28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the undersigned men and women of Australia believe in a Christian way of life; and that no democracy can thrive unless its citizens are responsible and law abiding.
Your petitioners therefore humbly, pray that the members in Parliament assembled will see that the powerful communicator, television, is used to build into the nation those qualities of character which make a democracy work - integrity, teamwork and a sense of purpose by serving, and that television be used to bring faith in Cod to the heart of the family and national life.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Gorton, Mr Coates, Sir John Cramer, Mr MacKellar, Mr Ruddock, and Mr Wentworth.
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:
That they oppose the Australian Health Insurance Program and any National Health Scheme; That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a General Practitioner, Specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray, that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Cooke, and Mr Jarman.
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 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 and 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 Drury and Mr McLeay.
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 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 and 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 existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically,.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Wilson.
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 Hamer.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. With reference to the proposed amalgamation of the Australian Capital Territory Police, the Commonwealth Police Force and other law enforcement bodies, will members of the Australian Capital Territory Police be interrupted in the performance of their present duties? Will members of the Australian Capital Territory Police enjoy the same promotional, labour and allied conditions as they do at present? Will members of the Australian Capital Territory Police be subject to transfer throughout the States and/or territories of Australia?
– The proposals that go to the establishment of an Australian law enforcement agency do involve the Australian Capital Territory Police, the Northern Territory Police and various other law enforcement agencies throughout Australia. As I understand the proposals there should be no dislocation such as has been touched on in the honourable member’s question. One of the great advantages of the proposed system will be an increase in mobility by way of advancement and promotion in the new system that will come into being. The honourable member who asked the question and other honourable members will be aware that one of the disadvantages of a small police force - in saying that, I am not decrying the Australian Capital Police because it is small - is lack of promotion. It is well known that the A.C.T. Police has an extremely high morale, a lot of elan and professionalism that is the envy of many other police forces in the country; it is to be commended. However, with the rapid promotions that have taken place in the A.C.T. Police in recent years because of its small size, yet rapidly growing numbers, there is a danger that a lid will be placed at the top levels which will stop other young men coming up. The proposed system should overcome that problem.
As a rider to the answer I add that a very good and desirable feature that we hope to incorporate into the new system will be an independent tribunal set up outside of the law enforcement agency to investigate complaints against policemen. It has often been thought by citizens who feel aggrieved by allegations, false or otherwise, or by alleged intimidation and sometimes corruption by policemen, that as the resulting investigation takes place within the force itself the appearance of justice does not emerge. This is not good. It is proposed to have an independent tribunal outside the law enforcement agency to investigate complaints of that sort. Separate divisions within the law enforcement agency would exist for the Australian Capital Territory Police and the Northern Territory Police.
– Will the Minister for Minerals and Energy please clarify the present relationship between the Pipeline Authority and the Australian Gas Light Co. in relation to the construction of the GidgealpaSydney pipeline? Is the Minister in a position to give definite dates for the commencement and completion of the work?
– I welcome this question from the honourable member for Macquarie. It is time that the true position was stated clearly in view of the Press propaganda of Sir William Pettingell on behalf of the Australian Gas Light Co. The pipes for the pipeline are the property of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is a piece of impertinence on his part to suggest that an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament is invalid and that the onus of proof is on the Commonwealth Government. In point of fact the Act is perfectly valid. We have had an opinion to this effect not only from our own legal officers but also from outside eminent counsel. Regarding the exact position of the Pipeline Authority I quote from, and will table, a copy of a telex which was sent by Mr Donald, the Executive Member of the Authority, to Mr Butters of East Australian Pipelines Corporation which has been used, by agreement, as the intermediary for construction. In relation to a statement that was made that it had let a contract for the lining of the pipes, for their proofing, for some SI 4m which, of course, would be paid for by the Commonwealth, the telex read:
I am sorry that our request for an announcement agreed on between your Company and the Authority has been disregarded, but it is a much more serious matter that before obtaining the consent of this Authority you have informed the tenderers that they would be awarded the above contracts.
The pipes are the property of the Australian Government and under its custody and control. The Pipeline Authority will proceed with the construction of the pipeline strictly in conformity with the requirements of the Pipeline Authority Act.
Therefore, it will be necessary to inform the successful tenderers that:
That is, the tenderers for the lining of the pipes -
There was a television program last night to the contrary -
The Authority is prepared to allow that contracts be entered into and proceed provided that:
Tenderers are informed as above.
-Order! I would ask the Minister to make his answer as brief as possible. I have made appeals week after week to this effect.
– The telex continues:
Payment . . . will be made by the Australian Government through the Pipeline Authority in accordance with the approved contracts.
I table a copy of the telex.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Has the Government been advised by the Attorney-General’s Department and/or by an independent authority that it is legally open to interpretation that wages are the price of labour? If only the prices power is passed at the referendum on 8 December, will the Prime Minister assure the House that the Government will not then use the prices power to control incomes and wages? Can he bind future governments in this regard?
– The Attorney-General’s Department has not been asked for an opinion on this matter and has not volunteered an opinion on this matter - at least, that was the situation when I last inquired, I suppose about 4 days ago. It is true that there are opinions from distinguished counsel who specialise in the industrial relations field before State and Federal arbitration tribunals that the word ‘prices1 can cover wages or wages and salaries but not, of course, other forms of income. There have been decisions by the Industrial Commission of New South Wales to that effect because the word ‘prices’ does occur in the Industrial Arbitration Act of New South Wales.
There is nothing I have to add to previous answers I have given about the present Government’s intention in respect of using the incomes power if the Australia public confers it on this Parliament on 8 December. At this time the Australian Parliament can pass laws and, of course, for 70 years has passed laws concerning wages and salaries in the context of the arbitration paragraph in the Constitution. The Australian Parliament cannot pass laws concerning other forms of income. It might be of interest to know that the Australian Council of Trade Unions, as recently as its last congress, did urge the Australian Parliament to regulate non-wage incomes. The Australian Parliament will be able to do that when the people give it the power to legislate with respect to incomes. I agree with my predecessor as Prime Minister - the right honourable member for Lowe - who, it will be remembered, urged during the election campaign last November that there should be a referendum to give the Australian Parliament power to legislate with respect to prices and also to legislate with respect to incomes.
– That is untrue. That is untrue. I did recommend it for industrial disputes, yes.
– I hope I do not misrepresent the right honourable gentleman.
– Well, you do.
– I have in my hand an extract from the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, which supported the right honourable gentleman through thick and thin and which, in fact, occasionally paid him to write articles on the editorial page. I would not think he does it free. I find it difficult to think that any newspaper would pay for those articles, but I do not believe the right honourable gentleman would write them for nothing. *
– I have always given the results to charity. Do you do that?
– Settle down and leave out the personalities; that would be a good idea.
– 1 was courteous enough to respond to an interjection by my predecessor. I do not want to misrepresent the right honourable gentleman. I have in my hand an extract from the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of last November which has the leading ‘PM wants power over pay, prices’. I remember quite well that I was asked what I thought about his advocacy of these referendums at the time and I supported them. I hope he still agrees. I am of the same mind as I was at that time.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Services and Property. Does he see any merit in yesterday’s statement by the Leader of the Australian Country Party that moneys paid to political parties and to individual politicians by foreign multi-national corporations should be treated as a tax deduction? Has he heard reports that foreign corporations are paying large sums of money to the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party as well as to individual members of those parties because of their willingness to transfer Australia’s mineral and energy resources to those foreign interests? If so, does the statement of the Leader of the Country Party amount to a proposal that the people of Australia should be required indirectly to finance the election campaigns of politicians who are firmly committed to a policy which will result in the further erosion of Australian control of Australian resources?
-Order! This question is in order only if it relates to the Minister’s portfolio. If it does not relate to the Minister’s portfolio, it is out of order. But, in regard to a statement made by the Leader of the Country Party-
– I thought the Minister was in charge of electoral matters.
– That is all right; the relevant parts of the question relate to the Minister’s portfolio.
– I thank you for your wise ruling, Mr Speaker. I am in charge of the matter referred to in a section of the question asked by the honourable member for Leichhardt. In regard to the taxation concessions mentioned by the Leader of the Country Party, I would say to the honourable member for Leichhardt that there is no merit at all in giving taxation concessions to foreign multi-national corporations which donate to political campaign funds, as they have no right to provide finance for the defeat of a popularly elected government in another country. Not only will no tax deductions be provided to foreign based multi-national corporations; they will also be prohibited from contributing to campaign funds unless they have a large Australian content. I have seen a report that huge donations totalling more than Sim-
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. My point of order is that we are anxious to debate this matter and we are unwilling to see the honourable gentleman hide behind an answer to a question instead of making a statement in the House so that we can debate it
– Order) There is no point of order involved.
– Mr Speaker, you have often ruled and, if I may say so, correctly ruled, that if a Minister comes in with a prepared answer he should be prepared to make it as a statement. That is what I ask for; we want to debate this matter now.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– The Leader of the Opposition interjected and said we should bring the matter on for debate. The Government - and its decision has been endorsed by the Party today - has decided to bring down legislation to provide for public disclosures of all political funds and I assure the honourable member that he will get adequate time to consider the legislation and debate it and I hope that he will support it.
– What about those unions which contribute to Labor Party campaign funds? Why do you not tell us about them?
– Order! The honourable member for Griffith has been interjecting and gnashing his teeth for the last 5 minutes. If he does not remain quiet I will have to deal with him.
– I am disturbed at reports that over Sim of foreign money has gone into Liberal-Country Party funds. The Leader of the Opposition has said that he will take funds from anywhere, as long as there are no strings attached. But the strings are obvious in the Liberal Party’s policy to sell Australia’s national resources. It is true that the statement of the right honourable Leader of the Australian Country Party seeking taxation deductions for donations by foreign multi-national corporations would amount to subsidising the control and disposal of Australian resources, and naturally the Government will have no part of this whatever. I further state that it is probably true to say that most political parties have skeletons in their cupboards, but some skeletons are bigger than others, notably those concerned with providing the Sim. This is an opportunity for those parties to bury those skeletons. From here on, after the legislation is introduced, a new era will be started in Australian politics, removing from candidates and organisations the insinuations that there can be a Spiro Agnew or another Watergate in Australia.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it within the Standing Orders for the Minister to tell to this Parliament a blatant lie, as he just did?
– Order! I think honourable gentlemen know that I am pretty good but I am not so good as to know what actually occurs in regard to outside matters. I am here to try to interpret the Standing Orders to the best of my ability.
– I want to follow up by a question to the Minister for Services and Property. In asking this question I think that 1 should clear up the matter of the comments
I made last night. I asked for tax deductions for anybody who is a donor to a political party.
– Even foreigners?
– There was no reference whatsoever to foreign companies or multinationals. Since the Minister for Services and Property seems to be so concerned about multi-national corporations, in relation to which he makes these scurrilous imputations, is he now stating that tax deductions will be allowable for Australians or Australians who are involved with overseas companies in which they form a major shareholder? If so, would not this put private people and companies on the same basis as trade unions, whose fees are tax deductible at the moment and used to finance the Australian Labor Party?
– I am interested in the right honourable member’s concern to get taxation deductions for his multi-national sponsors but I regret that I am unable to oblige him. The legislation is under consideration. It will be so watertight and so extensive that we are prepared to receive representations from anywhere to see whether it can be improved. I suggest that the right honourable member put his suggestion in writing and we will give it appropriate consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing and Minister for Works. Have all the States yet signed the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement? If not. when does the Minister expect this to happen? Now that the bond rate has risen to 8.5 per cent per annum does the new Agreement represent any real saving to people paying rents on housing commission dwellings built with money provided under the Agreement? When the Agreement is finally signed by all the States will any appreciable financial benefit flow to people borrowing for home building from terminating building societies compared with those borrowing on the open loan market?
– It is true that not all States have yet signed the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement. Nevertheless, I am pleased to say that in about 5 minutes time, at midday, the last State, Western Australia, will be signing the Agreement thus giving legal effect to this historic document which fulfils the undertakings of the Australian Labor Party to give a better deal in housing for low income earners. The honourable gentleman has asked me about the effects of the Agreement on rents and housing loan repayments for people so affected. The last Government was able to expend only $163m in 1972-73 on the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. I am pleased to say that this Agreement lifts the amount to be expended to $2 18m. If we had not entered into a new agreement, at the present time we would be charging the States an interest rate of 7i per cent. Instead we are charging 4 per cent. The resultant savings for people renting housing commission homes are quite considerable. Every time the rate of interest goes up by i per cent for the average house costing $14,000 there is an increase in rent of approximately $5 a month. If this Agreement had not been introduced - that is, if we were still operating under the agreement brought in by the previous Government - the average increase in rent for housing commission tenants would be $8 a week. I am pleased to say that those people have been saved from that imposition. The last aspect of the question concerned the terminating building societies. People who are able to purchase homes through the home builders’ account will be paying an interest rate of 5i per cent, which is again another very appreciable advantage.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Services and Property. Will the Minister bring in forthwith the legislation which for some mystical and unknown reason he feels is a threat to us? Will he have a debate today on the issues relating to it? We do not need to wait until the legislation is introduced; we could debate this issue now. We could debate it today and we can debate it when the legislation comes in later. I hear the Minister for Transport saying something about being exposed. Who is to be exposed? The Minister? He is the exposee. He cannot even run a tram, let alone a whole transport system. We support legislation which provides for the disclosure of political party funds. I ask the Minister: Will he ensure that the legislation is such that it will not work exclusively to Labor’s favour? For instance, will he ensure that all contributions are tax deductible?
– The honourable gentleman asks why. The answer is because the trade unions make contributions to the Labor Party and not only are contributions to trade union funds tax deductible but trade union funds themselves are totally tax free. Will the Minister agree to another amendment which would restrict the application of the law to organisations and not to individuals, thus protecting the individual’s privacy, which the Government claims to be so determined to do? Has an individual in Australia not the right to support us because he wants us in government and not the rabble opposite? Will the Minister also include in the legislation a requirement for disclosure by the contributor rather than by the recipient, thus minimising the bureaucratic and cost impact of disclosure instead of terrorising, as the honourable gentleman wants to do, every electorate in Australia by having some sort of a commission inquiring into the source of campaign funds for each election.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will ask his question. He is debating an issue. I ask him to ask his question.
– I am asking a question, Mr Speaker. Will the Minister also include in the legislation a code to apply to political funding which would require the return or refusal of all contributions carrying any expressed or implied conditions? Will the honourable gentleman make sure that under this Bill there will not be a situation similar to that which occurred when the metal workers’ union gave to the Labor Party the sum of $25,000 on the undertaking that the Labor Party would remove the penal provisions from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act? Will the Minister bring in the legislation as soon as possible? Will he make it abundantly clear that he is on a false fishing expedition while he makes these spurious, unsupported and untruthful claims about multi-national cor.portations? Until he knows the facts–
– Will he keep quiet and-
– Will he act responsibly?
-Order! I called the Leader of the Opposition to order but he completely ignored me. I ask him to take notice of the
Chair when he is asked to resume his seat, which he did not do on this occasion. 1 asked the honourable gentleman to put his question. I call the Minister for Services and Property.
– For a gentleman who has nothing to hide, the Leader of the Opposition was very excited. Realising how disturbed he is at the revelations in regard to the funds behind his Party I excuse his protests. Even you, Mr Speaker, may forgive him for defying the Chair at a time of great stress. The honourable gentleman asked: ‘Why do not we debate this matter?’ I say to him: ‘Why did you let the Country Party pip you in respect of this motion today? Why did not you put the matter on the business paper for today if you were so anxious to debate your milliondollar slush fund?
Mr McMahon - I rise to order. Mr Speaker, you have made very diligent efforts to try to ensure that question time is confined to questions as a result of which information can be conveyed by Ministers- (Honourable members interjecting) -
– Order! There will be nobody called to make points of order, there will be nobody called to ask questions and there will be no Ministers called to answer questions until the House comes to order. That is putting it plain. I call the right honourable member for Lowe.
– As I said, Mr Speaker, you have diligently attempted to ensure that the Standing Orders of this House are observed in the sense that question time is an occasion when information should be conveyed to the House for the benefit of honourable members and also for the benefit of the Australian people. It is obvious that these questions and answers have become political and are motivated by political actions. I ask you, Sir, to ask the Leader of the House to keep within the Standing Orders and to give a specific answer to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Order! I think the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition covered very many points. I ask the Minister to keep to those points.
– Mr Speaker, like you I had difficulty sorting the question from the speech, so you will excuse me if I go on with my answer. I can assure the honourable member that trade unions do not pay taxation because they are friendly societies. If, of course, the honourable member wants to tax all friendly societies they will no doubt be included in the provisions of the legislation but other friendly societies might be affected. I would like to say to the honourable member too that he may be assured that the legislation that will be brought down will not exclude any Party or any organisation. We will not mind who contributes money other than multi-national and foreign-based companies without a base in Australia. But one provision will be - and there will be a very severe penalty for contravening it - that all their donations and contributions will be made public. There will be no escape from that. I am delighted to know that the right honourable member supports it. I only wish he could speak for his colleagues in another place. The right honourable member will get a full chance to debate the matter. If he wants to be brought up to date he can look first at the Canadian Act and he can look at other Acts in force in western Europe. If he makes a good study of them he will see many provisions that will meet his wishes expressed this morning. I can understand his concern, but the Labor Party is not running away from this issue. We have closed the pass for the Liberal Party. It need not reveal where it got what it has got, but from here on - from the date this decision was announced - all political parties will have to tell John Citizen and others where their funds came from. We do not want any Spiro Agnews on that side of the Parliament and we do not want any Watergates on that side of the Parliament.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Standing order 145 states:
An answer shall be relevant to the question.
Let me quote from the 18th edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice’. Under the heading Oral Answers’ it says:
An answer should be confined to the points contained in the question, with such explanation only as renders the answer intelligible, though a certain latitude is permitted to Ministers of the Crown.
In his recent edition May gives an authority for that in a footnote. It refers to the ruling of a Speaker in the House of Commons as long ago as 1861. It shows that this has been the practice of the House of Commons for over a century. I have looked up that reference and I found that a Minister had taken 3i minutes to answer a question. The other day I asked Hansard how many words a minute an honourable member uses here and I was told about 180. I counted up the words, and when Lord John Russell in that case -
-Order! I quite appreciate the point regarding the relevance of an answer to a question. I quite understand that but I do not think there is any need to go into historical data.
– I am referring now to the latitude permitted to a Minister and I say that this is absolutely relevant to the answer being given by the Minister for Services and Property. Furthermore-
-Order! It is quite obvious that this has been going on ever since I have been in Parliament, and that is nearly 19 years. I have often remarked that honourable members should have brought this matter to the notice of the previous Government. I appreciate the fact that answers to questions should be relevant but I think honourable members will appreciate that it would be impossible for any Speaker, irrespective of who he might be, to interpret what is relevant in many cases. For example, how could I be expected to know the relevance of answers to questions put to 21 Ministers, including those who represent the 6 Ministers in the other place. That would be an impossible position. All I can do is appeal to Ministers to be as relevant as they possibly can when answering questions put to them. The honourable gentleman has made his point, and I will appeal to the Minister to be relevant.
– With respect, I have not yet made my point.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– Very well, Mr Speaker, if you do not choose to carry out the Standing Orders as they have been carried out over many years-
-Order! The point made by the honourable member for Bradfield is noted. 1 ask the Minister for Services and Property-
– I will not stay in this place and watch the Standing Orders torn to ribbons.
-Order! There will be no answer to any question until the House comes to order.
– Do you blame him when you have such an irresponsible Minister?
-Order! There will be no answer to any question until the House comes to order. I am President of the Redfern Lonely Hearts Club and I get more decorum there than I do here. I call the Minister for Services and Property.
– I will finish my answer by saying that trade unions do not pay tax any more than do the health funds which make contributions to Liberal Party funds. But I say on a very serious note that legislation requiring the disclosure of campaign funds donated to political parties will be a major change in policy for any government in this country. The legislation will be far reaching and extensive. It will be presented to this Parliament in due course. It will cover all political parties and individuals. Time will be given to members to discuss it fully. Therefore I hope I have answered the question satisfactorily.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I respect the fact that you do not know everything that happens on the Government side of the House, but you should know that health funds are not allowed to make contributions to political parties, and the Minister is telling lies again.
-Order! That is not a valid point of order, and the honourable member knows it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education. To enable a factual comparison of past and present government programs in education, will the Minister indicate the amount of Commonwealth grants which will be paid to government and nongovernment schools in the current year, and also the comparable anticipated levels of assistance for 1974 and 1975?
– Honourable gentlemen will recall that when the late Government’s last education legislation was introduced in the House in September 1972 the then Opposition undertook to continue it in all its forms for 12 months and then to have it restructured after an investigation by a schools commission. Following the legislation of the late Government, this year the Australian Government spends on state schools $28. 4m and on non-government schools $60.2m. This includes everything - science laboratories, grants, library grants, recurring grants, capital - for the academic or calendar year 1973. I am not able to add, however, to the fact that the late Government’s policy was to make, through the Department of Social Security, grants on a $2 for $1 basis for nongovernment efforts for the education of the handicapped while no grants were made to State government efforts for the education of handicapped children. The first complaints I received as Minister were from Liberal Ministers in State governments about the fact that they could set up schools attached to hospitals, and that they had about 85 per cent of handicapped children in state schools but got no grants. The position next year will be that Commonwealth grants to government schools will rise from $28.4m this year to $19 1.8m, and that Commonwealth grants to nongovernment schools will rise from $60.2m this year to $84.7m. In 1975 Commonwealth grants to government schools will rise to $303.7m and to non-government schools will rise to $107 .9m.
– Can the Prime Minister assure the House that debate on the motion which the right honourable member for Higgins has on the notice paper relating to homosexuality will not be cut short by a function in honour of the Queen tomorrow? How much time will he allow? Will he ensure that the House is able to give this sensitive and important matter the time it deserves so that this Parliament will not seem to be entirely irrelevant to many Australians?
– In accordance with the established practice of this Government the motion tomorrow will be debated. Furthermore a vote will be taken tomorrow. However, I advise the honourable member that due to the Queen’s visit and the heavy legislative program there is no opportunity to extend the time tomorrow for that debate. I assure him that each member can vote- on this side, and on that side for all I know - in accordance with his own free will and conscience. There will be no restriction on how members vote but at about midday tomorrow the question will be put and a vote will be taken so that all who feel that way can attend the luncheon to the Queen.
Mir WILLIS- Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to last night’s edition of the high-rating television program This Day Tonight’ in which an interviewer repeatedly asserted that the Prime Minister wants a wage freeze? Will the Prime Minister agree that those assertions are a direct contradiction of his previous statements on the Government’s wage policy? Will he reaffirm that in the event that the referendum later this year gives the Government power to control wages the Government will not then impose a wage freeze?
– I did not see the program This Day Tonight’ last night. I did not know that any such allegation had been made on the program. I certainly welcome the opportunity to repudiate any such allegation. The Government would not impose a wage freeze. The Government is committed to the arbitration system for the determination of wages and salaries. This has been made plain by the Government. It has been made plain by the Government’s Party organisation as recently as the weekend before last. Many people deliberately want to obscure issues like this one. As I have said, about 20 years ago there was a use of the Arbitration Commission, in effect, to bring about a freeze of Commonwealth awarded wages and salaries. However, I do not believe that any Australian Government - for instance, a government of the Opposition’s complexion - would these days undertake a wage freeze by that method or by direct legislative or administrative means if the referendum were carried. I can certainly say on behalf of the Australian Labor Party that it would not have a wage freeze. I discount allegations that a Liberal Party Government would initiate a wage freeze.
– My question, which I address to the Minister for Social Security, refers to the national health scheme. It is basically the same question that I last asked him and to which he spoke over 500 words in not answering. In the Department of Health pamphlet The Plain Facts’, which many people call ‘The Half Truths’, the question is asked: How will the new scheme be financed?’ The answers given are: Firstly, by 1.35 per cent of taxable income; secondly, a Government grant; and thirdly, a levy on workers’ compensation and third party motor vehicle insurance. The Prime Minister did not reveal the second and third means in his policy speech. He referred only to 1.35 per cent of taxable income. I ask the Minister how much he estimates the amount of the government grant will be for 1974-7S. How much does he estimate will be derived from the levies to which I have referred?
– If ‘The Plain Facts’ is now called ‘The Half Truths’, on past performances of the honourable member he will warmly embrace it to his bosom. If he wishes to know what the cost distribution is for the health insurance program I invite him to read the report of the planning committee. His behaviour confirms what I have always suspected - that he has not read the report. It contains the costing distribution. The amount of money which will be raised by the levy on third party and workers’ compensation insurers, as I indicated the last time I answered a question from the honourable member, would be the same amount which would be currently outlaid and which would be outlaid in any succeeding year for hospital and medical costs incurred by people covered by those schemes and drawing on those sorts of services as a result of their rights under those sorts of insurance schemes.
– by leave - I move:
That during the joint consideration of the matter referred to the Committee of Privileges on 15 October 1973 Mr Keating be appointed to the Committee in place of Mr Sherry who was appointed on 15 October 1973.
Mr Sherry has drawn to the attention of the Committee of Privileges the fact that he is a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation. As the matter referred to the Privileges Committee relates to a letter allegedly written in connection with the hearings of the Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation, Mr Sherry believes that he should take no part in the Privileges Committee inquiry. The motion is proposed accordingly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. On Sunday last an article appeared in a throw-away Canberra newspaper which calls itself the ‘Sunday Post’. The article was headed ‘Minister involved in Land Deal’. The article referred to me and it was a scurrilous and malicious attack which consisted almost entirely of lies, false statements and malicious innuendoes. The truth of the matter is that for some years, from well before I entered Parliament, I have engaged in farming as a part time and pleasant enterprise.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. I read in the newspaper this morning that the Minister has taken out a writ against the paper, so would not this matter be sub judice?
– No, not until the matter goes before the court.
– The article misrepresented that simple situation. It deliberately and wickedly distorted it and added some gross lies in the process. For the record I should add that on 5 February 1973 I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) informing him of my farming activities and also urging again what I had urged consistently for some time, namely, that everything possible be done to freeze the price of land which surrounds the Australian Capital Territory. The article was referred to in the Senate yesterday. I should say at this stage that within half an hour of reading the article I gave instructions to my solicitors to sue in respect of the libel.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have been misrepresented by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) on 2 occasions. Firstly, the Minister claimed that I was wrong when I said that the cost of bringing into production the oil and gas fields discovered on the northwest shelf by Woodside-Burmah was far greater than the $2 10m which he quoted. He laid on the table documents which purported to show that the cost of bringing the natural gas to shore from the north-west shelf fields would be between $2 10m and $2 12m. On examination, this document proved to be the estimate for developing only one of the 5 fields and, therefore, my estimate of $ 1,000m for the 5 fields was probably an underestimation.
Secondly, the Minister said that I had said that all existing contracts for uranium export were written in Australian dollars. I did not say this. What I said was - and I quote from my Press statement: the Minister knows that the EZ-Peko contracts are expressed in $A. The lowest of these contracts are equivalent today to US$8.10, while the highest goes up to US$10.83.
This makes nonsense of the Minister’s claim last week that uranium contracts which were entered into prior to the recent elections had unsatisfactory prices, the best of which was US$7.25. Unfortunately, Mr Speaker, my statement was incorrectly reproduced in the ‘Australian’ newspaper.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented7
– Yes, I do. Today, in answer to a question, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said that he was following the line of his predecessor - that is myself - in agreeing to or supporting a prices and incomes referendum. I have never approved of a prices and incomes referendum. I clearly pointed out in the debate relating to the referendum on prices that I was implacably opposed to the granting of any such power to the Federal Government. That sets out my long term and present view. That view remains unchanged. I admit, Sir, that the Sydney Morning Herald’ is a great national and metropolitan newspaper of record and is seldom wrong. What might have been referred to was the fact that some 18 months ago or more at least 6 or 7 papers were tabled in this House relating to prices and incomes policy which I had asked the Commonwealth Treasury to prepare as the basis upon which discussions would take place. Subsequently there was a summary of those papers in a speech that was delivered by the then Treasurer and present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). At that time I did admit that there might be some value in a temporary price and wage squeeze. Since then I have given ever so much more consideration to this problem, particularly against the background of the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development Outlook No. 12, a paper by Dr Hans Arndt and some remarks by Professor Tobin of the United States of America. I am more than ever convinced that a prices and incomes power in the hands of a Labor government would be administered contrary to the best interests of the Australian people. I therefore remain implacably opposed to the 2 referendum proposals that have been put forward by the Commonwealth Government.
– Mr Speaker. I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation on the same matter as the right honourable member for Lowe.
-Order! Does the Leader of the Australian Country Party claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. I was misrepresented during question time today by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) when he said that a statement I put out last night referred to contributions of multinational and foreign companies. There was no reference whatsoever to them in my statement. His statement today is a clear and calculated distortion of the facts. Perhaps I should read what 1 said. I said:
The Prime Minister and Mr Daly will no doubt be disappointed to learn that the Country Party has no concern at all about the proposal to legislate for the disclosure of the sources of political parties funds.
However, we will be proposing at least one amendment to the legislation when it is introduced, and that is that donations or subscriptions to party funds should be tax deductible - as are the union dues which help finance the Labor Party.
Further, I am wondering why the disclosure requirement is to apply only from now, and is not retrospective.
It would be very interesting to learn the source of the $lm which the Labor Party spent on the last election campaign.
There is no reference whatsoever in that to substantiate the scurrilous remarks made by this irresponsible Minister.
– Mr Speaker-
– I call the Prime Minister.
– The trend has already been interrupted. I will go next.
- Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented by the Leader of the
Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony), who read a statement in which he said he sought tax deductions for contributors to campaign funds. That did not exclude multi-national corporations. They are included. I submit that the statement of the Leader of the Australian Country Party means that he would give tax concessions not only to Australian residents and Australian corporations but also to those multi-national organisations which are putting millions into the funds of his Party. It is true that I said that it will not be retrospective. The Leader of the Australian Country Party should know that one of the worst features of legislation is when it is made retrospective. It is contrary to conditions. Therefore it will date from this date in order to allow the Country Party to escape from its murky past without any penalty and set itself on a straight course in the future.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the right honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) in the course of his personal explanation. I was very careful not to say anything in answer to a question which did not tally with the report in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ which I had in my hand at the time. The newspaper was dated 23 November last, not 18 months ago but less than 11 months ago, and the article was headed ‘PM wants power over pay, prices’. The report goes on to say that the right honourable gentleman had made this comment in answer to a question on a radio talk-back program.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Prime Minister is not making a personal explanation at all; he is debating the matter. He was not misrepresented on this point by the right honourable member for Lowe. He is abusing his position as Prime Minister.
-Order! I .think that the right honourable member for Lowe made quite a useful explanation in regard to his point of view and I think that the Prime Minister is doing likewise.
– With all respect, Mr Speaker-
-Order! I have not given you the call yet.
– Will you do that, please?
– He has taken a point of order.
– He has to say so, has be not? He has not said so.
– Yes, he has.
-I call the Prime Minister.
– With all respect, Mr Speaker, I will take my point of order now. The Prime Minister is repeating something which was not denied by the right honourable member for Lowe. The right honourable member for Lowe made his position clear. The Prime Minister now is abusing his privileged position.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– Since I gave the answer during question time I have been able to obtain a couple of other newspaper reports of that date. I have the ‘West Australian’ of 23 November last and, under the heading ‘Prices, Wages. PM: We need controls’ it appears in the report that the right honourable gentleman had made the comment on Mr Ormsby Wilkins’ radio program, presumably in Melbourne. I have’ a report from the ‘Canberra Times’ of the same day by Mr David Solomon under the heading ‘PM wants powers on prices, wages’. The following day, the Melbourne ‘Age’ reported that the right honourable gentleman had confirmed the proposal on ABC television in Hobart.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I find myself still waiting to hear where the Prime Minister says he has been misrepresented. So far, there has been no sign of this and I draw your attention to it.
-Order! The right honourable member for Lowe, in making his personal explanation, gave the full details of where he was misrepresented. The Prime Minister now is just explaining where he was misrepresented by the right honourable member for Lowe.
– I want to refute the right honourable member’s allegation that, in effect, I misquoted or misrepresented him. I have as many newspaper reports as I can get of 23 November. They all tally. I now conclude with a reference from the ‘Age’ of 24
November last quoting the right honourable gentleman on ABC television in Hobart on the night of 23 November. The report states:
Mr McMahon said he would like next year’s convention reviewing the Commonwealth constitution to discuss the possibility of giving the Federal Government power to fix wages and prices.
I hope I have not in any way departed from responsible reports of 2 interviews - one broadcast and one telecast - given by the right honourable gentleman on 22 and 23 November last.
Mr McMAHON (Lowe)- -Mr Speaker, I again have a personal explanation.
-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I drew attention to the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said that I favoured referenda on prices and incomes. There is nothing in what he has said which would indicate that I do favour giving those powers to the Commonwealth Government. He did say, and it might well have been true, that I favoured that this matter be considered by the constitutional convention, but that was under no circumstances to be considered as a commitment to support a prices and incomes referendum. I have not done so and will never do so.
Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa- Prime Minister) - Mr Speaker, the right honourable gentleman has misrepresented me. I quoted substantiation for the things I said in answer to a question at question time. The right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) now challenges my reference to referendums. I cannot quote the whole of the reports; I can show them to him. But I do notice in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ report, which was the first one I quoted, the statement:
That’s why I believe we need an alteration to the Constitution. . .
The alteration to the Constitution was clearly in the context of a referendum or referendums proposed.
– Pursuant to section 29 of the Air Navigation Act 1920-1971, I present the thirteenth annual report on the administration and working of the Act and regulations made under the Act and on other matters concerning civil air navigation which I consider should be brought to the attention of Parliament.
– Pursuant to section 41 of the Meat Industry Act 1964-1969, I present the thirty-eighth annual report of the Australian Meat Board for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the interim annual report of the Australian Chicken Meat Research Committee for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– I should like to inform the House that because of functions for Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip, the sitting of the House today will be suspended from 4.45 p.m. to 8 p.m. and tomorrow, the sitting will be suspended from’ 12 noon until about 3.15 p.m.
– by leave - I rise to inform the House that the Government has decided to extend the range of income over which aged people will be entitled to the full rebate of $156 announced in my Budget Speech as part of an overall pensions and taxation package. It had been intended that the rebate would phase out for taxable incomes above $2,236 but the Government has now decided, in the light of representations it has received, to propose that the full rebate of $156 will apply for taxable incomes up to $3,224. It will be reduced by 25 cents for each $1 of taxable income above $3,224, so that aged people with taxable income of as much as $3,847 will benefit from the special rebate. I will be saying more about the new arrangements, and the reasons for them, when the necessary legislation is introduced. I am confident that they will be found to provide an appropriate set of rules for elderly people. More than 80 per cent of pensioners will not be called on to pay tax or lodge tax returns for 1973-74 and the extended rebate will provide additional relief for those who will be asked to pay some tax. I present the following paper:
Tax rebate for aged people - Ministerial Statement, 17 October 1973.
– Mr Speaker, could I ask the indulgence of the House to make a short statement not exceeding 2 minutes?
– Order! Is the honourable gentleman seeking leave to make a statement?
– I want to explain what I want to make a statement on.
– Until I have stated that to the House the House cannot judge. I want first to thank the Treasurer for partially agreeing to the suggestion I made to this House and secondly to explain that his proposition does not go far enough.
– Is leave granted?
– Order! Leave is not granted.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The apparent undermining by the Council for Aboriginal Affairs of the principle of Ministerial responsibility to the Parliament for the functions of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Government’s administration of Aboriginal Advancement.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– This matter of public importance is not raised in any way in the spirit of party politics. I hope that the tenor of this debate will be objective and constructive in the interests of the Australian
Aboriginal community. However, the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of the Minister for the Capital Territory, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), from the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs has given rise to serious allegations and has brought into light certain matters which should be of grave concern to the House, to the Government and indeed to the nation. In another place Senator Georges made this serious allegation among others:
I undertook certain work . . . which convinces me that the permanent head … Mr Barry Dexter, deliberately frustrated the decisions of his Minister and in fact worked for and succeeded in obtaining his removal.
I regret to say that the Chairman of the Council for
Aboriginal Affairs, Dr H. C. Coombs, cannot escape some of the responsibility.
These are serious allegations and to my knowledge neither the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs nor the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has satisfactorily refuted these serious allegations made by Senator Georges. It is now strongly rumoured - indeed on Federal File’ last Sunday it was implied - that the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs was responsible for the sacking of the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. It was also suggested that while the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was unable to discuss with the Prime Minister matters relating to the turtle farming project in the Torres Strait, the Prime Minister nevertheless discussed the matter with the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs.
To my knowledge neither the Prime Minister nor the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has denied these serious allegations. If these allegations are true the Prime Minister has been responsible for a very serious act of injustice against his Minister. In such circumstances it is not the Chairman of the Council who deserves condemnation, but it is the Prime Minister. Undoubtedly the Prime Minister will make this position clear to the House. If these allegations are false, let the Prime Minister deny them and the allegations that have been made by Senator Georges. Until the allegations concerning the Council for Aboriginal Affairs are cleared up there remains the very real question whether the relationship between the Council for Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs undermines the basic responsibility of the Minister to the Parliament.
It is untenable that the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs should have direct access to the Prime Minister and be able to interpose himself between the Minister responsible for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Prime Minister. Such an arrangement can lead only to confusion at the permanent head and ministerial level. In practice it must lead to the undermining of the basic ministerial responsibility of the Minister to the Parliament. The tenor of a letter from the permanent head of the Department to the Chairman of the Council-
– Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to this. It may be sub judice.
– The matter has been referred to the Privileges Committee so I think that we should leave it there. I turn from that for a moment to the other broader issues involved. But before I do so I want to make the point very clear that if this practice is occurring it is not the fault of the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs or the Council itself; it is the fault of the Prime Minister and the Government. Surely if the Council for Aboriginal Affairs is to remain in its present form it should be directly responsible to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
In view of the decision - I think a wise decision - that was taken recently to set up a national advisory council for Aborigines one would be forgiven if he deduced that the Council for Aboriginal Affairs is redundant. Turning to the broader issues that are involved in this matter of public importance, I make it clear that I understand the overwhelming difficulties confronting those who in all sincerity seek to better the lot of our Aboriginal people. I in no way condemn or criticise the amount of money that was made available in this year’s Budget in an endeavour to advance the Aboriginal people. In no way do I question the sincerity, the purpose or the zeal of the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs who approached his task and his portfolio with unusual energy and dedication. I saw something of this in my electorate when I had occasion to make numerous representations to him. I know that the Aboriginal people in my electorate will forever remain indebted to him for the work that he did on their behalf. Nor do I question the dedication of the officers of the Department and its permanent head. None of us on this side of the House is any less convinced of the need to take positive action and to spend money to help overcome the difficulties of Aborigines and to enable them to take their proper place in the Australian society. But we must seek to ensure that the funds are spent wisely on projects that are approved by Parliament and accounted for to Parliament.
I submit that this is not now happening. In his speech on the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill, the Minister for the Capital Territory incorporated in Hansard a number of tables of proposed expenditure. Table 6 discloses that $1.5m will be spent on legal aid for Aborigines. On 25 September the Minister, in his earlier and happier capacity, made a statement about Nola Brown, the Aboriginal child brought up from the age of 2 weeks in a European home and sadly abducted in Darwin and taken back to her tribal parents in Maningrida, whom she did not know. The Minister said:
I have initiated steps for the necessary inquiries to be made into both the fostering situation and a judicial inquiry into what happened in Darwin.
The Minister undertook to make a further statement when he was better informed. So far this has not been forthcoming. But we read in yesterday’s newspapers that a Mr Ryan of the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service was removed from his post. It is now apparent that the abduction was engineered by an officer of the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service. On that day, 25 September, and again later I placed a question on the notice paper seeking from the Minister the terms of reference of the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service. This question has not yet been answered. The Aboriginal Legal Aid Service has always been something of an enigma.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. Even in discussion of a matter of public importance the proposer or any later speakers have to speak with relevance to the subject proposed. The matter which the honourable gentleman is mentioning has no relation whatever to any actions or role of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, nothing whatever.
– It is the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Government’s administration of Aboriginal advancement are the words used.
– Mr Speaker, the subject raised is: ‘The apparent undermining by the Council for Aboriginal Affairs of the principle of Ministerial responsibility . . .’
– ‘and the Government’s administration of Aboriginal advancement’.
– But, Mr Speaker, the honourable gentleman has not on this matter made any reference to the Council.
– I have. You were reading a novel or something. I did indeed. That shows how much interest you are taking in the debate.
– Mr Speaker, the honourable gentleman may be trying a little heavy-handed humour. There is no novel before me. The honourable gentleman should be assured that it is quite clear that the only things in front of me are documents relating to this matter which he raised, and Hansards. There is no novel before me. I believe that sort of flippant remark does no credit to the Parliament or even to the honourable member.
-I shall read out the terms of the letter -to make it quite plain. It reads: The apparent undermining by the Council of Aboriginal Affairs of the principle of ministerial responsibility to the Parliament for the functions of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Government’s administration of Aboriginal advancement’. I call the honourable member for Gwydir.
– Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister has succeeded in taking up 3 or 4 minutes of my time. I hope he has enjoyed it. No one seems to know to whom the Aboriginal . Legal Aid Service is responsible but it has an appropriation of Sl.Sm. I pose another question in the light of the Nola Brown case: Does the Service seek to give legal aid in the Northern Territory within the law as we know it or does it seek to operate under tribal law where it is believed that some part of our law conflicts with tribal law? If the answer to the latter question is ‘yes’ then until the law is changed this Service is acting outside the law. I know of no proposal before the Parliament to change the law. I also sought information by way of a question on notice as to whether Nola Brown had been placed with her foster parents by a court order. This question also remains unanswered. If Nola Brown was abducted in defiance of an order of the court, very serious issues arise as to the functions of the Legal Aid Service and the provision of funds for its operation. One would think that before Parliament provides the Legal Aid Service with $1.5m it would need to know whether the money is to be spent according to the law.
Then, of course, we come to the very serious allegations about the turtle farms and the companies established to run these farms. These allegations brought issues to the light of day which are matters of serious public concern. They were made by a Government senator in another place. They were all the more serious since they came from one who was appointed as a director of one of the companies. He should know the facts. Unfortunately, the Parliament, the people, the taxpayers, have not yet been told the facts. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has assured us that certain papers will be tabled in another place. So far this has not been done. We are also told that the whole project is being investigated by an outstanding world authority on turtle farming. While one could not doubt the expertise of this gentleman one can question whether the investigations will be directed towards whether there has been enough control over the expenditure of taxpayers’ money. This gentleman’s investigations undoubtedly will not ascertain whether the heavy expenditure on the Woden Valley complex, for instance, has been sound investment or reckless expenditure. Indeed, the appointment of an expert at this late hour to investigate the viability of the project after enormous capital investment has been made underlines the fact that inadequate planning was involved from the commencement. Surely this development heralds a problem and warrants an inquiry.
The turtle farming example could lead one to believe that other projects are doubtful. There is some truth in Senator Georges’ allegation that a disaster area littered with failures in the field of Aboriginal projects is developing. Table 6 to which I referred earlier shows a proposed expenditure from this account of neraly $4m. Who is controlling this expenditure? Has it been programmed or will it be spent on some brainwave project without proper assessment? Are these failures fair to the Aboriginal people? Will they give them the confidence that they require? Is this state of affairs fair to the Australian public generally? Is it fair to start off ill-conceived projects and hand them over to the Aboriginal people and sit back and watch the failures develop? Interestingly enough, the table also shows a marked increase in the proportion of funds spent through uncontrolled channels and a decrease in the proportion of funds spent through controlled channels. The enormous increase in expenditure shown in the trust accounts is equal to one-third of the amount made available as grants to the States for welfare purposes. In the housing area, for instance, $17m is being allocated to the housing associations whereas $13m is being allocated to the State housing commissions which provide a very efficient means of expending money for housing purposes.
Then there was the allegation of a Government senator in the other place that all 4 senior officers of the Department have been appointed by the permanent head without prior advertisement, ls this allegation true or false? One wonders whether these questions are only the tip of an iceberg. I firmly believe that a royal commission should be established to inquire into the whole area of Aboriginal welfare and administration. The new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has promised to table certain documents relevant to the turtle farming project. Unless they provide adequate explanation of the allegations made by the senator I will call for a royal commission into this matter myself.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Motton (by Mr Gorton) proposed:
That the honourable member for Gwydir be granted an extension of time.
– I would ask that the House continue sitting until I have concluded my speech - I will be about 5 minutes - because there are engagements which I have to keep this afternoon. I do not mind the honourable gentleman being granted an extension of time in order to finish his speech if I am permitted to make my speech before the luncheon suspension.
– I have listened to what the Prime Minister has said, but I point out to him that not only the present speaker has rights in this matter. I am second on the list of speakers to take part in the debate and I intend to speak directly after the honourable member for Gwydir.
– That would be unusual.
– Yes. I thought it would be helpful.
-Order! The motion that an extension of time be granted to the honourable member for Gwydir has not been seconded.
– I will second the motion if necessary. All I am saying is that for reasons of which honourable members are aware, I have a lot of commitments this afternoon. I will agree to an extension of time being granted if I am permitted to finish my speech before the luncheon suspension.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I thank the House and the Prime Minister for granting this extension of time. Unless the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs can provide adequate and satisfactory explanation of the allegations made by Senator Georges I will certainly move in this House for the establishment of a royal commission to inquire into the whole ambit of Aboriginal welfare administration. In the light of the serious allegations made by Senator Georges that the whole field of Aboriginal affairs has developed into a disaster area littered with failures, that large sums of money have been expended with questionable results and that other serious developments have taken place, there should be no question of the Prime Minister himself undertaking this initiative. We acknowledge that many of these projects were commenced during the term of the former Government. But this does not mean that the Parliament should allow further failures to develop. Unless the Government can satisfactorily answer the charges that have been made and unless the papers are tabled to the satisfaction of the Parliament, I will give notice to this House in relation to the establishment of a royal commission. It is essential that generous funds be provided to help advance the Aboriginal community, but it is even more important to ensure that those funds are expended to the fullest advantage of the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal people and the Australian community must have grave doubts as to whether the Australian Government has adequate administrative responsibility and capacity to take over responsibility for Aboriginal advancement in the States as from 1 January. I say this because of a mix-up that occurred with the Victorian Government with respect to housing. On 4 September Mr Dickie announced that the Commonwealth would be taking over the responsibility for Aboriginal housing in Victoria. Yet 22 days later he announced that the Commonwealth Minister had written to him saying that the Commonwealth would not be taking over responsibility, that it would remain the responsibility of the Victorian government. It is one thing to seek powers and to invite the States to transfer the very heavy problem of Aboriginal advancement to the Commonwealth but it is another thing to safeguard the interests of the Aboriginal people by ensuring that we have the necessary administrative machinery to ensure that they progress along a road towards advancement which is long overdue.
– I propose to address myself to the terms of the matter of public importance as proposed for discussion by the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt). I do not propose to deal with any of the matters which he has specifically mentioned. For instance, Nola Brown’s case did not, in any of the newspaper reports I have read nor in anything that the honourable member has said in any way involve the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. The other matters to which the honourable gentleman refers in general terms as ‘a disaster area littered with failures’ are in all cases so far as I am aware, and certainly in the specific matter which he mentioned - the turtle farms - matters which the present Government inherited. I have no doubt that the present Government has initiated a greater number of measures for the social, economic and political advancement of the Aboriginal people, including the island people, than all the previous administrations combined. There is not a single reference that the honourable gentleman made to any of these initiatives being a failure. The turtle project which he specified continued for quite some years under Ministers in the preceding Government.
– I think it was under the honourable member for Mackellar when he was a Minister, but I am not sure.
– The honourable gentleman started it and it was continued by Mr Howson. I have myself taken steps to ensure that the Special Minister of State, Senator Willesee, should get expert advice from overseas on the ecological and economic aspects of the scheme. This was done before the end of August. But I do not propose to pursue this matter because in no way has it been shown that the Council for Aboriginal Affairs was concerned. There is one respect in which the Council has in this House been alleged to be concerned in any matters of administration or any matters concerning the Parliament, specifically a parliamentary committee. Following on a newspaper report of a letter which Mr Dexter, the Secre tary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, had sent to Dr H. C. Coombs, the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, the House of Representatives Committee of Privileges is now seized of that matter. The Government, without debate, supported the reference of that newspaper report to the Committee.
The only other basis which the honourable member has on which to involve the Council for Aboriginal Affairs in the administration of the Department or ministerial responsibility was a passing reference made by Senator Georges. Senator Georges raised this in the Senate. The Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in that place answered it. I do not propose to pursue it. I am not so naive as to believe that the reference to the Council for Aboriginal Affairs was not brought in somehow to involve me in this matter and in particular because of the advice which Dr Coombs gives to me in various capacities. I will therefore immediately and, I think, effectively and briefly, dispose of any such allegations which are made in the matter of public importance proposed for discussion by the honourable member for Gwydir.
– Do you deny Senator Georges’ allegations?
– I have spoken to Senator Georges directly.
– What about the Parliament?
– The Parliament is concerning itself with the only matter of substance which has arisen. I do not take up my time answering allegations which are made in the newspapers and so on. If I were to spend my time answering allegations which were made about the Government or about me I would have no time left to do anything positive. I have never done it in my life as Leader of the Party and I do not propose to waste time on it now. But this matter of public importance has been proposed by the honourable member for Gwydir. I am speaking to that matter. I am confining myself to it. I will now deal with the position of Dr Coombs. Dr Coombs is a consultant to the Prime Minister. He was a consultant to my predecessor as Prime Minister who described him as a kind of guiding philosopher. Dr Coombs is Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. He has been the Chairman since 1967 under Prime Minister Holt who appointed him, under Prime Minister Gorton, and under Prime Minister McMahon. He still is.
– There was no Department then, was there?
– No. I will come to that. He is Chairman of the Australian Council for the Arts. He has been the Chairman under successive Prime Ministers since that Council was established. Dr Coombs’ official relations with the present Prime Minister are the same as they were with the previous Prime Minister and the one before that.
– Not with me. They were different.
– Under the right honourable gentleman when he was Prime Minister Dr Coombs was Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs.
– Yes, but there was no Department which had to report to him or was responsible to him. I dealt only with the then Minister in charge, the honourable member for Mackellar.
– I will come to that. The right honourable gentleman will confirm that Dr Coombs was the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs while he was Prime Minister. He will confirm that Dr Coombs was Chairman of the Australian Council for the Arts when the right honourable gentleman was Prime Minister. The other members of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs are the same as they were when Mr Holt appointed the Council after the successful referendum of 1967. They were Professor Stanner and Mr Dexter. The composition of the Council is the same. If, as the right honourable member for Higgins infers by his interjection that the Council should have been wound up when departments were established, then the same criticism could have been made when Mr Howson was the Minister or when the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) had ministerial responsibility for this matter. I take the point that the Council had to report directly to Prime Minister Holt. Under the Gorton Government the honourable member for Mackellar was given ministerial responsibility in this matter. Therefore it could have been said then that the charter of the Council should have been terminated. Under the McMahon Government Mr Howson became Minister in charge of a department which in its title included Aboriginal affairs.
– But it could have been terminated.
– It could have been terminated at that time also. There is now a full time exclusive Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The criticism that the Council in some ways runs counter to ministerial responsibility could have been said of its position under my 2 predecessors.
– If it was wrong it is still wrong.
– My 2 predecessors were wrong just as I am wrong if any of us are wrong in this matter.
– Do not go on with personalities.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! This debate is continuing past 1 p.m. at the indulgence of the House. If the Prime Minister keeps answering every interjection he will have to seek leave for additional time to permit him to reply. I suggest that he confine himself to the terms of the matter of public importance.
– The Council has continued under 3 Prime Ministers under whom there have been specific ministerial responsibilities for this matter. There is nothing novel in the position at all. The Council itself has raised with me the question of whether it should continue. Some of its roles have in fact already largely been taken over. For instance, the original function given to the Council by Mr Holt was that it should act as a channel by which Aboriginal opinion and aspirations could be communicated to the Government. This function has properly been taken over by the interim National Aboriginal Consultative Committee established by the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant).
Furthermore, the establishment of the specific department for aboriginal affairs and those affairs alone has meant that the preparation of policy submissions to the Minister and to the Cabinet became the responsibility of the Secretary of the Department. In this field the role of the Council has been to act as a source of advice and as a sounding board for the Secretary of the Department in the consideration of policy issues on which he wished to advise the Minister. Discussions of this kind have been informal, and it has been the responsibility of the Secretary of the Department to decide on the nature of the advice given. There is nothing unusual in having councils of this character to advise Ministers or to advise secretaries of departments. In particular, during Mr McEwen’s day there were several such councils advising him or advising the old Department of Trade and Secondary Industry.
There has been one particular matter in which the existence of this Council has been of prime importance to me as Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister. It is a matter of notoriety that it was impossible to establish any contact with the Queensland Government over questions concerning the Aborigines and Islanders. It was only because of the continuing existence of this Council that on 23 March last I was able to arrange with the Premier of Queensland for consultations between his Government and mine on matters of Aboriginal and Island affairs. I was able to convince Mr Bjelke-Petersen of the bona fides of this Council and of my own Government in this matter because the Council had been established by Mr Holt and its membership was the same as it had been under Mr Holt and the right honourable members for Higgins (Mr Gorton) and Lowe (Mr McMahon). Four successive Australian Prime Ministers had accepted its role. I give this particular instance to show that otherwise there would have been no contact between the Australian and the Queensland Governments in many of these matters.
I conclude by saying that the matters which arise in the discussion of the matter of public importance and all the matters which were referred to in specific or general terms by the honourable member who introduced the discussion, could have been debated in the debate on the Estimates on 9 and 10 October. I believe that there is no merit in the discussion at all. It has not been shown in any respect that the Council or the Chairman, who obviously was the target for criticism, has undermined the principle of ministerial responsibility to the Parliament for the functions of the new department and the Government’s administration of Aboriginal advancement.
Sitting suspended from 1.13 to 2.15 p.m.
– I call the right honourable member for Higgins.
MrHunt - Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.
– Ring the bells.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I point out to the honourable member for Gwydir that we are debating a matter of public importance raised by the Opposition. If he persists in this and if his side will not maintain a quorum, I will move that we pass on to the next item of business.
– No point of order is involved.
– If another quorum is called I will move that we pass on to the the next item of business, because Opposition members should be here. This is a debate which the Opposition initiated.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. (Quorum formed.)
– Before the House is a matter of public importance raised by the Opposition, and the matter of public importance is the apparent undermining by the Council for Aboriginal Affairs of the principle of ministerial responsibility to the Parliament and the Government’s administration of Aboriginal advancement. I would like to say, at the beginning that as far as I am concerned I have, in regarding this as a matter of public importance, no thought of regarding one side of the House as taking one position and another side as taking another position. I believe that it is a matter of public importance to all members if the allegations which have been made are correct. To emphasise that, may I say this: If there is a wrong administrative set-up, as there appears to be, then it is not the fault of the Government that there is a wrong administrative set-up, though it will be the fault of the Government if it is continued because, as the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) pointed out before the sitting was suspended, there was a Council for Aboriginal Affairs at the time when Mr Holt was Prime Minister, although there was no Department of Aboriginal Affairs, and the head of the Council reported directly to Mr Holt. Subsequently, in my time as Prime Minister, there was a Council for Aboriginal Affairs and a chairman of that Council, but then there was a Minister placed with responsibility, and that Minister was the only person who reported to me because he bore the responsibility for what the Council did or recommended. Under the regime of the next Prime Minister the present Department of Aboriginal Affairs was set up and the present arrangements were made, and they are now being continued. So I am not casting aspersions at anybody or any government or any House when I say that this is a matter of such public importance that it ought to be investigated by this Parliament.
The genesis of this approach was a speech made in another place by a senator. It was not a wild speech. It was not made by somebody who had heard at third hand some things which he thought were wrong. It was a carefully documented speech made by a man who was in a position to have first hand knowledge of what was happening in some aspects of the administration of this Department. If there is any truth whatever in the statements made by that senator, then it should attract the attention of this House to see whether we can improve matters for the sake of the public, for the sake of the public purse and for the sake of the Aborigines who may not be benefiting as much from expenditure from the public purse as they would be if we had a Minister whom we could hold fully responsible for everything that was done.
We were informed - it may or may not be true, but the information seemed to be well documented - that a great amount of money has been wasted over the terms of office of more than one government on one particular project for farming turtles in the Torres Strait. We were told also that that project was to continue even though the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the present Minister for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), was unhappy with what was being done, even though he doubted the efficacy and the propriety of the way in which the money was being spent. Therefore, having these doubts, the former Minister called in Senator Georges to be chairman of various companies involved in the project. But, even in spite of that, apparently public money was to continue to be spent on this over the objections or the doubts of the former Minister - he can correct me if I am wrong - because there was an outside council to which the head of his Department could go for advice, and if that advice conflicted with what the Minister felt should happen, after he had spoken to his departmental head, that outside man could go directly to the Prime Minister without the Minister even knowing, let alone being there, and give different, advice from that which the Minister would have given.
In these circumstances can anybody think that this Parliament can properly hold the Minister responsible should it turn out that the money being spent on this project was wasted and that money being put into other projects was wasted? I do not think so. Surely any proper administrative arrangement under our system must be that a departmental head gives his advice to one person and one person only, and that is the ministerial head, and the ministerial head makes the decision yea or nay and then stands up an can be blamed for any wrong decision or praised for any right decision, but held responsible. If it is true that this is happening and if we are to continue with a system whereby a head of a department - the Department of Aboriginal Affaire - is responsible apparently not only to the Minister but also to the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, and if the Minister can be by-passed and the Chairman can have direct access to the Prime Minister, which the Minister himself cannot get, then we are flouting completely the concept of parliamentary responsibility and ministerial responsibility. We are asking for further mistakes to be made, and it will be the fault of each single one of us if we allow this to continue in this way.
I am sure that no one can say that that is not a matter of public importance. If the situation is as it was stated, then it ought to be changed. Let me not hear anyone say: ‘But your side brought it in in the first place*. Let us accept that. It still ought to be changed. It is not within the capacity of the Opposition to change it; it is within the capacity of the Government to change it. How would we be if, say, in education there was a body to which the head of the Department of Education was responsible and the chairman of that body could by-pass the Minister and go direct to the Prime Minister and say: ‘I do not agree with what the Minister is doing. This is what I think should happen in education’? How long would it be before the whole Government became a complete and utter shambles?
– Not long.
– Not long. How unfair it would be to each individual who happened to occupy the post of Minister in that sort of situation. This is the main reason why I believe that this is a matter of public importance, not a matter of political conflict. This is a matter of public importance to which each individual in this House should give his attention, particularly those individuals who can influence it more than we of the Opposition can. Let us be told at least that there has been a reorganisation and that in future the chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs will follow strict instructions that he will speak on official matters only to his Minister, that when his Minister disagrees with him he will not have an opportunity to go elsewhere.
I had some experience in these matters when the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) was appointed as MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs. I very quickly made it clear that I would speak only to the Minister and that if advice came from the Council for Aboriginal Affairs it had to come through the Minister. That practice should be followed again. We are not talking about peanuts in the way of expenditure. This year $180m is to be spent on Aborigines, not all of it for projects of the type to which I have been referring, but a great proportion of it. I have hoped that in time a growing proportion of the expenditure will go to such projects. Undoubtedly some of them will fail but they have a much greater chance of failing if the Department thinks that it does not have to do what the Minister wants it to do. There will be a much greater chance of their failing when the expenditure on Aboriginal affairs appears as a one-line entry in the Estimates without any indication of the projects on which the money is to be spent. That it was a one-line entry when we were in office has nothing to do with whether it should continue in that way. Should the expenditure of that money not be subject to audit by the Auditor-General?
– But it is.
– I did not think it was. I would be astonished if the sum of $155,000 spent on offices to run the turtle project got past the Auditor-General without some comment which this House could have noted. If it did, I doubt that the Auditor-General is doing his work properly, but I do not believe that those sums are subject to audit. They ought to be spelt out. Any one of us could have looked at the Estimates and could have seen that $155,000 was to be spent on rent. I suppose it would be listed as rent. (Extension off time granted) I thank the House. I will not take more than another two or three minutes. I have raised the points that I believe should be raised here, the first of which is that a Minister must be responsible, without anybody being able to go behind his back and give advice different from that which he would accept. That is essential in any department.
– It is fundamental.
– That is so. Secondly, when funds are provided for specific projects there ought to be an auditing of those projects and a report to the Parliament on their progress year by year so that we can discuss them. That is so not only for the sake of the public purse but also for the sake of the people who benefit from the expenditure. We are spending $1,000 for every man, woman and child in the Aboriginal population. For their sake we need to see that full benefit, or at least as full a benefit as human fallibility can give, is available for the expenditure. There will be no cavilling from me or, I believe, from anyone on this side of the chamber if this matter is put straight in the way it ought to be. Rather will there be praise, because it is not the fault of the Government that the present situation obtains, but it will be the fault of the Government if it is allowed to continue. I did have much more to say but because of the pressure of time I will conclude.
– I thank the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) for the very generous way in which he has approached this question. There was almost nothing in his speech with which I do not heartily and enthusiastically agree. We are concerned at the question of ministerial responsibility. I also feel that it is a good thing that the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) has brought this question before the House. As one of a number of members on both sides of the Parliament who are interested in Aboriginal affairs I feel some concern at the present situation in which many statements are being made, some based on fact and some based on fancy. Whatever their purpose they are likely to have a harmful effect on the Aboriginal program. I accept that the matter of public importance raised by the honourable member for Gwydir was not put forward with that in mind. I am a member of the Labor Party’s Aboriginal Affairs Committee, and have been for some time. I assure the House that there is absolutely no complacency on the Labor Party’s side of Parliament about the Aboriginal affairs program or the Government’s performance to date.
I think it is important to set some of these matters straight. In a debate of this kind, while dealing with ministerial responsibility we should not do any harm to the program by being ungenerous to people who have made quite a contribution. The policy upon which the Labor Party was elected at the last election included a plank on Aboriginal affairs and that plank remains. I freely admit that we have found some looseness in different areas. This was so under the previous Government and continues under our Government. Under the leadership of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs a great deal was done to tighten up the loose areas. The program for which the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) was originally responsible in no small measure involved trusting Aborigines to the maximum possible extent to manage their own affairs. This Government has advanced money, as the previous Government did, to Aboriginal organisations which seemed to have a cohesive element, a constitution and a program that looked worthwhile, in order to allow them to spend the money in the interests of the Aboriginal people and in accordance with the priorities that the Aborigines determined. Unfortunately, in a program of this kind one hears rather more about the failures than about the successes. There are failures but there are also many success stories. I pay a tribute to the honourable member for Mackellar who was a pioneer in this area. He set the programs on the base which has been used by succeeding Ministers and the present Government.
When the Labor Party was elected its Aboriginal Affairs Committee in conjunction with the Minister carried out over a period a survey reviewing public expenditure in order to develop guidelines which would ensure that the principles to which I referred were followed while the Aboriginal people were given the necessary support to enable them to spend money wisely. The new Minister will find, as the previous Minister found, that there are great difficulties. The Aboriginal people of this country expect us to solve vast problems in a very short space of time. The previous Minister had to cope with the expansion from a small office to a department, and that is not easy, particularly when trying to involve Aboriginal people in enterprises to the maximum possible extent. Many Aboriginal people do not have qualifications which are recognised by the Public Service Board. Nevertheless, they might be able to play quite a responsible and useful role in Aboriginal affairs.
Many Aboriginal people have an unreal expectation of what this Parliament can do in allowing them to spend public money. It has not been pointed out to them that money appropriated from budgets of this Parliament has to be spent in accordance with the Audit Act and under the supervision of a Minister. Some of the expectations that have been held up to Aboriginal peeople unfortunately are unrealistic. I think there is a need for the Government to make fairly soon in the Parliament a well considered and wide-ranging statement on Aboriginal affairs in order to set the record straight and to let the people of Australia know the principles that guide the Government in its expenditure in these matters. The Government should also let the Aboriginal people, some of whom are outside Parliament House now, know what it is all about. This matter of public importance has to do with the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. It has been suggested that Ministerial responsibility has not been properly exercised. We on this side of the House take note of the views expressed by the right honourable member for Higgins. I support his views. But I should not like this opportunity to pass without placing on record the great work done by the Council in earlier days in the innovative stage because, without doubt, at a time when the Commonwealth was exploring new policies the Council played a substantial role in advising the Minister of the time on the development of those policies.
The role of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs is unique because unlike the Department of Health - I choose that Department because of the presence of the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) at the table - which has a clearly defined responsibility, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, given the joint Commonwealth and State responsibilities in this area, has not only the responsibility for expending money on its own Estimates but also the problem of acting as a catalyst for co-ordinating the work of the other Commonwealth departments in the field and for coordinating with State departments and other organisations. It was for that reason that the late Mr Holt, the then honourable member for Higgins, in his wisdom set up the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. While there may be matters which should be looked at, and which are being looked at, in the whole question of the administration of Aboriginal affairs - and I think we all agree that what is happening at the moment is a searching review of all these procedures - the fact of the matter is that the Council has served the Aboriginal people of Australia well and we would be ungenerous in the extreme if we let this debate pass without placing that statement on record.
The matter of a one-line entry in the Budget was raised by the right honourable member for Higgins. Of course, this is not the only one-line entry we have seen in Budgets. Hon- ourable members will recall that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has a one-line entry in the Budget. However, the expenditure of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs is accounted for in the AuditorGeneral’s report. Much of this one-line entry - which amounts to more than $30m if my memory serves me correctly - is made up of money provided to the States. Very little is not subject to audit. The procedures laid down by the present Government require an Aboriginal organisation to have a constitution, to have a proper accountability, before it receives assistance. Any Aboriginal organisation that has not met this criterion has found that continued assistance is not provided.
The matter of turtle farming has been raised. This is the subject of investigation. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) asked the special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) to appoint appropriate people - Dr Carr from Florida, Professor Maine from Western Australia and another gentleman on the managerial side, Mr Smart - to investigate the matter. We hope that the Special Minister of State will have their report in a week or so - fairly soon. It is not our intention to harm the turtle project. It has never been the intention of any member of the Labor Party to harm the turtle farming project. If that project is viable, both ecologically and economically, every member of the Labor Party and, I am sure, of the Parliament wants it to succeed.
I think that this has been a useful debate. Many areas of our performance in Aboriginal Affairs should be improved. This discussion has thrown light on the administrative procedures which are, quite correctly, being subjected to a great deal of scrutiny at present. I can say only that I welcome the bipartisan approach to this matter by Opposition speakers to this stage. I think it augers well for the Aboriginal program in the future.
Motion (by Mr Daly) put:
That the business of the day be called upon.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - ‘Honourable J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Australian Capital Territory Representation (Mouse of Representatives) Bill 1973.
States Grants (Petroleum Products) Bill 1973.
Payroll Tax (Territories) Bill 1973.
– Order! There is no point of order involved. The motion moved by the Leader of the House has been carried. No point of order is involved.
– May I seek your guidance, Mr Speaker. Under the Standing Orders a period of time is allotted for the discussion of matters of public importance. It has been the practice for two of these matters to be debated a week. On this occasion a good many Aboriginal people have come to Canberra. I would ask your guidance as to the basis upon which the gag has been moved on the discussion of a matter of such national importance.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– Supporters of the Government are not the slightest bit interested in the real problems.
– Fair go. For 25 years you never knew that they existed.
-Order! The honourable member for Robertson will come to order. No further business will be discussed until the House comes to order.
Bill presented by Br Everingham, and read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill will expand the involvement of the Australian Government in mental health and related health fields. It replaces the States Grants (Mental Health Institutions) Act under which grants were made towards the capital cost of mental health institutions. That Act expired on 30 June 1973. The Bill adopts a different approach, while taking on a much wider view of mental health, than that of the earlier Act. It outlines forward looking and visible action, starting with some of the most neglected health areas and most care deprived groups in the Australian community. The Government proposes grants for the capital costs of approved additional community facilities for alcohol and drug dependent persons and the mentally disturbed or disabled. These will not be inside mental hospitals. They will include both non-residential and hostel facilities for prevention, outpatient treatment, training and rehabilitation. Besides funding capital projects we will make grants to meet maintenance costs of approved non-residential services for alcohol, drug and mental problems, including prevention, teaching, research and the evaluation of treatment programs.
Under the Bill the Minister for Health will approve schemes and projects submitted by the States, local governing bodies and voluntary organisations. State schemes may include projects of voluntary organisations within the State. Research shows that community health care is often more effective than institutional care. Persons suffering from psychiatric and similar problems return to coping normally much more quickly when treated in their usual community environment, with their families and friends around them. Preventive, early treatment, education and aftercare services will be a feature of the projects to be undertaken. We shall be shifting the emphasis away from so called ‘tow-away medicine’.
We must abandon the institutionalised and quite often inflexible approach to health care. This approach, which unfortunately has almost grown to acceptance through habit rather than reason, involves ad hoc responses to urgent requests for health care along with the hope that things will work out. This has not been, nor will it ever be, a satisfactory approach to Australia’s health needs. Government, and Government agencies, can no longer sit pat waiting for the next urgent call for help. Through planning and research we must anticipate these calls. It is now a well recognised policy in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada that the large and often impersonal mental hospitals and other similar institutions need to be substantially phased out and replaced by the types of services to be funded by this Bill with additional beds integrated into general hospitals.
As the community health program gets further under way and as the Australian Hospitals and Health Services Commission completes its recommendations on hospitals and all other forms of institutional care we can expect to see similar developments accelerated in Australia. Consequently the Government intends that care in the community should henceforth be placed, in effect, at ‘shop-front’ clinics and, indeed, ‘at the door-step’ of families which might otherwise delay going to an institution for help. Early diagnosis and treatment, social support and follow-up will be closer to the approach of the old village doctor, parish priest or other traditional family friends. Decentralised services in local communities will be staffed by specialised, but not starch-fronted, personnel such as mental health visitors, psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists, all of whom will work closely with general medical practitioners and other community health people.
Alongside community health programs will be an expansion of hostel and ‘half-way house’ accommodation for persons with chronic mental problems or social handicaps, who need residential care but not the more costly care of mental and general hospitals and nursing homes. The addition of community based services for alcoholism and drug dependency along with our new emphasis on other aspects of community mental health is a vital forward step in combating those serious community problems in a systematic way. Available manpower and other resources can thus be spread more widely and be more available at local level. In the next few years, further increasing local integration with community health, education and welfare services will remove more of the old stigma attaching to those need-, ing help which is not just physical.
The Bill provides for allocations of up to $7.5m for each of the years 1973-74 and 1974-75 after which such services will continue to be supported under, and will be integrated with, the broader Australian community health program. Payments up to the level of approved allocations will be made as expenditure is incurred. However, the Bill also provides for advances to be made, and this provision will be widely used to cut through the timidity and red tape that so often strangles promising plans.
The Bill authorises the Minister to make grants to voluntary organisations which have a role of co-ordinating the services, in more than one State, of their own organisation or other organisations. Claims in respect of expenditure incurred during 1973-74 or 1974-75 under approved schemes may be submitted up to 30 June 1976. Approvals may be subject to conditions and allocations may be varied during development of approved schemes. These provisions will give valuable flexibility to the recipients and enable adjustments to be made in the light of the rate of progress of individual projects. The Bill will bring, in a more effective and ‘flexible way than the former assistance in the field of mental health, bridges to the developing broad community health field being expanded by the Government on the advice of the Interim Committee of the Australian Hospitals and Health Services Commission, whose first report on this subject I was privileged to table on 30 May last. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lynch) adjourned.
– by leave- Immediately before the suspension of the sitting for lunch the Treasurer (Mr Crean) informed the House that the Government had decided to extend the range of income over which aged people will be entitled to the full rebate of $156 announced in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech as part of an overall pensions and taxation package. The Treasurer commented that it had been intended that the rebate would phase out for taxable incomes above $2,236 but that the Government had now decided, in the light of representations it had received, to propose that the full rebate of $156 would apply for taxable incomes up to $3,224, and a reduction by 25c for each $1 of taxable income above $3,224, so that aged people with taxable income of as much as $3,847 would benefit from the special rebate. The Treasurer went on to say that he would be commenting more about the new arrangements, and the reasons for them, when the necessary legislation was introduced He said that he was confident that they would be found to provide an approporiate set of rules for elderly people.
If that is the Treasurer’s judgment it certainly is not shared by members of the Opposition Parties. Although the level at which a full rebate of $156 will apply is to be raised from $2,236 to $3,224 nearly 20 per cent of all pensioners will be called up to pay tax or lodge taxation returns. Pensioners with a combined pension and non-pension income of $37 a week could be liable for tax under the Treasurer’s proposals. It is one thing to make pensions taxable for those for the first time receiving pensions as a consequence of means test abolition. It is another to tax pensions payable only after the application of a means test.
Many who this year have their pensions reduced by 50c in the dollar of earnings or superannuation above $20 a week are now to have incomes further reduced by a marginal rate of tax of 15c in the dollar. The combined effect of means test and income tax is that these pensioners lose 57.5 per cent for each additional dollar of earnings or superannuation above the permissible limit. Yet next year, or the year after, depending on their age, these pensioners will receive means test-free pensions as the means test is progressively abolished. The full rebate of $156 is to be allowed to pensioners whose taxable income including pensions is $3,224 or less. The tax liability for a person with a taxable income of $3,224 is S409. Pensioners with this income will, notwithstanding the Treasurer’s announcement, still be liable for $250 tax. The tax payable on a taxable income of $37 a week is equal to the rebate of $156 a year. Any pensioner with an income above $37 a week will be liable for tax. Some pensioners who are subject to the means test and currently entitled to the full pension are still to be liable to the tax.
I place on record my appreciation of the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) who has had a depth of background in this area as honourable members will recognise. He provided me with the statistical basis on which these comments have been made. Having set that scene, let me go on to say that the method of presentation used by the Treasurer is designed to camouflage the imposition of tax on pensioners. As honourable members will know, this Government has deserted the aged, the elderly, the pensioners, the fixed income earners and those people on superannuation payments. I believe the Government stands indicted not for what it has done but for what it has failed to do to ease the plight of these very disadvantaged groups in the Australian community.
That situation is clear from a statement issued by the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation which referred to the Government’s position in the last Budget in these terms:
We are bitterly disappointed that the Government has not seen fit to make provision for greater pension increases for those whose only means of subsistence is the pension itself. It would appear that this section of the community, most defenceless, nothing to sell, unable to strike, are to bear the brunt of today’s inflationary conditions. It is our view that inflation should be approached with a firm resolve to ensure that the poor do not become poorer and the rich richer. We view the future with no small degree of apprehension.
That is not the Federal Opposition parties in this Parliament speaking; that was a direct quotation from the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation. Therefore, in regard to what the Treasurer has told this Parliament,
I say again that it is a method of presentation designed to camouflage the imposition of taxation on pensioners.
I repeat what I said before: The Government must stand indicted for the manner in which it has left these people defenceless in circumstances of very heavy inflation which this Goverment has deliberately generated to pay for its excessive spending programs. If the Federal Treasurer and the Ministry collectively are intent on seeking to do something for those groups in the community who are most disadvantaged by the inflationary spiral for which the Government must accept major responsibility, they would for the first time in this Parliament be prepared to bring in a total and comprehensive economic white paper designed to provide an effective anti-inflationary policy.
As honourable members know, the real tragedy is that as inflation continues to escalate to ever higher levels, the Government apparently is unable to comprehend what ought to be done at present. The Treasurer’s statement is a lamentable excuse for the policy the Government should put down to solve the plight of people in disadvantaged conditions and I believe that, far from commending itself to this House, that statement ought to be condemned.
Debate resumed from 10 October (vide page 1 825), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Commonwealth Banks Bill (No. 2), the Reserve Bank Bill and the Papua New Guinea (Transfer of Banking Business) Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 4 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 4 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– It is appropriate that the 4 Bills before the House be considered together. The Commonwealth Banks Bill 1973 provides that, at a date to be determined, Papua New Guinea will be excluded from the operation of the Act. This will facilitate the transfer of the greater part of the Papua New Guinea business of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to a new Papua New Guinea Government Commercial Bank which is to be established. The Reserve Bank Bill 1973 provides for the withdrawal of the application of the Reserve Bank Act to Papua New Guinea. In addition, the Bill also provides, with retrospective effect from March 1971, for specific authority for the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank of Australia to make loans to co-operative associations engaged in primary production.
The Papua New Guinea (Transfer of Banking Business) Bill 1973 allows for the transfer of certain assets and liabilities from the Reserve Bank of Australia to the Bank of Papua New Guinea, and from the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to the proposed new Papua New Guinea Government Commercial Bank. The Banking Bill 1973 allows the withdrawal of the application of the Australian Banking Act to Papua New Guinea. In short, the objective of the 4 Bills before the House is to transfer the control and supervision of banking in Papua New Guinea to the Government of Papua New Guinea and to pave the way for the establishment of a separate Papua New Guinea banking system and central bank.
Under the existing legislation the responsibility for the control and supervision of banking in Papua New Guinea resides of course with the Australian Government, and in particular with the Reserve Bank of Australia. The legislation before the House arises from the detailed examination undertaken by the Committee on Banking in Papua New Guinea established by the former Government. The Opposition supports the 4 Bills. We are aware that the provisions of the Bills have the complete support of the Papua New Guinea Government with which appropriately the details have been subject to full and detailed discussion. We recognise that it is the wish of the Papua New Guinea Government to bring into force on 1 November 1973 the Central Banking Ordinance and the Banks and Financial Institutions Ordinance, ‘both of which have been recently passed by the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly. Accordingly we seek to co-operate with the Government to expedite the passage of all 4 Bills without delay.
The Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea in a speech to the University of Papua New Guinea on 19 March said:
There is a new Government in Papua New Guinea. For all practical purposes, we are already selfgoverning. My Government is responsible for the basic decisions that will shape the lives of Papua New Guinea’s people. And this new Government is choosing new policies, suited to the needs of our people. In particular, we are moving away from past policies that emphasised economic growth as the basic goal. We are moving towards a more well-rounded program -one that has the basic aim of improving the lives of Papua New Guineans - not simply increasing the gross national product.
The Bills before the House which provide for a separate Papua New Guinea banking system, will facilitate the development of a banking and financial system appropriate to the policies of the Papua New Guinea Government and will ensure control by Papua New Guinea in the future development in that country. The Opposition parties support the 4 Bills before the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 10 October (vide page 1825), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 10 October (vide page 1 825), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 10 October (vide page 1826), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16 October (vide page 2194), on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Declaration of Urgency
– I declare the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973 is an urgent Bill.
That the Bill be considered an urgent Bill.
The House divided.
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time
– I move:
The Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill is an urgent measure. It is one which, as Opposition members have stated, has far reaching implications. The Corporation will have far reaching powers. The Opposition has decided that it will oppose both this Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill which are being dealt with as cognate measures. Therefore I assume that the Opposition is against every clause in the Bill before the House. In consequence of that, there is no great purpose in delaying this Bill from being considered in another place. Furthermore, it was introduced into this House on 30 August. There has been ample time in which to debate the measure, apart from the time when the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) was overseas, but the Opposition was not ready to debate it. Last Monday at the request of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) this debate was postponed because the Opposition was not ready to proceed with it.
– That is not right.
– It is not rot. It was listed for debate last Monday but at the request of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition the debate was postponed until another day. Had the Bill come on for debate on Monday ample time would have been available to debate it. Because of the factors I have mentioned and because of other associated matters it is not possible to delay this measure going to another place any longer. I might say that we were prepared to give to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition unlimited time to speak on this Bill, and we were prepared to devote much more time to debating it, but because of the delaying and frustrating tactics adopted, particularly by the Country Party, the consideration of legislation is being interrupted unnecessarily by those who are determined not to hear debate on matters but to frustrate the activities of this Parliament. I simply say to honourable members opposite that when they delay the deliberations and considerations of this Parliament and when they waste time by bringing on matters that are not important, by moving for the suspension of Standing Orders and by other means they must expect to have reduced the time allotted for consideration of other matters.
Let me demonstrate how time has been wasted. Earlier today the Opposition initiated discussion of a matter of public importance, and it could not even maintain a quorum in the House during that debate. It was just wasting time. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), who initiated the debate-
– I rise to a point of order. Should the Minister make those remarks when the Ministry cannot arrive in time for question time each day?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)There is no point of order.
– I rise on a point of order. Is the Minister putting us on notice that he wants a quorum in this House for the rest of today?
– There is no point of order.
– I was merely pointing out to the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) that a member of his own Party sought to discuss a matter of public importance and the Opposition could not even maintain a quorum in the House. The honourable member for Gwydir had to appeal for support from his own side of the House on the most important matter of Aborigines. The Parliament cannot afford to overlook this time wasting in which the Opposition has engaged. If honourable members opposite desire to deliberate on very important and far reaching legislation such as that which is before the House at the moment, they should behave like members of Parliament and not like school children. Then they will have the opportunity to carry on such deliberations.
Important legislation has to be declared urgent because Opposition members have decided that they will try to make the Parliament unworkable. As I mentioned earlier, they are entitled to do this within the confines of the Standing Orders. We in our turn are entitled to use the Standing Orders also. Honourable members opposite will know that when we were sitting on that side of the House we had plenty of practice in applying the Standing Orders and we know the ins and outs of them. The Opposition is entitled to do all these things but it should not complain that as a result of its actions the discussion of important matters is shorter than probably it should be. I ask the House to carry this motion, and I suggest to honourable members opposite that if they want to debate this Bill at length they not waste time now in debating this motion because the time that is spent in doing so will come out of the time that may be devoted to debating the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill.
– I protest in the strongest possible terms against this action taken by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) It is an outrage and a flagrant misuse of the forms of this House. It is contemptuous of this Parliament. It is a fair indication of the manner in which the Government regards the passage of the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill which is currently before us. We oppose the guillotine motion which the Government has now moved. It allows some 4i hours for the second reading debate and only one hour for the Committee stage. The Opposition Parties wish to move some 26 amendments to this Bill and approximately 20 amendments to the National Investment Fund Bill. The Government itself has approximately 40 amendments to move to both Bills. If the Government regards these Bills as important it ought to allow far more time for debate than apparently it is prepared to allow.
During the course of this debate I will not take the full time which is available to me because by doing so I would only prevent other honourable members in the Opposition Parties from speaking in the second reading debate. But I want the Leader of the House to know that if he wants confrontation in this House, this is the way to go about it. If the Government wants a speedy passage for these Bills, this action is counter productive because we give notice to the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) that the Bills will be delayed in the Senate. By its action the Government will gain nothing but it will upset this House by the contemptible manner in which it has taken this action. We reject the motion.
– I know that in debating this motion I can take 20 minutes but that would be 20 minutes of the time which should be used in debating the Bill. I do not want to take up the time of the House now. If the Opposition is ready to have the question on this matter put we will put it now so that we can get straight on to debating the Bill. On the other hand, if the Opposition wants to continue debating this motion, there are things which I would like to say about it. However, I do not want to take the time of the House in doing so.
– That is the threat. So we are to have either a blackmail threat to curtail debate on this motion or we are to be denied an opportunity to speak on the Bill.
– Do not talk like a larrikin. The honourable member has been behaving like a larrikin for weeks.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! There is far too much across-the- chamber conversation. This only inhibits the debate and it makes it difficult for the Chair to control the House. 1 call the Minister.
– I do not want to take up the time of the House. If the Opposition is prepared to decide this question now we will go on to debate the Bill.
– Is the Opposition prepared to decide it now or not? If not, we will take the time.
– You are treating us like school children.
– I am quite sure that the honourable member would be very much at home. I think the Opposition has taken a very rigid position on this legislation. It has decided to reject the 2 Bills lock, stock and barrel. It is not prepared seriously to consider taking a constructive attitude to the Bills. Honourable members opposite described these Bills yesterday in the most extravagant terms which indicated in many cases that the honourable members who spoke had not even read the Bills or that, if they had read them, they did not understand them. They took an unequivocal position of opposition. There was nothing of a constructive nature that they wanted to offer. Therefore it seems to me that as far as this House is concerned and the Opposition in it the use of time in the Committee stages would be unjustified anyhow in view of the position which the Opposition has taken. It has taken a position in which it rejects the 2 Bills completely. So how can the Opposition pretend that it wants to use the Committee stages for the purpose of putting amendments? What is more, the Opposition has had 5 or 6 weeks in which to study these Bills. I announced when I introduced the Bills that I wanted them to be studied. I expected that members of the Opposition would adopt a constructive attitude towards them.
Yesterday we offered to make available to the Opposition officers of the Department and of the Australian Industry Development Corporation to discuss the matter with Opposition members and as far as I know that offer was not taken up by anybody. It is quite clear to me that the Opposition does not want to debate these Bills constructively; in fact it only wants to use the time to misrepresent the meaning of the Bills and to give a distorted impression of the Bills to the Australian people and to the Parliament. I have very little sympathy for the kind of speeches that I heard on these Bills yesterday. They contributed nothing to the debate. If we continue the debate under those circumstances nothing will be contributed. It seems completely ridiculous to me that the Opposition has taken the stand that it rejects the 2 Bills completely. Honourable members opposite have said time and time again that they will not have a bar of them. Then they pretend that they want to use the Committee stages for the purpose of putting amendments.
The fate of these Bills will be decided in the Senate, not in this place. It is important for the Government that the legislation should get to the place where the decision will be made so that the Senate will have the maximum possible opportunity to exhibit a constructive attitude to these measures as I am satisfied it will. That attitude will be far superior to the negative, distorting kind of treatment that was given yesterday to these Bills by honourable members opposite. I am extremely disappointed that the Opposition was unable to produce during the course of the debate yesterday afternoon one speaker who was able to show any constructive understanding of what is being attempted by this legislation. The Opposition has had sufficient time to blackguard and slander everybody associated with this legislation in the manner in which honourable members opposite did yesterday and, frankly, I am not concerned to give the Opposition any more time to do this.
– I wish to take up the time of the House briefly to say only 3 things. The first is that this is one of the few occasions on which we have had outright blackmail tactics applied by members of the Government to members of the Opposition in such an overt and reprehensible fashion as has been applied by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns). It is important that it should be recognised that this piece of legislation is regarded by the Opposition members as highly significant. My colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch), has referred to the limited amount of time this guillotine permits us to debate not only the second reading but also the significant amendments to be put in Committee by both the Government and the Opposition. It is inadequate for us to permit the Government to refer the whole debate to the Senate which is the consequence of the motion. Debate is to be denied to the lower House of the Parliament of Australia. We are to be curtailed. The debate is to be referred to another chamber. The Party that wishes to destroy the Senate is the Party that wishes to refer this debate to the Senate, lt is the Party that seeks a unicameral system of administration in Australia, lt is the Party that persists in referring to a bicameral system. Yet this is the only opportunity it gives to debate significant economic legislation, lt is complete nonsense for the Minister for Overseas Trade to say that members on this side of the House have not put forward responsible points of view, lt is on a major piece of legislation of this character that it is important that honourable members on all sides should have an opportunity to express concern at where the changes provided in this legislation will lead the Australian Industry Development Corporation and also this country. We are denied that chance. The members of the Australian Country Party deplore and oppose completely the guillotine in the form in which it is now presented.
- Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Waste our time.
– I think it ill-behoves the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to suggest that when I want to comment on what he said it is a waste of time. If he were concerned about saving time he would not have served up the dose of drivel he did just a few minutes ago. If he were concerned to save time this matter would have been put to a vote 10 minutes ago. In fact, the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) made an offer to this House that if the Opposition were prepared to vote on the matter straight away that would save time. The retort to that offer came from the Deputy Leader of the Country Party who said that it was blackmail. He has a very poor grasp of the English language. He does not understand plain, ordinary English. When the matter is debated from this side of the House the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says: ‘It is wasting time’. They are the sort of people that one cannot please. They are the sort of people who do not understand logic and for that reason-
– You are the sort of people that people cannot trust.
– You are the sort of people that the Australian people do not trust and that is why you are sitting on that side of the
House. You went from this side to that side of the House because the people did not trust you, and for very good reason. Your record did not stand up to an examination. The factual position in this matter is that the Opposition is engaged in an exercise of hypocrisy. The Opposition is prepared to oppose this legislation outright. The reasons that it opposes it outright fall into 2 categories. Firstly, the Opposition is defending the interests of its wealthy friends and benefactors. Secondly, the Opposition wishes to deny the ordinary Australian people the opportunity to share in the benefits of the capital growth of Australia. The Opposition denies the ordinary citizens the opportunity which this legislation presents for them to participate in the great national development which is occurring. The Opposition denies the ordinary people who are afraid of the stock market and the stock brokers the opportunity to put their savings into a place where they will grow with the national growth of Australia. That is the essence of this legislation. There are 2 sides in this House as far as this legislation is concerned. There are those who are prepared to side with the rich man - the international investor.
– I rise to order. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the motion before the chair. It is totally irrelevant.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! When I listen to this babble I can remember that when I was a child I heard a remark by a predecessor in this chair, Mr Archie Cameron, who said that the babble in the House reminded him of being in a 2-up school. I am starting to think that we are reverting to those days. I remind the honourable member for Phillip that the discussion must be limited to the motion before the chair.
– I, of course, was falling for the temptation to respond to some of the irrelevant interjections which were coming from the other side of the House. I will do my best to resist that temptation. However, I believe that this is a matter which should be considered urgently by this House because the issues are great. But the issues are also simple. We do not need a week to debate whether we want to side with big business and financial institutions or to give the Australian people the right to participate in the economic growth of Australia. That is what the issues are all about. As the Minister pointed out, this legislation was introduced on 30 August. The Opposition has had plenty of time to consider the matter. Its problem has not been time to give consideration to the matter; its problem has been that the instructions from its big business friends have been a bit slow in coming through. The channels of communication have been slowed down and the Opposition has been caught on the hop. It has not been until this week that the Opposition Iras received its instructions from outside this Parliament. Honourable members opposite have to vote and they have to make up their minds. We are here to make sure that this essential legislation is not unduly delayed.
– This motion will be carried. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) has the numbers, and no person revels more in being in command of the numbers than does the honourable gentleman. But I say this to him: He will pass this motion but to the extent that he passes it he will seek to annihilate the spirit of this Parliament, and if he draws comfort from that he is .easily pleased. I say to the honourable gentleman that I am forbidden by the Standing Orders of this place to describe him in language that would seem to me to be appropriate. The honourable gentleman says that we have had this legislation on the stocks since 30 August and therefore there has been ample time to debate it. I say to the honourable gentleman that he is suffering from the Muenchausen syndrome. As far as the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) is concerned, I say this to the honourable gentleman: His groaning condescension is matched only by his impertinence. If a person disagrees with the honourable gentleman he says: ‘You are not being constructive.’ That is the attitude of the totalitarian.
– I take a point of order.
– The honourable gentleman does not like it.
Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– I want to know whether I have been insulted and whether I should ask for a withdrawal.
– Without determining whether the Leader of the House has been insured, I must inform the House that the time allowed for debate has expired.
That the motion (Mr Daly’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr V. J. Martin)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Debate resumed.
– I rise to support these 2
Bills because I believe, and 1 put it to the House, that they are 2 of the most important pieces of legislation yet to be presented by this Government to the House. When anything imaginative, anything that will serve the interests of all Australians, is put forward by this Government, one can predictably expect that opposition - irrational, abusive opposition - will come from the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. A good example of this can be seen in what has hapapened in the last 10 minutes. In the last 10 minutes we have seen the one and only wish of members of the Opposition being fulfilled, namely, an intention to delay, an intention to frustrate, an intention to block. Yesterday speakers from the Liberal Party and the Country Party waffled all over the place taking up time. Indeed the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) was as much a culprit in this regard as was anyone. He spoke about a groundnut scheme and told legal stories. He is a good friend of mine, but he contributed nothing to the debate. All he did was block and frustrate. Not a single constructive thought came through from the Opposition. Not even a thought,, constructive or otherwise, came through. All we got from the Opposition was a manifest intention that these measures -which are designed to overcome an ever increasing social mischief in the country are to be blocked at ‘all times. They are to be delayed here and then the Opposition will use whatever influence or power it has in the Senate perhaps to emasculate the Bills or do something else because members of the Opposition are the defenders of privilege, the defenders of wealth and the enemies of the average Australian who wants to share in progress and the ever increasing amount of wealth that is being produced in this country.
This Government believes in enterprise. It believes in private enterprise and in public enterprise. The hypocrisy comes from the Liberal and Country Parties when their members use such expressions, such euphemisms as ‘private enterprise’. They do not believe in any such thing at all, because they know -that pure competition in this sense no longer exists in this country because of the neglect on their part during a period of 23 years. A concentration of economic power has taken place in this country. Sometimes it is in this country but all too often it is given into the hands of overseas owners of wealth. We all know this, and indeed it was to the credit of Sir John McEwen when he was in this Parliament that he recognised what was happening. Back in 1970 he was able to establish the Australian Industry Development Corporation - a beginning on which this Government is now building - so that all Australians can share in Australia’s wealth. A lot of nonsense has been talked during the course of the speeches so Par - it can hardly be called a debate in view of what has been coming from the other side - to the effect that this legislation will bring about nationalisation by stealth and will result in a takeover bid on behalf of some giant colossus, some giant public corporation. The AIDC, as everyone who reads the Bill knows, will only be as good as the people of Australia make it, because it will raise money and compete in the market to marshal funds to buy back Australia, the Australia that in large measure was sold by people in the Liberal Party and people in the Country Party to overseas interests. Sir John McEwen recognised this when he established the AIDC back in 1970.
Misrepresentation has also occurred in the reference by the Opposition from time to time that in some way - I recall the honourable member for Moreton saying it - the Minister who would be responsible for the AIDC would have a great discretion. He has a discretion but it is a very limited discretion, and I invite honourable members to reflect on it, because it is contained in the Bill. It is to be found at the bottom of page 4. It is only if, after having received a report in pursuance of the Bill in relation to any enterprise or project, the Minister is of the opinion that it is in the national interest that the Australian Government should facilitate the provision of finance by the Corporation in relation to an enterprise or project or assist the Corporation to engage or participate in the enterprise or project, that he may, with the concurrence of the Treasurer, give such guarantee as will enable the Corporation to provide finance or to do what it wants to do, or out of the moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose he may make payments to the Corporation.
It has been said wrongly and mischievously - wickedly perhaps - that this will not involve the Parliament. What nonsense. Of course it will involve the Parliament. Every time such a proposition is considered it will presumably and properly be the subject of debate in this place. If it were not clear from the existing Bill - and I suggest that it is - the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) has indicated already to make it even clearer - clear enough even for members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party to understand - that amendments will be moved to put the position beyond doubt so that every time a proposition of this sort is contemplated it will be brought into this Parliament so that it can be debated and made the subject of examination. Is that not what this legislation is all about? We arc seeking to legislate against the concentration of economic power that has taken place in the country, power that is not accountable to the public at the present stage. There is no degree of Australian participation in it because the concentration is taking place all the time. As that great American publicist and politician of some years ago, Estes Kefauver, once said, the wealth and the power are these days in too few hands. This legislation seeks to make accountability through this Parliament so that if a decision is to be made, if money is to be appropriated, if a guarantee is to be given, the matter will be presented to this Parliament, where it can be debated. That surely puts the whole issue beyond doubt. In the short time that we have left-
– That you have left.
– That is right. Who wasted the time yesterday with all that nonsense? This measure will go into the great list of Labor Party achievements. It will join the Commonwealth Bank; it will join the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority; it will join TransAustralia Airlines - all the great examples of public enterprise, every one of them opposed at one time or another by the Liberal Party and the Country Party. Members of those parties have never supported anything of substance in this Parliament. They have always opposed such measures in the interests of the people who basically support them. It is easy to sec why they should do so. It is because, as has been so often said in this Parliament in recent days, they have been receiving funds from those interests. The parties now in Opposition dismantled the Commonwealth Oil Refinery. We created the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Commonwealth Bank, back in the old days. We hope to set up the Australian Industries Commission. This measure will go down in the list of great achievements of the Whitlam Labor Government. That is why honourable members opposite are opposed to it. That is why they are shouting. They have no argument. They simply say: ‘Stop them. Frustrate the Government. Delay it as long as possible while we marshal our funds from the people who are buying out this country - the multi-national foreign dominated corporations.’
When the legislation was introduced in 1970 to set up the Australian Industry Development Corporation Sir John McEwen said: ‘It will give us an opportunity to buy back the farm’. He used a highly emotive expression that has since been criticised but he went on to say that the performance of the previous Government was not good enough in letting the economy progressively run down, making ends meet by allowing a little bit of the farm to be sold off every week or every month. The cry was: ‘Sell off the farm’. This measure was designed to allow Australians to contribute to funds to marshal the capital and wealth - to buy Australia back. Predictably, as sure as day follows night the people who are now in Opposition opposed it. It threatened what they stand for. They have nothing to offer. They opposed the measure in their Party rooms back in 1970. One honourable member opposite said yesterday that considerable misgivings were entertained even then. That was because they did not want the farm bought back for the benefit of Australians. They had misgivings that Australians should own their own country, but the majority in the present Opposition parties outvoted the opponents of the measure because they saw that a storm was rapidly approaching. This Government is now taking the logical and natural steps to put it right.
In the short time left to me I want to quote some remarks on this subject by Sir Alan Westerman - one of Australia’s current crop of great Australians. He is not a politician. He was appointed by the previous Government. In a speech to the Victorian section of the Australian Institute of Management Sir Alan Westerman said that the Australian Industry Development Corporation - as it is, unreformed and unchanged - was currently operating under restrictions which, while valid when the Corporation was established, had become nonsense. It is to cure that situation that the Government has introduced this Bill. Sir Alan went on:
You could say that I understand the reasons for the proposed changes, relating as they do to the practical day to day business of the Corporation. They are changes which indicate a close understanding of the experiences of AIDC since it was established. Also, the Government has not come out with anything which is not right in our ball park.
Sir Alan stated that he did not believe that the changes altered the basic philosophy of AIDC, except for the provision which would require it to support in the national interest certain projects which it felt could not be undertaken on commercial grounds. That situation is to be changed by the amending legislation. Sir Alan Westerman made certain points in his address. He said, for example, that the original restriction which required AIDC to borrow principally from overseas was first put in because of the scarcity of funds in Australia b.:t it had tended to become nonsense now that we are embarrassed by the amount of funds already here. But those funds are not being put to the uses that the Australian people require. In the same speech Sir Alan went on to say in replying- to questions - and this sums up the whole position - that the Government’s policies were in effect increasing the horsepower of AIDC and adding to its fuel tank. It is an emotive description that we might not accept ourselves but it is the view of one of the current great Australians who is familiar with the problem. He was associated with AIDC from its beginning and recognises the merit of the current proposals being put before this Parliament for implementation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The time allotted for the second reading debate has expired.
Question put -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr V. J. Martin)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– There being no objection, leave is granted for the amendments to be incorporated in Hansard. (The amendments read as follows) - (!) Omit clause 4, substitute the following clause: - “4. Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting in sub-section (1), after the definition of ‘Director’, the following definition: - “minerals” includes petroleum and natural gas;’.”.
Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting in sub-section (1), after the definition of “Director”, the following definitions: - “‘full-time Director’ means a Director referred to in paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) of section 11 who was appointed as a full-time Director; minerals’ includes petroleum and natural gas; part-time Director’ means a Director referred :o in paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) of section II who was appointed as a part-time Director;”.
– I move: Omit the clause, substitute the following clause:- “4. Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended -
This amendment is consequential upon our opposition to clause 9 and our foreshadowed intention to amend clause 25. The effect of this amendment will be to exclude the Secretary of the Department of Secondary Industry from the Board of the Australian Industry Development Corporation and to require that the Auditor-General audit the accounts of the Corporation. The Opposition totally opposes any suggestion by the Government that the Secretary of the Department of Secondary Industry should be included on the Board of AIDC. Our primary concern is that the Corporation should not be subject to any form of Government direction. The whole philosophy of the Corporation as presently constituted is based on the principle of ite separateness from government. The Opposition’s concern in this matter is greatly increased by the Government’s intention by separate amendment to amend the Bill to provide that the Secretary of the Department of Minerals and Energy should also be appointed to the Board. We believe that the Board of the Corporation should not be constrained in any way in its task of making whatever judgments it believes proper, based, of course, on sound commercial and financial considerations.
The inclusion of 2 senior public servants can in no way contribute to the Board’s financial judgment We see it as no more than a device to secure for the Government a direct pipeline between the Minister’s office and the Board. I believe the Minister made some reference to this aspect, although not in those terms, in his second reading speech. The whole philosophy of the Corporation is one of separation, yet this appears a blatant method of allowing Ministers to exert direct influence on the discussions and decisions of the Board which should be unencumbered by that type of influence and direction. We believe there is no doubt as to the manner in which that influence would be .used. The Opposition would have thought that the recent disclosure of the lengths to which the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) was prepared to go in seeking to impose his own direct influence, without regard for the concept of ministerial responsibility, would have prevented the Government from seeking an amendment to place such a nominee on the Board of the Corporation. There is no legitimate reason why 2 permanent heads of the Commonwealth Public Service, with no proven business experience, should seek to influence commercial judgments. I should like the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) to indicate what advantage he would see in having 2 direct Government nominees on the Board. Perhaps, according to his own philosophy, those nominees would be there for purposes of influence and determination of what should be decisions unencumbered by such influence - decisions which should be based on no more and no less than a total commercial judgment.
Finally the Opposition’s amendment to this clause also takes into account our view that the Auditor-General should be responsible for the inspection and auditing of the Corporation’s accounts and records. It is important that the operations of the Corporation be scrutinised to ensure that public funds are adequately protected. I hope that the Minister has no objection to this principle and may consider agreeing to that amendment which, in fact, will do no more than bring the affairs of the Corporation properly before the Parliament for debate.
– I refer to the first part of the amendment first. Over a long period the Government has given consideration to the proposal that the Secretary of the Department of Secondary Industry should be on the Board of the Australian Industry Development Corporation and, more recently, to a proposal that the Secretary of the Department of Minerals and Energy also should be on the Board. The Austraiian Industry Development Corporation is a public corporation. It has been set up by the Government of Australia with the approval of a great many members of the present Opposition. It has a responsibility as a public corporation. It is not merely a group of people who have responsibility in a private or commercial sense. It is true that their judgment must be exercised according to commercial principles. But that does not mean that they should be solely private, commercial or industrial people. It is a public corporation. All the members of the Board could have been government-type people, but the alternative was chosen because it is a corporation which is working very closely with industry and a corporation which has to a very large extent won the confidence of industry, although its operations are not great. It has only about S53m outlaid at the present time. The second reason why we considered this to be desirable is as follows: I do not know what was the experience of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) when he was a member of the previous Government, but my experience with departments and departmental heads has been that they are extremely competent people.
– I agree with that.
– They have a very experienced and capable judgment to exercise. I think the Corporation would gain if it had such men exercising their judgment, along with others, on its Board. There is room for 11 members on the Board, apart from these two. They will be two out of 11, 12, 13 or whatever it might happen to be. As far as I am concerned as the Minister, they will be free to exercise their judgment as responsible people. I would not at any stage attempt to influence their judgment. I would be very unfavourable if anyone else tried to exercise their judgment. I ask the Opposition to have a little respect for the Government as well as for itself in this respect. In saying that, I expect it to take that as being a statement of what will actually happen.
The third reason for wanting to include the heads of these 2 departments is that their departments are departments which have, to my knowledge and I am sure to the knowledge of some of those who sit opposite, a great ability to know the field of minerals and energy in one case and secondary industry in another and to know what is desirable to be done, lt is proper that they should be able to bring their knowledge and experience as the heads of 2 departments working continually in the field of minerals and energy on the one hand and secondary industry on the other to the use and service of the AIDC. It seems to me that there are 3 strong reasons - I can mention quite a number of others but I feel I do not want to take up time doing so - why the Government should take the decision it has taken. I do not mind reassessing it and looking at it again. Between now and the time of the Bill being introduced in the Senate I will do that. But I feel quite convinced at this stage that the decision made by the Government in this respect is a sound one.
I turn to the comments about the AuditorGeneral. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will have noticed that we have provided in the National Interest Division that the auditing shall be done by the Auditor-General because the National Interest Division will be concerned alone with transactions in relation to which the Government is guaranteeing the AIDC or where the Parliament will be appropriating funds out of its own sources - from revenue or from wherever else it may be able to acquire funds. The National Interest Division will be a public funds area. Therefore it is quite appropriate that the auditing there should be done by the Auditor-General. The previous Government - I understand its view on this was quite developed and incisive - con sidered that it was inappropriate to have other than a legally qualified private auditor auditing in the private area.
The other part of the AIDC’s operations is a private area. It acquires considerable knowledge. In its books it has a considerable amount of detail on private companies in which it is investing. Because private interests are involved, because private companies come into the relations with the AIDC and because the AIDC’s records have extensive information - sometimes very extensive information - about these private companies, I have accepted the previous Government’s view that the auditing here should be done by a legally qualified private auditor. The AIDC has, as I understand it, one of the auditors most respected in the business community. Frankly, I see no reason to change the position with respect to the part of the AIDC’s operations that involves private transactions in which decisions are carried out on ordinary commercial principles and in relation to which so much private information is available. It was a principle that the AIDC’s operations in this field should not be opened too much or in an unlimited way even to the scrutiny of the Parliament. It makes reports to the Parliament and the Parliament can act on those reports. If it thinks anything is wrong it can bring people to the bar of the House or set up a committee of inquiry into the AIDC. The Government which enacted this legislation was careful to ensure that we do not go too far. As I see it, it is best to leave it as it is.
– I have listened with very great attention to the statement made by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns). I think he must understand that enactment of the present Bill will completely change the whole character of the existing Act. I shall give a few illustrations. Sir John McEwen was quite deliberate in ensuring that one of the provisions of the Act was that money could be borrowed in Australia only in exceptional circumstances. Consequently there was little danger of there being any interference with the money market for Commonwealth, local government and semi-government organisations and the private market for finance. As well, many of the functions have been substantially increased until there is hardly any area of activity that has not been brought within the purview of the Act. In fact, under some of the dragnet clauses - one where any business whatsoever can be carried out - are so wide in its context that it changes the
Bill substantially. It makes it a totally different Bill. Perhaps what should have been done on this occasion is an entirely new Bill should have been brought in.
But then we go a stage further to the investment bonds. Here there is no limit whatsoever on the amount of money that can be obtained from the Australian public. In circumstances like this, with its powers to obtain funds and with its command over resources being so great, again the whole concept of the original Bill and of the AIDC has been changed. As one who probably knows as much about the Australian Resources Development Bank, having brought the measure into the House, and who knows more about the AIDC than any other person, with the possible exception of Sir John McEwen and Sir Alan Westerman, I know what the purposes of the original Bill were and what Cabinet intended. I can say to the Minister that because the whole concept has been changed we believe that we must ensure that maximum precautions are taken to make certain that proper auditing processes and accountancy processes are carried out. I believe that in such cases as the investments of the Australian people in, for example, business that would usually be done with the life offices, there could be no objection whatsoever to the Government auditor doing the auditing. He is a talented man. He does the auditing of most of the Government’s accounts. When the national interest and the interest of individual investors are involved in the way that they are involved on this occasion, we strongly believe that the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth should have the right to investigate and to comment on the accounts.
– I do not want to delay the Committee for very long, but I do want to say, having listened to the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon), that I think he has failed to understand the nature of this Bill. I base that upon what he has had to say. I want to remind him of what the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) said about this provision. He said that there are large areas in which the AIDC will operate as before. That will be in the private sector. The right honourable member for Lowe has taken advice on this. I have asked the same questions as the right honourable member for Lowe and received privately answers which satisfied me that because it would be in the private sector, those sections of the AIDC which are operating in the private sector should be in every nature private, which means that eminent firms of chartered accountants - I do not see why we should not mention the firm in this case; it is the firm well known throughout Australia of Edwin V. Nixon and Partners - should continue in the role of auditors. It is a body which is operating in the private sector, has great relationships in the private sector and should be seen to have those relationships. To that extent, the private firm of auditors provides the most appropriate people to be the auditors. Where the AIDC moves into the public sector - there are areas where this Bill will allow the AIDC to do so - the Auditor-General has his particular function. I support the Minister in resisting any changes in this area.
Clause agreed to.
Section 6 of the Principal Act is amended -
to facilitate and encourage the establishment, development and advancement of Australian industries concerned with the manufacture, processing, treatment, transportation or distribution of goods, or the development or use of natural resources (including the recovery of minerals), by - <i) providing, or assisting in the provision of, the financial resources required by Australian companies engaging, or proposing to engage, in any, such industries or in activities that are connected with, or incidental to, those industries; and
– I move:
The Opposition amendments to clause 5 give basic effect to our belief that the Corporation should not be able to engage in functions which are associated with the transportation and distribution of goods, nor should the Corporation have the capacity to form a company in its own right. The Minister for Overseas Trade (Or J. F. Cairns) who is at the table will understand that the amendments relate to both of those fundamental questions.
Clause 5 of the Bill seeks powers within the ambit of similar powers formerly rejected by the Opposition in respect of the Australian National Airlines Commission. By this clause the Government seeks to extend the functions of the Corporation to encompass a number of fields including the transportation and distribution of goods. As I mentioned during my speech on the second reading stage of this Bill, this provision provides a salient indication of the real objectives of the legislation. If the object of this legislation is to use the Australian Industry Development Corporation to secure Australian ownership and control, it is fair to ask the Minister to say when he responds in this debate why he seeks an extension of powers in the ambit of the AIDC relating to the fields of transportation and the distribution of goods.
Air transport is one field in which there is 100 per cent Australian ownership. Half is owned by the Government and, of course, half is owned by Australian shareholders. If one looks at the field of road passenger transport, again it is seen to be owned 100 per cent by Australian companies. If one looks at the field of road freighting organisations, one finds that the five or six largest national operators are all Australian owned. Furthermore, the capital markets both here and overseas have and will continue to provide adequate finance for the future development of the transport industry in the private sector. Clearly, one can be for given for believing that the Government is intent on the extension of public control of the transport industry. The Opposition rejects this proposition as entirely unjustified, not simply on economic grounds but also because of the social implications of that approach. We believe this to be a device to achieve objectives formerly sought in previous legislative proposals and because we rejected those proposals when the Australian National Airlines Bill was before this House, we certainly reject them again.
Clause 5 also seeks to amend the Act to widen the functions of the Corporation to enable it to form a company in its own right. We believe - and we are entitled to put our point of view firmly in this House - that this represents an unwarranted extension of the Corporation’s powers. It is our view that the Corporation’s functions should not be subject to the alteration in the manner in which clause 5 seeks to provide. Its functions as presently constituted are designed to assist the private sector in respect of the mining and manufacturing industries, to provide development finance in situations where existing financial institutions are not able to meet the financial and investment needs of Australian companies and to provide a stimulus for export and import replacements. The alteration proposed by the Government plainly is not designed to assist Australian companies. Its purpose is to assist the Government’s aim to promote its concept of State-controlled corporate socialisation.
Before entering the chamber, I was interested to read back over the Minister’s second reading speech. It was just a cursory reading, but 1 ask the Minister to respond to what I put to him. It was curious that I could not find the word ‘socialism’ anywhere in the second reading speech. I thought to myself that it was not only curious but was also a point on which I should probe the Minister.
– Let us hear what you mean by it.
– I should like to hear the honourable member for Adelaide on this point because I do not think he has the faintest idea. T should like to hear the Minister indicate why there is no reference at all to the word socialism’ because clearly in the philosophy of the Australian Labor Party, for which they would make no apologies-
– Order! I would suggest to the honourable gentleman that if he confined his remarks to the amendment, we would get on a lot further with the Bill.
- Mr Chairman, the terms of clause 5 enabling the Corporation to form a company in its own right are not irrelevant to the general points that I am seeking to take. The amendment that is proposed by the Opposition Parties is central. Without it, the Parliament would be permitting the initiation of a series of State-controlled enterprises, the type of which we believe are completely foreign to the free enterprise philosophy which is now and I hope will continue to be the- very backbone of our national economy. The Government’s proposal clearly is designed to take the AIDC away from its original concept as a development financier and as an instrument designed to assist private enterprise. I would ask the Minister for Overseas Trade to respond to both of these points. I hope he does not see them as being put purely for political purposes. They are areas of concern and the Committee provides an opportunity for the Minister to respond and clarify the position as he sees it.
– I do not want to take up too much time but, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) said, 2 points are significant in respect of his amendment. The first is a widening of the operational scope of the Australian Industry Development Corporation. Previously, it was fairly narrowly limited to development of resources, and clause 5 widens its scope. It refers to manufacture, processing, treatment, transportation or distribution of goods, or the development or use of natural resources. This is a reflection of the view of the Government that development is not merely digging holes in the ground and getting the stuff out. Development, as we have found in the Pilbara region, includes the building of an infrastructure. There are such things as railway lines in the Pilbara area; there are machines that carry iron ore for long distances; there is the building of ports; there is the shipping of the stuff away.
– What about motor cars?
– Well, I am saying what I have in mind and what the Government has in mind.
– Do you have in mind the building of a Government motor car?
– No, I do not have that in mind; I am not thinking of motor cars. I am thinking of railways, of the machines that are used to transport material on the ground, and of ships. These are areas in which I would expect the Opposition too to be interested in increasing the Australian component that is involved in it, in being able to provide through the AIDC a way of building the infrastructure of a place like the Pilbara region, which has caused difficulties for the companies operating there and for the Western Australian Government. So, there is a strong reason why transportation for development projects of that kind should be included. It would be a great advantage if the AIDC, raising money effectively in Australia, could direct it into those regions.
The other part of the Bill to which the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition relates is the section of clause 5 that gives the AIDC power to form a company. Frankly I had nothing whatever to do with this amendment. It has come from AIDC because the Corporation has found, in the conduct of its operations under the old Act investing in companies, that the time has arrived when, in order properly to safeguard and look after its interests it has faced problems which required it to have these powers. This is something that has come up in the normal commercial operations of AIDC. The amendment is not part of my thinking. It is before the House because the AIDC Board and Sir Alan Westerman believe that to do their job properly they need these powers.
– Of course they want to extend the sphere of their own operations. I can understand that.
– If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were in the same position as Sir Alan Westerman, if he were conducting a business of his own and if he found that in the interest of his business he needed to be able to do these things, he also would seek an extension of his powers. The AIDC is a public corporation that we have a right to protect, and we have a right to give it the type of powers that it believes it properly needs in order to conduct its affairs properly. That is why this proposal is before us. It has nothing to do with socialism. I do not know whether the Chairman would want me to relate to that. Anything in the nature of socialism would take place under the section relating to the national interest. There would be no proper use of the part of the AIDC in which the Board exercises its judgment on commercial grounds for any socialist purpose. The members of the Board are people such as Sir Colin Syme and Sir Charles McGrath, who is better known to the Liberal Party than he is to me. I am satisfied with the way .in which those people have done their job. As far as I am concerned, it will be those kinds of people, and others as well, who will be on the Board of AIDC. They are the kind of people whom we will reappoint when the time comes.
The Government is not concerned to use that part of AIDC for anything that the Opposition would describe as socialist. I think it is time that we had some things in Australia that the Opposition would call socialist. I think the great majority of the Australian people would be much happier if we had a public interest in the great national resources of this country; if we had a public interest in uranium and the eventual setting up of- - The CHAIRMAN - I ask the Minister to come back to the clause, otherwise he will be opening the matter much wider.
– I know that we are restricted very often, as the Opposition is restricted, because of the time available and the proper procedures of this House. I do not feel annoyed because I could have predicted yesterday almost word for word exactly what members of the Opposition, including the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) would have said. Everything was predictable. But it is a bit disappointing when one looks at the situation in that way. I give the Government’s assurance that nothing that the Opposition would describe as socialistic will be done by the National Interest Division, and that we will not misuse the AIDC for something that it was not intended to do in any other respect.
– This is a clause that the Opposition regards as fundamental to its opposition to the total Bill. If one cares to read the original Act, the Australian Industry Development Corporation Act, one will see that in section 6 the functions of the Corporation are limited to a very severe extent. The Corporation is designed to assist in the provision of financial resources required by Australian companies in order to promote certain objectives, namely, to secure an improvement in the balance of Australia’s exter nal trading operations. This provision is no longer required as the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) must know, and as the officials advising him must know. Secondly, the Corporation is required to promote trade and commerce between Australia and places outside Australia, and to promote trade and commerce among the States, between the States and Territories and within the Territories. But when one looks at the provisions of the new Bill one sees that there is very little that cannot be done under proposed new section 6. The functions are now to include a requirement - if the Bill ever becomes law - to facilitate and encourage the establishment, development and advancement of Australian industries concerned with the manufacture, processing, treatment, transportation or distribution of goods, or the development or use of natural resources. The clause covering those functions goes on to provide that without limiting the generality of the preceding provision, the functions of the Corporation may be performed in the capacity of and to the extent that they are appropriate to be performed by, a trading or financial corporation and so on. But it must also be interpreted in connection with the proposed amendment to Section 7 that gives other powers, for example, to raise money otherwise than by borrowing, to get into the money market - the bill market. Sub-clause (ca) allows the Corporation to carry on any business or activity - I add the word ‘whatsoever’ to make the purposes of the function abundantly clear.
As I have said, this clause completely transforms the concept of the original Act and it gives the opportunity for any future government, if the provisions remain, to nationalise or to socialise or to acquire, if you like, any part of the Australian resources by its agency. It is of no use bandying words. We have the illustration of the north west shelf and the Burmah incident in which the hydro-carbons are in fact to be acquired at the well-head, and all downstream operations are to be carried out under the control of the Commonwealth. No one can look at the granting of new powers unless he looks at them in the context of past experience and realises what the Government is capable of doing. We could easily take the word of the Minister, but the Minister’s word cannot be accepted as the deciding factor. He will know that he gave an assurance that we would be given unlimited time to debate this Bill in the Committee stage. My people took the attitude that he would be overruled by the
Leader of the House (Mr Daly), and he was. I explained this position to him. So there is the ground on which we object. I take it a step further. The original Bill, with opposition from the Reserve Bank and from the Treasury, was in fact drafted under the directorship and supervision of Sir Alan Westerman. The Minister has said that the Government did not want the new powers. Sir Alan, of course, would want to get a vast addition of functions to his own organisation. Is there anyone knowing that we are dealing with human beings and knowing the way that this man acts in life, who would deny the fact that he would want to do this. That is understandable, and I say that without any degree of personal criticism. Understandably he would want to do this. But we do not believe that we should put into the hands of one man, one organisation or one government the powers that are comprised within this clause of the new Bill which could do great harm to the Australian people.
I know from my own personal experience - I happened to be Treasurer at the time - that both the Reserve Bank and the Treasury bitterly opposed the original concept. If they did that then and if they had a right to ia free expression of opinion would they not be able to make an objection on this occasion too? For that reason I put this to the Minister because it is obvious that he is not as interested in this as are Sir Alan Westerman and the AIDC. I believe that this is one clause that should be looked at very carefully because from what the Minister has said to us the clause does not carry out his intention to prevent the nationalisation of any Australian industry.
Sitting suspended from 4.45 to 8 p.m.
– I realise that time is the essence in this debate and I will not take very long. Both the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) have advocated that we should return to the status quo. In a very few words I want to say how sorry I am that consideration of this Bill during the Committee stage will not take a long time. I must confess that there has been a breakdown in communications relating to the second reading speech on this Bill. It was sincerely hoped on the Government side of this Parliament that there would be a meeting of the minds across the table at the Committee stage of this Bill. To that effect the services of the officers of the Department of Secondary Industry and the Australian Industry Development Corporation were offered. It came as a surprise to me that the Bill was brought on for debate so soon, because as Chairman of the Caucus Economic Committee I learned of the offer of the officers only at the same time as the Opposition did. I am still hopeful that when this Bill comes back into this House after a time in the Senate, if other arrangements cannot be made on this occasion, we can have a good detailed study of it.
I want to say sincerely something which I think could be said to come within the ambit of this clause, because this clause is the essence of the proposed changes. I believed, and many have believed, that the changes advocated by the Government were in line with the thinking of the previous Government. The right honourable member for Lowe nods his head. The changes arose out of the fact that the purposes of the Bill were defined by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in his speech during the second reading debate, and have been mentioned by the right honourable member for Lowe. They were to preserve Australian control over the mining and manufacturing industries as well as providing development finance in situations where existing financial institutions were not able to provide that finance. The second of those purposes of the Bill has been covered by the Bill. But, in the light of experience, I think that the first of them has not been covered, and that is the reason for these changes in the functions of the Australian Industry Development Corporation, that is the reason for the widening of its functions.
– You will accept the fact that the Minister himself said that this was not the Government’s will; this was the will of Sir Alan Westerman and his Board. The Labor Party did not want it.
– I do not accept that. I think that is a misunderstanding at which the right honourable gentleman has arrived. Certainly the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) who sits at the table mentioned and quoted from the speech of Sir Alan Westerman when he was delivering his speech during the second reading debate. But that is not what has motivated the Government in this matter. In the light of experience we have found that the takeover of Australian industries is not prevented unless we can find within Australia the investment funds to take the place of overseas funds. The functions of the Australian Industry Development Corporation, both in our view and in the view of many men, if I may say so, who are the political colleagues of the 2 gentlemen at the table opposite, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the right honourable member for Lowe, need to be widened to do this, and that is precisely what these clauses in this Bill do. I draw to the attention of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the right honourable member for Lowe to clause 5. (a) (ii) which reads: engaging or participating in enterprises or developmental projects in relation to any such industries or activities’,
This is in order to allow the AIDC itself to enter into joint ventures with other organisations in order to achieve the same purpose that the right honourable member for Lowe when he was Prime Minister of this country set out to achieve. It is in the light of experience that we have arrived at these conclusions and that any men of different political persuasions have arrived at these conclusions. I promised that I would not take one minute more than I had to in order to allow more ground to be covered and I am going to rest on those comments.
– The question is: That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause. Those in favour say aye, to the contrary no.
– We do not require a division. Question resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived. Motion (by Mr Lynch) proposed:
Omit proposed sub-section (4), substitute the following sub-section: - “ ‘(4) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the functions of the Corporation may be performed for the purpose of assisting Australian companies, being trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of Australia, in their trading or financial operations, and subsection (3) does not restrict the performance by the Corporation of its functions in accordance with this sub-section.’.”.
– The question is: That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause. Those in favour say aye, to the contrary no.
– We do not require a division. Question resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clause 6.
Section 7 of the Principal Act is amended -
– I move:
– But you will think about the text of it?
– The Government will always think about these things because, obviously, the ultimate decision will be made in another place. We both realise that.
– I think that you should do some hard thinking, period.
– There is a fundamental difference of opinion between the Opposition and the Government on this point. At the risk of yielding to the provocation put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) one has to seize on this difference and explain what accounts for it. The Opposition would have the Australian Industry Development Corporation emasculated. It is in a pygmy-like state at the moment, unfortunately so-
– With $500m of assets?
– It has been described by other people, better advocates than I, in this regard. As Sir Alan Westerman himself said - I quoted his remarks on this very topic before the suspension of the sitting - the present restrictions on AIDC prevent that Corporation fulfilling the natural purpose for which it is obviously, almost by nature, designed to perform.
– Nonsense. It was never devised for this purpose.
– This is where we come back to the difference of opinion. The Government sees AIDC as serving a useful purpose in the community. The Opposition sees it as serving no useful purpose at all. The Government sees it as an aid to industry; Australian Industry Development Corporation - the very name suggests that. The Opposition sees it as being emasculated, destroyed, cut down, restricted. I cite the Opposition’s very words: ‘It will be another development financier if this is allowed to go through*. What is wrong with that? It will be a development financier accountable to the Australian public.
– Nonsense. You do not give it the opportunity. That is the criticism.
– It was said that it will be able to obtain equity finance by forming a company in its own right. What is wrong with that? These are serious matters to think about. I repeat that the Government sees an enlarged, more exciting, more beneficial role for AIDC, beneficial to the Australian community than does the Opposition which would like to emasculate it.
– I have already stated my views as to why the Opposition wants to divide on clause 6. It is clearly related to clause 5, which provides for the functions of the organisation, that is, what it can do. Clause 6 is a supporting clause which deals with the powers of the Corporation to achieve its functions. The powers permit the AIDC to raise money otherwise than by borrowing - ‘to draw, make, accept, indorse and discount bills of exchange and promissory notes; to form, or participate in the formation of, a company; to carry on any business or activity’. Earlier I added the word ‘whatsoever’. We believe that these confer on an agency of the Government the power to socialise any industry it wants to. Therefore, we ask for the opportunity to divide on this clause of the Bill.
– This is one of the supreme examples of how, if the Opposition had shown a little more sense in the second reading debate, and had arrived at an opportunity to utilise the services of the officers of the Department of Secondary Industry and the Australian Industry Development Corporation to learn a little more about these things, we would not have had before us this very stupid amendment. The fact is that already these functions are being carried out.
- (Mr SchoIes)-Order The time allotted for the Committee stage has expired.
Question put -
That the clause proposed to be omitted (Mr Lynch’s amendment) stand part of the Bill,
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes) Ayes .. .. ..57
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Government amendments -
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes) Ayes . . . . . . 57
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr Enderby) put: The the Bill be now read a third time. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-Order! I did not notice where the honourable gentleman was sitting but I will take his word. What is the position?
– Mr Speaker, I was sitting in my place until the counting was completed.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 16 October (vide page 2222).
Department of Education
Proposed expenditure, 8145,351,000.
– When the consideration of the estimates for the Department of Education was adjourned last night I was pointing out that there has been an unprecedented increase in the flow of money into the nation’s schools, both government and non-government, and indicating that the estimated expenditure in the government school sector during the next 2 years will be $495m - a twelvefold increase. To this can be added the sum of $188m that is to be spent on the training of teachers, which is $103m more than was recommended in the report of the Special Committee on Teacher Education - the Cohen Committee - should be spent by the Commonwealth Government. In relation to grants to non-government schools again we note that the amount of money proposed to be spent by the new Government represents a great increase on that spent in the previous 2 years. In 1971-72 the previous Government spent $7 1.5m on non-government schools. The present Government proposes to spend $195m - almost a threefold increase.
I do not believe that figures listing expenditure tell anything like the full story. What I believe to be important are the values and the philosophy that underpin the report of the Interim Committee of the Australian Schools Commission - the Karmel Committee - and in fact determines where the money is going to be spent. The sorts of values that come out of that report which we as a Government regard as important are as follows: Firstly, we believe that there should be an education of equality for all students. We believe in equality of opportunity. We differ from the Opposition in that it appears to believe, from what was said last night by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), in excellence through elitism whereas we believe in excellence through equality of opportunity. We believe that the individual differences of children must be recognised. We believe in the need to develop the total personality of the child. As I have suggested, those are the values that have determined into which areas money should flow. Those values explain why the rate of increase in fund allocation has been greatest in the government school area. Those values explain why in the non-government sector it is the Catholic schools, particularly the parish schools, which are to get the greatest assistance - not because they are Catholic but because their need is greatest. That explains why initiatives are being taken in new areas, such as in relation to the pupils of parents who live in especially disadvantaged neighbourhoods, to whom an extra $50m is to be allocated, and the pupils who are handicapped, whether physically or mentally. One could continue. There is to be a great increase in expenditure on the education of Aborigines, migrant children and isolated children.
I believe that there is ample evidence from the money that has been allocated of the importance which we as a government place on diversity and innovation. I think that can be seen from the money that has been allocated for curriculum and more general educational development. It is my personal hope that great encouragement will be given to schools where innovation is carried out and schools where experimentation is carried out. This comes to mind, for example, in regard to the Australian Capital Territory where the schools without walls movement has been established. I think also of schools such as Swinburne Community School in Melbourne and other schools such as these in which new paths are being blazed in the educational field. It is my hope that the Government will increase expenditure in that area. I think it is encouraging to see the greatly increased amount of money being appropriated for school libraries.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Crean) stressed that education is a top priority. The Budget provides in this current financial year for a total expenditure of $843m, which in fact is a fairly substantial increase over the actual expenditure of the previous financial year. I believe, however, that it is misleading for the Government to claim, as it has done, that it is increasing spending on education this year by $404m or 92 per cent over that of last year. Of this $404m approximately $145m simply represents the money that the Commonwealth
Government is taking back from the States in order to establish as from 1 January 1974 financial control of all universities from Canberra. So really this sum is being transferred from the States to the Commonwealth ‘and cannot be correctly described, in my view, as an increased Budget allocation. Another $90m of the total funds to be set aside for education is for the purpose of continuing the tertiary education programs adopted by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government. A substantial part of the proposed increases relates to various aspects of education contained in the 1972 policy speech of the previous Prime Minister and has been adopted by the present Government. We have no quarrel with this nor have I, at any rate, any quarrel with the total Budget allocation for education in the current financial year or with the proposed further expenditure in 1974-75 as the various programs due to commence in 1974 come fully into operation.
Education is, I agree, an area of high priority. I support the proposed increases in allowances available under existing scholarship schemes. I support the proposed increases in the Government post-graduate award scheme and the provision of some additional awards. Also I am in favour of the proposed increase of $10m in the unmatched capital grant for the building and equipment costs of technical schools and colleges. The proposed grant for 1973-74 of $2m for emergency supplementary classroom accommodation in state and nongovernment schools to facilitate special instruction of migrant children is, I believe, a very worthwhile move. So too is the provision of special grants to New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria to assist in the training of additional social workers in universities in those States.
The Government’s expressed plan to improve the quality of education in Australia has been touched on already in this debate by the previous speaker, the honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow), and by other speakers. I agree entirely with this plan. The Government’s plan to improve the quality of education - something of great importance - will, I believe, be watched very closely and with very great interest. In his statement to the House on 23 August last the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) amplified the Government’s proposals in the overall field of education at its various levels. Particularly pleasing, I feel, are the proposals for assisting special groups such as Aborigines, migrant children, soldiers children and isolated children. A total allocation of slightly more than $45m will be made in 1973-74 for these special groups. I am happy about this.
The report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, while containing some good recommendations, is unfortunately most unjust and discriminatory in various respects. The extraordinary categorisation of schools has, as is well known, caused a great deal of dissatisfaction and concern throughout the country. The recommendations were obviously based on hastily acquired information. Schools were not visited by the Committee, and the way in which many schools were categorised caused confusion, resentment and uncertainty, and cut across the basic principle of freedom of choice in relation to the education of all children. Since the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) which we are debating was first introduced, the Minister for Education has informed the Parliament that quite a few appeals have been submitted ‘against the Karmel Committee’s findings and recommendations. Let us hope that these appeals receive the full and fair consideration that they deserve.
The apparent adoption of the staff-pupil ratio as the basis of assessment of needs is clearly arbitrary and unfair, as is the phasing out of aid to category A schools a year earlier than was recommended by the Karmel Committee. The Liberal Party believes that the present system of per capita grants of $62 a year for every primary school pupil throughout Australia, and $104 for every secondary school student in the country, is a fair and proper basis and that these grants should continue as a minimum. Additional funds, I suggest, could be provided for needy schools according to the degree of need. Leading spokesmen for the Labor Party gave election assurances that no school would be worse off under a Labor Government. It is regrettable, to say the least, that these promises are apparently not to be fulfilled.
Recently I came across a most interesting and penetrating article written last May by Mr Ian Lister, Lecturer in Education at the University of York. He writes, basically, of the educational position in England but much of what he says pertains to this country and, indeed, to a number of other countries. Not everyone will agree with what he writes but what he says is forthright and challenging and, I believe, deserves attention. In the remaining time available to me I would like to touch upon two or three of the points he makes. He points to a number of key aspects in education and suggests some remedies. He states:
There is no single, magical solution to the crisis; the simple way does not exist.
I do not think we would query that statement. He questions certain assumptions and trends. He criticises the curriculum developers. He asserts:
For many pupils, school life becomes just one damned work sheet after another.
It is true, I believe, that the pressures and tensions on children and adolescents today are too great and too continuous. The conscientious, hard-working student has all too little time in which to enjoy life, maintain a balanced outlook and widen his or her horizons. Dealing with another major aspect Ian Lister says:
We need … a greater variety of choice both within and between institutions, associated with an establishment of basic law and human rights.
Democratisation and equality are myths, used to hide the gap between promise and performance.
Those are very challenging words but there may be more than a grain of truth in them. He maintains that there should be a redistribution of tasks between school and society. He says:
Parents, in particular, should resume a greater responsibility for the education of their own children.
Most schools in Australia, both government schools and independent schools, do in fact receive valuable assistance from parents and citizens associations, but I believe there is still much room for improvement and for greater community involvement in this respect. Recently I visited the Brisbane Independent Primary School at Kenmore in my electorate, a school which is struggling along with minimum aids to provide for 125 girls and boys a primary education which is wider and more flexible than that provided in the systemic schools. Without an unusual degree of parent participation and support this school, unfairly included in category A by the Karmel Committee, could not have been launched, let alone maintained. I believe that we could do with many more schools like this throughout Australia.
– During the debate on the estimates for the Department of Education last night I had occasion to interject somewhat heatedly during the speech of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). I did so because of his playing down of the present Government’s initiatives over a wide area of education and his concentration on the very narrow range of education encompassed by independent schools.
For the honourable member for Bradfield to accuse us of being barbarians destroying excellence shows him for the crusty old Tory that he is. To discuss independent schools alone is a useless exercise. One would think from his demeanour that honourable members on this side of the chamber had no knowledge of independent schools at all. I, like many of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, did in fact attend an independent school and do know something of what they provide and how they operate. We acknowledge that some of those schools have acted as experimental crucibles in the teaching and educational process. We also acknowledge that many parents make sacrifices for their children to attend those schools because of the deplorable state into which Liberal governments at both State and Federal levels have allowed government schools to fall. One could have more sympathy if perhaps admissions to these schools was not only confined to the children of past pupils or to those able to win scholarships to them. I think that if they are to operate in an experimental way perhaps they should seek out the excellent from the community and admit them to their educational experimentation. Under those circumstances perhaps they would need to be given more consideration.
However, what depressed me was this accusation of destroying excellence when the honourable member for Bradfield throughout his long career in the New South Wales State Parliament and in this Parliament has not made one speech suggesting that there should be a constructive effort for excellence in Government and other schools apart from independent schools. The same honourable member showed satisfaction with mediocrity for those schools. He came back into the chamber last night when the honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow) was speaking and said he was coming back to listen to ‘envy, hatred, and malice’ - an expression unworthy of the honourable member for Bradfield. He accused the honourable member for Holt who is a former school teacher of striking often.
The honourable member for Bradfield may like to have a look at the mediocrity in some of the schools in the larger States. He who gets up in this place on matters affecting the
Parliament and complains about the conditions under which members of Parliament are forced to work in their office accommodation should go to the staff rooms of the majority of the high schools in Victoria where, at miniscule desks, on hard seats, sitting cheek by jowl, the full staff of high schools have to try to do their preparation work for classes, mark class material and do all the necessary operations if they are to be able to carry out their proper duties. That is the sort of mediocrity with which the honourable member for Bradfield is satisfied and has done nothing about.
The things that were not accentuated were the wide initiatives. In the document entitled Payments to or for the States 1973-74* presented by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) one only has to look at the statement on education to understand my point. That statement reads:
In 1973 fundamental changes were announced in the arrangements for the provision of assistance for education.
First, full responsibility for financing tertiary education will be transferred to the Australian Government from the beginning of 1974.
The taking over by the Commonwealth of the cost of tertiary education will mean that there will be additional finance available to the States to provide for primary, secondary and technical education. The Australian Government has set up the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, the Australian Preschools Committee and the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education. These committees will in many instances have reported already. The Opposition is being obstructive in preventing the efforts of those committees to come to fruition.
I now want to refer to the Estimates for the Department of Education. I refer to division 200.3.- Other Services- items 08, 09, and 10. which is to be found on page 31 of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-74. The notes about them are to be found on pages 40, 41 and 42 of the explanatory notes that have been provided. They deal with support for training of school librarians, secondary school library program, research and investigation and research and development in education. I refer to this item in order to direct attention to one of the failings in the high schools of today. To illustrate my point I ask leave to have incorporated in Hansard 2 tables which set out the reading range of students in form 3, and form 4 in one of the local high schools in my electorate. I have already asked the permission of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in respect of this matter.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock) - There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
– I thank the Committee. I invite honourable members to study carefully these tables setting out the reading range of students. They indicate just what has happened in our educational system. In form 3, which includes 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 3E, there are 164 children. More than 49 per cent of those children had less than the reading average for that form. The reading ability of over 50 per cent of them was poorer than for the age range in that form. In form 3 there was even one child - this is form 3 in a secondary school - who was classified as having no reading range at all.
– Poor conditions.
– It reflects poor conditions brought about by 15 years of Liberal Party rule in the State of Victoria and complete neglect of the education system and the lack of backing up by the Federal Government in supplying finance for government schools. I suggest that an examination of the schools in the electorate of the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) would show the same conditions. If he can be satisfied that 25 children out of 160 in form 3, who would be roughly in the 14 to 15 year age group, have a reading range of 10 - and there are many others in this way - it is a pretty poor state of affairs. I am not going into the details of those tables. I invite honourable members to have a look at them and consider how many schools suffer this disability themselves. That is why I have mentioned those items dealing with libraries and so on. I referred earlier to the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. That Committee endorses the view that the provision of libraries, particularly when they are multimedia centres, is an important means of improving the quality of the total school program. The use of such centres is not confined to the study of particular subjects, but facilitates the growth of patterns of learning in all subjects which are responsive to each pupil’s level of development and to his individual interests. The existence of a variety of sources of information enables teachers to pass a desirable degree of initiative over to students; if combined with effective teaching, this encourages the development of skills necessary for independent learning. 1 do think that in the estimates for the Department of Education there lies some hope for the future of our children” in these schools by overcoming these difficulties that are forced on them of not having adequate facilities and adequate training to be brought up to the ordinary reading range that would be suggested at their levels. Without that sort of ability how can they hope for an excellence in education? They are condemned to mediocrity.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Members of the Opposition generally appreciate the increased Government spending on education although we and the Australian public are fully aware that the increased percentage of Government expenditure is largely due to a change in bookkeeping principles as between the Commonwealth and the States. Notwithstanding the increased allocation for education, we of the Australian Country Party take issue with some of the principles decided and programs adopted within the general budgetary allocation for the Department of Education. We submit that the present Government has endeavoured to be superb exponents of the art of manoeuvre, the compromise deal, the clever arrangement that resolves disputes but settles no issues. We submit that the issues have not been solved.
I refer to the principle adopted by the Government which resulted in the categorisation of schools by the Karmel Committee, a categorisation which denies aid to all children on a per capita basis. This change of procedure follows the present Government’s policies in the education arena. I would like to state where I stand on this issue. The previous Government’s policy was a sound one, based on the principle of moral and distributive justice. Every child was treated in the same way and received the same per capita assistance. The amount of this assistance was geared to a percentage - 40 per cent - of the average cost of educating an equivalent child in a government school. It was relatively easy and simple to administer, and took into account the right of every child to basic adequate assistance and the inalienable right of every parent to exercise his inalienable right and responsibility to decide what type of education his child would receive.
The grants rose with inflationary trends and enabled schools to plan ahead without too much worry about spiralling costs. There is one criticism I would like to make and that is that, in charity and not basic justice, extra aid should have been given to the many disadvantaged schools and disadvantaged students. I quite readily admit that the previous Government failed in that regard, but I want to emphasise that this is charity and not justice. I regard it as absolutely imperative, based on moral and distributive justice, that payments should be equal for all children at similar levels of education irrespective of the school they attend and of the financial position of their parents. The establishment of the various categories has many anomalies and needs review and correction. The methods adopted completely by-pass such things as school fees, whether a school was in debt; they took absolutely no regard of boarding fees and special expenses attributable to boarding. The only thing they were concerned with was how much the school would have paid per student for tuition had all the teachers received the same average salary. In other words, the more the school paid for tuition of its pupils, the higher its index, the higher its category and the more it would be penalised. The more teachers, the higher the index; the bigger the classes, the lower the index. What an extraordinary inversion of a cry for more teachers and smaller classes.
I submit that boarding schools are entitled to special consideration. They have special problems and are, in many cases, situated in rural areas where they play a great part in meeting educational requirements. They were established in the days when rural industries were able to pay their own way, but following a succession of droughts, declining world prices and increased costs rural people are having problems in educating their children. We find that these schools do not have the enrolments of the large city schools but they require a headmaster, bursar and so on to look after their enrolments of 200 or 300 just as the same positions are required to look after 1,000 children in the big city schools. In the Downs area we have a large number of boarding schools such as Toowoomba Grammar School, Downlands College, Concordia College, Glennie School, the Church of England Boys School, Fairholme College, St Ursula’s College - all in Toowoomba; the Presbyterian Girls School, Scots College, Slade, St Catherine’s and St Mary’s - all in Warwick. These schools are all caring for children who on most occasions have to attend boarding schools because they live too far away to travel daily to school, although transport is often available.
I pay tribute to the principals, the teachers and staff of these schools for the great contribution they are making to moulding the characters and basic motivation not only of Queensland children but also of children from faraway places, sometimes from overseas. It is amazing to read of big city schools purchasing areas, and in some instances taking over established schools in rural areas for the purpose of establishing other school centres away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. This Government is not doing anything about special help for schools away from the metropolitan areas, which schools face extra costs associated with distance, small numbers and specialised courses to fit people for specialised rural careers. It must be borne in mind that these schools contribute in no small way to the economy of their various areas. This Government appears to be ignoring completely the concept of decentralisation in its basic educational philosophy and aims.
Before leaving this item, I make a plea to the Government not to terminate abruptly the aid to those schools in the higher Karmel categories, but - without agreeing to their philosophies and without prejudice, at least - if it must be so that no aid is to be given to them, at least it should be phased out gradually over a period of 2 years, as was recommended in the Karmel Committee’s report, which recommendation was not accepted by Cabinet. I repeat and emphasise that this policy of the Labor Government is unjust and is not based on moral and distributive justice.
I am heartened to note the increased sum that is being given for the purposes of training librarians. Horizons are broadened through books and we must do everything possible to encourage an insatiable thirst for knowledge through good books. It is pleasing to note the amount that is detailed in division 200 subdivision 3 of the Estimates. But at this stage I would also make a very special plea for extra grants for library books for external study centres of the university such as we have in Toowoomba where, through the generosity of the Boyce family and a group of supporters, a substantial external centre of the Queensland University will be established. We need extra books for colleges of advanced education away from the metropolitan areas. Universities and colleges of advanced education in metropolitan areas have ready access to books from each other, but colleges and centres of learning in rural areas are not so conveniently situated as to have available the exchange of books, technical publications and textbooks. Often they have to wait many days while the books arrive through the post or by other means of transport.
The appropriation of $200,000 in division 200 subdivision 3 under the heading ‘Teaching of Asian Languages and Cultures in Schools’ appears to me to be rather insufficient, as does also the allowance for SPELD Associations and the Nuffield Foundation. Following recent emphasis and changes in foreign policy and trading arrangements, we will have much contact with the Asian sub-continent. As my colleague the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) knows, it is essential when dealing with these nations to have a knowledge of their culture and the workings of their minds in order to communicate properly with them. In Toowoomba the officers of the Darling Downs College of Advanced Education have been to the forefront in moves to establish a lectureship in Asian languages by the beginning of the 1974 academic year. The State Commission in Queensland has sent a submission to the Australian College of Advanced Education making application for 3 Chairs in Queensland, including Toowoomba and Gatton. On their behalf I request from the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) a reply as to whether plans can be made for the lectures to commence early next year. No decision has been made, and this is causing some concern. As I said initially, Asian languages will be essential for people associating in trade matters with people from the Asian sub-continent. The people concerned are to be congratulated on their initiative in putting before the authorities a proposal to establish a lectureship in Asian languages, but their efforts are being frustrated by the inability to get a decision from the Government authorities.
The final point on which I would like to comment is that in Toowoomba, through the generosity of the local people and of the Apex Club in particular, moves have been made to create a lectureship in specific learning difficulties at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education. I was perturbed to find that the allocation under the Estimates to the Australian Council of SPELD Associations in the Budget Estimates was rather miserable. It certainly is giving no encouragement to these people to go out and raise sufficient sums of money to get this lectureship off the ground. This is an area of education which is of great concern to the people involved.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I have been amazed that the Opposition has found so little to criticise in our educational program. It is fastening on to the fact that the socalled A category schools are to be deprived of support either at the beginning of next year or possibly the year after. The decision on that matter has not yet been finally made. But supposing that these so-called A category schools, of which there will be about 70 over the whole of Australia, were deprived of Commonwealth support simply because they have already achieved a standard which we hope that all other schools, government and private, will reach by 1979. What the Opposition conveniently forgets is that even the parents of students attending A category schools will still be able to get the taxation concessions they have always got despite all the propaganda to the contrary. It will still be true for at least a while yet. There was never any protest in the past about the fact that most of the senior secondary scholarships - 25,000 last year, tenable this year - went to children in the higher socio-economic bracket and that as a consequence of that most of those who go on to tertiary education come from that socio-economic group.
No notice is taken of the fact that as from the beginning of next year all of these privileged people, amongst, I hope, many others, will be able to go to a university, to a college of advanced education, or to a technical college full time and have all their fees paid by the Commonwealth of Australia. The Commonwealth is taking over complete financial responsibility for each of these institutions, and all full time students attending those institutions will receive their education free. Under our liberalised means test many of them will also receive a living allowance increased somewhat above what has been provided in the past. Amongst all the documents that pour onto my desk each day I noticed yet another one yesterday titled ‘Teacher Education 1973-75’. It is the report of the Special Committee on Teacher Education. I will be fair enough to acknowledge that in the dying days of the last Government the Australian Commission for Colleges of Advanced Education was asked to set up a special committee to inquire into teacher education. All I can say is that it should have been done about 10 years ago. Anyhow, it was set up and it has now brought forward a report. If we accept it, it will commit the Australian Government to spend over the next 2 or 3 years a tremendous amount of money. As a matter of fact the report indicates that if we accept the recommendations as reported in table 7 on page 58 of that report the total commitment will be 5206,649,000, of which, on a matching grant basis as operated under the previous Government, the Commonwealth will have to supply $83,943,500. In fact it is quite likely that the Commonwealth will be accepting a much bigger liability than even that which that report recommended.
I turn, though, to another aspect of education that hardly gets a mention in many of these debates. I made some reference to it in my speech the other day on the second reading of the Schools Commission Bill which promises over $600m to be spent by the Commonwealth in 1974-75. All this has been conveniently forgotten in the petty criticism by the Opposition. I made brief reference to the state of technical education. Of course I am glad to note that under this Government we have set up a committee of inquiry into technical education, and that committee is expected to bring down a report that will lead to implementation of recommendations as from July of next year. The simple fact is that the previous Government did so little. Unfortunately at this stage I cannot reveal the information given to me as a member of the Public Accounts Committee about what went wrong with previous allocations for technical education by our predecessors. But the simple fact is that we are very short of technicians and tradesmen today simply because there was inadequate support for technical education in the past. Furthermore, the recession we had in 1970-71 also led to the curtailment of apprenticeships, and as a result it is no wonder the people in the community today are finding it so hard to obtain tradesmen, even in many cases at grossly inflated prices, whether they be television technicians, bricklayers, plasterers or tradesmen in any of the building trades or the engineering trades. In every one of these fields our progress has been retarded because of the unavailability of skilled labour. An article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 30 March of this year stated in part:
Total apprentice intake in Victoria has been declining for some time and in 1971-72 reached a low (in all trades) of 7.SO0. This compares with 11,000 boys who applied for apprenticeships during the year and a projected actual need of 15,000 new apprentices.
In other words only half the number of apprenticeships were taken up as the community estimated was desirable in the State of Victoria alone. Not only do we need to give much more encouragement to technical education to the apprenticeship system in particular, to the technician level of training and to the technologist level of training, but we also ought to be doing something about teacher education in the Department of Technical Education in New South Wales and in sections of the departments of general education in the other States of Australia. I only need quote from the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts on the Commonwealth’s role in Teacher Education of February 1972. This is what is said by way of introduction to the chapter on the training of technical teachers:
The economic standard and quality of life in Australia will in future depend to an increasing degree upon the standard of education provided for the skilled work force. If high quality education is to be provided in technical training, institutions must be both highly qualified in their specialist fields and adequately equipped for their teaching role.
So it goes on. Time would not allow me to go on and quote all of the things that were said. I wonder how many members in this House or how many people in the community recognise that there are more students involved in technical education in this country than there are in all other levels of post-secondary education - and that takes in the universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges and all the rest of them. There are in Australia over 400,000 students involved in technical education. From my observation, especially under the previous Government, technical education was the poor relation, the Cinderella, and that applied under State systems of education as well as under the Commonwealth. One would have thought that a Liberal-Country Party Government so intimately interested in the material development and allegedy so interested in the economic development of the community would have seen to it that technical education got a fair go. Unfortunately I note that even the latest report on teacher education does not seem to take up the recommendation of the report of the Senate Committee to which I referred a while ago - the recommendation that every State should have at least one technical teachers college. In New South Wales the technical teachers college is only part of the Sydney Teachers College, and a pretty derelict place it is. Victoria alone in all these years is the only State that has received a Commonwealth grant for the building of a technical teachers college. That was in the suburb of Hawthorn, I think in 1967. I make a strong plea that if we are talking about productivity, if we are talking about uplifting the economy of this country, we ought to give greater attention to this vital sector of education - technical education.
– The honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow), who spoke in this debate last night and again tonight, made much of the amount of money appropriated in the Budget for education. He spoke of it as if it were the most important thing in the world but money is not the most important ingredient. Certainly it is very important, but planning, dedication and interest of teachers and parent participation are just as important, to my mind. There is no doubt that there has been an earnest endeavour by the Government to improve the standard of education in Australia. Of that there can be no doubt, especially if the spending of money is the criterion. One cannot quarrel with a government that is earnestly endeavouring to improve education. To criticise that would be like criticising Australian Rules football in Melbourne.
What worries me is that the emphasis in education expenditure in the Budget is placed on tertiary and post-secondary education. One cannot really argue by drawing a comparison and saying that primary and secondary education are being disadvantaged alongside tertiary education, but I believe that primary education is the most disadvantaged area within our educational system. I would have liked more emphasis to be placed in the Budget on primary school expenditure. I believe that there is something completely wrong with the whole educational field. Naturally within the time allotted to me I can deal with only one aspect of the problems I see. What I am about to say is not intended to reflect on the Government. It is rather an observation on the system today and I am pleased to see that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is in the chamber tonight to hear what I have to say.
Let us have a look at a typical school in a rural area. I know that there are similar schools in city areas but the school of which
I will speak is well known to me. Student numbers there have been reasonably static over the last few years, yet the classrooms are inadequate and have not been improved. Six demountable rooms have been used there for a number of years. I will read to the Committee a letter I received from a young teacher enjoying her first year in the country. She wrote:
There are 2 grade one classes at Mount Barker primary school. I have 41 children in my class and there are 42 in the other. Most of my class had no kindergarten. Most of them have birthdays between July and December.
That means that they start school at about 5£ years of age. She went on:
Up to 10 of them should not have started school till next year because they aTe not ready for it.
I remind honourable members that in the rural area concerned the children have no opportunity for kindergarten experience. I gather from the teacher’s comment that she means she must button up the shirts and tie up the shoe laces of the children. Referring to the 2 first grade teachers she went on:
We have both asked the Superintendent (through our headmaster) for another teacher to take a mixed grade one and grade two class. The grade two classes are also large. We were told we could not have another teacher because we had no spaTe classroom. As it is we have 6 demountables in use at the moment and they, have been used for a number of years. Surely grade one is one of the most important years of a child’s schooling. How can we teach them to read when our rooms are overcrowded and we have hardly any equipment?
– The teacher needs a lesson in civics. She should have sent that letter to her State member.
– I appreciate that it is more a State matter than a Federal matter but ‘I want to put to the House the situation as it is. I can assure the Minister that it is a cry from the heart of a young idealistic teacher on behalf of her pupils. The story is the same throughout the school. By the time the children reach fifth grade with 2 years still to go, naturally conditions have not improved. Thirty-five pupils are in a small demountable room with a frustrated teacher. When he puts the day’s maths on the blackboard, that is it. There is no room for anything else on the blackboard. As I have said, these cramped conditions prevail throughout the school. The main frustration of the teacher lies in his inability to teach as he would like to teach, as teaching should be conducted.
By the time the pupils reach fifth grade at least one-third of them require special attention to bring them up to normal standard. They are not slow learners who may qualify for the very limited special class at the school. They are children who through the previous grades have just missed the boat. Starting right back at grade one the system has passed them by. I believe that there is no way in the world that they can catch up. The teacher just has not the time, despite his best efforts on behalf of the children. I have a son in the fifth grade at the Mount Barker primary school. His teacher is a personal friend of mine and despite his best endeavours and the love, consideration and time that his mother has given him he is in the bottom third of the class. The problem goes further than the educational system passing by the bottom third. The top third are quite capable of learning and absorbing far more knowledge than they are being fed through the present system. It comes about for the very same reason as applies to the bottom third - lack of proper conditions, equipment, teaching aids, rooms and so on. The teacher must stand by in the role of a hopeless bystander observing the squandering of young talent.
It follows that one-third of the students who arrive at high school do not have the faintest chance of grappling with the system. From these youngsters come the dissenters and trouble makers. Who can really blame them? They are just waiting out their time until they can join the labour force, and perhaps the lower echelon of it. The Government’s basic claim is for equality of education for all. To my mind the equality should start right down at grade one. I do not suggest that all children should be educated, no matter what, to university standard, but some of the third I have mentioned leave school with not more than the very basic skills of reading and writing. I suggest that for job opportunity and enjoyment of life a basic sound education should be every person’s right. To achieve that end far more emphasis will have to be placed on primary schools than is the case today, perhaps at the expense of the tertiary level of education.
I would like to make a great number of suggestions regarding the problems of education but the most important that 1 would mention is planning. Obviously in the case of the school I have detailed the main problem is space and classrooms which will result in good teachers. A modern cluster unit would be ideal, but what is the Education Department building right at this moment? It is building a library, despite the fact that there is an adequate library at the school already. It is the same old story. Local teachers, the headmaster and the Parents and Citizens Association were not asked about the school’s greatest need - whether it was a library or new school rooms. The answer would have been obvious to the question: ‘Do you want a library?’ The school may as well have a library as nothing. That is the obvious answer. I have pointed to the greatest area of need in the educational system as I see it. I hope in 12 months time to see the greatest improvement in that area since the taxpayer is required to pay for the massive increase in educational expenditure by the Government. If the schools, particularly in country areas, improve to an acceptable standard, the expenditure will not have been wasted as many people fear it will. But let me assure the Committee that in 12 months time I shall report to the Parliament just what has been the improvement or otherwise in primary schools.
– At the outset I should like to congratulate the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) who has just made a most humane and sensitive speech on education - a speech of the kind we are not accustomed to hearing from the benches that his Party occupies. It reminded me strongly of speeches that I heard from members who are now in government, over a period of years when they pleaded with the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the then Minister for Education and Science, to take account of what was happening in schools across Australia, other than those elite and fortunate schools from which he sprang and to which he, and his colleagues, customarily send their children. There was a good deal of the resonance of that honourable gentleman’s attitude in the speech that was made a little earlier this evening by your colleague, Mr Lucock, the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh), who expressed great satisfaction with the approach to education of the previous Government when he said that every child was treated the same way and that that made the system relatively easy and simple to administer. He paid some recognition - as I think he would not have done a few years ago - to the fact that such things as disadvantaged schools and disadvantaged children exist in our community. But he went on to say that if additional assistance over and above per capita grants were given to such schools and such children it would be charity and not justice. I thought that, too, had a strong resonance of the attitudes which we used to hear so frequently from the honourable member for Wannon, as Minister for Education and Science. I used to think that the attitudes of Opposition members were activated by malice. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that the cause is much more likely to be ignorance. Few members of the Opposition have had any direct contact with government schools or any first hand experience of what occurs in those schools.
A week or so ago, the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) indicated that he had been educated by a government correspondence school at one stage in his career. He seemed to feel that that qualified him, by way of first hand experience, with the system. The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) tonight produced a remarkable explanation for the difficulties to which the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) referred - the low rate of reading competence among children in the early years of secondary education. He said that these difficulties were due to poor teachers. I think his phrase was that poor teachers were at the base of the problem. This reminded me of an exchange that took place last night between the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and my colleague, the honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow). The honourable member for Holt, I might say, has had a long and distinguished career in the Victorian Education Department as a secondary school teacher. He is a man who enjoys, in the Victorian secondary teaching service, an unusual and perhaps a unique reputation for the warmth of his relationship with the children he has taught over the years. Yet, the honourable member for Bradfield, having heard the honourable member for Holt say how much he wished that the children he had taught had had the advantages enjoyed by students at those schools now classified in the Karmel Committee report in category A, said:
I want to listen to envy, hatred and malice from the honourable gentleman.
The honourable member for Holt replied:
Yes, envy, hatred and malice from one who spent 25 years as a teacher in government schools.
The honourable member for Bradfield then said:
And one who went on strike often, I suppose?
That seems to me to be a remark as revealing of incomprehension of the conditions in government schools as one made in another era by the honourable gentleman’s mentor, Sir Robert Menzies, who, it will be recalled, referred to the students at government schools as ‘clever pagans’. That again was a remark that resonates with the speeches which we have heard over the years from the honourable member for Wannon.
It seems to make no impact on the consciousness of honourable members opposite that a gross discrepancy exists between the resources available to the schools of which they traditionally and continually have been the champions and the schools at which the great majority of Australian children receive their education. If the Karmel Committee had done no more than to document that discrepancy Australia would be very much in its debt. Once again I draw to the attention of members opposite figures established by the Karmel Committee and published in its report. If the index of resources devoted to the education of a child in a government school is expressed as 100 units, children who attend Catholic parochial schools and Catholic systemic schools have devoted to their education 70 units, and the resource allocation for children at non-government, non-Catholic systemic schools ranges from 40 units to 270 units. These figures have been before the Parliament now for 5 months yet members, such as the honourable member for Bendigo, aware as they are of these very gross discrepancies, can still rise in this place, or sit in their seats and interject, and attribute gross rates of illiteracy in government secondary schools - and, I might say in passing, even grosser rates of illiteracy in Catholic late primary grades and early secondary grades - to poor teaching. It does not seem to occur to the honourable member for Bendigo and those who think like him that there may be some -
– To what do you attribute the illiteracy of the children?
– I attribute it to the reality which is expressed in the difference between the annual input of 40 resource units and an annual input of 270 resource units.
– Would you mind explaining that?
– An input of 270 resource units means small classes, favourable pupilteacher ratios, an abundant supply of teaching materials, lavish libraries - all the stimuli which will encourage children to take advantage of the capacity with which they are endowed. This, after all, is the goal of this Government and the objective which is enshrined in the Karmel Committee report. This is the objective in trying to establish, over Opposition resistance, the Australian Schools Commission on a statutory basis to make sure that every Australian child has an equal opportunity to develop the capacities with which he is endowed. I recall to honourable members opposite that whereas 80 per cent of the children from those schools for whom they speak in the Parliament complete their secondary education, only 30 per cent of the children from government and Catholic schools, for which honourable members on this side of the chamber speak, are able so to complete their secondary education.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– One cannot speak to the estimates for the Department of Education without one’s views on education being overshadowed by the Karmel report. The Karmel report is to become the blueprint for the present socialist Government’s approach to education. It is an exceedingly interesting document and in many respects a valuable one, especially as a basis for future discussions. This year, $145m has been appropriated for education. The Karmel report is to be applauded for its recommendation for extra money to be spent in schools which at present are not up to the standard which an affluent country such as Australia should expect. But, just as the Karmel report is forward looking te one respect, it is backward looking in another. I refer to the ridiculous argument that, because parents of the children attending some schools have worked to provide better facilities for those schools, those schools by some simple reasoning become so-called wealthy schools, and that parents of the children attending those schools hence must be penalised for their initiative in improving the facilities at those schools.
Let us, if we can, divorce ourselves from the religious and political bigotry which for so long has dogged this question of government assistance to independent schools and look at the situation as sanely and as logically as one would expect members of the Australian community and the Australian Parliament to look at it. Every child attending school is an Australian citizen and is entitled to be treated equally with every other Australian child. His parents, as Australian citizens and taxpayers, are entitled to be treated equally with other citizens and taxpayers. If the Government is prepared to spend $800 a year on the secondary education of one Australian child, every other Australian child should be entitled to the same amount of expenditure by the same Government, and he should be entitled to it as a right, irrespective of the school he attends.
What does it matter to a government what school a pupil attends, provided that school maintains the required standards as laid down by the Department of Education? I know that it is part of the policy of the Australian Labor Party to equalise, nationalise and regiment every member of the community. That is part of its philosophy, and I suppose the rest of us have to live with it. The Labor Party believes in one nationalised banking system, one nationalised airline system and the nationalisation of Australia’s resources and is working toward one nationalised education system.
One of the things one learns as a first year accountancy student is to distinguish between capital and income. Professor Karmel and his committee apparently have not been told of this rudimentary distinction; neither, apparently, has the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) or his Government. They have classified 105 Australian schools as wealthy schools - a horribly class conscious term that could emanate only from socialists, such as the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), who is interjecting - and as a result this Government intends to deprive the children attending those schools of any government assistance. There is no sense of justice in their approach. I am disappointed with the Minister for Education because I have always thought that he would place justice highly among his principles. Apparently I was wrong and he has bowed to the will of Caucus and its doctrinaire approach in this regard. It is a great pity, and he loses in standing because of it.
A wealthy person - even a wealthy person such as the honourable member for Casey, on his salary - can send his child to a government run school, pay nothing in fees and cost the taxpayers $800 a year for the education of his child; yet he is quite capable of paying for that education, the same as anyone else. But he makes his children a charge on the community. A struggling family on a much lower income than the honourable member for Casey may send their child to an independent school. The mother of the second family may work to send that child to that school and the parents may make great sacrifices to do so. This Government, ridden as it is with class hatred, applauds and assists the first family but berates the second family. The Minister for Education shrugs his shoulders and probably mentally says: ‘So what?’. The fundamental fact that this Minister and his Government refuse to admit is that none of the independent schools run at a profit. Their fees simply cover their costs and, with the wage increases and galloping inflation which have come about since the Labor Government came to power, the fees are fast becoming beyond the reach of the average family. So, the Government will achieve what it really wants. These schools will become the province of the wealthy and the children of ordinary parents who at present, by making considerable personal sacrifices, can send their children to these schools will be forced to withdraw them. Some of these schools will collapse and the others will become elitist schools attended only by snobbish children of snobbish parents. So, the Government is well on its way to its doctrinaire, nationalised, socialist education system.
It is interesting to note that the Government has not felt strong enough to attack the Catholic parish schols. It realises that Catholics represent approximately 25 per cent or more of the population and, in its present parlous electoral position, it does not wish to worsen further that position. It is to the admirable credit of the Catholic bishops and laymen that they have deplored the grants being taken from Protestant schools just as strongly as if they had been taken from Catholic schools. A very interesting cartoon appeared recently in the London ‘Daily Express’. Apparently the socialists in Britain are just as bad as the socialist Government here in Australia. The cartoon’s theme is nationalisation and it depicts one person, who could very well be our present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), hopping up and saying: ‘Nationalise the lot!’; another person, who could very well be the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) saying: Confiscation not compensation’; another one, who could very well be the Minister for Educa tion who is sitting at the table, saying: ‘No private schools!’; and another one, who could very well be the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden), saying: ‘No private medicine!’. These are the sort of people who are running our country. Apparently, socialists, whether they be in Britain or Australia, are much the same.
I should like to read briefly from a letter I received from the bursar of the Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne which, strangely enough, has not been classed as an A class school. The letter states:
I enclose a copy of a circular letter sent to MLC parents (of whom it is estimated approximately 47 per cent voted for Labor’s educational policies in the December elections).
Perhaps Labor will not be getting those votes in future. The bursar goes on to say:
The loss of per capita grants to schools is actually a loss to parents in that fees must be raised to cover the recurrent expenses. Parents, partly due to the fact that up to 40 per cent of mothers are in part or full time employment primarily to keep their children at schools of their choice, pay equal or more in taxation than those parents who by choice or circumstances send their children to government schools. Surely they are entitled either by direct refund on presentation of receipted accounts, or by means of per capita grants to the particular school at which their son or daughter attends, because the educational cost allocation should extend to their children’s benefit also.
The bursar goes on to say:
Of particular concern to most of the independent schools is not only the heavy loss of enrolments to them but as to how the government schools will cope with an extraordinary influx of the additional students who must on account of the increased financial strain on their parents apply for places in 1974.
The immediate cost for adequate new buildings, teaching staff and facilities will be enormous, and in the long term the costs for maintenance added to the immediate expenses will be a charge on the taxpayers to an amount very much greater than that now removed by cancellation or reduction of per capita grants to many independent schools.
Though requesting for a review of the Karmel report in its relation to the independent schools, I do appreciate very sincerely the fact that allocations have been so widely given to assist under privileged students.
Those are the views of an expert who knows what he is talking about. This is what the Government is doing to independent schools. Today it is the Protestant independent schools; tomorrow who knows? This Government is throwing money around like a child with 4 hands. It is to its eternal shame that because it is ridden with policies of class hatred it is deliberately destroying the independent school system which has served Australia so well and for so long.
– I should like to comment on the speech of the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) who spoke a little while ago about Commonwealth expenditure on schools as distinct from Commonwealth expenditure on tertiary education. I should like to draw the attention of the honourable member for Forrest to the fact that so far no Labor Budget has been put through this Parliament. Therefore, the educational expenditures upon which he commented were a result of the Budget passed last year. I know that the honourable member was not making party political points. Of course the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman), who has just spoken, made nothing else. But the point that I want to make is in relation to the actual expenditure of the Commonwealth Government on schools. The honourable member for Forrest will recall that in September last year we gave an undertaking that for the academic year 1973 we would continue the policies of the late Government. As a result $88.6m has been spent on schools. The expenditure on tertiary education is, of course, overwhelmingly larger than that amount - and that was the policy of the late Government.
Under the recommendations of the Interim Schools Committee, which recommends the grants to the States, in the academic year 1974 the expenditure of $88. 6m on schools for this year will become $276.5m, and for the academic year 1975 it will become $41 1.6m on schools. So the growth will be about fivefold. Even allowing for the strictures on inflation of the honourable member for Deakin these will be considerable increases. The honourable member for Deakin spoke about the destruction of the independent schools. In his speech - and I notice he does not wait to listen to the reply - he said that we were destroying the independent schools. I invite the attention of the House to the means of destroying the independent schools. In the last biennium of the late Government, 1971-72, the all-up expenditure, every form of expenditure, on state schools by the late Government was $40.5m, and on independent schools was $7 1.5m. Under the Karmel plan, which has come in for its share of criticism, the all-up expenditure in the next biennium on government schools will be $495m, a twelvefold increase; and on independent schools it will be $195m, about a threefold increase.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) of course is quite right in saying that money is not the only factor. But I suggest to the honourable gentleman that we should not fall into the opposite error of making religion a hurrah word. There is one Englishspeaking community which has only religious schools, and that community is Ulster. I think the honourable gentleman might recognise that religion as a form of indoctrination, rather than what it ought to be, can be a form of paganism which is thoroughly mischievous. Anyway, I am not satisfied with the results in Ulster. I hope that what really communicates itself to a child is the real qualities of the child’s teachers, and those may not always relate to the doctrines the teachers profess. After all, the priest and the Levi had all the right doctrines, even from Christ’s point of view, and the Samaritans had all the wrong ones. But that is not the point of the story. So we might look for other qualities in education rather than merely the question of religious profession.
Surely the honourable member regards it as less than satisfactory that, pursuing the policies of his Government and the Budget of his Government, this year $28m is spent on State schools and $60.2m is spent on independent schools. That may be assisting what the honourable gentleman calls quality with a vengeance. But the enrolment in the state schools is more than 3 times as great as in the private schools. The Commonwealth, after all, is not a party principal in education except in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, and it will be in tertiary education. I am surprised that none of the honourable gentlemen opposite has mentioned a word about universities, colleges of advanced education and technical schools becoming free. If one is going to talk about who is getting the benefit in education I draw the attention of the honourable gentlemen opposite to these facts: Twenty-eight per cent of state school children complete a secondary education and can go on to a tertiary education; 35 per cent of children at Catholic schools complete a secondary education and can go on to a tertiary education; 86.5 per cent of children in non-Catholic non-government schools complete a secondary education and can go on to a tertiary education. If a child goes on to a tertiary education he really hits the taxpayers’ jackpot.
The Australian National University may be an extreme case, but it has 5,000 students and costs S43m a year to run - that is in the current Budget. By passing all the way through the education system an arts graduate possibly costs the taxpayer $10,000. According to Mr Willis a graduated doctor costs the taxpayer $45,000. If a child attends the non-government non-Catholic sector of education - which normally is the high fee charging sector - and he goes on to tertiary education he will get a subvention from the taxpayer which leaves the ordinary child in the ordinary state school for dead. Three years of high school-
– What about the number of state school students who go on for technical education?
– Bui 75 per cent of state school children do not go on.
– But a number do. You have not mentioned that percentage.
– I do not dispute the number. Let us deal with groups of children at the moment. I am not trying to suppress facts, ] am just asking honourable members to consider a few other things in the sociology of who gets what in education.
– But the big percentage of state students go on.
-Order! The honourable member for Bendigo is listed to speak in the debate. I suggest that he does so when his turn comes.
– Only 28 per cent of state school children complete a secondary education, so that the rest cannot go on to tertiary education. But leaving that aside, there is the other consideration of other ways of assisting parents. If we restore the grants to A schools in the 2 years 1974-75 it would cost us $7m. If we abolish income tax concessions over $150 in the same 2 years* that would return $55m in revenue to the Commonwealth Treasury. It is very clearly a fact that the higher the income group to which a person belongs the more he benefits by income tax concessions. The 30 per cent of taxpayers who are claimants of educational concessions of more than $150 a year will get $55m back in taxation concessions in the next 2 years, which is more than the $50m that Karmel recom mends for disadvantaged schools. The 70 per cent of taxpayers claiming less than $150 in the same 2 years will get back $35m.
The honourable member for Forrest spoke about the absence of a kindergarten education program. We are the inheritors of the past Government’s policies on kindergartens. We have taken on the onerous obligation of attempting to spread throughout Australia in the next 6 years, or launching a program that will do it in the next 6 years, a program of kindergarten education or pre-school education equivalent to that which exists in the Australian Capital Territory. As an initial step we have made all pre-school or kindergarten training colleges entirely free and, without means tests, paid all the students who are training for that form of teaching a living allowance. I am sure the honourable member for Forrest will recognise that one cannot get pre-school teachers instantly - like instant coffee; they have to be trained. We have had to start the training. Before there can be developed throughout the country an adequate pre-school education we must have, first and foremost, the teachers, although I am bound to say that initially in the Australian Capital Territory a lot of this began with the self-help of parents rather than professional teachers.
– The children in these rural areas are really too young to send anyway.
– I realise that if there is .any distance to be travelled, obviously there are going to be difficulties with pre-school education. Country children also do .not have the environment of the high rise concrete jungle areas of the cities. Very often they have freedom of movement and space in the country, which may to some extent mean that they do not need pre-school education to the same degree as other children, although they do not get the intellectual stimulus of association.
The honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) did not seem to know whether to accuse supporters of the Government of being centralisers or demand that we be centralisers. I assure the honourable member that I will not have the power of decision as to what university sets up an Asian language faculty. I am not controlling universities. We are making grants to the States for them to pass on to universities. The measures concerned are called States Grants (Universities) Bills. I do not run the timetables, courses, appointments or anything else of the universities. If I had the power to make those sorts of decisions it would really be the centralisation of which we are accused coming in with a vengeance.
I would like to make some comments about what the honourable member for Darling Downs had to say about SPELD - specific learning difficulties. The honourable member is confusing decisions by tertiary institutions about courses in Asian languages and teaching the handicapped with departmental expenditure on an Asian language curriculum studies and support for the SPELD organisation. SPELD, with its specific learning difficulties policy, is dealing with handicapped children. The Karmel exercise has us making to the States an entirely new grant of $43. 5m for handicapped children, which is the field in which SPELD deals, and $ 10.2m for the training of those who are already teachers to be teachers of the handicapped. Of course, in the 5188m for teachers colleges there is an amount for the setting up of special courses to train the new younger teachers to be teachers of the handicapped. The courses approved by tertiary institutions will be funded by the Australian Universities Commission or the Australian Colleges of Advanced Education Commission, based on submissions from the institutions themselves. Honourable members opposite seem to forget that an interim committee which is set up, even the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, does not make decisions of itself. The States specified to the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission what they thought were their disadvantaged schools. That is how the grants have been determined; just as the universities make their submissions to the Australian Universities Commission and so on. I hope honourable gentlemen opposite will recognise that the Karmel operation was directed by its assessment of the evidence put to it.
I assure the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman), who spoke in a very personal way just before I commenced to speak, that first and foremost not from one cover to another does the Karmel report - the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission - make one reference to wealthy schools. I have never seen a stalkinghorse dragged around like that one. Who called them wealthy schools? Karmel did not. He took the information which they gave him. Very often it was inaccurate information; they overrated their resources; they did all sorts of things like that. A lot of what have been called appeals are not appeals at all; they are corrections of facts. But that is a matter for later discussion. He took what they stated and compared their resources with those of state schools.
The honourable member for Deakin asked why $800 should be spent on one child. I presume that is what he thinks is the average spent on a state school child. According to the Australian Education Council, which is comprised of all the State Ministers for Education, it is about $511. It supplied the Government of which he was a supporter with that information. Correcting his figure from $800 to $511, what he asked was: ‘Why should the whole $51 1 per pupil not be given to an independent school?’ Of course, on that basis it would cease to be an independent school because one would insist upon total accessibility if it were totally financed by the state. The point is that the government supported by the honourable gentleman never did that. It did not take over the funding of education from the States. The essence of the Karmel operation is to look at the defects in state education and try to plug the holes and to look at the defects in nongovernment education and try to plug the holes. I am a little concerned about this question of what religion got the money. I have pointed out before that there are 1,768 Catholic schools in this country and 108 Anglican schools. The Anglican schools are outnumbered 16 to 1. On any system of grants that we like to devise what result would we expect?
But, coming to the per capita expenditure, some criticism has been made of the fact that there will be a weighted expenditure in favour of disadvantaged schools. I do not believe that we could ever again, use the staff-student ratio as a test. Nobody knew that it was going to be used as a test. But since 80 per cent of the recurring costs of education are teachers’ salaries, if one school of 500 children has 50 teachers it must necessarily have a high degree of affluence. No advantage was conferred on the Catholic schools with their teaching orders because they were assumed to have salaries, if they did not have them. If there were 50 Christian Brothers they were counted as having $6,800 salary each, which would give something like 5340,000 to be divided by the number of students, and that gave the comparable figure with the state school’s figure of $511 per pupil.
The Karmel operation is only the first 2 years of a 6-year plan. It is not a barbarian plan to destroy the non-government schools. It is a recommendation to the Commonwealth Government to spend $2,000m, at 1973 values of the dollar, over 6 years to try to bring all schools up to a level that is 140 per cent of the state school level of resources. A school which is already at 140 per cent of the state school level of resources - some are at 270 per cent - is beyond what all the other schools are going to be in 6 years time. It has therefore been held that the Commonwealth should again bring in its grants later on but that while this operation is on it should phase them out. 1 am not going to say that that is the law of the Medes and Persians.
People are talking as if the legislation about the ‘A’ schools - we will not know the number of ‘A’ schools until the whole of the analysis has been completed - had already been introduced; it has not. Until 31 December of this year, what is happening in the schools is happening under the legislation introduced by the previous Government in September 1972. We said we will continue it for a year and that after that the allocation to the nongovernment sector would be reapportioned. Many honourable members have commented on Karmel’s recurring grants but no-one has commented on the fact that he doubles the capital grants to non-government schools.
– Order.’ It being IS minutes past 10 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 1 March, I shall report progress.
– I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– At a time when it is government policy to expend enormous sums of money in the development of its instrumentalities and at a time also when we are being told about the decline in the proportion of gross domestic product going to wage earners, I thought I would like to bring before the House some data which came to my hand a few days ago regarding the claims of the unions which will be involved in the construction of the pipeline from Moomba to Sydney. This information came to my notice through a metal trades source which I have every reason to believe is reliable. So I give the facts, that is, the claim of the relevant unions, namely, the Australian Workers Union and the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. They claim that the rate for welders on this project should be $4 an hour and that the rate for labourers should be S2.94 an hour, and that all other classifications should be paid a rate somewhere between those 2 extremes of S4 and $2.94. This means that welders would receive S81.50 over the award per week and labourers would receive S60.30 over the award per week. The claim is that 9 months after the job starts they will call it midway and this will mean that they will receive another 13c an hour over the foregoing rates. The national wage case variation will apply and it is likely that this will be by April 1974.
It is also claimed that if between August 1973 and January 1974, which is when the job should start, the consumer price index increase exceeds 8i per cent the rate already quoted will be increased by 3c per 1 per cent increase in the consumer price index. This is a normal claim. They claim air fares from the point of engagement to the site and back again. They claim that they should be entitled to 64 hours annual sick leave to be paid at the ordinary rate. They claim further that the 64 hours must be available from the first day of employment, and that medical certificates should not be required. All accommodation and messing is to be free of charge and all to be first class - one man per room, hot midday meals and first class recreation facilities. This indeed is normal in such cases. Because the pipeline will pass through isolated areas, they claim that a location allowance which ranges between $10 and $30 a week, depending on the location should be paid. Apparently Young is a much more pleasant place to be near than, for example, Mingary. They claim also that the unions will allow the contractor to use automatic welding machines for welding instead of insisting on hand welding, but this will be done only if first class welder classifications are used. This means a claim for first class welders to receive an additional $6.25 per day quality allowance, as it is called.
– Have they enough first class welders?
– There are not enough first class welders and this will mean that these will have to be trained. They will not permit expatriates to come in from elsewhere. They claim that they will not be working overtime but will allow overtime up to 52 hours a week should a so-called home leave not be allowed for. This means that they are claiming 3 weeks work in a month, 10 hours per day, 6 days per week. They claim that if they are working such overtime they should get a home leave after 3 weeks, which will consist of free fares to the point of engagement plus normal wages for 40 hours per week and return air fares to the job again after 6 or 7 days home leave. If home leave is not allowed for, they will place a ban on overtime. Therefore that every fourth week they will get as a holiday 6 days fully paid.
They will not allow contractors to employ expatriates - this is the point that the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) raised earlier - and all people employed on the pipeline should be Australian citizens or people who have resided in Australia for the past 2 years. Therefore if there is a shortage of welders - there is a general shortage of welders in Australia - it will not be possible to employ anyone from overseas so that older people will have to be trained to cope with the duties of a welder. I understand that training can be done very quickly. Expatriates will probably be allowed to act as instructors to train local people. There is a battle going on between the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union and the Australian Workers Union about demarcation. The yearly income of the lowest classification on the job will be between $15,000 and $16,000 a year and the welders will be earning between $22,000 and $24,000 a year, plus free messing, accommodation and so forth. They do not wish this to be paid immediately but to have it paid in a lump sum, with leave, to avoid taxation. This would be what is called in taxation terms, I think, a retirement allowance or a lump sum payment on termination of employment on which they would pay 5 per cent income tax. 1 will admit that constructing this pipeline is very hard and very tedious work in very harsh conditions, and that it requires, as does all work, a degree of skill, although those who will receive, as I mentioned a moment ago, between $15,000 and 516,000 a year are what are called unskilled workers, labourers. This is a tremendously important matter because the Government is proposing massive investment through its instrumentalities in development projects. We have a Government in office whose political foundation is the trade union movement. It says to the unions: All right, go ahead, demand what you like. So far as we, a Labor Government are concerned, it is all right with us.’ If rates of this kind are paid I say that this means nothing less than a raid on the public purse. More than that, it means that the cost of the product to the general public - what we are talking about here happens to be gas - will be enormously increased by reason of this lax control of the public purse.
This is part of the cost that we have to pay for a Labor Government, and I think the people should know this. This is a cost to the taxpayer whose money is to be raided. This is a cost to the consumer upon whom the additional price of the product must be loaded; this at a time when we have heard a lot of talk and have been given a lot of figures to obfuscate the real facts. Here we have an example of the real facts which suggest that the proportion of the gross domestic product going to wage and salary earners has been reducing over recent years. No amount of bluff and persiflage and talk and nonsense of the kind we have been accustomed to in recent times can obliterate these facts. I ask the Government to tell me whether these are the demands and, when these contracts are concluded, the extent to which those demands have been admitted and these rates paid by the contractors concerned. People are entitled to know these facts and a government under a parliamentary system, if that is what we have here, is answerable to the people and to the Parliament. When plain facts of this kind are sought we are entitled to have them. When the time comes and when the Government is in the position to give them, I suggest that the Parliament will insist that we have them. How far have these demands been met by the contractors? These are simply factual matters. A government is answerable to the people and answerable to this Parliament, and the Parliament has means of ensuring that a government answerable to it does in fact answer. For far too long in this place we have been asking questions and have received no answers. Parliament as an institution has been flouted. What does the word ‘parliament’ mean? The word means parley - to talk - to speak - to discuss. We have had a Minister in this place - a Leader of the House - telling us all that matters is the vote, not the reasons or what the issue it. It does not matter whether the people know what it is all about or not. We are told that all that matters is the vote. Of course it will matter enormously when we get to the next election and when the explanations go out. I have stated what I believe to be the facts and we will insist that on this matter we have the facts from the Government which is answerable to this Parliament.
– We have just heard a classic example of the Liberal-Country Party approach to the electorate. It is: You establish an image of what must be ahead and then attribute this as a fact that is accepted by government and then condemn government for it. The electoral image that the Opposition parties are creating will in the end be their own destruction. They have no positive policies. They condemn the public expenditure embodied in our Budget because, as we now know, they are financed by big business and it is for them that they speak.
– Order! I ask for silence during this speech. The honourable member for Bradfield was heard in complete silence. I ask that the same courtesy be extended to the honourable member for Eden-Monaro and I intend to see that he gets it.
– The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) obviously did not read his political journal this week. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ had an editorial condemning the gulf that has widened between this Government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The reason for this is that they have different views on the referendum on incomes. But we heard the honourable member for Bradfield say tonight that there is almost complete union. The Opposition wants it both ways. The domination of the Opposition by big business is excelled only by the Opposition’s inability to grasp the fact that it is not in government. Let us consider the claims that have been made by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who said that the superphosphate bounty will be lifted by the Government and that Colonel McArthur will be sacked as the Chairman of the Australian Meat Board. They are wonderful predictions. They are categorical statements about what the Government will do. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), posturing on the steps of Parliament House last week, confidently predicted that the Government had decided to make a senator Minister for the Capital Territory because, as he said, this man would be the hatchet man. Once again a spokesman for the Opposition made a fatal mistake. The Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr
Anthony) confidently predicted that the Government would impose a meat tax. Not only that, he is reported to have said: that having once applied a tax and finding it did not work the Government would keep increasing it in an attempt to make it work.
It is this sort of fabrication that leads the Opposition into these stupid mistakes that it made in the Senate when it removed 0.6c from the proposed export tax on meat. It has now placed in jeopardy the entire brucellosis and tuberculosis campaign. The American importers are now wondering what new devilment, what new uncertainty is being introduced into the meat market by the people who are supposed to be the champions of the country men. The question of ‘Where will this money come from?’ is now well worth asking. As a result of the actions of the Country Party and the Liberal Party in the Senate money V be gained from the export tax which was to have been used to pay for the brucellosis and tuberculosis campaign is now not available. Why is it not available? Herein lies the fatal flaw. The ex-Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), was able to encourage his confederates to drop this 0.6c tax because they made an incredible mistake. They got their facts wrong once again. They based their calculation on the weight of carcass meat. A Country Party ex-Minister did not realise that when we export beef we export a great deal of it boneless and therefore the export weight is considerably lighter than the carcass weight.
Honourable members interjecting-
-Order! I will make one more appeal for silence. If it is not forthcoming someone will miss the important debate in the morning. I can assure the House of that.
– Mr Speaker, I have obviously struck a raw nerve. The Opposition has made its mistake. Its homework was faulty and it has once more placed another element of uncertainty in the meat industry. Firstly, the Opposition parties are the ones who were entirely responsible for creating the uncertainty associated with the meat export tax. Secondly, they have now created uncertainty in regard to the brucellocis and tuberculosis campaign. Honourable members opposite are the people who are causing mischief in the country. This will become known and understood before any election campaign can possibly get under way from this point on. This mischief is causing serious doubts among leaders of the farm industry.
We have heard of the proposal to introduce a program for the elimination of weevils from wheat. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) had never at any stage given an undertaking to take this proposal on board. At a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council he was asked to give such an undertaking and he answered:
I cannot give you that undertaking because this is a matter which will have to go before Federal Cabinet.
He said that he appreciated the opportunity to spell that out. The Australian Wheatgrowers Federation - egged on by the Country Party - refused to allow inspectors on to properties to inspect stored wheat on the farm. I put it to you, Mr Speaker: How can any infestation program, a program designed to eliminate the activities of weevils, work if a great proportion of the wheat crop cannot be seen by the inspectors, the people who are involved in the elimination of weevils? This condition alone was enough to destroy the credibility of that campaign. The Country Party’s position in regard to the meat industry has been enough to destroy its credibility. It is almost now as low as it was when it was in government.
We see yet another attack on a very useful innovation introduced by this Government, and that is the opportunity for industry groups to put their point of view to the Government and to hear the point of view that is being placed by other industrial groups. That opportunity was given to the farm industry for the first time by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices which was looking into meat prices. Now the Country Party has chosen to use that Committee as a vehicle for short term political advantage. Naturally the Government must seriously consider whether it will revert to the confidential manner of obtaining advice by the use of interdepartmental committees on which industry groups could not get the opportunity to put their point of view let alone hear the point of view of other industry groups and the evidence on which government might come to a decision. This behaviour in regard to the Prices Committee inquiring into meat prices has attacked the very basis on which this Government has established its open government and the very basis on which it has given industry groups the opportunity to approach government and to put their points of view.
The stupidity of such behaviour has been motivated by the blind fury of these people.
In a mindless attack on the Government, the Opposition has become abusive. It has made mistakes and it has revealed the basic weakness that caused it to lose government. The Oppostion fails to do its homework, lt is negative. It has opposed off-shore legislation, assistance to local government and isolated children’s grants. What positive policies does the Opposition have? Opposition members accuse us of being anti-social. Let the farmers hear it. Let the farmers remember the wheat stabilisation schemes and all the other price stabilisation programs and the Australian Wheat Board. Let the farmers remember that these people on the opposite side of this House condemn us because they say we are socialists.
Mr TURNER (Bradfield)- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, grossly misrepresented. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro has just referred to me as a member of the Country Party.
-If the honourable gentleman is offended I will ask for a withdrawal.
– I withdraw, Mr Speaker.
– It is most embarrassing, because my friends in the Country Party are just as much upset as my friends in the Liberal Party are confused.
– I have heard it said on many occasions that attack is the best defence. I have never seen it demonstrated so emphatically as it was demonstrated by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) tonight. I understand that he was the chairman of the Australian Labor Party’s rural committee. He was a member of the Joint Committee on Prices, and a prominent speaker in that Committee, which decided to recommend to the Government that a meat export tax should be imposed. He was the architect of the scheme. Tonight he has tried to deny it. He could not even convince his own Caucus and his own Minister of his arguments after having had the advantage of hearing so much evidence on this matter. If it were not for the Opposition members on that Committee there would not have been the sound approach that was made to the industry and to the Parliament. It was the approach of the Opposition members on that Committee which,
I believe, persuaded the Government to accept the reservations they had and the arguments they put forward for oppositing the meat tax.
As to what the industry thinks about the tax, is the honourable member for EdenMonaro so absolutely conceited that he thinks that honourable members on this side of the House who represent rural areas do not travel around their electorates to find out the reactions of the industry to this tax? Never in the time that I have been associated with politics have I heard a greater condemnation of any decision than that which accompanied the report, to which the honourable member himself was a party, concerning the tax. At meeting after meeting of meat producers, not only in my own area but in other areas as well I found meat producers threatening to keep their meat from the market in protest against the meat tax which the honourable member for Eden-Monaro so blithely tried to defend tonight. The Labor Party has made a hopeless mess of representing the industry. Even the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) demonstrated that. There are one or two other things I want to mention tonight. This was not the subject I intended to speak about at length. I could speak about it for a long time and I think that members of my Party would want me to do so. I merely say that the honourable member did a lousy job on the meat tax. I told the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) that I wanted to talk tonight about questions from this side of the House. I think that this demonstrates very clearly the generosity of the Australian Country Party, because it will not be long before we will be in government. While we have been in Opposition we have found out the problem and I think I should draw attention to it. The Government, or any government for that matter, has a very decided advantage at question time. Its members have the advantage of asking every second question. As you know only too well, Mr Speaker, the Ministers have the advantage of using this time to make political speeches which would be better made by way of a statement. Everyone in the House has spoken about that. The Minister for Services and Property - I thank him for it - drew my attention to the fact that, when speaking about this mater in an earlier debate, I understated the number of backbenchers and overstated the number of Ministers. I did not take into consideration the Ministers who are in the Senate. That was a slip on my part. I thank the Minister for drawing my attention to it. I am prepared to rectify that, but the point is that it made no material difference to the fact that Government members have a much better opportunity to ask questions than have members on this side of the House leaving aside the fact that Ministers take such an advantage of question time.
I ask the Minister for Services and Property to consider allowing 3 questions from the Opposition for every 2 questions from Government members. I think that he ought to grab the opportunity. Let me tell honourable members what the position is in regard to backbenchers. The Minister will find that my arithmetic is much better than it was before and a lot beter than his when he said that no Country Party member had ever been elected to this Parliament on first preferences. If he follows the example I have set, he will withdraw that statement and apologise to those members of the Country Party whom he maligned in that way. The number of Labor backbenchers, excluding the Ministers, is 45. The number of questions they have asked during this session is 1 39. The number of backbenchers on this side of the House, excluding the 4 leaders of the parties, is 54, and we have asked 90 questions. That shows a very great disadvantage. When I spoke before, some Labor members were fair enough to admit that this was true.
If honourable members look at the list of questions for the week ending 11 October - I have a copy of it - they will find that some Labor members asked 6 questions whereas the most an Opposition member has asked, leaving aside the leaders, is 3. So there is a very great difference in the total number of questions. I wanted to draw attention to the fact that I had made a mistake when referring to the number of Ministers. I hope that the Minister for Services and Property will recognise and acknowledge the bigger mistake he made in regard to the votes recorded in favour of Country Party members. When I was speaking the other night the Minister for Services and Property - the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) may give him some advice if he thinks that the Minister is not capable of handling the job - made some erratic statements. To use the words that he used so often when he was in Opposition, I say this more in sorrow than in anger. I say that a little more sincerely than he probably did.
On 26 September when he replied to what I was saying in a debate he said:
The honourable member has become a real democrat.
He was right there -
He said that the Opposition members should be allowed to ask 3 questions for every 2 from the Government side. We were lucky to be able to ask one question for every hundred from the Government side.
That is what he said. I do not know whether he maintains that, but that is what is in Hansard. So if the Minister is going to criticise me, as he has done, for inaccuracy about the number of Ministers in this place, which made no difference to the total number of questions asked by backbenchers or to the number of questions asked by members on this side of the House, he should look at his own record in Hansard. I repeat what he said:
We were lucky to be able to ask one question for every hundred from the Government side when we were in Opposition. Honourable members know that we would wait 3 weeks to ask a question.
Mr Speaker, you may know that during this last week I have been jumping to my feet to try to ask a question and I have asked only one question. I am not suggesting that you did not treat me fairly. I believe that you did, because there are other members of my Party who also have asked only one question. I am not suggesting that you, Mr Speaker, are not doing your very best to see that question time is used to the advantage of the Parliament. You have had great difficulty in doing that largely because of the blatant abuse of question time by Ministers whom you admit that you have to allow to answer questions in their own way.
I say to the Minister for Services and Property that what I said on the other occasion still stands. The figures show that there is no argument about the position. They are clear cut. Anyone can have a look at them. I will repeat them. Up to the week ended 11 October - I have not the latest document - the 45 Labor backbenchers asked 139 questions and the 54 members on this side of the House asked 90 questions. The Minister ought to have a look at this situation. If he does not do this, I believe that he will make history in this way: That will be the only Labor Party policy that will be retained when there is a change of government, and it will be the Minister’s own fault.
Mr WHAN (Eden-Monaro)- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. I have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). I thank him for the praise he heaped on me, but he was completely wrong in claiming that I was chairman of the Rural Committee. I was not, nor was I chairman or secretary of the Joint Parliamentary Committee investigating meat prices. The honourable member for Maranoa, as have all other members of the Country Party, has completely failed to appreciate the fact that the Committee was formed-
– I raise a point of order. I think the honourable member is going well past explaining the point of misrepresentation.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– He failed to appreciate the fact that the committee was formed to give advice to the Government. It was not a policy committee. How could it be if members of the Opposition were on it? I acted as an adviser on the committee, as I was asked to act. I was opposed to the meat tax on exports in every policy forum within my own Party-
-Order! I think the honourable gentleman is now debating the question.
– No. I was accused of supporting a meat tax in the Government Party. I have never at any stage supported the meat tax in the policy forums in the Government Party. Indeed it could be said that I was among those who led the opposition to the tax on every occasion the matter was raised within the Government Party. There is a marked distinction between being an adviser to the Government and acting in a policy capacity. I am not surprised that the Country Party, after so many years in government, has failed to make that distinction.
-Order! The honourable member is now debating the matter.
– I have listened with interest to the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and also to the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). I refer particularly to what the honourable member for Maranoa said about questions. Firstly, I do not call those who are to ask questions. That is the responsibility of the Speaker of this House. If the honourable member says that the Speaker is allocating questions unfairly he is casting a reflection on him.
– I did not say that, and you know it.
– You know well too that he is following the pattern that Liberal Party speakers set for 20 years. The honourable member raised certain questions in regard to what I had said. I will tender an apology to him if he can produce a speech made by him when he sat on the government benches like the speech that he made tonight. He knows full well that he never sought reform to bring about democratic practices until he sat in opposition. When he sat on this side of the Parliament he heard the former honourable member for Mallee ask half a dozen questions for every question asked by a member of the Australian Labor Party, and he never raised his voice at all. He is a humbug and a phony. He has only become a democrat since he has sat in opposition. He could not give a hang what happened to members of the Labor Party when they sat on the Opposition side of the Parliament and when he sat on the Government side, pounding us into the ground because he wanted the Speaker appointed by his government to call him a dozen times in preference to calling one of us who then sat in opposition.
The same applies to the honourable member for Bradfield. For 30 years he sat in the Parliament as silent as an extinct volcano, and now he is going off like Mount Vesuvius. He is like others on that side of the House; they are great democrats in opposition but they were jackbooters in every sense of the word when they sat on the government side. He said that Government supporters had asked 139 questions compared with 90 asked by Opposition members. Why do honourable members opposite not sit their leaders down. They ask questions after questions - and useless questions. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) asked me a question today that lasted for 10 minutes, and it tok me about 10 seconds to answer it. Why do honourable members opposite not pull their leaders up? Why do they not stop them asking so many questions?
The honourable member for Maranoa said that Opposition members are entitled to 3 questions to every one asked by a Labor member. Why should they be? Roughly the Parliament is divided evenly. Why do honourable members of the Country Party not have a yarn with their leader and tell him to sit down a bit? He is only getting into trouble. Whilst the questions of the honourable member for Maranoa would be more useless at least he could not do any more harm.
I am interested in honourable members opposite, the great reformers in Opposition. For years they did not care what happened when we on this side of the Parliament sat in Opposition. They asked question after question. They did not care if we never got a question. We sat on the Opposition side of the Parliament for weeks on end waiting for a chance to ask a question. Now, Mr Speaker, they cast reflections on you. The honourable member for Maranoa said in effect that I was picking the members who would ask questions. I am not doing that. I would not blame the Speaker for not picking the honourable member for Maranoa. He would be the last person I would look at if I was looking for an intelligent question.
Let me bring the honourable member right up to date. I have here the report of the Standing Orders Committee of 20 March 1972. Let me educate the honourable member, if it is possible. Let me tell him who the members of the Committee were at that time. There was the Speaker, Sir William Aston. Does the honourable member think that he was a nark, a no-hoper or a biased man? Does he not agree that he was a good man? There was the Chairman of Committees, Mr Lucock. My word,, what an intelligent, able man he is. He is a member of the Australian Country Party. The Leader of the House, Mr Swartz, was on it, as was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr Barnard - a most reputable man. Then we had Mr McMahon, the former Prime Minister. I do not want the honourable member for Maranoa to express his opinion of that right honourable gentleman tonight. It would not be parliamentary. Another member was Mr Anthony, the Minister for Trade and Industry, once described by a member of the Country Party, as an office boy, but still he is Leader of that Party now. We had the Leader of the Opposition, and Mr Bryant whom the Opposition praised in this Parliament so well a couple of days ago. We had Mr Drury, a distinguished man in Parliamentary procedure, and Mr Duthie, a distinguished colleague of mine. We had Mr Scholes the Chairman of Committees in the present Parliament. The question that the honourable member for Maranoa raised tonight was raised by none other than the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) at the meeting of the Standing Orders Committee on 23 August 1971. The House agreed to a motion moved by Mr Keating, namely, that the matter of the distribution of questions be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. Does the House know what the unanimous verdict was? It was decided that the distribution of questions should stay at it has been exemplified in this Parliament. So does the honourable gentleman say that his leader and all those associated with him are phony and do not believe in the present arrangement? The suggestion by the honourable member for Maranoa was rejected by his own leader and by members of his Party and the gentleman who sits in front of him tonight. In other words members of the Country Party are a phony lot. They want everything for themselves when they are in opposition, but when they sat on this side of the Parliament they treated people with contempt. No wonder the Democratic Labor Party gave them away. What trouble one could get into through being associated with that lot who sit in the corner of the chamber occupied by the Country Party! Fancy looking for that kind of trouble. They are Democrats when they are in opposition and jackbooters when they are in government.
Does the honourable member deny that the report of the Standing Orders Committee was fair? If he does, why did he not get up in this place and oppose it? Of course he did not. He sat as silent as the grave. He is a reformed democrat. In opposition he wants the world. When he sat on the government side he did not give anybody anything and cared only about what he wanted himself. Therefore if honourable members opposite want reforms I suggest that they make them when they are in government. I am sick and tired of members of the Country Party and other honourable members opposite demanding reforms in this Parliament, which for 20 years they refused to do anything about. If there is anything wrong with the running of this Parliament they caused it, because for 23 years they had the opportunity to reform the Parliament and they did nothing about it. They know as well as I do that whatever is wrong with the Standing Orders, whatever is wrong with question time in this Parliament, whatever is wrong with any other thing, it is their responsibility. We on this side, brilliant men as we are, cannot reform it all in 10 months. But let hon ourable members opposite wait and be patient and we will do a few things like this.
The honourable member for Maranoa, as I mentioned a few moments ago, has become a remarkable reformer in opposition. Never have I seen such a convert to the cause of reformation as the honourable member for Maranoa since he has sat on the Opposition side.
-Order! I think the Minister is starting to get provocative.
– Oh, no. I apologise, Mr Speaker. You know that is not my form at all. I am a reasonable man, but you can understand how I have been roused tonight by this new-found democrat in our midst. I did not know he existed. To find a member of the Country Party wanting justice for members of the Parliament is indeed a remarkable discovery. Consequently I think that the honourable member’s cause should die on that report I have mentioned. Perhaps he will get on to the Standing Orders Committee. Perhaps he will influence you, Mr Speaker, to call people from the Country Party twice and from the Liberal Party once. What would happen if that occurred? You know, Sir, that there would be a fight on that side of the fence again. We understand that the Country Party is only the second most important Party on that side of the Parliament. What would happen if the honourable member for Maranoa were called twice and the honourable member for Bradfield were called only once? Imagine the consternation and the disarray. On this side of the House we do not like disunity and we do not want to see it on the other side. We hate to see these public displays. We do not want to see honourable members opposite fighting publicly. What would be worse than to see them fighting over something like question time? These are matters that concern us here. If honourable members opposite only knew it we are doing them a good turn by trying to keep harmony in the ranks of the Opposition. What better can a government do for those people seeking power?
Is it not good to know that in the distant future when honourable members opposite may get to this side of the Parliament again at least we will have made them democrats? They will let us have a number of questions. Will it not be nice if the honourable member for Maranoa is made Speaker and gives us 3 questions to 1 as against his own Party? Will it not be glorious? Last night he said that television stations were in business for the fun of it - that they did not want to make a profit. That is the kind of chap who is putting these things up. I ask the honourable member to read the report and if he wishes to add to it he can do so when his Party gets back into office in the far distant future. When we are on that side we will remember what he has said and we will ask him to adhere to it.
I feel that I have said enough but the point at issue is that I am unmoved by the statements of the honourable member for Maranoa and the honourable member for Bradfield. The honourable member for Bradfield is a great reformer who talks one way in the Parliament and votes another way when the chips are down. I have no respect at all for those people who will not vote as they think because in this place it is how you vote that counts, not how you talk. The honourable member for Maranoa and the honourable member for Bradfield should put their votes where their hearts are and then we on this side of the Parliament will believe that they are fair dinkum.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have certainly been misrepresented on several counts and I will deal with at least 2 of them. The Leader of the House (Mr Daly) acted tonight as he has acted before. He said that I said 3 to 1. You would know, Mr Speaker, and everyone in the House would know that I said 3 to 2. That is a complete misrepresentation. I cannot understand why the Minister does not try to raise his credibility level a little higher. I am making a suggestion to the Minister and those on the Government side so that they can help themselves when they come back over to the Opposition. I am not doing it for any other reason than for the good of the Parliament.
The Leader of the House again completely misrepresented me when, straight after listening to me make a particular point of telling you, Sir, that I had no criticism at all of you - and you nodded in agreement at the time - he tried to make a point that I was criticising you. But I was not criticising you. What notice can we take of this Minister? His credibility is gone. He will not withdraw when he makes an error. That error still stands in Hansard and his credibility is completely gone.
– 1 had hoped that tonight I would have an opportunity to say something about the conduct of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly). I am hoping, Mr Speaker, that tomorrow night in the adjournment debate you will be kind enough to call me somewhat earlier in the proceedings so that I may have an opportunity to express at greater length my feelings and deductions that have to be put before this House and the country on the way that the Minister has been conducting himself and the proceedings in this House. I will not have an opportunity to do that tonight but I want to draw attention to what he said a few minutes ago. I believe he said that he was going to wear the jackboot. He is doing precisely that.
The Government makes a great show of the way in which it allows debates in this House, but on every important measure it truncates debate. We had a tremendous example of that today when the Bills relating to the Australian Industry Development Corporation were before the House. They are most important Bills and one would have thought that if the Government really believed in them it would have been glad to have had-
-Order! It being 1 1 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Secondary Education (Question No. 338)
Homosexual Behaviour (Question No. 586)
Br Klugman asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
How many persons were charged (a) successfully and (b) unsuccessfully in (i) the Australian Capital Territory and (ii) the Northern Territory for offences arising out of alleged homosexual behaviour in private between consenting adults in each of the last 10 years.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
There were 5 officials of the Department of Defence employed on defence-related tasks in Papua New Guinea as at 31 July 1973. Two of these officers were on loan to the Papua New Guinea Government, and were employed in the Defence Branch of the Chief Minister’s Office.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice: <1) ‘Have the discussions which he arranged between his Department and the Department of Education on ways of improving child migrant education taken place.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I gather that the honourable member has in mind specifically his earlier Question No. 87 (Hansard, 2 May, 1973, page 1626) in which he asked what action had been taken to ensure that specialist bilingual teachers would be employed in schools to improve the education opportunities of migrant children.
Because I see migrant education as one of the most vital matters affecting migrants, I asked that this area should be given first priority by the Migrant Task Forces Committees which I set up earlier in the year.
In its interim report the Victoria Task Force has recommended, inter alia, that a survey be made to ascertain the number of teachers who are bilingual, that where there are significant numbers of migrant children attending individual schools opportunity should be available for all children to learn the languages of major ethnic groups and that a bilingualbicultural transitional school be established to explore the possibilities of this kind of induction to the Australian educational system.
The implications of these recommendations will be considered by the Migrant Education Committee of the Immigration Advisory Council at its next meeting to be held early in October.
The honourable member will be aware also that I have asked that consideration be given to the possibility of a program of Integration Fellowships, so that qualified teachers from the principal migrant source countries can come to Australian schools as fellows or as additional staff members to assist in the instruction of both migrant and Australian-born children. I have asked my Department to discuss this proposal with the Department of Education.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Did he tell the National Press Club on 15 March 1973 that consultations had begun with the Government of Fiji on the possibility of providing military training in Australia for the Royal Fiji Military Forces; if so, what stage has been reached in the consultations.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As I indicated to the National Press Club in March, we are exploring in consultation with the Fijian authorities, the possibility of increasing training assistance in Australia to members of the Fijian Armed Services. This year there have been six Fijians on Army training courses in Australia.
asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:
When may I expect an answer to question No. 711 which I asked on 31 May 1973?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The answer to question No. 711 may be found at page 1502 of Hansard of 25 September 1973.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
National Rehabilitation and Compensation Scheme of Inquiry (Question No. 1034) Mr Wilson asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Chairman of the National Rehabilitation and Compensation Scheme Committee of Inquiry informs me that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 October 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19731017_reps_28_hor86/>.