28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
The CLERK - 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 humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will move to make available to the Tasmanian Government a special grant for the purpose of securing Lake Pedder in its natural state.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Grassby, Mr Chipp, Mr Coates, Mr Nixon and Mr Whittorn.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.’
That they share a deep concern and dismayin regard to certain proposals of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission.
That abandoning the established principle of per capita payments will cause unequal treatment of different children in non-government schools.
That per capita payments should be equal for all children at similar levels of education irrespective of the school they attend and of the financial situation of their parents.
That the proposal to categorise schools in terms of a dubious index of current resources is discriminatory in effect and should be abandoned, or if it is retained in some improved form, that no equivalents of existing categories A or B should be declared.
That the effect of certain proposals of the Karmel Committee may be to cause bitter, sectarian division in the community.
That measures should be adopted to reduce rather than to increase the degree of centralised, authoritarian, bureaucratic control of education in Australia.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray, that the Government will take no measures to implement proposals of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission for the time being, but that the Report be tabled in Parliament, with full ancillary information, so that it may receive proper scrutiny and evaluation by the Australian people.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray, etc. by Mr Malcolm Fraser.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showelh -
That the proposed ‘free’ national health scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme.
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory are a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr McLeay.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of employees of Woodsreef Mines (Limited and Chrysotile Corporation of Australia Pty Limited and residents of Barraba, Bingara, Manilla, Bundarra respectfully showeth:
That revaluation of Australian dollars by the Federal Government in December 1972 and the devaluation of U.S. dollars in February 1973 have caused Woodsreef Mines Limited severe revenue losses.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that:
The Federal Government will assist this company in the form of urgent compensation to help this mine to continue operating.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Sinclair.
- Mr Speaker, in accordance with standing order 131 I inform the House that I intend to submit a notice of motion for the appointment of a select committee of the House of Representatives to inquire into and report on matters which were referred to in the petition relating to health insurance which was lodged by me today. I add that I have here 50,000 petitions on this matter and I am receiving them at the rate of 1,500 a day. Accordingly, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to withdraw the notice which I gave previously for General Business Thursday No. 9. I now give notice that on General Business Thursday No. 9 I shall move:
That a select committee of the House of Representatives be appointed to inquire into and report on the effects on the Australian community if the present voluntary health insurance scheme is replaced by a compulsory, tax financed health insurance scheme as recommended by the Health Insurance Planning Committee and, in particular, to determine:
any likely inflationary effects;
any overutilisation of medical and hospital services;
the cost to individuals, particularly in relation to hospitalisation;
any discriminatory aspects for certain categories of taxpayers;
any erosion of an individual’s freedom of choice of doctor or hospital; and (0 its effects on the national economy and the quality of health care for present and future generations of Australians.
– I direct my question to the PostmasterGeneral. In view of the fact that the Government’s decision to increase postal charges will strike heavily at the country newspaper industry, will the
PostmasterGeneral reconsider the answer he gave to the Leader of the Australian Country Party yesterday? Is the PostmasterGeneral not aware that country newspapers rely on postage for their deliveries and that that is not the case with metropolitan dailies? Is the PostmasterGeneral not aware that his new policy will favour the centralist national newspapers against small rural newspapers which arc often the only means of disseminating local community news?
– As indicated yesterday, it is not a policy of this Government to create subsidies and to ask other taxpayers to pay for them. I appreciate that the honourable member for Wannon is a member of the Liberal Party and not a member of the Country Party, but it is interesting to note that the Country Party is always indicating in the public forum that these subsidies should be part of the Consolidated Revenue problem and not a matter for the person who uses the telephone or buys stamps. The honourable member was a member of the Party which was in power for some 24 years but which did nothing about this attitude. The full details of the increases were given to the Country Party at a meeting yesterday. Members of the Country Party obviously are very satisfied with those details. They have not asked any questions about them.
– Has the Treasurer’s attention been drawn to statement No. 3 attached to the Budget Speech which indicates that the increase in money supply was 16.7 per cent during the first half of the year 1972-73, but only 9 per cent in the second half? Can the Treasurer say whether the Government took any action early after taking office to reduce the rate of increase in the money supply? Can the Treasurer say whether that same antiinflationary action would have been carried out by the previous Government?
– I thank the honourable member for the question. It gives me the opportunity to draw to the attention of all honourable members not what I said the other evening but some of the very comprehensive statements that are attached to the Budget. I always found statements Nos 2 and 3 much more informative than the Budget Speech itself. Perhaps somebody will suggest that about this Budget Speech also. At least the tabulation contained in the Budget papers under the heading ‘Financial Year 1972-73’ draws attention to the many sorts of factors that are influential so far as inflation is concerned. That table indicates that something that is called the volume of money becomes what it is by reason of action or inaction in other spheres.
– And by the Government.
– Yes, and by the Government. This table has the very fortunate advantage that it divides 1972-73 into 2 halves. The first half of the year was a period when the now Opposition was in government. The second half of the year, from 1 January 1973, largely coincides with the Labor Government’s period of office. I suggest that a clear and critical examination should be made of the 2 halves of the year. A critical examination is important. I am not trying to carp on this matter, but I think the more informed debate there is about inflation the sooner we will reach cohesion about its solution. Insofar as we try to think it is a political game that can be made better or worse according to changes of government, I think we are far from getting a solution. But insofar as actions which government can take are important, I think that those who read the periods critically would suggest that more definite action has been taken by the Labor Government in the second half of that financial year than was taken by the previous Government in the first half. To a great extent the situation that is upon us now had its seeds not only in the first half of the financial year but also going back earlier.
Regarding the influences of such things as expansion of bank credit and other extensions that are generally called liquidity in the finish, we have acted more decisively in that area than the previous Government did. I simply pinpoint that that influence is not reflected yet in either of the 2 halves of the financial year. I am talking about the table in the Budget. At question time I do not venture to try to cover everything. If I am asked a question I try to confine myself to the perspective of that question. 1 merely suggest that on 23 December we took the action of revaluing the currency. We did not follow the United States down when it devalued later. We acted for the first time for some years on the statutory deposits and so on. We took the recent action on tariffs also. I suggest that all of these actions will have more effect in reducing inflation in the future period and had the previous Govern ment taken some of those actions the situation that we now have would not be as aggravated as it is.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Northern Development. I ask: What provision was made in the Budget for the Minister’s area of responsibility for northern development and what new decisions has the Minister been able to persuade his colleagues to support?
– If the honourable member wishes to read the Budget he will find that a great deal of money has been made available in various fields in the northern part of Australia - in the fields of health, education, Aboriginal development, public works, water conservation–
– What about the Burdekin River?
– The honourable member has not even read the Budget. He asks: ‘What about the Burdekin River?’ What did the previous government do about the development of the Burdekin River for the last 23 years and how much money did it make available in the last 23 years even for investigations? The answer is precisely nothing. It gave not one cent. Seeing that we are on that subject, who will forget the words of the then Leader of the Australian Country Party in 1949, when he said: ‘We will build the Burdekin Dam.’ That was in 1949. When this Government came to power some of the first things that I called for were the progressive reports on the Federal evaluation of the Burdekin proposals. I got nothing. There had been no evaluation made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. In this Budget priority has been given to the Burdekin proposals. A sum of $200,00 has been made available for investigations in this financial year and this will be matched by $200,000 from the Queensland Government. So a sum of $400,000 is to be injected immediately into a top level investigation of the Burdekin proposals. I suggest that the honourable member for Wannon keep quiet in relation to the Burdekin proposal, because his government did precisely nothing about it.
One of the major areas of development in northern Australia will be Townsville. My colleague, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, has given this a high priority.
He was recently in northern Queensland and saw some of the shocking conditions in Gladstone. What did the previous government do to help local government in Gladstone? What did the previous government do in respect of local government in Townsville? Development will be carried out in these places by the present Government. If honourable members opposite look at the Budget papers they will find that a large amount of money in fact, the greatest amount allocated in any financial period during the last 24 years will be diverted to northern Australia this financial year.
– In view of the controversy which has arisen in Western Australia over transport difficulties of prisoner-of-war survivors of the United States vessel ‘Houston’ going to Western Australia for a reunion and appeals which have been made to give them financial assistance, will the Minister for Defence clarify the past practice in these matters? What is the true situation in relation to the survivors of the’Houston’? Further, in view of proposals to hold an international convention of prisonersofwar in Australia in the future, what will be the policy with respect to transport assistance?
– I received a communication from the secretary of the ExPrisoner ofWar Association of Australia who wrote to me asking for assistance to provide flight services from Learmonth and from Woomera for 30 exprisonersofwar and their wives from the United States of America. I understand that United States authorities have arranged for their airlift according to the availability of aircraft into Learmonth and Woomera and according to availability of space on aircraft. I gave sympathetic consideration to the request I received and to representations which had been made to me by the honourable member for Swan on this matter. It is clear that it would create a precedent in Australia. Quite frankly, it would not be possible for me to justify the expenditure involved in using Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to transport the ex-prisoners ofwar and their wives from Learmonth and from Woomera.
The only precedent that has been established by previous Australian governments in relation to providing assistance for ex-prisonersofwar to attend reunions I should point out to the House that if I approve the airlift by RAAF aircraft on this occasion it will, of course, be necessary for me to approve similar requests from Australian ex-prisonersofwar for reunions in this country was for the national reunion of those who served in New Guinea. That was the only deviation from the established criteria. They were provided with transport to New Guinea for the 25th anniversary of the signing of the surrender document in that country. That was the only occasion on which financial assistance was approved for exservicemen or ex-prisonerofwar organisations in Australia. Clearly expenditure of this kind, however sympathetic one may be, cannot be justified.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. No mention was made of the national water sources development program in the Budget. Will the Government continue this program and provide additional capital for it? Will finance be made available to overcome pollution problems in the Murray River from the AlburyWodonga growth area and from salinity?
– In 1969, the previous Government allocated a sum of $1 00m for a national water resources program and as requests came in and projects were considered the money was disbursed. But we have decided to change that approach. At present, we are formulating a national water resources policy. Up until now there has not been one. In the past, consideration was given to individual projects as they came in and we feel that it is time we determined the way that water resources should be developed across the whole country. That is in the process of preparation. In the meantime, of course, every project before us will be considered on its merits, but we are reluctant to rush into an analysis of individual projects until we have a more comprehensive approach. However, there are crises such as the problem of salinity in the River Murray. As honourable members would probably recall, the Prime Minister called a meeting with the Premiers of the appropriate States New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in March and, as a result of that meeting, a working party was established to look into the problem. We are expecting its report, 1 think, at the end of this month or early next month. That report will then be referred to the steering committee which consists of the Ministers responsible from each State and myself. When we have considered the report it will then be tabled and 1 hope that we will be able to undertake appropriate action to solve the problem. It extends beyond the problem of salinity - not a simple problem. We are looking at the whole question of pollution. This of course will encompass the effect that AlburyWodonga might have on the Murray system.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration and I was reminded of it by the condolence motion on Tuesday for the late Arthur Calwell. Has the Minister taken any action on my suggestion advanced by question without notice on 16 May for a museum of migration and citizenship to be established in Canberra? If so, what is likely to eventuate in preserving our heritage and history in this way?
– The honourable member for Scullin did ask me in May of this year what could be done to preserve the heritage that we have in migration and citizenship by way of establishing a museum in Canberra to house all of the documents and to retain all of the segments of our history which, I might say, are dispersed and could easily be lost. I did have some talks with the Minister for the Capital Territory and he was enthusiastic about the idea. I also indicated at that time that I would look to see whether anything had been done by my predecessors and I found that the honourable member for Bowman had asked a question of the previous Minister for Immigration, now the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in 1970. He had expressed similar concern that the heritage of history that we have in migrant and citizenship should not be lost. The previous Minister indicated that he welcomed the suggestion and he would follow it up. I discovered from the files that he did this and I am pleased to say that I have now arranged for a small history section to bring together all the data we have so that it will not be lost and I hope to arrange for its publication. So, that is one section of it. In regard to the proposal of the honourable member for Scullin, I will continue my talks with my colleague, the Minister for the Capital Territory, to see whether the museum could be established. The thought had occurred to me in view of the proposal for a new Parliament House - on Capital Hill, I believe - that if this great, historic structure were to be left without a use, it could well become a museum for our past enterprises.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Secondary Industry a question. Yesterday the Minister announced that approval had been given by the Government to import 800 tons of New Zealand potatoes for processing into chips. On what basis did the Minister assess that the importation of these potatoes would alleviate the situation of high prices of fresh raw potatoes to the consumer?
– Any increase in the supply of a commodity in very short supply in Australia is likely to benefit every member of the community who needs that supply. The use of the 800 tons of imported potatoes in the production of potato chips by manufacturers will mean that they will not be drawing on supplies in other areas, and that will make supplies more available to the community. It is obvious at a time like this when there is a very great shortage of a number of vital food commodities that an increase in imports of those commodities will be of benefit to the consumer. I am particularly concerned about the consumer, but I am not concerned about the producer when I know that the price of potatoes in Australia in the last 12 months has risen from S40 to S50 a ton to $200 a ton. I believe that any increase in the supply of commodities in such short supply as potatoes are is now thoroughly justified in the interests of the Australian community.
– Has the Minister for Social Security seen the letter written to the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ by the former Minister for Health, the honourable member for Barker? If so, does he agree with the proud contention of the honourable member for Barker that his Government’s approach to health care was the best in the world? Finally, does he agree with the judgment of the honourable member for Barker that the Australian Labor Party has adopted the Scotton and Deeble health proposals with indecent haste when, firstly, the Government has not accepted them yet and, secondly, the Australian Labor Party and the Minister have worked on health reforms for at least the past 6 years?
– With characteristic behaviour a former Miinster for Health, now the Opposition spokesman on, 1 think, defence, although I am not sure we have heard from him on that subject, was exaggerating when he wrote that letter. No one could be happy with the present system of health insurance in this country, lt is inequitable. The wealthy pay least. Those least able to afford the cost of it pay most. It misses out on too many people. Over one million- people in Australia are without any cover at all, and a rather tardy effort to provide cover for low income earners was a complete failure. Only about 4 in every 100 families who are supposed to be covered have in fact been covered. Desperate efforts to remedy this defect completely failed. I think that the whole criticism of the present system can be summed up by the Nimmo report, which was a scathing condemnation of the present system of private health insurance. If any public undertaking were to receive such critical comment from a public inquiry it would be closed down; it would completely lose credibility and confidence from the public. That was bad enough but the last Government did not even take up the key recommendations of the Nimmo report, for instance, the proposals for a participating doctors’ scheme, the zoning of open funds, the establishment of a national health insurance commission, arrangements for employers’ group deductions of contributions for employees, cessation of commission paid to employers for deductions, means test-free availability of standard or public ward accommodation, the integration of public hospital out-patients’ services and health insurance, the gradual elimination of honorary and concessional services-
– I raise a point of order. I cannot believe that the Minister has so much knowledge in his little head. The question is not a question without notice.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– I can assure the honourable member for Griffith that there is plenty of room for more knowledge to be fitted into that little head.
– There is certainly a gap there.
– That is true, but it has never been big enough to allow me eligibility to enter the Country Party.
-Order! There are far too many interjections and I ask the Minister to ignore them.
– I ignore the interjections from all honourable members. I thank the honourable member for Cook for this unexpected question. I want to make one final point. There has been no indecent haste in the Government’s approach to the introduction of health insurance. We have not finalised our commitment to the planning report which was tabled in this Parliament in May shortly after we received it. That is unlike the practice of past governments when reports have disappeared into limbo. We have deferred final decisions on that report pending further discussions with the Australian Medical Association. We have done that at the Association’s request. The key point in this matter was made by the honourable member for Cook, namely, that for the past several years there have been considerable discussions on the principles of our universal health insurance program. Members of the Opposition have contributed to it, not with particularly informed minds. The Australian Medical Association has contributed to it, with an even more prejudiced approach. The health insurance funds have bankrolled a lot of the spokesmen who are now opposing what we are putting forward. But our scheme is based on freedom of choice of medical practitioner, on private practice and on fee for service remuneration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Northern Development representing the Minister for Primary Industry. To assist farmers in building drought reserves to help avoid disastrous stock losses the previous Government introduced special depreciation provisions for hay sheds and silos which enabled their cost to be written off in the year of construction. What allowance will be made for such structures under the Government’s recent Budget decisions?
– It is obvious that the honourable member should have directed this question to the Treasurer. It is a technical matter of depreciation allowance for taxation purposes. I will draw this matter to the attention of the Treasurer for a full reply.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Transport. I know that the Minister is aware and has been aware for some time of the critical position in some Australian shipyards in relation to orders. Is he able to give any indication of when orders will be placed with builders for the construction of the navigational aid vessels?
– Tenders for the navigational aid ship were called earlier in the year and closed late in June. At the present time the model of the navigational aid ship is being subjected to tank testing in Germany. At the moment cavitation testing is being carried out. This in turn will have an influence on the final lines of the ship and also on the propellers. When these tests are concluded we will be in a position to allocate the order to the successful tenderer. I am not in a position to indicate to the honourable member at this stage who is the lowest tenderer, for one very simple reason, that when the tank tests are completed some major change in the design may be required and this could result in the project having to be submitted to retender. We do not expect that to happen because at the moment. the tank testing is going quite successfully and this would indicate that the design is quite satisfactory.
– Mr Speaker, I address my question to the right honourable the Prime Minister.
– Order! Not ‘right honourable’ but ‘honourable’.
– My sincere apologies to the Prime Minister. He will recognise a famous quote: ‘I come here not to complain but to seek information.’ The Prime Minister will be aware of the requests to industry not to make a profit out of metrication. Is he aware that his Government is setting a very bad example in that the Post Office, in converting from ounces to metric grammes, is making a heavy profit? For example, a 2 oz or 56 gramme letter, newspaper or parcel which previously cost 7c to post will now cost 15c? As this is a simple abuse of conversion to metrication will the Prime Minister do something about it?
– The Postmaster-General will answer the question.
– It may surprise the honourable member to learn that the idea of entering into metrication was endorsed by the previous government in which he was a Cabinet Minister, and further that the metric rates are on the international standard applying to all letters. The idea was in fact endorsed by my predecessor as far back as May 1972. A Press statement was issued at that time. It clearly indicated what would be the actual weights in metrics for all letters.
– What about the rates?
– As regards the rates, the honourable member might be interested to know that my predecessor also knew the position and in fact was going to increase postage rates by lc on a 1 oz letter. This is the astounding fact. A former Minister of the same Cabinet would have known in 1972 that under the previous government’s policy it was proposed this year to increase the rate of 7c for a letter to 8c, and it had nothing to do with metrics as such. It was due to the fact that the whole policy of the previous government was designed to ensure that the 7c letter rate was increased to 10c by 1975, and that is the problem.
– This is dishonest.
– It is not dishonest. It is on record. The honourable member was a member of Cabinet. He had access to all these details.
– There was no decision.
– There was a decision.
-Order! If interjections do not cease I will have to take appropriate action.
– It is quite clear that these sorts of questions are asked in order to try to delude this House into accepting the fact that there was no previous knowledge of metrication and no previous knowledge of tariff increases. Both of the decisions on these matters were the responsibility of the previous government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is the Minister aware that a chap named Woodward who is attached to the New South
Wales Department of Justice last week publicly criticised the Divorce Law Reform Association in Australia which has been exposing weaknesses in our divorce laws and certain exploitation of humble citizens by legal eagles? Does he agree with this criticism by this man Woodward?
– I am familiar with the newspaper reports to which the honourable member refers. Of course, it can be expected that criticism will continue to be received because while the divorce laws of Australia remain in their present unsatisfactory state people will criticise them. The whole basis of fault in the law of matrimonial causes, the whole adversary situation which makes a controversial, expensive and litigious issue out of divorce, is something which will always offend people and give rise to demands for reform. I know that the Attorney-General is very concerned about this subject and is having studies of it made. But I think beyond that there is nothing else I can say at this stage in answer to the honourable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. How much additional revenue will be raised from the rural community by the abolition of depreciation allowances, the imposition of increased country telephone rentals and higher non-metropolitan petrol prices?
– One of the main objectives in altering the depreciation allowances was to place depreciation allowances for special equipment on the same basis as those allowances provided for every other person in the community for structural improvements. The figures relating to increased revenues for all of the items mentioned were precisely laid out in the Budget. I suggest that the honourable member should read the Budget and if he does not have that information I am quite certain that the Treasurer will provide it.
– Can the Minister for Defence advise whether the present orders for Nomad aircraft placed with ‘the Government Aircraft Factories are sufficient to maintain the workload in that establishment, and whether additional orders have been received for Ikara missiles and other products of GAF? Will the measures announced in the Minister’s defence statement last night affect the projected delivery dates for orders of Nomad aircraft?
– The honourable member will know that recently the Government decided to provide additional finance for the production of further Nomad aircraft; that is in addition to the initial program determined by the Government. That program will proceed. Indeed, there is every indication from inquiries that are being made both within and outside Australia and the initiatives that have been adopted by my colleague the Minister for Secondary Industry that the demand for Nomads will increase considerably. There will be no alteration to the existing program regardless of any decisions that the Government has made and which I announced last night in the defence statement. The present program will proceed and I hope that in the foreseeable future we will be in a position to announce a more definite program than the one already determined.
– I ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he recalls stating in the preelection period that a Labor Government would accept the responsibility for ensuring that ‘its target for defence spending will not fall below the level of 3.2 per cent to 3.5 per cent of gross national product set by Liberal-Country Party governments in recent years’. Does the honourable gentleman regard that statement as consistent with the announcement which he made last evening? Does he agree that the cutbacks which he announced represent a dishonouring of the earlier ‘preelection commitment? Is he aware of the widespread concern and apprehension in the armed services of this country at the announcement he made in the House last evening?
– I believe that the figures of 3.2 per cent and 3.5 per cent were expressed during the last general election campaign. However, I ought to make it perfectly clear in the House this morning as I did last night in my statement that when I assumed responsibility as Minster for Defence I immediately began an investigation into all aspects of defence, it being the first occasion on which we were in a position to deal with all segments of the defence administration; that is, the 3 separate Service ministries as well as the
Defence Ministry. It is quite clear the economies should be made. As I indicated last night this Government intends to bring about those economies.
Again I should point out that a government has a responsibility to determine what amount of gross national product or gross domestic product should be spent on defence, but it has to make that decision together with other decisions that the Government finds necessary, particularly in relation to our existing program to improve education facilities in this country and to provide greater security opportunities for the citizens of Australia, and indeed in all of the domestic programs. It is quite clear that these were the priorities that Labor had announced in the 1972 election campaign.
There has been a fluctuation in the defence expenditure in this country. This morning on the Australian Broadcasting Commission ‘AM’ program the Leader of the Opposition said that he believed that the spending of the previous Government on defence was correct. But to which year did he refer? In 1962-63, when the previous Government was talking about confrontation and the danger that arose to this country as a result of confrontation, the defence expenditure was only 2.6 per cent of the gross national product. Because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has made an accusation that I did not mention in my defence statement what percentage of GNP or GDP defence expenditure would actually be this year, I say quite unequivocally that it will be 2.9 per cent of GNP. We believe that in view of the economies that will be made that is realistic.
I refer, for example, to stocks in this country. I think most honourable members would be astounded to know that there are sufficient stocks of ammunition to meet Australia’s requirements for the next 25 years. In these circumstances how can one justify continued expenditure in these fields? As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has raised this question, I think I should indicate to him some of the shortcomings of the previous Government in this field. I have set out a clear statement of policy in relation to defence. I have indicated the direction that this Government will take. It has been accepted without equivocation by the Department of Defence, which has been most co-operative in the discussions I have had with it over a very long period. We have arrived at what we believe to be a realistic figure, in a no threat period, to provide for the defence of this country.
– My question to the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry relates to the stainless steel industry and the electronics industry in Australia. Is the Minister aware of growing disquiet within those industries at the impact of the tariff decision which was made by the Government a month or so ago? Is he aware that these industries believe that within 12 months they will be hit seriously by Japanese imports into this country? Is the Government considering any assistance to particular industries which have been affected by the tariff decision? I accept that on balance the decision was a good decision as an anti-inflationary measure. Can we expect a selective adjustment of the tariff on those industries which will be drastically affected?
– The 25 per cent reduction in general tariff rates that the Government recently decided upon has been associated for the first time in the history of Australia with a positive program of adjustment assistance. The assistance is to be administered by a special tribunal, Mr David McBride. He is a man who is extremely well qualified for the job and he has the money - $25m - and the means to provide assistance for any industries that are in difficulty. I was informed just this morning by the Minister for Labour that up until now there have been no registrations in any of the Commonwealth Employment Service offices of people who claim to have been disemployed as a result of the tariff reduction. I am aware that in a number of industries it is expected that in the next 6 or 12 months there will be increased pressure from imports and that this may even result in the inability of industries to increase their prices as much as they might otherwise have done. The reduction might have the effect of a downward pressure on prices.
– Prices are going up. Do not misrepresent the position.
– But the probability is that, if it were not for this tariff cut, if it were not for the increase in imports that will come from that tariff cut, the price increases about which the former Prime Minister is now complaining would be greater still. I am sure that his knowledge of economics would be enough to convince him of that. It is quite clear that the probability is that there will be a considerable increase in imports - perhaps $400m worth - as a result of this tariff cut, without any decrease in Australian production and without any decrease in Australian employment. I am sure the Opposition has a sufficient knowledge of economics to know that that would be a very good national result. Quite a number of difficulties are involved. There are industries in the country and perhaps industries employing predominantly female labour which will be affected by this decision, but as I have said we have built into this, for the first time in Australian history, a comprehensive system of adjustment assistance which will allow for that. Mr McBride, on application from any industry-
– Which union did he come from?
– Mr McBride, of course, was appointed by our predecessors and their judgment was very good. They appointed him to the Tariff Board because they knew of his special qualifications in this area. I am very glad that our predecessors did so. He is ideally equipped for his present position. I would like to make it clear that Mr McBride has the power to recommend a restoration of tariff protection or protection in some other form, if that is desired. On the other hand, he has the power to give effective adjustment assistance so that beneficial changes can be made and so that they will not fall directly upon employees or the industries concerned. This is a comprehensive system of adjustment that is necessary if there is to be any tariff reform at all. Experience in the last 20 years has proved that, in its absence, tariff reform is most difficult indeed. This Government has made a more substantial reform in tariff by this one action than was made in the previous 20 years, and we have done it with adequate safeguard.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been misrepresented by a Labor Party member of the New South Wales Parliament, Mr H. C. Mallam. On the front page of the ‘Sydney
Morning Herald’ today there is a statement relating to - whatever his name is - Mr Alexander Barton. Mr Mallam said:
With an eye to the main chance, he formed an association with a Mr John Bovill, of 36 Drumalbyn Road, Bellevue Hill, a leader of the society set and a close neighbour of Mr William McMahon.
I would like to make this comment about Mr Alexander Barton. I have never seen or spoken to Mr Alexander Barton. I have never had any connection with him direct or indirect. I have never had any personal connection, political, business or otherwise, with him. In fact, he is a non-person to me. Mr John Bovill did live in the same street as I. I do not know whether he still resides there. I do not know where he now lives. I have never had any personal business dealings, direct or indirect, with him. Nor have I ever discussed any business transaction with him. I refer now to the other part of the statement. I can see the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) looking very anguished and intense at the moment.
– He does not look anguished.
– The honourable member sees only his back and he does not reflect his feelings from behind, or so I am told. The other part of the statement to which I wish to refer states:
Mr Mallam said Mr McMahon signed an agreement on Boxing Day, 1970, for the purchase of 6 of these aircraft for $275,000.
I signed no agreement. I had no power under Acts of Parliament or otherwise to sign any agreement. As I pointed out on 17 October 1972 in this House and as is recorded in Hansard, I had approved of a recommendation by a very reputable person, the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, for the purchase of aircraft.
– I wish to take a point of order.
-Order! A point of order must be taken at the time. Does the right honourable senator wish to make a personal explanation on the ground that he has been misrepresented?
– Very well.
– I claim to have been misrepresented by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen). In answering a question in the House today and venting his spleen against country people and carrying out the Australian Labor Party vendetta -
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will explain where he was misrepresented.
– The Postmaster-General stated that there had been no complaint in this House about the increased charges for country people. Yesterday I made it quite clear in a question I asked that I was gravely concerned about the increased charges that this Government is imposing specifically against country people, especially country newspapers. If that was not clear to him I do not know how one does make it clear to him.
-Order! Is leave granted?
– No. The Minister is not here. There is a way of going about these things. A Minister should be told.
– I ask leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– For the information of honourable members I present the joint communique issued at the conclusion of my visit to India between 3 and 6 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable members I present a report entitled Expansion of Medical Education’. This is the report of the Committee on Medical Schools to the Australian Universities Commission dated July 1973.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-72 I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Palmerston Arterial Road, Darwin, Northern Territory,.
Ordered that the report bc printed.
– I move:
That this House is of the opinion that -
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting its concurrence.
The motion which appears on the notice paper is, I think, the most practical form in which such a motion can be passed by this House. The House previously has expressed an opinion on the site of Parliament House - one with which I disagree. The Senate also has expressed an opinion which differs from that of the House. Moving the motion in the form in which it now appears on the notice paper I believe presents the only means by which the question can properly be resolved.
If we proceeded in this House as my former motion would have provided and again made a decision on a site, either site might be chosen. But we would still be in the position that the Senate might choose a different site. So we would be back to the situation which existed on the last occasion this matter was debated. I believe it is a question which should be decided with some degree of urgency. It is nearly 10 years since the Lake site was substituted for the original Camp Hill site. The Capital Hill site was voted against by this House but agreed to by the Senate. This House was then in conflict with the Senate on the proposed site. The only means by which a solution can be arrived at by the majority of members of the Parliament - I believe this is not a matter for the House of Representatives or for the Senate to decide - is for it to be resolved by the collective will of the members of the Parliament.
I acknowledge that any decision which will be made to proceed with the construction of a new and permanent parliament house will have to be an Executive decision whereby the Executive of the day will decide whether it is able or prepared to allocate funds for that purpose. I do not believe that precludes the House from expressing its opinion that the matter is urgent. I do not believe there is any member of this House - any Minister, any member of the Opposition or any backbench member of the Government - who does’ hot” agree that this particular House is’ totally unsatisfactory, taking into account the fact that approximately 1,000 people work in it. This House was built originally as a temporary structure because at that time the Parliament was unable to agree on a permanent parliament house site and, because of the necessity to have a House for the Parliament, a very substantial temporary structure was erected.
The stage has now been reached where the cost of additions and maintenance that must be carried out is becoming ludicrous. Almost every -year Sim or more is spent on extensions to patch up a building which has outlived its economic usefulness. It is a historic building and one which I think most honourable members would like to see preserved but, as with many such structures, the preservation of a building does not necessarily mean that it can perform the function for which it wis originally designed. In Britain the Tower of London is preserved but it is no longer used for imprisoning prisoners or for the dislocation of one’s head from one’s body, which was its original purpose.
The motion asks that the site be resolved immediately. It asks the Senate to co-operate in a joint sitting with this House to resolve the site. I believe that at such a sitting the question of the 2 sites could be adequately debated and resolved. 1 think that at this time we should decide to ask for a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament. I do not intend to debate the merits; of the 2 sites now. Every honourable member in this House knows where I stand on that matter. I firmly believe that the most adequate site is Capital Hill. There may be, and no doubt there will be, very sound, useful and practical reasons advanced for the site at Camp Hill being adopted. I do not believe that it would be in the interests of resolving the question before us to go into that at this time. If amendments are moved to provide for a site, we will delay the resolution of this question indeterminately. We will almost be in a situation of disagreement with the Senate and will have to revert to asking for a joint meeting to resolve the question, lt is a question that should be decided by an absolute majority of members of both Houses. I move this motion because I believe it is the best way to solve the problem. I move it because I believe that the problem of the site should be resolved quickly. Plans are already afoot for the partial construction or the starting of construction of a new parliament house on the Camp Hill site. These plans can be looked at and proceeded with only if there is agreement by both sides of the Parliament or by the majority of members of the Parliament.
I said earlier I did not intend to go into the merits or demerits of either of the sites. The reason I have changed the motion so that it reads as it does is to try to resolve the situation. It is most unlikely that we will get a result by a unanimous decision of both Houses. This is a matter that should be decided by the members of the Parliament and not the Executive. Any failure by members of Parliament to resolve the problem will be a transference of the responsibility to the Executive. We can resolve the question only by all of the members of Parliament meeting together, discussing the question fully and reaching a decision. The motion I have moved meets the requirements of solving the problem. I have not canvassed the merits of the sites. I hope that the House will pass the motion in the form in which it appears because it calls for action which will resolve the question. I hope the House can move quickly to a vote on this question so that we can proceed with the business of resolving the location of the new and permanent parliament house. I repeat what I said earlier: Whilst it is an Executive decision whether we proceed or when any construction is proceeded with, the House has a right to express an opinion that it believes that planning should commence immediately.
-Order! Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. I agree with the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) that it is time to make a decision on this matter. Five or six years ago we had some lengthy, fruitful and, one might say, enjoyable debates on this subject.
I believe that it was the first time any parliament actually considered its own structure and its own working place in such a thorough way. What we have to do now is pick up the bits of that which resulted from a decision by the Executive of the time because there was disagreement between or a different decision reached by the 2 Houses. When the right honourable the member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) was Prime Minister he agreed that the decisions to be made about the new permanent parliament house - its size and its site - would be a matter for parliamentarians, free from any party considerations. He made a good contribution to the way the Parliament works and to the possibility of a good decision being reached. However, when we arrived at a situation where the House of Representatives had made one decision and the Senate had made another, the Executive made the decision. I think that was quite wrong. At that stage we should have come to some sort of agreement about a joint sitting of both Houses or a counting of votes. We should have proceeded on that basis because the Parliament is simply a collection of 185 individuals.
The motion is important. First, it brings to light the immediacy - it does not necessarily commit us to either site or any consideration of sites- of having a joint sitting with the Senate to decide the matter. This House is not in a position to decide the site now. A large number of new members in this Parliament have not had all the facts placed before them, have not had the matter raised with them and have not considered it in the way it was originally considered. We originally arrived at various decisions but a great deal of consideration went into them. There were long series of debates, a committee was appointed and it presented reports. Today we should encourage our new members to examine the matter thoroughly. Therefore, I hope we will vote for the motion no matter what amendments may be forthcoming. The necessity for decision is apparent to everyone. This parliamentary building is outmoded and inadequate. This is a situation in which most parliaments of the world find themselves. It was part of my duty a few years ago to travel the world to look at parliament houses. Nearly every parliament house was inadequate in site, space and in design. Parliament is a different institution from any other. It needs to be designed around the life of parliament and parliamentarians. It is not a job for other people, except when they are called in to consider the brief. I do not believe, for instance, that we ought to bother about financial considerations. I think they are secondary. In this instance we will be building forever. The Parliaments of Westminster and elsewhere have been used for centuries. When we make a decision we will not alter it. In 20 years or 50 years time it will be no good saying that we were a bit short of loose change back in 1973 - and, of course, we are not. Therefore, I believe we should make the decision on the merits of the case. That is the important situation. I do not believe that the idea of a staged development with separate buildings being based upon this one will work.
One of the inadequate features of many of the Parliaments I looked at was the isolation of members in their working place from the chambers in which the Parliament itself assembled. One of the great disadvantages of this building in some ways is the long distance to various parts of it for those who must work in it. For instance, when I first became a member of this Parliament my office was over on the far side of the Senate. I rarely used that room because it was too far from where the action was and I do not believe that we will find any solution to the problem of members’ accommodation or anything of that sort by putting up a separate building anywhere else and having members use that for part of their duties.
I have looked at the situation around the world. In Kuala Lumpur, as far as 1 could tell when I looked at it, the tower block was hardly used. I saw the situation in Bonn and the extraordinary difficulties which were created in Washington, and so on. So, what we must do is make a decision on the completed edifice. There is no reason why in Australia we ought not to do that.- We are speaking about the most significant representative institution in this country. I believe it is one of the most significant representative institutions in the world because of the very structure of our system which is basically democratic and representative of all the citizens and yet which stands in a community which is generally concerned with Presidents, royalties and everybody else. It is one of the features of our system that the Parliament is becoming increasingly significant as a national symbol. Back in the days of Burley Griffin, early in the design of Canberra, a national symbol and the Parliament were thought of as one and the same whereas, I think, if we look at Burley Griffin’s reports, we will see that he spoke of having a national symbol on Capital Hill and the Parliament on Camp Hill, or something of that nature.
The Parliament has increasingly become the symbol of the national aspiration of our government. When people visit Washington they go to look at the White House but they visit the Congress. It is the same in London. They look at Buckingham Palace but they visit the Houses of Parliament. So, we are speaking about a matter of some national significance. I do not think that this is a decision which ought to be made today but I believe that Capital Hill is the logical, central place for the site of Parliament House. There arc charms associated with the other sites. It is one of Australia’s great good fortunes - or perhaps it is our misfortune - to have an embarrassment of choice. Most parts of the world would be happy to have any one of the 3 sites under consideration - the lakeside, Camp Hill or Capital Hill.
But let us take a look at the situation here. I am convinced that accessibility and space available are the 2 most important factors in any major public building. Capital Hill sits inside 2 roads. I think that the inner one was an error but that does not necessarily circumscribe the employment of the site. Inside the inner ring road, I believe, there is an area of 85 acres or thereabouts and inside State Circle, there are about 130 acres or thereabouts. On Camp Hill, the area is much less, The figures escape me at the moment but it is occupied by a couple of other buildings. But on the question of accessibility, every road in this town leads to the Capital Hill area and this is going to bc fundamental to the visiting of the building - and there are going to be countless thousands of people visiting it. Millions of people pour into Washington every year and one must consider this as one of the fundamental aspects of the issue. If we built it anywhere else, we would bc stymied on that count.
I believe there are such matters as parking to be considered. It is easier to put a parking area under a hill than to dig into the ground around it. One of the worst features of Canberra at the moment are the great areas of shining motor car tops on sheets of asphalt in the parking places around the National Library, the Administrative Building, the Treasury and so on and it seems to me that Capital Hill in this instance offers all the advantages that one needs. I think that aesthetically and in every other way it has great advantages.
One of the considerations that must be taken into account is what happens to the present building. There are those who say that it is inadequate, that it is old, that it is too much trouble to keep and that it ought to be knocked down. I am not one of those and I do not believe that the country would get round to knocking it down. I agree with the comments of, I think, the late Robin Boyd when he said that this building had a charm and a unique and simple character about it. It also has a great deal of internal capacity to be used. But at the moment I believe that is a minor consideration. One of the points that was put to us on the Standing Committee years ago was that, if we put the new parliament house in the centre of Camp Hill, we would develop a controlled environment.
– Hear, hear!
– I should think that my political opponents - I had better keep politics out of this - would talk about control. But in fact, Australia is not a controlled environment; this country is one of the limitless environments. 1 believe that that is a very important philosophical consideration. It is not a question of putting Parliament House on a hill. We can build buildings as high as we like, but the central point of Canberra’s design and planning is on the Capital Hill area. The central place in Canberra is Parliament House. Shift Parliament House and Canberra becomes just another large country town. Therefore, I believe that first of all wc should take the step that this matter be thoroughly considered by the Parliament, that it be considered immediately and that we discuss it in consultation with the Senate so that when we have the decision it will be no good those of us who have taken one view or the other complaining about the decision. That is not the way it goes. We are all equal on this.
The decision we make should be a final one. The nation is going to expand and the demands of the Parliament are going to expand. During the course of the last 7 or 8 years and certainly since I entered this Parliament the demands of the institution have increased so much that space is going to be extraordinarily important. We are speaking about a building which is to be twice the size of the National Library. I think the National Library is about 450,000 square feet and the Parliament House as specified in the report that we drew up would be close to one million square feet. I do not know how we will work out the costs of this; I do not know that it is significant. The National Library cost about S8m. But one of the singular features of Australian public life has been the incapacity of public authorities to take the long range, permanent view and that is what we must do in this situation. We have to plan for all time and I do not think that there should be any other consideration whatsoever but what is the best building in the best place. That will be determined only when this Parliament - and, largely, it has a new membership - turns its mind to the subject collectively and as thoroughly as possible.
Therefore, today, I think we should be grateful to the honourable member for Corio for initiating this debate and to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) for the thoughts he circulated on this matter. But there are other thoughts that need to be circulated, apart from those that were compiled in his document. We cannot adopt expedients. We have to go for the real thing. Therefore, today, I hope that this House will vote for the motion and that we will take up the question in a thoroughgoing way. This is the kind of Parliament which must set standards in its aesthetics, its location and its style. My examination of the situation shows that no parliament house so far anywhere has been actually built to be a parliamentary building. Kuala Lumpur was designed by an architect. It looks good on a postcard but it is not all that good as a parliamentary building.
– It is better than this one.
– It is better than this one in some functions but most of the members are much further from the chamber than we are in this building. I am one of those who thinks that the consideration of the relationship between the chambers and the members’ space is the fundamental question of the internal design. The report that we brought down, of course, simply sets out the necessary space. I do not know whether it is adequate for members as of now. Of course, the same situation applies in Delhi. The building looks good but it is inadequate. We find that in Ottawa they have run into the same problems and that even in Washington, where they had about 130 acres set aside, they are finding that space inadequate. Somewhere in the archives in my office I can find all the information, all the cables and telegrams and so on relating to the vigorous competition that we had in a friendly way about this situation some years ago.
I hope that we adopt in the first instance the motion that is before the House and that we proceed to get all the information necessary so that every member of this Parliament, new ones and old ones, can do a re-think. I am confident that, no matter where we put it, it will be the most significant public building in Australia, but I am confident from my own experience and all the study I have done on the matter that there ought to be no consideration of expedience or finance. We will be building for all time and we should build to standards satisfactory to a modern parliament, setting a standard for other people in its location, its internal arrangements and the way in which it conducts its affairs. This debate, of course, is part of the method of conducting those affairs.
– I would like to join with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) in complimenting the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) in bringing this very important matter before the House today. There are one or two aspects that concern me. One is the use of the word forthwith’ in sub-paragraph (a) of the motion. I have in mind the fact that we have in this Parliament today many new members on both sides of the chamber who are not familiar with all the arguments, all the pros and cons, in relation to the projected sites, one of course being Capital Hill and the other Camp Hill. There was an earlier suggested site that we debated at great length, and that was the lakeside site. I would hate to see a decision made forthwith by a body of members, some of whom are not fully informed on all the various aspects and all the arguments in favour of the various sites.
I speak on this matter with some feeling as one who had the privilege to serve for 5 years on the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House and like the Minister. I was fortunate to be one of the delegation chosen to go overseas to inspect parliament buildings in other countries. We learnt a great deal from that exercise. I am most anxious that we do not make any mistake. This is a matter of national significance. While it is very important that we treat it, as the honourable member for Corio said, with some degree of urgency, I would not like to see us rush into a decision without taking full account of all the various aspects that are involved. I say again that I have in mind particularly the new members of the Parliament who do not have the advantage that we older members have had, having been through this exercise in other years.
Generally the concept as outlined by the honourable member for Corio, I believe, deserves our support. I have done a little collating for the purpose of trying to put in a few words in a few minutes some of the main arguments in favour of Camp Hill and some of the main arguments in relation to Capital Hill. I must say that when I started thinking about this I was basing my thoughts on the wording of the motion as originally put forward and as it has been standing on the notice paper since last May in the name of the honourable member for Corio. At the beginning of the concept of Canberra Walter Burley Griffin had some definite views about the siting of the permanent parliament house. He said:
I am emphatically of the opinion that the permanent structure should be on Camp Hill. I consider that to have been one of the earliest decisions, on which everything else was shaped.
In another passage he said in relation to Capital Hill that he considered it too large and too high for a convenient working organisation of Parliament. It is equally true that he opposed most strenuously the building of the present provisional Parliament House on the site on which it stands. In the light of events he was obviously perfectly right in his forethought. He said that the building of a provisional parliament house on this site would tend to preclude a proper decision in relation to the building of a permanent parliament building on this site, in other words, on the Camp Hill site, which, as he said quite clearly, was the focal point, the starting point from which he drew and planned the whole design of Canberra. It is worth recording that in very few and only in minor instances have Griffin’s original plans been departed from over the years in the development of Canberra. I would think it a very great pity indeed if we departed from his scheme, which was well thought out and which was selected after a world-wide competition, simply because we are not so fully informed of the facts as we ought to be.
During the course of the years 1965-1970 when the Joint Select Committee was very active we were all very enthusiastic and we all became extremely interested and very involved indeed in this whole subject and made a great study of it. It was quite clear from the witnesses who appeared before us that the Camp Hill site was regarded as the apex of the parliamentary triangle and was clearly preferred by the great majority of the very eminent and highly qualified professional men who gave evidence before the Committee. A point that has been made many times is that it would be easier and cheaper to construct a first rate quality building on Camp Hill capable of continuing expansion than would be the case on Capital Hill, where there would “be far more architectural problems. I am not saying, and the evidence did not suggest it, that it was entirely impossible to build a satisfactory structure on Capital Hill. I merely say that the tremendous weight of evidence was in favour of building the permanent parliament house on Camp Hill. Camp Hill has the advantage of the symbolism of association and yet at the same time it is sufficiently prominent to provide a site for the major building in the national capital which, of course, is and always will be the Parliament building, because that is why Canberra exists.
In considering this whole subject there are 3 very important considerations that I think we all must have in mind. One is the functional aspect, having regard particularly to the fact that we are so cramped in this present building. As the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs said, we were advised everywhere we went overseas to think big, to project our minds as many decades as we could into the future and then add more. This was the general advice given to us overseas. Then there is the functional aspect I mentioned. Of course we must pay regard to the aesthetic aspects and also the symbolic aspect. I quote a second significant passage from Griffin. Reporting on the Camp Hill site he said this:
The parliamentary edifice has thus a lofty setting stopping the long axis of the reservoir, crowned by the lofty Capital Hill-
It was originally known as Kurrajong Hill- behind it, and supported on the flanks by the lower departmental buildings.
Speaking of the Capital Hill site, this is what Griffin said on another occasion:
The fact that Parliament is in 1 Houses is an incident in addition to the topographical situation that precludes the making of that structure a focal feature.
Much play has been made in previous debates on the fact that Griffin spoke about this 2- chamber building that would need to be placed on Capital Hill, but he said clearly in the passage I have just quoted that he regarded this as only an incident, and it was mainly on topographical and other grounds that he made his decision in favour of Camp Hill. So substantially the whole of the expert advice that was given to the Committee over the S years that I mentioned was against the Capital Hill site and in favour of the Camp Hill site.
Travelling along Kings Avenue towards Capital Hill, it is clear to anyone who observes that Capital Hill is way out to the left of the parliamentary triangle. On the other hand when one is coming along Commonwealth Avenue it is way out to the right and it appears to be irrelevant to the parliamentary triangle. I think the parliamentary triangle is something we must keep in the foremost of our minds in debating and considering all the aspects of the matter. To me the vista is very important. The vista from Camp Hill clearly was the vista chosen by Walter Burley Griffin as the most suitable, the most spectacular and the most desirable. The parliamentary triangle and the lake form the setting for Parliament, as was pointed out in the feasibility study which was kindly circulated to members by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I greatly appreciated receiving his letter and also a copy of the feasibility study, which I have read most carefully and which I think represents a sound and practical approach to this big problem about which we are all concerned.
There is one thing on which we all agree and that is that the parliament house should be in a dominant position. That would be the case if it were on Camp Hill. It would also be in a dominant position - I would say a predominant position - if it were on Capital Hill. But it is the view of many experts that it should not be on a predominant site but rather on a dominant and readily accessible site, one which forms part of the parliamentary triangle and one from which there is this exquisite vista.
Much has been said in previous debates also about the desirability of providing a better building than this present one. All kinds of adjectives can and have been used to describe it. It is only a provisional building, lt is 46 years old. As we know, it was originally projected to have a life of only 50 years. It is true that externally it has quite a fine appearance but internally, as we all know and as one’ independent writer has described it, it is a rabbit warren. Much of it is obsolete. Conditions are cramped for members, the Executive, parliamentary staff, the Press and visitors in the galleries. More committee rooms are needed because committees have become and are becoming more and more an ancillary part of the parliamentary system. Some of the ancillary services unfortunately have to be housed elsewhere. This does not make for efficiency. In fact efficient work is inevitably impaired under the existing situation.
Other independent observers have described the existing accommodation as hopelessly inadequate. Those of us who have to work in the building, and that includes members of the staff, would agree with that description. It was brought home to us by expert witnesses before the Committee that the maintenance costs in relation to this old building are extremely heavy and that the magnitude of them is increasing year by year. There has been much damage, through water penetration, in the plumbing and electrical systems, and full air conditioning will soon be needed. I think it is generally agreed that extensions are only a temporary palliative; they are not a solution to the problem.
One point that has not been mentioned but which I think should be mentioned is that, as we all know, in this country we are in a position of inflation. It needs to be borne in mind that there would be no cash outlay involved in relation to a new and permanent parliamentary building, even if the decision were made this year, until 1976-77 and then it would not by any means be of major proportions. As I recall it, the figure put forward in the feasibility study was $6m over a period of 4 years dating from 1976-77 and by 1979, at the end of this decade, even if a decision were made today, we would have reached only the first stage of development of the new structure. If it were to mean a substantial capital outlay this year in an inflationary situation I do not think that any of us would be happy about making an early decision to go ahead with this plan. But the fact is - this needs to be brought home quite strongly - that no cash outlay will be involved in making a decision this year. As I said, it will not be until 3 or 4 years time when any major outlay will have to be made.
Having regard to all the circumstances, many of which have already been outlined by previous speakers and gone into and traversed time and again in previous debates in this Parliament, I believe that we should support the honourable member for Corio because there is a degree of urgency involved, as he says. I am not happy about the word forthwith’ if it means making a decision today or tomorrow. I think that the new members of Parliament must have time to consider thoroughly the pros and cons of the alternative sites. I have a firm conviction in my mind that Camp Hill is the best site. That is related to the expert evidence given to the Committee in which it was stated that that is the focal and central point from which Burley Griffin himself began the design of Canberra. I believe that the Government should call for designs. It should have a nationwide competition. The matter has been shelved for far to long. In the past there have been differences between the Senate and this House. I think that the suggestion put forward by the honourable member for Corio in relation to a joint sitting is a sensible and constructive approach. We have plenty of talent in Australia; let us use it in the design of a new parliament house.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I move:
That all words after ‘That’ (first occurring) be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof:
a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be convened to determine the matter by a majority of Senators and Members present at that meeting.
The difference between my approach to the new and permanent parliament house and that of the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) is not just a question of where it is to be situated. The honourable member for Corio wants the site to be Capital Hill. Until late last night that is what his motion said. He changed his tactical position because he thought that he would not acquire the numbers in this House and so he sought a joint sitting because he thought that people in another place could bolster his numbers in this House.
I am asking honourable members to support my amendment. If they support my amendment they will be accepting the principle that every member, whether he is a member of the Senate or a member of the House of Representatives, can express his view. But members of this House who support my amendment will show clearly that they support the concept of the Camp Hill site. I am not trying to railroad honourable members. In fact, before the winter recess I asked the honourable member for Corio to defer the motion so that I could inform honourable members of certain available details. I sent them a brochure in detailed form. I believe that the decision of this Parliament to locate the new parliament house anywhere other than on Camp Hill will result in Australia not having a -worthy parliament house until the end of this century.
Honourable members know what our conditions are like now. All honourable members should have research staff and extra secretarial staff but there is not sufficient accommodation in this building to house those people now let alone in the year 2000. We cannot afford to approach this question of a new parliament house other than in a spirit of idealism tempered by practical common sense. I believe that the practical commonsense view of building a new parliament house is that outlined in my letter to all members of this Parliament and outlined in the brochure prepared by the National Capital Development Commission that accompanied that letter. One of the first actions I took as the Minister responsible for the National Capital Development Commission was to seek detailed information for all members of Parliament. My letter and the brochure were the outcome of that action.
Let me summarise briefly the argument I put forward to senators and members. Firstly, the building we are in today is worn out and outdated. It was constructed in 1927 as a temporary building and those who built it expected it to last for not much longer than 25 years. Over the last 10 years a series of expedient and inefficient alterations have been carried out at a cost of $3. 7m. I seek leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard the details of this expenditure which were taken from an answer to a question which was placed on notice by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson).
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank the House. I will not give all the figures relating to the expenditure, but I want to stress the expenditure in the last 4 years alone. In 1969-70 it was just under $100,000, in 1970-71 it was in excess of $250,000, in 1971-72 it was nearly $lm and in 1972-73 it was $4. 3m, That is the huge expenditure that has been incurred on carrying out alterations and maintenance and making additions to this House. Despite these constant facelifts the building is hopelessly inadequate for any of us properly to perform our tasks on behalf of the people of Australia. In view of the recent change of government, both sides of this ‘House now appreciate the impossible working conditions for both private members and Ministers and their staff. The staff of the Parliament itself is not better served. Indeed, I cannot conceive of any department or private company expecting its executives and staff to work efficiently under the conditions imposed by this outdated and inefficient building, and I am speaking of the position as it is today, not as it will be by the year 2000.
Secondly, a joint select committee reported in 1970 on the requirements for a new building. This report is a detailed one and provides an excellent basis with which to gauge the scale of a new parliament house. It is obvious that if we are to embark upon the building of a new and permanent parliament house, on current prices the cost will be not less than $75m, and I stress that figure. But I estimate that the building would not be completed before the end of the century and the huge expenditure to which I have referred is based on current prices. I consider that it would be financially irresponsible on the part of any government to commit expenditure of this magnitude for the construction of a building which could not be used until almost the last dollar had been spent on it.
I find it difficult to believe that there will ever be a time when the needs of the electorate will allow the Government to commit such a large capital outlay on a building which will not be used either by that Government or by a number of its successors. If we are to experience a major improvement in working conditions in Parliament House in the lifetime of many of us here today, I believe that the construction of the new and permanent parliament house must be staged. We must make decisions this year. In the event of a recommendation being made by both Houses of the Parliament, I will make a submission to Cabinet by December of this year recommending that the planning and design of a new and permanent parliament house be commenced forthwith. I will be submitting that the design of the new parliament house should be the subject of a 2-stage national architectural competition. We must involve our best architects in this national project. We must give our architects the opportunity to design what will be an outstanding building.
In my letter to senators and members I have suggested that the first stage of the building could be built for a sum of about $24m - an annual Budget provision of $6m over 4 years. This first stage would provide new office accommodation for senators and members and the Executive as well as new refreshment and amenity rooms and bookstack accommodation for the Parliamentary Library. If we act now this will be available by the end of 1979. In fact, we will have better accommodation within our time. If members accept my argument that a new parliament house will be built only if it is built in stages, then I believe that members will agree with me that the only practical site of the 3 proposed is Camp Hill.
Capital Hill is half a mile from the present building. The lakeside site is about the same distance. A parliament house built at either of these 2 distant points would require the virtual completion of the new building before those who come after us would be able to pack up their books and papers and move in. A parliament house built on Camp Hill in stages would allow the blending in of the old with the new. The design would allow for the old building to continue being used until the final stage of the new building was completed and a decision was made by some future group of members and senators to remove the old building. The new building on Camp Hill will give those who come after us flexibility in making future decisions about the present building. I do not want to speak at any great length, and for the short time available I want to mention the qualities of the Camp Hill site, apart from its practical advantages. Camp Hill was the original site selected by Walter Burley Griffin.
Although the Camp Hill site has only 60 acres as against the Capital Hill site of 85 acres, there is more than enough room on Camp Hill for all the uses required. Many of the characteristics of the Capital Hill site are to be found at the Camp Hill site. Some people feel that Capital Hill is a symbol, and in the previous debate I went along with this view. I want to stress to honourable members that in the previous debate I supported the concept of building the new parliament house on Capital Hill. It is only because of my responsibilities and the detailed examination that I have made of the practical application to improve the conditions of workers and members in this House that I have come firmly to the decision to support the concept of building the new parliament house on Camp Hill. However, I feel that this is not the time for dominant symbols. Already the Postmaster-General’s Department has proposed a dominant symbol on Black Mountain which does not please me at all. It is time that we considered the involvement of people.
Unlike Capital Hill, the Camp Hill site has a large square in which people could assemble, and everybody knows that I like participation by the people; I like to see people participating and assembling before our Parliament. In the brochure that I sent to senators and members there is a diagram which shows the relationship of this square to a new parliament house on Camp Hill, and to the Library, the Art Gallery, the High Court and Government buildings. We want to be able to invite people to express their views in the parliamentary square. I feel that Camp Hill allows this expansiveness as much as, if not more than, the Capital Hill site. Like Capital Hill, it gives us an uninterrupted view across the lake to the War Memorial and to Mount Ainslie. It gives an expansiveness and the feeling that we are not closed in; that in fact this is the capital and we are the Parliament representing a large and great nation. This is the feeling that I think we should have. Both the Capital Hill site and the Camp Hill site equally allow for this concept.
Frankly, I think that Camp Hill is a fine site. To those of my colleagues who still want to adhere to .the Capital Hill site, I believe that what I am suggesting is a fair compromise and is the only common sense answer to the problems that we have here in Canberra. I was a back bencher of the Opposition for 15 years and know better than many present Opposition back benchers the difficult conditions experienced in this House. Honourable members opposite who were Ministers in the previous Government understand such working conditions but we all know that sometimes the work has to be done in those circumstances. This is not a partisan motion. I want to improve the conditions of all parliamentarians and the performance- of Parliament as a whole. I ask my colleagues here and in another place to endorse the Camp Hill site so that we may get on with planning and designing a new Australian parliament house. I ask for support of my amendment and opposition to the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio.
– The siting of the new parliament house has a somewhat torrid history. It is a subject matter that has led to in depth studies by responsible authorities outside Parliament and by a select committee of this Parliament followed by lengthy debates in this House and the Senate. During the last debate on this matter I was Minister for the Interior and carried the responsibility for the Australian Capital Territory and the National Capital Development Commission. I was also a member of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. Some honourable members will recall that in 1958 the government of the day decided that a new parliament house should be built on the site known as the lakeside site. This site had been confirmed by Lord Holford, a very distinguished British architect and planner who was commissioned by the NCDC. It should be understood that Lord Holford was constrained in his judgment because of his understanding that the site at Camp Hill was unavailable as building methods in those days could not cope with the present Parliament House, thought then to be too valuable for demolition.
In the debate of 17 October 1968 on the siting, this House rejected the lakeside site but accepted a motion I put forward recommending a fresh feasibility study to be made of the original Walter Burley Griffin site right here at Camp Hill. The Joint Parliamentary Committee was set up, took detailed evidence from a variety of sources and some members made trips around the world looking at other parliaments. The report was tabled on 30 April 1969 and debated on 13 May 1969. The report found in favour of the Camp Hill site and when the matter was debated that site was confirmed by this House in a vote of 53 to 49. This vote was not supported by the Senate. Since that time there have been 2 general elections and a great number of new members have come into the House. In fact, of the present 125 members only 54 were in the House at that time.
I hope that the new members will be given full opportunity to seek out the relevant facts on this issue before voting. The difficulty I found previously was that emotion had tended to colour judgments put forward by some speakers in the previous debates. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has temporarily withdrawn from the chamber. I would like him to make sure that a proper education program is instituted, with all the relevant facts being put together in a committee room so that all new members will have the same opportunity to discover the facts as we had on previous occasions. Otherwise it will be impossible for new members to make the judgment that is required and desired of them on this very important matter. The Minister has now returned to the chamber. Will you set up all the relevant information in a committee room for new members to examine? I have just said to the House that only 54 of the present members were in the House at the time of the previous debates.
– You are supposed to be talking to the Chair.
– I will address myself to Mr Deputy Speaker, if you wish, and follow the correct procedures. The honourable member is new but he is not doing too badly. I hope he does as well in making himself as familiar with the information about the new parliament house site as he is with Standing Orders. For some reason or other there seems to be a simple appeal in building on the highest point available and totally dominating the scene and area around. It was proved conclusively in the evidence tendered to the Joint Committee that in pure aesthetic and architectural terms Camp Hill has more attraction than Capital Hill.
But let me start at the beginning. Walter Burley Griffin reported to the Minister for Home Affairs in October 1913 on this subject. I have here a copy of the report. It contains a plan for Canberra and a site for Parliament House. Some confusion ensued in the years following the Burley Griffin plan through the use of the name Kurrajong for Capital Hill and Canberra Hill for what is now Camp Hill. However, it is perfectly clear from Griffin’s papers that he had an entirely different use in prospect for Capital Hill. He pointed out:
Kurrajong . . . being the only conspicuous internal eminence that has a skyline visible from practically every portion of the city, lends itself to an architectural treatment that need comprise little more than the necessary ramps, stairs and terraces for outlook to make it by its natural bulk the dominating architectural feature.
Walter Burley Griffin proposed building on this hill a structure for popular reception and ceremonial or for housing archives and commemorating Australian achievements rather than for deliberation or counsel. He did not come to this decision without considering the possibility of placing the House of Parliament on this hill. His final words in rejecting the Kurrajong or Capital Hill site were:
Kurrajong is deemed too large and too high for a convenient working organisation of Parliament.
In his view representative government is properly stationed in a capital in an accessible but still quiet area. I submit that these considerations are still today the overriding ones. In recommending Camp Hill as the site for the parliament building he stated that the fact that Parliament is in 2 Houses is an incident in addition to the topographical situation that precludes making of that structure a focal feature. He pointed out that Camp Hill provided sufficient foreground to set off the parliament house. One of the points that concerned members in the previous debate was the area available for use by Parliament on the 2 sites of Capital Hill and Camp Hill. The area of Capital Hill contains within State Circle 135 acres and within the ring road and the commemoration gardens an extra 25 acres, or a total of 160 acres. Camp Hill between King George Terrace and Queen Victoria Terrace contains 34 acres; between Queen Victoria Terrace and State Circle 31 acres; and between State Circle and the continuation of the avenues to the summit of Camp Hill plus the commemoration gardens another 85 acres, or a total of 150 acres. So there is little difference in area available on the 2 sites.
It is quite clear that Camp Hill has more than a satisfactory area by any international comparison. One impressive factor is that Camp Hill, where we are now, is equidistant between Lake Burfey Griffin and Capital Hill. From the front steps of this building the sweep down to the lake and across to the war memorial is in almost perfect perspective. From Capital Hill taking the same view the perspective is totally lost by distance; rather one becomes conscious only of half a dozen major roads with thousands of moving motor cars and trucks sweeping to and from State Circle. I suggest that no finer view can be obtained from any parliamentary building in the world than from the front steps of this Parliament House, by day or night. The opportunity is available to build a new parliament by the means suggested by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. It is the only practical means of overcoming the problems facing this Parliament. I suggest that no government could or would find the money to build a new parliament house in one go, which is what would be required if the Capital Hill site were used. The proposal made by the Minister is a rational, practical way of meeting a need that is becoming more and more urgent as each year goes by. Let this House confirm once again the site that was chosen by Burley Griffin, thereby maintaining the integrity of the Burley Griffin plan, and let us get on with the job. The Minister has moved an amendment to the original motion which was moved by the honourable member for Corio. I support the amendment.
– The Ministry of Housing does not have responsibility for the housing of parliamentarians, although I would not mind if it did. What I would like to do today is to join my colleagues the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) and the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) and to make up a troika, if you like - although some would prefer to call it a trinity - of ministerial backing and support for the point of view put very capably by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development not just in the House today by way of a competent speech but also in his very informative and stimulating document entitled ‘New and Permanent Parliament House Feasibility Study’ which has been circulated.
It seems to me that what the Minister has put forward represents the very antithesis of inaction, complacency, lack of initiative and the atmosphere which has prevailed in the past and which is characteristic of perpetual procrastination. I can sense on both sides of the House today a feeling of impatience and a need to face the facts of life as they stand and as they are emerging and evolving. It is apparent that we need a new parliament house and it is apparent that a decision needs to be taken very early. I am not here to disparage the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who is a catalytic member in this contemporary situation, but I am slightly at variance with him in the sense that I uphold and emphasise the characteristics of the amendment which my colleague the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has put forward because he is saying that action should be taken forthwith to initiate the planning, the design and so on. He has said that the design should encompass the total building complex but should permit staged construction and that the new building should be on Camp Hill. I support that proposal for the reasons put forward by the preceding speaker, the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) and others and for reasons that I will enunciate.
I, of course, stand firmly for the proposition put by the Minister that there ought to be a coming together of the 2 Houses of Parliament; that there ought to be a joint meeting and it ought to take place very quickly. It would be very nice to hope that we could take a vote today to facilitate that bringing together of the 2 Houses of Parliament, because what we are dealing with represents a crisis in the history of this country. We are working in a disaster area. We will get disastrous results if we go on working in the way we have been working. This parliamentary institution could easily break down. It is already suffering quite severely from the inadequate provisions of the Parliament. Moreover, members of the public themselves are deprived of the democratic participating opportunities which properly ought to characterise our approach to governmental affairs.
In another context I can put my view that the way we run this place is crazy in the sense that one speaker stands up to speak and the rest of the human resources in this place are rendered almost ineffective and inactive. It seems to me that we will evolve in such a way that we will have concurrent committees working in a number of buildings around the Parliament. We do not even have adequate committee rooms of small sizes to enable the democratic participation of parliamentarians to take place, let alone substantial meeting places.
There are so many reasons why one can feel enthusiastic about this matter. One of the virtues of utilising the Camp Hill site, which as all honourable members know but the public at large may not know is the site immediately behind this Parliament House - the King O’Malley site and I think, the area where the King O’Malley memorial is located - as against the Capital Hill site is that Capital Hill will be left with all its environmental virtues, its softness and its greenness which Canberra deserves. In the face of the raging controversy about the utilisation of Black Mountain for telecommunications purposes, it could be regarded as some placation for the environmentalists, the conservationists and the people who are concerned with ecology. By utilising Camp Hill, we could preserve the great Capital Hill site as a soft, green area encompassed by the ring road. For that reason and for a number of other reasons, I am extremely enthusiastic about the proposal to use Camp Hill.
One of my colleagues has talked about the maintenance costs for this building. At present the costs are running at $120,000 a year. We have heard from several honourable members about plumbing breakdowns and electricity failures and all sorts of things being in need of replacement. The airconditioning in this building is limited to the most recent additions to it. We all know the degrading things that happen to this Parliament House. Take the leaking roof. We have had great gala occasions in this place with Royalty in attendance, and the attendants have been rushing around with buckets and poking them under rainwater dripping from the roof. There are cramped galleries that people cannot get into. It is no wonder that we get such a distorted account of parliamentary proceedings when members of the Press are required to operate in what may be called rat holes. Their quarters are inadequate. These are the people who have the job of communicating to the country at large the activities of the Parliament. They cannot do their work in this inadequate situation. Take a look at the cosmetic surgery that has been done on this building and the patching-up program. How many more ad hoc additions at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars are going to take place? We have recently had another addition to the building to accommodate the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and other members of the Ministry. Some Ministers are working with their staff in office accommodation which would not do justice to a fifth grade estate agent.
The whole situation is superseded by facilities provided in some of the State parliaments. For example, the State Parliament in Western Australia makes this place look like a barn. The prestige of this Parliament is being sent down the drain. If honourable members walk along the lino covered corridors of the House of Representatives they almost go through the rat ridden floors. 1 think the termite people were called in some years ago. The floor moves underneath you when you walk on it. One of our parliamentary heavies one day will go right through the flooring. There is not much need to talk about the inadequate dining facilities and parking facilities. lt is a fact that there are no proper interviewing rooms. There is no proper place for people to assemble. We are in an area where we have to accept the democratisation processes which are sweeping the world. Once upon a time we looked quite glumly at the prospect of a group of people coming to Parliament House, but now all of us know that this is essential and that the voice of the people has to ring out. Even in the report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and
Permanent Parliament House which was submitted in March 1970 - an excellent report - there is the contention that we should make provision for the demonstrator to get right into the heart of the Parliament and to have access to parliamentarians. I believe that sort of thing is overdue and the country will suffer unless we do something about this in the near future.
I like the Camp Hill site, which the Minister for Urban and Regional Development is advocating, because its facilitates the gradual transformation of all these inadequate things I have talked about. There is no cutting off point. The Minister has proposed that we should start off at the back of this building with a bridge across the road. The walking time from that area would be similar to the time taken by the Prime Minister to walk the distance he has had to walk in response to division bells, for example, until recent times. He has now shifted his office into the new accommodation. If the Prime Minister can do it, we can do it. In a short time all honourable members could move into adequate accommodation using this chamber, the Senate chamber, Kings Hall and the other facilities until the phasing-in program is completed. I especially like the idea of moving to Camp Hill because it will make available this large piece of land which eventually will encompass the site upon which this building is located. It will preserve the historical significance of the site.
It is interesting to note that the square in front of the Parliament in Washington is 20i acres. In Ottawa it is 7i acres and in Singapore it is 14 acres. In the event of the utilisation of Camp Hill, 55 acres will be available between the new parliament house and Lake Burley Griffin. I think the proposal has a great deal to commend it. Of course, overriding everything is the Burley Griffin concept to which reference has been made. The fact of the matter is that in this preeminent triangle we will achieve a form of development which will accompany things of national significance - the National Parliament, the seat of the Australian Government, the National Library and the National Gallery. These will all be in the precincts of the location of significant policy making instrumentalities, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs building - which is across the road - and the Treasury building. All this adds up to something which represents an exciting concept. I believe it is time for us to grasp the nettle. I hope today will send us in the direction of positive achievement.
The Minister for Urban and Regional Developoment, in moving his amendment, told us that if we start now the processes of calling for design competition entries and the like, it will result in the whole project being fulfilled over a decade. Ten years from now we can expect to have a new parliament house. Construction ought to be started in June 1977. That is far enough away but it will take all that time to begin construction, even if we commence right now. By June 1979 we could have the substantial area of expectation fulfilled. Paragraph 4, page 7, of the Report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, states:
Parliament House as a Symbol.
Canberra exists as the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth. The very nature of the role of the ‘Parliament in Government in Australia demands that it be housed in a structure of pre-eminence in the National Capital. The new and permanent Parliament House must be a monumental and prestige building, standing as an impressive symbol of Australia’s unity and proudly reflecting the Nation’s progress and its faith in a democratic way of life.
No one can have faith in a democratic way of life or in the parliamentary institution if in the face of all our contentions and declared desire to achieve a new parliament house we lack of competency to agree and take a decision. I believe that the Parliament on the occasion of this historical debate is faced with a challenge. I hope the new Government will show even more initiative than predecessor governments and that in the near future we will take a decision, sweeping aside the barriers of party politics and sweeping aside the barriers of the upper and lower Houses and all the rest of it. We should recognise that the needs of the country are such that we have to get this institution in working order with all the benefits and aids that are represented by a new parliamentary building.
If one looks at the space which members are to have in terms of office accommodation, facilities and so on as suggested in the excellent report given by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, one will see how the present situation compares with what is needed and one will realise that the job is an urgent one. I hope that a decision will be taken today so that the building of the new parliament house can begin as quickly as possible.
– I join the debate to support the question that is before the Chair at the moment. I am rather surprised that so much of the time of this debate should be taken up with talking about the location of the proposed new parliament house. It seems to me that that is not the question that this Parliament ought to be considering at the moment. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) seemed to indicate that my colleague the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) changed his motion at the last moment because he did not believe that the numbers existed in the House of Representatives in favour of Capital Hill, whereas at a joint meeting of Parliament there might be a sufficient number in agreement with that proposal. I am most surprised that the Minister should make that comment about my colleague. The Minister acknowledged in his amendment that this matter will be determined by a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is because of that fact that i am disappointed that the debate today should have devolved around the site. I would have expected the proposition put to this 1House by my colleague the honourable member for Corio to be debated in its context. The motion recognises that the decision ultimately will be taken by the 2 Houses sitting together. That is recognised also by the amendment. If the Senate and the House of Representatives agree to the 2 Houses sitting together, we will listen then to the merits and demerits of Camp Hill, Capital Hill, a lake side site or even building an island in the middle of the lake - if somebody should come up with that sort of proposition.
One matter that has been overlooked, with the greatest of respect to my parliamentary colleagues who have been here much longer than I, is that when the Parliament carries a decision the decision remains until the Parliament changes it.
– That is right.
– The honourable member for Gippsland, who is seated at the table, says ‘that is right’. I would draw the honourable member’s mind back to a time when he was a member of Parliament and I was not. He would know that this chamber carried a proposition that the Parliament should be sited on Camp Hill. He would know further that the Senate, at approximately the same time, did not agree with that decision. The Senate’s idea was that the new parliament house should be located on Capital Hill. I respectfully put to the House that what has happened is that the ‘House of Representatives has taken a decision and that decision still stands. The Senate has taken a decision and that decision still stands. The 2 Houses are in conflict and therefore there is no decision. I would put it further to honourable members that the question ought to be resolved in the terms of the proposition put by the honourable member for Corio ‘and that the concurrence of the Senate ought to be sought for both Houses to sit conjointly so that the matter can be resolved. That having been done and a joint meeting convened, it would then be open for members to canvass their particular favoured locations - Capital Hill or Camp Hill - and in that way the matter will be resolved. If the question at present being considered is not carried but is negated in any way at all it seems that we will be right back to square 1. We have submitted to procrastination in the past and delayed any start on a new and permanent parliament house.
I doubt very much that any honourable member or any other person in the Commonwealth could say with any justification that the existing Parliament House - a temporary building constructed in 1927 - meets the needs of a very vigorous government and, I trust, a vigorous Parliament of 1973. As time goes on that position will worsen. Surely if the proposition now before us is negated there will be further procrastination. Again we would start with a roundabout of the Senate debating a measure carried by the House of Representatives and perhaps determining a different view from the House of Representatives. A joint meeting would then be convened and the matter would then be discussed again. I support the motion moved by my colleague the honourable member for Corio which proposes that corners, red-tape and procrastination be cut and that this House seek the concurrence of the Senate to sit jointly with it. The various adherents to the particular sites could canvass their opinions at that meeting which would be deliberative.
– This will start a family feud.
– 1 am sorry about that, cousin. I am sorry if I have upset my unrelated fellow-named honourable member for Hughes and Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson). I make a strong appeal to the House to bring this matter to a vote today. The House should determine that a vote be taken on the question today and not let the debate spill over to another time when, with the greatest of respect, we will be back on the merry-go-round and honourable members will be debating the merits or non-merits of particular sites. I have deliberately chosen not to mention a site during the time that I have spoken because the original proposition does not mention a site. All that the original proposition asks is for the House to make up its mind that the matter is urgent. It states:
That this House is of the opinion that:
I take ‘forthwith’ to mean as soon as is humanly possible. The motion continues:
planning for the new House should commence immediately.
If the House agrees with that proposition and it goes to the Senate and the Senate, at an early date, concurs in the opinion of the House of Representatives, surely we have cut the corners then; surely we have carved through the red tape; surely we have got to a position where with 1 85 of us sitting jointly a decision could be taken which ought to carry a lot of weight with the Government. Ultimately it has to be recognised that it is to be the Government’s decision as to where the site will be. But the Government is entitled to the best advice it can possibly get and surely the best advice available to the Government is the view of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The sheer duplication of this debate, as obviously will occur, is a factor towards procrastination in the whole matter. The inadequacies of this House are obvious. One feels almost ashamed when people from one’s electorate come to this House and after the business has been conducted they are taken around the place and it is shown to them. One must ask them not to step in certain places for fear that they will go through the floor because it is very unsafe in places. If on the top floor of the building and being of some bulk myself, I sometimes wonder how secure the building is.
The building is not only inadequate for those who have to work in it, but as I understand from expert advice, it is also structurally unsound. It has had something like $6m spent on it in most recent years and still has not been improved to any great extent to do the job which it is expected to do. So let us have no more discussion or argument about where the site ought to be. Let us be sincere about it. Let this House of Representatives in all sincerity say: ‘We want to get on with the job. We believe that there is a need for a new and permanent parliament house. We want to get on with the job, so therefore we want our friends and colleagues in the Senate to sit with us so that we can take a decision. We will canvas the locations at that meeting and then a decision will be made and we will be able to do what must be done’. But to take the matter through the debate on the site again in my view is only procrastination.
I am not sure that any future construction ought to be a staged construction. Obviously buildings are not built overnight. Nobody in our community can wave a magic wand and do that. It obviously will take some time to construct, but I believe that this Parliament would be dodging its responsibilities if it were to say: ‘We will put up a few corrugated iron sheds this year. That will placate the electorate. We will put up a few more the year after and that will placate it even more. If we did that we would be in no better position in 25 years from now than we are at present’.
Those honourable members who have lived in Melbourne will know that in 1945 a railway station made of corrugated iron was pulled down at Spencer Street. It was put there in 1915 as a temporary railway station. If that sort of attitude is to be adopted in building the new and permanent parliament house exactly the same sort of situation will be reached. The building does not have to be funded immediately. It could be funded over the planning period so that there would be considerable money available to build it when it was ready to be built without plundering the public purse. But the initial decision - I must come back to this - I believe and I hope, but I rather doubt, should be taken today, and that is that we get on, that we start, that we take a decision that we do need a new and permanent parliament house, that we call our colleagues in the Senate to sit with us, and that we take a decision at that meeting. At that meeting we may canvass the sites and come to a decision. Then it is up to the Government to act on that decision.
So I strongly urge members of the House of Representatives today to demand that this matter come to a vote. I demand that this matter should come to a vote today so that there should be no further spill-off where in this House we are considering sites, which at the moment is a premature action. We can save that debate until the 2 Houses sit together and a deliberative decision can be taken.
– The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) finished by urging in quite strong language that this matter should come to a vote today. As to that, it is in the hands of the Government whether it comes to a vote today and he may argue with his colleagues in the Government on the matter. If the Government does not bring it to a vote today I think that the Government is quite right because there are a number of people in this Parliament who want to express their views on this matter. There should be nobody in this place who is prevented from expressing a view by early closure of the debate. However, the honourable member can argue that with his Leader of the House (Mr Daly). I do not have to get involved in that.
I want to make it clear that I support the amendment and not the motion as it was moved. I also want to make it clear that supporting the amendment and not the motion cannot possibly have any effect on delaying the matter, as the honourable member for Burke has said. The motion calls for this House to vote in favour of a joint sitting. The amendment calls for this House to vote in favour of a joint sitting. There can be no delay as a result of voting for the amendment rather than voting for the motion as put forward originally. I support the amendment particularly because it does express an opinion of this House as to where this House believes the new parliament house should be sited. It gives this House an opportunity to do 2 things: First, to express its own opinion as to where the parliament house should be sited - I support the Camp Hill site, but that is a matter for each individual to decide - and at the same time it calls for the House to vote for a joint sitting for the matter to be discussed by both Houses. There cannot be any delay as a result of voting for the amendment as distinct from voting for the motion.
As a result of voting for the amendment there can be an opportunity for honourable members to express their views as this House individually has the right to express a view as to where it thinks the house should be sited.
I was surprised to hear statements made that there has been no positive planning done and that we do not have things before us and we ought to be getting along far more quickly. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has produced a brochure which serves 2 purposes. It provides for those who were not in the Parliament before and who have not studied this matter before, a great deal of educational material. It also sets out what is proposed to be done and how it is proposed to be done. With that made available to all honourable members. I do not see how an honourable member can get up in this place and suggest that no proposals have been put forward, no plans have been put forward and that we do not know where we are. There may be an objection taken by some honourable members to the particular plans in the brochure. But he cannot say that the brochure has not been produced and that it does not show the plans which this House can follow out if it agrees to the motion.
As for the construction of the new parliament house in stages on Camp Hill and the suggestion that edifices of this kind cannot be constructed in stages, I think that all I need to do is to point out that most of the big public buildings in Canberra have been or are being constructed in stages, including the National Library and the National Art Gallery. There is no indication that these buildings will be bad or unable to be proceeded with because they are being constructed in stages. There will be no reason that the new parliament house cannot be proceeded with merely because it is constructed in stages. I urge that when a vote is taken on this matter - that is a matter for the Government - the House should support the amendment because the arguments put forward by the previous speaker do not stand up to any intelligent analysis at all. The amendment gives the House, and each member in it, an opportunity not only to decide to call for a joint sitting but also to express an opinion where this House believes the new house should be sited. I believe that this House should have that opportunity and should take that opportunity before a joint sitting takes place. I merely conclude by saying once again that voting for the amendment, if it is passed, will have the effect of saying where we think the new parliament house should be built. Voting for the motion will call for a joint meeting. There cannot be any delay as a result of voting for the amendment rather than voting for the motion and, for the reasons I have given, I hope the House will vote for the amendment.
-! prefer the amendment to the motion. I think that the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) has made a point when he says - I think rightly - that there is no reason that a new parliament house cannot be constructed in stages. After all, it is not only buildings in Canberra that have been successfully built in stages. I think of most of the great buildings of the world - in Europe, Asia and the United Kingdom. Most of them - not all - whether they be cathedrals, palaces or colleges have, in fact, been built in stages. I am not keen about either the motion or the amendment because in my view the need for a new parliament house has been grossly exaggerated. I know that the present building is not adequate. There are some things to which every member is entitled and to which the Parliament as a whole is entitled. Every member is entitled to a separate room. I think that we all agree that the kitchens are quite inadequate, that the refreshments room facilities are inadequate and that there are not enough dining rooms. We lack perhaps a proper dining hall for ceremonial occasions. I think we all regret the fact that the Parliamentary Library is inadequate and that some sections of it - the statistical research section for example - are not located in this building at all. I know that the Press is inadequately housed and there is a natural resentment on the part of members of the Press for the lack of facilities which they endure.
Yet, having said all these things, this building is a building which can be extended. It does not need very much more to make it adequate and the talk that we have heard today about if falling down, leaking and so on, although there is some truth in some parts of it, is very much exaggerated and the defects could be made good. I feel that this building - not good enough in its present stage - can be made good enough and should stand and be adequate for some generations at least. It does have two advantages. ‘First, it has an historic connotation. I am one who believes that even these walls, which have been here since only 1927, have acquired some kind of aura of history. There is a tradition about this place already. Are we to scrap it entirely? The fact that it is here, that it is accepted and that it is probably the best known building in Australia are things which should not be lightly discarded, lt is easy to be grandiose and say: ‘We want to build something which will be memorable for all time’. If there were such a plan, if there were this upsurge, perhaps one could feel something for it.
Are we not, in considering this motion, in the position of people who are talking about spending a tremendous amount of money on a frame without having conceived the picture that is to go inside it. The frame is the parliament house - the facilities - but the Parliament is the members. The Parliament is the parliamentary tradition. The Parliament is the institution. I believe that we would lose something if we scrapped this building entirely, even though its historical roots only go back to 1927. It is still the building in which nearly all of the traditions of he Commonwealth of Australia as a Parliament have been made. Who . of us - certainly I do not - in Australia would think of the building in Melbourne, where until 1927 this Parliament met, as having any historical connection with the Commonwealth? The Commonwealth has become an entity. The Commonwealth in the last 30, 40 or SO years has come to mean something, and that meaning is attached to this building. I do not believe that we should lightly scrap it.
Secondly, and this is something which inclines me to prefer the amendment to the motion although I like neither of them, I believe that this is the best site in the whole of Canberra. It may be that it can be incorporated to some extent with the slope of Camp Hill behind, but this is not an opinion which I have held unreservedly. My opinion has perhaps changed in regard to it. But thinking it over this is, I think, the best site in Canberra. Elevation does not add dignity. The elevation of the hill takes away from scale and the building here on this site is occupying the strategic point in the whole of the concept. The view - as mentioned by an honourable member earlier in this debate - from the front steps, whether by day or night, is probably the best from any parliament house in the world. That view will not be improved by elevating on stilts or on a hill. The view itself is dependent to a large extent on the elevation being small.
I do not think we want to have too many pretensions about ourselves. An honourable member earlier in the debate - it was the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson), if I remember rightly - spoke of how we need research space and how we need to have people around us. I believe that there is some modicum of truth in this. As I have said, I believe that the Library facilities could be expanded, and could be expanded within the confines of this building. However, I do not believe in the added efficiency of Parliament being derived from the multiplicity of parlimentary staffs. A member should be here because he has some merit, not because he can be a mouthpiece for what a staff feeds to him. Some research, yes, but there is no end to the multiplication of committees and research and very often all that happens is that initiative, proper thinking and logic are lost in the multitude of details. I think that members who have had experience of what has been happening around here in the last couple of years would know what I mean.
In my view the efficiency of parliamentary work has not been improved but has to some extent been impaired by the multiplication of committees, the divergence of interests and the lack of focus. We are doing less because, perhaps, each of us is trying to do too much and, because we are expanding our interests over many fields, we fail to put an effective light of research and logic onto the focussed fields which are necessary if there is to be any progress. Perhaps I can quote - or misquote - Shakespeare by saying that the fault lies not in our staffs, dear Speaker, but in ourselves that we are underlings. If there is any fault, it is not because we lack these grandiose facilities. It is because we ourselves either do not work effectively or dissipate our energies over too wide a field.
I think we all know the way in which an institution can bog itself down in committees and sub-committees and bury itself in its own activities so that nothing gets done because all its energies are consumed in its own internal affairs. Let the Parliament beware of developing along those lines. It seemed to me that in some of the speeches that have been made here today there was a grandiose concept that members will be much more efficient if they all have their research staffs to feed in infor mation to them. I think that in that multiplicity of counsel there may be in the end only confusion. Mr Deputy Speaker, this may seem to you to be irrelevant, but I think that it is germane to this whole concept. Do we really need this tremendous new parliament house at the present moment?
– Yes, I think that most members feel like that. I do not. I believe that the dignity and prestige of Parliament does not necessarily require this kind of great edifice to give to it some kind of phoney authority. Surely there is in this place a real authority. Surely we should not entirely divorce ourselves from the historical connections, recent though they be. We are building them; do not let us cut off even the newest roots which we, as custodians of our parliamentary tradition, may require.
I prefer the amendment to the motion but I have no keenness for either because I believe that we are being carried away too much by our pretensions and we are losing the reality of the parliamentary authority which, whether we like it or not, is here in our hands. Our authority is real only if we believe it to be real. We have the real policy making power in this place. Let us believe in ourselves.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! The time allotted for precedence to General Business has expired. The honourable member for Mackellar will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day under General Business for the next sitting.
– by leave - ‘Establishing a new portfolio is always a challenging task. When tabling another report in May on The Role, Scope and Development of Recreation in Australia’, I said that the magnitude of the task did not daunt me. However, the complexity of .the problems associated with both tourism and recreation has not been fully appreciated by everybody in the past. My purpose in having reports prepared on the major areas within my responsibility is to provide a sound basis for future planning. I am anxious that both the problems and potential of tourism be clearly understood and its needs be identified before attempting to find solutions.
This report, ‘Development of Tourism in Australia’, has been prepared by my Department with the benefit of advice from the Australian Tourist Commission, the Australian National Travel Association and other interested organisations. It provides a general description of tourism in Australia by looking at the following questions: What is the nature and degree of our appeal as a tourist destination? What is the place of tourism in Australia in relation to individual demands, community values and our national identity? What is its contribution to the national economy and to regional economies? What is its role as an employer? And finally, what is its relationship to the environment?
This report looks closely at the state of the tourist industry and outlines the difficulties it is experiencing. Some of its problems are due both to the nature of the industry and to shorter-term adverse circumstances. I cannot help but feel that the problems of the tourist industry are not understood and appreciated enough. There is a widespread but incorrect impression that the industry is relatively prosperous, making it tempting to dismiss claims for assistance rather too quickly or, even worse, to impose further burdens on an industry whose viability is at the best uncertain. I hope this report will correct these views. However, the main purpose of this report is to stimulate discussion. We have suggested a number of objectives which the Australian Government should accept towards the development of tourism. These objectives are unashamedly flavoured by our Government’s basic philosophies. We believe the new attitude and direction they adopt will set a worthwhile pattern for Australian Government involvement in this field.
One of our deepest concerns is for the ordinary, average Australians. We want to encourage more of them to travel widely in Australia, to see and learn more about their own country, to enjoy and enrich their increasing hours of leisure. The various proposals put forward are designed to achieve these aims. However, they are not meant to be the complete answer. Formulation of our development policies will be a progressive, gradual process, hopefully involving contributions from interested parties at all levels of government and from the industry. What we have here is the first stage. At some time in the future we may be able to translate all the policies into proposals for specific projects in a national tourism plan. For the present, this report provides the background justification for proposals which have been considered in this year’s Budget context. These proposals go a long way towards giving effect to the Prime Minister’s policy speech undertakings to provide financial inducements to the tourist industry, to ensure that Australian cities and tourist centres acquire accommodation and amenities of international standard. I am pleased that the tourist industry has at last received some recognition of its needs through the following measures: The expansion and modification of the existing grants scheme to provide $ 1.75m for specific tourism development projects in 1973-74. Grants would be available for projects such as Australiana or pioneer settlements, preservation of historic sites and buildings, and fauna sanctuaries.
– What was the size of the previous grant?
– $250,000. The projects would not be confined to those with particular international appeal, and it would no longer be a requirement that States provide a matching grant. However, it is intended that applications would continue to be submitted to State governments for initial consideration. We have decided to make an allocation of 5570,000 towards the cost of promoting domestic tourism on an Australia-wide basis, to conduct regional surveys of important tourist areas and to provide low-cost accommodation for young travellers. We have approved in principle the insurance of loans for tourist accommodation through the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. Amending legislation will be required before this decision can be implemented. We are considering the possibility of equity participation by the Australian Government in major tourist development projects, in the spirit of Government and private sector co-operation. Subject to the amendment of the Commonwealth Banks Act, we want to expand the functions of the Commonwealth Development Bank so that financial assistance can be given to tourist development projects, particularly smaller undertakings in selected areas.
These measures are designed to boost tourism by providing more ready access to developmental funds. I recognise that there are other forms of assistance which would bc more helpful in easing the special operating difficulties of the industry. Some of these are also mentioned in our report. These and other proposals will be the subject of future submissions to Cabinet. Meanwhile, my aim is to work towards the tourist industry gaining a firm footing, providing a standard of service, attractions and facilities of which all Australians could be justifiably proud and from which they can derive pleasure and benefit. Tourism has an important contribution to make to the nation’s economic and social well-being through the more enjoyable use of our leisure time. I want to sec this potential fulfilled. I have much pleasure in tabling the report ‘Development of Tourism in Australia’ and commending it to all honourable members.
I present the following paper:
Development of Tourism in Australia - Ministerial Statement, 23 August 1973.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– I shall speak only very briefly because there is very little of a finite kind on which to speak in the report that has been put before us. I do not cavil at the idea of putting before the House of Parliament a report indicating the sorts of things that may be done in the future or the sort of thinking the Government has in its mind. That is in fact virtually all that is in this report, except for the increase in the amount of money provided for special tourist activities. The rest is simply an indication of what may or may not be done. I presume that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) would have said something would be done, if he knew what would be done, or what may or may not be done after he has his next fight with the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and any of his colleagues in the Cabinet who support the Treasurer. I do not get at the Minister on this. I just know that that is likely to be what the situation is.
This is a report which is good. It is rather like the case of the man who says that he is against sin. The Minister is in favour of tourism, and so he ought to be. He is the Minister who promotes tourism. So are all honourable members in favour of tourism. When some real finite prospects, some real policies, some real proposals are put before us, if indeed that ever happens, we will be able to delve into them in a far more significant way because there will be some hard argument to have. I think it is good that there has been an allocation of $570,000. I am not quite sure what it means when the Minister said that there is a cost of promoting domestic tourism. Promoting tourism usually means advertising. If it means that the Government is to spend this amount of money on advertising for private industry, private owners of tourist hotels and so on, 1 congratulate the Government on moving a little further away than I thought it would from its basic socialist philosophies. Also in this ephemeral report we are warned that the Government is considering investing taxpayers’ money to get equity participation in businesses which may or may not turn out to be successful. I think that it is a quite dangerous proposition to suggest that governments should provide money which is not theirs but which is raised by taxpayers to gain an equity in building a new hotel.
– You do not mind its advertising for private investors, and it would get no profit from that.
– You are quite right. I have not even attacked the Government for setting aside S2m to brainwash the Australian people about its own proposals. This is a sheer advertisement. You know what the sum of money involved is to be and you can at the end of each year examine it and see whether it should be less or more. It is a quite different proposition from risk investment - and this is risk investment which we are warned may take place. As I say, we can leave a more direct discussion on this matter until we have found out whether the Treasurer agrees with this, because I would be quite positive that unless there has been a revolution in Treasury thinking this would be a rather difficult proposition to get through.
– The Minister is the Assistant Treasurer.
– I know. I have also known other Assistant Treasurers and I know the effect they have had on Treasury and Treasurers’ thinking. You think that he is different. Time will tell. All I can say is at the moment we have only an indication of the intentions, some of which are good, some of which are not good. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debated adjourned.
Sifting suspended from 12.58 to 2.15 p.m.
– by leave - This is the first time in the history of our nation, apart from Canberra, that the Australian Government has stepped into the area of new city development by direct budgetary allocations. The full history of the debate which has led up to this involvement by the Australian Government has still to be told. Some of us have been firmly convinced for many years that the case for new cities has been unassailable. For the past 2 decades at least, all political parties in Australia have talked about decentralisation at great length but little has been attempted. Originally, the rationale for decentralisation was explained in terms of halting the population drift from the country. Nowadays that rationale is still applicable, but that justification has been overladen by the more pressing need to divert population away from overcrowded cities. I stress that Sydney and Melbourne particularly have felt this acute over-centralisation.
There can be no doubt that the 2 crisis points at the moment are Sydney and Melbourne which are suffering from all the ills of over-centralisation - soaring land prices, lagging services, air and water pollution, lack of recreational space and so on. Probably the most immediate reason for the failure of any new city development to be launched in the past has been governments’ reliance upon dispersed measures which has meant that scarce resources have been spread thinly over many areas with little effect. Between 1947 and 1970 the population of the non-urban areas in Australia declined from 31 per cent to 14.7 per cent of Australia’s total population. What was so clearly necessary was what all governments, and particularly the previous Australian Government, failed to do. This was to select and promote a certain number of growth centres. To the exasperation of the citizens of congested cities and to the despair of the people in the country areas, no commitment was made by previous governments to a meaningful policy of new city development, except in repeated platitudes and cliches.
This Government has made its commitment. In this Budget the commitment stands at S33m. It is only a beginning in our program. One of the major planks of our election platform, and the chief reason for the
Australian Labor Party winning the last election, was our commitment to the improvement of the quality of life and standards of service in existing cities. Our new cities program is only one part of our overall urban and regional development strategy. Monies which are allocated for new city development in this Budget result from studies carried out by the Cities Commission. One of the chief roles of the Cities Commission is to conduct studies of regional areas. As I said in my second reading speech on the Cities Commission Bill last April, these studies will be undertaken for a variety of reasons. Some studies assess regions as potential growth centres capable of rapid population growth. Some studies consider strategies for development which may be already taking place. Other studies assess proposals for financial support put to the Australian Government. Some studies collect necessary information about particular regions.
At present, the Cities Commission is conducting studies in all States. The first report of the Cities Commission will be tabled in the House later in September. The studies which the Commission has been undertaking have necessarily been ‘‘broad brush’ in treatment and have been intended as the first steps only in a systematic program of investigations into urban and regional problems throughout Australia. On the basis of these initial studies the Government has been able to allocate money to all States. I should point out that the money is intended for 2 broad types of operation. The first is what we call regional growth centres, which comprise new city development at a substantial distance from existing city development. The second may be called system cities, which are intended as substantially self-contained cities on the fringes of existing metropolitan areas. Subject to the areas selected for assistance in this program being acceptable to the various State governments, and subject to mutually acceptable arrangements for it being worked out between the Australian Government and respective State governments, the national Government is allocating $33m in its new city program as repayable loans.
As I pointed out in my speech on the Cities Commission Bill, the importance of land price stabilisation in areas being studied as possible growth centres cannot be overemphasised. Although the carrying out of a study does not imply a commitment by the Australian Government to support the area as a growth centre, it can lead to speculation. The activities of speculators could result in defeating policies for the support of the particular growth centre. I have spoken about regional growth centres. In this Budget the Australian Government is making a total allocation of finance of $9m for the support of the new city complex of Albury-Wodonga. The national Government has identified Albury-Wodonga as its major priority in the regional growth centre program. We believe that a target population of at least 300,000 is a viable proposition for Albury-Wodonga. In this first year the majority of money will be spent on land acquisition although a certain proportion has been set aside for expenditure on selected public works. This figure does not include the cost of any projects which the Australian Government might finance under the regular programs of other Federal instrumentalities.
Leaving aside Albury-Wodonga, we are proposing a total provision of S9.4m to be allocated to New South Wales. This money is to be allocated to the system city areas of the Holsworthy - Menai - CampbelltownCamdenAppin corridor and the Gosford-Wyong complex north of Sydney, and the regional growth centre of Bathurst-Orange. I am pleased to say that New South Wales has announced its intention to introduce land price stabilisation legislation to apply to all these areas. It agreed to stabilise land prices on 3 October 1972. That will be the base price that the Commonwealth will pay, adjusted in line with the normal cost of living increases. Farmers or other people who have to move when their land is acquired will be paid a displacement amount.
In Victoria, apart from Albury-Wodonga, the Government has in mind a total provision of $5m for the period 1973-74. This money is to be allocated to 2 areas - Geelong and the Melbourne south-east sector. The Cities Commission has found that the acquisition of critical lands to the south-east of Melbourne, either for recreation or for conservation and scenic reasons, would offer the strongest available guarantee of the continued protection of the Dandenong Ranges, Westernport Bay and the Mornington Peninsula. The need for recreation land near Melbourne is particularly important, and the preservation of the Mornington Peninsula and the Dandenongs is a matter of some urgency. Unlike Sydney, which has 4 major national parks within 100km of the heart of the city, the only national parks near Melbourne are Kinglake, which is relatively small, and Wilson’s Promontory. Acquiring certain other areas in this corridor will also provide a means of channelling the inevitable population growth into more desirable patterns than those becoming evident at present.
The Government intends to promote a growth centre in an area near Geelong. Although the Victorian Government has introduced legislation for land price stabilisation in the Wodonga area it has yet to announce its intention to do the same for other selected growth areas in that State. I would like to make it perfectly clear that the support of the Australian Government for the promotion of a Geelong growth centre is dependent upon the Victorian Government announcing its intention to introduce legislation for land price stabilisation. And it is most important that the legislation which is introduced in Victoria - and this comment applies to other Sates as well - sets an appropriate base value. This should be the value at a date related to the earliest announcements or reports in the case of each growth centre. The base value in Albury-Wodonga is 3 October 1972, and the New South Wales Government has announced that this date will apply to other growth centres in that State. But for all growth centres the legislation should make sure that the stable door is closed well before the horse wants to bolt. In the case of Geelong, this should mean a date not later than yesterday - the day on which the Victorian Government through Mr Hunt, the Victorian Minister for Local Government, issued a formal statement of planning policy identifying the Geelong region as a location for large scale urban growth.
We seek the development of the growth centre to be under the administration of a development corporation. This corporation will be the result of co-operation between the Australian and Victorian Governments and could operate under the same or similar principles as the development corporation which has been agreed to in the Albury-Wodonga growth centres. The Australian Government sees the development of a growth centre at Geelong as an important instrument in our attempt to slow down the growth of Melbourne. Other important areas will also have to be brought into focus. I am having discussions with Mr Murray Byrne, the Victorian
Minister for State Development and Decentralisation, to have further study areas selected in Victoria. If these studies are successful, again the aim would be to divert population growth away from the Melbourne metropolitan area. The Government believes that the development of selected growth centres in Victoria can make a major contribution to relieving pressures on Melbourne’s growth. We intend Geelong to be a step in this process, along with Albury-Wodonga. We hope other future areas could be under way before 1975. But I want to stress I will be seeking to have a stabilisation of land prices in each area under study.
I now turn to the other States in which assistance will be provided for growth centres in 1973-74. In Queensland, 3 regions have been under study - Townsville, the Fitzroy Region, which includes Gladstone and Rockhampton, and the Moreton region. The national Government wishes to make an allocation of $4.4m to Queensland during 1973- 74 for assistance to these areas. Such assistance would include money for land acquisition, sewerage and water supply, and social facilities such as improved public transport, hospital facilities and child-minding centres. The South Australian Government has selected the town of Monarto for new city development and has introduced legislation to provide both for land price stabilisation and the setting up of a development corporation to plan and develop the new centre. The Government intends to provide SI. 2m for this centre in 1973-74. In Western Australia, the Government has in mind a total provision of $3. 5m for assistance to Perth and Salvado generally for land acquisition. The Cities Commission is continuing to carry out studies in the Albany, Geraldton and Bunbury areas. In Tasmania, the Government intends to give assistance for land purchase, planning and other works in the Tamar region, of the order of $0.5m in 1973-74
This Government does not believe that one can formulate policies on cities by concentrating exclusively on new cities. Urban problems cannot be solved by such an exclusive approach. The present Government recognises that there are urgent and severe problems in the existing cities. They can only be attacked by policies which both concentrate on the existing cities and are supported by policies for new regional centres. The major initiatives which this Government is now taking in cities should be seen as one interconnected parcel of policies. I want to stress that it is an interconnected parcel. This is one of the great strengths of our attitude towards cities. We do not intend to make and review policies on such things as roads, housing, sewerage and land in isolation.
The Australian Government is involved in urban investments through various agreements. Through our new initiatives we shall be involved in many more investments in urban areas. I am speaking of such things as the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement - a new agreement will be entered into next year; the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement which has been successfully negotiated by my colleague the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson); our proposed subsidy for urban public transport that the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) has also negotiated; our sewerage program; our policies on land commissions; assistance for the National Estate - in co-operation with State governments, local government, the private sector, private companies and private individuals, we want to preserve what has been created by man and by nature; and, of course, our new cities program. These must be seen as interconnected investments in order to ensure the most efficient return from these investments, and to ensure more equal distribution of opportunities within urban areas.
I am not underestimating the difficulty of the task before us or the expensive nature of the undertakings we have made. But in the long term, these undertakings are an investment for all the people of our nation. If the program of building new cities is to be successful the sustained and combined support of political leaders at all levels of government over many years is essential. I seek the support of this House and of State and local governments for this historic and vital program of growth centre development in our nation. I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– At the outset 1 wish the thank the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) for having made available to me yesterday a copy of the speech which he delivered today.
But having said that, I would like to point out to him, in case he has not noticed it, that there is in today’s ‘Australian Financial Review’ a complete breakdown of the moneys proposed to be distributed by the Minister and his Department - a greater breakdown even than that which appears in the Minister’s speech today. I suggest that it is not treating this House with really proper consideration for these matters to be given to the newspapers and published in the newspapers before the opportunity to debate them in this House arises.
– I can assure you that these details were not given to any newspapers by me or my office.
– The Minister has indicated that the details were not given to the newspapers by him or by anyone of whom he knows, and I accept that, but I think that the greatest of care should be taken to see that this does not in fact happen. The Opposition does not object to the general principles enunciated in this statement. I put aside some of the remarks which I would regard as political sniping and which I think neither affect the proposals in the statement nor adorn the speech. Rather, I want to get down to a consideration of the actual principles themselves. There are some matters to which I think we can raise objection not in principle but in the method of operation. There are other areas in which I believe we need a good deal more information than in fact has been provided to this House so far.
We do not object to the principle of creating new regional cities, nor do we object to the idea of creating system cities which, in the speech, are described as being on the fringes of the existing metropolitan areas. I trust that they would be a reasonable distance away and that the fringe would not be too narrow. Of course, we do not object to the principle of improving the facilities in the existing cities of Melbourne and Sydney which we agree are overcrowded and arc growing too fast, and their growth ought to be diminished. Nor, of course, can any reasonable man have any objection to studies being carried out in various parts of Australia in order to seek to decide where the best opportunities are provided to establish new cities or where the best areas are in the vicinity of existing cities. I hope the Minister will realise that these studies, which I am glad to see will be tabled in this House, are not necessarily to be accepted by this House as being the last definitive word on the matter; but that they will be regarded purely as a starting point for discussion which has been arrived at by consideration by people who have studied in this field.
There are a number of other matters to which I would like to refer. The first one is the statement - and it is a clear statement - that ‘subject to the areas selected for assistance in this program being acceptable to the various State governments, and subject to mutually acceptable arrangements for it being worked out between the Australian Government and respective State governments, the national Government is allocating $33m in its new city program as repayable loans’. I would like the House to consider why this money is being provided in the form of repayable loans. It is almost certain that the money will not be raised on the market as a loan but that it will come from revenue collected by the Commonwealth Government. In our previous discussions with the States on CommonwealthState financial relations, one of the valid objections made by the States - and sometimes they did have a valid objection - was that the Commonwealth had, for a long time, been collecting money in the form of revenue, making it available under the name of a loan to the States, and charging the States interest on that money - thereby greatly increasing the cost to the States of anything on which that money was spent - and pretending that it was only loan money when in fact it was not. We, as a Government, were so impressed by this argument that we embarked on a program of relieving the States of the charges on some $ 1,000m of the money which had been provided from revenue by way of a loan.
This to me seems to be a retrograde step. It seems to me to be a step which is going back to the idea of collecting money from revenue, pretending it is loan funds and charging interest on it, thereby raising the cost - and it will raise the cost - of establishing cities, and raising the cost to everybody who lives in those cities after they are established. I do not know what interest rate will be charged - we have not been told that - but let us suppose that a rate of 6 per cent is charged. It is quite clear that on this first advance of $33m and on the future advances which will be required if this idea of making this money repayable loans is to be adhered to, there will be a great increase in cost to the cities and it will be a retrograde step on the part of the Commonwealth-State financial relations.
I seriously suggest to the Government that not only in this field - I now express a personal opinion when I go beyond this field - but also in many other fields of Government expenditure - whether it is done by the Federal Government or by a State government with money provided out of revenue and where there is no competition in the establishment of such facilities, private enterprise competing with the Government - the Government could well consider going much further in providing grants rather than interest payable loans. I believe that in this case this should certainly be something that the Government does. It is one great defect in the statement.
The second thing that disturbs me is what is contained in the same paragraph of the statement to which I have referred. It states: . . subject to mutually acceptable arrangements . . . being worked out between the Australian Government and respective State governments . . .
But we are not told precisely or even generally - except in a very general way - what arrangements would be acceptable to the Commonwealth. They have to be mutally acceptable. But what would be acceptable to the Commonwealth? If we are to take what has happened in this field in Western Australia as an indication of What would be acceptable to the Commonwealth, then I believe that this House should not give such a b ank cheque because I believe that what has happened in this field in Western Australia is an infringement on the proper and just rights of individual Australian citizens and is completely bad in principle. There has been introduced in Western Australia, through the Western Australian Parliament, by a Government of the same persuasion as the Commonwealth Government and I believe - I may be wrong - as a result of discussions between the Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian Government, provisions for land acquisition which I do not believe this House should accept because the results of this action have been that land can be declared, that is, frozen, and nobody is able to raise a mortgage on the land or to sell the land. Even if probate is required, people cannot get rid of their land, once it has been declared, for an indefinite length of time.
There is no limit on the amount of time for which this land can be frozen and not used by the Government and not able to be used by the individual. That must surely be wrong. Also, there is no indication in what has happened in Western Australia - and I think we can take that as a pilot scheme for what is happening here - as to what price is to be paid for land when it is acquired. We can understand the proposition that at the time the study is being carried out and for a reasonable period of time to allow that study to be carried out, there should not be an avenue for speculators to enter the area and push land prices up. We can understand that. We cannot understand that it is right or proper to put a blanket prohibition on the use of land for an indefinite period of time. This was done in New South Wales on one occasion in the case of soldier settlement blocks.
– Not by this Government.
– No, but it was done and it caused a great deal of hardship and a great deal of injustice. I am not throwing this at anybody. I am saying that it happened and it can happen again. On the indications of what has happened in Western Australia, it is likely to happen again unless the Minister tells us-
– We have agreed that wherever there is a case of hardship we will acquire the land immediately.
– The Minister now informs me - the House will be interested to know this - that he has agreed with Western Australia that whenever there is a case of hardship the Commonwealth Government will acquire the land. I take it that the Minister means that the land will be acquired under the constitutional requirement of a just price.
– The State will acquire it. We will .finance the acquisition.
– That is What I was coming to. That is another great weakness, I think, in this statement. The Commonwealth Constitution provides that when land is acquired from a private citizen a just price must be paid and that if a just price is not paid the citizen may resort to the courts which will decide whether the price offered is just or not. The Constitution gives an individual citizen a protection against big government.
– Under what conditions can the Commonwealth acquire it? It can acquire it only in certain circumstances, such as if it is to be used as Commonwealth property.
– We are talking about something that the Minister said the Commonwealth was to acquire. He went on to say that although this was to be acquired it would not be acquired under conditions which required just terms of acquisition. He has made those 2 statements to the House.
– But look-
– Let us have a debate later. There really is quite a serious principle involved here. If land is to be acquired, it appears that it will be mutually acceptable to the States and the Commonwealth for the States to acquire the land although they do not have the legal obligation to pay anything for that land. They can set any price on it they like and the Commonwealth can avoid having to pay a just price. I believe this is entirely wrong. I can understand that if an area were selected for study a just price would be the price for that area before it was gazetted as being accepted for study.
– There has been no freeze on land in New South Wales. You can still buy and sell land.
– There is in Western Australia.
– There is nothing of the sort.
– There is in Westeran Australia. Land obviously is going to be acquired. I take it that even the honourable member for Robertson would agree that if we are to build a new city in some place we have to acquire the land somehow at some stage. The point I make is that, although we were not told so in this statement, it has now become completely apparent that the Commonwealth, although it is the driving force behind all this, will not acquire the land. Instead it will get the States to acquire the land, thereby removing one protection which an individual citizen ought to have. Let me reiterate that I am not suggesting that the Commonwealth should have to pay an inflated price as a result of the selection of an area on which a city may be built.
– Yes, you are.
– No. I am not.
– What is a just price?
– A just price could be the price - to use the words of the Minister - the day before the announcement was made to acquire the land or that the land had been selected for study. But there is no indication that that just price is to be paid.
– What is the just price of Lanyon?
– The Minister has asked me what is the just price of land. He is the one who is going to acquire all this land. Surely to goodness, if he does not know at least we could go to the courts in accordance with the Constitution and act in a proper way by leaving it to somebody who does know.
– I said: What is the just price of Lanyon, the property in the Australian Capital Territory?
– The Minister wants me to follow him down some little corridor. He actually said: ‘What is the just price of Lanyon?’ I believe it will be the price that is finally determined by any legal action that the owners of Lanyon might take. But that is not the point in this instance. It is not a laughing matter that land can be acquired without a just price being paid for it and really by a subterfuge. (Extension of time granted.) 1 thank the House and I thank the Minister. I will not take up a great deal more time. The points I have raised should be deep in everybody’s mind. Another point which will be developed by my colleague the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) and which is quite apart from the point about which I have been speaking is that overseas experience has shown that on many occasions there is great detriment to individual citizens when an area is selected for study. People suffer hardship. They have their rights impringed upon. I will leave it to my colleague to develop that point and to show just how that has happened and what is being done about it in other countries.
I will move on to discuss the acquisition of land - it would do the Minister an awful lot of good to listen to my remarks instead of speaking to somebody else - in the Mornington Peninsula, Dandenong Ranges and Western Port areas in order to protect those areas. This is a good objective and one, subject to what I have said before, to which I would not object at all. But might it not be a reasonable approach for the Commonwealth, having decided to take this action in this field, to have wider ranging talks with State governments on the provision of finance for national parks and for those national parks to be placed under the control of a commission - call it what you will - drawn from State government and Commonwealth Government sources?
– You may not be able to find any more commissions.
– You can call it something else if you like. It should not be a commission consisting of public servants such as the commissions which are proliferating in this place. The parks would merely be withdrawn from the direct control of a State or the Commonwealth and placed under the control of the commission. The Commonwealth could provide for those national parks - the time has come to select national parks throughout Australia - a nationally financed corps of park rangers to make sure that those who enter that land do not destroy it. There should be available to the people engaged in such a corps an opportunity for promotion in national parks throughout Australia instead of merely within one State. 1 suggest that that could well be an improvement and it would be properly described as a new initiative, lt strikes me as odd to hear the Minister describe the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement as a new initiative and the Commonwealth - State Housing Agreement as a new initiative. I had been under the impression that they had been in operation for many years, but perhaps he or his colleagues have changed them a little.
One thing that this speech does make clear is that this Government requires that the new city to be developed in the Geelong area should be run by a development corporation, which I take to be something like the National Capital Development Commission, with authority, subject to the State Minister and the Commonweath Minister, to act as the NCDC acts as a planning body. I do not raise objection to that proposal. I think that Canberra is a clear indication of the success which can be achieved by the use of a planning body similar in nature to the NCDC. But what the speech does not make clear is whether the other areas referred to - Townsville, Gladstone and areas in Tasmania - also are to be placed under such development commissions. This, of course, would require State government acceptance of the idea. If these areas were placed under development commissions it would enable really proper development, such as we have seen the model for in this city, to take place.
For ourselves, I would finish by saying this: There seeks to be made in this speech some impression that no efforts have been made by the previous Government to develop areas outside of capital cities. This is not true. This particular approach has not been accepted, but I merely need to bring to the attention of the House the specific decisions made for this purpose in deciding, for example, to site the military establishment at Townsville, in deciding to push forward with the Townsville University - all of these with Government expenditure - the Townsville Teachers College, and the establishment there of the Institute of Marine Biology. These things were specifically designed to try to see that that area was built up as far as could be done with Commonwealth funds. If we can go further and if we can get the States to agree to place the whole planning of that area, which is growing fast as a result of the previous Government’s actions, then the previous Government’s actions will have been thoroughly justified and brought to an even more successful conclusion.
– It gives me a great deal of pleasure as a representative of an outer metropolitan area to speak on this motion. The statement of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) to my mind gives new hope for the quality of life in our cities. The Minister, if I may say so, is a harbinger of new hope for urban life. The history of cities is a fascinating study, but if such a study teaches us anything it is that more planning is necessary in the quality of human life in our cities if we are to preserve that essential quality.
The statement, in conjunction with the other things that have been discussed in this Parliament on similar matters since the new Government took office, is a landmark in every sense of the word. It parallels the entry of the Australian Government into education in the early 1960s. That was a big change in the way the Commonwealth sought to assist education. These statements are a big change in the way in which the Australian Government wishes to assist urban life and regional development.
Before I continue I think I should say something about the remarks of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). Firstly, he mentioned loan funds. Honourable men: ben will know that in the Budget the sum of $60m is mentioned for loan funds to be given to the States to allow them to do work in urban and regional development. The point that I wish to make is that the long term Commonwealth loan interest rate, with deferred interest, will apply in the early years. The effect of this will be to capitalise the amount of interest so that the money can then be repaid from the income from the land developed. With the current growth rate as the land increases in value income will come from it and the money will be easily repaid.
The Commonwealth is not unmindful of the need to assist the States in this way but it is impossible, particularly in the early stages with so many calls upon the Australian Government’s funds, to enable everything to be done at once. This is just another way of getting things rolling. The Government proposes to make a 3-pronged attack. It proposes to improve the quality of life in our cities. It proposes to decentralise development and establish new cities. It proposes to promote regional growth. We wish to see balanced development within our nation and within our cities. We want to see a balanced spread of community facilities within our cities. We do not wish to see a continuation of the situation, particularly in our very large cities of Sydney and Melbourne, where essential public services are remote from the people from the point of view of both transport and accessibility in other ways.
As the Minister has said, we are providing in this Budget $33m for growth centres. This is a very significant start and a very significant contribution to balanced planning and development in Australia. I congratulate the Minister and the Government for the meaningful commitment to proper planning and balanced and progressive development. Apart from the overall planning aspects, what does the Budget allocation mean? It means that people who live in the outer metropolitan areas will be given new hope for the improvement of the quality of their life, a new hope for better transport and a new hope for the control of stream and river pollution by the provision of money for sewerage works.
I should like to bring to the attention of honourable members some of the other matters which the Treasurer (Mr Crean) outlined in the Budget Speech the other night. Apart from the growth centres and the loans which have already been mentioned both by myself and the right honourable member for Higgins, we are to provide S30m for sewerage works. It may sound a mundane subject to many people but we all know that the lack of proper sewerage in our large urban areas has had a very deleterious effect upon the environment around our cities and in our cities. Water pollution is largely caused by the lack of proper sewerage. We are providing money for the western sectors of Sydney and Melbourne. We are making a significant contribution to urban public transport. The total expenditure is to be $136m by 1973-74.
I have mentioned planning and balanced development. This planning is a continuing and developing process. As the Minister has said, it comes from the studies undertaken by the Cities Commission. Already the expert advice of the Cities Commission is of great value and studies are progressing in all States. I do not think we need to reiterate the regional development projects listed by the Minister except to emphasise that every State is to receive positive, planned assistance.
While I am talking about the sort of assistance that the States will get, I should like to answer the remark by the right honourable member for Higgins about the acquisition of land. As many honourable members know, the Commonwealth under the Constitution is able to acquire land only for defence purposes or for special Commonwealth purposes. In any case, I feel that it is a good thing that we are co-operating with the States. The States will acquire the land for the projects. I do not imagine, and I do not believe that anyone imagines, that the States will acquire land on anything but just terms. In fact, acquiring land usually works against public authorities. I know from my experience in local government that we were often held up by people who owned land and who knew the price was rising. They delayed selling so that the ultimate payment was much greater than the market value of the land when we first indicated that we wished to purchase it. Land is acquired at just prices, and if there is any inconvenience to the owner an additional amount often is paid as well.
Because it is indicative of the type of assistance being provided, I mention the provision of funds which enable the construction of a second railway track between Macleod and Greensborough in my electorate. The cost of the duplication will be approximately $700,000. In addition there will be amounts provided for station facilities. Of this money, two-thirds is to be provided by the Australian Government. The Australian Labor Party, when it was in Opposition, talked about the need for this project. We are now acting to redeem that promise.
One of the greatest problems facing young people in Australia and particularly young married couples is the great cost of land. This Government recognises this problem and proposes to take urgent steps to do something about it. Land buyers and the community generally must not be left to the mercy of land speculators. The co-operation of the States in stabilising land prices and making sufficient land available is of great importance. I should like to see local government brought into this co-operation by the various States. I am sure that it can be. lt has worked very well in many other countries. Quality of life is more than the provision of services such as sewerage and transport. It is also the provision of adequate educational, cultural, community, sporting and recreational facilities. As the Minister has pointed out, the need for additional recreational land is of great importance. The Government is providing significant loan funds to the States for this purpose.
Previous Liberal and Country Party coalition governments failed to live up to the challenge of our times. The National Urban and Regional Development Authority was established one month before a critical election, and after more than 20 years. No money was provided. It was an advisory body. There was no talk about existing cities. This Government has set up a government department - the Department of Urban and Regional Development. It has provided money. This is the first time this has been done. The previous Government did nothing for local government. It said that it was not its responsibility and that local government was the child of the States. Therefore, local government had no resources, no manpower, no money and huge debts. Growth was at the expense of co-ordinated development. I have always felt that there was a tendency to spend on individual electorates for narrow and parochial political advantage. T his Government will not do this. Projects will need to be justified and they will need to fit. into a co-ordinated pattern.
The criticism was made, when the. Cities Commission Bill came before this House, that we thought only of the cities. This is far from the truth. We do not intend to develop the cities at the expense of the country but to achieve complementary development. Under previous governments the drift to urban areas was greatly accelerated. I think the Minister mentioned in his speech that between 1947 and 1970 less than half the percentage of people were living in country areas rather than in urban areas. We know who was in government during those years, or at least all but two of them. The previous Government talked about decentralisation but it took no real, practical steps. It is the height of hypocrisy to suggest that the Government is not concerned with country areas. This Government will do much more to achieve balanced development.
As I said at the commencement of this speech, there is now new hope for the quality of urban and regional life in Australia. As a representative of an area which has suffered because of the lack of planning by previous governments I welcome the statement of the Minister. The statement will continue to give encouragement to those who believe that planning is more important than disorganised development and that people are more important than profits. We do not propose to denver into the hands of speculators the vast increase in land values which will occur because of these plans. It is not a question of acquiring land at just prices; it is a question of making sure that the people of this country are not exploited. The people of Australia want action on balanced development. This Government will provide the money and organisation to do the job. The Labor Government has done more than talk; it has acted and has acted well. By the year 2000, if growth continues at the present rate, we will be faced with huge urban populations. At least 5 million people will be living in Sydney and 4.5 million people in Melbourne. In any case, the Victorian State Government is having another look at the master plan for the Melbourne metropolitan area. It has come to realise, as have many other people in Australia, that the continuance of urban growth, which is both unplanned and extensive, will have a serious effect on the quality of life. This Government wants to do something about urban decay. We do not want to see the inner parts of our metropolitan areas become places for huge masses of freeways. In doing all these things, we will not ignore the States. This has to be a co-operative venture.
We will assist in the provision of funds, in proper planning and in the overall coordination. We seek the States’ co-operation.
Finally, I refer to migrant problems in our inner urban areas. These have been caused by action taken or not taken in the past. The provision of funds for the western sectors of Sydney and Melbourne will go a significant way to doing something about this situation. We will do something about the problems which the migrants have had to labour under in previous years. It is not good enough to bring people here and expect them to exist without proper facilities. This Government will do something about all the problems. I congratulate the Minister for his statement and I hope that the House will support the motion.
– Whilst this is the first time in Australian history that direct budgetary allocations have been made to a cities program it is an inevitable natural flowon from the action taken last year by the Liberal-Country Party Government to establish the National Urban and Regional Development Authority under the chairmanship of Sir John Overall. This decision was taken after considerable research and discussion at the departmental level and between the States. It is true that efforts in the area of decentralisation by the various States have not been sufficient to stop the drift to the cities, as the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) pointed out in his statement, but it has been only in the last 3 years, at the most, that there has been any real ground swell of public acknowledgement and support for the concept of comprehensive balanced development. I nevertheless congratulate the Minister for being the Minister responsible for the first direct appropriation to a cities program.
Let no one say this year’s Budget allocation of $33m of repayable loans to the States is the final answer to or the financial formula for the rapidly growing population concentration problem. As the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) rightly said: ‘Why repayable loans; why not specific nonrepayable grants to the States?’ It would seem to be a silly inconsistency - indeed a divergence in policy initiatives - to develop selected growth centres with repayable interest-bearing grants and other centres with non-repayable grants from the Grants Commission. Let not the Minister delude us about his Government’s real intention which in this regard is basically, so far as decentralisation is concerned, to reallocate resources from the rural sector to the cities. This Budget itself clips off at least $150m of assistance to rural areas. A whole range of additional costs now come upon the shoulders of country people. These include increased costs for telephone connections, increased telephone rentals, higher postage rates, higher air fares, a partial elimination of the petrol price equalisation scheme, a new meat tax costing $14m, elimination of investment allowances and the reduction of depreciation allowances for farmers costing the rural people in a full year at least $150m. Here, today, the Minister proudly announces his Government’s decision to allocate $33m of repayable loans to the States for a vast program of balanced development.
Let me be frank. So far as my electorate of Gwydir is concerned, not one town or one community centre will benefit from this appropriation. In fact, the electorate as such will suffer as a result of the Budget proposal to withdraw incentives from rural areas. This will not in any way assist the program of decentralisation in the Gwydir electorate. I suppose that other electorates in rural Australia are placed in a similar position.
To return to the statement, the success of the Government’s urban and regional development policy and the change in the pattern of development in Australia is in the balance, lt will depend on a number of factors including, firstly, a genuine desire to encourage comprehensive balanced development, achieving a balance between the need to cater for metropolitan redevelopment and the development of a large number of well located regional growth centres away from the existing metropolitan complexes; secondly, the successful cooperation and co-ordination of resources of the Australian State and local governments. Unless there is this high degree of goodwill and clear intention on the part of the Australian Government to work with the States, the right spirit will not be engendered and I am sure the result will be frustration and failure. However, I am pleased that the Minister has shown this keen desire for cooperation in all the discussions that he has had with the States. I have heard this from various quarters and I hope that this will become the pattern of his endeavour. The third factor is the provision of extensive quantities of Commonwealth finances annually; the fourth is the provision of an extensive range of Commonwealth and State government blanket incentives to business, industry and people generally to live in these new regional centres; and, fifthly, the provision of adequate safeguards for the property rights of those people already living in and having already invested in the specific regional growth centres.
On present indications, it is doubtful whether the proposed development of regional centres is on a scale sufficiently large and comprehensive to offer a significant proportion of Australia’s people and industry a viable alternative to their establishment in one or two of the major capital cities. The Australian regional problem is characterised by the large disparity of population concentration between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. As at the census of 30 June 1971, the proportion of Australia’s population living in urban centres of over 500,000 people amounted to 57.9 per cent, whereas the proportion of those living in centres from 10,000 to 20,000 people was 4.21 per cent. Thus the total proportion of our population in all centres from 10,000 people upwards at 30 June 1971 was 75.82 per cent.
However, it is not necessarily this concentration of population in metropolitan areas which constitutes the regional problem. The manifestation of the regional problem lies in the economic costs, the environmental problems and the social problems which are the result of this population concentration. It must be our national objective to ensure that our largest cities do not grow at their present rate and to such a size that human endeavour within them takes too great a toll of time of the individual and of comfort and pleasure from living. Any attack on the problem of regional development should be directed to ensure that people who prefer to live in country towns or medium sized rural cities can do so without foregoing a reasonable range of employment opportunities and a fair share of social and educational opportunities found at present only in the major cities.
As I have pointed out before, on present trends, Australia’s population will increase by somewhere between 8 million and 9 million people in the next 28 years. On present trends 6 million of this increase will swell the populations of the 6 major capital cities. This prospect is an incredible proposition in the world’s largest island continent. We have very large areas of relatively unexploited and unspoilt countryside suitable for modern town development. But even if one new city to accommodate 300,000 people were commenced each year for the next 28 years, only about 4 million people would be absorbed in these new cities by the end of that time and this would leave an additional 5 million people to be accommodated in the existing 6 capital cities. So, it is a matter of extreme urgency. It is a tremendous challenge to the Minister and the Government and to the Australian people to overcome that enormous problem.
The second factor that I mentioned was Commonwealth-State and local government co-operation. I am satisfied that the Minister is showing a desire to reach this accord wilh the various authorities and if this is achieved, I am sure that he will get the sort of community co-operation that is necessary to make the whole program a success. Obviously the States, with all their good intentions with respect to decentralisation, have not had the financial resources to cope with the problem. They have the powers and undoubtedly the will and they have the contacts through their local government organisations to help bring it about but they have not had the financial resources at their disposal. But it is clear to me that the Government will be most likely to concentrate its efforts within a 150-mile radius of the existing metropolitan areas. These, of course, will be the Minister’s system cities on the fringes of the existing metropolitan conglomeration. We will probably see about 10 such system cities developed over the next 30 years.
Undoubtedly, the Labor Government will remain predominantly involved in the maintenance and improvement of the existing urban facilities in our 6 State capital cities. I am not an advocate of neglecting the needs of people living in the existing cities and of concentrating only on the creation of new cities away from the existing cities. I suspect though that the Labor Government will, because of pressure from the city electorates, give insufficient sustained attention to the financial needs of establishing new inland cities. Such an approach will not provide the balance that should be achieved to achieve the ideal of comprehensive balanced development. The only way in which a real impact on the problem of balanced development will be achieved will be by a joint CommonwealthState 4-pronged approach. The first prong should be the commencement on an annual basis of selected regional growth centres to accommodate up to 300,000 people each throughout Australia away from the existing cities; secondly, there should be metropolitan redevelopment to help overcome problems of population and environmental pressures in the major cities; thirdly, the provision of general incentives and subsidies to assist country areas to overcome their existing economic disadvantages to industry, commerce and investment and also the social disadvantages for the people; and the fourth prong is that State governments should be given every encouragement to continue with their selective support in country towns generally to maintain a healthy and viable growth rate in those towns.
I believe that unless we have that broad, 4- pronged comprehensive approach, there will not be sufficient total impact on the ugly trend of development that has taken place in this country. I do not say that either of the first 2 prongs I mentioned is more important than the other; they both are essentially important. But the other 2 prongs of the approach could be overlooked in an approach to the total problem. However, I believe that the main thrust in any decentralisation program must be towards selected decentralisation. I do not disagree with the Minister in this respect, in spite of the political considerations and parochial jealousies that can be aroused. The fourth point which I should like to deal with briefly is the need to offer a range of incentives to attract industry and people involved in tertiary industries to those areas. We cannot simply move people from one centre to another unless there is some incentive for them to move. So, the centres must not only be designed to neutralise disadvantages - either social or financial - but, also, I believe, to go further they must be done in a carrot-like fashion.
The other point that I want to mention before I conclude is the need to put people first once an area is designated. In the United
Kingdom one of the greatest internal political controversies has revolved around the problem of new town development, because too often the new town development corporations have gone into an area and frozen land prices and ignored the problems of property owners and house owners for the sake of a total objective. The United Kingdom has passed legislation to overcome the human problems involved in progress itself. Of course, we are setting out to achieve a better style of life for people, but no section of the community or no individual should be asked to bear more than his share of the price involved. It is essential for both Commonwealth and State governments to recognise that requirement.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hansen) adjourned.
– by leave - At the outset I should like to say that when I am making certain statements about funds which are coming from the Commonwealth Budget there is one respect in which they are not an increase. They are part of a different way of funding. The States are receiving their share of the costs of tertiary education through grants under section 96 of the Constitution, and this amount is being deducted from the grants to the States, as agreed at the Premiers Conference of June 1973. I might mention also at the outset that the appropriations for the child care program appear in the Budget not under education but under the functional classification of social security and welfare.
The Treasurer (Mr Crean) has already outlined the very substantial increases which will take place in expenditure on education for 1973-74 over the previous financial year. The increases confirm the speed with which the Government has moved not only to implement announced policies but also to introduce additional measures vital to the great transformation in accessibility of education to young people, which is the Government’s aim. This transformation in accessibility of education will offer greater prospects than ever before of meeting the reasonable and legitimate educational expectations of all Australians. Before I describe in more detail the elements which make up the Government’s comprehensive program in education, I will highlight in summary form some of the significant initiatives the Government has taken and some of the more substantial increases in expenditure on continuing programs which are reflected in the Budget. In this summary I will indicate the outlays provided in the Budget for these items.
Tertiary and post-secondary student allowance schemes to replace the existing Commonwealth university, advanced education and technical scholarship schemes and expansion of the Commonwealth postgraduate awards scheme - $58m. The figure of $32m mentioned by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech covers the cost of new programs beginning next year but does not include the cost of the existing programs in the second half of this calendar year. Provision for the Australian Government to assume full financial responsibility for tertiary education from January 1974 and to abolish tuition fees at universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges and technical colleges - $2 12m. I draw attention to the qualification of the changed method of funding I mentioned at the outset of this speech. Assistance to technical and further education including special supplementary grants to the States of $10m in advance of the report of the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education - $25.6m.
Programs of assistance to Australian schools in accordance with the recommendations of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, including special programs for disadvantaged schools and education of the handicapped - $97m. The House will recall that these programs begin in January and therefore there is within that figure not a full year’s expenditure. A new program of financial assistance for low income families who may be expected to experience difficulty in maintaining their children in senior secondary education - $ 1.75m. Assistance for the education of isolated children - $9.8m.
Provision for pre-school education and child care programs being developed by the Australian Pre-Schools Committee - $10m That is, of course, being provided in advance of the Committee’s recommendations.
Aboriginal secondary grants scheme, extended this year to all children of Aboriginal descent in secondary schools - S5.7m. Migrant education - provision of funds for the purchase of demountable classroom accommodation for migrant children attending special English classes - $2m.
Provision for educational research grants supported by the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education to be increased to $350,000. Support for the establishment and maintenance of an independent curriculum development centre - $500,000.
In addition to these important initiatives the Budget provides for substantial increases in outlays on many continuing programs and all major sectors of education in Australia will benefit from these increases. The estimated outlay by the Australian Government on education in 1973-74 of $843m represents an increase of 92 per cent over 1972-73. I say that again with the qualification of the change in funding. This is only the first step in an investment which by 1974-75 is likely to exceed $ 1,000m. The States will receive almost two and one-half times as much for expenditure on tertiary and technical education, schools and pre-schools as in 1972-73. From $253m last year the payments to the States will increase to $62 8m. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a summary table of estimated outlays on education by the Australian Government in 1973-74.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I turn now to discuss in more detail the major areas comprising the Government’s program in education.
The Government has already announced major initiatives which will greatly improve accessibility of entry to this level of education. Improvement of the quality of education at other levels will also result from these initiatives because of the expansion and improvement of teacher education along with other areas of tertiary education.
Agreement was reached with the State Premiers in June that the Australian Government would from 1 January 1974 take over the financial commitment of the States to approved programs for the remainder of the triennium 1973-75 in respect of universities and colleges of advanced education. The Australian Government will also finance teachers colleges and pre-school teachers colleges to the levels recommended by the Cohen Committee on teacher education. The additional cost to the Government in the present financial year is estimated at $144m, but will be more than double this amount in the 1974-75 financial year. The Government will provide a further $33m in this financial year as its share in the program for teacher education recommended by the Cohen Committee. This includes funds for the development of library materials - SI. 5m in the remainder of the triennium. The high quality and professionalism of the teacher must surely be the most vital input into the education process. While dealing with the tertiary and post-secondary measures, I must mention the abolition of fees. The Government has decided, as announced earlier this year, to abolish tuition and related fees in universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges and technical colleges. The cost of this program will be S27m for tertiary fees and S7m for fees in technical colleges during the 6 months January-June 1974.
Some innovation is to be introduced into the method of financing tertiary education to make specific allowance for cost rise. Since grants to universities and colleges of advanced education are determined from 1 to 4 years ahead of actual expenditure, these institutions find their financial resources, strained in periods when costs rise more rapidly than might reasonably have been anticipated. The Government has decided ‘hat from the beginning of 1974 it will provide adjustments to approved programs of expenditure to take account of variations in costs for both capital and recurrent expenditure which were not allowed for when the programs were adopted.
The Government has accepted the salary increases for academic staff at universities and colleges of advanced education recommended by Mr Justice Campbell in a report tabled in May 1973. The increases are retrospective to 1 January 1973 and are estimated to cost the Government more than $ 16.5m in this financial year. When the Government assumes full responsibility for the funding of tertiary education from 1 January 1974 the cost to the Government in the first full year is expected to be $48m. Recommendations made in the report for a permanent tribunal to review and determine academic salaries arc currently being studied.
Following a long period of indecision by the previous Government, we have decided to put into effect the recommendations of a committee of overseas experts for the establishment of a national postgraduate school of management education at the University of New South Wales. We consider it essential that postgraduate management education facilities of the highest quality should be offered in Australia and will provide the sum of $2,330,000 during the 1973-75 triennium. From and including 1976 funds lor this national school will be provided on the recommendation of the Australian Universities Commission as part of the normal triennial university program. An amount of $350,000 has been allocated in this Budget to enable the project to be commenced. Associated with upgrading the quality of management education in Australia is the need to increase the supply of quality teachers, both foi the national school and for other schools of management education. To meet this need the Government will award scholarships to enable Australian graduates of high quality to undertake doctoral studies overseas. An amount of $50,000 is provided in this financial year to enable the first of these awards to be made as soon as possible.
In passing I should also like to say that the inquiry set up by this Government into an open university is proceeding Submissions are being considered, and the present timetable of the chairman is for a report to be ready early in 1974.
Technical and Further Education
The Government has established the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education, which will be concerned with the complex and diverse field of post-school education, other than tertiary education. This Committee will become a commission as soon as appropriate legislation can be introduced. The Committee has commenced intensive investigations on which its report to the Government will be based. Programs of assistance arising from the Committee’s recommendations will commence in July 1974.
As an interim measure supplementary grants totalling $10m will be made available to the States for technical education during the 1973-74 financial year. These supplementary grants are in addition to the balance of the $36m made available to the States under the program during the 3-year period from 1 July 1971 to 30 June 1974. The total of $25.6m for 1973-74 will enable the States to provide urgent capital works for technical education during the interim period before assistance is based on the recommendations of the Technical and Further Education Commission.
Primary and Secondary Education
Legislation will be introduced during this session to establish the Australian Schools Commission. The report of the Interim Committee for the Schools Commission represents a landmark in assistance to Australian Schools. Because the new program begins on 1 January 1974, only half the growth in the first year is reflected in the present Budget for recurrent expenditure and somewhat less than half for capital programs which require longer planning. The provision in the 1973-74 Budget is $97m. The Government’s acceptance of the major recommendations of the Committee will mean new programs from 1974 aimed at improving the quality of education and promoting accessibility to education. Both government and non-government schools will receive substantial additional funds to meet general recurrent costs and for new and replacement buildings and equipment.
Special programs will promote rapid development in areas of particular need such as school libraries, teacher development, education of the handicapped and education in socially disadvantaged localities. Educational strategies and techniques must, of course, change to meet changing needs, and the Government will support programs recommended by the Committee to foster innovation and development in primary and secondary education. The special programs for socially disadvantaged schools represent an important departure from Australian traditions in public education. Supplementary funds will be made available to schools identified as being disadvantaged on the basis of certain characteristics of their catchment areas so that they can respond to the particular educational difficulties faced by groups of relatively poor children. The Government’s needs policy requires that special attention and resources be devoted to the education of those groups of children who in the past have had least public money spent on their education because they leave school earlier and gain no benefit from expensive tertiary education facilities. If the revolution in accessibility to education is to be achieved we must discriminate in favour of those children in greatest need.
Pre-Schools and Child Care
The Australian Pre-Schools Committee, which also will become a commission, will report within the next 2 months. Detailed programs will then be developed to implement the Government’s objectives that all children are given the opportunity of one year of preschool and that child care facilities are established to meet the needs of the children of working parents and under-privileged families. An amount of $10m has been provided in the Budget to allow the first stage of activities to commence in January 1974. These funds will be specifically appropriated through legislation to be introduced later this session. Meanwhile grants are being made under the Child Care Act 1972 to assist, establish and operate child care centres. Thirty-eight capital projects involving an estimated commitment of $3.1m have already been approved in principle. An estimated 1,600 new child care places should result. A total of S8.03m is provided in the Budget to cover these and other applications for capital assistance as well as recurrent grants to existing centres approved under the Act. Child care research grants will be financed by a further appropriation of $200,000. Priority is being given to applications from areas of need. Organisations and local authorities in other areas of need are being encouraged to seek grants for the establishment of child care centres. The appropriations for the child care program do not appear in the Budget Speech under ‘Education’ but under the functional classification of Social Security and Welfare’.
We have increased support to the national secretariat of the Australian Pre-Schools Association ($35,400 in 1973-74) which plays an important co-ordinating role in the voluntary pre-school education movement in Australia. The Government’s decision to establish a Pre-Schools Commission will necessarily lead to a review of its relationship with the Association but I have no doubt that the Association will continue to make significant contribution in the vital first stage of education. The Government’s annual grant to the 6 Lady Gowrie Centres with which the Association is also involved will be increased by $44,000 to a total of $275,000 in 1973-74. These centres continue to provide observation and demonstration services for institutions training teachers and other professionapeople.
I turn now to the measures which the Government has adopted for its program of student assistance. This is an important area and it is one in which the Government has taken major initiatives in the creation of betteopportunities for students at all levels of edi cation. The estimated cost of the program in 1973-74 is $86m and will directly involve 1 66,000 students, in addition to the many who will be assisted by the abolition of fees in teritiary and post-secondary courses. The effectiveness of previous schemes has been inhibited by the emphasis placed on competition. This is particularly true of the tertiary scholarship schemes, where for too long a student’s future may have been determined by the loss or gain of a single mark. If we are serious in our desire to provide equal opportunities for all students, so that they may progress to the level of education consistent with their abilities and aspirations, then we must reduce the emphasis on competitive schemes with limited numbers of scholarships and think rather in terms of grants whereby able students are assisted in accordance with their needs. The Government’s program in the field of student assistance has placed great stress upon the removal of the financial barriers to a student’s educational fulfilment.
Assistance for Tertiary Students
I have already spoken about the Government decisions in relation to the abolition of fees at universities, colleges of advanced education and technical colleges. This is only the first step in making tertiary and postsecondary education more readily accessible to able students. As a second step, the Government has decided to introduce a scheme of tertiary and post-secondary allowances. Under this scheme any full-time Australian student enrolled in an approved course at either a university, college of advanced education, teachers college, technical college or agricultural college will be able to apply for a living allowance subject to a means test on family income. The new allowances will replace the Commonwealth University, Commonwealth Advanced Education, and Commonwealth Technical Scholarship Schemes and no new awards will be offered under these schemes in 1974. There will be adequate safeguards to ensure that- students receiving benefits under existing awards are not in any way disadvantaged by the introduction of the new measures.
The conditions of living and dependants’ allowances under the new scheme will be similar to those under existing teritary scholarship schemes. However, the rates of allowance will be raised and the means test will be liberalised. For students living away from home the maximum allowance payable will be $1,400 per annum, a rise of $100 per annum. For those living at home the allowance will be raised from the existing $800 per annum to $850 per annum. The level of the adjusted family income at which these maximum allowances will be payable will be increased from $4,200 a year to $5,300 a year. Students who qualify for the payment of a living allowance under the new scheme will be entitled to 2 other types of benefit, an incidentals allowance and a travel allowance. The incidentals allowance is designed to assist students in meeting the cost of fees such as student representative council, union and sports fees. Eligible students attending universities will receive an incidentals allowance of Si 00 per annum, those at colleges of advanced education $70 per annum, and technical college students $30 per annum.
I would like to digress here to deal specifically with the issue of student union and similar fees on which I have listened to various arguments since the Government indicated that these charges did not come within the proposed fee abolition arrangements. I accept that a complex situation exists and that there are considerable inconsistencies in the present union fee situation. There is furthermore a wide diversity in the facilities which are provided under the auspices of the unions. Because of this diversity I have asked the 2 tertiary Commissions to make an investigation and to suggest guidelines as to what charges should legitimately be met by the Australian Government and what charges should be met by the students themselves. The additional cost of any changes in the present funding arrangements will then have to be examined alongside other priorities.
In 1974 however, the arrangements I have already outlined will apply. The provision of a meanstested incidentals allowance from which student union and similar fees may be paid will ensure that those in need receive assistance to pay the fees. The travel allowance will cover 3 return trips between the student’s home and the institution at which he is enrolled, provided that he must live away from home to attend that institution. It has been estimated that some 55,000 students will receive benefits under the new scheme, whilst a further 20,000 students will continue to receive assistance under existing provisions. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement providing details of tertiary allowances available for 1974.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Earlier this year the Government announced that as a complement to its decision to abolish tuition and certain other compulsory fees at universities, colleges of advanced education, approved teacher raining colleges and technical colleges, it would provide meanstested living and other allowances to all full-time non-bonded Australian students admitted to these courses. The following statement has been prepared to supplement the information provided in the statement to Parliament made by the Minister for Education, Mr Kim E. Beazley, M.P., following the Budget Speech.
The following benefits will be available for 1974:
Because of distance and time involved in daily travel must live away from home in order to attend the institution of their choice.
Who are 21 years of age and wish to live away from home.
Who are ‘independent’ of parental support in that they are married, orphans, wards of the State, are 25 years of age or have maintained themselves without parental support for at least two of the previous five years.
Independent students, unlike others, have the means test applied to their own, and where appropriate,heir spouse’s income and not parental income.
There is a wide variation in the level of incidental fees charged at different institutions and particularly between categories of instituttions. For this reason it has been decided that the incidentals allowance payable should vary as follows: $100 per annum for students in universities $70 per annum for students in colleges of advanced education, teachers’ colleges and similar institutions $30 per annum for students in technical colleges and similar institutions.
It should be noted that the full incidentals allowance will be paid where a student qualifies for a full or part living allowance. It will not be reduced on a sliding scale according to the amount of living allowance received.
When the adjusted family income exceeds $5,300 per annum .ne amount of living allowance will be reduced by $2 for every $10 of income until the family income exceeds $10,600 per annum. After this level, the living allowance will be reduced by $3 foi every $10 of income.
A concession may be made where there are other children in the family undertaking tertiary education with scholarship assistance from schemes other than the Tertiary Allowance Scheme of less than $350 per annum. For instance, where there is one sibling for whom a concession may be made, the rate at which living allowance is reduced is $1 for every $10 of family income between $5,300 and $10,600 per annum and by $1.50 for every $10 of income thereafter. The effect of this concession is shown in the following table:
Students receiving income from other scholarships in excess of $350 will not be eligible for assistance under the Tertiary Allowances Scheme (see ‘Eligibility’ below). However, students receiving income from casual employment and other sources may receive up to $1,500 p.a. without affecting their entitlemment to living allowance. If their income exceeds this level their living allowance will be reduced on a $ for $ basis. Income from employmment during the long vacation will not be taken into account in the assessment of a student’s living allowance.
Bonded students are not eligible for living allowance, although students who are under a bond or similar agreement may become eligible for assistance by arranging to meet the obligations under a bond to the satisfaction of the authorities concerned. Students who receive assistance from unbonded scholarships of $350 p.a. or more will not be eligible for assistance.
There will be no restrictions placed on the age of applicants.
For 1974 the following conditions will apply:-
The general principle will be that students will be eligible for assistance if the institution permits them to proceed to the next year of the course. If, however, a student wishes to transfer to another course, benefits will not be available until he reaches a similar state in the new course, irrespective of his academic record. For example, a student who has completed two years of an Arts degree may transfer to a Medicine degree course, but will not be eligible for assistance until he has completed two years of the Medicine course.
Students enrolled in the following types of courses will be eligible for assistance:
The decision to abolish tuition and certain other compulsory fees at approved tertiary and postsecondary educational institutions will mean that most students will not be required to pay such fees. There are some other institutions, such as the Australian Ballet School, providing courses of an approved standard which will not be covered by the general financing arrangements. It has been decidedthat tuition and other approved fees will be paid for eligible students at such institutions. This assistance will not be subject to means test. Students in these courses will also be eligible for living and other allowances under the Tertiary Allowances Scheme provided they satisfy the means test. Any institution falling within this category will be contacted shortly seeking information to assist the Department of Education in determining whether particular courses should be approved for assistance.
In 1974 no new awards will be offered under the Commonwealth University, Advanced Education and Technical Scholarship Schemes, the Canberra Teacher Education Scholarship Scheme and the Northern Territory Scholarship Scheme.
Current holders of awards who propose to undertake full-time study in 1974, will be transferred to the new Scheme. Continuing Scholarship holders who receive living allowance will also be granted an incidentals allowance from which they may pay representative council, union or sport union fees. Arrangements will be made to pay these fees on behalf of continuing students who do not qualify for living allowance under the new scheme. Scholarship holders proceeding on a part-time basis will be covered by a similar arrangement.
Arrangements have been made to continue assistance to holders of awards under the Technical Scholarship Scheme who are engaged in secondary level courses. Students undertaking courses approved under the Tertiary Allowances Scheme will be transferred to the new scheme, although provision will be made for them to continue receiving similar benefits to the present Technical Scholarship Scheme if they so choose.
Students who do not hold a Commonwealth Scholarship will be able to obtain application forms and information booklets from their educational institutions about the middle of October. They will also be askedto return their completed forms by 31 October or as soon as possible thereafter,
The following are the addresses of State Offices of the Department of Education:
NEW SOUTH WALES
Regional Director, New South Wales State Office, Department of Education, Sydney Plaza Building, 59 Goulburn Street, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000. G.P.O. Box 3987, Sydney, N.S.W. 2001. Telephone 20 323.
Regional Director, Victorian State Office, Department of Education, 450 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004. Telephone 26 72988.
Regional Director, Queensland State Office, Deparment of Education, 167 Eagle Street, Brisbane, Queensland 4000. G.P.O. Box 586, Brisbane, Queensland 4001. Telephone 29 4522.
Regional Director, South Australian State Office, Department of Education, Red Cross House, 228 North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000. Telephone 23 2416.
Regional Director. Western Australian Sta.e Office, Department of Education, 22 Stirling Highway, Nedlands, Western Australia 6009. P.O. Box 59,
Regional Director, A.C.T. Scholarships Office, City Education Centre, Acton, A.C.T. 2601. P.O. Box 1573, Canberra City, A.C.T. 2601. Telephone 47 0022
– I thank the House.
Assistance for Isolated Children
Earlier this year the Government announced a significant program of assistance for isolated children which was implemented immediately. Under this scheme primary and secondary students whose homes are in remote areas and who do not have reasonable daily access to normal school facilities are assisted to live away from home so that they may attend school. In addition to boarding allowances and an allowance for correspondence studies, the isolated children’s scheme makes provision for the payment of a supplementary allowance to meet cases of particular hardship. This scheme is expected to cost $9.8m in this financial year. My Department will shortly be commencing a review of the scheme in co-operation with other education authorities to assess the effectiveness of this new program. As a related measure, the Government has agreed to meet the cost of replacing radio transceiver sets leased by authorities in the States and the Northern Territory to parents for use in connection with Schools of the Air. Because of a technical change in the mode of radio transmission, most sets now in use will have to be replaced by December 1977. One hundred thousand dollars will be provided for this purpose in 1973-74 and similar amounts in each of the next 2 years.
Assistance for Children of Low Income Families
There are estimated to be some 200,000 children in schools who come from homes with incomes at or below $3,100 per annum (that is, about $40 a week below the national average). Some 10,000 of these children continue to the final 2 years of secondary education. Beginning with the 1974 school year, all parents with children in the final 2 years of secondary education will be able to apply for an allowance subject to a means test on the family income. The maximum value of the allowance will be $304 per annum- $150 for clothing, $50 for books, $104 for pocket money - a total of $608 for a child at school for 2 years. The maximum allowance will be payable where the adjusted family income does not exceed $3,100 per annum. Honourable members I think will recognise that there will be many children of age and invalid pensioners, deserted wives and so on in this category.
Emphasis will be placed on a family’s current financial position. Students who qualify for this assistance will also be eligible to receive benefits from the Commonwealth senior secondary scholarship scheme should they win an award. For the 10,000 students estimated to be eligible for the new allowance the annual cost of the scheme will be about $2.5m. An amount of $ 1.75m has been provided in the 1973-74 Budget to meet estimated costs in the first half of 1974. This educational assistance scheme for poverty will await further development, we hope, from the recommendations of Professor Henderson’s Committee on Poverty. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard an information statement on the secondary allowances scheme.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
This statement provides information about the Australian Government’s new measures to assist families with limited financial resources to maintain their children at school for the final two years of secondary education. The benefits under this new scheme, to be known as the Secondary Allowances Scheme, will be subject to a means test on family income and will be available to eligible families as from the beginning of the 1974 school year.
Under the scheme a single allowance will be paid with a maximum value of $304 per annum. Payment of the allowance will be subject to a means test, the details of which are contained in an appendix to this statement.
Conditions of Eligibility
How to apply for assistance
The scheme will be administered by the Regional Offices of the Australian Government Department of Education. These offices will provide application forms on request and will be responsible for processing payment of benefits. A list of addresses is given below. The appropriate forms will be available later in the year, when full publicity for the scheme will be given through schools and the media.
Regional Director, N.S.W. Office, Department of Education, La Salle Building, Corner King and Castlereagh Streets, SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2001.
Regional Director, Queensland Office, Department of Education, Australian Government Centre, 295 Ann Street, BRISBANE, QLD 4000.
Regional Director, Western Australian Office, Department of Education, 20-22 Stirling Highway, NEDLANDS, W.A. 6009.
The Director of Education, (Northern Territory Community Schools), Northern Territory Office, Department of Education, P.O. Box 4821, DARWIN, N.T. 5794.
Regional Director, Victorian Office, Department of Education, 450 St Kilda Road, MELBOURNE, VIC. 3004.
Regional Director, South Australian Office, Department of Education, Red Cross House, 228 North Terrace, ADELAIDE, S.A. 5000.
Regional Director, Tasmanian Office, Department of Education, Magnet Court. Sandy Bay Road, SANDY BAY, TAS. 7005.
The Regional Director, A.C’.T. Scholarships Office, City Education Centre, University Avenue, ACTON, A.C.T. 2601.
Explanatory Statement - Means Test
These notes explain briefly the operation of the means test which will determine a family’s entitlement to assistance under the new scheme.
Entitlement to benefits will be based on the gross (not the taxable) income of both parents for the calendar year in respect of which an application for assistance is lodged, less the deductions listed below. The income for the previous six months will also be taken into account. This means that parents applying for assistance in 1974 will be required to provide the Department with details of their actual income in the period July,December 1973 and estimates of their income for the periods January-June, and JulyDecember 1974.
The following deductions will be permitted from the gross family income for the purpose of determining the adjusted family income on the basis of which a family’s entitlement will be assessed:
The maximum allowance of $304 will be payable where the adjusted family income (the gross family income less the deductions shown above) does not exceed $3,100 p.a. For every $5 by which the adjusted family income exceeds $3,100 the amount of the allowance will be reduced by $1. The minimum allowance payable for any one child will be$15 p.a. which will be paid where the adjusted family income does not exceed $4,545 p.a.
Normally the allowance will be paid in three instalments, one in each term. Statements of income from the parents will be required on a regular basis to determine the parents’ continued eligibility for assistance.
– I thank the House.
After careful examination of the Commonwealth post-graduate award schemes the Government has decided to make more awards available and to increase the benefits payable under them. The number of research awards will be raised from 700 to 725 and the present allocation of course awards will be increased from 100 to 150. In recognition of the postgraduate studies now being undertaken in colleges of advanced education a new scheme of 20 awards will begin in 1974. These awards will be reserved for post-graduate students at colleges of advanced education.
The annual stipend payable to the holder of a Commonwealth post-graduate award is $2,900. The Government has decided to raise this to $3,050 per annum. In addition there will be increases in other benefits. For those who wish to have further details of the various changes in the student assistance program, a supplementary statement is available. The new measures which the Government has introduced in the student assistance program in my view mark a significant advance in achieving what must be the ultimate aim of the program, namely, the removal of direct financial barriers to the attainment of a student’s educational goals. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement providing information on postgraduate award schemes.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The following notes amplify changes to be made in these schemes in 1974 as outlined by the Minister for Education, Mr Kim E. Beazley, M.P., in his speech in Parliament.
Living allowance will be increased from $2,900 p.a. to $3,050 p.a.
Establishment allowance will be increased from $50 to $75 for single students and from $100 to $150 for married students.
Thesis allowance will be increased from $100 to $150 for a Master’s thesis and to $250 for a Ph.D. thesis.
An Incidental Allowance of $100 p.a. will be payable to assist students in meeting the cost of fees such as student representative council, union and sports fees.
Up to 20 awards with the same benefits as for Commonwealth Post-graduate Research and Course Awards will be made available in 1974 for students undertaking approved Master’s degree courses at colleges of advanced education.
-I thank the House.
There are a number of special groups in the community whose education demands greater efforts and sympathy. The education of physically and mentally handicapped children receives particular attention in the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. From a projected program of $43.5m during 1974 and 1975, an estimated $7.7m will be spent in this year on the education of handicapped children including capital facilities, recurrent grants and inservice training courses. In this connection I should mention also the $1.5m for the triennium to be allocated by the Australian Commission on Advanced Education to teachers colleges for increasing the number of students training to become teachers of the handicapped.
The Aboriginal people are another group for whom the Australian Government and community cannot fail to have deep concern. My particular responsibility is for the education of Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. I have placed a high priority on the need to upgrade the standard of buildings and associated facilities on missions and settlements where there is a predominantly Aboriginal community. A significant step will be the planning of a community school at Yirrkala in north eastern Arnhem Land. This school will provide the most up-to-date comprehensive educational facilities so far envisaged for an Aboriginal community and will enable educational programs to be provided from preschool to adult levels. I intend to place before the Government a long term program to upgrade the standard of these schools throughout the Northern Territory.
A matter of considerable interest in recent months has been the appointment of the first 14 Aboriginal teachers to the Commonwealth Teaching Service. The Government looks forward to the contribution these teachers will make, not only to the bilingual education program but also to enabling our schools to contribute in a more direct manner to the educational needs of our Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. The Darwin Community College is being assisted to set up courses of teacher education designed to increase the professional qualifications of Aboriginal teachers already appointed and to train other Aboriginal teachers. These courses should commence in 1974.
As a general measure of assistance to Aboriginals in the States and Australian territories, the Government has extended the Aboriginal secondary grants scheme to all children of Aboriginal descent in secondary schools. The number receiving assistance has almost doubled to 9,000 in 1973 and the estimated cost of the scheme in this financial year will be $5. 7m. In addition, grants to assist the extension and improvements of educational facilities for Aboriginals living within the States are made by my colleague, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant), under the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Act. Additional pre-schools, homework centres, teaching materials, in-service courses for teachers, conference and research activities are some of the items resulting from this Australian Government assistance. These grants are to be increased substantially in 1973-74, to a total of $4.6m.
Migrant children are yet another group to be given additional assistance to help overcome their difficulties in school. The incidence of children of migrants from non-English speaking countries was an important element in the criteria adopted by the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission in developing its special program for disadvantaged schools in which it is estimated that $8m will be spent this year. The acute shortage of accommodation for migrant children attending special English classes revealed by a Melbourne survey which I tabled on 5 April, has led the Government, by reversing a decision of the previous Government, to provide funds for accommodation for the child migrant education program. The Government will provide, as an emergency measure, funds over a 2-year period commencing 1 July 1973 for the purchase of demountable classroom accommodation at State and non-government schools for use in the special instruction of migrant children.
An amount of $2m has been included in the 1973-74 Budget. Funds for the second year will be determined after the first year of operation and will be reviewed in the light of other measures of Government financial support for school buildings. The funds for this scheme will be a charge under the child migrant education vote of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) for which the total provided in this year’s Budget has risen to more than $10.5m.
Australia lags seriously in the field of educational research. The Government has responded by placing the program of the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education on a triennial basis. A sum of $1.5m will be made available to the end of 1975. This includes $350,000 for the 1973-74 financial year. In addition to awarding grants for research proposals, the Committee will commission larger scale cooperative projects in areas of fundamental importance. The Committee expects also to formulate and sponsor training programs to improve the supply of qualified and experienced research workers.
The Government will provide the basic funding to establish and maintain a curriculum development centre as an independent statutory organisation with its own governing council. The centre will undertake a variety of tasks including the development of teaching and learning materials for use in schools; the support of curriculum and materials development at regional and local levels; publication of assessments and information about equipment and materials from other sources; and the provision of advisory services from outside sources. The centre is expected to provide for any continuing aspects of the Australian science education project such as review and reprints after the present work is completed in March 1974. An amount of $500,000 has been provided towards the establishment of the centre in this financial year, with a projected expenditure of $1.5m over the first 2 financial years. State education authorities are co-operating.
Education in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory
Educational developments in the Australian Government’s Territories deserve mention. These systems have continued to respond to rapid growth in population which is occurring both in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. After a long period of co-operation with the States of New South Wales and South Australia, the Australian Government is nearing the point of assuming full responsibility. A schools authority is about to be set up to administer and provide education in the Australian Capital Territory. In the Northern Territory, my Department, through its Northern Territory Division, will administer the system there. The Government’s recent decision to place all education in the Northern Territory under the administration of my Department is, I am convinced, a necessary step in achieving balanced development.
In case it may seem that the Government is concerned only with internal issues in education, I do not wish to let this occasion go by without reference to a new program of awards at the international level, which will extend the support already given, both directly and indirectly, to many thousands of foreign students in Australia. For some years, a number of European governments have provided scholarships of various kinds to enable Australians to study in European universities and other institutions. The Government recognises the importance of continuing and expanding our educational contacts with European countries, and with this in mind has established a scheme which will enable scholars and educators from Europe to visit and study in Australia. The scheme, to be known as the Australian European awards program, should bring the first group of scholars to
Australia for the 1974 academic year. Two types of awards are envisaged - scholarships for postgraduate study at Australian tertiary institutions and fellowships for senior scholars for short-term visits. In a full year of operation, some 20 awards will be made at a cost of $90,000. The provision in the 1973-74 financial year is $25,000. The program will stimulate contacts between Australian and European institutions, and will provide the opportunity for useful discussions and exchanges of knowledge at a high level.
Another important international activity in education in which this Government participates fully is the scheme of Commonwealth co-operation in education. The provision for this scheme in the Budget for 1973-74 is $l.lm which will be used to support visits by senior educators from other Commonwealth countries, awards for academic training and practical experience in education in Australia, as well as the provision of Australian consultants to assist the advancement of education in developing Commonwealth countries.
I have not attempted in my statement to deal with all the initiatives taken by this Government which have contributed to a reallocation of resources to education. The programs I have outlined demonstrate the Government’s resolve to transform accessibility to all sectors of education especially for those Australians whose educational and social opportunities are most seriously limited at present. This was the purpose of planning to make university, college of advanced education and technical education free. It is the purpose behind increasing living allowances for tertiary students and liberalising the means test in respect of those allowances. It explains why Aboriginal secondary education grants have been extended to all Aboriginal children at secondary level and why grants have been established for isolated children and extended to isolated children who have handicaps or who want to undergo a form of technical education in the equivalent of the last 2 years of high school. It is the reason why certain Aboriginal schools will be conducting elementary education in the vernacular. It is the reason why grants will be made to cases of students suffering hardship for the last 2 years of secondary education. In this our first Budget, we have demonstrated in positive terms a determination to remove barriers to effective educational opportunity for Australians and we are determined to give education a continuing high priority in the distribution of resources.
I present the following paper:
Government Initiatives in Education - Ministerial Statement, 23 August 1973.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Wannon speaking for a period not exceeding 45 minutes.
– I thank the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) for his courtesy and the House for its courtesy, but I trust that I will not take the full time that has been made available to me. The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has made a lengthy and detailed statement on the Government’s education program. I think that all parties in this Parliament would have a very considerable degree of unanimity in the objectives that they would want to achieve in many of the areas of education. We all want to see equality of opportunity for all children. We all want to see disadvantaged children given special assistance so that they may have a proper opportunity to take their full place in Australian society. I think that the differences between us come in the manner and method which we would use to achieve the objective, in the degree of centralism that the present Government would want and is in fact establishing and in the attitude that the Government has adopted to a certain limited category of schools - an attitude which the Opposition does not support.
I am glad, in particular, that the Government has expanded the migrant education program and that it has acted as a result of a survey that was established by the previous Government of 60 or so inner city schools in Victoria, largely in the inner city area of Melbourne. That survey was established by the former Minister for Immigration and the former Minister for Education because of the real problems of which people were aware in migrant education. I am glad also to see that there are special programs to support and assist disadvantaged schools. One need only look at the inner city schools of Melbourne and of Sydney, those especially with a high percentage of migrant children, and those with a high percentage of parents who very often are unable to speak English, to know that there are many problems in this area. They are not only problems of the schools themselves; they are problems that go beyond the school boundary into the home. It is not going to be enough merely to improve schools and merely to provide specialist teachers in these areas. A link between the home and the school will have to be established by specialist personnel, social workers and psychologists, in a way which really has not been undertaken to a great extent but which was begun by the previous Government in relation to the migrant education program. The expansion of programs in those areas is welcomed.
There is one point that needs to be clarified because this House and the people of Australia have been led to believe that the Government is spending on education an additional $404m or 92 per cent more than was spent last financial year. Although it has allocated $404m out of its own Budget, the figures represent a sleight of hand. That amount is not the net additional expenditure on education under this Budget. The net additional expenditure is very much less. Of the $404m an amount of $ 144.6m is a straight transfer payment from the States to the Commonwealth, representing expenditure in the last 6 months of this financial year when the Commonwealth Government will take over all tertiary education. It may have been additional expenditure if the States still had available to them that amount of $144m for expenditure on education of which they have been relieved. But they do not have that amount available to them because their general recurrent grants from the Commonwealth have been reduced by that amount of money. No doubt next year, when the Commonwealth will be financing tertiary education for a full year for the first time, the States will have a further amount taken from their recurrent grants. Therefore that amount is not additional expenditure. It is merely a transfer of expenditure.
There is one aspect of this transfer of expenditure which I think is unfortunate. It now means that, while universities, colleges of advanced education and teachers colleges are established by State law and are largely responsible to the States, the financing of them will be- solely a matter for another government which does not establish them. That means that there will be complete central authority. There already has been evidence that the present Commonwealth Government will pay no heed to the States concerned in regard to where they want a new university to be located or what kind of a new college of advanced education a State wants to establish. After long and intensive studies in Victoria there was a recommendation and a decision by the Victorian Government that a multicampus university should be established to specialise in external studies. It was, if you like, the forerunner of an open university. It was decided that there would be study centres at a number of sites throughout Victoria and the campus would be at 3 main sites. Without any consultation with the Victorian Government, a Commonwealth committee recommended that there should be an additional university somewhere near the Dandenongs. It was to be another city based, centralised university. It would have put back the clock and it may still do so if this Government is determined to use its financial authority and financial power to do what it wants and to ignore the wishes of Victoria and the generally accepted Victorian decision and position which supported the view of the Victorian Government. So there are dangers in this transfer of expenditure which will give total authority to the Commonwealth in these matters.
An amount of $90m in that $404m additional expenditure stems from the reports of the Australian Universities Commission, the Australian Commission on Advanced Education and the Cohen report on teacher training. The first 2 reports were fully accepted by the previous Government, except for one item involving an amount of S5m. The Cohen Committee on teacher training was established by the previous Government with a requirement that it report before 30 March this year. That specialist committee also was charged with the responsibility of making recommendations in regard to the training of teachers of the handicapped and children with special learning difficulties because it had been the view of the previous Government that this was an area that had not had sufficient and adequate attention. I am glad to see that the present Government, without having, I think, altered the terms of reference of that Committee, has accepted its recommendations, I believe, in their entirety. So there is a bipartisan policy in that area. That means that of the $404m an amount of $90m in fact was committed by the previous Government and therefore is not net additional expenditure allocated by the present Government.
– That is not the Cohen report. We added $104m of Commonwealth liability. That Committee recommended Commonwealth expenditure of $84m. We made it SI 88m.
-The Cohen report, as I understand it, recommended a total of $21 2m additional expenditure.
– An amount of $123m from the States. Now the States have to find only $22m.
– But there is a transfer payment in that, as I thought I had explained earlier, because the money that the Commonwealth is providing to finance tertiary education fully is being subtracted from the general grants made available to the States via Premiers Conferences. It is my understanding that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made a statement to that effect after the last Premiers Conference. So, it does not represent a net addition to expenditure on education. It is a transfer of expenditure, and that needs to be understood. Unless that is understood, the amount of $404m is not put into proper perspective. I believe also that that amount of $90m which is additional expenditure as a result of the reports of the 2 tertiary education commissions and of the Cohen Committee in this financial year is expenditure that in fact was committed by the previous Government.
To continue analysing this $404m, an amount of SI 2m is for additional expenditure on Aboriginal study grants and education and also migrant education. The $12m covers the 2 programs. I have already said that the Opposition applauds the expansion of the child migrant education program flowing from a survey which was commissioned last year. The education scheme for Aborigines has been extended by the present Government into the full area of secondary education. At this stage I have no quarrel with that proposition - in fact I support it - ‘because it also gives support for isolated children. I believe that there would have been too great a discrimination in favour of one area if the Aboriginal study grant scheme had been extended to cover the full area of secondary education and special provision for isolated children had not been made at the same time.
That is a view that I have held for quite some time. I am glad to see that there is provision for isolated children. While the present proposal is different from the previous Government’s proposal, nonetheless the scheme is working, I am told. As I understand the position, it has given to people in isolated areas more than they asked for and more than they expected.
An additional amount of $26m is to be spent on technical education. Some part of that additional expenditure is a steal of a policy item from the previous Government which was defeated last year. I am not criticising the present Government for doing that. I am glad that it thought the policy was worth adopting and implementing. But there are additional expenditures in this area. There is an additional amount of SI Om for preschools. The previous Government’s commitment was for S25m a year. It would not have been S25m in the first year because the program could not have been geared up that quickly. Then there is a larger amount of $97m of additional expenditure recommended in the Karmel report. That would mean a total additional expenditure of S467m on education over a 2-year period. I think some reports have suggested that additional funds amounting to $693m are available for education, but this is not so because that amount includes many on-going programs which were commenced by the previous Government. The additional expenditure recommended by the Karmel Committee was $467m. of which $97m has been allocated in the Budget. Therefore, these specific expenditure items which I have mentioned, including the transfer payment of almost $150m from the States to the Commonwealth, total $390m of that amount of $404m. The other matters are minor incidentals. If the transfer of expenditure of $144m is subtracted from the total additional expenditure it gives a figure of S260m. This, to a much more accurate extent, gives an indication of the increased expenditure under this Budget.
But I have already indicated that there are many similarities between the policies of this Government and the policies of the former Government concerning tertiary education, the Australian Universities Commission, colleges of advanced education and the adoption of the Cohen Committee recommendations which will add an amount of $90m this year. There are also similarities in regard to the study grants scheme for Aborigines and the migrant education program. What has been done represents a logical extension of previous policies. I was delighted to hear the Minister make reference to the fact that 14 Aborigine teachers are now enrolled in the Commonwealth Teaching Service. This is a noticeable step forward. I would be interested to know whether those 14 benefited from the Aborigines study grant proposal. I should like to think that they had and that this was a result of it.
The proposals for isolated children, foi technical education, for pre-schools, and as incorporated in part of the Karmel report, the primary school libraries, were proposals of all political parties before the last election, as also were proposals for specific disadvantage schools, whether those schools be government or non-government schools. At the outset I stress the importance of additional attention being paid to this area.
If one can criticise the past - I think it is perhaps legitimate for the Opposition to do this - there is probably an under-estimation of the problem that has been placed upon educational authorities by an immigration program that for a while introduced into Australia people who had had only 2 or 3 years schooling even in their own language. That level of literacy in their own language poses very severe problems of a social and human kind in Australia. The child from such a family is now in an Australian school. The mother speaks a foreign language and probably has not the capacity to learn English. The father learns some English at work but when the child goes back to the home environment there is probably often tension and difficulty if there is an attempt to speak English because the mother does not understand and does not want to be left out. So in the home environment there is a reversion to the native tongue. I think that in this kind of home and this kind of environment there are potential problems which will be difficult to overcome and which will need, as I have said, something going beyond the school boundaries - something that reaches out into the home and tries to establish a close link between the home and the school.
I know that a number of schools have specific programs for this particular purpose but I believe they need additional help with social workers and psychologists and other specialists of one kind or another. The Government has substantially changed, as was foreshadowed in its policy speech, the student assistance program. It has abolished a system of scholarships and has introduced a system of living allowances. It has also abolished fees. I think that the Government having made this policy decision one or two comments ought to be made about it. There will now be a greater responsibility on tertiary institutions themselves to maintain the academic performance of their students. They will have to look very closely to see how long a student who does not perform well and who does not pass examinations is allowed to stay within the university or college.
Before, under the scholarships scheme, there was a responsibility on the Government paying the scholarship or the department administering the scholarship to see that academic performance was achieved. This was not administered harshly but at least there was some stimulation to success, and I think that is still required. There is another point which I think might have been overlooked in the changes that have been made, although I have not had time to look at the detailed provisions of the changed arrangements that the Minister has tabled, and that involves the possible effect on residential colleges in universities or colleges of advanced education. Most of the people who attend residential colleges do so because they live in areas remote from universities and colleges. Therefore, if they are to attend university or a tertiary education institution they either have to board outside the university or live in a residential college. Because of the impact of the means test and because of the changed financial arrangements, it might well be that there will be fewer people in universities and colleges who are able to afford positions at residential colleges. Indeed the new arrangements might well operate to the significant disadvantage of people who did not live close to a university or college of advanced education. I ask the Minister to watch that position closely.
The Minister emphasised the need for more educational research. The previous Government some years ago established the Australian Committee on Research and Development in Education. One of the things to which the Committee was meant to be devoting a significant part of its attention was the way in which it could train additional research workers because for a considerable time this was the limiting factor on the funds made available for research. I am disappointed that that Committee has not been able to achieve a greater degree of success in this respect. I do not think this would be really likely, but the Government may have placed an arbitrary limit on the Committee by increasing the funds by only $30,000. The limit on what the Committee could do in the past was the limit of available research workers in whom the Committee had sufficient confidence. I am disappointed that the Committee has not been able to make greater progress in overcoming that problem if that is still the road block to greater activity by the Committee. Perhaps later in the debate the Minister could let us know if that is so.
I have some reservations about the formation of a central curriculum development organisation on a permanent basis, not because -1 do not want to see the Commonwealth involved in curriculum development on a wide front. I do, and it has been so involved in a number of significant areas. But I believe that once a permanent organisation is established for curriculum development it will grow and seek to expand its activities into every area of curriculum in primary and secondary schools. I believe that the former approach which involved the co-operation and interest of the States was probably the better one. I think it was also probably the better approach having in mind the widely differing disciplines and different subjects that are involved. To have special teams put together for a specific curriculum project, if this central body is to do this, means it will be hiring and firing people over a continuous period because a person appropriate to one curriculum development project very often would not be appropriate to another. So such a body would not be able to offer continuous employment. If it does seek to offer continuous employment and do the work with its own staff I see considerable difficulties and problems.
– It will be working jointly with the States, and the State Ministers welcomed it.
– If the States welcomed it and if continuing co-operation is the hallmark of its activities and if specialist teams are to be put together for particular tasks with the agreement of the States, that would be one thing. If that is what the Minister has in mind I would not argue greatly with him over it. But if there is an attempt for this to be just a Commonwealth curriculum development project that will do all the work and establish its own empire I would have objections to it.
The Minister suggested that the establishment of a management school at the University of New South Wales had not been carried out due to indecision by the previous Government and implied that a decision had not been made. Of course a decision had been made to establish the management school at the University of New South Wales and what delay did occur occurred because the Government of the day wanted to be sure that industry and commerce were really behind the project and would support it and use it. I am glad to see that the decision that we came to has been endorsed by the present Government. In a number of these areas, as will be plain to honourable members of this House, there is a considerable degree of similarity in the policies of the Government and the Opposition. But there are significant differences. The mechanisms that the Government has chosen to introduce a number of its policies and to administer a number of its policies are mechanisms that the former Government would not have accepted. The Opposition would have wanted more consultation with the States than has in fact taken place. We would not have wanted to remove from the States responsibility for their universities and colleges of advanced education and therefore any direct capacity to influence where new institutions might be established - to influence what might happen within their own boundaries. State Ministers have indicated already that the Governments proposals are likely to turn State Ministers and their departments into post offices. That would not be to the advantage of education in Australia. The mechanisms - the degree of control that the Commonwealth is trying now to establish - are mechanisms that we would not want to see put into effect.
The second major difference, of course, concerns independent schools. The Opposition has the same view as does the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) who is obviously a minority in his Cabinet and in his Ministry. We agree with his somewhat courageous statement that the Commonwealth ought to accept and indentify an interest with the educa tion of every child. When he said that, the Minister for Education specifically mentioned a school which I am sometimes falsely accused of having attended - Geelong Grammar School. One of the disturbing features of the Minister’s defeat in this particular area is that a number of assurances were given over a considerable period of time and those assurances have, in fact, been broken. I think the House and the people of Australia should know that this has happened. On 2 May 1972 the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at the Festival Hall in Melbourne - the tape recording of his speech is still in existence - in front of nearly 4,000 people said:
We want to remove the inequalities ‘ in Australian education and these are greatest in the nongovernment sector. And my party believes that where the need is greatest then the greatest assistance should be given. We will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which are there already.
That statement was made by the then Leader of the Opposition on 2 May 1972. In case anyone thought that he was referring only to provisions existing on 2 May 1972 and that a policy announced on 11 May 1972 would not be covered by that statement, 1 refer to the speech he made on 20 June 1972 - after the last significant policy by the previous Government was announced in this area. Speaking to a chosen audience on ‘The Commonwealth and the Schools’ at the Catholic Luncheon Club of Melbourne on Tuesday, 20 June 1972, the present Prime Minister said:
The ALP has never voted against any bill proposing Commonwealth aid for education and it will support any forms of benefit already existing.
That was a clear and precise commitment given by the Prime Minister at that time. After the election on 13 December 1972 the Prime Minister gave the same commitment in a letter to the Chairman of the National Council of Independent Schools when he wrote:
Per capita grants to non-government schools for the year 1973 will be paid at the rate already approved for 1973 under the provisions of that Act, i.e. $62 per primary pupil and $104 per secondary pupil. Commencing in 1974 additional Commonwealth contributions towards the running costs of non-government schools will be determined on the basis of relative need as assessed by the Interim Committee.
The word ‘additional’ is the key word. It was meant to apply to the additional funds - additional to those that were already being paid. That was the third commitment to maintain policies that were in existence already. It was a commitment thrice made and now broken. It was not only the Prime Minister who made that kind of commitment. The present Minister for Education made a commitment by proxy on, I think, 20 November last year. He was approached by a group of schools and asked a number of questions. The first question he was asked was: ‘Is it the intention of the Federal Labor Government to continue per capita aid to independent schools for 1974 and following years?’ The clear intention of that question, as the Minister would know, was related to the continuance of per capita grants on the basis then existing. The Minister answered the question with the one simple word ‘yes’- 1 think it is significant that commitments given 3 times by the Prime Minister and probably more than once by the present Minister for Education - against his own inclinations as he very honestly and courageously said in this Parliament on an earlier occasion - have, in fact, been broken.
Schools in Category C must now be wondering and be concerned as to whether next year, as a result of being able to hire additional teachers because of the payments that they will get this year, they will find themselves in category B and the year after in category A. If one looks at the record of the policy arguments of the Australian Labor Party on this particular question, this would appear to be the inevitable result. I should like to thank the House for its courtesy and for the time allowed me to speak to the motion. I hope this debate will be resumed because this is a most important subject and one which involves the whole future of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned. (Quorum formed).
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise revisions to the financial assistance grants arrangements agreed between the Australian and State Governments at the Premiers’ Conference held on 28 and 29 June 1973, namely: The reductions to the financial assistance grants which it was agreed would accompany the transfer to the Australian Government of financial responsibility for tertiary education as from January 1974; the payment in 1973- 74 of special additional revenue assistance of $25m to the States to be distributed between them in proportion to the formula grants; and the payment of grants to Western Australia in 1973-74 and 1974-75 additional to those authorised by present legislation.
The financial assistance grants at present being paid to the States are authorised by the States Grants Act 1971-1972. In view of the fact that the provisions of a substantial number of sections of this Act are no longer operative and unnecessarily complicate the Act, it has been decided to provide for an entirely new Act. Apart from the deletion of these inoperative sections and the new provisions to effect the revisions referred to above the form of the legislation follows closely that of the present legislation.
The present financial assistance arrangements were originally settled at the June 1970 Premiers Conference and were intended to apply over the 5 years to 1974-75. However, the arrangements have been substantially revised on a number of occasions since then, principally by the provision of additional grants and by adjustments which accompanied the transfer of payroll tax to the States, although the formula incorporated in the arrangements has not been altered.
I turn now to discuss the 3 revisions to the arrangements in more detail. At the Premiers Conference in June the States accepted the Australian Government’s offer to assume full financial responsibility for financing tertiary education from 1 January 1974, and it was agreed that estimated amounts of recurrent expenditure of which the States would thereby be relieved should be deducted from the financial assistance grants otherwise payable. The estimated capital expenditures of which the States are to be relieved are being deducted from the States’ Loan Council programs. I will refer to this aspect of the matter in my second reading speech on the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1973.
The reductions from the revenue grants for 1973-74, totalling $1 11.8m, represent estimates of the half-year savings to the States; the amounts for 1974-75, totalling $229.7m represent the estimated full-year savings. These reductions are being made in accordance with a general policy expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his opening speech at the Conference that, where the national Government undertakes new or additional commitments which relieve the States or their authorities of the need to allocate funds for expenditures at present being carried by them, there should be adjustments in the financial arrangements between the 2 levels of government to take account of the shift of new financial responsibilities.
Legislation to authorise the necessary additional grants to the States for tertiary education will be introduced by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) in the present sittings of Parliament. The additional revenue assistance of $25m which the Australian Government agreed to provide to the States in 1973-74 is being paid in recognition of Budget difficulties which they were seen to be facing this year. It is to be distributed between the States in proportion to the grants payable to them in 1973- 74 under the financial assistance grants formula.
At the Premiers Conference the Prime Minister made it clear to the States that the Australian Government does not intend to provide further general revenue assistance to the States in this financial year. We would contemplate providing such assistance only if the States were to face undue difficulties due to factors beyond their control which could not have been foreseen at the time the States’ Budgets were brought down.
The Bill also revises the provision in the existing Act under which grants additional to those calculated under the formula are to be paid to Western Australia in 1973-74 and 1974- 75. (Quorum formed.) Those additional grants were being paid in accordance with a decision taken at the June 1970 Premiers Conference. They were J 12. 5m in 1970-71, $9.5m in 1971-72 and $6.5m in 1972-73 and were to have been $3.5m and $500,000 in 1973-74 and 1974-75 respectively. At the June 1973 Premiers Conference it was agreed that the additional grant payable to Western Australia in 1973-74 should remain at $6.5m instead of being reduced to $3. 5m as provided in the existing legislation. It was agreed at the Conference also that Western Australia would receive an additional temporary grant in 1973-74, the amount of which would be the subject of further discussion between the Australian and Western Australian governments. It has been agreed, following such discussion, that a special temporary addition of $3. 5m - the same as the amount added last year - would be made to the State’s revenue grants in 1973-74. It has also been agreed that the additional financial assistance grant for Western Australia remain at $6.5m in 1974-75. Thus, additional grants to Western Australia totalling $1Om in 1973- 74 and $6.5m in 1974-75 are provided for in the Bill.
Turning to the details of the Bill, the first 5 clauses are of a machinery nature. Clause 6 sets out the manner in which the ‘formula grants’ payable to the States in 1973-74 and subsequent years are to be determined. These grants constitute the bulk of the grants payable under the act. Sub-clause (1.) of this clause sets out the general method of determining these grants. The method is the same as that provided in the existing legislation - that is, the formula grant for each State is calculated by taking that State’s grant for the previous year and increasing it in proportion to the increases in the State’s population and in average wages in Australia as a whole and by a further factor of 1.8 per cent.
Sub-clause (2.) of clause 6 sets out the amounts to be used as the base for purposes of determining the formula grants for 1973-74. These amounts are the actual financial assistance grants paid to each State in 1972-73 under section 7 of the States Grants Act 1971-72, the equivalent section in that Act to this clause, plus an additional $2m in the case of Queensland. This latter addition, in conjunction with sub-clause (4.), continues the arrangement agreed at the June 1970 Premiers Conference and embodied in present legislation that there be an addition of $2m to the ‘base’ for calculating Queensland’s formula grant for each of the 5 years ending 1974-75.
Sub-clause (3.) of clause 6 provides for the reductions to the 1974-75 grants on account of the Australian Government’s assumption of full responsibility for financing tertiary education. As the grants payable under this clause, with the addition of $2m for Queensland, become the base amounts for purposes of calculating the grants in the next year, this provision affects a permanent reduction in the grants. Clause 7 sets out the reductions to be made, on the same account, to the grants which would otherwise be payable under the Act during 1973-74. These reductions do not affect the base amounts for purposes of calculating the grants under the formula in 1974- 75. Clauses 8 and 9 provide, respectively, for the additional revenue assistance of $25m to be divided between all the States and the additional grants to Western Australia. The remaining clauses are mainly of a machinery nature and are similar to those contained in the existing legislation.
Full details of the general revenue assistance to be paid to the States in 1973-74 are given in Chapter II of the Budget document Payments to or for the States 1973-74. Comparison of the amounts of such assistance estimated to be paid in this year with the amounts paid in 1972-73 are affected by the reductions to be made to the 1973-74 grants on account of tertiary education. If, however, the figures for the 2 years are adjusted to make them comparable in this respect, total general revenue assistance estimated to be payable to the States in 1973-74, on assumptions spelt out in the document to which I have referred, will be some 15.6 per cent greater than that paid in 1972-73. This is a substantial increase, which should assist the States to continue to improve the standards of the services they provide. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorrise capital grants to the States in 1973-74 totalling $278,307,000. This represents the grant component of the State Government Loan Council programs for 1973-74. The Bill also provides for the payment of grants in the first 6 months of 1974-75 pending the passage of similar legislation in that year. The Bill provides that the payments authorised in it may be made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or from the Loan Fund, and includes appropriate borrowing authority. As part of the revised revenue assistance arrangements with the State governments settled at the June 1970 Premiers Conference, the Australian Government undertook to provide, on a continuing basis, a portion of the State Government Loan Council programs in the form of interest-free grants in lieu of what would otherwise be borrowings by the States. The grants are designed to help the States finance capital works from which debt charges are not normally recovered, such as schools, police buildings and the like. They are not. however, subject to conditions as to the purposes for which they might be expended. At its meeting in June 1973, the Loan Council approved programs for the State governments totalling $867m, comprising $278,307,000 in the form of grants from the Australian Government and $588,693,000 in the form of borrowings.
In determining the size of the State Government Loan Council programs which the Australian Government should support, 2 special factors had to be taken into account. Firstly, at the Premiers Conference Loan Council meeting new arrangements for financing the construction of welfare housing were agreed upon. Whereas in 1972-73 such expenditures were financed by the States out of their borrowing programs as approved by the Loan Council for that year, they will be financed in 1973-74 and subsequent years by specific purpose advances from the Australian Government under a new housing agreement. Legislation to authorise the payment of these advances will be introduced in these sittings of parliament. Secondly, at the same meeting, the States accepted the Australian Government’s offer to assume full responsibility for financing tertiary education from January 1974 and agreed that their Loan Council programs should be reduced by estimates of the capital expenditures of which they would thereby be relieved. The agreed reductions for 1973-74 total $32.8rn, representing the estimated half year savings to the States, and will total $65.4m for the full year in 1 974-75.
These 2 factors explain why the States’ Loan Council programs for 1973-74 - totalling $867m - are lower than the programs in 1972-73, when they totalled $982m. If adjustments are made to put the programs for both years on a comparable basis, the 1973-74 program is $84.7m, or 10.4 per cent, greater than the 1972-73 program. This is a substantial increase, and it should assist the States in maintaining a high level of capital expenditures. The capital grants represent 32.1 per cent of the total programs. The Australian Government has undertaken to support the States’ borrowing programs by subscribing any shortfall between these programs and amounts available from public borrowings from its own revenue sources. The Loan Council, at its June 1973 meeting, also approved borrowing programs for the larger State semi-government and local authorities totalling $564m, which represents an increase of $5 1.6m, or 10.1 per cent, over total borrowings by these authorities in 1972-73 - again a substantial increase. Larger State authorities are those semi-government and local authorities whose individual borrowings for the year exceed $400,000. The Loan Council, following the practice of recent years, has set no overall limit in 1973-74 on borrowings of authorities whose individual borrowings amount to $400,000 or less. Further details concerning the Loan Council programs of the States and their authorities for 1973-74 may be found in Chapter III of the Budget document ‘Payments to or for the States 1973-74’.
I now turn to the specific provisions of the Bill. It will be noted that besides authorising, in clause 3, the payment of grants to the States totalling $278,307,000 in 1973-74 the Bill, in clause 4, authorises the Treasurer to make advance payments in the first 6 months of 1974-75 at the same annual rate as in the current financial year. The Australian Government has a continuing obligation to provide these grants and it is desirable that there be authority to make payments to the States in 1974-75 before the passage of legislation in that year. Under clause 5 of the Bill, payments under the Act may be made either from Consolidated Revenue Fund or Loan Fund, and clause 9 provides for the necessary appropriation of these funds. The extent to which the payments will be met from Loan Fund will depend on borrowings during the year, which cannot be estimated in advance.
Clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill authorise the Treasurer to borrow funds, in the period from the commencement of the Act to the end of December 1974, up to the total of the amounts of the grants payable in 1973-74 and in the first 6 months of 1974-75. This borrowing authority will be reduced by the amount of any borrowings made before the commencement of this Act, under the authority of the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Act (No. 3) 1972, which may have been used to finance grants made in the first 6 months of 1973-74. These capital grants, by replacing what would otherwise be loan funds, relieve the States of interest and sinking fund charges which they would otherwise have to meet from their revenue budgets, and thus free funds for expenditure in other directions. The savings in debt charges arising from the capital grants are estimated to have totalled $36.4m by the end of 1972-73, and to amount to a further $38.4m in 1973-74. They are thus providing considerable relief to the States’ revenue budgets. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The need to introduce this Bill and the 2 Bills which follow arises from the establishment of the Darwin Community College. The new college, which is expected to begin teaching in March 1974, has been established as a statutory authority under an ordinance of the Northern Territory. There are, however, certain provisions that cannot be encompassed within the ambit of a Territory ordinance and it is therefore necessary to enact them in complementary legislation by the Australian Parliament. The matters to which I refer relate to financial provisions, air accidents liability and superannuation. This Bill covers the first of these matters.
The Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) Bill 1973 includes certain financial provisions that normally apply to statutory authorities established by an enactment of this Parliament. These provisions relate to the payment to a statutory authority incorporated by a law of a territory of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of that authority, and empower the Treasurer to give directions as to the amounts in which and the times at which the moneys are to be paid. The bill not only makes provision for the Darwin Community College, but also for any authority that may be incorporated in future for a public purpose by a law of a territory and prescribed by regulation under the Act. Its effect would be to remove the need for further specific legislation by the Australian
Parliament in relation to other authorities that may be similarly established in future. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
I explained the need for this Bill in my second reading speech on the Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) Bill 1973. The Air Accidents (Australian Government Liability) Bill 1973 amends the principal Act to provide that any body corporate that is incorporated for a public purpose by a law of a territory may, where appropriate, be declared by regulations to be a body corporate to which the Act applies. This method of dealing with territory instrumentalities will enable not only the Darwin Community College to be prescribed but also any other appropriate Territory authorities, thus avoiding the need for further amendments to the principal Act. 1 commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
As honourable members will recall, I explained the need for this Bill in my second reading speech on the Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) Bill 1973. The Bill provides for the application of the Superannuation Act to the Principal and staff of the Darwin Community College. Because of the need to extend superannuation cover from the date the college legally came into existence, the amendment is deemed to operate with retrospective effect from 19 July 1973. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Morrison) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a Papua New Guinea Bill (No. 2), Papua New Guinea (Application of Laws) Bill, Wireless Telegraphy Bill and Meteorology Bill (a) being presented and read a first time together and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the Committee’s report stage and the third readings of the 3 Bills together, and (b) the consideration of the Bills in one Committee of the Whole.
Bills presented by Mr Morrison, and together read a first time.
– I move:
Mr Speaker, the legislation which I am now introducing is historic. Its purpose is to bring about formal self-government in Papua New Guinea by amending the Papua New Guinea Act and by providing the means by which other Australian legislation may be discontinued in its application to Papua New Guinea. This legislation marks a significant step towards nationhood for Papua New Guinea. In addition there are 2 Bills which amend specific Australian Acts in their application to Papua New Guinea. These amendments result from agreements reached between Australia and Papua New Guinea for the transfer of the function of the Bureau of Meteorology to Papua New Guinea and the exclusion of that country from the operation of the Wireless Telegraphy Act.
The amendments proposed to the Papua New Guinea Act are certainly historic, but the changes brought about are more symbolic than substantive. In practice Papua New Guinea is virtually self-governing now. Papua New Guinea Ministers are at present exercising full responsibilities for most of the functions of internal self-government. Each action taken by the Australian Government in moving to self-government in Papua New
Guinea has been a deliberate one in a continuing process of transferring responsibility to where it rightly belongs - with the elected representatives of the people of Papua New Guinea. Neither the formal achievement of self-government nor independence will be marked by an abrupt step or a dramatic change. Australia has involved the Papua New Guinea Government progressively in the full spectrum of government activities - not just in those areas over which final authority has passed. In this way the formal achievement of self-government will merely be the final step in a series. The final step is small but nonetheless historic. It symbolises the completion of the process of self-government. By this smooth and gradual transition, the status of self-government will have been achieved. Self-government is the completion of a gradual and ordered process and is not a sudden break from one status and set of responsibilities to another.
Turning first to the Bill to amend the Papua New Guinea Act, the amendments contained in this Bill are designed to bring about a formal state of self-government in Papua New Guinea and for the most part will be brought into effect on the agreed date for self-government. The previous Australian Government accepted the wishes of Papua New Guinea that the date for self-government be 1 December 1973 or as soon as possible thereafter. The Labor Party, which had earlier foreshadowed the proposal, welcomed the agreed commitment. The Labor Government has worked towards this objective since taking office.
There are 2 important points which I would like to draw to the attention of honourable members in the consideration of this Bill. Firstly, the legislation we are considering concerns the structure of government in Papua New Guinea, another country, which has a character and an identity of its own. Secondly, the amending Bill in the main merely enacts in formal legislative form the de facto situation which has already come about with constitutional development in Papua New Guinea. This situation has come about of course by agreement with the previous Government as well as this one that there should be a progressive transfer of power from Australia to Papua New Guinea Ministers. The extent of this de facto selfgovernment will become evident as I run through the more important aspects of the Bill.
Changes of name which are provided for in the amendments and which come into effect on the date of self-government reflect changes in emphasis already evident in practice affecting that Administration, the Administrator and the Administrator’s Executive Council. The Bill provides that the Administration will be known as the Government of Papua New Guinea. Clause 5 also provides that the Papua New Guinea Government is a corporate entity which is able to sue and be sued, and make contracts and agreements by that name. The title of the Administrator of Papua New Guinea will be changed to that of the High Commissioner. The Bill provides in clause 8 that subject to the Act the Government shall be administered by the High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea. During the self-governing period, the High Commissioner will have 2 functions - those of embryo ‘Head of State’ for Papua New Guinea and those of the Australian Representative. But he will continue to be appointed and instructed by the GovernorGeneral. This accords with the normal constitutional position of Papua New Guinea as a self-governing territory of Australia. Clause 9 of the Bill allows 2 Acting High Commissioners to be appointed by the GovernorGeneral in the event of the absence or incapacity of the High Commissioner. If two arc appointed the commission of each will specify the powers and functions of the High Commissioner to be performed by each appointee.
The Bill generally provides for the High Commissioner to assume most of the powers now held by the Minister for External Territories and some now held by the GovernorGeneral. The High Commissioner will be able to determine the number of Ministers of the House of Assembly, their designations and functions, as well as appoint them to office. He will also be empowered to transfer Ministers from one portfolio to another. It is intended that the High Commissioner should under instruction from the Governor-General exercise these powers upon the advice of the Executive Council. That is an aspect of the Head of State function of the High Commissioner of which I have spoken. The High Commissioner will also perform some formal functions at present performed by the GovernorGeneral regarding the acceptance of resignations and the filling of vacancies in the House of Assembly.
Clause 10 of the Bill provides that the Administrators Executive Council will be renamed the Executive Council and that its function will be to advise the High Commissioner on any matters relating to the administration of the Government. Thus it will be able to offer advice on any matter instead of just those matters referred to it by the High Commissioner or by an ordinance. This broadening of its authority reflects current practice agreed by the previous Government and this Government that when independence comes there will be no area of government in which Papua New Guinea will be unfamiliar or lack experience. It is intended that the High Commissioner be instructed by the Governor-General to accept the advice of the Executive Council in all areas which are not reserved to Australia. This also reflects agreed practice. Clause 11 reflects changes requested by Papua New Guinea in the composition of the Executive. These changes have been requested by the Chief Minister to allow him more flexibility in the composition of his Ministry, and clause 40 enables such an increase to take place before December in the number of Ministers on the present Administrator’s Executive Council. Clause 1 1 also provides that the Chief Minister will be known by that title, rather than by Deputy Chairman of the Council. Official members will be removed from the Executive Council as well as the House of Assembly. Clause 20 reflects the change in composition of the House of Assembly arising from the removal of official members.
By agreement with Papua New Guinea, defence and foreign relations will remain reserved to Australia until Independence. However, again in accordance with agreements reached with Papua New Guinea provision has been made for the proclamation at self-government of other functions which it may be necessary to reserve pending completion of any legislative and administrative steps both in Papua New Guinea and Australia. Such functions will be proclaimed only after agreement with Papua New Guinea, and as soon as the administrative and legislative details have been completed these functions will be transferred to Papua New Guinea. Clause 42 of the Bill provides that matters cannot be proclaimed as reserved matters after self-government. Any proclamations made at self-government can only be revoked, cancelled, deleted or reduced in scope in the future. Clauses 13 and 14 deal with functions of Ministers. These amendments allow the High Commissioner to determine the func tions of Ministers subject to the Act and thus do not alter the basic manner by which functions of Ministers are currently determined. However, the arrangements which are approved by the Minister for External Territories and which at the moment apply regarding the extent and manner of performance of functions by Ministers will apply only in the reserved areas and not generally.
Clause 4 (d) enumerates the reserved areas. As I have mentioned above, the intention is that in all except the reserved areas the High Commissioner will, by instruction, act on the advice of the Executive Council. The High Commissioner’s role in the reserved areas will be similar to the Administrator’s present role in the government of Papua New Guinea. As such he will be responsible within Papua New Guinea for these functions on behalf of Australia and will be subject to the directions of the Australian Government. Nevertheless, in accordance with the policies of the previous Government and this Government, Papua New Guinea Ministers will be closely and fully involved in the reserved functions. Recently, at the request of the Chief Minister, I created the portfolio of Minister for Defence and Foreign Relations. The creation of this portfolio and the appointment to it of a Papua New Guinea Minister will ensure that Papua New Guinea will have first hand involvement and experience in these key reserved areas, well before independence. Through such actions, Papua New Guinea is already beginning to assume a separate international identity.
Clause 24 provides that only those laws dealing with reserved matters will need to be reserved for the Governor-General’s assent. The authority of the Governor-General to disallow laws not related to reserved matters is removed by clause 25. In the light of these changes and in response to a request by the Papua New Guinea Government, the Bill by clause 23 amends the Papua New Guinea Act to make provision for the laws of the House of Assembly to be called ‘Acts’ rather than Ordinances’ if the House decides to adopt this nomenclature.
Changes in other areas are proposed. One of these areas is the judiciary provisions of the Act. The Papua New Guinea Government has requested that the qualifications of persons who may be appointed as judges of the Supreme Court be extended. At present only Australian barristers and solicitors are eligible. Amendments under clause 28 will allow lawyers with at least 5-years standing, and judges of courts of unlimited jurisdiction within any legal system similar to that of Papua New Guinea to be appointed. Clause 26 provides for judges to be appointed on contract for a fixed term. Such provisions will allow Papua New Guinea to call on overseas expertise for as long as it takes its own legal profession to provide a sufficient number of judges.
At present all loans raised by the Papua New Guinea Government are guaranteed by Australia by virtue of the Papua New Guinea Act. Clause 31 of the Bill makes clear that this guarantee will continue for the life of those loans which are raised before independence. The transitional provisions of the Bill ensure the continuity of government and personal actions and the vesting of rights and responsibilities in the new bodies and entities which are established at self-government.
I now turn to the second Bill we are considering - the Papua New Guinea (Application of Laws) Bill. Honourable members will be aware that there are a number of Acts of the Australian Parliament which have application in Papua New Guinea. Some of these Acts apply because the Australian Parliament has expressly extended them to Papua New Guinea. Other Acts have application insofar as some sections of them apply to people, things or situations in Papua New Guinea. All these Acts form part of the internal law of Papua New Guinea. None of them can be amended or modified without the concurrence of the Australian Parliament.
During self-government Papua New Guinea should be entitled to have the final say on what laws apply within its boundaries except of course laws in the reserved areas. Thus the application of those Australian Acts which would be inconsistent with the status of a self-governing Papua New Guinea should, so far as practicable, be discontinued. The only practicable solution is to permit the making of regulations effectively to cease the application to Papua New Guinea of Australian Acts.
It is proposed by this Bill that the GovernorGeneral be empowered to make regulation to Papua New Guinea of Australian Acts, in Papua New Guinea. The Acts to be dealt with are only those which form part of the internal law of Papua New Guinea. To avoid the situation whereby the cessation of an Australian Act would leave a vacuum in the law of Papua New Guinea, it is proposed that the application of an Australian Act, particularly for which there is no Papua New Guinea counterpart, will in general not be discontinued until and unless that cessation has been approved by the Papua New Guinea Government.
It is not intended that any regulation to cease the application of any Act will actually amend the Act concerned. It is intended that regulations will be interpretative only, and that affected Acts will be read in conjunction with those regulations, to produce together a reduced area of applicability.
When any Act ceases to apply to Papua New Guinea by regulation, the Act will still apply to Australia. It will still be part of Australian law. It may be that some aspects of that Act, as part of Australian law, but no longer as part of Papua New Guinea law, will require amendment to protect the rights under Australian law of persons, matters or things connected with Papua New Guinea or to make provision for the occurrence of matters in Papua New Guinea affecting Australia but not Papua New Guinea. The Bill enables amendments of this type and other consequential and transitional provisions to be made.
I now turn to the 2 other Bills which affect Papua New Guinea - the Wireless Telegraphy Bill and the Meteorology Bill. Briefly, both Bills have been drafted to allow for the exclusion of Papua New Guinea from the provisions of the respective Acts by notice in the Gazette’. Papua New Guinea and Australia have agreed that both Acts should be discontinued in their application to Papua New Guinea at a mutually agreed time. The reasons for this are the enactment by Papua New Guinea of a radiocommunications ordinance dealing with matters covered by the Wireless Telegraphy Act and the transfer to Papua New Guinea of meteorological functions formerly carried out by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The amendment of the Meteorology Act provides for the Bureau to continue co-operation with the Papua New Guinea meteorological services.
The Papua New Guinea Bill and the other Bills I have detailed form the first of the 2 stages which will bring formal selfgovernment to Papua New Guinea. The
Chief Minister and I announced this 2-stage process following discussions in May this year. The second stage which will culminate in May or June next year will be the consideration and adoption by the House of Assembly of a constitution prepared by the Constitutional Planning Committee and the subsequent amendment by this Parliament of the Papua New Guinea Act to make the Act consistent with that constitution. These Bills, the adoption of the constitution and subsequent amendment of the Papua New Guinea Act next year, and the final step of independence are all integral stages in the continuous development of Papua New Guinea from dependency to nationhood.
The June 1973 meeting of the United Nations Trusteeship Council endorsed the views of the Papua New Guinea and Australian Governments on the role of the House of Assembly in important constitutional decisions. The Council noted the agreement between the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea that resolutions in the House of Assembly on important constitutional issues will be by a recorded vote and by a substantial majority representative of the nation as a whole.
On the timing of independence, the Council noted Australia’s view that there are 2 elements involved in the determination of the question of independence: The view of Australia and the views of the people of Papua New Guinea as expressed through their elected representatives in the House of Assembly. The Council noted that Australia expects independence to come by 1975 and that it should be achieved in the closest consultation with the Government and the House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea. I remind the House that the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 asked Australia to fix a timetable for independence in consultation with Papua New Guinea. The Council further noted that Australia did not disagree with the view of the House of Assembly that Papua New Guinea should experience a period of self-government before a date for independence is set.
The Bills now before the House detail the legislative steps that Australia has to take to enable Papua New Guinea to be formally self-governing before the end of. this year. These measures are in accordance with requests by the Papua New Guinea Government and the House of Assembly and have been accepted by the previous Australian Government. The amendment of the Papua New Guinea Act will formalise the selfgoverning status of Papua New Guinea. The Application of Laws Bill and the other Bills enable that country to be freed from Australian legislation so that it can make its own laws as a self-governing country. All the Bills concern the constitutional development of another country which in the Government’s view is entitled to be given control over its own destiny. I commend the Bills to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.
– I have to present pursuant to statute the report and financial statements of the Reserve Bank for the year 1972-73, together with the Auditor-General’s report thereon.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 222), on motion by Mr Daly:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The significant but disguised objective of the legislation before this House, the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2), is in fact to entrench the Australian Labor Party in Government for a long period of time. It is a Bill which has been opposed by the Opposition parties in this House, and we will oppose it again. The Opposition completely rejects the Bill because it is unfair, discriminatory and unworkable. It is also superfluous because the present Commonwealth Electoral Act has effectively ensured practical adherence to the principle of one vote one value, and in so doing has produced electoral justice as judged by that criterion.
The existing legislation provides for a 20 per cent tolerance in the quota which remains the ideal level suited to the nature and direction of Australia’s population development. In essence, the Bill seeks to reduce the permissible variation from the electoral quota from one-fifth to one-tenth, revise the factors which the Distribution Commissioners must consider when redrawing electoral boundaries and provide that a redistribution may be directed whenever the numbers of electors in one-quarter of the divisions of a State differs from a quota by one-tenth. The Opposition rejects the Bill because the Government seeks to change legislation which has worked effectively and impartially, without putting forward a single convincing or coherent reason for making the change. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) in introducing the Bill, spoke more volubly than sincerely of the necessity to establish the principle of one vote one value. It is a grossly misleading smokescreen. As I have already noted, the Government’s real objective is to redraft what is a demonstrably fair and equitable Electoral Act so that it can be manipulated to provide the party in power with a long term electoral advantage.
This Parliament and the Australian people are still unaware of the Government’s detailed intentions regarding the Electoral Act. We know, however, that the Government seeks to redraft the entire document. The Minister told us this much in his second reading speech when he quoted from a speech which he himself delivered in this House in 1971. He told the House that Labor regarded the Commonwealth Electoral Act as outdated and outmoded and that upon the election of a Labor government immediate steps would be taken to redraft the Act. According to the Government, the amendments proposed by this Bill will mysteriously ensure that all votes will have equal value. Of course, they will do nothing of the sort. I repeat what I said when this Bill was introduced initially: The Liberal Party supports the principle of one vote one value. In doing so we recognise that the efficacy of policies relating to voter distribution can be measured by the degree to which the size of electorates tends toward this ideal.
We emphasise that the existing Act has a remarkable record when judged against this standard. It should be clearly understood that I refer to the same standard as that which is espoused by the Government. The previous Liberal-Country Party Administration left on the statute book legislation which worked equitably and impartially. But that legislation did not derive from some new formulation devised by a recent Liberal-Country Party coalition government. It dates back virtually to the beginning of our Australian Federation. What the Labor Government is seeking to change are principles which were enshrined in legislation by previous Labor Prime Ministers - as well, of course, as Liberal and Country Party Prime
Ministers - who accepted them as essential and integral parts of Australia’s electoral law. The onus therefore lies very much with the Government to explain why these principles are wrong now if they were right then and have remained right throughout more than 70 years of Federation. This it has failed to do.
The true test of equitable electoral legislation is that the Party which obtains the majority of votes shall also receive the majority of seats. This happened in all cases under distributions which were made during the record term of the previous Administration. There could be no better example than the Federal election held in December 1972 when the present Government received 49.6 per cent of the votes of the Australian electorate and, as a result, received 53.6 per cent of the seats. That result was achieved on boundaries which were drawn by the former Liberal-Country Party Government. It provides a convincing refutation to Labor Party claims that it went into recent elections for the national Parliament competing not only against the anti-socialist political parties in this country but also against an Electoral Act which they allege is unfair. The claim that the existing provisions of the Act are biased against the Labor Party is completely unsupportable.
We must contemplate the Government’s reasons for repeating this charge so loudly and so frequently. Perhaps its objective is to condition the electorate for its serialised redrafting of the Electoral Act which, on the basis of this shoddy piece of legislation, we can suspect will be biased heavily in Labor’s favour. By continually repeating the slogan ‘one vote, one value’ the Labor Party is attempting to confuse the public and to portray itself falsely in the role of a champion of electoral justice. It is a hypocritical exercise viewed against the true import of this legislation.
I mentioned before that one vote one value is a principle to which we can all subscribe. However, it is not possible to incorporate that principle perfectly or absolutely into any voting system. A redistribution made today which produces a situation of equality in Australia’s many electorates will be out of balance before the descriptions of the new boundaries are back from the printer. Some people would come on to the roll of an electorate; others would be removed.
We have movements of people in Australia which are unparalleled anywhere else in the world. There has been a continuing high level of migrant intake for something like a quarter of a century, subdivisional and housing developments, and the construction of high-rise buildings leading to population concentrations. There are movements of people right throughout the country in connection with the development of new industries and towns. So therefore it is necessary to have a tolerance factor that is large enough to take account of this situation and which at the same time enables the equality of the vote to be preserved. A tolerance is essential also to allow for the preservation of this type of equality for a reasonable time. So 20 per cent is a desirable tolerance, but 10 per cent is unfair, unreasonable and undesirable. Twenty per cent will provide the commissioners with the flexibility they require in drawing boundaries and will enable them to cater adequately for rapid electoral growth where necessary.
It should also not be overlooked that the 20 per cent tolerance is not a mandatory factor, but it is only a provision. It is left to the Distribution Commissioners to apply the provision if necessary, in accordance with section 19 of the Act. In fact, in the distribution carried out in 1968 the Commissioners of the day put some 90 of the 125 seats in the House of Representatives within 10 per cent of the quota - above or below; some 27 seats were between 10 per cent and 15 per cent, and the balance, some 6 seats, were 15 per cent above or below the quota. These figures illustrate that the Distribution Commissioners approach their task with objectivity, and use the 20 per cent provision only when that is necessary because of the special nature of particular electorates. I refer, of course, to disabilities of remoteness, distance, sparsity or density of population, or the area of a division. If the Labor Party has its way, the conscientious administration of the provisions of this Act will be placed in jeopardy.
As well as ensuring that we have fair and impartial elections, current Australian legislation measures up more than favourably with electoral law in force in comparable countries overseas. In Canada - a country with many similarities to Australia - the relevant Act, the Redistribution of Representation in the House of Commons Act, passed in 1965, provides for a variation of not more than 25 per cent. In Britain, these matters are not spelt out in detail. Constituencies vary from 40,000 electors to double that number without any apparent difficulty whatever. At the last election in France, constituences ranged from 25,000 to 150,000 electors. In the United States, the landmark cases which were recently before Chief Justice Warren, as in Wesberry v. Sanders in 1964, defined the meaning of ‘as nearly as practicable’ as a percentage of the order of 15 per cent variation from the quota. If that interpretation were applied in Australia, some 117 of the 125 seats in this Chamber at the time of the last distribution would have been within that tolerance: only 6 seats would have been above that figure.
So, on the basis of international comparison, Australia has a favourable record in this respect. We observe the principle of one vote, one value more effectively than the countries I have just mentioned to this House. Its expression through the ballot box in Australia is far more equitable than in those countries. In fact, Australia’s electoral law - and the manner in which it facilitates the expression of the political wishes of the Australian people - will stand up to the closest scrutiny. The existing Act has a remarkable history in terms of fairness of distribution, if tested by the criterion that the party or coalition of parties most preferred gains the most seats. Only once since 1949 has the party or group of parties with a majority of votes failed to receive a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The only exception was in 1954, when the Australian Labor Party and the parties supporting it secured some 51 per cent of the vote but failed to achieve government. It should be noted, however, that the 1954 election was contested on boundaries drawn in 1948 in the Calwell redistribution. Surely the members now on this side of the House cannot be held responsible for that redistribution.
On every other occasion until 1972 the antisocialist parties outpolled the Labor Party and its supporters. It is surely testing public credulity for the ALP to claim that the existing provisions of the Act are biased against or work unfairly towards the Labor Party. But the current Labor Government is determined to have a redistribution and is resolute that it will be based on terms that militate to the advantage of the Labor Party. In words of the Minister for Services and Property earlier this year:
A redistribution of electoral boundaries will be carried out ‘come hell or high water’.
The redistribution that the Government considers so urgent is to be carried out not because a redistribution is required but because the Labor Party wants to tip the electoral balance in its own favour. There is no need at this time for a redistribution, except in Western Australia where there has been very rapid population growth. If there is any urgency in having a redistribution at this time it is purely to serve the cynical political motives of the Labor Administration now in power. The fact that a general redistribution is not required at this time is itself a tribute to the Act as it stands. The current boundaries were drawn in 1968. Since then there have been 2 Federal elections; but still, in the view of the Opposition parties, redistribution is not required, because the Act has worked efficiently. It has provided the distribution commissioners with sufficient tolerance and flexibility to draw boundaries that can survive a reasonable period of time and thus ensure some stability of representation in this Parliament.
I turn now to those electoral divisions which have always been recognised by the Commonwealth Constitution and by this Parliament as special cases’. I refer, of course, to the Tasmanian seats, to the territorial seats and to the large, sparsely populated country seats. Previously, all parties in this Parliament had recognised that these seats have special difficulties or problems, and that allowances should be made when providing for their representation in this House. It would be interesting to hear the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) - whose seat of Bass, with only 42,120 enrolled voters, is the smallest in this Parliament from any State - argue that Tasmania is not a special case and that all electoral divisions in Australia should be of equal size.
– One vote, one value.
– One vote, one value, as my colleague the Leader of the Country Party has said. It would be equally compelling to hear the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) argue that the Capital Territory is not a special case. We certainly did not hear such a proposition from the Labor Party before 1966, the year that the number of voters in the Australian Capital Territory first equalled the average number in other electoral divisions. How could the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory argue that all electoral divisions should be equal in size when, prior to the election last year, he called for 2 seats for the Australian Capital Territory? Each of these seats would have been about 20 per cent below the size of the average mainland seat in the House. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory apparently sees nothing wrong with a 20 per cent tolerance, so long as fi operates in his favour. I believe that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) and other honourable members with large electorates have good reason to argue a ‘special case’. The Kalgoorlie seat, for example, occupies some 90 per cent of the area of the State of Western Australia, with all the concomitant difficulties of communication, transport and personal contact with his electors.
Under the Bill before the House, however, the problems faced by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and the difficulties faced by his constituents in contacting their Federal representative will, of course, be ignored. The same is true of the members and electors in the large rural electoral divisions with their special problems and difficulties. These mean nothing to the Administration now in power because apparently on this question and in so many of the other basic areas that concern the interests of the men and women on the land it is prepared to cause those electors and those persons to be stabbed in the back because of the wanton disregard by the ALP in this House of the real needs of the people on the land.
– Never a truer word was spoken.
– Never a truer word, as my colleague says. That that is the case is a simple derivation from the fact that on the Government benches in this House there is not one person who has earned his living as a rural producer. The fact is that they do not understand the problems of the people on the land. Contrast the Labor Party’s approach in government to that in opposition. It is an illuminating exercise and it reveals a double standard.
The present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in a letter of 6 March 1968 to the chairman of the distribution commissioners for New South Wales, said:
I submit that whatever variations you feel it desirable or necessary to make in the number of electors you propose for divisions, there is one overriding consideration you should bear in mind. No distribution should permit a situation where a party or coalition which secures a majority of the votes does not secure a majority of members of the House of Representatives.
Never has the Prime Minister been more correct. This is the test of the fairness of distribution: Not whether one seat is a few percentage points larger or smaller than another; but whether the party or group of parties most preferred by the electorate gains the greater number of seats. This, as the Prime Minister has said, is the overriding consideration. That concept would be destroyed if this Bill were allowed to become law. The Opposition parties believe that this is a bad Bill which does not deserve to be passed through the national Parliament, which is unfair, which is contrary to any sense of equity in the cause of electoral justice and which is unworkable. We on this side of the House will continue to oppose the Bill with all vigour.
– The speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) is remarkable in many respects. He sees the establishment of the principle of equality of voting as a means by which the Australian Labor Party will be entrenched in office for a long time and he quite blatantly and unashamedly opposes this legislation on that ground. What a concession for him to make. What a remarkable statement for him to make. As if that were not sufficient, he went on to suggest that over recent years the party polling the majority of votes has always been elected to government in this Parliament. That statement is simply incorrect. Three times in the last decade that has not been the case. In 1954 the Australian Labor Party polled 50.1 per cent of the votes and the Liberal Party and Country Party between them polled 47 per cent. The Labor Party had a majority of 3 per cent of the population of Australia voting for it and was in Opposition. In 1961 the Australian Labor Party polled 46.76 per cent and the Liberal Party and Country Party polled 40.91 per cent.
– The Country Party got 5 per cent.
– It would be lucky. In 1969 the Australian Labor Party received 46.95 per cent and the Liberal Party-Country Party received 43.3 per cent. In each election the minority votes of the population of Australia elected the majority of members to the Parliament. The number of seats of the Liberal Party and Country Party went as high as seven more than those of tHe Australian Labor Party. In 1969 although Labor polled 3i per cent more of the vote than the combined Liberal Party-Country Party coalition that group had 7 seats more, even though it polled 3 per cent less.
One vote one value, for the benefit of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is not a grossly misleading smokescreen. It is the basic concept of democracy. All in a democracy should have equality of power. It cannot be claimed that we have a true state of democracy if we deny the concept of equality of all of our citizens. All are equal in our view. The Opposition parties apparently believe that some are more equal than others. Those who deny this concept of equality should have the courage to admit their attitudes in public so that the Australian people may pass judgment on them at the first opportunity.
Australia is becoming a nation riddled by political gerrymanders in certain States and the worst of these are in New South Wales and Queensland where there is blatant unashamed gerrymandering of electoral boundaries in order to not ensure democratic control but the continuation of Liberal Party-Country Party minority government. On the attitude of the Opposition to jockeying of electoral laws I noted the comment of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) who was reported in the Brisbane ‘CourierMail’ of 9 June of this year as having agreed that State governments had jockeyed electoral laws. I was pleased to read that he said that and I hope that when he speaks in this Parliament tonight he will support the concept of one vote one value.
It is time in Australia for the community to lay down rules which set an example in political integrity. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) has fixed his attitude on the principle of one vote one value and nobody in the Opposition dares to quibble with that principle. But honourable members opposite find excuses, obscure though they may be, to try to justify not applying it. There is no room in Australia for political elitism. We reject the concept that some should have more say than others. The Minister has introduced legislation to establish democratic principles. His has not been an attitude of idle talk. Legislation has been introduced by this Government to grant voting rights to the 18- year-olds. That is a large area of adults who have received the franchise. An electoral commission has been established to take the Electoral Office away from the possible pressure of party political influence. Now we seek to introduce the principle of basic integrity, that every citizen’s vote should be counted equally - the principle of one vote one value.
It is time that this Parliament considered some basic principles. The purpose of drawing electoral boundaries is to achieve a parliament representative of the majority of citizens; it is not designed to ensure a convenient and easy means for members of Parliament to ensure their re-election or an easy and convenient way for them to represent their constituents. This legislation goes only part of the way in the search for the principle of one vote one value. But it is a very significant step in that direction. It seeks to reduce the possible differential between the largest and smallest electorate from 40 per cent to 20 per cent. In other words it seeks to achieve not complete equality but reduction by half of the current disproportionate discrimination. Under the existing law it is possible to disfranchise 40 per cent of an electorate. It allows opportunity for blatant and shameless gerrymandering of the electorate and of the complexion of this Parliament.
I am not suggesting that previous redistributions have been shameless gerrymanders, but I am suggesting that when this Parliament lays down guidelines for electoral redistribution commissioners they will feel at least some obligation to pay regard to these guidelines. What this Party, this Government, seeks to do is to give them a free and open book to do as much as is necessary to achieve equality of political power for all of our citizens. It is grossly unfair discrimination to give some electors more say than others, and the insidious part of it is that because people in similar income groups tend to live in the same sort of area, unequal representation leads inevitably to discrimination based on income. Such a situation is contrary to the principles and spirit of the Australian Constitution itself.
All electors, irrespective of their income, religion or colour or place of residence are entitled to expect equality of power to decide who shall govern them and who shall make the laws which they are bound to obey. The present Act is designed to give some who live in rural electorates more say and a disproportionate voice in the selection of governments. The present situation is equivalent to denying some citizens the right to vote because virtually their vote is meaningless. This is achieved by giving the 75,000 electors in La
Trobe the same voice as the 51,000 electors in Paterson. There is no possible justification for such a state of affairs. It means an effective one-third less say in this Parliament for those citizens who live in La Trobe than for those who live in Paterson. We see the emergence of a new privileged class because of this position. It has been an effort to establish what I might call a rural-ocracy in Australia. We must be astute to prevent and to remove the possibility of a cynical approach to the establishment of a permanent one-party rule.
The thing which amazes me most about this argument is that although this Government is seeking to put beyond its own power the capacity to gerrymander its political opponents are fighting it all the way down the line. The use of personal information gained in the census, processed by modern computers without the legislative protection of one vote one value could lead to a most undemocratic situation. It could lead to the establishment of a society which would be a mockery of democracy. This Government is in a most unusual situation. It is not trying to prevent its political opponents from engaging in a gerrymander. It is attempting to place the capacity for boundary rigging beyond its own reach. It is fighting to give away its capacity to gain an unfair advantage.
The Government is attempting to establish a fair basis for future democracy. In doing that its political opponents oppose it and complain that by giving every citizen an equal vote they will be in permanent Opposition. What an indictment. What a disgraceful state of affairs when members of this Parliament stand up before the Speaker and blatantly say: We think that there should be perpetuated in the laws of this country a system which will allow for a minority rule of the Australian people’. How can we expect the citizens of this country to accept and obey what might be unpopular laws at a particular time if they are made by a minority representative government? The democratic concept in our society is very fragile. It involves the principle of government by the consent of the governed. Government by the people, the rule of law and the equality of all citizens before the law are basic points and the very foundation on which democracy is built. Members opposite would destroy, perhaps unwittingly, this very basic concept.
Inequality of voting power between citizens is a denial of liberty which cannot be accepted. Any denial of liberty in Australia is not acceptable nor can it be justified under any foreseeable circumstances. My view is that those who truly believe in democratic government will consider this Bill on the ground of principle, not in a narrow and cynical way concerned only with grabbing political power or with the obsession to maintain disproportionate representation. There is no basis in fact or having regard to history to suggest that this measure could result in a misapplication of proper principles in electoral distribution. In fact the opposite is the case. This proposal will merely give a clearer and more precise guide to the Electoral Commissioners if and when they are considering new electoral boundaries. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) cited the case of Wesberry v. Sanders in the United States Supreme Court. He has a very strange way of interpreting legal judgments. I think he must have read the wrong case because I have in my possession the report of this case. It is contained in volume 376 of the United States Law Reports at page 10 of which the following appears:
The question of how the legislature should be constituted precipitated the most bitter controversy of the Convention.
This was a reference to the United States Constitutional Convention of 1778. The report continues:
One principle was uppermost in the minds of many delegates: That, no matter where he lived, each voter should have a voice equal to that of every other in electing members of Congress. In support of this principle, George Mason of Virginia ‘argued strongly for an election of the larger branch by the people. It was to be the grand depository of the democratic principle of the Government.
James Madison agreed, saying ‘If the power is not immediately derived from the people, in proportion to their numbers, we may make a paper confederacy, but that will be all’. Repeatedly, delegates rose to make the same point: That it would be unfair, unjust, and contrary to common sense to give a small number of people as many Senators or Representatives as were allowed to much larger groups.
Later in that judgment, to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred but did not bother to quote for obvious reasons, the court, at page 17, said:
Soon after the Constitution was adopted, James Wilson of Pennsylvania, by then an Associate Justice of this Court, gave a series of lectures at Philadelphia in which, drawing on his experience as oneof the most active members of the Constitutional Convention, he said:
All elections ought to be equal. Elections are equal, when a given number of citizens, in one part of the state, chooses many representatives, as are chosen by the same number of citizens, in any other part of the state. In this manner the proportion of the representatives and of the constituents will remain invariably the same.’
On page 18 of the report, quoting Madison, the judgment said:
Who are to be the electors of the Federal Representatives? Not the rich more than the poor; not the learned more than the ignorant; not the haughty heirs of distinguished names, more than the humble sons of obscure andpropitious fortune. The electors are to be the great body of the people of the United States.
The same principle holds true here. The Australian system of federal government closely follows the system of the United States and the same principles held to be valid there are valid in our great nation. Those who would destroy that principle are people who oppose the basic Australian concept and who are at variance with the Australian attitude. The Australian Constitution has been based on the principle that there shall be a minimum representation guaranteed for each State but that within each state there shall be equality of representation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the tolerance needed for rapidly growing electorates, but he did not put what he really has in mind. What he is really up to and what he is really about is preserving representation for rapidly diminishing electorates; not giving credit for the rapidly increasing ones. The history of the Opposition in government proves that beyond all doubt. The dilution of the votes of some citizensor some class of citizens cannot be justified within the concepts of democratic government, and it will not be tolerated by this Government. If need be I have no doubt it will not be tolerated by the Australian people. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) has served fair warning that if the Opposition wishes to frustrate the will of the people in this regard it can take its case to the highest court in this land and argue it out on the platform of public opinion the court of public opinion in the electorate.
– Let us do that.
– I hope the honourable member means that and is prepared, at the appropriate time, to stand up and say that he does not believe in one vote, one value.
– Just like in the Upper House in New South Wales. You got done on that, did you not?
– I say to my honourable friend that justice will be done. Nothing is surer. I remind the Leader of the Country Party that nothing is surer than when a vote is taken in this Parliament tonight a majority of members will stand on the side of true democracy - will stand for equality of rights for all Australian citizens. Before I conclude I refer to the case of Reynolds v. Sims which is reported in the United States Law Reports. The judgment in that case contains these words:
Logically, in a society ostensibly grounded on representative government, it would seem reasonable that a majority of the people of a State could elect a majority of that State’s legislators. To conclude differently, and to sanction minority control of state legislative bodies, would appear to deny majority rights in a way that far surpasses any possible denial of minority rights that might otherwise be thought to result.
This legislation sets new rules. It can be regarded as setting new guidelines for the Australian political system. The Leader of the Country Party referred to certain State legislatures. I agree with him completely that it is a shameful disgrace to the Australian way of life that there should be such gerrymandering.The only consolation is that the parliaments concerned appear to be having less say and fewer constructive things to do.
The last time it was suggested in this Parliament that the Labor Party had engaged in a gerrymander was in 1949. ‘A gerrymander’, cried members of the Opposition at that time. It was a gerrymander which saw the defeat of a Labor government, and the Liberal and Country Parties learned well from that mistake. In the last decade they introduced redistributions on 3 occasions to ensure them of government even though they received a minority of the votes.
– The reintroduction of this Bill symbolises the Government’s determination to continue its savage onslaught against country people by reducing the voice of country people. This attack began immediately after the last election and it reached its climax this week with the Budget. On Tuesday night I described the Budget as a vicious and vindictive attack against the country people of Australia. The vindictiveness of this Government was made completely clear yesterday by the tirade of abuse from the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) against country newspapers, country people and the Australian Country Party. The iniquitous postal charges which are to be imposed upon country people if they continue to receive their local newspapers is simply another example of the Labor Party’s continuing hostility.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended for dinner I was stating that the present Government was displaying considerable hositility towards country people. This was never more evident than in the Budget that was brought clown on Tuesday night. The Government’s determination to pursue this hostile attitude is now demonstrated in the resubmission to the House of the Commonwealth Electoral Bill after its rejection by the Senate last session. Before I proceed to the Bill itself and to the Government’s motives in trying to bludgeon the Opposition into accepting it, I want to dispute the claim of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) yesterday that the Government has a mandate for this legislation. The Government uses the word ‘mandate’ like a screeching of parrots. But where was the mandate in the swing against the Australian Labor Party in South Australia or the swing against the Labor Party in every seat in Western Australia or the swing against the Labor Party in Queensland or even the 15 per cent swing against the ALP in the Australian Capital Territory? A full mandate requires the public support of both Houses of Parliament. So, let us not have so much of this easy talk about a mandate for everything under the sun.
The Government’s motives in persisting with this legislation are clearly thrown into question when we look at the grounds on which the redistribution can be ordered. The Act makes it clear that there are 2 sets of circumstances in which redistributions are to bo held. The first is that there should be a redistribution whenever an alteration is made in the number of members of the House of Representatives to be elected for a State. The only State in which any change is proposed in the number of members is in Western Australia. Therefore, it is clear that under this first provision there is no requirement whatsoever for redistribution in any State other than in Western Australia. Another circumstance in which a redistribution should take place is whenever in one-quarter of the electorates in a State the number of electors differs from the quota by more than one-fifth either way.
This situation does not exist in any State, so there is no ground for a redistribution under this provision.
However, the Act does give power to the Government to order a redistribution at any time. But to resort to this part of the Act in the absence of any justification for redistributtion under the other provisions I have mentioned would represent a serious abuse of Executive power and in the absence of parliamentary approval or parliamentary changes in the Act would represent a complete contempt for the Parliament. Despite this, I have no doubt that the Minister’s obsession with this legislation will lead to a resort to use of this power if the legislation is again rejected by the Parliament, as it should be and as I have no doubt it will be.
I want to make it quite clear now that every member of the Australian Country Party in both Houses will oppose this legislation and that when the Minister proceeds to abuse the Executive power of government and asks the Governor-General to direct that a redistribution be held, they will express their opposition. Further, every member of the Country Party in both Houses will oppose the actual redistribution plans, except for Western Australia, which flow from the actions of the present Minister. We will do this because it is clear that there is no justification whatever for a redistribution except in Western Australia, under the present Act. We will do is because we believe that there is no reason to change the present Act and because we believe that the Labor Party’s approach to this matter represents a denial of electoral justice.
The provision which has existed since Federation for country electorates to have a slightly smaller enrolment than city electorates is as valid today as it was when our founding fathers wrote it into our laws 72 years ago. They understood - and the Minister understands but ignores - the difficulties of providing proper representation for people living in sparsely populated areas. Every Federal government for the past 72 years has understood and accepted this, whether they were Labor or non-Labor governments. But this Government, through its obvious hatred of country people, refuses to accept it. The founding fathers understood that if the country people were to enjoy parliamentary representation of a quality at least approaching that which city members can offer their constituents, there must be some consideration given to the physical difficulties of adequately representing large electorates.
The Minister is asking us to stretch our credulity beyond breaking point if he wants us to believe that a person living, for example, in the electorate of Gwydir, which covers 32,250 square miles, or Kennedy, with 280,230 square miles, is able to enjoy the same quality of representation as a person living in the electorate of Grayndler, which is less than 4 square miles in area.
– But they are very intelligent voters.
-Order! If the noise being made by honourable members does not cease I will take the appropriate action to make sure that it does and some honourable members will finish back in their electorates, the wav they are going.
– There again, Mr Speaker, the city members have the advantage because they would get back sooner. Here is a case where it takes literally months to get around a country electorate, while one could walk around one of the city electorates in a morning. No reasonable person would dispute the fact that the difficulties of communication, transport, lack of opportunity for achieving community concensus and the sheer time involved in overcoming these difficulties deserve proper consideration in the framing of equitable electoral laws or systems.
The difference in enrolment between city and country electorates is widely misrepresented and misunderstood. Because the Act provides for a maximum tolerance of 20 per cent either way, it is commonly believed that in fact there is a difference of 40 per cent between city and country enrolments. But the average discrepancy between city and country electorates at the time of the last election was not 40 per cent but 14 per cent.
– What are you worried about?
– What are you worried about? That is the question, there is no justification for your action. It is irresponsible and ridiculous of the Minister to ask the Parliament to facilitate a redistribution now when he knows that another redistribution will have to be carried out following the 1976 census. What the Minister is asking us to do is to approve new boundaries for the 1975 election, if the Government lasts that long, and then to approve further changes before the 1978 election. And of course, if the changes in the tolerance from 20 per cent to 10 per cent which the Minister wants us to accept are applied there is likely to be a redistribution before every election in the future. Continual changes in the boundaries are not in the interests of good government for either the electors or the representatives. The motives of a government which asks a parliament to approve such a ridiculous proposition expose themselves. The Government quite clearly is determined to secure itself in office by fiddling with the electoral boundaries as frequently as it possibly can.
The heart of the matter we are considering is the democratic right of all Australian voters to enjoy equality of representation in this House. It is easy to chant the slogan ‘one vote, one value’. If the principle is as absolute as so many Labor members say it is, why even maintain a 10 per cent tolerance and why allow Tasmania to have a variation of more than 40 per cent from other Australian electorates? Honourable members opposite are sheer hypocrites because they will not accept the facts. They parrot the phrase ‘one vote, one value’. What I am concerned about, and what we all should be concerned about, is not the value of votes but the value of representation. In a country such as Australia an electoral system based on the concept of one vote, one value theoretically will achieve a strict mechanical or arithmetical quality of voting power at the exact time of a redistribution, but distortions will begin to appear as soon as the boundaries are drawn and there will be increases as population patterns change. It also would deny the equality of representation to which all Australians are entitled. The Minister in his second reading speech, when introducing this Bill for the first time, said:
There can be no doubt whatever that a man is entitled to equal representation whether he lives in the city or the country.
The Country Party is completely in agreement with that statement. We applaud the Minister for it, but we deplore the fact that while he says he wants equality of representation he is asking the Parliament to do something that will make such equality utterly impossible to achieve. The reduction in tolerance not only is opposed by the Country Party on the grounds that it will not achieve equality of representation but also was opposed on very practical grounds by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer and the Surveyor-General in each of the States in their report to the Constitutional Review Committee. These experts who must carry out redistributions said that in their opinion the 20 per cent tolerance should be retained. Of course, the reason for this opinion was the understanding of these officers of the practical difficulties in carrying out redistributions where only a small tolerance is allowed and of the nonsensical proposition which the Minister is asking us to accept, namely, that redistribution should occur more frequently, in fact before every election, so that each election is conducted on a new set of boundaries. There should be no need for me to describe the confusion this would cause.
The Country Party opposes this legislation and will continue to oppose it and the steps which will follow it because we believe it is our duty to fight to protect the limited rights of country people and to fight to give them at least something approaching the equality of representation to which they are entitled. Recently we have heard a lot of snorting and seen a lot of pawing of the ground by the Minister about this legislation. He has told us how vital it is and how determined the Government is to get it passed. All sorts of threats have been made about taking this matter to the people for a decision, if necessary. If that is what the Government wants, let it do that by all means; let us have an election fought on this issue. But I warn the Government that if it thinks this is an issue on which it can win it is in for a very rude shock. No government can expect to convince the people that measures, to entrench a government in office are good measures - and that is precisely what this legislation is aimed to do.
The Labor Party in New South Wales a few years ago tried to persuade the people to abolish the Upper House, but the people were awake to what the Labor Party was doing and they overwhelmingly rejected the idea. Initially the argument that that House should be eliminated seemed overwhelming, but the argument paled into insignificance because of the dangers and fears of a government trying to entrench itself in office. On that occasion the outcome of the referendum was the largest rejection of any referendum that I know of in Australia. The people were not going to tolerate a government trying to change the system in New South Wales by giving power to one party. If this government wants to pull on a national election on this issue, then let it do it; but the fears and the suspicions of the people are well justified and will be vindicated by the result. Entrenching itself in power is the only objective a government can have in introducing legislation such as this. There are no other grounds for changing an existing law, a law which has been in operation for 73 years and which has been accepted by previous Labor governments. I am quite sure that the Australian people do not want to see in this Parliament such a lopsided political structure as is being proposed by the Labor Party. Let us see how fair dinkum the Minister is about this matter. Let us see him put his colours and his money where his words are. The Country Party’s position is quite unequivocal. We will take the challenge.
Motion (by Mr Nicholls) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Government supporters - Aye.
Opposition members - No.
Opposition members - Divide.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed.
That the Bill be now read a third time.
- Mr Speaker, on a Bill of this importance I believe that there should be a third reading debate. This is a debate
– Mr Speaker, in view of the limited numbers of the Opposition I move:
That the question be now put.
– You are a scoundrel of the first order.
– Order! The honourable member for Griffith will withdraw that remark.
– The Minister at the table is not a scoundrel of the first order.
– I asked the honourable member for Griffith to withdraw the remark unreservedly. If he does not do so I will deal with him.
– I withdraw it.
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 259), on motion by Mr Whitlam:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When this matter was last before the House I was talking about the juridical position which will be imposed upon the monarchy by the entry of the United Kingdom into Europe. I was dealing with the effect upon this country. I must confess a measure of dismay that the mechanics of this place are such that a debate upon the future position of the monarchy should be broken by a mechanical device. At 10.15 p.m. last night you, Sir, with your impeccable sense of courtesy said that the debate is to be adjourned. One is obliged to try to recapture the fragrant moments of 24 hours ago, but I do not intend to do that, I hope, at least to the relief of honourable members.
We are talking about a Bill which in my view represents a landmark in our existence. The last occasion on which this Parliament debated a Bill relating to the royal style and title was in 1953. At that time sitting at the table where my friend the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) now sits was the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Kooyong, and he dealt with the subject with a command of industry and understanding and his own impeccable command of interest in the whole of the British experience. I can recall what he said, I believe, almost to the word when it was suggested that the royal style and title should be changed to some territorial expression, Queen of Australia. He said: ‘No, this is not to be the case’.
– How many years ago was that?
– Look, my dear friend, time rambles by and I often wonder whether we are accoutred to meet it. In 1953 the then right honourable member for Kooyong was sitting there and he said: ‘It has been suggested that the United Kingdom be left out of the description of the royal style and title’. He described that as being fantastic. Yet here today it has been left out. Does this not underline, in politics, how true it is that the resolution of today is not necessarily the camping place of tomorrow? The other amendment proposed by this Bill is to take out of the description of the royal style and title the words ‘Defender of the Faith’. I think that this was included during the time of Henry VIII, when Pope Leo X, if my febrile memory serves me right, conferred on him the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ because he had written a treatise against the alleged heresy of Luther.
– Do you know who really wrote it? It was Thomas More.
– If authenticity of documents is to be our study, there will be some interesting revelations. Ever since William Rufus had been crowned King of England there had always been the description ‘By the Grace of God.’
– This is Australia 1973.
– My dear friend, if we are to forget the cradle in which we were nurtured and nursed then there is nothing to commend us at all. The whole of our being goes back to these great centuries. For a 100 years after William of Rufus had been declared by the Grace of God, this had continued. The challenge to this Parliament today is to acknowledge the fact that the great waves of history have washed against us. One may not necessarily lament this, but I think that it shows a very shallow understanding of our circumstance if we do not at least pause to acknowledge it. This is what I put to this Parliament today.
I confessed with a sense of no shame last evening the effect that the disintegration of the old Commonwealth had had upon me; the fact that I had looked with a measure of anxiety, a measure of unfeigned hope, for the Commonwealth to be given a role between the Soviet Union and the United States of America. If I was wrong in imagining that to be a worthwhile and purposeful role, I hope that I will not be condemned by those who sit around me. At least it was a hope, at least it was a dream and at least it is something for which I am not ashamed. Here we are brought by dint of circumstance to the realisation that the Queen is in our everyday existence. If one looks at section 1 of our Constitution one sees reference to the Queen in Parliament. This is not something that is to be whistled aside by any declaration of doctrinaire policy, no matter how enfevered it may be. This is something which is there and is not to be disturbed other than by the will of the people.
It would not be out of place, in the words of a man who has given great hope to our people, to observe that, as far as the old British Empire and Commonwealth is concerned, this is the occasion to acknowledge the fact that it may well be that the gulfs will wash us down. It may well be that we shall be washed down and shall touch the Happy Isles. It may well be that all that will occur. But, in the minds, the hearts and the spirits of the people who have looked upon this great gathering of nations, this is something not to be ignored as we walk by. This is a very great occasion on which to acknowledge the fact that the Crown has served a serious purpose in our existence and, despite the clamours and the anxieties of some second rate socialists, it will continue to do so.
– The speech of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen,) was interesting. In the change in the royal style and titles there is eliminated from Her Majesty’s title the words ‘Defender of the Faith’ and she is to be ‘Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God Queen of Australia’. That is the expression that is used. The honourable member for Moreton spoke of Sir Robert Menzies. Sir Robert Menzies always held that the Monarch was the Monarch of Australia by virtue of being Monarch of the United Kingdom, and in 1939 he held that this country had no right to declare war or peace. We entered the war of 1939 on the ground that the Crown of the United Kingdom was at war, Australia entered the Second World War on precisely the same basis as the Rock of Gibraltar and in precisely the same way as a Crown colony.
The evolution of the Commonwealth since that time would make such an assertion by the United Kingdom Government most inappropriate. When the United Kingdom goes to war or peace the Crown acts on the advice of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It is therefore inappropriate to go on asserting that the Crown has authority over Australia by virute of being Crown of th.e United Kingdom. There is an illogicality in the title in that we are calling her ‘Queen Elizabeth II’. There was no Queen Elizabeth I of Australia. The first Elizabeth reigned without Australia, some hundreds of years ago. But we would not want to wake up the Scottish controversy by trying to suggest that Her Majesty was Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Queen Elizabeth I of Australia. So the illogicality of ‘Queen Elizabeth II of Australia’ remains.
The honourable member for Moreton has given some attention to the Monarchy. I believe that there is one remaining function and a very important remaining function of the Monarchy; that is, that it is a focal point of allegiance. If the wielders of practical political power also become the focal point of allegiance, then they can become very dangerous. Hitler was an example of a person who both wielded practical political power and was the focal point of allegiance. Insofar as the Monarchy therefore is the focal point of allegiance without wielding practical political power, it acts as a lightning conductor; it stops the people who are wielding political power assuming that they are permanent. The permanency in the Constitution is in the Crown.
The Commonwealth of Nations, in the main, is evolving towards republicanism. If one looks at the most recent monarchies of Europe, one notices a curious thing, namely, that they all seem to be oceanic; they seem to be on the edge of the continent. I think of Holland, Belgium, Greece until quite recently, the Scandinavian monarchies and the United Kingdom. If we look at Asia we notice the same phenomenon in regard to Japan and Thailand. It seems that monarchies in central continental positions become primarily associated with the headship of a military force and as time goes on in the wars of continents this tends to discredit monarchies. It was war that destroyed the central European empires and almost destroyed the Japanese. Empire in 1945. But, it seems to me that if the country is oceanic and depends mainly on naval defence which does not press down on it the monarchy does not become completely identified with militarism and therefore monarchies have survived better in fringe or oceanic countries around the world.
The expression ‘Defender of the Faith’ is quite inappropriate in Australia. Pray what faith did their Majesties defend? They were once emperors of India. What faith were they defending in India? I suppose Hinduism. What faith were they defending in Ceylon? I suppose Buddhism. What faith were they defending in Ireland? I suppose an established church, established against the will of the majority of the people for many hundreds of years. It is a title retained by Henry VIII without any controversy whatever about the authorship of documents. Thomas More did write the book and, like a good courier, always elaborately attributed it to Henry VIII. More was the foremost scholar of Europe. Henry got the credit, which was normally the position of a medieval monarch, and he also got the title from the Pope. Henry’s writing of the book was rather like a definition of a university lecturer in my youth - the process by which the notes of the lecturer became the notes of the student without passing through the mind of either. The ideas of Thomas More were subscribed to by Henry VIII without passing through his mind and he very quickly turned around on all the principles that he espoused in the book and for which the Pope had honoured him; but the title Defender of the Faith’ continued.
Some years ago when the late Liberal Government proposed to take ‘F.D.’ off the coinage, and did in fact take ‘F.D.’ off the coinage, there was a considerable stir in certain clerical circles. The title ‘Defender of the Faith’ this time has been dropped without any stir in any circles at all. I agree that this is an occasion the significance of which should be noted. It is an assertion of the separateness of the Crown of Australia, the distinctiveness of the Crown of Australia and the concept of a Crown acting on the advice of the Australian Government. We rarely, of course, have dealings directly with the person of the Monarch. The representative is the GovernorGeneral. But this is an appropriate assertion of Australia’s nationhood at this time.
The honourable member for Moreton reverted to his interest in the implications of Britain entering the European Common Market. I suppose that the monarchies of Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland now are all subordinate to a new concept in Europe and that the Monarchy of the United Kingdom may become subordinate to some sort of authority in Europe. That, however, does not involve the Crown of Australia. I think it is appropriate at this point of time to make the changes in the royal style and titles which we are making.
– I, too, believe that it is appropriate at this time to make changes in the royal style and titles. It is appropriate to a country such as ours where the winds of change have brought different pressures and different attitudes. Nonetheless, I concur with the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) that it is appropriate that we recognise the significance of an occasion when we transfer our allegiance from a monarch who is essentially British by name and nature to one who is Australian by identity and by approval of this Parliament. It is true that the Monarch for long has been associated with the historical antecedents of a significant percentage of the people of this country. It is true that this country, being young in settlement and young in traditions, needs to preserve those traditions which those who are new settlers or descendants of more recent settlers have brought to it.
It is necessary that on occasion when we talk of the monarchy we think of those traditions and we preserve those elements which are worthwhile for the future. It was on that aspect that I wanted to speak principally when I saw and registered the concepts that the Government has introduced in this Bill. In this time there are those who are talking of a change of allegiance and of ultimate moves away from our monarchical system to one perhaps republican in character or at least republican in style. The significance of this Bill is that instead of destroying the monarchy, I see it as preserving it. Instead of our recognition of a British monarch with the one anomaly to which the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) referred, that is her title as Elizabeth II, we are for the first time accrediting the Queen of Australia with recognition of her as such and not because of our inheritance of the monarchy because the Queen is also Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
It is true that for the future there is importance under our constitutional system in our maintaining a monarchical system. To my mind, more than any other aspect of our Constitution, the monarchy applies fundamentally to the protection of the democratic style which we have inherited. It is important that we see, in the pattern through which the Queen through her Governor-General and his Executive Council administers the laws of this Parliament, that there is a direct relationship with every citizen of Australia. For that reason I believe it is important that we translate into modern idiom a style and title which through our inheritance has been constitutionally significant but in practice deserves to be related more to the modern manner and to current practice.
As to the deletion of ‘Defender of the Faith’ there too, at first glance, one might have had reservations. One might have felt that in ‘Defender of the Faith’ there were perhaps the elements of a Bill of Rights in terms of religious freedom. One might have turned to those words not necessarily because they were superimposed above the monarch’s head on the coinage of the realm but because those words designated in their way an apparent protector of the independence of worship and an apparent recognition that there is within this realm an opportunity to practice or to adhere to whatever religions denomination or persuasion people might seek. But to believe that would of course be quite fallacious. In fact, there is no such designation in the words ‘Defender of the Faith’. The antecedents of the words have been aptly and correctly referred to by earlier speakers tonight, but the words themselves, inherited as they are, to my mind have pertained more to the practice within the United Kingdom of one particular religion, which of course was associated originally with King Henry VIII and thereafter through each of his successive descendants. To my mind, for that reason that particular reference deserves to be deleted for perhaps an even greater reason than the deletion of the reference to the United Kingdom.
We have no official religion in Australia. In fact, were the words to be preserved they would to a degree have exactly the contrary meaning to that which I first suggested might be ascribed to them. So I believe that it is necessary that this Parliament at this time should give recognition to the changes which history and time have brought on us. I believe that this Bill presents for Australia a modern idiom and a modern expression of the monarchy as we in Australia understand it. Instead of destroying the monarchy I believe this Bill preserves it. Indeed, instead of promoting the substance of change towards a republic of which even the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to his discredit has spoken, I believe that this Bill will preserve the monarchy and ensure that through the GovernorGeneral there is continued opportunity for us to preserve a system that is written into our Constitution and which so effectively has protected the rights of every citizen of this country though the years since Federation.
– I do not want to cover the ground that has been covered by other speakers in regard to the aims of this legislation but I should like to take part in the discussion and in the comments relating to it. As I said on a previous occasion, I was the first elected member of this House to take the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. A senator from Western Australia was the first member of the Parliament to take the oath of allegiance, but I, being elected in a by-election in 1952, was the first member of the House of Representatives to take the oath of allegiance to the present Queen.
Particularly in these times there is an importance in the value of the monarchy that sometimes is overlooked. I know that there are many people who say that because we sometimes talk about tradition and heritage we live in the past and forget the present and the future. I am one who believes that not only should we think of the present and the future but that also, for many reasons, we should think of our heritage and of the past. We should think too of some of the privileges that we enjoy today that havebeen given to us because of a contribution made by those who have lived in this land before us.
I think that one of the important factors in relation to the law of the land is the rights of the individual. The importance of the individual is bound up in the Crown, in the monarchy and in the place that the Crown takes in our law. For that reason if for no other I certainly would not like to see a weakening of the power and authority of the Crown. I think it is important in these days that emphasis in this respect should come from Australia because a number of people have come here from European countries. As the Deputy Leader of my party, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) said, our allegiance to the Crown exists not because of our association with the United Kingdom but because of our individual rights as Australians. Because so many people have come from European countries to our shores this is of vital importance.
A matter that was mentioned both by the honourable member for Morten (Mr Killen) and the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) was the factor of the European Economic Community and the effect that the move by the United Kingdom into that organisation would have on the United Kingdom, the monarchy and United Kingdom sovereignty. I can remember discussions at a Common wealth Parliamentary Association Conference held in Malaysia in 1971. When this matter was raised delegates from the United Kingdom Parliament said that the importance of the monarchy and its relationship with the United Kingdom Parliament would never be forgotten and that it would be kept constantly before the authorities. Not only did countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand mention this matter. I was interested to note that many of what we might call the ‘newer’ countries in our Commonwealth also stressed the importance and the value of the monarchy even those countries which have become republics with the Queen as their head. I felt that this was something that gave a very important foundation to a contribution which could be made by the Commonwealth countries in the international scene. For those reasons I support the Bill. I support the remarks that have been made from both sides of the House and I trust that the importance of this legislation will be kept before the minds not only of members of this Parliament but also of the people of the Commonwealth.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I simply wish to make a very short observation. I think it is a measure of the importance of this Bill that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has seen fit to be present during the whole of the second reading debate and, indeed, during the third reading debate. I think that that mere fact is an indication of how historic is this Bill. This is not some casual Bill before the House. It is a Bill of profound importance.
in reply, I thank the honourable and learned member for Morten (Mr Killen) for his remarks. Perhaps it is appropriate for me to say now that this Bill will be reserved for the Queen’s own signature when she comes to Australia in October.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Grassby) agreed to:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for Immigration moving an amendment to Clause5 of the Australian Citizenship Bill during the consideration in committee of the whole of an amendment made by the Senate in the Bill.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment.
The Second and Third Schedules to the Principal Act are repealed and the following Schedules substituted: -
I, A.B., swear by Almighty God that I will faithfully uphold the Constitution of Australia, observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
I, A.B., swear by Almighty God that I will faith fully uphold the Constitution of Australia and observe the laws of Australia.
I, A.B., solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will faithfully uphold the Constitution of Australia, observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
I, A.B., swear by Almighty God that I will faithfully uphold the Constitution of Australia and observe the laws of Australia.
I, A.B., solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will faithfully uphold the Constitution of Australia and observethe laws of Australia.
Senate’s amendment -
Leave out the clause, insert the following clause:
The Second and Third Schedules to the Principal Act are repealed and the following Schedules substituted: -
I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by
Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
1, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by
Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law.
I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law.’.
– I move:
That the Senate’s amendment be disagreed to, but that, in place thereof, clause 19 of the Bill be omitted and the following clause substituted: -
The Second and Third Schedule, to the Principal Act are repealed and the following Schedules substituted: -
I, A.B., swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
I, A.B., solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
I, A.B., swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law.
I, A.B., solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law.
In moving this motion I should like to indicate why the Government does not accept the Senate amendment. The amendment retains the words ‘renouncing all other allegiance’. In my second reading speech - I want to recall my words on that occasion on behalf of the Government - I said:
Renunciation has been a cause of great emotional misgivings amongst people who want to become Australians. It has served no legal purpose at all because loss or retention of former citizenship depends entirely on the law of the person’s former homeland. A Greek citizen remains a Greek under Greek law, and an American ceases to be an American under American law, upon their becoming Australian, quite irrespective of whether they say at our citizenship ceremonies that they renounce Greek or American citizenship. And so I put it to the House that it is both the humane and sane course to drop these distressing and ineffectual words about renunciation.
During the debate on the Citizenship Bill in the Senate, my colleague the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) indicated that the Government was not opposed to promising a review of the oath of allegiance contained in the Citizenship Bill after the new Royal Style and Titles Bill had been introduced. Subsequently in a public statement on 7 June 1973, I confirmed this decision. True to its promise, the Government has decided to review the oath of allegiance.
The amendment by the Government is consonant with the change in the royal style and title provided for in the current amendment to the Royal Style and Titles Act on which this House has just voted unanimously. Importantly it will end the confusion in terminology and allegiance which has been permitted to continue since the Citizenship Act of 1949; and identify formally prospective citizens from other Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries with Australia. The omission of renunciation of other allegiance is maintained because, as I have already said, this has served no legal purpose and it could be equally distressing to citizens of the United Kingdom as well as to citizens of other countries from within the Commonwealth and without, all of whom will be required to take the oath or affirmation of allegiance.
In considering this amendment to the oath of ellegiance the Government, was mindful of public reaction to its first proposal to require prospective Australian citizens to swear to uphold the Constitution. It is interesting to note the results of a gallup poll conducted on 19 and 26 May 1973 by the Roy Morgan Research Centre. From the 9042 persons who responded the results were as follows: Overall 68 per cent were in favour of the change we had proposed, 22 per cent were opposed and 10 per cent undecided. The highest percentages in favour were recorded in New South Wales and Queensland. I am happy to say that the latter is my native State. Seventy per cent of city dwellers and 65 per cent of country dwellers were in favour of the change. In the younger age group up to 29 years 83 per cent and 76 per cent respectively favoured the change. Of Australian born 70 per cent-
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member that when he rises to call for a quorum he should do so and not make comments. (Quorum formed.)
– I express my appreciation for the solicitude of the Opposition in making sure that proper attention is paid to this important measure. Seeing that the Opposition has taken the trouble to draw the attention of its repleted ranks to what we are discussing I think it worth my while to repeat the figures that I was quoting from the gallup poll conducted in 1973 relating to the Government’s proposals to require prospective Australian citizens in future to actually stand up for Australia. I will quote the figures again in case some honourable members missed them. I was just about to say that in the younger age groups up to 29 years of age, 83 per cent of the people polled were in favour of swearing allegiance to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. Seventy per cent of Australian-born and 70 per cent of post-war non-British migrants were in favour and the majority of post-war British migrants were also in favour of the change.
While the Government believes it has support among the community for the form of the oath of allegiance to the Australian constitution put forward in the Citizenship Bill I have accepted the intent of the Senate amendment in the spirit of compromise, but let me say clearly that compromise further we will not. With the change in the royal style and tides giving specific expression to the Queen of Australia, the Government has in its amendment to the form of the oath of allegiance for grant of citizenship continued in an explicit manner to identify formally such change. With the passage of the Citizenship Bill through the Parliament the substantive provisions contained in clause 2 (3) of the
Citizenship Bill which include the proposed new oath of allegiance will come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation which will be after the Queen has proclaimed her Royal style and title in Australia. That is a courtesy which the Government had sought to accord the monarch, which the Senate did not.
I turn now to the short amendment proposed to clause 5 of the Bill. Territories dependant on the United Kingdom when this Bill was introduced included the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. With effect from 10 July 1973, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas achieved independence and became known as the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. As a consequence, its inclusion in the list of Commonwealth countries to which section 7 of the principal Act applies has had to be considered.
– What point are you making?
– I am making the point that we are happy to have recognised the independence of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
– That is all I wanted to know.
– For once he is on the side of the angels instead of the men of yesterday.
– He missed the division, you know.
– I am sure he missed several. I do not blame him for missing that division.
– Order! I would suggest that the Minister return to the clause that is before the Committee.
– I am very happy to help the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock). As I was saying when the honourable member awoke, as a consequence the inclusion of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in the list of Commonwealth countries to which section 7 of the principal Act applies has had to be considered.
– Order! I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that he has moved only the first amendment and he is now beating the second amendment.
– No, I am not; I am just giving information to the Committee. You are quite right, Mr Chairman, but I just want to help the honourable member who has just awoken. I am just saying that the amendment seeks to update this list. To return to the matter before the Committee-
– Who wrote this? You are showing no understanding at all. You are reading it all.
– If the honourable member for Kooyong wishes to oppose the admission to the Commonwealth of Nations of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas I suggest that he move an amendment while he still can-
– You know that is not my purpose.
– Otherwise, I suggest that he go away and read it up.
– I just seek your elucidation on your own understanding of this matter.
– Order! I would suggest to honourable members that this debate take place with one speaker at a time addressing the Committee. I suggest to the honourable member for Kooyong that if he wishes to participate in the debate and if he rises when the Minister has concluded his speech, he can put those points of view which he wishes to put. But it is impossible for the Committee, and I suggest for Hansard, to follow 2 speakers, one from each side of the table, at the same time.
– I respect your view, Mr Chairman, but it is rather difficult to discern the thrust of the Minister’s argument, particularly when he is reading from such copious notes.
– The Minister is in order in reading anything he wishes in this chamber. The Standing Orders were changed to give effect to that some years ago.
– I appreciate the explanation but it reflects on the Minister’s inability to conduct his portfolio.
– Order! The honourable member for Kooyong will resume his seat; there is no substance in his point of order. (Quorum formed.)
– I must say that this is a very unusual Bill to have unveiled the pretensions, of the honourable member for Kooyong to the leadership of the Opposition, but I am delighted that he unveiled himself tonight. Could we return to the measure that is before the Committee? It is a very important matter and I think that in view of the confusion of the Opposition and the need that it has for guidance, I should at least remind the Opposition of some of the facts of the situation associated with the measure which is before the Committee at present. I remind members of the Opposition that the Surveys Section of the Department of Immigration in the first half of 1971 carried out a survey of migrants which was the subject of a report to the Department and the then Minister for Immigration in the previous Government. I should like to quote from the report which was commissioned by the previous Government, for the previous Government and to the previous Government. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the following statement from the report:
It was evident from the survey carried out for the previous Government in 1971 that the renunciation was accepted in the simple legal sense, to which there was no objection, but it seemed to be a renunciation of family ties, culture and background and therefore was totally unacceptable.
It was indicated in the 1971 survey that there was a need then to have a deliberate effort made by the Australian Government to invite people to take out citizenship and join the family of the nation in a more positive way. It was specifically reported in the survey that one of the major reasons for people who were eligible to apply not applying for citizenship - I again quote from the survey - was specific objections to the aspects or procedure of the ceremony such as the requirement that applicants for Australian citizenship should explicitly renounce all loyalty to their country of birth and swear allegiance to the English monarch’. So, we have clearly indicated the misunderstandings caused by the renunciation and the obvious unsuitability of such a phrase in our citizenship ceremonies.
We also know from that survey that there was confusion about the independence of Australia and the status of the Queen of Australia with a colonial status related to England. I hope that we in this Parliament know and appreciate the difference here, but it is evident that some members even now have not grasped the significance of Australian independence or the status of the Queen of Australia which the monarch has expressly said she is attached to and which she prefers as a title for use in this country.
On taking office as Minister for Immigration I established a committee on citizenship of the Immigration Advisory Council and I took this step to check on the position as revealed in the previous Government’s survey of 1971. 1 was anxious to have the best advice possible on this question of the oath of allegiance. I should like honourable members to know who comprised the members of this committee on citizenship. They were Mr G. M. Hastie, Chairman, Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, D.B.E., Mr W. J. Henderson, Sir Arthur Lee, K.B.E., M.C., Mr W. M. Lippmann, M.B.E., Mr F. J.McAvoy C.B.E., Mr L. J. Mooney, Mr H. J. Souter, Mr R. E. Armstrong, O.B.E., Mr G. E. Hitchings, M.B.E., Mr I. D. Emerton, Mr H- J. Grant, Mr J. K. Champion, and Mr R. B. Haynes. The committee, therefore, was totally representative of the community. It was unanimous in its recommendation that the renunciation should go. The chairman of that committee pointed out that this was the view of the members of the Advisory Council as far back as 1963 and this had been ignored by the previous Administration for all the intervening years.
Against this background it is very difficult to see how the members of the Opposition can now, after all these years of unanimous advice and in view of the demonstrated views of the Australian people today, impose deliberately almost a hardship on the migrant community and those citizens who want to apply for Australian citizenship. If ever there was a need for confirmation of the need for reform, surely it is to be found in the fact that one million residents of Australia who are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship have declined to do so. This is a massive rebuff to us all. The previous Government was warned of some of the reasons for it. To persist in the attitudes of yesterday is to rebuff a million people and to affront the great majority of Australians today, old and new.
Let us have a look at other member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. In a survey of 19 Commonwealth countries we find that 17 require an oath of allegiance and only 4 require renunciation. Let me tell the Committee the 4 that require renunciation. They are Australia, Western Samoa,
Ghana and Malaysia. Significantly, the United Kingdom and Canada are among the great majority that do not require an act of renunciation. Let us take a typical oath of allegiance of our brothers in the Commonwealth of Nations. This is India’s oath or affirmation:
I, A. B., solemnly affirm - or ‘swear’ - that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and that I will faithfully observe the laws of India and fulfil my duties as a citizen of India.
So we have the position that every inquiry by this Government and the last Government agreed and recommended that the renunciation should be dropped. The latest recommendation was endorsed by the entire Immigration Advisory Council, of which Senator Gordon Davidson was for so long a distinguished chairman. Now it is suggested that the present Opposition should defy the expressed view of the majority of Australian citizens, ignore the distinguished representatives of so many organisations, including the Returned Services League, and take us back to the past and to a hurtful imposition which seems to be required by some either to deter people from joining the family of the nation because they do not want them or to impose hurt for hurt’s sake. It is interesting how steadfast the recommendations for change have been. The Committee on naturalisation set up as long ago as 1963 - 10 years ago - recommended the same action as the committee which I set up in 1973. The then well remembered and revered member of the committee - I am proud to mention his name in the House of Represenatives tonight - Mr Olley Oberg, formally restated the committee’s recommendations to the then Government. These were his words:
If the act of renunciation of former allegiance has no legal justification and serves no significant purpose, it should be abolished.
Finally as to the legality I quote the following from the considered opinion of the appropriate officers of the division of my Department which concerns itself with the legal matters associated with citizenship:
The effectiveness of the renunciation of former allegiance is very much open to question; in the first place, a number of countries (e.g. Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Rumania and the USSR) do not recognise loss of nationality by mere renunciation; specific permission to relinquish the original nationality is required, and the renunciation’ under Australian procedures is, in their view, of no effect whatsoever. In the second place, loss of original nationality results automatically from naturalisation in the case of persons who were originally nationals of countries such as the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Austria. Norway and Sweden. In these cases, the ‘renunciation’ is at least superfluous
I add that it would be more confusing than ever to former citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations - some 33 countries - 33 countries if we get the agreement of the Opposition and the honourable member for Kooyong to the inclusion of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas - to come here and find themselves formally renouncing allegiances and taking up a new allegiance although to a different entity certainly to the same person. I make this appeal to the Opposition: Put aside prejudices and petty party political considerations and vote this time in conformity with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people and hold out a welcoming hand to the people who are here now and those who will come, without wishing them ill or wishing them hurt. This Bill is a compromise in the interests of unity. I put it forward in those terms and I hope the Opposition will support it.
– The Opposition will be supporting one part of what the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) had to say, namely concerning the Bahamas. That is the only part that we support. We support quite warmly and recognise the sense of what he said about the Bahamas. But the rest of what the Minister said was rather strange. I suggest, firstly, that the Minister has broken a tradition of this chamber. It is normal for Ministers, when making a second reading speech or making a speech on reintroducing a Bill after changes have been made to it in the Senate, to provide the Opposition with a copy of what they are to say. To give the Minister due credit, he did give me a few pages which contained some of what he was to say, but what he gave me certainly was not the speech that he made in this Committee. I think it would have helped in the consideration of this matter if he had made available a copy of his speech, especially as the Opposition has done him the courtesy of going straight ahead with the matter and not insisting on the adjournment of the debate. It would not have hurt him to keep to the tradition of the chamber on this matter.
– I accept that. I added1 pages to my speech after making a copy of it available to the honourable member, and he has my apology for that. Further information became available and I thought that the honourable member would like to have it.
– So 1 would have, but 1 might have been able to rebut it better if I had been given the normal notice. The Minister began his speech by quoting a gallup poll. We are not elected to this Parliament to pass laws by gallup poll; we are elected to this Parliament to exercise our judgment, to determine what we believe is best and to cast our votes accordingly. If the Minister wants to quote gallup polls to support a certain point of view or to support a legislative change, he may do so as much as he likes, but it is not a substantive argument and it is not a substantive reason if the judgment and the true reasons lie on the other side.
The 2 points of the Senate amendment that he wants to change are, firstly, the renunciation of all other allegiances and, secondly, the terminology used in referring to Her Majesty Elizabeth II. I shall speak to the first point first. The Minister spoke as though we were asking, and the previous Government had asked, new citizens of Australia to renounce not just allegiance to another government in another country but all past allegiance and relationship with their former culture and their former heritage. Of course that is just not true. Migrants bring with them to this country cultures and heritages that are centuries older than ours, and by so doing they add to the richness and wealth of the culture and the breadth of life in Australia. As a result they have made this country a much better place. The Minister does not do a service when he suggests that the renunciation in the oath or affirmation of allegiance in the terms in which he was speaking is designed really to cut them off from that part of their heritage and their culture. Most certainly it is not designed for that purpose. The renunciation of all other allegiances is designed to add to the solemnity of the citizenship ceremony. It is designed to add to the importance of the occasion. It is an important occasion.
If we have to make it so easy for migrants to become citizens of Australia and play their full part in the development of Australia and the constitutional processes of this country that, although not taking down all barriers, we have to belittle the ceremony, and make it of no importance at all, as though it is just like passing out through one’s front gate in the morning as one goes to work, we are belittling the importance of being an Australian. That is not something that the Opposition would want to do. We appreciate that new citizens want to maintain old links and associations, their culture, heritage and social relationships, and we support them in that. We understand that they have contributed much and will contribute much more to the future development of Australia if the immigration program is not continually diminished in size as it appears the Government would want to do. Indeed, we cannot develop Australia without help from our new citizens. We need more people. That is a firm view of the Opposition.
There is a further problem which the Minister, in the undoubted view that many have of his capability, would believe that he would be capable of solving. He might be well placed to be able to solve it. I refer to the problems of dual nationality which have arisen in relation to Yugoslavia and Greece in particular. The Opposition might be prepared to look at this matter again if the Minister can come back to us and state that he has solved the problems of dual nationality, especially with Yugoslavia, a particular friend of this Government. However, I doubt very much that even he can be successful in that. The Minister suggested also that the terminology that he wants to use in referring to the Queen is more in line with the Bill that the House has just passed concerning the royal style and titles than the words that the Senate used in taking an amendment to the original Bill. The words that are in the amendment that has come down from the Senate refer to Her Majesty in these terms: bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors, according to law.
The Minister wants to replace that with these words: bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors, according to law.
That is minimising the reference to Her Majesty the Queen; it is not naming the Queen in the appropriate fashion or in the terminology used in the Bill which this House has just passed. The arguments used by the Minister are just not correct. The terminology of the Senate amendment is much more akin to the terminology of the Royal Style and
Titles Bill than the terminology that he wants to use. I remind honourable senators that the Royal Style and Titles Bill uses these terms:
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia.
It refers to the Queen by name. The Opposition wants that to be done in this Bill and in these amendments. Therefore, on these counts, we will be opposing both matters that the Minister wants to remove in his amendments. I believe that the Senate will reaffirm its position when the matter is returned to that House.
– I call the honourable member for Darling Downs.
– Mr Chairman.
– I am sorry, but I have called the honourable member for Darling Downs.
– But I wish to speak.
– Nobody on my right had risen and I called the honourable member for Darling Downs. The honourable member for Darling Downs now has the call.
– Thank you, Mr Chairman. I appreciate the fact that the age of democracy and decency is not lost while you are in the Chair. I compliment the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) for exposing the rather cavalier remarks of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) in his references to Australian citizens. I congratulate the honourable member for Wannon for bringing to the notice of the Australian people the shoddy tactics of the Minister in declaring in this chamber that he was basing his immigration policy on the result of a gallup poll. In my view what is proposed by the Minister is a very unwholesome method of describing a citizenship ceremony, which is very important in the life of a new citizen. It is an occasion which should be made as meaningful and as purposeful as possible. These ceremonies should be specific in their meaning and deliberate in their intent. One cannot but express concern at the fog of uncertainty contained in the Minister’s speech. I shall deal with the first proposal concerning the deletion of the words renouncing all other allegiances. I could not hope to press the case so strongly as did the honourable member for Wannon, but in my humble way I shall endeavour to reinforce the logic of his argu ment and the quality of his expression. What type of citizenship do we desire for our Australian ethos?
– Australian citizenship.
– That is what the Country Party desires.
– Then why not vote for the amendment?
– That is not what the Minister desires.
– Why not read the amendment and vote for it?
– The Australian Country Party, as always, is consistent in its attitude. This is a consistency which was shared by members of another place who have thrown open a challenge to the minority Government that sits opposite in this place. As the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) said this afternoon: ‘We are after a double dissolution; we will call your bluff. We await it.’
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes)- Order! I suggest that the honourable member should debate the question which is before the Chair, that is, the amendment moved by the Minister for Immigration. The honourable member is debating many other questions. This is a debating committee and the honourable member must debate the question before the Chair. If he does not do so I will ask him to sit down.
– Thank you, Mr Chairman. Once again I bow to your knowledge and accept your ruling. The Country Party submits that we should have a citizenship which owes its complete allegiance to this country, a citizenship in which no other country has any claim in law on the incomes and services of its former citizens. We want our new citizens to be completely free and safe from seditious influences that seek to undermine and veritably destroy the liberty and freedom of their children. The deletion of the words proposed by the Minister could inculcate in the minds of the people of other countries, which are somewhat jealous of our resources - Jo Bjelke-Petersen will look after them in Queensland - that we do not care if our citizens do not formally renounce their previous allegiances. We should declare where we stand. Make no mistake about it, the Country Party knows where it stands. We declare forthwith and in resolute language that citizenship of Australia should be granted only on the formal renunciation of any former ties. The Minister should use all his efforts in this regard. During the recess I noticed from newspaper clippings that he certainly did his share of globe trotting and tripping to have multilateral treaties and bilateral arrangements whereby-
– What are they?
– We know that the Government is spending 92 per cent more revenue on education. It would have to with people of the calibre of the honourable members opposite us. I was referring to arrangements whereby the acquisition of a new citizenship cancels the original citizenship and all its obligations. In our view, one cannot and must not be a servant and disciple of 2 masters. That would be untenable and could not be tolerated. We hope that the Minister will show initiative in this regard and will safeguard the lives of children, for example where one parent being a Yugoslav journeys to his homeland and that country claims jurisdiction over the children of an Australian born citizen. Unless the Minister moves in this regard, and if he deletes from the Bill the amendments passed by the Senate - the House of propriety and dignity - he will in effect be declaring to the world that Australian citizenship does not grant protection where it is most needed. The least we can do is state our views and stand firm in our convictions.
– I gave the honourable member a copy of the amendments. Why does he not read them?
– I will report the honourable member to Bob Hawke, so he should watch out. I do not know how you put up with honourable members opposite, Mr Chairman. I turn now to the second item under discussion. I marvel at the loose interpretation of fact and the playing with words. In his speech on the Royal style and titles for Australia the Honourable E. G. Whitlam, the self-styled, courteous and dignified Prime Minister of this country, said in this chamber that the removal of the words ‘Defender of the Faith’ has no historical or constitutional significance for Australia. Be that as it may, one can only express amazement and astonishment that the Minister for Immigration has deleted words which are of great traditional significance. What does tradition imply?
– It is a good job that the honourable member is reading this.
– The honourable member cannot even read. We should acknowledge our debt to those who contributed towards establishing our culture and way of life. 1 marvel at the deliberate attempts made by the Whitlam Government to break our traditional allegiances and friendships in the Commonwealth. I refer to such things as the removal from our postage stamps of the monarch’s head, the removal of the word ‘Commonwealth’ from our bank notes and the deliberate waste of public funds in removing the word ‘Commonwealth’ from the magnificent building erected by the previous Government which unfortunately has to house such people as the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) and the Labor administration.
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member that he speak to the amendment.
– I am developing a point.
– I think that the honourable member is developing the point in a very expansive manner. I suggest that he contract his remarks.
– I was making the point that the Government has removed words such as ‘Commonwealth’ at great public expense, and this money could have been-
– I suggest to the honourable gentleman that he come back to the question.
– Thank you very much, Mr Chairman, I thought that the money could have been better spent on cheaper rural telephones. I just want to make that point. The sum total of all this, as indicated in the suggested form of allegiance, is that the Labor Government is aiming deliberately at isolationist republicanism. Gone are our displays of affection for the monarch personally. This point was excellently raised by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). In case honourable members opposite do not know their history-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Three honourable members from this side of the House - the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes), the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) and the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) - were looking forward to waxing eloquent on this matter because they have deep feelings and deep dedication towards it. But time will not permit them to speak. Let me sum up the debate in this way: The honourable member from Queensland who has just resumed his seat is a member of a distinctive minority, because 71 per cent of all Queenslanders voted exactly opposite to the way he has spoken tonight. I would like to reply to the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who led for the Opposition. He made a most important point and I think that it is one that should be dealt with in the Parliament.
– Mr Chairman,-
– Order! The Minister will resume his seat. An honourable member is taking a point of order.
– My point of order is that the remarks of the Minister are personally offensive.
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. There is no point of order involved in any of the remarks the Minister has made. If the honourable member wishes to take further action, that is his decision.
– New boys in school often get their fingers in the tarts.
– Order! I will manage the House, thank you.
– May I just say, with all charity-
– I take a point of order. The Minister’s remark that new boys often get their fingers in the tarts is personally offensive to me. I ask him to withdraw it.
– It means ‘in the jam’.
– If the honourable member finds the words offensive I will ask the Minister to withdraw them.
– If the new boy finds that he has never had his fingers in the tarts I will withdraw it.
– Mr Chairman-
– I have just withdrawn it. Relax. May I just repeat what I said earlier?
– I take a point of order, Mr Chairman. I understand that the procedures of this House provide that each member shall be called by the name of the electorate which he repreesnts. The Minister’s words, ‘a new boy’, are personally offensive to me.
– Order! A number of the honourable member’s colleagues were chattering so loudly that he could not hear. The Minister withdrew those remarks. I suggest that if the honourable member’s own colleagues had remained a little more silent he would have heard the Minister’s remarks more clearly.
– Let me reiterate that 71 per cent of Queenslanders disagree with the honourable member and therefore I hope that he will apply himself to the poll. The one point I want to make, and I want to make it in concert with the Opposition, is that I think all of us in this Parliament are dedicated to ensuring that citizenship ceremonies in our nation will be carried out with the maximum of decorum and dedication. Certainly we are unanimous in our support of one allegiance, one criterion, one oath and one ceremony. It is on that basis that I commend our amendment to the Committee.
That the amendment (Mr Grassby’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided.
(The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
Section 7 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (2) and substituting the following sub-section: - “(2) The countries to which this section applies are the following countries and any other country declared by the regulations to be a country to which this section applies: -
People’s Republic of Bangladesh
– I move:
That the Bill be further amended by inserting in clause 5 before the words - “People’s Republic of Bangladesh” the words - “Commonwealth of the Bahamas”.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr Grassby) agreed to:
That in the message returning the Bill to the Senate, the Senate be requested to reconsider the Bill in respect of the amendment made by the House of Representatives to Clause 5.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I hope that what we have just witnessed will be the exception rather than the rule. What we have just seen seems rather strange after all the pure statements we have heard about what the Government would do in regard to giving time for everybody to put his point of view.
Last night the honourable member for Angus (Mr Giles) and the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) spoke about the removal of the exemption from sales tax on non-alcoholic carbonated beverages containing not less than 5 per cent of Australian fruit juice. The removal of the incentive for soft drink manufacturers to include fruit juice in their product puts in jeopardy outlets for approximately 50,000 tons of apples and 15,000 tons of citrus, and a market which is building up to 15,000 tons of pears. This is a significant amount of fruit, a significant percentage of the total Australian fruit production. This Budget decision comes at a time when the market outlets for fruit are being jolted by increasing freight rates and increasing European Economic Community levies. Reports come in that processors in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia have abruptly cancelled all future orders. Processors are left with large amounts of concentrate for which they now have no market. An article on page 2 of today’s Hobart ‘Mercury’ reports the possible dumping of one million bushels of apples next season. That is 15 to 17 per cent of the Tasmanian apple crop. Telegrams from the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association and from other grower associations have been sent to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriest). But the Minister, in replying to a question asked by Senator Louche yesterday, had a different opinion. He said:
I question the suggestion in the honourable senator’s remarks that this will have a marked effect on the manufacturers and also on the growers. He asked me specifically what the Government intends to do. The Treasurer spelt out quite clearly in the Budget Speech last night that any problems which arose for the growers or the industry as a result of this decision would be looked at as favourably as has been the case with other restructuring problems in the fruit industry.
That is a grim warning for the fruit industry, if it is expected to be only as favourable as the fruit grower reconstruction scheme has so far been.
The Minister for Primary Industry and the Treasurer <Mr Crean) both had a different view as to what would be provided for those hurt in the fruit industry from that of Dr Coombs’ demolition squad when it made its report. That report states:
If so, this would suggest that the concession may be an inefficient substitute for more rational schemes of both ‘minimum income’ . . . and for appropriate industry reconstruction schemes.
By the time Dr Coombs’ report had reached the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industry, all suggestion of a minimum income had been dropped. That was a most valuable suggestion because we see that, in the United States a minimum income agricultural policy has just been passed through the Congress of that country. A minimum income policy certainly would be of value to the industry. But these people are ignorant of what happens. If it meant that IS per cent of those in the industry could receive compensation for leaving it, that might not be so bad, but this does not happen. It means that all growers in the industry will have their already depleted incomes reduced even further. Very few apple growers, particularly in Tasmania, would be receiving even the basic wage at the present time.
In the Goulburn Valley pears for juicing form a most valuable addition to growers returns because off-sized pears - those that have already been picked and graded out as off-size for canning - can be used for juicing at no extra cost to the grower. This additional income is most valuable. The fruit industry has been told time and time again that it must diversify, that it must obtain new markets and get away from this tradition of canning everything. Already the fruit industry has done this. It has spent millions of dollars on world standard processing equipment in order to diversify. But what has happened? The industry has been kicked in its adam’s apple for doing it because it took seriously this advice to diversify.
We shall also look at what the honourable member for Robertson had to say on this question of compensation. We have the Coombs’ report saying that there should be a minimum income. We have the Treasurer saying that there should be reconstruction. The Minister for Primary Industry, in the answer to which I referred previously, said:
There will be an Increase in expenditure from Sim last year to $4m this year: I suppose that In a simple mathematical way one could say that one cancels out the other.
I have looked through the Budget documents. I have looked under the ‘heading ‘fruit industry’ to find reference to payments to industry. I find that payments to the fruit industry this year are down by $500,000. Although we find that payments will be down by $500,000, we must remember that some phoney accounts are being used for the industry. Growers payments are included as Government payments and transfer payments to and from the Reserve Bank are included as advances to industry. It is interesting to note that fruit industry grower research and promotion levies are included. We have an interesting figure of $2m for fruit growing reconstruction when last year only $400,000 could be spent because both the previous Government and this Government have refused to set down criteria that will allow the scheme to succeed. These are fond hopes. The honourable member for Robertson went off on another tack and said:
I understand that the amount of money set aside will be approximately the sum that normally would have finished up with fruit growers; that is about $5m. It will be put aside to assist fruit growers so that they will receive the same amount of money as before.
I think it is time, with all these contradictory statements, that the processing section of the fruit industry was told by somebody in authority what the Government is actually going to do to help it - whether there will be some sort of compensation fund, whether there will be a minimum income or whether there will be just ordinary fruit reconstruction. If there is to be ordinary fruit reconstruction, the criteria will have to be widened if the scheme is to be a success.
I ask the Government to reconsider its decision to abolish this incentive to include fruit juices in cordials. If the Government will not reconsider this decision because of its sudden death nature, it should do one of 3 things. It should postpone the introduction of this proposal for 12 months or it should do as was suggested to me in a rather long telegram from the northern Victorian fruit growers, and that is, to introduce a double rate sales tax - say, 10 per cent if fruit juice is included and 25 per cent if it is not included. In this way the Government’s income would be increased but there would still be an incentive to use fruit juice. The second proposition submitted by the fruit growers’ was that the exemption should be phased out over 3 years so that growers and processors have time to adjust.
There is a very interesting series of contradictions, because one of the curious omissions from the Coombs’ report is reference to the fact that income is foregone by sales tax exemption on grape wine and apple wine but sales tax is still imposed on other fruit wines. This is an injustice to the pear industry which I had hoped would have been rectified in this Budget. As a result of this action, children’s soft drinks will bear a rate of sales tax of 15 per cent but adults’ wine, whether it is apple or grape, will be free of sales tax. That does not appear to me to be socially just or desirable.
I do not have time to develop the other contradiction, and that is something that would not cost the Government any money if it abolished it. I refer to abolishing sales tax altogether on all fruit wines so that all other fruits can be put on the same basis as apples and grapes. But I return to this point about sales tax exemption if fruit juice is included. The Government should forget about the proposal, postpone it for 12 months, bring in a double rate of sales tax so that the incentive is still there to use fruit juice or phase it out over 3 years and give the industry a reasonable time in which to adjust instead of having the sudden death nature of the proposal.
– I wish to speak on the same subject. I generally support the contentions of the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd). The full repercussions of this decision by the Government were obviously not worked out by Dr Coombs or the Cabinet. It is easy to make a blanket decision to remove a sales tax exemption. It is easy to work out how much revenue will be gained by the decision - in this case $25m. But it is beyond the planners like Dr Coombs, the economists and the city “based experts, to understand the widespread repercussions of a decision to wipe out the sales tax exemption on non-alcoholic carbonated beverages containing not less than 5 per cent of Australian fruit juice. Citrus fruit growers in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales most certainly will be hit by this Budget decision, and so will the apple growers and the processing companies in my State of Tasmania and the processing companies in my State of Tasmania. Because of the secrecy which surrounds all budgets, none of us knew about this decision until we heard the Treasurer (Mr Crean) announce it on Tuesday night. It has placed us in an embarrassing position. No member who serves a rural electorate containing citrus fruit growers and apple growers can truthfully welcome this decision. I understand that the Coombs report suggested that this sales tax exemption be removed but that it did not overemphasise its removal or press for it unduly.
The position in regard to Tasmania is as follows: In 1959 a Tasmanian, who was a refugee German Jew, the late Mr Hans Jacob of Hobart, developed a new process for using apple juice in soft drinks. The process involved removing the colour and the taste from apple juice. It involved costly and sophisticated machinery and equipment. As a result of Hans Jacob’s brilliant research and processing knowhow, there has grown up around the world a multi-million dollar industry. Up to 1959 small and oversized and hail damaged apples had to be picked and destroyed or fed to the pigs. The process developed by Hans Jacob has meant to apple growers millions of dollars in income which prior to 1959 they did not receive. Growers are receiving 50c a bushel for these culled apples. In Tasmania culled apples are worth $500,000 a year to growers. One company alone, Port Huon Fruitgrowers Co-operative Association Ltd, uses 16,000 tons of these apples annually. As a result of the sales tax decision, one million bushels of apples will have to be dumped in Tasmania unless other uses for them can be found. In a world in which starvation is so acute in certain areas, the dumping of these apples would he a wicked waste of food. Not only will growers in our State lose income totalling $500,000 but road transporters will lose about $125,000 in cartage fees and Hobart business houses will feel the effects of the reduction in spending power.
Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of special juice extracting equipment and machinery will cease operating. One factory alone in Tasmania will have $400,000 worth of such equipment lying idle. Smaller processors such as the Cygnet Canning Co. Ltd, L. H. Roberts and Son and E. W. Seabrook and Co. which supply juice to the big processors in Hobart, such as Port Huon and W. D. Peacock and Co. Pty Ltd, also will suffer a serious loss of income. Mersey Valley growers, located in the electorate of Braddon, have, I believe, signed a contract to supply these sorts of apples to Schweppes (Aust.) Ltd in Hobart.
That contract will now fall through. The decolourised and deflavoured -juices go from Tasmania by ship to mainland ports to serve giant processors such as the Golden Circle Cannery in Queensland, Tom Piper Ltd and Plaimar Ltd in South Australia and Western Australia.
– They have all cancelled thenorders.
– I understand that they all cancelled their orders within a few hours of this announcement in the Budget Speech. The juice is transported in 45-gallon stainless steel drums to its destinations. This Budget decison will mean that 20,000 tons of shipping space will be lost to Tasmania in one year.
One of the worst features and repercussions of this decision is that orders for this treated apple juice ceased yesterday and one processor in Hobart has $600,000 worth of juice on hand. This specially treated apple juice is no good for anything else. It is processed, decolourised and deflavoured for one purpose only - to go into the manufacture of cordials and soft drinks throughout this country. Surely this is one area in which the promised assistance by the Treasurer is necessary. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer said, at page 27:
In abolishing the exemption the Government stands ready to provide such funds as may be necessary to assist with the reconstruction of any sectors of the fruitgrowing industry that may be affected.
I hope that the Treasurer, who is present in the House tonight, will bear in mind what I am saying and what was said last night by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) and the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) and tonight by the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd). Soft drink manufacturers will immediately use synthetic juices to replace apple juice which they previously used. The price of soft drinks will rise by 3c on a 26 oz bottle; but if the retailer seeks his pound of flesh another lc could be added, thus lifting the cost of a 26 oz bottle of soft drink from 22c to 25c or 26c. Without warning, how can growers and processors adjust to such a decision as that which was announced by the Treasurer in this Budget Speech. The suggestion by my friend the honourable member for Murray that the exemption from sales tax should be phased out in a manner similar to the phasing out of the dairy subsidy is a sound common sense proposal.
I know that the processors will do their best to absorb some of these culled apples into pure apple juice production. There has been a huge increase in the production of pure apple juice in the past 4 years. This move has been quite dramatic. There is a tremendous increase in the consumption of this very marvellous drink, pure apple juice. It is becoming an increasingly popular beverage. However, there is no way known whereby one million bushels of apples can be processed for apple juice production. Processors will be able to absorb some of them but nothing like the tremendous quantity of one million bushels which will have to be picked off the trees. They have to be picked if they are damaged or if they are small or oversized. The apples which are not absorbed by processors will have to be dumped. This will create pollution in the Huon Valley in Tasmania and in any other place where they are dumped. I believe that processors should receive some compensation for the juice which they now hold in store and which they cannot sell. The manager of the Port Huon Co-operative told me today that yesterday he sent cables all round the world to try to find a market for this specially treated apple juice of which his firm has $600,000 worth in store. He does not expect very much response to those cables.
The growers should receive compensation for the loss of this important outlet of culled apples. The companies in Tasmania that make the wooden bins which are no longer required also should be compensated because that is their livelihood and they will go out of business. I trust that fully documented submissions requesting assistance will be sent to the Treasurer within the next few months so that he can have a good look at the whole story piece by piece and State by State. The position might vary slightly from State to State but the problems are basically the same. He has promised that assistance will be forthcoming where difficulty has been caused as a result of this decision on sales tax. Knowing him, I am sure that he will do his best to get money for those who are affected by the decision. I have with me a telegram from the Chairman of the State Fruit Board in Tasmania and Mr Chapman, the Chairman of the Tasmanian Fruit Processors Association. It was sent to the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) and myself today. It reads:
Amendment to sales tax Act deleting exemptions on usage fruit juices has most serious consequences Tasmanian apple industry. Growers will be denied outlet for over one million bushels of juice grade apples because soft drink manufacturers will turn to cheaper substitute raw material such as water and sugar. It can be expected that soft drink manufacturers will be reluctant to take delivery of orders placed for 1973 concentrate juice now packed awaiting shipment and will have very little interest if any in placing orders ex-1974 apple crop. Please inform other Tasmanian members.
The case has been put by 5 members for consideration by the Treasurer.
-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I must quietly congratulate the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) on having the courage to get on to his feet tonight and take up the case for an industry in his electorate. I am very pleased to have from all quarters of the House support for what I said last night. One can only ponder as to the whereabouts of those other people who did all the talking about fruit in the past. Are they hiding behind Cabinet solidarity? What is their reason for not sparing a word or two at this stage for the sake of those in their electorates who have been so heavily hit by this decision on sales tax? In my electorate of Angas the people who have been hit hardest are the brandy producers. They have been hit 3 ways. On top of that they have to contend with the removal of the sales tax exemption. The honourable member for Wilmott showed great courage in talking from his side of the House on this matter tonight.
There is another matter which is of very great concern to my electorate and which I intend to touch on this evening. Some honourable members of this House may remember that some time ago I spoke in a perhaps intemperate fashion about the fact that the River Murray water quality was not being protected. I said that this Government was not interested in the protection of the quality of the water downstream in South Australia. I pointed out that South Australia was on the end of the drain and had a vested interest. I pointed out that Albury and Wodonga could not help but pollute areas downstream that depended on high quality water. I also pointed out that the Premier of South Australia and the Labor Government were deficient in their responsibilities to that State because they would not seek a firm agreement on water quality and that all they had done at that stage, when they had been flushed out, if I may use the term, prior to a State election, was to come out with a few blithe words to the effect that they were watching this problem very carefully.
When I said this and when I got quite a reasonable Press in the South Australian Advertiser’ for a mere back bencher I was accused by the Deputy Premier of South Australia of being a headline hunter. The worm turned with a vengeance this afternoon. In Adelaide the Leader of the State Opposition, Bruce Eastick, asked the Deputy Premier, Mr Corcoran, whether there was any truth in the task force statement from Dr Coombs that progress on the construction of the Dartmouth Dam would be slowed down in order to try to save the Government, which has been guilty of such rank over-expenditure in the public sector, from more embarrassment. The Deputy Premier of my State immediately assured the House that there was no such contention. He stated that as long as the Labor Party was in control of the future water supply of South Australia there would be no question about a proper guaranteed water supply. An hour later a letter was delivered. It went up and down the front bench of the State Labor Government while complexions turned progressively paler, so I am informed.
The Deputy Premier, in the absence of Mr Dunstan who was away sick, then had to get up and say that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), whom I contacted 40 minutes ago to let him know I was going to speak on this matter, had written a letter to the South Australian Premier requesting in very severe terms that there be no further contracts let. This is my information. I am a long way from Adelaide now, but I hope this is near enough to the spirit of the letter. The letter pointed out that there was benefits to all 4 parties to the agreement if the rate of expenditure were to be slowed down. What economic nonsense this is. Does one start to put money into something and then let it lie idle just because there is a big river flowing at present but no snow up in the Alps to substantiate the flow of water into South Australia, the State that is on the end of the drain? Does one then support such a contention from a Prime Minister who has been on record before as saying that the Ord is nothing but an economic tragedy? Honourable members will forgive the people of South Australia if they do not think that the Prime Minister is very genuine in wanting to conserve water for the driest State in the driest continent of the world, whose entire future industrial progress and that of the irrigators in my own electorate is dependent on quantity and quality of water from this source.
A Liberal-Country League Premier of South Australia got himself, shall I say, into a state of disrepair when he fought to get a 37 per cent increase of available water for that State. He gave away the building of Chowilla Dam because there was better quality and a greater quantity of water available from the Dartmouth Dam if it were built. These are the facts. I want to say to the House at this stage that without the interference of the Premier of Souh Australia the Dartmouth Dam would now be built. He played politics in a State seat at the top end of my electorate next door to the electorate of my colleague and won the seat for one session, but it has now returned because people are starting to wake up. I hope that the State Government has the intestinal fortitude to make quite sure that it does not agree to this rotten suggestion implied in the Whitlam letter. Just because this Government has overspent left, right and centre and has had to ask Dr Coombs to try to rescue it by saving money here, there and everywhere, why should it penalise a State - or attempt to do so - which is only one party to the 4 agreements? Why penalise the only State that is entirely dependent for its water supply on the one and only river that runs through it?
I remember full well today the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) - who is notorious for his absence from these debates affecting electors at present - trying to heap abuse on this side of the chamber in relation to the ‘Burdekin Dam. What confidence will the people of the Burdekin River area have in him in future when he cannot even honour an agreement solemnly signed between all 4 parties to it? The Prime Minister is trying to get out of his extravangance by pushing the people of South Australia to the wall, when everybody knows that they are entirely dependent on that one source of water.
Mr Speaker, you will excuse me for sounding perhaps more emotional about things than usual tonight but this is a very serious thing for my electorate which is starved of irrigation water in normal years and which is not seeking to expand its irrigation area as are some other electorates in the Commonwealth which are further up the main stream of the Murray. Our only request, which is reason able, is to allow South Australia to exist, to expand a little industrially and to use more water - per head as the standard of living improves. People in South Australia are not attempting to increase irrigation waters in that State. As honourable members know, the farmers in my electorate are almost entirely involved in profitable enterprises. I might add that 92 per cent of the brandy supply of the entire country is at risk, not only from the effects of the Budget but also from the lack of water. Although I let the Prime Minister know that I would be raising this matter tonight I hope that he does not get away by the use of coercion and force with his centralist sympathies in trying to put a small State and small industries under his sway in order to swell his own ego or in order to patch up the extravagance of his other policies.
– I would like to reply briefly to two or three of the honourable gentlemen who tonight have raised matters that impinge upon my responsibility. My friend from Angas (Mr Giles) claimed that he was more emotional tonight than usual. ‘He certainly was no more rational than usual.
– That is only in your judgment.
– I think his was not the best digested case, if I might say so, and a little politically biased. In relation to his remarks and those of the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) and my friend from Wilmot (Mr Duthie) about the question of carbonated fruit drinks, I should simply like to ask them to reflect upon the words in the Budget Speech. They will have an opportunity later, when the necessary Sales Tax Bill comes before the House, to argue this matter in more detail. In the Budget Speech I indicated that the previous scheme was giving minimum benefit to the fruit growers and maximum benefit to other .people. I do not often name commercial products but in my view one of the world’s worst drinks is Coca Cola. Merely to come within the provisions of a 5 per cent content of fruit in order to escape the sales tax I think is typical and indicative of how concerned some companies are about the fruit growers and how concerned they are about their own pockets.
What I pointed out the other night was that these drinks should be treated in the same way as drinks that have no fruit content. If anybody in this House can argue that Coca Cola is better because it has a minimum of 5 per cent fruit content rather than none, I would be happy to have the explanation. But because these drinks have the minimum fruit content the fruit growers are able to sell $5m worth of fruit juice and I lose $25m in revenue. I have indicated that I would prefer to give $5m directly to the fruit industry. It would be much better to sell pure fruit juice than adulterated fruit juice, which is what it is. It was for that reason we chose to do what we did. I described the previous arrangement as a classic example of trying to do the right thing in the wrong way.
– Will this be $5m each year?
– If the fruit industry can show that it has a detriment to that extent, yes, but I would be surprised that if it did not use a little more initiative it could not sell the product on its own merits. There is still no sales tax on drinks that contain more than 5 per cent of fruit content. If the Coca Cola company would less adulterate its product and make it 10 per cent fruit content it would sell twice as much and I might be prepared to look at this situation on that basis. What I am saying is that the company has sailed within the minimum confines and has received the maximum benefits. What we want is a scheme that will give the maximum benefit, and I am sure that all honourable members who have spoken tonight are really more concerned about the fruit industry than they are about the carbonated drink industry. I think that once certain tax benefits are perverted by certain areas of industry we are entitled to take steps to correct the position. That is what is being done.
I am willing, as one of my colleagues said, to receive any representations and I hope that they will be adequately documented. I think one of the best drinks in the world is 100 per cent apple juice. Some companies include a 5 per cent fruit content in their product simply because the Government has provided a concession? Why was the percentage as low as 5 per cent? Products containing 25 to 50 per cent pure fruit are not taxed. We regarded the concession as a lurk which is being used not to the advantage of the fruit industry but to the advantage of these firms, many of which are of the multi-national variety. I have heard all sorts of stories about what happens if one puts a silver coin in a bottle of Coca Cola. I have never wanted to go that far because, to begin with, I think it is overcarbonated and not ‘fruitised’, if I may use that expression. At least this is one of the things that we have recognised.
On the question of brandy, I do not think the industry is really struggling as much as the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) suggests. Rum producers in Australia at least now think that I have given them some equality in respect of brandy.
– You have given them an advantage. It is a pure by-product of another industry.
– They say it removed a disadvantage. Here we are at the point of semantics but if the brandy industry at some later point of time can show me that it has been battered to the ground as a result of this action, which would greatly surprise me, I will be prepared to hear representations. But I do not like belly-aching in advance. I can understand it because if one does not howl first one is sometimes not taken notice of eventually. At least no detriment has as yet been suffered by that industry. It imagines that it might.
– It has a case before the Tariff Board yet you are saying that a disadvantage is not being suffered.
– All I am saying is that a very marginal difference has been made to that industry. This is indicative of many situations that exist in the community. People who might survive otherwise are surviving better than they would because subsidies are being given to them. Sometimes there are cases for subsidies but I believe that all subsidies, when they are given, should be revealed rather than concealed. The Coombs Report has revealed comprehensively for the first time the way many things have been concealed over a long time. Many years ago there was a reason for doing certain things but there is not necessarily the same necessity in 1973 to preserve them. Some of the Government’s proposals will not begin to have impact until later this financial year. If people find that they have suffered detriment to the point where they are likely to be exterminated, I will be willing to listen to them, but I think many are receiving benefits that were introduced many years ago which they no longer require. Insofar as they do not require them and they are being maintained, they are getting them to the disadvantage of other sections of the community. The purpose of the Budget has been to try to strip away many of the these provisions.
Ohe of the greatest difficulties in improving welfare payments has been what was described in the Budget speech as the erosion of the tax base. People’s taxable income was being reduced considerably by varoius types of devices about which, whilst they once may have had some validity, there is doubt whether that validity exists any longer. I simply say that in defence of the action that has been taken. I have noted the statements made tonight and if well documented cases are put to me showing detriment, I will at least look at them sympathetically.
– I simply want to place on record my reaction to certain matters of principle which arose in the speech of the Treasurer (Mr Crean). I think that speech shows what socialism in action really is. The Treasurer very graciously said that if an industry, by reason of the action that the Government has taken, found itself near to extermination and down on its knees, he would do something about it. Is it necessary for Australian industry, whether it be. brandy or anything else, to be subjected to this kind of principle - ‘Down on your knees and nearly exterminated’? We have a socialist Treasurer, well meaning but not very well versed in some of the practicalities of life. He is quite willing to use the power of the Government socialistically to bring in measures the effect of which he does not know. He says graciously that if as a result of these measures an industry gets near to extermination - I think those were his exact words - he would like to have a look at it again to see whether the industry which has been brought near to extermination could perhaps receive a little relief from a gracious government. This is what socialism in action really is. This is what the bureaucracy is up to, because even a bureaucracy with the best intentions can often make a mistake. One thinks, for example, of the Karmel Committee report which is before the country and the House at present. Everybody knows that in that report are gross errors of fact, gross errors of judgment and gross inequalities.
Debate interrupted. -Mr SPEAKER-Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the resolution of the House, the House stands adjourned until 11 a.m., Tuesday next.
House adjourned at 11 p.m., until Tuesday next at 11 a.m., or until such time thereafter as Mr Speaker takes the Chair.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Commonwealth Departments and Authorities: Accommodation (Question No. 591)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:
What has been the cost of alterations and additions to Parliament House in each of the last ten years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
How many people in the Electoral Division of Murray were in receipt of each category of repatriation pension as at 1 May 1973.
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Figures are not available to show the exact position as at 1 May 1973 but computer records as at 28 May 1973 indicated that there were 3,313 persons resident in the Electoral Division of Murray receiving a pension from the Repatriation Department. This should reflect the position as at 1 May 1973.
These pensioners are divided into the following categories:
War Pension (Dependants of Deceased Ex-servicemen)
War widows - 260.
Other dependants - 14.
Pension paid on behalf of other countries - 14.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
All buildings and premises occupied by the Repatriation Department and not owned by the Commonwealth are the responsibility of the Department of Services and Property and would have been included in the particular’s supplied by the Minister for Services and Property in his answer to Question No. 174 (Hansard, 16 May 1973, page 2250). Separate details relating to the Repatriation Department are as follows:
Range of rentals:
asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
National Capital Development Commission: Survey of Flood Peak Levels in Tnggeranong District (Question No. 213)
asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Will he give an assurance that the Army Survey Regiment at Fortuna, ‘Bendigo, will not be transferred from Bendigo to another area.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I am unable to give the honourable member the assurance he seeks. Present planning provides for the Army Survey Regiment to commence moving from Bendigo to Bonegilla in the late 1970s with the last elements moving in H978 or 1979. As I have previously stressed to the honourable member, these are planning dates only. It is possible that the emergence of higher priority projects or the diversion of capital funds could affect this planning.
The honourable member already has my undertaking to keep him informed of all developments as they occur and to provide the maximum notice possible of the intended movement.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) Yes.
Confidential Documents: Retention by Ministers (Question No. 462)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Will he supply details which indicate the trend in recruiting and retention rates in each of the three Services at appropriate intervals between 1 January 1971 and 31 March 1973.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) The Department of ‘Urban and Regional Development occupies space on a sub-lease basis in a privately owned bulding in Canberra. The rental is at the rate of $5.00 per square foot. No other accommodation is occupied outside Canberra.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In addition, the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation shares non-Commonwealth office space in
Canberra and Sydney with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. These premises are rented by the Authority and the Corporation shares the rental.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1 have had a survey made and the following information has been provided for me in respect of parts (.1), (2) and (3) of the honourable member’s question, as at 20 July 1973. It should be noted that Committees comprising only government officials (including those involving participation by State and local government officials) are excluded. To have included such information would have involved additional time and expense that I am reluctant to authorise, as was the former Prime Minister in relation to similar questions involving the assembly of detailed answers.
The salary ranges shown do not include increases resulting from the recent National Wage decision.
Aboriginal Languages in Schools Advisory Group on Teaching
Aboriginal Land Rights Commission
The terms of reference are: The appropriate means to recognise and establish the traditional rights and interests of the Aborigines in and in relation to land, and to satisfy in other ways the reasonable aspirations of the Aborigines to rights in or in relation to land, and, in particular, but without in any way derogating from the generality of the foregoing-
and (3) The Aboriginal Land Rights Commission has no public servants on its staff.
A.C.T. Education AuthorityAssessment Panel
The terms of reference were:
In particular the panel should consider:
The form and membership of the education authority.
The relations between the authority and professional and community groups.
The position of individual schools in the system and their relationship with the authority.
To report to the Minister for Education by the end of May on the most suitable form of education authority for the A.C.T. with regard to the submissions received.
Aircraft Industry Working Group
The Australian Post Office Commission of Inquiry
The range of services to the public and their adequacy to meet present and future needs, including services as affected by proposals approved but not yet implemented;
The financing of recurrent and capital costs;
Management staff relations, including the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board;
Responsibilities of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission and the division of functions between that Commission and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department;
Urban and regional development;
Procurement of supplies with the aim of developing Australian industries;
The performance of work by contract; and Other matters to which the attention of the
Commission is particularly directed by the PostmasterGeneral in the course of the inquiry.
Australian Pre-schools Committee
The terms of reference are: (a) Pending its establishment under the statute as the Australian Pre-. Schools Commission the Australian Pre-Schools Committee will examine and make recommendations to the Minister for Education as to the measures which the Australian Government should adopt to ensure that in the States, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory:
child care centres for children below school age are established to meet the needs of children of working parents and underprivileged families.
In carrying out its task the Committee will:
review relations with the Australian Pre-School Association and its affiliated organisations including the Lady Gowrie Centres.
the conditions under which Australian Government funds are to be made available.
Other recurrent expenditure on approved child care centres, subject to payment of fees at a reasonable level taking account of parents’ capacity to pay; and
A contribution towards the cost of approved supervisory services provided by the States, local government authorities and voluntary non-profit making bodies to develop the program.
The Committee will report annually and the Minister will promptly make these and other reports public.
Australian Schools Commission - Interim Committee
(a) Pending the establishment under statute of the Australian Schools Commission which will make continuing arrangements, the Interim Committee will:
Grants from the Australian Government to the States in respect of both government and non-government schools;
Funds for government schools and grants to non-government schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The conditions under which those grants are to be made available.
work towards establishing acceptable standards for those schools, government and nongovernment alike, which fall short of those standards;
Where necessary, both the expansion of existing schools and the establishment of new ones;
The particular needs of schools for the handicapped, whether mental, physical or social, and of isolated children;
The diversity of curricula to meet differing aptitudes and interests of students;
Plans for development of particular areas.
consult with the States and representatives of non-government schools and with appropriate authorities in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory.
directed towards increased expenditure on schools and not in substitution for continuing efforts by the States and non-government school authorities.
Citizen Military Forces Committee of Inquiry
The terms of reference are:
and (3) No public servants staff the Committee.
Committee on National Uniform Safety Code for Australian Government Employment
The Computerisation of Criminal Data Committee
The officers concerned accommodate the work associated with the Committee as part of their normal duties.
The Computerisation of Legal Data Committee
The officers concerned accommodate the work associated with the Committee as part of their normal duties.
Education for Community Recreation Workers
The terms of reference are:
and (3) There are no public servants staffing the Committee.
Employment Service Statistics
Advisory Committee on Australian Government Employment Service Statistics
The trend in labour demand and economic activity;
The overall level of unused labour resources in the economy;
The distribution of current demand and supply of labour by occupation, industry, geographical area, etc.
With this in mind the Committee should consider and make recommendations to the Secretary of the Department of Labour relating to such matters as:
any other matters which the Committee considers relevant to its inquiry and advice.
Health Insurance Planning Committee
Homeless Men and Women - Working Party
Other areas examined by the Working Party included the specific employment problems and accommodation needs of unattached and itinerant persons, health and disablement, heavy drinking, law enforcement and imprisonment, social security benefits, recreation facilities and counselling services.
In addition to the above the Minister when establishing the Working Party expressed the expectation that the work of the Committee would help to inform the general community about the problems of this group in society. The Working Party’s report has been released.
Industries Assistance Commission- Inquiry Re Formation of
The Committee reported on 19 June 1973.
Lake Pedder Inquiry
The terms of reference are:
Whether there was at any stage insufficient or inadequate investigation of factors relevant to the decision to flood the Lake;
The legal or administrative procedures leading to the making of such decision.
In making such investigation the Committee will concern itself with the facts and matters of principle and will not attempt to attribute fault or blame should any deficiencies in investigational or administrative procedures become apparent.
In pursuing its inquiries and making its recommendations, the Committee is authorised and requested to seek information and assistance from such Governmental, statutory or private bodies and such persons or organisations, and to make such interim and final reports, as it sees fit, on any aspect of the various matters falling within the scope of the Inquiry. The Committee has been asked to prepare its final report before 31 July 1973.
Medical Fees Tribunal
The terms of reference are: To determine, for the purpose of the fixing of medical benefits and after such inquiry as is necessary -
In making its determinations the Tribunal is to have regard, in particular, to the following:
the intention of the Australian Government that the fees adopted as the basis of fixing medical benefits after receipt of the determinations will not be generally varied before 30 June 1975.
National Commission on Social Welfare
The Commission has the right to confer with, and accept submissions from, people and organisations, private and public (including Governments).
The functions of the Commission are to:
priorities are set;
National Estate Task Force
The terms of reference are:
The Department of Urban and Regional Development expects to staff most of the positions with full-time public servants, but positions of Typist, etc. may well have to be staffed by part-time temporary employees.
National Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation
National Hospital and Health Services Commission
The Commission is to be guided in its work by the principle that a high standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every Australian without distinction of race, creed, political belief, or economic or social condition.
Because of the complementary nature of the responsibilities of the Commission and of the Department of Health, and because that Department will implement the recommendations of the Commission that are accepted by the Government the Commission will keep the Department of Health fully informed on its activities. The Department, for its part, will provide expertise and general support for the Commission.
Draft Terms of Reference:
Recommend on allocations by the Australian Government specifically to promote the establishment and maintenance of State health planning agencies for the planning of health, hospital and healthrelated welfare services in accordance with the following principles:
Allocations to be considered only for facilities and services not operated for profit
High quality care is to be provided without non-essential frills (depending on circumstances, such things as gift shops, beauty parlours, news stands, postal services and needlessly selective menus may be considered as nonessential).
The institution is not to provide facilities or services more elaborate than is considered necessary to perform the functions allotted to it in the regional plan.
Review procedures are to be developed to ensure that only those patients are admitted to, or detained in, grant aided or subsidised hospitals whose medical needs cannot be met by available alternatives to hospital care.
Comprehensive and integrated domiciliary care services are to be developed with the aim of ensuring that only those patients are admitted to or detained in nursing homes whose requirements cannot be met by domicilary services provided in their own homes or in residential facilities other than nursing homes.
Programs of information (for example, on smoking, diet, drugs, exercise, recreation, and the environment) to , improve the habits, conditions and environment that precede disease processes.
The Interim Committee’s first report ‘A Community Health Program for Australia’ was tabled in Parliament on 30 May 1973.
National Population Inquiry
The purpose of the Inquiry is to determine the best possible size, composition and distribution for Australia’s population at various stages up to the year 2000.
It lakes into account such factors as:
The situation in countries to which Australia is linked through migration, trade, political affairs or geography.
Contemporary population theories and their economic, social and ecological implications.
The natural growth potential of Australia’s population, variations in rates and patterns between different parts of the Commonwealth, and the influence of internal and external migration. This includes the Aboriginal population, both in the total situation, and as a separate sub-study.
The impact of technological advance, together with changes in total population, on the usage of resources and the distribution of Australia’s population, and
Factors bearing on the distribution of Australia’s population and the desirability, scope for and feasibility of effecting substantial changes in these distribution patterns.
National Rehabilitation and Compensation Scheme Inquiry
The terms of reference are: To inquire into and report on the scope and form of, and the manner of instituting and administering, a national rehabilitation and compensation scheme appropriate to Australia and which in principle the Australian Government has decided to establish, for the purpose of rehabilitating and compensating every person who at any time or in any place suffers a personal-injury (including pre-natal injury) and whether the injury be sustained on the road, at work, in the home, in the school or elsewhere or is an industrial disease with particular reference to:
National Superannuation Committee of Inquiry
The terms of reference are:
the financial, economic and social implications of such proposals and schemes in the Australian setting.
In fulfilling this task the Committee will have regard to the Government’s objective to abolish the means test within the life of the present Parliament for those aged 65 years and over and to increase the basic rate of pension to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings progressively by twice annual increases of at least $1.50 a week.
Voluntary early or deferred retirement
Mortality grant for surviving spouse
the best way in which free-of-means test benefits could be either replaced by or integrated into, the national superannuation scheme.
Nursing Homes Fees Review - Committees of Inquiry (All States)
Open University Inquiry
The terms of reference of the Committee, which has been established under section 17 of the Australian Universities Commission Act 1959-1971 are: (a)To inquire into the desirability and means of expanding opportunities in Australia for extra mural degree courses of university standard and to make recommendations to the Australian Universities Commission.
and (3) No public servants were specially appointed or seconded to . staff the Committee. Officers of the Secretariat to the Australian Universities Commission provide support for all Committees of the Commission and inquiries in which the Commission is involved as part of their normal duties.
The terms of reference are to investigate:
On 19 July 1973 the Inquiry was broadened so that ‘specialist’ areas, not previously covered specifically in the terms of reference, might be investigated. The additional terms of reference for Professor Sackville are:
To investigate the effect of the law and the legal system upon the poor and other disadvantaged groups and individuals in the Australian community and, in particular, to examine:
Those areas of substantive law, whether Federal or State, that are of special significance to the poor.
The delivery of legal services to the poor, including the nature and scope of existing legal aid and referral services, whether administered through the legal profession or not, and their effectiveness in meeting the perceived and unperceived needs of the poor; barriers to the effective use of legal aid services and methods of overcoming those barriers; alternative forms of legal advice and assistance, including those offered in connection with non-legal services.
The administration of the system of criminal and civil justice insofar as it affects the poor and other vulnerable groups such as migrants and children appearing in Children’s Courts.
The legal rights of recipients of social welfare assistance.
The additional terms of reference for the Reverend Martin are:
To investigate social/medical aspects of poverty, including:
Community services where persons involved in health and social welfare meet to work together for example health/welfare centres, mental health, rehabilitation and family planning services.
Relationship between poverty and major illnesses in the community of a social/medical nature.
The additional terms of reference for Mr Fitzgerald are:
The nature and extent of educational and cultural disadvantage among the poor and the ways in which it leads to poverty in successive generations.
Existing educational and cultural services to ascertain their adequacy in meeting the needs of the poor, and how they might best be improved in order to overcome education and cultural disadvantage.
Professor Henderson - one position, Second Division, Level 1 ($14,479); one position. Chief Statistical Officer, . Class 10 ($11,256-11,688); one position. Social Worker, Class 3 ($8,101-8,704); one position, Social Worker, Class 2 ($7,256-7,859); one position, Clerk, Class 9 ($10,393-10,824); one position, Senior Project Officer Class 8 ($9,529-9,961); two positions, Clerk, Class 7 ($8,518-9,097); one position, Clerk, Class 6 ($7,651-8,230); one position, Steno-secretary, Grade 1 ($4,325-4,625); two positions, Stenographer, Grade 1 ($3,805-4,065).
Professor Gates- One position, Clerk, Class 7 ($8,518-9,097); one position, Steno-secretary, Grade 1 ($4,325-4,625).
Mr Fitzgerald Ons position. Clerk, Class 9 ($10,393to10,824); three positions, Clerk, Class 7 ($8,518-9,097); one position, Clerk, Class 4 ($5,923- 6,571); one position, Research Officer, Grade 1 ($5,144-6,571); one position, Steno-secretary, Grade 1 ($4,325-4,625).
Rev. Martin- Two positions, Clerk, Class 7 ($8,518-9,097); two positions, Research Officer, Grade 1 ($5,144-6,571); one position, Clerk, Class 4 ($5,923- 6,571); one position, Steno-secretary, Grade 1 ($4,325-4,625); one position, Typist, Grade 1 ($1,688- 3,675).
Professor Sackville- -One position. Clerk, Class 7 ($8,518-9,097); one position. Senior Research Officer, Grade 1 ($7,651-8,230); one position. Research Officer, Grade 1 ($5,144-6,571); one position, Stenosecretary, Grade 1 ($4,325-4,625).
Recreation in Australia- The Role, Scope and Development of
The terms of reference are:
and (3) There are no Public Servants staffing the Committee.
Advisory Council on Social Security/Welfare
There are no specific terms of reference but when the Minister extended invitations to people to serve on the Council he indicated that its members would be asked to give consideration to several matters of importance to the development of improved social security and social welfare services. He instanced:
The establishment of an appeals and complaints system to which people who feel they have been treated unfairly in the assessment or provision of social security benefit or service entitlements can take their grievances, and
Consider the content and need for recasting Departmental manuals used in connection with the processing of applications for benefits.
Subsequently the Minister asked the Council to consider the effect that maintenance procedures have on payments of social security entitlements.
Steel Prices: Inquiry into Proposed Increases
The terms of reference were: To inquire into and to report as soon as practicable whether the steel prices increases proposed by The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and Australian Iron & Steel Pty Ltd are justified in whole or in part, having regard to:
and (3) No public servants were on the staff of the Committee.
Technical and Further Education - Australian Committee
The terms of reference are:
The Committee will furnish information and advice to the Minister for Education on matters relating to the development of technical and further education in Australia including financial assistance to the States in relation to institutions in the States. That information and advice will include:
In carrying out its task the Committee will take into account:
For the purpose of the Committee technical and further education is defined as post-school education (other than that conducted by institutions supported through the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education) conducted by institutions administered or maintained by a government education authority. The Committee will not be concerned with grants for training within industry.
Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenures
The terms of reference are:
the use of the lease purpose clause as a land use control measure for town planning purposes;
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
The terms of reference are: To inquire Into and report on matters referred to it by resolution of the House, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs or by motion of the committee within the following terms:
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation
The terms of reference are to inquire into and report on:
House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety
The terms of reference are: To inquire into and report on:
Note. In addition to the staff listed for the foregoing Committees, a Senior Parliamentary Officer Class 11, ($12,120-12,551) has the overall responsibility for the House of Representatives Committee Office. Certain staff not attached to any particular committee provide general research, administrative and clerical assistance in the Committee Office. These are- two positions, Parliamentary Officer, Class 5, ($6,787- 7,434); one position, Clerical Assistant, Grade 3, ($4,020-4,392); one position, Attendant, Grade 1, ($4,026-4,214).
Senate Select Committee on Shipping Services Between King Island, Stanley and Melbourne
The terms of reference were: To inquire into and report upon - whether there is justification for not immediately employing the M.V. Straitsman to operate snipping services between King Island, Stanley and Melbourne having regard to:
For operation by the Australian National Line
By private interests or without subsidy,
any other consideration considered relevant by the Committee.
The two officers assigned to assist this Committee were seconded from other Committee duties for the period of five weeks involved.
Senate Select Committee on Civil Rights of Migrant Australians
The terms of reference are: To inquire into and report upon the following matters:
the unwarranted deprivation of liberty, privacy or good reputation; and, if so, what review or amendment of the law or administrative or judicial procedures is necessary or desirable;
Note: In addition certain staff not attached to any particular committee provide administrative and clerical assistance in the Committee Office.
These are: Seven positions, Steno-secretary, Grade 1 ($4,325-4,625); three positions. Clerical Assistant, Grade 3 ($4,020-4,392); one position Attendant, Grade 1 ($4,026-4,214).
Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory
The terms of reference are:
Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings - Inquiry into the Televising of Parliamentary Proceedings
The terms of reference are: To inquire into and report on:
Joint Committee on Prices
The terms of reference are: To inquire into and, as appropriate, report upon:
One position, Parliamentary Officer, Class 10, ($11,256-11,688); three positions, Parliamentary Officer, Class 9, ($10,393-10,824); two positions, Parliamentary Officer, Class 7, ($8,518-9,097); two positions, Parliaments Officer, Class 5, ($6,787-7,434); one position,.
Clerical Assistant, Grade 4, ($4,516-4,764); one position, Steno-Secretary, Grade 1, ($4,325-4,625); two positions, typist, Grade 2, ($3,805-4,065).
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth Railways advise that there would be some sections of track below ‘standard’ condition at a particular time pending resleepering and/ or ballasting.
However with regard to inadequate track standards it must be remembered that what was adequate 20 years ago may not be adequate now and a track inadequate for the amount of traffic now carried on it may still be perfectly safe with the axle loads and train speeds currently prescribed by the operating authority.
All systems match the allowable speed with axle loads and standard of construction.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
One Private Secretary.
One Press Secretary.
One Adviser/Research Officer.
Two Assistant Private Secretaries.
One Steno-secretary, Grade 1.
One Secretary/ Typist.
I have also said that once the staff appointments had been completed, I would make available to the House the details of the staff employed by each Minister and by Office holders of the NonGovernment Parties. This information will need to take account of the recent review of Ministerial staff arrangements undertaken by the Government in consultation with the Public Service Board but I would expect that my colleague, the Special Minister of State, who is now responsible for these matters, will be able to provide details soon.
The honourable member should also be aware that on 12 April (House of Representatives Hansard page 1464) in answer to an earlier similiar question by him I provided the numbers and salaries of my own personal staff. Since then there have been some minor changes in the classification and designation of some positions but the total number of staff provided for the Prime ‘Minister and Foreign Minister has not altered. Details will of course be included in the material to be provided by the Special Minister of State.
The Government has employed Ministerial staff since 5 December 1972. Essentially the conditions of service for Ministerial staff are as prescribed under the Public Service Act 1922-1973 and Public Service Regulations except that temporary employees may be exempt from certain provisions relating mainly to conditions of recruitment.
The honourable member will be aware that constitutionally Ministers are appointed to administer departments of State. It follows that much of the work performed by a department will be of a policy, liaison or secretarial nature initiated by the responsible Minister. I am not prepared to authorise the extensive clerical work which would be required to determine the number of staff engaged in such essential departmental activities.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Appointments are normally reported in the Press and I am not prepared to initiate the additional inquiries that would be necessary to ascertain the personal information requested by the honourable member.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– ‘The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In my statement to the House on 31 May (Hansard pages 3002-300S) I listed commissions of inquiry, committees and task forces established by the Government. I also direct the honourable member’s attention to Question No. 630 concerning committees and commissions of inquiry and, among other things, the classifications and salaries of the public servants who staff them. Costs brought to account in 1972-73 are included in the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973- 74.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In respect of (a) the Department of Immigration, (b) the Postmaster-General’s Department and (c) the Department of Supply, what was (i) the number of persons employed under the Public Service Act and other Acts at (A) 30 June 1971, (B) 30 November 1972 and (C) 30 May 1973, (ii) the number employed who were permanent, temporary or exempt officers or employees, at each of the above dates and under each Act, (iii) the total establishment under the Public Service Act and other .Acts at (A) 30 June 1971, (B) 30 November 1972 and (C) 30 May 1973, (iv) the number of positions oh establishment that were vacant at (A) 30 June 1971, (B) 30 November 1972 and (C) 30 May 1973 and (v) the number of new positions created since 30 November 1972 under the Public Service Act or other Acts, and the number that had not been occupied up to 30 May 1973 or which were vacant at 30 May 1973.
– The Public Service Board has provided the following information in answer to the honourable member’s question:
NOTE: Regarding Items (iii) and (iv) for the Postmaster-General’s Department that Department has advised that staff and establishment statistics are only kept on a quarterly basis and therefore information is not available as at 30 November 1972 and 30 May 1973.
Establishment in the Department is of three types: Created establishment - positions created by the Public Service Board in the normal way and consisting mainly of clerical, supervisory, administrative, managerial and professional positions.
Bulk establishment - positions created in bulk by the Public Service Board and allocated by the Department as required. The bulk establishment covers about 80 per cent of the total establishment and provides positions for mainly operating, technical and some lines staff.
Lines quota - to meet variable work requirements the Public Service Board approves a quota for the employment of Lines Assistants and Linesmen which includes those positions created in the bulk establishment.
The only information about vacancies that can be supplied is the difference between the total ‘establishment’ under the above three headings and the total staff employed. This is shown hereunder for the quarters nearest to the dates in the question.
Regarding Item (v) the PostmasterGeneral’s Department advised that it would have been necessary to collect this information from many widely dispersed points throughout the whole of the Department. ‘To collect it would have necessitated a major redeployment of staff resources from urgent work and this was not possible’.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) All states have enacted legislation concerned with the protection of certain rights of the consumer. The major provisions of the legislation are concerned with matters including trade descriptions, false or misleading advertising, marketing practice, price control, consumer credit, consumer education and safety. However, not all States have legislation comprehending all of these matters and the provisions of the legislation are not uniform between States.
Restrictive Trade Practices Act
Commerce (Trade Description) Act
Therapeutic Goods Act
Weights and Measures (National Standards) Act
In addition the Australian Government has power under some ordinances to provide protection of certain rights of the consumer in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
Department of Health
Department of Customs and Excise
Department of Primary Industry
Department of Secondary Industry
Department of Science
Department of Works
Department of Housing
Department of the Australian Capital Territory
Consumer Affairs Bureau of the Australian Capital Territory
Department of the Northern Territory
Consumer Affairs Council
Although a statutory authority, not a department, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is also active in work that has a direct bearing on consumer interests.
New South Wales: The Consumer Affairs Bureau, functioning under the Minister for Labour and Industry.
Victoria: The Consumer Protection Bureau, functioning under the Minister for Labour and Industry. (This Bureau will shortly be brought under a new Ministry, headed by the Minister for Consumer Affairs).
Queensland: The Consumer Affairs Bureau, functioning under the Minister for Justice and AttorneyGeneral.
Tasmania: The Consumer Protection Council, functioning under the Chief Secretary.
South Australia: The Prices and Consumer Affairs Branch, functioning under the Premier.
Western Australia: The Consumer Protection Bureau, functioning under the Minister for Consumer Protection and Price Control.
The Australian Country Women’s Association
The National Council of Women
Campaign Against Rising Prices
The Consumers Association of Victoria
The Consumer Action Federation of Victoria
The Consumer Law Research Group of Victoria
The Consumer Action Movement of Western Australia
The Citizens Advice Bureau of Western Australia
Hobart Consumers Group Ltd
Canberra Consumers Incorporated
Canberra Price Watchers
The Federated Association of Australian House wives
Consumer Benefits Association Pty Ltd of Victoria
The Public Interest Research Group of the Monash University Law School
The Melbourne University Consumer Justice Team
The Australian National University Consumer Protection Society
This listis not claimed to be exhaustive and numbers of Statebased groups, such as Housewives Associations and Country Women’s Associations have national affiliations. Many women’s organisations are linked with the National Council of Women.
Defence Expenditure: Hardware (Question No. 147)
asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Based on the review of the strategic situation by this Government, an examination is being made of all aspects of Australian defence. These include size, composition and capabilities of the forces, location of defence facilities and industrial base. Anintegral part of these investigations is consideration of the proportion of defence expenditure on hardware. This will be a continuing matter rather than onceforall process. Decisions already taken to abolish National Service and restructure the Army, bear on this. Other investigations currently underway include the Committee of Inquiry into the CMF, location of defence facilities and the Light Destroyer investigation.
The results of these investigations will be reflected in future provisions for defence expenditure, and may, where appropriate, be made public.
Defence Expenditure: Items Manufactured in Australia (Question No. 149)
asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questionis as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730823_reps_28_hor85/>.