the legislation requires accountability of expenditure of public funds.
I draw attention to the other educational power of the Commonwealth Government and that is the power to grant benefits to students. The Commonwealth Government has exercised this power in the case of Aboriginal children. The obligations of the Commonwealth are not simply obligations to assist poor schools. There is a need to assist poor children. The Commonwealth Government has detailed information derived from the system of social services. It knows how many widows there are. it knows how many deserted wives there are. It knows how many children they have. It can ascertain from the States the number of people in receipt of child welfare assistance. It has all this information at its disposal and it is time that there was associated with our social services structure a system of educational endowments and financial grants to enable poor parents to have assistance in meeting school uniform expenses, school fees, school books and assistance to meet all the other aspects of educational cost in which poorer children are disadvantaged. This has been done too late at the age of 14 in the case of Aboriginal children. There is no reason for giving educational grants to Aboriginal children on the ground of their colour. The real reason why we give grants to them is that we know that ipso facto if they are Aborigines they are poor and they are socially disadvantaged, But there are poor people and socially disadvantaged people who are not Aborigines and precisely the same case for assisting them exists. Moreover, in the case of Aborigines, grants starting at the age of 14 are grants starting too late.
We believe that the establishment of a schools commission objectively to examine the question of need will take this whole question out of the field of Party politics where it now is at every election. There will be presented to this Parliament in precisely the same way as the Australian Universities Commission presents to this Parliament or the Colleges of Advanced Education Commission presents to this Parliament a statement on the whole field of need in education with recommendations on what Commonwealth parliamentary action should be taken and that, we believe, is the model. Reports, of course, would commit the Commonwealth to act. It could not avoid taking action. If there is a clear statement of need the Commonwealth would be under a moral obligation to meet it and that is why we value the idea of a schools commission annually presenting a public document. The original statement by the Prime Minister which foreshadowed this legislation asked for matching grants from the States. The Government of Western Australia has decided to match the Commonwealth’s grants. I am speaking now about the grants to private schools. In deciding to match the Commonwealth’s grants the Western Australian Government is setting up a commitee of the private schools to allocate that money in terms of need. This must mean that the poorer private schools will get more than they would under the Government’s flat rate legislation. If the sum total appropria ted by the Government of Western Australia equals that being granted by the Commonwealth but is allocated on the basis of need it means that the poorer schools will get most. We believe that is a principle which ought to be adopted by the Commonwealth Government. It will be demonstrated by State governments that the principle that we are advocating will work.
It will be an odd arrangement whereby the Government of Western Australia matches $1 for $1 the grant of the Commonwealth. At one end of the scale - the wealthier schools - Commonwealth grants will be identical with poorer schools. Assume that the amount to educate a child in a State school at secondary level is $600. It therefore follows that $120 per secondary, private school .’student is the notional figure. Under the Commonwealth part of the grants the wealthier, schools of the State will be receiving $120 a head for their pupils - the same as the poorest schools in the State - whilst in the case of State Government matching grants the poorest schools will probably be receiving $200 and the wealthy others probably $20 or $30. It will be an odd situation, but it will, I think, focus the whole Commonwealth malappropriation of resources which are going to become more and more difficult for governments to find. I do not know for how long educational expenditure can go on snowballing. It will be a folly impossible to justify to appropriate large sums of money to schools which receive in fees very high revenues and are not in need in respect of their recurring expenses or for that matter their capital expenditure. Therefore, I have moved this amendment on behalf of the Opposition.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– Yes. I second it and reserve my right to speak.
– In this type of debate I usually suffer the disadvantage of following the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), who is, at most times, a reasonable and even a temperate man. On this occasion, he has come out of character. I am reminded that my honourable and respected friend from North Sydney (Mr Graham) asked me, before leaving the chamber, from his great interest in military history, to speak on the matter of Matron Edith Cavell and Florence Nightingale. Their connection with this Bill is just as tenuous as that of the arguments of the honourable member for Fremantle. I am surprised and disappointed that he should take on the role of the great antagonist of present Government proposals in education. I can only suppose that it has finally come home to him that he is in grave danger of being replaced as shadow Minister for Education by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy). God forbid. The plain fact of the matter is that it has become extraordinarily fashionable in the Labor Party for the cause of the independent schools to be vociferously denied and for the assumption to be made at one and the same time that this Government has no interest in the State schools systems, which it supports very substantially.
I draw attention to the sorts of things which are happening at the present time, lest they escape the notice of all honourable members opposite and not only the honourable member for Fremantle. In 1971-72 the total capital and recurrent expenditure by Commonwealth and State governments for schools and teachers colleges was approximately $ 1,070m. That figure excludes the cost of transportation. About $l,000m of that total figure was spent on the government sector of education; about $70m, the remainder, was spent on the independent sector, which covers 22 per cent of the total school population. More broadly, government spending on all education increased from $45 6m in 1961-62 to about $l,600m in 1971-72, or from $43 to $126 per capita of the population over that 10-year period. The direct and indirect Commonwealth share of the $ 1,600m total government expenditure on education is about $900m. That can be compared with the expenditure of about $223m of 10 years previous. In other words, the Commonwealth sector increase has been more rapid than the increase in all government expenditure on education. The rate of increase has been most notable in the Government’s direct expenditure on education, which has risen from $193m in 1968-69 to an estimated $426m in 1972- 73 - in other words, a 23 per cent increase over last year and a multiple of several over the preceding few years.
The States spent something like $300- odd in running costs for each primary pupil and $500-odd in running costs for each secondary pupil in 1971-72. The indirect Commonwealth contribution to that expenditure was roughly half - $150 for each primary pupil and $250 for each secondary pupil. That, of course, is not the whole of the story because large sums of money do not in themselves tell the whole story and do not necessarily prove the value, the quality or anything else in relation to education. But we should bear in mind, even though it is not very directly specified in this Bill, the Commonwealth’s recent emphasis on teacher education. I feel that this is at some variance with some of the allegations and assertions put forward by the honourable member for Fremantle tonight. From 1965 to 1970, to take the most recent year for which figures are available to me, there was a 19.3 per cent increase in primary teachers. That compared with an 11.9 per cent increase in enrolments in primary schools. In the same period there was a 39.3 per cent increase in secondary teachers compared with a 26.8 per cent increase in enrolments in the secondary sector.
The honourable member for Fremantle also made reference to the pupils and asked why the emphasis could not be put on students rather than on schools, parents or what-have-you. In saying that, he might have taken into account the fact that in 1960 the 15 to 18-year-olds who remained at school constituted 26 per cent of that age group, but in 1970 - 10 years later - they constituted 42 per cent of that age group. I believe that nobody is more concerned than this Government and the members of its education committee about values in education. I know of no better way of inculcating the right values or of improving values in education than by emphasising teacher education, which this Government is doing quite substantially at all levels. Through teacher education, combined with education in the home, we may reach a point which is perhaps what the honourable member for Fremantle was talking about. If he was not, I hope that he has it in mind that the achievement of the sorts of things that these days are symbols of independence, such as motor cars, may not necessarily be the best way to achieve independence and status and that more constructive things may be representative of what people may learn through education of one kind or another.
The burden of the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Fremantle is the appointment of an Australian schools commission, primarily for the purpose of assessing needs in education. This is not the first time we have heard of and had particular attention paid to the formation of an Australian schools commission. It has been a very fundamental plank in recent Labor Party education policy. The details of the Australian schools commission remain clouded in mystery. I suspect that they will remain so clouded until such time as at least this forthcoming election is completed and we find out whether or not anybody will be able to implement the unnamed details of the Australian schools commission. All that we really know is that it is proposed to centralise the administration - or at least the guideline formation for education - of the 10,000 Australian schools in one presumably Canberra based Australian schools commission.
What that has to do with the system as it now runs, or with swimming pools for rich schools - an argument into which I was extraordinarily surprised to find the honourable member for Fremantle drawn - I do not know. One would have thought that he may have seen or heard of the extraordinarily constructive performance which people such as Mrs Slattery gave in a televised debate a week or so ago relating to such futile allegations as that. At least all those who cared to interest themselves in whether any government has ever provided money for swimming pools at private schools would have done so. The honourable member for Fremantle does not mind if the great public schools or their equivalents exist, as long as the parents pay. I am sure that that is a very fine sentiment. I believe one of the greatest innovations we have yet had in the educational field is that recurrent costs of independent schools are to be allied to the cost of educating children in government schools at the level of 40 per cent, half to be contributed by the Commonwealth and half to be contributed by the States. Perhaps the honourable member for Fremantle and his colleagues would take on board the benefits that will flow if all the
States join with the Commonwealth in accepting the current proposal. A study will show them that parents who send their children to independent schools will be saving the general run of taxpayers, other than themselves, about S75m a year by their input to the independent school system.
I acknowledge now, as I have done before, the right of anybody to oppose on philosophical or principle grounds the existence of independent schools, as state and church should not be in any way welded together or associated in that sort of monetary fashion. That is a very longstanding point of view and it is still tenable, but I believe that in the present climate it is completely unrealistic. Few countries in the world comparable with our own in a reasonable sense accept that unvarnished principle, however nice it might have sounded, however honourable it may be, or any other adjectival description it might enjoy at this time in the history of educational development. Keeping in mind the practicalities, the salient feature in the existence of independent schools is not that some people can afford to send their children to them and some cannot; it is not that the Government may subsidise in some small measure the private expenditure on education which otherwise would not exist; it is, in fact, that there is private expenditure on education. There is a relatively small amount of private or parental expenditure on education in government schools.
A few months ago I asked a question on notice about tax deductions in respect of education for different categories of parents because I suspect that quite a significant part - not a major part - of income tax deductions for education is made by parents of children who attend State schools, Unfortunately such figures are not available in any recognisable form from Treasury sources. I wish they were available. The honourable member for Fremantle, of all people, repeated that the wealthy people send their children to independent schools and the poor people send their children to State schools. That just does not wash.
There is a general proposition which is tenable that people who do not have high levels of income certainly will not be able to pay the fees of some of the non-Catholic independent schools, but considerable numbers of people with very ordinary incomes, as we have said many times in this House, send their children to independent schools. I could point to individual examples, and I am not far from one myself. People of quite ordinary means make considerable sacrifices to send their children to independent schools of varying degrees of quality. They do so for a variety of reasons, as the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and honourable members on this side of the House have pointed out. Some of them might be questionable, some of them less so. The fact that the honourable member for Fremantle and his colleagues would deny them that incentive, initiative and freedom of action does not at all impress us on this side of the House, although I would agree that there remains a part of the argument which deserves attention; that is to say that other people should not be disadvantaged, should not be unable to have access to education of some reasonable kind through lack of income.
A great many of the Government’s recent proposals in education have been directed towards that end although, as we know, there is a long way to go. In fact, it may be well nigh impossible to achieve equality of output from an educational situation. It may be possible to achieve equality of input opportunity. Increasingly research in the United States and elsewhere is showing that schemes of compensatory education have to go a good deal further than they have gone so far towards meeting real or imagined needs. They have not yet solved the problem of intelligence differentials. Honourable members opposite, whether they mean it or not, often sound as though they are happy to deny the existence of any innate intelligence differentials. They wish to place the whole of the burden on social environment. All the research that has so far come to my notice or that is available in the Parliamentary Library is still undecided. In fact the suspicion is growing once again that the argument about social environment is not quite enough, that there may be inherent differences which any amount of compensatory action in respect of social environment may not eradicate.
Why the honourable member for Fremantle chooses to deal with the fact that there is no specific allocation for the manual arts and other such matters escapes my understanding entirely, because it is clear to anybody interested in this field that it is entirely open to the States to allocate their moneys where they will. The fact that the Commonwealth has seen fit to identify certain nation-wide specific areas such as library and laboratory needs surely does not mean that it is necessary or incumbent upon us to identify every possible specific, minor or other need among the educational demands that this vast field can place upon us. Surely the States in their already centralised education systems can be left something to do, to make some choices and to allocate some priorities of their own. I see that as a frivolous contribution by the honourable member who on other occasions might not have said it.
In relation to the proposed establishment of an Australian schools commission, to the very best of my knowledge the poorer schools about which the honourable member spoke a great deal have shown no indication that they want such a body. The system of across the board per capita grants to assist independent schools with running costs is, to the best of our knowledge, the preferred policy of all major independent school organisations, whether they involve the so-called richer or the so-called poorer schools. Those organisations include the National Council for Independent Schools, the Federal Catholic Schools Committee, the New South Wales Catholic Schools Committee and the Australian Parents Council. None of those is asking for an Australian schools commission, so I suggest, with due deference, that honourable members opposite - we are not in the vote winning business, we are only talking about education - if they ever think of getting into the vote winning business, should take account of who is interested in their proposals. I do not think they will find that many people engaged in education are interested in them.
The two Bills we are debating are not concerned only with independent schools and they are certainly not concerned with independent schools versus State schools. They provide, as the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) announced back in May, for expenditure of $167m over 5 years. That is not hidden under a bushel or concealed in the 1.5th paragraph. It appears in the second and third lines of the Bill. The expenditure, dating from July next, is for general building activity on government schools in the States. An amount of $48m is to be provided over the same period for independent school building. The increased per capita grants towards independent schools’ running costs are on the basis of the designated 40 per cent of the costs as defined in government schools. Lest anybody has the impression that the proportions are wrong I point out that the allocation of $167m is 77.7 per cent of the total sum provided and roughly 78 per cent of the children attend government schools. The expenditure of $48m represents the same proportion of the total expenditure as the number of children attending independent schools represents of the total number of children attending school.
It is a pity that the Labor Party seeks to divide the community on the matter of State aid. It is an important matter. As I said earlier, it has been a matter of principle and may still be a matter of principle for some people. In terms of practicality it is and has been a going concern. It has been championed by the Opposition, both State and Federal, for many years. It is a very strange thing that in their efforts to twist this issue into something that appears to be a total proposition in favour of need and not in favour of anything else including intelligence, diligence or parental input, members of the Opposition are trying to confuse the issues. I believe, that into the bargain they are confusing themselves. Whether it is the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy), whether it is Mr Hartley of some political fame and who happens to chair the Australian Labor Party’s Federal Executive Education Committee and who is totally - as might be expected - opposed to State aid in any form, or whether it is various others who at various times have disagreed with them in the past, such as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and even the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr Whitlam), none is quite sure that he agrees with the others. Various of my colleagues can easily quote some of their sayings to indicate that state of affairs. This important proposal should not be allowed to fall into any sort of disrepute by virtue of a transference of emphasis to the question of whether independent schools should exist. They do exist. Their children are deserving of support. They will not get support to the detriment of state school children.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-! wonder why honourable members on the Government side have no concern at all about government schools. I wonder why in his speech the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) seemed to concentrate almost exclusively upon the nongovernment schools. He implied that there was something wrong with’ the government schools or the state schools. In his application of his attitude towards the needs test which the Australian Labor Party would apply to aid to schools, he used the terms in such a way that one would presume from his statement that all the diligent people, all the intelligent people and all the right minded people were in the non-government schools and that the others were in the state school system. I do not know why he is so critical of the state schools. It is true that the state school system turned out people such as the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown). The schools cannot be blamed for his politics perhaps, but there does not seem to be much wrong with his intellect. Probably the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) is even a product of a state school system.
I wonder why in the last few years the Government has turned education debates into debates about the extraordinary value of the so-called independent schools and the rather offbeat, unnecessary nature of the government schools. Of course, they have not been debates about education at all. I do not think the honourable member for Denison touched the subject. It is a school room versus the ballot box debate. Honourable members opposite are not a bit concerned about what goes on in the school; they are concerned only with what goes into the ballot box. I think it is time that the community itself paid very close scrutiny to the way in which schools are being financed and the way in which the Commonwealth has entered the field, lt is part of the play by honourable members opposite to decry the suggestion of a schools commission. The Government has established the Commission on Advanced Education and the Australian Universities
Commission. What is wrong with another commission to deal with various other areas, whether it is schools in general, preschools or anything such as that? Why does it suddenly create a great centralised bureaucracy? Why ls it that the Commonwealth public servants, who administer these things, suddenly take on the vision of being ogres of the nth degree when honourable members opposite speak.
I do not believe that honourable members opposite have applied themselves to the subject at all. It is not just a question of aid to private schools. As I have said before, this aspect of education is increasingly becoming a public scandal. It has nothing to do with the general direction of education in Australia. I said here 8 or 9 years ago when the Commonwealth first embarked upon a programme of finance for non-state schools in the provision of science blocks and then libraries: ‘Where ls it going to end?’ Honourable members opposite say it is reasonable to take 40 per cent as the level of the Government’s support for non-government schools. I do not know why it should be reasonable to take 40 per cent. That is not where it will stop. There will be an edging along all the time. There will be campaigns claiming that it should be 50 per cent. There will be those who say: ‘It is reasonable that it be half. After all, this is a partnership’. Then of course there will be those who say it should be more and it should be more. We are on a slippery path of continued subvention of public funds into private schools.
One of the major differences between government and non-government schools is that the non-state school does not accept a public responsibility. A person can turn up to a non-state school with his family and knock on the door and say: ‘I have just come from Turkey, Greece or Britain. I have children of 16 and 15 years of age and I want to come in’. The school authorities say: ‘You cannot come in. You should have written to us 6 years ago’. They might ask: ‘Did your parents attend school here?’ or: ‘How much money have you?’ But when a person goes to a state high school and knocks on the door, he is admitted as of right, and there is a totally different public responsibility. I do not care what sort of sophistry comes from the other side of the House; that seems to be one of the fundamental issues. People who accept public funds, certainly in such massive proportions as non-government schools are getting them, should accept a responsibility, but that is not the case. Honourable members will probably say: ‘Oh, yes, but such and such a school takes children at 6 years of age or at 17 years of age or they take children of members of the clergy at half rates’. They will say all sorts of things. How many Turkish migrant children are at Melbourne Grammar School? How many are at any of the other expensive schools? Then we come to this point: From what are they independent? Are they independent from public money? Of course they are not. This debate is about that very thing. Are they independent of curriculum? Of course they are not. They are proceeding through the school system I would think, around Melbourne anyhow, probably in a much more restricted way than some of the State secondary schools. They are not independent at all, except perhaps independent of public responsibility.
One of the intriguing things about this debate today and the earlier one that took place is the way in which there has been an injection in the last 12 or 15 years into debate here of the subject of education and Aborigines - 2 areas in which 12 or 13 years ago honourable members opposite and in particular their leadership said: ‘We have no responsibility’. What should the Commonwealth be doing about education? Are the things it is doing the ones that ought to be done? Money is not enough. It is a big help, as we all know, both privately and publicly. But what is the Commonwealth doing to challenge the things that are basic to the needs of Australian education? The education systems of the world, and in this country as much as in any other, face a totally different world from the one in which we were educated and through which people of my generation passed on the way to employment and other things. It was relatively simply 20 or 30 years ago to say: ‘This is the objective of education. We are trying to turn out people with reasonable skills, with literacy and with a certain academic capacity’. And the further that one went through the system the higher the demand for academic excellence. We were producing professional people, trained people or skilled people. We were producing literate people at any rate. There was not much challenge, generally speaking, 30 or 40 years ago. lt is true that throughout the world, even in Australia’s conservative education systems, thinking was going on but there was not any great ferment inside the education systems. We have to think of new directions for education. We are not to subsidise the continual conservatism of the Australian education system. The Commonwealth has to set up new standards. As I have said before - I suppose if one says it long enough it may well be taken up by honourable members opposite - schools in Canberra, for instance, are part of the educational laboratory available to the Commonwealth authorities. But unfortunately, from my observations and from the actions of the young people who sat on the grass opposite Parliament House recently partly on strike and partly I suppose because it was a nice day, children in the schools of Canberra seem to find themselves in a very restrictive system. They had complaints about the management of the schools worrying about the kind of clothes they wore and the length of their hair. This is part of the past. In general we have to face the fact that the new school uniform is jeans or some such form of dress. But this should not be one of the arguments going on inside the schools. We have to take the general view that the world is now a different place and we should look at it again. Over the last 10 or 12 years in which the Government has been pouring vast sums of money into education, what has it done? There were weaknesses and characteristics of the Australian education system. There were great inequalities in education based upon the economic situation of a particular society. A child from a basic wage home had a much less chance of getting a good education than a child from a home with greater means. There is no evidence anywhere that the child from the home with greater means is brighter on the average than the child from the working class homes. In fact, as the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) has just reminded me, about 50 per cent of bright children are the children of working class people, the tradesmen, but only a relatively small proportion, perhaps onesixth or one-seventh of them, get to university.
Then there is the question of geography. Are we really doing anything under this System to reduce the inequalities that flow from the geography of Australia, that is, the disadvantages of living in certain country or suburban areas? Or the geographical differences between States - the great distance disadvantages of many areas of Queensland, for instance. Are we doing anything to ensure that more women obtain the great advantages of education rather than having the great drop-out rates when they are in their teens? What are we doing about Aboriginal education? This legislation does not challenge that. Australian education, as with all education, has been continuously conservative. How much adventurous spirit will this Bill engender? The education system is underserviced. I would think that the average school, particularly the average State school, is very short on the services behind the teaching service, but we are doing nothing about that. The Commonwealth has tackled some of the problems of teacher education, but not all that many. I understand that in Victoria there is likely to be about 500 university graduates this year but there will be no adequate accommodation for them inside the secondary teaching services in the training system. Somewhere along the line somebody should be able to produce the wherewithal to overcome this. We cannot produce instant teacher colleges, of course, but with support from Commonwealth funds we probably can allow these people to get their teaching training over a wider range of the State.
Then there are special areas of education which the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) mentioned. What are we doing about handicapped people, slow learners, isolated children and the other special areas of education which form an almost endless list? The Commonwealth’s approach to these matters is still piecemeal, with the scattering of largesse and a failure to grapple with the real problems. What does this system do for the people I represent? I have here a schedule of non-state schools in my electorate and non-state schools in the electorate of Kooyong. I chose them as a fair sample. In Kooyong there are the relatively wellheeled people while in Wills there are the solid, perceptive, politically-sound citizens, but generally speaking, on a lower income. I seek leave of the House to have this table titled ‘Grants to Non-State Schools 1971 incorporated in Hansard. I spoke to the Minister who had been at the table and he agreed to its inclusion. The details in the table were extracted from the 1971 reports. I have made a list of the schools in the suburbs that basically comprise Kooyong - Balwyn, Kew and Hawthorn - and the suburbs that basically comprise Wills - Brunswick, Coburg and Pascoe Vale.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– If the State aid system is to take up all these difficulties it should do something about the problems of which I have spoken. In 1971, $808,000 went to non-state schools in the suburbs I have mentioned which basically form Kooyong I did not go to the map to determine whether this or that school was inside or outside the dotted lines. But what of schools in Wills? Only $227,000. But what are the facts of life? Wills has a population of 117,000 while Kooyong has a population of 95,000. Even those Catholics so dedicated to the concept of state aid should examine this aspect closely. In Wills there are 49,000 Catholics while in Kooyong there are 23,000 Catholics. From any angle from which we care to look at this, the problems that have been created are not answered. There are other areas of inequality. The 1966 census figures when related to present boundaries reveal that 3,600 university graduates live in Kooyong while 424 live in Wills. In the other areas of tertiary education, 4,500 students live in Kooyong while 1,200 live in Wills. There are 54,000 primary education students in Wills and 27,000 in Kooyong. There are 3,000 professional people in Wills and about 8,000 in Kooyong. Wills has 30,000 labourers; there are 10,000 in Kooyong. This situation should be reversed. Anybody taking on the Australian system to remedy it should be reversing that situation so that instead of there being $800,000 in grants to Kooyong and $200,000 to Wills it would be the other way round. That is why I challenge the system, and I speak tonight for those people in the Wills electorate.
The whole system is so off and so wrong. Inside the State system there is no school inside Wills which is like the Kew High School. Let me refer now to the ancillary services such as libraries. Wills is a very densely populated area. In the Moonee Valley regional area, which covers Brunswick, expenditure per head on library facilities is 91c; in Canberra it is $4.50 and in the Camberwell-Waverley area which is something like the Kooyong electorate, it is $2.36. The Brunswick-Moonee Valley area has the highest population but the lowest amount of library expenditure and the least number of books. I have in front of me a schedule covering 6 or 7 areas throughout Australia. We should be doing something about the situation at Princes Hill primary school where the infants school building is 60 to 70 years old. There are 89 Italian and 74 Greek students at the school. The Newlands High School, with which I am closely associated, is doing perhaps not so badly, apart from its austerity.
What about migrant education? Thousands of children in Brunswick and Coburg are being deprived of the advantages of living in Australia because of the failure of the Government to tackle even that simple, direct and very noteworthy problem. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is now making great speeches about it, but let us consider what these schools are like. Moreland High School has 923 students and covers a total area of 1.7 acres. The school did not have enough room to put seats in the grounds after it had bought them. Some of the school buildings belong to the early 1900s. Seventy-five per cent of the students of Moreland High School are migrants. The libraries are inadequate. One of the more interesting things which again is a challenge to the sponsors of the independent schools, so-called, is that at least 2 schools, Newlands and Moreland, have taken up the challenge of the new generation of school children and the new look of education. Moreland is one of the experimental areas. One of the heartening factors is that despite the restrictions, the drabness, the austerity and the inadequacies, people still are able to tackle these problems in a professionally skilful and adventurous way. The fourth form at Moreland High School is undergoing a totally different education year. The children can proceed on project systems of all sorts which take them out into the community and give them a totally different classroom relationship.
I suggest that it is time this Parliament took as its first duty the raising of the standards of non-state schools in Australia, and the application of a common sense approach to the question of other schools. People argue that they should not be called wealthy schools. It is not the schools that are wealthy; it is the parents. People will argue about how much it costs to send children to a state school. They will quote all sorts of odd figures. If one looked up the report of the Commonwealth Grants
Commission, one would see that in Victoria, of the expenditure on state school education, some S8m or S9m goes in the transport of school children and $23m or thereabouts goes to the training of teachers.
These expenditures belong to the whole system. They should be charges against nonstate schools as much as against state schools. It is possible in Victoria to travel a long distance to a non-state school and receive a travelling allowance. In areas such as the one I represent, I do not think anybody travels a sufficient distance to obtain a travelling allowance to attend, say, Newlands High School or Moreland High School. 1 do not know how much money is paid by the State in travelling allowance to, say, Melbourne Grammar or Ivanhoe Grammar but, so far as I am aware, nothing is paid to students attending schools such as Moreland High School.
I believe this Bill reverses all the principles to which we should apply ourselves in considering the social needs of Australia. To those who have, it is going to be given in ever increasing quantities. Therefore, I believe that the House should support the Opposition’s amendment as an expression of principle, accepting the fact, as the honourable member for Fremantle has said, that people have planned for next year and therefore will have to put up with it for 12 months.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is a shame that the honourable members opposite who have spoken in this debate appear not to have noticed the vast reforms which have been made by the present Government in this vital area of education and in particular tonight that they appear to have ignored the particular features of the Bill which is before us. It is fairly plain that honourable gentlemen opposite are running dead. They are having ten bob each way and are illustrating that they have no policy and only a worn out philosophy in this extremely important area of the Australian system of education. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) made the quite extraordinary claim that we on the Government side are not a bit concerned about government schools. When one notes that this very Bill is largely about assistance to government schools and when one notes that it incorporates proposals which provide new and massive - I stress the words new’ and ‘massive’ - assistance to government schools, the claim of the honourable member for Wills can only be regarded as absurd. He and others rattled on about privileges and about rich schools. They barely seem to have noticed that all the poorest non-government schools want the Liberal-Country Party Government’s approach. If the debate were about rich and poor schools and about privileged and under privileged schools, why would the poorest and the least privileged independent schools - there are many of them throughout the country - be insisting that the policy for them and for the Australian people is the policy of the Liberal Government? They know that the talk of the Australian Labor Party about privilege is puff talk. It is talk which is designed largely as a cloak over the policy of the Australian Labor Party which they know can ultimately only destroy their system of education.
The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) developed a rather new line for him tonight and, in a sense, he started to look a little like some of his more radical or left wing or socialist left colleagues. He again made an extraordinary claim in line with the sort of claims made by the honourable member for Wills and that claim was that the whole structure being built up by the Government is a structure of privilege. If ever this were true, it certainly is not true now, for this Government’s approach to education has been to move into many areas to break down problems of inequality and, indeed, positively to discriminate in favour of certain under privileged or less privileged groups in the Australia community.
The Government migrant education programme is such a programme. More than 700 teachers are teaching English to 25,000 migrant children. The positive discrimination in favour of Aborigines through the provision of special scholarships is another area in this vein. The fact that, for the first time, Commonwealth Government secondary scholarships are now to be awarded on merit and need is again an illustration of the importance of helping those who have least Finally, of course, the new capital grants contained in the present Bill are designed and in fact are already working to aid those schools which have most need. At this very moment old schools in the poorer or industrial areas are being demolished and are being replaced by new schools in pursuance of this Government’s policy, this Government being dedicated to the eradication of inequality of opportunity in the Australian education system.
The Australian Labor Party has moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill and 1’n its amendment it talks of an Australian schools commission. We have heard a great deal of talk about an Australian schools commission. Again and again we have heard of the Australian schools commission and again and again we have asked for details of it. If it is substantial enough to be incorporated in a Bill such as this through amendment, as offered by the Opposition, surely it is substantial enough to be given some elaboration in the speeches of honourable gentlemen opposite or, indeed, to be the subject of a major paper by the Opposition. But all our cries for assistance in understanding the nature and the workings of the so-called Australian schools commission have been in vain.
It has become plain that the Australian schools commission is as insubstantial as fairy floss and even more sticky. It melts in the, mouths of the Labor Party spokesmen opposite, leaving only a sort of pink stain around their lips. It remains as insubstantial as fairy floss because it is a device to hide the deep differences in the Australian Labor Party over education. I think this is important because certain fundamental principles are involved in this Bill and in recent Government announcements on education policy. These principles concern the individual. They concern what I describe as the Australian way of life and they concern the contemporary philosophy of education. One of the basic freedoms which we in the Liberal and Country Parties have always believed in is the freedom of people to have the education of their choice. This freedom is at stake when one considers the approach of the Australian Labor Party to education. We believe that the Australian way of life and the Australian’s sense of fair play is at stake when one considers this approach. We believe that when we turn to the philosophy of education as it is debated around Australia at present, certain absolutely cardinal tenets of contemporary educational philosophy are put in jeopardy by the Labor Party’s approach to education.
I instance in particular the notion that authority in education ought to be decentralised. I also instance the notion of community involvement in education and I instance the importance of quality and not just quantity in education. I suggest that in all these areas concerned with the freedom of individuals to choose in the basic traditions of the Australian way of life and in a contemporary philosophy of education, the Australian Labor Party is sadly old fashioned and out of phase with today’s thinking. Whereas the Government, on the one, hand, is sensitively and strongly reaching for and finding answers to the very complex problems of education in this country, the ALP on the other hand is confused, irrelevant and old fashioned. Its Leader sits on the fence - a barbed wire fence, admittedly - swaying this way and that as the opportunism of the day dictates.
The ALP’s other spokesmen on education range all over the place. They range from what used to be, at least until tonight, the approach of the honourable member for Fremantle which we have all admired, which was a deep concern with and belief in freedom in education, to the approach of those honourable members opposite who would nationalise, centralise and secularise all Australian education if the Australian people would only let them do it. Perhaps the true colours of the ALP are shown in the fact that the Chairman of the Australian Labor Party’s Federal Executive Committee on Education is Mr Bill Hartley, a rather well known Victorian member of the Labor socialist Left and a member of course of the Federal Executive of the ALP. He is one of the constituents of the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown). Between the biennial Conferences of the Labor Party, the ALP’s Federal Executive makes the policy decisions. Pending the next biennial Conference it will control ALP policy. As I have said, the Committee on Education is chaired by a member of the socialist Left and, one might say - I think that the honourable member for Diamond Valley would agree - a notorious member of the socialist Left. It is almost unbelievable that a socialist could be heading Labor’s policy committee in such a vital area in 1972. It is time that the people of Australia knew this.
It is time that the people of Australia knew that, for instance, the Australian Union of Students has condemned the ALP - not the Government - for being more interested in quantity than quality in Australian education. The Australian Union of Students made a number of detailed submissions to the Liberal Commonwealth Government with respect to this year’s Budget. The Commonwealth Government took those submissions very seriously and acted so as to fulfil the requests of the Australian Union of Students in almost every area where they were concerned. Indeed, in a number of areas the Government went further than the Australian Union of Students had suggested. The Australian Union of Students has clearly recognised that the Government has made deep and expensive reforms across the whole of Australian education. It has also recognised the inadequacy of the ALP at a time when the people of Australia can least afford such inadequacy in such a once great political Party. The people of Australia are, I think, coming to see that the old approaches are just not good enough in our rapidly changing world.
It might once have been sensible simply to set up centralised state education structures, to provide basic education free, secular and for all. It might once have been sensible for the decisions to have been made at the centres of State government. Extending that once upon a time thinking to today, it might be sensible to have the decisions centralised in Canberra as in the Australian schools commission. But we say that such an approach is senseless and insensitive today. We in the Liberal Party say that the crying need in Australian education today is for things like parental involvement, community involvement in the setting up and running of schools and teacher involvement with parents and the local community. We say that these are the areas of concern and these point in a direction from which the ALP appears again, even in 1972, to be running, lt has been well said that war is too important a subject to be left to admirals and generals. Today surely we must say that education is too important a subject to be left to governments, just as war is too important to be left to admirals and generals.
The Bill before the House makes 2 major moves. Firstly, it provides extra capital grants to the States for both government and independent schools. The grants arc to be made in the States. General guidelines will be set up by a national committee but the actual recommendation with respect to particular capital projects in the schools will be made by expert committees at the State level. These committees will draw up lists of priorities - and this is the point which makes such nonsense of so much that has been said by the Labor Party about what the Government is doing. It obviously grieves the Labor Party that the Government is acting substantially in. these areas. The plain fact is that the poorer schools will get easily the most assistance because their needs will be easily demonstrated. It is plain that the so-called wealthy or privileged schools will not be able to demonstrate the same kind of capital needs as the capital needs of the poorer or. parish schools.
The second major move in this, legislation which is before the House tonight is to ensure that all independent schools can plan ahead, knowing that they will be supported. They have too often in the past had to live from hand to mouth, uncertain about recurring funds. They surely have every right to keep their fees down so that they may keep their doors open. The ALP approach would be to drive all but the very wealthy out of them and to put these schools beyond the reach of all but the very few. I was unimpressed by the point made about Eton, Harrow and similar schools by the honourable member for Fremantle when he said ‘Let them charge what they will’. We say ‘Let these schools not charge what they will, let them charge fees which are low enough to permit more and more Australians to attend them’. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) made the extraordinary point that schools which charged fees above $300 would cut themselves out of Government assistance. The Labor Party is saying it will give assistance only to schools which charge no more than $300. Speakers have pointed out again and again that the cost of educating a child in the State sector is $600. Therefore the ALP argument can act only as a dreadful discouragement to the communities which wish to build up good schools, schools, which look to the future, schools which improve their standards and schools which are interested in the quality of the education which they offer. The plain message from the Opposition is: ‘Improve your schools and be damned, for you will get no more help from us. Build up to the point where you have to charge more than $300 for the provision of a first class education and cut yourself out of assistance.’ Then, of course, they must start again from some point, God knows where. The average parish school must suffer under this system. Its parents and friends association would find that the facilities which it had worked voluntarily to provide, be it a teacher or a classroom, could put it beyond the means test level set by the Government. In other words, the harder they worked the less Government help they got. No government school parents and citizens group faces that prospect. They can work hard for extra in the certain prospect that their extra effort will be rewarded.
The Australian Labor Party is saying: We are not going to reward the extra effort of parents and citizens groups’. It seems to me to be a tragedy that in 1972 the Labor Party is pursuing a course designed to divide the community and to divide one group of school children from another by this attack on the so-called rich schools. The Labor Party’s attack is not on wealthy parents but on wealthy schools. If the attack had been on wealthy parents the Labor Party would have had to include wealthy parents who send their children to government schools. I think I heard an interjection to the effect that tax can look after wealthy parents. That is right. That is precisely what we are saying. We say: Let the tax system look after the wealthy parents and do whatever equalisation is necessary at that level, but let us not equalise down Australian education. Let us make education of their choice available and free to all Australians.
Mir REYNOLDS (Barton) (10.52) - It would take all of my speech if I were to check on ali of the erroneous statements made by the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) about Australian Labor Party policy and what the attitude of the various sectional groups in the community is towards the Government’s performance in education. I should imagine that over the next few weeks until the election is held the honourable member along with other Government supporters will run into a lot of hostile meetings about the Government’s performance in education. What the Australian Union of Students has to say about the Government’s deficiencies in respect of tertiary education would fill a book by itself. As a matter of fact, the legislation before us is in many ways a vast repudiation of many of the past policies of the Government. But the Government still has retained many of the grossest inequalities.
The honourable member for Chisholm referred to secondary scholarships. There is, in part, a repudiation of the previous policy dating from about 1965. Even now - and I hope that I will have time to demonstrate, this later - the policy that the Government has adopted is quite inequitable. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his second reading speech mentioned that the Government would grant finance on the basis of need. The honourable member for Chisholm, on behalf of the Government, takes credit for imposing a needs basis after all the years that the Labor Party has been demanding this old-fashioned policy. But this still does not go to the very important matter of dealing with recurrent grants. The honourable member talked about massive assistance to schools. He said that $167m would be spread among government schools in the 6 States over a period of 5 years. In saying this he assumed that the Government would still be in office. Measure that against the recommendation of the nationwide survey of education needs, which asked not for $167m but for SI, 443m for State schools alone and another $240m, if I remember correctly, for non-State schools. Admittedly there has been some increase in grants to the States under the Commonwealth-State financial arrangements. But there has been no indication whatsoever of the extent to which these funds go towards meeting the need mentioned in the nationwide survey.
– That was about 2 years ago.
– As the honourable member quite rightly said, it was about 2 years ago. The needs have escalated quite substantially since then.
The Labor Party is concerned with both the qualitative and the quantitative aspects of education. We feel that the amount being now spent on education in Australia is inadequate by international standards. Australia spends about 4.5 per cent of its gross national product on education as against 6 per cent or 7 per cent spent by the more advanced countries. We say that what is spent is inequitably spread among the various sections of the Australian community to the disadvantage of those most in need. Also, we say that it is inefficiently spent because most of the money that has been spent has not been supported by research, certainly not by publicised research. Where, for instance, did the Government hit upon the figure of $167m? Where did it hit upon the figure of $48m for the capital requirements of non-State schools over the next 5 years? If there has been any research it has not been placed before this Parliament or the Australian community. It could be just a figure pulled out of the air for all the community is concerned. No wonder the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has spoken about secretiveness in government. Time after time recommendations for sizable expenditures come before this Parliament with no evidence to support the basis on which they are made.
There is no evidence that this Government is considering the quality of education so far as aims, content, organisation or administration are concerned. Because we say that the Australian education budget is inadequate, inequitable and inefficiently spent, we believe that there should be a national commitment to education in this country. That is why we propose the Australian schools commission and the Australian pre-schools commission.
I want to talk about some of the other aspects raised by the honourable member for Chisholm. I indicated as a preliminary how inequitable expenditure under this Bill will be. Apart from that, there are imporant needs not mentioned at all in this Bill.
There has been some reference in the Budget to a sum of $5m to be spent throughout Australia this year for preschool education. The inequality starts in pre-school education. We find that the greatest neglect in pre-school education in Australia is in the communities where there is the greatest need. Typically it is in the lower income groups, the lower socioeconomic groups, in areas where migrants congregate and in areas where both parents have to go to work. Even allowing for all that, in New South Wales about 3 per cent of all children get pre-school education and those children mainly are in the more affluent areas.
There is no reference in this Bill to technical education. There is no reference in the subsequent Bills to come before this Parliament to the great need for the development of technical education in- this country. As we look around at the deprived areas in Australia and the deprived schools about which We of the Labor Party talk we see that they are, typically, in the working class area - the areas with larger families, the areas where both parents go to work, the areas where there is a greater concentration of migrants, areas where there are more families dependent on welfare payments and areas where more children have to leave school at an earlier age. They are the areas which have schools in which there is the highest teacher-pupil ratio. There is also a greater turnover of teachers in those areas. Because of the inadequate facilities provided teachers feel that they have to get out of the place as soon as they can. They are the areas in which, often, more physically and mentally handicapped children are to be found, ls it any wonder then that we get the resultant inequality that is shown up in such figures as this: That 3 out of 10 children in government mid Catholic schools finish secondary schooling. But in the more privileged non-Catholic private schools 8 out of every. 10 youngsters go on to complete secondary education. This is the solid evidence of the result of the inequality. Many able children in lower socio-economic groups have to leave school simply because their parents cannot afford to keep them there.
Looking at the other non-government schools which cater for 10 per cent of the school population, they get 30 per cent of the Commonwealth secondary scholarships. That has been the case to date. Only 4 per cent of applicants in government schools get Commonwealth secondary scholarships and 7 per cent of applicants in Catholic schools get them. But nearly 15 per cent in other private schools get scholarships. Nearly 4 times as many students in other private schools get scholarships as do those in government schools. One can go on to look at student-teacher ratios. In government secondary schools there is an average of one teacher for every 18 students. In private schools the ratio is one teacher for every 14 students. It is no wonder that the Minister comes into this place and tries to play down the importance and significance of student-teacher ratios. He says that they do not matter. But is very notable that all the affluent schools advertise each year that they have a lower teacher-pupil ratio than is found in other schools. They use that as an attraction to draw students to them. In this debate we do not want to get bogged down on how the Government, as against the Labor Party, will distribute the amount of money made available for nonstate schools. It is very important to recognise that at least 75 per cent of Australian children go to government schools. Therefore we have to be very concerned about the neglect in so many areas of government schools.
In stressing the establishment of an Australian schools commission, the Labor Party wants to set up a body that has continuity and a comprehensive regard for education. Australian education in years gone by has been cursed by the insufficiency of research and by the fragmentary type of research that is carried out. Periodically we have an investigation into some segment of education. Recently in New South Wales an examination was made of secondary education. However, there is no overall view of the whole range of education, the integration of each section with the others and the continuity and development of education. That is why we are proposing the establishment of an Australian schools commission. It will be a continuing body, an expert body and a representative body on which both government and non-government schools and parents will be represented. Its job as a continuing research body will be to make recommendations for the material requirements of all schools but also, and very importantly, to carry out high powered research into the aims, the content, the organisation and the administration of education in Australia. If it does these things it will be doing something unprecedented in this country.
We do not want to set up a centralised bureaucracy in Canberra; far from it. Because of the Australian schools commission’s commitment to continuing research and because of its commitment to making generous funds available to State and nonState educational bodies, it will be possible to give encouragement to research by schools - individual schools, schools combined in regions, as well as schools that might be linked more intimately to a State system. But the whole idea is to have parental involvement, community involvement and decentralisation of educational decision making in Australia. So, it is far from the situation to say that the Australian schools commission will be looking to impose some bureaucratic uniformity on Australian education. The situation is just the opposite. Its purpose is to encourage research, to encourage teacher exchange - inter-system, interstate and the internationally - to conduct seminars and to make available the results of the kind of research that no State system has been able to do in the history of this country.
Let me turn now to the claim by the Government that it is aiming for equality of educational opportunity. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
We have sought to develop programmes which will promote greater equality in the availability of facilities for all schools and all students.
The Bill does provide for the first time for a needs basis in the allocation of money for facilities, buildings, equipment and the like, but it does not apply a needs basis for the recurrent funds. Where are most of the recurrent funds needed? They are needed for the payment of teachers and the support staff in schools. What the Government insists on - I am talking about the private system now - is that it will make the same per capita grants to all schools irrespective of their needs. I just cannot comprehend how any church or government could ever get the notion that that was equality. One can readily conjure up in one’s mind the vast difference between the poorest parish school and the best GPS school in the community. One can go into the supply of teachers, the quality of teachers, the buildings, the great grounds that surround some of our GPS schools and all the other facilities in these schools. On the other hand there is the little parish school in Surry Hills, Redfern, Newtown or some other suburban area, which is located on a little piece of land with no grass around the place, just broken asphalt, and with inadequate or no library facilities. In many cases there is not even lighting in the schools. This includes state schools as well as nonstate schools.
There is this vast difference in standards. Yet the Government comes before us and says that it wants to spend the taxpayers’ money, and it gives equal amounts per student to the most affluent schools as against the less affluent schools. How can the Government call that equality of educational opportunity or equality of treatment. But the position is much worse than that. The Government does not give equal amounts to the affluent schools compared to the less affluent schools. In fact, it gives much more to the children in the most affluent schools than it does to those in the less affluent schools, simply because not only are they given an equal per capita grant but also very generous taxation rebates are given to parents who are able to spend $400 a year on the education of their children. Supposing that a parent in receipt of a taxable income of $4,000 a year was able to spend $400 a year on the education of his or her child at one of these least affluent schools, he would receive $107.20 by way of taxation rebate. I repeat that: A person with a taxable income of $4,000, under the current taxation schedule, would receive a taxation rebate of $107.20; but a person with a taxable income of $9,000 who is able to spend $400 a year on the education of his or her child will receive a taxation rebate of not $107 but $171, which is 61 per cent more. If you happen to be one of the very affluent people who can send their children to the very best schools - a person with a taxable income of $20,000 a year - you receive back $241 out of $400 by way of taxation rebate.
So the position we finish up with is that the higher the income bracket of the parents the greater the percentage of help they receive in the education of their children. If we accept the Government’s figure that it costs about S560 per annum to educate a child in a government school, this is what will happen under this Bill. If a person with a taxable income of $4,000 spends $150 - which is the more likely amount that he will be able to spend - that is, $50 a term for the education of his child, he will receive a tax rebate of $40 and also have the benefit of the $224 which the Government is promising him under the per capita subsidy. What 1 am saying is that that person in receipt of a taxable income of $4,000 will receive $264 help from the Government to meet a total bill equivalent to $560 per annum. What I am really putting to the House is that the person in receipt of the low income that I have cited will get back 47 per cent of what it costs to educate a child in a government secondary school. But a person in receipt of an income of $20,000 will receive by way of taxation rebate and by the equal per capita grant provided under this Bill not $264 but $465. In other words, the person in receipt of $20,000 will receive 83 per cent of all the costs to educate a child in a government school if we accept the figure of S560.
– What will the rich man get if he sends his child to a state school?
– He will not receive all the subsidised privileges he receives at a GPS school - class loads, teacher quality and all the other things. I know that it is late at night to be dealing with figures in this debate. But it ought to be pretty obvious that the wealthier you are the more assistance you get from this Government to educate your child in a private school. I have tried to indicate that quite clearly in the figures that I have put before the House. Not only do the rich receive that kind of assistance to send their children through secondary school but also the vast majority of Commonwealth secondary school scholarships go disproportionately to children in the most affluent schools simply because they have greater facilities. They have the tudorships and all the rest of the aids available to them. They go on to collect Commonwealth secondary scholarships and then advance to get tertiary scholarships to which the honourable member for Fremantle alluded much earlier. They get a bonanza. This is the kind of thing that is happening; yet this Government is trying to tell us that this is in accordance with its educational aims of equality of opportunity. Even now of the 3 out of 4 students who will apply for 25,000 senior secondary scholarships which the Government is proposing, will miss out. And where do you imagine most of those who will miss out will come from? They will come from the downgraded schools, schools with inadequate facilities and with a high turnover of teachers. They will be children who have a lack of environmental stimulus in their home and a lack of community environment. They are the ones who most need scholarships. But you can bet your life that they will be high up in the proportion - 3 out of 4, even under the amended scholarship scheme - who will not get scholarships at all.
We believe that the establishment of an Australian schools commission will do a great deal not only in meeting the material requirements of government and nongovernment schools in an equitable way but also in having the continuing systematic and comprehensive survey of educational needs in Australia that we believe to be most essential. We have it at the tertiary level. We cannot for the life of us see why the Government resists having it at the preschool, primary, secondary and technical levels of education.
Motion (by Mr Barnes) proposed:
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Order! For the second time tonight when I have been putting a question I have been interrupted. I have not been able to put it because of the interference caused by people in this chamber interjecting. I think that due respect should be paid to the Chair and when the Chair has started to put a question there should not be any interruption. This is required by the Standing Orders. I remind honourable members of this custom and practice that has been a long-standing one in this House. The question is: That the debate be now adjourned and the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Research and Development Expenditure and Activities (Question No. 5495)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Business Enterprises Sector
A survey of industrial research and development expenditure by manufacturing and mining industries was developed jointly by the Department of Trade and Industry and my own Department. Results of that survey, which formed part of the Project SCORE exercise were published recently by the Department of Trade and Industry under the title ‘Survey of Industry Research and Development Expenditure in Australia. 1968-69’.
Information has now been received from 10 universities. It is understood that information from the remaining 5 universities may be available in a month or 2.
Private Non-Profit Organisations
The survey of this relatively minor sector was deferred to allow concentration of effort on the more significant sectors of the economy. However the survey is now in progress and it is hoped that the collection of information for this sector can be completed before the end of the year.
Publication of Results
Full value from the survey will not be gained until complete information is available for all of the foregoing sectors. However since the information for individual sectors is of considerable interest and value, this will be published as it becomes available. A final report, in which the data for all sectors will be compared, will be published when the survey has been finalised.
Senators: Commonwealth Electoral Act (Question No. 5914)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In implementing this decision of the Government it was decided that the import licensing control would apply to vehicles falling within item 87.02.13 of the Tariff in the belief that four-wheel drive vehicles would not be entered under other tariff classifications.
However, following the importation of some disposals four-wheel drive vehicles into Western Australia under Tariff Item 87.03, it became apparent that the Government’s announced intentions in this area were not being carried out by restricting import licensing to tariff item 87.02.13.
Action was therefore taken to correct this anomaly by amending the import licensing regulations on 2nd September 1971 so that used, secondhand or disposals four-wheel drive vehicles falling within Tariff Items 87.02, 87.03, and 87.04 became subject to import licensing.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
What requests or suggestions were made for legislative or administrative action by:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Drought and other Natural Disasters - Commonwealth, State and Territory action.
Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Eradication - Commonwealth and State action.
Imitation Meat - Commonwealth and State action
Dairy Industry-Two Price Quota SchemeCommonwealth and State action.
Margarine - Commonwealth and State action.
Poultry Industry - Egg Production Control - Commonwealth and State action.
Commonwealth and State action.
Tobacco Industry -
Official Grade and Minimum Price Schedule
Commonwealth and State action.
Commonwealth and State action
Grain Infestation Panel - Report - Commonwealth and State action.
Light Brown Apple Moth - Commonwealth and State action.
Exotic Disease Control Plans - Commonwealth, State and Territory action.
XVIIIth International Dairy Congress, Sydney, October 1970 - Unexpended Funds - Commonwealth action.
Liaison With Other Councils - Commonwealth action.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What is the latest figure of the enrolment in each electoral division.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The number of electors enrolled in each electoral division, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory as at 25th August 1972 is set out in the table below.
Electoral: Enrolment of Migrants (Question No. 6094)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
How many (a) naturalised persons and (b) citizens of other Commonwealth countries applied to be enrolled in each electoral division during the last period for which statistics are available.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth Electoral Act: Permissible Expenditure (Question No. 6114)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
When was a candidate last prosecuted for exceeding the expenditure permitted by the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Electoral Office records do not reveal any evidence of a prosecution against a candidate for exceeding the expenditure permitted by the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
Commonwealth Cars: Distance per Hour (Question No. 6124)
asked the Minister for
Supply, upon notice:
What is the average number of miles which his Department estimates that the vehicles in its taxi pool can travel per hour in each State capital (Hansard,5th May 1971, page 2630).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Department of Supply has not conducted any surveys to estimate the average number of miles that vehicles in its taxi pool can travel per hour in each State capital.
However records are available which show the chargeable miles travelled per chargeable hour by Commonwealth cars engaged in taxi pool operations except in Tasmania.
Available details for 1971/72 are as follows:
It should be noted that these figures include both country and city running but the bulk of the Commonwealth’s taxi pool mileage is within the city.
Australian Capital Territory: Sewage Effluent (Question No. 6152)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The A.C.T. authorities are aware that there is a need to improve the quality of effluent discharges and plans are well advanced for a very modern water control centre for Canberra to replace existing facilities. Allowing for detailed design, the tendering process and the construction period, this facility is expected to be operational about 1976-1977.
Northern Territory Police Force (Question No. 6161)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (l)-(5) Thirty-five Aborigines are employed as trackers. No other Aborigines are employed in the Northern Territory Police Force but a review is at present being made of possible ways to increase opportunities for Aborigines in the Force.
Community Reference Study (Question No. 6208)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
When will the results of the Community Preferences Study conducted by his Department in 1971 be released.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It is expected that details of responses to the questions included in the Community Preference Study will become available for release towards the end of September.
Canberra: Indoor Recreation Complex (Question No. 6209)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
How many people:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Canberra Crown Land Auctions (Question No. 6212)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In 1969, the expenses were again reviewed and an amount of $900 per day agreed upon.
The total sum paid in each of the last 10 years is as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Machines Australia Ltd wherein it is stated that high school students can use an IBM experimental computer system to examine career paths and the student can then instruct the system to print out details of selected careers, for later discussion with a guidance counsellor and parents.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What terms and conditions have applied to the (a) sale and (b) rental of Government houses in Canberra to members of Parliament during each of the last 5 years.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
During the last 5 years Government homes have been (a) sold at current market valuation on 5 per cent deposit with a first mortgage loan of the balance repayable over 45 years at an interest rate equivalent to that prescribed under the Australian Capital Territory Housing Ordinance 1928- 1969 (currently 6¼ per cent per annum) and (b) rented at a fortnightly rate fixed in accordance with an economic rental formula comprising components for the recovery of capital costs, repairs, maintenance, insurance, administration, rates and other outgoings. Any member of Parliament who was eligible to purchase or hold the tenancy of a
Government home did so on the same terms and conditions as were applied to other eligible persons.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In view of the increasing volume of work being undertaken by the Public Works Committee, will the Government take action to amend the Public Works Committee Act to provide for the appointment of a certain number of alternative members to serve on the Committee to fill the places of those members of the Committee who find they are unable to attend any meeting to which they are summoned.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows.
This is essentially a matter of policy and not one which I would wish to canvass by way of Parliamentary Question. However, I will have the right honourable member’s proposal examined.
Airmail Cartage Rates (Question No. 6368)
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– Neither the Commonwealth Science Facilities Programme nor the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries Programme operate in the Commonwealth’s Territories. The information supplied in answer to the honourable member’s question thus applies only to the 6 States.
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What sum was paid to Queensland from the National Welfare Fund for (a) hospital benefits and (b) payments to public hospitals for pensioners in each of the last 10 years.
Br Forbes - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Details of payments made to insured patients in Queensland for the past nine years are:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What steps have been taken to avoid interruptions or obstructions to Parliamentary broadcasts, such as occurred between 8 and 9 o’clock on the night of 22nd August 1972, and to detect and overcome them more efficiently, and promptly than on that occasion. (Hansard, 23rd August 1972, page 550).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
When a broadcast transmission is interrupted by a fault condition, it is standard Post Office practice to attempt immediate restoration. If this cannot be done by clearing the fault quickly, a substitute circuit can usually be used to restore service without delay.
The fault which affected the Parliamentary broadcast on 22nd August was reported to Departmental technical staff at 8.15 p.m. Although a substitute circuit was provided promptly, the distortion of the transmission continued. The trouble was subsequently found to be caused by a condition in common equipment serving a number of circuits at the City South exchange, Sydney. The delay on that occasion was due to the obscure nature of the fault and it is unlikely that such a condition will recur.
Pre-school Teachers (Question No. 6243)
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice: <1) What were the names and portfolios of the Ministers who attended the meeting of the Ministerial Council on Port Development and Marine Affairs in Adelaide on 15 th September 1972.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The matters which may involve legislative or administrative action, and on which public statements were made following the meeting on 15th September, 1972 are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 September 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720926_reps_27_hor80/>.