27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth: That the undersigned believe . . .
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that . . .
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least $240 million.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries. by Mr Foster, Mr Grassby, Dr Gun, Mr Hamer, Mr Jarman, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Reid and Mr Wallis.
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 Commonwealth.
We respectfully request that this contract be revoked in the National interest, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Malcolm Fraser, Mr Les Johnson and Mr Turner.
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 Having 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 foi 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 24-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 Dr Klugman.
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 records storage 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 house 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 purposes, 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 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 opportunity and capacity to play a more significant role in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that . . .
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least $240m and that the increase be made chiefly through international agencies.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide preferences for, or remove discrimination against, imports from less developed countries.
Australia’s own employment level be safeguarded by the provision of improved re-training schemes for labour likely to be affected by reductions in tariff barriers against imports from less developed countries.
Gifts of $2 or more made by Australian citizens and companies to organisations associated with the Australian Council for Overseas Aid be made tax-deductible. by Mr Jarman.
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 thousandsof our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the$5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals.
Ten per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public enquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To 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 House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will lake immediate steps to
Ensure that emergency finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for seventy-eight per cent of Australia’s children.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
Education: Pre-school and After-school Centres
To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Pre-school and after-school education facilities are in urgent need within the Australian Commu nity. The shortage has become more acute as more mothers join the work force.
In advanced countries pre-school and afterschool education are recognised as essential aspects of education for all children.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to provide the necessary finance to enable State education departments and local government authorities to establish:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Klugman.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the State of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
Classroom and hall lighting needed. Replacement of old-type desks. Modern audio/ visual aids to be supplied free. Updating of buildings. Greater library subsidy needed.
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your honourable House will (i) . make immediately a substantial federal emergency grant to all State governments for public education services and (ii) carry out a public national survey to determine needs of the States after 1975.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Reynolds.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe:
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist.
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial’ and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that:
Australia’s official development assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least $240m.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries.
That gifts to recognised organisations assisting people in other countries be allowed as tax deductions. by Mr Street.
– I wish to ask a question of the Prime Minister. Last Thursday the right honourable gentleman amplified an earlier statement by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts on the subject of impact statements which the Government will require from Commonwealth departments and expect from State governments when questions of the environment and pollution are involved. I ask: Has the Government decided that these impact statements should be public documents, as is the case in the United States of America, so that interested people and organisations will have an opportunity to examine them before the legislation or appropriation is passed by the Parliament?
– I personally have not given consideration to the question whether the impact statements should be made public. Offhand, I believe that they should be. But I have said, and this might be the proper substitute, that attached to every Cabinet document must be a statement relating to the impact of matters concerning pollution and conservation. I took it that impact statements would be issued immediately decisions are announced. I will make certain, if there is any misunderstanding about the matter, that they are in fact issued.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Minister for Health. Has the Acting Minister noted criticism, arising out of the tabling of the annual report of the
Director-General of Health, of the increasing cost of the national health scheme? Do the facts justify that criticism?
– I have seen a rather petulant statement by the honourable member for Oxley about this matter. In fact, the honourable gentleman has really been having a field day lately blaming doctors for everything. Recently in this context he accused the whole medical profession of Australia of being greedy, of holding an indecent desire to milch the taxpayers and of seeking to play the role of God amongst mortals. All I can say is: What arrogance in relation to a great and responsible profession and what a way, on the part of a person who aspires to be a Minister for Health, to approach a profession without whose co-operation no health scheme can operate! Whatever the honourable member for Oxley may say, the Government makes no apology for the increase in expenditure mentioned in the Director-General’s report because it represents a deliberate decision by the Government to transfer more of the burden of the costs of health care from the patient to the Commonwealth. That is what has happened in the hospital field in relation to the decision to introduce an all inclusive hospital charge. That is what has happened in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme as a result of the Government’s decision to add new and costly drugs to the list and ease the restrictions on older ones. Above all, that is what has happened in relation to the medical scheme where, as a result of the Government’s decisions, the proportion of the cost borne by the patient has been reduced from 35 per cent in 1968-69 to 19 per cent in 1971-72. As I have said, the Government makes no apology whatever for this.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to weekend Press reports that the Kangaroo Point shipyard of Evans Deakin Industries Ltd faces a crisis which could result in the closure of the yard and the resultant unemployment of up to 1,500 skilled shipyard workers? Will the Government give an assurance that an immediate decision will be announced to guarantee Evans Deakin a
Evans Deakin has no plans to put off 1,500 suitable order to provide continuity of employment and remove the threat of dismissal of these men?
– I did see the Press report mentioned by the honourable member. It is contrary in context to a report in the Brisbane ‘Sunday Mail’ which more accurately reported the statement by Mr Hoare, the Chairman of Evans Deakin. I think the report to which the honourable member refers was in the ‘Australian’. It is false, men at this time.
– I said *up to 1,500’.
– It has no plans to put off up to 1,500 men. From discussions I have had with Evans Deakin I can say that there are no plans for the dismissal of such a large number of men. I have had discussions with Evans Deakin about its problems. Tenders have been called for the construction of a number of ships. Evans Deakin has submitted tenders and it believes it has every chance of obtaining contracts to build ships in its own yard.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister on the matter of Everard Park in South Australia. Can the right honourable gentleman inform me of the present position of negotiations on Everard Park relative to the Government’s policy of purchasing land for Aboriginal groups and communities?
– I stated in the House within the last 2 or 3 weeks that Government officials were negotiating with the owners of the leasehold and the intended buyer, Mr McLachlan, so that the Commonwealth would be able to purchase the property. I am pleased to be able to announce that the negotiations have been brought to a very satisfactory conclusion and that the amount being paid for Everard Park is about the amount which the Government contemplated and would have agreed to pay when it first heard that Mr McLachlan had an option to purchase. I think it is appropriate that at this time also I should thank those people who have been so helpful to us - Mr Joseland, Mr Walker and others- - for the great assistance they have given, and also Mr McLachlan for the assistance he has given, so that v/e can purchase this property for the Aboriginal people.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and it arises out of the question by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition yesterday concerning an election date. Will the Prime Minister tell us why he refuses to announce the election date? If it is correct that 2 people other than himself know the date, will he tell the House the names of those people so that honourable members can seek them out and ask them? Finally, in view of the decision of the Government on this subject, is it not childish, immature and at least irresponsible for a Government at the end of September in an election year to refuse to disclose the date of the election?
– As to the middle part of the honourable genelman’s question, if he would care to have the David Frost interview re-run so that he can hear exactly what I had said, and if he would like to see the other television interviews in which I made similar statements, I would be only too happy to ensure that they are brought to Canberra where he would be able to have a first class look at them. As to the first part of the question, the answer is no.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. The Minister will be aware that the United Bearing Corporation Pty Ltd, which has a ball bearing factory at Echuca, is the only complete manufacturer of ball bearings in Australia and that this factory was established by the Government during the war and sold by the Government to the company presently operating it 12 years ago. Will he state what steps are being taken by his Department to process the company’s request for emergency tariff protection from imported bearings? Will he give his sympathetic and urgent consideration to the request in view of the company’s outstanding record of efficient production and the importance of this industry to the nation and to the city of Echuca?
– An application has been received from United Bearing Corporation Pty Ltd for temporary protection pending a full examination by the Tariff Board. This application for Special Advisory Authority assistance is being examined by the Department and as soon as I have received a report from the Department I will be able to make a further statement.
– In directing my question to the Minister for the Army I refer him to the high rejection rate of volunteers for service in the Army. Are the same exacting standards applied to the admission of national servicemen? If so, how is it possible for young men with previous records of mental instability to be admitted to the Army as national servicemen? Has the Minister investigated allegations made about recent incidents at Puckapunyal and Kapooka military camps? The Minister will remember that one of his departmental officials or Army public relations officers reported that there had been 5 incidents of attempted suicide. If the reports are correct, what action has the Minister taken?
– I would say first that it is a pretty fair question. In answer to the first part, which related to the high rejection rate of volunteers, I remind him that a few weeks ago in a question he made a point of that very situation. Perhaps the reason for the high rate of rejection is now becoming clear to the honourable gentleman and probably he can now see why these high standards are necessary. I discussed this matter with some of my medical friends over the weekend. It is rather difficult to detect those people who might be on the verge of a psychiatric reaction. The condition of a person who is mentally unstable may not be apparent until he is subjected to pressures such as are encountered in an institution like the Army.
Turning now to the more important part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I am having investigated not only the allegations regarding Puckapunyal and Kapooka but also the complete situation regarding attempted suicides and suicides in the military forces. I have further asked that in the report to be furnished comments be made on the reaction of the men to some elements of our training programme which might cause unfortunate pressures to be exerted on these young men. I am not suggesting that there are those pressures but it is a possibility. I have asked for a comprehensive report and I hope that it will be forthcoming shortly to enable me to make it available to the nation.
I made is perfectly clear when I took over this portfolio that apart from matters affecting national security I wanted to reveal to the Australian public how our Army works, the pressures involved and how our soldiers react to various circumstances. In this respect the Press has helped me very considerably and we have brought the Army much closer to the people of Australia. This is the situation. I hope that when the Prime Minister reveals the date of the election I can step up the tempo of this investigation to produce all the relevant facts prior to the rising of this Parliament if at all possible.
– Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the people’s hard won savings, whether in life assurance offices or otherwise, will not bc forced directly or indirectly into national development projects chosen by governments, so enabling them to play political ducks and drakes with the people’s money? In this connection, will the Prime Minister bear in mind the ill-fated Ord River scheme, originally fathered by a Labor Minister for National Development, Mr Nelson Lemmon, and finally welcomed on all sides of the Parliament without the careful cost/ benefit and other studies which would be required by a prudent investor?
– I do remember some of the ill-fated projects that were started by the Australian Labor Party. I want to emphasise the difference between the policy of the Liberal-Country Party coalition relating to the savings of people who hold policies in life assurance corporations, and that of the Australian Labor Party. Firstly, we believe that people who have saved money and to whom the money belongs, have voluntarily invested it in life assurance companies and have trusted the boards of those companies to invest those funds satisfactorily in their interests. We will continue to ensure that that policy is followed. Secondly, 1 point out that it has been made clear by the Leader of the Opposition that the Labor Party, if in office, intends to use those funds for Labor Party policy purposes. I do not believe that this is necessary, and it is a policy that we on this side of the House totally repudiate. I believe that it is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution for a government to mobilise these funds and, in fact, take control of them. The Constitution requires that a fair price be paid if somebody’s assets are taken over. I can assure the honourable gentleman that I will have a look at the Life Insurance Act in order to make certain of the powers of a government in this respect. Whilst I do not for one moment think that we will have the opportunity to amend the Act prior to the date on which the Parliament will rise, I will nonetheless consider what statement can be made to make clear the complete difference which exists between the predatory intention of the Labor Party and our intention to keep a voluntary system whereby the assets of the people will be properly administered by those corporations to which they have entrusted their funds.
– I ask the Prime Minister a supplementary question to that asked by the honourable member for Bradfield. On his recent and, I believe, first visit to the Ord River he will have learned that up to 40 per cent of the water impounded by the dam authorised in 1967 cannot be used in Western Australia but can be used, if at all, only in the Northern Territory. I ask the Prime Minisiter what use, if any, is to be made of this 40 per cent of water about to be impounded by this dam? Is there any prospect of introducing the Bill on insurance which his predecessor said 2 years ago was a matter of the utmost priority?
– As to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question, it may well be - I cannot confirm it - that the information relating to 40 per cent of water is accurate. The Tonkin Government in Western Australia has already put certain proposals to me or to my colleague, the Minister for National Development, relating to other uses of the water from the Ord scheme. I will obtain details of them for the honourable gentleman and let him have them. As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question relating to the series of assurance and insurance Bills that have been considered by the Government, I doubt very much whether we will be able to pass them into law by the time the House rises. But at least we will have done this: On each occasion the papers will be on the table of the House for mature consideration. If any person feels that he can make some sensible contribution towards a better provision it will be considered by the Government in a very sensitive and proper way.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral seen this morning’s Press reports flowing from the tabling of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s annual report yesterday? Do these comments relate to the recent public discussions on the supervision of the ABC’s programmes?
– I think it is correct to say that there are some writers for newspapers who rush into print with ill conceived or ill informed judgments in relation to some printed matter. One of the newspapers indicated that the question first asked of me which, I suppose, triggered off the recent discussion, was on 16th August. The Australian Broadcasting Commission’s report was dated 10th August.
– Why did you wait so long before tabling it?
– I received it yesterday morning and I tabled it yesterday. It is not a question of when it is dated by the Commission; it is a question of when it is received by the Minister and how soon thereafter he puts it in the House. I do not think I could have been more expeditious in relation to this matter. But in regard to the comments in the ABC’s report I would like to mention to the House that there has been discussion, almost to the degree of confrontation, between the Senate Estimates Committee and the Australian Broadcasting Commission in relation to the disclosure of certain information concerning programming and other things in the ABC area. It was a reference to these matters which was contained in the ABC’s report. I do not believe that the report made any reference to recent discussions, for the reasons I have indicated.
– I desire to direct a question to the Prime Minister. I preface my question by saying that the Prime Minister will be aware of 2 previous questions directed to him regarding the Everard Park situation. Hansard is full of matters which the Prime Minister is looking at and considering and to which he may give a reply. I ask my question because of the reply the Prime Minister gave me on 17th August. Will he table all the relevant documents on the Everard Park transaction? Will he have the matter made the subject of a full report to this House so that a debate may ensue, in conformity with the reply he gave me on 17th August this year?
– I made it clear that the negotiations with regard to Everard Park were deliberately put into the hands of officials of government departments and were left there. I see no reason in the world why these papers should be tabled. If the honourable member has any suspicions, he is under an obligation and a duty to me to let me know what they are. If he feels there are suspicions, I will do my best to try to remove them from his brain.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry: Has Australia opened many new overseas meat markets? Did our exports as at 30th June constitute an export record? Can the Minister inform the House of the present performance and of our potential in relation to meat exports?
– Australia has been doing remarkably well in exports of meat over the past 12 months. Indeed, some people were anxious lest the increase of stock in Australia might be such that we would be unable to export all that we produced. The facts are that we are doing extremely well on the American market and until now have exported to that market 273,000 tons. Our quota before restraints were lifted in June was 268,000 tons, so we have already exceeded that figure and still have a couple of months to go. Our exports of beef and veal to Japan have also been very satisfactory. For the year completed in June our exports to Japan were up by SO per cent on the previous year. Our exports of mutton to that market also are up by something like 70 per cent. The European market is showing keen interest. Meat prices in Europe are very high and we have sold one-third more meat to the United Kingdom over the last 12 months than we did in the previous year. Other markets for mutton are developing, especially in the Middle East and in some of the South American countries, and we are also establishing a trade in beef and veal with Chile. All told the market prospects look exceedingly encouraging for Australian exporters. This is mainly because we can meet many of the quarantine requirements of other countries and, fortunately, the industry has endeavoured to maintain the hygiene standards required of their works. There has been a continuing programme implemented by successive Ministers for Primary Industry to encourage Australian processors to lift the standards of their works to meet the increasingly high world standards. We seem to be able to meet most of these standards and it is for this reason that our performance is so satisfactory.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Now that the Government, on the admission of the Minister in his reply to a question a few moments ago, has accepted the basic philosophy of the Australian Labor Party on health services, namely, that the cost burden must be shifted from the individual to the Government - I think the Minister mentioned that it had been shifted from 35 per cent to 19 per cent - does the Minister concede that the best way to collect these funds from the community is through a national health insurance fund, rather than through a multitude of inefficient and expensive so-called voluntary funds, which are compulsory anyway since failure to belong to a fund deprives one, if ill, of the Commonwealth benefit from one’s compulsory tax payments?
– If the honourable gentleman drew from my answer to the question asked by the honourable member for Ryan the conclusion that the Government accepts the Australian Labor Party’s philosophy on health, he is sadly mistaken, as I suspect he knows. The Government strongly believes, as do most of the people connected with the provisions of health care in Australia-
– What about the patients?
– And the patients too; that the sort of socialistic approach which the Labor Party proposes on health and which is inherent in its scheme would be absolutely disastrous and would lead in particular to a shortage of the provision cf health services in Australia and, above all and most importantly, would lead to a substantial decline in the quality of health services provided, in the freedom of choice-
– You do not even have any quality checks.
-Order! I have asked the honourable member for Scullin to cease interjecting and I suggest that he now complies with my request.
– He is a doctor.
– That does not give the honourable member for Scullin or anybody else in this House the right to continue interjecting.
– The honourable member for Scullin is not, I am glad to say, typical of members of his profession. The specific question asked by the honourable gentleman was whether I agreed that a logical consequence is the adoption of the ALP proposal to provide in Australia one nationalised health fund which the Leader of the Opposition described as ‘nationalisation’ by the Labor Party in the traditional sense of the word. The Leader of the Opposition then went on to indicate the other forms of nationalisation which he would introduce in relation to health in a nontraditional sense. No, Sir, the Government does not believe that that would be to the advantage of patients, of the professions involved in health care, or of anything else related to health. I remind the honourable gentleman that this was a matter which fell within the terms of reference of the Nimmo Committee, and the Nimmo Committee reported on it specifically. I cannot recall the actual expression used in the report but, in effect, the Nimmo Committee found that there was no justification whatsover for the charge that a multiplicity of health funds was inefficient or more costly.
– The Minister had better read the report again.
– I will get hold of the report and read it out to the House, but what I have said is an accurate paraphrase of what is contained in the Nimmo Committee report. Indeed, this must be so. A large number of the health funds in Australia are provided by private firms or mutual benefit associations and the cost of providing the services of the funds is subsidised by employers and others in order to fulfil a community service. Because we have a number of funds we are able to provide a choice, and if somebody is treated badly by one fund he can go to another. But what the Labor Party proposes to do is to establish one great bureaucratic nationalised organisation to which somebody has to belong compulsorily and he has no choice whatsoever. If he does not like the treatment he encounters in the fund he has no alternative. He has nowhere else to go. We completely reject that approach.
– I rise to a point of order. In the course of his reply the Minister for Health cast a reflection on my standing and my performance as a medical practitioner. I found that remark personally offensive and I ask the Minister to withdraw it.
– If the honourable gentleman interpreted my remark in the way in which he said, I apologise, but I did not mean it in that way. What I said was that the views expressed by the honourable gentleman about health policies are not typical of the medical profession in Australia, and I stick to that.
– You did not say that.
– That is what I meant
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science a question. In view of his public invitation on Friday last to the Leader of the Opposition can the Minister advise whether there has been any response from the honourable gentleman to the Minister’s invitation to debate the national issues of education at a public meeting to be held in my electorate of Cook on 13th October?
– I have had no response so far from the Leader of the Opposition. I can say only that I regret that the earlier opportunity to debate national issues with him fell by the board when it was made quite plain that the debate to be held in the electorate of Werriwa was to be restricted to education issues affecting Werriwa alone. On that basis, of course, it would not meet the requirements of discussing national policies in a national forum. I can understand the honourable gentleman’s unwillingness to participate in a debate on the broad national issues of education at this particular time because I understand the members of his own Executive have been asked to stand up and be counted on some of these issues. I only want him to stand up and debate them.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the honourable gentleman received a report from the Bureau of Transport Economics on the comparative qualities of timber and concrete sleepers? If so, when does he expect to announce his decision on future sleeper purchases by the Commonwealth Railways? If not, when does he expect that the report will reach him and will he assure the House that a decision will be announced before the House rises for the elections?
– I have received a number of representations from a wide variety of people on the question of the use of timber or concrete sleepers by the Commonwealth Railways. As the honourable gentleman suggests, this matter was referred to the Bureau of Transport Economics for report to me. The Bureau has reported to me. I expect to be taking a paper to the Government on this matter shortly and a decision will be announced after that time.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Can the Minister inform the House on the progress of consultations between the Commonwealth and States concerning petroleum, including natural gas?
– 1 understand the honourable member’s interest in this matter because it is a very important industry, in fact a major industry as far as his State is concerned. Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister a question relating to this matter but on a specialised aspect concerning an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States on the subject of the exploration and exploitation of off-shore petroleum resources. He referred also to an annexure to that agreement which left it open for continuing consultations between the Commonwealth and the States. The Prime Minister discussed this matter with me and I am pleased to inform the Leader of the Opposition that there are continuing consultations in these fields. The agreement was signed and mirror legislation passed in 1967. At that time there was set up a select committee of the Senate to deal with certain matters concerning off-shore petroleum.
In 1968 the Australian Minerals Council was established and that is the main forum in which discussions are undertaken in relation to all petroleum matters, including natural gas. Over the last year or so the matters have been discussed at regular intervals by Ministers in the Council and by the Standing Committee. The Council at the moment comprises 2 Premiers who are Ministers for Mines and all the representative Ministers from all States and the Commonwealth. So there are continuing consultations between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to the matter raised yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition. In addition, in view of certain matters that have arisen recently in relation to the very rapidly developing natural gas industry in Australia, I did take the opportunity, because there will not be another meeting of the Minerals Council for some months, of personally discussing the question of natural gas and policies relating to it with all the State Ministers concerned. This occurred during the last month or so. In addition, there are matters under discussion by a special group set by the Standing Committee of the Australian Minerals Council. I am pleased to inform the House that there is not only continuing consultation but expanding consultation between the Commonwealth and the States in this field.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the devastating effect of high shipping freights on Tasmania’s economy, with firms forced out of business and others discouraged from crossing to the island, will the Government as a matter of extreme urgency repeal section 18 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act thereby releasing the Australian National Line from the necessity to make a profit? Then, will the Government peg sea freights and meet any losses by subsidy? Is the Minister aware that the ANL moves 85 per cent of Tasmania’s inward and outward trade and therefore has our economy by the throat and that without sea freight relief the island is heading for economic stagnation, in spite of the excellent work of the Reece Government?
– In the first place I am pleased that the honourable member recognises the great job that the Australian National Line does in servicing the freight needs of Tasmania. One of the parameters which govern the operations of the Australian National Line and its capacity to operate successfully and efficiently is the way in which the unions permit it to operate. Regrettably, over the years a number of difficulties created by the trade union movement have inhibited the ANL in operating its service satisfactorily and to the best advantage of Tasmania. I am always hopeful, indeed optimistic - my optimism is often knocked on the head - that the unions will be encouraged by the Australian Labor Party to behave a little better and in this way enable a better service to be provided to Tasmania. I expect to table the annual report of the Australian National Line in the Parliament before it rises. The honourable member then can judge for himself the validity of his own remarks about the profit-making of the Australian National Line.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr Speaker. In referring this question to you I am confident that you will not regard it as being below your dignity. Included in the groups of school children which visited Parliament House last week were scholars from the high school at Merbein, Victoria. After being in this House, the Senate chamber and Kings Hall a boy from this school, evidently impressed, asked my private secretary, Mrs Major: ‘Is this building insured?’ Will you, Mr Speaker, please give some information on this subject?
-It is very gratifying to know that some people of that tender age are interested in the welfare of this House. I should inform the honourable member for Mallee that the insurance of Parliament House is in accordance with the normal Government policy. I think that it would come within the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s Department. We are not the owners of this House; we are only the occupants.
– My question is to the Postmaster-General. I ask: Is telephone cable in such short supply as to be causing indefinite delays in the installation of telephones in country areas? Are automatic exchange installations also being held up due to a shortage of equipment? Is more modern equipment being installed to replace multi-coin boxes in the cities and are the obsolete boxes being transferred for country use? If this is correct, why has the Department allowed its supply of cable and other equipment to reach such a low level when it was obvious that the demand would increase? Why does the Department give the city preference over country users in relation to modern equipment?
– The Post Office, and particularly the telecommunications section, for many years has been regarded by the Government as a business undertaking. Therefore, it is required to use business judgment. Within the telecommunications area there are profitable sections, borderline sections and loss sections. The Post Office therefore has determined a priority plan which has regard to each of these particular sections so that overall it can be a profitable operation. I assure the honourable member that, if all attention were given to the country areas, the loss factor would develop very rapidly and perhaps charges would increase. It is only because of the adoption of the priority basis of giving consideration to all sections of the community in relation to telephones that we have been able to avoid more frequent increases in telephone charges.
Cable ordering is done approximately 12 to 18 months in advance of the requirement because of the problems associated with manufacture. A similar situation generally applies in regard to exchange equipment, particularly equipment for new exchanges, many of which go into country areas. I think Western Australia probably has been better served in this connection than any other State over the last 5 or 7 years. But it is a question of ordering in terms of the supply of money. We do not see any great virtue in holding tremendous stocks. If the honourable member were to examine the accounts of the Post Office he would find that its stockholding represents many millions of dollars. We endeavour to work on the basis of forward ordering having regard to the likely availability of funds and of manpower to undertake tasks from time to time.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During question time members of the Opposition made it quite clear that they believed that a statement I made about what the Nimmo Committee had to say concerning health insurance funds was a mis-statement; in other words, that I was telling a lie. I now have a copy of the Nimmo Committee’s report. The appropriate paragraph reads as follows:
The Committee found no support at all for the often expressed view that the number of different organisations adds to the cost of the scheme. We examined the operations of a large number of friendly societies and closed funds and found that their service to contributors was extremely good and that they had been the most successful orga nisations in keeping management expenses within proper limits. They should be encouraged to continue.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) misrepresented me. I do not regard it is being a serious misrepresentation; nevertheless, I wish to make a personal explanation. Last Wednesday the honourable gentleman challenged me to take part in a debate in my own electorate. An invitation had come from the teachers in my electorate to all the candidates who announced that they would be standing in it at the forthcoming general election. I had accepted the invitation more than a month before the Minister for Education and Science made his challenge. As I understand the position, the Liberal Party’s candidate for the electorate sent out a cry of ‘help’ to his State headquarters and said: T have never spoken on the subject. Please send somebody to speak for me’. The Minister for Education and Science was found to be willing.
He made a statement on the subject on Friday, which he was courteous enough to send to my office yesterday. I believe that is my loss and the general public’s loss that his statement of last Friday received no publicity. He said that the committee of the Fairfield-Liverpool branch of the New South Wales Teachers Federation had decided to restrict the debate, listed for 5th October, to education in the electorate of Werriwa alone. That is not what the committee had decided. It had decided to invite the candidates for the electorate and had made bookings and prepared publicity on that basis. The agenda had been sent to me before the Minister issued his challenge. It appears that the Liberal candidate had at the time not yet accepted the invitation.
I come to the Minister’s renewed challenge that I should appear to debate the national issues of education in the electorate of Cook on 13th October. The fact that he has raised it in the House saves me the trouble of writing him a letter to say that I am already committed for that date. It is not surprising, one would think, that political party leaders are committed so far ahead in election years. The function to which I was invited and to which 1 accepted an invitation has been publicised, and it would not be possible for me to withdraw from my commitment. I can, however, reassure the honourable member for Cook that it is altogether likely that I shall be appearing in his electorate once-
-Order! I think the Chair has been fairly lenient. The. Leader of the Opposition is referring to a very short answer that the Minister gave and I think he should confine himself to saying where he has been misrepresented.
– May I conclude by saying that 3 of my children - all those then of school age - did in fact spend many years in schools in the electorate of Cook.
Consideration resumed from 21st September (vide page 1849).
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed expenditure, $38,877,000.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $57,510,000.
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, $45,137,000.
– 1 desire to refer to 3 matters under the combined estimates before the Committee - wine excise, drought relief and the wheat situation. Wine racketeers in Australia are harming the industry and fleecing the customers. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) have a joint responsibility to see to it that Government decisions and intentions are in fact implemented. 1 refer to the fact that the Government imposed a disastrous excise on wine which proved to yield little to Government revenue but which dealt a severe blow to the prosperity of one primary industry which had not been in trouble. Pressure from the industry and pressure from the Opposition resulted in the Government retreating before the storm of justifiable protest, and it reduced the excise from 50c a gallon to 25c a gallon. I want to report to the Committee what has hap pened and I intend to quote from a letter sent out to his customers by a so-called Sydney cellarmaster. This illustrates the problem. This is what he wrote:
Following the recent decision of the Government to reduce the duty on wines we have reduced the price of all our wines accordingly and enclose a new price list.
Great cheers. We can lift a glass to that. The next paragraph reads:
Unfortunately due to cost increases over the last 2 years, we have been forced to revise our prices.
He goes on:
As from 1st July all prices will revert to their previous level.
Surely this calls for an inquiry into whether it is proper for private individuals to pocket an excise. The Ministers for Customs and Excise and Primary Industry should immediately carry out an investigation to establish the facts of the situation. An investigation will show that some wine racketeers, in Sydney and Melbourne particularly, put 300 per cent on a bottle. One of the nation’s leading wine makers told me the other day that he ordered in Sydney a bottle of his own product which should retail for $1.30 and found himself billed for $3. He was not in a place where the wine price was supposed to pay for the song and dance. In fact, there were not even soft lights and sweet music, only a bill. This kind of action harms the wine, industry as a whole. I ask for an inquiry to be made under the auspices of the 2 Ministers concerned to expose the racketeering. I make a further request that the remains of this regressive and damaging excise be scrapped in the interests of the industry and the consumers. The prediction of the Government’s own advisers and the. Bureau of Agricultural Economics as to the harmful effects of the tax has been demonstrated. The tax should be removed.
I want to draw attention also to the. serious threat posed by the spreading drought in our country and the tardiness and inadequacy of the Commonwealth Government response. In New South Wales limited drought concessions have been implemented. They have been desperately needed but the concessions are not enough to stop the hardships and losses which face us in so many areas, not only in New South Wales but also across the nation. Mr Crawford, the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, has exposed the Commonwealth Government’s turning its back on drought areas and refusing to grant reasonable State requests for aid. I think the Commonwealth Government should accept the responsibility of meeting the cost of essential drought relief measures as it has done in the past. I suggest that the Commonwealth Government is treating the drought areas of Australia like distant territories calling for tea and sympathy. It has given no real help. The indictment of the Commonwealth in this matter is made by the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture. In a letter addressed to me on 11th September 1972 he referred to the unsatisfactory Commonwealth aid arrangement to assist New South Wales in providing drought and other natural disaster relief. He wrote:
It is correct that since 1970-71 the Commonwealth has determined that expenditure for this State on natural disaster relief, on a fiscal year basis would be $5m. This means that after this State expends this amount the Commonwealth carries all further eligible expenditure.
However, because of this State’s serious deficit budget situation in the last 2 financial years, New South Wales Treasury Officials have pointed out as far back as the Third Meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture’s Consultative Committee on Drought in March 1971, that this figure is far beyond the financial resources of this State.
The Premier wrote to the Prime Minister in these terms on 8th July 1971, but the reply indicated that the Commonwealth was not prepared to vary from this $Sm trigger figure approach.
Following further consideration of this matter by the Consultative Committee on Drought, Standing Committee on Agriculture and the Australian Agricultural Council, as a compromise a further letter was written to the Commonwealth on 9th November 1971, proposing a 3-tier financial arrangement for natural disaster aid. Under this proposal, in any particular financial year, this State would accept responsibility for meeting the initial expenditure of Sim, the next $8m being shared equally by the Commonwealth and State, with all further expenditure being met by the Commonwealth.
In view of the serious drought situation that developed in New South Wales during the autumnwinter of this year, and the fact that the Commonwealth had not indicated their acceptance or otherwise of this 3-tier proposal, the Prime Minister was again written to on 5th July 1972.
In his reply of 7th August 1972, the Prime Minister indicated that the Commonwealth was not prepared to vary from its policy in regard to natural disaster aid for this State, that is, the $5m trigger point.
Because of the seriousness of the drought situation in this State and notwithstanding our budgetary difficulties, during the month of August, Cabinet approved of the introduction of the following drought relief measures: SO per cent rail and road freight concessions on the drought movement of fodder and livestock within the State, SO per cent road freight concessions on these same movements beyond the State borders on interstate movements; SO per cent rail freight concessions on the South Australian Broken Hill-Peterborough line; and the drought loans scheme, including loans for the purchase of fodder, ‘carry-on’ and restocking.
It will be noted that nothing has been done in the field of unemployment drought relief, as was the case in the 1965-68 and 1970 droughts. The reason for this is that unemployment was always considered to be a Commonwealth matter with this State purely administrating such schemes when the Commonwealth provided the finance, as in the case with the current non-Metropolitan Unemployment Relief scheme.
On present indications, expenditure on the drought relief measures implemented is expected to be at least $3m and could well exceed 55m, and as the matter now stands, the Commonwealth Government would not provide any assistance until the cost of such measures exceeded the latter figure. Further, this State is faced with the very serious situation of having to find up to $5m for this purpose. Therefore, the Premier again wrote to the Prime Minister on 21st August 1972, asking that the Commonwealth accept the responsibility of meeting the cost of the ‘essential’ relief measures implemented to alleviate the current drought in this State, as it has done on occasions in the past. As a second alternative, the Commonwealth has again been requested to at least support the 3-tier proposal.
That indictment is not by members of the Opposition but by the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture. It is obvious that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) is playing Scrooge. As he jets between Canberra and Sydney he must divert his eyes from the scars of drought below. I ask him to look from his Olympian height and agree to the reasonable request made by the New South Wales Government and reply to the correspondence which has been addressed to him.
As part of the drought relief programme it is obvious that we should be looking at ways to make wheat available at more reasonable prices than at present. I want to say to the Australian Wheat Board that its gesture in holding wheat stocks in drought areas of the countryside to be drawn upon by local producers is much appreciated. But we are still pretending by the continuance of quotas that we have over production of wheat. It was mentioned by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and has not been challenged by the
Government that Australia faces a 50-mil- lion bushel deficit to meet our needs at home and also to service our markets abroad. Against this situation we still have the fiction of quotas being maintained. It is obvious that if we are going to avoid giving a major fillip to the black market, which took nearly a third of all the internal wheat sales in Australia last season, we should suspend quotas for this year as a matter of urgency and announce it. We should make sure that all wheat produced across the countryside is delivered into the Board system. There should be a programme of active encouragement for everyone to do that, otherwise we will see the institutionalisation and the spread of the black market, which in the long run will do nothing but harm to the growers and the industry. It is time for urgent action to be taken on the matter which I have raised today, particularly by the Prime Minister who has a responsibility as head of the Government to reply to the head of the Government in New South Wales, to the plea which has been made and has not yet been answered.
– I wish to refer to cheese production, cheese imports, cheese exports and cheese statistics. These subjects fall to a certain extent within the administration of the 3 departments under review and also the Bureau of Census and Statistics, which is under the control of the Treasury. Cheese is the great hope of the manufacturing section of the dairy industry in Australia, both on the home market and the export market. It is one of the few food products the consumption of which per capita increases with the standard of living. The per capita consumption of most food products drops as the standard of living increases. In Australia the consumption per capita of cheese has been rising steadily, although I noticed in the interim report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board released last week that a slight drop has occurred this year. However, I believe this rise will continue in line with what has occurred overseas.
There are tremendous opportunities for cheese export, particularly to the Japanese market where consumption is increasing rapidly and new varieties are required. The Japanese people have a distinct liking for gouda and the cheese industry is gearing itself and changing its manufacturing methods to supply this market. On the home market the demand for types of cheese other than cheddar is increasing. This trend on the home market has been hastened by the Tariff Board report on the dumping of non-cheddar cheese. The report, released a few months ago, recommended that the temporary dumping duties on the importation of noncheddar varieties of cheese from overseas should be continued. This provides both a challenge and an opportunity for the cheese industry on the home market. The opportunity is to fill the gap that will be left as imported cheese will continue to a certain extent to price itself out of the market because of the duty that has been imposed. The challenge is for the industry to ensure that it does this properly and that it provides the varieties that are required by the home market with the quality that is required.
The production of cheese also is a great asset because of the utilisation of milk. Most varieties of cheese contain butterfat, that is, the whole milk is used for cheese production. It is apparent that the world will always require and always be short of milk protein products such as skim milk powders, caseins and so forth. But unfortunately, before we can get to the milk proteins, it is necessary to remove the butterfat and butterfat is the problem commodity in the dairying industry on the world market. Cheese provides an alternative utilisation of whole milk and I hope that, as the international and local markets for cheese develops, it will overcome this problem.
In meeting this demand for cheese for both the home and the overseas markets, the cheese industry is at a serious disadvantage because there are no adequate up to date statistics available to tell the industry where it is going. There are 2 forms of statistics that are available to the industry. Firstly, there is the production summary which gives monthly statements on total production figures for butter and cheese. This comes out fairly promptly but it goes into only gross production figures, lt gives no breakdown at all of the varieties of cheese. Unfortunately - I hope this was only a routine measure being adopted by the Bureau of Census and Statistics and not a threat of a change in policy - accompany ing the last production summary was a reminder sheet which asked for readers’ opinions on whether the monthly summary should be abolished and whether it would bc considered adequate if a quarterly, a half yearly or an annual statement replaced it. As this is the only information sheet to my knowledge that provides as the year progresses production figures of 2 most important commodities produced by the dairying industry - butter and cheese - I sincerely hope that the Bureau is not serious in its possible intention to drop the monthly production figures.
The statistics for varieties of cheeses are of crucial importance because of the attempts to develop new export markets with varieties of cheese other than Cheddar, and also because of the challenge that now exists in the home market for the industry to develop varieties of cheese other than Cheddar due to the tariff against the imported varieties that has been confirmed by the. Tariff Board report. However, one looks in vain for any sort of reasonably detailed and, perhaps more importantly, up to date figures. For example, in the interim report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board that has just been released, when one looks at table 22 which relates to cheese production by varieties one finds that the last available figures for cheese production in any varietal form in Australia is for the year 1968-69. This is September 1972. It is a pathetic situation for an advanced country such as Australia that the best it can do is to come up with statistics that are 3 years out of date relating to an industry - the cheese section of the dairying industry - that is changing rapidly. It is an industry for which up to date production figures by varieties are so important.
One could go further and say that, even for 1968-69 the industry did not produce many varieties anyway. I think that about 9 varieties are mentioned. Now that gouda is to be included - it was not included in 1968-69 or earlier, but I understand that it will now be listed - and as gouda is now the second major form of cheese produced in Australia, one could say that even the spread of varieties that is included in the tables is insufficient. But I think the more critical factor is that these statistics are hopelessly out of date. They are obtained from a manufacturing census and included in a statement of principal manufacturing commodities. I have been told that it was bad enough in 1968-69 but in 1969-70, only a couple of years ago, no manufacturing census was taken and no detailed figures for the cheese industry will be available even at some, later stage. The census just was not taken and the figures will not be available.
I sympathise with the Bureau of Census and Statistics with the problems it has in collecting statistics. The Bureau is constantly being asked to produce more figures and detail on a tremendous variety of subjects. Something that is as important as the development of the cheese industry in Australia, both from a home market and an export market point of view, should have up to date statistics. It is not good enough to have figures that are 3 years out of date, for them to be on a very limited range and, finally, for them not to be available at all for the. year 1969-70. I hope that the 2 Departments concerned with the cheese industry in Australia - the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Primary Industry - will also exert pressure to ensure that this lamentable situation is overcome.
– During my speech on the Budget, I referred to Tasmania’s economic difficulties and suggested that one way out of those difficulties would be to make Tasmania a duty free State. I should like to say a little more on that point this morning. During question time today I directed a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) concerning the high freight rates charged by the Australian National Line for goods transported between Tasmania and the mainland. In one of the worst replies I have ever heard in this House, the Minister raved about unions and what they were doing to the ANL, as though they were the cause of all of Tasmania’s troubles. The fact is that freight rates for most commodities have increased by 30 per cent in the last 2 years. I do not know how an island with an island economy, which is as isolated as Tasmania is and with a population of under 400,000, can continue meeting this type of freight rise.
If we cannot get justice in our freight systems, it ultimately will be the end of many of Tasmania’s basic industries.
We have asked time and again for freight subsidies. This morning I asked the Government to repeal section 18 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act to relieve the requirement that the ANL be a profit-making concern. Why should the Government not repeal this section? When the Australian Labor Party becomes the government, it will be looking at Tasmania’s freight problems very closely and I am hoping that one of the solutions we will provide to the whole situation is to repeal section 18. After all, the ANL has made a profit of S26m since 1957 when it first came into being. Had the Line not been required to make profits, we could have had freights at a reasonable and economic level. But because the ANL is forced to make profits it has to keep pushing up its freight rates to come within the framework of the Act under which it is operating and as this Government formulated it.
If the Government will do something about stabilising and subsidising freight rates, Tasmania will have to look for other ways of trying to strengthen its economy to make it viable. The suggestion that Tasmania should be a duty free State is made in that context. It is a suggestion born of desperation, for Tasmania is losing industries and other industries are not prepared to come to Tasmania because of the present cost of freighting goods across Bass Strait. If Tasmania were a duty free State, it would receive a tremendous boost in tourism. From the comments I read after making my speech on the Budget concerning this matter, the suggestion received a very favourable reaction. Of course, I do not have time to develop it again in detail this morning. Tasmania is sick and tired of being called a mendicant or a Cinderella State. We are one of the poor relations of the Commonwealth. Admittedly we get more back in grants than we pay in taxes, but the Commonwealth Constitution makes it incumbent on the Commonwealth Government to make Tasmania a viable State in spite of that fact.
Throughout the years we have laboured under problems and difficulties. The one that hit us the hardest was the increase in freight rates across Bass Strait. The Aus tralian National Line has been a wonderful boost to our island. Eighty-five per cent of our freight in and out is carried by ANL ships. But when so much is carried by one line it shows what a monopoly it has over the island. If we could reduce freights and peg them and if the Commonwealth Government would subsidise any losses this would have a tremendous impact on Tasmanian industry, Tasmanian employment and the encouragement of other industries to come to our island where hydro-electric power is the cheapest source of power in Australia.
At the moment the Constitution makes it impossible for Tasmania to become a duty free State without a referendum. Sections 51, 88, 92 and 99 all make it specific that trade, commerce and intercourse among the States shall be absolutely free. Section 51 (ii.) reads:
Taxation; but so as not to discriminate between States or parts of States.
Section 99 reads:
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof.
But the Constitution does not say anything about the disadvantage of a State being recognised by the Commonwealth. I say quite clearly now that, although the Constitution specifically says that no State shall be advantaged over another State, the reverse is absolutely true also, that no State should be disadvantaged over any other State. I could spend half an hour this morning showing, point by point, how Tasmania is disadvantaged, because it is an island and because of its isolation. If that fact alone cannot convince the other States that we need some special assistance down there in the form of a duty free status, I do not know what can convince them.
I have been provided with some figures by the Legislative Research Service of the Parliamentary Library. They show that in terms of personal income per head of population Tasmania ranks lowest in Australia. In 1968-69 the figure was 85.3 per cent and in 1969-70 it was 85.8 per cent. The next lowest is Queensland. For 1969-70 Queensland’s figure was 88.3 per cent. The fact that Tasmania has the lowest percentage of personal income per head of population is very important. This should be taken into consideration when the Commonwealth is trying to assist us. The Australian Grants Commission works within a very narrow charter. It grants us special money as a mendicant State but it also disadvantages us. It reduces the expenditure if we go beyond the level of the mainland States in items such as social services, forestry and transport. We are a disadvantaged State beyond any doubt.
When I spoke on the Budget I thought that if all the States agreed to give Tasmania a duty free status we would get it, but the researchers in the Library have pointed out to me that we cannot do it that way. We can do it by referendum, which is a cumbersome process, but we cannot do it by the States agreeing to it. So it boils down to a referendum, which one is loath to recommend. But if the Government cannot help this disadvantaged State in the matter of freights and in the matter of grants, maybe in the not too distant future we will have to go to a referendum to ask the people of Australia to give Tasmania this avantage. A duty free status would be an advantage but would be inconvenient in some respects but it would bring tourists to Tasmania in great numbers. I believe that all States would be advantaged by this because tourists would visit Tasmania on an Australian tour whereas otherwise they may not have come to Australia at all. So the suggestion is not as stupid as it might sound to some people. I make this plea to the Government: The Constitution provides that the Commonwealth can help any State that is in difficulties by direct grants. Perhaps the only feasible way, as the Constitution stands at the moment, is for this Government to lift its grants to our island to bring us up to the level of the mainland States. This is the Commonwealth’s responsibility, as I see it, under the constitutional powers.
– I feel that I must take up 5 minutes of the Committee’s time to reply to 2 or 3 of the points made by my honourable colleague from Wilmot (Mr Duthie). The proposition that Tasmania, in desperation, may become a duty free State by means of a national referendum may be an attractive proposition from a publicity point of view. It may be made, and I take it to be made, in all seriousness by my honourable friend. But I think we must operate within the bounds of reality, because surely if we were to ask the Commonwealth and the people of Australia to go to such lengths to obviate the real or imagined disadvantages of the Tasmanian economy it would apply equally to other apparently or thought to be denied or disadvantaged regions of the country. Once other people are introduced to the scene, the proposition is no longer practicable. So I cannot really treat with the utmost seriousness the proposition which the honourable member has put that Tasmania should become duty free. The advantages are obvious but I think the reality is a good deal removed from his putting of the proposition.
We are, however, left with other matters which the honourable member raised and which I believe are a good deal more in the realm of practicality although they have their own problems. If they did not, they would not still exist. The honourable member spoke particularly about trade. This theme is relative to this Estimates debate. He spoke about the shipping disadvantage in which Tasmania is placed. As honourable members well know, all Tasmanian members from both sides of this chamber and senators from the other place have from time to time contributed to attempts to solve this problem. It is a real problem and one that is very difficult of solution without creating precedents which again may be taken up by all sorts of far flung areas of the country. I think that the honourable member for Wilmot and others must realise that the question of freight rates, however persuasive and however worthy of publicity it tends to be in Tasmania - I have contributed to that from time to time - is nevertheless not the whole problem.
They will know that in argument, in debate and in Press publicity about this question, arising as it does whenever there is an increase in freight rates or an interruption to the service through union activity, the Senate committee’s report on shipping in relation to Tasmania should for the moment be the Bible in the factual sense of this subject. It is rarely referred to. In fact I think I could go so far as to say that it is never referred to. The reason is that it does not help our cause very much. It contains a considerable body of evidence taken on the question of Tasmanian shipping difficulties, but what it identifies, amongst other things, is that only about 40 per cent of the total cost of shipping goods from door to door is represented by the shipping freights. So whatever we do to the shipping freights will not solve the whole problem. I am not suggesting that we should not try to do anything about it. All of us have tried and are still trying to see whether we can get something done in that regard. The plain fact of the matter is that even if we achieve our objective the problem will remain, though it may be slightly diminished. So any proposition to change the Navigation Act, persuasive and sensible though it might be, so that we can achieve certain things in relation to freight rates, will not leave Tasmanian shipping free of problems and free of difficulty.
I have come to believe over a period of time that a subsidy would be possible. I put this proposition to 2 successive Prime Ministers and Ministers for Shipping and Transport and, as I best understand it, they foresee very real problems of precedent in the sense that were Tasmania to get a shipping subsidy it would be no time at all before northern Queensland or the north-west of Western Australia or any distant area of the country would be. seeking to be in the same business. As a result the system ultimately would be nullified because there would be so many preferential areas. We would get back to taws. The argument which is often put by Tasmanian commercial and other interests is valid in that the capital grants or loans, more often loans than grants, which the Federal Government makes available in considerable quantities for railway ventures, whether it be the Mount Isa railway or the Tarcoola railway which is currently operating, are providing in various States lifelines of trade equivalent to Tasmania’s shipping line. If, for good and proper reasons - or even improper reasons - that proposition continues to be rejected, it seems to me to leave us with one really constructive proposal in relation to Tasmanian shipping that may solve the problem, although it has to be said, as the honourable member for Wilmot well knows, that both King Island and Flinders Island are not exactly robust at the moment in relation to their shipping problems whether of an interstate or intrastate kind.
What we have to think of in the not too distant future - in fact, right now - is the possibility of a Tasmanian shipping line which would and should attract whatever assistance would be reasonable from the Commonwealth, probably in the form of loans and possibly in the form of grants. The initiation of a Tasmanian Governmentowned shipping line is about the only way I can envisage of wading through this small morass and solving the problem in a thorough-going way. So long as we are subject to the difficulties which I and the honourable member for Wilmot outlined, and so long as we face the danger of creating precedents which will be immediately taken up by other parts of the country, I cannot see how we can solve the problem to the satisfaction of the Tasmanian population in any other way.
The honourable member for Wilmot is somewhat at odds with himself when he says that Tasmania does not want to be a mendicant State or to have mendicant status when at the same time he wants subsidies right, left and centre. A State is either mendicant or it is not and it cannot be non-mendicant and still be asking for subsidies. Whether or not Tasmania is capable of standing completely on its own feet economically is a matter that we have explored in the past and can explore again at another time. We should not present the problems of Tasmania totally from the point of view of disadvantage. There are disadvantages, I agree, but there are advantages which are rarely outlined in these debates. Luckily there are sufficient people who care to live in Tasmania for some of the advantages which do not seem to accrue any more to the larger centres of population in Australia. My feeling is that the general trend of social and environmental thinking will put a premium on places like Tasmania if we care to wait long enough. Of course, that does not solve our problem for the moment. I agree with the. raising of this matter by the honourable member for Wilmot and I do not disagree with the need to which he referred, but I do disagree with some of his proposals which appear to contain an element of unreality. I hope that we can continue to work separately and together to achieve the ends we would both like to see in regard to Tasmanian trade, whether it is with the Australian mainland or, in a slightly closer context, between Tasmania’s own islands and ports.
– I wish to refer in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Customs and Excise particularly to the surveillance over drugs being smuggled into Australia, which I believe to be ineffective because of the small amount provided in the estimates for this purpose. A publication with a fairly wide national distribution, the ‘Bulletin’, published an article which claimed that 80 per cent of all drugs being blackmarketed in Australia are estimated to be made or processed overseas. The Director of the Federal Narcotics Bureau said that at most probably 15 per cent of those drugs were being intercepted. Following his recent return from an overseas visit, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) said that the illegal traffickers were now working out such ingenious methods that law enforcement authorities could no longer hope to stop drug smuggling into Australia. I do not want to argue with the Minister over that point but in my opinion the Minister and his Department are losing the fight against drug smugglers. I do not want to suggest that the Minister is losing the fight because he lacks a genuine interest in winning but rather because the effective forces that he has available to him, and which are determined by the limited budgetary finances that his Government is prepared to make available to him, are virtually forcing the Minister to fight the battle with one hand tied behind his back. I want to deal specifically with the Port of Brisbane. That port is within my electorate and I have had many opportunities to discuss this problem with people associated, through pleasure and work, with Moreton Bay, and from the information given to me by these people I am very firmly of the opinion that drug smuggling surveillance in the Port of Brisbane is so limited that it could be described as almost completely ineffective. It is high time the Government gave effect to the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse which included the following:
The Committee therefore recommends that all steps possible should be taken to strengthen collaboration between existing Australian and International law enforcement agencies against drug trafficking and that urgent attention be given to the establishment of an Australian Coast Guard Service adequately equipped with vessels, aircraft, land based support and communications. The Coast Guard Service could appropriately be placed under the control of the Department of Customs and Excise with provisions for adequate liaison with other relevant departments, for example those departments responsible for health, fisheries, immigration and rescue services.
In its report the Committee also said:
The Committee has concluded that Australia is being well served by the dedicated group of law enforcement officers involved in the fight against drug trafficking. It believes that whatever resources are necessary to improve their efficiency in this fight should be provided without delay.
The purpose of my entering this debate was to make such an appeal to the Government particularly in respect of the Port of Brisbane from which I believe a large quantity of drugs is flowing to the rest of Australia. From the information I have at hand there is no effective surveillance of ships or aircraft coming into Brisbane unless it is surveillance which has resulted from reports or, as they are often referred to, ‘tip-offs’ given to the Department. I have with me 3 newspaper cuttings reporting actions taken by authorities against drug smugglers. They are typical of the reports we usually read when smugglers are apprehended. Almost traditionally reference is made to the fact that the action was taken following information being given to the Department. Recently the Brisbane ‘Telegraph’ of 23rd September in referring to the drug squad and the Bureau of Narcotics investigators smashing on the previous day a drug ring which was peddling drugs reported that the investigation began after police received information about drug peddling in Brisbane. Some time ago at the Coolangatta Airport drug smugglers were apprehended. The Press report said that this was as a result of a tip being given to the Department at lunchtime on the previous day.
This situation has not changed in recent years. Back in 1970, soon after I came into this Parliament, my attention was drawn to the circumstances surrounding some Chinese deportees who were picked up off the Queensland coast just north of the Mooloolaba pilot station. A newspaper report there dealt with the fact that the customs and immigration officials learned of the plot to smuggle the Chinese into Australia and they acted as a result of the information they received. It seems to me that the old saying that we often hear that charity begins at home has been neglected by the Government. In recent times I read of the gift of 6 patrol boats to Malaysia to assist that country in overcoming the drug smuggling duties of the Malaysian police. I refer also to an earlier statement this year which said that similar patrol boats were to be given to the Philippines. It seems to be a sad condemnation of the Government that these very suitable craft are being given to these countries when they are facilities that could be used by competent crews available in Australia to do the same job that they will perform in other countries. We have 12,000 miles of unbroken coastline. I sympathise with the Minister in his efforts to provide sufficient drug surveillance, but I do not believe that this has been effectively carried out in areas such as the port of Brisbane where it could be carried out. I refer to a recent report in the ‘Sunday Mail’ of 12th March this year which stated:
Some drug smugglers … are floating illegal consignments of ‘hard’’ drugs overboard in Moreton Bay to escape Customs detection.
Referring to informants, the report stated:
They said that men in small boats pick up the drugs and deliver them to a Brisbane syndicate.
Do not believe, Mr Chairman, that these things are fairy tale in origin. Do not believe that these things are not occurring. I have had enough experience around that area to know that they are. The one patrol boat that is available to the Department of Customs in Brisbane at the moment represents only 50 per cent of the effective force which was available when I asked the Minister a question some 2 years ago about the facilities that were available in the port of Brisbane for surveillance in the Moreton Bay area and off the Queensland coast. At that time 2 small craft were available; now there remains only one. I believe that this craft is not being used as effectively and as efficiently as it could be used.
On trie admission of the officers of the Department to whom I have spoken - I repeat that they are doing their best - this boat operates only on the basis of the information the Department receives. It seems to me that the secret of success as regards drug smuggling, particularly in the port of Brisbane, is to avoid suspicion. If a smuggler avoids suspicion, he avoids surveillance and consequently avoids detec- tion. I would need to be convinced that this craft is being used effectively. Perhaps in an effort to convince me or even to convince himself, the Minister might be prepared to have a look at the running sheets or the log book of this launch. I would be very happy if he did that and, if he wants to convince me about this matter, perhaps he would allow me to look at those records also.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 wish to raise a few points in relation to the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. First of all, I want to deal with the position of apple and pear growers. 1 am particularly concerned, however, wilh the position of the fruit growers in my own electorate, particularly those at Harcourt, because almost every single device in the form of assistance by the Federal Government and every measure of assistance provided by the State Government to apple and pear growers has been so limited as to be virtually useless to the people I represent. The problems facing the fruit growers in the Harcourt area have been very severe. There is a danger that the economy of the township of Harcourt as a whole will be effectively subverted by what is being allowed to happen in the fruit industry without assistance from the Commonwealth Government. There is a possibility that the town of Harcourt might eventually jus wither away. For example, there are now only about 64 fruit growers in the Harcourt area compared with about 104 in 1970. Men have been leaving the industry. They, have been transferring in some cases to other industries or they have been going off the land entirely and selling up their properties.
Harcourt Co-op. Fruitgrowers Ltd which employs approximately 29 people has been in financial trouble itself for almost ail of the time that I have been representing the area. There is a danger that it could face more serious problems in the future. If these problems are not tackled by the Commonwealth Government very soon the future of the Harcourt district will be in jeopardy. In the past some of the problems affecting the Harcourt area have included continual frosts, hail storms, bush fires and a whole series of natural disasters. In spite of this the area has received very tittle assistance from the State or Commonwealth Governments. The hail storm which struck the area in December in particular did very extensive damage to the fri; 1 growers. Virtually no-one in the area was insured against hail damage because the type of insurance offered by private enterprise is so costly that it is not worth taking out the insurance. This has been one of the great difficulties, I think, for the apple and pear growers in Australia, that the Commonwealth and States have not found any means of providing insurance against natural disasters such as those I have mentioned.
The stabilisation scheme that the Commonwealth introduced has been valuable; I am not saying that it has not. But it has not provided assistance on the scale that the industry requires. The increase under this Budget by 500,000 bushels of the maximum quantity of apples and pears which may attract the guaranteed payment again, has been useful but it is not of the scale nf assistance that the industry really requires. Recently the Harcourt growers put forward what I thought to be a well documented and well thought out plan of reconstruction for the area which was submitted through me to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). This proposal was rejected. So they have received no assistance in that regard either. Very few of the growers in the area have received any assistance through the rural reconstruction scheme. On the whole probably no more than a handful at the very most has received any assistance under that scheme.
I have been informed by one grower that the Rural Finance and Settlement Commission in Victoria has been instructed by the Commonwealth Government that fruit growers are not to receive assistance through the Commonwealth rural reconstruction scheme. This has been very damaging to growers in the area. Recently one grower who had a very good property and good security applied for assistance under the farm build-up scheme in order to purchase a neighbouring orchard. Of course, he was knocked back. He had to obtain finance from a traditional lending source at twice the cost through the rural reconstruction scheme.
The tree pulling compensation scheme, again, is of some assistance but it is too restricted. Virtually nobody in the Harcourt area has any chance of benefiting from this scheme. For many, of course, it came too late because they have just left their properties. For many others it is too restrictive because many of them, especially those affected by the series of natural disasters that has hit them, have taken extra employment outside their orchards and this, of course, has disqualified them from receiving assistance under the scheme. They are now receiving a major portion of their income from sources other than fruit growing. I would like to read an article from the .7-:——– Times’ which circulates in the Harcourt area. The issue of 16th August reported a meeting held on 15th August. It states:
Last night orchardists met at Harcourt to discuss the latest Government proposal to help the fruitgrower - the Tree Pulling Scheme.
This scheme recently announced by the Commonwealth Government was an offer to the States to assist sections of the fruit industry by providing compensation for the removal of fruit trees from orchards and compensation given, administered in Victoria by the Rural Finance and Settlement Commission.
The compensation would encourage old trees to be taken out and enable the grower to diversify into an alternative activity or to leave the industry.
However, after their second meeting on the subject the growers from Harcourt and district could noi find one of their number in the area who would be eligible.
The scheme was considered from all angles. From a neglected orchard; from an orchard ready for development; and from an orchardist looking to diversify. But various requirements ruled out any from qualifying.
If he has got another job, he is ruled out, even if his profitability is threatened, no matter what way it could not be seen by the growers how anyone could benefit by the tree pull scheme in Harcourt - considered generally to be in as difficult circumstances as anywhere in the fruit industry.
So the big question was - just who will gain from it?
The meeting ended at a late hour feeling disappointed, and hostile with the belief it was more of a political gesture.
The report continues:
It was said that the ‘help’ offered to growers so far, that of hail damage offers, rural reconstruction, and the present offer with the tree pull scheme, the amount of real help handed out had to growers had been infinitesimal.
In addition, if a grower wanted to keep in the industry he would find it virtually impossible to re-plant and keep an income off an orchard if he could get tree pull compensation.
That is a rather scathing condemnation of the scheme. Obviously there are people in that area who would appreciate the assistance that is being offered but the assistance does not go far enough. Generally speaking the exporters are not being assisted to overcome the problems facing them because of the refusal of the Government to introduce a single statutory marketing authority. We are not tackling the grave problem of rising costs of production and competition in our markets. One way we could describe the Government’s proposal in regard to the apple and pear industry is that it allows the patient to get sick and once he is on the verge of death the Government helps to pay part of the cost of the aspro. The basic problems facing this industry are not being tackled.
I would like to refer very briefly to the egg industry. There is gross over-production in this industry, not through any fault of the industry but because of a failure of State governments, particularly the Victorian Government, to agree on production controls on a nation-wide basis. There is vast over-production in the industry. It is estimated that to store 18,000 tons of egg pulp this year will cost about $1.7m. The assistance of $750,000 offered by the Government will be useful but it is not sufficient. The basic problem facing egg producers is that they need a guaranteed cost of production of 28c. When the egg producers’ representatives spoke to the Minister they pointed out that it would cost $3. 5m to cover the costs of production. I believe this to be a reasonable request. They needed this financial assistance to tide them over until such time as they can gain the benefits of production control on a nation-wide basis. This assistance has not been offered to them and therefore it means that as the assistance is not forthcoming hundreds of egg producers will leave this industry over the next year.
This industry is a basic prop to the economy in my electorate and any decline in the industry is a threat to the economy in that area. For example, I have been informed that since July 1971 there are now 244 fewer producers supplying eggs in the Bendigo and in the northern district, 82 of whom derived most of their income from egg production. Many of the farmers in the area I represent have been going off their properties as a result of falling prices and rising costs of production. They are being squeezed off their properties. I believe they have a case for much more assistance than the Government has provided so far. I believe they have a case for a guaranteed cost of production on their returns to give them some protection until they can obtain the benefits of national controls over production.
– Three honourable members had something to say during this debate about the estimates for my Department. I would like briefly to reply to each of them. The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) made a very helpful speech and I thank him for his remarks. He expressed concern at the extent of drug smuggling into Australia. He directed his attention particularly to the Port of Brisbane, an area which he represents, and he properly asked me this question: ‘Is the launch service in that Port adequate to cope with the known drug smuggling that takes place into Australia?’ While his speech was helpful it lacked specifics. He said - and I wrote down what he said - that he has information given to him by people about specific instances of drug smuggling. I would be pleased to receive that sort of information or any other information which the honourable gentleman has. It would be treated in the strictest confidence. I can understand the reluctance of his constituents to divulge thennames because, as the honourable gentleman would know, the creatures who engage in drug smuggling are not the sort to stop at violent measures if they knew they were being informed upon. The honourable member did say he had information. I give him an open invitation to his constituents to produce the information and assure them of our gratitude if the information is provided.
The honourable member quite properly said that a great deal of the success of our work comes as a result of information given by informers. Informers can come from 2 different sources - those who are fortuitous and those who are not fortuitous. His constituents could provide very useful information. The honourable member would know, however, that we do have other methods other than those of launches in detecting drug smuggling. There are many varied methods which 1 know he would not want me to disclose publicly. The honourable member asked: ‘ls the craft being used efficiently?’ Apparently he has spoken to some of my officers who have suggested that it is not. 1 give him an undertaking that I will personally look into the running sheet and operations of the craft. As 1 understand it we have on*; craft in Brisbane, one in Gladstone, one in Cairns and one at Thursday Island at the present time. These craft are used for other Customs purposes and are not restricted solely to detecting drug smuggling. But I do put this to the honourable member - and he will see the point in a flash when 1 mention it - that not all Customs surveillance in harbours is done by Customs launches. Quite often it would be stupid to use Customs launches to trail a ship up the harbour. We know about the technique which he mentioned of a smuggler on board a ship dropping contraband or drugs overboard with a weight or sinker and float attached so that the contraband or drugs remain a foot or 2 below the surface of the water and that at a pre-arranged signal a fast launch comes off the shore and frogmen gather in the goods. The honourable member might recall such an occurrence happened in Melbourne about 18 months ago when one or 2 of the frogmen were drowned because they panicked. I suggest to the honourable member that the chap who drops a package over the side is not likely to do it if the launch following the ship is flying Her Majesty’s flag. I would have thought that it is commonsense for any law enforcement agency to act under cover and to hire the most unlikely looking launch from a private entrepreneur for use in Customs work. I must say that this opportunity has not passed us by. I thank him for his information and I undertake to do what he asks.
The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) also mentioned the estimates for the Department of Customs and Excise. I thought he made an extraordinary speech. He was making representations about a constituent of his, a Mr C. O. Ashton, about whom he had written to me on one or 2 occasions. Mr Ashton wished to be able to set up some form of duty free shop at Australian airports so that Australians returning from abroad, instead of buying concession goods overseas and bringing them back with them, would be able to purchase them at Australian airports thus giving business to Australian enterprise. I wrote back what I thought was a reasonable letter. In it I said that for very good reasons we would not agree to the proposal. In any case, the Department of Civil Aviation would raise very real objections to it. It would make the clearance of passengers almost impossible. As the honourable gentleman knows in his own city a couple of weeks ago, because a couple of Jumbo jets were late and a couple early, 1,600 people arrived at Mascot Airport within about an hour. I need only state that fact for the honourable gentleman to realise the chaos that would result if all these people bought goods at a shop.
– Might they not have been buying goods in the same sort of congestion in the ports from which they came?
– No, because they came from different ports. On this particular occasion there were 6 or 7 aircraft coming from 6 or 7 different places, such as Singapore, Djakarta and New Zealand. Concentrated in customs halls at Mascot there would be 1,600 potential customers instead of 300 at the places from which they came. In addition to that there are many and varied reasons why we rejected the proposal.
I wrote to the honourable gentleman about them and I suspect that he thought my reply, while he might not have agreed with it, was reasonable and gave reasons. But then he saw an article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’, I believe it was, which said that this concept was to be adopted or it was almost a fait accompli. The honourable gentleman has been in this place a long time - probably longer than I. He should know that an honourable member does not come into the Parliament and attack a Minister on the basis of a newspaper report. That report was absolute rubbish. What the basis of it was I do not have the faintest idea. This report in the Financial Review’ appeared categoric and unequivocal, but there is not the slightest basis of truth in it and the reasons I gave him in the letter I wrote still stand. Had the newspaper report been true the honourable gentleman would have had every right to come into this House quite upset that I had misled him, but this was not the case. I hope that my statement sets the record right.
The honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) also mentioned customs and excise. I found his speech quite extraordinary too. He is a man for whom I think all honourable members in this House have respect. He was a distinguished civil servant, an investigator, for 34 years. One would have thought that before he made very strong accusations against my Department and myself in the House he would have checked his facts because the honourable gentleman’s academic training and his training in a distinguished branch of the civil service would have led him to check facts. 1 will refute his facts on the basis of information given to me by my Department. 1 hope the honourable gentleman will be good enough to take my refutation back to his sources and if I am wrong and my refutation is wrong I would be pleased if he would let me know. It is a bit disconcerting as a Minister to hear what seem to be completely wrong statements for the first time in an estimates debate.
– What did I say?
– These false accusations were used as an opportunity not only to accuse the Minister but also the Government and then political capital was made out of them. I do not know that that is fair play. 1 do not know that I have a reputation of being an unapproachable Minister. I had not received any of these representations before. The honourable member interjected and asked what did he say. I quote him on the subject of forklift trucks. He said:
Firstly. Hyster Australia Pty Ltd which to my knowledge is the sole manufacturer of forklift trucks within Australia . . .
I now inform the honourable gentleman that to our knowledge, at least, Clyde-APAC Ltd, Woodville North, South Australia; Clark Equipment Aust. Ltd, Hornsby, New South Wales; Conveyancer Pty Ltd, Kingsgrove, New South Wales; Hyster Australia Pty Ltd, Milperra, New South Wales and Caterpillar of Australia Ltd, Tullamarine,
Victoria, all make forklift trucks. I should have thought that one simple telephone call would have established that. But that is not the important matter. He then said:
To my shock I found that, due to the lack of tariff protection and the use of by-law entry, Japanese imports were cutting this firm to ribbons . . Japanese imports were killing the market. This firm has had to dispense with its trained and skilled staff due to Japanese cut throat tactics which have been employed with the full approval of this Government. 1 was astonished to read that. I am informed that by-law entry is generally not accorded to forklift trucks for the very good reason that there are at least 5 manufacturers of them in Australia. However, occasionally an Australian importer requires a type of forklift truck for which a suitable equivalent is not reasonably available within Australia. I would imagine those occasions would be quite rare. Only on those occasions is by-law concession granted. If the honourable gentleman knows of massive imports being bought from Japan on which by-law concession has been granted, cutting Australian firms to ribbons, I would be fascinated to hear about it and I would like to hear about it. He mentioned a second fascinating item of cast iron sizzle plates which, I presume, are things to barbecue on.
– No, they are not.
– If they are not they should be, with a name like that.
– I must admit, Mr Minister, I had never heard of them before.
– I quote from the honourable member’s remarks again. He said:
Japanese manufactured sizzle plates are allowed into this country under by-law entry . . . This wholly owned Australian company is being sacrificed because Japanese imports are crucifying it.
He was referring to Channells Products Pty Ltd. I am informed that no Japanese imports of sizzle plates have come into Australia under by-law. For the honourable gentleman’s benefit I inform him that cooking utensils, under which sizzle plates come - the more I speak the more I am dedicated to find out what sizzle plates are - did come in until 30th June 1972 under the concessional admission of certain imports from less developed countries. But Japan is certainly not one of those countries. So, again, I think that the honourable gentleman has been misled. Cooking utensils and kitchenware, including sizzle plates, were specifically excluded from this concession on 1st July 1972. At no time were sizzle plates of Japanese origin eligible for the concession. If they did come in I should like to hear about it. The honourable gentleman went on to talk about spray guns manufactured by the same company. He said:
Surely … the people who work in these industries should not be sacrificed just to appease the Japanese exporters. I pose this question to the Minister for Customs and Excise: Where does the Government stand on this important issue?
Then he quoted Labor’s policy. The allegation that the Government is sacrificing Australian manufacturers and the Australian work force to appease Japanese exporters is unjustified if it is untrue, as I hope I have illustrated it is with the other 2 examples, it is unfair and, indeed, offensive. The position is that my Department is aware of extensive local manufacturing of spray guns. By-law admission is accorded only where it is established that the known local manufacturers are unable to supply suitable equivalent goods. However, the Department is unaware of the activities of Channells Products Pty Ltd. Therefore it is desirable that Channell’s Products should advise the Department of the products it is making so that its interests may be fully considered when future by-law requests are being dealt with. I pass that suggestion on to the honourable member for Banks in a spirit of being helpful.
It may be that duty is being paid on these imports but that they are still being sold under the price at which Australian firms can produce them. If that is the case the honourable gentleman should advise his constituents in one of two ways. It may be that dumping is occurring. The Government is very firm about Australian manufacturers not being penalised by dumped products. The method of asking for an investigation as to whether dumping is occurring is delightfully simple. It simply means an approach to my Department, which will facilitate such an investigation and obtain a quick answer. The other reason is that the tariff protection levied by this Parliament might not be sufficient. That has nothing to do with my Department, but it has something to do with Government policy. Even so, the honourable gentleman’s constituent has two courses of action open to him. He can apply to my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, for a tariff inquiry if the tariff protection is not sufficient, lt is just as much the policy of the Government as it is the policy of the honourable gentleman’s Party to protect Australian industry and to afford the maximum employment in this country. I should have thought that that would have been demonstrated by the Government’s actions in its years of office. However, Tariff Board inquiries take some time. So the Government has instituted a fire brigade mechanism, if I can use that expression. If substantial injury is being done to an industry by low priced imports - not dumped imports - the Minister for Trade and Industry can, if a prima facie case has been made out, refer it to the Special Advisory Authority, Sir Frank Meere, who is compelled to report to the Minister within 30 days of the submission being made. In this way fire brigade action can be taken to protect an industry.
I hope the honourable member for Banks will take me up on the challenge that I have given to him in the spirit in which I have given it to him. If his constituents are experiencing trouble, I would suggest that he should go about bringing it to the attention of the Parliament in a businesslike and reasonable way rather than come into this chamber, abuse the Minister for Customs and Excise and his Department and say what a wonderful job the Australian Labor Party would do under the circumstances.
– I appreciate the comments which have been made by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). I must say that I agree with what he has said about himself. He has always been approachable. I have found him to be not only an approachable Minister but also an extremely capable one. I should think that sizzle plates would not be a mechanism used like a barbecue. One of the directors of Channell Products Pty Ltd rang me from Sydney - he lives in my electorate - and informed me of what is in fact happening. After listening to what the Minister for Customs and Excise has said, it appears as though dumping is going on.
In my comments relating to Hyster . Australia Pty Ltd, I was relying on information which was given to me during an inspection of its factory. I was asked to come and look at the factory because Hyster Australia Pty Ltd was being, as it was put to me, practically put out of business by the importation of Japanese fork lift trucks under by-law concession. The Hyster factory is very close to my home and I went across to inspect it when invited to do so. 1 do not think I went off half cocked on this matter. I admit that I was wrong in that, as the Minister has pointed out, there are other firms in Australia which do in fact manufacture fork lift trucks. I accept his assurance that that is the situation. When I inspected the plant of Hyster Australia Pty Ltd approximately 3 weeks agoI was informed that there were sitting in store many forklift trucks for which they could not obtain forward orders. The Assistant Managing Director of the firm told me that. It was he who conducted me on a tour of the plant. I accepted the information that he gave me as being factual. I subjected him to a bit of cross-examination on it. Because, as the Minister for Customs and Excise pointed out so rightly, I had had 34 years of service in the Commonwealth Public Service, 15 of them as an investigation officer, I had to satisfy myself on this matter. I was satisfied in my own mind on the evidence that I adduced from the Assistant Managing Director that Hyster Australian Pty Ltd was in fact being, as I have put it, crucified, I mentioned in my earlier speech that Hyster fork lift trucks were not wholly of Australian content. Efforts have been made to have GMH engines, I think they are, installed in those trucks. Hyster imports the engines for its trucks from a source which it says is not so much cheaper but which gives it a more efficient unit. I am satisfied that Hyster turns out a good product. 1 have seen Hyster fork lift trucks and I have inspected the plant. What is happening is that Hyster’s market is being killed by Japanese imports.
If I unjustly blamed the Minister for Customs and Excise I apologise and withdraw those remarks. But I would like to see an investigation made of the cases to which 1 have referred.I do not think that I went off half cocked. I think I made adequate investigation in respect of each of the 3 of them. I repeat that I was asked to come over and inspect Hyster’s plant. I did not go there of my own choice, although I was very happy to do so because I am, as the Minister is aware, interested in the subject of tariffs, trade and economics.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of Education and Science
– On 17th August 1972, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) read a statement to this House which was reported to be the Commonwealth’s education programme for 1972-73. During the last few days honourable members have been furnished with a document entitled Commonwealth Programme in Education and Science’, which, according to the first page, contains material produced for the information of members of the Australian Parliament in their consideration of the Estimates for 1972-73. We are now considering those Estimates.
Having studied both the statement and the document very carefully, I am most disturbed to note that, despite the fact that many representations and submissions have been made to the Government on behalf of children and parents in isolated and distant parts of Australia, not one mention is made in either the document or the statement which would suggest that the Government has any ideas about how to tackle this very serious problem. The education of those children must continue to suffer unless and until a Commonwealth Government is prepared to provide a substantial amount of financial assistance for the specific purpose of ensuring full and proper opportunities to those children to obtain an adequate education at all levels. This Government is failing to do that.
Surely the education of Australia’s children is a matter of national necessity and importance, and surely it must then naturally follow that the major responsibility rests not with the individual State governments but fairly and squarely upon the Commonwealth Government to ensure that every child, irrespective of whether he lives in the city or in the far north, has the opportunity of gaining an education not limited by the financial circumstances of the parents, not limited by the financial resources of the State in which he lives, but limited only by his own ability to learn. But the Government obviously does not accept that view because in all States of Australia today there are hundreds of children whose chances of gaining a good education are very remote. This, of course, can only mean that they will be severely handicapped in the future for the very simple reason that they will not be able to compete with more fortunate school leavers or job seekers for jobs of security and substance. Indeed, it goes further than the child. Australia itself must be the loser in the long run because talents that would otherwise have been available will be lost forever.
The need for positive and specific assistance is due to the fact, and this cannot be denied, that a large number of parents cannot afford to meet the high costs involved in sending their children to cities or towns away from home where adequate school facilities and accommodation are available. These costs are steadily increasing. In support of what I have said I refer to an article appearing in the ‘Australian’ newspaper dated as recently as February this year. It states:
Between 2,000 and 3,000 New South Wales children are ‘isolated’ from their schools, the New South Wales Education Minister, Mr Cutler, said yesterday.
This is an urgent problem, where either those children are not getting an adequate education or in many cases the cost of sending them to school is breaking their families, he said.
Mr Cutler said New South Wales could need about $1.2m a year to make adequate arrangements for these children, but the State could not find this money.
That, of course, is the problem in all States and certainly in my own State of Western Australia - lack of finance. The only source from which to gain that finance is the Commonwealth. Because the Commonwealth refuses to grant that finance we have the situation right now where the education of many children is almost completely limited by the financial circumstances of the parents. As I said earlier, this can be no longer tolerated.
Unfortunately, when one speaks of parents and children in outback areas, there seems to be a tendency in some quarters to believe that one is talking about rich pastoralists or cattle kings and their families. Of course this is not the situation at all. Certainly some station owners are involved, but I would hesitate to suggest that most of them are overburdened with wealth either, particularly at this time. The owners who have made a lot of money are no longer putting up with the disabilities and disadvantages of station life and have moved into the elite, areas of the metropolis. But on the other hand there are those who are battling to make a go of it and those who are simply managers, many of whom are underpaid. Then there are station hands, stockmen and those in numerous occupations who live in the small towns or centres in the pastoral areas, the cattle station areas, the agricultural or the mining areas. All in all I would believe that the majority of these people are receiving an income of no more than the average weekly earnings, and in many cases they would be receiving considerably less. At a rough guess I would say that in a number of cases it would cost the bread winner something like half his annual wages just to send one of his children to school in the metropolitan area or some other area where schooling is available. Of course people in the isolated areas cannot afford to do this.
The parents of children in isolated areas have certain alternatives which can be boiled down to 3 choices. They can use correspondence courses, with or without the School of the Air, and with the mother acting as teacher. Obviously there are difficulties in regard to that. As a result of the Government’s proposal to change over from double side band to single side band radio the cost of replacing sets could be beyond the financial capacity of many parents, and unless some assistance is given in that regard we will see ourselves in a situation where the School of the Air will not be available to some of these children. The second choice is to employ a governess or male teacher, which is a fairly expensive exercise even if they are available. The third and certainly the best choice as far as the child’s education is concerned is to send the child to the metropolitan area or elsewhere where good schooling facilities and accommodation are available. But the third choice poses very substantial cost problems that many parents cannot measure up to. Air or train fares are expensive items, particularly if the child is to return home at the end of each term or during school holidays - and surely it must be in the best interests of the children if they are allowed to do so. Therefore much more substantial allowances and assistance must be provided in that regard.
Then there are the costs of hostels or other accommodation. In this regard there is very good reason why the Commonwealth should provide funds to establish hostels in or at least adjacent to the more popular schools in the metropolitan areas and also in country areas where good primary and secondary schooling is available. One frequently hears complaints from city dwellers in relation to the cost of education, and I think they are genuine in their complaints, but how much greater must be the complaint and how much more is it justified from people in the country and outback areas as compared with the city people, and how much greater is the worry of the parents in remote areas as to the adequacy of their child’s education? I do not profess to be able to say what amount of assistance would be required or in what form assistance should be given. I doubt that any member of this Parliament could do so. But it would be neither a difficult nor an expensive exercise to carry out a proper inquiry and investigation into the whole field of education requirements in remote and distant areas. I believe this should be done, and done immediately. Certainly there would be no doubt about the co-operation and assistance that would be received from the States in that regard when they know that an inquiry is being conducted with a view to providing sufficient finance to overcome the problems of those areas.
In conclusion 1 say that children of the outback have equal rights with children living in the elite areas of the capital cities to a good education. Assistance towards scholarships, science blocks and libraries is necessary and very acceptable in most areas, but it is of very little use or advantage to children who have no chance of qualifying for a scholarship or of attending a school of advanced education for the simple reason that their parents cannot face up to the costs. It is quite idle to say that the States are well equipped to be able to provide the finance for increased allowances and assistance because they are not, and the responsibility must be accepted by the Federal Government. How little apparently would the cost be to an institution such as the Commonwealth Government when we look at the figure given by the Minister for Education in New South
Wales and see that $10m or SI 2m annually could be very near sufficient for all the States almost completely to overcome this problem. So I ask the Minister to take a serious view of this situation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.58 to 2.15 p.m.
– Last night we discussed the programme for State and independent schools involving considerable amounts of finance and there is no point in covering that area again now. In the 10 minutes available to me in this debate I will confine myself to one or two of the smaller areas of Government expenditure on education, although they are by no means insignificant areas. In particular I want to take up the point that the Government has now seen fit to review the salaries of university staffs. In so doing an undertaking is given that the Sweeney report will be heeded in relation to colleges of advanced education; that is to say, whatever salaries are accepted as a result of the current review to take effect from the beginning of next year will in approximate measure operate for staffs of colleges of advanced education.
It is usually thought to be politically unattractive to talk about differential deserts in relation to salaries and mcn matters but I would like to make a point that I have long since made as a member of a university; that is, that if as is being implied at present in one or two newspaper reports, this review is to lead to any differentials as between holders of similar rank or status in university occupations - or if not, for that matter - a hard look should be taken at the requisite qualifications for appointment to particular positions both inside universities and as between universities and colleges of advanced education. It is perfectly obvious to anybody who cares to look that the field is not as competitive for appointment to colleges of advanced education as it is to universities. In the market sense, there is no case for an automatic equality or near equality of salaries between universities and colleges of advanced education, irrespective of the level of appointment. There has been a long-standing case, to which I probably still adhere, for a lack of differentials as between professors of one subject and another. Good arguments can be adduced for paying premiums for particular input to particular skills, whether teaching, administrative, research or what have you.
However, there is a severe disadvantage in paying differentials for different work inputs, different teacher loadings and so on in that there is a fair likelihood that the smaller universities in the smaller States will find themselves in a difficult competitive situation. It may not be so, but it is likely that a fairly heavy teacher load or a fairly heavy administrative responsibility in relation to a large department will produce, under those circumstances, a plus loading for a professor or another university staff man in a large university as distinct from a smaller one. There may be circumstances which could reverse that situation but I think that is the likelihood. Ir: that case there may be somewhat undesirable competitive ability arising throughout the Australian university system which, despite its recent growth, still has only a couple of handfuls or so - 3 to be precise - of universities and of course a rapidly growing number of colleges of advanced education. 1 think it has long since escaped the attention of people who administer bodies such as the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education that it became the practice in universities some years ago to tie all sorts of people other than academics to academic salaries. We are going to make judgments about academic salaries on the level of qualifications and the high competitiveness required for appointment. We leave aside at the moment whether the people are sufficiently tested for their teaching ability and that sort of thing. A case should also be made for that procedure.
We nevertheless get the situation, for example, where librarians and administrative staff are tied to what are said to be equivalent salary scales of university lecturers and others. I see no case for that to occur except perhaps as a small matter of administrative convenience. People who are operating in quite different fields from the academic field of teaching and research are being paid equivalent rates although the academic positions bear little relationship to the jobs they are doing in the outside world. If differentials are to be created - and I am still apprehensive about it in some respects - they should be looked at very assiduously in all respects. I make one point in relation to universities and colleges of advanced education. I have recently been the subject, as it were publicly, of a leading letter in the Hobart newspaper from an unnamed lecturer at the College of Advanced Education alleging a great lack of government involvement in education expenditure, not only in colleges of advanced education but also right across the board. I duly replied to his letter and received a most unimpressive answer. The fact is that irrespective of that situation it should be made clear that the Government has accepted recently the recommendations in toto from both the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education in respect of every individual institution administered under those systems. No doubt should be left in anybody’s mind that the Government on this occasion has at least accepted the recommendations for each of those numerous institutions.
I will touch now on 2 or 3 other minor but important aspects of our educational programme. Honourable members opposite have had a great deal to say from time to time on this subject. It appears to me that no matter what the Government attempted to do honourable members opposite would make roughly the same remarks. Members of the Opposition said as recently as yesterday that the Government shows little interest in matters such as Aboriginal welfare and education. 1 draw attention to the fact that in the 1972- 73 Estimates we allocated S2m for Aboriginal advancement; $3. 01m for secondary school grants for Aborigines; and a further S0.72m for Aboriginal study giants. The numbers of students involved at present are 4,266 for secondary grants and 522 for advanced study grants. That total sum, estimated at not far short of $6m, relates to an Aboriginal population which, I think I am right in saying, could not be put at more than 140,000. Those Aboriginals who attend schools and are eligible or available for expenditure under these terms would be, of course, a very small fraction of that total number, on any calculation of per capita expenditure.
I believe it is not only idle but in fact vexatious to say that the Government has not taken in the last few years at least reasonable account of Aboriginal educational advancement in Australia. By the same token migrant children, who could always be seen to have considerable need, basically because of the absolutely fundamental character of English expression and their ability to make their way in this society, have been allocated this year §4. 89m for their particular concerns in education, which is an increase from S3. 26m in 1971- 72. 1 believe the matters 1 have mentioned in the minor areas of educational expenditure are very important. The Government’s identification of $1.5m for a period of 5 years for the study of Asian languages and culture and the development of programmes of teaching in this field is, I believe, of more than marginal importance to our educational system.
I close by noting that one specific area in which the Commonwealth Government has involved itself and which is of considerable advantage to the average student and, in fact, to most students now passing through our education system is in the area of scholarships. As the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) pointed out, expenditure on scholarships this year has risen to a massive $56m compared with S45m or $46m last year. When seen to its logical conclusion, this amount will increase to $77m in the near future, while the total number of scholarship holders will increase from the present 70,000 to 123,000. To me, this is a move in the right direction, and it leaves most students in the position of being able to continue their education without severe financial difficulties.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Jarman) Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I should like to read from a speech made in this House on 7th March 1972 by the spokesman for the Australian Labor Party on education, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). He said:
The Australian Labor Party believes in those sentiments. I believe in those sentiments. There has been a grave distortion of fact by Government supporters as to what is the policy of the Labor Party. 1 want to put the record straight on this issue. The policy of the Labor Party towards education is quite clear, lt is set out not only in the decisions which were taken at the Launceston conference of the Australian Labor Party in 1971 but also in a publication which will be available shortly for all to read. It is headed ‘Education - It’s Time’.
It certainly is time; it is time for a new deal in education for all, on the basis of need. 1 should like to cite some figures relating to certain schools in my electorate. They happen to be diocesan, poorer Catholic schools. Mount St Joseph’s, Milperra, is a school which caters for 638 pupils. There are 14 lay teachers and 12 nuns at the school. The fees for the first and second forms are $32 a term, and, for the third and fourth forms $44 a term. These fees are paid by the poorer parents who live in my electorate. I know them; they can ill afford them. They are not getting justice from this Government. They will get justice from a Labor government because that is our policy. Certainly, that school recently has had granted to it approximately $39,000 towards the cost of a library. But that library will cost more than $39,000 and where is that money coming from? lt can come from only one source, and that is from the pockets of the parents who cai ill afford to pay it.
My children attend another school in my electorate. It is an ordinary diocesan school and I would be paid the highest salary - 1 admit it - of all the parents who have children attending that school. That school has 780 pupils, 21 lay teachers and 7 brothers. The fees for primary pupils in 5th and 6th classes are $19 a term, and for secondary pupils $52 a term. The poorer people in my area - they form the bulk of my electorate because it is a poor, working class area - must bear the cost not only of the school buildings but also of the salaries of the lay teachers who certainly are dedicated people. At this stage, they receive a salary which is only 90 per cent of the State equivalent. They are nearly all qualified or close to qualification. That they are prepared to accept a lower salary and still achieve terrific results from their pupils only highlights their dedication. Who is bearing th?_ cost of running the school? It is not this Government. This Government has contributed a measly sum to the cost of that school and its buildings. The cost of those buildings, which has been borne by the poorer section of the community in my electorate, is close to $500,000. This money did not come from the pockets of the Commonwealth or the State governments; it came from the pockets of the people living in my electorate who have children attending this school. Ail that we are seeking is justice fo: that section of the community.
The same situation applies to the primary convent schools in my area. Both St Luke’s at Revesby and St Christopher’s at Panania employ a high number of lay teachers for which the poorer section of the community, which is my electorate, are paying. All we are seeking is justice for all, but this Government is not providing justice for all. This Government’s justice favours what could be called the wealthier section of the community. 1 once heard the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) say - 1 think I am not quoting him out of context - that St Peter’s, Adelaide, is open to all. But who can qualify to go to St Peter’s, Adelaide? St Peters receives assistance which it honestly does not deserve. The same applies to the Sydney schools of Riverview, St Joseph’s College, Scots College and Kings and other similar schools. There is no justice in the application of this Government’s education policy but there will be justice when the Australian Labor Party is elected to office come 25th November or whichever date the Government chooses.
The same situation applies in the State school system in my State. I have inspected some of the poorer State schools - there are many poor ones - such as Kogarah High School. That school is not in my electorate.
– It is well represented.
– I agree. It is well represented by the honourable member for Barton, but the honourable member cannot get the funds necessary to bring that school to a decent standard. It is an absolute disgrace to see the conditions that exist at Kogarah High School. Most of the rooms do not even have any electricity connected to them. How the Government can expect pupils to study in schools like that is beyond my comprehension. That same situation does not apply in the wealthier schools. It does not apply in the schools of the more privileged. There must be justice not only in the independent schools which need justice and help; justice must also be meted out in the area of those state schools, which are also in need of help.
I have also inspected the infants school at Beverly Hills. That school had an active Parents and Citizens Association which raised over $1,000 on a project. The association applied to the New South Wales Minister for Education for permission to use the money to connect electricity to some of the schoolrooms which did not have electricity. Permission was refused. Those schools are the types of schools which should be assisted, not the wealthier schools, the schools of privilege. If we are to have justice, let us have it. The Australian Labor Party will give justice to all the people of Australia when it gains office on 25th November.
– I think that the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) is a little out of touch with the changes which have been brought into the House by the Government, because he made out a most eloquent case for the Government action which has been foreshadowed. I was glad to hear a member of the Opposition talking about the needs of Catholic schools. The honourable member for Banks spoke about the needs of Catholic schools in his electorate and said that they should receive preferential treatment. If the honourable member had read the Estimates he would know that over the next 5 years S48m will be made available for independent schools. The allocation of that money within the independent schools system is the responsibility of a single committee within each State. In other words, all the independent schools within each State have to submit their proposals to that committee, and the allocation of the money will be made on the basis of need. If the Catholic schools in the honourable member’s electorate can prove that need against the requirements of similar independent schools, they will be allocated that money. So the honourable member should take a closer look at the Government’s proposed legislation. Because he is a fair man I am sure he will agree that this is a realistic and logical way of allocating these funds for capital development.
I want to make it quite clear that the Government’s attitude to education is broadly to achieve greater educational opportunities for all school children and to improve the overall quality of education. This is something which is often forgotten by those people who talk only about money figures in relation to education. The Government has the view that it is just not good enough to forget about quality and go for quantity. We think that a tremendous amount of emphasis should be placed on the quality of education provided and we seek to provide this quality of education for all children in all schools. To achieve this aim, it is an absolute requirement that the dual system of education be continued. In the time available we cannot debate at length the manner in which the education proposals of the Opposition would detract from this aim. The Opposition’s proposals would have the effect of a slow death for the independent schools system. The Government aims to use the federal system, not aiming to concentrate all power in some nebulous schools commission operating in Canberra. I would like to hear some of the many spokesmen for the Australian Labor Party - official and unofficial - spell out in some detail just how this proposed schools commission would work. I have heard competing statements by various members of the Opposition on what is proposed for this schools commission. I would like it to be made quite plain what it would do and exactly how it would do it.
I spoke about educational opportunities. One of the areas in which a lot remains to be done is that relating to isolated children. The children falling into that category need more emphasis placed on their welfare by education authorities. I am speaking particularly about children in isolated homesteads in the backblocks areas of Australia, about children in schools in (he smaller communities in Australia, about the problems of schooling children in new settlements which may occur as a result of some mineral discovery or ore processing moves - in other words the problems of children in areas in which educational facilities cannot be brought quickly and readily to bear. I would also like to see an open university in Australia. I realise that some universities - particularly Macquarie University in New South Wales and the University of New England - have open university type functions, but I do not think they are extensive enough. I would like to see the inauguration of an Australia-wide open university. I believe this would provide a great educational stimulus throughout the country and particularly for those people living in isolated areas and new communities.
I believe it is possible to cover or go a long way towards covering both these requirements - the needs of isolated children and the creation of a nation-wide open university - by Australia acquiring and utilising the facilities of its own communications satellite. I mentioned this matter earlier this year in an appropriation debate. The technology of a communications satellite is now sufficiently advanced, to the point where individual receivers are quite a feasible proposition. One of the chief arguments in the past against the utilisation of a communications satellite was that the ground receivers for television programmes beamed from such a satellite were so expensive as to make the whole thing unrealistic. On my recent trip to the United States of America I was taken to visit a factory which is responsible for the construction of communications satellites. It has built the Intelsat satellites and has just completed a domestic communications satellite for Canada which will be launched on 1st November this year.
There is a workable design for a communications satellite which has now reached the point where, for a cost of less than $1,500, a receiving antenna can be built and placed on the ground. Of course, this opens up all sorts of possibilities particularly in relation to isolated homesteads, isolated schools and isolated communities. I believe that one of the television bands could be utilised or incorporated in the relay system of the satellite to provide school broadcasts aimed particularly at children in isolated areas but aimed also at providing an open university available to everybody throughout Australia. This would go a long way towards creating a better overall national feeling of unity. It would provide high quality programmes, again to people throughout the country. In my view, it would do a great deal towards expanding the educational opportunities of a lot of children and a lot of adults who are at present virtually disenfranchised because of their geographic position.
I commend this suggestion to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I believe that the Department of Education and Science should look very closely at contributing to the overall cost of the procurement and setting up of the necessary facilities to enable Australia not only to own but also to utilise effectively such a miracle of modern technology in a way which, I believe, would advantage a tremendous number of Australians.
– It is a pleasure to commence my remarks in this debate by agreeing with the previous speaker, the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar). I think he has done a service by raising the question of an open university in the debate on the Estimates. I agree with his plea. I trust that the purpose that such an open university would serve will be well and truly investigated. I invite the honourable member to read the reports of the debates of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Paris in 1971 when a resolution concerned with the use of communications satellites for an exchange of educational and other material between countries was debated. The scope of the estimates clearly indicates the changing role of the Commonwealth in education. The question we must ask ourselves is whether the Commonwealth, or this Government, is playing an effective role in education in these changing circumstances. What relationship do the efforts it is making bear to the needs survey of the States in 1970? lt is very hard to draw firm conclusions from the propositions which have been put forward by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) because they are put forward on a 5-year basis. The initial amounts provided sound very good until one realises that they are spread over 5 years.
– And over 6 States.
– And in 6 States. This indicates that what sounds like a bonanza is a very meagre pittance indeed. I want to pass some comments on pre-school education. Probably the most favoured area in pre-school education in Australia today is the Australian Capital Territory. The Commonwealth Government makes some contribution to research into pre-school education but I wonder whether the scope of this research will provide enough information on the provision of pre-school education in the States, including whether such pre-school education is the proper responsibility of education authorities or health authorities. It must be admitted that there is some debate throughout the world on whether pre-school education is really necessary, but the evidence would strongly come down on the side of the theory that in these years, the most formative years, of the individual pre-school education is essential for their future progress and education. Yet in Victoria at least 10,000 children are denied a pre-school education, and that is a conservative estimate. For some children in Victoria to receive preschool education they must attend private institutions to which they pay about $50 a term.
The tragedy is that in relation to the distribution of the provision of pre-school education it is the already economically deprived areas, such as the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne, which are tragically short of such facilities and so the children in those areas are further disadvantaged in their future education. The strain of providing these facilities is largely on local government in the provision of kindergartens. This is an unfair strain. The Commonwealth should interest itself more in this area and provide direct grants for capital and recurrent expenditure in preschool education. Much has been made of the grants that are made for science blocks and libraries. The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) was recently informed that 93 per cent of the richest private schools in Australia had science blocks and that 53 per cent of them had libraries. We should compare that situation with that in the Victorian government school system. An old colleague of mine, the honourable member for Deer Park in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, asked the following question on 19th September 1972 of the Minister for Education in that State:
Which State high and technical schools are not expected to have - (a) science blocks; and (b) libraries, established with Commonwealth funds, at the commencement of the 1973 school year?
I seek leave to have the answer to that question incorporated in Hansard. I have shown it to the Minister and he has agreed.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Mr THOMPSON (Minister of Education); The answer is
The following high schools are not expected to have science blocks established with Commonwealth funds at the commencement of the 1973 school year:
Altona, Ararat, Bayswater, Beaufort, Bendigo, Bendigo G, Birchip, Blackburn S, Boort, Braybrook, Broadford, Brunswick G, Casterton, Castlemaine, Charlton, Coburg, Cohuna, Collingwood, Dandenong G, Daylesford T, Derrinallum, Dimboola M, Donald, Drouin, Eaglehawk, Euroa, Flemington G, Geelong, Golden Square, Hawkesdale, Heidelberg G, Heywood, J. H. Boyd, Kaniva, Koo-wee-rup, Kyabram, Lake Bolac, Lakeside, Lalor, La Trobe, MacRobertson G, Malvern G, Maroondah, Matthew Flinders G, Merbein, Mildura, Mirboo N, Moe, Monbulk, Monterey, Moorabbin, Mortlake, Mount Waverley, Myrtleford, Nathalia, Neerim S, Newborough, Northcote, Numurkah, Oberon, Orbost, Parkdale, Pascoe Vale G, Preston E, Rainbow, Richmond G, Robinvale, Rochester, Rutherglen, St Arnaud, Seymour, Shepparton, Shepparton G, Springvale, Stawell, Sunshine W, Terang, Thornbury, Timboon, Trafalgar, Upper Yarra, Vermont, Warracknabeal, Warragul, Wattle Park, Wedderburn, Westall, Williamstown G, Wodonga, Yallourn, Yarram, Yarrawonga, Yea.
The above list does not include the schools where such projects are under construction and the new school where the science blocks will bc provided from State loan funds.
The following technical schools are not expected to have received aid from Commonwealth funds for science blocks at the commencement of the 1973 school year:
Bairnsdale, Balcombe A.A.S., Ballam Park, Ballarat S. of M., Batman Automotive Seh., Bendigo I.O.T., Box Hill T.C., Brighton, Broadmeadows, Broadmeadows West, Brunswick, Castlemaine T.C., Caulfield I.O.T., Cobden, Coburg, Collingwood T.C., Dandenong, Daylesford, Echuca,
Emily McP. Coll., Footscray I.O.T., Frankston, Geelong, Gippsland I.O.A.E., Gordon I.O.T., Hamilton, Huntingdale, Jordanville, Kangaroo Flat, Knox, Lilydale, Maryborough T.C., Melb. Seh. Hair., Melb. Seh. Paint., Melb. Coll. Print., Melb. Coll. Textiles, Monterey, Moorabbin, Prahran C.O.T., Prahran T.S., Richmond T.C., R.M.I.T., Sandringham, Shepparton Sth., Sunshine Nth., Swinburne C.O.T., Swinburne T., Templestowe, Vic. Railways T.C., Warrnambool I.O.A.E., Warrnambool Nth., Wm. Angliss C.C. & F.S., Wodonga, Wonthaggi.
The following high schools are not expected to have libraries established with Commonwealth funds at the commencement of the 1973 school year:
Alexandra, Altona, Altona North, Ararat, Ashwood, Avondale Heights, Bacchus Marsh. Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Ballarat East, Ballarat Girls, Balmoral, Balwyn, Banyule, Bayswater, Beaufort, Beaumaris, Beechworth, Belmont, Benalla, Bendigo, Bendigo Girls, Bentleigh, Birchip, Blackburn, Blackburn South, Bonbeach, Boort, Boronia, Box Hill (Boys), Braybrook, Brighton, Broadford, Broadmeadows, Brunswick, Brunswick Girls, Buckley Park, Burwood, Canterbury Girls, Casterton, Castlemaine, Caulfield, Chadstone, Chandler, Charlton, Cheltenham, Cobram. Coburg, Cohuna, Colac, Collingwood, Corryong, Croydon, Dandenong, Dandenong Girls, Daylesford, Derrinallum, Dimboola, Donald, Donvale, Doveton, Drouin, Eaglehawk, Echuca, Edenhope, Eltham, Essendon, Euroa, Fitzroy, Fitzroy Girls, Flemington, Flemington Girls, Footscray, Footscray Girls, Foster, Geelong, Geelong North, Golden Square, Greythorn, Hamilton, Hampton, Hawkesdale, Healesville, Heidelberg, Heidelberg Girls, Heywood, Highett, Hopetoun, Horsham, Huntingdale, Hurstbridge, J.H. Boyd, Kaniva, Karingal, Kerang, Kew, Koonung, Koo-wee-rup, Korumburra, Kyabram, Kyneton, Lake Bolac, Lakeside, Lalor, La Trobe, Leongatha, Lyndale, Macleod, Maffra, Malvern Girls, Mansfield, Maribyrnong, Maroondah, Maryborough, Melbourne (Boys), Mentone Girls, Merbein, Merrilands, Mildura, Mirboo North, Moe, Monash, Monbulk, Monterey, Moorabbin, Moorleigh, Mooroopna, MordiallocChelsea, Moreland, Mortlake, Morwell, Mount Beauty, Mount Waverley, Murrayville, Murrumbeena, Murtoa, Myrtleford, Nathalia, Neerim South, Newborough, Newlands, Nhill, Noble Park, Norlane, Northcote (Boys), Norwood, Numurkah, Oakleigh, Oberon, Orbost, Ouyen, Paisley, Pakenham, Parkdale, Pascoe Vale Girls, Portland, Prahran, Preston East, Preston Girls, Queenscliff, Rainbow, Red Cliffs, Reservoir, Richmond, Richmond Girls, Ringwood, Robinvale, Rochester, Rosebud, Rushworth, Rutherglen, St Albans, St Arnaud, Sea Lake, Seymour, Shepparton, Shepparton Girls, Springvale, Stawell, Sunbury, Sunshine, Sunshine West, Swan Hill, Tallangatta, Terang, Thornbury, Timboon, Trafalgar, Traralgon, University, Upfield, Upper Yarra, Upwey, Vermont, Wangaratta, Warracknabeal, Warragul, Warrnambool, Wattle Park, Wedderburn, Werribee, Westall, Williamstown, Williamstown Girls, Wodonga, Wonthaggi, Yallourn, Yarram, Yarrawonga, Yea.
The following technical schools are not expected to have received aid from Commonwealth funds at the commencement of the 1973 school year:
Altona Nth, Ararat, Aspendale, Bairnsdale, Balcombe. Ballam Park, Ballarat S. of M., Ballarat Nth. Batman Automotive Sch., Benalla, Bendigo I.O.T., Blackburn, Box Hill T.C., Brighton, Broadmeadows, Broadmeadows West, Brunswick, Burwood, Castlemaine T.C., Caulfield I.O.T., Caulfield T.S., Clayton, Cobden, Coburg. Colac, Collingwood, Corio, Dandenong, Daylesford T. & H. S., Doveton, Doveton Nth, Dromana, Echuca, Emily McP. Coll., Femtree Gully, Footscray I. O.T.. Frankston, Geelong, Geelong East, Geelong West, Gippsland I.O.A.E., Gordon I.O.T., Hamilton, Heidelberg, Horsham, Huntingdale, Jordanville, Kangaroo Flat, Knox, Lilydale, Macleod, Maryborough, Melb. Sch. Hair., Melb. Sch. Paint., Melb. Coll. Print., Melb. Coll. Textiles, Mildura, Monterey, Moorabbin, Mooroolbark, Morwell, Niddrie, Noble Park, Portland, Prahran C.O.T., Prahran T.S., Preston I.O.T., Preston T.S., Preston East, Richmond T.C., Ringwood, R.M.I.T., Sale, Sandringham, Sebastopol, Shepparton T.C., Shepparton Sth. St Albans, Stawell, Sunshine Nth, Swan Hill, Swinburne C.O.T., Swinburne T.S., Syndal, Templestowe, Tottenham, Traralgon, Vic. Railways T.C., Warragul, Warrnambool I.O.A.E., Warrnambool Nth, Watsonia, Wm. Angliss C.C. & F.S., Williamstown, Wodonga, Wonthaggi, Yallourn.
– This answer shows that in Victoria there are 93 State high schools without science blocks, and this does not include schools where such projects are under construction or new schools where science blocks will be provided from State loan funds. There are 54 technical schools without science blocks, 210 high schools without libraries and 97 technical schools without libraries. This shows the tragic situation in that State with regard to the provision of these facilities in government schools. I regret that such a large number of those schools are in the electorate of Scullin or its vicinity, although those areas are no more deprived than many country areas. One would think that members of the Australian Country Party, who help form the Government, would be a lot more active in seeing that these facilities were provided for country children in Victorian schools. It is seen to be a case of criminal neglect when one reads the list of schools without those facilities.
Turning now to universities - and Latrobe University happens to be in my electorate - the structuring of our universities has always been such as to try to preserve their autonomy. However, the Australian Universities Commission plays a very substantial role by its control of the finances that are available, and through manipulation of those finances it can formulate many of the policies which universities have to follow. There has been recent comment by visitors to this country that the failure rate in Australian universities is far higher than it is overseas and that the standards expected here are far too high. One wonders whether it is not time to assess the whole problem of whether many of those who fail in their courses at university would not have obtained meaningful qualifications for use in the community if a different attitude had been taken to their future education. The money that has been allocated to these universities is such that the vice-chancellor of Latrobe University a month ago was forced to say that Latrobe University would be struggling for cash over the next triennium. His comment was that staff increases could be affected by the situation because salaries have to be paid from recurrent expenses. He said he hoped that the University would be able to maintain the present staff-student ratio which, by international standards, is not necessarily a good one. He said, as was reported in a newspaper article:
We will be struggling … but we will try to hold the line.
A great deal of consideration has to be given to the question of how these universities are to continue. Even more trenchant is the criticism of colleges of advanced education by Dr Phillip Law. He points out that the allocations made ‘for an old, underprivileged system faced with increased enrolment demands and heavy inflationary pressures, together with commitments for new campus constructions, are inadequate’. He further commented that the severe reduction of the recommended unmatched grants for college libraries was a bitter disappointment and that no single omission will be felt more painfully than this. He said:
We had hoped for a significant move towards remedying the pitiful inadequacies of our library system.
If we take this in conjunction with the pitiful inadequacies in the provisions for government secondary schools in Victoria we can see how the effect will be potentiated. I regret that the Government has not taken any notice of the needs survey undertaken in 1970 and that, far from living up to its promises in respect of education, it has been derelict in its duty to many young people in the community.
– I would like firstly to express appreciation as I am sure we are all appreciative, to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and his Department for the trouble they have taken in preparing for our use explanations of the estimates for that Department for 1972-73 in which they have dealt item by item with the whole of the estimates. This is an invaluable help to honourable members in examining the estimates for the current year. The estimates for 1972-73 show progress in all aspects of the Commonwealth’s role in education. The departmental report for 1971, which was recently tabled, demonstrated clearly the increasing participation of the Commonwealth in the field of education and science. The increased expenditure proposed for the current financial year will enable continuous improvement in the quality and availability of education throughout Australia. I believe that it is not sufficiently recognised in the community that the Commonwealth provides the major part of the current revenues of the States. Direct expenditure by the Commonwealth on education this financial year will go up by $72m to a total of $426m. In addition to general financial assistance, specific payments to the States for education are estimated to increase this year by $44m to a total of $250m. As the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) pointed out, additional payments to the States, including capital grants for school construction, secondary school science laboratories and libraries, technical colleges and teachers colleges, and per capita grants for independent schools, will go up by $30m to an estimated total of $1 12m.
A sum of $1 38m has been allocated to universities and colleges of advanced education. The allocation to the University of Queensland, if I may refer to my own State for a moment, is not as great as had been hoped for in the next triennium. Nevertheless, I understand that every effort will he made to maintain the steady improvement that has been made during the last couple of years. I do not consider it fair or desirable that the University of Queensland should suffer financially in any way because of the development of Griffith
University, even though it is desirable that a second university be developed in Brisbane. At the present time approximately 125,000 students are enrolled at the 15 universities throughout Australia and, on present plans, 18 universities will be functioning by the end of the next triennium, which will mean a substantial increase in overall enrolments. Colleges of advanced education, provided with funds under a system similar to that of the universities, are playing an increasingly important role and, indeed, they are playing a more clearly defined role than hitherto in the field of tertiary education. I do not think that too much emphasis can ‘be placed on the importance of research in relation to education. I am very pleased that the Government is proposing to set aside a substantially increased sum of $20m in the 1973- 75 triennium to cover grants for research projects recommended by the Australian Research Grants Committee.
Having regard to Australia’s geographical situation and the changing state of the world, I believe there is an urgent need to encourage in this country the study of Asian languages and culture. I support wholeheartedly the Government’s proposal to allocate $1.5m over a 5-year period for this purpose. Quite frankly, I personally would have been very happy to support a larger allocation because the major changes in our region mean that we must orient our thinking much more than previously to the countries to the north and north-west of Australia. Another very welcome set of proposals relates to Commonwealth scholarships. The major extension of Commonwealth scholarships at both secondary and tertiary levels will help many families and bring the opportunity for wider and higher education within the reach of many more thousands of students. This is a good thing. I have very much pleasure indeed in supporting the proposed estimates for the Department of Education and Science for the financial year 1972- 73.
– I want to draw attention to what I regard as a policy of discrimination against country students in comparison with city students. Not only has this situation been allowed to continue by the Federal Government but also it has been worsened by the policies that the Government has pursued in relation to Commonwealth scholarships, Commonwealth library grants and Commonwealth science grants. The first thing I want to draw to the attention of the House is the relationship between the drop-out rates of children in country schools in Victoria and those of the children in city schools. These rates are most alarming and nothing at all has been done about them. They are being allowed to continue. Any improvement that may take place will take place in spite of the discriminatory policies that this Government pursues.
Looking at the number of students who entered their first year of secondary education in Victoria in 1965 and the number pf students still enrolled in their last year of secondary education in 1970, one finds that in the metropolitan area 34 per cent of the students who started off in their first year of secondary education were still enrolled at the matriculation level. In country schools only 23 per cent were still enrolled. In other words, a child who is born and lives in the city areas has about a 50 per cent greater chance of completing his secondary education than the child who lives in one of the country areas. If we look at the regional breakdown we see just how much more severe the pattern is. For example, looking at the figures for my own electorate of Bendigo in Victoria, approximately 21.5 per cent of the pupils who started their secondary education in 1965 were still enrolled in 1970 for their final or matriculation year of secondary education. So of the 1,395 pupils who were enrolled in the first form in 1965, only 288 were still enrolled for matriculation in 1970. Let us compare these figures with those in the more affluent areas of Melbourne. If we look at the central suburbs of Melbourne, we find that 50 per cent of the children who began their first year of secondary education were still enrolled in 1970 for their final year of secondary education. So it can be seen that children who happen to be born in the Bendigo, Maldon and Castlemaine regions of Victoria have less than half the chance of continuing on to their final secondary year of education that the children born and educated in the central suburbs of Melbourne have.
The basic point I want to deal with here - I cannot tackle all of them - is simply the difference in income and the difference in the facilities being provided in these 2 areas. The schools with which I am concerned are in the general area of Bendigo, Castlemaine and Maldon. They are predominantly government schools and Catholic schools. They take in quite a wide range of the community but in particular they take in a large sector of the community who are on fairly low incomes by comparison with those people in the central suburbs of Melbourne such as Prahran, St Kilda, Camberwell, Hawthorn, Essendon and Kew. These areas contain such schools as Xavier College, Scotch College and the Methodist Ladies College.
Let us look to see how the drop-out rates in these areas compare with the sorts of schools that are available. In the Bendigo area approximately 68 per cent of students enrolled in their final year attend government schools, 26 per cent attend Catholic schools, and a small percentage - 6 per cent - attend another private school, the Girton Church of England Girls Grammar School, which is not too wealthy either. Overall, 1 am talking about an area which is by no means affluent by comparison with the central suburbs of Melbourne where 39 per cent of the pupils are at government schools, 26 per cent attend Catholic schools and 35 per cent attend private schools. In the central suburbs of Melbourne people can afford to pay anything up to $1,000 a year to send their children to fairly well endowed, affluent schools. What is more, they can afford to keep them there until matriculation and thus increase their opportunities of going to university, increase their opportunities of receiving a Commonwealth scholarship at attend university, and increase their opportunities of obtaining job satisfaction and, for the rest of their lives, an income which is high by comparison with what the children in my own electorate will earn.
In the Bendigo electorate as a whole, these inequalities occur in areas other than those with which I have been dealing so far. Of the children who attend state secondary high schools and technical schools, one in every 15 is from a family which earns less than the minimum wage.
Seven per cent or 350 out of the 6,200 children attending state secondary schools and technical schools in my electorate are from families which earn less than $51.50 per week. This is an area of very grave need. These are the children who should be getting the maximum assistance from the Commonwealth Government so that they can complete their final year of secondary education and go on to tertiary education as far as their abilities will take them. One of the major factors militating against them is the tremendous cost of education and the flagrant discriminatory policies that this Government still pursues in relation to its Commonwealth secondary scholarship scheme.
Let us make comparisons between the different areas. The students attending some of the private schools in the central suburbs of Melbourne are winning Commonwealth scholarships on a large scale. The ratio is probably ] in 4 at schools like the Methodist Ladies College, Xavier College or Scotch College. Probably up to 1 in 4 of these pupils receives a Commonwealth scholarship, whereas in the Bendigo electorate I have worked out that only about 8 per cent of the pupils who sit for scholarships receive them. In other words, only 1 in 25, or 4 per cent, of all those students at fourth form level in this area who are eligible for a scholarship receive one. Over the whole period that this Commonwealth secondary scholarships scheme has been in operation, the Bendigo Girls High School has won 4 scholarships. In other words it has won a total of abou’. $2,000 since 1965. I do not have the exact figures for the Methodist Ladies College but I am prepared to estimate that over 300 scholarships have been won, worth about $250,000.
It is interesting to look, as I will try to do in a few minutes, at the total income the various schools get from the Commonwealth Government. Looking at the new Commonwealth secondary scholarships scheme, the fact that for the first time since 1965 a means test has now been introduced into this scheme is in itself a condemnation of a consistent policy of discrimination in favour of the children from more affluent families. This Government has persistently pursued this policy but now it has been changed. But it will not make a scrap of difference by bringing in a means test after a child has sat for an examination. It will not make a scrap of difference to the child in the country school, the child from the working class family, the child from the migrant family and all those whom we regard as being in the low income section of the community. It will not make a scrap of difference because the means test is applied through this scheme itself which has been convincingly proved over and over again to be discriminatory against a child who happens to be born into a lower income family. Those children will not win a scholarship now. They have not won them in the past. What a waste this scheme is.
By now the Commonwealth Government has squandered probably a large part of the $45m spent so far on secondary scholarships on children who in any case would have gone on to their final year and who would have gone on to university regardless of the Commonwealth secondary scholarships scheme. It has squandered probably $2m already on running examinations. In addition it is now going to make the costs of running examinations even dearer because it will have to test 25,000 pupils and on top of that it will have to apply a means test to 25,000 people. I can guarantee right now that not more than 30 per cent of the pupils who will get scholarships in the future will be getting the full allowance of $250, and that is a very generous estimate because the simple fact is that the children who come from low income families do not win these scholarships in the first place. What it will mean is that more scholarships will go to children from families with average weekly earnings to the higher income families but the children who are in maximum need in the community will not get assistance at all.
I want very briefly to look at the way in which the Commonwealth Government is ignoring this pattern of inequality. Through its policy of ignoring need it is providing facilities for schools which should be last on the waiting list. I do not say they should not get assistance. I think they should be last on the waiting list. The assistance is not going to the schools which should be first on the list. The Bendigo Girls High School has so far obtained not more than $18,000 from the “Commonwealth Government. That consists of about $2,000 worth of scholarships and $16,000 worth of science laboratory facilities. By comparison, the Methodist Ladies College at Kew will have received $2,014,300 worth of assistance from 1964 to 1977, i.e., over the next 5 years and since the Commonwealth science laboratory scheme came into operation in 1964. The Methodist Ladies College at Kew has won $250,000 worth of scholarships, it has been guaranteed $346,000 worth of science laboratories and $200,000 worth of libraries. It has already received for secondary pupils $295,350 worth of per capita grants since 1970 and over the next 5 years it will be guaranteed by the Commonwealth per capita grant payments of $922,950. I simply say that this is a distortion; it is a perversion and an injustice. The money should be provided first of all to children who need it and that means those children in the inner suburban areas and country areas. So long as this policy of ignoring need continues there will be children whose abilities cannot be utilised to the maximum simply because they are victims of the family income situations into which they happen to be born.
– I agree, with the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) that there are certain inadequacies in rural education. However, I suggest that the raw statistics on the percentage of those children who begin secondary education and continue right through to completing that education are coloured somewhat by the number of country children who for no other reason, because it is the only way they can complete their secondary education, have to leave the State system in country areas and finish their education in the non-government section of education. As well as highlighting the inadequacy of rural education, this highlights one other point and that is that the. proposal to work out a reasonable and sensible means test for education as is suggested by the Opposition is a hopeless objective. The Opposition’s argument is that a means test applies only to a school and pays no attention to the. need or the abilities of the parents concerned. In many rural areas there are parents who cannot afford to send their children away to pri vate schools. But if their children are to receive a secondary education they have no alternative to sending them to a private school. This makes a complete mockery of a means test applied at the school level.
I welcome the Commonwealth Government’s initiative that has been taken in several special fields of primary and secondary education. I support the increased per capita grants which are being provided for non-government schools and also the. capital grants for school construction and reconstruction in both the private and Government sectors. I am told that this will mean a 25 per cent increase in State government school construction programmes. I suggest that before anybody starts to talk too much about whether or not a needs survey has shown that $l,400m or $1.500m is required for government school construction programmes over the years ahead and before anybody starts to make this sort of criticism they should wait and see whether the States themselves can achieve this increased level of construction. Already in several programmes sponsored by the Commonwealth Government the States have not been able to match the increased finance that is now available to them.
I support the other forms of special assistance for education, such as migrant education, Aborigines and handicapped children. I add my support to those speakers who have mentiond another special group of children who should receive some attention from the Commonwealth Government, and that is country children. So far discussion on country children has been basically around isolated children. I will support any move that the Government makes to help this group of children but the group of children about whom I want to talk is not those in isolated areas, it is the next group of country children who live in the small country towns or who live on farms surrounding these towns. It is very hard for them to obtain adequate secondary education because, the school facilities are just not there. The alternatives for these children is to have a long school bus ride, sometimes involving several hours a day in travel; to be boarded privately or in a hostel in the nearest town which is of any consequence and which has some form of adequate secondary education or to be sent away to private boarding schools.
This is a problem in country communities and it will get worse because there is a drift in population away from some of these areas and this means that the facilities with which to educate the children will deteriorate rather than improve. Because of the lack of employment opportunities both on the farm and off the farm in rural areas there is an increased need for a more diverse form of education to be available to these people so that they can be better trained to enable them to obtain employment should they have to move to some other district. The Commonwealth Government recognises this problem because it provides a living away from home allowance.
– Your Government has reduced employment.
– I have some concern for the education of country children. If certain members of the Opposition do not, perhaps they can express it when their turn comes to speak. The Commonwealth Government recognises the problem of living away from home as it affects country children in areas like the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. 1 believe that Victoria is the only State that does not provide some assistance either through hostels oi some other form of living away from home allowance. The levels of allowance vary tremendously State by State. In some States the means test is applied, and so on. I nsk the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to consider taking a new Commonwealth initiative to provide a flat rate living away from home allowance for those children who have to leave their home, whether it is in a small country town or on a farm, in order to complete or obtain adequate secondary education. A flat rate living away from home allowance could be used either for payment of hostel fees in areas where hostels are provided, or for private boarding facilities in the town nearest to the secondary school which they attend. If they wish to do so the students could use the funds to help meet the fees at private nongovernment boarding schools.
In the time remaining to me I want to refer to some of the work of the Common wealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and, in particular, to the field of animal reproduction. Some months ago I had some correspondence with the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Fraser) concerning a new technique in animal breeding called ova transplant. A considerable amount of research work has been done on this new technique, particularly in England. 1 believe it has now reached the stage where more applied research or development research is required for its application in Australia. Less than 2 weeks ago 1 was at a private property outside Melbourne where $30,000 has been spent on an ova transplant laboratory. This technique offers tremendous potential fo.speeding the transfer of superior genetic material in the cattle industry. I was rather disappointed that the correspondence I had with CSIRO indicated that it considered that this technique was rather esoteric an. that its commercial application was still some time in the future. 1 do not believe this is so at all. I think that the potential of the utilisation of this technique is tremendous. lt can do for the genetically superior cow what artificial insemination has done for the genetically superior bull. With superovulation techniques, in one season a superior cow can produce more offspring than previously she was able to produce in a lifetime. The cattle industry has as few genetically superior cows as it has genetically superior bulls. I hope CSIRO or another body that can do this work with funds from the Australian Meat Research Committee will sponsor the development work on the transplant technique and on the superovulation technique which I think is necessary for their final commercial exploitation.
– 1 want to say a few words about the special appropriation in the estimates for teachers colleges. I notice that in 1972-73 $16,378,000 is appropriated. This is the final year of the triennium that is to end in June 1973. The Commonwealth made S30m available to the States for the building of teachers colleges during this term. This appropriation means that little more than half of the allocation has been used by the last year of the triennium. In 1971-72 $13,040,000 was appropriated but only $11,152,309 was spent. The question which readily comes to mind is: How is it that
States which are so sorely in need of teachers college development have not been able to spend the money that has been provided to them? I hope that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) may know the answer to this question and will be good enough to indicate why this money is unspent. In fact, in the last year of the triennium we have now to spend almost half of the allocation for the triennium.
I should like to know whether these funds are available for remodelling or restructuring existing teachers colleges. The utterly deplorable state of some of our tertiary institutions called teachers colleges has been drawn to my attention very recently. I take as an example the Alexander Mackie teachers college in Sydney. I shall give a few points about this college. For 829 students Alexander Mackie library has a seating capacity of 88. There are no private study rooms, as in high schools; no space for language laboratories and no air conditioning or adequate soundproofing. I turn now to the buildings and accommodation. Students and lecturers are forced to conduct lectures in physical education store rooms with poor ventilation and seating facilities. The noise level from Oxford Street, Green Street and Victoria Barracks reaches such a critical level that lecturers are virtually drowned out. This is the relevance of the lack of air conditioning. The poor planning of the college is exemplified by the toilet facilities. For a total of 600 females there are only 10 toilets - 8 useable; and for 200 males there are 12. Ventilation is completely unhygienic. I could go on and give examples of what is not there for sporting facilities and practical rooms. Demountables or portable classrooms are used in this place which is supposed to be a tertiary institution - an institution to train people who will have the responsibility of training our young people.
I used to be a lecturer at Sydney Teachers College. I know what a derelict state that once great teachers college was allowed to reach. I am wondering why the funds are not reaching places like this. A former high school is now the Westmead Teachers College in Sydney. I think something of the same situation exists in Lismore and, if I am correct, at Newcastle Teachers College. Grave deficiencies exist at this level of tertiary education, yet $2m of the appropriation is unspent by the States. I hope that the Commonwealth will take up the strong recommendation of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts following its inquiry into the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education, namely, to provide direct grants for the building of technical teachers colleges. I think the report advocated that there should be one such teachers college in each State. I had professional involvement in this field. I can only say that what I have just said about the Alexander Mackie teachers college can also be said, but in even more critical terms, about the situation at what passes as an annexe of Sydney Teachers College at the Ultimo technical teacher training college in Sydney. It has the absolute minimum of facilities. It is exceedingly cold in winter, very hot in the summer, has poor hygiene, has poor ventilation and has everything that one could imagine would detract from the performance of a student or a lecturer. I hope that the Commonwealth will look very hard at the Committee’s strong recommendation that there be a modern technical teachers college established in each State.
When I talk about technical education I am also very conscious of the fact that much of technical education is still in a pretty poor state. What I have just said about the derelict facilities, equipment, rooms and so on applies to many of the technical colleges in New South Wales and I dare say in other parts of Australia. The simple fact is that technical education, which should be at the forefront of technological advancement, often has to use equipment that is completely obsolete; instead of training people for advanced facilities and techniques, often colleges are way behind in their development. I hope that the Government has some thought about that. Whether the Government has or has not, certainly the Australian Labor Party has. The Labor Party has given a solemn undertaking that because of technical education’s close connection with the economy of the country, to say nothing of social, educational and cultural aspects, a Commonwealth Labor government would take over responsibility for this level of tertiary education, as with other levels of tertiary education, thus relieving the States of their commitment and enabling them in turn to use the resources thus released from tertiary education for pre-school, primary, secondary and special education.
The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) referred to scholarships. I thoroughly endorse his views about the new Commonwealth senior secondary scholarships. As the Committee knows, the Commonwealth is proposing to provide 25,000 of these scholarships. In division 230, subdivision 4, items 04 and 07 of this year’s Estimates there is a provision for Commonwealth secondary scholarships, finalising the present commitment. The amount provided will be $2,473,000 less than last year. But there is a new provision for Commonwealth senior secondary scholarships of $3,900,000. lt is important that honourable members should note that when those 2 appropriations are lumped together they still amount to an increase of only $1,426,000 on the amount provided last year. In other words, the 25,000 Commonwealth senior secondary scholarships to be provided this year are not expected by the Government to cost much more than these scholarships have cost in the past. So those people who quite readily point out that the Government is going to provide 25,000 Commonwealth senior secondary scholarships as compared with the provision of 10,000 last year need to have a look at the means test.
An amount of $150 is to be provided that is not subject to a means test, but the other $250 will be payable subject to the application of a means test. I think it is implicit in the Government’s figures that it expects many of the students who win these scholarships to be, as in the past, the sons and daughters of wealthy parents who would not therefore qualify for a living allowance. That is my reading of the figures and that is the expectation. Of course, it will still mean that three out of every four of the applicants for the 25,000 Commonwealth senior secondary scholarships will not be successful. Those three out of four applicants will be most likely the sons and daughters of people who most need scholarships. The means test will be applied only after the winning of a scholarship. These scholarships will be allocated on the basis of the special examination that takes place in fourth form. The means test will be applied after that. It is obvious that, once again, most of the scholarships - a disproportionately large number - will go to those children who have the best facilities and they tend to be those who come from the wealthier section of the community. This provision is not going to do much to relieve the already unhappy situation whereby only 4 per cent of the applicants in Government schools who applied for secondary scholarships in 1970 got them and only 1 per cent of those in Catholic schools who applied for scholarships got them. Of those in other private schools - more often the wealthier ones - who applied, 15 per cent, or nearly four times as many proportionately as those in Government schools, received these scholarships. I reiterate what I said last night in the debate on the States Grants (Schools) Bill 1972 that in some ways the Government’s measures are a repudiation of all its policies since 1965 onwards but in other ways it still hangs on to the inequities and inequalities that are characterised by the Commonwealth senior secondary scholarships scheme. I reiterate what I started out by saying: I would like to see a much greater commitment to the development of teachers colleges. I know that there is to be a provision for the treating of them as colleges of advanced education with both capital and recurrent facilities. That is, of course, in accordance with Labor Party policy.
– In rising to support the estimates for the Department of Education and Science 1 want to say that I strongly support the Government’s policy on education generally. In particular, I hope that it will continue to provide assistance to enable the dual system of education to continue to function. I am very much afraid that if this Government were to be voted out of office we would see the end of the dual system of education.
– The honourable member is talking rubbish now.
– The honourable member for Sturt always talks rubbish; so he would be an expert in that field if in no other. The point at issue is whether the dual system of education will be maintained. I believe that the only way in which it will be maintained is by the return of the present Government to office at the forthcoming general election. The per capita payments which are made and which have been criticised very strongly by the Opposition enable independent schools to continue at a time when 1 am sure they would not otherwise be able to carry on. The idea of trying to apply a means test to them is an impractical one and one to which I believe the independent schools themselves would be very much opposed.
In the short time that is available to me I want to talk to some extent on the subject of scholarships. I believe that the Commonwealth Government has made a very big step forward in this field. Commonwealth scholarships have provided assistance to certain students who would not otherwise have been able to take full advantage of their natural abilities. Some students have natural abilities which are worthy of being further advanced but which can be advanced only by the receipt of a scholarship. The scholarships system enables those students to take advantage of their natural abilities. 1 wish to refer firstly to the Commonwealth technical scholarships scheme, which provides for a maintenance allowance and other allowances as well as tuition fees and examination costs. There are to be 2,500 new awards each year for students entering approved courses at technical colleges and other institutions. The benefits are not to be subject to a means test. We on this side of the chamber do not believe in th: application of a means test because we feel that it is desirable that scholarships should go to those students who are best suited to a particular calling and want to pursue it. If the scholarship scheme encourages some who might otherwise not undertake this type of life it is well worth while. The benefits, which are not subject to a means test, are, in the case of full time students, worth an amount of $200 per annum for maintenance, $50 per annum for books and equipment and up to $150 per annum for tuition and other fees. Without this there could be a tendency for people nor to go on with this type of training. For parttime scholars the benefits are an allowance of $100 per annum and reimbursement of compulsory fees up to $100 per annum. The numbers in training are expected to rise from 4,348 in 1971 and 4,465 in 1972 to an estimated 4,640 in 1973. But the overall cost of the scheme is not expected to rise because a great proportion of the scholars is expected to study part time. Therefore, those scholars will receive a smaller amount in benefits per annum.
Another scheme on which I want to commend the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Government is the new one which will be introduced at the beginning of 1973 to replace the Commonwealth secondary scholarships scheme. A total of 25,000 new awards will be available each year for students entering the final 2 years of secondary schooling. Once again we have an example of the. desire on the part of the Commonwealth Government to encourage those people who are capable of this type of training to accept this way of life. The benefits consist of a maintenance allowance up to a maximum of $400 a year. All scholarship winners will qualify for $150 a year. A further S250 a year will be payable subject to a means test similar to that applying to Commonwealth university and advanced education scholarships. So, although a means test will not apply in all instances, it will apply in this particular case to obtain the maximum advantage available under the Commonwealth senior secondary scholarships scheme. I draw attention to the fact that 25,000 of these awards are to be allocated in the year 1973. That will certainly mean a greater opportunity for those students who are anxious and keen to participate in this scheme to do so. It does provide a wider field. I believe it must be conceded that the lifting of our standard of education is very desirable. This is one means by which the Government has decided it can effectively do so.
In my State of Queensland there are quite a number of Aboriginal people, particularly in the western part of the State. Therefore, I want to refer to the Aboriginal secondary grants scheme. I believe that the real way to tackle the problem of the Aboriginal people of this country is through the education of the Aboriginal people themselves. We will then be in a position where the Aborigines can encourage and set examples for their own people. I have seen this in the time that I have spent in other parts of Australia, including the Northern Territory. I am strongly convinced that the right way to tackle the problem is to set some sort of a standard for these people through their own people and, through their own people, to encourage them to take advantage of the benefits available under the Aboriginal secondary grants scheme. This scheme will assist Aboriginal children between 14 and 21 years of age to complete their secondary schooling. When I was in the Northern Territory recently as a member of the Public Works Committee looking at the rebuilding of the Kormilda College I had the opportunity of discussing with some of the students at that College the advantages they had obtained as a result of being there. I was very impressed by the students who were receiving education at that College. I am sure that this will be a very great advantage. 1 believe that the making of grants for Aboriginal children at secondary schools is a very good step in the right direction and indicates the Government’s very keen interest in the need to improve the educational standards of our Aboriginal children. Of course Aboriginal study grants are to be made but I hardly have the time to go through all the aspects that I would like to mention on this occasion because of the time that is allocated to a discussion of these estimates.
Payments to the States in various categories have been increased very greatly. One thing that caused me a bit of disappointment was that the Budget did not approve funds to assist the Isolated Childrens Parents Association, but as the Minister pointed out, by the Commonwealth Government’s action in providing financial assistance for the States to undertake educational work, which has been their special responsibility down through the years, the States should be able to assist people in remote areas. I feel very confident that the States concerned with the problem of educating isolated children will be able to do that. Assistance has been given to the States in a number of ways. The Commonwealth entered the field of education when it commenced giving financial assistance in the field of tertiary education. It followed that up by providing secondary schools with science blocks and libraries. It has assisted teacher training in the many avenues it has entered. I am hoping that as a result of the Commonwealth assistance to the States the States will be in a position to assist the Isolated Children’s Parents Association so that parents in isolated areas will be able to provide for their children what is the birthright of every child, a reasonable standard of education.
The estimates of the Department of Education and Science have covered a very broad field. They have improved the opportunities, particularly for students, to take advantage of the scholarships provided by the Commonwealth. I am sure that in the future the Government will provide even greater opportunities for many more young Australians.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I would have thought that the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), as a. distinguished member of the Country Party, might have spent some time on one of the major problems of Australian education affecting the people he particularly represents - the farmers. One of the most notable developments one finds if one travels through the country is that following the vicissitudes the farming industry has experienced over recent years many sons of the farming families, and daughters too, do not want to continue with the vocation of farming. They are looking for a form of education, and the assistance to get a form of education, which will enable them to transfer to other occupations.
– That is what the scholarships do.
– Yes, but a person does not get a scholarship just because he is a farmer. This is a sociological problem, not just an educational one.
– You are going to give it to them all.
– You would give a scholarship to them all? That is fine, 1 presume, but when we. are dealing with a farming community there are problems with boarding the students, and there are many other problems. The problems of isolated children really apply to a large, part of the farming community. While I do not profess to have any answers to this problem I think it is really one of our distinctive Australian problems, and 1 certainly want to address myself, if 1 ever have responsibility, towards solving that problem.
I want to say something about science and our national science policy, which has not had very much attention. We on this side of the House are beginning to suspect that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation needs to be liberated from a public service approach. We are also beginning to suspect that there has to be very wide consultation with scientific personalities and scientific communities in Australia to find what is the best way of formulating a national science policy. So many of our policies seem to have just grown and to have been adopted ad hoc. There are both lessons and warnings in Canada and the United States which need to be studied and which need to be applied. We cannot say that the quality of sciencific advice over the years has been what it should have been when we consider how important oceanographic studies are for a country like Australia and how very recently has action been taken in this field with the establishment of the Institute of Marine Science at Townsville and the very tardy, belated and inadequate decision about providing ships for oceanographic research. We are apparently to get one ship. If we paid attention to the. subject equivalent to that paid in the United States of America we would probably provide 3 or 4 ships. However I do not want to flog an issue which has begun to be solved with the provision of a ship. I merely say that it is quite impossible, to imagine that the scientific community of Australia would have advised that we should have postponed the acquisition of an adequate vessel at this late stage, in scientific history. There seems to be a failure in communication between the scientific community and the Government, and that has to be remedied. There must be some new means by which the scientific community may tender to the Government advice which represents the best thinking of the scientific community on fields of research.
The honourable member for Maranoa, who was just speaking on the subject of education, could not decide in the course of his speech whether the application of means tests was a good thing or a bad thing, so he ended up with the rather simplistic approach that whatever means test the Commonwealth Government has decided upon, however belatedly, was a good thing, and that anything it had not decided on was a bad thing. When one considers that the greater public schools of Australia have been going since the 1870s and the 1880s, to say that they are dependent on a comparatively recent system of grants and that if these grants were not made they could not exist seems to be rather a falsification of the educational history of Australia. The question of their existence is not a real issue. The question is: With our rising allocation of resources to education what amounts should go to the different parts of the national education system? Not one word has fallen from the Tips of the honourable member for Maranoa to justify a flat rate per capita grant for the wealthiest school and the poorest private school, except that he says that that is what the schools want. It would be a new criterion for Commonwealth governments to adopt that all the Government will give to anybody is what he wants. Of course I suppose the wealthier schools would want everything they could get. But the question is whether it is the most intelligent allocation of resources.
However, 1 want to speak about a part of education which is very important and which seems to encounter a great deal of resistance from a mumpsimus-minded conservatism, and that is pre-school education. 1 have received letters suggesting that anybody who favours pre-school education favours latch-key parents and latch-key children and that it is only a question of parents wanting to evade their obligations. Pre-school education can be very vital in establishing a child’s mental, nervous and moral stability. It can also be compensatory education for under-privileged children, as anybody who has travelled through the Northern Territory and seen Aboriginal children in the pre-schools of the Northern Territory will testify. What is more, preschool education may be educationally very significant in that disabilities from which children suffer may be detected early. Dyslexia is perfectly compatible with extremely high intelligence. Children who are dyslectic and have extremely high intelligence can conceal from their teachers for a long period the fact that they are not really reading. They can evade by their intellectual skills the correct diagnosis that they have an educational problem. Dyslexia can be cured.
The existence of the pre-school system of education enables quite a lot of the disabilities of children to be detected. The honourable member for Maranoa in speaking of the Commonwealth scholarships system failed to note the dissatisfaction with the system on the part of the people who devised it. They have endeavoured to escape from the Scylla of cramming - it is not an examination in the ordinary sense - but they have not escaped the Charybdis of the sociological and family condition of a child. A child with verbal manipulative skills, with a family background of developed conversation, approaches an examination which diagnoses those verbal skills with a great advantage. But that does not make him more intelligent, nor does it meant that he is the one who is most worthy to have a secondary education or to go on to tertiary education.
The Australian Council for Educational Research which devised the test, I would remind the honourable member, has recently made a study of the subject. I again stress that Sir Robert Menzies in introducing the system said in effect that the Government desired this scholarship system to give a secondary education to those who otherwise would not have got it. Research has established that the system gives a secondary education in about 95 per cent of instances to those who would otherwise not have got it. In this respect it contrasts violently with the system of scholarships in the United Kingdom which really does give a secondary education to those who otherwise would not have got it. These are real problems and I will not say that swift solutions are available to them. None of us in any of these educational questions can regard himself as having arrived at a final solution. Nothing is more certain than that what we are doing now will have been radically changed over the next 10 years and the real purpose of the debate ought to be to explore the best methods and not just blindly to say that whatever is being done is the best of all possible policies.
– I think it is appropriate for me to intervene briefly at this stage to reply to a number of matters which have been mentioned by honourable members. I thank them for their concern. The problems of isolated children have been mentioned. I well know that for a significant number of people, individuals and students at primary or secondary school level, this is a real problem. However, this is one of the matters to which the States hitherto have given a certain amount of attention. Because State activities have not been adequate for the changing requirements of isolated children requests have been made to the Commonwealth. I remain in close communication with the organisations fighting in the interests of isolated children. At the moment the Commonwealth is in the position at the time of the Budget where, because of much greater financial resources available to the States as a result of recent Premiers’ Conferences and Loan Council meetings, it believes that the States themselves ought to be able to make greater provision for isolated children.
I have no doubt that the people in favour of Commonwealth involvement in this area will be making further approaches to the Commonwealth but I merely point out that in this area the States have traditionally shown some interest. One State Minister of Education - if my memory is correct he is from the west - indicated that this field ought to become more completely a Commonwealth responsibility. I hope that I am not taking his name in vain. 1 do not think I am. I point out that he has some continuing responsibilities of his own in this particular area.
The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) referred to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the development of a science policy. He and all honourable members will know the decisions made and announced by the Government. They will know also the composition of the new Australian Committee on Science and Technology, its wide terms of reference, its ability to initiate studies and to make its own recommendations, and the ability requirement under the terms of reference to have annual reports, and in addition, its being available to pursue matters on its own initiative and matters which the Government might wish to refer to it. In retrospect it is possible to say that greater funds should have been devoted to one area or another of scientific research but basically Australia has performed reasonably well. One of the reasons why Australia has performed reasonably well is that it has had a body such as CSIRO to conduct a very significant level of research which has brought people together through its advisory committees. lt has brought on to the Executive of CSIRO people who have had a wide expertise and capacity to make judgments over on extraordinarily broad field. While the organisation’s own charter is quite specific, through its contacts with industry and science and through wisdom and commonsense over a successive period of years, successive Australian governments have had available to them from the organisation the kind of advice that may well not have been available to other countries which entered the field of trying to establish formal science advisory machinery earlier than we did. I do not believe that the countries which entered the field before us can claim that they have used their resources better or with greater effect. In some countries it would be possible to point to the wastage of significant funds on telescopes begun and not completed, sophisticated fighter aircraft projects begun but abandoned and other matters of this kind. Australia has avoided these errors.
– Are you talking about the Fill?
– Had honourable members listened more carefully and understood me they would know quite well that I was talking about basic research into developing for a particular country its own supersonic fighter. A small overseas country entered this field, spent very large sums of money on the project and then abandoned it, recognising belatedly that it was not the kind of project that a country with its resources in a modern environment should really have entered. I gave that as an example of entering a field of scientific research which, with the wisdom of hindsight, would have been avoided. It is not related to other aspects that are not the subject of the estimates we are de-bating.
Honourable members on this side of the chamber have recognised other matters that honourable members opposite will be unwilling to recognise over the next two or three months, but thereafter on that side of the chamber there might be recognition.
I have in mind the new programmes, new developments in education and the expansion of old programmes which have taken place over the last 12 months or so. The honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) referred to problems of teacher training and said that significant sums of the unmatched capital grants programme remained to be spent in this year. The States received notice of the programme. The planning and works procedures within the States have led to an excessive part of the total programme being undertaken in its last year. The present advice available to me from the States is that they will be able to spend the funds before the end of this financial year. I certainly hope that that is right. I regret that the programmes have not been pursued more quickly and that the funds when originally available were not spent. Had the colleges designed by the States been opening their doors earlier more teachers would have been coming into the stream in Australian schools quicker than has otherwise been the case.
– Are funds available for existing old colleges?
– They would have been, but under this programme the projects supported are those to which the States have given their highest priority. This programme is now superseded by reports which this Parliament will receive before the end of March next year when the Australian Commission on Advanced Education will make its report to pick up the remaining aspects of teacher training on a triennial basis and to phase in additional recommendations in that area with the current triennium for colleges of advanced education. As I have said, this report will be available by the end of March.
A special sub-committee of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education has been appointed, dragging into the Committee additional expertise and knowledge in the field of teacher training. The subcommittee and the Commission itself will be examining the requirements of individual colleges and the views of State governments or education authorities. The one real condition that the Commonwealth wants to attach to this is that teachers colleges must be moving toward autonomy. We believe that the teaching profession demands the status and dignity of other areas of tertiary education and that the teachers colleges must be moving to a position of autonomy. In fact, the States have ali made decisions in this area.
I think that this is a notable advance in teacher training. It embraces not only the official State teachers colleges but also preschool teacher training colleges. This will give an opportunity, perhaps for the first time, to get the resources into an expansion of pre-school teacher training facilities that, over a period of years, could well go far beyond the unmatched capital grants programme of S2.5m which is still not completed because of difficulties over land and land purchase in one or two States. This is a significant advance which honourable members might recognise.
A significant point which needs to be noted is that the Commission on Advanced Education has been asked to look specifically and directly in the course of its examination of teacher training facilities at the facilities available for remedial teachers - teachers of the handicapped and of children with special learning difficulties - which are required for particular purposes where there are certain difficulties that need to be overcome.
– There would also be technical problems involved.
– This would be part of it. But I was thinking here particularly of children who suffer some kind of disadvantage or handicap. I think that this has a special significance in the light of the views that have been put and the credibility which needs to be given to the case of those who are working to overcome the problems of children with special learning difficulties.
But this is only one of the areas of education. A number of areas arc involved and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education will be examining in a fairly short time scale a number of very wide issues concerning teacher training and will be reporting to the Commonwealth before 30th March 1973. This is an important new development. We will be debating at a later stage other areas relevant to this matter so 1 will not mention them now, even though some aspects are contained in the Estimates for this year. I instance the programmes to extend the rate of construction of both government and independent schools.
I should like to mention 2 other areas where programmes have been expanded and where I hope, with experience, modifications will be able to achieve improvements. In fact, I am sure that through experience, modification, changes and new development we will achieve improvements. One of these areas is that of Aboriginal education where the study grants scheme for post school training offers a variety of courses in a number of institutions. Another area is the child migrant education programme. I can well understand people saying that this sort of programme should have been commenced years ago. The fact is that it has now commenced. We will learn from the development of the scheme in its early stages and, as a result, the scheme will be improved. I think that an honourable member mentioned figures during the debate which indicated that the programme is continually expanding. It now employs over 800 teachers and more than 30,000 children are benefiting under the programme. These are important matters which strike at areas of inequality. They are an example of the kind of policy which this Government, at any rate, would want to pursue.
The scholarships programme has come in for some criticism. It is worth noting that no sooner are changes made in the types and nature of scholarships than the new proposals attract an equivalent kind of criticism. It needs to be noted that this reveals a basic objection to the principle of scholarships. What the opponents of the scholarship proposals are really advocating is a system of payments based not on academic ability of any kind but on different criteria.
– Quite right.
– I notice that the honourable member for Bendigo says: ‘Quite right’. If a country is to advance and if people are to advance at different levels academic performance needs to be recognised.
– That is mediaeval.
– I can repeat only that it is important to recognise academic merit. While all children need to be encouraged and are encouraged, it is important under particular proposals of assistance provided by scholarships to take into account 2 things. One is the academic ability of the student in question, and the other is the particular means or circumstances of that student or of that parent. This has long been the case in the tertiary area, and the changes made in the scholarships programme in that area are more far reaching than any that have been made since the scheme was introduced in 1951. I refer to changes in the means test, the increases in the allowances and, in addition, the increase in the number of scholarships that are available.
At the secondary level the principles that have been established for so long in the tertiary area have been applied to a modified and completely changed and restructured secondary scholarship scheme. Honourable members know that the number of scholarship holders has increased from 10,000 to 25,000. The great change here is that the greater part of the assistance will go tolow income families and the, smaller part will be a reward for academic ability.
– If they win a scholarship in the first place.
– The honourable member for Barton might be very surprised to find how many of those who win such scholarships do, in fact, qualify under a means test. In the university scholarships scheme, where under the old arrangements, over 40 per cent qualified under the means test, under the new means test arrangements, because of the changes which have been made, a significantly greater proportion of scholarship winners will qualify for means tested assistance.
Actual payments at the secondary level are smaller than at the tertiary level and that, therefore, will have impact, but apart from that, the means test at the secondary level will be operating on the same basis as it operates at the tertiary level. I will be surprised if a significant number of students do not qualify for means tested support. This is a significant advance and one which will assist a large number of low income families, and all the talk from members of the Opposition cannot hide that fact.
- Mr Deputy Chairman -
Motion (by Mr Giles) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon - Minister for Education and Science) - Mr Deputy Chairman, 1 suggest that the order for the consideration of the proposed expenditures agreed to by the Committee on 31st August be varied by postponing the consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, the Department of External Territories and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
– Is the suggestion of the Minister agreed to? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, $53,598,000.
– Last night the Federal President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr J. (Gavin Johnson, appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme’This Day Tonight’ in his presidential capacity. He appeared in his official capacity, he spoke with the authority of his distinguished office and he spoke for members of the AMA. He performed 2 important services for the community. Firstly, he quickly rejected crude approaches from the Western Australian branch of the Libera! Party importuning doctors to debase their surgeries, cheapen their professional status and abuse their code of ethics by exploiting the doctor-patient relationship to disseminate Liberal Party propaganda among patients. He saw his rejection of the Liberals as a major repudiation of their despicable tactics.
In the meantime, the doleful Doctor of Philosophy and former Minister for Health without emeritus, Dr Forbes, applauded this singularly inept and offensive soliciting of doctors. In the Melbourne ‘Sun’ he is quoted as saying that the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party, in seeking to have doctors pervert their ethics and exploit patient trust, had ‘performed a major service’ in sending the letter. What an appalling lack of taste and judgment as to the proprieties of medical practice and the doctor’s special position of trust with his patient! Dr Johnson said:
It is wrong of anybody to ask doctors to use their professional privileges for political reasons.
Clearly, the AMA and the medical profession have been gravely affronted by the Liberal Party action, and the affront has been doubly compounded by the brazen endorsement of that action expressed by the former Minister for Health, Dr Forbes.
Of more importance is the second service Dr Johnson performed when he literally endorsed Labor Party policy on an important principle. He agreed that, as long as the development of any salaried medical service was based on voluntary engagement in that service by medicos, fears of such a service would not be justified. That is, he endorsed Labor policy which is substantially based on private practice, fee-for-service, preservation of the doctor-patient relationship as now but which will provide opportunity for those doctors wishing to enter a salaried service as a matter of free choice to do so. To oppose this principle is to oppose the right of choice and is to stand on the side of restriction and discrimination. Dr Johnson obviously realised this, and that is one reason why he endorsed Labor policy. The Courier Mail* today reporting on the interview led its article ‘AMA In Swing Towards Labor Health Scheme’ and commented in the body of the article as follows:
Dr Johnson’s statement is seen as a significant softening of the AMA attitude to the Labor Party’s health scheme.
There are other obvious reasons why he endorsed Labor policy from his position as Federal President of the AMA.
One suspects that the AMA is acutely embarrassed at the way in which our nettle grasping Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) grasps at AMA statements identifying them as Liberal style propaganda, with the result that there is a widespread public tendency for the AMA to be seen as a Liberal Party organ. This is a positive incentive to the AMA to deliver its rebuff to the Liberals. Most importantly would be the fact r.hat calm, reflective assessment has led the AMA to appreciate correctly that Labor’s programme has so much that is good, beneficial and needed. The AMA would be only too well aware that the Liberals’ scheme suffers from so much that is bad. lt is notorious that, after some 18 years of operation, the Liberals’ scheme is st Hi ridden with anomalies. For example, a patient requiring hospital surgery treatment but not required to undergo hospitalisation attracts no benefit for the cost of surgery. An infant under 10 days o’d where the mother is also hospitalised attracts no benefits. Where both mother and infant require expensive in-patient treatment this can be a crippling cost burden for the family.
The Nimmo report of less than 3 years ago was a savage indictment of the Government’s health insurance programme. No public enterprise would have survived the strident criticism of the ‘free enterprise’ Liberals if a thorough, impartial inquiry of the nature of the Nimmo Committee reported so trenchantly on it. Furthermore, at this late stage, key recommendations of the Nimmo report remain unattended to. The Liberals’ promise to establish a national health insurance commission - a key recommendation of the report - has been buried. Means tests persist for public ward treatment in all States except Queensland. Out-patient services have not been integrated into health insurance. The $2 a bed day subsidy for Queensland’s free hospitals was conceded unwillingly only after the Labor Party successfully initiated action in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to force this payment from the Government. People of religious conviction objecting to health insurance are still penalised by exclusion from Commonwealth medical and hospital subsidies of S2 a day in the latter case.
The participating doctor scheme was considered by Prime Minister Gorton but this and other proposals for reform of the scheme were single handedly defrayed by the present Prime Minister. Honorary and concessional services continue. In an effort to minimise wasteful practices the report recommended also that only one open fund be allowed to establish and maintain facilities in any one region. This key proposal has conveniently been forgotten. There are several other proposals too which have been neglected in spite of a clear need for major overhaul of the Liberals’ faltering system of health insurance. One that comes immediately to mind opens up further considerations of great importance. Reserves should be limited to 3 months contribution income, according to the Nimmo report. The latest figures show an accumulation of $14Sm in reserves held in investments. If the 3 months figure were applied, reserves would be reduced by more than $90m. In fact, instead of being reduced, they jumped by $20m last year.
It is totally dishonest of the Liberals to be party to this. Contributors provide their payments to the schemes for the provision of health services yet here, unknown to them, millions of dollars of their money are being diverted for other purposes. Some of it is being misused. For example, millions of dollars are loaned to private hospitals at below market rates of interest. Contributors are being compelled to provide excessive contributions so that private enterprise can have its profits subsidised. I refer lo the. misapplication of contributors’ money to fund political party campaigns. The Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia recently produced a booklet aimed at bolstering the Liberals’ campaign on health insurance. Costly overseas junkets by executive officers of funds - often accompanied by their wives or friends - are all paid for by contributors. Presently there are 20 such officials living it up at an international conference on health insurance. They stay at the best international hotels while the poor old contributor stays at home and provides the cash to pay for this lavishness. Anyway, why should 20 officials be riding this gravy train?
There should be a full and open public inquiry into the way in which contributors’ money is being handled by these funds. The Government should be nailed on why it persists as accomplice to this thoroughly immoral business of funds milching contributors with excessive contribution rates so that the sort of misuse of the money I have already outlined will be ended. The community could well do with some explanation for why there has been a 194 per cent jump in the Commonwealth’s subsidy for medical benefits since 1969. The Commonwealth’s subsidy has gone from $49.6m in 1969 to $148.6m this year. This skyrocketing has occurred during the period of the common fee and all of its abuse by doctors. That the common fee has been a bonanza for the medical profession is undeniable. In the last 5 years doctors’ gross incomes jumped 80 per cent in a period when the average weekly earnings moved ahead by only 47.8 per cent and the consumer price index by 18.3 per cent. The doctors are virtually half way to being fully paid public servants. Commonwealth support programmes through subsidies to medical benefits and financing of the pensioner medical service, repatriation and local medical officer services contribute half of doctors’ incomes. That is, every second dollar a doctor earns he receives directly from the Government which, of course, collects this money from the taxpayers.
Add to this the fact that about 90 per cent of the cost of training a doctor is met by taxpayers and a fairly clear picture emerges of a professional who is heavily indebted to the public and to governments, and that is a continuing and growing indebtedness. For example, 5 years ago every third dollar of a doctor’s income came from the Commonwealth; today it is every second dollar. The cost of health insurance, pensioner medical, hospital and repatriation local medical officer services will probably exceed $650m for the year just completed and that is an enormous amount of money for the scheme to stumble and bumble its way along on. Contributions will have cost in the vicinity of $350m, that is a 15 per cent increase in tax paid by contributors.
The Labor Party’s programme provides for universal contributions and universal cover, for contributions to be geared to one’s ability to pay. The scheme is equitable. There would be a Commonwealth bed subsidy of more than $13 a day, as the figures now stand, covering all hospital beds, public intermediate and private. The scheme would be based on private practice fee for service. Pensioners and repatriation local medical officer patients would be paid at the full rate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Before discussing the estimates for the
Department of Health I would first apologise for the absence of many of the doctors who sit on this side of the chamber. The reason they are not here is that we are continually receiving deputations from organisations.
– Sixty per cent of your doctors are here now.
– They have just come in. We have been talking to dentists and surgeons about what will happen next year and we will be speaking with the General Practitioners Society of Australia in a few minutes on the same subject, lt is interesting to note that their discussions with us show that they have no great confidence in the likely re-election of the present Government, and I cannot blame them for that. I would like to deal with some of the relative side issues that arise on the general question of health. One of the problems that is continually emphasised is that of over-usage. It is asked: ‘What will happen under the Labor Party scheme if it does not cost the patients anything? There will be great over-usage’. The reason suggested for over-usage is that patients who feel they needed medical attention will just visit their doctor. But what is happening at the present time? At present we have overusage resulting from the suggestions of medical practitioners themselves. We have completely unethical behaviour on the part of medical practitioners who own private hospitals. They suggest to their patients that they have operations in these private hospitals, operations which are often not necessary, or suggest that patients be admitted into the private hospitals for examinations because, in addition to the normal profit they would make, they make a profit from owning those private hospitals.
Let us look at what used to be the position of the Australian Medical Association when I went through my medical course. I was sent a booklet entitled Handbook for Qualified Medical Practitioners’ which includes a chapter on ethical considerations. There, in relation to chemists, it states that a doctor must not arrange with a chemist for the payment of a commission on business transacted, nor hold a financial interest in a chemist shop. It seems terribly reasonable to me that a doctor should not have any additional financial interest in ordering prescriptions or certain treatment for a patient. But this is peanuts compared to what is happening at the present time. The Labor Party health committee has received a deputation from the Federation of Private Hospital Proprietors. Of a total of 7 executive members of the Federation, 4 or 5 are medical practitioners. They own private hospitals. And it is suggested that they do not have a financial interest in putting people into hospital. It is quite fantastic behaviour on their part. The handbook in relation to the doctor and commercial undertakings states:
A general ethical principle is that a doctor should not associate himself with commerce in such a way as to let it influence, or appear to influence, bis attitude towards the treatment of his patients.
What more obvious commercial undertaking can a doctor engage in than the owning of a private hospital, which surely must at least appear to influence his attitude to the treatment of his patients, lt strikes me that this would be a corresponding situation to that of a crown prosecutor owning a private prison.
– Or a judge.
– Or a judge owning a private prison, so that he could make a decision whether he wanted to make an additional profit from sending someone to gaol. It is quite fantastic. The AMA talks about the Labor Party interfering in the sacred relationship where the patient owes money to the doctor, but yet the Association does not interfere in respect of the present behaviour of some medical practitioners. I can put it quite fairly when I say that the majority of medical practitioners are as disturbed about this situation as I am. They think it is ridiculous for the AMA to behave in this way to protect the big boys in the profession who own these hospitals. We know that the doctor who is president of the Federation of Private Hospital Proprietors is the Liberal Party candidate for the seat of the Australian Capital Territory. Doctors and the health insurance funds participate in the attack on the Labor Party scheme, and often they overlap in that the same people are involved on behalf of both the doctors and the funds in the publication of such things as the ‘AMA News’, the ‘AMA Gazette’, the Health Care Finance’ publications and the
Voluntary Health Insurance Council publication, which are front organisations for the Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia and the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia and its allies respectively.
At present they are continually producing new booklets such as one entitled Doctors and Health Insurance’, an attack on the Labor Party, and ‘Labor Party’s Health Scheme’, another attack on the Labor Party. In many cases where the publication is a publication of the funds, contributors’ money is being used, with the blessing of the Government, to attack the Labor Party. When I talk about ‘the blessing of the Government’ it is interesting to note that one of the people who has been most active in attacking the Labor Party is a Liberal Party member, Dr Lionel Wilson, from one of the Sydney suburbs. He is employed by the Hospitals Contribution Fund and its Health Care Finance organisation to publish one of its booklets called The Second Blessing’. The blessing is the Government’s voluntary health insurance scheme. This gentleman is now the Treasurer of the AMA and is using AMA funds, but this is not so bad because AMA members at least have a vote in respect of the disposal of their funds. But in addition HCF funds are being used - and HCF members have no say in the disposal of their funds - to attack the Labor Party.
Let us look at the propositions that are being put up by medical practitioners. One is that medical practice would collapse under the Labor Party scheme because it is suggested there could be a 25 per cent increase in the work of medical practitioners. They suggest that this increase could not be handled because doctors already are working a 70-hour week. This is quite untrue. I was in medical practice for 20 years and know that if a doctor worked flat out for 70 hours a week he would not be much of a doctor and would be earning such fantastic sums that everybody would know about it. Let us look at what happens at present. On the basis of 6 patients an hour with 10 minutes being allocated to each patient - and I put it to the House that relatively few general practitioners average only 6 patients an hour - and at the present rate of $4 a visit, a doctor would earn $24 an hour or $960 gross in a 40-hour week. If he worked the 70-hour week the medical practitioners talk about his income would be $1,680. Now let us assume that all his patients are pensioners and that he gets $3 for each patient. It would still work out at $18 an hour or $720 in a 40-hour week. His expenses at the most would come to something like $200 a week. I have been generous in my allotment for expenses, allowing $120 for salaries, $30 for rent and $50 for private expenses such as car expenses. However, as this doctor is sitting in his surgery his car expenses would not be very high. If we take off the expenses, the doctor treating only pensioners in a 40-hour week would still have an income of $520 a week, or $1300 or $1400 for a 70-hour week. I put it to honourable members that I am quite sure that there are few doctors who in fact work such long hours. There are not enough patients for them to see. Doctors just do not see that many patients. 1 would like to take up many other points, especially concerning what is to my mind a lack of ability on the part of the Department to cost our scheme. I am not necessarily blaming the officers of the Department who seem to be reasonably well paid, judging from the estimates that we are asked to pass now. Perhaps pressure is being put on them by the Acting Minister. I was about to say the present Minister, but he has not been able to talk to the officers of his Department for some considerable time and he has not influenced them in any way. I realise that my time is up but I shall try to take the opportunity during this debate to raise more of these issues.
– The nation as a whole can be proud of the work done by the previous Minister for Health, Dr Forbes, on behalf of patients throughout this country. We have a scheme that is second to none in any nation of the world today in that it combines responsible government expenditure on the one hand with efficiency of service on the other. The existing scheme offers to the individual a high standard of medical and hospital service, together with freedom of choice of doctor, hospital and benefits fund, at a moderate residual cost to the patient. For the first time for some time we have an alternative Labor scheme that could well be the legislative skittle of the next election. It is something that is quite easy to knock over and I maintain that it is quite easy for the Australian people to understand all its implications.
– It will be very difficult to pay for.
– That is one of the very factors I was about to mention. The alternative Labor Party compulsory scheme - a giant stride towards fully nationalised medicine - eliminates freedom of choice of benefits fund, provides only for public ward coverage, aims to destroy private nursing homes and private and independent hospitals, and, as the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury) just implied, it will cost the majority of people substantially more for a less effective service. Its main goal is finally to eliminate the private general practitioner and to substitute only salaried doctors. As the previous speaker the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) said, it would encourage overspending in comparison with any overseas country such as the United Kingdom. If the truth be known, the United Kingdom would dearly love to be able to alter its scheme which has cost so much in committed funds.
This scheme, as I have said, has built in freedoms which 1 maintain are vital to both the individual patient and to the doctor as well as the nation. Contributions to medical and hospital benefit funds are tax deductible. The patient is free to choose between government and private hospitals and nursing homes. His freedom of choice at all levels is a spur to competition of services. This is a factor in which the Opposition does not seem to be interested and does not take into account at all. We on this side of the chamber say that this is a vital guarantee - it has proved to be so - of high standards of service to the community. Where competition is destroyed, medical standards can and probably would fall with a corresponding degree of suffering to the patient. To the pensioner the scheme provides free general practitioner treatment, either in the surgery or at home. In complete contradistinction to the schemes of some other nations, it provides free public hospital treatment, free pharmaceutical benefits, very substantial benefits in nursing homes, home nursing services and the provision of hostels and homes for the aged.
This morning during question time we saw another example of the Opposition’s refusal to have a bar of the voluntary benefits organisations. I would remind the House, as the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) who is sitting at the table did this morning, of the comments of the Nimmo Committee in relation to this matter. The Nimmo Committee reported as follows:
The Committee found no support at all for the often expressed view that the number of different organisations adds to the cost of the scheme. We examined the operations of a large number of friendly society and closed funds and found their service to contributors was extremely good and that they had been the most successful organisations in keeping management expenses within proper limits.
Families with incomes not exceeding $51.30 a week are eligible for free health insurance. In other words, under the present scheme a family with an income of $51.50, which is equivalent to $2,678 per annum, but n>i exceeding $54.50-
– They are eligible but they do not have it.
– Of course, that is a quits inane and stupid remark and it is not the sort of remark that the majority of the Australian people are interested in. 1 am referring to the ultimate end of the scheme which looks after those on deprived incomes.
– No, it does not.
– It does, lt looks after those on deprived incomes. If the honourable member has interviewed as many people as I have who do not realise that these facilities exist, he would not make that remark. The third category is those on incomes of $51.50 a week but not exceeding $54.50 who pay one-third of the normal contribution. Families with incomes between $54.50 and $57.50 are asked to pay twothirds of the normal contribution rate for medical benefits coverage and public ward charged. In contradistinction to this, for the first time for a long while we have a scheme that appears to be more firmly spelt out by the Opposition than has been the case at previous elections. What do wc find? We find, as I have conveyed already, that it would be a costly scheme, it could have inferior services and certainly a great destruction of individual choice, whether at the patient level, the hospital level, the nursing home level, or any other level that could apply. The primary source of funds for the scheme appears to be a nev. and compulsory levy, which moves upwards from month to month, on all taxable incomes.The scheme has an escalation clause built into it without any ceiling, as was made quite plain by a recent Labor Party pronouncement on it. Other levies are proposed which I will not mention. As I have mentioned, there are various aspects of limitation of choice within the scheme.
However, one thing that does concern me is that throughout Australia today there are 96 independent hospitals - that is, private, religious and charitable hospitals. Many of these are staffed at very low operating costs and they provide a total of 7,356 beds. To replace those beds, in capital costs alone, would cost at least $220.7m, I am informed, quite apart from subsequent increases in running costs. In addition, if we look at private hospitals we find that they provide 7,030 beds. The 261 nursing homes provide 9,445 beds and, again, these are run by religious and charitable organisations. One day all of these facilities may be replaced, but ! maintain that not one sensible thinking person would consider doing away with them when there is still a shortage of the very facilities that we are discussing.
Because of the limited time I have left, I would like now to deal very briefly with ALP policy in relation to salaried specialists, because this is the key to the antagonism which today is spreading through medical circles throughout the country, and certainly throughout my own State of South Australia. I think it is doing so because we got the first indications from the Dunstan Government in South Australia as to what probably will happen in relation to Labor Party thinking in relation to this matter. In the Adelaide Hospital today the seething mass of medicos are up in arms, particularly the younger ones, because they doubt whether the huge amount of work that they have put into their training over perhaps a 9-year period will be warranted; or whether they will be salaried on their present scale somewhat below the average of the community if it is worked out on an hourly basis for work. So I say that the ALP policy is that all doctors at public hospitals shall be salaried. The Labor Party is opposed to fee for service hospitals, and this means that all medical specialists who depend on access to hospitals and their equipment will be nationalised. Recently in South Australia a top thoracic surgeon, perhaps the best in Australia, was asked to give a high proportion of his private salary to the government-run hospitals for the use of the hospitals’ facilities. No account is taken of the fact that for about onetwentieth or one-thirtieth of his time he gets by far the majority of his salary and that the nominal pay as an honorary in these hospitals is not up to the standard one would expect for a world famous surgeon. Already these things are becoming apparent and they are a warning to the rest of the medical people and the patients in this nation that Labor is determined to upset the present scheme, with all the efficiency that is built into it and the proper care and concern given by doctors for the welfare of their patients.
– If it was not so important it would be laughable to watch this Government, like King Canute, trying to stem the tide. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) talked about salaried specialists in hospitals. Does the honourable member realise that this has been the European tradition since the last century? Does he realise that a committee of inquiry in the United Kingdom examined the situation in about 1910 and recommended salaries for specialist services in hospitals in England and that it was adopted from then on? Does the honourable member realise that since the early part of this century the majority of the large hospitals in the United States have been staffed by salaried specialists and salaried doctors? What makes Australia such a remarkable place that it does not follow these examples that are the usual thing overseas? The honourable member referred to voluntary health insurance as though it is something unique. Most countries have passed the stage of using it and they depend on government collection of revenue and government use of resources to supply people with adequate medical services. Even in the United States of America with the growth of Medicare and Medicaid one finds that there is a greater social acceptance of the concepts of government collection of revenue.
Even the popular magazine ‘Life’ ran a story called ‘More than Compassion’ in its 11th August edition this year and invited readers to comment on their feelings about health services. Of the 41,000 readers who responded to the survey 55 per cent would favour national health insurance paid for by pay-roll deduction and administered by the government. Has the honourable member for Angas heard of the Kaiser health scheme in the United States? lt is a salaried service which was started in the Kaiser industrial organisation, ft was so effective that it spread down the western coast of the United States of America and to Hawaii. When I had discussions with officers of that organisation some 4 years ago it was making great inroads into the mid-west. That is a pre-paid salaried service. The article in ‘Life’ reads:
Essentially, Kaiser is a prepaid group-practice system in which patients visit salaried doctors at clinics and hospitals run by the plan. ‘It isn’t poshy’, writes a reader in El Cerrito, California. They don’t do unnecessary hand-holding, but the care is good, in many cases extraordinarily good, and a real effort is made to maintain a relationship wilh one doctor.’
The Acting Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) in answer to a question this morning talked about the quality of care supplied under this system. What criteria does he apply to quality of care’? Doctors and hospital administrators in this community have asked that a system of accreditation of hospitals and the personnel attached to them should be instituted. It needs government finance to do this. This Government has not supplied that finance. It has not done anything to ensure that there is quality of care. Medical and surgical audits are necessary to check performance. Doctors will do this voluntarily if the finance is made available to them to do their own surveys. At one hospital on which I am on the board of management the doctors working there voluntarily agreed to do this but they could only do it in a limited way because the finance was not made available by government to enable them to do it fully. What about on-going education with the Royal College of General Practitioners asking that there should be on-going education of doctors and a system of assessing the quality of care given should be carried out? What assistance has been given by this Government? None whatsoever. Yet honourable members opposite talk blithely about the quality of health care without any criteria on which to assess it.
It was rather interesting to see the pamphlet put out by the Australian Medical Association. Surprisingly enough I am a member and I get the Association’s journal. The label on this document reads: ‘Published as a service to members by the Australian Medical Association’. Honourable members might note that it is not as a service to patients. They are the people that matter to honourable members in this Parliament and who should matter to the people who are in government. The statement is made in the pamphlet that the AMA is strongly opposed to any system under which the doctor is encouraged to bill an insurance organisation direct, thus by-passing the patient. Where is this ethic applied in workers compensation insurance? Where is it applied to pensioner patients? Where is it applied to repatriation patients? Where is it applied to employees in Commonwealth departments who are not covered under the workers compensation agreement between the AMA and the insurance companies? It is absolute nonsense to talk about by-passing the patient. Because you are a repatriation patient, a pensioner patient or you have had a workers compensation injury you are a patient just the same and doctors do not hesitate to direct to the insurance companies or other organisations bills for the amounts claimed.
We are told in this pamphlet that the Commonwealth Department of Health, which has a great deal of experience in this field, has done a costing of Labor’s scheme and has built into the costing an additional sum of $21m to cover a 25 per cent increase in general practitioner consultations, due to the fact that they would be free. On what criteria can the Department say that there would be a 25 per cent increase? This is absolute nonsense. There is no way the Department can measure this. How can Labor’s proposals be compared with schemes operating overseas? What right has the Department to do the Government’s job and the AMA’s job by putting forward political propaganda? With regard to the 25 per cent increase the pamphlet states:
It will no doubt be denied that there would be a 25 per cent increase in utilisation. But the practising doctor will be aware that this could well happen.
A slightly softening point of view to the definite assumption. The AMA pamphlet says:
The number of general practitioners per head of population is already on the decline.
One of the falsities of these figures is that many specialists are fortunately adopting the attitude of preferring to go into general practice and to practise their speciality out in the community as doctors of first contact, and this is to be commended. I hope it will continue. It is said that general practitioners already work extremely long hours. There is a tendency for those extremely long hours to be reduced. In fact if we are talking about quality of medical care, I think the Government should take note of the developments which are taking place in the field of general practice today. No longer when you ring after hours can you get the family doctor with whom you are supposed to hold this so sacred doctor-patient relationship. You get an emergency locum service. When I was in medical practice and was on duty at night and received a call, it might be something of a minor nature and the patient could be given advice over the telephone. Now no matter how minor the emergency the locum service will visit the home and, of course, charge an after hours home visit fee. This, of course, plays havoc with the statistics of doctors charging the most common fee. There is just so much nonsense being talked on this question of what a great health scheme we have. There are much better schemes which can be implemented. The Labor Party has recommended a much better scheme for the patients and the people in Australia. We believe that doctors have nothing to fear from it. I believe that many of the doctors accept it as an established fact. One could deal with many other matters in the estimates, such as the distribution of doctors in the community, the scarcity of doctors in rural areas and many problems which this Government has failed to solve. It has not tried to adapt its health scheme to satisfy the needs.
– There are many reasons why the present health insurance system is unsatisfactory and why it must be completely scrapped and replaced by a universal health insurance scheme, as is the programme of the Australian Labor Party. I wish to deal with just one aspect of the present system to show why it is so unsatisfactory, namely, the inefficient use and the misappropriation of contributors’ money by so-called voluntary health funds. Under the Labor plan money collected from contributors will be used to finance both private practitioners working on a fee for service basis and salaried doctors. Thus, there will be a salaried system working in parallel with private practitioners. If doctors and patients prefer a salaried service, finance will be available for such a service, but no-one will be forced into it.
Under the present system, however, a salaried service is positively discouraged. For example, if a public hospital wishes to pay sessional fees or salaries to its consultant staff no assistance is given by the Commonwealth. I believe that a salaried service is incomparably better from a public health viewpoint. But even if this Government disagrees with this surely it should allow people a choice between the 2 systems.
Recently an example of this type of discrimination was brought to my attention by the Family Planning Association of South Australia, which runs a clinic in an Adelaide suburb. A representative of the Association told me that, because the doctor working at the clinic was not in private practice and did not send out accounts to the patients in his own name, no medical benefits could be paid for services at that clinic. I wrote to the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) about this matter. I received a reply from the Acting Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). Part of the reply which I received on 22nd June of this year reads:
I have had this matter examined and I would advise that the Commonwealth Director of Health, Adelaide, has advised the Assocaition that Commonwealth benefits are payable for medical services given by or on behalf of a medical practitioner at their Clinic but that payment of fund medical benefit was subject to the rules of the individual medical organisations.
I understand that the South Australian medical benefits organisations have recommended that they do not pay amounts of fund benefit because the charges are raised by the Family Planning Association and not by medical practitioners in private practice.
As this recommendation is in conformity with the rules of the funds, patients who contribute to organisations with this particular rule, will receive payment of the amounts of Commonwealth benefits only.
The Government might say that this is not its concern as long as it pays the Commonwealth benefit and that whether the fund pays the benefit is up to the fund itself. This argument and the Minister’s reply are completely unacceptable. It should be remembered that people are really forced into these funds because if they do not join the Government denies them Commonwealth benefits. The funds operate under the National Health Act. It is the Commonwealth’s responsibility to ensure that the contributors’ money is not unreasonably denied to them.
Why should a contributor be denied payment just because the doctor is not in private practice? The funds seem to be a law unto themselves, with a vested interest in private enterprise medicine. I fail to see how anyone can possibly justify a contributor being denied the choice of going to a non-private practice clinic if he so wishes. It is not without significance that these funds have doctors on their boards of directors. In fact, I had the greatest difficulty some 3 years ago in finding out who actually were the directors of one fund - the Mutual Hospital Association. I eventually got the answer by putting a question on the notice paper. The answer which I received from the Acting Minister for Health revealed that on 30th June 1970 the board of directors of that fund included 2 doctors, one of whom is a past president of the Australian Medical Association. It is worth recalling the attitude of that body to a salaried medical service. It is small wonder then that this medical fund denies the use of contributors’ money to pay benefits for services provided by doctors who are not in private practice.
It is also of passing interest that as at 30th June 1970 the chairman of the board of directors of the Mutual Hospital Association was Mr Ian MacLachlan, who is the current President of the Liberal-Country League in South Australia. It is small wonder that the Acting Minister for Health was so vigorous in defending such organisations earlier today. I wonder how many contributors realise that their money is being held in these circumstances. How many contributors to health funds realise that their money is being used for political purposes, by such bodies as the so-called Voluntary Health Insurance Council which is a political lobby trying to retain the present system and opposing Labor policies? How many people realise that part of the money that they contribute to purchase health care is being used for political purposes? It might be asked: What redress does the contributor have? Can he change the rules of the fund? At least in the case of the fund I mentioned the contributors have no say at all in framing the policies of the fund. Perhaps a contributor can do what the Acting Minister suggested this morning at question time. He said: ‘If he is unhappy let him change funds.’ But that makes no difference because, as is clearly shown in the letter from the Minister which I have quoted, all the funds, or at least those in South Australia, are the same; they all refuse to pay benefits to a doctor who is not in private practice.
The only form of redress to the contributor is to change the Government which allows and even encourages this absurd system. It is imperative that a truly public, universal health insurance commission be set up which will be fully accountable and fully answerable to the public. I conclude what I wanted to say by making reference to something which was raised by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who said the Australian medical system was the best in the world. I do not know on what basis he made that claim, but I think what we must really go on is the quality of health care and the standard of health in the community. As far as I can see we have no firm means of measuring the standard of health care in Australia. This is one of the big criticisms: We have not taken enough trouble to try to carry out an audit of the health care that is available in Australia. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard paragraph 61 of the report called ‘General practice and its future in Australia’, which is the first report of the AMA study group on medical planning.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank the Committee. This paragraph sets out that there is quite a big leeway for improvement in the quality of health care for the people of Australia. One further point on this matter has been raised in the recent statement by the President of the Australian Medical Association. He referred to the assertion by the Commonwealth Department of Health that if patients did not have to pay for medical services there would be an impossible increase in the utilisation of the medical services. I point out that the figures in the annual report of the Commonwealth Department of Health show that in the last 2 years there has been, as the Acting Minister for Health pointed out during question time this morning, a reduction in the proportion of medical fees paid by the patient from about 36 per cent to about 19 per cent. One would have expected, on the basis of AMA reasoning, that the utilisation of services would have increased; yet an examination of the annual report of the Commonwealth Department of Health will show that the number of services per person covered in that period increased by only just over 4 per cent, whereas there has been a much greater decrease in the absolute amount which has had to be paid by the patient.
– In any consideration of the estimates for the Department of Health several questions must be asked and explored. The first is: What is the basis of the relationship between doctor and patient in the health service in Aus tralia? The second is: What are the relationships between patients and their hospitals? Both of those questions are deserving of exploration. The honeyed words of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) and, on occasions, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) concerning the retention of the doctor-patient relationship deserve to be examined because another relationship enters into it and that is the relationship between the doctor and government. In any situation in which the latter is proposed to be substituted for the former it is appropriate to explore what, under a Labor government, would be the attitude of government, of the administration of government, to the doctor because the direct relationship is invited. It is a central theme and a central thesis of Labor’s nationalised health plan. What goodwill would exist between a doctor and a government under that plan?
I have been amazed by the strident venom that drips from the lips of the Opposition concerning doctors. It is therefore appropriate to ask: With what attitude would, say, the honourable member for Oxley, as Minister for Health, approach the thousands of general practitioners in Australia? I will quote just two or three sentences. They are appropriate to be remembered. Last Friday night he said of the doctors of Australia:
In spite of this heavy dependence on tax supported programmes to bolster already fat and unreasonably high incomes, they are discontented.
Then there was some weeping concerning the family doctor. What does the Labor Party say about the relationship of the family doctor with the Trojan horse of its own salaried service? Another delightful sentence from the honourable member for Oxley was:
What doctors have not come to terms with yet is that the concept of the ‘folksy’ old family doctor is largely dead and gone.
This would be the mentality of a government with $ 10,000m of budget force to put into the balance against doctors, against the preservation of doctors, in our own health service. My final quote from the honourable member was:
Additionally, the community generally is better educated and questions the justification of the medical profession seeking to play the role of God among mortals.
Those motives, reinforced with a budget of over $l0,000m, means that one could say goodbye to the doctor service, to the doctorpatient relationship, which we have traditionally had in this nation. That is reinforced further by delightful comments by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) on 23rd July concerning tha hospital system. He was reported as having said:
Private hospitals and private nursing homes are irrelevant to the Labor Party’s concept of a national health s:heme and the vast majority of people could easily be catered for in the public hospital sector.
There was a charming comment by the Leader of the Opposition himself. He has thrown his own philosophy into the balance with the honourable member for Oxley and with the honourable member for Maribyrnong concerning the Australian health service. In the latest Fabian Society pamphlet, which was released quite recently, entitled ‘Labour at Home by Gough Whitlam’, he said:
The major act of nationalism in the traditional sense to be undertaken by a Labor government in the next term, will be through the establishment of a single health fund, administered by a health insurance commission . . .
That would be backed by the weight of finance to which 1 have previously referred. Let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the philosophy and the intention of the Opposition concerning the general practitioner in Australia - that old folksy family doctor - is perfectly clear. The Labor Party means to eliminate him by a variety or measures.
There is one further matter to which I want to refer, namely, the hospital system. I want to refer to it particularly in relation to the position in my own State of Queensland. The remarkable feature is that the honourable member for Oxley, who portrays himself as the shadow Minister for Health, means to destroy 25 years of a Queensland public hospital system by imposing on Australia and Australians a new compulsory health tax - a tax which people in that State and throughout the nation have not previously paid, lt is a tax whose rate of imposition he has increased twice within the last 2 years. It has increased from 1.25 per cent to 1.3 per cent and then to 1.35 per cent of taxable income. It is also a weight of tax which he will have to increase further in the next 3 months if he is to meet the very high public bed charges imposed in the Labor controlled States of Australia. These States impose the highest public bed charges in the Commonwealth. For that reason alone the rate of compulsory health tax will have to be increased even further.
What would that mean to the ordinary citizen? What would it mean to a worker? It would mean that he would be subjected under Labor’s proposed scheme - we have been able to look at it from 1969-70 onwards - to a compulsory tax escalating at the rate of at least 12 per cent per annum. Forget taxation deductions and the rest of it; they are out. He will be paying a new compulsory health tax. And, under a new compulsory health tax, what could be destroyed? Not only initiative but also, in the words of the honourable member for Maribyrnong, the private hospital system. People who wished to utilise this system under a Labor government would have to pay not only the compulsory health tax but also everything in excess of $13 a day which is charged by the private, the charitable and the religious hospital system in Australia. In my own State - I have done calculations only for one State - those patients utilising the non-government hospital system would be deprived in the first year of between $6. 5m and $7m. What better way to destroy, even if indirectly, the private hospital system and what better way to make people rather suspicious? Over 2 million bed days were utilised in my own State last year by patients accommodated in a public hospital system developed under a variety of Queensland governments over a number of years. The people who accounted for the 2 million bed days - some hundreds of thousands of people - would have to pay a new compulsory health tax. The private hospital system itself would be placed under an incredibly great strain and would be on the way to being destroyed quite quickly within the first year. The common sense of the argument indicates that. But perhaps the greatest enigma is that such a programme is proposed by a shadow Minister for Health from Queensland. He wants to milk the people of his own State in favour of some doctrinaire approach concerning
– You liar.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, did I hear the Minister called a liar?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! Did somebody use the word ‘liar’?
– Yes, I did.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- It will have to be withdrawn immediately.
– I withdraw it and apologise for using it; but I was rather upset at the stupid words the Minister was using.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I call the Minister for Housing.
– The shadow Minister for Health would milk the people of his own State of Queensland in favour of some nationalised doctrinaire scheme. He wants to plunder the free hospital system of his own State. He has announced his intention even before he has been put on the front bench of government. I make it perfectly clear to him that that proposal will be rejected by the people of Queensland. If it is suggested that there be some recompense in terms of a further contribution to the State, I would say that the honourable gentlemen opposite do not even understand the State finances. The consequences of this scheme should be known. I would be delighted to hear a defence of what the Labor Party has proposed, especially concerning the home State of the shadow Minister for Health.
– I follow the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) with some interest because he asked for a reply on the question of the Australian Labor Party health scheme and what it will mean to Queensland, which has had free hospitals since they were introduced in the days of the Labor government quite some time ago. He expresses concern and surprise at the fact that the shadow Minister for Health, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), would bring forward a scheme of this kind because the honourable member for Lilley claims that it would adversely affect the free hospitals in Queensland set up by a Labor government. Of course free hospitals in Queensland pose a special problem for the Labor national health scheme in the short term only.
Perhaps if I could deal at some length with the history of free hospitals in Queensland it might help. Free outpatient treatment was introduced by the Cooper Government, a Labor Government, under a means test in 1945. Towards the end of that year, the war having come to an end, the Labor Government of the time negotiated with the States to pay not all of the costs of public bed treatment but so much of the cost as was borne by the patient so that free public beds might be established in hospitals in all States. All the States agreed, and the Commonwealth hospital benefit of 6s a day was paid. At a later time, before the Chifley Government went out of office, the benefit was raised to 8s a day. So under Labor we had free hospitals in every State in the Commonwealth. In 1952, after the Menzies Government had come into office, the Commonwealth decided that it would destroy free hospitalisation in Australia. There was a conflict between the State Labor Government of Queensland led by Senator Gair, as he is now, and Mr Moore, the Minister for Health and Home Affairs. The Labor Party in Queensland decided that it would nail its colours to the mast on the principle of free hospitals and continue them despite the fact that the Commonwealth would give no assistance to Queensland in carrying that special burden.
That was the position that applied until 1970. In all that period between 1952 and 1970 no increase in assistance was given to Queensland by the Commonwealth Government for its free beds, while every other level of assistance to beds in hospitals, such as pensioner beds, beds for people who were covered by their contributions to hospital benefits schemes and the like, were raised. It was on an initiative taken by Senator McClelland in the Senate, on the very day on which the Senate committee report on hospital costs was tabled, that the level of assistance to free beds in public hospitals in Queensland was raised from 80c, at which rate it had continued from the day of the Chifley Government, to the S2 a day which it is now. I pay credit to those members on the government side and members of the Democratic Labour Party who voted with the Australian Labor Party in the Senate to give Queensland at least the S2.
Let us look, in the very brief time remaining to me, at what this means to Queensland. First of all, it presents a transitory problem because within a year or two of Labor coming into office there will again be free beds in public hospitals throughout Australia.
– What will you do with the health tax? Will you still impose it?
– Of course. Hospitals in Queensland are free only in the sense that a person does not pay for them while he is sick. They are paid for by the taxpayers at other times. The last year for which I have figures is 1971-72, when Queensland spent $79m on its hospital system. It was reimbursed about SI 2m by the Commonwealth and S3. 25m came from the Golden Casket. There are still some people in Queensland who imagine that the Golden Casket makes a significant contribution to hospital costs. The difference between the $ 15.25m and $79m is carried by the Queensland taxpayer. That is how free hospitals in Queensland are financed at the moment. They are financed at the expense of education and other areas. It also receives finance in another way. The actual cost of an occupied hospital bed per day in Queensland in 1970, the latest year for which 1 have figures, was $15.70, which was $10 below the national average. So although Queenslanders have free hospitals, in terms of the amount of money spent on hospitalisation there, they have low cost hospitals as well.
In the city of Brisbane, from which the honourable member for Lilley and I both come, there has been no extension of free hospitalisation in all the years of CountryLiberal Party rule in Queensland. All the free public hospitals in the metropolitan area were built in the days of the previous Labor Government. Free hospitalisation in Queensland is now subject to a financial squeeze with expenditure going up by about $12m a year and Commonwealth assistance to hospitals going up by about $500,000 a year. That means that the Country-Liberal Party Government of Queensland has to find an additional $11. 5m every year. Under the Labor scheme, on the figures that have been given by my colleague the honourable member for Oxley, over $13 a day per occupied bed for public wards, intermediate wards and private wards would be payable. This would mean an additional $22m a year for Queensland public hospitals, given 1971 as the year on which the figures were worked out.
– Are you aware of what the Grant Commission has been giving?
– Yes, I am.
– What effect would this have on the Grants Commission?
– One can argue, of course, that it might have some effect, but not only Queensland will be paid this amount. The same rate will be paid for hospital beds throughout Australia. The same amount will be paid in all States, and it will cancel this effect. The honourable member for Lilley, with his knowledge of finance, should realise that very well. Let us take the position as it applies now. Fifty-five per cent of the people of Queensland belong to medical and hospital benefits funds. They contribute to a lesser degree than do people in the other States to private medical benefits funds. The Commonwealth makes a contribution towards the claims lodged on these funds. Because fewer people in Queensland belong to the private medical benefits or funds and because all Australians pay tax, under the present scheme the people of Queensland arc missing out at both ends. On the one hand they get nothing back from the tax they pay because they do not belong to the private medical benefits or hospitals benefits funds. On the other hand, because they do not get this return they subsidise the hospital benefits and medical benefits for people in every other State of the Commonwealth. At the same time Queensland carries the burden of a free hospital system that the people of Queensland want.
The Labor Party health scheme is a fair, equitable and efficient scheme. It cuts out the inefficiencies of the multiplicity of funds. No commissions will be paid to chemists and the like for the collection of contributions because the money will be collected by the Taxation Office. The same assistance will apply across the Commonwealth. I would be the first to agree that there will be a difficult transitional period because honourable members opposite are trying to pretend to the people of Queensland that there is nothing for them in the Labor health scheme. The truth is the contrary. Free hospitals are under threat because of the credit squeeze I have outlined in brief to the Parliament. The present Government offers no solution to that problem. The Labor Party will solve this problem not only in Queensland but also throughout Australia. The present free hospital system is a great comfort and protection to people in Queensland. It does not do them much good if they happen to go across the border into Tweed Heads or other parts of Australia where they are not covered. Under a Labor scheme all the people of Australia will enjoy free hospitals and free hospitals will continue in Queensland.
– I wish to contribute briefly to the debate on the estimates of the Department of Health mainly because an attempt has been made to raise a political storm supposedly about medical ethics, and perhaps political party ethics. Yesterday the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson) referred to the distribution of a letter by the President of the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party to members of the medical profession. The honourable member has tabled the document and I have no wish to quote it in full now, but I do wish to take up the point particularly because of my very high regard in general terms for the honourable member for Perth. I believe that the manner in which the matter has been raised indicates a highly political action. I have no quibble with that. This is a good season for political actions. However, the assessments which follow the action are highly relevant to the issue. 1 can find in my experience and thoughts about such matters no objection whatsoever to any member of a political party or of the public writing to any member of the medical profession, the engineering profession or any other profession, irrespective of whether its members deal personally with the public, about any particular issue which the writer believes concerns that profession. I am not worried about whether the letter writer acts as an elector, a constituent, a professional person or whatever else.
Surely the supposed impropriety of the circulation of the letter concerned is a complete furphy. Any ethical problem which arises is one between an individual doctor and his patient or patients. The medical profession is well known for the long period of time it has been in the forefront of those professions which look to their own professional ethics. Members of the medical profession, I understand, have formal regulations and rules by which they shall proceed. I do not think we need to worry at all about the medical profession contravening its ethical standards through the circulation of a letter by Mr Samson, whom I happen to know and respect, or by anybody else. Let us put this matter exactly where it ought to be in relation to the alternative health schemes proposed by political parties or now in operation in this country.
The honourable member for Perth was seconded, as it were, by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) in drawing this matter to public attention. They have managed to get from the President of the Australian Medical Association - I think he is Dr Johnson - a statement which included the remark that it is not even a very good letter. That seems to me to be an extraordinarily minute sort of comment to make in the circumstances because the letter is entirely substantive and significant. It is no worse and probably no better than most other letters of this kind which receive public circulation. I would be very surprised if the Australian Medical Association does not amplify, clarify or polish up what Dr Johnson has been reported to have said.
It is somewhat ironic that many of the fairly dire comments that have been made by the honourable member for Oxley were made in my own electorate in support of the Labor Party’s candidate against me - and I might add, the reactions of the medical profession in that part of the world are seeping through at a fairly fast rate. Predictably, they are much in the one direction. It is also somewhat ironic to me that the honourable member for Oxley should have taken on Dr Arnold, Secretary of the General Practitioners Society, because if we on this side of the chamber have any argument with the medical profession in recent times it is more likely to be with Dr Arnold than with the Australian Medical Association in general. Dr Arnold takes a rather extreme view of some matters, but 1 do not want to run different hares in that direction. lt was clear at the instance of our most recent major changes to the medical scheme that the Government made it very much a part of its operation to ensure as best it could the continuity of general practitioners in this country. The referral system ensures that general practitioners will not be bypassed by patients greater public expenditure when it is not necessary. The proper operation of the scheme should ensure that result. There is no question whatsoever that the Government believes that the general practitioner - the family doctor, if you like - is absolutely fundamental to the proper operation of any medical system.
The medical system at present puts a high premium upon individual practice. Irrespective of whether the medical profession acts in a godlike manner there is little doubt that at large, probably through no fault of its own, it has achieved in Australia a fairly considerable status. It may even be said that along with very few other professions it occupies a position of some privilege. As in any other profession or occupational group, some members may be grasping or more interested in their own welfare than that of their patients, but in my experience there are very few of them. Some doctors may manage to play golf on Wednesday afternoons but they do in fact represent, to my knowledge and by all reports, as good an operation of medical practice as can be found anywhere in the world, and undoubtedly better than most. After all, that is what we are paying for in this system.
It is interesting to note how honourable members opposite who are members of the medical profession moderately support their Party’s socialised medicine policy. They have not been exactly falling over themselves in this debate to support in all quarters the propositions of the honourable member for Oxley. It has been said before in other ways and I repeat now that the Government, as Mr Samson’s letter indicates quite precisely, is totally opposed to any form of socialised medicine which even approximates the oft cited - but not often enough cited - British example. In this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’ is a letter written by a former general practitioner in Britain which indicates some of the bureaucratic obfuscations, delays and inefficiencies encountered in a socialised medical system. Inefficiencies were referred to by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross). He included the multiple medical benefits funds, taking of course absolutely no cognisance of what was read to the House this morning by the Acting Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) from the Nimmo report. That quotation completely justified the existence of a variety of sizes and shapes of medical benefits funds. Honourable members opposite would on many counts attempt to centralise their operations into grandiose and over large bureaucratic organisations.
Occasionally the Government may be caught in the same sort of vice but it does not intend to be caught in that sort of operation any more frequently than it can possibly help. We stand for initiative, efficiency and individual responsibility in the medical profession as in any other profession. While some people may blot the escutcheon of those societies or groups, in general terms we can say with complete confidence that the medical profession acts responsibly. In its day to day operations there is not much evidence which should lead us to want a more socialised scheme ultimately depending upon a very centralised and bureaucratic organisation, thereby tending by its nature to diminish the private relationship between a doctor and his patient which necessarily underlies the operation of any medical practice in any nation in the world.
– The honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) was good enough to be almost sad about attacking me a few moments ago for a matter which I raised in the House yesterday concerning a letter from the Western Australian division of the Australian Liberal Party to doctors in Western Australia. The honourable member for Denison suggests, to use his words, that one can have no objection to anyone writing to any member of any profession in any way, and that there could be nothing objectionable about the letter which I had tabled in the House yesterday. I do not want to rehash this matter at length now because I have other matters that I want to discuss, but I think the least one can do is to read into the record the actual sentence to which I did raise an objection and in which the Liberal Party said to doctors:
We now seek your support in active public condemnation of the Labor Party health platform in your consulting rooms . . .
I have said here and elsewhere that that is objectionable because it is inviting doctors to abuse a special position of trust, confidence and privilege which has always been recognised as existing in the consulting room between the doctor and his patient. It is an invitation to do something improper and professionally offensive, and I find that objectionable. The honourable member for Denison does not find it objectionable. But I find myself in good company on this occasion or, at least, in company which I would expect the honourable member for Denison to think was good, namely, the President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Johnson, who said on television last night and is recorded in almost all newspapers this morning as having said:
I dont think a doctor’s professional rooms or his professional relationship wilh people should be used for political or electoral purposes.
Dr Johnson finds it improper. Dr John Stokes, President of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Medical Association, has also repudiated this approach. He finds it improper. I prefer on this occasion to keep the company of the gentlemen to whom I have referred rather than that of the honourable member for Denison who still professes to find nothing objectionable in something which, by its very nature, obviously is highly objectionable.
I move from that matter and take the opportunity, considering that the circumstances of this session make it unlikely that the report of the Select Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits will be discussed in the House, to raise at least one or two matters arising from that report. The pharmaceutical industry was shown by the inquiry of the Select Committee to have some peculiar internal contradictions. On the one hand, it seems to be an efficient industry, given the system within which it has traditionally operated. On the other hand, it is clearly overcrowded, excessively fragmented and as a result, from the com munity point of view, uneconomic. This applies at all levels of the industry - manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing alike - though my own comments, given the limitation of time in this debate, will be restricted in the main to the retail sector.
To talk in the one breath of an industry being both efficient and uneconomic calls for some explanation, and in the pharmaceutical industry I believe this is to be found in the very highly protected framework within which the industry has traditionally operated. At the retail level, the first and major source of protection has been the monopoly which the industry has enjoyed in the distribution of prescription drugs. This monopoly will, no doubt, continue and is justifiable on the grounds that the public interest itself requires that there should be professional control of the highly potent substances handled. However, important as prescriptions have been, Australian pharmacy would not and could not have developed in the way it has without the benefit of 2 further protective devices, namely, fixed retail prices and the development of chemist-only products.
The first of these was abolished by the Trade Practices Act 1971, and the second also started to crumble with the announcement in May this year that Reckitt and Colman Pty Ltd, a major chemist-only manufacturer, intended to market its products through supermarkets. It might be noted in passing that while Reckitt and Colman attributed its change of policy to the restrictive Trade Practices Act and the subsequent Mikasa case which was based on it, it is difficult to find any legal necessity for the company to have made the decision it did, especially in view of the fact that most of its products were already being price cut even within its restricted outlets. It would accordingly seem far more likely that the company’s change to open selling was based on a purely commercial judgment, and it also seems more than likely that this judgment will be followed by other major chemist-only manufacturers. Should this eventuate the retail prop to pharmacy dispensing could eventually be lost for all but the very best situated outlets and if that occurred, retail pharmacy, as at present organised, could survive only on the basis of a massive and unjustifiable increase in national health scheme reimbursement rates.
The only alternative would be for a change in the current organisation of pharmacy with fewer pharmacies doing more prescriptions, and many doing very little else. Honourable members may have noted that one of the Committee recommendations is for a system to be devised between the Government and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to limit future dispensing approvals for national health service purposes. That, in practice, would automatically limit future pharmacy openings as well. It appears to me that that is a good proposal calling for urgent attention. At the same time one has to face the fact that it has been largely overtaken by events in retail trading which have occurred since the Committee was formed. Frankly, it is doubtful whether this recommendation now goes far enough because, as well as looking to limitations on future approvals, it is probably timely already to consider ways of also reducing existing approvals. The problem, of course, is how to do that equitably, and this is more a matter for consideration and action within the Guild than by the Government.
My own guess, for what it is worth, is that over the next 10 years or so something like a quarter, or even more, of all existing pharmacies will close or will remain open only on the basis that they have owner-managers who are prepared to accept a level of profit below ordinary award wages. For the 1,000 or 1,500 chemists who are unable to survive the squeeze, the experience will naturally be very painful, all the more as it will be due to processes not of their own making, and entirely beyond their own control. However, for the community as well there is the potential loss of a large pool of professional training, skills and experience, and perhaps a government sponsored scheme of retraining into related fields might well be justified in order to minimise the wastage that would otherwise occur.
The public interest also requires that the closing of pharmacies should be as orderly as possible to avoid any unnecessary disruption to the dispensing services available to patients. In this respect, the British experience is highly relevant. I read from a short article contained in ‘Federal Guild Contact’ of 1st July this year. Headed Crisis at the Chemist’s’ it reads as follows:
Britain is heading for a crisis over her chemists’ shops. Soon you may have to queue or travel considerable distances to get medicines prescribed by your doctor.
This is because so many chemists have closed down. In the past IS years 3,000 chemists’ shops have closed . . . about a fifth of the total number in Britain.
And the rate is accelerating rapidly. In 1966 the number of shops closed was 256, but by 1969 the number had shot up to 478.
I interpose at this point only to comment that the year 1966 is highly relevant because that was the year in which retail price maintenance was abolished in the United Kingdom. The article concludes:
In one part of Stockport, in Cheshire, there are no chemists’ shops for at least a mile in any direction. Yet there are four doctors.
While presenting the House with some caution about the possible disruption to dispensing services available to the public, I think it is also relevant to recall the evidence given before the Select Committee to the effect that enrolments into pharmacy courses have dropped dramatically in recent years and that there also has been a sharp change to female rather than male enrolment. The experience of the industry has been that female pharmacists do not spend many years actively in the profession and this, together with the likely closure of pharmacies, presents us with a potential problem regarding the future ready availability of dispensing services to the public.
In the long term it seems unarguable that a reduction in the number of pharmacy outlets, firstly, is inevitable; secondly, would allow economies of scale that would assist to keep the cost of national health service prescriptions within reasonable bounds and, thirdly, would not be to the public detriment in terms of adequacy of service only if it were properly organised rather than done in a haphazard manner. It is in everyone’s interests that the realities of this position be recognised and acted upon sensibly, preferably in such a way as to minimise the disruption of public dispensing services and the lives and livelihoods of pharmacists.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– At this stage I would like to make one or two comments. I will make only one about the speech of the honourable member for
Perth (Mr Berinson). I regard his indignation at the letter sent out by the President of the Liberal Party in Western Australia as at the very least hypocritical nonsense. The honourable gentleman is guilty of selective quoting. Admittedly he has tabled the letter, but what he omitted to say when he quoted from the letter a moment ago was that the President of the Liberal Party in Western Australia asked members of the medical profession to use their influence to oppose the Labor Party’s health scheme in every possible way consistent with the ethics of their profession. If it is true that it is not consistent with the ethics of the profession to influence a patient in the consulting room, the doctors will not do it. That was covered by the President of the Liberal Party in Western Australia.
The suggestion that members of the medical profession should not, in every way open to them, oppose the implementation of the Labor Party’s health scheme is just so much hypocritical nonsense. They have a perfect right to do this. If your whole livelihood and everything you have been brought up to believe in is under threat and is about to be undermined-
– In their consulting rooms?
– The honourable member has made his speech. He should let me finish mine. If everything that you believe is necessary for good patient care and for good medicine is about to be thrown overboard, why should you not have the right to contribute your money, your time, your effort and everything else to preventing it from happening? God forbid that we should ever come to a stage in this country where, just because the bully boys in the Labor Party with their friends in the media attempt to wield this sort of big stick, people working independently - whether they be in the medical profession or anywhere else - should not stand up for their rights and attempt to retain the way of life which they are used to and which they believe is good. I have never heard such arrogance and nonsense in my life.
I want to refer also to the remarks of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), who spoke first in this debate. I find pathetic the honourable gentleman’s attempts to suggest that in some way as a result of a television debate last night the
Australian Medical Association is now completely onside with the Labor Party’s health scheme. The honourable gentleman, as I said at question time today, has been abusing and slandering the medical profession - a great and honourable profession - accusing its members of greed, accusing them of playing God and making all sorts of other offensive remarks, blanketing the whole profession and not just a few members of it. He believes that, as the result of one television interview, somehow or other the organised medical profession in Australia is now on the Labor Party’s side. I have no doubt that the honourable gentleman has been under some pressure from his colleagues to attempt to achieve this result, because some of them know what damage this has done to the Labor Party. One just does not do this if one is seeking to be a responsible government in Australia. One just does not do the sort of thing the honourable member for Oxley has clone in the method in which he has dealt with the medical profession. Some of the other honourable gentleman on the other side, to do them credit, know this. I have no doubt that they have put a lot of pressure on their arrogant and youthful colleague to persuade him in some way to get the medical proefssion back onside and to attempt to get it to describe the Labor Party’s socialistic scheme as respectable. No doubt that was the object of the exercise.
The honourable member for Oxley came into the chamber today and suggested - no doubt he will give what he said to the Press, because it was all written out - that that had been achieved, that it was a big triumph, that the AMA was onside and that the doctors regarded Labor’s scheme as respectable and they wanted it. I think I should read into the record a statement which the President of the AMA made an hour or so ago. The text of Dr Johnson’s statement is as follows:
The AMA has not wavered for one second in its opposition to the Labor Party’s health policy which threatens the medical profession with creeping nationalisation. lt is totally wrong to interpret the remarks I made on television last night as endorsing Labor’s policy in any way.
Mr Hayden, Labor’s health spokesman, appeared on the same programme and was indulging in wishful thinking when he said I had endorsed his policy. The interview was ended before I had the opportunity to deny this.
Mr Hayden has made his attitude to the medical profession clear. He has stated or implied that doctors are greedy, overpaid, narrowly educated technicians deserving of less respect than other professions.
How can 1 accept this bland assurance that he has no wish to nationalise the medical profession and cannot do so because of the Constitution? His own Leader, Mr Whitlam, has stated that it would be intolerable if a Labor government used the Constitution as an alibi to excuse failure to achieve its socialist objectives. 1 challenge Mr Hayden to repudiate his Leader’s remarks and to repudiate the Labor Party policy stated in its official platform which calls for establishment of a salaried medical service. If he did so we might find grounds for agreement.
The Labor Party proposes to retain fee-for-service payments for doctors’ services outside hospitals. But instead of receiving payment from patients whose calls are covered by voluntary health insurance Labor proposes that doctors would receive a monthly cheque from the government. By this means a Labor government would control doctors as effectively as it would control its own public servants.
Public wards of hospitals under a Labor scheme would be staffed by full-time and part-time salaried doctors and some 90 per cent of hospital beds would be public ward beds. This would mean the end of private practice for many specialists.
Of course as I said on television, the AMA has no objection if a doctor voluntarily decides to give up private practice and take a salaried job. Many of our members are already salaried but we have the strongest objection to doctors being forced to take salaried jobs because their private patients have all disappeared as a result of coercive Government policies.
I am not only concerned with doctors’ rights in this matter. I am also concerned with the welfare of my patients and the patients of my colleagues. For them 1 believe Labor’s Health Scheme would be a disaster.
Unlike the honourable member for Perth I will not indulge in selective quoting. He went on to say:
My statement last night that no political party should ask doctors to influence patients to whom they are giving treatment in their consulting rooms still stands.
The AMA is not beholden to any political party.
The AMA and individual doctors have a duty to speak up on matters which affect the welfare of patients. Labor’s Health Scheme will seriously affect patient welfare.
That is the end of the statement by Dr Johnson. I quoted that statement because of the pathetic attempt of the honourable member for Oxley to suggest that in some way as a result of this television interview last night the AMA endorsed the Labor Party’s health scheme. There is the lie to that. I am not quoting it for that reason, not because the Government always endorses what the AMA does. As everybody in this House well knows, I, over 5 years as Minister for Health, had my arguments with the AMA. Nevertheless the Government recognises that the AMA is entitled to have a point of view. It is entitled to make statements and to stand up for the views of its members in the medical profession. I quoted the document for the sole purpose of rebutting this pathetic attempt by the honourable member for Oxley to suggest that in some way as a result of that television interview the AMA now endorses Labor Party policy. Although the Government and I do not always agree with what the AMA does and with AMA policy, its comments on the Labor Party’s health scheme in that statement made by Dr Johnson represent exactly and with great precision what this Government believes, is in the interest of the best patient care and the best health system for Australia.
Mr BERINSON (Perth) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) has succeeded in the space of a few minutes in accusing me several times of being, in his words, guilty of selective quoting’. He joins the Leader of the State Opposition in Western Australia, Sir Charles Court, who is quoted in today’s ‘West Australian’ as saying that a letter finally published in the ‘West Australian’ yesterday had a serious omission. The report quotes Sir Charles Court as saying:
The crucial words in the State President’s letter to doctors, which he has omitted are “consistent with the ethics of your profession”, . . .’
That is the phrase which the Minister for Immigration accused me of leaving out and so engaging in selective quoting. In response to that I want to say just 2 things. It is incredible that I should be accused of selective quoting when I was responsible yesterday for tabling this letter in full in the Parliament and enabling it to be printed in full by the media. More directly in relation to the criticism by Sir Charles Court I point out that when I first raised this matter in public I was reported accurately in the ‘West Australian’ of last Monday as saying that ‘a qualification sought the maximum support that the profession’s ethics allowed’. So I made that point the first time I introduced the subject of this letter. Of course, I pointed out at the same time last Monday that that qualification was superfluous. It is not meant to be taken seriously because there are in fact no circumstances in the consultation rooms when that sort of pressure could be applied ethically.
– I would like to hark back to some of the comments of the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) when he referred to the views of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) on the medical profession and, more specifically, his suggestion that the folksy general practitioner no longer exists.
– I indicated his lack of regard.
– His lack of regard for the folksy general practitioner. If that is what the Minister said, I still wish to make the same sort of remarks. I regret to say that the folksy general practitioner does no longer exist, through no fault of the Labor Party nor, would I suggest, through any fault of the Liberal Party. The reason he no longer exists is that the nature of medical practice has changed. I admit that there are certain aspects of the folksy general practitioner which we sadly miss today, but with increasing technology and the increasing demands we make on general practitioners, he can no longer be the leisurely folksy general practitioner he once was.
The problem is so serious that, quite apart from the Government’s views on the Labor Party’s scheme, our thoughts on general practitioners and the suggestion that general practice clinics might help to reestablish the standing of the general practitioner is in accord with the views expressed - and I trust that the Minister can find time to read them when he has finished speaking to the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) at the table- by the Australian Medical Association study group on general practice in its pamphlet entitled General Practice and Its Future in Australia’. The basic point about the suggestion made in this publication is that with the establishment of general practice clinics, with the use of ancillary medical personnel, it may be possible to re-establish some of this intimate relationship people once had with general practitioners. It may allow general practitioners to regain the status they once had.
I deal now with the question raised by the Minister for Housing about the dreadful tax we are going to impose and with his implication that this will represent an enormous increase in cost to everybody. I made a speech on this matter once before and I will not repeat the whole of it for the sake of the Minister. My only comment is that he is misunderstanding the whole point. If we raise more funds by way of taxation it will be only so that people need pay less money to voluntary health insurance funds and less money directly to doctors. We are not suggesting that the doctors will receive more than they are getting under the present system. So where is the extra money that the minister talks about to go? It will not go to the doctors. It will not go to the hospitals. It will not go to the nursing staff. It will not go into his or my pocket as parliamentarians, that is for certain. So what is he talking about? He is bluffing, surely.
– Your rate of tax increases.
– The rate of taxation will be simply enough to raise the same amount now raised in payments to benefit funds and fees paid by patients who suffer illness and thereby need medical treatment. The present system victimises people who are ill because in addition to suffering illness and suffering medical treatment they have to suffer the pain of paying the medical fees. Our proposal simply recognises that we should pay to maintain hospital services while we are well so that if the need arises any one of us will have free access to the services, the determinant being our medical need and not our capacity to pay. It is a simple proposition.
One cannot argue about the quality of medical care in this country. It is always said by honourable members on the other side of the House that the standards in Australia are higher than they are anywhere else in the world. I do not know on what they base that because on the few parameters that one can examine there is no justification for that claim whatsoever. Our infant mortality rate and our pre-natal mortality rate is no better than in countries with what one would call ‘socialist medical services’. It is not necessarily much worse either. There is not very much difference in standards. The only differences one can perceive :re in unnecessary surgical procedures performed on patients, but there is good statistical evidence to show that when doctors are paid a fee for service they tend to provide more medical services than they need to for the best care of their patients.
Several studies have been conducted into this matter, and I have talked about it before. My remarks are in Hansard and I will not bore honourable members with it. I will simply add a little more evidence to my case, this time from someone arguing the case for fee for service as against a capitation fee. I join with the view that the capitation fee is not a good one. That is the problem with the British health scheme. I would not be in favour of a capitation fee, but nonetheless, even in this argument I find confirmation of my claims. The report which I have states that when the system of payment changes from capitation fee to fee for service, all in all, it is concluded that a 17 per cent increase in the utilisation of physicians services will occur. The report states that there has not been any appreciable change in the utilisation of clinics. I take it that that refers to hospitals and not to private physicians. So the increase in physicians’ services has not been offset by a decrease in utilisation of the clinics. The reason I mention this is that it was claimed that if the doctors saw the patients more readily, presumably because they are getting more pay, there would be less need for the patients to utilise the services of hospitals. The report to which I am referring was produced from the Baltimore experiment. It is not to do with surgery; it is to do with overall physician caTe. In fact, the increased medical services did not reduce the call for the patients to use hospital services. It was found also that when the doctors were paid on a fee for service basis the prescription rate rose quite astronomically. The increase in the number of prescriptions provided to patients was 32 per cent.
I come now to the question of where the Australian Medical Association stands in relation to Labor Party policy and the claim made that last night on television the
AMA conceded something about Labor Party policy. I cannot be sure what the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) meant by his comment but I certainly do not think that he meant that the Australian Medical Association, to a man, will now vote for the Labor Party because it supports our policy on this matter. Obviously that is nonsense. The point is that for the first time publicly on television a spokesman for the AMA conceded-
– He did nothing of the sort.
– How about listening to what I think he did? He conceded that if some doctors choose to work for a salary - the Minister mentioned this in the quote he has just given - they still will be OK as doctors as far as the AMA is concerned. This is a concession, because up until now we have been fed to the gills with the claim that doctors who are forced to work or who elect to work on salaries somehow or other are inferior doctors - that the only decent relationship between a doctor and patient depends upon the fee for service. The conclusion one draws from the admission last night is that the AMA concedes the point that the doctor-patient relationship does not depend upon a fee passing from the patient to the doctor, and that is the fundamental point that we have tried to make all along.
Of course, the reality is that when a patient enters a doctor’s consulting room the doctor does not size the patient up in terms of what he can pay or whether he will pay the bill. I do not believe that for a minute. I have more faith in doctors than that. The doctor assesses the patient in terms of his medical need. Whether or not the patient can pay is irrelevant to the quality of medical care the doctor should and does give to the patient.
It does not make the slightest difference whether the doctor is paid a salary or whether he is paid a fee for service; the doctor will still give reasonable service to the patient, based on medical needs. The problem as far as doctors are concerned is that they are frightened that if they are on a salary they will not be paid enough. That is purely an administrative problem; it has nothing to do with the basic philosophy of the Labor Party. Of course, the answer is that a Labor government will, I trust, give a reasonable reward to doctors in the same way as, we hope, socialised lawyers get a reasonable reward from the community when they become judges.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
– I suggest that the order for the consideration of the proposed expenditures agreed to by the Committee on 31st August be varied by postponing the consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Department of Housing.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! Is the suggestion of the Minister agreed to? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, $68,024,000.
– I find myself in the position of speaking on the estimates for the Department of Immigration rather earlier that I had expected. It is not my intention to try to traverse the rather wide scope of these estimates. In talking to teachers and those associated with schools in areas where there are large numbers of children from migrant families, one is depressed by their extreme frustration. Australia accepts migrants because it is believed that they will make a contribution to our society and our economy. It would be fair to say also that migrants come to Australia because of better job opportunities for the adults and better educational and job opportunities for the children. This Government has recognised some responsibility for this. The former Minister for Immigration, Mr Lynch, said that the Government ‘decided to finance the salary costs of teachers employed to teach migrant children in special classes and the necessary supervisory staff, special training courses for teachers in methods of teaching English as a foreign language, the provision of approved capital equipment of the language laboratory type for special classes, and the provision of suitable teaching and learning materials’. That these steps have not been enough is abundantly evident.
I know that both the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) have received a number of deputations on these matters, because the situation in capital cities in particular is so critical. For a start, these chil dren usually are attending schools in which the accommodation already is strained. Proper teaching of migrant children who have a disability with English demands that there should be appropriate accommodation so that they can be properly taught. What assistance has the Commonwealth Government given for this purpose in these depressed areas? Is the person concerned with the actual teaching process sufficient by himself with these teaching materials? I know that the deputations to Ministers have stressed the need for ancillary staff. They claim that the total lack of supportive staff, such as interpreters, classroom assistants, social workers, psychologists and so on, greatly affect the effectiveness of their teaching. One does not need to think too deeply to realise the deep social and psychological upsets that would occur in children who are in a completely different and foreign environment with social conditions different from those that they have been used to and with an educational system that does not use their native tongue. That is why the effective supply of this supportive staff is so important. Yet is it not supplied.
Teachers in this special field may be disadvantaged also by the rigid staffing establishments of State departments. Of course, this is not a Commonwealth responsibility but, since immigration is a Commonwealth responsibility, it is not too much to expect that the Commonwealth should make very firm representations to the States that the rigid educational facilities and staffing establishments in the schools affected should be made more flexible so that the job can be carried out properly. One could say that the areas in which those schools exist are relatively restricted - they are not hard to identify - and that it would not be difficult for changes to be made because it is not only the migrant children at these schools who suffer from this lack of accommodation, this lack of supportive staff, because if there are only a few children with difficulty left in a class there is an overflow effect on the ordinary children who are in the same class but who speak English quite fluently. These circumstances prevent effective teaching of the group as a whole.
This Government has taken some steps towards satisfying the need. I suggest that the extreme concern shown by deputations of teachers and various other people associated with the conduct of schools and their representations for alterations to be made deserve far more consideration so as to give adequate accommodation, staff and training. Further on this question of the English language, it has been with some interest that I have been watching the reports of the Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications. I have the third report with me at the moment. I notice that amongst the recommendations in that report there is mention that competence in the English language is of particular importance in those professions where extensive and accurate oral communication is required. This probably sounds pretty self-evident but it certainly needs emphasising.It means that we must expect this Government, through the Department of Immigration, to provide within the English language programme that exists in Australia a recognition of the needs of the professional groups in this area where oral communication is so important. I would hope that this factor, to which the Committee has drawn attention, would be one that receives urgent and practical attention.
Finally I want to pass a few remarks on the question of the selection of migrants. There has been a certain amount of agreement. I think on both sides of the House, on the selection of migrants. Many factors have been mentioned, one of which is the family basis of migration. One sees whole family units migrating from their native country. It is not just the mother, father and children but includes uncles, aunts, cousins and so on. One problem is that often in these family units there exists a disabled member. A member of the family may be either mentally affected or physically affected. I have in my own electorate a particularly sad case of a very large family unit. They all have very productive jobs. They have held their jobs for a number of years and are well respected members in the community. They have one son who has some mental defect. As a result of this mental defect which came on when he was a youth he was deported back to his country of origin, where he now lives alone. It seems to me from reports from his country of origin that his behaviour at the moment is exemplary and for the years he has been there he has had no problems whatsoever with the authorities. Yet the rest of his family is in Australia and from time to time is faced with the expense of going to see him. They are well respected citizens and they produce much for the community. Surely we could give more humane consideration to cases such as this. Where there is a large productive migrant unit we should be able to allow the underprivileged member of that family to enjoy the care that only his family can provide.
Sitting suspended from 6.11 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - On behalf of the Prime Minister and Acting Treasurer (Mr McMahon) I wish to inform the House that the Commonwealth has decided to provide special budgetary assistance to New South Wales in 1972-73 in the form of a loan of $15m. The Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales, Sir Robert Askin, is introducing his Budget for 1972- 73 in the State Parliament tonight, and will be referring to the special Commonwealth assistance in the course of his Budget speech. The terms and conditions on which the special Commonwealth loan of $15m is being provided are broadly similar to those applying to the special loan of $ 17.5m made by the Commonwealth to New South Wales in 1971-72 and to the special loan of $10m made by the Commonwealth to Victoria in 1969-70. In deciding to provide this special assistance, the Government has had regard to the extraordinarily difficult Budget situation confronting New South Wales this year by reason of a number of special factors which the State Premier and Treasurer will be referring to in his Budget speech. The necessary legislative authority for the loan will be sought after the new Parliament is convened.
– by leave - I think the reason for this grant is understandable. But there are certain irregularities in doing it in this way. Because the New South Wales State
Budget is being introduced at 8 o’clock tonight the Commonwealth has to do this kind of thing to validate it. I should have thought that earlier notice could have been given of this grant so that honourable members could have considered the merits of it. After all, in his statement the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) said that certain circumstances have arisen in New South Wales by reason of a number of special factors.
– Did they not get enough from the poker machines?
– That may be so. But I think that one State in particular which has special problems at the moment is Western Australia, by reason of the vast amount of unemployment which exists there. Some unscrupulous people suggest this is due to the fact that it has a State Labor Government. This kind of reasoning is quite wide of the facts. The circumstances in Western Australia are of particular seriousness. When I was there some fortnight ago I advocated that a special grant should be made to that State of SI 5m. Whether it was made by way of loan or a straight out grant is beside the point. But if some essential developmental works were to be undertaken in Western Australia they would make a lot of difference to the economic situation there. It seems to me that what is being done here this evening is a little bit political in context.
I suggest, again, that this is not the way to handle these milters. The House considered Bills last week dealing with special grants to States, both by way of additional reimbursement and loan funds that are payable without interest. I should have thought that this would have been the appropriate point for this special grant to have been made. I do not want to say anything more about it, but I think the circumstances are unusual. Again, it is indicative of the precipitous way in which this Government introduces measures which have particular bearing upon States that are Liberal dominated, but ignores the realities of States which have Labor governments.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Consideration resumed (vide page 2041).
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, $68,024,000.
– My main purpose in speaking to the estimates of the Department of Immigration is to pay a tribute to the officers of this Department who are stationed overseas. I recently returned from a visit to Europe during which I attended a conference in Vienna on the environment. While I was away I took the opportunity of calling on the Immigration post in every country I visited. I want to acknowledge the help and the courtesy which was extended to me by the officers of the Department of Immigration. In quite a number of cases I talked with Government officials of the countries which I visited and I found that without exception the Australian officers were held in very high regard by those overseas governments. Australia is fortunate to have such capable and dedicated men representing it overseas.
Our overseas immigration posts did not just happen; they did not appear like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. They have been built up over the years. I believe the future of some of these posts has been placed in jeopardy by some of the critics of our immigration policy. Some people blame immigration for the increased level of unemployment in Australia. For this reason they want either greatly to reduce our immigration intake or cut it out completely. I want to go on record as saying that it is my personal belief that migrants do not contribute to unemployment. On the contrary, I believe that they create demands for consumer goods. I think that the level of unemployment has been contributed to by a reduction in what we have accepted as a rate of increased demand. We have had it for quite a number of years. 1 do not believe we have to look any further for the reason why last year our consumer demand fell than the fact that we reduced our intake of migrants by 45,000. I believe that it is a mistake that this year the same reduced target has been set. Industry was geared to an annual intake of 185,000 migrants. We have suddenly reduced this intake by 45,000 potential customers. Every person who comes to us from overseas has to be housed, fed and clothed. The records of our immigration intake over the years show that in those years in which we had the greatest number of migrants coming to Australia we had our lowest level of unemployment and we also enjoyed some of our greatest levels of prosperity.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is on record as saying that a Lab.v Government, if elected, would reduce the migrant intake still further. 1 think it was during the Frost interview on television that he said that the level of intake would be in the vicinity of 100,000 people a year. The Labor Party expresses concern - 1 think rightly so - at the present level of unemployment. But it is my personal belief, that a further cut in our intake would increase unemployment for the reasons which I have already given. The Labor Party has said that a Labor government would give preference in selecting migrants to the relatives of people already in Australia. Superficially this has a very great humanitarian appeal, but surely it would affect our ability to control the intake of migrants on occupational grounds. At the present time we can bring in people with the skills that we need. But ALP policy would practically eliminate our ability to be selective in order to meet current employment requirements. It is my opinion that migrants have contributed very greatly to the trades and skills which are in short supply in Australia. To make family relationship the main selection criterion must reduce the worker component of our intake. Because of its mobility and its greater adaptability the migrant work force has provided the economy with a greater flexibility and responsiveness. That is because migrants are willing to go anywhere in Australia where employment opportunities are available. They are much more willing to travel than Australians.
I do not think anyone would dispute that migration has contributed very greatly to our culture. The matters 1 have mentioned are very positive gains which we have made from our immigration programme. In saying that, I do not believe that migration does not create some adjustment problems, but I think that we have to live with those because nothing worth while is ever achieved without some sacrifice by some people. As the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said a few months ago - I think it was during the month of June - nation building will involve us in considerable costs and the benefits will not come free. I accept that. But I think it is wrong to attribute unemployment, congestion and pollution to immigration, as quite a number of people have done. We live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world with one of the highest standards of living. 1 think migration has contributed very greatly to this.
Let us have a look at some of the benefits which we have derived from our immigration programme. The migrants we have brought to this country and the Australian born children of those migrants have provided 53 per cent of the increase in population from 8 million in 1950 to 12.7 million in 1971. Migration has reduced the average age of the population. It has provided over half the increase in the work force, which in 1954 was 3.5 million and which today is 5.6 million. It has added considerably to the skilled component of the work force. Migration has helped to service the key industries which provide electricity power works and transmission lines, water and sewerage supplies, air transport and concrete and cement products, lt has reinforced our education facilities, particularly at the tertiary levels. It has provided essential hospital staff. An examination of the percentage of migrants employed in hospitals and education authorities, particularly at the tertiary level, will reveal that they represent a much greater percentage of the population than their percentage of the total population.
Migration has provided a disproportionately large number of the work force for developmental projects. It has reduced per capita social service costs because migrants have to be resident in this country for 10 years before they are entitled to receive the age pension, but they have to contribute to social services by way of taxation payments during the whole of their working lives. They have also, as do Australians, to reach an age which would qualify them for the receipt of such benefits. Migration has facilitated and encouraged increased industrialisation and diversification of the economy. A vigorous immigration programme is essential to the development of Australia. I believe that it is in Australia’s best interests to retain the very efficient immigration posts which have been already established overseas. These posts can be very easily destroyed but they cannot be easily re-established.
I have referred to some of the tangible benefits of immigration. Let us have a look ac some of the benefits that are less quantifiable but which are, at the same time, of significant importance. Immigration has contributed to the non-material activities which add to the quality of life in Australia. The effects of immigration have in fact permeated the whole life of the nation. We are socially and culturally more diversified and more tolerant than once was the case. As the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) announced earlier this year, quite a number of new measures are proposed both for assessing migrants overseas and counselling them prior to their arrival in Australia. In addition, greater emphasis will be placed on English language training and both the migrant education and the migrant welfare services in Australia will be expanded. I hope it will not be long before the Government again increases its intake of migrants. In my opinion, Australia’s migration policy has served it well in the past and I believe it will contribute a great deal to Australia in the future.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The estimates for the Department of Immigration have been brought down this year in the atmosphere of a continuing national debate on migration. I rise in the first instance to make a plea for some sanity and balance in the debate. Because it is an election year we have heard charges being hurled from one end of the country to the other about what future plans mean. Some of those charges have been completely irresponsible. The shrill cries of the extremists range from those who say: ‘Shut the doors’ to those who are accused of saying: ‘Tear the doors down and throw them away’. I do not believe that that sort of remark is a valid basis for a debate in this Parliament. In fact, it is not a valid basis for any sort of debate on migration. Those who would seek to make it so do a disservice to the Parliament and to the nation. Both views, of course, are to be rejected. Debate should not proceed along the lines of such shrill cries and the Parliament should not be an echo for those who are xenophobic, bigoted or just plain witless in their prejudice. Australia is a nation of immigrants. One in 3 of the people that one passes as one walks down the street in most towns or cities is either a migrant or the son or daughter of a postwar migrant. So by rubbishing migrants and migration we are rubbishing ourselves.
I live in the town of Griffith, which is in a district that has been described as the best integrated in Australia. People of 30 different nationalities built it and provided its population. It has one of the highest ratios of migrants to total citizenship anywhere in Australia. They are all citizens because they have integrated. I am proud of this achievement. 1 should point out that successful achievement in this respect was built on the basis of chain migration and family reunions.
I do not want to do the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) an injustice, but 1 think he tended to imply that a system of migration that was based on chain migration and family reunions would result in us being inclined to get labour that was somewhat less desirable than would be obtained in a mass recruited migrant system. I wish to rebut that proposal. It is just not true. The criteria that has applied to chain migration and family reunions in the area I happen to represent have been tougher in practically every respect than the criteria that have been applied to mass recruitment migrants. I should point out that this has led to a stability, a prosperity and a situation of which not only I, as the local member, but also the nation generally can be proud. So I do not think that that is quite a valid criticism of the sort of thing that we have said. But to those who talk about shutting the doors I say that it would be absurb to do so. To end migration would mean that Australia would be guilty of cultural incest. It is just wrong to talk about tearing down the doors and throwing them away.
Obviously every nation has the right to selectivity in the people that it invites to its shores. I seem to recall that the first migrants to Australia were most carefully selected. I think the selection teams sat in wigs and ermine on English benches. They may not have thought so, but they did us a favour by sending to our shores many a bonny rebel who did us a good service. Perhaps they would have done their own country a good service if they had been allowed to stay. At any rate, it was a form of selectivity that was exercised then. Of course, throughout the whole of our history, whether as States or as a Commonwealth, we have exercised selectivity. I do not think anybody in this chamber or in this Parliament would say that this should not be the practice and that this should not be done. Basing our migration programme on chain migrants is a sound way to proceed, for this reason: Chain migration has been described as migration without tears. The work, social services and friendship of the new arrivals are all taken care of within the family and by the family, or the extended family, which of course could include 200 or 300 people. This arrangement has been a demonstrable success. There is no need for us to run away from what has been achieved in that area. Indeed we can learn from it.
The mass recruited migrant is the one in most trouble because he arrives in a disembodied way. He arrives without his family. He arrives without knowing our language and without friends. He arrives to find a situation that is foreign to him not only in terms of a different country but very often in terms of his way of life. We recruit people in the countryside and they end up in the inner suburbs of Sydney. I seem to remember that the last time the estimates for this Department were discussed I referred to the electorate of my friend and colleague, the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope), where there is a situation of fragmentation with large numbers of widows and large numbers of man-less women who are either deserted or the wives of service personnel. Then there is a group of old age pensioners and also a group of refugee Aborigines from the countryside. Three different migrant groups have been brought together, mainly from country areas, and they are put into that situation.
It is obvious that the problems of migration are the problems of the way in which we have either failed to plan their settlement or allowed things to happen to feed the factories in the cities instead of seeing to it that industry was encouraged to develop in the areas where people can live to their best extent and find a new quality of life.
The criticism that has been levelled at migration and the migration programme has not been criticism, as far as 1 have been concerned, of the people who have arrived, because on the whole they have made a tremendous contribution. The criticism has been of the method in which they have been recruited and have come to Australia to be fed into the furnace of industry. This means that if we are to review migration we should review it in the light of the difficulties arising from the non-planning of the settlement of migrants. I find, as I go into Sydney and Melbourne particularly, people talking to me about overcrowding, indeed of over-population. To me this is incredible, representing as I do some towns without people - towns with empty shops, empty houses and empty blocks. Yet one can go into the major capital cities and find people talking about over-population and overcrowding. This is part of the incredible imbalance that we have allowed to develop in Australia generally.
I think a lot of the criticism of the migration programme has come about because the suburban man or woman has looked over the fence and said: ‘We have too many people here. Look at them all.’ Yet when a man crosses the Great Dividing Range he finds that he is meeting everybody coming back because of the rural situation. Then he gets into empty spaces where there is nobody at all. It is this sort of imbalance which has caused the whole of the migration programme to reach a state where it calls for new accounting and new assessment. Obviously it is common sense that the migration programme has to be attuned to the needs of the Australian people and indeed to the needs of the people who come here. So the planning has to be on the basis of economics and should fit in with our overall national planning about what we intend to do with our own population and the people that come to Australia. Obviously we cannot continue to have 2 major cities into which we pour large numbers of people and hope to God that the furnace will melt them down into a common mould. It is a dreadful prospect lt has nothing to do with migration as such. It is a matter of the disjointed approach to national planning that we have.
In the last minute I have I would like to direct attention to 3 specific areas that still need urgent attention. The first is the long delays in issuing visas, particularly to people who are coming on short term stays to visit their families. It took a father of a bridegroom 6 months to finalise arrangements so he would be able to come to his son’s wedding, and he nearly missed it. That is just one illustration. Secondly, the provision of education for migrant children is still far from satisfactory. Above all, the committee which is tackling the recognition of migrant professional and trade qualifications has not had the impact that most migrants hoped for. There is still an area of great dissatisfaction among people who come to Australia and who are not sure whether in fact they can practise in their chosen profession.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the proposed expenditure of $68,024,000. I note that this is somewhat more than the expenditure in 1971-72 which totalled $62,645,585. The total amount for 1970-71 was $77,344,000, and for 1969-70 it was $78,055,000. The proposed expenditure this year is an average yearly expenditure by the Department of Immigration. I would like to confirm the remarks made by the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) about the officers of the Immigration Department overseas. As a member of a parliamentary delegation last year I was able to see at first hand the methods of our immigration officers in Turkey, Yugoslavia, Great Britain, Ireland, Greece and some other countries. I was most impressed with the types of men we had there and with their methods of interviewing and consulting future citizens of this country. I also support the remarks made by the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins). I will deal with that in a few moments.
The policy of the Government this year provides for an intake of 140,000 migrants. Certainly the intake is down on previous years. There are no doubt reasons for this, amongst them being the unemployment we have in our country. But I have no doubt that these figures will increase as this position rights itself. Assisted passages will be provided for 90,000 at a cost of $29.6m. I was pleased to hear the honourable member for Scullin mention in his short address this afternoon that we can be selective with our intake of migrants, because Australia must surely be a land of great opportunity for anyone who is prepared to apply himself to the task of establishing himself in this great country and taking advantage of the great opportunities that exist for him and his children. It is to these children that Australia can really look for future Australians with our outlook on life and who are used to Australian conditions.
We must see that migrants coming to this country are carefully screened, because there is no doubt that we desire to prevent undesirable types arriving here. If I could be critical of our past immigration policy it would be in this sector. I feel that we have not screened and investigated backgrounds of many migrants entering Australia over past years. We must tighten up our security and our investigation in this field. Whilst our check up on health regulations has been first class, I feel that in the screening of migrants we have fallen down. This has been evidenced by the problems that have been experienced over the past twelve or eighteen months. Our interviewing officials overseas must make careful checks of previous character and background. There is no doubt that in past years undesirable characters have arrived, and some overseas countries must have been very happy to get rid of some of them. Of course we must attract migrants. The growth of this country for the past 25 years has been due to our success in attracting migrants. We must continue to bring to Australia migrants of a suitable nature to help us to expand and develop. In the past 3 years immigration programmes reached considerably higher levels than previously. During that time more than 500,000 settlers arrived in Australia. In these years migrants of a high standard have joined our community. The various skills and professions have been widely represented.
Our nation has been built by migrants and we have not yet ceased to build. Perhaps in the future we will no longer need to build and will no longer need migrants but that situation lies in the future and has no practical significance for our time. Public debate on a matter as important as immigration is essential. The Government has clearly stated its policy so that the community can formulate informed views on future immigration. Australia has critics of our immigration policy. This is not new. In the main the criticism is that immigration inhibits economic growth, that our programmes are based merely on getting numbers and ignoring quality. This is one of the main subjects for debate. Some critics regard immigration as the cause of pollution, the urban sprawl, inflation and so on. At times critics give the impression that they believe that immigration is the root cause of everything wrong in Australia and that Australia alone suffers from these problems. They are strangely illinformed.
The problems of the urban sprawl, pollution and so on are world wide and are not even solely the result of affluence and technological change. The solution to these problems lies in a communal effort to avoid the patterns of behaviour leading to them. Our immigration programme takes into account changes in the employment situation, availability of housing and accommodation, balance of the sexes, worker dependent patterns, and factors bearing on the successful integration of migrant groups. This involves very close co-operation between a number of government departments, particularly the Department of Labour and National Service.
I would like more migrants to come into our great country areas. I have no doubt that there are many good reasons why that trend is not occurring. Most migrants seem to live in the cities and this does not prevent troubles which are often witnessed at sporting fixtures and other community efforts. In my electorate are quite a number of migrants. They are mainly situated in the industrial towns such as Maitland, many of them working the coal mining industry, in the erection of power houses, using their skills in a technical field. In the countryside generally there are very few migrants. Most migrants in their native countries were city dwellers, or if they were farmers they lived close to a city. I suppose it is only natural that when they arrive in Australia they wish to take up residence in a city or close to a city. This is a great pity. Australia would benefit if we could obtain more migrants suitable to help us to develop our great country towns and country areas. Decentralisation is necessary and there is a great deal of talk about it. We need a steady flow of migrants coming to this country. They are essential for our development. I support the estimates of the Department of Immigration.
– In discussing the estimates for the Department of Immigration I do not want to raise the propositions to which I referred in my speech on the Budget.
– You made the ‘Bulletin’.
– That is right. I certainly stick to the propositions I raised but I wish to refer to different aspects tonight. I do not usually take time in this House to congratulate officers of any department, but tonight I wish to refer to one officer of the Department of Immigration. I will not name him but people in the Department will know to whom I am referring. He acted beyond the line of duty. Last Christmas Eve I was approached by a Polish migrant who had about a year before applied for his mother to leave Poland and come to Australia. He applied for a visa for her to be admitted into Australia. It appears that his application was lost and the file could not be found. I lost my temper. I said to the parliamentary liaison officer for the Department of Immigration in Sydney that I hoped the election would come soon so that the people who would be put in charge of the Department of Immigration and other departments would realise that they were dealing with human beings and not with files - that it is terribly important for the migrant in Australia and especially for the relative he is trying to bring out here that there is no delay through loss of files. It is no comfort to them that the relevant file cannot be found.
I admit that I lost my temper. I did not really expect anything to be done before the new year. The gentleman concerned m the Department apparently took the matter much more seriously than I had expected because at 6 o’clock on Christmas Eve I received a phone call from him at home. He was on his way to Blacktown. The migrant concerned did not live in my electorate but in the electorate of Mitchell. The officer of the Department could not find the address I had given him due to some changes in the nomenclature of the streets. I would like to pay a tribute to him because he obviously realised that when people are trying to get their relatives out from behind the bon Curtain or from other places big issues are involved. It is terribly important that officers of the Department of Immigration always remember that they are dealing with human beings - with individuals.
I am probably not the only honourable member who has had experience of a problem such as I am about to outline. A group of people is trying to get away from Iraq. I do not usually inquire into religious backgrounds but it appears that they are Christians who form a small minority group in Iraq. All kinds of obstacles are being placed in their way by the Iraqi Government to prevent their coming to this country. They cannot apply for a visa in Iraq. That must be done by their relatives in this country. The people in Iraq must go to Lebanon or Syria to be examined by officers of the Department of Immigration for the purpose of deciding whether they are fit and proper persons to come to this country.
I make a special plea to the Minister and to the Department of Immigration to realise that the Department is dealing with people who are for practical purposes refugees, political or religious refugees. I do not know a great deal about Iraq. The relatives of these people are in Australia and some of them are living in my electorate. I met them at a naturalisation ceremony and I have met other Iraqis since then. They are certainly very reasonable and able people who should be helped to bring their relatives to this country even if methods outside the usual procedures must be adopted. I recently wrote to the Minister for Immigration concerning a case in which the relatives of a person who has been rejected for immigration are living in Australia. The family has outstanding qualifications. The brother-in-law of the person for whom the family is applying is the head chemist with one of the oil companies in this country. He has degrees from the University of Reading and he has received or is about to receive a Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales. It is an outstanding family.
His wife’s brother has been rejected for admission into this country because his work record is not up to scratch. He is a boy who has just turned 18. For the last year, he has been waiting in Beirut for permission to come to Australia. He must have arrived in Beirut at the age of 17 years, lt is hard to understand just what kind of a work record a person aged 17 years, who is living in a country where apparently he or his family is being persecuted for their religious beliefs, is supposed to have. I appeal to the Minister for Immigration to go out of his way to examine this case and to bring that person to Australia. The circumstances involved are tragic and I think that special steps should be taken to bring him to Australia.
In the two or three minutes remaining to me I would like to repeat a point which arises from the general question of immigration. In addition to the points that have been raised tonight on whether migrants should be allowed into this country, 1 think to some extent we must realise that some of the opposition to immigration has developed because of the popularisation of what is commonly known as zero population growth. It is a proposition which is vaguely mixed up with the general movement referred to as ecology. I think that the concept of zero population growth has developed an almost religious fanaticism about it. There is a theme of the apocalyptic about it. People claim to be able to see - some of them even claim this by the use of computers - and to calculate exactly when the whole world will collapse and when everybody will die or starve because of the way the world’s population is increasing.
I think that every honourable member in this House realises that the increase in the world’s population is a disturbing feature and that it would be in the interests of the population as a whole if the increase could at least be slowed down, if not completely stopped. But do not let us get carried away with slogans to the effect that the only way we can teach India not to increase its population is by not increasing our population in Australia and then to go on to the next step and say that the only way we can stop Australia’s population increasing is by stopping immigration. The proposition of zero population growth is highly debatable. I draw the attention of the ouse to the fact that computers are being used, but all that is being fed into the computers are certain propositions put forward by the people who use them.
As somebody pointed out - correctly, to my mind - if those computers had been used in 1870 or 1880 to determine the maximum population growth for New York or London, it would have been decided thai population growth would have to stop in 1920 because everybody would have been up to the neck in horse manure. The proposition to which 1 am trying to draw attention is that we are not aware of the sorts of technological advances that will occur, that may be possible and which, in fact, will be necessary if the population pressure exceeds its present rate.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Australia’s post-war immigration programme, which has played such an important part in our national development, is to be continued in the 1972-73 financial year. At the outset, I should like to pay my personal tribute to an honourable member who is not in the House at the moment but who is leaving us at the end of the life of this Parliament. I refer, of course, to the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) who, as Minister for Immigration during the early post-war years, laid the foundation of what is generally regarded as one of the most spectacular and successful mass migration programmes in history. To the right honourable member for Melbourne and to the first permanet head of the Department of Immigration, Sir Tasman Heyes, must go the main credit for launching this monumental scheme. I pay tribute also to the dedicated Ministers for Immigration and officials who have served Australia so well over the years since that time and who are serving Australia now.
The Government has announced that, on the basis of likely needs and the availability of suitable settlers, 140,000 migrants will be admitted during the current financial year, 90,000 of these being assisted migrants. I believe the word ‘suitable’ needs to be emphasised. It is undeniable that some migrants who have come into this country over the years have proved to be unsuitable. Perhaps it can be said that, in a large intake, there are bound to be some who are not able to be satisfactorily assimilated. I think we would all accept that proposition. In fact, some have returned of their own accord to the countries from which they came because they found that they could not become happily integrated or assimilated in the Australian way of life.
I believe there is a very strong feeling in the Australian community that all possible steps should be taken to keep a close watch on our selection and screening processes in order to ensure that we allow in only those who are reasonably certain to be assimilated successfully. Australianborn babies, of course, are the best and cheapest newcomers of ali. I believe I am voicing the views of a great majority of Australians when I say that we should be very careful not to import problems for our own or for future generations to contend with. In other words, we should avoid setting up minority groups which, for ethnic or other reasons, could become in future years a festering sore on the body politic. If we are wise, we will learn from the experience of other countries. We must always remember that we in this Parliament are the elected representatives of the people of Australia. We hold positions of trust and we betray that trust if we go against the clear wishes of the people. I say without hesitation that I believe most Australians are strongly opposed to the admission of people from other countries without any exercise of discrimination.
The Australian Labor Party at its Launceston conference last year made a radical departure from its traditional immigration policy by proposing to abolish all forms of discrimination. I do not consider that this proposed relaxation is in Australia’s best interest. The longstanding bi-partisan policy on immigration has unfortunately been abandoned officially by the Australian Labor Party, and its chief spokesman for many years on immigration matters, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), has been unceremoniously dropped because he does not agree with the proposed removal of all forms of discrimination. It is easy for honourable members opposite to say, as some of them have said, that they will reduce the overall migrant intake. The essential fact that the Australian people need to realise is that a Labor government would admit migrants from anywhere at all without discrimination and, therefore, regardless of their ability to be successfully assimilated. This is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the fundamental change in the Australian Labor Party platform last year.
The Government is placing increasing emphasis on migrant counselling and selection, and also on English language training and migrant welfare services. This is a most valuable move. I believe we must endeavour by every possible means to assist migrants after their arrival to become happy and successful settlers. I am sure that the Government’s plans will help to achieve this very desirable result.
– 1 wish to raise three or four matters tonight in the consideration of the estimates of the Department of Immigration but firstly I feel that I must not let the opportunity pass without referring to one of the statements made by the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury). He referred to the fact that the Opposition’s bipartisan policy on immigration had been abandoned. I interjected at that point and said: ‘Hear, hear!’ I repeat that remark and say that it is to the credit of the Australian Labor Party that it has cast itself adrift from the discriminatory practices into which this Government has allowed itself to lapse in the interpretation of what we hoped could have continued to be an immigration policy that did not discriminate against people for malicious reasons. The Labor Party has specifically laid down in its policy that it would not discriminate against people because of the colour of their skin or their ethnic origin. But to suggest, as some honourable members opposite have suggested in the fear tactics preceding an election, that this attitude of the Australian Labor Party indicates an open door to Asiatic migration or to the breakdown of the Australian way of life, is malicious in the extreme.
As the time available to me this evening is brief 1 will not devote any more time to that point, but I am sure that the Australian people will take those remarks of honourable members opposite for what they are worth and disregard them completely because I think that today they are well aware of the actions of this Government as it moves one step at a time towards injecting tear into the community in the hope that Government supporters will retain their seats in the Parliament and that the Government will regain office at the forthcoming election. I want to refer to several aspects of immigration policy that I believe give the lie to some of the instant policies of the Government of recent times and which indicate very clearly the breakdown of what we hoped could have continued as a fair and reasonable bipartisan policy on immigration. In recent days honourable members were treated to the Government’s instant policy on decentralisation. Probably in no other way than in the treatment of migrants coming into the country could it be more aptly illustrated that his Government has no genuine interest in decentralisation.
Let us take, for argument’s sake, the hostels that have been provided for migrants in Australia. Thirteen of the 14 of those hostels are in capital city areas. The purpose of the hostels is, rightly, to provide services to assist new arrivals to settle into the community with the minimum of heartbreak and in the quickest possible time, to provide welfare officers to assist them with their problems of education and social services, to provide housing advisory officers and employment services. The important point to consider is that when the free accommodation available to a migrant is set up in areas where employment is not available and the migrant has to move from that centre to seek employment, he is left very squarely on his own. The Commonwealth fails to take any further interest in him. Its attitude is: ‘You can go, but you go on your own.’ If the Commonwealth had any genuine interest in establishing a policy of decentralisation that the nation has been crying out for - the Liberal-Country Party coalition has been aroused in recent days by the Labor Party’s long standing policy on decentralisation - nowhere would it have been better for the Government to start than with the establishment of migrant hostels in places other than the capital cities.
I want to refer to another matter which illustrates how this Government has abandoned any semblance of interest in a continuation of a bipartisan policy. How long has the Government continued this ridiculous policy of a $20 holiday in Australia? Despite realistic efforts by honourable members on this side of the Parliament and even on odd occasions by some of the more forward thinking members on the other side of the Parliament, the Government has absolutely refused to concede the need for any change in this policy. I call on the Government tonight, at this eleventh hour of its existence, to cast aside the $20 holiday in Australia which has been so openly abused by so many thousands of what I might refer to as illegitimate migrants who have come to this country, particularly during recent years. In the few remaining minutes available to me I want to refer to another reason why the migration programme has broken down from the point of being considered realistically a bi-partisan policy. I refer to the failure of this Government to provide decent, reasonable social serevice benefits for migrants. Because of the complicated systems of social service benefits which vary from country to country they may not have been aware before they came here of the unattractiveness of the social benefits in Australia. After being in Australia a short time they clearly become aware of these inadequacies. Let me quote from ‘DutchAustralian Weekly’ of 14th May 1971 which in part reads:
But like so many ostriches the powers that we are ignoring - deliberately and stupidly ignoring - the main reason for that reverse stream: Australia’s shocking social services that run miles behind the times.
The report goes on:
Australia will never get out of the doldrums - will never regain its name as a really good country to migrate to - if it does not realise that it is not the rest of the world which is out of step as far as social services are concerned but Australia and Australia alone.
In case it is argued that this is a biased approach and a biased attitude to social services in Australia, let me refer briefly to a report of a committee which was chaired by the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox). Among others on the committee was the past president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Albert Monk. The report said:
The Committee . . . expressed a strong doubt that social services in Australia could be considered as a positive factor in the attraction of migrants from Europe.
The advisory committee that was set up by the Government to inquire into aspects of its current migration policy made that very forthright condemnation of the Government in relation to social service benefits and their influence on the return of migrants from Australia once they reached the stage - to put it quite bluntly - of waking up that they had been hoodwinked into believing that they were coming to a country where a better life was available for them. While this story may have sold very easily in the days after the war, that position no longer exists.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Bowman Mr Keogh) asked us to be reassured that the Australian Labor Party will maintain an immigration policy which will be in the best interests of Australia. I am afraid I am not reassured. I join the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury) in paying tribute to the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) for his great contribution to the Australian migration programme.
– I hope you are not reflecting on me and saying that I do not pay a great compliment to him.
– I have not heard the honourable member for Bowman do so and in my opinion his views run contrary to those of the right honourable member for Melbourne. The honourable member for Bowman seems to suggest that we attract migrants by giving them handouts. In other words, they will not earn their keep but will be a burden on the taxpayer who will provide handouts for them. This country was built by people who came here to make a way of life and, by golly, they did pretty well. They made a great contribution to Australia and built a wonderful country. We can undermine our Australian way of life quite easily.
The honourable member for Bowman said that we do not discriminate against the colour of the skin or things of that kind. I agree with him. We do not judge a man on the colour of his skin but on his way of life, and if we import people with a completely different approach to life then we are headed for trouble. One has only to look at other countries which have brought in trouble through immigration. I maintain that the problems are caused by a cultural difference, a difference of attitude to life. Our trouble is that we cannot attract people who made a success of their own countries. How many Scandinavians or north Europeans do we attract to Australia? These are the people who have made a success of life in their own countries. We can attract only the people who have made a devil of a mess of life in their own countries - and they will make a devil of a mess of Australia.
– I rise to order. That is a reflection on the Minister for Immigration.
– Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I take that bait the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) has offered. I make no reflection on the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes); he has to carry out Government policy. I pay tribute to the tight honourable member for Melbourne for the action he took on an earlier occasion when we were short of manpower to develop this country. But it is time that we took a pull on this migration operation, particularly in respect of bringing people here who are in such a desperate situation in their own countries that for them anything is better. I know there are great interests in Australia which are allegedly short of manpower to develop our resources. But at the same time we have thousands of Australians, skilled people, going to universities and high schools. Some of them are strange people, I admit, but the majority are first rate. Surely to goodness we should protect job opportunities for them rather than bring thousands of people from overseas because whatever outlook our own people may have, they are Australians. They are imbued with the traditions of Australia.
We have seen what has happened elsewhere. It is all very well for the academic world and the World Council of Churches and such people to say that all men are equal. This does not work out in practice. We have to look at the immigration policies of some of the colonial powers. Britain brought people of a completely different culture into her colonies to build a work force. Look at Uganda today, and Fiji, British Guiana, Mauritius and Sri Lanka and see the legacies that have been left there. We have sympathy for Britain today in having to absorb about 30,000 Asians. However, this is the result of poor policies implemented years ago. Britain allowed in people who could not assimilate in the country in which they went to work. It we are not very careful we will have the same situation here. I believe this view is shared by the vast majority of Australians, not because they despise or look down on people with black skins or anything of this nature but because these people are different. No-one in the world has yet worked out a formula whereby people of different cultures can live in harmony.
We in Australia have a particular problem. We are the outpost of Western civilisation in the western Pacific area. Australia is the top country in the southwest Pacific. There is no other country to equal it. We have millions of people of different cultures to the north of us. We can be friends with these people and can give them support but we can be taken over not by war but because of our immigration policies. If we bring these people of foreign cultures into Australia-
– What about the 9,000 you brought in last year?
– I do not know about that. Our immigration programme has to be closed down to a great extent. We have to clamp down on this desperate desire to bring migrants to Australia. At present, we are looking towards Asia. People in my electorate say: ‘We refuse Chinese and we refuse various other Asians but we are bringing people from the Middle East into Australia. Are they not Asians?’ They are Asians. Australia cannot be in such a desperate situation that it needs these people. We need to build a high standard of living in Australia and the only way in which we will do it is by developing our own community here and resisting the migration of those people who are trying to come in and undermine our standards.
– We have just listened to a speech giving views quite the opposite of what has been enunciated by the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). The honourable member for Mcpherson (Mr Barnes) said that our early settlers came here some hundreds of years ago free and seeking freedom. If he had read anything of Australian history he would know that they came in stinking hulks, bound in chains, and were thrashed, and evidence of this is still available for the honourable member to see if he cares to visit Sydney.
– What about South Australia?
– It is all right for the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) to interject in a debate such as this. I looked at last year’s Hansard to see what he said in this debate last year and I suggest that he look at what he said then and consider himself in front of a mirror for the damned fool he made of himself on that occasion. No doubt he will rise to do the same tonight. It is no use standing in this chamber in 1972, on the threshold of 1973, harping and parroting: ‘The post-war years demanded that we have an expanding numbers game of migration’. It is no damned good, if I may use that expression, anybody heaping congratulations upon the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who is not present with us tonight, because he initiated this vast scheme. And it is no use the honourable member for McPherson, in the short time that he has left in this chamber, saying that we are bringing in underprivileged people. Was not that the basis of the immigration policies of 1945 and 1946? Did we not offer sanctuary not only to people who were underprivileged but who had no privileges at all? Honourable members opposite do not know what they are talking about in that regard. But one cannot refer to 1973 as a post-war year unless one is referring to our involvement in Vietnam. It is not practicable to adopt a 1945-46 attitude in 1973. Today there is no necessity to embark upon a policy such as that enunciated by the Treasurer a few weeks ago to increase the number of immigrants coming into Australia. Probably, of the immigrants who come here, a greater percentage will be lost than has been lost in the last 2 years. The Government is wasting the financial resources of the country by bringing immigrants here when it knows damn well that almost one-third will return to their own country.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! I ask the honourable member to moderate his language.
– I hardly think that I was swearing. But the Government knows darn well that 30,000 immigrants will go back to their own country. It is no good the Minister worrying about retaining the seat of Barker. If he picks up any migrant paper that has been published in this country, particularly in the last few weeks and reads the public opinion polls that have been taken amongst immigrants he will find that 80 per cent of them say that the Government ought to be sacked. Let him remember that.
Only a few days ago in this House we witnessed the attitude of another Minister as expressed through the Minister for Immigration who is the Acting Minister for Health and former Minister for the Army and God knows what else. The Government hides the figures for immigration unemployment. It should look at the poverty surveys and see some of the areas of real poverty. It should make itself aware of the incidence of poverty in some of the great cities of this country.
The great majority of immigrants find themselves in the automobile industry, assembling vehicles for General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd, Chrysler Australia Ltd and Ford Motor Co. of Aust. Ltd. What a great future for them! They are on such low wages that the Minister had to provide a subsidised medical scheme for them. Then he did not have the courage to advertise among the immigrants that the scheme was available to them. The Government cannot regard immigration in 1973 as it did in 1953. It cannot afford to continue to fetch the number of people to this country that it used to bring here if it considers the views of the people who support it. The Chamber of Manufactures in Victoria is one organisation that supports - or used to support - the Government. Perhaps that organisation has now given the Government away. However, it has told the Government, as a result of a survey of expectations of employment for the next 5 years that there will be half a million unemployed in this country. Five years is not a very long time to the newcomer to this country who might possibly be able to get his feet off the ground in that time and get a mortgage around his neck in order to start buying a home. The minimum figure is half a million. Multiply that by 3 and you will probably have the number of people who will be involved.
The Government has not engaged in any planning for educational needs as far as building is concerned. Housing is another matter in which no planning has taken place. Despite an initial expenditure of $ 15m on immigrant education the scheme is a shambles and a damn shame.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order!
– What is the position of schools in my electorate where 70 per cent of the children are immigrants? I say to honourable members opposite that this is no laughing matter. Let them go into the schools there. When the Minister replies to this debate, let him tell honourable members how many teachers have been put in there in order to overcome the language problems initially. Can the Minister tell the House whether he has accepted the suggestion I made to his predecessor that provision ought to be made in at least 2 schools in that area for a pre-school crash course in English over a period of 12 months? A child who goes to a school like this and is stuck with the problem of a language difficulty for the first 2 or 3 years at school is disadvantaged for the whole of his life.
Do honourable members know what the response was to my suggestion? A teacher was put in that school with 3 weeks training. Whether that person had taught previously is open to question. The Government has to come down to the human areas of this problem. It has to come down to the areas that affect individual people, not only the broad masses of people who are at the whim of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd at Whyalla. I say to the Minister also that no industry has been set up in Whyalla for the employment of females. Whyalla consists mostly of a shipbuilding yard, and the Government has done nothing to overcome this problem of female employment.
The Minister should look at some of the reports that are compiled from time to time as a result of seminars and congresses that are held in this city. They used to be held at the rate of one every 12 months or 2 years. The Minister should have a look at the recommendations at committee level which resulted from discussions that went on all week. The Minister should stand in this chamber in the next hour and acquaint us with one recommendation of that committee that this Government in fact has implemented. Is it any wonder that the Government cries to the Opposition: ‘Tell us about your policy. Tell us whether you will open the flood gates.’ It is a lot of rot. I hope the Minister will tell me about the human problems within the migrant field. I hope he will tell me how he stopped the speculators who were rampant in the United Kingdom and who were conning people to come here with the promise of a job but requiring them firstly to sign a contract to purchase ‘a home. Does the Government really tell the English migrant the real money value of wages in Australia for a fitter and turner, a mechanic, a bricklayer or a carpenter? The Government has not done that. It has been completely dishonest in its approach to people who have been conned into coming here.
Is it any wonder that 30 per cent of migrants return to their home country? Those migrants who want to go back but cannot go back suffer in poverty, and the Government knows it. If it does not know it, all I suggest is that it has been so completely dominated by executive control over the last 15 or 20 years that it has turned its back completely on the problems of the people it is supposed to represent. What I say is true. I invite the Minister or any Government supporter, once the Prime Minister decides when we should have the election, to trot into my electorate and I will tell him some facts. The Government has done nothing in the way of migrant planning in the past or the present. While unemployment remains at the present levels I believe that every British newspaper should publish the facts so that there is no response to the Government’s recruitment campaign in the United Kingdom for people to come out here and go onto unemployment relief, such as it is.
– Speaking in the House of Representatives on 8th September 1949 the then Minister for Immigration, Mr Calwell, said:
So far we have relied on the scheme for nominated immigrants from the United Kingdom. However, no system of nominated immigrants could possibly be sufficient to handle the number of new settlers we now anticipate, and a development in the near future will be the arrival of unnominated people from the United Kingdom.
– Who was the Minister? Dr FORBES - Mr Calwell. The Minister went on to say:
It is obvious that there must soon be a big development of the flow of unnominated British immigrants, who will have initial accommodation provided jointly by the Commonwealth and the States. The flow of such people will be most beneficial, as their freedom from prior contracts will allow us a much wider field of selection particularly of skilled tradesmen and workers of types which are needed. They will find and make opportunities in Australia.
The events of the past quarter century, which have seen the extension of unsponsored migration to other countries - which have also become important migrant sources for us - have proved beyond serious challenge the perceptiveness of these policies enunciated by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) and their value to Australia. Yet, in the face of the evidence provided by the contemporary history of this country, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) now proposes to revert to policies which, a quarter of a century ago, were demonstrably inadequate for our needs.
The new policies of the Opposition would require, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, that ‘the Government’s postwar migration promotion should now be transferred to Australian individuals and citizens.’ It would rely on ‘the migration of people who are nominated by friends or relatives or prospective employers in Australia’. This statement was made by the Leader of the Opposition on the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio programme AM’ on 21st January this year, but similar statements have been made before and since.
What would be the effect of this policy? An analysis of settler arrivals for the 5 years ended June 1972 shows that 50 per cent of all the settlers who came to Australia during this time were either Commonwealth or State nominees; a further 12 per cent were unsponsored migrants, mainly free flow’ unassisted British settlers; and only 38 per cent of all those who arrived during the 5 years were privately nominated settlers. Of these, J 7 per cent were assisted and 21 per cent unassisted.
To abandon Government nominated migration would, therefore, have the effect of reducing settler arrivals by at least 50 per cent. Serious consequences would follow for Australia if the policies now advocated were to be introduced. Firstly, the Government would lose effective control of the immigration programme and in particular it would lose control over the composition of the programme. Secondly, the Government would be precluded from using the immigration programme to reinforce and ensure the success of policies of regional development. Thirdly, migration from northern Europe, the United States of America and Latin America would be almost totally eliminated, migration from Britain would be heavily reduced and migration from other important traditional sources would be very seriously affected.
The Australian economy would lose a major source of skilled and other key workers. Analysis of assisted settler arrivals during the 5 years ended June 1972 shows that only 20.4 per cent of the skilled workers who came to Australia during this time were personally sponsored. Restriction of migration to a sponsorship scheme would have meant that almost 79,000 of the 98,847 skilled workers who came as assisted migrants during this period would have been lost to Australia. Only 20,165 skilled workers would have been gained instead of 98,847 who actually came.
I want particularly to comment on the loss of effective Government control over immigration which would result from Labor policies. The Leader of the Opposition has stated that under Labor policies: ‘A government would decide the total intake of migrants into Australia but as long as this total were not exceeded, the people who came in would be determined by people already here.’ But this would be inadequate. Effective control of immigration requires firstly, that the composition of the migrant intake in terms of sources, skills and integration prospects is suitably balanced, and secondly, that action should be taken by the Government as and when necessary to ensure that the numbers and types of migrants coming to Australia are in harmony with our needs.
It is as essential to see that our needs are met as it is to ensure that they are not exceeded. Moreover, the composition of the migrant intake is at least as crucial as the total numbers. In these important respects Labor’s immigration policies would provide insufficient control. According to the Leader of the Opposition the Labor Party would set a numerical upper limit to immigration. The composition of the migrant flow and the numbers actually arriving here, provided that upper limits were not exceeded, would be uncontrolled. The effect of this loss of control on both European and non-European migration is, in the light of all past experience, the most serious defect of the Labor Party’s policies.
The effect of the ALP proposals would be to cut assisted migration from Britain by more than 60 per cent. Migration from such countries as Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Switzerland, the United States of America and the countries of Latin America would be virtually eliminated. Migration from other important source countries would be seriously affected. These consequences are inevitable, regardless of whether sponsorship is confined to relatives or more broadly based. In the longer term the effects of this policy would become increasingly severe. The reason is that migrants who are themselves unsponsored often sponsor relatives. Abolition of government nominated migration would, therefore, result in a consequential decline in personal nominations.
The second of the major defects in Labor’s immigration policies is that the government would be precluded from using the immigration programme to reinforce and ensure the success of policies of regional development. For obvious reasons sponsored migrants, on arriving in Australia, wish to join their sponsors. They are not normally available for work in other centres. Only the migrant who has no prior personal commitment is free to move to a regional centre or developmental project which offers him suitable opportunities. With only sponsored migration the government would also be prevented from using the immigration programme as an effective instrument of population policy. In this context it is relevant to remind the Parliament that the Government has commissioned far-reaching population studies which are premised on the availabality to the Government of effective control of immigration as a means of implementing population policies.
In summary, regardless pf whether sponsorship is confined to relatives or is more widely based the Labor Party’s policies would mean that firstly the Government would lose effective control of the immigration programme. Secondly, migration from Northern Europe, the United States of America and Latin America would virtually cease. Migration from other important traditional sources would also be seriously affected. Thirdly, if sponsorship were to be confined to relatives immigration would fall drastically - so much so that we would face the very real prospect of being unable to make good our own population losses through emigration. Fourthly, if broader based sponsorships were adopted the level of immigration would still fall sharply to begin with.
Subsequently, it would increase; principally because of the effect of new sponsorship patterns of migration, which is at present restricted and would no longer be restricted. This would be accelerated by the introduction of assisted passages for this category of immigrant, as has been foreshadowed by the Labor Party.
One final point deserves emphasis.. It concerns the effects of Labor’s .immigration policies on the Australian economy. Whichever sponsorship conditions applied Labor’s policies would result in an immediate sharp check to the economy. Business, confidence, consumer spending and job opportunities would be prejudiced. Moreover, having voluntarily relinquished effective control of immigration, a government which implemented Labor’s immigration policies would be largely powerless to redress the situation.
– 1 deplore the immorality of letting in only those who will easily fit into the community. If the case for immigration is for Australia’s benefit alone then as an advanced, rich country we surely stand condemned for taking only those who are well qualified to fit easily into this country. These are the citizens their homelands probably can least afford to lose. If the case for immigration is to help relieve population pressures in the countries of origin then again with our technique of selection we are taking the ones who are a minimal burden to their homeland. It is the poor, the ignorant and the illiterate who pose the greatest problem in population control. So our policy of leaving them where they are just aggravates the position. We do not want them, it seems, on most of the arguments offered by the Liberals.
If the case for immigration is to provide a refuge for those who wish to leave their countries of origin because of persecution, such as is the case with those being expelled from Uganda, then again, to be consistent in our humanitarianism. we should not be selective - but we are. We are prepared to take a small number - the prize pickings, as it were. But what about the rest, the less advantaged? They can be someone else’s problem, it seems. We must not import anyone with a different culture. We must not import the failures or the misfits according to the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Barnes). Those remarks epitomised to me the utter immorality of the whole attitude on that side of the House.
During the years of our massive immigration programme we were not very selective in terms of quality as long as the immigrants were white. 1 deplore the dreadful racism involved, but 1 wish to discuss the effect of this non-selective white immigration. Of course, it helped Australia and we are the richer for it. Of course, migrants have made a magnificent contribution to Our development, despite the frequent prejudice they suffered as they educated us old Australians to become more tolerant, to become better human beings.
However, the situation in Australia has now changed. .Australia is having difficulty with employment and economic crisis seems endemic. So those most exposed to suffering in this situation are the new Australians. These are the reasons why the Australian Labor Party suggests assisted migration should be curtailed at this stage. However, we must always respect personal relationships and family groups. So we say that we will continue to allow relations of those already here to come in, irrespective of their race, colour or creed. The Government would lose effective control of immigration if assisted migration was stopped, according to the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). In fact, his whole speech reaffirmed the fact that Australia’s sole intention is to rob other countries of their skilled workers for our benefit. This can be guaranteed only if we have assisted migration, not if it depends upon families sponsoring their own relations. I can only deplore this attitude.
As humanitarians, in the state of the world today - I am not talking about Australia and its needs 20 years ago - we should take immigrants only at the rate at which we can absorb them, and not to depend on them for cheap labour. I do not know what that figure is, but it certainly should not be determined only on the criterion of easy assimilation with no effort on our part, and at the same time robbing other countries of their skilled workers.
– During the weekend the Leader .of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was reported to have made a policy statement in Townsville in the electorate of my very good friend, the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), which I consider should be viewed with considerable concern by the Australian people. It was given very little publicity in the Press and I should like to draw attention to it during this debate on the estimates because on both practical and moral grounds I am totally opposed to it. In the publication setting out Labor’s policy immigration takes up little space, something less than 2 inches, and like most of the Labor Party policies is capable of being interpreted in a number of ways. On one line it says that the basis of Labor’s policy on immigration will include:
One would take from that statement that Labor would follow the present Government’s policy of maintaining a homogeneous population. But on the very next line it is stated:
These 2 statements are self-contradictory. It is obvious that people of different races, skin colours and nationalities have different standards of living and traditions. They most certainly have different cultures. How then can these 2 entirely opposite statements both represent one policy. They are totally incompatible. They are similar to most statements in the Labor Party’s platform, which I believe have been deliberately framed in a vague manner to allow of any interpretation if and when the Labor Party gets into power. And this is why we hive so many contradictory statements on policy matters emanating from the Opposition. This is the reason why we get statements from the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) claiming that the present immigration policy would continue under a Labor government and such contradictory statements from the South Australian Labor Premier, Mr Dunstan, that a Labor government would virtually open the floodgates.
But it is with the reported statement of th Leader of the Opposition, made in Townsville last weekend, that I am concerned mainly. He made a statement which amounted to the scrapping of the present assisted passages scheme, a scheme started by his predecessor, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), and carried on successfully by successive governments during the past 27 years. He said a Labor government would not seek migrants actively and that it would not stop anyone in Australia, white or colored, vidual citizens to determine - not the Govfrom bringing in relatives as migrants. He said that migration was a matter for indi.ernment, mind you, but individual citizens - and that a Labor government would decide only the total intake. If the Leader of the Opposition was correctly reported, it is clear that he would abrogate the present migration policy, which is aimed at building a homogeneous society in Australia. The present migration policy is a great tribute to the right honourable member for Melbourne, who, as a relatively junior Minister, first introduced it in 1946. The effect of this sound policy will be felt for generations to come. It will still be a monument to his sound judgment in days which he and probably most of us may not see.
The Government’s present migration policy has done much to bring progress, prosperity and development to Australia. Migrants have brought great skills to this country. They have helped Australia grow. At the end of the war our population was something like 7 million. Today it is over 13 million and we still have a homogeneous population. If Australia is to become a great nation we must continue to increase our population, and the best way to do this is to continue our present assisted migration policy. At present we are bringing in 140,000 migrants a year, 10,000 of whom are non-European. This is a humane policy aimed at avoiding racial tensions such as we have seen develop in other countries, countries which have adopted a laissezfaire attitude to migration - a policy which is being advocated by the Leader of the Opposition at the present time. Our immigration policy is not based on any strange idea that, because our colour is white, we are superior to someone whose colour is black or something else. It is based on keeping a homogeneous population and avoiding the tensions which inevitably occur when people of different races, traditions and cultures are indiscriminately thrown together.
There are 2 basic reasons why Australia’s immigration policy should continue in its present form. One is that this policy has been proven. It has been largely responsible for making Australia the great nation which it is today. But there is another reason that is equally as - no, certainly more - important. I believe it is more important because it is a moral reason. We have a vast continent that is capable of supporting much more of the world’s population. With the techniques of future science it would be a bold man who would set a figure of limitation on the population that Australia could carry in future years. We have most certainly a moral duty to fake a greater share of the world’s population. We may not be prepared to do this now but it should be remembered that we may not always have a choice as to whom we do take. So let us continue to encourage and assist as many people to come to Australia as we can absorb, provided we can absorb them as far as is possible into a homogeneous society, a society which is not only in the interests of Australians but also of migrants themselves. It is most disturbing to learn that the Leader of the Opposition would scrap Australia’s assisted migration scheme if he ever became Prime Minister of this country.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - I call the honourable member for Prospect.
Motion (by Mr Giles) proposed.
That the question be now put. . . .
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - The question is: ‘That the question be now put’.
– Could I have leave to make a short statement? It will take only about a minute. It would prevent a vote having to be taken on the closure. I want to make a short explanation.
– The honourable member is entitled to make a personal explanation.
Or Klugman - I do not want to make a personal explanation. I just want to quote a few figures. It will take me only a minute to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect)- by leaveEarlier tonight the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) made the point that if the Australian Labor Party’s proposals were implemented we would not get any good Nordic or Aryan immigrants which he prefers. I am not one who makes differentiations, but to illustrate how little the Minister knows about his Department I wish to draw the attention of the House to an answer he gave to me on 19th September - just over a week ago - in which he informed me that the number of personal nominees - the sort of people we are talking about - coming from the United Kingdom during the last 5 years has averaged approximately 40,000 a year. This has been at a time when there has been no great advantage to people who wanted to come to Australia from the United Kingdom in being nominated. I submit that the Minister does not read the answers he signs; that he is not aware what is going on in the Department; and that he is completely wrong on this issue as he is on most other issues.
Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts
Proposed expenditure, $43,411,000.
Debate resumed from 26 September 1972 (vide page 1956), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Beazley had moved:
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 ot 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.’
– I wish to comment on the remarks of the last speaker for the Opposition, the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds), about the advantages that private schools have over other schools. His remarks were quite erroneous. Obviously he does not know of the situation that prevails at private schools. I have been associated with private schools.
– I will bet that the honourable member has not been associated with public schools.
– I have. I have had children at public schools; so I know something about them. A lot of nonsense is spoken about the private schools. That amazes me. I suppose there would be quite a number of wealthy people who send their children to independent schools. On the other hand there are hundreds of thousands of people who have to scrape and save to send their children to independent schools but who choose to do so because they are concerned about the situation that prevails at some government schools. The honourable member for Barton referred to quite a ridiculous tax formula. He went into the tax savings of people who send their children to independent schools. He said - I will take the extreme example - that a person who had a taxable income of $20,000 a year would receive a taxation deduction of $241 on education expenses of $400. That was the substance of the point he made. But he did not mention that the person paying this sum was also contributing a considerable amount by way of taxation to the support of government schools. Is that not a fair thing? The honourable member for Barton’s argument is one which does not hold water. The important thing is that people should be able to choose where they want their children to be educated.
Many responsible people are concerned about education. After all the education of their children is a very important subject to them. I wish to quote what was said by Mrs Margaret Slattery on the television programme ‘Monday Conference’ on 18th September at Armidale. She said:
I want them-
That is, her children - brought up in the Catholic faith, and this is why I choose a Catholic school, because I look on the school as an extension of the home, and in my home I have certain values I try and transmit to the children. When they go to school I want them to be in an atmosphere where I feel the same type of values are transmitted to them. I feel I just don’t want them taught purely secular subjects, because I feel that a religious background is vital to their whole wellbeing, their whole education, and for this reason I want them in this atmosphere.
We are living in an era of progressive movements and revolutionary groups. Strikes are taking place in high schools and all sorts of strange doctrines are being expressed in our schools. I shall quote an American authority on this. After all, to preserve our way of life is very important. We have long had a tradition of Christianity, which many people are now seeking to destroy. The American authority to which I refer states:
What has destroyed the capacity of society to contain its problems is that the American middle class has permitted its values to be destroyed in the minds of its own children by those it paid to teach them.
Many of the most distinguished academics, paid to teach, were barely known to their students, who never saw them. They became business gogetters, taking government jobs and using the funds of foundations. Their own students came to despise them, as their opposite numbers justly despise many academics in Australian universities.
The important thing is that at least we have an opportunity of choice of education for our children. This is not Labor Party policy. We heard in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Health the Opposition’s suggestion that we should not have a number of medical benefit funds but one great national fund and that we should have no choice. In education we would have a similar situation under Labor. Take an area where a State school operates. What child has an opportunity to go somewhere else? He must go to the local school.
– That is not so.
– He has to go to the local school unless the parent suffers great hardship. In today’s progressive society people have strange ideas about drugs, abortion and so on. We have different points of view represented in this Parliament. I respect different points of view. The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass), who I believe is a sincere man - and I admire him for his sincerity - is all for the legalisation of pot. For all I know he may be a headmaster some day, or a teacher in a school may have his ideas. Would I be happy to send my children to that school? The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) advocates legalised abortion. If a headmaster has the same views as the honourable member for Prospect and you have to send your child there, what is your attitude? The important thing is that parents should have a choice, so that they may send their children where they believe they will acquire the values they have been taught at home. We have to take these things very seriously. We have had 2,000 years of Christianity, and a challenge is being made today to our Christian principles by the new progressive movement. This is by no means the first time we have seen this in the world. I believe that Christianity will survive and Christian values will survive, but in the meantime we have to avoid these sorts of things. This is the value of independent schools. But for goodness sake let us get away from the talk we have had about wealthy schools. This is a lot of plain nonsense. I have been associated with church schools and people who strive, save and mortgage their homes to send their child to a church school because they do not want them to be corrupted. I admit that I sent my son to a government school because in a provincial city you get to know the headmaster of a school. The important thing is that parents have a responsibility for their children and they will not hand them over to the Government to be brought up in any old way and filled with strange views. A lot of people are satisfied to do this.
I congratulate the Government and the Minister on the measures brought forward. We do not want standardisation of education. We do not want standardisation of behaviour. We do not want a standard of mediocrity with everyone coming down to a certain level. I shall quote from a speech I made at the speech night of a church school of which my father was one of the co-founders. What I said may be completely out of date but I would like to get it on the record. I said:
The primary function of a denominational school is to produce leaders, not only in the sense of captains of industry, Ministers of State, distinguished men of the Services … but in the sense of citizens, ready to grapple with the problems of life in the second part of the twentieth century, accepting responsibility, standing for something definite and having the desire to serve men in some capacity, however humble. This is the essence of a Christian teaching: These are the traditions of the great public school system.
We have inherited a great tradition, one that has given the British world so much that is good in that it inculcated a spirit of service and fair play that was carried to the end of the earth wherever Englishmen served.
I believe that this spirit is best expressed in that wonderful book of public school life ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’ when Squire Brown meditates on what advice he should give Tom on the outset of the latter’s departure for Rugby. I quote: I won’t tell him to read his Bible and to love and serve God; if he don’t do that for his mother’s sake and teaching, he won’t for mine. Shall I go into the sort of temptation he’ll meet with? No I can’t do that. Never do for an old fellow to go into such things with a boy. He won’t understand me. Do him more harm than good, ten to one. Shall I tell him to mind his work, and say he’s sent to school to make himself a good scholar? Well, but he isn’t sent to school for that - at any rate, not for that mainly. I don’t care a straw for Greek particles, or the digamma, no more does his mother. What is he sent to school for? Well, partly because he wanted so to go. If he’ll only turn out a brave, helpful, truth-telling Englishman, and a gentleman, and a Christian, that’s all I want.’
This might be out of date philosophy, but in my speech I went on:
This is a philosophy of a simple, rural individualism, before the onset of the industrial revolution of the first half of 19th century Britain. Nevertheless it is a philosophy of basic civilisation tested and proven. To nurture these values is a challenge to our church schools and parents. I believe that it was the fervent hope of Sir Robert Menzies that aid to independent schools would further the cause of individualism.
– The legislation before the House is a milestone in this Government’s attempt to entrench its elitist system of education. It constitutes in my opinion a policy of systematic and deliberate discrimination against the nation’s 2 million children who go to government State primary and secondary schools. It is also an attempt to defraud parents of children at the less wealthy private schools by perpetuating poor student-staff ratios, temporary teachers and unqualified and under-qualified staff. In my opinion it is the most dangerous attempt ever made in the history of this Government to prop up private privilege indefinitely in this country at the expense of the Australian taxpayer. It is in fact the most revolutionary and dangerous system that this Government has introduced since the beginning of the science block scheme in 1964. 1 do not think it has yet been understood in the minds of the public just how dangerous this scheme is.
Before I go any further let me state that I am not by any means opposing the entirety of the scheme. I can imagine the thoughts that are already trotting through the minds of the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) and the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I am prepared to welcome the assistance that is going to needy private schools. I can see a lot of them in my electorate. 1 am saying this to defend myself against the constant misrepresentation of which we shall have an example as soon as I sit down. I say this to protect myself against misrepresentation because this is the policy that will be adopted all the way through from now on.
The Government’s policy is aimed at creating for the first time in Australia’s history a national system of schools. This has never been done. It is a national system of schools - except that it is a national system of private schools. But it is a national system of private schools that will be closed to the overwhelming majority of the public. It will be financed by the public. It will be a publicly financed privately owned private education system that is now being erected. It is a policy aimed at propping up the affluent and pampering the rich. It is a policy which will expand the more affluent section of the private schools at a most dramatic rate, at a rate which could never have been foreseen before, because a fortune of the taxpayers’ money will be invested not only improving and modifying buildings but actually going to the building of brand new grammar schools.
If this Government has a chance to implement its policy over the next 5 years I expect that about 20 new grammar schools will be built in this country. In
Victoria I would expect 5 to 10 new grammar schools to be built. These schools will be built at the Commonwealth taxpayers’ expense. They will be closed to anybody who cannot put up the necessary $700 or $1,000 to send his children to them. Furthermore, the most disturbing feature of the scheme is that it is based upon the assumption that there will be continuing chaos and inequality in the State education system. That is implicit in the whole policy.
This scheme is aimed at providing for those people who have sufficient means to buy their children out and send them to a private school. I do not know whether the Minister for Education and Science fully understands. I do not believe that honourable members opposite fully understand. On a number of recent occasions after I have spoken on education I have been amazed by the number of people who have come to me and have said how disturbed they are at the state of education in government schools. The honourable member for Mcpherson (Mr Barnes) has just completed a prehistoric speech on what education is all about. He has no contact whatsoever with people who send their children to government schools.
The Minister for Education and Science spends his week opening science blocks and libraries in private schools. I am sure that he has not the slightest understanding of how many people feel disturbed about the education system in the State schools that he is ignoring in this Bill. He is aware that there are some people who have positions of affluence and power and he will give them a chance to bail out. There is a feeling of very grave disquiet right throughout the community and many people are very disturbed about the State school system.
There are people who cannot buy their children out. They cannot afford $700 or $1,000 and their children will be left to sink with the ship. The scale of the scheme is amazing. The Minister has made statements about how much will be provided. I have made calculations, probably on a conservative basis. I made a statement back in May when the new policy was announced. It has not been disproved since and it is still appropriate now. I calculated then that the private schools throughout Australia would get an extra $250m at least over the next 5 years. That is not the figure that the Minister used. It includes $48m in capital allocations and probably over $200m in increased per capita payments for running costs from the Commonwealth and State governments. I stress that that is probably a minimum estimate.
It will mean probably about $372 extra for each pupil in government schools in direct grants. By the time they have paid out the extra recurrent costs they should be left with about $42m out of $167m capital allocations. They will have about $17.50 a pupil, so in fact the scheme is biased against the government schools. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The scheme is so bold that even the Victorian Government - which rushed headlong into accepting it as no doubt other governments will very soon do - could not even afford to introduce the increased 20 per cent payments on recurrent costs immediately. It has to do it bit by bit because it is so big.
The Minister has said that the Victorian Department of Education is to get $46m for new buildings over the next 5 years. That is humbug. In fact the Victorian Department will make a net loss. This is clear when a calculation is made of what it will cost in increased recurrent payments by the State Department of Education to the private schools in Victoria. It will cost it $50m extra. In fact it is a net loss to Victoria and a net loss to Victoria means a net loss to the children in the State schools there. I am prepared to support substantial assistance to the private schools in need. I know that my position will be distorted continually. I am not opposing all this assistance but I am not prepared and nobody should be prepared to remain silent while this sort of fraud is being perpetrated on children who are attending government schools. In my opinion it is a system of massive and wholesale discrimination that the Minister is supporting.
I sometimes wonder whether the Minister really grasps what he is doing, because it is so bold. I said that the honourable member for McPherson made a prehistoric speech on education. He made some rather amazing comments about the rich private schools. He said that there were no such things. I will refer to a few and the Minister might care to comment on whether my figures are correct. I will make a few brief comments on this point and I will return later to the main body of my speech. When the Minister conducted a survey of the needs of private schools in 1970-71 not all of the private schools replied. The figures that were supplied showed that there was a surplus of Si 2.9m in some of the non-Catholic private schools. I am not talking about Catholic schools because I regard them as being overall an area of need. I will go into that point in more detail later.
– Tell us where you stand on the Catholic schools.
– The Minister for the Army should keep quiet until he can say something intelligent about the Army when he gets the chance. The non-Catholic private schools had a surplus of $ 12.9m over a 5-year period. A section of the nonCatholic private schools did not reply because they do not want money. If they did want it, they were not prepared to take it on the Government’s terms, whatever they are. Adding an estimate of $7. 5m for the schools which did not take part in the survey it is obvious that a very substantial sector of the private non-Catholic education system had a surplus over a 5-year period of about $20m, at the very least. This makes nonsense of claims that there is no such thing as an affluent school.
I return to the Victorian situation. I have used these figures before. At a conservative estimate there would be a surplus of about $9m in a section of non-Catholic private schools. The Minister and the honourable member for Macpherson always talk about the so-called rich private schools. What humbug it is to use the term so-called’. Let us look at the 84 schools about which the Minister recently gave information in reply to a question. They are 84 schools which we regard as being the wealthiest in Victoria and New South Wales. Of those schools 93 per cent have superb science facilities already and 53 per cent of them now have superb library facilities. They are not doing too badly. At present in Victoria probably not 25 per cent of the State schools have facilities anywhere like those the Minister has provided in the schools for which honourable members opposite speak. We know from figures cited today by the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) that 40 per cent of the high schools in Victoria still do not have Commonwealth science blocks. Commonwealth science blocks consist of a couple of rooms. About 50 per cent of the technical schools in Victoria do not have Commonwealth science blocks.
I am using these Victorian examples to show honourable members what has happened already to one of the Government’s State aid schemes and the way in which it punishes the children who attend government schools. In Victoria there are about 220,000 government school pupils. Only 300 Commonwealth laboratories have been built with Commonwealth money. In the private sector in Victoria there are about 28,000 pupils and 147 laboratories have been built. The government schools have 8 times the number of pupils and only twice the number of laboratories as the private schools. That does not bother the Minister. The money was not meant for the government schools in the first place, just as the present scheme is not intended to cater for the government schools.
Let us have a look at the buildings erected in Victoria by Commonwealth funds. One laboratory has been erected for every 746 pupils in government schools. The private schools have built one laboratory for every 192 pupils. The ratio is 4 to one. Does it bother the Minister for Education and Science? Does it honourable members on the other side of the House? Not on your life. The Minister virtually admitted in public, in reply to a question from me, that the standards to which those science laboratories have been built in Victorian State schools are inferior to the standards of laboratories built in private schools.
In regard to the library situation, I was talking earlier about the wealthy private schools. Only 15 per cent of government schools in Victoria will have a library built from Commonwealth funds by December. In other words, one school in 7 will have a library built compared with one school out of every 2 of the wealthiest private schools in Australia. In my own electorate there are 10 high schools and technical schools run by the State Government. So far, only one of those schools has a library. Those other schools which are in working class or farming areas may have to wait up to 20 or 25 years before they have a library built. The only school which has a library is the White Hills Technical School.
I refer now to school laboratories in the electorate of Bendigo. These figures have been published in the newspaper and the Minister for Education and Science has not been game to challenge them. I have worked out that the 10 high schools and technical schools in my electorate have received a total of $166,000 in Commonwealth finance. Had they been private schools and had their laboratories been erected to the standard upon which the Minister insists for private schools, they would have received a total of $1,400,000 Those schools have been sold short, as usual, by this Government. That is an example of how the situation has developed in library and laboratory grants. We can expect the same sort of thing to happen in this scheme.
As I said earlier, this scheme accepts continuing chaos, squalor and poverty in a very large number of government schools, while the Government accepts the full responsibility of bringing every single private school in the nation up to the finest possible standards that it can obtain. I will not go into detail about the needs of government schools which notoriously have been despised by this Government. All we can say is that the private schools will have brand new buildings; they will have improved buildings. The Minister for Education and Science, if he is lucky enough to return as Minister after the election, will accept full responsibility for bringing every private school in Australia up to the finest possible standard. He will provide every dollar and he will know their needs literally down to the last piece of chalk.
Yet the Government maintains that state schools are not the affair of the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth says that we should leave them to the State governments and if the State governments want to spend the money as the Commonwealth thinks they should spend it, that is their business, but if the State governments do not spend this money, that is also their business. This is precisely what is happening in the field 4 of science blocks and library grants. Of course, the Minister cannot even guarantee that the State Government of Victoria will spend that money on the buildings because what has happened with science and library grants has been that, when the Commonwealth Government has entered the field in Victoria, the State Government has either cut down its spending in these areas or its expenditure has been virtually frozen at the level it was at when this scheme originated. This is part of the reason why children in Victorian state schools are doing so badly in regard to science facilities and libraries.
I should like to make some general points on the basis of the way in which the Government has operated the 2 systems of aid, namely, the grants for libraries and laboratories. Firstly, the standard of facilities provided in private schools that the Government is to assist will be better than anything in any government school in Australia. That is absolutely sure. It is an admirable thing that the Commonwealth always insists upon these good standards. All I am saying is that while the Government will ensure that these standards are reached in private schools, it could not care less what happens in government schools because there will be no pressure on state schools that the facilities that they build with this money will be to the same standards.
Of course, this will mean that there will be staff rooms, art rooms, specialist rooms of all kinds, assembly halls, libraries, gymnasiums and probably an occasional swimming pool in the private schools. Everything that the schools need from now on will be provided by the Commonwealth Government under this new policy and it will be provided at the best standards. At the same time there will be government schools throughout the length and breadth of this country that will be completely ignored. In one area we will find a decaying, antiquated dilapidated government school which has been left at the mercy of an impoverished State government while further down the road we will see a private school which has been boosted at the expense of the Commonwealth Government with a fine, superb new building with great improvements. It will be delightful. All I am saying is that if the Government can do this for one sector of the community, it can do it for the other sector as well.
The rate of expansion in the private school sector will be terrific over the next few years. I do not expect to see a significant increase in the Catholic sector because I think that this system still builds into the Catholic sector very severe financial disabilities. I think (he recurrent grants will still leave many Catholic schools with grave disadvantages from a staffing point of view. The expansion will take place in the non-Catholic private school sector. One of the reasons for this will be that people are concerned about what is happening to their children in government schools. When the honourable member for Mcpherson and others like him talk about concern, they always use a derogatory term when they refer to government schools.
– That is very unfair.
– No, it is not unfair. There is always an insinuation that people who send their children to government schools do not care about them. The Minister for Education and Science has virtually put himself into that position in public by saying that people who send their children to public schools do not care. There is always an aristocratic prejudice towards schools attended by the public. So, this concern exists. It is a very serious concern and people who are worried about their children and who want their children-
– Mr Speaker, I have been misrepresented.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. He will have an opportunity to state where he has been misrepresented at the conclusion of the remarks of the honourable member for Bendigo.
– Many of those people do not want to buy out of the state education system. There are a good many people who conscientiously believe that the State education system is a good system and that the principles of democracy, equality and community that pervade the whole notion of State education are good principles. They do not want to take their children out of government schools but they are being forced to do so. The Government is compelling them to take this action because it is imposing on them a decaying second class system of state schools and it is saying to these people: ‘You are fools if you do not take your children and put them into this new private school which we have just built with public money’.
In addition, private schools will be advertising for pupils and they will be spending a fortune. They will be cutting each other’s throats. I am not talking about the poor private or parish schools. I am talking about the giants - the new private schools that are to be built and the old ones that are to be brought up to good standards. They are advertising already, and it is interesting to know the form these advertisements are taking. I have some examples. An advertisement for the Elsternwick Methodist Ladies College appeared in the Dandenong ‘Journal’ on 20th July. That school is. advertising for students. How are they advertising their school? They cite the fact that they have S35.000 worth of library and’ $65,000 worth of laboratory which have been paid for by the Commonwealth to attract students from the state schools. These advertisements will appear at tremendous expense and they must appear , because the Government has told these schools that for every child they have at . the secondary level, they will be paid $210. For every 20 of those children, they will, be paid $4,200 and for every 30 of them, they will be paid $6,300. The schools would be suckers if they did not take this up. The Minister himself must know this. If he does not, he is completely ignorant and irresponsible.
To sum up, there is one area of tremendous need in the private school sector and the Labor Party supports the principle of assistance to that sector. There is a compelling case for assistance to government schools but that assistance is not being given and in my opinion it is disgraceful that the Government is prepared to allow the development and the entrenchment of this 2-class system of education.
Mr BARNES (Mcpherson)- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) said that I made derogatory remarks about government schools. I did not. I instanced the importance of a choice of education. I have a high regard for some government schools. The important thing is to have a choice of opportunity.
– I want to comment for a few minutes on this Bill because it is an important Bill. Having listened for some minutes to the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) I merely want to say that he has expressed in a rather more sophisticated form, as did the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), the opposition of the Australian Labor Party to all forms of assistance at all levels of education which that Party has consistently adopted since the middle 1950s. Let me cite to the House some examples of this attitude. In 1956 when the Federal Government decided to assist with interest on capital construction in the Australian Capital Territory, the Australian Labor Party expressed disapproval. In 1961 when interest was extended to the primary sector in the Australian Capital Territory, once again disapproval was expressed. In 1963 when it was proposed that a science laboratory scheme be instituted by the Federal Government to assist all schools throughout Australia, once again disapproval was expressed. In 1964 when the Bill was passed which gave assistance for laboratories in all schools throughout Australia thereby assisting all parents and all students in all schools, opposition was expressed again. In 1965 opposition was expressed again. On all these occasions, particularly on the latter occasion, when Bills were presented to this House, if the Labor Party had been successful in its opposition no assistance would have been given.
So we come to the more sophisticated form of opposition which has been enshrined in this false, divisive, cruel needs policy which the Opposition wants to impose on a particular sector of education. The attitude of the Opposition to this needs policy really intrigues me, because there is only one section of activity on the Australian scene on which the Opposition wants to impose its divisive needs policy. This is with respect to non-government education. The Opposition has made it perfectly clear where it stands in relation to means tests. It has made it perfectly clear that its policies with respect to housing are a profligate rich man’s dream. Under Labor’s welfare housing scheme, if a person wanted to build a castle he would receive much more assistance than if he wanted to build a normal dwelling. If the Opposition wanted to impose compulsory health taxes it would apply them across the board. The only area left in which the Opposition wants to continue to impose a divisive needs policy is with respect to this level of education. It would be well for members of this House to ask why the Opposition should want to do that, especially in respect of this type of education.
But we find that the Opposition has strange running companions in this attitude. It so happens that on this occasion the attitude of the Opposition concerning aid to all schools is similar to the resolution carried by the Communist Party’s Education Policy Committee meeting at the national training centre at Minto on 22nd May 1971. Present at that meeting were Mrs Colley, chairman, wife of the manager of the Communist Party of Australia, Mrs Kath McDonald, wife of Tom McDonald, and others. I will read part of the resolution which would almost seem to be out of the mouths of some honourable members opposite. It said:
Committee therefore proposed sustained campaign to propagandise-
They were speaking particularly about Catholic parents -
Catholic parents and split them into 2 camps. Campaign to focus on unequal division of resources within the Catholic system itself, e.g. poorer schools and staffing for pupils of poorer parents and consequent loss of opportunity for higher education for children of working Catholics, compared with wealthy Catholics.
One can see the similarity in motivation, intention and action between that and what the Opposition proposes and has proposed since 1969. It should be plain for all to see. The fact is that the Bill which has been presented by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is designed to assist all forms of education and it does so in various ways.
Let me produce one simple little piece of arithmetic which should demonstrate it even to some members of the Opposition. The assistance given for each child to remain at non-government high schools would enable $450 to be spent at present on an equivalent child at a government school. For each child who is assisted to remain at a non-government primary school through assistance such as this Government is giving and through assistance such as State governments are giving - the Labor State governments are always the most pasimonious in this respect - there is between $200 and $250 available to be spent from public funds on an equivalent child at a government primary school. Unfortunately, the blindness of honourable members opposite prevents them from seeing the good sense and the economics of this proposal. The words of the honourable member for Bendigo, who is competing for the shadow ministry of education, are not good social or economic sense.
Let me go a little further. The pattern of administration which is proposed in the amendment moved by the honourable member for Fremantle ought to be contemplated because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) indicated that the model for the administration of this needs system is to be South Australia. What a model! So the Leader of the Opposition will go around Australia and say that South Australia is to be the model for his administration in this area. Two points about South Australia ought to be contemplated. The level of assistance given in South Australia competes for the most parsimonious in the Commonwealth. No wonder it is the model. Secondly, the system which that needs programme is designed to assist is the smallest in the Commonwealth. No wonder it is the model. The point that is catching up with the Opposition in this respect is that poor people as well as well-to-do people are becoming increasingly aware of what it is up to.
Let me refer to the Cook Committee in South Australia which was set up to give assistance in this area. In its second report it said that the Committee wished to express its deep concern for all schools and the increasing need for adequate across the board per capita grants to meet recurrent costs.
– Read the rest.
– The rest amounts to a saver. The schools have to live with the government that attempts to give them assistance. The Committee made it quite clear that the level of assistance and the type of assistance given in that State is quite inadequate and unfair. But let us go a little further. When an opposition proposes to put upon people a method of assistance which those people do not want, one must ask why this is done. This crying for poor schools is cynical and hypocritical in the extreme because all the poor schools in the non government sector in Australia want the per capita assistance which this Government proposes to give. All their organisations want it. Those who speak for that system want it. Yet the Opposition wants to impose its own divisive policies in this area. To find out why I go back to other doctrines. Perhaps it is to divide rich against poor, to divide class against class. In the process there is a denial of the basic right of a child to assistance merely because that child goes to school. That is why assistance is given. A superabundant efficiency or a relative lack of efficiency, a rich type of education or a poor type of education are not the measures. It is given because that child goes to a school.
Some honourable members opposite know that they should have been quoting a principle which has been in the United Nations Charter since 1948. That principle was affirmed, it continues to be affirmed and yet the Opposition departs from it. One ought to ask why the Opposition departs from it. The problem is that the Opposition, in promoting its amendment as it has promoted similar propositions since 1956, denies a basic right to parents. But above all it denies the means whereby increasing levels of education can be attained at all schools for all students in Australia. If the Opposition wants to introduce divisive policies let it go to South Australia. There we have it, and that State is to be the model. Mr Dunstan is concerned for education. He is concerned for social policies. That is to be the model of the Opposition in so many areas. One other thing that intrigues me is the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), and I use his own words: We have to judge motives as long as we are in politics’. And we ought to judge motives. He will go to parochial schools in Sydney and say: ‘Elect my Party. We have your interests at heart. We will look after you with a needs policy.’ The people there do not want it. Judge his motives. Judge his motives in speaking to parents at such a school. Judge whether his aims would be their aims. He is a man who would use Mr Dunstan as his Steerforth. a man who would use South Australian policies as models for his own legislation. Judge whether the parents of a child at a parochial school would accept the Leader of the Opposition with his permissive policies as being appropriate for them. We could not judge that he would have any sympathy concerning their children or the other children of Australia.
Let us make one last point which deserves to be made. This Bill is a just Bill. Its provisions will assist education at all levels within Australia. In assisting students at government schools it will assist those at non-government schools and in assisting those at non-government schools it will assist those at government schools. The Bill will receive the unanimous support of this side of the House without qualifications but the intention of the amendment should be realised. It is part of a list of amendments moved over many years, all designed to split education into camps and to be divisive socially, politically and in any other manner.
– This is one of the most unjust Bills we have seen, despite what the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) has said. The Government is prepared to treat all children as having only a 40 per cent entitlement. If they happen to be poor that is as much as they will get; if they are rich they will get the same amount. Let us consider what the Minister for Housing said. He purports always to be the spokesman for the Catholic schools on this issue and we understand some of the reasons for this. His attitude is directly related to vote catching, not to principles or to justice. He talks about the problems that the Australian Labor Party had in the 1950s. Why does he not mention the problems of the Liberal Party in the 1950s, particularly in New South Wales? The Government of New South Wales in the 1950s certainly was Labor-orientated Let us put it on the line. Perhaps it could have done more for the education of i h° poor but it became obvious that it was frightened to do more for them because their Liberal opponents might well have beaten them at the elections. That is an indictment of that Government and it was duly removed from office.
Those great Liberals, of which the Minister is one, should remember that when Mr Askin, as he then was, made his policy speech in 1962 he proposed the removal of all aid for Catholic schools. What happened? Dr Honner immediately resigned from the Liberal Party in New South Wales. The Liberal Party was roundly defeated because it did not offer anything at that stage for education. And who was first to talk about science aid in New South Wales? It was the New South Wales Labor Party at its annual conference which passed a resolution that there should be aid for all schools in science. Is not this the real problem with the Liberal Party philosophy? It is always running behind the real need. The first government to introduce any aid for the under-privileged was a New South Wales Labor Government in 1963. And which parties on that occasion opposed that proposal? They were none other than the Liberal and Country Parties and if honourable members opposite want to check the New South Wales Hansard they will see a division on the suggestion that any aid be given to the under-privileged people. So much . for the hypocrisy of Government members.
What happened in 1963? The Liberal and Country Parties were desperate to win an election. They knew that the New South Wales annual conference of the Labor Party had approved a proposal in relation to science blocks. The Federal Government in its Budget delivered in August 1963 gave nothing for science blocks. But there was an election in 1963, so Sir Robert Menzies ran out to a private school and opened a science block. The amount of money he gave for that science block would not have paid even the cost of the plumbing. It would not have got anywhere near the cost of it. But he won the seat; he bought votes by that means. Honourable members opposite are hypocritical when they dare to suggest that the Government has done something for the education of the underprivileged. They should not come in here saying that the policies which we espouse are false, divisive and cruel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The tragedy is that there has been bigotry and the Government has exploited it to the full. It has always encouraged the wealthy to build their own schools and it has been encouraging them for years. So by now they have had the land and buildings for years. But what about the poor, those who have never been able to get off the ground, from the point of view of building schools and looking after their children? What schools have they got now? They were built either in the 1890s or not built at all. This is the point that we are making on Australia’s attitude to education. Where is the need? Honourable members opposite criticise South Australia but there are plenty of good spokesman for South Australia in this House. Let me answer the question which was raised in relation to the Cook Report. Honourable members opposite deliberately failed to quote from it. It recommended that there should be more per capita grants on a Federal-State basis. But it said that was not the answer. It said some schools have greater needs than others and so have to get more money than they would with per capita grants. So why do honourable members opposite say that the system is not a failure when the Cook Report says that the per capita grants system is a failure? Honourable members opposite have the audacity to suggest that it is the unanimous opinion of parents of children who attend these schools. I represent 6,000 children who attend what are called parish and regional schools in my electorate. There has been no meeting of parents. The parents would not favour a per capita system to perpetuate their discrimination. The matter has never been discussed by the parents. The only people who come to Canberra to agitate for the retention of per capita grants are the affluent parents. When they are asked: ‘What about the poor people?’ they say in a most un-Christian and un-moral way: ‘They are a self perpetuating group. You cannot do much for them. They are poor because they are not really interested in their children’. So much for the hypocrisy of that attitude, and publicity should be given to it in the ‘Catholic Weekly’ and other such journals.
Let no-one attack the Labor Party on the basis that it is not interested in children. This is not a fight against children. It might have been a fight against bigotry in the past but it is now a question of the needs of the future. It is not cynical and hypocritical to talk about the needs of schools. Let us come now to what those needs are. I have schools of all types in my electorate and the needs of public schools are as great as those of regional and parish Catholic schools. They both have needs and must have needs when one considers the position. Many of the schools were built in the 1890s and today we have a massive immigration programme with migrants nocking into these schools which have no proper facilities to cope with them. Where is the proposal to re-develop these schools? Let us look now at the stupidity of the statements made by the Minister for Education and Science in his second reading speech. He said that the Commonwealth is proposing to make, grants - talking about capital grants to State schools - on a basis that will not attempt to interfere with the right of a State government to determine its own priorities. One would think that the State governments would do something about their priorities. Later on the Minister said that State governments will be free to develop their own arrangements subject to the condition that 70 per cent is to be devoted to additional facilities. That automatically means that priorities are affected.
What about the old State schools in my electorate which need complete rebuilding? It is not a question of additional facilities for there is no room. The fact is. that they are old buildings, 70 or 80 years old; there is a large migrant intake and classes are overloaded. There is no ancillary staff and teachers and other things that are needed. So we come to the same problem with nongovernment schools which will be directed also on what they are to do with their money. Then there is this classical statement: The non-government schools will receive capital grants under this scheme only where the school has demonstrated that its facilities do not measure up to the known standards, ls that not a needs survey for a start? Does it not automatically mean needs? Does it not automatically mean needs? If they have to demonstrate that they do not measure up to a standard, the Government is applying a needs test itself. Yet it criticises the Labor Party for daring to suggest that that be done.
We come to the real issue in this whole hypocritical approach to the question of aid to the underprivileged. It is this pious expression that there is a real interest in guaranteeing that there be recurrent support for non-government schools. In his second reading speech the Minister said that we must guarantee this support to the nongovernment schools. He continued:
We reject the alternative concept of the application of a means test on government schools for the purpose of recurrent grants.
That is not Liberal Party policy; far from it. This evening in the New South Wales Parliament Sir Robert Askin will be making a speech. Last year he made a speech in which he said that per capita grants would be given to secondary school children in non-government schools on a means test basis. The Liberal Government of New South Wales has applied a means test on the basis that if taxable income exceeds $5,000 no grant at all is payable. So how can the Minister say that he deplores this situation?
The real issues come around to the problems in education as we see them. We know that needs surveys have been conducted in respect of both government and non-government sections of education. Those needs surveys are well known in the sense that they clearly illustrate the needs of both sections. One would think that the $48m which has been allocated to nongovernment schools had some direct relativity fo the fact that they had indicated what their needs would be. But there are figures to show that when they conducted their needs survey on a capital basis, their needs for the 5 year period were deemed to be $141. 7m. What is the Government doing for the non-government schools if it is offering only $48m against a needs survey of $141.7m? That in itself shows the hypocritical approach of the Government to doing anything about needs.
The great suggestion that a big thing had been done for the non-government schools on the basis that interest subsidies would be paid is highlighted by the situation of the last Budget brought down by the New South Wales Government. It provided that interest would be payable provided the poor people might go out and borrow capital to build schools. In other words, the Government would hold out the carrot of pay ing the interest. As an indication of how far these schools are sinking, the last New South Wales Budget offered as an interest subsidy $675,000 which the Minister for Housing applauded as the result of a great Liberal concept. The schools were able to take up only $380,000 of that amount because they ran out of money. The poor cannot find extra money when they have the enormous costs of rearing a family and trying to pay for all the necessities of life. So it is just hypocritical for the Government to say that it is making this money available when it knows that it cannot be used.
I want to point out, when it comes to the real issues, the needs as we see them in the schools themselves. There are class loads of more than 50, teachers who are not trained, facilities that are archaic and, as I say, thousands of children are placed in this situation. The Government says that a mere 40 per cent is enough to keep them going; let them find the other 60 per cent. It is a disaster. It is divisive and cruel from the point of view of the needs of these people. The people who are in this situation say: ‘We pay taxes. We are not against any other school.’ They are anxious to see the public school system developed to the full. They themselves are overcrowded and have needs, as their survey shows, but the Government is going to penalise both sections of the community. If we look at the results of these surveys we find that the retention rate in the secondary school system favours the independent schools. They are the schools built for the more affluent people, the schools that charge fees of $600 or $700 a year. Because the fees are so high most children are’ automatically excluded from attending these schools. They are excluded on the basis of their means or lack of them. Those independent schools that find it necessary to charge high fees get the very best teachers, the very best facilities, and naturally they encourage their secondary students to stay there. As a result their retention rate at the secondary school level is 73.5 per cent. The retention rate in Catholic and government schools is down to 30 per cent. Those retention rates indicate the proportion of students who go on to tertiary education. Those students attending schools with the high retention rate have the greatest opportunities to get the best jobs in society and become the leaders in all fields because they had this early advantage of going to these well endowed schools.
If we look at the pupil-teacher ratio, which is another need, we find that, at the primary school level, the independent schools have a pupil-teacher ratio of 18 to 1. In the government schools it is 29 to 1 and in the Catholic schools it is 35 to 1. At the secondary school level the pupil-teacher ratio for the independent schools is 13 to 1, in the government schools it is 18 to 1, and in the Catholic schools it is 22.9 to 1. How can this situation be allowed to exist? As I have said, the poor cannot pay any more than they can afford. Let us look at the fees paid at regional Catholic schools. At the secondary level, the Catholic schools educate 4 children for $486 a year. Do not tell me that any parents and friends association will suggest that that, plus a little more that they will get by way of government subsidy, is enough.
The cost of educating 4 children in a government school - it is not sufficient - is $2,400. For educating the same number of secondary students, the privileged schools which charge $600 or $700 a year receive $2,800 phis the government subsidy. Does the Government suggest for one moment that parents of the schools in my electorate would think that this subsidy is adequate? The private schools which are charging $600 and $700 to educate one student want the same subsidy as is paid to the other schools. At the primary school level the Catholic schools charge $133 a year to educate 4 students. It would cost a government school $1,200 to educate the same number. It will be found that the wealthier schools will not. charge less than $400 or $500. So they are receiving for the same 4 students $2,000 plus this subsidy that the Government wants to give them. That is where the discrimination lies.
This discrimination shows up again in the statistics of the Taxation Department. In New South Wales $84. 9m was allowable to taxpayers as deductions for education expenses. Of the 1.9 million taxpayers in that field, 1.8 million received $4 8m of the tax deductions allowed for education expenses. Honourable members should bear that figure in mind: 1 .8 million receive $48m. The top echelon of the high powered income earners - only 190,000 people - were able to claim $36m in education expenses. How does this disparity arise? Is it any wonder that we say: ‘Let us put our priorities in their right position’? We are not against the needs of children. But where people have been able to cater for the needs of their children for years and have built up capital assets, we urge the Government not to make the discrimination worse.
From the Catholic point of view, I think it is outrageous of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to dare to suggest, as he did in a speech in December 1971 - this was highlighted here by the Minister for Housing - that the Government is worried because Catholics are not able to continue educating their own. The Prime Minister implied that Catholic children were going into government schools in great numbers. They are, because they find that they cannot be catered for in the other schools. It will be found that the number of Catholic pupils in New South Wales now attending government schools has increased from 30 per cent to 40 per cent in 10 years. The Prime Minister is worried about this because it will cost the State Government so much more. In his statement the Prime Minister said:
The Roman Catholic authorities in Melbourne are considering seriously a proposal not to expand secondary schools but to concentrate resources in primary schools. In Tasmania a number of Roman Catholic and other independent schools are faced with the prospect of having to cease operations. The Government hopes that a contraction would not be necessary in either area.
Yet Government supporters then say: ‘Is this not a good thing because the poor underprivileged children in those Catholic schools will be encouraged to go on in this inadequate situation and thereby save the Government money.’ It is the worst thing for any government to suggest that it will exploit children on the basis of religious adherence and that it will thus save itself some money. The real issue is that these people need the money and the Government is just exploiting them. It is not fair for the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) to say in this House, ‘Oh, it is good value. We are saving the Government money by keeping these children in the other schools’. It would be far better and more honest to say that if the children are in these schools, they should get what they need. They need trained teachers and good facilities. They do not need discrimination or exploitation on a vote-catching basis that the only Party interested in this will be the Liberal-Country Party coalition. Let us be clear on this. This Government’s record in the past has caused most of this discrimination. It is a fact that there is an elite now in New South Wales. Nearly every child who is going to a parish or regional Catholic school suffers a basic disadvantage because he is in an over-crowded classroom and the facilities are inadequate.
It is recognised that government schools also have needs but we should look at the State government budgets. For example, last year Sir Robert Askin had to allocate funds for primary education amounting to SI 36m but he was able to give only $6m to the non-State schools. That was the ratio in the primary schools. At the secondary level he was able to allocate $127m and he gave $3m to the non-government schools. That was the ratio of expenditure which he was able to give. We spend $3.9m to provide free bottles of milk. That is the attitude adopted by the State Government in New South Wales - a Liberal-Country Party dominated Government - towards education. It has no interest in education. It has just gone on adding a little more to prop these schools up hoping that they will survive. This is the tragedy in the field of education today.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– If the Opposition had wished to put forward an amendment which matched its criticism of this legislation it would have introduced an entirely different kind of amendment because the amendment which has been moved and supported is designed to ensure that no part of this legislation would carry forward beyond 1973 on the grounds that the schools would be expecting the funds and taking them into account for ] 973. 1 would have thought that the Opposition would have recognised the difference between the 2 parts of the legislation. One part is designed to achieve a much greater rate of school construction and a greater rate of improvement in school facilities. The second part deals with a basic level of support based on a percentage of costs in government schools. The Opposition has confused the 2 parts of the legislation and it has moved an amendment against both.
Quite plainly the amendment, if it is W have any effect, would mean that no part of the funds could be spent under the capital programme because while the money does not flow until the middle of next year, various building proposals would need to be planned and contracts would have to be let. If funds were to be available for on, a part of next year, no part of those capital funds could in fact really be effectively used. That means that the Opposition is voting against a part of the legislation which, if the words Opposition supporters have used mean anything, it ought to have supported because the Government has always said that capital funds are made available to a school if that school can justify an entitlement against objective criteria. The purpose of the new capital funds is to achieve a greater rate of school construction in the government and the independent areas and to achieve greater equality in school construction and education facilities. The Opposition is voting against that purpose.
Earlier the Opposition’s leader in education matters, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) - I think he is - indicated that a very high proportion of those who go to independent schools gained entrance into universities. He mentioned a figure of 80 per cent or 85 per cent. I do not know on what basis he used that figure but he was trying to argue, I think, that because they went to university the community paid much more for their education than it did for people who came from government schools. I think honourable members might be interested to know these figures. I have the figures for the State of Queensland. On the proportion- of people enrolled in each group of schools gaining Commonwealth secondary scholarships, the percentage of enrolments in the last year matched the percentage that gained scholarships reasonably accurately. This position is borne out by information that has come to us from Western Australia where the percentage of those in the last year of school in government schools and independent schools, including Catholic independent schools and other independent schools, is almost exactly matched by the proportion in each sector which gained Commonwealth secondary scholarships. This shows that the opportunities for those emerging from government schools is equal to the opportunities for those emerging from independent schools. The Opposition might be unhappy with that but at least in those instances this position is borne out.
The honourable member for Fremantle also fell into the error that had originally been perpetrated by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) some time ago when he criticised the number of schools which had not answered a questionaire Both honourable gentlemen fell into the error of assuming that schools that had not answered the questionnaire were what they called ‘wealthy’ schools. Of 170 schools which did not answer the questionnaire 83 were special schools for the handicapped, often providing educational opportunities for children for whom the States do not provide opportunities and 60 per cent of the remainder of the ordinary secondary schools that had not replied had fees below the total cost of education in government schools. That hardly matches the charge of undue affluence in this area. I think it is worth noting that one of the remarks of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) seemed to me very nearly to sum up the general attitude of the Opposition to this matter when he said: The policies that are being pursued are on the slippery path of continued subvention of public funds into private schools.’ The context of that remark indicates the basic objection to the policy of and in fact the basic objection to support for private schools, no matter where they might come from and what they might be.
I have mentioned to the House the purpose of the new capital fund. The objective is to achieve greater equality of educational facilities. I would have thought that at least this part of the proposal would have been supported by the Opposition but in fact its amendment is against this as well. What has really disturbed the Opposition of course if the amendment to the procedures that we are incorporating in this legislation to provide a continuous level of payments to ail independent schools. Already Queensland and Victoria have joined us in endorsing this policy in principle and they have announced firmly their method of approaching that in practice. I think we need to look at the reasons for this policy. We want to provide a firm basis on which independent schools will know that they are going to get a certain basic level of support. We quite plainly want to provide a system which some alternative government would not be able to erode through the passage of time as has happened in the per capita system in South Australia. We want to provide a system in which independent schools of all kinds can plan ahead with a degree of certainty.
I can see no point in establishing a circumstance in which it is said to the parents and friends of the Catholic parish school: If you work unduly hard for your school you will put your school into a position which denies it this basic support’. The per capita system applies to government primary schools and government secondary schools. The parents and citizens who work long and hard for those schools are encouraged to do so to improve their schools and they know that the proper support from governments will still be forthcoming. Whatever honourable gentlemen opposite might think of the parents and citizens of one of the Sydney schools who have raised or intend to raise $250,000 for a heated swimming pool, for a government school, let it be known, I applaud their efforts. But this does not mean that because the parents and citizens and the old boys of that school have raised this money, Government support for that school should be reduced. If that principle is not argued for the government schools, what is the purpose of arguing it for other schools, except to deny a reasonable basic level of support?
One of the basic differences between members of the Government parties and the Opposition is that we believe that all students are entitled to a basic level of support. We are prepared to act upon that principle and put it into effect, while the Opposition is prepared to say that if children are sent to certain schools they are entitled to no support; if they are sent to other schools they are entitled to full support. I can see little logic in that. It is worth noting that the National Council for Independent Schools, the Federal Catholic Schools Committee and the Australian
Parents Council, which is composed of parents’ organisations, all support the policies which we are, in fact, putting into effect.
I think some of the Opposition’s views in this area might be of some interest because there is a strange difference of views which would seem to indicate that its proposals for an Australian schools commission is nothing more than a proposal to hide the difference and divisions within the Australian Labor Party on this issue. The honourable member for Bendigo only a few days ago said:
I do not care what the leaders of the Catholic church or the Protestant churches say about what they want their education system to be so far as the Commonwealth grants are concerned.
Professor Goldman, whom it is reported would be on the Australian schools commission, has said:
Governments should take greater control over Roman Catholic schools. In the United States Catholic parish education is withering away and long may it wither.
– That is an outrageous statement. You are standing there panning the schools commission; but what can you cootribute to it?
– If the honourable gentleman is prepared to say that Professor Goldman is not one of the Labor Party’s close advisers on educational policy I will accept it.
Mr Beazley - He has never spoken to me in his life. I have never spoken to him in my life. (Honourable members interjecting) - Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Corbett)Order! There are far too many interjections coming from my left. If my call to order is not accepted by honourable members they can take the consequences. It is my responsibility to see that there is some sort of order kept in this House and I intend to do it. I have been very lenient up to the present time and I ask honourable members to take some notice of my call for order. The conduct here is getting to a stage where it is a disgrace to this Parliament and I do not intend to let it continue. If someone has to suffer over that it is not my fault. I warn everybody in the House that I am not prepared to let this kind of conduct go on, with people out of their places and continually interjecting.
– Honourable members on this side of the House listened in near silence to the honourable member for Bendigo and a number of others who attributed views, attitudes and motives to honourable members on this side of the House which they would not hold and do not bold. However, we are becoming used to the kind of noise that comes from the other side of this chamber. I accept quite completely what the honourable member for Fremantle said.
– That you are a liar.
-Order! I call on the honourable member for Prospect to withdraw that remark.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I said that the honourable member for Fremantle said that the Minister was a liar. I heard it with my own ears. The Minister said just now that he accepted it. I am not commenting on it.
– I listened to the honourable member for Fremantle while that interjection was being made on a number of occasions. I do not believe it came from the honourable member for Fremantle. It would have been quite out of character for him.
– No, it did not.
-Order! I accept the assurance of the honourable member for Fremantle that he did not make the comment. I did hear it come from a group of people but I could not identify the interjector exactly, so I had to let it go. But the group did not include the honourable member for Fremantle.
– In effect that is what he said.
– He did not.
– It is interesting to see the honourable gentlemen opposite attribute to the honourable member for Fremantle characteristics which they have but he does not have. That, of course, is one of the problems with this debate. The honourable member for Fremantle unfortunately is in the position of having the honourable member for Bendigo actively competing for his position as shadow Minister for Education - something to which significant attention has been drawn by a number of people in the Press. I should like to know whether the honourable member for Bendigo is prepared to say that he has not had close discussions with Professor Goldman.
– You want me to stab our shadow Minister in the way that you stabbed your Prime Minister.
-Order! The honourable member for Bendigo will resume his seat.
-The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) is a member of this Parliament and an adviser to the Labor Party and its Caucus on a number of matters.
– He is not.
– Are you attacking your own members now? The honourable member for Maribyrnong was reported in the ‘Sentinel’ - if the ‘Sentinel’ report is wrong I will accept an assurance that it is - in September of this year as saying that he was personally opposed to all forms of State aid grants for schools. He is entitled to a view, but he is not the only person so entitled. Mr Hartley, Chairman of the Federal Executive Education Committee, holds views which are dedicated in opposition to State aid.
The Government’s approach to these problems has become evident in this Bill. We are seeking to implement our proposals and support for education while leaving maximum possible control in the State departments for their own education systems, and also with the independent school authorities for their own schools. The one advisory committee in each State to assess the priorities of all independent schools is a significant advance in the application of capital funds. It will make sure that the requirements and priorities of one school will be judged against all the others in that State. This stands in marked contrast again to the proposals of the Australian Labor Party, which are centralist and which would be designed to achieve control of all schools. One needs only to look at the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) as reported in Hansard of 9th March of this year, those of the honourable member for Fremantle as reported in the South Australian Teachers Journal on 24th May of this year or those of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in one of the pamphlets on education which he has issued in an election year, to see that this is so. In the pamphlets the Leader of the Opposition made it quite plain that the schools commission would examine every aspect of a school’s affairs. This is contrary to our philosophy and it is contrary to our general approach to these matters.
But one thing - and one thing alone - shows how difficult the Opposition’s position is in this matter. The Leader of the Opposition has said quite firmly and plainly that any school which charged more than $300 a year in fees would not need any additional Government aid. Fees of $300 a year are about half of the cost of providing full education, taking into account some element for capital, in Government secondary schools. Under what strange arithmetic does the Leader of the Oppositoin come to the view that an education costing $300 a year in an independent school is adequate while an education in a Government school requires $600 a year? That is class distinction of a strange kind from the Leader of the Opposition. One of the odd things about the debate on this legislation is that a number of the attitudes expressed by members of the Opposition and, at least in part, the tenor of the amendment repudiate known and public views that the Leader of the Opposition has expressed. On the Macquarie Network on 1st May of this year he said:
The truth is that nowadays even the richest man cannot educate his family . . . without help from the community.
That showed that he believed then that even the wealthiest person required assistance. What has happened to that belief? Or is that one of the matters on which the honourable member for Bendigo and others made him stand and be counted in the Labor Party Caucus. Then, addressing a parents and friends meeting at the Festival Hall in Melbourne on 2nd May of this year, he said:
We will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any that are there already.
Implicit in the amendment is a view that is directly contrary to that view expressed by the Leader of the Opposition. The view was expressed on another occasion - at the Catholic Luncheon Club of Melbourne on 20th June, which was after the date of the Prime Minister’s announcement of the policy matters which have been put into legislative form in the Bill that is before the chamber tonight. He then said that the Labor Party had never voted against any Bill proposing Commonwealth aid for education - I think that is slightly questionable, but I will let it go - and that is would support any forms of benefit already existing. How many members on the other side of the House support their Leader on these matters? The views that he has been compelled to accept in Caucus are quite clearly contrary and in opposition to the views that he has been expressing around the country in his own name. He has been falsely taking the Labor Party’s name on these same issues. I should have thought that it would be an interesting Caucus meeting to have a confessional, with the Leader of the Opposition telling the members of his own Party bow many times he has expressed a view which is contrary to their policy, contrary to their views and contrary to their wishes, hoping to gain some additional support from certain selected people.
I think that this Bill will do a great deal for education in Australia. It will improve the standard of education both in government and independent schools. I commend it to the House.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Corbett)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Beazley’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr 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.
Motion (by Mr Malcolm Fraser) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I want to ask a question of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in regard to the Bill. Where in this Bill is there a statement which is supposed to concern the question of need? During his second reading speech he said that aid would be provided to schools according to need. I have examined this Bill. Unless he can show me affirmative evidence I suggest that it contains no statement about need whatsoever. I want to know what the details of need are. I am particularly concerned that this scheme indicates that another system has developed in exactly the same way as the libraries programme and the laboratories programme have developed. That is to say, the committee that will be set up to decide on standards will establish standards and the sole question then will be whether or not a particular private school which is being assessed meets those standards. This is exactly what has happened under the libraries and laboratories grants.
In this context I find it extremely interesting to look at a letter by the Minister in the Melbourne ‘Age’ on 24th July 1972. He is a compulsive letter writer. A question was raised in that newspaper by the principal of the Richmond Girls High School, who was extremely concerned to know what were the so-called publicly known and identifiable criteria by which schools were given assistance. The Minister wrote back on 24th July. His reply was about SOO words long. It was rather verbose. He proceeded to set out in detail why he should not tell this woman what the needs are and what the criteria are because if she wrote away and asked for the little booklet saying what the standards are she would know the standards and the criteria. I find this rather amazing but not surprising because the Minister has no criteria of needs whatsoever. For example, as far as libraries and science blocks are concerned, only 2 questions are asked of any school. First, it is asked: ‘Are you a private school?’ Secondly, they are asked: ‘Do you make a profit?’ If the school says: ‘Yes, we are a private school and we do not make a profit’, the Minister agrees to build its standards up to the finest in the country regardless of how much money it has stashed away in the bank. Some private schools, according to the evidence I have just given - which the Minister has not refuted - have very considerable surpluses in finance which suggest that at the very best they should wait at the end of the queue. So in other words the only standard the Minister has is whether the buildings and facilities of a school match the superb standards the Commonwealth has laid down for private schools and private schools alone.
So what will happen now is that he will establish a committee which will draw up some superb standards. The only questions asked of a school will be whether it is a private school and whether it is a non-profit making private school. The whole question of socio-economic need will be his last consideration. The Catholic schools will not be asked: ‘How many children do you have in this school from low income families?’ They will not be asked: “What is the proportion of children who are dependants of widows or deserted wives or what proportion of children come from migrant families?’ There will be no question about the whole academic tradition of the school. Some of the fundamental socio-economic factors will be completely ignored. I can guarantee that under the system of need that this gentleman will draw up in his new scheme every single grammar school in this country that is well endowed and privileged will in the next 5 years get at least something. They will get at least a few thousand dollars.
Here again I refer to the evidence that h; provided earlier on to me in reply to a question which he still has not answered in detail about 84 of the wealthiest private schools in Australia. Somehow every one of them managed to get something, whether it was in the way of libraries or laboratories. Indeed, a little school such as Timbertop, which has 1 10 pupils who pay up to $2,000 a year in fees, is entitled to almost $50,000. That school, God bless it, is entitled to $25,000 worth of laboratory and $22,000 worth of well equipped and well furnished library. There is no question of socioeconomic needs.
– I take a point of order. It is not my wish to take away the honourable gentleman’s rights, but it is a long-standing tradition of this House and a condition of Standing Orders that a third reading speech must be specifically directed to the Bill itself. Mr Deputy Speaker, I think you have shown great indulgence towards the honourable gentleman and I would ask you to bring him to order.
– Order! The Leader of the House is right. A third reading speech must relate to the matters contained in the clauses and schedules of the Bill. I have allowed some leniency to the honourable member for Bendigo and I would ask him to keep his remarks related to the clauses of the Bill
– In reply, Mr Deputy Speaker, the point is that I am dealing partly witu the schedule. I am dealing with the whole nature of the Bill itself. I am asking where is the clause which mentions the schools which are receiving assistance and the standards by which they are to be provided with assistance. Clause 13 states that the amount of per capita assistance is to be based upon an assessment of 40 per cent of the costs of recurrent expenditure in educating a child in a government school. The point I was making is that in fact there is no statement in the Bill about need.
-Order! If there is not a statement the honourable member is not in order in talking about it. He must confine himself to the Bill.
– This is part of my simplicity. I ‘thought that the Minister, being a capable Minister at drawing up a Bill like this, may have been able to put it in some part which in my quick perusal of the speech I may have overlooked. But I am grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker, to have your assistance to learn that it is not in fact in the Bill. Another clause deals with the amount of assistance to private schools regardless of their need. It states that the assistance is to be based on an assessment of 40 per cent of the recurrent costs of educating a child in a government school. On whose evidence is the 40 per cent to be worked out? I want to know from the Minister how he comes to the conclusion that the secondary costs of educating pupils in a government school are approximately $300 and those of educating a child in primary school are $300. I want all the exact data on which this assessment is worked out, because my belief is that in fact the Minister has inflated the figures as to what the actual costs of educating a child in a government school are. In fact he has taken all of the recurrent costs of educating a child in a government school even though the child at a private school may be deriving some benefit from the very same costs. He has taken the whole lot and be has assessed these as being part of the contribution. For example, I believe that he has also included even the costs of teachers colleges. In my opinion this is ridiculous because teachers colleges are there to serve both the private school system and the State school system. In those teachers colleges which have been built with Commonwealth funds recently there has been a direct stipulation that a number of positions will be reserved for teachers who are going into the private education system or teachers who are not bonded.
What clause 13 means as it stands at the present moment is that for many of the very wealthy private schools this will provide another fillip by which they can increase their standards over the standards enjoyed by the children at the least wealthy private schools and those children who are attending government schools. This is what I refer to as being so discriminatory about what the Minister does in education. He is pretending that education is conducted in a vacuum. It is not. Education in Australia takes place in a very competitive context, and every dollar of assistance that is provided to one school as opposed to another gives a very distinct advantage to the child who goes to that school over the other. This is of course what will happen. Let us just think about how well accommodated, well staffed, well equipped and well endowed schools such as Sydney Grammar School, Melbourne Grammar School, Geelong Grammar School, Xavier College and some of the other wealthier schools are already and how well placed their children are to get the maximum benefit out of the nation’s education resources. The Minister will pour even more into them. In relation to clause 13, I find it absolutely obnoxious and repugnant that grants of such a diamension are being provided to some private schools.
It is on record by the principal of Sydney Grammar School, for example, that his school will use the State aid grants it receives over the next 5 years to subsidise high level fees for children of the rich who can afford to go to that school. I find that personally obnoxious when there are poor independent and government schools crying out for basic facilities. That is a public statement by a member of the old school network to which the Minister belongs that the money is to be used to subsidise fee reductions and an attempt to hold the line against fee increases. It is colossal - $1.5m for Sydney Grammar School over 5 years. How does the Minister justify that. It is calculated on the basis of $210 for every secondary school pupil provided for in clause 13 and SI 25 for every primary school pupil. It is not in the schedules. They simply do not want it. How does the Minister justify giving that quantity of money? It would rebuild an entire school in my electorate. Some of the schools in my electorate are very decayed and antiquated and that money would rebuild one of them from the base up.
Let us have a look at a few other schools, including Melbourne Grammar School, the old alma mater of the Minister, at which he recently opened - can you guess - yet another science block. Melbourne Grammar School is to get $1.5m over a 5-year period. Some men drive their families out into the woodlands at the weekend. Some play golf, some play football. The Minister opens science blocks. Kings School is to get Si. 5m over 5 years. What will it use that for? It is rolling in money. Brisbane Grammar School is to receive $1.2m. What will it use it for? Geelong Grammar School is to receive $840,000. Yet the Minister has the cheek to say that there are no rich schools and that the Labor Party is unjust in calling for the money to be redirected on the basis of need. We say that because grants of those denominations are being given out.
I would like to refer to again to the schedules at the end of the Bill. They do not give us any indication of the basis on which assistance will be given. The needs of the 2 private sectors are vastly different. I have had some assessments made of the needs and the available funds of the Catholic and non-Catholic private schools in Australia. Over a 5-year period the Catholic schools want to spend $711 a pupil in recurrent expenditure. The other private schools want to spend $2,210 a pupil over the same period, or 3 times as much. Let us look to see what they have available. The Catholic schools have only 72 per cent of the funds which they require whereas the others have 90 per cent available. The Catholic schools are in need of 28 per cent of their desirable funds and they can get it only from the Commonwealth and State governments. The other private schools have a requirement of only 10 per cent. There are colossal differences like that.
In the capital area the Catholic schools want to spend only $312 a pupil over a 5- year period whereas the non-Catholic schools want to spend S 1 ,084 a pupil. There is a terrific difference which is not accounted for simply by the fact that the teachers in the Catholic schools are people who have taken a vocation. It is more than that. They are catering for the lower income section as a whole and accordingly they pitch their standards lower. Obviously they are people whose need is greater and who therefore require assistance on a different scale. But there is nothing in the Bill concerning need. Perhaps the Minister will pop up now and make a statement.
– in reply - The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) knows the basis on which the science and library proposals have worked. Those basic programmes were designed to introduce into all Australian secondary schools facilities which had not been equalled in any secondary schools before the programmes began. The programmes were designed for all schools in the government area and in the independent area. The objectives of the new capital aid programme are different in kind from the science and library programme objectives. I have mentioned the difference on a number of occasions, and the difference in approach.
The questions that the honourable member for Bendigo is most concerned about will largely be answered as the administrative arrangements unfold. Shortly I will ask for permission to have incorporated in Hansard 2 documents which will assist in this matter. I have said on many occasions that the new capital aid programme is basically designed to achieve a greater rate of school construction and greater equality of educational facilities between schools. Under that sort of arrangement schools that are very well endowed with assets will be unlikely, I imagine, to get a recommendation from a State Advisory Committee. This does not affect the basic support for the recurrent grants.
I ask for leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard the terms of reference of the Commonwealth Committee on Facilities for Non Government Schools. This Committee will be chaired by Sir Ivan Docherty. It will be advising us on standards and guidelines for the capital aid programme. I would also like to have incorporated in Hansard a document that has been prepared in my Department and has the Government’s support. It sets out the basis of the calculation of per capita grants, for the Commonwealth’s 20 per cent which has been worked out in agreement with the States. All States participated in the discussion. I am not indicating firm figures at this stage because that will be necessary after the last State budget comes down, but the document will be of some assistance to honourable members.
– I would like to have a look at the documents to see what is being incorporated. They seem to be pretty innocuous.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
The Committee is to advise and assist the Minister andhis Department in developing a programme of capital grants for non-government schools in the States directed towards the achievement of the Commonwealth’s objectives that:
The Committee will observe the conditions that:
The Committee will establish liaison with Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Standards for Science Facilities in Independent Secondary Schools and the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries Committee and with government and non-government school authorities throughout Australia, with the Priorities Committee appointed in each State under this programme, and, subject to the Minister’s approval, the Committee will estab lish criteria for the distribution of grants to non-government schools, including criteria in relation to:
The Committee will advise the Minister on desirable standards to be adopted under the programme and on such matters as the Minister refers to it. In this connection it will also:
Calculation of Per Capita Grants
Part III of this Bill provides for annual grants for recurrent expenditure in non-government schools commencing in January 1973. The grants will be calculated on a per pupil basis according to the enrolment in each non-government school on the schools census date early in August of each year. The rate per pupil will be determined at one-fifth of the amount prescribed by regulation to be the Australia-wide average cost of educating a pupil in government primary and secondary schools for the financial year ending during the calendar year in which the payments will bo made.
For grants in 1973, the States have been invited to provide details of estimated expenditure in government schools in 1972-73. These amounts will be added to figures for the Commonwealth mainland territories to assess the Australia-wide cost of educating a child in government primary and secondary schools. The school enrolments used by education departments to calculate the per pupil costs will be an average of those at the schools census date in August 1972 and an estimate for the corresponding date in 1973.
In selecting the items of expenditure, included in the assessment of the per pupil expenditure in government schools, It has been agreed by Commonwealth and State officials that certain expenditure in the government system does not have a parallel in independent schools. It has been decided that the following items of expenditure on government schools shall be included in the assessment. The principal items are: Salaries and related costs of teachers, specialist and ancillary staff; library and textbooks, textbook allowances, stores and teaching equipment (including subsidies to parents’ organisations); other running costs such as cleaning, building and grounds, maintenance, fuel, power, water, etc.
It was agreed that 2 per cent of the total of the above items would be added to cover administrative costs and other minor items of expenditure.
Per pupil expenditure in 1972-73 will be derived from expenditure on teachers’ salaries as included in State Budget papers for 1972-73, together with an estimate for the other items of expenditure projected forward from 1971-72. This mechanism arises from discussions between Commonwealth and State officials.
Department of Education and Science, 25 September 1972.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Order of the Day No. 5 Government Business being called on.
Consideration resumed from 14 September (vide page 1400), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
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 Malcolm Fraser) read a third time.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Income Tax Bill 1972.
Without amendment -
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) 1972.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill 1972.
House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Much of the information sought has already been presented to Parliament. I refer the honourable member particularly to the answers to House of Representatives Question No. 2204 (Hansard, 24th February 1971, page 625) and the Senate Questions Nos 1174 and 1175 (Hansard, 29th September 1971, page 941).
The honourable member has already been supplied by my Department with a copy of the document entitled ‘Capital Aid Scheme - Revised Procedures’ which gives details of procedures, terms and conditions. The Second Reading Speech of the Independent Schools (Loans Guarantee) Bill 1969 briefly outlines the Commonwealth commitment in respect of guaranteed loans.
and (4) The report on ‘Per Capita Grants to Schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory 1971’, tabled in the House on 28th March 1972, lists the schools and their enrolments as at August, 1971. The official 1972 school census figures are not yet available. All schools listed for the Australian Capital Territory are Roman Catholic schools except Canberra Church of England Girls Grammar School, Canberra Grammar School including St John’s Infants School and Koomarri Training Centre. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Darwin, a Roman Catholic school, was opened in 1972 and this school took over the secondary enrolments previously listed under St Mary’s School, Darwin.
At the commencement of the 1972 school year a new Roman Catholic Primary School was opened in Page, Australian Capital Territory. The Seventh Day Adventist School Mawson and the AME School Duntroon, both in the Australian Capital Territory, were also opened at the beginning of this year. All independent schools in the Northern Territory are Roman Catholic schools. (5 (a)) and (5 (b)) Total loans approved for all schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory under the various aid schemes to 30th June 1971 are given in the answers to the Senate Questions Nos 1174 and 1175 of 29th September 1971. The Second Reading Speech of the Independent Schools (Loans Guarantee) Act 1969 lists the total value of all projects for each school approved under the ‘Interest Reimbursement Scheme’. These latter projects were subsequently converted to the Capital Aid Scheme in 1968.
Details of actual payments made under the Interest Subsidy/Capital Aid Conversion Scheme’ are set out in the answers to Senate Questions Nos 1174 and 1175. Details of loan amounts and interest reimbursement rates on which these payments are based are as follows:
The attached Table ‘A’ lists the projects approved at each school. the approved capital aid in respect of those projects and the payments made in 1971-72 for capital repayments and interest reimbursement.
Annual reports required under the Independent Schools (Loans Guarantee) Act 1969, which give details of guarantees approved under the Act and payments made in respect of any guarantees made under the Act, are now available for tabling. The most recent information on other types of financial assistance the Commonwealth gives to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory is given in the publication prepared by my Department - Government Grants, Allowances and Subsidies for Primary and Secondary Schools and their Pupils’ (Canberra 1971). This is readily available from my Department. I have forwarded the honourable member a copy.
Each year Appropriation Bills Nos 1 and 2 show the totals of estimated payments to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory for the forthcoming financial year as well as the actual payments made during the previous financial year.
The relevant items are:
Capital - Appropriation Bill No. 2. A.C.T. 825/1/05 N.T. 825/1/06
Interest on Loans and other forms of assistance:
Appropriation Bill No. 1. A.C.T. 231/1/13 N.T. 232/2/10.
Actual expenditure on each of the items 231/1/13 and 232/2/10 for 1969-70, 1970-71 and 1971-72 are set out in the following tables.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 September 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720927_reps_27_hor80/>.