28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the undersigned men and women of Australia believe in a Christian way of life; and that no democracy can thrive unless its citizens are responsible and law abiding.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will see that the powerful communicator, television, is used to build into the nation those qualities of character which make 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 Daly, Mr Sinclair, Mr McMahon, Mr Armitage, Mr Bonnett, Sir John Cramer, Mr Fairbairn, Mr Luchetti, Mr Lucock, Mr MacKellar, Mr Nixon, Mr Olley, Mr Ruddock, Mr Turner, Mr Wentworth and Mr Whan.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘free’ national health scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme.
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Barnard, Dr Everingham, Mr Snedden, Mr Drury, Mr McLeay and Mr Whittorn.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they oppose the Australian Health Insurance Program and any National Health Scheme;
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a General Practitioner, Specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward of private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bonnett, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Cooke, Mr Jarman, Mr Killen, 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 many citizens more, particularly single people and working wives.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalisation of health services which will lead to impersonalised and mediocre standards of medical care, the creation of a huge new bureaucracy, and will limit the citizen’s freedom of choice.
That the present health scheme can be amended to overcome existing deficiencies, and that the proposed scheme is totally unnecessary.
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 Anthony, Mr Gorton, Mr Giles and Mr Wentworth.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
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 Crean, Mr Snedden, Mr Gorton and Mr Peacock.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shows:
Your petitioners therefore ask 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 so instruct the proposed National Schools Commission.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Nixon.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shows:
Your petitioners therefore ask 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 so instruct the proposed National Schools Commission.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Erwin.
– I inform the House that in accordance with the arrangements which I announced on the 9th of last month the Special Minister of State, Senator Willesee, has been sworn as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I shall represent him in this House in his role as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has received a request from the Queensland Government for financial assistance in respect of the extensive damage to many Brisbane homes and shops during the recent tornado. If not, will the Government provide the usual dollar for dollar assistance allocated for disaster areas when a request for help has been received?
– I have been expecting a request. I have not yet received it. Of course, the ordinary conditions and practices will apply in respect of this natural disaster.
– Has the Minister for Labour seen reports of New South Wales Premier Askin’s proposed state of emergency legislation whereby unionists could be gaoled for striking? Does the Government see any merit in this proposal? Would the legislation affect the Minister’s stewardship of industrial relations in Australia?
– I did see the report. I recognised it immediately for what it was - a bit of cheap political gimmickry which has backfired on the Premier of New South Wales so forcefully that he is now backing away from it as fast as he can. Of course, it is gimmickry of the Watergate style. The Premier seeks to fool the people of New South Wales into believing that he can cure industrial unrest better than the Labor Party can cure it when, in point of fact, the vast majority of strikes in the last 12 months have occurred in New South Wales. Whether one measures it by the number of strikes or by the number of man-days lost, one sees that New South Wales has by far the worst record of all the States. There is clear evidence of provocation on the part of the New South Wales Government. That Government is doing everything it can to provoke stoppages. I have 3 examples of the New South Wales Government’s provocation of industrial stoppages in the railway industry. Commissioner Shirley of the New South Wales Public Transport Commission deliberately stranded the passengers of the Indian Pacific train in Broken Hill for a day. This was absolutely unnecessary. On another occasion when the union drew attention to the fact that one of the rails on the South Coast line was un safe, that in some cases it had sagged below the ground and in others was protruding above the ground, and asked the Railways Commissioner to check the safety of the South Coast line the Government deliberately closed the line altogether although the union had indicated that it was willing to operate on one of the 2 tracks until the other could be checked.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the New South Wales Government is attempting to create a situation of tension within that State. If this leads to the introduction of emergency powers under which workers will be gaoled for striking, we will find a near revolutionary situation in which there could be bloodshed in the streets of Sydney and in provincial cities of New South Wales. If this is what it proposes to do a vote for the Askin Government is a vote for bloodshed and anarchy. The guilty men are the Askins and the other conspirators. That is what they are. Members of the Liberal Government of New South Wales are a bunch of conspirators who will stop at nothing to try to win some political advantage out of the distress and the inconvenience caused to the New South Wales public. The New South Wales public should seek to avoid the disaster that is awaiting them, and which will certainly come with the introduction of legislation under which the onus of proof will be upon the person charged. Let us not forget that. Much was said about the onus of proof in this place and in the other place during the recent debate on the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. If the people of New South Wales vote for the Askin Government they will prove themselves to be more gullible than the people of America were when they voted for the return of the Nixon Administration.
– I also ask the Minister for Labour a question. Does his memory go back as far as June and July 1949? Is he aware of the fact that the legislation to which he has just been referring and which was mentioned by the Premier of New South Wales is a mirror of that prepared by the Labor Party Premier of New South Wales when Ben Chifley was the Prime Minister of Australia? If what the Minister has said applies to the Premier of New South Wales in 1973 it must therefore be deemed to apply historically to the Labor Prime Minister of 1949 and the Premier of that day.
– I am glad to have been asked a second question on this matter because I have a couple of very strong points I can now make which I should have made earlier. The first point comes out in the question just asked. It is true that the Premier of New South Wales could have introduced emergency legislation at any time he wished. He does not need an election to introduce emergency legislation if there is any need for it. He has been there now for nearly 9 years and has made no effort at all-
– He has a majority in both Houses.
– I thank the Prime Minister for his assistance. Mr Askin has had a majority in both Houses of Parliament; so there has been nothing to prevent him from bringing in this panacea for industrial unrest if he wanted to. If the emergency legislation be now talks about is the panacea for industrial unrest which he now pretends it to be, he ought to be in gaol for not introducing it earlier. However, it will not cure anything, and Askin knows it.
– What about Ben Chifley?
– I am coming to that. The McGirr Government introduced legislation in 1949 and found out one thing that Mr Askin apparently has not yet discovered - I know that he has been knighted, but he is still ‘Mr’ to me - and that is that a gaol sentence cannot be imposed upon any person who is covered by a Federal award; no State government can impose a gaol sentence upon a person covered by a Federal award. So, if there is an emergency that involves people covered by Federal awards, Sir Robert Askin’s gaol penalties cannot be applied in any case. That is why it was necessary for complementary legislation to be introduced
– I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, I remind you again of your recommendation or request to Ministers that they make answers to questions relevant. I also point out to you that we on this side of the House would be quite willing to permit the Minister for Labour to make a statement if” he wished, and then for us to make a political issue of this matter as he is making a political issue of this question and answer.
– This is a most important and explosive situation that we are dealing with and the right honourable gentle man ought to be patient enough to hear the facts about it and not to want to stifle me. In the coal dispute of 1949 it was found, because of the legal position I have just outlined, that the gaoling legislation of the McGirr Government of 1949 could not be applied unless complementary legislation was passed by the Australian Government. I can tell the House now that the Australian Government will not receive from me a recommendation to gaol unionists who are merely fighting for their just rights. There will be nothing of that kind. What is going to happen ought to be pondered on. If these threats to gaol people for going on strike and to convert free men into criminals are pressed ahead with - that is what is proposed - it will mean the destruction of the New South Wales industrial arbitration system, because unions operating under State awards will have no alternative but to apply to the Federal jurisdiction to get Federal awards in order to escape the gaol sentences that the Askin Government proposes to impose upon them.
– Will the Minister for Services and Property state whether, under the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act dealing with the disclosure of political donations, it will be necessary for the names of political parties to be registered? If so, what effect will the change of name in Queensland and Western Australia from the Australian Country Party to the National Party have in regard to this legislation? Will it enable the Country Party to evade publication of donations received to date from multi-national and foreign interests and is it a subterfuge designed for this purpose? If so, will he make certain in the proposed amendments that neither the Country Party nor any other party will, by change of name, be able to evade the provisions of this very much desired reform of the Electoral Act and thus avoid disclosure of the source of its campaign funds?
– I thank the honourable member for a very important question. It is true that the proposals that we have in mind for amendment of the Electoral Act will force all parties to disclose the names of donors - both foreign and home interests - to political campaign funds. It is possible that the Country Party had this in mind when it changed its name in Queensland and Western Australia. I can assure the honourable member that neither the Country Party nor any other party will escape or evade the law by a change of this kind, irrespective of the intentions behind its move. I am inclined to think, though, from reports and statements by the Leader of the Country Party, that for some strange reason its members have become ashamed of the name ‘Country’. Little did I dream, having listened to those members opposite so proudly proclaim how they represented country interests and country interests alone, that they would go on record as saying that ‘Country’ was an insular name and that they must get away from it. I can understand people escaping their crimes by changing their names. I know that the Country Party has plenty to escape. To an extent, its members should be congratulated for realising at long last that their crimes are finding them out and that they have had to change their name to escape their crimes.
– I ask the Minister for Labour a question. It is my understanding that the Department of Labour prepares each Monday an analysis of strikes, giving the causes of strikes and the likely developments in relation to a particular dispute, a particular strike or industrial trouble. I ask the Minister: In fulfilment of the Government’s pledge to open government, will he make a copy of that weekly report available to me as the Opposition’s spokesman on labour matters?
– I have received a letter from the honourable gentleman about this matter. I did not know such reports existed until I became Minister. In fact, I did not know then until several weeks had passed when it was leaked to me by somebody inside the Department of Labour that such a system existed and that my predecessor had given instructions that I was not to get a copy. I now get copies regularly. I do not know whether the reports come out each Monday. I think the honourable member is right; they probably do. He will be pleased to know that he will be provided with a copy, not on a confidential basis. He can show it to all his Melbourne Grammar School friends. In fact, he can show it to all his friends from category A schools. I will also make copies of the reports available to the various trades and labour councils, to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations and to the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. What action has been taken to assist Mrs Madonna Weber, an Australian citizen, to secure custody of her Australian child, Rudi, who was abducted by his Austrian father in July of this year?
– I understand the concern of the honourable member in relation to this case because the Australian citizen concerned, I think, comes from his electorate. I know that there has been a great deal of sympathy and interest in her predicament which arose out of the abduction of her child Rudi in July this year by her Austrian husband. The difficulty in this case is the difficulty in so many cases, a difficulty of dual nationality which I might describe as one of the curses of citizenship throughout the world. It must have given a great deal of encouragement to a great many people that the Prime Minister was able to deal with this matter in a most useful and constructive way in the People’s Republic of China. I would hope that the example might be followed throughout the world.
Officers of the Department of Immigration, officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the embassy in Vienna have given all possible assistance to Mrs Weber in the presentation of her case to the Austrian courts to endeavour to have her son returned to Australia. The last report which I received indicated that she had had very good access - in fact, I think she had seen her little boy 4 times in a week - and the embassy and all the officers concerned were given every form of assistance in the presentation of her case to the Austrian authorities that she be reunited with her child and bring him back to Australia. I would hope that we would make considerable progress in future not only in this case but in all cases in which families find themselves in this sort of situation as a result of dual nationality. It would be a modest ambition, I would think, of most members of this Parliament, and certainly the Government, that all nations would follow the Australian example of recognising one citizenship and one allegiance.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister or perhaps the Minister for Labour. Can the Prime Minister tell the House when the national wage case will be heard and will he give the House an assurance that in the light of the serious inflation situation the advice which the Government gives to the court on this occasion will be significantly different from the advice it gave during the last case?
– I cannot tell the right honourable gentleman when the national wage case will be heard and the Prime Minister has just instructed me not to give the assurance.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Overseas Trade. Is it the intention of the Australian Government to enable ordinary Australians for the first time to share in the wealth of their own nation’s industries and resources? Is much of this wealth now being siphoned off by foreign owned corporations? Will the Government actively encourage Australian citizens, either individually or acting in concert, to invest their savings in national enterprises, thereby receiving direct benefits from the development and growth of such enterprises? Is it the intention of the Australian Government to prevent a continuation of the sell out of Australian industries and resources to foreign interests? Would savings and investment in industrial development by ordinary citizens have a significant effect on the current inflationary pressures?
– The Government has a mandate to do something about the sell 0U of Australian resources to overseas interests. This was one of the matters that was clearly stated in the policy of the Australian Labor Party and was clearly stated in the policy speech of the Prime Minister. The Government acquired a mandate to strengthen and extend the Australian Industry Development Corporation for this purpose. The Australian electorate understood this. The Australian Parliament understood this. Bills were introduced for this purpose on 30 August. The debate was adjourned on that date to give everybody in both Houses of the Parliament a thorough opportunity to study and examine the 2 Bills that were submitted to achieve this purpose. Each of the Parties in the Parliament was given an opportunity of meeting officers of the Department of Secondary Industry and of the Australian Industry Development Corporation to have explained each aspect of the Bills. The Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party did not avail themselves of that opportunity.
– You gave us 24 hours.
– The night before.
– You could still be studying them now if you wanted to do so. The debate on the Bills has not been concluded. They are still in the Senate. You have had plenty of opportunity to take advantage of this arrangement if you wanted to. In fact, the Democratic Labor Party in the Senate took an opportunity to consult with the officials of the Department and spent several hours doing so. The DLP senators also spent a considerable time talking to me about the Bills. The Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party were not in the least interested in the content of the Bills. They decided, without adequate consideration, to oppose and reject the Bills completely. They did that because they are acting as agents of foreign corporations. When the very restricted legislation that established the AIDC was introduced into the Party rooms most of the honourable members who now oppose the Government’s legislation opposed the legislation that was submitted because of the determination of Sir John McEwen and later Mr Gorton to introduce it. Almost every honourable member opposite did his best to destroy the legislation at that time when there was no possibility of seeing it as an instrument of nationalisation. But in those days almost everyone in the Liberal Party did his best to destroy that legislation. They were led by the right honourable member for Lowe who has been both a close associate of the Australian financial institutions that carry the business of overseas investment and acts as a spokesman for those institutions in this Parliament, and always has done so. He fought in every way that he could to prevent McEwen and Gorton from introducing that legislation in Parliament. He is nodding his head in agreement with that. The present legislation does 2 things. It provides, first of all, an opportunity for the ordinary Australian citizen to invest in the ownership of his own country, and to give him an opportunity to do that so that he can benefit not only from agreed rates of return but also from the improvements from the capital gains on his investment.
– I rise on a point of order. Question time, Sir, I claim, is designed for the answering of questions specifically. What has happened this morning in this case and in other cases is that there has been debate of certain matters. Debate should be confined to ministerial statements or Bills. Question time is not designed for debate. I claim that this morning question time has been grossly abused and is being abused now. These matters can be debated, yes, but not at question time.
-Order! The honourable member has made his point of order. On numerous occasions I have made appeals to honourable members asking questions that the preface to their question be short and that they get to the substance of the question as soon as possible. Again I appeal to Ministers to make their answers as brief as possible.
– Of course, for 18 years 1 have listened to Ministers on this side of the House taking every advantage of question time and I have watched the honourable member for Bradfield listen for hours and days and months and years to that being done without making an objection. His spurious indignation now that he is on the Opposition side does not count with me at all.
– I raise a point of order on 2 different bases, Mr Speaker. The first one is that the Minister is not reflecting the views that he expressed in this House when he made it clear during consideration of this legislation at the Committee stage that he had not promoted-
-Order! There is no point of order involved. I am not responsible for the way in which a Minister answers a question.
– But you are responsible in some sense to ensure that truth should be reflected in the statements made by the various members of the Government.
-Order! I think I explained the other week that it would be impossible for any person, irrespective of who he may be, to know whether matters are true or untrue or whether they are factual or not factual in regard to the 21 ministries held in this chamber and the six held in the Senate which are represented in this chamber. That would be an impossible position.
– Sir, I can say that what I am saying is true and is in Hansard.
-Order! I am not responsible for the way in which a Minister answers a question. I call the Minister for Overseas Trade.
– It is apparent that the right honourable member for Lowe knows nothing more about taking a point of order than a member of a junior boys’ debating society. He has exhibited that 3 times already this morning. The Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill is still before the Senate. As I said when it was introduced in this chamber, the Government is interested in any constructive proposals that the Opposition, either here or in the Senate, can put forward to improve that Bill, but it is not interested in the type of ‘behaviour that was exhibited here during the course of the debate when no member of the Opposition sought to make any submission at all.
– I rise on a point of order. The Minister is debating the question. There is a proper time for debate in this House and it is not during question time.
-Order! Again I ask the Minister for Overseas Trade to make his answer as brief as possible.
– The Bill is at present before the Senate.
– Let us have an election on it.
– If the Leader of the Country Party desires to make this a political issue I am quite sure that the people of Australia will want to exercise a judgment against men like him who will not in this House even strengthen Australian private enterprise but who will continue to act as though they were agents of foreign corporations.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the remarks made by Sir William Dargie on Saturday at the presentation of the Alice Art Prize and the selection of paintings for the Alice Springs art collection. Sir William said that for a government which made so much in its election promises of giving assistance to Australian artists Mr Whitlam’s Government has done so very little in this direction. In the face of the extraordinary Government purchase of the very highly priced overseas painting ‘Blue Poles’, will the Prime Minister say yes or no to Sir William’s much publicised suggestion that he could easily and should make available $750,000 to establish an art centre in such an outstanding centre of art as Alice Springs?
– I would think it would be clear, even to Sir William Dargie, that the present Government has done more in its term of office than preceding governments did in any decade. Sir William Dargie was the adviser to preceding governments for 20 years. He has been notably disaffected because he has had to give way to other views and to younger men.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Education. As it has been alleged by some State governments that money has been taken away, will the Minister inform the House on the situation in respect of grants to the States for tertiary education?
– A number of Opposition spokesmen and sometimes State Ministers have discussed the increased Commonwealth expenditure on tertiary education as simply a self-balancing item - a put and take job - whereby the States have lost general grant.; and then received the same amount through the provisions of section 96 of the Constitution. This is quite incorrect. Last financial year Commonwealth expenditure on tertiary education was SI 66m. In this financial year it will be $388m, which is an increase of $222m. State general grants and loan funds have been reduced by $144m. If we leave out the State item, the Commonwealth increase in expenditure is $7 8m over $166m, which is an increase of 47 per cent. They are not simply selfbalancing items.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Is the Minister aware of industrial trouble at the Hollywood Repatriation Hospital in Perth over the last week, including a 2-day strike during which patients had to look after themselves in some respects? Is the Minister aware also that the Secretary of the Western Australian branch of the Hospital Employees Federation of Australia, by coercion and intimidation is attempting to compel about 60 female hospital assistants to join that union? Will the Minister act immediately to protect these women, who are acting only in accordance with their legal rights, by issuing appropriate directions to prevent the union secretary and other unionists from intimidating these women? Will the Minister assure these women that their jobs are secure and that they will not be dismissed if they do not join the union?
– Yes, I am aware of the dispute that has occurred at the Hospital. On Friday of last week I had a conference with officials of the union based in Melbourne and officials based in Western Australia. The problem is that there are some 60 members of the staff who take all the advantages that accrue to the staff because of union activity and union sacrifices and they will not join the union. They do not have to join the union. They are not being forced to join the union. But we have made facilities available to enable union officials to speak to them. The talk of coercion is nonsense. There happens to be a core of people there who refuse to join the union. There is nothing in the award which says that they must join. I have explained to the union that I believe it is the job of the union to persuade them to join and that we would make every facility available to enable the union to have access to the people who are involved in this case. But I must make it quite clear that unionism is fundamental to the way in which we conduct our operations in industrial matters. I believe quite firmly that those people who are part of a work force and who take advantage of all the things that accrue as a result of union activity are morally and ethically bound to join a union.
– Will you protect their jobs?
– Of course their jobs are protected.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Capital Territory. Does the Minister have any knowledge of the death last Friday night of 2 people as a result of a road accident on the Barton Highway about one mile outside the Australian Capital Territory? Is the Minister aware that the accident occurred at a spot at which the road diminishes from a 24-foot wide quality surface to a narrow sub-standard surface? In view of the fact that the condition of the roadway must be accepted as being at least a possible factor contributing to the cause of the tragedy, will the Minister seek an urgent conference with the appropriate New South Wales Minister with a view to having the position rectified or, alternatively, will he recommend to Cabinet that the Australian Government should offer to accept responsibility for the reconstruction and maintenance to acceptable standards of roads linking the Australian Capital Territory with the State roads system, including the Barton Highway from Canberra to Yass and the road from Canberra to Tumut?
– It is true that the roads leading into Canberra are unsatisfactory, particularly the last few miles of them. It is my belief that the road from Yass to Canberra is so different from the main highway and from the road inside the Australian Capital Territory that it will have to be approached as part of the national scheme. I will consult my colleague the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, who I think is the tactful negotiator with the State governments on these matters. I have initiated a study of what is necessary to bring the roads leading into Canberra up to the general standard. We hope, of course, that we will be able to negotiate with the people over the border as successfully as we can with people outside Australia. It is one of the unfortunate facts of public life in Australia that it is much more difficult to deal with many of the State governments than it is to deal with foreign powers.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is it the intention of the Government to take action to reduce home mortgage interest rates by 1 per cent?
– I have nothing to add to what has already been announced on this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that charges made by doctors for third party insurance cases and workers compensation cases are met by the responsible insurance company? What is the position where doctors prescribe drugs that are available under the national health scheme? Do the insurance companies pay for the cost of these prescriptions or is it borne by the Commonwealth? If the cost is borne by the Commonwealth, does the Minister consider that the people of Australia should be subsidising insurance companies in this manner?
– I understand that Australian governments have not to date taken active steps to ensure that doctors prescribing for patients who are entitled to workers compensation or third party insurance cover write such prescriptions on other than national health prescription forms. I think the vast majority of doctors is using these forms. Therefore, in effect, federal funds are subsidising the cost of treatment under these insurance provisions. I can recall only one previous allusion to this matter. It was by Mr Crawford McKellar, an illustrious orthopaedic surgeon under whom I had the honour to serve for a few months in the Royal South Sydney Hospital, which is in your electorate, Mr Speaker. He has persistently claimed, if I remember correctly, that this practice ought to be discontinued, but I do not think many doctors have taken notice of him. In view of the imminent introduction of a scheme of national health insurance which will incorporate third party and workers compensation insurance as national responsibilities, I think this question will resolve itself in the course of negotiations between the Department of Social Security and the insurance bodies concerned.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the proposed referendum in relation to the changing of the national anthem. Has the Prime Minister or his Government decided whether the present anthem will be included in the referendum? If not, why not? Is the Prime Minister aware that there are many millions of true Australians who do not approve the suggested songs that have been announced?
– I am precluded by Standing Orders from answering the question since a question on these lines has been put on notice by one of the honourable gentleman’s colleagues.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Northern Development. I refer the Minister to reports of contracts for large sales of sugar to China. When will the Minister be in a position to announce details of these sales of sugar to China?
– The Chinese Government has agreed to purchase very large quantities of sugar from Australia within the provisions of a long term sugar agreement with Australia. The quantities involved will be in the vicinity-
– For how many years is the agreement?
– If the honourable member will listen, I will tell him. The quantities involved will be in the vicinity of 300,000 tons of sugar a year. This amount will be flexible and will depend upon the ability of the Australian sugar industry to supply the quantities of sugar required. For the initial period, the agreement will be of 3 years to 5 years duration, commencing as tentatively agreed on 1 January 1975. I informed the Chinese that because the 1973 crop now being harvested was tightly committed, particularly because of the suspension next year of the economic provisions in the current International Sugar Agreement and also because of the problem of bulk handling facilities in China, it would not be possible for Australia to commence any agreement involving such huge amounts of sugar until 1975. The details of the agreement will be the subject of further discussions between the Australian sugar industry and the Chinese National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation and the Governments of China and Australia. In effect, this means that the actual details of the agreement will be arrived at in the normal commercial way in which Australia and the Chinese Corporation conduct their international dealings in sugar. The agreement by China to purchase these very large quantities of Australian sugar each year, on a long term basis, is the culmination of continued discussions with China initiated by myself during the Prime Minister’s visit to China as Leader of the Opposition in July 1971 and subsequently carried on, as well as detailed discussions with China by the Australian sugar industry, through the CSR Company. The decision of the Chinese Government to purchase on a long term basis such large quantities of sugar is a magnificent achievement for Australia.
– All you have done is to break the International Sugar Agreement.
– Above all, because of the tight organisation of sugar production in Australia the industry must have security of markets. Although in recent years the industry has expanded, it is now in a very vulnerable position, quite different from what it was when practically all the industry’s sugar was produced for the home market and the United Kingdom market. Today, 80 per cent of the total production of sugar is for the export market and after the end of next year almost 90 per cent of exports will have to be sold on the free world market. Therefore, the agreement with China will be of tremendous importance to the Australian sugar industry.
– I rise to order.
-Order! I ask the Minister to be brief. Too much advantage is being taken of question time to make statements that should be made later.
– I will deal with the interjection of the Leader of the Australian Country Party. Everybody in the sugar industry has hailed this as a magnificent achievement. The exception is the Leader of the Australian Country Party, who attempted yesterday to throw cold water on it. He reminds me of the childish petulant little spoilt brat who has lost his toffee apple. He showed this earlier this year when he started his tirade. He could not get the room that he wanted and forced the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to move to the toilet for a room.
-Order! I have just asked the Minister to be as brief as possible in his answer to the question. He is getting right away from my appeal about his remarks. I ask him to terminate his answer.
– I will terminate my answer with these remarks because they are relevant to the question.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Minister has quite clearly shown by his last remarks that he is defying your ruling completely and utterly.
-Order! I have pointed out, as did my predecessors over many years, that I have no right to sit a Minister down for the way in which he answers a question. I can only ask a Minister to be as brief as possible. That is the only appeal I can make to him.
– I rise to order. In view of your ruling, Mr Speaker, is it right for a Minister of the Crown to carry on like an emotional schoolboy?
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The trouble with members of the Country Party is that they cannot take it. What I am saying is relevant to the question. The Leader of the Country Party yesterday accused me and other negotiators of failing to secure a new international sugar agreement.
– That is right.
– We failed, but so too did 90 other countries and the top negotiators in the world. He accused not only me but also the other negotiators who include the Premier for Queensland, the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries and more importantly-
– I raise a point of order. I respectfully again draw to your attention, Mr Speaker, the fact that this is a flagrant breach of parliamentary practice in this House.
– I ask the Minister for the last time to terminate the answer to the question.
– And more importantly, the leaders of the Australian sugar industry itself were criticised by the Leader of the Country Party. They have treated the remarks of the Leader of the Country Party with the utter contempt that he deserves.
– Recently the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) referred to the non-observance by honourable members of the practice of the House of not allowing the reading of newspapers in the chamber. I am obliged to the honourable member for referring this matter to me.
It is quite true that it has long been the practice of the House to disallow the reading of newspapers in the chamber and a number of my predecessors have ruled to this effect. The practice is based on that of the House of Commons, but of course it must be observed with some limitations. It is in order for a member to refer to books or newspapers when actually connected with his speech, but members ought not to be read for amusement or for business unconnected with the debate. That applies, of course, to the track gallops this afternoon. I do not wish to call the attention of individual honourable members to this breach of the practice of the House. I think that they might co-operate by using the
Library for the reading of newspapers, thus relieving me of the necessity to call their attention individually to this matter.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the Prices Justification Tribunal on the price increases proposed by Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd and its wholly owned subsidiary Cellulose Australia Ltd. I present also the letter to me from Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd stating that the 2 companies will increase the domestic selling prices of their paper and paper board products by an overall weighted average of 6 per cent, in conformity with the findings of the Prices Justification Tribunal. Copies of the Tribunal’s report and particulars of the companies’ reply have already been circulated to honourable members. A limited number of copies of the revised price lists have been received and these are available to honourable members in the Parliamentary Library.
Mr BARNARD (Bass - Minister for Defence, Minister for the Navy, Minister for the Army and Minister for Air)- Pursuant to section 147 of the Defence Act 1903-1970, 1 present the annual report on the Royal Military College of Australia for the period 1 February 1972 to 31 January 1973.
– Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Funds Act 1947-1950, I present the twenty-fifth annual report of the trustees of the Services Canteens Trust Fund for the year ended 31 December 1972, together with the report of the Auditor-General on the books and accounts of the Fund as required by section 35 of the Act.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) who, at question time this morning, took the opportunity to hurl a good deal of abuse at me. All I say is: If he wants to misinterpret what I said, why does he not be a man, stand up in this House and be as big as he thinks he is by making a statement to the House on the International Sugar Agreement and also the sale of sugar to China, so that we can debate those matters?
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been grossly misrepresented. A statement of the words used in a press statement by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) is in my hands. It is just bad luck for him; I am going to read them out. He stated:
The proposed sugar sales to China following sub’stantial sales in the last 2 years are very welcome particularly after the failure of Dr Patterson and other negotiators in Geneva to secure a continuation of the International Sugar Agreement.
– That is right.
– It was not only my failure but also the failure of the Queensland Premier and the Queensland Minister for Primary industries and the leaders of the sugar industry. This is a contemptuous insult-
– I am explaining it.
– Order! The Minister has claimed that he has been misrepresented. He is entitled only to state in what part he has been misrepresented. He shall not debate the question.
– It is a contemptuous insult to the leaders of the sugar industry who were negotiators also.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), in answering a question this morning, suggested that those who had said that the increase in expenditure on education by the Government was not as large as the Government had claimed - he included me amongst those persons - were putting the view that there was a complete balancing between the Government’s additional expenditure and the sums that had been taken from State financial reimbursement grants. The Minister, by implication, suggested that we were claiming therefore, that there had been no increase in expenditure on education. That, of course, is not true. All we had claimed was that the cost of the Government assuming responsibility for all tertiary education - that cost was nearly $150m-
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The honourable gentleman has shown no place where he has been personally misrepresented. He is using this personal explanation merely aa a device to debate the answer to a question.
-Order! The honourable member for Wannon did state that he was one of those people who were actually mentioned in regard to what had been stated. I think that the honourable member for Wannon is in order.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The honourable member used the words ‘by implication’. That is the terminology he used. Mr Speaker, I ask you for a ruling. If a Minister makes a statement which an honourable member feels misrepresents him by implication may he then make a personal explanation?
-Order! I think the Minister for Education is waiting to make a personal explanation in regard to this matter. The honourable member for Wannon is in order.
- Mr Speaker, I was trying to say, before the Government used its usual tactics of trying to prevent the Opposition from speaking, that the Opposition had claimed that that sum which the Government had taken of the financial reimbursement grants to the States was equivalent to the additional cost incurred by the Commonwealth in financing tertiary education. I think the figure used was about SI 50m. The Minister this morning confirmed that it was $144m. But the point made is that the Minister ought now to apologise to the House for misleading the House in claiming earlier that the Government’s education expenditure had increased by 92 per cent when this morning he admitted that it had increased by only 47 per cent.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is debating the question.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. I did not make a statement this morning that the Commonwealth Government’s expenditure on education increased by 47 per cent. I said that if one took out the State component what remains of the Commonwealth component of tertiary education, not all education, increased by 47 per cent. I was asked a question about the relationship of the reduction of State grants to increased Commonwealth expenditure, and I repeat the facts: In the last financial year Commonwealth expenditure on tertiary education was$1 66m. In this financial year it will be $388m. That is an increase of $222m. The States general grants have been reduced by over $lllm and their loan funds by over $32m, making $144m in all. The increase in federal expendture is $222m, which is $7 8m more than the reduction of State grants and loans.
– I merely say that you cannot call the increase in Commonwealth expenditure a self-balancing item.
– Of course it is.
– If the honourable member were correct about its being reduced by inflation the States would also have had to meet the inflationary cost had they stayed in.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Aboriginal Affairs (Arrangements with the States) 1973.
Banking Bill 1973.
Commonwealth Banks Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Reserve Bank Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea (Transfer of Banking Business) Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Papua New Guinea (Application of Laws) Bill 1973.
Wireless Telegraphy Bill 1973.
Meteorology Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea Loans Guarantee Bill 1973.
Report on Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park
– On behalf of the Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation I bring up the report on Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Report on Ayers RockMount Olga National Park that I have just tabled is the first from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation. The establishment of the Standing Committee on 31 May of this year, resulted from a recommendation of a previous Select Committee of this House dealing with Wildlife Conservation. I and a number of other members of the new Committee had the privilege of serving on that Committee. The subject matter of this report results from a letter to the Committee from the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) on 31 May suggesting a range of matters for possible Committee inquiry. Included was:
In national parks, the conflict between their management as conservation areas and fauna reserves, and their use for tourist purposes. The Committee might look into areas of such conflict as the present situation in the Ayres Rock-Mount Olga National Park and the Great Barrier Reef, in order to suggest management guidelines for the development of adequate tourist facilities whilst maintaining their quality as conservation areas and wildlife reserves.
The inquiry was initiated with the hope that guiding principles could be established which would have application in other national parks. In fact, however, the inquiry revealed that the circumstances existing at Ayers Rock are in so many respects unique that most conclusions relate specifically to that Park. During the inquiry the Committee held public hearings in Canberra and travelled to Ayers Rock and Alice Springs for inspections and informal discussions. A sub-committee also travelled to Mimili, Ernabella and Docker River and held discussions with Aboriginal elders. The Committee is concerned at the length of time the matter has been discussed, the cost and the number of reports which have been produced on various aspects of Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park development, and is concerned that immediate action should be taken to initiate measures to protect the environment and improve the appearance of the Park while making adequate provision for tourism and for meaningful Aboriginal involvement at every level.
The Committee, to add weight and impact to its report, has had prepared for it a draft management plan for Ayers Rock-Mount Olga in the future. The plan was drawn up by Professor J. D. Ovington, Head of the Department of Forestry, Australian National University, at the Committee’s request, and embodies many of the Committee’s aims as outlined in the report. The rapid rise of tourists to the Park, the fragile nature of the arid environment and the present management practices adopted have all led to great pressures on the area. In addition the traditional association with, and access to, Ayers Rock of involved elements of the Pitjantjatjara people has effectively been denied. The Committee saw its role as being to accommodate these competing roles in such a way that all interested elements would be reasonably provided for and the environment would suffer minimal damage.
The Committee has concluded that a comprehensive plan of management giving effect to these aims should be implemented and implemented rapidly. Considerations such as the outcome of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission should not prevent the acceptance of the principles it lays down and should operate irrespective of who the administering body may be. As a result of the multiplicity of roles that Ayers Rock-Mount Olga should play, the Committee has also concluded that a more appropriate term to apply to it is that of national heritage area. The Committee hopes that such an area will be defined in such a way as to emphasise its difference from a national park or Aboriginal reserve, as is at present accepted. In relation to management, the Committee advocates overall control of administration of the area under the soon to be created National Parks and Wildlife Commission. Actual administration should be carried out by a better funded and more professionally staffed Northern Territory Reserves Board, with important day to day management under the control of a board of management with substantial Aboriginal representation.
The proposed Ayers Rock-Mount Olga national heritage area should be one with which all Australians can identify, that overseas visitors will be attracted to and in which Aboriginal communities with an historical association with Ayers Rock can continue to carry out traditional rites as well as to participate in management of the area as a whole. The Committee has also concluded that traditionally too much emphasis has been given to encouraging tourist convenience and access to
Ayers Rock without regard to the effect of this attitude on the environment and the aesthetic value of the area. In many ways the committee believes that if people are restricted from easy access to the area, the experience associated with visiting Ayers Rock will be enhanced.
Included in the Committee’s recommendations are: That a comprehensive management plan for the Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park be implemented as soon as possible; that the Park be zoned for management purposes; that the existing village and airstrip be resited outside the present National Park boundaries; that roads be sited in the interests of minimising environmental damage, rather than maximising tourist convenience; that meaningful opportunity be provided for Aboriginal involvement at all levels; that visitor numbers be restricted to the carrying capacity of the Park; that all existing concession holders at Ayers Rock be compensated and given priority in allocation of land at a new village site; that interpretation of cultural, historical and scientific features take- place; that the Park be adequately and professionally staffed and financed; that measures for restoration of areas which have been environmentally damaged be adopted; that the Park boundaries be extended on the basis of ecological requirements; that the Park be declared as a ‘national heritage area’.
In presenting this first report I would like to thank those witnesses and other persons who advised the Committee with regard to this problem. I think that some mention must be made of the assistance of Professor Ovington who prepared a draft management plan. I would like to thank the Secretary of the Committee, Mr Richmond, and the Committee staff for the enthusiasm and involvement which they showed with the numerous problems that appeared before this Committee. I commend the help of the Committee members themselves. This Committee has had this inquiry amongst a number of inquiries. A number of those inquiries have been of a highly controversial nature. Not one of the members of the Committee has sought to enter the controversy. They accept that their responsible position as members of the Committee is to wait until the evidence has been heard and then let their opinions be known through the report of the Committee. I commend them for taking that attitude and I commend this report to the House.
– Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thank the House and I will not detain it for long. I was most interested to hear the remarks of the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) in regard to the Aboriginal interest and involvement at Ayers Rock or as it is more properly called, Uluru. I have had an opportunity only in the last few minutes to see this report. Therefore, I am not in a position to say anything definite in regard to it. But I make the point - I think that this was implicit in what the honourable member for Scullin said - that the interests of the Aborigines in this area should be preserved at all costs. As far as I am aware - I speak after having talked to people who have some knowledge of the Ayers Rock situation - the significance of Ayers Rock itself to the Aborigines was very great, particularly to the western desert people, but is now much less important because of its desecration. But the areas around Ayers Rock, including some not very far from it, still retain their significance.
It is very difficult and it will be very difficult to reconcile the interest of tourism so-called with those of the Aboriginal involvement and the significance to the Aborigines of this area. I noted with interest that one of the witnesses mentioned in the report went by the name of Uluru which, of course, is the proper Aboriginal name that the Pitjantjatjara people used for Ayers Rock itself. I am afraid that there will be some conflict here. It may be that the Ayers Rock area itself which has become so well known and which is so much a focus of tourism may retain its significance not just for Aboriginal ceremonial purposes but also as an indication to all Australians of the significance that we other Australians attach to the Aboriginal heritage. As such, it is possible at Ayers Rock to combine the Aboriginal interest and the tourist interest. But I would stress that those sites which still retain their full significance for Aboriginal people should be maintained and retained for the Aboriginal people and that the tourist interest should come second. As I have said, I have not had a chance of reading the report in whole but I think that this is implicit in what the honourable member for Scullin said and, if so, I certainly would commend it. We may have gone too far in desecrating Ayers
Rock or parts of it ourselves. But the areas around the Olgas and some of the other areas, particularly to the south of Ayers Rock, should be preserved in the Aboriginal interests and those interests should override the interests of tourism. I thank the House for the opportunity to make this short statement.
Debate resumed from 21 August (vide page 166), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the House seeks approval for the proposal announced in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Crean), to abolish the exemption from sales tax applicable to non-alcoholic carbonated beverages containing not less than 5 per cent by volume of Australian fruit juice or its equivalent in concentrated form. In short, this is a measure designed to raise an additional $25m by withdrawing an existing indirect subsidy from Australian fruitgrowers. This Bill, of course, cannot be assessed in isolation. It is, in fact, a further setback for Australian primary producers by a Labor Government which has abolished concessions for land development and the acquisition of working plant; increased postal and telegraph rates; increased petrol tax; increased interest rates for rural borrowings; reduced concessions for water conservation and fodder storage; initiated moves to phase out the butter and cheese bounty and the processed milk products bounty and the tax provisions for wine makers’ trading stock; and foreshadowed the abolition of free milk for schools. This is not an exhaustive list but it serves to indicate the comprehensive range of measures undertaken by the present Labor Government which has had adverse effects on rural industries throughout this country.
The Bill provides a real opportunity for those members of the Government Party who allege a close interest in the fruitgrowing industry to indicate the strength of their convictions concerning the plight of fruitgrowers in the electorates and States they represent. I think particularly of Labor members representing the State of Tasmania because they will appreciate the serious consequences this Bill will have on the Tasmanian apple market and on the Tasmanian economy generally.
The magazine ‘Inside Canberra’ recently reported that the Minister for Primary Industry, Senator Wriedt, wanted the tax concession phased out over a number of years to allow the industry time to readjust, but the decision to abolish the tax outright was arbitrarily made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Treasurer after the Budget Cabinet meetings. This, therefore, is a very real opportunity for those Government members representing Tasmanian electorates - the honourable members for Bass (Mr Barnard), Denison (Mr Coates), Braddon (Mr Davies), Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and Franklin (Mr Sherry) - most of whom are not in the chamber while this important matter is being discussed.
The Opposition recognises that the present sales tax exemption is not the only nor necessarily the most efficient way of assisting fruit growers. However, this Bill will reduce demand in an already depressed industry. It has been introduced without adequate research into its implications and without clearly defined plans for compensation. This objection is incorporated in the proposed amendment to the Bill, which I will move during this debate. The Coombs* Committee, in recommending the removal of the exemption, stated:
There is little doubt that the withdrawal of the exemption would have a marked effect on the incomes of apple growers, especially in the face of current adverse market conditions for Australian apples in the Common Market countries. The effect on citrus growers is difficult to measure but it is likely that there would be some falling off in the demand for citrus juice.
From the Committee’s report it is estimated that the removal of the exemption will reduce the combined incomes of apple growers by $2.5m in the remainder of 1973-74, and approximately $3. 3m in the full year.
This Bill will have a series of clearly discernible deleterious consequences. Firstly, the removal of the exemption will dramatically reduce the demand for apple juice because soft drink manufacturers will have no real incentive to include apple juice as an ingredient in their products. Approximately 80 per cent of the apple juice processed in Australia is currently used in soft drinks. Following the removal of the exemption, this market will be virtually eradicated. Secondly, apples processed for juice are essentially of inferior quality, damaged or unpopular brands. If large quantities of poor quality fruit are added to an already depressed fresh fruit market, the consequent over-supply will cause a substantial reduction in prices, quite apart from the adverse effect that large quantities of lower quality fruit will have on the prices of better quality fruit.
At present about 15 to 20 per cent of the total Australian apple crop is processed for juice. It has been estimated that if only one quarter of these apples were to find their way onto the fresh domestic market, the average price would be lowered by 50c to $1 - an equivalent loss to growers of between $4m and $10m. This does not include the loss the growers would incur following the removal of the juicing market. The extent of losses to growers may be limited by the development of export markets for apple juice. However, apple juice destined for the Australian soft drink trade has limited marketability overseas because of its denatured content; that is, it is detasted and decoloured in preparation for its inclusion in soft drinks. The market for juicing apples is important in that it provides flexibility for the whole apple marketing system by being an outlet for damaged fruit.
Thirdly, about 45 per cent of juicing apples are grown in Tasmania and Western Australia. As their domestic markets are small, excess apples, which previously went into juicing, could not be absorbed by their local markets. If their products were released on the eastern Australian markets they would be comparatively disadvantaged by high freight costs and competition from local eastern States’ markets. Fourthly, the probable impact on the Tasmanian apple market is particularly severe as apple production represents about 10 per cent of the State’s gross rural production. Eighty per cent of Tasmania’s apple growers are concentrated in the south. This year Tasmanian apple growers produced 1.2 million bushels of apples used for squashing. The removal of the exemption could cause southern Tasmania’s market for squashing apples to be halved. As the growers receive about 50c per bushel for this inferior fruit, the fall in demand would represent a loss of $300,000 to this sector. I will be interested in hearing the views of the honourable member for Denison (Mr Coates) who is in the chamber. Apparently he is the only Tasmanian member interested in the substance of this debate.
Fifthly, generally there will be some loss of employment associated with processing plants and the cartage of apples to the plants. Sixthly, although this move is not considered as important to the growers as the effects of revaluation and the deterioration of export markets following Britain’s entry into the Common Market, it will seriously undermine grower confidence. Finally, the removal of the exemption will have an upward impact on costs, and the industry has already foreshadowed increases in wholesale prices of between 9.3 per cent and 26.7 per cent depending on the size of the container.
The Coombs committee report indicates that apple juice is the main juice incorporated into soft drinks for the purpose of gaining sales tax exemption. It is used in drinks such as ginger ale and cola which do not ordinarily contain fruit juice. It is also used in some citrus flavoured drinks, in conjunction with citrus flavourings, in the place of citrus juice. There will clearly be a fall off in demand for citrus juice because those drink manufacturers which formerly included 5 per cent fruit juice to qualify for the exemption will find it more profitable to use artificial flavouring and colouring. It has been estimated that 1,000 tons of lemons will become surplus in New South Wales. This represents approximately 7 per cent of lemon and lime production in that State, which produces almost 50 per cent of the lemons and limes grown in Australia. In total, it has been estimated that citrus growers will stand to lose $1.2m in addition to the $3. 3m loss to apple growers.
The important implication for the total fruit growing industry is that the system of marketing for fruit has developed around the dependence on a market for juice for use in the production of soft drink. The removal of the sales tax exemption will add further cost burdens to the existing market structure of the whole industry. The Government has asserted that the sales tax exemption represents a loss in revenue of $25m per annum and that the additional return to the grower represents only a small proportion of the cost of the exemption. The Coombs committee concluded that the present sales tax exemption is the wrong instrument for grower assistance. The committee suggested that a more rational approach would entail minimum income support for fruit growers in conjunction with appropriate industry reconstruction schemes. The Opposition believes that further extensive research should be undertaken before the removal of the existing exemption. A Bureau of Agricultural Economics journal published in January adverted to the wider economic implications in the following terms:
The prospective’ contraction of the export apple and pear industry also has implications which extend beyond the industry itself. In some regions, and particularly in areas south of Hobart, a substantial reduction in apple growing could lead to severe local unemployment problems, and eventually to the migration of people from these regions-. People who emigrate to urban areas will generally add to urban congestion and require the provision of increased social infrastructure. The marginal social costs of community services used by people moving to ‘congested’ areas may exceed costs of their remaining in depressed’ areas. However, in the short run, prices paid for these services may not reflect full marginal social costs, while in ‘congested’ areas they may not cover these costs. To the extent that this occurs it may be economically eflicient for Government to subsidise location of industry in depressed regions. It is thus conceivable that if an alternative industry, primary or secondary, were to commence operation in ‘depressed’ regions, savings in social costs may bc achieved.
We believe that the Government, by adopting a very superficial approach to this matter without adequate consultation and without adequate research into all the factors involved, has overlooked the following factors: The provision of funds for the promotion of export markets outside Common Market countries; the provision of funds for research into alternative uses for apple juice; the purchase of stocks of apple juice destined for the soft drink trade; short term assistance to growers to provide a breathing space until reconstruction of the industry affected can be brought about; relocation of shares of the domestic market by quotas; subsidy on freight for the different regions to assist growers in areas such as Western Australia and Tasmania and provide them with access to larger domestic markets; the development of processing outlets to expand the market for apples; assistance with the improvement in farm productivity such as through the adoption of high density planting in orchards; assistance with savings in shipping and handling costs to make export markets a profitable alternative for growers; and as suggested in the Coombs committee report, minimum income’ support and appropriate industry reconstruction schemes.
Because the Government has clearly failed adequately to assess the complete effects of this legislation we on this side of the House will seek to amend it. Later I shall move:
That all the words after ‘that’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘the House is of opinion that action to implement the provisions of the Bill should be deferred until the Government reports to the House on the action it proposes to take on:
currency revaluation compensation for the sectors of the fruit growing industry affected by the withdrawal of the exemption
compensation for unsaleable fruit juice derivatives on hand and the losses due to assets becoming redundant as a result of the Government’s decision, and
assistance for promotion and research into alternative markets for juices’.
If action on the removal of the exemption is postponed, the Government will be able to research more thoroughly the effects on growers of the removal of the exemption. It will be in the best interests of growers and the industry generally to ensure that adequate compensation is made available for the loss of a strongly expanding market. It will also provide an opportunity to investigate the generally depressed state of the apple and pear growing industry and to make provisions for the growers who must inevitably be forced out of the industry with the contraction in supply caused by the declining profitability of traditional overseas markets.
We understand that representations from various areas of the fruit growing industry have been made to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt). He has responded with vague references to the provision of funds for reconstruction where necessary. Those responses, by letter from the Minister to the persons making representations, are no more definitive and no more satisfactory than the vagueness of the comments which the Treasurer (Mr Crean) put down in his second reading speech. I say on behalf of the Opposition that we do not regard this, or accept it, as a satisfactory response to the needs of an industry which is under attack in part not simply because of the cost pressures under which it is operating throughout Australia, but also because of the particular impact which this measure will have and will make upon it. The Minister for Primary Industry seems to have deserted the industry. In his responses to these representations he has thrown the onus on to the growers by telling them that it is up to them to make claims on his Department. We find this an intolerable situation. It is a completely unsatisfactory reflection of what ought to be a responsible position taken by a Minister of the Crown. If the Government had undertaken its research in a proper and responsible fashion it would not need to be notified of the areas which would be affected by the measures it has taken, and it would know just what funds were required for reconstruction or other schemes of assistance or compensation. I again charge the Labor members in this House to stand up and be counted. I see that the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) has been joined by another solitary colleague. There are now two of them.
– I apologise to the honourable member. I overlooked him before. I trust that we will hear from them a vigorous denunciation of a proposition which they know in their heart of hearts to be so contrary to the interests of an important section of their electorates. It would also be interesting if they were prepared to tell this House whether the proposal which is before the House was totally opposed by the rural industry section of the ALP Caucus. We hear on the best authority - I ask the honourable gentlemen on the other side to deny these comments - that this measure was most divisive in debate. You, Mr Speaker, will remember the debates which took place in the Party room on that occasion and the desultory results which have flowed from them.
The effects of abolishing this exemption could have far-reaching consequences on the social and economic structure of whole districts. It is one example of a case which I believe could, in the future, be referred to the proposed Industries Assistance Commission. For a rural industry to obtain public assistance it needs the imprimatur of impartial scrutiny. But recent actions of this Government, which has withdrawn one form of support after another without any real investigation of the implication, emphasise that rural industries also need the safeguard provided by a body such as the Industries Assistance Commission as a protection against decisions reflecting prejudices of an anti-rural Government. We recognise, however, that it will take a little time for the Commission to gear itself to undertake references of this type. I propose therefore to move the amendment that has been circulated in my name. The Opposition does not move this amendment lightly. We do not seek to score political marks from this debate. We believe the step we have taken in supporting the concept of deferral until adequate research and examination has been carried out is the least that this Government ought to be prepared to take. Deferral would be in the interests of the industry, which is suffering from serious problems resulting from cost pressures; problems which will be considerably compounded and exacerbated by the action the Government now proposes. I now move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House is of the opinion that action to implement the provisions of the Bill should be deferred until the Government reports to the House on the action it proposes to take on:
currency revaluation compensation for the sectors of the fruit growing industry affected by the withdrawal of the exemption;
compensation for unsaleable fruit juice derivatives on hand and the losses due to assets becoming redundant as a result of the Government’s decision, and
assistance for promotion and research into alternative markets for juices’.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later in the debate.
– This Bill seeks to amend the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act to abolish the exemption from sales tax of non-alcoholic carbonated beverages containing less than 5 per cent Australian fruit juice. It thus corrects one of the examples of long standing policies which are no longer justified. As I mentioned in my speech in the Budget debate, this Government believes that anomalies and hidden subsidies are not the ways in which to go about running the country. The Government does not shy away from decisions which are correct but which perhaps could make it unpopular. As I said when I made that speech, I believe this decision to be a correct one.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) has moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill which will have the effect of deferring the implementation of its provisions. But it strikes me that he is not so worried about fruit growers in Tasmania or in any other State as about his friends in the big carbonated beverage companies. Paragraph (b) of his amendment refers to the need for compensation for unsaleable fruit juice derivatives on hand and the losses due .to assets becoming redundant as a result of the Government’s decision. Let us be clear that in this year we are not talking about fruit juice; we are talking about adulterated fruit juice - fruit juice from which the flavour has been taken, from which the colour has been taken, and which is virtually just sugar and water.
– The good has been taken out of it.
– All the good in it has beer taken out, as the Minister says. The growers have received their payments for this year’s crop, and we are now talking about juice on hand which has already been adulterated. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition listed many measures which have been taken by the Government and which he said demonstrated the comprehensive range of measures with which we have attacked rural industries. But this amendment is another example of the ways in which the previous Government tried to ensure that rural industries were kept under its thumb. It shackled them. It did not give them any incentive to do better, if that were possible. It amazes me that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition can still try to support this exemption. At least he did acknowledge parenthetically that sales tax exemption was not necessarily the best or the most efficient way of giving assistance to fruit growers. In fact, it is a completely back door way - a way that is not visible to the public.
This exemption was introduced about 40 years ago, in 1932, and it was extended in 1957 to cover non-alcoholic carbonated beverages containing not less than 5 per cent of Australian fruit juice. What contribution does 5 per cent of deflavoured, decoloured fruit juice make to non-alcoholic carbonated beverages? The manufacturers of such beverages claim that in fact it is deleterious to their products. But, of course, they use it because it means that no sales tax has to be paid on their products. This is the main point. The exemption costs $25m a year; yet only a fraction of that money went to the fruit growers - the people whom the exemption ostensibly was to help. The money went into the pockets of the manufacturers of carbonated drinks.
– They received $20m.
– Yes. Some members of the Country Party, I think, on earlier occasions have referred to this measure as taking the lollywater out of the mouths of children. If they want to suggest that Coca-Cola or products of a like nature are good for children, then I just cannot agree with them. What I would like to see the children of Australia drinking is pure apple juice.
– What do you propose to do about it?
– What the Opposition did about it when it was in government was to prevent apple growers and processors from having any incentive to look for other markets which would have meant that Tasmanian apples of high quality could have been used to produce pure fruit juice. There is no reason in the world why, with proper promotion and marketing, pure fruit juice could not become as popular throughout this country and other countries as has, for instance, pineapple juice. The point is that there has been no incentive because it has been so easy to provide the processed, treated fruit juice to the carbonated beverage manufacturer for them to use in their products. One example of the lack of previous promotion of pure apple juice is the fact that we cannot even obtain it in the Parliamentary Dining Room. I would have thought that pure apple juice could have been made popular by promotion. However, it is not made available because in the past there has not been any incentive to make it available.
– It is available now but nobody drinks it, and you know it.
– That is not true, and you know it.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The honourable members who are interjecting will shortly have an opporunity to speak.
– There has been no reason for any promotion. I mentioned pineapple juice as an example of a product that is promoted quite heavily. Apple juice has to be sold. We have to try to sell it. The point I should like to make at this stage is that the situation is not as bad as might have been thought -or as it would seem to be from the response that came from the grower and processor organisations. I acknowledge that in the short term this measure probably will take some income from growers and processors. I do not think we can have any sympathy at all for the carbonated beverage manufacturers. They have made a nice pile out of this exemption over the years. The only thing that is wasted is this year’s supply of treated juice, which is of no use to anybody. It is an absolute prostitution of good Tasmanian apple juice to treat it in that way. This decision will mean that there will not be an immediate outlet for the quantity of about 600,000 bushels of juice apples from Tasmania that would otherwise have been turned into water and sugar and put into Coco-Cola and other such drinks. At 50c a bushel that represents a loss of $300,000 to the Tasmanian apple growers. That is important. I do not like members of the Opposition accusing people like me pf not being concerned about that. I also have the processors in my electorate. The growers themselves are more the concern of the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry).
Let us put the matter into perspective. Since this decision was announced it has become clear that a new factory to produce pure fruit juice for export to the United Kingdom is to expand its operations. Earlier in the year it decided to take 250,000 bushels to fill a quite strong demand from the United Kingdom for pure apple juice. That initial 250,000 bushels is separate from the 600,000 bushels shortfall which would otherwise have been treated. I understand that the factory now intends to take a further 250,000 bushels - a total of 500,000 bushels. That is nearly half of the surplus that would otherwise have existed. That is what has happened with just one factory. Other orders and inquiries have been coming in. I certainly hope that the surplus of juice apples will be used up. There are other prospects in this respect. A Press statement issued only a week ago concerning talks in Japan between the Japanese Minister for Agriculture, Mr Sakurauchi. and the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) stated:
The Japanese Minister for Agriculture, Mr Sakurauchi. agreed yesterday to consider the possibility of importation of Australian apples into Japan from regions free of disease. To date, all Australian apples have been excluded because of the existence of disease in some fruit growing areas.
The statement also stated:
Senator Wriedt discussed the apple situation at length with Mr Sakurauchi, pointing out that while he understood Japanese concern about quarantine, consideration should be given to declaring whole States or regions within a State, free of fruit disease and therefore a source of apple imports.
The same situation can apply to apple juice imports. Some of the representations I have received on this matter have referred to the fact that the Government must not withdraw the sales tax exemption and that we should keep the status quo because it provides a strong incentive for soft drink manufacturers to continue to use Australian fruit juices. What is meant by that is that it will provide a strong incentive for soft drink manufacturers to continue to use these prostituted fruit juices. They cannot use the pure fruit juice in their products. They have to take all the goodness out of it, otherwise the drinks they sell will be affected. The Opposition wants to keep these long standing policies just for the sake of keeping them. The Government believes that the fact that policies have been in existence for a long time is no justification for continuing them indefinitely. I think we have to look at every policy already in existence and say to ourselves: ‘If it were not already in existence would we introduce it this year?’
If the previous Government had still been in office it may be that the Australian Country Party would have insisted that its coalition partner continue the exemption this year, but I doubt whether it would have done so.
– We would have done something to assist.
– And we are doing something. As the Treasurer (Mr Crean) said, money will be available for reconstruction of the apple industry if this decision has any effect on it. I have just shown that there will be much less effect on it than the Opposition is trying to make out because apparently almost half of the surplus is already going to be taken up. If there were a little more promotion and drinking of apple juice by honourable members opposite there would not be as much effect on the industry as they are trying to make out. Really, the former exemption was no different from the Government buying the apple juice and dumping it in the ocean. In fact, it would have been cheaper for the community if the Government had done that because I remind honourable members that the community was paying S25m a year in order to provide a small sum to apple growers. That is what the previous Government could have done. It could have let the processors process the apples into juice and then put the juice into the ocean. However, what I am saying is that use of the juice for its own high qualities should be encouraged by promotion and not by the back door method of giving assistance under a sales tax exemption. I believe that it was an insult by past governments to apple growers and other primary producers to give assistance in this way. If such industries need assistance, as they often do, it should be given openly and reviewed frequently. It should not be given by this back door method. I support the Bill.
– I rise today to speak on this Bill which, once again, involves an issue of serious consequence to the fruit industry of this country, and to support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). Before I get too far into this debate, I think it is only right that I should comment on one or two points made in the speech of the honourable member for Denison (Mr Coates) who I thought did as well as he possibly could, considering he had no case to support either in his State or the apple industry in that State. Firstly, by interjection, I said that apple juice is available. The honourable member for Denison said that apple juice was not available.
– Not generally, no.
– Mr 3 per cent at the table, the Minister for Immigration, says that it was not available. It is available today at every store one cares to go into. The only point I am making is that it is quite obvious that apple juice is not as palatable to Australian people as is orange juice, apricot juice, pineapple juice, mixed juices and a wide variety of other juices.
The honourable member for Denison was on much safer ground when he talked of promoting the use of apple juice in other forms, apart from cider. In my electorate a very small backyard firm, which is frantically seeking capital to stay in business and to swell its managerial efficiency and what have you, is now producing a carbonated form of apple juice which I believe has very great possibilities in the future. But let us not run away from it. Anyone who stands in this place and says that the future of the apple industry must evolve around whether or not apple juice is saleable to the Australian public frankly needs his head read. I have already congratulated the honourable member for Denison on the effort that he made, given a very poor brief in the first place. Furthermore, I felt that the honourable member for Denison in answering an interjection from one of my colleagues on this side more or less committed himself to support the amendment moved by the Opposition on this occasion. I will not delay the House by rereading the whole amendment but, as the House by now knows, the Opposition’s amendment seeks to defer the effect of this Bill until the Government acts, firstly, on currency revaluation compensation for the sectors of the fruit growing industry affected by the withdrawal of the exemption; secondly, on compensation for unsaleable fruit juice derivatives on hand and the losses due to assets becoming redundant; and, thirdly, on assistance for promotion and research into alternative markets for juices. I feel quite certain that the honourable member for Denison has already spoken very much in favour of the third part of the amendment. So, we will look forward later to a demonstration of his sincere desire to help the industry in his State and throughout the nation; we will be watching very carefully the way he votes on this matter.
This Bill aims to remove the sales tax exemption on non-alcoholic carbonated beverages - I intend to refer to them by the more usual phrase ‘soft drinks’ from here on - containing 5 per cent or more of Australian fruit juice. I will touch on this matter later because the action by the Government does not encourage the use of Australian fruit juice but might encourage the use of overseas concentrates and this would be contrary to all of its blithe words in regard to other matters that have been debated in this House lately. The concept of a sales tax was introduced not by us but by the Labor Government in 1946 and it has been denied by this Government in 1973. The itemised matter under debate today was introduced by the previous Government in 1957. I would like honourable members, if they can spare a moment, to have a look at what the Coombs Report had to say about this matter - the report that has been so denigrated by its lack of its success in a wide variety of fields. Look at what happened to the recommendation that the Government was stupid enough to take on board in relation to Dartmouth dam and the proposed deletion of expenditure as it affects my own State of South Australia. Look at what happened to the suggestion in the report in relation to posts and telegraph charges; look at what happened in relation to a wide variety of other matters. This Government must be starting to wish that it had never heard of the Coombs Report because it is so wide of the mark in so many different fields where it has tried to save the Government money to make up for its rash expenditure which has got it in complete disfavour throughout this nation today.
I will leave aside the argument whether we have 3 per cent interest on $500m in regard to loans for primary producers. I will let the Minister squeak his little answer on another occasion because he knows very well that he was guilty of the biggest display of malpractice and of putting a fact to the Australian people which I doubt he had any intention of honouring. If you did, where are you now that the interest rates are up to-
– On a point of order, the honourable member for Angas referred to malpractice, which of course is a criminal charge. I ask him to withdraw that word. I think he is irresponsible in using this word and also it is personally offensive. I ask for its withdrawal.
– I certainly withdraw the word malpractice’.
– I do not think that a point of order would be involved unless the Minister could substantiate the fact that the word ‘malpractice refers to him.
– I will certainly withdraw the word. I was hunting for the appropriate word, as the Minister knows. What I meant was a very serious case of misleading the Australian people. The Government has introduced this measure bearing in mind that Dr Coombs in his report had this to say:
There is little doubt that withdrawal of the exemption would have a marked effect on the income of apple growers, especially in the face of current adverse marketing conditions for Australian apples in the Common Market countries. The effect on citrus growers is difficult to measure but it is likely that there would be some falling off in the demand for citrus juice.
That is a triumph for understatement, particularly in relation to the citrus industry. But in spite of this advice handed on to the Government by Dr Coombs the Government has wilfully taken action which will be to the detriment of apple growers and probably to citrus growers as well. Certainly this decision affects apple growers. One can surround this argument with blithe words but if the people opposite who represent the apple industry do not join the Opposition and support the amendment which will be voted on shortly they will stand condemned and damned by their electorates and by the people involved in the apple industry throughout this country. There is no running away from this matter. This is the essence of what is under debate today.
I have to mention another small matter of some not light political significance in relation to this Bill. It is well known in the apple industry in my State that a member has contacted the industry saying that the entire Caucus Rural Committee unanimously is against the Bill. If need be, I suppose I can obtain some form of proof of this. I say again to the House that this statement came from a member of Parliament in my own State who is a member of the Labor Party. The statement is that the entire Labor Caucus Rural Committee is against this Bill being brought down. Its opposition is unanimous. We will expect a certain amount of help later on the floor of the House from those who are members of that Caucus committee when we divide the Parliament on this legislation. If that help is not forthcoming, some serious questions will be asked in a few electorates in Australia. I do not intend to name that member; I do not think that that would be fair tactics at all. But it is valid for this Opposition to bring that fact to bear at this important time on behalf of those whose incomes have been mentioned, even according to the modest comments of the Coombs report.
The effect on the industry of this action is assessed as being - I have found it most difficult to obtain any accurate figures in this respect- a cost of $3. 3m in a full year to apple growers.
– That is a conservative estimate, too.
– That is right. If we look at the average Australian apple crop - I am talking apples for the moment - which is 20 million tons a year, we find that 3 million to 4 million tons are used to produce apple juice. An intricate amount of arithmetic is not required to work out the direct equation in that respect. In addition, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) so well dealt with on this aspect, a substitution factor is involved. The question is as he posed it: What happens if a quarter of the poor quality apples or unpopular varieties of apples find their way onto the fresh fruit market? The industry has assessed - it is very hard for anybody else, I think, to assess this aspect - that between SOc and SI a case could well be the price depreciation on each case that growers will be required to bear in those circumstances.
I point out that 95 per cent of soft drinks produced in this country today contain Australian fruit juices. The only soft drinks which do not contain these juices are soda water and Indian tonic water. Of that proportion, 80 per cent so used is from the apple industry and the remaining 20 per cent is the result of fruit juicing from the citrus industry. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard 2 sets of figures. I have not shown these figures to the Minister for Immigration, who is at the table, but I have shown them to the Treasurer (Mr Crean) who has approved of their incorporation. These 2 sets of figures show, first, the amount of apples used for juicing in South Australia and, secondly, the Australian figures for the citrus industry in respect of fruit juices. In both cases the figures are estimates because no accurate figures are available officially on juice production. I can assure the Minister, to whom
I apologise for not showing him these figures, that the Treasurer has seen them and has approved of their incorporation.
Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
– I thank the House. I can draw only one conclusion from those figures. They aim to show very clearly on the one hand the growth rate of the use of apple juice and, on the other hand, the figures Australia-wide showing the increase for juicing purposes in the citrus industry. In the latter case-
– Who prepared those figures?
– They were prepared mainly by the industry. I have already admitted this. We could argue them. The Treasurer has accepted that they paint a reasonable picture of the state of the industry. The second table shows that now over one-half of the total production of navels and valencias in Australia is used for juicing. Of course, the matter we are debating today concerns only a portion of the juicing industry. The amount of navels and valencias used for juicing has gone up from 46,000 tons in 1966 to 160,000 tons in 1972. As the House will see, a real growth rate has been encouraged, and in fact is depedent upon action by the Government over a period of years. I expect that honourable members may well argue, because I think that is all they can do, that the encouragement that has been given is not the correct encouragement for the juice industry. Nevertheless the fact of life is that there has been a huge growth rate. If the principal cause of that growth rate is removed the Government is doing the growers very real harm.
– Twenty per cent of all apples are juiced.
– Twenty per cent of all apples are juiced - that is correct - and over 50 per cent of the citrus fruit crop is juiced. Taking into account that we are talking about only one portion of the entire juice industry when debating this Bill, let me mention some of the problems that will occur. Firstly, let us take what I regard as the finest citrus juicing factory in the nation, namely the factory operated by Berri Fruit Juices Co-operative Ltd in my area. The problem that factory faces is that if the production of fruit for juicing falls drastically the factory will have a lower output. It will be faced with the same overhead but it will have lessened economies of scale and lessened efficiency. I do not think it is stretching the imagination to the widest extent to say that these things are so. The factory and the Government has foisted a direct increase in price of other products of Berri Fruit Juices. This will be the general picture throughout the country.
Apart from the fact, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has already stated, that the Government has foisted a direct increase in the price of soft drinks on the community in general, the Government, by virtue of this measure, has hit at the processing industries in country areas. It has hit very severely at the companies, such as Berri Fruit Juices in my State, which have installed modern extraction plant and which depend for their existence on the intelligent help given to them by previous governments to encourage production and indeed consumption. They will not be satisfied with blithe words such as those spoken by the honourable member for Denison. This is a very real matter to them and it will remain a very real matter. The very basis of country towns in many areas is affected by this sort of action. Next week or the week after another government measure of this type will be before us. I refer to the 4-pronged attack by the Government on the wine and brandy industry. The Government has already increased the excise on petrol and has increased and equalised telephone charges - another Coombs report job. All over the countryside this Government has taken action to ensure that areas in the country that have been able to get off the ground with some economic expansion are hit. I will not say that they will cease to exist - ‘that might be a bit of exaggeration - but they must be hurt. This Bill is another example of this. Time will not allow me to deal with this matter further. All I say on behalf of the apple growers and citrus growers in my electorate is that I support the amendment moved by the Opposition. I hope that later in the day we will see it passed for the benefit of those people.
– The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) quoted a portion of the Coombs report to suit his own argument. Unfortunately most of us are inclined to do this, but that is dishonest. If I have ever done it then I think I too have been dishonest for not stating the facts fully. The Coombs report, quoted by the honourable member for Angas, states:
Thus by spending an amount equal to 4 per cent of the wholesale price on apple juice they save in sales tax an amount equal to IS per cent of the wholesale price.
That is the soft drink manufacturers. The report continues:
The amount that the apple grower would receive from juice processors for apples used in producing the juice would probably represent less than 2 per cent of the wholesale selling price of the drinks.
The honourable member for Angas quoted the following paragraph:
There is little doubt that withdrawal of the exemption would have a marked effect on the incomes of apple growers, especially in the face of current adverse market conditions for Australian apples in the Common Market countries. The effect on citrus growers is difficult to measure but it is likely that there would be some falling off in the demand for citrus juice.
The honourable member for Angas did not read the next paragraph which states:
Nevertheless, looked at purely as a form of assistance to apple and citrus growers, the exemption is rather an uneconomic form of subsidy. For example, it is extremely unlikely that (net) benefits flowing to the apple and citrus growers whose products find their way into . the beverages concerned would amount to anything like the $25 million per annum at which the cost to revenue is currently running. If so, this would suggest that the concession may be an inefficient substitute for more rational schemes of both ‘minimum income’ support for the fruit-growers concerned and for appropriate industry reconstruction schemes. A scheme of the latter kind is, of course, already in being in respect of the apple industry.
That fills out the story for and against the decision. I think the Coombs report is very sound in both ways. Of course there will be a detrimental effect on the industry with the cutting out of this particular assistance - a roundabout, back door assistance, as the honourable members for Denison (Mr Coates) aptly described it - whereby the growers are receiving about S5m a year. But it is costing revenue $25m a year to give the concession so that our soft drink manufacturers who are my boys - I support them 100 per cent - can use 5 per cent of this decoloured, deflavoured juice in their drinks.
I should like at this stage to summarise the effect of this decision on our industry in Tasmania so that we can get it in perspective. The process of decolouring and deflavouring apple juice was invented in Tasmania in 1959 by a German refugee Jew, Hans Jacob of Hobart. He developed a new process for using apple juice in soft drinks. The process involved removing the colour and the taste from apple juice. One wonders what is left after this process has taken place. If one had to drink the stuff which is put into the soft drink on its own, one would be sick for a week. The process involves costly and sophisticated machinery and equipment. As a result of Hans Jacob’s brilliant research and processing knowhow, there has grown up around the world a multi-million dollar industry. Until 1959 small, oversized and hail damaged apples had to be picked from the trees and destroyed or fed to pigs because there was no other outlet for them. The process developed by Hans Jacob has meant to apple growers million of dollars in income which, prior to 1959, they did not receive.
– Cider could be made out of it.
– Of course. Growers are receiving 50c a bushel for these culled apples. In Tasmania culled apples are worth $500,000 a year to our growers. One company alone, Port Huon Fruitgrowers Co-operative Association Ltd, uses 16,000 tons of these culled apples per year in making this sort of juice. As a result of the sales tax decision, one million bushels of apples will have to be dumped in Tasmania unless other uses can be found for them, lt will mean not only a loss of $500,000 to our growers but also that road transporters will lose about $125,000 in cartage fees and Hobart business houses will feel the effect of a reduction of spending power. Most of them are in the electorate of my colleague the honourable member for Denison. I am just putting the story before I start telling what has to happen to satisfy me on this decision. Smaller processors such as the Cygnet Canning Co. Ltd, L. H. Roberts and Son and E. W. Seabrook and Co., which supply juice to the big processors in Hobart such as Port Huon and W. D. Peacock and Co. Pty Lid will suffer a serious loss of income also. So will the Mersey Valley growers situated in the electorate of Braddon where my colleague represents them so ably. They have signed a contract to supply this sort of apples to Schweppes (Aust.) Ltd in Hobart. But the contract will now fall through.
The decolourised and deflavoured juice goes from Tasmania by ship to the mainland ports to serve giant processors such the the Golden Circle Cannery in Queensland, Tom Piper Ltd and Plaimar Ltd in South Australia and Western Australia. All those firms cancelled their orders as soon as the Budget decision was announced. The juice is transported from Tasmania in 45-gallon stainless steel drums to all these destinations. The Budget decision will mean that 20,000 tons of shipping space will be lost to Tasmania in one year. Another serious repercussion is that one of the processors has $600,000 worth of juice on hand which he cannot sell anywhere else. This juice, decolourised and deflavoured, is useless for anything but carbonated drinks. He has tried to sell some of it overseas. He sent cables after the decision was announced but he tells me that he has had very little success in getting rid of this surplus. Therefore, I feel that when we look at it in the broad picture the effect is quite serious, but it is not hopeless.
I want to mention now what happened in a debate on this matter on 23 August. I spoke on this subject on that night and was followed by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). Today I am following him instead. The honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) also spoke. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) was here on that night and listened to us. He made a very profound speech.
– He was moved.
– Yes, he was moved. He gave the reason why this benefit was removed. He said:
I think that once certain tax benefits are perverted by certain areas of industry we are entitled to take steps to correct the position.
He claimed that the manufacturers of soft drinks have been using ‘the situation for their own selfish, ends. Later in his speech he said:
We regarded the concession as a lurk which is being used not to the advantage of the fruit industry but to the advantage of these firms, many of which are of the multi-national variety.
The point is that the Treasurer felt that the firms were using Government assistance for purely selfish reasons. What are they going to do now that they are not using the fruit juice? What are they going to use in place thereof? Mr Giles - Artificial additives.
MrDUTHIE - Artificial additives and probably more water. Their drink of course will deteriorate. That night the Treasurer said that if the manufacturers used 10 per cent of fruit juice they would fall within the sales tax provisions. But the companies have not decided to do this. I sent out messages and copies of these speeches to various people and asked the industry organisations in Tasmania to get in touch with these big fellows on the mainland to ask them to use 10 per cent of fruit juice in their drinks so that they would get the benefit of the sales tax exemption. Nothing has been done. This proves that they do not want to help the industry. They are evidently a bunch of selfish manufacturers who were actually gaining from this exemption from sales tax and are not prepared to make any effort to help the industry in return. In his speech the Treasurer said:
I have indicated that I would prefer to give $5m directly to the fruit industry.
The manufacturers get $5m now by means of this back door method. The Treasurer said on that occasion that he would be prepared to provide $5m a year to this industry to help it through the difficulty which has resulted from the foreshadowed withdrawal of exemption from sales tax. That is the way in which we as a Government have to deal with this matter. The Labor Party’s Rural Committee has discussed it. We gave one night to discussion to it. We sent our recommendations to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt). We have suggested ways in which the sales of apple juice can be boosted throughout the country. We recommended that a grant be made available to make this possible, and that the Treasurer’s promise be carried out. The Treasurer was quite definite. During the course of his speech he was asked whether the figure would be $5m each year. He said in reply:
If the fruit industry can show that it has a detriment to that extent, yes, but I would be surprised that if it did not use a little more incentive it could not sell the product on its own merits.
That is the promise that was given. I feel that this is the place in which to deal with this matter. The Treasurer will have to be reminded of his promise. He will have to ask the industry to submit a documented case as to how the money could be spent most advantageously. The suggestions that I have made in that regard are, firstly, that the processors would have to be compensated for the stockpile of fruit juice on hand that cannot be used for anything else. If they do not receive some compensation for that fruit juice, how can they be expected to pay a reasonable price for cold apples, for fruit juice or for any other purpose? Secondly, the growers who are affected - there are not that many of them collectively - should be compensated, in this first year of the changes in the scheme, anyway, for the loss of income. In Tasmania this would involve only $500,000. If we made a compensation payment to each person on the basis of his sales last season - that would be the only way in which we could deal with the problem - that would be the most satisfactory means of assessing the amount of compensation. Then in the next 12 months we pould probably have to work out a more practical way in which to help them. But this would be a very important beginning, in my opinion. Since the Treasurer has made this promise, surely he would be prepared to carry it out. What is $5m, anyway, in a Budget of $ 13,000m which was brought down in this place a few months ago?
The industry in Tasmania, represented by the Apple and Pear Growers Federation, has presented a very good case to the Minister for Primary Industry, Senator Wriedt. It has pointed out the problems that will arise as a result of $5m being taken away from the growers, and it has proposed solutions to the problem. I have mentioned one solution already, namely, that the percentage of consumption of fruit juice should be lifted from 5 per cent to 10 per cent. In the case it has presented to the Minister the Apple and Pear Growers Federation stated:
It is imperative that existing stocks of juice be disposed of. Juice manufacturers could not be expected to carry ‘the loss of such stocks and still be in a position to pay growers a reasonable price for any juice apples next season.
In presenting its case the Federation also mentioned the possibility of the Federal Government providing funds for promotion and sales of fresh apple juice and products containing a high percentage of apple juice on the local market. This, of course, is a must, a matter of primary importance. Our Rural Committee would agree entirely with the submission from the Apple and Pear Growers Federation. We cannot just let this industry die. We just cannot do nothing about the situation after taking away a benefit that the people in the industry have received for 30 years - for far too long. I believe that the present position is uneconomical but nobody has been ever game to tackle this problem before. We just cannot leave the industry without assistance of any kind. Another suggestion made by the Federation is that the Federal Government provide funds for promotion and sales of apple juice on overseas markets. The Federation says that it is believed that export potential exists but that the necessity for very rapid expansion of this market would require substantial expenditure over a short period; it is not realistic to expect individual processors to risk such large sums of money. The Federal Government could help in the long-term by assisting in the establishment of overseas markets for processed apple juice. Another suggestion put by Mr R. E. Wolf, acting secretary of the Apple and Pear Growers Federation of Tasmania, is that the Federal Government should provide funds for research into alternative apple products from apples which formerly were used for juice. This would be more of a long-term project, but I can see no reason why the proposal should not be adopted.
I have illustrated a number of ways in which the industry can be assisted. I believe that it must be assisted because at present it is suffering from problems such as excessive shipping freight rates and the effects of revaluation. All in all, the future of the apple industry in Tasmania and also, probably, on the mainland is not very bright. The introduction of the apple and pear corporation in place of the Apple and Pear Board will, I think, help the industry overall, but it will take some time to see the effects from it. This is a move in the right direction, especially on the marketing side. It is my view that apple juice should be on the tables in the dining room of Parliament House in the same way as are currants and raisins, which the previous honourable member for Mallee succeeded in having placed on our tables. I have been pressing for a long time to have Tasmanian cider included on the list of our table drinks. This has not eventuated, despite the previous Speaker and the present Speaker both agreeing that apple cider should be available in the dining room. Apple juice should be available also. It is a delicious drink. I always have it in my refrigerator right through the summer period. We drink gallons and gallons of it. It is the most refreshing drink that I know of. One way in which we can help the fruit industry is to promote fruit juices as a drink. Pure apple juice is a fantastically healthy drink and is much to be preferred to the watered-down drinks that we know as soft drinks. Soft drinks are watered down considerably because in past years then have contained decolourised and deflavoured apple juice.
– Did you say that 10 per cent would avoid exemption?
– Yes. The Treasurer said this in his speech on 23 August. I feel that the apple industry throughout Australia should hold a conference with the big soft drink manufacturers and put this proposition to them. I feel there is a lot of common sense in the proposal. The growers would benefit from it immediately because they would receive virtually $7m to $8m instead of only $5m which they receive under the present set-up. I do not think the amendment is necessary. I think we can handle the situation without this sort of amendment. Our committee is looking into the position all the time and pressuring the Federal Minister. I hope that we can get to the Treasurer also in respect of his promise to provide $Sm a year to help out the industry.
– The speech by the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) was a very good speech in support of the amendment because he has acknowledged that the industry will be hurt by this abrupt measure. The point I make in relation to his speech is that he acknowledges and we acknowledge that the industry will be hurt. So far we have heard only vague proposals from the Government in respect of what it may do. The whole purpose of the amendment is to defer the implementation of provisions of this legislation so that an accurate study may be made of what will happen and what the Government will do to overcome the hurt that the industry will suffer. This is a very sensible and constructive amendment, and the need for it is proven by the inability of the rural committee of the Labor Party in Caucus to obtain from the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and the Government a factual and definite statement on what the Government will do to alleviate the problems it has created. Of all the sudden death measures introduced in the Budget which were selected from the Coombs Task Force report, this is the most abrupt. Coombs picked on a very nice selection of things and many of us would have picked on plenty of others from an anti-Government point of view.
One season has just ended, vast stocks of juice are on hand, another season is fast approaching and there is confusion in the industry because of the measures that have been adopted. Various honourable members have referred, evidently on good authority, to statements that this matter was never even considered by Cabinet, and that the rural committee of the Labor Party in Caucus was against it. The question now is this: How ineffectual are the rural members of the Labor Party, and in particular the rural Ministers in Cabinet? Are they considered to be so unimportant that they are not even consulted when a decision as abrupt and as important as this is made? Apparently they do not count within the Government or within the Labor Party, and the people they represent also do not count so there is no need to consider them. The way in which this measure was introduced reveals perhaps its true intent. It was a last minute attempt to gain more money to finance some of the lavish promises and proposals of the Government. Who was the money taken from to do this? It was taken from the rural industry and the rural people.
The collective effect of all these anti-rural measures which have been introduced will snowball particularly once the present world food shortage passes, and it will pass. Labor members should take note of this point about the present world food shortage because it has been caused principally by the failure of socialist agriculture in socialist and communist countries to produce food which is in any way adequate for their people and in any way comparable to the way in which it can be produced in Western nations. Russia is an example. So before my friends on the other side of the House consider too seriously the question of socialising our agriculture they should consider the effects that it will have on our production. Over a period of years the fruit industry has been told repeatedly that it has to diversify. With fresh fruit there are the problems of traditional markets, the European Economic Community tariffs, freight rates, revaluations which all act against the industry. The same is true of canned fruit. The industry has accepted the challenge. The fruit industry has diversified and millions of dollars have been or are to be spent on diversification, particularly in respect of juice because this is one of the viable ways of diversification.
One of the co-operative factories in my electorate, Ardmona Fruit Products Co-op. Co. Ltd, one of the major canners in Australia, recently spent over $2m on diversification in which juicing is an important part. It has done this to overcome the continual pear surplus and the repeated criticisms which are made in this House. The question is asked: ‘Can you not do anything else with a pear except can it?’ The industry has done this, but what has happened. The Government takes assistance from the industry and then says: ‘What you have to do is be a little more consumer orientated. You have to go out and get into the market place a little more’. If the industry tries to do something else, if that is possible, the same thing will happen again. Something will be done to ruin any legitimate and well worked out proposal. Because of this and so that we and the industry can be told what the Government intends to do, the amendment must be accepted.
– There may not be any need for Government assistance.
– If the honourable member was a little closer to the people in his electorate he would be told loud and clear that something has to be done. Something that has been introduced so abruptly and with no study of its implications is having a serious effect. For example, we have a proposal from the Federal Association of Soft Drink Supply Houses, the fruit juice processors-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The sitting is suspended until the ringing of the bells.
Sitting suspended from 1.30 to 2.55 p.m.
– Already from the industry there has been a submission from the federal association of the soft drink supply houses - that is, the processors, consisting mainly of co-operatives - and also the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association with definite proposals to the Government on ways to alleviate the difficulties ahead, but so far no replies have been received. So the industry does not know what is to be presented to it or what will happen. This is of tremendous importance because the stocks on hand at the moment are not completely committed. Some bottling concerns want the processor to export the product but if they do this they will suffer losses because of revaluation changes and because the fruit has been denatured and decoloured, etc.
There must also be considered the season which is rapidly coming up and in which the present problems will be aggravated because the European Economic Community will be increasing external tariffs on friut. Freight rates have been increased and there have been revaluation adjustments. The amendment moved by the Opposition would allow time for the industry to be told what will be provided for it. One of the proposals is that export assistance should be provided so that these markets can be developed over a period of time. The Government should also consider the development of the pure fruit juice market in Australia as well as various other measures. These problems of adjustment will be more severe for the apple and pear section of the juice industry than for the citrus section because citrus fruits are more acceptable as a source of fruit juice for the Australian market.
The Coombs report, in referring to this measure, is too simplistic. The Committee does not appreciate or is ignorant of the position of the industry in relation to this question. The report talks of $25m as a charge for lost revenue and of bringing a $5m return to growers. However, the more significant point is that 20 per cent of apple production in Australia, approximately half of the citrus production and an increasing percentage of pears is juiced. If this fruit is not juiced, it will still go onto the market - probably the local market - and will depress returns and one must add the depressed returns to arrive at the true figure of what this ‘measure will cost the industry. It is impossible for any grower to pick only those particular pieces of fruit that are suitable to be canned or exported. He must clean his trees, anyway, for health reasons. By having this additional outlet of juicing, he can lift his returns without increasing his costs. Therefore, the value to the grower is far beyond the simple monetary figure mentioned because he is getting a marginal return with no cost. For example, in the Goulburn Valley the pear grower must pick all the fruit on his trees. It is graded for size. The off-size fruit, which is still excellent fruit, then is taken in bulk and processed. The remaining fruit is taken for canning.
I believe that the argument used on the Government side, that is that after all this juice is only being used in the manufacture of soft drink and that soft drink is not of much good for anybody is a very doubtful argument, particularly when at the same time as making soft drink more expensive for the children of Australia and also for adults who like soft drink, by imposing a 15 per cent sales tax levy, the Government is taking away free milk from children. The Government cannot very well say that it is not doing anything to knock the children of this country, even if it can argue that perhaps children should be drinking milk rather than soft drink. The Government is knocking the children in relation to milk as well as soft drink. I would prefer to see the children of Australia drinking soft drink at as cheap a price as possible, particularly with the addition of some fruit juice to make it of better value, than to see them drinking wine or something like that. Incidentally, the Government does not tax wine, but before I go too far on this point 1 should remind the Government that it is kicking the pants of the wine industry far harder with the revaluation of trading stocks as provided for in the Budget than the previous Government ever did by way of excise. When Government supporters talk about ruining fruit juice, they do not know what they are talking about because there is a difference between taking flavour out and removing colouring from the fruit juice. The essential ingredients of the fruit are still not being touched. We are really not interfering with the quality of that product.
What is the Government doing? That is what the industry would like to know. We heard a vague statement from the Treasurer (Mr Crean), which I believe the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) misunderstood, about doubling to 10 per cent the proportion of fruit juice contained in soft drinks. If a representative of the Government would stand and say: ‘We will keep this exemption if the percentage of fruit is to be doubled’, the fruit industry would rise and applaud this Government. But the Government has not said this. It has just made a vague statement about 10 per cent. We have also heard other figures relating to what the Government will do. For example, a newspaper printed in Griffith, the Area News’ of 29 August 1973, states:
Member for Riverina, Minister for Immigration, Mr Grassby, has obtained a firm assurance from the Treasurer, Mr Frank Crean, that the fruit industry will receive the full benefit of the money saved following the dropping, of the concession on carbonated drinks, which include some fruit product.
My assessment is that the amount of money could be more than $5m and I want to see the whole of this money applied to the industry.’
That is a very nice statement. But has the Treasurer confirmed it? How will this $5m be spent? The fruit industry has put up some proposals on how it could be spent over a 3-year period to assist the diversification of the juice industry. Will this be spent over one year? Will it be over a number of years? If it is to be just a sudden death proposal for this year, it will still lead to confusion in the industry for the coming season.
One is reminded of the Press statement by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) that $20,000 had been given to the Lemon Board of New South Wales. But lemons are processed for juice in South Australia also. Is that industry to receive any money or is the money to be granted in an electorate held by a Labor member of Parliament? Perhaps the patronage will be on a political basis, not on an industry basis or a variety of fruit basis. Not only members on this side of the House but also the citrus growers of South Australia and the apple and pear growers throughout Australia would like to hear the answer to that question. They want to know what the Government intends to do. The fact that the rural committee of the Labor Party - I give credit to the honourable member for Wilmot in his endeavours in this regard - has been unable to obtain a firm statement from the Government reaffirms the point that the rural members in the Labor Party count for nothing. They do not have to be considered. They are ignored.
The real reason for the imposition of this measure is to obtain extra finance as a last minute attempt prior to the Budget to finance some of the lavish promises of this Government. If this is the reason - I believe it is - the Government can still have it both ways by introducing a differential sales tax of, say, 10 per cent if fruit juice is contained in soft drink or 20 per cent if there is no fruit juice present. In this way, the income can still be obtained for the Government. There could still be the incentive for fruit juice to be used in soft drinks and everybody would be reasonably happy. I suggest seriously and constructively to the Government that it should accept even at this late stage the proposal which has been put forward by the Apple and Pear Growers Association and the other fruit grower bodies as the best way to overcome the embarrassing situation in which the Government finds itself, particularly in Tasmania, as a result of this measure. If this cannot be done, Government supporters should support our amendment as a way in which time can be bought so that industry will know what the Government is going to do. It is obvious that the Government does not know at this stage what it will do, otherwise it would have told us. I support the amendment.
– -I have indicated to a few members of the Opposition that I will not take the full amount of time available to me because I should like them to be able to make some contribution in this debate. I think I must answer a couple of the points made by the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd). He reiterated on a couple of occasions - I hope I quote him accurately; his suggestion was quite clear - that the rural committee of the Government was a fairly impotent body, unable to persuade the Government to change its opinion on some actions or to give a guarantee that some change will come about. All I can say to the honourable member and to other honourable members in Opposition is that they cannot have their cake and eat it. Whenever a Labor Party committee or the Caucus as a whole overrules a decision made by the Government, honourable members opposite are the first to complain of a lack of unity within the Government Party. I think that comment dispenses with that observation.
One really must summon all one’s charitable instincts when one reflects on the speech made by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). He is a delightful fellow, but he was invoking the wrath of the Gods down on us because, as I recall what he said, he claimed that it would be interesting to see what happened in the electorates of Government members if they did not support the Opposition’s amendment.
– Hear, hear!
– The honourable member may say ‘Hear, hear!’. I hope he will say ‘Hear, hear!’ again in a moment. The honourable member has demonstrated a remarkable political agility. I remind him of the occasion when he had the opportunity to make a demonstration of this kind when a tax on the wine industry was introduced by his own Prime Minister. I think that Hansard will show the way in which the honourable member responded to that action.
– I hope that you will introduce an amendment to support the industry which you claim to represent.
- Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Angas has already had his say. I would hope that he would be generous enough to allow me to make my contribution. Nobody interrupted him when he was talking and I would expect the same courtesy.
What I do wish to say about the whole approach to rural industries in general and to the apple and pear industry in particular is that a re-assessment has to be made by the Government of the day. I draw the attention of the House to the approach of the Country Party in the debate on the legislation to establish the Industries Assistance Commission. That legislation ought to have been introduced years ago. What it does, in effect, is to provide rural industries with the same sorts of opportunities for representation as have been given to secondary and manufacturing industries for a great number of years. The Commission would do all of those things for primary industry that has been done for secondary and manufacturing industry. But what was the attitude of the Country Party to that legislation? It refused to support it. This is basic to the whole problem of the rural sector. It must be put in a position where it enjoys the same privileges and the same accessibility to the evidence available to the Government as any other industry. But the Country Party would not accept that proposition.
A great deal of comment has been made about the difficulty that the apple and pear industry faces. Nobody denies that. The industry is in a most parlous condition indeed. I request the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) to give some consideration to some positive announcement of assistance to that sector of the industry which may be affected by this legislation. In fact, I have already initiated moves in that direction with the Minister for Primary Industry. He is now studying them and an answer will be given to us.
Everybody in this House, not least of all myself, is aware of the great difficulties which face the apple and pear industry. It has been suggested to me - I do not know whether there is substance in the suggestion; but, nonetheless, it has not yet been disproved - that we could well anticipate in the export season of next year that freight rates will be increased again. This simply means that for the export of apples and pears to overseas markets the freight may well be as much as $7 a bushel. If this is in fact true it would be insane and indeed uneconomic for any grower in any part of this country to continue in that industry.
These are problems which have been occurring for the last 20 years. I find it somewhat strange that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) has suddenly evinced some interest in this industry, because he was a senior Minister in the previous Government which allowed the existing set of conditions to arise. I hope that I am not uncharitable when I say that I would suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has presided over the complete breakdown of the viability of the apple and pear industry. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) in his second reading speech states quite clearly that the Government is prepared if the need arises to provide funds to assist with the reconstruction of any sectors of the fruit growing industry affected by the withdrawal of this exemption. I think that that is a perfectly fair, reasonable and logical approach to take. I have had representations from members of the industry. I know that they are concerned. It is my concern to be concerned about their concern. If a case is put up, as I believe there has been, for an amount of money to be made available for those people affected by this legislation, I have no doubt at all that it will be done. In fact, the Treasurer has already indicated that that would be his course of action.
It must be understood that the difficulties of this industry cannot be debated in isolation. This is an industry which has suffered disastrously over the years and, quite frankly, its future is very bleak indeed. Its future is bleak for a number of reasons, some of which I have already suggested. If it is possible at all, certainly the position of the Tasmanian producers, who produce 70 per cent of the export trade in apples and pears, ought to be considered. I would submit to the Government that any legislation or any amendment to existing legislation that would create an added burden or an added difficulty ought to be resisted until all of the avenues have been thoroughly examined and debated.
I indicated earlier that I would not take the full time available to me. The Minister for Primary Industry, despite the accusations which come from various quarters, particularly on the other side of this House, is most genuine in his attempt to handle, and very sincere in his approach to, this difficult portfolio. The manifestation of some of that success can be seen in some of the trade agreements that have been announced in the last few days. The Minister has had talks in Japan to try to obtain an access into the Japanese markets for exports of apples and pears. There are real difficulties in this field. There are practical difficulties and philosophical difficulties, but nonetheless he has undertaken to do this. These talks will continue with his Japanese counterpart. Therefore, I think it is somewhat unfair to accuse him of disinterest in primary industry. I know from my own experience that he is most concerned with and involved in the future of the whole spectrum of primary industry.
In conclusion, I draw to the attention of the House a statement made by Senator Rae who is a leading light in the Liberal Party when opening the Ulverston Show in Tasmania last week. I will quote what the honourable senator said because I think his remarks are germane to some of the points that I have been making particularly with regard to the Industries Assistance Commission. He said:
The rural industry has been left at the mercy of the Government, trading combines and multi-national corporations which have become bigger and more powerful than ever. They have been left to the multinational combines, the corporations and the trading companies.
These are the remarks of a senior senator of the Liberal Party referring to the difficulties of the rural sector of our community. This was not said by a member of the Government or by a member of the Labor Party. It was said by a front bench member of the Liberal Opposition in the Australian Parliament. As I mentioned earlier, this is one of the reasons why the Industries Assistance Commission Bill should have been supported by members of the Country Party. In that event, this observation by Senator Rae certainly would never have been made.
Mr GILES (Angas)- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member for Angas claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) referred to my personal position in relation to the wine excise - I do not deny it or argue with what he said - compared with his position in relation to the Bill before the House. There is one very big difference which I think, in justice, should be mentioned, namely, that on behalf of the wine industry, I moved a motion. I hope that the honourable member will do so on behalf of his industry and will stick his neck out for the industry, if need be, in time to come.
– I have agreed to co-operate with the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) in limiting my remarks as he did. I thank him for doing so. This will enable my colleague the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) to enter the debate. I regret that the debate on an industry as important as the fruit industry has to be restricted. I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). It goes to the core of the situation. The amendment does not condemn what has been done. It says that the House is of the opinion that action to implement the provisions of the Bill should be deferred until the Government reports to the House on the action it proposes to take, and the amendment goes on to mention 3 items. Surely this is a reasonable proposal.
Why should there be such tremendous urgency to have this Bill introduced and brought into force? Surely it is reasonable for it to be examined to enable those people who have a supply of fruit juice on hand to dispose of it pending the introduction of the Bill. The industry should be given a reasonable opportunity to put its case. I agree with my colleague the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) that the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) must have misunderstood or misinterpreted what the Treasurer (Mr Crean) said. Let me quote from Hansard, if that is the statement to which the honourable referred. The Treasurer said:
If the Coca Cola company would less adulterate its product and make it 10 per cent fruit content it would sell twice as much and I might be prepared-
I emphasise that - to look at this situation on that basis.
– He has never repeated the statement.
– My colleague says that the Treasurer has never repeated the statement. The point is that this matter should have been considered before the Bill was introduced. There is no reason why that should not have been done. The amendment has been introduced so that such things may be considered. I believe that the Government should accept this amendment because it is a reasonable proposal. The fruit industry has been going through a very difficult period. I do not think anybody associated with the industry would deny that. The industry needs help. Surely this is not a time when the assistance that is being given to the industry should be withdrawn.
I have no objection to a review of actions taken over the years but I do object to the suddenness of the introduction of this measure and to the lack of consideration given to it. The fruit industry will be seriously jeopardised as a result of this measure, even though the Government might not regard sales tax exemption as being the most economic way of providing assistance to the fruit industry. No one could deny that the fruit industry is a very valuable industry. The economy of towns, districts and whole areas is based on it. If the Government takes away that assistance at a time when the industry is suffering as it is and gives nothing to replace it, a death blow will be dealt to an industry which has served Australia well.
Once again the Government has proved that one cannot look at the financial statistics of any measure without looking at the whole concept. From time to time we have heard the Treasurer complain about the Opposition looking at something in isolation What has happened here? The Government has looked at the economics of this measure in isolation and has completely forgotten the great difficulties in which it will place the fruit industry and particularly the apple industry. One recalls the reluctance of the Australian Labor Party when in Opposition to give assistance to the wool industry. I recall that honourable members opposite moved amendments to limit the application of the assistance that the previous Government wanted to give to the wool industry. I wonder where the prophets of doom both inside and outside this House with regard to the wool industry are now. Let us have some national outlook towards primary industry generally and towards the fruit industry in particular.
The Government has savagely attacked primary industry from every angle available to it. This is just another instance. There is no question that the Government has done that. Primary producers, unless they are unaware of what the Government has done, will say that that is right. It is true that for the first time in a lengthy period some industries are enjoying reasonable prices for their products coupled with reasonably good seasons. That is a combination they have not enjoyed for a long time. This is one of the reasons they have been able to bear the burden that the Government has been placing upon them. The fruit industry is not in that position, yet the Government does not take any notice of it. The Government just applies this saving to enable it to carry on with its reckless expenditure, regardless of the fact that the fruit industry is suffering and that districts and towns are dependent on the fruit industry. It is especially deplorable that the fruit industry should have been given what could easily prove to be a very serious knock when it is in such difficult financial circumstances through no fault of its own.
I have said that I have no objection to a review of the legislation but I believe that the industry should be given some time to consider all the serious aspects of a bill of this kind. There is no excuse for the Government to bring it down in such a hurry. The honourable member for Franklin has been in this House for almost 7 years. I do not know how long the honourable member for Wilmot has been here. Perhaps the honourable member for Denison (Mr Coates) can be excused somewhat. As one of my colleagues said, he put a pretty good case when he had no real case to present. Honourable members opposite who represent the fruit industry should have been considering this matter over the years. Surely they have not forgotten the fruit industry. When it was suggested that a Bill of this kind be introduced why did they not bring down some alternative and give the fruit industry a chance to consider it? They should have considered whether some alternative to the sales tax exemption assistance could have been provided on those drinks that contain 5 per cent or more volume of Australian fruit juice or its equivalent in concentrated form.
The removal of the exemption will have 2 very serious effects. While soft drink manufacturers claim that apple juice lowers the quality of their products - I challenge that claim - and is used only as a means of earning the exemption, it can be expected that the demand for apple juice and citrus juice will be lowered In view of the current adverse marketing conditions for apples, the decrease in demand can be expected to have a very serious effect on the incomes of apple growers. No one can deny that a more efficient means of assisting these growers through minimum income support and an industry reconstruction scheme has been proposed. But where is it? What will tide the growers over a period when nothing will be done? The increased amounts allocated to these schemes does not even approach adequate compensation for the removal of the exemption from sales tax. If the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) likes to deny that, I will be pleased to hear him say that this is adequate compensation for the fruit growers.
The Government argues that the contribution to apple and pear stabilisation is to be reduced by $500,000 and that fruit growing industry reconstruction funds are to be increased by $1.6m, making a net increase of Sl.lm. But what the Government has not said is that if the exemption had been continued it would have been worth $2. 5m to the incomes of apple growers. Is this not a time when the incomes of apple growers should have been considered seriously by the Government if it had any interest in the apple growers of this country? These statistics are based on the exemption being worth $19m in 1973-74, this value representing 15 per cent of the wholesale selling price of soft drinks, and the growers receiving 2 per cent of that price. I am not denying the figures, but I am arguing that the Government has let the apple growers of this country down badly in removing the sales tax exemption at this time. The second effect of the removal of the exemption is that it will drive up the price of soft drinks by approximately 2c a bottle. In times of rapidly escalating prices surely it cannot be denied that this is another coal on the rapidly growing fire of inflation. Perhaps it is the last straw on the extremely heavy burden already being carried by the fruit growers generally and apple growers in particular.
I will give some examples of increases in the price of soft drinks. My colleague the honourable member for Murray has mentioned already that free milk is to be denied to the school children of this country. Now the Government is making it harder for them to buy soft drinks. The price of soft drinks in a 32 oz bottle will go up by about 10.4 per cent, for 8 oz bottles the price will go up 9.3 per cent, for 13 oz cans by 18.5 per cent and for 300 ml or 10J oz cans by 26.7 per cent. So there will be a degree of inflation. This has not affected the producers of these drinks because they have put up the price to cater for the increased sales tax. The people who are being hurt by this measure are the fruit growers of this country, and the Government stands condemned for treating them in such a harsh way and for adopting a completely unsympathetic attitude in the introduction of this Bill. I hope that every apple grower in this country will show his concern and what he feels about a government which would treat apple growers in this way.
– In speaking to this measure, I must say that there are of course members in the House who have a genuine interest in the problems of the fruit industry. We have also been treated to the usual cascade of political abuse from the members of the former Administration, which, I might say, saw the fruit industry in a strait jacket for years, with returns that have scarcely improved in some areas over a whole period of 10 years under its past policies and past practices, which we reject. I am pleased to make an announcement in connection with this matter. The Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) was advised today, following his inquiries, that discussions with the industry indicate that major aerated water manufacturers, with one possible exception, have honoured their forward contracts and have continued to order juice. With sales already made, the industry’s stock position is no longer as serious as was alleged 2 months ago. So we have a factual report there.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) made a statement which seemed to me to be completely out of touch with developments and completely out of date. He referred to the terrible position of the citrus industry. He must be referring to the solitary tree in his backyard, because the situation in the citrus industry is that we in fact face an unprecedented demand for citrus at the present time, and there will be some incentive to increase production. Then we were told that the whole of the decentralised juice industry had been so severely hurt since the Budget that all was lost almost. The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) said that it had been dealt a death blow. Since the Budget, in my own area, 4 new juicing plant projects have reached the stage of negotiating for finance, another family firm project is under way and another is in the process of formulation. In addition to this one of the major citrus juice processors in the nation has just announced a 5-fold expansion in the present financial year. As a matter of fact just the other day I had the privilege of squeezing the twenty-millionth orange after one year’s operation in this processor’s plant. I am pleased to say that it came from the Riverina.
– You did not squeeze as hard as you squeezed the apple growers.
– If the honourable member wants to be squeezed he will have to wait his turn. This processor has a plant which in this year will squeeze 100 million oranges, 5 times the number processed last year. This is the sort of development that is going on. The development which is proceeding bears no relationship to the debased currency of protest that we hear from the Opposition. The cries of doom against this measure are absolutely ludicrous. In fact all honourable members opposite are doing is undermining industry confidence and doing nothing positive for the people whom they are supposed to help.
We have talked about citrus juice. We will go on to some of the other problems. One honourable member opposite made an interesting reference to Dr Coombs. He said that he was hopelessly bad in his advice and it was a terrible thing that the Government did not take it. I am not quite sure how he managed to span that in logic. But still, seeing that it came from the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), who once voted against himself, all I can say is that it is his best statesmanlike act in his parliamentary career. Then there was a reference to the New South Wales lemon industry. This was held up as an example of the problems we have today. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, coming from the tombs of Melbourne, says that the New South Wales lemon industry is in a terrible state. Seeing that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition seems to me so much out of touch I would be delighted to explain to him that the New South Wales Lemon Board put forward a proposition and that this proposition was accepted. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) in fact found funds to make it possible for juicing lemons that were available to be taken in, and the proposition will be part of a new promotion. So that problem has been solved and the New South Wales Lemon Board has expressed its thanks for the action that was taken. So we have brought the Deputy Leader of the Opposition up to date on that matter.
The Treasurer said in the Cabinet room, he said in the Caucus, he said in the Parliament and he said publicly that S25m was involved in this operation and that $5m at the very most was earmarked to go to growers. What he said, of course, is that that is available to ensure that the growers are in no way disadvantaged. It has been pointed out that we will be able to take the opportunity to take new initiatives that will take the growers out of the strait jacket of the past when they were tied to a procedure which took their product and denatured it. I think it was the honourable member for Denison (Mr Coates) who said that the processors took the growers’ product and made it a tasteless water which seemed to him to be a prostituted drink. I think that is right. There was no nature in it. I agree with his description. Therefore what we have in mind is to help with the new initiatives. The money is there; the action has already been taken; the goodwill has already been demonstrated. This means, of course, not only improving our consumption at home but in fact breaking into new export markets, and these are being looked at now. The industry has an opportunity to do better than it has in the past when returns were only marginal. In fact there has not been a really significant increase in the returns to some growers for something like 10 years. It is not good enough. So the opportunity can be taken to do more. But to talk about death and doom is really the height of exaggeration. It ignores the things that have already been done. It ignores the opportunities that are available. If honourable members opposite had ceased with their politics for just a moment and put forward constructive suggestions for developments at home and overseas this would have been most welcome. I suggest that, instead of just reiterating day after day things that are palpably untrue, it would be a far better service to the rural community of Australia if some constructive views were put forward, lt is not just enough to have progaganda all the time.
I notice - I will just refer to this briefly - there was a reference to an announcement that I made myself in my own electorate about the assurances, very welcome assurances, given by the Treasurer which will of course stand throughout Australia. These were very reasonable. They were based on his published statements. I make an appeal to rural members opposite who have some genuine interest in their constituents not to debase the whole of national debate with untruths. The honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), who made the reference, issued a statement which I hope he will repudiate. A report of it appeared in one of the most left wing journals, I suppose, in the nation known as the ‘Pastoral Times’ of Deniliquin, a very rabid journal indeed. The report is an example of the sort of thing that comes out in an improper way. The honourable member is reported as saying:
The Labor Government has surrendered to overwhelming opposition and dropped its proposal for a meat export tax or quota -
Then he is reported as saying:
The Cabinet rejected the tax but agreed to a quota, which the Caucus overruled.
That is a string of untruths and fairy tales. I am sure that the honourable member must have been misquoted, because he knows very well that an all-Party committee brought down a recommendation which was rejected by the Cabinet, rejected by the Caucus, rejected by the Government. Yet the honourable member is reported as speaking in a way which is in fact a dishonest way. I hope that he will take the opportunity to correct the report. This sort of debate in the countryside does no good at all. It in fact ignores what is happening at the moment, which is that the countryside is rising from its knees after being in a recession under the last administration.
There are opportunities for improvement in the juicing industry. There are opportunities to take advantage of a situation where there is available $Sm which would not have been otherwise available directly to stimulate consumption at home and abroad. I am confident that the Treasurer will honour his commitment to the full. Where constructive proposals have been put forward, as in the case of the New South Wales Lemon Board not only have the proposals been accepted but the money has been made available and the industry is moving forward and has expressed its appreciation. What a contrast that is to the miserable comments made for political reasons by members opposite. I really think it is time that members of the House of Representatives had a proper debate on some of these matters instead of the verbal diarrhoea which has stained the chamber in recent weeks.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. For somebody who promised the Australian primary producers money at an interest rate of 3 per cent, I object to the fact that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) once again has accused me of voting against my own proposal. It must be apparent even to one with such a minuscule head as the Minister, that my motion has never been voted on. I ask the Minister to take that into account.
– You voted against it.
– It has never been put to the House.
– I have listened to the speeches of members from Tasmania and to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) and I wonder why they are not supporting this amendment because what it seeks is to take the whole issue out of the region of vague promises and to get it written in black and white. That is an acceptable basis and is a good way in which to approach the matter. The Bill, as it stands, concerns me, particularly as I speak to the fruit growers in my electorate. The whole source of inspiration for this Bill seems to be the Coombs report. This is another burden which the Government has thrust on primary producers. I cannot find where, before this announcement was made or before this recommendation was seized upon, the industry was consulted or where it was thought about at all. In fact it is a snide way of taxing a field that has not been taxed before, because it is a tax that will have to ‘be paid largely by the school children and the school tuckshops. They are the consumers of soft drinks and they are the ones who will have to pay for it.
The Treasurer (Mr Crean) said that the benefit of this concession might have been something like a tariff. He said that the growers receive little help from it. But they did receive a very important and necessary benefit. They gained a market for fruit which was of considerable assistance to organised marketing and stability in the industry. We have heard members of the Opposition today putting the case for the apple industry. Those members included the honourable members for Angas (Mr Giles), Murray (Mr Lloyd) and Maranoa (Mr Corbett).
An article in the ‘Queensland Country Life’ of 30 August by Mr J. F. S. Brown, of the Golden Circle Cannery, stated that Australia’s apple growers had lost $4m annually as a result of this measure and that Granite Belt growers in the Maranoa electorate had lost at least $100,000 annually in a Treasury move to net another $25m a year. Mr Brown pointed out that retail prices had then already risen by 15 per cent to counter the sales tax. He said that 3 Australian companies had been holding $lm worth of apple juice at the time of the decision land this could now be poured down the drain because drink manufacturers would certainly revert to full water, sugar and other sweeteners for their products. He added that most of the apples had been processed. Who will suffer from this? Those who suffer will be the growers, who cannot get paid if the factories cannot dispose of the juice; the producers on soldier settlement blocks who are committed to heavy repayments and who must sell their fruit; and, as the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) pointed out, the road and rail transport operators because of contractions of the markets.
The Budget Speech of the Treasurer, parroted the Coombs report. I regard it as an affront to the industry, because this was a concession sought by the industry in the first place. The Treasurer said that the concession is worth nothing. That is an implication that the industry has misled previous governments over the years. It cast doubts on the credence of the industry. I ask honourable members what confidence any rural industry can have about any sort of nearing from this Government. This should not have been done overnight; it must not be done overnight without consultation with the industry. That is why I support the amendment. That is what we are trying to achieve for the fruit growers.
The ‘Fruit and Vegetable News’ of 30 August states that this Bill would be a disaster for fruit growing industry stability. That is a sobering thought because unless alternative outlets can be found for the juice it will flood the market and this could have disastrous consequences. The Treasurer contends that possibly more fruit juice would be sold but this is only if all present factors remain unchanged. This ignores the fact that apple and citrus fruit production represent quantities large enough to wreck the stability of the market completely. In a moment I will give some figures to support that contention. If one fruit juice is poured on to and gluts the market it will affect considerably all the other fruit juices that are on the market. This, of course, will affect my own State of Queensland. Queensland is affected by what happens in the south. If there is an over-supply in the south caused by a loss of market for fruit juices, these juices must be sold elsewhere. They will go to Queensland, and they will go to markets in other States which also will be affected.
We already have heard about consideration of a reconstruction scheme or some compensation for the loss to the growers. I ask the Treasurer, with respect, how does he assess the value of that loss. What will the Government assess? It is not something that can be assessed on a once and for all basis? The surplus will be there to dispose of next year and the year after. Surpluses exist all the time. We have heard before of revaluation compensation and I hope that these words do not go into the same pigeon-hole. These words are soothing but they are humbug because they do not have any meaning at all. This is important. I have been advised that for the year ended 30 June 1973 59 million gallons of canned aerated waters, 138 million gallons of bottled waters and 1.3 million gallons of bulk waters were produced. This is a total of just under 200 million gallons. It is reliably estimated that 95 per cent of aerated waters contain at least 5 per cent fruit juice. That means that 9.5 million gallons of pure fruit juice are now at risk. The market has been jeopardised and this must represent a real threat to the stability of the industry. We are talking of 4.5 million bushels of Australian fruit, which includes about 900,000 bushels of citrus fruit and 76,000 tons of apples.
This is not a minor Bill. It is not unimportant but is a real attack upon an important industry. We have to consider this, of course, in conjunction with the effect of the Governments revaluation measures previously implemented because already there have been serious effects on the industry due to revaluation. This measure will compound those effects. If honourable members doubt that the industry has been affected and that there is something of a disaster in the industry I remind them of the 30,000 bushels of navel oranges that cannot be sold so easily now in Singapore, if at all, because the industry cannot compete due to the competition following revaluation.
The Treasurer said that the industry has not received any benefit .from this concession. Of course it had a benefit. It has assisted to provide stability and it has assisted to provide a good market - a market which will now be destroyed and further complicated by the loss of other markets because of the revaluation measures of the Government. This is a discriminatory piece of legislation. It is in line with the deliberate course of action of this Government to have a bash at the primary producer at every point. This Government, which has said so much about not increasing taxation, has a very interesting philosophy. It now numbers among its taxpaying community recipients of social service benefits. Now, of course, the school children - by far the largest section of the consumers of soft drinks - either must pay more for their soft drink or the manufacturers may decide to make a smaller can for which. they will charge the same price. This section of people, these children, have already suffered from the decision of the Government to abolish the free milk scheme for schools. Surely the Government must see that this action, this legislation, has caused another price rise and is another coal in the fire of inflation. I think that we must discuss this matter with the industry.We must have a good look at it. We must see what the effects are and make sure that an industry that has already been bashed is not put out of production altogether. 1 support the amendment.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Lynch’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Honourable J. F. Cope)
Majority . . ..11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15 October (vide page 2068), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Mr MalcolmFraser) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17 October (vide page 2259), on motion toy Dr Everingham:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Mental Health and Related Services Assistance Bill 1973 indicates a new and commendable approach in the area of health care. It is being revolutionised by adopting new techniques and applying in practical ways the knowledge gained through increased research and as a result of growing public concern for the unfortunates of our society. Notwithstanding the improved standards of living and greater leisure in our society there appears to have developed a certain inability to cope with the pressures that modern living exerts. This is exemplified by the growing number of alcoholics, suicides, drug dependants and mentally ill. The figures are both staggering and astonishing, and they increase our reason for concern and decrease our confidence in the standards of our society.
I understand that our colleagues in the Liberal Party will move some amendments to the provisions of this Bill. I will support those proposed amendments because of the principles they espouse in relation to State rights and responsibilities. I will support the amendment which will be moved by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) because it will allow for ease of administration and tend to avoid unnecessary duplication in experimentation and research. We of the Country Party oppose at all times any moves by the Labor Government which seek to centralise all power in Canberra and which tend to downgrade the rights of the States.
There is much to be done in research into the problems of mental health. The results achieved so far indicate that we have much knowledge to gain, and it will take a lot of quarrying to unearth it. We cannot afford to let time pass us by. No one can be dogmatic and emotional in defending this system or that system. We need to be sensitive in a conciliatory way to criticism and advice from all sections of the community if that criticism and advice is given honestly, because nothing can be more damaging to any system or to the updating of any system in which we ardently and passionately believe than minds, closed to criticism. Criticism should be listened to carefully and humbly so that defects can be removed. There are defects in the Bill presently before the House, and I have touched on one of the defects of principle already. There is a conscious attempt to remove the stigma associated with mental health, but the underlying factor is that the mentally ill are among the most seriously disadvantaged section in the community. It is noted that the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) in his second reading speech stated that after the years 1973, 1974 and 1975 the services referred to in the Bill and continue to be supported under and will be integrated with the broader Australian community health program. It is refreshing and good to have the Minister’s assurance that this is to be the case, but I proffer the question: Will mentally ill people in the community still be disadvantaged? We are dealing with human beings who, under natural law, have a right to live a meaningful and purposeful existence.
Following a conversation I had recently with a renowned Darling Downs Anglican cleric - Bishop Ralph Wicks - who has since been consecrated as Assistant Bishop of Brisbane, in which he expressed very great fears about our growing rate of suicides, I had some inquiries made regarding these figures and also the figures related to drug abuse, drug dependence and alcoholism. These figures in some way indicate the depth of the problem with which this Bill seeks to grapple. They correspond roughtly with the number of people in the strata of society which this legislation aims to help. The Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse reported in 1970 that in Australia 5 per cent of all men and 1 per cent of all women were dependent on alcohol, and the estimated number of people involved was 258,000. Taking into consideration the increase in population, and for the exercise assuming the factors are constant, it can be assumed that almost 300,000 people in Australia are dependent on alcohol. This figure includes the unfortunates on Skid Row and those who are dependent on alcohol in order to execute their normal routine of work and leisure. The suicide rate as indicated by the number of deaths per 100,000 of mean population shows an increase from sixteen in the 5-year period 1941-45 to twenty-six in the period 1966-71. It is impossible to assess accurately the number of attempted suicides, but we all realise that some of the road accident victims - we know from published data that there has been a savage increase from the early 1940s to the present time - could probably be included among the attempted suicides.
The report of the Australian Government to the United Nations on the workings of the International Treaties on Narcotic Drugs shows that in 1965 the number of convictions on individual charges totalled 106. In 1972 the number was 2,888. Fines imposed in 1965 totalled $2,190 and in 1972 totalled $343,564. Gaol sentences in 1965 totalled 120 months and in 1972 totalled 4,750 months. In 1965 the number of bonds was 35 and in 1972 there were 775. Of the 2,888 convictions in 1972 there were 343 gaol sentences. This indicates that the threat of prison will not stop drug dependence in many individuals since, because of their dependence, drugs are far more important to them than the threat of prison.
If one is trying to encourage people to seek help when they feel they are becoming overdependent on drugs or alcohol, or they just cannot cope, the answer would hardly be to threaten them with prosecution if they sought to make themselves known. That would only encourage them to be more careful and to hide from law enforcement agencies, and so also to hide from treatment agencies. We want to correct the problem. The provisions in this Bill are a first step. But we ask: Why has not the Minister indicated the attitude of the Government to the drug pushers? This is the root cause of much of the problem. They supply the methods and the opportunities for people to escape from reality. Drug peddling should be subject to uniformly harsh penalties over the whole of Australia. Drug pushers are the culprits. Drug peddling warrants a most severe penalty because it is a crime of the highest order. It is an offence that preys on bewildered and disturbed people. It has no conscience. It has only one aim - an insatiable thirst to maximise returns without any thought of the terrible consequences that eventuate.
The Bill envisages a more humanitarian approach to mental health care. The Country Party applauds any moves to make it easier for the problem drinker, the drug addict or the mentally disturbed, to admit his or her problem and the need for help. We also applaud moves to provide facilities not only for treatment but also for the rehabilitation of the patient and indeed the whole family. Spouses and children are in many instances the victims of the various addictions. They are the ones who have to carry the burden of suffering in silence. A hidden cost, in terms of human suffering and usage of medical resources, is in the fact that alcohol is attributed to at least half the traffic accidents. The proposals in this Bill are forward looking in terms of preventing, by the giving of community facilities, the institutional placement of those for whom such treatment is not necessary. We applaud this modern day approach to this problem of treating these people initially in their homes where no embarrassment is felt and where, through the participation of the whole of the family in the healthy environment that is created, the patient can probably readjust himself and overcome his problem, whether it be an inability to cope, a problem with drink or a problem with drugs.
The establishment of such community facilities must remain a major priority but we must be careful to ensure that we cater also for the victims of the old system. The people responsible for the introduction of this Bill must realise that it is impossible to close down completely at a certain time the present institutions which traditionally have been adopted in this country for the treatment of the mentally afflicted. Problems will be created if the Bill, by widening the ambits of direction, merely diverts available funds - allowing for increases in inflation and scope - to another area. I submit that perhaps community facilities should be developed in parallel with an updating of the old facilities. Let us prevent by all means, but also let us not forget those inmates at present who have spent the greater portion of their lives in institutions and who know no other existence.
The new approach to mental disability requires both funds and a change in community attitudes. Basically this Bill aims to inject more funds into providing mental health services. An amount of $7.5m is to be made available in each of the next two years. The Bill envisages a change in community attitudes. It requires a reorientation of roles and of the personnel who are already involved in the care and treatment of people in institutions. In particular the older psychiatrc nurse, bred in a custodial atmosphere, will have difficulty and will need time to acclimatise, as it were, to the changing methods and will have trouble in comprehending the basic philosophies behind the new methods. There will be an urgent need for the rehabilitation of institutional staff.
We submit that the solution to the problem of mental health is one that can be accelerated by the injection of money to provide specialised community services through the provision of half-way houses whereby people do not have attached to them the stigma of ever having been an inmate of an institutional home. We understand that in certain areas, particularly in the country areas and in rural areas of the States, there is often for people who have been discharged from institutions a problem in finding employment. We can all appreciate the concern of the employer when someone approaches him and says that he was previously an inmate of a mental institution. We can appreciate his concern as to whether or not he should employ that person.
The thought has been inspired in me by some people who live in the city of Toowoomba on the Darling Downs that it is opportune for governments, both State and Federal, for local authorities and for voluntary workers to encourage people to stay together and to participate in co-operative enterprises. I know that certain of the voluntary organisations in the city of Toowoomba are envisaging a pilot scheme. Let this be a pilot scheme for the whole of Australia so that when people are cured, whether it be at the doorstep of their home or through custodial treatment in an institution, or when they are discharged they have the knowledge that there is waiting for them a place to work. We must appreciate that the greatest thing that any of us can have is self dignity. There is nothing worse for a person who has had a mental disturbance than to find when he is capable of supporting himself that an opportunity to participate in labour is no longer forthcoming to him. I hope that the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham), whilst observing the new changes and these new concepts, will also give consideration to updating the present facilities to care for people in institutions. Recently during a strike in mental homes in Queensland - I spoke about this previously in this House - I drew the attention of Australia to the sinister attitude of unions which, on a very narrow demarcation issue and because of jealousy among the men because a woman was granted a position of authority, saw fit to place in jeopardy the very existence of many people who unfortunately had been committed to these homes. I have been informed that in some of those homes that in certain sections the people were being trained in the simple art of using a toilet. It disturbed mc to realise that for many years it had been the practice for people in these institutions to be completely denied any training in that very simple art. There are many other areas in which the situation of these people can be improved. It must be realised that if they are given the opportunity and if people take the trouble to teach them, much can be done to uphold and to uplift their personal satisfaction and dignity. In the past governments have been at fault in not supplying sufficient money and in not providing sufficient personnel to these essential sections of the community which have been the most disadvantaged of all.
The Country Party, therefore, associates itself with the amendment that I have been given to understand since I started my address the Minister for Health will move. That amendment is similar to the amendment which I foreshadowed the honourable member for Hotham would move. The amendment, assuming that it contains the ideas, aims and objectives which from discussions I have had with the honourable member for Hotham I know would have been included in his amendment, will be supported by the Country Party. We want the whole of Australia to know that the Country Party does widen its horizons and does express its concern for the unfortunates of society. We pledge our support at all times for any moves initiated by the Government which will improve the dignity of life of, will give some help to and will show some concern for those people who unfortunately and often through no fault of their own are the victims of the materialistic society in which they live.
– The positive note which has been struck at the outset of this debate by both the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) in his second reading speech, and by the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh), speaks well for the future of mental health institutions in this country. It is therefore the more to be regretted that the Opposition has chosen to make this debate the occasion for inflicting by way of amendment yet another humiliation upon the local governing bodies of this country. I do not understand why the Liberal Party is elevating its hostility to local government to an article of faith to which it gives expression at every possible opportunity, whether it be in the context of the Grants Commission Bill, introduced earlier this year, over which the Opposition went perilously close to voting against a measure which enjoyed the support of local governing bodies throughout Australia; whether it be at the recent Premiers Conference where the Liberal Premiers took the lead in voting down the proposal that local government should be given representation on the Loan Council on an equal footing with its 2 partners in our Federal system, or whether it be in respect of this measure before the House to which the Opposition will shortly move an amendment providing that approaches made within the context of the Bill by municipalities should be referred back by the Minister to the State Ministers concerned for consultation.
– Does the honourable member know that the Minister has accepted the spirit of my amendment?
– I am aware that the Government has accepted the Opposition’s amendment. However, It does not ease my regret that the Opposition should have used the present debate on this measure as yet another means of presenting its vendetta against local councils, the third tier of federalism in this country.
The evidence of social pathology in this community is widespread and irrefutable. The evidence of mental illness has been amply documented in recent years. Surveys reported in the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ on 14 April this year showed that no fewer than one in every four adult Australians is a victim of mental disease in some form or another; that 7.6 per cent of our population is clinically disturbed, and that a further 18.4 per cent suffers from borderline psychiatric disorders. In their book entitled ‘The Health of a Metropolis’ Krupinski and Stoller found that psychiatric morbidity was to be found among 12.8 per cent of children, 14.8 per cent of male adolescents, 13.5 per cent of female adolescents, 16.5 per cent of male adults and 23.8 per cent of female adults. These are very daunting statistics indeed. They receive practical expression in active anti-social behaviour of every kind. We can see it in the mounting incidence of fatalities and injuries upon our roads; we can see them in the mounting incidence of marital breakdowns; we can see them in the statistics of drunkenness and disease associated with alchoholism For all these and many more reasons, the Bill before the House is one that will be widely welcomed.
I would like to concentrate particularly on those sections of the Bill which refer to assistance being given to voluntary agencies in the community for the establishment of new mental health facilities. I do this because I believe there is great scope for innovation in this field and great scope for localisation. Within my own electorate statistics suggest that not fewer than 6,000 adults are in need of treatment for mental disorders. At present only a very small percentage of these people are receiving treatment. They are obliged to go to private psychiatrists operating on a fee for service basis, and almost without exception having their consulting rooms in the city of Melbourne. Those who cannot afford private psychiatric services are obliged to go to public psychiatric hospitals, the nearest being 12 miles away. It is no wonder that people who already have very significant problems with which to cope in their everyday lives in many cases find the journey that lies between them and help an insuperable obstacle. I was heartened therefore when parishioners associated with the Church of Saint Stephen in East Ringwood in my electorate decided to take the step of setting up a mental health service for their neighbours.
Last night I was privileged to attend a meeting at which 85 of those people and their supporters in the community came out to establish a committee which will steer the project to fruition. Much valuable preparatory work has been done already. Very much more needs to be done. The Minister will understand when I say that the costs involved in getting such a venture off the ground and in employing, whether on a salary or on a sessional basis, specialists such as psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers is an undertaking, a responsibility, beyond the capacities of all but the very largest and indeed State-wide voluntary organisations in this country. The capital cost alone of establishing such a venture is of the order of $20,000 and the recurrent costs can scarcely fall much behind $55,000 a year. lt is not enough that community mental health services of this kind should restrict themselves to the provision of services for those people who are already mentally ill. There is great work to be done in our community in mental prophylaxis and in preventive mental care and this, too, can well be undertaken at the local level. The people connected with the clinic of which I speak have in mind a 4-phase operation. They want to commence immediately on a program of community education designed to see that not only mental illness itself but also the physical and environmental conditions and the strains and tensions from which mental illness arises are identified at the earliest possible stage and that appropriate action is taken to remedy those conditions. In this field as in so many others prevention not only can be so much more effective than cure - many disorders which ultimately prove to be incurable could have been cured if they had been identified and received treatment at a sufficiently early stage of their development - but it is infinitely cheaper for our community in the long run. If the resources that we currently devote to the rehabilitation of the victims of road accidents and to the restoration of their vehicles were diverted to the mental health program and made available to organisations such as the St Stephens Clinic, the saving to our community in the long run would be very substantial indeed.
Secondly, for those people whose disorders have already progressed to the point at which there is no answer other than professional treatment, the clinic proposes to provide the services of a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a social worker, these people being available not only for individual and group therapy within the clinic itself but also in the role of community visitors, taking their services into the homes of the patients themselves. The next important component of the program is evaluation. We must recognise that mental health services at the local level in this country are a field of community activity as yet very little explored. Where people such as those associated with this clinic set out to initiate a new program and to venture into areas not previously explored by organisations such as their own, it will be necessary for an active process of scrutiny and evaluation to go on. No single facet of the project which has been outlined to me impresses me more than the provision which has been made in it for continuing scrutiny and evaluation of everything that is done.
There is a final component in the program and that is provision for research. Here again, I do not believe that any psychiatrist, psychologist or specialist working in the field of mental health and mental morbidity is worth his salt or indeed is able to maintain his professional competence unless he is constantly engaged in the sort of research that promotes an open-mindedness to new concepts in his field, that promotes the sort of acute sustained observation which so often is lacking in other fields of health care in this country and which constantly prompts him to challenge the dogmas on which his specialty is based.
So over these 4 areas of activity - prophylaxis, treatment, evaluation and research - a valuable initiative is being taken by the people of East Ringwood and I trust that this initiative will be copied by other communities in which the need is no less great and will be fostered by the Australian Government under the provisions of this Bill. We should all see it as a matter for regret that in the past initiatives of this sort have been stifled by lack of funds. The Australian Government is a very imperfect instrument indeed for providing mental health services. It is much too remote from the people who are in need of those services and from the practitioners who provide them. But the Australian Government alone has the resources at its disposal to see that these services are properly fostered. This Bill represents a very real step forward on the mental health measures which we have debated in this House in earlier years. Its reward in both human and economic terms will be enormous.
– I .thank the House for its courtesy in allowing me to be virtually the one responding to this Bill on behalf of the Opposition. As the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) knows, there was another Bill before this one which suddenly was taken off the notice paper. I was happily in my office thinking that this Bill would come on in an hour and suddenly it was brought on. My friend, the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh), replied first on behalf of the Opposition and I thank him for that.
I should like to compliment the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) on the latter part of his speech, with which I entirely agree. I should like to say to him that it is a matter of some regret when a first class speech like the one he made is spoiled by the attempt at politicking which he made at the beginning. I suggest to the honourable member that there are very few people in this place who indulge in cheap politicking who score any points at all. Such persons finally discover that their efforts at making cheap political points are counter-productive and react against themselves. I refer to his tilt at the Opposition about its proposed amendment to which I will refer in a moment. The Opposition completely supports this Bill and commends the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) for introducing it in the form in which he has. It follows the philosophical thrust which my Party and the Country Party were following in the latter part of last year. We thoroughly agree with the purpose, to use the Minister’s words, ‘of getting away from the concept of tow-away medicine when dealing with mental disease and its allies’.
The Bill provides assistance to the States, local governing bodies and voluntary organisations in providing medical or other services or facilities for or in relation to the prevention or diagnosis of, or the treatment or the rehabilitation of, persons suffering from mental illness, mental disability, alcoholism or drug dependence. Included is the acquisition of land or the construction, extension, alteration or renovation of a building for use in providing the above services and the maintenance of a building used in the provision of such services. The sum of $7.5m is allocated for each of the years 1973-74 and 1974-75. Where a payment or an advance is made to a voluntary organisation as distinct from a local governing body, it is conditional upon the State concerned making a similar payment or advance. This, as I understand it, means that if the Minister, as he sees fit to use the terms of the Bill, receives a request from a voluntary organisation in a State, he cannot give money to that voluntary organisation unless that request is accompanied by an undertaking from the State Government concerned that it will match that grant dollar for dollar. There is no such provision for the payment of money to a local government. Apparently, as I read the Bill, the Minister has a discretion to give a grant direct to a local government organisation.
The Bill is intended to replace the States Grant (Mental Health Institutions) Act which expired on 30 June 1973. The new facilities provided for will include non-residential and hostel facilities for prevention, out-patient treatment, training and rehabilitation. The Bill reflects the fact that community health care is often more effective than institutional care. For the purposes of those people who listen to this debate, I will put the matter in context by quoting very briefly from the second reading speech of the Minister in which he said:
Persons suffering from psychiatric and similar problems return to coping normally much more quickly when treated in their usual community environment, with their families and friends around them.
He continued later: - We shall be shifting the emphasis away from socalled ‘tow-away medicine’.
There will be: . . an expansion of hostel and half-way house accommodation for persons with chronic mental problems or social handicaps who need residential care but not the most costly care of mental and general hospitals and nursing homes. The addition of communitybased services for alcoholism and drug dependence along with our new emphasis on other aspects of community mental health is a vital step forward in combating those serious community problems in a systematic way.
With that philosophy the Opposition completely agrees. Hopefully, we are now moving away from the prehistoric age concept where someone who was mentally ill or suffering from a disease or a sickness such as alcoholism or drug dependency had to be locked up away from the community, where a stigma was cast on the family if a member of that family was an alcoholic or mentally ill, whether that person acquired that mental illness or was bom with it. This Bill reflects that growth in community trends. We commend the Government for implementing what this legislation proposes.
Some points have been made by my friend from Darling Downs. The need exists for co-ordination among the States with the Commonwealth on the expenditure of this money. The sum of S7.5m a year for 2 years is not a lot of money and therefore it would need to be spent wisely and well. I compliment the Minister for Health for virtually accepting an amendment that I foreshadowed to him earlier this morning. May I make the point away from a discussion of this Bill for the moment that I believe this is the way in which this Parliament should function and that it would function much better if this sort of cooperation did take place. When I was on the other side of the House I constantly appealed to the Opposition that, if it sought to submit amendments, it should submit them to the Government beforehand so that the Minister responsible, in consultation with his Department, could consider them and, if he thought there was merit in them, accept them. This type of co-operation obviates the need for acrimonious debate and politicking of the type to which I referred before.
The reason that I will move the amendment which the Minister has virtually accepted, although he has redrafted it to put it into his own language - I am happy for him to move it in his name rather than for me to move it in my name - is not as the honourable member for Casey suggested to upgrade or to downgrade local government. In its present terms, the Bill simply says this: The Minister, as he sees fit, may make a grant for certain purposes. Now, before an application for a grant by a voluntary organisation, say the Buoyancy Foundation in Melbourne or some group like that, comes to the Minister, that application must first go to the State Government health department or to the responsible Minister before it comes to the Federal Minister for Health. The State Minister looks at the application and, if he thinks fit, will say: ‘Yes, we will give you dollar for dollar if the Commonwealth Government comes forward with the grant’. So, there is consultation on applications from voluntary organisations. But the Bill, as originally drafted, made no such provision for consultation from local councils.
– That was my point.
– I know that it was your point. We believe that there should be consultation. Only $7 .5m is involved, lt may well toe, to take Victoria as an example, that municipality A may make an application to the Minister for a grant for an alcoholism dependence unit; municipality B right next door may make another application to the Minister for an alcoholism dependence unit; and municipality C adjoining the other 2 municipalities also may seek a grant for the same purpose. The Minister in Canberra is not and cannot be expected to be aware of the close proximity or the local features of these applications. I would have thought that it was common sense for the State Minister for Health in the State concerned to say: ‘Look, just a moment. You have 2 alcoholism dependence units already in that area of the State. Have some consultation on this matter’. The alternative is for the Federal Minister for Health to develop an enormous bureaucracy which will inquire into every application from a local government body. I am sure that that is not the wish of the Minister or of his Department. The Department has much more important things to do than that. My amendment sought simply to expedite the process. My amendment did not mean that the Federal Minister for Health must necessarily take any notice of any objections that a State Minister might make. It simply proposed that before an application came to the Federal Minister for Health at least it would be sifted and the views of the State Minister for Health or the appropriate Minister would be obtained.
That seems to me to be common sense and not a point on which to try to make some capital.
– It was not. It is objectionable to subordinate one level of government to another within the Federal system. It is done too often. It fits the pattern.
– If I have not made my point to the honourable member, I must apologise to him. I would have thought that I hove expressed a commonsense point of view in the simplest language of which I am capable. I made it perfectly clear in what I said that I was not suggesting that the Federal Minister for Health should allow an application from a local government body to be vetoed by a State Minister for Health. My ministerial experience indicates that in some States a State Minister for Health may want to build his own empire, his own mental asylums and institutions. The whole thrust of this Bill is in the other direction. I completely support a Minister overriding a State Minister for Health who might say: ‘Do not give it to that local council. Do not give it to that voluntary organisation. Give it to us and we will build a bigger, brighter home for the mentally ill.’ I know that in some States that kind of empire building goes on.
– The Bill that is before the Victorian Parliament at the moment makes it absolute.
– I will not name States but I will not necessarily disagree with what the honourable gentleman says. Therefore, the Opposition believes that this question of mental illness is something that impacts itself upon human beings and upon families. It is one of the greatest tragedies that can impact itself upon families. The other matters which the Bill covers concerning self-inflicted illnesses that have a result in mental disturbance - alcohol and other drugs - are equally as important if not more tragic. It seems to me ironic that here we are spending $ 15m in 2 years to cover, amongst other things, an illness created by the greatest killer drug of addiction known to man - alcohol. I do not think that the Minister for Health would disagree with that. The World Health Organisation rates alcohol as the fourth largest medical problem in the world, and a White Paper of the British Parliament rates alcohol as the third largest killer of mankind. That does not measure the amount of agony and anguish that alcoholism causes to human beings who suffer from it, and their families.
We are spending some part of $15m in curing that problem in Australia. It seems ironic to me that we still allow that drug, the greatest killer drug of addiction known to man, to be advertised on television, on radio and in the newspapers. Maybe we will reach a stage of sanity some day where we can recognise the irony and the insanity of allowing the third greatest killer of man to be advertised freely so that young people might be induced or seduced to consume it. I suppose we move slowly. Social change is slow. We will be stuck with advertising of alcohol for some time.
One point I want to make now is that some liquor companies - some sellers or manufacturers of alcohol - are abusing this doubtful privilege they have. Recently I heard on radio an advertisement for some beverage specifically designed for young people. It has a frightful taste. God knows its ingredients, but it bubbles. It is named after some festival which suggests fun, gaiety and so on. There is gay music in the background to the advertisement. The advertisement is pitched directly towards the teenage audience and it virtually says to teenagers: ‘You cannot have a successful party unless you get turned on with this fantastic beverage’. I commend to the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) and the Minister for Health 2 companies which abuse that kind of privilege in acting in this way. In this place we talk about the road toll and we talk about the evils of alcoholism. The latest figures from the drug dependence clinic at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne indicate that 250,000 Australian adults have a serious drinking problem.
– Has the honourable member seen the UDL ads?
– ‘The honourable member may mention names of companies. That is his privilege. I will name them at the appropriate time. If you permit it, Mr Deputy Speaker - I am quite sure that you will not - I will be delighted to bring my tape recorder into this House and play this advertisement for the benefit of honourable members. I believe that the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) would be as disgusted and as enthusiastic about banning this sort of thing as I am. One in 20 adults are effected by a serious drinking problem. They have been defined by social scientists as people who cannot allow any day to go by without having the equivalent of 10 whiskies every day of their lives. That we permit this kind of advertising and this kind of seduction of the young is something that passes my comprehension. To me it reeks of a double standard when people of my generation allow that sort of thing without raising a pen in anger yet become outraged when some youngster somewhere is caught having one marihuana cigarette. I am not condoning that, but it seems to me to reek of double standards.
May I briefly mention the question of drug dependence. Too often when we talk about drugs people of my generation immediately think of long-haired young people in T shirts and jeans. We think that the young people have a monopoly on drug addiction. The point is that people of my generation are the drug addicts. We consume the killer drugs of addiction - tobacco and alcohol - far more than the young consume their drugs of addiction. If it is not those, it is analgesics, bro.mureides and barbiturates which Australians pop into their mouths at a terrifying rate to pick them up or put them down. Having said that, hopefully to put it into its proper context may I mention briefly drug dependence. It is not strictly within the terms of this Bill although it certainly impinges upon it. I commend the Minister for enlarging the concept of the Bill to include drug dependence. I have stated that drug addiction is the greatest potential social evil of our time, and I do not resile from that statement.
I share the views of the honourable member for Darling Downs about drug pushers. The drug pusher who is not a user is an evil person who deserves no mercy. As I have said before in this House, the light sentences given to nonuser pushers by the courts pass my comprehension. This is not the cause of the drug problem. The drug pusher does not create drug addicts. He is the vehicle who happens to be there in his miserable dark corner of the capital city, peddling this garbage to hooked young people. The causes of the drug problem go far deeper into the ills of society, and the quicker we realise that the better. But on the question of addiction may I commend to the Minister, and invite him to respond to me in his reply, this aspect: As he knows, late last year as Minister for Customs and Excise I visited the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe to study the methods being employed in those countries to contain the spread of drug abuse. I came back and reported that the policing or the law enforcement technique as practised in the United States particularly had failed, and failed miserably, and in fact was compounding the problem rather than solving it. I commend to my Government the system now in use in the United Kingdom, where drug addiction is regarded as an illness rather than as a crime. If a person who is addicted to one of the addictive drugs reports to a clinic and is accepted as a drug addict he has his drugs prescribed for him at Government expense by the clinician he visits.
I came back and reported to my Government that as far as I could see, although the system in the UK was not perfect, it certainly was making some contribution to containing the growth of drug addiction. Firstly it did not eliminate the street pusher, but it made massive inroads into his infamous business. If a drug addict can have supplied free pure heroin from his local pharmacy, prescribed under medically hygienic conditions, why would he want to walk the streets of Soho to pick up something the purity of which he has no way of testing? In some cases the drugs obtained from street pushers can be quite lethal. An addict going to a doctor in a clinic is at least under medical supervision and not shooting up in the most ghastly circumstances in unbelievable conditions in some crumby little attic with people who have the same unfortunate curse as he has. It seems to me that the United Kingdom system is a system that at least should be explored.
When I came back I reported to my Government that it is dangerous to impact a system which works in the culture of one country straight on to another without investigating the possible basic problems involved. I recommended, and it was accepted by my Government, that a top level team consisting of Government advisers should visit the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, particularly Holland and Denmark, with a view to studying this technique of treating drug addiction. One of the sad facts I learnt was the rate of recidivism of drug addicts even in the clinics in the United Kingdom. I went to one clinic in Kent which I believe is one of the best in the world. The superintendent told me - this is a strange thing for a superintendent of a clinic to say - that he had plenty of money, plenty of equipment, plenty of staff, plenty of everything. There was nothing in a mechanical way he wanted that he did not have, and yet in the 2 years in which he had been operating only 8 per cent of his patients had been cured. Ninety-two per cent of those who had gone through his hands had either committed suicide, taken an overdose of drugs or gone back to their addiction.
Drug addiction is a curse which, once it inflicts itself on a community, in my experience is virtually impossible to eradicate. The Government is taking action in other ways through its Social Welfare Commission under the leadership of Mrs Marie Coleman, to look at the causes of drug addiction. This Bill concerns those who already have it. I would commend the Minister to look at the United Kingdom system and tell us when he responds whether the Government intends investigating the British system with a view to considering its application to Australia. On the understanding that in the Committee stage the Minister will move the amendment that I foreshadow I would resume my seat, saying that I commend the Bill, commend the Minister and pledge the support of the Opposition to this legislation.
– I have much pleasure in supporting this Bill, which is a most important innovation in 2 respects. First of all it portends a break from traditional methods of institutional care for mental illness in that money will be provided exclusively for community health services that are of a non-institutional nature. The other important innovation is that it will be taking the problems of alcoholism and drug dependence away from the area of criminal law. This is in accordance with a recommendation of the Senate select committee which inquired into drug trafficking and drug abuse and presented its report 2i years ago. I regret that no action was taken by the previous Government to implement the Committee’s proposals. In its recommendations under the heading ‘Penalties’ the Committee stated: the futility of imprisoning the truly drug dependent person should be recognised and that every facility for his medical rehabilitation be afforded; only in extreme cases should a measure of compulsory treatment be enforced.
This is one of the most important firsts of the Sax Committee, as it is known, which is the Interim Committee of the national hospitals and health services commission which will become a reality, we expect, in this session of the Parliament. I believe that this very exciting innovation of this Government in setting up that commission will mean that there will be many exciting developments in the field of public health and community health services to follow this measure that we are debating today.
It is most important that we look at the problem of treating mental illness in institutions. One of the most vivid accounts of the problems of treating mental illness in institutions came from an investigative team which gained admission as patients to psychiatric wards by faking symptoms of mild mental disturbance. This team was led by one Dr Winkler, who is a senior lecturer in applied psychology at the University of New South Wales. These people who feigned mental illness went into psychiatric wards to have a look from the inside, to have a look from the public’s point of view at what the situation was like in the mental institutions in New South Wales. Their finding was that Australian psychiatric hospitals mistreat the mentally ill and in many cases cannot tell whether a person is normal. In a newspaper article that appeared on 17 April this year Dr Winkler is reported as saying:
In the old days people used to be manacled by chains. Now the high walls and manacles have been replaced by chemical manacles.
We have found that people with mild symptoms are often given heavy medication - and if they refuse it, they are forcibly given an injection.
That is one point of view and I think the report is probably something of an exaggeration. But there is something in this in that - perhaps it is a problem with the present state of knowledge of psychiatric illness - that there does seem to be an excessive dependence on various types of drugs in treating mental illnesses. There is a paradox in the present situation because on the one hand we are trying to treat people - and a part of this Bill deals with those people - who have a drug dependency, and on the other hand there is treatment going on in certain mental institutions in Australia which to some extent produces problems of drug dependence. So we have this paradoxical situation.
By the provision of community health services we will be able to provide not just the conventional treatment that is available at the present time in the community, which is mainly private psychiatric treatment by specialists who are practising on a fee for service basis, but also a co-ordinated system of community health care, and thus we will be able to integrate the activities of trained social workers in their counselling activities with all the other conventional measures such as group therapy, occupational therapy, drug therapy and other types of treatment where they may be indicated. I believe that once again in the community health centres themselves - that is, those outside the formal institutions - we have a potential problem in that even they can possibly become excessively dominated by people who are orientated solely towards traditional forms of psychiatry. In many cases this may even cause further problems - for example, if it causes dependence on certain types of medication.
At this stage I should like to refer to an article in the ‘Nation Review’ of 3 May of this year by William De Maria who worked in and ran a couple of mental health centres in Sydney. I should like to read a few paragraphs from this article because I think they are important as they indicate how mental health centres should work but how, in some cases, they do not necessarily work as we would like. He wrote:
In my view, the centre has to be an agent of social change. It has to look at the social circumstances behind the breakdown of the people who come to it, and look seriously and critically. It has to take the necessary steps in co-operation with these people to prevent and control these social factors.
He believes that at present it is not happening that way in certain of these centres, in New South Wales at least. He goes on to discuss this aspect and states:
The industry, according to its dominant medical philosophy, has a social contract to segregate, medicate and alienate those who, for a complexity of reasons, have dared to disturb the domestic tranquility. It does not look beyond an accepted and narrow classification of people and it does not look beyond the people who come under this classification.
We should watch out that this type of attitude towards mental health and mental illness does not permeate Australia. The great problem of the so-called psychiatric industry has been referred to in an extensive report entitled ‘The Mental Health Complex’ by Ralph Nader. I think we must ensure that there is not an excessive domination of traditional psychiatric techniques in our community mental health services to the exclusion of other factors which should be looked at when somebody comes with a problem. The social circumstances under which problems arise should be considered.
I believe it is important to note that by this measure money will be allocated for research and evaluation of community health services. If some States are not carrying out the type of research which we believe might be the most productive, the Commonwealth should consider funding its own projects on its own behalf. Among the things that will have to be looked at on the research side is the putting of emphasis on the social background. It is not a question of simply looking at the people who present themselves with mental health problems; we must look at the society that produces such problems. This aspect has been mentioned by previous speakers. The honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) said that often these people, through no fault of their own, present themselves with problems because they are victims of what he called - and I agree entirely with him - a materialistic society. This is just as much a political and philosophical question as it is a medical question. It is my belief that the incidence of mental illness is lower in socialist societies. When I visited China recently with a parliamentary delegation I had some discussion with the Chinese public health officials. It is my belief that an outlook which is far less materialistic in a country like China conduces much less to mental illness than the materialistic, acquisitive society in which we live.
Another aspect at which we should look is the avoidance of excessive formality in our community mental health services. The Minister referred to this in his second reading speech when he said that he did not want them to be starch fronted. I should like now to quote from a report from a body called Youth Line* in South Australia. It runs a telephone counselling service and is seeking to extend its activities into other areas by providing counselling and discussion centres. In referring to some of the traditional services, that organisation in its report said:
However, through our contact with young people through Youth Line’s telephone counselling service, we have become aware of the wide range of concrete needs which traditional services are not meeting within the limitations of their present structures - rigid appointment systems; day services only; the requirement that the young person is ‘motivated’ to receive ‘help’ as defined by the agency - and which cannot be met within the parameters of a telephone counselling service.
It is suggested that we should avoid, as far as possible, having rigid, institutionalised services. This applies particularly in the treatment of drug dependency problems with younger people in the community. Another suggestion in the Youth Line report was that ‘volunteer workers are actually more effective resource people than professionals who have become limited by their roles, which are often defined by the agency for which they work’. I do not know that there is necessarily any advantage in volunteer workers but I think that sometimes there could be. It is not necessary to have professional personnel working in this field. I think they are sometimes restrained by prejudices which arise from their conditioning during their years of formal tertiary education.
One area in particular in this report to which I think we ought to give special consideration is the provision of evening clinics for community health centres because at present there are no real such facilities. It is a practice in the United Kingdom to provide centres of an informal nature which people can attend in the evenings. I am pleased to note that after 1974-75 mental health and related services will be integrated with the total community health care program. It is important also to note that in this respect the introduction of the Government’s national health insurance plan will play a very important role. From the national health insurance income - from the total cake - the Government will enable these community mental health organisations and other community health services to contract with the fund for a certain amount to be paid to provide these types of services. This is a very important matter and it is one other reason why it is absolutely fundamental for the Government to introduce its national health insurance plan. It is not just a question of finance and economics. It is a question of being able to fund, on a equitable basis, the best type of health services that we can get.
Under the present voluntary health scheme it is impossible to fund any services of the type we are debating today because the funds can only pay money for private psychiatric services which are given on a fee for service basis. Under the health insurance plan which the Government seeks to introduce, organisations such as community health centres and mental health centres can contract for a grant to operate a total plan of mental health care. This, of course, will mean a reduced cost of community health centres because these types of bodies can place a heavy emphasis on the preventive aspects whereas the present management for the treatment of mental illness pre.dictates too heavily towards the very problems we are trying to treat, namely, the problems of drug ingestion which in their wake bring other problems of habituation and drug induced disease.
There must be a special place for voluntary agencies. I am thinking particularly of the problems of drug dependency with young people - those who are addicted to the so-called hard drugs, particularly heroin. At present we are depending too much on the formal government agencies. Many drug addicts are frightened to go to these agencies because they fear that they will be thrown into gaol, and that their supply will be withdrawn from them and they will be faced with an acute abstinence syndrome.
Even in my own State of South Australia there appears to be a lack of awareness on the part of the government authorities who are responsible for this area about the incidence of heroin addiction. We should look at why people might be frightened to go to such agencies. I think honourable members would agree that this is one area where encouragement and support should be given to voluntary organisations so that addicts who want treatment - there are many who do want treatment - will not be frightened to seek advice and get the treatment they need. Although I do not think that it is actually a voluntary organisation I should like to refer to a nongovernment organisation which acts in New South Wales and is run by Dr Stella Dalton, whom the Minister for Health was good enough to bring along to meet the Government member’s Health Committee. She is running a program for the treatment with methadone of heroin addicts in Sydney. Without actually going into the mechanics of this treatment, virtually what happens is that methadone is given to these people in large doses, and this prevents them from getting any tangible or noticeable effect from heroin. The result is that they can be weaned completely off heroin for an indefinite period as long as they continue to take methadone.
I know that there are problems with this treatment. It is said that it is replacing one addiction with another. But there are important differences. If the addicts know that they can get their supply they will not turn to crime or drug pushing to get their supply of drugs. There arc 2 further important points about the treatment. One of the things that is most important in the methadone program in Sydney is that the people taking methadone now survive. If one took a cross section of heroin addicts one would find that after any 2-year period of addiction 25 per cent of them are dead. One point about the methadone program is that it has been found that all the people being treated are still alive after 2 years of treatment. This is a tremendously significant factor.
The other point is that a person addicted to methadone, unlike one addicted to heroin, can at least lead a normal life and pursue a job and try to find some sort of meaningful existence. I understand from Dr Dalton that this program has the imprimatur of the New South Wales Government. I should like to look further at this program because if it is as good as it is claimed to be I think that we should consider extending it to other States in Australia. Of course this is only one aspect of our drug dependency problems. Heroin addiction, although it is a very serious problem, is only a very small part of the overall drug addiction problem. The most serious drug problems in our community arise from the much more widely used drugs such as barbiturates, aspirin and alcohol. I believe that in this area it is very important that we provide the necessary community services for the treatment and rehabilitation of people who are addicted to these drugs.
However, I might just mention to the Minister that I believe that it is not just a question of providing rehabilitative treatment to the people in these centres, but I think that there are certain other political actions we can take to try to overcome this problem. For example, in the case of aspirin, I cannot see any reason why we should permit the continuation of the advertising of aspirin in the media. I also cannot see why we should allow aspirin to be peddled in supermarkets. I believe that if its sale were confined to pharmacies, at least then there would be a person selling the drug who could tell a person who keeps coming to buy aspirin preparations that aspirin tablets are not lollies and that taken over a long period of time aspirin can cause serious problems. I also think that we should take certain political action in regard to barbiturates. When I was a member of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits I recommended to the Committee - it was not adopted by the majority - that there is very little place for the prescription of barbiturates and that they should not be prescribed except in certain circumstances such as the treatment of epilepsy or in general anaesthesia. I really think that we ought to consider preventing the prescription of barbiturates.
I also agree with the statement made previously by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) about the advertising of alcoholic preparations. It seems to me a little paradoxical that we should be allowing this to take place. This comment also applies to other things we are doing, such as expressing great concern if anything happens to affect sales in the wine industry or any other similar industry.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Because of the limitation of time and the need to deal with other parliamentary business I have been asked to cut my submissions down to 10 minutes, and I will do so. But within that 10 minutes I should like to address my remarks to the effect the planned grants will have in South Australia. I commend the Government and I commend the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham). The measures that are outlined in the Bill are long overdue. But in South Australia the Mental Health Services Department has drawn up a program which will move to meet the anticipated appropriation provided under the Bill as it affects South Australia in the current financial year. It has listed 8 projects. They involve, firstly, a large industrial therapy workshop which will be one of the largest expenditures. It will be situated in the Unley-South Road area of Adelaide. It will simulate a working atmosphere and patients will be transported particularly from Glenside Hospital to the workshop.
The Department envisages having a workshop in the community which will readily fill a large gap in the community services. A broad group of outpatients and inpatients who are retarded or suffering from a psychiatric disorder land are mainly unable to work at a sheltered workshop level will be treated. It will provide work which will fit the ability and social competence of the patients who work therein. The Department is trying to set up a work situation approximating normal conditions and will bring ex-patients and mentally handicapped people to the workshop and give them some form of training. The second project is the Invicta Organisation, which is a non-profit organisation, involving therapy workshops. There are 5 centres currently functioning; one in Strathmont. one at Hillcrest, one at Norwood and 2 at Glenside. The hospitals arrange various contracts for work to be done in this type of industrial therapy workshop. Moneys must go directly to the people working in the workshops. It is hoped to accommodate up to 100 patients in such a workshop.
This program also fills a large gap in our community services at the moment. The course is to commence in 1974. It involves a mental health visitors course to commence next year. This is to train workers in assisting ex-patients who have been returned to the community and to give them the necessary support. It involves a training course of some 6 months; 3 months theoretical or academic training and 3 months practical training. While training the people work under a social worker. Their job is to work in the home with the ex-patients and to keep them there. If the rules are broken the ex-patients must return to the hospital. There are 12 to 13 people engaged in such a course, and it provides for the extension of an existing service.
The third project is the Northcote Hostel for the intellectually retarded. It is situated on a large property at Grange in South Australia. It is designed to accommodate intellectually retarded patients who live in the community and whose parents for some reason or other need a holiday or some form of relief. It is very trying for parents to manage as in some cases patients are physically as well as mentally retarded. The hostel will accommodate up to 20 people and will in turn relieve a new hospital, Strathmont Training Centre, and reduce its waiting list. It will use some accommodation now available to relieve parents for holidays, giving very valuable community services to the parents of intellectually retarded people who are living at home at the moment. The cost of the hostel involves both property and equipment. The fourth project is alcoholic outpatients referral clinics. These will involve heavy expenditure for the Department. They will be available for anyone with an alcoholic problem who can attend on a walk-in basis and can also be used by the courts when dealing with alcoholics so that the courts can direct the alcoholics to this type of clinic.
The fifth project involves a 20-bed hostel which is the intellectually retarded section at Ru-Rua Hospital in North Adelaide. It will be similar to the Northcote homes except that it will place people from Strathmont into the community. The people in the hostel will get community living conditions as against institutional living conditions. There is a definite need at the moment in South Australia for this type of hospital. There are already some very successful hospitals of this type. Some provide a home environment but there is a need for more Of them. The sixth project is Archway Port, which is at Port Adelaide. It is an alcoholic rehabilitation centre and is really to provide- an improved service in the Port Adelaide district. Patients can live in or can attend on a day basis. The idea is to effect improvements so that we can extend the service in that area.
The seventh project is the District Mental Health Clinic which will involve a behaviour therapy unit at Port Adelaide. This is the type of centre which will be under a psychiatrist and a psychologist, where people can walk in off the street to be given assistance, support or even treatment on an out-patient basis. Those people who are in charge of the clinic will go into the difficult behavioural problems such as sexual behaviour, child behaviour and people acting up- the aggressive types. People may attend on a sessional basis or daily basis, depending on the degree of their problem. The eighth project is the Day Centre at Christies Beach. The centre includes an intellectually retarded section. This is the type of centre where children under school age who are intellectually retarded may receive toilet training and training in eating and playing. This training is aimed at allowing children to attend a special school when they are of school going age. The centre is somewhat similar to a kindergarten. It will consist of a house with rooms set up for the various types of training and the children will be able to become used to the various types of discipline. The Education Department in South Australia accepts responsibility for these children at school age,, but it will not accept them unless they are toilet trained. This centre will be set up to train children in this regard. The reason for suggesting that the Day Centre be established at Christies Beach is because this area being developed south of Adelaide will encompass a high density population in the very near future,
I point out to the Minister that although South Australia’s share of the appropriation may be $x, a program has to be designed for a greater cost because the State may not be able to follow up this program. For example, South Australia may not be able to get a 20- bed hospital. Therefore it is rather urgent that South Australia should get an allocation as quickly as possible. I understand that the Minister has already allocated a grant to Queensland and Western Australia. Therefore I ask the Minister to give urgent consideration to making an early announcement on an appropriation of funds for the South Australian
Mental Health Services Department. I have discussed this matter with officers of the Mental Health Services Department in South Australia. They are delighted with the proposals which are set out in the Bill. As I understand it, the Bill will enable this Department for the first time to proceed with much needed community work which it would be impossible to undertake on a State basis at the moment. In conclusion I should like to pay a tribute to the Government and to the Minister for introducing this measure which will provide a tremendous incentive and will do much on a community basis for the thousands of unfortunate people who over the years have to some extent been neglected. I support the Bill.
– in reply - I briefly want to thank all the participants in this debate, particularly for their support of this measure. Before going any further I think I should mention that I have drafted an amendment as a revision of the amendment that was foreshadowed by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp).
The points which were raised during the debate and to which I wish to draw particular attention are roughly these: The honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) asked what the Government’s attitude was to drug pushers. I do not think it is appropriate to go into great detail on this matter because this is not the place for a discussion of that legislation. It is more the concern of the law enforcement authorities, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, the Department of Customs and Excise and so on. Briefly, our attitude has been indicated in debates which were held during the time the previous Government held office. Our attitude roughly is that where a person is pushing drugs because he has a drug problem, because it is a means of obtaining drugs or getting money to obtain drugs, the primary emphasis ought to be on his treatment and not on his punishment. I believe that the law enforcement authorities, along with those who are concerned with the treatment of drug addicts, are increasingly coming to this point of view. Discussions are continuing between officers of my Department and other departments and also between the Ministers concerned to work out a more enlightened formula for applying penalties which, I would point out, we are certainly not moving to reduce. There is a case for increasing penalties in respect of the big merciless and ruthless operator.
I cannot go along entirely with the words of the honourable member for Hotham who said that the drug pusher is not - I think he said this - the cause of drug addiction. That statement is correct as far as it goes, but I think we have to realise that there are some people who are experts at making big money by encouraging the person who is liable to take up drugs and by making addicts out of people in subtle and clever ways. In my view strong penalties are appropriate in these cases. The honourable member for Darling Downs spoke also of the dignity of labour and its importance in the rehabilitation of drug addicts. But the honourable member was rather unsympathetic when he came to consider industrial action that has been engaged in by nurses working in mental homes. Several speakers have pointed out the rather dehumanising effects on patients of the traditional mental hospital. I would point out that it also has considerable dehumanising effects on those who work in those hospitals as I did myself for some years in what we now call the bad old days, although we were proud of our enlightenment compared with earlier days. I have no doubt that in another 25 years we will refer to the stage of enlightenment now apparent in mental hospitals as the bad old days.
The honourable member for Darling Downs spoke of a sinister attitude on the part of unions. I would say that members of these unions are victims of a system, every bit as much as the patients they treat and every bit as much as the psychiatrists who are trained to work within the system which society bred before there were such things as psychiatrists. They are victims, as much as every one of us who suffers from ignorance of these problems and particularly of the social causes which have been mentioned many times in this debate. Until we are aware of those social causes, until we can begin to roll them back instead of having them roll on as they are, increasing the burden of mental illness in the community, until we can reverse that position and until we know enough about society and the causes of mental illness, I do not think it is worthy of us to be pointing the finger of accusation at the insensitiveness of unions or anyone else engaged in this field. We are all guilty. We all ought to be co-operating with these people who work in the field of mental health and who have led the way to enlightenment. Never let us forget, in spite of all the bad things that have been said about mental hospitals, that it is basically the psychiatrists and the nurses who work in these hospitals who have led the movement for reform and reformed attitudes and eventually awakened the public conscience in these matters.
The honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) referred to a specific clinic - the St Stephens Clinic - which has been set up in his electorate at East Ringwood. The honourable member envisaged a team of personnel including psychiatrists, psychologists and a social worker. In this context I would point out that it is perhaps time to be bringing into some of these centres - not necessarily the one at Ringwood but at some centres - the psychiatric nurse. They have to be brought out from behind the high stone walls and the dark damp buildings, just as the patients have to be brought out. They have a wealth of humanity, understanding and experience that can be useful in prevention just as it is in their rehabilitation work inside mental hospitals. They offer a dedicated reservoir of people who will help us considerably in setting up rehabilitation and preventive services.
The honourable member for Hotham spoke of the menace of alcohol and the official statements which bear on this problem. He mentioned that the World Health Organisation classifies it as the fourth public health problem. It is probably higher than fourth in the more affluent countries. The honourable member called it the greatest killer drug of addiction, and asked why the Government continues to allow these drugs - alcohol and tobacco particularly - to be advertised on television and radio and in newspapers. In a rather resigned way he seemed to think that this was part of the scheme of things about which we could do very little. He cited an example of the advertising of a beverage for the young and explained how he felt that this also was enticing people to believe that they could not be happy unless they had this particular beverage. Of course, the Government has moved to phase out cigarette advertising - cigarettes are the most dangerous form of smoking - over the next 3 years on television and radio over which this Parliament is supreme. The Constitution gives us the power to regulate completely advertising in those fields. The Constitution does not give us the power to regulate advertising in the other media.
However, the Government has made some moves towards laying down guidelines on a proper ethical standard of advertising for therapeutic goods. This has been discussed in great detail by the National Therapeutic Goods Committee on which State governments as well as the Australian Government are represented. Because of the pressure of time I will not be able to state in detail some of these measures. Suffice to say that they are aimed at preventing misleading advertising and ensuring that the advertising of therapeutic goods should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The whole truth includes the side effects of drugs, the precautions that should be observed in administering them, the contra indications with particular reference to dosage regimes during pregnancy and so on. At present these matters are not observed by reputable medical journals advertising to the medical profession. They are not observed by magazines which adhere to the existing advertising code. Incidentally, no State has moved to my knowledge to enforce this code. It is a purely voluntary code and there are several fairly large magazines which do not really observe it. When they do, they refer to officers of my Department who advise them on what is acceptable.
A lot more remains to be done. A lot more can be done if there is goodwill among the States but it seems that this will not happen. It appears that there are some States which, perhaps because of their political philosophy or timidity or whatever, are inhibited about bringing in these restrictions. Perhaps they feel that they are in some way encroaching on personal freedoms and therefore are not willing to be tough. They will have to face up eventually to the reality that there is a responsibility on governments to restrict what I will call brainwashing through advertising and to take some action to protect the consumer against misleading advertising. Moves like those that Ralph Nader has made are awakening governments to their responsibilities in this regard. The honourable member for Hotham also asked me for the Government’s attitude to his proposal to adopt the United Kingdom method of dealing with addicts rather than the law enforcement approach which is prominent in the United States of
America. This is not on easy question for me to answer yes or no. It is not a black and white issue. It is true that in the United Kingdom availability of drugs to addicts through legally prescribed avenues has helped to get away from the punitive approach which probably is counter-productive. The only major aspect of the United Kingdom approach that seems to be favoured by most drug authorities is the methadone blockade approach mentioned by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun). That is already being funded and assisted by governments in Australia. Generally the scheme, as described by the honourable member, has been in force in Queensland for as long as I can remember. A morphine addict, for example, if he registers and reports can be assigned to a doctor and a pharmacist and can get his supplies regularly so that the motivation to break and enter chemists shops and doctors cars or in other ways to get into trouble with the law in order to obtain supplies is removed.
– The methadone treatment does not help all addicts, does it?
– No. Methadone blockade is helpful only to addicts to the opiate drugs, pethedine and so on. The honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) asked that sympathy be shown to the special program problems in South Australia. I assure him that this will be done, and I hope that in the near future we will be able to announce a substantial acceptance of the proposals by the South Australian Government. I commend the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– Clause 6 reads:
– The Opposition accepts this amendment because it is virtually the amendment first mooted by the Opposition put into slightly different language by the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham).
Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Dr Everingham) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 2818).
– The Opposition does not oppose this measure. I choose those words quite dedeliberately because there is a difference between not opposing and positively supporting. This would not have been our preferred method of supporting students at different levels of education. I think that that is clear from the policies that we supported when we were in government. Indeed, I think that our attitude would be not dissimilar from that which was expressed by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), who unfortunately is indisposed at the moment, when he was interviewed by one or other of the universities during the course of last year.
The main thrust of this legislation is to change quite dramatically the basis on which support is given to students. As the House knows, fees are being abolished at tertiary institutions and this Bill gives effect to mechanisms that enable the Government’s policy to be put into effect. It is repealing the provision for the old Scholarships Board. This is necessary. It was something which had to happen in any case. Members of the Scholarships Board served previous governments and myself well when I was Minister for Education on earlier occasions, and I should like to pay recognition to the work done by various members of the. Board over a long period of years. I think the Board has given very valuable assistance to the government of the day on the basis of support for students at different levels and I always detected in the judgments and attitudes of the Board a wish to lean in favour of the student and not in favour of some doctrinaire approach which might have penalised individual students. I believe that is very much to the Board’s credit.
As the Minister indicated, the purpose of this Bill is to provide a legislative basis for the senior secondary scholarships scheme, postgraduate awards and the tertiary education assistance scheme. There are some transitional arrangements which quite obviously must prevail as the scholarships schemes proper run down and the tertiary education assistance scheme takes over. I am sure that the Minister will see fit - not that the Department will need any pressing - to make sure that no students are penalised as a result of any transitional arrangements that might be introduced. I should like the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), who is acting for the Minister for Education during this debate, to describe if he can - I think that a statement was made earlier about this - the details of the support that will be available for students when the senior secondary scholarships scheme runs down. Our understanding is that the Government is to provide living allowances on a different basis, that they will not be provided on any basis of scholarship but purely on the basis of family income. I would be grateful if the Minister for the Capital Territory could provide details of that provision and how the new processes will work at the senior secondary level.
Since, with one or two minor exceptions, the payment of fees is removed from the ambit of student assistance in the tertiary area by the Government’s decision to abolish fees, I would be grateful if the Minister could also let the House know the arrangements or the need for consideration of such matters as the student’s academic progress in addition to the level of assistance for living or other allowances. I am referring to page 3 of the printed copy of the Minister’s second reading speech. I would have thought that on the basis of payment of living allowance to people in universities the matter to be assessed is really the basis of the family income - the nature of the means test - and therefore whether or not a particular student ought to be paid an allowance under the scheme. Therefore, what place has academic progress in the payment of a living allowance based on family income? When under the previous scheme we were paying fees for scholarship winners it was I think reasonable to look at academic progress to make sure that students progressed at a reasonable rate through universities and to use that as a judgment of continued payment of fees. Obviously, it would not have been sense to pay the fees of students who were making no progress in the universities. But in any case there are going to be mechanisms for judging the basis of academic progress and this is related to the living allowances and the payment of living allowances. Can the Minister explain the relationship between the two and how the Government envisages the procedures working?
I support strongly the decision of the Government to provide student assistance review tribunals. This is something that I had in mind because I found, as the present Minister no doubt finds, that the Minister was becoming the last court of appeal. Technically, the Scholarships Board should have been the last court of appeal but there was provision for an appeal to the Minister over and above the Board and it was possible technically for the Minister to overrule a decision of the Scholarships Board. I have no doubt that occasionally this happened and happens because different people in looking at the problems of a particular student will give a different weight to a number of the matters which must be taken into account and put into balance in making a judgment as to whether allowances or fees should continue to be paid. But to have a review tribunal which is independent of the Department and which is clearly the last court of appeal is the proper approach to adopt to these matters, because reviewing some hundreds and, indeed, thousands of individual circumstances is not a practical task for the Minister. It is proper that the proposals suggested by the Government be adopted.
I would only suggest that in practice - it is not the Opposition’s intention to move amendments in this area - the time scales that have been allowed before a decision can be reviewed and placed before a tribunal might well be too long. As I understand the arrangements, half an academic year could pass before a review could get to a tribunal and the decision might well determine whether or not a student can stay at a university, a college or a techni cal college. I stress the need to make arrangements that would enable these matters to be examined quickly. There is of course a problem in all of this because, largely, these decisions are all made at the end of one academic year in preparation for the next year and if there are tens of thousands of students on scholarships, as it were, or on living allowances, as it will be, with no fees being needed to be paid because they are being abolished, there is a rush of work over a few weeks of the year. Obviously there is very great difficulty in having the manpower and the capacity to make the decisions and review the appeals in a short space of time. There could be a great deal of hardship for individual students if there is a considerable delay in these matters and I would hope that the Department and the review tribunals will do what they can to speed up those processes. I should also like the Government to reconsider the time scales involved, as I have indicated, in relation to the tribunal review procedures. I think that the time scales put down in the Bill might well spread the whole business out too long and too far.
There is one other area in which I believe a category of students will be worse off under the new arrangements than under the old system. Since this category of students is very much in the Australian tradition, I would again ask the Government to review these matters to make sure that no student will be worse off as a result of the decisions that are being made. I am referring to part time students. At present part time students who have scholarships will have their fees paid for them. They would not receive the living allowance because the living allowance is paid to full time students only. Under the new arrangements, the living allowance will not be available to part time students, because as part time students they do not qualify for that allowance. Therefore, as they cannot qualify for the living allowance, they will be worse off because under the old arrangements the payment of fees included the payment of sports fees and union fees. The Government will not pay sports fees and union fees as part of the normal process of an abolition of fees but it will give living allowance holders $100 in ancillary or auxiliary allowances out of which sports fees, union fees and incidentals of that kind can be covered. But under the old arrangements these fees would have been covered in the general scholarship arrangements to pay all fees. Under the new arrangements, as the part time students are not eligible for the living allowance, they will not be eligible for the auxiliary or ancillary allowance which will cover sports fees and, therefore, they will be disadvantaged when compared with part time students operating under the old arrangements.
– Of course, present part time students will not be affected.
– I think it will also affect all future part time students.
– Perhaps, but not current part time students.
– No, because we are told that people who have a benefit will not lose that benefit. I am concerned that part time students should not be discouraged. This avenue of study through university is very important for people who, for a whole variety of reasons, are unable to pass through a university or college in the normal course of events. After all, this is one of the reasons why the present Government sponsored the prospects of an open university, not perhaps realising the extent to which the Universities of New England and Macquarie already were providing and leading the way in these sorts of external studies.
– For students who are resident in New South Wales.
– I know, but those universities have demonstrated how these matters ought to be done in other States.
– But it covers only one State.
– Yes, but the point is that the authorities in the United Kingdom had to send people out to the New England and Macquarie universities to see how to run this kind of course for their open university. I believe that these 2 universities are in the forefront of the world in this area.
It ought also to be noted that in the decisions made by the Victorian Government there was to be a decentralised country university in that State. It is sorely needed. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), who is sitting at the table, would agree, I am sure, even though he represents a metropolitan seat and even though a committee commissioned by this Government, without consultation with Victoria, said that the fourth Victorian university ought to be in the Dandenongs, a suburb of Melbourne, instead of in decentralised country areas, which had been the decision of the Victorian Government. That fourth university, on the basis agreed by the Victorian Govern ment, was to concentrate quite specifically on external students who were unable to attend university on either a full time basis or a part time basis. This would have been for Victoria filling a gap which has been present in the Victorian university system, which 1 have publicly acknowledged on a number of occasions and which, as Minister for Education and Science, I sought to have something done about. At one time, the Universities Commission offered one or other of Melbourne’s universities additional funds if the university concerned was prepared to run external studies, but the existing universities were not prepared to do so. The Victorian Government had solved that problem by decisions it had made. But this Government, which is now responsible for financing tertiary education, has been, as far as I am aware, very silent on this Victorian proposal.
Be that as it may - I apologise to the House for that slight diversion from the main subject of this debate and the legislation - the position of part time students is one which ought not to be prejudiced by this legislation. I would believe that it was not the Government’s intention to prejudice either existing part time students, whose rights are safeguarded, or future part time students. The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is not present and I understand that he will not be back this week. I ask the Government after this legislation leaves this House to hold up its introduction in the Senate so that the Minister might study it again and might cause to have moved in the Senate amendments which would cover the position of part time students so that they would not be penalised in the way that I have indicated.
The only other point that I wish to mention is the philosophical one which concerns the proposed method of assisting students as opposed to the method that we had adopted and expanded over a long period. Our method for scholarship holders, as the House knows, was to pay all fees and to pay the living allowance for those who came within a family quired for education, despite what this Government would argue that its proposal provides greater support. I have pointed out that to a part time student it does not; it will provide less support. But also, it is very doubtful whether people will get to university under these new arrangements whereas they were not able to attend universities under the old arrangement. If that is so the abolition of fees is a reasonably expensive educational cost. The millions required could have been spent on many other areas where funds are still required for education, despite what this Government has done. I doubt very much that the Government will be able to show any specific benefits or to demonstrate that people who were unable to attend a university under the old arrangements can now do so. If that is so, the $16m or $20m in payments for fees, which is the cost of fees alone without any account being taken of living allowances, is an additional educational expenditure without any consequent advantage. If my memory is correct, the National Association of Australian University Students changed its policy on these matters because this point was recognised. Also, some academic studies on the subject indicate that the abolition of fees would not be a progressive move in education. Rather, it would be regressive and would take funds out of the educational area which could otherwise and should otherwise have been spent for and on behalf of education in one form or another.
But the reason why the Government’s proposal is unlikely to help additional people to attend university is that there were many students who did go through university on the living allowance alone available to them. For the students of low family incomes, the living allowance will still be the only funds available to them to get through university. The likelihood under the old arrangements would be that a student would gain a scholarship, go to university and qualify for the living allowance. Under these arrangements, if the family income is sufficiently inadequate a student will qualify for the living allowance, again very much on the same basis as before. The allowance has been increased and altered only in response to the changes caused by inflation. I do not think that the living allowance now proposed is more generous than it was. On that basis, students still will not have available to them additional resources that they would not have received under the old arrangements. So, for low income families, the difficulties of the passage through university of their children will, I think, be just as hard and just as great. It may be that it is difficult to tackle this specific problem, but I doubt whether the Government’s objective of providing assistance to families or individual students who would not have been able to receive such help under the previous scheme will be achieved by this legislation.
I have indicated that the Opposition does not oppose this legislation. We will watch closely to see how it works. I applaud the decision to establish the review tribunals. I think that is a very significant advance. But I would like the Minister for the Capital Territory to answer the questions I have raised concerning the review tribunals, and the other questions which I have asked about student assistance. I think we all recognise that, in a day when an increasing number of students are seeking to stay for the full period of secondary education and when more students - not just in terms of numbers but as a proportion of the relevant age groups - are seeking opportunities for higher education in a variety of forms, additional student assistance from governments will be inevitable and necessary. To that extent what the Government is doing, or seeking to do, in this area is a natural and logical consequence of the increased student assistance which I hope the Minister will recognise was provided by the previous Government during its last 4 or 5 years of office.
– This Bill is one of a number of Bills dealing with education that have been before the House in recent times. A number of others are predicted for the near future. One of the problems in debating a Bill of this nature is that so many of the Bills are interlocked and integrated that one feels some restrictions in debating them. In regard to this Bill, I feel that the previous speaker, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), may have felt that I was being antagonistic to his remarks about part time students. Far from it. For once I found myself with a great deal of sympathy in what the honourable member for Wannon was saying. I have had experience as a part time student at both the Melbourne and Monash universities so I know some of the difficulties there. It is obvious from this legislation that any benefits part time students are receiving at the moment will be preserved. But I agree with the honourable member that there is a real need for perhaps not only a re-look but also a re-thinking of the position of part time students in the future.
In his illustration he indicated that we might well be looking at two different groups. We might be looking at the problems and the needs of the part time student who physically attends the university for his part time studies. The honourable member then raised the question of the part time student who is doing external studies. He mentioned the University of New England. I recently cast a speculative eye on the range of subjects offered by the University of New England. Unfortunately, there are residential restrictions on external studies. The opportunity for external studies is rather limited in this community. I do not intend to proceed with much comment on this matter but I agree with the honourable member that there is a real reason for having another look at this question of the part time students physically attending university and also those doing external studies, and the question of the open university not being the only institution but a supporting institution.
This piece of legislation clearly deals with 3 groups of assistance - the senior secondary scholarships, the tertiary education assistance and the postgraduate awards. It provides for a mechanism of review of awards in appropriate cases. It preserves the rights of present scholarship holders. With regard to the postgraduate awards, this section is to be commended because of the increasing tendency in today’s society for postgraduate studies to be carried on to a greater extent. Whereas, say, 25 years ago it was an achievement to gain a master’s degree, now a master’s degree is considered to be just an ordinary degree and the degree of doctor of philosophy is almost considered to be the most significant postgraduate degree. Some 25 years ago awards of that nature were scarce. They were given by various bodies such as the National Health and Medical Research Council for postgraduate work and they were rather meagre in amount. It is pleasing that the proposed award system will be set up. I raise one query whether we would not be wise in considering that such postgraduate awards should not also be widely applicable for Australian postgraduate students to use in other countries at other institutions where it was appropriate to do so.
With regard to tertiary education assistance, a major change is occurring with the Commonwealth accepting responsibility for fees at tertiary institutions. Of course, this will bring a new approach where, provided the student can be admitted to one of the tertiary institutions - the opportunities are increasing as time goes by - according to a means test he will be able to receive a living allowance. One of the other factors that was illustrated in the second reading speech of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) was that it will not necessarily be only the formal tertiary education as we have understood it in the past that will be covered. Indeed, he mentioned special courses such as the medical records librarianship course and the Australian Ballet School course. It may well be in the future that we will have to define some of these matters very clearly. There has been a great tendency overseas in the training of nurses, for example, to shift from the traditional tertiary training of nurses - if we consider it tertiary training, and I do - in hospitals to the double stream where some of the nurses are trained totally in the hospital environment and others are trained in a degree course in the particular nursing subject. There are some arguments about whether this is a desirable development. The fact is that it is very real in other countries. We may well have to face up to this shortly and have to consider not only ballet students and medical records librarians but other groups as well.
It is largely on the senior secondary scholarships that I would like to speak. It is obvious from the Minister’s remarks that there is to be an increase in the number of scholarships. He mentioned that 48,000 scholarship holders will be involved. This has to be considered in conjunction with the legislation that he proposes for students to receive benefits under the Government’s new secondary allowances scheme. When one looks at this field one becomes rather confused. With these measures I doubt whether we will make any great fundamental impact upon the inequalities that are already inherent in our educational and social systems, so we should not expect too much of them. Other measures will deal with these inequalities that are inherent in our system. I think that all honourable members have studied the Karmel Committee report very thoroughly and know the measures that are proposed there to try to reduce the fundamental inequalities that exist. So we see this type of assistance as purely ancillary. I think we ought to remind ourselves that the problem with the senior secondary scholarships scheme was the number of disadvantages it introduced. In general it provided financial assistance for secondary education to those families least in need of such assistance. Probably such a scheme has an adverse effect on the motivation and aspirations of able secondary school students who fail to obtain such a scholarship. It fail: to achieve its stated objective, which is to encourage students who may otherwise not have done so to complete their secondary education.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was referring to experience with the secondary scholarship scheme in the past. I think that there are further matters that should be noted about that scheme. For example, the awards under the scheme number about one-eighth of the grade 10 enrolments. (Quorum formed.) I thank the lonely Country Party member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) for his assistance in calling a quorum. In referring to some of the other disadvantages in the past of the Commonwealth secondary scholarship scheme I was referring to the fact that the awards number about one-eighth of the grade 10 enrolments. Being on a competitive basis, they carried with them the implication that those who did not win a scholarship had somehow failed, with the result that some were discouraged from continuing secondary education - a contradiction of the intent of the scheme. There is also evidence that only a small proportion of winners was influenced to continue secondary education as a consequence of obtaining a scholarship. The disproportionate number of scholarships per enrolment won by children in independent, nonRoman Catholic schools has helped to develop a feeling in the community that this element of government aid enlarged rather than reduced the gap between privileged and underprivileged students which already existed in our schools. This feeling is now so strong that no action such as the increase in the number of awards is likely to have any impact. It also needs to be recognised that on average students from high income or higher status families will stay longer at school and perform better on tests of scholastic achievement. Therefore any scheme of assistance based on scholastic ability will favour those who are already advantaged.
While I appreciate the steps taken in the Bill I believe that the further expansion of assistance to students in the secondary system of schools will need to be free from the complications of the secondary school scholarship scheme and its long and divisive history. Even through greater accent will be on the student receiving benefits under the Government’s new secondary allowance scheme, as I mentioned earlier, other measures will be needed to reduce the inequalities that exist in our system at present. On a previous occasion I referred to the reading abilities of students in a high school in my electorate. That same school has run a literacy survey during this year. The tests applied were the Gapadol reading comprehension test of the Australian Council of Educational Research, which was administered to forms 1 to 4; a standard essay, which was set for forms 3 and 4; a word recognition test to substantiate results of the first 2 tests, followed by a general discussion and criticism of these tests as they were applied. A substantial number of students experienced reading difficulties. Their reading age is substantially lower than their chronological age. Unfortunately, when I raised this matter on another occasion honourable members opposite used the occasion to attack the teachers in the schools instead of realising that it was the action taken by the teachers that was showing up the difficulties. In this survey it was shown that 37 per cent of students in form 1, 34 per cent in form 2, 38 per cent in form 3 and 39 per cent in form 4 needed remedial instruction. A large number of students with reading difficulties were of migrant origin. There was no co-relation between reading age and writing skills. There was little stimulation provided for advanced readers, and many students were unable to cope with formal instruction. They were little affected by this instruction and they were apparently alienated from formal class instruction.
I think it should be realised that one of the problems in our schools at the moment is the large class sizes and the heterogeneous grouping of classes with a wide ability range. It is difficult to cater for the ability level of all students, hence there is a high probability of student failure. This becomes a reinforcement of the students’ sense of inadequacy and effectively becomes a barrier to learning, since the experience is always essentially negative and destructive of the students’ self image. Hence we get a resentment response in many students. The alienation response in more able students occurs because they lack sufficient stimulation in this type of situation, hence they must attempt to generate their own motivation or face boredom. Unfortunately boredom appears to be a common response. More importantly, these students are not realising their full potential.
I appreciate the steps that are being taken in this legislation. It will assist and will give an opportunity to many students to continue their education, but I think we also have a responsibility to realise that the other steps that are being taken will make far more impact in correcting the inequalities that exist in our education system. Happily, I believe that the Minister for Education, in the Bills that he has introduced to this Parliament and the Bills he has predicted for the future, has shown that he realises that we have the situation I have described. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), who is sitting at the table, not only has had considerable experience as a teacher and a parliamentarian but has had the community interest in the schools in his constituency at heart and has probably seen in the schools in his own electorate some of the factors I have raised. I know he has spoken about them. I know he is conscious of them and I know he will work to see that other means are used to correct them. So while we have at the Australian Government level this consciousness of the needs, while we are prepared to accept that this type of student assistance legislation plays a role in encouraging education, we do not see this legislation as a panacea to correct educational problems. One can only hope that the State Ministers for Education, particularly if I may say so the Minister for Education in my own State of Victoria, will accept the assistance that is offered through this scheme and also through many of the other schemes and proposals that arise from the Karmel report. It is to be hoped that they will accept the assistance and apply it properly. That may be a pious hope in some instances but certainly this Parliament should be a watchdog in that area and should raise these matters constantly so that the public and the parents of these children are aware of what can and should be done.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill and, indeed, would agree with many of the sentiments expressed by the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) who made the point that other steps in the education area will have far more impact than much which is proposed in the Bill. He said that the Bill is no panacea. One does not need to be a Freud to know of the importance of the early years of life. This is particularly true in the area of education. The Bill, of course, is concerned with adults or with those almost at the end of their education. The Opposition commends the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) because there is much that is good in the Bill. I particularly like the fact that the procedures in the Bill generally are flexible. They are not so in all cases but in most. The Bill leaves a great deal to regulations. This, I suppose, is a necessary consequence of a flexible arrangement. The fact that so much is left to regulations is a danger which we must watch because it will mean that we are much less likely to have brought to our notice measures which might be of considerable importance and which it may take years to discover.
In this Bill there is little that is inconsistent with the approach of previous Liberal governments to the financing of higher education. In some areas the Bill goes further, but it is in no way fundamentally inconsistent with our approach. In saying that I am not necessarily praising it, because there are some areas which could be developed. I will dwell upon these presently. This Bill, which provides for the granting of assistance to students at both secondary and tertiary levels is, as honourable members have pointed out, bound up with other Bills for the funding and encouragement of education. In particular this Bill is consequent upon the Government’s abolition of tuition fees. In some ways the abolition of all tuition fees is a worrying step, precisely because of what it suggests about priorities in this area. If all fees are being abolished at some cost to the nation, the sort of assistance that can be given to students who really need assistance is diminished. If we cannot give assistance where and when it is needed and in sufficient quantity really to aid students in need, the whole proposal will be retrograde. We all know that financial need is a major factor in student failure. There is what one might describe as a vicious circle of failure and poverty where a student who is struck by poverty has difficulties with his studies, has to go out and take a part time job and ends up failing one or more subjects and this in turn leads to loss of assistance. It is quite possible under this new scheme that some failures in some subjects could lead to the loss of vital assistance at a point where assistance is most needed. It is of crucial importance that the most able students have help where and when they need it and in sufficient quantity.
The Bill applies to full time students. This is perhaps not unnatural but it is the area in which the Bill leaves most to be desired. There is little doubt that part time students often are those who are in most financial need and who suffer not only from pressing financial need but also from social and domestic strains, from occupational pressures and from all the pressures of life which make studying difficult no matter how keen the student might be. We can see from various studies of the socio-economic background of students that part time students tend to come from lower socio-economic backgrounds than do full time students. We all know that in many cases part time students are the most admirable of students. Among part time students are those who, at an earlier stage of their education, have dropped out and who wish to work their way back to an education. Clearly this is an area which should concern all honourable members. There are those who have been hit by the savagery of quotas, not that I am railing against quotas as such because obviously they are a thing with which we must learn to live. But equally clearly we need to learn to adjust to them and to make provisions for students who are keen to continue on a line of study and who, having failed to meet a quota, can demonstrate by later study that they are worth another try. So often there are people who would be coming back to study in a part time capacity.
There are also those who have been hit by technological change and who wish to develop new and appropriate qualifications for their work. There are also those admirable people who simply wish to understand more of their world and more of themselves and who are driven by an insatiable curiosity which makes for the true scholar. These are all people who are not necessarily helped by this Bill. So often they will be part time students. I think we need to use what imagination and inventiveness we can to find out how we can positively help these people back into the education which they desire and deserve but which social, financial and domestic pressures so often prevent them from getting. As I have said, this Bill does nothing to help in this area.
A good feature of the Bill is that it extends the aid to technical college students. Student assistance to be granted under this Bill will be tenable at teachers colleges. This will have a nice side effect because it should enable students to avoid the bonding system which so many of us feel produces a skewed education pattern. In many cases it produces student teachers who have no true vocation for teaching and deprives them of the sort of education from which they might derive more benefit. This will be a feature of the Bill which could be quite a headache for the Commonwealth, because it will mean considerably added expenditure in the future. One particular feature of the Bill, which has been mentioned by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), I would draw to the attention of the
Minister. On this point we would look for a positive assurance from the Minister. It is that, while at the moment part time students who have a Commonwealth scholarship not only have their tuition fees, examination fees, matriculation fees and degree fees paid but they also have other compulsory fees such as, union fees, library fees, sports fees and nonrefundable laboratory fees paid. The Bill is quite retrograde in that it does not provide for the latter sort of assistance for part time students, being a full time students Bill. So we look to the Government to produce an amendment which would put part time students in precisely the position they are presently in.
The next point I should like to make is that the maximum living allowance provided under this Bill, though not mentioned in the Bill- that is, $1,400 a year for a student living away from home and $850 a year for a student living at home - is clearly inadequate for some students. It is inadequate for those students whose course workload prevents them from working during student vacations and from earning the sort of money which all other students are able to earn during their long vacation. I think particularly of medical students, of honours year students, those with supplementary examinations and in particular of social work students on unpaid placements. This raises another point, and that is that the test which a student who lives away from home has to meet is particularly hard. This has been true for years. This is not a point for which one places the blame on those who have drawn up this Bill. It has been true for years that many students who were at a stage and in the sort of difficulties which more or less demanded that their educational experience would be better if it were pursued away from home, have been prevented from getting assistance because of the stringent conditions which apply for eligibility for a living away from home grant. We all know that there are clearly certain domestic circumstances which simply make study next to impossible for students.
There are also some other points within the Bill that are worthy of mention. Clause 18 (1.) provides:
The Minister may establish one or more Student Assistance Review Tribunals for the purposes of this Act.
I find it odd that the provision refers to one or more. It would seem to me that need dictates that there should clearly be more than one review tribunal because the very essence of the contract will be speed. The Minister rightly has talked about a revolution in access to education. If there is only one central body reviewing decisions, clearly the backlog of work would be enormous and students facing the very difficult question as to whether they will go on to further education in March or April may find that they will not know for many months what their position is. Clearly we hope that there would be tribunals set up not just at one remote spot but that they would be local and flexible.
It is also interesting in the Bill that the tribunal is merely asked to review decisions. It is not asked to make a regular report to the Minister. I seek the Minister’s assurance that he will be in regular receipt of reviews of policy matters from the tribunal so that he will be informed and so that this House can be informed of the particular problems in this area of student finance. The previous Minister for Education, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who spoke earlier, commended the setting up of this tribunal to review decisions made by authorised persons under the Bill. But it seems to me that it is important that the Minister should be in a real sense available as a court of last resort. I do not like the idea of too much independent decision making here because I think if we shove things too much in the periphery of politics the role of the people is that much less significant. It is understandable that Ministers would like to be able to say that they have no responsibility but I believe that though the workload could be great it is important that the ultimate responsibility of the Minister is affirmed. He needs to know precisely what is happening through the course of time.
There is another worrying point in the Bill. Clause 23 (1) (b) provides for a 90-day period before which the tribunal can be requested to make a decision on an appeal. Why on earth this could not have been 21 days or even 14 days, I do not know. It is precisely the point which the Minister made in his second reading speech, that the aim is to provide a revolution in access to education. If students are to be kept hanging around for 3 months from March in a particular year this is hardly revolutionary access to education. A further point I would make is concerned with clause 29 (2) which provides:
The Tribunal may, if it is satisfied that it is desirable to do so . . . direct that proceedings or a part of any proceedings before the Tribunal shall take place in private and may give directions as to the persons who may be present during the whole or any part of the proceedings.
I fully appreciate that there will be occasions when, because of the sensitive personal nature of matters under consideration, those matters might better be dealt with in private. But why it is up to the tribunal and not to the applicant, not to the student, I fail to see. It seems to me that proceedings before review tribunals should, as far as is humanly possible, be open so that everyone can see that justice is being done. I should like to see the Minister give consideration to providing that proceedings may be held in private at the request of the student applicant to the tribunal. I cannot foresee any circumstances in which if he were not keen for this action to be taken, it would necessarily be in the interests of the tribunal for such proceedings to be private.
I have dealt with these matters in detail in the second reading debate in order to save time in the Committee stage of the Bill. The only final point I should like to make is that good and all as it is, flexible and all as it is, we will need to watch the scheme. We will need to see how it works out in practice. There is another significant area which has been untouched by this Bill and that is the area of self help. With so much being expended today by governments on the education of students and in particular in higher education, it may well be appropriate for some form of self help to be involved. There is no question that the students concerned gain very considerably personally as well as the nation gaining because of their studies. We in this Parliament should seriously consider some form of student loan scheme, perhaps arranged with the banks, along the lines which I know had been explored by previous Ministers for Education.
– I rise to support the Bill and to commend the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) and the Government on the initiative demonstrated in this Bill. It provides for a dramatic change in the manner of assistance and in the quantity of assistance for students. Several points were made by the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) and the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). One point in particular concerned the needs of the part time students. I would agree with much of what the honourable members said in regard to part time students. In fact, I can see this group, even at the secondary level, becoming a much more significant group in the future. I believe that it could well be that the very best thing that some students at the 15 or 16-year age level could do would be to leave school and spend several years outside of the school environment. The school system should be flexible enough to allow them to return to school and to continue with their education. Furthermore, I believe that frequently the student would be much the better if he were able to see something of the world outside for 1, 2 or 3 years before embarking on his tertiary education once he has completed his secondary education.
Having said that, I stress that this is an area of which we as a government must be aware and which must be examined closely. As to whether those who hold awards will be disadvantaged as a result of this Bill, I believe that the Minister made it very clear in his second reading speech that no student would be disadvantaged as a result of the introduction of the proposals in the Bill. The purpose of the Bill, as outlined by the Minister, is to provide a legislative basis for the senior secondary scholarship scheme, post graduate awards, and the tertiary education assistance scheme. I propose to deal with two of these matters, namely, the senior scholarship scheme and the tertiary education assistance scheme. This Bill, together with complementary legislation, which gives assistance to students, is part of a conscious and deliberate policy of this Government to produce - these are the Minister’s words - a revolution of access to education. I believe that this objective becomes abundantly clear when we examine the assistance which will be made available under this Bill to students at both the tertiary and the secondary levels.
In terms of the amount of money to be spent on this program, it is proposed to increase considerably the amount provided by the previous Government for student assistance. The estimated cost of the proposals contained in this Bill is S78m. The benefits that will flow from this Bill will affect the lives of an estimated 125,000 students. In addition we have to see assistance being given to students at both the secondary and tertiary levels. Mention has been made already of the fact that fees are to be abolished at the tertiary level. In addition to the assistance that is outlined in this Bill, assistance will be given to the children of low income earners who are in the last 2 years of high school - I propose to say more about this later - to children living in isolated areas, and to Aboriginal children. So I believe that this Bill is another example of the major initiatives that have been taken by this Government in the field of education.
By means of this Student Assistance Bill it is proposed to create better opportunities for students at all levels to have access to education. The effectiveness of the schemes of the previous Government was inhibited, I believe, by the emphasis that was placed on competition. It is true to say that tertiary education could be denied to a student for the sake of several marks which were not gained in the course of the student’s matriculation year. As a government we are serious in our desire to provide equal opportunities for all students so that they may progress to the level of education consistent with their abilities and their aspirations. We are determined to reduce the emphasis on schemes which are based on the ability of the student and his competence to handle examinations - I would say that in many cases this has very little to do with education - and to replace these schemes with schemes in which grants are made to students in accordance with their needs. It has always appeared to me that so many relevant things which should be considered as the criteria in the determination of who should be given assistance by the Commonwealth have not been taken into account. I refer to such things as the motivation of the student and his aspirations. From my experience at tertiary level I would say that although frequently there was never any question about a student’s academic ability he could have failed miserably because of his unsuitability to cope with a new type of situation at the tertiary level.
I will now deal in a little more detail with the tertiary education assistance scheme. The proposals set out in this Bill replace the present Commonwealth university scholarship scheme, the advanced education scholarship scheme and the technical education scholarship scheme. It is impossible to debate the proposed scheme in isolation. As I said earlier, it must be seen against the backdrop of the abolition of students’ fees at the tertiary level. We have made this statement so often that I think we lose somewhat the significance of what it means to individual students who are either at universities or intend to go to tertiary level institutions in the coming year. This move has great significance, and it is against this backdrop that we must look at the present legislation. Under this scheme any student is eligible for a living allowance, subject to a means test of family income. As I said before, the rates of allowance will be raised and the means test will be liberalised. The maximum allowance payable to students living away from home will be $1,400 per annum, an increase of $100 per annum. The allowance payable to students living at home will be increased from the existing rate of $800 to $850 per annum. Also the level of family income at which the maximum allowance can be paid will be lifted from $4,200 to $5,300 per annum.
In addition to these proposals, which represent a significant departure from anything that was done by the previous Government in the 23 years that it had to act in these areas, other types of benefits will be available to those who qualify for tertiary assistance. There will be an incidentals allowance to the value of $100 a year. This will assist students to meet the cost of fees, such as for the Students Representative Council - known as the SRC - various sports fees and out of pocket expenses. In addition travel allowances will be provided for those students who are living away from home which will enable them to make 3 return trips between their home and the institution in which they are enrolled.
I noted that, the honourable member for Chisholm stated that it was his hope that this Bill and schemes similar to this one will lead to the abolition of the iniquitous - that is my word, but I think he would agree with it - bonding system that exists in our universities, certainly in the State that both of us come from, that is, Victoria, in relation to the Department of Education. It would be my sincere hope that assistance such as this - the abolition of fees at the tertiary level and also that the generous living allowances that are provided - will lead to the time when there will not be bonding of students for the teaching services or in any other areas in which it now exists and that there will be genuine competition at the end for people who are suited to becoming teachers. This, as I see it, has often been one of the great failures in that it has been necessary for a person to accept a studentship at a university to enable him to attend the university. These people have served time in the schools for the two, three or four years that are required of them under the bond before moving out into the community. I would hope that those days are near an end.
Under this Bill the senior secondary scholarship scheme replaces the Commonwealth secondary scholarship scheme. It is merely a change of name. The awards remain at the same level of $150 for all winners of awards plus $250 on a means tested basis, making a total of $400 as the maximum allowance. These scholarships, of course, apply in the last 2 years of secondary level. Under this Bill the number of awards in 1974 will be increased to some 48,000 scholarships. The awards under this scheme cannot be looked at in isolation; they must be looked at in conjunction with the foreshadowed legislation whereby assistance will be given to students who come from low income families. The assistance will be during the last 2 years of their secondary education. Honourable members will recall that in the Budget Speech it was outlined that the maximum allowance of $304 would be payable where the adjusted family income did not exceed $3,100 a year.
I must confess to being one who has never been impressed in any way with the old Commonwealth secondary scholarship scheme or for that matter, the senior secondary scholarship scheme that we are speaking of in this debate. There are 2 main reasons why this is so. These awards have been decided on the results of a battery of examinations for which students sit during their fourth year. They are highly competitive examinations. This has been the major determining factor in relation to who should be given these awards. I am quite well aware of the fact that schools have some say and that decisions or recommendations of a school could have some effect, but in the main the scholarship went to the students who had the ability to deal with this particular type of test. I might say that even being able to cope with that particular type of test did not ensure that a person could cope with further education. Certainly the reverse was not true because many students who did not succeed at this sort of examination did extremely well at the matriculation level and at universities.
That is one reason I was not impressed. It is a highly competitive examination. Secondly, there is the belief that I have always held that financial assistance should go to those students who need it most. I do not believe that this is the case with this type of scholarship. If I may speak personally for a moment from my experience, I refer to 2 schools with which I am closely associated, one a high school and the other a fairly exclusive private school in my electorate. At the high school, one in which I taught, a great number of the students came from the homes of families on a low income. In 1972, 190 students sat for the examination. Twelve were awarded scholarships. The second school, which was about four or five miles away, was an exclusive private school. At this school the same number of students sat for the examination, but there was a vast difference in the number who received scholarships. Seventy-six students were awarded scholarships in the private school as against 12 students in the Government school. There was no doubt in my mind at all as to the school at which the need was greatest.
It would seem to be a logical thing that if a government is putting money into allowances for students to assist them in education, the major objective must surely be to help the students to complete the education that is consistent with their ability and their aspirations. This was not the case in the example that I have given to the House. I believe there is ample evidence that can be gained from comparisons that can be made in any electorate in Australia. This is supported by the findings of a survey carried out in 3 cities by the Australian Council for Educational Research. Its findings revealed that only about 3 per cent of the students who won these awards were kept at school as a result of winning them. I would personally hope that this type of financial assistance to secondary students will be phased out after 1974 and that the money that is at present being used for this purpose will be given to students of families on low incomes. This would enable the type of assistance I have been talking about to be given to the needy students, at least in the middle sections of secondary schooling and in time, I would hope, to students at all levels of secondary schooling. As stated at the beginning of my remarks, the aim of this Government is to produce a revolution of access to education. In our student assistance programs we want to remove financial barriers to all students’ educational fulfilment. I believe that this Bill makes a significant contribution to these objectives. I commend the Bill to the House.
– The Opposition and the Australian Country Party support the Bill. Several speakers have dealt with aspects of the Bill with a view to drawing the attention of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) to certain grey areas in the Bill. The honour able member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) drew attention to certain clauses but principally to clause 21 and clause 29 with respect to the discussions that are likely to take place within the tribunal itself. I think that some of the comments and contributions that have been made by speakers on both sides of the House are worthy of consideration, by the Minister. The honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow) claimed that the .Bill was designed to produce a revolution of access to education. I think he has not exaggerated that aspect of the Bill. However, there are other social impediments which rob young people of equal opportunity to education; Many of these have been canvassed but I want to emphasise one aspect not often discussed, that is, the failure of the school system to provide sufficiently diverse opportunities for students not necessarily suited to receive education at a university, a college of advanced education or a teachers college.
For too long educationists have given insufficient emphasis to vocational and technical training in secondary schools. With an overemphasis on university and academic careers, parents and students alike are hopefully looking to universities, colleges of advanced education and teachers colleges as the big career openings for young people. Such an attitude ignores the increasing need for technicians and other skilled tradesmen in our increasingly technological society. There is an urgent need to re-assess the needs of our society and the education opportunities of our young people if we are to provide a fulfilling future for the ever-increasing number of school leavers. There is a need to upgrade the status of our technical colleges to ensure that an increasing stream of suitable students flows into the technical colleges which should provide the widest possible curricula for students. However, this change in direction should begin in high schools long before the higher school certificate level.
Although there is a growing degree of local decision-making with respect to the curricula and general management at the local high school level, there is an even greater need for teachers on the local scene, the parents and the local community generally to play a greater part in determining the subjects available to pupils in high schools. These subjects surely should have some relevance to the local employment opportunities for school leavers. One must assume that equal opportunity does not exist for all students if it is the prime intention of education authorities, parents and others to structure the conduct of schools and the curricula at the schools on the hope that most students strive to enter either a university or some other tertiary institution. Obviously this just cannot happen because the majority of students have neither the aptitude nor the intellectual ability to succeed in these institutions. Far too many students are dropping out at the school certificate level, a great percentage of whom could succeed at technical colleges. The abolition of fees at universities, colleges of advanced education and technical colleges will not in itself make much difference to the opportunities available to our young people if we fail to recognise the aptitude of our students, the diverse abilities of students and the changes brought by the technological age. Until the status of technical colleges is improved by the provision of more finance or. more balanced curricula and the introduction of a full range of pre-employment classes, it is unlikely that there will be in a real sense equal opportunity for our young people.
We could well study the Vocational Training Act 1958 in Japan and its consequences. Extensive provision is made in Japan for close co-ordination between the programs of technical and vocational training by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour, and training organised within industry. In Japan technical education and training for the purposes of developing skilled workers and technicians has been built upon two main pillars, firstly, education at technical schools being under the control of the Minister of Education and, secondly, education at vocational training centres being under the supervision of the Minister of Labour. The trend of national socio-economic development is changing rapidly from the industrial era to the technological era. Increasing provision must be made for vocational training and technical education not only at the latter end of secondary education and after completion of the equivalent of the school certificate but also in the earlier years at high schools.
It is now becoming evident that many students pass through the fifth and sixth forms acquiring a reasonably good education but unfortunately they are not trained for any specific vocation. Therefore, it would appear that at least from the fourth form upwards career courses should have a greater proportion of vocational weighting introduced into the curriculum. It would also appear that there should be a greater involvement by the Department of Labour at Commonwealth and State levels - certainly at the State level - in helping to shape the pattern of education in the future. I in no way detract from the expertise and ability of the Departments of Education which have developed a close relationship with industry over the years. Special emphasis must be given to the needs of young people in country towns if we are to stop the drift to the cities. It appears that although the education system provides a good general education to fourth form, it then becomes very restrictive in its discipline for students who wish to remain in the educational environment but who are not necessarily interested in seeking a university degree, or even sixth form standard for that matter.
I turn my attention to the thousands of school leavers in country areas who will not go to universities, colleges of advanced education or, under the present set up, technical colleges. I turn to those young people who will go into the unskilled labour pools or drift to the cities for jobs and opportunities. Most country towns are similar in many respects, and an example of a reasonably progressive town would be Gunnedah. I mention this in no parochial sense but as the subject of a case study which I have made. Gunnedah could be described as having a service town environment but as a town where industrial growth patterns are not evident with two exceptions, namely, the local abattoir and the re-emerging coal mining industry. In a recent survey conducted at the Gunnedah High School statistics were obtained from the present fourth form students. The children were asked to indicate whether they were certain to remain at school or whether they possibly would remain at school on the completion of their school certificate. The total enrolment in the form was 195. Only 28 boys and 30 girls, a total of 58, said that they were certain to remain. A total of 28, comprising 10 boys and 18 girls, said that they were likely to remain. The total of both categories was 86.
From these figures it becomes evident that 109 of the present fourth form students will leave school at the end of this year. To this number can be added students in the third form who will leave school because of their complete failure throughout the system. Also there are the fifth and sixth formers who will leave school before completing the higher school certificate course. The questions which every socially responsible citizen must ask himself are these: What employment do these 109 students find? What can be done to arrest this movement of approximately 56 per cent of Gunnedah High School fourth form students? In other words, can the system be changed so that these people will be trained to acquire a skill? What are the economics of such an idea? These questions need to be taken into account especially by the State authorities and certainly by the Commonwealth as a result of its involvement in the field of education generally.
I refer now to the concept of a transitional course, and I would like to advance this idea. I have already advanced the idea before the inquiry into technical education and I hope that it will be given due consideration. My concept of a transitional course is one which offers full time instruction for one or two years, which would place students in these courses on a vocational strand of education, the completion of which would provide a student with a certificate of competency in a particular vocation. An obvious criticism of this is the belief that practical experience, that is, job experience, must be associated with employability. There is probably some truth in that belief, but the trend presently developing in education institutions is in the other direction. With the exception of the University of New South Wales, tertiary institutions in New South Wales and in particular colleges of advanced education are supplying the employment market with graduates having no grass roots experience whatsoever. Examples which come to mind are accountancy and management. There appears to be no reason why a young man or woman trained at a school or technical college for one or two years to acquire skills in a particular vocation cannot be as fully competent as a tradesman, technician or clerk after one year of job experience as would be an accountant after one year of job experience following the completion of his academic course. The experience of the United States seems to confirm that premise.
An example of this method is the present procedure of training day secretarial students for one year and then placing them on the employment market. In Gunnedah, such girls are eagerly sought after by employers, who recognise the fact that whilst these girls may have a certificate of proficiency it will probably be a number of months before the girl becomes job experienced. A problem which obviously must be overcome is that of financing these courses. But with the introduction of greater assistance from the Commonwealth Government in the payment of fees for full time courses at universities, technical colleges and so on, this problem would appear to be minimised.
The development of such courses will need to include within the curriculum the introduction of a study of humanities such as the English language, history and the social sciences. This would be an essential part of any of these courses, be they trades, certificates or any other type. One of the criticisms of technical education courses at the present moment is the lack of a well balanced curriculum. It is important to stress that the public must recognise these transitional courses as a satisfactory alternative to the present 5th and 6th form strand in New South Wales and the equivalent in the other States.
Apart from the technical training competency gained from the courses, they must also aid in the social development of young men and women. For too long technical college students have been denied the opportunity to become articulate in anything except the narrow corridor of their particular vocation. Such courses must be developed to provide a well balanced personality as its end product.
At present, the Department of Education in New South Wales offers a number of preemployment courses for those seeking entrance to a skilled trade. The courses provide full time training for students, enabling them to enter employment with some ability in the basic skills of the trade. The courses and their respective colleges are as follows: Bricklaying is taught at Randwick, Wollongong and Newcastle; cookery courses are conducted at East Sydney and Canberra; gypsum plasterboard fixing is taught at Granville; hairdressing is taught at Sydney and Granville; and prenursing courses are conducted at Randwick. Some country colleges also are operating such courses, the selection of the college depending on the demand for a particular course. The point is, however, that the demands on such courses are not particularly apparent because the departments of technical education and the various education authorities have not given sufficient emphasis to these courses in the present high schools system. With the correct approach to parents and high school students, such courses can be seen to be an attractive alternative to the fifth and sixth form strand.
I also firmly believe that more emphasis should be given to such subjects as industrial management, personnel management courses, trade union administration courses and industrial relations. At a time when we are looking for increasing productivity, better industrial relations and better management of labour and resources, more emphasis should be given to special courses at technical colleges in these important areas. It is just as important for management to understand the needs of the work force as it is to mobilise resources for profit. It is just as important for the work force to know what are its entitlements and responsibilities to management as it is for the work force to understand the needs of management. Unfortunately, in New South Wales expenditure on technical education has declined relative to expenditure in other areas of education. This seems to me to be one of the great paradoxes of our time in the field of education. The whole community gets disturbed and upset about industrial chaos, strikes and lack of productivity, but what are we doing in the field of education to try to make our young people more aware of the needs of the work force and the problems of management?
I believe that a lot of our industrial problems and a lot of the division that exists within our community are derived from the failure of the education system to make our young our community are derived from the failure of industry. I believe that this will continue while insufficient emphasis is given to vocational training and technical courses and the importance of technical colleges. While the Australian Country Party supports the abolition of fees at universities, colleges of advanced education and technical colleges, it believes that vocational training and the upgrading of technical colleges will give greater equality of opportunity to the thousands of secondary students with their diverse skills. Let us face it: A very the capacity, the ability nor the desire to attend ing secondary school today will have neither the capacity, the ability nor the desire to attend either a university or a college of advanced education. But in most instances these young people will have technical abilities and qualities which they must have an opportunity to develop. I believe this would be in the best interests of the community at large and that it would overcome a lot of the problems of child delinquency and many of the problems we see around the countryside of young people having to leave their home town for employment in other parts of Australia.
– I have enjoyed this debate on education probably more than any other debate in which I have participated over the last 12 years. It has been a most fruitful and positive debate. It has been most helpful that in general both sides of the House have been in agreement. It would be easy to be tempted into making comments of a Party political nature such as saying: ‘Why did you not do that in the 23 years you were in office?’ However, I should like to forget that tonight because of the positive nature of the debate so far. I find myself very much in agreement with the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), who has just spoken about technical education. As a matter of fact, I spoke last week or the week before on much the same thing. People in Australia must wake up to the fact that more students are undertaking technical education than there are in all other forms of post-secondary education put together. I believe that two years ago, in round figures, 400,000 students were attending full time or part time technical education institutions in this country. I drew attention to the fact that not only is this intimately related to the economic development of the country but also it could be - I was very glad to hear the former Minister say this - a very realistic form of education for these young people. This is a form of education that will motivate people, their interests and their activity much more than the kind of academic education that they would receive in formal secondary education. I agree with the honourable member wholeheartedly on that aspect. Later, I will go into that subject and develop it further.
One of the few matters that was taken up by the Opposition in this debate was the subject of part time students and how they could be disadvantaged by the provisions of this Bill. In the course of the suspension of the sitting this evening, I asked the Legislative Research Service of the Parliamentary Library to take out some figures on part time students. I have here the latest figures available on that situation. I am sorry that the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is not here now because he was the first member to raise this matter on behalf of the Opposition. I think the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) also raised the question of part time students attending universities or colleges of advanced education. These figures are for 1971. The number of part time students at universities in that year was 44,339. As a matter of fact, that figure rather surprised me; but there it is. These are students who are dedicated enough to pursue their studies. Those who go along to universities for part time studies usually in the evening must be dedicated people. Unfortunately, the drop out and failure rate in this area is abnormally high as a result of all sorts of circumstances. Of those 44,339 students, 2,396 were awarded Commonwealth university scholarships. So, when we are talking about part time students in the category mentioned by the honourable member for Wannon, we are speaking of a mere 5.4 per cent of all part time students who were awarded university level part time scholarships.
My colleague, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) has ceased to be interested for the moment in this debate. He has had a hard day. He is sitting for university examinations. I point out that I am not trying to make fun of him; he is a good friend of mine. The honourable member has been carrying out his studies in addition to performing his parliamentary duties. Other members of this Parliament have done university courses in the course of their parliamentary careers, and they have not always been members who have safe seats and who may not have needed to work hard at their parliamentary duties. The honourable member for Robertson has told me that among the part time students with whom he has associated in his class are some who are fairly well endowed people financially. They are people who are already embarked on careers. Perhaps this is particularly the case in Canberra where so many career opportunities are available. These are people taking the opportunity to advance themselves by attending part time studies. I should imagine that sometimes these people can go to the university on day time release and participate in part time degree courses or studies.
Let us turn to the other segment of tertiary education to which reference was made. I refer to the colleges of advanced education which are multiplying in number and absorbing very steeply increasing numbers of young people who are going to these institutions to study. In 1971, these colleges were really only getting under way. In that year, the number of part time students at colleges of advanced education was 24,995 of whom 1,236 had been awarded Commonwealth advanced edu cation scholarships. This is 4.95 per cent of total part time students at those colleges. I pay respect to the point made by the Opposition about part time students, but let us not exaggerate it out of all importance.
This Bill is a most important measure for the numbers of people who will be allowed by it to go to university, or to attend colleges of advanced education or to participate in full time technical education free of any fees. Many of them know that, as from the beginning of next year, under this Government they will be receiving a higher living allowance than they ever were paid before. The means test on this allowance will be substantially liberalised. This is the kind of revolution to which we direct attention and which is taking place under this Government. The accessibility to higher education that will be available under this Government should be recognised. Concomitant obligations fall on us. It is no good this Government abolishing fees for students at these institutions if there are no places at those institutions to which they may go. The Government faces a big commitment to build additional universities, university colleges, colleges of advanced education, technical institutes and technical colleges in Australia. 1 hope that many of these will be established in country areas; this will be part of our decentralisation program.
This development will not occur overnight. On some basis or other next year a selection process will need to be followed. But I hope that much higher percentage of the sons and daughters of ordinary working class people will be able to get into these tertiary institutions. From memory, I think that statistics show that the number of students attending institutions such as universities in particular whose parents were working class persons was 2 per cent of the enrolment of those institutions. A large percentage of students is made up by the sons and daughters of top administrators and professional people in the community. What we wish to do is to democratise opportunities for education in this country.
I hope that the media will draw attention to this fact. Looking around the Press gallery, I note that all members of the media are absent with the exception of 2 gentlemen. I hope that the media will give to these vastly important matters a fragment, a section, just a small proportion of the reportage that they give to the horses that ran around a course at Flemington, at Rosehill or at Randwick today so that we-
– Did you lose today?
– I did not lose today. I did back a winner. So, I am not a dissatisfied customer. I am a once a year man in that respect. But the media devotes pages and pages to that aspect when important debates in this House on education receive little more than a couple of paragraphs in our newspapers. I hope that the media will recognise the part that they should play in educating the community as to what is available to it in the form of educational opportunities and that they will educate us in this Parliament as to what the community needs to satisfy the kind of requirement to which the honourable member for Gwydir referred this evening. I do not wish to deal too deeply with what other people have said because I have some positive comments to make myself.
As I said, this Bill is tremendously important. Its importance has been, I think, downgraded a little. What is proposed is no mean effort. The proposal that the Labor Party would, first, abolish fees on tertiary education and, secondly, provide a more generous living allowance based on a much more liberalised means test was a very important factor in the last election campaign for the House of Representatives. As a matter of fact, recently when I was being driven to the airport by taxi, I had a conversation with the young taxi driver who, when I asked him: ‘Do you do this all the time?’ replied: ‘No, I am a student at university’. I asked: ‘What course are you doing?’ He said: ‘I am in fourth year medicine’. I said to him: ‘Good on you. You have gone this far. You are well on the way’. He said: Oh, it has been hard. Golly, it has been hard. I have had posts and so on, but I have got there and I think I can make the rest of the distance’. Then he asked me whether I belonged to a department and I admitted that I did not. I said that I was a politician. He said: ‘What side are you on?’ I said to him: T am a member of the Labor Government.’ I waited to see his reaction. He said: ‘Thank God for you blokes.’ I am not saying this in any partisan fashion. He said to me: ‘Next year I will not have to find that $650 to pay for my fees for medical tuition’. That was the cost of his fees alone, not of his living expenses to go with those fees.
He said: ‘On the basis that I will not have to find those fees next year, I will not need to do this job that I have been doing at night all the year round to pay my way through university.’ He was not on a scholarship. No, he was doing it the hard way in common with a number of other people in our community. He was most grateful to think that next year he would be able to dedicate himself much more to the task mat should be his, dedicating himself to his studies to give himself a chance to avoid the need to do post examinations and to achieve a much greater competence as a doctor, as will other people in the various professions that they have chosen. This example demonstrates the significance of this measure. It has tremendous significance to a large number of people. It will be of significance for vastly more people in the generations to come. We are not talking just of individuals themselves. We must recognise that this is a community investment. The fruits of this action will be available to the whole of the community whether people are enabled to attend universities, colleges of advanced education or technical institutions, or whether people further their education at institutions such as the open universities that we will provide.
This Bill we are debating tonight is important but it is only one part of a whole program that this Government in its zeal has brought in during the 10 or 11 months in which it has been in office. The Government started doing some small things that needed to be done but which were very important to the individuals concerned. The isolated children who live way out in the never never have received living allowances which will enable them to board in at schools. That assistance was given under a Labor Government, not under a LiberalCountry Party Government. This Government has provided $3m relief for tertiary students in need simply because university fees and fees for colleges of advanced education were increased for the second year in a row by 16) per cent and a lot of students looked like having to give their studies away because they could not afford to continue. But the Government came to their rescue and provided $3m which was apportioned at the discretion of the administrators of those institutions. Those were the immediate things the Government provided.
We set up the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission and the relevant legislation has gone through this House. I hope that it will go through the Senate. The other day there was a threat that the Opposition in the Senate might not support it. I hope that that is not true. The Karmel Committee report - brought down in some haste, some people allege, but built on a lot of other information that was available to it for years and not used - is an epoch-making development in Australian education. I hope that it will be allowed to be implemented because, if it is not, many thousands of youngsters will be denied their opportunity. The Karmel Committee report picks out disadvantaged children and specifies them, and instead of their receiving the least help, as they used to receive, they will be over compensated, if I may put it in that way. There will be a positive discrimination in their favour.
For many years handicapped children have been denied opportunities. The organisations concerned have had to run chocolate wheels to help run their schools and pay their teachers. I hope that that sort of thing is gone. This is what the Karmel Committee report is all about. I hope that the media will help the Government get across to the community what is being made available. Let me refer to what is to be done for teachers. There will be a big development in this field. There will be an inquiry into the matter to which the honourable member for Gwydir referred. The Government has set up an inquiry into technical education and further education. The honourable member was dead right. He was right on the ball for my money tonight when he talked about technical education being for a long time the Cinderella of education in Australia. If we want to raise productivity, if we are thinking only in economic terms, this is a tremendous investment. I was glad to hear the honourable member say that he also wants included in that technical education for those youngsters a good element of the humanities. They have to be good citizens in the community as well as working in the factories and business houses. They have to be enlightened, informed citizens and they have to be able to take their place in the community. Eighteen year-olds are eligible to vote, to elect governments and to stand for Parliament. They need that kind of experience too. That inquiry is due to be finalised before July of next year.
It is possible that even this week we will have another report. A lot of people ridicule the Government for all the commissions it has set up, but they will see the fruits of them in the next 12 months. An interim pre-schools commission has been set up to provide child care for the mothers who have to go to work and for those who do not want to go to work but who would like to see their children mix ing with other children and being socialised. I do not mean that in the political sense, and honourable members opposite should not get het up about it. I think that people know what I mean by the socialising process of helping them to grow up as personalities with children of their own age, being taught by people who are professionally skilled to help bring them up. Then there are those who want to go to pre-school kindergartens at 3 to 5 years of age. The Government wants to extend to the rest of Australia what we have here in Canberra. The children here have that opportunity but in most of the other States very few children have that opportunity. Generally only those in the middle class and the higher middle class groups have that opportunity.
There is so much more I could say about all those things that are planned. They are developments on the way. I have not said anything about the expansion in education planned for in this year’s Budget before these reports come in. These developments will be complemented by further activities by the State governments. I do not want to give the present New South Wales Government any kudos at this time as there is to be an election on Saturday week. That Government knows that the Commonwealth Government will take over the commitment for post-secondary education. That is important. Because this Commonwealth Government will make vastly increased provision for senior secondary students, it will be possible for whatever Party becomes the Government in New South Wales on Saturday week to give much more help to students in first, second, third and fourth forms so that they may stay on at school, put themselves in the race to obtain the senior secondary scholarships and maybe go on to obtain free entrance to the tertiary institutions provided by this Labor Government.
Of course, a lot of this will be wasted unless we can do something in our tertiary institutions to improve the teaching standards. I have been in the business of training teachers so I suppose I can speak with some authority. Various comments have been made by students about the terrible quality of lecturing staff at universities and colleges of advanced education. I have lost one of my quotations on this aspect but a more recent one states that universities particularly seem to play down the business of teaching as their main function. Their function seems to be research. Research is very important but it is not much good unless it reticulates into the community. That can only be done by passing it out to students. It ought to be done efficiently. There ought to be far more efficient and many more efficient lecturers, teachers and tutors at universities.
I note that Dr J. A. L. Matheson, the ViceChancellor of Monash University, has changed his views completely. He too thought that research was the main function of universities but he came to recognise that he was wrong. Unfortunately time will not allow me to read at great length an article dated 27 August 1973, which states what he thinks about the importance of teaching. It is of no use allowing students to go to universities to receive inefficient, ineffective tuition. We will have to try by moral persuasion to get teachers to examine their techniques and all the paraphernalia that goes with teaching. They must examine what they are aiming to do with the students and they must be very much more awake to what their objectives are. There is a lot in this Bill, but it is only part of a much more extensive program of education that will do a tremendous amount of good for this country socially, economically and for the personal development of each person who attends those institutions.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Before dealing with the Bill I would like to refer to something that the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) said. He stated that the previous Liberal-Country Party Government gave no assistance to isolated children. He is claiming for the present Labor Government the entire credit of the assistance to isolated children but that is not so. The amounts involved may have been increased under this Government, and so they should have been because inflation also has increased. Therefore the people who are sending their children to school or who are receiving assistance from the Government under the isolated children’s scheme need to have a substantial increase because of the situation which has been brought about by the policies of the present Labor Government. I disperse with that one.
I refer now to the Schools Commission, which of course is not the subject of this Bill. However, the honourable member for Barton mentioned it, so I presume I may mention it also. I find that fear is being generated around the country that the Opposition Parties are endeavouring to torpedo or destroy the Schools Commission. Of course this is not so. We in the Opposition are still receiving telegrams which have no doubt been requested by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) or generated by the Department of Education or the Minister to pressure us to get Liberal and Country Party senators to support the Schools Commission Bill entirely in the Senate. Of course the case is being misrepresented. The Opposition does not wish to torpedo the Schools Commission, but it wishes to see greater participation by the community in the Commission. As such I would hope that the amendments which will be introduced to that legislation in the Senate will be all too clear and that the people who are now sending us telegrams to pressure our colleagues in the Senate to vote for the Schools Commission Bill regardless of amendments will see that there is something to be gained if they just wait for the intelligent amendments which will be introduced. The honourable member for Barton was fairly well off the beam in what he was saying about that, or perhaps he was just trying to misrepresent us as usual.
The previous Country Party speaker, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), said that the Country Party does not oppose the Bill that is before the House now. That is fair enough. We do not oppose it. But for the few things I have to say I would not have risen. This measure is certainly a step in the right direction. I find from the Minister’s second reading speech that this Bill complements the Government’s decision to abolish fees in tertiary and post secondary technical institutions. One has to evaluate whether it is more worth while to have the scholarship system or free tertiary education for the masses. Work this out. We hear a lot about privileged people having all the wealth to send their children to independent schools. Yet if we abolish fees and give free tertiary education to all where will we get? I imagine that the policy that the Government is espousing is that it is trying to help the children of families who could not attend post secondary and tertiary institutions if they had to pay fees. All right; I admit that is fine. But why abolish fees for tertiary education and make tertiary education available free of charge to everyone regardless of whether or not his father is a millionaire? No doubt the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) would be in that class. It seems quite illogical to abolish these fees and I cannot follow the Government’s thinking on that one.
One cannot help but support this Bill. I only have a few words to say on Part II, sections 7, 8 and 9. This portion of the Bill refers to isolated children. I would like to know why senior secondary students who are receiving assistance under the isolated children’s scheme will not be eligible for benefits under this new scheme. It is possible that someone has looked at the figures and said: ‘Yes, I realise the isolated children are getting $350 per head without a means test and possibly another $350 if they satisfy a means test’. The costs of sending children from an isolated area either to a school in a southern city or to a main educational centre, boarding them and bringing them home are astronomical. I know because I had to do this with 4 children. The point I make is that we hear a lot about assistance to iso lated children, but I do not think that anyone realises the tremendous cost and the hardship that devolves on the people who send their children away.
I was in various centres of the outback during the last recess and I heard constant complaints that the standard of education is falling. If people in those areas wish to have their children educated to the standards that they think they are entitled to demand - I refer to people in the Northern Territory, and no doubt the same would apply to people in the northern part of Western Australia and the north-west of Queensland - they have to send them somewhere for their secondary and tertiary education. The honourable member for Robertson is trying to interject. It is all very well for the public school boy from Sydney to do so when I am talking about the cost of sending children away to school from thousands of miles in the inland when he possibly just walked down the street to go to a public school. I am talking about isolated children and the hardships that are involved in sending these children to school.
– I also travelled thousands of miles, and did it by train.
– If the honourable member went by train, let us have a train, or if he went by road, let us have a road. If the honourable member can arrange with the South Australian Premier to build a road or a railway into the outback areas, by all means let him do so. These are the points I bring to the notice of the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), who is sitting at the table. He is not the Minister responsible for education, but I know that he is sympathetic because he has been in the outback areas and he has far more experience of the problems that exist there than possibly some of the people who are interjecting have. I would like the Government to give some real assistance to people who are forced to send their children thousands of miles to secondary schools, universities and tertiary education institutions. We criticise the standard of education. For some reason or other it is falling. I do not know whether the declining standard of education is a result of the standard of pupils or the lack of desire on the part of students to attend school and concentrate on their studies or whether this situation pertains only in the outback of Australia. I emphasise that I would like the Government to look very hard at the isolated children’s assistance to see that isolated children are given at least a fair go from the point of view of getting tertiary and senior secondary education. I cannot really understand why students undergoing the final 2 years of a secondary school correspondence course will not be eligible for the secondary school allowance. There may not be many such students. I do not know whether the Government knows what is going on or whether there are students in this category but I should like the Minister for the Australian Capital Territory, who is at the table, to tell me why this provision appears in the Bill. I feel that students in the real outback of Australia are not getting what they should be getting from this Bill or from this Government.
– I support the Student Assistance Bill 1973. One of the aims of this Bill is to provide the legislative basis for the secondary scholarships scheme, the post-graduate award scheme and the tertiary education assistance scheme. One may ask why the need to provide the legislative basis. In 1969 the Scholarships Act was passed, the essential feature of which was that it based scholarships upon regulation and not on ministerial discretion. By section 2 that Act was to come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. The 1969 Act has not been proclaimed and, therefore, has not come into operation. As the present Government proposes a number of changes to various Commonwealth scholarship schemes, the Scholarships Act 1969 will be repealed without being first proclaimed. In other words, the Act as passed by the Parliament in 1969 will never come into operation. The Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances has presented a report relating to Commonwealth scholarships and awards regulations. The Committee considers that it should be a matter of grave concern to the Senate that the clearly expressed intention of the Parliament embodied in legislation should be nullified for a period of 4 years or more by executive action or inaction.
The disregard of the Parliament’s will on the basis of a want of parliamentary draftsmen to frame regulations is inexcusable. I believe the delay can be answered partly by the minority report provided by Senator Durack who said:
The power to bring the Scholarships Act into operation was granted by the Parliament to the Executive and any decision on this matter is one for the Executive as a matter of policy.
Despite the bi-partisan approach by members opposite tonight, I contend that it was not drafting difficulties that delayed proclamation. I contend that the wish of the Cabinet, the Executive of the previous Government, was not to execute what was forced upon it by public opinion, and that was a declaration that assistance should be given not on scholastic merit alone but also on a needs basis. This belief has been reinforced by the Opposition’s resistance to the Government’s implementation of the Karmel report. The Opposition maintains that assistance should be given on a per capita basis. That is why members opposite attempted to swamp the goodwill of the Karmel report with an outburst over Category A schools. They preferred to concentrate on the $2 a week reduction in assistance afforded to the 2 per cent of pupils in 105 schools, which now of course has been reduced to about 50 schools, rather than to concentrate on the advantages of the increased expenditure which would be afforded to the other 98 per cent.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) says that provision for the Schools Commission is not part of this Bill. But we cannot ignore it. Later I will again refer to this lack of understanding by the Opposition of the equality of opportunity of access to education. The tertiary education assistance scheme will start next year and, as the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has said, it is part of the Government’s revolution of access to education. This Bill complements the decision to abolish fees in tertiary and postsecondary technical institutions. Much has been said of this by members on both sides of the House. The argument for fee abolition is built on 2 main points. The first is that university education should be a right and not a privilege to be paid for. Why should university education not be as free as primary and secondary education? There is an obvious double standard when fifth and sixth formers who, like university students, choose to stay on at school are not asked to pay fees. The second plank to the argument is about equality of educational opportunity. Fees, especially the present high fees, keep out able and qualified students who just cannot afford to pay them.
Students from poorer families, who are grossly unrepresented in the university intake, have a financial as well as an academic barrier. In 1971 the Australian Union of Students estimated that in 1972 a family on an average income of $4,200 would spend 30 per cent of this in sending one child to university. The burden of fees is increasing each year because fees are increasing faster than increases in wages. The Institute of Economic Research at the University of Melbourne estimates that average earnings are increasing at a rate of about 5 per cent per annum compared with the predicted increase in fees last year of 16.6 per cent in New South Wales, 26 per cent in Western Australia and 25 per cent in Queensland. In a paper the Vice-Chancellors Committee commissioned on fee abolition in 1971 the author, the economist Mr R. Brennan of the Australian National University, argued that abolition of tertiary fees was not enough. He said that the alternative was to overhaul completely the existing Commonwealth scholarship system and orient it towards providing more tangible assistance to students in genuine financial need and perhaps rather less to students who could well afford to attend even if fees were considerably higher. I believe that in this legislation the Government has overhauled the system. We believe that hardship or poverty should not prevent a student from taking advantage of further studies.
Will such a scheme achieve the objective of equal access to tertiary education for all students who desire tertiary education? Are we wasting our money at the top level by building on a false and inequitable foundation? The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) said that to abolish fees at the tertiary level would not help those who now missed out on tertiary education but would fill up the institutions with people who were not bright enough to be there and who should not be there. The honourable member does not understand the complex situation that exists. There are already students, some on scholarships and some with wealthy parents, who are at tertiary institutions and who, in the honourable member’s terms, should not be there. They go from social or parental pressure rather than from motivation. On the other hand many who are motivated cannot attend because of costs or because they never produced their brilliance as they were never encouraged in their earlier school years to be so motivated.
Equality of opportunity has been an important social goal which Australian schools have been given the major responsibility for achieving. The policy of provision on a roughly equal basis for all children in schools to which all had access was a considerable advance on policies operating before the introduction of public education. Such an interpretation of equality of opportunity reflects certain assumptions about ability which were current at the time when Australian school systems were formed. It was assumed that each child was born with a certain fixed capacity and that if all external barriers were removed by providing schooling that was accessible, equal and free, students from all walks of life would have an equal opportunity for success. The notion that social levels should reflect differences in innate ability rather than differences in family was part of the democratic revolution which accompanied industrialisation. It was an aspect of the individualistic philosophy of the survival of the fittest through open competition. This I believe is still the policy of the Opposition coalition. But let us look at what has happened.
It should mean that the approach concentrated on selecting gifted individuals from all social groups. It assumed that roughly the same proportion from each group would have the potential for high scholastic ability. Many Australian studies have examined the situation and they illustrate the general experience. I have a table which shows that students entering 4 professional faculties in 6 Australian universities between 1965 and 1967 illustrate the typical finding. We find that 23.5 per cent of the students in those faculties are the sons and daughters of professionals or 4.25 times the ratio that their fathers bear to the male population in the specified age groups. Nearly half the students entering were the children of professional and managerial fathers, who constitute 17.5 per cent of the population in the age group likely to be their fathers. Industrial workers represent nearly 60 per cent of that population but their children account for only 22.6 per cent of students entering the 4 faculties.
I remind the Australian Country Party that the sons and daughters of farmers have only one-fifth of the chance of the sons and daughters of the Country Party’s coalition partners, largely made up of professionals, managers and clerical and sales people. One would have thought that the Country Party would have spoken out for a better deal for the group it represents. A study of students entering science courses at universities and diploma courses in applied sciences at colleges of advanced education in Australia in 1969 shows a similar trend but to a slightly lesser extent. I ask for leave of the House to incorporate 2 tables in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
– The only conclusion that can be drawn is that among tertiary students of all kinds the children of manual workers are under-represented and those of higher status families over-represented. To the extent that higher education is financed from taxes it has thus a somewhat regressive effect; poorer people contributing to the cost of education of a group in which the children of richer parents predominate and from which recipients can expect to draw higher than average incomes. I believe that in the United States of America, for example, the Government spends 10 times more on the education of the 10 per cent of its children on the top of the socioeconomic scale than on the 10 per cent at the bottom. This legislation is designed to prevent this sort of injustice occurring in Australia. But the causes can be traced right back to the schools. The process in which the social selectivity of tertiary institutions is as an end point of education goes back into the schools and beyond them, into the families where children are conceived and raised.
The children of some social groups stay longer at schools than do others. This fact also is widely documented in all countries. Differences in the socio-economic distribution of students entering government and nongovernment secondary schools are a major factor contributing to variations in retention rates. This variation is illustrated by comparisons based on official statistics between retention rates in government and non-government schools throughout Australia as set out in table 3.5 of the Karmel report. I also seek leave to incorporate that table.
-Is leave granted?
– No, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have not had the opportunity of looking at the document.
– I am glad the honourable member made that point. The table is part of the Karmel report. Obviously he has not read the Karmel report.
– It is referred to us without notice and I think that it is up to the honourable member concerned at least to show this side of the House the document that he wants incorporated.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, this is a table out of the Karmel report. I am surprised that the honourable member for Wimmera has not read it. He has participated in this debate and castigated this Government for the contents of that report. Now that I have explained it-
-Order! Is leave not granted?
– If the honourable member continues in that vein leave certainly will not be granted, but if he is prepared to show me the document I am prepared to consider giving leave for its incorporation.
– The length of schooling and participation in higher education among country students in Australia are conspicuously lower than among city students. I should also like to remind the Australian Country Party members that the lower retention in the last 2 years of schooling amongst country students should have been something they pointed out to their Liberal Party coalition partners in the government of yesteryear and on which they should have fought for a better deal. But obviously they have not. With those remarks about the Australian Country Party I hope I will still receive agreement to put a piece of the Karmel report into Hansard.
Migrant children from working class or lower middle class families have virtually no chance at all of getting a Commonwealth secondary scholarship according to a Monash University survey. Details of the survey were given in November of last year by Professor Ronald Taft of Monash University’s Education Faculty in a paper given to a conference on the sociology of education at La Trobe University. The survey interviewed 1,340 students in Victorian secondary schools who completed their schooling during 1969. The survey confirmed the findings of similar studies - that although the scholarships were designed to help those who need them most, they mostly went to relatively affluent students. What I am saying on the basis of these examples from both the Karmel report and from the findings of the Faculty of Education at La Trobe University is that we must lift the quality of education in all schools. We must realise the variation in retention rates in the last 2 years at the different types of systemic and independent schools. Seeing that the qualifications to go to university depend on retention at that time we must improve the equality of education in all schools at the primary and secondary level before we can spend money wisely to get equality of access to education at the tertiary level.
This legislation will provide assistance for more than 125,000 students in 1974. This assistance is not fully inclusive because we must also remember the Government’s initiatives and expansion of schemes to help isolated children and Aboriginal students. In fact, we must keep in mind the full thrust of the Interim Report of the Schools Commission.
– Order! Is leave granted for the inclusion in Hansard of the table?
– Leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank the House and the honourable member for Wimmera. For the reasons that I have outlined the trends that I have demonstrated need to be reversed. The proposed scheme replaces the Commonwealth scholarship scheme now available to students of universities, colleges of advanced education and the tertiary technical institutions. But those who hold those scholarships will not lose financially. The Minister has guaranteed that no student will be worse off. About 48,000 senior secondary scholarships will be involved. The tertiary allowances scheme will be subject to a means test. Living allowances will be $850 per annum for full time students living at home and $1,400 per annum for full time students living away from home. Those eligible for a living allowance will also receive an incidentals allowance to cover union and sports fees, which will not be reduced on a sliding scale according to the amount of living allowance received. There will be a new form of scholarship assistance at senior secondary level providing for 25,000 new scholarships tenable for each of the last 2 years of secondary schooling.
Selection will be on a basis of exam testing combined with an assessment of academic merit provided by schools. The amounts will be $150 free of means test and a further $250 on a means test basis. The scholarship scheme must be seen along with other assistance soon to be introduced into this Parliament. The secondary allowance scheme will assist families with limited financial resources to maintain their children at school for the final 2 years of secondary education. The benefit will be subject to a means test on family income. Under the scheme a single allowance will be paid with a maximum value of $304 per annum.
Much has been said about the lack of assistance to part time students. I did my second degree part time at university and when talking to fellow part time students we complained most of all about the cost of the fees. Although we had complaints elsewhere it was the cost of the fees that worried us most. Part time students will benefit greatly from the abolition of tertiary fees. The honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said that part time students would be worse off. He played down the abolition of tertiary fees. Yet I believe that this is the greatest advantage that part time students will receive. Assessed eligibility will be available at secondary, tertiary and post-graduate levels. The assistance and scholarships will be based on the student’s academic progress, previous studies and means testing, and any review will be carried out by an independent tribunal.
Obviously, as the Minister has said in his second reading speech, there is a clear need for flexibility if we are to avoid anomalies and injustices, because these things will result if too rigid rules are applied. This Bill sets out to fulfil the function of education, which is to develop people who can contribute to a changing society, and to develop the moral and intellectual qualities for a better society. This legislation will also help to get away from what Bernard Shaw in his later life cynically declared:
The object of education, the true aim of the school, remains what it was in my day - to keep children out of mischief, meaning for the most part, from worrying adults.
We must come a long way to realise that all parents do not wish the education of their children, nor do the children themselves wish their education, to be geared entirely to the industrial world. We must realise that education is to prepare people for a world of rapid change and unforeseeable demands and a world in which continued education throughout a person’s adult life should be a normal expectation. Now that education will be free and universal under this legislation from primary school - eventually it will be from preschool - through to secondary school and tertiary institutions, I believe that this legislation carries out that aim so that our people will be prepared to be independent and thinking citizens and prepared to realise that education is a lifelong process.
– I hope I can do justice to my colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) in whose place I stand tonight. My colleagues from both sides of the House have been able to accept this legislation with much greater alacrity than they have accepted the projection of the Commonwealth into the field of education over the last 16 or 17 years. This Bill is a step along the road towards overcoming all of those disabilities in education which my colleagues, particularly those on this side of the House, have pointed out tonight. My colleague, the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Lamb), has just managed to cover most of the points raised by members of the Opposition, but I will summarise some of them. This legislation will cover approximately 125,000 students next year. These students represent one per cent of the Australian population.
It is approximately a year since the centenary of the establishment of free compulsory and secular education in Victoria in 1872. It is a little surprising that at this time, one century after we accepted the fact that free and compulsory education at the primary school level was the right of every citizen, we still find doubts being expressed about the introduction of free education at the university level. The Labor Party accepts the view that the total program of education of the citizen ought to be free of any test applied through wealth. The honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) raised several matters which I will do my best to answer. He was worried about whether the secondary education assistance scheme which is to be introduced next year will be of some disadvantage to the holders of current scholarships. No, it will not. We propose to ensure that no existing scholarship holder will ‘be disadvantaged in any way whatsoever. I will deal with part time students directly. It is to ensure that no one is disadvantaged that the Bill is flexible, and this is the reason we will rely to such an extent upon regulations. Honourable members opposite can rest assured that the Minister and the members of the Government on this side of the House will keep a close watch on the system to ensure that the principles upon which we have embarked are carried into action.
The difference between the approach to education of the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) and of honourable members on this side of the House is that we approach academic progress in a non-competitive spirit. While I accept the point that is usually put from the other side about academic excellence and all the rest of it, education is not simply the pursuit of academic excellence. Education is a growth of the intellect and the participation of the human being in the total affairs of society. I for one for a very long while have been propagating the faith of non-competition in the school. In the end what we have to do is produce a system in which a student overcomes the hurdles of his own deficiencies rather than trying to compete with somebody else. Therefore the last step to be taken at the present stage is to open the universities to everybody without those attending having to compete against each other. Of course, there will be many difficulties. Quotas will be necessary because the past has not prepared us for 1974. However, this is one of the challenges to which we will be facing up. We approach this matter on the basis that access to the financial resources of the nation which are provided for education should be basically related to need rather than some competitive system. As the Minister pointed out in his second reading speech, all of this will be supplemented by the secondary allowances legislation which will be introduced shortly and which I hope will be passed through this House with some expedition.
The honourable member for Wannon and other honourable members opposite raised the question of academic progress in its relationship to scholarships. Of course, that is the way in which the system has been operating up until now. I do not see any alternative than to apply some criterion such as academic progress to people who are in receipt of some benefit from the nation. It is necessary to do this under the present scheme; it will be necessary to do this in the future. The standard requirement will probably be that people will have to be able to proceed to the next year of study. But I for one will do my best to ensure that the whole program is administered with liberality and, on occasions, with more compassion than toughness.
The question of the review tribunals was raised. I agree with the view expressed by the honourable member for Chisholm that this is a parliamentary system and in the end the responsibility must lie with the Minister. But it is necessary to establish tribunals which can handle the situation with expedition and also, I hope, with liberality and with some compassion. But it is their job to sort out the people with scarce resources and to ensure that people are treated with justice and equity. I agree with the demand that these tribunals operate with expedition. There is probably nothing more exasperating and perhaps more heartwrenching to the student than to have to wait for months to know whether he will be able to embark upon the year’s course. This is one of the reasons why we probably will be establishing a good number of these tribunals, and we will be using every pressure possible to see that the matters that come before the tribunals are handled with expedition.
Let me deal for just a moment with the question of abolition of fees. This matter has been raised from all manner of quarters, and sometimes it has been raised by people associated with my own brand of politics. It has been said that the abolition of fees is of no great significance, that the student is able to get assistance from some other quarter, and that therefore fees ought to be retained just to ensure that scarce resources are not placed at the disposal of the wrong people. I represent an area in which many of the families have raised their level of aspiration for their student children to as high as university level. With their general level of income, there is no possibility for them to sustain a child at a university. The abolition of the fees, which now run at $400, $500, and $600 a year, will make a substantial contribution to their opportunity to allow their children to attend a university. Also it will give us the chance of picking up everyone who has the possibility of attending university.
I think this applies equally to part time students. I am an old part time student from away back myself. I was a part time student during the times when we had a reconstruction training scheme which picked up thousands of us and took us through university and such like. So I know exactly what it means not having to face up to pay fees. To most part timers the abolition of the fees and the creation of further facilities will be much more important than saving the small amount which would result from the abolition of union fees and such like. But there is no reason why in the future we should not examine this situation in order to see that the last part of the fee system is abolished. This is the beginning of the whole operation.
The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) raised the question of technical education, and he was supported in his remarks by the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds). We have established the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education. That Committee will be examining the whole system in this area. We intend to ensure that the points raised by the honourable member for Gwydir and amplified by my colleague from Barton are overtaken in the near future. The question of curricula was raised also. We propose to establish a curricula development centre. Although basically curricula are the responsibility of the States, we accept the final responsibility. One of the great challenges in the education system is to ensure that those things that we lay down as policy in this place are actually carried into effect by the State authorities at the ground level. I am one of those who are concerned that in fact it will be very difficult to ensure that this happens. It may not be that there is any malevolence on the part of State governments, although some State governments manage to disguise their acceptance of these policies very adequately. But the facts are that State systems in the past have proved inadequate in these fields. We have to find a new way of co-operating between the Australian Government and the State governments in these matters. We will probably have to look for assistance from our colleagues opposite to try to convert their colleagues in the State parliaments into adopting a much more co-operative attitude.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) raised the question of isolated children and the appropriate benefits. I think he is mistaken in the assumption that isolated children will be at a greater disadvantage than they are at present. In the first instance, isolated children’s benefits include an amount of $350 free of means test, an amount of $350 subject to a means test and an amount of $304 for special hardship cases. That makes a total of $1,004. But we have been looking over the operations of this year and this matter is now under review by a committee consisting of both State and Federal representatives. But isolated children are not necessarily excluded from receiving secondary scholarships and in some cases neither are children from low income families. So in fact this is a part of a system that has had a long haul in getting here. But I believe it is a part of a step along the road towards creating for students an atmosphere where if they are rich they do not have to depend on the charity of their parents and if they are poor they do not have to depend on the charity of the States. I commend the Bill to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bryant) read a third time.
Consideration of Senate’s request for amendment.
Senate’s request for amendment -
In sub-clause (2), paragraphs (a) and (b), leave out ‘1.6 cents’, insert ‘1 cent*.
– I move:
That the requested amendment be not made.
The Senate has returned the Meat Export Charge Bill and the Meat Export Charge Collection Bill, which were passed by this House on 19 September, and has requested that clause 6 of the Charge Bill be amended so that the rate of charge on beef and veal is reduced from 1.6c to 1.0c per lb. The Government is not prepared to agree to that request. As far as the Collection Bill is concerned, the Senate has amended it to include provision for a Trust Account to be established into which all funds collected from the charge are to be paid. Hie Government agrees to an amendment to provide for the establishment of a Trust Account and this matter will be discussed immediately after the Senate request on the Charge Bill is completed.
The Opposition’s arguments for a reduction in the charge were based on calculations of their own which showed that the estimated revenue from the charge would exceed estimated costs. During the second reading debate and again in Committee, it was clearly stated by the Government that the proposed charge had been based on the assumption that the estimated revenue from the charge would match estimated expenditure. Despite the Government’s assurance of this, the Opposition has not been prepared to accept it. Details of the estimates made to calculate the charge are as follows:
Firstly, for beef and veal, the charge of 1.6c per lb was obtained by dividing the estimated cost to the Australian Government over the 3 years 1973-74 to 1975-76, of export meat inspection - that is $43m - plus the cost of the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign ($22m) by estimated beef and veal exports over the 33 months period 1 October 1973 to 30 June 1976- that is, 1.8 million tons shipped weight. I stress the words shipped weight’.
Secondly, for other meats, the charge of 1.0c per lb was obtained by dividing the estimated inspection cost of $14m by the estimated volume of exports of 0.6 million tons shipped weight.
In the previous debates in both Houses of Parliament, the Government went to some length to explain why the Opposition’s figures were incorrect. A statement setting out full details of how the rates of 1.6c per lb and 1.0c per lb were calculated has been prepared and leave is sought to incorporate it in Hansard.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– On the basis of these calculations the expected revenue from the charge on exports will match the estimated cost over the 3-year period. In view of this, the Government is not prepared to accept the Senate’s request for an amendment to clause 6. There have been some queries in respect of compensation for tuberculosis reactor stock. The expenditure on the scheme to compensate owners of stock condemned as tuberculosis reactors which was announced on 3 April last is not subject to recoupment under the provivisions of the Meat Export Charge Bill which is before the chamber. The Australian Government’s contribution in 1973-74 to the mainland States under this scheme is estimated to be $488,500, subject to the States contributing $244,500. The Government’s contribution to compensation funds in the Northern Territory in 1973-74 is estimated to be $562,500. The main point is that as far as compensation for tuberculosis reactor stock is concerned, expenditure is not subject to recoupment under the provisions of this Bill. I point that out because there have been some inquiries about this aspect.
– There are several things that the Opposition would like to say in relation to these requested amendments. First of all, I am delighted that the Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory has taken control of this debate. He at least knows a little more about the substance of the matter than those who took control of the debate on behalf of the Government on an earlier occasion. Some very real problems were expressed at that stage in relation to the claim for a 1.6c levy as distinct from 1.0c levy that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) included in his Budget. Unfortunately, in the second reading speech there was no reference to a 1.6c levy. Our objection and purpose in moving an amendment seeking a reduction from 1.6c to 1.0c was that we believed that honourable members should at least have been given an explanation for the increase rather than find it necessary to refer to the text of Press communications of an interview given by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to the Press a couple of days before. This courtesy was not extended to us and we therefore persisted with our amendment. However, following the explanation that has now been given by the Minister the Opposition accedes to the stated purpose of the additional 0.6c per lb levy, which of course is included in the amendment that is now presented to the chamber.
The second aspect of the amendment concerns the difficulties that we had with the figures that were presented in relation to the assessment of the actual cost to the Government of meat inspection services. The Country Party based its argument only on the meat inspection costs and not on the costs of the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign although we had doubts in that area too. The Minister has given us a table which unfortunately I have not had time to compare with the earlier figures. However, there are several things I would say about it. First of all, I do not think there has yet been adequate explanation of the projection that was given by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics that there would be a 25 per cent increase in the volume of meat exported over this period. I accept that the figures have been presented by the Department and no doubt take into account the figures that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has given it but I find some difficulty, even though the figures are in ship weight form, in reconciling the forward projection of the Bureau with the ship weight statistics now included in the table.
Another aspect which worries me is that there seems to be a fairly significant increase in meat inspection costs over the period. Whether my figures are correct I am not sure, but it seems that according to earlier figures which are based on this table there was an increase of 100 per cent between 1968 and 1972 whereas between 1972 and 1975 the cost is expected to increase by some 400 per cent. If that is correct, it would seem to be difficult to explain because the degree to which meat inspection has varied has resulted largely from the requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture which, one would hope, would not continue to change in the future to the extent they have in the past. I think our Department of Primary Industry and the meat inspection veterinarians and staff should be complimented on the way in which they have become more closely attuned to the requirements of the USDA. If the assessment of increased inspection charges is correct, I find it hard to reconcile the increase over that period in which there was not the same unity of purpose.
The third thing I would say about the Bill is that there is still no explanation of overtime payments by those who are responsible for the abattoirs, the meat exporters and the public abattoir authorities. At the moment the charge of meat inspectors is met by the Department of
Primary Industry while they are working on ordinary time. However, the nature of a meat inspection operation is such that meat inspectors are frequently required to come to work before the commencement of the kill in the morning and to stay after the conclusion of the kill in the evening. There is consequently an overtime component which at the moment is the responsibility of the meat exporter. There seems to be no reference in what the Minister has said to those overtime payments or any reference in the amendment now before the House to whose account they will be charged. I would appreciate from the Minister an explanation of whether those payments will be covered by the levy. I can see justification in them coming within the same charge although I would hasten to add that I would hope that this would not be an added cost to the producer. Meat exporters who are providing the service are adequately covered for this sort of cost by the charges that they make for killing stock. Should there be any extension of the normal hours that meat inspectors are required to work this is part of the meat exporters operations.
The fourth point is that in the clause dealing with the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign and the trust account in relation to it, there is no reference to compensation funds. The Minister did intimate that a compensation scheme would be introduced to cover stock slaughtered under the bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaigns. I do not know whether it is intended that the fund should cover compensation. If it is not, I would appreciate learning from the Minister whether it is intended to proceed with the introduction of a compensation scheme. If it is I would appreciate some details of the character of that compensation scheme. It is important if we are to succeed in achieving effective
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! I would remind the Deputy Leader of the Country Party that we are dealing with the requested amendment to the Meat Export Charge Bill. He is now debating the Meat Export Charge Collection Bill.
– I am sorry. I will raise that point at a later time. I believe that the amendment demonstrates that here was very real validity in the Opposition’s objection to the Bill as it was originally presented to this House. There is no doubt that producers will feel far more satisfied that the funds they are paying for this purpose are covered by their payment into trust accounts. Trust accounts do give them an opportunity to ensure that whatever they pay is used for the purpose for which it is intended. Their general character will ensure expenditure of the funds for the purposes intended, and I see the application of the trust accounts in their extended form, covering both meat inspection services and the bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign, as being eminently desirable given the general circumstances and the needs of the meat industry at this time. The overall problem is in part still dependent upon the maintenance of the profitability of the industry. Fortunately this is an industry in which it would seem that the prospects are very bright. If there should be a downturn one would hope that the Government would look sympathetically at the incidence of the levy and ensure that there is no undue burden on producers. The Country Party believes that the amendment accepted by the Government in its somewhat modified form reflects the validity of the arguments we presented when the Bill was first before the House. We accept the amendment in the form now before us.
– On behalf of my Party I emphasise merely that we have no opposition to the amended Bill. We support the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign, and in the present climate of buoyant meat prices we accept that it is not unreasonable that a charge should be levied to pay for it. I am pleased to hear from the Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson) far more information than was originally given on the basis for calculations for the levy. I am pleased to see in the levy differentiation between meat inspection charges and charges for the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign spelled out. All I can say is that it is a great pity all this has happened. A lot of time wastage could have been avoided had this information been made available in the first place. However, in its amended form this Bill now has our support.
– I undertake to send a letter to the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) covering two of the points he raised because obviously to answer them will involve some work. Firstly, he seeks an explanation for the difference, and the significance of that difference, between projections made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in relation to future export trends and the figures that have been produced. Obviously this will involve consideration of the assumptions made by the Bureau and assumptions made in the table I have produced as the basis for these estimated costs. The Opposition previously has claimed that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has given 3 projects to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices. Is that the one the honourable member was referring to?
– Well, according to the note I have been handed, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has given no projections over that period to the Committee. However, I am not clear on that point. I know that the Bureau does make projections in its beef output statements.
– As I understand it, the figures given to the Prices Committee were given by the Meat Board based on Bureau of Agricultural Economics projections.
– We will have a look at this point for the honourable member to see what are the assumptions underlying the 2 sets of figures, and we will write to him on the matter. A question was raised about the increase in meat inspection costs particularly during the periods 1968 to 1972 and 1972 to 1975 mentioned by the honourable member for New England. I think the honourable member made the statement that between 1972 and 1975 there was an estimated increase of 400 per cent.
– I may have made a mistake when I expressed it earlier. From 1968 to 1972 the increase in costs was 100 per cent. From 1968 to 1975 costs increased by 400 per cent.
– What the honourable member says, of course, is correct. The major cost over those periods was incurred in fulfilling United States Department of Agriculture requirements, particularly with respect to high standards of veterinary inspection services. No doubt wages and other factors are also contained in this increase. But again I will ask the Department to prepare a note for the honourable member explaining the situation. In regard to overtime payments to meat inspectors, considerable overtime occurs in some works, certainly in the works in the north with which I am associated. Considerable overtime arises because of the uncertainties in the way cattle come in from time to time. However, this overtime has always been the responsibility of the exporters or the works themselves and will continue to be so. It is not included in any way in the recoupment costs.
As I said earlier, the compensation scheme for tuberculosis reactors is in no way included in this levy. It is completely separate. This is the responsibility of the Australian Government, the States and the industry, contributing in various proportions. As I said a few minutes ago, the Australian Government’s contribution under the scheme in 1973-74 to the mainland States is estimated at $488,500, subject to the States contributing $244,500. The Australian Government’s contribution to the compensation funds in the Northern Territory in 1973-74 is estimated at $562,500. But the important thing is that the expenditure under this scheme to compensate owners for stock condemned as tuberculosis reactors is not subject to recoupment. I think that is the answer.
The honourable member for New England asked for some details in relation to these payments. I shall outline them briefly. Funds are made available to the mainland States. They are subject to those States matching at least half the Federal contribution from their own resources or from the existing compensation funds. In respect of the Northern Territory, the Australian Government will contribute the full amount of the compensation paid. Payments will be confined to animals which are tested and then sent for compulsory slaughter. The total funds being provided by the Australian Government are based on estimates by the mainland States and the Northern Territory of the likely number of reactor cattle in 1973-74, with payment to the States set at $50 a head. As the honourable member for New England well knows, Queensland and the Northern Territory have no compensation scheme for beef cattle and of course, action is being taken to put these schemes into effect.
The Australian Government will provide $100,000 for the campaign in Tasmania. Additional funds being provided for compensation for tuberculosis cattle coupled with the increase in the finance provided for the eradication campaign in 1973-74 should assist in the more rapid eradication of bovine tuberculosis in Australian cattle herds. I think the honourable member for New England will agree that this compensation is very seriously needed because there is an inbuilt fear - it is only human nature - among those who run large herds of cattle under extensive grazing conditions when getting all their cattle tested. I say this reservedly because most of them should not have this fear and perhaps do not have it. However, if a property owner thought that a large percentage of his herd would have positive reaction to the tuberculin test and he would receive no compensation, he perhaps would be inclined not to look at his cattle as closely as he otherwise might have done or to muster as closely as he might do otherwise. The principle of the compensation fund is to encourage the owner to make an effort to find the positive reactor cattle and to get them slaughtered in accordance with the regulations and then attempt to clean out his herds, particularly in those areas which are susceptible. The highest incidence of tuberculosis reactors of course is in northern Australia. It is difficult in many parts of northern Australia to muster clean and to be able to get sufficient muster to have these cattle tested consistently. But I think the Opposition will agree that this compensation fund affords a definite encouragement to the cattle industry to look more intensively to tuberculosis reactors.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for the purposes of amendments to be moved by a Minister to the Meat Export Charge Collection Bill 1973 announced.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “authorised person” means -
Senate’s amendment No. 1 -
In clause 3, after the definition of “exporter”, insert the following definition: “‘export meat inspection costs’ means all expenses incurred in qualifying meat for export through procedures for which Australia is financially responsible;”.
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
In clause 3, after the definition of “month”, insert the following definition: ‘“the Charge Act’ means the Meat Export Charge Act 1973.”.
Senate’s amendment No. 3 -
After clause 4, add the following new clauses: “4a. (1) An account is hereby established to be known as the Meat Export Charge Trust Account.
– I move:
That the Senate amendments be disagreed to, but that, in place thereof, the following amendments be made -
In clause 3, insert after the definition of “charge” the following definition: - “‘Charge Act’ means the Meat Export Charge Act 1973;”.
In clause 3, insert after the definition of “meat” the following definition: - “ ‘meat inspection services’ means services provided by Australia in connexion with the inspection of meat intended for export for human consumption;”.
After clause 7, insert the following clauses: - “7a (1) There are hereby established -
an account to be known as the Meat Export Charge Trust Account; and
an account to be known as the Bovine Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Trust Account. “(2) Each of the accounts established by subsection (1) is a Trust Account for the purposes of section 62a of the Audit Act 1901-1969. “7b. (1) There shall be paid into the Meat Export Charge Trust Account -
where an amount of charge is received in respect of meat to which section 6 of the Charge Act applies - an amount equal to the appropriate fraction of the amount of the charge;
where an amount of charge is received in respect of meat towhich section 7 of the Charge Act applies - an amount equal to the amount of the charge;
moneys paid by any person to Australia in respect of meat inspection services: and
interest from the investment of moneys standing to the credit of that Trust Account. “ (2) For the purpose of paragraph (1)(a), the appropriate fraction, in relation to meat, is -
if the rate of the charge in respect of the meat is 1.6 cents per pound of the meat - five-eighths; or
if the rate of the charge is a rate prescribed in respect of a class of meat in which the meat is included - the fraction prescribed in respect of that class of meat. “ (3) A reference in sub-section (1) to an amount of charge shall be read as including a reference to an amount payable, in accordance with section 7, by way of penalty in relation to an amount of charge. “ (4) Amounts payable into the Meat Export Charge Trust Account by virtue of paragraph (l)(a) or (b) are payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is appropriated accordingly. “ 7c. Moneys standing to the credit of the Meat Export Charge Trust Account, may, with the approval of the Minister, be expended -
in payment of expenses incurred by Australia in connexion with the provision of meat inspection services; and
to the extent to which any such expenses have been defrayed out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, in reimbursing that fund in respect of the expenses so defrayed. “7d. (1) There shall be paid into the Bovine Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Trust Account -
where an amount of charge is received in respect of meat to which section 6 of the Charge Act applies - an amount ascertained by subtracting from the amount of the charge the amount payable into the Meat Export Charge Trust Account in respect of the meat under paragraph 7b (1) (a); and
interest from the investment of moneys standing to the credit of the first-mentioned trust account. “(2) A reference in sub-section (1) to an amount of charge shall be read as including a reference to an amount payable, in accordance with section 7, by way of penalty in relation to an amount of charge. “(3) Amounts payable into the Bovine Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Trust Account by virtue of paragraph (1) (a) are payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is appropriated accordingly. “ 7e. Moneys standing to the credit of the Bovine Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Trust Account may, with the approval of the Minister, be expended -
in making payments to the States, and in meeting costs incurred by Australia, for the purpose of the eradication of bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis in cattle in Australia; and
to the extent to which any expenses connected with the eradication of bovine brucellosis or tuberculosis in cattle in Australia have been defrayed out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, in reimbursing that fund in respect of the expenses so defrayed. “7f. (1) The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after each 30 June, cause a report of the operation of this Act during the year ended on that date to be laid before each House of the Parliament. “(2) The first report to be laid before each House of the Parliament under this section shall relate to the period commencing on the date of commencement of this Act and ending on 30 June 1974.”.
As stated earlier, the Government is prepared to accept an amendment to this Bill to provide for the establishment of a trust account. However, while accepting the establishment of the trust account for meat inspection, it has been necessary to redraft the Opposition amendment in order to rectify certain deficiencies in that amendment. Furthermore, as the Government has not accepted the Senate’s request to amend clause 6 of the Meat Export Charge Bill it has also been necessary to make provision for payment into the trust account of moneys related to eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis. The amendment passed by the Senate has been redrafted in respect of clauses 3, 4b (a) and 4c (2).
In respect of clause 3, following advice from the Draftsman, a new definition to cover meat inspection services and related expenses has been substituted for the definition of export meat inspection costs’. The definition given in the Opposition’s amendment was not considered by the Draftsman to be adequate. In respect of clauses 4b (a) and 4c (2) redrafting has been necessary for the following reasons:
Section 4b (a) stated the funds collected from the change were to be paid into the trust account. The correct procedure is for the funds collected from the charge, which are paid into Consoli dated Revenue, to be appropriated from Consolidated Revenue to the trust account. In view of the Opposition’s concern that the funds may be used for purposes other than those stated, provision has been made in the amendment for 2 trust accounts - one concerning meat inspection and the other concerning the eradication campaign. The Government’s amendment has been drafted so that the part of the charge related to meat inspection will be paid into the Meat Export Charge Trust Account and that part of the charge that is related to the campaign, 0.6c per lb, will be paid into the Eradication Trust Account.
Comments by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) on 24 October indicate that the Opposition would be prepared to accept the charge of .6c per lb if the Government were prepared to establish a trust account to ensure that all moneys were used for the purposes intended. It is assumed therefore that, in the light of the information provided on the estimated revenue and costs, and the fact that the Government has agreed to the establishment of a separate trust account, the Opposition will agree to the passage of the Bills without further delay.
– In view of the lateness of the hour I shall not delay the Committee other than to say that the Opposition is in accord with the explanation and the amendments as they are now framed. We are indebted to the Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory for his answer in relation to the preceding amendment with regard to compensation. We believe that the amendment as it is now presented will adequately protect the purposes for which the money is being collected and will enable the inspection services which are so necessary for the maintenance of our meat exports to be maintained and will also enable the eradication of bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis to be extended in a manner which the Opposition supports. For that reason, we believe that the Bill as it will be amended will meet the requirements of the industry. Again may I say that we are delighted that the Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory is presenting these amendments to the Bill and has given us a reasonable explanation of them, which I am afraid his predecessor, the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), failed to do.
– This further amendment which has been accepted by the Government is a good illustration of the value of an Opposition in a Parliament, especially when the Government exhibits so lamentable a lack of knowledge of its own legislation when it is first introduced and, on the other hand there is an Opposition well informed on the subject. This does result in better legislation with proper safeguards in relation to the trust funds for the moneys which will be raised by this levy. I am pleased to see that the Government has accepted the reasonable, constructive points put forward by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) in the course of the debate when this Bill was before the Committee earlier. We wish now to support it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported: report adopted.
Trade Unions- Strike action - Education
Motion (by Dr Patterson) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
- Mr Speaker, from earliest times, men have produced in order to live and, in later history, men have produced more in order to live better. Increased productivity - and there has throughout recorded history been increased productivity - has enabled real incomes to be increased and shorter hours to be worked or, alternatively, more holidays to be given. One wonders why this process is not possible at this moment in Australia. The answer is a very simple one: Our industrial potential has been frustrated by industrial troubles. At present, when inflation is pending over the community, this is of particular relevance. It would be irresponsible at this moment to decrease hours of work or significantly to increase real wages because such action would add to the cost of production and, if not accompanied by any increase in productivity, would result in higher prices.
Unfortunately, strikes have been widespread. The indirect effect of strikes has been compounded by the complexity of the industrial machine. As many people are dependent for their livelihood on some type of production. The cessation of work in even a small area can bring about large losses. So, the present wave of strikes and industrial disruption has been counter productive. Even from the point of view of the workers, it has made impossible the continuation of our advance towards higher real incomes and shorter hours of work, an advance which we would want to resume as soon as possible, that is, as soon as productivity makes it possible for us to do so without increasing prices.
Counter productive activity has come about not by chance. It has come about very largely because the trade union movement has fallen, in some regards, into extremist hands. I know that many members, even of the Government, are today worried at the extent of the advances of extremism in the trade union movement. These leftist leaders are not really trying to help members of their unions. They are trying to create misery. They are deliberately planning to lower living standards because they believe that by so doing they can produce a revolutionary situation, and they have decided to occupy sensitive pressure points in power generation and other places. Because they have worked in accordance with this plan they have been poisonously effective.
Why are the leftist leaders more effective now than they were last year? The answer unfortunately is a clear one. They are more effective now because they have great and powerful friends here in Canberra. Disrupters are emboldened because they know that they have nothing to fear from the present Government. I recall, for example, the statements made even this morning by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), who showed himself sympathetic to the disrupters. He encouraged them and emboldened them to go further forward.
I think of the quite numerous statements that have been made by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I know that some members of the Government are very leftist. I think that some others are just weak. This is reprehensible on menpart because they now know that they are wrong. But although they know that they are wrong, these weak people in the Australian Labor Party are unwilling or unable to withstand trade union pressures, and they go along with the Left.
This is how revolutions can be made. This is how a country can be betrayed by its own government. What is happening should be brought to the attention of every Australian. The present wave of strikes is gathering because behind it there is the wind of Government approval - sometimes tacit, sometimes explicit, but always there, compounded partly by the leftists in die Government and partly by the weak men in the Government who should know better and dare not stand up against what they know is wrong.
There can be no cessation of industrial troubles in Australia while the present Government remains in power. Things will get worse because of its weakness. We on this side do desire to resume the Australian national progress towards higher living standards, towards either the shortening of die working day or what I, for my part, consider far more desirable, namely an increase in the number of holidays. Surely these should be the objectives of everybody. But these objectives are now out of our reach because of what this Government has done or has failed to do.
While we have this ideology occupying one part of the Treasury bench and weakness occupying the other part, this process must continue. I invite the House, I invite the country, to consider the way in which responsible Ministers of me Government - I have named two but if one looked at the files one would find it possible to name a great many more than two - have given encouragement to the disrupters, have shown that they are on side with them and by so doing have betrayed the real interests of the people in the trade unions. I know that trade unionists are getting sick of this Government because it is handing them over to the disrupters and the extremists. They do not want this kind of thing to occur, and that is why the Government is losing so much support in so many places.
I believe that we should and will resume our Australian progress towards these higher living standards, towards these shorter hours of work, and we will be able to do it eventually without incurring - as we would if we did it now - the terrors of inflation. We will be able to do it because there will be a change of government which the country and the workers now need. There are from this side constructive alternatives. I do not have time to go into them now. I hope that perhaps very soon I will have an opportunity in this House of bringing forward some of the positive things which I believe can, should and will be done on the industrial front when we can get rid of the people who are at present pretending to be the friends of the workers and siding with their enemies.
– The contribution made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) was really so immature as to not deserve any serious consideration by the House. However, perhaps the record should be set straight. I think that this Parliament ought to try as far as possible to ensure that accuracy is the lodestar by which we act, particularly in serious matters such as industrial relations. The honourable gentleman seems to have the impression, or would convey the impression to the Australian people, that it was not until 2 December 1972 that there was any industrial trouble in this country.
– It was a lot less.
– Less, says the honourable member. The facts of the matter are that there is significantly very little difference if one looks at the total figures. In fact when one looks at the loss of production caused by the economic policies of the previous Government one finds that the loss through strikes pales into insignificance. A little over one million man days were lost last year through strikes. Through the unemployment policies of the previous Government about half a million man days were lost every week. So that Government lost as much in a fortnight through its disastrous economic policies as was lost in a whole year through all of the strikes which have occurred in the last 12 months.
The other thing which honourable members opposite conveniently overlook and which they were very keen to neglect during their almost quarter of a century in office is the loss of production caused through industrial accidents. Last year in New South Wales alone 1.9 million man days were lost through industrial accidents. Leaving aside the misery and suffering caused to the people who were injured in those accidents, the pure economic loss in
New South Wales alone was 1.9 million man days. If the honourable gentleman is sincere and believes that lost production ought to be attacked, why does he not speak about the negligence of employers which allowed such accidents to occur? I would like to hear him speak on that subject at some time. He would gain far more credit if he were to do so. But he is not interested. He is beset by this mania he has for seeing every strike as some kind of a left wing communist plot inspired from overseas.
I know that there are communists in the trade union movement. In fact I have seen more of them than the honourable gentleman ever will. What is more, he has talked about the problem; I have done something about it. It ill behoves him to stand up with his blanket brush approach and try to smear every member on this side of the House in the way he has done tonight. Let us look at the industrial problems of Australia in a sensible, intelligent light. It ought to be a non-political issue. All those who are sincere on the matter will appreciate that in this era, which did not start on 2 December last, a completely new situation in industrial relations is emerging. It calls for the considered opinion of all sections of this Parliament. This should not be approached on a party political basis. The honourable gentleman does nothing about that. He sees this problem as being designed, as he puts it, to get to a revolutionary situation. That is a whole lot of eyewash. It is a load of garbage to talk in this way. It is as far from the truth as one could possibly imagine.
A real problem is emerging through lack of communication and through workers having aspirations they wish to achieve in the shortest possible time. We have a real difficulty which must be faced. Let me say this to the honourable gentleman: His Party had a simple solution to industrial problems. It still has that solution. Honourable members opposite say that the answer to the problem is to continue with penal provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act; to apply sanctions against unions when there is an industrial dispute. I ask the honourable member to tell us when he stood up in this Parliament during the reign of the previous Government to ensure that the fines imposed by the Industrial Court were collected. Is it a fact that the previous Government refused to collect fines which were imposed? Of course it is a fact. Is it not also a fact that the previous Government changed the law to give the Industrial Court more discretion? Of course it is. There are still unpaid fines in this community because the honourable member and his colleagues knew that it was not the answer and that that concept was dead and could not possibly achieve industrial peace.
– Order! It being 1 1 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until 1 1 .30 a.m. tomorrow.
Mouse adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (l)and(2)
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The information soughtin respect of States is not presently available. The last survey which provided information of the kind sought by the honourable member was in 1969. Results of this survey are set out in booklet number 7 of the Women in the Workforce’ series, prepared by the Women’s Bureau of the previous Department of Labour and National Service.
There are 25Registered child care centres in the Northern Territory and 9 centres in the Australian Capital Territory.
No centres are subsidised in the Northern Territory. One of the centres in the Australian Capital Territory is subsidised under the provisions of the Child Care Act.
In all, 45 centres are approved for subsidy from the Australian Government under the recurrent grant provisions of the Child Care Act 1972.
In addition, Commonwealth Hostels ‘Ltd operates 11 child minding centres at various hostels for migrants. These centres are subsidised out of the Migrant Hostel subsidy paid to Hostels Ltd by the Department of Immigration.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
What action has he taken in respect of the submission of the Women’s Electoral Lobby entitled Aspects of Women in the Workforce’ which was presented on 21 May 1973.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As the honourable member may know, the submission to which he refers ranges over a large number of issues relating to women, including equal pay end equal opportunity in employment, maternity leave, and the training, vocational guidance and employment services available to women. On most of the issues raised in the submission significant progress has been made and considerable improvements brought about by this Government. The ILO Convention No.111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) has been ratified and we have established National and State Committees to eliminate improper discrimination and promote real equality of opportunity in employment and occupation. The Government has helped to achieve further progress toward the realisation of equal pay. The Government has also considerably extended the maternity provisions available to Australian Government employees and removed the age barrier to permanent appointment in the Service. The inquiry by the Advisory Committee on Commonwealth Employment Service Statistics, the proposed household incomes and expenditure patterns survey and the National Survey of Incomes for the Henderson Commission of Inquiry into Poverty, should all, among other things, lead to the provision of greater and better information about women in the labour force. I am effecting improvements to the Commonwealth Employment Service and vocational guidance services, planning the introduction of a National Training Scheme, and proposing to enhance and enlarge the role and functions of the Department of Labour’s Women’s (Bureau. I have given considerable attention to the matter of apprenticeship training and taken steps to greatly increase the opportunities available to all our young people.
Not all that the Women’s Electoral Lobby seek in their submission has been achieved but the progress we have made to improve the situation of women in the labour force is considerable, especially when viewed against the performance of the previous Government in these matters.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
A survey of the cost of funerals of social service pensioners as disclosed in claims for funeral benefits granted throughout Australia over a period of two weeks in February last was recently carried out by my Department. This survey showed the mean cost of the funerals was $331. In 38.5 per cent of the cases the cost was less than $300, in 40.5 per cent it was in the range of $300-399 and in 21 per cent it was $400 or more; in 5.5 per cent of cases the cost exceeded $500. A detailed report of the survey is expected to be available shortly.
I may add that the whole question of funeral benefits for deceased social service pensioners has been referred to the Advisory Council on Social Security/ Welfare for examination and advice.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistician is precluded by legislation from divulging information obtained from individual employers and trade unions concerning industrial disputes, so that it is not possible to provide the information sought about each strike or dispute.
asked the Minister for Immigration upon notice:
Will he list the activities of the New Settlers Federation which have given him cause for concern as expressed in his answer to my question No. 88 (Hansard, 31 May 1973 page 3031).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No. «.-e nature of the activities which have caused me concern would be known to the honourable member as a result of his experiences as a former Minister for Immigration.
Education: Pre-school Centres (Question No. 889)
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
Can he say what is the average annual cost in each State, excluding Government subsidy, of education and care of a child in a pre-school centre.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information is not available at this stage but it is expected that when the Australian Pre-Schools Committee is established as a Commission it will conduct surveys to establish measures of this kind.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
Can he say what is the average annual cost in each State, excluding Government subsidy, of full-time care in a registered child care centre if the age of the child is (a) up to 1 year, (b) between 1 year and 2 years, (c) between 2 and 3 years, and (d) between 3 and 5 years.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This information is not available. See answer to question No. 889. However, it is known that the cost of full day care for children under 2 years of age is considerably higher than for children above this age.
asked the Minister for Educa tion, upon notice:
Can be say what are the current building costs in each State to establish a child care centre for (a) 30 children, (b) 40 children, (c) SO children, (d) 60 children, (e) 70 children, (f) 80 children, (g) 90 children and (h) 100 children.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Costs of centres vary significantly depending on the cost of land and on the age range of children to be catered for. The honourable member may be interested in a recent tender of $139,000 for a new full day care centre in Sydney for 60 children aged 2-5 years and designed to the requirements of the Child Care Standards Committee. This figure does not include the cost of professional fees, land or equipment.
Pre-school Centres (Question No. 893)
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
Can he say what are the current building costs in each State to establish a pre-school centre for (a) 30 children, (b) 40 children, (c) 50 children, (d) 60 children, (e) 70 children, (f) 80 children, (g) 90 children and (h) 100 children.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It is expected that this kind of information will become available through the development of the Government’s new national pre-school policy which is to commence in 1974. In the meantime the information is not available.
Child Care and Pre-school Centres: Staff Salaries (Question No. 894)
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
Can he say what are the current range of salaries in each State of the following staff of child care or pre-school centres: (a) trained nursing sister, (b) kindergarten teacher, (c) mothercraft nurse with and without pre-school qualifications, (d) pre-school teacher and (e) untrained assistant.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The current range of salaries in each State which appear prima facie to be the relevant award rates and which are the latest available to my Department and to the Public Service Board are as follows:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice.
What was the expenditure by his Department on Press and television advertising in each of the countries which allows direct advertising for migrants in each of the half years 1971-72 and 1972-73.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following are details of the expenditure and countries in which direct advertising is permitted and in which my Department has advertised directly in the Press to attract migrants.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19731106_reps_28_hor86/>.