28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
The perk - 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 they oppose the National 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 Bonnett, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Jarman, Mr McVeigh and Mr Eric Robinson.
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 Kelly. Petition received.
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 ls 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 Cooke, Mr Drury, Mr Killen, and Mr McLeay.
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 God to the heart of the family and national life. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Ashley-Brown, Sir John Cramer, Mr Kerin, Mr Mackellar, Mr Nixon, Mr Ruddock and Mr Wentworth.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned electors of the Division of Flinders respectfully sheweth: 1. Your petitioners believe in the principle that every Australian child, irrespective of the school he attends, is entitled to economic support for his basic educational needs from the funds placed at the disposal of the Australian Government through taxation. Further they believe that this economic support should be in the form of per capita grants which are directly related to the cost of educating an Australian child in a Government school.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of Government money spent on education.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Lynch.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. It concerns ex-servicemen under the age of 65 years but over the age of 60 years who are unable to enter service homes provided by the Department of Repatriation for aged ex-servicemen. I refer to places such as Burnewang at Elmore near Bendigo. Apparently ex-servicemen are eligible for a pension at 60 years of age but they are not eligible to enter these homes. Will the Minister have a look at this situation to see whether it can be amended as at the present time there are at least 5 vacancies at Burnewang but there are at least 12 persons whose medical condition makes them suitable for admission to these homes but who cannot get permission to enter them because they are not 65 years of age?
– Of course, it is one of this Government’s duties and objectives to iron out all anomalies that exist from the past, and the matter raised by the honourable member appears to be one of these anomalies. ‘I will have this matter taken up straight away and if what the honourable member outlined is the case we will see what can be done about it.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration the following question: In view of the fact that many thousands of nonEnglish speaking migrants make up a significant part of the Australian work force, will the Minister take steps to make available appropriate explanatory material in the relevant languages showing the rights as well as the obligations of employees? Will the Minister confer with the Minister for Labour with a view to ensuring that awards and decisions of State and Australian arbitration tribunals as well as State and Australian statutes are translated and published in the appropriate languages so that all workers, irrespective of their national origin, will understand and have the capacity to enforce their rights legally? Is this matter yet another important area neglected by the previous Government?
– I felt that possibly the greatest breakthrough in this particular sphere of allowing, permitting and encouraging migrants to know about their rights and privileges as Australian workers came when Mr Justice Moore, in handing down a decision, said that that decision would be made available in the languages of the people who had been concerned in the dispute and who had been encouraged to come and work in this country. I have considerable sympathy for the problem that has been raised by the honourable member because in a survey of several thousand factories not so long ago it was found that the highest incidence of industrial accidents was being sustained by recently arrived workers. When we looked into this it was discovered that the main reason was that adequate advice on safety measures, expressed in the languages of the people concerned, was not displayed in factories. It was also pretty obvious that having been injured, many of these people were not aware of their compensation rights. I think the suggestion advanced by the honourable member has considerable merit. I will certainly confer with the Minister for Labour to see whether we can do 2 things. The first is to ensure that the example set by Mr Justice Moore is followed by all his colleagues in the Australian and State spheres, wherever relevant and possible. The second is that we should try to make a renewed effort to see that newly arrived workers know their rights and responsibilities in terms of their awards and all the protections which they can call upon when they need them.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security a question concerning a report in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of 22 October relating to a reserve health plan if this Parliament rejects the Government’s national health insurance legislation. That mysterious body Federal Government sources’ was quoted to have said that an alternative scheme would not need legislative approval and would operate through grants to the States. Can the Minister give the House an assurance that in the event of the national Parliament rejecting his health scheme he will not resort to surreptitious moves through grants under section 96 of the Constitution and implement for the nation a scheme which the national Parliament has rejected.
– The newspaper report to which the honourable member has referred was not based on any statement released from my office to the Press. So I accept no responsibility for what might or might not have been said in the report. I did not see the particular report to which the honourable member has referred. I point out that the health insurance program which we are putting forward is a scheme to raise money from the community which will be distributed back to the community to cover the cost of medical and hospital services. It is a scheme which, of course, contributes towards public ward treatment in public hospitals but it generously supports private endeavour - or private enterprise if we want to put it that way - in medical services and hospital services. For instance, it generously supports the charitable and religious hospitals in the community. One of the alternatives to the scheme we are putting forward which I have seen is that the Austra lian Government could enter into bilateral agreements with State governments and proceed exclusively with financial support for public hospitals, upgrading the public ward side of public hospitals and providing a free service without means test. If that were to happen the improvement in quality would be exceedingly great. I have no doubt that would be to the grave disadvantage of private hospital services and, to a large extent, private medical services in the community.
But that is not the program we are putting forward. At this stage we are putting forward a universal health insurance program which, as I have mentioned to honourable members, supports private enterprise in medical and hospital services as well as public enterprise. It is a very generous program. We will be proceeding with that legislation in this House in a matter of some weeks and in the Senate. I suggest to those people outside and to some here who are trying to mispresent for base political motives alone what our program involves that they are doing a grave disservice to the private side of medical and hospital services. What we are putting forward in fact generously supports that section of the health delivery system whereas, for instance - I cite this only as an example - the sort of alternative which was put forward in the ‘National Times’ would not be helpful at all. In fact, it would be to the disadvantage of the private sector.
– My question directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General arises out of the question directed to the Treasurer by the honourable member for Hawker on Monday concerning the 1972-73 annual report of the New South Wales Consumer Affairs Council and Consumer Affairs Bureau. Does the report make strong criticism of the role of finance companies in the sale of money? Does it state that many companies exceed the normally accepted role of finance companies and traffic in debt to the great detriment of the consumer? Does the Government accept these criticisms and, if so, is there anything it proposes to do about the situation?
– I am familiar with the newspaper reports that relate to the annual report of the New South Wales Consumer Affairs Council and Consumer Affairs Bureau. It is true that that annual report states what the honourable member has said. The Commission came out strongly against and criticised the activities of certain finance companies in the area of extending finance of a consumer kind. I think the most depressing thing about the whole situation of reform of the consumer credit position as it exists throughout Australia is that it has to be left to the various States. This is something for regret because one has only to reflect on the fact that there is one common form of consumer credit available throughout Australia - we are one nation in that regard - yet we have the situation where each of the States individually and separately has to look at the problem and find its own solution. We have the bizarre, odd and crazy consequence where there are 6 different solutions to one problem. If one adds to it the role of the Australian Government where it affects the Territories one could conceivably get 7 or 8 different solutions because the Northern Territory goes its way and the Australian Capital Territory its way. One gets a most unworkable situation. This has been the subject of study in recent years. The Molomby report has directed strong attention to the need for a single common form of chattel security. But the trouble is that the States are unlikely to reach agreement on it. As the Attorney-General said the other day in the Senate, the workings of the various Attorneys-General of the States and Commonwealth can achieve only so much. When one reflects that chattel securities can take the form of hire purchase agreements, which are different in all States and Territories, post-dated cheques, bills of sale, mortgages, forms of guarantee, forms of indemnity, leasing agreements and various types of liens, one appreciates that there is a situation in which credit security, which is so important in Australia as a whole and which is in great need of ‘ reform, cannot be reformed by the one Parliament that can do it in a proper way, and that is this Parliament. I know the Attorney-General is working on it and doing his best but it is a matter for regret and, I think, depressing that we in Australia are at present in this unfortunate situation in which there can be 8 different lawmaking authorities producing this almost unworkable situation.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Is the increase in country telephone rentals causing great hardship to pensioner subscribers? Have they now to pay, with their one-third concession, $36.60 instead of $18 - an increase of 100 per cent? Will many pensioners find it most difficult to maintain a telephone service under these circumstances? Can the Minister inform the House of any provision by the Government to give assistance to these people so that they may be able to maintain essential telephone communication?
– The facts of the matter are that pensioners throughout Australia receive the same rate of pension. It matters little whether they live in the metropolitan areas or in the country, so the question of hardship would not be related to telephone rentals because they would be paying the same rentals now in view of the recent adjustment. There has always been the problem in the telephone revenue position that the Post Office has to live within its own revenue. The plain facts of the matter are that it costs about $1,600 to provide a telephone service in the metropolitan areas and $3,600 in the country areas. Accordingly, the Postal Department having to pay interest on the capital outlay, it follows that the rental paid goes nowhere near meeting the interest charged on that outlay. The question of concessions generally comes within the administration of my colleague the Minister for Social Security. Further to that the whole question of tariffs is under consideration by the Commission of Inquiry, and I am certain that it will take this matter into consideration when it produces its report.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Is there a substantial surplus of hostel accommodation following the drop in the numbers of migrants coming to Australia? If so, what does the surplus amount to and what use will be made of this surplus hostel accommodation?
– The utilisation of hostel accommodation has been under constant review with my colleague the Minister for Housing who has direct responsibility for the care and control of hostels.
– I rise on a point of order. Does Commonwealth Hostels Limited come within the responsibility of the Minister for Immigration?
– No, it comes under the responsibility of the Minister for Housing.
– Can I help the honourable member in relation to the point of order. I have the responsibility of notifying the Minister for Housing of my requirements as Minister for Immigration. What the honourable member for Scullin is asking is, in fact, whether my requirements exceed or are less than the accommodation available, and I am attempting to answer that.
– The Minister may proceed.
– As I was saying in relation to hostel accommodation, in the last few months a number of hostels have been declared surplus to requirements; they comprise four in New South Wales, one in South Australia and one in Victoria. I might say that this is about the same number as was declared surplus to requirements by the previous administration. So there has been in fact a contracting of hostel accommodation that was held, in some cases, for over 20 years - and the standards of course were just not acceptable in 1973. But at present there would be hostel accommodation for some 10,000 migrants coming to Australia. We would normally hold more than 10 per cent above planned intake in case of variations caused by national need or by other changes for which we must provide. Incidentally, I would like to see one of these hostels set aside as an orientation centre so that a better and more sound introduction to Australian life and responsibilities can be given to people coming in and who are in need of some training in that direction. The honourable member can be assured that hostels that become surplus to requirements are released for other purposes. That has been done and I will continue to work closely with the Minister for Housing to ensure the cip ti mum utilisation of the accommodation available.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that the loan raisings for the latest Commonwealth loan are 19 per cent lower than for the November, 1972 loan and 30 per cent lower than for the July loan this year? Is it true that the November loans over the last 2 financial years have raised more than the first loan in each of those years? If the Minister agrees that these are the facts, how does he reconcile them with his statements to the Press that the latest loan raising represents a significant contribution towards the Government’s objec tive of reducing excess liquidity in the economy? Do the results of the latest loan imply that interest rates will be further increased by the Government.
– I am afraid that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is falling for the same selective use of facts as does the Leader of the Opposition. The recent loan was the second highest ever recorded for that particular time. It was not as high as the loan in October last year. On the other hand, the loan raised in July this year was the biggest ever in Australia. The interesting thing about the loan - I suggested to the former Prime Minister that he should wait until the loan was over before he asked a question - was that the major part of it was taken out at the long end, not the short end. In my view that indicates satisfaction with the rates. I would say hopefully that the rates have peaked.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development by congratulating him on the magnificent personal achievement symbolised by yesterday’s signing of the Albury-Wodonga agreement. I ask him a question about the Government’s plans to purchase, subdivide, service and make available at cost residential land. What has been the progress in the negotiations which have been taking place? When does he anticipate legislation to be introduced in the State Parliaments? When does he expect the program to begin to bite on the price of residential land?
– For the past 9 months officers of my Department have been negotiating with the States in regard to the Prime Minister’s promise to set up land commissions. The land commissions will vary from State to State. It has been agreed now by the respective State Ministers that land commissions or their equivalent will be set up in each State. We hope that the matter will be finalised and legislation introduced before the end of this session. We hope that we will then be able to get under way with .the spending of some of the $30m that has been made available in this year’s Budget. The States will be able to enter into contracts for up to $60m this year.
There has been good understanding between the States and the Australian Government on this matter. At first there was a lot of confusion over the level at which we should stabilise land prices. The problem is - whether in respect to the land commissions or our new city development proposals - that once the Australian or State governments notify their intention to nominate an area for study land speculators are able to capitalise on this knowledge. All the State governments have now agreed that there will be a form of land price stabilisation. That does not mean price control. What it means, in the case of AlburyWodonga, is that we will stabilise land prices as agreed between the Australian Government and the 2 State governments as at 3 October 1972. The price increase that would otherwise follow from the announcements by those governments of their intention to enter into these growth areas will not foe taken into consideration. The Victorian Government has already introduced legislation into the Victorian Parliament. The New South Wales Government has notified its intention to do so in the cases of Albury, Bathurst-Orange, the Campbelltown corridor and Wyong-Gosford. There has even been good understanding between the Australian Government and the Queensland Government. Might I say that there has been a remarkable achievement by the Australian and State governments in respect to urban affairs.
– My question to the Minister for Defence concerns the gathering of defence information. Does the honourable gentleman acknowledge that in the collation of information relating to this nation’s defence it is legitimate for the nation to use such sources as may offer relevant information irrespective of the political complexion of those sources? Has the Australian Government declined to receive information from South African naval intelligence because of the racial policies of South Africa? Will he give this House an assurance that in the gathering of defence information it will be defence exigencies which will be in command and not political prejudice?
– The Department of Defence has been prepared to consider advice. Indeed, it receives advice, considers that advice and, where it is appropriate, it uses it. I am now referring to those countries with which Australia has been associated traditionally in terms of our defence requirements, particularly the United Kingdom, the United States of America and some other countries. The honourable member has referred to the situation concerning South Africa. Although I have no knowledge that advice has been received by the Defence Department from that country, my own assessment would be that this would be a matter which would concern the Prime Minister as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Finally, let me say again to the honourable member that any information or any request that came from South Africa concerning naval units - I think this is what the honourable member has in mind - would naturally be referred, as are many other instances concerning exercises, to the Department of Foreign Affairs. There is nothing unusual about this. Those honourable members who are now in the Opposition who had some association with the defence forces of this country would recognise that this was the proper procedure. Let me say finally to the honourable member that any advice which is received from those countries with which Australia has a traditional relationship in terms of defence naturally receives the consideration to which it is entitled.
– Has the Prime Minister noted that both the Minister for Labour and myself advocated fortuitously in different parts of the country at the same time yesterday - I admit without any prior consultation - consideration of the reintroduction of quarterly cost of living adjustments? Is it a fact that if these quarterly adjustments are to be reintroduced by legislation then a ‘yes’ vote would be needed for the incomes question in the referendum to be held on 8 December? Has the Prime Minister noted the excellent antiinflationary effect of such a policy, for instance in Belgium?
– If the Australian people on 8 December give the Australian Parliament the power to make laws with respect to incomes, the Australian Parliament will be able to legislate to introduce periodic cost of living adjustments to wages and salaries. The States have such a power in respect of employees who are not covered by awards of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The New South Wales Parliament has legislated for quarterly cost of living adjustments to be made in respect of such persons in New South Wales. There can be no doubt that one of the factors which militates at present against negotiated agreements for wages and salaries is that the agreements can be nullified by inflation. It would be desirable to have the same commitment by the Australian Government to make periodic adjustments in wages and salaries by statute as the present Government is committed to make in pensions. This would be a very great contribution to social justice and industrial harmony. This is an illustration. Another illustration would be equal pay. If the Australian Parliament achieves the power to legislate with respect to incomes which, of course, not only Belgium but every country one can call to mind already has vested .in its national parliament, we can make a great contribution to the good government of this country.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, refers to the purchase by Mr James Mollison of the painting Blue Poles’ for $1.3m. The painting was purchased for the National Gallery from a gallery in New York. I will not ask how the painting was made or about the merits of it, which I cannot comprehend. What I do ask the Prime Minister - I would be happy to receive an answer in writing if he is not able to give it now - is: How was this choice made? Was it solely in the hands of Mr Mollison or is there a panel or a board to make a judgment? Secondly who has the responsibility for an expenditure of this magnitude? Thirdly, could the Prime Minister make available all the information regarding the dealers and the agents involved in this purchase?
– If Australian galleries were limited by the comprehension of the right honourable gentleman they would be very bare and archaic indeed. The painting ‘Blue Poles’ was inspected by Mr Mollison, among others. It was recommended by Mr Mollison, among others. Mr Mollison was appointed by our predecessors. I did not cavil at his appointment then; I do not now.
– A good appointment.
– I agree with the honourable gentleman and I believe that most members of the House would agree with him and with me about the quality of that appointment. The honourable member for Kennedy is interjecting. I welcome his interest in art. I have given an answer in writing on this matter already, in response to a question which was asked in the Senate.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Premier of Queensland has recently returned from abroad and levelled serious criticisms at the Australian Government on the matter of inflation? I ask the Prime Minister whether the Premier of Queensland has made any constructive suggestion as to action which the Commonwealth should take and whether the Premier has offered the cooperation of the State of Queensland’ in any area where the Commonwealth has taken action already.
– I have some faint inkling that the Premier of Queensland made some criticisms of the Australian Government. He is, of course, alone among Australian Premiers in criticising the Australian Government when he is overseas as well as when he is at home. I suppose the country suffers from the fact that this Premier goes overseas more often than any other. The honourable gentleman has not taken any initiatives to curb inflation which lie within the hands of State governments. For instance, State governments have always been able to stabilise the price of land. There are no constitutional limitations in this area because a block of land cannot be carried across a State border. The Queensland Government has been notably tardy in exercising its authority in this matter. Again, Queensland’s governmental expenditure would be very much better directed if the Queensland Government were to seek the advice of a body, as the Australian Government did, such as the Coombs task force. It is well to point out that the extravagant, archaic, anachronistic expenditures by Australian governments are principally those by State governments. The Queensland Government has done nothing to update its practices.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Services and Property and relates specifically to the administration of his portfolio. My question is based on the book ‘Labor to Power’ which reveals that the somewhat narrow Australian Labor Party electoral victory of 2 December last was due largely to a lavishly financed, skilfully contrived and quite unscrupulous public relations campaign directed by an agency, Hansen Rubensohn-McCann Erickson Pty Ltd, which is a multi-national corporation 100 per cent owned from New York and which, incidentally, still acts for the Australian Labor Party and is privy to its plans. I ask: In drafting the legislation which he has forecast to this House will he include a provision prohibiting the participation of multi-national corporations in Commonwealth politics either as agents for political parties in election campaigns or as agents for underground public relations activities between such campaigns?
– According to what the honourable member has said here, he sleeps with his eyes open and talks with his mouth shut. Let me say that I understand that the advertising company was a purely Australian company that was taken over by a multi-national corporation during the time of office of the Government of which the honourable member was a Minister. I advise him that the multinational company to which he referred is totally different from those which subscribe to Liberal Party funds. We pay it, it does not pay us.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Transport been drawn to an answer given in the Victorian Parliament yesterday by the Victorian Minister for Public Works, Mr Dunstan, about dry dock facilities at the port of Melbourne in which Mr Dunstan is reported as saying that the background to the answer is littered with Commonwealth Government indecision, apparent disinterest, procrastination and cancelled appointments? Can the Minister for Transport say whether there is any basis of fact in that answer, and can he inform the House of the facts?
– The answer yesterday by the Victorian Minister for Public Works to a question on notice in the Victorian Parliament about our handling of the dock situation in Victoria has been brought to my attention. I think one should take note of the events in the years preceding the election of this Government.
– Why do you not retire?
– I have no intention of retiring, or resigning either. One should look at the record of the Victorian Government and of the present Federal
Opposition when it was in Government. In July 1970 an interdepartmental committee was set up to examine a request by the Newcastle State Dockyard, through the New South Wales Government, for assistance to build a dock in Newcastle. I have been informed that in December 1971 the Victorian Government made representations for assistance to the then Liberal Government and that this request went before the interdepartmental committee which reported on the matter in April 1972. I believe that it was not until August 1972 that the Premier of Victoria was informed that no money was available to assist Victoria in the construction of a dock. Under the former Liberal Government Victoria was not going to get any money to assist in the construction of a dock. But at least this Government has offered to provide finance and hold an interest in the dock commensurate with the amount of money that we contribute. If we pay for the lot, we will own the dock. If we contribute 50 per cent of the costs, we will hold a 50 per cent interest in the dock. - There are a number of errors in Mr DunStan’s statement. I do not want to take up all the time that is available for question time in replying to these errors but the facts are that we made a decision in March that we were prepared to make a contribution for the construction of a dock in Newcastle and also a dock in Victoria. In May of this year the Victorian Government asked that a committee, comprising 3 representatives to be nominated by that State and one representative from the Federal Department of Transport, should examine docks overseas. The members of that committee are responsible for having held up this scheme between May and August of this year. It was not until August this year that the members returned and a report was prepared in the same month. I understand that on 24 August the position was summarised by the then Acting Premier of Victoria in a letter to the Prime Minister in which he said: The report on this study will shortly be submitted to my Government and will be followed by detailed submissions to the Federal Government regarding assistance for the dry dock.’ We are still waiting for those submissions.
That is the situation as far as this matter is concerned. The people responsible for submitting the report are holding up this project. I will admit to 2 things: One is that, as stated in the Press report to which the honourable member for Burke referred. I did cancel 3 appointments. The committee members did come to Canberra in August. I will be quite honest about it. I had not seen their report when they came to Canberra. They were due to come here on 12 July but both Mr Crean and myself were at a conference in Surfers Paradise. I plead guilty to that. Important decisions affecting this nation were made at that conference. On 11 October Mr Crean unfortunately was not available. I am « not blaming him for that because we all have our parliamentary and ministerial responsibilities. So rather than have those people come to Canberra I did cancel the appointment at 11.50 p.m. They were due in Canberra last Friday but that appointment was cancelled because a special Cabinet meeting, which required the attention of Mr Crean and myself, was called. I had 4 submissions to put before it. This afternoon, I will be meeting the New South Wales Minister for Public Works at 4.45 together with the Treasurer to discuss the New South Wales request and at the earliest possible date I will be seeing Mr Dunstan. We are aware of the urgency of this matter but honourable members should not forget that the Victorian Government was responsible for a 6-month delay which occurred in the middle of these negotiations.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Did cash subscriptions to the October loan amount to $266m? Was that amount $100m less than was raised in the July loan and more than $60m less than the cash subscriptions to the 1972 November loan? Were redemptions from the conversion loan the highest in recent history? Have the Government’s financial transactions resulted in a .record $988m deficit in the September quarter of this financial year? If interest rates have peaked, as he said this morning, how does the Government intend to mop up excess liquidity in the economy?
– I issued a statement yesterday disclosing full details of the loan. The Leader of the Opposition wants to deal with one loan at a time, but I ask him to add what was subscribed in the May loan, the July loan and the recent loan and compare the total with what was subscribed in any other 4 to 5 months period. I find astonishing the questions that are asked by the Leader of the Opposition, a former Treasurer. I regard this loan as eminently successful in the circumstances. Nearly half of the $260m-odd was taken at the long end, not long after we had filled the highest loan on record in July. Another interesting feature was that, taking small savers, what are called special bonds were the most successful on record. It is a pity that those sorts of things are not advertised in the Press more than they are. I regard the loan as successful. The sort of comparisons that the Leader of the Opposition is asking me to make are futile.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, as a matter of fact 1 do, by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) by inference. The Prime Minister, in sidestepping the question asked by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) in regard to the painting, ‘Blue Poles’, implied that I did not have an artistic temperament. I point out that one of my closest friends is Hugh Sawry who is perhaps Australia’s most outstanding artist. I recently had the pleasure of opening an art exhibition in Brisbane and I am informed that a local artist recently completed a work and that I have been ‘hanged’ with Ned Kelly on the wall of the entrance to the Cloncurry Shire Chambers.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the summary of resolutions and recommendations of the twelfth meeting of the Australian Forestry Council held at Brisbane on 8 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable members, I present a report prepared for the Australian Government Cities Commission by John Paterson Urban Systems Pty Ltd, Melbourne, entitled ‘A National Urban Framework’. As only a few copies of the report are available, I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library for use by honourable members.
– For the information of honourable members, I present a copy of the report on the conference of the Australian Education Council, held in Melbourne on 14 and 15 June 1973.
– Pursuant to section 10 of the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926-1949, I present the report of the Auditor-General on the accounts of the science and industry endowment fund for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report of the Director-General of Health on the activities of the Australian Department of Health for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the first annual report by the secretary on the activities of the Department of the Media for the period ended 30 June 1973.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That Government business be postponed until after consideration of Order of the Day No. 1, General Business.
Debate resumed from 23 August (vide page 303), on motion by Mr Scholes:
That this House is of the opinion that -
the site for the New and Permanent Parliament House should be determined forthwith.
a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Reprsentatives should be convened to determine the matter, and
planning for the new House should commence immediately.
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting its concurrence.
And on the amendment moved thereto by Mr Uren,
That all words after ‘That’ (first occurring) be omitted wilh a view to inserting the following words in place thereof:
This House is of the opinion that:
Mr DALY (Grayndler- Leader of the House) - May I crave the indulgence of the House to make a brief statement in regard to the procedure in connection with this motion. This is a very important debate. It is of importance not only to the nation but also to honourable members in relation to the facilities provided for them. There will be a free vote, as all honourable members understand. We on this side of the House have no desire to interfere with that or at any stage to curtail the debate. But it was suggested at our Party meeting this morning, and I understand it is acceptable to the Liberal Party, too, that the debate should run for about 2 hours. We may be able to finish it in that time. If honourable members who desire to speak - there may be many of them - confine their remarks to about 10 minutes we think that probably everyone who desires to speak will be able to do so. I just make that brief explanation to the Parliament and appeal for the co-operation of honourable members.
– In the brief time available to me, may I recall to the House in summary what I said previously. I believe that something should be done immediately. Honourable members are entitled to separate rooms. Let Austin have his swink to him reserved. We should do something immediately about the kitchens and provide better dining facilities, particularly for the staff and the Press. Some additional space is needed for the Library. But these are things that can be done now without any great changes to the existing structure and they should be done now. I believe that if they are done now there is no great urgency for a massive new Parliament House. This chamber has historical associations; it should be preserved. But if the urgency to do something commends itself to the House. I would prefer the plan that we proceed in stages and in that case, of course, the only possible site would be Camp Hill. But I believe that the site we presently occupy is the best site in Canberra and the best site for this House. I suggest to honourable members that we look to these immediate improvements which should be made, particularly the improvement of allowing each member to have a separate room. The kitchen should be modernised and the Library should get some - not many, but some - new facilities and space. I thank the House.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I support the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). It should be established immediately that there be a joint meeting of this House and the Senate to determine the matter once and for all time. I think it is quite improper for this House immediately to declare where it would site the new Parliament House. I think it is a matter for decision by the joint Houses. We should not thrust our views upon a joint meeting but we should be able to go along and in discussion with honourable senators determine the siting of the Parliament, the manner in which it is to be built and whether we approve of the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I reject his suggestion because I believe that that type of construction- completing the building in stages -would be most undesirable. I ask the honourable members to contemplate what would occur for, if the Camp Hill site named by the Minister is selected, it means not only that this Parliament House will be demolished but, in addition, that East Block and West Block will also be demolished.
It is extraordinary that at the present time we, who are so frugal in our dealings with the people who operate our postal service and such things, should be contemplating building the new and permanent Parliament House on Camp Hill, which would require the demolition of the present Parliament House, which only recently has been extended to provide the Prime Minister’s suite - the paint would hardly be dry - and on which some $3m has been spent over the last few years. To demolish this Parliament House would be a brand of national vandalism, and honourable members ought to think carefully as to their attitude on this matter. It may be said that East Block and West Block have served their purpose and that they could well be demolished to make way for the erection of better and more modern office accommodation. But I cannot subscribe to the demolition of this Parliament House on which $3m has been spent recently.
I want honourable members to consider the various inquiries which have taken place in regard to the site for the new and permanent Parliament House in order to try to work out in their own minds just what has occurred in the past. If they do that and if they are called upon to make a decision subsequently I think they would declare for Capital Hill, because Capital Hill is the focal point of the national capital. It is the site on which the Australian flag flutters gaily in the breeze. From Capital Hill one has a commanding view over the whole of the national capital. Those who object to the Capital Hill site have made some extraordinary statements. They have said that it is too high and that Parliament House would look out of proportion up on this high hill. A few members of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, of which the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) was a member, expressed a different view. The Committee was told by the National Capital Development Commission that the Capital Hill site would be unsatisfactory, that too much would be required to be taken from the top of the hill and that subsequently it would not be high enough. What a conflicting story. What an extraordinary statement to be made. One group says that Capital Hill is too high and another group says that something will have to be taken from the top which will make it too low and Parliament House will not be seen.
These arguments in regard to Capital Hill are illogical nonsense. Capital Hill is in a commanding position. A Parliament building could be established on top of it. It is a most desirable site because it would allow for vaults and rooms to be provided well beneath ground level, as they should be in a Parliament House. These rooms would provide storage space for documents and places in which
Ministers may work safely in time of war. All of these matters, in my opinion, offer a compelling argument for the selection of Capital Hill. It is centrally located and it can be seen from any part of Canberra.
The view from Camp Hill, on the other hand, will be obstructed in the first place by this present Parliament House, unless it is demolished, and by other structures.
I want to put to the Parliament the importance of space. Quite frequently our experts who sit in their offices talk about small buildings being thrust side by side with other buildings. The type of building I want to see in this national capital of ours is a building of imagination, a building of architectural grandeur, a building of great scale embodying the great qualities of stone and . marble and the timbers of our country so that we will have something which will be commendable, which will be an attraction, and which the world would like to see. Surely we can plan something of this kind. Having decided on the location of the new and permanent Parliament House, I do not support the view that we should proceed immediately with its construction. I believe that this present building can last for a considerable time, and we ought to be using this building. Having decided on the location of the new building, we should commence to plan it carefully.
Let us consider the area of land available on each site. We are told, of course, that Capital Hill is not a desirable place, but it is of greater acreage than Camp Hill. Capital Hill, which is located inside the ring road which was built since the last inquiry, has 81 acres compared with some 60-odd acres on Camp Hill taking in the whole of the adjacent countryside. Capital Hill, if taken to include the adjoining area outside the ring road, occupies 130 acres. So, I put it to the House that Capital Hill is the most desirable place.
Honourable members ought to recall the selection of capitals in other countries. George Washington selected a site of 130 acres for Washington. To date the Capitol in Washington, the capital of the United States of America, occupies 155 acres. Yet Camp Hill with only 47 acres on the hilltop itself is being put forward seriously to honourable members of our country. Australia is a land of 3 million square miles and we are being asked to accept this petty area of land at Camp Hill as the site for the new and permanent parliament house. The other suggestion made is that we ought to build the parliament house in stages. I remind honourable members that in Melbourns the Parliament House was commenced a long time ago, a further stage was built there some 100 years ago and now the final stages are to be built. With the changes of government that occur and with the fluctuations in economic fortune the building may be commenced by one government and there may be a change of heart by another government, just as there has been in regard to the selection of a site.
The Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra found in favour of Capital Hill in 1955. Two years later the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives inspected the areas again, and again came down in favour of the site on Capital Hill. Capital Hill is the obvious place for the location of a new and permanent parliament house. I can only hope and trust that this Parliament will not be niggardly about this matter and will not commit an act of national vandalism by demolishing this building while it is asking other people to economise. We will maintain this building as a meeting place, as a conference place and as an assembly place for the visitors who may come here and for the various departmental meetings which must inevitably occur in a growing national capital. In my opinion the case for Capital Hill is overwhelming, but the motion does not ask honourable members to declare for that today. All the motion asks honourable members to do is to declare for a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives and to let the senators and representatives in their joint meetings determine the matter.
The Minister for Urban and Regional Development, who has moved the amendment, wants us to prejudge the matter now and to declare for Camp Hill. Whenever the decision is to be made my vote will be recorded for Capital Hill which I believe offers the greatest possible advantages for the building of a parliament house of which we would all be proud.
-I rise this morning to support the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I regard it as being a proper, responsible and down to earth suggestion. Before I launch into the proper reasons for that view I should like to remind the House of the key to the thought process of those who will support the Minister. It is outlined in clause (c) of the amendment which states:
The site for the new House should be on Camp Hill, to permit the use of the first stage in association with the existing building.
He then went or. approximately to duplicate the original motion put forward by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes).
The Camp Hill site meets the requirements of size, at 65 acres, of involvement with the rest of the design concept of Canberra, and of access. In the latter 2 aspects it is superior to Capital Hill and in the first, as the previous speaker, the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) said, is marginally less but nevertheless still quite satisfactory. In the case of directional character the Camp Hill site is markedly superior. It allows a wider variety of design alternatives with a probable saving in capital outlay - in other words, greater economic advantage to the nation, to the Parliament and to the design. Access advantages are similar, and can be studied by all honourable members if they look at the plans visible in King’s Hall. The access advantage is marginally greater than that of the present Parliament House and considerably superior to the access to a site on Capital Hill. This could no doubt be overcome but at considerable public expense in planning and constructing perhaps new underground and new arterial routes through to Yarralumla and beyond to the growing new suburbs of Mawson, Farrer, 0*Malley and others.
The present Parliament House costs the public of Australia $120,000 a year in maintenance and is clearly uneconomic. Both the mover of the motion, the honourable member for Corio, and the seconder have done the right thing, I am sure, in trying to resolve the matter, to hasten it through this House and to seek consultation with another place. I turn now to the internal structure of this place. Some areas can be described only as dungeons and others can be described as pigsties. They are of a quality not acceptable to officers, the staff or the members of Parliament at this time in our history.
A new parliament house as a total concept is a 10-year project of planning, design and construction and involves an assessed cost of $75m. This is a very large sum to find, even if spread over a decade as I have suggested. I am in favour of the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Develop ment who suggested a partial or gradual construction. This meets the needs of early construction on the one hand and practical reality in regard to funding and finance on the other.
I return to the problem of the two alternative sites and I want to quote what was said recently by the National Capital Development Commission. The Commission stated: _ An appropriate way to sum up the studies on visual eminence and symbolism would be to say that Capital Hill is dominant, detached and obvious. Camp Hil] is prominent and associated with other development in the triangle and with other public activities. [ add that the Commission obviously is falling over itself in an effort to be fair and impartial in that statement. Camp Hill is Burley Griffin’s site as part of the whole design of the centre of Canberra. Burley Griffin has brought nothing but lustre to the international fame of this national Capital and to the plea .-e of the people who live here. His dec. .on in this case obviously must stand and I support the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development.
Mr KEATING (Blaxland) 12.40)- I rise to speak in this debate a little confused by the issues related to the 2 sites on offer for the : cation of the new and permanent parliament house. When this debate was initiated a couple of months ago, I was persuaded by the proposition moved by way of amendment by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I certainly can see a lot of merit in that proposal on the basis that construction work would be carried out in stages and that this would reduce greatly some of the hardships faced by members with respect to accommodation. When work on the new building was completed, the present Parliament House building could be demolished and its chambers and the other attractive parts of it incorporated in the new building. I thought that that plan had merit. I think that it still does.
But I am persuaded to support the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I do so on the basis that I believe that finally there will not be left behind the Camp Hill site, should the new Parliament House be built on it, a grassy hill. In the original Walter Burley Griffin plan - he was successful in the competition which was held in 1911 for the design of the national capital - Walter Burley Griffin envisaged on the Capital Hill site an administration building and a general hall which was to be called
The Capitol’. The only support I have for my claim that any building will be erected on Capital Hill is the manner in which the National Capital Development Commission, with the concurrence of the last Administration, emasculated the Capital Hill site. By constructing a ring road around Capital Hill the NCDC frustrated any proposal by the Parliament to put the new parliamentary building on Capital Hill. If we determine to build the new parliament house on Camp Hill - the land available there is limited to 65 acres - I can see the day arriving in a few years when we will find that the grassy knoll which we envisage would remain behind that building will become the site for a general administration building for the czars of the Commonwealth Public Service. As far as I am concerned, that is not on.
It is most naive for the Minister for Urban and Regional Development and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) to believe that an expression of opinion today will not preclude any initiative by the Commonwealth Public Service to put a building there at some future time. If the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development provided that agreement to the Camp Hill site precluded any building being erected on Capital Hill, I would be persuaded to support him.
– You move an amendment to that effect and we will support it.
– If you move that amendment, I will support your proposal.
– You move it now; I cannot.
– Mr Speaker, may I move and amendment to that effect?
– Do not do that. It is a trap.
-Order! That cannot be done at this stage. Notice must be given of such action and copies must be circulated.
– in that case, I will continue in my present vein. The Camp Hill site, restricted as it is to 65 acres, is a very limited area.
The parliamentary buildings in Washington and Ottawa are inadequate already. Even though the buildings are quite grandiose, they are inadequate because the sites on which they are built are too small. So I am persuaded to believe that the 81 acres that is presently available at the Capital Hill site, within the circumference of the ring road, is a reasonably large area for the parliamentary building. Additionally, another 60 acres is available between the circumference of the internal ring road and the outer ring road. This gives a total of some 140 acres on that site. So we are comparing a Capital Hill site of 140 acres with an area of 65 acres available on Camp Hill. On that basis, Capital Hill must be selected.
The only section of the Capital Hill ring road system which can jeopardise the Capital Hill site is the butterfly road past the Prime Minister’s Lodge which leads to other areas of Canberra. That is the only section of the Capital. Hill ring road which could not be disturbed. The other sectors of it could be used. The internal ring road could be quite easily used as an access road to the parliamentary buildings themselves. There is no basis for anyone arguing that the internal ring road would be detrimental to the value of the site.
In returning to the proposal. I put this proposition: Firstly, we ought to support the site which provides sufficient area on which to erect a building which will be of value in the long-term. I do not think that an area of 65 acres is large enough. If honourable members choose the Capital Hill site they will allow this building to be kept in its entirety. Whilst many sections of it are not worth keeping other than just for office accommodation, I believe that this chamber, the Senate chamber and King’s Hall are worth preserving. We can preserve this building and not interrupt the view straight down across the lake and up to the War Memorial, which would be the view from Capital Hill, and at the same time have a large enough area to build a building that would accommodate both the House of Representatives and the Senate and expanded staff facilities for honourable members.
It is argued - I think, with some reason - by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development that if we do not proceed now it will be a long time before we get a building. I accept his argument. I can see the value of staged construction - constructing the office accommodation sections first and then getting around to the chambers; I can see a lot of merit in that. But I think that this building will be a very historic building. As far as the national interest is concerned, I do not think that the factor of inconvenience to the present members of the Parliament ought to weigh heavily against the choosing of the Capital Hill site to build a larger parliament building. If we look at the proposal in its totality, on the basis that the building will be constructed in one stage and not in several stages as proposed in the amendment, 1 think that would be worth doing. Even if it takes a few years longer to get around to a competition and to build it in one go, that will be a better result in the long run than siting it on that small area between the back of this building and the ring road behind it, which comprises 65 acres, and then having to demolish most of the sections of this building.
Let me go back to the original proposition 1 put up because I want honourable members to take some notice of it. I believe that it is naive in the extreme to think that Capital Hill will remain a grassy hill. I think that it will have a building on it. If my hunch is right, the people that I refer to as the czars of the Commonwealth Public Service will have their empire based up there on top of Capital Hill. If someone says that is not on, who would have believed that the building of a ring road around Capital Hill was on? Who would have believed that the Parliament would have supported that? But the Gorton administration did not worry about that. The road went there anyway. That Prime Minister overruled the decisions of this House and the other House on the siting of the parliament house on Capital Hill. That is worrying to me. If there were to be no building up there, the Camp Hill site would be adequate in terms of the aesthetics of the view around Canberra. But if there were a permanent parliament house on Camp Hill and another conglomeration on Capital Hill the aesthetics would be destroyed, the parliament building would be obscured by what would be above it, and I do not think that would be an acceptable proposition. If Walter Burley Griffin, the winner of the original competition, proposed a parliament house on Camp Hill and a grassy area on Capital Hill, to be left at that, I would say: Fair enough; I would not like to upset his design. But that was not his intention. His intention was for parliament house to be on Camp Hill and for a larger building on Capital Hill. The function of that building would be immaterial; Walter Burley Griffin’s choice as to the occupation of the other building need not be considered. The fact is that there would be 2 buildings, one on Capital Hill and one on Camp Hill. If that is to be the case, I submit that the building on Capital Hill ought to be the parliament house and not some head office for the bureaucracy. So on that basis I cannot support the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. I have no alternative but to support the proposition moved by the honourable member for Corio, which is that the question go to a vote of both Houses. Of course, both Houses have to decide it. Even if we decide here on Camp Hill, the matter has still to be considered by the Senate. It must go to a vote by both Houses. When both Houses decide, we let a competition for the design of the building to go on whatever site is chosen - I believe that Capital Hill ought to be and probably will be chosen - then we can proceed on the basis of erecting a building there. In much the same way a competition was let recently for the Sydney Opera House. Admittedly that took 14 years to build. Everybody talked about it in the past but now they are saying what a great concept and what a beautiful building it is. The period of 14 years has been forgotten, the cost will become cheaper as inflation makes the cost of buildings dearer, and people will say: ‘Why did we not have a couple of them?’
There has been talk about delay and inconvenience to members, but they really are not very strong arguments. What is at issue, and what is the main consideration, is the quality of the building that goes on Capital Hill or on the site which is chosen by the two Houses of the Parliament. The quality of the building will not be impaired if we commence now a competition for the design of the building and construct it in one go, not in stages. For that reason I believe that I should support the proposal made by the honourable member for Corio, and in supporting his proposal I indicate to honourable members that when the opportunity comes to vote on the site I will vote for the Capital Hill site.
– Firstly, 1 support the soundly based and soundly worded amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), whose judgment and aesthetic sense of values are now impeccable and beyond reproach. Admittedly, the Minister has changed his mind. I give him full credit for having changed his mind and having written to each one of us telling us why he has changed his mind. Of course, he has changed his mind undoubtedly because he has done his homework. He has had occasion to look at the background of this matter and the early plans that were drawn for the national capital - the original concept of the late Walter Burley Griffin. The Minister also has had an opportunity to discuss with the city planners, the National Capital Development Commission, the reasons why the new and permanent parliament house should be sited on Camp Hill rather than on Capital Hill.
I want to add some emphasis to a paragraph in the Minister’s amendment. Paragraph (a) states: action should be taken forthwith to initiate the planning and design of the new and permanent Parliament House.
I think most honourable members would agree that there is a great need for urgent action and decision to be taken so that the National Capital Development Commission can get on with the job of planning and actually building a new and permanent parliament house. I think I am right in saying - the Minister might correct me if I am wrong - that it will take 8 years actually to plan and complete the construction of stage I of the new and permanent parliament house.
– Is that on Camp Hill?
– That is on Camp Hill.
– With Capital Hill it will be pie in the sky.
– That is right. We are thinking in terms of 20 or 30 years into the future. The whole sense behind staging the construction on Camp Hill in accordance with the original concept as laid down by Walter Burley Griffin, and the whole purpose behind the Minister’s thinking, undoubtedly is that if we stage the construction we will be able to proceed forthwith, using the resources of the existing Parliament House and gradually moving some of the resources of the existing Parliament House into stage I of the new building when it is constructed, and then to proceed with stage II and stage III. If that line of action were followed it would not disrupt the normal activities of the Parliament. Secondly, it would enable much earlier construction and completion of a new and permanent parliament house.
In spite of the recent expenditure of $2m on extending the existing building which houses the Parliament, it is clear to all of us that there still are not enough facilities and room in this
Parliament House to serve the needs of the members and the people who have the job of servicing the Parliament. Members are cramped into ridiculously small offices with barely enough room for filing cabinets and with insufficient typing facilities. I share a typist with 17 other members of Parliament, having to queue up on occasions to get my typing done. I see our typists overworked, overloaded, using old typewriters - not even electric typewriters for that matter.
– Perhaps I could interrupt to say that the order has been placed for them this morning.
– Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I am very pleased to hear that.
– The public would laugh if they knew what we put up with.
– This is true. The honourable member for Robertson put his finger right on the pulse when he said that the public would laugh. Indeed, I think the public has a degree of contempt for the way in which we have allowed the facilities to deteriorate here in the national Parliament. The Parliament is supposed to service the needs of the Australian people. Only yesterday I was astonished to look over for the first time some of the space that was available in the printing office downstairs. People who are working in this building are working under great handicap and difficulty, and so there is a great and urgent need not only to start with the construction of a new and permanent Parliament House at the earliest opportunity but also to build sections of it that will relieve some of the pressures on the people who are trying to work in this building. When Parliament is in session something like 1,200 people are working in this Parliament House. There would not be a second rate business in Australia that would be trying to operate and conduct its affairs in the way in which members of this Parliament and the staff have to operate. So we have to look for ways and means of ensuring that we adopt a sensible course for the long term and a course of action that will enable the quickest possible result to get the Parliament House into a position where it can service in a tidy and orderly way the needs of the people of Australia. I certainly would not contemplate any further extensions or additions to the present building to try to overcome the immediate problem.
The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) quite rightly expressed some concern that if we built on Camp Hill the grassed areas going up to Capital Hill could be used for some other purpose. He mentioned their being used by public servants. I understand that when the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) was Minister for the Interior an assurance was given - I think a motion was carried to this effect in this House - that if the new and permanent Parliament House were to be built on Camp Hill the Capital Hill area would be reserved as a grassed area. I think it was a good point that the honourable member for Blaxland raised, and we should make sure that if a decision is taken to build the new and permanent Parliament House on Camp Hill, Capital Hill always will be reserved as an open grassed area. We should never allow any other building to be erected there.
The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has indicated to me that if we are to proceed with the building of the new Parliament House on Camp Hill, and if a decision is made in the next week or two at a joint sitting of both Houses in favour of Camp Hill, stage 1 would be completed by 1980, 6 years away. So that is the choice. We either start now and complete stage 1 by 1980 or think into the future of a new and permanent Parliament House going on to Capital Hill, to be finished probably by the year 2000. I do not think that either we members or the Australian people should have to wait so long for an adequate building to house the functions of Parliament. In the Walter Burley Griffin plan the centre of the city of Canberra is the parliamentary triangle, which he intended would house all the departments of government, with the Parliament House on Camp Hill.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the luncheon adjournment I was referring to the opinion and the plan of the late Walter Burley Griffin to which reference has been made. Evidence presented to the Parliamentary Joint Statutory Committee on Public Works in 1923 showed that Griffin consistently advocated the siting of the parliamentary building on Camp Hill. In many of his reports he expressed the view that Capital Hill was unsatisfactory for this building. Surely we should show some respect for this wonderful architect and planner who gave birth to the concept of the Canberra plan.
– What about the Lake site?
– I must reply to the honourable member for Corio because I think it would be quite ludicrous to have the Parliament House on the Lake site almost adjacent to the High Court and the National Library. I certainly opt for Camp Hill. Griffin opposed the building of the provisional Parliament House in front of the site on Camp Hill shown on his plan for the permanent Parliament House. Camp Hill was shown as the site for Parliament House in Griffin’s last amended plan of 1918. In 1925 this site was included in the statutory plan of the city of Canberra and its environs. Griffin’s design of the parliamentary triangle used Camp Hill as the natural and functional climax to the parliamentary group of buildings. In Griffin’s view Capital Hill is unsuitable for a permanent parliamentary building. A satisfactory treatment of the crown of Capital Hill was seen by Griffin as no more than a series of steps and ramps.
The triangle has its apex on Capital Hill and is bounded by Commonwealth Avenue, Kings Avenue and the Lake. It includes the land access running from the summit of Capital Hill to the summit of Mount Ainslie. The Camp Hill site has access to the internal road system which also serves the National Library, the High Court, the National Gallery, yet to be built, and government offices. Points of access to Camp Hill are available also from the major avenues and State Circle. The existing road pattern of central Canberra is based on the original Griffin plan concept. The current plan for metropolitan Canberra envisages a reduction of traffic pressure on the central area road system by developing town centres, expanding the metropolitan area, and progressively developing peripheral parkway systems connecting town centres and Canberra City.
By adopting a staged process for the construction ofa new and permanent Parliament House, it would be possible to provide stage 1 by December 1979. Final stages could be completed when financial circumstances permitted. I do not know the approximate cost of stage 1 but when I was Minister for the Interior—-
– It was $24m.
– That was the figure I was given last year. This cost is possible only if Camp Hill is the site of the new and permanent Parliament House. This site would provide not only an opportunity for early alleviation of accommodation shortages but also an excellent setting for Parliament House within the parliamentary triangle. An area of some 55 acres would be available as a grand forecourt to Parliament where people could assemble, gather and camp for reasonably short durations in order to press their cause, as the Aborigines who are camping on the lawns opposite Parliament House are doing at present. Of course we want an open space in front of Parliament House for people to assemble or gather. If a decision is made in favour of Camp Hill, we will see the completion of a design competition and construction and occupation of the new building by 1980, whereas completion and occupation of a building on Capital Hill site will be more like into the dreamtime of the year 2000 or hence. The obvious advantages of the Camp Hill site and the points of view that have been set out by speakers in favour of the Camp Hill site, I am sure, strengthen the argument for making an early decision that will allow the construction of stage 1 of the building - concurrent with the use of the existing Parliament House - by 1980, thus enabling the Parliament to move into satisfactory and more spacious accommodation.
-I call the honourable member for Isaacs.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Speaker.
-I ask the honourable member for Blaxland to wait until this debate is finished before seeking to make a personal explanation. Limited time has been allocated to the debate and the making of a personal explanation would come out of that time.
– I feel that a great deal of the debate we have heard so far has been rather irrelevant to the issue we have to decide. Both the motion and the amendment call for a joint meeting of the Senate and this House to decide on the site of the new and permanent Parliament House. Many of the points that have been made so far really should, and presumably will, be put before that joint meeting. I reserve my remarks on the site for that joint meeting, on which the motion and the amendment agree. The amendment adds 2 suggestions - firstly, it suggests a particular site, that is, Camp Hill; and, secondly, it suggests a particular method of construction. It so happens that I agree with both suggestions.
I do not feel it is appropriate or necessary at this time for this House to decide on those 2 points. I would like to make my personal position clear. I believe that a new and permanent Parliament House is necessary. We have to look ahead to the many years that the construction of this new House will take. We must look forward to a much larger House of Representatives and Senate. Canada, which in population terms is about 30 years ahead of Australia, has a House of Commons of 260 members. I ask honourable members to envisage what this chamber would be like with 260 members in it. The facilities for the present members of this House are almost beneath contempt. We need much better facilities. We also need proper facilities for staff. This might induce the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) to provide us with that staff. He frequently uses the excuse of a lack of accommodation for his failure to provide such staff.
What we must also look at is the consequences of choosing a new site. The retention of the present building was rejected when the House, by an overwhelming majority - I agreed with the decision - turned down the lakeside site. The only way in which the present building could be retained would be if we were to choose the lakeside site. Once either Camp Hill or Capital Hill is chosen this Parliament House must be demolished. Aesthetic considerations leave us with no other option. Let me make my position clear. I would prefer Camp Hill. The reason is a very simple one. Camp Hill was chosen by Walter Burley Griffin, the designer of this city, and every time this House has departed from the concepts of Walter Burley Griffin it has regretted doing so. For that reason, when it comes to a joint meeting of the Senate and this House, as I hope it will, I will opt for Camp Hill.
– I took the trouble to study this matter in great depth when it was debated in 1968. At that time I listened with great interest to the comments of men such as the present Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, who, like me, had studied the area. I went to the top of Camp Hill and I went to the top of Capital Hill. I took the bother to go to the top of Mount Ainslie and consider how the new and permanent parliament house would look from that position. I was left very strongly in favour of Capital Hill. The more I think about it and the more I drive past Capital Hill, I am more than ever convinced that God himself put Capital Hill where it is for the purpose of giving to our nation a position for its parliament house that would surpass any other position nature has bestowed upon any other country. It is a criminal tragedy for us to talk about having the new parliament house on Camp Hill. Why do we not go to the top of the area. That is where it ought to be. Parliament House is the pre-eminent building in Canberra. It is the most pre-eminent of all institutions in Australia. Capital Hill is the one place where we can build a new parliament house without destroying this one.
It leaves me cold to hear people talking about the fact that it will cost $120,000 a year to keep this Parliament House in repair. Even if that exaggerated figure were doubled, the cost of keeping this great historical record of our development as a nation ought not to be the thing to deter us from preserving it. Let us never forget that this very building in which we are now debating this proposition; this building in regard to which, if we erect the new parliament house on Camp Hill, there will be agitation for its destruction by people who talk about vistas; this building, inadequate though it may be and inadequate no doubt it is, is the building in which, in its corridors, in its chambers, in its libraries walked and talked and thought men like Bruce, Page, Scullin, Theodore, Lyons, Chifley, Casey, Menzies, Hughes, McEwen, Holt, Fadden, Curtin, Evatt, Ward, Calwell, Barwick, McMahon, Gorton, Anthony, Hasluck, Latham and Whitlam. This is a building in which future historians will give anything to be able to stand in the place where stood all these great men who will become greater the longer our history develops.
Camp Hill was selected by the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton. It was not selected by any decision of the Parliament. The Senate strongly objected to the Camp Hill site and the lakeside site and favoured Capital Hill. It is nonsense to say that we can guarantee that Capital Hill will remain a grassy knoll, to be looked on by the people with great admiration. Of course it will not. We can make a decision today that parliament house is to be built on Camp Hill, we can carry all the resolutions we wish and pass all the Acts of Parliament we wish, but there is nothing to stop the bureaucrats of tomorrow giving effect to the original concept by Burley Griffin for the bureaucrats to be sitting on top of the hill looking down on the parliament house. Do not think it will not happen. They will only need to be as successful in imposing their view on the thinking of a future Minister with authority over the siting of Parliament House as the present advisers have been on the thinking of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), and that is precisely what some future Minister will recommend. Let us listen to the words of the present Minister for Urban and Regional Development as reported in Hansard of 15 August 1968. He complained that the National Capital Development Commission had not given the members of Parliament who favoured the Capital Hill site enough information. He criticised the NCDC, and justifiably so, too. But when he became Minister for Urban and Regional Development they got at him and did the same job on him as they had done on the person who was previously putting the proposition. Let us listen to what the present Minister for Urban and Regional Development had to say about it:
I repeat that we should restrict buildings in the Government triangle and that the new Parliament House should be on Capital Hill so that from it there will be an unimpeded view.
That is what he wanted then. He continued:
We must determine to build a national building. The decision on the siting of the new Parliament House relates to the erection of a building with character. Honourable members should support the Capital Hill site.
It is nonsense to suggest that the bureaucrats will not get on to Capital Hill. Honourable members will not stop the bureaucrats from getting there by passing Acts of Parliament or meaningless resolutions which say that the bureaucrats will never sit on that grassy knoll. The only way to stop the bureaucrats from getting control of, and having their buildings on, Capital Hill, overlooking ours, is for us to grab it now and to stick our building on it while we can.
– I rise to order. Is it in order for the Minister to talk this way about my constituents?
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Some honourable members talk about the cost of repairs to retain the present House as a magnificent old historical building. Does anybody care about the repair costs for St Paul’s Cathedral? Does anybody dare say: ‘Pull St Paul’s down because it is costing £Stg1m in repairs?’ Did the people of West Germany say: ‘Let us pull down the Cologne Cathedral because it is costing £Stg8m in repairs?’ Of course they did not. Why was an amount of £Stg8m spent on repairs to the Cologne Cathedral? Why was £Stg1m spent on repairs to St Paul’s? The money was spent because the people had some apreciation of their history and they wanted to preserve it. We ought to have the same pride in respect of this House. What about the enormous amount of money that is spent on maintaining the Great Wall of China?
Honourable members opposite may laugh. But what about the money that the Russian revolutionists spent on the restoration of the Winter Palace and the Kremlin Palace, places in which the Czars had carried out their worst and most perfidious activities? The money was spent on those places because the people had a sense of history. Yet some honourable members in this place say: ‘We will not do it because it will cost a bit of money’. It is just nonsense for one of my good friends to say that we will not get a new parliament house until 2000 A.D. Of course that is what will happen if we go on wasting time as we have been doing over the past 5 years. The phrase ‘You will not get it till the year 2000’ is a good sort of a phrase to use because everybody shudders and says: ‘Well, I will not be here then’. My friend and colleague the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and I do not care whether we are here to see the new parliament house or not. The important thing is that when the new parliament house is built it will be a building of which we can all be proud, situated in a place that gives it pre-eminence over all other positions. I do not care - and I am sure that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development does not care - whether we are cheated, if you like to put it in that way, out of the right of sitting in the new parliament house. What the hell does it matter, so long as we get a building of which our grandchildren can be proud? But to put up a nissan hut, which is what is proposed now for Camp Hill, just so that those of us who are now members of this Parliament can go into it, throw our weight around and have big offices in which to sit is nonsense and we ought not to have a bar of it.
I believe that the capital of Australia was made for the Parliament. The Parliament was not made for the city of Canberra. The Parliament was not made for the civil servants and the bureaucrats who are pushing us around, telling us where the new parliament house will be located. The civil service concept is to get a parliament house down amongst all the other buildings so that the bureaucrats will no longer be in a position where, even in a physical sense, they will have to regard themselves as being below the Parliament which controls the country. An example of civil service bungling is the ring road around Capital Hill. The width of State Circle should have been doubled or even trebled. The engineer who put that death trap called the ‘ring road’ around Capital Hill ought to be sacked. Look at the money he was getting. He was one of the fat cats of the Public Service. He talked the then Minister for the Interior into allowing the ring road to be built. No one with any brains at all will go on to the ring road at certain times of the day or night. A person would have to be a lunatic to do so. A person ought to have his head read if he does that. Australia deserves the best, the most prominent and most eminent position for its parliament in the capital city of our great country. We ought to tell the bureaucrats to go to hell, and never mind about preserving the place up there so that one day they can con some future Minister for Urban and Regional Development by saying: ‘Look, Mr Minister, I have just discovered that Burley Griffin did say that there ought to be an administrative building on top of Capital Hill’.
– Ten storeys high.
– Ten storeys high. The Minister would say: ‘By God, thank you very much for telling me. How did anybody else miss that? Of course we must put an administrative block there. Would it not be great if we could put Parliament House there. But we cannot because that is already built.’ This is the time we must grab that wonderful site if we are going to have it at all. Honourable members should not fool themselves; the civil servants and the bureaucrats will be sitting up on that hill if we do not get there first. The proper and the only thing to do is to take the speech that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development made when in Opposition 5 years ago and listen to what he says now. Honourable members then will know what bureaucrats can do to Ministers. Do not trust Ministers; never place your trust in Ministers because always they can be soft-soaped by clever bureaucrats. In the National Capital Development Commission we have the cleverest bunch of bureaucrats I have ever seen because if they can twist a man of such stamina as my Cabinet colleague, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) into the gyrations in which he has been engaged during the last few weeks, they can do anything.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! I want to make it perfectly clear that this debate will finish at 3.35. If we start taking personal explanations we will only rob somebody of his time to speak to the motion. We will take personal explanations later.
– The subject of the new and permanent Parliament House has been raised on 3 or possibly 4 occasions since I ‘have been in Parliament. I will not bring to my speech the oratorical splendour of the speech of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) but at least on this occasion I do have an opportunity to speak, while on the previous occasions there was a 2-hour debate and this opportunity was not presented to me. At the outset I think I ought to say that I support the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I think his motion should be read because it illuminates the problem that besets the Parliament. This is what the honourable member for Corio presented to the House on 23 August last:
This House is of the opinion that -
the site for the New and Permanent Parliament House should be determined forthwith;
a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be convened to determine the matter, and
planning for the new House should commence immediately.
I believe that the reason the honourable member for Corio put his motion in that form on 23 August was to ensure that a decision was achieved. However, in the debate today no doubt it will be seen that the amendment of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) will be carried and we will be back to square one. We will send the amendment over to the Senate and the Senate will reject the amendment as it has rejected these things on so many occasions. We all know that the last time the problem of the new and permanent Parliament House problem was referred to the Senate it voted for Capital Hill 46 votes to two. The same situation will arise as a result of the amendment to this motion. It will go to the Senate and the Senate will reject it as it has in the past. So, I pay a tribute to the honourable member for Corio for showing us the way at least to avoid the prospect of this matter being pigeonholed for another 12 months or 18 months after which we would debate it again and again achieve no result.
I am surprised that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has changed his mind, as was mentioned by the Minister for Labour. I will not castigate him to the same extent as the honourable member for Hindmarsh did, but I will read some of the things he said in 1969. The honourable member for Reid started speaking at 9.47 p.m. and his speech appears in Hansard at page 1794. He was talking about the bureaucrats and said:
On the first occasion I said that the National Capital Development Commission was trying to use the Parliament as a rubber stamp.
This is what characterised his speech that day. He had been to Washington and he had seen a lovely view of the Lincoln Memorial from various aspects. He went on to say:
I remember how impressive it looked. I can envisage something similar in Canberra if the new parliament house is built on Capital Hill.
People will be able to look along Commonwealth Avenue or King’s Avenue and see a site similar to that of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
– Who said that?
– The Minister for Labour interjected and asked: ‘Who said that?’ It was said by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. One can hardly believe it, reading it in the cold light of this day. The present Minister for Urban and Regional Development went on to say on page 1796 of Hansard of 14 May 1969:
I hope that members of this Parliament will exercise their democratic rights and determine that the new parliament house should be built on Capital Hill. Then we will be able to plan correctly.
How right the Minister was then and how wrong he is today in instituting this amendment to the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I think a lot of things should be brought to the light of day concerning the new and permanent parliament house. Very few people on the Government side realise that when we came back for the 28th Parliament in February of this year 3 new members on this side of the House, because of lack of room, did their work for 6 months in the party room. This is the sort of arrangement that has to be put up with when one reaches Opposition and a new Government takes over. But it is all brought about by the fact that there is a lack of capacity in this building to look after the interests of all members of Parliament. As the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) said earlier. there will be more members of Parliament in Canberra in the years ahead. Can anyone envisage just how they will fit into this chamber on the one hand and into the. Senate on the other hand. I agree with the view expressed in 1969 by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, when he was the honourable member for Reid, that 7 avenues lead directly to Capital Hill and the 2 main avenues, Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue, indicate just where the parliament house should be.
In the evidence taken by the Committee set up by the previous Government it was mentioned that we should follow what Burley Griffin had initiated in 1923. I believe that after 50 years there are good reasons why we can alter at least this part of the concept that Burley Griffin had then. Evidence was given to that Committee that there were no engineers or sociologists in this Parliament. I have said subsequently and I repeat that I have been a chartered engineer since 1936. Therefore the evidence presented to that Committee was incorrect. I believe that the Committee should have ascertained whether there were in the Parliament sociologists, engineers or other people concerned with the erection or siting of the new parliament house. The evidence given to that Committee was incorrect. The Committee based its findings on a wrong premise. I agreed with the minority report put to the Parliament by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), who is now the Minister for the Capital Territory. I believe they were right in putting forward the minority report. I believe it was a correct report. They are now supporting what they contended in those days.
It seems to me that a few words ought to be said about the reasons for the new parliament house being established on Capital Hill. The reasons are obvious. There are 7 avenues leading to Capital Hill. Once people who wish to see their representatives get on to these avenues they can take a beeline to Capital Hill because they know that their representatives will be there. The area surrounding Capital Hill is almost 160 acres - at least it was before the ring road was constructed there I believe that the Camp Hill site is only 47 acres. Furthermore, East Block and West Block will have to be razed to the ground, as I understand it, and this building will have to be razed to the ground if Camp Hill is used.
If a new and permanent parliament house is established at Capital Hill at least this building will be saved for posterity for the reasons mentioned by the Minister for Labour. I am a great supporter of the Capital Hill site. I have voted for it in the past and I will vote for it on this occasion.
– It seems to me that in all of the words that are being used and in all of the speeches that are being made we are in grave danger of losing sight of the 2 propositions that we are called upon to consider and to vote on. The motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) has 3 parts in its first clause. He has moved:
And this is the first part of the first clause:
To that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has moved an amendment, the first clause of which contains 4 parts. The first part of the first clause in the amendment is, for practical purposes, identical with the first part of the first clause of the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio. The amendment moved by the Minister reads in its first clause:
In other words, let us get cracking. Let us start doing something. Let us stop talking. I have been a member in this House for only a little over 3 years. The subject of the new and permanent parliament house comes up all the time and we are no nearer now to resolving the differences than when I first entered this Parliament.
The second feature that the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio has in common with the amendment moved by the Minister is that there be a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate ultimately to resolve the matter. So, both propositions have those 2 fundamental proposals in common. What are we arguing about other than an expression of opinion on site - Camp Hill or Capital Hill. Let us not lose sight of the common features that both propositions have. Let us get started and let us have a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. I think that I must agree with what the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr
Hamer) said. It is at the joint sitting that the decision on the site will be made. Presumably, irrespective of what this House decides today, members of this Parliament will have a free vote at the joint sitting. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) has admitted that he has changed his mind once already on this subject. That is to his credit. He might well change his mind again when the joint meeting is held. But let us not waste time by arguing forever the matters which are in difference. There is so much in common in those 2 propositions.
The amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development goes on to express a preference for the Camp Hill site because of its obvious advantages. I support him in that regard, but I do not want it to be thought of as a red herring. It is distracting us from what we have in common. Irrespective of which proposition is carried, we hope that a joint sitting of both Houses will be held, that at that sitting the matter will be resolved, and that we will stop talking and do something. Let me put forward, but not as a red herring, the arguments why I believe Camp Hill should be the site ultimately selected. These are the arguments that I would put forward at the joint sitting.
It is estimated that if the Capital Hill site is selected the expenditure on the parliamentary building at the present day value of the Australian dollar would be $80m. I do not really think that any government - a Labor government or a non-Labor government - would be able to find that sort of money in the near future. So, we are faced with the practical proposition that if the Capital Hill site is selected at the joint sitting - I am not referring to what happens here today because I do not think what is decided here today matters - we are saying, in effect, now new parliament house shall be constructed. If a decision is taken - as both propositions agree - that the site should be determined forthwith, and Capital Hill is selected it would mean that no new parliament house would be built because no one could afford to do that with the greater and more important jobs which must be done by a government of any political persuasion.
If a decision for the Capital Hill site is reached, we must bear in mind one factor which the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) ignored, that is, the deplorable conditions under which this place operates at the moment. I am a Minister. I have 2 portfolios. I am Minister for Secondary Industry and Minister for Supply. Formerly, I was Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory. I have a total staff of 9 people. We occupy or are forced to work in about 400 square feet of office space. When I was a barrister, I had 400 square feet to myself. Now I share 400 square feet with 9 other people. I do not have a room to myself. My Press secretary and one of my advisers share a room that would not be the size of a lavatory in the average suburban home. It is about 5 feet by 6 feet. My private secretary works in a little room 6 feet by 4 feet. I have 3 steno-secretaries sitting alongside each other, and they work under those conditions from half-past eight in the morning until midnight on days when Parliament sits. They have to work in a room that would not be more than 12 feet by 8 feet, with their typewriters, filing cabinets and all the other necessary things. These conditions are just deplorable.
The building that we occupy looks pleasant from the outside. People come to this city of Canberra, in their millions, to admire their national Parliament. Nearly 2 million tourists a year come here. They go through King’s Hall and say: ‘How nice’. They sit in the galleries and look down and see us doing What ever they think we are doing. But they do not see the conditions under which the 1,200-odd people who work in this building work. The Parliamentary Library research people go up to and down from the mezzanine-type platforms almost by rope ladders. Members of the public should be taken in there to see the conditions under which they work. No business or group of professional people such as dentists, doctors, lawyers and accountants - no one anywhere - would work under the conditions under which these 1,200-odd people work in this place. Yet we hear people saying: ‘That does not matter. Let us carry on with it’. It does affect the quality of the decisions that come out of this place, and something must be done to put it right.
If honourable members press for the Capital Hill site at the joint sitting - it does not matter here now - it seems to me that, given the practicalities of it, there will not be a new parliament house. No matter how often honourable members say ‘We need one’, we will not get one because it will always be too hard and something else will always be more important. Political parties must take care of what the public demands they take care of. I refer to the needs of such things as education, housing, the cities that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development fights so hard to improve, law reform, combatting inflation and foreign affairs where this Government’s interests are affected overseas. These things have to be taken care of first. The whole experience of this place since 1927 surely has proved over and over again that, no matter how deplorable the conditions here are, we will put up with them because there are no votes in it - if that is the cynical view honourable members take - and we will do the things for which people outside will applaud us or the things that need to be done.
Let me stress again the advantages of moving to Camp Hill. Everyone agrees that both sites are good. Capital Hill is a good site. Of course it is a good site. So is Camp Hill. Burley Griffin, the original architect and designer of Canberra, opted for Camp Hill. I am not saying that we are tied to what a dead man - a great architect but now a dead man - once said should be done. We can change that decision. But it is some evidence that Camp Hill was deemed suitable at the time - and it is suitable. If honourable members look behind this place they will see that very pleasant hill - Camp Hill - and they will see the vista which is presented across to the War Memorial. Surely, as a -practical proposition, taking into account all the difficulties, no one will ever appropriate $80m or $10Om for a parliament house on Capital Hill. No one will ever build a parliament house which will involve an Opera House type expenditure and will take 5, 10, 15 or 20 years to build. It will just be put in the ‘too hard’ basket all the time.
– Oh, go on!
– Since 1927 and since the Minister came to the Parliament, no one has done it. And so the arguments go on. The proposition put forward by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development is imaginative and practical. It allows us to continue working here while we build another complex around us and up on the originally conceived Camp Hill site.
– Have you had a look at the site?
– Yes. It is a magnificent site. The people who naturally indulge in hyperbole or exaggeration say in support of their proposition that this place will be razed to the ground and the memories of Curtin, (Evatt,
Fadden, Ward, Calwell, Barwick, McMahon, Gorton, Whitlam, Bruce, Page and so on will be lost. I say that that will not happen. This place can be maintained. It can serve all sorts of other useful purposes. Indeed, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has virtually given an assurance to that effect. We could turn Kings Hall into a great place for naturalisation ceremonies and all manner of public gatherings. This chamber could be a central gathering place for groups that come from all round Australia, whether they be national groups, employers’ groups, industrial groups, trade union groups, professional groups or what-have-you. We could make this place into a piece of living history such as those the Minister for Labour described when he called on examples from overseas. He said that when overseas countries preserved their national memorials and national monuments they did not make them dead places. They did not leave them empty. They put them to good use so that the people of the country could go and use them. This place can be maintained, but it has surely outlived its use as a parliament house.
When I came into this place I shared a room with 2 other members. Three of us were in a room 15 feet by 8 feet. It was Jim Fraser’s old room. Three members of Parliament sat there. The telephones rang continuously. The proceedings in this chamber, which we know are relayed into our rooms, were broadcast on 3 different systems in that room. What chance was there to do any work? I repeat that the level, the standard of decision making in this place will decline, will be lowered and will fall away while we continue to put up with the conditions that exist here.
If we decide to have a new parliament house - and we are all agreed on that - let us press for a proposition that is realisable, that is practicable and that we can move toward. I have said all those things not as a red herring, although it seems to me that some honourable members who have spoken, perhaps not intending to do so, have introduced a red herring. The real expression of opinion on whether the site should be Capital Hill or Camp Hill does not matter in this place today. I personally believe that Camp Hill is the right site. But it does not matter because both the original proposition and the amendment call for an immediate start and they call for a joint sitting of both Houses. It seems to me that we should stop talking and get on with the business.
– I think that the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) has brought to the debate some very real points in that he points out very clearly that the differences between the 2 propositions before the House are not very substantial. I support the amendment as put forward by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) simply because I believe it presents a more practical approach to the problems facing this House. Firstly let me say that my main aim is to see action taken on this matter at the earliest opportunity. I am a comparatively new member of the House, and it absolutely surprised and staggered me to come to Canberra in 1969 and to find the conditions under which members of the Parliament and the staff supporting members of the Parliament had to work. I agree completely with the opinion of the Minister for Secondary Industry that the conditions under which people work in this place mitigate against effective decision making. I have spoken to a great number of members of Parliament and members of staffs who agree with me that the actual process of getting any work done while in the building is extremely difficult. The physical conditions under which one has to operate just make the performance of continued and sustained work very difficult.
I was very surprised at the approach adopted by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron). It was an almost paranoiac approach to the question before the House. I do not think that we should allow his personal fears to obtrude themselves into a debate of this sort. I do not fear the bureaucrats quite as much as he obviously does. I am not convinced by the argument that we could not guarantee that Capital Hill would remain not built upon. I think there is every reason to suppose that legislation passed by this House could effectively ensure that Capital Hill would remain a grassy hill. I would support the Camp Hill site only if I had that guarantee.
We can talk about aesthetics, but aesthetic appeal differs from person to person. I believe that the vista presented from Mount Ainslie, over the War Memorial, across the lake and up to Capital Hill would be destroyed if a building were erected on Capital Hill. I think the aesthetic appeal and the whole concept would be seriously damaged were any buildings - a parliament house or homes for bureaucrats - erected on Capital Hill. I am a supporter of the Camp Hill site. I am not convinced by those who argue for the preservation of the present Parliament House building. After all it is, and was conceded as being, a temporary parliament house. I have not heard any real reasons so far advanced why this building should not be demolished. A great deal of history has taken place within its walls but this applies to other buildings in Australia. I guess the most historic building in terms of the Australian national Parliament is that which housed the original national Parliament in Melbourne.
The argument for the retention of this Parliament House is not as strong as some would suggest. If it were to be preserved in my view it could be preserved only if it were made an integral part of the new complex. If it were preserved as a separate entity I think it would destroy the balance of the concept of the development of Canberra as envisaged by the architect Burley Griffin. If it is to be separated from the new and permanent parliament house by an appreciable distance, it should be demolished but if - I have no doubt that this could be accomplished - it can be incorporated into the design for the new and permanent parliament house, and this could take place only if the site chosen were Camp Hill, I would be inclined to agree with that incorporation.
I know that many honourable members wish to speak on this subject but, as the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) and various other people have pointed out, the object of this debate is to initiate action. We must all ensure that this happens. It is all very well for the new Minister for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) to say that he has occupied that portfolio for only a little while. He was Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for only a little while, so his permanency record has not been proven. I do not think that we can rely on him for action. I think we must all gather our resolves together to ensure that this very real and vital question is not dropped. Admittedly no votes are involved in this issue, but I believe that this nation would be better served if the conditions under which the national Parliament operated were improved. The conditions under which the national Parliament operates - I am not speaking just for members of Parliament but also for the staff and all those associated with the working of the Parliament - are archaic. Any delay will only exacerbate the problem. It will not only do that but, on a more practical note, it will also increase costs enormously. Work must get under way immediately. I commend those members who have moved this motion. I personally support the Camp Hill site and support the practical approach of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I do not think he should be castigated simply because of the paranoia exhibited by his fellow members of Cabinet.
– I must say at the outset that the one impression I am sure we in this chamber and the people in the gallery are getting today is that every member speaks in harmony about the urgency of this project for a new and permanent parliament house. But the urgency with which we regard the project is something that appears to have been common among members for many years past. Members of previous Parliaments have regarded the need for a new building with a great sense of urgency, but no government or no parliament has been prepared to take the initial steps towards that accomplishment. I congratulate the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) for producing a feasibility study. I was impressed by it when I received it. At that stage I believed that it offered the only reasonable alternative to proceeding immediately with this important building. But since then, I have had an opportunity to consider the question further and to some extent I have been influenced by the excellence of the display that the Minister has arranged in Kings Hall. I have come back to my original opinion and again confirm that I am a supporter of the Capital Hill site.
The display indicates that should we decide to adopt the method of construction as suggested as the most reasonable alternative by the Minister - that is, to continue using this building while the construction of a new building proceeds - Camp Hill is the appropriate site, but in my opinion it is not the ideal site. If the Camp Hill site is decided on I do not believe that the job will be completed any more than a year or two earlier than if the building were erected on some other site. Therefore, I opt for the Capital Hill site. In returning to that opinion- I must say that I agree with some of the thoughts that were put forward by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). I believe that should we not use the Capital Hill site we can never be sure that in the future that site will not be taken and used for some alternative project.
In dwelling on the need for a new building it is important to consider whether, in fact, as was suggested by the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, the actual planning and construction of the building will take as long as 10 years. I believe that we have architects, engineers, consultants and contractors of high calibre in Australia, who could undertake this project and build it in a maximum time of 8 years. I have spoken to people who are experienced in major construction jobs and from the experience that I have accumulated over the years I will not accept as fact that it is a 10- year project. I think that some of the times suggested in the schedule presented in the report of the Joint Select Committee could be shortened to the extent that we could have a completed building on Capital Hill within 8 years, should we now decide to proceed with it. For that reason and for other reasons that I have enumerated, I believe that the compromise of Camp Hill should not be accepted by honourable members.
It has been suggested that one of the important steps that should be taken is the holding of a competition. Again, I believe that this is something with which we should dispense. We have reached the stage where we cannot afford to waste time. Honourable members have explained the inadequacies of the accommodation in this present temporary building. The stage has been reached where the considerations and concern of members are such that the competition should be dispensed with, and an architect should be selected by the Government. In recent years architects have been selected to prepare plans and designs for some of the future important buildings for Canberra. I do not know why an architect could not be selected to design this building and handle the project adequately, without a time wasting competition.
One final point I make, which I think is important, is that the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) and others have suggested that this is not the time to be considering alternative sites but that the time for such consideration should be when the future debate takes place. This, we hope, will result from the carrying of this motion today. In supporting the original proposition put forward by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), I remind honourable members that the suggestion made by the honourable member for Isaacs and others - namely, that we will have an opportunity to debate this matter during a joint meeting - in fact may not eventuate.
I draw the attention of honourable members to a resolution that was passed by the Senate and transmitted to this House on, according to a notice I received, 6 May 1971. In its principal paragraph that resolution contains the same proposal as has been put forward by the honourable member for Corio; that is, that a joint sitting of the 2 Houses of the Parliament be held. But paragraph 3 of the resolution carried by the Senate goes on to say that at such a joint meeting there should be no debate on the subject matter of the alternative sites and that the question should be decided by a majority of votes. The senators apparently are quite satisfied that they have had ample opportunity to consider the alternatives proposed and have made up their minds that they would like to join with us in determining the opinion of all members of both Houses. The senators also are firm in their opinion that there should be no further debate. I believe that that is a matter which should be considered very closely by you, Mr Speaker, and the President of the Senate during your negotiations. I certainly would not like to see honourable members, on the occasion we meet, as I hope we will, with the Senate, denied the opportunity to debate this important matter of where the new and permanent parliament house will be constructed.
Let me repeat my concern for the situation that exists in this place at present with regard to the accommodation available to honourable members. Let me reiterate that on so many occasions in the past concern about it has been expressed by members of the various parties. It was brought to my attention just a short while ago that possibly the first reference to the construction of a permanent building was made as long ago as 1922. The construction of a permanent building was considered by the Public Works Committee in 1922, before this building was completed. So, even before members of Parliament moved into this building from Melbourne, the subject of the construction of a new and permanent parliament house was being considered. I know that it was suggested in the early stages that the memorial to the nation’s wartime achievements that exists on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin should be at one end of the complex and that a memorial to the nation’s peacetime achievements should have the dominant position at the other end of the complex. That would be, of course,
Capital Hill. Let me say that there could be no better memorial to the living achievements of the nation than the construction of a building to house the national Parliament on the dominant point of the national capital - that is, Capital Hill.
– I have been a member of this Parliament for nearly 7 years. During that time I have heard the matter of the site for the new and permanent parliament house debated by numerous people on 3 occasions. I do not think there is very much left to be said about the matter. I think it has been covered very adequately today. But there are one or two aspects that I would like to bring to the attention of the House. Perhaps they have been mentioned already, but I would like to enlarge upon them.
The comment that most impressed me today was one made by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) in which he placed emphasis upon the matter of space. The honourable member referred to the planning of the Capitol in Washington. Of course, we all know the great contribution made to the planning of Washington by the same Burley Griffin. The honourable member mentioned that the acreage of the complete administration area of Washington would be somewhere about the same as that of the space available on Capital Hill. Let me say at the outset that I favour the Capital Hill site. I am not terribly impressed by the argument about the greater accessibility of Camp Hill than Capital Hill. If that problem cannot be overcome, we are much further behind the times than I imagined we were. I am impressed by the argument about the space that is available.
We have spoken for some time about the inadequate facilities that are available to members of Parliament. They are inadequate, but they are not too bad. I am thinking not just in terms of the complex which will house Parliament and its staff - the great body of people who are involved in this great institution as the institution from which emanate laws which affect the life of each and every person in this nation. The Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) said that it would be rather difficult if we had to give the minute attention, thought and consideration that are demanded of those who legislate for the life of each and every person in this nation, as the matter goes beyond that.
As someone else pointed out, about 1 million people visit this city and probably come into this building each year. I think another 1 million should come in. I think in terms of our aged people and our very young people. I am not getting off the subject, Mr Speaker, because I am thinking in terms of the space available in the complex and the provision of conveniences for people such as our aged. When people get older they take a much greater interest in politics. They have more time to sit around and analyse what is happening in this nation. Politics is a talking point for them, and God bless them for it. Our young people also are showing more interest in politics. Not so long ago ‘Patriotism’ was not a popular word. God damn those who were responsible for that attitude growing up among young people. Fortunately, it is beginning to fade out. I believe that the bringing of young people to Canberra should be encouraged.
But how do honourable members think that I and others like me, who come from the far northern frontiers of Australia, feel when we see many young people coming to Canberra from Yass, Goulburn, Melbourne and places such as that and being taken through this House and having the great advantage - I do not want any comment on this - of seeing how their members of Parliament behave or misbehave, as the case may be. They have an opportunity to see the great legislative process taking place. But why should people from the far flung areas of this nation be deprived completely of such an opportunity, as young people or as elderly people, to visit this great institution? So we must think in terms of space. I do not think 130 acres is too much. That is one very powerful argument in favour of the Capital Hill site.
I commend the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) for bringing this matter forward. He has brought it forward in a form in which we can see some termination of the whole argument. It is not a nebulous sort of proposition whereby we will plan one section of the complex and then perhaps get around to planning the second stage and so on later. The honourable member for Corio has given us a decisive proposition. I commend him for doing so. I say that because of the experience I had as a member of the House Committee in trying to persuade those responsible to supply iced water in the dining room. It is not very. difficult to supply iced water in the dining room, but it took me 2 years to persuade the people concerned that water out of a tap or water that has passed through a refrigerator was not what we in the far flung parts of this nation call iced water. We now have iced water. I have no further complaints in that regard.
How long would it take to plan, call tenders and accept a tender for an institution of this kind? That is why I commend the honourable member for Corio in asking at least for a decision on this matter. Let us bring the 2 Houses of the Parliament together to make a decision; otherwise we will have to wait until the creaky old machinery of the Senate goes into action, and how long will it, take to produce a decision? Let us bring both Houses together and arrive at a decision. So I commend the honourable member for Corio in that regard.
I turn to the site itself. Everyone else has spoken about the site. Perhaps they have anticipated the final debate that will take place. What a bonanza it will be if members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are to be together here or wherever it may be. The joint meeting might be held in the Opera House. Speaking of the Opera House, honourable members should have a look at the space that is available around it. If one is not careful one will fall into the drink. So we should think in terms of space. As one approaches Canberra - I do not care where one approaches it from or how one approaches it - and begins to probe into the depths of the city area, or even from the environs of the city, the one aspect that hits one is Capital Hill. For that reason, that is where Parliament House should be. Canberra was selected as the seat of Government. The very heart of the seat of government is the building that houses the Parliament of this nation. Where would one find ia more prominent feature than Capital Hill? So if we want to talk in the aesthetic sense or in the sentimental sense, or merely to apply common sense we cannot go beyond Capital Hill.
My colleague somewhat doubted the great merit in retaining this building. It would be a very sad day for this nation if this building were to be demolished or interfered with in any way. I agree with the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) that it should be an active memorial, not just some great dead thing. I support the honourable member for Macquarie who stressed the aspect of space. We do not want only a building which will provide facilities for the actual Parliament and the people who attend us in this place; we want to have facilities available for all people of this nation so that they can come along and not feel that they are intruders. Do honourable members remember the notices which at one time appeared in the passageways ‘Strangers not admitted’? My Government did away with those objectionable signs. People come to visit this place; they own it; we are elected by them, and yet there were signs ‘Strangers not admitted into the lobbies’. What an objectionable thing this was. There is much more to the question than just the building itself and the functional operations of it as we understand them. We should erect the type of building that will offer a great welcome to the whole of the people of this nation. It should have special facilities for aged people and for young people, and some scheme should be worked out whereby both those classes of people could be brought to this national capital.
– One speaker after another has favoured Capital Hill. It seems to me that the proposal put forward by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) is eminently suitable. It preserves the present Parliament House. It would be impossible to do that if the new parliament house were erected on Capital Hill. The present Parliament House would completely ruin the view from that site and the only acceptable solution is to build on to this present site. I agree with the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) that any suggestion that this House be done away with would be a tragedy. We have had in excess of 50 years of parliamentary life in this House. Probably by the time the new parliament house is finished it will be 60 years. We have seen Prime Ministers such as Bruce, Scullin, Lyons, Menzies, Curtin, and Chifley, and here have been the great battles of politics over the greatest period of Australia’s early history, with the exception of that first 26 years since Federation. In these, I would say - perhaps I am being a little over-sentimental - hallowed halls, have been some of the great political battles.
Future generations of Australians will be very saddened if we desecrate this place by destroying it. The objectionable part about the Capital Hill site as I see it is that the erection of the new parliament house could be 15 or 20 years away, and with the program presented by the Minister this is something that all of us, with rare exceptions, could hope to see in our political lifetime.
– His plan means the demolition of this building.
– It does not mean that at all.
– It does. It is in the report.
– It means that this building can be retained. Ultimately a new parliament house will be built, but this building can be retained as a conference hall or as an historical museum. Even some of the honourable members in this House perhaps would like to be interred here so that people could come and say, for instance: “This is where the honourable member for Macquarie, in full flight, once stood’. Some people already regard it as a place where honourable members are interred.
I will not speak for very long. I think that the proposition put forward by the Minister is acceptable. It can be proceeded with immediately. It will retain all those good features of this House for future history and it will mean that we can get on with the job. All the other things, such as the inadequacy of the rooms, have been said over and over again. The present accommodation is quite hopeless. I bring visitors to my room and show them the little 8 ft by 8 ft room that I used to share with the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby). The mind boggles. Honourable members can imagine what it is like being left in one small room with the Minister for Immigration, who used to turn his radio on full blast, had an 1810 typewriter which he used and would have 3 Italian visitors from his electorate drinking wine while I was supposed to be preparing a speech for the next day. It was like being in a room with a cage full of cougars all going at once.
Now I am in another room on my own which is still only 8 ft by 8ft. When I take visitors there they look at me as though I am joking. They think that this tiny room to which I have taken them is the toilet; and this for a member of Parliament. Any self-respecting person in the business world would not have an office of that size. I have 23 visitors here today who are World War I veterans from the Central Coast. I would like to be able to take them to my office, but of course we could not swing a cat if 5 of us went in, let alone 25.
– Your speech has converted me.
– I thought the honourable member said something else, but I am glad that he said ‘converted’. I think this is the first time anybody has even been able to convince the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) to change his mind. It shows that he has a great deal of wisdom that previously he has kept well hidden. I think that all those inadequacies have been stated over and over again. I just want to repeat that the Minister has put forward an excellent proposition which I hope honourable members will support.
– If nothing else, this debate is a practical example of how this Parliament can work, with honourable members from both sides of the House representing all parties expressing opposing points of view. Together with the development of the committee system in this place, I think it is something that we ought to look to with a great deal of appreciation. I think it is undoubted that we need a new building. We need room for expansion, and to some extent what has gone on today is pretty much an academic argument. But I draw the attention of the House to the 2 motions that are before it, namely the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) and the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Developoment (Mr Uren). The amendment asks us to make a prejudgment concerning where we ought to have the new and permanent parliament house. I have my opinion, which is that on balance it ought to be on Capital Hill. But I again draw the attention of the House to the fact that the motion before us asks merely for a meeting with the Senate. I think that this is the right and proper way to approach the question.
– I wish you would tell the history before that and of the manoeuvring that went on.
– I think one of the ways to overcome the manoeuvring is to make sure that we all sit down together and discuss it on a reasoned and rational basis. What can be done about getting a new and permanent parliament house? We have heard, I think from the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), that it will be the year 2000 before we have a new parliament house if we do not make a decision to put a new and permanent parliament house on Camp Hill. I draw the attention of the House to the report which was brought down in March 1970 concerning the new and permanent parliament house and the time schedule which it gives, with no relation to site - I stress this - for the completion of the building, which is 9 years and 6 months; say 10 years. That is fair enough.
If we accept the situation that it will take 10 years to complete and if we also take into account that a building of this type will cost $100m on present day values, that would mean an expenditure of $ 10m a year. We are already spending a great deal of money on this place. I have been told that it is about $3m per annum but perhaps in that figure there are all sorts of other expenditure. Nevertheless, $10m a year is not too much to expect. I have been associated with the building of municipal offices - a much smaller venture than the one under consideration today. If we had left the construction of those offices until this year instead of commencing 3 years ago the cost would have been at least another $100,000 added to an original cost of less than $500,000, which is a considerable rise. If we accept that the rise in costs will be something like 5 per cent per annum that means a rise of more than 100 per cent over a period of 20 years.
If we are to make a decision on the construction of a new and permanent parliament house we ought to make the decision now and appropriate the money which would be required. If we can arrive at a bipartisan decision - and I believe that this debate would lead one to believe that such a decision could be achieved - then we will be able to get the support of the public by letting the public know what is going on and by asking for their advice and opinions. It is my experience that when the public are brought into consideration, the public do give their support.
I do not think we ought to approach this matter with a defeatist attitude. I believe that the proposal to erect the new building in stages need not prevent it from being built on Capital Hill. There are all sorts of adjuncts to a parliament house which can be placed a considerable distance away from the chambers. My view is that it is practicable to have some of the buildings located 200 yards away from the chamber or even half a mile away. It seems to me that we could well put some new buildings on Capital Hill as a first stage. Some parts of the building could be used for certain purposes.
I would like to refer to the original design put forward by Burley Griffin. If honourable members care to go out into King’s Hall and have a look at the display there they will see, as the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) mentioned, that according to the original design there was to be a building of considerable size on Capital Hill. It was going to be used for all sorts of purposes but not as a meeting place for the Parliament. Burley Griffin originally envisaged 2 separate Houses of Parliament - the Senate and the House of
Representatives. He felt that 2 buildings on Capital Hill would not contribute to the overall design of the national capital. I think we have come a long way since that time. I believe that we can achieve a satisfactory design for one building which will have some sort of central authority. I think that the original decision taken in 1921 to build a temporary building on the present site has, to a large degree, pre-empted the decision.
There have been arguments as to whether we should pull this building down or not. Whether we accept that this building has to come down altogether or only part of it is to come down, if a substantial building is placed on Camp Hill then the present building has either to come down or be substantially modified or we accept the alternative that the design for the new building from this aspect will not be as good as might otherwise have been the case. I suggest that we ought to consider this fact because it is central to the whole situation. If we decide to retain the present building we will prejudice the overall design. If we destroy this building I, like the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), believe that we will have committed an act of national vandalism. There are plenty of uses to which this building can be put. I would hate to see this building taken down. This building in its own way is worthy of this nation. It is worthy of our ideals and aspirations. It enshrines our history. This is of particular importance because this country does not have a long history of parliamentary democracy. I believe that this building means something to the people of Australia. I would hate to see it go.
Again, like the honourable member for Macquarie, I believe that the Capital Hill site would enable us to do much more than we would otherwise be able to do. We have to consider whether we need a parliament house or an office block. I suggest to honourable members that we need a building which is worthy of this nation. I suggest that we should, first of all, decide to meet with the Senate, which is what the motion seeks. Having taken that step we should then decide the question of the merits of the case in conjunction with our colleagues in the other place. I ask the House not to make a decisive and irrevocable decision today but merely to decide that we ought to have a new and permanent parliament house which is worthy of this nation and that we ought to meet with our colleagues in another place to determine this matter.
– I think I will be the last speaker in this debate this afternoon so I will be as quick as I can. When Burley Griffin was in consultation with the Government of the day in the early 1920s he was horrified when he discovered that the Public Works Committee of the day had decided to put the present Parliament House on this site. He did not want it here. He said that the new and permanent parliament house would, in due course, be on Camp Hill and that if the temporary building were placed on its present site it would destroy the symmetry of the whole of the parliamentary triangle. In other words, this building would block the view right across the lake to the Australian War Memorial. The proof of what he said can easily be seen by walking behind the present building and looking across the lake. So the mistake that was made by a stupid Public Works Committee at that time is still with us.
– I thought they were all good.
– They are not all good. That mistake is still with us. The mistake was made by the bureaucracy in charge of planning at that time. The man who knew what he was talking about was ignored. That is why this House is on the present site.
In 1968 a joint parliamentary committee, of which I and many other honourable members in this House at the moment were members, was set up. That committee which was called the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, consisted of 21 or 22 members. It had on it the leaders of 2 parties together with the Speaker and the President. It was a very worthwhile committee. The Committee met over a period of 2i years. We sent a delegation overseas to study parliament houses around the world. This was the right thing to do. The Committee’s report was presented to the Parliament and drawings for the new and permanent parliament house were included in that report. That report covered all the details of what the new house would contain, including facilities for television and all modern requirements. It dealt with every conceivable thing. We planned on the basis of the new building lasting for 400 years. We suggested that both chambers would encompass a system of movable walls so that as the Parliament grew with the growth of Australia the walls of the chambers would be moved out without the necessity to have huge structural changes.
It was a marvellous design to cater for the expansion of the Parliament that would inevitably take place as the nation grew. Where is that report and design? Where has all that work gone? It has gone down the drain. The report is in the archives. I am utterly disgusted with what has happened in regard to this matter. I would like to walk out on this debate. I would like to walk out without voting and take no part in it as a protest against what has happened to that magnificent report of March 1970 after 2i years of hard work. The new members in this House would not know anything about it. But the report is in the archives for anyone who wishes to see it. That Committee was set up to bring down recommendations for a new and permanent parliament house. A vote was to be taken on the site for the new building. That is something that we did not decide as a committee. We said that Parliament should decide it. That was its right. What happened when we voted in this place on the site? The honourable member who is interjecting was not here at the time so I would appreciate it if he did not interrupt. However, we took a vote in this House and I think there was a majority of 11 for Camp Hill. A vote was taken in the Senate and there was a majority of about 40 for Capital Hill. So, the senators in their wisdom said: ‘We will have a joint meeting to decide it.’ That did not take place because we would not let the Senate dominate the final vote at that stage.
Then there was a period when no action was taken, and one day in 1971 the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), came into this House and made the shortest speech a Prime Minister has ever made. In effect, he said: ‘The Cabinet has met and has made a decision to resolve this deadlock as to the site of the new parliament house. It will be built on Camp Hill’. He then sat down. Unfortunately, the forces that were at work to destroy him - mainly the Press - finally destroyed him. They destroyed John Gorton, a Prime Minister. His successor did not make a decision on this matter. He did not go on with it. He, like any Prime Minister, has the privilege of putting in the wastepaper basket the decisions of previous Prime Ministers. He did just that and I suppose that if ever there was a man guilty of not having started or planned anything in relation to the permanent parliament house, it was the successor to the right honourable member for Higgins. I admire the* right hon ourable member for Higgins for his courage and for many of the things he did in this Parliament, and the decision he took to place the new parliament on Camp Hill was one of them. But it did not go any further than that. That was 2 years ago and we have got no further fast.
I turn now to the 2 motions before the House. We have the one moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) which states:
That has already been done. It is all there in detail in the report that was brought down by that Joint Committee. His amendment continues:
I cannot have a bar of staged construction of a parliament house. If we built the future parliament house in this way, it would be the only parliament house in the world that was built in stages. I know that the Minister wants to get on with it and I appreciate his initiative in putting the plans out in Kings Hall. I appreciate his energy in what he has done and tried to do but I cannot honestly support a parliament house built in stages. The third point of his amendment was:
The Minister was a Capital Hill man. He has changed his mind, and I appreciate that he did change his mind. Once he started talking about staged construction, he had to recommend Camp Hill as the site. We could not attach this Parliament House to a permanent parliament house on Capital Hill. It had to be on Camp Hill, and that is the site on which I personally would like it to be built, though appreciating that it will have to be Capital Hill if a new separate House is to be built in a continuous program. But today I am going to vote for the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio. I still would like to see the new parliament house on Camp Hill but the joint meeting between the Senate and the House of Representatives will, I am afraid, defeat the Camp Hill site. But this is looking into the future.
Nevertheless, let us come to this point: Wherever the new parliament house is built, on Capital Hill or Camp Hill, for goodness sake let us start the process moving as fast as we can. It will take 10 years to build a new parliament house. It will cost nearly $100m if it is to be built on Capital Hill because it will be a brand new building, not a staged building, not a bits and pieces building but a building started and finished and then lived in and worked in. That is the sort of building I want and I think most people around Australia would want that type of building, too. As the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) said a while ago- this will answer all the fears of honourable members - $100m seems to be a tremendous cost, but so it did for the Sydney Opera House. But that was built over 14 years. When we divide 14 into $100m, we find that that is not much a year and if we divided 10 years into $100m we would find the cost would be $10m a year. That is a small amount to put aside in each Budget for a brand new parliament house. So, I hope we will return to the decision of the Joint Committee and build that type of parliament house on Capital Hill, if it must be built there. However, I am disgusted with all the delays of the past Administrations. I feel that we are making an historic decision when we vote in this House on this matter today, whichever way the vote goes.
Mr KEATING (Blaxland)- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation on a decision I attributed to a former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). I said that he overruled decisions of both Houses. In fact, he overruled the decision of the Senate. There having been conflicting decisions, the House of Representatives having decided on the site of Camp Hill and the Senate having decided upon Capital Hill, he took the view that because the House of Representatives was the appropriating House the view of that House should prevail. To that extent I misrepresented him.
Mr UREN (Reid- Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) quoted from my speech of 1968 in which I supported the location of the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill. He then went on to say that I had been brainwashed by the bureaucracy in taking up a new position. The situation is that the Minister for Labour did not explain that in my arguments in 1968 was arguing against the lakeside site. I said that I wanted an uninhibited view from Capital Hill through to the War Memorial. If the new parliament house is situated on Camp Hill, it will still give that uninhibited view between Camp Hill and the War Memorial. Might I say that, unlike the Minister for Labour, I am not committed to dogma but my mind is open to change.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, and rather badly, too, by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). I realise the vast expanse of Queensland and the various factors associated with that magnificent State. But I do think - and I believe that all my New South Wales colleagues would feel the same way - that to refer to the Sydney Harbour as a creek is rather understating the matter.
– Order! The immediate question is that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question. I point out to honourable members that those in favour of the motion should vote aye and those in favour of the amendment should vote no.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority .. ..9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 23 October (vide page 2570).
Department of External Territories
Proposed expenditure, $193,932,000.
Department of Foreign Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $124,736,000.
– I will not detain the Committee for long, although I believe that what I am to say is, if not in itself tremendously important, at least deals with the most important subject before this Parliament, namely, the security of the Australian people. I do not believe that this security can in the long run be differentiated entirely from the security of the other peoples of the world. We like to pretend that foreign affairs is no longer a matter of force. This unhappily is not true. Foreign affairs is now unhappily, as I have said before, a question of nuclear politics. This has been so since the end of the last War.
Let me rehearse to honourable members some considerations which were brought out recently by Sir Philip Baxter in an article in the Press. At the end of the last War, the United States had a nuclear monopoly. The United .States proposed to turn over that monopoly power to the United Nations. This would have meant that the United Nations would have had real force because it would have been able to impose on any recalcitrant nation the will of the whole. That proposal was rejected. Its rejection was due almost entirely to the machinations of the Soviet bloc which pretended to be affronted and to be in favour of nuclear disarmament but which actually achieved a position where the nuclear threat continued to hang over the world. That is still the position. Unhappily, it has been complicated by the advances of nuclear science.
In 1945 and 1946, the nuclear bomb- the fission bomb - was, I think, decisive in terms of power, but not decisive in terms of necessary annihilation. That situation changed when more than one country obtained the necessary nuclear know-how and completed the necessary nuclear preparations. It changed because the communist world, having rejected world disarmament for its own devious purposes, now held the balance of terror with the countries of the West. At the present moment nuclear arms are held by the United States, by Soviet Russia, in a small way by the United Kingdom and France, certainly by China and probably by other countries as well but those other countries have not yet revealed in full what they possess. We do not know the full extent of the possession of nuclear arms by those countries.
When, in the early 1950s, the fusion bomb superseded the old fission bomb, the power of the nuclear weapon became immensely extended. Furthermore, as knowledge became more disseminated and science found new ways of doing things, the power to make these bombs got into more and more hands. That will extend, if it has not already extended. I have named some countries. It is almost certain now that Israel has some kind of nuclear capacity. It is not quite certain; it is not officially verified. It is very likely that India either has that capacity or is very near to acquiring it. Others in that league include Japan, Germany, Italy, a number of South American countries and certainly Canada. That is not to say that all of those countries necessarily have nuclear weapons, but they have nuclear weapons within their short term grasp.
It is no good saying that they will not use those weapons or that we have nothing to fear. The bomb is proliferating. Nothing effective is being done to control that proliferation. The so called Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is a pure sham. If one is climbing, for example, there is one thing worse than having no rope; it is to have a rotten rope on which one places reliance. That is the position of the world today. I am in favour of watertight nuclear control. I believe that we should work towards it. But I am not in favour of the sham kind of control on which we are placing reliance at present. This is the most dangerous of all situations. Perhaps it will not eventuate into disaster in the course of the next year or even of the next decade. But it is clear that unless there is some kind of effective nuclear disarmament, we and the world are set for destruction.
What are we to do? Are we to just sit here and wring our hands as most of us have been doing? Will we move in the United Nations for something effective? Are we to reveal the kind of sham - the rotten rope - on which the world at present seems to depend? Would we not be carrying out our duties as members of the Australian Parliament and as members of one of the parliaments of mankind - as members of the parliament of mankind, if honourable members like to put it that way - and would we not be doing better if, in the United Nations and elsewhere, we were to reject this kind of sham nuclear disarmament as pure piffle, absolutely unreliable, and work as we should be working for something effective and secure?
– I want to discuss a matter that is of major importance not only to the security of Australia but to the security of all nations. I refer to the dispute between China and the Soviet Union. In this age of nuclear weapons, no nation can guarantee that it would be unaffected by any war between 2 major nuclear powers. The SinoSoviet dispute was forcibly brought to my notice during a visit I made to China in June of this year as part of a delegation from this Parliament which was led by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen). During our visit to China, the delegation had discussions with representatives of the Chinese Government, including one meeting with the Chinese VicePremier, Mr Li Hsien-nien. In this discussion I raised with the Chinese Vice-Premier the question of Chinese nuclear testing because, as all honourable members and people in Australia know, the Australian Government is strongly opposed to nuclear testing by any nation, and particularly to atmospheric testing.
The Chinese Vice-Premier’s reply was that the Chinese are prepared to discon tinue their nuclear testing but only in the context of all nations, including the United States of America and the Soviet Union, dismantling their own nuclear arsenals. They believe that they cannot reasonably be expected to stop their nuclear testing while nothing is done to reduce the nuclear capacity of the Soviet Union - which is their next door neighbour and which they believe is threatening their security - and of the United States. Personally, I cannot agree with this point of view of the Chinese Government, and neither does the Australian Government. I do not believe that one can justify developing nuclear weapons just because the United States, and the Soviet Union already have nuclear weapons. If this argument were to be used to justify the Chinese developing their own nuclear weapons, then the same argument could be used for every other country doing the same. For that reason I believe that the Australian Government will continue to oppose nuclear testing, whether it is by China, by France or by any other country.
However, I do not believe we should stop there. It is essential that all the middle and small powers should jointly try to bring about complete nuclear disarmament, because this is the only way to ensure world peace. I do not want to say who is right and who is wrong in the Sino-Soviet dispute. The plain fact is that these 2 countries are suspicious of each other and distrust each other, and it is in the interests of all countries that this mutual suspicion and hostility be reduced. The overwhelming impression given to our parliamentary delegation in China, as far as the foreign policy of the Chinese is concerned, was that their great fear is of the Soviet Union. The Chinese maintain that the Russians are bent on a policy of territorial expansion. They say that unequal treaties were imposed on China in the nineteenth century - that is, treaties between czarist Russia and imperialist China. In fact, they maintain that the Soviet Union is demanding territory beyond even that which was conceded to it under these unequal treaties. The Chinese also claim that the Soviet Union has maintained and does maintain one million troops on the Sino-Soviet border to enforce its claims on what it believes is Chinese territory. Moreover, the Chinese say that their suggestions for a mutual withdrawal of troops from either side of the disputed border have been rejected. I repeat that I am not saying whether the Chinese point of view is justified or not. Frankly, I do not see any point in the Australian Government taking sides on this issue. The fact is, however, that there is a dispute which we would like to see ended, in our own interests.
There are some very important measures which should be taken to reduce tension in this area. The first concerns the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, more commonly known as the SALT talks. These talks are supposed to be about arms limitation - that is, disarmiment Yet I wonder how many people realise that at the most recent round of SALT talks the United States and the Soviet Union mutually agreed on the Soviet Union increasing its numbers of intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. The Americans agreed to this on the ground that they themselves have a superiority in multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs. In other words, the agreement does not concern disarmament at all. It is merely about balance of terror. If this agreement were being carried out in a vacuum, I suppose it could be justified. But it did not take place in a vacuum. The Soviet Union - one of the 2 parties to the talks - will actually increase its numbers of ICBMs. To the Chinese, this is not a balance of deterrent forces but a gross imbalance. Obviously, that is why the Chinese feel apprehensive about the situation. I believe that it is no longer sufficient for the representatives of the United States and the Soviet Union to make agreements behind closed doors on the size of their nuclear arsenals.
My first practical suggestion, therefore, is that the SALT talks which are at present bipartite should be tri-partite ‘and should include China, so that all decisions taken will have regard to the fact that the interests of more than 2 great powers are involved. Better still, they should be multi-partite and include all countries which have nuclear weapons. Obviously, this would not be the answer to all our problems, but it would be an important step and would at least establish workable machinery to enable realistic nuclear disarmament talks to take place. The other constructive suggestion I would like to make concerns the Sino-Soviet border dispute. In this area I believe that the Americans should take a greatly different course from that which they have taken so far. Up until now they have spoken to the Russian leaders, as in the Nixon-Brezhnev summit meeting, and this makes the Chinese suspicious. When the Americans speak to the
Chinese, the Russians become suspicious. I suppose that is just a fact of the multi-polar power situation. One could be pardoned for thinking that the United States is cynically playing off one nation against the other. Is it too much to ask that the United States could, in view of its improving relations with both China and Russia, act as an honest broker in the Sino-Soviet dispute? The settlement could start on a basis of a simultaneous withdrawal of troops to a given distance from either side of the border and arbitration or discussion taking place on where the border should lie.
The question might be asked: Where does Australia come into this? I believe that Australia, as an ally of the .United States should strongly advocate this course of action directly to the United States. Furthermore, we should press for action of this sort at world forums such as the United Nations. There is no doubt in my mind that the Sino-Soviet dispute is the greatest threat to world peace. The current rapprochement between the United States and the Soviet Union indicates that both these countries wish to avoid a war between them. The detente between the United States and China indicates a similar situation there. I know that there are some people who think we can take a back seat while the 2 great communist powers tear each other apart. I think it is a grossly inhumane attitude to remain indifferent to a situation where hundreds of millions of lives could be lost. Furthermore, we cannot exclude the possibility that Australia could be affected, either from an unanticipated widening of any conflict or from any radiation fallout. There is no doubt what the correct course of action is for Australia. Firstly, we should continue to press for the cessation of nuclear testing by all countries. Secondly, we should press for total nuclear disarmament. As a means of bringing this about, we should press for all nuclear powers to be included as participants in the SALT talks, and jointly we should press for international diplomatic action to bring about a resolution of the Sino-Soviet dispute.
– I want to make one or two observations on the estimates for the Department of External Territories and the Department of Foreign Affairs. When one looks through the Appropriation Bill and sees the various areas of expenditure of the departments one realises exactly what is covered by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Let me say at the outset - I think this would be accepted by honourable members on both sides of the chamber - that we in Australia are extremely fortunate in the personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs, both at home and in our posts overseas. At the various conferences I have had the privilege of attending over a period of nearly 22 years, I have been gratified by the very high standard of the personnel of the Department. Some of the expenditure for our international organisations has been increased. I feel that it is through these organisations that assistance can be given and Australia can make a very valuable contribution - not only a financial contribution but also a physical contribution in various spheres of activity. I am thinking of the assistance that was given in Thailand by engineers and men who had had experience with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority in Australia. I feel that this is one of the vital areas in which Australia can be of great assistance.
I think it might be opportune even for discussions to be held or consultation to be taken between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defence. In certain instances our defence forces could be used in ferrying aid to some countries. For example, the Hercules aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force could be used to convey food and other such assistance to these countries. If assistance can be increased, of course, I say again that this is a valuable contribution. While we have thought of building roads and have looked at assistance in university education, I think we should also give thought to what one might call assistance at the village level.
A little while ago, with the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) I had the privilege of attending the 13th South Pacific Conference and the 36th Commission Session. It was under the chairmanship of the Lieutenant Governor of Guam, the Honourable Kurt Moylan. I was most impressed with the standard of discussions, the suggestions that were put forward and the approach which was made by many of those countries which one might call newly developed countries, whose leaders and members in some instances were attending a conference in an independent capacity for the first time. I have mentioned previously the contribution that was made by the delegation from Papua New Guinea and the maturity that was shown by its leader and members. This conference is not only important to all countries, such as the United States of
America, the United Kingdom and France, who were the major powers present, but is also of even greater importance to us in Australia and to New Zealand because of our closeness to other countries in the South Pacific area and because of our association with the peoples of this area. That is why I was delighted at that conference to hear of the special contribution of $NZ250,000 that was made by the Australian and the New Zealand Governments. This money is to be spent on an enlarged works program. It was interesting also to hear delegates discuss the agriculture of the area and the food problems that the various islands and peoples had. In a conference in which they felt not only that they were participating but also that they were contributing to, it was interesting to hear their discussions and, as I said, to note the importance that they attached to the association of each country one with the other.
I go on now to say something in regard to our foreign policy. I remember not so long ago - it does not seem to be so very long ago, but it was back in time- a certain gentleman arriving back in his country, waving a piece of paper and saying: ‘Peace in our time’. While we may look around our world today and feel that perhaps a threat to us in this area is not imminent, one of the greatest factors in avoiding an incident is to be prepared for it. I will have something further to say about that when the Committee considers the Defence estimates. But I believe that at this stage we are not giving sufficient attention to some of the vital areas in which Australia is concerned. I said that some years ago a man waved a piece of paper and said: ‘Peace in our time’. I think this is something we should consider when we think that just after so many people had commented about the fact that there was no imminent danger confronting Australia the conflict between Israel, Egypt and Syria broke out. I shall not apportion blame either to one side or to the other at this moment, because I do not think that this would be of any help in the situation at this time, but what has happened shows what can occur in the international situation and how quickly incidents can develop.
The only thing I would point out for those who are critical of Israel is that Israel was established as a nation by the United Nations Organisation, and I believe that those who are trying to undermine Israel should face up to that reality. The situation between Israel and the Arab countries will not be helped by a failure to face up to the reality that Israel is a nation in the Middle East area. This must be accepted. As I said, I do not want to go into arguments about who is to blame or what are the circumstances of this conflict. The point I make is that in international affairs such events can develop, one might say, almost overnight. One of the things that Australia needs is a preparedness for an eventuality.
A great deal has been said by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and others about the independent foreign policy of Australia. They have said that we should be independent, that we should not literally follow behind on the coat tails of one country or one group of countries or another. I do not think that anyone would disagree with the proposition that Australia should have an independent foreign policy. But because we follow a policy similar to that of one of the major powers does not necessarily mean that we are not being independent and that we are not putting forward our point of view. As I said, I will have more to say in regard to these matters in the debate on the estimates of Department of Defence. The thing that really worries me at the moment is that while we are talking about an independent foreign policy for Australia, while we are saying that more and more we should accept responsibility ourselves, it appears to me that we are doing the exact opposite, that we are doing everything we can to destroy our capacity to sustain this independent foreign policy about which we speak.
– I was interested in the remarks of the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun), who travelled as I did, to China during the recess as a member of the first parliamentary delegation from Australia to visit that country. I commend him, and I commended him at at the time, for his courage in bringing up at a high level meeting his abhorrence of atmospheric nuclear testing, something which had not been done quite as forcibly by the Australian Government of which he is a supporter. He mentioned though - I think I quote him almost exactly - that the only way in which we shall ensure world peace is to bring about nuclear disarmament. I think that is a somewhat misty-eyed view of the problem of bringing about world peace. Whilst no nuclear weapons have been used in warfare since approximately 1945 a series of wars has been continuing throughout the world.. Of course we have the very unfortunate spectacle of one continuing at the moment. Whilst we would all support a general nuclear disarmament, let us not kid ourselves for one moment that just by bringing about nuclear disarmament we will bring about world peace.
I was very interested in all that was shown to the parliamentary delegation when we travelled to China and in the attitude exhibited by the Australian Government towards the Chinese Government. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) during his journey to India recently said that really there has been no change in Australia’s foreign policy since the change of government. He said that everything has continued on in much the same way as before; that things have just happened a little faster. I would like to refute that suggestion entirely. There has been a marked change in Australia’s foreign policy since 2 December last. We only have to look at the situation that confronts us and the attitude of the rulers of countries, particularly the countries of South East Asia, towards the Australian Government at the present time to test the validity of my statement. I have been almost nauseated at times by the lap dog subservience shown by some of the present Government Ministers towards everything that happens in China. I do not believe that the Chinese want this lap dog subservience. In fact on a number of occasions during our visit to China we were pulled up quickly when some of the compliments became a little flowery. I distinctly remember Mr Li Hsien-nien putting it very succinctly when he said: ‘Cut it off. Let us get serious about this. We know that we have not accomplished all the things that you appear to believe we have.’ I do not believe any country wants fulsome flattery. What countries want is a realistic understanding of the relationships operating between countries. This applies also to China.
I was most interested to see the real accomplishments and achievements which the British have managed to bring about, particularly in trade, in their relationships with the People’s Republic of China. The British go about matters unobstrusively, yet perhaps they can claim to be the most successful nation in selling their products to the Chinese! They do it without much fanfare. They do it through realistic negotiations. It is ridiculous for people like Dr Cairns to say that China will become the third leg of our world trading stool, America and Japan being the other 2 legs. Let us be honest in our appreciation of the trading capacities of
China. Despite its enormous population the world trading pattern of China is simply not in the same class as those of a great many other trading nations, so let us not go overboard in our efforts to ingratiate ourselves with this nation. The Chinese do not want it nor, I am sure, do the majority of Australians.
Again I was interested in the remarks of the honourable member for Kingston when he pointed out the dangers aroused by what is a very real confrontation, namely, the SinoSoviet confrontation. As he said, this is of wide interest to and has wide ramifications for many countries other than simply China and Russia. Obviously the situations obtaining in all South-East Asian states, in the Indian Ocean area and on the Indian sub-continent are affected greatly by the relationships existing between ‘Russia and China and between all the other great powers operating in the area. However, let us consider particularly the situation brought about by the Sino-Soviet dispute. The cultural revolution had an enormous effect within China in a number of areas. In my view it disrupted the economic advances which were being made prior to its onset. Since the finish of the cultural revolution Chinese leadership has attempted to get things back on an even keel.
The Chinese want to see a reasonably stable situation around them. They do not want to see any further increase in the influence of Russia in these areas of South-East Asia immediately surrounding or abutting the Chinese nation. For this reason the Chinese are in somewhat of a cleft stick simply because the Government of North Vietnam has shown such marked and open expansionary tendencies. I believe that at present North Vietnam is the most expansionary power in South-East Asia. There is no doubt that its troops are operating in Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam and the situation is ripe for a country like North Vietnam to play 2 suppliers off one against the other. It can say to China: ‘If you do not supply us with the materials we want we can always get them from the Russians’. It can say exactly the same to the Russians. I believe this is what North Vietnam did for a number of years. As a result of this a continuing restive situation obtains in South-East Asia.
We should look closely at what could happen in that area, particularly if one or the other of the suppliers expands its influence markedly in the short term. I believe that if either Russia or China markedly expands its influence, the other will react. It is in China’s long term interests for the situation to be stabilised until it can sort out its problems of economic development. The other problem China has, and which it is attempting to solve, is that of succession. These 2 problems bring about a situation in which, for the time being, China would like to see a little more stability in the South-East Asian area. On the other hand, the Russians see the present time as a good period in which to expand their influence. I believe they are doing it at the moment.
In this situation, what is the Australian1 Government doing? In returning from China I passed through Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. In all those countries without exception their leaders, in talking to me, expressed uncertainty and disquiet about the relations of Australia and about possible future Australian actions in relation to their countries. A very senior Laotian said to me, I cannot understand the Prime Minister of Australia. He seems intent upon demolishing the defences of the free world.’ This may not sound important to a person living in the security of Australia but it is very real to the person living in a country which faces takeover by a communist-dominated Pathet Lao movement.
The same situation applies in Vietnam. The question asked there is: Why cannot Australia, after supporting the Vietnamese for so long, continue to support them in their struggle for independence? The Indonesians are confused and despite the Prime Minister’s protestations have made this abundantly clear. They wish to see a continuation of the obvious friendship and assistance granted by previous Australian governments. They are unsure where the present Australian Government is leading Australia in terms of foreign policy. These matters are all of great interest to the Australian nation. I firmly believe that the Government, rather than continuing the foreign policy initiatives of the previous Government, has in many cases completely reversed them and, as a result, has upset and disturbed in great detail those of our allies with whom we must maintain the strongest and most cordial relationships.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs I remind the Committee that today is United Nations Day and I should like to say a few well chosen words about the United Nations.
– Hopefully well chosen.
– As the honourable member indicates, hopefully well chosen. However, before so doing I should like to place on record that on one issue at least I find myself in complete agreement with the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). I do not expect that this will ever happen again. I agree with what he said about Australia’s attitude to the Arab-Israeli conflict, namely, that Australia should maintain a position of total non-alignment. I am sure that most honourable members have friends - I have, at any rate - who are Jews and friends who are Arabs, Lebanese and Egyptians. I hope that this conflict will end soon, once and for all, because it does not do anyone in Australia any good, quite apart from the trauma it creates in the Middle East.
The matters that concern me about the United Nations start with this particular conflict. The ineffectiveness of the United Nations is exemplified by the way it has not been able to deal with the Arab-Israel conflict. It has shown its futility on almost every issue that has come before it for discussion. In my view the General Assembly is nothing more nor less than a forum in which nations can gang up in groups against other nations. It is a place where blocs collect - usually communist or Afro-Asian blocs - to gang up and pass powerful resolutions against individual nations. This I deplore. I am of the view that the General Assembly of the United Nations is largely communist controlled and that it is not working in the best interests of international peace. At it such nations as, I am afraid, Australia at the moment follow blindly the fellow travelling attitude of communist philosophy and socialism to such an extent as to allow the United Nations to define our foreign policy. This I regret very much. It makes selective pronouncements about such countries as South Africa and Rhodesia on the basis of their domestic policies. I have yet to hear a pronouncement from the United Nations about discrimination by, say, black countries. Take the example of Nigeria. We all remember the terrible conflict there a few years ago, when more than one million Ibos were killed. There was not a sound out of the United Nations General Assembly. In ‘Burundi at this moment-
– That was when your Party was in government.
– I am talking about the United Nations. In Burundi at this moment - at a time when the Australian Labor Party is in government in Australia - there is a civil war between the Hutu and the Tutsi which has resulted in more than 200,000 casualties. Presumably because black people are fighting black people, there has been no sound from the United Nations or from the Australian Government, which follows the United Nations in its policies. There has been no complaint about Africanisation policies in Africa, presumably because that is black discrimination against white. I do not remember any complaint from the United Nations about what happened in Uganda when General Amin discriminated against the Asians there. In that instance it was a case of black people against Asian people. There were no complaints from the United Nations. When Zambian troops shot 2 Canadians on the Rhodesian side of the border there was no complaint. To my knowledge, not even the Canadian Government lodged any formal complaint There was certainly no word from the United Nations. There was no word from the United Nations when the members of the Opposition parties in Zambia were put into gaol. They are still there. When I asked the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) a question on this matter just a few weeks ago he took the opportunity to attack South Africa and its apartheid policies.
The nub of it all is that the United Nations is being used in every possible way to attack countries such as South Africa. I think that the resolutions are far too selective. There must be 2 sides to the coin in respect to what is happening all over Africa and not just in South Africa. One does not have to be a racialist, a facist or whatever else honourable members opposite like to call some of us who want to try to understand the problems of Africa to know that they are very real problems. We should be glad that we do not have anywhere near the problems of any one of those countries. We should realise that in fact they are defending their countries from the aggression of guerrillas who are financed by and trained in Soviet Russia and Communist China. They also are under attack continually from the United Nations blocs I have mentioned - the communist and Afro-Asian blocs.
I believe that it is to the continuing shame of the Whitlam Government that Australia has been allowed to rejoin what is known as the Committee of Twenty-Four, which is really what I am anxious to talk about today. It is a committee of the United Nations General Assembly whose functions are not, I believe, generally understood in this country. It is called the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. It is a collection of the representatives of 24 nations - Australia is the twenty-fourth - who assemble to discuss these matters but who in fact largely churn out pronouncements attacking the governments of southern Africa. I believe that those governments are attacked not because they happen to be white supremist governments, as has been stated, but on the ground of discrimination in the cause of promoting international communism. If we have a look at the Committee of Twenty-Four we will find that 17 of the countries that are members of it - that is a generous assessment - have single party totalitarian governments. Australia has joined this select group of people who make pronouncements about the domestic affairs of other countries. Let us have a look at some of the countries which comprise the Committee.
Firstly, there is Afghanistan, which is a military dictatorship. It had a coup d’etat earlier this year and another attempted one later this year. Bulgaria, which is a hard line communist country, is a member. Another member is Chile, which was previously a totalitarian communist country and which is now, I take it, a totalitarian non-communist country. Czechoslovakia is a member, as is Congo Brazzaville. There have been 2 coup d’etats in Congo Brazzaville - one in 1963 and another in 1968. It is a single party state. Communist China, which is a single party state, is also a member. How can anyone from Communist China support resolutions attacking any nation on the ground of discrimination, when one remembers what she did to the Tibetans? Another member is Ethiopia, which is really a totalitarian state. It is a single party monarchy. It never has any elections. There is a civil war in Eritrea. Has anyone ever heard about that from the United Nations? Discrimination occurs on an ethnic basis there between the Hamitics and the Moslems. The Moslems are negroes. It is a case of Arab against negro. We do not hear anything about that from the United Nations and we do not hear anything about that from our Government.
Next on the list is Fiji. Fiji is in an interesting situation. It is not unlike Australia in that it was once a British colony. Fiji has a minority government whose members happen to be Fijians. Its Constitution is drawn up in such a way that there always has to be a Fijian government. So, if we talk about minority rule in South Africa, Rhodesia or anywhere else, we should also talk about minority rule in Fiji. But I suggest that we should not. I suggest that it is none of our business. Let us remember that there are 2 sides to every coin. There are more Indians than Fijians in Fiji. That brings me to India. Who in the world is being discriminated against more than the untouchables? There is always conflict in India between the Hindus and the Moslems. There is agitation for separate State governments in India. So India really should not take part in any of the resolutions attacking other countries. The next country on the list is Iraq. Iraq is a (fine democratic place! Iraq hangs Jews in public. Who can possibly give credence to any resolutions promoted by Iraq on discrimination? What country could discriminate against its Jewish minority more than Iraq? Another member is the Ivory Coast, which is a single party state. Mali, which is also a member, is a military dictatorship. At the moment a civil war is in progress in Mali. Its representatives still go to the United Nations, but the United Nations does nothing and says nothing about the civil war in Mali. The next country on the list is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is a fine champion-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Duthie) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I will not spend much time commenting on the remarks of the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Mcleay). I agree with him that there is a great deal of injustice and a lack of civil liberties in probably 75 per cent of the countries of the world. No one would argue with that. Civil wars do break out. The point that I think he has missed is that there is practically no other instance where one group of people are opposing another group of people simply because of the colour of their skin. ‘
– That is what I was talking about.
– I do not think it is. The honourable member for Boothby mentioned the Ivory Coast and said that it is a one party state. There is no racial discrimination in the Ivory Coast. He mentioned Mali as being a place in which there is a civil war. I do not think it is on a racial basis. The honourable member mentioned that there is class distinction in India. That is also immoral, but to me it is as great an evil.
– I never used the word immoral’.
– No, I am using the word. I am saying that it is immoral but to me it is not as bad as discrimination on the basis of the colour of one’s skin. However, that is my view on the matter. I do not wish to spend a great deal of time on it. I should like to mention briefly what is happening today in the Middle East. To my great disappointment in the 4 years that I have been in this House, there has never been a debate on the Middle East, and there is still not likely to be one. Unfortunately within the whole of our society, and in this Parliament, there is generally speaking a considerable amount of ignorance about the history of the Middle East and what has happened there over the past 90-odd years. So many people approach the conflict between Arab and Israeli by taking out of context some happenings in history. They will argue on the basis that we should look at the problem of the Palestinian refugees. They say: ‘What are the Israelis going to do about that?’ But they must - I would like to do so today - examine the whole question from an historical point of view.
There has always been a Jewish presence in what is now Israel or what was called Palestine. It was small. It probably reached about 2,000. But the great movement that is known as Zionism, which had been a continuing movement throughout the 19th century, grew immeasurably through the efforts of one Theodore Hertzl. Hertzl campaigned throughout Europe and, together with any other Zionists, carried the message of the return to Zion to Jewish communities throughout the world. The Jews started to drift back, many of them walking across thousands of miles of Russia and Poland to return to Israel. They received support from wealthy Jewish communities in other parts of the world and they purchased large areas of land in Palestine at exorbitant prices. The community grew and in the early years there was considerable harmony between Arabs and Jews because the Arabs were perfectly willing to sell what was useless land - barren land and desert - to those Jews whom the Arabs throught were stupid enough to buy it.
Throughout the 1880s the Jews returned from the Diaspora - from the dispersal - and took up land in Palestine and, to use a corny phrase, made the desert flourish. They did this over a period of some 30 or 40 years. The movement grew in the Jewish communities throughout the world and gained tremendous support. It received official recognition in 1917 at the time of the First World War in the Balfour Declaration which provided that Britain would recognise the right for a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. It was not until the early 1920s, when the community had grown to some hundreds of thousands, that the Arabs started to look with envy upon the new communal citrus farms which had been made out of the desert, and started to realise that what they had sold at very exorbitant prices was now something that they would like to have back.
The Mufti of Jerusalem and other Arab leaders decided that it was good politics then to incite the Arab comunities against those Jews who were settled there. Not only had the Jews made the land flourish, they also attracted many thousands of Arabs to the area because the communities brought with them employment and trade. Many of those Palestinian Arabs who claimed that their ancestors had lived in Palestine for hundreds of years were in fact migrants themselves from other parts of the Middle East, attracted to Tel Aviv and Haifa and to the communal farms because of the opportunities to gain employment and to trade. The Arabs started to attack the Jewish farms throughout the 1920s and 1930s. As a reaction against this, the Jews formed an underground army which was known as the Haganah. They also formed other groups which were known as the Palmach, Irgun and later, of course, the notorious Stern Gang depending on whose side one is on.
Of course throughout the 1930s the immigration to Palestine was greatly increased through the Nazi terrorism. During the Second World War members of the Jewish underground helped many thousands of Jews to gain illegal entry into Palestine. This continued after the war when there was a tremendous amount of world support for the establishment of Israel because people of the world had. seen what had happened under the Nazi holocaust and that some 6 million Jews had died. They believed the only solution to the violent outbreaks of anti-semitism which occurred with monotonous regularity every 30 or 40 years was to find a home that the Jews could call their own.
The battles that raged throughout the late 1940s until the time of partition are monumental. The refusal of the British to get out of Palestine, and their reluctance then to carry out the promise of the Balfour Declaration because of their oil interests in that area, ultimately meant that the problem was referred back to the United Nations. The United Nations, supported by Australia, voted for partition in 1947. On 25 May 1948 the fledgling country of Israel was born when Britain pulled out of Palestine and left some 600,000 Jews there without any arms, and with the Arabs in the most strategic positions with all the arms that were required to wipe out the Jews. The world waited to see what would happen in the Middle East. The United Nations had partitioned the area into the Jewish State of Israel and the Arab States. The 6 Arab countries surrounding Israel refused to accept partition. On 25 May they attacked. The Jews who were there had nothing except a few tommy guns, a few Molotov cocktails, a few Jeeps and their bare fists. To the world’s amazement they not only fought the Arabs off but defeated them.
The Israelis begged the Arabs who were living in Palestine to stay. They said: ‘We, together, can build a nation known as Israel with Jews and Arabs living together’. But the Arab leaders decided that it would be better if they, terrified their own communities and told them that if they did not get out they would be raped, looted and massacred by the Jews. Many thousands of Arabs fled. Many stayed. Some 250,000 Arabs stayed and live today in Israel as first class citizens with equal rights with the Jewish community. But it was at that point in 1948 that the present, conflict was born. It will remain because of the refusal of the Arab countries to recognise the right of the State of Israel to exist. From that day to this the Arab leaders have said that they live for only one thing - the extermination of the State of Israel. Everything that has happened in 1956, 1967 and again in 1973 has been caused by the decision of those 6 Arab countries not to recognise partition and not to recognise the State of Israel. They have said continually in statement after statement that they live for only one thing - to see Israel pushed into the sea.
Unfortunately time does not permit me to say much more. One of the tragedies of these Estimates debates, I am afraid, is that there is not much time to speak. I would have liked to have gone on and covered the period from 1948 to 1967. An awful lot more can be said. But I say to those people who do not understand the position that they should take the time to read and study in full the history of the Middle East.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Duthie)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr McLEAY (Boothby) - Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In accordance with parliamentary procedures it is necessary, Mr Deputy Chairman, to draw your attention to the misrepresentation as soon as there is an opportunity. The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) said words to the effect that I did not understand anything about what was happening in South Africa and that white South Africans were discriminating against the black nation.
– I do not think that he said that.
– He said words to that effect. We will check it out tomorrow when we read Hansard. My point is that there are at least 10 black African nations in South Africa, all discriminating against each other, and if the white South Africans leave the place the bloodshed that will follow will be enormous. I think it is important that I should draw the attention of honourable members to that point and also for me to make the point, which I think is relevant to the personal explanation, that we do not want to introduce into this country the Israel-Arab discrimination and feeling. I think we are better served by not taking either side.
– I agree with a great deal of what has been said in the course of the debate by my colleagues on this side of the chamber. What I wish to devote myself to primarily is the question of Australia’s overseas aid programs. In the Budget Speech presented last August the Treasurer (Mr Crean) informed the Parliament of the Government’s proposal to increase external aid, including defence aid, from $257m in 1972-73 to $334m in the current financial year. He explained that most of this increase would occur in relation to aid to Papua New Guinea and that it relates to that country’s movement towards self-government and independence.
Previously details of Australia’s external economic and defence aid to developing countries had always been set out in statement No. 8 attached to the Treasurer’s Budget Speech. This year there was a departure from that practice. A new procedure has been adopted. A detailed explanation of aid programs is to be found in the White Paper entitled ‘Australia’s External Aid 1973-74’ which was issued concurrently with the Budget documents. The purpose of the various external economic aid programs undertaken by Australia to assist developing countries, including Papua New Guinea, is, of course, to assist those countries to attain more rapid economic growth and higher living standards. As a member of the Liberal Party I support these aid programs which over the years have played an important part in fostering good relations with the various countries concerned and in helping them gradually to stand on their own feet economically. This process, of course, is being continued and it is all to the good.
I do not oppose the move to grant selfgovernment to Papua New Guinea on 1 December next. But in regard to independence for Papua New Guinea I believe that Australia should not fix the date. It should leave this big question to the indigenous people to decide themselves. I do agree, though, that Australia must be prepared to continue for quite some time in the future to provide financial aid to Papua New Guinea as a near neighbour with whom we will all want to remain on friendly terms. I pay a tribute to the various voluntary overseas aid agencies which are making a very significant contribution to overseas development. I believe it is important that all contributions, by governments and by voluntary agencies, should be properly channelled to ensure that they reach the right sources.
The estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs for 1973-74 show a proposed increase of approximately $8m to cover administrative expenses, the Colombo Plan and other aid and overseas service. The details are fully set out, as honourable members would know, on pages 43 to 48 of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1). To assist the promotion of greater regional security and co-operation in South East Asia and in the South Pacific, Australia is providing defence aid to a number of friendly neighbouring countries of immediate strategic interest to us. The nature of all such aid is determined in consultation with the recipient countries to ensure that the maximum effect is achieved. Expenditure on our bilateral aid programs - excluding Papua New Guinea - is estimated to increase by just over $6m in the current year to a total of nearly $67m.
The most important and most successful of these programs - I think we would all agree with this - is the Colombo Plan which was initiated by the Menzies Government in 1950. The next largest items under the heading Bilateral Aid Expenditures’ include aid to Indonesia - excluding training and food aid - and the International Wheat Agreement-Food Aid Convention. Our multilateral aid expenditure for 1973-74, covering a very wide field indeed, shows a planned increase of $4,685,000 over the expenditure for the year 1972-73. I am sure that we all support this increase. By far the largest single increase is in expenditure for the Asian Development Bank which covers both capital subscriptions and special fund contributions. The increased allocation for these is $3,625,000. Substantial contributions are to be made to the various agencies of the United Nations. Some of these do very good work. I am aware, as are other honourable members in this chamber, that today is United Nations Day. At the same time I cannot refrain from making the observation, although the United Nations organisation has, in many respects, done good work it is in certain other quite important respects wide open to criticism, particularly on account of the double standards that it adopts.
Other major recipients of aid, according to Table 5 of the White Paper which has been distributed to honourable members, include the World Food Program, the South Pacific Commission, the International Rice Research Institute, the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation and the South Pacific Air Transport Council. They are all important organisations. Table 7 of the White Paper shows the net financial resource transfers to developing countries as a percentage of gross national product during the years 1969 to 1972. The target of one per cent of gross national product as an annual contribution by the various donor countries was in fact exceeded by Australia by a substantial margin in 1970 and in 1971. In 1972 I notice we fell somewhat short of the one per cent target, although our performance was still well above the average.
The White Paper points out that the present method of assessing relative aid performance leaves much to be desired because of reservations concerning a government’s ability to convert its policy intentions with respect to net financial resource transfers into actual disbursements to developing countries. It is suggested that a far more meaningful measure of the relative aid performance of individual donor countries is provided by the percentage of gross national product which each country donates to official development assistance. According to data published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - known as OECD - Australia ranked fourth in the world in each of the last 3 years with figures well above the average. The donor countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Some very significant countries are noticeably absent from this list of donors.
Table 6, which summarises the rapid growth in expenditure by Australia on external, economic and defence aid programs over the years, shows that we have a record of which we can well be proud.
– I was in the middle of talking about the Middle East when I was abruptly cut off. I was then speaking of events in 1948. I should like to continue to talk briefly about the history of the Middle East since then. At the time of the war in ‘1948 the boundaries that were drawn up or suggested by the United Nations were quite incredible. If honourable members cared to have a look at them, they would see that they zig-zagged all over the place. That is what they looked like on a map. As I said before, the Arabs refused to accept partition and the existence of an Arab state which was planned in that partition. There were cease fire lines or truce lines drawn through the operations of the United Nations and those truce lines virtually became what was pre- 1967 modern Israel. Some 300,000 to 400,000 Arab refugees left that area and were deposited in the areas that were known as the Gaza Strip, in parts of Lebanon and what was part of the proposed Arab state and ultimately was absorbed into Jordan.
In the period from 1948 to 1967 there was a complete refusal to accept the right of Israel to exist. There has been constant and incessant guerrilla attacks first of all by what was termed the Fedayeen and later by what became the Al Fatah and various other guerrilla movements. The Israeli tactics were quite simple. The daily terrorism that existed, the lobbing of a shell on an Israeli kibbutz, the leaving around of land mines in schools and the occasional foray into Israel by guerrilla groups were tallied up and at the end of each month the Israelis would pay the account with a big hit - quite stupidly, I think - instead of hitting each time there was a terrorist attack. Consequently, the thousands of Jews who were killed in many incidents over this period were not noticed so much as the Arabs killed in the big Israeli reprisals against them.
In 1956 Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal. No one denies his right to do that. Some did deny it, but I believe he probably had the right. But he also threatened to cut off Israel’s lifeline and continued to say ; at the ultimate day of reckoning would come when the Israelis would be exterminated. We know what happened in 1956. Israel, in co-operation with France and Britain, pushed down into the Sinai and captured the Suez Canal but were forced to withdraw by America’s threat in the United Nations. So it continued. There were some hundreds of thousands of Arabs living in the Gaza Strip, kept there by Arab nation for no other reason than that it was good propaganda. It would have been no problem whatsoever for the Arabs to absorb into their own countries those few hundred thousand refugees. Good Lord, the Israelis took 3 million people from around the world, but the Arabs could not accept 400,000 refugees. They were kept there, living in the most desperate miserable poverty that humanity can possibly imagine, for political reasons.
Here was fomented the bitterness and hatred against Israel and against Jews over that period and from here grew the Al Fatah, the Black September movement and every other type of guerrilla organisation, fed on the hatred of what they alleged Israel had done. They said they had been pushed out of their homeland by the Israelis. Had the Arabs accepted partition in 1948, all those Arabs who were in the Gaza Strip, on the west bank and in Lebanon could have remained and lived in harmony as the 250,000 Arabs who did remain have done. But they have said over this period: ‘What are you going to do? You must take these 400,000 refugees’. Of course, because of the population explosion this number grew from 400,000 to nearly 1 million. Having fed them on hatred against Israel, the Arabs wished the Israelis to take them back. That would be something like saying to us in about 1945: We would like you to take in 6 million or 7 million Japanese’. Of course, it would have been absurd and at that stage of history it was an impossibility for Israel to contemplate that suggestion.
If honourable members were to look at the map of Israel as defined by those truce lines, they would see how impossible the lines were. The Gaza Strip comes right up like a dagger pointing at Israel’s throat. The West Bank bellies in and narrows Israel down to a strip of 16 miles. Sixteen miles! That is from Parramatta to Sydney. From the Golan Heights the Syrians were able to lob shells into Israeli kibbutzim, which they did with monotonous regularity, killing a few Israelis every few weeks. So, in 1967 when the Arab armies said: This time the final decision has come. We will eliminate Israel’, when they massed their armies on the borders of Israel, when they blockaded the port of Elat by bringing their troops up at Sharm el Sheikh, when they expelled the United Nations observers and when they threatened daily and hourly on the air that they were going to push the Israelis into the sea, the world was shocked to find that Israel struck first. The Jews unfortunately had a history prior to 1948 of not winning many battles but I will not go into that now. They struck first and destroyed the Arab armies, and the world condemned them for doing this. Apparently you should wait for someone first to come and cut your throat and then, as the history of the Jews for 2,000 years demonstrated, you are right but you are dead. Such a decision to wait the Israelis were not going to take again.
The 1967 conflict achieved fundamentally one thing. It gave the Israelis a buffer on the Sinai against an Egyptian attack. It protected the kibbutzim in the northern part of Israel from Syrian rockets and it eliminated the Jordanian part of the Arab community from bellying out into Israel.
– What about the water supply?
– I have not got time now to go into that. But this dangerous belly into Israel was eliminated. The point that I want to make is that I am not anti-Arab and neither, I think, are 98 per cent of Jews. They do not dislike Arabs. They want to live in peace with Arabs. They want to be able to contribute together to a prosperous Middle East. All they ask for is recognition and the right to exist - nothing more and nothing less. But the idea that some people spread around that Israel is looking for lebensraum, for breathing space and that it intends to conquer the Middle East and rule is absolute and utter nonsense. What they seek is peace. After 2,000 years they are happy to settle for that. I believe that it is possible. If there is a genuine approach from the Arab countries and a genuine belief in peace in the Middle East, anything is possible. I believe that Sinai will go back to the Egyptians. I believe that you could form an Arab State, if you like, between the Gaza Strip and the west bank. And, ultimately, if there is peace, I can imagine the Golan Heights, too, going back to the Syrians. When there is peace any boundary is possible; when there is not peace, of course one must look for secure and defensible boundaries.
But there must be a period of time in which mutual trust can grow. I believe that in a sense this last conflagration possibly may be the answer. I can understand Arab pride. To have been defeated as they were in 1948, 1956, and 1967 and possibly again now, to have a- victory, however small, is important to their national pride, and I am sure that that has continued to be the reason they have carried on the hostilities. The Arab leaders, having created a monster - the monster of Israel - continually have had to go back to their own people for political purposes, and any sign of weakness against Israel would have been the end of any Arab leader. Now Sadat and others can go back to their countries and say: ‘Look, we had a win’. One hopes that, having been able to convince their people that this was a victory, no matter how small, their honour will be satisfied and they can sit down and negotiate. This is important because the fundamental principle for which Israel stands is that negotiations must take place between the countries concerned. Once those negotiations are started, anything is possible. I believe even the problem of the Arab refugees can be solved. But it depends fundamentally on the willingness of the Arab countries to accept the right of Israel to exist and to be prepared to sit down and work out an amicable arrangement with the parties concerned.
– It is an odd and somewhat unnerving experience for an Australian to travel overseas at the moment, as I have just done to a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in London, travelling through 4 South-East Asian countries, the United States of America, France as well as the United Kingdom. The reason why it is odd and somewhat unnerving for Australians to travel abroad at the moment is that there seems to be more than a little uncertainty about the direction that this country is taking in world affairs and in our region. A feeling of untrustworthiness is developing about the activities and the intentions of the Australian Government. It is quite clear that what is getting across to the world is not the independent stance which some members opposite had intended, but a sort of arrogant isolationism. This attitude bewilders many of our friends and old allies and again and again one is asked overseas: ‘Are the Australian people really like that, or are the Australian masses really like that?’ This is all the more marked because so much had been expected in a way of the new Labor Government of this country.
We on this side of the House have had our difficulties in recent years. We had not always uttered a clear line in foreign policy thinking. So, there was a very considerable interest overseas in what might happen here and the sort of new face we might turn to the world. I think I can say that the stages through which our allies and neighbours have gone in looking at us are something like this: The stage of being interested, - then excited, then amused, then bored, then anxious and finally amazed. They showed interest at first in some of the ideas of the new Government and an interest in how the new Government would go and what sort of difference it would make. They were excited by our 2-man dictatorship because we were trying out a pattern that has been fairly well tried around so many parts of the world.
– That is what you and Jim Forbes were.
– They were amused at the antics of the Government, as illustrated just then by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). Our neighbours and allies were then bored by the Government’s childishness and by the sort of early adolescent behaviour which its members were displaying. After that I would say our neighbours were anxious at the behaviour of a country which was an old ally and an old friend. I think finally they have become amazed at the new Australian ugliness which the Labor Government has been per petuating around the world and at home, an Australian ugliness which, as I suggested to this House the other day, would leave the best efforts of our most notorious tourists for dead.
The Americans sum up the position pretty well by asking: ‘What in the hell is going on down under?’ The Americans know that they are in awful trouble. They have a quaint, oldfashioned feeling that maybe in their time of trouble they may have been able to rely on their friends. Again, they have a quaint but perhaps old-fashioned belief that Australia is their friend and that there are few nations which have more bonds than the United States of America and our country. They had a feeling that we might have been one of those nations which would not have indulged in cheap smears and sneers in their time of trouble. The Americans know the trouble they are in. They do not need our Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to tell them. They have seen Australia as a sort of last frontier. Many Americans still see Australia in these terms, not unnaturally, because their frontiers are disappearing. They have seen Australia as a sort of last frontier where there are certain basic values which they have cherished. They have seen Australia as a free country and they are astounded that those things which Australians cherished - the freedoms from too much government, from too much arbitrariness and from interfering nonsense - are in the melting pot if they are not out of the window today. The Americans understand Australia’s desire to have a clear, strong and uniquely Australian voice, but they rather fear, as so many around the world do, that we have gone a good deal further than that. The Americans will have to live with their troubles for a while yet and therefore something will be asked of us.
Watergate is far from over and it goes, as we all know, so deep. Of course, Watergate has helped some people, as I discovered in South East Asia. It is doing great things for the cause of corruption in developing countries. It is also doing something for the British monarchy and doing great things for the parliamentary system. Everywhere in the United States of America the point is made: If only we had a little bit of your accountability. Some thought that the Lambton affair, with its repercussions around the world, might have let the Americans off the hook. But even the Lambton affair made the situation all the worse because the Americans remarked on how expeditiously those little problems had been handled.
It was very odd to visit Paris and to be asked by so many people in France: ‘Is it true that the Australian people like the Communist Chinese more than they like the French, or is it that they are just a little hypocritical in their attitudes to bombs?’ I was able to tell the French that the postal workers’ boss, when asked whether he would also put a ban on Chinese mail as well as on French mail, said that he would not. He was asked the reason and he said: ‘Well, the point is that in the one case they have let it off in their own territory and in the other it is in our neck of the woods’. That answer did not satisfy the interviewer who pushed the postal workers’ boss a bit further. The postal workers’ boss said: ‘Well, one is an imperialist’s bomb and the other is a working man’s bomb’. The point was fairly well taken by the French.
The British, bound still by so many bonds to Australia - bonds of history and kinship - are not altogether surprised at the behaviour of the new Whitlam Government. They feel that they have seen it all before in the behaviour of the now dead Wilson Government.
The Singaporeans are waging almost daily verbal war on Australia, particularly through their official organs and frankly they despise the Australian Government’s approach. On the other hand the New Zealand Labor Government has seen its opening and is leaping in to create even stronger ties of goodwill in the region where the Australian Labor Government is sacrificing them. The South Vietnamese want to know whether the Australian people want the communist aggressors to win. The Malaysians and Indonesians reckon that we do not know we are alive. Our strutting, our crudeness, our know-all qualities, our apparent innocence but our questionable credibility on the nature of the region and its problems, our unwillingness to listen - all these features of the behaviour of the Australian Government are making their mark on our reputation in our region.
In South Vietnam the war is going on. Every day northerners are infiltrating and skirmishing and a major attack is expected. All of our neighbours face major problems of subversion. They look with the wariest possible eye on the activities of the major powers. The great reason why they did not want us to leave Vietnam is that they felt we might be replaced by less friendly powers in the region. The new accords with China, the so-called detente between the super powers, impressed them not one bit. They are more inclined to believe the views of the Communist Chinese Government than the views of the Whitlam Government on matters like this. They believe along with the Chinese Communist Government that the detente is a lot of hog wash and that the revolution is on the march as much as it ever was. If anyone would doubt this I refer to Mr Chiao Kuan.Hua’s recent and major address to the United Nations. The point is that they believe the Australian Government is building a fool’s paradise down here. They understand the tragic necessity of preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Locock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We are engaged at the moment in watching a most tragic occurrence, the conflict in the Middle East. In the course of that conflict, there has been considerable pressure brought on to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitiam) and on to the Government to condemn the Arab nations as aggressors in this latest instalment of fighting. The Prime Minister has refused to do this, wishing to say nothing which might diminish any influence Australia has or which might militate against our desire to help bring the conflict to an end. In this attitude, he has been completely supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden).
No one can deny, I think, that it is in our interests and in the world’s interests to end this fighting now and to see that it does not spread into a world conflagration as there is always a possibility that it might. Now it seems that actual fighting might cease, not because of the United Nations but because the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America both want it to cease. Therefore, it is surely time for us as a Parliament to say what we as a nation, or as a Parliament, would like to see happen after the ceasefire; what our diplomatic representatives should work for now and in the future.
It is clear that this latest fighting is not an isolated affair. It is a symptom of an endemic danger to whch my friend, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), has referred. It is an endemic danger which is continuing and which has periodically in the past erupted into war and which, whatever happens now in the way of a ceasefire, will undoubtedly erupt in war again in the future unless the underlying causes are removed or the Soviet and the United States act in concert to prevent any future aggression and to maintain peace.
I would like to see the Parliament and the nation adopt as goals the achievement of justice and of continuing peace in this area, not only to avoid the bestiality of limited and endemic war but also to avoid the danger which such war poses to the world and, therefore, to Australia. In the first place, I believe that we ought to support the concept that Israel has the right to exist, that it must not be exterminated and that it has the right to so exist with security and with a guarantee of peace. She should not be subjected to constant and publicly expressed threats of destruction. I believe that we should support the concept that she should retain borders which are defensible and should have secure access to the Gulf of Aqaba.
I believe that there should be real and credible guarantees to all countries in the area against attack from any country in the area, including Israel. I believe that there should be a world effort to settle the Palestinian refugees and to see that they have a chance of a life better than that which they now have. I believe too that the only way in which these goals can be achieved in the short and middle term is for the United States and the Soviet Union to give such guarantees and to mean them; to refuse to arm and to train countries in the area to the extent that they could be posed as a threat to any other country, and to make it so clear that they are believed that if any future aggression does take place from any direction, they will act in concert to defeat it at once. If this could be done, in the longer term the growth of tolerance in the absence of war, the growth of relations of various kinds between the countries and the growth of understanding would be possible. Those things might develop. If they did, it would be the ultimate and real guarantee of a continuing peace after that time.
It may be that the approach that I suggest will be dubbed naive or idealistic. I hope it will not be dubbed divisive. It is not meant to be and I do not think it is. But if it is naive and idealistic it is at least an approach. What other possibilities are there, given the history and the existing situation and looking into the future, of preventing an outbreak of war in this area again? Three million Israelis will not allow themselves to be exterminated; nor should they. There is still, and will be for some time, an understandable feeling on the part of the Arab nations. If this is so, is there anybody here who believes that the United Nations itself - just the United Nations - could prevent an outbreak or stop an outbreak of war? Is there anybody who does not believe that the United States and the Soviet Union, acting in concert, could do that?
If it is idealistic, it is idealistic. But this nation should be prepared to try to reach an idealistic goal if that is the only goal which seems to offer a solution to a problem of such magnitude. And, who knows? Other problems which have seemed insoluble, other approaches which have seemed at first to be idealistic, have ultimately succeeded. Unless some other better approach can be suggested I would like to see Australia, through its Government, adopt the attitude and instruct its diplomatic representatives to try to bring about the goals which I have suggested; not from any partisan spirit but from a real belief that this is at the heart of a continuing peace in the Middle East and, therefore, in the world.
– I wish to put on record some additional comments on a different topic. I hope that the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) and the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) will pardon me if I move away from the theme of the Middle East and return to Papua New Guinea which we were discussing earlier in this debate. I want to put on the record of the Committee, in relation to future defence relations with Papua New Guinea, the words of Professor J. D. B. Miller who, earlier this year, had this to say:
Defence aid, is of course, a very special case. Australia has been gravely at fault in delaying so long the separation of the armed forces in Papua New Guinea from those of Australia. To this day, they are part and parcel of the Australian services. Frantic efforts are being made to separate them out, but it is proving a much harder task than it would have been even a few years ago: as the Australian defence organisation has grown more complex, so have run deeper the roots which have to be pulled up in order to make a Papua New Guinea defence organisation a separate body. This is a matter on which we should have taken lessons long ago from the British. The forces in Papua New Guinea should have been under the control of the local Administrator and accounted for in the local budget, even if we put up most of the money. Now everything has to be done in a hurry, and Papua New Guinea, which has never had to pay for its armed forces, is faced with the prospect either of paying for them all of a sudden, which would be financially ruinous, or of getting rid of them, which might be socially disastrous, or of asking the former colonial power to pay for them, which is potentially troublesome from a political standpoint.
Further, he had this to say:
I am thus suggesting that Australia will need to face the preparation of both a general independence treaty and a defence agreement, the terms of which should be worked out with the Papua New Guinea government and publicised in both countries so that people can digest them. These two will constitute a formidable task. Politicians and officials would probably shrink from getting them in order and publicising them widely: they have so much else to do, and they are not likely to want to stretch their scarce time to settle the details of public documents which may well prove highly contentious. But it seems to me that independence will demand this sort of operation, and that it should constitute the main task in the interval between full self-government and independence. An agreed ground-plan for relations between the two countries would serve us well in future; what we have to guard against above all is misunderstanding, especially in the aid and defence fields. If, for example, we do not have a clear and precise defence agreement which describes the circumstances in which Australia would be prepared to consider a Papua New Guinea government’s call for armed intervention, say in a case similar to the East African mutinies in 1964 or in the event of regional insurgency, we shall be in real trouble. Personally, I want these occasions to be as few as possible, and I do not want Australia to police Papua New Guinea; but misunderstandings are much less likely if the possibilities are spelled out beforehand than if they are left in a fog. The same appears to be true of project aid policy.
Those words express what I have been saying in this chamber over the last 6 or 8 months. In saying this, I do not imply that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) disagrees with what I am saying because I realise that there are practical limitations upon his ability to achieve all the things he would like to achieve. What I am saying is that we must look into these matters.
I understood the attitude of the previous Government and, in relation to these particular defence matters, I am of the view that there is a great deal of similarity between the policy restrictions upon the present Minister and the policy judgments of my Party in the past. I am quite certain that over the next5 or 6 years having regard to the immediate economic future of Australia, it will be in our best interests to be able to come to some form of arrangement, to express it properly and to understand what its limitations and, above all, its responsibilities will be. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will have an opportunity to discuss with Cabinet the message that is in the words that I have put before the Committee this evening. I hope that on some future occasion, within at least the next 6 months, he will be able to give us the result of his consideration.
– I propose to make some observations on some of the speeches delivered during the course of the Estimates debate. Perhaps I could start with the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). In his short statement he rather emphasised the obvious. I think that all political parties in the Parliament would accept the proposition that there should be justice in the Middle East, that there should be a settlement of the Palestinian problem and that Israel has the right to exist. This has been a policy of the Labor Party since the time of Dr Evatt who played an important role in the establishment of the state of Israel.
Nobody will deny the proposition that there should be justice in the Middle East, that the Palestinian problem should be resolved and that Israel has the right to exist. This afternoon the right honourable member for Higgins seemed to indicate that these were brand new thoughts that he had conjured up in perhaps the internecine warfare between himself and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). But he raised the possibility of joint enforcement by the United States of America and the Soviet Union in respect of difficulties in the Middle East. There is no doubt that the United States and the Soviet Union have been acting as policemen in the Middle East. The only difficulty is that they have been on different beats. I would have thought that over the last few days there was some earnest of intention on the part of the Soviet Union and the United States to act in a joint manner to resolve the difficulties in the Middle East. I believe that the proposition that they should undertake joint enforcement in respect of violations of the situation in the Middle East could well be a point of discussion between the 2 powers at the present moment. I am delighted that the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) enjoyed his visit overseas; but one wonders, if he can come back only weaving a lightweight web of words without any substance, whether the amount of money that the Parliament pays for these exercises is worthwhile. Is the honourable member for Chisholm suggesting that we unrecognise the People’s Republic of China?
– No, not for a moment.
– Is he suggesting then that we should put troops back into Vietnam?
– No one suggested that.
– This is the proposition. He is saying that he does not agree with the
Government’s policy; but on each point we bring up, on each of the major things which we have done and which he has sought to criticise, he is not prepared-
– I did not seek to criticise.
– What did the honourable member say? I had the greatest of difficulty trying to understand what he was saying. It is one of the roles of the Minister at the table-
– It is the way you do things and what you sacrifice in doing them - the interests of other nations and the interests of this nation.
– There we are again. We have these broad, generalised terms. Now let us get down to some specifics. What precisely has the Australian Government done in foreign affairs since taking office, to which the honourable member objects?
– I object in particular to the way in which you did the whole China thing.
– Come, come! We have arrived at the question whether the Liberal Party, if it ever came back to power, would not continue to recognise China.
– No one has suggested that.
– All right. Let us leave the proposition there. The great difficulty with Opposition members when they were in government was that they had become so accustomed to being Uncle Sam’s nephew or Mother England’s son that they forgot what it was like to be a grown up Australia. This is the great difficulty honourable members opposite faced throughout the whole period for which they were in government. What other people said had a great influence on what the then Australian Government should have been able to think out for itself. I do not wonder that Opposition members are so mesmerised by Australian foreign policy because they never knew what an Australian foreign policy was. This Government has brought to foreign policy an Australian content.
– A larrikin content.
– These general phrases keep coming up. I have not heard one member of the Opposition make a statement on what we have done and what actions we have taken in foreign policy which, if they were in government, they would not continue. Let us get to the propositions. Let us stop the generalities.
Opposition members will continue to recognise China. They will not put troops back into Vietnam. They will not put troops back into Malaysia and Singapore. These are the propositions. Until honourable members opposite are prepared to stand up and specify each item that they are prepared to do when they come into government, if they ever come into government, their generalities fall completely to the ground. Mr Deputy Chairman, I think that this concludes the debate on the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of External Territories. I must say that I have been disappointed by the standard of comment by members of the Opposition. Very few points that were raised demanded or required any comment from the Government.
– I want to answer very briefly the comments made by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison). I was listed originally to speak on the estimates we are now discussing, but I let my place on the list go. Most of us on this side of the chamber have been aroused by the browbeating speech given by the Minister. He has completely twisted the sentiments expressed by my friend, the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley). The point is that the Australian Labor Government came to power at a time when the whole world’s approach to China had changed not so much because of the attitude of the rest of the world to China but because of the attitude of China itself. China is a country that was seeking dialogue with the rest of the world. I clearly recall in my own Party moves being made months ago to try to accommodate Mainland China without throwing down the drain our friends, the people of Taiwan. The Minister, who looks rather flushed - he is probably worried - omitted any reference to a country with a population larger than ours. The Australian Labor Party Government just threw to the wind the people of Taiwan. That is one point of difference between our policy on China and that of the Government. Earlier this year we had the exhibition of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) all describing the leaders of the United States as a pack of murderers.
– The honourable member for Petrie says: ‘disgraceful’. That is a mild word. The Labor Party seems to think that by attacking the United States it is adopting a stance of independence which will command the admiration of the entire world and that by attacking the United States we might neutralise some of the suspicions that some countries have about Australia. But the fact of life is that the United States, through thick and thin, has proved to be a good friend and ally of Australia. I am the last one who would stand up in this Parliament and say that in the event of a problem the United States would have come rushing to our aid, but I believe that the friendship of the past gave us greater access to a friendly umbrella than would be available at times such as these when we have in office a party which is fully occupied with endeavouring to insult the President of the United States. I am not talking about the man who holds the presidency but about the office of President of the United States. I clearly recall earlier this year that Mr Fred Brenchley of the ‘Australian Financial Review’ or some other newspaper came back from the United States and ran an article on the front page saying that the President of the United States had refused to see the Australian Prime Minister. I asked a question in this House. An Opposition member is able to ask only one question every 3 weeks. I thought that the issue was so important that I used up one of those opportunities which arise every 3 weeks to ask the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) a question. He waved the matter off as if it was just a lot of hogwash from a reporter trying to obtain a new slant.
– It was one of his non-answers.
-It was one of his non-answers. Subsequently the picture clearly unfolded that the man who holds the office of President of the United States was not really interested in meeting the leader of this bunch of alley cats which sits on the other side of the chamber. If honourable members opposite think that their foreign policy is right and if they think all their other policies are right, why do they not give the Australian people the opportunity to show what they think of what the Government is doing.
If anything turned me off in the last week it was a photograph which appeared on the front page of the Brisbane ‘Courier-Mail’ of that delightful lady, Her Majesty the Queen, seated with a bunch of Labor Ministers. Along the top appeared the words: ‘All the Queen’s Men’. The Queen has gone back to the United Kingdom so I can now say that the truth is that this Labor Party Government, if the opportunity presents itself, will cut Australia’s ties with England so quickly that the Queen will not even know that it has happened. How those Ministers had the temerity, the audacity, to sit there being photographed with the Queen is beyond my comprehension. As far as I am concerned, it was a display of hypocrisy. I am not saying that all honourable members opposite are hypocrites. There are only 27 Ministers, so that cuts down the number. Even a photograph of the Leader of the House (Mr -Daly) appeared in the Brisbane Courier-Mail’. How I had a fit of the horrors, how I had sad memories of the way he gags debate in this Parliament and hardly gives us a chance to speak. The honourable member for Chisholm made points which related to the change of course that this country had taken since 2 December last. Might I simply conclude by stating that this small nation in the South Pacific, a nation of 13 million people, with a land mass in excess of 3 million square miles, does not have the capacity to stand alone. We can pipe dream about a neutralised world, but until there are other indications that this will become a reality we have to depend on our friends in case there comes a time of turmoil.
– I was inspired to speak by the remarks of the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). I think the time is long overdue when this nation decides to stand alone because it has been dragged into successive wars by its allegiance to the great powers. The real reason why the former Government could not recognise the People’s Republic of China is that it had condemned the People’s Republic of China for so long that it did not want to take a complete political somersault which would have made it appear ridiculous in the eyes of the Australian community and the peoples of the world, particularly of South East Asia. It is as clear as crystal to anyone now that the previous Government was following blindly the foreign policy of the United States. We were complete lackeys to the United States; we were complete puppets of the United States.
The United States respects the present Australian Government more than it respected the previous Government because we have principle and forthrightness. I one time worked with lackeys. No one will get you into trouble more than a lackey who says: ‘Yes, yes, yes. You are right, boss’. You will run into trouble quicker with that man than you will with a man who expresses an independent opinion. America respects this Australian Government because it has expressed an independent opinion. The previous Government heralded the visit to this national capital of a man who is now in disgrace in the United States. I refer to the former Vice President, Spiro Agnew. During his visit 16 young Australian boys were arrested. All were of clean character prior to appearing before the court on. that occasion. I think that the supporters of the previous Government, now the members of the Opposition, should hang their heads in shame. The previous Government entertained in Canberra every spiv and every crook from South East Asia. If it was not Air Vice Marshal Ky, it was Park from South Korea. If it was not Park from South Korea, it was Spiro Agnew. If it had had a chance it would have entertained Darcy Dugan on the steps of Parliament House. What did the Prime Minister remind the Parliament yesterday? Before I quote what the Prime Minister said about the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Opposition, I look at the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and I remember him sitting over here on the Government benches at one time.
– You will see him back again, too.
– He will not be saying the things he said and wanted to say. I challenge him to deny this: He advocated that the time was ripe to drop the hydrogen bomb on the People’s Republic of China not so many years ago, but he never repeated it because powerful influences went to work - I think it was in the days when Sir Robert Menzies was Prime Minister - and warned him never to say it again. He advocated the bombing of women and children in the People’s Republic of China, which was figthing for a new way of life.
What did the Prime Minister remind us of yesterday about the attitude of the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock)? What did he say on the television program ‘Monday Conference’ on 1 October when he was under cross-examination by the interviewers? He said: What is wrong with recognition of the People’s Republic of China?’ He said that its recognition was a matter of common sense. He was asked whether he believed in the recognition of North Vietnam and he said that it was eminently sensible. He was asked what he thought of the Whitlam Government’s recognition of East Germany. He said that he welcomed the recognition of East Germany. This was the response of the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs to those questions, but it has not been the attitude of members of the Opposition this afternoon in this debate. Obviously there has been a complete change. There is such a rabble opposite that members opposite do not know which way they are going. I would not let any of them lead me to a waterhole if I were dying of thirst.
– I am a latecomer to this debate but I have been provoked by the pathetic attempt by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) to gloss over the disarray of the Government’s foreign policy. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs, has had many overseas trips since becoming Prime Minister last December. Each of those trips was heralded by a great fanfare of trumpets before he left, but each has been shown to be a disaster on his return home. I remember his first excursion to South-East Asia. He put forward some proposal for a nuclear-free zone, but it went over like a wet blanket among the other heads of state to whom he spoke in South-East Asia. They began to wonder just what this chap was on about and which side he was on.
Then we had the experience of his going to Mexico and trying to sell a proposal to the Mexican Government that it should form some cartel with Australia to keep control of and put pressure on the consumers of raw materials. That proposal took off like a lead balloon. He proceeded from Mexico to Washington where he had a grudging interview with some minor officials in the State Department and a short interview with the President, brought about because of the suggestion that it would be a great embarrassment to Australia’s Prime Minister, having arrived in Washington without an invitation, to be left sitting in the cold.
What did he do then? From Washington he proceeded to New York where he commenced to insult his host, the President of the United States. He offered suggestions on how he should run his government. He had the hide to come into this House yesterday or this morning and criticise other people, the Premier of Queensland for example, for making comments about the Australian Government while they were abroad. I can well remember supporters of the
Government when they were in Opposition last year making a regular practice when they were abroad of criticising the Australian Government and, ipso facto, the Australian people who elected that Government. I remember that Dr Cairns went to Fiji and criticised Australia and its government. Members opposite went to New York and criticised the Australian Government and the Australian people. They went all over the world criticising Australia, yet now they have the hide to complain when other people take a lesson from their book and do the same.
To advert again to the Prime Minister’s overseas visit, he proceeded to the Prime Minister’s Conference in Ottawa. What did he do there? He gave Mr Trudeau some helpful hints on how he ought to be running Canada. He gave Mr Heath some helpful hints on how he ought to be running the United Kingdom. He gave Mr Lee a few hints on how he ought to be running Singapore. I suggest that none of those gentlemen would be prepared to have tea with the Prime Minister, let alone have any civil words, with him after his performance in Ottawa.
Goodness only knows what will happen when the Prime Minister and his entourage don their tails and silk hats and go next week to Japan. What a line up of intelligentsia he is taking with him. He will have with him the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) and a battery of high powered diplomats. They will go to Japan and probably move through that country with the delicacy of a herd of elephants in a china shop. This is the attitude of the Government to foreign policy. It is an attitude which is bringing Australia into disrepute not only in this region of the world but also throughout every other country.
– What is wrong with going to Japan?
– There is nothing wrong with going to Japan, but I forecast that the delegation to Japan will open its mouth and put its foot in it at least once while it is in Japan. I only hope it will have the courtesy not to do it in the Imperial Palace. This is the sort of disrepute to which the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) referred in his speech on these estimates. It is a deep-seated objection which the Minister for External Territories completely avoided mentioning. He put his head in the sand, made a few silly fourth form remarks about the comments of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) and proceeded to dismiss, pretend to misunderstand and be stupid about the comments of the honourable member for Chisholm. If this is the fashion in which foreign policy in Australia is to be conducted all one can say is heaven help the country. All one can do is look forward to an early election date when this gang opposite can be thrown out.
– One cannot but be amazed at the comments that come from members of the Opposition. Irrespective of what members of the Opposition may feel personally, I am completely confident that the majority of Australians want to be recognised as Australians and want Australia to be recognised as the nation of Australia. They do not want to be recognised as another State of the United States of America, as another island of the United Kingdom or as the second island of Taiwan. They want to be recognised as Australians. Certainly after so many years it is time members of the Opposition had enough courage to start developing that kind of attitude rather than projecting the thoughts and opinions of countries across the water. It has been clear in recent weeks that this is the main motive behind their actions. One has only to mention the terrible words foreign donors to Liberal-Country Party funds’ to see the look that comes across the faces of members opposite. They may squeal and scream, but one can gauge the reaction.
There has been no more certain or concrete piece of evidence relating to the change in identity of Australia as Australia than the announcement by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) of the new contract for the sale of wheat to China. It is a 3-year contract and it provides for an annual review of prices. For the first time in Australian history something has been achieved that our wonderful opponents in the Country Party, have sought and wanted for years but which their reactionary attitude to foreign affairs could never let them achieve. One would have thought that in the goodness of their hearts and from a sense of fair play they would have paid some small compliment to the Minister for Overseas Trade and said: ‘Yes, we think this is a good contract. We are proud for Australia that it has been achieved.’ As a direct result of that contract, some members opposite stand to receive more than any other Australians from the signing of this new contract, from the certainty of sales and from an annual review of prices which will ensure for the product a fair market price which is in accord with the world market price. One would have thought that members opposite would have said something favourable about it but they could not do so because they have too many masters to serve in other places. They cannot rise in their places and put forward a point of view which places Australia first. So far as they are concerned it is donors first and Australia later. As a result of this wheat contract Australian primary producers will have certainty of production and a certain future. One would have thought that members opposite would have adopted a reasonable attitude and congratulated the Minister for Overseas Trade and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and said: ‘Yes, this is a good move. We support you. Now what can we do about trying to increase the size of the contract?’ Instead of that, they asked: ‘What is the price? How much will we get for it?’ They were the only comments that came from the corner of the chamber in which members of the Country Party sit - cockies’ corner. It is a fact of history that the Australian Labor Party has done more constructive things on a long term basis for the rural man than the Country Party has done by any of its jobbed up, subsidised, propped up schemes.
– This is a foreign affairs debate.
– I am very sorry if the honourable member for Chisholm has difficulty in relating the results of the overseas activities of the Minister for Foreign Affairs with the achievement of the new wheat contract. I am sorry for him. I will repeat to him what I have said, if he wishes, or send him a copy of Hansard tomorrow morning. Let the reactionaries opposite state what they would change in our foreign policy. Do they want us not to recognise the People’s Republic of China now that the contract has been signed? Do they want us to say that we will wipe the contract and go back to not recognising the People’s Republic of China but recognising Taiwan? Will they please, for the guidance of all of the people of Australia, at some stage tell us what they want. The people of Australia want to know what honourable members opposite want.
I also visited Asia recently and passed through some of the countries mentioned by the honourable member for Chisholm and the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar). It is very strange that I did not experience the feelings or the expressions that both of them say they experienced. It may be that they had tape recorders in their pockets and that their opinions had been formed before they left Australia. But one would have thought that they would have taken some cognisance. I notice that the honourable member for Warringah is smiling. I smile with him. I recall some of the toasts that were proposed - I admit that it was not he who proposed them, but a member of the Country Party - to ‘comrades’.
– It was not me though, was it?
– The honourable member says that it was not him. I shall not indict him. I say to the members of the Country Party and the members of the Liberal Party who want to do something for Australia: How about having a listen to what the average Australian wants? He wants to be known as an Australian. He does not want to be known as an American or Taiwanese, or whatever label one wants to put on him.
In conclusion, I want to touch on the visit of Her Majesty the Queen to Australia and the cries in this place some weeks ago about her being described as the Queen of Australia. The Queen herself was here last week. I remind honourable members opposite - those reactionaries who have difficulty in mouthing words - that when the debate on her new title took place in this House some weeks ago there were cries of horror from honourable members opposite about the new title, despite the assurances given by supporters of the Government that it was the Queen’s own desire that she be known as Her Majesty the Queen of Australia. Honourable members opposite, not having heard from or had communication with the United Kingdom for a long time, could not believe that it was Her Majesty’s desire. I compliment - I am sure all other supporters of the Government do - Her Majesty the Queen of Australia on her announcement in this building only last week that it was her desire to be known as the Queen of Australia and that as long ago as 1947 it was the desire of King George VI that he be known as King George VI of Australia. I have reminded honourable members opposite of that in order to help them to understand their history.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the question be now put
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
Department of Education
Proposed expenditure, $145,351,000.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Education I must say that it is surprising to me that the Government has departed from the practice of making per capita grants to assist independent schools in providing education for the children in that system. The rather striking thing about this is that, firstly, per capita grants are the fairest method of assisting schools. There can be little doubt that wherever independent schools are providing a standard of education comparable to that of state schools there is a saving for the Australian taxpayer to the extent that those schools receive less financial assistance than the cost of educating children in state schools. The saving may be even greater now than it was in the past when the cost of educating children in primary schools was $308 per annum per child and secondary schools received $520 per annum per child. The taxpayer gets the benefit of such savings.
The Government is not responsible in any way for the provision of these schools. They are provided by the independent body. They also add a good deal to the interest in education. It is an advantage to have a friendly competition, as we see, between schools. I cannot understand why the Government has abandoned the system of giving per capita grants. The Government uses the excuse that some independent schools are not in need of assistance. But the reason that they are not in need has nothing to do with the Government or the taxpayer; it is because funds have been provided by individuals. By moving away from this system the Government is not giving reasonable assistance or encouragement to those schools to provide education. There is a necessity to keep the independent school system in operation if we are not to run into the anomalies which are arising at present.
In the Karmel report it is stated that the State governments are expected to continue the payments that were being made previously. Those payments were made on a per capita basis. In Canberra, where the Federal Government acts as a State government in education it will provide all the assistance, equivalent to the assistance provided by the States, on a per capita basis. The Government is providing per capita payments in Canberra on the one hand, and denying them on the other. This is a remarkable state of affairs. It has asked the States to continue to make per capita payments. The Karmel report at paragraph 1.23 refers to per capita payments in this way:
There is also the question of State government grants to non-government schools. The Committee has assumed that these will continue on the same bases as presently operate. The extent of Commonwealth assistance to meet the needs of non-government schools depends on the assistance that they are receiving from State governments. Clearly, coordination of Commonwealth and State action in areas of common concern (if not of identical policy) is desirable. The Committee believes that this is a matter which should be discussed between the Commonwealth and State governments.
The Committee admits that these are areas of common concern. A per capita payment system is used in relation to schools in the Australian Capital Territory, yet when it comes to the provision of Commonwealth funds for our independent schools the payments are not made on a per capita basis. In the copy of the Karmel report I have it is interesting to note that there are 2 paragraphs 6.41. I believe that the first one should be paragraph 6.31 it follows 6.30. Nevertheless paragraph 6.31 states:
Secondly, as pointed out in paragraph 1.20 the recommendations are based on the assumption that State governments will continue to contribute from their own resources to raising the quality of education. There seems no reason why this should not be achieved, although after 1975 the rate of increase of the States’ contributions towards improved quality may slow down when primary enrolments begin to rise rapidly once again. Thus, the Committee expects that by 1975, real, (not money) resources used per pupil will have moved by more than one-third of the way towards the 1979 targets.
The Committee suggests here that primary school enrolments may rise rapidly once again. When one considers the tremendous effort that has been made by the independent schools in the fields of primary and secondary education, one would think that the Government would give every school every encouragement to carry on mis work. After all, why not? This system has been approved by this Federal Government over many years. There was a time when there was very strong opposition to assistance to other than government schools. This opposition has gone by the board. I hope that it will never again be a matter of concern to the Australian public that assistance should be granted solely to government schools. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The very good results that have been achieved in both government and independent schools are such that I think one system has been a contributing factor to the success of the other.
I should like to know just what the saving in revenue would be by the reduction or the elimination of aid to some independent schools. I asked this question on 11 September but have not yet received an answer. If parents decide to send their children to other independent schools or to government schools, will there be sufficient classrooms and teachers to accommodate those children if some of the independent schools cannot carry on? What extra capital and recurrent expenditure would be required if all students had to be accommodated in government schools? How many extra teachers would be required to teach those children who had been provided with teachers by the dedicated independent schools throughout the Commonwealth? What is the saving per capita and in total of expenditure to the Government through children being educated at independent schools? That total amount would be very interesting to me and I am sure to many other people. Does the Government desire to have all students attend government schools? That is, I believe, one of the reasons behind the idea of trying to cut off a group of schools. That is not only my opinion, it is also the opinion of parents associations. The whole body of independent schools, whether they are classed as needy schools or schools which by the generosity of the parents of the children attending those schools are in a better position, right across the board all should receive a per capita payment. They know - if anyone would know, they would - the danger of chopping off a certain section of schools from these payments. The withdrawal of these payments could be a continuing operation. Once one lot of schools is lopped from the top of the list, another lot of schools comes to the top and they could be lopped too. It would be a continuing operation.
– Tell us about the hundreds and hundreds of schools that are getting more.
– I am talking about the principle. I am talking about the saving. It is all very well for the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) to talk about some other angle. What I am saying is that all schools being provided with per capita payments, are deserving of assistance. There is a lot of noise coming from my left, the Government side of the chamber. Empty vessels make the most sound, and this is a good example of it. I believe that the Government should give more assistance to boarding schools because that is where people have to send their children because there are no school facilities available in outlying areas. The honourable member for Bowman would not be worried about that because he is not in an isolated district. The Paroo Shire Council at Cunnamulla is losing money. Honourable members opposite do not know how hard pressed local governments are. They are providing hostels for children to enable them to get some education. I hope that the Government will give more consideration to assisting those schools which provide boarding facilities. Additional assistance could be given through State governments to those local authorities or other reputable bodies such as the Country Women’s Association and chuch organisations which sometimes provide hostel facilities. I urge the Government to give consideration to assisting those people who are prepared to provide hostels and boarding facilities which the children in the outlying areas - the underprivileged children of this country - so sorely need.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
made and made very clearly. That is that the approach by the Government in phasing out aid for some of the categorised private schools is simply phase one in a program to eliminate private schools altogether. One has only to look at the statement which has been made by the Catholic bishops of Australia and the Anglican bishops of Australia to realise that they have not been taken in by this subtle approach by the Labor Party.
I am fortified in my view about the ultimate aims of this Government by a report on an education debate by the Labour Party in the United Kingdom because quite a number of old slogans and catchcries that have appeared in the report on that debate in the London Times’ recently have been repeated in this House by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) and others of his ilk.
They say that private schools provide an avenue for parents to buy privilege for their children and this is exactly the same sort of thing that the Labour Party in Britain is advocating. A report in the ‘London Times’ of 5 October 1973 dealing with the education debate in the British Labour Party is headed: Abolition of privilege but no pledge on “top 25” schools’. The British Labour Party spokesman on education is quoted in that article as saying:
We will never be able to abolish the concept of elitism in education while we allow some people to pay for education, not always better education, with the intention of buying privilege in education and in life afterwards. Privilege can never be defended on the grounds of freedom of choice.
That is what the education spokesman for the British Labour Party said about independent schools in that country. The same article reports another spokesman as saying that the Labour Party would never be able to abolish the concept of elitist education while they allowed some peole to pay for it. They had to start on the financial concessions made through rate relief and other tax reliefs. The outcome of the debate to which I have referred was that the policy espoused by the British Labour Party at the present time is that government money for private schools is to be phased out and not only are private schools to be stripped of government money but also they are physically going to be closed down in the ultimate.
– Whereabouts is this?
– In the United Kingdom. They will be closed because they say that it is contrary to the principles of Labour socialism that an independent school system should exist while there is a government-run comprehensive school system in existence. That provides the blueprint for the Labor Party in this country. Admittedly it is usually about 10 years behind but inevitably it moves towards the same conclusions and that is why I suggest that Anglican and Catholic bishops have been very wise in pointing out the disadvantages in the Government’s proposal and the techniques being used by this Government to suck in the unwitting parents for the guillotine next year.
I want to get off the subject of private schools for a moment because I do not want to be accused of speaking on behalf of rich and wealthy schools. Let me assure honourable members that I have none of those schools in my electorate, nor do I have any multinational corporations which pay my campaign fees.
– Are not you unlucky?
– I am very unlucky. I notice that my friends from Queensland the honourable member for Bowman and the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) are interjecting, and well they might in view of the public opinion poll figures published at the weekend which showed that support for the LiberalCountry Party was running at 52 per cent in their State. No wonder the honourable gentlemen are interjecting and doing all they can to try to put themselves in a better light. I wonder what they will say to their children when their children come home and say: Daddy, why is your Government cutting off aid for our schools?’
I now want briefly to mention something about government schools just to show that I am not entirely prejudiced. Let me point out to unbelieving members opposite that I started my school education in a government school - a state school. I probably attended a few deprived schools in my time as well. On the last occasion we were discussing the Estimates the honourable member for Casey said that illiteracy in secondary schools was very low these days. I asked him what he attributed that to and he gave me some jargon about input and outputs but basically his suggestion was that people cannot read and write as well today because of the enormous teacher-student ratio. I can assure him that in the school I attended during all of my primary schooling and for a substantial part of my secondary schooling there were no fewer than 60 pupils in the class. On one occasion for one whole year I can recall that a teacher was away sick and one teacher took 2 classes totalling something like 120 students. I can assure the honourable member that we can read and write better than the people who have been through classes of thirty and less. So in my submission his argument holds no water at all.
I want briefly to point out one part of the Karmel Report which appears to have been lost sight of by the Minister for Education, and that is the paragraphs dealing with community involvement in schools. I am a great believer in the principle that parents and the community generally ought to be far more involved in the school because after all the schooling of their children is of prime importance to the parents. Children learn not only from going to school. The contrary is a fallacy which professional organisations such as the teachers unions seem mistakenly to fall into. They assume that all education comes from the school and that it comes from trained professionals. This, of course, is not so. Children learn a tremendous amount from their parents. They learn a tremendous amount from other people with whom they mix in the community and they learn a tremendous amount from the people they mix with in their own peer group. So it is important, in my submission, that the community ought to be involved in what is taught at school and the way in which it is taught in school.
When the Schools Commission Bill was before the chamber and even in the debate on the Estimates there was no discussion at all of the Karmel Committee suggestion for community involvement. Recently the New South Wales Department of Education produced a consultative paper entitled ‘The Community and its Schools’. That paper suggested that communities ought to be involved in the running of schools. What happened? We find that these lofty professionals who have nothing but the good of education in view complained bitterly about that paper because they were not going to share responsibility with parents for running schools. What an impertinent attitude to take! After all, they are employed to teach children at schools, not to tell parents the way in which their children are going to be taught and what they are going to be taught at school.
Let me highlight some of the problems and dissatisfaction of parents who must send their children to government schools. One problem is the frequent turnover of teachers. This is not going to be solved by some bureaucratic organisation in Canberra. The most prevalent problem is the lack of concern which teachers have for the children. How often have honourable members been to a meeting and heard the remark that when the school bell rings the first person out the gate is the teacher? That is the situation in government schools throughout this country. Teachers are not prepared to wait after school for one second without being paid. Sports days cannot be organised because teachers will not participate in sports unless they are conducted during normal working hours. They want extra time to do their period marking and preparation. How many times is that time spent in doing the shopping and putting their bets on at the TAB?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– -We have heard a lot of whingeing and wailing from the Opposition tonight in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Education, but it is a fact of life that this Government has done more for education than any previous Federal government. Before I refer to the Karmel Committee and the arguments about category A schools and all the other vested interests that this team opposite are prepared to push, I should just like to instance a couple of things that this Government has done in terms of education, other than establishing the Karmel Committee. As from this Budget, university education will be completely free. Commonwealth advanced education and teachers’ colleges will also be completely free. The recurring capital costs of teachers’ colleges are to be met by the Commonwealth. Pre-school teachers’ colleges are entirely free. They are just a few of the things that the Opposition chooses not to mention. Let us look at the Budget allocation for education. It has increased from $439m in the days of the last Budget of the former Treasurer (Mr Snedden) to a staggering $843m under the Budget of the present Treasurer (Mr Crean), an increase of 92 per cent in one year. One could say that a 92 per cent increase in a Budget allocation, increasing it from $ 10m to about $20m, would be a substantial increase, but an increase from $400m-odd to $800m-odd is something that has never happened before in this Parliament.
All the debate on education by members of the Liberal and Country parties has been centred upon category A schools and how the wealthy parents have been chopped out of their lollies from the Commonwealth. That is what their contributions to the debate have been all about, not about the quality of education or the equality of opportunity for all Australian children regardless of their denomination or whether they attend a State school. This is not at issue; what is at issue is whether the Greater Public Schools from which most of the Liberal and Country Party members come will be able to get the money that was handed out by the Commonwealth under a per capita grants system which of course was devised by Mr Menzies in co-operation with Mr Santamaria and others.
– The honourable member for Angas laughs but he knows that the science blocks grants were the medium used by the Liberal Party to retain the preferences of the Democratic Labor Party. That is what those grants were all about. The Party of the honourable member for Angas which traditionally has absolutely no ties or connections with the Catholic community or the Catholic Church was prepared to subsidise science blocks in Catholic schools so that that money could go to rich Protestant schools. That is what that was all about. Honourable members opposite want that money to continue going to these schools, regardless of the children in poor schools throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. If we get back to the issue, that is what it is all about. Honourable members opposite have used the Catholic Church organisation and the parents and friends of that organisation to bolster their adherence to the per capita grants system so that they could keep money going to wealthy parents.
Let us get back to the wealthy parents. Anyone who is claiming the maximum taxation deduction for education of $600 and who is sending his child to a school where fees are around $800 or $900 a year is paying in excess of 50c in the $1 taxation - probably about 60c in the $1 - and about $400 of this $800 is returned to him as a taxation deduction; not only that but also 80 per cent of the students at those schools were receiving Commonwealth scholarships under the previous Government so that it meant the parents were again getting an increment from the Commonwealth by way of those scholarships; and not only that but also 90 per cent of the students of these schools went on to university and it was costing the Commonwealth Government of Australia about $5,000 per head per student for every year that they were at university. These greedy people got the cream of the crop all the way. They got the best that the Commonwealth was able to offer and for that they have used, cajoled and badgered and had every one in the establishment, including those bishops of the Catholic Church who were on-side, come in and back them to prop up a rotten, iniquitous per capita grants system that denied a child in an electorate such as the one I represent, at a school with a pupil-teacher ratio of about 50 to one the opportunity of obtaining a reasonable standard of education and access to tertiary education later. That is what it is all about.
The Australian Labor Party recognises this and believes that children in Australia should get a better opportunity. We established the Karmel Committee. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) set up the Committee within a few weeks of the Labor Party taking office. That Committee brought down recommendations. In making those recommendations the Committee decided to look at the resources of various schools. Professor Karmel and his Committee decided that they would establish an index which they called a resource index where an index of 100 represented State schools. They found that, on the basis of the criteria represented by the index of 100, some private schools were at a resource index level of 270. Some poor Catholic schools were on a resource index level of about 40 while a lot of government schools were below the index of 100. The aim of the Committee in its recommendations was to raise the quality of education to a resource index level of 140 by 1979. This Government will ensure continuing and increasing allocations to that end.
In this resource index range of 40 to 270 were all the schools in Australia. The Committee graded as category A schools those schools which presently have a resource index of between 140 and 270 and which have a resource index target of 140 by 1979. My Party at Cabinet level decided that we would subsidise these schools no longer and I think that this is a completely justifiable decision. But unfortunately, the whole debate has ranged around category A schools and not the enormous benefit that will go to the children across the length and breadth of Australia, regardless of denomination, because of the policies of this Government.
Honourable members opposite talk about how badly we have treated those schools. In regard to recurrent and capital costs for libraries and science blocks of category A schools, at the end of the program in 2 years’ time the amount allocated to these schools will total about $9.2m. Let me just refer to a couple of the schools to give honourable members some idea of the amount of money that has gone to these schools. Kincoppal school at Rose Bay, which could be regarded as a GPS quality school - a Catholic school - has received $128,000; Haileysbury College at Keysborough has received $303,000; Scotch College at Hawthorn in Victoria has received $236,000. The science block program will run until 1975 and the library program until 1974.
So these schools have been treated more than fairly. But we are obliged in terms of the media and of the establishment and the pressure which the Liberal and Country Parties can bring to bear to keep pouring money into category A schools.
If honourable members went to some of the schools around the foreshores of Sydney Harbour and the eastern suburbs they would see beautiful old schools with pupil-teacher ratios in the 20s, with lovely gardens and a flock of Mercedes and Jaguars out the front. Yet honourable members opposite argue that the parents of those children should get the same treatment as someone in my electorate with a child in a mud playground, being taught in a portable hut where the pupil-teacher ratio is about 40 to one. These grants have been used and abused too much but this will occur no more. What is more, once the report of the Karmel Committee is accepted by my Party and the Australian Schools Commission runs for a few years, honourable members opposite will not be game to change it back to the old system. The arguments of Mr Santamaria and others that the lack of bipartisanship will destroy the concept of aid to denominational schools is a lot of rubbish. He is saying that the system of granting money for education in the denominational area is in jeopardy because it does not have the support of the Greater Public Schools and of the protestant schools, which are basically in the GPS area, this being what he calls the lack of bipartisan support. The fact that the Karmel Committee is enshrined in a schools commission and in legislation with a major policy commitment by a one-Party Government which was elected at a Federal election does not cut any ice at all.
If the children of the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and people like him are not receiving a subsidy by going to the schools which their parents attended, Mr Santamaria believes that the LiberalCountry Party will no longer be interested in aid to denominational schools. On that basis the Catholic bishops ought to refuse the money going to their poor schools. Some of them are silly enough and criminal enough to fall for it. One can see the shabby, lousy, miserable politics that members of the Opposition played with Catholic children just to prop up an iniquitous per capita grants system so that wealthy people like them who do not wish to pay out money to educate their own children will receive a per capita grant from the Commonwealth of Australia on the same terms as a parent in my electorate who has perhaps an income of around $3,500 or $4,000 a year.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It has been interesting to listen to the rapid ravings of the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) about the A class schools as he so calls them. It is also interesting to note that he is the one who talked all the time about the A class schools. After all, the appropriation we are examining-
– What do you mean by ‘socalled’.
– Well, it is interesting that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has seen fit to remove many schools from this classification. It is particularly interesting to note that in Tasmania, which has no Liberal Party representative in this House - they are all Labor representatives - there is no school in category A. This has been a nice change of politics. It is also interesting to note that it was not the recommendation of the Karmel report that this classification should come into operation straight away. It recommended that the present scheme be phased out over a few years. But this Government, in indecent haste, has rushed in and brought it into operation as from December of this year.
In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Education I certainly agree with many facets of the Karmel report and in particular with the plans to involve parents more in schooling. I think we should all agree to that. Having been a member of the Parents and Citizens Association of the Golden Square High School for a number of years, I am well aware that there is a need for parents to be further involved in schooling. It is unfortunate that, even though we have such parent organisations, they are very limited in the involvement which they can have with the school. They are more involved, perhaps, in money raising for amenities, whether it be a private or public school. The organisations cannot be involved in the actual running of programs for the school. I wonder whether this is perhaps exactly the right thing. At the same time I acknowledge that the closer that parents can be tied to and involved with a school, obviously the better it will be for their children who are attending that school. The money allocated for education by this Government is, as has been noted, a magnificent sum. It is very good to see. But how much has it bled from the States in providing this’ money? Of the $480m about $200m was formerly provided for the States to spend on schools. So, is it really such a magnificent amount?
The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins), when speaking on this subject the other night, mentioned that students in form 3 at secondary schools were able to read only to the standard of grade 3 or 4 of a State school. I made a comment by interjection at that time that I thought this was a reflection on the teachers. I still say it is a reflection on the teachers. Despite what the honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow) has to say, I can cite figures for schools with which I have been associated which will show that the average level of all students is very high. In fact, in grade 6 there was a 90 per cent pass at matriculation. This is not due solely to the ability of the children; it is due to the quality of teachers that are available and their interest in the children.
I heard an honourable member say earlier that many of the teachers almost break their necks getting out of the school when the bell rings. This is a fact. When the teachers decide, in their 32 hours a week, that they should really work for the children and be prepared to put a little time into teaching them, we will see results. When I went to school, which would have been at the same time as many other honourable members of this House including the former school teacher, the honourable member for Holt, there were 40 or more students per teacher. But the teachers were prepared to put the time, effort and hard work into providing the necessary studies and the program for those children to succeed. The same does not apply today. Teachers are not prepared to do this in many schools. Fortunately in my electorate there is a very high grade of teacher. I think the results prove it. This is no reflection on my ability or that of any other individual except the person concerned - the teacher. I think my area is fortunate in that it has such conscientious teachers. In our area teachers are taking such an interest in what is going on that they are prepared to put their spare time into forming an education centre involving both parents and themselves. They are to be congratulated. It shows that they are prepared to give a little more time than merely the hours for which they are paid to work. This, after all, is surely what education is all about. If money is being allocated by the Government - we congratulate it for that - to provide amenities, I point out that amenities will not teach the children. It is the person at the helm, the teacher, who educates the children. The soon we realise that the better we will be.
I refer again to the subject which the honourable member for Blaxland, who has left the chamber, was loud in criticising and that is the classification of various schools. I make one point. The parents of the children involved are all taxpayers. All of us, irrespective of where our children go to school, pay taxes. Those taxes go into Consolidated Revenue from which the Government provides the funds for schooling. If those taxpayers are not entitled to a share of their money and have it working for them, I think it is total injustice. This Government is proving once again in its many ways of doing it that this is another injustice against the people who are paying taxes.
– Do you think all taxpayers should get their money back?
– All taxpayers should get some share of their taxes when they are put into the workings of the country. The honourable member should agree with that; if he does not he is not thinking straight. This shows the Government’s total discrimination against a section of the community. The Government is like a tiger with a smile on his face. He has just swallowed one animal and thinks it is very nice. The Government has knocked off all the schools in the A classification and will eventually work down the scale. It was part of the socialist Government’s platform against the whole lot and honourable members opposite know it. Honourable members opposite know that they are dead against any state aid at all but they are not honest enough to admit it. They stand up with self-righteous indignation and say: We are prepared to give state aid only to the lower schools’. What the Government really plans to do - and honourable members opposite are so ignorant and dumb that they do not realise what is going on in their Government - is attack all these schools with the intention of taking away state aid from every private school, whether it be Catholic or any other school.
– The honourable member knows it quite well, but he is frightened to admit it to his electors. There is no problem; this is the Government’s long term plan. It is part of the socialist plan to wipe out all private schools totally. It is a very nice-
– Let the Government spokesman continue.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! There are far too many interjections.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. The interjections do not worry me because honourable members opposite know that this is the thin edge of the wedge. They know that this is the start of their nice little program. At least those who are in the know appreciate that, but there are so many on that side of the House who are so dumb that they do not know that they are being led by the nose. The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) is trying to interject. His children go to a public school. In time to come he will say: ‘My God. It has happened to me. What is happening here? My Government has turned around and bitten me’. And it will. There will be no problem about that. This socialist Government is out to wipe out State aid totally.
– Tell us more.
– I will. What else would you like to hear? Do you want to find out how you are being fooled? You are being totally fooled by the programs of this Government. There is not a shadow of doubt about that fact. As soon as the people of this country realise that fact, they will put the Government out of office, because this is the thin end of the wedge. There is no reason in the world why it should select a few-
– What do you mean?
– In fact, over 100 schools have been selected-
– No, that is not right.
– The temporary Minister for Immigration will not be here for very long.
– I can tell you that with your help I will be here permanently.
– It is only a matter of time before the Government takes this action. If this Bill is passed, the Government will carry out its plans to rob the people and to take away from them their money which is working for them through taxation. The Gov ernment will not give them a share of it. Only a small number is involved at the moment, as indicated by the Minister for Education. But when the numbers finally come out, the figure of 100 will be reduced to 50. We should wait to see what happens next year. If the Government gets away with its proposals this year, those schools in category ‘B’ will start shaking in their shoes and those in category C will start worrying about what is going to happen.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– . . .
– Order! The honourable member will be seated.
– I wish to place on record my absolute confidence in and high regard for the teachers in my electorate. I shall make absolutely certain that the low level of regard held for those teachers by the Opposition is made well known to them. I rise to make one point-
– Who prepared this speech?
– I make one point alone.
– Why are you reading your speech? Who wrote this speech for you?
– We have heard the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett)-
– Order! I ask the Committee to come to order. The Minister at the table and several members on the Opposition front bench are setting a very bad example to other honourable members. I call the honourable member for Eden-Monaro.
– The honourable member for Maranoa and others have complained that the present policy of this Government on education discriminates against children who attend boarding schools. Let me place on record what has been done. This Government recognised for the first time the unique and special problem that exists in educating children from isolated areas. It was this Government which for the first time provided money in respect of those children. Between $300 and $1,000 is being paid in respect of each of those children. The Liberal-Country Party Government of New South Wales - a government of the same colour as honourable members opposite who rise and say that our Government has taken money from the hands of children who go to boarding schools - immediately the grant for isolated children was made available, withdrew the payment of $80 a year which it made in respect of those children. Who is taking money from the children who must leave isolated areas to attend boarding schools? The LiberalCountry Party Government in New South Wales withdrew $80 a year in respect of each child in that category because this Labor Government had taken on the responsibility of meeting this dire need.
But it did not only that. In Cooma, there is a hostel for these children. The moment that this assistance was paid by the Australian Government, the fees at that hostel were raised by the New South Wales Government by exactly that amount that was provided as base level assistance, $300. This is an example of money being taken from those children who must leave their homes and attend boarding school. We do not need to look very far for tangible evidence of this in the actions of the Liberal-Country Party Government which dominates New South Wales. Who else does? It has all authority. The Liberal-Country Party Government in that State is the one which has withdrawn money from children attending boarding schools. That is the only point I make. I make it and withdraw from the debate.
– Many of the speakers on the Government side in trying to defend the actions of their Government with regard to the withdrawal of aid to categorised schools have concentrated their attention on the withdrawal of aid from category A schools. However, if the figures are examined it can be found that there is in fact a withdrawal in real terms of aid from many schools in lower categories than category A. If one extends the figures on the basis of the current rate of increases in prices, or on the increases in average weekly earnings, or takes account of claims for salary and wage increases in the area of professional teachers, one can forecast the likely increase in the cost of education in State and independent systems. If one makes this forecast and is most conservative in one’s estimates, the result suggests that there will be a 10 per cent annual increase in the cost of educating children in State schools, reflecting itself in the cost of education in the independent system.
Aid in terms of the amounts provided for in the Karmel report will result in a real reduction in aid to the independent schools, not only those in category A but also, those in categories
B, C. D, E and possibly F, if the increases in the cost of education rise at the more likely rate of 15 per cent or even 20 per cent. So, it is totally dishonest to suggest that those members on this side of the Committee who express concern for independent schools are worried only about those schools categorised in category A. In fact, those schools are the least of our concern. We are worried for those parents who wish to exercise the freedom of choice to send their children either to a State school or to an independent school. They should have a choice and they should not be priced out of exercising that choice. The decisions of the present Government will have that effect and will make it extremely difficult for many parents to finance the fees necessary to pay for the education of their children in independent schools. Many parents of these children today are making supreme sacrifices in order to provide their children with the sort of education which they want to give them.
It strikes me as extraordinarily strange that at a time when we are talking about community involvement in education we should deny to a community of Catholics, a community of Jews, a community of Anglicans, a community of Presbyterians or a community coming together because the people have particular attitudes to a style of education, an opportunity to choose to send their children to a school because we impose upon them their obligation under the law to meet their taxes and at the same time require that they pay the total cost of their children’s education at an independent school if that school reaches a particular standard. If there is to be an adjustment between those with high incomes and those on lower incomes, let that adjustment be achieved from the tax systems and not by an indirect camouflaged system of taxation by imposing a price on people’s freedom of choice.
We have in office today a socialist Government. It is a Government which mouths the phrase ‘freedom of choice’. But when it is pressed on the point as to what it means, we find that it means a choice to make a decision within the limits of those alternatives selected by that socialist autocratic central Government. In this area of community participation in education, we are seeing as a result of the recommendations of the Karmel committee an expansion of the concept of community as well as parent participation in the school community. I hope that as this program is developed governments, both Commonwealth and
State, will look into the question of the extent to which the nation’s education and community resources are, in some areas at least, overcapitalised. What I mean by that is that in new and developing areas we build first-rate schools and provide them with excellent facilities, but then use them only over a limited period of the year and over a limited period of time in any one week.
In recent days I have been in touch with many people in the state schools throughout my electorate. I have talked with them about the involvement of parents and the involvement of the community in the activities of the school and the activities of the education centre for the district that that school should provide. Members of school committees have said to me that they are concerned that, in the event of the use of school facilities for non-school activities, the ovals and extra facilities which the hard working parent committees provide for schools will suffer from the wear and tear that naturally occurs.
– What a lot of rubbish.
– This is not rubbish. What I am expressing is the view expressed by parents involved in the schools within the area that I represent. They have expressed concern that, if the school facilities are used for other than school activities, there will be wear and tear. Honourable members opposite have their heads in the clouds if they believe that wear and tear will not occur, because in every community - be it a school community or the community at large - there are those who lack a sense of responsibility.
The point I wish to make is that it seems to me to be a very expensive solution of this problem to say that the answer is to close the schools when the school bell rings at the end of the day and not to use those facilities either for the school community or for the community at large. Where there are buildings, grounds and facilities, many of which are under-used - that is not to say that there are not some schools where the size of the community within the school is so large in itself that the physical facilities of the school are used to the optimum or in some cases are inadequate - and where the facilities are adequate and can be used for the community at large to provide library facilities, recreational facilities, school grounds and adult education facilities, I suggest that ways and means of using the community facilities in school buildings and their related grounds should be examined.
One suggestion I would like to put to the Committee is that consideration should be given to providing funds to enable the appointment of not caretakers but people with a greater sense of vocation and training - perhaps recreation officers or activity officers - with responsibility for the care and custodianship of the school facilities so that neither the school committee nor the staff will refuse to allow the use of school facilities by the parents or the school community because of the current concern that their hard won and hard worked for assets, gained for the use of the school children will run the risk of being damaged. If these recreation or activity officers were attached to schools they could serve a very useful purpose in providing maximum use of school facilities and greater opportunities for the school children in out-of-school hours still to use the excellent facilities of school libraries, school playing grounds and the other facilities that exist in the schools. I urge the Government to look into this question in order to see whether this scheme can be expanded.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– First of all, I make it very clear that I take great pride in being a supporter of a Government which, immediately upon being elected to office, commissoned the Karmel report. This decision of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is one of the most far-sighted actions ever taken in this country in the field of education. In fact, I would say that it is the most far-sighted action.
The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson said that all schools should be open - I assume that he means after school hours - to the general community. I challenge him. I agree with him. I am a strong advocate of this proposition in my area. I believe that all state schools should be available for use for after school activities.
– For the general community.
– For the general community. It is ridiculous that so much capital expenditure is unused. The facilities of the schools are used between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. I agree with the honourable member; but can he convince St Peters College in Adelaide, the
Sydney Grammar School and the Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School-
– The King’s School.
– . . . the King’s School, Geelong Grammar and a few of those others to do the same? I would welcome it. I am advocating it. Many of the headmasters in my area are behind such a scheme. I am quite satisfied that all the schools, whether they are state schools or non-state schools, in my area - it being a deprived area - would be prepared to do it; but I could not see those Greater Public Schools doing it. As I said, I am proud to be a supporter of a Government which commissioned the Karmel Committee report. It is a report which shows humanity and compassion. It is based on the needs concept - the need to help those who require assistance. The report recommends the discontinuance of what has existed in the past, where those who are in positions of power and who have plenty are the very people who have been receiving the most assistance from the previous Government.
I represent an area of very great need - the far western suburbs of Sydney. My electorate contains areas such as Blacktown, Mount Druitt and St Mary’s. These are the areas of real need, if ever there was need. Let me deal with some of the problems which exist in those areas and show how they can be assisted by the recommendations contained in the Karmel report, which recommendations in every instance with the exception of one - that recommendation related to the A class schools - have been accepted by this Government. For a start, as mentioned by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), the Budget contains an increase in the allocation for education of 92 per cent in one year. That is a most extraordinary increase. I wish to sound one warning. I am concerned whether the education departments of the State governments can fulfil completely what is required of them in the Karmel report. I know that there are some education departments - New South Wales would be the greatest example - which are extrtmely inefficient in their administration. The New South Wales Education Department, I regret to say, is acknowledged as the most inefficient Education Department administratively in the whole of the Commonwealth, even though New South Wales is the greatest and the largest State.
– In the last 8 years.
– That is right; in the last 8 years. I agree. There is bad administration. The various State goverments should ensure that they utilise that recommendation of the Karmel Committee report which provides for the employment of consultants. I think that is most important. I cannot see, for example, the New South Wales Education Department spending the money allocated to it unless it employs outside consultants. That is a recommendation of the Karmel Committee. I believe that this one recommendation that New South Wales in particular should implement.
I refer to the question of those schools which are deprived, those schools which are in need. Unfortunately they are the schools for which those members on the Opposition side who have spoken have no compassion. They are forever fighting the case of the A class school. They forget all the rest, whether they be State or non-State schools. They are not concerned with the problems of other schools. They are concerned with the problems of the wealthy schools - not the parish schools, not the small schools, not those schools which take the children, whether they be Catholic or otherwise, of people who are workers. We hear not one word from the Opposition side advocating support for the State schools and the non-State schools which represent the working class elements of this country.
I can give some examples of how deprived some schools are. In the western suburbs of Sydney the greatest needs of the non-State schools are buildings and equipment. The greatest need of the State schools is adequate teaching facilities. I will give some examples. In one high school a fifth year science teacher, who as a matter of fact was teaching my own daughter, could not be understood by the pupils she was teaching and finally had to resign because she could not cope. She could not be understood because she did not have the capacity in English. In another high school a first year English teacher could not be understood by the pupils she was teaching. In another high school a mathematics teacher tried to explain to the children present that there were 31 days in February and accordingly lost all control of the class. I am not talking nonsense. These are things which happened last year.
– Who is to blame for that
– The State Education Department of New South Wales and the
Liberal Government of New South Wales are to blame. It is a complete disgrace. They have no moral concepts. They are not concerned. The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe), who is a member of the Country Party, is not concerned about the future of those children being taught by teachers of that standard. The New South Wales Government is to blame. The Country Party is to blame because it is a coalition partner in the Government in the State of New South Wales. This is the way in which the children in some areas are deprived. This is why there is a need for a needs concept as contained in the Karmel report. It is why there is a need for special allocations under section 96 of the Constitution to provide special incentives to keep those good teachers in the west where they are. I give as an example the provision of inexpensive housing for those teachers who are there now and who are required but who unfortunately far too often leave after 2 years. These are the reasons why I support the Karmel Committee’s report. I believe it is moral. I believe it shows compassion. I believe it shows humanity. I cannot understand in any circumstances how anybody claiming to represent the mass of the people of Australia could do otherwise than support the needs concept in that report.
– The one point of agreement between honourable members from both sides of the Parliament that seems to have come out of tonight’s debate is that more funds should be found for teacher training and perhaps in-service teacher education. Member after member who has spoken, including the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), has supported just this concept. I can say - and no doubt honourable members opposite will laugh with their galahish cackles - that the former Government which comprised members from this side of the Parliament was the first government to give big funds to States for teacher training, and they were not utilised by some States within the first period of time they were allocated. It is no use holding the view that we should always judge our education record year in and year out by the effective expenditure on teacher training, the establishment of State schools, the establishment of libraries or science laboratories, when everybody knows that this Government has done more to ruin the value of the Australian dollar than has ever been done in recent history. It is no use the Government saying that it has a better record than the previous Government had. The criterion by which the nation will judge the education capacity of its children is the effective expenditure of funds.
Insofar as that is so, I would like for the first time in my life to get on the same side as the honourable member for Chifley because at least he says, although I cannot remember him doing so in debate - I can remember suggesting this from my own humble mouth 2 years ago - that schools should be open to the community to utilise the resources of those schools. I am reminded of the situation that applies in my electorate so often. Primary industry in the early 1950s was fairly affluent. Everybody was building, shall we say, a $15,000 shearing shed in case he had to shear about 60 per cent more sheep than he had ever shorn before. It was a waste of a resource. And so is the educational structure of Australia today a waste of a resource. I can name country towns in my own electorate where the taxpayer has financed magnificent libraries at schools, marvellous libraries, and some of those towns do not have a library for children to use when they leave school. What sort of stupidity is this?
This is not the first time that it has been suggested that greater use be made of school facilities. Of course it is a non-party matter. I know that I have suggested this many times before. For heavens sake, if this Federal Government wants to give leadership to the State governments, let it insist on what the honourable member for Chifley was saying and open up some of the doors and let people in to use the facilities that the taxpayer, not the Government, is providing. Of course I must talk from the point of view of my own electorate rather than from the point of view of cities that I do not know quite so well. I ask the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), who I gather unfortunately cannot be here tonight, to look at some of these suggestions when he comes to study the speeches on the estimates of the Department of Education. The debate on the Estimates in this House and the other place is meant to provide an opportunity for honourable members and Senators to look at the expenditure of departments and to criticise it constructively if possible and to whether better effective expenditure can be made for the sake of the people and the children of this nation.
The honourable member for Chifley had the unmitigated gall to suggest that private schools should be the first to open their doors. Why should they? Apparently the honourable member regards this as his sole constructive suggestion for the sake of education. I remind him that the taxpayers finance the state schools, so if the Government wants to exercise leadership let it do so by opening the doors of state schools. A fact of life which Government supporters fail to recognise is that, as a result of the making of comparisons and through competition, eventually all schools may open their doors. But the ball is in the court of the honourable member for Chifley and his ilk. He is no longer in Opposition although sometimes he forgets it. Why should people who, by donation and fee, have helped establish and support private schools, and who also, by virtue of their taxation, have provided for the establishment of state schools, give leadership by opening the doors of private schools? In actual fact some private schools have already done so, although the honourable member for Chifley might not realise it. I know of two such instances where this has been done voluntarily by private schools to the great benefit of people outside the structure of those schools, which are located in country areas. Frankly there is not even a second prize for the honourable member’s rather stupid and outmoded suggestion.
I was interested also in the remarks of my colleague, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) who, I point out, won his seat from the Australian Labor Party despite the general swing against the then Government at the last election. I might add that I have some respect for the man he defeated. That person was in Parliament today. I note the fact that he will not be coming again. He has learned his lesson and realises that when one is up against a man of some competence one wants a safer situation than he had. I believe that the defeated member has nominated for the South Australian Upper House. It should be a remarkable situation if it ever comes to pass that he wins a seat in that chamber. However I will leave discussion of that possibility for another day. The point made so well by the honourable member for Sturt this evening was that if a party wants to remain in government it should not discriminate against schools in country areas or private schools in urban areas. If members opposite want to discriminate I suggest that they do the Politics I course again - that is, if they have even done it - because they will learn that if people have wealth the democratic way of coping with that situation is to tax them on that wealth. The Government should patch up its taxation system, because from taxation it can get funds to treat those people who are not so well off in an unequal manner so that their children may have some equality in life when their turn comes. But in all equity, if freedom is to remain in Australia, you should not tax people virtually 3 times. The Government should do what it aims to do - and Lord save us I do not agree with it - through the taxation structure. Having done that and got the funds it should let people choose where to send their children to school. There is no earthly need to hit them twice.
I would proffer another piece of free advice to members of the Government back benches. We all know it is a matter of grave doubt as to who leads what around which corner at present. If Government supporters see any merit in the situation where Caucus can reverse the policy of Cabinet or reverse the policy that its leaders put forward at election time, I suggest that next time they do not put those leaders in a position where a Minister looks a bloody liar. If he goes to the people and says that no circumstances will be changed-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! The expression that the honourable member for Angas used was unparliamentary and I request its withdrawal.
– If that is so, Dr Jenkins, I certainly withdraw it. The only point I seek to make is that if the Labor Party goes to the people and its policy speech is delivered by its leaders, members of that Party have a nerve if, after being elected, they do not allow the promises contained therein to be implemented. No matter what term is applied to this circumstance, that is what has happened and that is why people - many of them quite poor, to quote the honourable member for Sturt again - who have worked their hands to the bone to make sure their kids take advantage of a free education system and can go to whatever school they choose, find themselves facing hardship. I say again to the Government: Make the taxation levels different if you must, but let the people of this nation choose what they want to do and use their parental responsibility in bringing up their children in the fashion they consider right and proper.
– I have listened with great interest to this debate. The first speaker in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Education accused the Government of being barbarians destroying excellence in schools. We have heard of category A schools and how the Government is cutting them down because it is not giving aid to them. We have heard also a vehement attack on teachers. Let us get some perspective in respect of what has been done and is aimed to be done in the field of education through this Budget. I think it would be agreed that from the point of view of the Government the starting point - this strangely has been missing in the debate so far - is children and the opportunities open to them. As a Government we have been concerned at what the previous Government failed to do in this area. We believe that all children, from pre-school age through to university, should have every opportunity to equality in education. We believe in excellence through equality of opportunity, not excellence through privilege, which seems to be the view of members opposite.
To get some sort of balance I believe one must look at what is aimed at in the field of education this year. In 1973-74 it is proposed to increase the allocation to universities by $123m; to colleges of advanced education and teachers colleges by $1 11.5m; to technical education by $26. 8m; to schools and preschools by $121. 3m; and to special groups - Aboriginals, migrant children, isolated children and the like - by $19.5m. Whereas the previous Government, for all its talk, was prepared to put up in cash in its last Budget $439m for education, this Government is proposing an expenditure of $843m, which is a 90 per cent increase.
Let us consider for a moment some of the criticisms that have been thrown at the Government. There has been preoccupation with the situation of category A schools - a preoccupation with the 2 per cent of children who attend those schools and almost a refusal by members opposite to talk about the other 98 per cent of children in other schools, whether they be independent schools or government schools. The Government has been accused of cutting off assistance to independent schools, but let us examine the facts. It is a strange way to cut off assistance when the Government increases threefold the amount of money to be given to independent schools. The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) spoke of the Government’s hidden plan, the one it has not yet revealed. It is interesting that no Government supporters know anything about it. Apparently the deep down plan is eventually to eliminate aid in progressive steps. We have knocked off the top group and apparently we are going to knock off the rest. What utter rubbish that is. An interesting point is that I was just glancing at a newspaper and 1 noticed that a certain bishop of the Catholic Church has made a similar statement. The honourable member for Bendigo in his speech expressed concern about category A schools, but on a quick check of the list I find that he does not have a category A school in his electorate. Therefore, apparently he is not interested in representing his own electorate. What he is interested in doing is trying to score a few hollow political points. Believe me when I say that they are pretty hollow because his facts were not even right.
In the field of government schools, we note that in the next 2 years there is to be a twelvefold increase in expenditure. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) explained this business of resources and told us how there is a spread from something like 40 to 260. He said that the aim is to lift the resources of government schools. It was found, of course, that the Catholic schools were in the greatest need. We believe that we do not have to get down on our knees and plead to the people of Australia. We want to help the people who are in greatest need. We believe that this is what is right, and we stand by it. We are not ashamed of the fact that we believe that money should go first to where there is need. That is the way in which we have arranged our expenditure in this Budget.
Tonight we had the astounding situation of 2 members of the Opposition making a vehement attack on teachers. They were the honourable member for Bendigo and the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke). They have even continued their attack since then by way of interjection.
– The 32-hour week.
– Yes, the 32-hour week. It was said that teachers lack dedication and that they are the first out of the door, beating the pupils. I nearly said we instead of ‘they9 because, after all, I was a teacher for 25 years. I happen to know what happens in schools. The honourable member for Petrie is in the chamber, but the honourable member for Bendigo is not. I can only say to the honourable member for Petrie that he was talking arrant nonsense when he attacked teachers in such a manner. My experience as a teacher and my experience over the last 9 years in the training of teachers is that they are as dedicated a group as there is in die communitity. I would defend teachers in any place. I find it difficult to understand why there was such an attack tonight. I can only put it down to complete ignorance because those who made it have not been in government schools. Maybe they have been in category A schools. I do not know what happens in those schools, but I do know that that does not happen in government schools - at least in my own State.
Who is to blame for the fact that the morale of teachers has broken down considerably in recent years? Why has it happened? It has happened because a succession of LiberalCountry Party governments have simply failed to give teachers adequate training. I support the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) in stressing the importance of teacher education. We as a government agree with it. It is for that reason that we have increased greatly the expenditure recommended by the Special Committee on Teacher Education - the Cohen Committee - in its report. In fact, we have increased it to in the vicinity of $188m. I believe that the Government has everything to be proud of in what it is doing in the field of education. In every way it has set a target that is a worthy one and one which in the field of education as distinct from the Opposition benches - among teachers and members of university staffs - I know, has given new heart to people who were dispirited. For the first time education has been given the priority it deserves.
– I spoke earlier in this debate, but I want to use the opportunity to speak a second time on the estimates for the Department of Education to direct the Committee’s attention to the Government’s slowness in announcing its policy concerning the development of pre-school education. I am aware that a committee is studying this matter at the present time, but in many communities large numbers of parents are working very hard to form and establish kindergartens. At the present time they have no indication as to the manner in which pre-school education is to be provided. The kindergartens have been an excellent illustration of community involvement in education.
– Teachers are being taught. We need the teachers first.
– And we will need the kindergartens in which the teachers will be able to teach. In an electorate such as mine, where there is a large number of young families, there are many kindergarten committees. There are more committees without kindergartens than there are kindergartens with committees. Those committees are working hard, raising funds in order that they can establish kindergartens for the communities in which they live. Although all parties have expressed the desire to see pre-school education made available for every child, the manner in which that pre-school education will be provided is giving many people a great deal of concern. Will it be possible for small community groups to establish kindergardens with Government aid and Government support, or is it the intention of the Government to establish a monopolistic system in the provision of State pre-school education?
– You do not know which way you want it, do you?
– I am asking the. question. What will the Government provide? The problem for the community is that there are many people who would use their initiative, through self-help, hard work and sacrifice, to provide some of the funds which would enable preschool education centres to be established, but because of the uncertainty that is being created by the lack of a pronouncement as to the way in which pre-school education is to be provided there is a great deal of hesitation. The program of expansion by the community, through self-help, of pre-school education facilities is being retarded by the uncertain atmosphere which has been created through the lack of announcements as to the manner in which pre-school education is to be provided in the future.
– Can you not wait for the report of the experts? That is what we are doing.
– I think that is important. All I am saying is that I hope that the report will be presented soon. I go on to say that I hope that the report will recognise the contribution that parents and communities can make. Undoubtedly, when we are aiming to provide preschool education facilities for the community as a whole, it will not be possible to do everything at once. But I do hope that there will be an involvement of the community and an opportunity for the community committee to be established and to raise funds to establish its kindergarten with Government support and that the Government will not adopt the philosophy that the only system of pre-school education that can and should be provided is that which is totally provided by the Government. If that approach is adopted there will be, firstly, a reduction in community involvement in education and, secondly, a very much slower development of the program of pre-school education for every child.
Whilst I recognise that in the pre-school sphere undoubtedly it will be necessary for governments to concentrate more effort in some areas than in others, I do urge upon the Government and upon the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), whom I am pleased to see in the chamber at this stage, that due recognition be given to community initiative. If members of communities are prepared to go out and, by their own efforts, raise funds and organise the building of kindergartens, I hope that they will be encouraged to do so by Government support on a positive incentive basis.
– May I interrupt the honourable gentleman? You realise that that is done with private heads?
– The kindergarten moneys are grants to the States, not necessarily for the States to be managing their own kindergartens. The States have various systems whereby they are making grants to private organisations. We are not going to straight-jacket them.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! I ask the Minister to keep his remarks brief.
– I am very glad to have the assurance of the Minister that the States will not be placed in a straitjacket as to the manner in which they will use funds for the development of pre-school centres. I would therefore take that as an assurance that in the case of South Australia there will be no strings attached to Australian Government money made available to the South Australian Government that would prevent the support now being given to the establishment by communities of kindergartens where they, of their own initiative, introduce an element of selfhelp.
– The only string is that some is for capital and some is for recurring expenditure.
– I accept the fact that there has to be a recognition that there is a need for support in the capital area as in the recurrent expenditure area. If this money is made available to the States in the way in which the Minister has indicated, without strings attached, the States will be able to assess for themselves the needs of their own communities.
In the developing suburbs in my own electorate are a large number of young families coming from all walks of life. They are prepared to provide an element of selfhelp and they would be greatly encouraged if further funds were made available to South Australia and the South Australian Government were then enabled to help subsidise those committees in the purchase of land. If many of the committees that are now currently operating and raising funds to buy the land on which the kindergarten would be built, had available to them the facilities of lending institutions, those committees would be able to provide kindergartens for children who are now without them. Instead of there being a situation where there are more committees without kindergartens than there are kindergartens with committees, the situation would be reversed and we would be getting closer to the target of providing pre-school facilities for every child.
– Now that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is with us I take the opportunity of raising the question of the Government’s policy with regard to universities. The Government proposes to make university education free. I imagine that the rationale behind this is to encourage a higher proportion of students from working class backgrounds to go through to university education. As the Minister well knows, the University of Western Australia has been a free university since its inception. Can the Minister provide any figures for the Committee to show the proportion of working class studends who currently are attending at the University of Western Australia, and whether that proportion varies from the proportion in other universities of Australia that are not free?
Is it not a fact that in Western Australia fees have been charged which are equivalent roughly to fees which are charged by other universities, although the fiction has been maintained that the University of Western Australia is still free? Does he see that the same processes which have overtaken the University of Western Australia will eventually overtake all universities in Australia notwithstanding his
Government’s proposal to make university education free? The last point I should like to raise for the Minister’s consideration is this: What will happen in faculties where quotas are applied? Will places be given to students on the basis of merit at examinations, by some other system, on a ballot system or on some basis of need? If one makes university education free, one necessarily assumes that universities will be open to any student who has a basic educational qualification. This of course will be nugatory if quotas are imposed. Perhaps the Minister might like to comment on those points in regard to university education when he speaks in this debate.
– I wish briefly to answer the questions of the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke). The honourable gentleman’s history of the University of Western Australia is not correct. The University of Western Australia was deliberately made unfree in 1958 or 1959. That was achieved by a system whereby the amount of money that the University raised itself attracted Commonwealth and State grants. In the period when the University of Western Australia was free a good many people were admitted to the university who were not able to gain admittance at universities in the eastern States. That immediately had the effect, for instance, of getting a higher proportion of teacher graduates among them science graduates and so on, in the Western Australian Department of Education.
I do not have any analysis of the proportion of students from poorer families. I myself would have been an instance of that because my father was part-time unemployed when I was at the University of Western Australia. But the free system undoubtedly allowed many to be admitted to the university who could not gain admittance to universities in the eastern States. There was a different social climate for a large part of that period. The honourable gentleman will recall that before the war only 7 per cent of pupils completed secondary education. As far as I can remember, that was not tremendously affected in Western Australia. The other question that the honourable gentleman asked was about the method of gaining admitance. Universities are autonomous. Some of the faculties have quotas. Before long I hope to produce the Government’s reaction to another Karmel report, the Karmel Report on Medical Education. We shall be trying to make more places available for medical education, but that is yet to come.
The universities themselves will have to react to the situation. I do not know whether the fact that university education will be free will lead to a great wave of additional students being admitted. Many faculties could absorb these. Otherwise, I suppose each university will make its own adjustment. It might raise its standards for all I know. I should think that the tendency will be for a shifting round of students. If a student cannot get into the University of Sydney he may go to Armidale. I believe that this sort of thing will take place. But we will not be making those decisions. Universities, colleges of advanced education and teachers colleges are autonomous institutions. They will be confronted with a situation. I do not imagine that there will be a great additional wave of students immediately. The institutions will be confronted with a situation. We hope to speed the construction of tertiary institutions.
As the honourable gentleman knows, Griffith and Murdoch Universities are now in the proces of construction. I hope that will be speeded up. Other universities and colleges of advanced education may have to be provided. Those institutions will make the adjustments that are necessary. We will not dictate policy to them. Constitutionally we cannot. I suppose that we could to the Australian National University, but we do not. We constitutionally cannot do it in the States. Again, the money that goes to universities will be States grants earmarked to be passed on to universities. The legislative authority over universities will still be State authority. As far as we are concerned, the universities will be autonomous and will make their own decision.
Proposed expenditure agreed to. Progress reported.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, I know that members will join with me in expressing our heartfelt relief to know that 7 of the 10 crewmen of the freighter ‘Blythe Star’ which has been missing since she left Hobart on 12 October bound for King Island, have been found safe. They were found late this afternoon on the eastern side of Tasman Peninsular after they had drifted ashore in a life raft and three of them made their way to the township of Dunalley and gave the alarm. A helicopter on charter to my department, which has been continuing the search, has collected the 4 men who were left on the beach and they are now receiving medical attention in Royal Hobart Hospital. I also must advise the House that 3 of the crew did not survive. I know the House joins me in expressing the sympathy of the Australian Government to the relatives and friends of these men. The survivors are: The Master, Captain Cruikshank; the cook, Alfred Simpson; the bosun, S. Leary; and seamen Cliff Langford, Malcolm McCarroll, M. T. Doleman. and Lenton Power. I understand the survivors have told officials that their ship sank off South-west Cape on Saturday morning, the 13 October, in relatively calm seas.
I am sending a senior officer of the search and rescue section of my department to Hobart to co-ordinate inquiries into that aspect so that I may be fully informed. As I announced on Sunday, I shall be seeking a full and far-ranging inquiry into the sinking of the Blythe Star’ and I shall be reporting to the House further on this matter later. A preliminary investigation will start as soon as possible.
– by leaveOn behalf of the Opposition parties I express deep sympathy to the family and friends of the members of the crew of the vessel ‘Blythe Star’ who did not survive this disaster. We on this side of the House also share the relief of those families whose loved ones have been saved. Obviously there have been most unusual circumstances surrounding the loss of the Blythe Star’ under conditions which the Minister has described as ‘relatively calm seas’. We on this side of the House support the Minister in seeking a full inquiry into this sinking. We trust that there will be an absolute minimum of delay before the appropriate people are appointed to undertake this inquiry and start their investigations.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Commonwealth Banks Bill (No. 2) 1973. Reserve Bank Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea (Transfer of Banking Business) Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea (Application of Laws) Bill 1973.
Wireless Telegraphy Bill 1973. Meteorology Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea Loans Guarantee Bill 1973.
Consideration resumed. Second Schedule.
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed expenditure, $43,128,000.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $50,391,000.
Department of Overseas Trade
Proposed expenditure, $27,411,000.
Department of Secondary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $19,293,000.
– It is obviously impossible in the short time available fully to cover all the departments in this section of the Estimates. Therefore I. shall confine my remarks to those concerning primary industry. The first point I should like to make concerns the alleged increase of assistance to primary industry from $239m to $295m. That is an alleged increase of $56m. It must be made absolutely clear that the taxpayer will not be subsidising primary industry to the extent of $295m. But it is not surprising, considering the confusion over this question because of the accounting procedures adopted in the Budget, that people assume that the amount shown in the Budget papers as assistance to primary industry is provided entirely at the taxpayers expense. It will be my object to point out that this is an entirely wrong assumption. I shall refer to that matter in detail in a minute or two.
I now wish to put forward a constructive suggestion to enable all those interested in this question - members of Parliament, primary industry organisations, the financial, industry and technical press and the public generally - to be able to assess more readily what assistance is provided to industry and to eliminate the misrepresentations which seem to be made in any discussions on assistance to primary industry. My suggestion is this: That the Government ask the proposed Industries Assistance Commission to publish a detailed annual report comparing and contrasting all forms of assistance to industry. Any such publication should clearly differentiate between industry and the Government contributions at both Commonwealth and State levels. This is one of the objections which I have to the present method of the presentation of figures in the Budget. Unless one is fully aware of the situation it is difficult to differentiate between what is a Government contribution and what is an industry contribution. I believe that such a report would do much to correct the widely held misconceptions of the relative level of assistance given to all industry especially that which is given by way of direct subsidy to primary industry in comparison with that provided by way of tariff protection to secondary industry.
In the absence of such precise information let us examine the estimates of expenditure before us. Many items show increased expenditure especially in the field of salary and wages which, of course, is a reflection of the dangerously high rate of inflation in Australia which this Government has exacerbated by its policy decisions. But some items show a reduction in expenditure and some are eliminated altogether. As to the first category, I should like to comment particularly on the appropriation for softwoods development. The proposed expenditure for this year is down from $9.5m to $5.5m. Softwoods are now the largest single item in our import expenditure. It seems strange that such a substantial reduction should be made. I would be interested to hear an explanation of this in due course from the Minister.
Another item expenditure on which has been reduced is beef cattle roads. That expenditure has been reduced from $7.7m to $5.4m. Again, this seems inconsistent with the Government’s attitude towards meat prices. Everyone, even the Government, recognises that the answer to excessively high meat prices is to produce more meat. Beef roads have made a great contribution in recent years to this objective. Probably it has been one of the most significant factors in increased beef production. It is of no use for the Government to make pious statements urging increased production and then to abolish or to reduce nearly every measure designed to achieve this end. I am referring now particularly to the abolition of the investment allowance and the drastic reduction in the depreciation allowances for water conservation, fodder storage, subdivisional fencing and so on. And now, of course, we have this reduction in finance for beef roads. If investment falls off and projections of increased meat production fall short of reality, the Government has only itself to blame.
One item which this year will receive no assistance is that devoted to the objective measurement of wool. I have lost count of how many times I have spoken on this subject over the last 7 years. As far as I know, I was the first member in this House to advocate this method of assessing wool. I was not of course the first to recognise its .vital importance. On previous occasions I have paid tribute to the work done in this field by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) and I do so again tonight. But how disappointed the honourable member must be to see a government of his own Party wipe out all assistance to research and implementation of the objective measurement of wool. While this technique has been proved beyond doubt a great deal of work still needs to be done before objective measurement becomes universally adopted. In the interests of wool growers and the industry as a whole, objective measurement needs to be introduced as soon as possible. It is tragic that support has been withdrawn just as this concept is gaining wide acceptance.
I should like to comment briefly on 2 items which have received increased allocations in this Budget. An amount of $168,000 has been allocated for alternative fishery development. I welcome this assistance to one of Australia’s fastest growing primary industries. It is very moderate assistance considering the major contribution to export earnings being made by this industry and its exciting future prospects. Some years ago, I drew attention to the need for Australia to play a much greater role in the development of our fisheries. It is extraordinary and regrettable that foreign vessels find it profitable to come thousands of miles to exploit off-shore Australian fisheries which we have neglected. Fortunately, there is now much greater interest being shown by our own fishermen in exploiting these rich resources but their operations have been severely restricted by the lack of finance to enable them to purchase equipment suitable for large scale deep sea fishing.
I welcome also the increase from $6.3m to $6.9. of grants for agricultural extension services. Australian farmers have to increase their efficiency and productivity if they are to keep pace with inflation and rising costs and the adoption of new and improved management practices is one of the best ways of achieving these things for the benefit of farmers themselves and the national economy. The previous Government introduced the Commonwealth Extension Services Grants scheme and I am pleased that this Government has recognised its merit and continued the scheme.
I now come back to the figure in the Budget of $295m to assist primary industry. This includes such items as reconstruction finance, which is mainly loans, loans towards repayment from the Australian Wheat Board and levies paid by farmers for research and promotion. For example, the dried vine fruits and poultry industries schemes will be completely self-financed in 1973-74. Other schemes are also wholly or partly financed from export levies. The taxpayers’ contribution is almost entirely confined to the wheat stabilisation scheme which, incidentally, next year is almost certain not to make any call on the taxpayer, the milk products bounty, fertiliser subsidies and $1 for Si government contributions for industry research and promotion.
As was made clear during the debate on the Industries Assistance Commission, one of the reasons why the Liberal Party supports the legislation is that it will provide a forum in which amongst other benefits, assistance to primary industry can be discussed openly and objectively. This should result in a much wider appreciation of just how modest is the actual level of assistance to primary industry. I come back to the suggestion I made earlier in my speech that an annual list should be published by the Industries Assistance Commission setting out and contrasting the various levels and forms of assistance to all industry in Australia.
– I thank the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) for his compliment in regard to my work in the field of the objective measurement of wool. I should also like to return the compliment and acknowledge the fact that he indeed has made a major contribution to the acceptance of this development and in this we have a common cause. The money allocated over the last 2 years for objective measurement was for the specific purpose of developing the techniques and refining them and bringing them to the point where they could be applied in the commercial stream. In fact, in the main, that has been done and the work that must be done now is for the industry to accept these developments and the machinery that has been evolved. I believe that process is going on now. I feel quite strongly that if money were needed to continue this development, it would be forthcoming from this Government.
The Department of Primary Industry whose estimates we are now considering administers 88 Acts of direct concern to primary industry and is involved in a further 30 Acts of indirect concern to the industry and which are administered by other departments. The scope of these Acts is vast. It covers a large range of industries and different functions. Currently, the present Government has under review a number of policy areas in relation to primary industry. We are concerned about the basis of rural credit. We believe that the credit facilities for the agricultural sector should be uniquely geared to the problems of that sector. We believe that there should be a long term facility available to the farmer and that the repayment of these loans should be specially dovetailed into his particular productive process If one wanted to select one or two areas for comment, this is especially true for the fishing industry where the fishermen have been denied not only the opportunity for credit which is geared to their unique problem but also a unique form of insurance for their boats. Once again, I should like to support the comments of the honourable member for Corangamite in regard to the increased payment to the States for fisheries services. Much more should be done for this industry.
Another area which is under review by the present Government is that of the financing of research funds. We have seen in the past an instability introduced into an area where stability is required if we are to achieve the maximum in terms of the application of our research worker. It is not satisfactory to have research geared to the fluctuations of industry income and this Government currently is involved in looking very closely at ways and means of financing research from a much more stable basis. We also have under review the wheat industry stabilisation scheme, wool marketing and indeed all forms of marketing. A new marketing section has been proposed for the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Having worked for the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, I should like to dwell for a moment on this section which under the estimates is to collect $2.9m. The BAE has been an extremely successful advisory group for government and its success rests on the fact that it is an objective fact finding organisation. The quality of its work depends upon the independence which has been given to the workers within the BAE. Because those workers do have an independence in their areas of operation and are able to publish their reports freely, the BAE has been able to attract a high quality of research worker - people who find great satisfaction from their work in this organisation. I should like to contrast the basis of the success of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics with the philosophy expounded for the Industries Assistance Commission. In fact, the philosophy is the same. It is ironic that members of the Australian Country Party should attack the Industries Assistance Commission when they already have before them the success record of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. It is no coincidence that Sir John Crawford played a significant role in the formation of both organisations. The only area in which the BAE has had any restraint placed on its opportunity to publish has been in regard to land use reports and particularly those which relate to irrigation projects. I am sure that we would have had a much saner balance of investment in irrigation if those reports had also been given the freedom of publication that most other reports produced by the BAE received.
The approach of the Australian Country Party to the Industries Assistance Commission opens up the question of whether the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, if we continue this analysis, should be placed under restriction. This is one area which has received a great deal of thought and consideration by various Ministers over the years. Invariably the answer that has been produced is that rather than restrict the operations of this group it should be opened up even further. I am pleased to say that that conclusion has generally been supported by most of the Ministers involved. Therefore one experiences some surprise from the fact that the Country Party has adopted this approach to the Industries Assistance Commission. In other words, investigation so far as assistance is concerned should be concealed and industries should be denied the opportunity of putting their point of view.
One manifestation of this approach already has been displayed by the Country Party in its objection to the 0.6c export tax placed on export meat in order to conduct a campaign to eradicate tuberculosis and brucellosis. The opposition to this tax was based on a mistake made in the office of the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). We have the ludicrous situation now of such a superficial approach and such a casual mistake throwing into question the whole tuberculosis and brucellosis campaign. The mistake which came from the office of the honourable member for New England arose from the fact that there had been confusion between carcass weight and export weight. The Country Party members, the doyens of the country, these men of the land, who believe they know every subtlety in regard to the country have mistaken carcass weight, which is the weight of the beast slaughtered with the bones, with the export weight which, in the main, is the beast minus the bones. Because of this mistake and the inability to understand an elementary fact of agriculture, the tuberculosis and brucellosis campaign in this country is being thrown into great question and is causing great concern to our overseas buyers.
– Make a point we can understand.
– I am making a point for the benefit of those people in the country who are so critical of the academics. Any one of a Country Party member’s constituents who wishes to have his children educated will get roughly a lead from this. The point I am making is that the Country Party could not carry out the simplest piece of arithmetic. It has mixed carcass weight with export weight and then accused the Government of attempting to extract from the meat industry more money than was necessary to carry out the tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication campaign. But the Country Party mistake has led to a situation where there is less money than necessary to carry out this campaign.
– You have been very-
– I am glad-
– You are not convincing anyone.
– I am glad to have the opportunity
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member for
Cowper that he remain silent and allow one person to speak in the House at a time.
– Mr Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to labour the point and to make sure that the country people understand how the Country Party has let them down yet again. I appreciate the opportunity to force home the point that the Country Party has denied first of all the opportunity for industry to have a reasonable hearing on the question of high meat prices. The Country Party abused the open form of inquiry which was provided by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices. It abused this privilege and now, by making this futile mistake in regard to carcass weight and export weight, has thrown into jeopardy this very crucial campaign to eliminate tuberculosis and brucellosis. It is a pleasure indeed to hear these interjections from the Country Party and to ram home once again this illustration of its complete incompetency in representing the people it believes it stands for in this Parliament.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) who for so long and so strongly has advocated an export tax on meat is one of those who fails to recognise the role of this Parliament. The only reason that we objected to 0.6c being added to the meat tax for the purposes of a meat inspection service was that this Parliament was not even given the courtesy, in the second reading speech presented to it, of an explanation that the meat tax was for the purpose of tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication. There was no reference to it in the Minister’s second reading speech. If the honourable member for Eden-Monaro cares to canvass that debate he will find that it was that fact rather than any statistics which were used that was the basis of opposition to the measure. In addition there were some doubts cast on the figures. If the honourable member for Eden-Monaro was quite content that no excess money would be raised for this purpose he should have been only too prepared to accept the general nature of the other amendment which we moved to ensure that any surplus funds would be used for the purposes that the Government intended, namely, the purpose referred to in the second reading speech which was for a meat inspection service.
If the Government feels that adequate money can be raised by the 0.6c export tax it should be prepared to come before the Parliament and tell it what it will do with the money. It should be prepared to say that the money will be used for tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication. Let me emphasise that no courtesy was paid to this Parliament. We were not told for what purpose the money was to be spent. If we are now told that that is the reason then no doubt the honourable member for Eden-Monaro will be quite prepared to support the same sort of restraints on expenditure for that purpose, and that is the establishment of a trust fund to ensure that all the money that is surplus is reemployed for the same purpose. It might be interesting to refer the honourable member to division 918 of the appropriations for the Department of Primary Industry which concerns payments to or for the States. Item 03 deals with the eradication of bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. The appropriation this year for that item is fortunately, as I read the figures, approximately $4.9m for 1973-74. The expenditure last year was just short of $4m, a figure which we commend and believe is necessary, and which we believe is the minimum amount needed to meet the requirements of the campaign for the eradication of one of the principal beef diseases affecting the future of our beef industry.
There is a lot I could say about the speech of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. I see no parallel between the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Commission that was constituted the other day, the industries non-assistance commission. I see the industries non-assistance commission as a device to avoid the responsibilltie of Government but I do not intend to canvass it again tonight. However, I wish to refer to several items in the appropriations for the Department of Primary Industry in the brief time that is allowed to me. I am glad to see that there is still provided within the estimates a reasonable amount for agricultural extension. I think this is an area which might well have been augmented. I believe tremendous problems will be facing the agricultural field in the future. The deplorable elimination of concessions available to the rural community, the antirural loading of this Government, the failure of men like the honourable member for Eden-Monaro to recognise the swings of price and swings of seasons and the recommendation of an export tax are all part of the
Government’s condemnation of the prospects of the future. The only way in which farmers and people involved in the agricultural sector will be able to overcome this is by ensuring that agricultural extension is available to the maximum degree. This is an area of tremendous necessity.
Alternate land use is one field on which I would like to see more money spent. I know that within the specific commodity research allocations that are available there is difficulty in ensuring that money is available for other forms of utilising our land resources. Unless we can do this, I do not see how in the future we are going to be able to provide for the real exigencies which the Labor Government is thrusting on the rural community. No doubt there is a necessity for us to reassess constantly the forms of assistance to the rural sector. Indeed it was this Opposition when in Government which initiated that review. But instead of proceeding on the basis of reasonable concern for the future of agriculture, this Government has been prepared to deny all rational forms of assistance, and by pulling the skids out from under agriculture it has been prepared to thrust all those who are involved in the rural sector into a position of considerable risk for the future. The Government’s lack of concern is really matched only by the measure of its verbosity in suggesting that there is no such lack of concern.
It is necessary also that we look at the war service land settlement scheme. I, during my term as Minister for Primary Industry, was endeavouring to undertake a major reassessment of all war service land settlement schemes in Australia. I regard one of the tragedies of agriculture in post-war Australia as the change in basic minimum living area. There are many fellows who have been settled, with the best of motivations, on blocks which are too small and with an inadequate capacity to produce sufficient to enable the settlers to raise their families and to live at a normal level of sustenance.
The amount of money allocated in these estimates, which is somewhat less than it was last year, does not really enable a reassessment of the whole war service land settlement scheme in the way that is necessary. I do suggest that in this area the Government needs to take a very close look at the whole of past practices and procedures. There is a real difficulty because of the difference between principal States and mendicant States and there is a difficulty because of the nature of some of the war service land settlement schemes themselves. But if this country is to be able to overcome these problems, it is necessary not that we reduce the amount of money available but that we closely reassess the degree to which those who are war service land settlers are able to sustain themselves in the future, given the vagaries of agriculture.
One other field I should mention is wool marketing assistance. There is a most significant- reduction in the amount of money made available, a reflection in part of the increased levy on wool growers and also the curtailment, I believe, of the forward program that the previous Government introduced for the International Wool Secretariat. I see it as most necessary that we do not have a one-year extension of wool marketing and wool promotion but that it be on a continuing basis. Wool marketing and wool promotion are more vital today than they have ever been. Anyone who looks at the wool industry and believes that there is a certain future needs to know a little bit more about the industry. One can be confident that the quality of fibre is as high today as it has ever been. But one cannot be confident, with the escalation of costs, that those involved in the industry will be able to continue to market their product competitively against synthetic fibres and other alternative means of producing textiles.
In terms of the apple and pear and canning fruit industries, again a measure of funds is provided to try to assist these sorely affected industries. It is difficult to know the best way in which one can face the future in these industries. I understand that this year floods in the Goulburn Valley have meant a significant reduction in the peach acreage. A good many trees have been destroyed as a result of water inundation. Nonetheless, last year we introduced a scheme of tree pull. This, I think, was only a first step. This industry needs a great deal in order to overcome the problems that face it in the future. I would see that the Government’s involvement, in particular in the canned fruit industry, must become necessarily greater if we are to overcome the marketing complexities that face the industry. I am disappointed that, in the estimates, no greater sum is made available in order to overcome he problems of the fruit industry.
Particularly in Tasmania, the home State of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator
Wriedt), the future for the apple industry must be clouded in doubt. If there is to be any solution to these problems, it is necessary that money be provided in order to enable Tasmanian growers to overcome their marketing problems, something of their variety problems and to ensure that the people who are producers living at little more than the minimal level are given a future, a promise that is not there under the present Government. Indeed, my criticism of these appropriations lies principally in the lack of concern that the Australian Labor Party has demonstrated for the very real needs of those throughout the whole of the rural community.
– Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired. It being 15 minutes past 1 O’clock and in accordance with the order of the House of 1 March, I shall report progress.
Hansard Report - United Nations - Committee of 24 - Political Parties - Education - Opening of Sydney Opera House - International Affairs Mr SPEAKER-Order! I call first the honourable member for Phillip who wishes to make a personal explanation.
– Mr Speaker, yesterday when addressing this House I made a statement which is in error. I referred to the fact that in June 1972 there were 105,000 Australians out of work, unemployed. I referred to that resulting in 4.25 million working days being lost each week. I made that reference twice. The figure should have been 4.25 million working hours lost, not days lost. The consequential correction of what I said is that approximately as many working days were lost every week as a result of unemployment as were lost through industrial disputes. I regret having misled the House. It was an error made by me in the course of my speech on the want of confidence motion, as reported at page 2505 of Hansard of yesterday’s date. I would appreciate it if the correction were made.
– In the course of the debate on the estimates of the Department of Foreign Affairs today, in summing up, the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison)-
-Order! In speaking to the adjournment motion, the honourable member will be completely out of order in referring to a debate which has taken place during the session.
– Well, I will not refer to that debate. There is another matter which I wish to mention. I remind you, Mr Speaker, and the House that today is United Nations Day. I make the point that certainly in my view, and I think in the view of many people in this community, the United Nations is failing miserably in its job of maintaining world peace. Without seeking to kick any can, as no doubt we will be accused of doing, I make the point that the United Nations General Assembly at any rate appears to be promoting international communism in most of its debates and certainly in the debates on the specific committee about which I wish to talk tonight, which is known as the Committee of Twenty-Four. A great many members will agree that the United Nations General Assembly is currently used to disseminate propaganda that supports the communist ideology. We find nations with a communist totalitarian form of government ganging up on other nations which do not have communist forms of government. It is in this context that I wish to bring to your notice, Mr Speaker, to the notice of this House and to the notice of the people of Australia, the way in which I think the General Assembly is being used to the detriment of Australia. In this context, I refer to the Committee of Twenty-Four.
Let me explain what that means. The Committee of Twenty-Four is the short title for a committee of the United Nations - I again ask honourable members to bear in mind that today is United Nations day - which is the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of a Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. That is the long title of this Committee, commonly known as the Committee of Twenty-Four. In 1960 this Committee was sponsored in the United Nations General Assembly by Soviet Russia. The Australian Government joined this Committee, no doubt, because it felt at the time that the Committee would perform some useful work. During the time of the former Liberal-Country Party Government - I think it was in 1963 - Australia withdrew from the Committee because the Committee used the United Nations to attack Australia.
It accused us of racial prejudice in respect of Papua New Guinea. At the same time Britain and the United States of America withdrew from the Committee. I think it is fair to say that most democratic countries withdrew.
My purpose in drawing this matter to the attention of the House tonight is to deplore the decision of the Whitlam Labor Government for Australia to rejoin this Committee of Twenty-four, simply because the Committee of Twenty-four includes representatives of 17 totalitarian governments. That is being generous. Of the 24 members, 17 have strictly totalitarian and largely communist governments. Australia is now the twenty-fourth member. Until a couple of months ago there were 23 members. I would like to give some examples of the ineffectiveness of this Committee, which was set up to deal with the new independence of former colonial countries and which is supposed to deplore any form of discrimination. Without spending too much time on the ineffectual futility of this Committee, let me mention quickly a couple of examples of selective sanctions and resolutions prepared by it. You will remember, Mr Speaker, that 3 or 4 years ago there was the trouble in Nigeria. I think that somewhere between 1,000,000 and 1,500,00 Ibo people were murdered by Nigerian troops. There was not a word from the Committee of TwentyFour which is supposed to be dealing with colonial matters and the independence of newly emerging nations. I guess that was because it was a case of black people against black people.
In Burundi at the moment a civil war is taking place in which there have been nearly 250,000 casualties. There has not been a word from the United Nations or this Committee of Twenty-Four, of which Australia is now a member. I would like to go through some other examples of Australian and United Nations non-concern about discrimination. If I had the time to do so, honourable members would find that the Committee is always concerned with white nations allegedly discriminating against black people. For that reason I would like to put on the record the names of the nations which comprise he Committee of Twenty-Four. Australia is the twenty-fourth member. Listen to the company we now keep in the United Nations and bear in mind that this Committee was established in 1960 by Soviet Russia. The members are Afghanistan; Bulgaria - both those countries are military dictatorships; Chile; Czechoslovakia, which is a satellite of the Soviet Union; Congo Brazzaville; Communist China - I do not suppose that Communist China could ever claim to be anything but a country that discriminates against Tibetans; Ethiopia-
– The People’s Republic of China.
– That is the same thing. I take the point.
– That name went out a long while ago. Even your own leaders have dropped it.
– I say what I think. I do not follow the Party line like you poor ALP hacks. Another member of the Committee is Fiji, which was given independence by the British Government. Britain gave control to the Fijians who form a minority government, but because they are not white that is all right. Other members are Indonesia, which is a military dictatorship; India, in which there is discrimination everywhere because of the cast system and which should never criticise any other country for racial discrimination; and Iraq, where there is public hanging of Jews.
– This is a good friendly speech you are making tonight.
– I appreciate the interjection, but I am trying to draw the attention of the House to the deplorable decision of this Government to join with a group of at least 17 totalitarian dictatorships, mostly communist countries, where there is no freedom of speech and no civil liberties whatever. There have been plenty of resolutions attacking countries where there is freedom of speech, although perhaps there is discrimination. I am saying that these people who allege discrimination should go to the countries where they allege discrimination takes place.
– Go back to South Africa.
– Mali, is another member of this Committee of Twenty-Four. I think that the honourable member who just interjected said: ‘Go back to South Africa’. I would like to see the honourable gentleman with the big mouth go to South Africa himself and have a look at its problems.
– Well, you go to China and have a look at them, too.
– I do not think China has any problems because there is no democracy whatever in China. The Union of Soviet. Socialist Republics is another member of this illustrious Committee.
– Do you reckon that-
-Order! The honourable member for Chifley should cease interjecting.
– I do not mind him, Mr Speaker. He has a big mouth and he continually falls in it. I do not think one could say that there is very much freedom of speech or many civil liberties in the USSR. There is discrimination there against the Ukranians, the Czechoslovakians and people from the Baltic states. There is discrimination against Jews. There is discrimination against anyone who is prepared to dissent from the Government’s policy. There is also discrimination against-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Although, after the shocking performance of the Oppostion in yesterday’s censure motion, my comments are not as current as they were last week, I rise to express my complete disgust and contempt for the vote of the Australian Country Party in its party room to deny the Government the Appropriation Bill and the actions of various Liberal members who are advocating denial of Supply. I am sickened by the rumours I have heard in this place over the last 2 weeks about the deals that are being attempted. Any move to deny Appropriation or Supply would be one of the gravest steps ever taken in the Australian Parliament. It would be one of grossest irresponsibility. If the 3 Opposition Parties were to agree on either of these measures and if numbers were used in the Senate - where all Australians are not even represented - to deny funds, the effect would be felt by all Australians and would cause much suffering, mainly to those unable to afford any loss of income.
If the processes, customs and traditions of our parliamentary democracy were to be overturned, we would have a vacuum created in the way the affairs of the nation are run, and the processes of disbursement of money would be stopped. A chaotic situation could develop, and the income of thousands of pensioners, public servants and servicemen would be threatened. The Opposition says that to cut inflation we must cut Government spending, but it will never say where. The only other measure the Opposition proposes in respect of inflation is a 90-day wage and price freeze - something which honourable members opposite would never have done in government - which by itself would do nothing. What else do they think about - 200,000 people unemployed or the bankruptcy of industry? In fact, everywhere the Government has cut public spending there has been an uproar. No matter how justified some of the Government’s measures have been, we have seen massive campaigns by the articulate and powerful in our community being orchestrated by the Opposition.
To be consistent, they had better say where they will cut Government spending if they are re-elected. Similarly, if they intend denying Supply they had better say where. Which area are they going to single out for cynical reasons so that they may flirt with the electorate at a double dissolution? Are social security payments to be stopped? Are the Government’s new programs to cease? Are the child care centres and pre-school programs which are to commence in 1974 to cease? Is the twelvefold increase in expenditure on public schools in 1974 and 1975 to be put at risk so that the genius of the per capita system can be reintroduced? Are the new cities programs to be sabotaged after all the planning work has been done? Do I have to tell the people in my electorate that nothing is certain while we have an election? This is the sort of thing that the Opposition proposes. Any move to deny the passage of the Appropriate Bill or the Supply Bill would be an assault on democracy. The British system makes it clear that the popular House is paramount in matters of Supply. There has never been a suggestion that the Upper House should exercise such powers, and the proposed action, if successful, is against all the traditions of our British system. It shows how intemperate the Opposition is when it discussed such matters while the monarch was in Australia. The Upper House is elected on a fancy franchise, is only a House of Review and has no power to deny Supply, morally or historically.
What the actions of the Opposition amount to is its total gutlessness born of an arrogance perpetuating its view that it alone has a natural and divine right to govern. It should remember that in 1966, when we were slaughtered at the election we did not give up. Democracy, the will of the people, accepted practice, the law and order of our society are to be overturned so that the Opposition may attempt to regain power simply because the opinion polls are with it and it has plenty of money. The Opposition now exists by malappointment or gerrymander. The number of seats it wins in this house depends on the allocation of Democratic Labor party preferences. The House of Representatives is the only House in which a Government can be formed. Twenty-two Liberal members and 6 Country Party members sit in this chamber because of DLP preferences. Almost the majority of the Opposition’s representation has been elected not on No. 1, not on No. 2 but on No. 3 votes in many cases. Some honourable members opposite have only 17 per cent of the popular vote. So it is no wonder there are those who would attempt to deny the democratic wishes of the Australian people. Last December the Australian people voted for a change of government. Of 6,642,627 votes cast in the 6 States only 2,718,684 went to the Liberal Party or the Country Party. The Australian Labor Party had to win some 505,042 votes above that figure to govern. The Australian people knew that any new government would inherit massive problems. The main reason the last Government was thrown out was its lassitude in tackling the problems it faced. I estimate that it takes one year to undo 3 years of conservative laissez-faire government, and all Australians with any sort of realistic view know that it will take the Australian Labor Party at least 2 terms in government to get the country back on the rails.
The past Government’s major initiative was to involve Australia in the Vietnam War and to try to keep the United States involved in our region. Any intelligent observer would realise that to effect any real changes for the better in the many areas of crisis and the mess we inherited as a result of a lack of sensibly directed public programs would involve some unpopular decisions. Policies from 1944 and beyond have never been re-examined, and our foreign policy was totally out of accord with reality. Good government is not necessarily popular government or the pandering to every sectional interest. The Opposition, urged on by opinion polls, forgets that at any time during a term in office a government’s support may drop.
How much support was there for the Liberal Party during the traumatic days when it sacked its own Prime Minister when in office - cut his throat in mid-term - because of the ambitions of those who sit on the benches opposite? How many Cabinet changes were there in the last Government? There were some 66 in 2 terms. In May 1971 there were 7 deposed Ministers on the back bench, as Ministers were chopped and changed as the power struggle went on within the Liberal Party. The back stabbing was intense, and even today the scars remain. It must be reassuring for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) to know that there will be no move to depose him in this term. It is clear that all the animosities still remain; the suspicion held by the older members of the relatively newer members remains. The Opposition’s is the same bitter Liberal Party and the same compromise coalition of disparate forces. We have the Liberals versus the Country Party in Victoria; shy friendship between the Country Party and the DLP in Western Australia; the Country Party in love with the DLP in Queensland and at arm’s length in New South Wales. These are the men who wish to deny the Government trying to run the country and cause great suffering and disadvantage to the Australian people in their wish or hope for power motivated only by unprincipled opportune political gain.
How prepared are the Opposition parties for Government? I was amazed by the sanctimonious views of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). I have always regarded him as the most capable member of the Opposition and even wrote to him personally at the time my predecessor so brutally cut his throat. But if you take the reasons he states for an election and denial of supply and look at them consistently you see that he should be the last to raise such a question of machiavellian proportions. Because he himself was destroyed by the newspapers and his colleagues, he is mistaken in thinking that the tables can be turned. If he thinks that his Party can capitalise on the Press campaign being waged in a few quarters, I think he is mistaken. We do not believe that a handful of journalists have such power. But this is the man who when he was Prime Minister had his own Minister for Defence resign and who provoked massive rows with the generals. This is the man who had $50m peeled off him in the 1971-72 Budget when he was Minister for Defence. That was about 2.9 per cent of the gross national product. This was when we were committed to Vietnam. This is the man who went to Papua New Guinea with a gun on his hip and who shot down plans to take over MLC Ltd. In this latter action he at least roused decent emotions and tried to prevent the sell-out of our resources, not even necessarily to the highest bidder. This is still in contrast to his colleagues who still want the open door policy even if we cannot use the reserves we pile up, even if our economy gets completely distorted.
What is the Liberal and Country Party’s foreign policy? In a speech at the University of Sydney the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) said that he still sees the threat of communism as the main threat. The Deputy Leader of the Country Party (Mr Sinclair) sees Japan as the potential threat, and the Leader of the Opposition wants Japan to be more involved in the region militarily. Of course he now admits that even his Party would have recognised China eventually. The official Liberal Party spokesman agrees with all we are doing but does not like the way we are doing it. On other issues the Liberal Party and Country Party are trying to provoke hysteria. There are only a few members with the courage to state the facts as they see them and attack the Government on policy and principle as they see them. For example, the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) attacked some of the doctors’ campaign tactics with respect to the proposed national health scheme. A report on what he said about this matter states:
But in its present form it Is not nationalisation of doctors. . . . But cliches are dropping out of mouths all around in the hope that people are idiots, will believe them and hate the national government and the Labor Party.’
Mr Chipp said many doctors’ associations were opposing the Government’s scheme because they claimed it would destroy the doctor-patient relationship.
We allowed pensioners to be regarded by the medical profession and other professions as second class citizens,’ he said.
At the same time he attacks the Government where he sees the deficiencies in our scheme but he does not attack us just to add to the hysteria. The Fairfaxisation of our defence policies was recently spelt out in articles-
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Earlier this evening, because of my duties with the Committee of Privileges unfortunately I missed the debate on the estimates of the Department of Education. I realise that it is improper in the debate on the adjournment to allude to a debate which has taken place previously today, so that of course I will not do; but I will refer to certain aspects of education, and particularly the Karmel report, the bible of the Labor Party on education.
– Hear, hear!
– The school teacher over there with the smile on his face says: ‘Hear, hear’. As he listens to me that smile will disappear. Differences in the arguments have virtually split the educationalists in this country in half. The point I emphasise initially is that the Australian Labor Party, a class-conscious Party-
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member said that he would not allude to a debate which had occured earlier tonight. Yet earlier tonight we had a debate on education and the Karmel Committee report with which he is now dealing.
-Order! The honourable member may refer to the Karmel report.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your protection from honourable member for Chifley, who represents the north shore of Sydney. One of the things that comes to my mind when I listen to the class-conscious utterances of the Australian Labour Party is that thinking people recognise that in children who are being educated in our society differences in potential arise from biological inheritance, family background and aspirations, influence of school and church and wider influences of the media and society at large. It is appropriate at this stage that I draw to the attention of the Parliament the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Education in South Australia in 1969-70 which was chaired by Professor Karmel. I contain the following statement relating to similar experience in Great Britain:
Limitations of the school system alone for solving the problems of disadvantaged pupils must be recognised. A working party of the Schools’ Council of Great Britain, after a study of socially disadvantaged children in Secondary Schools wrote as follows: “The most decisive factor is not the material home background, not the neighbourhood, not the kind of school the child attends- important as these are. It is the attitude of the parents to education, their interest and support of the child in co-operation with the school which matters most. Compensatory education will always be a good second to good housing, and the elimination of poverty, and (above all) to the security and affection in the home.’
The Karmel report must be discussed at the level of principle and every time the absent Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) alludes to the right of appeal against categorisation -
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. When an earlier point of order was taken about the honourable member for Griffith alluding to a debate which took place earlier this evening you suggested that he was speaking about the Karmel report. He is quoting exactly the same document as was used by the honourable member for Petrie in his speech on the debate on the estimates for the Department of Education. He is making exactly the same speech.
-Order! No point of order is involved.
– I thank you once again for your protection, Mr Speaker. I did not hear the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke), but apparently 2 great minds in this Parliament have recognised the tremendous value of the extract I have quoted from Professor Karmel’s report. I am glad that I was not the only honourable member who read it and thought it had value. Apparently a colleague in this Parliament has seen the value of it. The Minister for Education alludes to the right of appeal. When he tries to defend the mess that he has introduced to the Australian Parliament, he refers to the right of appeal against categorisation. But we should not be directed away from the real principle - the real issue - we are discussing. Clear differentiation must be maintained between grants for recurrent expenses, which should be the right and expectation of parents on behalf of their children on the one hand, and the capital position of needs of schools on the other hand. The categorisation procedure is bad government. It is impractical, incapable of effective application and has created insecurity and inequalities. The point is that the Karmel report as introduced by the Government has placed many of this nation’s schools in a situation where they are frightened to plan for tomorrow because they do not know what the Government is planning.
– Fewer than 10 per cent.
– The ungifted member for Casey says: ‘Fewer than 10 per cent’. He is like an alley cat, seeking to separate our society and considers that the per centage he wipes off is worthy of being scratched, torn out and destroyed. He fails to recognise that there is a percentage of schools in Australia which, for decades, has set a standard of education which has been a goal for attainment by other schools. I do not deny that there are some schools in Australia that are more fortunate than others, but I do say that those schools have attained their position in many cases as a result of sacrifice by the parents of pupils. I am the product of a State school system in my early years, a private school system in my intermediate years and of a State college in my later years. I have seen both worlds. I know the sacrifice that my parents made to enable me to attend one of the so-called private schools which the Australian Labor Party Government regards as ducks flying in the sky needing to be shot at and brought to the ground. It does not regard such schools as worthy of consideration. Unfortunately time is limited in this debate. There is much that I should have liked to have said but I conclude on the point that the Australian Labor Party is a party which sets out to try to level out our society - to bring about an equality of society.
Government supporters - Hear, hear!
– Members opposite repeat ‘Hear, hear’ like a lot of galahs but by their very approach to the equalisation of society they are destroying the opportunities of those persons whom they are trying to assist most. It has been stated time and time again in this Parliament that if independent schools are closed, the children from those schools will be forced to attend state schools and so state school children will be deprived of better education because of the increased number of children at the state schools. I regret the short time that members have available in which to speak these days. My point is that the Australian Labor Party has done nothing to assist education in Australia. Indirectly and probably unwittingly - I urge members opposite to listen to what members of the Opposition say in this Parliament because they may recognise the folly of their ways - the Government is destroying the opportunity of those persons it is setting out to help. Members of the Liberal Party believe in opportunity for all. We do not class society into groups. Members of the Government do that and I am sorry that a party which parades itself so proudly as being a party which does not care about class is truly a class party.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-r-Last night during the adjournment debate in the 4 minutes available to me I was referring to the manner in which the Premier of New South Wales Sir Robert Askin - he changed his name from Robin by deed poll - introduced petty party politics into the opening of the Sydney Opera House and to the pettiness he showed in leaving the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr Whitlam) sitting in the crowd. This was an event which affected not merely Sydney or New South Wales, but the whole of Australia.
– He did not invite any Victorian members.
– All Victorian members and members of Parliament from other States were ignored. The important point is that he received great assistance from the Australian Government through the Navy, which provided ships, the Royal Australian Air Force, which provided Fill aircraft and helicopters, the Commonwealth car pool and television landlines. Sir Robert Askin was prepared to accept all that assistance from the Australian Government yet he left the Prime Minister to sit among the crowd and not on the platform. When the official party of about 100 went to tour the Opera House with Her Majesty the Prime Minister was left out. This was a dreadful example of pettiness and the introduction of politics. The New South Wales Premier even forgot the former Premier of New South Wales, Mr Joe Cahill, who piloted the project through the New South Wales Parliament and attracted great criticism for so doing. He forgot Bob Heffron who continued the project. He forgot the New South Wales Leader of the Opposition, Pat Hills who, as Lord Mayor of Sydney, was responsible for choosing the site of the Opera House and getting it set aside in the first instance. Pat Hills also helped Joe Cahill pilot the project through the New South Wales Parliament. These were all dreadful oversights, but there was worse. Mr Speaker, you would not believe it. He used of course, as an excuse, protocol. If a similar sort of function were conducted in the United States of America by the State of Texas, would the President be left sitting down amongst the crowd? That would not happen, even after the Watergate affair.
But worse is to come. Some very important visitors from overseas were present at the function. There was Mr Somare of Papua New Guinea. There was the Deputy Prime Miinster of New Zealand. There was Mrs Marcos, the wife of the President of the Philippines. They were kept waiting in the crowd for one hour. They had to wait in the sun and heat. When a representative of the Australian Government approached Mr Sid Grange, the protocol officer for the State of New South Wales, and asked him where he could take those international visitors, he was told: ‘You will do nothing. This is a State function’. In other words, Sir Robert Askin treated the Opera House opening as his election campaign opening and put on as good a turn for his friends and supporters as Thommo’s puts on for its customers. Without a doubt, he is rushing to the polls before the Barton affair breaks and destroys him. As I said before, it is a pity that a great national day was marred by petty politics. The Premier would have earned great credit by recognising the work that had been done by Joe Cahill and Pat Hills and by not taking the opportunity to play party politics on such an important occasion. Unfortunately, he was too petty to face up to doing the job properly; he was too much of a larrikin.
– Earlier today the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) drew attention to the fact that today is United Nations Day. I think we should give some consideration to what that implies. I am one who believes that we need a strong international organisation. I am not one who believes that we should denigrate the concept of international order in this world - very much the opposite. But I note with regret, as indeed the honourable member for Boothby noted with regret, that the United Nations does not, as at present, perform that function. To some extent that is due to the structural weaknesses in the United Nations setup. When its charter was formulated, provision was incorporated in it for a revision in the light of experience. That revision has never taken place. Indeed, I do not think it likely that it can take place because no resolution for a revision can be put forward without the approval of the Security Council, and in the Security Council the veto of one permanent member is sufficient to abort any such resolution. Three of the permanent members of the Security
Council are China, Russia and the United States. Is it likely that they will find themselves in agreement on any vital matter? I think not. Therefore the ramshackle United Nations proceeds on.
I believe that the existence of the United Nations is, in a sense, doing a disservice to world order, not because I believe that there is no need for a strong international organisation - very much the contrary - but because the United Nations in its present sham form occupies the ground and prevents the coming into existence of any effective guardian and guarantor of world order. This can be seen today, I fear, in respect of the conflict which is occurring in the Middle East. The United Nations was able, because the two super powers of Russia and the United States did come together on this matter, to persuade the belligerents to accept a ceasefire. But, unhappily, it was not able to police that ceasefire. None of us can say from this distance whether the violations came from the Arab side or the Israeli side. But we know that both sides have accused the other of violating the truce. So far as I know - one never knows quite how accurate international reporting is - the conflict is still raging at the present moment.
The same was true and is true, unhappily, with respect to South East Asia. We have had a settlement and ceasefire in Vietnam. But that ceasefire - in this case we do know from first hand information - has been violated consistently by the communists. Aggression is occuring in South East Asia on a massive scale against South Vietnam and Cambodia, and we still stand powerless. We have the ceasefire, yes; but a ceasefire is meaningless when communists are capable of consistently violating it. One of the saddest things is that although this open aggression is occurring - and it is occurring - the Australian Govern ment and the United Nations have shut their eyes to it. Earlier this evening the honourable member for Boothby cited several - not several, many - instances in which the United Nations has shut its eyes to uncomfortable reality.
I have been a delegate to the United Nations on more than one occasion and I have seen the apparatus in action. I have seen the way in which the communists inside the United Nations manipulate its decisions and abort its actions. That is regrettable in every way. What I have to say is, I think, even more regrettable. I believe that the communist manipulations in the United Nations have been possible only because of reprehensible weakness from the side of the democracies. The United States - I say this with regret and with some first hand experience - has not discharged its responsibility of giving a firm lead to the democracies in the United Nations. Other democracies also, I fear, have failed in their duty. Because they have been unable to stand up to communist abuse and because they have been consumed as perhaps we are here to our shame, with petty maneouvering, the communists, who are implacably going forward, have been able to take position after position. That is our weakness. It is a very regrettable and terrible thing. I say from some first hand experience that our side will not back up those who take a stand against the communist infiltration forward, which is happening now. It is happening on an international scale. It is happening on a national and internal scale here in Australia. Those who have the responsibility of taking a firm stand, unfortunately, are unable or unwilling to do so.
-Order! It being 11 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.
Mouse adjourned at 11 p.m.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS UPON NOTICE The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
The information which has been collated for the honourable member is too lengthy and complex to be published in Hansard. Copies are available at the Table Office of the House of Representatives.
Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority will continue to perform their existing functions in the Australian system of tariff protection.
The number of assessments of estates liable for Estate Duty that were issued during the financial years 1969-70 to 1972-73 and the number of deaths registered in Australia in the years 1969-70 to 1971-72 are set out below:
It should be noted, however, that the above numbers of estate duty assessments include those in respect of persons who died in years prior to the year in which the relevant assessments were issued. The following table shows the number of estate duty assessments that were issued up to 30 June 1973 in respect of estates of persons who died in the years ended 30 June 1969 to 30 June 1973:
It ls also mentioned that the above figures relate to original assessments only. They do not take account of amendments which can result in dutiable estates becoming non-dutiable. The number of estate .duty assessments amended in the financial year 1972-73 was over 7,000 of which more than 60 per cent resulted in a reduction of duty assessed. However, it is not known to what extent, if any, these amendments may have reduced the number of estates that were liable for duty.
Does the Government support the adoption by the International Monetary Fund of an automatic exchange rate adjustment process based on objective indicators.
This matter has been discussed extensively in the IMF Committee of Twenty on International Monetary Reform.
In its original form, as put forward by the United States, the proposal was for an automatic system whereby countries would be required to take policy measures, such as exchange rate changes, to adjust their balance of payments positions whenever their level of reserve assets rose above or fell below certain pre-determined ‘trigger points’. In this form, the proposal was not acceptable to other members of the Committee.
It was doubted whether H would be possible to be objective in determining a ‘normal’ level of reserves and trigger points for individual countries. In economic terms, it is not realistic to determine a country’s need for adjustment solely on the basis of one indicator of imbalance. The proposal would have left countries with little or no say as to the timing of measures to implement and achieve adjustment. Domestic, social and political conditions vary widely amongst countries but this could not be recognised in a fully automatic system. As a technical matter, the system’ would also depend on an agreed definition of reserves among all countries, something which ls far from settled at present.
There were some other practical problems. For example, it is generally accepted that the system could not apply to the major oil producers. In fact, it appears that Australia would be one of a quite small number of middle-ranking countries which would be exposed to the full rigours of a purely automatic adjustment system determined by objective indicators. For these reasons, Australia has joined other members in questioning the original United States proposal within the Committee of Twenty.
Australia, along with most other members of the Committee of Twenty, believes that decisions concerning the balance of payments adjustment process must be determined by overall judgments or assessments rather than by some mechanistic formula. However, we also believe that, within this approach, objective indicators have an important role to play. Tentative agreement has been reached on this basis.
Will he give an assurance that he will not seek to prosecute upon indictment doctors who refuse to obey his predecessor’s freeze on doctors’ fees under the terms of the ACT Prices Regulation Ordinance 1949-1973; if not, why not.
Each case would need to be considered according to the particular facts. However, there would need to be continual wilful breaches after adequate warnings had been given before I would seek to initiate a prosecution summarily. A prosecution upon indictment can only be done in the name of the Attorney-General.
Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration (Question No. 945) Mr Lynch asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Australia intends to become a party in the near future to the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, drawn up at New York on 31 January 1967 and the Protocol relating to Refugee Seamen drawn up at The Hague on 12 June 1973.
In the event that Australia were to take refugees in fulfilment of this offer Australia would accept responsibility for the costs of movement in the same manner as in the past. In view of this the special contribution suggested in the question does not arise.
Will the Government give consideration to allowing employees of the Australian Public Service who transfer to the Public Service of a State to retain their accumulated superannuation, long service leave and other rights.
It is a matter for the State concerned to determine the extent to which it will recognise the accumulated rights of employees of the Australian Public Service who transfer to a State Public Service.
I have been informed by Treasury that provisions do exist whereby an employee of the Australian Public Service, on transferring to a State Public Service, is able to preserve his accumulated superannuation entitlement. Employees who transfer to the Public Service of a State without a break in service are, as a general rule, able to pay the refund of contributions from the Superannuation Fund to the State Fund and receive benefits under the State scheme that include the employer element. Where this is not possible, and the transfer occurs within 3 months of the termination of service with the Australian Public Service, an employee would be eligible to preserve his superannuation rights in the form of a deferred benefit in the Superannuation Fund.
The Public Service Board advises that all State Public Services other than the Queensland Public Service recognise service in the Australian Public Service for long service leave purposes.
The Public Service Board has informed me that if the honourable member cares to specify the ‘other rights’ on which he seeks information it will endeavour to ascertain the details from the State Public Service Boards.
If formal discussions have been held,
When may I expect an answer to question No. 715 which I asked on 31 May 1973.
Question No. 715 was answered on 27 September 1973 (Hansard, page 1711).
The Director-General of Recruiting, Department of Defence, advises that he was misrepresented in the following specific matters:
The alternative arrangement in the case of some small official post offices is to convert them to the non-official method of operation, which does not reduce the range and grade of service being provided but brings them into line with many other similar small towns where non-official post offices have been providing a good grade of service for many years.
The small non-official post offices being reviewed are those which are mainly located at places where there are no shops and are very little used by local residents except to serve as mail delivery points. At many, of these places other arrangements, such as delivery to the gate of each resident, can be made at less cost.
The Honourable Member has recently raised some aspects associated with the conversion of these offices and I will be writing to him shortly.
Although there are a number of small non-official post offices in the Grey Electorate which are serving mainly as mail delivery points, the review of these has not yet reached the stage where it would be appropriate to mention possible locations. Local enquiries about possible alternative arrangements and their suitability to meet community needs should be made first. However, I have arranged for the Honourable Member to be informed immedately a conclusion is reached that an office should be closed.
Will he give consideration to allowing persons who suffer complete baldness through illness to claim the costs of their wigs as a taxation concession, subject to the claim being substantiated by a medical certificate.
I will note the suggestion for consideration, along with the many other requests for taxation concessions, when the relevant provisions of the law are next under review prior to the next Budget.
and (2) I do not propose to name the officers who have participated in the Committees referred to in (1). However, the Departments and other organisations of the Australian Government represented on the Committees referred to in this question are as follows -
Department of Overseas Trade, Department of the Treasury, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of External Territories.
Department of the Environment and Conservation, other interested Departments (all Departments attended an initial meeting) and the following authorities -
Overseas Telecommunications Commission Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority Commonwealth Railways Public Works Committee Bureau of Meteorology Universities Commission Commission on Advanced Education.
Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Defence, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of the Treasury, Department of the Special Minister of State, Public Service Board, Archives Office.
Department of Secondary Industry, Department of Labour, Department of Social Security, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of the Treasury. Other Departments are co-opted as necessary.
Department of Urban and Regional Development, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of the Treasury, Department of the Environment and Conservation, Department of Transport. Other Departments and authorities are co-opted as necessary. (3) The periods during which the Committees operated were as follows:
The question of staff savings is more difficult to estimate and will depend to a large degree on the final system design. However, it is intended that basic records will, under normal circumstances, remain in the central registry and for this reason it is anticipated that there will be a resultant reduction in the need for staff engaged on file handling.
In addition, 2 working groups have met in Adelaide on 9 occasions and the balance of the results of these working groups is to be considered by the Advisory Committee in Adelaide on 8 November.
In addition, the following organisations are kept informed and will be contributing to the work of the Committee as appropriate: Qantas, TAA, AAA, Australian Federation of Air Pilots, General Aviation Association, the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs, the Department of the Treasury, Department of Defence, Department of Air, South Australian Engineering and Water Supply Department, South Australian Department of Lands, South Australian Department of Marine and Harbours, South Australian Tourist Bureau and the Electricity Trust of South Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 October 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19731024_reps_28_hor86/>.